You can find all the details you need at this link.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
You can find all the details you need at this link.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
During the protest movements to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, I had a similar fantasy. I fantasized that President Barack Obama had called that nation's military leaders and said the following: We give you $1.3 billion in military aid each year, don't use those weapons against the people in Tahrir Square or we will cut you off.
Of course, as some people who know me might say, I sometimes live in a fantasy world. Yet it does seem that the above fantasies might have a grain of truth to them, or at least one can hope so. But for them to be true, it would have been necessary for Barack Obama to muster up a bit of courage. So when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements--making it the only one of 15 countries that voted against the resolution, with no abstentions--it really brought me down to earth. Because it reminded me that Obama does not have the courage to do such things, and that his entire presidency has become one based on fear and loathing in the bowels of the White House.
It is interesting to compare some of the U.S. media news coverage of this travesty. The New York Times account was fairly factual and straightforward, but it only briefly mentioned the position that the European Union had taken in favor of the resolution, and generally played down the attitudes of those 14 other countries. The Times article focused mostly on the arguments of the Palestinians, who had pushed hard for the resolution and--something that may eventually bode well for the "peace process" despite America running interference for the Israel right-wing once again--detailed the contradictory U.S. position, which is essentially that it is against settlements but also against anyone doing anything about it (this is disguised in the absurd position that it is a matter for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, when in fact it is a matter of international law.)
In the U.K.'s Guardian, however, we were able to actually read about what other nations, including some of America's closest allies, were saying on the matter. This is worth quoting in some detail:
Friday, February 18, 2011
Curtis Cost, author of "Vaccines Are Dangerous" and an associated blog, demonstrated his ignorance of the HIV field by posting an item about a 1997 study by Nancy Padian, an AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. The title of Cost's post is "Dr. Nancy Padian Study Proves HIV Is Not Sexually Transmitted."
You have to read the post, and the paper (which can be found at this link on Cost's blog), to see how fully and totally Cost misrepresents it. In fact, the study comes to the exact opposite conclusion, and also provides evidence that condoms are very effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Cost's post says that this study was "discussed" at the recent Harlem AIDS Forum 2, although it is not clear what was said about it. But to know what Nancy Padian says about the stunning misuse of her work by AIDS denialists, one need go no further than this link:
Indeed, mis-citing the Padian paper is apparently a common scam by AIDS denialists too dishonest to use actual scientific arguments for their case. And Cost, who claims to be concerned about the effects that vaccines and AIDS tests have on the African-American community, actually poses a serious danger to that community by misrepresenting Padian's work to argue that heterosexual transmission of HIV is some kind of myth--thus by implication discouraging the use of condoms and other protections.
The AIDS denialists can't win on the science, so they use lies. Thus it has been from the beginning of the AIDS denialist movement, thus it continues today.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
CHEDDAR GORGE, UNITED KINGDOM—How do you make a drinking cup out of a human skull? It's fairly easy if you have some sharp tools—and a strong stomach. Scalp the head; remove the ears, eyes, lower jaw, and other pesky parts; and buff the jagged edges. Voilà! You've got a skull cup fit to toast your friends or your enemies.
Photo: Natural History Museum, London
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Obama administration, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been telling us for days that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shouldn't be forced to resign right now. Why? Because according to the Egyptian constitution, elections would have to be held within 60 days, and that's too soon for free and fair elections to be organized. In other words, perhaps without realizing it, the administration is echoing Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman's comments that his fellow citizens are not yet ready for democracy.
The administration's new-found respect for the rule of law in Egypt would sound more sincere if it had earlier protested against police torture of dissidents and other human rights abuses that I doubt are permitted by the nation's constitution. I wonder if Obama, Clinton, their immediate circle have even read the Egyptian constitution. But other scholars have, and they have also pointed out the illegitimacy of a constitution that was written by a dictatorship in its own interests. One of the most interesting commentaries on the constitutional issues was published recently in Foreign Affairs by Nathan Brown, a professor of political science at George Washington University. Brown agrees that the constitution says what Clinton et al. say it says, but he goes much further in laying out the options:
Update: A paragraph from a New York Times story today by David Kirkpatrick, reporting that the pro-democracy movement is gaining strength as labor unions go out on strike: As reports filtered in of strikes and unrest spreading to other parts of the city and the country, the government seemed to dig in deeper. Mr. Mubarak’s handpicked successor, Vice President Omar Suleiman, warned Tuesday that the only alternative to constitutional talks was a “coup” and added: “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.” In other words, Suleiman is threatening a bloodbath if the movement does not disband. This is the man that Obama and Clinton want Egyptians to trust to make the transition to democracy? Fortunately, the movement is so strong now that Mubarak and Suleiman will soon be swept aside, and American diplomacy will be left empty-handed.
