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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Clark s new TV ad features Bill Clinton By
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2004
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Clark's new TV ad features Bill Clinton
      By Liz Sidoti

      Dec. 29, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic presidential hopeful
      Wesley Clark's new television commercial includes a clip of him and
      Bill Clinton. It's the first ad of the 2004 campaign to include an
      image of the former president, arguably America's most popular

      The clip is only a few seconds and shows Clinton walking from a
      podium at the White House to place the Presidential Medal of Freedom
      over Clark's head, honoring his fellow Arkansan for his work in
      Kosovo as NATO supreme allied commander.

      It is one of several scenes in the 30-second ad that was to start
      running Monday night in New Hampshire, where Clark is trailing Howard
      Dean and John Kerry in polls. The commercial includes footage of
      Clark with a short-order cook, a solider and schoolchildren in a

      Campaign advisers say the ad is meant to illustrate that Clark would
      be the kind of leader who not only has seen ordinary people do
      extraordinary things in their lifetimes, but who has been honored for
      such accomplishments.

      As the Clinton clip is shown, an announcer in the ad says that Clark
      is a leader who has been "decorated for valor and for service in our

      Clinton's name is not mentioned, but it's obvious that the footage is
      meant to align the retired Army general with the former president. It
      is one more example of how Clark's campaign is embracing the
      similarities between the two men.

      Dozens of former Clinton staffers are working on Clark's campaign. It
      recently released a film about Clark's life that was reminiscent of a
      film about Clinton and was made by the same person who produced that
      critically acclaimed piece. The two men's early lives also have
      striking parallels, such as both having earned Rhodes scholarships to
      study at Oxford University in the late 1960s.

      The campaign is spending $125,000, a moderate amount, to run the ad
      for a week on stations that broadcast into New Hampshire.



      117 Palestinians Slaughtered During Media's 'Relative Calm'
      By Ali Abunimah
      The Electronic Intifada

      On December 25, an Israeli assassination squad killed five
      Palestinians in Gaza, and injured fifteen. Three of the dead were
      civilians. A short time later, a Palestinian blew himself up at a bus
      stop in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, killing four Israelis,
      three of whom were confirmed by Ha'aretz to be soldiers.

      Many leading media organizations were quick to declare that these two
      incidents marked the end of a period of "relative calm" or "lull" in
      Israeli-Palestinian violence, that had supposedly lasted since the
      last Palestinian suicide attack in Haifa on 4 October.

      In fact, the period since 4 October has been one of intense Israeli
      violence, in which 117 Palestinians were killed, including 23
      children. At the same time, Israel destroyed almost five hundred
      Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories.

      Mass amnesia again strikes Middle East correspondents

      A front-page Los Angeles Times headline declared "12-Week lull in
      Mideast Ends," and misreported that the "back to back spasms of
      violence" on 25 December, "shattered more than two months of relative
      quiet and dealt a fresh setback to peace efforts" (26 December 2003).

      "Mideast quiet shattered: Suicide bombing kills four Israelis shortly
      after assassination in Gaza," declared The Montreal Gazette on Page 1
      (26 December 2003).

      The Chicago Tribune reported that "Coming less than an hour apart,"
      the 25 December "attacks broke a lull that had lasted more than two
      months and raised fears of a slide into violence" (26 December 2003).

      CNN reported on its website that the Petah Tikva attack "was the
      first suicide bombing in Israel since an October 4 attack in Haifa.
      That incident killed 21 people. There has been a relative calm since
      the Haifa bombing" ("Suicide bomber kills three in Tel Aviv, " 25
      December 2003).

      Even the usually careful U.K.-based Reuters news agency's report
      (which had an identical headline to the CNN report) stated that, "the
      attacks on Thursday shattered well over two months of relative calm
      that had spurred efforts to revive talks between Israelis and
      Palestinians on a U.S.-led plan for ending more than three years of
      conflict" ("Suicide bomber kills three in Tel Aviv," 25 December

      In an extraordinary act of forgetfulness, a New York Times report by
      Richard Bernstein and Greg Myre declared that "The suicide bomb
      attack in Petah Tikva broke a tense sort of relative calm that has
      existed on both sides since October" (26 December 2003). But just a
      few paragraphs above this sentence, the same article reported
      that "Less than an hour before the suicide attack, Israeli gunships
      fired missiles at a car in Gaza, killing a commander of Islamic
      Jihad, who Israeli officials said was planning a 'mega' attack inside
      Israel" (emphasis added). The report also stated that four others
      were killed including "two bystanders" and 14 people were injured.

