Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Ahmadinejad's Letter

The Iranian Government has released the full text of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter addressed to the American people. The letter was released Wednesday, November 29, 2006 via Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The following is its full text.

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.

Noble Americans,

Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;

And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;

Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.

Noble Americans,

Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world.

Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.

As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.

No day goes by without a new crime.

Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?

For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.

You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.

Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?

Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Let's take a look at Iraq . Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq , hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq , nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq , but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.

Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.

In Iraq , about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.

Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq .

I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.

Noble Americans,

You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.

You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed “war on terror.” But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.

The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of “the war on terror,” civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.

I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it.

The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.

The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.

Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.

My questions are the following:

Is there not a better approach to governance?

Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?

We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent.

But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?

If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?

The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all.

What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?

I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.

Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US :

The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.

Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America . But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.

To sum up:

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.

What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized; Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:

“ But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him. ” (28:67-68)

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
29 November 2006


Questions

From A Worker Who Reads? - Bertold Brecht



(MFL notes: I chose this small article because I always read it every day to remember why I am a Marxist, I am sure everyone will be interested in it as well it will trigger an interesting discussion).

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?

And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?

Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?

Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

So many reports.

So many questions.

link


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Gaining More Ground

In The South


While Colombia stayed firmly in the grasp of neo-liberalism, things went the other way in Ecuador,where leftist Rafael Correa has a decisive victory in the recent run-off vote. He will reject a US trade pact and ally himself to a regional bloc with Venezuela and it's Mercosur partners. Exit poll surveys found "sharp differences in voting preferences depending on income." As for Ortega in Nicaragua, time will tell what alliances he may decide to pursue, but the people are demanding an increased role in governance and the social movements, with their long tradition, are building once again. Mexico is now a land divided. There is a strong opposition to the corrupt business elites which have taken power but it is a divided opposition when it comes to forms of struggle. One thing is certain, the poor, the marginalized and the indigenous faction is becoming better educated and better organized. In Venezuela it appears Hugo Chavez and the parties of the Bolivarian Revolution have a strong lead and a continued mandate to extend the gains made by the poorest sector in education, healthcare, and wealth re-distribution. This despite the underhanded tactics of a US funded opposition and the opposition from the radical Left.

Here in Montana, trade representatives from Korea and the US arrive next week to continue talks on Kor-US FTA , another trade agreement without protections for workers, the environment or citizen sovereignty. A large Korean alliance against the pact will be here to demonstrate and CAJA and others will join in solidarity. Capital incessantly extends it's reach and expands the enclosure. They want to own it all.


Sunday, November 26, 2006


Mansoor Ossanlou

Re-arrested


This is from my blog team member Maryam Namazie

PRESS RELEASE
19 November 2006

At 8am today (local time), Mansoor Ossanlou, President of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (“Sherkat e Vahed”), was arrested in Tehran.

Ebrahim Madadi, union Vice President who was with Mansoor Ossanlou at the time of the arrest, was reportedly beaten up by the plain clothes’ security forces who carried out the arrest. Ossanlou's whereabouts are as yet unknown.

Mansoor Ossanlou, the head of Tehran’s bus workers’ union, was arrested in December last year, along with many other members and leaders of the union, during the bus workers’ protest. He spent more than seven and a half months in prison for his labour activities, without ever being formally charged. His release on 9th August 2006 came following a long worldwide campaign for his release and in support of the bus workers.

For more information, contact:
International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar (shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com)Public Relations: Bahram Soroush (b.soroush@ukonline.co.uk)
www.kargaran.org www.wpiran.org


Friday, November 24, 2006


Governments Lie


Call me wishy washy about my concern for politics, but considering that my most deeply involved interest in the subject was aroused by 9/11 you can readily call me a naive newbie at the age of 60, especially compared to some of the lifelong activists I have met through this blog. If anything went awry in Washington it meant no more to me than finding a pro football game was fixed. Well, that was just a little over five years ago during which the public creation of atrocities justified by lies to be atoned for by the Bush administration has far outreached the quantity and the heartlessness suspected of them by the 9/11 truth movement. So now, I still couldn’t care less about United States’ sportlike party politics, but I am truly concerned that the depth and breadth of the corruption of our basic system of governance serving the wealthy the people’s earnings, with no concern for their interests.

I feel a bit like I have found a new band that I love who put out a new song every day the way I have become addicted to Democracy Now, as the biggest window on the world from a nation with all the others boarded up, for the “good of the people”. I recommend listening to a talk by Howard Zinn entitled “Uses of History and the War on Terrorism”.

The two points of the many great ones he made that I come to the keyboard to type about are the increasing number of civilian casualties in war (WWi-1 civilian for every 10 military, WWii-50/50, Viet Nam-70%, Iraq-85%, so far) and the other was his quote of I. F. Stone when giving his advice to journalism students, “Just two words, ‘Governments Lie.’” and how the press has forgotten the primary purpose of journalism, becoming the hucksters for the new regime.

He also recalled the tale of an interview with Hermann Goerring while imprisoned awaiting trial in which he was asked how the Nazis ever got the good German people to go along with their coming to such horrific power to go to war. He replied,

“Why of course the people don’t want to go to war.
Why would any poor slob on a farm want to go to war?
It is the leaders who determine policy.
It is very easy to get the people to go along;
just tell them they are being attacked and denounce pacifists for lack of patriotism.
It works in any country!!!

… note he didn’t say any fascist country, he said ANY country.

Noam Chomsky points out that if mea culpa were qualification for 9/11 perpetrators every power system in the world exploited it for its own interests: the Russians in Chechnya, China against the Uighurs, Israel in the occupied territories, states exploited the opportunity to control their own populations more fully through "prevention of terrorism acts"; every power system in the world could be assigned responsibility for 9/11. The US was carrying out far more serious crimes, against Americans as well, before 9/11 -- crimes that literally threaten human survival and they may well resort to further crimes if activists here prefer not to deal with them and to focus their attention on enigma of 9/11.

