- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
For those wonderful people who sent me $20 a book to distribute them
free to influential Israelis, last week's recipients include Rabbi
Herbst of Har Nof, Rabin's aide for 14 years, now a real estate agent
in Modiin and a group of Petch Tikve film students. They now are
producing a film about the Rabin murder to be presented at several
student film festivals this Hannuka. Watch how your contributions
spread the truth throughout the land in the upcoming holiday.
And what could possibly be a more memorable Hannuka or Christmas
present than a gift package of my books, signed each one to your
friends or family?
I have to request $25 for Save Israel because it's 384 pages in
length and that costs me a ton to print and ship. But thanks to a
wonderful printer, Israel Cohen, who agreed to reprint my other three
books for cost, I can offer all of them for $25.
Wouldn't the books:
Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin
The Last Days Of Israel - Israeli Edition
be an unforgettable holiday gift?
If you want to order them, e-mail me at chamish@... And
to get those books donated to the skeptics of Israel:
Nakhal Zohar 40/2
Modiin 71700 Israel
And do remind your Hebrew reading friends to visit:
Turkeys on the Moon
By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com
December 8, 2003
Dear Mr. Bush:
Well, it's going on two weeks now since your surprise visit to one of
the two countries you now run and, I have to say, I'm still warmed by
the gesture. Man, take me along next time! I understand only 13
members of the media went with you - and it turns out only ONE of
them was an actual reporter for a newspaper. But you did take along
FIVE photographers (hey, I get it, screw the words, it's all about
the pictures), a couple wire service guys, and a crew from the Fox
News Channel (fair and balanced!).
Then, I read in the paper this weekend that that big turkey you were
holding in Baghdad (you know, the picture that's supposed to replace
the now-embarrassing footage of you on that aircraft carrier with the
sign "Mission Accomplished") - well, it turns out that big, beautiful
turkey of yours was never eaten by the troops! It wasn't eaten by
anyone! That's because it wasn't real! It was a stunt turkey, brought
in to look like a real edible turkey for all those great camera
Now I know some people will say you are into props (like the one in
the lower extremities of your flyboy suit), but hey, I get it, this
is theater! So what if it was a bogus turkey? The whole trip was
bogus; all staged to look like "news." The fake honey glaze on that
bird wasn't much different from the fake honey glaze that covers this
war. And the fake stuffing in the fake bird was just the right symbol
for our country during these times. America loves fake honey glaze,
it loves to be stuffed, and, dammit, YOU knew that - that's what
makes you so in touch with the people you lead!
It was also a good idea that you made the "press" on that trip to
Baghdad pull the shades down on the plane. No one in the media
entourage complained. They like the shades pulled and they like to be
kept in the dark. It's more fun that way. And, when you made them
take the batteries out of their cell phones so they wouldn't be able
to call anyone, and they dutifully complied - that was genius! I
think if you had told them to put their hands on their heads and
touch their noses with their tongues, they would have done that, too!
That's how much they like you. You could have played "Simon Says" the
whole way over there. It wouldn't have been that much different
from "Karl Says," a game they love to play every day with Mr. Rove.
Well, if you're planning any surprises for Christmas, don't forget to
include me. When I heard last week that you wanted to send a man back
to the moon, I thought, get the fake goose ready - that's where ol'
George is going for the holidays! I don't blame you, what with nearly
3 million jobs disappeared, and a $281 billion surplus disappeared,
and the USA stuck in a war that will never end - who wouldn't want to
go to the moon! This time, take ALL the media with you! Embed them on
the moon! They'll love it there! It looks just like Crawford! You can
golf on the moon, too. You'll have so much fun up there; you might
not want to come back. Better take Cheney with you, too. Pretend it's
a medical experiment or something. "That's one small step for man,
one giant leap for every American who's sick and tired of all this
Michael Moore is an Academy award-winning filmmaker and author
of "Dude, Where's My Country".
Baker Takes the Loaf
By Greg Palast, AlterNet
December 9, 2003
Well, ho ho ho! It's an early Christmas for James Baker III.
All year the elves at his law firm, Baker Botts of Texas, have been
working day and night to prevent the families of the victims of the
September 11 attack from seeking information from Saudi Arabia on the
Kingdom's funding of Al Qaeda fronts.
