30 November 2006

More On Internet Regulation

This article raises some burning issues for serious bloggers, and many other Internet entities. We'll be following this case and other similar cases closely in the coming months.

Threats To Internet Freedom All Too Real
Published on Thursday, November 30, 2006.
Source: Prison Planet - By Paul Joseph Watson

Cyberspace police state dismissed by some, yet agenda for regulated, controlled, patrolled "Internet 2" advances

The Internet is the last true unregulated outpost of freedom of speech but moves are afoot to stifle, suffocate and control the world wide web. These threats are not hidden nor are they hard to deduce and yet a significant minority of truth seekers and activists remain naive as to their scope.

Following our publication of yesterday's article, RIAA Legal Ruling Could Shut Down The Internet, we received a mixed response. Many were aware of the imminent dangers that threaten to change the face of the Internet but others were more hostile to the supposition that the world wide web could be devastated by landmark copyright case rulings as well as plans to develop "Internet 2."

Some accused us of yellow journalism and scaremongering yet the warning that the Elektra vs. Barker case could criminalize the very mechanism that characterizes the Internet was not concocted by Alex Jones or Paul Joseph Watson, it was a statement made by the very lawyer fighting the case, Ray Beckerman.

It was a danger also reported on by one of the UK's biggest technology news websites, the Inquirer, which also yesterday highlighted the frightening development in an article entitled, RIAA wants the Internet shut down.

The RIAA's argument is that defendant Tenise Barker downloaded music files and made them available for distribution by placing them in a shared folder. Though Barker paid for the files and downloaded them legally, and the files were not copied by anyone, the RIAA's motion states that simply making the files available constitutes copyright infringement.

As Beckerman points out, the entire Internet is nothing more than a giant network of hyperlinks making files 'available' to other people. If we link to CNN.com, we are making the file that constitutes the CNN homepage 'available' to other users. We don't own the copyright to any of CNN's material therefore if the RIAA's argument is accepted, by simply making that CNN file available from our website, even if no one clicks on the link, we are committing a breach of copyright.

At no point in our article did we suggest that the ruling definitely would shut down the Internet, we highlighted the fact that hundreds of transnational corporations like Amazon.com who solely rely on Internet trade would scream bloody murder. But what the ruling would grease the skids for is the move towards a strictly regulated Internet whereby government permission would be required to run a website and that website would be subject to censoring and deletion if it violated any "terms of use."

The example I highlighted yesterday on the Alex Jones Show was that running a blog would be like having a You Tube account - any politically sensitive or controversial information that the owners dislike would immediately be removed as it is frequently on You Tube.

In addition, the slide towards a licensed Internet that will be sold using fear of identity and credit card fraud could lead to mandatory biometric thumb or finger scanning simply to access the world wide web.

This is hardly a stretch of the imagination, since numerous public services and functions of society are increasingly accessible only through providing some form of biometric identification. Credit passes for travel, ATM terminals and access to theme parks like Disneyland are just a few of the many services we use that are shifting towards mandatory biometric gatekeeping.

Furthermore, Pay By Touch Online and other companies have already developed and launched keyboard biometric finger scanning terminals that require users to submit their biometric print before they can access the Internet or buy online.

Piggybacking the net neutrality debate, Internet 2 is being shaped to replace the old Internet, which will be allowed to self-destruct as it labors under the pressures of being relegated to slower and slower pipes and users will simply desert a painstaking system.

Earlier this year under the headline, The End of the Internet?, The Nation magazine reported,

"The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online."

Read all of it here.

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Mealy State Mouthpiece Hard at Work

Actually, Glenn Beck is a moronic asshole and little more than a common North American bigot. Dime a dozen 'round these hya parts. But he plays a fine part for CNN, we're sure. Glad we disconnected the television more than a year ago.

If you want a little humour to temper your temper, here's Jon Stewart's take on the whole deal.

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Psychoanalysing the Bush Phenomenon

And this may also go part of the way to explaining why any sort of constitutional rights have become irrelevant.

Psychotics 4 Bush!
Posted by Melissa McEwan at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2006.

Study finds the more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

To be filed under duh:

[Christopher Lohse], a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

…Lohse's study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person's psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

The study began in part as an advocacy project "designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them" to vote, while assessing "knowledge of current issues, government and politics." The Bush trend emerged in the course of the study, according to Lohse, who describes himself as a "Reagan revolution fanatic" who nonetheless finds Bush "beyond the pale." During the course of the study, it emerged that "Bush supporters has significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry," and that greater levels of psychosis predicted Bush support.

"Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very mixed up, there's something very comforting about someone telling you, 'This is how it's going to be'."

None of this is actually new information. That liberal voters tend to be much better informed as a group and tend to reject authoritarianism is well documented, from both the chicken came first angle and the egg came first angle. But it's nonetheless amusing to have further evidence that the people constantly calling progressives unhinged lunatics are, you know, way more likely to be nutzoid than the targets of their gleeful finger-pointing.

Via Tom Tomorrow, who dryly notes: "Anyone who's spent any time reading right wing blogs already understood this to be true." Indeed.


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Trash-Talkin' Thursday

Today's theme is trashing constitutional rights. Yeh, trash-talk Thursday. Even fits with what our venerable leaders actually do. Well, we'll just leave it at that, and let the facts speak for themselves.

1,245 Secret CIA Flights Revealed by European Parliament
November 28, 2006 4:56 PM
Brian Ross and Maddy Sauer Report:

The report is the result of a year-long investigation into secret CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights and prisons in Europe.

No European country has officially acknowledged being part of the program.

But citing records from an informal meeting of European and NATO foreign ministers last December that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Parliament's draft report concludes "member states had knowledge of the programme of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons."

The report said the recently fired head of Italian intelligence, General Nicolo Pollari, "concealed the truth" when he appeared before the Parliament's investigating committee and stated "that Italian agents played no part in any CIA kidnapping."

Read the rest of it here.

And there's this, although you may think animals and their militant advocates don't fall under the Constitution:

Analysis: New animal rights terror law
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A new law that comes into force this week gives federal authorities expanded powers to prosecute animal rights militants -- as the State Department is warning that their activities eclipse terrorism as a day-to-day security problem for U.S. companies in Western Europe.

Bush signed S 3880, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, without fanfare at the White House Monday morning, before flying to the Baltic for a NATO summit.

The bill is designed to make it easier for the FBI and Justice Department to wire-tap and prosecute animal rights extremists who mount campaigns of low-level criminal harassment against animal researchers both in the commercial and educational sectors.

Animal rights campaigners and their supporters say it will chill legal protest, and accuse lawmakers of ramming the bill through during the waning days of the lame-duck congress. But supporters retort that there were hearings in both the House and Senate last year and that the ACLU dropped objections to the new law after amendments it backed were incorporated by the bill's authors.

A State Department security briefing earlier this month for U.S. companies with overseas operations highlighted the threat from animal rights extremists as a major one in Western Europe and the United States.

Read it here.

How about a stroll through the archives, with a few reminders of our leaders past (mis)deeds:

Iran/contra: 20 Years Later and What It Means

It's the 20th anniversary of the Iran-contra scandal. Two decades ago, the public learned about the bizarre, Byzantine and (arguably) unconstitutional actions of high officials in the post-Watergate years. But many Americans did not absorb the key lesson: the Iran/contra vets were not to be trusted. Consequently, most of those officials went on to prosperous careers, with some even becoming part of the squad that has landed the United States in the current hellish mess in Iraq.

Before tying the then to the now, let's revisit the basic narrative. When Congress, by fair vote, decided in the 1980s that the United States should not assist the contras fighting the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, the Reagan White House concocted several imaginative ways to pull an end-run around democracy. This mainly entailed outsourcing the job to a small band of private sector covert operators and to foreign governments, which were privately requested or pressured by the Reaganites to support the secret contra support operation. The "Iran" side of the scandal came from President Ronald Reagan's covert efforts to sell weapons to Iran to obtain the release of American hostages held by terrorist groups supposedly under the control of Tehran--at a time when the White House was publicly declaring it would not negotiate with terrorists. The two clandestine projects merged when cash generated from the weapons transactions with Iran was diverted to the contra operation.

