Thursday, August 31, 2006
All The News
Understand very little news is obtained by reporters discovering and verifying events on the scene. More likely wells, in both virtual and wet sense, are hotel bars where well oiled 'reporters' concoct tomorrow's story by playing catch among each other with balls of tonight's bull shit. Much of that originated pre packaged by parties with self serving agendas. From there, the course of most news is through copying, and when enough copiers copy from copiers, there can emerge stories bearing little relation to existance, sequence, and importance of events.
All news outlets have their own bias. They are first of all businesses and configure offerings with financial success in mind. That is done by feeding an intended audience what it wants and expects. Publication is also always filtered by local political and social desires and constraints. What is censored, externally or internally, either officially or de facto, in one society, may be promoted in like manner and cause in another.
There are many, not always obvious, editorial ways for bending news to fit and further business, political, and social ends. Some are placement of articles, wording and size of headlines, who is assigned to what story, who and what is and isn't published, what other sources are copied from, length of time a story stays 'current', attaching eye and interest catching graphics, enhancement or degrading with psyche twisting adjectives and adverbs. All contribute to slant not only particular articles but entire publications. A perceptive reader notes those and always questions "Who is it that wants me to believe that and why?"
What follows is an opinionated take on Further Left's news links.
Based in Doha, Qatar, al Jazeera is probably the most accurate, reliable, and balanced daily news source, particularly in regard to events in the middle east. That the US government has tried its damndest to shut it down may be its best recommendation.
Published in Hong Kong, carries excellent opinion pieces that would never see print in the 'West'.
There are balanced and even left oriented national papers in Mexico, but this one's seemingly wishful straining stare north is the only daily English coverage of Mexico from Mexico. Better to translate La Jornada.
Once in a while something outside the US sneaks through the claimed automatic selection of offerings, but it is generally best to keep your bull shit detector plugged in. The international versions linked at page bottom are worth exploring.
Cuba's official cheerleader. Sure it is driven by anti US propaganda. So would any paper published under deprivation from and constant fear of the great shark of the north. You can find articles the shark would never chew.
One word, the same that personal prejudice attaches in general to the English, "boring". Lots there but what about? Supportive evidence shows in its listing of Most Read Stories.
From Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Carries opinion pieces you will never see in the 'West'.
Hooray, hooray for our side! Activist stuff. Not often updated or online. There are links to more local Independent Media sites.
Used to carry Pravda but replaced by this 'independent' Russian news preferred by one of our Contributors. Wins the prize for best online layout and readability. Not much beyond concern to Russians. Anyone smell CIA?
Non-aligned Nation News. Brief articles not driven by guns and planes of the 'democrazies' busy attacking these sorts of nations, not openly anyhow.
Beijing, China. "Old Hu had a farm, Eyi eyi Hu, Here a Hu, there a Hu, everwhere a Hu Hu, Eyi eyi Hu." But they are the other side of the colossus and hardly a paper tiger. Opinion pieces can be good. So are informative ones about China the nation and its cultures.
Seems driven by Cuba in covering Latin America. There is material not appearing elsewhere.
Anyone remember the 'domino theory' worn out in justifying slaughter? (Once one nation goes communist, the rest will tumble right in line). Can't tell it from this Vietnamese paper. Reads like a little brother business journal. Guess that domino was glued in place.
Tried in vain finding an Indian source with at least enough balance to admit there is a 'leftist' outlook. One of our users from India told this one is owned by communists. That is not apparent on reading.
Look here if seeking a Spanish language paper in Chicago, univsersity newspaper, or weekly cross road home town gossip sheet.
Then you can always turn on the TV for CNN, stuff beans in your ears, and watch the talking heads lie.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Who Is The Enemy?
The Minutemen: Mad at the Wrong Guys
The contemporary Minutemen, mostly white guys with guns, have taken their stand on the Mexico border. The stand with binoculars, gazing South, yearning to fire off a few rounds at their enemies the immigrants.
The problem is that the Minutemen are mad at the wrong guys. The guys they want are back East. The enemies they're after are not short, dark-skinned guys with names like Jesús Martínez but tall, fair-skinned fellows with names like Jack Welsh, Sam Walton and Richard Farmer.
Answer these questions, and you see where the Minutemen have gotten lost.
Who closed the auto plants and steel mills taking away hundreds of thousands of unionized jobs with high pay and good benefits? Who sent the auto parts plants, television plants, hospital supply plants, and many others to Mexico? American corporations sent them South looking for lower wages. The foreign workers had no hand in it and weren't even allowed to say a word.
