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ISSUE 176 TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Israeli Extremists Riot After Court Rules Against Them

by Cherrie Heywood Cashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and Hebron settlers following a controversial ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice. The court ruled that a group of settlers illegally occupying a Palestinian home in the town had to vacate the property. Following the ruling angry settlers went on a rampage, vandalized Palestinian property, desecrated Muslim graves, uprooted 40 olive trees, and scrawled graffiti on a local mosque


Financial Crisis Pits Vatican Against Offshore Bankers

by Lucy Komisar Ethics and offshore. The Vatican now gets it, but U.S. corporations don't. The U.S.-based multinationals that signed on to yet another ethics pledge included General Electric, The Hartford, Pepsi, Wal-Mart, Accenture, Dell, and United Airlines. Ethics, according to the 17, does not include rejecting the use of the offshore system to evade regulation as well as taxes. Like the Vatican, U.S. corporations have experience with offshore. It's understandably a sensitive issue


With Stake in AIG, U.S. Can Now Probe Its Offshore Tax Evasion

by Lucy Komisar The U.S. will invest $40 billion in American International Group (AIG), and will provide credit lines that could bring federal funding up to 1$44 billion. It's the largest subsidy that a U.S. corporation has ever received. In exchange, the U.S. gets nearly 80 percent of AIG stock. This puts the U.S. in a unique position to investigate the internal operations of a giant corporation with a reputation for using the offshore system for tax evasion


Obama to Inherit Free Market Free Fall

by Adrianne Appel Despite hundreds of billions of dollars thrown at banks large and small, the U.S. economy is in a free fall, just weeks before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, analysts say


Bush Bails Out Automakers, Not Auto Workers

by Bankole Thompson Evidently playing to the gallery of Republican members of Congress who wanted the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract with the carmakers reopened for negotiations, Bush said one of the conditions for the bridge loans would be a more competitive labor contract between the UAW and the carmakers


U.S. Media Missed out on the Mumbai Attack

by Alexander Cockburn It's the usual story. There were plenty of warnings. As papers such as the London Sunday Times detailed, in contrast to very poor real-time coverage here in the United States, months ago, the Mumbai police had information elicited from Fahim Ansari, a captive member of the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba, that a raid on the city was being planned and that he himself had reconnoitered the hotels


Honeymoans from the Left

by Alexander Cockburn Criticisms of Obama's foreign policy team are, if anything, outstripped by gloom and indignation over his economic team. The economist Michael Hudson complained recently that Obama was meekly following the advice of banker and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, putting Rubin's proteges in key Obama administration posts


A Giant Ponzi Scheme

by Alexander Cockburn On the larger canvas, what exactly separates Madoff's operation from those of the banks rewarded for their shady follies by a $700 billion bailout? Just like Madoff, the banks finally had to admit that all their public financial statements were false, that the supposed assets were worthless. Unlike Madoff, who looted his clients of a mere $50 billion, they were 'too big to fail'


If It Walks Like a Duck

by Steve Young Costner's film told the fictional story of a single slacker whose one vote could decide a presidential election. Don't know if you saw it. Not all that many did, but it just happens that COINCIDENTALLY one of those most popular names in satire -- National Lampoon -- offered almost the same exact concept back in October of 2004, lampooning the Kerry-Bush race


All I Want For Christmas Is Rudy and...

by Steve Young As 2008 twitters out there are a few last minute presents I wouldn't mind giving or getting. But with the gift of a Bush economy, my budget has been diminished a bit, so if there is a Santa or another Bernie Madoff yet to be indicted, please make my/our holiday something to remember


Can Chris Matthews Handle REAL Hardball?

by Steve Young You run against Arlen Specter and the Right will eat you up alive. The Left will chew up the leftovers carcass. When you have Sean Hannity and The Daily Kos on the same side you know your political foothold is about as solid as quicksand


