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Best of the Web: Guenter Grass banned in Israel after controversial poem

Guenter Grass
© Associated Press
Israel on Sunday declared Guenter Grass persona non grata, deepening a spat with the Nobel-winning author over a poem that deeply criticised the Jewish state and suggested it was as much a danger as Iran.

The dispute with Grass, who only late in life admitted to a Nazi past, has drawn new attention to strains in Germany's complicated relationship with the Jewish state - and also focused unwelcome light on Israel's own secretive nuclear program.

Comment: Translation of controversial Guenter Grass poem What Must Be Said

By Associated Press

What Must Be Said

What is obvious and has been

Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors

Are at best footnotes.

It is the alleged right to the first strike

That could annihilate the Iranian people -

Subjugated by a loud-mouth

And guided to organized jubilation -

Because in their sphere of power,

It is suspected, a nuclear bomb is being built.

Yet why do I forbid myself

To name that other country

In which, for years, even if secretly,

There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand

But beyond control, because not accessible to inspections?

The universal concealment of these facts,

To which my silence subordinated itself,

I sense as an incriminating lie

And coercion--the punishment is promised

As soon as it is ignored;

The verdict of "anti-Semitism" is familiar.

Now, though, because in my country

Which time and again has sought and confronted

Its very own crimes

That is without comparison

In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also

With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares

A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,

Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence

Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,

But fear wishes to be of conclusive evidence,

I say what must be said.

But why have I stayed silent until now?

Because I thought my origin,

Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged

Forbade this fact as pronounced truth

To be told to the nation of Israel, to which I am bound

And wish to stay bound.

Why do I say only now,

Aged and with my last ink,

The nuclear power Israel endangers

The already fragile world peace?

Because it must be said

What even tomorrow may be too late to say;

Also because we--as Germans burdened enough--

Could become suppliers to a crime

That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity

Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

And granted: I am silent no longer

Because I am tired of the West's hypocrisy;

In addition to which it is to be hoped

That this will free many from silence,

Appeal to the perpetrator of the recognizable danger

To renounce violence and

Likewise insist

That an unhindered and permanent control

Of the Israeli nuclear potential

And the Iranian nuclear sites

Be authorized through an international agency

By the governments of both countries.

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,

Even more, all people, that in this

Region occupied by mania

Live cheek by jowl among enemies,

And also us, to be helped.


Take 2

U.S. filmmaker repeatedly detained at border

Laura Poitras
© SalonLaura Poitras
One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.

Eye 1

Pupils are recruited to spy on us during our lessons and schools are being 'run like totalitarian regimes', say British teachers

Pupils are being 'actively recruited' by schools to spy on their teachers in the classroom, a union has warned.

They are being used as 'management tools' to carry out covert - and even open - surveillance of members of staff, it was claimed.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, condemned the practice as a 'form of abuse' of children.

She told the union's annual conference in Birmingham on Saturday that 'debilitating' monitoring 'erodes teachers' self-esteem and gnaws away at their professional confidence'.

She said: 'Children and teachers are diminished and abused by the use of pupils as management tools to carry out surveillance on their teachers.

Pills

A Fog of Drugs and War

Image
© Burke Family PhotoPatrick Burke with his wife, Elise, and their son, Jackson. In a drunk driving and auto theft case last year, the Air Force pilot was found not guilty "by reason of lack of mental responsibility" -- a result of the prescription drugs he'd taken.
More than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year took antidepressants, sedatives and other prescription medications. Some see a link to aberrant behavior.


US, Seattle - U.S. Air Force pilot Patrick Burke's day started in the cockpit of a B-1 bomber near the Persian Gulf and proceeded across nine time zones as he ferried the aircraft home to South Dakota.

Every four hours during the 19-hour flight, Burke swallowed a tablet of Dexedrine, the prescribed amphetamine known as "go pills." After landing, he went out for dinner and drinks with a fellow crewman. They were driving back to Ellsworth Air Force Base when Burke began striking his friend in the head.