Who declares bankruptcy to take awake workers' contracts, wages, benefits and pensions? Not immigrant workers. American corporations like LTV, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, United Airlines, Delphi have turned to bankruptcy to screw workers. The immigrants worker now takes a job in a place that plays little more than the minimum wage-but the employers drove down the wage, not the immigrants.
Who took your son or daughter-or is about to take them--and sent them to kill or die for oil in Iraq? An American politician, a congressman, probably a former corporate lawyer, threatens your kids' lives-not the immigrant worker. Most immigrants I know oppose the U.S. imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Who lowers income taxes for the rich and raises sales taxes on the poor? You can bet it was politicians who receive money from corporate PACs. Immigrant workers didn't raise our taxes. Most of them can't even vote and congressmen pay even less attention to them than they do to us.
Who was it that--after they got rid of the union jobs--hired the immigrant, paid her or him low wages, denied them basic benefits like health care, and worked them like they were pack animals? Who advertised for immigrants in Mexico or Central America, brought them here illegally, hired them illegally, and often worked them in violation of the wages and hours act? Well, it wasn't Juanita.
Who discriminates against African American workers, preferring to hire Latin American immigrants who have no rights? It's the boss-not the immigrant worker.
Who was it that destroyed Mexico's economy with NAFTA, forcing the Mexicans to come here? Who was it that supported Guatemala's dictators as they turned Indian communities into killing fields, leaving many Guatemalans with no alternative but to come here? Who was it who destroyed the economies of South America, creating mass unemployment followed by mass migration? I think you know who it was, and it wasn't the wretched family trying to cross the Sonora-Arizona desert with a few gallons of water, a few dollars in their pocket and a prayer on their lips.
Who should you be mad at, Minutemen? It wasn't the foreign worker and it wasn't immigrant who took away our jobs, high wages, good benefits and decent working conditions. It was that congeries of scoundrels and lawyers, that complex of interlocking directorates and corporate hierarchies, that network of good old boys with Texas oil money and that clique of New York bankers with sheaves of stocks and bonds, that system of political payoffs, favoritism and nepotism that taken all together we call the American power elite--what the old school called the ruling class-that's who did it. They're white guys, they wear ties, and they live on this side of the border.
If the Minutemen want to guard America from lying, thieving, murdering bastards who would destroy our country and its values, then they are shooting in the WRONG DIRECTION. Go East young Minuteman!
If the Minutemen want to protect us, then they should throw their guns in their jeeps and go to Washington, D.C. to get those guys who cut the taxes on the rich and raised the taxes on the poor.
Or, instead of taking pot shots across the border, they should take their troops to New York and visit the offices of the insurance companies and health care corporations that keep us from getting single payer health.
They might jump in their half-tracks and head to the headquarters of the oil companies whose avarice drives us to war in Iraq while opposing measures that would conserve our resources and save our environment.
The contemporary Minutemen don't seem to me to be in the tradition they claim. The original Minutemen didn't go out shooting at poor farmers coming to town looking for jobs, they fought their government-then the British government-and they fought the wealthy English Loyalists. The original Minutemen fought the power-not the powerless.
I could support the Minutemen, once they get straight who the enemy is. And it isn't Jesús and Juanita. It's guys like Sam Walton of Walmart, Jack Welsh of GE and Richard Farmer of CINTAS, corporate CEOs who drive to amass profits and power who have fought labor unions, killed the good jobs, driven down wages. How about the Minutemen mount up, gather up the posse, and get those guys. That would be a task worthy of their historic name.
Close Your Eyes
Plug Your Ears
A New York business man has been arrested for providing satellite access to Al Manar television, a station broadcasting since 1991. Its news programs show statements from Hezbollah. The US classifies that as a terrorist entity. The man now faces five years in prison for supporting terrorism.
There is no news of Iran making arrests for reading the New York Times. Mexico has yet to jail anyone for watching CNN's Lou Dobbs show. People can say "George Bush" in China.
Reporters Without Borders, considered by some a CIA front, regularly critiques those three nations for blocking access to information. There is little chance it will condemn the US for the same. That's the land of the free.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Land And Freedom
This is the story of the fight of the Bushmen against the Botswanan government to remain where they have always lived.
They are one of the first peoples to have inhabited the southern region of the African continent. Yet, today the Bushmen of Botswana are at risk of eviction from the land on which they have lived for the last twenty thousand years: a vast reserve in the Kalahari Desert where, up until a few years ago, they were the undisputed patrons. It could end in defeat, but a legal battle has begun, initiated by a few members of the ancient hunter-gatherer tribe Gana and Gwi, to allow them to continue to live in the inhospitable central region of the country.
