Consider the Consequences of Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Power Plants, and Pray


The US government has recently increased the belligerence of its tone towards Iran.

A string of reports in a variety of newspapers suggest war is on the way: the Mail & Guardian April 1, the Rutland Herald April 4, the Telegraph April 7, the International Herald Tribune April 11, the Washington Post April 12, the Washington Times April 16, the Progressive April 24, the Santa Monica Mirror April 24, Asia Times April 25, the International Herald Tribune April 25, the Toronto Star April 25, the Christian Science Monitor April 25, the Washington Post April 26, the Washington Times April 26, First Post April 26, Los Angeles Times April 26, the Washington Times April 26, and the Telegraph April 26.

Two offensive aircraft carriers fleets are now on station near Iran and another is reportedly en route. In late March, Saudi Arabia practiced how it will
cope with nuclear fallout following a US attack on Iran. In early April, Israel practiced how it will cope with retaliatory missiles following a US attack on Iran. Everyone in the region is getting ready for the bombing of Iran’s nuclear power plant and enrichment facilities. Iran, too, is ready for war.

The US is said to have 10,000 targets in Iran. Primary among these are all nuclear facilities, including the nuclear power plant at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf coast near Kuwait, and the nuclear enrichment facilities in Natanz near Esfahan. Bushehr is an industrial city, with nearly 1 million residents. As many as 70,000 foreign engineers work in the region, which includes a large gas field. Natanz is Iran’s primary enrichment site, north of Esfahan, which also has nuclear research facilities. Esfahan is a world heritage city with a population of 2 million.

Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor has 82 tons of enriched uranium (U235) now loaded into it, according to Israeli and Chinese news reports. The plant is scheduled to become operational this summer, producing electricity. The Natanz enrichment facility is operating a full capacity, enriching uranium for use in reactors according to IAEA reports.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the uranium 235 used in nuclear reactors has a half life of 700 million years. As nuclear reactor fuel is used, it turns into uranium 238, which has a half life of 4.5 billion years. These radioactive isotopes are dangerous to health because they emit alpha particles and because they are chemically toxic. When inhaled, they damage lung tissue. When ingested, they damage kidneys and cause cancer in bones and in liver tissues. According to a recent review of medical research, uranium exposure causes babies to be deformed or born dead.

Never in history has it happened that nuclear power plants and nuclear enrichment facilities have been deliberately bombed. Such facilities, everywhere in the world, operate under severe safety conditions because the release of radioactive materials is deadly, immediately and also long after exposure. If the USA or Israel deliberately bomb a fully fueled nuclear power plant or nuclear fuel enrichment facilities, containment will be breached; radioactive elements will be released into the environment. There will be horrific deaths for families in the surrounding vicinity. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated 3 million deaths would result in 3 weeks from bombing the nuclear enrichment facilities near Esfahan, and the contamination would cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to India.

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punditman says...File this one under the "Kiss our collective asses goodbye file." Unfortunately, I believe, as outlined in this article, that even the worst nightmare scenarios are possible as long as the Bushite criminals remain in charge of US ship of state. The word needs to go out: No War on Iran!

More than 100,000 sign petition to save journalist held in Afghanistan

By Jerome Starkey


The Independent's petition to save the Afghan student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh from the gallows has collected a staggering 100,000 signatures as the 23-year-old languishes in a cell in Kabul awaiting appeal.

Mr Kambaksh was arrested for distributing a pamphlet about women's rights, and tried and convicted without a defence lawyer, in a closed court in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. His case led to international protests, led by the UN human rights chief, Louise Arbour, and Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State.

Last night, Mr Kambaksh's brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, thanked The Independent's army of readers around the world. "If it wasn't for the petition we would be alone. There are a lot of pressures inside Afghanistan from the fundamentalists. They are trying to execute my brother," he said. "Fortunately, against them, there is pressure from the international community, and The Independent petition. I really believe it will help us."

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Remember, this Afghan government (under Hamid Karzai) are supposedly the "good guys" who deserve Western support--not to mention our treasure and the blood of our youth. So why, then, is Mr Kambaksh languishing in prison? Is this the sort of human rights and "democracy" we are supporting? A government where the rule of law remains a joke? From the article: "A moratorium on capital punishment ended last year when President Karzai ordered a mass execution." No wonder Bush likes him.


