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Monday, December 30, 2002

 
The Push for War
(Anatol Lieven, London Review of Books, 3 Ocbober 2002)
Must Reading to Understand Contemporary Washington
They [the hardline nationalists in the Administration] are, however, still determined on war - and their power within the Administration and in the US security policy world means that they are very likely to get their way. Even the Washington Post has joined the radical rightist media in supporting war. . . . The most surprising thing about the push for war is that it is so profoundly reckless. . . . the longer-term gains for the US look pretty limited, whereas the consequences of failure would be catastrophic. A general Middle Eastern conflagration and the collapse of more pro-Western Arab states would lose us the war against terrorism, doom untold thousands of Western civilians to death in coming decades, and plunge the world economy into depression. . . . a large part of the old Republican security establishment has denounced the idea and the Pentagon has made its deep unhappiness very clear. . . . To understand the Administration's motivation, it is necessary to appreciate the breathtaking scope of the domestic and global ambitions which the dominant neo-conservative nationalists hope to further by means of war, and which go way beyond their publicly stated goals. . . . the basic and generally agreed plan is unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority, and this has been consistently advocated and worked on by the group of intellectuals close to Dick Cheney and Richard Perle since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. . . . This basic goal is shared by Colin Powell and the rest of the security establishment. . . . However, the idea of pre-emptive defence, now official doctrine, takes this a leap further, much further than Powell would wish to go. In principle, it can be used to justify the destruction of any other state if it even seems that that state might in future be able to challenge the US. . . . For the group around Cheney, the single most important consideration is guaranteed and unrestricted access to cheap oil, controlled as far as possible at its source. To destroy and occupy the existing Iraqi state and dominate the region militarily would remove even the present limited threat from Opec, greatly reduce the chance of a new oil shock, and eliminate the need to woo and invest in Russia as an alternative source of energy. . . . It would also critically undermine the steps already taken towards the development of alternative sources of energy. . . . as alternative technologies develop, they could become a real threat to the oil lobby - which, like the Israeli lobby, is deeply intertwined with the Bush Administration. War with Iraq can therefore be seen as a satisfactory outcome for both lobbies. Much more important for the future of mankind, it is also part of what is in essence a strategy to use American military force to permit the continued offloading onto the rest of the world of the ecological costs of the existing US economy - without the need for any short-term sacrifices on the part of US capitalism, the US political elite or US voters. . . . The idea, in other words, is to scare these states not only into helping with the hunt for al-Qaida, but into capitulating to the US and, more important, Israeli agendas in the Middle East. . . . They [Bush and Sharon] are obsessed by power, by the division of the world into friends and enemies (and often, into their own country and the rest of the world) and by the belief that any demonstration of 'weakness' immediately leads to more radical approaches by the 'enemy'. . . . The planned war against Iraq is not after all intended only to remove Saddam Hussein, but to destroy the structure of the Sunni-dominated Arab nationalist Iraqi state as it has existed since that country's inception. The 'democracy' which replaces it will presumably resemble that of Afghanistan - a ramshackle coalition of ethnic groups and warlords, utterly dependent on US military power and utterly subservient to US (and Israeli) wishes. . . . the goal would be not just to remove the Saudi regime and eliminate Wahabism as a state ideology: it would be to destroy and partition the Saudi state. The Gulf oilfields would be put under US military occupation, and the region run by some client emir; Mecca and the Hejaz might well be returned to the Hashemite dynasty of Jordan, its rulers before the conquest by Ibn Saud in 1924; or, to put it differently, the British imperial programme of 1919 would be resurrected . . . it's worth bearing in mind that the dominant groups in this Administration have now openly abandoned the underlying strategy and philosophy of the Clinton Administration, which was to integrate the other major states of the world in a rule-based liberal capitalist order, thereby reducing the threat of rivalry between them. . . . And while this web of ambition is megalomaniac, it is not simply fantasy. Given America's overwhelming superiority, it might well work for decades until a mixture of terrorism and the unbearable social, political and environmental costs of US economic domination put paid to the present order of the world. . . . Two strategies in particular would give the Republicans the chance . . . The first is the classic modern strategy of an endangered right-wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism. The second, which is specifically American, is to take the Jewish vote away from its traditional home in the Democratic Party, by demonstrating categorical Republican commitment not just to Israel's defence but to its regional ambitions. . . . It marks a radical change from the old Republican Party of Eisenhower, Nixon and Bush père, which was far more independent of Israel than the Democrats. Of key importance here has been the growing alliance between the Christian Right - closely linked to the old White South - and the Israeli lobby, or at least its hardline Likud elements. . . . For Christian fundamentalists today the influence of millenarian thought is equally important in shaping support for Israel: the existence of the Israeli state is seen as a necessary prelude to the arrival of the Antichrist, the Apocalypse and the rule of Christ and His Saints. . . . The Cold War led to the creation of governmental, economic and intellectual structures in the US which require for their survival a belief in the existence of powerful national enemies - not just terrorists, but enemy states. As a result, in their analyses and propaganda they instinctively generate the necessary image of an enemy. . . . the great majority of the American people are not nearly as militarist, imperialist or aggressive as their German equivalents in 1914; but most German people in 1914 would at least have been able to find France on a map. . . . The younger intelligentsia meanwhile has also been stripped of any real knowledge of the outside world by academic neglect of history and regional studies in favour of disciplines which are often no more than a crass projection of American assumptions and prejudices. . . . this leaves the intelligentsia vulnerable to the appeal of nationalist messianism dressed up in the supposedly benevolent clothing of 'democratisation'. . . . What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind.

posted by Lorenzo 10:15 AM


Friday, December 20, 2002

 
Terrorists on the Net? Who Cares?
(Noah Shachtman, Wired.com, December 20, 2002)
Online attacks are merely "weapons of mass annoyance," no more harmful than the routine power failures, airplane delays and dropped phone calls that take place every day. . . . "The idea that hackers are going to bring the nation to its knees is too far-fetched a scenario to be taken seriously," . . . "Infrastructure systems (are) more flexible and responsive in restoring service than the early analysts realized, in part because they have to deal with failure on a routine basis." . . . Take the electrical grid, often cited as a bright red bull's-eye in terrorists' sights. The panoply of public and private power providers -- more than 3,000 in all -- has been nearly impossible to take down by electronic attack, Lewis wrote. The network is just too far-flung. . . . But for the most part, he contends, the damage from such attacks will be minimal -- even as the Pentagon adopts a more network-centric way of fighting terrorism. . . . "No nation has placed its military forces in a position where they are dependent on computer networks that are vulnerable to outside attack," he writes. "For example, while there were many attacks against U.S. military computer networks during operations in Kosovo, none of these attacks resulted in a single sortie being canceled or in a single casualty."

posted by Lorenzo 6:13 PM

 
California orders mass arrests of Muslim foreigners
(Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, 20 December 2002)
Hundreds of Middle Eastern and North African men, some just 16, have been hauled into custody across southern California in the past few days, enraging civil liberties groups and drawing comparisons with the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. . . . The round-ups in Los Angeles, San Diego and suburban Orange County were part of a counter-terrorism initiative by the Bush administration, requiring men and teenagers from specific countries to register with the immigration authorities and have their fingerprints taken. Several thousand citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan – many of them accompanied by lawyers – willingly came forward across southern California to meet Monday's deadline. . . . However, as many as a quarter of them – estimates vary between 500 and 1,000 people – were arrested on the basis of apparently minor visa violations and herded into jail cells . . . Both the lawyers and the southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the round-up as an outrage that did not advance the fight against terrorism one inch and very possibly hindered it. At a public demonstration in Los Angeles on Wednesday, at least 3,000 protesters waved signs saying "What next? Concentration camps?" and "Detain terrorists, not innocent immigrants". . . . In one case, a 16-year-old boy was ripped from his mother's arms and told he would never return home. The mother is a legal resident married to an American citizen. Many of the detainees came from Los Angeles' large Iranian Jewish population and are highly unlikely to have any link to militant Islamic guerrilla groups. . . . The registration scheme was conceived by President Bush's ultra-conservative Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and had already come under criticism for what opponents call blatant discrimination.

