Two House budget committee members — Rep. Heath Shuler, (D-N.C.), and Rep. Mike Simpson, (R- Idaho) — have been making the media rounds as the new faces of establishment bipartisanship in favor of a letter 100 congress people signed on to stating “all options for mandatory” — presumably including Social Security, which adds nothing to the deficit — “and discretionary spending and revenue must be on the table.”
Sam Husseini questioned them as they left the Fox studios on Sunday morning.
Shuler: “I think the thing that you look at: here’s an opportunity that we can do so much because once the Supercommittee releases its finding and that becomes a bill, and it’s put on the House floor, there’s no amendments to it, it can’t be altered or changed when it goes from the House to the Senate. So that gives us an opportunity to have a clean slate to be able to put everything on the bill, to increase the revenue. The problem is, you don’t find this very often when you have members of the different political parties working together and acting. It’s much easier to split the screen and let us debate and argue something. But we’re united. We’re together. Now we have 100 members in the House and counting, with the 45 members in the Senate. That is the best, most newsworthy thing we can provide for you under the most difficult situations that we have. And to be able to come up with the cuts that’s necessary and the revenue that’s necessary to put us on a more sustainable path.”
Shuler and Simpson’s handlers begin shouting to try to stop the questioning.
Husseini: “Why aren’t you united to tax the rich and the corporations and end the wars? Why aren’t you united for something that is actually popular rather than pursues monied interests?”
Simpson: “We’ve ought to be looking at everything.”
Husseini [holding up box of Band-Aids just off camera]: “Let me ask you this: yesterday I went to a pharmacy and there’s a tax on Band-Aids. Why isn’t there a tax on financial transactions? I had to pay a 6 percent tax on Band-Aids that people need.”
Simpson: “Probably a state sales tax, right?” [Actually, it’s D.C. and D.C. is not a state, with many of its laws set by a Congress that D.C. residents have no real voice in and which Simpson and Shuler are members of.]
Husseini: “What’s your position on financial transaction tax?”
Simpson: “You’d have to look it up.”
Husseini: “Why can’t JP Morgan pay its transaction tax on their dealings [like ordinary people have to pay on necessities like Band-Aids]?”
Shuler and Simpson walk away.
Special thanks to Chris Belcher (video), Sam McCanne (transcription), Jonathan Schwarz, Matthew Bradley, David Swanson, Wendy Mink, Thomas Ferguson and Elisa Salasin for helping.
Egyptian Taekwondo champion Rawan Ali refused on Wednesday to play against her Israeli counterpart Sevan Fenster in the quartet final of the Croatian Open Taekwondo open tournament in the 47kg category, according to the Israeli website SPORT 1.
The website reported that when Ali was informed of her match again Fenster, she refused to compete and quit the tournament. The rules of the game give players the right to withdraw from the bout without having to provide any justification.
This is not the first time someone has refused to play against an Israeli. A match between an Iranian player and Israel’s Lern Melakhy also did not take place.
Palestinian civil society’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) believes that the promotion of Israel as a “fair player” through its participation in sporting teams and individual and international sporting events legitimizes the actions of Israel and the occupation of Palestine.
Over the last few months, Algerian and Tunisian players have also refused to compete with their Israeli opponents. On October 4, Algerian judoka Mariam Moussa refused to compete against Israel’s Shahar Levi in the knockout round of the Judo World Cup, compromising her chances for qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.
Last month, Tunisian fencer Besbas Azzah refused to face her Israeli counterpart Naomi Mills in the final match of the World Fencing Championships, citing her support for the Palestinian cause. Tunisia suspended relations with Israel in 2000 and Algeria has never recognized the country.
A small radio station, “Kol Hashalom,” unique in that it was directed jointly by a Palestinian and a Jew, was abruptly shut down by the Israeli police on Thursday.
