Burger King Exposed

February 19, 2009

Here is another expose from the intrepid Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films:

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?

That’s the amount of extra cash each and every Burger King employee in America would have received last year if Goldman Sachs (one of the fast-food chain’s largest owners) had shared its bailout billions with rank-and-file workers. Instead, Goldman Sachs squandered 6.5 billion of our taxpayer dollars on bonuses for their financial staff. These were some of the highest bonuses on Wall Street! Meanwhile, Burger King workers earn wages averaging just $14,000 a year — well below the federal poverty line for a family of three.

Watch the harmful effects of Wall Street’s greed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wABI2dwbQMQ

Goldman Sachs has been having it their way with Burger King workers for too long. It’s high time you had it your way with Goldman Sachs. Tell the Wall Street giant how they could have used the $6.5 billion blown on bonuses. We’re looking for the most creative, constructive, or comical ideas to curb corporate greed and help fix the financial crisis. We will send all ideas to Goldman Sachs as a reprimand for their wastefulness. The winner of the Have It Your Way with Goldman Sachs contest will have their idea featured in our next video. The contest ends March 3.

Pass this video and contest to your friends and family, and don’t forget to digg it. Tell them working people all over the country are pushing back against Wall Street excess. Tell them we’re joining with SEIU and others to stage demonstrations and hold Goldman Sachs accountable! And tell them it’s time to end this era of corporate greed and impunity.

Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Films team

P.S. – Do you think Goldman Sachs should be forced to give back their bailout money to taxpayers, should they have to raise Burger King workers’ wages, explain their spending to the government, or be left alone because they are living the American dream? Vote now in our online poll.

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Israeli FM confronted at National Press Club / more from The Real News

January 19, 2009

This is some of the latest unbiased news from The Real News Network which is entirely member supported. “The Real News” is the flagship show of Independent World Televison (IWT) and Real News Network.

I am a longtime member/supporter.

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Israeli FM confronted at National Press Club
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The war and Israeli opinion Pts 1&2
David Newman: Most Israelis support the attacks on Gaza but public opinion is starting to change view
Gaza lives in ruins
Guardian: Gazans from Khoza’a near Khan Younis were fired upon and forced to flee their homes view
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Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, The Pentagon Legacy of the MBA President

September 15, 2008

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Part two of Frida Berrigan’s three-part series on the expansion of the Pentagon is just the sort of post — a major story of the Bush era — that you can only get at this site. The expansion and privatization of the Pentagon should, of course, be the subject of front-page pieces in newspapers across the country as the dark legacy of the Bush presidency begins to be considered. In the light of just this sort of work from TomDispatch, let me mention a new feature at the site. If you look to your right while at the main screen, you’ll see a clickable button (“Resist Empire. Support TomDispatch.”) that leads you to a secure page where, if you wish, you can give modest $$ to help this site fund projects like Berrigan’s and do outreach work of various kinds. I’ve always enjoyed the “freeness” of TomDispatch, but readers, from time to time, have sent in contributions anyway. Now, this added feature makes it easier, if you are so disposed, to do so and, believe me, I’ll be grateful. We’ll use whatever you send our way to improve the site. (Just make sure you never send in even a dollar that you need!) And, by the way, click over to Book TV on C-SPAN2, if you want to catch an appearance I made with Michael Schwartz for the new book, The World According to TomDispatch.]

Having laid out the staggering expansion of a budget-busting Pentagon — as diplomat, arms dealer, spy, intelligence analyst, domestic disaster manager, humanitarian caregiver, nation-builder, and global viceroy — in part one of her series on the Bush military legacy, Frida Berrigan, arms expert at the New America Foundation, turns to the issue of privatization. In these last seven years, the Pentagon’s key role as war fighter has increasingly become a privatized operation. In Iraq, for instance, a Congressional Budget Office report in August revealed that the U.S. has already spent at least $100 billion on private contractors. (Pentagon auditing has, however, been so bad that that’s considered a low-ball figure.)

Approximately one out of every five war dollars spent on the war went private. That’s not so surprising, as James Risen of the New York Times reported, since private contractors now outnumber the 146,000 U.S. troops in that country. At 180,000, they represent, as Risen writes, “a second, private army, larger than the United States military force, and one whose roles and missions and even casualties among its work force have largely been hidden from public view.”