posted by Lorenzo 6:04 PM


Thursday, December 19, 2002

 
G8 Countries Call for Biometric Data of all Travelers to be Recorded and Stored - Heise Online - [12.12.2002 12:08 ]
The eight industrial countries that regularly meet as the G8 Group[1] intend to make the security industry a gift of a very special kind. Nothing less than the upgrading of the passports of all travelers worldwide with biometric features is what the grand get-together has in mind. heise online is on possession of a planning protocol to that effect confirming the "universality," "urgency" and "technical reliability" of the concept. The immigration experts of the group of states have already agreed on an initial list of principles. This -- together with projects to create a comprehensive databank about the exchange of child pornography, as well as projects on the employment of undercover investigators -- is to be completed during the first meeting of the group of major powers under the future presidency of France at the beginning of 2003 and then implemented with the aid of international standardization bodies. In the paper the G8 working group emphatically recommends the development of a "complete, common technical interoperability standard," upon the basis of which all nations of this world are to introduce the machine-reading of identity papers with biometric features. The working group reckons that this measure will enhance the capacity to fight international terrorism. At the same time the experts are fanning the fear that a delay in the implementation of such a global, interoperable system would "unnecessarily increase the risks to our populations." The G8 suggestions read in large part like a massive brochure of the growth industry that has sprung up around biometrics, which ever since September 11th can hope to garner major orders of ever increasing size. The costs alone of building the infrastructure that will ensure the readability of visas with biometric features, which will be officially required to enter the United States from next year on, are calculated to amount to 3.2 billion US dollars.

posted by A Curmudgeon 11:47 AM

 
U.S. Broke Law in Use Of Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan
(Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, 18 December 2002)
The U.S. military violated international law in Afghanistan by indiscriminately dropping cluster bombs on populated areas, killing at least 25 civilians and injuring numerous others, Human Rights Watch said in a report scheduled for release today. . . . "While U.S. modifications in targeting and technology appear to have reduced the adverse humanitarian side effects of the cluster bombs used in Afghanistan to some degree," the Human Rights Watch report said, "the weapon still poses a danger to civilians in future conflicts because of its broad footprint, lack of accuracy, and high number of explosive duds left behind." . . . Dropped from an aircraft, a cluster bomb releases 202 bomblets at a preset altitude. The bomblets float down to the battlefield on tiny parachutes and detonate when they hit the ground, spraying an oval area as large as 400 feet by 800 feet with steel fragments designed to kill people, molten slugs that penetrate tanks and incendiary fragments that can burn through metal vehicles. . . . "When cluster bombs are used in civilian areas, the U.S. is not doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties," said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director. "Cluster bombs are the only 'dumb' weapons that the Pentagon still uses in populated areas. When a modern Air Force has precision weapons in significant supply, it has a duty to use them when civilians are nearby." . . . The group estimated that at least 12,400 unexploded bomblets remain on the ground, using what the group said was the Pentagon's "conservative" dud rate of 5 percent.

posted by Lorenzo 11:09 AM

 
Carlyle Group Buys Chunk of CSX
(William Spain, CBS.MarketWatch.com, 17 December, 2002)
transportation giant CSX announced that it would sell a majority stake in its domestic container shipping unit -- CSX Lines -- to the Carlyle Group for approximately $240 million in cash and $60 million in securities. . . . CSX Lines, which moves goods between the continental United States and Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico, accounted for about 8 percent of the company's $8 billion in revenues last year. . . . The Carlyle Group is headed by Frank Carlucci, former secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. Other prominent players at the private global investment firm include William E. Kennard, former FCC chairman, Arthur Levitt, former SEC chairman, James Baker, III, former secretary of state, and John Major, former prime minister of Great Britain. . . . Former president Bush has also lobbied Saudi Arabia on behalf of Carlyle Group.

posted by Lorenzo 11:05 AM

 
If Arabs mistrust America, there's good reason
(Raymond Close, International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2002)
This is an excellent account of personal betrayals by Nixon and Kissinger when they went back on their word to King Faisal, promising to support Resolution 242. The author was the CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia at the time.

posted by Lorenzo 10:26 AM

 
The name of the game is assassination
(Tony Geraghty and David Leigh, The Guardian, December 19, 2002)
Israeli hardliners had the pleasure this week of seeing their controversial tactic of "targeted killing" of their enemies vindicated by being imitated. For it has emerged that their close allies in the US administration have now drawn up a target list for a systematic policy of assassination against those they call terrorists. . . . It was Israel that pioneered the use of the Hellfire missile for summary executions such as the US carried out last month in Yemen. . . . The US's recent technical contribution has been to marry Israel's novel use of Hellfire with unmanned drones. The Predator was conceived in 1994 as a spy plane, operated from a safe position by a member of the "joystick generation" - and three others managing cameras and communications. . . . The joint office, to be based in Washington, would involve a communications link between the proposed US department of homeland defence and the Israeli government, it was explained. Visa policies, terrorist profiles and other internal security data - except classified intelligence - would be swapped by computer, fax and telephone. The topic of the US-Israeli meeting was confirmed as "homeland security". Mr Landau said: "Israel is a laboratory for fighting terror." . . . Following the Yemen attack - what the Pentagon apparently hopes was the first of many successful operations - the third of the Pentagon's trio of hawks, deputy secretary Paul Wolfowitz, told CNN the killing was regarded as "a very successful tactical operation". . . . That opinion seems likely to be cheered to the echo in an embattled Israel. But others will regard with profound alarm this latest systematisation of murder.

posted by Lorenzo 10:07 AM


Wednesday, December 18, 2002

 
Please Return The Radioactive Device: A Humble Message from the Canadian Authorities
By J.J. Johnson - The Sierra Times
Published 12. 17. 02 at 22:39 Sierra Time
If we were to ask, "if anyone within view of this message is in possession of that missing radioactive device, please return it." do you think we'd get very many responses? We didn't think so, either. But we'll give it a try anyway. Here's what we know: It happened in Surrey, British Columbia. A device -- called a Troxler Nuclear Densometer was reported missing. It's apparently used to x-ray concrete. The catch - it's radioactive. And those lovely folks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Maple Leaf flavored FBI) are asking folks to help locate the thing. If you do find it, they ask that you not touch it - might be dangerous. Although, after you read the next lines, you might suspect the thieves knew that. It's stored in a yellow case about the size of a tool box. The device and other tools were in a Mazda truck when it was stolen on December 6. The truck has been found - empty of course. So, if the person reading this has this item hidden under their bed or tucked into their shorts, please return it. Yes, we know what some of you are thinking: cyanide missing in Mexico, nuclear devices in Canada, and Lord only knows what's missing from Russia - or the US, for that matter. It may be ruining your holiday season, but get used to it. We are at war - against our own shadow.
© 2002 SierraTimes.com (unless otherwise noted)




posted by A Curmudgeon 12:05 PM


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

 
Pentagon Plan for Covert Propaganda War Against U.S. Allies
(Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 16 December 2002)
The Defense Department is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries, senior Pentagon and administration officials say. . . . which has ignited a fierce battle throughout the Bush administration over whether the military should carry out secret propaganda missions in friendly nations like Germany . . . Such a program, for example, could include efforts to discredit and undermine the influence of mosques and religious schools that have become breeding grounds for Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. It might even include setting up schools with secret American financing to teach a moderate Islamic position laced with sympathetic depictions of how the religion is practiced in America, officials said. . . . As a military officer put it: "We have the assets and the capabilities and the training to go into friendly and neutral nations to influence public opinion. We could do it and get away with it." . . . But the idea of ordering the military to take psychological aim at allies has divided the Pentagon -- with civilians and uniformed officers on both sides of the debate. . . . Some are troubled by suggestions that the military might pay journalists to write stories favorable to American policies or hire outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of American policies.

posted by Lorenzo 5:49 AM


Sunday, December 15, 2002

 
The Bush Team Plan for Total War ... secret report revealed
(John Pilger, 12 Dec 2002)
The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". . . . One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now." . . . Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan's education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists of American terrorism. . . . The PNAC's seminal report, Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American aims . . . It said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. . . . A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated. . . . On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". . . . Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In last April's New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she had called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them "to think about 'how do you capitalise on these opportunities'", which she compared with those of "1945 to 1947": the start of the cold war. . . . The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states "if necessary". Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and chemical warfare. . . . military analyst William Arkin describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed. This "super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the "CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception". According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks which would then require "counter-attack" by the United States on countries "harbouring the terrorists". . . . You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power.