The Gaborone government appears to be available for everything except to have discussions with them, and it will probably force the Bushmen to move to one of its "relocation camps". This will force the Bushmen into changing their ancient customs and way of life forever. A prospect that has in recent years, incited a number of protests by defenders of tribal people's rights, among them is Survival. According to Survival behind the Botswanan government decision there could be a hidden desire to explore the area for diamond deposits.
Shining secret. Miriam Ross spokeswoman for the London organisation tells PeaceReporter, "We have a strong suspicion that the government wants to clear the zone in order to look for diamonds. On the other hand, why do the politicians wants to free themselves at all costs from an innocuous population that has lived for so long in that area?"
The problem for the Bushmen started twenty years ago, when a law was introduced that prohibited hunting in the reserve where they lived. A few years later the government decided to cut off their water supply, saying that the costs were too high. Since 1997 thousands of members of the Bushman tribe were forced to move, (some use the term "deported"), to one of the camps outside the Kalahari region.
The pictures and testimonials obtained by Survival talk of slums in the middle of nowhere, where women, men and children, who were used to hunting and living freely on their immense lands, now vegetate living off the little that the government provides and who are worn out socially and psychologically by the bureaucratic limbo that they find themselves in. "
These are a people that have always lived by their ancient culture", continues Ross," and now they find themselves confined to living in corrugated iron huts , not knowing what is to become of them. It's easy to imagine what this can create: in the camps depression has caused alcoholism and almost all types of social problems such as prostitution, that has caused an increase in the number of people with HIV and AIDS, a situation which is very worrying for a country such as Botswana.
The government of Botswana has adopted the most futile of excuses for this situation: the high cost of water supplies and the protection of wild animals, whereas the true cause is diamonds."
The Accusation. Survival maintains that a few years ago the government hired some international public relations companies in order to hide their real intentions in respect of the problem of the Bushmen. Amongst these companies was Hill and Knowlton a large multinational, it is accused of having received huge amounts of money from the Botswanan government for lying on its behalf. It produced material that demonstrated the transparent behaviour of the government regarding the question of diamonds.
PeaceReporter was contacted by a spokesperson of the company from one of its branches in Brussels that denied the accusations: "We don't work for the Government of Botswana. We were only asked to demonstrate that the diamond business that it is running does not damage the population as has happened in other African countries (such as Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola) We were only concerned with this."
Blackmail. The question remains open, as does the hope that the Bushmen succeed in getting their ancestral land back soon. Some of them have refused to leave the Kalahari which has made the authorities use force or blackmail.
On Survivals web site you can read the testimonial of Losolobe Mogestse, one of the members of the tribe that has refused to leave his land and go to one of the camps. He tells the story of being approached by a member of the police force who tried to intimidate him into leaving. However, he refused to leave, the policeman then told him that his father, who for some time has been one of the camps, was dying. The only way he could see him again was to leave his village and go and live in the camp forever.
An African Problem. The Bushmen, like the other populations that are as ancient as the African continent itself, today risk being thrown off their land and risk losing their cultural identity forever. The reasons are usually the same: the exploitation of resources and the appropriation of new land by the state, often spurred on by the profits of business enterprises or multinational companies.
One of the most notable cases is that of the Nube, forced to fight for fifty years against the Sudanese government for the control of their land, but above all for their culture. The Pigmies of Central Africa have been fighting for a long time, for the right to continue to live in the rain forests where deforestation is caused by mining for oil reserves or the development of tourist resorts.
The same has happened to the warrior-herdsman, the Maasai, who for some months have been at war against the Kenyan government because land loaned to the British colonialists a century ago has never been given back to them. On the other hand, the other populations of Mursi, Bodi and Konso in the southern region of Ethiopia that are killing each other for access to water supplies. Or in East Africa, where clashes between nomadic and settled peoples are destabilising a whole area, creating refugees and evacuees, which the government often can't or doesn't want to concern itself with.
Translated by Helen Dufton
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Keep Them Scared
USA and its allies
"Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are no more than functional tools for Washington’s needs in the search for a great new enemy to replace the extinguished Soviet Union and the threat of communism".
"What we are seeing is no more than a terrorism manipulated by the great powers that would not exist without them".
An interesting and revealing article in Granma International showing, as others have, Americas role in creating and using terror against its own and the rest of the world.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Craziness is sometimes characterized by repetition of the same stupid action over and over, seeing it go wrong each time, but still expecting a different result the next. Those were recorded by the US in Iran in 1953, Cuba in 1961, Vietnam in 1963, Chile in 1973, Iraq in 2003, and now Lebanon in 2006. Throw in recent changes in Venezuela and then Che's dream materializing in Bolivia, and consider Argentina and Brazil leaning in response to their peoples' aspirations. For tomorrow's menu, keep your eye on what AMLO is up to in Mexico City. Somehow people are realizing that billions for air forces are more impediment than necessity for victory over a not so 'misunderestimating' adversary.