Moreover, as modest drawdowns of U.S. troops occur, American taxpayer dollars going to private contractors in Iraq, especially private security contractors, are actually on the rise. Part of the charm of privatizing war, of course, is that you can also privatize information about it, so we really have little idea just how many armed, Blackwater-style mercenaries there are in that country (though the number may rise into the tens of thousands). No less curious, amid all the talk of drawdowns and withdrawals, you seldom see any serious discussion of those hired guns in the mainstream. When withdrawal does come, who withdraws them? Who decides that? Who knows?

In the meantime, let Frida Berrigan take you past the obvious Blackwater issues and into the deeper quagmire of the massive privatization of the American military. It’s an issue whose time should long ago have arrived, but don’t hold your breath till the media discussion and debate begins. Tom

Military Industrial Complex 2.0

Cubicle Mercenaries, Subcontracting Warriors, and Other Phenomena of a Privatizing Pentagon
By Frida Berrigan

Seven years into George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, the Pentagon is embroiled in two big wars, a potentially explosive war of words with Tehran, and numerous smaller conflicts – and it is leaning ever more heavily on private military contractors to get by.

Once upon a time, soldiers did more than pick up a gun. They picked up trash. They cut hair and delivered mail. They fixed airplanes and inflated truck tires.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

My E-rated blog

April 8, 2008

I was totally surprised, honoured and very pleased to see that I had been named among such company as Facing Autism in New Brunswick
and Another Point of View for an E award. Thanks, Debra! Much appreciated, and sorry it took so long for me to notice. (You know how technically-challenged I am…) 😉

Rated E!Verbena-19
“A must read for human rights and social justice issues”, wrote April Reign about my blog.

Now it’s my turn to pass it on, but with so many excellent blogs from which to choose, it is difficult to narrow it down to just a few, otherwise it would take many days and all my blogroll (and some that I haven’t had time to put on there).

So here are just a few of the blogs that I admire and consider “E-rated”, in no particular order:

David Orchard Campaign for Canada
Although this is not a blog per se, David is a hardworking activist whose deep concern for Canada is truly admirable and deserving of daily visits and support.

Steve Anderson’s blog (on COA News)
Steve is an activist for democratic media and posts a font of news and information about the exploitation of Internet users by new media giants. A regular must-read for all of us in the ‘digital mediascape’.

Stevie Cameron’s blog
Stevie is one of the best Canadian investigative journalists, intrepidly uncovering sordid dealings within our government.

The Scott Ross
Scott writes with a keen insight about all things Canadian, especially politics and news that matters.

This is one of the most thought-provoking, compelling blogs about all things concerning human beings. Lots of great videos too!

Ceasefire Insider Blog
This is the blog for Ceasefire.ca, a network of more than 15,000 Canadians who want Canada to become a force for peace, disarmament, and social justice in the world. Steven Staples is one of the writers. He is a great activist, author and a friend, writing lots of news and info from Ottawa.

Harper Valley
Scout’s blog is the most intelligently irreverent satire in the Canadian blogosphere. With her photoshop skills, she does amazing things to our country’s leaders, politicians, and every notable person on this planet. Her regular Famous Stupid People Contest series are in a class by themselves. No wonder this blog has won 4 Canadian Best Blog Awards! It’s a must read with my morning cup of java.

Global Voices Online
An excellent, novel aggregate of bloggers, citizen journalists, and independent voices from around the globe. The site is used to ‘amplify the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore’. A great news and information source.

Gather the Women/Grassroots & Grace
Gather the Women is a gathering place for women and women’s organizations who share a belief that the time is now to activate the incredible power of women’s wisdom on a planetary scale. It is a place where new models of feminine collaboration are being born. Starting in 2006, GTW Congresses have taken place in Canada, Kenya & Australia. “Linked globally by our interactive website, we invite women to demonstrate their courage to risk leaving old conformities by joining with millions of others throughout the world to celebrate women’s true worth, to express shared concern for our human family, and to create and support actions that will enable humanity to live together in a balanced, harmonious and peaceful world.”

The Dominion (Dominion weblogs: news from the grassroots)
It is actually a collective of blogs of the Dominion: a monthly paper published by a network of independent journalists in Canada since May 2003. The blogs reflect the Dominion’s aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada’s official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power. Dominion aims to not merely report that something is the case, but to examine why it is the case. By providing context to stories, and giving voice to perspectives that are marginalized and those most affected by events or decisions, the Dominion hopes to promote understanding through accurate, in-depth reporting. se aims. I subscribe to the online monthly news and visit the blogs featured on the main blog page regularly.

MidEast Dispatches: Divided Arabs Deliver Little

April 2, 2008

Divided Arabs Deliver Little

Inter Press Service
By Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail*

DAMASCUS, Mar 31 (IPS) – The Arab summit held in Damascus over this weekend has convinced many Iraqis that Arab leaders do not speak for them.

More than anything done or not, the very absence of many Arab leaders at the summit has left displaced Iraqis here angry.”It was a disappointment to us that some Arab leaders decided not to attend the summit in Damascus,” Dr. Zeki al-Khazraji, an Iraqi refugee in Syria told IPS. “We were looking forward to the summit thinking it might discuss our agonies that have lasted too long without any sign of improvement. If not the Arab leaders, who will think of us?”

Many Iraqi refugees say Arab leaders are cut off from their own people.

“The Iraqi fire is spreading to the Arab world and our leaders must think of their own positions,” Salim Mahmood, an Iraqi freelance journalist in Damascus told IPS. “We cannot understand why Iraqis are left alone to face daily death while Arabs just watch in silence.

“We are trying to understand the pressures applied on our brothers, but meanwhile we demand real intervention from our brothers to stop our government and the Americans from spilling our blood like water in Iraq.”

The Arab summit kicked off Saturday with a fiery speech from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi attacking fellow Arab leaders for doing nothing while the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

“How can we accept that a foreign power comes to topple an Arab leader while we stand watching,” said Gaddafi. Saddam Hussein, he said, had once been an ally of Washington. “But they sold him out.” He then pointed to Arab officials at the conference to say, “Your turn is next.”

The Libyan leader added: “Where is the Arabs’ dignity, their future, their very existence? Everything has disappeared.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says there are at least 1.5 million displaced Iraqis in Syria alone.

“Five years now, and things are getting worse in Iraq while only two poor Arab countries (Syria and Jordan) are taking the load of Iraqis who fled their country for safety,” Malek Sabeeh from the Iraqi Centre for Human Rights told IPS.

“Syria was our first safe haven, but how long can this country that has limited resources stand the high cost of hosting such a huge number of refugees while other countries are paying billions of dollars for building separation walls between them and Iraq, and now boycotting such an important summit.” Sabeeh was referring to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who are building protection walls along their borders with Iraq.

Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan stayed away from the summit after Washington urged its allies to think twice before attending.

Many Iraqi refugees also expressed anger over the lack of support from the Gulf countries. Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates do not allow Iraqis in, and their contributions to Iraqi refugees have been modest.

Many Iraqis say the absence of many Arab leaders highlighted the deep divisions caused by the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq across the Middle East. “This nation will never be united as long as Americans have their fingers in the area,” Sheikh Faris Ahmed, an Iraqi cleric who brought his son for medical treatment in Syria told IPS.

Egypt and some Gulf countries have recently signed arms deals with the U.S. worth several billion dollars.

(*Maki, our correspondent in Syria, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported from the region for more than four years.)


Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! http://dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/ ***

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(c)2008 Dahr Jamail.

All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com

Tomgram: Greg Mitchell, Getting It Right on Iraq

March 19, 2008

Just imagine: You run a flagship national newspaper, the New York Times. It’s the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq. Your own record of reportage in the period leading up to the invasion was not exactly sterling. So, for a change of pace, you decide to turn most of your double op-ed page in your Sunday “Week in Review” over to people who can look back thoughtfully on the misapprehensions of that moment.

But who? Now, that’s a tough one. You want “nine experts on military and foreign affairs” who can consider “the one aspect of the war that most surprised them or that they wished they had considered in the prewar debate.” Hmm, sounds like an interesting idea. Of course, one option would be to gather together an involved crew who, even before the invasion began, saw in one way or another that problems, possibly disaster, lay ahead. That would be a logical thought…

…But it wouldn’t be the Times, which this past Sunday chose to ask a rogue’s gallery of “experts” who led (or cheerled) us deep into the war and occupation what surprised them most. Leading off those pages were Richard Perle, nicknamed “the Prince of Darkness,” L. Paul Bremer III, the former American viceroy of Baghdad, who so brilliantly disbanded the Iraqi Army and much of the country as well, not to speak of invasion and occupation cheerleaders Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka, and Kenneth M. Pollack. With the exception of Pollack, all of them unsurprisingly pointed the finger elsewhere or claimed they were really on the mark all along.

