Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.


.../...The Supreme Court today cut Exxon's liability by 90% to half a billion. It's so cheap, it's like a permit to spill.

Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.

But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.

In San Diego, I met with Exxon's US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, "Admit it; the oil spill's the best thing to happen" to the Natives.

His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal - but Natives die.

And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.

In today's ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon's recklessness was ''profitless'' - so the company shouldn't have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and it's oil shipping partners saved billions - BILLIONS - by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract.

The official story is, "Drunken Skipper Hits Reef." But don't believe it, Mr. Souter. Alaska's Native lands and coastline were destroyed by a systematic fraud motivated by profit-crazed penny-pinching. Here's the unreported story, the one you won't get tonight on the Petroleum Broadcast System:

It begins in 1969 when big shots from Humble Oil and ARCO (now known as Exxon and British Petroleum) met with the Chugach Natives, owners of the most valuable parcel of land on the planet: Valdez Port, the only conceivable terminus for a pipeline that would handle a trillion dollars in crude oil.

These Alaskan natives ultimately agreed to sell the Exxon consortium this astronomically valuable patch of land -- for a single dollar. The Natives refused cash. Rather, in 1969, they asked only that the oil companies promise to protect their Prince William Sound fishing and seal hunting grounds from oil.

In 1971, Exxon and partners agreed to place the Natives' specific list of safeguards into federal law. These commitment to safety reassured enough Congressmen for the oil group to win, by one vote, the right to ship oil from Valdez.

The oil companies repeated their promises under oath to the US Congress.

The spill disaster was the result of Exxon and partners breaking every one of those promises - cynically, systematically, disastrously, in the fifteen years leading up to the spill.

Forget the drunken skipper fable. As to Captain Joe Hazelwood, he was below decks, sleeping off his bender. At the helm, the third mate would never have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his Raycas radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker's radar was left broken and disasbled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was just too expensive to fix and operate.

For the Chugach, this discovery was poignantly ironic. On their list of safety demands in return for Valdez was "state-of-the-art" on-ship radar.

We discovered more, but because of the labyrinthine ways of litigation, little became public, especially about the reckless acts of the industry consortium, Alyeska, which controls the Alaska Pipeline.

* Several smaller oil spills before the Exxon Valdez could have warned of a system breakdown. But a former Senior Lab Technician with Alyeska, Erlene Blake, told our investigators that management routinely ordered her to toss out test samples of water evidencing spilled oil. She was ordered to refill the test tubes with a bucket of clean sea water called, "The Miracle Barrel."

* In a secret meeting in April 1988, Alyeska Vice-President T.L. Polasek confidentially warned the oil group executives that, because Alyeska had never purchased promised safety equipment, it was simply "not possible" to contain an oil spill past the Valdez Narrows -- exactly where the Exxon Valdez ran aground 10 months later.

* The Natives demanded (and law requires) that the shippers maintain round- the-clock oil spill response teams. Alyeska hired the Natives, especiallly qualified by their generations-old knowledge of the Sound, for this emergency work. They trained to drop from helicopters into the water with special equipment to contain an oil slick at a moments notice. But in 1979, quietly, Alyeska fired them all. To deflect inquisitive state inspectors, the oil consortium created sham teams, listing names of oil terminal workers who had not the foggiest idea how to use spill equipment which, in any event, was missing, broken or existed only on paper.

In 1989, when the oil poured from the tanker, there was no Native response team, only chaos.

Today, twenty years after the oil washed over the Chugach beaches, you can kick over a rock and it will smell like an old gas station.

The cover story of the Drunken Captain serves the oil industry well. It falsely presents America's greatest environmental disaster as a tale of human frailty, a one-time accident. But broken radar, missing equipment, phantom spill teams, faked tests -- the profit-driven disregard of the law -- made the spill an inevitability, not an accident.

Yet Big Oil tells us, as they plead to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, as Senator John McCain calls for drilling off the shores of the Lower 48, it can't happen again. They promise.

************Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read and view his investigations for BBC Television at An earlier version of this report originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

-------------- my 2nd snip ----------------  
 recap of story --  just 10 years after
 This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 03/07/99.

.../'...  (50% down) Looking back, the Exxon Valdez accident seems like a case study in how to create a disaster. The 987-foot tanker had no tugboat escort as the crew maneuvered around ice floes, and Hazelwood, after a day of drinking, had left a lowly third mate in charge of the bridge. The Coast Guard couldn't even track the ship's progress because of range limits on its radar.

After the tanker ran aground - on a clear night on a well marked reef - officials at the oil facilities in Valdez took 10 crucial hours figuring out which emergency response equipment to send to the spill, allowing the slick to spread unchecked.

Later, when a virtual army was deployed to fight the spill - up to 10,000 workers, 1,000 boats, and 100 aircraft at a cost of $2.1 billion to Exxon, disorganization, along with potent tides and winds, repeatedly undermined containment. Ultimately, they recovered only a fraction of the oil, leaving tides and evaporation to do most of the work.

In the end, oil reached 1,300 miles of coastline and killed staggering numbers: 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 seals, 250 bald eagles, perhaps billions of salmon and herring larvae, according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, which manages Exxon settlement money.

The spill also devastated coastal communities such as Cordova, which saw its vital herring fishery closed after the spill, and New Chenega, a native village that had been destroyed before, by a 1964 earthquake. The oil that covered Sleepy Bay poisoned the Chenegans' clam beds.

Terrible as the immediate costs were, the bigger controversy centered on the longterm damage, if any, from the disaster. Exxon paid about $300 million in damage claims in the first few years after the spill, but lawyers for people who had been harmed called that a mere down payment on losses that averaged more than $200,000 per fisherman from 1990 to 1994.

Ten years later, the two sides are still arguing. In 1994, a federal jury in Anchorage awarded thousands of fishermen, natives, and property owners $5 billion in punitive damages for the spill, which Exxon has appealed, arguing that they were wrongly blamed for problems far beyond their accident.  < atrocity or "accident" fits because there was DELIBERATE incompetence and absolute disregard for safety and RICO fraud about their fake "safety emergency teams..."  ;  hmm - kind of parallel to the NOLA "relief" disaster and the "WMD" lies about Iraq ; I guess there is no business better that rampant thievery //  >

Wildlife still suffers

Almost as soon as the official cleanup ended in 1992, Exxon researchers began declaring ''the remarkable recovery'' of Prince William Sound. ''Resources in the spill-affected area are essentially recovered and... wildlife is present at levels within historic range,'' concluded Exxon's shareholder magazine in 1993.

True, some animals, such as bald eagles and, later, river otters, did seem to bounce back quickly. However, scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service say Exxon's claims are premature even now. Not only are some species, such as loons and harlequin ducks, showing no signs of recovering, but new research suggests that the Exxon Valdez spill may be killing today.

Wright of the National Marine Fisheries Service believes traces of Exxon Valdez oil among the rocks in salmon streams are killing eggs. Research at the service's Auke Bay Lab found that the tiny red eggs actually draw the oil to them..../...



People cannot say that they did not receive Notice. Notice is given sometimes by books or movies such as the "Wizard of Oz" (1939), "The Matrix" (1998), "'V' for Vendetta," (March 17, 2006) and "The Truman Show" (1998) staring Jim Carrey whereby Truman (Carrey) discovers the Truth and finds a way out of the corporation that intended to take care of all his needs from cradle to grave in exchange for his life in the fiction world.

Herein lies a study of the "Wizard of Oz" in which Notice was given and remains current even to this day. The following is from the
Library of Halexandria :

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz was produced as a motion picture in 1939 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  (Book by L. Frank Baum; Adaption by Noel Langley; Screenplay by Florence Ryerson, Noel Langley, and Edgar Allan Woolf; Lyrics by E. Y. Harburg; Produced by Mervyn LeRoy; Directed by Victor Fleming.)  

Many people believe that The Wizard of Oz was (and is) an allegory for the radically new state of affairs that existed in America in the 1930s, following the stock market crash and the bankruptcy of the United States Government which occurred immediately thereafter.  For all extents and purposes, it can still be viewed as the current state of affairs, inasmuch as the allegorical nature, the clues strewn throughout the story, are still relevant today. The authors of Redemption in Law, Theory and Practice [BBC of America, 2000] have, for example, provided an interesting interpretation of the story of The Wizard of Oz, one which bears a considerable amount of attention being paid.  Much of what follows, comes from pages 180 to 185 of their book.

The initial setting of the story is, of course, Kansas, the geographical center of the USA, and the symbol for the heartland of America. The tornado (twister) that arrives is all about the whirling confusion that existed after the stock market crash, the theft of the country's gold, the US Bankruptcy, and the Great Depression.  The twister takes Dorothy and her dog, Toto, into a new, artificial dimension, above the solid ground of Kansas.  Upon their arrival, Dorothy notes:  "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

 Right on, Dorothy.  After the bankruptcy, Kansas was no longer "Kansas", but now "KS", an artificial corporate venue of the bankrupt US, a newly established "federal territory", and part of the "Federal Zone".  Dorothy and Toto were "in this state", which according to Redemption in Law, implies they were for tax jurisdiction purposes in the "District of Columbia" (aka "United States") -- whereas Kansas is not included in "this state", "KS" is.  

One of the first entities Dorothy met was the Scarecrow, who represented the legal Straw Man which had been created as an artificial aspect of the former American sovereigns.  The legal term, Straw Man, describes a fictitious or artificial person created by law at one's birth via the inscription in all-capital letters on the birth document/certificate -- the latter being document of title and a negotiable instrument.  It is allegedly by way of the Straw Man that the creditors of the US Bankruptcy can so effectively (and legally?) take for their own use the benefits of individuals' labor, creativity, talents, and productivity.  

In the movie the Scarecrow, describes his straw-man persona by noting: "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.  Of course, I'm not bright about doing things."  

The Scarecrow then succinctly describes himself in the classic song, "If I Only Had a Brain."  The lyrics include:  "I'd unravel every riddle, For every 'individdle,' In trouble or in pain."  

The translation is that for every individual, who discovers the existence of his or her legal Straw Man, all political and legal mysteries, complexities, and confusions begin to be resolved.  And once that same individual takes legal title to his or her Straw Man, he or she can protect themselves from legal trouble or legal damage.   

The Tin Man arrives next on the scene.  I.e. the "T-I-N" (Taxpayer Identification Number) Man is a hollow man of metal, a "vessel" or "vehicle", the newly created commercial code words for the Straw Man.  Just as the Scarecrow/Straw Man has no brain, the Tin Man has no heart.  Both are "artificial persons".  Natural person are created by nature or God, while artificial persons are created by human laws, for the purposes of society/government ("bodies politic" or "corporations").  

One of the definitions in Webster's Dictionary is "counterfeit".  Thus the Tin Man might also represent the mechanical and heartless aspect of commerce and commercial law.  As they are reputed to say in the Mafia: "Nothing personal, it's just business."  

The Tin Man also carries an ax.  Did you ever wonder about that?  The ax is a traditional symbol for that which is above a King.  In this case, commercial law, i.e. Corporate Rule is above the sovereign!  It's not a nice connotation -- any more than the "Axis Powers" of World War II included Nazi Germany, Italy (a fascist state) and Japan; or the more recent "Axis of Evil", coined by President George Bush in 2002, but curiously not yet applied to Cheney, Ashcroft and himself -- the ABC's of such.  

The Tin Man, expressing relief after Dorothy had oiled his arm, said: "I've held that ax up for ages."  And perhaps he is still having to do so.  For the symbol for fascism is the "fasces", a bundle of rods with an ax bound up in the middle, but with its blade projecting.  This fasces may be found on the American Mercury-head Dime (the Roman deity Mercury was the God of Commerce), and on the wall behind, and on each side of, the speaker's podium in the US Senate (each gold fasces being approximately six feet in height).  At the base of the podium of the seal of the US Senate are two crossed fasces.  Hmmmm...  

Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Tin Man are soon joined by the Cowardly Lion.  Known as the "king of the beasts", it's surprising to find one so cowardly.  It appears to represent the once-fearless American people who had lost their courage, the courage to denounce the US Bankruptcy, and inform its creditors that they were not the chattel that could be used as collateral for the moneys allegedly owed.  Of course, dealing with the IRS tends to leave most of us in the cowardly state; but that is due in large part to the heartless, brainless actions of an organization operating strictly under the laws of Commerce.  

In order for Dorothy and the gang to find the Wizard (the supposed answer to their prayers), they had to "follow the yellow brick road."  In other words, follow the money -- the trail of the gold taken from America -- and find who had absconded with it.  

It's important to recall from the beginning of the movie, that the Wizard was represented by a traveling mystic, a "Professor Marvel," whom Dorothy had first encountered when she ran away with Toto.  The Professor's shingle claimed that he was "Acclaimed by the Crowned Heads of Europe, Past, Present, and Future."  

That's quite a claim -- to include the future -- but seems well justified in that the Wizard is still acclaimed by the "crowned heads of Europe."  Before the Banksters looted America, they had already disempowered the monarchies of Europe and looted their kingdoms.  And with a human skull atop the perch above the door to his wagon, the Wizard began to lecture Dorothy about the priests of Isis and Osiris and the days of Egypt's pharaohs.  

Between 1916 and 1933, most of America's gold was rounded up -- aided by President Franklin Roosevelt (whose physical problems may well have symbolized America's "crippled state").  The gold went to The Federal Reserve private Bank, and was shipped off by the Fed owners to England and Germany.  This was accomplished because of the fact Federal Reserve Notes could be redeemed in gold, and their use carried an interest penalty that could also only be paid in gold.  The US traded its gold for paper, while its previous currency, United States Notes, carried no such interest requirement.  When the US Bankruptcy was declared in 1933, there was the added caveat that all Americans were required to turn in all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates by May 1 --

Our heroine was Dorothy Gale.  Did you know her last name?  Or that a gale, with the impact of water as well as wind, is considered potentially more powerful than a tornado? In any case, when she and her friends emerged from the forest, they were elated to see the Emerald City only a short distance away.  The Wicked Witch of the West, desperate for the ruby slippers that Dorothy was wearing, knew she had to make her move before Dorothy and the others were inside the walls of Emerald City.  But what was so special about Dorothy's slippers?  Was the Wicked Witch an earlier version of Emelda Marcus?  Or something else?   

Obviously, Dorothy's red-colored, ruby slippers were the same color as blood, as in flesh and blood, thus symbolizing a living, breathing man or woman -- i.e. a non-corporation, a natural person.  As such her slippers also symbolized "private" as opposed to "public".  (Even a Social InSecurity card uses a red serial number, signifying the private-side account and its attachment to the public-side.)  It is likely the ruby slippers symbolized the blood in the veins of the American people -- as opposed to "citizens of the United States", where the blue and black ink on a birth certificate is the "corporate blood".  The Wicked Witch wanted the life blood of the living human beings -- not just their Straw Men.  

Her tactic was to cover the countryside with poppy flowers -- i.e. the source of heroin, opium, and morphine -- symbolically drugging Dorothy, et al into unconsciousness, and then just step in and snatch the slippers.  I.e. dull the senses of the American people and then slip in and swipe the gold.  

The drugging worked on Dorothy, the Lion and Toto, the flesh and blood friends, but did not effect the artificial persons of the Scarecrow and Tin Man.  The latter two cried out for help, and the Good Witch of the North came to the rescue with a blanket of snow to nullify the narcotic effect of the poppies on Dorothy, the Lion and Toto.  [So, who's the "Good Witch of the North"?  Perhaps, that remains to be seen.]  

The identity of the Wicked Witch of the West is pretty clear.  Recall that her counterpart in the first part of the film was "Almira Gulch", who supposedly "owned half the county" (or perhaps half the country).  Miss Gulch had arrived at Dorothy's farm with an "Order from the Sheriff" (an Executive Order from President Roosevelt?) demanding that Toto be handed over, because allegedly he had bitten Miss Gulch.   

Despite Aunt Em's assertion about Toto ("He's really gentle, with gentle people, that is.")  Miss Gulch pressed her case saying that to withhold Toto would be to "go against the law".  When Dorothy refused to surrender toto, Miss Gulch lashed out with, "If you don't hand over that dog I'll bring a damned suit that'll take your whole farm!"  

70% of the attorneys in the world reside in the West -- America.  95% of all lawsuits in the world are filed under US jurisdiction.  The Wicked Witch of the West (Miss Gulch) was dressed in black, the choice of color for judges' robes.  Thus she represents judges and attorneys, essentially the American legal system (including the attorney-run US Congress).  These are the executioners and primary henchmen for transferring the wealth of America from the people to the banksters.  

The "Bar" has a curious history.  It represents the body of attorneys, counselors, judges and the members of the legal profession.  It has been alleged that Black's Law Dictionary, for example, is copyrighted British law and that the so-called American Bar Association is a branch or subset of the Bar Council (the sole bar association in England and Wales).  As the copyrighted property of a British company, all state Codes in the US are commercial, private British-owned law.  Attorneys may be even worse, if possible, than we thought!  

Apparently, the Wicked Witch of the West is nothing more than an operative of the "crowned heads of Europe" (who are owned by the Banksters), and desperately wanted not only the precious metals of America, but the life blood of America's labor.  Her counterpart, of course, wanted to take Toto.  The word, Toto, comes from the phrase, "in toto", which according to Black's Law Dictionary (the British "rule book") is: "in the whole, completely."  In other words, she wanted everything!   

Once Dorothy and the gang had encountered the mighty Wizard of Oz, they initially fell for the illusion.  But with Toto's aid in pulling back the curtain, they quickly realized the Wizard was nothing more than a con man.  Even when he supposedly helped Scarecrow about getting a "brain", he cited "the land of 'E Pluribus Unum,'", which is Latin for "one out of many."  This phrase appears on the American One Dollar Bill, but might be thought of as "converting the many into one", i.e. establishing a "New World Order".  

The Wizard was also supposedly amenable to taking Dorothy back in his balloon, but ended up leaving her behind.  Fortunately, the Good Witch of the North (Santa Claus?), stepped in to tell Dorothy, "You don't need to be helped.  You've always had the power to go back to Kansas."  All she had to do was to use her slippers!  

The contention is that everyone has the right and power to reclaim their Sovereignty, but just forgot.  The actual act of reclamation -- the Remedy and Recourse, is telling the Banksters that you are no longer collateral, i.e. filing with a Secretary of State.  Because the IRS (Infernal Revenue Service) is an accountancy firm and collection agency for the private Federal Reserve Bank, having been constituted under the UCC at its inception in 1954 (and operating strictly in that realm ever since), filing or not filing income tax returns becomes an interesting study in itself.  Just be sure to do your own research!  

The title of the movie also carries a message.  A "wizard", of course, is "a very clever or skillful person."  "Oz" on the other hand is an abbreviation for "ounces", which is always the unit of measurement for gold, silver, and other precious metals.  Even for large quantities of gold, etceteras, the amount is expressed in million ounces of gold, and not tons or pounds.   

In the end, Dorothy (i.e. the American people) and Toto made it home.  There is, in fact, Remedy and Recourse in law.  It's there, disguised, camouflaged, encoded.  (Why do you think States call their statutory laws, "codes" and not laws?)  It's a matter of learning the law.  All of it.  It's the necessary condition for becoming sovereign once again.  

Unless, of course, you'd prefer to continue to be conned by the Banksters.

 The Wizard of Oz is really a delightful movie.  The fact that it symbolizes one of the worst episodes in the world's history of the denial of freedom or justice, should not be construed to imply that the movie and story are not entertaining.  In fact, once the symbolic nature is seen and understood, it is a simple step to smile, take the next step to go beyond it, and go forth as if you knew where you were going.  It's all just part of The Fool's Journey, and the strange path we have each chosen to fulfill our diverse and unique destinies. 


Fastened to a Dying Animal

By Phil Rockstroh
April 29, 2008

Editor's Note: Campaign 2008 is taking on the distractive qualities of so many previous campaigns, with the American people hypnotized by shiny baubles of false patriotism and discombobulated by phony outrage over some designated bad guy linked to this or that politician.

Someday, historians will have to dissect this decaying carcass of a political system like medical examiners autopsying a rotting corpse. But for now, poet Phil Rockstroh offers up what he calls "a short jeremiad regarding that affront to the nation's dignity known as the U.S. election process":

Here in this crumbling empire once known as the American Republic, here in a nation that, at present, for all practical purposes, only produces Cheetos and killer drones, whose architecture is being winnowed down to thriving rural meth houses and foreclosed upon suburban mchouses, whose corrupt corporate culture has bequeathed upon our suffering planet dying oceans and the hyper-caffeinated tsunami of Red Bull Capitalism -- the essential question confronts us -- how does one retain (not retail) one's humanity amid the catastrophic machinery and inane accouterment of our age?

"Show your wounds," exhorted the late 20th Century artist Joseph Bueys. The wound becomes the womb, poets tell us.

Out of painful truth, beauty is born. But, antithetical to the orthodoxies of consumer capitalism, there are no shortcuts.

According to legend, Faust sold his soul for a glimpse of eternal beauty and the hidden knowledge of the world. Sadly, we've done likewise (but worse, pathetically) for a glimpse of Paris Hilton's privileged (but hardly gated and guarded) cooter.

Here, now, sprawled upon the detritus of our dignity, we are confronted by the exponential dynamics of decay known as the U.S. Presidential Election cycle. In this, all three corporate candidates are of little use to us.

Although all three have done very well for themselves by the present and prevailing arrangement known as Disaster Capitalism.

What motivation do they have to change the system by which they've thrived? McCain, Clinton, and Obama must serve the interests of the corrupt corporate class -- or else they would be marginalized.

Paradoxically, as we have witnessed, as of late, if they make even the most minute rumblings to the contrary -- as for example, blundering into a steaming pile of the obvious such as the observation that the battered laboring class of the nation might be embittered by their lot --- they risk political immolation by being labeled an elitist.

Of course, Obama is an elitist. (As are Clinton and McCain.)

And he has been put on notice by the Powers That Be that they have no problem with him being among their ranks, as long as he doesn't go rattling off at the mouth about those the rigged system benefits and those it kicks daily in the gut.

Because in a political culture as far down the rabbit hole as is this one, the surest way to be branded an elitist is to refuse to serve the elite. (Not that Obama threatened any such thing.)

This is the modus operandi of the lacquered, autoerotic dudes and dolls of the corporate media and the K Street cash-flushed phonies of the American political classes: Pose as protecters of the beer-bleary multitudes, as, all the while, carrying vintage Cabernet for a privileged few.

This is not a situation fraught with layers of ambiguity in which any deeper meaning can be mined: Below the corporate media's electronic cloud of nebulous phoniness lies a dense core of calcified phoniness.

Thus it is difficult not to harbor contempt for this cartel of narcissistic strivers who have networked the nation into a perpetual state of cataclysmic ignorance.

Seemingly, their creed is: Let the ignorant multitudes languish on the low nutrient, junk news we serve them from the drive thru windows of our corporate media outlets, while the political and business elite cannibalize what is left of the republic.

The ongoing tragedy in Iraq and the ecological and economic turmoil roiling the globe are consequences of the domination-driven mindset that the mainstream media protects. Ergo, increasingly violent responses from outside forces, both of the human and natural variety, are rising across the planet.

America, many shocks and sorrows are coming soon (probably sooner than you think) to that vacuous bubble known as "your way of life."

It should be increasingly clear to see that the corporate media's job has never been to be unbiased chroniclers of the events and circumstances of a free republic.

Rather, they are active agents serving to protect and promulgate the pernicious myths of free market capitalism. And they are a highly partisan lot.

Moreover, they have been highly successful in their mission. Hence, our lives, both inner and outer, have been conquered and colonized by the corporate empire, and a resultant forced occupation dominates our days determining the trajectory of our brief lives upon this earth.

"[S]ick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity."
-- W.B. Yeats

Yet, we, against all evidence, believe we are free actors in a spontaneous, unfolding democratic drama. When, in reality, we have been cast as dehumanized supernumeraries in a lethal farce that renders all concerned both oppressor and oppressed.

This is the central paradox that binds us. And it is why the average American cannot see our imperial occupation of Iraq and our increasingly dangerous belligerence towards Iran for what it is.

How can we have a modicum of empathy for the people of Iraq when we refuse to even glimpse our own degraded condition and our complicity therein?

"God Damn America," the people of Sadr City must rage, as the bombs shake their homes and tear the flesh from their friends and family.

"God Damn, America," I mutter, echoing the good Reverend Wright, as I witness the indifference of the American people to the war crimes committed by our nation's leaders.

By the insidious technique of propaganda by omission, the public has been manipulated into a state approaching criminal obliviousness.

"What is this crazy talk about the calamity of class stratification that defines and divides the nation, and what sort of demented, leftist loser would even raise the topic among decent company?" our present mandarins of media scoff when the topic of class inequity is broached.

Add to that, the ongoing ruse of the ceaseless dissemination of fear perfected by the right-wing media noise machine and then parroted in the mainstream media that goes something like the following:

"There are evil entities afoot in the nation known as radical liberals who scheme to take away your guns and give them to islamofascist terrorists so that those agents of Satan over at Planned Parenthood will be free to rip fetuses from their mothers wombs in order to expose the unborn to porn."

This is the reason for the cacophony of inanity that dominates the coverage of the political events of our time: It serves as white noise that drowns out unpleasant truths. It is the mood music piped into our national bubble.

Accordingly, trivial and specious narratives drive and dominate our national political debate and it has, as a consequence, rendered the nation's public too shallow to even apprehend the extent of the damage inflicted by official treachery, professional cupidity, and the degree of their own degradation therein.

Otherwise, the collective psyche of the nation would be shaken to the core. Tragically, there is no longer any core to be found.

There is merely the surface sheen of the American bubblescape ... its surface taut with inner tension as it is stretched to its limits, as, all the while, reality bristles ever closer to its over-stretched skin.


Juan Cole
Informed Comment

Tue, 13 Mar 2007 21:46 EDT

Axis of Evil
Disturbing Stirrings - Ratcheting Up For War On Iran
Hezbollah foiled US coup bid?
Call for US to show evidence of Tehran weapons link
Why Big Media Needs Propaganda to Survive
Nightmare At Guantanamo Bay
Flashback: The Torture Drawings the Pentagon Doesn't Want You to See

The Democrats are blinking and taking out of proposed legislation a provision that would have forbidden Bush to take military action against Iran without coming to the Congress first (i.e. without acting in accordance with the Constitution). I'm not sure why you need a statute, anyway, to ensure that the Constitution is followed . . . Except that it has been so long since presidents have paid much attention to the Constitution. The Imperial Presidency has overshadowed it, just as Emperor Augustus overshadowed the Roman Republic.

Those who said that such a provision would take the military option off the table with regard to Iran are simply wrong. It just required that the president make the case for a war to the legislature, which declares war. The option was still there if the legislature wanted it to be.

But after the Iraq fiasco it is amazing to me that Washington is still talking about going to war against Middle Eastern countries that pose no threat to the US mainland. The US got where it is after World War II by mostly avoiding direct military campaigns and occupations. The US does not have the resources to occupy two Middle Eastern oil states, and trying to do so will break it as surely as imperial overstretch broke its predecessors among the great powers. Those who think all this is good for Israel are being short-sighted. If the US spirals down into a non-entity over the next 30 years as a result of over-stretch, Israel will be left without a great power patron and might well not survive. <shrewd point -pandering to CZs -- yet Z's of course can manipulate Russia with ease, even the Saudis - a tyranny bolstered by another foisted 'creed' that inculcates servitude to a 'pious' monarchy; @Juan: Hey - you are not a global or globalist simpleton! / js zog > The Europeans are fed up with its militarism and itchy trigger finger, and it hasn't made any friends in its own region.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on the US to keept its troops in Iraq for the time being and only exit "responsibly." He also egged the US on to confront Iran.

Iran hasn't threatened to attack Israel militarily, and in fact has denounced the killing of innocent civilians. The Iranian regime doesn't like what it calls the Zionist occupation regime, and hopes it will dissolve the way the Soviet Union did. But Tehran hasn't threatened an attack. Olmert's insinuations to the contrary are typical of rightwing Zionist propaganda, in which aggressive and expansionist intentions are always dressed up as defensive in nature.

Olmert--that great military genius--isn't someone Americans should be listening to on the subject of war. And, he should be careful in seeming to try to influence the US government to stay in Iraq, since such a stance is extremely unpopular and getting moreso over here. Sooner or later the American public is going to rebel against the hold that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has over the US Congress, especially if they < get a brain cell and realize / js zog > think it is getting their children blown up halfway around the world.

Oh, and of course Olmert offered the US $3 billion a year to help defray the costs of the Iraq War, which he says is benefitting Israel. After all, the Saudis gave the US billions for the Gulf War in 1990-1991. But no, not really. Olmert isn't offering any actual help to the US of any sort. In fact, we're each being taxed personally to help pay for Olmert's creeping colonization of the West Bank and his vast land theft from the poor displaced Palestinians, which in turn provokes hatred of Americans and puts us in danger. So too does the American attempt to occupy militarily an Arab country like Iraq. If we don't get out of there soon, it will bring a horrible retribution on us.

In Iran, former President Mohammad Khatami urged the Iranian government to find a way of allaying North Atlantic fears over Iran's civilian nuclear research program, which Khatami said is not aimed at producing a bomb. He said he recognized legitimate concerns about all this in the West, but believed that they could be allayed if handled properly. Many Iranians are worried about UN Security Council sanctions, since they saw how such measures turned Iraq into a fourth world country in the 1990s. Khatami was president for 8 years and tried to reach out to the US and Europe, but was consistently blown off, including by Cheney in 2003.,+Khatami+Calls+on+Iran+to+Allay+Western+Fears

By Anart

"In fact, we're each being taxed personally to help pay for Olmert's creeping colonization of the West Bank and his vast land theft from the poor displaced Palestinians, which in turn provokes hatred of Americans and puts us in danger. So too does the American attempt to occupy militarily an Arab country like Iraq. If we don't get out of there soon, it will bring a horrible retribution on us."

I am forced to give up a quarter of my earnings to help pay for this psychopathic global regime to kill completely innocent human beings. I'm beyond sick of it. I can only hope that the hundreds of millions of normal human beings in the States can stop watching American Idol long enough to care about what happens - to actually notice that they're being led, literally, to the slaughter house and paying for it to boot. It's already seemingly too late - but, gee, sure would be nice if we actually tried to stop them 14MAR2007

By Irini

if you want to watch the world be destroyed, why are you reading this anyway? I know LOTS of people who will give their ALL doing what is in their hearts to do: fight the lies and disinformation for Truth to prevail. That's why i read SOTT, because they do that.
And guess what? They might be the ones who actually get to live the Better future they together created through their actions. The rest will have to come back in the same situation, in order to learn the lessons not learned. Life is a school. You fail a lesson, you repeat it. 01JAN2007


made me feel: grateful, blessed, fortunate... [what's often taken for granted]

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in
their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry
Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here."

Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies
who can't be comforted. This is for all the mothers who show up at work
with spit-up in their hair, milk stains on their blouses or diapers in
their purse.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes, and all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see, and the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collection are hanging on
their refrigerator doors...and for all the mothers who froze their buns
on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from
the warmth of their cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see
me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the
world," and mean it.
This is for all the mothers who yelled at their kids in the grocery
store when they stomped their feet and screamed for ice cream before
dinner--and for all the mothers who counted to ten instead, but realize
how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and
explained all about making babies--and for all the (grand) mothers who
wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.
For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a
year--and then read it again "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their
shoelaces before they started school, and for all the mothers who opted
for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their
daughters to sink a jump shot. This is for every mother whose head
turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even
though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach
aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to
get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please
pick them up. Right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the
words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they
bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the
mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the
survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror,
hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad
hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a
shirt, all at the same time? Or is it in her heart?

Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear
down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The
jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to
put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?

The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want
to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your

Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you
hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying? The emotions of
motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers
stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation...and mature
mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers, single mothers and
married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without. This is for you
all -- for all of us.

Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray for them.

Please pass along to all the Moms in your life.
"Home is what catches you when you fall - and we all fall."


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| Sun., April 20, 2008
Nisan 15, 5768
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Shattering a 'national mythology'
By Ofri Ilani

Of all the national heroes who have arisen from among the Jewish people over the generations, fate has not been kind to Dahia al-Kahina, a leader of the Berbers in the Aures Mountains. Although she was a proud Jewess, few Israelis have ever heard the name of this warrior-queen who, in the seventh century C.E., united a number of Berber tribes and pushed back the Muslim army that invaded North Africa. It is possible that the reason for this is that al-Kahina was the daughter of a Berber tribe that had converted to Judaism, apparently several generations before she was born, sometime around the 6th century C.E.

According to the Tel Aviv University historian, Prof. Shlomo Sand, author of "Matai ve'ech humtza ha'am hayehudi?" ("When and How the Jewish People Was Invented?"; Resling, in Hebrew), the queen's tribe and other local tribes that converted to Judaism are the main sources from which Spanish Jewry sprang. This claim that the Jews of North Africa originated in indigenous tribes that became Jewish - and not in communities exiled from Jerusalem - is just one element of the far- reaching argument set forth in Sand's new book.

In this work, the author attempts to prove that the Jews now living in Israel and other places in the world are not at all descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the Kingdom of Judea during the First and Second Temple period. Their origins, according to him, are in varied peoples that converted to Judaism during the course of history, in different corners of the Mediterranean Basin and the adjacent regions. Not only are the North African Jews for the most part descendants of pagans who converted to Judaism, but so are the Jews of Yemen (remnants of the Himyar Kingdom in the Arab Peninsula, who converted to Judaism in the fourth century) and the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe (refugees from the Kingdom of the Khazars, who converted in the eighth century).

Unlike other "new historians" who have tried to undermine the assumptions of Zionist historiography, Sand does not content himself with going back to 1948 or to the beginnings of Zionism, but rather goes back thousands of years. He tries to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a "nation-race" with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion. He argues that for a number of Zionist ideologues, the mythical perception of the Jews as an ancient people led to truly racist thinking: "There were times when if anyone argued that the Jews belong to a people that has gentile origins, he would be classified as an anti-Semite on the spot. Today, if anyone dares to suggest that those who are considered Jews in the world ... have never constituted and still do not constitute a people or a nation - he is immediately condemned as a hater of Israel."

According to Sand, the description of the Jews as a wandering and self-isolating nation of exiles, "who wandered across seas and continents, reached the ends of the earth and finally, with the advent of Zionism, made a U-turn and returned en masse to their orphaned homeland," is nothing but "national mythology." Like other national movements in Europe, which sought out a splendid Golden Age, through which they invented a heroic past - for example, classical Greece or the Teutonic tribes - to prove they have existed since the beginnings of history, "so, too, the first buds of Jewish nationalism blossomed in the direction of the strong light that has its source in the mythical Kingdom of David."

So when, in fact, was the Jewish people invented, in Sand's view? At a certain stage in the 19th century, intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. From historian Heinrich Graetz on, Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as the history of a nation that had been a kingdom, became a wandering people and ultimately turned around and went back to its birthplace.

Actually, most of your book does not deal with the invention of the Jewish people by modern Jewish nationalism, but rather with the question of where the Jews come from.

Sand: "My initial intention was to take certain kinds of modern historiographic materials and examine how they invented the 'figment' of the Jewish people. But when I began to confront the historiographic sources, I suddenly found contradictions. And then that urged me on: I started to work, without knowing where I would end up. I took primary sources and I tried to examine authors' references in the ancient period - what they wrote about conversion."

Sand, an expert on 20th-century history, has until now researched the intellectual history of modern France (in "Ha'intelektual, ha'emet vehakoah: miparashat dreyfus ve'ad milhemet hamifrats" - "Intellectuals, Truth and Power, From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War"; Am Oved, in Hebrew). Unusually, for a professional historian, in his new book he deals with periods that he had never researched before, usually relying on studies that present unorthodox views of the origins of the Jews.

Experts on the history of the Jewish people say you are dealing with subjects about which you have no understanding and are basing yourself on works that you can't read in the original.

"It is true that I am an historian of France and Europe, and not of the ancient period. I knew that the moment I would start dealing with early periods like these, I would be exposed to scathing criticism by historians who specialize in those areas. But I said to myself that I can't stay just with modern historiographic material without examining the facts it describes. Had I not done this myself, it would have been necessary to have waited for an entire generation. Had I continued to deal with France, perhaps I would have been given chairs at the university and provincial glory. But I decided to relinquish the glory."

Inventing the Diaspora

"After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom" - thus states the preamble to the Israeli Declaration of Independence. This is also the quotation that opens the third chapter of Sand's book, entitled "The Invention of the Diaspora." Sand argues that the Jewish people's exile from its land never happened.

"The supreme paradigm of exile was needed in order to construct a long-range memory in which an imagined and exiled nation-race was posited as the direct continuation of 'the people of the Bible' that preceded it," Sand explains. Under the influence of other historians who have dealt with the same issue in recent years, he argues that the exile of the Jewish people is originally a Christian myth that depicted that event as divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel.

"I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land - a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country. The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled."

If the people was not exiled, are you saying that in fact the real descendants of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah are the Palestinians?

"No population remains pure over a period of thousands of years. But the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendents. The first Zionists, up until the Arab Revolt [1936-9], knew that there had been no exiling, and that the Palestinians were descended from the inhabitants of the land. They knew that farmers don't leave until they are expelled. Even Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel, wrote in 1929 that, 'the vast majority of the peasant farmers do not have their origins in the Arab conquerors, but rather, before then, in the Jewish farmers who were numerous and a majority in the building of the land.'"

And how did millions of Jews appear around the Mediterranean Sea?

"The people did not spread, but the Jewish religion spread. Judaism was a converting religion. Contrary to popular opinion, in early Judaism there was a great thirst to convert others. The Hasmoneans were the first to begin to produce large numbers of Jews through mass conversion, under the influence of Hellenism.
The conversions between the Hasmonean Revolt and Bar Kochba's rebellion are what prepared the ground for the subsequent, wide-spread dissemination of Christianity. After the victory of Christianity in the fourth century, the momentum of conversion was stopped in the Christian world, and there was a steep drop in the number of Jews. Presumably many of the Jews who appeared around the Mediterranean became Christians. But then Judaism started to permeate other regions - pagan regions, for example, such as Yemen and North Africa. Had Judaism not continued to advance at that stage and had it not continued to convert people in the pagan world, we would have remained a completely marginal religion, if we survived at all."

How did you come to the conclusion that the Jews of North Africa were originally Berbers who converted?

"I asked myself how such large Jewish communities appeared in Spain. And then I saw that Tariq ibn Ziyad, the supreme commander of the Muslims who conquered Spain, was a Berber, and most of his soldiers were Berbers. Dahia al-Kahina's Jewish Berber kingdom had been defeated only 15 years earlier. And the truth is there are a number of Christian sources that say many of the conquerors of Spain were Jewish converts. The deep-rooted source of the large Jewish community in Spain was those Berber soldiers who converted to Judaism."

Sand argues that the most crucial demographic addition to the Jewish population of the world came in the wake of the conversion of the kingdom of Khazaria - a huge empire that arose in the Middle Ages on the steppes along the Volga River, which at its height ruled over an area that stretched from the Georgia of today to Kiev. In the eighth century, the kings of the Khazars adopted the Jewish religion and made Hebrew the written language of the kingdom. From the 10th century the kingdom weakened; in the 13th century is was utterly defeated by Mongol invaders, and the fate of its Jewish inhabitants remains unclear.
Sand revives the hypothesis, which was already suggested by historians in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to which the Judaized Khazars constituted the main origins of the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

"At the beginning of the 20th century there is a tremendous concentration of Jews in Eastern Europe - three million Jews in Poland alone," he says. "The Zionist historiography claims that their origins are in the earlier Jewish community in Germany, but they do not succeed in explaining how a small number of Jews who came from Mainz and Worms could have founded the Yiddish people of Eastern Europe. The Jews of Eastern Europe are a mixture of Khazars and Slavs who were pushed eastward."

'Degree of perversion'

If the Jews of Eastern Europe did not come from Germany, why did they speak Yiddish, which is a Germanic language?

"The Jews were a class of people dependent on the German bourgeoisie in the East, and thus they adopted German words. Here I base myself on the research of linguist Paul Wechsler of Tel Aviv University, who has demonstrated that there is no etymological connection between the German Jewish language of the Middle Ages and Yiddish. As far back as 1828, the Ribal (Rabbi Isaac Ber Levinson) said that the ancient language of the Jews was not Yiddish. Even Ben Zion Dinur, the father of Israeli historiography, was not hesitant about describing the Khazars as the origin of the Jews in Eastern Europe, and describes Khazaria as 'the mother of the diasporas' in Eastern Europe. But more or less since 1967, anyone who talks about the Khazars as the ancestors of the Jews of Eastern Europe is considered naive and moonstruck."

Why do you think the idea of the Khazar origins is so threatening?

"It is clear that the fear is of an undermining of the historic right to the land. The revelation that the Jews are not from Judea would ostensibly knock the legitimacy for our being here out from under us. Since the beginning of the period of decolonization, settlers have no longer been able to say simply: 'We came, we won and now we are here' the way the Americans, the whites in South Africa and the Australians said. There is a very deep fear that doubt will be cast on our right to exist."

Is there no justification for this fear?

"No. I don't think that the historical myth of the exile and the wanderings is the source of the legitimization for me being here, and therefore I don't mind believing that I am Khazar in my origins. I am not afraid of the undermining of our existence, because I think that the character of the State of Israel undermines it in a much more serious way. What would constitute the basis for our existence here is not mythological historical right, but rather would be for us to start to establish an open society here of all Israeli citizens."

In effect you are saying that there is no such thing as a Jewish people.

"I don't recognize an international people. I recognize 'the Yiddish people' that existed in Eastern Europe, which though it is not a nation can be seen as a Yiddishist civilization with a modern popular culture. I think that Jewish nationalism grew up in the context of this 'Yiddish people.' I also recognize the existence of an Israeli people, and do not deny its right to sovereignty. But Zionism and also Arab nationalism over the years are not prepared to recognize it.

"From the perspective of Zionism, this country does not belong to its citizens, but rather to the Jewish people. I recognize one definition of a nation: a group of people that wants to live in sovereignty over itself. But most of the Jews in the world have no desire to live in the State of Israel, even though nothing is preventing them from doing so. Therefore, they cannot be seen as a nation."

What is so dangerous about Jews imagining that they belong to one people? Why is this bad?

"In the Israeli discourse about roots there is a degree of perversion. This is an ethnocentric, biological, genetic discourse. But Israel has no existence as a Jewish state: If Israel does not develop and become an open, multicultural society we will have a Kosovo in the Galilee. The consciousness concerning the right to this place must be more flexible and varied, and if I have contributed with my book to the likelihood that I and my children will be able to live with the others here in this country in a more egalitarian situation - I will have done my bit.

"We must begin to work hard to transform our place into an Israeli republic where ethnic origin, as well as faith, will not be relevant in the eyes of the law. Anyone who is acquainted with the young elites of the Israeli Arab community can see that they will not agree to live in a country that declares it is not theirs. If I were a Palestinian I would rebel against a state like that, but even as an Israeli I am rebelling against it."

The question is whether for those conclusions you had to go as far as the Kingdom of the Khazars.

"I am not hiding the fact that it is very distressing for me to live in a society in which the nationalist principles that guide it are dangerous,
and that this distress has served as a motive in my work. I am a citizen of this country, but I am also a historian and as a historian it is my duty to write history and examine texts. This is what I have done."

If the myth of Zionism is one of the Jewish people that returned to its land from exile, what will be the myth of the country you envision?

"To my mind, a myth about the future is better than introverted mythologies of the past. For the Americans, and today for the Europeans as well, what justifies the existence of the nation is a future promise of an open, progressive and prosperous society. The Israeli materials do exist, but it is necessary to add, for example, pan-Israeli holidays. To decrease the number of memorial days a bit and to add days that are dedicated to the future. But also, for example, to add an hour in memory of the Nakba [literally, the "catastrophe" - the Palestinian term for what happened when Israel was established], between Memorial Day and Independence Day."

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