Saturday, March 31, 2007

Poll #13 Results

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sun Tzu On War

Alan Woods On Bush

This is from a recent article in In Defense of Marxism written by the leader of the Marxist Tendency Alan Woods. He compares Sun Tzu's proven writings on war, with George Bush's practice.

On preparation

Sun Tzu says:

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.

The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

The US imperialists, it is true, made many calculations before invading Iraq - but all of them were wrong. The most famous saying of Sun Tzu is:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

When he launched his Iraq adventure George Bush did not understand the mess he was getting into. He did not understand the enemy, nor did he understand the limitations of his own forces and the psychology of his own people. He assumed that the crushing military superiority of his armed forces would be sufficient to ensure a speedy and absolute victory. He assumed that the people of Iraq would greet the US forces as liberators - or, at least would not be able or willing to fight them. And he assumed that the people of the United States would continue to support the war as long as necessary. All these assumptions were false.

It is true that the majority of Iraqis did not like Saddam Hussein. But they like the US occupation forces even less. All the recent opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis think they were better off under Saddam Hussein, and an even bigger majority wants the Americans and their allies to leave. But the Americans are in no hurry to leave.

On the other hand the present occupant of the White House and Commander-in-Chief of the US Army failed to understand the limitation of his own forces. All the technology in the world will not make up for a demoralized army that has lost all confidence in its mission and no longer has the will to fight. The soldiers do not want to go to Iraq, and that is particularly the case with the reservists. The fact that a disproportionate percentage of the US troops in Iraq are poor, black or Latino, adds to the discontent and resentment. This can create an explosive situation in the ranks in the next period.

Last, but by no means least, the US public, which was never very enthusiastic about Bush's Iraq adventure, has turned decisively against the war. They know that they were dragged into the war under false pretences, and every new death of a young American soldier further deepens their animosity to the war and the President who launched it. The demonstrations on the streets of American cities will increase in scope and radicalism. The Republicans face meltdown in the elections. This in turn is causing splits in the ranks of the Republican congressmen and women, who are very attached to their positions on Capitol Hill and all the privileges that go with them. As a result, George W Bush is fast becoming the most unpopular President in American history.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Key Prisoners


Three key prisoners thought to have been abused by Canadian soldiers are handed over to the Afghan government and ooops - disappeared! See this link.

Updated Fri. Mar. 2 2007 10:43 PM ET News Staff

The disappearance of three Afghan detainees -- key prisoners in the investigation into alleged abuse by Canadian soldiers -- has prompted strong criticism over Canada's prisoner handover agreement.

"This is a tremendous failing on the part of the Department of National Defence and I worry about it," Amir Attaran, a law professor from the University of Ottawa, told CTV Newsnet on Friday.

"It's just minimal basic requirement of taking care of any living person that you treat them without any kind of risk of torture, that you shelter them properly and you do not give them to known torturers as the Afghans currently are."

He added, "The Canadian military has created that problem for themselves by not putting adequate thought into how we would handle detainees. It would be negligent to get into the detainee handling business without having facilities to confine the detainees, anymore so that you would have a dog without building a dog house."

This new development, first reported by The Globe and Mail on Friday, represents a serious breach in the prisoner handover agreement between Canadian and Afghan forces, and could hinder the investigation into charges that Canadian soldiers physically abused prisoners before handing them over.

The development may also fuel criticism of the prisoner handover agreement and cast doubt on government assurances that all prisoners are properly treated.

"The Canadian military has a golden reputation in the world because of peace keeping and we deserve that reputation for our country. But as the Americans have showed to us, one or two detainee scandals will destroy the reputation of a country and a military," Attaran said.

Robert Bell, the senior operations manager with the National Investigation Service, told The Globe that investigators are working on the case, but have so far been unable to locate the missing men.

The three prisoners were handed over to Afghan National Police on April 8, 2006, and investigators have been trying to locate them for nearly a month, The Globe reports.

Attaran first raised allegations of abuse in a letter of complaint sent to the Military Police Complaints Commission earlier this year.

The accusations are based on documents that Attaran obtained under the Access to Information Act.

Their disappearance could be due to countless factors, from poor record-keeping to torture or even execution -- a fate that human rights groups say is commonplace in Afghanistan.

The agreement, signed in 2005 by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, stipulates that detainees won't face execution after Canadian troops hand them over. It also requires that "accurate written records accounting for all detainees" be kept by both Canada and Afghanistan.

