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Archive for September 16th, 2009

BOSTON — Mary Travers, who as one-third of the hugely popular 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary helped popularize such tunes as “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” and “If I Had a Hammer,” died Wednesday after battling leukemia for several years. She was 72.

The band’s publicist, Heather Lylis, says Travers died at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.

Bandmate Peter Yarrow said that in her final months, Travers handled her declining health with bravery and generosity, showing her love to friends and family “with great dignity and without restraint.”

“It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic,” he said. “That’s the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity.”

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There’s one positive political aspect to this epic fight for health care reform. We now know for sure which congressional Democrats have to be vigorously challenged and defeated the next time they come up for re-election.

The health care reform debate has forced the toxic slag to gurgle to the surface and consequently revealed a few Democratic senators who, at every turn in this process, have proved to be far more interested in protecting their own asses by way of protecting the asses of their bosses in the health care mafia.

Suffice to say, Joe Lieberman has to be sending lots of “thank you” gift baskets and ponies and backrubs to the offices of Max Baucus and Kent Conrad. In fact, Baucus and Conrad — the matchstick men of health care reform — have been so insufferable, I almost forgot about Lieberman. Almost.

In fact, apart from the Republicans from whom we expected outlandish lies and cartoonish behavior, Baucus and Conrad have been much more obstructionist and damaging to real health care reform, chiefly because they possess a disproportionate level of power in relation to the nine people in the upper Midwest they represent, and because their ideas would be laughable if they weren’t so ineffectual and dangerous.

To wit: Baucus Plan is just as craptastical as we all suspected it might be.

(more…)

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Religious Right Has-Beens Try for a Resurrection

By Rob Boston, Church & State Magazine. Posted September 16, 2009.

Will financial and sex scandals sink the hopes of middle-age culture warriors Ralph Reed and Randall Terry? Don’t count them out just yet.

The last few years haven’t been easy ones for Ralph Reed.

The former Christian Coalition executive director and religious right strategist ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006. Early on, the race looked to be a cakewalk. Political observers predicted Reed would easily win the position, use it as a steppingstone to the governor’s mansion and perhaps bag a Senate seat, or even seek the White House after that.

But Reed hit a serious pothole on his road to victory. His ties to disgraced casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff became an issue, and Georgia Republicans quickly threw Reed under the bus. On Election Day, he lost decisively to State Sen. Casey Cagle 56 percent to 44 percent.

Undeterred, Reed tried to reinvent himself as a novelist. In 2008, he published Dark Horse, a political thriller about an independent candidate seeking the White House. It tanked.

Although Reed worked for the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and helped Arizona GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain raise money in 2008, he has been mostly out of the limelight since stepping down as the head of the Christian Coalition in 1997.

With his political career on the rocks, and his attempt to become a Christian fundamentalist version of John Grisham in shreds, what is Reed to do?

One answer: Get back to basics. Reed recently announced that he is jumping back into the political fray by forming a new religious right group.

Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition will target white evangelical Christians but also reach out to new audiences, including Hispanics, blacks, women and young people.

MORE HERE

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Ray Charles- Hit The Road Jack!

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Trent Hawkins, Green Left Online, Sep 12, 2009

In the wake of the bombing of two oil tankers by the occupying NATO forces, and farcical elections controlled by warlords, international public opinion is turning against the US-led war in Afghanistan.

The September 4 oil tanker bombings in Kunduz province, in which the September 5 Pajhwok Afghan News said as many as 150 civilians were killed, is just the latest in a constant stream of atrocities against civilians committed by the occupying forces.This, combined with the increasingly blatant fact that the forces kept in power by the occupation troops are just as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban, which the US and NATO ousted, means the true nature of the Afghan war as an imperial power play is increasingly obvious.

Continues >>

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By Mutadhar al-Zaidi, Counterpunch, Sep 15, 2009

Mutadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoe at George Bush gave this speech on his recent release.

In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful.

Here I am, free. But my country is still a prisoner of war.

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act.

But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland’s) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.

Continued >>

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Times Online

September 16, 2009

Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem

Israel launched a diplomatic offensive today in an attempt to discredit a damning UN report that accuses it of committing war crimes during the Gaza offensive.

Yigal Palmor, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Israel would “deploy great diplomatic and political efforts on the international stage to block and contain the perverse and noxious effects of the Goldstone Commission report”.

He added that the report set a dangerous precedent: “Every time a democracy will want to take measures to defend itself from terror, it will have to take into consideration a wide international legal campaign against its leaders and officials, based on the propaganda of the terrorists.”

Israeli officials have stated that they will not allow an independent inquiry into the military’s conduct in Gaza, so rejecting one of the key recommendations of the report.

~More~


Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch:

“Justice Goldstone’s reputation for fairness and integrity is unmatched, and his investigation provides the best opportunity to address alleged violations by both Hamas and Israel. What’s at stake is not just finding out the truth about what happened in Gaza, but the future of international efforts to hold those who violate international law accountable.”

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Elephant in the room: Race also present in rebuke of Wilson

By William Douglas | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — In their effort to admonish Rep. Joe Wilson, both white and black lawmakers in the House of Representatives voiced deep concern over a string of what they think are racially motivated attacks on the nation’s first black president.

“There’s no question that if you look at some of the actions and comments being made, there’s a fringe element that has staked out a racial position towards African-Americans that never has been open for public display” until now, said Rep. Henry Johnson, D-Ga., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Wilson “didn’t help the cause of diversity and balance with his remarks.”

The 240 to 179 vote Tuesday, largely along party lines, formally reprimanded Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, for shouting “You lie!” to President Barack Obama during his address last week to a joint session of Congress.

Wilson and the House GOP leadership protested, saying the measure was a diversionary tactic designed to deflect attention from the health care debate.

“It’s clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing the nation,” Wilson said in his defense.

However, some Black Caucus members said that Wilson’s outburst is but the latest in a long string of ugly events rooted in racism, such as last week’s flap over Obama addressing the nation’s schoolchildren, protesters showing up outside Obama events carrying licensed firearms, and “birthers” questioning Obama’s citizenship. Black Caucus members say such incidents are designed to disrespect the office of the president now that a black man holds it.

MORE HERE

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