Monday, March 30, 2009

Awakening Councils vs. Iraqi Government and U.S.

A blind man could have seen this one coming. Sudarsan Raghavan and Anthony Shadid:

The struggle, which played out in fierce weekend clashes, pits two vital American allies against each other. On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers backed by U.S. combat helicopters and American troops swept into a central Baghdad neighborhood, arresting U.S.-backed Sunni fighters in an effort to clamp down on a two-day uprising that challenged the Iraqi government's authority and its efforts to pacify the capital.
Thomas Ricks:
If the Awakening fighting spreads, I wouldn't be surprised to see Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia re-emerge. I've always thought the Sunni Awakening forced him to go to ground, because he didn't want to be the only guy taking on American forces. But if the Sunnis are on the attack again, it might be game on for him as well.
Maliki never trusted the Awakening and vice-versa. As Ashley Smith wrote in the International Socialist Review in November:
The greatest conflict that threatens to undo the fragile stability is most likely not between the United States and the Shia government, but between that government and the Sunnis, especially the Awakening Councils.

On October 1, the Iraqi government was charged with integrating the Awakening Councils into the Iraqi security forces. But Maliki has promised to hire only 20 percent of the fighters. Leila Fadel reports that Shiite “officials are making clear that they don’t intend to include most of the rest. ‘We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently,’ said one senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue. ‘Many of them were part of al-Qaeda despite the fact that many of them are helping us to fight al-Qaeda.”

Maliki has indeed ordered the arrest of hundreds of Awakening Council fighters, the Iraqi security forces have moved against some of the Councils in Anbar and Baghdad, and Shia militias have already carried out assassinations of key Sunni leaders they consider to be insurgents and separatists.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hey out-of-work college grads, economy got you down?

Well fear no more, because Obama's got your back.

The legislation would triple the size of the Clinton-era AmeriCorps and broadly expand incentives for students and seniors to give back to their communities, at a cost of $5.7 billion over five years...

The legislation would increase AmeriCorps to 250,000 from its current 75,000 positions over eight years, its largest expansion since the program was launched in 1993...

Some AmeriCorps participants get a living stipend while they are working for 10-12 months. The stipend ranges from $11,400 to $22,800 for the year. Most participants, who are predominantly ages 18 to 26, get $11,800.
Now, if you can't find a job, you can at least earn a poverty wage serving your country. This Washington state website has some helpful hints for surviving on such an income. As even AmeriCorps' website will tell you, you're not going to create any savings on $12,000 a year.

Something like this has been coming for a while. After thirty years of class attacks, young workers today are earning "10% less than did their counterparts in 1979" despite being better educated. College-educated workers have struggled to find jobs befitting their level of education, but now are lucky to grab a job at all.

Students endure a level of poverty to pay their tuition, with the expectation that it will pay off in the long run, but recently we've seen more student shopping at food pantries and even sleeping in the street. Students are putting up with more to get much less.

What exactly will happen when college-educated, young workers find out that the future isn't what it's cracked up to be?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey Paul Krugman

This is for all the Krugman junkies out there.

“The State of Israel is at war with the Palestinian people, people against people, collective against collective.”

Uri Avnery on Counterpunch reports on a startlingly frank admission from the Israeli Supreme Court.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mike Davis on Bill Moyers

Socialist historian Mike Davis talks socialism and the economic crisis with Bill Moyers

Friday, March 20, 2009

"The Most Moral Army in the World"

Click the picture for the story.

We'll Give Them Their Bonuses..In the Form of Full Metal Jackets

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Nation's website accepts anti-EFCA advertising

I know the Nation has a spotty political record on the big issues over their history, but this is pretty low. A link on takes you to an anti-Employee Free Choice Act website.

The site, run by the "Workforce Fairness Institute" claims EFCA would eliminate the secret ballot in union organizing (not true). In fact, EFCA would be a historic boon for labor, which is why so many CEOs are sponsoring Orwellian organizations like "Americans for Job Security, the Employee Freedom Action Committee, and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace" and now the "Workforce Fairness Institute" to spread misinformation about EFCA.

Hey, what the hell?

BONO WATCH: Bono is a craven horse's arse, part 203

In the fall, Rap Rock Confidential editor Dave Marsh announced that Bono had agreed to publicly debate him on "celebrity politics and how ineffective they are."

In the latest RRC: Bono backs out

I don’t know why Bono spit the bit on debating these issues in a public forum with a well-informed antagonist. Maybe he decided that he’d fucked up and was about to lower himself by going head to head with a journalist. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal on the spot with descriptions of his repeated appearances at the conferences of the leading capitalist nations where he’s yet to ask his first hard question about anything but Africa; about his settling for promises from world leaders that patently weren’t going to be kept, and never doing more than mewing when they weren’t; about why it is that Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, by no means an anti-capitalist, observes that she met him “at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me,” or why so many other Africans have complained that he claims to speak for them but has never so much as asked their permission. In regard to the last, I did receive more courtesy than Andrew Mwenda, the Ugandan journalist Bono cursed for raising such questions at an economics conference. (But then, I’m white and Celtic-American.)
RRC subscriptions are available free of charge by emailing ""

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Call and Response

My copy of Adrienne Rich's The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 finally arrived today, and as I thumbed through it I discovered a poem that reminded me of Bertolt Brecht's "To Posterity." After checking the two against each other, I'm quite sure that Rich is responding to and updating Brecht in some interesting ways. Here the two poems are:

Bertolt Brecht "To Posterity"


Indeed I live in the dark ages!
A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
A hard heart. He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.

Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
And he who walks calmly across the street,
Is he not out of reach of his friends
In trouble?

It is true: I earn my living
But, believe me, it is only an accident.
Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
I am lost.)

They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink
When my food is snatched from the hungry
And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would gladly be wise.
The old books tell us what wisdom is:
Avoid the strife of the world
Live out your little time
Fearing no one
Using no violence
Returning good for evil --
Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
Passes for wisdom.
I can do none of this:
Indeed I live in the dark ages!


I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising
And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

In my time streets led to the quicksand.
Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do. But without me
The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.


You, who shall emerge from the flood
In which we are sinking,
Think --
When you speak of our weaknesses,
Also of the dark time
That brought them forth.

For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man can help his fellow man,
Do no judge us
Too harshly.

Adrienne Rich "What Kind of Times Are These?"

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light -
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LA Teachers take over school board meeting!!!

More coverage here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Naomi Klein at Israeli Apartheid Week

Seeing the counter-protestors at the beginning of this video brought back memories...I really hate those people.

Naomi Klein speaks on Israeli Apartheid Week from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

Friday, March 6, 2009

'Waltz with Bashir' animated short on Gaza

Yoni Goodman, animator of the film Waltz with Bashir, recently put out this short describing Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. While he mistakenly (in my opinion) avoids the sheer brutality of occupation, he definitely makes a good point.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sherry Wolf Speaks Out!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

15 year-old girl beaten by police

Pigs strike again.