Conservatives for years--make that decades--have argued there was nothing really criminal about the Iran/contra affair and that it was merely a political dispute between the pro-contras Republicans in the White House and the Democrats controlling Congress. Yet at the time the architects of these schemes worried they were breaking laws and placing Reagan in jeopardy of being impeached. Look at how the National Security Archive, a nonprofit outfit that gathers national security records, summarizes a memo documenting a key White House meeting on the clandestine contras program:

At a pivotal meeting of the highest officials in the Reagan Administration [on June 25, 1984], the President and Vice President [George H.W. Bush] and their top aides discuss how to sustain the Contra war in the face of mounting Congressional opposition. The discussion focuses on asking third countries to fund and maintain the effort, circumventing Congressional power to curtail the CIA's paramilitary operations. In a remarkable passage, Secretary of State George P. Shultz warns the president that White House adviser James Baker has said that "if we go out and try to get money from third countries, it is an impeachable offense." But Vice President George Bush argues the contrary: "How can anyone object to the US encouraging third parties to provide help to the anti-Sandinistas…? The only problem that might come up is if the United States were to promise to give these third parties something in return so that some people could interpret this as some kind of exchange." Later, Bush participated in arranging a quid pro quo deal with Honduras in which the U.S. did provide substantial overt and covert aid to the Honduran military in return for Honduran support of the Contra war effort.

Read the rest of this fascinating piece, which recounts specific roles of a number of key present-day administration players, here.

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29 November 2006

The Plastic Turkey

Pun intended.

By Mike Hudson

A few years ago, President George W. Bush made a surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to Baghdad to have his picture taken helping to serve the troops their turkey dinner. The sight of a chicken carrying a turkey into a roomful of heroes was memorable enough, but the irony became even more delicious a day or two later when it was reported that the turkey had been as fake as Bush's play Army suit.

The big bird was made of plastic, and once again our feckless leader provided ample evidence that he wouldn't know the difference between reality and fantasy if it came up and bit him, as it has in Iraq.

Still, those were happier times for Bush. Basking in the warm afterglow of Shock and Awe, with reruns of his "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier strut still being shown on television by Chris Matthews, and the stench of war crimes at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as yet unsmelled, the president was still enjoying the kind of high that can only come to the leader of a superpower through the devastation of a small and impoverished nation.

Since then, of course, the war in Iraq has taken several dozen nasty turns for the worse. Even its staunchest supporters now call the war unwinnable. More Americans die every day, and as many as 1,000 Iraqi civilians are slaughtered each week. Billions and billions of your tax dollars are poured into the morass on an ongoing basis, only to be devoured greedily by the very same profiteering Halliburton subsidiaries Vice President Dick Cheney helped found.

Oh yeah, Vice President Dick Cheney. The coward who wheedled five deferments to keep him out of Vietnam and thinks guns are for shooting penned-up pheasants and the occasional trial lawyer made news this Thanksgiving with an alleged trip to Baghdad that allegedly never took place.

Read it here.

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Hear, Hear

Impeachment Hearings for Bush & Co.? How about War Crimes Tribunals
By Heather Wokusch

While Bush administration members have made a sport of breaking the law, both domestically and internationally, their intransigence will come back to haunt—one way or another.

The Bush Doctrine of taking "the battle to the enemy," for example, is a direct repudiation of the United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of international force unless in self-defense (after an armed attack across an international border) or related to a UN Security Council decision. And that explains why Bush's 2002 National Security Strategy makes a point to "protect Americans" from "the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution" by the International Criminal Court "whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept."

The whole idea of the US being able to preemptively attack other nations was penned by White House lawyers two weeks after 9/11; former justice department lawyer John Yoo wrote memos for then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales arguing that "no limits" stood in the way of Bush's ability to take military action and that "the president's decisions are for him alone and are unreviewable."

But giving someone like Bush "unreviewable" and unlimited military powers is reckless; the man can barely construct a sentence, let alone articulate a humane and effective foreign policy.

Besides, a "no limits" approach to foreign policy can't coexist with rule of law, which explains why just last week, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff accused the United Nations and other world bodies of using international law "as a rhetorical weapon against us." Chertoff co-authored the infamous Patriot Act but is best known for his stunning incompetence regarding Katrina. If only he had been as eager to protect Americans from hurricanes as he is to protect them from global treaties...

Chertoff's view of international law as a threat to the US is supported by Rumsfeld's 2005 National Defense Strategy, which notes: "Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes and terrorism."

In other words, the Pentagon links "judicial processes" with "terrorism," and sees "judicial processes" as weakening the US "nation state." What kind of nonsense is that?

Now that Rumsfeld has "resigned" and Bush and Co. face their lame-duck years watching the war on terror implode, it's worth considering the aftermath of World War II, when the International Military Tribunal indicted and tried over 20 Nazi leaders for war crimes ranging from waging a war of aggression, killing civilians, mistreating prisoners and plundering property. How eerily familiar those charges seem today.

And how ominous that only weeks ago, German prosecutors began pursuing a criminal investigation into the alleged role of Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and numerous other administration members regarding prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.

Rumsfeld will lose his legal immunity when he ceases to be Defense Secretary, a fact which must weigh heavily on Bush and others. Unsurprisingly, the administration has taken pre-emptive action against future war crimes charges, including pushing through the scandalous Military Commissions Act, which provides them retroactive domestic protection from prosecution regarding prisoner abuse cases.

Read the rest here.

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Habeas Corpus, Gone

Arlen Specter’s about-face.
Issue of 2006-12-04
Posted 2006-11-27

President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in Maryland on April 27, 1861, two weeks after the Confederate attack on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter. “Lincoln could look out his window at the White House and see Robert E. Lee’s plantation in Virginia,” Akhil Reed Amar, a professor at Yale Law School and the author of “America’s Constitution,” said. “He was also facing a rebellion of so-called Peace Democrats in Maryland, meaning there was a real chance that Washington would be surrounded and a real threat that the White House would be captured.” On Lincoln’s order, federal troops arrested Baltimore’s mayor and chief of police, as well as several members of the Maryland legislature, who were jailed so that they couldn’t vote to secede from the Union.

Since the Middle Ages, habeas corpus—“You should have the body”—has been the principal means in Anglo-American jurisprudence by which prisoners can challenge their incarceration. In habeas-corpus proceedings, the government is required to bring a prisoner—the body—before a judge and provide a legal rationale for his continued imprisonment. The concept was so well established at the time of the founding of the American Republic that the framers of the Constitution allowed suspensions of the right only under narrow circumstances. Article I, Section 9, states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Such suspensions have been rare in American history. The most recent occasion was in 1871, when President Ulysses S. Grant sent federal troops to South Carolina to stop attacks by the Ku Klux Klan against newly emancipated black citizens. This fall, however, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, a new law banning the four hundred and thirty detainees held at the American naval base at Guantánamo Bay, and other enemy combatants, from filing writs of habeas corpus.

The law, known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, was a logical culmination of an era of one-party rule in Washington. During the Presidency of George W. Bush, the executive branch, with the eager acquiescence of its Republican allies in Congress, has essentially dared the courts to defend the rights of the suspected Al Qaeda terrorists, who have been held at Guantánamo, some for as long as four years. The Supreme Court has twice taken up that challenge and forced the Administration to change tactics; the new law represented a final attempt to remove the detainees from the purview of the Court. Now, of course, Republicans no longer control Congress, but the change in the law of habeas corpus may be permanent.

Read it here.

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Down With the Constitution

At least, as far down as the Bush administration can bury it.

RIAA Legal Ruling Could Shut Down The Internet
Published on Wednesday, November 29, 2006.
Source: Prison Planet - By Paul Joseph Watson

U.S. government supports legal case that would criminalize making any files available on the world wide web

A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.

Ray Beckerman, a lawyer representing clients in cases against the RIAA, recently took part in a conference call organized by DefectiveByDesign.org, an organization which opposes DRM Technology, content restricting programs embedded into software that blocks users access to music, movies, software and other forms of digital data.

Beckerman describes how Internet users are randomly targeted by the RIAA for simply having a folder of music on their computer, kept in the dark about legal details and intimidated into paying thousands of dollars immediately or facing a federal lawsuit. The RIAA doesn't even attempt to prove copyright infringement with specific examples, dates or times - it simply coerces and threatens the victim until they relent into paying out huge settlement fees.

Read the rest of it here.

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Staring A Gift Horse Down

Science Teachers’ Organization Refuses To Accept Copies of Inconvenient Truth

In tomorrow’s Washington Post, global warming activist Laurie David writes about her effort to donate 50,000 free DVD copies of An Inconvenient Truth (which she co-produced) to the National Science Teachers Association. The Association refused to accept the DVDs:

In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs. …

[T]here was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.”

Read the rest here.

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Breaking: Saddam Escaped

One of our members thinks this is "dumb," and there will certainly be no argument from me.

But I'm posting this, too, just to make the point that there are no known limits of dumb ...

Oh, this second piece is titled "Death by Hanging."

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A Red-Shouldered Hawk on WW*

This photo comes from Mariann Wizard, who says, "A gorgeous red-shouldered hawk photographed on the ground at Canton in late October -- he did not appear to be feeding, but just strolling around; I believe I could have gotten closer had my cousin not let her dog out just then. The dog was intent upon her own business and the hawk was unconcerned by her, but may have sensed my approach and just lazily lifted off and took to the trees. This bird must have a four-foot wing span; my jaw dropped and I didn't quite get the money shot, but look at that color! Red as a robin's breast!"

* Note: WW = Wildlife Wednesday

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28 November 2006

The Horror That Is Baghdad

To indicate how horrible the situation in Baghdad is, this is a brief excerpt from Healing Iraq, where we give only three of dozens of messages from frightened, concerned, fearful Iraqis about their neighbourhoods and what they were doing to cope.

Iraqis Prepare for Further Sectarian Violence (Updated)

As the cycle of sectarian violence in Baghdad rages on, despite a three-day curfew, many people in the war-torn capital are bracing themselves for what they fear is the worst phase of the war to come.

The attack on Sadr City with five car bombs last Thursday will most likely be another turning point, ushering in a rising level of violence in Iraq, just the same as the shrine incident in Samarra last February.

At Baladruz, in the Diyala governorate, northeast of Baghdad, Sunni gunmen massacred 21 Shi’ite men, including a 12-year-old boy, in front of their families. Sunni and Shi’ite militiamen took to the streets and exchanged fire in Ba’quba for hours before U.S. troops intervened. An office of the Sadr movement was blown up, and in response, a Sunni mosque was set to fire.

With the curfew entering its fourth day since the Sadr City bombings last Thursday, Iraqi families were confined to their homes in fear as the exchange of mortar shells between Sunni and Shi’ite districts continued. Sunni insurgents targeted the Shi’ite districts of Sadr City, Abu Dshir, Ma’alif, Hurriya, Shu’la and Kadhimiya with mortars and Katyusha rockets in retaliation for attacks against the Sunni districts of Adhamiya, Sulaikh, Ghazaliya, Jami’a and Dora.

A few mortar shells have falled in the vicinity of our home in Baghdad. One shell tore through the roof of our relatives’ house, a few blocks away from us, into their living room, but nobody was hurt. Another hit our neighbours.

There was a two-hour broadcast from Sadr City on the state-run Iraqiya TV, in which three Sadrist MPs and angry residents vowed revenge for the car bombings that killed over 200 people last Thursday. Reports from the area indicate that militiamen are preparing for further attacks against Sunni districts as soon as the curfew is lifted. Several residents claimed on Iraqi message boards that the Mahdi Army is distributing police uniforms to its members in different Shi’ite districts throughout the capital to allow greater freedom of movement.

Nighttime clashes went on in several neighbourhoods of western Baghdad, as militiamen dressed in police uniforms attempted to enter Sunni districts. The remaining Sunni families in several mixed areas have been ordered to leave.

To grasp how dire the situation in Baghdad has become over the last few days, here is a sampling of posts on Iraqi message boards where people ask for instructions on how to defend their neighbourhoods from marauding militiamen:

Ali – Khadhraa district: Please inform us about the areas that are expected to be targeted, so we can be prepared. Also please inform us on the necessary steps we should take to protect our families and ourselves.

Ibn Al-Iraq – Jihad district: Salam Aleikum. I live in the Jihad district. A group from the Mahdi Army tagged Sunni residences and collected their weapons today. God is witness to what I say.

Mustafa – Ghazaliya: We have been under mortar fire for two days. It is 10:50 p.m. now and we can hear heavy gunfire and an attack against mosques in the area. May God save us all from the injustice of aggressors.

Read the rest here (scroll down to the 26 November 2006 post).

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Why Do We Stay?

For one man's ego. And that would perhaps make a 15th article of impeachment.

US unable to win in west Iraq, Marines say
Dafna Linzer and Thomas Ricks, Washington
November 29, 2006

THE US military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report.

"The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same in the troubled Anbar province, a senior US intelligence official said.

The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival", fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across Baghdad.

"From the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realised — Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalised," the report says. Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help US forces because they are seen as likely to leave Iraq before imposing stability.

Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected gradual US withdrawal, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that US and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar". At least 90 US troops have died in Anbar since September 1.

Read the rest here.

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Kick the Buggers Out

Well, over at the Daily Kos, they're getting real about what should happen to George Bush and Dick Cheney. We concur with their assessment. Here's a snip of it:

Articles of Impeachment against Bush and Cheney
by Eternal Hope
Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 04:10:20 PM PST

If we are to impeach, we must impeach both Bush and Cheney. It will not do any good for us to impeach Bush and have Cheney take the Oval Office and pick someone just as radical as he is. It will also not do any good for us to impeach just Cheney and allow Bush to groom John "I'm not knowledgeable" McCain for the 2008 election. Therefore, we must simultaneously impeach both of them so that the 3rd person in succession, Nancy Pelosi, would become the next President of the United States.

What remains to be done is for us to work out articles of impeachment against the President. Others may surface after the Democrats begin their job of investigating and getting to the bottom of the matter. If the Bush administration obstructs or lies to the Congressional Committee chairs, those could in and of themselves be grounds for impeachment and removal of Bush and Cheney.

In the meantime, here are the following 14 possible articles of impeachment against the President and Vice President.

1. Leaking classified information by disclosing the identity of Valerie Plame to reporters.

The President and Vice President unlawfully leaked classified information, the identity of a Non-official Cover, Valerie (Wilson) Plame, to a person or persons not authorized to receive such information, namely, Robert Novak, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and Matt Cooper, a reporter for Time Magazine.

Law violated:

National Security Act of 1947.

Read the remaining thirteen articles of impeachment here.

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Last Sunday - First Report

Last Sunday: Digging in and digging deep
by Robert Jensen

[Remarks to the first in a series of “Last Sunday” community gatherings in Austin, TX, November 26, 2006.]

We billed Last Sunday as a place for people to come together to explore the intersections of the political, artistic, and spiritual. The idea came out of conversations among friends: Eliza Gilkyson, a singer/songwriter with interests in politics and spirituality; Jim Rigby, a minister who has a knack for stirring up trouble, theologically and politically; and me, a professor involved in a variety of political groups.

There are lots of organizations and movements taking up issues that we care about. Last Sunday was designed not to compete with those, but to create a different kind of space, where people could bring all aspects of themselves for conversation and connection. The name plays off the “First Thursday” tradition on South Congress Avenue, with perhaps an invocation of the Last Supper for some, though I want to be clear that none of us has any messianic inclinations.

We hope people will not only listen to what comes from the stage, but connect with friends and allies in the hall. We hope that existing progressive projects will be strengthened and that new ideas will emerge from those conversations.

So, there’s no hidden agenda tonight. We’re not recruiting or selling anything. Like so many, we’re just hungry for that conversation, that connection, that sense of community.

Robert Jensen has posted the entire presentation here.

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The Six Options For Iraq We Haven't Heard About

Americans bearing gifts

The Iraqi newspaper Azzaman prints a curtain-raiser on tomorrow's the Bush-Maliki meeting in Amman that makes it appear Bush will be "choosing" among a number of points on the Sunni-Iraq wish-list, and will be pressing Maliki to implement some of these on his own, or face serious consequences. The newspaper, which is nationalist in its editorial line, does not describe these points as particularly Sunni in nature, rather as reforms. But in the current circumstances, it is clear that Azzaman thinks this meeting will support a major pushback by Sunni opponents of the Maliki regime. Here is the opening sentence:

American president Bush will be selecting tomorrow in Amman the solution that observers are calling the final one from a basket of options that has been presented to him by [the Baker group] and by a policy that has been evolved by national security adviser Stephen Hadley since his [Hadley's] visit to Baghdad last month as a solution to the question of Iraq, and there are six options: [First], issuance of a general amnesty to all of the resistance groups, and an expansion of the National Reconciliation program; [second], shutting down the de-Baathification agency; [third], including former Baathists in government and paying them conpensation for the last four years; [fourth], disbanding the militias and turning over the leaders that have been involved in crimes to the courts for trial; [fifth], freezing the law relating to establishment of federal regions; and [sixth], set a policy for the fair distribution of oil [revenues] to the people of Iraq.

In the same vein, the writers says King Abdullah, who met with Harith al-Dhari (head of the Sunni-opposition Association of Muslim Scholars) on Monday, wants to bring al-Dhari "within the environment of the talks with Bush", and although he doesn't suggest exactly what al-Dhari might do, the suggesting does give a further unmistakable Sunni/resistance-oriented tone to this.

Their take on the US political dynamics points in the same direction. They cite a number of statements by Democrats who will be in key positions in the new Congress to the effect Bush should press Maliki harder to end the violence, with serious consequences to him if he fails to do so. The discussion suggests the consequences would involve withdrawal of support, sometimes suggesting ready-or-not troop-withdrawal, but sometimes left ambiguous.

Read the rest here.

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Cartoon Tuesday - C. Loving

Thank you, Charlie.

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27 November 2006

When W Meets Science ...

... science always loses.

More Scientific Sleight of Hand
William Fisher

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (IPS) - Most abstinence-until-marriage education programmes in the United States -- which receive about 158 million dollars annually from the Department of Health and Human Services -- are not reviewed for scientific accuracy before they are granted funding, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office released this week.

"Efforts by HHS and states to assess the scientific accuracy of materials used in abstinence-until-marriage education programmes have been limited," the GAO report states.

"This is because HHS's Administration for Children and Families (ACF) -- which awards grants to two programmes that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence-until-marriage education -- does not review its grantees' education materials for scientific accuracy and does not require grantees of either programme to review their own materials for scientific accuracy."

GAO auditors contacted 10 states that receive funding from ACF for their abstinence-until-marriage programmes. It found that only half reviewed the programmes for scientifically accurate data on contraception, sexually transmitted infections and other information.

The report also found that most state and federal efforts to assess the effectiveness of abstinence-until-marriage education programmes "do not meet the minimum scientific standards" that experts say are necessary to be scientifically valid.

The GAO report is the latest in a multi-year series of findings that the administration of President George W. Bush has systematically manipulated science to comply with ideology.

On the subject of abstinence education, the administration changed sex education performance measures to produce the appearance that scientific evidence supports abstinence-only programmes.

Pres. Bush has consistently supported the view that sex education should teach "abstinence only" and not include information on other ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Until recently, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) initiative called "Programmes That Work" identified sex education programmes that have been found to be effective in scientific studies and provided this information through its web site.

Read the rest here.

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Paradise Lost

Milton Lost: Can We Regain Paradise?
By Jason Miller
Nov 27, 2006, 06:38

[I dedicate this essay to the untold millions who suffered as a result of Milton Friedman’s creation of an intellectual bulwark for economic brutality. On 11/16/06, Friedman died of heart failure, an ironic cause of death for a heartless individual.]

We have reached the deplorable circumstance where in large measure a very powerful few are in possession of the earth's resources, the land and its riches and all the franchises and other privileges that yield a return. These positions are maintained virtually without taxation; they are immune to the demands made on others. The very poor, who have nothing, are the object of compulsory charity. And the rest -- the workers, the middle-class, the backbone of the country -- are made to support the lot by their labor. -- Agnes George de Mille (granddaughter of Henry George), New York, 1979

Note that Ms. George de Mille penned her observations before the patron saint of the “have mores” established residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In less than three decades, a Friedman-inspired Reagan and his successors made astounding gains for the “very powerful” de Mille described.

Reagan wielded the scalpel that emasculated organized labor and convinced America that “regulation” is a four letter word. George H.W. Bush further crippled unions and condemned many poor Mexicans to corporate exploitation through his relentless efforts to make NAFTA a reality. Convincing the multitude of his compassion and empathy, Clinton proceeded to sign NAFTA into law and cheerfully eviscerated public assistance.

Embarking on a “divine mission, George W. Bush has taken “free trade”, deregulation, fiscal strangulation of social programs, enervation of We the People, and militarism to breath-taking heights. In spite of W’s failure to eliminate the “Death Tax”, Milton Friedman is beaming with pride as the flames of eternal damnation incinerate his corporeal shell and render his wicked soul vulnerable to the divine castigation he so richly deserves.

Consider the words of Henry George, a US American economic and political thinker who advocated a balance of free markets, government regulation, and social programs:

The forces of the new era have not yet had time to make status hereditary, but we may clearly see that when the industrial organization compels a thousand workmen to take service under one master, the proportion of masters to men will be but as one to a thousand, though the one may come from the ranks of the
thousand. "Master"! We don't like the word. It is not American! But what is the use of objecting to the word when we have the thing? The man who gives me employment, which I must have or suffer, that man is my master, let me call him what I will. -- Henry George, 1883

Inculcating and deluding the masses with a multi-billion dollar barrage of agitprop and sophistry potent enough to penetrate the minds of the most adroit thinkers, the moneyed interests behind corporatism and exploitative Capitalism have created a false dichotomy that clings to our collective psyche like a cocklebur deeply embedded in a wool sock. They are intent on retaining mastery over their wage slaves.

Read the rest of it here.

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Doesn't Oil Mean Swindle?

AP Analysis: Firms Crimping Oil Supplies
Published on Sunday, November 26, 2006.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) -- You'd think it was Texas. Dusty roads course the scrubland toward oil tanks and warehouses. Beefy men talk oil over burritos at lunch. Like grazing herds, oil wells dip nonstop amid the tumbleweed - or even into the asphalt of a parking lot.

That's why the rumor sounded so wrong here in California's lower San Joaquin Valley, where petroleum has gushed up more riches than the whole gold rush. Why would Shell Oil Co. simply close its Bakersfield refinery? Why scrap a profit maker?

The rumor seemed to make no sense. Yet it was true.

The company says it could make more money on other projects. It denies it intended to squeeze the market, as its critics would claim, to drive up gasoline profits at its other refineries in the region.

Whatever the truth in Bakersfield, an Associated Press analysis suggests that big oil companies have been crimping supplies in subtler ways across the country for years. And tighter supplies tend to drive up prices.

The analysis, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, indicates that the industry slacked off supplying oil and gasoline during the prolonged price boom between early 1999 and last summer, when prices began to fall.

The industry counters that it's been working hard to meet untiring demand. It faults output quotas set by Mideast oil powers, global competition for oil from booming economies like China's, and domestic challenges like depleting wells, clean-air rules, and hurricanes. They do make things harder.

Read it here.

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What Constitutional Rights?

And they want more facts - it's fact enough that you can be wire-tapped without warning or warrant at any time. Stop fact-finding and shut down the NSA program !!

Year of bipartisan outrage on wiretaps bears little fruit
Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
Nov. 25, 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - When President Bush went on national television one Saturday morning last December to acknowledge the existence of a secret wiretapping program outside court supervision, the fallout was fierce.

Bush's opponents accused him of breaking the law, with a few even calling for his impeachment. His backers demanded that he be given express legal authority to do what he had done. Law professors talked, civil rights groups sued and a federal judge in Detroit declared the wiretapping program unconstitutional.

But as Democrats prepare to take over on Capitol Hill, not much has really changed in the last year: The National Security Agency's wiretapping program continues uninterrupted, with no definitive action by either Congress or the courts on what, if anything, to do about it, and little chance of a breakthrough in the lame-duck Congress.

While the Democrats have vowed to press for more facts about the operation, they are of mixed minds about additional steps.

Read it here.

[+/-]

Cold, Hard Facts, Episode XI

And we'd bet Big Dick has a hard on to do lots more in his last two years in office.

Dick Cheney's mission to expand -- or 'restore' -- the powers of the presidency
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff
November 26, 2006

ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- In July 1987, then-Representative Dick Cheney, the top Republican on the committee investigating the Iran-contra scandal, turned on his hearing room microphone and delivered, in his characteristically measured tone, a revolutionary claim.

President Reagan and his top aides, he asserted, were free to ignore a 1982 law at the center of the scandal. Known as the Boland Amendment, it banned US assistance to anti-Marxist militants in Nicaragua.

"I personally do not believe the Boland Amendment applied to the president, nor to his immediate staff," Cheney said.

Most of Cheney's colleagues did not share his vision of a presidency empowered to bypass US laws governing foreign policy. The committee issued a scathing, bipartisan report accusing White House officials of "disdain for the law."

Cheney refused to sign it. Instead, he commissioned his own report declaring that the real lawbreakers were his fellow lawmakers, because the Constitution "does not permit Congress to pass a law usurping Presidential power."

The Iran-contra scandal was not the first time the future vice president articulated a philosophy of unfettered executive power -- nor would it be the last. The Constitution empowers Congress to pass laws regulating the executive branch, but over the course of his career, Cheney came to believe that the modern world is too dangerous and complex for a president's hands to be tied. He embraced a belief that presidents have vast "inherent" powers, not spelled out in the Constitution, that allow them to defy Congress.

Cheney bypassed acts of Congress as defense secretary in the first Bush administration. And his office has been the driving force behind the current administration's hoarding of secrets, its efforts to impose greater political control over career officials, and its defiance of a law requiring the government to obtain warrants when wiretapping Americans. Cheney's staff has also been behind President Bush's record number of signing statements asserting his right to disregard laws.

Read the rest here.

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Great - Another Guy to Worry About

Do we need another T.R.? If John McCain gets his way, you'll have your faith in the country restored ... or else!
By Matt Welch
November 26, 2006

YOU CAN READ 1,000 profiles of GOP presidential front-runner John McCain without encountering a single paragraph examining his core ideological philosophy. His career is filled with such distracting drama — torture at the Hanoi Hilton, noisy conversion to the campaign-finance-reform faith, political suicide on the Straight Talk Express — that by the time you're done with the highlights, and perhaps a few "maverick" anecdotes, time's up.

People are forever filling in the blanks with their own political fantasies. Third party candidate! John Kerry running mate! Far-right warmonger! Republican In Name Only! But with the announcement that the popular Arizona senator has formed his presidential exploratory committee, it's time for our long national guessing game to end.

Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.

Read it here.

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Craven Cowards and Fools

Matt over at Today in Iraq gave us the title of this post. He is referring to the Amerikan politicians who don't want to concede that what's happening in Iraq is a civil war. The choice of term is moot when as many people die daily as do in that nation. Our position is that the US must get out of Iraq immediately to have a modest hope of regaining peace there.

A Matter of Definition: What Makes a Civil War, and Who Declares It So?
Published: November 26, 2006

BAGHDAD, Nov. 25 — Is Iraq in a civil war?

The fighting in Iraq escalated sharply after the bombing in February of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, shown here shortly after the attack.

Though the Bush administration continues to insist that it is not, a growing number of American and Iraqi scholars, leaders and policy analysts say the fighting in Iraq meets the standard definition of civil war.

The common scholarly definition has two main criteria. The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.

American professors who specialize in the study of civil wars say that most of their number are in agreement that Iraq’s conflict is a civil war.


In the United States, the debate over the term rages because many politicians, especially those who support the war, believe there would be domestic political implications to declaring it a civil war. They fear that an acknowledgment by the White House and its allies would be seen as an admission of a failure of President Bush’s Iraq policy.

They also worry that the American people might not see a role for American troops in an Iraqi civil war and would more loudly demand a withdrawal.

Read the rest here.

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Does Amerika Consist Largely of Morons?

The Association president rhetorically asks about someone putting up a sign advocating the bombing of Iraq. We wonder WTF he thinks the US is currently doing, singing lullabies for the Iraqis? Moron ...

Subdivision Bans Wreath With Peace Sign
Homeowner Defies Board, Faces About $1000 in Fines


DENVER (Nov. 26) - A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.

"Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Lisa Jensen said she wasn't thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, "Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing."

Jensen, a past association president, calculates the fines will cost her about $1,000, and doubts they will be able to make her pay. But she said she's not going to take it down until after Christmas.

Read the rest here.

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Monday Movie Time

Curl up with the popcorn, candy, and soft drinks. But you might want a barf-bag handy. This has some graphic stuff. We believe it's a BBC special analysing the reason the Iraq war is the least-reported war in history. Hmmm ... You decide why.

Iraq: The Hidden Story

“I [believe] that journalism, particularly television journalism, by its failure to show the real horror of war, has become a lethal weapon, supporting governments that want to go to war.” — Robert Fisk

[+/-]

26 November 2006

The Shame of Unlawful Detention - Khaled El-Masri

A Symbol of "Extraordinary Rendition" Returns to the U.S.

Tomorrow, a German man arrives at John F. Kennedy international airport. This seemingly unremarkable event is in fact a moment of personal bravery that ought to spur national contrition.

Khaled El-Masri, the arriving German national, tried to come to the United States once before. When he arrived, he was hauled aside, imprisoned, and then promptly deported back to his home in Germany.

His crime? Being a danger to the United States? On one of the federal government famous (and multitudinous) watch lists? Hardly. Khaled El-Masri was declined entry because he had been mistakenly kidnapped by the United States in 2003, taken to a U.S. base in Afghanistan, brutally interrogated, and detained long after the government -- at its highest levels -- knew him to be wholly innocent of any wrongdoing, or even tangential connection to terrorism. Khaled El-Masri was refused entry because he was an embarrassment: A public symbol, renowned across the world outside American borders, of the wretched consequences of America's "extraordinary rendition" policy.

Despite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's promise that intelligence errors would be addressed, and when necessary remedied through the federal courts, Mr. El-Masri has been denied any meaningful acknowledgment of his ordeal. While declining to comment on the El-Masri case in particular, the American ambassador to Germany has offered regrets for any mistakes that "may have been made." And the German government reports that American officials tried to buy Mr. El-Masri's silence, rather than acknowledging their terrible incompetence.

The Bush Administration's approach to national security is one of "take no prisoners, have no regrets." Claims of unfettered executive power, after all, fit ill with the mounting evidence of incompetence and sloppiness that the El-Masri case too acutely illustrates.

Read the rest of it here.

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Another Example of the Mealy State Mouthpiece

The MSM outdoes itself daily. They trip over each other to print the propaganda of the state. Here is a fine example of it, and a paper that could do better if it tried. But that's the key word, isn't it - "try." They don't.

U.S. Finds Iraq Insurgency Has Funds to Sustain Itself
November 26, 2006

BAGHDAD, Nov. 25 — The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year.

A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.

The report offers little hope that much can be done, at least soon, to choke off insurgent revenues. For one thing, it acknowledges how little the American authorities in Iraq know — three and a half years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein — about crucial aspects of insurgent operations. For another, it paints an almost despairing picture of the Iraqi government’s ability, or willingness, to take steps to tamp down the insurgency’s financing.

Read the rest here. And read a critique of it here.

[+/-]

Now These Folks Are Singin' On Sunday

No way I'm passing this one up. Artist isn't known, but we do know who's vaguely responsible for it: http://www.spaff.com/. And are we ever grateful to keep finding these great folks who do such creative, clever stuff. Thanks, ya'll. And thanks to Late Night Liz and Mariann Wizard for bringin' it to our attention.

Super Televangelistic Sex-and-Drugs Psychosis

Here's the link to the words.

[+/-]

Judicial Strike-Breaking

Federal judges are suffocating the right to strike
By Chris Kutalik
Nov 25, 2006, 01:00

From auto parts to carhauling to airlines, employers have used bankruptcies to gut union contracts over the last five years. Now airline union members are beating the drums about another disturbing trend emerging from bankruptcy courts: throwing out unions’ right to strike.

Northwest Airlines flight attendants were angry at the injunction forbidding them from striking, and many thought they should have struck anyway. In September and October, federal judges issued anti-strike injunctions that derailed threatened work actions at two bankrupt airlines, Northwest (NWA) and Mesaba. Lost, along with the threat of a strike, was most of these workers’ leverage in negotiations. Their unions have been scrambling to come up with an effective response.

"The courts seem obsessed with blocking airline strikes," said Daniel Grey, a flight attendant at Northwest’s Detroit hub. "The line between court and company is further blurred—and it all seems to happen with the blessing of the federal government. Losing the legal right to strike means losing a great rallying force during tough contract negotiations."