This so-called stability encompasses millions of Arabs living under criminal regimes and evil tyrannies. In stable Saudi Arabia, the women are regarded as the lowest of the low; in stable Syria, any sign of opposition is repressed; in stable Jordan and Morocco, the apple of the eye of the West and Israel, people are frightened to utter a word of criticism against their kings, even in casual coffee-shop conversations. Please read it all.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The reasons for their waffling are many, but it apparently all boils down to concerns over "stability"--a euphemism for fears that Egyptians will decide themselves who their leaders are going to be rather than being content with yet another dictatorial or authoritarian regime sympathetic to U.S. and Israeli interests. I would like to think that Barack Obama knows better in his heart, so what is his abject cowardice in the face of these historical events based on? Fear of what Sarah Palin might say if the Muslim Brotherhood gets to play a role in the new government? Fear that he might lose his bid for re-election if the right-wing could claim that he "lost" Egypt?
Whatever the case, if the government cracks down on the movement, which they will indeed do if it falters for lack of international support, Obama and Clinton will have blood on their hands. Come to think of it, they already do, since until the pro-democracy movement began they were content to simply continue decades of U.S. support for the Mubarak regime.
PS--Oh, believe it or not, presidents can resign. Remember Richard Nixon?
Monday, February 7, 2011
One of the most important organizations fighting against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, Jewish Voice for Peace, finally got the recognition it deserved from the New York Times the other day, in an article entitled "A Jewish Group Makes Waves, Locally and Abroad," by Daniel Ming and Aaron Glantz. As a sometimes advocacy journalist, especially where political issues are involved, I am proud to be a member of JVP's New York chapter.
The video above is a montage from JVP's December 10 nation-wide events in furtherance of its campaign to get TIAA-CREF to divest its pension funds from corporations involved in the Israeli occupation--most notably Caterpillar, which provides most of the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes and other buildings.
By the way, although JVP is made up mostly of Jews fed up with Israeli policies, non-Jews are most definitely welcome in the organization. I hope you will consider joining.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured at right with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak) has expressed his fears that Islamic extremists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, could come to power, thus ending the cosy relationship between Egypt and Israel. This relationship has kept U.S. military aid ($1.5 billion/year) pouring into Egypt and has been pivotal in keeping the people of Gaza under lock and key.
Yet while Barack Obama has been smart enough to embrace the tide of events in Egypt, and is now pretty much telling Mubarak that he has to go--a move that will strengthen the hand of democratically-minded Egyptians--Israel just can't help but reveal its preference that nothing had happened and that Mubarak had stayed in power. This viewpoint was well expressed in an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times by Yossi Klein Halevi, entitled "Israel, Alone Again?" (Interestingly, the title of the link comes up "Islamists at the Gate" on my browser tab, which may have been its original--and perhaps more appropriate--title.)
Halevi leads off with these hopeful thoughts:
ISRAELIS want to rejoice over the outbreak of protests in Egypt’s city squares. They want to believe that this is the Arab world’s 1989 moment. Perhaps, they say, the poisonous reflex of blaming the Jewish state for the Middle East’s ills will be replaced by an honest self-assessment.
But the rest of the piece tells us that this is very unlikely to happen, and that a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Of course, this might be wishful thinking on the part of many Israelis, and certainly Israeli leaders, because if Egypt became a democracy--or at least more democratic--Israel would be denied one more excuse not to make peace with the Palestinians and give them back their stolen land.
As things stand now, there is no real reason to think that the Muslim Brotherhood will become the dominant power in Egypt. But if does, it will be thanks in large part to the Israeli and American direct support for Mubarak's suppression of democratic forces all these years, and Mubarak's tolerance of and complicity with Israeli policies. One would think that Israelis would be smart enough now to embrace the revolution underway in Egypt, in hopes that their support of the Egyptian people at this historic moment might pay dividends down the line. Some Israelis are that smart, but they are not to be found among the nation's leaders nor among its apologists.
Update: Tom Friedman also cautions Israel about its misguided attitudes in a Times op-ed piece today. I like his conclusion: "There is a huge storm coming, Israel. Get out of the way."