Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tigris Disneyland

By Felicity Arbuthnot

Iraq, before the holocaustal thirteen year embargo, the 2003 illegal invasion and subsequent countrywide massacre and reign of terror over its population - not by a 'few bad apples’ of the US and British army, but by an entire infested, diseased orchard – was, according to United Nations indices, a largely developed country.

Having nationalised its oil, revenues were utilised for modernising infrastructure, health, education (the latter two of high standard and free.) All now lie in ruins, the might of the two 'most professional armies in the world’, apparently able only to blow up bridges, not build them, orphan not heal, bereave, destroy and devastate, poison and pollute.

Iraq now lies at the bottom in every aspect of UN indices, its sick untreated, its children uneducated, the 'cradle of civilisation’ victim of a scorched earth policy – from its agriculture, date and citrus groves to its archeological wonders. The orphans, traumatised, displaced, widowed, mutilated, beheaded, fleeing, stateless, dead, in just five years, equal history’s most chilling infamies.

From 1st June, add starvation. The food rations, already cut to the barest minimum, of woeful quality, beset by (US overseen) governmental corruption, but on which much of the population exists, are to be abolished.

Additionally, in the nightmare scenario of everyday life in the democratic freedom of occupied Iraq, is a vast unknown: the number of amputees and limbless, those liberated from arms legs or both, by the ongoing orgial use of an eye watering array of weapons, including, allegedly, cluster bombs, from 1991 onwards. Hellfire and Maverick missiles, guided Bomb Units (GBUs) Hydra-7- rockets, cannon rounds ('in a single operation on 28th January 2007, US F16s and A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft dropped more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions but also fired 1,200 rounds of 2mm and 1,100 rounds of 30mm cannon fire, in a five square mile area near the southern (holy) city of Najav.’ (See Nick Turse’s meticulous: 'Did the US lie about cluster bomb use in Iraq?’ 8th July 2007)

But in the true tradition of 'only in America’ fantasies, the US has a make believe answer. Not refurbished hospitals and schools, not clean water coming out of dysentery, typhoid and cholera inducing taps, not welcoming and healing orphanages for the estimated 4.5 million traumatised orphans they have created, not centres for and training of staff and technicians to provide prosthetic limbs for maimed children and adults. Baghdad instead, is to have a Disneyland theme park (on appropriated land.)

'Iraq’s daily realities of death, destruction and torture are replaced by fantasies made in America.

'The imagery and motion simulations intended for Iraqi children are to provide a "human face" to the American invaders’ and breaking down the reality between '.. reality and dreams. The objective is to replace reality with a dream world.’ (For full details of this obscenity see: 'War Propaganda: Disneyland goes to war torn Iraq', by Michel Chossudovsky)

A constant refrain during the embargo years, in media parroting Washington and Whitehall’s propaganda, was that the ever busy Iraqi President, when not personally making fairy story weapons of mass destruction, or throwing babies on bonfires, or putting fellow citizens through shredding machines (that one courtesy of the reality-challenged Ann Clwyd, M.P.,) was that he was 'building palaces whilst his people starve.’ Culturally, it is incumbent upon leaders to leave behind something more magnificent than their predecessor and in dark times, they also provided work to a swathe of the population, as did maintenance, care of and repair to historic sites, of whose responsibility for and guardianship Iraqis are acutely aware.

That these great state buildings (and archeological wonders) are now illegally squatted, by illegal invaders (in contravention of yet another swathe of international law) seemingly does not strike lawmakers by the Potomac or the Thames as either ironic or criminally outside the law’s provisions.

But now a land grab is about to take place comparable to the 'purchase’ of Manhattan Island from the Lenapes Indians for $24 worth of beads and trinkets in 1626, the 'best real estate deal in history.’

In an 'agreement’ with the 'Mayor’ of Baghdad, the fifty acre Zawra Park is to be developed into a trashy Disneyland by the Tigris, complete with malls, hotels, housing, amusements, entertainment and a museum. Iraq’s National Museum with its millennias of treasures and the National Library’s irreplaceable ancient volumes and manuscripts were looted and destroyed under US watch in 2003. A replacement by a Disneyland version is a concept devised by the seriously psychologically challenged.

A skateboard park will introduce the residents of a city thought to have been first settled eight thousand years before Christ, to the culture of inner city USA. Announcing his plans in Baghdad, financier Llewellyn Werner stated: 'I’m not here because I think you are nice people. I think there is money to be made here … I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t making money.’

Speculating as to what the 'agreement’ with the 'Mayor’ might have been, might stray in to libel land. Zawra Park, however, has a special place in the heart of Baghdadis. Its great zoo, summer theatre, children’s game area, fountains, lakes, coffee shops, restaurant, sculptures, monuments, and Olympic swimming pool, became somewhat run down during the embargo, but nothing could take from its great, expanses of lushness, its acres of ancient palms, royal indeed, stretching skyward. Wonders in which generations of children, become adult, become mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother … had played and revisited throughout their lifetime. Will Mr Werner and his RSE developers call in General Petraeus’s boys with chain saws to destroy groves which have witnessed hundreds of years of Mesopotamia’s history, to make way for make believe tack? General Petraeus is a 'big supporter’ of the project. And destruction is his business.

The zoo in Zawra Park became one of the poignant symbols of the embargo years. With every kind of diagnostic aid and treatment vetoed for patients, by the UN, the needs of the zoo animals came low down the priority list. But Dr Adil Salman Musa, zoo Director, loved them all. He tried to create better conditions for the great brown bear, whose mate had died for lack of treatment. Year after year, the bear lay, seldom moving, except to occasionally roll in her great pool of filthy water, repairs for pipes, impossible. She was clinically depressed said Musa.

The lion too had lost his mate and his roars of grief rang across the great Park, from within his spacious den. He refused to come out roam between the sun dappled, abundant greenery of his territory.

Musa communicated with colleagues across the world for help with his animals and birds, the swinging, chattering monkeys, the array of vibrant coloured rare birds. But like the people, they were trapped by the embargo’s all pervasive, silent decimation.

As parents took their children to the orphanages, unable to afford to feed them, promising to collect them when the embargo was over, families also took their domestic pets to the zoo, vowing the same. Dogs and cats looked wistfully through the bars and canaries in every paint box hue, perched on their indoor trees, tweeted and soared. Iraqis have a passion for birds.

Dr Musa too dreamed of the embargo’s end, always planning for what it would bring to his zoo, his improvements, and work with rare and endangered species again with breeding programmes to swell their numbers.

When one of the three remaining Bengal tigers, Mendouh, became ill, Dr Musa somehow acquired enough vital antibiotics to inject her. But there were no anesthetic darts available. 'I held her tail, while the vet gave her the injection’, he said, adding: 'This is a very dangerous practice.’ He risked much for his beloved animals.