      Not only did the Times forget what had happened just an hour before
      the Petah Tikva bomb, it had apparently wiped from memory a report by
      the same Greg Myre on 24 December, headlined "Israelis Kill 8
      Palestinians in Raid on a Camp in Gaza." According to the Palestinian
      Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a total of nine Palestinians were
      killed in the Israeli attack on Rafah refugee camp about which Myre
      reported. Among the 37 injured, eight were children, and 116 families
      were made homeless.

      What really happened during the period of "relative calm"

      Contrary to the pervasive media claim that the period between 4
      October and 25 December was one of "relative calm," "quiet"
      or "lull," it was actually one of intense Israeli violence on
      Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories.

      Using the meticulous weekly reports of the Palestinian Centre for
      Human Rights (PCHR), EI counted that Israeli forces killed 117
      Palestinians from 2 October to 25 December. The vast majority of the
      dead were civilians and 23 of them were children. Hundreds of
      civilians were injured by Israeli fire. During the same period, PCHR
      documented that Israeli occupation forces destroyed 486 houses and
      apartments, rendering thousands of Palestinians homeless.

      During the same period, few Israeli soldiers and civilians were
      killed in Palestinian attacks, and there were indeed no suicide
      attacks since 4 October. Israel claims that the huge drop in violence
      against its civilians was largely because it "foiled" such attacks.
      But, the New York Times reported on 5 December that, "Israeli
      officials have concluded that the Islamic movement Hamas has
      suspended its suicide bombing campaign in recent months, a senior
      Israeli military officer said Thursday, citing that as one reason
      Israel has not suffered any deadly bombings in the past two months."

      What is indisputable is that Israel was killing and injuring
      Palestinians by the hundreds. Here are a few examples of incidents
      that occurred during the media's period of "relative calm":

      * On 10 October, a large contingent of Israeli forces, armed with
      over 80 tanks, armored bulldozers and helicopters, entered Rafah
      refugee camp in southern Gaza. During the two-day long attack, 8
      Palestinians were killed, including 3 children, and 53 were wounded;
      20 seriously. Israeli forces destroyed 170 homes rendering more than
      2000 Palestinians homeless.

      In response to this incident, Amnesty International issued a
      statement saying "The repeated practice by the Israeli army of
      deliberate and wanton destruction of homes and civilian property is a
      grave violation of international human rights and humanitarian law,
      notably articles 33 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and
      constitutes a war crime."

      * On 20 October, Israeli occupation forces carried out two
      assassination attacks that killed eleven Palestinians. Eight of the
      dead were bystanders. The first attack occurred in the morning, when
      Israeli helicopters fired a missile at a car stopped at a traffic
      light in Gaza City. The missile killed the two occupants of the
      targeted car, and the driver of an adjacent car. Nine passing
      civilians sustained injuries, one of them serious. That evening,
      seven Palestinians were killed, including a child and an on-duty
      doctor when Israeli forces carried out a failed assassination attempt
      in Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp. The targets of the attack escaped,
      but in addition to the seven civilians killed, 50 were injured,
      including 11 children. An eighth civilian later died from his

      * On 26 October, Israeli occupation forces in Gaza killed three
      members of the same family who were on their way to visit relatives
      to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
      The three men, Khaled Ahmed Ibrahim al-Sumairi, 40, Ussama
      Suleiman 'Aayesh Al-Sumairi, 30, Ibrahim Mousa al-Sumairi, 32, got
      into their car at approximately 8.45 PM at their home in Wadi Salqa
      village in the central Gaza Strip. When they were approximately 300
      metres from their house, Israeli forces opened fire on them without
      warning, injuring all three. The occupation forces then imposed a
      military curfew on the area, preventing Palestinian ambulances from
      reaching the men for more than 90 minutes. By the time ambulances
      were allowed to tend to the victims, two had died. The third died of
      his injuries upon arrival at Deir al-Balah hospital. After initially
      claiming that the three men had been armed, the Israeli media
      reported that the occupation authorities admitted that the men were
      in fact unarmed and had been killed "by mistake."