It matters not whether responsibility for 9/11 or Iraq lies or unspeakable profits by crony reconstructors are the charges they get pinned with so long as the US takes a long hard examination of the relationship of the leaders to the people for and to whom they are responsible. I tell ya, folks, that citizens in solidarity with the indigenous people of America union sounds like just the thing to organize around without the taint of the present government leaders or protocols to interfere with its evolution as a think tank gestating for action.


Tin Post Card

I was given a tin postcard by a dear friend...


Let me do the talking! Serve in silence

Homer Ansley

[between 1941 and 1943]


Initially, I was shocked by it. From the art style, it's a WW II replica. So I looked it up online. Here is what I found on the Library of Congress site:

The "mouth" of the howitzer promises to supply the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan) with all the information they need. Civilians, therefore, do not have to offer any details to strangers - or even friends - about production schedules, shipment plans or other potentially useful "intelligence."

Homer Ansley, the artist, worked for a billboard company early in his career, so he knew how to get the attention of the public. Born in 1895, he studied in San Francisco and later joined the Northern California Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project. This poster, sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, was created for the (FAP).

It looks like nothing has changed with our gunboat diplomacy since the 1940's. This time around we have a of agression with all of the "intelligence" being supplied by the same mouth of the howizer. The Axis powers (Iraq, Iran and North Korea) are being supplied with all the information they need - a big gun in their face. And, civilians do not need to think anymore while Bush and his cronies rob us blind.

Serve in silence.


Food For Thought

For The Mindless Zombies


Bush confesses to war crimes
By Nicolas J S Davies
Online Journal Contributing Writer Sep 11, 2006, 00:31

George W. Bush's speech on September 6 amounted to a public confession to criminal violations of the 1996 War Crimes Act. He implicitly admitted authorizing disappearances, extrajudicial imprisonment, torture, transporting prisoners between countries and denying the International Committee of the Red Cross access to prisoners.

These are all serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. The War Crimes Act makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and all violations of Common Article 3 punishable by fines, imprisonment or, if death results to the victim, the death penalty.

At the same time, Bush asked Congress to amend the War Crimes Act in order to retroactively protect him and other U.S. officials from prosecution for these crimes, and from civil lawsuits arising from them. He justified this on the basis that "our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act . . . , " and insisted that “passing this legislation ought to be the top priority” for Congress between now and the election in November.

His profession of concern for military and intelligence personnel was utterly misleading. Military personnel charged with war crimes have always been, and continue to be, prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice rather than the War Crimes Act; and the likelihood of CIA interrogators being identified and prosecuted under the act is remote -- they are protected by the secrecy that surrounds all CIA operations.

The only real beneficiaries of such amendments to the War Crimes Act would be Bush himself and other civilian officials who have assisted him in these crimes -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, Rice, Cambone, Tenet, Goss, Negroponte and an unfortunately long list of their deputies and advisors.

Bush asked Congress to do three things in these amendments. “First, I am asking Congress to list the specific recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes under the War Crimes Act so our personnel can know clearly what is prohibited in the handling of terrorist enemies.”

One prong of the U.S. government’s attack on the Geneva Conventions has been the assertion that they do not provide a laundry list of what techniques of treatment and interrogation are permitted or prohibited. This is, of course, because the Geneva Conventions instead contain blanket prohibitions on torture, cruelty and humiliation. It has only been the efforts of U.S. officials to encroach on these prohibitions that may have raised doubt among U.S. personnel as to what is and is not permitted.

Captain Ian Fishback, the military interrogator who blew the whistle on Camp Nama (Nasty Assed Military Area) in Iraq, has contrasted his orders in Iraq with the rules he had been taught, "My feelings were that it clearly violated what I had learned as the appropriate way to treat detainees at West Point. . . . You don't force them to give you any information other than name, rank, and serial number. That's the gist of the Geneva Conventions." Captain Fishback’s account of the war crimes he was involved in at Camp Nama is in the latest edition of Esquire magazine.

Bush continued, “Second, I’m asking that Congress make explicit that by following the standards of the Detainee Treatment Act, our personnel are fulfilling America’s obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.”

This is the crucial change that Bush wants in the law. The War Crimes Act currently criminalizes murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture, humiliating and degrading treatment, and arbitrary punishment of prisoners, based on the prohibitions in Common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions. Bush is asking Congress to replace the straightforward prohibitions in Common Article 3 with the provisions of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, which includes extraordinary protections for U.S. officials.

These protections are clearly designed to undermine the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act and even the Nuremberg Principles. Section 1004(a) of the Detainee Treatment Act states that, in the case of “operational practices . . . that were officially authorized and determined to be lawful at the time they were conducted, it shall be a defense that such officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces or other agent did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary good sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful.”

This would shift the legal standard from the clear one defined by the Geneva Conventions and the War Crimes Act as it is presently written to one of who knew what when, requiring courts to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that the perpetrator knew his actions were unlawful. Even if opinions written by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Jack Goldsmith and David Addington were found to have no legal basis at all, they could suffice to cast doubt on Bush and his colleagues’ knowledge of their crimes, which would be crucial under the amended law.

“Third, " Bush said, "I’m asking that Congress make it clear that captured terrorists cannot use the Geneva Conventions as a basis to sue our personnel in courts, in U.S. courts. The men and the women who protect us should not have to fear lawsuits filed by terrorists because they’re doing their jobs.”

This would protect U.S. officials from civil liability for human rights violations. Prisoners released from Guantanamo have already filed such lawsuits against the U.S. government, Bush, Rumsfeld and other officials, which might help to explain why these amendments are Bush’s “top priority.”

The central myth of the War on Terror is that the world faces an unprecedented threat from terrorism that renders obsolete the existing laws of war and international behavior.