On 17th September 2003, six months into the occupation, American soldiers had a drunken party in the park. One tried to feed the Mendouh through the bars. Predictably, she bit him. The soldier shot her.

And what has happened to the lynx? On one visit, rounding a corner, I came on a surreal sight : a lynx, in a miniature carved palace, carpeted, with adequate food, looking, I thought, distinctly smug. Noting the plaque above the spacious area, the penny dropped. The lynx was a gift to the zoo, on a recent anniversary, from Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday.

'What happens if the lynx dies?’ I asked. The young zoologist walking with me looked over his shoulder, then whispered: 'Madam Felicity, we all run a very, very long way.’ I have written of Zawra Park before and its resonance for Baghdadis, the sad, the surreal, the peace and laughter of days spent there.

On 9th May, Dick Cheney, on the Paul Gallow Show in Mississippi, told Americans that the proposed development was a sign that things in Iraq were 'going swimmingly.’ The Pentagon is fast tracking this development as a centrepiece for the new Baghdad in the new Iraq. Legalities, as ever, have not appeared on the agenda. Pentagon backed purloining of a vast swathe of municipal reality with the collusion of the occupying forces is yet another shocking grand theft.

But a word of warning. The Islamic fundamentalists who the invaders brought in with them, who behead women for wearing make up or western clothes - or just not covering from head to toe - and abhor theatre, art, dance, entertainment, music, alcohol, will not take kindly to this project. Contractors should have up to date life in insurance. A lot of heads will roll between conception and possible completion.

And about those 200,000 free skateboards, the Baltimore Project which provides prosthetic limbs to Iraqi children, wrote, in July 1996, of just one child’s transformed life:

’Not only can he now ride a bicycle like other boys his age, but more importantly he can go to school. There are no wheelchair ramps in Iraq, no buses equipped with lifts, no way to ease a child back into the world after amputation.’

The obscenity of this project - before limbs, wheelchairs, clean water, hospitals, schools, sufficient food, decontaminating the radioactive waste from weapons designated three times by the United Nations, as weapons of mass destruction which litters the country and the region from US and UK weapons - beggars belief. When Medical Aid for Iraqi children sent children's wheel chairs after the invasion, the US Army disappeared them. But with countless hundreds of thousands of legless, limbless children, throughout Iraq, resultant from their actions, not medical help, but free skateboards can be funded.

Oh, and where do you put your elbow pads, when you have no elbows?

Battery Park in Manhattan is named after the British battery stationed there, its monument marking the monumental disgrace upon which New York City was founded. Hard to know what to call the modern day equivalent, perhaps the 'Grand Theft Experience Park.’ Suggestions welcome.

A "Fanatic" Iraqi...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues

May 27, 2008

The other day, someone said to me "You know something - you really are a fanatic Iraqi"...hoping that he would hurt my feelings.

Tell you what, I walked away feeling 10 inches taller.

Of course I am a fanatical Iraqi. My country has been agonizing for 18 years to the total indifference of the world. My country is totally defaced, turned into a hideous monster. My country is totally destroyed, totally destroyed...

From the sanction years and its utter misery and struggles to the present occupation by a so-called "great democracy". An occupation by the mightiest military power on earth, and again to the total indifference of the world.

Millions dead, millions exiled, millions orphaned, millions widowed, millions maimed for life and you don't want me to become a "fanatic" Iraqi ? Ha!

If need be, I will invent fanaticism all over again. I will re-define it for you - my Iraqi version. I will reconstruct the concept and give you a whole new perspective on what fanaticism is. Sure I am a "fanatic" about Iraq.

Some of you people brush off this occupation and remind yourself and me of Vietnam. Crap, pure crap. Vietnam is nothing compared to this. Vietnam took place in a bi-polar world.

Others liken it to the Israeli occupation. Again, we witnessed in 5 years what the Palestinians witnessed in 60. We are actually competing with the Palestinians as to the amount of dead and refugees this occupation manages to produce. And we are competing with the walls too. Who's got more walls and more ghettos.
But at least the EU and a few NGO's visit occupied Palestine and conduct enquiries into human rights violations...or try to. In Iraq no one visits us.

A "fanatic" - Yes I am. A terrible, horrible "fanatic."

When one is abandoned the way we have been. When one has been forgotten the way we have been. When we have been shelved on the side, so as not to ruffle your sensitivities and your political correctness, yes we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When for 18 years, we've done nothing but pick up pieces and hang in there, when for 18 years your bombs and your silence has overpowered our cries, yes we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When our libraries, universities, schools, books...have been burnt to ashes and our kids have forgotten how to read and write, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When our brains are murdered one by one - from our academics, to our scientists, to our artists and singers and we learn that you keep our brains in jars as war trophies, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When our riches are plundered, our homes in ruins, our museums looted, our ancient tablets trampled on and smashed, our history erased and falsified, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When our hospitals are in total shambles, when we knock on doors and can't find work, when we have to beg for an entry visa or a residence permit, when we are shunned, ridiculed, considered a burden, pushed away, humiliated, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When we see our elders begging in streets, our women with no food, our men tortured, our daughters turned to prostitutes and our children trafficked and sold, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When we can't even visit our loved ones either in cemeteries or in prisons, cemeteries and prisons - so packed, so filled, so anonymous, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When our fields have been deserted, a barren land or turned into poppy fields into poppy fields with Iranian seeds. When our rivers are drying up and our trees chopped off, dead. When our sky is reeking with radiation and the air we breath is riddled with uranium, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

When we see you cheering every single "resistance" in the world, but ours, ours - made of resisting bodies and souls, forged by the fire of your weapons.
When we hear your heated debates and revolutionary hot zeal and feel your ice, cold winds blowing our way, we become "fanatic" Iraqis.

And when you finally hand us, on a golden platter, to the most backward, racist, chauvinist, whore around - remaining a "fanatic" Iraqi, becomes an obligation, a duty, a must.

A "fanatic" Iraq is what I am. You can consider my being a "fanatic" Iraqi -- as my flag, my book, my song and my seal.

A "fanatic" Iraqi is what we've got left when everything else has been forcefully ripped away from us, when everything else has gone and vanished...and no one, absolutely no one, will be able to take that away...from us, from me.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Qais Al-Sindi, 2007.

Another Invasion

Some US farms outsourced to Mexico

Taken from the article below:
Not everyone in Mexico has welcomed U.S. companies. Mexican farmers
complain that they have driven up land rental prices. Many local
growers worry they can't compete against big, foreign firms, said
Felipe Sanchez, president of a farmers group in Guanajuato state.

"How can a ranch that farms 70 acres compete with a company that
came to farm 10,000 acres?" Sanchez said. "We'll become laborers on
our own ranches."

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax

Associated Press Writer / May 27, 2008
IRAPUATO, Mexico—Antonio Martinez used to pay smugglers thousands of dollars each year to sneak him into the United States to manage farm
crews. Now, the work comes to him.

more stories like thisSupervising lettuce pickers in central Mexico,
Martinez earns just half of the $1,100 a week he made in the U.S.
But the job has its advantages, including working without fear of
immigration raids.

Martinez, now a legal employee of U.S.-owned VegPacker de Mexico, is
exactly the kind of worker more American farm companies are seeking.
Many have moved their fields to Mexico, where they can find
qualified people, often with U.S. experience, who can't be deported.

"Because I never moved my family to the U.S., I was always alone
there," said Martinez, 45, who could never get a work permit, even
after 16 years in agriculture in California and Arizona. "When I got
the opportunity to be close to my family, doing similar work, I
didn't even have to think about it."

American companies now farm more than 45,000 acres of land in three
Mexican states, employing about 11,000 people, a 2007 survey by the
U.S. farm group Western Growers shows.

There were no earlier studies to document how much the acreage has
grown. But U.S. direct investment in Mexican agriculture, which
includes both American companies moving their operations to Mexico
and setting up Mexican partnerships, has swelled sevenfold to $60
million since 2000, Mexico's Economy Department told The Associated

Major corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge have
invested across Latin America for decades, particularly in countries
like Brazil, where agribusiness is booming.

Some small farmers have cultivated parts of Mexico for much longer,
seeking to secure year-round supplies of fruits and vegetables,
while taking advantage of cheap labor and proximity to the U.S.

But the latest move south has been fueled by something new, farmers
say: a way to continue to deliver cheap, fresh farm goods amid the
current U.S. political standoff over an estimated 12 million
undocumented immigrants, the majority from Mexico.

Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have targeted major
agricultural producers, including Del Monte Fresh Produce in
Portland, Oregon, and several large packing plants across the
nation -- scaring away immigrants and persuading many agricultural
employers to clean up their hiring practices.

"Employers can't find legal workers to replace this huge number of
illegal workers," said James Holt, an agricultural labor economist
and independent consultant based in Washington. "Their only option
is to go where the workers are."

Many of the growers, once based in California's Salinas Valley, are
also heading south to escape high land prices and water shortages.
Mexico is closer to eastern U.S. markets than California, they say.
Shipping times to Atlanta are a day shorter from Mexico's central
Guanajuato state.

Not everyone in Mexico has welcomed U.S. companies. Mexican farmers
complain that they have driven up land rental prices. Many local
growers worry they can't compete against big, foreign firms, said
Felipe Sanchez, president of a farmers group in Guanajuato state.

"How can a ranch that farms 70 acres compete with a company that
came to farm 10,000 acres?" Sanchez said. "We'll become laborers on
our own ranches."

Farm workers at U.S. companies in Mexico make two or three times
Mexico's minimum wage of $4.80 a day. But they still earn far less
than the average $9.60 an hour that field workers in the United
States made in January 2008, according to the U.S. Department of

Juan Antonio Linarez, 19, makes a tenth of his U.S. roofing income
at Taylor Farms de Mexico's vegetable cooling plant in Guanajuato.
But he has health insurance and can live nearby with his family --
without the dangerous and expensive trek across the border.

Some experts argue that farmers simply refuse to raise U.S. wages to
compete with other industries, something they say would help ease
the labor crunch.

As the United States heads into a recession, more native-born
workers might consider agricultural work if wages were high enough,
said Harley Shaiken, director of the University of California at
Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies.

"Labor shortage always is a question of at what pay rate," Shaiken
said. "Very often, if the wages are artificially low, it will be
very difficult to find a work force."

But Steve Scaroni said he did offer higher wages and still couldn't
find a steady work force in the U.S. Scaroni owns VegPacker, a
California and Guanajuato-based company that grows lettuce, celery,
cauliflower and other vegetables. VegPacker has struggled after
forking out millions of dollars to launch its Mexico division two
years ago.

The problem is that cheaper labor in Mexico often is offset by lower
productivity and high training costs, especially when it comes to
enforcing U.S. food-safety standards.

"The only thing that's cheaper down here is diesel fuel and the
labor per day," Scaroni said. "My productivity is down 40 percent"
from U.S. levels.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fidel To Barak

The Empire’s Hypocritical Politics

By: Fidel Castro Ruz, May 25, 2008, 10:35 p.m.

It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23 at the Cuban American National Foundation created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did McCain’s and Bush’s. I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

What were Obama’s statements?

“Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice and repression in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy. (…) This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century – of elections that are anything but free or fair (…) I won’t stand for this injustice, you won’t stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba,” he told annexationists, adding: “It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. (…) I will maintain the embargo.”
The content of these declarations by this strong candidate to the U.S. presidency spares me the work of having to explain the reason for this reflection.

José Hernandez, one of the Cuban American National Foundation directives who Obama praises in his speech, was none other than the owner of the 50-calibre automatic rifle, equipped with telescopic and infrared sights, which was confiscated, by chance, along with other deadly weapons while being transported by sea to Venezuela, where the Foundation had planned to assassinate the writer of these lines at an international meeting held in Margarita, in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta.

Pepe Hernández’ group wanted to renegotiate a former pact with Clinton, betrayed by Mas Canosa’s clan, who secured Bush’s electoral victory in 2000 through fraud, because the latter had promised to assassinate Castro, something they all happily embraced. These are the kinds of political tricks inherent to the United States’ decadent and contradictory system.

Presidential candidate Obama’s speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it.

How does he plan to address the extremely serious problem of the food crisis? The world’s grains must be distributed among human beings, domesticated animals and fish, which become smaller every year and more scarce in the seas that have been over-exploited by the large trawlers which no international organization could get in the way of. Producing meat from gas and oil is no easy feat. Even Obama overestimates technology’s potential in the fight against climate change, though he is more conscious of the risks and the limited margin of time than Bush. He could seek the advice of Gore, who is also a democrat and is no longer a candidate, as he is aware of the accelerated pace at which global warming is advancing. His close political rival Bill Clinton, who is not running for the presidency, an expert on extra-territorial laws like the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts, can advise him on an issue like the blockade, which he promised to lift and never did.

What did he say in his speech in Miami, this man who is doubtless, from the social and human points of view, the most progressive candidate to the U.S. presidency?

“For two hundred years,” he said, “the United States has made it clear that we won’t stand for foreign intervention in our hemisphere. But every day, all across the Americas, there is a different kind of struggle –not against foreign armies, but against the deadly threat of hunger and thirst, disease and despair. That is not a future that we have to accept — not for the child in Port au Prince or the family in the highlands of Peru. We can do better. We must do better. (…) We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach.”
A magnificent description of imperialist globalization: the globalization of empty stomachs! We ought to thank him for it. But, 200 years ago, Bolivar fought for Latin American unity and, more than 100 years ago, Martí gave his life in the struggle against the annexation of Cuba by the United States. What is the difference between what Monroe proclaimed and what Obama proclaims and resuscitates in his speech two centuries later?