      * On 8 December at approximately 3 PM, Israeli forces stationed
      at "Neve Dekalim" settlement, west of Khan Yunis, in Gaza opened fire
      at the al-Namsawi area of Khan Yunis refugee camp. A Palestinian
      schoolchild, Fatima Mousa Khalafallah, age 10, was wounded by a live
      bullet in the chest while she was in her school approximately 700
      metres away from the source of fire.

      These are just four examples of the dozens of violent incidents that
      took 117 Palestinian lives, and injured hundreds more since early

      Despite the continuous bloodshed, mainstream media organizations have
      habitually described this period as being one of "relative calm"
      or "quiet" that ended only when several Israelis were killed.

      This widespread pattern is the most persistent and pernicious failure
      of the media in reporting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It
      represents not only a shocking lack of professionalism and
      objectivity, but a double standard that treats the lives of one set
      of human beings as being inherently more valuable than those of

      - Ali Abunimah is a co-founder of the Electronic Intifada.



      The Daily Outrage:
      The Banality of Atrocity
      Matt Bivens

      "Since the war ended, the American public has been fed a dose of
      movies fictionalizing the excesses of US units in Vietnam, such
      as 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Platoon' ... [usually] focused on a single
      event, like the My Lai massacre. The Tiger Force case is different.
      The atrocities took place over seven months, leaving an untold number
      dead -- possibly several hundred civilians ... Women and children
      were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers
      were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and
      executed ..." -- from the Pulitzer-worthy reporting of The Blade,
      Toledo's oldest newspaper.

      The Blade came out in October 2003 with its five-part investigative
      series about those many months of routine atrocity in 1967-era
      Vietnam (and the subsequent decades of investigation, cover-up,
      indifference and uncertainty). Now The New York Times has added its
      own peer- review journalism -- checking out and confirming some of
      the work of The Blade.

      The New York Times has only one quibble -- and it ought to ring true
      to anyone familiar with the best Vietnam war reporting, such as, for
      example, "The Military Half" by Jonathan Schell: The men who
      participated in the Tiger Force rampages deny they were a rogue unit;
      they, and many other experts interviewed, say that raging war-crime
      atrocity was simply the order of the day. So Hollywood and Americans
      can express shock and dismay at My Lais -- but it's essentially a
      dishonest reaction. Vietnam was not a war sprinkled with a few much-
      lamented My Lais; Vietnam was one long series of organized and
      approved My Lais, as policy, period.

      "Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades
      into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground
      forces throughout Vietnam," The Times quotes the Tiger Force "rogues"
      as saying, adding, "That contention is backed up by accounts of
      journalists, historians and disillusioned troops." The paper quotes a
      doctoral candidate at Columbia University, Nicholas Turse, who has
      been studying government archives; he says they are filled with such
      horrors. "I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported," Turse
      is quoted as saying. "I read through that case a year, year and a
      half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made
      it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just
      one of hundreds."

      Just one of hundreds.

      And we've known this for at least, oh, 32 years or so. John Kerry,
      the Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, was a freshly
      discharged Navy officer when he went before the Senate Foreign
      Relations Committee in April 1971. Americans in Vietnam, he
      testified, had "raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable
      telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs,
      blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in
      fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun,
      poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside ..."

      All that was "in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal
      and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing
      power of this country."

      We know, by the way, that much the same critique can be leveled
      regarding Iraq. When you are the occupying power facing a furious
      guerrilla opposition, you've already lost. Because you shoot everyone
      too quick, or get shot yourself -- and that makes everyone hate you
      and join the guerrilla opposition. And the only good to come of it is
      a bunch of fine, fine Hollywood movies many years down the line.


      U.S. bans ephedra, drug linked to deaths
      By John Solomon

      Dec. 30, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government announced
      on Tuesday a ban on the sale of ephedra, an herbal supplement used
      for weight control that has been linked to a number of deaths and
      harmful side effects.

      Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said that "based
      on the best possible scientific evidence" his agency would issue a
      consumer alert about the dangers of ephedra and will send notices to
      manufacturers to stop selling the herbs.

      "The time to stop taking this product is now," he said.

      "They are just too risky to use," said the secretary.

      Thompson said the decision was "well grounded" and based on extensive
      scientific study. The ban would take effect in 60 days.

      "I don't want people turning to ephedra thinking they could lose
      weight," Thompson told a news conference.

      Mark McClellan, head of the Food and Drug Administration, said his
      agency is notifying consumers and manufacturers that it will publish
      a rule making it illegal to sell and use ephedra.