Bush's Mideast Legacy: Shoes

by Robert Scheer Not only has the Bush administration subverted the image of the United States' commitment to the rule of law and justice, but it has done similar damage to our reputation for economic efficiency. On Sunday, The New York Times reported on an unpublished 513-page federal history of the Iraq reconstruction that it termed a $100 billion failure


Cheney Wielded the War to Deceive

by Robert Scheer In the end, the shame of Vice President Dick Cheney was total: unmitigated by any notion of a graceful departure, let alone the slightest obligation of honest accounting. Although firmly ensconced, even in the popular imagination, as an example of evil incarnate Cheney exudes the confidence of one fully convinced that he will get away with it all


Scientists Hail Obama Returning U.S. to Fact-Based Policies

by William Fisher Key appointments announced by President-elect Barack Obama suggest that science will soon make a major comeback in the U.S. government


Bush, Israel, Push Myth That Hamas is Iran's Puppet

by William O. Beeman Iran has, it is true, been sympathetic to the Hamas situation, particularly since the U.S.-endorsed Palestinian elections of 2006, when Hamas won a plurality of votes, allowing it to form a government. Subsequently, the new Palestinian government was rejected by Israel and the United States, and an economic embargo plunged the Palestinians into economic chaos. At that point Iran provided substantial humanitarian aid


Not a Team of Rivals At All

by Joe Conason As Obama learned many months ago, our leading media minds tend to be far less interested in real ideas and policies than in a fixed narrative about personalities. So his decision to nominate primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, with all the friction that would supposedly generate, became the focus of the news. All his other appointees somehow had to be crammed into the same imaginary framework


What Nixon Admitted (and Cheney Won't)

by Joe Conason To understand the philosophy of government that Dick Cheney brought to Washington over the past seven years, it is most instructive to see 'Frost/Nixon,' with Frank Langella's remarkable reanimation of Tricky Dick for a generation that never knew him. In Nixon's famous conversation with David Frost, there came a moment when the old reprobate uttered the truth -- a truth that Cheney still prefers to obscure when he talks about illegal surveillance, torture and other violations of the Bill of Rights, as he did in his exit appearance this week on Fox New


Iran Faces Crisis as Oil Prices Collapse

by Omid Memarian As the price of crude oil continued its tumble to less than $35 a barrel Friday, Iranian economists are warning that the fourth-largest oil producer in the world will enter an even deeper crisis should the price remain low, with many also blaming the government's economic policies


Iran Understands U.S. More Than We Know Them

by Ali Gharib Though most Western media is banned or censored, it's well known that many Iranians regularly watch Hollywood blockbusters, U.S. television and international news on illegal satellite dishes. Many Iranians, in fact, are familiar with the culture of U.S., even if only what they're watching


Israel Kills Hundreds in Gaza Attack

by Mel Frykberg At least 300 Palestinians have been killed and more than 900 wounded as Israel continues to carry out its severest military attack on Gaza since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war


Gaza Carnage Sets West Bank Aflame

by Mel Frykberg Anger, shock and revulsion at the continuing carnage in Gaza has ignited spontaneous demonstrations and riots across the West Bank and Israel, sparking concerns of a possible third Palestinian uprising or Intifada


Security Council Mildly Rebukes Israel's Gaza Attacks

Analysis by Thalif Deen After an emergency closed-door session Sunday night, the 15-member Security Council issued a politically bland statement expressing 'serious concern' over the devastating Israeli air strikes on Gaza


Israeli Attack Becomes Obama's Other Main Crisis

by Jim Lobe Obama could face a major international crisis -- comparable to Israel's failed 2006 war against Lebanon's Hezbollah -- just as he takes office


Gaza's Main Hospital Flooded With Casualties

by Jim Lobe Al-Shifa has never received hundreds of patients all at once. Hospital staff are using sheets to staunch bleeding, and many patients have died because of the lack of supplies and equipment