It's tough work, but this week came the payoff when President Bush
appointed Baker Botts' senior partner to "restructure" the debts of
the nation of Iraq.
And who will net the big bucks under Jim Baker's plan? Answer: his
client, Saudi Arabia, which claims $30.7 billion due from Iraq (plus
$12 billion in "reparations" from the First Gulf war).
Let's ponder what's going on here.
We are talking about something called 'sovereign debt.' And unless
George Bush has finally named himself Pasha of Iraq, he is not their
sovereign. Mr. Bush has no authority to seize control of that
nation's assets nor its debts.
But our President isn't going to let something as meaningless as
international law stand in the way of a quick buck for Mr. Baker. To
get around the wee issue that Bush has no legal authority to mess
with Iraq's debt, the White House has crafted a neat little
subterfuge. The President, says the official press release, has not
appointed Baker, rather Mr. Bush is, "responding to a request from
the Iraqi Governing Council." That is, Bush is acting on the
authority of the puppet government he imposed on Iraqis at gunpoint.
(I will grant the Iraqi 'government' has some knowledge of
international finance. Its key member, Ahmed Chalabi, is a convicted
The Bush team must see the other advantage in having the rump
government of Iraq make the choice of Mr. Baker. The US Senate will
not have to review or confirm the appointment.
If you remember, Henry Kissinger ran away from the September 11
commission, with his consulting firm tucked between his legs, after
the Senate demanded he reveal his client list. In the case of Jim
Baker, who will be acting as a de facto Treasury secretary for
international affairs, our elected Congress will have no chance to
ask him who is paying his firm nor even require him to get off
For the Bush administration, this marks a new low in their Conflicts-
R-Us appointments process. Or maybe there's no conflict at all. If
you see Jim Baker's new job as working not to protect a new Iraqi
democracy but to protect the old theocracy of Saudi Arabia, the
Iraq owes something on the order of $120 billion to $150 billion,
depending on who's counting. And who's counting is very important.
Much of the so-called debt to Saudi Arabia was given to Saddam
Hussein to fight a proxy war for the Saudis against their hated foe,
the Shi'ia of Iran. And as disclosed by a former Saudi diplomat, the
kingdom's sheiks handed about $7 billion to Saddam under the table in
the 1980's to build an "Islamic bomb."
Should Iraqis today and those not yet born have to be put in a
debtor's prison to pay off the secret payouts to Saddam?
James Wolfensohn says 'No!' Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank,
has never been on my Christmas card list, but in this case, he's got
it right: Iraq should simply cancel $120 billion in debt.
Normally, the World Bank is in charge of post-war debt restructuring.
That's why the official name of the World Bank is "International Bank
for Reconstruction and Development." This is the Bank's expertise.
Bush has rushed Baker in to pre-empt the debt write-off the World
Bank would have certainly promoted.
"I Fixed Florida"
Why is our President so concerned with the wishes of Mr. Baker's
clientele? What does Bush owe Baker? Let me count the ways, beginning
with the 2000 election.
Just last week Baker said, "I fixed the election in Florida for
George Bush." That was the gravamen of his remarks to an audience of
Russian big wigs as reported to me by my somewhat astonished
colleagues with BBC television.
It was Baker, as consiglieri to the Bush family, who came up with the
strategy of maneuvering the 2000 Florida vote count into a Supreme
Court packed with politicos.
Baker's claim to have fixed the election was not a confession, it was
a boast. He meant to dazzle current and potential clients in the
former Soviet states about his big In with the Big Boy in the White
House. Baker's firm is already a top player in the Great Game of
seizing Caspian Sea oil. (An executive of Exxon-Mobil, one of Baker
Botts's clients, has been charged with evading taxes on bribes paid
All in the Family
Over the years, Jim Baker has taken responsibility for putting bread
on the Bush family table. As Senior Counsel to Carlyle, the arms-
dealing investment group, Baker arranged for the firm to hire both
President Bush 41 after he was booted from the White House and
President Bush 43 while his daddy was still in office.