Bush framed his justification of torture in a classic use of this mistaken logic: “And in this new war, the most important source of information on where the terrorists are hiding and what they are planning is the terrorists themselves. Captured terrorists have unique knowledge about how terrorist networks operate. They have knowledge of where their operatives are deployed and knowledge about what plots are under way. This is intelligence that cannot be found any other place. And our security depends on getting this kind of information. To win the war on terror, we must be able to detain, question and, when appropriate, prosecute terrorists captured here in America and on the battlefields around the world.”

The context Bush did not provide is that this applies equally to all prisoners of war. Captured soldiers usually do possess information that would be valuable to their captors, and the Geneva Conventions do constrain the ability to extract this information from them, but this is by design. Based on bitter experience, the people and governments of the world have decided that torture is so abhorrent that it must be completely outlawed, even though this results in the loss of information that might save lives or even alert captors to an existential threat to their country.

The purpose of the Hague and Geneva Conventions is to provide all people with certain protections in times of war, to place some limits on the otherwise limitless human suffering that war inflicts. Arguably, governments have agreed to rules of war precisely so that they can continue to wage limited war without plunging their societies into the total chaos that would result from unrestricted use of increasingly destructive modern weapons against entire populations. The Geneva Conventions afford different status to different classes of people, giving rise to different protections for combatants, prisoners of war and civilians. However the notion that certain classes of people fall entirely beyond the protection of these Conventions is not a serious interpretation, unless one is talking of something other than human beings.

For five years, U.S. government officials have justified unlawful actions with political arguments that have no legal merit. Now that the political tide is turning, Bush and his associates are behaving like other war criminals throughout history, marshalling what power they have left to shield themselves from the legitimate consequences of their actions.

Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal"


Thursday, November 23, 2006


Zahra Kamalfar

- Challenges To Her Imminent Deportation To Iran



This is from the blog of my blog's team member Maryam Namazie.

Moments of resistance

Latest Update from Farshad Hoseini, Executive Director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees

Today was a very important day in the life of Zahra Kamalfar and her children who have been languishing in Moscow’s airport for some time now. It was like a hidden war between a mother and her two innocent children on the one hand and the officers and security guards of the airport on the other.

I contacted Zahra every hour. She is disappointed, disturbed and afraid. She asks herself, can anybody really save my life? She tells me she suspects that the authorities are going to do something today; she is under constant surveillance.

I am on the phone with every organisation and personality I can think of – from Geneva, Moscow, to London to demand that they help and intervene.

I will write all I can about her case. I will publish all my conversations with her and all the responses I have received thus far to show the world how humanity has been forgotten.

I have been with Zahra via telephone. She tells me they have picked up their belongings and are ordering her and her children to follow them. She begins resisting. Via telephone I can clearly hear her anger. They try to remove her mobile phone. For a few seconds, I could only hear the voices of the Russian police and Zahra demanding that they return her phone. She says: ‘You have no right to keep my telephone’. I can hear her children crying. I am disconnected.

After 30 minutes I manage to contact Zahra again. It was very near to the time she was to be forcibly placed on an Aeroflot flight to Iran. I find out that that Zahra and her children are surrounded by police and airport guards. My next contact with her is after 15 minutes. Anna, her daughter has drunk shampoo to protest their deportation. I could only hear crying, groaning, and the voices of emergency aid workers. The Aeroflot flight has left without Zahra and her children.

So with this resistance, we have another day to stop their deportation to Iran. Another day to secure their legitimate right to asylum. Tomorrow (Wednesday 22 November) is another important day in the struggle to save Zahra and her children. We have to win.

Don’t wait for a tragic end to this story. We must do some thing to end this drama in their favour.


Poll #8 Comments



Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Saudi Arms Deal

Inquiry Closes In On Secret Papers


David Leigh
Monday November 20, 2006
The Guardian

The Serious Fraud Office is on the brink of obtaining information from Swiss banks which may implicate the Saudi royal family in secret arms-deal commissions of more than £100m, sources close to the attorney general's office confirmed yesterday.

The SFO has been inquiring for three years, in some secrecy, into allegations of systematic corruption in international deals arranged by Britain's biggest arms company, BAE Systems.

But it was only this autumn that the Saudis, along with BAE executives and officials of the MoD's arms sales department, DESO, became aware of how much progress the SFO has made. Sources close to the Swiss say the authorities there notified two middlemen that access to their bank accounts was being sought.

One is believed to be a prominent Lebanese politician, the other a wealthy Syrian. A process of formal appeal by them has been taking place in Geneva. Legal sources said that the Swiss normally grant preliminary access in such criminal cases for accounts to be inspected. This would enable the SFO to trace any payments passed on to accounts belonging to the Saudi royals.

If you're willing to read the rest of the article, you can find it here.

I sometimes feel that Bush is somehow right to point out that Arabs are terrorists. The problem is that he's usually pointing off some 1000 miles NW.


Un Force In Darfur

Is Ruse To Grab Sudan's Oil - Gadaffi



According to Rueters, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi this Sunday accused the "West" of trying to grab Sudan's oil wealth with its plan to send U.N. troops to Darfur and urged Khartoum to reject them.

"Western countries and America are not busying themselves out of sympathy for the Sudanese people or for Africa but for oil and for the return of colonialism to the African continent," he said. The comments by Gadhafi, a mediator in several African wars including Darfur, echo Sudanese government criticisms of a proposed U.N. deployment as a Western attempt at colonization. "Reject any foreign intervention," he told a meeting of Sudanese officials and members of a Darfur rebel faction.

"To be occupied by the Sudanese army is better than to be occupied by U.N. forces, and the biggest disaster is if the Atlantic army came and positioned itself in Sudan," he said, referring to Western troops. The United Nations and the African Union have been pressing Sudan to accept a U.N.-led peacekeeping force in Darfur to halt three years of violence that has killed tens of thousands. Gadhafi was speaking at a ceremony attended by Sudanese government officials and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebels to celebrate their signing in Tripoli on Saturday of an agreement aimed at bringing peace to Darfur. Routinely dismissed by Western commentators, Gadhafi's opinions are listened to in Africa because his advocacy of African unity, funding of African development projects and his oil wealth give Libya influence throughout the continent.

