Saturday, May 31, 2008

Russell Targ's New Autobiography, by Jeffrey Mishlove

I have been a student and a contributor to the field of parapsychology for the last 35 years. And, it is with good authority that I highly recommend all of the books by Russell Targ -- for two simple reasons. First, Russell Targ is a very clear thinker. He expresses his thoughts easily and with great clarity (and wit!). Second, and I believe of even greater importance, Russell Targ is one of the most experienced and successful parapsychology researchers of the last fifty years. He writes from the perspective of an insider's insider. And, I regard all that he has to say to be of great importance to anyone trying to understand this very tricky field. In addition -- and this is particularly relevant to Do You See What I See? -- Russell, himself, has been on a path of personal transformation. This book is especially lucid in terms of integrating modern, scientific ideas with thought from Hindu and Buddhist teachings. Because it is autobiographical, this is the most wide-ranging of all of Targ's books. It is also the most personal. For anyone interested in the human story behind the career of a great parapsychology researcher (not to mention laser physicist), this book is a must read.

A Philosophical Challenge, by Crispin Sartwell

My irritating yet astounding new book Against the State (SUNY Press) argues that all the arguments of the great philosophers (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Hegel, Rawls, Nozick, and Habermas, among others), are, putting it kindly, unsound. The state rests on violence: not the consent of the governed, not utility, not rational decision-making, not justice. Not only are the existing arguments for the legitimacy of state power unsound; they are shockingly fallacious, a scandal, an embarrassment to the Western intellectual tradition.So I issue a challenge: Give a decent argument for the moral legitimacy of state power, or reconstruct one of the traditional arguments in the face of the refutations in Against the State. If you can't, you are rationally obliged to accept anarchism. I'd offer a huge cash prize, but I'm broke.Henceforward, if you continue to support or observe the authority of government, you are an evil, irrational cultist.You're an anarchist now, baby, until further notice.e-mail responses to Yours in anarchy, Crispin Sartwell You can pre-order from amazon, or actually get holt of it from suny press. Here's a video version of the challenge I am issuing to all comers to formulate a decent argument for the legitimacy of state power.

Meet South America's New Secessionists

From a Texan-Venezuelan to an Ecuadorian Giuliani By NIKOLAS KOZLOFF Having failed to halt the tide of South America’s Pink Tide, Washington is seeking to cultivate relationships with secessionist leaders in order to facilitate the breakup of countries which share left leaning governments. In Bolivia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has explicitly supported demands of the political opposition for greater regional autonomy in the eastern section of the country and has funneled millions of dollars to the right. It’s an inflammatory move which has incited a diplomatic firestorm throughout the region. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an important ally of the Morales government in La Paz, has said that his country will not stand for secession in Bolivia’s eastern lowland states. The stage now seems set for confrontation, as Bolivia's largest and richest state overwhelmingly backed a referendum calling for greater autonomy earlier this month. Chávez declared that his government has not meddled in the domestic affairs of other Latin American nations, but would do so if Bolivian states now seeking greater autonomy from Bolivia's central government push for total independence. On his weekend radio and television program, the Venezuelan leader blamed "oligarchs" and "fascists" in Bolivia for the unrest. "The CIA and its lackeys" aimed at seizing control of regional governments through illegal referendums, Chávez said, "but we will defeat that plan through integration, political union and ideological strength." News of the secession movement in Bolivia has alarmed the Venezuelan authorities. It’s not difficult to see why: in western Venezuela, the right wing opposition is pushing for greater autonomy from the central government. In response to the political crisis in Bolivia, Chávez likened opposition efforts to win control of states near Venezuela's border with Colombia to "separatist" moves in the impoverished Andean nation to the south. With secession rapidly turning into a worrisome political dilemma for regional governments, right wing opposition figures are now coming to the fore. Who are these secession leaders who wish to derail South America’s Pink Tide? A Texan Venezuelan With the largest inland lake in Latin America, the most fertile land and 40 percent of Venezuela's oil production, the western state of Zulia and its capital Maracaibo may rightly claim to be the country's productive backbone. Zulia has always thought of itself as the Texas of Venezuela -- a land dominated by oil, cattle and predominantly conservative politicians. It is the country’s most affluent and populous state. Local residents have long taken pride in zulianidad - a state identity based loosely on Caribbean food and hospitality, a local musical genre known as gaita, and the syncretic Christian practices that dominate local religious life, chief among them worship of the "Black Christ" housed in Maracaibo's cathedral. In the twentieth century some “Zulianos” sought greater autonomy from the central government. Historical documents in the Public Records Office of Kew Gardens in London suggest that U.S. oil companies have been embroiled in secession plots (for more on this murky history, see my earlier Counterpunch articles on Zulia secession). Currently, the most high profile politician pushing for greater Zulia autonomy is Manuel Rosales. Born in 1952, Rosales began his political career in the 1970s as a local member of the city council in the town of Santa Barbara del Zulia. A teacher, Rosales rose through the ranks of Acción Democrática, one of the two corrupt parties that dominated Venezuelan political life in the twentieth century. Rosales went on to be elected mayor of Maracaibo and formed his own party, A New Time. An implacable foe of Hugo Chávez, Rosales went on to be elected Zulia governor in 2000. Even as Chávez and his followers racked up one electoral victory after the next, Rosales defied conventional political wisdom by winning reelection in 2004. “I Made a Mistake in Good Faith” A politician who defines himself as a believer in freedom and social justice, Rosales nevertheless supported the U.S.-supported 2002 coup against Chávez. Rosales was a signatory to the infamous “Carmona Decree” dissolving Venezuela’s democratic institutions. He later claimed, unconvincingly, that he had made a mistake “in good faith.” At the time he signed the decree, Rosales argued, it appeared as if Chávez had voluntarily resigned from the presidency amidst urban confusion and gun battles erupting in the streets of Caracas. In December, 2006 Rosales ran against Chávez in the presidential election. Though he received support from the middle class opposition he went down to bitter defeat, losing by some 25 percentage points. The campaign unfolded amidst a climate of intrigue, as Chávez accused Rosales and the U.S. of promoting Zulia’s political independence and having ties with Rumbo Propio (or “Own Way”), a group which supported Zulia separatism. Néstor Suárez, an anti-Chávez figure who opposed the government’s social programs in favor of “liberal economics,” led the right wing organization. Though Chávez has failed to prove that Rosales had any link to secessionist plots launched by the likes of the U.S. or Rumbo Propio, the Zulia governor has cultivated close ties to the U.S. since his electoral defeat in 2006. Last year, prior to Venezuela’s vote on a constitutional referendum, Rosales went to Washington to meet with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon. Rosales urged the U.S. to press Chávez to slow his constitutional overhaul plan which would have accelerated the government’s progressive social agenda and abolished presidential term limits. Ratcheting up the pressure yet further on Chávez, Rosales now says that he favors some degree of regional autonomy for Zulia. The Zulia governor has said that he favors greater independence from Caracas on the grounds that the government intends to take power away from states and municipalities, and “centralize everything.” Rosales’s statements come in the wake of a renewed autonomy push by New Time state legislators. In early May, they proposed a feasibility study for potential autonomy from the federal government which they compared to the autonomy efforts in Bolivia’s wealthy province of Santa Cruz. In response to the inflammatory moves by Rosales’ party, Chávez supporters have lashed back. “We legislators categorically reject this separatist, secessionist proposal of the state because it goes against our values and the integral development of the country,” said José Luis Acosta, a pro-Chávez state legislator from Zulia. Acosta added that “We, with the law, with the People in the street, and with the armed forces, will put up a fight.” “I Need to Urinate On You” Venezuela is not the only country facing an internal secessionist movement. In Ecuador, the right opposition to President Rafael Correa is coalescing around Jaime Nebot, the mayor of the coastal city of Guayaquil. Affiliated to the country’s Social Christian Party, Nebot ran twice for the Presidency, in 1992 and 1996. During his second presidential bid, Nebot ran on a pro-business platform stressing privatization of public services. Born into a prominent Guayaquil family, Nebot entered politics in 1984 when President Leon Febres-Cordero appointed the ambitious young man Governor of Guayas province, the district encompassing Guayaquil. Nebot’s association with Febres-Cordero, a key ally of Ronald Reagan at the time, is not flattering. As I explain in my new book, Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan), torture and killing by the military as well as disappearances and arbitrary arrests multiplied in Ecuador during this unfortunate period of the country’s political history. Later, Nebot rose to national prominence when he won a seat in Congress on the Social Christian Party slate. While serving in Congress, Nebot became known for his colorful and tasteless outbursts. In August, 1990 Nebot, visibly agitated, began yelling hysterically at a fellow congressman, Víctor Granda of the Socialist Party. "Come here so I can urinate on you," Nebot shouted memorably at Granda. "I can't just hit you. I have to urinate on you." Police had to physically intervene to stop Nebot from physically assaulting his adversary. The incident was caught on Ecuadoran national TV and has been preserved for posterity on YouTube. Ecuador’s Giuliani In 2000 Nebot was elected Mayor of Guayaquil where he pursued a conservative, pro-business agenda emphasizing gentrification and crime busting (he was reelected in 2004 to another four year term). In his zealous drive to emulate tough guy Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Nebot contracted former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton to help shape the city's urban regeneration strategy in 2002. Nebot flew Bratton in from the United States, paying him an enormous sum of money for just three days of work. Bratton proposed an overhaul of Guayaquil's anti-crime structure which later became known as "Plan Bratton.” The New York cop’s anti-crime structure has formed part and parcel of the city’s regeneration plan, which has turned Guayaquil into a kind of dystopian urban nightmare. In the new Guayaquil, urban “undesirables” found working in gentrified areas face tough penalties: beggars and itinerant vendors may be imprisoned for up to seven days and fines can reach as high as $500. “Just Like Miami” A newly constructed boardwalk called the Malecón 2000 is praised by many local residents as being “just like Miami.” However, indigenous street vendors do not fit into this ideal and there have been ongoing efforts to remove them from cleaned up urban spaces. In an excellent and thorough recent scholarly article, University of Glasgow geographer Kate Swanson described the contours of Nebot’s social policy. The boulevard, she writes, “is monitored by heavily armed police who individually assess who can enter the gated grounds and who cannot. Within the regenerated area, there are now at least 52 police-operated video cameras running 24 hours a day. This municipal gaze is not only concerned with crime control; rather, a key function of the cameras is to monitor the regenerated areas for the occupation of public space—particularly by informal workers.” The Malecón, which lies adjacent to the Guayas River, is totally manicured and sanitized. Pedestrians may lounge in cafes and gardens, sit on benches or even eat in a local McDonald’s. “Yet,” notes Swanson, “this too is guarded and monitored by heavily armed police during all opening hours. The gates close at midnight to prevent undesirables from sneaking in and spending the night. This boardwalk was designed with tourists and Guayaquil's upper-middle classes in mind.” According to Swanson, there’s been much criticism of the social impacts of Nebot’s revitalization projects. In fact, she notes, newspaper articles have been replete with complaints by informal workers denouncing police harassment. In 2003 alone, the media reported 10 cases of excessive police force in Guayaquil, many of which were captured on film. At night, informal workers are not allowed to pass into revitalized areas of the city, and the streets are patrolled by truckloads of young, heavily armed police officers. Nebot to Correa: “We Refuse to Be Guinea Pigs” Having failed in his presidential ambitions, Nebot is now seeking to capitalize on secessionist sentiment in Guayas, the nation’s most affluent province. The populous, agricultural region contributes a huge share of money to the central government and is rich in natural resources. Banana, cocoa, rice, sugar cane, cotton, tropical flowers and fruits are grown there, both for domestic consumption and export. There is a fishing industry, focused mainly on tuna and on shrimp farming, and food, cement, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. What’s more, Guayaquil is the nation’s largest port. If Guayas were to ever secede from Ecuador, such a move would prove economically devastating for the country. Nebot however is determined to turn up the pressure on Correa, saying that the government needs to stop its “socialist project” before the country cracks up. Nebot and his followers argue that Correa’s desire to reform the country’s constitution is aimed at making the President a “Chávez-style” dictator. In January, 2008 Nebot led a march of tens of thousands through Guayaquil’s streets in the name of defending the city’s autonomy from Correa’s plans for further centralization. Supporters waved the city's blue and white flag and chanted "Long live Guayaquil, dammit," and "Down with Correa." "As long as you are alive and I am alive, he will never push us around," Nebot shouted to the crowd. "We will not be guinea pigs of a failed experiment." An estimated 150,000-200,000 people attended the protest, around double the number who joined a government-sponsored march in Guayaquil a week earlier to mark the Correa government’s first anniversary in power. Meet Rubén Costas: Bolivia’s Secessionist Fair skinned and European looking, Rubén Costas hardly resembles Bolivia’s indigenous president Evo Morales. Elected Prefect of the western department of Santa Cruz in 2005, Costas has become a key advocate for greater regional autonomy and a thorn in the side of the government in La Paz. Following Costas’ election, the right opposition escalated its pressure on the Morales government, organizing protests in the city of Sucre against the President’s proposed Constitution which would have given the country’s indigenous majority a greater say in political decision making. When clashes erupted which resulted in the deaths of three demonstrators and a policeman, Costas pounced by calling for a 24-hour business strike. An advocate for powerful business interests, Costas was also one of the right wing politicians who called for a referendum on Santa Cruz autonomy earlier this month. Prior to the referendum, Costas remarked hopefully that the departments of Tarija, Pando and Benin would join Santa Cruz in its drive for autonomy and “a second Bolivia will be created.” On the eve of the referendum vote, Costas assured Bolivians that there would be no violence. At a rally, he announced “We don't want dynamite, nor clubs, nor rancor. The democratic vote is our only weapon." Predictably however, Election Day was marked by violent clashes between government supporters opposed to the autonomy statute -- mainly indigenous migrants from Bolivia’s impoverished western highlands provinces -- and members of the rightwing Santa Cruz Youth Union. As a result of the May referendum, the stage is now set for irrevocable future conflict: 85% of the residents of Santa Cruz voted for autonomy. As part of the referendum Costas himself will take over as Governor of the department, though Morales has called the vote illegal and nonbinding. Making further mischief, Santa Cruz leaders have pledged to withhold levies paid by energy companies operating in the area. Santa Cruz, Guayas, and Zulia: What Do They Have in Common? Like Guayas and Zulia, affluent provinces in Ecuador and Venezuela respectively, Santa Cruz is the richest department in Bolivia. Bolivia’s eastern departments account for most of the country’s natural gas production, industry and gross domestic product. Like Chávez, who is worried that Zulia secession would lead to a cutoff of oil revenue, Morales can ill afford secession in the east: Bolivia is South America’s poorest country and desperately needs proceeds from the gas industry. There’s a racial and political dimension to these conflicts too. In Ecuador, it is Nebot and the predominantly white and mestizo coastal elite which seek to secede from the Indian highlands. In the small Andean nation, it’s the Indians who are pushing radical social change, whereas whites and mestizos on the coast fear the rise of socialism. In Bolivia, there’s a similar dynamic at work: Morales’s indigenous supporters in the highlands constitute the radical political vanguard which are increasingly at odds with whites and mestizos in the lowlands. In Santa Cruz, the elite fears Morales’ plans to promote land reform and to capture greater energy revenue for the central state. The similarities between these secessionist movements are not lost on the region’s leaders. Javier Zárata, the Bolivian Ambassador to Ecuador, recently remarked that“what is occurring in Bolivia is not an isolated action.” “I know there have been coordination meetings last year and the year before among representatives from Santa Cruz and representatives of Guayaquil, and other states of other countries,” the diplomat added. Speaking on his weekly radio show, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said that “oligarchical and separatist” Bolivians were trying to destabilize the Morales government. Correa remarked that regional governments would not stand for secessionist movements in Santa Cruz, Zulia and Guayas. Elites in all three countries, Correa declared, sought to roll back progressive social change “so as to continue with imperialistic and neo-liberal policies.” Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan)

Roslyn Zinn, 85; blended social activism with the arts

Roslyn Zinn, with her husband, Howard, a historian, author, and activist.
By Bryan Marquard May 21, 2008 The dunes overlooking Wellfleet's shore, a terrain Roslyn Zinn revered during summer visits, glow in one of her paintings with a singular warmth, as if she perceived the landscape more deeply than any seasonal pilgrim. "After years as a teacher and social worker, I turned seriously to painting, which throughout my life had sparked and enlivened my spirit," Ms. Zinn wrote in a brief introduction to "Painting Life," a collection of her work that was published last year, a few months after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "What I see in the world, so burdened and troubled, and yet beautiful in nature and in the human form, impels me to seek to create images that give the possibility of hope." A glorious spray of tulips, the gentle curve of an unclothed hip, the deep smile lines etched around her husband's mouth - Ms. Zinn's brush found in each of her subjects a sense of serenity and promise. And those same qualities, present in her along with a radiant delight in life, impressed those she met her during her long marriage to historian Howard Zinn as they walked arm in arm in marches protesting wars from Vietnam to Iraq. Ms. Zinn, who was always the first and most important reader of her husband's many books and essays, died May 14 in their home in the Auburndale village of Newton. She was 85 and had continued to climb the stairs to her studio and paint until the last days of her life. "She was a passionate person, passionately committed to the causes of peace and justice, and she was anguished by what was happening in the world," her husband said. "At the same time, she was a very sunny, happy, warm person." "The woman exuded love and openness," said James Carroll, an author and columnist for the Globe's opinion pages and a friend of the Zinns. "I felt it, but everyone who met her felt it. She was just an affirming person." He added: "Radical politics could be intimidating and frightening because the questions are so hard, but Roz Zinn made it all seem like the most natural thing in the world to ask the tough questions. She took the threat away." Blending the arts with activism, Ms. Zinn worked for many years as a social worker and was an actor and musician. While her husband rose to prominence as a writer and a professor at Boston University, hers was the unseen hand shaping sentences that inspired his readers and students. "I never showed my work to anyone except her, because she was such a fine editor," he said. "She had such a sensibility about what worked, what read well, what was necessary, what was redundant." One of six children of a Polish immigrant family in Brooklyn, N.Y., Roslyn Shechter read avidly and had already shown promise in high school as a writer and editor before meeting Howard Zinn. They dated briefly, then courted through a lengthy correspondence as he was sent to training bases with the US Army Air Corps. Four days into his first furlough, they married in October 1944. She raised their two children in a low-income housing project in New York City's Lower East Side after the war and worked for a publishing company while her husband attended graduate school. When he took a teaching job at Spelman College in Atlanta in the late 1950s during the nascent days of the civil rights movement, she was the only white actor on the stage in some productions of the Atlanta-Morehouse-Spelman Players. "For 'The King and I,' they wanted a white woman and asked her to do that," her husband said. "White people came to see it and were taken aback. There was an actual gasp in the audience when the black King of Siam put his arm around her waist to dance. Atlanta in 1959 was like Johannesburg, South Africa, it was so rigidly segregated." Moving to Boston when her husband began teaching at BU, she finished her undergraduate work through Goddard College's adult degree program. Ms. Zinn took courses at BU's School of Social Work and then worked with the elderly in East Boston and with young clients in Dorchester and Roxbury. Throughout, she kept a hand in the arts, whether playing recorder with a group in Cambridge or as an appreciative audience member. "Usually, when I would see her, it was after a show, and she was just always beaming, always engaged in the moment," said the comedian Jimmy Tingle. "I'm sure there were nights when I came off stage and it wasn't that great, but she would never let on. She would say, 'That was fantastic!' She gave you great validation." Retiring 20 years ago, Ms. Zinn turned to painting, and tried a number of different styles. She showed her paintings in some venues, and often gave them away to nonprofits. But many friends didn't realize the scope of her accomplishments until an exhibition in Wellfleet a couple of years ago. "I was awestruck by the body of work and the range," said Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a longtime friend and former neighbor. "I had no idea she had produced that much. It was only then that I realized what a brilliant artist she was." Diagnosed with cancer last summer, Ms. Zinn "wrote me and said in effect that she was going to live as normally as possible as long as she could, and that meant visiting with her family, including her grandchildren, and painting and reading poetry," said Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit priest and peace activist. "She was going to be in charge of her life, instead of giving it over to the medical profession." Howard Zinn said that after the diagnosis, they went to their summer home in Wellfleet, where "she swam twice a day and announced it was the best summer of her life." "She seemed to elevate to some place of profound contentment," Carlsson-Paige said. "Roz was always a content person, but she has been supremely happy. I've never seen her sad. I've seen her cherishing every moment, every experience she had, every rainstorm." Two weeks before Ms. Zinn died, she told Carlsson-Paige during a visit that she had just finished two paintings. In one, Ms. Zinn sensed a need for something more. "She said, 'I had to put an apple in it,' which I saw - it's this beautiful yellow apple," said Carlsson-Paige, who asked her friend whether she was pleased with the paintings. "And she said, 'Oh, I'm very happy with them.' She was just completely joyful." In addition to her husband, Ms. Zinn leaves a daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington; a son, Jeff of Wellfleet; three brothers, Ben, Saul, and Carl Shechter, all of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; three granddaughters; and two grandsons. Services will be private.

Friday, May 30, 2008



“Whence come we? What are we? Whither are we going?” Gaugin titled one of his paintings.



What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

–Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was 49 when he published that poem, back in the True-Man era. He’d seen some ups, and he’d seen a lot of downs, born soon after the War to End All Wars, growing up “Negro” in the crime-roaring twenties, and the soul-deep Depression. He’d seen the Labor Movement crushed by hired corporate guns and goons, and government of the mighty by the mighty saved by the “traitor to his class”—who was no traitor to his class! … He’d seen another War to End All Wars and the holocausts of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dachau, and the beginning, of a “Cold War”–that was no Cold War!

And he’d seen a people put their dreams on hold. A “Negro” people, an American people; and the poor and powerless and disenfranchised all over the world—war-weary, war-devastated, hard-laboring, peace-craving, hungry, disenchanted, confused by the cascading changes, searching, questioning, truth-seeking light in their leaders—and holding fast to their dreams: the old dreams of peace, equality of opportunity–and equality before the law; fairness—a New Deal, a Fair Deal; the dream of the promise of technology to eradicate poverty, to expand human horizons to the zenith of our best understanding; the dream of social progress in our families, our communities—and in our shared humanity.

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—and then run?”

We are nearly 3 generations removed from the publication of Hughes’ poem. We’ve had some ups—and a lot more downs. We’ve seen the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, as Alan Ginsberg put it. The madness of materialism—owning things, possessing things, caressing things in a world of shrinking resources, “peak oil,” water shortages, food riots. We’ve seen the promise of technology pollute our rivers, our lakes, even the fathomless seas, and the air we and our children breathe. We’ve been confused by the cascading changes, future-shocked by the rate of change–the unbearable lightness of our being–and we wonder where to stand, and how to hold on to this fiercely spinning globe.

And we hold fast to the old dreams of honor and even “noblesse oblige”; and we hold fast to the new dreams of democracy, freedom and fair play. We seek the light of truth in our leaders; we petition; we vote—because we hold to our dreams, and we have been told, we have been taught, we have been trained—this is the way. We are peace-craving. We do not want conflict. The average man and woman eschews conflict.

We petition. We march. We shout, “Not in our name! Not in our name! Not in our name!” And our leader smirks, he chuckles, his shoulders shake. “Isn’t freedom wonderful?” he says. And the bombing begins. And the holocaust continues. Six years now. One million dead. Millions more wounded, raped, crippled, torn physically, mentally, spiritually.

“Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet. Maybe it just sags like a heavy load … Or does it explode?”

We gather here—and in towns and villages, suburbs and cities all over this land–to ponder Hughes’ mighty question—to share the burden of our dreams, to challenge our dreams: have they been beacons, or have they misled us? This American Dream that Henry Miller back in 1945 called “an air-conditioned nightmare”—where is it taking our world—this shrinking, wounded globe we share with hungry billions—what healing vision can we offer? We who traveled first into the future—where did we stumble, where did we lose our way? And can we help each other now? Can we put aside the territoriality of ideas, the preciousness of ideology and find the thread out of the maze?

These are mythic times—and we have been like the explorer Theseus, wandering through the labyrinth, lost in a hall of mirrors in which we have had to confront ourselves, our worst fears, and, ultimately, the child-devouring demon, that half-beast, half-man Minotaur-monster that looks a little bit—bears an uncanny resemblance to–Dick Cheney! But is really much more than Dick Cheney—is really, the consummation of our dreams distorted—dreams of comfort and ease and endless expansion on other people’s lands, using other people’s resources. And now, even as we confront the Beast, we ponder the way back. And we remember that the root of the word revolution is volvere, to turn, with the prefix re—back. And so we wonder how to get back to first, best principles—the best thoughts of our spiritual leaders: “Love thy neighbor as thyself”; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” … ; “Follow the golden mean.” And we hold in our hands the secret of the way back: not a rope, not a cord, or spool of thread as the mythological Theseus, but a chain—every single link forged with understanding, courage, creativity and action.

Let us then learn from one another, for we have been Argonauts–travelers on a voyage of discovery, trying to determine our place amidst the light and the shadows. “Whence come we? What are we? Whither are we going?” Gaugin titled one of his paintings. Let us then listen and inspire.

We have many sharp analysts on the Left,– acute minds trained in dialectic; wonderful writers and thinkers who can present well-honed arguments; people armed with information, facts and figures; and we have humanists who see the bigger picture—We know how corporatism and militarism impact communities, and we can buttress the story with solid information to ameliorate and avoid the crises, to work towards building a new world. But, sometimes, we lose sight of the importance of the artist in conveying the message to the people most affected by these seismic changes; conveying that message in an emotional and unforgettable way—combining the best of what we think and what we feel.

“Poets,” Shelley told us, “are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” And he meant “poets” in the biggest sense—those who dare to dream: wordsmiths and painters, musicians and dancers, playwrights—and the man or woman working in wood, in clay, fashioning mind-heart rhythms into palpable essences, memorable, life-altering events: departures from the quotidian that make returning to our former states uncomfortable or impossible. “You must alter your life,” Rilke tells us at the end of his Apollo Belvedere poem. Creation is a constant challenging.

But we have been living through an Age of Brass. The great ferment of the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s has tasted like sour wine poured from old bottles, as our artists sat back and financialized their talents. The formulaic, the commercial established their domain over innovation, the politically and socially questioning and challenging. The Baby Boomers long ago boomed-out, and the generations that followed took the primrose path of co-optation, milked the golden calf long before the calf was ready, and the grantsmen came, and the university sinecures were offered to the complaisant and the facile and non-threatening.

For almost forty years we have wandered in this desert of non-art: art divorced from the life and concerns of “average” men and women. And because “artists” (artistes! Artists manque!) have turned their backs on the life and times of the people they should serve, they have, in turn, been shunned by the peanut-crunching crowd, the pop and popcorn consumers, the beer and bratwurst guzzlers, too tired to think, too numbed to feel.

But … great changes start at the edges. The first amphibian crawls out of the sea; a seed is planted, a corner-stone laid. In the fullness of time, “Gilgamesh” is written. Even today, artists are sounding the depths at the margins, going beneath the “dead zones” to where the fastest fish escape to jangle our nerves. From Java Monkey Café in Atlanta to the Cornelia Street Café and Yippie Museum in Manhattan; from slams in Chicago to private homes in D.C.; from soirees in the tony Berkeley Hills to coffee shops in Seattle, the tribes are gathering, polishing the old tales, spinning new ones.

We refuse to be quiet any longer. We refuse to numb ourselves to corporate crime, the military-industrial complex, the pollution of mainstream media, the theft of our ballots, the dumbing-down, the bastardization of our arts and culture. We are gathering and telling our stories. We are listening and painting and shaping the wood and inserting the grace notes. Poets are collaborating with composers and musicians. We no longer buy the tripe of “art for art’s sake.” We do not wait for the professors to sanction what we do. Politics is too important to be left to politicians. Politics is about power relationships and we demand to be part of the equation. Here, we are aided by new technologies: We can burn our own CD’s, we can publish our own books, market our wares on the web; and take down the Empire of greed and duplicity with every chalk drawing on the sidewalks of our cities.

We can explore new sounds, new ideas, new visions and new dreams together. We can explode some old myths—and lay the foundation for deeper truths—truths we have wrestled the angel to find: the chiseled truths of intellect, the perdurable truths of the heart.

Gary Corseri has published novels and poetry collections, had his dramas produced on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. An Arts and Culture editor at Cyrano’sJournalOnline, he has published/posted his work at hundreds of venues, including ThomasPaine’sCorner, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, The New York Times, Village Voice, WorldProutAssembly, GlobalResearch and CounterPunch. He served as Arts Coordinator and co-organizer of the “Building a New World Conference” in Radford, Virginia, May 22-25 this year, where, with some modifications, he delivered the above talk as his welcoming remarks. He can be contacted at

Senate Moves Forward on Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act”

by Tom Burghardt / May 15th, 2008 In the wake of Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins’ (R-ME) alarmist report, “Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorism Threat,” the Senate may be moving towards passage of the Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″ (S. 1959). A companion piece of legislative flotsam to the House bill, “The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″ (H.R. 1955), the Democrat-controlled Congress seems ready to jettison Constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. The bill passed the House by a 404-6 vote in October. Twenty-three congress members abstained, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers. Under cover of studying “violent radicalization,” both bills would broaden the already-fluid definition of “terrorism” to encompass political activity and protest by dissident groups, effectively criminalizing civil disobedience and non-violent direct action by developing policies for “prevention, disruption and mitigation.” Call it COINTELPRO 2.0. Crafted by former House Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Jane Harman (D-CA), the legislation would create a domestic commission, a university-based “Center of Excellence” that would study and then, target domestic “radicalization” as a “threat” to the “homeland.” David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University who studies state surveillance and the harassment of dissident scholars, told Jessica Lee of New York’s Indypendent newspaper last year that Harman’s bill “is a shot over the bow of environmental activists, animal-rights activists, anti-globalization activists and scholars who are working in the Middle East who have views that go against the administration.” Evoking disquieting memories of political witchhunters ensconced in the House Committee on Un-American Activities and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, the anti-radicalization commission would be empowered to “hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties.” With the power to subpoena and compel testimony from anyone, the commission would create the (intended) impression that a person forced to publicly testify before a congressionally mandated star chamber must be involved in “subversive” or illegal activities. According to Naomi Spencer, The commission would be composed of appointees, one chosen each respectively by Bush, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, the Senate and House majority and minority leaders, and by the ranking majority and minority members of the two congressional homeland security committees. Such a selection process would certainly result in an extremely right-wing panel.1 When one considers that elite consensus favoring “muscular” strategies for fighting “terror”–homegrown or otherwise–emerge during a period when the Bush regime has illegally wiretapped phone calls, sifted e-mails, spied on political and religious organizations, and conducted extensive data mining of financial and other personal records, it becomes clear that the corporate police state is shifting into high-gear in a desperate move to criminalize ideological “thought crimes.” The intent of the proposed legislation, however, goes far beyond an academic exercise. According to Jessica Lee, Harman stated that “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.” In the context of the post-Constitutional “New Normal” paradigm, Harman and her acolytes evoke images of Philip K. Dick’s Department of Precrime in his dystopian novella, The Minority Report. Only here, in the bizarro world of outsourced “homeland security,” mutant precogs are replaced by high-end–and taxpayer funded–data-miners, psychological profilers and social network analysts in the employ of dodgy security firms linked to America’s military-intelligence complex. The legislation specifically singles out the Internet as a “weapon” for domestic radicalization. When she introduced her bill to the Senate last November, Harman remarked, “There can be no doubt: the Internet is increasingly being used as a tool to reach and radicalize Americans and legal residents.” Equating America’s web-surfacing habits with the threat of ideological infection by Islamist pod-people, Harman avers that the Internet allows Americans “to become indoctrinated by extremists and to learn how to kill their neighbors … from the comfort of their own living rooms.” (Britney, Paris, better move over… there’s a new truck-bombing instructional posted over on YouTube! OMG!) Harman’s ludicrous pronouncement is considerably ramped-up by the Lieberman and Collins report, based on–what else– “expert testimony” during hearings held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Lieberman and Collins claim that, …the report assesses the federal government’s response to the spread of the violent Islamist message on the Internet and concludes that there is no cohesive and comprehensive outreach and communications strategy in place to confront this threat. The report does not discuss relevant classified tools and tactics employed by the law enforcement and intelligence communities, but does recognize that there is no plan to harness all possible resources including adopting new laws, encouraging and supporting law enforcement and the intelligence community at the local, state, and federal levels, and more aggressively implementing an outreach and counter-messaging campaign on the Internet and elsewhere. In other words, “independent” Democrat Lieberman and “maverick Republican” Collins are proposing new “tools” for regulating the Internet through a counter-propaganda campaign that would create “message force multipliers” that “support law enforcement” initiatives to crush the radical “threat.” By targeting the Internet, House and Senate thought police claim that “the Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.” But as the American Civil Liberties Union wrote last week, Experience has demonstrated that in the event of a terrorist attack, the results of this report will likely be used to recommend the use of racial, ethnic and religious profiling. This will only heighten, rather than decrease, the spread of extremist violence. As an organization dedicated to the principles of freedom of speech, we cannot in good conscience support this report or any measure that might lead to censorship and persecution based solely on one’s personal beliefs. The ACLU is concerned that identifying the Internet as a tool for terrorists will lead to censorship and regulated speech — especially since the Internet has become an essential communications and research tool for everyone. Indeed, some policy makers have advocated shutting down objectionable websites in violation of the First Amendment. It is an unworkable solution.2 Precisely. But wait, there’s more! Citing the New York City Police Department (NYPD) as “experts” in the area of “homegrown radicalism,” the report avers: After more than two years of research into homegrown terrorism cases in the United States and around the world, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) developed a model to explain how this core enlistment message, and the “jihadi-Salafi” ideology that provides the foundation for that message, drive the domestic radicalization process — transforming “unremarkable people” into terrorists. Perhaps Lieberman and Collins should have consulted the family of Sean Bell as to the NYPD’s “expertise” on analogous crime “modeling.” Murdered by trigger-happy cops after a bachelor party the morning of his wedding, Bell’s life was snuffed-out after he and his friends were shot some 50 times. The cops–surprise!–were recently found “not guilty” on all counts by a New York judge. We can dismiss senatorial allusions to NYPD’s acumen in the area of “counterterrorist analysis” with the contempt it deserves. But let’s be clear on one thing: the sole purpose of the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” is to target the American people’s constitutionally-protected right to say No. If the U.S. House and Senate care to examine the “root causes” of terrorism today, they need look no further than the on-going U.S. slaughter in Iraq–a “preemptive” war of choice to which they infamously gave their consent with eyes wide open. US House passes Democrat-crafted ‘homegrown terrorism prevention’ legislation,” World Socialist Web Site, 1 December 2007. # American Civil Liberties Union, “ACLU Skeptical of Senate Report on ‘Homegrown’ Terrorism,” Press Release, May 8, 2008. # Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.

George Monbiot interview with Amy Goodman today...

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, escaped a citizen’s arrest Wednesday night as he addressed an audience gathered at the Hay Festival in Wales. Security guards blocked the path of columnist and activist George Monbiot, who tried to make the arrest as Bolton left the stage. Monbiot planned the action, because he says Bolton is a war criminal for his role in helping to initiate the invasion of Iraq in 2003 while he served as US undersecretary of state for arms control.

George Monbiot joins us now on the phone from England. He is a widely read columnist for the Guardian of London and the author of numerous books. His latest is Bring On the Apocalypse: Collected Writing. Actually, he joins us now from Wales.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, George Monbiot.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Thanks very much, Amy. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us exactly what happened.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, I made my intention clear to perform a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton. I wrote a charge sheet detailing exactly the role that he had played in launching a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, which is a clear violation of the Nuremberg Principles. And I took a dossier of evidence down to the local police station. I asked them to act on it. But when they failed to arrest Mr. Bolton, I tried to arrest him myself, and I tried to get up onto the stage as he was leaving it. And I called out, “John Robert Bolton, I am arresting you for the charge of aggression, the crime of aggression, as defined by the Nuremberg Principles.” But I was caught by two very large security guards and pulled out of the venue very quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: How does a citizen’s arrest work?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, under an act of Parliament here, the Serious Organised [Crime and Police] Act, a citizen has the right to arrest anyone that they suspect to be guilty of a crime who would otherwise get away from the scene or escape without being arrested, and to hand that person over to the police. Now, there is a proviso which says that if—you can only act in this way if the police are unable to act to arrest this person. In this particular case, the police were able to act and had chosen not to do so. So, had I succeeded in arresting Mr. Bolton, I would have put myself on the wrong side of the law.

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton has also been criticized for calling for US strikes on Iran. Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article, based solely on unnamed sources, suggesting the Lebanese group Hezbollah is training Iraqi militants inside Iran. Hours after the article was published, this is what John Bolton had to say on Fox News.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response, George Monbiot?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Yes. Well, John Bolton has the position that any and every country of which he disapproves should be attacked, and then we work out the justification for that attack later. He was one of the signatories of the letter sent by the Project for a New American Century to Bill Clinton in 1998, saying that we should attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. And he had one justification then, he had a different justification in 2003, he has a different justification today. It’s very clear that with Bolton, as with Bush, as with Cheney, as with Rumsfeld, the urge to go to war came first, and the justification came second.

Now, when you look at the main instruments of international law, you see very clearly that waging a preemptive war where you are not in an immediate crisis of self-defense is a crime against international law. In fact, the Nuremberg tribunals described it as the supreme international crime. And it was for that crime that most of the Nazi war criminals were convicted. And that is exactly the crime that Bolton has conspired in committing.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what happened to Jose Bustani?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, Jose Bustani is a Brazilian diplomat who was head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And in 2002, Bustani offered a way out of the impasse between Iraq in the United States. He said, OK, Saddam Hussein won’t allow the UNMOVIC inspectors in, primarily because UNSCOM turned out to have been infiltrated by the CIA, and so the successor organization UNMOVIC was viewed with intense suspicion in Iraq. Bustani said, “I can solve this problem for you by bringing Saddam Hussein into the Chemical Weapons Convention and then launching inspections of my own in Iraq, and therefore we could have a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

Immediately, the United States swung into action against him—the delegation led by John Bolton—and demanded his dismissal as director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, failed at first and then threatened to withhold all its dues and to destroy the organization altogether, whereupon the other nations, led by the United Kingdom, went along with the US delegation and agreed to sack Bustani.

Bustani later took his case to an international labor organization tribunal and was completely exonerated of all the complaints which the US had leveled against him. And the only one which seemed to remain was that he had tried to prevent war from being waged with Iraq. And so, far from seeking a negotiated settlement to the issue of the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, John Bolton ensured that anyone—Bustani’s attempt to ensure there was a negotiated settlement was, in Bolton’s word, “tanked.”

AMY GOODMAN: So, George Monbiot, where you go from here? You didn’t—were not able to arrest John Bolton in Wales. Did he know what you were attempting to do?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Yes, he does. And he’s actually made a public statement concerning it. I would urge anyone who is in a position to do so to try to exercise a citizen’s arrest of any of the primary authors of the Iraq War. And I’m talking about Bush—that makes it very, very difficult, but it’s—there’s a higher chance obviously when he ceases to be president—Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Bolton, and over here in the United Kingdom, Tony Blair and some of his cabinet ministers. And I certainly intend to try to carry out a citizen’s arrest of either Blair or one of the other senior architects of the war here in the United Kingdom.

And what I found from this instance was that even if you don’t succeed in carrying out the citizen’s arrest, you are able to focus a great deal of attention on the issue and to ensure that people do not forget. This is not an ordinary political mistake which was committed in Iraq. This was the supreme international crime, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Those people were not killed in the ordinary sense; they were murdered. And they were murdered by the authors of that war, who are the greatest mass murderers of the twenty-first century so far.

AMY GOODMAN: George Monbiot, I want to thank you very much for being with us, a columnist for the Guardian of London. His latest book is called Bring On the Apocalypse: Collected Writing.

Third parties vie for 2008 glory

by Travis Schulze As the Democratic race draws to a close, you might, like myself, be left feeling underwhelmed with your two choices for the next leader of our country. You should know they are not our only choices. Here are some other candidates for president of the United States. The Constitution Party will be represented in 2008 by Dr. Chuck Baldwin. His campaign centers on a return to the Constitution. He calls for an immediate withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq, all foreign military bases, the U.N., NATO and most international organizations. He wants extremely strict immigration laws, an end to trade with China and the elimination of the income tax, without a move to a consumption tax. The Libertarian Party chose former Republican Rep. Bob Barr as its candidate for president. Barr also calls for more strict interpretation of the Constitution and supports "America First" policy similar to Baldwin, except he focuses much more on the degradation of civil liberties. Frank McEnulty will represent the New American Independent Party in November. McEnulty, unlike most other third party candidates is not a candidate of extremes, but instead represents a moderate viewpoint on each issue, somewhere between the positions of the Republican and Democratic parties. He also calls for election reform. There are three socialist candidates this year. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will be represented by Gloria La Riva, the Socialist Party USA's candidate is Brian Moore and the Socialist Workers Party's nominee is Roger Colero. Although these three groups differ on how revolutionary change should come about, their candidates are running on similar platforms. They all call for an end to the Iraq War, while supporting strict environmental laws, freer immigration laws, reparations for slavery and full employment with a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The Green Party has not yet picked a candidate. Green Party candidates of the past have presented a "eco-social analysis and vision" for the U.S. The Green platform includes calls for a more sustainable economy, more environmental laws, higher federal budgets, demilitarization, social justice and gender equity. Greens also support the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The most famous of the third party candidates is most certainly Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent this year. He generally follows Green Party platform and among his "12 political issues that matter" he includes calls for the adoption of a single payer national health insurance, a cut of the military budget, a reversal of U.S. policy in the Middle Eastand an end to corporate personhood. The goal of Gene Amondson, the Prohibition Party's pick for president, is exactly what you think: a return to the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. He supports the Iraq War and calls for stricter marriage and divorce laws, more religion in schools, less public welfare and stricter immigration laws. Lastly, the National Socialist Party (Nazi) has a candidate in John Taylor Bowles. Billing himself as the "white people's candidate" he calls for an end to immigration, foreclosures and the outsourcing of American jobs. He supports free national health care and more environmental protection laws. Vote well.


“You form the fabric of your experience through your own beliefs and expectations. These personal ideas about yourself and the nature of reality will affect your thoughts and emotions. You take your beliefs about reality as truth, and often do not question them. They seem self-explanatory. They appear in your minds as statements of fact, far too obvious for examination.

Therefore they are accepted without question too often. They are not recognized as beliefs ABOUT reality, but instead considered characteristics of reality itself. Frequently such ideas appear indisputable, so a part of you that it does not occur to you to speculate about their validity. They become invisible assumptions, but they nevertheless color and form your personal experience.” - The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 16-17

full article:

Disturbing 2008 Global Peace Index Report - by Stephen Lendman

The Global Peace Index (GPI) was launched in May 2007 and claims to be the first study of its kind ranking nations according to their peacefulness. Last year's report covered 121 countries. The latest increased it to 140. Australian entrepreneur Steve Killelea conceived the idea and won some dubious endorsements. Among them, the Dalai Lama. He served as a CIA asset from the late 1950s until 1974 and may again be in tow if the Bush administration's awarding him a Congressional Gold Medal last year and closeness to him now is an indication. Other endorsers include Jordan's Queen Noor; another member of her royal family; four members of the British House of Lords; Ted Turner; Virgin Group's Richard Branson; other business and community leaders; Australia's former Prime Minister JM Fraser; other former high-ranking government officials; academics; a former BBC war correspondent and MP; plus six Nobel Laureates, including Jimmy Carter. In fairness, a few distinguished names join them, including Helen Caldicott and economics professor James Galbraith. These organizations prepare GPI's report - The Economist Intelligence Unit, an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks, and the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Their stated purpose is to "highlight the relationship between Global Peace and Sustainability (stressing that) unless we can achieve" a peaceful world, humanity's major challenges won't be solved. No argument there, but does GPI's statement belie its real interest? GPI uses 24 indicators to rank nations according to their relative internal and external peacefulness. They include their: -- military expenditures as a percent of GDP and number of armed service personnel per 100,000 population; -- relations with other countries; -- respect for human rights; -- potential for terrorist acts; -- number of homicides per 100,000 population, including infanticide; -- level of violent crime; -- aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000 population and ease of access to small arms and light weapons; -- number of jailed population per 100,000 population; and -- number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population. Conspicuously absent is a measure of outside influence causing internal violence, instability and/or disruption. Venezuela ranked an implausible 123rd behind America at 97th. Something is amiss, and the above rating raises suspicions that angered Venezuelan National Assemblyman Jose Albornos. He stated: "Sometimes things tip over into irrationality just like they're doing just now....(it's) part of a plan....there are sectors who decide that they want to get rid of Chavez, who have seen that they cannot (do it by) coup d'etat and are trying to penalize the whole country in a campaign of attrition." He then added that the 2008 GPI "doesn't correspond with the truth," and plenty of evidence backs him. It's examined below. By GPI's criteria, scoring Venezuela high and America lowest should be no-brainers. The US hands down is the world's most violent nation and primary reason for Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel's bottom rankings. The same holds for Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Colombia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, the Philippines and a host of other nations. By comparison, Venezuela is placid and tranquil but GPI's criteria don't show it. It certainly ranks above Rwanda, Albania, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, China, Jordan, and other countries outscoring it. Why not is the question? Think politics for an answer in spite of America's low ranking and Israel near the bottom. It's not low enough. It should be last hands down. The US alone endangers global stability, world peace and the planet's survival. It alone wages permanent war, targets peaceful nations, and claims a unilateral right to use first strike nuclear weapons preemptively. It also has over 800 military bases (perhaps 1000 or more with secret ones) in 130 or more countries, hundreds more at home, and still more troops deployed in other countries throughout the world. It further spends more on its military than all other nations combined. It uses it aggressively, supports Israeli repression against Palestinians, assassinates foreign leaders, installs more "friendly" ones, and backs despots like Colombia's Uribe, Egypt's Mubarak, the Saudi royal family, Mexico's Calderon, and various installed stooges like Afghanistan's Karzai and Iraq's al-Maliki. America ranks lowest on peace. It keeps sinking lower. It alone threatens planetary survival. Failure to register that in a "peace index" is unimaginable. It makes the entire project suspect. Under Chavez in contrast, Venezuela's record is envious. It embraces its neighbors, offers no-strings aid, and engages in mutually beneficial trade, political relations, and other alliances; it also: -- assassinates no other leaders; -- doesn't seek regime changes abroad; -- has no nuclear weapons and seeks none; and -- spends less than one-half of one percent of the Pentagon's (grossly understated) military budget (around $1 to $2 billion) and less half of that, in fact, of America's total defense spending - in FY 2008: a conservatively estimated $1.1 trillion with all military, homeland security, veterans, NASA, debt service and miscellaneous related allocations included; according to Chalmers Johnson, it's not only "morally obscene," it's "fiscally unsustainable" and is heading the nation for probable "insolvency and (the world for) a long depression," or potentially worse. -- In addition, Venezuela doesn't export weapons to neighbors or incite conflict; in contrast, America is the world's leading arms and munitions supplier by far - and to many belligerent states with disturbing records of using them internally and/or against neighbors; Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Israel to cite five; -- Chavez is socially responsible at home; -- doesn't practice torture; -- has no secret prisons; -- threatens no other nation; -- wages no wars; -- is a model democracy; -- governs peacefully; -- supports human rights and social justice; -- affirms free speech; -- bans discrimination; and -- uses his resources responsibly - for his people, yet is friendly to business as well. He's earned world class stature and immense popularity at home as a result. Under George Bush in contrast, America is feared and hated worldwide. Growing numbers don't trust him at home either, and it shows in his poll ratings - some of the lowest ever for a US president with vice-president Cheney and Congress scraping rock bottom. A stunning (but long known) fact came out as well. It's in a US Justice Department Inspector General's 370 page report. It revealed that the FBI opened a "War Crimes" file documenting witnessed systemic Guantanamo Bay torture. It's so inflammatory that the administration suppressed it. It asserts that orders came from the top, including the White House, Pentagon, DOJ and NSC. It implies but doesn't state that this practice goes on in all US military prisons plus ones outsourced to in rogue states for some of the most barbaric treatment anywhere - and mostly to innocent victims. Some GPI-Reported Comparisons - America v. Venezuela Prisons everywhere are harsh, and Venezuela's are no exception. But consider America. It has the largest prison population in the world by far at 2.3 million, greater than in China with four times the population. It also adds over a 1000 new prisoners a week. It's justifiably called a gulag, so imagine what goes on offshore. No remediating efforts are planned. Reforms are off the table. America's prison-industrial complex is burgeoning. Prisons are being privatized. Profiting on human beings is big business, and consider who they are. Most are black, hispanic, poor, unempowered, nonviolent, and imprisoned for offenses like drugs possession. In contrast, Venezuela is humanizing its prisons. It's no simple task, and no miracle cures are expected. Nonetheless, positive steps are being taken for a prison population numbering 20,000 that's down from its 1992 31,400 high. The National Assembly is "committed to giv(ing) priority to (revising) the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code." It's to make it more just and improve prison conditions in health care, food, access to education and more. Reducing incarceration lengths is also planned as well as tackling root causes of crime such as poverty and lack of opportunity. Doing this in America is impossible. Things keep worsening. The nation is uncaring. It shows across the board. That highlights the problem, but GPI didn't notice. Number of homicides per 100,000 population is another category. GPI ranks America low (in number) and Venezuela high. It's unjustified. From it's beginning, America has been violent at home and abroad. It's been at war with one or more adversaries every year in its history without exception. It's called a "gun" and "rape culture" and has the highest homicide rate among all western nations. Violence is endemic, pacifism sinful, legal and illegal drug use out of control, young children introduced to violence through films, television and video games that should be outlawed. They're exported everywhere to make all societies like America. Venezuela is no exception but nowhere near to matching the US. Implausibly, America also scores well on the following: -- its number of internal security officers and police; it refers to "civil police" only; omitted are National Guard forces, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA,16 spy agencies, drug enforcement, and since October 2002 the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) that preempts Posse Comitatus limitations that no longer apply; no nation on earth has more internal (or external) security, spends more for it, and no country uses it more aggressively; -- ease of access to "weapons of minor destruction;" Venezuela ranks below America; impossible as guns in the US are as accessible as chewing gum even in cities where they're banned; the Second Amendment (on right to bear arms) practically equates it with religion even though the law's original intent bears no relation to its current interpretation that's promoted by the gun lobby; -- "likelihood of violent demonstrations;" Venezuela scores high; unconsidered is why any take place and who's behind them - America, not Venezuelans except for those recruited and well-paid to cause trouble to destabilize an otherwise peaceful country; -- violent crime; Venezuela scores high again and America low; wrong as violence in the US is endemic; GPI understates it; -- political instability; Venezuela scores moderately high; again no mention why there's any or who instigates it; -- human rights; America and Venezuela get equal scores; preposterous again and insulting to Venezuelans; America's disdain for human rights is unmatched; Venezuela's is excellent by comparison; the Constitution mandates it; GPI ignores it; -- political democracy; America outranking Venezuela is impossible; the US's democracy is illusory; in Venezuela it's real and should be highest rated relative to other countries; -- the electoral process; America besting Venezuela is false and insulting; Venezuela has a model participatory democracy; all Venezuelans are enfranchised; the Constitution's Article 56 mandates it; it affirms that "All persons have the right to be registered free of charge....after birth, and to obtain public documents" so stating; -- US elections, in contrast, are deeply corrupted; big money runs them; candidates are pre-selected; machines do our voting; no recounts are possible; losers are declared winners; independent candidates are shut out; the media ignore them; they keep people uninformed; issues aren't addressed; just "horserace" theater ad nauseam; voter disenfranchisement is rife; election theft common; mountains of evidence document it; none reported in the mainstream; it's why half or more of the electorate opts out; it mocks democracy in a nation having little; it's exemplary in Venezuela; not according to GPI; -- "functioning of government" defined to mean freely electing representatives and effective checks and balances; the US wins again completely belying the facts; America's democratic governance is a sham; Venezuela's is real; GPI has things backwards; -- civil liberties; America on top here, too; it's outrageous in a growing police state climate; post-9/11 repressive laws, executive and military orders, directives and other measures are in force that would make any despot proud; presidential authority is unchallenged; Congress is mere rubber-stamp; Homeland Security is a national Gestapo; FBI and CIA also; internal spying is pervasive; dissent stifled; human rights disdained; and the rule of law is now consigned to the dustbin of history; Venezuelan society is mirror opposite; GPI failed to notice; -- "corruption perceptions;" America scores high and Venezuela low, and indeed there is a problem; yet it's minor compared to the US's all-pervasive kind - in government, business and throughout high levels in society; it involves trillions of dollars; again it didn't register; -- Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is the source for GPI's comparative "freedom of the press" assessment; RWB no longer publishes an index with assigned country rankings; instead it rates them: No. 1 good, No. 2 satisfactory, No. 3 noticeable problems, No. 4 difficult situation, and No. 5 very noticeable problems; -- RSW's reputation is tainted; it lacks credibility; it disgraced itself last year by baselessly criticizing Chavez's justifiable decision not to renew RCTV's VHF license and accusing him of violating free speech and press standards; not surprisingly, it showed in its 2007 survey with rankings still used; it rated America somewhat low at 48th but Venezuela far lower at 114th - below Chad, Morocco, Uganda, Indonesia, Albania, Congo, Liberia, Kuwait, the Central African Republic and numerous other questionable higher-ranked choices; in 2008, Venezuela jumped considerably; GPI scored it 36.9 (an apparent 37th in the world); the US fared much better at 14.5; tops were Iceland and Norway at 0.8; -- GPI and RSW should be embarrassed; consider the facts; no country outranks Venezuela in press freedom; outlandish dissent is tolerated; censorship banned, and the law affirms it; RCTV lost its VHF license for backing insurrection against the government; its officials avoided prison for their lawlessness; they were merely slapped on the wrist instead; -- America is mirror opposite; RCTV type broadcasting would be illegal, an act of sedition or treason; those responsible would be prosecuted; but it's not how major media operate in the US; they "filter" news; one-sidedly support a state and corporate agenda; shut out opposition to it; keep the electorate uninformed by operating no differently than a state-controlled ministry of information and propaganda; RSW approves; so does GPI; Its data is suspect throughout. Adult literacy (unrelated to violence) is another example. It scores America at 99%. It's laughable. Even the US Department of Education estimates it at 80% tops, and their number way overstates it. It's far lower based on inner-city math and English test scores plus painfully low computer literacy levels. Other Questionable Rankings GPI isn't alone in targeting Venezuela. Transparency International (TI) does as well. It calls itself "politically non-partisan" and a "global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption (with a) create change toward a world free of corruption." Consider its 2007 "Corruption Perceptions Index." To achieve its aim, it better tighten its standards that fall far short of "transparency." America easily outscores other nations in corruption. It's broad, deep and extends throughout government, business, and high levels of society in the trillions of dollars. But it's not how TI sees it. It ranks the US No. 20, just behind France and ahead of Chile. In contrast, Venezuela scrapes bottom at 162nd - behind Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kazakhstan, Congo, Pakistan and dozens of other dubious choices. Venezuela (like all countries) has corruption problems. But nowhere to the degree TI suggests. Its April 2008 report is rife with errors and why not. According to Calvin Tucker in a May 22 article, it was prepared by "an anti-Chavez activist who backed the 2002 military coup against democracy." His full account can be accessed by the following link: The Fraser Institute is a right wing, business-backed, Canadian-based think tank. It prepares an annual Economic Freedom of the World Index that has nothing to do with freedom. It's not kind to Venezuela and sidesteps facts in its assessment. Following the country's 2002-03 oil management lockout, growth has been impressive and remains so. Business has profited hugely. All economic measures are strong and improving except for inflation. It remains stubbornly high, but efforts are being made to curb it. Nonetheless, Fraser reports with blinders. It ranked Venezuela practically at the bottom - 126th out of 130 nations, only besting Congo, Zimbabwe and two other countries. It's the sixth consecutive bottom-scraping rating and mirror opposite those for pre-Chavez years. Since then, Venezuela prospered. Chavez is friendly to business. Fraser turns a blind eye. It's part of a corporate-led conspiracy to crush democracy and reempower capital. It raises questions on whether GPI, RWB, TI, Fraser and others are part of a larger scheme. Iran is America's top target. Venezuela is next. Both countries are nominated for regime change. Continued efforts work toward it. It's no secret why. Each is oil rich, their leaders independent, and they refuse to be US clients. For Washington, that's sinful and unforgivable. The media are on board. They relentlessly bash both countries and report fiction as fact. Destabilization efforts continue. Anything may erupt anytime. GPI and the others may be helping. Their low Venezuelan rankings are suspect. Washington may be behind them. Corporate backers as well. They get what they pay for. In this case, vilifying Chavez. GPI's facts are bogus. So are RWB's, TI's and Fraser's. It discredits their Venezuela v. America's rankings. Their entire reports as well. View them with caution. Understand what's likely going on. Part of a greater scheme to destabilize Venezuela and end its model democracy. Exposing them is the best way to prevent it. Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour Mondays on Republic from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Colombia: Uribe, Extradition, and the Fight for Justice

Speculation on the motivations behind Uribe’s undermining his own Ley de Justicia y Paz Recommendations for the defense of Colombian victims of injustice

Controversial Extradition

On Tuesday, May 13, President Uribe approved the extradition of 14 Colombians to the United States who face drug trafficking charges. While the Uribe administration has overseen the transfer of more defendants to the US than any other president in Colombia’s history, the most recent series of handovers is perhaps the most controversial. Among the group are some of the highest ranking leaders of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a brutal rightist paramilitary force which has been a principal actor in the country’s long running civil conflict as well as the perpetrator of some of the war’s major massacres and other human rights abuses. According to Uribe, the extradition of the AUC senior leaders was necessary because of the repeated failure to cooperate with Colombian investigators in sharing information about their crimes and a lack of willingness to surrender their illegally attained assets. Uribe also cited the continued participation of the former paramilitary leaders in illegal activities, such as narcotrafficking, even after they submitted to being detained.

Despite these justifications, many observers question Uribe’s decision to forego the judicial mechanisms previously established by the passage of Law 925, also known as La Ley de Justicia y Paz. A crucial part of the demobilization process which has resulted in the reintegration of thousands of former combatants into civil society, the law was intended to encourage the country’s reconciliation process. It mandates that participants in Colombia’s civil conflict may confess their crimes and make only token reparations to victims or their families in exchange for a maximum sentence of 8 years. If the accused does not confess or make reparations, they are to be turned over to the Colombian judicial system to be tried, with the important distinction that any convictions made would lack maximum sentencing limits. Like Uribe, the United States seems very much in favor of the reversal of direction of a law that both enthusiastically supported upon its passage in 2005.

The motivation behind the latest round of extraditions is questionable. Some see them as an attempt by Uribe to distance himself from the paramilitaries in the wake of almost daily allegations of embarrassingly close ties that his administration has had to high AUC comandantes. In an interview with the Inter Press Service, the vice president of the liberal José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective commented that, “this move confirms what we have said from the start: that a Congress with a strong paramilitary presence legislated on its own behalf.” Those who hold this opinion contend that the real propellant behind Uribe’s rush to extradite these notorious figures comes not so much from a desire to see justice done, but quite the opposite. They see the extraditions as helping to deter the emergence of any new information about the intimate bonds that have existed between Uribe, his legislative supporters, and the AUC, effectively halting progress in the investigation of the parapolitico scandal in which some 60 legislators are currently embroiled.

Further complicating the matter is the issue of the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the US and Colombia which is currently stalled in the US Congress. Democratic Party leaders have repeatedly refused to move forward on the legislation amidst concerns that the Uribe administration has not done enough to address human rights abuses committed in his country. US spokesperson Dana Perino, aggressively pedaling the White House line, said in a press conference that Bush hopes the Democrats will see the extraditions as “yet another sign” that the Colombian president is, in fact, serious about punishing perpetrators of such crimes. Uribe, today the closest US ally in the region, and a strong proponent and beneficiary of the FTA, may also be using the extraditions to send such a signal.

A Call for Justice

Whatever the motivation behind the extraditions, one thing remains clear: investigations into the self-confessed crimes against humanity committed by men like Salvatore Mancuso, formerly the second highest ranking AUC official, must continue. Truth and reconciliation processes are integral components of successful conflict resolution. Acknowledgement of, and punishment for, crimes such as mass killings, torture, and forced displacement, attributable to the AUC, will facilitate the establishment of a sustainable peace.

There is no question that the thousands of victims of AUC excesses require the application of justice, but it may be impossible to achieve it while continually ridding the country of those who could compromise the government’s interests in the process. If Uribe truly desires to bring an end to the conflict in Colombia, he must be as aggressive against irregular armed groups in his country’s courts as has been in his speeches, even if this means making modest concessions to those who cooperate with the investigation of crimes as stipulated by Ley 925. In the case of the 14 men already extradited to the United States, all those involved in this country’s criminal justice system, including US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, must ensure that adequate justice will be served with respect to past human rights abuses committed in Colombia. Sources have reported that a stipulation in the extradition agreement between the two countries will allow Colombian prosecutors access to defendants so that the investigation of abuses committed throughout the nineties and beyond will continue to be sought. This agreement must be upheld and such clauses vigorously pursued.

