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  • Friday, November 28, 2008


    Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation

    Every year I await the arrival of Project Censored's Top 25 Censored Stories. I like to get the book version even though the basic stories are online. There's a fair amount of extra material in the book version not available online, making it worth the price in my opinion.

    Their number one story was "Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation". These figures are consistently glossed over by the American press. I was shocked by this:
    " Associated Press poll conducted in February 2007, which asked a representative sample of US residents how many Iraqis had died as a result of the war. The average respondent thought the number was under 10,000, about 2 percent of the actual total at that time."
    The whole "we don't do body counts" attitude by the US military seems clearly designed to trivialize and marginalize the Iraqi dead and displaced.
    Interviewers from the Lancet report of October 2006 (Censored 2006, #2) asked Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died. Of deaths for which families were certain of the perpetrator, 56 percent were attributable to US forces or their allies. Schwartz suggests that if a low pro rata share of half the unattributed deaths were caused by US forces, a total of approximately 80 percent of Iraqi deaths are directly US perpetrated.

    Even with the lower confirmed figures, by the end of 2006, an average of 5,000 Iraqis had been killed every month by US forces since the beginning of the occupation. However, the rate of fatalities in 2006 was twice as high as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or over 300 Iraqis every day. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.

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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008


    A Day Without a Gay?

    I'm not really sure this will work but the rationales are good and the timing seems appropriate. So on 10 December 2008 (International Human Rights Day), call in "gay." Invisibility is one reason why people think they don't know anyone who is gay or lesbian. Even if you're not "out," I think participation is easy and won't necessarily force you out. It's early winter; lots of people get sick this time of year.

    For more info, go to

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    National Day of Mourning

    This is late but people around the Northeast may be interested in this event in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

    284 Amory Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
    (617) 522-6626

    An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.

    Thursday, November 27, 2008 (U.S. "thanksgiving" day) at Cole's Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 12 noon SHARP. Cole's Hill is the hill above Plymouth Rock in the Plymouth historic waterfront area.

    There will be a march through the historic district of Plymouth. Plymouth has agreed, as part of the settlement of 10/19/98, that UAINE may march on Day of Mourning without the need for a permit as long as we give the town advance notice.
    PROGRAM: Although we very much welcome our non-Native allies to stand with us at NDOM, it is a day when Native people only speak about our history and what is going on with us now and the struggles that are taking place throughout the Americas. Speakers will be by invitation only. This year's NDOM is once again dedicated to our brother Leonard Peltier.
    SOCIAL: There will be a social held after the National Day of Mourning speak-out and march this year. It is possible that the hall that we have obtained is not large enough to seat everyone at once. We may have to do two seatings. Preference for the first seating will be given to Elders, children and their mother/caretaker, pregnant women, Disabled people, and people who have traveled a long distance to join National Day of Mourning. Please respect our culture and our wish to ensure that these guests will be the first to be able to sit and eat. With this understanding in mind, please bring non-alcoholic beverages, desserts, fresh fruit & vegetables, and pre-cooked items (turkeys, hams, stuffing, vegetables, casseroles, rice & beans, etc.) that can be easily re-warmed at the social hall. Thank you.
    TRANSPORTATION: Limited carpool transportation may be available from Boston. Contact the Boston IAC Office at (617) 522-6626. There is transportation from New York City via the International Action Center, for more information call 212-633-6646.

    Directions: National Day of Mourning is held by the statue of Massasoit at Cole's Hill. Cole's Hill is the hill rising above Plymouth Rock on the Plymouth waterfront. If you need directions, use Water Street and Leyden Street in Plymouth, MA as your destination at That will bring you to within a few hundred feet of Plymouth Rock and Cole's Hill. You can probably find a place to park down on Water Street.

    Donations: Monetary donations are gratefully accepted. Please make checks payable to the Metacom Education Project and mail to Metacom Education Project/UAINE at 284 Amory Street, Boston, MA 02130.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008


    I am the Bitterness Amid Celebration

    Perhaps the reality of Obama's win is unhinging me. I should be, if not jubilantly happy, at least satisfied with the outcome. Yet I remain somewhat gloomy about it.

    While everyone celebrates the milestone of Obama's win, I look at the things he probably will not do.

    Troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq with any speed.

    Troop levels in Afghanistan will probably be increased.

    While Obama has said he will pursue diplomacy more actively, I very much doubt that will significantly decrease U.S. military interventions over the next four years. I suspect that realpolitik will be a central consideration rather than compassionate or idealistic generosity.

    Whatever actions he takes on the economic front won't happen until after his inauguration. And whatever he does will probably take a long time to take effect.

    As I've said, Obama is inheriting a huge pile of problems from Bush: systemic de-regulation, ideological politicization of science, demoralization of career civil servants, etc. The list is extensive and Obama will be hard pressed just to correct the shambles left by the Bushies, much less advance a positive agenda.

    To be blunt, I haven't heard anything to lead me to believe Obama is anything but a centrist. While this is an enormously refreshing change from the extreme bellicose hard-heartedness of Bush, I remain unconvinced we will actually see substantive changes quickly in an Obama administration. I may be wrong. I hope I'm wrong.

    "But," you sputter, "This is a historic moment, a shining beacon of achievement that renounces racism in America and affirms the highest aspirations of our Constitution! We have shown that America has moved beyond racial divisions!"

    Uh-huh. That and US$3.50 will get you a latte. (For now.)

    Even with the "mandate" Obama received from a large majority of the voters, his path will be enormously hard. He's an excellent rhetorician, an eloquent speaker who clearly articulates the desires of many Americans but it's difficult to judge how effective he will be.

    However much I want Obama to succeed and accomplish a re-invigorated liberal agenda, he will be constrained by enormously powerful economic and political forces. I am certainly not pointing a finger at some vague free-floating racism but at the resistance of the system itself to change.

    I hope for change but my expectations are exceedingly low.

    If he doesn't accomplish some major items quickly, I strongly expect all that wonderful goodwill flowing from the electorate in these celebratory moments will turn to resentment.

    No one falls faster than a hero.

    I'm sorry if this all comes across as harsh or overly judgmental of a man who hasn't been President-elect for even 24 hours. I'm sorry to rain on this golden parade of optimism and bright visions of the future I see blooming everywhere. I'm sorry to cast doubt on accomplishments yet to come.

    My contrarian nature has emerged to spoil the party and I am sorry.

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    Monday, November 03, 2008


    Rashid Khalidi's Connections to Obama... And McCain

    This item was on Democracy Now! on 10/30/08 and the sheer gall behind the "accusation" made me laugh aloud. The contradiction is ineffably amusing. [All emphasis mine]:

    McCain Faults Obama for Ties to Professor He Once Funded

    On the Republican side, Senator McCain has revived an old attack on Obama by bringing up his alleged ties to Palestinian American professor Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi teaches Arab Studies at Columbia University, where he also heads the Middle East Institute. The McCain campaign has cited few allegations against Khalidi aside from the fact that he is a Palestinian and supports Palestinians’ right to resist Israeli military occupation. Speaking last night on CNN’s Larry King Live, McCain criticized the LA Times for refusing to release a video of Obama appearing at a 2003 event honoring Khalidi.

    Larry King: “Speaking of newspapers, there is the LA Times.”

    Sen. John McCain: “Yeah.”

    King: “They apparently—your campaign says that they’re suppressing videotape of a 2003 banquet when Barack Obama praised Palestinian activist and scholar Rashid Khalidi. What’s this all—what is this?”

    Sen. McCain: “Why shouldn’t they—”

    King: “Why would the paper suppress this?”

    Sen. McCain: “I have no idea. If they have the tape, they ought to make the American people aware of it, let them see it and make their own judgment. Frankly, I’ve been in a lot of political campaigns, a whole lot. I’ve never seen anything like this, where a major media outlet has information and a tape of some occasion—maybe it means nothing. Maybe it’s just a social event. I don’t know. But why should they not release it? And why shouldn’t the Obama campaign want it released?”

    King: “Is this Palestinian some sort of terrorist?”

    Sen. McCain: “We know that at that time, the PLO was a terrorist organization.”

    King: “He was PLO?”

    Sen. McCain: “Yeah, yeah—that’s what the allegation is, Larry. I haven’t seen the tape. So—but we should see the tape to make it—the American people make a judgment.”

    McCain went on to compare Obama’s appearance at the dinner to appearing at a “Neo-Nazi” event. The LA Times says it won’t release the tape because of a promise made to the source who provided it. Khalidi has never worked as a spokesperson for the PLO. McCain’s attack on Khalidi marks the latest in a series of efforts to disparage Obama because of real or concocted ties to Arabs and Muslims. Khalidi is a respected scholar who has called for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict in accordance with a majority of public opinion in the US and worldwide. The so-called Khalidi “controversy” also comes as a surprise in light of McCain’s own previous ties to Khalidi’s work on behalf of Palestinian rights. During the 1990s, McCain chaired the International Republican Institute when it gave several grants to Khalidi’s Center for Palestine Research and Studies.

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