Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Breaking The Silence

About This Video

November 2004
Sharon's government is coming under increasing pressure to revive the stalled peace process. Even its soldiers have started criticising the occupation.

"We want Israeli society to wake up and know what's happening there," states former commander Yehuda Shaul. Like most young Israelis, Yehuda served in the army. But his experiences there left him angry and traumatised. Now, he's organised an exhibit of photographs and videos taken by soldiers in the Occupied territories. The aim is to force Israelis to recognise what's actually happening there and how it's damaging many soldiers. "This exhibition is about Israeli soldiers and how they come home after serving in Hebron," explains exhibition contributor Yonathon Boumfeld. "It's like they have a scratch in the brain." The most contentious part of the exhibit is a series of video testimonies from soldiers that include description of war crimes they committed. The soldiers face possible prison sentences for going public with their stories. But they refuse to be put off. More and more conscripts are coming forward with testimonies illustrating how they've been traumatised by their experiences. As exhibition organiser Avihai Sharon explains "We're not trying to ruin the army. We're trying to build the army back to what it's supposed to be."

A searing interview with Avichai Sharon and Noam Chayut, both veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces and members of Breaking the Silence. Sharon and Chayut served during the second intifada, an on-going bloodbath that has claimed the lives of over three thousand Palestinians and nine-hundred-fifty Israelis. After thorough introspection, these young men have chosen to speak out about their experiences as self-described "brutal occupiers of a disputed land." Producer: Sat Gwin

Alternate Focus is available on the Dish Network, Free Speech TV, Channel 9415, Saturdays at 8:00pm EST and on cable stations near you. Check www.alternatefocus.org for details.

How TV works

Dr. MercolaDr. Mercola's Comments:
Regular newsletter readers know that I am no fan of television, but I am obviously in the minority here in the United States. The average American watches nearly FIVE HOURS of TV a day. This is more than the amount of time I spend in front of a TV in a month, and more than 90 percent of my TV time is spent watching health videos I need to review.

Imagine what you could do if you cut out TV and suddenly had five extra hours in your day to do something productive, good for yourself (exercise!), creative... or maybe simply to relax!

Beyond the time it takes up, though, is the very real impact it has on your brain. As the video alludes, TV is one of the most powerful brainwashing devices there is.

Every year between the food industry and drug companies well over $50 billion is spent on marketing messages to U.S. consumers to influence their food and medication choices. The majority (75 percent) of commercial network television time is paid for by the 100 largest corporations in North America. Some of these companies even have budgets in the billions, and not surprisingly these budgets have the power to influence TV producers to create television that suits their agendas.

And, frequently, these agendas are not aligned with your best interests.

If you do choose to watch TV, even the network news, you must constantly ask yourself who is trying to “sell” you something. But be warned, these corporations are spending large amounts of money to seduce you, so even the most conscious person may not be immune to the messages.

TV itself is not intrinsically evil, and there clearly are many great shows out there, but the KEY is to NEVER watch the commercials. So if you have a TiVO or only watch DVDs you will radically reduce the media’s influence over you. I have been doing this for the last 15 years, and it is one of the reasons why I have been able to get so much done.

I simply do not waste time in front of the TV. As I said earlier, I probably watch less than five hours of non-commercial TV or DVDs per MONTH; typically an hour once a week provides enough passive entertainment for me.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

US congress to honour Dalai Lama

US plays down decision to honour Dalai Lama

Washington, (PTI): In the face of Chinese opposition, the US has played down its decision to honour the Dalai Lama, saying it regards the Tibetan leader only as "spiritual leader" of his people.

The Nobel laureate, who China regards as a "separatist", will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the US Congress' highest civilian honour, at Capitol Hill next Wednesday.

President George W Bush, who is scheduled to attend the award ceremony with his wife, will personally meet the Dalai Lama at the White House a day before the event.

A spokesperson for the Chinese government had earlier said Beijing was resolutely opposed to the awarding of the Medal to the Tibetan leader.

China is opposed to any country or person using the Dalai Lama issue to interfere in its internal affairs, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Liu Jianchao, said.

However, State Department Deputy spokesman, Tom Casey, said Friday that the US regards the Dalai Lama as a "spiritual leader of his people and someone who has inspired many individuals."

"As far as I know, there is nothing about the decision by the Congress to award this medal to him that changes that basic view," he said while admitting that China had raised the "issue" with Washington "from time to time.""But again, I think what our response generally is that we regard the Dalai Lama as a very important and significant spiritual leader and that is how we treat his visits here to the United States," Casey said.