posted by Lorenzo 9:16 AM


Friday, December 13, 2002

 
Bush isn't a moron, he's a cunning sociopath
(Bev Conover, Online Journal)
If any of us are to have a future worth having . . . [we] had better start seeing George W. Bush for what he is: a sociopath and a passive serial killer. . . . As governor of Texas, he set a record in signing death warrants—154 in five years. He even made fun of the way convicted killer Karla Faye Tucker begged for her life. . . . If we believe the psychiatrists, a sign of a future serial killer is a child who delights in torturing and killing animals. George W., as a child, did exactly that. . . . 'Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.' . . . the corporate media blew it off, just as it had no interest in what he was trying to hide by obtaining a new Texas driver license and his 1976 drunk driving conviction, or the fact he was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. . . . And as Bush had Afghanistan bombed back beyond the Stone Age to rid the world of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, then switched to claiming it was the Taliban that had to go, then declared there was an "axis of evil" and it was really Saddam Hussein who was the "mother of all evil" and that war with Iraq was in the offing to get rid of Saddam, the corporate media cheered him on and to this day continues to beat the war drum. They have yet to consider that the passive serial killer needs to feed his lust for blood by sending others to put their lives on the line and do the killing for him. . . . "Some among Bush's trusted White House staff fear what they are seeing and where Bush is taking us. His state of mind hauntingly reminds them of Richard Nixon's Final Days. They fear Bush is becoming Nixonesque . . . or worse. Although Bush lacks Nixon's paranoia, he may entertain even more dangerous notions." . . . ""Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss." . . . When he tries to talk about what this country stands for, or about democracy, he can't do it." . . . "He's a very angry guy, a hostile guy. He's much like Nixon. So they're very, very careful to choreograph every move he makes. They don't want him anywhere near protestors, because he would lose his temper," Miller said. . . . Bush must be stopped now, before he sets the world aflame. And set it aflame is what he intends to do, even if Iraq has no "weapons of mass destruction" or Saddam stands on his head, naked, on the White House lawn.

posted by Lorenzo 1:20 PM

 
Vatican accused of putting fear of scandal ahead of child safety
(The Scotsman, 12 December 2002)
THE Vatican was facing the threat of being directly drawn into the Catholic Church’s Boston abuse scandal yesterday, after campaigners claimed they had a document which indicated that Rome’s policy stressed avoiding scandal over the safety of children. . . . Pope John Paul II said a defrocked Catholic priest who had a history of molesting boys should leave the areas where his "condition" was known - or stay put as long as it caused no scandal. . . . Joseph Gallagher, co-founder of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors in Wellesley, Massachusetts, said the newly-released document was the "smoking gun" that spelled out the Vatican’s policy of placing image ahead of child welfare. . . . "That would explain why (other) bishops have done the same thing as Cardinal Law - they’ve moved sexual offenders from parish to parish without notifying the parishioners," he said.

posted by Lorenzo 12:37 PM

 
The American administration is a bloodthirsty wild animal
(Harold Pinter, Telegraph, 11-12-02)
"If you are not with us, you are against us," President George W. Bush has said. He has also said: "We will not allow the world's worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders." Quite right. Look in the mirror, chum. That's you. . . . America is at this moment developing advanced systems of "weapons of mass destruction" and is prepared to use them where it sees fit. It has more of them than the rest of the world put together. It has walked away from international agreements on biological and chemical weapons, refusing to allow inspection of its own factories. The hypocrisy behind its public declarations and its own actions is almost a joke. . . . The atrocity in New York was predictable and inevitable. It was an act of retaliation against constant and systematic manifestations of state terrorism on the part of America over many years, in all parts of the world. . . . The planned war against Iraq is in fact a plan for premeditated murder of thousands of civilians in order, apparently, to rescue them from their dictator. . . . America and Britain are pursuing a course that can lead only to an escalation of violence throughout the world and finally to catastrophe. . . . the American administration is now a bloodthirsty wild animal. Bombs are its only vocabulary. Many Americans, we know, are horrified by the posture of their government, but seem to be helpless. . . . Unless Europe finds the solidarity, intelligence, courage and will to challenge and resist American power, Europe itself will deserve Alexander Herzen's declaration - "We are not the doctors. We are the disease".

posted by Lorenzo 8:29 AM


Thursday, December 12, 2002

 
December 24th, World Sousveillance Day ... watching the watchers
More privacy and less secrecy . . . At noon on Tuesday, December 24, 2002, ordinary people all over the world will call into question the growing and dehumanizing effects of increased video surveillance, automated face recognition, and Covernment (Corporate+Government) tracking in public places, as well as private places.
Often Covernment officials that use video surveillance try to prohibit others from taking pictures or video within their establishments or regimes, but on this day, many people will photograph these officials, their establishments, and their security systems. . . . As high noon sweeps past various time zones, the shot heard around the world will be that of clicking cameras. . . . Rather than protesting by carrying signs, or by marching, citizens will protest by going on shooting sprees. Armed with their own photographic or videographic cameras and recording devices, ordinary citizens will dish out some accountability. . . . Taking pictures of the surveillance cameras will cause models to appear very quickly for you to photograph. When you point your camera at their cameras, the officials watching their television monitors will very quickly dispatch the models for you to shoot. This is a universal phenomenon that happens in nearly any large organization where video surveillance is used. Models often carry two--way radios and wear navy blue uniforms with special badges. Most will be eager to pose close to your camera, especially the hand models. They will reach out to you. They want to get close to you. They will crave the glamour of your camera. They will reach out and touch you, or place their hands over your camera lens so you can get a closup picture of their photogenic fingerprints. . . . This is a day when security forces are very busy watching for shoplifters, and it is also a time when folks are reflecting on the year's activity and it's something to do rather than merely buying something. It's also a time of year when many people go back to their home towns, to visit friends and relatives. For many students, exams are over, but courses start again in January (a good time to show off some great holiday pictures). It's a time to stop spending, and instead to add to the frantic state of panic and start shooting!

posted by Lorenzo 5:04 PM

 
Bush's frightening Middle East appointment
(Gary Kamiya, Salon.com, December 10, 2002)
By naming Iran-contra rogue Elliott Abrams its top policy advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House is signaling a hard pro-Sharon line that could prove disastrous. . . . What crook, rogue and hard-line reprobate from the Republicans' glory years will President George W. Bush exhume next? It's hard to say -- he seems to have already hired them all. . . . There's Henry Kissinger, Machiavellian master of secrecy and deceit, architect of the horrific air war against Laos and Cambodia . . . There's Admiral John "to the best of my recollection, I can't recall" Poindexter, who ran the illegal and disgraceful Iran-Contra project . . . And now there's Elliott Abrams, another major Iran-contra villain who was convicted of lying to Congress (this résumé seems to be virtually required for Bush appointees lately), but was saved from iron sorrows by Bush the First, who pardoned him on Christmas Eve. . . . Recently, however, Abrams has been promoted to one of the most crucial jobs in the administration: making NSC policy on the Middle East.

posted by Lorenzo 10:58 AM

 
Palestinians Expose Israeli Plot to Create Fake Al-Qaeda Cell in Gaza
(IslamOnline & News Agencies (islamonline.net). Redistributed via Press International News Agency (PINA))
GAZA CITY - Palestinian security forces accused Israeli intelligence agents Saturday, December 7, of trying to set up a mock Al-Qaeda cell in the Gaza Strip following the Jewish states accusations Osama bin Ladens network was active in the fenced-in coastal area. . . . The Gaza Strips head of preventive security, Colonel Rashid Abu Shbak, told journalists that Israeli agents, posing as operatives of Bin Ladens network, recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. . . . Over the past nine months, weve been investigating eight cases in which Israeli intelligence posing as Al-Qaeda operatives recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," said Abu Shbak. . . . He said that three Palestinians had been detained, while another 11 were let go because they came and informed us of this Israeli plot. . . . The Shin Beth - Israeli internal intelligence - has the means to do whatever it wants. . . . The money was provided by Palestinian collaborators with Israel directly to the new recruits or was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel, Shbak said. . . . Abu Shbaks revelations came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged Al-Qaeda militants were operating in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, raising fears of an intensification of Israeli military operations. . . . This allegation by Sharon was considered a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops. . . . accused Sharon of trying to piggyback on the U.S.-led war against terrorism to justify more attacks on the Palestinian people and violence in the Gaza Strip. . . . While recognizing Israels legitimate right to fight terrorism, the E.U. has consistently rejected Israeli methods of extra-judicial killings and house demolitions and Israels excessive use of force, it said.



posted by Lorenzo 10:54 AM


Tuesday, December 10, 2002

 
US, Canada make security pact
Agreement allows Washington to send troops over border
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff
MONTREAL - A pact signed by Ottawa and Washington yesterday may allow for the deployment of United States armed forces on Canadian soil in the event of a terrorist attack or other large-scale emergency. Although billed by Canadian authorities as a sort of mutual assistance program between good neighbors, the agreement comes as this country's armed forces are teetering toward insolvency and so reduced in size and firepower that Canada, which played a heroic role in crushing Nazi Germany, is considered incapable today of fighting even a small conflict on its own behalf. Neither do most military analysts consider Canada any longer capable of contributing in an important way as a military ally of the United States or Britain in overseas operations. The agreement created a joint planning group that will spell out standards for ''cross-border'' military operations in the event of a terrorist attack or other calamity. The pact means that for the first time Ottawa has agreed, in principle, that US troops could enter Canadian territory to assist police and firefighters in an emergency - a notion that would have been nearly unthinkable prior to the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The plan is highly controversial in a country sensitive to any sacrifice of sovereignty to its superpower neighbor. But Defense Minister John McCallum said at a news conference in Ottawa that Canada has little choice but to work closely with the United States. The pact, he said, ''puts us in a position to work with the United States on plans to defend North America - plans the United States would otherwise be developing without us.''

*****WTF??? I gave Ottawa more credit than they obviously deserved...At this rate, the new nation of the United States of North America will exist within 5 years. Mexico is next...Dubya even speaks the language like an immigrant...*****

posted by A Curmudgeon 1:08 PM


Monday, December 09, 2002

 
Serbia again fails to elect president
By Dusan Stojanovic - ASSOCIATED PRESS
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Serbia failed for a second time to elect a president yesterday, as too few voters showed up to cast ballots, deepening a political crisis in the dominant Yugoslav republic, according to exit polls. The Center for Free Elections and Democracy, an independent group of observers, said turnout was around 45 percent, about the same as when the vote failed in October for not meeting the required 50 percent turnout. "We can definitely say" the elections failed, said Zoran Lucic, a group spokesman.


posted by A Curmudgeon 12:05 PM


Thursday, December 05, 2002

 
Terror bill passed in NSW
The Age - Wednesday 4 December 2002
Laws giving police sweeping new powers during terrorist emergencies were passed by the NSW parliament today amid claims they were unconstitutional. Despite challenges from the opposition and crossbenchers, the NSW upper house voted 27 to 7 to pass the government's Terrorism (Police Powers) Bill 2002 in its entirety. The new laws give police more power to search people, vehicles and premises for seven days to prevent a terrorist attack, or for up to 48 hours after an incident has occurred.



posted by A Curmudgeon 8:39 AM


Wednesday, December 04, 2002

 
A war that can't be won
(Seumas Milne, The Guardian, November 21, 2002)
This time last year, supporters of George Bush's war on terror were in euphoric mood. . . . One year on, the crowing has long since faded away; reality has sunk in. . . . After a year of US military operations in Afghanistan and around the world, the CIA director George Tenet had to concede that the threat from al-Qaida and associated jihadist groups was as serious as before September 11. . . . In other words, the global US onslaught had been a complete failure . . . in Afghanistan itself, the record is just as dismal. By using the heroin-financed gangsters of the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban regime and pursue al-Qaida remnants ever since, the US has handed over most of the country to the same war criminals who devastated Afghanistan in the early 1990s. . . . the return of the warlords has meant harsh political repression, lawlessness, mass rape and widespread torture, the bombing or closure of schools, as well as Taliban-style policing of women's dress and behaviour. . . . The death toll exacted for this "liberation" can only be estimated. But a consensus is growing that around 3,500 Afghan civilians were killed by US bombing (which included the large-scale use of depleted uranium weapons), with up to 10,000 combatants killed and many more deaths from cold and hunger as a result of the military action. Now, long after the war was supposed to be over, the US 82nd airborne division is reported to be alienating the population in the south and east with relentless but largely fruitless raids and detentions, while mortar and rocket attacks on US bases are now taking place at least three times a week. As General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, puts it, the US military campaign in Afghanistan has "lost momentum". . . . Now, even as "phase one" of its war on terror has been seen to have failed, the US shows every sign of preparing to launch phase two: its long-planned invasion and occupation of Iraq. . . . what is certain about such an act of aggression is that it will fuel Islamist terrorism throughout the world and make attacks on those countries which support it much more likely. . . . by throwing Britain's weight behind a flagrantly unjust war, our political leaders would certainly be held responsible for endangering their own people.

posted by Lorenzo 4:27 PM


Tuesday, December 03, 2002

 
Why Not Let Iran Institute Democracy in Iraq
(Noam Chomsky, Dissident Voice, November 18 ,2002)
The dedicated efforts of the Bush administration to take control of Iraq – by war, military coup or some other means – have elicited various analyses of the guiding motives. the Bush administration's efforts conform to "the classic modern strategy of an endangered right-wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism" through fear of external enemies. . . . The administration's goal, Lieven says, is "unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority", which is why much of the world is so frightened. . . . But the administration has overlooked a simple alternative to invading Iraq. Let Iran do it. . . . September 11 provided an opportunity and pretext to implement long-standing plans to take control of Iraq's immense oil wealth, a central component of the Persian Gulf resources that the State Department in 1945 described as a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history". . . . The modest proposal is for the US to encourage Iran to invade Iraq, providing the Iranians with the necessary logistical and military support, from a safe distance (missiles, bombs, bases, etc). As a proxy, one pole of "the axis of evil" would take on another. . . . Iran surely has far better credentials for war-making, and for running a post-Saddam Iraq, than Washington. Unlike the Bush administration, Iran has no record of support for the murderous Saddam and his program of weapons of mass destruction. . . . Granted, the modest proposal that Iran liberate Iraq is insane. Its only merit is that it is far more reasonable than the plans now being implemented – or it would be, if the administration's professed goals had any relation to the real ones.

posted by Lorenzo 4:35 PM


Sunday, December 01, 2002

 
Osama's Puppet Boy, King George of the Bush
(James Kent, Tripzine.com)
I can envision the scene in my head, a courier on a motorcycle burns down a pocked and dusty road, comes to a stop at a camouflaged hideout, runs quickly inside and bows before his master's feet. "Oh great one," he says to his sworn leader Osama. "The American's have done it. I have seen it on Al-Jazeera myself. They have finally passed the Homeland Security Bill!" . . . Just why is Osama tickled? Because this is exactly what he wanted all along. The terror attacks themselves were just a prod . . . Osama knows that in his craven, lily-livered, white-knuckled fear, George W. Bush has single-handedly lead our great nation into the dismantling of our own constitution. It seems strange that an act of terrorism committed by a gang of well-funded desert thugs could bring an end to over two centuries of freedoms in our country, but that's exactly what Osama has done. He pulled it off masterfully, and Georgie Boy danced like a puppet on Osama's string, pulling the whole country along into his misguided crusade to make us all safe again. . . . Despite all the huff and chest-pounding over the "anti-terrorist" powers granted by our shiny new police state legislation, the only people who are going to be under more scrutiny are you and I, the hapless citizens of the United States who have just allowed our most cherished privacies to be stripped away. . . . Terrorists do not subscribe to magazines or make credit card purchases at the mall, nor do they care who is tapping their phones or monitoring their web browsing or why. . . . We sit and stare in disbelief, trying to convince ourselves that "Total Information Awareness" is not such a bad thing, even as the guys on the nightly news casually toss around terms like "Police State" and "Big Brother." The glorious information age has finally delivered us into the most sophisticated surveillance lock-down we could have ever imaged, and it's all thanks to a puppet-master named Osama.

posted by Lorenzo 10:01 AM


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