Additionally, the possibility of prosecution of those extradited to this country under the US Alien Tort Claim Statute (ATCS) should be explored. This legislation, passed as a part of the original Judiciary Act of 1789, has become an increasingly relevant vehicle for the defense of international human rights. It establishes jurisdiction of US courts over, “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Although COHA was deeply involved in the case, it was the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a highly regarded nonprofit legal organization located in New York City, which used the ATCS in 1979 to form the basis for their case against Américo Norberto Peña Irala, a Paraguayan police official accused of the murder of Joelito Filártiga. The CCR represented the Filártiga family in pursuit of damages sought for the 17 year old’s extrajudicial killing. In a landmark decision, the Second Circuit Court of New York ruled in favor of the Filártigas to the amount of $10.4 million dollars.

The successful use of the ATCS in the case of Filártiga v Irala Peña demonstrates that the statute and more recent and related legislation can be powerful tools to convict those accused of crimes against humanity such as torture, extrajudicial killings, and genocide. Following the post-Nuremburg philosophy that individuals, as well as states, may be found to be in violation of international law, the ATCS has been applied in several important human rights cases, and its possible applicability in the case of the Colombian paramilitary leaders should be thoroughly explored.

Members of the US government would well be vigilant in pursuing this matter. Just as Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) admirably spoke out in favor of investigating the human rights abuses of Salvadoran generals in 2007, members of the US congress should request that US Attorney General Michael Mukasey pay special attention not only to crimes associated with drug trafficking but also with human rights abuses committed by the 14 extradited Colombians. The current administration has a demonstrably weak record when it comes to the defense of international human rights; those on Capital Hill who choose to fight for Colombian victims may meet considerable opposition from the US public relations and law firms recently hired by the Colombian government. The Bush White House repeatedly has tried to push such matters under the rug in order to advance the prospects of successfully achieving a FTA with Colombia and to avoid the implications that prosecution of such abuses might have for US corporate interests and officials abroad.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs wishes to echo the sentiments of organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in asking that the crimes against humanity, of which the extradited paramilitary leaders have been accused, are not forgotten in the pursuit of convictions on narcotrafficking charges. The US has acknowledged the terror inflicted on the Colombian population by the AUC up to 2001 when it classified the illegally armed group as a terrorist organization. It was on that occasion that Colin Powell recognized in a speech that the illegally armed group was guilty of such abuses as: “the massacre of hundreds of civilians, the forced displacement of entire villages, and the kidnapping of political figures to force recognition of AUC demands.” The United States must remain mindful of this uncontested assessment of the terror inflicted by the AUC and take care to prevent its own partisan political interests and its backing of Uribe from subverting the achievement of justice which is so vital to the establishment of a sustainable peace in Colombia.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Jessica Bryant

Norman on DN this morning...

Israel Bars One of its Most Prominent Critics, Norman Finkelstein, for Ten Years

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published an editorial criticizing the Israeli government’s decision to ban American academic Norman Finkelstein from entering the country. Last Friday, Finkelstein was arrested at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv and questioned by the Shin Bet security service for several hours. It later became known that he had been banned from entering Israel for ten years for so-called “security reasons.”

Finkelstein is known as one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Haaretz editorial reads in part, “Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution… The right to enter Israel is not guaranteed to noncitizens, but the right of Israeli citizens to hear unusual views is one that should be fought for. It is not for the government to decide which views should be heard here and which ones should not. The decision to ban Finkelstein hurts us more than it hurts him.”

Norman Finkelstein joins me now in the firehouse studio. We’re also joined on the telephone from Hebron by Musa Abu Hashhash, Professor Finkelstein’s friend whom Norman had intended to visit. We called the Israeli embassy and the New York consulate to invite them on the program, but they declined our requests.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Norman.


JUAN GONZALEZ: So tell us, what happened when you arrived at the airport, and what did the Shin Bet ask you when they held you?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I presented my passport at customs. My number was entered into the computer, and they asked me to go to the waiting room. I was then questioned or interrogated—[inaudible] more questioned—by a fellow from maybe immigration, maybe security, I’m not sure. And he asked me a wide range of questions: why was I going? Who was I going to see? Eventually he asked me whether I had ever had contact with al-Qaeda, whether I was on a Hezbollah mission, and so forth. And then after several rounds of questioning, I was told that I would be—I would not be allowed in. I asked how long would that ban last, and he said at least ten years. But then I was taken to a holding cell at the airport where I was kept until about eighteen hours, and then I was sent on a KLM airline back to Amsterdam.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the reason for holding you for eighteen hours?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The next flight out. The rule is they send you back on the plane you came in or the airline you came in, and the next flight out on KLM was the next morning.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, you’ve traveled back and forth to Israel many times. Why do you think this has happened now?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I really don’t know what happened this time. I’ve been there about fifteen times, not to split semantical hairs, but I’ve never really spent time in Israel. I’ve traveled to the Occupied Territories, and I have to pass through Israeli customs. But my trips have been mostly, if not entirely, of a personal nature, to see a very close friend of mine in Hebron.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, we also have on the phone, Musa Abu Hashhash, who was the person you were going to visit?


JUAN GONZALEZ: Welcome to Democracy Now!


JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, welcome to Democracy Now! Could you tell us when you heard that your friend Norman had been held at the airport and what you learned?

MUSA ABU HASHHASH: [inaudible] I was shocked, you know. I didn’t expect Israel would, you know, come to this kind of decision, you know? Norman has been visiting us for fifteen times, and every time it was OK. He spent for night—ten days at our home, and we are friends. You know, I never, never thought it would happen. It was painful to us, to my family, to my children, to my wife. You know, all, we cried and did not understand now—’til now what happened. Why?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, you work with the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in the Hebron district. What do you do with them?

MUSA ABU HASHHASH: You know, I called my friends, I called our director of B’Tselem, and, you know, I asked my director to call the lawyer, you know, the lawyer. Also, I called my friend Gideon Levy, the Israeli reporter in Haaretz. And, you know, we wanted to do anything to stop this action, this stupid action.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Norman, has there been anything in particular—obviously you’ve been a vocal critic, a prominent critic, of the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories. Now, is there anything in particular in the last year or two that you’ve been publicly involved with that might prompt the Israelis to feel even more need to keep you from the country?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I guess there are two possibilities. One, I think I’m more effective than I have been in the past. I draw fairly large audiences. And I think Israel is now facing a major public relations challenge. They’re losing the moral ground. They’re losing. And that’s plain. And I can say, in my own small way, I’ve contributed to isolating Israel in public opinion.

And the second possibility is that I did spend some time in Lebanon in January, when I—where, among other things, I met with several leaders of Hezbollah, and that received fairly wide publicity, and that may have prompted the outrage or the decision.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And your reaction to the editorial in Haaretz blasting the government’s decision?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, obviously, I am grateful for that editorial, and I respect Haaretz for doing that. Actually, I think Haaretz displayed more consistency and more courage than many American newspapers and journals of the left did during my tenure battle. Being denied entry into Israel seemed to have evoked more outrage in Haaretz than me being denied tenure in the United States evoked outrage among mainstream and even left publications in the United States.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, they pointed out in the editorial that as a Jewish American, you have the right to immigrate to Israel, but now they are banning you from visiting.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, there is a question which I’ve been discussing with an Israeli lawyer, whether to exercise the option of using the law of return to go and then visit my friend, but that race is obviously principled issues of I don’t believe in the law of return in the first place, and so to take advantage or exploit the law, which I think is politically and morally unacceptable, for my own purposes. It’s unclear how I’ll proceed.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Alright. Well, I want to thank both of you for being with us, Norman Finkelstein, author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry: Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah, and also Musa Abu Hashhash, the field representative of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in the Hebron district.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

*'Floating around the devil's huge organ'*

Submitted by Fernando on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:24am. I'm going to speak in my "1984" voice. The Stoics defined the goal in life as living in agreement with nature. Humans, unlike all other animals, are constituted by nature to develop reason as adults, which transforms their understanding of themselves and their own true good. The Stoics held that virtue is the only real good and so is both necessary and, contrary to Aristotle, sufficient for happiness; it in no way depends on luck. The virtuous life is free of all passions, which are intrinsically disturbing and harmful to the soul, but includes appropriate emotive responses conditioned by rational understanding and the fulfillment of all one's personal, social, professional, and civic responsibilities.

Local Indigenous Leaders Beaten and Publicly Humiliated

Bolivia may have its first-ever indigenous president, but racism is alive and well in this country, as demonstrated by the public humiliation of a group of around 50 indigenous mayors, town councillors and community leaders in the south-central city of Sucre. The incident, which shook the country but received little attention from the international press, occurred on Saturday, when President Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian, was to appear in a public ceremony in Sucre to deliver 50 ambulances for rural communities and announce funding for municipal projects. But in the early hours of Saturday morning, organised groups opposed to Morales began to surround the stadium where he was to appear a few hours later. Confronting the police and soldiers with sticks, stones and dynamite, they managed to occupy the stadium. The president cancelled his visit, and the security forces were withdrawn, to avoid violent clashes and bloodshed. But violent elements of the Interinstitutional Committee, a conservative pro-autonomy, anti-Morales civic group that is backed by the local university and other bodies, continued to harass and beat supporters of the governing Movement to Socialism (MAS) and anyone who appeared to belong to one of the country’s indigenous communities. A mob of armed civilians from Sucre, partially made up of university students, then surrounded several dozen indigenous Morales supporters, including local authorities who had come from other regions to attend the ceremony and were unable to leave the city after the event was called off. The terrified indigenous people, who had sought refuge in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Sucre, were stripped of their few belongings, including money, identity documents and watches, and forced to walk seven kilometres to the House of Liberty, a symbol of the end of colonial rule in Bolivia, which was declared there on Aug. 6, 1825. In the city’s main square in front of the building, they were forced to kneel, shirtless, and apologise for coming to Sucre. They were also made to chant insults to Morales like "Die Evo!" They were surrounded by activists from the conservative pro-autonomy movement, who set fire to the blue, black and white MAS party flag, the multicolour flag of the Aymara people, and colourful hand-woven indigenous ponchos seized from the visiting Morales supporters, as a signal of their "victory" over the president’s grassroots support bases. Sucre Mayor Aideé Nava and the Interinstitutional Committee immediately apologised after the incident. On Tuesday, Morales called on local and provincial officials in Sucre to bring those responsible for the racist incidents to justice. Indigenous people in Bolivia have long suffered discrimination. They were not even allowed to vote until 1952, when the government of the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) abolished "pongaje", a system of serfdom and forced labour under which native people in rural areas lived in semi-slavery conditions. Bolivia, South America’s poorest country, is basically divided between the western highlands, home to the poor indigenous majority, and the much wealthier eastern and southeastern provinces, which account for most of the country's natural gas production, industry, agribusiness and gross domestic product. The population of eastern Bolivia tends to be of more European (Spanish) and mixed-race than indigenous descent. The eastern Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s richest province, is at the vanguard of an autonomy movement that has caught on in six of the country’s nine regions. People in Santa Cruz voted in favour of regional autonomy in a May 4 referendum, and the eastern and southeastern provinces of Beni, Pando and Tarija will hold similar referendums in June. Analysts say that underlying the autonomy movement, which is spearheaded by the rightwing business and political elites who governed Bolivia for decades, is the question of control and use of resources like natural gas, farmland, iron ore, water and forests. The aim of the leftwing Morales administration is to distribute the revenues from the eastern provinces’ natural gas reserves and other sources of wealth more evenly, in order to improve the living conditions of the country’s indigenous people, most of whom live in appalling poverty. According to governing party representatives and an independent analyst who spoke to IPS, Saturday’s incident has encouraged the government’s supporters to redouble their efforts to bring about structural changes aimed at eradicating inequality and discrimination. "We are witnessing a backlash by the oligarchy," René Navarro, a MAS representative in the constituent assembly that is rewriting the Bolivian constitution, told IPS. Navarro, who is from the southwestern province of Potosí, predicted further incidents of violence against indigenous people by the right. Over the weekend, the main news in the print media was the cancellation of the president’s visit to Sucre. However, the beatings and public humiliation of Quechua Indians in the city were filmed and aired by a few TV stations, and the images drew indignant reactions. The right, nevertheless, is attempting in the media to portray Saturday’s violence in Sucre as part of a government-fomented campaign aimed at further polarising the country along regional lines by social and indigenous groups that support the MAS. But Navarro said that "Evo is indigenous and represents the country’s rural poor, and Saturday’s incidents are a blow to all citizens alike." He said that what the government should do is publicise what it has achieved over the last two and a half years. MAS lawmaker José Pimentel, a former leader of the country’s miners’ union, told IPS that it was urgently necessary to get the draft constitution approved in a referendum, with the support of the rural indigenous peasants in alliance with the urban poor. Independent analyst Franco Gamboa, a sociologist by training, agreed that the only option open to the government is to continue forging ahead with the new constitution, the vote on which is being delayed by the autonomy referendums as well as plans for a recall referendum for Morales, his vice president, and the country’s nine provincial governors. The aim of the new constitution, whose draft was approved by the MAS majority in the constituent assembly in a December vote that was boycotted by the rightwing opposition, is to create a unified but decentralised state that recognises Bolivia's cultural and ethnic diversity, while ensuring greater political participation and access to land and other resources by indigenous people. But Gamboa also said the government should accept the results of the autonomy referendums in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija. Juanita Ancieta, a leader of the Women’s Federation of the Trópico de Cochabamba, a coca-growing area, told IPS that "we are not going to allow them to divide Bolivia, and we are not going to sit back with our arms crossed, doing nothing." Pimentel stressed that "the fact that Morales was elected as the country’s first indigenous president is not sufficient to do away with a racist, neo-colonial state, which is why it is important to reform the constitution." Gamboa said the reaction of conservative groups in Sucre and the autonomy movements in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija reflect opposition to the greater political independence and expanded land rights that the new constitution would grant indigenous people, which would represent a challenge to the privileges enjoyed by the middle-class, landowning and business elites in power in the eastern provinces. The new constitution would recognise greater autonomy for the provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities, while the anti-Morales provinces only want decentralisation at the municipal and provincial levels. The events in Sucre confirm the need to destroy the "racist state," said Pimentel, who said a long struggle lies ahead to bring about changes among conservative sectors in terms of their attitudes and behaviour towards indigenous people. The legislator said a social pact for reforming the constitution might be one feasible goal in the long road ahead to building a country where all ethnic and racial groups receive the same respect.

Arresting John Bolton, by George Monbiot

On Wednesday 28th May 2008, I will attempt a citizen’s arrest of John Robert Bolton, former Under-Secretary of State, US State Department, for the crime of aggression, as established by customary international law and described by Nuremberg Principles VI and VII.

These state the following:

“Principle VI The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

. . .

“Principle VII

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.”

The evidence against him is as follows:

1. John Bolton orchestrated the sacking of the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Jose Bustani. Bustani had offered to resolve the dispute over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and therefore to avert armed conflict. He had offered to seek to persuade Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, which would mean that Iraq was then subject to weapons inspections by the OPCW. As the OPCW was not tainted by the CIA’s infiltration of UNSCOM, Bustani’s initiative had the potential to defuse the crisis over Saddam Hussein’s obstruction of UNMOVIC inspections.

Apparently in order to prevent the negotiated settlement that Bustani proposed, and as part of a common plan with other administration officials to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in violation of international treaties, Mr. Bolton acted as follows:

In March 2002 his office produced a ‘White Paper’ claiming that the OPCW was seeking an “inappropriate role” in Iraq.

On 20th March 2002 he met Bustani at the Hague to seek his resignation. Bustani refused to resign.

On 21st March 2002 he orchestrated a No-Confidence Motion calling for Bustani to resign as Director General, which was introduced by the United States delegation. The motion failed.

On 22nd April 2002 the US called a special session of the conference of the States Parties and the Conference adopted the decision to terminate the appointment of the Director General effective immediately. Bolton had suggested that the US would withhold its dues from OPCW. The motion to sack Bustani was carried. Bustani asserts that this ‘special session’ was illegal, in breach of his contract and gave illegitimate grounds for his dismissal, stating a ‘lack of confidence’ in his leadership, without specific examples, and ignoring the failed No-Confidence vote.

In his book Surrender is Not an Option, Mr. Bolton describes his role in Bustani’s sacking (pages 95-98) and states the following:

“I directed that we begin explaining to others that the US contribution to the OPCW might well be cut if Bustani remained”.

“I met with Bustani to tell him he should resign … If he left now, we would do our best to give him ‘a gracious and dignified exit’. Otherwise we intended to have him fired”.

“I stepped in to tank the protocol, and then to tank Bustani”.

Bolton appears, in other words, to accept primary responsibility for Bustani’s dismissal.

Bustani appealed against the decision through the International Labor Organization Tribunal. He was vindicated in his appeal and awarded his full salary and moral damages.

2. Mr. Bolton helped to promote the false claim, through a State Department Fact Sheet, that Saddam Hussein had been seeking to procure uranium from Niger, as part of a common plan to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in violation of international treaties.

The State Department Fact Sheet was released on the 19th December 2002 and was entitled ‘Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United States Security Council.’ Under the heading ‘Nuclear Weapons’ the fact sheet stated –

“The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?”

In a US Department of State press briefing on July 14th 2003 the spokesman Richard Boucher said “The accusation that turned out to be based on fraudulent evidence is that Niger sold uranium to Iraq.”

Bolton’s involvement in the use of fraudulent evidence is documented in Rep. Henry Waxman’s letter to Christopher Shays on the 1st March 2005. Waxman says “In April 2004, the State Department used the designation ‘sensitive but unclassified’ to conceal unclassified information about the role of John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, in the creation of a fact sheet distributed to the United Nations that falsely claimed that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.”

“Both State Department intelligence officials and CIA officials reported that they had rejected the claims as unreliable. As a result, it was unclear who within the State Department was involved in preparing the fact sheet.”

Waxman requested a chronology of how the Fact Sheet was developed. His letter states:

“This chronology described a meeting on December 18,2002, between Secretary Powell, Mr. Bolton, and Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs. According to this chronology, Mr. Boucher specifically asked Mr. Bolton ‘for help developing a response to Iraq’s Dec 7 Declaration to the United Nations Security Council that could be used with the press.’ According to the chronology, which is phrased in the present tense, Mr. Bolton ‘agrees and tasks the Bureau of Nonproliferation,’ a subordinate office that reports directly to Mr. Bolton, to conduct the work.

“This unclassified chronology also stated that on the next day, December 19, 2003, the Bureau of Nonproliferation “sends email with the fact sheet, ‘Fact Sheet Iraq Declaration.doc,’” to Mr. Bolton’s office (emphasis in original). A second e-mail was sent a few minutes later, and a third e-mail was sent about an hour after that. According to the chronology, each version ‘still includes Niger reference.’ Although Mr. Bolton may not have personally drafted the document, the chronology appears to indicate that he ordered its creation and received updates on its development.”

Both these actions were designed to assist in the planning of a war of aggression. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime.”

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and Captive State: the Corporate Takeover of Britain; as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper (UK). Read other articles by George, or visit George's website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Pharmacratic Inquisition

The Pharmacratic Inquisition DVD Official Online Version How deep does the rabbit hole go? Gnostic Media is proud to present the official online edition of The Pharmacratic Inquisition 2007. If you enjoyed “Zeitgeist - The Movie”, you will love this video; the creators of this video are listed as one of the sources for the Zeitgeist Movie. The Pharmacratic Inquisition 2007 is a video version of the book, “Astrotheology & Shamanism” by Jan Irvin & Andrew Rutajit. The painstakingly detailed and heavily footnoted research in the book comes to life in this video and is now available to you for FREE! For further research of the claims made in this video, please read AstroTheology & Shamanism - this book is available to order as a combo with the DVD. Thousands of years ago, in the pre monarchic era, sacred plants and other entheogenic substances where politically correct and highly respected for their ability to bring forth the divine, Yahweh, God, The Great Spirit, etc., by the many cultures who used them. Often the entire tribe or community would partake in the entheogenic rites and rituals. These rites were often used in initiation into adulthood, for healing, to help guide the community in the decision process, and to bring the direct religious experience to anyone seeking it. In the pre literate world, the knowledge of psychedelic sacraments, as well as fertility rites and astronomical knowledge surrounding the sun, stars, and zodiac, known as astrotheology, were anthropomorphized into a character or a deity; consequently, their stories and practices could easily be passed down for generations. Weather changes over millenniums caused environmental changes that altered the available foods and plant sacraments available in the local vicinity. If a tribe lost its shamanic El-der (El - God), all of the tribe's knowledge of their plant sacraments as well as astronomical knowledge would be lost. The Church’s inquisitions extracted this sacred knowledge from the local Shamans who were then exterminated…It is time to recognize the fact that this Pharmacratic Inquisition is still intact and destroy it.

United States of Insecurity - Interview with Noam Chomsky

... Sometimes it's argued that the universities should just be neutral, that they shouldn't take positions on anything. Well, there's merit in that, I would like to see that in some abstract universe, but in this universe what that position entails is conformity to the distribution of external power. So let me take a concrete case, aspects of which are still very much alive on my own campus. Let's take some distance so we can see things more clearly. Back in the 1960s, in my university, MIT, the political science department was carrying out studies with students and faculty on counterinsurgency in Vietnam. Okay, that reflected the distribution of power in the outside society. The US is involved in counterinsurgency in Vietnam: it's our patriotic duty to help. A free and independent university would have been carrying out studies on how poor peasants can resist the attack of a predatory superpower. Can you imagine how much support that would have gotten on campus? Well, okay, that's what neutrality turns into when it's carried out—when the ideal, which is a good ideal, is pursued unthinkingly. It ends up being conformity to power. ... Let's take a current case. Right now there's a lot of concern about nuclear weapons in Iran. Well, again, take my own campus, MIT. In the 1970s Iran was under the rule of a brutal tyrant who the United States and Britain had imposed by force in a military coup overthrowing the democratic government. So Iran was therefore an ally. Well, in the government, people like Henry Kissenger, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others, were calling for Iran to develop nuclear capacities and nuclear power and so on, which means a step short of nuclear weapons. And my own university, MIT, made an arrangement with the Shah of Iran, the dictator, to train Iranian nuclear engineers. It was the 1970s. There was enormous student protest about that. But very little faculty protest, in fact, the faculty approved it. And it was instituted. In fact, some of the people now running the Iranian nuclear programs are graduates of MIT. Well, is the university neutral in those respects? No, not really; it's conforming to power interests. In this case, to go back to an earlier part of our conversation, they did conform to short-term commitments to power and profit but with long-term consequences that were quite harmful to the very same people who instituted them. Henry Kissinger, who at least has the virtue of honesty, was asked by the Washington Post why he is now objecting to same Iranian programs that he was instrumental in instituting when he was in office back in the 70s. And he said, frankly, Well, they were an ally then. They needed nuclear power. And now they are an enemy so they don't need nuclear power. Okay, he's a complete cynic, but he's an honest one, fortunately. But should universities take that position? ...

Down, Wanton, Down!, by Robert Graves

Down, wanton, down! Have you no shame That at the whisper of Love's name, Or Beauty's, presto! up you raise Your angry head and stand at gaze? Poor bombard-captain, sworn to reach The ravelin and effect a breach-- Indifferent what you storm or why, So be that in the breach you die! Love may be blind, but Love at least Knows what is man and what mere beast; Or Beauty wayward, but requires More delicacy from her squires. Tell me, my witless, whose one boast Could be your staunchness at the post, When were you made a man of parts To think fine and profess the arts? Will many-gifted Beauty come Bowing to your bald rule of thumb, Or Love swear loyalty to your crown? Be gone, have done! Down, wanton, down!

Governing Leftist Parties Discuss 'Change of Era'

By Ana Artigas MONTEVIDEO Supporting leftwing parties in government, strengthening democracy, redirecting the state towards its role in redistributing resources and promoting Latin American integration were major points of agreement at the 14th Sao Paulo Forum, which took place in the Uruguayan capital. "We’re not just living through change, but a change of era, reflected in 13 Latin American countries," said Federico Gomensoro of Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (Broad Front), the party that hosted the Forum, which brings together leftwing political forces from Latin America and the Caribbean. Gomensoro was referring to the countries, like Uruguay, currently governed by leftist, centre-left or progressive parties or coalitions. The main challenge faced by these governments is to initiate projects to reverse the situations of injustice created by the neoliberal (free market) policies implemented in the 1980s and 1990s, he said. The final document adopted by the Forum on Sunday emphasises the new situation in the region, especially "globalisation for the benefit of big capital," as well as environmental degradation, the financial crisis, soaring oil prices and speculation leading to food shortages -- all of which require new initiatives from the left, it says. The political parties represented in the Sao Paulo Forum also expressed solidarity with the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which are embattled from within and without, and congratulated former bishop Fernando Lugo, who is soon to take office as president of Paraguay after six decades of rule by the rightwing Colorado Party. "The Latin American and Caribbean Left in the New Era: The Richness of Diversity" was the theme of the conference that brought together 844 delegates from 35 countries, including 74 leftwing groupings in the region as well as observers from Belgium, China, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Libya, Norway, Spain and Vietnam. The Forum was founded in Sao Paulo in 1990, at the invitation of the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) and its leader, now Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. At the closing ceremony of the Forum, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said he grieved the death of the founder and leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), "Manuel Marulanda", who died of a heart attack on Mar. 26, which was not confirmed by the leadership of the guerrilla group until Sunday. "I want to express my condolences and my solidarity to the FARC and to Comandante Marulanda’s family. He was an extraordinary fighter who battled for many long years in the longest uninterrupted armed struggle in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean," he said. "The struggle, which has its roots in the inequalities between the people of Colombia, is against the Northern power that also established itself here in the South, in Latin America, and we have fought against its global tyranny of capitalism," he said during his speech. Ortega added that "the empire (the United States) and capitalism are diseases preying on humanity, and we are their victims…Who can judge who are terrorists and who are not? We can: the ‘Yanquis’ are the terrorists." A large section of the Sao Paulo Forum’s final declaration was devoted to the civil war in Colombia, which "is the main risk factor threatening peace and stability in the region," it says. Therefore, a "humanitarian agreement" is necessary for an exchange of hostages held by the FARC for imprisoned guerrillas, which is "fundamental for a solution to the conflict," the document says. The final declaration also condemns the "attempt to privatise the oil industry in Mexico," and the Mar. 1 incursion into Ecuadorean territory when the Colombian military launched an aerial attack on a FARC camp in that country. In addition, the document sets out the need to democratise the media, and calls for social equality and access to technology, a comprehensive approach to fighting drug trafficking, and the promotion of public policies to curb emigration and to defend the free movement of persons worldwide. Although left-leaning parties govern many countries in Latin America, few high-level leaders of those parties were present at the meeting. "Attendance by presidents is an exception; this forum is designed mainly for the parties," Valter Pomar, the PT’s secretary for international relations, told IPS. The plenary session on "The Left in Government" took up much of Sunday’s deliberations. It emphasised that confronting economic power is one of the challenges facing these administrations. "We were elected to government, but we did not win power: the same people still own the companies and the media," said Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Ernesto Agazzi. Other items discussed were the need to maintain the level of social participation, which tends to fall once leftwing parties reach government, and the importance of redefining the role of the state. "We have to think about how we live within a state that we did not design. We do not have access to all the political power," said Gustavo Ayala, of the Ecuadorean Socialist Party. Osvaldo "Chato" Peredo, of Bolivia’s ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, highlighted "the indigenous factor" which, he said, shows that "the revolutionary process does not only have to be led by the working class, and that the classical elements of Marxism-Leninism are no longer in play." As for policies towards Latin America, Marco Aurelio García, Lula’s chief adviser on international affairs and vice president of the PT, stressed the enormous opportunities the region has to build real integration, and the need for "complementary" strategies. García acknowledged that the integration process faced unresolved problems, because the region is made up of asymmetric economies. For example, in the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), the disadvantages of the smaller countries, Uruguay and Paraguay, cause difficulties in relations with the larger members, Brazil and Argentina. Industrial and agricultural complementarity are needed to solve this impasse, said García. "The integration process requires institutions, but also a steady vision and concern for renewing the political culture of the left," he said.

Oaxaca in revolt again: the Zócalo reoccupied, motorway tollbooths "liberated", roads blockaded

Oaxacan teachers occupy the city's [i]Zócalo[/i]

A 21 day series of strikes and occupations by the radical Sección 22 in Oaxaca of the Mexican teachers' union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores en la Educación kicked off in earnest on Tuesday. As of Thursday, the strike appears to be spreading - with popular support, solidarity and an increasing volume of activity.

The teachers' strike has various demands, although it's mostly calling for the freedom for all political prisoners, an end to the arrest orders and ongoing intimidation by the judicial authorities against the movement, new elections within the SNTE, and the handing over of all Oaxacan schools controlled by the pro-government Sección 59.

Sección 22 was instrumental in the 2006 revolt in Oaxaca, where they saw their strike betrayed by the SNTE national leadership in alliance with the Oaxacan state governor, one Ulises Ruíz Ortíz. Sección 59 was established by the priísta SNTE leader, Elba Ester Gordillo, as a rival local to Sección 22 in Oaxaca, and its members were promptly sent back to work as a means of breaking the strike.

However this time round, there seems to be increasing evidence of the strike's spread into a generalised movement within Oaxaca. On Tuesday, a building belonging to PEMEX (Petróleos Mexicanos - the state petrol monolopy which is on the verge of being privatised) was blockaded, while on Thursday various neighbourhood organisations within the city assisted in the occupation of a Centro de Atención Múltiple, the state institution charged with educating special needs children, which is controlled by Sección 59.

A host of other state and municipal offices have been shut down by blockades, with the aid of various other groups and a tactic of "plantones rotativos" (rotating encampments), as well as part of the Zócalo (the main city square, the centre of the 2006 movement). On Tuesday, a tollbooth on the Oaxaca-Puebla highway was "liberated", with motorists being granted free passage. The last couple of days have also seen the return of activity under the umbrella term of the APPO (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca - the Popular Assembly of Oaxacan Peoples), although it's unclear as to which faction of the many that claim its true heritage is using the term.

Equally uncertain is the future and potential of this renaissance. Supposedly, the Sección 22 strike will end on 10 June, yet if the movement (if it can be termed thus at this early juncture) continues to expand and spread beyond the remit of their labour-based demands, surely it can't be neatly wrapped up within a predetermined timeframe. SNTE members have also struck in solidarity in Michoacán (north of Oaxaca state up the Pacific coastline) and municipal officials in Chiapas are desperately attempting to avert on the job action there by teachers.

More menacingly, with the scars and trauma of the repression of the 2006 movement still so raw, one has to wonder how much fight Oaxacans have within them. Already, the beleaguered and fantastically incompetent Ulises is attempting to bring Sección 22 to the negotiating table within the next few days. Also, traders around the Centro Histórico of the city are organising against any sort of political activity in the area, in defense of their businesses. It seems almost certain that the reactionary forces of business and government with regroup with their lackeys in Sección 59 in order to respond to the headway made here. Libcom will keep you updated.

CHILE: Historic Mass Arrest of Soldiers

By Daniela Estrada SANTIAGO, May 26 In an unprecedented decision, Chilean Judge Víctor Montiglio ordered the arrest of 98 former members of the security forces in connection with the abduction and killing of 42 leftists in 1974. Never before have so many people been arrested in connection with human rights abuses committed by the 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The retired military personnel -- who make up a majority of those to be arrested -- will be held in preventive detention in military compounds, while the few civilians in the group will be taken to the Santiago 1 high security prison in the capital. They face "aggravated kidnapping" charges in the cases involving 42 of the victims of "Operation Colombo", carried out in 1974. "Operation Colombo" was a disinformation ploy mounted by the regime’s secret police, DINA, to cover up the forced disappearance and murder of 119 leftists, most of whom belonged to the insurgent Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), who were referred to as "Miristas". The media campaign, which was carried out in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, was a forerunner of Operation Condor, a coordinated plan that emerged in late 1975 among the military governments that ruled Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s, aimed at tracking down, capturing and eliminating left-wing opponents. In 1975, the obscure newspaper "Novo O’Día" in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, and the Argentine magazine "Lea", which consisted of a single edition, reported that 119 Chilean "extremists" were killed in internal disputes or in firefights with police in other countries. The Chilean newspaper "La Segunda", which still circulates in Santiago today, picked up the reports that had appeared earlier in the Lea and Novo O’Dia publications, under the headline "Miristas Exterminated Like Rats" On Monday, Chilean Justice Minister Carlos Maldonado described Operation Colombo as "sinister" and "repugnant." The local press reported that the 98 accused included 40 members of the army, 30 members of the Carabineros militarised police, 10 detectives, two members of the navy, a few members of the air force, and several civilians. The members of the security forces, who are all retired, include senior officers, soldiers who stood guard while the victims were tortured, and people who drove vehicles and provided other logistical services during the operation. The highest-ranking officers are former DINA chief, retired General Manuel Contreras, who is already in prison for other human rights violations, and retired Brigadier Generals Pedro Espinoza and Miguel Krassnoff. The heads of DINA were already prosecuted in 2004 in connection with the disappearance and murder of other Operation Colombo victims. Laywer Boris Paredes of the Interior Ministry’s Human Rights Programme applauded Montiglio’s decision, while noting that "DINA was heavily involved in criminal activities." Some 3,000 people were killed and disappeared, 35,000 were tortured, and thousands went into exile during Pinochet’s 17-year regime. In the other camp, Jorge Balmaceda, Brigadier General Espinoza’s defence lawyer, said the charges of "aggravated kidnapping" were "legal fiction." "This crime does not exist, because everyone knows that these people have been dead for years," said Balmaceda. For his part, Sergio Laurenti, executive secretary of Amnesty International in Chile, told IPS that the mass arrest is "very good news." He underlined the large number of accused and the fact that they range from senior officers to low-ranking soldiers who, he said, were sure to have also taken part in other murders, forced disappearances or cases of torture. Laurenti believes that Montiglio’s decision and other resolutions and verdicts handed down in recent weeks indicate a "revitalisation" of human rights trials. But "so far there have been no substantial advances" because of a "lack of cooperation" on the part of the security forces, which have failed to hand over all of the information they possess, he said. The Cooperativa radio station reported that Lutheran Bishop Helmut Frenz, founder of the humanitarian Committee of Cooperation for Peace in Chile, had made a representation to the court on behalf of corporal Samuel Fuenzalida, one of those prosecuted by Montiglio. Fuenzalida, who worked as a guard in several torture centres, has provided important information in the case, and Frenz is seeking to keep him out of preventive detention in recognition of his cooperation. Pinochet was stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution in 2005 to allow him to be investigated in connection with Operation Colombo. But the elderly former dictator died in December 2006 without ever being brought to trial for his responsibility in the human rights crimes committed by his regime, or for the illicit enrichment and corruption with which he was charged. A group of around 100 people gathered Monday outside the Santiago courthouse to protest the recent decision to close the investigation of the torture and murder of folksinger Víctor Jara, who was killed just after Pinochet’s September 1973 coup that overthrew socialist President Salvador Allende (1970-1973). The demonstrators demanded that the judge, who found a retired colonel guilty, but was unable to identify the officer who actually pulled the trigger, reopen the case and continue investigating until Jara’s killer is brought to justice.

Plan Colombia Heads for Mexico, by Stephen Lendman

It's called "Plan Mexico," or more formally the "Merida Initiative," and here's the scheme. It's to do for Mexicans what Plan Colombia has done to that nation since 1999, and, in fact, much earlier. Since then, billions have gone for the following: -- to establish a US military foothold in the country; -- mostly to fund US weapons, chemical and other corporate profiteers; it's a long-standing practice; in fact, a 1997 Pentagon document affirms that America's military will "protect US interests and investments;" in Colombia, it's to control its valuable resources; most importantly oil and natural gas but also coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, emeralds, copper and more; it's also to crush worker resistance, eliminate unions, target human rights and peasant opposition groups, and make the country a "free market" paradise inhospitable to people; -- it funds a brutish military as well; already, over 10,000 of its soldiers have been trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) - aka the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia; its graduates are infamous as human rights abusers, drugs traffickers, and death squad practitioners; they were well schooled in their "arts" by the nation most skilled in them; -- it lets Colombia arm and support paramilitary death squads; they're known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC); for more than a decade, they've terrorized Colombians and are responsible for most killings and massacres in support of powerful western and local business interests; -- it funds drug eradication efforts, but only in FARC-EP and ELN areas; government-controlled ones are exempt; trafficking is big business; laundering drugs money reaps huge profits for major US and regional banks; the CIA has also been linked to the trade for decades, especially since the 1980s; after Afghanistan's invasion and occupation, opium harvests set records - mostly from areas controlled by US-allied "warlords;" the Taliban's drug eradication program was one reason it was targeted; Colombia's drug eradication is horrific; it causes ecological devastation; crop and forest destruction; lives and livelihoods lost; large areas chemically contaminated; bottom line of the program - record amounts of Colombian cocaine reach US and world markets; trafficking is more profitable than ever; so is big business thanks to paramilitary terror; -- it's to topple the FARC-EP and ELN resistance groups; Latin American expert James Petras calls the former the "longest standing (since 1964), largest peasant-based guerrilla (resistance) movement in the world;" it's also to weaken Hugo Chavez, other regional populist leaders and groups, and destabilize their countries; and -- it supports the "Uribe doctrine;" it's in lockstep with Washington; its policies are hard right, corporate-friendly and militarized for enforcement. Plan Colombia turned the country into a dependable, profitable narco-state. Business is better than ever. Violence is out of control and human rights abuses are appalling. It gets worse. Two-thirds of Columbians are impoverished. Over 2.5 million peasant and urban slum dwellers have been displaced. Thousands of trade unionists have been murdered (more than anywhere else in the world), and many more thousands of peasants, rural teachers, and peasant and indigenous leaders have as well. Paramilitary land seizures are commonplace. Colombian latifundistas profit hugely. Wealth concentration is extreme and growing. Corruption infests the government. Many thousands in desperation are leaving. Colombia's "democracy" is a sham. So is Mexico's. Plan Mexico will make it worse. That's the whole idea, and it's part of the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership - aka the North American Union. It's planned behind closed doors - to militarize and annex the continent. Corporate giants are in charge, mostly US ones. The idea is for an unregulated open field for profit. The Bush administration, Canada and Mexico support it. Things are moving toward implementation. Three nations will become one. National sovereignty eliminated. Worker rights as well. Opposition is building, but moves are planned to quash it. That's the militarization part. Business intends to win this one. People are to be exploited, not helped. That's why it's kept secret. The idea is to agree on plans, inform legislatures minimally about them, get SPP passed, then implement it with as few of its disturbing details known in hopes once they are they'll be too late to reverse. SPP is ugly, ominous and hugely people destructive. Hundreds of millions in three countries will be affected. Others in the region as well. Plan Mexico is a contribution to the scheme. Below is what we know about it. Plan Mexico - Exploitation Writ Large The plan was first announced in October 2007 as a "regional security cooperation initiative." It's to provide $1.4 billion in aid (over three years) for Mexico and Central America on the pretext of fighting drugs trafficking and organized crime linked to it. FY 2008 calls for $550 million for starters with about 10% of it for Central America. In fact, Plan Mexico is part of SPP's grand scheme to militarize the continent, let corporate predators exploit it, and keep people from three countries none the wiser. Most aid will go to Mexico's military and police forces with its major portion earmarked back to US defense contractors for equipment, training and maintenance. It's how these schemes always work. This one includes a menu of security allocations, administrative functions, and special needs like software, forensics equipment, database compilations, plus plenty more for friendly pockets to keep our Mexican cohorts on board. After failing on May 15, House passage will likely follow the Senate's approval on May 22 - below the radar. It's one of many appropriations tucked into the latest Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental funding request, and its purpose is just as outlandish. It will militarize Mexico without deploying US troops. It will also open the country for plunder, privatize everything including state-owned oil company PEMEX, give Washington a greater foothold there, and get around the touchy military issue by allowing in Blackwater paramilitaries instead to work with Mexican security forces. Only privatizing PEMEX is in doubt thanks to immense citizen opposition. Thousands of "brigadistas" were in the streets, protesting outside the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, as lawmakers considered ending PEMEX state-control. They paralyzed debate and brought it to a halt - temporarily putting off a final resolution of this very contentious issue. Big Oil wants it. Most Mexicans don't. The battle continues. Mexico's military may get involved. The US State Department describes them as follows: -- ...."impunity and corruption (in Mexico's security forces are) problems, particularly at the state and local levels. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings; kidnappings; physical abuse; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency in the judicial system; (coerced) confessions....permitted as evidence in trials; criminal intimidation of journalists leading to self-censorship; corruption at all levels of government; domestic violence against women (often with impunity); violence, including killings, against women; trafficking in persons; social and economic discrimination against indigenous people; and child labor." Mexico's military fares little better with promises Plan Mexico will worsen it. President Calderon now deploys troops around the country. People fear them when they come. They're purportedly against drugs traffickers, but that's mostly cover. Their real purpose may be sinister - a possible dress rehearsal for martial law when SPP is implemented. Mexican soldiers are hard line. Their reputation is unsavory. People justifiably fear them. They commit flagrant human rights abuses and get away with them. The major media even report them. The New York Times, CNN, BBC, USA Today and others cite evidence of rape, torture, killings, other human rights abuses, corruption, extortion, and ties to drugs traffickers. Little is done to stop it. Government and military spokespersons often aren't available for comment. They're part of the problem, not the solution. Plan Mexico promises more of the same and then some. Billions from Washington back it. Social protests in the country already are criminalized. Hundreds are filling prisons. Many languish there for years. Labor and social activists are most vulnerable. Injustice and grinding poverty motivate them. Plan Mexico ups the ante. Things are about to get worse. Militarizing society is toxic. Police state enforcement follows. Accountability disappears. The rule of law no longer applies. Plan Mexico assures it. So does SPP for the continent. In classic doublespeak, the White House claims it will "advance the productivity and competitiveness of our nations and help to protect our health, safety and environment." Its real purpose is to annex a continent, destroy its democratic remnants, lock in hard line enforcement, and secure it for capital. SPP Backdrop of Plan Mexico A detailed SPP explanation can be found on the 2007 article link. It's titled The Militarization and Annexation of North America - Plan Mexico is part of SPP. It will militarize and annex the continent. It was formerly launched at a March 23, 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas attended by George Bush, Mexico's President Vincente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. They forged a tripartite partnership for greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social and security integration. Secretive working groups were formed to accomplish it - to devise non-negotiable agreements to be binding on all three nations. Details are hidden. No public input is permitted. Pro forma legislative voting is approaching. It will try to avoid a NAFTA-type battle. Legislatures aren't being fully informed. The worst of SPP is secret. It's not a treaty, and the idea is to pass it below the radar and avoid a protracted public debate. What's known so far is disturbing, and considerable opposition has arisen but thus far too inadequate to matter. SPP, Plan Mexico, and a final continent-wide plan amount to a corporate coup d'etat against three sovereign states and hundreds of millions of people. It's to erase national borders, merge three nations into one under US control, and remove all barriers to trade and capital flows. It's also to militarize the continent, create a fortress-North America security zone, and have in place police state laws for enforcement. Billions will fund it. All for corporate gain. Nothing for public welfare. SPP takes NAFTA and the "war on terrorism" to the next level en route to extending it further for more corporate plunder. It's based on outlandish notions - that doing business, protecting national security, and securing "public welfare" require tough new measures in a very threatening world. SPP bolsters US control. It enhances corporate power, quashes civil liberties, erases public welfare, and creates an open field for plunder free from regulatory restraints. It's being plotted behind closed doors. A series of summits and secret meetings continue with the latest one in New Orleans from April 22 to 24. Three presidents attended and were met by vocal street protests. They convened a "People's Summit" and also held workshops to: -- inform people how destructive SPP is; -- strengthen networking and organizational ties against it; -- maintain online information about their activities; -- promote their efforts and build added support; and -- affirm their determination to continue resisting a hugely repressive corporate-sponsored agenda. Opponents call it Nafta on steroids. Business-friendly opposition also exists. Prominent is a "Coalition to Block the North American Union." The Conservative Caucus backs it. It has a "NAU War Room." It's the "headquarters of THE national campaign to expose and halt America's absorption into a 'North American Union (NAU)' with Canada and Mexico." It opposes building "a massive, continental 'NAFTA Superhighway.' " It has congressional allies, and on January 2007 Rep. Virgil Goode and six co-sponsors introduced House Concurrent Resolution 40. It expresses "the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in (building a NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada." The April summit reaffirmed SPP's intentions - to create a borderless North America, dissolve national sovereignty, put corporate giants in control, and assure big US ones get most of it. Militarism is part of it. It's the reason for fortress-North America under US command. The US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was established in October 2002 to do it. It has air, land and sea responsibility for the continent regardless of Posse Comitatus limitations that no longer apply or sovereign borders easily erased. Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also have a large role. So does the FBI, CIA, all US spy agencies, militarized state and local police, National Guard forces, and paramilitary mercenaries like Blackwater USA. They're headed anywhere on the continent with license to operate as freely here as in Iraq and New Orleans post-Katrina. They'll be able to turn hemispheric streets into versions of Baghdad and make them unfit to live on if things come to that. SPP maintains a web site. It's "key accomplishments" since August 2007 are updated on it as of April 22, 2008. Its details can be accessed from the following link: It lists principles agreed to; bilateral deals struck; negotiations concluded; study assessments released; agreements on the "Free Flow of Information;" law enforcement activities; efforts related to intellectual property, border and long-haul trucking enforcement; import licensing procedures; food and product safety issues; energy (with special focus on oil); water as well; infrastructure development; emergency management; and much more. It's all laid out in deceptively understated tones to hide its continental aim - enhanced corporate exploitation with as little public knowledge as possible. Militarization will assure it, and consider one development up North. On February 14, 2008, the US and Canada agreed to allow American troops inside Canada. Canadians were told nothing or that the agreement was reached in 2002. Neither was it discussed in Congress or the Canadian House of Commons. It's for "bilateral integration" of military command structures in areas of immigration, law enforcement, intelligence, or whatever else the Pentagon or Washington wishes. Overall, it's part of the "war on terror" and militarizing the continent to make it "safer" for business and be prepared for any civilian opposition. Congress may soon pass SPP, but with no knowledge of its worst provisions kept secret. It's to assure enough congressional support makes it law. Nonetheless, federal, state and local opposition is building. It ranges from private activism to vocal lawmakers. In 2008, a dozen or more states passed resolutions against SPP. Around 20 others did it in 2007. Congress began debating it last year with opposition raised on various grounds - open borders, unchecked immigration, a NAFTA Superhighway System, and the idea of giving unregulated Mexican trucks free access to US roads and cities. There's also talk of replacing three national currencies with an "Amero." Unfortunately, little is heard about trashing the Constitution or giving corporate bosses free reign. There's even less talk about a militarized continent against dissent. SPP is a "new world order." Companies are plotting to get it. People better hope they don't. Disruptive opposition might derail them. It's building but needs more resonance to matter. Time is short and slipping away. These schemers mean business. They want our future. We can't afford to lose it. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening any time. posted by Steve Lendman

Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days

Polly Curtis and Martin Hodgson Saturday May 24, 2008 The Guardian A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody. Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics. The case highlights what lecturers are claiming is a direct assault on academic freedom led by the government which, in its attempt to establish a "prevent agenda" against terrorist activity, is putting pressure on academics to become police informers. Sabir was arrested on May 14 after the document was found by a university staff member on an administrator's computer. The administrator, Hisham Yezza, an acquaintance of Sabir, had been asked by the student to print the 1,500-page document because Sabir could not afford the printing fees. The pair were arrested under the Terrorism Act, Sabir's family home was searched and their computer and mobile phones seized. They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation. Dr Alf Nilsen, a research fellow at the university's school of politics and international relations, said that Yezza is being held at Colnbrook immigration removal centre, due to be deported on Tuesday. "If he is taken to Algeria, he may be subjected to severe human rights violations after his involvement in this case. He has been in the UK for 13 years. His work is here, his friends are here, his life is here." Of his detention, Sabir said: "I was absolutely broken. I didn't sleep. I'd close my eyes then hear the keys clanking and I would be up again. As I realised the severity I thought I'd end up in Belmarsh with the nutcases. It was psychological torture. "On Tuesday they read me a statement confirming it was an illegal document which shouldn't be used for research purposes. To this day no one has ever clarified that point. They released me. I was shaking violently, I fell against the wall, then on the floor and I just cried." Bettina Rentz, a lecturer in international security and Sabir's personal tutor, said: "He's a serious student, who works very hard and wants a career in academia. This is a great concern for our academic freedom but also for the climate on campus." Students have begun a petition calling on the university to acknowledge the "disproportionate nature of [its] response to the possession of legitimate research materials". A spokesman for Nottingham University said it had a duty to inform police of "material of this nature". The spokesman said it was "not legitimate research material", but later amended that view, saying: "If you're an academic or a registered student then you have very good cause to access whatever material your scholarship requires. But there is an expectation that you will act sensibly within current UK law and wouldn't send it on to any Tom, Dick or Harry." At its annual conference next week the University and College Union will debate a motion on "assaults on academic freedom by the DIUS [Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills]". Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: "If we really want to tackle problems like extremism and terrorism, then we need to be safe to explore the issues and get a better understanding. The last thing we need is people too frightened to discuss an issue or research a subject because they fear being arrested or reported." The higher education minister, Bill Rammell, said: "The government does not want to or has never asked for staff or students to spy on their colleagues or friends. We want universities to work with staff and students on campus to isolate and challenge the very small minority who promote violent extremism." Sabir's solicitor, Tayab Ali, said: "This could have been dealt with sensibly if the university had discussed the issue with Rizwaan and his tutors. This is the worrying aspect of the extension of detention [under the Terrorism Act]. They can use hugely powerful arrest powers before investigating."


25 Ways to Help a Fellow Human Being Today

[Thanks to flutecake for this link] “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama
  1. Smile and be friendly. Sometimes a simple little thing like this can put a smile and warm feeling in someone else’s heart, and make their day a little better. They might then do the same for others.
  2. Call a charity to volunteer. You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen today. Just look up the number, make the call, and make an appointment to volunteer sometime in the next month. It can be whatever charity you like. Volunteering is one of the most amazing things you can do.
  3. Donate something you don’t use. Or a whole box of somethings. Drop them off at a charity — others can put your clutter to good use.
  4. Make a donation. There are lots of ways to donate to charities online, or in your local community. Instead of buying yourself a new gadget or outfit, spend that money in a more positive way.
  5. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a certain charity.
  6. Stop to help. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or somehow in need of help, stop and ask how you can help. Sometimes all they need is a push, or the use of your cell phone.
  7. Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your grandma to use email, teaching your child to ride a bike, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to clean the darn toilet. OK, that last one doesn’t count.
  8. Comfort someone in grief. Often a hug, a helpful hand, a kind word, a listening ear, will go a long way when someone has lost a loved one or suffered some similar loss or tragedy.
  9. Help them take action. If someone in grief seems to be lost and doesn’t know what to do, help them do something. It could be making funeral arrangements, it could be making a doctor’s appointment, it could be making phone calls. Don’t do it all yourself — let them take action too, because it helps in the healing process.
  10. Buy food for a homeless person. Cash is often a bad idea if it’s going to be used for drugs, but buying a sandwich and chips or something like that is a good gesture. Be respectful and friendly.
  11. Lend your ear. Often someone who is sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated just needs someone who will listen. Venting and talking through an issue is a huge help.
  12. Help someone on the edge. If someone is suicidal, urge them to get help. If they don’t, call a suicide hotline or doctor yourself to get advice.
  13. Help someone get active. A person in your life who wants to get healthy might need a helping hand — offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together. Once they get started, it can have profound effects.
  14. Do a chore. Something small or big, like cleaning up or washing a car or doing the dishes or cutting a lawn.
  15. Give a massage. Only when appropriate of course. But a massage can go a long way to making someone feel better.
  16. Send a nice email. Just a quick note telling someone how much you appreciate them, or how proud you are of them, or just saying thank you for something they did.
  17. Show appreciation, publicly. Praising someone on a blog, in front of coworkers, in front of family, or in some other public way, is a great way to make them feel better about themselves.
  18. Donate food. Clean out your cupboard of canned goods, or buy a couple bags of groceries, and donate them to a homeless shelter.
  19. Just be there. When someone you know is in need, sometimes it’s just good to be there. Sit with them. Talk. Help out if you can.
  20. Be patient. Sometimes people can have difficulty understanding things, or learning to do something right. Learn to be patient with them.
  21. Tutor a child. This might be difficult to do today, but often parents can’t afford to hire a tutor for their child in need of help. Call a school and volunteer your tutoring services.
  22. Create a care package. Soup, reading material, tea, chocolate … anything you think the person might need or enjoy. Good for someone who is sick or otherwise in need of a pick-me-up.
  23. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them. You don’t have to take on that cause by yourself, but join others in signing a petition, speaking up a a council meeting, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard.
  24. Offer to babysit. Sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn’t get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. Set up an appointment. It can make a big difference.
  25. Love. Simply finding ways to express your love to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger … just express your love. A hug, a kind word, spending time, showing little kindnesses, being friendly … it all matters more than you know.

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world. - William Shakespeare

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Other America: Interviews with Anarchists in the United States

Andrew Flood has spent the last several months traveling around the USA speaking about anarchism in Ireland. Forty-five cities with populations from thirty thousand to over eight million. At many of those stops, Andrew interviewed local anarchists, and has published over seven and a half hours of audio: Providence, Boston, North Hampton, DC, Richmond, Syracuse, and New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Miami, Sarasota, Gainesville, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Olympia, Eugene and San Jose. A tour through a country at war, something he was reminded of by the wrapper around every Greyhound ticket which might as well have read "If you broke or desperate enough to travel with us you might just join the army". A country at war abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, at war at home with its own population, excluding the political ones he witnessed at least half a dozen different sets of arrests on his tour. He heard of schools taking students in shifts each morning because of the lack of buses, he saw bridges that had collapsed due to under funding, heard of the mass layoffs in state after state and in the rust belt saw the destroyed industries and homes of a previous generations dreams. 'If you're broke enough for the bus you might just join the army' On his travels he used the opportunity to record interviews with many of the local anarchists who were organizing the meetings which he edited on the bus and posted to once he hit his next wi-fi signal. We've collated these interviews below, over two hours of audio in all. All those interviewed are anarchists but apart from that they represent a section of the population of the United States ranging in age from perhaps 20 to nearly 70. Together they give an impression of 'the other America', that is the vast majority of the US population that is not visible in the election coverage or as characters on 'Friends' or 'Sex & the City'. These interviews are a fragment of a picture, a selection of the hundred plus people Andrew had conversations with, the ones where there was enough time and enough quiet to allow him to flip open a five year old laptop and hit record. He couldn't always do that so there are many fascinating conversations that are missing including one from a visit to one of the 100+ political prisoners still incarcerated in the US. He spent four days in NYC but the shortage of both time and quiet spots in that city where many work three jobs just to pay the rent means no recording from there--he was, however, able to interview New York City anarchist Ashanti Alston while in Sarasota, Florida. And then there were also the overheard conversations, on the train to Providence he listened to two recently returned Iraq vets compare their terror of camel spiders, in the Greyhound station in Springfield, Mass another vet screamed at a Bush broadcast on the TV. Providence, RI: Senia and Mark Boston, MA: NEFAC North Hampton, MA: Anne Marie Washington, DC: Alex Richmond, VA Syracuse,N and New Orleans, LA: Stephen and the Syracuse Solidarity Network Pittsburgh, PA Atlanta, GA: Capital Terminus Collective Miami, FL: Patrick Sarasota, FL: Ashanti Alston Gainesville, FL: James Schmidt Detroit, MI: Chris and Mike Minneapolis, MN: Kieran Seattle, WA: Rogue Olympia, WA: Christa Eugene, OR: Mark, Kate and Nathan of the IWW San Jose, CA: Amanecer Senia and Mark in Providence, Rhode Island: They talk about Students for Democratic Society, the IWW, anarcha-feminism in Puerto Rico and the US primaries.(53 minutes.)Senia and Mark SDS in Providence NEFAC in Boston, Massachusetts: An interview with four members of the Boston union of the North Eastern Anarchist Communist Federation (NEFAC). NEFAC were the organisers of the NE tour which is why quite a few of the interviews are with NEFAC members. NEFAC talks about the Boston Irish, housing organization around the foreclosure crisis, unemployed workers organising and political prisoner support in the USA today.(27 minutes.) Anne Marie in western Massachusetts: On activism in a small town / rural setting (North Hampton, MA), how she became an anarchist, the local anti-war movement and class struggle politics.(27 minutes.) IWW in Philadelphia, PA Washington, District of Columbia: the DC specific problem of building a popular anarchism in a city where there are several protests every day.(8 minutes 30.) Richmond, Virginia: the Richmond slave insurrection of 1800, anarchism in Richmond since 1995 and homeless activism. There is a little bit of periodic noise on the Richmond interview as it was conducted in the public park that is mentioned in the interview and there were occasional gusts of wind.(23 minutes.) Syracuse Solidarity Network and Stephen about New Orleans, Louisiana: Covering anarchist organizing, local anti war and feminist movements and activism in a rust belt town. The second half is Stephen talking about how the experience of working with Common Ground in New Orleans after Katrina radicalized him and is probably the most interesting segment of the six interviews done up to this point of the tour. Also, of course there is the standard question about the US elections.(27 minutes.) Capital Terminus Collective in Atlanta, Georgia: Interview with three members of the Capital Terminus Collective in Atlanta, Georgia. Interview covers hospital privitizations, housing, police corruption, segregation of the working class and ends with the usual question about the US election.(40 minutes.) Patrick in Miami, Flordia: Patrick of the Black Mangrove Collective was interviewed about struggles in that city and the political background. The interview covers everything from the difficulties of operating in a city where right wing Cuban exiles dominate the political landscape to community struggle for housing and organizing in trailer parks.(20 minutes.) Ashanti Alston in Sarasota, Florida: Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was a Black Liberation Army political prisoner for over 12 years. His speech the All Power to the Imagination conference in Sarasota, Florida was recorded.(40 minutes.) Ashanti Alston Omowali James Schmidt in Gainesville, Florida: An interview with James Schmidt of the Civic Media Center infoshop in Gainsville, central Florida. Interview covers student town, recession, CMC origins, IWW, homelessness, organic farms and farmwork and the elections.(26 minutes.) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Issues covered include the anarchist history of the city, transport cuts, current anarchist and left activity and of course their take on the US elections.(12 minutes.)Pittsburgh Chris and Mike in Detroit, Michigan: A look at the radical history of Detroit and current anarchist activity in the city. Covers the period from the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) upsurge and the mass migration to Detroit from the south, Black liberation movement and influence of Marxism and Leninism to the formation of Anti-Racist Action (ARA). They also talk about issues in the city today and the formation of the new group Solidarity and Defense.(40 minutes.)A city in ruins. Kieran in Minneapolis, Minnesota: He talks about employment in the 'Twin Cities' the loss of union jobs, the 1934 strike and Bloody Friday, the co-op movement in 60's and 70's, the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee/Pine Ridge, influence of British anarchist groups and the formation of Love and Rage, Profane Existence and the punk scene and organizing against the Republican National Convention and of course the elections.(18 minutes.) Rogue in Seattle, Washington: A range of topics that included the legend of Seattle, gentrification and public housing, prison abolition, left bank books, hoping freight trains, homeless at 15, punk vs nazi fights in North Carolina, IWW struggle to unionize Austin co-op, Class Action Alliance and Environmental activism, ACT-UP and condoms in prisons.(40 minutes.)You must remember this... Christa in Olympia, Washington: Interview with Class Action Alliance member and sex worker activist Christa. She talks about work in Olympia, homelessness, the port blockades of war equipment, ICE raids/ sanctuary city, local anarchist activity, the Utopian Design Collective and primitivism, sex workers in Seattle, going to the DNC and RNC mobilizations.(14 minutes.)May Day in Olympia IWW (Mark, Kate and Nathan) in Eugene, Oregon: Interview with IWW members Mark, Kate, Nathan in Eugene, Oregon. issues covered include local industry, gentrification of downtown, decline of radical organizing, what remains, anarchism in Eugene today, the decline of primitivism, the IWW, and organising hippie businesses.(14 minutes.) Amanecer in San Jose, California: An interview with four members of Amanecer in San Jose. They talk about tech jobs and the service sector, history of police brutality, poor being pushed out of the city, referendum to abolish rent control, cop watch and De Bug, the flea market, left in San Jose, the furious 5, formation of Amanecer, and work in social movements.(26 minutes.) 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*Heart & Soul*

mp3 * You and I, we may look the same But we are very far apart There's bullet holes where my compassion used to be and there is violence in my heart Into fire you can send us From the fire we return You can label us a consequence of how much you have to learn You can try but you'll never understand This is something you will never understand can you hear it now hear it coming now can you hear it now On hands and knees we crawl you can not stop us all our bones our skin we will not let you win you have set something in motion much greater than you've ever known standing there in all your grand naivety about to reap what you have sown time will feed upon your weaknesses and soon you'll lose the will to care when you return to the place that you call home we will be there we will be there on hands and knees we crawl you can not stop us all our blood will stain we will not go away on hands and knees we crawl you can not stop us all our blood our ways will never leave this place

Psychedelics and paranormal experience: an interview with David Luke

by James Kent
David Luke is a parapsychology researcher at the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes, at the University of Northampton in the UK, where he researches paranormal beliefs and experiences, particularly in the context of altered states, such as via dreams and drugs. He and collaborator Marios Kittenis recently published "A preliminary survey of paranormal experiences with psychoactive drugs" in the Journal of Parapsychology, which reports on the responses from a 2005 survey of psychedelic drug users conducted via MAPS and other outlets. I recently had the chance to ask him about some of his findings.

JK: Looking at the percentages of particular paranormal phenomena reported by drug type -- such as psychedelics and mystical experience (44%) and relaxants and OBEs (36%) -- do you think this hints at the possibility of specific phenomenon being directly linked to specific receptor interactions within the brain?

DL: It would be hard to deny that there are specific neurotransmitter pathways being activated by different drugs, but it would take further research to answer your question directly. This is because it is not yet known whether it is the specific neurochemical action of the drug that causes these experiences directly or whether it is due to the states that they engender. These states may come about through a great variety of means, other than drugs, though it is conceivable that all altered states involve particular neurochemical changes. Nevertheless, These figures represent the percentage of people in the sample ever having these experiences on these drugs at any time in their life. The actual frequency with which they occur is generally quite low, usually just occasionally, although a few experiences seem to occur quite often with specific substances -- such as the experience of telepathy with cannabis and plant-entity encounters with psilocybin containing mushrooms -- but there might be stronger psychological or even transpersonal explanations for such experiences. You might expect these experiences to be more reliably repeatable if the specific neurochemistry were the only cause. Clearly set, setting, expectation, motivation, and maybe even some fundamentally esoteric properties of our ontology are at work -- because these experiences might actually be 'real' in some sense.

One way in which we might begin to distinguish between neurochemical and psychological-state causes of such experiences would be to conduct ESP experiments with people under the influence of a particular drug and compare their performance and experience to people who were reliving the experience under-post hypnotic suggestion. Fortunately this technique now appears more viable. Arthur Hastings of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in California recently published a paper in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (2006, 38, 273-283) indicating success at re-inducing full MDMA experiences through post-hypnotic suggestion. ESP experiments could be applied to such a technique and begin to answer your question further. ...

PBS’ Carrier: Why Didn’t They Film the Rape-Stops?


‘In its homeport, San Diego, sailors from the Nimitz rape the prostituted bodies of girls in that city and in Tijuana. These girls are subject to the harshness of the sex industry which treats women like modern-day slaves; girls are held in debt bondage, pimp-controlled, trafficked. Tijuana is in fact a ‘corridor’ city: girls are ‘broken’ there before being shipped to U.S. markets.’

By Suki Falconberg


Last month, PBS broadcast a show called Carrier, about life aboard the USS NIMITZ, an aircraft carrier with a crew of about 6000 sailors. It showed life on the ship and on shore during a six-month deployment in 2005. The Nimitz stopped at various ports in the Pacific, Australia, and the Arabian Gulf. Women were involved in the production of the film, among them director Maro Chermayeff and co-producer Deborah Dickson.

Here is a letter I wrote to PBS about the show:

I was disappointed that Carrier did not cover a basic fact of military life: when sailors move from port to port, they visit bars and brothels and rape the bodies of sexually enslaved women and girls. In its homeport, San Diego, sailors from the Nimitz rape the prostituted bodies of girls in that city and in Tijuana. These girls are subject to the harshness of the sex industry which treats women like modern-day slaves; girls are held in debt bondage, pimp-controlled, trafficked. Tijuana is in fact a ‘corridor’ city: girls are ‘broken’ there before being shipped to U.S. markets. To make them submissive, the girls are subjected to gang rapes, beatings, starvation, being filming for porn to degrade them, along with psychological terror tactics. This is the norm of what happens to prostituted beings. These are the broken bodies sailors buy and use.

I notice that during this 2005 six-month deployment of the Nimitz which PBS filmed, the ship docked in Thailand. When our navy visits this country, they dock off of Pattaya, a prostitution city created for the military. About a third of the girls trafficked to meet the sailors’ sexual needs are underage. Numerous eyewitnesses have told me that the first thing the U.S. sailors do, when they hop of the boats that ferry them in, is head straight for the sex-for-sale enslaved girls. Why didn’t the film crew document the men going with prostituted, enslaved women and girls and girl children in Pattaya? (My sources are military men themselves who have told me about what the fleet does in Thailand.)

During this 2005 deployment, the Nimitz also stopped at Dubai, a major trafficking destination in that part of the world. Large numbers of girls from Russia, the Ukraine, and Moldova are trafficked into this ‘sex playground’ by the Russian mafia. The girls are broken at nearby Pakistani labor camps where the pimps let a different man in every 15 minutes to mount the enslaved body. This goes on for days or even weeks until her spirit is gone. Until she is docile enough to accept rape by 30 or more men on a daily basis. These broken women and girls are the ones our sailors are using. The men see only the end product—the girl who must smile to survive even though she is no longer alive as a human being.

Another stop, Bahrain, is also a major trafficking destination. It was amusing to see the PBS crew filming the sailors visiting an orphanage under the guidance of a chaplain. I assume this behavior was staged as a PR stunt for the benefit of the PBS crew.

All the other port stops—Hawaii, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, India—also offer enslaved, prostituted bodies. When the men left the ship in Hong Kong, there was a girl handing out cards to them saying “Happy Place.” The sailors snorted with laughter, obviously well–acquainted with these ‘happy’ places. Then the film crew followed the men on a shopping trip. Why no film crew accompanying them into the brothels?

One young sailor aboard the ship did mention how, on a previous trip, he and his crewmates has visited a bar/brothel in Rio where, “it was insane, the strippers were really going at it, on the bar tops.”

Usage of prostituted/enslaved/trafficked bodies is commonplace in the military. Of course, the navy is not going to voluntarily show a film crew this aspect of sailors’ behavior. I am disappointed that the woman who directed the show and the female co-producer continue to cover up this side of the military—that they did not film the sailors and their typical ‘sexual liberty’ activities in Pattaya and Dubai. Closer to home, I am disappointed these women did not film the sailors visiting the red-light areas in San Diego which are full of trafficked, enslaved Filipina girls. This director and producer have betrayed the raped bodies of all these women.

I would like to know what the women sailors aboard the ship think of this rape of their prostituted sisters—do they make the connection? High rates of sexual assault in the military are directly related to the time-honored rape of for-sale women by sailors. Train and allow men to rape one group of women, and they will rape others as well.

I read that the Nimitz is planning to dock in Hong Kong this month. Perhaps PBS could do some ‘postscript’ filming–follow the men into the brothels. As a woman who was raped and prostituted by the U.S. military, I would like my side of military history to be told. What is ‘fun’ for the sailors is life imprisonment in rape hell for us prostitutes. I wish women journalists and filmmakers would cover what happens to us.

Cordially, Suki Falconberg, rape/prostitution survivor (except that I didn’t survive)

© 2008, Suki Falconberg

Suki is a contributing writer for Cyrano’s Journal Online, an ex-prostitute, and the author of two novels: Tender Bodies and Whore Stories and Comfort the Comfort Women. Both are erotic satires on military prostitution... *
Additionally: statistics reveal one in three women in the military will be raped by fellow service members during their enlistment.


PLEONEXIA (For Whom the Bell Tolls)


G8 leaders at the 2001 G8 summit….

By Vi Ransel


These bastards have been around the block before. This time the parasites planned ahead. Laws have been passed. Detention camps built for when their feeding on us drives us over the edge.

This time around there won’t be a New Deal. This deal’s called Take It or Leave It. There’s no limit now to how far you can fall. The Social Safety Net has proved too inconvenient.

Lessons The People should have learned have been erased from our history books. All society’s gains since the Gilded Age have been revoked by Enron-style crooks.

This is not their Robber Baron grandfathers’ blatant, in-your-face mass homicide. Today’s Masters of Capitalism’s Necropolis are engineering a relentless, slow-growing auto-genocide.

People living on the knife edge of the Global Economy have little to live for and nothing to lose. Given time they may unite to protest, strike or riot or, worst of all, they may decide to choose

to demand a genuine democracy so they must continue to be divided and conquered, set on one another like pit bulls and convinced they created their own problems

with the unwise lifestyle choices they made from the consumer buffet provided by the Rich, never seeing those choices as part of a system the Rich designed to enable them to shift

the wealth and the power to those on the top, the risk and responsibility to those on the bottom and confiscate all of society’s property unto the very air, the earth and the water

appropriating a greater and greater portion of the value produced by the labor of working women and men, while entrapping them in a tar pit of self-destructive choices making willing accomplices of capitalism’s victims,


who are force fed competitive, consumer “values” like willing, silly obedient geese. Most of the American People are one giant pate’ ready to be consumed by the financial elite.

Since 2/3 of humanity’s now superfluous due to globalization’s relentless concentration, the Rich require only the last third of us to stay alive in order to serve and to maintain them.

Like 2/3 of the world’s people, 2/3 of the world’s work is unnecessary, hamster wheel-like activity, done merely to feed the need to earn to consume the results of our increased productivity

which is what the capitalist caper is really about, legitimizing all the Fed’s green printed paper by exchanging it for things that have tangible worth to provide gambling chips for Wall Streets’ Money Changers.

The Rich intend to use the last third left standing as a cheap, convenient source of alternative energy when the last of the remaining fossil fuels have been used up and they’ve dispensed with any semblance of security.

Soon there will be no Constitutional rights left at all and the good jobs downsized and outsourced, leaving a desperate crop of willing, low wage labor available here on America’s shores

who’ll soon realize that their ultimate worth as human resource commodities is not a penny more than it takes for the boss to get them back alive to run the line the next work week.

The perfect, obedient field hands and house slaves will do the dirty work and clean crumbs from Massa’s table, cowed and undemanding, patiently anticipating those crumbs for which they’ll be more than grateful.

And since we’re not ready for the gas chamber’s efficiency, the disposables will continue to be cunningly exposed to the staggering multiplicity of unwise lifestyle choices which allow the Rich to kill two birds with one stone.

These parasites were taught by Big Tobacco, that if you use enough money and psychological manipulation Americans can be convinced to buy anything even as it poisons, kills or maims them.

PHDs in psychology employed by Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big Energy, Wall Street Money, Big Law and Lobbying and the Hand Gun and Armaments Industries

write advertising and Public Relations to order for those hiding behind plausible deniability and inject it with the best hypodermic invented, the propaganda distribution mechanism known as TV

to exploit desire, insecurity, shame and fear overlaid with false promises and the lure of temptation. The Seven Deadly Sins are now The Cardinal Virtues and all of them work for the damned corporations.

Policy decisions have already been made to exclude certain targeted groups from access to basic services, material necessities and a reasonable equality of real opportunity.

And decision makers know very well, and desire, the results their choices will effect due to willful, depraved inhuman indifference to poverty, misery and death,

since insufficient deprivation of the Working Class places an unnecessary burden on the Rich, which deprives them of the lifestyle they’re entitled to due to insufficient levels of the margin of profit.

Public necessities like roads, schools and healthcare, regulatory agencies and protecting the environment eat away at the money collected as taxes and could be lining the Rich’s silk pockets.

And rather than pay to dispose of waste products, corporations discharge them into our environment, such as feces from factory farms and toxic oil spills, with costs paid by those who are harmed by them.

When private costs become public expenses, private companies shoulder none of the burden. And the power they wield is a measure of the speed with which they shed responsibility for their actions.

Public Wealth continues to be privatized, as the bulk of The People’s hard-earned tax money gets distributed to private corporations as tax cuts, bail outs, no-bid contracts, abatements and subsidies.

And don’t look for an increase in the minimum wage. People have a right to work for as little as they’ll agree to. People also have the right to starve to death, freeze and die of diseases which are easily-treatable.


You’re depriving your “betters” of 5.85 an hour. Besides, that’s why the Rich invented credit so they can pay themselves instead of paying a living wage with all that interest that they compound on your debt.

The entity formerly known as Society is now an unregulated, pyramid-like garden of greed where the parasites who sit at the top of the heap project their own needs on to Working Class people.

So entire groups of people have been targeted, and designated for compost as “human weeds” then doused with a dose of lethal Right Wing Round Up to clear the financial garden of these pesky “useless eaters”.

The needs of the majority of the American People are looked down on as a repulsive abomination, while mere WANTS of the non-producing Upper Crust become sacraments worthy of religious veneration.

This celebration of greed and acquisitiveness undermines social ties and civic responsibility while sending a clear message to the “human weeds” - think Katrina - that the Poor aren’t legitimate members of society.


Weakness/dependence is now the deadliest of sins precisely because it’s the Rich’s most guarded secret and it’s projected on to chosen groups of scapegoats before the Working Class wakes up and finally sees it.

For the Rich it’s like looking into a mirror at a shocking portrait of a putrid Dorian Gray, harbinger of their post-revolutionary future when workers unite and take their scaffold of labor away.

We disgust them in a direct proportion to their economic dependence on the rest of us whom they speak of as unproductive “bottom feeders”, while it’s the Rich who are really bottom-feeding on us

by commandeering “surplus” value that workers produce, so they can live in opulence by doing nothing at all, leaving the workers a bare minimum to live on for which they’re actually supposed be grateful.

So need, the self-anointed aristocracy’s secret shame, becomes punishable by death when it’s exhibited by the “expendable” two-thirds of American society and it’s for this reason they’re the ones chosen to die.

And the Rich are willing to do anything, literally, to convince us there’s no alternative to capitalism’s “facts”. They keep us crushed down by debt and at work every minute but most important, we need to be continuously distracted.

For almost 200 years Middle Class numbers were easily controlled, but with unrest at Gilded Age excess and the Great Depression, FDR was allowed to implement a social safety net and save his class’s ass from the revolution that threatened.

Social Security, unemployment, the minimum wage, the G.I. Bill, the 8-hour day and worker safety gave the Working Class a leg up to America’s middle, but created a problem for American plutocracy.

Since we face an increasingly workless world, the Rich have no use for a large middle layer. They’re too expensive in an economic system in which only a few may have wealth accumulation.

The Middle Class expects decent wages and benefits, which cuts into what’s available for accumulation, and since the world is awash in the unemployed, the Rich can use them to take over Middle Class places.

And as privileges granted at mid 20th century have become inconvenient and increasingly out-of-date, they’re being revoked almost as quickly as they were given, since they were only a sop to be taken back anyway.

So the Middle Class represents a different problem. They have too little fear and too much time on their hands. They need to be too poor and too busy to protest so they’re being busted down into the Working Class.

As outsourcing creeps up the economic ladder the Middle Class becomes so much easier to handle, complicit in their silence as their brothers are suicided, clutching tightly to their possessions and the illusion of status.

And as more and more groups of people become scapegoats the Middle Class will be able to vent its rage and its frustration on people whom it’s safe for them to blame rather than stand up to the control of the corporations.

There’s no longer even a shred of noblesse oblige, as capitalism comes to its logical conclusion and the Rich White Man can finally shed his Burden through engineering the Free Market’s Final Solution.

415 American billionaires will continue to make a killing and since the fact of our existence actually offends them, they’ll look away as they wash their hands like Pontius Pilate when the auto-genocide they instituted does their work for them.

Since 2003, 800,000 more Americans have no healthcare. Thousands more are standing in Food Bank lines. And over a million more Americans are slipping below the ludicrous, official U.S. Poverty Line.

What used to be investigative oversight, law enforcement and regulatory agencies are now primarily staffed with corporate flacks and operate as wholly-owned subsidiaries

of the industries they’re supposed to be regulating and used to “legally” enable and enforce the economic plunder of America’s treasury by private businesses just as matter of course.

And as a result of strategic campaign “contributions” corporations rewrote the tort and bankruptcy laws to allow them to kill and bankrupt us vicariously without being held to any responsibility at all,

because protecting people from life’s “misfortunes” only encourages them in their economic dependence. Making them responsible for the choices with which they’re presented will eventually teach them an invaluable real life lesson.

If you can’t afford to do it, don’t get sick. Don’t lose your job and then expect to live on government charity. Don’t even THINK about sending your kids to college. And if you die, make sure you can afford to be properly buried.


Small business owners ruined by Big Box stores. People past their use-date on Social Security. Working Class brats who expect to get free college just like affirmative action-abusing minorities.

Losers whose jobs got downsized and outsourced. Unwed mothers using Food Stamps on America’s dime. People who continue to smoke cigarettes. Casino-owning, non-tax-paying Indian tribes.

Shameless people who line up at Food Banks. Non-English-speaking, job-stealing illegal aliens. Factory and farm workers and miners who make too many outrageous workplace injury claims.

Special interest groups like feminist women whining about equal pay and equal opportunity. Inner city dwellers with the nerve to demand public funds to develop their run down communities.

College graduates continually caterwauling they’re a hundred thousand dollars in debt. Drug dealers and users. Prostitutes and pimps. Prisoners, criminals, ex-cons and homeless vets.

Food service workers and retail associates who think they deserve a higher hourly rate. S.S.I. freeloaders. Teachers. Nurses. Government workers who live high off the state.

Deadbeat dads who refuse to support the useless spawn they conceive out of wedlock, and leave them with non-working mothers to be fed, housed, clothed and educated by the rest of us.

People who let all their kids’ teeth rot out instead of making an appointment with a dentist and whine if only they’d had government healthcare they probably would’ve been able to prevent it.

Those who claim that FDA-approved drugs killed one of their precious family members. Parents who produce genetically defective children and blame vaccines for congenital autism.


Uppity ass welfare queens driving Cadillac SUVs. Iraq war vets with PTSS claiming they were injured by IEDS.

High school dropouts. The chronically ill. Low wage workers, both semi and unskilled.

Kids who take free lunches at school. Idiots who scratch off lottery tickets. White trash living in trailer parks. Chinks, ragheads, feminazis, spics and niggers.

Credit card abusers claiming bankruptcy. People who just won’t pay their mortgages. Anyone who refuses to live with the results of their freely-made, consumer lifestyle choices.

They look to a nanny state to protect them any time they cause themselves bodily harm and then expect reputable businesses to pay for it when their injuries are actually all their own fault.

This is exactly why torts were reformed and why they had to tighten up bankruptcy laws. When you let people get dependent on government they refuse responsibility for their actions’ results.


You’re the one who smoked cancer-causing cigarettes ’til you fooled around and got yourself terminally hooked. So what if they boosted the nicotine levels. There’s a warning on the label. You should have just looked.


You drank the water laced with chemical runoff, fluoride and sewerage from factory farms. You could have bought bottled water from corporations if you thought your tap water was doing you harm.

You’re the one who had your kids vaccinated with drugs that were laden with mercury preservatives to keep contamination down and profits up. But there’s no way you can link those facts to autism.

You’re the one living under high intensity lines strung over your house via eminent domain when you should have unloaded that toxic turkey before the bubble burst and devastated real estate.

You chose to live downwind of atomic testing sites and/or work in nuclear-related facilities yet expect to be compensated when you get cancer from 20 years of exposure to radioactivity.

Wasn’t it you who used credit cards and went into debt to charge food, gas, heating oil and medical bills? You’re the one who asked for drugs with lethal side effects and then you attempt to sue the company that sold you the pills.

You opted out of health insurance offered at work just because it took a third of your monthly pay, then expressed surprise when your company’s HMO wouldn’t approve all your trumped-up injury claims.

You’re the one who claims you’re too busy to cook and feeds your family fast food that clogs up their arteries. No one forces you to suck down all that soda full of corn syrup that leads to heart disease, weight problems and diabetes.

The vegetables and fruits that you do decide to buy are watered with toxic runoff and sprayed with pesticides. Didn’t you also buy the meat gassed to stay red for weeks, full of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and e-coli?

You and your kids park your fat, American asses in front of the newest, imported Chinese gadgets and never move a muscle unless you’ve been forced to, let alone exercise or give up your snacking habit.

You use plastic products full of pthalates though the same things are produced for the same price without them for EU and Japan where when they recognize a reproductive system disruptor they have sense enough to institute a pthalate ban.

You’re the one who keeps breathing polluted air and then complains about your asthma and your allergies, but it was you who stopped riding the bus and the train so you could show off your gas-guzzling SUV.


And thanks to those 30-year tax abatements, the schools have little property tax-based funding and grant corporations the right to poison our children because school boards are so desperate for the money.

Corporations pump 80,000 chemicals into our environment, and add an average of seven new ones every day. Many of them have never been tested for safety let alone changes they can make in our DNA.

These toxic, poisoning products are linked to cancer and cause neurological and reproductive damage. They’re everywhere you look and almost everything you touch is made of chemicals and/or toxic, oil-based plastics.

The insecticides sprayed on to country roads and “dusted” over forest, farm and swamp land. More insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers in our homes, on our lawns and lurking in our gardens.

Chemicals used to soften plastics in food wrap, water bottles, shopping bags and storage containers, foam pillows, mattress pads and shower curtains, and lengthen the shelf life of artificial fragrances.

They’re in toothpaste, body wash and hairspray, perfume, toilet paper and “feminine care” products, shave cream, antiperspirants and nail polish, cosmetics, dental amalgams and eye drops,

fabric softeners, baby bottles and toys, pacifiers, disposable diapers and nipples, computer and TV housings, tools and CDS, I-Pods, smart phones and coffee filters,

mouthwash, shampoos and paper towels, laundry and dishwashing detergents and softeners, non-stick cookware, juice boxes and tissues, clothing that’s been dry cleaned in chemical solvents,

in paints and carpeting and plywood used to make our new furniture and kitchen cabinets, household cleaners, air fresheners, varnishes, synthetic clothing, car interiors and cameras,

synthetic hormones used in prescription drugs, that wind up in all our municipal water, agricultural runoff laced with feces, fertilizers, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics,

chemicals improperly stored in underground tanks, acid rain from industrial release of sulfur dioxide, landfills, gasoline additives, secondhand smoke, exhaust from millions of cars on America’s highways.

In the US insecticides, herbicides and fungicides are sprayed directly on to vegetables and fruits and due to contaminated water runoff, suck up more poisonous chemicals through their roots.

30% of insecticides, 60% of herbicides, and 90% of fungicides, according to EPA, are carcinogenic and their residue’s been detected in 50 to 95% of food in the USA.

These poisons also concentrate in the body tissue of all the animals we choose to eat, in fact, 95% of human exposure to dioxin comes from the ingestion of commercial animal fat.


The transfats, the aspartame, the corn syrup, the preservatives, the waxes and the dyes, the meat gassed to stay red for weeks, the propellants, the solvents, e-coli.

Profits are maximized with what appears to be food, but is a highly-processed, chemicalized imitation that looks, tastes, smells and has the mouth-feel of real food but is, in fact, a nutritionless, faux-food creation.

These disease-creating, chemical time bombs are promoted by shock and awe on TV 24/7 - no safety checks, no admission they’re linked to disease - to get us to continue to choose to consume them.

The Senate reported these faux foods may be as damaging as contagious disease was in the early 20th century, yet the producers may induce us to further self-abuse supported by tax breaks, abatements, and Big Ag subsidies.

Ever wonder why toothpaste labels say not to swallow? Because the fluoride in it is known to be a toxic waste product that’s also pumped into our municipal water, thus paying corporations to dispose of their garbage.

The fluoridation of municipal drinking water, done without animal studies or our informed consent, is done with hexafluorosilicic acid, a waste product, not the calcium fluoride found in the natural environment.

This is the most-consumed drug in the United States, deliberately added to water “to prevent tooth decay”. no scientific evidence proves this is so, but they add it to our drinking water anyway.

Hexofluorosilicic acid is a highly toxic chemical, not even similar to calcium fluoride, which costs less. And most of it comes from industrial smoke stack scrubbers which produce phosphate fertilizers and is known to possess

arsenic, radium and lead, which are known to be carcinogens. We bathe in, wash our clothes and our dishes in it. It’s used to grow our food and can it and make sodas. And the amount “acceptable” in our water has continually risen.

Chinese studies have found that fluoride lowers I.Q. Other studies find it alters endocrine function, especially in the thyroid which produces the hormones responsible for regulating growth as well as metabolism.

We’re being drugged like inmates in an asylum, perhaps to keep us unquestioning and passive, since hexafluorosilicic acid is also the main component in anti-psychotic drugs like Prozac, Celebrex and Paxil.

In 1930 Hitler decided he’d need more control. Using force just wasn’t going to be enough to do the trick. He decided to use a “water medication” program. Do I have to tell you fluoride was the medication he picked?

Look again at the label on your fluoridated toothpaste. It says call Poison Control “in the event of an overdose.” You’ll know it by the convulsions and difficulty breathing as your nervous and digestion systems start to go

High Fructose Corn Syrup’s been found to suppress the secretion of leptin and insulin while failing to suppress the secretion of ghrelin, and thus, short-circuiting the body’s metabolism.

Your brain never gets the message that you’re full and keeps receiving one that tells it you’re hungry. American obesity became epidemic with the flood of HFCS into our food in the 80s.

Other sugar substitutes, like aspartame and sucralose, come with warnings printed right there on the labels, admitting, that like tobacco, they come with known health risks but profit’s always going to trump consumer safety.

The transfats in processed foods prolong the shelf life of nutritionless, food-like products that we eat, but they don’t breakdown at less than 300 degrees, and you’re 98.6, so they harden in your arteries.

And just when you think that you’re eating real foods, they may be Genetically Modified Organisms, and since Congress agrees we don’t need to know what we’re eating, Big Ag isn’t obligated to label them.

Morgellons Disease manifests as itchy lesions on the skin oozing tiny plastic-like, fibers in blue, black and red. It produces sensations of something crawling under the skin, chronic fatigue, a weakened immune system and severe depression.

Police forensic experts could not identify these fibers, but a researcher extracted DNA from them. A biochemist found they contain “Agrobacterium” used by Big Ag to make GMO plants.

US corporations use chemicals, additives and practices that most other civilized nations have banned. And their waste is packaged for sale rather than disposed of, which makes the US the world’s largest garbage can.

US corporations used to send these banned substances to unregulated economies in “developing” nations. Now the tables have turned and outsourced US goods become imports that poison our own population.

Because FDA oversight is deemed too expensive, Consumer Products Safety Commission has only fifteen men in all of the ports in the United States to inspect transnationals’ products imported into “The Homeland.”

Cancer-causing formaldehyde off-gasses from glue in our Chinese-made kitchen cabinets and furniture which is illegal in many countries, China included, though there are low-cost, chemical-free alternatives.

What do you THINK gave the Chinese the idea they could use glycol in toothpaste and lead paint on toys? It’s patently clear that US transnationals could care less about poisoning pets or American girls and boys.

There are now nearly 100 auto-immune diseases in which the body seems to turn and attack itself. Almost 24 million Americans have these diseases. Perhaps you have one or know of somebody else

who has myasthenia gravis or scleroderma, lupus, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome or hemolytic anemia, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo or vasculitis.

Collectively they’re America’s #2 cause of chronic illness and their incidence has been rising for thirty years. Scientists believe they’re triggered by our changing environment and since it’s particularly in industrial nations that they appear,

the scientists refer to them as “The Western Disease” and believe heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides and toxins are the cause of the worldwide autoimmune epidemic. And this proliferation causes massive corporate profits.

The US has no precautionary guidelines for chemical use and 1200 “superfund” sites have leaked deadly toxins into the US environment for the past thirty years How many still need cleaning up? Try 1200. That’s ALL of them.

The EU implemented REACH in 2007, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of CHemical Substances. It requires corporations to develop safety data on 30,000 chemicals and the cost “could run into the billions of dollars for US industry.”

With REACH, EU applies the precautionary principle, an approach that underscores preventing harm to human health and places responsibility on the chemical industry to demonstrate safety before their products reach the shelf.

In the US regulatory agencies shift the burden of proof, assuming product safety and allowing them to be marketed, thus conducting experimental product trials on people and if they OOPS! kill us then they must be dangerous products.

The United States practically invented consumer safety, but lags behind EU, and often China, Mexico and Japan. Corporations say Americans don’t need the precautionary principle because tort laws allow compensation financially

and that large punitive damages deter corporations from the marketing and sales of harmful products for profit. But this lie is laid bare by the millions spent lobbying to set damages and liability near rock bottom.

The favorite corporate trick is “Blame the Victim” on which the US public health system is actually based. Thus cancer prevention is a personal lifestyle responsibility rather than keeping carcinogens out of our environment in the first place.

EU, however, is requiring tests not only on new products, but on 62,000 Washington grandfathered-in without review when Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act in ‘76. (Oh, what’s a poor American transnational to do?!)

One large, well-known corporation’s been forced to take out suspected endocrine disruptors and known carcinogens from its products for distribution in EU, while insisting its originals are safe and good enough for Americans.

These products, practices and procedures ensure we eat, drink and breathe in all of these poisons and spend the days of our lives swimming, literally, in a chemically-polluted, environmental toilet.

It’s one thing to risk your life on experimental drug treatment when nothing else exists, but it’s really quite different to be experimented on as corporations weigh the cost of lawsuits against the benefits of profit.

They claim they don’t know these things are linked to disease, like Big Tobacco had no idea cigarettes caused cancer. You don’t drop dead instantly, but it doesn’t mean they’re not deadly. “Is it safe?” is the question corporations won’t answer.


You’re being invited to play Russian Roulette with your life. “Name your poison” is the only choice you’re going to get. And when they get you to admit it was your choice to use it you agree you’re the cause of their deadly effect.

Big Pharma and Big Insurance get to profit from all the sickness and the suffering that’s created, as the world’s most advanced medical technology gets auctioned off with access restricted to those who can pay for it.

In fact, corporations take out millions in insurance on their employees without their knowledge or their consent. And both corporations and insurers refer to these policies as life insurance on “dead janitors” and “dead peasants”.

Each policy runs into 100s and 1,000s of dollars and there are often multiple policies on one employee. So as 100s of 1,000s of American workers die, corporations collect their death benefits tax free.

Over 3,000 banks hold over 56 billion in “dead janitor” and “dead peasant” policies and this covert corporate bonanza can follow you as you move from job to job via Social Security.

Thus auto-genocide culls the minorities, the sick, the disabled and the elderly, the dropouts, the immigrants, the homeless, and the damaged goods returned by the military,

the under and unemployed, the hungry, mis-educated children, prisoners and single moms, entire ethnic groups and whole social classes are scapegoated and then economically stun gunned.

The dissidents, the intellectuals, the artists, those used up and discarded by American industry. As they work up through the Poor, then hit the Middle Class, those left behind will soon get used to the inhumanity

and sigh with relief it’s not them when they see their brothers headed down the chute for self-slaughter. The only thing missing from this Nazi fantasy extravaganza is railroad tracks, concentration camps and cattle cars.

It’s easy to get disease-causing, chemicals and foods, illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco and hand guns, addictive prescription and non-prescription drugs. Easy credit traps and Pay Day loans abound

while access to education, healthcare and shelter, heating oil and representative democracy are reserved for the highest of bidders in the stratosphere of American plutocracy.

We The People and Democracy are a joke to them and they laugh as they watch us clean their gold toilets, mow their lawns, raise their kids and clean their houses, while they wallow in their obscene lifestyle choices.

We let them send off our precious children to fight illegal wars for oil and profit. No wonder they think we’ll willingly kill ourselves by the myriad means they’ve provided for us.

Public education? They prefer we buy our knowledge, and of course, only the sort they prefer to be known. No money? Stay ignorant. Forget about college. Higher education is a prerogative of the well born.

Public transportation? Buy one of those pricey gas guzzlers then pay Big Insurance and Big Energy through the nose. Public roads and highways? Use privately-owned toll roads. Can’t get to your job? Then you’ll just have to starve and stay home.

Public libraries contain unauthorized information. We’ll have to buy our own books if we want to investigate. Public elections will no longer be feasible since we can’t afford to buy what we want to have legislated.

Public protection by police and fire departments? Buy insurance and hire some private security. And pay whatever it is that’s demanded by privatized, not “communist” public utilities.


No EPA will monitor poisons in earth, air and water. Profits will no longer be slashed by wage and safety laws. Bosses will set wages, hours and working conditions. As Maggie Thatcher said, “Shut up and take what you’re offered.”

The FDA and USDA will be ancient history. If products kill enough people, there’ll be complaints. And when people stop buying the offending products, they’ll stop making them when profit is no longer made.

Airplane crashes are just another cost of doing business like all those unnecessary maintenance and equipment checks. And the safety features required on most modern cars are just another, unnecessary corporate expense.

They can continue to conduct undisclosed drug trials on uninformed members of the American military and expose them to mutagens like depleted uranium, which gets rid of some and deforms others’ progeny.

They can speed up the lines at factories and slaughterhouses, demanding more work in the same block of time. Injuries and death are just a business expense as wages stagnate and profits keep climbing.

Farmers don’t keep animals that don’t pay for their keep That’s the reason used when the culling gets started. When the powerful make those same decisions about people, the Poor and the powerless are the first ones to be targeted.

Murder is just a symbol of their economic power. And they think it’s their right to be the ones to decide that in order to make them more rich and/or comfortable, some of their brothers and sisters will just have to die.

Auto-genocide serves to hide the glaring deficiencies of White Anglo Saxon American capitalism. And as job opportunities and resource availability shrink, auto-genocide becomes an efficient economic decision.

Non and negative producers are too expensive, but they still need food, shelter and medical care. By removing the security of government programs, they can be culled while the Rich take their share.

Others can be shunted into part-time jobs with no benefits that pay less than living wages. Powerless workers can also be forced into undesirable jobs that are inherently dangerous.

Downsizing public transportation systems keeps them in the Bantustans where they belong. With no access to better jobs and education, it’s just a matter of time ’til enough of them are gone.

Medicaid and TANF have to be ended immediately. Those welfare queens will be summarily directed to work to earn their keep just like the rest of us in low-wage employment in the burgeoning service sector.

Social Security and Medicare will no longer deprive Big Pharma and Big Insurance of their profit. Can’t afford insurance and brand-name prescriptions? Got a serious disease? Then die of it.

By keeping health insurance and medical care priced out of range of these same targeted groups, they can be driven to bankruptcy and homelessness and easily controlled as the Rich tighten the noose.

Further, divide them. Set them all against each other. When they’re isolated and in chaos chances are slim they’ll put aside their differences and get together to take up a stand against the capitalist system.

Underfund education where “useless eaters” concentrate. Mis-educate the rest with only “facts” of which you approve. Soon they’ll be goose-stepping in line with the Rich’s interests even as they’re the ones who are obviously losing.

All class action suits will have to come to a halt. From now on it’ll be one versus the corporations, which is a collective form that the Rich may take while the rest of us are increasingly barred from unionization.

And when the collective membership of a corporation takes each of us on one at a time there is no contest. Congress, regulatory agencies and the courts are paid off so the average American cannot afford to buy justice.


By using plausible - though not probable - deniability to deny links from products to injury and death, they employ the “use it, drop dead immediately” rule. (Karl Rove was a tobacco market consultant.)

And in this way mass murderers can poison, injure, assault and inject with perfect impunity as their products and practices produce slow-motion death and are even grandfathered-in for perfect immunity.

When they know for a fact - see Big Tobacco memos - that their products can poison and injure and murder for years without any drop in their profits at all, there’s no reason for them to shoulder any burden.

And when the public does learn what’s been killing them, corporations have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Nyah nyah nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah nyah. Tort “reform” negated injury laws.

[”Tort reform” is a deliberately deceptive phrase coined for Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Energy, Big Ag, Wall Street, the Gun Club and Tobacco by their lawyers and their lobbyists in the 80s.

The average citizen won’t get a day in court, the “matter” is diverted to an Alternative Dispute-Resolution Provider in a profiteering, alternative private legal system over which retired judges paid by the ADRPs preside.

Citizens are barred from court via binding arbitration clauses hidden in forms they signed with banks and real estate firms, hospitals, other medical care providers and car dealers and other businesses that could potentially cause them harm.

Private courts have been marketed as “faster and cheaper” and they’ve been one hell of a bargain for corporations, depriving those injured or the families of those killed of their day in court and adequate compensation.

There’s no public or media access. No rules of procedure or evidence apply. There’s no court transcript, no jury and no appeal. NO MATTER WHAT. Your fate’s been decided.

So just as government looked the other way for Big Tobacco because addicted smokers didn’t die immediately, the creation of this for-profit, private legal system enshrines the legitimacy of plausible deniability

allowing corporations to harvest profits off dead bodies, since their products’ effects have all been deferred. And Big Tobacco still spends billions yearly to market its slow-motion death machine all over the world.

The real object of all this disgusting hypocrisy is the justice system begun by the founding fathers to protect average citizens from just such private justice which is the legalization of corporate murder for profit.]

Plausible deniability pulls the wool over our eyes as we stampede, lemming-like to engineered suicide. And since there’s little or no evidence to trace back to them there’s no accountability for this most perfect crime.

We submit to those claiming authority, because it’s easier than thinking for ourselves, and we give silent consent to their parasitic manifest destiny, as we do their wet work for them by willingly killing ourselves.

There’ll be no comfortable retirement for you. If you’ve got a job, you’ll drop dead there on the line. All we are is notches on their metaphorical gun. and remember they want two-thirds of us dead - not alive.

So those of our brothers who can no longer keep up the competitive lifestyle underwriting capitalism are destined for socially-engineered self-execution since it’s cheaper and easier than helping them

unless help is putting that metaphorical gun into the hand of an “unnecessary” brother, and helping him to raise it up to his head so it appears he’s the one doing the culling,

or putting actual guns into the hands of other brothers and selling products that poison people and the environment. Multiply that by thousands more disposable brothers and watch the bodies pile up along with the profits.

Carefully-orchestrated scarcity and restrictions are the future planned for us who comprise The Many so The Few who have more than they could ever use can appropriate the very last American penny.


Some have to die so that others can live well. But swiftness of implementation? Oh no, that wouldn’t be safe! The obvious exposure of their modus operandi was Hitler’s and the Nazi’s one fatal mistake.

Thus the auto-genocide will be carried out slowly so it’s hard to see and that’s the beauty of the method. Results don’t easily track back to the instigators, and the blame can easily be laid at the feet of the dead.

That way enough “useless eaters” can be culled to let Earth heal while the Rich idle on country estates, allowing them to recuperate as they contemplate more exploitation, murder and rape at a future date

since they have an entitlement to live in obscene decadence while we have none to food, water, shelter and medication. Elimination for some is thus intentional, essential, if the Rich are to regroup and do it all over again.


FEMA R.E.X. 84 allows military bases to be closed down and converted into prisons. In 2006, KBR, a subsidiary of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton was given

a multi-million dollar contract to build detention-processing capabilities to expand Immigration’s Detention and Removal Operation’s facilities

in order to house people in the event of an emergency influx of illegal immigrants, a national disaster or any “NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS IN NEED OF RAPID DEVELOPMENT.”

World War II Japanese Internment Camps are also in the process of being rehabilitated. With the addition of German/Italian POW Camps, over 800 of these facilities are now operational.

These newly-refurbished Halliburton concentration camps, each capable of holding an average of 20,000 souls, have railroad tracks constructed for ease of access and most are located conveniently near local airports.

Gas pipes run the length of many of these buildings. What’s the US government planning to do? Could the Army’s 2005 declassified document, “Civilian Inmate Labor Program” be meant for you?

The largest is a massive mental health facility outside Fairbanks, Alaska to hold two million. In the event we’re dissatisfied with our financial lot, we can sign on with KBR and get a “job” in prison.

Not satisfied with the standard of living you’ve been given? Bush 41 said “The U.S. way of life is not negotiable.” But to which group of Americans was he referring? It’ll soon be clear if you’re the one targeted for disposal.

Pagers, cell phones and video games. Palm pilots, Blackberries and now On*Star. Computers, plasma TVs and Bluetooth. HDTV and even TV in cars.

Screens displaying 11 competing sports channels, celebrity gossip, reality shows and I-Pods. Soon we’ll be implanted with R.F.I.D. chips so they can track us down like runaway scurvy dogs.


This technology tornado keeps us distracted - and tracked. Think cookies, RFID chips and GPS. They multiply ’til you’re not even able to hear yourself think because in silence you might have the time to reflect.

And HORRORS, you might start to think for yourself!!!

Being an informed consumer or an informed citizen means you know what you’re voting for or opting to eat. It’s really no choice when you don’t know the side effects like loss of liberty or the onset of deadly diseases.

As long as you’re actually informed, it’s like smoking. There’s a warning label. The choice is yours to make. But if you don’t know what you’re voting for or eating freedom of choice from among bad choices is a fatal mistake.

Yes, we did this to ourselves, but we had billions of dollars worth of help from the Corporate Pusher Man, to mainline psychological manipulation and suggestion into American homes via TV 24/7.

American citizens have gone the way of the buffalo. We’re all obedient consumer-fascists now, changed by the Circe of corporate advertising into callous, self-interested consumer-sows.


European financiers approved of the American Civil War and hoped it would return the US to colonial status. And they weren’t interested in preserving physical slavery, since they preferred their slavery on the European Plan

which was outlined in the 1862 Hazard Circular British financiers distributed to American bankers to institute slavery based on debt via control of the money supply and thereby American labor

because physical slavery entails the OWNING of labor and necessitates the care and feeding of the slaves. Debt slavery forces the slaves to fend for themselves and costs only a bare minimum in subsistence wages.


In addition, ease of borrowing can keep wage slaves spending and easily controlled by debt-induced stress. Credit/debit cards, car and college loans, mortgages, Rent to Own, Pay Day loans and ATMs.

And where credit is a substitute for a living wage, the interest on it subsidizes predatory lenders. And the shackles of the wage slaves’ debt are forged when wages equal interest on the debt.

Any wage above interest payments is returned to slavers when it’s spent on life’s necessities. And while many lose their jobs, the majority are kept in check by cheap goods meant to accommodate slave wages.

Further, when workers are encouraged to own things, no matter how infinitesimal their holdings, they begin to envision themselves as owners and cease to identify with the working majority.

Their teeny little piece of the market, mutual funds, a 401K or a mortgage, creates a psychological shift to the delusion that their interests now coincide with the bosses’.

Then they vote as if they were part of the Over Class even when that’s against their own best interests, for the improvement of stock market performance rather than vote to better existing job conditions.

Though stock ownership is a relatively small part of the majority of the average American’s earnings, the amateur investor soon shifted his loyalty in the face of frantic downsizing and outsourcing

When layoffs were announced this new “investor class” identified not with their brothers who were losing their living but called brokers to BUY! shares of the same corporations that were decimating jobs and American industries.

But with the subprime crisis these same investor/owners now find they’re on the other end of the bargain as they raid their modest401K pieces of the market to avoid foreclosure and pay off their exploding mortgages

on homes where they can no longer open the door and say “Welcome to my piece of private property” since they now ARE property in the Society of the Owned, victims of mass eviction from the Ownership Society.

As they drown in medical bills, college loans and credit card debt and watch the price of food and energy skyrocket they realize that they’ve been seduced and abandoned and left holding a tar baby of permanent debt.


We ignore children who slave for us in sweat shops in East Asia. We “tut, tut” to hear they’re literally eating dirt in Haiti and condemn parents forced to sell their little boys and little girls into prostitution in order to feed their families.

We work hard not to know how NAFTA’s devastated Mexico and how IMF and World Bank plunge countries into bankruptcy by shackling them with chains of unsustainable debt servitude so they’ll submit to transnational economic raping.

We turn a deaf ear to the greed of Big Chemicals and Big Ag that’s caused the suicides of thousands of India’s farmers and live in denial that several large corporations are completing the privatization of all the world’s water.

We shrug off murder, rape and genocide in Africa as long as it secures the coltan for our new cell phones. We won’t look at the blood that’s dripping from diamonds as long as they’re set into our engagement stones.

We don’t trouble our beautiful minds about the children killed and orphaned by American shock and awe bombs and we soon forget those left homeless by Katrina as long as the destitute families aren’t ours.

We accept the corporate version of what passes for news and avoid seeing wounded vets and flag-draped coffins or the blood and brain-spattered bodies of Afghans and Iraqis as long as the plasma’s got Soaps or the Big Game on.

Oh it’s all just too bad. But there is no alternative. And after all they’re just underdeveloped savages. So we look over or under, around and through it because to see it would actually implicate us.

And the Rich beneficiaries of transnational corporations actually feel the same way that you do about rape and starvation and child sexual slavery even when the one that it’s happening to is you.

This Over Class feels for you and your children just as you do about the suffering and death of others. It’s just that they’ve been able to run a game on you and make you believe they’d even consider you as their brother.

Like family dogs chained outside to boxes alone in the bitter winter cold by “animal lovers” and cats run down deliberately on country roads because they’re “sneaky and eat birds that are valued by hunters”

or male baby chicks the egg industry finds useless quickly separated, gassed, macerated or tossed into a dumpster and stomped by poultry workers to make room for more bodies while many of them are still peeping for their mothers

or adult chickens chained upside down by their feet and boiled alive to make your favorite chicken nuggets or fully conscious cattle hoisted and ripped from throat to groin and dismembered to be ground up for your burgers


or perhaps tiny raccoon dogs skinned alive in China as “acceptable” fur for American toys and clothes, little eyes alive with pain as all their nerves ends are exposed when they’re tossed on a pile of bodies and left to die slowly

or domestic pets like dogs, eaten as delicacies in Eastern markets, legs broken, pulled over their backs and trussed like turkeys, whose eyes plead “Tell me what did I do to deserve this?” as they wait in excruciating pain to be someone’s entree.

This is EXACTLY the amount of empathy you can expect as you and your children are killed silently, slowly by the foods you eat, the air you breathe and the water that you drink. Did you really think the Rich would give YOU an alternative?

The Fortunate 400 whores will never allow the rest of us into their Platinum Circle. It’s enough we breathe their air and drink their precious water. But, wait a minute. They’re making us pay for it!

Why do you THINK you drink bottled water and suck an inhaler? And what’s with all these new autoimmune diseases? What is it in those chemtrails that they’re spraying on us? And why do 300 US areas have air that’s too dirty to breathe?

And in addition to the profits that the poisoners enjoy, there’s a bonanza for the medical establishment and doctors who profit handsomely by treating the symptoms of diseases and looking the other way when it comes to finding the causes.

They’re ripping the lungs out of the planet by deforestation to plant GMO corn to feed exhaust-spewing SUVs and GMO soy for four-legged burger machines contributing to climate change with methane from their feces.

REAL, non-GMO food seeds are being secreted away in a private vault in Svalbard deep under the Arctic by Bill Gates, Monsanto, Syngenta and the Rockefellers now that they own the patents on all of the plant life.

So when the rest of the planet’s been devastated, the Rich will start this all over again, using the last third left standing as slave labor who’ll submissively grovel to get Massa’s few crumbs.

They already own 80% of our food. They’re buying up what’s left of the water, too. They own the energy/fuel and access to medicine. But wait! Doesn’t that mean they own you?


But go ahead, keeping breathing and bathing in poisons. Give your kids HFCS, GMOs, transfats and fluoride. Why not just shoot them up with a hot shot of heroin rather than condemn them to slow-motion suicide?

You’re doing the Over Class’s killing for them and paying them for the privilege of doing it, too. Ask not, Working Class America, for whom the bell tolls. Wake up and smell the coffee. It’s tolling for you.


“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich lest we get it.” - Edward Dowling

“There is no subjugation so perfect as that which keeps the illusion of freedom, for in that way one captures volition itself.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“The illusion of freedom will continue for as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” - Frank Zappa

“We have stricken the shackles from 4,000,000 human beings and brought all labourers to a common level, but not so much by the elevation of former slaves as by reducing the whole working population, white and black, to a condition of serfdom. While boasting of our noble deeds, we have manipulated a system of oppression which, though more refined, is no less cruel than the old system of chattel slavery.” - Horace Greely

“The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it.” - Dr. Josef Mengele

“Give me control over a man’s economic actions, and hence over his means of survival, and except for a few occasional heroes, I’ll promise to deliver to you men who think and write and behave as I want them to.” - Benjamine A. Rooge

“Permit me to control the money of a nation and I care not who makes the laws.” - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” - Henry Kissinger (See his 1974 NSSM for drastic population control.)

“We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” - David Rockefeller, to a 1991 meeting of the Trilateral Commission

“Those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right - the right of the superior to rule over the inferior.” - Leo Strauss

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

“Find out what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” - Frederick Douglass

“To know truth is to have power. News is what powerful people don’t want you to know. Everything else is public relations.” - Bill Moyers

“Reason obeys itself; ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.” - Thomas Paine

“Education makes a man unfit to be a slave.” - Frederick Douglass

“I do not see why an insolence of caste should prevent the gifted class, when they had the power, from treating their compatriots with all kindness, so long as they maintained celibacy. But if these continued to procreate children inferior in moral, intellectual and pyhsical qualities, it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered as enemies to the State, and to have forfeited all claims to kindness.” - Francis Galton, English Eugenics Society

“Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly… Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to maintenance of those who should never have been born.” - Margaret Sanger

“American Eugenics was conceived at the onset of the twentieth century and was implemented by America’s wealthiest, most powerful, most learned and most influential individuals and institutions, including the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Harriman railroad fortune (the Bush family fortune comes from deep, intimate business relationships with the Harriman family), Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, the American Medical Association, Margaret Sanger, Robert Yerkes, Woodrow Wilson, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Genetic Association and a sweeping array of government agencies from the obscure Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to the U.S. State Department. / American eugenicists sought to methodically terminate all the racial groups, ethnic groups and social classes they disliked, feared or deemed a threat to established power, then or later on. / Their goal was to sterilize fourteen million people in the United States and millions more worldwide - the “lower tenth.” Afterwards, they planned to eradicate the remaining lower tenth until only a pure Nordic super race remained on the face of the earth. / American eugenicists exported their philosophy to nations throughout the world including Nazi Germany. More, American elite, through foundations, gave grants to Germany for its eugenics program. / The American Eugenics Society was organized in 1921, following the Second International Conference on Eugenics held in New York City in that year. In 1972, the American Eugenics Society was reorganized and renamed The Society for the Study of Social Biology.” - Martha Rose Crow

“Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.” - Thomas Paine

Poet and part-time actor Viola Ransel is a Senior Contributing Editor with CJO.

A series of hidden texts written by the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being revealed by US scientists

[Thanks to jamesbennett for this link]
X-rays reveal Archimedes' secrets
By Jonathan Fildes Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Until now, the pages have remained obscured by paintings and texts laid down on top of the original writings.

Using a non-destructive technique known as X-ray fluorescence, the researchers are able to peer through these later additions to read the underlying text.

The goatskin parchment records key details of Archimedes' work, considered the foundation of modern mathematics.

The writings include the only Greek version of On Floating Bodies known to exist, and the only surviving ancient copies of The Method of Mechanical Theorems and the Stomachion.

In the treatises, the 3rd Century BC mathematician develops numerical descriptions of the real world.

"Archimedes was like no-one before him," says Will Noel, curator of manuscripts and rare books at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and director of the imaging project.

"It just doesn't get any better than re-reading the mind of one of the greatest figures of Western civilisation."

'Eighth wonder'

Revealing Archimedes' writings presents a huge challenge to the imaging team.

The original texts were transcribed in the 10th Century by an anonymous scribe on to parchment.

Imaging a page for sulphur content, using helium (Credit: SLAC, Diana Rogers)
Each page takes 12 hours to reconstruct

Three centuries later a monk in Jerusalem called Johannes Myronas recycled the manuscript to create a palimpsest.

Palimpsesting involves scraping away the original text so the parchments can be used again. To create a book, the monk cut the pages in half and turned them sideways.

To create a book Myronas also used recycled pages from works by the 4th Century Orator Hyperides and other philosophical texts.

Mr Noel describes the palimpsest as "the eighth wonder of the world".

"You never get three unique palimpsested texts from the ancient world together in one book," he told the BBC News website. "That's just completely unheard of."

The monks filled the recycled pages with Greek Orthodox prayers.

It's like receiving a fax from the 3rd Century BC
Will Noel

Later, forgers in the 20th Century added gold paintings of religious imagery to try to boost the value of the tome.

The result was the near total obliteration of the original texts apart from faint traces of the ink used by the 10th Century Scribe.

Bright light

Previously the privately-owned palimpsest has been investigated using various optical and digital imaging techniques.

However, much of the text remained hidden behind paint and stains.

The researchers have now turned to a technique known as X-ray fluorescence to tease out the final details of the writings.

Pages from the Archimedes Palimpsest
The palimpsest contains pages from several bodies of work

The method is used in many branches of science including geology and biology. It has previously been used by other researchers to decode ancient texts.

In August 2005 a team from Cornell University successfully deciphered a series of 2,000-year-old worn down stone inscriptions.

The X-rays are formed in a synchrotron - a particle accelerator that uses electrons travelling at close to the speed of light to generate powerful "synchrotron" light.

The light covers a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum, including powerful X-rays, a million times more intense than a transmission X-ray used in medical imaging.

"In fluorescence it's like looking at the stars at night whereas in transmission it's like looking during the day," explains Dr Uwe Bergmann of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lab in the US, where the work is being done.

The light enables scientists to look inside matter at the molecular and atomic scale.

Glowing words

The technique is particularly useful for probing the palimpsest because the ink used by the scribe to record Archimedes' work contains iron.

"When the X-rays hit an iron atom it emits a characteristic radiation, it glows," says Dr Bergmann. "When you record the glow you can reconstruct an image of all of the iron in the book."

Equilibrium of Planes
Spiral Lines
The Measurement of the Circle
Sphere and Cylinder
On Floating Bodies
The Method of Mechanical Theorems

The glowing words are displayed on a computer screen, giving the researchers the first glimpse of the text in nearly 800 years.

"It's like receiving a fax from the 3rd Century BC," said Mr Noel. "It's the most sensational feeling."

Each page takes 12 hours to reconstruct as the highly focused beam of X-rays, the width of a human hair, sweeps across the page.

The team have until the 7 August this year to scrutinise the palimpsest, before the synchrotron is switched off for maintenance.

During that time they hope to scan between 12 and 14 pages, paying particular attention to the areas covered with the forged paintings.

The public can watch the researchers as they reveal the glowing ancient text during a live webcast at 2300 GMT on 4 August.

Perspectives of Finklestein's Deportation from Israel * From Iran: Israel deports Zionist critic Finkelstein The Zionist regime has deported Jewish-American academic Norman Finkelstein, the mass-selling Israeli Ha'aretz daily said. Finkelstein " is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon," and because he " did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions, an Israeli daily quoted the Shin Bet security organization as saying. * From Israel: Israel turns away academic Finkelstein ... The Israeli security source said interrogators were not persuaded that Finkelstein answered their questions fully. * From Palestine: Israeli authorities imprison, deport and ban Jewish professor from Israel ... He told the press, "I was kept in a holding cell at the airport for approximately 24 hours. It wasn't a Belgian bed-and-breakfast, but it wasn't Auschwitz either. I had several unpleasant moments with the guards at the airport and in the holding cell, but since martyrdom is not my cup of tea, I'll spare you the details." He insisted that he is “not an enemy of Israel”, and that Israel has absolutely no reason to exclude him from the country. Said Finkelstein friday, “Apart from my political views, and the supporting scholarship, there isn't much more to say for myself: alas, no suicide missions or secret rendezvous with terrorist organizations. I've always supported a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders." *

One Vagabond Artist's Plea for Peace

If you love art, love peace If you love beauty, love peace If you love women, love peace If you love smooth skin, love peace If you love making love, love peace If you love growing old together, love peace If you love hearing children's laughter, love peace If you love seeing your kids with their kids, love peace If you love eating good food, love peace If you love smelling clean air, love peace If you love peace, work for it; never be deluded into thinking that war is peace.

Citizen Nader: From Prophet to Punch Line

Written by Greg Guma
Monday, 26 May 2008

Source: Maverick Media

ImageWhen Ralph Nader announced his fourth bid for the US presidency on NBC in February 2004, shortly after Howard Dean’s insurgent Democratic campaign imploded, he described his goal as building a "second front" in the fight to defeat George W. Bush. "Can we tolerate four more years of Bush," he asked rhetorically, answering with a no. In a June letter to contributors, he wrote, "No one wants to defeat George W. Bush more than I do."

Yet, the official reason he entered the race was John Kerry’s refusal to negotiate with him, agreeing to adopt some of Nader’s positions in exchange for a promise not to run. Nader spent much of that campaign drawing contrasts with both Bush and Kerry on health insurance, a living wage, global trade, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. "Kerry chooses to stay the course with the corporate and military wing of the Democratic Party," he charged.

Now 74 years old and running for the fifth time, he argues that if he doesn’t the Republican and Democratic candidates won’t move their platforms toward talking about his issues – corporate control, livable wages and consumer protection. But that didn’t happen in 2004. Instead, it turned Democrats into the electoral equivalent of abusive hallway monitors, waiting for any excuse to report minor infractions by a star student now classified as a political delinquent. Rather than pushing Kerry to the left, his run prompted Democrats to push back.

In the end, he didn’t get the chance to participate in the presidential debates and had no visible impact on the campaign. Even though he was on the ballot in 34 states, he received less than half a million votes, a mere 0.4 percent. Four years earlier, he got almost six times as many, close to three million votes.

There is no doubt that Nader has made enormous contributions as a consumer advocate, beginning with his 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, which tackled automobile safety issues. Inspired by Nader, young activists joined him on subsequent projects, becoming known as "Nader's Raiders." Public Citizen, founded in 1971, grew into an effective monitoring group that helped to pass the Safe Water Drinking and Freedom of Information Acts. It also prompted the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That said, his move into presidential politics has been far less effective. When he ran in the both the GOP and Democratic New Hampshire primaries in 1992, he polled only 3,000 in each, out of a total of 350,000 votes cast. In 1996, as the Green Party candidate, he received 685,000 votes, or 0.8 percent. The 2000 race produced his best showing, but some blamed him for helping Bush win.

Asked recently by MSNBC's Tim Russert if his latest run could prevent a Democratic victory, Nader replied, "Not a chance. If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, and emerge in a different form." He’s probably right about his potential impact. But the real question is whether running will clarify anything, or instead help to discredit the positions he espouses if his vote is again disappointing. Jay Leno recently joked about his drawing power: "Obama spoke before 75,000 people at a rally in Oregon," he noted. "75,000. That’s the equivalent of 75,000 Ralph Nader rallies."

Nader and his supporters claim that he runs in order to get different views a hearing in the mainstream media. What views? The size of the defense budget, for example, and the need to use some of that money to fix domestic problems like health care, education and public works. Yet his four previous attempts to do this have failed, providing both the media and "mainstream" politicians with an excuse to claim that such an agenda has little popular support. It could even be argued that Nader’s presence allows the Democratic candidate to position him/herself between a Left agenda and the Right-wing extremism of the Republicans.

The larger reason for Nader’s campaigns, as he explains it, is to move the US toward a "diverse, multiple-choice, multiple-party democracy, the way they have in Western Europe and Canada." That’s why, although he sometimes acknowledges that a Democratic president would be somewhat different than a Republican, the basic thrust of all Nader campaigns has been that both big parties are essentially the same, their candidates just tweedledumb and tweedledumber.

Will his independent candidacy – especially if it disappoints expectations – set the stage for such a paradigm shift? The Electoral College process, restrictive ballot access rules, closed presidential debates, and government campaign funds make it virtually impossible for either an independent or a "third party" to mount a credible challenge. A Constitutional amendment – not a very likely development – would be just the beginning.

Candidates outside the two "major parties" can of course have an impact on the outcome. For example, they can deny a candidate the popular vote in enough states to influence the final electoral tally. That’s the rap on Nader’s 2000 campaign. But the best example is 1912, when former president Teddy Roosevelt received 27 percent as a third-party candidate. By splitting the Republican vote, he helped Democrat Woodrow Wilson become president. On the other hand, Ross Perot got 19 percent in 1992 and yet no one can prove his presence helped Bill Clinton or hurt George Bush.

At this point, Nader clearly can be classified as a perennial candidate, a club whose mascot is surely Harold Stassen, the Minnesota governor who ran nine times. At first, in 1948 and 1952, he was considered a serious contender. By 1992, however, he‘d become a source of late night TV jokes. The club also includes the Socialist Party’s Norman Thomas (six times), who did influence Roosevelt’s New Deal; Eugene V. Debs (five), whose 1920 run while in federal prison netted 913,664 votes, the most ever for a Socialist Party candidate; Prohibition Party candidate Early Dodge (six); Communist Party USA leader Gus Hall (four); Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy (five), whose effective 1968 campaign influenced Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek another term; and Lyndon LaRouche (eight), a political cult leader who also once campaigned from behind bars.

Nader is also sounding a bit cranky these days. At a recent campaign stop, he didn’t just downplay the value of computers and the Internet. He lectured his audience about good old days before the Information Age. Nader doesn't use Google; in fact, he doesn't have a computer. His means of communication is an Underwood typewriter. That might appeal to the 20 million households without Internet access, mostly people over 65 or with no education beyond high school. But since Nader gets almost no TV or print coverage, they’ll probably never find out.

How will candidate Nader be remembered? So far, he hasn’t achieved the impact of either Norman Thomas or Gene McCarthy. In 2008, he runs the risk of running behind Bob Barr, a former Republican running as the Libertarian candidate. A Zogby poll recently put them both around three and four percent, but the Election Day outcome could be considerably lower. The danger is that Nader may become another Stassen, or worse, the godfather of a Left-wing cult that persists in believing, despite all evidence to the contrary, a failed prophecy: You just have to keep running until the voters wake up and desert the big parties en masse.

It’s a tragic loss for the progressive movement. By keeping the focus on his analysis and projects rather than his candidacy, Nader could have become a formidable elder statesman, possibly even a member of some Democratic cabinet. Now he’ll be lucky to avoid being a punch line.


For more writing from former Toward Freedom Editor Greg Guma, visit his new blog, Maverick Media: Inside and outside media politics and the alternative press.

World War II to the Present

World War II to the Present U.S. Fourth Fleet in Venezuelan Waters By NIKOLAS KOZLOFF With U.S. saber rattling towards Venezuela now at its height, the Pentagon has decided to reactivate the Navy’s fourth fleet in the Caribbean, Central and South America. It’s a bold move, and has already stirred controversy within the wider region. The fleet, which will start patrolling in July, will be based at the Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida and will answer to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami. Rear Admiral Joseph Keran, current commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, will oversee operations. About 11 vessels are currently under the Southern Command, a number that could increase in future. The Navy plans to assign a nuclear-powered air craft carrier, USS George Washington, to the force. It’s difficult to see how the revival of the Fourth Fleet is warranted at the present time. The move has only served to further antagonize Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, already rattled by a U.S. navy plane’s violation of Venezuelan airspace over the weekend. In the long-term, the Pentagon’s saber rattling may encourage South American militaries to assert great independence from Washington, a trend which is already well under way as I discuss in my new book, Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan). Reacting angrily to the Navy’s announcement, Chávez said: ``They don't scare us in the least.'' Chávez remarked that ``along with Brazil we're studying the creation of a South American Defense Council'' which would defend South America from foreign intervention. “If a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exists,” the Venezuelan leader postulated, “why can’t a SATO exist, a South Atlantic Treaty Organization?" Though the resuscitation of the Fourth Fleet has led many to believe that the U.S. is pursuing a course of gunboat diplomacy in the region, there was a time when the force arguably served a real need. What is the history of the Fourth Fleet in Venezuelan waters? Venezuela in World War II On the eve of the Second World War, Venezuela was the world’s leading oil exporter and during the conflict the oil rich Maracaibo fields, located in the westernmost Venezuelan state of Zulia, were considered a crucial resource for both the axis and allied powers. British and American oil subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Oil and Gulf had in fact long operated in the Maracaibo Basin prior to the outbreak of European hostilities. Transportation of crude from Jersey Standard’s producing fields in Lake Maracaibo region was carried out through use of specially constructed shallow draft tankers. A refinery owned by Royal Dutch Shell located on the island of Aruba, which processed Maracaibo crude, was strategically important as it supplied products not only to Britain but also to France. In 1940, Britain received fully 40 percent of her total oil imports from Venezuela, and during the first years of the war that total jumped to as high as 80 percent. Venezuelan oil also represented a vital commodity for the Nazis and the ability of the German state to wage war in Europe. As late as 1938, oil produced from Aruba, Curacao and Venezuela accounted for 44 percent of German oil imports. Germany did not buy oil directly from Venezuela but from U.S. and British-Dutch oil companies which shipped Venezuelan crude to refineries in Aruba and Curacao and then sold the final product in Europe. Venezuelan-German trade remained at normal levels but ended abruptly in September 1939 with the beginning of the British naval blockade of Germany. By 1940, with Britain increasingly isolated as the result of German attack and prior to the entrance of the U.S. into the war, Venezuelan sentiment was bitterly anti-German. Meanwhile Venezuela moved into the U.S. orbit and became a chief recipient of American economic aid. U.S. military officials preferred that Venezuela publicly stay neutral in an effort to preempt any German moves to shell Venezuela’s coast. Venezuelan neutrality however was a mere legal fiction: in reality, the South American nation had granted U.S. ships and airplanes special access to ports and airstrips. Two days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Venezuela declared its solidarity with the United States and on December 31, 1941 the Andean nation severed relations with the Axis powers. Operation “Roll of Drums” It wasn’t long before the Venezuelan government’s decision to sell oil to the allies resulted in Nazi counter measures. On December 12, 1941 Hitler met with his naval advisers and approved PAUKENSCHLAG or “ROLL OF DRUMS” a U-boat operation in Western Atlantic/Caribbean waters. In February, 1942 German submarines plied the Caribbean, sinking 25 tankers in one month. The Nazis were chiefly concerned with the Dutch islands of Curacao and Aruba, Dutch colonies where U.S. forces had set up defensive fortifications in order to protect refineries processing Venezuelan crude from Maracaibo (with an estimated crude capacity of 480,000 barrels a day, the Aruba refinery, owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey, and the Curacao refinery, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, outranked Abadan in Iran with 250,000 barrels; the Baku complex in the U.S.S.R. with about 230,000 barrels; and the largest plants in the United States at Baytown, Port Arthur, Bayonne, Baton Rouge, and Whiting with over 100,000 barrels each). On 15 February 1942, a convoy of oil tankers and ships left the Maracaibo Bar. The first ships in line were the ‘Monagas,’ of the Mene Grande Oil Company, followed by the ‘Tia Juana’ and ‘Pedernales’ both belonging to the Lago Petroleum Corporation. These tankers were followed by the ‘Rafaela’ belonging to Shell, and the ‘San Nicolas’and ‘Orangestad,’ belonging to Lago Oil and Transport Co, based in Aruba. A number of other tankers joined the column. German U-Boat Attack and Creation of the U.S. Fourth Fleet Suddenly a German U-boat torpedoed the ‘Monagas’ which sank immediately. The tankers ‘Tia Juana,’ ‘Pedernales,’ ‘Rafaela,’ ‘San Nicolas,’ and ‘Orangestad’ were also hit and sustained casualties. On the same day, the oil refinery on Aruba was attacked by German submarine shellfire. The political fallout from the attack was predictable: soon, angry street protesters hit the streets of Caracas, denouncing German aggression. In response to stepped up German escalation in the Caribbean, the U.S. Navy created the Fourth Fleet to hunt submarines in the South Atlantic. The U.S. moves came none too soon: as the naval war raged in the Caribbean, Venezuela suffered tremendous economic losses. As a result of the lost tankers, production in the Lake Maracaibo Basin had to be cut back by nearly 100,000 tons of crude daily. By July 1942 the situation was still dire, with tankers operating at only one-third their average capacity of 30,000 barrels. German attacks on the Aruba refinery marked the beginning of the Battle of the Caribbean. It wasn’t until August, 1943 that the Fourth Fleet was able to turn the tables on the submarine menace in Venezuelan waters. In 1950, with German U-boats now long gone, the U.S. Navy disbanded the fleet. Reviving the Fourth Fleet The Navy claims that it needs to resuscitate the Fourth Fleet now to combat terrorism, to keep the economic sea lanes of communication free and open, to counter illicit trafficking and to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. However, the move comes at a particularly sensitive moment within the region. U.S. ally Colombia launched a deadly raid across the Ecuadoran border in March, killing 16 members of the FARC guerilla insurgency including the organization’s number two, Raúl Reyes. Last weekend, Chávez accused Colombia of launching a cross-border incursion, while the Pentagon routinely lambastes Venezuela for its arms buildup including acquisition of high performance fighter aircraft, attack helicopters and diesel submarines. Unlike the Second World War, when many South Americans welcomed the Fourth Fleet in Caribbean waters, some view the current U.S. naval presence as a veiled threat directed at the region’s new Pink Tide countries. In an interview with Cuban television, Bolivian President Evo Morales remarked that the U.S. naval force constituted "the Fourth Fleet of intervention." Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro has asked why the U.S. has sought to revive the Fourth Fleet at this precise moment. Writing in the Cuban newspaper Granma, Castro suggested that the move constituted a return to U.S. gunboat diplomacy. Castro, whose island nation confronted a U.S. naval blockade during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, remarked "The aircraft carriers and nuclear bombs that threaten our countries are used to sow terror and death, but not to combat terrorism and illegal activities.” Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan)

Carter: Israel has 150 nuclear warheads

His statement appeared to be the first time a former US president states publicly the amount of nuclear warheads Israel supposedly has in its possession, DPA reported.

-Fluffy Puffy Pinkness-

Terrorism Act 2000

On Wednesday 14 May, a student and staff member at the University of Nottingham were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 for the posession of an Al Qaeda training manual downloaded from a US Government website in order to conduct research into political Islam. The two were held without charge for six days, their computers seized, their homes searched and their friends interrogated. It is apparent from statements by university authorities that it was they who contacted the police, precipitating this situation. On their release, one (the member of staff) was rearrested under immigration legislation and remains in detention. This is clearly a flagrant assault on academic freedom and a deeply worrying precedent. Students and lecturers are currently circulating a petition and academics from across the world are writing to the university to express their anger. There will also be a protest at University park Campus, next Wednesday (May 28) at 2pm. No doubt further protests will follow For more info see: Times Higher Education Supplement Indymedia UK (current top central column story)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

EMF Weapon Used To Cause Quake?

MUST WATCH: (then read Project Blue Beam below, it fills in the gaps)

China Earthquake caused by HAARP weapon


Information below is from this link at google video.

30 mins before the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China
Bizarre colorful (luminous/glowing) cloud phenomenon in the sky was observed about 30 mins before the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake took place. This was recorded in Tianshui, Gansu province ~450km northeast of epicenter, by someone using a cell phone. source:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cuba Supports Press Freedom

by Peter Phillips / May 24th, 2008 “You cannot kill truth by murdering journalists,” said Tubal Páez, president of the Journalist Union of Cuba. One hundred and fifty Cuban and South American journalists, ambassadors, politicians, and foreign guests gathered at the Jose Marti International Journalist Institute to honor the 50th anniversary of the death of Carlos Bastidas Arguello —the last journalist killed in Cuba. Carlos Bastidas was only 23 years of age when he was assassinated by Fulgencia Batista’s secret police after having visited Fidel Castro’s forces in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Edmundo Bastidas, Carlos’ brother, told about how a river of changed flowed from the Maestra (teacher) mountains, symbolized by his brother’s efforts to help secure a new future for Cuba. The celebration in Havana was held in honor of World Press Freedom Day, which is observed every year in May. World Press Freedom day was proclaimed by the UN in 1993 to honor journalists who have lost their lives reporting the news, and to defend media freedom worldwide. During my five days in Havana, I met with dozens of journalists, communication studies faculty and students, union representatives and politicians. The underlying theme of my visit was to determine the state of media freedom in Cuba and to build a better understanding between media democracy activists in the US and those in Cuba. I toured the two main radio stations in Havana, Radio Rebelde and Radio Havana. Both have Internet access to multiple global news sources including CNN, Reuters, Associated Press and BBC with several newscasters pulling stories for public broadcast. Over 90 municipalities in Cuba have their own locally run radio stations, and journalists report local news from every province. During the course of several hours in each station I was interviewed on the air about media consolidation and censorship in the US and was able to ask journalists about censorship in Cuba as well. Of the dozens I interviewed all said that they have complete freedom to write or broadcast any stories they choose. This was a far cry from the Stalinist media system so often depicted by US interests. Nonetheless it did became clear that Cuban journalists share a common sense of a continuing counter-revolutionary threat by US financed Cuban-Americans living in Miami. This is not an entirely unwarranted feeling in that many hundreds of terrorist actions against Cuba have occurred with US backing over the past fifty years. In addition to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, these attacks include the blowing up of a Cuban airlines plane in 1976 resulting in the deaths of seventy-three people, the starting in 1981 of an epidemic of dengue fever that killed 158 people and several hotel bombings in the 1990s one of which resulted in the death of an Italian tourist. In the context of this external threat, Cuban journalists quietly acknowledge that some self-censorship will undoubtedly occur regarding news stories that could be used by the “enemy” against the Cuban people. Nonetheless, Cuban journalists strongly value freedom of the press and there was no evidence of overt restriction or government control. Cuban journalists complain that the US corporate media is bias and refuses to cover the positive aspects of socialism in Cuba. Unknown to most Americans are the facts that Cuba is the number one organic country in the world, has an impressive health care system with a lower infant mortality rate than the US, trains doctor from all over the world, and has enjoyed a 43% increase in GDP over the past three years. Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly, discussed bias in the US media, “how often do you see Gore Vidal interviewed on the US media?” he asked. Vidal has recently said that the US is in its ‘worst phase in history.’ “Perhaps Cuba uses corporate news to excess,” he said, “Cuban journalists need to link more to independent news sources in the US.” Alarcon went on to say that Cuba allows CNN, AP and Chicago Tribune to maintain offices in Cuba, but that the US refuses to allow Cuban journalists to work in the United States. As the Cuban socialist system improves, the US does everything it can to artificially force cold-war conditions by funding terrorist attacks, maintaining an economic boycott, launching a new anti-terrorism Caribbean naval fleet, and increasingly limiting US citizen travel to Cuba. It is time to reverse this cold-war isolationist position, honor the Cuban peoples choice of a socialist system and build a positive working relationship between journalists in support of media democracy in both our countries.

Farc leader 'dead' says military

Marulanda has led the Farc since it was formed 44 years ago The leader of Colombia's largest rebel group, the Farc, has died, the military has claimed in a statement. A national news magazine had earlier reported the death of Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda on 26 March, citing the defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos. There has been no confirmation from guerrilla sources. The top rebel commander's death has been rumoured and disproved several times in the past. But correspondents say the death could mean the end of the Farc if confirmed. Mr Marulanda, whose real name is Pedro Antonio Marin, has led the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, since its foundation in 1964. If they are going to say that the information we have is not correct, then let them prove it Ministry of Defence statement He is thought to be 78 years old and there have been persistent rumours of ill health, including evidence that suggested he had prostate cancer. A statement from the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral David Rene Moreno, said it was not yet confirmed how Mr Marulanda died. Heart attack He said three bombing raids by government forces had targeted the area where Mr Marulanda was believed to have been staying, but not on the date he is reported to have died. He added that the version among the Farc rebels themselves was that their leader died from a heart attack and they have designated a political leader known as Alfonso Cano as his successor. "If they are going to say that the information we have is not correct, then let them prove it," Admiral Moreno said. "Whether Marulanda died in an air raid or of natural causes, this would be the hardest blow that this terrorist group has taken, since 'Sureshot' was the one who kept the criminal organisation united." The BBC's Jeremy McDermott, in Bogota, says the 44-year-old rebel movement is currently suffering its worst period yet, with two top commanders dead and others surrendered.


Finkelstein faces Israeli deportation

Sat, 24 May 2008 06:24:32 Norman Finkelstein Outspoken academic Norman Finkelstein has been denied entry to the Israel and later whisked away to a prison awaiting deportation. Finkelstein arrived in Tel Aviv earlier on Friday on his way to the Occupied Territories. He was immediately detained and told he is banned from Israel for 10 years. Finkelstein is one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, has written critical books on Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and on what he called 'exploitation' of the Jewish tragedy during World War II. Beginning with his doctoral thesis at Princeton , Finkelstein's career has been marked by controversy. A self-described 'forensic scholar,' he has written sharply critical academic reviews of several prominent writers and scholars whom he accuses of misrepresenting the documentary record in order to defend Israel's policies and practices. His writings, noted for their support of the Palestinian cause have dealt with politically-charged topics such as Zionism , the demographic history of Palestine and his allegations of the existence of a "Holocaust industry" that exploits the memory of the Holocaust to further Israeli and financial interests.
From Democracy Now, Fri May 23
Israel Arrests Outspoken Academic Norman Finkelstein And the American academic Norman Finkelstein has been arrested and ordered deported from Israel. Finkelstein arrived in Tel Aviv earlier today on his way to the Occupied Territories. He was immediately detained and told he is banned from Israel for ten years. He’s expected to be deported tomorrow. Finkelstein is known one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I could show you my favorite..obsession...

LXXXII. That ev'n my buried Ashes such a Snare Of Perfume shall fling up into the Air, As not a True Believer passing by But shall be overtaken unaware.

Mark his words, then bend over, Cuba..

POLITICS-US: Obama Draws Line on Cuba, Latin America Policy By Jim Lobe WASHINGTON, May 23 (IPS) - In a major policy address on U.S.-Latin American relations, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, pledged Friday to immediately roll back key sanctions imposed by President George W. Bush against Cuba over the last several years and called for a "new alliance of the Americas" in which Washington's southern neighbours would no longer be treated "as a junior partner". Speaking in Miami to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), previously the most hard-line and influential of the anti-Castro Cuban-American Groups, Obama promised that, if elected, he "will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island" by Cuban Americans to "make their families (in Cuba) less dependent on the Castro regime." He said he would maintain the U.S. trade embargo against the island as "leverage" to secure reforms there, but, in contrast to Bush and his presumptive Republican foe in the November elections, Sen. John McCain, he would pursue "direct diplomacy" with Havana "without preconditions". "Now let me be clear," he declared. "John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions." "There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And, as president, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people." Obama's address, which followed speeches by both McCain and Bush on Cuba this week, was accompanied by the release by his campaign of a policy document entitled "A New Partnership for the Americas" which stressed that his approach to Latin America and the Caribbean would be based on a "programme of aggressive, principled and sustained diplomacy in the Americas with a focus on advancing freedom as Franklin Roosevelt described it: political freedom, freedom from want and freedom from fear." He said he would restore the White House post of "Special Envoy for the Americas" that Bush dismantled after taking office in 2001. In addition to a renewed emphasis on diplomacy, both the document and the speech called for a "substantial increase" in U.S. aid to the region channeled in ways that would reduce what he called the region's "back-breaking inequality" between rich and poor and promote what he called "bottom-up development". He stressed that Washington needed to do more to address insecurity in the region arising from drug trafficking and gang activity both by promoting the rule of law in the region and "cracking down on the demand for drugs in our own communities" and on the southward flow of guns, vehicles, and money imported from the U.S. by illicit enterprises. Much of his speech was aimed at contrasting his approach of engagement with the region with the record of the Bush administration which, he charged, has created an effective "vacuum" into which "demagogues like (Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez", as well as European countries, China, and even Iran, have stepped. "That is the record -- the Bush record -- that John McCain has chosen to embrace," he declared. …Instead of engaging the people of the region, we've acted as if we can still dictate terms unilaterally," he said, echoing the conclusions of a recent study by the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). On Cuba, the subject of hard-line speeches by both Bush and McCain on the occasion of the island's Independence Day earlier this week, Obama drew a sharp line between him and the Arizona senator on the question of both easing the embargo and engaging the government of President Raul Castro. While McCain pledged to maintain the embargo intact until the Castro government released all political prisoners unconditionally, legalised all political parties, labour unions, and free media, and scheduled internationally monitored elections, Obama called for "a new strategy" beginning with rolling back Bush's curbs on the freedom of Cuban Americans to travel to the island and send money to family members there. He also indicated greater flexibility on taking additional steps toward normalisation of relations. "If you (Cuba) take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalising relations," said Obama. Obama's approach stood in marked contrast to then-candidate Bill Clinton's 16 years ago when he spoke before the CANF during the 1992 presidential campaign, according to Geoff Thale, a Cuba specialist at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). At that time, Clinton promised to tighten the embargo against Havana. "Today, 16 years later, the likely Democratic candidate says it's time to ease the embargo," Thale told IPS. "What it reflects is how Florida domestic politics, and especially the Cuban-American community, has changed. Obama thinks he can win Cuban-American votes by making it easier for Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba to visit their families, and I think he's right about that." "His call to allow Cuban Americans unlimited family travel and remittances to the island, while holding firm on the embargo, will probably appeal to younger Cuban Americans," added Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a hemispheric think tank here. "There is a generational shift that Obama has tapped into on many issues, and he is trying to do the same on Cuba." While Obama was harsh in his description of Chavez and his influence, he has also called for Washington to "engage Venezuela". The Illinois senator pledged to maintain U.S. support for "Colombia's fight against the FARC" and its "right to strike terrorists who seek safe haven across its borders." At the same time, however, he said, Washington "must also make clear our support for labour rights, and human rights, and that means meaningful support for Colombia's democratic institutions" which, he added, "we've neglected ...for far too long." On trade, Obama said he "strongly reject(s) the Bush-McCain view that any trade deal is a good deal. We cannot accept trade that enriches those at the top of the ladder while cutting out the rungs at the bottom," he said, adding that he opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) due to its lack of worker protections while he supported the Peru Free Trade Agreement because of their inclusion. Earlier this week, McCain accused Obama and his remaining Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, of protectionism for opposing the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement which McCain said "would benefit American workers and consumers". "There's nothing protectionist about demanding that trade spreads the benefits of globalisation, instead of steering them to special interests while we short-change workers at home and abroad," Obama retorted Friday. Except for his reservations about trade deals, Obama's speech will be "well-received throughout the hemisphere, Shifter told IPS. At the same time, "it is useful to remember that President Bush also made a good speech on Latin America in his 2000 campaign, but his administration turned out to be a tremendous disappointment in the region. Latin Americans have learned to keep their expectations in check." *Jim Lobe's blog on U.S. foreign policy, and particularly the neo-conservative influence in the Bush administration, can be read at


"I don't believe in killing whatever the reason!"

"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal." "I don't believe in killing whatever the reason!" "Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it." -John Lennon

Officials Demand Explanations from US on Dissident Funds

By Patricia Grogg The Cuban government demanded that the United States provide explanations for what it described as "obscure ties" between U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana, "terrorist" groups in Miami and members of dissident organisations, in a case that has further heated up relations between the two countries. "We demand that they face up to this," said Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque in a news briefing Thursday, after three different TV programmes were aired between Monday and Wednesday exhibiting the results of an investigation that allegedly showed that U.S. diplomats ferried money to dissident groups in Cuba. Although he described the incidents as "extremely serious," Pérez Roque did not indicate whether the government planned to close down the Interests Sections opened in Havana and Washington in 1977 to provide consular services and maintain a minimal channel of communication, in the absence of diplomatic ties since 1961. In the decades-long conflict between the two countries, the U.S. embargo is the thorniest issue, costing Cuba some 89 billion dollars in four and a half decades, according to Havana. This is not the first time that Cuba has accused the U.S. Interests Section (SINA) of serving as the "chief headquarters" of dissident groups. However, the accusations this time have been stepped up a notch, going beyond questions of ideology and into the terrain of national security. In Pérez Roque’s view, the most serious aspect is the origin of the funds that he said were carried in letters, on several occasions, by SINA chief Michael Parmly and SINA official Robert Blau. He said the funds were brought in at the request of Martha Beatriz Roque, a dissident with radical views who heads the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society. The official reports referred to investigations by Cuban intelligence, which intercepted emails, telephone calls and receipts signed by Roque and other dissidents in Havana revealing that funds were sent from the Legal Rescue Foundation based in Miami, Florida and headed by Cuban-American citizen Santiago Álvarez. Álvarez, who is currently in prison in the United States for weapons possession and other offences, is a long-time anti-Castro activist with a record of violent action against Cuba, and a key supporter of Luis Posada Carriles, whose extradition from the United States has been requested by Venezuela, which wants to try him for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people were killed. "It is money stained with blood, that comes from terrorists," said Pérez Roque. However, the minister did not make it clear whether legal action would be taken against the recipients of the funds. "This is an ongoing investigation of terrorism and its connection with subversives in Cuba, and we must await the results," he said. Laura Pollán, of the Women in White movement, signed a receipt for 2,500 dollars to be distributed among 18 wives of imprisoned dissidents. She told IPS that "at no time" did they know that the funds "had anything to do with Santiago Álvarez." "Martha Beatriz brought it to us, and it was humanitarian aid from the Legal Rescue Foundation," she said. "We didn’t know that Álvarez was the main benefactor," said Pollán, who described the Women in White, so called because of the colour they wear in their demonstrations, as "peaceful women" who are merely seeking the release of their husbands. Pollán’s husband is one of 75 dissidents imprisoned in 2003 on charges of conspiring with Washington. Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a moderate dissident who is critical of U.S. policy towards Cuba, told IPS by telephone that he had no doubt that Álvarez is in favour of violent action, "which has doomed any role he could have played in this country to failure." In the view of political scientist and researcher Rafael Hernández, the investigation showed that "dissident groups are not just ordinary Cubans expressing a different point of view, who limit themselves to using freedom of conscience and of expression and are peacefully fighting for democracy and freedom, but are allies of a foreign power." That, he said, is the "central message" that the government of Raúl Castro is sending to the United States, the European Union, dissident groups, and the Cuban exile community in Miami, which does not quite know what to make of the recent opening up of debate in Cuba. But he said the main target of the Cuban government’s message would be the U.S. administration, in case "it is thinking that, with the broadening of public debate and the changes introduced by Raúl, there might be a new climate that they can turn to their own advantage, including the use of these groups." Hernández remarked that the media offensive is also directed at the EU and other governments concerned about human rights in Cuba, which consider the dissidents to be "punished for crimes of conscience," in spite of their own embassies in Havana "knowing perfectly well who they are and what they’re up to." Hernández, the editor of the cultural journal Temas, said that political parties, whether legal or illegal, do not fit into a definition of civil society in any part of the world, and the dissident groups that operate in his country "do not organically represent any social sector, nor are they backed by a consensus." "Their support comes from abroad, and mainly from the United States, other governments and the Cuban-American right. Now if we’re talking about a diversity of positions and political change, these are clearly present in Cuba’s own organisations and civil society institutions," he said.

Group Behavior in Elevator

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This spring is special...

"It's sun has allowed me to transcend the 'cup is half full' metaphor; The cup can never be empty, if it has not water, it will have air. It's moon tells me that even if the cup has not air, then I shall be grateful for the vacuum, as the void is infinite potential. And this spring has brought me you. * If I had that opportunity... I would lay you down, nude, in a crucified pose... project the stars onto you... light candles, incense, joints... look into your eyes until the honesty and vulnerability made you cry... then taste you....The fifth day would pretty much be loud Led Zeppelin and massive fluid loss...."

US Navy Aircraft Violates Venezuela's Airspace

Patricia Rondon, of Reuters: "A US Navy jet violated Venezuelan airspace around two small Caribbean islands over the weekend in what the South American country said was a provocation coordinated with neighboring Colombia. Venezuela and the United States bicker over everything from energy policy to arms sales. The incursion comes amid heightened tensions over accusations that Venezuela helped a guerrilla army fighting the government in US ally Colombia. The Pentagon said a Navy aircraft on a counternarcotics mission had navigation problems that led it to stray into Venezuelan airspace on Saturday."

~*~ How the US Government Spreads Disinformation Through the Media, via the CIA and FBI~*~

Playlist URL: New Video: How the US Government Spreads Disinformation Through the Media, via the CIA and FBI In this 8-part series Dr. William F. Pepper leads the co-publisher of Covert Action Quarterly, William Schaap, through a history of US Government Approved disinformation, beginning with examples in WWI and then WWII, when things really began to take off. The techniques of disinformation that the government employed during war-time were carried over into peace-time under the aegis of the Cold War. Schaap sites specific examples of CIA and FBI disinformation, concluding with Hoover's FBI attacks on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - (Check out 8:03 on part 3.. see quote below - Transcript: "that they had thousands of journalists in their employ. Not merely friendly, not merely agents, not merely someone you could pass a story to, but people who might have appeared to the outside world to be a reporter for CBS was in fact a CIA employee getting a salary from the CIA. And that was repeated thousands of times all around the world. They also owned outright, the CIA -- about that time 250 or more media organizations. That's wire services, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV stations -- all around the world that they owned outright. The actual shareholder of the company turned out to be some CIA front." Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 (due to tape changes, some footage is lost in this section, please refer to transcript) Part 7 - Part 8 - Please support the NYC 911 Ballot Initiative, and give Dr. Pepper and the Commission he will be a part, subpoena power to get some real answers about 9/11; Video footage from the 1999 Martin Luther King Conspiracy Trial, courtesy William F. Pepper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Former Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix on the US Rush to War in Iraq, the Threat of an Attack on Iran, and the Need for a Global Nuclear Ban to A

The Bush administration’s claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq formed the key justification for the war to Congress, the American people and the international community. As the former chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix was at the center of the storm. From March 2000 to June 2003, Blix oversaw the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission’s 700 inspections at 500 sites in the run-up to the invasion. Blix is currently the chair of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. His latest book, just published, is Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Blix joins us for the hour from Stockholm, Sweden. AMY GOODMAN: More than five years after the invasion of Iraq, one the war’s leading architects has admitted the Bush administration made mistakes in the lead-up to the war but maintains the decision to invade was justified. Douglas Feith, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy, claimed Monday Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the region even though he had no weapons of mass destruction. DOUGLAS FEITH: And so, while it was a terrible mistake for the administration to rely on the erroneous intelligence about WMD, and, I mean, it was catastrophic to our credibility, first of all, it was an honest error and not a lie. But even if you corrected for that error, what we found in Iraq was a serious WMD threat, even though Saddam had chosen to not maintain the stockpiles. He had put himself in a position where he could have regenerated those stockpiles, as I said, in three to five weeks. AMY GOODMAN: The Bush administration’s claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq formed the key justification for the war to Congress, the American people and the international community. One of the people at the center of the storm was Hans Blix, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq. He joins us today from Stockholm, Sweden. From March 2000 to June 2003, Hans Blix was executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, which carried out over 700 inspections at 500 sites in the run-up to the invasion. Hans Blix is currently the chair of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. His latest book is Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Hans Blix. HANS BLIX: Thank you very much. AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Your response to Douglas Feith? HANS BLIX: Well, I think there was no way that Saddam Hussein in Iraq could have reconstituted his nuclear program within years after 2003. David Kay went in, and he came out and said, “Well, there are no weapons, but there are [inaudible] programs.” And then he went out, and in went his successor, and he came out after a year and says there are no programs, but there were intentions. In fact, Iraq was prostrate after so many years of sanctions, and it would have taken them many years to recover and to contemplate any nuclear weapons. AMY GOODMAN: What did you understand at the time? What were you saying at the time? HANS BLIX: Well, at the time, we were saying that we had carried out a great many inspections and that we did not find any weapons of mass destruction, and we also voiced some criticism of the some cases that the US Secretary of State Colin Powell had demonstrated in the Security Council. My colleague, Mr. ElBaradei, who was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had revealed that the alleged contract between Iraq and the state of Niger in Africa for the import of uranium oxide was a forgery and that the—also the tubes of aluminum, which had been alleged to be for making of centrifuges to enrich uranium, they most likely were not for that purpose. So while the evidence that had been advanced from the US side and the UK side had been very weakened, we had carried out some 700 inspections without finding any evidence at all, and we had actually been to something like three dozen sites, which were given to us by intelligence, and had been able to tell them that, no, there was nothing in them, so that all allegations had been weakened very much, but not to the point of saying that there is nothing, because to prove that there is nothing is really impossible. AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn back to February 2003 to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s address before the UN Security Council, where he made the Bush administration’s case for war. This is some of what he had to say. COLIN POWELL: I asked for this session today for two purposes—first, to support the core assessments made by Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. As Dr. Blix reported to this council on January 27th, quote, “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it,” unquote, and as Dr. ElBaradei reported, Iraq’s declaration of December 7th, quote, “did not provide any new information relevant to certain questions that have been outstanding since 1998.” My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iraq’s involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of Resolution 1441 and other earlier resolutions. I might add at this point that we are providing all relevant information we can to the inspection teams for them to do their work. The material I will present to you comes from a variety of sources. Some are US sources, and some are those of other countries. Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites. Other sources are people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to. I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling. What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior. The facts on Iraqis’ behavior—Iraq’s behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort—no effort—to disarm, as required by the international community. AMY GOODMAN: That was, well, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell addressing the United Nations February 5th, 2003. Hans Blix, you were the chief UN weapons inspector at the time. Your reaction then and now, more than five years later? HANS BLIX: Well, Secretary Powell talks about what ElBaradei and I were saying in January 2003, but the invasion took place in the mid-March of 2003. And we started our inspections in Iraq in November, and at the end of that month I think we got the 12,000 pages of report from Iraq, and they were disappointing, apart from the sections about biology, where they had given some new information. But they were disappointed, and we were disappointed in that result. But the responsibility for taking action, actually go into war, must be assessed at what was known in the middle of March 2003, when the war took place. By that time, we had carried out the 700 inspections without finding any results and also finding a lot of weakness in the evidence that had been presented. So I don’t think that one can seem to rely upon or refer to what the inspectors were saying in January 2003. A lot had happened, and I’m sure that the invasion should—was weighed in what they knew in mid-March 2003, and they should have known and understood that Iraq was not nearly in possession of any significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction. I think they suspected that there were chemical weapons left, because the US military carried protective suits with them, and they donned some of them, as well. But there could have been no illusion that they were on their way to reconstituting their nuclear weapon program. AMY GOODMAN: They knew a lot about what you thought, both publicly—you also said that you believed that they were bugging you, that you thought it would be Iraq that would eavesdrop, that would bug you, but in fact you felt it was the United States. Could you explain? HANS BLIX: I hear a little badly what you say on the satellite feed. Could I explain what? Why one thought— AMY GOODMAN: You had said in 2004 that you believed the United States was bugging you, your office and your home. Can you explain? HANS BLIX: Oh, I see, OK. Now I hear you better. Well, there were noises on the telephone and things that happened that made me suspect that. I have never said I had any evidence to that effect. But in the light of what I’ve heard since then, I would not be at all surprised. And I’ve been asked about the question, and my only comment has been I wish to heaven that they had listened a little better to what I had to say, if they did listen. AMY GOODMAN: You went to great lengths to try to find out, is that right? You had a UN counter-surveillance team sweep your home and office for bugs. HANS BLIX: Yeah, that happened, but that was sort of routine at the UN that they would sweep the office. And I think we mostly assumed that there could be someone bugging us. We didn’t really have any secrets. What we did, we were told to at the Security Council. AMY GOODMAN: You also learned that the Pentagon was briefing against you, you the chief UN weapons inspector. Explain what that means. HANS BLIX: Well, there was some occasion when the Washington Post reported that Mr. Wolfowitz had asked the CIA about my character and about my preceding activities. And I didn’t really mind that. I thought it would have been more practical for them to ask the State Department, because they have seen me in diplomatic action since 1961. But I had really no objection to his asking the CIA. I had—there was nothing to hide in my career. AMY GOODMAN: Hans Blix, we’re going to take a break, then we’re going to come back. Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, currently the chair of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, has written the book Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. We’ll talk not only about history but about what is happening today, from Iran to other places around the world. Stay with us. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Our guest today, Hans Blix, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, currently the chair of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, writing a book, Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Going back to your tenure with weapons—investigating weapons of mass destruction, how much time do you think you needed to ultimately prove Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, if the US hadn’t invaded on March 19, 2003? HANS BLIX: Well, as I said, to prove that there is nothing is almost impossible. But, of course, to reduce the probabilities, you can do, and we would have reduced them very strongly. I think that if we had been in Iraq for a couple months more, it would have been enough to make it extremely clear to everybody that the chances were nearly nil that there were any weapons of mass destruction for a very simple reason. And that was that we had tips coming to us from the US and others as to places where they suspected that there were weapons. There were about a hundred such tips. And by the time of the invasion, we had investigated about three dozens of them. A couple of months more, we would have investigated all of them. And since there were no weapons of mass destruction, we would have been able to see that there weren’t any at these places that were indicated and had been able to draw a very strong conclusion that Iraq actually had no such weapons. So a few months more, I think, would have been enough. But, of course, one must remember that the allegation about the existence of weapons of mass destruction was only one reason why the US and their allies went to war. There were other reasons, as well. AMY GOODMAN: But that was the chief reason that the Bush administration gave. They had floated other reasons, but they didn’t fly with the American public. And this imminent threat was one that had stuck and was cited over and over by those senators who authorized war. But let me ask you, Hans Blix, a critical question. This was Scott Ritter, who has been very critical of your role in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. He was the UN’s top weapons inspector in Iraq in the United Nations Special Commission between 1991 and 1998. This is some of what he had to say about your role and that of Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. SCOTT RITTER: Look, Mohamed ElBaradei deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, not only for the potential work that his organization can do down the road regarding Iran and North Korea, etc., but let’s take a look what this guy did. He stood up to the Security Council when it counted. In the weeks and months before the war, this is a man who spoke truth to power. He stared the United States in the face and said, “The data you have provided is false. It’s based on forgeries. There are no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There is no nuclear weapons program. I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that we don’t want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud, because no mushroom cloud is coming out of Iraq.” Had Hans Blix, his counterpart, done the same thing, showed the same courage, you know, it would have been very difficult for the United States to try and bully the United Nations into this mad, headlong rush to war. AMY GOODMAN: What did Hans Blix do? SCOTT RITTER: Hans Blix was a lawyer. He parsed phrases. He didn’t commit to anything. His statements were so watered down. AMY GOODMAN: Why? SCOTT RITTER: I call him a moral and intellectual coward. This is only an answer that Hans Blix can provide. For me, Hans Blix had an opportunity to stand up and be counted in the face of history, and history is going to condemn this man for not doing what was necessary in one of the more critical times of modern history. AMY GOODMAN: That was Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq in October of 2005. Hans Blix, your response? HANS BLIX: Well, I think it was a little hard to hear it from Scott Ritter, who was one of the most flamboyant and one of the most pushing inspectors earlier on and one of the weapons inspectors. I think he misunderstands the role of those who are responsible for the inspections. We are supposed to be exactly assessing what we see and tell the Security Council about it. We were not in a position to say possibly there are no weapons of mass destruction. We were able to say that we had carried out so-and-so many inspections, that we haven’t found anything. But that doesn’t mean that we had examined every basement in Iraq. But what we said was precise in description, and the majority of people in media also understood us to mean that the chances that there are something are very slim. So I think Scott Ritter is fairly lonely in the judgment that the inspectors were too timid. If we had gone ahead and said there is nothing, we would not have had a credibility. AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything you regret at this point, Hans Blix, for how you dealt with the lead-up to the invasion, seeing on how determined the US was to invade Iraq? HANS BLIX: Well, when the invasion took place, there was nothing we could do any further. I think that perhaps both the Security Council and everybody could have been leaning harder on Iraq at an earlier stage, because at the—in February 2003, the Iraqis got frantic, but that was a bit late. The report that we received in late in 2002 was an enormous one of many thousands of pages, and it did not really help us very much. I think if they had been as energetic as they were in 2003, if they had been that earlier, maybe we would have been able to be stronger also in our statements. AMY GOODMAN: And your assessment of the war in Iraq today and what it has done? HANS BLIX: I think it’s an utter tragedy that—what has happened. The US and others expected it would be a short warfare. They expected to find weapons of mass destruction. And it has now gone on for many years, and Iraq is still not at rest. So I think it shows that the military solution was an erroneous one. AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now to the issue of Iran. Do you think the US will attack Iran? HANS BLIX: I think, on balance, not, but it’s a bit uncertain, because the signals that come are a bit mixed, and there are still US aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, so the threat is there. But I think your Secretary of Defense is certainly not encouraging the impression that they might go to war. And that would be a very big affair. They would have to attack a great many places in Iran, and of course the capability—there couldn’t be any ground invasion. But the capability to reconstitute the program would be there anyway. Now, the US has been asserting that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and there are some indications going in that direction, but I don’t think that it is really conclusive, what has been brought forward. Iran is—has built two nuclear power plants on the Persian Gulf, and the world is not, nor is the US, quarreling with that. They are simply saying that next to that program there is also a military program. And while in the case of North Korea the US is offering North Korea a lot of guarantees that North Korea will not be attacked if they abandon their nuclear program, there is no such offer being made in the case of Iran. On the contrary, the threat seems still to be there, that US could attack Iran. And under such circumstances, the Iranians are not giving away. I think that it would be far better if they were to say to the Iranians that the inspection and the nuclear power program would be alright. AMY GOODMAN: According to the Washington Post, Iran has offered to discuss cooperation spanning nuclear disarmament, peaceful nuclear technology, improved UN nuclear supervision, and what it calls a fair solution for the plight of Palestinians. It was revealed last year the Bush administration rejected a similar overture in 2003. Meanwhile, this news comes as the White House is denying a new report that it plans to attack Iran before Bush leaves office. On Monday, Israel’s Army Radio reported a senior member of the Bush entourage told a high-level meeting last week in Jerusalem that Bush and Cheney believe an attack is called for. President Bush was there for the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Hans Blix? HANS BLIX: I think the Iranians are very purposely developing a nuclear power program, and some people say that this is not justified, they have enough oil. But so does Mexico, also develops a nuclear power program in spite of the fact that they have oil. They’ve also undertaken some steps that are—that I think are—one has reason to be suspicious about. They are enriching uranium, and this is very—is not really called for in a country that has only two nuclear power reactors. It would be more economic for them to import nuclear fuel from abroad, and they have in fact been offered such export from Russia. So the negotiations are intense. And one option, I think, would be that there would be a very close inspection of the enrichment facility that they are building. Another one would be that there would be guarantees of export of enriched uranium to Iran, and that would definitely be safer, because if you have an enrichment plant, you can go from five percent to four percent enrichment that is needed for to produce nuclear fuel to 85 or 90 percent that is needed for weapons purposes. So it would be safer for the world if Iran did not have enrichment. And that is also the line that the commission that I headed was recommending. The Iranians have so far insisted on having their own enrichment capability, and they have come a long way on it. However, I think what the Iranians—one must also look at it in the geographical context. And the zone free of weapons of mass destruction for the whole Middle East, including both Iran and Israel, is a proposal that has been long on the table. The Israelis are not going to do away with their nuclear weapons, for sure, at the present time, but maybe one could have a zone of a more limited purpose, that there would be no further enrichment of uranium in the area. That would at least prevent that Israel produce more nuclear weapons than they do at the present time. And the whole zone is one in which many other countries are planning to go for nuclear power. And I think the world would gain if they all joined a zone in which no enriched uranium were produced, in which they were sure that they would get fuel from abroad. AMY GOODMAN: Iran’s nuclear program was one of the issues that came up at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East. The conference was held on the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. This is what the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said about Iran’s nuclear program Monday. MOHAMED ELBARADEI: The Iranian issue is part of this regional security in the Middle East which is totally absent. You will not have a regional security structure in the Middle East as long as you have a region where no country, including Israel, has nuclear weapon, chemical weapon, biological weapon. AMY GOODMAN: Also at the conference, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit asked why Iran was being singled out. AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Would you please tell me, did anybody—anybody—raise the issue of the Israeli nuclear capability? Why are you hiding it? Tell me. Convince me. Why are you hiding the Israeli nuclear capability? Is it only Iran? Mind you, the moment—and I hope not—Israel is declared a nuclear capable, and you have an Iranian nuclear capability, I assure you there will be others, too. AMY GOODMAN: That was the Egyptian foreign minister. Hans Blix, your response? HANS BLIX: Well, in the 1980s, Iran had a severe war with Israel and with Iraq, and they rightly suspected that the Iraqis were aiming at a nuclear weapon. And I think we can see the roots of the Iranian program as a possible defense against Iraqi nuclear weapons. However, with the defeat of Iraq in 2003, there would be no justification for Iran to seek nuclear weapons any longer. And I think that it is right then to try to search for a zone free of nuclear weapons. But so long as Israel feels threatened, this will not happen. And the state in between, the state before that, would be to assure, at any rate, that there would be no production of highly enriched uranium and—or plutonium. That will also involve Israel. And that is one idea that has been floating by the commission which I headed, that in the whole Middle East there would be an agreement not to produce highly enriched uranium or plutonium. AMY GOODMAN: Explain that further. HANS BLIX: Well, Israel is not likely to give up its nuclear weapons until you have a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, and let’s hope that that comes sooner rather than later. But they could stop producing more plutonium; they have enough to defend themselves at the present time. And you have many countries in the Middle East that are now planning to go for nuclear power. Several of them have declared that they will not go for any enrichment or for reprocessing, but it would be an advantage to have an agreement over the whole Middle East that none of them would produce any plutonium or enriched uranium. And if that were to include Israel, then Israel would at least do something to contribute to an agreement. And the Iranians could get guaranteed assurances about the supply of uranium that they need for a nuclear power plant in the future. This is one idea that was launched in the commission that I headed and that presented a report two years ago. AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the US presidential elections. Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York, presidential candidate, was asked by ABC on April 22nd what she would do as president if Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel. She responded, “I want the Iranians to know, if I’m the president, we will attack Iran. In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” Your response, Hans Blix? HANS BLIX: Well, I think these are a hypothetical question. If the Iranians are in the beginning of a nuclear program in which they tell the world that they are willing to have full inspection of the enrichment facilities which they are building, the world is saying that it would be safer and better if they didn’t have any enrichment at all, if it were to—if they were to be given guarantees that they could receive the enriched uranium that they need for the nuclear power reactors that they have. So I think going this far is not helpful in the discussion at the present stage. It would be better if the Iran—Iranians do not have enrichment of their own, and that’s what the aims are, both of the Bush administration and of the Europeans. However, there’s a difference between the negotiations carried out with North Korea and Iran. In the case of North Korea, there is a guarantee that North Korea will not be attacked if they are doing away with their nuclear program. But there is no guarantee in the air to Iran against an attack from the outside, even under any circumstance. And on the contrary, rather, I think they feel rather threatened by the military buildup of the US in the Persian Gulf. AMY GOODMAN: Hans Blix, what do you think of Mordechai Vanunu, imprisoned for almost two decades, continues, a tremendous pressure within Israel, the man who worked at the Dimona power plant and revealed to the world that Israel had nuclear weapons? HANS BLIX: Well, I think it’s very unfair. This man was sent—he was kidnapped in Rome and brought to Israel, and he was sentenced for a long, long jail sentence, and he served that sentence. And after that, he is kept in the country and is not allowed to leave the country. I can’t see that he has any secrets any longer, and I can’t see why he shouldn’t be able to leave the country. So I think he has served the sentence under the law that he had broken, and that should be enough. AMY GOODMAN: Do you sympathize with what he did? HANS BLIX: Yeah, I sympathize with him, because I think that he’s being unfairly treated now. He has received the punishment that was due under the Israeli law, although he was kidnapped abroad in a manner that I do not think was compatible with international law. But he has served that sentence, and that should have been it. AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about President Bush pledging enriched uranium to Saudi Arabia, but we have to break first, and we’ll come back to Hans Blix, who is currently the chair of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, his latest book, Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Stay with us. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Hans Blix, head of the Swedish government’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, latest book, Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. President Bush visited the Saudi king. He pledged US support for a Saudi nuclear program as part of a deal for Saudi Arabia to pump more oil. Bush has promised to help Saudi Arabia receive enriched uranium. Your response, Hans Blix? HANS BLIX: Well, it’s clear that the oil resources are limited and that we must look for other solutions to a big part of our energy problem. The oil—burning of oil contributes to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and nuclear is a major alternative to oil consumption, though it will take years before it really matters very much. It takes perhaps eight or ten years to build a nuclear power plant, so it will not have any immediate relief. But it will have to come. We can welcome also the solar power and wind power and many other alternative sources, but the fact is that nuclear power gives the world something like 16 percent, 17 percent of its electricity today, so it’s very, very significant. Therefore, I can see that the oil countries, which see the end of the oil period, that they also want to find an energy source that will be more lasting. And provided that one goes also into the reprocessing, the uranium resources of the world will be adequate for a very, very long period to come. So I think it is understandable that not only Saudi Arabia, but other Arab countries and oil countries, will go for nuclear power. But, of course, it is important that in that context we seek good guarantees that there will be no diversion of fissionable material and no enrichment of uranium. My impression is that the countries in the region are ready to give guarantees that they will not go for any enrichment of uranium. AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it lessens security in the world for the US to be involved with giving enriched uranium to Saudi Arabia? HANS BLIX: There is no lack of enrichment capability around the world at the present time. The problem for Iran is that Iran plans and is developing an enrichment capability of its own, and if you enrich to four percent, you can enrich to 94 percent, and then you have the weapons-grade material. So an expansion of nuclear power should not be combined with an expansion of enrichment capability, and I do not hear that Saudi Arabia or other countries—certainly not the countries in the Gulf—are planning any enrichment capability, but they will import the fuel that they will need, and if that is the case, I do not think one needs to worry so much about proliferation. AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what it is that you head in Sweden, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission? HANS BLIX: Yes. This was not—this was a commission financed by the Swedish government, but it was not a Swedish commission. We were fourteen members in that commission, and all of them good experts on nuclear matters. And we came out with a report after two years of work, in which we deal not only with nuclear weapons, but also biological weapons and chemical weapons and missiles, and in which we conclude that the political attempt, the political effort to do away with nuclear weapons are the most important ones. We need détente in the world. We do not need an increase in tension. And after the end of the Cold War, it should be possible to achieve such detente. And there are quite a number of matters that have not been taken that should be taken. The reason why we had a nuclear age was basically that the battle and the power—the struggle between the communist countries—Soviet Union, in those days, in the 1980s—and the Western world. But after the end of the Soviet Union, there was not the same reason for it. We had détente, or supposedly had détente, since the beginning of the 1990s, and nuclear disarmament should be possible. And up to the middle of the ’90s, things went rather well. But since the middle of the ’90s, we have not had the disarmament. The negotiations have been standing still. And it was one of the main purposes and aims of our commission that we should give ideas how to resume disarmament talks. And I think today, perhaps the situation is better than it was two years ago when our report came out. Notably, the question of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has improved. That was rejected by the US Senate, you may remember, but I hear that both Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton are favoring a reconsideration of the comprehensive test ban that would eventually get all the world’s countries to accept that there will be no further nuclear weapons testing in the world. AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the rise of military spending around the world? What are the estimates right now, topping more than $1 trillion? HANS BLIX: The arms expenses? AMY GOODMAN: Yes. HANS BLIX: Yeah, well, they are more than—they are perhaps about $1,300,000—$1,300,000,000 a year, which is a tremendous sum, and about half of it falls on the United States. And it’s very hard to see that this is justified at a time of detente in the world. There’s really no fear of a conflagration involving the five big nuclear weapons states. The concern is more about terrorists and rogue states. And one doesn’t need these enormous amounts of weapons, but could look for disarmament, which would save an enormous amount of money and also to reduce the tensions. However, the disarmament talks have not gone very well at all, and we can only hope that they will resume in the next year or so. They had been standing still for ten years in Geneva, and this is in a situation where there’s no major tensions between the permanent five members of the Security Council. AMY GOODMAN: A third of the money that we’re talking about is spent by the United States. What about the United States’s role in fueling the arms race? HANS BLIX: Well, the US has continued to prepare for a new nuclear weapons program. It has not been accepted by the Congress yet, but there are proposals for this. And so long as these are on the table and there’s no agreement on nuclear disarmament, I think one can assume that also others are contemplating moving on with an arms program. It is absurd to have such levels of rearmament going on in the world at a time of detente, when the communist threat is no longer there. We are worried about rogue states, and we are worried about terrorist movements, but for that purpose you do not need such vast, vast programs of nuclear weapons. AMY GOODMAN: You have referred to a “cold peace,” that that’s what we’re involved with now. Can you explain what you mean? HANS BLIX: Yes. I think that after the end of the early—in the early ’90s, we were moving into a detente that was very hopeful, and there were lots of problems that were solved. You remember we had problems in Central America, we had a problem in Angola and Mozambique, and that was dissolved—these problems were dissolved. And yet, we did not manage to get to any substantial disarmament, and the tone between the US and its allies, on the one hand, and on the Russians on the other hand, has been a very cold one. And what we would need now is that all sides would reduce their armaments. Whilst in practice we hear a lot of discussion about new types of nuclear weapons in the United States, and we also hear that the Russians are beginning to say that if we do not have more of a movement in a peaceful direction, they, too, may strengthen their military capability. So the world has been going in the wrong direction for a number of years, and we would need to change that course. AMY GOODMAN: You’ve talked about strengthening legal barriers against the use of armed force, but saying that the US has renounced legal restrictions that it itself actually helped formulate after World War II in 1945. Can you explain? HANS BLIX: Yes. The UN Charter that was drafted in San Francisco, and with strong US influence, states that you can only use force in self-defense against an armed attack, and armed force can also be used when authorized by the Security Council. But in the up-run to the war in Iraq, these restrictions were renounced by the US, and it was declared that this was far too limited, rules, and that the US felt free to—even to intervene against what they saw as a danger. If a country were developing nuclear weapons, then, it said, it’s too late to intervene. So the US took the view that they could, as a preventive matter, attack a country that was developing a nuclear program. The UK did not really sign onto that theory, or that position, but said that, no, they would like to stick to a right to intervene against countries that were launching an armed attack or were in an imminent position to do so. So here is something where we will need, I think, to come back to the UN and Charter, because, otherwise, it would enable countries to go to action against anything that they saw as a threat. AMY GOODMAN: Right now in Dublin, a conference is taking place around cluster bombs, a treaty for anti-cluster munitions around the world. The US is not there. HANS BLIX: No. The cluster bombs were used extensively, and they were used also in Lebanon. And they have a very severe effect on civilian populations, because they do spread. If they are used on the battlefield, it is one thing, but if they are used in areas which are—where there are also civilians, it really—they act as an indiscriminate weapon. And that is the background why it’s urged that there should be a restriction or a ban on their use. AMY GOODMAN: What is the significance of a country like the United States, the largest manufacturer of cluster bombs, not participating in this treaty? HANS BLIX: Well, of course, that is a serious weakening of the negotiating situation. However, I think that those who are pushing for negotiations and want to have a ban, that they hope that, nevertheless, in the longer run the United States or others who do not participate, that they will join such a treaty if it were concluded. We have seen examples of that before, where states have refused to join a ban that was concluded, but joined it much, much later. So I think that’s the calculation of those who urge a ban. AMY GOODMAN: You, Hans Blix, are turning eighty years old in June. You served as the Swedish foreign affairs minister, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the chief UN inspector in Iraq, and now the chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission in Sweden. Do you have any plans to retire? HANS BLIX: Well, I have a—usually say that I have retired three times, and I’m not going to do it again. No, I think that so long as I feel I have something to say and I know something, then I will continue to do so. And I have lots of invitations from all around the world to come and to speak. And I think that we need a tremendous effort to get to disarmament. We have discovered that global warming is something very serious, and I think that the world—and thanks to many, many people, the world is beginning to wake up to that. But global warming is certainly a huge danger, and I agree with all those who wish the world to take action and, in particular, reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. We must not forget that we still have an enormous amount of money spent on weapons and that it is risky and that we see threats about—on the use of these weapons. We have not come to a disarmament. The Cold War is over, but we have not got into a stage of disarmament. It’s high time that we do that. AMY GOODMAN: The role of the media in all of this? The role of the media, for example, in the lead-up to the invasion in the United States, in particular, the constant repetition of the allegations of weapons of mass destruction? HANS BLIX: Well, there has been a focus by the US and other nuclear weapons states upon those who do not have nuclear weapons and say this is the great danger in the world, that they may acquire them. However, I think that one must also look at those who have the nuclear weapons and get a reduction on them. At the peak of the Cold War, there were something like 55,000 nuclear weapons in the world. And today perhaps there are 27,000. And that is far too much. There is no reason why we should have so many nuclear weapons. And you have in the United States itself, you have a very powerful and important group that is urging nuclear disarmament, led by a former secretary of state and by Bill Perry and by Kissinger and others. And then I think that’s a discussion that is extremely important and has a lot of echoes around the world. The Cold War is over, and the Russians are not seeking to expand their power or their empire any longer. And we ought to draw the conclusions from that and come to a disarmament. AMY GOODMAN: The US is the number one superpower on earth. You have called the Western powers hypocritical in their approach to Iran and the nuclear issue. What is the single most important thing you think the US can do right now? HANS BLIX: I think that the most—the issue on the top of the agenda should be the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. That was negotiated for a good number of years, and it was agreed in the middle of the ’90s, and then it was rejected by the US Senate. And I see now that both Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton are favoring that this be concluded. I think if the US moved ahead under a new president—I don’t think that McCain has really ruled it out, either—if the US moved ahead and said that we will ratify it, then I think it’s very likely that the Chinese, who have not ratified, will follow. If India—if China does it, maybe India does. If India does, Pakistan does, etc. And the treaty would enter into force. It would be a great thing if we outlawed any nuclear weapons tests in the future. But there are also a number of other measures that would be high on the agenda: an agreement to stop the production of fissible material for weapons, for one thing, and quite a number—a whole catalog of items, really, that we could embark upon. But the sad fact is that the conference on disarmament that was set up by the United Nations years ago, that this has not been acting for over ten years now. And we need to [inaudible]. AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, Hans Blix. I want to thank you for being with us, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq.

...Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet....

Viciousness in the kitchen! The potatoes hiss. It is all Hollywood, windowless, The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine, Coy paper strips for doors -- Stage curtains, a widow’s frizz. And I, love, am a pathological liar, And my child -- look at her, face down on the floor, Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear -- Why she is schizophrenic, Her face is red and white, a panic, You have stuck her kittens outside your window In a sort of cement well Where they crap and puke and cry and she can’t hear. You say you can’t stand her, The bastard’s a girl. You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio Clear of voices and history, the staticky Noise of the new. You say I should drown the kittens. Their smell! You say I should drown my girl. She’ll cut her throat at ten if she’s mad at two. The baby smiles, fat snail, From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum. You could eat him. He’s a boy. You say your husband is just no good to you. His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl. You have one baby, I have two. I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair. I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair. We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, Me and you. Meanwhile there’s a stink of fat and baby crap. I’m doped and thick from my last sleeping pill. The smog of cooking, the smog of hell Floats our heads, two venemous opposites, Our bones, our hair. I call you Orphan, orphan. You are ill. The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.B. Once you were beautiful. In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: 'Through? Gee baby, you are rare.' You acted, acted for the thrill. The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee. I try to keep him in, An old pole for the lightning, The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you. He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill, Flogged trolley. The sparks are blue. The blue sparks spill, Splitting like quartz into a million bits. O jewel! O valuable! That night the moon Dragged its blood bag, sick Animal Up over the harbor lights. And then grew normal, Hard and apart and white. The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death. We kept picking up handfuls, loving it, Working it like dough, a mulatto body, The silk grits. A dog picked up your doggy husband. He went on. Now I am silent, hate Up to my neck, Thick, thick. I do not speak. I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes, I am packing the babies, I am packing the sick cats. O vase of acid, It is love you are full of. You know who you hate. He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate That opens to the sea Where it drives in, white and black, Then spews it back. Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher. You are so exhausted. Your voice my ear-ring, Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat. That is that. That is that. You peer from the door, Sad hag. 'Every woman’s a whore. I can’t communicate.' I see your cute décor Close on you like the fist of a baby Or an anemone, that sea Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac. I am still raw. I say I may be back. You know what lies are for. Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet. Lesbos, by Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Campaign in the US to Demand Extradition of Posada Carriles

Martes, 20 de Mayo A new national campaign to demand the White House extradites known terrorist Luis Posada Carriles will begin on May 20 in the US capital, announced the Free the Five organization ( on Friday. A conference will take place that day at the National Press Club in Washington under the auspices of the ANSWER coalition (Acts Now to Stop to the War and to put an End to Racism) to demand the criminal be tried for his acts. Among those misdeeds are the blowing up of a commercial Cubana de Aviation airplane in October 1976, which caused the death of all 73 people aboard. Likewise, Posada has been implicated in the lethal planting of bombs in hotels in Havana in 1997. According to ANSWER, there will also be a call made for the immediate release of the “Cuban Five,”—Ramón Labañino, René González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González— who have spent almost ten years in prison in the United States for monitoring Miami-based terrorist organizations responsible for crimes against Cuba. Among the speakers will be Wayne Smith, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana and now a senior researcher with the International Policy Center; José Pertierra, the lawyer representing Venezuela in the extradition request; Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder of the Association for Civil Justice; Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition; and Livio di Celmo, brother of Fabio di Celmo, a young Italian who was killed during the Havana hotel attacks masterminded by Posada. At the press conference, each media representative will receive two documentaries: Posada Carriles: Terrorism Made in the USA, and Mission Against Terror (on the case of the Cuban Five), indicated the bulletin of the National Committee to Free the Five. Two days later, on Thursday, May 22, at the University of California, will be held another conference called “Escaping from Justice: The History of an Exiled Terrorist.” On this occasion, in addition to Wayne Smith and José Pertierra, will be participating Roseanne Nenninger, who is the sister of the late Raymond Persaud, a victim of the explosion of the Cuban flight number 455; and Peter Kornbluh, an analyst of George Washington University’s National Security Archives. This past May 2, Luis Posada Carriles —the self-confessed assassin and known former CIA operative— again called for acts of terrorism against Cuba during a dinner in Miami attended by elements of the ultra-right Cuban-American mafia. /JR
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Who Owns the Federal Reserve?