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing Sudan's government of marginalizing the remote west. Khartoum mobilized militias to quell the revolt. Those militias stand accused of atrocities against civilians being investigated by the International Criminal Court. Washington calls the rape, murder and pillage in Darfur genocide, a charge Khartoum rejects. The African Union, which has a force of monitors and troops in Darfur, has failed to protect civilians, citing lack of equipment and a weak mandate.

U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Thursday that Sudan had agreed in principle to a stronger, joint U.N.-AU peace force for Darfur, but Sudanese officials later denied any such agreement. Critics say Khartoum's opposition to a U.N. deployment stems from the government's fear that it would be used to arrest officials who could be indicted for war crimes.

Gadhafi is a longstanding opponent of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which he has dismissed as a dispenser of victors' and colonizers' justice. Gadhafi accused the West of wanting to defeat his plan to construct a single African federal government in a so-called United States of Africa to maintain its economic dominance. "The West exploits tribalism, sectarianism and [skin] color to feed war, which leads to backwardness and Western intervention in a number of countries," he said on Sunday. "All the conflicts in Africa are caused by colonialism, which does not want the rise of the United States of Africa and works for division and interference and for military coups."


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Weird Interview

With Oliver Stone:
"Sorry About Your Country"


Veteran director Oliver Stone talks about Lebanon and his latest film, 'World Trade Center' By Ali Jaafar, special to the Daily Star

LONDON: Midway through an interview about his new film "World Trade Center," Oliver Stone notices the Leb-anon wristband peaking out from under a reporter's shirt cuff, a remnant of this past summer's various charitable drives in London in support of the beleaguered country after 34 days of Israeli bombardment.

"My first wife was Lebanese, you know," Stone says, somewhat unexpectedly.

Did he ever visit Lebanon?

"I went before the war," Stone answers.

Which one?

The veteran director responds with a wry grin.

War has, of course, played a dominant role in Stone's films and "World Trade Center" is no different. This time around, however, he captures the moment before a 21st-century war begins in earnest.

The film follows the real-life story of two New York Port Authority officers who were among the last living survivors to be pulled from the rubble of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. "World Trade Center" concerns the morning before the day after, a time before terror became a way of life, before the term 9/11 symbolized a paradigm shift in global affairs, particularly in the Arab world.

"I think most of the Arab world was with us and they were moderates. I'm not disputing [Osama] bin Laden and Al-Qaeda's reasons, because they're legitimate to them. It's the methods which are disgusting," he says.

"To say it's in the name of God is a distortion of the Bible and Islam. It's a distortion of the basic human goodness. Any culture that is spiritual will tell you that. You don't kill innocent people in the name of your cause," he says. "That's the issue for me. I think most Arab people know it in their hearts, and they condemn it."

The director is probably more aware of the labyrinthine nature of Arab politics than most other Hollywood A-list directors. His 2002 film "Persona Non Grata" attempted to capture Palestinian President Yassir Arafat on film, as part of a supposed trilogy of documentaries on controversial world leaders that would also include "Commandante," about Fidel Castro. "Persona" saw the director venture to Palestine in search of the elusive chairman. Stone's efforts to gain a much sought-after interview with the bestubbled Arafat comically degenerated into little more than a photo op.

In "World Trade Center," the director moves away from the journalistic response to 9/11 and toward a more conventional, Hollywood-style take on the day's cataclysmic events.

A faithful adaptation of the stories of John McCloughlin and Will Jimenez, played respectively by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena, the film eschews the conspiracy theories one would normally associate with an Oliver Stone feature, in favor of a simpler, more human story of life defeating death against the odds. It's a theme Stone returns to when the conversation veers back to Lebanon and the latest, devastating assault by Israel.

"The best shot in Lebanon, I don't know if you saw it, was a newspaper image of the wreckage of the southern suburbs in Beirut and there were these Lebanese jet-setters in a car, driving through it and looking at the ruins while eating ice-cream cones," he remembers.

"Now look at 'World Trade Center,'" he continues. "It's unbelievable that I should make a movie so uncontroversial as this and it still became controversial. You should have seen Germany and Spain. It's insane. It's all politics. But the critics lose sight of the heart. The movie's about heart. It's about people helping each other. It's about lighting a candle in an insane world."

In the United States, "World Trade Center" has garnered Stone some of his warmest reviews - and biggest box office receipts - for years. This despite the protests of liberal European film critics who have looked on in alarm at a perceived rightward shift by one of the left's favorite sons, particularly with regard to the film's depiction of one real-life figure, Marine Dave Karnes. Karnes comes across onscreen as an almost-biblical figure of vengeance who helps find the two officers trapped in twisted steel.

With the film now opening across the Middle East, Stone, a vocal anti-war figure in Hollywood, is keen for Arab audiences to not misinterpret the character.

"If the Middle East can see the film and they cry, that's a good sign for humanity. If man would care about man, that's the important thing," he says.

It's a redemptive conclusion, and typical of the film, but Stone isn't quite finished yet. As he is ushered away to yet another interview, he has time for one last missive.

"Sorry about your country," he says, with genuine regret.

Me, too.

Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" is now playing in theaters throughout Greater Beirut


Friday, November 17, 2006


Wikipedia In China

China has unblocked access to the Chinese version of Wikipedia, the collaborative internet encyclopaedia, after a ban of more than a year. The site's English version was unblocked last month. See the full Al Jazeera article.


Freedom From Us


U.S. Tanks Will Roll out of Iraq on a Road Paved with Excuses
By Robert Fisk

"Great news from America!" the cashier at my local Beirut bookshop shouted at me the other morning, raising her thumbs in the air. "Things will be better after these elections?" Alas, I said. Alas, no. Things are going to get worse in the Middle East even if, in two years' time, the U.S. is blessed with a Democrat (and democratic) president.