So, just in case the Times has a sudden, bizarre urge on some future anniversary to ask a cast of characters who didn’t drive us into the nearest ditch to look back, it seems worthwhile to start on a list of suggestions for its editors. And that’s where Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher magazine, comes in.

He himself is a shining example of someone who exhibited foresight about the invasion and then regularly dealt with issues that the mainstream media was slow to pick up. Just take, for example, this initial sentence he wrote on March 7, 2003, less than two weeks before Bush’s invasion began, for a piece included in his new book, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, The Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq: “Considering that we seem to be on the verge of a major war, with little firm evidence of the Iraqi WMD driving it, the questions for Bush at his final press conference before the war seems likely to start were relatively tame.” Mitchell then asked 11 questions of his own, all more piercing than any posed on Sunday’s Times op-ed page five years later.

As his book makes brilliantly evident, you didn’t have to be wrong all the time to be an “expert” on Iraq. His article below begins the necessary acknowledgement of those who were right, or did right, in these years and it should encourage all of us to make our own lists and create our own walls of honor to go with the wall of shame the Times displayed Sunday.

My list would be long indeed, but it would certainly include: the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters Warren Stroebel and Jonathan Landy in Washington, as well as Tom Lasseter, Hannah Allam, and others in Iraq who never had a flagship paper to show off their work, but generally did far better reporting than the flagship papers; Seymour Hersh, who simply picked up where he left off in the Vietnam era (though this time for the New Yorker); Riverbend, the young Baghdad blogger who gave us a more vivid view of the occupation than any you could ordinarily find in the mainstream media (and who has not been heard from since she arrived in Syria as a refugee in October 2007); Jim Lobe who covered the neocons like a blanket for Inter Press Service; independents Nir Rosen and Dahr Jamail, as well as Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent, who has been perhaps the most courageous (or foolhardy) Western reporter in Iraq, invariably bringing back news that others didn’t have; the New York Review of Books, which stepped into some of the empty print space where the mainstream media should have been (with writers like Mark Danner and Michael Massing) and was the first to put into print in this country the Downing Street Memo, in itself a striking measure of mainstream failure; and Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment website was so on the mark on Iraq that reporters locked inside the Green Zone in Baghdad read it just to keep informed.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

The Smirking Chimp

February 17, 2008

There are some very interesting threads going on at The Smirking Chimp. These are a couple of examples:

How Far Will the Clintons Go?
by Robert Parry (Feb. 16, 2008)

Hillary Clinton, who has built her case for the presidency on her superior “ready on Day One” management skills, burned through almost $130 million of campaign money, had to kick in $5 million from her own murky family funds, and is now pressing her chief financial backers to find creative ways to raise more money.

Some of those financial schemes appear to skirt the law – as some backers consider putting money into “independent” entities that can spend unlimited sums but aren’t supposed to coordinate with the campaign – while other ideas are more traditional, like appealing to wealthy donors involved with the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.

Doomsday for the Greenback: Iran’s Oil Bourse could Topple the Dollar
by Mike Whitney (Feb. 4, 2008)

Two weeks ago George Bush was sent on a mission to the Middle East to deliver a horse’s head. We all remember the disturbing scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” where Lucca Brassi goes to Hollywood to convince a recalcitrant movie producer to use Don Corleone’s nephew in his next film. The “Big shot” producer is finally persuaded to hire the young actor after he wakes up in bed next to the severed head of his prize thoroughbred. I expect that Bush made a similar “offer they could not refuse” to the various leaders of the Gulf States when he met with them earlier this month.The media has tried to portray Bush’s trip to the Middle East as a “peace mission”, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, three days after Bush left Jerusalem, Israel stepped-up its military operations in the occupied territories and resumed its merciless blockade of food, water and medicine to the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip. Bush must have green-lighted Israel’s aggression or it would have been seen as an insult to the President of the United States.

So, what was the real purpose of Bush’s trip? Why would he waste time visiting the Middle East if he had no real interest in promoting peace or resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?