Chart of who "owns" the Federal Reserve

Chart 1

Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence

Published 1976

Chart 1 reveals the linear connection between the Rothschilds and the Bank of England, and the London banking houses which ultimately control the Federal Reserve Banks through their stockholdings of bank stock and their subsidiary firms in New York. The two principal Rothschild representatives in New York, J. P. Morgan Co., and Kuhn,Loeb & Co. were the firms which set up the Jekyll Island Conference at which the Federal Reserve Act was drafted, who directed the subsequent successful campaign to have the plan enacted into law by Congress, and who purchased the controlling amounts of stock in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1914. These firms had their principal officers appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Advisory Council in 1914. In 1914 a few families (blood or business related) owning controlling stock in existing banks (such as in New York City) caused those banks to purchase controlling shares in the Federal Reserve regional banks. Examination of the charts and text in the House Banking Committee Staff Report of August, 1976 and the current stockholders list of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks show this same family control.

                                N.M. Rothschild , London - Bank of England
                             |                                     |
                             |                           J. Henry Schroder  

                             |                             Banking | Corp.
                             |                                     |
                       Brown, Shipley - Morgan Grenfell - Lazard - |
                        & Company        & Company       Brothers  |
                             |               |              |      |
         --------------------|        -------|              |      |
         |                   |        |      |              |      |
Alex Brown - Brown Bros. - Lord Mantagu - Morgan et Cie -- Lazard ---|
& Son      |  Harriman       Norman     |    Paris          Bros     |
         |                   |        /      |            N.Y.     |
         |                   |       |       |              |      |
         |            Governor, Bank | J.P. Morgan Co -- Lazard ---|
         |            of England    /  N.Y. Morgan       Freres    |
         |            1924-1938    /   Guaranty Co.      Paris     |
         |                        /    Morgan Stanley Co.  |      /
         |                       /           |              \Schroder Bank
         |                      /            |              Hamburg/Berlin
         |                     /      Drexel & Company         /
         |                    /       Philadelphia            /
         |                   /                               /
         |                  /                           Lord Airlie
         |                 /                               /
         |                /     M. M. Warburg       Chmn J. Henry Schroder
         |                |      Hamburg ---------  marr. Virginia F. Ryan
         |                |         |               grand-daughter of Otto
         |                |         |                Kahn of Kuhn Loeb Co.
         |                |         |                     
         |                |         |                     
Lehman Brothers N.Y -------------- Kuhn Loeb Co. N. Y.                      
         |                |     --------------------------                  
         |                |       |                      |                  
         |                |       |                      |
Lehman Brothers - Mont. Alabama   Solomon Loeb           Abraham Kuhn
         |                |     __|______________________|_________
Lehman-Stern, New Orleans   Jacob Schiff/Theresa Loeb  Nina Loeb/Paul Warburg
-------------------------    |       |                      |
          |               | Mortimer Schiff        James Paul Warburg
_____________|_______________/       |
|            |          |   |        |
Mayer Lehman |     Emmanuel Lehman    \
|            |          |              \
Herbert Lehman     Irving Lehman        \
|            |          |                \
Arthur Lehman \    Phillip Lehman     John Schiff/Edith Brevoort Baker
           /         |             Present Chairman Lehman Bros
          /  Robert Owen Lehman    Kuhn Loeb - Granddaughter of
         /           |             George F. Baker
        |           /               |
        |          /                |
        |         /           Lehman Bros Kuhn Loeb (1980)
        |        /                  |
        |       /             Thomas Fortune Ryan
        |      |                    |
        |      |                    |
   Federal Reserve Bank Of New York |
        ||||||||                    |
______National City Bank N. Y.       |
|        |                           |
|   National Bank of Commerce N.Y ---|
|        |                            \
|   Hanover National Bank N.Y.         \
|        |                              \
|   Chase National Bank N.Y.             \
|                                        |
|                                        |
Shareholders - National City Bank - N.Y.   |
-----------------------------------------  |
|                                        /
James Stillman                            /
Elsie m. William Rockefeller             /
Isabel m.  Percy Rockefeller            /
William Rockefeller          Shareholders - National Bank of Commerce N. Y.
J. P. Morgan                 -----------------------------------------------
M.T. Pyne                    Equitable Life - J.P. Morgan
Percy Pyne                   Mutual Life - J.P. Morgan
J.W. Sterling                H.P. Davison - J. P. Morgan
NY Trust/NY Edison           Mary W. Harriman
Shearman & Sterling          A.D. Jiullard - North British Merc. Insurance
|                            Jacob Schiff
|                            Thomas F. Ryan
|                            Paul Warburg
|                            Levi P. Morton - Guaranty Trust - J. P. Morgan
Shareholders - First National Bank of N.Y.
J.P. Morgan
George F. Baker
George F. Baker Jr.
Edith Brevoort Baker
US Congress - 1946-64
Shareholders - Hanover National Bank N.Y.
James Stillman
William Rockefeller
Shareholders - Chase National Bank N.Y.
George F. Baker

Chart 2

Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence

- Published 1983

The J. Henry Schroder Banking Company chart encompasses the entire history of the twentieth century, embracing as it does the program (Belgium Relief Commission) which provisioned Germany from 1915-1918 and dissuaded Germany from seeking peace in 1916; financing Hitler in 1933 so as to make a Second World War possible; backing the Presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover ; and even at the present time, having two of its major executives of its subsidiary firm, Bechtel Corporation serving as Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration.

The head of the Bank of England since 1973, Sir Gordon Richardson, Governor of the Bank of England (controlled by the House of Rothschild) was chairman of J. Henry Schroder Wagg and Company of London from 1963-72, and director of J. Henry Schroder,New York and Schroder Banking Corporation,New York,as well as Lloyd's Bank of London, and Rolls Royce. He maintains a residence on Sutton Place in New York City, and as head of "The London Connection," can be said to be the single most influential banker in the world.

                               J. Henry Schroder
                       Baron Rudolph Von Schroder
                        Hamburg - 1858 - 1934
                         Baron Bruno Von Schroder
                         Hamburg - 1867 - 1940
F. C. Tiarks                         |
1874-1952                            |
  |                                |
marr. Emma Franziska                 |
(Hamburg)                    Helmut B. Schroder
J. Henry Schroder 1902               |
Dir. Bank of England                 |
Dir. Anglo-Iranian                   |
Oil Company         J. Henry Schroder Banking Company N.Y.
                    J. Henry Schroder Trust Company N.Y.
               |                                        |
         Allen Dulles                              John Foster Dulles
       Sullivan & Cromwell                        Sullivan & Cromwell
       Director - CIA                             U. S. Secretary of State
                                                  Rockefeller Foundation

Prentiss Gray
Belgian Relief Comm.                     Lord Airlie
Chief Marine Transportation              -----------
US Food Administration WW I          Chairman; Virgina Fortune
Manati Sugar Co. American &          Ryan daughter of Otto Kahn
British Continental Corp.            of Kuhn,Loeb Co.
    |                                    |
    |                                    |
M. E. Rionda                               |
------------                               |
Pres. Cuba Cane Sugar Co.                   |
Manati Sugar Co. many other                 |
sugar companies.                     _______|    
    |                            |
    |                            |
G. A. Zabriskie                    |
---------------                    |                Emile Francoui
Chmn U.S. Sugar Equalization        |                --------------
Board 1917-18; Pres Empire          |            Belgian Relief Comm. Kai
Biscuit Co., Columbia Baking        |            Ping Coal Mines, Tientsin
Co. , Southern Baking Co.           |            Railroad,Congo Copper, La
                                 |            Banque Nationale de Belgique
          Suite 2000 42 Broadway | N. Y                      |
      |                          |                           |
      |                          |                           |
 Edgar Richard            Julius H. Barnes             Herbert Hoover
 -------------            ----------------             --------------
Belgium Relief Comm         Belgium Relief Comm       Chmn Belgium Relief Com
Amer Relief Comm            Pres Grain Corp.           U.S. Food Admin
U.S. Food Admin             U.S. Food Admin           Sec of Commerce 1924-28
1918-24, Hazeltine Corp.    1917-18, C.B Pitney       Kaiping Coal Mines
|                        Bowes Corp, Manati        Congo Copper, President
|                        Sugar Corp.                  U.S. 1928-32
John Lowery Simpson
Sacramento,Calif Belgium Relief                       |
Comm. U. S. Food Administration             Baron Kurt Von Schroder
Prentiss Gray Co. J. Henry Schroder         -----------------------
Trust, Schroder-Rockefeller, Chmn         Schroder Banking Corp. J.H. Stein
Fin Comm, Bechtel International           Bankhaus (Hitler's personal bank
Co. Bechtel Co. (Casper Weinberger        account) served on board of all
Sec of Defense, George P. Schultz         German subsidiaries of ITT . Bank
Sec of State (Reagan Admin).              for International Settlements,
         |                             SS Senior Group Leader,Himmler's
         |                             Circle of Friends (Nazi Fund),
         |                             Deutsche Reichsbank,president
Schroder-Rockefeller & Co. , N.Y.
Avery Rockefeller, J. Henry Schroder
Banking Corp., Bechtel Co., Bechtel
International Co. , Canadian Bechtel
Company.          |
      Gordon Richardson
Governor, Bank of England
1973-PRESENT C.B. of J. Henry Schroder N.Y.
Schroder Banking Co., New York, Lloyds Bank
Rolls Royce

Chart 3

Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence

- Published 1976

The David Rockefeller chart shows the link between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,Standard Oil of Indiana,General Motors and Allied Chemical Corportion (Eugene Meyer family) and Equitable Life (J. P. Morgan).

Chairman of the Board
Chase Manhattan Corp
Chase Manhattan Corp.        | 
Officer & Director Interlocks|---------------------
------|-----------------------                    |
   |                                           |
Private Investment Co. for America       Allied Chemicals Corp.
   |                                           |
Firestone Tire & Rubber Company          General Motors           
   |                                           |
Orion Multinational Services Ltd.        Rockefeller Family & Associates
   |                                           |
ASARCO. Inc                              Chrysler Corp.
   |                                           |
Southern Peru Copper Corp.               Intl' Basic Economy Corp.
   |                                           |
Industrial Minerva Mexico S.A.           R.H. Macy & Co.
   |                                           |
Continental Corp.                        Selected Risk Investments S.A.
   |                                           |
Honeywell Inc.                           Omega Fund, Inc.
   |                                           |
Northwest Airlines, Inc.                 Squibb Corporation
   |                                           |
Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.          Olin Foundation
   |                                           |
Minnesota Mining & Mfg Co (3M)           Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co. of NJ
   |                                           |
American Express Co.                            AT & T
   |                                           |
Hewlett Packard                          Pacific Northwestern Bell Co.
   |                                           |
FMC Corporation                          BeachviLime Ltd.
   |                                           |
Utah Intl' Inc.                          Eveleth Expansion Company
   |                                           |
Exxon Corporation                        Fidelity Union Bancorporation
   |                                           |
International Nickel/Canada              Cypress Woods Corporation
   |                                           |
Federated Capital Corporation            Intl' Minerals & Chemical Corp.
   |                                           |
Equitable Life Assurance Soc U.S.        Burlington Industries
   |                                           |
Federated Dept Stores                    Wachovia Corporation
   |                                           |
General Electric                         Jefferson Pilot Corporation
   |                                           |
Scott Paper Co.                          R. J. Reynolds Industries Inc.
   |                                           |
American Petroleum Institute             United States Steel Corp.
   |                                           |
Richardson Merril Inc.                   Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
   |                                           |
May Department Stores Co.                Norton-Simon Inc.
   |                                           |
Sperry Rand Corporation                  Stone-Webster Inc.
   |                                           |
San Salvador Development Company         Standard Oil of Indiana

Chart 4

Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence

- Published 1976

This chart shows the interlocks between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York J. Henry Schroder Banking Corp., J. Henry Schroder Trust Co., Rockefeller Center, Inc., Equitable Life Assurance Society ( J.P. Morgan), and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

 Alan Pifer, President
Carnegie Corporation
of New York
Carnegie Corporation
Trustee Interlocks       --------------------------
----------------------                            |
      |                                        |
Rockefeller Center, Inc                 J. Henry Schroder Trust Company
      |                                        |
The Cabot Corporation                   Paul Revere Investors, Inc.
      |                                        |
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston          Qualpeco, Inc.
Owens Corning Fiberglas
New England Telephone Co.
Fisher Scientific Company
Mellon National Corporation
Equitable Life Assurance Society
Twentieth Century Fox Corporation
J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation

Chart 5

Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence

- Published 1976

This chart shows the link between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Brown Brothers Harriman,Sun Life Assurance Co. (N.M. Rothschild and Sons), and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Maurice F. Granville
Chairman of The Board
Texaco Incorporated
Texaco Officer & Director Interlocks  ---------------- Liggett & Myers, Inc.
------------------------------------           |
     |                                      |
     |                                      |
L  Arabian American Oil Company            St John d'el Ray Mining Co. Ltd.
O      |                                      |
N  Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.           National Steel Corporation
D      |                                      |
O  Brown Harriman & Intl' Banks Ltd.       Massey-Ferguson Ltd.
N      |                                      |
 American Express                        Mutual Life Insurance Co.
     |                                      |
N. American Express Intl' Banking Corp.    Mass Mutual Income Investors Inc.
M.     |                                      |
 Anaconda                                United Services Life Ins. Co.
R      |                                      |
O  Rockefeller Foundation                  Fairchild Industries
T      |                                      |
H  Owens-Corning Fiberglas                 Blount, Inc.
S      |                                      |
C  National City Bank (Cleveland)          William Wrigley Jr. Co
H      |                                      |
I  Sun Life Assurance Co.                  National Blvd. Bank of Chicago
L      |                                      |
D  General Reinsurance                     Lykes Youngstown Corporation
     |                                      |
 General Electric (NBC)                  Inmount Corporation

** Source: Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence. Staff Report,Committee on Banking,Currency and Housing, House of Representatives, 94th Congress, 2nd Session, August 1976.


100 Top Corporate Air Polluters Named

By Michael Ash, t r u t h o u t | Report Monday 19 May 2008

Amherst, Massachusetts - Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts released the Toxic 100, an updated list of the top corporate air polluters in the United States.

"The Toxic 100 informs consumers and shareholders which large corporations release the most toxic pollutants into our air," said James K. Boyce, director of PERI's environment program. "We measure not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and how many people are at risk. People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed. Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents."

The Toxic 100 index is based on air releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the United States. The rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases, but also the relative toxicity of chemicals, nearby populations and transport factors such as prevailing winds and height of smokestacks.

The Toxic 100 index identifies the top US air polluters among corporations that appear in the Fortune 500, Fortune Global 500, Forbes Global 2000 and Standard & Poor's 500 lists of the world's largest corporations. The Toxic 100's top five companies are E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Nissan Motor, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Eastman Kodak and General Electric.

The new edition of the Toxic 100 for the first time includes foreign corporations with facilities in the United States. "This addition reveals a number of important sources of industrial toxic pollution," said Corporate Toxics Information Project co-director Michael Ash. Three of the top ten corporations in the Toxic 100 - Nissan, Bayer Group and Acelor Mittal - are foreign-based firms.

Users of the web-based list can view the details behind each company's Toxic Score, including the names and locations of individual facilities owned by the corporation, the specific chemicals emitted by those facilities, their toxicities and their contributions to the company's overall score.

A new feature of the web site is a look-up tool that allows users to access detailed information on all 7,000 companies with facilities in the EPA database as well as the Toxic 100 list of top polluters.

The data on chemical releases come from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The TRI is widely cited in press accounts that identify the top polluters in various localities. But reports based on TRI data alone have three limitations:

The Toxic 100 index tackles all three problems by using the most recent Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) data developed by the EPA. In addition to the TRI data, the RSEI data include toxicity weights and the number of people at risk. PERI researchers added up facility-by-facility RSEI data released by the EPA to construct corporate rankings.

"In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement," Boyce explains. "Our goal is to engender public participation in environmental decision-making, and to help residents translate the right to know into the right to clean air."

Toxic 100 Links

Toxic 100 home page.

Toxic 100 index.

Detailed company reports.

Technical Notes.

How Toxic is Toxic?

How Accurate are the RSEI Data?

Toxic 100 archive.


Michael Ash is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on the areas of health care, environmental justice, civil rights and health. For further information, contact Professor Michael Ash at (413) 545-6329 or visit PERI's Corporate Toxic Information Project on the web.

Iran busts CIA terror network

TEHRAN - The Intelligence Ministry on Saturday released details of the detection and dismantling of a terrorist network affiliated to the United States.

In a coordinated operation on May 7, Iranian intelligence agents arrested the terrorist network’s members, who were identified in Fars, Khuzestan, Gilan, West Azerbaijan, and Tehran provinces, the Intelligence Ministry announcement said. The group’s plans were devised in the U.S., according to the announcement, which added that they had planned to carry out a number of acts such as bombing scientific, educational, and religious centers, shooting people, and making public places in various cities insecure. One of the terrorists was killed in the operation, but the rest are in detention, the Intelligence Ministry said, adding that the group’s main objective was to create fear among the people. The United States Central Intelligence Agency comprehensively supported the terrorist group by arming it, training its members, and sponsoring its inhumane activities in Iran, the Intelligence Ministry stated. The terrorists had maps, films, pictures, and sketches of important and sensitive sites in various cities in their possession when they were arrested. They also had a large number of weapons and ammunition and a great deal of highly explosive chemicals and cyanide. The blast at a religious center in Shiraz last month was carried out by this group, and it also had plans to carry out similar attacks on the Tehran International Book Fair, the Russian Consulate in Gilan Province, oil pipelines in southern Iran, and other targets, the communiqué stated. Thirteen people were killed and over 190 others wounded in a bombing carried out on April 12 at the Rahpuyan-e Vessal religious center, which is part of the Seyyed-ul-Shohada Mosque complex, located in a residential area of Shiraz.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Alan Watts: Meaningless Life

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

[Thanks again dada] By Chalmers Johnson, Truthdig. Posted May 19, 2008. Reviewed: Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon S. Wolin (Princeton University Press, 2008) It is not news that the United States is in great trouble. The pre-emptive war it launched against Iraq more than five years ago was and is a mistake of monumental proportions -- one that most Americans still fail to acknowledge. Instead they are arguing about whether we should push on to "victory" when even our own generals tell us that a military victory is today inconceivable. Our economy has been hollowed out by excessive military spending over many decades while our competitors have devoted themselves to investments in lucrative new industries that serve civilian needs. Our political system of checks and balances has been virtually destroyed by rampant cronyism and corruption in Washington, D.C., and by a two-term president who goes around crowing "I am the decider," a concept fundamentally hostile to our constitutional system. We have allowed our elections, the one nonnegotiable institution in a democracy, to be debased and hijacked -- as was the 2000 presidential election in Florida -- with scarcely any protest from the public or the self-proclaimed press guardians of the "Fourth Estate." We now engage in torture of defenseless prisoners although it defames and demoralizes our armed forces and intelligence agencies. The problem is that there are too many things going wrong at the same time for anyone to have a broad understanding of the disaster that has overcome us and what, if anything, can be done to return our country to constitutional government and at least a degree of democracy. By now, there are hundreds of books on particular aspects of our situation -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bloated and unsupervised "defense" budgets, the imperial presidency and its contempt for our civil liberties, the widespread privatization of traditional governmental functions, and a political system in which no leader dares even to utter the words imperialism and militarism in public. There are, however, a few attempts at more complex analyses of how we arrived at this sorry state. They include Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, on how "private" economic power now is almost coequal with legitimate political power; John W. Dean, Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, on the perversion of our main defenses against dictatorship and tyranny; Arianna Huffington, Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe, on the manipulation of fear in our political life and the primary role played by the media; and Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, on Ten Steps to Fascism and where we currently stand on this staircase. My own book, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, on militarism as an inescapable accompaniment of imperialism, also belongs to this genre. We now have a new, comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. For well over two generations, Sheldon Wolin taught the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present to Berkeley and Princeton graduate students (including me; I took his seminars at Berkeley in the late 1950s, thus influencing my approach to political science ever since). He is the author of the prize-winning classic Politics and Vision (1960; expanded edition, 2006) and Tocqueville Between Two Worlds (2001), among many other works. His new book, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States -- including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia. The hour is very late and the possibility that the American people might pay attention to what is wrong and take the difficult steps to avoid a national Gtterdmmerung are remote, but Wolin's is the best analysis of why the presidential election of 2008 probably will not do anything to mitigate our fate. This book demonstrates why political science, properly practiced, is the master social science. Wolin's work is fully accessible. Understanding his argument does not depend on possessing any specialized knowledge, but it would still be wise to read him in short bursts and think about what he is saying before moving on. His analysis of the contemporary American crisis relies on a historical perspective going back to the original constitutional agreement of 1789 and includes particular attention to the advanced levels of social democracy attained during the New Deal and the contemporary mythology that the U.S., beginning during World War II, wields unprecedented world power. Given this historical backdrop, Wolin introduces three new concepts to help analyze what we have lost as a nation. His master idea is "inverted totalitarianism," which is reinforced by two subordinate notions that accompany and promote it -- "managed democracy" and "Superpower," the latter always capitalized and used without a direct article. Until the reader gets used to this particular literary tic, the term Superpower can be confusing. The author uses it as if it were an independent agent, comparable to Superman or Spiderman, and one that is inherently incompatible with constitutional government and democracy. Wolin writes, "Our thesis is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively 'strong democracy' instead of a 'failed' one." His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. "Democracy," he writes, "is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs." It depends on the existence of a demos -- "a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office." Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution. "No working man or ordinary farmer or shopkeeper," Wolin points out, "helped to write the Constitution." He argues, "The American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy. It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has been and continues to be ordered." Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a true demos prevailed. To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: "inverted totalitarianism," a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens in prison -- 751 per 100,000 people -- of any nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has "emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions." The genius of our inverted totalitarian system "lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. A demotion in the status and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed." Among the factors that have promoted inverted totalitarianism are the practice and psychology of advertising and the rule of "market forces" in many other contexts than markets, continuous technological advances that encourage elaborate fantasies (computer games, virtual avatars, space travel), the penetration of mass media communication and propaganda into every household in the country, and the total co-optation of the universities. Among the commonplace fables of our society are hero worship and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, action measured in nanoseconds, and a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose adepts are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge. Masters of this world are masters of images and their manipulation. Wolin reminds us that the image of Adolf Hitler flying to Nuremberg in 1934 that opens Leni Riefenstahl's classic film "Triumph of the Will" was repeated on May 1, 2003, with President George Bush's apparent landing of a Navy warplane on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to proclaim "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. On inverted totalitarianism's "self-pacifying" university campuses compared with the usual intellectual turmoil surrounding independent centers of learning, Wolin writes, "Through a combination of governmental contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors, universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals, scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system. No books burned, no refugee Einsteins. For the first time in the history of American higher education top professors are made wealthy by the system, commanding salaries and perks that a budding CEO might envy." The main social sectors promoting and reinforcing this modern Shangri-La are corporate power, which is in charge of managed democracy, and the military-industrial complex, which is in charge of Superpower. The main objectives of managed democracy are to increase the profits of large corporations, dismantle the institutions of social democracy (Social Security, unions, welfare, public health services, public housing and so forth), and roll back the social and political ideals of the New Deal. Its primary tool is privatization. Managed democracy aims at the "selective abdication of governmental responsibility for the well-being of the citizenry" under cover of improving "efficiency" and cost-cutting. Wolin argues, "The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even dominant partner with the state. It marks the transformation of American politics and its political culture from a system in which democratic practices and values were, if not defining, at least major contributing elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically dismantled." This campaign has largely succeeded. "Democracy represented a challenge to the status quo, today it has become adjusted to the status quo." One other subordinate task of managed democracy is to keep the citizenry preoccupied with peripheral and/or private conditions of human life so that they fail to focus on the widespread corruption and betrayal of the public trust. In Wolin's words, "The point about disputes on such topics as the value of sexual abstinence, the role of religious charities in state-funded activities, the question of gay marriage, and the like, is that they are not framed to be resolved. Their political function is to divide the citizenry while obscuring class differences and diverting the voters' attention from the social and economic concerns of the general populace." Prominent examples of the elite use of such incidents to divide and inflame the public are the Terri Schiavo case of 2005, in which a brain-dead woman was kept artificially alive, and the 2008 case of women and children living in a polygamous commune in Texas who were allegedly sexually mistreated. Another elite tactic of managed democracy is to bore the electorate to such an extent that it gradually fails to pay any attention to politics. Wolin perceives, "One method of assuring control is to make electioneering continuous, year-round, saturated with party propaganda, punctuated with the wisdom of kept pundits, bringing a result boring rather than energizing, the kind of civic lassitude on which managed democracy thrives." The classic example is certainly the nominating contests of the two main American political parties during 2007 and 2008, but the dynastic "competition" between the Bush and Clinton families from 1988 to 2008 is equally relevant. It should be noted that between a half and two-thirds of qualified voters have recently failed to vote, thus making the management of the active electorate far easier. Wolin comments, "Every apathetic citizen is a silent enlistee in the cause of inverted totalitarianism." It remains to be seen whether an Obama candidacy can reawaken these apathetic voters, but I suspect that Wolin would predict a barrage of corporate media character assassination that would end this possibility. Managed democracy is a powerful solvent for any vestiges of democracy left in the American political system, but its powers are weak in comparison with those of Superpower. Superpower is the sponsor, defender and manager of American imperialism and militarism, aspects of American government that have always been dominated by elites, enveloped in executive-branch secrecy, and allegedly beyond the ken of ordinary citizens to understand or oversee. Superpower is preoccupied with weapons of mass destruction, clandestine manipulation of foreign policy (sometimes domestic policy, too), military operations, and the fantastic sums of money demanded from the public by the military-industrial complex. (The U.S. military spends more than all other militaries on Earth combined. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion; the next closest national military budget is China's at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.) Foreign military operations literally force democracy to change its nature: "In order to cope with the imperial contingencies of foreign war and occupation," according to Wolin, "democracy will alter its character, not only by assuming new behaviors abroad (e.g., ruthlessness, indifference to suffering, disregard of local norms, the inequalities in ruling a subject population) but also by operating on revised, power-expansive assumptions at home. It will, more often than not, try to manipulate the public rather than engage its members in deliberation. It will demand greater powers and broader discretion in their use ('state secrets'), a tighter control over society's resources, more summary methods of justice, and less patience for legalities, opposition, and clamor for socioeconomic reforms." Imperialism and democracy are, in Wolin's terms, literally incompatible, and the ever greater resources devoted to imperialism mean that democracy will inevitably wither and die. He writes, "Imperial politics represents the conquest of domestic politics and the latter's conversion into a crucial element of inverted totalitarianism. It makes no sense to ask how the democratic citizen could 'participate' substantively in imperial politics; hence it is not surprising that the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire." From the time of the United States' founding, its citizens have had a long history of being complicit in the country's imperial ventures, including its transcontinental expansion at the expense of native Americans, Mexicans and Spanish imperialists. Theodore Roosevelt often commented that Americans were deeply opposed to imperialism because of their successful escape from the British empire but that "expansionism" was in their blood. Over the years, American political analysis has carefully tried to separate the military from imperialism, even though militarism is imperialism's inescapable accompaniment. The military creates the empire in the first place and is indispensable to its defense, policing and expansion. Wolin observes, "That the patriotic citizen unswervingly supports the military and its huge budgets means that conservatives have succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from the government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed from public debate." It has taken a long time, but under George W. Bush's administration the United States has finally achieved an official ideology of imperial expansion comparable to those of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianisms. In accordance with the National Security Strategy of the United States (allegedly drafted by Condoleezza Rice and proclaimed on Sept. 9, 2002), the United States is now committed to what it calls "preemptive war." Wolin explains: "Preemptive war entails the projection of power abroad, usually against a far weaker country, comparable say, to the Nazi invasion of Belgium and Holland in 1940. It declares that the United States is justified in striking at another country because of a perceived threat that U.S. power will be weakened, severely damaged, unless it reacts to eliminate the danger before it materializes. Preemptive war is Lebensraum [Hitler's claim that his imperialism was justified by Germany's need for "living room"] for the age of terrorism." This was, of course, the official excuse for the American aggression against Iraq that began in 2003. Many analysts, myself included, would conclude that Wolin has made a close to airtight case that the American republic's days are numbered, but Wolin himself does not agree. Toward the end of his study he produces a wish list of things that should be done to ward off the disaster of inverted totalitarianism: "rolling back the empire, rolling back the practices of managed democracy; returning to the idea and practices of international cooperation rather than the dogmas of globalization and preemptive strikes; restoring and strengthening environmental protections; reinvigorating populist politics; undoing the damage to our system of individual rights; restoring the institutions of an independent judiciary, separation of powers, and checks and balances; reinstating the integrity of the independent regulatory agencies and of scientific advisory processes; reviving representative systems responsive to popular needs for health care, education, guaranteed pensions, and an honorable minimum wage; restoring governmental regulatory authority over the economy; and rolling back the distortions of a tax code that toadies to the wealthy and corporate power." Unfortunately, this is more a guide to what has gone wrong than a statement of how to fix it, particularly since Wolin believes that our political system is "shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors." It is extremely unlikely that our party apparatus will work to bring the military-industrial complex and the 16 secret intelligence agencies under democratic control. Nonetheless, once the United States has followed the classical totalitarianisms into the dustbin of history, Wolin's analysis will stand as one of the best discourses on where we went wrong.

Socialists strongly criticize McCain’s Iraq War timetable

Stewart A. Alexander Nominee for Vice President Socialist Party USA Candidate for Vice President Peace and Freedom Party May 18, 2008 On March 19, 2008, the U.S. occupation of Iraq entered into the sixth year; now Republican presidential contender, Senator John McCain is saying that “he believes the Iraq War can be won by 2013,” according to the Associated Press. Socialists, nationwide are sharply critical of John McCain’s irresponsible statement to suggest that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan for another five years. Socialist Party USA and Peace and Freedom Party, both socialist parties, are opposing any further delays or future deadlines that would be required to bring American troops home. Within the past two months, U.S. casualties in Iraq eclipsed the 4,000 mark, and more than 500 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan. Recent estimates indicate that there are more than 1,209,000 Iraqis casualties due to the war, and there are more than 4,200,000 Iraqi refugees. Recent scientific estimates project that the war will cost more than $3 trillion, and that estimated cost will likely be far too low as the war drags on. Though the cost of the war, in terms of Americans lives, are few by comparison of earlier wars, the Vietnam War, WWI and WWII, and the Korean War, every soldier lost is a lost of life that is shared by family, friends and a nation that is demanding the troops be brought home. There are many other serious costs that must be considered; many U.S. soldiers will be burden by the cost of the war for years to come. Thousands of soldiers are scared for life; being required to fight extended tours, many troops are suffering mental and emotional trauma; and many soldiers have already revealed that they are not receiving the professional care and financial assistance that should be available from the U.S. government. Contrary to the claims of the Bush administration and the two corporate parties, the Democrats and Republicans, the war is not to protect American freedoms or our independence, the war is not about Iraqi freedom; the Iraq War is about oil and to stabilize a puppet government in Iraq that will serve the corporate oil interests. Information available, both before and after the onset of the war, shows that Iraq was no military threat to the United States, it had no weapons of mass destruction and contrary to the claims of the Bush administration, the Iraq government, under Suddam Hussein, had no involvement in the attacks of September 11, 2001. However, in the presence of overwhelming evidence, the Bush administration and the two corporate parties have spent over $500 billion to destroy a sovereign nation. Senator John McCain is gambling that the road to the White House is to follow in the foot steps of President Bush, promising to fight a senseless and criminal war to advance U.S. imperialism. Unfortunately, millions of working people will be required to make greater sacrifices, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the corporate ruling class and global capitalists. For more information, search the Web for Stewart A. Alexander; Independent voters rejecting Democrats and Republicans.

"Moyers on Democracy" - by Bill Moyers

[Thanks to Star Vox for this post] Submitted by Star Vox on Sun, 05/18/2008 - 9:41pm.

If you are interested, I recommend Green's Air America Radio interview with Moyers (from this weekend).


The following is an excerpt from Moyers on Democracy by Bill Moyers (Doubleday, 2008).


    Democracy in America is a series of narrow escapes, and we may be running out of luck.

    The reigning presumption about the American experience, as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has written, is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is "better" than the past and the future will bring even more improvement.

    For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves,

    "The system works."

    Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -- and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions.

    A sense of political impotence pervades the country -- a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as "believing the dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but not believing it privately."

    We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges.

    Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny.

    [Ironically, the next election's theme could be: Hope vs. Fear!]


    [I am looking forward to reading the new book by Moyers. Here is an especially interesting excerpt which emphasizes the growing inequality in America. The link has a longer excerpt from the book.]

    Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists: "No one can eliminate prejudices -- just recognize them."

    Here is my bias: extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics.

    When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution; mocks Lincoln's sacred belief in "government of the people, by the people, and for the people"; mocks the democratic notion of government as "a voluntary union for the common good" embodied in the great wave of reform that produced the Progressive Era and the two Roosevelts.


n.b. air-ono: The system is working.

Moyers: 'Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck'


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peace & Freedom Party June Primary is Crucial to Party’s Presidential Choice

May 18th, 2008 California holds a primary on June 3 for all office except president. Among the offices at stake in the Peace & Freedom Party primary are contests for county central committee. The PFP presidential primary in February was merely a “beauty contest” with no binding results. The truly meaningful presidential primary is the June event, because the county central committee members will collectively comprise the state central committee, and the state central committee will choose the party’s presidential nominee at a state convention in August. The process is somewhat burdensome to Peace & Freedom Party rank-and-file members, because the ballot just lists the candidates for county central committee. Some of the candidates support Gloria La Riva, some support Cynthia McKinney, some support Brian Moore, some support Ralph Nader. But the ballot doesn’t show these preferences. In addition, there are a fair number of write-in candidates for county central committee, and many voters won’t know anything about the write-in candidates, even though each California polling place will have a list of the declared write-in candidates for all offices, including party office.

'Worst poet' outsells boy wizard

A private collector has paid £6,600 for poems by the man ridiculed as "the world's worst poet". A total of 35 of William McGonagall's works - many of them autographed - have been up for auction in Edinburgh. The ditties by "The Tayside Tragedian" went for more than a collection of Harry Potter first editions signed by author JK Rowling. McGonagall, who died in 1902, was often mocked and had food thrown at him during readings in Dundee. He was born in Edinburgh in 1825, but spent much of his life in Dundee as a handloom weaver in the jute mills. He did not start writing poems until he was 47, but went on to write about subjects including Scottish battles and Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. He also took pleasure in writing about death and catastrophe, and his most famous work was a poem about the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879. A section from it reads: "So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay, Until it was about midway, Then the central girders with a crash gave way, And down went the train and passengers into the Tay..." Alex Dove, from auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull, said: "He was a confident gentleman who thought that his poetry was some of the best. "He once walked all the way to Balmoral to try to become Poet Laureate. Unfortunately the Queen wasn't in. "He spent a lot of time on the streets of Dundee trying to sell his poems and performing them, much to the amusement of the residents. "Poet-baiting became quite an activity for the students of the time, where they would encourage him to perform, and then they would throw eggs and vegetables at him. ...

Chávez blames Bush, not U.S.

[Thanks to Kevin for this link] Speaking with U.S. newspaper editors, he says he wants to reach out to whoever is elected president in November. CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chávez says Venezuela's beef with the United States is all about George Bush, and the government will reach out quickly to the new American president. In a wide-ranging interview Thursday with a group of visiting American newspaper editors, Chávez said he respected the American people and wished to "beg for forgiveness if in my speech I have hurt any feelings back in the States." He said his criticism is aimed at "the elite that is governing the United States, and not even all the elite." Of the American presidential candidates, Chávez said, "It would be a lie to say I have no preference." But "I shouldn't say anything that would be used against someone." Chávez wants to start immediate exchanges with whoever is elected. "It is through talking that we can then come closer and share and compare our views and then reach an agreement." Chávez said he had been able to talk with President Clinton about many topics, "but after that everything broke to pieces."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Posted by Ellwort

Eminem (which one?) Submitted by ellwort on Sun, 05/18/2008 - 1:08am. Here's a great parodic construction - an Eminem retelling of Beowulf. A friend sent me this when I was taking Old English in New Haven. I sent it to the REAL teacher, who's really good and who said this was one of the best readings she'd seen of that old epic. Dunno who really did this. Also, since I think there's no longer a link to this, I'm pasting it in here: Rapper Eminem Joins Yale Faculty "Real Slim Shady" to Teach Beowulf, Chaucer NEW HAVEN, CONN. - Yale president Dr. Richard Levin ended weeks of media speculation yesterday when he confirmed that rapper Eminem will teach at the prestigious university this fall. According to Dr. Levin, the controversial Detroit-based vocalist will lecture in Anglo-Saxon and old English poetry, with a focus on Beowulf, a work that Levin described as "a popular Medieval epic." "We’re very excited that Mr. Eminem is joining the Yale family," Levin stated at a press conference. "The faculty feel they just aren’t reaching the students these days, that we aren’t even speaking the same language any more. We finally decided that a culture change is required, and one day Mr. Eminem’s name came up. I warmed to the idea right away. Having a star of Mr. Eminem’s caliber on campus will prove to our young people that school’s still cool, if you will; that literature professors aren’t just a bunch of swinging dicks with our noses stuck in old books." "Solid," commented an unnamed journalist. "Shit sounds like the bomb, Professor." "Word," replied Levin. "Very much so." When asked if he believed Eminem’s own assertion that he is the "real" Slim Shady, Dr. Levin hesitated. "Based on the facts I have, yes, I think he is. His look is brutal, his rhymes are bad as shit, and he rocks all the bitches, all the time." When pressed on the issue, Levin would only say that, "If there’s a truer Slim Shady in all of academia, I certainly haven’t met him." Levin refused to comment extensively on Eminem’s recent legal troubles. The entertainer is alleged to have assaulted a man he believed was getting jiggy with his old lady. In Levin’s words, "The only information I have about the incident is that which Mr. Eminem himself gave me." When asked to elaborate, Dr. Levin replied, "Well, he was all, 'I was pissed off! I really felt that I wanted to do that shit. At one point in time, I really wanted to do that shit. For real.'" Levin paused, then added, "And besides, as we all know, Money’s hookahs be his own damn bid’ness." Eminem himself was not available for comment at press time. Roger Carlisle, legal counsel for the embattled superstar, issued the following statement: "Mr. Eminem looks forward to sharing his passion for Anglo-Saxon verse with the gifted young minds at Yale. He's amped. He’s into it. His shit is tight." The university later released the following sample from Eminem’s fall lecture notes on Beowulf: Book One: The Hall Heorot is Attacked by Grendel His name is Grendel, that evil bitch Switch cocked a hit to the Hall Heorot Its not a Hall for him, that son of Cain But, slain he did about thirty Danes. Book Two: The Coming of Beowulf to Heorot "Punk ass mofo cocked his fist to my boys," Spoke Hygelac to Beowulf (whom he employs) [In a manner of speaking, it was Hygelac who sought revenge, and thus in turn hired his bravest soldier Of the Danish Army, Beowulf, and then, at his behest, Beowulf did set sail to Heorot.] Book Three: The Feast at Heorot Brothers be feastin’ like a herd of Nell Carters In comes Unferth talkin’ bout the waters-- How our main nigga Wulf lost a snap to Brecca, Heck yeah, but now Wulf’s betta, spit em out like feta, Cheese, put you on your knees, beggin, "Oh please, Go find Grendel." Book Four: The Fight with Grendel Pump, pump goes Wulfie, throw up your hands, stand, in the air I got clout, gonna take you out, spout, your blood Buck, buck you down, Grendel, down like Skylab: Down like feathers, Lewinsky, and mad TAB. Book Five: Celebration at Heorot Sup, Sup for da killah, cold chowin’ wid his boys Got Sigemund, not Freud, dragon couldn’t avoid His sword, got Hrothgar there givin’ props to Beo, "You gotta new Daddy now--I’m takin’ charge like Baio!" Book Six: Grendel’s Mother Attacks "I’m Grendel’s mother, yes I’m the real mutha All those other Grendel’s muthas are just undercover So won’t the real Grendel’s mother please stand up? Please stand up! Please stand up!" This Grendel’s mother was a tough-ass ho Like my main dudes from Hazard, Luke and Bo Slice the Danes like Velveeta, thick and cheesy She got Ginsu on the ass of the great man Aschere. Book Seven: Beowulf Attacks Grendel’s Mother Bitch be flipped like Wilson, like a flapjack on Sunday Beowulf, his sword Hrunting Go hunting, bitch punting Drop momma to the mat like my boy Max Schmelling But his trusty sword’s limp, like Philip K’s dick, So he grabs another blade and runs it through her quick. Book Eight: Further Celebration at Heorot "Give props to Allah, Lord God Mighty, He’s tidy, mighty fine, he’s guzzlin’ down Shasta Through the portals of Time." Book Nine: Beowulf Returns Home Welcomed back to the hood Like comin’ back from Desert Storm All the hussies in the house be feelin’ up his form. Spake the hero: "I cleaned house like Pledge, like Florence, like Hazel I’m the quicker picker upper from the planet Fatal." Book Ten: Beowulf and the Dragon Dear Diary, Fifty years gone by and I’ve not a thing to complain about. Really, all has been quite fine. But what’s this. . .? Book Eleven: Beowulf Attacks the Dragon Fire-breathin’, scaly-demon, no-money lizard Settin’ things ablaze like a cheap-ass Mr. Wizard Wulfie grabs the mike, tips his cap to the ladies, Starts talking smack to reptilian Slim Shady: "Step back, man; ain’t got no Fate, man. But when I grab the mike I rock a phat jam." [The dragon, puzzled at the absence of both mike and ladies, continues along his path of wanton Destruction until Beowulf’s kinsman Wiglaf intervenes.] "Yo yo yo, I’m krazy-ass Wiglaf, Fightin’ dragons to the death, so you can just kiss off." But Wulf’s fucked up, he’s wounded and bleeding; Wig busts a cap into the ass of the seething. Book Twelve: Beowulf’s Funeral They torched Wulf’s body like it was Hester Prynn Shipped him out to sea cuz he couldn’t swim. And that be the end of brave Beowulf--huh! Massive props to that nigga: he was full-on nutz.

Air Force Aims for 'Full Control' of 'Any and All' Computers

By Noah Shachtman The Air Force wants a suite of hacker tools, to give it "access" to -- and "full control" of -- any kind of computer there is. And once the info warriors are in, the Air Force wants them to keep tabs on their "adversaries' information infrastructure completely undetected." The government is growing increasingly interested in waging war online. The Air Force recently put together a "Cyberspace Command," with a charter to rule networks the way its fighter jets rule the skies. The Department of Homeland Security, Darpa, and other agencies are teaming up for a five-year, $30 billion "national cybersecurity initiative."

Grow Them Young, Pay Them Well - Anti-Chavistas, That Is - by Stephen Lendman

Who said crime doesn't pay? Read on. The Washington-based Cato Institute is all about "Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace," or so says its web site. It's been around since 1977 preaching limited government and free market religion with plenty of high-octane corporate funding for backing. It better have it for the award it presented on May 15. It was to a 23 year old fifth year Venezuelan law student at Universidad Catolica Andres Bello. Yon Goicoechea was the fourth recipient of the "Milton Friedman Liberty Prize" in the amount of $500,000. For what? What else. For serving the interests of capital back home and leading anti-Chavista protests. Goicoechea is leader of Venezuela's "pro-democracy student movement" that in Cato's words "prevented Hugo Chavez's regime from seizing broad dictatorial powers in December 2007." The reference is to the narrow defeat of Venezuela's reform referendum last December. Goicoechea led student-organized street violence against Venezuela's democracy, but don't look for Cato to say that. It played up Goicoechea's "pivotal role in organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil rights in his country (that) would have concentrated unprecendented political and economic power in the hands of the government." Instead, he chooses "tolerance" and the "human right to seek prosperity." He's been active since student and other opposition emerged against the Chavez government's refusal (with ample justification) to renew RCTV's VHF operating license last May. Then, and in the run-up to last December's referendum, Cato says he stood down "ongoing death threats and continual intimidation due to his prominent and vocal leadership." He's been "indispensable in organizing massive, peaceful protest marches that have captured the world's attention." In fact, there were no death threats but plenty of hard right intimidation targeting Chavistas with tools like Goicoechea a part of it. Cato founder and president Edward Crane said "We hope the Friedman Prize will help further his non-violent advocacy for basic freedoms in an increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic Venezuela." Far right novelist Mario Vargas Llosa added that "freedom is disappearing" in Venezuela, and "Goicoechea is a symbol of (a) democratic reaction when (it's) threatened." Goicoechea received his award at a $500 a plate dinner at New York's Waldorf Astoria. Prominent corporate and government types attended, all representing far right interests. None explain how Bolivarianism works, its participatory democracy, its commitment to Venezuela's people, or how it's lifted millions in the country out of desperate poverty. Nor is there comment on a model process, impressive social reforms, supremely democratic elections, or Hugo Chavez's immense popularity. An April 24 - May 2 Venezuela Data Analysis Institute (IVAD) poll puts him at 68.8%. That compares to comparable George Bush ones with some of the lowest ratings ever for a US president. No discussion either of how student opposition is funded or for what purpose. That their money comes from US agencies like the misnamed National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, the International Republican Institute, and other pro-business US and international agencies and organizations. CIA's part of it, too. Highlighted are Goicoechea's plans with the money - to challenge Bolivarianism back home and work to subvert it. With those ideas and Cato's backing, he's sure to remain a hard right favorite. He'll also be busy and well-compensated - for more destabilization against the most democratic government in the hemisphere. That's what Goicoecheas are for - to sabotage democracy, subvert equity and justice, topple populist governments, and make Venezuela "friendlier" for business. Goicoechea now heads home fully briefed for his role, but don't expect Cato to explain it. It's to support capital's divine right, privilege over beneficial social change, and the rights of the few over the many. It's to mobilize indignation against a leader who works for all Venezuelans, especially those in greatest need. Who uses his country's oil wealth for his people, not elitist business interests. For having a Constitution that mandates it. For gaining overwhelming popular support and becoming a hero to millions. For wanting others to share in what Venezuelans have. For believing all people matter, not just the privileged. For becoming the greatest of all threats to the empire (and Cato) determined to stop him. For failing so far. For seeing him gain strength and stature. For securing grassroots allies everywhere. For needing many Goicoecheas to oppose him, but not nearly enough to prevail. His "non-violent advocacy" and "peaceful" protesting went like this - promoting class warfare; wanting Chavez toppled; and following CIA diktats to: -- "take to the streets; protest with violent disruptive actions across the nation; create a climate of ungovernability; provoke a general uprising; isolate Chavez" internationally; destabilize the government; disrupt the constitutional process; sustain aggressive agitprop; build unity among the opposition; and end Chavismo and Bolivarianism so capital can get back in control. Last year, Goicoechea responded by engaging in violent street clashes; targeting pro-Chavez students, police and the National Guard; smashing windows; turning over and setting cars alight; starting other fires; burning tires; throwing rocks and bottles; engaging in a shootout at Caracas' Central University; seeing Venezuela's business media report "peaceful, civic and democratic" students were attacked without provocation; and getting full US (and Cato) backing for all of the above. Like others of his class, Goicoechea enjoys privilege and wants to keep it. He's also unwilling to share it, and he puts it this way: "We have to fight for our future, for our rights," and you know whose he means. "If we don't fight for our freedoms, we won't be able to take part in a democratic Venezuela in the future." He means democracy for the few like in pre-Chavez days. Gabriela Calderon shares that view as editor of, Cato's Spanish language website. She's young, well-educated, anti-Chavez, and also against Bolivarianism's spread to her native country of Ecuador. Cato says she's a "frontline" warrior in "the struggle against Hugo Chavez's '21st century socialism,' which is threatening to engulf all of Latin America." She, in turn, calls populists like Chavez and Ecuador's President Raphael Correa "the reactionary right" for in Cato's words: "pushing for greater state control over the economy and people's lives. By contrast, she - and - advocates for individual freedom." That means privatizing everything, favoring property over people, privilege over the needy, crowding out dissent, and getting well-rewarded for supporting all of the above. These are imperial interests. Youths like Goicoechea and Calderon are its tools, and organizations like Cato are front and center supporting them. It's bankrolled by business, given clear marching orders, and they're full of high-octane markets uber alles religion. But in the spirit of "Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace." Orwell would approve. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM - 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Did Hezbollah Thwart a Planned Bush-Olmert Attack on Lebanon?

This week Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief Major General Amos Yadlin complained to the Israeli daily Haaretz that “Hezbollah proved that it was the strongest power in Lebanon… stronger than the Lebanese and it had wanted to take the government it could have done it.” He said Hezbollah continued to pose a “significant” threat to Israel as its rockets could reach a large part of Israeli territory.”

Yadlin was putting it mildly.

But what Intelligence Chief Yadlin did not reveal to the Israeli public was just how “significant” but also “immediate” the Hezbollah threat was on May 11. Nor was he willing to divulge the fact that he received information via US and French channels that if the planned attack on Lebanon’s capitol went forward, that in the view of the US intelligence community Tel Aviv would be subject to “approximately 600 Hezbollah rockets in the first 24 hours in retaliation and at least that number on the following day”.

The Israeli Intel Chief also declined to reveal that despite Israel’s recent psyche-war camping about various claimed missile shields “the State of Israel is perfecting”, that this claim is being ridiculed at the Pentagon. “Israel will not achieve an effective shield against the current generation of rockets, even assuming no technological improvements in the current rockets aimed at it, for another 20 years. And that assumes the US will continue to fund their research and development for the hoped for shields”, according to Pentagon, US Senate Intelligence Committee, and very well informed Lebanese sources.

The planned attack on Beirut

According to US Senate Intelligence Committee sources, the Bush administration initially green-lighted the intended May 11 Israel ‘demonstration of solidarity’ with the pro-Bush administration militias, some with which Israel has maintained ties since the days of Bashir Gemayal and Ariel Sharon.

In the end, “the Bush administration got cold feet”, a Congressional source revealed. So did Israel.

Israel was not willing to proceed with the original Bush Administration idea which was to have Bush attend the May 15 Israel anniversary celebrations following the Israeli attack meant to hit Hezbollah hard, and give Bush the credit for coming to the dangerous region. The message was to be that Bush comes to the rescue on horseback and leads the US Calvary charge straight out of a B western movie where the bugle would sound and flag would be unfurled and the white hat good guys would show their stuff before riding into the sunset and back to Texas, leaving the results to the likely Obama administration to sort out.

The plan involved Israeli air strikes on South and West Beirut in support of forces it was assured would be able to surprise and resist Hezbollah and sustain a powerful offensive for 48 hours.

Also presumably disturbing to Israel was the report it received that Hezbollah had once again in all probability hacked its “secure” military intelligence communications and the fear that the information would be shared with others.

The Hezbollah rout of the militias in West Beirut plus the fear of retaliation on Tel Aviv, ruining 60th anniversary celebrations, forced cancellation of the supportive attack.

Israel limited its actions to sending two F-15’s and two F-16’s into as far North as Tyre, one of more of literally hundreds of violations of Lebanese airspace, sovereignty and UNSCR 170l.

Clearly frustrated, Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit said Israel should not yet take any action now, but warned “those things could change if Hezbollah takes over Lebanon”. (A few minutes earlier he had declared that Hezbollah had done just that and had treated the Lebanese army as a doormat).

Later in the Sunday cabinet meeting, Minister Ami Ayalon called for an emergency meeting of the political-security cabinet to discuss “the ongoing crisis in Lebanon and why Israel was not assisting friendly forces.”

Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said that “Israel must immediately ask the [United Nations] Security Council to hold renewed discussions over Resolution 1701″. The minister was referring to the resolution that stopped the Israeli actions against Lebanon during the 34-day between in 2006, maintaining a fragile cease-fire.

Finally Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed Israeli supporters in Lebanon, through the media, and presumably other means that “Israel was following the violence in Lebanon closely, but would refrain from intervening”. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio Sunday that Israel was prepared for the possibility that the situation in Lebanon will deteriorate into another civil war (meaning future opportunities for Israeli influence and intervention in Lebanon) and that the current fighting could end with a Hezbollah takeover of the government. “We need to keep our eyes peeled and be especially sensitive regarding all that is happening there”, Vilnai told Army Radio.

The Bush administration, also disappointed, switched tactics and is opting for domination of the narrative of the fairly complicated events of the past week and using their media and confessional allies to launch a media blitz (minus Future TV for a few days) to flood the airways with:

1. ‘Hezbollah staged a coup d’état’. Even Israel, if not the Bush administration, concedes Hezbollah has no interest in taking over the Government. One observer, paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s comment, deadpanned, “Some Hezbollah Coup! Some Hezbollah Etat!”; 2. Hezbollah brought its forces from the South and occupied West Beirut; Hezbollah did not bring their forces from the South to Beirut, they remained on alert for an Israel attack down South; 3. ‘Hezbollah broke its pledge not to use Resistance arms against Lebanese militias and shot up West Beirut’: The facts are very different when viewed close up on the streets here.

When the Lebanese Resistance took the decision during the early hours of Friday morning to engage in civil disobedience, it delayed its actions so as not to preempt the Labor movement strike for higher wages which it supported. When the marching strikers were prevented from moving into West Beirut the Opposition extended its civil disobedience manifestation.

Various militias, including the smartly outfitted Hariri “Secure Plus” with its distinctive maroon tee-shirts and beige trousers (now know locally by some as “Secure Minus” and a hoped for future Blackwater operation in Lebanon, disintegrated surprisingly quickly because many of its green recruits brought down from Tripoli felt misled and betrayed regarding their job description as they were handed weapons an instructed to fight Hezbollah. Snipers from anti-Opposition factions killed civilians from rooftops in Beirut trying to ignite a civil war.

Hezbollah, acting in self defense according to and acknowledged by various officials including John Dockem at the office of Defense Intelligence-Middle East at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), quickly clamped down on the trouble makers, took control of the streets, within hours handed them over to the army, and virtually evacuated West Beirut, retaining one position near Bay Rocks manned by unarmed representatives.

Meanwhile, the Hariri influence has been greatly weakened in Akkar near the Palestinian Refugee camp of Nahr al Bared and in the Tripoli area. According to some political analysts, including Fida’a Ittani, a regular columnist for the independent pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar writing on May 14, the Future Movement, defeated in Beirut, no longer has any serious influence in the North.

Several Salafi al Qaeda-admiring movements are present in Lebanon and like Fatah al Islam’s declaration this week that they will fight for the Sunnis, they vary in their attitudes from silent opposition to Future leader Saad Al-Hariri to fully supporting him as the leader of the Sunnis. These groups are valued by certain ‘leaders’ in Lebanon because are the only ones with coherent structures at the ideological, political, technical, and field levels.

Judging from Saad Hariri’s confused statements at his subsequent news conference and statements by other parties, the bitterness of promised but not forthcoming assistance was evident.

For two days following the debacle of his forces imploding the head of the Future Movement said nothing. Finally on the 14th he broke his silence.

The Halba massacre, committed by Hariri’s Mustaqbal militiamen which brutally and barbarically murdered 11 people from the opposition, did not seem worthy of discussion as he spoke. In a press conference on Tuesday, Hariri simply ignored what all the Lebanese had seen on TV from weapons, ammunition and alcohol found in Future movement offices, and instead listed a series of delusions.

“We awaited an open war on Israel, and yet here is an open war on Beirut and its people”, he stated. Some interpreted this rather odd statement either as a subconscious slip of the tongue on Hariri’s part expressing his frustration that the Israeli help did not arrive or that his reported earlier incoherent state persisted.

Hariri’s original speech was reportedly so confused that the Saudi channel al-Arabiyya decided to cease broadcasting it and subsequently only read excerpts from what he said. It was only when US criticism resumed, and Hezbollah fighters drew back from the streets surrounding his house that Hariri was urged to stand up and speak again with a stronger tone: “This has been decided by the Iranian and Syrian regimes that wanted to play a political game in Lebanon’s streets. For us nothing has changed. We will not negotiate with someone having a pistol pointed to our heads.”

Anger at the Bush administration and Israel by certain warlords in Lebanon must feel much like the frustration of Secure Minus personnel who rushed from Tripoli and felt misled, abandoned and cheated.

Franklin Lamb is author of the recently released book, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel's Use of American Weapons in Lebanon. His volume Hezbollah: A Brief Guide for Beginners is due out soon. He can be reached at


Island In The Sun: Spike Jonze

Friday, May 16, 2008

* - Muzical Interlude - Freedom XIV - *

* The Miracles-I'm Just A Love Machine, mp3 Le Chic-Freak Out, mp3 Frank Zappa-Muffin Man, mp3 * And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom." And he answered: At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them. Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment. You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound. And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour? In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes. And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free? If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead. You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them. And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride? And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you. And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared. Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape. These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom. Khalil Gibran *

Thursday, May 15, 2008


[Thanks Annette for the pic!]

Court Rules That Same-Sex Partners Can Marry in California

On May 15th, the California State Supreme Court issued its decision that laws that have excluded gay and lesbian couples from the right to marry were unconstitutional. Gatherings will be held around the state to celebrate the ruling. See NCLR's list of sites or Add an event to Indybay's calendar California in 1948 was the first state in the modern era to strike down laws banning inter-racial marriage, leading to a nationwide drive to do away with those laws, which culminated in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, which struck down such laws around the nation. Massachusetts already issues same-sex marriage licenses, while some other states provide for civil unions for same-sex couples. The California court cited the state's equal protection clause in striking down the discrimination. It also ruled that marriages performed outside of California must be recognized as legal by the State of California. The Transgender Law Center is pleased by the ruling, as it says, "it creates marriage equality by removing gender as criteria for a valid marriage." It writes that transgender people will gain a sense of security, as they often have to struggle for recognition of their legal sex as well as their relationships. If the decision is not overturned by the US Supreme Court or an upcoming anti-same sex marriage initiative, same-sex couples could be able to share Social Security and pension survivors' benefits, the right to uncontested inheritance of a deceased spouse's housing, and unquestioned right of visitation in hospitals. California conservatives have collected signatures for an anti-gay marriage initiatve, which is awaiting verification of signatures by the Secretary of State. Both Democratic Party candidates for president reportedly support civil unions, but not marriage, for same-sex couples. California Supreme Court's Full Decision | Initial announcement and discussion | Press Release from Transgender Law Center | Statements from local and national same-sex marriage organizations || Some Past Coverage on Indybay: 5/8: CSU Holds Mock Marriage Ceremony | California High Court Hears Oral Arguments on March 4th, 2008 | 2/18/2004: SF Issues Over 2000 Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Salvador Allende and Hugo Chavez

I have known and advised three left wing president including President Papandreou (Greece 1981-85), President Salvador Allende of Chile (1970-73) and President Hugo Chavez.

Both Allende and Chavez share many strategic goals and embrace policies favoring the working class, peasantry and the urban poor. They also pursued programs regaining national control over the strategic sectors of the economy, redistributing land (agrarian reform), reallocating budgetary expenditures in favor of social programs for the poor and pursuing independent anti-imperialist foreign policies.

In broad historical and sociological terms, they also share a common belief in constitutional, electoral processes, in a multi-party system, a mixed economy and independent trade unions, business and civic associations.

Despite the convergences and similarities between Allende and Chavez, there are important political differences, which account for their different trajectories. Chavez proceeded toward political change before undertaking a deep socio-economic structural transformation, thus creating a solid constitutional and political framework. Allende, on the other hand, accepted the existing political system and proceeded to implement radical socio-economic changes. As a result, Allende constantly faced political blockages, institutional obstacles that limited his capacity to realize the full potential of the structural changes. In contrast, Chavez’ political reforms led to the compatibility between political institutions and socio-economic change — minimizing opposition obstructionism.

Secondly Allende’s government lasted less than three years, while Chavez has governed for nearly a decade and is still very popular. The military coup in Chile in September 1973 destroyed the Popular Unity Government and the military dictatorship lasted 15 years (until 1989). In Venezuela, a military coup (April 11-12 2002) lasted 48 hours before it was defeated and Chavez was restored to power. The reason why the coup succeeded in Chile and failed in Venezuela was because Chavez had built a substantial loyalist base among the military and developed a strategic alliance between the military-popular masses, while Allende mistakenly trusted the so-called “professionalism” of the military. Both Allende and Chavez faced “bosses” lockouts, attempts by the capitalist class to shut down the economy in order to foment discontent and overthrow the government. In both countries the mass of workers, technicians and some managers intervened to support the government. However, while Allende returned the majority of the factories to their capitalist owners, Chavez fired 15,000 managers and supervisors who led the lock-out and replaced them with loyalists. Similarly while Allende allowed the rightwing generals to purge loyalist military officers in the run-up to the coup, Chavez expelled and jailed military officers after the failed coup.

In other words, Chavez is a political realist who understood better than Allende the limits of bourgeois democracy, and was willing to use the prerogatives of executive power to defend popular democratic rule against its internal oligarchic and external imperial enemies.

Chavez sees the revolutionary democratic and socialist transition process based on institutional and popular power organized through mass organizations. Allende saw socialist change principally through the established institutions and minimized the role of popular power institutions — creating a constant tension between the political parties and the community councils.