For the disastrous philosophers behind the bloodbath in Iraq are now washing their hands of the whole mess and crying "Not Us!" with the same enthusiasm as the Lebanese lady in my book shop, while the "experts" on the mainstream U.S. East Coast press are preparing the ground for our Iraqi retreat -- by blaming it all on those greedy, blood-lusting, anarchic, depraved, uncompromising Iraqis.

Read on...


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Donald Rumsfeld

- The War Crimes Case


by Marjorie Cohn

(MFL Notes: I know several posts have been posted about the US elections results, but this one is special because of the man who orchestrated the tortures of the Iraqis... keep in mind that I do not support the Democrats nor the Republicans)

As the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and were on the verge of taking over the Senate, George W. Bush announced that Donald Rumsfeld was out and Robert Gates was in as Secretary of Defense. When Bush is being run out of town, he knows how to get out in the front of the crowd and make it look like he's leading the parade. The Rumsfeld-Gates swap is a classic example.

The election was a referendum on the war. The dramatic results prove that the overwhelming majority of people in this country don't like the disaster Bush has created in Iraq. So rather than let the airwaves fill up with beaming Democrats and talk of the horrors of Iraq, Bush changed the subject and fired Rumsfeld. Now, when the Democrats begin to investigate what went wrong, Rumsfeld will no longer be the controversial public face of the war.

Rumsfeld had come under fire from many quarters, not the least of which was a gaggle of military officers who had been clamoring for his resignation. Bush said he decided to oust Rumsfeld before Tuesday's voting but lied to reporters so it wouldn't affect the election. Putting aside the incredulity of that claim, Bush likely waited to see if there would be a changing of the legislative guard before giving Rumsfeld his walking papers. If the GOP had retained control of Congress, Bush would probably have retained Rumsfeld. But in hindsight, Bush has to wish he had ejected Rumsfeld before the election to demonstrate a new direction in the Iraq war to angry voters.

Rumsfeld's sin was not in failing to develop a winning strategy for Iraq. There is no winning in Iraq, because we never belonged there in the first place. The war in Iraq is a war of aggression. It violates the United Nations Charter which only permits one country to invade another in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council.

Donald Rumsfeld was one of the primary architects of the Iraq war. On September 15, 2001, in a meeting at Camp David, Rumsfeld suggested an attack on Iraq because he was deeply worried about the availability of "good targets in Afghanistan." Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reported that Rumsfeld articulated his hope to "dissuade" other nations from "asymmetrical challenges" to U.S. power. Rumsfeld's support for a preemptive attack on Iraq "matched with plans for how the world's second largest oil reserve might be divided among the world's contractors made for an irresistible combination," Ron Suskind wrote after interviewing O'Neill.

Rumsfeld defensively sought to decouple oil access from regime change in Iraq when he appeared on CBS News on November 15, 2002. In a Macbeth moment, Rumsfeld proclaimed the United States' beef with Iraq has "nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil." The Secretary doth protest too much.

Prosecuting a war of aggression isn't Rumsfeld's only crime. He also participated in the highest levels of decision-making that allowed the extrajudicial execution of several people. Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which constitutes a war crime. In his book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh described the "unacknowledged" special-access program (SAP) established by a top-secret order Bush signed in late 2001 or early 2002. It authorized the Defense Department to set up a clandestine team of Special Forces operatives to defy international law and snatch, or assassinate, anyone considered a "high-value" Al Qaeda operative, anywhere in the world. Rumsfeld expanded SAP into Iraq in August 2003.

But Rumsfeld's crimes don't end there. He sanctioned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and thus constitute war crimes. Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. According to Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld sanctioned the use of physical coercion and sexual humiliation to extract information from prisoners. Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding, where the interrogator induces the sensation of imminent death by drowning. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture.

Rumsfeld was intimately involved with the interrogation of a Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantánamo in late 2002. General Geoffrey Miller, who later transferred many of his harsh interrogation techniques to Abu Ghaib, supervised the interrogation and gave Rumsfeld weekly updates on his progress. During a six-week period, al-Qahtani was stripped naked, forced to wear women's underwear on his head, denied bathroom access, threatened with dogs, forced to perform tricks while tethered to a dog leash, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Al-Qahtani was kept in solitary confinement for 160 days. For 48 days out of 54, he was interrogated for 18 to 20 hours a day.

Even though Rumsfeld didn't personally carry out the torture and mistreatment of prisoners, he authorized it. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, a commander can be liable for war crimes committed by his inferiors if he knew or should have known they would be committed and did nothing to stop of prevent them. The U.S. War Crimes Act provides for prosecution of a person who commits war crimes and prescribes life imprisonment, or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Although intending to signal a new direction in Iraq with his nomination of Gates to replace Rumsfeld, Bush has no intention of leaving Iraq. He is building huge permanent U.S. military bases there. Gates at the helm of the Defense Department, Bush said, "can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach." Bush hopes he can bring congressional Democrats on board by convincing them he will simply fight a smarter war.

But this war can never get smarter. Nearly 3,000 American soldiers and more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died and tens of thousands have been wounded. Our national debt has skyrocketed with the billions Bush has pumped into the war. Now that there is a new day in Congress, there must be a new push to end the war. That means a demand that Congress cut off its funds.

And the war criminals must be brought to justice - beginning with Donald Rumsfeld. On November 14, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and other organizations will ask the German federal prosecutor to initiate a criminal investigation into the war crimes of Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials. Although Bush has immunized his team from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, they could be tried in any country under the well-established principle of universal jurisdiction.

Donald Rumsfeld may be out of sight, but he will not be out of mind. The chickens have come home to roost.


Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, will be published this spring by PoliPointPress.

Link to original article


Thursday, November 09, 2006


Ship Aground

Now What?


President Bush told reporters Thursday that he respected the results of this week's elections that propelled Democrats to power and said he was "open to any idea or suggestion" that will help the U.S. achieve its goals in Iraq.