      He said the agency was concerned about young people and athletes
      looking to ephedra to boost their performance. Use of the supplement
      has led to serious health effects, he said.

      "We're sending a strong and clear signal" that such products should
      come off the market, McClellan said.

      McClellan said the FDA reviewed major studies of ephedra and publicly
      issued findings about the herb. He said the publication received
      thousands of comment and expressions of support for taking the
      product off the market.

      The rule will go into effect in 60 days "and have the practical
      effect" of banning ephedra, he said.

      "Ephedra raises your blood pressure and stresses your system,"
      McClellan said. "There are far better, safer ways, to get in shape."

      Critics called the federal crackdown too late. Sales nationwide
      already have plummeted because of publicity about roughly 155 deaths
      blamed on the amphetamine-like stimulant, including Baltimore Orioles
      baseball player Steve Bechler earlier this year. Ephedra is linked to
      heart attacks and strokes, even when used by outwardly healthy people
      at recommended doses, because it speeds heart rate and constricts
      blood vessels.

      Ernie Bechler, Steve's father in Medford, Ore., said he was awakened
      by a phone call around 6 a.m. local time with word of the decision.

      "It's the only thing that could make my wife and I be happy," he
      said. "Nothing else could have done what this is doing. I mean to get
      this off the market and to save other peoples' lives is just amazing
      to us."

      Ernie Bechler testified in Congress, urging a ban. "That's the last
      thing I said: 'Please don't let my son die in vain."'

      At the news conference, McClellan said FDA has spent months "scouring
      all of the adverse effects reports." The decision was not based on
      adverse effects alone, he said, but also on clinical studies and
      expert opinion and review.

      "It is the totality of the evidence" that was used to make the
      decision, McClellan said.

      McClellan said the FDA was prepared to defend the action in court.

      He said his agency was working as quickly as it can under the current
      law regulating diet supplements. "We are laying the strongest
      possible foundation to not only take the product off the market, but
      to keep it off," McClellan said.

      Thompson said the agency "was crossing every 't' and dotting
      every 'i' " to make sure the action stands up in court. "We are
      taking every procedural accountability standard" to make sure the ban
      withstands court tests, he said.

      McClellan said his agency has done extensive work to "make sure we
      can use all of our authority" to keep ephedra off the market.

      Thompson said that three states already have banned ephedra and "this
      is the next giant step" in taking the supplement off the market.

      New York, Illinois and California -- have passed their own ephedra
      bans; use has been banned in professional football, college athletics
      and minor-league baseball, and several retail chains, including
      supplement giant General Nutrition Centers, recently quit selling it,

      "It's a dead product and unfortunately it has become a dead product
      over the backs of a lot of dead people when the FDA could have acted
      before," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the consumer advocacy group Public
      Citizen, which petitioned the government for a ban in 2001.

      The supplement industry's Council for Responsible Nutrition said it
      didn't oppose a ban, noting that very few companies still make the
      stimulant -- its members who once did no longer do so.

      "We think the reputable players have found so much controversy and
      difficulty in this marketplace that they've decided to get out of
      it," said CRN's John Hathcock. "We recognize the controversy is a
      cloud over our whole industry."

      Remaining ephedra manufacturers didn't immediately comment Tuesday,
      but have insisted that studies prove their products safe when used

      "Anyone who has read our label knows that we go to great lengths to
      inform our customers about the proper use of our products,"
      Metabolife International chief executive Russell Schreck said over
      the summer.

      But several scientists said that it was impossible to prove whether
      ephedra was safe because studies screen out participants who have
      health problems -- the people most likely to be hurt by the product.

      The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, looked
      into the issue and found many people who reported problems had
      followed the label's instructions.

      The government ban, one of the first involving a dietary supplement,
      comes after Thompson this summer urged Congress to rewrite a law that
      rolled back dietary-supplement regulations and to require
      manufacturers to acknowledge potential side effects.

      Because ephedra is an herb, U.S. law let it sell over-the-counter
      with little oversight unless the FDA could prove a clear danger to
      public health. Manufacturers blocked a 1997 FDA attempt to restrict
      sales of certain dosages and to put warning labels on the herb by
      arguing the agency lacked enough proof of danger.

      In March, FDA again proposed those warnings and said it would re-
      examine a ban.
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