Sound The Alarm - Yell Fire!

punditman says...Who said the anti-war movement is dead? It is not so much that the people are silent, it's that the corporate media are deaf!


Petraeus promotion an ominous sign of possible war with Iran

by Farrah Hassen


The promotion of Gen. David Petraeus is another ominous sign that the Bush administration may attack Iran.

President Bush is nominating Petraeus, Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, to replace Adm. William Fallon as head of Centcom: U.S. Central Command, which oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fallon was forced to resign last month after his outspoken opposition to an attack on Iran. Petraeus, by contrast, has been heating up the rhetoric against Iran.

Full Article...


Petraeus Promotion Frees Cheney to Threaten Iran

by Gareth Porter

The nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be the new head of the Central Command not only ensures that he will be available to defend the George W. Bush administration's policies toward Iran and Iraq at least through the end of Bush's term and possibly even beyond.

It also gives Vice President Dick Cheney greater freedom of action to exploit the option of an air attack against Iran during the administration's final months.

Petraeus will take up the CENTCOM post in late summer or early fall, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The ability of the administration to threaten Iran with an attack both publicly and behind the scenes had been dramatically reduced in 2007 by opposition from the former CENTCOM commander, Adm. William Fallon, until he stepped down from the post under pressure from Gates and the White House last month.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...The Bush/Cheney administration will push anyone aside who challenges their agenda. According to the article, Admiral William Fallon's frustration about General Petraeus' de facto power over Middle East policy was the main reason he was ready to step down--an ominous development if you happen to live in Iran.


Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand


In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Well worth the full read if you have any interest at all in the media-industrial-military complex. When you see so-called "experts" on TV, always check out who butters their bread. This applies to all topics on all networks throughout the known universe.


Punditman in Pain

Punditman has some cracked or badly bruised ribs from a hockey injury. He has decided to take a few days off from monitoring the international insanity and will post again when he feels up to it.

UPDATE: 4/20 (Ouch! That's Hitler's Birthday. So reflect for a moment on the massive evil. Now read on...)

Below is an explanation of the "event" of my injury for the curious, the hockey-minded and for those who may one day suffer a similar fate.

(Note: In these days of creeping fascism and prevalent social and economic decay, the mind quickly conjures numerous scenarios that may result in a cracked rib or two: truncheon blows, jackboot kicks, rubber bullets, jumping out your window after the bank forecloses, tripping over your stockpile of lima beans, leaping from a helicopter into some landing zone in the middle of some oil-rich nation; Feel free to create your own list).

So, consider this a public service announcement or perhaps a harbinger of your imminent future.

After decades of playing hockey, including some high-calibre, full-contact-minor hockey and lots of non-contact old timers' and recreational pick-up, pond and shinny hockey--I've never had this kind of injury; never can I recall hitting the boards with such force. How did this happen? And what can be done, in case you, dear reader, are maimed in a comparable manner?

I am glad you asked...

As I recall, the puck was in their zone and we had just lost control after "cycling it down low." My source of harm and ruin (who is 284 pounds) then did the unexpected: instead of high-tailing it up ice as he gained control of the puck, he peeled back within his own zone--into Yours Truly--as similarly, I tried to regain possession. I am told we were both moving at a decent pace and he must have caught me off balance. (The problem with non-contact hockey is that you can be lulled into the bad habit of not expecting to be hit and, even if this happens for a millisecond, it can have dire consequences). Kids, always expect to be plowed into the boards! Anyway, his shoulder hit mine--which would have been fine in and of itself--had it not catapulted me into the boards.

This injury is often caused as one braces one's self for sudden impact, which is what I did when I hit the boards. My left elbow went into my side as my left shoulder hit the boards. The doc said probable crack, maybe more than one rib, or they are very badly bruised.

They are reticent to do x-rays. I didn't ask, but I suspect it is not so much because of superfluous radiation, and despite lots of evidence that x-rays increase cancer rates, I would not be surprised if many MDs think that only flaky-new-age-earth-muffin-hippie-Luddites believe that each x-ray or CT scan you receive may significantly increase your cancer risk. The reason for no x-ray, I was told, was because what they do for cracked ribs is Nothing. So as long as you can gasp a few breaths, don't expect your cracked costa to ever be seen by a radiologist--that is, if the hospital happens to have a radiologist on duty. Rural folk take note.