Poor President Bush ... You've run the big ship aground with your policy of "hold the course". Now What? Most people familiar with navigation will tell you now is the time to assess the situation. Is any water coming into the hull? Is the ship sinking? Where exactly are you? How did you get there? Where might deeper water lie? What is the state of the tide? Whatever you do, do not immediately shift into reverse and increase engine power in an attempt to back off, you might suck up mud and/or bottom vegetation into the engine intake (watch for any signs of engine overheating), and you might further damage the big ship's propellers and the engines.

The ship is sinking. The Democrats will soon look to impeach you. They have a majority in the house and the senate. Now finally, something can be done about your criminal behavior, Mr. President. I'm sure there are committees forming for a war tribunal for you too. Perhaps jumping into the water without a raft would be a good idea for you. The big sharks already smell the Republican blood bath you took on November 7. Take a hint from Rumsfeld. He's already bailed. Resigning might be the honorable way out of this. We don't need to further damage the hope of Democracy in this country.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Exit Polls

Lean Left?

Last night, while deploying our test network in rural Rhode Island, we were listening to the election results from all sorts of stations across the country on AM radio. Ater 9:00 Eastern time, they all seemed to report some of the exit polls with a disclaimer that "exit polls for the last few elections seem to lean to the left"... "and this "democratic bias" wrongly predicted several elections in the past."

We discussed this a bit. With an exit poll, people vote and then are randomly selected to answer a quick little quiz. If exit polls really leaned to the left, then that must say a bit about people and how they answer polls.

Here are some plausible hypotheses to explain this phenomenon:

1) The Democrats have a tendency to tell the truth when they are polled and the Republicans lie - they say they voted Democrat and really vote Republican.
2) Republicans tell the truth and Democrats lie about voting Republican.
3) Democrats are more likely to answer the poll. Republicans' time is so valuable tha they have no time to answer an exit poll.
4) Republicans rig elections to swing the votes in their direction.

Maybe it's a myth:
Here is something I found this morning:

Spinning the Exit Polls Early

The RNC just sent out detailed talking points about how unreliable exit polls have been over the past several elections. The key arguments are that exits polls typically have a Democratic bias and have wrongly predicted Democratic victories in recent years.

According to a source, the RNC expects leaked exit polls to show Democratic victories and do not want the news to discourage Republican voters from going to the polls late in the day.

I happen to believe it may be a little of all of the above reasons. Mostly, people tell the truth. In Europe, exit polls are used to determine whether an election has been tampered with.

Truly amazing as to how this propaganda machine works, isn't it?

Hitek


Shit Happens

Team members have noted the absence of Yabasta ( = Zatikia), who has been a daily stalwart of this forum since its inception and booster of Further Left efforts from long before. She strained to leave a brief comment two days ago but otherwise has not posted since October 21. She has been severely ill and progress of her recovery is in question. There have been a few brief one or couple line chat room contacts with her that clearly took exceptional effort on her part. Though none were very promising, that she did so spoke of our importance to her. May she similarly know her importance to us. She was in the room today for a longer period and seemed better as she left news she would be undertaking upgraded medical care this evening. She knows that shit happens.

Hitek, another team member, was in the chat room this morning while posting the "The Fully Employed Homeless At Nintendo" article below. He was chatting with us from the far eastern US state of Rhode Island when he received a phone call that his home in the far western state of Washington was flooded. The neighborhood had been evacuated. His kids were supposed to be with someone who didn't answer the phone and his dog was locked in the house. Hitek left us to seek a flight home. Shit happens.

Troutsky posted "Friends in Need" below about a friend in clear danger. He didn't state it, but there was obvious between the line frustration that shit happens.

Another Further Left compadre is, as far as we know, currently suffering to such extent that presenting details would probably have deepening effect. All that can and should be said is our hopes go out to him in surviving the shit that is happening.

A very early post on this forum's creation was a piece of graphic poetry titled "Shit". Its words:
Every molecule of animal and plant,
And every speck of earthly dust,
Has traversed a living body,
At one time or another.

Our world is made of excrement,
And everyone is full of it,
Some waste however,
Is fresher than the rest.

It behooves us to watch where we walk,
Avoiding the course of those,
Who feign being clean and tall and above it all,
While riding the backs of others.
Of course, all who are aware of the specific travails mentioned and others unsaid have let it be known their hearts are centered on hopes and well wishes for those hurting. We do what we can with what we have. One of those is to keep on talking to each other. It is that which brings realization that can drive some of us sometime to do something about the fact that shit happens.

For those prone to seek outside help through prayer, here is a list from which they may pick their poison.
RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD
Taoism: Shit happens.
Hinduism: This shit happened before.
Confucianism: Confucius say "Shit happens".
Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit.
Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Islam: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.
Jehova's Witness: knock, knock, "Shit happens".
Athiesm: There is no shit.
Agnosticism: I don't know whether shit happens.
Protestantism: Shit won't happen if I work harder.
Catholicism: If shit happens, I deserved it.
Judiaism: Why does shit always happen to us?
TV evangelists: Send us more shit.
Jedi Knights: May the shit be with you.
The Mexican response to one for whom shit happens is "Lo siento", which is said in place of the English "I'm sorry". It translates however to an empathetic rather than sympathetic "I feel it." Shit happening to one of us or anyone happens to all of us. Lo siento.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The Fully Employed

Homeless At Nintendo


I belong to a dating site that has quizzes about various things in order to match up their members. When I'm bored, I sometimes take more of the quizzes. This morning I ran into an interesting question about the cause of homelessness. It asked what do you believe the cause of homelessness is? and gave two possible answers a) lazyness and b) incredible odds. I don't think it's lazyness or incredible odds at all. There are many fully employed homeless people. It's not lazyness and it's very common.

The primary causes of homelessness are the lack of affordable housing, the lack of living wage jobs or sufficient income, and the lack of adequate health and supportive services. There are homeless people that live not far from my home that have full time jobs at the Nintendo warehouse in North Bend, WA. They work as warehouse help right along side robots for minimum wage.

But nevertheless, they cannot afford to live near the town they work in. They depend on the food bank for their food. They thrift their clothes. The attached picture is the tent of a homeless woman that works at Nintendo. She does not earn enough money with her full time job to pay for rent, so she lives in a tent not far from my home.

Meanwhile, the company, Nintendo, is making record profits from selling its video games. And some of their workers (who all must pass a drug screening) are homeless. I don't think that corporate goodwill or free market economics has solved (or is going to solve) this problem. Perhaps it's time to raise the minimum wage so people like this woman can have a living wage. Employers should bear more of the burden
of the welfare of their employees. Working full time, she should be able to live in an apartment or small home, clothe and feed herself without subsidy.


Santa Claus

And Coca Cola Consumerism


Who expected that Santa Claus (with the current Red and White clothes) were a Coca Cola design?

MFL


Monday, November 06, 2006


Sputnik Monroe:

Wrestler Who Made A
Difference for Civil Rights




Afro-Americans in Memphis often have three portraits hanging in their homes, Jesus, Martin Luther King and wrestler Sputnik Monroe.

The wrestling legend who was born with the name Rocco Monroe DiGrazio, died on Friday in a Florida nursing home at 78 years old. He had been ill several years, including having half of his lungs removed. His father by blood died in an airplane crash before he was born. His mother remarried, and at 17 years old, he became Rock Monroe Brumbaugh.

His first wrestling name was Pretty Boy Roque, when he started grappling in 1945. His first gimmick was using the name Elvis Rock Monroe. If you say it fast it is Elvis Rock-N-Roll.

Once on the way to a booking, he picked up an Afro-American hitchhiker, and brought him to the arena, where he was wrestling. He was walking arm and arm with him. A racist fan saw that, and called him names. The wrestler kissed the Afro-American hitchiker on the lips. The worse thing she could call him was Sputnik. It was the time the Russians sent Sputnik into space. The promoter kept the Sputnik name, for cold war heat reasons.

It was wrestling in 1957 Memphis, Tennessee where he made history. Until the late 1960s, professional wrestling in the southern USA, was segregated. Afro-Americans only wrestled others. The Afro-American fans sat in the bleachers.

According to National Public Radio "Sputnik wasn't about to change anything about himself but his name. He continued to build friendships within the black community, and soon had a huge following. He was a heel, or a bad guy in wrestling parlance, but to his fans, he was a hero. Walking into the ring at Ellis Auditorium in downtown Memphis, he would be booed by many whites, but as soon as they were finished, Sputnik would turn to the top seats, the segregated top balcony, raise his arms, and bring down a groundswell of cheers. Sputnik wanted more of his fans to get into the auditorum, so he bribed a door attendant to miscount the number of African Americans admitted. Soon, there was no place else to sit but in the white section. Whether fans were black or white, promoters could see nothing but green, and with little fanfare, seating at Ellis Auditorium was integrated. Later, he tag-teamed with an African American, Norvell Austin. Many fans said it was the first time they ever saw a black wrestler in the ring."

His 1959 feud with Billy Wicks, set attendance records in Memphis that were never broken until recently.

His work against segregation was honored by the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum. They have one of his ring outfits on display.

Sputnik was an authentic tough guy who boxed, wrestled in carnivals and in arenas. He had his last match at near 70 years old. He never left an opponent feeling better after a match with him. He made Memphis better.

Addendum: In the 1960s on television was a western called "Bat Masterson", starring Gene Barry. He was a gambler, and outlaw fighter who wore a derby and carried a cane and a Derringer pistol. Sputnik was in attendance, when the actor was doing a personal appearance. The wrestler took the cane, and broke it.

See: Sputnik Monroe on NPR
RENEGADE EYE


Sunday, November 05, 2006


Poll #7 Comments



Two Headed Saw

This post came to me while listening to Roky Erikson's "Two Headed Dog"


The new world order version of democracy needs two parties for the same reason the guy on the corner needs two hands to maneuver three shells over one pea, while we piss away our paychecks betting on which hand is the least evil. Democracy doesn't work when the aim of the government is to obey the majority of the money.

Lobbying against corporation money seems futile until one realizes they're bribing our representatives with money collected from the addicts for their product — our money — from us. Localize our economy and international corporations have to move to the end of the line with hardly a shell to pea in.


Friday, November 03, 2006


Huge Icebergs

Near New Zealand


An armada of about 100 icebergs was just a few hundred kilometers from Southland last night, prompting warnings for shipping and raising the remote prospect of the first iceberg sighting from the mainland in decades.

The surprised Whenuapai-based crew of an Air Force Orion, on a routine southern patrol looking for illegal fishing, spotted the first of the icebergs about 260km south of Invercargill late yesterday morning.

The frigid flotilla was split into two groups of about 50 icebergs. One group stretched about 185km south, and the other was concentrated in a chunky, icy mass about 37km wide.

Air Force spokesman Squadron leader Glenn Davis said the largest iceberg was about 1.8km long, 1.3km wide, and towered about 120m above the choppy waters. Given 90 percent of an iceberg is underwater, that meant the largest was 1.2km high.

The icebergs were north-east of the Auckland Islands and south-east of Stewart Island, and were drifting slowly towards south-east New Zealand, Squadron Leader Davis said.

"It is not unexpected to see icebergs at this time of year, but the crew were slightly surprised to see them where they are now," Squadron Leader Davis said.

And we're still not sure about Global Warming????????

