Saturday, February 12, 2005

Cutting of the Head to Save the Body

cor-re-spon-dent n. A thing that corresponds; a correlative. -adj. Corresponding or suitable; conformable.

Exit Strategy: Taking Back the CBC

I was treated today (F12)to one of CBC News' newest programs. 'Correspondent' ran a BBC documentary that contends: "All's well in Iraq. As well as can be expected, better in some cases." Today (F12) the producers at CBC News ran the BBC documentary, 'Exit Strategy' on the "iraq crisis."

Fittingly, considering the CBC's obvious determination to serve merely as a 750 million dollar per year echo chamber for the corporate megaphone currently destroying our southern neighbour, and much of the rest of the planet, the title of the Corp.'s new offering is perfectly Orwellian. Judging by the tonight's report on Iraq, it corresponds to no reality, excepting the DoubleSpeak emanating from the likes of FOX, etc.

Now, I'm used well to the crap-bath of mainstream media mindstream sewage coming from below the 49th, and it's fourth estate fifth columnists operating from this country, and respect their right to opinion; but I won't pay for it. The CBC, on the other hand is another hand in my pocket.

If we're to sustain a public broadcaster, an arguable necessity for any properly functioning democracy, then it's time we Canadians take back the public airwaves. We cannot allow a Continentalist philosophy control of the biggest media organ in the country. Especially now, when their message is bolstering the prospect of a spreading war, a war that will encompass Canada and the rest of NATO.

We must stand and be heard on this: Canadians are fortunate to have an entity like the CBC, a theoretically public institution dedicated to the public weal. The infrastructure and assets of the CBC could help prevent a disasterous allegiance with the criminal element currently running roughshod over the globe. But, as the CBC is constituted, we seem in for more bare propaganda, generated from distant studios.

Gangsters for Freedom: The World is Our Turf!


From Haiti to Iraq: The Pirate's Brand of Democracy
Black Commentator.com
Feb. 12, '05



The U.S. is determined to “make the pursuit of freedom the organizing principle of the 21st century,” said Condoleezza Rice on the Paris leg of her worldwide debut as Secretary of State. The real nature of this pirate-imposed brand of “democracy,” designed to bestow absolute freedom of action to U.S. corporations, is evident in Iraq and Haiti.

After attempting to straightjacket future Iraqi governments with laws that would have allowed 100 percent foreign ownership of key state assets – in direct contradiction of the Iraqi constitution – and placing exiles in nominal power, the U.S. reluctantly agreed to hold elections. Yet the Americans continue to harden at least 12 “enduring bases” as if they have no intention of leaving, no matter what Iraq’s future government says.

In Haiti, the U.S. organized and financed the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s democratically elected government on February 29 of last year, then forced him into exile.

Secretary of State Colin Powell devised what may be the lamest excuse in history for gross violations of international law: “He was democratically elected but he (Aristide) did not democratically govern well” – a wholly new and bizarre standard for national sovereignty and self-determination.

In both Haiti and Iraq, many thousands have been slaughtered in pursuit of Condoleezza Rice’s “organizing principle” – a policy that the Bush men fantasize will prevail for the remainder of the century. They are delusional and increasingly desperate, but you wouldn’t know it from consuming the American corporate media, which is as oblivious (or hostile) to the opinions of mankind as are the rulers in Washington. The dead of Haiti and Iraq lie uncounted except, of course, by Haitians and Iraqis whose opinions and actions will ultimately unravel the imperial project – early, rather than later, in this century.



As with Iraq’s recent election-at-gunpoint, foreign-occupied Haiti is scheduled to hold municipal elections in October and choose a national legislature and president a month later. In anticipation, the American-picked regime of Gerard Latortue – formerly of Boca Raton, Florida – is busily arresting, hunting and killing activists of Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, the overwhelming choice of the country’s poor majority. Latortue’s police, now made up mostly of ex-members of the army that Aristide disbanded in 1995, share a common background and murderous mission with the gangster bands that kill at will in much of the countryside. Lending legitimacy to the macabre arrangement are the Brazilian-led “peacekeepers” of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, who reject “any responsibility in the killing of people who have been taken into custody by UN soldiers and handed over to the national police,” according to the Haitian Press Agency (AHP).

Clearly, there is no right to freedom of assembly – or even the right to life – in Haiti since the regime change so shamefully facilitated by Colin Powell. (See , “Godfather Colin Powell, the Gangster of Haiti,” March 4, 2004.) Therefore, it became necessary to hold an extraordinary meeting of Haitian Lavalas activists and allies in Washington, DC, this past weekend, to “gather different parts of the force fighting here and elsewhere for Haiti to win back its national dignity and the return of democracy to Haiti” – a democracy that was stolen by the United States.

Heritage of struggle



The Kongre Bwa Kayiman 2005 – Congress of Crocodile Woods 2005, in the Haitian Creole language, in honor of the first gathering of maroon chiefs to plot strategy against the French in 1791 – brought together Haitians from the United States and elsewhere, American Haiti support organizations, and fearless activists who continue to operate inside Haiti. Organized by the Fondasyon (Foundation) Mapou, September 30th Foundation, Haiti Action Committee, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, and the Haitian Initiative for Democracy, and hosted by Trinity University, the event sought to “define strategies of resistance, which can allow us to reinforce in Haiti and the Diaspora the mobilization for the return of democracy and the recovery of national sovereignty.”

At least 3,000 Haitians have been murdered by ex-military marauders and Latortue’s police and 100,000 forced into hiding since the February 29 “coup-napping,” as Mario Dupuy puts it. Dupuy is the Communications Secretary of Haiti’s Constitutional Government – the Aristide government still recognized by much of the world. “A humanitarian catastrophe is going to arrive in two to three years,” Dupuy told the gathering at Trinity College. Because of the reign of terror, the Haitian peasantry’s modes of production have been disrupted. Normally, some seeds are saved from each crop to plant for the next cycle. “But with the massive internal displacement, forcing people to hide in the big cities…the first thing we notice is that the peasants have been forced to eat the produce that would otherwise be used for seeds.” Dupuy believes “there is an imminent risk that we’ll have a situation similar to what we saw in Ethiopia. There will be a huge influx in refugees.”

The refugee crisis will be both internal to Haiti and external, forcing legions of Haitians to take to the high seas, as occurred in the early Nineties after a previous coup against President Aristide, hugely contributing to President Bill Clinton’s decision to oust the military and bring Aristide out of U.S. exile in 1994. Clinton saw no alternative, since the military and the tiny elite it served had no social base sufficient to rule the country without resort to terror. The same applies to the Latortue regime, today. Thus, as the regime moves reluctantly toward elections in the Fall, to be overseen by the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), it attempts to co-opt the more “bourgeois” elements of Fanmi Lavalas. “They felt it was necessary to take control of the communications of the people, the Lavalas party,” said Dupuy. “They think they have the right to determine the leadership of the Family Lavalas party.”

The regime is caught in a hopeless contradiction – from which it should not be rescued by naïve elements among African Americans who wish to “help” Haitians by supporting direct aid to the Latortue government. As Dupuy pointed out: “From March 2004 to now the U.S. gave the Haitian government $230 million. Much of this aid ended up on the market in the Dominican Republic,” including aid in the wake of Hurricane Jeanne. “Not one school or hospital was built in the country, despite $230 million over 11 months."

During Aristide’s tenure, an average of 37 schools were built every year. Latortue heads a regime of piranhas. “That’s why Lavalas still has the support of the people,” said Dupuy.

Elections in the midst of slaughter



Unlike in Iraq, where the resistance daily brings the fight directly to the occupiers and their minions, the Haitian resistance in slums like Cite Soleil and Bel Air resembles that of African Americans in the old South confronting the depredations of the Ku Klux Klan – “an armed resistance of necessity, but not coordinated,” said one participant in the Washington conference.

Aristide’s MLK-Ghandi creed of nonviolence remains dominant among the Haitian masses, who are also too poor to afford the ordinance of war. However, also unlike Iraq, where Sunnis, Shia and Kurds pursue different paths to national or ethnic independence – with the latter two groups participating more or less enthusiastically in the recent election – the clear majority of Haitians have proven repeatedly that they support Aristide and Lavalas. Without their participation, there can be no credible election – just a joust among mini-parties.

Lavalas leadership announced on February 1 that they would boycott the elections, calling “the interim government a regime of terror” engaged in “massacring supporters of President Aristide in the populist districts,” according to AHP. "How can one speak of elections when our senior officials and activists are imprisoned and our supporters persecuted across the country," asked Felito Doran, the former Lavalas Deputy from Pétion-Ville.

A report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) says the threatened Lavalas boycott “is a direct result of the suppression carried out against party supporters by paramilitary factions and gang leaders who get their marching orders from the Latortue government.” The report documents “new evidence… that Latortue and his rogue justice minister, Bernard Gousse, are engaged in an all-out-war against Haiti’s poor, who make up the vast majority of the population and who overwhelmingly support Aristide.”

Meanwhile, Canada, a frontline state in the imperial phalanx against Haiti, along with France and the United States, prepares schemes to establish a protectorate in Haiti – that is, to protect the citizens of the first Black republic in the world (and the second republic in the Western Hemisphere) from enjoying the rights of self-determination and sovereignty. (See , “Haiti: Colin Powell’s Crime in Progress, December 7, 2004.)

According to the COHA report, the $45-50 million cost of the October and November elections “will be covered in (small) part by the government and in large part by contributions from international donors.” Three guesses on who those donors will be, and who will actually be running the show?


Under the pretense that elemental human rights exist in Haiti, U.S. immigration authorities appear to have begun wholesale arrests and deportations of Haitians, in November. In addition to the ancient imperatives of all-American racism, the roundups are doubtless designed to increase pressure on Diaspora Haitians, who can better be dealt with under the tender mercies of Latortue and his thugs. A protester at a Fort Lauderdale rally in late January told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “They stop Haitians on the street, in the malls, where they work, everywhere. I guess we're easy to be spotted, because we're black. They take them and send them back to Haiti.”

The Bush men are heating the same pressure cooker that forced Clinton to take action against the Haitian military junta in 1994. Only this time, poor Haitians have been allowed to taste nearly a decade of democracy and participate in valiant steps toward self-development under Aristide. A national transformation has already occurred, one that cannot be “guided” by the unholy troika of the U.S., Canada and France.

A different world

In ways that the Bush Pirates could never have contemplated, the hemisphere and world have also been transformed, especially since the invasion of Iraq. Although Brazil and Chile have acted shamefully in sending their soldiers to Haiti under UN auspices – an occupation they rationalize as a means of keeping even more homicidal U.S. soldiers out of the country – it is not without great domestic political cost. The mildly socialist Brazilian and Chilean heads of state heard the sentiments of their own base constituencies at the recent World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where thousands of delegates demanded:

The return to office of President Aristide
An end to the occupation of Haiti
Cessation of illegal arrests by UN forces in Haiti
Freedom for political prisoners
Non-recognition of the Latortue regime
Asylum for politically persecuted Haitians
U.S. hands off Latin America and the Caribbean
Solidarity with Venezuela and Cuba


The hands-down star of Porto Alegre was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – like Aristide, also the victim of U.S.-sponsored kidnapping in 2002, but freed and restored to power by popular demand. Chavez affirmed that Aristide remains the President of Haiti. “There is no solution in Haiti without Aristide," said Chavez. “The solution is not in the hands of the United Nations or a group of presidents. It must be taken by the people of Haiti."



Derided as eccentric and worse by the U.S. corporate media – the same treatment they gave Aristide – Chavez, in words and actions, points the way toward consolidation of sovereign national power and solidarity among the peoples of the South. And he does not bite his tongue. "The most negative force in the world today is the government of the United States," he told the World Social Forum. "Look at Vietnam, look at Iraq and Cuba resisting, and now look at Venezuela…. When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force.”

He brought down the house. Chavez’s vision also includes the oppressed in the United States:

“We must start talking again about equality. The U.S. government talks about freedom and liberty, but never about equality… They are not interested in equality. This is a distorted concept of liberty. The U.S. people, with whom we share dreams and ideals, must free themselves... A country of heroes, dreamers, and fighters, the people of Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.”

Fifteen thousand Cuban doctors care for the poor in Venezuela. Since March of 2003, Cubans have treated 17 million Venezuelans, most of whom had never had access to medical care. In return, Venezuela ships 53,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba, one-third of the country’s total consumption – a model for South-South cooperation in the 21st century, and a partnership that will surely be joined in some form by a free Haiti.



535 Cuban medical volunteers continue to practice in Haiti, despite the virulently reactionary nature of the Latortue regime. There is no alternative, certainly not from the United States, Canada or France. “It is estimated that over the last 5 years, Cuban doctors have treated over 5 million Haitians,” according to Radio Havana. “And with 90 per cent of the country's mere 2000 doctors operating in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the Cubans have been providing the bulk of services in the rest of the country.”

As Hugo Chavez declared in Porto Alegre:

”It is impossible, within the framework of the capitalist system to solve the grave problems of poverty of the majority of the world's population. We must transcend capitalism. But we cannot resort to state capitalism, which would be the same perversion of the Soviet Union. We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one which puts humans, and not machines or the state ahead of everything.”

The irrationality of capitalism at this stage in history, and the sheer rapaciousness of the Pirates in Washington, is forcing both progressive governments and otherwise conservative global elites to seek new frameworks and modes of trade that circumvent the United States and its plummeting dollar and fatal embrace. While Americans follow the bouncing ball of sham elections in foreign lands, the world draws a red line around the superpower, which is no longer welcome at meetings where future development is formulated. Brazil throws its economy open to China – anybody but the American devil they know too well – and forms strategic trade alliances with South Africa and India. The Chinese and Indians attempt to rationalize the mutual strengths of their exploding economies. Russia interlocks with the Chinese engine, and begins to de-couple itself from the dollar, which now costs much more than it is worth, in favor of the euro, according to no less conservative a source than the Financial Times of London.

It is in such an evolving world that a free Haiti will emerge – and an independent Iraq.

Unfit for empire



The Iraqi election – won by the Shi’ite clerical establishment, not by the Americans, who never wanted it to happen – is now framed as some kind of U.S. triumph. In reality, it was an event imposed on the U.S. by the Shia majority, in return for not joining the armed resistance. In this context, the election was a U.S. defeat, and more defeats are in store when a constitution is drawn up that bears no resemblance to the laws promulgated by the initial U.S.-picked Provisional Government. Condoleezza Rice and other Washington mouthpieces, sprinting desperately to get ahead of the curve of events, have adapted their language to the new relationship of forces in Iraq. The formula is to hold stage-managed elections, conducted against a backdrop of naked force and assassination, in which genuine nationalist forces are marginalized or liquidated. British-Pakistani writer Tariq Ali says it well:

”The aim is slowly to replace the traditional elites in the old satrapies with a new breed of neo-liberal politicians who have been trained and educated in the US. This is the primary function of the US money allocated to "democracy promotion." Loyalty can be purchased from politicians, parties and trades unions. And the result, it is hoped, is to create a new layer of janissary politicians who serve Washington.”

That’s the idea, anyway. But it is doomed in Iraq, and in Haiti, as well. In both countries, the mass political cultures are repulsed by the alternately fawning and grasping behavior of the tiny comprador classes, who cannot provide the Americans with a social base strong enough to govern in Washington’s behalf – and are, in fact, not even interested in real governance. The vital sectors are nationalist, whether on the Right, as is largely the case in Iraq, or on the Left, as in Haiti.

The great coup that the Bush men have pulled on themselves, is to alienate the whole of mankind. This feat of incompetence is inseparable from the heritage of Indian extermination and slavery, a history that yielded unprecedented riches to the white settlers and thrust them onto the world stage – armed with nothing but guns and a depraved indifference to anyone but themselves. Lacking any understanding of societies – including their own – they make enemies wherever they tread. The very process of opposing the Americans uplifts and transforms those whom the U.S. seeks to rule.

Haiti has had a very rough 200 years of independence. Yet the liberation struggle led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, essentially a battle against compradors of the United States, has steeled a generation or two of Haitians, many of whom were represented at the Kongre Bwa Kayiman at Trinity College, in Washington. “They took a lot of risk in coming,” said principal conference organizer Eugenia Charles-Mathurin.

“The most important thing is their determination to see change,” said Ms. Charles-Mathurin. “They take the chance, because who else is going to do it? We still have the same approach as we did in 1804” when Haiti declared its independence. “The slave had to take chances to meet. It was a risk to attend the first Kongre Bwa Kayiman (Congress of Crocodile Woods) in 1791.” But 13 years later, Haiti had defeated the French, British and Spanish to achieve republican nationhood and an end to slavery.

It is a risk to rush into a brand new world. But that world appears, nevertheless. The crocodiles are bigger, but just as stupid.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Majestic Cockroach




Plaut and the ChronWatch Crazies: Viva La Cucaracha!

Kurt Nimmo
Feb. 11, '05



Steven Plaut, a Zionist on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Haifa, in the outlaw state of Israel, thinks I’m a cockroach—or more accurately, one of “Cockburn’s Cockroaches,” a reference to Alexander Cockburn, coeditor with Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch, a popular web site and also a print newsletter.

As I wrote St. Clair, after he forwarded a copy of Plaut’s derisive screed (The Lunatic Left: Ward Churchill and Counterpunch.com)—wherein the good instructor of business lambasted several writers—and posted on the ChronWatch web site earlier today, I am honored to be a “Cockburn Cockroach.” I wear it as a badge of honor as I scurry about on my tiny brown legs, sort of like a character in a Kafka novel, my antennae clacking away at the computer keyboard, defending “pro-terror professors,” most notably Ward Churchill and Shahid Alam.

Since I am a mere 40 miles from Mexico, here in southern New Mexico, where the first language is often Spanish—much the chagrin of right-wingers—I prefer to be called a Cockburn cucaracha.

Viva La Cucaracha!

Reading Plaut’s denunciation, I had to laugh, or at least chuckle, because, as usual, it is a whole lot of something about absolutely nothing.

Plaut offers the same bland and oft-repeated fare served up by the likes of David Horowitz, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and a nearly inexhaustible roster of right-wing paranoiacs who believe a small number of mostly marginalized, in the larger media sense, “treasonous lunatics and Hate-America neurotics” are nothing less than a portentous threat to America. It irks these busy-bodies to no end that a few lefty profs and instructors have taken refuge on the campuses of America, about the only place left for them to work in peace, or so it seemed until Lynne Cheney and Bill Bennett, drawing on the inquisitional example of Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz, decided to run them off as a dire threat to the current generation of students.

