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Though the fatalities in the latest flare up between Israel and Hamas – about 200 Palestinian deaths so far – dwarf those in other conflicts, the American public needs to pay particular attention to what's happening there. The United States is not merely an onlooker: we are directly involved in militarily supporting the Israeli side to the tune of $3 billion per year. And the prognosis is not good: the UN estimates that more than three-quarters of those killed in the Israeli raids – largely using US arms – over the past week are civilians.

These figures are a Godsend for terrorist recruitment. Unfortunately, any terrorist backlash against Israel will also very likely be directed at the United States since US munitions on US-supplied planes – paid for by US taxpayers – are often used in the raids.

“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men, by strangers with a calm, judicial pen, and when the borders bleed we watch with dread the lines of ink along the map turn red.” -Mayra Mannes, American Writer and Novelist
Before detailed maps and during Europe’s Age of Exploration, the location of “new” land was made by ship pilots and their rutters. A rutter was a description of how long they should sail in which direction. Using a magnetic compass, it measured courses between ports and capes, headlands and channels, the pattern winds, what currents to expect and from where, the time of seasonal storms, and where there were shoals, reefs, tides and havens. It even noted the sounding and depths and color of the water and the nature of the seabed. Basically, rutters established everything necessary for a safe voyage,  or “how one got there and how one got back.” Since control of these rutters belonged to the state that explored them, rutters were considered more valuable than a ship’s cargo, including human lives. Pilots were actually killed for their rutters. Because of this, forged rutters were common, as were deliberately designed ones for the purpose of confusing other states and their pilots. A rutter was also only as good as the pilot who wrote it, the scribe who hand-copied it, the very rare printer who printed it, or the scholar who translated it. In other words, “a pilot never knew for certain until he had been there himself.”

The current Israeli onslaught on Gaza which so far resulted in 120 dead and counting, as Israel is attempting to deliver a final blow to Hamas after many failed attempts, appears to have been planned in advance, regardless of developments on the ground. Following the abduction of three Israeli youth and their subsequent murder several weeks ago, Israel laid the blame on Hamas, although the latter denied responsibility and said it wants calm with Israel.

After assigning culpability, Israel conducted a major crackdown on the movement in the West Bank and arrested over 500 people. Israel is now launching a massive aerial bombing campaign on Gaza, claiming its goal is to eradicate Hamas. Hamas was a convenient target for the Israeli government that has been fretting over the fact that it joined a unity government with the PLO, which received international recognition. By framing Hamas as the culprit initially, Israel probably sought to disrupt the government and chose escalation at a time when it was faced by increased international criticism as peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed.

Jul 15

Shark Attack!

By Philip A Farruggio, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Remember the film Jaws? Remember how the whole town was affected by the presence of the predatory Great White? Well, all we working stiffs here in America are just as terrorized by the multitude of sharks that run this country. We have the corporate sharks and their political 'Two Party, One Party' shark allies who run our government. Either way, if you work for someone else or have a small Mom & Pop business, you are meat for these economic predators! 

As a reminder of how bad things have become, in 1965 the CEO to worker pay was 20-1. In 2000 it was as high as 382-1. Isn't it time for some righteous anger from our labor force? Isn't it time for our politicians to be held accountable for doing absolutely nothing to correct this obscenity?

Jul 15

Cutting the Knot

By Diego de Soto, Independent Media Center | Op-Ed

The Gordian knot refers to an intricate problem that is seemingly unsolvable, especially when considered in its own frame of reference. Cutting this knot requires a bold solution. 

From the obscene bloodshed in the Arab world to the political bipolarity of the West, from the looming threat of environmental catastrophe to the cold profit motive of large banks, from a new balance of power between Western and non-Western countries, from one extreme to another, the world and its conflicts, active and latent, seem increasingly indecipherable. Everything seems to be spinning out of control.

Jul 15

CNN: Palestinians Want to Die

By David Swanson, War Is A Crime | Op-Ed

In this latest assault on Gaza, Israel had by Thursday already killed 69 Palestinians including 22 children and 13 women, plus 469 wounded including 166 children and 85 women, and 70 houses destroyed. These numbers have since increased significantly.

In this video from Thursday on CNN, Jake Tapper interviews Diana Buttu, a former advisor to the PLO.  After failing to persuade her of Israel's complete innocence, he tells her that Hamas is instructing women and children to remain in their homes to die as Israel bombs them. She responds by expressing doubt that people want to die.  Oh no, says Tapper, Palestinians live in a culture of martyrdom; they want to die.

In 1992, a 44-year-old attorney made the following remarkable assertion: "For goodness' sake, you can't be a lawyer if you don't represent banks."

The attorney was Hillary Clinton. She made the statement to journalists during her husband's first campaign for president. Her legal representation of a shady savings and loan bank while working at a top corporate law firm in Arkansas (and her firm's relations with then-governor Bill Clinton) had erupted briefly into a campaign controversy. 

Washington DC - All eyes are on Argentina's soccer team as it prepares to battle Germany in the World Cup finale. On the sidelines, Argentina is embroiled in a debt dispute with so-called "vulture funds" that impacts the Argentine economy and has vast consequences for the global financial system. Argentina faces a July 30th deadline to reach a settlement with a group of hedge funds suing the country for more than $1.5 billion or face default. Argentine officials met yesterday in New York with a court-appointed mediator in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Washington, D.C. — Today, a federal appeals court sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a large coalition of citizen groups in upholding an Obama administration policy to scrutinize pollution from severe mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the National Mining Association, the State of West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and other coal industry groups, who brought the case against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The EPA policies were based on recent scientific studies showing that pollution from mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia is likely to degrade water quality in violation of federal Clean Water Act standards. One of those studies (Pond 2008) found that nine out of every 10 streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining were impaired. Another study found elevated levels of highly toxic selenium in streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining sites.

July 11, 2014, New York – Last night, dozens of organizations and individuals representing diverse interests and faiths filed amicus briefs in support of a lawsuit challenging the blanket surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey by the New York Police Department (NYPD).  Late last week, Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appealed a federal district court’s dismissal of the case, Hassan et al v. City of New York, and demanded that the NYPD stop violating American Muslims’ rights by targeting them for surveillance. 

In one brief, law enforcement officials wrote, "Bias-based policing is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive to law enforcement goals. For law enforcement to function effectively, local police must form bonds with the communities they serve.  Bias-based policing methods undermine that goal.”