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Gazans Explain What They Want From Any Ceasefire

By: Siun

The news today is full of talk about John Kerry going to Cairo and insisting on a ceasefire in the war on Gaza. Obama’s UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, who normally is a warrior for R2P made the same argument at the United Nations, also calling for a ceasefire – though mostly from the Gazans since she began by stressing Israel’s right to self-defense. Of course, no one mentions the Palestinians right to same.

All this comes as Israel continues to level neighbrhoods in Gaza, house by house, with hospitals and girls’ schools thrown in today. Israel justifies this destruction by pointing to Gaza’s refusal of an earlier ceasefire – one that no one discussed with Gaza.

Yet we are supposed to approve of all this because Egypt is involved, as if Egypt is somehow a representative and faithful advocate for the Palestinian people – ignoring the role of the Egyptian military and current leaders in the blockade for which they receive a nice aid check from the US.

Given Israel’s poor record of honoring any restraints on its military actions – here’s one list last updated in 2013 that gives some sense of the scope even if we are unable to confirm all instances: Full List of 287 Documented Israeli Cease Fire Violations – trust in Israeli intentions is not high amongst Gazans. Those incidents are rarely mentioned.

No mention as well is made in our press of the offer from Gaza for a ten year cease fire – nor of Hamas’ record of mostly honoring cease fires when agreed. Writing at Mondoweiss, Francesca Albanese provides a helpful and detailed look at this offer:

Much less noticed by the Western media was that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had meanwhile proposed a 10 year truce on the basis of 10 – very reasonable – conditions. While Israel was too busy preparing for the ground invasion, why didn’t anyone in the diplomatic community spend a word about this proposal? The question is all the more poignant as this proposal was in essence in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for years now, and included some aspects that Israel had already considered as feasible requests in the past.

The main demands of this proposal revolve around lifting the Israeli siege in Gaza through the opening of its borders with Israel to commerce and people, the establishment of an international seaport and airport under U.N. supervision, the expansion of the permitted fishing zone in the Gaza sea to 10 kilometers, and the revitalization of Gaza industrial zone. None of these demands is new.

Today we have another message from Gaza, again being ignored in the PR of Kerry and Powers and all – a message from a broad group of Gaza based “academics, public figures and activists.” Reported in the Palestine Telegraph, a digital report launched during Operation Cast Lead, these Gazans:

call for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the blockade and the restoration of basic freedoms that have been denied to the people for more than seven years.

Our foremost concerns are not only the health and safety of the people in our communities, but also the quality of their lives – their ability to live free of fear of imprisonment without due process, to support their families through gainful employment, and to travel to visit their relatives and further their education.  These are fundamental human aspirations that have been severely limited for the Palestinian people for 47 years, but that have been particularly deprived from residents of Gaza since 2007.  We have been pushed beyond the limits of what a normal person can be expected to endure.

And pointed out that a return to the status quo “would mean a return to a living death” they detail their demands:

Therefore, we call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:
•    Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
•    Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
•    Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
•    Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.

That surely doesn’t seem too much to ask.

 

Over Easy: Scientists Re-visit Mount Saint Helens

By: Crane-Station Wednesday July 23, 2014 3:12 am

A group of 75 scientists led by Alan Levander of Rice University in Houston visited Mt. St. Helens this week, to create seismic waves by controlled explosions, that will enable them to study the mountain with a new method that is akin to an “ultrasound and a CAT scan” of the volcano’s “internal plumbing.”

Mt. St. Helens erupted at 8:32 AM PDT on May 18, 1980 killing 57 people and destroying 250 homes. A second eruption occurred 34 years ago yesterday, on July 22, 1980.

If there were such a thing as reincarnation for a day, May 18, 1980, as a witness to the Mt. St. Helens eruption from the Portland area would certainly be an interesting choice. I happened to be home from college for a few days, where several people gathered on our family deck, to watch and take pictures. It was morning but it was dark. Amateur photographs from that distance were difficult to obtain with any resolution, because of the amount of ash that filled the atmosphere.

Although Forest Service and USGS scientists expected Mt. St Helens to erupt, based on a spike in seismic activity at the end of March that year, prompting authorities to warn residents to evacuate, no one knew exactly when the mountain would blow. Some skeptical area residents refused to leave, including 83-year-old Spirit Lake Lodge owner Harry Randall Truman, who perished on May 18, during the eruption.

The scientists had been incredibly accurate in their predictions at that time, as it turns out, even if no one really took them seriously, and even if roadside attraction souvenir stands were instantly popular. The predicted eruption that actually happened prompted a common query and reply among residents observing from afar, that went something like, “What’s happened?” followed by, “The mountain just blew up.” No one really expected the first eruption; likewise the second eruption took people completely by surprise.

On the television news we saw police cars lining the roads near Mt. St. Helens during the volcanic event, and they all had the hoods of their cars up- officers had to try and cover the automobile engines, to prevent the ash from inflicting permanent damage. People in the area covered their faces with t-shirts. It looked like a black snowstorm. Deer and wildlife ran, and birds tried to find a wire to sit on. For a while, it was hard to conceive of the idea that we would have a world again. The event was very upsetting to nature.

It is good to know that scientists today continue to monitor activity and assess potential risk to human life, by using new methods to look at Mt. St. Helens and other peaks in the volcanically active Cascade Range. Active mountains in the Cascade Range include Mounts: Rainier, Baker, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, Three Sisters, McLoughlin, and Mt. Shasta.

Mt. St. Helens’s pre-historic human residents were a collection of tribes. Each had a unique language and name for the mountain, as well a legend known as “Keeper of the Fire.” Although there are many versions of many legends, a prominent one that relates to Mt. St. Helens is the story of the Bridge of the Gods, and the creation of the Columbia Gorge.

Author Chuck Williams writes:

In most versions, Mount Hood and Mount Adams, sons of the Great Spirit, fought over a beautiful female mountain. The brothers shook the earth, blocked the sunlight, threw fire at each other, burned the forests, drove off the animals and covered the plants needed by people with ash. The fight cracked the Cascade Range, forming a canyon and a tunnel which emptied the huge lake east of the mountains. The Great Spirit returned and was furious. He left the Bridge of the Gods, the stone arch over the Columbia River, as a monument to peace and placed an elderly, weathered female mountain, Loo-wit, at the bridge as a peacemaker- and as a reminder to the brothers of how transient youthful beauty is. Loo-wit was the keeper of the fire, which had been stolen from atop Wy-east (Mount Hood) by Coyote the Trickster.

Related:

Mount St. Helens eruption: Rare aerial photos never seen before, shot during 1980 eruption

Scientists Plan Explosions Under Mount St. Helens

Electricity And Seismic Waves Give New View Of Mount Rainier’s Volcanic Plumbing

Bibliographic reference for Keeper of the Fire legend:
Mount St. Helens A Changing Landscape
text by Chuck Williams
Introduction by Ray Atkeson
1890: Graphic Arts center Publishing Company PO Box 10306 Portland, Oregon 97210 ISBN 0-912856-63-7
page 19.

Vimeo- Remembering Harry Truman

We welcome off-topic to the Over Easy discussion, and we encourage lurkers to join in as well.

Tuesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Tuesday July 22, 2014 8:34 pm

 

A close up of a cannabis plant.

The World Health Organization now disagrees with the UN about cannabis — and other drugs.

Tonight’s video is “How Heavy is Air?” from TED-Ed.

Too often we think of air as empty space — but compared to a vacuum, air is actually pretty heavy. So, just how heavy is it? And if it’s so heavy, why doesn’t it crush us? Dan Quinn describes the fundamentals of air pressure and explains how it affects our bodies, the weather and the universe at large. Lesson by Dan Quinn, animation by Sandro Katamashvili.

The United Nations still favors the international drug war. But the World Health Organization, a subsidiary, appears to be opposing its parent organization and calling for decriminalization. From the Economist: 

A report just published by the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations, makes a discreet but clear call to decriminalise drugs. And not just cannabis—the report goes as far as recommending the decriminalisation of injecting drugs, which implies the harder sort.

The call comes in a new report on how to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV among ‘key populations,’ including drug users. Have a look at page 91 (page 113 of the PDF). Under ‘Good practice recommendations concerning decriminalization,’ the WHO recommends that for people who use or inject drugs:

- Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration.

- Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize the use of clean needles and syringes (and that permit NSPs [needle and syringe programmes]) and that legalize OST [opioid substitution therapy] for people who are opioid-dependent.

- Countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

Thanks to M. Christian for this link.