Come to think of it, maybe I'm being a bit too dismissive of the
Iraqi make-believe government. After all, it's not as if George Bush
were elected by the voters either. It would be more accurate to say
that two puppet governments have agreed on letting the man who has
always pulled the strings come out from behind the curtain, take a
bow, take charge, take the money, and run.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Best
Democracy Money Can Buy."
Tear Down That Wal-Mart
By Mickey Z., AlterNet
December 2, 2003
If any of you have connections to the folks who produce "The
Simpsons," I have an idea for a great opening sequence. Marge hears
that the local discount store is offering DVD players for $29 so she
gets on line with a zillion others to wait for the store to open at
6:00 a.m. In fact, she's first in line. When the siren blares, Marge
is trampled by the frenzied bargain-hunters behind her and is found
lying unconscious on top of a DVD player. Marge is airlifted to the
local hospital where, after she recovers from a seizure, she's told
that the owner of the discount store has offered to put a DVD player
on hold for her.
All right...so I didn't just make that scenario up. It actually
happened to Patricia VanLester at an Orange City, Florida Wal-Mart
SuperCenter on November 28, 2003.
"She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of
elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them,
`Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!' All they cared
about was a stupid DVD player."
Apparently, VanLester and her sister also cared enough about those
stupid DVD players to be on line at 6:00 a.m. to buy one.
Wal-Mart is America's largest employer. General Motors used to be
America's largest employer but GM is too busy being Mexico's largest
employer now...so it's up Wal-Mart to keep consumerism alive and
Wal-Mart was founded by the late Sam Walton. Forget John-boy, these
are the real Waltons and their story is a far more accurate
illustration of the real American Dream. The Bentonville, Arkansas-
based behemoth claims that more than 93 million Americans shop in at
least one of its over 4,400 discount stores in the US. Those tens of
millions have helped make Wal-Mart the single largest seller of pop
music in America but you won't find anyone trampled during a sale of
rap music with "explicit" lyrics because Wal-Mart doesn't sell that
kind of CD. Rifles, knives, handcuffs, or handgun ammunition? No
With roughly half of their employees - I mean, "associates" -
eligible for food stamps, the Waltons remain steadfastly anti-union.
As an internal Wal-Mart document explained: "Wal-Mart is opposed to
the unionization of its associates. Any suggestion that the company
is neutral on the subject or that it encourages associates to join
labor organizations is not true." To drive this policy home, Wal-Mart
has become the world's largest importer of Chinese-made products and
the subsequent sweatshop-level prices have been known to cause a
stampede or two.
"We are very disappointed this happened," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen
Burk said after the VanLester incident. "We want her to come back as
Ms. Burk needn't worry. As Louis Uchitelle explains in The New York
Times ("Why Americans Must Keep Spending," December 1, 2003), despite
a tough economy, "Consumers will keep spending anyway, going deeper
into debt to do so if they must. They have too many needs, some that
were luxuries only yesterday." Doing his part to promote holiday
shopping (and predatory capitalism), Uchitelle says, "Consumers in
America spend because they feel they must spend."
Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and
Activists Making Ends Meet. He can be reached at: mzx2@....
A Civilization In Denial -
We Are Running Out Of Oil
The Bottom Of The Barrel
By George Monbiot
The Guardian - UK
The oil industry is buzzing. On Thursday, the government approved the
development of the biggest deposit discovered in British territory
for at least 10 years. Everywhere we are told that this is a "huge"
find, which dispels the idea that North Sea oil is in terminal
decline. You begin to recognise how serious the human predicament has
become when you discover that this "huge" new field will supply the
world with oil for five and a quarter days.
Every generation has its taboo, and ours is this: that the resource
upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk
about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilisation in
Oil itself won't disappear, but extracting what remains is becoming
ever more difficult and expensive. The discovery of new reserves
peaked in the 1960s. Every year we use four times as much oil as we
find. All the big strikes appear to have been made long ago: the 400m
barrels in the new North Sea field would have been considered
piffling in the 1970s. Our future supplies depend on the discovery of
small new deposits and the better exploitation of big old ones. No
one with expertise in the field is in any doubt that the global
production of oil will peak before long.