"The agreement that Gen. Hillier signed with Afghanistan for detainees -- an agreement that is really not being honoured -- does say that the Afghans will keep paper records of the detainees. Clearly, they have not done so, or we would know where these three men are," Attaran said.

But Canada has no power to follow up and ensure those provisions are followed once the prisoners have been handed over. Other forces, such as the Dutch, British and Danish, have such stipulations written into their handover agreements.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor has said the agreement is adequate because it sets out that the International Committee of the Red Cross is responsible for the treatment and tracking of the prisoners.

However, the newspaper reports that the agreement doesn't actually require the Red Cross to report to Canada if prisoners aren't being treated properly.

The NIS is performing a criminal investigation into the abuse allegations against Canadian troops, while Hillier has ordered a board of inquiry to examine detainee handling and treatment.

Two "public interest" probes have also been launched by the Military Police Complaints Commission. One looks at the allegations of abuse against the three missing men, the other looks at whether the handover agreement violates international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The position of Canada and the U.S. is that prisoners captured in Afghanistan don't fall under the Geneva Convention because they do not fight for a recognized state or wear a uniform. But O'Connor has said that although they don't have official prisoner of war status, they are still entitled to humane treatment.

Amnesty International has launched a court challenge of that position, said Michael Lynk, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Western Ontario.

"The argument, which I think is sound, is that our Charter of Rights follows Canadian troops wherever they may be in the world, and our turning over of Afghan detainees to the Afghan authorities without any kind of appeal process built in for their protection, and turning over to an authority that is likely to torture ... that these violate rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to torture and other countries," Lynk told CTV Newsnet.

The lawsuit, Lynk said, will attempt to determine Canada's obligations towards Afghan detainees under its Geneva Convention responsibilities. Canada signed on to the Geneva Convention in 1949.

Hurry to 'The End'

For The End Is Nigh

Asia Times article by Jim Lobe:

WASHINGTON - Accounts of a February 28 "literary luncheon" at the White House suggest that US President George W Bush's reading tastes - until now a remarkably good predictor of his policy views - are moving ever rightward, even apocalyptic, despite his administration's recent suggestions that it is more disposed to engage Washington's foes, even in the Middle East.

For the rest of the article and a good laugh, Click here.

Now before I go back to my favourite Axis of Evil pass-time of scheming and ploting against the great Bushmerican Democracy, maybe I should point a few thoughts that occured to me while reading this.

1. Bush seems more biblophobe than biblophile.

2. If these books are good literature, I don't even want to imagine bad literature.

3. Only a tyrant preaches so feverishly about "liberty" and "democracy".

4. Once a nation of cuthroat owtlaws, always a nation of cuthroat outlaws.

5. The worst Wahhabi zealot sounds naivly innocent compared with the "Christian" authors. But, then again, take point 3 and replace "tyrant" with "fanatic", and you'll get my drift.

6. There was once an Arab dictator who liked to imitate Jamal Abdul Nasser. He was hanged on New Year's Eve.

7. Hearing God's voice, O, Pure Bush of all Righteous, is one of two: heresy or schizofrenia. Or both.


Secret Prisons

Secret Prisoners

Imagine a government that "disappears" people on a whim. Once you are held in custody, you really wish you were in a bathtub full of ice with a tube in your back and the proverbial cellphone with the note so you can find out you are missing a kidney. No, you are held in a straight jacket in a tiny cell with no windows, no phone calls. Your location and identity is kept secret. You have no rights to challenge your illegal incarceration, no due process, but instead get tortured until you confess to anything they want. Just think of it - Free dental visits, free proctology, free electrolosis... This same country - the beacon of "Liberty and Justice for All" wishes to spread Democracy the world over. Yes, sadly, this is my country, the US, that does this.

Fate of many CIA 'ghost prisoners' is still unknown.

By Eli Clifton
Updated Mar 16, 2007, 02:12 am

* Amnesty: Guantanamo 'the gulag of our time' (FCN, 06-08-2005)
* Farrakhan calls for delegation to be sent to Guantanamo (FCN, 05-25-2005)
* Pentagon’s Guantanamo tribunals are ruled illegal (FCN, 02-17-2005)

In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by US military officials, US Navy personnel keep guard within the fenced grounds of Camp Delta 4 military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. President George W. Bush on Wednesday Sept. 6, acknowledged the existence of CIA prisons around the world, and said 14 high-value terrorism suspects, including the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, have been transferred from this system to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay for eventual trials. Photo: AP/World Wide Photos
WASHINGTON, (IPS/GIN) - The U.S. government should account for all “ghost prisoners” detained by the Central Intelligence Agency in secret prisons around the world, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urges.