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Why You Should Watch Drones For Free Online

By: David Swanson Monday June 6, 2011 11:09 am

 

There’s a chance to watch Drones, the movie, online on July 30th and then to join a discussion with filmmakers and experts.  There’s a preview video below. The movie’s website is at http://dronesthefilm.com and the free screening is at http://demandprogress.tv/drones

I saw a screening of this film back in November at the drone summit in DC. It’s wonderful. I was a bit put-off and staggered, to be frank, at the time, because someone involved with the film bragged about how inexpensively it had been made, and yet the budget was so unfathomably huge that I knew that if an anti-war organization had that kind of money we could hire organizers all over the world and quite possibly make the abolition of war a major mainstream force.

And, of course, you can’t simply ask if the money was well spent, because no one will say that it was spent to end the practice of drone murder. The director and the cast, of course, say they wanted to make a socially important film about a serious issue, but not what they wanted to accomplish, beyond raising questions and being entertaining. Everyone’s always happy to say that a film opposes racism or cruelty to animals or bullying, but not war.

But, you hundreds of millions of odd-balls who, like me, happen to give a damn whether your government is murdering people in your name with your money will, in fact, want to make this film a huge viral success.  I’m telling you, right now, it’s a good one. It is indeed entertaining. It’s not simple, predictable, pedantic, or preaching. But neither is the film itself reluctant to face head-on the banal, evil, arrogant mass-murder engaged in by these young people who dress up in pilots suits to sit at desks in trailers taking orders from military bureaucrats and private contractors, and ultimately from a president who reviews a list of potential men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays.

Drones look like a golden opportunity to war makers who don’t want to ask Congress or the U.N. or the public, don’t want to send in armies, just want to target people and groups for death anywhere in the world and obliterate them with the push of a button from an air-conditioned — or, sometimes not so air-conditioned — office.

But drones also look like a golden opportunity to those of us who have been trying to point out that murder and war are distinguished only by scale. I suspect that many who cannot see the bombing of a city as murder will see the drone-targeting of an individual as nothing else — particularly if they watch this film.

If you can watch the film and not want to Ban Weaponized Drones, watch it again.

Jonathan Schell: A Niagara Falls of Post-9/11 Violence

By: Tom Engelhardt Friday July 15, 2011 6:10 pm

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Unconquerable World cover

A new book on the ways nonviolent resistance matters.

In December 2002, finishing the introduction to his as-yet-unpublished book The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell wrote that the twentieth century was the era in which violence outgrew the war system that had once housed it and became “dysfunctional as a political instrument. Increasingly, it destroys the ends for which it is employed, killing the user as well as his victim. It has become the path to hell on earth and the end of the earth. This is the lesson of the Somme and Verdun, of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, of Vorkuta and Kolyma; and it is the lesson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

More than a decade later, that remains a crucial, if barely noticed, lesson of our moment. Jonathan Schell died this March, but he left behind a legacy of reporting and thinking — from The Real War and The Fate of the Earth to The Unconquerable World – about just how, as the power to destroy ratcheted up, war left its traditional boundaries, and what that has meant for us (as well as, potentially, for worlds to come). In The Unconquerable World, published just before the Bush invasion of Iraq, he went in search of other paths of change, including the nonviolent one, and in doing so he essentially imagined the Arab Spring and caught the essence of both the horrors and possibilities available to us in hard-headed ways that were both prophetic and moving.

Today, partly in honor of his memory (and my memory of him) and partly because I believe his sense of how our world worked then and still works was so acute, this website offers a selection from that book. Consider it a grim walk down post-9/11 Memory Lane, a moment when Washington chose force as its path to… well, we now know (as Schell foresaw then) that it was indeed a path to hell. Tom

The Path to a New 1914? 
How America Chose War After 9/11 
By Jonathan Schell

[This essay is slightly adapted from Jonathan Schell’s 2003 book, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, and appears at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of its publisher, Metropolitan Books.]

Then came the attack of September 11th. Like the starting gun of a race that no one knew he was to run, this explosion set the pack of nations off in a single direction — toward the trenches. Although the attack was unaccompanied by any claim of authorship or statement of political goals, the evidence almost immediately pointed to al-Qaeda, the radical Islamist, terrorist network, which, though stateless, was headquartered in Afghanistan and enjoyed the protection of its fundamentalist Islamic government. In a tape that was soon shown around the world, the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, was seen at dinner with his confederates in Afghanistan, rejoicing in the slaughter.

Historically, nations have responded to terrorist threats and attacks with a combination of police action and political negotiation, while military action has played only a minor role. Voices were raised in the United States calling for a global cooperative effort of this kind to combat al-Qaeda. President Bush opted instead for a policy that the United States alone among nations could have conceivably undertaken: global military action not only against al-Qaeda but against any regime in the world that supported international terrorism.

The president announced to Congress that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who commit these acts and those who harbor them.” By calling the campaign a “war,” the administration summoned into action the immense, technically revolutionized, post-Cold War American military machine, which had lacked any clear enemy for over a decade. And by identifying the target as generic “terrorism,” rather than as al-Qaeda or any other group or list of groups, the administration licensed military operations anywhere in the world.

On “The Making of Global Capitalism”

By: Anti-Capitalist Meetup Sunday July 20, 2014 2:46 pm

 

From Diomedes77 and Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up

Cover of On the Making of Global Capitalism

A Marxist look at global capitalism.

As a first group diary, this will be fairly narrow in scope and ambition. There have already been numerous excellent reviews of The Making of Global Capitalism, and a symposium over at Jacobin. It’s a bit too late at this point for me to try to compete with any of that, so I thought I’d just intro one of the most important books of the last decade, in hopes that it might spark debate here.

Leave it to the Canadians to get things right — or left, as the case may be. Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin are both Canadian professors, socialists, and schooled in Marxism, but unlike their American peers, not subject to automatic censure and scorn. As this group is no doubt aware, socialists and/or Marxists in America are pretty much shut out of public discussion, demonized without a hearing, and absent from debates in a field they should dominate. No “school” of economic thought comes close to the rigor, objectivity, depth of analysis or independence of the Marxians, and no analysis is more needed in our day. But in America, the system and its willing executioners have effectively silenced them.

Again, this is not the case in Canada, or Europe, where a far healthier, but still less than optimum diversity exists.

The book in question is exhaustively researched. It’s nearly overwhelming in its breadth and detail, and makes for an excellent pairing with Piketty’s recent Capital, which I have but have not yet read beyond its introduction. This is not a beach book. This is not a casual, page-turning barn-burner. But it is a serious work of scholarship, and in my view, deserves at least three adjectives — which should be rarely used:

definitive, classic and indispensable.

The reasons for that are pretty simple for me. Panitch and Gindin have mapped out American economic history so we can connect the dots. Like the best scholars, they rarely interject their own conclusions into the mix, and leave that up to the reader. But, unlike other attempts along these lines, the book reads as something inevitable, a process toward logical conclusions, with each section reinforcing this along the way. From their preface:

This book is about globalization and the state. It shows that the spread of capitalist markets, values and social relationships around the world, far from being an inevitable outcome of inherently expansionist economic tendencies, has depended on the agency of states and of one state in particular: America. Indeed, insofar as the relationship between the American state and the changing dynamics of production and finance was inscribed in the very process that came to be known as globalization, this book is devoted to understanding how it came to be that the American state developed the interest and capacity to superintend the making of global capitalism. In this respect, this is emphatically not another book on US military interventions; it is about the political economy of American empire. In this quite distinctive imperial state, the Pentagon and CIA have been much less important to the process of capitalist globalization than the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. This is so not just in terms of sponsoring the penetration and emulation of US economic practices abroad, but much more generally in terms of promoting free capital movements and free trade on the one hand, while on the other trying to contain the international economic crises a global capitalism spawns.

The trick for governments, as they demonstrate, is to walk the tightrope between allowing the most free rein possible for Capital, while avoiding, or delaying inevitable crises. Toward the end of the book, the authors show how the American state moved from an attempt to prevent economic catastrophe, to simply trying to manage or contain them after the fact. This reader connected the dots from that and the preceding pages to note that the more freedom the state gives to capitalism, the bigger it needs to be in order to bail it out, defend it, prop it up, keep it going. Which points to one of the rare weaknesses of this account, in my view. I think the authors don’t give enough weight to military intervention on behalf of Capital. But given the overall brilliance of their analysis, I can live with that.

Contrary to right-wing myths about “big gubmint” and capitalism, there is a paradox in place. The more we privatize and commodify existence, the greater the need for governments. The more we extend market integration, the more likely local disasters become global, as we saw most recently in 2007/2008. As in, the more “successful” the American state is in spreading the gospel of Supply Side Jesus, the more likely we are of having Armageddon after Armageddon, until, finally, governments no longer have the resources to begin anew. Capitalism will be its own death, but it’s unlikely to happen because workers finally have that much needed epiphany, find true solidarity with each other, and throw off their yokes. It is far more likely that capitalism dies of its own irrationality and unsustainable nature, its Grow or Die trap.

As an ardent anti-capitalist, I long for the day of its death. But not that way. Not the way of final, worldwide economic catastrophe. Too many people will suffer, and it’s actually far more likely, in my view, that the replacements will be right-wing dictatorships, rather than the first modern day attempt at true socialism, real democracy, and actual emancipation. To get there, we need a democratic revolution, a non-violent revolution, and to provoke that we need to show the best route to “limited government” is without capitalism, which requires massive government to keep it alive. The Making of Global Capitalism provides mountains of evidence for the toxic, centuries-old marriage between State and Capital. It’s time for a divorce.

*A good C-Span discussion by the authors here.

Stephen Colbert Joins the Late Show: Who Will Fill the Vacuum?

By: rykky Monday July 21, 2014 1:56 pm

 

Stephen Colbert gained some attention a few months ago when CBS announced that he would take over hosting the Late Show when David Letterman retires some time next year.  While that is flattering to Stephen Colbert, it will create a huge vacuum when he leaves.  Stephen Colbert has contributed greatly to political satire. His sarcasm has become a major voice for the liberal cause.  He, furthermore, has become good at exposing the truth and producing quality news. What can we do to replace him?

John Oliver’s new show, This Week Tonight, appears to be receiving some attention.  His show, however, is only on once a week. It, therefore, cannot produce the amount of coverage that The Colbert Report and The Daily Show have produced, both of which are now major news programs.

My idea is to expand The Daily Show by making it an hour long. Jon Stewart should, furthermore, make sure that his show provides a synopsis of the day’s news events, similar to the way serious news programs do. With The Daily Show being an hour long he can still have his usual daily guest interview as well as put on a sketch.  In fact he could do more interviews and sketches.  Stewart should of course include more news headlines than the other stations, and mention more intellectual as well as international news stories than those other networks. The rest of the program can cover these stories in depth.

He should, furthermore, do it live at 6:30 eastern time (5:30 central), while NBC, ABC and CBS are hosting their evening news programs. Comedy Central should then rebroadcast The Daily Show when viewers in the Mountain and Pacific time zones could tune into the news programs of the three major networks. Then it will put pressure on these three channels to produce more in-depth and honest news, because of the potential for viewers to choose The Daily Show over their news programs.

With these changes to The Daily Show there is a potential for the other networks to produce higher quality news. It, however, might be a stretch to say that the other stations will improve their news programs. At any rate, Comedy Central could still produce some unique in depth news that educates a large audience despite Colbert’s departure.

Midnight Raids Rock Turkish Police Force

By: GREYDOG

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Police riot shield

Turkish police are under fire for corruption.

A not-so-secretive home-raiding operation was unleashed just days after the Gulenist movement’s newspapers started revealing statistics of the AKP government’s increasing trade with the Israeli government despite the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric that is prevalent in the AKP party. The operation is taking place only two hours after Erdogan appeared on a TV show saying, “It’s time for a cleaning now.” This sentence was the start of an operation that spread to 22 cities into the morning.

At 2:00 AM on July 22nd, Turkey experienced yet another “first time” in its history, and contrary to the permitted rules of home-raiding operations and arrests, hundreds of doors were knocked on in the middle of the night and arrests began. According to the penal code, house searches and arrests can only be made between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM. However, in exceptional cases when the operation is led by the Organized Crime and Terrorism Taskforce, home raids on high-level suspects can be carried out at unorthodox times.

At this very moment, hundreds of homes are being raided as this article is being written. Police officers and police chiefs are being arrested, including the ones who participated in the home-raiding operations and operations against the secret service officers who were also involved in the corruption probe investigation against the government ministers, prime minister, and their sons. Another group of police officers are allegedly the ones who uncovered secret Iranian cells operating in Turkey, especially Tawhid-i Salam (linked to Quds Forces/Jerusalem Army).

The charges against the police officers include espionage and forging legal documents that led to the corruption probe being prepared in the last two years. The same accusations had been made against Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) officers after another nighttime raid was carried out on May 31^st against TIB. After the December 17 and 25 corruption probe arrests of dozens of people related to government and business networks, Erdogan had said “we will raid their caves.”

The timing of the operation is also significant. The home raids are taking place just hours before Erdogan addresses the Parliament before it is dissolved for summer recess which, is the last time before presidential elections in August 2014. As the dawn breaks, the operation is spreading to other districts of Istanbul and several other cities. Government “Deepthroat” @fuatavni writes “psychological combat tools are being used to divert public perception right before the elections.” In social media, the operation has been likened to the“Night of the Long Knives” that happened 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.