The only question is how long. The most optimistic projections are
the ones produced by the US department of energy, which claims that
this will not take place until 2037. But the US energy information
agency has admitted that the government's figures have been fudged:
it has based its projections for oil supply on the projections for
oil demand, perhaps in order not to sow panic in the financial
Other analysts are less sanguine. The petroleum geologist Colin
Campbell calculates that global extraction will peak before 2010. In
August, the geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes told New Scientist that he
was "99% confident" that the date of maximum global production will
be 2004. Even if the optimists are correct, we will be scraping the
oil barrel within the lifetimes of most of those who are middle-aged
The supply of oil will decline, but global demand will not. Today we
will burn 76m barrels; by 2020 we will be using 112m barrels a day,
after which projected demand accelerates. If supply declines and
demand grows, we soon encounter something with which the people of
the advanced industrial economies are unfamiliar: shortage. The price
of oil will go through the roof.
As the price rises, the sectors which are now almost wholly dependent
on crude oil - principally transport and farming - will be forced to
contract. Given that climate change caused by burning oil is cooking
the planet, this might appear to be a good thing. The problem is that
our lives have become hard-wired to the oil economy. Our sprawling
suburbs are impossible to service without cars. High oil prices mean
high food prices: much of the world's growing population will go
hungry. These problems will be exacerbated by the direct connection
between the price of oil and the rate of unemployment. The last five
recessions in the US were all preceded by a rise in the oil price.
Oil, of course, is not the only fuel on which vehicles can run. There
are plenty of possible substitutes, but none of them is likely to be
anywhere near as cheap as crude is today. Petroleum can be extracted
from tar sands and oil shale, but in most cases the process uses
almost as much energy as it liberates, while creating great mountains
and lakes of toxic waste. Natural gas is a better option, but
switching from oil to gas propulsion would require a vast and
staggeringly expensive new fuel infrastructure. Gas, of course, is
subject to the same constraints as oil: at current rates of use, the
world has about 50 years' supply, but if gas were to take the place
of oil its life would be much shorter.
Vehicles could be run from fuel cells powered by hydrogen, which is
produced by the electrolysis of water. But the electricity which
produces the hydrogen has to come from somewhere. To fill all the
cars in the US would require four times the current capacity of the
national grid. Coal burning is filthy, nuclear energy is expensive
and lethal. Running the world's cars from wind or solar power would
require a greater investment than any civilisation has ever made
before. New studies suggest that leaking hydrogen could damage the
ozone layer and exacerbate global warming.
Turning crops into diesel or methanol is just about viable in terms
of recoverable energy, but it means using the land on which food is
now grown for fuel. My rough calculations suggest that running the
United Kingdom's cars on rapeseed oil would require an area of arable
fields the size of England.
There is one possible solution which no one writing about the
impending oil crisis seems to have noticed: a technique with which
the British and Australian governments are currently experimenting,
called underground coal gasification. This is a fancy term for
setting light to coal seams which are too deep or too expensive to
mine, and catching the gas which emerges. It's a hideous prospect, as
it means that several trillion tonnes of carbon which was otherwise
impossible to exploit becomes available, with the likely result that
global warming will eliminate life on Earth.
We seem, in other words, to be in trouble. Either we lay hands on
every available source of fossil fuel, in which case we fry the
planet and civilisation collapses, or we run out, and civilisation
The only rational response to both the impending end of the oil age
and the menace of global warming is to redesign our cities, our
farming and our lives. But this cannot happen without massive
political pressure, and our problem is that no one ever rioted for
austerity. People tend to take to the streets because they want to
consume more, not less. Given a choice between a new set of matching
tableware and the survival of humanity, I suspect that most people
would choose the tableware.
In view of all this, the notion that the war with Iraq had nothing to
do with oil is simply preposterous. The US attacked Iraq (which
appears to have had no weapons of mass destruction and was not
threatening other nations), rather than North Korea (which is
actively developing a nuclear weapons programme and boasting of its
intentions to blow everyone else to kingdom come) because Iraq had
something it wanted. In one respect alone, Bush and Blair have been
making plans for the day when oil production peaks, by seeking to
secure the reserves of other nations.
I refuse to believe that there is not a better means of averting
disaster than this. I refuse to believe that human beings are
collectively incapable of making rational decisions. But I am
beginning to wonder what the basis of my belief might be.
- The sources for this and all George Monbiot's recent articles can
be found at www.monbiot.com.