Chavez and Allende opposed US imperialism, its wars (Vietnam in the 1960-1970’s), Iraq and Afghanistan (today). But Chavez’ foreign policy is much more pro-active, in promoting Latin American integration via ALBA, Banco Sur and bilateral trade and arms agreements with China, Russia, Iran, Brazil and Argentina. Allende looked more to the Andean Pact, the Non-Aligned Movement and links with social democratic European regimes like Sweden and Germany. As a result Chavez has been more successful in isolating and defeating Washington diplomatically than Allende with his constant effort to conciliate with the US.

The political paradox is that the Allende government, based primarily on self-identified “Marxist” parties and trade unions, never achieved hegemony over the majority of the masses (especially poor women) while President Chavez has established Chavista majorities in 12 national and local elections and referendums.

During his tenure in office President Allende represented his time — a clear democratic-socialist alternative to US-controlled client regimes. Even today, the establishment of worker-controlled factories, popular neighborhood councils and popular power under Allende serve as important reference points for the present transition to socialism in Venezuela. But President Chavez has gone much further and deeper in some areas of social transformation: He has introduced popular militias, decentralized the budgetary expenditures to local neighborhood councils and organized a unified mass socialist party, to avoid the intra-party conflicts which plagued the multi-party coalition of the Allende Government.


While there are important historical continuities between the democratic socialism of Allende and the 21st century socialism of Chavez, and both reflect important milestones on the road to national liberation, it is clear that Chavez, much more than Allende, sees the clear and decisive importance of building a mass base for popular power outside of the strictly electoral parliamentary arena. Where Allende mistakenly idealized Chile’s bourgeois democratic institutions, attributing to them a classless character, Chavez combines the democratic norms of electoral politics with the need to build independent organizations of class power. History has demonstrated, at least so far, that Chavez’ realism has been much more effective in gaining and retaining popular power than Allende’s idealism.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest books are The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006) and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants (Clarity Press, 2007). He can be reached at: Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

"False Hopes vs. Real Change": New Publication Presents Anarchist Perspective on 2008 Elections

As radicals who struggle to express our power and our voices through direct action, not just voting, how do we respond to the reasons like this that prompt our friends and neighbors to vote, in spite of widespread disillusionment with politics? We may dismiss the 2008 presidential elections as simply another useless media spectacle, and in doing so miss a key opportunity to address how war, race and racism, global warming, and other issues play out in these national debates. "False Hopes vs. Real Change": New Publication Presents Anarchist Perspective on 2008 Elections and Direct Action "The president represents our whole country, whether you like it or not – if you don't vote, you can't complain..." As radicals who struggle to express our power and our voices through direct action, not just voting, how do we respond to the reasons like this that prompt our friends and neighbors to vote, in spite of widespread disillusionment with politics? We may dismiss the 2008 presidential elections as simply another useless media spectacle, and in doing so miss a key opportunity to address how war, race and racism, global warming, and other issues play out in these national debates. On the other hand, we may even feel the temptation to capitulate to the pro-voting consensus... after all, times are desperate. But can we find a way to engage with the increased political dialogue prompted by the presidential elections, while neither ignoring them nor accepting their validity as a path to liberation? Now, Unconventional Action announces the release of a new publication and election year outreach tool, demanding radical change outside of the empty promises of politicians! "False Hopes vs. Real Change: An Anti-Partisan (Beyond) Voting Guide to the 2008 Elections" argues passionately for direct action in the face of war, environmental destruction, militarized borders, and the alienation of American life - while exposing how politicians profit from these crises even as they claim to offer solutions to them. Beyond merely telling people not to vote, this colorful, engaging eight-page newspaper offers concrete examples of how to participate directly in resisting oppression and creating alternatives to voting. By responding directly to many of the reasons why people who are disillusioned or cynical about politics continue to vote, the articles explore how our most empowering options for participation exist outside of the ballot boxes. The writers examine the possibilities of direct action, collectives, mutual aid, and anarchy, analyzing their potential as tools to move beyond the constraints of voting, party politics, capitalism, and government. Highly recommended as a tool for explaining anarchist critiques of elections and voting, and for building momentum towards the 2008 Republican and Democratic National Convention protests. Copies are available for free via mail, or can be downloaded in PDF form from For more information or to request copies of "False Hopes vs. Real Change", please contact: Unconventional Action Voter Deregistration PO Box 494 Chapel Hill, NC 27514 "...The president can only claim to 'represent' us in the absence of passionate, visible resistance outside of the electoral process. So long as we confine our participation to voting and accept a system that delegates our power and agency to representatives, we are accountable for whatever crises our government creates, because of our failure to resist them. But when we directly challenge the authority they claim to hold over us, we rupture the illusion that politicians, or anyone else, can speak on our behalf. If we've handed over responsibility for our society and our own lives to our rulers, then we can't be surprised when they act in their own interests instead of ours, as they always have. If ALL you do is vote, you can’t complain! When were you ever offered a choice about whether or not you wanted to be ruled at all, rather than simply voicing an opinion about which ruler is best suited to appropriate your power? We didn't consent to this system, and we refuse to validate our own disempowerment - but instead of just complaining, we can take back responsibility for our own liberation by acting directly to interrupt injustice and creating different ways to live." -from "False Hopes vs. Real Change"

Immigrants Drugged Without Reason When Deported

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country. Full Series Here

What I Believe and How I Came to Believe It, by Wayne Price

by Wayne Price - NEFAC--personal opinion Wednesday, May 14 2008, 9:51pm north america / mexico / the left / opinion/analysis Introduction to new book. This will be the introductory chapter of my next book, which will be a compilation of essays, many from the site. The following essays cover different topics, written at different times, but all reflect a particular viewpoint. I am not a spokesperson for anyone and make no claims to be an “orthodox anarchist,” whatever that would be. But my views are more-or-less consistent with the main tendency of certain traditional and current anarchist thought. This tendency is revolutionary, believing that eventually the working class will have to directly confront and dismantle the state; it is anti-capitalist, in the tradition of libertarian socialism, social anarchism, and anarchist-communism; it is decentralist, believing that society should be in human scale, rooted in direct democracy; it is federalist, believing that local assemblies and workplace councils should replace the state with associations and networks; it is internationalist, believing that a world-wide revolution is necessary; it is for ecological and environmental rebuilding of all industry and technology, in the tradition of social ecology and Green anarchism; as class struggle anarchism, it sees the working class as central to the revolutionary struggle, an analysis which overlaps with the libertarian and humanistic aspects of Marxism; yet it also supports every struggle against oppression by every group and on every issue, including that of women, People of Color, nations oppressed by imperialism, Gay Lesbian Bi and Transexual people, physically disabled people, those opposed to war or to ecological catastrophe; etc. In order to achieve these goals, it believes that revolutionaries should organize themselves to fight for them by word and example; this is seen as part of the self-organization of the working class and oppressed, a program called Platformism or especifisimo. If you are not at least curious about these ideas, do not bother to read this book. I came to this set of ideas by a zig-zag process. I grew up in the suburbs, the child of white collar workers (at the upper end of the working class or the lower end of the middle class). I suffered no material deprivation or personal abuse, but I was intensely, neurotically, unhappy. Shortly before entering high school, I spent a summer in a camp program for teenagers. By happenstance, I came across the writings of Paul Goodman and Dwight Macdonald which converted me to anarchist-pacifism. Over time, I was also influenced by the bioregionalist Lewis Mumford and by the humanistic Marxist, Erich Fromm (Fromm and Goodman were also both radical psychologists). These and other writers convinced me that there was another way for human beings to relate to each other, more human, kinder, and more rational, than what I was used to. People, they said, needed decentralized, human-scale, face-to-face, radically democratic, communities, and this was technologically possible. They answered my intense need to rebel against authority while still keeping most of the humanistic and democratic values I had internalized from my liberal parents. I regarded myself as a decentralist socialist—and still do. (Paul Goodman is discussed further in one of the following essays.) When I went to college, I joined the Students for a Democratic Society and participated in the movement against the Vietnamese war. In the course of this, I ran across a Trotskyist who talked me out of anarchist-pacifism. He persuaded me that a revolution was needed and that anarchist-pacifism was not a sufficient program for revolution. He argued that nonviolence would not work against a committed evil force, such as the Nazis. He gave me works on the Hungarian revolution and the Spanish revolution of the thirties. These argued that the Leninist concept of a “workers’ state” or “dictatorship of the proletariat” meant that workers, peasants, and soldiers should form assemblies and councils and should associate these together as an alternate power to either the fascists or to the liberal capitalist state. Why, I thought, I am for that! I still am, although I would not call this a workers state. So I became a Trotskyist. But I never could agree with—or even understand--his orthodox Trotskyist belief that the Soviet Union was a workers’ state, as were Eastern Europe and China, and especially Cuba. He admitted that the workers did not control any of these states, that the workers and peasants were extremely oppressed in all of these states (except, he claimed, Cuba), and that the regimes, outside of the USSR, had all come to power without workers’ revolutions. Nevertheless, he insisted, the workers were the ruling class in these states because industry was nationalized and the economy was planned (he thought). I thought this was ridiculous and in complete contradiction to the democratic and proletarian view of Marxism I had been learning. So, much to this Trotskyist’s disgust, I joined the unorthodox, soft, semi-social-democratic, wing of Trotskyism. This rejects Trotsky’s view that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a workers’ state, in favor of theories that the Stalinist bureaucracy was a new ruling class, maintaining either state capitalism or a new type of class society (“bureaucratic collectivism,” similar to the “coordinatorist” theory of today’s Pareconists). In 1969 I was a founding member (that is, I was at the founding conference) of the International Socialists. This was in the the tradition of the Independent Socialist League of Max Shachtman but was also influenced by the British International Socialists (now the Socialist Workers Party). Later I was to work together with my Trotskyist friend from college when I began to do opposition work in the New York City teachers union. The last I heard he has become a leader of Socialist Action, a split-off from the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the British group) after the latter abandoned Trotskyism altogether for Castroism. What most attracted me to the I.S. was its concept of “socialism-from-below” as opposed to “socialism-from-above,” expounded by Hal Draper in his pamphlet, The Two Souls of Socialism (reprinted in Draper, 1992, pp. 2—33). Real socialism, he argued, could only come about through the upheavals of ordinary people, workers and others, against the elites who ruled us, and this had to be done against those who only wanted to use the people as a battering ram to put themselves in power. He claimed that this was the essential meaning of the Marxism of Marx and Engels, and eventually wrote a series of fat books to argue his case (e.g., Draper , 1977). These books are worth reading, in my opinion, despite his anti-anarchist bias, which I accepted at the time (as I put my decentralism on hold). Draper’s contributions are discussed further in one of my essays below; I am still for socialism-from-below. This position was not easy to hold in the 60s and 70s. People who regarded themselves as revolutionaries were mostly attracted to the politicians which seemed to be leading revolutions against U.S. imperialism: Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Tse Tung. All three were dictators in the tradition of Stalin, who made revolutions based on control of the peasantry and not on the workers’ and peasants’ self-organization. U.S. Maoists became influential among radical workers and People of Color. The main Trotskyists were the orthodox sort who also regarded these regimes as workers’ states. Meanwhile the low level of working class struggles in that period made it difficult to argue for a working class orientation, as we did. The I.S. were marginalized. A number of us came to conclude that the I.S., was not really revolutionary in action, being organizationally sloppy and politically muddled. Draper himself did a lot to push the I.S. toward building a middle class liberal party, the Peace and Freedom Party, whose only virtue was that it was not the Democrats or Republicans (similar to today’s Green Party, Labor Party Advocates, or Nader’s electoral runs, which have been supported by the decendents of the I.S.). A fierce faction fight broke out and we split off (were expelled), forming the Revolutionary Socialist League in 1973. The I.S. continued; today its main survivors in the U.S. are the International Socialist Organization (probably the largest Left group) and Solidarity. Our goal was to be really Trotskyist, unlike the I.S., except for the orthodox Trotskyist position on the Soviet Union. From the start the R.S.L. rejected Trotsky’s belief that Stalin ruled a workers’ state, in favor of a state capitalist analysis. Otherwise we studied Trotsky’s writings and sought to be as Trotskyist as could be. Fervent Trotskyism may seem like an odd detour from socialism-from-below to revolutionary anarchism, but there was a logic to it. What we saw in Trotsky’s Trotskyism was a serious approach to revolution. It offered the intellectual resources of Marxist theory (I studied and taught the three volumes of Capital). It was based on an analysis that capitalism was in an overall epoch of decay, despite the extended periods of apparent prosperity after World War II, and that therefore reforms could not be won on a consistent and lasting basis. It believed that the revolution could be made by the working class, in particular by the most oppressed sections of the working class: women, African-Americans, workers of the oppressed nations, youth, etc. (in this it was consistent with socialism-from-below). It sought to replace the states of capitalism and of the Stalinist bureaucracy with associations of councils (soviets), with democracy for opposing tendencies. It called for world revolution. Especially, Trotsky’s Trotskyism opposed both holding ourselves aloof from popular reform struggles, as the sectarians do, or burying ourselves in reform efforts, as the opportunists do. It looked for ways for revolutionaries to combine active participation in the struggles of the exploited with an open expression of the need for revolution. Trotsky demanded of his followers that they “say what is,” tell the truth to the workers about the need for revolution, even while participating in more limited reform efforts. He taught methods for this, such as the United Front, critical support, the Permanent Revolution, and transitional demands, which we studied as they had been applied in various revolutions in the past. We tried to apply the lessons of revolutionary history in our own situtation, but this became more difficult as time went on and the period became more conservative. I won’t say we were perfect in combining revolutionary propaganda with popular participation—far from it--but we tried. We were also deeply influenced by the movements for Women’s Liberation and for Gay Liberation. It was not so much their overt programs, but their implicit libertarianism more and more came into conflict with the authoritarianism of Trotskyism. In general we found it increasingly difficult to reconcile the democratic-libertarian side of Marxism with its authoritarian side. Why had Trotsky insisted that Stalin’s state (which he had said was similar to Hitler’s) was nevertheless workers’ rule, so long as the economy remained nationalized? This made the actual power of the workers to be secondary to the importance of the statified economy in his conception of socialism. Why had Lenin and Trotsky set up a one-party dictatorship? If Marx and Engels were so democratic, as Draper claimed, how come their followers were almost all authoritarians (as Draper admitted)? Were we so right in saying that we were almost the only ones who really understood Marx, while 99.99% of self-proclaimed Marxists had an entirely different interpretation? Perhaps their authoritarian interpretation of Marxism also had a legitimate basis in the work of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky? We held a discussion of the failures of Trotskyism (summarized in Hobson & Tabor, 1988, which included an analysis of the Soviet Union’s state capitalism). This was followed by Ron Tabor’s (1988) devastating critique of Leninism. I contributed a few papers on decentralism, workers’ control of industry, and anarchism. Meanwhile a minority had split off (been expelled) because they wanted to continue to develop their own orthodox Trotskyism (see Daum, 1990). We were attracted by the growth of an anarchist movement in the 80s. In 1989 we dissolved the R.S.L. after about 16 years. Some of us then joined with a variety of younger anarchists to form the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (most former R.S.L. members dropping out of politics altogether). This was the wing of anarchism which saw itself as leftist and anti-capitalist; they supported the struggles of People of Color, of women, and of oppressed nations. Unfortunately, they were ambivalent about supporting the working class. They were for a distinct anarchist organization, unlike the anti-organizationalist anarchists. They were serious about joining in popular struggles in a militant way, working together with others while raising the perspective of anarchist revolution. Love and Rage lasted for nine years. As my friends and I had been moving from Marxism to anarchism, others had been moving from anarchism to Marxism—of a Maoist variety, no less. As our paths crossed, we thought for a while that we agreed with each other, but actually we were moving in opposite directions. The left as a whole was declining in the 90s, including its anarchist wing. In reaction, there was an attraction for some to the “successes” of Marxism and its body of work. Former R.S.L. members and a few others opposed this tendency, out of our many years of hating Stalinism. The resulting faction fight ended with the dissolution of Love and Rage in 1998. I remain an anarchist, a decentralist socialist, and a believer is socialism-from-below. As a class struggle, Platformist, revolutionary anarchist, I can have all the benefits I sought as a Trotskyist, while maintaining the libertarian vision of anarchism. I no longer advocate a “workers’ state” (whatever that means), but I do advocate a federation of workers’ and popular councils (in the tradition of the Friends of Durruti Group of the Spanish revolution). I no longer advocate a vanguard (Leninist) party, which aims to rule over the workers, but I do advocate a revolutionary organization of anachist workers: Platformism or especificismo. (These topics are discussed in essays in this book as well as in my book, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives.) While I no longer call myself a Marxist, I accept many ideas from the Marxist tradition (as can be seen from my essays) This is especially true from the libertarian Marxists (such as C.L.R. James, the council communists, etc.) I now regard myself as a Marxist-informed anarchist. I have joined the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (or NEFAC) and write for the site, which is the web site for our international tendency. It cannot be said that I have sacrified much by being a revolutionary, compared to others, especially to those in other countries who they have risked years of imprisonment or even their lives. All I have lost has been some time and some money. I have undergone some emotional stress, went to many boring meetings, and had a few profoundly moving experiences. I met a few stinkers and some wonderful human beings. I still believe in the ideal, as something both necessary to save the world from destruction and as morally right. There are better ways for humans to live and work together. References Daum, Walter (1990). The life and death of Stalinism; A resurrection of Marxist theory. NY: Socialist Voice Publishing Co. Draper, Hal (1992). Socialism from below (E. Haberkern, ed.). New Jersey/London: Humanities Press. Draper, Hal (1977). Karl Marx’s theory of revolution; Vol. 1: State and bureaucracy. NY/London: Monthly Review Press. Hobson, Christopher, & Tabor, Ronald D. (1988). Trotskyism and the dilemma of socialism. NY/Westport CT/London: Greenwood Press. Taber, Ron (1988). A look at Leninism. NY: Aspect Foundation. Written for

"Baby, I'm An Anarchist!"

* AGAINST ME! "Baby, I'm An Anarchist!" Through the best of times, Through the worst of times, Through Nixon and through Bush, Do you remember '36? We went our seperate ways. You fought for Stalin. I fought for freedom. You believe in authority. I believe in myself. I'm a molotov cocktail. You're Dom Perignon. Baby, what's that confused look in your eyes? What I'm trying to say is that I burn down buildings While you sit on a shelf inside of them. You call the cops On the looters and piethrowers. They call it class war, I call it co-conspirators. 'Cause baby, I'm an anarchist, You're a spineless liberal. We marched together for the eight-hour day And held hands in the streets of Seattle, But when it came time to throw bricks Through that Starbucks window, You left me all alone. You watched in awe at the red, White, and blue on the fourth of july. While those fireworks were exploding, I was burning that fucker And stringing my black flag high, Eating the peanuts That the parties have tossed you In the back seat of your father's new Ford. You believe in the ballot, Believe in reform. You have faith in the elephant and jackass, And to you, solidarity's a four-letter word. We're all hypocrites, But you're a patriot. You thought I was only joking When I screamed "Kill Whitey!" At the top of my lungs At the cops in their cars And the men in their suits. No, I won't take your hand And marry the State. 'Cause baby, I'm an anarchist, You're a spineless liberal. We marched together for the eight-hour day And held hands in the streets of Seattle, But when it came time to throw bricks Through that Starbucks window, You left me all alone. by Sesu Sensei

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Garden Cities of To-morrow

by Ebenezer Howard


Among the many 'utopian' proposals of the 19th century, this particular short text stands out. Howard was a 19th century British reformer and city planner. He was influenced by Bellamy's Looking Backwards. He saw new, planned towns as a necessary counterbalance to the squalid, Dickensian 19th century London. These towns would balance urban and rural occupations, and include a whole range of amenities which we have come to take for granted: libraries, museums, schools, wide avenues, and a mix of commercial and residential zones. Howard strove to keep a balance between the community and individual needs, and to operate within the framework of Capitalism, rather than rejecting or attempting to replace it.

This book was originally published in 1898 as To-morrow, and reissued in 1902 as Garden Cities of To-morrow. The first Garden City, built under the aegis of Howard, Letchworth, was founded in 1903 (Howard was one of the first residents). Later he founded a second Garden City, Welwyn, 1919. Both, now London suburbs, are still very much in existence and proved successful over time, with its residents, in particular, in better health than the general population. Howard's proposal had a great influence on urban planning in the 20th century, particularly post-WWII. The American urban planning critic, Lewis Mumford, was one of Howard's proponents. In the history of planned societies, Ebenezer Howard stands out as one of the successes, even though he is little-known other than to architects and urban planners.

PRODUCTION NOTES: Since the original book is hard to obtain, I used the 1967 MIT Press edition, omitting all new material. The pagination of this etext reflects the MIT edition. A couple of start-of-chapter quotes are identified in the MIT edition as belonging to the first edition. These are printed in green in this etext.

Title Page Contents Introduction Chapter One. The Town-Country Magnet Chapter Two. The Revenue of Garden City, and how it is obtained—The Agricultural Estate Chapter Three. The Revenue of Garden City—Town Estate Chapter Four. The Revenue of Garden City—General Observations on its Expenditure Chapter Five. Further Details of Expenditure on Garden City Chapter Six. Administration Chapter Seven. Semi-Municipal Enterprise—Local Option—Temperance Reform Chapter Eight. Pro-Municipal Work Chapter Nine. Some Difficulties Considered Chapter Ten. A Unique Combination of Proposals Chapter Eleven. The Path followed up Chapter Twelve. Social Cities Chapter Thirteen. The Future of London

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Many candidates, corporate media obscures U.S. presidential politics

by Stewart Alexander ... In a nationwide field of more than 300 presidential candidates, America’s corporate media has narrowed the field and choices down to three presidential contenders; Senators Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and John McCain. America’s corporate media has blacked out all third party candidates; on television, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean speaking stations, and all major newspaper publications nationwide. However, third parties and third party candidates continue to campaign against the incredible odds imposed by the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate media. These third party candidates are getting their message to the public with the help of volunteers and supporters, with bumper stickers, brochures, flyers, business cards and attending meeting, and using the Internet. Third political parties do not compete on a level playing field in U.S. politics; the corporate media will spend more money in one day, promoting the campaigns of McCain, Obama and Clinton, than the amount of money third political parties will spend in one year to promote their candidates, combined. While third party candidates are spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on flyers and brochures, big corporations are spending millions to keep the names of their candidates in the public’s view. ...

Who dares to undress the emperor?

[Thanks to dada... a bright one]

The CIA and the Cultural Cold War Revisited by James Petras

After the Second World War, with the discrediting in Western Europe of the old right (compromised by its links to the fascists and a weak capitalist system), the CIA realized that, in order to undermine the anti-NATO trade unionists and intellectuals, it needed to find (or invent) a Democratic Left to engage in ideological warfare. A special sector of the CIA was set up to circumvent right-wing Congressional objections. The Democratic Left was essentially used to combat the radical left and to provide an ideological gloss on U.S. hegemony in Europe. At no point were the ideological pugilists of the democratic left in any position to shape the strategic policies and interests of the United States. Their job was not to question or demand, but to serve the empire in the name of "Western democratic values." Only when massive opposition to the Vietnam War surfaced in the United States and Europe, and their CIA covers were blown, did many of the CIA-promoted and -financed intellectuals jump ship and begin to criticize U.S. foreign policy. For example, after spending most of his career on the CIA payroll, Stephen Spender became a critic of U.S. Vietnam policy, as did some of the editors of Partisan Review. They all claimed innocence, but few critics believed that a love affair with so many journals and convention junkets, so long and deeply involved, could transpire without some degree of knowledge.

The CIA's involvement in the cultural life of the United States, Europe, and elsewhere had important long-term consequences. Many intellectuals were rewarded with prestige, public recognition, and research funds precisely for operating within the ideological blinders set by the Agency. Some of the biggest names in philosophy, political ethics, sociology, and art, who gained visibility from CIA-funded conferences and journals, went on to establish the norms and standards for promotion of the new generation, based on the political parameters established by the CIA. Not merit nor skill, but politics—the Washington line—defined "truth" and "excellence" and future chairs in prestigious academic settings, foundations, and museums.

The CIA's cultural campaigns created the prototype for today's seemingly apolitical intellectuals, academics, and artists who are divorced from popular struggles and whose worth rises with their distance from the working classes and their proximity to prestigious foundations. The CIA role model of the successful professional is the ideological gatekeeper, excluding critical intellectuals who write about class struggle, class exploitation and U.S. imperialism—"ideological" not "objective" categories, or so they are told. ...

Disturbing Stirrings - Ratcheting Up For War on Iran - by Stephen Lendman

Led by Dick Cheney, Bush administration neocons want war on Iran. So does the Israeli Lobby, but it doesn't mean they'll get it. Powerful forces in Washington and the Pentagon are opposed and so far have prevailed. Nonetheless, worrisome recent events increase the possibility and must be closely watched. Recall George Bush's January 10, 2007 address to the nation. He announced the 20,000 troop "surge" and more. "Succeeding in Iraq," he said, "also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt (those) attacks....we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq." That was then; this is now. On May 3, Andrew Cockburn wrote on CounterPunch: "Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret 'finding' authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, (is) 'unprecedented in its scope.' " The directive permits a range of actions across a broad area costing hundreds of millions with an initial $300 million for starters. Elements of the scheme include: -- targeted assassinations; -- funding Iranian opposition groups; among them - Mujahedin-e-Khalq that the State Department designates a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO); Jundullah, the "army of god militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan; Iranian Kurdish nationalists; and Ahwazi arabs in southwest Iran; -- destabilizing Syria and Hezbollah; the current Lebanon turbulence raises the stakes; -- putting a hawkish commander in charge; more on that below; and -- kicking off things at the earliest possible time. These type efforts and others were initiated before and likely never stopped. So it remains to be seen what differences emerge this time and how much more intense they become. More concerns were cited in a Michael Smith May 4 Times Online report headlined "United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp." It refers to a "surgical strike" against an "insurgent training camp." In spite of hostile signals, however, "the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities on the back burner" after Gates replaced Rumsfeld. The article makes several other key points: -- "American defense chiefs (meaning top generals and admirals) are firmly opposed to (attacking) Iranian nuclear facilities;" -- on the other hand, they very much support hitting one or more "training camps (to) deliver a powerful message to Tehran;" -- in contrast, UK officials downplay Iranian involvement in Iraq even though Tehran's Revolutionary Guard has close ties to al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army; and -- Bush and Cheney are determined not to hand over "the Iran problem" to a successor. Earlier on April 7, Haaretz reported still more stirrings. It was about Israel's "largest-ever emergency drill start(ed) to test the authorities' preparedness for threats (of) a missile attack on central Israel." Prime Minister Olmert announced that the "drill (was) no front for Israeli bellicose intentions toward Syria" and by implication Iran. Both countries and Hezbollah see it otherwise and with good reason. Further, Israeli officials indicated that this exercise might be repeated annually because they say Iran may have a nuclear capability by early 2009, so Israel will prepare accordingly. No one can predict US and Israeli plans, but certain things are known and future possibilities can be assessed. Consider recent events. In mid-March, Dick Cheney toured the Middle East with stops in Israel, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, Afghanistan and Iraq. It came after Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon "resigned" March 10 (a year after his appointment) after reports were that he sharply disagreed with regional administration policy. Public comments played it down, but speculation was twofold - Fallon's criticism of current Iraq policy and his opposition to attacking Iran. Before the March 10 announcement, smart money said he'd be sacked by summer and replaced by someone more hawkish. It came sooner than expected, and, even more worrisome, by a super-hawk. One with big ambitions, and that's a bad combination. More on that below. First, recall another Pentagon sacking last June, officially announced as a "retirement." George Bush was said to have "reluctantly agreed" to replacing Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace because of his "highest regard" for the general. At issue, of course, was disagreement again over Middle East policy with indications Pace was far from on board. He signaled it on February 17, 2006 at a National Press Club luncheon. Responding to a question, he said: "It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral." He later added that commanders should "not obey illegal and immoral orders to use weapons of mass destruction....They cannot commit crimes against humanity." These comments and likely private discussions led to Pace's dismissal. This administration won't tolerate dissent even by Joint Chiefs Chairmen. It's clear that officials from any branch of government will be removed or marginalized if they oppose key administration policy. Some go quietly while more notable ones make headlines that omit what's most important. For one thing, that the Pentagon is rife with dissent over the administration's Middle East policy. For another, the law of the land, and there's nothing more fundamental than that. The administration disdains it so it's no fit topic for the media. Law Professor Francis Boyle champions it in his classroom, speeches, various writings and books like his newest - Protesting Power: War, Resistance, and Law. Boyle is an expert. He knows the law and has plenty to cite - the UN Charter; Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Hague Regulations; Geneva Conventions; Supreme and lower Court decisions; US Army Field Manual 27-10; the Law of Land Warfare (1956); and US Constitution. He unequivocally states that every US citizen, including members of the military and all government officials, are duty bound to obey the law and to refuse to carry out orders that violate it. Doing so makes them culpable. Included are all international laws and treaties. The Constitution's supremacy clause ("the supreme law of the land" under Article VI) makes them domestic law. General Pace, Fallon and others on down aren't exempt. Neither is the president, vice-president, all administration members and everyone in Congress. Before Fallon's sacking, things were heating up. Three US warships (including the USS Cole guided-missile destroyer) were deployed to the Lebanese coast - officially "to show support for regional stability (and over) concern about the situation in Lebanon." It's been in political crisis for months, and it's got Washington and Israel disturbed - because of Hezbollah's widespread popularity and ability to defend itself. Any regional US show of force causes concern, especially when more is happening there simultaneously. Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin criticized it, and Hezbollah said it "threat(ened)" regional stability - with good reason. It believes conflict will erupt in northern Occupied Palestine close to the Lebanese border. It's also preparing to counter Israel's latest threat - an Israeli Channel 10 News report that the IDF is on high alert "inside and outside Israel" and is prepared to launch a massive attack if Hezbollah retaliates for the assassination of one of its senior leaders, Imad Fayez Mughniyah, by a February 12 Damascus car-bombing. Then came Cheney's Middle East tour with likely indications of its purpose - oil, Israeli interests and, of course, isolating Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas further, and rallying support for more war in a region where Arab states want to end the current ones. What worries them most, or should, is the possibility that Washington will use nuclear weapons. If so, consider the consequences - subsequent radioactive fallout that will contaminate vast regional swaths permanently. After Cheney left Saudi Arabia, the state-friendly Okaz newspaper reported that the Saudi Shura Council (the kingdom's elite decision-making body) began formulating "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom" should the Pentagon use nuclear weapons against Iran. It's a sign Saudi leaders are worried and a clear indication of what they discussed with Cheney. Saudi, Iranian and other world leaders know the stakes. They're also familiar with Bush administration strategy and tactics post-9/11. Exhibit A: the December 2001 Nuclear Policy Review; it states that America has a unilateral right to use first strike nuclear weapons preemptively; it can be for any national security reason, even against non-nuclear states posing no discernible threat; Exhibit B: the 2002 and hardened 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirm this policy; the latter edition mentions Iran 16 times stating: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country country than Iran;" unstated is that Iran never attacked another nation in its history - after Persia became Iran in 1935; it did defend itself vigorously when attacked by Iraq in 1980; Exhibit C: post-9/11, the Bush administration scrapped the "nuclear deterrence" option; in his 2005 book "America's War on Terrorism," Michel Chossudovsky revealed a secret leaked report to the Los Angeles Times; it stated henceforth nuclear weapons could be used under three conditions: -- "against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack; -- in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; or -- in the event of surprising military developments;" that can mean anything the administration wants it to or any threats it wishes to invent. WMD echoes still resonate. Now it's a nuclearized Iran. Preemptive deterrence is the strategy, and Dick Cheney places the Islamic Republic "right at the top of the list" of world trouble spots. He calls Tehran a "darkening cloud" in the region; claims "obviously, they're heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons weapons grade levels;" cites fake evidence that Iran's state policy is "the destruction of Israel;" and official post-9/11 policy identifies Iran and Syria (after Iraq and Afghanistan) as the next phase of "the road map to war." Removing Hezbollah and Hamas are close behind plus whatever other "rogue elements" are identified; Exhibit D: former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith's new book, "War and Decision;" in it, he recounts the administration's aggressive Middle East agenda - to remake the region militarily; plans took shape a few weeks post-9/11 when Donald Rumsfeld made removing Saddam Hussein official policy; the same scheme targeted Afghanistan and proposed regime change in Iran and elsewhere - unnamed but likely Syria, Somalia, Sudan, at the time Libya, removing Syria from Lebanon, and Hezbollah as well. On the Campaign Trail - Iran in the Crosshairs John McCain is so hawkish he even scares some in the Pentagon. Here's what he said about Iran at a May 5 campaign event. He called the Tehran government the gravest danger to US Middle East interests and added: a "league of nations" must counter the "Iranian threat. Iran 'obviously' is on the path toward acquiring nuclear weapons. At the end of the day, we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. They are not only doing that, they are exporting very lethal devices and explosives into Iraq (and) training people (there as) Jihadists." It's no surprise most Democrats have similar views, especially the leadership and leading presidential contenders. Obama calls Iran "a threat to us all." For him, a "radical (nuclearized) Muslim theocracy" is unthinkable, and as president he won't rule out using force. Nor will he against Pakistan or likely any other Muslim state. Obama also calls his support for Israel "unwavering." He fully endorsed the 2006 Lebanon war, and it's no secret where Israel stands on Iran and Syria. Clinton is even more menacing. One writer calls her a "war goddess," and her rhetoric confirms it. On the one hand, "Israeli security" tops "any American approach to the Middle East....we must not - dare not - waver from this commitment." She then calls Iran "pro-terrorist, anti-American and anti-Israel." She says a "nuclear Iran (is) a danger to Israel (and we've) lost critical time in dealing" with the situation. "US policy must be clear and unequivocal. We cannot and should not - must not - permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons." Worst of all was her comment on ABC's Good Morning America in response to (a preposterous hypothetical) about Iran "launch(ing) a nuclear attack on Israel." Her answer: "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that. We would be able to 'totally obliterate' them (meaning, of course, every man, woman and child)." She then added: "I don't think it's time to equivocate. (Iran has) to know they would face massive retaliation. That is the only way to rein them in." At the same time, she, the other leading candidates, and nearly everyone in Washington ignore Iran's official policy. The late Ayatollah Khomeini banned nuclear weapons development. Today, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad affirm that position, but western media won't report it. They also play down IAEA reports confirming that no evidence shows Iran has a nuclear weapons program or that it's violating NPT. Media Rhetoric Heating Up It happens repeatedly, then cools down, so what to make of the latest Iran-bashing. Nothing maybe, but who can know. So it's tea leaves reading time again to pick up clues about potential impending action. Without question, the administration wants regime change, and right wing media keep selling it - Iranian leaders are bad; removing them is good, and what better way than by "shock and awe." Take Fouad Ajami for example from his May 5 Wall Street Journal op-ed. It's headlined - "Iran Must Finally Pay A Price." He's a Lebanese-born US academic specializing in Middle East issues. He's also a well-paid flack for hard right policies, including their belligerency. He shows up often in the Wall Street Journal (and on TV, too) and always to spew hate and lies - his real specialty. His latest piece is typical. Here's a sampling that's indicative of lots else coming out now: -- "three decades of playing cat-and-mouse with American power have emboldened Iran's rulers; -- why are the mullahs allowed to kill our soldiers with impunity;" -- in Iraq, "Iranians played arsonists and firemen at the same time; (it's) part of a larger pattern; -- Tehran has wreaked havoc on regional order and peace over the last three decades;" -- earlier, George HW Bush offered an olive branch to Iran's rulers; -- "Madeleine Albright (apologized) for America's role in the (1953) coup;" -- all the while, "the clerics have had no interest in any bargain;" their oil wealth gives them great latitude; -- "they have harassed Arab rulers while posing as status quo players at peace with the order of the region;" -- they use regional proxies like "Hezbollah in Lebanon, warlords and militias in Iraq, purveyors of terror for the hire; -- the (earlier) hope....that Iran would refrain from (interfering) in Iran (was) wishful thinking;" now there's Iran's nuclear "ambitions" to consider; the "Persian menace" has to "be shown that there is a price for their transgressions." Sum it up, and it spells vicious agitprop by an expert at spewing it. He's not alone. Disputing one of his assertions, a May 5 AFP report quotes Iraq government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh saying no "hard evidence" shows Iran is backing Shiite militiamen or inciting violence in the country. Consider the Arab street as well. It's unconcerned about Iran but outraged over US adverturism. Recall also that on March 2 Iranian President Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian head of state to visit Iraq in three decades. Prime Minister al-Maliki and President Talabani invited him and welcomed him warmly as a friend. That doesn't deter The New York Times Michael Gordon. He's taken up where Judith Miller left off, and his May 5 piece is typical. It's headlined "Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say." The key words, of course, are "Officials Say" to sell the idea that their saying it makes it so. No dissent allowed to debunk them or other administrative-supportive comments. This one cites supposed information from "four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately." For Gordon and "Officials (who) Say," it's incriminating evidence for what Washington has long charged - "that the Iranians (are) training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran," and Hezbollah is involved. The Pentagon calls them "special groups." Gordon goes on to report that Iran has gotten "less obtrusive (by) bringing small groups of Iraqi Shiite militants to camps in Iran, where they are taught how to do their own training, 'American officials say.' " Once trained, "the militants then return to Iraq to teach their comrades how to fire rockets and mortars, fight as snipers or assemble explosively formed penetrators, a particularly lethal type of roadside bomb....according to American officials." As usual, the "officials" are anonymous and their "information has not been released publicly." Gordon continues with more of the same, but sum it up and he sounds like Ajami, Judith Miller, and growing numbers of others like them. On March 17, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) put out an Action Alert headlined "No Antiwar Voices in NYT 'Debate.' " It referred to The Times March 16 "Week in Review" section on the war's fifth anniversary featuring nine so-called experts - all chosen for their hawkish credentials. Included were familiar names like Richard Perle, Fred Kagan, Anthony Cordesman, Kenneth Pollack and even Paul Bremer. On May 4, The Times reconvened the same lineup for a repeat performance that would make any state-controlled media proud. No need to explain their assessment either time, but NYT op-ed page editor said this on July 31, 2005: The op-ed page (where the above review was published) is "a venue for people with a wide range of perspectives, experiences and talents (to provide) a lively page of clashing opinions, one where as many people as possible have the opportunity to make the best arguments they can." As long as they don't conflict with official state policy, offend Times advertisers or potential ones, acknowledge Iran's decisive role in ending the recent Basra fighting, or mention the (latest) 2007 (US) National Intelligence Estimate that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - even though it's likely one never existed and doesn't now. With Iraq still raging and hawkishness over Iran heating up, it's disquieting to think what's coming, and it's got Middle East leaders uneasy. Not about Iran, about a rogue administration with over eight months left to incinerate the region in a mushroom-shaped cloud and no hesitation about doing it. Enter the Generalissimo - Initials DP, Ambitions Outsized Fallon is out, and, in late April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said David Petraeus is being nominated to replace him as Centcom commander. General Raymond Odierno (his former deputy) will replace his former boss as Iraq chief. New York Times reporter Thom Shanker said these "two commanders (are) most closely associated with President Bush's current strategy in Iraq," so are on board to pursue it and maybe up the stakes. Besides being a Latin American expert, James Petras writes extensively on the Middle East and how the Israeli Lobby influences US policy. His 2006 book, "The Power of Israel in the United States," is must reading to understand it. Petras has a new article on Petraeus. It's incisive, scary, and unsparing in exposing the generalissimo's true character, failings, and ambitions. Competence didn't make him Iraq commander last year. It came the same way he got each star. In the words of some of his peers - by brown-nosing his way to the top. It made him more than a general. He's a "brand," and it got him Time Magazine's 2007 runner-up slot for Person of the Year. The media now shower him with praise for his stellar performance in an otherwise dismal war. So do politicians. McCain calls him "one of (our) greatest (ever) generals." Clinton says he's "an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate for our military." Obama was less effusive but said he supports his nomination as Centcom chief and added: "I think Petraeus has done a good tactical job in Iraq....It would be stupid of me to ignore what he has to say." It would also hurt his presidential hopes as the right wing media would bash him mercilessly if he disparaged America's new war hero with very outsized ambitions and no shyness in pursuing them. He got off to a flying start after being appointed to the top Iraq job last year. The White House spin machine took over and didn't let facts interfere with its praise. It described him as aggressive in nature, an innovative thinker on counterinsurgency warfare, a talisman, a white knight, a do-or-die competitive legend, and a man able to turn defeat into victory. Others like Admiral Fallon had a different assessment, and Petras noted it in his article. Before his removal, he was openly contemptuous of a man who shamelessly supported Israel "in northern Iraq and the Bush 'Know Nothings' in charge of Iraq and Iran policy planning." It got him his April 16 promotion, and his week earlier Senate testimony sealed it. He was strikingly bellicose in blaming Iran for US troop deaths. That makes points any time on Capitol Hill, especially in an election year when rhetoric sells and whatever supports war and Israel does it best. Petras adds that Petraeus had few competitors for the Centcom job because other top candidates won't stoop the way he does - shamelessly flacking for Israel, the bellicose Bush agenda, and what Petras calls "his slavish adherence to....confrontation with Iran. Blaming Iran for his failed military policies served a double purpose - it covered up his incompetence and it secured the support of" the Senate's most hawkish (independent) Democrat, Joe Lieberman. It also served his outsized ambitions that may include a future run for the White House. His calculus seems to be - lie to Congress, hide his failures, blame Iran, support Israel and the Bush agenda unflinchingly, claim he turned Iraq around, say he'll do it in the region, and make him president and he'll fix everything. He (nor the media) won't report how bad things are in Iraq or the toll on its people. They won't explain the "surge's" failure to make any progress on the ground. They won't reveal the weekly US troop death and injury count that's far higher than reported numbers. By one estimate, (including weekly Pentagon wounded updates), it tops 85,000 when the following categories are included: -- "hostile" and "non-hostile" deaths, including from accidents and illness; -- total numbers wounded; and -- many thousands of later discovered casualties, mainly brain traumas from explosions. Left out of the above figures are future illnesses and deaths from exposure to toxic substances like depleted uranium. It now saturates large areas of Iraq in the soil, air and drinking water. Also omitted is the vast psychological toll. For many, it causes permanent damage, and whole families become victims. Consider civilian contractor casualties as well. They may be in the thousands. A February Houston Post report noted 1123 US civilian contractor deaths. It left out numbers of wounded or any information about foreign workers. They may have been affected most. Several other reports are played down. One is from the VA about 18 known daily suicides. The true number may be higher. Another comes from on May 5 but unreported on TV news. It cited Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health on an April 2008 Rand Corporation study. It found about "18.5% of returning (Iraq and Afghan) US soldiers (afflicted with) post-traumatic stress disorder or depression (PTSD), and only half of them receive treatment." Much of it shows up later, and many of its victims never recover. A smaller psychiatric association study put the PTSD number at about 32%, and a January 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association put it even higher - 35% of Iraq vets seeking help for mental health problems. A still earlier 2003 New England Journal of Medicine Study reported an astonishing 60% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showing PTSD "symptoms." Most victims said their duty caused it, but over half of them never sought treatment fearing damage to their careers. The same Rand study said another 19% have possible traumatic brain injuries ranging from concussions to severe head wounds. About 7% of vets suffer a double hit - both brain injury and PTSD or depression. It's a wonder numbers aren't higher as most active duty and National Guard forces serve multiple tours - some as many as six or more in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Surviving that ordeal in one piece is no small achievement. Patraeus' calculus omits these victims and all other war costs abroad and at home. They're consigned to an over-stuffed memory hole for whatever outs the facts on the ground or his PR-enhanced image. Petras strips it away and calls him "a disastrous failure" whose record is so poor it takes media magic to remake it. This man will now direct administration Middle East policy. He supports its aims, and if neocon wishes are adopted it means continued war and occupation of Iraq, stepped up efforts in Afghanistan, and making a hopeless enterprise worse by attacking Iran. No problem for Petraeus if it helps his ambitions. They, of course demand success, or at least the appearance, the way Petraeus so far has framed it. It remains to be seen what's ahead, and how long defeat can be called victory. And one more thing as well. Congress will soon vote on more Iraq-Afghanistan supplemental funding. Bush wants another $108 billion for FY 2008. In hopes a Democrat will be elected president, Congress may add another $70 billion through early FY 2009 for a total $178 billion new war spending (plus the usual pork add-ons) on top of an already bloated Pentagon budget programmed to increase. It's got economist Joseph Stiglitz alarmed and has for some time. In his judgment, the Iraq war alone (conservatively) will cost trillions of dollars, far more than his earlier estimates. That's counting all war-related costs: -- from annual defense spending plus huge supplemental add-ons; -- outsized expenses treating injured and disabled veterans - for the government and families that must bear the burden; -- high energy costs; they're affected by war but mostly result from blatant market manipulation; it's not a supply/demand issue; there's plenty of oil around, but not if you listen to industry flacks citing shortages and other false reasons why prices shot up so high; -- destructive budget and current account deficits; in the short run, they're stimulative, but sooner or later they matter; they're consuming the nation, and analysts like Stiglitz and Chalmers Johnson believe they'll bankrupt us; others do as well like Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs who last year outed the nation's trillion dollar defense budget; in a recent May 7 article, he wrote: "As the US government taxes, spends, borrows, regulates, mismanages, and wastes resources on a scale never before witnessed in the history of mankind, it is digging its own grave;" others believe we're past the tipping point and it's too late; -- debts must be serviced; the higher they mount, the greater the cost; they crowd out essential public and private investment; need growing billions for interest payments; damage the dollar; neglect human capital; and harm the country's stature as an economic leader; the more we eat our seed corn, the greater the long-term damage; -- debts also reduce our manoeuvring room in times of national crisis; limitless money-creation and reckless spending can't go on forever before inflation debases the currency; that's a major unreported threat at a time monetary and fiscal stimulus shifted financial markets around, and touts now predict we're out of the woods; they don't say for how long, what may follow, or how they'll explain it if they're wrong; -- add up all quantifiable war costs, and Stiglitz now estimates (conservatively) a $4 - 5 trillion total for America alone; watch for higher figures later; both wars have legs; another may be coming; leading presidential candidates assure are on board and have no objection to out-of-control militarism; -- Stiglitz will be back; his estimate is low; before this ends, look for one of several outcomes - trillions more spent, bankruptcy finally ends it, or the worst of all possible scenarios: an unthinkable nuclear holocaust that (expert Helen Caldicott explains) "could end life on earth as we know it" unless sanity ends the madness. The generalissimo is unconcerned. He's planning his future. He envisions the White House, and imagine what then. Like the current occupant and whomever follows, look for more destructive wars to serve his political ambitions and theirs. They fall right in line with the defense establishment, Wall Street, and the Israeli Lobby. Decades back, could anyone have thought things would come to this. Hopefully, good sense will gain currency and stop this madness before it consumes us. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. Programs are also archived for easy listening.

President of Bolivia sets date for recall vote

La Paz, Bolivia

President Evo Morales, trying to ease a deepening political crisis, Monday scheduled for Aug. 10 a sweeping recall referendum that would allow voters to cut short his term, those of his vice president and the country's eight provincial governors.

Morales said the vote would resolve a political showdown between his leftist administration and five governors who have pushed for more independence from the federal government. Morales has called the autonomy campaigns illegal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Howard Zinn is an Anarchist– An Interview with Howard Zinn on Anarchism


Howard Zinn, 85, is a Professor Emeritus of political science at Boston University. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1922 to a poor immigrant family. He realized early in his youth that the promise of the “American Dream“, that will come true to all hard-working and diligent people, is just that – a promise and a dream. During World War II he joined US Air Force and served as a bombardier in the European Theatre. This proved to be a formative experience that only strengthened his convictions that there is no such thing as a just war. It also revealed, once again, the real face of the socio-economic order, where the suffering and sacrifice of the ordinary people is always used only to higher the profits of the privileged few.

Although Zinn spent his youthful years helping his parents support the family by working in the shipyards, he started with studies at Columbia University after WWII, where he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in 1958. Later he was appointed as a chairman of the department of history and social sciences at Spelman College, an all-black women’s college in Atlanta, GA, where he actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

From the onset of the Vietnam War he was active within the emerging anti-war movement, and in the following years only stepped up his involvement in movements aspiring towards another, better world. Zinn is the author of more than 20 books, including A People’s History of the United States that is “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories…” (Library Journal)

Zinn’s most recent book is entitled A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, and is a fascinating collection of essays that Zinn wrote in the last couple of years. Beloved radical historian is still lecturing across the US and around the world, and is, with active participation and support of various progressive social movements continuing his struggle for free and just society.

Ziga Vodovnik: From the 1980s onwards we are witnessing the process of economic globalization getting stronger day after day. Many on the Left are now caught between a “dilemma” – either to work to reinforce the sovereignty of nation-states as a defensive barrier against the control of foreign and global capital; or to strive towards a non-national alternative to the present form of globalization and that is equally global. What’s your opinion about this?

Howard Zinn: I am an anarchist, and according to anarchist principles nation states become obstacles to a true humanistic globalization. In a certain sense the movement towards globalization where capitalists are trying to leap over nation state barriers, creates a kind of opportunity for movement to ignore national barriers, and to bring people together globally, across national lines in opposition to globalization of capital, to create globalization of people, opposed to traditional notion of globalization. In other words to use globalization – it is nothing wrong with idea of globalization – in a way that bypasses national boundaries and of course that there is not involved corporate control of the economic decisions that are made about people all over the world.

ZV: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once wrote that: “Freedom is the mother, not the daughter of order.” Where do you see life after or beyond (nation) states?

HZ: Beyond the nation states? (laughter) I think what lies beyond the nation states is a world without national boundaries, but also with people organized. But not organized as nations, but people organized as groups, as collectives, without national and any kind of boundaries. Without any kind of borders, passports, visas. None of that! Of collectives of different sizes, depending on the function of the collective, having contacts with one another. You cannot have self-sufficient little collectives, because these collectives have different resources available to them. This is something anarchist theory has not worked out and maybe cannot possibly work out in advance, because it would have to work itself out in practice.

ZV: Do you think that a change can be achieved through institutionalized party politics, or only through alternative means – with disobedience, building parallel frameworks, establishing alternative media, etc.

HZ: If you work through the existing structures you are going to be corrupted. By working through political system that poisons the atmosphere, even the progressive organizations, you can see it even now in the US, where people on the “Left” are all caught in the electoral campaign and get into fierce arguments about should we support this third party candidate or that third party candidate. This is a sort of little piece of evidence that suggests that when you get into working through electoral politics you begin to corrupt your ideals. So I think a way to behave is to think not in terms of representative government, not in terms of voting, not in terms of electoral politics, but thinking in terms of organizing social movements, organizing in the work place, organizing in the neighborhood, organizing collectives that can become strong enough to eventually take over – first to become strong enough to resist what has been done to them by authority, and second, later, to become strong enough to actually take over the institutions.

ZV: One personal question. Do you go to the polls? Do you vote?

HZ: I do. Sometimes, not always. It depends. But I believe that it is preferable sometimes to have one candidate rather another candidate, while you understand that that is not the solution. Sometimes the lesser evil is not so lesser, so you want to ignore that, and you either do not vote or vote for third party as a protest against the party system. Sometimes the difference between two candidates is an important one in the immediate sense, and then I believe trying to get somebody into office, who is a little better, who is less dangerous, is understandable. But never forgetting that no matter who gets into office, the crucial question is not who is in office, but what kind of social movement do you have. Because we have seen historically that if you have a powerful social movement, it doesn’t matter who is in office. Whoever is in office, they could be Republican or Democrat, if you have a powerful social movement, the person in office will have to yield, will have to in some ways respect the power of social movements.

We saw this in the 1960s. Richard Nixon was not the lesser evil, he was the greater evil, but in his administration the war was finally brought to an end, because he had to deal with the power of the anti-war movement as well as the power of the Vietnamese movement. I will vote, but always with a caution that voting is not crucial, and organizing is the important thing.

When some people ask me about voting, they would say will you support this candidate or that candidate? I say: ‘I will support this candidate for one minute that I am in the voting booth. At that moment I will support A versus B, but before I am going to the voting booth, and after I leave the voting booth, I am going to concentrate on organizing people and not organizing electoral campaign.’

ZV: Anarchism is in this respect rightly opposing representative democracy since it is still form of tyranny – tyranny of majority. They object to the notion of majority vote, noting that the views of the majority do not always coincide with the morally right one. Thoreau once wrote that we have an obligation to act according to the dictates of our conscience, even if the latter goes against the majority opinion or the laws of the society. Do you agree with this?

HZ: Absolutely. Rousseau once said, if I am part of a group of 100 people, do 99 people have the right to sentence me to death, just because they are majority? No, majorities can be wrong, majorities can overrule rights of minorities. If majorities ruled, we could still have slavery. 80% of the population once enslaved 20% of the population. While run by majority rule that is ok. That is very flawed notion of what democracy is. Democracy has to take into account several things – proportionate requirements of people, not just needs of the majority, but also needs of the minority. And also has to take into account that majority, especially in societies where the media manipulates public opinion, can be totally wrong and evil. So yes, people have to act according to conscience and not by majority vote.

ZV: Where do you see the historical origins of anarchism in the United States?

HZ: One of the problems with dealing with anarchism is that there are many people whose ideas are anarchist, but who do not necessarily call themselves anarchists. The word was first used by Proudhon in the middle of the 19th century, but actually there were anarchist ideas that proceeded Proudhon, those in Europe and also in the United States. For instance, there are some ideas of Thomas Paine, who was not an anarchist, who would not call himself an anarchist, but he was suspicious of government. Also Henry David Thoreau. He does not know the word anarchism, and does not use the word anarchism, but Thoreau’s ideas are very close to anarchism. He is very hostile to all forms of government. If we trace origins of anarchism in the United States, then probably Thoreau is the closest you can come to an early American anarchist. You do not really encounter anarchism until after the Civil War, when you have European anarchists, especially German anarchists, coming to the United States. They actually begin to organize. The first time that anarchism has an organized force and becomes publicly known in the United States is in Chicago at the time of Haymarket Affair.

ZV: Where do you see the main inspiration of contemporary anarchism in the United States? What is your opinion about the Transcendentalism – i.e., Henry D. Thoreau, Ralph W. Emerson, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, et al. – as an inspiration in this perspective?

HZ: Well, the Transcendentalism is, we might say, an early form of anarchism. The Transcendentalists also did not call themselves anarchists, but there are anarchist ideas in their thinking and in their literature. In many ways Herman Melville shows some of those anarchist ideas. They were all suspicious of authority. We might say that the Transcendentalism played a role in creating an atmosphere of skepticism towards authority, towards government. Unfortunately, today there is no real organized anarchist movement in the United States. There are many important groups or collectives that call themselves anarchist, but they are small. I remember that in 1960s there was an anarchist collective here in Boston that consisted of fifteen (sic!) people, but then they split. But in 1960s the idea of anarchism became more important in connection with the movements of 1960s.

ZV: Most of the creative energy for radical politics is nowadays coming from anarchism, but only few of the people involved in the movement actually call themselves “anarchists”. Where do you see the main reason for this? Are activists ashamed to identify themselves with this intellectual tradition, or rather they are true to the commitment that real emancipation needs emancipation from any label?

HZ: The term anarchism has become associated with two phenomena with which real anarchist don’t want to associate themselves with. One is violence, and the other is disorder or chaos. The popular conception of anarchism is on the one hand bomb-throwing and terrorism, and on the other hand no rules, no regulations, no discipline, everybody does what they want, confusion, etc. That is why there is a reluctance to use the term anarchism. But actually the ideas of anarchism are incorporated in the way the movements of the 1960s began to think.

I think that probably the best manifestation of that was in the civil rights movement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – SNCC. SNCC without knowing about anarchism as philosophy embodied the characteristics of anarchism. They were decentralized. Other civil rights organizations, for example Seven Christian Leadership Conference, were centralized organizations with a leader – Martin Luther King. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were based in New York, and also had some kind of centralized organization. SNCC, on the other hand, was totally decentralized. It had what they called field secretaries, who worked in little towns all over the South, with great deal of autonomy. They had an office in Atlanta, Georgia, but the office was not a strong centralized authority. The people who were working out in the field – in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi – they were very much on their own. They were working together with local people, with grassroots people. And so there is no one leader for SNCC, and also great suspicion of government.

They could not depend on government to help them, to support them, even though the government of the time, in the early 1960s, was considered to be progressive, liberal. John F. Kennedy especially. But they looked at John F. Kennedy, they saw how he behaved. John F. Kennedy was not supporting the Southern movement for equal rights for Black people. He was appointing the segregationists judges in the South, he was allowing southern segregationists to do whatever they wanted to do. So SNCC was decentralized, anti-government, without leadership, but they did not have a vision of a future society like the anarchists. They were not thinking long term, they were not asking what kind of society shall we have in the future. They were really concentrated on immediate problem of racial segregation. But their attitude, the way they worked, the way they were organized, was along, you might say, anarchist lines.

ZV: Do you thing that pejorative (mis)usage of the word anarchism is direct consequence of the fact that the ideas that people can be free, was and is very frightening to those in power?

HZ: No doubt! No doubt that anarchist ideas are frightening to those in power. People in power can tolerate liberal ideas. They can tolerate ideas that call for reforms, but they cannot tolerate the idea that there will be no state, no central authority. So it is very important for them to ridicule the idea of anarchism to create this impression of anarchism as violent and chaotic. It is useful for them, yes.

ZV: In theoretical political science we can analytically identify two main conceptions of anarchism – a so-called collectivist anarchism limited to Europe, and on another hand individualist anarchism limited to US. Do you agree with this analytical separation?

HZ: To me this is an artificial separation. As so often happens analysts can make things easier for themselves, like to create categories and fit movements into categories, but I don’t think you can do that. Here in the United States, sure there have been people who believed in individualist anarchism, but in the United States have also been organized anarchists of Chicago in 1880s or SNCC. I guess in both instances, in Europe and in the United States, you find both manifestations, except that maybe in Europe the idea of anarcho-syndicalism become stronger in Europe than in the US. While in the US you have the IWW, which is an anarcho-sindicalist organization and certainly not in keeping with individualist anarchism.

ZV: What is your opinion about the “dilemma” of means – revolution versus social and cultural evolution?

HZ: I think here are several different questions. One of them is the issue of violence, and I think here anarchists have disagreed. Here in the US you find a disagreement, and you can find this disagreement within one person. Emma Goldman, you might say she brought anarchism, after she was dead, to the forefront in the US in the 1960s, when she suddenly became an important figure. But Emma Goldman was in favor of the assassination of Henry Clay Frick, but then she decided that this is not the way. Her friend and comrade, Alexander Berkman, he did not give up totally the idea of violence. On the other hand, you have people who were anarchistic in way like Tolstoy and also Gandhi, who believed in nonviolence.

There is one central characteristic of anarchism on the matter of means, and that central principle is a principle of direct action – of not going through the forms that the society offers you, of representative government, of voting, of legislation, but directly taking power. In case of trade unions, in case of anarcho-syndicalism, it means workers going on strike, and not just that, but actually also taking hold of industries in which they work and managing them. What is direct action? In the South when black people were organizing against racial segregation, they did not wait for the government to give them a signal, or to go through the courts, to file lawsuits, wait for Congress to pass the legislation. They took direct action; they went into restaurants, were sitting down there and wouldn’t move. They got on those busses and acted out the situation that they wanted to exist.

Of course, strike is always a form of direct action. With the strike, too, you are not asking government to make things easier for you by passing legislation, you are taking a direct action against the employer. I would say, as far as means go, the idea of direct action against the evil that you want to overcome is a kind of common denominator for anarchist ideas, anarchist movements. I still think one of the most important principles of anarchism is that you cannot separate means and ends. And that is, if your end is egalitarian society you have to use egalitarian means, if your end is non-violent society without war, you cannot use war to achieve your end. I think anarchism requires means and ends to be in line with one another. I think this is in fact one of the distinguishing characteristics of anarchism.

ZV: On one occasion Noam Chomsky has been asked about his specific vision of anarchist society and about his very detailed plan to get there. He answered that “we can not figure out what problems are going to arise unless you experiment with them.” Do you also have a feeling that many left intellectuals are loosing too much energy with their theoretical disputes about the proper means and ends, to even start “experimenting” in practice?

HZ: I think it is worth presenting ideas, like Michael Albert did with Parecon for instance, even though if you maintain flexibility. We cannot create blueprint for future society now, but I think it is good to think about that. I think it is good to have in mind a goal. It is constructive, it is helpful, it is healthy, to think about what future society might be like, because then it guides you somewhat what you are doing today, but only so long as this discussions about future society don’t become obstacles to working towards this future society. Otherwise you can spend discussing this utopian possibility versus that utopian possibility, and in the mean time you are not acting in a way that would bring you closer to that.

ZV: In your A People’s History of the United States you show us that our freedom, rights, environmental standards, etc., have never been given to us from the wealthy and influential few, but have always been fought out by ordinary people – with civil disobedience. What should be in this respect our first steps toward another, better world?

HZ: I think our first step is to organize ourselves and protest against existing order – against war, against economic and sexual exploitation, against racism, etc. But to organize ourselves in such a way that means correspond to the ends, and to organize ourselves in such a way as to create kind of human relationship that should exist in future society. That would mean to organize ourselves without centralize authority, without charismatic leader, in a way that represents in miniature the ideal of the future egalitarian society. So that even if you don’t win some victory tomorrow or next year in the meantime you have created a model. You have acted out how future society should be and you created immediate satisfaction, even if you have not achieved your ultimate goal.

ZV: What is your opinion about different attempts to scientifically prove Bakunin’s ontological assumption that human beings have “instinct for freedom”, not just will but also biological need?

HZ: Actually I believe in this idea, but I think that you cannot have biological evidence for this. You would have to find a gene for freedom? No. I think the other possible way is to go by history of human behavior. History of human behavior shows this desire for freedom, shows that whenever people have been living under tyranny, people would rebel against that.

Ziga Vodovnik is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, where his teaching and research is focused on anarchist theory/praxis and social movements in the Americas. His new book Anarchy of Everyday Life – Notes on anarchism and its Forgotten Confluences will be released in late 2008.

Beware the Psychopath, My Son


The following is largely extracted from two articles:

Twilight of the Psychopaths, by Dr. Kevin Barrett and The Trick of the Psychopath’s Trade by Silvia Cattori. Both articles are recommended. Both articles reference the book Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, by Andrzej Lobaczewski. Cattori’s article is longer and includes an interview with the book’s editors, Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See.

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn’t seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination. The inventor of civilization — the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers — was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies — especially military hierarchies.

Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld — the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.

During the past fifty years, psychopaths have gained almost absolute control of all the branches of government. You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what illegal thing a modern politician does, no one will really take him to task. All of the so called scandals that have come up, any one of which would have taken down an authentic administration, are just farces played out for the public, to distract them, to make them think that the democracy is still working.

One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the psychopaths’ only limitation is the participation of susceptible individuals within that given society. Lobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of approximately 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopaths and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.) The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The others form the first tier of the psychopath’s control system.

The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends. Numerically, according to Lobaczewski, this group is about 12% of a given population under normal conditions.

So approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy. The 6% group constitutes the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.

When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless — they literally have no conscience.

In his book Political Oenology, Andrej Lobaczewski explains that clinical psychopaths enjoy advantages even in non-violent competitions to climb the ranks of social hierarchies. Because they can lie without remorse (and without the telltale physiological stress that is measured by lie detector tests), psychopaths can always say whatever is necessary to get what they want. In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of the truth. Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that benefit the psychopath. As with judges and juries, so too with those charged with decisions concerning who to promote and who not to promote in corporate, military and governmental hierarchies. The result is that all hierarchies inevitably become top-heavy with psychopaths. Since psychopaths have no limitations on what they can or will do to get to the top, the ones in charge are generally pathological. It is not power that corrupts, it is that corrupt individuals seek power.

How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? What is the portrait of a true psychopath?

Such a dangerous question has almost never been successfully asked. The reason is because we mistakenly confuse healthy for normal. Human psychological diversity is the health of our race. There is no normal because healthy humans continuously evolve beyond all normalizing standards. The terrorism of searching through hierarchies for anyone deviating from normal is no different from witch hunts or Inquisitions. You must remember that hierarchies thrive on such low dramas, torturing victims until they confess to evil beliefs. Not so long ago the church and state ongoingly acquired significant income and property through witch hunts and Inquisitions. This continued for over two hundred and fifty years. Ten generations of Europeans understood pogrom as normal life. Let us not return to that nightmare. Testing for normal is guaranteed to backfire in our face. There is no normal. But there is conscience.

We have very little empirical evidence to support the idea that true psychopathy is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to identify even the most devious psychopath. Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans! A missing internal connection between the feeling heart and the thinking brain is detectable.

Psychopaths are incapable of authentic deep emotions. In fact, when Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an emotional reaction until they intellectually concluded that it would be better if they had one, and then they whipped up an emotional response just for show.

The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject: Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak. A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless. The most important thing to remember is that this lack of conscience is hidden from view behind a mask of normality that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived. As a result, psychopaths become the Snakes in Suits that control our world.

Psychopaths lack a sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their problems or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait — and a very important one — is their ability to control the flow of information.

They also seem to have little real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Lobaczewski calls their special psychological knowledge of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.

Psychopaths learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to themselves. They also become conscious of being of a different world from the majority of other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance.

Think about the ramifications of this statement: Psychopaths are, to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood! Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind, that is, to other psychopaths.

Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and revile non-psychopaths and their values. In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior.

Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others; what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. They also learn very early how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of achieving their goals.

So now, imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark about the presence of psychopaths can be easily deceived and manipulated by these individuals, gaining power in different countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernible physical differences between groups (such as race, skin color, religion, etc). Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on the basis of unimportant differences (think of Rwanda 1994, think of Israelis and Palestinians) while the deviants in power, with a fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience, an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits and pulled the strings.

We are seeing the final desperate power-grab or endgame (Alex Jones) of brutal, cunning gangs of CIA drug-runners and President-killers; money-laundering international bankers and their hit-men — economic and otherwise; corrupt military contractors and gung-ho generals; corporate predators and their political enablers; brainwashers and mind-rapists euphemistically known as psy-ops and PR specialists — in short, the whole crew of certifiable psychopaths running our so-called civilization. And they are running scared.

Why does the Pathocracy fear it is losing control? Because it is threatened by the spread of knowledge. The greatest fear of any psychopath is of being found out.

Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely different from other people. Deep down they know something is missing in them. They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully studying others’ emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-bloodedly manipulating the normals.

Today, thanks to new information technologies, we are on the brink of unmasking the psychopaths and building a civilization of, by and for the healthy human being — a civilization without war, a civilization based on truth, a civilization in which the saintly few rather than the diabolical few would gravitate to positions of power. We already have the knowledge necessary to diagnose psychopathic personalities and keep them out of power. We have the knowledge necessary to dismantle the institutions in which psychopaths especially flourish — militaries, intelligence agencies, large corporations, and secret societies. We simply need to disseminate this knowledge, and the will to use it, as widely and as quickly as possible.

Until the knowledge and awareness of pathological human beings is given the attention it deserves and becomes part of the general knowledge of all human beings, there is no way that things can be changed in any way that is effective and long-lasting. If half the people agitating for truth or stopping the war or saving the earth would focus their efforts, time and money on exposing psychopathy, we might get somewhere.

One might ask if the weak point of our society has been our tolerance of psychopathic behavior? Our disbelief that someone could seem like an intelligent leader and still be acting deceptively on their own behalf without conscience? Or is it merely ignorance?

If the general voting public is not aware that there exists a category of people we sometimes perceive as almost human, who look like us, who work with us, who are found in every race, every culture, speaking every language, but who are lacking conscience, how can the general public take care to block them from taking over the hierarchies? General ignorance of psychopathology may prove to be the downfall of civilization. We stand by like grazing sheep as political/corporate elites throw armies of our innocent sons and daughters against fabricated enemies as a way of generating trillions in profits, vying against each other for pathological hegemony.

Nearly everyone who has been part of an organization working for social change has probably seen the same dynamic play out: The good and sincere work of many can be destroyed by the actions of one person. That doesn’t bode well for bringing some sort of justice to the planet! In fact, if psychopaths dominate political hierarchies, is it any wonder that peaceful demonstrations have zero impact on the outcome of political decisions? Perhaps it is time to choose something other than massive, distant hierarchies as a way of governing ourselves?

So many efforts to provide essays, research reports, exposés and books to leaders so they might take the new information to heart and change their behavior have come to naught. For example, in the final paragraph of his revised edition of the book, The Party’s Over, Richard Heinberg writes:

I still believe that if the people of the world can be helped to understand the situation we are in, the options available, and the consequences of the path we are currently on, then it is at least possible that they can be persuaded to undertake the considerable effort and sacrifice that will be entailed in a peaceful transition to a sustainable, locally based, decentralized, low-energy, resource-conserving social regime. But inspired leadership will be required.

And that is the just-murdered fantasy. There are no inspired leaders anymore. And in hierarchical structures there can’t be. Assuming that you can elect men or women to office who will see reason and the light of day, and who will change and learn and grow, make compassionate decisions and take conscientious actions… is a foolish, childish dream. Continuing to dream it simply plays into psychopathic agendas.

Only when the 75% of humanity with a healthy conscience come to understand that we have a natural predator, a group of people who live amongst us, viewing us as powerless victims to be freely fed upon for achieving their inhuman ends, only then will we take the fierce and immediate actions needed to defend what is preciously human. Psychological deviants have to be removed from any position of power over people of conscience, period. People must be made aware that such individuals exist and must learn how to spot them and their manipulations. The hard part is that one must also struggle against those tendencies to mercy and kindness in oneself in order not to become prey.

The real problem is that the knowledge of psychopathy and how psychopaths rule the world has been effectively hidden. People do not have the adequate, nuanced knowledge they need to really make a change from the bottom up. Again and again, throughout history it has been meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If there is any work that is deserving of full time efforts and devotion for the sake of helping humanity in this present dark time, it is the study of psychopathy and the propagation of this information as far and wide and fast as possible.

There are only two things that can bring a psychopath under submission:

1. A bigger psychopath. 2. The non-violent, absolute refusal to submit to psychopathic controls no matter the consequences (non-violent noncompliance).

Let us choose path 2! If individuals simply sat down and refused to lift a hand to further one single aim of the psychopathic agenda, if people refused to pay taxes, if soldiers refused to fight, if government workers and corporate drones and prison guards refused to go to work, if doctors refused to treat psychopathic elites and their families, the whole system would grind to a screeching halt.

True change happens in the moment that a person becomes aware of psychopathy in all its chilling details. From this new awareness, the world looks different, and entirely new actions can be taken. Distinguishing between human and psychopathic qualities begins the foundation of responsibility upon which we have a real chance to create sustainable culture.

Clinton Callahan, originator of Possibility Management, author of Radiant Joy Brilliant Love, founder of Callahan Academy, empowers responsible creative leadership through authentic personal development.

Why All of Our Efforts Won’t Stop the Attack on Iran

May 9. I read tonight a brief article by Philip Giraldi posted on the American Conservative website: “War with Iran Might Be Closer than You Think.”

“There is considerable speculation,” writes the former CIA officer, “and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods [Revolutionary Guards]-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants. The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near Tehran.”

Giraldi provides details. He reports that the meeting came as “the direct result” of Hizbollah advances in Lebanon in recent days. (Recall that the U.S. State Department lists the Shiite organization Hizbollah as “terrorist” and as a tool of both Iran and Baathist Syria. In fact it is probably the country’s largest and most popular political party and has built significant ties with some Christian and Sunni groups. Hizbollah’s rapid seizure of the Muslim sections of Beirut, accomplished with little resistance, may have been deliberately provoked by the U.S.-backed quasi-government of Lebanon when the latter shut down the party’s private communications network.)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to Giraldi, was the only senior official present urging delay. That suggests that the military is not enthusiastic about a widened war in Southwest Asia, but that the other regular members of the NSC (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley as well as President Bush and Vice President Cheney) are willing to provoke just that.

They will do what they do with the solid backing of Congress, the presidential candidates, and the mainstream press which if history is our guide will for a time shape shockingly malleable public opinion. Yes, I fear that we (most of us) will be fooled again.

The Congress has passed near-unanimous resolutions against Iran, endorsing the administration’s unprecedented designation of a component of a nation’s military as a “terrorist organization.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be on board the program. Recall how after the Democratic victory two years ago she capitulated to AIPAC by stripping from a military spending bill the requirement that Bush seek Congressional approval before attacking Iran. (That was after she’d pointedly declared that Bush-Cheney impeachment hearings were “off the table.” And after Rep. John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee and sometimes maverick, bitterly disappointed those pinning their hopes on him by going along with the Democratic leadership’s line. And after the Democrats had made it clear they weren’t serious about ending the war they’d been elected to end—showing us how very well the democratic system works in this country.)

John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton (all of whom agree that an attack on Iran is “on the table”) will publicly approve. The media will call upon the same “military analysts”/military industry consultants who have been disseminating Pentagon propaganda for pay since 2002 to explain why the attack is justified and necessary. The main talking-point has been decided: “Iran is killing American soldiers in Iraq.” Public opinion polls will show the public divided, but a majority in support of the action because, regardless of their feelings about the war in Iraq, they want to “support our troops” and after all, Iran was asking for it by interfering in Iraq and attacking us.

All the “exposure” that so many journalists and academics have tried to provide for years will have failed to prevent another illegal attack on a sovereign nation based on lies and bound to produce more outrage against the U.S. throughout the world. A cruise missile strike on an alleged training camp site won’t end there. It will be designed to provoke an Iranian response and legitimate further U.S. attacks, not only on Iran but Syria and Lebanon, probably in coordination with Israel. Some in Israel badly want the U.S. to behead all their main enemies in the region before their good friend George Bush leaves the White House. If that means regional chaos—clashes between Iranian and U.S. forces, the fall of the Maliki puppet regime in Baghdad (which actually is friendly with Tehran and says it’s playing a positive role in Iraq), the collapse of Shiite cooperation with the U.S. occupation, Iran-Iraq border clashes, U.S. forays into Iranian territory, the closing of ranks in fractious Iran against the imperialist assault on their country—so be it!

If it means renewed war in Lebanon including Israeli invasion, an Iranian shift from supporting U.S. puppet Karzai to Iran’s longtime enemy the Taliban in Afghanistan, active Syrian support for Sunni forces in Iraq, the disintegration of the fragile Sunni-“Coalition” alliance against al-Qaeda in western Iraq as the region descends into a Shiite-Sunni war—so be it! If it means the use of nuclear weapons against Iran to try to cow its leaders and people into accepting a U.S.-Israeli blueprint for the region—so be it! If it means the unthinkable in the U.S.—a return to the draft—so be it! All of this will at least have prevented the “nuclear holocaust” that the neocons, Cheney and Bush have been insisting the Iranians plan to inflict on the Jewish state unless they are stopped now. (No matter that all the U.S. intelligence agencies in their National Intelligence Estimate on Iran published late last year agreed that Iran does not now have a nuclear weapons program. And no matter that the Ahmadinejad quote about “wiping Israel off the map” has been exposed as a lie by Juan Cole and others.)

If Benjamin Netanyahu is Israeli prime minister at the time of the planned attack on Iran, a time of apocalyptic confusion might be the perfect opportunity to empty the West Bank of its Palestinians. This NSC agreement “in principle” to attack Iran is an agreement to risk all these ramifications, confident that the press and politicians will cooperate.

* * * * *

So often in recent months I’ve started to write a column exposing some recent lie (or at least some report pertaining to Iran or Syria that strikes me as obvious neocon-generated disinformation) only to give up midway through. Not because of writer’s block, fatigue, or even the thought that “Someone else has already written this, or someone like Alex Cockburn or Justin Raimondo or Scott Ritter or Gordon Prather will in the next day or so.” It’s more a matter of despairing at how much exposure can accomplish.

A friend of mine was saying last month, “People are ‘exposured’ out. They’re “Chomskyed” out.” He was speaking about young antiwar activists mainly, but his point was that people who know what’s going on are eager to act on the knowledge. To paraphrase Marx, the point is not to expose the world, or have it further exposed to you, but to change it.

The readership of sites like Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, and know the main points. They know that Dick Cheney, the most powerful vice president in history (and the most secrecy-obsessed among powerful figures in U.S. history), has made his office the hub of a cabal of neocons hell-bent of effecting “regime change” throughout Southwest Asia by the end of Bush’s second term. They know that the Office of Special Plans fabricated “intelligence” to terrify the masses and gain support for the invasion of Iraq. They know that U.S. intelligence has actually concluded that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, and that the UN’s IAEA scientists have found no evidence for one. But they also know that Cheney insists that he knows there’s one, just as the neocons such as Norman Podhoretz and Michael Ledeen know there’s one. Just as top Israeli officials know there’s one as they demand U.S. action against Iran. They know there’s a huge anti-Iran propaganda campaign underway very similar to the one that preceded the lie campaign leading up to the Iraq War now in its disastrous sixth year. They know that the U.S. is funding terrorist groups to carry out attacks in Iran. They know that the administration’s allegations about a Syrian nuclear program are highly dubious.

They know that there are conflicts between the traditional intelligence community and the neocons, and that the latter draw upon a coherent (Straussian) philosophy that justifies the “noble lie” in order to induce the foolish masses to support what the “wise”—who must conceal their real objectives—want them to support. They distrust anything the administration says about Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan…

Yes, they’re “Chomskyed out.”

Maybe we need to shift the focus of exposure a bit. From the particular to the general. From nasty individuals to nasty institutions. From the symptoms to the system.

What’s worse? Cheney and his attorney David Addington crafting a document in November 2001, bypassing routine staff review before receiving Bush’s signature, which denied “foreign terrorist” suspects in the U.S. access to any courts and allowing for their indefinite detention? (This was exposed by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker in the Washington Post last summer.) Or the failure of the elected officials in Congress to even start impeachment proceedings against Cheney and Bush?

What’s worse? John Yoo writing up his torture memos in 2002 as a Justice Department employee, as eventually exposed in the mainstream press? Or the decision of the trustees of the University of California, Berkeley to hire him as a law professor in 2003?

What’s worse? Judith Miller’s willingness to funnel disinformation to the American people through her NYT articles before and after the Iraq invasion? Or the Time’s willingness to publish them, and now those of her sometimes co-author Michael Gordon, cheerleading the coming Iran attack?

The Congress, the Justice Department, academia, and the press are all complicit in imperialist war and attacks on the Constitution. Does this mean the system isn’t working, or that it’s working all too well?

Is the system supposed to expose itself, through congressional hearings, investigative reporting, war crimes trials? Or is it, serving the small minority it’s designed to serve, supposed to simply tolerate exposure (in the name of freedom of the press) while saturating citizens with propaganda? (If the exposure ever gets widely enough disseminated, and threatens to undermine its objectives, it can always “kill the messenger”—or at least accuse the writer of undermining national security, abetting terrorism, etc.)

Voting for “antiwar” Democrats two years ago didn’t end the war. Even millions in the streets, peacefully demonstrating as the system encourages, didn’t prevent the assault on Iraq over five years ago. Now there’s no feasible mainstream-political recourse to stop an attack on Iran. And little time to mobilize mass demonstrations against it. It will come as a thief in the night, presented to the American people as a fait accompli. As the Bush-Cheney cowboys ride off into the sunset, smirkin’ and grinnin’ and slapping each other’s backs, the people will start to pay.

A character in Bertolt Brecht’s The Beggar’s Opera asks what’s worse—robbing a bank, or owning a bank? The system itself, that is to say, is the criminal product of wrongly acquired wealth, much of it obtained through imperialist war. Exposure alone, no matter how voluminous, eloquent and persuasive, will not change it.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Speech on Iran-US relation at MIT

by Brian H. Appleton (source: CASMII)
Sunday, May 11, 2008

Before I begin I wanted to tell the Harvard students in the audience that my father was a Harvard Alumni, class of 1936, Lowell House.

I am a columnist for CASMII, (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) and a free lance journalist for:”The Iranian Times, The Persian Heritage Magazine, The Persian Mirror, Payvand News, Irandokht Magazine, UK Guardian, Al Jazeera English and others.

I lived in Iran for 5 years in the ‘70’s and was taken hostage during the revolution. That did not change my love for Iranians and their culture and this is not the Stockholm Effect.

You may recall after 9/11 that the families of the victims made it very clear they did not want a war of retaliation in response to 9/11 but unfortunately they were not in charge. Violence is not the only available response to violence.

Jahangir is a self taught film maker who cares very deeply not only for Iran but for all humanity and for peace…so deeply in fact that he has burrowed a ¼ million dollars against his house, spent all his savings and given four years of his life to bring this film to you as an olive branch. What are you willing to do for peace?

4 weeks ago, his film took 3 awards at the L.A. Noor Film Festival for Best Picture, Best Story and Best Director. He has screened this film at UCLA, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, the National Cathedral, The World Affairs Council of San Francisco and the UN Film Festival. In the summer it will be shown at the Dubai Film Festival.

Jahangir has made avoiding politics a religion, which is not a bad choice in a world where we worship false Gods like wealth, fashion, virtual reality, gourmet food and high altitude bombing.

Everything is worshipped except our common humanity these days and this film is out to rectify that situation. I am here with Jahangir because I share his mission of keeping a human face on Iran. I am here on a mission to make love not war…and why would I not

try to save a country I love and a people I love, who showed me only kindness…IRAN…from bombardment, by supporting this film designed to win over American hearts. The main hero of this film is an American by the name of Tobb Del’Oro, who was a non governmental, self appointed goodwill ambassador to Iran. The film is a tribute to his leadership and provides his death with new meaning. It is also a tribute to Farzaneh, the incredibly loyal tour guide and to all the Iranian people.

Mr. Bush has alluded to Iran as part of the “Triple Axis of Evil” and to starting World War III over Iran, Mrs. Clinton has used the words “obliterate Iran.” To my knowledge, Iran has not bombed any other country or started any wars for the past 100 years, it defended itself in an 8 year “silent war” in which a million young Iranians died fighting Iraq armed by the US government. Iran has no proven nuclear weapons program, is a member of the NPT and has cooperated voluntarily with UN inspectors and yet we see the president and all three presidential candidates saber rattling because Iran might be thinking about it…while her neighbors who are not members of the NPT are full of nuclear weapons.

The town of Boston is where the spirit of 1776 started, it is where the Boston Tea Party took place, it is where we threw off the yoke of tyranny and our Republic was born. Surely we must be able to relate to a people who want a choice other than a monarch or a mullah. Columbia University ridiculed Mr. Ahmadinejad. Perhaps he is not as polished or as sophisticated as we would like. Perhaps he does not want to be a US puppet. That shouldn’t be a crime.

I believe that we the people of both America and Iran do not want a war and we deserve better leadership.

The Iranian people are a very kind and generous people especially towards foreign visitors…they always extend a helping hand…even in times of natural catastrophe it is not “every man for himself.” This film tells the story of their character.

I give you Jahangir and his film Bam 6.6, which is not only a tribute to Iran but to all of our common humanity for celebrating what is the very best in us. Thank you Jahangir for your leadership and for showing us what HOPE and COURAGE look like.


bill w

Bill Wilson (more commonly known as Bill W.) was co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the group that originated the Twelve Steps….

By Carolyn Baker


Simulposted with Speaking Truth to Power

“The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded.”

–H.G. Wells, 1946

I recently received an email from a reader, frustrated with my insistence on holding a vision of what is possible alongside the dismal, inevitable current realities of civilization’s collapse. Admonishing me to bear in mind America’s Oprah and NASCAR world view and therefore abdicate any sense of optimism I might have, this reader accused me of suggesting that we should 12 Step our way through Armageddon. Rather than being offended, however, I was overcome with gratitude for this reader’s image, frustrated with me as he may be, because in spite of the regular “wordsmithing” that I do as a writer, I always feel a sense of relief and validation when someone else gives words that I may not yet have for what I’ve been thinking, feeling, or doing.

With the image of the 12 Steps in mind, I decided to look more closely at them in relation to the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) and notice how they might in fact be useful not only for recovering from addiction, but for navigating Armageddon. At first I felt shy about applying the Steps to the collapse of civilization, thinking that my readers would think I had seriously gone around the bend, but then someone sent me the “12 Steps Of Peak Oil” from a Vancouver newspaper. At that point, I realized how relevant the Steps might be not only to Peak Oil, but to Peak Civilization itself. Seasoned 12 Steppers argue that despite their 1930s origin, the Steps are applicable to any situation-no matter how monumental, and the collapse of civilization is about as big as it gets. So let’s take a closer look.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless - that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 1 requires that I admit my powerlessness over the situation with which I’m confronted. Maybe you’re thinking, “Well hey, that’s no problem-did I ask for this debacle? All those years that I was an upstanding citizen and voted in elections and had faith in the American dream? What was that for? I did all the right things and now we’re looking at Armageddon. Of course, I know that I’m powerless.”

But that’s not exactly what I mean by admitting that one is powerless. Many of us are stockpiling food, learning skills, busily relocating to other parts of the country or world, investing in precious metals, and so much more, but let’s not forget that no matter how much we prepare, we’re ultimately powerless over the outcome. While we may know that intellectually, letting it sink into the gut is a whole different story.

Powerless means that we don’t know the outcome and can’t control it, and that’s really scary. I mean what it really all comes down to is the “D” word, you know: Death. And even if we end up celebrating a 100th birthday eating soy cupcakes with our friends in some groovy ecovillage, collapse means that we’ll be encountering many more endings than we can now imagine, beginning with the end of our current way of life no matter how small our footprint may be.

Control freaks won’t do well with TEOTWAWKI; flexibility, on the other hand, is an essential attribute for survival. No matter how “manageable” our lives might be in the current moment, the collapse of empire is certain to challenge that and will compel us to align with others, give and receive support, trust our intuition as well as our intellect, and be willing to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. As a 12 Stepper might say, true empowerment lies in admitting one’s powerlessness.

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

People entering recovery often have a terrible time with this one. First of all, they feel they might have to buy into all that God stuff, but worse, they feel as if in order to recover, they have to admit that they are insane.

Let me hasten to emphasize that I too recoil at the use of the word “God” and wish to define “power greater than ourselves” as broadly as possible. Over the decades, countless atheists have benefited from using the 12 Steps for addiction recovery precisely because they were able to do the same. Atheists, agnostics, and feminists will have a much easier time with the Steps if they widen their concept of Higher Power to something non-theistic and gender-neutral.

Insanity” as the Steps define it simply means that one does not recognize anything larger or more significant than one’s own ego. Simply put, “something greater” could be one’s concept of nature or one’s confidence in the human spirit or anything else that one considers more benevolently powerful than oneself.

The 12 Steps inherently fly in the face of the ethics of civilization, based as those values are on the supremacy of the human ego-a pre-eminence that consciously or unconsciously deifies itself and whatever material gain it can amass unto itself at the expense of everyone and everything else. Now what could be more insane than that, and isn’t everyone reading these words interested in transforming that paradigm into something more compassionate and sustainable? 12 Step programs further define insanity as doing the same thing that doesn’t work over and over again, each time expecting different results. I can think of myriad examples of this in the culture of empire, starting with, “Maybe this time, if we just elect the right candidate for president then….”

12 Stepping into Armageddon begins with thoroughly examining how the culture of empire has inculcated us on every level and in every aspect of our lives. It means understanding how empire has programmed us to believe that we are all-powerful and that if we just do all the right things, we will succeed because our ego needs are the raison d’etre for our existence. When we are unable to recognize our powerlessness and resist acknowledging something greater than ourselves, we also rebel against the limits that life on this planet demand of us. We walk around as little “gods” and “goddesses” believing that we can consume whatever we like whenever we like at the expense of all other species as well as our own.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to that power.

OK, breathe. Remember-you don’t have to use the word “God”, and this Higher Power thing is gender-neutral.

This Step is particularly challenging because it requires action. Steps 1 and 2 just require me to admit something, but Step 3 asks me to DO something-something repugnant to the children of empire. It means I have to surrender my will to that “something greater”. Eeeeeeew!

Step 3 is where the rubber meets the road-or not. In order to continue with the rest of the Steps, and therefore recovery, if that’s what I’m using them for, or navigating collapse, as the case may be, I have to defer to a greater wisdom. What’s even more distasteful is that I’m asked to surrender not only my will but my life.

Well, here we are again back to the dreaded “D” word. Anyone who has been researching and preparing for collapse knows the precarious position of the planet and the human race. If 200 species per day are going extinct, then the bottom line is that we are all staring our own mortality in the face as never before in human history. Collapse is, above all, forcing us to confront our personal mortality and that of our loved ones which is the principal reason so few are willing to deal with it. Who would sign up to feel that vulnerable? However, if we can allow that particular emotion, it becomes more possible to surrender our will and our life because what else do we have to lose?

The logical progression of the Steps is simply that since I’m powerless over the outcome, and there is something greater than my human ego and my five physical senses, it behooves me to consider abdicating my attempt to control what my finite humanity cannot. For this reason, I find that Step 3 relinquishes me from having “hope” because hope is ultimately another attempt to control what I cannot.

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

So now that I know that my ego can’t manage my life, and I’m willing to surrender the outcome of my life and the world as I have known it to a power greater than myself, I have to look more deeply within. If we are using the Steps in relation to TEOTWAWKI, then a moral inventory could be a somewhat different experience than if we’re applying the steps in relation to an addiction. Nevertheless, TEOTWAWKI is not unrelated to the addiction issue. In fact, humanity’s addiction to material gain and economic growth has resulted in a delusional disregard for the earth’s limits. An expression often heard among 12 Steppers is “self-will run riot” which pretty much summarizes humankind’s obliviousness and even contempt toward the earth community.

But let’s define our terms. Inventory simply means taking stock of what we have and don’t have-what we may need more of or less of. The collapse of empire forces all of us, whether we consciously intend to or not, to consider our values and priorities. People losing houses, jobs, having to relocate out of necessity or by choice, finding that their pensions have suddenly evaporated or who have lost health insurance are forced to make tough decision about priorities.

Those of us who have been aware of collapse for some time and have been preparing for it are faced not only with making decisions such as the ones mentioned above, but are also compelled to look more deeply within to notice what qualities we need to develop in the face of collapse and which ones we may need to minimize. For example, I grew up as an only child and have lived an extremely independent life as an adult. I currently find myself working on reaching out to trusted others, making plans to live in community, and although fiercely committed to personal space and daily periods of solitude, consciously forsaking a life that is all about just me and my needs.

In so doing, I am taken to deeper layers of Step 4 as I contemplate my own part in the collapse of civilization. Although I have left a very small footprint on the earth for most of my life, I must own responsibility for the ways, no matter how small, in which I’ve polluted the ecosystem, my disconnection from the earth community, aspects of personal independence that have manifested in dysfunction, isolation, arrogance, and rationalization about my need for interdependent connection. In other words, although I’m not on the board of Monsanto, I have played a role in violating the human and more than human worlds.

Step 5. Admitted the exact nature of our wrongs.

Taking a searching and fearless moral inventory compels us to admit our errors to ourselves, to something greater, and to someone else. I begin this process by verbalizing these errors to the power greater than me and then to whomever or whatever I have harmed.

With respect to TEOTWAWKI, I must apologize to generations younger than mine for the failure of my generation to preserve and protect the earth. For example, when teaching college students about the collapse of civilization and its repercussions, I’m often confronted with, “Yeah, and it’s your fault and the fault of your generation.” Without the slightest hesitation, I wholeheartedly agree, and I tell them that I am genuinely sorry. I also point out that collapse has built up over a period of centuries and that inherent within the values of civilization were the seeds of its own demise. Nevertheless, I have made choices in my lifetime that reinforced those values.

Step 6. Were entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed.

Defects of character? What is this?

It’s easy to become defensive around this Step unless one takes it to the next level. I define “defects of character” as those aspects of my personality that have resulted from the programming of empire, or my wounds, if you will. These are the qualities that I have taken on while growing up in empire culture which mitigate against the earth community and my connection with it. I’m very ready to have those removed, but I’m also aware that that means I may need to change my lifestyle, perhaps in drastic ways. Speaking only for myself, I need to look at my appetite for meat (which I’ve almost extinguished); my tendency to think of my own needs first even when I know I shouldn’t; my workaholism, which although greatly diminished in recent years is not entirely absent; my tendency to isolate; my quickness to judge others-the list goes on and on. None of these qualities will be useful as collapse accelerates, and I am working to transform their presence in my life which the next Step facilitates.

Step 7. Humbly asked for the shortcomings to be removed

Now I’m back to Step 3 and my relationship with “something greater”. Because I’ve surrendered the outcome to it, I can also surrender my character defects and ask them to be transformed-a word that I personally prefer over “removed” since I have come to believe that no part of me can ever be totally removed. Like energy, parts of myself can be transformed but never made to disappear.

Step 8. Made a list of all we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

While Steps 4 through 7 are about oneself, Steps 8, 9, and 10 are relational. Step 8 asks me to notice carefully who has been harmed by my empire-inflicted wounds. This definitely does not apply exclusively to people. Without meaning to, I’ve harmed animals, birds, trees, soil, water, air-myriad members of the earth community, and I need to reflect on that. In fact, even after learning about collapse and how I need to live differently, I have not changed my behavior to the extent that I want and need to. Step 8 is about willingness and paying attention.

Step 9. Made direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

So now that I’m willing to make amends, I must do so. Certainly I must make amends to the people in my life that I’ve harmed, but just as important are those members of the more than human world that I’ve overlooked, minimized, disregarded, or just simply didn’t notice. Just as a 9th Step may require me to sit down with another human whom I’ve harmed and make amends, it may also require me to spend a day in the forest, or somewhere else in nature, expressing my regrets to trees, insects, streams, birds, or other non-humans for my obliviousness to them and the countless services they perform in the ecosytem from which I benefit.

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

So Steps 6-9 are not one-shot deals. I am asked to practice them repeatedly. Inventory-taking is forever because what I have or don’t have constantly changes, and it’s important that I use both the “glass half empty” and “glass half full” approaches to my evolution. Just as I cannot successfully navigate collapse by myself, neither can I practice the Steps in isolation. I need the entire earth community in order to utilize them effectively.

Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with something greater

Some readers may recoil at the words “prayer” and “meditation”, but I remind all of us of one of the key slogans of 12 Step programs which is: “Take what you like and leave the rest.” If you find yourself reacting to “prayer” and “meditation”, don’t worry about it. The point of this Step is to improve conscious contact with something greater, and how we choose to do that is far less important than that we do it. Armageddon will not be easy to navigate, but it will be impossible without a conscious, working connection with a power greater than oneself.

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Virtually every person preparing for collapse has had at least one, if not countless experiences, of attempting to share research, options, and the realities of collapse with others, only to find oneself blown off by the other person. Not unlike the individual addict who must be ready for recovery before fully applying the Steps, the people with whom we share information about TEOTWAWKI will either be ready to learn more or they will resist and maintain their head-in-the-sand posture. So we must be discreet and respectful, remembering that walking our talk (practicing these principles in all our affairs) is the most important message we can carry.

Waking up is an extraordinarily mixed blessing. With it comes tremendous clarity and joy, as well as sometimes excruciating sorrow as one witnesses more clearly civilization’s trajectory of self-and-other destruction. Just as addicts in recovery frequently experience the tragic deaths of other addicts in their lives who will not engage in the recovery process, individuals preparing for collapse invariably encounter numerous loved ones about whom they care deeply who prefer to remain asleep. I feel sorrow daily for those I know who will probably never open their eyes. But I have opened mine, and I imagine that most people reading these words have as well. I carry that and these incredibly practical Steps with me, alongside a plethora of emotions and wonderfully awake allies, as each day we journey more deeply into Armageddon.

While I do not feel optimistic about survival in the abyss into which we appear to be descending, I believe that the principles inherent in the Steps can facilitate our planting seeds that may ultimately germinate and flourish as a new paradigm lived out by some of us and our descendents who are committed to creating lifeboats of localized, sustainable living that serve the entire earth community.

Carolyn is an adjunct professor of history, a former psychotherapist, an author, and a student of mythology and ritual. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Speaking Truth to Power (,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/)

Truth: Can You Handle It? Better Yet: Do You Know It When You See It?

By Monica Hesse Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, April 27, 2008; M01

How many legs does a dog have, if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

-- Abraham Lincoln *

* * *

[*Note: Lincoln never said this. He liked a similar, more long-winded anecdote about a cow, but the dog version? Nope. Still, the quote is credited to Abe on some 11,000 different Web pages, including quote resources Brainy Quote and World of Quotes.

[Though not technically "true," the quote makes a nice start to this article about truth, being topical and brief, so if we want to go with truth-by-consensus (very popular now), we can go ahead and just say that he said it.

[Besides, by the time you finish this article, your brain might have tricked you into thinking that he did say it (more on that later), so let's just go ahead and leave it in. Okay?]

Moving on.

Inhabitants of the Wiki-world, consider these random but related events, most of which pertain to the under-25 set, all of which occurred in the past six months:

The launching of, a wiki-weather site in which users can collaboratively decide whether it is raining outside.

The release of "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society," Farhad Manjoo's exploration of the "cultural ascendancy of belief over fact."

The addition of "collateral misinformation" to The entry: "When someone alters a Wikipedia article to win a specific argument, anyone who reads the false article before the 'error' is corrected suffers from collateral misinformation."

And a scholar at the Hoover Institution performed an experiment with totally unsurprising results: When 100 terms from U.S. history books were entered into Google, the topics' Wikipedia articles were the first hits 87 times.

All of these examples are signs of the times.

And all of them get at a big question: For the Google generation, what happens to the concepts of truth and knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation?

Librarians for Truth

"We're losing him! We're going to lose him!" Chad Stark frantically clicks back and forth between two windows on his computer screen.

Stark is the sweater vest-wearing, 30-something Hyattsville librarian currently manning AskUsNow, a 24/7 online chat open to Maryland residents who need research help.

A few minutes ago, his computer, located in the grubby employee workroom, had gone ping. A question, from an anonymous user:

"how big do iguanas get?"

AskUsNow, developed four years ago, helps patrons find accurate online information so they don't have to fumble blindly in Google. Librarians: reliably on the front lines of truth protection.

Stark types that he'd be happy to help, but he's not fast enough for the user:

"dude u r boring me."

Stark scrolls quickly through several sites, searching for reputable iguana info.

"u respond slow. please consider taking a typing class."

More pi ngs . Questions that will be answered by other librarians logged on to the system flash up on the screen:

What did people learn from the physical effects of atomic bombings?

How do activities of insurance companies facilitate production?

Suddenly, iguana guy feels remorseful for his earlier taunts.

"i'm sorry. i'm drunk."

Stark sends a link, but it's too late. Iguana guy seems to have left his computer.

Stark sighs. "What they want is for you to give them the very first answer that pops up. And we can do that, but if it's wrong . . . "

Information vs. Knowledge

If it's wrong is the big If, the question that plagues librarians and teachers today. Of course, the information might be right-- in one study, published in Nature, that reviewed scientific entries side-by-side, Wikipedia was found to be only slightly less reliable than Encyclopedia Britannica (four errors to Britannica's every three). There's at least a decent chance that the wisdom of the crowds is fine wisdom indeed.

What concerns people like Stark is the fact that, without peer review, it's so easy to be wrong, and for your wrongness to become the top Google hit on a subject, and for your wrongness to be repeated by other people who think it's right, until everyone decides that it's raining in Phoenix.

Andrew Keen describes it as "the cult of the amateur" in his same-named book. Stephen Colbert called it "wikiality" -- meaning, "a reality where, if enough people agree with a notion, it must be true."

Information specialists call it the death of information literacy.

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a Tufts University historian and author of "Truth: A History and a Guide for the Perplexed," has recently noticed something very odd: "Information has replaced knowledge," he says, "and the truth of that information no longer seems to matter as much."

Information is about tidbits, crumbs of data. Information can be carried around on a Trivial Pursuit card. Information says, "It's currently 95 degrees in Anchorage."

Knowledge is different. Knowledge is about context -- about knowing what to do with accumulated information. Knowledge is saying, "Dude, based on what I know of Alaska, it's never95 degrees in Anchorage."

Joining librarians as trench warriors for truth are some teachers, from grade school through college.

Mike Grill, who teaches Advanced Placement government at Wakefield High School in Arlington, describes the progression when he makes his students do a research paper.

"At the beginning of the year their sources will be some crank blog," Grill says. "Or they'll cite 'The Daily Show' as a source -- 'Jon Stewart said so.' " Grill says his students quote opinions as facts, and rarely consider whether the source is a person of authority.

For the six-week research project, he puts them through detox: limiting their online sources to a maximum of three, making them use library reference desks, dealing with their assertions that anything found in a book couldn't be very useful -- wouldn't the information be, like, way outdated?

He accepts Wikipedia as a starting place, but encourages his students to think and not memorize. Grill says he "cannot in good conscience" let his students graduate without knowing how to conduct good research. "When they go off to college, that's when they really get their hands caught in the cookie jar."

At least, that's what he'd assumed, but he has had some troubling visits from former students. "They say, 'Oh, Mr. Grill, I've never been in a library in college.' "

'Growing Impatience'

Anna Johnson is a George Washington University freshman from Iowa, who can sympathize with Grill's students: "I got through my first semester without ever checking out a book," she says sheepishly.

But during her second semester, she had the mandatory freshman seminar, which partners each section with a librarian to combat the decline of information literacy and is all the rage in liberal arts programs these days. At first, "I got really overwhelmed" by all the information, says Johnson. "The idea of having original thought completely terrified me." Once she realized how much information was out there, the idea of synthesizing it seemed impossible.

Ultimately, she finished a paper about homelessness and women that was strong enough to be selected for a writing symposium held recently on campus. Her work could have been even better: "Had I devoted a couple more weeks to research . . . " She trails off helplessly. "But I need to sleep three or four hours a night."

More on the search for truth, from two other students who had their papers selected for the symposium:

"Some professors require at least one source in a book," Dhruv Choudhry says with a shrug. "If you want me to find a book, I'll find a book to get an A. But it's just a formality." He points out that many academic journals are available online, anyway.

If he's doing Web research that's not for school, and he finds multiple answers to the same question, "I'll just pick the hit that seems right." Usually that means a Web site that ends in .gov or .org, something with a little clout behind it. "But sometimes I might even just choose the one that favors my argument."

His classmate Hillary Swaim uses books, but says she's an exception to a lot of her friends. And unless she's being graded on her research, she estimates she'll spend about five minutes trying to track down an answer before giving up.

Corbin Lyday, the professor who moderated Choudhry and Swaim's discussion, looks horrified. "That's the most profound change" he's noticed in students since he taught his first class some 30 years ago. "The way they manage information. There's a growing impatience and a real passivity."

But Johnson, Choudhry and Swaim do not seem lazy, nor do they seem in the least ignorant. They seem like busy teens who are treading water the best they can in a sea of information that gets increasingly deeper. "We can get information so fast, and pretty reliably . . . " says Choudhry.

At least they are weaning themselves from having that information spoon-fed.

Back in Hyattsville, Stark accepts another question, from a user who wants to know the distance between New Jersey and Venezuela for a science project on migration. Stark asks which cities in New Jersey and Venezuela, explaining that this variable could drastically change the answer. The user seems annoyed -- it's just science homework, dude. No need for such crazy accuracy. Stark finds the distance using two random cities, then answers three more questions from the same patron, including "In what continent is Venezuela?"

Stark stares at the screen for a second before typing in "South America." He doesn't bother to cross-reference this information.

"This kid doesn't know where Venezuela is, but he managed to log on and use this service," Stark says quietly. "That is pretty amazing."

True or False?

People have always struggled with perceptions of truth, which ultimately come down to this general rule: We believe what we want to believe.

Two researchers who studied this in the 1960s learned that, when listening to debates on the risks of smoking, nonsmokers tuned in to the parts of the speeches that linked cigarettes to cancer. Smokers, on the other hand, paid closer attention to the parts that denied a health risk.

Rather than use the speeches as an opportunity to better educate themselves, subjects used them as an opportunity to reinforce their own beliefs.

So what's the big deal about now? How does the addition of or collateral misinformation really change things?

The answer, of course, is volume: millions of YouTube speeches, millions of Web pages -- including the 4,440 hits that still come up today when you type "Smoking does NOT cause cancer" into Google.

"We're reading in niches," says Manjoo, the author of "True Enough," who discusses the smoking study in his book. "Since people have more choice, they can choose to read the things that reflect what they already believe."

Making it even messier is the way our brains separate good information from bad. In 2003 a group of psychologists had a group of senior citizens read several statements. Some of the statements were labeled as true and some -- "Shark cartilage helps arthritis" -- were labeled as false.

But later, when asked to recall which information was false, the seniors couldn't do it. They remembered all of the information as true, knowing that they'd heard something about shark cartilage somewhere.

In fact, the more times that they were told the information was false, the more they believed it was true.

When younger subjects were tested, they eventually misremembered at the same rate as the seniors.

"People are very insensitive to where they hear things," says Norbert Schwarz, a University of Michigan psychologist who worked on the study. If one quack repeats the same piece of information to you five times, it's nearly as effective as hearing the sound bite from five different reputable sources.

Same goes for reading e-mails -- if you get three spam e-mails relating Abraham Lincoln's folksy wisdom about truth and dogs, you'll eventually believe it as strongly as if you heard it from the reference desk at the Lincoln Library.

"The basic psychological process is the same" as it's always been, Schwarz says. "But in the olden days you might have seen something once in your newspaper . . . now the likelihood that you'll see it again and again and again" -- on blogs, in your inbox, on YouTube -- has exploded.

Abraham Lincoln talked about cows, not dogs. But good luck remembering that.

* * *

There is a lot of information out there. It overwhelms us. It grows at a choking rate.

You wonder: Who is right?

The student who lives online? Or the lame teacher who thinks that books are a necessary component to a well-rounded understanding of how information works?

As students must absorb increasingly more information throughout their education, perhaps expecting them to assess whether it's true is simply too much. Four errors to Britannica's three ain't bad -- and probably good enough for the research the average person does on a daily basis.

Grill, the AP government teacher, listens to this argument thoughtfully before offering one of his own: "The lessons that come through understanding a process should never become a thing of the past," he says. The question of truth in a user-generated world isn't about the accuracy of information so much as it is about an appreciation for the intricacies of the search, for understanding that truth can be elusive, but the fight for it can be rewarding.

Sometimes it's a losing battle.

"My wife is in sales, and she's always saying, 'Why do the kids need to know this?' " Grill says. "She's the one who makes all the money, so I can't really argue."

Look Mummy....The Govt is STILL sending your kids to DIE

Baby mine, don't you cry Baby mine, dry your eyes Rest your head close to my heart Never to part, baby of mine Little one when you play Don't you mind what you say Let those eyes sparkle and shine Never a tear, baby of mine If they knew sweet little you They'd end up loving you too All those same people who scold you What they'd give just for The right to hold you From your head to your toes You're not much, goodness knows But you're so precious to me Cute as can be, baby of mine
Bette Midler-Baby Mine, mp3 Rosemary Clooney-Baby Mine, mp3 ...the original (Mother's Day) Proclamation was an impassioned call for peace and disarmament. In the years following the Civil War her political activism increased, as did her condemnation of war. Here are the words to the original Mother's Day Proclamation: "Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears! "Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says "Disarm! Disarm!" The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.' "As men have forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred impress not of Caesar, but of God. "In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Magic trick costs teacher job

[Thanks to Spunk Monkey for this post] by Janie Porter Land O' Lakes, Florida -- The stories in the news about inappropriate relationships between teachers and students have been overwhelming. There was even a substitute teacher in New Port Richey who got in trouble after investigators say she had a relationship with an underage student.

Well, another Pasco County substitute teacher's job is on the line, but this time it's because of a magic trick.

The charge from the school district — Wizardry!

Substitute teacher Jim Piculas does a 30-second magic trick where a toothpick disappears then reappears.

But after performing it in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes, Piculas said his job did a disappearing act of its own.

"I get a call the middle of the day from the supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away,'" he said.

When Piculas went in, he learned his little magic trick cast a spell that went much farther than he'd hoped.

"I said, 'Well Pat, can you explain this to me?' 'You've been accused of wizardry,' [he said]. Wizardry?" he asked.

Tampa Bay's 10 talked to the assistant superintendent with the Pasco County School District who said it wasn't just the wizardry and that Piculas had other performance issues, including "not following lesson plans" and allowing students to play on unapproved computers.

Piculas said he knew nothing about the accusations.

"That... I think was embellished after the fact to try to cover what initially what they were saying to me," he said.

After the magic trick, Rushe's principal requested Piculas be dismissed. Now, Piculas believes the incident may have bewitched his ability to get a job anywhere else.

"I still have no idea what my discipline involves because I've never received anything from the school district actually saying what it entails," said Piculas.

As a substitute teacher, the Pasco County School District considers Piculas to be an "at will employee." That means the district doesn't need to have cause for not bringing him back at all.

Zapatista-Influenced Science Fiction

I was out of town and missed the first 10 days of this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, but luckily I made it back to the Bay Area in time to see the premiere of Sleep Dealer.

I was alerted to the film via a rave New York Times review in which A.O. Scott described director Alex Rivera “showing some of the manic inventiveness of Richard Kelly’s ‘Southland Tales,’ but with a hundred times more intellectual clarity and storytelling discipline.” I’d forgotten that line until going back to look at the Times plug, but bits of Kelly’s wildly entertaining film did pop into my mind while watching Sleep Dealer. Both movies are characterized by impressively zippy visuals and caustic social commentary which evokes the bleak dystopian vision of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick.

Unfortunately, as director Rivera noted in a post-screening Q & A session at the film festival, what started out as satire when he began writing the film (co-written with David Riker, writer/director of La Ciudad, an excellent 1998 indie film about Latino immigrants struggling in New York City) in 2000 has moved much closer to documentary realism. Though there are currently no sweatshops in Mexico where workers plug in via surgically implanted “nodes” to manipulate U.S.-based robots, Rivera, who paced wildly around the stage as festival director Graham Leggat stood stock still near his orbit, pointed out that ubiquitous call centers in India and elsewhere show how far corporations have gone in developing cross-border “outsourcing” to avoid paying unionized workers. Bomber drones in Afghanistan and Iraq remotely piloted by stateside U.S. soldiers provided inspiration for the film’s depiction of U.S. military remote-control aerial assaults on peasants branded “aqua terrorists.”

In response to an impressed viewer who said “the Zapatistas would love this film,” Rivera explained that he was profoundly influenced by “Zapatista thought.” Most particularly, Rivera’s film clearly supports the radical indigenous Mexican movement’s vision of “globalization from below” to counter depradations of global capitalism, ending on a militant note of resistance rare in commercial cinema.

At a time when low-budget Hollywood movies routinely cost tens of millions of dollars, the film’s $2 million budget meant that overpriced computer graphics were not an option for the special effects. Cinematographer Liza Renzler, who also shot the visually arresting Menace II Society, collaborated with Rivera on some ingenous creative ways to circumvent lack of money (among them, filming overhead shots of a small Mexican town using a motorized hang glider). Rivera, whose father is from Peru, explained that he used a Latino “pastiche esthetic,” cobbling together a wide variety of available visual materials, from actual U.S. military footage to images from his own experimental short films. In response to a question from Leggat about the influence of San Francisco radical filmmaker Craig Baldwin, Rivera said, “I don’t know if he’s here in person, but he’s here in spirit.” Baldwin’s found film and video collage narratives include the hilarious oddball sci-fi opus Spectres of the Spectrum; his new mash-up/send up Mock Up On Mu which takes on the military, Disney and Scientology, played at the festival earlier in the week (I’ll be seeing it as soon as humanly possible). The two fellow-travellers in dissident sci-fi share a giddy enthusiasm for their material that gives their work a charm lacking in most obscenely expensive Hollywood productions. It’s also much easier to buy a filmmaker’s solidarity with the world’s poor majority if their films do not cost more than some small countries spend yearly on education and health care.

Rivera wouldn’t say what his next film project would be, but told the audience that if anyone had access to financing he’d love to make a prequel or sequel (“or parallel universe”)story to build on Sleep Dealer. I hope that happens, and that he continues to develop his critique of global capitalism run amok.

Ben Terrall is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Counterpunch, Lip Magazine, and other publications. He can be reached at:

Philip K. Dick interview clip


Philip K. Dick interview clip On his book A Scanner Darkly. Also words from cast and crew from the film.

Djibouti to work with UN to eliminate female genital mutilation

Djibouti has become the first country to launch a joint programme by United Nations agencies to move more quickly to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM).

The joint programme, run by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is to begin in a country where nine out of every ten females has undergone the harmful practice.

Djibouti’s First Lady, Kadra Mahamoud Haïd, who officially launched the programme yesterday, said that it was “a route towards social progress, a tool to fulfil basic human rights, especially on integrity and dignity for girls and women.” She also noted that, since FGM is gender-based violence, the Government of Djibouti, “has set up legal and institutional mechanisms to eradicate the violence.”

A World Health Organization (WHO) study in six African countries found that women who have undergone FGM face significantly higher risks of extensive bleeding, prolonged labour and death when giving birth.

UNICEF estimates that around 3 million girls are at risk of FGM every year.

Speaking on behalf of the UN, Margaret Thuo said that “every community desires to live in dignity and with security,” but added that this is not possible when the human rights of one segment of society are denied.

Djibouti’s Minister of Women’s Promotion, Family Welfare and Social Affairs, Nimo Boulhan, said, “whatever the justifications are, we need to address this problem and stop subjecting girls and women to unnecessary suffering.”

The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme and Trust Fund to accelerate the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting aims to build partnerships with Government, donors, foundations, the media and religious leaders.

Noam Chomsky on 1968

Nineteen sixty-eight was one exciting moment in a much larger movement. It spawned a whole range of movements. There wouldn't have been an international global solidarity movement, for instance, without the events of 1968. It was enormous, in terms of human rights, ethnic rights, a concern for the environment, too.

The Pentagon Papers (the 7,000-page, top-secret US government report into the Vietnam War) are proof of this: right after the Tet Offensive, the business world turned against the war, because they thought it was too costly, even though there were proposals within the government - and we know this now - to send in more American troops. Then LBJ announced he wouldn't be sending any more troops to Vietnam.

The Pentagon Papers tell us that, because of the fear of growing unrest in the cities, the government had to end the war - it wasn't sure that it was going to have enough troops to send to Vietnam and enough troops on the domestic front to quell the riots.

One of the most interesting reactions to come out of 1968 was in the first publication of the Trilateral Commission, which believed there was a "crisis of democracy" from too much participation of the masses. In the late 1960s, the masses were supposed to be passive, not entering into the public arena and having their voices heard. When they did, it was called an "excess of democracy" and people feared it put too much pressure on the system. The only group that never expressed its opinions too much was the corporate group, because that was the group whose involvement in politics was acceptable.

The commission called for more moderation in democracy and a return to passivity. It said the "institutions of indoctrination" - schools, churches - were not doing their job, and these had to be harsher.

The more reactionary standard was much harsher in its reaction to the events of 1968, in that it tried to repress democracy, which has succeeded to an extent - but not really, because these social and activist movements have now grown. For example, it was unimaginable in 1968 that there would be an international Solidarity group in 1980.

But democracy is even stronger now than it was in 1968. You have to remember that, during Vietnam, there was no opposition at the beginning of the war. It did develop, but only six years after John F Kennedy attacked South Vietnam and troop casualties were mounting. However, with the Iraq War, opposition was there from the very beginning, before an attack was even initiated. The Iraq War was the first conflict in western history in which an imperialist war was massively protested against before it had even been launched.

There are other differences, too. In 1968, it was way out in the margins of society to even discuss the possibility of withdrawal from Vietnam. Now, every presidential candidate mentions withdrawal from Iraq as a real policy choice.

There is also far greater opposition to oppression now than there was before. For example, the US used routinely to support or initiate military coups in Latin America. But the last time the US supported a military coup was in 2002 in Venezuela, and even then they had to back off very quickly because there was public opposition. They just can't do the kinds of things they used to.

So, I think the impact of 1968 was long-lasting and, overall, positive.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Bolivia's President Morales ready for national vote of confidence

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Thursday he was ready to withstand a national vote of confidence that was pushed through the opposition-run upper house of parliament. "This decision will give back to the Bolivian people the decision to say whether they are in favor of the process of change and justice or for the return to the past," said Morales, who was elected Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2005. The referendum would require Morales, who won the presidency with 53.7 per cent of the vote, and Bolivia's nine state governors to win both more votes and a greater percentage of support than they did in 2005 ballot. If they fall short, they will have to run again in a new general election. President Morales had first proposed a nationwide recall to Congress in January, as a means of solving the political crisis in the country amid disputes with several provinces. On Sunday, a large majority in the province of Santa Cruz - the richest in the country - approved a proposal for more autonomy from the leftist government in a non-binding referendum, which Morales deemed illegal. Congress on Thursday passed the bill ordering the recall be held within 90 days and will ask, "Do you agree with the continuation of the process of change led by President Evo Morales Ayma and Vice President Alvaro Garca Linera?" Morales said he will sign the measure.

