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Go F*ck Yourself, Mr. President
(Justin Raimondo, AntiWar.com, November 26, 2003)
I am so sick of George W. Bush: sick of his petulant preppie voice, sick of his studied belligerence, and, most of all, damned sick of his threats. If we don't toe the line and support his crazed foreign policy of "preemptive self-defense," he constantly claims, we will reap the whirlwind. As he puts it in a recent television ad paid for by the Republican National Committee: "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." . . . Well, then, how come we're fighting in Iraq � thousands of miles away from the scene of the terrorists' target? Instead of kicking the shit out of Iraqi POWs, why aren't those Army reservists inspecting each and every crate that comes into this country? One vial, one canister, one crate � yes, and if it gets through, Georgie boy, we're gonna hold you responsible! . . . Like everything else about his Presidency, this line � taken from his State of the Union address � is a lie. In the speech, you'll remember, he flubbed this line, pausing uncertainly before the word "vial," and then pronouncing it as if it were "while." But in the ad, the presidential pronunciation is perfect, and there is no uncertainty: the pause has been edited out. "Cut and pasted," according to Republican officials. Yeah, just like the "intelligence" they used to justify the Iraq war. . . . The makers of this ad have entitled it "Reality," which they apparently believe is infinitely malleable, averring: "Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists." . . . This is a flat-out lie. Critics of the Iraq war are attacking the President for not attacking the terrorists � for ignoring Osama bin Laden and, instead, going after the tinpot tyrant of a fifth-rate military power, because, as deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz put it, it was "doable." . . . We must act, even if the threat is nonexistent � because of the potential danger. If "self-defense" consists of necessary "preemption," then what would happen if we started acting on this Bushian principle domestically? After all, killers, robbers, and rapists don't announce their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike. Why not just jail them before they have a chance to commit a crime? This principle, if applied within the U.S., would lead straight to totalitarian rule. Applied abroad, it means perpetual war. . . . For the President to constantly invoke 9/11 is to focus on the single greatest failing of his adminstration: after all, it happened on his watch. Not a single person has been fired, demoted, or otherwise held responsible for letting 19 terrorists slip through our fingers and deliver a devastating blow from which we are still reeling. . . . "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." . . . The only proper answer to this is: go f*ck yourself, Mr. President. You don't scare me one friggin' bit. Americans will never be intimidated in this fashion: and, if they are, they will cease being Americans. . . . It was a Republican administration that dropped the ball on 9/11 � which is why the White House is stonewalling the 9/11 Commission. . . . And this injection of neoconservative rhetoric into the campaign seems potentially dangerous for the President. Does he really want to make the extremism of the neoconservative ideologues who dominate his administration the central issue of the campaign? The RNC, by exhorting their followers to "call Congress" on behalf of the policy of preemption, is in effect telling them to demand new wars, more casualties, and fresh invasions. Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt � which of these are now in the President's sights? That is the question his opponents need to be asking.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:42 PM

The Miami Model: Paramilitaries, Embedded Journalists and Illegal Protests. Think This is Iraq? It's Your Country
(Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now, November 24, 2003)
We were loading our video equipment into the trunk of our car when a fleet of bicycle cops sped up and formed a semi-circle around us. The lead cop was none other than Miami Police Chief John Timoney. The former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia Timoney has a reputation for brutality and hatred of protesters of any kind. He calls them punks," "knuckleheads" and a whole slew of expletives. He coordinated the brutal police response to the mass-protests at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. After a brief stint in the private sector, Timoney took the post of Miami police chief as part of Mayor Manny Diaz's efforts to "clean up the department." . . . We had watched him the night before on the local news in Miami praising his men for the restraint they had shown in the face of violent anarchists intent on destroying the city. In reality, the tens of thousands who gathered in Miami to protest the ministerial meetings of the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit were seeking to peacefully demonstrate against what they consider to be a deadly expansion of NAFTA and US-led policies of free trade. There were environmental groups, labor unions, indigenous activists from across the hemisphere, church groups, grassroots organizations, students and many others in the streets. What they encountered as they assembled outside the gates to the building housing the FTAA talks was nothing short of a police riot. It only took a few hours last Thursday before downtown Miami looked like a city under martial law. . . . Seeing Timoney up close and personal evokes this image of Mayor Daley at the '68 Democratic Convention ordering his men to shoot protesters on sight. He is that kind of guy. . . . As Timoney was talking with his men, one of the guys on the bikes approached us with a notepad. "Can I have your names?" he asked. . . . I thought he was a police officer preparing a report. He had on a Miami police polo shirt, just like Timoney's. He had a Miami police bike helmet, just like Timoney's. He had a bike, just like Timoney's. In fact there was only one small detail that separated him from Timoney--a small badge around his neck identifying him as a reporter with the Miami Herald. He was embedded with Chief Timoney. . . . That reporter was one of dozens who were embedded with the Miami forces (it's hard to call them police), deployed to protect the FTAA ministerial meetings from thousands of unarmed protesters. In another incident, we saw a Miami Herald photographer who had somehow gotten pushed onto the "protesters side" of a standoff with the police. He was behind a line of young kids who had locked arms to try and prevent the police from advancing and attacking the crowds outside of the Inter-Continental Hotel. He was shouting at the kids to move so he could get back to the safe side. The protesters ignored him and continued with their blockade. . . . The photographer grew angrier and angrier before he began hitting one of the young kids on the line. He punched him in the back of the head before other journalists grabbed him and calmed him down. His colleagues seemed shocked at the conduct. He was a big, big guy and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a police issued riot helmet, but I really think he was scared of the skinny, dreadlocked bandana clad protesters. He had this look of panic on his face, like he had been in a scuffle with the Viet Cong. . . . the overwhelming majority of the images of the protests on TV were from helicopter shots, where very little could be seen except that there was a confrontation between police and "the protesters." This gave cover for Timoney and other officials to make their outrageous and false statements over and over. . . . After last week, no one should call what Timoney runs in Miami a police force. It's a paramilitary group. Thousands of soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms with full black body armor and gas masks, marching in unison through the streets, banging batons against their shields, chanting, "back... back... back." There were armored personnel carriers and helicopters. . . . The forces fired indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed protesters. Scores of people were hit with skin-piercing rubber bullets; thousands were gassed with an array of chemicals. On several occasions, police fired loud concussion grenades into the crowds. Police shocked people with electric tazers. Demonstrators were shot in the back as they retreated. One young guy's apparent crime was holding his fingers in a peace sign in front of the troops. They shot him multiple times, including once in the stomach at point blank range. . . . There was no need for any demonstrator to hurl anything at the forces to spark police violence. It was clear from the jump that Timoney's men came prepared to crack heads. And they did that over and over. After receiving $8.5 million in federal funds from the $87 billion Iraq spending bill, Miami needed to have a major combat operation. It didn't matter if it was warranted. . . . This model also included the embedding of undercover police with the protesters. At one point during a standoff with police, it appeared as though a group of protesters had gotten into a brawl amongst themselves. But as others moved in to break up the melee, two of the guys pulled out electric tazers and shocked protesters, before being liberated back behind police lines. These guys, clearly undercover agents, were dressed like any other protester. One had a sticker on his backpack that read: "FTAA No Way." . . . The police methodically marched in a long column directly at the several hundred protesters who believed they had a right to protest, even without John Sweeney at their side. They fired indiscriminately at the crowds. One woman had part of her ear blown off. Another was shot in the forehead. I got shot twice, once in the back, another time in the leg. . . . But that was not enough. The police then attacked the dispersing crowd, chasing about 30 people into a corner. They shoved them to the ground and beat them. They gassed them at close range. My colleague from Democracy Now!, Ana Nogueira, and I got separated in the mayhem. I was lucky to end up on the "safe" side of the street. Ana was in the melee. As she did her job - videotaping the action - Ana was wearing her press credentials in plain sight. As the police began handcuffing people, Ana told them she was a journalist. One of the officers said, "She's not with us, she's not with us," meaning that although Ana was clearly a journalist, she was not the friendly type. She was not embedded with the police and therefore had to be arrested. . . . In police custody, the authorities made Ana remove her clothes because they were soaked with pepper spray. The police forced her to strip naked in front of male officers. Despite calls from Democracy Now!, the ACLU, lawyers and others protesting Ana's arrest and detention, she was held in a cockroach-filled jail cell until 3:30 am. She was only released after I posted a $500 bond. Other independent journalists remained locked up for much longer and face serious charges, some of them felonies. In the end, Ana was charged with "failure to disperse." . . . The real crime seems to be "failure to embed." . . . In the times in which we live, this is what democracy looks like. Thousands of soldiers, calling themselves police, deployed in US cities to protect the power brokers from the masses. Posse Comitatus is just a Latin phrase. Vigilantes like John Timoney roam from city to city, organizing militias to hunt the dangerous radicals who threaten the good order. And damned be the journalist who dares to say it - or film it - like it is.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:38 PM

More Reservists mobilized for wars on Iraq and Afghanistan
(CNN.com, November 26, 2003)
Pentagon says more Marines needed in Iraq . . .
Troops and their families and employers will soon find out if they will be affected by the Pentagon's latest mobilization of 17,000 reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
. . . In addition those mobilized Wednesday, nearly 8,000 reservists have been alerted for deployment to Iraq and around 700 for deployment to Afghanistan. . . . The announcements affect Army and Air Force National Guard and Reserves as well as Navy and Marine Corps Reserves. . . . The Pentagon also said three battalions of Marines and support units -- as many as 3,000 people -- will get orders for deployment to Iraq. . . . The Pentagon did not announce the specific Reserve and Guard units mobilized and alerted, but it said Army reservists could be mobilized for up to 18 months and Marine reservists for up to a year.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 8:54 PM

The Only Terrorists in Miami are the Police!
(Tom Hayden, AlterNet, November 21, 2003)
The police force continued operating with the brains and appetite of a carnivorous shark today as city officials kept demonstrating "the Miami model" of suppression even as protestors and trade ministers were leaving the city in droves. . . . At a Friday afternoon press conference, Thea Lee, the chief international economist of the AFL-CIO, spoke of feeling terrified Thursday as police fired pepper gas and plastic bullets at peaceful marchers. Other labor leaders, including AFL-CIO president John Sweeney expressed "outrage" over the police blocking of a permitted gathering, and cited specific abuses such as a union retiree being denied necessary medication after an arbitrary arrest. . . . Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin and others were pulled over Thursday night by a dozen officers who pointed guns at them. The Sierra Club's Washington D.C. advocate, Dan Seligman, also described officers holding a weapon to his head and that of another colleague. Mark Rand, coordinator of a group of foundation funders, displayed a large bluish bruise on his back leg from a rubber bullet. . . . When 100 protestors ventured to the Dade County jail today to speak out against yesterday's arrests and detentions of some 145 people (a third on felonies) the same cycle of avoidable suppression they were describing unfolded yet again. . . . David Solnit, one of the founders of the Seattle movement, attributed the harsh police measures to Miami's character as a center of "vulgar capitalism." Unlike other cities, where authorities may appear to assimilate dissent for political reasons, he said, Miami has attempted to sweep it away as a foreign curse. AFL-CIO leader Ron Judd speculated that the police suppression deflected public attention from working-class trade issues, while Medea Benjamin accused authorities of "trying to get the people of this city and county used to this militaristic model" instead of the relatively benign model of policing used at Cancun only two months ago. . . . The protest could easily have been contained by a handful of officers, or might have simply faded as the day ended. Instead, at approximately 5pm, the commanding officer summoned the activist lawyers to announce that those milling, waiting or sitting in the parking lot had become an "unlawful assembly" with three minutes to disperse. In addition, he said with a straight face, there was "intelligence" that some in the crowd had rocks. There was no evidence shared with regard to this secret intelligence and no rocks were seen in the events that followed. . . . Instead of resisting, the crowd began dispersing along 14th Street, the only egress route available. . . . Solnit and six others sat down suddenly on the sidewalk, holding their hands up in V-signs. A phalanx of 25 police closed in on them as we took photographs and notes from a few feet away. In moments the seven on the sidewalk were handcuffed and led away. More police were swarming everywhere now, overwhelming the remaining protestors by 10-to-one. . . . One block away, the dispersing crowd was walking backwards as more police marched on them with helmet visors down and guns and clubs drawn. By now five of my students had joined this retreating witness, all holding their hands over their heads and chanting "We are dispersing" again and again. . . . How could the police not notice how young they were, how utterly unthreatening, how innocent? . . . I moved alongside the advancing and retreating lines to take a photograph when I noticed that a policeman was aiming a shotgun straight at my chest. Fear leaped in me, then he pointed the weapon down. But a moment later he was looking down the barrel at me again. I was holding a camera, notebook and pen. Suddenly I found myself asking him, "Are you really pointing that fucking gun at me?" . . . Nothing happened, and I turned back to look for the students. They were on the public sidewalk, but by now more police had arrived to prevent them from walking any further. . . . The last I saw of them � Anne Beckett, Maddy Elfenbein, Jordan Bar Am, Rachel Bloomekatz and Toussaint Losier, all undergraduates � their hands were still up as they were swallowed up by the black-and-brown uniformed horde. When they were on the ground, one officer added a final squirt of pepper spray. How brave they look, I added to myself. . . . Two of my other students avoided arrest by happening to turn in another direction and, minutes later, Touissant, a tall African American with dreds and a video camera, magically walked free because the police were too busy with their already downed dissidents. A minute later, I learned that Democracy Now's Ana Nogueira � and her camera � had been enveloped and arrested too. It was another experiment in the "Miami model." What I remembered of this imperial aggressiveness at the ballot box from November 2000 now seemed to be repeating itself on the streets. . . . Police subsequently informed the larger world that a mob of menacing protestors had disobeyed orders to dissolve an unlawful assembly and were treated accordingly. . . . In truth they may have radicalized the next generation of America's future leaders.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:43 PM

Starkawk's Report from Miami and the FTAA Protests
[Click on the above link for the entire report. What follows here is only the final few paragraphs.]

We hear loud explosions and the air is filled with smoke and an acrid, burning gas. Rubber bullets are flying and people start to run but a whole lot of us call out, "Walk, walk," and form up a line and move back slowly in a disciplined way. We fall back a ways, and a line of riot cops in full gear comes out and blocks our way back to the fence. Andy has been hit in the shoulder by a rubber bullet. I recognize that the noise is from sound bombs and suspect they are firing the new pepper spray pellets as my face and nose sting. We regroup the cluster, wait warily until we see, across the street, the line of cops trying to push back the crowd and some kind of altercation. Andy and I, Lisa and Charles, run over. The cops have someone down on the ground and they are beating on him and Andy and I and others jump in front and face them, trying to calm the situation, doing all the classic, nonviolent things, staying calm ourselves, looking them in the eye, talking in a soothing voice. Behind us the crowd is angry and we are trying to calm the more hotheaded before they make themselves vulnerable to the cops. Meanwhile the crowd pulls back the protestor whose been beaten. The cops are now shoving us with their nightsticks, yelling, "Get back, get back". I am now right next to Ryan and Sara, in a front line of black clad anarchists who are slowing the cops and trying to de-escalate them, giving the crowd behind us time tomove away, keeping control of our retreat so that it does not become a panicked flight. I talking to the cop in front of me, who is snarling back. The cop behind him is the one who has been out of control and beating people, and the crowd begins chanting his badge number. One of the cops has a small, mean looking gun with a long snout and he aims it at me and shoots me directly in the eye with a stream of pepper spray. . . . The stuff covers my face and hair and streams down my arm. I still have my contact lenses in and my hands are now soaked in pepper spray so I can't pull them out myself. We all fall back, move away from the cops who are shooting rubber bullets at us all. Lisa gets shot in the hip. The cops also stop, and I ask Andy to take my lens out but he doesn't know how. The stuff burns but half of all pain is panic and I'm not panicked, just concerned because lenses can trap the oil and cause permanent damage. Lisa comes over and pulls the lens out for me and I am washing my eyes with water and then they get the medics to wash them out with the liquid antacid solution we�ve found most effective. Elizabeth has been badly sprayed as well and I tell her, �Fifteen minutes just remember it's going to hurt for fifteen minutes and then it will be all right." . . . We get led back to the cluster and move to a position in the shade near the intersection where we will not be trapped if the police sweep through. We try to decide what to do, and share some food. I am a bit shaken but am really okay, and after a few minutes the burning does diminish. . . . The street calms down. The AFL rally is beginning to assemble, and I am enjoying watching the contingents come in carrying their flags and banners. We are told that if we go into the rally we won't be able to get out, so we decide instead to go to lunch. I go sit in a caf� with Lisa, so tired that I can't even eat although I think I should. I drink some hot tea, and relax for a moment. In walks Oscar Olivera, one of the leaders of the uprising in Bolivia when they kicked out the water privatizers and took back control of their own water system. I greet him, remind him that he has been in my house in San Francisco, and we talk. I ask him how he likes the new Bolivian president, and he shrugs, making that universal hand gesture for �some good, some bad. . . . Then we go out and join some of our friends who are sitting at sidewalk tables. Our friends from the Sweetwater affinity group have joined us, bringing the Living River which we will carry in the march. Nix and some of the others are drumming and dancing in the street, and I eat someone's leftover quesadilla and feel some more energy. Suddenly I want to dance, too, and I jump up and begin whirling around, invoking Oya and praising the wind. I get my drum, and soon we have a street party, with passersby joining in the dance. In spite of the huge, fearmongering campaign waged by the cops, who have told people we will shoot them with squirt guns full of urine and feces and invented other charming lies, we've had almost nothing but positive support from the actual people of Miami who sare always smiling and waving and giving us a thumbs-up. . . . The march, it turns out, is coming by us. We unfurl our Living River, panels of blue gauze that billow in the wind and look beautiful unfurling behind us. We have banners and flags so we watch the contingents go by, steelworkers with their own river of blue flags, the Root Cause folks, the puppets. When the giant, inflatable earth comes by, we join in. The march is beautiful and spirited, moving out into the neighborhoods and circling back again. We're chanting, "F..T..A..A..we say no! Don't privatize the water, let the river flow!"
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:26 PM

Dark Heart of the American Dream
(Ed Vulliamy, The London Observer, 16 June 2002)
It's the most polluted state in the planet's most powerful country. Ed Vulliamy goes into George Bush's backyard to reveal how big oil got in bed with big politics and the price paid by the little people . . . The awesome prepotency of this smokescape is no illusion, for this [Houston, Texas] is an epicentre of power, oil capital of the Western world and the most industrialised corner of the United States. It is also the capital of a power machine perfected in Texas, elevated to rule the nation and now unchallenged across the planet. A machine that operates in perpetual motion - an equilibrium of interests - between industry and politics. . . . 'We don't see ourselves as a dynasty,' said George Bush Sr as his son launched the election campaign that won him the current presidency, raiding father's Rolodex to do so. 'We don't feel entitled to anything.' And yet at no point in the past 50 years - the half-century since 1952 which defines the modern age - has there not been a Bush in a governor's mansion (in Texas or Florida), on Capitol Hill or in the White House - and usually more than one of those at a time. . . . Power in America is not so much about George W Bush, it's about the people from Texas who put him there.' . . . 'You are looking at the biggest oil refinery in the world,' indicates LaNell Anderson. She refers to the edifice that is the 3,000-acre Exxon Mobil plant at Baytown, near Houston, producer of 507,800 barrels a day. Here begins a story of both dynasty and destiny, for it was on this spot in 1917 that the Bush family's oil connection was forged . . . A thumbnail sketch of politics and the environment in the United States today depicts oil as the lifeblood running through every vein of an administration forging ahead with its energy policy. The White House has just been forced to disclose (after being faced with a Congressional subpoena) that it drew up a national energy plan based on increased production without regard to the environment or conservation, having failed to consult with anyone other than its friends among the producers themselves, notably the disgraced Enron. . . . At the hub of this turning wheel of influence is Vice President Dick Cheney, fresh into office from his post as chief executive of Halliburton, the world's second-largest oil-drilling services company, where he netted a personal fortune of $36m in the year before leaving, with help from contacts accumulated while serving under George Bush Sr. Just last week, however, Halliburton joined Enron in coming under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the same system of publishing inflated revenues - 'aggressive accounting' - for which Enron has become a synonym for shame. These alleged misdeeds took place during Cheney's directorship. . . . George Bush landed in this mayhem but quickly decamped 20 miles north to Midland, where new millionaires like him established a country club, a Harvard and a Yale club, met at the Petroleum Club and played golf on irrigated lawns. Midland was, recalls Gene Collins, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Odessam 'one of two towns in America with a Rolls-Royce dealership and more millionaires per head than anywhere'. This was where Bush Sr built his oil fortune, launched a political career on its shoulders and raised his son George W Bush in the art and language of power he now feigns not to speak. . . . James Baker III, was secretary of state to then president George Bush Sr and who later, as an attorney, secured the delivery of the state of Florida for Bush Jr during last year's election recounts. Baker Botts advertises itself as a 'full service firm', counting Shell, Mobil, Union Carbide, Huntsman, Amoco on its books. The other law firm indivisible from the energy lobby and the Bush fiefdom is Vinson & Elkins, which acts for both Enron and the Alcoa aluminium giant, whose former chief executive Paul O'Neill is now US Treasury Secretary. Between these law firms and the regulatory body supposed to face them down, says Dr Carman, 'there's a revolving door. . . . Two groups based in Austin - Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) and Public Research Works (PRW) - crunched the statistics on the wave of money on which George W Bush sailed into the governor's mansion. It was what Andrew Wheat of the TPJ calls 'something unheard of in Texas or anywhere else: $42m on two campaigns'. Grandfathered polluters poured $10.2m into the campaign coffers between 1993 and 1998, led by what PRW calls the 'dirty 30', including Exxon, Shell, Amoco, Enron and the Alcoa aluminium giant. Bush himself received $1.5m from 55 grandfathered companies, led by Enron, with a handsome $348,500 top-up from the man he calls Kenny Boy - Kenneth Lay, the company's chief executive, currently under criminal investigation. . . . Wheat's analysis of the new governor's 'personal time' shows a revolving door for campaign donors and the energy industry. . . . Most important of all - and best hidden - was Bush's programme for Tort Reform. It was this that his father's advisor Karl Rove (dispatched to steer Bush's presidential campaign and now the White House itself) insisted the new governor make his hallmark, and this is potentially the dynasty's greatest gift to big oil. Put simply, Tort Reform means making it harder for citizens to sue corporations. TPJ calculated that business interests specifically isolating Tort Reform on their political agenda poured money into Bush's gubernatorial campaigns. Soon after being elected governor, says Andrew Wheat, Bush declared Tort Reform an 'emergency issue'. . . . This meant appointing a judge to the Texas supreme court whom President Bush is tipped to bring aboard the Supreme Court in Washington (to which, some say, he owes his presidency). Alberto Gonzalez wrote a decision soon after his appointment to the Texas court which made it all but impossible for citizens to bring class actions. 'The result,' says Shawn Isbell, a lawyer working on environmental cases, 'is that it will simply be too expensive to bring cases against the corporations.' . . . On Carlucci's other flank is the ubiquitous James Baker III. Chairman of Carlyle Europe is John Major. The group's new asset management is headed by Afsaneh Beschloss, former treasurer of the World Bank. Carlyle has grown quickly to be worth some $12bn, specialising in energy and defence, with particular attention to the oil-producing Gulf states. Among its most eager investors is Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington and his father Prince Sultan, the kingdom's defence minister. The group's most spectacular recent coup was to reap $400m in a stock sale of its subsidiary United Defence Industries, maker of the Crusader artillery system which most military experts argued was redundant, but which won $470m in development money from the Pentagon and whose future in the US arsenal still hangs in the balance after a series of recent meetings between Carlucci and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Within a month of 11 September last year, Carlucci was meeting with Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and 10 days later offered an assessment which exactly predicted the endless-war scenario: 'We as Americans,' he said, 'have to recognise that terrorism is more or less a permanent situation.' . . . 'What's the secret?' chided William Conway, a co-founder of the group. 'I don't think we have any secrets. We are a group of businessmen who have made a huge amount of money for our investors.' 'I never bought into this conspiracy theory about the Bush family, the energy companies or the Carlyle Group,' says Michael King, seasoned political editor of the Austin Chronicle , who has observed the phenomenon for decades. 'It is perfectly clear what they're aiming at from what they do in public: managing the global economy to their own advantage, and doing a pretty good job of it.' . . . On 11 September, while Al-Qaeda's planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Carlyle Group hosted a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honour was a valued investor: Shafig bin Laden, brother to Osama.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:49 PM

How to Support FTAA protesters in Miami!
(Miami Activist Defense, November 21, 2003)
The actions of the Miami Police Department this week have violated the fundamental due process and first Amendment rights of thousands of peaceful protesters gathering to voice their opposition to the FTAA summit. Take some time now and CALL the Mayors, the city attorney, police chief Timoney and others responsible for these gross violations. Demand a full-scale, independent investigation into the police officers alarming behavior. . . . The Miami Activist Defense (M.A.D.) committee and National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers have observed numerous illegal practices that Miami City leadership has referred to as a blueprint for Homeland Security, including:
* Indiscriminate, excessive force against hundreds of nonviolent protesters with weapons including pepper spray, tear gas, concussion grenades and various types of rubber bullets.
* Police stopping and snatching protesters at random and taking them away in unmarked vehicles.
* Protesters being shot with rubber bullets and trapped by police lines, resulting in major injuries. Medics were not allowed into these areas.
* Violation of agreements made with organizers and M.A.D. prior to protests.

Mayor, Miami-Dade County
305.829.9336 home
305.375.5071 office

Mayor, City of Miami

[Click on the above link for more names and phone numbers of people to call.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:20 AM

Opponents block energy bill in Senate
(H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, November 21, 2003)
Opponents of a massive energy bill on Friday blocked the Senate from taking a final vote and sending the measure to President Bush. . . . On a 57-40 vote, supporters failed by three votes to cut off debate on the legislation. . . . Opponents of the bill waged a frantic campaign for votes to derail the legislation, arguing the $31 billion bill -- crafted largely in closed-door Republican negotiations with the House -- was too expensive and amounted to a collection of subsidies to special interests. . . . Approval of an energy bill has been a top priority for President Bush, who repeatedly called on Congress to finish the legislation this year. . . . As opponents to the bill appeared to gain strength, Vice President Dick Cheney began calling GOP senators urging them not to abandon the president on the issue. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, a former senator from Michigan, was dispatched to Capitol Hill in the hours before the voting. . . . But a growing number of senators -- both Democrats and at least six Republicans -- criticized the bill as too costly, a giveaway to energy industries, and bad for the environment. . . . A particular target was a provision that would shield manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE from product liability lawsuits. The issue was key in getting five GOP senators from New England, where MTBE contamination of water supplies has been a major concern, to oppose the legislation. . . . The bill has "glaring examples of industry favors," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another opponent. He called it a "Thanksgiving turkey" stuffed with goodies for special interests. . . . Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., also objected to the bill's price tag -- an estimated $31 billion over 10 years -- arguing that the measure exceeds the congressional budget ceiling. . . . Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said there were some good things in the bill, but he strongly opposed provisions to mandate use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline nationwide and the bill's handling of MTBE. . . . Democrats also objected to the way the bill had been crafted -- largely behind closed doors in negotiations among Senate and House Republicans. . . . "It really doesn't help the Senate to prolong the inevitable. The inevitable is this bill is history. It's not going to go any place," said Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic whip. . . . The bill contains hundreds of items sought by energy lobbyists, including tax breaks for oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries, plus tax credits for renewable energy and conservation. . . .
Among its major provisions:

* Tax breaks of $13 billion for oil, gas and coal industries

* A requirement to double ethanol production for gasoline to 5 billion gallons a year by 2012.

* Authority and financial help, including $18 billion in loan guarantees, to build a pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska's North Slope.

* A requirement to speed up permits and ease some environmental rules to promote energy development on public lands.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:04 AM

Are Your Sons and Daughters Going to War?
Universal National Service Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)
H. R. 163
To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
. . . (a) OBLIGATION FOR YOUNG PERSONS- It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act . . . (b) FORM OF NATIONAL SERVICE - National service under this Act shall be performed either-- (1) as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services; or (2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security. . . . a) GENERAL RULE- Except as otherwise provided in this section, the period of national service performed by a person under this Act shall be two years. . . . (b) GROUNDS FOR EXTENSION- At the discretion of the President, the period of military service for a member of the uniformed services under this Act may be extended . . . SEC. 6. DEFERMENTS AND POSTPONEMENTS. (a) HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS- A person who is pursuing a standard course of study, on a full-time basis, in a secondary school or similar institution of learning shall be entitled to have induction under this Act postponed until the person-- (1) obtains a high school diploma; (2) ceases to pursue satisfactorily such course of study; or (3) attains the age of 20. . . . [NOTE: This bill does NOT provide for college deferments!] . . . (a) CLAIMS AS CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR- Any person selected under this Act for induction into the uniformed services who claims, because of religious training and belief (as defined in section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 456(j))), exemption from combatant training included as part of that military service and whose claim is sustained under such procedures as the President may prescribe, shall, when inducted, participate in military service that does not include any combatant training component. [but they will still be in combat situations, they just won't be carrying weapons.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:12 PM

(Michael C. Ruppert, From the Wilderness, October 20, 2003)
Since Part I of this series was published, the credibility of the Bush administration has - as predicted - been assaulted on a variety of fronts. W's approval rating has dropped below 50%. The Republicans are worried about whether he is re-electable. The political, military and economic situation in Iraq has worsened. The US economy staggers on the brink of meltdown, in debt and an anemic dollar. The reality of Peak Oil and Gas has been acknowledged in a number of mainstream publications . . . And the military situation in Iraq and Afghanistan remains as dangerous, and uncertain, as Iraqi oil remains undeliverable. . . . The last development is perhaps the biggest of all the Neocon blunders, but it still accomplishes the primary objective laid out by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: The oil and many rebuilding contracts have been denied to any powers "that might seek to usurp the US on the world stage". Even as the US has gone hat-in-hand to the UN asking for help in Iraq (and been rebuffed), it has made it clear that it intends to retain absolute control of Iraqi resources. Europe and Russia will not play that game. Oil in the ground is oil in the bank and, at least for the moment, by tweaking supplies and conflicts around the world, the US can maintain enough supply from other sources to keep the house of cards from falling. Within three to five years, that may not be possible. . . . The race now is to stabilize Iraq in time to rebuild the infrastructure, and bring its 11% of proven world reserves online. The US majors won't invest there until it is safe. On October 11, The Arabic News reported on a recent World Bank report stating that the reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure would require four years and more than $50 billion (US). This is another reason why the Bush junta is in jeopardy. There are few left anywhere who believe that they have the cachet to pull it off. The oil companies have lost confidence in the oil men. . . . Had the US not invaded Iraq, however, French, Russian and German companies would currently be working on billions of dollars of contracts to refurbish the oil infrastructure, thus increasing the amount of Iraqi oil (priced in Euros rather than dollars) . . . As a result, Europe and Russia would have been getting economically stronger and "marking territory" for the day when oil for food sanctions were inevitably lifted. Europe's economy is now sustained by the speed with which Russia can sell its diminishing oil reserves - estimated at just under 60 billion barrels (Gb) - something that it appears eager to do. This will inevitably force Britain into the EU at an accelerated pace, especially if BP can't get any supplies out of Iraq. . . . Frustrated that they cannot safely get to Iraqi oil, the American majors are frantic to secure supplies from an ever-diminishing global reservoir; hence the recent frantic expansion of drilling and investment in West Africa. . . . A simple way to look at this is to say that the CIA represents the interests of Wall Street and the global economic powers, while the Bush Neocons represent the interests of only one American faction of the global economy. It is inevitable that the Neocons will be replaced. Several US presidents have fought the CIA and they have always emerged on the short end of the stick. This time will be no different. . . . The CIA's call for a criminal investigation into the criminal leak identifying Valerie Plame -- the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- as a covert CIA operative is the perfect continuation of the operation to remove the Neocons. . . . Not only is the blowing of Plame's cover a clear-cut criminal case, it keeps in focus all of the intelligence frauds committed to justify the Iraqi invasion. Ultimately, the Bush administration will find it impossible to campaign on a platform of national security as people understand that the likely suspects, Karl Rove and Cheney Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby have been tied to the leak, and that the target of the mean-spirited punishment was a counter-terror case officer investigating weapons of mass destruction. So much for Bush's "number-one priority". . . . In the meantime, Dick Cheney becomes ever more vulnerable, and he may well be replaced before the election rolls around. First, in spite of recent embarrassing admissions by George W. Bush and Condi Rice that there were no demonstrated connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, Cheney - as reported by The Washington Post on September 29 -- continues to imply it in mainstream press interviews. Second, according to The Washington Post of September 26, and as revealed by CNN on September 25, Cheney still has strong financial ties to Halliburton whose no-bid contracts in Iraq have soared to over $1.2 billion out of the $2 billion in Iraqi contracts it now holds. . . . As Halliburton's contract awards continue to rise, Cheney's credibility sinks. . . . It is therefore likely that Dick Cheney will be removed from the 2004 Republican ticket. Before engaging in mass celebrations, those who are old enough to recall it should remember that another Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was successfully removed from the Nixon White House just before Nixon was replaced to allow for a "safe" Vice President (Gerald Ford) to be in place when the actual coup occurred. Who did Ford choose as his Vice President? Nelson Rockefeller. Although a clear-cut replacement for Cheney has not stuck his/her head up, one likely contender here would be former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. . . . Contrary to popular belief, it was not a group of die-hard conservative militarists who pushed the US into an unwinnable conflict in Vietnam. It was a coterie of liberal "Eastern Establishment" members of the Council on Foreign Relations and lifelong Democrats. Included here are the likes of Dean Acheson, McGeorge and William Bundy, John J. McCloy, Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara. These were the advisors who continued to prod Johnson into escalation after escalation until, suddenly in March of 1968 right after the Tet Offensive, they all became doves overnight and said the war was a mistake. Johnson was set up and betrayed and he never recovered. He immediately announced that he would not run for re-election. That gave us Nixon, more escalations, and four more years of conflict as the American people were suckered into believing that Nixon would end the war quickly. Will people believe the same of a President Wesley Clark or John Kerry? . . . Major power brokers like international financier George Soros are backing moves to remove Bush, and Soros is opening his sizeable checkbook to do it. I was dismayed recently to see that a board member of the ostensibly independent Pacifica radio network advocated direct solicitation of funds from both Soros and the CIA-connected Ford Foundation. Soros, who has or had business ties with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, the Carlyle Group, the CIA's Radio Free Europe, Wesley Clark, Richard Allen and George W. Bush (through Harken Energy), is not a friendly, tree-hugging, progressive out to save the world. He is the fist in a velvet glove to the Neocons' baseball bat across the nose. . . . Another commonality that cannot be overlooked is the close interrelationships between senior Bush policy makers and Israel. These include the former Chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle, who has worked for Israeli weapons firms, and has been previously connected to leaks of sensitive material to Israeli intelligence; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has relatives living in Israel; Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith whose law firm maintains an Israeli office; Edward Luttwak of the National Security Study Group who has taught in Israel; Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon's Chief Financial Officer who is also a member of the CFR; Elliot Abrams at the National Security Council, "Scooter" Libby, and former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Some have even worked on joint planning projects with Israeli ministries. . . . The point is not to jump to conclusions about where the power actually resides, but to understand that Presidents can be, and have been, sabotaged by power that does not present itself for a vote. The key question is Qui bono? - Who benefits? As far as Israel is concerned, perhaps one of the great unresolved questions is whether Israel controls the US, the US controls Israel, or whether there is something that controls both. It is a virtual certainty however, that Israel will continue to benefit - as it has consistently since 9/11 - when a new administration takes office. In the last year, both John Kerry and Wesley Clark have "discovered" and made public their Jewish ancestry. . . . It still remains unclear whether or not Bush will lose the 2004 election, steal it again, or be replaced via an impeachment effort after a win. There is a great deal to be learned from the Democratic Party side of the equation, and voters who eagerly participate in the election process are almost pathologically in denial about the compromise of the process that has occurred with proprietary electronic software that remains easily manipulated and immune from public scrutiny. As the 2000 election was stolen, the 2004 election may already be locked up (or encoded). No activist in their right mind should participate in the Democratic Party nomination process without addressing this key issue. If they do, they should have their head examined. . . . It is also imperative to see what connections exist between the major candidates and entities like the CFR, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group. From that point, a look at the histories of the serious contenders will provide stark clues as to what can be expected. . . . Wesley Clark is a reincarnation of the most corrupt and violent aspects of William Jefferson Clinton. I have great respect for author and filmmaker Michael Moore, but when I saw him endorse Wesley Clark, I nearly choked. Let's refresh everyone's memory by looking at the retired NATO Commander's history. It shows us is that he has the perfect r�sum� to continue the job that the Bush gang began, and then botched. . . . Clark's real notoriety came in 1999 when, as NATO Commander under Bill Clinton, he led another US military invasion, which the UN also refused to sanction, into Bosnia and Kosovo. Clark's aggressive command nearly resulted in a military confrontation with a Russian armored column. As it turns out, the reasons for that invasion were as fabricated as were the reasons for Bush's invasion of Iraq. . . . There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there were no mass graves holding tens of thousands of bodies ever found in Kosovo. Yet, as we documented in 1999 using reports from Jane's Intelligence Weekly and The Christian Science Monitor, in the process of conducting that war Clark made safe the KLA's control over 70% of the heroin reaching Western Europe. . . . Another parallel to the post-9/11 world is that, under US rule, Afghanistan has again become the number-one producer of opium in the world, estimated at 75% of world supply, all under CIA control. Afghanistan is the source of the heroin that is being smuggled through the Balkans into Western Europe (and all over the world) to this day. . . . That Bill Clinton would turn up all over the Clark campaign is no surprise. The day before announcing his candidacy, Clark received an endorsement from Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel. Rangel, a black Democrat, is closely tied to the Clinton machine. Clinton maintains an office in Harlem. That being said, what has Wesley Clark ever done to endear himself to black voters? What was Rangel thinking? . . . Bill Clinton is a member of the Bilderberg Group, The Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. Clark is a member of the CFR. . . . And, last but not least, Wesley Clark has a business relationship with George Soros. According to Heather Cottin's excellent deconstruction of Soros (above) Clark sits on the board of Soros' International Crisis Group (ICG) with the likes of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Richard Allen, former Reagan National Security Advisor. . . . Howard Dean won't take a stand on civil liberties except to say that there are some "glitches" in post-9/11 laws. He has no position on Peak Oil and has said nothing about 9/11. . . . He poses a threat to the establishment because he is an outsider who hasn't been sufficiently harnessed to know what directions he would or would not take if elected. But what's most important about Howard Dean is that he is already fading some in the polls, thanks to Wesley Clark, and even candidates like Dennis Kucinich. Dean appears to be the target of a "spike" effort from many different directions. . . . John Kerry remains the big dog in the race. A decorated Vietnam War hero, the four-term Massachusetts Senator is a member of both the CFR and the secret Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale that also claims Bush I and Bush II as members. . . . Kerry, in charge of the potentially explosive Iran-Contra drug hearings succeeded in producing a 1,200-page record that was a treasure trove of information for researchers, but absolutely useless in unraveling a corruption that controls the US government to this day. What lies buried in those pages was enough to have turned the American political system inside out. In the end, its greatest usefulness was as a benchmark against which to compare the CIA's investigation of itself after the 1996 Dark Alliance stories and hard revelations of CIA connections to cocaine smuggling that Kerry knew all about anyway. . . . John Kerry had successfully contained what was, up to that time, the biggest scandal in American history. . . . Kerry's energy stance is that the US needs to become energy independent, a physical impossibility, and he has paid lip service to biomass, solar and ethanol. Ethanol is a scientific joke that takes more energy to produce than it yields and would require most of the arable land mass of the United States to replace even a part of our oil consumption. Ethanol is a government subsidized handout to major corporations like Archer, Daniels, Midland. . . . Like all of the Democratic challengers, Kerry has been quick to jump on the bandwagon of cooked Iraqi intelligence and the Plame leaks. But he won't go near 9/11, stating instead, that if he were president he would "really" prosecute the war on terror, (i.e. go after Saudi Arabia, etc.). . . . Joe Lieberman is a staunch advocate of the war on terror, supporter of the Patriot Act and Homeland Security, an advocate of the Iraqi invasion since shortly after 9/11, Joe Lieberman is a joke. . . . Dennis Kucinich has not spoken of Peak Oil and Gas, nor has he made any effort to pursue the glaring unanswered questions of 9/11. . . . Kucinich is not a member of the CFR, the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderberg Group. He has a record of paying a price to stand up for the people in his battle with Cleveland power companies when he was mayor. He speaks with a spiritual - as opposed to religious - awareness and he has a record that says he won't do what it is certain the other candidates will do, namely pursue the war for oil and prolong the Iraqi and Afghan occupations. However, that does not say that he will do what needs to be done proactively. . . . SO NOW WHAT? . . . As for the remainder of the democratic challengers: Dick Gephardt (CFR), Al Sharpton, John Edwards, Carol Mosely Braun and the rest, they are not likely to rise from the pack and have no broad-based appeal. . . . With all of that being said, we still come back to the question of whether the 2004 election will even be a trustworthy process at all. . . . TERMINATING DEMOCRACY . . . The California recall was a trial run for the rigged use of electronic software in the 2004 election, and further exploitation of coming energy shortages. The race was called just one minute after the polls closed even though electronic software was not used in six counties including Los Angeles County. And no one in the major press has raised a peep about it. Yet, within days, a few intrepid researchers were able to find indications of vote tampering on the proprietary Diebold machines used in many California counties. In an outrageous conflict with the public interest, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell told Ohio Republicans this August that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Even the BBC on October 8th, noted that Diebold and other systems used in California and elsewhere left the door wide open for tampering: . . . One major point here is that when and if a Democrat "wins" the presidency, some Americans will breathe a collective sigh of relief, and think that they beat the corruption. But who's to say the votes weren't rigged in that direction, just to keep the people asleep for a few more years. There is no cause for optimism based upon what we know about potential replacements. . . . Perhaps the best way to understand what is beyond George W, Bush is to fully appreciate that what came before him was part of the same agenda as what will follow him. Nothing has been done to change that. On the critical issues, a Democrat from the current slate won't make the slightest bit of difference.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:12 PM

(Michael C. Ruppert, From the Wilderness, July 1, 2003)
the decision has already been made by corporate and financial powers to remove George W. Bush, whether he wants to leave or not, and whether he steals the next election or not. Before you start cheering, ask yourself three questions: "If there is someone or something that can decide that Bush will not return, nor remain for long, what is it? And if that thing is powerful enough to remove Bush, was it not also powerful enough to have put him there in the first place? And if that is the case, then isn't that what's really responsible for the state of things? George W. Bush is just a hired CEO who is about to be removed by the "Board of Directors". Who are they? Are they going to choose his replacement? Are you going to help them? . . . So now the honest question about the 2004 Presidential campaign is, "What do you really want out of it?" Do you want the illusion that everything is a little better while it really gets worse? Or are you ready yet to roll up your sleeves and make some very unpleasant but necessary fixes? . . . The final platforms for Election 2004 will likely be manifestos of madness unless we dictate differently. . . . The Republicans, of course, are sharpening up a campaign that will portray George W. Bush as the "Hero of 9/11", "The Protector of the American Economy", "The Savior of the Free World", "A Man Who Loves God", and "The Man Who Cut Taxes". Electroshock therapy might be useful for these people. . . . But is it any less warranted for people who believe that everything will be fine if there is better theme music in the background, while none of the real offenses of the past two years are addressed or undone? . . . And has everyone also forgotten that in the 2002 midterm elections the proprietary voting software, in many cases owned by those affiliated with the Republican Party or - as in the case of Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska - the candidates themselves, has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be immune from public inspection. (Hagel won by a lopsided 83% majority). Throughout the United States in 2002 there was abundant evidence that the so-called "solution" to hanging chads did nothing more than enshrine the ability to steal elections with immunity and also much less fuss afterwards? Who in their right mind would trust such a system? Why have none of the candidates mentioned it? . . . And, if all else fails, we can have more Wellstone plane crashes. It has worked with three Democratic Senate candidates in key races over the last thirty years. Maybe that's why no one in Congress is talking about the election process. Plane crashes are part of that process too. . . . But first let me convince you that the Bush management team is actually on its way out and that this is not a reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Don't get me wrong, I'll be glad to see the mean-spirited and dishonest bastards go. I'll also acknowledge their healthy severance package and I'll worry about the bastards that will likely replace them who might be much harder to identify. . . . It is the hard record of official statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell on Iraq that will sink the administration, either before or after the election. These guys are horrible managers and they have really botched things up, big time . . . There are few things more closely connected to or identified with Bush family power than globalization and the Rockefellers. He has most likely failed both of them and both have the power to remove him. . . . In the meantime, there are increasing signs that the U.S. political and economic elites are laying the groundwork to make the Bush administration, specifically Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Perle and Wolfowitz, sacrificial scapegoats for a failed policy in time to consolidate post 9-11 gains, regroup and move forward. . . . an impeachment, long sought after by many - including University of Illinois law Professor Francis Boyle -- will be waiting after the second inauguration just as surely as it was for Richard Nixon in 1973. . . . The Military's Silent Mutiny - A "Full Scale Rebellion" . . . In his interview with Pitt, retired CIA analyst McGovern hinted at what appears to be a growing but quiet dissent within the ranks of the US military at the totalitarian management style of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the fact that the administration seems unconcerned with the facts. . . . Indeed the multitude of leaks of intelligence estimates, reports, memos and other records from within the military and intelligence communities suggests a deep dissatisfaction with the Bush regime. . . . As casualties continue to mount in the worsening guerrilla war in Iraq, and as growing casualties in Afghanistan are beginning to attract notice, it is a certainty that career military leaders are going to become more restive as they watch their troops die in attacks that remind us all of Vietnam and as the world continues to disintegrate. The power of the military, rarely discussed in the news media, is substantial. And if the military has no confidence in the White House, it will shake both Washington and Wall Street to the core. Without the military, Wall Street cannot function. This is especially true as conflicts continue to erupt all over Africa and instability mounts in Iran and Saudi Arabia. That instability was created by an administration that is increasingly demonstrating zero management competence.

[COMMENT: The above is from a quite lengthly article, which is available by clicking the link above. It is definitely recommended reading.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:31 PM

Drawing Lessons from Experience; The Agricultural Crises in North Korea and Cuba -- Part 1
(Dale Allen Pfeiffer, From the Wilderness, November 17, 2003)
One of the most frightening statements I have ever heard was the quote given in Paris last May by Dutch economist Maarten Van Mourik of the Netherlands Economic Institute, who observed regarding Peak Oil, "It may not be profitable to slow [oil and gas] decline." For North Korea and for the US, controlled by elites at the top, the proof of this is in the pudding. . . . As long as the world economy operates the way it does, based upon debt-financed growth, fractional reserve banking, $600 billion a year of drug money laundered through Wall Street, with equity and control held only at the very top, the results are easy to predict. And we find, as Dale Pfeiffer observes: The painful experiences of DPRK point out that dealing with an energy crisis is not just a matter of finding an alternative mode of transportation, an alternative energy source, or a return to organic agriculture. We are talking about the collapse of a complex system, in this case, a social system that evolved gradually from a labor-intensive agrarian society to a fossil fuel- supported industrial, technological society. It simply is not possible to step back to an agrarian society all at once, or to take a leap forward into some unknown high-tech society. Complex systems change gradually, bit by bit. Faced with immediate change, a complex system tends to collapse. . . . Yet Cuba has survived these traps. Why? Because it has achieved a degree of financial and economic flexibility unheard of in either North Korea or the US. How? By transferring equity and control back to local communities and making the standard of living of the people the first priority. Forget labels that Cuba is a Communist country. What has been implemented there is one of the purest forms of capitalism ever conceived -- a form of capitalism that empowers people rather than weakens them. It is the form of capitalism by which our grandparents and great grandparents survived the Great Depression in the US. And it is a form of capitalism that has been systematically wiped out in the US through corporate fraud, pension fund raids, mergers, acquisitions and the race towards a doomed-to-fail globalization in the name of corporate profit. . . . Cuba, almost a living model of the economic reforms envisioned by former Assistant Housing Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts' Solari Model, teaches us some powerful lessons, and what has been accomplished there will give you hope for the future. It will also make it clear that no efforts to survive the effects of Peak Oil and Gas in the industrialized world will succeed until the people find the will to change the way that money works, and to take responsibility for how it works in their own neighborhood. That is the only way to change the way power works in their government, or at large in a world of infinite war, infinite lies and infinite political dishonesty.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:51 PM

Pentagon spends $28 Million to get DRAFT READY BY JUNE 15, 2005!!
(Democratic Underground, November 15, 2003)
Oh, so there are "no plans" to re-instate the draft? No, there are just EXERCISES and $28 million extra to get the whole Selective Service ready and open for business by June 15, 2005!! . . . Read this official budget carefully [via above link] and you will see that Bush is gearing up the draft--there is no longer any doubt about it. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005, that the system is ready for activation within 75 days. So on June 15, 2005, expect the announcement that the first draft lottery since Vietnam will be held for 20 year-olds.

[COMMENT: If you are in college or planning on attending in the near future, you had better become involved in the anti-draft movement NOW! If you wait until the draft begins again it might be too late for you ... next stop a tight-fitting body bag in Iraq.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM

Massachusetts has ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to marry
(BBC NEWS, November 18, 2003)
Massachusetts could become the first state to recognise gay marriage. . . . Gay marriage is banned in the US, but one state, Vermont, has enacted a law which gives same-sex couples the rights of traditional marriages. . . . The Massachusetts court ruled that barring same-sex couples from the benefits of civil marriage was "unconstitutional." . . . "Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. It brings stability to our society," Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote in the long-awaited ruling. . . . The 4-3 ruling means the issue will now return to the state legislature, which has 180 days to come up with a solution. . . . In 2000, Vermont's state legislature approved civil unions for same-sex couples, giving them many of the same legal benefits of married couples. . . . Conservative groups and politicians opposed to homosexuality have been pressing for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages outright. . . . The bill, which has 96 sponsors in the House of Representatives, seeks to enshrine marriage as a union exclusively between one man and one woman, and would make same-sex unions a legal impossibility. . . . President George Bush does not believe in gay marriage . . . Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court overturned a ban on sodomy in Texas, essentially making it illegal for any state legislature to outlaw gay sex. . . . In November, the country's first openly gay bishop was formally consecrated in New Hampshire. . . . Gay marriages are legal in neighbouring Canada, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:48 AM

Families of soldiers serving in Iraq and vets joined a recent demonstration in Washington
Unlike demonstrations against the war in Vietnam during the 1960s, which featured scruffy, long-haired leftists and �hippies,� the Oct. 25 protests in Washington drew from a diverse crowd on both the left and right. . . . They marched in-step and shoulders squared with dozens of military families demanding that their husbands, sons, brothers and sweethearts �come home now!� . . . Carrying poster-sized photos of their loved ones standing proudly in dress uniforms, they raised a banner that read: �Bush Says Bring�em On, We Say Bring�em Home Now!� . . . About 300 military families, part of the 1,000-member Military Families Speak Out, also joined the anti-war march. They marched behind a banner reading: �Military Families Say Bring Them Home Now!� . . . �We honor and support our troops, but we are deeply opposed to the mission on which Mr. Bush has sent them,� said Stephen Cleghorn, a member of Families Speak Out who lives in the capital. . . . �I don�t think there�s any reason for war,� said Anne Alvalleee, 44, of Massachusetts. She said her father fought in Normandy in World War II. . . . The father of a Marine killed shortly after the invasion of Iraq began said the president lied. �President Bush has lied to the entire world about this war,� said Fernando de Solar Suarez of Escondido, Calif. His son Jesus was killed in action. He drew heavy applause from the crowd with these words: �We need to make Mr. Bush understand he�s not the owner of the lives of our children.� . . . Fred and Marianne D�Amato of Mount Ponono, Pa., carried pictures of their son Christopher, who is a reservist in Iraq. Fred served in Vietnam with the Navy for two years. . . . �They can�t speak up because they�re in the military, but we can,� said Marianne. �Osama bin Laden is still out there. That�s been forgotten. Instead, what does Bush do? He kills thousands of Iraqis. They�re picking our troops off . . . this is an unconstitutional war.�
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 8:25 PM

Anti-Americanism Begins to Grow in England
(Diana Muriel, CNN, November 15, 2003)
Mr. Bush has said he doesn't expect everyone in the world to agree with his policies. And many Britons are preparing to make their disagreement very vocal and very visible. Perhaps the most visible element will be a 20-foot effigy that's being built, an effigy of President Bush, which will be taken to Trafalgar Square at the end of the huge rally that's expected to take place in the capital on Thursday. And he'll be ceremoniously toppled over, a sort of rather cynical echo of the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. . . . it seems that it is more anti-Bush. But there has been a growing sense -- and this is something that's been talked about in the British press, papers, and on television and radio, about a growing sense of anti-Americanism. That the longer this continues, the more these policies are pursued in places like Iraq, the more Americans themselves become identified with the president's policies, rather than being separated from them. . . . I've been speaking to various expatriates here in London. There are about 200,000 expatriate Americans living in the U.K. They say they've noticed a significant shift since the war in Iraq. They sense they have to defend themselves as much as their country, and, indeed, their president when they discuss politics with ordinary Britons. This hasn't spilled over into any overt hostility. They're not being yelled at in the street ... But they are seeing more anti-American graffiti in and around the capital and other cities ... and they think that will only get worse when the president himself arrives here next Tuesday night. . . . Tony Blair and his relationship with Bush is not particularly healthy in terms of the perceptions of the British electorate. He's perceived by many in Britain, not exclusively, but by many in Britain as being far too close to the president, as being his poodle, if you like. And, in fact, there have been many cartoons in European newspapers, particularly in French newspapers, about Blair being President Bush's poodle.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:28 PM

Call Me a Bush-Hater
(Molly Ivins, The Progressive, November 14, 2003)
Among the more amusing cluckings from the right lately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think George W. Bush is a terrible president. . . . Robert Novak is quoted as saying in all his 44 years of covering politics, he has never seen anything like the detestation of Bush. Charles Krauthammer managed to write an entire essay on the topic of "Bush-haters" in Time magazine as though he had never before come across a similar phenomenon. . . . The puzzle is where this depth of feeling comes from," mused the ineffable Mr. Krauthammer. Gosh, what a puzzle that is. How could anyone not be just crazy about George W. Bush? "Whence the anger?" asks Krauthammer. "It begins of course with the 'stolen' election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy." . . . I'd say so myself, yes, I would. I was in Florida during that chilling post-election fight, and am fully persuaded to this good day that Al Gore actually won Florida, not to mention getting 550,000 more votes than Bush overall. But I also remember thinking, as the scene became eerier and eerier, "Jeez, maybe we should just let them have this one, because Republican wing-nuts are so crazy, their bitterness would poison Gore's whole presidency." The night Gore conceded the race in one of the most graceful and honorable speeches I have ever heard, I was in a ballroom full of Republican Party flacks who booed and jeered through every word of it. . . . One thing I acknowledge about the right is that they're much better haters than liberals are. . . . So George Dubya becomes president, having run as a "compassionate conservative," and what do we get? Hell's own conservative and dick for compassion. . . . His entire first eight months was tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich . . . By now, we're starting to notice Bush's bait-and-switch. . . . Promise $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa (wow!) but it turns out to be a cheap con, almost no new money. Bush comes to praise a job training effort, and then cuts the money. Bush says AmeriCorps is great, then cuts the money. Gee, what could we possibly have against this guy? We go along with the war in Afghanistan, and we still don't have bin Laden. . . . Then suddenly, in the greatest bait-and-switch of all time, Osama bin doesn't matter at all, and we have to go after Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11. But he does have horrible weapons of mass destruction, and our president "without doubt," without question, knows all about them, even unto the amounts � tons of sarin, pounds of anthrax. So we take out Saddam Hussein, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Iraqis are not overjoyed to see us. . . . By now, quite a few people who aren't even liberal are starting to say, "Wha the hey?" We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no weapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown to hell, we're stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year and no one knows how long we'll be there. And still poor Mr. Krauthammer is hard-put to conceive how anyone could conclude that George W. Bush is a poor excuse for a President. . . . Chuck, honey, it ain't just the 2.6 million jobs we've lost: People are losing their pensions, their health insurance, the cost of health insurance is doubling, tripling in price, the Administration wants to cut off their overtime, and Bush was so too little, too late with extending unemployment compensation that one million Americans were left high and dry. And you wonder why we think he's a lousy president? . . . In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of presidential will," says Krauthammer. . . . You bet your ass it was. We attacked a country that had done nothing to us, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and turns out not to have weapons of mass destruction. . . . Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies. . . . If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:36 PM

Soros Says Bush Reminds Him Of Nazis
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, November 12, 2003)
George Soros, one of the world's wealthiest financiers and philanthropists, has declared that getting George Bush out of the White House has become the "central focus" of his life, and he has put more than $15m (�9m) of his own money where his mouth is. . . . Mr Soros argues that the Bush White House is guided by a "supremacist ideology" that is leading it to abuse US power in its dealings with the rest of the world, and creating a state of permanent warfare. . . . The Hungarian emigre and finance genius has given nearly $5 billion to oppose dictators in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet bloc, but now he is directing his energies at the elected leader of his adopted country. . . . "It is the central focus of my life," he told the Washington Post in an interview published yesterday, after announcing a donation of $5m to a liberal activist organisation called MoveOn.org. The gift brings the total amount in donations to groups dedicated to Mr Bush's removal to $15.5m. . . . Other pledges of cash have gone to America Coming Together (ACT), an anti-Bush group that proposes to mobilise voters against the president in 17 battleground states. Mr Soros and a friend, Peter Lewis, the chairman of a car insurance company, promised $10m. . . . Mr Soros has also helped to bankroll a new liberal think-tank, the Centre for American Progress, to be headed by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta, which will aim to counter the rising influence of neo-conservative institutions in Washington. . . . the US is doing itself immeasurable harm by its heavy-handed role in the world. "The dominant position the United States occupies in the world is the element of reality that is being distorted," he writes, according to an excerpt to be published in next month's Atlantic Monthly magazine. "The proposition that the United States will be better off if it uses its position to impose its values and interests everywhere is the misconception. It is exactly by not abusing its power that America attained its current position." . . . The Bush administration's "war on terrorism" cannot be won, he argues, but is instead ushering in "a permanent state of war". He uses the emotive terms like "supremacist ideology" deliberately, saying that some of the rhetoric coming from the White House reminds him of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary. . . . "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans," he said in yesterday's interview. "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:49 PM

Defense Department Deletes Notice About Draft Boards from Its Web Site
On 23 Sept 2003, the Defense Department Website called "Defend America" posted a notice for people to join local draft boards. "If a military draft becomes necessary," the notice explained, "approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines."

In early November, that notice started to receive media attention, with articles from the Associated Press, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer , the Oregonian, the Toronto Star, the BBC, and London Guardian (unsurprisingly, none of the major papers or networks in the US covered it).

In a familiar turn of events, the notice suddenly disappeared from the Website. (Thanks to LG for pointing this out.) The Memory Hole has mirrored the page and posted the text at the page linked above.

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posted by Lorenzo 4:49 PM

The American Mass Media Put Itself At The Service Of The State
(Christiane Amanpour and Nicholas von Hoffman, Index for Free Expression, 18 September 2003)
the war was mostly mirage, something that evidently escaped the notice of the hundreds of correspondents sent to cover it. What one overheated television reporter compared to the Battle of the Somme was little more than what in Los Angeles they call a drive-by shooting. . . . It is only a mild exaggeration to say that American service personnel in Iraq were in greater danger from absent-mindedly-driven Coca-Cola trucks than from the opposing army, which had less firepower than that deployed by the police department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. . . . The news that there was no war because the other side was paid to take a family leave day was picked up by Fred Kaplan, one of the best military journalists about, who published these good tidings on the internet in Slate magazine on 20 May � and there the story died. . . . None the less, the proposition that the Iraqi military had been paid to take a dive was supported by occasional puzzled dispatches filed out of Baghdad in the days immediately prior to the commencement of the bombing, reporting that no preparations for war were visible. No sandbagging, no evacuations, no mobilisation of air-raid wardens or medical personnel were evident. Here was a capital city of five million people under threat of imminent invasion and bombardment and it was business as usual. . . . If it wasn�t a war, then what was it? Probably something akin to a turkey shoot. The press duly and diligently reported on the tens of thousands of bombs dropped on the Iraqi military. What got skipped over was that the turkeys could not or would not shoot back. . . . It is the tales of heroic derring-do in the face of a completely defenceless opponent that cause the cynical to cock a suspicious eyebrow. We can only speculate as to why so little was made of the battle-free nature of the conflict. At least three reasons suggest themselves. . . . 1) The lazy intellectual torpor afflicting not a few American journalists. . . . 2) The embarrassment print and broadcast media would face if they were to tell their publics: �Whoops! That war, those heroes, those bloodcurdling, tear-jerking scenes we have been entertaining you with for weeks on end � well, it didn�t happen.� . . . 3) Although you might conclude that the United States government would have a motive to step forward and claim for itself a humane, non-lethal, non-destructive kind of warfare, that�s not the reputation which the fire-eating, Israelised bellicists in the Pentagon want. The public relations policy pursued in those precincts is the old Roman one of oderint dum metuant. In short it�s fear, not love, they seek to inspire. . . . In that spirit Rachel Corrie, a young American woman making her non-violent protest by being killed standing in front of a rampaging Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, was a one-day story. . . . In contrast there is Private Jessica Lynch . . . Thanks to the foresight of the military, an army TV cameraman was brought along lest these heroic doings go unrecorded. For several days afterwards Jessica and her friends dominated all the US news channels. It remained for Canada�s Toronto Star to discover that there were no guards preventing Private Lynch from leaving the hospital, only a group of non-fiendish Iraqi medics doing their best to heal her wounds. The paper wrote that �the so-called daring rescue was essentially a Hollywood-style stunt�. . . . However much war may depress advertising and ruin the news budgets of the big media corporations, it gooses the ratings and it makes stars of the on-air performers. And heroes, too. HBO ran the movie Live from Baghdad, a full-length docudrama glorifying war whoredom. War packaged as a reality show played around the clock on the news channels as the journalistic war profiteers promoted themselves and their careers. . . . Seldom has ambition revealed itself as vividly as it did in the glistening eyes of the reporters, their happily agitated voices, their perturbed, gulping deliveries, the stagy bathos concealing their erotic delight in the cannon�s comforting boom and the machine gun�s reassuring chatter. Simply put, the American mass media put itself at the service of the state. . . . History tells us that when the United States went to war in the twentieth century, American journalism was among the first to enlist. . . . A belief persists that the mass media parted company with the government over the Vietnam War, but it didn�t. From the start the media backed the Vietnam War to the hilt, only occasionally arguing with the government over the best way to win it. . . . If George Bush said �it�s a war� or said �it�s a dinosaur�, that�s what the media saw and that�s what the media said. . . . Most American mass media most of the time contain little or no foreign news. All but a couple of hundred of the nation�s thousands of radio stations broadcast no news at all, literally not a word. In peacetime, television stations and newspapers, with perhaps 25 exceptions, skip coverage of events abroad. . . . American CNN is bubble-head news. It is an unwatchable gallimaufry of crime, scandal, tear-jerker reunions and the like. In peacetime the functions of mass media are advertising, entertainment and inculcating the norms and opinions that a nation, terrified of disunity, wants in its people. . . . This could even be said of such top-notch media as the New York Times, which often functions as an American Osservatore Romano, the semi-official publication of the government and the leading elites and power groups outside government. To the practised reader there are days when the Times�s front page looks more like a bulletin board of leaks and announcements from major private and public institutions than a newspaper printing independently gathered information. . . . It is the third, less widely reported uproar involving Judith Miller, a star foreign correspondent, that is causing consternation. In the lead-up to the invasion and afterwards, Miller was the principal Times correspondent writing about weapons of mass destruction. . . . Her copy has been an unending warning that the Iraqis were ready, willing and able to let loose a nightmare of carnage on an innocent world. Since other, less prestigious publications and much, if not most, of television take their cue from the Times, her stories solidified the conviction that these weapons existed and were aimed at the American heartland. . . . It is reasonable to assume Miller�s work played no small part in building popular support for the war in the face of scepticism almost everywhere else. Long before her weapons of mass destruction hit the page, Miller�s critics, mostly other foreign correspondents and think-tankers, had come to believe that she is less of a reporter than a conduit through which powerful people and institutions get their side of the story out. . . . Their suspicions about Miller were confirmed when it popped out that her main source for her weapons stories is Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile with a troubled past whom the White House and the Pentagon once hoped to govern their newly conquered territory. It also came out that at least one of her stories concerning WMDs had been all but dictated and edited by the army before Miller sent it to the Times, which put it on its front page. . . . No major news organisation evinced doubts that the famous �smoking gun� would be found, and now that it is turning out to be a dribbling water pistol, the subject is passed over everywhere in near silence. . . . Only one United States senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, fully, completely and unqualifiedly opposed the invasion of Iraq. . . . Ham-handed propaganda movies like the odious Saving Private Ryan are taken to be historical truth by the great unwashed and by the editorial writers. The country is soaked in false, inaccurate, distorted and self-adulatory histories. Thanks to these media, America is coming to see itself as the dissed democracy of generosity, goodness and valour which is met by ingratitude, spite and envious hatred, the natural consequence of being better than everyone else. . . . George W Bush has a four-person team doing for him what the 1930s movie maker Leni Riefenstahl did for Adolf Hitler, that is prepare backdrops heavy with symbolic meaning for presidential appearances. The pledge of allegiance has become a tool of social intimidation. One is pressured to recite it in the classroom, on the athletic field, at theatrical events and at the commencement of every kind of meeting. . . . The singing of the national anthem is incessant. Athletic events begin with an �Oh, say can you see� and are interrupted midway for a rousing chorus of �God Bless America�. The country is taking on a hue and tone reminiscent of the authoritarian state. As it does so, the distinction between patriotism and militarism is getting blurred.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:56 AM

Baghdad George
(Charley Reese, November 7, 2003)
I guess it was inevitable. Someone has compared President George Bush to "Baghdad Bob," the inadvertently comical Iraqi information minister who kept insisting Iraq was winning the war even as American tanks gathered outside his office. . . . the president's latest press conference, when he said attacks were increasing in Iraq because the occupation was so successful. In other words, the situation is worse because the situation is better. The more successful we are, the more Americans and Iraqis will die from bombs and ambushes. . . . He absolutely refuses to acknowledge that the people attacking Americans in Iraq are anyone but Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists. Actually, most of them are probably just Iraqis who resent foreign occupation and the bad behavior of some American troops. . . . If he read newspapers, which he told a TV interviewer that he doesn't, he would know that. Even one of the American officers in Iraq recently slipped up and, in an interview with a journalist, referred to the guerrillas as "freedom fighters." There is scant evidence of any sizable number of foreign terrorists, at least none that secretive American officials have been willing to make public. . . . And, of course, the president made no mention whatsoever of weapons of mass destruction. During the marketing campaign for the war, he hardly opened his mouth without talking about weapons of mass destruction. He refuses to acknowledge that he made a mistake when he said major combat was over last May. . . . What's wrong with saying: "Yes, at that time, I thought major combat was over. I knew there would be some resistance, but it's been more deadly and lasted longer than I anticipated." Nobody would hold that against him. But, no, he's perfect. It reminds me of that old joke that says, "We Southerners may not always be right, but, by God, we ain't never wrong." At any rate, now the guerrillas have killed more Americans than the Iraqi army did during that major combat. . . . He keeps repeating that canard that "terrorists hate freedom." Nonsense. There is no terrorist in the world who is a terrorist because he hates freedom. By far, the majority of terrorists are fighting for freedom of some group that doesn't have it. In the case of Iraq, it is freedom from American occupation; with the Irish Republican Army, it was freedom from British rule; with the Palestinians, freedom from Israeli occupation; and so forth. It is absurd to suppose that a human being sitting around suddenly stands up and says: "You know, I hate freedom. I think I'll go blow myself up." . . . What one wants in a president, besides basic honesty, are intelligence and sound judgment. One wants someone who is well-read in history and geography and has experience so that he can properly assess situations and make wise decisions. . . . Sadly, I think that's where the president fails . . . No good leader would rely on his staff without developing his own independent sources of information, lest he find himself being manipulated into following the staff's agenda instead of his own. . . . He was certainly told that Iraqis would be dancing in the streets welcoming us, but the only dancing was done by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz when rockets went off in the floor beneath his hotel room and he leaped out of bed and frantically put his clothes on to get out of there.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:55 AM

An Open Letter to America: It's Time to Take Back Our Country
(John & Elaine Mellencamp, 22 October 2003)
We, as a nation must now confront the truth. We face the unpleasant reality of an uncertain future, compromised safety, a failing economy, and the question of how a society of otherwise reasonable citizens was systematically lied to and manipulated into backing the political "hijacking" of Iraq. . . . Before a single bomb was ever dropped, some of us, formerly called the "anti-American and unpatriotic," have questioned or opposed this war. Now, each day, as the dust settles and the truth slowly surfaces, more and more people come to the inevitable conclusion of what a debacle this whole war was. . . . 39,000 bombs later, no weapons of mass destruction uncovered, no dangerous dictators captured, no connection to Sept 11. What have we gained but relentless media coverage of a fallen statue and some stolen oil fields -- the spoils of this misadventure. Not to mention lucrative corporate payoffs and an enormous price tag of over 80 Billion dollars . . . some tax cut. . . . But what have we lost? We have lost the lives of over 300 Americans. Approximately 2 U.S. troop deaths each day, 193 deaths since the war was declared over. In total, an estimated 20,000 people have died, thus far, in this conflict. . . . We have managed to squander any goodwill we once had to now succeed in solidifying our image as the globe's leading bully. Arrogant and thoughtless. . . . Who is to say what is or isn't "patriotic?" Do the flags that wave from every minivan really offer any support? Where is the support for the thousands of service men and women who return to the states to see their benefits cut, their health problems ignored, their jobs gone and their families living in poverty? How are they repaid for their efforts; for risking or losing their lives? So far, dismally. . . . The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn't been recalled? Perhaps this time we could even have a real election . . . but that wouldn't fit the Bush administration's "take what you want and fire people later" policy. Take an election; take an oil field; take advantage of your own people -- a game of political Three-Card Monte. . . . The fight for freedom in this country has been long, painful, and ongoing. It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas, corporate greed and overall manipulation. It is time to take action here in our land, in our own schools, neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action. Now is the time to come together.

[COMMENT: If you would like to forward a copy of this letter, click on the link above and you will see the full letter along with a link to email it to a friend.]
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posted by Lorenzo 12:34 PM

Michael Moore's Thoughts About Bush and the 2004 Elections
I want him [Bush] paraded in handcuffs outside a police house as a common criminal because I don't know if there's a greater crime than taking people to war based on a lie. I've never seen anything like Bush and his people. They truly hate our Constitution, our rights and liberties. They have no shame in fighting for their corporate sponsors.

I honestly believe they are putting their toe in the water to see if people will go for martial law. After 9/11 we had hundreds of Arab-Americans rounded up and put in prison with no charges. You know, there's an undercurrent of feeling that we may not even have an election next year. If there is another 9/11, a justification may be used to call it off and instal martial law.

--Michael Moore
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posted by Lorenzo 11:01 AM

Bush Administration Prepares to Bring Back the Military Draft
(Dave Lindorff, Salon.com, November 3, 2003)
The Pentagon is quietly moving to fill draft board vacancies nationwide. . . . The community draft boards that became notorious for sending reluctant young men off to Vietnam have languished sinced the early 1970s, their membership ebbing and their purpose all but lost when the draft was ended. But a few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life. Especially for those who were of age to fight in the Vietnam, it is an ominous flashback of a message. Even floating the idea of a draft in the months before an election would be politically explosive, and the Pentagon last week was adamant that the push to staff up the draft boards is not a portent of things to come. Increasingly, however, military experts and even some influential members of Congress are suggesting that if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to consider a draft to fully staff the nation's military in a time of global instability. . . . Not since the early days of the Reagan administration in 1981 has the Defense Department made a push to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots. . . . "The experts are all saying we're going to have to beef up our presence in Iraq," says U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat. "We've failed to convince our allies to send troops, we've extended deployments so morale is sinking, and the president is saying we can't cut and run. So what's left? The draft is a very sensitive subject, but at some point, we're going to need more troops, and at that point the only way to get them will be a return to the draft." . . . The draft, ended by Congress in 1973 as the Indochina War was winding down, was long a target of antiwar activists, and remains highly controversial both in and out of the military. Most military officers understandably prefer an army of volunteers and career soldiers over an army of grudging conscripts; Rumsfeld, too, has long been a staunch advocate of an all-volunteer force. . . . According to some experts, basic math might compel the Pentagon to reconsider the draft: Of a total U.S. military force of 1.4 million people around the globe (many of them in non-combat support positions and in services like the Air Force and Navy), there are currently about 140,000 active-duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers currently deployed in Iraq -- and though Rumsfeld has been an advocate of a lean, nimble military apparatus, history suggests he needs more muscle. . . . "There the British needed a ratio of 10 soldiers per 1,000 population to restore order, and at their height, it was 20 soldiers per 1,000 population. If you transfer that to Iraq, it would mean you'd need at least 240,000 troops and maybe as many as 480,000. "The only reason you aren't hearing these kinds of numbers discussed by the White House and the Defense Department right now," Pe�a adds, "is that you couldn't come up with them without a return to the draft, and they don't want to talk about that." . . . Stars and Stripes, the Army's official paper, reports that a poll it conducted found that half the soldiers in Iraq say they are "not likely" or are "very unlikely" to reenlist -- a very high figure. Consider that the total enlistment goal for active Army and Army reserves in the fiscal year ended Oct. 1 was 100,000. If half of the 140,000 troops currently in Iraq were to go home and stay, two-thirds of this year's recruits would be needed to replace them. And that does not take into consideration military needs at home and around the globe. . . . "The government is in a bit of a box," Lebow says. "They can hold reservists on active duty longer, and risk antagonizing that whole section of America that has family members who join the Reserves. They can try to pay soldiers more, but it's not clear that works -- and besides, there's already an enormous budget deficit. They can try to bribe other countries to contribute more troops, which they're trying to do now, but not with much success. Or they can try Iraqization of the war -- though we saw what happened to Vietnamization, and Afghanization of the war in Afghanistan isn't working, so Iraqization doesn't seem likely to work either. "So," Lebow concludes, "that leaves the draft." . . . Already, the American public is almost as split today over the war in Iraq as it was about the war in Indochina nearly four decades ago, though not yet as passionately. But a new draft would likely incite even deeper resentment than it did then. In the last war fought by a conscript army, draft deferments for students meant that nobody who was in college had to worry about being called up until after graduation, and until late in that war, it was even possible, by going to grad school (like Vice President Dick Cheney), to avoid getting drafted altogether. In the Vietnam War era, college boys could also duck combat, as George W. Bush did, by joining the National Guard. . . . But that's all been changed. In a new draft, college students whose lottery number was selected would only be permitted to finish their current semester; seniors could finish their final year. After that, they'd have to answer the call. Meanwhile, National Guardsmen, as we've seen in the current war, are now likely to face overseas combat duty, too. "If Congress and Bush reinstitute the draft, it would be the '60s all over again," predicts Lebow.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:30 AM

Bush press conference: the bigger the crisis, the bigger the lies
(David Walsh and Barry Grey, wsws.org, 30 October 2003)
The contrast between rhetoric and reality reached new heights at the press conference held by President Bush October 28. It was Bush�s first news conference since July 30 and only the second since early March, two weeks prior to the invasion of Iraq. . . . Evidently, the president�s advisers felt obliged to put Bush before the microphones to counter the political fallout from the reversals on the ground in Iraq. One commentator called the move �a desperate effort by a White House that�s trying to stem serious erosion in public support for its handling of Iraq.� . . . Bush proved his usual inane and banal self, unable to provide a coherent or substantive answer to a single question. Even the usually fawning New York Times had to admit that Bush �stumbled over his lines at times, and his usual good-natured jousting with reporters occasionally turned snippy.� . . . In his opening remarks Bush presented a view of events ludicrously at odds with reality. Citing America�s �continuing work in Afghanistan and Iraq,� the president declared: �The world is safer today because Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are gone.� This under conditions of a growing guerrilla war in Afghanistan and the single most bloody day of anti-US violence in Baghdad since the beginning of the American occupation. . . . The president was no less surreal when he turned to domestic affairs. He declared himself �optimistic about the future of the economy,� but said nothing about the impact of another $87 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq on a federal budget deficit already at record levels, dozens of state governments on the brink of insolvency, trade and payments deficits reaching new heights every month, and a dollar already under mounting international pressure. . . . According to Bush�s inverted logic, American colonial rule is synonymous with peace and freedom, and resistance to this rule is, by definition, terrorism . . . Repeating the administration mantra that Iraq is �a new front in the war in terror��a front created by Washington�s unprovoked invasion�Bush repeated another standard administration line, calling Iraq a �particular battle in the war on terror.� In other words, this is only one of many more wars to come. . . . When he was asked to �level� with the American people �about the difficulty and scope of the problem in Iraq,� Bush could only mutter: �Iraq�s a dangerous place. That�s leveling. It is a dangerous place.� . . . The president�s contempt for the soldiers, their families and the American people as a whole was captured in his response to a perfectly legitimate question: would Bush promise that �a year from now ... you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?� Bush�s response: �This is a trick question, so I won�t answer it.� . . . One of the more bizarre, but revealing, moments in the press conference occurred when Bush turned his attention to the 2004 elections. He suggested that the American people would be patient with the ongoing difficulties in Iraq �during an election year, because they tend to be able to differentiate between, you know, politics and reality.� He then expanded on his conception of politics: �a lot of noise and a lot of balloon drops and a lot of hot air. And I�ll probably be right in the mix of it, by the way.� . . . Two things are revealed by this remark�first, unabashed cynicism, and second, Bush�s disinterest in politics in any conventional sense. To Bush, politics is simply mass manipulation and deception. It is a diversion from the �real� role of the president, which is to pursue with the requisite ruthlessness the aims of the American financial oligarchy, both abroad and at home. . . . That such a cipher is able to pursue his program of war and social reaction is, above all, a testament to the lack of serious opposition from the Democratic Party. The absence of opposition from within the political and media establishment signifies that the program of the Bush administration embodies the policy of the US ruling elite.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:04 PM

A disturbing letter from a US soldier
[NOTE: The following was sent to us by a trusted friend.]

This is a copy of an email a reader received from a soldier buddy...

I am in that unit that they talk about at Ft. Stewart. It is worse
than they say it is and when the brass came around to see the barracks
they were shown the good ones that have air conditioning and other
comforts. They were NOT shown the ones where about 80% of us stay
where there is no indoor plumbing, nor air conditioning. Also, the bed
matresses are infested with chiggars, mold, and all are just plain
dirty. They are open bays with about 18 inches between bunks and no
lockers to secure your private gear. It is that bad. I lived it.

I withheld the name to protect the identity. Thought you might like
to know...

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:38 AM

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