"Jack Bauer told me this was going to happen - you guys are trying to kidnap me!" he yelled, as if he were a character in the TV show 24.

When the woman giving them a lift pulled the car over, Burke leaped on her and wrestled her to the ground. "Me and my platoon are looking for terrorists," he told her before grabbing her keys, driving away and crashing into a guardrail.

Burke was charged with auto theft, drunk driving and two counts of assault. But in October, a court-martial judge found the young lieutenant not guilty "by reason of lack of mental responsibility" - the almost unprecedented equivalent, at least in modern-day military courts, of an insanity acquittal.

Star of David

Israeli Lawmaker with Ties to Ousted Regime Backs Omar Suleiman for Egypt's Presidency

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© The Associated Press/Amr NabilSupporters of former Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman chant in front of his posters out side the Higher Presidential Elections Commission, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 8, 2012.
An Israeli lawmaker with close ties to the ousted Egyptian regime says former spy chief Omar Suleiman would be the best president for Egypt in terms of Israeli interests.

Legislator Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says a Muslim Brotherhood leader would threaten Israel's 1979 peace deal with Egypt.

Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio on Monday that former strongman Suleiman views relations with Israel as a strategic "cornerstone."

The 1979 accord is a pillar of stability for both countries.

But Israeli concerns for its future have grown with the rise of Islamist parties in Egypt. The Brotherhood has said it would seek changes, but not cancel the peace deal.

Ben-Eliezer is a longtime friend of toppled Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. Suleiman announced his candidacy for president last week.

Source: The Associated Press

Rocket

Firsthand Look at North Korea Launch Pad: Rocket in Place for Controversial Send-Off

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© The Associated Press/The Canadian Press/Ng Han GuanNorth Korean soldiers stand in front of the country's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, as they wait to give a security check to arriving journalists at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea on Sunday April 8, 2012. North Korean space officials have moved a long-range rocket into position for this week's controversial satellite launch, vowing Sunday to push ahead with their plans in defiance of international warnings against violating a ban on missile activity.
North Korean space officials have moved all three stages of a long-range rocket into position for a controversial launch, vowing to push ahead with their plan in defiance of international warnings against violating a ban on missile activity.

The Associated Press was among foreign news agencies allowed a firsthand look Sunday at preparations under way at the coastal Sohae Satellite Station in northwestern North Korea.

North Korea announced plans last month to launch an observation satellite using a three-stage rocket during mid-April celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. The U.S., Japan, Britain and other nations have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, warning that firing the long-range rocket would violate U.N. resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity.

North Korea maintains that the launch is a scientific achievement intended to improve the nation's faltering economy by providing detailed surveys of the countryside.

"Our country has the right and also the obligation to develop satellites and launching vehicles," Jang Myong Jin, general manager of the launch facility, said during a tour, citing the U.N. space treaty. "No matter what others say, we are doing this for peaceful purposes."

Experts say the Unha-3 rocket slated for liftoff between April 12 and 16 could also test long-range missile technology that might be used to strike the U.S. and other targets. Unha means galaxy in English.

North Korea has tested two atomic devices, but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a warhead on a long-range missile.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont if Legislators Pass a Bill Requiring GMO Food to Be Labeled

Monsanto skull and bones
© n/a

The world's most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.

Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont's Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.

The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.

Instead, they're calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.

What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont's "right to know" bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a "low appetite" for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to "go it alone" against Monsanto in court.

Bomb

US-Israel War on Iran: The Myth of Limited Warfare

Iranian military parade
© n/a
The mounting threat of a US-Israeli military attack against Iran is based on several factors including: (1) the recent military history of both countries in the region, (2) public pronouncements by US and Israeli political leaders, (3) recent and on-going attacks on Lebanon and Syria, prominent allies of Iran, (4) armed attacks and assassinations of Iranian scientists and security officials by proxy and/or terrorist groups under US or Mossad control, (5) the failure of economic sanctions and diplomatic coercion, (6) escalating hysteria and extreme demands for Iran to end legal, civilian use-related uranium enrichment, (7) provocative military 'exercises' on Iran's borders and war games designed for intimidation and a dress rehearsal for a preemptive attack, (8) powerful pro-war pressure groups in both Washington and Tel Aviv including the major Israeli political parties and the powerful AIPAC in the US, (9) and lastly the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (Obama's Orwellian Emergency Decree, March 16, 2012).

The US propaganda war operates along two tracks: (1) the dominant message emphasizes the proximity of war and the willingness of the US to use force and violence. This message is directed at Iran and coincides with Israeli announcements of war preparations. (2) The second track targets the 'liberal public' with a handful of marginal 'knowledgeable academics' (or State Department progressives) playing down the war threat and arguing that reasonable policy makers in Tel Aviv and Washington are aware that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons or any capacity to produce them now or in the near future. The purpose of this liberal backpedaling is to confuse and undermine the majority public opinion, which is clearly opposed to more war preparations, and to derail the burgeoning anti-war movement.

Needless to say the pronouncements of the 'rational' warmongers use a 'double discourse' based on the facile dismissal of all the historical and empirical evidence to the contrary. When the US and Israel talk of war, prepare for war and engage in pre-war provocations - they intend to go to war - just as they did against Iraq in 2003. Under present international political and military conditions an attack on Iran, initially by Israel with US support, is extremely likely, even as world economic conditions should dictate otherwise and even as the negative strategic consequences will most likely reverberate throughout the world for decades to come.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: How the US Uses Sexual Humiliation as a Political Tool to Control the Masses

Bagram airbase
© Dar Yasin/APBagram airbase was used by the US to detain its 'high-value' targets during the 'war on terror' and is still Afghanistan's main military prison.
Believe me, you don't want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. And yet, it's exactly what is happening.

In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the "trespass bill", which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.

Is American strip-searching benign? The man who had brought the initial suit, Albert Florence, described having been told to "turn around. Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks." He said he felt humiliated: "It made me feel like less of a man."

In surreal reasoning, justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because the 9/11 bomber could have been stopped for speeding. How would strip searching him have prevented the attack? Did justice Kennedy imagine that plans to blow up the twin towers had been concealed in a body cavity? In still more bizarre non-logic, his and the other justices' decision rests on concerns about weapons and contraband in prison systems. But people under arrest - that is, who are not yet convicted - haven't been introduced into a prison population.

Our surveillance state shown considerable determination to intrude on citizens sexually. There's the sexual abuse of prisoners at Bagram - der Spiegel reports that "former inmates report incidents of ... various forms of sexual humiliation. In some cases, an interrogator would place his penis along the face of the detainee while he was being questioned. Other inmates were raped with sticks or threatened with anal sex". There was the stripping of Bradley Manning is solitary confinement. And there's the policy set up after the story of the "underwear bomber" to grope US travelers genitally or else force them to go through a machine - made by a company, Rapiscan, owned by terror profiteer and former DHA czar Michael Chertoff - with images so vivid that it has been called the "pornoscanner".

Crusader

Delusional Milestone: Pastor Hagee and His Deadly Million

John Hagee
© n/aJohn Hagee
Lawrence Davidson argues that US Pastor John Hagee and his followers, who believe in the divine creation of the state of Israel, are as delusional as people who once believed in the reality of Zeus and his Olympian clan but could one day act as cheerleaders for the ethnic cleansing and mass murder of Palestinians.

Pastor John Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUfI) announced the "registration of their millionth member" on 18 March 2012. This organization, founded in 2006, with the goal of "realizing the political potential of tens of millions of evangelical Americans who support Israel", can also be said to have the goal of destroying, in the name of God no less, the legitimate political aspiration of Palestinian statehood. In addition, the CUfI now has as much influence with our Republican Congress as does the leading Jewish Zionist lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Why should the devout Mr Hagee and his one million followers be so enamoured of Israel? Actually, they have no rational reasons to offer. However, they do have a number of non-rational ones. For example, "We support Israel because all other nations were created by an act of man, but Israel was created by an act of God."