Kol Hashalom, which roughly means “All for Peace,” had been active for the last seven years. It was a joint venture of the Palestinian NGO Biladi and the Israeli NGO Jewish-Arab Center for Peace, and was directed by former Meretz MK Mossi Raz and Meissa Bransie-Senyura. The station broadcast from Ramallah, under a license granted by the Palestinian Authority to the Biladi company. (Full disclosure: I participated as a co-host in a Kol Hashalom broadcasts about a year ago).
Naturally, the very idea of a Jewish-Palestinian radio was anathema to the Jewish right (can you seriously call it “Israeli” anymore, when its essence is the eradication of Israeli identity?). So, in September, one of the leaders of the campaign for the destruction of Israeli democracy, Likud MK and Sarah Palin fan Danny Danon, demanded (Hebrew) that the station be shut down. Danon claimed the station was “inciting against Israel,” specifically that it was calling upon people “to reject political decisions arrived at democratically.” To wit, to support Palestinian statehood.
On November 4th, the Ministry of Communication sent a letter to Kol Hashalom, saying it is acting illegally and must close down immediately. The managers, having consulted their legal counsel, sent a letter last week denying all those claims. On Thursday, a day later – unheard-of speed for the Israeli police – Raz was summoned for a police interrogation, where he was informed that he was suspected of managing an illegal radio station, and that if he does not order it to shut down immediately, he would be arrested and the police would raid the station’s Jerusalem offices.
In a phone conversation with Raz today, he noted that a threat of detainment over the claim of running an illegal radio station is unprecedented. As far as I recall, in all of the years of the saga surrounding settler radio Channel 7, never were any of its managers arrested – even though its broadcasting interfered with the radio frequencies of the Ben Gurion Airport, and even though it never even claimed to be legal or licensed.
Kol Hashalom, again, is based in Ramallah (the Jerusalem offices serve for its internet broadcast) and has a Palestinian license. Raz says the interrogators presented him with two arguments. One, that the station broadcasts in Hebrew, for a Hebrew-speaking public, which means it is an Israeli station which bypasses the law. Really? I guess the police don’t know that bypassing the law is, by definition, not breaking it. Raz, sarcastically, suggests the police should immediately arrest the anchors of the Persian Voice of Israel: According to the logic of the police, it is an Iranian radio station and the anchors are obviously Iranian spies.
Mossi Raz, who is sure that the closing of the station is part of an assault on the media. (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)
The second argument of the police was dubbed by Raz as the “I’ve murdered my parents, have pity on an orphan” argument: They said that Israel has never granted the Palestinian Authority any frequencies, even though it was obligated to do so in the Oslo Accords. This argument suffers from two problems: Raz noted that the Accords grant the PA the right to grab their own frequencies if Israel doesn’t allocate them within a certain time frame. Secondly, and more importantly, this argument basically says that ALL Palestinians radio stations are, without exception, illegal – yet strangely enough the Israeli police only bother itself with the Jewish-Palestinian one. This can be seen as even more proof of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank: Israel claims the right to shut down a radio station licensed by the so-called autonomous PA.
This stinks to high heaven, and looks suspiciously like – as Raz says openly – a part of the continuing effort of Netanyahu and his right-wing allies to overtake the media and silence their political rivals. Raz, fearing a raid on the Jerusalem offices, ordered the broadcasts to be shut down on Thursday, and now Kol Hashalom is preparing an appeal to the High Court of Justice. Developing.
NPR did a breathless story Thursday on an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a space called Discovery Times Square– an exhibit mounted in partnership with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, an Israeli governmental authority. But reporter Margot Adler didn’t tell you that.
Adler: … you can roam past artifacts from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, some never shown before. Statues, pottery, jewelry, Roman Hellenistic and objects from ancient Israel, the first and second temple periods.
I don’t know that that’s properly described as “ancient Israel.” These artifacts are from all over lands ruled by many different kingdoms. Qumram, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, is today in the Occupied West Bank, what we now call Palestine.