Timing of Gaza Attack Linked to Upcoming Israeli Elections

Analysis by Mel Frykberg Analysts, and some politicians, argue that the real motivation behind the military operation is ambitious Israeli politicians and the upcoming Israeli elections due Feb. 10. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is chairman of the Labor Party and a candidate for premiership. He is the main architect of the Gaza operation and stands the most to gain politically


After 19-Month Israel Blockade, Gaza Civilians Were Already at Subsistence Level

by Haider Rizvi Before the recent attacks on Gaza, aid organizations had repeatedly stressed that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was hindering their efforts to reach out to Palestinians who were in dire need of food and medicines. Currently, nearly half of the population in Gaza does not have enough food to meet its basic needs


Does Israel Actually Have an Objective In Gaza Attack?

by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler The legitimacy of self-defense being so critical to Israel, whatever secret wishes they harbor, the government projects its war aims in not overly-ambitious terms: make conditions so painful for Hamas that it will have to subscribe to a long-standing ceasefire


Media Banned From Gaza as Humanitarian Crisis Escalates

by Mel Frykberg The foreign media is once again petitioning an Israeli court for permission to enter Gaza and cover the conflict. Media outlets have had to rely on international human rights activists, aid organizations and Palestinian journalists based in Gaza to update them on unfolding events. Meanwhile the number of civilian casualties continues to rise


Drop Cuba Embargo, Obama Told by U.S. Commerce

by Jim Lobe 'We support the complete removal of all trade and travel restrictions on Cuba,' a dozen such business associations, including the politically potent Business Roundtable, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Retail Federation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote, in a letter addressed to Obama Thursday


U.S. Still World's Largest Arms Supplier

by Ali Gharib The U.S. has signed more than twice as many arms transfer agreements over the past eight years than its nearest competition. In that time, the U.S. made nearly 124,000 deals, compared to the Russia, which has made just over 54,000


Should She Be Senator Kennedy?

by Joe Conason Aside from her candidacy's romantic appeal, there is also the money. Democratic leaders say they believe that Ms. Kennedy is uniquely equipped to raise the estimated $70 million or more needed to hold the seat through a special election in 2010 and the regularly scheduled contest two years late


Dangerous Bias Against Detroit

by Joe Conason Media coverage of the auto crisis has been powerfully biased against assistance to the industry, in part because reporters, editors and TV producers -- not to mention the corporate owners -- have yet to shed the outdated free-market fundamentalism that has shaped American journalism for so many years. The worst example in recent weeks has been the constant repetition of skewed statistics on autoworker compensation, which was said to exceed $70 per hour


Israel Deports Rights Observers on Palestinian Fishing Boats

by Mel Frykberg Activists had been accompanying Gaza's fishermen on daily fishing expeditions for the last few months as the fishermen played a game of cat and mouse with the Israeli navy, risking their lives and property in their attempt to eke out a living


Remembering the Other Eartha Kitt

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Kitt's verbal assault on the war and racial problems made headline news. A badly shaken first lady and an enraged LBJ denounced her. The next few years she was hounded and harassed by the FBI, the IRS and Secret Service agents. The CIA even compiled a gossipy, intrusive dossier on her that attempted to paint her as a sex starved malcontent. The public storm and the negative press proved too much for Kitt


Blame Game over Mumbai Massacre Could Doom Kashmir

by Yoichi Shimatsu The dirty tactics used against civilians in the Mumbai massacres last month are more typical of the Mumbai underworld than of the Islamic militant Lashkar jihadists who fought the Indian army to a standstill in Kashmir. By blaming Lashkar, the Indian right hopes to forestall any Obama initiative to resolve Kashmir


"Right-Wing MoveOn" Loses Its Angel, Closes

Analysis by Eli Clifton The right-wing advocacy group Freedom's Watch is shutting down as its main funder, Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, becomes one of the high-profile casualties of the global economic downturn


Iraq Kurds Deeply Divided Over Security Pact With U.S.

Analysis by Mohammed A. Salih Despite the international media's portrayal of unequivocal unified Kurdish support for the deal, there is an increasing realization within formal and informal Kurdish circles that the Kurds are dooming themselves by approving the deal


Where Have the Bailout Billions Gone?

by Adrianne Appel The Treasury bailout program, run by Assistant Secretary Neel Kashkari, did not require the banks to use the money in any particular way. Kashkari told Congress recently that Treasury has not audited the money to see how it is being spent. Paulson and Kashkari, both formerly of Goldman Sachs, have spent additional millions to hire private firms and some of the same institutions that received bailout money, to help administer the bailout program


Prank Call Almost Brought India, Pakistan to Nuclear Brink

by Beena Sarwar A hoax phone call from India to Pakistan's President threatening military reprisals in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Mumbai city, hyped up by media, brought the nuclear-armed neighbors close to conflict


Clarence Thomas Forces Supreme Court to Consider Obama's Citizenship

by James Wright In a highly unusual move, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked his colleagues on the court to consider the request of an East Brunswick, N.J. attorney who has filed a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama's status as a United States citizen


Only 66 Nations Sign UN Resolution on Human Rights for Gays

by Nergui Manalsuren Although 66 countries signed a statement at the United Nations on Dec. 19 affirming that human rights protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity, activists note that dozens of nations still criminalize homosexuality and seven impose the death penalty


Sri Lanka Could Lose $1+ Billion as Bet on High Oil Price Collapses

by Feizal Samath As global oil prices dive, the Sri Lankan government finds itself saddled with a complicated oil hedging deal with two foreign banks that could cost the country close on one billion dollars and has brought charges of high corruption upon state officials


Palestinians Released as Israel "Goodwill Gesture" Describe Abuse

by Mel Frykberg While Israel's 'goodwill gesture' was much touted by the Israeli media, the majority of the prisoners were mostly small-time political detainees, who were due for release fairly shortly, having already served most of their sentences. Many were teenagers when imprisoned and none were convicted of injuring or killing Israelis


Palestinian Town Encircled by Israeli Wall Struggles to Survive

by Daan Bauwens The economic damage caused by the wall has been enormous, says deputy mayor Dr. Mohammad Hashem Al-Masri 'Next to the thousands of Israeli customers we lost, they blocked access to our fields, practically putting a definitive end to our agriculture. Moreover, there used to be 13,000 Qalqilyan commuters working in Israel. That number has shrunk to about 1,000'


Thai Elites Install Their Man as Premier

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Almost a year after his party suffered its third consecutive electoral defeat, Abhisit Vijjajiva rode to victory to become Thailand's new prime minister, the third this year. It was not a choice of the voters, though


Republicans Brought Socialism to America

by Robert Scheer The government takeover of the banking and automobile industries not only happened on President Bush's watch, it was also the deregulatory mania of this president's family, beginning with his father, which took this country into such starkly unfamiliar territory


Will Obama Stay the Course?

by Robert Scheer If there is a grand arc to Obama's appointments strategy, it seems aimed at providing the appearance of continuity on the part of a leader who still promises to be very different


Tennessee Coal Plant Spill Buries 400 Acres, Damages Homes

A retaining wall at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal-fired power plant collapsed early December 22, causing 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash to be spilled, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep


Steven Chu: Obama's Smart Pick for Energy Dept.

by George Koo Chu has the technical expertise, personal charisma and passion to help Obama change the way we consume energy and heat up the atmosphere. Obama's decision not to select a Washington insider, but someone with a firm grasp of the relevant technological issues, suggests that he is serious about finding the right person to deal with the threat of global warming


Bush Pusing Through Dozens of New Rules to Cripple Obama

by Stephen Leahy The White House can make such changes arbitrarily without approval or consultation with Congress, the Senate or the public. Known as 'midnight regulations,' more than 60 were passed in November with the intent of tying the hands of the Obama administration


Colombia Gays Face Murder in Civil War Crossfire

by Mario Osava In 2006 and 2007, sixty-seven Colombians were murdered because of their sexual orientation, according to Colombia Diversa, a non-governmental organization (NGO) for LGBT rights. This is obviously an underestimate, because LGBT individuals are not specifically identified as such on any official document, said Navarro. In addition, fear of reprisals prevents people from coming forward and filing complaints


Christian Right to Hold Major D.C. Rally 2 Days After Inauguration

by Bill Berkowitz Despite the bad news on Election Day, two deeply disappointed anti-abortion devotees are dead set on fighting against what they call the most pro-choice presidency in history


Exodus of Mexican Migrants From U.S.

As the economic crisis deepened this year, scattered reports from Mexican border cities appeared to confirm predictions of a mass exodus, whether due to the deportations by U.S. immigration authorities or because of the ill economic winds blowing from the ruins of Wall Street


Billy's Radio Factor Flares Out

by Steve Young As 2008 chokes away its last gasps of life, Bill O’Reilly’s radio career dost the same. While there are those who will say that the Factor radio era will not be missed, I am not of that crowd. Where fact need not get in the way of good entertainment. Where boasting of success need not be supported by statistics that actually gauge success. You might call it lies and deceit that treats the Folks like infantile pinheads. I call it radio magic


Greek Riots Fed by Years of Anger

Analysis by Apostolis Fotiadis The protests were fed by the political memory of a history of social and political struggle. Almost by instinctive conscience, many people in Greece distrust the state. The latent Greek dislike of the police, which erupted so volcanically, has its roots in the old dictatorship when the police functioned as the colonels' enforcers against the citizens


Thailand Government Falls As Court Bans Ruling Party

by Marwaan Macan-Markar Following Tuesday's ruling, the PAD announced it was withdrawing its supporters after a week-long siege of the country's largest international airport. The takeover of the airpors took the anti-government protests to a new level, but at a heavy economic price to the country


Kashmir Leaders: We had Nothing to do With Mumbai Massacre

by Athar Parvaiz Political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for more than 60 years, are aghast at last week's carnage in Mumbai, carried out by armed men who apparently sailed in from the Pakistani port of Karachi. Many here believe that renewed hostility may prove to be a setback for their peaceful movement for an independent or autonomous Kashmir


Rep. Jefferson Voted Out for Scandal, not Race

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Whites did flock to the polls in higher numbers than usual and the black voter turnout was much less than in the primary. But despite the ramp-up in white votes, blacks still make up the majority of voters in Jefferson's district. While many blacks voted for him out of old loyalty, a significant number didn't. The lower black voter turnout in essence was a vote against him


Rick Warren is a Foreign Policy Blunder for Obama

by Jalal Ghazi Obama's selection of Rev. Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church to deliver the invocation at his inauguration ceremony sends a mixed message to the Muslim world


U.S. Contractors no Longer Immune for Crimes in Iraq

by William Fisher After months of seeming inactivity -- marked by continuing doubts about whether the U.S. even has legal jurisdiction over the contractors -- the U.S. Department of Justice may soon bring charges against three to six contractor-employed security guards for their involvement in the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007


EU Again Delays Global Warming Controls

by David Cronin Winding up a two-day summit in Brussels Dec. 12, the EU's governments decided that a plan to make energy-intensive firms pay for their emissions of greenhouse gas emissions should be drastically amended in order to protect short-term commercial gains


Bush Gets "Peace" Award

by Bill Berkowitz For a president who had little to do but pardon turkeys on Thanksgiving and throw the switch on the national Christmas tree, little to look forward to but packing his bags and evacuating the White House, and less positive accomplishments to look back on than most presidents, this year's World AIDS Day was clearly a high point. And Pastor Rick Warren was there to share the spotlight with him


Taliban Choking Off NATO Supply Convoys

by Zofeen Ebrahim In March, insurgents torched 40-50 NATO oil tankers near Torkham. In April, a military helicopter valued at $13 million was hijacked. And in July, there were sporadic attacks on the convoys. Last month, some 60 Taliban fighters hijacked a convoy of trucks in broad daylight as it was travelling through the Khyber pass



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