There are telling words of Vietnam's General Giap which have a lot to do with today's 'misunerestimating'. He was asked how he could claim victory when the Viet Cong were decimated in the US Tet Offensive. He replied "It doesn't matter that our forces were decimated, we won."
Though Bush and puppy Blair have 'misunderestimated' current conquest attempts, Giap's lessons of asymmetric guerilla wars of defence seem not to be 'misunderestimated' but rather spread, taken to heart, and applied with success over and over. That is the opposite of 'misunderestimated' craziness.
Friday, August 18, 2006
That the world's third-wealthiest man is from Mexico, a country still plagued by poverty, is remarkable. But what's more remarkable is this: He's not the only ultrarich Mexican out there.
Mexico is quickly becoming a land of business dynasties, families that have grown fabulously wealthy through a combination of government favoritism and the privatization of hundreds of state-run enterprises in the 1990s. advertisement
"We have a huge concentration of capital in this country," said Celso Garrido, an economist at Mexico City's Autonomous Metropolitan University. "They're the superrich, the fantasticos."
These are the Mexicans who drive Porsches and live in mansions in Lomas de Chapultepec, the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. The kind of people who have no trouble getting U.S. visas and who fly into Scottsdale Municipal Airport on private jets for weekend shopping trips.
Other Mexicans refer to these people as "the 100 families" and know them from the social pages of the Reforma newspaper, where their sons and daughters appear playing polo, skydiving and sailing yachts.
These Mexican dynasties have also begun investing billions of dollars in the United States in the past decade. Americans buy and use their products, everything from cement to kitchen appliances, every day.
As these business conglomerates, often called grupos, grow, they face new challenges: greater scrutiny from foreign regulators, global competition and the advancing age of their patriarchs. But one thing remains clear: In Mexico, wealth is still a family affair.
The reach of these families and their businesses is enormous: Anyone in the western U.S. who ate a Thomas' English muffin, an Entenmann's pastry or a slice of Oroweat bread for breakfast already has contributed to the Servitje family fortune today. And tonight, countless American barflies will order up Coronas and make María Asunción Aramburuzabala, Mexico's richest woman, a little bit richer.
For these families, globalization has paid off handsomely. For example, 35 percent of stoves and refrigerators in the United States are made by a Mexican company called Mabe, founded and still led by the Berrondo family. They're sold under the Hotpoint and GE brand names.
Many of these families control the grupos that have so many kinds of companies they put General Electric to shame. Some are world leaders in their industries. They include the Bailléres family and its Grupo BAL, the world's biggest producer of silver. The Larrea family's Grupo México is the world's third-largest producer of copper and owns three mines in Arizona.
Meanwhile, América Móvil, one of Slim's companies, was named the top-performing technology company in the world by BusinessWeek this year. It beat out companies like Apple, Google, Dell and Microsoft.
Slim himself is now third on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, right behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Many of the Mexican business dynasties took off in the 1990s, when President Carlos Salinas de Gortari began dismantling Mexico's centralized economy. Salinas sold off more than 1,000 state-run companies from metal foundries to railroads. Mexican tycoons snapped them up at bargain-basement prices.
Slim, for example, led a consortium that bought the Telmex telephone monopoly for $443 million, less than two-thirds of its true value. Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who is unrelated to the former president, bought state-run Imevisión and turned it into the TV Azteca network, which has affiliates in Phoenix and Tucson.
The families then organized the companies into voting and non-voting shares. That allows them to control companies with little investment, sometimes 4 or 5 percent of the shares.
Many of the companies are expanding their plants and warehouses in the United States. Gruma is buying up competitors, including the Cenex Harvest States tortilla plant in Phoenix. Televisa, the media and sports empire controlled by the Azcárraga family, tried but failed to buy the U.S. network Univision this year. Slim bought the CompUSA chain of electronics stores in 2000 and owns a big chunk of Saks Fifth Avenue.
In all, Mexican capital investments in the United States went from nearly nothing in 1995 to $6.7 billion in 2005. The numbers show that far from being just a source of illegal migrants, Mexico is increasingly becoming a source of investors, said Dawn McLaren, a research economist at Arizona State University.
"Here are we are, complaining about illegal immigration and saying Mexicans should get out of our country," McLaren said. "So it is extremely surprising for Americans to find that there is a huge amount of foreign direct investment coming in."
Some of the grupos have run into trouble when they've tried to take this clubby, family-based business model abroad. In 2001, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged one of Slim's lawyers with insider trading during the CompUSA purchase. Then, a Texas jury slapped Slim with a $454 million verdict for sabotaging a U.S. company's plans to open CompUSA stores in Mexico.
Slim and his lawyer won both cases after legal battles, but the controversies tarnished what was Slim's highest-profile venture in the United States.
Many analysts also are becoming more concerned about the near-monopolies that many of the companies enjoy. There are only two television networks in Mexico, six radio chains, two beer companies (though they own several brands) and two major food processors.
"Mexico is just suffused with obstacles to competition," said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "It is still full of public and private monopolies and bottlenecks."
Televisa, led by Emilio Azcárraga Jean, has created the most controversy lately. In March, the Mexican Congress passed a law aimed at divvying up the radio waves. The law allows frequency-holders, mainly Televisa and TV Azteca, to freely branch out into digital services, while newcomers will have to bid for new bandwidth. The so-called Televisa Law outraged other broadcasters and may face a court challenge.
Soon, Mexico's business dynasties will have to face another thorny issue: the advancing age of their founders.
Carlos Slim is 66. The heads of Gruma, Grupo Famsa and Grupo BAL are all in their 70s.
With so many businesses to control, some families are starting to hire CEOs rather than doling out companies to sons and nephews. Other grupos, like glass manufacturer Vitro, have fractured as second- and third-generation heirs struggle for control.
The younger generations also tend to lack the boldness of their predecessors. The late Emilio "The Tiger" Azcárraga Milmo wielded Televisa's media power against enemies like a modern-day William Randolph Hearst. His 38-year-old son is known as "Kid Azcárraga" and is more reserved and technocratic.
Chris Hawley Republic Mexico City Bureau Aug. 16, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
by Elsa Claro —Granma International staff writer—
IT is highly possible that the British, French, or Belgians do not consider as immigrants the enormous contingents of their ancestors that went to other lands as officials of their governments or as go-getters of all types. But they were. They settled in those distant territories, depriving the native inhabitants of authority and riches.
Those countries, deprived of a natural development and now exploited by the replacement of the colonizers, transnational corporations and various financial institutions, are the principal donors of displaced individuals heading for the former metropolises, in search of new horizons or escaping from war. Language and cultural ties progressively influence the choice of where they go at a progressive rate.
In the 1980s, Britain received some 50,000 immigrants annually from countries that, like India, were conquered by the former nation. That figure has already risen to 160,000. The same has happened in other nations; as poverty increases, the number of people seeking relief grows.
Recently there was a migratory wave toward distinct points of Europe. The death of three people who tried to scale the Melilla border fence (which separates Spain from Morocco) led to the routine reflections regarding the migration problem. At the end of 2005, in the same area, there was a virtual mass assault by Sub-Saharan Africans. Fear resulting from the vulnerability of the moment provoked the EU to discuss development and aid projects for the forgotten continent.
With the exception of a third palisade, now almost completed, in the same place where thousands and thousands make desperate attempts in search of a better life, the rest of the announced projects are stalled half-way. At least to date, announcements about attacking poverty in order to prevent the need to abandon native lands have not moved beyond words. Thus, in recent months more than 7,400 Africans landed in the Canaries, a figure five times that of 2005. In just three days, 252 arrived in fishing canoes from Guinea Bissau.
The Spanish authorities had talks with 10 African nations from whence the undocumented migrants originate, but there is little they can do about their economic situations.
The flow can become exceptional. Its also arouses the worst reactions. According to the European Statistics Office, many Europeans feel no great sympathy for emigrants. They believe that they take their jobs in times of high unemployment or endanger existing jobs because they will break their backs doing anything to survive.
The right takes those beliefs as its banner and uses them as the crux of their promises in search of voters. The majority believes such "arguments," even though it has been demonstrated that emigrants take up jobs little sought after by natives.
Paradoxically Europe and the United States have and continue providing emigrants. For a long time now Spain has not been the "empire where the sun never sets." It has had economic situations provoking strong human exoduses. In the 50s and in the following decade, there were several of those mass human stampedes.
Something similar is happening in other countries. Currently 100,000 Britons are seeking better-paid jobs or a better future abroad, while the country is nourished with doctors and other specialists from African, India or Eastern and Central Europe.
North-North flows are seen as normal. Those that capture attention are those from the poor world. It could be, I tell myself, because one group travels by airplane and the other by whatever means possible. There are many paradoxes. None of them are comparable to the fact that each country individually or in pacts like that of the EU, is passing legislation in order to shield themselves and impede the entry of foreigners. They are acting against their own interests given that those whom they condemn are those who contribute to the demographic renovation that they lack.
The continual aging of the population is creating a shortage in pension funds created by income tax. Nearly all of these receptor nations have achieved a somewhat stable population thanks to emigrants. Europe will need 44 million foreigners before 2050 in order to have a balanced demography.
A similar trend has begun in the United States. Immigrants are complementing the growth of the U.S. economy to the point that entire sectors would be paralyzed if they were pulled from their positions, but Bush insists in limiting their rights.
When discussing the issue almost no one mentions that the 200 million foreigners living abroad generate a wealth of 1.67 billion Euros (some two trillion dollars) and with their work contribute to the development of the area in which they are located, while at the same time helping the Third World from where they came. Mexico, for example, receives nearly the same amount of income in this way as it does from sales of oil. Several Central American nations obtain a larger volume of hard currency through family remittances than from their total exports. India is among the top receivers of money sent by nationals working abroad.
The conditions that they attain are better or worse depending on geographical area. The majority of Africans that emigrate lack much competitiveness, due to the poor state and the deformed structures left behind by their conquerors.
The Sub-Saharan emigrants are among the poorest and least educated. Sometimes they have to cross through several nations to make it to the European border that Spain has become, a place to remain or from where to head for other destinations. To cross the Straits of Gibraltar they use small, precarious "boats," that claim thousands of lives each year. But in the Channel that separates the UK from France, the occurrence is no less.
The boats are made of inflatable rafts and beds, among the heterogeneous and dangerous means to cross one of the highest maritime traffic areas in the world. Those who arrive via the Euro tunnel try to find transport of any kind: hiding under trucks or trains. Hidden in the roofs and sides of vehicles on account of heavy fines. Those who risk their lives come from the former French or British colonies.
The issue remains at its point of departure. If previously they harvested those nations, imposed inconvenient administrative methods, now they continue controlling them via international finance agencies (read IMF or the World Bank and its usual debts and adjustment programs); if on top of that they provoked differences and unbridled ambitions, or used some individuals as a facade in order to guarantee already established interests, they cannot expect ecstatic resignation.
This is one of those volcanoes that could erupt at any moment.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tie Them To A Tree
In one section, under How to Recognize an Illegal this advice is given among the things to look for are "If they carry a short garden hose, used to siphon gas from your car at night" and "If they carry their lunch in a plastic bag composed of stolen oranges and burritos."
The thought of people handcuffed to trees with their lunches waiting for arrest is absurd, but could be true, if this group of trouble causing radicals is allowed to get away with this. America is lawless and out of control.
I question your lack of the third possibility in your either/or poll about predicting the winner in the Hesbollah/Israeli war; "neither. If the side that claims victory is not the one favored by your poll does that make the victory or the poll invalid? What can your poll possibly show beyond which team had the most fans? I would have chosen that third choice in whatever war you debate.
# posted by gregrandgar: Thu Aug 24, 08:18:47 PM UTC
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A Dummy Run
Stolen from Asia Times by Ehsan Ahrari
"The Bush administration ... was closely involved in the planning of Israel's retaliatory attacks" against Hezbollah. That is the conclusion of American journalist Seymour Hersh in his latest essay in The New Yorker.
If that, indeed, is true, then America's image as a military power, along with the image of the Israeli military, has been severely tarnished. This is not the end of the negative spillover effect from Israel's palpable failure to damage severely the fighting capabilities of Hezbollah. The United States might be in for more damaging fallout emanating from this fiasco.
According to Hersh, President George W Bush - who joined the Texas Air Guard to avoid being drafted for Vietnam, and has limited experience and little knowledge of the potential capability air power in warfare - and Vice President Dick Cheney - who used a variety of legal loopholes to avoid being drafted and being shipped to South Vietnam in the 1960s - believed that "a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah's heavily fortified underground missile and command and control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preemptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground."
White House sources have "vigorously denied" the veracity of Hersh's report. Press Secretary Anthony Snow said, "The piece abounds in fictions," and "assailed" Hersh's use of "unnamed sources". However, the editors of The New Yorker stand by the story.
US Department of State officials envisaged Israel's bombing campaigns "as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government". One wonders about the basic wisdom of this rationale. How can one destroy parts of Lebanon, kill hundreds and displace thousands of civilians, and expect the Lebanese government to emerge as a strong entity from that disaster?
No amount of air campaigns - no matter how limited the resulting damage - could have had a positive effect on the governing capabilities of the Lebanese government. By the same token, any Israeli ground campaign would have united the Lebanese behind Hezbollah. The uncanny unifying power of a war on a polity under siege was something both the Americans and Israelis totally ignored while they were planning or carrying out the military campaign against the country of Lebanon.
No one in the Bush administration bothered to revisit the historical annals to educate themselves about the carnage that the Israeli invasion and occupation created in Lebanon in the early 1980s. The very creation of Hezbollah is associated with that invasion and the ensuing occupation of that country.