Humour as a Weapon

This article looks at the ways in which activists can use and manipulate the media, rather than the other way around.
by Andreas Faust ( This article has been researched and compiled for the purposes of educating New Right and N-A activists in the use of humour as a political weapon. There is a paranoid feeling amongst many on the New Right that the mass media is our greatest enemy. Not so. This article looks at the ways in which activists can use and manipulate the media, rather than the other way around. As an example: mention the 1932 opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to any older Australian, and the first image that will spring to their mind is a man on horseback, galloping forward to slash the ribbon with his sword, before the 'official' representative could get to it. The swordsman was a member of a political group called the New Guard. And while this stunt was not especially humorous, it was certainly eye-catching – it remains in the mass mind to this day. In that same city in 2007, the crew of television show The Chaser made world headlines when they infiltrated the APEC forum (one of them dressed as Osama bin Laden), making a complete mockery of the forum's expensive security measures. In general, the media doesn't give coverage to alternative politics (the recent 9/11 Truth Forum in Sydney was completely ignored, even though one of the speakers was a prominent Japanese MP). But 'fringe' views can get past the editors if they are presented by means of some humorous prank or stunt. Humour equals's as simple as that. People like to laugh, and the editors know it. For the mass media, the dollar is the bottom line...and the skilled prankster can actually make this work in his or her favour. A prankster called Mark Pauline claimed that “the media can never deny coverage to a good spectacle. No matter how ridiculous, absurd, insane or illogical something is, if it achieves a certain identity as a spectacle, the media has to deal with it.” In other words, instead of letting the mainstream media pigeonhole and stereotype them, activists using humour and spectacle can turn this around and actually use the media. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the environmental group EarthFirst!: “The media need stories – they want to run them, especially the television media. What they don't want is some meeting or run-of-the-mill visual situation they've seen a million times before. You give them something different and they actually get excited about working on the story.” Perhaps (shock horror!) it might even lead to greater accuracy in their reporting. Humour also wins favour with the common man in the street. Stridency and self-righteousness turn people off – but humour can get them on side. It's considered 'cute', and could even help you attract the opposite sex. As punk singer Jello Biafra said, “historically the 'Merry Prankster' has had a lot more to look forward to than the humourless politico who sits around moaning about 'the struggle'.” And trickster characters have a rich history in mythology and literature. Targets for political pranks are rife – for instance, the legions of pseudo-left academics who condemn 'privilege' and praise 'globalism' whilst making over $100,000 a year. The obnoxious billboards of Benettons are just begging to be creatively altered, as are posters for phoney humanitarians such as the rock group U2. I remember seeing footage of U2 on the news a few years ago when they were touring Australia. Bono, the singer, was here to lecture people about giving more money to Africa. Then the cameras showed the band members leaving the airport – in four separate limousines! One limo just wasn't enough. For the cost of a stretch limo you could probably feed an African village for twenty years. The band are currently engaged in trying to build a skyscraper in Dublin – an act of cultural vandalism if there ever was one. U2 have already been the target of an amusing prank in the past. A band called Negativeland put out a CD entitled 'U2', with the name prominently featured on the cover so people would think it was a U2 album. When people took it home and put it on, they found it was a recording of someone insulting and attacking U2! The bloated multi-millionaires failed to see the funny side and (predictably) sued Negativeland. A punk band called CRASS (posing as Creative Recording and Sound Services) managed to get some tacky music (with subversive lyrics) inserted as a flexidisc into a bestselling teenage bride magazine. CRASS also leaked a faked conversation between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan discussing the possibilities of launching a nuclear war. The conversation was spliced together from radio and TV statements, but was taken seriously by the media and caused an uproar. When the US Forestry Service (responsible for a lot of old growth logging) put on a 'Smokey the Bear' birthday party for 300 children, an EarthFirst! activist hired a Smokey the Bear costume and walked through the crowd handing out anti-logging flyers. The kids were treated to the bizarre spectacle of the rangers trying to arrest Smokey at his own birthday! This made front page headlines the next day. A media prankster called Joey Skaggs tricked a room full of journalists and news readers (including some famous ones) into getting down on their hands and knees and roaring like lions. He simply issued fake press releases, pretending to be a trendy new therapist called 'Baba Wa Simba' (the Lion King), and the journalists fell for it hook, line and sinker. The journalists were induced to take part in 'roaring sessions', which many reported on positively afterwards. People can be fooled into believing almost anything if it's seen to emanate from some 'official' quarter. There are no end to the ways in which consensus reality can be manipulated. Websites are also fair game. A musician from a band called Feederz once set up a site parodying CNN. To add authenticity, when someone clicked on the masthead they would be taken back to the real CNN site. As a result, some of his fake stories actually found their way into mainstream papers. It was seriously reported that Saddam Hussein was training suicide camels, and that he had plans to blow up Pearl Harbour! A group called the Yes Men set up a fake website for Dow Chemical. On the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster (where thousands were killed by chemical contamination in Bhopal, India) they were contacted by the BBC (who thought they were genuine representatives of Dow), and proceeded to give a statement saying that Dow claimed responsibility for the disaster and were now going to do something about it. Because of this the real Dow was embarrassed into cleaning up the mess. A group called the Cacophony Society once held a fake welcoming party for a new Starbucks, which seemed to praise Starbucks while actually ridiculing everything they stood for. A member of the group spoke of the successful nature of this strategy “where you pretend to side with the thing you really hate. It makes it hard for the subject of the protest to get rid of you.” Similarly, the aforementioned Yes Men have done speaking tours claiming to represent the World Trade Organisation. Taking WTO logic to its ultimate conclusion, they delivered lectures with messages like 'sweatshops are great'. The same tactic could easily be employed by nationalists or National-Anarchists. For instance, a nationalist posing as a pro-multiculturalist could get invited onto a public forum, and then give a speech saying that “multiculturalism is great, because it causes social alienation and helps advance our ideal of a rootless global population, more easily herded into line...” Obnoxious advertising billboards are excellent targets for humorous or creative political statements. A group called the Billboard Liberation Front, established in 1977, have published a handy guide for billboard alteration at: When doing a prank like this in an area with surveillance cameras, it might be an idea for the prankster to wear some kind of ridiculous disguise. Pranks can also be played on establishment politicians. Once when Richard Nixon was giving a speech from a stationary train, someone put on a conductor's cap and waved the train out of the station with Nixon still in mid-speech. A Texas politician called Tim Moore highlighted the way in which representatives often pass bills without even understanding the content, by convincing his fellow pollies to pass a motion commending one Albert de Salvo (actually the Boston Strangler). Pranksters can even run for office. Local elections are easy to run in, and candidates with a humorous platform often attract a protest vote from those who are sick of the lies of the mainstream candidates. When Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco, one of his policies required all corporate businessmen to wear clown suits between the hours of nine and five. He finished fourth out of ten candidates – quite a respectable result. The contemporary art world is also ripe for satire. Australia has a well-known history of literary pranks, including the Ern Malley hoax, where two writers created a fictitious modernist 'poet' to expose what they saw (rightly or wrongly) as the shallow nature of literary modernism. Another one was the Wanda Koolmatrie hoax, where a writer called Leon Carmen posed as an aboriginal woman in order to get his book published, thereby illustrating the biases inherent in the publishing industry. In Austria, a group of artists who wanted to expose the pretensions of the art world created a non-existent writer called Georg Paul Thomann, and it actually worked. Newspaper articles were written about him because he was perceived to be a 'somebody'...even though he was fictional and his work was non-existent! This fake 'artist' was even chosen to represent Austria at a world art fair. An artist called Jeffrey Vallance couldn't get a major gallery to show his work, so he bought a number of power point wall sockets from the hardware shop, and covered them with his art. Then he went around the art gallery in a tradesman's outfit and replaced all the wall sockets with his own ones. Next he printed up programs, and invited his friends to view his work on the art gallery wall sockets. He sent a program to the art gallery itself – and they were so shocked they didn't do anything about it. The employees hushed it up, in case they got in trouble! The wall sockets weren't removed, and it was only two years later that they were finally painted over. Schwaller de Lubicz defined magic as “the science of the right gesture, the right word, at the right moment.” That is what a successful prank is – an act of magic. I hope this short article has provided suggestive ideas for anti-global activists of all stripes, whether National-Anarchist or otherwise. Hail to the clowns. Andreas Faust is a Tasmanian writer affiliated with the New Right. He can be contacted at:

Indymedia Journalists Targeted in Ecuador, Five Arrested

Ecuadorian police detained five journalists associated with Ecuador Indymedia late Tuesday night, May 6th. Four of the five were released from custody on Wednesday afternoon. The government says that the four activists were detained because of their relationship with the fifth detainee, Ecuadorian resident and Colombian national Antonio Alcívar. The government at first refused to issue a statement on the matter or inform the detainees of the reason for their arrests. The Regional Foundation for Assistance in Human Rights (INREDH) noted that this was a violation of the detainees' constitutional right to be clearly informed of the reason for their detention along with the identities of those who ordered and carried out the arrests. CMI Ecuador: Comunicadores de Indymedia Ecuador víctimas de arresto arbitrario || URGENTE: SOLIDARIDAD CON COMUNICADORES INDEPE || Comunicado detención comunicadores de Indymedia Ecuador víctimas de arresto arbitrario || Periodistas populares fueron liberados (más información) || CMI Brasil: Comunicadores independentes são vítimas de prisão arbitrária || Upside Down World

According to INREDH, it is believed that Alcívar is being pursued by the Colombian Administrative Security Department (DAS) for arms trafficking charges and is accused of having ties to the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. Ecuadorian prosecutors are charging Alcívar with using a false identity. The detainee apparently used four aliases. Ecuador Indymedia accused the government of targeting journalists for their leftist organizing and media work. They also emphasized that Indymedia—an international independent media platform open to a wide variety of contributors—cannot be held responsible for the activities of all of their collaborators. Ecuador Indymedia contributors have been critical of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's support for large-scale mining and a proposed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. According to INREDH, it appears "that the [operation] was undertaken with the intention of intimidating alternative press that approaches information in a critical manner and is committed to social struggles. This action constitutes a violation of the freedom of expression." The arrests follow the March 1 Colombian military attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador. The event sparked a regional crisis and diplomatic ties between Quito and Bogotá are still broken. To justify the attack, Colombia has made a number of allegations—both publicly and through leaking documents via anonymous sources—of FARC ties in Ecuador. The ELN is Colombia's second largest guerilla group and has in the past years suffered major attacks by the government, rightist paramilitaries and the FARC. While the two guerrilla groups have in the past at times collaborated, they have recently clashed over ELN territory near the Venezuelan border. According to Ecuador Indymedia and INREDH, the Judicial Police (PJ) and the Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR) executed the arrests. The journalists were arrested on the street and then taken to their homes where searches were violently carried out. Agents reportedly confiscated computers, documents and hard drives from the journalists' homes. Agents also reportedly confiscated a Che Guevara poster as "evidence." Ecuador Indymedia organized an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday in front of the Quito Police station where the journalists were being held. And at 3 p.m., 50 activists marched from the Polytechnic University of Ecuador to the police station to demand fair and legal treatment of the detainees and that all charges be made public. According to INREDH, the detainees were not permitted to see their lawyer and were forced to undergo interrogation in the presence of a lawyer provided by police. Activists and INREDH are making complaints to the Ecuadorian Police Internal Affairs along with regional and international human rights organizations. It is unclear why the Ecuadorian government made the arrests and whether the detentions are related to the recent conflict with Colombia. It seems possible that President Correa, in an effort to counter Colombian allegations, may be attempting to demonstrate the government's resolve to root out guerrilla presence in Ecuador—and intimidate some critics on his left in the process.

Article by: Daniel Denvir, email: Daniel Denvir is an independent journalist and a collaborator at the Latin American Information Agency ( in Quito, Ecuador. He is a 2008 recipient of NACLA's Samuel Chavkin Investigative Journalism Grant and an editor at the forthcoming journal Caterwaul Quarterly (

Christopher DeLaurenti (1967-2071) Four Protest Symphonies
  1. N30: Live at the WTO Protest, November 30, 1999 On the morning of November 30 1999, armed with a portable DAT (digital audio tape) deck and two microphones, I ventured into the streets of Seattle to record the heady and harrowing protest against the World Trade Organization. Spattered by pepper spray, enshrouded in tear gas and pelted with rubber bullets, I was engulfed in maelstrom of drums, slogans, chants, screaming and violence. Immersing the listener in the polyphony of the protest, N30 is an aggressively edited orthophonic "you are there" recording. Propelled by the audible drama of the unfolding protest, N30 has no narration, objective reportage or interviews. Recorded on the front lines, the vibrant and violent pageant of sound speaks and sings for itself. -from and "Field Recording in the Line of Fire at the WTO" at
  2. N30: Who guards the Guardians? N30: Who guards the Guardians? fuses official and unofficial recordings of police transmissions made on November 30, 1999 into a simmering polyglot of radio traffic, polyphonic speech, splashes and sprays of tape hiss, enigmatic numbers glossolalia, and other broadcast anomalies. An oral history made in the moment, this 57 minute radiophonic work depicts how law enforcement acted and reacted on that unforgettable day in Seattle history when thousands gathered in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization. Both activists and law enforcement strategists refer to November 30, 1999, as "N30" while "Who guards the Guardians?" was inspired by lines from Plato and Juvenal. In that classic of Greek philosophy, The Republic, Plato called for elite guardians to rule his ideal state: "We mean our guardians to be true saviors not the destroyers of the State...." (Book IV, 1896 Jowett translation). Addressing the decadence, erosion of individual rights, and decline of morality in the early Roman Empire, the satirist Juvenal asked pointedly in his Sixth Satire "Who guards the guardians?" -from
  3. Two Secret Wars An audio dossier, Two Secret Wars presents audio recorded at an Anti-War Rally in Seattle on December 8, 2002 and a [now de-]classified recording of an American air attack on a suspected "enemy" camp in what is probably Afghanistan. But does the time and place matter? These wars (secret government military action, and political activism) have been fought continually for decades now... -from Two Secret Wars limited cd-r 7 of 25
  4. Live in New York at the Republican National Convention Protest, September 2 - August 28, 2004 Inspired by Glenn Gould's Solitude Trilogy, Live in New York... welds combative field recordings of the various protests and art actions with police transmissions, NOAA weather alerts, radio broadcast anomalies (splashes and sprays of tape hiss, enigmatic numbers glossolalia, crude phase encoding), and wild card audio snatched from the airwaves into a vivid soundscape of dissent. -from

Thursday, May 08, 2008

COLOMBIA: "Mark Him on the Ballot - The One Wearing Glasses"

By Constanza Vieira Credit:Procuraduría General BOGOTA "With Uribe, we thought: this is the guy who is going to change the country," the 41-year-old fisherwoman told IPS. That is why her fishing and farming village of 800 people in the central Colombian region of Magdalena Medio decided overwhelmingly to vote for current President Álvaro Uribe in the 2002 presidential elections, when he first ran. The woman agreed to talk to IPS on the condition that she be asked neither her name (we will call her "L.") nor the name of her village. The main city in the fertile region of Magdalena Medio is Barrancabermeja, an oil port on the Magdalena River, which runs across Colombia from south to north before emptying into the Caribbean Sea. What convinced the villagers to vote for Uribe? "Because the region where we live is poor, very poor, it’s so difficult to find work, and when I heard him say ‘I am going to work for the poor, I am going to help them,’ I thought ‘this is a good president’." When the rightwing president’s first four-year term came to an end in 2006, most of the villagers decided again to vote for him, reasoning that he just needed more time to reduce poverty. The odd thing was that in both the 2002 and 2006 elections, despite the fact that the villagers had already decided to vote for Uribe, the far-right paramilitaries, who had committed a number of murders since 1998, when they appeared in the region that was previously dominated by the leftwing guerrillas, pressured the local residents to vote for Uribe anyway. The paramilitaries did not kill people to pressure the rest to vote for Uribe, as they did in other communities, but merely used "threats," said L. "If you don't vote for Uribe, you know what the consequences will be," the villagers were told ominously. And on election day, they breathed down voters’ necks: "This is the candidate you’re going to vote for. You’re going to put your mark by this one. The one wearing glasses," they would say, pointing to Uribe’s photo on the ballot, L. recalled. "One (of the paramilitaries) was on the precinct board, another one was standing next to the table, and another was a little way off, all of them watching to see if you voted for Uribe," she added, referring to the less than subtle way that the death squads commanded by drug traffickers and allies of the army ensured that L.’s village voted en masse for the current president in both elections. "We form part of a municipality where there is corruption, from the mayor to town councillors, the police, the army and the justice officials -- in a word, everyone. They are just one single corrupt mass. So what are you supposed to do?" said L., who added that the paramilitaries "control everything." In 2002, the paramilitaries joined the election campaign in L.’s village, promising to close off a pipe that during the rainy season floods a field where people put their cows out to graze in the summertime and "where the farmers plant the food we depend on: rice, cassava and maize," she said. "But what we didn't know at first was that they (the paramilitaries) were with the president who we hoped would improve our poverty," she added. At the same time, L. had few good things to say about the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (DLN), the guerrilla groups that dominated the Magdalena Medio region for years after they first emerged in 1964. "Instead of creating jobs for us, what they did was to make us lose the ones we already had," she said. In addition, many people left the area because the insurgent groups were winning over and recruiting their teenage sons and daughters. Although in the first few decades, the guerrillas "stayed out of sight…when they became active, it immediately became clear to us that everything was going downhill." Then the paramilitaries arrived. At first, said L., they killed only a few people, those who they considered to be involved with the guerrillas. But then they began to pressure local peasant farmers to sell their land. That pushed many members of the community into ruin, because the 40,000 dollars that they were given, on average, by the paramilitaries for their farms did not last long. Today the area is one of large plantations of African palm trees, heavily guarded by paramilitaries, despite the partial mobilisation of the far-right groups as a result of talks with the Uribe administration. When going from one place to another, said L., locals must often take the long way round, because "that area is off-limits to the local peasant farmers." Some demobilised paramilitaries have taken to highway robbery, while others form part of "newly rearmed" groups, like the "Black Eagles", which first appeared in the Magdalena Medio region, as reported by IPS in April 2006. Uribe won the 2002 election with 53 percent of the vote. If he had taken 300,000 fewer votes, a runoff would have been necessary, in which an alliance of his adversaries (the social democratic Liberal Party and the left) would have stood a chance. But in 2006, he won a landslide victory, garnering over 62 percent of the vote. Just how many legislators, governors, regional lawmakers, mayors and town councillors benefited from paramilitary pressure is something that the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office are just now beginning to elucidate. Talk in Colombia these days is about who is the latest politician to be arrested or investigated for ties to the paramilitaries. "‘Parapolitics’ is the seizure of power in Colombia by a convergence of alliances and interests of the regional and national political elites, drug traffickers, and armed force," Claudia López, one of the authors of a report titled "Parapolitics: The Route of Paramilitary Expansion and Political Accords", told a packed auditorium at the Bogotá International Book Fair. She was announcing the release of the third edition of the report, produced by the Bogotá think tank Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris. The death squads have warned that orders have been issued to kill several of the report’s authors. López’s monitoring of local and regional election outcomes in Colombia from 1994 to the present points to suspiciously abrupt shifts in voting patterns in entire regions after the paramilitaries gained control in those areas. These shifts eventually drew the attention of the Supreme Court, which according to the Colombian constitution is responsible for investigating and trying members of Congress, and for bringing to trial high-level officials normally protected by immunity from prosecution, for crimes committed on their watch. The more than 70 legislators and other politicians currently in prison or under investigation in the context of the "parapolitics" scandal won a total of 1.8 million votes in the last elections. In the case of five of the seven parties making up the governing coalition, more than half of their lawmakers are now in prison. Those five parties accounted for one-third of the 9.2 million votes taken by all senators in 2006. In April, former senator Mario Uribe, the president’s cousin and chief political ally, was arrested for his links to the paramilitaries. Questions have also arisen about the legitimacy of the constitutional reform that made it possible for Uribe to be elected to a second consecutive term. In late April, Yidis Medina, a former legislator from Barrancabermeja, turned herself in, hoping to benefit from a legal provision that would reduce the sentence awaiting her, of up to eight years. Medina is accused of accepting favours from the executive branch in 2004 to change her vote in Congress on the constitutional reform on re-election. The former lawmaker said that in exchange for her vote, Uribe, two of his cabinet ministers and his chief of staff told her she could name members of three local commissions in her province. In addition, she handed over evidence that through her, they also paid around 200,000 dollars to another parliamentarian, Teodolindo Avendaño, who, like Medina, had announced that he would vote against the constitutional reform allowing for re-election. But just before the vote, he left the floor of Congress. According to journalist Daniel Coronell, news director at the Noticias Uno TV station, to whom Medina had leaked videotaped information about the bribe, "she was told that the very survival of the state hinged on the question of re-election." Another question is how many votes like the ones described by L. benefited Uribe in communities where he otherwise would not have won strong support. Analysts say that what is collapsing in Colombia today is the legitimacy of the executive branch and the ruling alliance. The governing parties have set forth several proposals, such as the creation of a special "institutional adjustment" commission, named by the very legislators who are under scrutiny for their ties to the paramilitaries. The commission would be an alternative to a proposed referendum in which voters would be able to recall the current members of Congress, and perhaps even the president, or to a referendum on whether or not to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. A committee named by Uribe also suggested the creation of a "supra-constitutional" tribunal to investigate and try the president, the vice president and high court judges -- an idea that was described as an "aberration" by the country’s central trade unions, the Movement of Victims of Crimes of the State and other human rights organisations, and academic institutions in a statement read out in the celebration of International Workers Day on May 1.

Food Summit Declares Regional Emergency

The presidential summit on "Food for Life", held in Nicaragua, has ended with 16 Latin American countries agreeing to produce more food and sell it at low prices through strategic alliances, amid criticisms of free markets and capitalism. The summit on regional food sovereignty and security was convened by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to debate the global crisis caused by food shortages and to seek regional solutions. Presidents Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia and René Préval of Haiti attended the summit meeting on Wednesday. Delegations from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, Belize, Panama, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic and Cuba also took part. Representatives of United Nations agencies, the Organisation of American States (OAS), the European Union, international financial institutions and the business world were present as observers. Ortega, as host, chaired the discussions, and during breaks between speakers he wasted no opportunity to condemn the "empire", meaning the United States, and "neoliberal policies imposed by the international financial institutions." The presidents of Haiti, Bolivia, Ecuador and even Costa Rica joined Ortega in blaming the world’s most developed countries for the global food crisis. According to statistics from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), over the last year the international price of maize increased by 31 percent, rice by 74 percent, vegetable oils 60 percent, dairy products 83 percent, soybeans 87 percent, and wheat 130 percent. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) warned in late April that "the steep and persistent rise in international food prices is hitting particularly hard on the poorest in Latin America and the Caribbean." To illustrate, Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo said that in 2005, his government paid the equivalent of 250 dollars for a ton of imported rice in 2005, while "it now costs us 1,050 dollars -- four times as much." "The food crisis is exacerbated by the high price of oil, which is a result of the war being waged in Iraq, climate change, and neoliberal policies in the United States and Europe," Lazo added. Ecuadorean President Correa said that "the enormous difference about world poverty in the 21st century is that it is not due to shortages, but to unequal distribution" of resources. Like the rest of the participants, Correa stressed the urgent need to step up agricultural production in Latin America and abandon neoliberal food import policies which, he said, the international financial institutions recommended to developing countries in recent years with the backing of the United States. Morales declared his opposition to the use of food crops for making biofuels, and berated the industrialised countries. "Unlimited industrialisation is the drug of planet Earth, and capitalism is synonymous with death," he said. Following the autonomy referendum held Sunday in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, which the government regards as illegal, Zelaya called on the countries present to support Morales, who received an ovation. At Ortega’s request, Préval described the dire situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas. "What is happening in my country is a catastrophe," said Préval. Food shortages led to violent disturbances in April that left at least six people dead and several people injured, while shopkeepers incurred damages as a result of looting. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was not at the meeting due to illness. The surprise of the day came from Costa Rican President Arias, who harshly criticised the United States and European countries. According to Arias, the present state of affairs is the result of "the hypocrisy of the United States and Europe when dealing with the most important issues on the international agenda." The United States has offered only one billion dollars in food aid to the world’s poorest countries, "the same amount they spend in half a week on the war in Iraq," Arias said. The World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Doha Round of talks, aimed at freeing up trade in agriculture and other areas, "is an example of hypocrisy on the part of developed countries, that continue to subsidise farm goods," he said. Another "great monument to hypocrisy" is the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Arias said, "because rich countries, having polluted the planet in order to enrich themselves, are now asking us not to do so." After a session of speeches lasting four hours, Ortega gave the floor over to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, who made the only formal proposal received by the meeting, consisting of seven points. Venezuela offered to set up an agricultural fund of 100 million dollars to finance concrete plans arising from the summit. Maduro also proposed a special plan within Petrocaribe -- an oil cooperation scheme between Venezuela and Caribbean nations -- to finance agricultural production and make fuel available for food production at low prices. In exchange, beneficiary countries would join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a regional integration initiative led by Chávez. Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinoza said she was not in favour of including the Venezuelan initiative in the final summit declaration, as it was only a proposal, and recommended that it be discussed later on. A meeting of technical experts in Mexico in late May was proposed for that purpose. However, the final document did include the Venezuelan agricultural fund proposal. President Arias, who withheld his signature from the final document, said "there are some value judgements, concepts that I don’t agree with." The final statement, signed by all the countries at the summit except El Salvador and Costa Rica, declared a regional food "emergency" and urged the 63rd U.N. General Assembly to address the world food crisis when it meets in September. It also called on Latin American and Caribbean governments to increase investment in agriculture, and suggested that private banks in the region invest up to 10 percent of their assets in agricultural development. The document called for a draft plan of action within 30 days to boost local food production in the region and establish a system of "fair trade within and between the countries that results in fair prices for producers and consumers," and urged the international community to "significantly" boost cooperation to ease the crisis.

“Economic Hit Man” John Perkins Recounts U.S. Efforts to Block Nationalization of Panama Canal

Panamanian President Martin Torrijos was in Washington earlier this week to discuss a pending free trade agreement with the United States, where he drew praise from President Bush on winning national approval for the $5.2 billion expansion plan for the Panama Canal. But three decades ago the moves to nationalize the Panama Canal by President Torrijos’ father, General Omar Torrijos, met with enormous resistance in this country. We speak to self-described “Economic Hit Man” John Perkins, who tried in vain to convince the elder Torrijos to acquiesce to the American corporate plan for the Panamanian economy. Perkins is the bestselling author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and “The Secret History of the American Empire.” The Panamanian President Martin Torrijos was in Washington earlier this week to discuss a pending free trade agreement with the United States. President Bush told reporters Tuesday that securing the agreement with Panama as well as Colombia and South Korea was a “priority of this government and should be a priority of the United States Congress.” He congratulated Torrijos on winning national approval for the $5.2 billion dollar expansion plan for the Panama canal and added “Panama is an important friend and ally of the United States.” But three decades ago the moves to nationalize the Panama Canal by President Torrijos’ father, General Omar Torrijos, met with enormous resistance in this country. Here, Ronald Reagan denounces Torrijos on national television in 1976 as part of his campaign for the Republican nomination. Ronald Reagan, speaking in 1976. In 1977 under the Carter administration General Torrijos succeeded in negotiating the treaties that would eventually give his country full sovereignty over the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999. But General Torrijos did not live to see this transfer of power. He died on August 1, 1981 in a plane crash. I’m now joined by a man who spent a great deal of his time in the late 1970s with General Torrijos. He was trying in vain to convince Torrijos to acquiesce to the American corporate plan for the Panamanian economy. He calls himself a former Economic Hit Man. John Perkins is the bestselling author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and “The Secret History of the American Empire.” “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” is dedicated to General Torrijos as well as the former President of Ecuador Jaime Roldos, both of whom died in plane crashes within three months of each other. Perkins writes: “Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire.” John Perkins, from 1971 to 1981 he worked for the international consulting firm of Chas T. Main where he was a self-described “economic hit man.” He is the author of the “The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption.” Watch Segment

BRAZIL: Controversy Over Indigenous Land and Biofuels

By Mario Osava The legal status of an indigenous territory in the far north of Brazil, and biofuels, are two hot potatoes at the Third National Conference on the Environment being held in the capital city, which is focusing on climate change. The indigenous reserve at Raposa Serra do Sol poses a "dilemma for civilisation," and it would be a "backward step" if the Supreme Court fails to confirm its demarcation, "courageously" decided by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, said Environment Minister Marina Silva at the inauguration of the conference, attended by 3000 people. The 1.7-million hectare indigenous reserve in the state of Roraima is on the borders with Guyana and Venezuela. Part of it is occupied by rice-growing estate owners who are resisting leaving the land, as required by law. What is at stake is whether the reserve, that was declared to be one unbroken whole, which means the non-indigenous farmers must go, is instead broken up and reduced in size so that the rice farmers and a small town can remain where they are. Faced with the possibility of violent conflicts, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) suspended a police operation to evict the rice plantation owners in April. But on Sunday, 10 indigenous people were wounded by gunshots fired by estate workers, which further heated things up. The military commander of the country’s Amazon region, General Augusto Heleno, stirred things up further, saying that the demarcation of indigenous lands on the border is a threat to national sovereignty. His remarks were echoed by other military officers. Environment Minister Silva wants the Supreme Court judges to take a "civilised view" of the conflict, which they must settle soon. Rice can be grown on any fertile land, but the indigenous people’s ancestral land ensures their physical and cultural survival and is an important "point of reference" in their lives, she argued. In addition, demarcating indigenous lands is "the greatest possible contribution to preserving the environment," and poses no risk to sovereignty, she said, adding that on the contrary, indigenous people are "allies" in monitoring the border. Before Silva’s speech on Wednesday night, Temístocles Marcelos, a representative of social and environmental movements, accused the judicial branch of being "backward and élitist" for holding up the effective demarcation of indigenous lands. He specifically mentioned Raposa Serra do Sol, and supported the police action to remove the rice growers. With respect to biofuels, the minister said they represent an opportunity to "mitigate and adapt to" climate change, as well as being a tool for "solidarity with developing countries," which could use them for "clean energy" and, at the same time, reduce poverty. This is the position held by the entire leftwing Lula administration, which particularly defends ethanol from sugarcane as a means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and promoting rural development in poor tropical countries. Silva emphasised that over the last 30 years, Brazilian ethanol has already saved 600 million tonnes of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere. And Brazil has 50 million hectares of arable land lying fallow, which could be used to expand ethanol production, so that "not a single tree need be felled in any part of the country," she said. This area is almost equivalent to the whole of that devoted so far to grain cultivation in Brazil, and is at least 14 times greater than the amount of land used to grow sugarcane for ethanol production. But biofuels are a divisive topic for delegates at the Brasilia conference, who come from all of the country’s 27 states. Many environmentalists fear that the expansion of agrofuels, as they prefer to call them, will result in more deforestation, including in the Amazon, and create domestic food shortages. The conference is in greater danger of being diverted from its purpose by the indigenous land question, which could catapult it into insoluble differences, than by the bioenergy debate, which is directly related to climate change, warned Ulisses Crepaldi, a delegate from Sao Paulo who runs a small-scale environmental management business. Some delegates from Amazonia are against the conference supporting the demarcation of Raposa Serra do Sol as a "continuous" reserve, and instead want the native territory to be cut down in size to preserve the rights of the farmers who have lived in the area for decades. Crepaldi agreed with them. On climate change, Silva said that "Brazil cannot avoid its responsibility," even though under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, it is not obliged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. One way forward would be to diversify clean energy sources, by developing wind and solar energy, for example, she said. Oil and natural gas profits will be used to create a fund to finance programmes to mitigate, adapt to and reduce vulnerability to climate change, according to a draft law that the Environment Ministry will be sending to parliament in the near future, she announced. "Zero illegal deforestation" and targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the productive sector were proposals defended by the head of the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), Fernando Almeida, who represented the private sector at the conference. During preparations for this week’s National Conference on the Environment, 5,132 proposals were presented, which are to be collated and selected during the three days of debate. Nearly 2,000 delegates and guests are participating in that process. The secretary general of the presidency, Luiz Dulci, said that "more than three million Brazilians have participated" in conferences on the environment since the president took office in 2003, helping to formulate public policies to protect the environment.

Poem ~ Swans ~ Poem

Alone, by Edgar Allan Poe From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
If, by Rudyard Kipling If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them:
"Hold on!"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

South-South Cooperation to Fight Child Malnutrition

By Daniela Estrada SANTIAGO Cooperation between Latin American countries, which is cheap, efficient and horizontal, could fast-track the fight against child malnutrition, Nils Kastberg, the regional director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said at a conference held in the Chilean capital. Kastberg called on Latin American and Caribbean countries to commemorate the 200th anniversary of their independence from Spain in 2010 with a specific goal in mind: ensuring that no child is undernourished. In his view, the challenge could be achieved, with political will and a pan-American spirit, by harnessing South-South cooperation. "Instead of talking about heroes, tombs and great national leaders," the region could take up the challenge of ensuring that as of Jan. 1, 2010, no pregnant woman will suffer from anaemia, which can affect the birthweight of her baby, and no child will be left without the support he or she needs to eradicate malnutrition once and for all, he said. Bicentennial celebrations of independence from the Spanish empire began in 2004 in Haiti, but most countries will be marking two centuries of independence between 2008 and 2010. That is why the UNICEF representative is proposing 2010 as the target. Kastberg was one of the speakers on Tuesday, the second and final day of a regional ministerial conference, "Towards the Eradication of Child Malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean," held in Santiago. Organised by the Chilean government and the World Food Programme (WFP), this was the first ministerial level meeting on child malnutrition ever held in the region. Two subregional technical meetings had taken place previously. Malnutrition, causing low weight for age, and particularly chronic malnutrition, which produces stunting (low height for age), have irreversible physical and cognitive consequences in children under three. Seven percent of children under five in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from malnutrition, and 16 percent -- over nine million children -- from chronic malnutrition. Guatemala has the highest prevalence of chronic malnutrition in the region. In addition to depriving children of their full development potential, undernutrition generates higher health and education costs and reduces countries’ productivity, because of lower educational attainments by malnourished children, and fewer people of working age due to higher mortality. Halving the proportion of extremely poor and hungry people by 2015, with 1990 figures as the baseline, is the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) agreed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. One of the indicators to measure achievement of this goal is the prevalence of underweight children under five years of age. But as chronic malnutrition is the real problem, because it has irreversible effects on the intellectual capacity of children as they grow, "politically it has been agreed that this must be the main indicator to measure hunger in the region," Kastberg said. This "interpretation" by Latin America and the Caribbean may be "exported" to other regions of the world, he said. He said indigenous communities and migrants are two of the most vulnerable populations that could benefit from South-South cooperation on child malnutrition. There have already been experiences of cross-border cooperation, where immigrants are covered by the health system, even when their status is irregular, and of training courses for customs personnel, he said. Countries could learn from each other’s experiences of, for example, conditional cash transfer programmes such as Mexico’s Plan Oportunidad (Opportunity Plan) and Brazil’s Bolsa Familia (Family Grant) programme. These initiatives, which have increased in number in recent years, aim directly at poverty, which is the underlying cause of child undernutrition, he said. "South-South cooperation is a goldmine the region has not yet learned to exploit. A continent-wide strategy needs to be developed," said Cristina Lazo, executive director of the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation (AGCI). "There will always be experiences and best practices to share, independently of each country’s level of development," she said. Chile has offered to coordinate a concrete working agenda over the next few years. "To work out a South-South strategy we need receiving countries to specify their needs, and donor countries to say what they can offer," she said. Kastberg proposed developing an inventory of experiences and best practices derived from programmes undertaken to date, and presenting them at a world conference on South-South cooperation that, he announced, would be held next year within the region under the auspices of the United Nations. Germán Valdivia, the regional coordinator of the WFP’s Knowledge Management Initiative, gave out the address of an Internet portal created by the agency, which in his view could be a useful tool for South-South cooperation aimed at ending hunger and malnutrition. The website, Nutrinet (, posts news and descriptions of successful practices and innovative programmes. The portal covers five thematic areas: mother and child nutrition, school feeding programmes, vitamins and minerals, HIV/AIDS and food emergencies. Among the countries describing their work on the site, one of whose goals is to facilitate discussion among experts, are Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Panama and Peru.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mexico: Pemex Oozes Corruption

By Diego Cevallos MEXICO CITY Funds belonging to the Mexican state oil monopoly, Pemex, have paid in recent years for liposuction treatment for the wife of the company’s chief executive, a presidential candidate’s campaign, contracts with firms facing legal action, and the whims of trade union leaders who are not required to account for their expenses. "Pemex is a can of worms. If you do something right, they come after you; if you shut up about some irregularity, they reward you; and if you take part in the corruption, you profit," a Pemex worker told IPS. "I’m not saying everything is like that -- there are also honest people," added the worker, whose name is withheld for his safety. The employee said that after he replaced several worn-out parts of a gas valve, a group of internal auditors criticised his work, saying they had found "too many foreign parts," and ordered him to put the originals back in place. He said that when his boss protested, he was accused of a bias in favour of a private supplier and an investigation against him was launched. The 70-year-old Pemex, the biggest company in Latin America, which employs 154,761 people, 125,523 of whom belong to the powerful oil workers union, is facing severe financial difficulties and is in dire need of upgrading its technology infrastructure. Moreover, Mexico’s proven oil reserves are expected to run out in nine years. Billions of dollars are lost to corruption which, according to observers, is deeply rooted in an opaque administration choked with red tape, and in political and economic vested interests. In April, the conservative government of Felipe Calderón proposed reforms of the company, which would include the creation of an audit committee in charge of ensuring transparency, and would give Pemex greater freedom with respect to making decisions on managing its budget, making purchases, reinvesting earnings in production and exploration and contracting out to private companies. However, the leftwing opposition parties are fighting the reforms, which they consider privatisation in disguise. According to a prominent Mexican nongovernmental organisation, Fundar - Centro de Análisis e Investigación (Centre for Analysis and Research), the government’s proposed reforms would "encourage opacity and corruption." "The proposal paves the way for possibilities for associations with private parties in a wide range of activities in the industry, without the parallel creation of precise mechanisms to guarantee transparency and accountability," while giving the executive branch "excessive discretionality in running Pemex," says Fundar, which is dedicated to promoting citizen participation and the rule of law. Legislators have agreed to hold a wide-ranging debate from May 13 to Jul. 22, on overhauling Pemex, a symbol of nationalism and national sovereignty in Mexico. But how much of a role does corruption play in Pemex’s current crisis? No one can say with any certainty. Documents from the Auditoría Superior de la Federación (Federal Audit Office), which were seen by IPS, show that in 2006 alone -- the last year for which information is available -- 157 million dollars were detected in expenses in exploration and the payment of services that had not been duly approved and explained, and which have not yet been clarified. Lawmakers from the opposition Progressive Broad Front, an alliance of leftwing parties, are calling for the creation of a "truth commission" to carry out an in-depth investigation of causes of corruption and specific cases in Pemex before any reform can be approved. There is a continuing perception of opacity, corruption and inefficiency in PEMEX, a company that is the booty of politicians and contractors alike, said oil analyst David Shields, who is based in Mexico City. It is a secret society that operates far from public scrutiny, and which generates enormous quantities of money that is distributed at the discretion of the political system, he added. Political scientist Aroldo Romero said that in Pemex, any financial movement, contract or purchase, even of small tools, is fraught with red tape, with the final decision almost always lying with the Finance Ministry. "Many bureaucratic steps must be taken, and at any number of them, there are people who have learned to take economic advantage of the situation," Romero told IPS. The draft law submitted by the Calderón administration would incorporate independent experts without conflicts of interest on Pemex’s board, which is currently made up of representatives of the government and the oil workers union. The government argues that the reforms, which oil industry experts say must be discussed urgently due to the country’s rapidly diminishing reserves and the growing imports of fuel -- 40 percent of domestic consumption is covered by imports -- are aimed at giving the company greater autonomy to sign contracts with foreign firms better equipped to carry out deep-water drilling and exploration. But Fundar says the initiative actually runs counter to that stated purpose, because "the executive branch would be in charge of appointing the four new members to the Pemex board of administrators, as well as a commissioner, under the apparent premise that the president is ultimately responsible for adequate oversight." Furthermore, "the board would be presided over by the energy minister, who forms part of the executive branch," adds Fundar. The government is not proposing, however, a modification of the constitution, which establishes that the country’s oil belongs to all Mexicans, and prohibits direct private investment in Pemex. What Calderón is seeking is to modify legislation so that the oil monopoly would be able to establish flexible contracts with private firms, which would receive payments based on their performance, but not with revenues obtained from crude produced in Mexico. The proposal would allow local and foreign private firms to take part in refining, transport, storage and distribution of crude and its by-products through a permit system. But the left is opposed to the proposed reforms, seeing them as an attempt at privatisation, and arguing that they would lead to even greater corruption. In addition, the leftwing opposition sees as a bad sign the fact that Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño, accused of irregularities in the oil industry, remains in the cabinet. Between 2000 and 2004, Mouriño signed seven contracts with Pemex for a total value of four million dollars as the representative of his family’s transport and fuel companies, while he was a member of Congress, chairman of the energy commission in the lower house, and later an adviser to the energy ministry. Investigative reports by journalists and denunciations by politicians also indicate that after he was appointed to the cabinet, Mouriño named people linked to his family’s companies to key posts. The investigation into the case continues, but the minister has not been removed. Luis Rubio, president of the non-governmental Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo (Centre for Research on Development), said Calderón’s proposed reforms have positive aspects like freeing Pemex from "the system of controls by which laws governing public works and public employees guarantee that everything is always paralysed, without curbing corruption." In July 2007, Pemex director Raúl Muñoz was fined 80 million dollars and banned from holding public office for 10 years, for the misuse of funds and the illegal transfer of more than 170 million dollars to the oil workers union. Muñoz also used12,500 dollars in Pemex funds to pay for two liposuction surgeries for his wife. There are abundant books and investigative reports showing that trade union leaders, used occasionally as allies by recent governments, obtain special funds that go towards things like building vacation homes or buying first-class airplane tickets. Adrián Lajous stepped down as Pemex director in 1999 after publicly disagreeing with the government of then president Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) over the tax system under which most of the company’s earnings go to the state. Lajous, who frequently clashed with the oil workers union, was succeeded by Rogelio Montemayor, a former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) senator and governor. Montemayor is facing ongoing legal action, accused of illegally transferring more than 140 million dollars to the Pemex union -- money that ended up in the PRI coffers to help finance the election campaign of the party’s candidate, Francisco Labastida, who was defeated by Vicente Fox (2000-2006). The oil company’s reputation of corruption is so deeply rooted that in late 2007, a group of con artists had no problem selling around 200 people documents that supposedly guaranteed that they would be put on the company’s payroll. One of the victims of the scam, who paid 6,000 dollars for the document, told IPS that "with what you see and hear about Pemex," the sale of spots on the payroll didn't sound too far-fetched. In October 2007, at least 21 workers were killed when the oil platform on which they were working in the Gulf of Mexico collided with an undersea oil well. The workers died when their lifeboats broke up in the storm that was raging as they fled the platform. In the face of questions about the seaworthiness of the boats, suspicions arose that they had been acquired in irregular conditions. In September, Paradigm B.V., a provider of "enterprise software solutions" to the oil and natural gas industry, paid a one million dollar penalty for making "improper payments" to officials in China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Nigeria. In Mexico, the company, which is headquartered in the Netherlands but has its principal place of business in the United States, had bribed a Pemex official to obtain contracts in 2004 and 2005. And in March 2007, an independent investigation revealed that Pemex had contracted, for drilling and maintenance work, the companies Ámbar Mexicana and Global Drilling Fluids de México, whose shareholders had a criminal record of forging documents and had been accused of tax fraud, and one of whom had even been arrested. Despite their dubious background, Pemex granted the two companies contracts worth around 170 million dollars during the Fox administration.

The morning after: Let the beginning begin

From: A blog by Michael Balter, science writer and journalism professor based in Paris and Boston ... Unlike many Obama supporters, I have never seen this particular man from Illinois as a savior, even if there is some irony in the possibility that the first Black president would hail from the same state as Abraham Lincoln. As a life-long leftwinger (well, at least during my adult life, as I was for Barry Goldwater as a naive high school junior obsessed with the Communist menace), I don't have any illusions that Obama is anything more than a good liberal from the more leftish wing of the Democratic Party. And as many of my friends know, I strongly believe that the failure of the Democratic Party to deliver on its promises over the past decades is the main reason that Americans have moved politically to the right, supporting candidates like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush--very much against their own best interests, as they seem to be figuring out at long last. The Clintons, despite Bill's personal charm and charisma, were emblematic of this failure. I am thrilled to see the relegation of Clintonian politics to the dustbin of history, and when I drank those cognacs that was in large part what I was celebrating. This is also why I have refused to vote for Democratic candidates most of the past 40 years since I became eligible to vote. In 1968, as a first time voter, I cast my ballot for Eldridge Cleaver of the Peace and Freedom Party; I did not vote for president again until 2004, when, partly out of solidarity with my desperate liberal friends--but mostly because I felt that the politics of George Bush had to be seen to be repudiated before we could make any progress in this country--I voted for John Kerry. But the lackluster, hesitant, cowardly Kerry, with everything he had going for him including an already very unpopular war in Iraq, proved incapable of inspiring Americans to vote for him out of anything other than desperation to get rid of Bush--and desperation does not seem to be enough to win elections these days. Inspiration seems to work much better. That is why Barack Obama is likely to beat McCain when the two finally get to fight mano-a-mano, because he is an inspiring and charismatic candidate who will be going up against an opponent who insists on running on George W. Bush's record--and I say, let him. But to me, this is not really about Obama. It's about what is going on with the American people, and what might be possible at this moment in history. Hillary Clinton, as some pundits say, pulled every trick in the Karl Rove playbook to try to catch up to Obama, and attempted to take full advantage of glitches such as the Reverend Wright affair--the "race" issue, that is--but she failed. Her inability to squeak out more than a 2% victory in Indiana demonstrates this clearly, and if Rush Limbaugh had not urged Republicans to vote for Clinton (the one they were dying to run against) Obama might well have been the squeaker rather than the squeakee. Could it be that a very significant percentage of Americans are now ready to begin voting and acting in their best interests? That they have learned enough about war and politics during the last 8 years of the disastrous Bush adminstration to see through the bullshit? That they are ready to vote for a Black president not because he is Black--and ready not to vote against him because he is Black--but for the political positions he takes and what he stands for? That Americans will now be more sympathetic to campaigns for social and economic justice, that they will think two, three, or four times before being suckered into another war against another alleged "enemy"? Maybe, maybe not. But an Obama victory would provide a window of opportunity that any social activist worth his or her salt should be able to drive a truck through. Let's buckle our seatbelts and get back in the drivers' seat. ... Posted by Michael Balter

Beyond Problems: Into Brainstorming Creative Solutions for Change

Dateline: May 3, 2008 Interview with “Building A New World Conference” Organizer, Garda Ghista By Cathy Garger To anyone who reads anything more than whatever phony “news” the Associated Press puts out, it will certainly come as no surprise that the US political system has failed its own citizens and perpetrated irreparable harm and destruction throughout the world. US national elections have been rigged, the Constitution, civil rights, and human rights laws have, for all intents and purposes, been trashed and burned, while an increasingly brutal, militant Police State watches our every move while committing unthinkable crimes of injustice…primarily targeting those of darker skin, indigenous peoples, the poor, and Muslims. Starting in 1991, those in power have been resolute in perpetuating eternal genocide on entire nations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. Both 9/11 and Katrina were crimes against humanity, and mounting evidence suggests that 9/11 may have been manufactured with far more sophisticated technology than mere explosives alone** (see info, below, on the most recent version of the “official story,” conveyed by the US President himself). Meanwhile, quietly, in hush-hush conversations, one-day whistleblowers with critically important inside knowledge whisper details in private that will eventually cause many a public servant to feel a sharp – but mercifully swift - rope burn about the neck… provided, that is, a legitimate judicial system were ever to come into existence. Simultaneously, for our misdirection, misinformation, and distraction, a mighty cadre of nationally controlled and organized leaders from various “liberal” causes direct their opposition groups to both control the information well-meaning progressives receive and orchestrate activist events into lame, pointless exercises in futility. Unquestionably, these always bright and personable “left-gatekeeping” organization heads work hand in hand with the power holders, political party heads, foundation money granters, and infiltrated US media to create feel-good events, protests, and conventions to keep delusional liberals believing their vote still counts, that their protests make all the difference, and that an American democracy actually exists. More astute citizens, however, are finally waking up to the true Mayday nightmare scenario in which we are now living. And those who actually know what is going on fully realize that, regardless of which of the current, Rove-approved, Three Muskateer political candidates - who spar for the camera, sprouting claws on cue - wins the election? The genocidal slaughter taking place both inside the US and across the sea – will continue, unabated. Meanwhile, phone calls and letters to Congress fall upon the deaf ears of federal sociopaths who apparently have decided some time ago they no longer even need to pretend like they care. Both political parties are good-to-go with waging the current radioactive wars - using Depleted and non-Depleted Uranium both - upon dying nations while outraged Americans in an ever-sinking economy devoted to wars everlasting lose, first, their vacations, then eventually their jobs, their homes, their medical coverage, and their ability to put wholesome, non-genetically modified, non-irradiated food on their dinner tables. Finally, in the midst of this looming sea of sheer national madness where otherwise decent people actually delude themselves into believing the DLC’s stunning propaganda - that they can actually elect a President who cares about the well-being of the people even one whit… a conference is announced that appears to hold at least a healthy glimmer of promise. For the stated purpose of this gathering that begins May 22 in Virginia is not merely to share more information on radical topics than the controlled “left” events would ever allow. Instead, according to the stated goals for the “Building A New World” Conference by lead organizer, Garda Ghista, this is a different type of conference - one that promises to deliver room and space for bright minds and accomplished activists to “think outside the box” and brainstorm solutions for desperately needed political, social, humanitarian, and economic change. Curious to discover whether this month’s Virginia event would be merely yet one more lame “progressive” conference… or, one that could actually initiate real change, I contacted Garda Ghista, the president of theconference sponsoring organization, World Prout Assembly, for more information. Below are excerpts from our communications, with contact details for more information and registration following our interview. I am wondering if you can share why progressive activists, angry about what is going down in DC, would want to dip into their hard-earned savings to attend the “Building A New World” Conference? Garda: The major sessions at the conference cover what I feel are the most critical issues facing us today - issues that all of us should be equally concerned about. It doesn’t make sense to me to be concerned about one area of injustice and not about all others. In the final analysis, all of us are brothers and sisters, we are all one human family, so what affects one should affect all. To have this level of caring for one another would reflect a genuinely civilized nation. What makes this any different than all the rest of the so-called “progressive” conferences? Garda: It’s hard to say. I can’t pinpoint whether it will be different. One thing that might be different is that I have not even been active amongst “progressives” or at progressive conferences. I’ve been sort of content to read, study and write. However, beginning in 2004, my exasperation and outrage with the political and economic status quo in America seemed to reach a new level, and leading a life of quiet desperation no longer seemed morally tenable. Aside from the educational value of the critical panel sessions, we’ve organized a Collective Roundtable Brainstorming for Solutions session on Sunday morning, where all of us will hopefully pool our intellectual, activist resources based on a deep love for morality and justice, and come to some consensus on what steps must be taken in the short-term and long-term to install moralists as our leaders. Right now most of our leaders are criminals. Every senator and congressman who votes to fund an illegal war of aggression is complicit in that war and is hence a criminal. Every senator and congressman who votes to deny free universal healthcare to the people of this country is also a criminal. Due to these criminal politicians, more than 18,000 Americans die prematurely every year only due to lack of ability to see the doctor. This is inhuman. Michael Moore calls it murder. It would be great if you could say WHY this is not “just” a progressive conference… Garda: Again, Cathy, it’s hard for me to answer this unless I can put myself into the mind of a “progressive.” I can only speak for myself and say that I clearly am driven almost by forces beyond my understanding. No rational person would use personal credit cards to fund a national conference without any guarantee of return. I don’t know any progressive who would take this kind of huge personal financial risk. So perhaps that’s a difference right there. It may also be my personal determination to find some way to ensure that this is not just another conference, progressive or otherwise. In my mind, something *concrete* must emerge. My vision is for it to be the seed of a revolution that must take place here in America. Demonic forces (literally) have taken our country in a radically downward direction, and now radical action is required to move our country back to a status where it can once again be included amongst the civilized nations of the world. So it’s about bringing strong moralists together in one location and then mapping out strategies to create one mass movement to fight for political and socio-economic Justice. In another year we will likely face an economic meltdown none of us could have imagined. Today an article talked about gas next year being $10 a gallon. Other articles are talking about food rations - something we associate only with “third world” countries. So who is the third world country now? And when that happens, we can be pretty sure that our government will not be there for us, will not help us. Rather, we will be left to fend entirely for ourselves. I was intrigued by the name chosen for the World Prout Assembly Event being held in Radford, VA later this month, “Building A New World” Conference. Can you please tell me why WPA feels we need to build a new world? Garda: Well, our present world is really on the verge of collapse. Numerous articles attest to this and keep warning us. We can talk about ecological/environmental collapse, drastic climate changes which millions are not going to survive. Then there’s economic collapse, already on the horizon, and finally military collapse, as due to the economic collapse the Empire will no longer be able to sustain its hundreds of economic colonies around the world. Essentially, we are watching capitalism in its death throes. So we need to be super alert now and be ready to provide solutions to the people. Solutions like forming cooperatives and spreading workplace democracy, creating local, self-sufficient communities. This is the future, and it’s up to us to educate people. It’s time to start our own vegetable and fruit gardens because in the coming collapse we just won’t have money to buy produce imported from Chile, Brazil and other countries. Many people write about the woes of the world today. This is good. We need to educate people about how they’re being exploited. But at the same time we must provide solutions, and primarily economic solutions. Whose idea was it to do the conference? How did the idea come about? Garda: Out of intense frustration with the status quo, I started the WPA website in January, 2005. Its goal is to expose injustice and work for Justice in all spheres of life. Its vision is also to join the struggle to wrest economic power from corporations and hand it to the people. Is this the first conference of its kind that WPA has organized? Garda: Yes, it is. WPA is a two year old fledgling, grassroots NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] built on dreams for a better world. The ideology and mission of WPA is a way of thinking that most Americans have probably never been exposed to before. Can you please tell me where and how this ideology originated? Garda: It may well have originated from suffering in my own life. When we suffer, we can do one of two things. We can focus on our suffering, dwell on it forever, keep reconstructing it in our mind. Or, we can merge our suffering with the suffering of entire humanity. We can reach out to feel the suffering of other human beings around the world. In most instances, we will find that the suffering of others is far, far greater than our own suffering. I’ve lived in quite a few countries, including six years in UAE [United Arab Emirates], seven years in India, a year in Singapore, nine years in Canada, a year in Germany, several months in UK, and have traveled to many other countries. In each place I made it a point to merge with the local people. For example, in UAE, I sat for hours with the local Bedu women, learning enough Arabic in the process to be able to understand the joys and pains in their hearts. For this very reason, the US imperialist wars in the Middle East are heart-breaking to me. You cannot find a more hospitable, more affectionate, more generous people than the Arabs of the Middle Eastern countries. It is they who embody the real meaning of the term ‘civilization’. How is the WPA set up and funded? Is it a 501(c)(3) non-profit? Garda: It is funded almost entirely by myself, for the simple reason that I keep forgetting to ask for donations on the site, as I get so engrossed in the news articles I am posting. I love studying and learning more than anything else. WPA is in the process of becoming a 501(c) (3) non-profit. Hopefully, that paperwork will be completed by the end of this year. It appears that the economic model that Prout espouses is more compassionate and humanitarian than the current US system of capitalism and its close cousin, fascism, whereby big business interests – and not what’s best for the citizens - currently affects government decisions. That being said, how do most Americans who you’ve come into contact with so far react to the Prout economic model? Garda: I don’t really go out of my way to talk about Prout to people, aside from to my thesis adviser. I talk about the principles it embodies. For example, I try to talk about cooperatives. A lot of people don’t even know what a cooperative is. Some people think it is related to [bureaucratized] communism. Of course, there is no connection between the two. In [such type of] communism, the people own nothing and all business profits are turned over to the government or, rather, to a bureaucratic elite [a new stratum]. In contrast, the bedrock of a Prout economy is cooperatives, which means, local people control their own economies. The majority of businesses in a town will be set up, owned and controlled by local people in a collective manner. All workers are also owners. Collective decisions are made. So we would be moving from a scenario of subordinated cooperation (boss - employee) to coordinated cooperation (worker/owner - worker/owner). Capitalism breeds so much selfishness. It teaches each person to think for himself first, for his own profit first, and only afterwards for others. In the cooperative model, because cooperatives are collectives or collections of people all working for a common goal, so each worker/member learns to think first for the collective and only afterwards for himself. So by creating a cooperative commonwealth we can change the entire culture here - from one of extreme selfishness and self-centeredness to one of collective caring and community. Like so many other issues, this is an issue of education. Right now in Sweden more than 60 percent of businesses are run as cooperatives. The result is far more egalitarianism in the workplace. Here cooperatives are practically unknown. We need to talk to the people about cooperatives, and if possible, we need to establish them and help spread the cooperative movement here. Can you please tell me what is the WPA viewpoint or position on the US imperialist wars being waged since 9/11 under the guise of an eternal “War On Terror”? Garda: Well, Cathy, this seems to be a rhetorical question you’ve asked here… US wars are indeed imperialist wars. They are also illegal as per Article 51 of the UN Charter. If we study the history carefully, we will probably find that US imperialist wars have been illegal for many decades or even centuries. America does not have a very good track record when it comes to its treatment of other countries. But certainly, the present regime in America has taken criminal wars to a new and horrible level. Close to two million Iraqis have been slaughtered as a direct result of US invasion and occupation. More than four million are refugees. Those remaining in Iraq suffer untold misery with only a couple of hours of electricity each day, only a few buckets of water and sometimes no water daily. Americans cannot even imagine it. Sometimes when I’m hanging out with people, listening to them chat about various things, my mind seems to invariably wander over to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I start feeling all the pain of the people there - then I start to wonder how people here can live in such utter oblivion of that all that pain. I just can’t understand it. Your panel of speakers and presentations certainly looks impressive and exciting. What do you hope will come out of the “Building A New World Conference? Garda: Well, I feel I’ve done very little in my life compared to many of the speakers coming. The first thing I need to do there is to salute all those great people whose contribution to humanity is by any standard truly astounding. So even if I can simply salute these great people, I will feel very happy. And the second thing, the hope, the dream that I have, is to somehow cause this conference to be the seed of a great movement that needs to sweep our nation…a positive force that, through its sheer moral force, will have the capacity to obliterate all the crimes and corruptions going on in high places. And once that is achieved, that same positive mass movement needs to find the strict moralists and install them as the leaders of our country. This is the dream, Cathy. Please come there and help me to manifest this dream. ______________________________________ The “Building A New World Conference” will be held May 22 through 25 at Radford University in Virginia. In addition to this writer and Garda Ghista herself, other speakers include: Anti-war leader Cindy Sheehan, US foreign policy critic and historian William Blum, peace activist Kathy Kelly, economist Mike Whitney, USSF organizer and poet Alice Lovelace, impeachment and anti-war leader David Swanson, professor Robert Jensen, Senate candidate Kevin Zeese, SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, IVAW and “Winter Soldier” co-leader Adam Kokesh, Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari, radio broadcaster Meria Heller, “After Capitalism” author and professor David Schweickart, Iraqi MD and anti-war activist Dahlia Wasfi, Tony Award-winning “Rescue Me” star Daniel Sunjata, World Can’t Wait leader Sunsara Taylor, poet and essayist Gary Corseri (representing Cyrano’s Journal) and many more leaders and luminaries will join thousands of people from across the country for a conference that will lay down the foundations for building a new world now. For Conference Registration and to see many more Speaker names, topics, and Conference details, visit: To visit the World Prout Assembly website: _____________________________ ADDENDUM BY THE AUTHOR Originally, the “official story” told to the American public and the rest of the world about 9/11 was that the World Trade Centers twin towers collapsed due to the hijacked passenger jet airlines crashing into the towers. Then, remarkably, on September 6, 2006, the “official story” was suddenly changed by the President George W. Bush from crashing jet planes to explosives when he stated: “During questioning, KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] also provided many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans. For example, he described the design of planned attacks on buildings inside the United States, and how operatives were directed to carry them out. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure that the explosives went off at a point that was high enough to prevent the people trapped above from escaping out the windows.” . Since then, a few courageous private citizens - Jerry Leaphart, Edward Haas, and Drs. Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds - have since come forth to legally challenge both the first and the second “official story.” Not surprisingly, these legal actions have received virtually no media coverage. The legal actions are outlined in the link below this extremely-POOR placed advertisement:’s Website: Cathy Garger is a freelance writer, public speaker, activist, and a certified personal coach who specializes in Uranium weapons. Living in the shadow of the national District of Crime, Cathy is constantly nauseated by the stench emanating from the nation’s capital during the Washington, DC, federal work week.


U.S. base is no longer welcome in Ecuador

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has vowed not to renew the base's contract beyond its November 2009 expiration. And politicians drafting a new constitution have proposed banning the base or any other foreign military presence in the country.


Back in Quito, political analyst Simón Pachano cannot foresee a scenario in which the Manta base might be allowed to stay open.

Unlike his predecessors, Correa is enjoying unprecedented popularity. And his aggressive anti-American and anti-Colombian stance plays well in this nation accustomed to taking a back seat in regional politics.

In exchange for using the base free of charge for 10 years, the United States agreed to expand and update the airstrip, and cooperate with Ecuador on counter-narcotics initiatives.

The fact that the 1999 deal was never approved by Ecuador's full legislature -- only that body's International Affairs Committee -- has made it a political target, Pachano said.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

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Gemperle: HEN ABUSE! You really want eggs from THIS place, California?!

Gemperle Farms is a major supplier of eggs to national chains like Safeway and Albertsons, raking in $7.3 million in annual sales.Steve Gemperle, president of Gemperle Farms, serves as an alternate board member of the AEB (American Egg Board) and is the diector of the UEP (United Egg Producers). Intense suffering. VIDEO: (Warning: Some of the video is disturbing) Abuse on the Egg Farm You're about to get a new perspective on breakfast. The ABC7 News I-Team has obtained new undercover video from one of California's largest egg farms. It shows how the vast majority of eggs are produced in this country and it shows evidence of abuse. Activists have planned this very carefully. They want you to see these pictures before you have a chance to vote on the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act this fall. These are pictures that the egg industry, including the farmers and their lobbyists, don't want you to see. An animal rights activist got a job this winter at Gemperle Enterprises. It's a family operation in Turlock that runs some of the biggest egg farms in the state. "In six weeks, I saw so many instances of cruelty to the birds and neglect," said an activist. The I-Team spoke with the undercover activist by phone. He's already on to his next assignment out of state and wants to remain anonymous. At Gemperle, he documented the standard battery cage operation and the way that 95 percent of eggs in this country are produced. "It is impossible to have any degree of decent animal welfare at all in a battery cage operation," said the activist. From the moment the laying hens arrive at the farm, the treatment is rough as workers push racks of hens onto the loading dock. It is what's called the population process -- workers stuff up to eight hens into a single cage. "It was very common because we had to work at a furious pace. It was very common for the birds' necks or wings to get caught in the wire of the cages and a lot of the workers would just keep shoving or hitting the bird to try and push them in as fast as possible," said the activist. As a result, many of the hens had broken wings or legs, but they weren't treated by a veterinarian. For the next two years, a small cage is their home, and they can't even spread their wings. The battery cage takes its toll. "When you have birds that have been there for two years, they look like absolute hell, they're missing most of their feathers, their covered in wounds. You see a lot fewer birds per cage because so many of them had died off," said the activist. When the laying hens are worn out, workers push a kill cart down the row. They yank the hens from their cages and gas them with carbon dioxide. The activist also caught a manager on video not doing an effective job of wringing one hen's neck. The bird was still alive minutes later. He saw a worker stomping another hen. "As he's stomping on her, she's reacting to him stomping by trying to struggle and keeps flapping her wings and there were manure pits below those individual cages that were filled up with water, so he kicks her underneath an egg belt and she drowns in the manure water," said the activist. Company president Steve Gemperle refused the I-Team's request for an interview. He also declined to watch the video, but provided a statement that reads, in part: "If this video is found to be true and we discover that these are workers employed by us or working on our farm, we will initiate full and complete enforcement action against these workers including immediate termination of employment if they have violated our policies and standards." It's been very difficult to get anyone involved in the egg industry to watch the video and comment. Not Steve Gemperle or the industry's trade group United Egg Producers. Not the state Department of Food and Agriculture, the poultry experts at UC Davis, and not even the county extension agents who work with the farms. We had to go all the way to the University of Maryland to speak with an expert in the Avian and Animal Sciences Department. "I don't think you have to be an expert to see that the animals were not handled properly," said Dr. Inma Estevez from the University of Maryland. Dr. Estevez works with both farmers and activists. She says it's clear Gemperle's workers were not following industry standards. "We have to make sure that the animal caretakers understand that they have to treat the animals with respect," said Estevez. This is such a hot button issue in California because activists have been able to get the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act on the November ballot. It prevents farmers from confining any animal "in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs and turning around freely." That simple wording would ban several common farming techniques -- gestation crates for pigs, veal crates and battery cages. "Currently these birds do not have the legal protection that they need, they are not given the same protection as dogs and cats, for example, and this modest proposal would simply allow these birds to spread their wings and to turn around," said Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals. The Egg Farmers' Trade Group released a statement saying the new act would mean the loss of jobs on California's family farms and lead to higher prices. Also, HBO is planning a special with the undercover activist