Nope, you only get an x-ray if they detect a lung puncture, (I passed the lung test), if it is work-related and you want to file a claim for workers' compensation or if you are thinking of suing someone. Or, I might add, you are a professional athlete and your franchise wants to know when your multi-millionaire butt will be back in the lineup. Did I mention that I don't play in the NHL?

So, no x-ray, no matter. The doc said it takes six weeks for any bone to heal 80%. The worst part is clearing my throat, coughing, deep breaths, sneezing (allergy season arrived in perfect synchronicity with Friday's fateful puck pursuit) -- and laughing!

The drugs are doing sweet ~@*$-all!

Just past the hooch, I guess. I think I will watch Mad Max.



Setting the Propaganda Stage for an Attack on Iran: American Hegemony Is Not Guaranteed

Exactly as the British press predicted, last week's congressional testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and Green Zone administrator Ryan Crocker set the propaganda stage for a Bush regime attack on Iran. On April 10 Robert H. Reid of AP News reported: "The top US commander has shifted the focus from al-Qaida to Iranian-backed 'special groups' as the main threat . . . The shift was articulated by Gen. Petraeus who told Congress that 'unchecked, the special groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.'"

According to the neocon propaganda, the "special groups" (have you ever heard of them before?) are breakaway elements of al Sadr's militia.

Nonsensical on its face, the Petraeus/Crocker testimony is just another mask in the macabre theatre of lies that the Bush regime has told in order to justify its wars of naked aggression against Muslims.

Fact #1: Al Sadr is not allied with Iran. He speaks with an Iraqi voice and has his militia under orders to stand down from conflict. The Badr militia is the Shi'ite militia that is allied with Iran. Why did the US and its Iraqi puppet Maliki attack al Sadr's militia and not the Badr militia or the breakaway elements of Sadr's militia that allegedly now operate as gangs?

Fact #2: The Shi'ite militias and the Sunni insurgents are armed with weapons available from the unsecured weapon stockpiles of Saddam Hussein's army. If Iran were arming Iraqis, the Iraqi insurgents and militias would have armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles. These two weapons would neutralize the US advantage by enabling Iraqis to destroy US helicopter gunships, aircraft and tanks. The Iraqis cannot mass their forces as they have no weapons against US air power. To destroy US tanks, Iraqis have to guess the roads US vehicles will travel and bury bombs constructed from artillery shells. The inability to directly attack armor and to defend against air attack denies offensive capability to Iraqis.

If the Iranians desired to arm Iraqis, they obviously would provide these two weapons that would change the course of the war.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Since when did the Bush regime let the facts get in the way of a good opportunity to lie?


Bush Regime Normalcy

Arrogant Lies



Last month:

"an Egyptian citizen was killed when a [US] Navy-contracted ship fired warning shots at approaching motorboats in the Suez Canal. The United States Embassy in Cairo and the Navy initially maintained that, according to the security team aboard the ship, there had been no casualties. But on Wednesday, an embassy statement said it "appears that an Egyptian in the boat was killed by one of the warning shots." - Associated Press, March 27.

That report wasn't carried by any major US newspaper or TV channel but demonstrates the arrogance of Bush Washington which encourages knee-jerk lying, reluctant retraction when it becomes obvious that a lie was told, and making a grudging admission later. These are not just indications of dishonesty and evil in the Bush-Cheney administration : they are evidence of the deep and horrible malaise that has penetrated Washington's officialdom. Who killed the man? We don't know. We will never know. Nobody will ever be prosecuted for the slaughter of this Egyptian citizen. He is a non-person : just another raghead who got in the way of the United States of America. The lies about his murder by a "warning shot" didn't work, but who cares, anyway?

It doesn't matter that some poor Egyptian, trying to make a few cents by selling trinkets to people on passing ships in his country's Canal (a trade that has existed for over 130 years), is murdered by trigger-happy mercenaries. It's all part of the great con-trick, the idiot "war on terror". And it shows that the Bush-Cheney mentality is alive and thriving throughout the armed forces and intelligence agencies and among those responsible for anonymous brutal attacks which take place in Africa, the Middle East and, especially, Pakistan. Members of the special forces are accountable to nobody for what they do. These people are exempt from scrutiny of any sort, all in the sacred name of 'security', which is simply a cover for official permission to murder whom and when they want. (In a TV comedy series in the UK many years ago the actor playing a civil servant was asked about the Official Secrets Act which forbids revelation of uncomfortable facts. "The Official Secrets Act," he said, "is not there to protect Secrets--it's there to protect OFFICIALS." Humor is sometimes more ironic and accurate than intended.)

Full Article...

punditman says...To coin a phrase from someone else, it's "just another day in the empire."


Robert Fisk: Semantics can't mask Bush's chicanery

This goes beyond hollow laughter. Since when did armies go around 're-liberating'

After his latest shenanigans, I've come to the conclusion that George Bush is the first US president to march backwards. First we had weapons of mass destruction. Then, when they proved to be a myth, Bush told us we had stopped Saddam's "programmes" for weapons of mass destruction (which happened to be another lie).

Now he's gone a stage further. After announcing victory in Iraq in 2003 and "mission accomplished" and telling us how this enormous achievement would lead the 21st century into a "shining age of human liberty", George Bush told us this week that "thanks to the surge, we've renewed and revived the prospect of success".

Now let's take a look at this piece of chicanery and subject it to a little linguistic analysis. Five years ago, it was victory – ie success – but this has now been transmogrified into a mere "prospect" of success. And not a "prospect", mark you, that has even been glimpsed. No, we have "renewed" and "revived" this prospect. "Revived", as in "brought back from the dead". Am I the only one to be sickened by this obscene semantics? How on earth can you "renew" a "prospect", let alone a prospect that continues to be bathed in Iraqi blood, a subject Bush wisely chose to avoid?

Keep Reading...


Meet the U.S. War Machine's worst nightmare

by Tarnjit Johal and Anita Krajnc
April 11, 2008

Last month, for the first time, the Iraqi-Canadian community came together to organize a week of action in Toronto to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. rabbletv covered this historic occasion and interviewed the keynote speaker, American-Iraqi peace activist Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.

Dahlia Wasfi left her medical career in 2002 and became a full-time activist and speaker calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. She uses personal stories and hard-hitting analysis of the conditions faced by Iraqis combined with a passionate and often highly comedic delivery to put a human face on the conflict. In her powerful oratory, she is a blend of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X or maybe Karl Marx and Groucho Marx, as one commentator on an Internet message board put it. In April 2006, she appeared before the Democratic progressive caucus's congressional forum on Iraq.

As the daughter of an Iraqi Muslim father originally from Basra, Iraq and an American Jewish mother from New York City, she says both sides of her family have faced genocide. First, her Ashkenazi Jewish grandparents fled the Nazis in Vienna in the 1930s. Now the Iraqi side of her family is facing genocide as a result of the U.S. attack and occupation of Iraq.

She describes the situation of her relatives on her father's side: "[They] are not living, but dying, under the occupation of this [Bush] administration's deadly foray in Iraq. From the lack of security to the lack of basic supplies to the lack of electricity to the lack of potable water to the lack of jobs to the lack of reconstruction to the lack of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they are much worse off now than before we invaded. 'Never again' should apply to them, too."

"I have the credibility," Wasfi says, "to come forward and I'm willing to risk the false label of anti-Semitism to condemn the policies of the United States and Israel and its continued oppression of the Arab world."

In the rabbletv interview, Dahlia Wasfi confronts the complacency and fatigue that characterizes the reporting of the war in mainstream media. In a country that worships its military, the U.S. corporate media has failed to acknowledge the concerns of returning war veterans. There was a complete blackout, in mainstream U.S. media, of the recent Winter Soldier testimonies, which ran March 13-16 in Silver Spring, Maryland. U.S. veterans who served in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan testified to give an accurate account of what is really happening on a daily basis on the ground in these countries. rabbletv broadcast independent media coverage of these testimonies by DemocracyNow! and The Real News.

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Media cheerleaders miss story

To listen to the media tell it, Canada scored a victory last week at the NATO summit. We got the extra 1,000 troops that the Harper government said were needed to continue our involvement in the Afghan war.

So the fact that we're going to continue to fight in Afghanistan — which most Canadians oppose, according to the polls — has been transformed into a victory. We did it! We got the extra troops for a war Canadians don't want! Bravo!

Actually, the media have confused the Harper government achieving its own objectives with the national interest being advanced.

Yes, the staunchly pro-Washington Harper government cleverly manipulated the weak Liberal opposition into supporting the Afghan military venture, largely by presenting it as an international duty mandated by NATO.