Adler: [Curator] Risa Levitt Kohn says there are 350 active excavations going on in Israel at any time
Again, I don’t think these excavations are going on in Israel. The Israeli Antiquities Authority — with whom Levitt Kohn works closely — lists many excavations underway in occupied territories, including the Golan, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.
Adler: and one purpose of the exhibit is to help people appreciate the ancient world.
Huh. Is that really the purpose of the exhibit? Somehow I doubt it.
John Laughland’s prescience on the Arab Spring ‘revolutions’ and the ongoing co-option of the anti-war left
Back in 2005, British journalist John Laughland wrote two excellent op-ed pieces for the Guardian. In “The mythology of people power,” Laughland commented on the recently deposed President of Kyrgyzstan’s reference to the role of a criminal “third force” in the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew him:
Originally used as a label for covert operatives shoring up apartheid in South Africa, before being adopted by the US-backed “pro-democracy” movement in Iran in November 2001, the third force is also the title of a book published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which details how western-backed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can promote regime and policy change all over the world. The formulaic repetition of a third “people power” revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over one year – after the similar events in Georgia in November 2003 and in Ukraine last Christmas – means that the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, when a series of US-backed coups consolidated that country’s control over the western hemisphere.
Many of the same US government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, who boasted in these pages in 2001 that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua: “supporting democracy”.
But for some reason, many on the left seem not to have noticed this continuity. Perhaps this is because these events are being energetically presented as radical and leftwing even by commentators and political activists on the right, for whom revolutionary violence is now cool.
As protesters ransacked the presidential palace in Bishkek last week (unimpeded by the police who were under strict instructions not to use violence), a Times correspondent enthused about how the scenes reminded him of Bolshevik propaganda films about the 1917 revolution. The Daily Telegraph extolled “power to the people”, while the Financial Times welcomed Kyrgyzstan’s “long march” to freedom.
This myth of the masses spontaneously rising up against an authoritarian regime now exerts such a grip over the collective imagination that it persists despite being obviously false: try to imagine the American police allowing demonstrators to ransack the White House, and you will immediately understand that these “dictatorships” in the former USSR are in reality among the most fragile, indulgent and weak regimes in the world.
In “Enemies bought, friends sold,” Laughland noted the similar failure to understand the subsequent upheaval in neighbouring Uzbekistan:
The twist this time is that President Karimov of Uzbekistan is presented as a pro-US tyrant rather than a Soviet-era throwback – so anti-war left and liberal commentators have been co-opted into baying for his blood. Yet their support for the latest “people power” movement to shake a former Soviet republic is naive. They seem not to have noticed that Uzbekistan is home to precisely the same network of US-funded non-governmental organisations, human rights activists and media outlets that helped to engineer pro-US “revolutions” in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Take the source of Friday’s atrocity reports from Andijan: one “opposition journalist” from the website ferghana.ru, which seems to be a shop window for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting. IWPR, which has since provided the bulk of reports in the western press, is overwhelmingly funded by western governments and private foundations close to them: the US state department, USAid, the National Endowment for Democracy, the US Institute for Peace, George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the British Foreign Office, the European commission, the OSCE, Unesco, and other European governments, among others.
People who reason that the US supports President Karimov, and will therefore turn a blind eye to his alleged excesses, do not understand the thrust of current American policy, which is to try to support and control all sides in any political equation. As in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan under former President Akayev, Uzbekistan is home to scores of western-backed NGOs that agitate politically for the opposition. For instance, Freedom House – a notorious CIA front and the main architect of the orange revolution in Ukraine – has an office in Tashkent.
If Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak had read the conclusion to Laughland’s April 1 piece, they could have been forgiven for thinking it was intended as an April Fool’s joke:
But perhaps the clearest message sent by Akayev’s overthrow is this: in the new world order the sudden replacement of party cadres hangs as a permanent threat – or incentive – over even the most compliant apparatchik.
Now, they know better. But most anti-war left and liberal commentators remain as clueless as ever.
The Real News | November 12, 2011