Of course, these far right field paranoiacs—or possibly crazy, as in delusional—as demonstrated by Plaut’s perfectly timed malediction, are not strictly interested in a few Marxist or even Ethnic Studies professors. No, they shall not rest until all of the “semi-civilized” beasts are exorcised from America, or at least written off as “Hate-America neurotics” whose “politics reflect little more than an infantile anger at Mommy and Daddy” (as if Mommy and Daddy were serial murderers, responsible for the methodical slaughter of 500,000 Iraqi children).

Since a lot of us harboring “infantile anger” at invasions predicated on lies and deception, fought with nuclear weapons such as depleted uranium—a weapon that will ultimately kill millions of Iraqis for thousands of years to come, to say nothing of Americans and Israelis such as the self-righteous Plaut, since we all share a biosphere—are not professors on the public dime, now is the time to attack web sites such as Counterpunch … and for good reason, since Counterpunch is one of the more popular and well-read sites, drawing thousands of readers every single day.

Plaut dutifully stacks up the charges: anti-Semitism, slavish kow-towing to terrorists, and a generalized and absurd all-encompassing hatred for America. In other words, the gall to criticize Israel for torturing and murdering Palestinians with impunity (a crime we can specifically place at Plaut’s academic doorstep, since he is an employee of the Israeli state), the effrontery to point out the obvious, as Churchill did—a murderous foreign policy, exacted over decades, will ultimately come back to haunt its perpetrators, or at least their uninformed fellow citizens (Cheney has bunker for such events)—and the insolence not to march along with Bush and the Strausscons, pom-poms in hand, cheering ever onward generational war in such places as Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and eventually the big kahuna, Saudi Arabia.

For Plaut, the first item on the list is to convince us Alexander Cockburn is a despicable anti-Semite. It fails miserably if you have read Cockburn. But then, as we know, these right-wingers only read paragraphs pointed out them, as in the case of Ward Churchill, thus deciding to misunderstand the larger context.

One of Cockburn’s more objectionable deeds, as Plaut tells us, is to have published an article by Shahid Alam, another professor on Bill “phone sex” O’Reilly’s sensationalistic (and profitable for advertisers) hit list. In the course of his tirade, if I understand correctly—since I am not in the habit of watching Mr. Bill, the Torquemada, or Grand Inquisitor of Fox News—Bill fulminated against both Alam and Counterpunch.

Shahid Alam’s crime?

The professor of economics at Northeastern University characterized the September 11, 2001, attack on America as a response to foreign occupation.

Obviously, this is a no-brainer—more than a few angry Saudis don’t like the idea of infidels and their massive array of military equipment parked near their holy sites, and the former CIA operative Osama bin Laden has said as much—but Bill is simply unable to get over it, convinced such a comment is nothing short of treason.

Or a spike in ratings.

It doesn’t help that Mr. Alam also writes about “overzealous patriotism that often dominates political discourse in the United States,” for instance Bill O’Reilly and the list of far right-wing luminaries mentioned above who dominate the corporate media, to name but a few.
Alam, as well, often takes to task the dearly held right-winger ideal of American exceptionalism, i.e., America is the “Greatest Nation on Earth,” an idea that rankles many of the 6 billion or so people on the planet who don’t happen to be American—a growing number of whom, according to polls, feel that America and Israel are the most dangerous threat to world peace.

But then, I guess, there are a few billion or so “Hate-America neurotics” out there.

At any rate, I am not only proud to be a Cockburn Cockroach—in good company with Shahid Alam, Carolyn Baker, Joshua Frank, Nate Collins, and Mickey Z—but I also know these folks are absolutely correct in their well-reasoned claims America has more than a few problems in need of address immediately, lest the ChronWatch crazies and their delusional allies, spiraling all the way up to the White House and the Pentagon, destroy this nation with their mindless blood-lust for generational war against Muslim hobgoblins and thus unleash further their pathologically overwhelming desire to find enemies and persecute them relentlessly.

In the meantime, Mr. Plaut, you can call me Cucaracha.

Two Americans, Two Americas

Two Americans, Two Americas

Two National Football League stars walk away from the game at the height of their lucrative careers for reasons that illustrate the divide in today's America.


Two Americans, Two Americas
Ape
Dec. 5th 2004


Red Team, Blue Team


There's been much written, in the wake of the recent U.S. elections, of the split in the American political psyche. Some have extrapolated this division to the spiritual sphere, making of it a struggle to find the soul of the nation. The twin tales of the departure from the NFL of star players, Pat Tillman and Ricky Williams serve as analogues of a nation seeking its identity.

Pat Tillman came from a military family. After the 9/11 attacks against America, he began to view football as irrelevant in the broader scope of the nation's affairs. He and his brother, Kevin, a former football professional himself, joined the elite Army Rangers because, in Pat's words,

"A lot of my family has gone and fought wars, and I really haven't done a damn thing."

The brothers were assigned to the same unit, and initially sent to Iraq, before a subsequent transfer to Afghanistan. O­n April 22nd, 2004, they were ambushed while o­n patrol and Pat Tillman was killed.

The army was quick to award Tillman the Silver Star, and released a glowing account of the fatal encounter and Pat's heroism that would later prove to be mostly fiction. The truth was: Tillman's death was the culmination of a series of incompetent decisions made by superiors along the chain of command, compounded by equipment failure. Ultimately, he was killed by "friendly-fire," or in civilian terms, shot by his own side.

Some, o­n the anti-war, anti-empire side of the American bifurcation, used the lies told by the Pentagon, and the media's shameless jingoistic lionization of Tillman, to impugn his character and the accounts of his courage under fire, (completely untrue), while others went so far as to question the intelligence of the man who swallowed the Bush line o­n the "War o­n Terror" whole and ultimately died for a lie (less completely untrue).

Tillman believed he was serving the interests of his country, but he was no dummy. He graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State, while playing football, in less than four years. His friends say he was a voracious reader, and loved to discuss conspiracy theories. Whether he had come to doubt Washington's veracity, or entertain the greatest conspiracy theory of them all before the end is an open question.

Ricky Williams was a Heissman Trophy-winning star Running Back for the Miami Dolphins making millions a year, and o­n pace to break every record in the book. Then he decided to walk away. He'd been troublesome for the Dolphins, failing numerous drug tests for marijuana, and facing fines and suspension from the league. His drug use hadn't always been a problem for the NFL, though.

While recovering from an injury, doctors (and drugs-making giant Glaxxo SmithKline) convinced Williams his aversion to crowds of autograph seekers was due to a condition they called, "social anxiety disorder," or (SAD). He was quickly signed o­n as a "celebrity patient" for Glaxxo's new miracle cure for shyness, Paxil and began making the media rounds promoting the anti-depressant. But the drug didn't sit well with Williams, so he gave it up in favour of weed.

He wasn't shy about the benefits of leaf, saying it was "ten times better than Paxil" and should be made legal. The NFL didn't agree. Just weeks before the 2004 season began, still facing fines and censure, Ricky Williams walked, saying,

"I've realized, both o­n a psychological and physical level, that the things we do in football don't bring more harmony to your life. They just bring more disharmony."

Since his departure, Williams has gone o­n a world-wide odyssey, travelling through Asia, Europe, Australia, and finally home to California, in an effort to find his own path. He's gone vegan, enrolled in a course teaching the ancient Indian holistic medicinal practice, Ayurveda, and, even though faced with law suits from the league and savage attacks by the press, says he's never been happier. At his now defunct website, RunRickyRun.com, he wrote:

"I wish athletes today could have the same impact o­n social reform as they did when he [Jim Brown] was playing. When the likes of Ali, Malcolm X and Jim Brown all sat in the same room and discussed their views o­n America. Nowadays, it seems all some of us are interested in is how much money we can make. I love playing football, and I love making money, but I am starting to realize that those aren't the o­nly reasons God has given me so much talent."

Out of the game for good, Williams won't have the soap-box of professional sport to effect the kind of change he had envisioned, but his Ricky Williams Foundation continues to raise money to educate under-privileged kids in America.

We'll never know what positive contributions Pat Tillman could have made to his country.

Both these Americans, bright, driven, independent, and courageous will fade from the national consciousness, but together they represent the deep divisions of that country in a time when the need for existential soul-searching has never been more relevant.

Chris Cook produces and hosts the public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, heard weekly o­n CFUV Radio, University of Victoria.

Run Ricky Run: Football, Pot, and Pain
Fred Gardner
Counterpunch.org
Aug. 7/8, 2004

Ricky Williams at Holistic Medicine School
Associated Press
Nov. 24th, 2004

In the Kill Zone: The Unnecessary Death of Pat Tillman
Steve Coll
The Washington Post
Dec. 5th, 2004

Pat Tillman and Ricky Williams
Dec., 5th, 2004
Mickey Z.

The Runaway
Chris Jones
Esquire Magazine
Dec. 2004 Volume 142, Issue 6


Former Dolphin Star Goes for Ayurvedic Medicine

Bricking in Iran

[Kurt will be coming on Gorilla Radio this week, February 14th, '05 at 5:30pm- ape]

Iran Attack: A 50-50 Chance is Closer to a Done Deal
Kurt Nimmo
February 11, 2005



First, read Jim Lobe’s Iran War Drums Beat Harder, and then read The coming showdown in Iran, chock full of information about how Iran will, if attacked, lock the United States into a living hell in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

“Nobody sees military action as the best way to tame Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons ambitions, but as the rhetoric heats up, mutual miscalculation could suck Tehran and Washington into
an unpredictable showdown,” opines Reuters. Nobody, that is, except the Strausscons and the Likudites in Israel.