In fact, the countries that make up NATO have no more interest in fighting in Afghanistan than the Canadian public does, which is why the 1,000 extra troops are coming from the United States — the one country that is keen to fight over there. But our media turned the situation into a mini-drama: Would Harper succeed at NATO or wouldn't he? It was easy to lose sight of the real story: The U.S. has succeeded in getting Canada to be its lead partner fighting an unpopular counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan.

In fact, the Harper government has recently made two agreements that have quietly moved us into deeper co-operation with the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy.

Full Article...

Linda McQuaig is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire. Linda McQuaig's column is originally published by The Toronto Star.

punditman says...In the Full Article link above, Linda McQuaig notes how the media missed out on three very important stories, all directly affecting Canadian policy and sovereignty.


Report From Iran: Should We Really Bomb These People?

By Larry Beinhart, AlterNet.

The author explains, "Iranians are among the most gracious and hospitable people I've ever met."

I'm in Shiraz, on the way to Esfahan.

It's good to get out of gray, smoggy Tehran, one of the least photogenic cities in the world, where black is the new black, from the hejabs on down.

One of the attractions of Shiraz is the tomb of Hafez, a Persian poet from the 14th century. It's thronged at night. Iranians bring flowers, then stand or kneel beside the sarcophagus and recite his poems. My personal reaction is, this is how writers should always be treated.

Iranians are among the most gracious and hospitable people I've ever met.

The question, of course, is whether we should bomb these people?

In America today, we tend to see things in Manichaean terms. That is, we divide things into absolute opposites, light and dark, good and evil, us and them.

We could, if we went back far enough, blame that on them. The word Manichaean refers to the Persian prophet Mani (from around 250 AD). The whole notion of good and evil, with man in the middle, having to make a choice, then rewarded and condemned in an afterlife, goes back to an even earlier Persian prophet, Zoroaster, from around 1,000 BC. Those ideas entered Judaism during the Babylonian exile and the liberation of the Jews by Cyrus the Great of Persia, and from there into Christianity.

There are still Zoroastrians and Jews in modern-day Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

These are people with a rich and varied history. A very humanistic history.

The question is, why should we bomb these people?

The answer is that they are part of the Axis of Evil!

Iranians are somewhat confused by that designation.

The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by a ragged group of conspirators called Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, headquartered in Afghanistan, where they were protected and nurtured by the Taliban. The Taliban were, and are, fanatical, fundamentalist Sunnis. They're the ones who put women in burkhas, those full-body coverings and veils; required men to be bearded; and banned all music, television, movies, photographs, statues, stuffed animals and dolls.

The Taliban came to power in 1996. They were supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

They were opposed by the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance was supported by Russia, India and, most of all, by Iran.

Full Article..

punditman says...From the article link above:

Iran is, ultimately, ruled by the Supreme Leader. He is deemed to be infallible. In 2003 he issued a fatwa, a ruling of holy law, against the development and use of nuclear weapons. This is when, according to the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, Iran stopped such developments.

Iran claims it only wants nuclear energy...At least 56 countries have nuclear research reactors.

If they had nuclear weapons and used them, especially if they used them aggressively, as a first strike, then Israel and the United States would retaliate with far more force and effectively destroy Iran. What we are likely to have in reality is the sort of mutual stand-off we had with the Soviet Union for 50 years.

punditman further says...

So we are supposed to believe that this is Iran's intent; we are supposed to believe that an ancient civilization is engrossed in the notion of collective suicide. Ah...unlikely, Sherlock! Do your flipping homework.

Petraeus Testimony May Signal Iran Attack

by Paul Craig Roberts

On April 5, the London Telegraph reported that "British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the U.S.-backed Baghdad government. A strong statement from Gen. David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a U.S. attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment."

The neocon lackey Petraeus has had his script written for him by Cheney, and Petraeus together with neocon warmonger Ryan Crocker, the U.S. governor of the Green Zone in Baghdad, will present Congress next Tuesday and Wednesday with the lies, for which the road has been well paved by neocon propagandists such as Kimberly Kagan, that "the U.S. must recognize that Iran is engaged in a full-up proxy war against it in Iraq."

Don't expect Congress to do anything except to egg on the attack. On April 3, the International Herald Tribune reported that senators and representatives have made millions of dollars from their investments in defense companies totaling $196 million. Rep. Ike Skelton, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is already on board with the attack on Iran. The Telegraph quotes Skelton: "Iran is the bull in the china shop. In all of this, they seem to have links to all of the Shi'ite groups, whether they be political or military."