US president John F Kennedy described many decades ago how success and failure, related to major political events, are handled in Washington. He observed, "Success has many fathers; failure is always an orphan." In that context, no one in the Bush administration now admits even having known about the Israeli air campaign, much less having any part in it. Hersh does not believe those statements.
In fact, Robert Novak, another Washington-based columnist with excellent political connections, wrote on August 6: "The Israeli government's effort to clean Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon was carefully planned by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. US officials informed me 24 days ago they would give the IDF a week to liquidate the terrorists before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could pursue a ceasefire. But the long-planned Israeli operation in southern Lebanon found no quick success as Hezbollah proved itself a formidable fighting machine."
Hersh's report, though in harmony with Novak's analysis, also talks about the Bush administration's lead role in preparing an air-campaign plan to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities and then approaching the Israelis to share intelligence on Iran and Lebanon - since Iran is reported to have played a crucial role in advising Hezbollah in constructing elaborate and complex tunnel systems to store its missiles and other military wherewithal.
The intended plan was to coordinate an air campaign with Israel. An anonymous source close to the US Air Force told Hersh, "The big question for our air force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully." Hersh states, "And so the air force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, 'Let's concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.' The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."
Hersh's essay supports what has become part of intuitive thinking - if not conventional wisdom - among Iran specialists in Washington about the real intentions of the Bush administration. There is little doubt that the neo-cons, both within and outside the government - are champing at the bit about attacking Iran - the last major confrontational state, after North Korea perhaps. Syria has never been regarded as a challenge of the same caliber as Iran to the US or to Israel. That was one reason the template for an air attack on Iran was handed over to Israel by the Bush administration. The thinking in Cheney's office, according to Hersh, was, "We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis do in Lebanon."
The Sunni Arab states were expected to do the dirty work for the Bush administration after Israel successfully destroyed the fighting capabilities of Hezbollah. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were to put pressure on Iran. That plan would have worked without much pressure from the United States. The three sycophant Sunni states were suffering from the growing paranoia from what they envisaged as the rising Shi'ite power in their region.
However, the powerful resistance of Hezbollah and its enormous popularity in the Arab street also caught the dictators of those states off guard. They originally criticized Hezbollah, but "shifted their position in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombings", in the words of Hersh.
Hersh's observations about a number of Bush officials in this episode are also interesting. Rumsfeld was ambivalent ("jaded") about the Lebanon war. Rice, once again, distinguished herself by her traditional characteristic of being bowled over by Cheney and by demonstrating an absence of independent thinking that was an attribute of her predecessor, Colin Powell.
A National Security Council functionary with strong Israeli ties, Elliott Abrams, "supported the Israeli plan", even though his spokesman denied it. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, once again, lived up to their reputation of having no backbone in terms of giving strong advice to the administration that was contrary to the thinking of Cheney and other neo-cons.
Now that there is ceasefire, there are ample discussions of who won and who emerged as a loser in this war. From the Arab perspectives, there are still two clear winners and three equally apparent losers. The chief winner is Hezbollah and its execution of asymmetric war against the high-tech Israeli military. As much as he is berated in the US and in Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has created a niche for himself as an Arab hero of this war.
The second major winner is Iran and its low-tech missiles and training of Hezbollah. It is worth noting, however, that Iran still faces the long shot of becoming a target of the Bush doctrine of regime change that continues to lurk in the background.
The most troublesome aspect of the general foreign-policy approach of the current US administration is that it refuses to learn from its past failures and almost seems eager to repeat them, regardless of the ensuing catastrophic consequences. Hersh discusses how "intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is [still] being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been ... [when] the administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction".
The three major losers of this war are Israel, the United States and Lebanese democracy. When the ceasefire was implemented, Hezbollah, though it was bruised as a fighting force, was still defiant and full of its combat spirit. The Israeli government, on the contrary, is already undergoing the post-conflict acrimonious blame game that might end up costing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert his job.
The Bush administration, if it was really using Israel's air-attack plan as a "dry run" against Iran, will have to think long and hard about its next approach toward the Islamic Republic. The very future of democracy in Lebanon is in jeopardy for now.
Once all is said and done, the most welcome development from this fiasco might be the possibility of a diplomatic engagement between Iran and the United States, once Washington finally realizes that giving war a chance in Lebanon did not lead to any lasting or peaceful solution to the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
En Su Ochento Fidel
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar
With the poor of the earth
I want to cast my lot
A mountain brook
Pleases me more than the sea
- José Martí
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Petition To Sign
To Demand an Immediate International Criminal Tribunal for Israel to Stop Global War!