“There’s a 50-50 chance of an air strike,” said Ali Ansari, an Iran expert at Scotland’s St Andrew’s University. “This not because of deliberate policy in the Pentagon or Iran, but the tensions, the sensitivities, the paranoia are so high that the potential for slip-sliding into something is very high.”

Nonsense. “The latest such urging [to attack Iran] was released here Thursday by the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), a group headed by a former National Security Council staffer Ray Tanter, several retired senior military officers, and a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia,” writes Lobe. “The 30-page document, “U.S. Policy Options for Iran” by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Clare Lopez, appears to reflect the views of the administration’s most radical hawks among the Pentagon’s civilian leadership and in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.”

Recall Cheney’s impatience last month—almost directly upon Bush’s re-coronation—basically itching for Israel to attack Iran and indicating Iran is “right at the top of the list” of nations to be invaded this term.

“The study echoes many of the same themes—mainly support for the Iranian exiled and internal opposition against the government—as another policy paper released by the mainly neoconservative Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) in December, but it is also much harsher,” Lobe continues. “Both papers favored military strikes against suspected nuclear and other weapons facilities if that was the only way to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and endorsed ‘regime change’ as U.S. policy.”

“IPC’s main emphasis is on more aggressive actions to bring about the desired goals, including military strikes and active efforts to destabilize the government, in major part through the support and deployment of what it calls ‘indisputably the largest and most organized Iranian opposition group,’ the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK)—an idea that many Iran specialists here believe is likely to prove exceptionally counterproductive.”

Now that wouldn’t be the same MEK added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997, would it? “The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad; during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran,” notes GlobalSecurity. “It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities.” Big deal, since when did the Strausscons care about civilians? Ask almost any Iraqi—except, of course, the 100,000 or so dead Iraqis. Even though MEK is officially listed as a terrorist organization, “it has long been supported by the Pentagon civilians and Cheney’s office, and their backers in Congress and the press as a possible asset against Iran despite its official ‘terrorist’ status.”

In a way, I feel sorry for these MEK guys because they will be ultimately betrayed—as nearly anybody who comes into contact with the Strausscons is betrayed. As the personality and career of Ahmad Chalabi demonstrates, the Strausscons favor slime balls that rob banks and sell secrets to their declared enemies.

“[A]s an additional step [in a strategy of destabilization],” the [IPC] paper states, “the United States might encourage the new Iraqi government to extend formal recognition to the MEK, based in Ashraf [Iraq], as a legitimate political organization. Such recognition would send yet another signal from neighboring Iraq that the noose is tightening around Iran’s unelected rulers.”

In fact, as Lobe points out, the Strausscons are actively supporting the MEK terrorist organization. “Indeed, there have been persistent reports, most recently from a former CIA officer, Philip Giraldi, in the current edition of the American Conservative magazine, that U.S. Special Forces have been directing members of the group in carrying out reconnaissance and intelligence collection in Iran from bases in Afghanistan and Balochistan, Pakistan, since last summer as part of an effort to identify possible targets for military strikes.”

Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising, since al-Qaeda, or what Bush and the corporate media call al-Qaeda, at one time did the same thing—serve as a U.S. attack dog—only to become the incarnation of evil, well before September 11, 2001. No doubt, after the Strausscons bomb the heck out of Iran and spread their poisonous chaos, MEK will once again become an officially recognized terrorist group. It is absurd on its face for the reactionaries in Congress to cozy up to this group of civilian killers, since they espouse “a blend of Marxism and Islamism,” according to GlobalSecurity, something you would think is anathema to so-called conservatives. But then amoral Machiavellians like the Strausscons are known to use anybody, regardless of ideology, if it serves their purpose.
Global Eye
Chris Floyd
Moscow Times
Feb. 11, 2005


http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/02/11/120.html


The hoary adage that "there are none so blind as those who will not see" should be carved in stone at the National Press Club in Washington. Surely there can be no better motto for the cozy clubhouse of America's media mavens, who seem preternaturally incapable of recognizing the truth -- even when it stands before them, monstrous and unavoidable, like a giant Cyclops smeared with blood.

For just as they botched the most important story of our time -- the Bush Administration's transparently deceptive campaign to launch a war of aggression against Iraq -- the clubby mavens are now missing the crowning achievement of this vast crime: the mother of all backroom deals, a cynical pact sealed by murder, unfolding before our eyes.

The Administration's true objective in Iraq is brutally simple: U.S. domination of Middle East oil. This is no secret. Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz began writing about this "strategic necessity" in 1992, as Alternet reminds us; and in September 2000, a group led by Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld openly called for a U.S. military takeover of Iraq -- even if the regime of Saddam Hussein was no longer in power. At every point in their savaging of Iraq, the Bushists have pressed relentlessly toward this oily goal.


The objective was revealed -- yet again -- in a recent Washington appearance by Iraqi Finance Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi. Standing alongside a top State Department official, Abdel-Mahdi announced that Iraq's government wants to open the nation's oil fields to foreign investment -- not only the pumped product flowing through the pipes, but the very oil in the ground, the common patrimony of the Iraqi people. The minister said plainly that this sweet deal -- placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands -- would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," InterPress reports. These are the spoils for which George W. Bush has killed more than 100,000 human beings.

The American media completely ignored Abdel-Mahdi's declaration, but this is not surprising. After all, it occurred in the most obscure venue imaginable: an appearance before oil barons and journalists at the, er, National Press Club. Where better to hide open confessions of war crimes than in the very midst of the Washington hack pack? Yet here was a story of immense importance. For Abdel-Mahdi is not only a functionary in the discredited collaborationist government now in its last days. He is also one of the leading figures in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite faction that has been swept to somewhat more legitimate power by the national election that was forced on George W. Bush by Islamic fundamentalist Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In fact, Abdel-Mahdi is frequently mentioned as a leading choice for prime minister in the new government; whatever happens, he will certainly play a primary role.

So we have a top official -- perhaps the top official -- in the incoming government offering American oilmen ownership rights in Iraqi oil. We have top American officials -- such as Cheney and Rumsfeld this week -- taking a benign view of the UIA's demand that the new Iraqi state be based solely on Islamic law, with crippling restrictions on women's rights, free expression, free association, plus, if Sistani has his way, Talibanic bans on music, dancing and even playing chess, Newsweek reports.

What we have, in other words, is the making of a monstrous, Cyclopean deal: not just "Blood for Oil," as the anti-war critics have said all along, but also "God for Oil." The Shiite clerics -- who eschew direct control but whose precepts can be translated into state power by secular representatives like Abdel-Mahdi -- seem willing to trade a goodly portion of Iraq's oil wealth in exchange for establishing a de facto "Islamic Republic" in the conquered land, with tacit American approval.

Sistani's word could move millions into the street to hamstring U.S. forces; but despite his notional disapproval of the occupation, he has stayed his hand, waiting for power to fall like a ripe fruit into the Shiite basket. Like Bush, he is apparently willing to countenance mass slaughter by the U.S.-led "Coalition" to achieve his objectives; but then, like Bush, Sistani is not an Iraqi either: He's an Iranian. Now these two foreigners are rolling dice to settle the nation's fate.


But there's yet another glaring truth that's escaped the media mavens, and most of the war's opponents as well. Even if the grand objective of oil control slips away somehow -- through a falling-out with Sistani, say, or civil war -- Bush has already won the game. The war has transferred billions of dollars from the public treasuries of the United States and Iraq into the coffers of an elite clique of oilmen, arms dealers, investment firms, construction giants and political operatives associated with the Bush family. And this goes beyond the official, guaranteed-profit contracts to favored firms; Bush's own inspector general reported this month that $8.8 billion in unaccounted "reconstruction" funds have simply vanished -- much of it in bribes for Bush officials and corporate kickbacks, the BBC reported.

This blood money will further entrench the Bushist clique in unassailable power and privilege for decades to come, regardless of the bloody chaos they cause, or even the occasional loss of political office. The American power structure has been permanently altered by the war -- just as American society has been immeasurably corrupted by Bush's proud embrace of aggression, torture, lawlessness and militarism as national values.

Bush lied. He stole. He murdered. In broad daylight. And he got away with it. That's the story. But you'll never hear it at the Press Club.


Annotations


Of Oil And Elections
AlterNet.com, Jan. 27, 2005


US to Take Bigger Slice of Iraq's Economic Pie
InterPress News, January 2005


Al-Sistani to Have Detailed Involvement in Iraq's Political Process
Knight-Ridder, Feb. 6, 2005


Abdel Mahdi: Maoist Turned Free Marketer Emerges as Consensus Candidate
Agence France Presse, Jan. 29, 2005


American Dominance
Bergen Record, Feb. 23, 2003


The Republicans' Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iraq
Informed Comment, Feb. 7, 2005


What Sistani Wants
Newsweek, Feb. 14, 2005 issue


Iraq Shiite leaders demand Islam be the source of law
Agence France Presse, Feb. 6, 2005


What They're Not Telling You About the Election
OccupationWatch, Feb. 1, 2005


Sistani Begins on His True Agenda
Asia Times, Feb. 8, 2005


Fraud and Corruption
The Guardian, Feb. 8, 2005


Two Front-Runners Vie for Iraqi PM Post
Knight-Ridder, Jan. 28, 2005


Iraq Reconstruction Funds Missing
BBC, Jan. 30, 2005


Officials Lose Track of $8.8 Billion in Reconstruction Funds
The Age, Jan. 31, 2005


Army Won't Withhold Halliburton Payments Despite Dispute
Reuters, Feb. 3, 2005,


Leading Shiite Clerics Push Islamic Constitution in Iraq
New York Times, Feb. 6, 2005


United and Divided: Shiites in Power
Salon.com, Feb. 8, 2005


Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President
Glasgow Sunday Herald, Sept. 15, 2002


Rebuilding America's Defenses
Project for a New Century, September 2000


Statement of Principles
Project for a New American Century, June 3, 1997


National Security Strategy of the United States
The White House, September 2002


Uncle Sugar: How the WMD Scam Put Money in Bush Family Pockets
CounterPunch, March 5, 2004

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Too Many Eyes

This is a new era where you can't just make statements anymore. There are too many eyes. The blogs are like a million little cameras and tape recorders...



Blogger's news on news hits nerve

CNN's chief news executive is under fire after comments he made at a Swiss economic summit made their way round the world via Internet blogs.

GLENN GARVIN
ggarvin@herald.com


Feb. 10, 2005

A Broward County businessman has touched off a firestorm of controversy with an Internet report that the news chief of CNN accused American troops in Iraq of deliberately killing journalists.

''I'm about as apolitical a guy as you can get,'' said Rony Abovitz, co-founder of the Hollywood medical technology company Z-Kat Inc. ``I'm just amazed at the blood frenzy.''

Abovitz's account of remarks he heard from Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive, during a panel discussion at an economic conference in Switzerland have not only rocketed around the Internet, but triggered fierce attacks on CNN from mainstream media critics.

They've also touched off another major credibility crisis for television news, still reeling from the scandal over a botched preelection CBS report on President Bush's military service. And they've demonstrated the new power of the independent Internet diaries known as Web logs, or blogs.

Jordan's remarks -- which he says were misinterpreted -- were not reported in the mainstream media until hundreds of blogs had been buzzing about them for a week and demanding explanations from CNN.

''When thinking people, especially journalism professionals, say something like that -- that U.S. troops might be war criminals -- and can't substantiate it, you've got to follow it up,'' said Jack Shafer, media critic for the influential website slate.com. ``Blogs always seem to ask much tougher questions of a powerful media figure than Time magazine or The New York Times or Newsweek do.''

At the center of the media hurricane is Abovitz, a mild-mannered 34-year-old specialist in computer-assisted surgery. He was invited last month to the World Economic Forum, a meeting of global movers and shakers, to pick up an award for technology developed by his company. While there, organizers invited Abovitz to write up his impressions of the forum for its blog.

JOURNALISTS `TARGETED'

During a Jan. 26 panel discussion of threats to reporters, Abovitz was shocked to hear CNN's Jordan say American troops in Iraq had ''targeted'' journalists and killed a dozen of them.

''He was going on and on about it,'' recalled Abovitz. 'My first thought was, gee, have I been missing something? And I stood up and asked, `Is this documented? And if so, why hasn't it been on the cover of Time magazine? Because if it's true, it's much bigger than [U.S. military abuses at] the Abu Ghraib prison.' ''

Jordan seemed surprised at the question, said Abovitz. ``He kind of froze, and then he started backpedaling. But the crowd included a lot of people from the Middle East, who were cheering him on, so then he wiggled back and forth.''

Jordan was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, but a CNN spokeswoman said he used the word ''targeted'' only to mean that the reporters had been fired on by U.S. troops who thought they were enemy combatants.

''Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of mistaken identity,'' the spokeswoman said.

But several others who were in the room, including Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, told The Herald that Abovitz's account was essentially correct.

''It sounded as if [Jordan] was saying the killings had been deliberate,'' said Frank, who was part of the panel. ``I sat up, and I said, `That's very troubling to me, I feel an obligation to act on this.'

'He answered, `I'm not saying this is American military policy.' And my recollection is that he next said that American military personnel had deliberately shot at journalists and not been punished.''

Frank said he asked Jordan whether he was talking about cases of mistaken identity or itchy trigger fingers ''in the heat of battle,'' and Jordan said no.

After the panel, Frank said he pressed for more details. 'I called [Jordan] and said, `If you think there are cases where American military personnel killed reporters and weren't disciplined, I want to know, and [Congress] will take action,' '' Frank said. ''He said he'd get back to me.'' But Jordan called only after the controversy surfaced, Frank said, and then to say he had been misunderstood.

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, who was in the audience, also agreed with Abovitz's account and ''was outraged by the comments.'' A spokeswoman for David Gergen, the U.S. News & World Report editor who chaired the panel, said that Gergen also felt Abovitz's report was generally accurate.

This is not Jordan's first brush with controversy over the intersection of journalism and U.S. foreign policy in Iraq. He found himself in hot water with not only political conservatives but many journalists last year over an op-ed page article he wrote for The New York Times shortly after American troops toppled Saddam Hussein.

CNN for a dozen years, Jordan wrote, had suppressed news of Hussein's atrocities -- ``awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.''

POWER OF THE BLOGS

The outcry over that statement, however, has been dwarfed by the response to this one.

Since Abovitz posted his original account of the panel, more than 400 other blogs have taken up the cry. They located the first corroborating witnesses, pressed the World Economic Forum to release its videotape of the panel (Forum officials initially agreed, but changed their minds earlier this week and said the panel's ground rules prohibited any direct quotations) and taunted mainstream news organizations into covering the story.

That finally happened this week with stories in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and other papers, as well as on CNN's rival cable news networks.

Media critic Shafer said the sheer immensity of the blog response forced the story onto newspaper front pages. ''What they were practicing was virtuous pack journalism,'' he said. ``Everybody thinks pack journalism is bad, but sometimes, like on 9/11, you want a pack. This was pack journalism at its best.''

This marks the second time in a few months that blogs have surfaced a major controversy over television news. Blogs were the first to accuse CBS' 60 Minutes of using forged documents in a story last year on President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service.

Their claims eventually forced CBS to retract the story and launch an internal investigation that cost Dan Rather his anchor job and resulted in the dismissal of five other CBS staffers.

Abovitz, for one, is impressed. He plans to start writing his own regular blog. ''The blog swarm is now percolating into mass media,'' he said.

``This is a new era where you can't just make statements anymore. There are too many eyes. The blogs are like a million little cameras and tape recorders.''

Nato Divvies Afghan Pie

Though brushed with a patina of respectability by the United Nations, the invasion and subsequent ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is as illegal as those in Iraq and Palestine. Today, the Canadian government reiterated its support for Anglo-American wars in foreign lands, outside of international jurisprudence, promising to increase the country's military presence in Afghanistan. This, in conjunction with Canadian complicity in the overthrow of the democratically elected Aristide government in Haiti and it's support of the current Prime Minister, well-known criminal, Gerard Latortue threatens to undermine Canada's international reputation- {ape}

NATO ministers agree to expand security force operations in Afghanistan
By PAUL AMES
February 10, 2005


NICE, France (CP) - NATO defence ministers agreed Thursday on a major expansion of the alliance's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan by sending troops to the west of the country, a key step in a plan to extend NATO's mission across the whole country.

Ministers also narrowed differences that have stalled the allied training mission in Iraq, with several nations offering to contribute instructors operating either inside or outside the country.

Defence Minister Bill Graham, speaking from Nice, said he spoke of Canada's participation in Afghanistan with the other ministers.

"I pointed out Canada's role there. I made it clear that we would be opening a new PRT (provincial reconstruction team) in August this year and that we are looking at the possibility next year of furnishing additional troops there," Graham said in a telephone interview.

"I had a bilateral discussion with Britain and the Netherlands about the possibility of collaboration with those two countries in Afghanistan and we'll be pursuing those discussions with other countries as well."

Agreement on the Afghan mission came after Italy, Spain and Lithuania committed hundreds of troops to support U.S. forces that will switch to NATO command. The deal ends months of delay while allied military planners sought the extra forces.

"NATO will now proceed to further expand the International Security Assistance Force into the west," said alliance Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. "We have the resources we need to expand."

The western deployment will double the area of Afghanistan under NATO's command, to cover just over half the country.

De Hoop Scheffer told a news conference 900 troops would deploy to Herat and three other western cities, including 500 fresh troops and 400 deploying from elsewhere in Afghanistan. NATO currently operates only in Kabul, where the force includes several hundred Canadians, and the north with 8,400 troops.

French Lt.-Gen. Jean-Louis Py, who commands the NATO force, said the move to the west should be completed at least one month before nationwide Afghan elections expected by July.

De Hoop Scheffer said there was a broad agreement that NATO's mission would gradually cover the whole country, integrating with the separate U.S.-led mission currently fighting remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida. Allied military experts hope that could be completed by early 2006.

Washington has long sought such a fusion, hoping to free up the thousands of frontline troops it still has in Afghanistan. However the U.S. will keep some units in Afghanistan, serving with NATO or hunting Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders believed hiding along the mountainous Afghan-Pakistani border.

Several allies offered to contribute more to NATO's training mission for Iraq's armed forces, which has been held up by a lack of instructors.

De Hoop Scheffer said he wants to announce that all 26 were participating in that operation - either by training inside or outside the country, or by funding - by Feb. 22 when NATO leaders meet in Brussels.

The goal is to turn out 1,000 Iraqi officers a year.

France, Germany, Spain and other governments that opposed the Iraq war have refused to send troops to Iraq for the training mission but will train Iraqi security forces outside the country.

On Wednesday, France repeated an offer to train Iraqi military police in Qatar, and Spain said it would invite Iraqi officers for training at a demining centre outside Madrid. Germany is already training Iraqi soldiers in the United Arab Emirates.

NATO has 110 instructors from 10 countries in Baghdad and is hoping to increase that to 160, backed by around 200 support staff by the end of the month. Diplomats said tentative offers to help either inside or outside Iraq had come from Greece, Canada, Norway, Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Romania.

The progress in both Iraq and Afghanistan comes amid a drive by the new Bush administration to rebuild relations still smarting from Iraq war divisions. U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld welcomed the allied moves and expressed understanding that some countries did not want to sent troops to Iraq.

"There are 26 countries. One has to expect there'll be different perspectives," he told a news conference after the meeting. "Everyone does not have to do everything."

Despite the improved atmosphere at the meeting, some differences remained.

French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie stressed France's training offer for Iraq was "bilateral" rather than being part of NATO's efforts. And she insisted further expansions of NATO's mission in Afghanistan should go gradually.

"Some want to go quickly; others take account of the realities on the ground," she told a news conference.





Gannon or Guckert: No Wonder Nobody Noticed This Guy! He Fit Right In
Dave Lindorff
Feb. 10, 2005


The real question the public should be asking in the l'Affaire "Jeff Gannon" is why it was so easy for a Republican shill posing under a false name (he's really James Guckert) as a journalist to last so long hiding out among the members of the legit White House press corps., and why it took bloggers to expose him.


The answer is that his puffball questioning of the president was not that different from the questions that are routinely asked by the mainstream reporters in that gaggle of fine suits and well-coifed hair.


Anyone who watched the press crew at the staged session back in 2003 when Bush announced his invasion of Iraq would have to agree that there is little difference between the reporters for our so-called Fourth Estate and this poseur. Instead of questions about why the U.S. would be invading a country that posed no threat and that had not attacked or threatened to attack America, and about how this enormous diversion of military resources would affect the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, reporters asked the president about his faith and family! Not only that--the legitimate press corps allowed the White House to decide in advance which reporters would get to ask questions, after first requiring them to submit their questions in writing. Uppity members of the group, including Helen Thomas, were forced to go to the back of the room behind the potted palms.


In a group of real reporters, Gannon would have stood out like a sore thumb, but there aren't too many real reporters operating in Washington these days.


Just getting to the point where you can be trusted with a plum Washington reporting assignment requires so much boot and ass licking in the corporate media, so much compromise and selling-out of basic journalistic principles, that it's a wonder any decent reporting gets done at all.


As I.F. Stone explained many years ago, the culture of Washington is so much built around the party circuit and concepts of “access” that most big-league reporters end up being chums with the people whose feet they should be holding to the fire. (It's hard to look under rocks if you're standing on them sipping cocktails.)


Of course, Stone was talking about the press as it was in the early 1970s. Things have gotten much worse now. Back then you didn't have a network like Fox that is simply a PR organ for the administration, and many newspapers still were not media conglomerates more worried about their licensed TV holdings and their good relations with the Federal Communications Commission than with digging up the news.


What I keep wondering is why the Bush administration has gone to such incredible, unprecedented and unprincipled lengths to control the media spin. We now know that they hired at least three journalists under the table to write favorable articles about Bush education policy, Bush social policy and Bush war policy, and no doubt these three are just the tip of a huge iceberg. We know that they put out fake news reports which they managed to get aired on regular TV news programs as though they had been generated by a real news organization. We know that they at least tried to set up--and probably secretly have set up--a department of disinformation in the Pentagon to create and distribute fake news globally. And we know now too, that they inserted a shill into White House press briefings to manipulate the coverage of the president and his policies.


And yet they've been getting such airbrushed coverage ever since 9/11 from the mainstream press you have to wonder what they were worried about. Heck, most of the mainstream media hasn't even reported on this latest outrage!


The other thing I keep wondering is why the public isn't up in arms about all this deception and fraud (all accomplished, I might add, at taxpayer expense). Just imagine, for a moment, if any one of these things had been done by the Clinton administration.


8:50 am pst


Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Academic Freedom is Almost a Thing of the Past
Dave Lindorff

Amid all the controversy over the observations of University of Colorado professor and leftist Indian political activist Ward Churchill concerning the military justifiability of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, it's easy to overlook the fact that freedom of academic expression on American university campuses is already virtually dead.


Churchill, who holds a tenured position at his university, is actually in an unusually strong position. With his tenure, the only way that the lynch mob out to fire him can get rid of him without facing a huge damage suit in court for breach of contract would be to prove a case of moral turpitude or dereliction of teaching duties or something equally heinous.


But for many teachers on American campuses--indeed for most teachers on some campuses and all at some--tenure is a thing of the past. Increasingly, universities large and small, famous and unknown, are turning to contract hires to do the teaching. These virtual professors are only offered "folding chairs" that carry a contract--one year, two years, three years, or maybe five years. At that point, they have to be renewed. They cannot be considered for tenure. Many other teachers are simply adjuncts, hired on a year-to-year or semester-to-semester basis to teach one or two classes. They have no contract at all to protect them.


Clearly, a person who has no job security has no freedom of expression. Such professors and adjuncts are no better off than the worker in a Wal-Mart or a General Electric factory--which means they have no more freedom of speech than a 12th century serf. They speak out at their own risk. If any adjunct or contract-hire teachers spoke out politically the way Churchill did and roused the wrath of the unwashed masses and the loofahed and lathered Bill O’Reilly, they'd be gone in a flash--if not the next day, then certainly at the end of the term.


At Temple University, a unionized urban institution here in Philadelphia, for instance (where teachers have been working almost a year without a contract because of management intransigence and demands for givebacks in the area of faculty governance), increasing numbers of professors are working on a contract basis. At Alfred University, where I taught journalism for a year, tenure is a bad joke. Although awarded after a typically exacting process of peer review, it has to be renewed every five years following a new peer review, thus providing as much academic freedom protection as a felt body-armor vest.


There is no question that the lack of tenure makes for less outspokenness, iconoclasm and strength of conviction. I remember when I was working as an adjunct journalism instructor at Cornell University back in 1989, going to an assistant professor colleague who was on the tenure track, looking for support for a proposal I wanted to make regarding the department's minority students, whom I had found were having trouble with my and other teachers' coursework and were then being asked to leave the school, instead of being offered remedial or preparatory assistance. He said, "Oh, that's a controversy I can't get involved in until I get my tenure."


With the bloodhounds of the right getting into full McCarthy lynching mode these days, including organized groups of student yahoos who monitor their teachers' lectures and backed by a phalanx of right-wing media mouths ready to amplify any complaint about non-mainstream viewpoints expressed by teachers in or outside the classroom, the fight for academic freedom has become more than academic. Yet instead of working to strengthen this important and historic tradition not just of tenure but of the very culture of free expression on campus, administrators are caving in to political pressure and undermining both.


Ward Churchill is a fighter, and will go down slugging. Most academics, I'm afraid, will just shut up and become conventional thinkers.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Don't Get Back on that Plane"

Soldiers: Seek Asylum in Ireland
By HARRY BROWNE
February 8, 2005



The chain of violence and corruption that connects the United States with Iraq includes an airport in the west of Ireland. For more than two years, as reported previously in Counterpunch, the Irish peace movement has been trying to break the chain. Having failed, so far, to do that, campaigners now hope to turn Shannon Airport into the weakest link.

A group of activists, including several of the 'Pitstop Ploughshares' who face trial next month for their 'disarmament' of a US Navy plane in 2003, have called for American military war resisters to seek official refuge while their planes refuel and they are let wander through the lounges of this relatively small civilian airport.

Ireland is said to be a neutral country: it is not, in any case, a member of NATO, nor was its inclusion in the Coalition of the Willing ever frankly admitted either by US or Irish government officials. However, its facilities have played a considerable and growing role in the US war and occupation. Last year, 158,549 US troops passed through the airport on 1,502 flights ­ mainly civilian charter aircraft. Those troop numbers were 26 per cent higher than in 2003. In addition, Irish officials granted permission for 753 military aircraft to land, and 816 aircraft carrying munitions.

The invitation for some of these troops effectively to desert comes from members of the Irish parliament and even a former Irish army commandant, Ed Horgan -- who made it clear he wouldn't make such a suggestion lightly. And those making the call realise that it is not abstract rhetoric: it is estimated that more than 5,500 soldiers have left their 'duties' in the current wars, including highly publicised cases like the imprisoned Camilio Mejia, the exiled Jeremy Hinzman (seeking refuge in Canada) and Kevin Benderman, seeking conscientious-objector status after 10 years in the army because of what he witnessed on his first tour of duty in Iraq.

Irish and international law on refugees makes it clear that soldiers are not excluded from making asylum applications, which can be made to any Irish police officer (Garda) or immigration official. Soldiers who face being forced to obey "unlawful orders" are explicitly mentioned in the refugee statutes. The Geneva Conventions state that soldiers need not perform duties that offend their political, religious or moral principles.

"American soldiers are being required to commit acts so gratuitously offensive to themselves and their families that they will never be able to speak of them," said activist Michael Birmingham, who has spent much of the last two years in Iraq, as well as meeting soldiers who have returned home to the US.

The activists are working to ensure that the 'invitation' to Ireland becomes widely known among US soldiers -- and that Irish officials at Shannon Airport perform as the law requires them to do in giving individuals the right to have their asylum claims heard. Any soldiers who do make a claim will find a supportive network of legal and logistical support in Ireland.

Damien Moran, one of the Pitstop Ploughshares, said: "The offer of sanctuary in Ireland is deeply rooted in our traditions of neutrality and hospitality."

Harry Browne lectures in Dublin Institute of Technology and writes for Village magazine. He can be contacted at harrybrowne@eircom.net.


The World Tribunal on Iraq

OFF TO ROME Tomorrow I will be testifying at the World Tribunal on Iraq in Italy and showing WMD. (Only two days left to see it at the Village East and New Metro in New York City.)

I thought I would share a draft of my testimony with you. What do you think?

TESTIMONY OF DANNY SCHECHTER TO WORLD TRIBUNAL ON IRAQ
An American Journalist and Filmmaker Indicts Iraq Media Coverage

It is complicated and problematic for a journalist to offer testimony at an international tribunal in another country. Most us tend to stay away the appearance of advocacy or even activism. Testifying overseas; even to a citizen's panel like this, could be construed by some as presumptuous or even unpatriotic.

Yet I have come because I believe that our media like other institutions have a responsibility to be accountable, audit their own practices and acknowledge their errors and omissions.

We are living in an age of a profound global media crisis that goes beyond borders and boundaries.

Journalists who are closest to our media system-really 'embedded' in it; are often in the best position to understand media practices and recount experiences. We know how the industry works and are most aware of the pressures journalists face from government interference and corporate control. It is time we woke up and spoke up. It is time we told the truth about our own institutions. We need higher standards and deeper values.

I have been in journalism since my High School years. I have been an investigative magazine reporter, a radio news director, and worked in television at the local and national levels with a long stint at ABC News and a shorter one at CNN. I have reported from 49 countries.

I am a media critic with six books in print and a columnist/blogger with MediaChannel.org, the world's largest online media issues network. As an independent filmmaker with my company Globalvision, I have made fifteen social issue documentaries. The latest, WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) is about the media coverage of the Iraq War and is based in part on a book called EMBEDDED that I wrote on the subject.

I have come wearing all of these hats to discuss my findings in the belief that if we could agree on the existence of "Media crimes,' we would agree that many have been committed during the Iraq war. Some through insensitivity and indifference; others with a more conscious intent.

This is not a partisan issue. It raises deeper issues about the integrity of our democracies.

In point of fact, in earlier wars, media outlets and personalities have been indicted for their role in instigating conflict and contributing to it. The special International tribunal on Rwanda has pointed to the role of hate radio stations in inflaming a genocide. In the former Yugoslavia, TV stations in Serbia and Croatia became propaganda organs that incited ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

The Post World War 2 Nuremberg Trial established a precedent in this regard. I quote one article on what happened there:

"The prosecution case, argued by Drexel Sprecher, an American, placed considerable stress on the role of media propaganda in enabling the Hitler regime to prepare and carry out aggressive wars. The use made by the Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. They used the press, after their earlier conquests, as a means for further influencing foreign politics and in maneuvering for the following aggression."

Thus, the presentation of an illegal invasion of a foreign country as a "preventative" or pre-emptive war did not originate with Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld.

The prosecution raised an issue that is of the greatest relevance today: the role of Nazi media propaganda in inuring the German population to the sufferings of other peoples and, indeed, urging Germans to commit war crimes.

Historical parallels are never exact and I am not here to argue that because the Nazis distorted their media, the US or British media are Nazis. That is specious reasoning. But a broader point also argued at Nuremberg does have resonance today:

"The basic method of the Nazi propagandistic activity lay in the false presentation of facts. " The dissemination of provocative lies and the systematic deception of public opinion were as necessary to the Hitlerites for the realization of their plans as were the production of armaments and the drafting of military plans. "

THERE WAS A MEDIA WAR

There were two wars going on in Iraq ? one was fought with armies of soldiers, bombs and a fearsome military force. The other was fought alongside it with cameras, satellites, armies of journalists and propaganda techniques. One war was rationalized as an effort to find and disarm WMDs ? Weapons of Mass Destruction; the other was carried out by even more powerful WMDs, Weapons of Mass Deception.

The TV networks in America considered their non-stop coverage their finest hour, pointing to the use of embedded journalists and new technologies that permitted viewers to see a war up close for the first time. But different countries saw different wars.

Why?

For those of us watching the coverage, the war was more of a spectacle, an around the clock global media marathon, pitting media outlets against each other in ways that distorted truth and raised as many questions about the methods of TV news, as the armed intervention it was covering-and it some cases-promoting.

This is not just traditional censorship.

Censorship, self-censorship and spinning seems common in every war as governments try to limit negative coverage and maximize reporting that will galvanize support on the home front. Every war inspires jingoism in sections of the media and deceptive coverage.

Sun Tsu the great Chinese analyst of war said that deception is a tool in every war, by definition. Wars happen because of deception. They are fought with deception. But what was often discussed in the past as a tactic or a tool has become a well deployed strategy with sophisticated high-tech information warfare doctrines guiding attempts to achieve strategic influence based on policies built on deception. This concept is deeply grounded in neo-conservative ideologies based on the work of the late University of Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss.

It is not accidental. It is deliberate.

Many in the Pentagon believe to this day that it was the media coverage that was responsible the loss of the Vietnam War. We saw a media war within that war too as former Washington Post reporter William Prochna remembers that before Vietnam:

"We had already endured a century full of wars. Heavily censored wars. So total was the government manipulation of public opinion in World War I that the chief U.S. propagandist charged with getting us into the fray later described his efforts as "the world's greatest adventure in advertising." Censorship was so uniformly accepted in World War II that Life magazine did not run a photograph of a dead American until 1943, and the director of the Office of Censorship was given a special Pulitzer Prize citation. The Cold War, with its threat of nuclear extinction, brought self-censorship to a new level.

"In Vietnam, At first, Kennedy actually believed he could fight it as the communists fought theirs - in secret. How could you censor a war you weren't fighting" So Vietnam began uncensored and stayed uncensored. But Kennedy could not keep the war small and surely not secret

Inevitably, Kennedy ran head-on into the beginning of the so-called "generation gap" that would haunt the '60s and, or did Vietnam start both, a massive sea change in American journalism. Wars are fought by the young. They are also reported by the young. And the young Vietnam reporters of the early '60s were neither constrained by censorship nor total-war certainties.

Shockingly, they began to report that the emperor wore no clothes. Americans were dying. The government was lying. Perhaps the unkindest of cuts, the United States was losing despite the rosy optimism of inflated body counts and politicized "victories" in nonbattles fought by its South Vietnamese clients.

Some of the early correspondents - David Halberstam of the New York Times, Neil Sheehan of UPI, Malcolm Browne, Arnett and Faas of AP - became legends and worked their way into history as surely as the policymakers. Sheehan, standing in an airport knot of reporters, once welcomed Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara to Saigon with a loud, mocking stage whisper, "Ah, another foolish Westerner come to lose reputation to Ho Chi Minh." The sea change was not without its bruises among the reporters. Most of them still in their 20s, the reporters were attacked as too young and inexperienced by Kennedy's government and chased down as communist sympathizers by the South Vietnamese secret police. They also were assaulted, their patriotism questioned, by the old guard in the press corps, veterans of the "last good war" against the Germans and Japanese.

With Vietnam over, the study groups, seminars and lectures at the War College began the preparation for handling the media in the inevitable wars to come. If censorship couldn't be the rule, outflanking would. Time has not narrowed the gulf.

POST VIETNAM MEDIA MANAGEMENT

So what we have had is large amounts of money and manpower invested in controlling the media. At the same time, with mounting media consolidation, with the corporatization of the news biz and its integration into show biz, there was a sea change inside the media business. This is the context that is often missed with all the Bush bashing. One man did not organize this war.

It took powerful institutions: A military industrial MEDIA complex.

We have to put it in the context not just of US foreign policy but of the way our modern media system works. Viewers in Italy have watched how your TV system ? from RAI to private channels ? has been Berlusconized. You know what I am talking about. Here you have an unholy alliance of media and government power In the US, corporate media has become a handmaiden of special interests.

News managers who were not journalists took over and bottom line pressures begat infotainment and more and more celebrity coverage. Pundits soon outnumbered journalists. Journalism schools started producing more PR experts than reporters.

The government took PR to a new level: It is called Perception Management and it treats war as a product to be "rolled out" and promoted. It is serious and systematic.

24 hour cable news channels offered more news, not better news. They soon degenerated into a headline hit parade. Investigative reporting had long since given way to "breaking news" free of context and background, In-depth documentaries disappeared from the prime time environment. Reality-based programming replaced reports anchored in reality.

Anchormen complained that the media had gone from being a watchdog to a lap dog but did nothing about it..