“I will reinstate a Special Envoy for the Americas in my White House who will work with my full support. But we’ll also expand the Foreign Service, and open more consulates in the neglected regions of the Americas. We’ll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people,” he said near the end, adding: “Together, we can choose the future over the past.”
A beautiful phrase, for it attests to the idea, or at least the fear, that history makes figures what they are and not the other way around.

Today, the United States have nothing of the spirit behind the Philadelphia declaration of principles formulated by the 13 colonies that rebelled against English colonialism. Today, they are a gigantic empire undreamed of by the country’s founders at the time. Nothing, however, was to change for the natives and the slaves. The former were exterminated as the nation expanded; the latter continued to be auctioned at the marketplace —men, women and children—for nearly a century, despite the fact that “all men are born free and equal”, as the Declaration of Independence affirms. The world’s objective conditions favored the development of that system.

In his speech, Obama portrays the Cuban revolution as anti-democratic and lacking in respect for freedom and human rights. It is the exact same argument which, almost without exception, U.S. administrations have used again and again to justify their crimes against our country. The blockade, in and of itself, is an act of genocide. I don’t want to see U.S. children inculcated with those shameful values.

An armed revolution in our country might not have been needed without the military interventions, Platt Amendment and economic colonialism visited upon Cuba.

The revolution was the result of imperial domination. We cannot be accused of having imposed it upon the country. The true changes could have and ought to have been brought about in the United States. Its own workers, more than a century ago, voiced the demand for an eight-hour work shift, which stemmed from the development of productive forces.

The first thing the leaders of the Cuban revolution learned from Martí was to believe in and act on behalf of an organization founded for the purposes of bringing about a revolution. We were always bound by previous forms of power and, following the institutionalization of this organization, we were elected by more than 90 percent of voters, as has become customary in Cuba, a process which does not in the least resemble the ridiculous levels of electoral participation which, many a time, as in the case of the United States, stay short of 50 percent of the voters. No small and blockaded country like ours would have been able to hold its ground for so long on the basis of ambition, vanity, deceit or the abuse of power, the kind of power its neighbor has. To state otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of our heroic people.

I am not questioning Obama’s great intelligence, his debate skills or his work ethic. He is a talented orator and is ahead of his rivals in the electoral race. I feel sympathy for his wife and little girls, who accompany him and give him encouragement every Tuesday. It is indeed a touching human spectacle. Nevertheless, I am obliged to raise a number of delicate questions. I do not expect answers; I wish only to raise them for the record.

  1. Is it right for the president of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

  2. Is it ethical for the president of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

  3. Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

  4. Is an Adjustment Act, applied as punishment on only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilize it, good and honorable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans, and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn’t the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

  5. Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for U.S. citizens? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

  6. Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

  7. Are the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

  8. You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and spatial forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

  9. Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on sixty or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

  10. Is it honorable and sound to invest millions and millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on earth several times over?
Before judging our country, you should know that Cuba, with its education, health, sports, culture and sciences programs, implemented not only in its own territory but also in other poor countries around the world, and the blood that has been shed in acts of solidarity towards other peoples, in spite of the economic and financial blockade and the aggression of your powerful country, is proof that much can be done with very little. Not even our closest ally, the Soviet Union, was able to achieve what we have.

The only form of cooperation the United States can offer other nations consist in the sending of military professionals to those countries. It cannot offer anything else, for it lacks a sufficient number of people willing to sacrifice themselves for others and offer substantial aid to a country in need (though Cuba has known and relied on the cooperation of excellent U.S. doctors). They are not to blame for this, for society does not inculcate such values in them on a massive scale.

We have never subordinated cooperation with other countries to ideological requirements. We offered the United States our help when hurricane Katrina lashed the city of New Orleans. Our internationalist medical brigade bears the glorious name of Henry Reeve, a young man, born in the United States, who fought and died for Cuba’s sovereignty in our first war of independence.

Our revolution can mobilize tens of thousands of doctors and health technicians. It can mobilize an equally vast number of teachers and citizens, who are willing to travel to any corner of the world to fulfill any noble purpose, not to usurp people’s rights or take possession of raw materials.

The good will and determination of people constitute limitless resources that cannot be kept and would not fit in a bank’s vault. They cannot spring from the hypocritical politics of an empire.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ancient Babylon City

Destroyed by US Occupation Base

Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI)

24 May 2008

The last outsiders to visit the ruins of the once-mighty city of Babylon in Iraq came in tanks and helicopters, leaving a blight on its historic and fragile landscape, archaeologists say.

The city, born on the banks of the Euphrates River 5,000 years ago and full of priceless archaeological treasures, was transformed into a U.S. military camp after the 2003 invasion with a heliport built among the ruins.

The base was later passed to Polish army control and despite the soldiers' departure in 2005, the damage left behind is evident. At a meeting in Berlin next month, Iraqi and other specialists will endeavor to assess the true level of damage.

Iraqi archaeologist Hadi Mussa Qataa, who guided an AFP reporter through the fragile ruins, said helicopter take-offs and landings, along with the tremors from the heavy rumble of armored vehicles had damaged the city's historic monuments.

Babylon, Iraq

Babylon, the legendary city, is indeed, the most famous ancient city in the whole World. It was the capital of ten Mesopotamian dynasties starting with the dynasty of King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC); the 6th king of the 1st dynasty; reaching prominence as the capital city of the great kingdom of Babylonia. The last dynasty at which Babylon achieved its zenith, is well known particularly of its 2nd king, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-563 BC), to whom most of Babylon's existing buildings belongs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Potsville Immigrants

Click Here
You Tube Video, American Immigration raid

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bush & Hitler

The Bushes and Hitler's Appeasement

Published on Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Source: Global Research - Robert Parry

The irony of George W. Bush going before the Knesset and mocking the late Sen. William Borah for expressing surprise at Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland is that Bush's own family played a much bigger role assisting the Nazis.
If Borah, an isolationist Republican from Idaho, sounded naive saying "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided," then what should be said about Bush's grandfather and other members of his family providing banking and industrial assistance to the Nazis as they built their war machine in the 1930s?

The archival evidence is now clear that Prescott Bush, the president's grandfather, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from and collaborated with key financial backers of Nazi Germany.

That business relationship continued after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and even after Germany declared war on the United States following Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. It stopped only when the U.S. government seized assets of Bush-connected companies in late 1942 under the "Trading with the Enemy Act."

So, perhaps instead of holding up Sen. Borah to ridicule, Bush might have acknowledged in his May 15 speech that his forebears also were blind to the dangers of Hitler.

Bush might have noted that his family's wealth, which fueled his own political rise, was partly derived from Nazi collaboration and possibly from slave labor provided by Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

A more honest speech before the Knesset - on the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding - might have contained an apology to the Jewish people from a leading son of the Bush family for letting its greed contribute to Nazi power and to the horrors of the Holocaust. Instead, there was just the jab at Sen. Borah, who died in 1940.

President Bush apparently saw no reason to remind the world of a dark chapter from the family history. After all, those ugly facts mostly disappeared from public consciousness soon after World War II.

Protected by layers of well-connected friends, Prescott Bush brushed aside the Nazi scandal and won a U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut, which enabled him to start laying the foundation for the family's political dynasty.

In recent years, however, the archival records from the pre-war era have been assembled, drawing from the Harriman family papers at the Library of Congress, documents at the National Archives, and records from war-crimes trials after Germany's surrender.

Managers for the Powerful

One can trace the origins of this story back more than a century to the emergence of Samuel Bush, George W. Bush's great-grandfather, as a key manager for a set of powerful American business families, including the Rockefellers and the Harrimans. [See's "Bush Family Chronicles: The Patriarchs."]

That chapter took an important turn in 1919 when investment banker George Herbert Walker teamed up with Averell Harriman, scion to a railroad fortune, to found a new investment banking firm, W.A. Harriman Company.

The Harriman firm was backed by the Rockefellers' National City Bank and the Morgan family's Guaranty Trust. The English-educated Walker assisted in assembling the Harriman family's overseas business investments.

In 1921, Walker's favorite daughter, Dorothy, married Samuel Bush's son Prescott, a Yale graduate and a member of the school's exclusive Skull and Bones society. Handsome and athletic, admired for his golf and tennis skills, Prescott Bush was a young man with the easy grace of someone born into the comfortable yet competitive world of upper-crust contacts.

Three years later, Dorothy gave birth to George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts.

Lifted by the financial boom of the 1920s, Prescott and Dorothy Bush were on the rise. By 1926, George Herbert Walker had brought his son-in-law in on a piece of the Harriman action, hiring him as a vice president in the Harriman banking firm.

By the mid-Thirties, Prescott Bush had become a managing partner at the merged firm of Brown Brothers Harriman. The archival records also show that Brown Brothers Harriman served as the U.S. financial service arm for German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, an early funder of the Nazi Party.

Thyssen, an admirer of Adolf Hitler since the 1920s, joined the Nazi Party in 1931 when it was still a fringe organization. He helped bail the struggling party out with financial help, even providing its headquarters building in Munich.

Meanwhile, Averell Harriman had launched the Hamburg-Amerika line of steamships to facilitate the bank's dealings with Germany, and made Prescott Bush a director. The ships delivered fuel, steel, coal, gold and money to Germany as Hitler was consolidating his power and building his war machine.

Other evidence shows that Prescott Bush served as the director of the Union Banking Corp. of New York, which represented Thyssen's interests in the United States and was owned by a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands.

As a steel magnate, Thyssen was amassing a fortune as Hitler rearmed Germany. Documents also linked Bush to Thyssen's Consolidated Silesian Steel Company, which was based in mineral-rich Silesia on the German-Polish border and exploited slave labor from Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. But records at the National Archives do not spell out exactly when Bush's connection ended or what he knew about the business details.

In 1941, Thyssen had a falling out with Hitler and fled to France where he was captured. Much of Thyssen's empire went under the direct control of the Nazis, but even that did not shatter the business ties that existed with Prescott Bush and Harriman's bank.

It wasn't until August 1942 that newspaper stories disclosed the secretive ties between Union Banking Corp. and Nazi Germany.

After an investigation, the U.S. government seized the property of the Hamburg-Amerika line and moved against affiliates of the Union Banking Corp. In November 1942, the government seized the assets of the Silesian-American Corp. [For more details, see an investigative report by the U.K. Guardian, Sept. 25, 2004.]

No Kiss of Death

For most public figures, allegations of trading with the enemy would have been a political kiss of death, but the disclosures barely left a lipstick smudge on Averell Harriman, Prescott Bush and other business associates implicated in the Nazi business dealings.

"Politically, the significance of these dealings - the great surprise - is that none of it seemed to matter much over the next decade or so," wrote Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty.

"A few questions would be raised, but Democrat Averell Harriman would not be stopped from becoming federal mutual security administrator in 1951 or winning election as governor of New York in 1954. Nor would Republican Prescott Bush (who was elected senator from Connecticut in 1952) and his presidential descendants be hurt in any of their future elections."

Indeed, the quick dissipation of the Nazi financial scandal was only a portent of the Bush family's future. Unlike politicians of lower classes, the Bushes seemed to travel in a bubble impervious to accusations of impropriety, since the Eastern Establishment doesn't like to think badly of its own. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

To this day - as President Bush showed by mocking the long-forgotten Sen. Borah and then wielding the Nazi "appeasement" club against Barack Obama and other Democrats - the assumption remains that the bubble will continue to protect the Bush family name.

However, the evidence from dusty archives suggests that the Bush family went way beyond appeasement of Adolf Hitler to aiding and abetting the Nazis.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush", was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, "Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also available there. Or go to

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One Sentence

Saturday, May 10, 2008

American Drug Users

A different view of Americas War on Drugs.

U.S. drug users: Main cause for Mexico’s bloodbath

By Patrick Osio, Jr.

It’s time to take the gloves off and lay the responsibility for the bloodbath taking place on a daily basis in Mexico where it belongs – U.S. drug users. Mexican style Mafiosos are killing each other along with Mexican police officers, judges, prosecutors, journalists and innocent bystanders be they adults or children to gain transportation corridors from which to smuggle illicit drugs into the waiting hands of U.S. drug users.

And how does U.S. media report such events? Report how lawless Mexico is. And, for good measure, most articles insert the note “corrupt Mexican lawmen” in the story. Hardly any report ever mentions the end user in the U.S. as though that’s not the major part of the story unfolding before their very noses, when in fact they are the very reason for the carnage.

"It would stop being a business if the United States didn't want drugs," Benjamin Arellano Felix, one of the most ruthless and merciless drug capos responsible for hundreds of killings, told the Washington Post in a prison interview after Mexican authorities apprehended him.

Corruption in Mexico is no different than it was during the prohibition era in Chicago, New York, New Jersey and most major cities where the Mafia fought for territorial rights to sell liquor smuggled from Canada. And today, is there still one naïve U.S. citizen who believes there is no official corruption in any town USA?

Yes, there is corruption in Mexico, more than a country deserves, but Mexico does not have, or ever had, a monopoly. Like in the U.S. there is a fair share, and steadily growing numbers of honest non corrupt officials throughout Mexico.

During the U.S. prohibition era there were many non corrupt officers throughout the US who valiantly fought to defend law and order; many fell along with numerous innocent victims who were caught in the battles. This is now happening in Mexico.

U.S. news media touches on the administration of President Calderon’s declaration of war against organized crime in Mexico. This war is as real as our war against terrorism, and as all wars, it causes casualties. But instead of celebrating the bravery and ultimate sacrifice by the many that fall in the line of duty to keep drugs away from American families, news reporting marks Mexico as “lawless.” What injustice, what lack of fair reporting.

The recreational use of drugs, marijuana in particular, along with the more dangerous addictive stimulant drugs, has over several decades become entrenched in American culture greatly aided by Hollywood’s glamorizing drug usage in films. Though Marijuana is the most used, in the 1970s, Cocaine became the darling of the “successful” be they in the entertainment, sports or professions. It was the high cost of cocaine that created the link between U.S. users and Latin American producers; who originally used Mexico as a transportation corridor when it became more difficult to use Florida’s coast as entry points. This gave way to the Mexican capos and the beginning of the reign of terror in Mexico – all to satisfy U.S. recreational drug usage, eventually leading to addiction.

There should be no mistake, if Mexico loses the war against the drug trafficking capos, the U.S. is the biggest loser as every year 17,000 American lives are lost to drugs; where over 60 percent of the jail population is due to drug related crimes. And, where the annual cost, not counting what states and municipalities spend, exceeds $200-billion. But the biggest cost is in the lives and families destroyed and continuing fall into an abyss of national decadence.

With “my drug use doesn’t harm anyone but me” users excuse their repugnant behavior. But drug usage creates carnage, real people are being killed, families destroyed, children left orphans, mothers left without children, wives widowed in both Mexico and the U.S.

Pointing the finger at Mexico as the source of our problems has become all too handy an excuse by our government, the news media and by far too many of our citizens to avoid facing problems of our own making.

The Real Brain Drain

Modern technology - including violent video games - is changing the way our brains work, says neuroscientist

Human identity, the idea that defines each and every one of us, could be facing an unprecedented crisis.
It is a crisis that would threaten long-held notions of who we are, what we do and how we behave. It goes right to the heart - or the head - of us all.

This crisis could reshape how we interact with each other, alter what makes us happy, and modify our capacity for reaching our full potential as individuals.

And it's caused by one simple fact: the human brain, that most sensitive of organs, is under threat from the modern world.

Unless we wake up to the damage that the gadget-filled, pharmaceutically-enhanced 21st century is doing to our brains, we could be sleepwalking towards a future in which neuro-chip technology blurs the line between living and non-living machines, and between our bodies and the outside world.
It would be a world where such devices could enhance our muscle power, or our senses, beyond the norm, and where we all take a daily cocktail of drugs to control our moods and performance.

Already, an electronic chip is being developed that could allow a paralysed patient to move a robotic limb just by thinking about it.

As for drug manipulated moods, they're already with us - although so far only to a medically prescribed extent.

Increasing numbers of people already take Prozac for depression, Paxil as an antidote for shyness, and give Ritalin to children to improve their concentration.

But what if there were still more pills to enhance or "correct" a range of other specific mental functions?

What would such aspirations to be "perfect" or "better" do to our notions of identity, and what would it do to those who could not get their hands on the pills? Would some finally have become more equal than others, as George Orwell always feared?

Of course, there are benefits from technical progress - but there are great dangers as well, and I believe that we are seeing some of those today.

I'm a neuroscientist and my day-to-day research at Oxford University strives for an ever greater understanding - and therefore maybe, one day, a cure - for Alzheimer's disease.

But one vital fact I have learnt is that the brain is not the unchanging organ that we might imagine.

It not only goes on developing, changing and, in some tragic cases, eventually deteriorating with age, it is also substantially shaped by what we do to it and by the experience of daily life.

When I say "shaped", I'm not talking figuratively or metaphorically; I'm talking literally.

At a microcellular level, the infinitely complex network of nerve cells that make up the constituent parts of the brain actually change in response to certain experiences and stimuli.

The brain, in other words, is malleable - not just in early childhood but right up to early adulthood, and, in certain instances, beyond.

The surrounding environment has a huge impact both on the way our brains develop and how that brain is transformed into a unique human mind.

Of course, there's nothing new about that: human brains have been changing, adapting and developing in response to outside stimuli for centuries.

What prompted me to write my book is that the pace of change in the outside environment and in the development of new technologies has increased dramatically.

This will affect our brains over the next 100 years in ways we might never have imagined.

Our brains are under the influence of an ever- expanding world of new technology: multichannel television, video games, MP3 players, the internet, wireless networks, Bluetooth links - the list goes on and on.

But our modern brains are also having to adapt to other 21st century intrusions, some of which, such as prescribed drugs like Ritalin and Prozac, are supposed to be of benefit, and some of which, such as widelyavailable illegal drugs like cannabis and heroin, are not.

Electronic devices and pharmaceutical drugs all have an impact on the micro- cellular structure and complex biochemistry of our brains. And that, in turn, affects our personality, our behaviour and our characteristics. In short, the modern world could well be altering our human identity.

Three hundred years ago, our notions of human identity were vastly simpler: we were defined by the family we were born into and our position within that family. Social advancement was nigh on impossible and the concept of "individuality" took a back seat.

That only arrived with the Industrial Revolution, which for the first time offered rewards for initiative, ingenuity and ambition.

Suddenly, people had their own life stories - ones which could be shaped by their own thoughts and actions. For the first time, individuals had a real sense of self.

But with our brains now under such widespread attack from the modern world, there's a danger that that cherished sense of self could be diminished or even lost.

Anyone who doubts the malleability of the adult brain should consider a startling piece of research conducted at Harvard Medical School.

There, a group of adult volunteers, none of whom could previously play the piano, were split into three groups.

The first group were taken into a room with a piano and given intensive piano practise for five days. The second group were taken into an identical room with an identical piano - but had nothing to do with the instrument at all.

And the third group were taken into an identical room with an identical piano and were then told that for the next five days they had to just imagine they were practising piano exercises.

The resultant brain scans were extraordinary. Not surprisingly, the brains of those who simply sat in the same room as the piano hadn't changed at all.

Equally unsurprising was the fact that those who had performed the piano exercises saw marked structural changes in the area of the brain associated with finger movement.

But what was truly astonishing was that the group who had merely imagined doing the piano exercises saw changes in brain structure that were almost as pronounced as those that had actually had lessons.

"The power of imagination" is not a metaphor, it seems; it's real, and has a physical basis in your brain.

Alas, no neuroscientist can explain how the sort of changes that the Harvard experimenters reported at the micro-cellular level translate into changes in character, personality or behaviour.

But we don't need to know that to realise that changes in brain structure and our higher thoughts and feelings are incontrovertibly linked.

What worries me is that if something as innocuous as imagining a piano lesson can bring about a visible physical change in brain structure, and therefore some presumably minor change in the way the aspiring player performs, what changes might long stints playing violent computer games bring about?

That eternal teenage protest of 'it's only a game, Mum' certainly begins to ring alarmingly hollow.

Already, it's pretty clear that the screen-based, two dimensional world that so many teenagers - and a growing number of adults - choose to inhabit is producing changes in behaviour.

Attention spans are shorter, personal communication skills are reduced and there's a marked reduction in the ability to think abstractly.

This games-driven generation interpret the world through screen-shaped eyes. It's almost as if something hasn't really happened until it's been posted on Facebook, Bebo or YouTube.

Add that to the huge amount of personal information now stored on the internet - births, marriages, telephone numbers, credit ratings, holiday pictures - and it's sometimes difficult to know where the boundaries of our individuality actually lie.

Only one thing is certain: those boundaries are weakening.

And they could weaken further still if, and when, neurochip technology becomes more widely available.

These tiny devices will take advantage of the discovery that nerve cells and silicon chips can happily co-exist, allowing an interface between the electronic world and the human body.

One of my colleagues recently suggested that someone could be fitted with a cochlear implant (devices that convert sound waves into electronic impulses and enable the deaf to hear) and a skull-mounted micro- chip that converts brain waves into words (a prototype is under research).

Then, if both devices were connected to a wireless network, we really would have arrived at the point which science fiction writers have been getting excited about for years. Mind reading!

He was joking, but for how long the gag remains funny is far from clear.

Today's technology is already producing a marked shift in the way we think and behave, particularly among the young.

I mustn't, however, be too censorious, because what I'm talking about is pleasure. For some, pleasure means wine, women and song; for others, more recently, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll; and for millions today, endless hours at the computer console.

But whatever your particular variety of pleasure (and energetic sport needs to be added to the list), it's long been accepted that 'pure' pleasure - that is to say, activity during which you truly "let yourself go" - was part of the diverse portfolio of normal human life. Until now, that is.

Now, coinciding with the moment when technology and pharmaceutical companies are finding ever more ways to have a direct influence on the human brain, pleasure is becoming the sole be-all and end-all of many lives, especially among the young.

We could be raising a hedonistic generation who live only in the thrill of the computer-generated moment, and are in distinct danger of detaching themselves from what the rest of us would consider the real world.

This is a trend that worries me profoundly. For as any alcoholic or drug addict will tell you, nobody can be trapped in the moment of pleasure forever. Sooner or later, you have to come down.

I'm certainly not saying all video games are addictive (as yet, there is not enough research to back that up), and I genuinely welcome the new generation of "brain-training" computer games aimed at keeping the little grey cells active for longer.

As my Alzheimer's research has shown me, when it comes to higher brain function, it's clear that there is some truth in the adage "use it or lose it".

However, playing certain games can mimic addiction, and that the heaviest users of these games might soon begin to do a pretty good impersonation of an addict.

Throw in circumstantial evidence that links a sharp rise in diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the associated three-fold increase in Ritalin prescriptions over the past ten years with the boom in computer games and you have an immensely worrying scenario.

But we mustn't be too pessimistic about the future.

It may sound frighteningly Orwellian, but there may be some potential advantages to be gained from our growing understanding of the human brain's tremendous plasticity.

What if we could create an environment that would allow the brain to develop in a way that was seen to be of universal benefit?

I'm not convinced that scientists will ever find a way of manipulating the brain to make us all much cleverer (it would probably be cheaper and far more effective to manipulate the education system).

And nor do I believe that we can somehow be made much happier - not, at least, without somehow anaesthetising ourselves against the sadness and misery that is part and parcel of the human condition.

When someone I love dies, I still want to be able to cry.

But I do, paradoxically, see potential in one particular direction.

I think it possible that we might one day be able to harness outside stimuli in such a way that creativity - surely the ultimate expression of individuality - is actually boosted rather than diminished.

I am optimistic and excited by what future research will reveal into the workings of the human brain, and the extraordinary process by which it is translated into a uniquely individual mind.

But I'm also concerned that we seem to be so oblivious to the dangers that are already upon us.

Well, that debate must start now. Identity, the very essence of what it is to be human, is open to change - both good and bad. Our children, and certainly our grandchildren, will not thank us if we put off discussion much longer.

Evo's Dilemmas

by Néstor Kohan

The Right respects legality only when legality favors it. The history of our America has shown that a thousand times. The confrontation that is convulsing Bolivia today is no exception.

The Santa Cruz autonomy referendum is just the tip of the iceberg. To limit the debate to a question of legal pettifoggery would be a very serious error. It is an open secret that the bourgeoisie of the "Media Luna" (the half-moon-shaped region composed of the Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija departments), white and racist, lumpen and dependent, are planning to overthrow Evo Morales. That's not all. They are advised and directed by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg (who worked in Kosovo between 1994 and 1996. . .).

The CIA is implementing a predictable plan in Bolivia. Combine a Kosovo-style secessionism, psychological warfare, and incitement to internal counterrevolution as it did yesterday in the Chile of Salvador Allende and is doing today in the Venezuela of Chávez. Goldberg is following a textbook scheme. Use foundations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other agencies to transfer money to "independent" NGOs and rightist groups, just like in Venezuela. Since 2005, the USAID has given $120 million a year to the supposedly "democratic" opposition.

The central plaza of Santa Cruz is full of young Mormons -- blue-eyed blonds in white shirts -- who barely speak Spanish and warn against "the devil." . . . To suggest that Evo Morales in this context sit down and dialogue meekly with this warrior bourgeoisie funded by the United States is not only unrealistic and hardly pragmatic. It is simply suicidal.

As Morales himself acknowledged in an interview that he gave in La Paz in March 2008 (see ), the MAS has arrived at the government, but it has no power. That is precisely the problem. If we wish to transform Bolivian society from the bottom up, we cannot avoid the problem of power at risk of losing everything.

The current dilemma of Evo and the MAS is whether it is possible to restrain the Right by making concessions or preferable to confront it and advance the process. The answer is complex because the Bolivian government is not homogeneous. It is pulled between two poles: the option of its moderate advisers (where some officials of the old political class turned progressives today and some academic fellow travelers of the process are ensconced) and the option of its most radical activists and social bases. The latter propose to radically push the process of reforms to the point of breaking the implicit pact that ties the hands of the government and will slowly weaken it. If this option ends up prevailing, Evo must not only intensify the confrontation with the "Media Luna." He should also impose price controls to curb inflation (the slogan that, as we have been able to hear firsthand, his own bases have cried out to him in some demonstrations) and accelerate the process to regain the full -- not just partial -- control of natural resources.

There is little time left to choose between these two alternatives. History is cruel and does not forgive indecisions. The people left behind, humiliated and exploited, are waiting. Bolivia is in its decisive hour. The outcome will affect the entire region, from Venezuela to Argentina.

Néstor Kohan is a teacher at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) and coordinator of the Colectivo Amauta-Cátedra Che Guevara.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Agent Kolar

Agent Kolar, Bush’s new hope for destabilizing Cuba

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD —Granma International staff writer—

• CAUGHT up in a series of scandals that erased what little credibility it had on the Cuba issue, the Bush administration, which until now trusted that its Cuban-American mercenaries would succeed in destabilizing the country, has placed its hopes in the none-too-clean hands of an astute Czech, a fitting student of its spy services.

Selected and recruited by the CIA in the late 1980s, Petr "Peter" Kolar, ambassador of the Czech Republic in Washington, moved in less than three years from a building maintenance employee and mail clerk to chief researcher at the Institute of Strategic Studies attached to the Ministry of Defense in Prague.

This was thanks to a little push forward by his friend Vaclav Havel, also connected to the U.S. intelligence pipelines.

Kolar began his dizzying ascent after the collapse of the socialist state in the former Czechoslovakia, when his masters sent him, overnight, to Washington to begin a training program for his new tasks, according to his official biography. This training program was at the Woodrow Wilson International Center (WWIC), an institution funded and run by the U.S. government.

What his biography doesn’t say is that the WWIC, attached to the University of Princeton, is as closely tied to the CIA as white on rice. So much so, in fact, that the notorious former CIA director, Allen W. Dulles, bequeathed his personal archives to that institute.

James Billington, director of the WWIC from 1973 to 1988, began his career as Dulles’ assistant and ended as advisor to Ronald Reagan. According Dulles’ declassified documents, a large number of professors from that center also worked as "high level" advisors for U.S. spy agencies.

Lee Hamilton, its current director, has an even darker résumé. A former congressman from the state of Indiana, he was a member of the presidential advisory council for domestic security, secretary of the National Security Study Group for the Department of Defense and… secretary of the CIA advisory council on economic intelligence. Even more serious: he was on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, also known as the 9/11 Commission.

What could agent Kolar have studied in Washington, then?

What is certain is that back in Prague, the Havel connection sent him quickly on the way to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he would rise from one intrigue to the next at rocket speed until becoming a deputy minister.

Now Washington could reap what it had sowed.


On December 2, 2005, Doctor Kolar (he was by now called doctor), presented his credentials to George W. Bush. He knew what the priorities were. He waited until after the New Year’s holiday, and on January 17, 2006, he was in Miami, where he met with some of the most recalcitrant mafia elements.

By May, he was ready to come out as the star of the anti-Cuban show.

In a rather crude move, the conspirators chose the offices of the Center for a Free Cuba, of the notorious CIA agent Frank Calzón, to call a press conference. Kolar had invited a number of diplomats from other former Eastern European socialist countries, in order to launch what he called "an initiative to support the internal opposition in Cuba."

Those accompanying him included Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart, son of a government minister under the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship; Caleb McCarry, head of the Bush Plan to annex Cuba; Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, a terrorist recruited from the Cuban Democratic Directorate; the heavily-subsidized Sylvia Iriondo, of MAR por Cuba; Angel de Fana, of the group Plantados hasta la Libertad y la Democracia, a counterrevolutionary organization of ex-convicts; and Mauricio Claver Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, which is dedicated to bribing congress members.

Kolar did not suspect at that moment that before the year was over his troop of conspirators would be dispersed by a hurricane: a report in December from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealing that USAID officials assigned to Cuba concealed the final destination of $65.4 million in grants from this federal agency that went to their friends in Miami and Washington.

The suspects indicated by the GAO report included two of Kolar’s best supporters: Frank Calzón and Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, who received millions in subsidies.

The blow was too heavy. Days later, Adolfo Franco, administrator of Latin American funds for the US Agency for International Development, immediately resigned his post… and joined the team of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who just so happens to be a director of the International Republican Institute (IRI), one of the great beneficiaries of Franco’s generosity.

The scandal in USAID continued over the following months, with more resignations and a police investigation that recently "blew up" Felipe Sixto, Calzón’s right-hand man, and the mastermind of a profitable embezzlement scheme, who has been hiding for a few months as "special" advisor to the president.

Another activity organized by Kolar’s "advisors" a short while ago at the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel brought to light the new plan for creating subversion in Cuba as imagined by the masterminds in Langley.

Acknowledging Washington’s isolation in its dirty war against the island, Cuban-American Senator Mel Martinez, who was heading up the unusual meeting, emphasized a need for involving "other countries" in their anti-Cuba operation. This was meant to remind Cubans who "have been trained to hate" the U.S. government that the latter "is not their only ally." José Cárdenas, the "interim" director replacing Franco at USAID, said that USAID would soon begin "following the model established by the Eastern European bloc in the 1990s," thus confirming it as the first to benefit.

The mafioso meeting ended with an eloquent piece of nonsense from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutiérrez. According to this former multi-million dollar corporate executive, attention must be given to Cuba "as it has been with Tibet and Darfur," thus admitting U.S. intervention in both of those crises.

Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador was sanctioning such absurd instructions, his perspicacious associate Calzón did not waste any time on a useless show. He was waiting at the fittingly-named Dulles Airport in Washington for the next flight to Prague.

He knew that from now on, the Cárdenas substitute would favor the Czech capital for distributing the millions from USAID.

Behind Calzón would follow all of his fellow mercenaries, looking to secure new sources of funding, beginning with Robert Ménard, in a line that also featured Boronat and Iriondo.

Vaclav Havel, for his part, has just inaugurated another organization for "advocating democracy," on April 16 in Brussels, and behind it is the hairy hand of the godfathers of subversion in Cuba… suffice it to say that the coordinator for the "new" program is Czech Kristina Prunerova, of People in Need, a group created in Prague by the CIA and heavily subsidized by the National Endowment for Democracy, another agency attached to U.S. intelligence.

In Miami, various factions that have been feeding for decades from the federal government’s anti-Cuba crusades are now reeling in face of the Kolar Plan, wondering how to link up with that subversive structure that benefits European NGOs and satellites of USAID, NED and other channels.

The GAO audit on USAID’s anti-Cuba activities made headlines with the fancy purchases by the hired "democracy activists" from Miami: cashmere sweaters, Godiva chocolates, Nintendo games and Sony Playstations, supposedly all meant for alleged dissidents.

This is the rotten fruit of the lucubration of Cuban-American congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart, Senator Martínez and the ringleaders of the Cuban Liberty Council. Will the USAID’s millions continue to be reaped in Miami? •

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