An HRW report, “Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention,” contains detailed descriptions from a Palestinian detainee of his experience in one of these secret prisons before his release last year.

On Sep. 6, 2006, President George W. Bush said that all CIA prisoners have either been released or sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but HRW claims that many other prisoners were simply “disappeared” by the CIA.

“The question is: what happened to these people and where are they now?” said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at HRW, in a statement.

Marwan Jabour, the former CIA detainee, says that a number of these “disappeared” individuals are still in CIA prisons and that he personally saw one of them, Algerian terrorism suspect Yassir al-Jazeeri, in July 2006 in custody.

The location of the missing detainees is unknown, but one possibility is that they have been moved from CIA “black sites”, U.S. prisons rumored to exist in Thailand, Afghanistan, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, and Bulgaria, to foreign prisons where they remain under CIA control, and face torture at the hands of U.S. or local interrogators.

In May 2004, Marwan Jabour was arrested by Pakistani authorities and held for more than a month at a “black site” in Islamabad, staffed by both U.S. and Pakistani personnel, during which time he says he was badly tortured.

In June, he was taken to a secret prison, believed to have been in Afghanistan, where the personnel were nearly all U.S. nationals.

Upon arrival at the secret prison, he says he was left completely naked for a month and a half, during which time he was questioned by female interrogators and filmed.

He was chained to the wall of his cell so he could not stand up, placed in stress positions so that he had difficulty breathing and told that if he did not cooperate he would be put in a suffocating “dog box.”

Mr. Jabour says he worried incessantly about his wife and three young daughters, but was not allowed to send a letter to reassure them he was alive during his more than two years spent in a windowless cell.

“It was a grave,” Mr. Jabour told HRW, “I felt like my life was over.”

The report not only calls attention to the trauma experienced by the detainees, but also addresses the hardships and confusion faced by the families of detainees whose husbands, fathers and sons have “disappeared.”

HRW offers recommendations for how the U.S. and foreign governments should confront the rights failures posed by the CIA rendition of terrorism suspects.

It urges the U.S. to repudiate the use of secret detention and coercive interrogation as counterterrorism tactics and permanently discontinue the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, and to disclose the identities, fate and whereabouts of all detainees previously held at the facilities operated or controlled by the CIA since 2001.

Other governments should refuse to assist or cooperate in any way with CIA detention, interrogation and rendition operations, and disclose any information that they have about such operations, HRW says.

The release of the report was accompanied by a letter to Pres. Bush, expressing the group’s concern over the use of secret prisons to hold people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

“By holding such people in unacknowledged, incommunicado detention, the United States violated fundamental human rights norms, in particular, the prohibition on enforced disappearance,” the letter states.

Although 14 CIA detained terrorism suspects were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, after Pres. Bush acknowledged the transfer and said there were no more secret CIA prisoners, the former director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, publicly acknowledged there were three dozen people in detention in April 2006, three months before Pres. Bush’s announcement.

HRW does not believe satisfactory information has been released about every person detained since 2001 in CIA prisons, states the letter.

The message to Pres. Bush concludes with a list of 16 people believed to have once been held at CIA prisons and whose current whereabouts are unknown and a separate list of 22 people who were possibly once held in CIA prisons and whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament released a report accusing Britain, Germany, Italy and other European nations of tolerating CIA flights transporting terrorism suspects to secret prisons, a practice known as “extraordinary rendition,” in an apparent breach of EU human rights standards.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Si Simón

No Washington
Vaya Hugo
Vete Dumbo

Here is the full translated text of the speech that Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, gave in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday 9 March during the comically cynical visit to the region of USA's president, George Bush. Ponder the contrasts not only between Bush and Chávez but also George Washington and Simón Bolivar, and then extrapolate those to their respective peoples. There is insight into what was, what is, and, hopefully, what may yet be with a little help from our friends.

On the other side of the river, that is where that little gentleman of the North must be. Let's give him a big boo! Gringo, go home!

I am convinced that our friends in Brasilia and in Montevideo are not going to feel offended, because we would not want to hurt any of our brethren from Uruguay or Brazil. We recognize their sovereignty. We recognize that those governments have the sovereign right to invite the little gentleman of the North, if they so choose.

But Kirchner and I don't need to plan anything to sabotage this visit, because we are witnessing the true political cadaver. The President of the United States is a political cadaver. He doesn't even smell of sulfur anymore. He doesn't even smell of sulfur or brimstone, if you will. No longer. What you smell from him now is the stench of political death. And not long from now, he will turn to dust and disappear. So we don't need to put forth any effort to sabotage the visit of the President of the United States to some countries, sisters countries of Central and South America, of course. We don't need to do that. It's a simple coincidence, the visit of Nestor to Venezuela and our visit here to Buenos Aires.

Well, we nevertheless need to thank that little gentleman that's visiting us, because if he were not here in South America, perhaps this event would not be so well-attended. We have organized this event to say no to the presence of the chief of the empire here in the heroic lands of South America.

The imperial little gentleman that's visiting Latin America today said about seventy-two or forty-eight hours ago in one of his speeches, when he was announcing that he was leaving for Latin America, he compared Simon Bolivar to George Washington. In fact, he even said the ridiculous thing -- and I can't say it's hypocrisy, because it is simply ridiculous, the most ridiculous thing he could say. He said, today we are all children of Washington and Bolivar. That is, he thinks that he is a son of Bolivar. What he is is a son of a -- but I can't say that word here.

So he has said -- he has said -- and you should listen to what he said here -- he said that now is the time to finish the revolution that Washington and Bolivar commenced . How's that for heresy? That is heresy and ignorance, because we have to remember -- and I say this with all due respect to George Washington, who is historically one of the founding fathers of that country -- but we must also remember the differences and how different George Washington and Simon Bolivar were, are and will always be.

George Washington won a war to gain the independence of the North American economic elite from the English empire, and when Washington died, or, rather, after his independence and after having been the president of the United States, after ordering the massacre of the indigenous peoples of North America, after defending slavery, he ended up being a very rich owner of slaves and of a plantation. He was a great landowner. That was George Washington.

Simon Bolivar, however, was born with a silver spoon, and at eight years old his parents died and he inherited a large fortune, together with his brothers, and he inherited haciendas and slaves. Simon Bolivar, when history led him -- and as Karl Marx said, men can make history, but only as far as history allows us to do so -- when history took Bolivar and made him the leader of the independence process in Venezuela, he made that process revolutionary. Simon Bolivar turned over all of his land. He freed all of his slaves, and he turned them into soldiers, and he brought them here. He brought them to Peru and Carabobo, and he worked together with the troops of San Martin to liberate this continent. That is Simon Bolivar.

And Simon Bolivar, having been born with that silver spoon in his mouth, when he died on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, when he died on December 17 in 1830, he was dressed with a shirt of someone else, because he had no clothes. Simon Bolivar is the leader of the revolution of this land. He is the leader of the social revolution, the people's revolution, the historical revolution. George Washington has nothing -- nothing -- to do with this history.

It was in 1823 that James Monroe said, "America for the Americans." And when I say this tonight, I say it because I want to remind you, my brothers of Argentina, of Venezuela and of America, that the presence of the President of the United States in South America represents all of that. He represents that Monroe Doctrine of America for the Americans. Well, we will have to tell him: North America for the North Americans and South America for the South Americans. This is our America.

The President of the United States, that political cadaver -- and when I say political cadaver, he would like to see me as a real cadaver -- I want him to be a political cadaver, and he already is a political cadaver. The President of the United States has the lowest level of credibility and acceptance from his own people. He is the current president of the United States.

It would appear that he doesn't even dare mention my name, because he was asked in Brasilia today in a press conference -- I saw it, I watched it at the hotel -- and the journalist asked him, "It is said that you are here to stop Chavez's movement in South America." And it looked like he almost had a heart attack when he heard "Chavez," because he actually stuttered a couple of times, and he actually changed the subject. He didn't answer the question. He didn't answer the question at all. So he doesn't even dare.

And I definitely dare to say his name. The President of the United States of North America, George W. Bush, the little gentleman of the North, the political cadaver that is visiting South America, that little gentleman is the president of all the history of the United States, and in the history of the United States, he has the lowest level of approval in his own country. And if we add that to the level of approval that he has in the world, I would think he's in the red now -- negative numbers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Black Site Closes

Applying pressure in the right places does work. It just takes a bit of time. It looks like one of the many black sites has closed its doors. Read this Reuters article by Suleiman al-Khalidi.

AMMAN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday ordered the closure of the country's most notorious prison, officials said, following mounting pressure on the kingdom to improve its human rights record.

The monarch ordered the move after he met with the board of the quasi-governmental National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) that monitors abuses in the country's overcrowded prisons, where over 6,000 common criminals and political prisoners are held.

"I have given my instructions to close Jafr prison," the monarch said, addressing the NCHR board members and top police officers.

Officials said the 190 inmates at Jafr, where some of the top dissidents have been held, would immediately be moved to other prisons.

Jafr prison, opened in 1953 and notorious for holding Jordan's leading political dissidents, is located in the desert nearly 256 km (159 miles) south of the capital Amman.

Human rights activists say Jafr has long been a symbol of "oppression" at the heart of allegations of abuse of political prisoners, including long periods of solitary confinement.

Three Islamist deputies arrested in June after they paid condolences to the family of slain Al Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and charged with stirring national tensions were the last high profile inmates at the prison.

Prisons in Jordan have seen a number of protests and riots by top security inmates against poor conditions and complaints of ill treatment over the past two years.

Police chief Mohammad Itan said that authorities planned to spend more than $30 million to ease overcrowding in the country's ten penitentiaries.

International human rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have recently stepped up accusations of torture and beatings inside Jordan's prisons.

They argue that holding inmates for long periods without outside contact, trials or charges paves the way to abuses. Jordan says there are no systematic abuses.

The NCHR caused an outcry with its first report on the state of Jordanian prisons two years ago when it reported widespread prisoner abuses and said wardens had beaten an Islamist inmate to death.

NCHR's chief Ahmad Obeidat, a former intelligence chief, told Reuters that although there was a drop in prisoner accusations of "inhumane behaviour and torture" there was a need for an overhaul of prisons administration to end abuses.

Since Jordan says there are no systematic abuses, I wonder why they would suddenly want to close the place. One down, many more to go.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nuclear Hunt

The search is on for weapons of mass destruction, but are the hunters on the right track? Shujaat's view is given here and highlights the great hunt for weapons of mass deception.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Who Are We?

Here are the results of our first 12 Forum polls. We began running them in mid August 2006. Each was open for voting for a few weeks. Voters had one chance on each. Current results could not be viewed before first voting. There was neither noting nor recording who voted which way.

We boast connections from most of the world. The team is well dispersed throughout it. They are cognizant of situations and causes and biased in attitude toward our purpose. The polls were open, however, not only to the Forum team but also to anyone connecting.

About 40% of Forum connections originate in the US, a nation whose computer users in general are hardly noted for geo-political savvy. Many of those make first contact through search engines queries on content phrases rather than specifically seeking us out for our slant.

Still, even with those, choosing to cast a poll vote indicates interest in its content whether or not it might coincide with views of the team. With those factors in mind, and taken together, the polls present a good representation of where the Forum's collective "head" is at.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.
One wolf is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority,and ego. The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

More Bombs

For "Peace"

Last Friday, the Department of Energy announced that it will be developing a new hydrogen bomb according to this Common Dreams article. Analysts fear that this action could spur a new round of an arms race. Noting that Bush's request for the new weapons is almost five times greater than the amount he asked for last year, experts at the Center say costs are likely to go much higher as the new weapons program moves into the production phase between 2009 and 2012. Last Friday the Los Angeles Times reported that over the next two decades the cost of developing the new bomb might grow into the tens of billions of dollars.

Nuclear weapons certainly won't help us with the war on terror, so are we planning on another cold war? with China? You have to wonder if all of this is worth denying education, healthcare and food to millions of people.

Cheney Authorized

The Leak

Since it was reported that Dick Cheney authorized the Plame leak and Scooter Libby has been found guilty on four out of five counts, will the investigation/impeachment continue in that direction? I know that Nancy Pelosi wanted to give the Republican criminals immunity by not impeaching. Frankly, this mess needs to get cleaned out or we'll find another party or two to run this government. Time to impeach Cheney.

The motive? Revenge. Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame uncovered a false flag operation that used forged documents to show that Saddam Hussein supposedly had bought yellowcake from Niger. Would you really get a receipt for clandestine materials? I sure don't believe it. This is like saying a drug dealer got a receipt for the materials needed to make meth in his lab. Right.

All this false evidence was all planned even before 9/11 to provoke a war with Iraq. And, all this so that the "war president" could show off to daddy that he could get the job done in Iraq. We are still killing hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq to satisfy one man's ego - George W. Bush.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Activism, Radicalism

And Their Threat To Liberals

Great read on Activism and Risk - Life beyond altruism, from the activist teacher.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Free Kareem Now

22 year old Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Nabil Soleiman has been imprisoned for four years for insulting Islam and the president. Islamists think this is too lenient and of course want him dead.

Join the campaign to free him, and sign the petition here

Charlie Chaplin

Speech On Marxism

Listen carefully to Chaplin's Marxist Speech... he covers everything in that speech, a crash course of Marxist Speech, it is found here: U Tube link

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