To: The United Nations General Assembly
The brutal bombings and invasion of Lebanon and Gaza are acts of Israeli state terrorism. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the present U.S.-Israeli threat to Syria and Iran indicate their ruthless struggle for hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East, which would escalate into a global war.
At least 900 people have been killed in Lebanon, more than one-third children, and 3,000 wounded. The number of refugees in Lebanon has already exceeded one million. Whole residential areas, roads, bridges, ports, power stations, factories and other infra-structure have been destroyed by Israeli precision bombing. Lebanon’s economic and infrastructure damage tops $2.5B as of 4 August 2006.
In Gaza hundreds have been killed. Homes, greenhouses, bridges, water and sewerage treatment plants and electricity generators have been destroyed in the latest acts of Israeli genocide sadistically code-named ‘Operation Summer Rain,’ which began on 27 June 2006. Israel continues its brutal air strikes on the Gaza Strip almost daily.
Israel must be prosecuted immediately for its war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine to stop the war escalating into a global catastrophe. Frances A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, has asserted the legal framework for The United Nations General Assembly to immediately establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI).
“The United Nations General Assembly must immediately establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a ‘subsidiary organ’ under U.N. Charter Article 22. The ICTI would be organized along the lines of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was established by the Security Council.
“The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine--just as the ICTY did for the victims of international crimes committed by Serbia and the Milosevic Regime throughout the Balkans.
“The establishment of ICTI would provide some small degree of justice to the victims of Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine--just as the ICTY has done in the Balkans. Furthermore, the establishment of ICTI by the U.N. General Assembly would serve as a deterrent effect upon Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz, Chief of Staff Halutz and Israel’s other top generals that they will be prosecuted for their further infliction of international crimes upon the Lebanese and the Palestinians.
“Without such a deterrent, Israel might be emboldened to attack Syria with the full support of the Likhudnik Bush Jr. Neoconservatives, who have always viewed Syria as ‘low-hanging fruit’ ready to be taken out by means of their joint aggression.
“The Israeli press has just reported that the Bush Jr administration is encouraging Israel to attack Syria. If Israel attacks Syria as it did when it invaded Lebanon in 1982, Iran has vowed to come to Syria’s defense.
“And of course Israel and the Bush Jr administration very much want a pretext to attack Iran. This scenario could readily degenerate into World War III.
“For the U.N. General Assembly to establish ICTI could stop the further development of this momentum towards a regional if not global catastrophe.”
We, the undersigned, demand that The United Nations General Assembly immediately establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a ‘subsidiary organ’ under U.N. Charter Article 22 to prosecute the Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz, Chief of Staff Halutz and Israel’s other top generals and war criminals for their infliction of international war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine.
Click Here To Sign
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Have A Sad Birthday
Memorial protest demonstrations are occurring around the world. There may be one nearby you can join. If not, it is pretty easy to make one: A hunk of cardboard, a magic marker, a public sidewalk, two feet, one backbone, five letters, two words, easy to spell, "NO WAR".
Friday, August 04, 2006
July 28, 2006
Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers
From Yonit Farago in Jerusalem
WHILE Israel fights Hezbollah with tanks and aircraft, its supporters are campaigning on the internet.
Israel’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.
In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone” software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate.
Jonny Cline, of the international student group, said that Jewish students and youth groups with their understanding of the web environment were ideally placed to present another side to the debate.
“We’re saying to these people that if Israel is being bashed, don’t ignore it, change it,” Mr Cline said. “A poll like CNN’s takes just a few seconds to vote in, but if thousands take part the outcome will be changed. What’s vital is that the international face of the conflict is balanced.”
Doron Barkat, 29, in Jerusalem, spends long nights trawling the web to try to swing the debate Israel’s way. “When I see internet polls for or against Israel I send out a mailing list to vote for Israel,” he said. “It can be that after 15 minutes there will be 400 votes for Israel.
“It’s very satisfying. There are also forums where Lebanese and Israelis talk.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry must avoid direct involvement with the campaign but is in contact with international Jewish and evangelical Christian groups, distributing internet information packs.
Amir Gissin, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s public relations director, said: “The internet’s become a leading tool for news, shaping the world view of millions. Our problem is the foreign media shows Lebanese suffering, but not Israeli. We’re bypassing that filter by distributing pictures showing how northern Israelis suffer from Katyusha rocket attacks.”
Who Are Terrorists?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Try To Tell Us
Something We Don't Know
For all those ignorant citizens of the US who think that they personally have no hand in the atrocities in Lebanon and Gaza - Democracy Now interviewed Frida Berrigan, a Senior Research Associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute.