Sitting on the Evidence: Obama Administration Silent on IDF Murder of 19-Year-Old American

Murder is murder, and terror is terror, you might think. But when terror is committed against an American citizen by the state of Israel the response from the US government is not protest, and it is surely not to demand justice, much less seek vengeance. It is silence.

In 1985, when terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front, in an act of piracy on the high seas in the Mediterranean, took control of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, and executed the Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer, shooting him in the forehead and then pushing the wheelchair-bound 69-year-old overboard, the US responded with dramatic action. To rescue the passengers, Italian negotiators had worked out a deal granting safe passage to Tunisia to the pirates, in return for the freeing of the ship and its other passengers. But President Ronald Reagan dispatched a US fighter plane to intercept the plane carrying the PLF pirates to safety, and forced it to land at a US airbase in Italy, where they were turned over to Italian authorities for prosecution.

Compare this to another more recent act of piracy, the violent assault and high-seas boarding of the Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara and a flotilla of smaller ships bound from Turkey to Gaza by troops from the Israeli Defense Force, who commandeered the vessels, killing eight Turkish and one young Turkish-American passenger. The US failed to condemn this latter act of piracy, and as for the American who was slain, 19-year old Furkan Dogan, there was not a word of protest.

Furkan Dogan, executed by Israeli soldiers in the raid on the Mavi Marmara, ignored by Washington and the US mediaFurkan Dogan, executed by Israeli soldiers in the raid on the Mavi Marmara, ignored by Washington and the US media

The American Way: Spreading Democracy to Afghanistan, One Journalist's Arrest at a Time

US-led forces in Afghanistan sure did a bang-up job this week at promoting the concept of Western “democracy.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the puppet intelligence agency of the Afghan government, between them, arrested and held three journalists. Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance reporter for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, Mohammed Nader, a staff correspondent and cameraman for Al Jazeera, and Hojatullah Mojadadi, an Afghan local radio station manager, were all held without charge for the “crime” of allegedly having developed contacts with the Taliban. Nekzada and Nader were held by US forces for three days. Mojadadi was held by Afghan authorities for six days.

The three were finally released thanks to international pressure and following demands for the release of the two NATO-held journalists made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The US military was upset with the fact that AP and Al Jazeera stringer Nekzad had developed contacts with Taliban forces. Actually, in the initial press announcement from NATO forces, they said that he was a “suspected Taliban media and propaganda facilitator, who participated in filming election attacks.” That is to say, he managed to get over to the “other side” in a guerrilla war, to let the outside world see what is going on in Afghanistan. Nader was accused of propagandizing for the Taliban.

Exclusive! New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial; Sidewalk Murder Scene Should Have Displayed Bullet Impacts

ATTN: See a short film by Ted Passon on this story near the bottom of this homepage

During the contentious 1982 murder trial of Philadelphia radio-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a central argument of the prosecution in making its case for the conviction and for imposition of a death penalty was the trial testimony of two key eyewitnesses who claimed to have actually seen Abu-Jamal fire his pistol repeatedly, at virtually point-blank range, into the prone Officer Daniel Faulkner.
This testimony about Abu-Jamal’s shooting at the defenseless policeman execution-style solidified the prosecution’s portrayal of Abu-Jamal as a cold-blooded assassin.

There was however, always the lingering question, never raised at trial, or even during the subsequent nearly three-decades-long appeals process, of why, if Abu-Jamal had fired four bullets downward at Faulkner, only hitting him once with a bullet between the eyes on the morning of December 9, 1981, there was no evidence in the surface of the sidewalk around the officer’s body of the bullets that missed.

    Now ThisCantBeHappening! has raised further questions about that troubling lack of any evidence of missed shots by doing something that neither defense nor prosecution ever bothered to do, namely conducting a gun test using a similar gun and similar bullets fired from a similar distance into a slab of old concrete sidewalk similar to the sidewalk at the scene of the original shooting on the south side of Locust Street just east of 13th Street in Center City, Philadelphia.

Harah!: Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians

The surprise disclosure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its state Homeland Security Agency, along with a number of local police departments in the state, have been employing a private Israeli security company with strong links to Mossad and the Israeli Defense Force to spy on law-abiding citizens, grows increasingly disturbing when the website of the company, called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, is examined.

ITRR’s slick site at TerrorResponse.org features a homepage image of an armor-clad soldier or riot policeman preparing to fire an automatic pistol, while the company boasts of being “the preeminent Isreal/American security firm, providing training, intelligence and education for clients across the globe.”

Image captured from ITRR's websiteImage captured from ITRR's website

Obama's Rose-Colored Glasses: Growth Has Little or Nothing to Do with Jobs or Reducing Poverty

Faced with the bad, but hardly surprising news, that poverty has increased in the US on his watch, to a record level not seen since before President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty in 1965, President Obama is declaring that the answer to poverty and joblessness is economic growth.

He’s wrong, but, as they say on NPR’s “Marketplace” program, “But first, the numbers.”

According to new figures from the Census Bureau, the poverty rate in America in 2009 jumped to 15%, up from 13.2% of the population in 2008. That would be one in seven of us, or about 45 million people living below the poverty line of $22,000 for a family of four. Now, obviously, things are pretty tough for people who are earning a lot more than that. It’s not easy getting by with a family of four on $35,000, especially in some parts of the country, so the real poverty rate is probably a whole lot higher than 15%, but let’s not quibble. The point is that we now have the highest rate of poverty that the country has seen since the mid-’60s.

Obama's rosy view of economic growth is at odds with realityObama's rosy view of growth is at odds with reality

Obama is claiming that growing the economy is the answer for these people. As he put it at a White House news conference, “The most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy and making sure there are enough jobs out there…If we can grow the economy faster and create more jobs, then everybody is swept up into that virtuous cycle.”

The problem with this answer is that economic growth doesn’t guarantee jobs, and it also doesn’t guarantee that any jobs created, or already there, will pay better wages.

Journalists in Rose-Colored Glasses: Economic Cheerleading Instead of Reporting

It’s no surprise that the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress are trying to claim that the recession (which they blame on Bush and Cheney) is over and that the economy is slowly returning to health thanks to their efforts at economic stimulus. At least those highly dubious claims get challenged by Republicans, who can be relied on to counter with evidence to the contrary, and to claim (with equal self-serving deception) that the economy is in a slump thanks to Democratic policies.

The problem comes when the media, which are supposed to take a skeptical stance, start playing economic cheerleaders, and providing the public with false information and false hopes.

This has come to be pretty much the norm these days. Those who warn that the underpinnings of the US economy are eroded, and that there is really nothing left to drive a recovery, or who warn that there is a serious danger of a slide into an even deeper recession or even a depression, are written off as “doomsayers,” and given little credence or ink, while the slightest sign of something positive gets hailed as evidence that things are on the mend.

Investors Are a Wacky Bunch, and the Financial Press is Largely a Shill Game

One of the great mantras of the modern economics profession is that markets know best, and that the collective “wisdom” of investors is generally correct.

I’ve never really believed that, having spent years writing about business and finance. In fact, my interviews with market strategists, Wall Street economists and portfolio managers have convinced me that it’s the rare investor or analyst who has done much serious reading of history, political science or even economics and finance for that matter. Sure, some people can be very good at analyzing the worth and the potential of a specific company, but when it comes to macroeconomic trends, most of the explanations you get are very narrowly focussed and ignorant, showing little concern for or understanding of the great drivers of history, economics or politics.

That said, I’m still left scratching my head at today’s roughly 3% jump in the US equities market, which the investment analyst community is attributing to a report by the relatively obscure Institute for Supply Management, which announced that its index of manufacturing activity in the US had risen a bit to 56.3, instead of dipping slightly, as had been predicted by analysts.

Now Here's a Jobs Plan: Apply the FICA Tax to All Income Including Investment Income and Lower the Retirement Age

It’s time for us progressives to stop playing defense on Social Security.

We’ve watched the retirement system suffer years of attacks by conservatives and by class traitors in the Democratic Party. We have seen the retirement age raised since 1983 from 65 to 67, and the cost-of-living calculation altered so that our benefits have declined in value over time, while the tax rate on working people has risen.

It’s time to stop fighting rear-guard actions and to go on the offense.

The 'Mosque' Saga: Republican Racists, Media Scumbags and Hypocrites, Democratic and Republican

The saga of the Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, deceptively dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by a right-wing clique with the avid support of Rupert Murdoch and his New York Post and Fox TV Network, exposes the right in America as a bunch of charlatans, hypocrites and plain old garden-variety scumbags.

New York, the ultimate melting pot of cultures, races and religions in America, has no problem with a Muslim center being set up in Lower Manhattan. (It is not, let me note, being built on the site of the World Trade Center, or even next door. That area is reserved for strip clubs, bars etc., and a big hole in the ground that nobody can figure out how to fill.)

The community center, which will include a Muslim mosque and a multi-religion chapel, is blocks away from the site of the old Twin Towers, which, if you’ve lived in Manhattan as I did for years, is described locally as “across town.”

The biggest hypocrisy about this right-wing fake scandal is that the people making all the noise are the same right wing ranters who are always complaining about the Federales interfering with local people’s right to do things their own way.

There's Nothing Wrong with Social Security that Taxing the Rich Fairly Wouldn't Fix

New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman, in his column today, is right to expose the attacks on Social Security as being the work of right-wing ideologues eager to destroy a government program that works, backed by cowardly Democrats who want to show their fiscal “responsibility” by getting tough with future pensioners.

But he doesn’t go the extra step to point out that this program, founded 75 years ago as a cornerstone of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, could be much more fair and even generous to elderly and disabled retirees, and also placed on a much sounder economic footing, by a few simple reforms that would not cost most people a penny, or require hard working folks to work one day longer before retiring.