It was this transformation of the media system, implemented over twenty years with an assist by deregulation of public interest laws, that made the media a willing accomplice, especially in the post 911 environment of fear and patriotic correctness. When news anchors started emulating politicians by wearing American flags in their lapels, it became clear that the news media was being integrated into what amounted to a state run media system.

Soon there were embedded reporters narrowly focusing their reports on the ground campaign while the air attacks, use of prohibited weapons, special covert operations teams and civilian casualties went uncovered. It was deliberate but occasioned little comment with news networks seeking Pentagon approval for their on-camera experts and former generals to offer sports-like play by play assessments, Reporters in the field began to identify with the soldiers often saying "WE" when they began their reports as if their news organizations were part of the war, as they were. Hollywood story telling techniques replaced fact based journalism with a master narrative and "message points" influencing media coverage. Hollywood producers and graphic artists were recruited to give war coverage high production values. It was like a movie shoot. Time Magazine called it "militainment."

The US military commander Tommy Franks created a "Secret Plan" which was quietly leaked to friendly journalists like those at Fox News. He spoke of the media as "the fourth front" of the war, not a separate and autonomous fourth estate. No wonder CNN's Christianne Amanpour would later admit: "It looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

It didn't just look that way. It was that way.

She charged th tat her own network was "muzzled" and blamed not just the government but the "bully boys" at Rupert Murdoch';s Fox Network. In a hyper competitive environment, no journalists or networks want to be accused of backing terrorists. When the President says repeatedly you are "either with us or the terrorists" a clear signal is sought. Media companies that need favors, access to power,and regulatory rule changes are unlikely to become a critical platform, It is not in their interest. In this environment, you get along by going along. That's what most did.

One result: out of 800 experts on all the US channels from the run -up to the war until April 9 2003 when the statues were brought down by the US military and a carefully assembled crowd of US supporters, only six opposed the war.

Only six!

The media environment was soon charged with a mix of seductive co-optation that gave selected journalists access to the front lines and military protection and intimation, attacks on critical reporting, denunciations of journalists who stepped out of line and even, some charge the deliberate targeting and killing of journalists in incidents such as the one at the Palestine Hotel.

My film WMD, Weapons of Mass Deception, reports in these incidents and quotes the distinguished historian of the media and war, Phillip Knightly as saying that he now believes that the firing on media sites was deliberate. CNN's Eason Jordan told a panel; at the World Economic Forum in January 2005 that journalists were targeted. When challenged, he seems to have backed away from his initial claim that 12 journalists had been killed by the US military. There has yet to be an independent investigation.

Please understand, this does not add up to a critique of a few lapses or media mistakes. It is not a catalogue of errors or flaws. It was planned and formatted, pre-produced and aired with high production values and designed to persuade, not just informed.

Yes, some news organizations including the Washington Post and NY Times did limited media-culpas and admitted they were not critical enough especially on the WMD issue which turned out to be total hoax despite repeated assurances over months that they were there, had to be there, would be found etc. etc. Once this fraud was unmasked the Administration and the media shifted message points, and asserted that the WMD's that were pictured as threat to the world were no longer terribly important. They were counting on the public's short attention span.

More recently we saw that the Iraqi election in which voters came out to demand an end to occupation was spun as vindication of the Administration's war policy. The focus was on their bravery, not their motivation. President Bush was clearly the winner with a rise in public opinion approval.

The template and routines of pro-war coverage continue even as the public turns against the war. Critics still have to fight for airtime while Administration officials and pro-war Democrats are constantly on the air.

What does all this mean?

That we live in a mediaocracy, not a democracy.

That our media which enjoys constitutional protections to act as a guardian of democracy is actively undermining it. Media intimidation made it impossible for our opposition party to even make the war an issue. John Kerry was viciously demonized for his opposition to the Vietnam War and his service record was distorted ? for weeks. This is a pattern that has not changed.

That is why this issue is so relevant and timely.

What we are seeing is a crime against democracy and the public's right to know.

It is a crime against the people of Iraq who have suffered and died in large numbers in this war even though the extent of it is not reported. We have had coverage of torture incidents but no real investigation of the responsibility of decision makers. Only a handful of journalists follow that story closely including Seymour Hersh who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. He publishes in a smaller magazine, not a big newspaper.

This is a crime against our soldiers whose grueling experience goes largely unreported as do their casualties and psychological traumas.

It is a crime against the profession of journalism that has been shamelessly distorted even as many conscientious reporters soldier on, often in an alternative media that reaches smaller audience.

Crimes demand exposure and punishment.

That's why I have come all this way to Rome, to add the voice of an American journalist to the call for consequences for these crimes and more debate about them in the anti-war movement. This kind of media complicity has to be challenged, refuted, condemned and opposed.

This World Tribunal is doing it. That's why I am here.

Will this Tribunal be covered, or covered up?

The fight for a free and independent media is a global fight. We need to show solidarity with each other. Journalists in other countries need to appreciate the fact that many Americans are speaking out and to understand the pressures we are under.

We need to dialogue with each other and support media freedom.

I have come in hope that our MediaChannel.org will attract more help and support worldwide. While the media watches the world. We have to watch the media. I have come to offer my film WMD Weapons of Mass Deception for worldwide screenings.

I have come to stand up and be counted, to offer myself. That's all I can do. Grazie.

Danny Schechter
"News Dissector"
Feb 8 2005

Why the Bush Rush on Iran? Could be the Oil!

Iran to take control of world's oil trade in 2005

"The Insider" mailing list article, 19 June 2004.

In 2005 Iran will launch a new oil exchange that is expected to put an end to Western domination of the international oil trade. The US and UK, currently home to the world's largest oil markets, are unlikely to allow Iran to undermine their control of the oil trade without putting up a fight.


Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and Opec producers that could threaten the supremacy of London's International Petroleum Exchange.

A contract to design and establish a new platform for crude, natural gas and petrochemical trades is expected to be signed with an international consortium within days.

Top oil producing countries are determined to seize more control of trading after being advised that existing markets such as the IPE and Nymex in New York are not working in their favour.

Three years ago a former compliance director accused the IPE of manipulating prices, although these allegations were dismissed after an investigation.

The Tehran oil bourse is scheduled to open in 2005, according to its architect, Mohammad Javad Asemipour, who is a personal adviser to the Iranian energy minister.

"We are in the final stage of choosing a concession for what is going to be a very big development for us and the region," he said.

The expected winner of the contract is a consortium of Iranian and international companies known as Wimpole, which is understood to include PA Consulting and a former director of Nymex.

Mr Asemipour has been in London in the last few weeks visiting commodity traders to encourage them to participate in his new venture.

He played down the dangers that the new exchange could eventually pose for the IPE or Nymex, saying he hoped they might be able to cooperate in some way.

Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other Opec producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility.

The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was unwilling to discuss the Iranian move yesterday. "We would not have any comment to make on it at this stage," said an IPE spokeswoman.

Many of the contracts for crude oil being exported from producers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are linked to prices for the UK North Sea Brent blend.

The Middle East producers would like to establish a rival Persian Gulf blend contract alongside hedging mechanisms that could operate around the new bourse.

The regional initiative is significant but not entirely new. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange recently tried to develop an oil trading market with the help of Nymex but it collapsed through lack of interest.

The Tehran bourse is considered to be more likely to succeed because Iran exports 2.7m barrels a day and produces 13m tonnes of petrochemicals every year. The country has the second biggest oil reserves in the world behind Saudi Arabia.

But Adam Sieminski, oil analyst with Deutsche Bank in London, questioned whether it would succeed. "The IPE and Nymex work because there are many sellers and many buyers. They are regulated markets based on well-established systems for trading and I think the Iranians will struggle to duplicate that."

Mr Asemipour said the new project is in tune with both Islamic and local constitutional law and has been given the go-ahead by government and parliament as part of the country's five-year plan.

· The world is not short of oil and reserves should last 40 years at today's rates of consumption, according to BP chief executive John Browne.

There was "considerable scope" for proven reserves and production levels to keep on rising in Russia and elsewhere, he said in BP's statistical review of world energy.

Production in some areas such as the North Sea might have peaked but "this is no reason for current high prices," said BP chief economist Peter Davies. Oil prices during 2003 were the highest for 20 years despite world oil production growing by 3.8%, higher than the 2.1% increase in demand, BP noted.

SOURCE: The Guardian (UK), "Iran takes on west's control of oil trading", 16 June 2004.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/
business/story/0,3604,1239644,00.html


FURTHER READING

BBC News, "Iran 'to charge British sailors'", 22 June 2004.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/
1/hi/world/middle_east/3828377.stm

Iran is to prosecute eight UK sailors detained for illegally entering its territorial waters, state-run TV quotes military sources as saying.

Three British naval craft and crews were seized on Monday in the Shatt al-Arab waterway near the Iraqi border.

Al-Alam TV said the men had admitted entering Iranian territory, and were a kilometre across the marine border.
...
The television report said weapons and maps were confiscated from the men after they were apprehended.
...

Washington Times, "Iran massing troops on Iraq border", 15 June 2004.

http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/
20040615-055649-4707r.htm

Beirut, Lebanon, Jun. 15 (UPI)
Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum.

The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, monitored in Beirut, reports Iran has massed four battalions at the border.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted "reliable Iraqi sources" as saying, "Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory."