Friday, May 13, 2005

Mentioning the War: The American Myth Industry

Anti-Empire Report
No. 21, May 13, 2005
William Blum

The American Myth Industry

Good ol' George W. was traveling around Eastern Europe this past week celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, spouting a lot of Cold War anti-Communist myths, principal among them being:

The Soviet Union signed a pact with the devil, Nazi Germany, in 1939 for no reason other than the commies and the Nazis were just two of a kind who wanted to carve up Poland together.

Without any justification, the Soviet Union occupied the three Baltic nations in 1940.

Without any justification the Soviet Union occupied the rest of Eastern Europe after the Second World War.

All done, apparently, because the Soviets were an expansionist, brutal empire which liked to subjugate foreign peoples for no particularly good reason; i.e., an "evil empire". "The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history," said Bush while in Latvia.{1}

These tales are all set in marble in American media, textbooks, and folklore, but please humor me as I engage in my usual futility of trying to correct some of the official record. Much Western propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the Soviet-German treaty of 1939. This is made possible only by entirely ignoring the fact that the Russians were forced into the pact by the repeated refusal of the Western powers, particularly the United States and Great Britain, to sign a mutual defense treaty with Moscow in a stand against Hitler.{2}

The Russians had good reasons -- their legendary international espionage being one of them -- to believe that Hitler would eventually invade them and that that would be just fine with the Western powers who, at the notorious 1938 Munich conference, were hoping to nudge Adolf eastward. (Thus it was Western "collusion" with the Nazis, not the oh-so-famous "appeasement" of them; the latter of course has been invoked over the years on numerous occasions to justify American military action against the dangerous enemy of the month.)

The Soviets, consequently, felt obliged to sign the treaty with Hitler to be able to stall for time while they built up their defenses. (Hitler, for his part, was motivated by his plans to invade Poland.) Similarly, the Western "democracies" refused to come to the aid of the socialist-leaning Spanish government under siege by the German, Italian and Spanish fascists. Hitler derived an important lesson from these happenings. He saw that for the West the real enemy was not fascism, it was communism and socialism. Stalin got the same message.

The Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- were part of the Russian empire from 1721 up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, in the midst of World War I. When the war ended in November 1918, and the Germans had been defeated, the victorious Allies (US, Great Britain, France, et al.) permitted/encouraged the German forces to remain in the Baltics for a full year to crush the spread of Bolshevism there; this, with ample military assistance from the Allies.

In each of the three republics, the Germans installed collaborators in power who declared their independence from the Bolshevik state which, by this time, was so devastated by the World War, the revolution, and the civil war (exacerbated and prolonged by Allied intervention) that it had no choice but to accept the fait accompli. The rest of the fledgling Soviet Union had to be saved.

To at least win some propaganda points from this unfortunate state of affairs, the Russians announced that they were relinquishing the Baltic republics "voluntarily" in line with their principles of anti-imperialism and self-determination. But is should not be surprising that the Russians continued to regard the Baltics as a rightful part of their nation or that they waited until they were powerful enough to reclaim the territory.

Within the space of 25 years, Western powers invaded Russia three times -- World War I, 1914-18; the "intervention" of 1918-20; and World War II, 1939-45 -- inflicting some 40 million casualties in the two world wars alone. (The Soviet Union lost considerably more people on its own land than it did abroad. There are not too many great powers who can say that.)

To carry out these invasions, the West used Eastern Europe as a highway. Should it be any cause for wonder that after World War II the Soviets wanted to close this highway down? In almost any other context, Americans would have no problem in seeing this as an act of self defense. But in the context of the Cold War such thinking could not find a home in mainstream discourse.

{1} White House press release, May 7, 2005
{2} See the British Cabinet papers for 1939, summarized in the Washington Post, January 2, 1970 (reprinted from the Manchester Guardian); also D. F. Fleming, The Cold War and its Origins, 1917-1960, Vol. 1, pp. 48-97.
{3} Washington Post, April 14, 2005, United Press International, April 18, 2005

William Blum
is the author of:

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

American Desecration Fuels Outrage Throughout the Muslim World

American Desecration Fuels Outrage Throughout Muslim World

As new tales of abuse and humiliation emanate from freed prisoners of Camp X in Guantanamo Bay, more outrageous than the torture, sexual humiliation, and deprivation suffered by "detainees" there is the desecration of the Holy Koran by interrogators. Revelations that U.S. soldiers placed copies of the sacred book in toilets has sparked massive protests from Islamabad to Indonesia, but the most vehement demonstrations are in Afghanistan, where at least nine protesters have been shot dead. -{ape}

Students from Kabul University burn a US flag

American Desecration Fuels Outrage
Throughout Muslim World
C. L. Cook
May 13, 2005

It had to happen; the Muslim "Street," as the pundits say, is in an uproar over the reported desecration by U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo of the Holy Koran. To Western sensibilities, it may seem baffling that the ill-treatment of a text is more upsetting than the gross violations meted out to the uncounted Muslim prisoners of America's burgeoning global prison network, but to Muslims the Koran is considered the literal word of Allah and treated with deep reverence. That reverence is protected by law in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where demonstrations are most vociferous. In these places, defilement of the text is a capital offence.

In Afghanistan, nine protesters were killed yesterday, bringing the toll to sixteen dead in two days of reaction there to the news of the violation. But, revulsion and anger are apparent in more moderate Muslim countries, including those allied with the United States and their self-declared "War on Terror." Indonesian officials demanded Washington punish those responsible for their "immoral action[s]," while Pakistan has called for a probe of the alleged incident.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has tried to calm the situation, saying everyone finds these reports "abhorrent to us all," and is assuring a full investigation will be made. But her reassurances have not silenced large and angry protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of the shakiest of America's Muslim nation allies.

And, in Afghanistan especially, where a garrison of nearly 19,000 U.S. and several thousand international troops, including more than two thousand Canadians are yet to gain control of the country, the resurgence of anti-American sentiment, already profound, is particularly unwelcome.

This could tie-down U.S. troops in the country making reinforcement of Iraq impossible. Casualty attrition in Iraq and dwindling enlistment in the United States is a serious concern for the U.S. military, and could bring calls for greater "contributions" by friends and clients in Afghanistan.

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Jeb in Waiting: Meet the Next Prez

Meet the Next Prez
Global Eye

By Chris Floyd

The next president of the United States was on the road last week, throwing red meat about "moral issues" to a baying crowd of Bushist Party faithful -- while simultaneously trying to cut off medical support for a 6-year-old girl his agents had previously tried to kill.

Yes, it was Jeb Bush, governor of the ruling family's Florida dominions, pounding the pulpit -- er, podium -- at a Republican conclave in Georgia. Jeb told the flock that the party must stand for "absolute truth" (something previously associated with religious cults) if they want to maintain their "ascendancy" over the nation, The Associated Press reports. "There is such a thing as right and wrong," he declared.

Whipped into a frenzy by this blazing revelation, the crowd responded with cries for Bush to ascend to his brother's throne in 2008. But even as Jeb basked in the bootlicking adulation, his peculiar sense of "right and wrong" was on vivid display in a Florida courtroom. There, his minions are fighting to stop state aid for young Marissa Amora -- four years after they sought a court order to let her die following a savage beating, The Palm Beach Post reports. What's more, these same minions -- the Department of Children and Families -- could have prevented the beating, which left Marissa permanently disabled.

In late 2000, as Jeb was ensuring the "ascendancy" of his brother by -- among many other tricks -- deliberately slashing thousands of eligible African-American voters from the rolls, Marissa was hospitalized for a month. Doctors and nurses saw telltale signs of past beatings -- and witnessed her neglectful mother abusing her in the hospital. They pleaded for DCF to intervene. But the agency, perhaps mindful of Jeb's fierce public championing of "family values," declined to step in.

Then came the inevitable: A few weeks later, Marissa was back in the hospital, beaten nearly to death, with severe injuries to her brain and liver and several broken bones. Now the DCF took an interest: They rushed to court to obtain a "Do Not Resuscitate" order for the mangled 2-year-old. For God's sake, don't let her live, the DCF told Marisa's doctors, because she might "potentially" be left "in a vegetative state." But the doctors disagreed with the Bushists' expert diagnosis.

And so Marissa is still alive today -- brain-damaged, crippled, fed through a stomach tube, but alert, talkative, happy, with a new foster mother. Indeed, she would seem to be a shining example of the "culture of life" that we hear so much about these days from certain pulpit-pounding politicians. But to Jeb and the DCF, she's just a "useless eater," a budgetary burden, a mistake to be flushed away.

Without state aid, her new family will sink beneath the staggering cost of Marissa's treatment -- and the decent life that she's clawed back from the hellhole Jeb left her in years ago will wither on the vine. 'Tis passing strange. After all, this is the same agency -- and the same governor -- that just fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep the long-brain-dead Terri Schiavo existing in a very real "vegetative state."

Jeb even found himself lauded on the front page of The New York Times for "cementing his political stature" in the case, with his maneuvers "rooted" in a "deep" religious faith "rather than in political posturing." Yet he was perfectly willing -- even eager -- to pull the plug on Marissa Amora, and is still trying to destroy her life.

How can this be?

For one who lives solely by the "absolute truth," what could possibly be the difference between a crippled, abused, neglected little black girl with no money or connections, and a nice white woman whose case was promoted worldwide by the maniacal, filthy-rich extremist factions that form the base of his brother's "ascendancy"?

Since we know from the highest authority that Jeb would never stoop to mere "political posturing," the apparent hideous hypocrisy in his behavior must forever remain an ineffable mystery, like the Trinity, or the 2000 Florida election results. But then, Jeb has always been the most mysterious of the Kennebunkport Klan.

Like the two Georges, he trawled murky waters indeed to make his fortune. One of his business partners, Camilo Padreda, was indicted for drug-dealing, gun-running and embezzlement; but the charges were dropped when the Bush family firm -- the CIA -- told the FBI that Padreda was their man, fronting covert ops. Padreda then worked Jeb's Washington contacts to steal millions of federal dollars intended to provide housing for the poor. He was convicted of fraud in 1989.

Jeb then hooked up with Miguel Recarey, an associate of Miami mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr., Mother Jones reports. Federal investigators called Recarey's company, IMC, "a criminal enterprise interlaced with intelligence operations." It was in fact yet another front, this time for the Reagan-Bush gang's illegal terrorist war in Nicaragua.

Recarey also milked Jeb's Washington connections, diverting millions of Medicare dollars intended for needy patients into the IMF-CIA slush fund. Recarey later fled the country to avoid fraud charges. In yet another scam, Jeb and a partner used a frontman to wangle a $4.5 million federal loan to buy an office building. When their shill went belly-up, Daddy's federal government obligingly revalued the prime Miami real estate at $500,000. Jeb and his pal coughed up that chump change -- and kept the building for themselves, receiving $4 million of pure gravy.

Now with just one more step, this mobbed-up, money-grubbing absolutist will have the whole world in his hands. "Right and wrong" mean nothing to such big-time operators; power is their only truth, their only god.


DCF Sought to Let Abused Girl Die
Palm Beach Post, May 8, 2005

Jeb Bush Strikes Moral Tone at Georgia
Republican Convention
Associated Press, May 7, 2005

Bush Family Values
Mother Jones, Sept/Oct 1992

In a Polarizing Case, Jeb Bush Cements
His Political Stature
New York Times, March 24, 2005

How Jeb Bush Stole the 2000 Election
for His Brother
Harpers, March 2002

Fear for Sale
In These Times, May 12, 2004

1 Million Black Votes Didn't Count
in 2000 Election
San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 2004

Galloway Goes to Washington

Galloway Goes to Washington

With the election less than a week old in Britain, attacks against dissident former New Labour star, Respect Party MP George Galloway have begun. In an outlandish Bolton-esque fashion, accusations that Galloway had profited from the maligned U.N. Oil for Food Program has emerged from the United States. The report relies on virtually all the information used to attack Galloway and others critical of the U.N. approved sanctions against Iraq following 1991's Desert Storm: The same accusations Galloway defended at the time, and successfully filed suit against. - {ape}

Galloway Goes to Washington
C. L. Cook
May 12th, 2005

It didn't take long. Just hours after winning an unlikely victory against high-profile Tony Blair protege, Oona King in Britain's May 5th general election, outspoken war critic, and former New Labour insider, George Galloway was sand-bagged by "the BBC's principal rottweiler" Jeremy Paxman. Paxman, a prominent television news presenter congratulated the new MP with this:

Jeremy Paxman: "Mr Galloway, are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?"

To which the sensible Member answered:

Galloway: "What a preposterous question. I know it's very late in the night, but wouldn't you be better starting by congratulating me for one of the most sensational election results in modern history?"

This prime time jab by the nation's public broadcaster was nothing to Galloway, he's been a lightning rod for too long to be shocked by the likes of Paxman; but, the zap from Bush faithful Senator Norm Coleman's Senate Investigative Committee may have jotled him. The MP is being invited to participate in the committee's main event, the so-called "Oil For Influence: How Saddam Used Oil to Reward Politicians and Terrorist Entities Under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme" hearings. If the committee is long on title, it promises to make up for that with swift judgement.

Why Galloway would be willing to play the kangaroo in this planned pantomime is a mystery. But according to the Bethnal Green and Bow MP, he's been trying to reach the committee to be granted an opportunity to answer the unmerited accusations. Coleman denies knowledge of previous contact.

When asked about it by reporters, Galloway said:

“Yes, I will be there, but I am not happy with the process. Who would be? Even in Kafka there was a trial of sorts.”

Sadly for Canadians, "our" public broadcaster is singing in tune with the BBC.

The hearings are scheduled for May 17th in Washington, and we'll then see how well Galloway weathers the whip.

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada.
He also serves as a contributing editor to

You can check out his blog at:

The Shadow People

The shadow people

This mad fetish for war is really
a case of blaming others for our own guilt,
of our own unprocessed fear of death
being projected outward into the world

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

T.S. Eliot, “What the Thunder Said”

The Shadow People

By John Kaminski
May 12, 2005

I resist the notion, now so popular among segments of our desperately flailing human intelligentsia, that beings from other worlds seeded our planet with life, or that these ETs abduct people for demonic Freudian experiments, or that mysterious dark forces, be they angels or aliens, control human destiny for their own petulant purposes.

It's all just too complicated, and it smacks of copping a plea, grasping for some lame excuse, or refusing to take responsibility for one's own actions. I mean, why ascribe evil to some esoteric mystical force when mindless savagery has always been a hallmark of typical human behavior? We need no additional motivation for depravity beyond the inner pit of our own personal darkness.

All these fantastic mythologies are clearly a case of trying to blame others for guilt that is our own.

Yet humanity continues to be imprisoned in the thrall of these supernatural shibboleths, whether the principal objects of our groveling fear reside in the cathedral or the cosmos.

The more conscious among us have always downgraded these sensationalized spirits — whether inspirational or injurious — into mere metaphors for life's natural processes.

But beyond trying to classify imaginary creations that are exclusively based on the unanswered questions about our own mortality looms an even more dangerous question: Why is it so popular to conclude that there appear to be two types of humans on this planet? I'm talking about the basic good and evil split: those who live by lies and relish war versus those who speak forthrightly and covet peace.

I was recently reminded of this dangerous classification trend during a small waterfall of hundred dollar bills that filled my mailbox with many unsigned letters (by readers who strive to keep me afloat for a few more months), by one reader who noted that my willingness to consider the possibility that there were people without souls, called by some "organic portals," was really no different from other discriminatory schemes concocted by the world's worst despots, whether it was — to cite two well known examples — the way Adolf Hitler regarded Jews or Ariel Sharon regards Arabs. (Two peas in a pod, you might say.)

Assigning fundamental differences to various perceived groups was really no different, he asserted. And no less toxic. After all, most of the world's wars have been waged on the claims of one group being somehow less human than another. And most of these slanderous campaigns have been staged as a cynical excuse to steal something valuable from the supposedly evil group. (As is so obvious today in what we call the Middle East.)

So I had to admit the validity of his point. It's simply damaging and potentially tragic to arbitrarily classify any group as somehow morally inferior or intrinisically more sinister than another, even though that's what every religion in the world does to every other group all the time.

But the big problem for me in accepting his routinely moral assertion was that decades of evidence — hey, just read the newspapers! — clearly shows that some hard-to-identify group was provoking all these conflicts throughout history for the express purpose of making large amounts of money from instigating wars.

When you really read the real history of the 20th century, you come to understand that one small group of very rich men has controlled both sides in all the major wars. And controls them still, always counting the cash, but never the bodies.

I don't know about you, but this is not the way my parents taught me to be. Hence, the temptation to contemplate theories that explain heartless avarice and mass murder without a second thought. I tell myself that this is something that I and my friends would not do. So, is there actually a different breed of cat, a darker pigmentation in some human hearts, that rules people differently from those I know and love? Are some people missing some essential biological ingredient of humanity?

The question is .... are there really shadow people? Judging by the behavior of American troops in Iraq, who murder innocent families as if they are only electronic silhouettes in some video game, or of Israeli soldiers, who make sport out of shooting Palestinian children for no reason other than their own Talmud-induced pathology of superiority, it appears that there really are.

I mean, what part of "Thou shalt not kill" — the central thesis of all religious thought — don't they understand? Everyone agrees there are no caveats to this. But in the space between agreement and practice lies the shadow. And tragedy. And very possibly the end of all life on this planet.

Let me take great care to define what I mean by shadow people.

I'm not talking about Art Bell's shadow people, which apparently are visual apparitions that appear when your eyes are focused in another direction, and are never there in the spot you thought you saw them when you actually fix your gaze on that spot. Nor am I talking about Carlos Castaneda's brujos, who apparently are people you talk to who later are proven not to really exist, which may actually have been a private joke about don Juan Matus himself.

I'm not talking about ghosts, spirits, time travelers, ectoplasmic wraiths, interdimensional beings, or people who reside in other physical realities like supposedly Nick Herbert.

I’m talking about people who say one thing and do another, people like George Bush and Dick Cheney (and Bill Clinton and Al Gore), people who mouth pleasant platitudes and then thoughtlessly commit atrocities, which they then spin as heroic deeds essential to your well-being (which presumably is why they always cost so much money).

Could it be true, as many people believe, that these belligerent cads were born without souls? Not likely, I suspect.

And I’m talking about Mr. Ordinary American, too, who, when you tell him that 9/11 was an inside job, his face goes slack and his mind goes blank. And when you present him with the mountains of evidence indicating the undeniability of your statement, he just quivers and turns away, muttering “our government would never do something like that” without daring to contemplate the reality that our leaders “do something like that” every day.

Yes, the fabled Mr. Ordinary American, who, when you tell him the 2004 election was fixed and that Kerry actually won it with a large margin of electoral votes except for the computer shenanigans that reversed the decision, accuses you being some kind of liberal delusionary, even when you explain you have utter contempt for both major candidates, and don’t believe a thing either of them ever said.

Mr. Ordinary American, who can’t hear a word when you say he threw away the lives of his own children on a war that was lie because he actually believed what he heard on television.

And beyond that, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Human Being, residing anywhere on the planet, who believe that some venerated superbeing, usually named God, controls their every movement, and that the God of their neighborhood is most definitely better than and superior to any other God that has ever been invented anywhere else.

What is wrong with all these people? And why are they in such a preponderant majority, so that the wars never cease, and lying for profit has always been the dominant way of life?

Well, I’m going to tell you now. I’m going to make it perfectly clear. I’m going to lay it all out in excruciating detail for you. And if you turn away and say, “That guy’s wacked!”, that means you’re one of the shadow people, still controlled by a demon you dare not confront. But if you understand what I’m saying, well, that means there’s still a faint ray of hope for this planet, dim though it may be.

We all carry with us the shadow of death. It is, as the natural scientists have said for a long time, what distinguishes humans from all of our fellow animal species. Foreknowledge of death. It rules every move we make.

To deny that we die, and invent some strategy that when our mortal bodies expire we either go to some cool place — to go bowling with the angels, just as an example — or get sucked into some ephemeral process that some people call the bardo (which is like some dark carnival funhouse where all these scary faces pop out at you, reminding you of every nasty thing you’ve done in your entire life) and therein choose the time and place (and parents) of your next incarnation — all these mental machinations are constructed to deny the obvious. That when our hearts stop and our brains cease all functions a few minutes later, that’s the end of us as individuals. After that, we’re mulch. Our contributions to the universe end there, and what we have done is all we will ever possess for all of eternity.

I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, and you will squirm and wriggle and deny with every fiber of your being that this is the case. Why? Simple. Our brains absolutely refuse to contemplate our own nonexistence. They fight with every fact at their disposal to create a scenario where this is not the case, because they are wired to survive, not to cease functioning. And yet they do.

Numerous philosophers have reflected that the human curse is having an infinite imagination trapped in a finite body. Based on the primary instinct to survive, the body’s mind rejects the notion of a limited amount of life in time and finds a way to transcend it by any means possible. Logic, reality and reason become nonfactors and spirit is born. And the entire populace commits to the conspiracy, because it gives them the answer they sought. Spirit is born, and the soul is its offspring. And along with them form parasitic religions, which trade on and profit from the desire of people to avoid death by providing concocted formulas to do just that. None of these formulas actually work, but no one in the conspiracy will admit it, because that result is not desired. This is a clear case of reality is not desired. The illusion is more comfortable. Insecurity is eliminated by eternal life.

But because it is not real, the fear remains. The purpose of religion cannot be proven, it can only be believed. And since it is such an obvious lie, the honest mind eventually comes to know it is a lie, and begins to hate itself for lying, for being afraid of the ultimate truth, which is that we don’t live forever, and have but a little time to make the most of what we have been given.

Given by whom? We can only guess. We call it God. But even the lamest cleric will admit we cannot know God in its entirety. God is only a word, after all. Some unfathomable process that we call God invented man, but man invented the word and concept of God in a feeble attempt to explain the unexplainable.

And what have we been given? Well, if you’re lucky like me (and who knows why?), we have been given a slice of paradise, a sensual experience so astonishingly beautiful that we can make no other sense of it that to eventually believe that a seemingly omnipotent force has created the very conditions of heaven right on this little blue and green spheroid. That’s why I always say, heaven is not something somewhere else to be sought, it is right here, and we’re put here to make it what it is supposed to be — heaven!

But we — each of us — only get a little time to do it. And none of us every really succeeds, except in small ways, for the benefit of only a few people. But that in itself is exquisite proof that this really is heaven, if only we make it so.

For sure, thinking heaven is somewhere else and yearning for it is the surest way to make this place hell, which is exactly what we’ve done for the last 5,000 years, thanks in large part to believing that God is somewhere else and we want to go there rather than realizing God is right here, helping us all the time to make the Earth heaven. This has happened in large part BECAUSE religions have told us that heaven was somewhere else, instead of right here.

The only real fruits of religions can be seen flashing from the barrel of a gun, and heard in the moans of the innocent wailing for their unjustly murdered loved ones. This is what religions seek to accomplish, and they succeed, because people have decided not to understand what life is really about, or the true nature of the gift we have been given.

In being greedy and expecting to find a magic formula that will insulate us from the inevitability of death (can’t you see it’s the way the system works?), we trash the very things that give us life in the first place. And thanks to psychotic marching orders like the Book of Revelation, we are very likely to destroy the conditions that allow us this great gift of life simply because we refuse to accept the condition of our gift, that it does not last forever, that nothing lasts forever, not even our great and wild universe.

That’s why I always say, without death, the possibility of goodness would not exist. When you have to sacrifice everything to achieve the right thing, that is love. If we lived forever, none of these things would matter, since we would have everything we wanted, and nothing would mean anything to us.

Therefore, believing that we have everything in the security of an eternal life is precisely what is causing us to trash our planet and murder innocent people with impunity, because the lies our minds know are lies but our mouths nevertheless say in order to vainly attempt to convince ourselves that we don’t die are lashing out in unexpected ways.

We are blinded by this false light of our own creation, an inauthentic abomination that deep in our hearts and minds we know is a lie. Yet we are transfixed by this artificial light, because it keeps us from realizing our clock is ever ticking and our lease will be soon be up. (Any resemblance of this light to a TV screen is not purely coincidental.)

To really see, and to really know why we are here, we may not keep insisting that we will live forever by the power of magic incantations and formulas, but we must screw up our courage and wander into the darkness of our own shadows, and begin to understand how the seepage from this gigantic ontological lie is causing all this unnecessary death and destruction. We delude ourselves into thinking that killing enemies prolongs our own life, but that is only a fearful illusion.

Once upon a time I said, true warmth is found in the coldest dream. Now I would suggest that the brightest light is found confronting the deepest darkness.

It is not an exaggeration to say that everything depends on you understanding this. It will not take many more days of ignoring this problem for all of us to perish permanently in the abyss of our own self-deception, with no one left to say this was the epitaph of the shadow people, destroyed by their own fearful religions.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives near the eternal ocean in a fading paradise called Florida. His numerous Internet essays are for sale in anthologies at

Let's face it - the state has lost its mind

By John Pilger

The media coverage of this past election was a pastiche. Our right to know what our rulers are doing to people the world over is being lost in the new propaganda consensus.

05/12/05 "New Statesman"
- - In 1987, the sociologist Alex Carey, a second Orwell in his prophesies, wrote "Managing Public Opinion: the corporate offensive". He described how in the United States "great progress [had been] made towards the ideal of a propaganda-managed democracy", whose principal aim was to identify a rapacious business state "with every cherished human value". The power and meaning of true democracy, of the franchise itself, would be "transferred" to the propaganda of advertising, public relations and corporate-run news. This "model of ideological control", he predicted, would be adopted by other countries, such as Britain.

To many who work conscientiously in the media, this will sound alarmist; it is not like that in Britain, they will say. Ask them about censorship by omission or the promotion of business ideology and war propaganda as news, a promotion both subtle and crude, and their defensive response will be that no one ever instructed them to follow any line: no one ever said not to question the Prime Minister about the horror he had helped to inflict on Iraq: his epic criminality. "Blair always enjoys his interviews with Paxo," says Roger Mosey, the head of BBC Television News, without a hint of irony.

Blair should enjoy them; he is always spared the imperious bombast that is now a pastiche and kept mostly for official demons. "Watch George Galloway clash with Jeremy Paxman," says the BBC News homepage like a circus barker. Once under the big top of Newsnight, you get the usual set-up: a nonsensical question about whether or not Galloway was "proud of having got rid of one of the few black women in parliament", followed by mockery of the very idea that his opponent, an unabashed Blairite warmonger, should account for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people.

Seven years ago, when Denis Halliday, one of the United Nations' most respected humanitarian aid directors, resigned from his post in Iraq in protest at the Anglo-American-led embargo, calling it "an act of genocide", he was given the Paxo treatment. "Aren't you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?" he was mock-asked. The following year, Unicef revealed that the embargo had killed half a million Iraqi children. As for East Timor, a triumph of the British arms trade and Robin Cook's "ethical" foreign policy, the presence of British Hawk jets was "not proved", declared Paxo, parroting a Foreign Office lie. (A few months later, Cook came clean.) Today, napalm is used in Iraq, but the armed forces minister is allowed to pretend that it isn't. Israel's weapons of mass destruction are "dangerous in the extreme", says the former head of the US Strategic Command, but that is a permanent taboo.

In the Guardian of 9 May, famous journalists and their executives were asked to reflect on the election campaign. Almost all agreed that it had been "boring" and "lacked passion" and "never really caught fire". Mosey complained that it had been "very hard to reach out to people who are disengaged". Again, irony was absent, as if the BBC's obsequiousness to the "consensus of propaganda", as Alex Carey called it, had nothing to do with people's disengagement or with the duty of journalists to engage the public, let alone tell them things they had a right to know.

It is this right-to-know that is being lost behind a wilful illu-sion. Since the cry "freedom of the press" was first heard roughly 500 years ago, when Wynkyn de Worde set up Caxton's old printing press in the yard of St Bride's Church, off Fleet Street, there has never been more information or media in the "mainstream", yet most of it is now repetitive and profoundly ideological, captive to the insidious system that Carey described.

Omission is how it works. Between 1 and 15 April, the Media Tenor Institute analysed the content of television evening news. Foreign politics, including Iraq, accounted for less than 2 per cent. Search the post-election comments of the most important people in journalism for anything about the greatest political scandal in memory - the unprovoked bloodbath in Iraq - and you will find nothing. The Goldsmith affair was an aberration, forced on to the election agenda not by a journalist but by an insider; and no connection was then made with the suffering and grief in Iraq.

In the middle of the election campaign, Dr Les Roberts gave a special lecture at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London. It was all but ignored. Yet this is the extraordinary man who led an US-Iraqi research team in the first comprehensive investigation of civilian deaths in Iraq. Published in the Lancet, the most highly regarded medical journal in the world, with the tightest peer-review procedures, the study found that "at least" 100,000 civilians had died violently, the great majority of them at the hands of the "coalition": women, children, the elderly. He also described how American military doctors had found that 14 per cent of soldiers and 28 per cent of marines had killed a civilian: a huge, unreported massacre.

This great crime, together with the destruction of the city of Fallujah and the 40 known victims of torture and unlawful killing at the hands of the British army, as well as the biggest demonstration by Iraqis demanding the invaders get out, was not allowed to intrude on a campaign that "never really caught fire". The airbrushing requires no conspiracy. "The thought," wrote Arthur Miller, "that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."

In its ideological crusade, the Blair regime has bombed and killed and abused human rights directly or by proxy, from Iraq to Colombia, from tsunami-stricken Aceh to the 14 most impoverished countries in Africa, where the sale of British weapons has fanned internal conflict. When I asked a television executive why none of this had been glimpsed in the election "coverage", he seemed nonplussed. "It was not relevant to the news," he said. What is relevant in the wake of the election is a propaganda consensus promoting the "potential greatness" of Gordon Brown, as the greatness of the now embarrassing Blair was once promoted. ("My God, he will be a hard act to follow. My God, Labour will miss him when he has gone," wrote Blair's most devoted promoter, Martin Kettle, in the Guardian, skipping over his crimes.)

That Brown is the same ideologue as Blair is of no concern. Neither is his commitment, not to ending poverty in the world, but to the rehabilitation of imperialism. "We should be proud . . . of the empire," he said last September. "The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over," he told the Daily Mail. These views touch the nostalgic heart of the British establishment, which, under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, has recovered from its long disorientation after Hitler gave all imperial plunderers a bad name. This and the appeasement of British imperialists is rarely mentioned in the endless anniversaries of the Second World War, whose triumphalism in politics and popular culture has bred imperial wars, such as Iraq.

Thus, Blair's foreign policy adviser Robert Cooper caused little controversy when he wrote a pamphlet calling for "a new kind kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan views". This is conquest redefined as liberation, evoking the same moral claims that were not questioned until Hitler. "Imperialism and the global expansion of the western powers," wrote Frank Furedi in The New Ideology of Imperialism, "were represented in unambiguously positive terms as a major contributor to human civilisation." That imperialism was and is racist, violent and the cause of suffering across the world - witness the ruthless expulsion of the people of Diego Garcia as recently as the 1970s - is "not relevant to the news". Observe instead the BBC swoon at Gordon Brown's 19th-century speeches about ending African poverty on condition that business can exploit and arm Africa's poorest.

All this chimes in Washington, where Bush's drivel of "democracy and liberty on the march" is swallowed by leading journalists. On both sides of the Atlantic, a vintage imperialist campaign is under way against strategic and resource-rich Arab nations: indeed, against all Muslim peoples. It is the "clash of civilisations" of Samuel Huntington's delusions. The Arabs being Semites, it is one of the west's greatest anti-Semitic crusades.

That, you might say, is well discussed. Perhaps. What is not discussed is a worldwide threat similar to that of Germany in the 1930s, certainly the greatest threat in the lifetime of most people. This is not news. Consider the unreported demise of the "war on terror". In his inaugural speech in January, Bush pointedly said not a word about that which he had made his signature. No terrorism. No Osama. No Iraq. No axis of evil. Instead, he warned that America's new targets were those living in "whole regions of the world" which "simmer in resentment and tyranny" and where "violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat".

The monumental paranoia is almost beside the point. Bush was lowering the threshold. The American military can go anywhere, attack anything, use any kind of weapon in pursuit of its latest, most dangerous illusion: the "simmering resentment" and the "gathering violence". Unreported is the military coup that has taken place in America: the Pentagon and its civilian militarists now control "policy". Diplomacy is "finished . . . dead", as one of them put it. Andrew Bacevich, soldier, conservative and professor of American military strategy at Boston University, says that Bush has "committed the United States to waging an open-ended war on a global scale".

Britain, with its profound understanding of imperialism, is a pioneer of this new danger. In 1998, the Blair government's Strategic Defence Review stated that the country's military priority would be "force projection" and that "in the post-cold war world we must be prepared to go to the crisis rather than have the crisis come to us". In 2002, Geoff Hoon became the first defence secretary to declare that British nuclear weapons could be used against non-nuclear nations. In December 2003, a defence white paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, called for "expeditionary operations" in "a range of environments across the world". Military force was no longer "a separate element in crisis resolution". Almost a third of public spending on research now goes to the military - far more than is spent on the National Health Service.

On 6 August, it will be the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima which, with the destruction of Nagasaki, stands as one of the greatest crimes. There is now a nuclear renaissance, led by the nuclear "haves", with America and Britain upgrading their "battlefield" nuclear weapons. The very real danger is, or should be, clear to all of us. The Guardian says Blair, having won his "historic" third term, ought to be "humble". It is truly humbling that only 20 per cent of eligible voters voted for him, the lowest figure in modern times, and that he has no true mandate. No, it is journalists who ought to be humble and do their job.

This article first appeared in the New Statesman. For the latest in current and cultural affairs subscribe to the New Statesman print edition.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Who Would Throw a Handgrenade at George Bush?

May 11, 2005

Obviously, some people are less than enamored with George W. Bush. “American and Georgian security officers are investigating how an unarmed grenade came to be found near the site where President Bush Tuesday delivered an address before a packed crowd on Tbilisi’s Freedom Square,” writes Lisa McAdams for the Voice of America.

Actually, the “Soviet-era grenade” was thrown, landed a hundred or so feet shy of Bush, and didn’t go off. “The Secret Service was investigating a report Tuesday that a hand grenade was thrown at the stage during President Bush’s speech in the former Soviet republic of Georgia,” an earlier report states. “Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Guram Donadze at first said no grenade was thrown close to Bush, calling it a lie, but later said the secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, Gela Bezhuashvili, would make an announcement about the reports Wednesday.” Not only was the grenade thrown, but it “hit someone in the crowd,” according the Associated Press.

So, why would somebody throw a grenade at Bush? Maybe it has something to do with the U.S. meddling in other countries. “Events surrounding last month’s coup in post-Soviet Georgia, read in light of recent State Department documents, suggest that seemingly innocuous NGOs now play a central role in the policy of US-engineered ‘regime change’ set forth in the notorious National Security Strategy of the United States,” Jacob Levich wrote for Counterpunch on December 6, 2003. Even the usually Bush friendly War Street Journal, er Wall Street Journal, admitted reality, chalking up the overthrow of Eduard Shevardnadze’s regime to the operations of “a raft of non-governmental organizations . . . supported by American and other Western foundations” connected to the “mega-philanthropist” George Soros (i.e., Soro’s Open Society Institute and the Agency for International Development, created by John F. Kennedy). Soros is considered a commie, of sorts, by those on the far right (for instance, former National Review contributor and ex-House Republican staffer Phil Brennan describes Soros as a “socialist billionaire” and Lowell Ponte of David Horowitz’s Frontpage deems Soros a “Billionaire for the Left,” according to this biography of the Hungarian-born American businessman).

Soros, however, is but one player in a larger plan to stage manage elections. In “early operations” [in Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, and elsewhere],” writes Jonathan Mowat, “the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and its primary arms, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), played a central role. The NED was established by the Reagan Administration in 1983, to do overtly, what the CIA had done covertly, in the words of one its legislative drafters, Allen Weinstein.” Mowat describes the dovetailing of efforts between Soros, the far right gadfly, and NED, the latter responsible for attempting to overthrow Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (see this Media Transparency page on NED). “It is not true that the only way to ‘take out’ such regimes [as Shevardnadze’s] is through U.S. military action,” Mowat quotes Dr. Peter Ackerman, the author of “Strategic Nonviolent Conflict” (Praeger 1994), as writing in the National Catholic Reporter on April 26, 2002.

Mowat summarizes Ackerman as proposing “that youth movements, such as those used to bring down Serbia, could bring down Iran and North Korea, and could have been used to bring down Iraq—thereby accomplishing all of Bush’s objectives without relying on military means. And he reported that he has been working with the top US weapons designer, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, on developing new communications technologies that could be used in other youth movement insurgencies” of the sort used in Georgia, most recently in Kyrgyzstan, and currently underway in Lebanon.

Kyrgyzstan ousted president, Askar Akayev, blamed the United States for the “anti-constitutional coup” which forced him to flee the country in March. The so-called “daffodil revolution” in Kyrgyzstan, Akayev believes, was “supported by the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, and other organizations … They were providing training and finance” to the opposition. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, a country high on the Bush hit list, Jon Breslar, USAID’s mission director in Lebanon, told Gary C. Gambill of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, USAID has an “active civil society program” in the country, in other words they are working diligently to do the same thing in Lebanon they did in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and elsewhere (and failed to do in Venezuela).

Of course, it may have simply been a hooligan who lobbed a dud grenade at Bush as he gave one of his inimitable speeches in Tbilisi—and it may as well have been somebody outraged by the meddling of Bush and the unleashing of so-called “non-profit” and “non-governmental” neoliberal organizations and foundations in Georgia. “Addressing one of the largest crowds of his presidency, Bush credited Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 with touching off a ‘freedom movement’ that has spread to Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon,” reports the Washington Post this morning. “Georgia’s experience, he said, even helped rouse Iraqis to the polls in January to choose their first democratic government in a half-century.” If neoliberal front groups, funded at least in part by “liberal” billionaires, continue to organize and finance “freedom movements” (freedom ultimately for multinational corporations and the World Bank at the expense of millions of people), we can probably expect more grenades tossed at Dubya in the future. Considering this distinct possibility, Bush may want to become the boy in a shrapnel-resistant bubble when he gives speeches in countries undermined by the United States and the stinking rich financial elite.