Read the full story here


Friends in Need

My good friend and comrade Scott Nicholson, a fellow director of CAJA, staff member at Montana Human Rights Network and full time human rights activist extradordinaire, has been in Columbia since June. He is working with friends and sister groups in Saravena, in the state of Arauca. Here is the letter I just got:

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Dear friends, The military and police rounded up more than 120 people here in Saravena, Arauca on October 27 and 28. Twenty of those people were taken to Arauca City and charged with “rebellion.” My friend, Eduardo Sogamoso, was detained by the police on October 27 and released later that night on the outskirts of Saravena. The police and army searched the house of my friend, Victor Laguado, on October 28 and sought to arrest him. I learned about the detentions and arrests that evening and flew back here from Bogotá the next day. The prosecutor’s office then searched the offices of the Saravena Community Water Company and the Sarare Cooperative on October 31. Eduardo is the president of the Regional Student and Youth Organization, ASOJER. His partner, Sonia Lopez, works for the Joel Sierra Regional Human Rights Committee and we organized a Northwest speaking tour for her last year. Sonia told me that Eduardo was detained by the police at 8:30 P.M. on October 27 and brought to the police station. When she arrived at the station, she was told that he was being taken to the Saravena military base. Moments later, Eduardo called to tell her that the police had forced him out of the truck near the northwest edge of town. The military base is located in the opposite direction outside the southeast part of Saravena. Sonia told me that if she hadn’t gone to the police station to ask about Eduardo, the police probably would have taken him out of town and he could have been killed. Eduardo has fled from their home and is now in hiding. Victor is a leader of the Sarare Cooperative (Coagrosarare) and a coordinator of the Arauca social organizations. He has also been very active in the campaign against Occidental Petroleum for the social and environmental destruction caused by the corporation in Arauca. Victor’s partner, Martha, was detained by the police in April 2005. Their house was searched that evening and Victor was struck in the face by the police. Victor wasn’t at home when the police and army searched their house again on October 28 and there is an arrest order out for him. The police set up a checkpoint in front of the Saravena Community Water Company, ECAAS, at 8:30 A.M. on October 31. Five agents from the prosecutor’s office then arrived and demanded to speak with my friend, Ariela, who is the director. The search warrant stated that illegal activity was being carried out in the company. I heard about the search and arrived there 15 minutes later. There were four policemen inside the office – all armed with automatic rifles and two wearing bullet proof vests. The agents spent six hours searching the records of the company. ECAAS is a very inspiring water company that is owned and managed by the people of Saravena. It has suffered a lot of repression – three members of the board were killed in 2003, and 12 workers were imprisoned in 2002 and 2003. The same agents then went to the Sarare Cooperative at 4:30 P.M. That search warrant also stated that illegal activity was being carried out in the cooperative. Sonia and I heard about the search and we arrived there 15 minutes later. I took photos of the police in front of the cooperative while one of the policemen filmed me. The agents spent two and a half hours searching the records of the cooperative. The Sarare Cooperative has 43 community stores and seeks to provide basic goods at affordable prices for the peasants of Arauca. We’re discussing the best way for you to respond to this wave of repression in Saravena and we’ll try to send out an action alert soon. In love and solidarity, Scott Community Action for Justice in the Americas

Not that long ago Scott and Sonia and some of my good friends were sharing a meal at my table here in peaceful Montana, now they are under the guns of a repressive regime supported by our government and our US tax dollars. They are oppressed because they dare to try their own cooperative form of development. Indymedia photo-journalist Brad Will was murdered in Mexico and I just sit here helplessly. Should I get on a plane? What can I do? What can WE do?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Uganda

Cigarettes And Mosquitos



17 Sept. 2006

Uganda, Tobacco, Cigarettes and Mosquitos The British American co (BAT) company is opposing an anti-Malaria programme in Africa. After a wait of decades, Uganda could have found a way to defeat the plague of Malaria. But fifty-two companies, lead by BAT oppose the adoption of a programme that drastically reduces this contagion. The motive? It could damage the cultivation of tobacco, putting at risk a business that in Africa amounts to 750 million dollars a year.

The IRS: The question that is dividing even the scientific world, is based on the adoption of ‘Indoor Residual Spraying’, a method that consists of annually spraying inside habitations, a solution which includes a small dose of Ddt – and which frees the inhabitants of the plague of mosquitos. The results of the initiative in the fight against Malaria are impressive: in just one year, in the South African region of Kwazulu-Natal, the programme has reduced the number of cases of Malaria by 80%.

“If it is used in the correct dose, the ‘Indoor Residual Spraying’ programme has demonstrated itself to be tremendously effective in all countries (14 in Africa, editor’s note) where it has been adopted,” confirmed Richard Tren of the Non-governmental organisation ‘Africa Fighting Malaria’ to PeaceReporter. “Its results have been noted since 1944 when it was used for the first time in Naples to defeat an epidemic of Typhoid and so, from this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) is officially recommending its use.”

If the ‘IRS’ should repeat its usual performance also in Uganda, it would resolve the health problems of a country in which the cases of Malaria, according to WHO figures, amount to 12 million a year.

Controindications.

But part of the scientific world is sceptical about the use of Ddt, advised against by the WHO since 1990 until just a few months ago (and by western countries since the ‘70s) because of its possible long-term effects on the health of humans and animals. A scepticism to which BAT has associated itself, joining a cartel of 52 agricultural companies asking for more research and information on the consequences of the spraying programme for agricultural workers.

“We recognise the results obtained by ‘IRS’ all over the world ,” a BAT spokesperson told PeaceReporter, “but we wouldn’t want Ddt to become the panacea for all ills. In particular, it could contaminate the agricultural products that most African families store in their own homes. If these products were to be rejected by the markets ( The USA, European Union and Australia have very strict norms relating to public health – editor’s note) the impact on the Ugandan economy would be devastating.” An impact that would have repercussions on the work force as well, given that BAT employs some 600 thousand people in the country.

Contradictions.

Until now the government has not come out either in favour or against the programme, but it looks like the IRS programme will be carried forward (to the satisfaction of those, like Tren, who for years have fought against one of the most lethal diseases in the world, which kills more than one million people a year (among whom, one child every 30 seconds), if for no other reason than that there is no alternative. The results achieved from other programmes are not even remotely comparable to those obtained thanks to Ddt. BAT has resigned itself to this adoption and its policy, according to a non-governmental organisation operating in the sector, aims at slowing down as much as possible the adoption of the programme. “Since when have tobacco companies which sell products avowedly carcinogenic, worried about people’s health?”

Matteo Fagotto

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