Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
See the BBC's 2:28 min. video clip, "Massive Israeli air raids on Gaza" here. Click here for a collection of photos of the carnage. Here are a few excerpts from the BBC text report:
Israeli [American-made] F-16 bombers have pounded key targets across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 225 people, local medics say.
Most of those killed were policemen in the Hamas militant movement, which controls Gaza, but women and children also died, the Gaza officials said.
About 700 others were wounded, as missiles struck security compounds and militant bases, the officials added.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said the operation "may take some time"- but he pledged to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
"It's not going to last a few days,'' he said in a televised statement, flanked by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Israel said it was responding to an escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza and would bomb "as long as necessary".
They were the heaviest Israeli attacks on Gaza for decades. More air raids were launched as night fell.
Staff at the main hospital in Gaza say operating rooms are overflowing, it is running out of medicine, and there are not enough surgeons to cope.
The raids came days after a truce with Hamas expired.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "there is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight". ...
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Hamas of having triggered the new bout of violence.
"The United States is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza," she said in a statement.
"We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there. The ceasefire must be restored immediately and fully respected." ...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Here's a few excerpts from "Bush pardons man who helped Israel during wartime" by Deb Reichmann:
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a gesture of forgiveness for a decades-old offense, President George W. Bush on Tuesday granted a pardon posthumously to a man who broke the law to supply aircraft to Jews fighting in Israel's 1948 war of independence.Here's a report of Clinton's remarks on Greenspun:
Charles Winters, a Miami businessman considered a hero in Israel, was listed in a batch of 19 pardons and one commutation that Bush issued before leaving for Camp David to spend the holidays. No high-profile lawbreakers were on the list. ...
Members of the Jewish community, who adorned his father's funeral with blue and white flowers symbolic of the Israeli flag, filled in details about his father's past. His obituary in The Miami Herald read, "Charles Winters, 71, aided birth of Israel."
In the summer of 1948, Winters, a Protestant from Boston who exported produce, worked with others to transfer two converted B-17 "Flying Fortresses" to Israel's defense forces. He personally flew one of the aircraft from Miami to Czechoslovakia, where that plane and a third B-17 were retrofitted for use as bombers.
"He and other volunteers from around the world defied weapons embargoes to supply the newly established Israel with critical supplies to defend itself against mounting attacks from all sides," New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Gary Ackerman, Jose Serrano and Brian Higgins said in a Dec. 15 letter urging Bush to pardon Charlie Winters. "Without the actions of individuals like Mr. Winters, this fledgling democracy in the Middle East almost certainly would not have survived as the surrounding nations closed in on Israel's borders."
The three B-17s were the only heavy bombers in the Israeli Air Force. It is reported that counterattacks with the bombers helped turned the war in Israel's favor. In March 1961, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir issued a letter of commendation to Winters to recognize his contributions to Israel's survival as an independent state.
Winters, a Protestant from Boston, was convicted in 1949 for violating the Neutrality Act for conspiring to export aircraft to a foreign country. He was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Two others, Herman Greenspun and Al Schwimmer, also were convicted of violating the act, but they did not serve time. President Kennedy pardoned Greenspun in 1961. President Clinton pardoned Schwimmer in 2000.
"Rules are rules, but it's interesting that my dad was the low man on the totem pole in the operation, but he's the only one who had to serve time," said Jim Winters, 44.
Reginald Brown, an attorney who worked on the Winters pardon, said Bush's action "rights a historical wrong and honors Charlie's belief that the creation of the Jewish state was a moral imperative of his time. ... Charlie Winters helped shape human history for the better."
Film director Steven Spielberg wrote a letter to Bush appealing for a pardon for Winters.
"There are probably many unsung heroes of America and of Israel, but Charlie Winters is surely one of them," wrote the director of "Schindler's List," his Oscar-winning movie about the Holocaust. "While a pardon cannot make Charlie Winters whole, and regrettably he did not live to see it, it would be a fitting tribute to his memory and a great blessing to his family if this pardon is granted." ...
Bill Clinton said U.S. citizens who broke the law smuggling guns to the nascent Jewish state proved there are times when it’s acceptable to break the law.Schwimmer was a career criminal serving two criminal states. Here are some excerpts from "Pardoned American served Israel in 1948" by the JTA in 2001:
“Once in a while it’s worth risking your neck to make sure nobody sinks just because the rules are rigged against them,” the former U.S. president said Wednesday to raucous applause at a Washington dinner honoring Jimmy Hoffa, the legendary Teamsters leader who facilitated such smuggling.
U.S. authorities at the time banned the sales of guns to any parties to the conflict, placing the struggling Jewish state at a disadvantage over enemies that had standing armies.
The fund-raising dinner for the Yitzhak Rabin Center raised over $2 million and showered honors on the children of Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, and the children of his associate in the arms-smuggling enterprise, Hank Greenspun, a Nevada real estate and newspaper magnate who died in 1989.
Clinton remembered Rabin as a leader who understood that Israel would not achieve security “unless a just and lasting peace could be achieved for the Palestinians and their children too.”
As an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the mid-1980s, Al Schwimmer traveled to the United States often and met with former Presidents Reagan and Bush.
He served as an intermediary between the United States and Iran in the arms-for-hostages scandal.
It never seemed to matter that he was a U.S. felon, convicted for his role in smuggling airplanes from the United States to Israel as it fought its War of Independence in 1948.
Now, a half-century after his conviction, Schwimmer has been exonerated, one of the many pardons granted by President Clinton on his last days in office.
It was a pardon he never asked for and is less than enthusiastic about.
“I appreciate it,” said the 83-year-old Schwimmer, who lives in Israel and holds dual American and Israeli citizenships. ...
Schwimmer, the founder and former CEO of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., was convicted in 1950 of violating the United States Neutrality Act for his role in aiding Israel. ...
A veteran of World War II originally from Connecticut, Schwimmer – known then as Adolph – joined TWA after the war as a flight engineer and was recruited through friends to help bring airplanes to the Middle East to aid the Jews in their war for independence.
He set up dummy airline companies that were supposed to be flying charter flights, and purchased airplanes from the United States, which was selling surplus planes no longer needed after the war.
In all, Schwimmer and his crew brought 30 planes to Israel, flying them through either Italy or South America and to Czechoslovakia, from where the planes were sent to the Middle East.
They also recruited men, mostly World War II veterans, to go to the Middle East and fight. ...
After the War of Independence had been won, Schwimmer came back to the United States to face the music.
“I decided I didn’t want to be a fugitive the rest of my life,” Schwimmer said.
He pleaded not guilty but was convicted in 1950 – along with his colleagues – and received a $10,000 fine.
The fine, and his court costs, were paid for by the Jewish Agency for Israel, he said.
Schwimmer returned to Israel and founded Bedek, the precursor to Israel Aircraft. After nearly 25 years at the helm of the military and commercial airplane manufacturer, Schwimmer retired.
But that did not end his life in the spotlight.
For one shekel a year, Schwimmer joined Peres’ government in the mid-1980s as a special adviser to the prime minister for technology and industry.
He would once again find himself in the midst of controversy.
On his role in the Iran/Contra affair, Schwimmer would not reminisce. He would say very little about the role he played.
“We used the connections we had, which were perhaps better than the United States had, to try to get the hostages out,” he said, but would not elaborate.
According to the 1993 Independent Counsel report on the Iran/Contra Affair, Schwimmer played a key role as an Israeli intermediary between the United States and Iran in the weapons-for-hostages plan.
The Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran, using Israel as an intermediary, in an effort to secure the release of American hostages being held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
Some of the proceeds from the sale of weapons to Iran was diverted to the contras, who were waging war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
According to the report, Schwimmer introduced Robert McFarlane, Reagan’s national security adviser, to Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian businessman who would lay the Iranian’s demands on the table.
He also helped secure El Al planes to transport the weapons from Israel to a mediating country. ...
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni signalled on Thursday that she believed Israeli Arabs could best fulfill their nationalist goals by moving to a future Palestinian state.Can you imagine what the uproar would have been if, in 1948, Harry Truman had said, "Okay, we'll recognize your shitty little country, hell we've even helped you steal it from the natives but now you Jews in America are going to have to realize that this a national home for Christian people--a Christian state--and your national solution lies elsewhere"?
"My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic State of Israel is to have two nation-states with certain concessions and with clear red lines," Livni told a group of students at a Tel Aviv high school. "And among other things, I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, 'your national solution lies elsewhere.' "
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In lighter news, my high score after
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In his intro to a story about Madoff one talk show host opened with a line from G. K. Chesteron's Heretics that I thought was worth quoting here at greater length. Here it is:
The weak point in the whole of Carlyle's case for aristocracy lies, indeed, in his most celebrated phrase. Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men. But the essential point of it is merely this, that whatever primary and far-reaching moral dangers affect any man, affect all men. All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired. And this doctrine does away altogether with Carlyle's pathetic belief (or any one else's pathetic belief) in "the wise few." There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. Every oligarchy is merely a knot of men in the street ... And no oligarchies in the world's history have ever come off so badly in practical affairs as the very proud oligarchies ...
Sunday, December 14, 2008
In Amerika, hardly anyone protests when teens get killed by the police, and compared to Greece, I reckon it happens a lot more often here. I mean take a look at Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement, there're lots of teens listed in there.
In the Detroit metro area--which is roughly comparable in population to the Athens metro where Grigoropoulos was killed--unarmed 13-year-old Charles Ledell Clay was killed by an off-duty cop in 1995. Then in 1997, Roy Hoskins, a 14-year-old kid was shot in the back, while standing still with arms raised, by Detroit Police Officer James Woods. Nobody did anything like what is happening Greece. Who even remembers these kids but their friends and families?
Greeks should be more like Amerikans and stop getting bent out of shape over one dead kid, right?
See also: "On the Greek Riots: Irregular updates on the situation in Greece, in English"
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The position of Finnish Jews was unique in another respect as well: several hundred of them fought in the war as Germany’s comrades in arms. ...
In the summer of 1941, Finland joined the war Germany had started against the Soviet Union. In this Continuation War, as it is often called with respect to Finland’s part, the loyalty of Finnish Jews was put to test, and was shadowed by fear and uncertainty. Nevertheless, the Jews fought like everyone else. The Jewish magazine Makkabi declared in December 1942 that they were fighting “for the freedom and independence of Finland” 1 (Torvinen, Kadimah 132–33). During the war, co-belligerence with Germany felt distant and theoretical, and not everyone came into contact with the German troops in Finland (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 122). Many of the Jewish soldiers did not really think about it until after the war (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 143–44).
Relationships with the Germans were described as correct, even friendly (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 125, 127). Most Jews spoke German (Jalowisch in Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 128), which may have contributed to friendships being formed. No serious incidents were reported (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 129), but some Jews felt ill at ease and were afraid (Kaplun in Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 127).
The Jewishness of these soldiers was not hidden from the Germans, and there even was a field synagogue. Furloughs were given for Sabbaths, and some came from considerable distances to attend. The Germans were aware of the synagogue but did not interfere (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 127, 129–132). Some of the Jewish soldiers even liked to proclaim their religion to provoke the Germans, whose reactions were mainly surprised but not particularly negative. When asked about their Jewish soldiers, Finnish superiors usually defended them, saying they were no different from other Finns (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 128–129). Jewish medical officers treated German patients and saved their lives, even risking their own (Rautkallio, Aseveljeys 133, 141). Several Jews were awarded German decorations, but they refused to accept them (Poljakoff in Torvinen, Kadimah 135; Smolar 155–57).
Friday, December 05, 2008
At least up until the last "election" or two, you used to hear a lot – especially from the Donkeycrats – about the proverbial "Big Tent", ostensibly used to symbolize the Party's acceptance of diverse constituencies, but was actually just a cheesy way for your Party to pander to segments of the voting population it normally wouldn't give the time of day to.
Editorial Cartoon: Never Mind the 'Big Tent'...
Until just recently, we used to hear a lot from the Party about their "big tent" at campaign time...
By Mike Flugennock
Once again though, huge props to the Obama Mob for taking this concept a bold step further...
Amazing, how quick and efficient he was, too.
Hear that, UFPJ? Hear that, Code Pink? He already wants to expand the war into Afghanistan? He's roped in your votes, he's got what he needed from you, now your ass is under the bus!
Environmentalists? Didn't he shift his position on offshore oil drilling? D'ohh, under you go. Looking like some awesome parties at the Inauguration, though.
Gays? Lesbians? Let's not even go there. He doesn't even want you to be able to marry. Why the hell did you all go for him so much? Doesn't matter, you're gone anyway. Crunch. Ouch.
I could go on, but you can see where I'm headed.
11x17 inches, color:
Adobe .eps image, 3.9mb: http://www.sinkers.org/posters/bigbus/bigbus.eps
Adobe .pdf image, 2mb: http://www.sinkers.org/posters/bigbus/bigbus.pdf
High-res .jpg image, 650kb: http://www.sinkers.org/posters/bigbus/bigbus.jpg
By Mike Flugennock