According to David Borer, general counsel for Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents flight attendants at NWA, the NWA ruling took away the union’s most effective weapon. "The immediate effect was to take pressure off management and make the prospect of a new tentative agreement less likely," said Borer.

Read it here.

[+/-]

God Is "Dog" Spelled Backward ...

Expecting the Lightening Bolt Momentarily. But why do I have an uneasy feeling that Angus is Grace Slick's mutt? Southern California, wants privacy, .... Thanks to David Hamilton for this.


[+/-]

FARC and the Post-911 US Policy

An Open Letter to the People and Government of the US (And a Reply to the FARC)
By James Petras
Nov 26, 2006, 13:01

On a November 9, 2006, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army, (FARC-EP) sent an “Open Letter to the People of the United States”. It was specifically addressed to several Hollywood producers and actors (Michael Moore, Denzel Washington and Oliver Stone) as well as three leftist academics (James Petras, Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis) and a progressive politician (Jessie Jackson). The purpose of the open letter was to solicit our support in facilitating an agreement between the US and Colombian governments and the FARC-EP on exchanging 600 imprisoned guerrillas (including 2 on trial in the US) for 60 rebel-held prisoners including 3 US counter-insurgency experts.

FARC-EP: Terrorist Band or Resistance Movement?

Contrary to the US government position characterizing the FARC-EP as a ‘terrorist organization’, it is the longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world today. Founded in 1964 by two dozen peasant activists, as a means for defending autonomous rural communities from the violent depredations of the Colombian military and paramilitary, the FARC-EP has grown into a highly organized 20,000 member guerrilla army with several hundred thousand local militia and supporters, highly influential in over 40% of the country. Up until September 11, 2001, the FARC-EP was recognized as a legitimate resistance movement by most of the countries of the European Union, Latin America and for several years was in peace negotiations with the Colombian government headed by President Andrés Pastrana. Prior to 9/11 FARC leaders met with European heads of state to exchange ideas on the peace process. Numerous prominent business leaders from Wall Street, City of London and Bogotá and notables like Queen Noor of Jordan met with FARC leaders in the demilitarized zone during the aborted peace negotiations (1999-2002).

Under heavy pressure from the White House, particularly its leading spokespersons, the right-wing extremists like the notorious Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and, John Bolton, the Pastrana regime abruptly broke off negotiations and in less than 24 hours sent the Colombian Army into the demilitarized area, in an attempt to capture the FARC leaders engaged in negotiations. The ‘surprise’ attack failed but did set the stage for the escalation of the conflict.

US Role in Conflict

Beginning with President Clinton in 2000 and continuing with Bush, the US has poured over $4 Billion dollars in military aid to the Colombian regime in order to destroy the guerrilla army and its suspected social base among peasants, urban trade unions and professionals (especially teachers, lawyers, human rights activists and intellectuals). Washington vigorously pushes a military solution by subverting any peace negotiations, through a substantial number of military advisers, contracted mercenaries, Drug Enforcement operatives, CIA agents, Special Forces commandos and a host of other undercover personnel. Between the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s, Washington maintained the fiction that its military programs were part of an anti-narcotic campaign, though it failed to explain why it concentrated most of its efforts in FARC-influenced regions and not in the vast coca-growing areas controlled by the Colombian military and paramilitary forces. With the launching of Plan Colombia in 2000, Washington explicitly underlined the counter-insurgency nature of its military aid and presence. Profoundly disturbed by President Pastana’s acceptance of peace negotiations and the advances of the social and guerrilla movements, Washington backed a rightwing politician with a history of ties to Colombia’s death squads for President, Álvaro Uribe. His electoral victory inaugurated one of the bloodiest extermination campaigns in the violent history of Colombia.

Read the rest of it here.

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My Buddy, Leo, Is Singin' On Sunday

There must be a story that goes with this post. I suppose there are several, interwoven stories buried in it. Leo is a recording engineer and musical instrument repair person. And he's a musician, cancer survivor, and really nice guy. He's one of the first people I got to know when I moved to Port Angeles. It was a difficult time for me, and Leo helped it be a little easier just by being who he is. What I may not have known is that he has a nice voice and an uncanny knack of making excellent recordings of a symphony that leaves something to be desired. And he's introduced me to a few really cool people, so my circle of acquaintances has grown through knowing Leo. But I should shut up and let Leo and Lorrie sing, because they're more entertaining than my story. Richard Jehn

Lorrie Kuss and Leo Bidne

[+/-]

Foodie Friday Sunday

I meant to post this two days ago. It's a recipe designed for the day after T-day. And although I say that using smoked turkey is important, that was just my inflated ego talking a few years ago. Use the leftover turkey you have. Richard Jehn

Turkey and Cabbage Molé Enchiladas (December 1997)

This is a rich, earthy dish designed with leftover turkey, after Thanksgiving or Christmas, in mind. The molé is a traditional Mexican style and may not suit some North American tastes; however, it does provide a unique culinary experience. And you will certainly feel like you’ve been to Oaxaca after you have eaten it. It is quite important to use smoked, barbequed bird for this recipe.

For the turkey stock, put on a small pot with a smoked, barbequed turkey wing in it (a couple of wings if you're using smoked barbequed chicken, duck or capon, or if it's a small turkey - see chapter 6 for techniques), well covered with water - simmer it for about 3 hours. You can then dip out bits of stock as you need it. Dice about 2-1/2 cups of the meat from the turkey (mix dark and white meat equally, or whatever you prefer) for the enchiladas (don't use the meat used to make stock, which can be frozen for use later in a soup or stew).

4 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, sliced in half, and rehydrated
2 large cloves garlic (preferably elephant), finely diced
7 or 8 shallots, or one large onion, diced (shallots are best, if you can get them)
6 Roma tomatoes, roasted until soft, but not blackened
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coriander
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 cup of toasted and salted pumpkin seeds
1 block of semi-sweet chocolate (Baker's) or Ibarra chocolate, chopped
A dash or two of salt
Juice of 1 lime

In a small pot, sauté the finely diced shallots and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, while you are rehydrating the chiles [To rehydrate chiles, pour water that is not quite boiling over the stemmed and seeded chiles and let soak for 15 or 20 minutes.] and roasting the tomatoes in a very hot oven. Add all the spices to the frying shallots, then immediately add the now much softened and roasted tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes a bit with your wooden spoon to get some liquid in the pot. Of course, you have a cup of Richard's special barbequed, smoked turkey stock available, which you need to add to the stuff in the pot. Add the pumpkin seeds. By now, the anchos are nicely rehydrated and should be chopped into small bits and added to the mixture, along with the soaking water. [Boiling water or over-roasting the chiles will make the chiles and soaking water bitter.] Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, then stir in the chopped chocolate and keep stirring until it melts. [A word about the two recommended chocolates - Baker’s is truly semi-sweet and I prefer it for this recipe, while Ibarra is a Mexican sweet, sugary chocolate, and will still give a good result, but sweeter and a bit different.] This should be a wonderful smelling, earthy, rich, deep reddish-brown sauce. Pour it into a blender, perhaps after it has cooled for a few minutes, adding the salt and lime juice, then pulse until it turns into a pasty liquid.

Grate a cup-and-a-quarter of fresh cabbage, and add 3 medium-sized fresh diced Sandia or 2 poblano chiles (poblano chiles are frequently available at the corner market and make a fine substitute for the delicious Sandias, but since they are larger, use just two; note that in many places, fresh poblanos are called pasilla chiles). Mix the cabbage and chiles well. [Do not use jalapeños or habañeros, or any chile so hot for this dish, unless you really want spice.]

You will need 14 to 16 tortillas*, depending on how big you make each enchilada. Lightly coat the baking dish with butter, margarine or olive oil. Spread molé on the inside of each tortilla, then add turkey and the cabbage mix. Roll the tortillas and place them side-by-side in the baking dish until it is full. Pour the remaining molé over the top of the enchiladas and add 3/4 cup of turkey stock. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake them for 45 minutes at 400# F. Five minutes before they are finished baking, uncover them and crumble a half-cup of queso fresco evenly over the top of the enchiladas.

Serve with refried black beans, fresh chopped cilantro, a salsa rojo, a salsa verde, and diced onion or scallions (whichever you prefer). This will serve six adults comfortably, with the beans.

* A word about tortillas - if you have home-made, you will, of course, bake them in a dry cast-iron skillet (or on a cast-iron griddle) on the stove-top. If they are the packaged, store-bought variety, heat them for a minute a side to soften them, again without oil. I turn the burner to medium to medium-high. If you use a non-stick skillet, be cautious about making it too hot.

[+/-]

25 November 2006

Halliburton Wrecks Mexico

Iraq just wasn't enough for this all-Amerikan giant!

First Iraq, Then the World!
Halliburton Wrecks Mexico

Macaspana, Tabasco.

The billboard posted along the scrubby highway running east in sultry, southern Tabasco state displays lush jungle, a sun-dappled iguana, and a flock of dazzling macaws. "We're working for a better environment" the giant road sign radiates.

The leafy graphic contrasts starkly with the blighted scenery of this tropical state whose rivers have been contaminated, the fish envenomed, and the corn fields blasted as the acid rain drips from the polluted sky thanks to the efforts of PEMEX, the national oil monopoly and its multiple transnational sub-contractors--Tabasco holds Mexico's largest land-based petroleum deposits.

But the billboard here in Macaspana, swampy oil-rich Chontal Indian land, was not posted by the Environmental Secretariat to inspire conservationism or even by PEMEX to burnish its tarnished image. No, this pristine scene is signed off by a familiar U.S. name, in fact PEMEX's largest subcontractor: Halliburton de Mexico, the Houston-based petroleum industry titan's south-of-the-border subsidiary. Vice president Dick Cheney's old mega corps and the largest oil service provider on the planet, has been doing business in Mexico for a score of years.

The privatization of PEMEX, nationalized in 1938 after depression-era president Lazaro Cardenas expropriated Caribbean coast oil enclaves from Anglo-American owners, was right at the heart of Mexico's still-questioned July 2nd presidential election. Right-winger Felipe Calderon, a former energy secretary, is committed to selling off --or at least entering into joint agreements that would guarantee the contemporary version of the Seven Sisters a substantial quotient of Mexico's diminishing reserves (only 10 more years according to the worst case scenario.)

Read the rest of it here.

[+/-]

Israel - "We Want Full Spectrum Dominance"

Israel rejects landmark truce offer
November 24 2006 at 01:33AM
By Nidal al-Mughrabi

Gaza - Palestinian militant groups offered to stop firing rockets into Israel in exchange for a cessation of all attacks on the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, an official said on Thursday.

But an Israeli government official swiftly rejected the offer, demanding that militants lay down their weapons first.

Khader Habib, a leader of the Islamic Jihad, said the main Palestinian factions including the governing Hamas, President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah and other smaller groups reached the understanding while meeting Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

"For the good of the national Palestinian interest ... there is a position supporting calm (a ceasefire) by stopping rocket fire in return for an end to the aggression against our people in Gaza and the West Bank," Habib told reporters.

Read the rest of it here.

[+/-]

Chris Floyd and the Cost of the "War On Terror"

Giving Thanks in the Shadow of the Terror War
Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 23 November 2006

The "War on Terror" represents a horribly, monstrously wrong turn for the United States, Britain, and the world. Like its offshoot, the aggression in Iraq, the Terror War is a strategic disaster of mind-boggling proportions, a moral, political and cultural failure so immense as to be almost unfathomable, an all-corrupting, counterproductive policy of resounding stupidity. We have not even begun to comprehend the scope and depth -- and duration -- of the harm that this reckless, witless, ignorant campaign has wrought. Tyranny, bankruptcy, decay, division, murder, cowardice and deceit -- these have been the hallmarks and the products of the Terror War launched by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in supposed reaction to the criminal acts of a small gang of cranks.

Short of an all-out nuclear attack, no enemy of the United States today could have ever damaged the nation as badly as Bush has done with his Terror War. No enemy could have deranged America's core constitutional system as badly as Bush has done, turning the government into a lurid perversion of its founding principles. No enemy could have bled America's treasury as dry has Bush has done; not even World War II or the half-century of Cold War left the nation as bankrupt and debt-ridden as it is today, its economy left completely at the mercy of foreign bondholders. No enemy could have devised a better program for undermining the security, solvency and liberty of the United States than Bush's "War on Terror" has proved to be.

Read the rest here.

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The Value of a Human Life

An important ethical question is raised in this piece: Does the value of one American soldier exceed that of one Iraqi? The answer is important in that you may devalue your own life if you answer it wrongly.

Just One U.S. Soldier Outweighs 'Tens of Thousands' of Iraqis
“It is Iraqi unity itself that threatens to defeat the entire American agenda.”
Writer's Name Not Found
Translated By Nicolas Dagher
November 14, 2006
Basaer News - Iraq- Original Article (Arabic)

The life of an American soldier is more important than the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis. This is not a personal opinion, but one based on facts and truth. Simply put, everyone knows what was done by American forces after one of their soldiers was kidnapped in central Baghdad's Karada district. They rushed to launch search and rescue operations, prevented people from leaving their homes and searched inside each and every house.

For this operation they massed thousands of troops, hundreds of vehicles and dozens of aircraft, and asked all of their local collaborators to dig up any information that could lead to the location of the kidnapped American soldier. Based on newly-uncovered intelligence, American forces then widened the scope of their operations and redoubled their efforts. The Americans didn’t hesitate to bomb residential areas and homes during these operations, resulting in the deaths of Iraqis – all in an effort to find one kidnapped American.

Read it here.

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Daily Life in Iraq Is Heartbreaking

'In Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in front of my eyes. I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect. And I never saw entire families being slaughtered and killed'
Martin Fletcher, Ali Hamdani, Ned Parker

Against a backdrop of spiralling violence in Baghdad, The Times persuaded six ordinary Iraqis to visit its bureau to describe their lives. Sunni or Shia, they all had a strikingly similar tale to tell

Saad Hassam
Street cleaner
Age 23

Saad was a conscript in Saddam’s army when US tanks rolled into Baghdad in April 2003. He deserted, went home and celebrated with his family. “We were dancing. I felt like I was reborn,” he said. He dreamt of getting a job at the airport that might let him travel.

Today the eyes of this thin young man brim with tears as he recounts what actually happened.

The Americans launched an effort to clear up the rubbish around the capital. Saad risked the charge of collaboration by taking a job as a street cleaner in the Rashid district of west Baghdad for a meagre $5 a day.

That was dangerous enough, but the work became even more perilous when insurgents began seeding roads with improvised explosive devices disguised as rubbish. Street cleaners were blown up, or denounced as informers when they betrayed the location of such devices. “You can’t just turn a blind eye. If you leave them there they might kill innocent passers-by,” Saad said through an interpreter.

One morning in 2005, two cars drew up beside Saad and his four fellow sweepers and opened fire. Two of his colleagues were killed. Saad wept. “It was a bitter feeling. It was such a minor and simple job, yet you were not safe doing it,” he said.

Saad quit. Four months later his older brother and a neighbour were killed in a random attack by Sunni gunmen as they chatted with friends outside the family home in the Hey Amal district of Baghdad. A few days later gunmen opened fire on the funeral.

For a long time Saad did not go out, but eventually he and two younger brothers had to return to work as street cleaners to support their parents and three other siblings. “My friends told me I couldn’t keep going on like that and that I had to go out and start working again.” Saad has since found eight improvised bombs. He knows five street cleaners who have been killed, and hears of many more.

Two months ago Saad was caught in a car bomb as he was buying cooking gas at a petrol station near his home. He now has a festering wound on his right hand, and although a neighbour drives him to hospital, it lacks the right medicine. He cannot afford proper medical treatment and cannot work.

He has told his younger brothers to go and work in a safer area of Baghdad and, even though the pay is derisory, he will return to his old job if his hand heals — because there is no other work and the family has no other income. “Sometimes my brothers and I look at each other when we get home and laugh at what we have earned,” he said.

Saad’s dreams were dashed a long time ago. “We always say, ‘Inshallah, there will be a solution’, but realistically we can’t see any hope.” Would he like Saddam back? “Yes,” he says. “For many reasons. During Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in front of my eyes, I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect, and I never saw entire families being slaughtered and killed.”

Read it all here.

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The Cost of Doing Business

Prediction: these assholes will keep training mercenaries in Honduras until the Honduran government makes it clear, via a meaningful sanction, that they'd best stop. Twenty-five thousand bucks is nothing to these types.

Honduras fines U.S. company subsidiary, saying it illegally trained mercenaries
Published on Saturday, November 25, 2006.
Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras: The Honduran government said Friday it has fined the local subsidiary of a U.S. company US$25,000 (€19,000) for allegedly training more than 300 Hondurans and foreigners last year to work as mercenaries in Iraq.

The company Your Solutions trained 340 Hondurans, Chileans and Nicaraguans in violation of labor laws, Public Safety Department spokesman Santos Flores told a news conference.

"The fine was imposed because the company was training mercenaries, and the act of being a mercenary is a form of violating labor rights in whatever country," Flores said, adding that the company, which he said is based in Chicago, llinois, "operated without permission in Honduras." Benjamin Canales, general manager of the Honduras-based subsidiary of Your Solutions, fled the country six months ago, Flores said.

The company could not immediately be reached in Chicago for comment late Friday.

In September 2005, Canales, a retired member of the Honduran military, said the company's trainees were private security guards "not mercenaries, as some people have called them."

"These are just people who want a job, and we have offered them one," Canales said.

Friday's fine was the second action the Honduran government has taken against the company. In September 2005, authorities — citing a federal law that prohibits security and military training for foreigners on Honduran soil — said that they were deporting 211 Chileans who came to Tegucigalpa to be trained by the company.

Read it here.

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This Is Not Good News

Bayer's GMO rice safe without oversight, USDA says
Fri Nov 24, 2006 7:01pm ET140
By Missy Ryan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday formally approved a strain of genetically engineered rice whose discovery in commercial stocks earlier this year triggered a food market dispute with the European Union and Japan.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that after a thorough review of scientific evidence it will deregulate genetically engineered LLRICE601 based on the fact that it is as safe as its traditionally bred counterparts," USDA said in a statement.

Rachel Iadiciccio, a USDA spokesman, said the LLRICE601 rice had been found to be safe for the environment and could now be grown without USDA oversight.

Read it here.

[+/-]

Bobby Gates and South of the Border

We've already had a few things to say about this guy, such as here and here. We still anticipate some ugliness south of the border in the coming two years if he's approved for Defense Secretary by the Senate.

Gates Advocated Air Strikes on Nicaragua
Published on Saturday, November 25, 2006.
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- In 1984, Robert Gates, then the No. 2 CIA official, advocated U.S. airstrikes against Nicaragua's pro-Cuban government to reverse what he described as an ineffective U.S. strategy to deal with communist advances in Central America, previously classified documents say.

Gates, President Bush's nominee to be defense secretary, said the United States could no longer justify what he described as "halfhearted" attempts to contain Nicaragua's Sandinista government, according to documents released Friday by the National Security Archive, a private research group.

In a memo to CIA Director William Casey dated Dec. 14, 1984, Gates said his proposed airstrikes would be designed "to destroy a considerable portion of Nicaragua's military buildup" and be focused on tanks and helicopters.

He also recommended that the United States prevent delivery to the Sandinistas of such weapons in the future. The administration, he said, should make clear that a U.S. invasion of the country was not contemplated.

The target of Gates' anxieties was Nicaragua's leftist president, Daniel Ortega.

Ironically, Gates' nomination to succeed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was announced just days after Ortega capped off a surprise political comeback by winning election as Nicaraguan president after three previous bids were rejected by the voters.

Read the rest of it here.

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PC From the Near Future

Cheney, Rummy in a Frank Discussion of Differences at Nuremburg II

"The CIA tells me they found Saddam's fingerprints on 9/11 in a Langley, VA pumpkin patch!" said Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Hey, it's HIS fault," said Rumsfeld. "I only tortured and killed people, but he decided WHOM, so I'm not guilty. I was only following orders."

Paul Crassnerd

[+/-]

The Saturday Snapshot - The Third Good Ol' Boy

And perhaps the most infamous, or at least the one who has the distinction of an upcoming legal action against him for his misdeeds. This is a lot more hip than his regular appearance.

[+/-]

24 November 2006

The Chosen Folks

In October 2005, DRANT posted a couple of pieces about the impact that Western civilization has had and continues to have on earth. They are interesting and worth a read. Thanks to Charlie Loving for finding them for us.

Number 150

October 12, 2005
“Whether one million or 10 million or 100 million died, … the pall of sorrow that engulfed the hemisphere was immeasurable. Languages, prayers, hopes, habits, and dreams­ entire ways of life hissed away like steam. The Spanish and the Portuguese lacked the germ theory of disease and could not explain what was happening (let alone stop it). Nor can we explain it; the ruin was too long ago and too all-encompassing. In the long run, … the consequential finding is not that many people died but that many people once lived. The Americas were filled with a stunningly diverse assortment of peoples who had knocked about the continents for millennia...”
Elizabeth Fenn, cited in 1491- An article by CHARLES MANN in The Atlantic of March 2002


This article, and Mann’s new book provided much of the data contained in the following. Pls see below for more information and links. Brilliant stuff.
To honor Columbus Day, let us pause for a short moment of appropriate reverence to recall the Wondrous Gifts we White People have -- in our bottomless generosity – bestowed and continue to bestow on uncountable Godless Savages throughout history.

First among these surely is Wondrous Gift #1- the gift of immeasurable Human Arrogance.
The notion that Humans are the last, ultimate, and unimprovable final step in Evolution.
That Humans have been granted Dominion over The Earth and all of its beings and creations and inhabitants.
That every Thing on earth is Human property, and belongs to Humans to do with as they wish.

In 1491, few Americans had imagined this.
In 1491, most Americans (not all, but most), largely shared the notion that all of Earth’s beings co-existed, each with a place in the Universe, each infused with the timeless Spirit of our Creation.
In 1491, most Americans had no idea that anything on Earth could actually be owned, or that any parcel of Earth could be claimed as exclusive personal property.
Well what can one expect from half naked Heathens?

Read it here. The pair of articles continues with this article, titled "White Man".

[+/-]

Climate Change

Drastic Action on Climate Change is Needed Now - and Here's the Plan
By George Monbiot
Nov 24, 2006, 17:04

The government must go further, and much faster, in its response to the moral question of the 21st century.

It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern's report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn't mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds. As Stern reminded us yesterday, there would be a moral imperative to seek to prevent mass death even if the economic case did not stack up.

But at least almost everyone now agrees that we must act, if not at the necessary speed. If we're to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. The greater part of the cut has to be made at the beginning of this period. To see why, picture two graphs with time on the horizontal axis and the rate of emissions plotted vertically. On one graph the line falls like a ski jump: a steep drop followed by a shallow tail. On the other it falls like the trajectory of a bullet. The area under each line represents the total volume of greenhouse gases produced in that period. They fall to the same point by the same date, but far more gases have been produced in the second case, making runaway climate change more likely.

So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action that the government could take. It goes much further than the proposals discussed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown yesterday, for the reason that this is what the science demands.

Read it here.

[+/-]

Badger on Extrication from Iraq

Superficiality of the US debate suggests a worse catastrophe could be coming

Al-Hayat printed yesterday (Thursday November 23) an opinion piece whose argument goes like this:

Everyone recognizes that the Iraq policy was based on lies (AlQaeda, WMD and so on), but what is now under discussion is merely how to extricate the troops, and not the formation of a policy freed from those lies.

In fact there is another swindle going on, namely that lying and lawbreaking of the type that the Bush administration indulged in is nothing more than what you can see in the Dirty Harry pictures where the heroic detective breaks the law in order to catch the criminal. (In this case, in order to replace dictatorship with democracy).

Not only that. As befits a great nation with an intellectual infrastructure, the lies are anchored to a quasi-scientific set of arguments. (Terrorists are bred and thrive mainly because they live under dictatorial regimes, etcetera) . Naturally there isn't any point in refuting these assumptions and arguments, because their proponents don't let reality bother them. We know that AlQaeda came to Iraq with the occupation and achieved unprecedented expansion thereafter, but that doesn't matter.

And then suddenly and without prior warning or justification, the great nation then shifted to a polarizing, cold-war model, justifying its alliance with any regime, of any character whatsoever, based only on its contribution to the "war on terror". The enemy are "nazis and fascists", and the war against them is a world-wide affair. And this wasn't just some momentary reaction to a threat, which would naturally lack a certain degree of precision. Rather, his was a deliberately created framework usable to justify any number of things, just as you would expect in a world war against naziism and fascism.

Read it here.

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