Keep Reading...


40 Years Ago Today: Silence is Betrayal (MLK anti-war speech)

punditman says...

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

U2 - Pride (In the name of Love)

I was just a little kid when, 40 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. But I still recall the event vividly: having heard the terrible news of another violent calamnity in America (our neighbour to the south), my mother was crying, sobbing that "they've killed Martin Luther King."

One year earlier to the day, at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King delivered an impassioned speech against the Vietnam War.

His assassination led to riots in more than 100 American cities.

The Audacity of Depression

punditman says...
Joe Bageant takes up where Hunter S. Thompson left off. Read the whole thing. You will even chuckle.

Rage fatigue, plastic dirt and happy hour in techno-totalitarian America

By Joe Bageant

One of the best things about the hundred or so book festivals in America is that, with luck, a writer can manage to get drunk with some of his or her readers. And with more luck, the readers pick up the tab. Bear in mind that 90% of all real writers, people for whom writing is their sole income, spend much of their time counting their change in the rest room of the hotels where they are being put up while on tour. Believe me, there are better rackets than writing.

So here I am at the Virginia Festival of the Book copping a smoke on the back dining patio of the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville with one of my readers -- a somewhat elegant sixty-plus blonde who runs a small public library financial support group down in ancient marshy Northumberland County, Virginia. Created in 1648, it is the area James A. Michener wrote about in Chesapeake, and a place where, she tells me, periwinkles planted three hundred years ago on the graves of slaves still bloom. My wife, a historical librarian doing colonial African-American research, tells me these periwinkle marked slave graves can be found throughout Virginia.

Immensely energetic and a lifelong activist for literacy and informed thought, this cigarette voiced Northumberland librarian has built the county's new little library, and even managed to coax enough money out of the local government for two employees. In a county with a population of 12,000, that's no small political feat.

At the moment though, politically speaking, the Obama-Hillary dirt fight is in full fury, so I asked the obligatory question of the week, "Who will you vote for?"

"Oh, Obama, I guess. It's so hard to get excited over the elections. Lately I've been just plain depressed," she said.

"About what?"

"Oh just everything. It seems to have become so pointless in America, as if we are entering a Dark Age. I've come to wonder why I do anything at all."

Keep Reading Joe Bageant's essay...


Quarter Of Americans Now Think Iran is The Biggest Enemy

Consistent neocon propaganda campaign paying off...

by Steve Watson

A quarter of Americans believe that Iran now poses the biggest threat to the United States, confirming that a sustained neocon propaganda campaign to demonize Iran and its leaders for their own strategic benefit is having a significant impact.

According to a new poll by Gallup, Iran is top of the enemy list, with 25 percent, followed by Iraq at 22 percent, then China with 14 percent, and North Korea with 9 percent.

Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to see Iran as the top U.S. enemy, while Democrats are likelier to name Iraq. Older people and those who say they closely follow world news are less likely to cite Iraq than the younger and less informed, reported the AP.

It was September last year when the New Yorker magazine reported that Barnett Rubin, a highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University, asserted that Dick Cheney ordered top Neo-Con media outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, to unleash a PR blitz to sell conflict with Iran.

The fruits of that propaganda campaign are now clear to see.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...

Let's see if I understand: Shi'a-dominated Iran has benefited greatly from the US invasion of the Sunni-dominated Iraqi regime of Sadam Hussein. In fact, now the Shi'a-dominated US-backed Iraqi regime and Shi'a-dominated Iran are getting along famously.

Nevertheless, 22 percent of Americans think Iraq is still their enemy. They think that the government that their soldiers are fighting to defend is their enemy! Of course, they are defending against...wait for it...other Iraqis! Hence the confusion on this minor point of who Americans think they should be killing at the moment. Voice of hubby in background:

"Damn it, Martha. We're still killing them dang ragheads, so the answer is I-RACK is our enemy! Tell the man!

Meanwhile, another 25 percent of Americans think that their Iraqi ally's new friend, Iran, should be their number one enemy. Voice of hubby in background:

"Martha, git off that friggin' phone, Fox News is coming on!"

You can always count on around half the American people being completely anaesthesized--and Dick Cheney knows it.