Why Commercial News Sucks

Why Does Commercial News Suck?

Posted September 16, 2007 | 10:27 AM (EST)

This week, I watched the same piece of information reported on commercial TV and PBS. At 6:30, NBC's Brian Williams went into shocked-and-breathless mode to announce that American life expectancy had hit a whopping 77.9 years. Then at 7:00, I heard Jim Lehrer calmly announce the same fact and put it in context. While this is the highest life expectancy the US has yet achieved, it falls behind 40 other nations. The context changes everything. If you were watching Brian Williams, you'd be popping the champagne corks. If you were watching Jim Lehrer, you'd be contemplating moving to Costa Rica--one of several third world countries with longer life expectancies than the US.

The Brian Williams sound bite--which sounded like a press release from the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984--would be like Agence France-Presse touting the French economy's 1% growth rate. France's economy has indeed been growing steadily since World War II, but the central issue is why France's growth is so much slower than peer countries like Ireland, Sweden, and the United States. At least in France, for all its problems, they debate the real issues. Here, for lack of information and context, we don't.

Why not? There are a few theories:

1) People love fake news. No, I'm not talking about The Daily Show; I'm talking about FOX. Many Americans want to hear good news, and that's what FOX gives them. Tune in to FOX, and you'll hear, for example, that we're winning in Iraq. And as the older commercial networks try to compete with FOX, which has better ratings, many have slipped into an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em strategy where they try to give people just as much fake news.

2) Self-interested corporate media. This one's a tad conspiratorial for my taste, but here's how it goes. The commercial networks are run by giant corporations which have never been more profitable. They need to keep people feeling either satisfied or powerless so nothing really changes. GE owns NBC. It pays Brian Williams's paycheck. It's also in the healthcare business. I know because I use their dental plan. So if word got out that the US had third world levels of life expectancy while spending far more than even its fellow wealthy countries on healthcare, people might dump the corporate healthcare system that GE's profiting off of (those profit margins are a big reason we pay more than everyone else). So GE's news division's job isn't to keep people informed, but to keep people happy--to "manufacture consent," as Noam Chomsky puts it.

I'm more sympathetic to theory #1 than #2, but I'd love to hear what readers think. And one caveat: pundits love to say it's either A or B--just watch The McLaughlin Group--when, in fact, it can be both. For example, are we in Iraq because of the oil or because of naïve neo-con theories about freedom or because the evangelicals think they're bringing on Armageddon and the Second Coming? I'd say all three. For Cheney, it's about oil; for Bush, it's about Jesus; and for Wolfowitz, it's about neo-conservative ideology. They don't all have to agree on the reasons, they only have to agree on a policy.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Noam Chomsky Interviewed By Riz Khan

Prominent intellectual Noam Chomsky gives his views on the Iraq war and other issues.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Autistic Savant Man - Kim Peek

This man inspired the movie "Rain Man" starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

well worth the time to find out more about this man.

Hardball: Mario Cuomo Describes Congress...

Mario Cuomo cuts through all the political spin and gives the unvarnished truth. His condemnation for Congress for their naivety and willingness to give up their responsibilities to an untrustworthy administration makes me wish again for Cuomo on the national scene.

Democrats and Republicans have the same agenda since they mostly all belong to the Council on Foreign Relations. They get together and say to one another, " I'll be good cop this week, and you'll be bad cop. " This is exactly why nothing ever gets done except the Council on Foreign Relations agenda.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

LOOK, THE SYSTEM IS FINISHED! Hedge Funds About to be Hit with Billions in Withdrawals

September 27, 2007 (LPAC)--More residue floating up after the shockwave of the financial collapse.

Hedge funds are about to be hit with several billion dollars in withdrawals because of the huge hedge fund losses in August. These losses will be magnified through hedge-fund derivatives, for which the investors themselves have often borrowed 80% of the money put up.

Fund-linked derivatives will finish their quarterly reviews by the end of next week, the Financial Times reports. Because the investments are leveraged with borrowed money, the rules the investment banks have created for them require automatic withdrawals if there are losses. Big withdrawals could create crises at funds which are invested in illiquid assets, and lead to further selling pressure on hedge funds.

Aren't we glad the universe is lawful


Bush, Clinton, Bush...Clinton?

By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press WriterFri Sep 28, 4:11 PM ET

Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that?

With Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to tack another four or eight "Clinton" years on to the Bush-Clinton-Bush presidential pattern that already has held sway for two decades, talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate.

The dominance of the two families in U.S. presidential politics is unprecedented. (The closest comparisons are the father-son presidencies of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, whose single terms were separated by 24 years, and the presidencies of fifth cousins Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, whose collective 20 years as president were separated by a quarter-century.)

"We now have a younger generation and middle-age generation who are going to think about national politics through the Bush-Clinton prism," said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer, 37, whose first chance to vote for president was 1988, the year the first President Bush was elected. And as for the question of fatigue, Zelizer added: "It's not just that we've heard their names a lot, but we've had a lot of problems with their names."

And now, if Hillary Clinton were to be elected and re-elected, the nation could go 28 years in a row with the same two families governing the country. Add the elder Bush's terms as vice president, and that would be 36 years straight with a Bush or Clinton in the White House.

Already, for 116 million Americans, there has never been a time when there wasn't a Bush or Clinton in the White House, either as president or vice president.

Does a nation of 303 million people really have only two families qualified to run the show?

David Gergen, director of Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership and an adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, said there does seem to be concern about the possibility of giving "the two dynasties" another four or eight years.

"I think we would be fundamentally healthier if we broadened the zone of candidates who could make it to the top," he said.

Historically, politics has been open to newcomers who rise up to reflect the grass-roots sentiment of the country, Gergen said.

That's still possible, he said, "but it's harder than it used to be, especially because it's so hard to raise money" for expensive national campaigns.

The Clintons and Bushes, he said, have built up strong "brand" recognition for their names — just as the Kennedys did in an age of promise cut short by assassination — making it harder for newcomers to compete.

But sometimes, people just want to try something new.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken over the summer found that fully one-quarter of all Americans said that the prospect of having at least 24 straight years of a President Clinton or Bush would be a consideration in their vote for president in 2008.

Even among Democrats, 17 percent said it would be a consideration. That compared with a third of all Republicans.

The nation has changed dramatically since the first Bush claimed the Oval Office in 1988: Then, the Soviet Union was exploring the notion of perestroika, a public Internet was a promise waiting to be fulfilled, gasoline cost about $1 a gallon and Hillary Clinton was an associate still hoping to make partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark.

Clinton, now a two-term senator at age 59, has been asked about the long-standing Bush-Clinton grip on the Oval Office at two Democratic debates, and has a two-part response. She dumps on the Bush part of the historical equation and praises the Clinton component.

Asked in the CNN/YouTube debate in July whether adding another President Clinton to the Bush-Clinton-Bush sequence would bring about real change, Clinton had a ready comeback.

"Well, I think it is a problem that Bush was elected in 2000," she offered. "I actually thought somebody else was elected in that election."

When the question came up again in this week's debate in New Hampshire, she told the audience, "I thought Bill was a pretty good president."

She hastened to add that she's running on her own, and "I'm going to the people on my own."

Gergen said any fatigue factor Clinton faces is "overwhelmed by the positive nostalgia for Bill Clinton among Democrats."

The thought is seconded by Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism who has written a new book about national politics. He said that while some people are bothered by the dominance of the two families, "right now there is one massive fatigue in America and that is with George Bush. No other fatigue comes close."

But even if the issue is not a problem for Clinton, Gitlin said: "Is it a problem in some large sense that we seem to be alternating dynasties? Yes, I think democracy should be more expansive."

How long could this dynastic dynamic play itself out?

"Keep an eye on their children," Gergen quips.

And, there's always presidential brother Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. His oldest son, George P. Bush, is considered likely to carry the family's political tradition into the next generation.

A Bush-Bush ticket for 2012? By George!


Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

WH Press Briefing October 2, 2007

Dana Perino White House press briefing for October 2, 2007


Intimate Enemies

Author: Michael Doran
February 18, 2004The Washington Post

Last week U.S. authorities in Iraq revealed the contents of a memo purportedly written by Abu Musab Zarqawi, an al Qaeda operative. This remarkable document calls for sparking a sectarian war in Iraq to wake sleepy Sunni Muslims to the threat of destruction and death at the hands of Shiites. The letter, even if it is a forgery, faithfully expresses al Qaeda's attitude toward sectarianism, and it should help convince Americans of how deep the Sunni-Shiite conflict is in the Persian Gulf.
Many Sunnis, especially religious extremists, hate Shiites more than they hate Israel. Al Qaeda's basic credo puts the matter bluntly: "We believe that the Shiites are . . . the most evil creatures under the heavens." Sectarian tension is woven into day-to-day life in a number of Gulf societies. It's a well-known fact that in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the Shiites, though a numerical majority, were second-class citizens. But few Americans know that a similar imbalance exists in Bahrain, where the Sunni-dominated state rules a society that is 75 percent Shiite. Next door in Saudi Arabia, the Shiites make up a much smaller percentage of the total population (10 to 15 percent), but they are concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province. This sectarian geography has prompted at least one prominent Saudi cleric to call for the "ethnic cleansing" of the Shiites.
Optimists in Washington have argued that the establishment of representative government in Iraq will have a kind of democratic domino effect. Zarqawi's war plan, however, forces us to recognize another possibility: a successful U.S. policy could also lead to sectarian conflict. Democracy in Baghdad would spell Shiite domination over the Iraqi system. This prospect is a bitter one for some Sunnis in surrounding countries, and al Qaeda is working to exploit the resentment. We can already read the writing on the wall in Saudi Arabia, which must be considered -- after Iraq itself -- as al Qaeda's primary target.
When it comes to Shiites and their aspirations, the radicals of al Qaeda and the Saudi religious establishment have identical views: Shiites are the intimate enemy. They dwell among the Sunnis and outwardly make a show of friendship and brotherhood. Inwardly, they will stop at nothing to destroy their sectarian rivals.
The current international crisis, many Saudis believe, is providing the Shiites with an opportunity to do just that. Even before Hussein's regime fell, the story of Ibn Alqami was circulating in Saudi religious circles. A Shiite minister to the last Abbasid caliph, Alqami betrayed his ruler by conspiring with Hulagu, the Mongol leader who in 1258 sacked Baghdad and destroyed the Abbasid Empire, the flower of Islamic civilization. Over the past year, Sunni religious conservatives have habitually referred to George Bush as Hulagu II. The moment that U.S.-led forces turned their guns toward Iraq, Sunnis began to ask in reference to the Iraqi Shiites, "Will the grandchildren of Ibn Alqami follow in their grandfather's footsteps?" When the Iraqi Shiites erupted in joy at the fall of Hussein's regime, their Sunni detractors lamented that once again Baghdad was toppled from within.
The Shiites of Saudi Arabia are also viewed as exploiting the crisis to extract concessions from embattled Sunnis. Thus, three weeks after Hussein fell, they petitioned Crown Prince Abdullah for equal rights. (Saudi Shiites do not enjoy basic religious freedoms.) That the crown prince would even so much as read the petition aroused deep feelings of resentment among traditionalists. It fell to Safar Hawali, an influential cleric, to vent the feelings of indignation. In an indirect rebuke to the crown prince, Hawali wrote that God's law requires suppressing the Shiite heresy. Were the government to grant such a request, he wrote, "it would lose its legitimacy, place the majority under a tyranny in the interest of the minority, and contravene the constitution of the country."
So far, the crown prince has not bowed to Safar Hawali's demands. Abdullah continues to entertain the Shiite proposals within the framework of his "National Dialogue," a series of political discussions that may yet grow into a serious reform movement. Al Qaeda condemns the crown prince's project, precisely because it includes blasphemous groups such as the Shiites. For its part, the Saudi religious establishment refrains from directly criticizing either Abdullah or his National Dialogue. But it does not shrink from launching indirect attacks along the lines of Hawali's rebuke.
For instance, in early January, 156 clerics signed a petition decrying the editing of Saudi textbooks. The government has already deleted passages attesting to the eternal enmity of Christians and Jews toward Islam, and reformers are calling for even more changes to bring the country in harmony with the West. In language identical to al Qaeda denunciations of the National Dialogue, the petition depicts the proposals for a new curriculum as an anti-Islamic plot orchestrated by Crusaders, Jews and Shiites. A close reading of the petition reveals that it is not simply a protest against textbook changes but an oblique attack on the National Dialogue itself.
Several weeks ago al Qaeda published an article that discussed the likelihood of a violent blow to the United States that would also destabilize Saudi Arabia. Zarqawi's sectarian bloodbath is undoubtedly the kind of event that the author had in mind. A rise in Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq would inevitably inflame passions in Saudi Arabia. The ensuing turmoil would create conditions that, at the very least, would promote the anti-reform agenda that al Qaeda shares with the Saudi religious establishment. It might even shake the regime itself.
Contrary to what some believe, it is not only the authoritarian elites who regard democracy as a threat.