Carding America: Tourist or Terrorist?

The Real ID Act is making its way through process now, but there can be little doubt that an act demanding every citizen submit to the newest, high-tech identification gadgetry however invasive will sail through the Congress and Senate. And you can also safely assume the technology will be far broader than the "borders" application proposed now. - {ape}

Congress set to impose ID card rules
States would need to verify papers
Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | May 5, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Congressional negotiators have agreed on a sweeping new system that would nationalize standards for driver's licenses and state identification cards, requiring states to verify the authenticity of every document that people use to prove their identity and show their legal residency.

If the House and Senate both pass the bill next week as expected, by May 2008 every state will be required to contact the issuers of birth certificates, mortgage statements, utility bills, Social Security cards, and immigration papers before granting a driver's license. States will also have to keep copies of those documents for seven years.

Touted as an antiterrorism measure, the Real ID Act would effectively erase laws in nine states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain standard driver's licenses, which are widely accepted as official identification for boarding airplanes, opening bank accounts, and entering federal courthouses.

''The Real ID Act contains vital border security provisions aimed at preventing another 9/11-type attack by disrupting terrorist travel," said Representative James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the bill's primary author. ''Issuing driver's licenses to anyone, without knowing whether they are here legally or who they really are, is an open invitation for terrorists and criminals to hide in plain sight."

Existing licenses would remain valid until they expire, and drivers who want to renew would then have to undergo the new identity verification process, Sensenbrenner said. If a state does not comply, its residents will no longer be able to use their driver's licenses for federal government identification.

Sensenbrenner and other House Republicans attached the Real ID Act to a supplemental appropriations bill funding US troops in Iraq that is considered sure to pass. Several senators from both parties objected, and some of them signed a letter to Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, saying they were concerned the bill never received a hearing in either chamber. State governments also warned that it will cause longer lines at motor vehicle bureaus and cost hundreds of millions more than Congress has estimated.

But after a week of conference negotiations, Republicans from both chambers reached a compromise that leaves most of the bill intact. Among the notable changes, the House backed away from its demand that every state submit its driver information into a single national database that would be shared with Mexico and Canada.

Civil libertarians objected to the national database, saying a shared pool of information would be vulnerable to identity thieves and would effectively create a national ID card. That provision was changed so that each state will maintain its own database. Sensenbrenner said the interstate links would be used only to make sure an applicant does not have a license elsewhere.

But Tim Sparapani of the ACLU said the language of the bill does not include restrictions on how the linked state databases can be used; theoretically, every driver's personal information may still be available for unlimited access.

''They have created a national identification card and an interlinked set of databases whereby every driver's most sensitive personal information can be viewed by potentially thousands of employees and bureaucrats around the country," he said.

Nine states issue regular driver's licenses to people who cannot document their immigration status: Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Two more -- Utah and Tennessee -- issue special motor vehicle licenses to undocumented immigrants that allow them to drive but cannot be used as ID cards.

The Real ID Act also contains a provision that will allow the Homeland Security secretary to waive any law that would inhibit the building of fencing along US borders. The provision is aimed at completing construction of a 2.5-mile section of fencing along a smuggling route between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, that has been delayed for years by environmental concerns.

Finally, the Real ID Act imposes several changes on the granting of asylum to people fleeing political, religious, or ethnic persecution. It would, for example, give immigration judges greater discretion to reject cases based on the refugee's demeanor.

However, the act would also lift some caps on the number of asylum cases allowed each year. And several asylum proposals were taken out in conference after evangelical Christian groups objected that they could hurt legitimate victims. One would have stopped appeals courts from staying a deportation order while they reviewed a rejected applicant's case.

Sensenbrenner originally tried to get the Real ID Act attached to the intelligence overhaul bill in 2004. He allowed it to be removed from that bill after House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, and the Bush administration assured him that they would support attaching the act to the first must-pass legislation Congress would take up in 2005.

The bill attracted a range of critics who said it contained flaws that would have been corrected had it undergone scrutiny through a normal legislative hearing instead of being rushed through Congress.

Cheye Calvo, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the bill imposes big costs and sets an unrealistic three-year deadline for states without giving them a voice in the process. Congress estimated it will cost about $100 million to purchase the necessary equipment to meet the Real ID Act's demands, but Calvo said the real figure is likely to be $500 million to $700 million.

''We don't have a whole lot of confidence that the money is going to materialize in the federal budget to pay for all these tedious new mandates," Calvo said.

But Sensenbrenner said the security benefits are worth the cost of more clerks and the inconvenience of longer waits at motor vehicle agencies.

''If somebody has to stand in line a few minutes more in order to make sure that the driver's license system is as secure as possible, that's a small price to pay than having thousands or tens of thousands of people killed in a terrorist attack where somebody used a driver's license to get on an airplane," he said.

Mainstream Dud: Iraq Bombshell Goes Unreported

Iraq bombshell
goes mostly unreported in U..S media

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Journalists typically condemn attempts to force their colleagues to disclose anonymous sources, saying that subpoenaing reporters will discourage efforts to expose government wrongdoing. But such warnings seem like mere self-congratulation when clear evidence of wrongdoing emerges, with no anonymous sources required—and major news outlets virtually ignore it.

A leaked document that appeared in a British newspaper offered clear new evidence that U.S. intelligence was shaped to support the drive for war. Though the information rocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s re-election campaign when it was revealed, it has received little attention in the U.S. press.

The document, first revealed by the London Times (5/1/05), was the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting in Blair’s office with the prime minister’s close advisors. The meeting was held to discuss Bush administration policy on Iraq, and the likelihood that Britain would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided,” the minutes state.

The minutes also recount a visit to Washington by Richard Dearlove, the head of the British intelligence service MI6: “There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

That last sentence is striking, to say the least, suggesting that the policy of invading Iraq was determining what the Bush administration was presenting as “facts” derived from intelligence. But it has provoked little media follow-up in the United States. The most widely circulated story in the mainstream press came from the Knight Ridder wire service (5/6/05), which quoted an anonymous U.S. official saying the memo was ‘’an absolutely accurate description of what transpired” during Dearlove’s meetings in Washington.

Few other outlets have pursued the leaked memo’s key charge that the “facts were being fixed around the policy.” The New York Times (5/2/05) offered a passing mention, and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05) wrote an editorial about the memo and the Iraq War. A columnist for the Cox News Service (5/8/05) also mentioned the memo, as did Molly Ivins (, 5/10/05). Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that Post readers had complained about the lack of reporting on the memo, but offered no explanation for why the paper virtually ignored the story.

In a brief segment on hot topics in the blogosphere (5/6/05), CNN correspondent Jackie Schechner reported that the memo was receiving attention on various websites, where bloggers were “wondering why it’s not getting more coverage in the U.S. media.” But acknowledging the lack of coverage hasn’t prompted much CNN coverage; the network mentioned the memo in two earlier stories regarding its impact on Blair’s political campaign (5/1/05, 5/2/05), and on May 7, a short CNN item reported that 90 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the White House about the memo – but neglected to mention the possible manipulation of intelligence that was mentioned in the memo and the Democrats’ letter.

Salon columnist Joe Conason posed this question about the story:

“Are Americans so jaded about the deceptions perpetrated by our own government to lead us into war in Iraq that we are no longer interested in fresh and damning evidence of those lies? Or are the editors and producers who oversee the American news industry simply too timid to report that proof on the evening broadcasts and front pages?”

As far as the media are concerned, the answer to Conason’s second question would seem to be yes. A May 8 New York Times news article asserted that “critics who accused the Bush administration of improperly using political influence to shape intelligence assessments have, for the most part, failed to make the charge stick.” It’s hard for charges to stick when major media are determined to ignore the evidence behind them.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is a national media watch group, based in New York. FAIR publishes Extra!, the award-winning magazine of media criticism, and produces the weekly radio program CounterSpin, the show that brings you the news behind the headlines.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bush Assassination Attempt in Russia Today

Bush Assassination Attempt in Russia Today

ABC News is reporting tonight, or rather deferring to a story on yet another pension plan looting: This time at United Airlines...but back to the story.... -{lex}

Breaking 7:27 pdt: Still little word on this in the main, but details are fanning - see below {lex}


Bush Assassination Attempt in Russia Today
C. L. Cook News
May 10th, 2005

The briefest of facts came across the wire moments ago (ABC Seattle 5:30 News) in an eerily casual tone reporting, while Bush was at a public event in Georgia, during his address, a "device" landed within a hundred feet of the podium.

Security is now saying the "device" is being described as a "grenade."

The "device" did not explode. Secret Service says they were not informed of the attempt,
if that is what it was, until after they'd left the country.


Kaczynski Redux: Was the Unabomber Right?

For our younger readers; the Unabomber was the now psychiatrically
imprisoned mathematical wizard, Theodore Kaczynski. -{ape}

The Bunker
Was the Unabomber right?
Anthony Lappe
B05983 Sun, 8 May 2005 01:29:22 -0500

It’s shit like this and this that makes me wonder if the Unabomber wasn’t right after all (not the part about killing people).

More on computer grading.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Inexorable War Creep: Canada a Step Further into the Breach

Defence Minister Graham

"Let's Roll!"

Inexorable War Creep

C. L. Cook
May 9th, 2005

Canada's pretence to non-alignment, or at least nothing more than a loose affiliation, with Bush administration ambitions of global energy domination lost another veil with Bill Graham's announcement of a Canadian troop deployment to the oilfields of Darfur.

There's been thunder and bluster coming from the Tory benches for more than a year, demanding the humanitarian situationin Darfur requires an immediate military response. The risk we take in waiting is another Rwanda in Sudan, they implore. But that logic begs belief in the necessity to spend Canadian lives and taxes to avoid the possible repeat of an event these same critics didn't care about when actually happening in Rwanda.

Saving black African lives has never been a priority, not among the men making policy. Who cares now about Congo, where nearly ten times as many have died as in the tragic Sudan? No, the real tragedy of Darfur is its unfortunate proximity to a great black sea of oil. As in other theatres of the grand global turmoil: Iraq; Colombia; Venezuela; it's oil putting Sudan in the octopus' sights. And the humanitarian disaster is the side-show, merely another Kosovo.

And Canada's tentacles do great agency to the work: Troops engaged in the illegal war and regime change in Afghanistan; Canadian war ships, under U.S. command running search and seizure patrols in the Persian Gulf; federal police and Canadian military aiding an illegal and brutal regime in Haiti, a regime Canadian machinations helped implace; Yugoslavia; Somalia, and now Darfur. It would be just another sad and too typical foreign policy story for Canadians long enduring these past years, but there's more to Darfur than meets the media eye. Because, there's more than one monster in the tar.

Both China and India haven't rested on their sweatshop laurels. The two most rapidly growing economies in the world have been going abroad, investing, greasing palms, and all the other ugly deeds done to cut deals. China has been especially industrious, securing much of coveted Darfur, and they're determined to keep it. With the "Stans" gone Uncle Sam's way for now, China has to make a play in Africa. They've supported the government there with equipment and, depending on the source, some thousands of Chinese troops. Are Canadians really up for the Red Army? Is the final gambit in the great game a WWIV scenario over control of Africa's oil and minerals?

Clearly there is a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, but it has little to do with the story being peddled to "justify" another bloodbath for oil and reconstruction contracts. The infamous dastards this time are the Janjawid, an "anti-government militia" much in the style of Colombia's AUC; they are conveniently classified as enemies, while being used to do the government's dirtiest work. In this case, as in the wilds of Colombia, their job is to clear the indigenous from the riches they happen to reside atop. Meanwhile the emperor's agents have the ears and balls of the "rogue" leadership firmly in hand. It's a crisis, but not without a calculated cause.

Judging by ongoing Canadian interventions around the world, is it reasonable to expect positive results from a Canadian-style operation?

Afghanistan is still a disaster three and half years after their liberation. Haiti worsens by the day, Iraq and the Persian Gulf boil hotter now than ever. Central America poised on a hair's edge, Castro and Chavez calling militias to readiness. And now Canada is to sally 150 hapless souls into the emperors breach. Just the first of more hundreds of handfuls of fodder to feed the indefatigable maw of war? And barely a murmur.

The great opposition to our collective march into the 19th century is a political sling sent at Minister Graham, purporting he makes the move to appease a dissaffected defector of the Liberal party. A stain on a blue dress to keep the "dogs of the press" busy, while Martin dons the steel.

Chris Cook hosts the weekly public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada and serves as a contributing editor to the pro0gressive news site, You can check out his blog, here.

No lie, like the Big One!

The B.C. Libs' Big Fibby
Murray Dobbin
May 9, 2005

Trust Me!

There's no lie like a Big Lie. And as happens so often in politics in this country, the big lies — those repeated over and over again — pay big dividends. This has seldom been more true than the current election and the fact that the B.C. Liberal's whole campaign rests on the lie that 1) they inherited a huge deficit from the NDP and 2) that through tax cuts and excellent economic management Gordon Campbell turned things around and saved the province.

First, the foundation for all of the Liberal's propaganda: the NDP deficit myth. Rather than hand the Liberals a huge deficit requiring severe cuts to public services, the NDP in its last year in office, 2000-2001, racked up the largest surplus in B.C. history to that date — a total of $1.56 billion. The previous year, the NDP had a surplus of $150 million.

When he won in 2001, Gordon Campbell faced a problem: that pesky surplus would put pressure on him to spend on social programs. Better, in the odd logic of right-wing neo-liberals, to face a fiscal crisis, a deficit crisis. What better way to rationalize the most vicious cuts to social spending and environmental protection the province had ever seen?

How do you create a fiscal crisis? Simple. Take over $2 billion dollars of government revenue and burn it — or, even better, give it away in tax cuts to your friends. B.C.'s largest corporations got a huge whack of tax cuts and so did B.C.'s wealthiest residents.

Campbell's cuts were some of the most unfair ever seen in Canada with the wealthiest 11,000 British Columbians (those making over $250,000) taking home 15.2 percent of the total tax cut pie, about as much as the million people who make up bottom half of all tax payers earning $30,000 or less.

The made-to-order deficit crisis set the province up for the enormous cuts to services. Campbell had actually campaigned on such cuts in the 1996 election, deluding himself that British Columbians actually wanted to see their schools and hospitals closed and bathrooms taken out of their campgrounds. This time around he simply lied: the agenda hadn't changed, but his election strategy had.

While the economic cycle would have led to a deficit regardless of Liberal cuts, because of the tax cuts and the devastating economic impact of the spending cuts, the deficit in the Liberals' first year in office was a staggering $2.6 billion — dwarfing the highest NDP deficit in 1998-99 of just under one billion dollars. The next year was even worse — $2.68 billion in the red. In the third year — a third huge deficit in a row. By any accounting, this was the most fiscally incompetent and economically reckless government the province had ever had.

But going by the headlines, it was almost a non-event. The pundits, editorialists and the Fraser Institute who were in a constant state of agitation and near hysteria over NDP deficits were suddenly mute. Deficit? What deficit? In fact, this is always the response of the right — deficits racked up by giving tax breaks to the wealthy are okay; those created by spending on social programs (that is, on working people and the poor) are to be demonized.

By this convenient theory, tax cuts drive investment and economic growth. And while you don't hear the Liberals repeating their earlier line that the tax cuts would “ pay for themselves” you do hear that we now have big surpluses because the Liberals are such good economic managers. Neither claim stands up to even the most cursory examination.

This past year personal income tax revenue, which was supposed to go up as a result of the tax cut economic stimulus, was actually below what was taken in the last year the NDP was in power — $883 million less. Revenue from corporate taxes have not returned to their pre-cut levels either.

So where did the $1.74 billion surplus come from? Brilliant economic management by the Liberals? Well, no, actually — it came from the federal government in increased “ transfer payments,” the money B.C. gets for medicare and education plus federal equalization payments, due to B.C.'s current status as a “ have-not” province. This last fiscal year saw the province get a whopping $2.1 billion more from Ottawa than they did in 2000-2001.

If the Liberals hadn't received that extra two billion, and had not cut spending, their surplus would instead have been a deficit of $360 million.

But it gets worse. If Campbell hadn't increased tuition fees and MSP premiums they would have had a deficit a billion dollars higher yet. Now we're up to $1.4 billion in the red, giving the Liberals the dubious distinction of being able to claim four of the highest deficits in B.C. history — in four years of governing.

Maybe you knew all this stuff. But if you think you are immune from the Liberal's feel good messages on the economy, answer this question: which government in the last year of its term had the highest economic growth rate? Answer: The NDP with a rate of 4.6 per cent in 2000-2001, compared to the Liberals, last year, at 3.9 per cent. Who would have thunk it?

Murray Dobbin is the author of Paul Martin: CEO for Canada? This column has appeared in The Tyee.

Mission Still Accomplished!

May 9, 2005

The Occupation, Year Two
"Mission Accomplished"
The Independent

Two years after "Mission Accomplished", whatever moral stature the United States could claim at the end of its invasion of Iraq has long ago been squandered in the torture and abuse and deaths at Abu Ghraib. That the symbol of Saddam Hussein's brutality should have been turned by his own enemies into the symbol of their own brutality is a singularly ironic epitaph for the whole Iraq adventure. We have all been contaminated by the cruelty of the interrogators and the guards and prison commanders.

But this is not only about Abu Ghraib. There are clear and proven connections now between the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the cruelty at the Americans' Bagram prison in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Curiously, General Janis Karpinski, the only senior US officer facing charges over Abu Ghraib, admitted to me a year earlier when I visited the prison that she had been at Guantanamo Bay, but that at Abu Ghraib she was not permitted to attend interrogations - which seems very odd.

A vast quantity of evidence has now been built up on the system which the Americans have created for mistreating and torturing prisoners. I have interviewed a Palestinian who gave me compelling evidence of anal rape with wooden poles at Bagram - by Americans, not by Afghans.

Many of the stories now coming out of Guantanamo - the sexual humiliation of Muslim prisoners, their shackling to seats in which they defecate and urinate, the use of pornography to make Muslim prisoners feel impure, the female interrogators who wear little clothing (or, in one case, pretended to smear menstrual blood on a prisoner's face) - are increasingly proved true. Iraqis whom I have questioned at great length over many hours, speak with candour of terrifying beatings from military and civilian interrogators, not just in Abu Ghraib but in US bases elsewhere in Iraq.

At the American camp outside Fallujah, prisoners are beaten with full plastic water bottles which break, cutting the skin. At Abu Ghraib, prison dogs have been used to frighten and to bite prisoners.

How did this culture of filth start in America's "war on terror"? The institutionalised injustice which we have witnessed across the world, the vile American "renditions" in which prisoners are freighted to countries where they can be roasted, electrified or, in Uzbekistan, cooked alive in fat? As Bob Herbert wrote in The New York Times, what seemed mind-boggling when the first pictures emerged from Abu Ghraib is now routine, typical of the abuse that has "permeated the Bush administration's operations".

Amnesty, in a chilling 200-page document in October, traced the permeation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memos into the prisoner interrogation system and the weasel-worded authorisation of torture. In August 2002, for example, only a few months after Bush spoke under the "Mission Accomplished" banner, a Pentagon report stated that "in order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign, [the US law prohibiting torture] must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander- in-Chief authority." What does that mean other than permission from Bush to torture?

A 2004 Pentagon report uses words designed to allow interrogators to use cruelty without fear of court actions: "Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent [to be guilty of torture] even though the defendant did not act in good faith."

The man who directly institutionalised cruel sessions of interrogation in Abu Ghraib was Major-General Geoffrey Miller, the Guantanamo commander who flew to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize the confinement operation" there. There followed the increased use of painful shackling and the frequent forcible stripping of prisoners. Maj-Gen Miller's report following his visit in 2003 spoke of the need for a detention guard force at Abu Ghraib that "sets the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of the internees/detainees". According to Gen Karpinski, Maj-Gen Miller said the prisoners "are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe they're more than a dog, then you've lost control of them".

The trail of prisons that now lies across Iraq is a shameful symbol not only of our cruelty but of our failure to create the circumstances in which a new Iraq might take shape. You may hold elections and create a government, but when this military sickness is allowed to spread, the whole purpose of democracy is overturned. The "new" Iraq will learn from these interrogation centres how they should treat prisoners and, inevitably, the "new" Iraqis will take over Abu Ghraib and return it to the status it had under Saddam and the whole purpose of the invasion (or at least the official version) will be lost.

With an insurgency growing ever more vicious and uncontrollable, the emptiness of Mr Bush's silly boast is plain. The real mission, it seems, was to institutionalise the cruelty of Western armies, staining us forever with the depravity of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bagram - not to mention the secret prisons which even the Red Cross cannot visit and wherein who knows what vileness is conducted. What, I wonder, is our next "mission"?

Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's collection, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Fisk's new book, The Conquest of the Middle East, will be released this fall.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

In Peace's Service? Canadian Troops to Sudan

Ottawa will increase that commitment "by a factor of five or less," said the source. The exact number will depend on what the forces in-theatre say they need.

Ottawa has also leased helicopters for the African Union force. It is now contemplating other transportation options Canada no longer requires, including surplus vehicles "with some protection" -- not Iltis jeeps.

Canadian Wheat Farmers Move Big to Vancouver

Farmer group to compete for Canada's grain exports
Friday, May 06, 2005 6:27:30 PM ET
By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A consortium of farmer-owned grain elevators will become the newest competitors in Canada's export markets this autumn by taking over a West Coast terminal, the group announced on Friday.

Five inland terminals that until now have focused on handling crops in the largest grain-growing province of Saskatchewan and shipping them to big grain export companies, will now start looking abroad for buyers.

"This deal allows us to have a window on the world to achieve our goal to become more competitive in exporting," said Garth Gish, who runs a terminal at Plenty, Saskatchewan, and is spokesman for the consortium.

The group, called Terminal One, is buying the 102,000-tonterminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, from Agricore United, Canada's largest grain company.

Agricore United was ordered to sell one of the three terminals it owns in Vancouver by the federal competition watchdog when the company was formed in a merger in 2001.

The Terminal One group plans to handle 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of grain a year at first, Gish said, but hopes to expand over time.

By comparison, Agricore United handled 10 million tonnes in the 2004 fiscal year and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the second-largest player, shipped 6.4 million tonnes.

"Collectively, we're much more significant than we have been," Gish said. "We're not yet the biggest, but we're working toward it."

Canada's big grain handlers have incurred massive losses in recent years, the result of too much capacity and too little grain during years of drought.

But the inland terminals have fared much better because of loyal farmer shareholders who like receiving dividends from hauling grain to the facilities and value the service they receive, Gish said.

"We've all been very, very successful in a tough marketplace the past few years," Gish said. "I think farmers getting control of their destiny at the next level is going to be important to them."

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the agreement was expected to close before Aug. 1, Agricore said in a release.

Agricore said it will put the proceeds toward debt or capital reinvestment.

The company said it expects to continue to handle the same amount of grain through Vancouver after the sale.

(Additional reporting by Mervin Brass in Saskatoon)