Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Letter to Hillary

Open Letter to US Secretary of State,
Hillary Clinton

By Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Rejection of all interventionist behavior, Andrés Manuel López Obrador warns in a letter to Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State. Ready to "defend out right as a free and sovereign Nation" "It is an error to want to confront the problems of insecurity and violence with only an iron fist, soldiers, jails, tougher laws, and stiffer penalties."

Mexico City. March 25, 2009

Mrs. Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Government of the United States of America

Esteemed Mrs. Clinton:

Even though only Mexicans can confront and resolve our homeland's internal issues, we consider it to be pertinent, given what you represent, to express to you the feelings of millions of citizens who struggle daily in order to make justice and democracy a reality in Mexico.

From our point of view, the problems of insecurity and violence in our country have arisen from the prevailing corruption and impunity, and because there hasn't been economic growth for 26 years and millions of youths have been marginalized from education and haven't had work opportunities.

You surely know that all of this began when a group of about 30 traffickers of influence and corrupt politicians, using the cover of so-called neoliberal economic policies, took control of the Mexican State, as well as a good part of national and so-called public goods. And these policies of pillaging that has enriched a minority in an exaggerated and obscene manner, in a way that has not occurred in any other part of the world, has condemned the Mexican people to exile and survival.

That is why we believe that it is an error to want to confront the problems of insecurity and violence with only an iron fist, with soldiers, with prisons, with tougher laws, and with stiffer penalties. The solution to the scourge of criminality lies in rescuing the State, in changing the current economic model, and in guaranteeing the people better living and working conditions. It can't be forgotten that peace and tranquility are fruits of justice.

Mrs. Clinton: As a result, as we have also made known to President Barack Obama, we maintain that the solution to the phenomena of migration and insecurity will not be found in the construction of walls nor in border militarization. Rather, it will be found in Mexico's social and economic development.

Therefore, it is essential that the relationship between Mexico and the United States is built upon cooperation for development and not in the use of coercive measures.

Likewise, we express to you that even though we suffer from a usurper and failed government, whose weakness could lead it to enter into agreements that go against the national interest, a strong citizen movement also exists that is determined to impede any interventionist behavior and to defend our rights as a free and sovereign nation.

We respectfully send you our regards and we wish you a nice stay in our country.


Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Legitimate President of Mexico

Translated from Por Esto!

Weapons for Sale

Legal U.S. Arms Exports May Be Source of
Narco Syndicates Rising Firepower

Posted by Bill Conroy - March 29, 2009

More Than $1 billion In Private-Sector Weapons Exports Approved For Mexico Since 2004

Mainstream media and Beltway pundits and politicians in recent months have unleashed a wave of panic in the nation linking the escalading violence in Mexico, and its projected spread into the U.S., to illegal weapons smuggling.

The smokescreen being spread by these official mouthpieces of manufactured consensus is that a host of criminal operators are engaging in straw (or fraudulent) gun purchases, making clandestine purchases at U.S. gun shows or otherwise assembling small caches of weapons here in the states in order to smuggle them south of the border to the “drug cartels.”

The Obama administration is now sending hundreds of additional federal agents to the border in an effort to interdict this illegal arms smuggling to reassure an agitated middle-America that Uncle Sam will get these bad guys. The cascade of headlines from mainstream media outlets printing drug-war pornography assures us in paragraphs inserted between the titillation that the ATF’s Operation Gunrunner and other similar get-tough on gun-seller programs will save America from the banditos of Mexico.

To be sure, some criminal actors in the U.S. are smuggling small arms across the border. But the drug war in Mexico is not being fought with Saturday night specials, hobby rifles and hunting shotguns. The drug trafficking organizations are now in possession of high-powered munitions in vast quantities that can’t be explained by the gun-show loophole.

At least one report in a mainstream media outlet deserves credit for recognizing that trend.

“[Mexican] traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals,” states a recent story in the Los Angeles Times. “The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in the Mexican government's 2-year-old war against drug organizations. …”

Narco News, in a report last December [“Juarez murders shine a light on an emerging Military Cartel”] also examined the increasing militarization of narco-trafficking groups in Mexico and pointed out that U.S. military-issued ammunition popped up in an arms cache seized in Reynosa, Mexico, in November 2008 that was linked to the Zetas, a mercenary group that provides enforcement services to Mexican narco-trafficking organizations.

So where are these military-grade weapons really coming from?

Rather than address that valid question head on, the mainstream media, and now even the Obama administration, have been attempting to paint lipstick on the pig, trumpeting, in the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the “courageous efforts undertaken by [Mexican] President Calderon.”

And the “courageous” Mexican President Felipe Calderon, for his part, redirects the blame for the Mexican narco-organization’s increasing firepower back to the U.S.

In a story published by the Associated Press in late February of this year, Mexican President Calderon is quoted alleging the following:

We need to stop the flow of guns and weapons towards Mexico. Let me express to you that we've seized in this two years more than 25,000 weapons and guns, and more than 90 percent of them came from United States, and I'm talking from missiles launchers to machine guns and grenades.

But no matter how hard Calderon and U.S. officials try to disguise the pig, it still oinks.

A Narco News investigation into the flow of arms across the U.S. border appears to lead right back to the systemic corruption that afflicts a vast swath of the Mexican government under President Felipe Calderon and this nation’s own embrace of market-driven free-trade policies.

The deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports, measured in the billions of dollars, and sanctioned by our own State Department. These deadly trade commodities — grenade launchers, explosives and “assault” weapons —are then, in quantities that can fill warehouses, being corruptly transferred to drug trafficking organizations via their reach into the Mexican military and law enforcement agencies, the evidence indicates.

“As in other criminal enterprises in Mexico, such as drug smuggling or kidnapping, it is not unusual to find police officers and military personnel involved in the illegal arms trade,” states an October 2007 report by the for-profit global intelligence group Stratfor, which Barron’s magazine once dubbed the Shadow CIA. “… Over the past few years, several Mexican government officials have been arrested on both sides of the border for participating in the arms trade.”

Counting Commerce

The U.S. State Department oversees a program that requires private companies in the United States to obtain an export license in order to sell defense hardware or services to foreign purchasers — which include both government units and private buyers in other countries. These arms deals are known as Direct Commercial Sales [DCS]. Each year, the State Department issues a report tallying the volume and dollar amount of DCS items approved for export.

The reports do not provide details on who the weapons or defense services were exported to specifically, but do provide an accounting of the destination countries. Although it is possible that some of the deals authorized under the DCS program were altered or even canceled after the export licenses were issued, the data compiled by State does provide a broad snapshot of the extensive volume of U.S. private-sector arms shipments to both Mexico and Latin America in general.

According to an analysis of the DCS reports, some $1 billion in defense hardware was approved for export to Mexico via private U.S. companies between fiscal year 2004 and fiscal year 2007 — the most recent year for which data was available. Overall, during the same period, a total of some $3.7 billion in weapons and other military hardware was approved for export under the DCS program to all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition to the military hardware exports approved for Mexico, some $3.8 billion in defense-related “services” [technical assistance and training via private U.S. contractors] also were approved for “export” to Mexico over the same four-year period, according to the DCS reports.

That means the total value of defense-related hardware and service exports by private U.S. companies to Mexico tallied nearly $5 billion over the four-year window. And that figure doesn’t even count the $700 million in assistance already authorized under the Merida Initiative [Plan Mexico] or any new DCS exports approved for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 [which ends Sept. 30].

Following is a sample of the types of arms shipments approved for export to Mexico through the DCS program during fiscal years 2006 and 2007 alone:

• $3.3 million worth of ammunition and explosives, including ammunition-manufacturing equipment;

• 13,000 nonautomatic and semiautomatic firearms, pistols and revolvers at a total value of $11.6 million;

• 42 grenade launchers valued at $518,531;

• 3,578 explosive projectiles, including grenades, valued at $78,251;

• Various night-vision equipment valued at $963,201.

A troubling revelation about the DCS program, which has direct relevance to the drug war in Mexico, is contained in a fiscal 2007 report issued by the State Department. That report summarizes the results of the State Department’s Blue Lantern end-use monitoring program for DCS exports.

That Blue Lantern report found that "the Western Hemisphere (especially Latin America and the Caribbean) continues to be a region with a high incidence of unfavorable cases involving firearms and ammunition." The unfavorable finding indicates that fraud may have occurred and those cases "may be subject to civil enforcement actions or referred to law enforcement for criminal investigation."

For the entire DCS program, and this is a disturbing figure, of the 634 Blue Lantern cases closed in fiscal year 2007, a total of 143, or 23 percent, were deemed “unfavorable."

The Blue Lantern report does not mention specific transactions in detail, but does provide case-study examples. One included in the report indicated that a Latin American firearms dealer acted as a “front company for another Latin American company.”

“[The] owner admits that [the] company exists only on paper…,” the fiscal year 2007 Blue Lantern report states. “[The] host country authorities had temporarily suspended the firearms import licenses to [the] parent company because of its link with small arms smuggling to gangs in [a] third country.”

Given Mexico’s strict gun laws with respect to private individuals, it is likely most of the DCS program defense hardware approved for export to that nation was directed toward the military or law enforcement agencies. But it is precisely that fact which should be raising some alarm in Washington.

Mexico, by Calderon’s own admission, is dealing with a serious corruption problem within the ranks of Mexican law enforcement.

From a December 2008 report in the Los Angeles Times:

Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Tuesday said his government was making strides against corruption but warned that graft remained a threat to the nation's efforts against crime.

Calderon’s rival in the 2006 Mexican presidential race, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in recent open letter published in the Mexican newspaper Por Esto! and addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, is even more blunt in his assessment of the extent of corruption within the Calderon regime.

You surely know that all of this began when a group of about 30 traffickers of influence and corrupt politicians, using the cover of so-called neoliberal economic policies, took control of the Mexican State, as well as a good part of national and so-called public goods. And these policies of pillaging that has enriched a minority in an exaggerated and obscene manner, in a way that has not occurred in any other part of the world, has condemned the Mexican people to exile and survival.

And that corruption is not limited to Mexican law enforcement. Sources provided Narco News with a PowerPoint presentation prepared for the DEA that indicates the following:

Between Jan 2000-Dec 2006: More than 163,000 military members were criminally processed during former president Vicente Fox’s 6 years term of office. The majority of the crimes were: [the list includes abuse of power, homicide, embezzlement, kidnapping, bank robbery, illegal possession of firearms and health crimes [essentially organized crime].

Another slide in that same DEA PowerPoint presentation states that the Mexican military reported an average of 1,200 desertions per month in 2006.

And it should not be ignored that the Zetas, one of the most violent drug-organization groups in Mexico right now, was founded by former elite Mexican special-operations troops — many of whom received some training in the United States.

The Elephant in the Room

A former senior U.S. Customs Inspector, who asked that his name not be used, provided the following reaction when presented with the DCS data:

I would agree entirely [that] DCS (and DoD gifted, as opposed to DCS sold) weapons are obviously the simplest explanation for the massive rise in the number of fully automatic weapons, grenades, rockets, etc., obtained by the narcotics gangs. … That is to say, they are obtaining their weapons from their own, Mexican, government, by various illegal means.

… The Mexican government has a long and well-documented history of corruption at all levels, from city to federal. Most of the weapons being "displayed" [in the media] are simply not available for sale to American civilians, particularly including the grenades — both 40mm and hand types. …

… The source of these weapons can be easily traced by ATF. … All foreign sales must be reported to ATF prior to shipment, just in case the government wishes to hold up a shipment to a particular country, etc. Tracing the serial numbers would be easy, with US government assistance, of course.

But that assumes the Mexican government, and our own government, really want to trace those weapons. A November 2008 report in the San Antonio Express News, which includes details of the major weapons seizure in Reynosa, Mexico, that same month involving the Zetas, reveals the following:

Another example of coordination problems occurred this month. Mexican authorities in Reynosa across the border from McAllen, seized the country’s single largest stash of cartel weapons — nearly 300 assault rifles, shoulder-fired grenade launchers and a half million rounds of ammunition.

But weeks later, Mexican authorities still have not allowed the ATF access to serial numbers that would help them track down the buyers and traffickers on the U.S. side.

To be sure, cartel corruption and intimidation of Mexican law enforcement at every level and in every agency has caused some dysfunction.

A former DEA agent, who also asked not to be named, says the shipment of military-grade weapons to the Mexican government under the DCS program, given the extent of corruption within that government, is essentially like “shipping weapons to a crime syndicate.”

At least one individual with long connections to U.S. intelligence agencies is convinced that the corrupt transfer of arms between the Mexican military and narco-criminals in Mexico is more than theory.

Tosh Plumlee is a former CIA contract pilot who flew numerous missions delivering arms to Latin America and returning drugs to the United States as part of the covert Iran/Contra operations in the 1980s, according to public records. After becoming troubled by those government-sanctioned missions, Plumlee decided to take his concerns to Congress.

Plumlee was eventually called to testify before Congress on a number of occasions, only to find that the Congressional committees hearing his testimony ordered it classified — which meant if Plumlee later spoke about it publicly, he would be violating the law.

Plumlee, however, still has deep contacts in the spook world, some of whom, it seems, want him to bring some information forward concerning the nature of the drug war in Juarez, Mexico. As a result, Plumlee says he recently made a journey with individuals he described as “sensitive sources” to a small warehouse in Juarez — located just across border from El Paso, Texas. Plumlee says he agreed to accompany the sources because he is currently doing research for a book he is writing about the drug war.

Plumlee says it was clear to him that the warehouse was not part of a Mexican military operation, yet it was packed with U.S. military weapons — including grenades, grenade launchers, LAW anti-tank weapons [essentially high-tech bazookas], M16 rifles and night-vision equipment.

Plumlee says his sources indicated that the U.S. weapons in that warehouse — as well as another warehouse located elsewhere in Juarez that he did not visit — were now under the control of a narco-trafficking organization, which had obtained the munitions from corrupt elements of the Mexican military.

Plumlee concedes he does not know why he was allowed to step inside that warehouse and later walk out alive. All he can say for sure is that he was being used to get the information out and suspects that those weapons have since been relocated.

As incredible as Plumlee’s story sounds, it cannot really be surprising that there would be stores of weapons in clandestine warehouses in a city like Juarez, which, since the beginning of 2008, has produced about 2,000 of the estimated 7,000 murders in Mexico’s bloody drug war. And whether anyone chooses to believe Plumlee’s information or not, it is clear he has a long history of being a player in the netherworld of black operations, and might well be trusted by some players who still engaged in that dark art.

Mike Levine, a former DEA agent who has years of experience participating in dangerous undercover operations overseas, says Plumlee is who he claims to be. Levine now hosts a radio show in New York City on a Pacifica Radio station [the Expert Witness Radio Show] and Plumlee has appeared on that show several times over the years.

Here’s what Levine has to say about Plumlee’s credibility:

Before I invited Tosh to come on the air, because his story was so incredible, I vetted him through government agents, all of whom said he is the real thing. I have a copy of the air map he turned over to a San Diego Weekly newspaper, bearing notations of all his drug flights, which first sold me on the guy.

After he had made many revelations on-air in New York, and mainstream media continued to ignore him, Congress was apparently listening. I had been told by my own sources that agencies like CIA were regularly recording our show. (I used to remind them, on air, to make sure they pressed the red button to record.)

So Tosh calls me one day in around 1997 and says that Congress had asked him to testify about his experiences, in closed-door session. I told him, "If you do that, they are going to do nothing but classify your testimony making it illegal for you to tell your own story."

And that, indeed, is what did happen, according to Tosh.

Could it be that Plumlee was used as a type of message in a bottle because, like has happened so many times in the past history of this nation, the normal chain of command and our politicians in Washington, D.C., simply don’t want to hear the truth, don’t want to risk rocking the boat of international relations with Mexico or interrupting the free-trade flow of a multi-billion dollar “legal” arms business?

After all, if our government had to concede that the Mexican military is so wracked with corruption and beyond the control of Mexican President Calderon that it cannot be trusted to control its own weapons, then how can U.S. cooperation with Calderon’s government have any hope for success in what many would argue is an already ill-conceived drug war?

In fact, if that is what we are now confronting in Mexico, it is likely that U.S. cooperation with Calderon’s government, when it takes the form of U.S. weapon shipments, is likely only going to fuel further bloodshed and put U.S. agents and operatives now in the field assisting in those efforts at grave risk.

Narco News did seek to get comment from officials at both the Department of Justice and the Department of State about the issues raised in this story. To date, those queries — both by phone and e-mail — have been met with dead silence.

Stay tuned ….

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bombing Iraq

Truth Behind Iraq War

I assume that the purpose of any inquiry into the war in Iraq is to establish truth transparently, not bury it ("Miliband pledge to hold Iraq war inquiry dismissed as playing for time' ", The Herald, March 26). Truth enshrines due regard for history.

That Saddam was a very bad man is not in doubt; but those who nurtured the man may be considered equally bad. Donald Rumsfeld was such a man. Nor was I ever in any doubt that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), not least because shortly before I arrived in Baghdad, in 1984, Mr Rumsfeld had been in the city to sell Saddam pathogenic material.

So whoever else might have been surprised by the attack on Halabja in 1987, in which 5000 Kurds were gassed, I wasn't one of them.

The invasion of Kuwait and the onset of genocidal sanctions marked a pivotal change and I tended to the view, promoted by the French and others, that from 1991 Saddam's WMD stockpile had degraded out of existence. Otherwise, what stopped him from deploying (again) the weaponry formerly held? However, it was his alleged arsenal of WMD, no less, that led to the deaths of two million Iraqis from 1991 to 2003 via economic sanctions, which included coalition cruise missile and bombing attacks. A key such episode was Operation Desert Fox (ODF), in 1998, encompassing remorseless US/UK attacks.

For four terrifying nights, a defenceless nation was assaulted by an unseen enemy in the dark. Non-military targets destroyed included the Baghdad Teaching Hospital, the Baghdad Museum of Natural History and the Tikrit Teaching Hospital.

The US Navy launched 325 cruise missiles, the US Airforce 100. Additionally, US and UK bombers flew 650 sorties with RAF Tornadoes alone dropping 50 200lb bombs. There were massive civilian losses. ODF was the direct responsibility of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton and, like "shock and awe", five years later, it was predicated on a lie: that Saddam, now firmly the bad guy, owned WMD. The inquiry must also investigate both the politics and the quality of intelligence behind ODF again. As Rumsfeld himself might put it, "stuff happens". Question is, what?

Chris Walker West Kilbride.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Working is no Crime

Border Lines

Reporting from the TransBorder Project of the

Center for International Policy

The TransBorder Project is a project of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City and the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC. Directed by CIP senior analyst Tom Barry, the TransBorder Project and its Border Lines Blog aim to foster policy alternatives and to improve understanding of such transborder issues as immigration, trade, illegal drug flows, and environmental degradation.

Click Here for their blog to learn more about how the American people treat the workers they tempted to their country with words of good pay and freedom, and the language they use to describe their fellow human beings.

Criminal Aliens Without End

Fourth in a 12-part BorderLines series

"Aliens, Crime, and Drugs: Making the Connection"

Monday, March 23, 2009

There is no good estimate of the number of criminal aliens because it’s a constantly expanding population, as the number of new immigrants grows and as the number of immigrant residents who are convicted of crimes grows.
It’s also a rising number because the federal government’s definition of deportable crimes keeps expanding, and because new border control and interior enforcement programs at DHS have been increasingly turning immigration violations into criminal violations.

There are roughly 20 million legal noncitizen residents and 11 million illegal residents in the United States. ICE estimates that there are 300,000 to 450,000 criminal aliens detained at federal, state, and local prisons and jails. Once it gets data systems fully operating and with sufficient budgeting ($2-3 billion), ICE can remove all these aliens, most of whom are legal residents.

An unknown number, presumably much larger than those currently detained, of legal residents who have at any time during their residence been convicted of a “removable offense” are also criminal aliens. They are “removable” but will likely remain outside ICE’s custody until they are identified by a cross-check of the government’s increasingly integrated immigration/criminal databases – as when they reenter the country after a foreign visit, apply for citizenship, booked in a local jail, stopped by a law enforcement official.

In other words, if a legal resident has ever been convicted of a crime, even if the sentence was waived, they can at any point in their life be arrested and deported as a criminal alien. To this expanding pool of criminal aliens, any noncitizen who in the future commits a removable offense will be added.

All 11 million immigrants are removable, in addition to the 300,000 – 500,000 additional immigrants who each year enter illegally or overstay their visas. If any of these are convicted of a crime or charged with a criminal violation of immigration law, they are considered criminal aliens, and will likely serve a prison sentence before being turned back to ICE for detention and removal.

Next: The Widening Net Posted by Tom Barry at 10:28 PM Labels: Making the Connection

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mandatory Service

German youth praising Hitler
Senate Rubber Stamps National Enslavement Bill
(Whats coming up for the American people)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Senate last night rubber stamped a nightmare domestic draft bill that legislates mandatory national service and creates an “army” of at least 7 million civilian enforcers working at the the behest of the government, while also containing language that threatens to ban free speech and the right to protest.

Last week, we reported on the House passage of the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act, which was carried with a 321-105 margin vote.

A passage contained in section 6104 of the original House version entitled “Duties,” in subsection B6, states that a commission will be set up to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” This language has been dropped from the version passed by the Senate.

However, Section 120 of the bill discusses the “Youth Engagement Zone Program” and states that “service learning” will be “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.” This part remains in the version passed by the Senate.

Roles which will be staffed by members of the programs, labeled “Required National Service Corps,” include “criminal justice,” “environmental stewardship,” and “public safety”.

Aside from the programs aimed at college students and young people, others will be specifically targeted towards, “Retired and other former law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency personnel, and other individuals with backgrounds in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery.”

The bill was rubber stamped by the Senate last night in a 74 to 14 motion, in what is described as a “procedural vote,” a move that creates “An army dispersed to help with education, health services and the environment, (which) would vastly enlarge the notion of “community organizing,” and allow, as Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, said tonight, for about 7 million people to be engaged in such work,” reports the New York Times.

The Senate will meet tomorrow morning to formally ratify the bill and finalize amendments. Call your Senator and demand that at least the mandatory language contained in this bill be removed.

References to the program as the creation of a civilian “army” have dominated mainstream news coverage of the legislation.

7 million members of this civilian “army” equates to about one member for every 50 Americans, a similar figure to the number of East Germans who collaborated with the Stasi and informed on their own citizens during the cold war.

The GIVE Act is just one of many pieces of legislation that vastly expand service organizations in line with Obama’s agenda to create a “national civilian security force”.

In January we also reported on the introduction by the Department of Defense of a “civilian expeditionary workforce” that will see American civilians trained and equipped to deploy overseas in support of worldwide military missions.

The DoD report states, “Management retains the authority to direct and assign civilian employees, either voluntarily, involuntarily, or on an unexpected basis to accomplish the DoD mission.”

Though the civilian expeditionary workforce program is restricted to DoD employees, similar programs have already been established for public sector workers.

One such program has seen hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and utility workers recently trained and dispatched as “Terrorism Liaison Officers” in Colorado, Arizona and California to watch for “suspicious activity” which is later fed into a secret government database.

Similar initiatives have been introduced in other western countries, including recently in the UK with the announcement that MI5 is currently training up to 60,000 UK citizens as part a civilian network of terrorist spotters, according to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and home secretary, Jacqui Smith.

In addition, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, publicly stated his intention to help create “universal civil defense training” in 2006.

In an interview with Ben Smith of the New York Daily News, Emanuel outlined the agenda for military-style training, essentially a domestic draft, aimed at preparing Americans for a chemical or biological terrorist attack.

Asked by Smith about the universal service plan and whether people would have to live in military barracks, Emanuel laughed before responding, “We’re going to have universal civil defense training, somewhere between the ages of 18 to 25 you will do three months of training….but there can be nothing wrong with all Americans having a joint similar experience of what we call civil defense training or civil service in service of the country, in preparation, which will give people a sense of what it means to be an American.”

“It will be a common experience and we will be prepared, God forbid, God forbid that there is a chemical hit, another terrorist act or natural disaster becoming more frequent - there’ll be a body of citizens who are ready and capable and trained - that’s all you have to think about,” said Emanuel before smugly declaring, “We’re all here for you OK? It’s a circle of love.”

Asked if the training would be military style, with people wearing uniforms, Emanuel stated, “If you’re worried about are you going to have to do 50 jumping jacks the answer is yes,” adding that the service could be done through state national guard.

Shockingly, the GIVE legislation also contains language that could completely demolish the 1st amendment.

The 12th amendment to the act states, “Amendment to prohibit organizations from attempting to influence legislation; organize or engage in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes; and assist, promote, or deter union organizing.”

As Gary Wood writes, “Those in support of this legislation will argue this amendment is limited in scope and is not meant to interfere with the rights of citizens to protest, petition, boycott, or strike in resistance to government proposed laws. However, the people associated through service under the GIVE Act are considered volunteers, still free citizens, yet it will be unlawful for them to take part in any protests against any legislation. This is as close to a sedition act, a violation of 1st Amendment rights, as has been proposed in recent history. A basic right as a part of our natural, inalienable rights, is to resist government. Our founders not only knew it was a right but it was a responsibility. This legislation begins to break that down significantly.”

Fears about Obama’s plans to create involuntary servitude and domestic spy squads were first stoked in July 2008, when Obama told a rally in Colorado Springs, “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”

Despite denials that Obama plans to institute a mandatory program of national service, his original change.gov website stated that Americans would be “required” to complete “50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year”. The text was only later changed to state that Americans would be “encouraged” to undertake such programs.

Numerous other national service bills have been introduced which target everyone from schoolchildren to the elderly. They include the Service For All Ages Initiative, the Summer of Service Act, the Semester of Service Act, the Encore Service Act and the ACTION Act.

Regarding the GIVE Act, “The bill’s opponents — and there are only a few in Congress — say it could cram ideology down the throats of young “volunteers,” many of whom could be forced into service since the bill creates a “Congressional Commission on Civic Service,” reports Fox.

“We contribute our time and money under no government coercion on a scale the rest of the world doesn’t emulate and probably can’t imagine,” said Luke Sheahan, contributing editor for the Family Security Foundation. “The idea that government should order its people to perform acts of charity is contrary to the idea of charity and it removes the responsibility for charity from the people to the government, destroying private initiative.”

Lee Cary of the conservative American Thinker warns that Obama’s agenda is to, “tap into the already active volunteerism of millions of Americans and recruit them to become cogs in a gigantic government machine grinding out his social re-engineering agenda.”

The passage of such shocking legislation with barely a whimper from political activist groups goes to show how well the corporate media has performed in camouflaging the legislation with flowery characterizations of helpful volunteerism, when in reality the bill creates the pretext for mandatory national service and the creation of a multi-million man domestic civil defense unit who will be tasked with spying on their fellow Americans under the justification of protecting the country from terrorism.

Paul Joseph Watson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Agent Orange Again

Ignoring Health Concerns in Nuevo Laredo, US Border Patrol Will Spray 1.1 Miles of Border Land with Chemical Herbicide
Frontera NorteSur
March 21, 2009

In the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed vast tracts of land with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange as part of a counter-insurgency strategy aimed at removing forest cover for Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. Although the toxic dioxin released by Agent Orange was later blamed by US veterans’ groups and Vietnamese officials for illnesses and diseases that struck thousands of former US soldiers and upwards of four million Vietnamese citizens, the US Supreme Court recently refused to consider a case by pursued by Vietnamese plaintiffs against the manufacturers of Agent Orange.

Four decades later, on the US-Mexico border, the US Border Patrol intends to employ a chemical herbicide in order to eradicate stands of the Carrizo cane, an invasive plant that grows as tall as 30 feet and provides convenient cover for undocumented border crossers and smugglers. The variety of Carrizo cane that is common in the Laredo-Del Rio borderlands is from the region of Valencia, Spain.

Possibly beginning next week, the US Border Patrol could commence aerial herbicide spraying along a slice of the Rio Grande between the twin cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. The experimental spraying would cover an area that stretches 1.1 miles between the Laredo Railroad Bridge and Laredo Community College directly across from Mexico, said Roque Sarinana, public affairs officer for the Border Patrol’s Laredo sector.

In addition to aerial spraying of the herbicide Imazapyr, the Border Patrol will employ hand-cutting and mechanical methods that involve applying the killer chemical at ground-level, Sarinana told Frontera NorteSur in an a phone interview. Getting rid of Carrizo cane should improve the Border Patrol’s “line of sight up and down the river, ” Sarinana said.

Depending on weather conditions, the first dustings of Imazapyr could begin March 25, Sarinana confirmed. “As of now, that’s the plan,” he said.

Concerned about risks to public health from possible herbicide spray drift, runoff and leaching, officials from the city government of neighboring Nuevo Laredo are steadfastly opposed to aerial spraying. “I’ve always been respectful of the law and sovereignty,” said Nuevo Laredo Mayor Ramon Garza Barrios. “But herbicides that affect health in both countries can’t be sprayed.”

Mayor Garza’s stance is supported by other elected and appointed officials in Mexico. On Thursday, March 19, the Tamaulipas State Legislature issued a statement requesting information about the proposed spraying from the Mexican and US sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission as well as Mexican federal agencies.

The zone targeted for spraying is across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo’s Hidalgo neighborhood and only hundreds of yards from the Mexican city’s public water intake system.

Carlos Montiel Saeb, general manager for Nuevo Laredo’s water utility, said the Border Patrol advised his office to turn off water pumps a few hours prior to spraying. “If there is no problem, why are they asking us to do this?” Montiel questioned.

Border Patrol spokesman Sarinana said he had not seen a written objection from Mayor Garza, but stressed it did not mean other US officials had not received a letter. “This is all in the works, so we’ll see what happens,” Sarinana said, adding the Border Patrol plans on releasing a more detailed statement about the future of the Carrizo cane project.

Opposition to the Border Patrol’s aerial spraying plans is likewise growing in Laredo, Texas. The two sides turned out to a March 16 meeting of the Laredo City Council in which elected officials narrowly approved by a controversial 5-4 vote an easement for the US government on city property targeted for spraying.

Jay J. Johnson Castro, Sr., executive director of the Rio Grande International Studies Center at Laredo Community College told Frontera NorteSur the planned aerial spraying caught residents off guard. The aerial applications could threaten more than 1,000 bird and other species at a time when spring hatchings begin and migratory birds are still in the area, Johnson said by phone from his office. The Border Patrol’s Carrizo Cane Eradication Project abuts a nature trail running near the community college, Johnson lamented.

“Nobody knows the impact of Imazapyr,” Johnson contended. “It’s no different than Agent Orange.” Citing the program’s environmental assessment, Johnson said aerial spraying could eventually extend along a strip of river bank 16 miles upriver from the pilot project zone. Despite the potential magnitude of the project, the Border Patrol did not gather local input as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, Johnson charged.

Like virtually all chemical pest control agents, lack of complete public information and multiple, contradictory reports surround the history of Imazapyr, a substance first registered in 1984 and currently manufactured under the trade name Habitat by the multinational BASF corporation.

A fact sheet prepared by the Washington State Department of Agriculture reported Imazapyr was “low in toxicity to invertebrates and practically non-toxic to fish, birds and mammals.” Still, the fact sheet reported Imazapyr was highly mobile and persistent in soils.

In 2007, BASF spokesman Joel Vollmer told the press his company’s Imazapyr product was widely used in wildlife refuges across the US and along the Pecos River and its tributaries to control salt cedar, another troublesome, invasive plant species afflicting the US Southwest.

Public controversies over Imazapyr applications have previously erupted in Alaska, California and Colombia, where experimental use of the herbicide to control illegal coca plantings was approved in 2000. A report on the chemical’s history developed for the non-governmental group Alaska Community Action on Toxics said evidence existed that identified imazapyr as a contaminant of soil, groundwater and surface water. Imazapyr also contains an acid that can irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory system, the report stated. According to the report’s authors, additional evidence linked the herbicide to Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms.

In developing its Carrizo cane aerial spraying project, the Border Patrol ignored studies by Laredo Community College researchers that examined different means of killing off the invasive species, Johnson charged.

“We are not opposed to the eradication of Carrizo,” he affirmed. “We think it has to go because it consumes about 500 gallons of water per meter and chokes out native vegetation.”

At the federal level, Department of Homeland Security-sponsored researchers earlier explored using biological controls, including wasps, to control Carrizo cane.

US officials have been urging a Carrizo cane eradication program for some time. In 2007, US Representative Henry J. Cuellar (D-Tx) called the tall, thirsty plant a national security issue. Quoted in the news media, Rep. Cuellar said then-Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had been to the border to get a first-hand look at the Carrizo cane foe. The Laredo Congressman assured the press officials were “looking at what is the fastest, safest way to address the effectiveness of addressing this issue of Carrizo.”

With the clock ticking, Johnson and a growing network of activists on both sides of the border are lobbying high officials to prevent aerial spraying before it occurs.

In an e-mail, longtime border environmental advocate and Sierra Club activist Bill Addington contended spraying would violate the 1983 La Paz accord between the United States and Mexico that requires mutual notification in the event of projects impacting the environment within a 60 mile radius on either side of the border.

“We considering all democratic options-court actions, political protests, media attention,” Johnson added. “We expect our message to be heard by the environmentally-friendly Obama administration. This is too unprecedented to aerially spray a toxic chemical in a densely-populated area.”

Meanwhile, word of the planned herbicide spraying is spreading fast in the two Laredos. Interviewed on the banks of the Rio Grande, a 26-year-old Honduran migrant told the Mexican press he intended to cross into the US without papers before spraying commenced. “They say they will put poison into the river,” said Walter Hernandez. “That’s why I want to cross before then.”

Mario Garcia, a Mexican national who frequents the Rio Grande on the Nuevo Laredo side with his sons, also expressed concern to a Mexican reporter. “I frequently come to fish in the area,” Garcia said. “With what degree of confidence are we going to eat a fish if we know it is contaminated?”

In response to an article about the Imazapyr controversy in the Laredo Morning Times, several readers sent pointed e-mails to the news publication that proposed solutions to the Carrizo cane issue or, as is increasingly the case with border news web sites, used the immediate topic at hand to vent ideological broadsides on issues of race, the environment and US-Mexico relations.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Israeli Fashion 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Danger Of Obama


I was talking with one of my sons a few days ago; the one who is a world traveler,very leftist in idea and thought.
As usual ,when He and I speak,the conversation soon turned to politics, and other world plagues.
I began my usual rant about the USA,capitalism , Communism,and all the other ism's I could recall at the moment.
My son,or so I thought and am still convinced of, is very progressive(left to fellow USA'ers).
You can imagine my shock and horror when he said how good of a man Baruch Obama is,and how he is going to change this country and the world. My first response to him,when I regained my ability to speak,was"But the bombs are still falling!Gitmo is still open! There is still a boycott on Cuba.
How is he different then George Bush?" His only response was," But Obama is such a nice guy. We need to give him a chance. Rome wasn't built in a day."
That is when I realized just how dangerous Obama really is. He is dangerous because he is a nice guy. I would not mind playing a game of hoops with him. He is a very likable person.
For a good part of my life I was an insurance salesman. I was very successful,and made a very good income doing it. The reason was not because of any secret technic,or training. The reason of my success was that I was a very likable person and people trusted me. Everyone assumed that because I was likable, I was also trustworthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was out to make every dollar I could, any way I could, and that meant I had to sell everyone all the insurance that was possible to sell them. No matter if they needed it,no matter if they could afford it,no matter if they ever collected a dime on it or not. My aim was to Sell,Sell,Sell.
The only reason for this confession,is as an example of how dangerous a very likable enemy can be. When W was in office,most knew him for what he was. Not many trusted him at all. He had very few friends,and look what he managed without friends and the help of the people of the world. It is not hard to imagine just how much more Obama can do with the world loving him as it does.
The last thing the mouse saw was the smiling face of the grinning cat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Salt of The Earth

In 1956, during the hysteria and "Americanism" of the Cold War and McCarthyism, blacklisted filmmakers united to create the impressively controversial labor film Salt of the Earth, despite severe pressure from McCarthy and the U.S. government.

Salt of the Earth depicts an emotionally moving portrait of human tenacity and courage that was echoed in real life by the struggles of its creators. The movie is based on a 1950 strike by zinc miners in Silver City, New Mexico. Amidst an environment of social injustice, a family drama is played out by the characters of Ramon and Esperanza Quintero, a Mexican American miner and his wife.

In the evolution of the strike, Ramon and Esperanza go through a severe role reversal: an injunction against the male strikers forces the women to take over the picket line, leaving the men to handle the domestic duties. The female characters evolve from men's inferiors into their allies and equals.

The movie received the Karlovy Vary and The Grand Prix de Acadamie du Cinema de Paris. The film was chosen by The Library of Congress as one of 100 American films to be preserved for posterity.

Shown below in 10 Parts


Link to Wikipedia Article
[Thank you to a Further Left Chat Room member for this]

Poll Result

The results of the poll this Forum had been running are shown by the graphic below.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drug War Lost

USA Loses the War
against Latin American Drug Cartels

Nil Nikandrov, http://en.fondsk.ru

Staying at the baggage zone at the airport in Mexico City I was one of the passengers flying in from Venezuela who watched the local police drug unit catching a large cargo of drugs. Wearing black uniforms and masks, the agents rolled out of the baggage section not less than 40 quite sizeable identically-looking valises for all of us to see. I thought then: «Well done! It must be more than a tonne of cocaine!» The next day Mexican newspapers informed that the cargo was to be received by some Maria Rojas from Venezuela who never turned up at the airport that day. Later I came to realize the gist of the «drug show» performed for us as the audience…

The United States is set to resort to most extreme measures to fight Latin American drug cartels. Their main unit is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is lavishly financed (with official budget amounting to $2.5 billion), has a staff of6,000 to 7,000 special agents having at its disposal electronic equipment to trace drug routes, hundreds of aircraft and high-speed sea vessels and a powerful media machinery. It also relies on collaboration agreements with similar services in about 65 countries.

These agreements as often as not ensure DEA’s privileges to conduct «joint operations» against drug traffickers jointly with others. But even relying on the above the DEA management when US strategic interests are at stake, it is ready to violate the restrictive clauses of these agreements without hesitation. The covert goals of DEA activities can be easily sensed. They include interception of drug money flows and liquidation of unwelcome competitors that spring up to existence at the endless spaces of this profitable business. DEA primarily strikes at those drug mafia organisations that act against its interests. But how much did it achieve in the last several years?

Among its priorities in the last decade Washington declared launching a «crusade» against the cartels in Columbia, the epicenter of the drug business in the Western hemisphere. By implementing its «Plan Columbia» DEA management hoped to get control of the top positions in drugs organizations to use them for the ongoing «operative expansion.» Alongside this they had other tasks: destruction of the leftist Marxist guerilla groups in Columbia; pushing a segment of the Columbian drug business to Venezuela, then to Ecuador to discredit the governments of Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa, and vindicating deployment of new US military bases in the region.

Starting from 1999 US Congress earmarked not less than $6 billion to fulfill «Plan Columbia», but with lamentable outcomes. Columbia’s drug business, «independent» from the DEA increased its coca sowing land by 26% in 2008, increasing production of cocaine at its secret laboratories by 16%. «The Plan» aimed to halve the annual «production» of cocaine to 300 tonnes. It failed, as the figure 600 tonnes was quoted in many analytical documents on Columbia in 2008-2009.

The collapse of «Plan Columbia» affected the general process of transfer of hallucinogens from Latin America to the USA and Europe most negatively. The double standards of the US anti-drug service in its war on drug business were taken by the organised crime as some sort of a cart-blanche to boost their activities by using more sophisticated methods of supplying «drug commodities», winning new markets and further expanding the armies of consumers.

Supplies of Columbian drugs to the US «consumer markets» began to grow. Most often the countries of Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico were used as channels to deliver cocaine, heroine and marijuana. DEA experts and its mouthpieces made their best to prevent «international public» from taking a closer look at these routes. It was more profitable for politicians to use the theme of drug trafficking to attack leftist regimes. DEA offices in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other «ideologically unfriendly» countries emphasized the problems of fighting drug-trafficking to create a false image of the governments that US administration viewed as unwelcome, accusing them of covert protection of «narcoguerillas» and engaging in «drug business.» DEA agents tried to put to doubt efficiency of anti-drug agencies in these countries, often deliberately preventing them from performing their activities. The situation was so evident that Latin Americans could not help but start acting. Hugo Chavez was the first to terminate DEA activities in Venezuela. Bolivian president Evo Moralez followed the example. In Ecuador Rafael Correa is going to close this year the base in Manta, which Americans refer to as a regional drug traffic control centre.

Speaking at the National Police Academy the Bolivian leader gave an extremely precise assessment of cooperation with Americans, saying: «The worst thing was the DEA did not fight drug dealers but rather encouraged them.» And things went this way in all the 30 years DEA acted in Bolivia. Moralez recalled that Americans used the revenues from Bolivian cocaine sales to finance «the dirty war» of «contras» units in Central America. DEA controlled and protected virtually all large cocaine «factories» in Santa Cruz. Another scandal broke out when anti-drug agents supported the transfer of 4 tonnes of cocaine by air from Bolivia to the United States in 1995. Later this sort of things became their usual procedure vindicated by motivation of the need to maintain «test supplies» with an eye at identifying the traffic channels used by narcotics mafia. In 2003 with the help of Bolivia’s Department of Financial Investigators in La-Paz DEA began to study personal bank accounts of Evo Moralez, David Chokeuanki, Marcel Cesada and other leftist India bloc politicians who were beginning to muster clout and influence. Attempts of patriotically- minded military and police officers to make relevant facts public not infrequently resulted in their harassment if not physical destruction.

DEA’s painstaking care of ensuring reliable «controllable» channels of drug trafficking to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean countries resulted in the emergence in the region of firmly consolidated mafia groups that worked under the DEA’s protection but never failed to see to their own commercial interests. Their corruption potential was so big that many DEA officials began and still continue to turn into double dealers. Statistics of inner investigations show the growth of this trend, the traitors are put behind bars or dismissed, but there are more and more successful «narcotics businessmen» who rely on their knowledge of the results of the latest DEA advanced techniques.

In Mexico for one, the critical level of narcomafia’s degrading influence on all aspects of social life has reached such heights that it now is no longer possible to disregard it. President F.Calderon had to play the part of a «dirt consumer», declaring he would make fighting for «public security» his priority. Indeed, he got down to business seriously but in the end, after two years of bitter struggle against «the drug underground» in all parts of the country he failed to achieve a decisive reversal of the situation. Mexican police stations now look like the «Atlantic Barrage Line» erected during the second world war. Grenade-thrower shootouts, attacks with the use of the latest automatic weapons and the tactic of «narco-commando» attacks on army columns and police check-points are now quite matter-of-fact.

Nearly 6,000 casualties of the deadly warfare waged by the narcotics cartels against prevention activities of law enforcement agencies and army units were registered in Mexico in 2008. The ominous statistics of the «drug war» reports in Mexico is way ahead of the losses of the «expedition force» in Iraq. Experts do not exclude that US special services, and primarily DEA deliberately provoke conflicts between «uncontrollable cartels» in Mexico in order to prevent them from crossing into the United States and establishing themselves there.

Chief suppliers of weapons for Mexican narcotics cartels are businessmen linked with the US military an industrial complex. US-made weapons kill people outside Mexico, too. Militants of Columbia’s semi-military organisations also value it as well as the rightist extremists in Venezuela, and criminal communities in Latin America. Not a single US supplier of smuggled weapons has ever been jailed. Its justice is on the lookout for the culprits wherever possible except at home. It would only be appropriate to recall the story of Viktor But, a Russian citizen whom US blames of every deadly sin including supplies of arms to Columbia. Indeed, that country has stockpiles of modern small arms and other weapons. But up to 90% of it is made in the USA! If one stumbles upon a Kalsahnikov assault gun, it would either be a clone made in China or Bulgaria. The leaders of law enforcement structures and the Attorney General prepared an analytical report for President Calderon dealing with illegal US arms trade with Mexico. The report has proof that the members of cartels Golfo, Sinaloa, Tjuana and others receive large consignments of US weapons on a regular basis. Most often these weapons are used by group of professional killers known in Mexico as «Zetas» that are actually combat units of narcotics cartels.

Anti-tank missiles and grenade-throwers of the latest design were found in the arsenals of narcotics cartels, as well as thousands of hand grenades, 28,000 units of small arms and 3.5 million pieces of different ammunition. According to experts that only one-tenth of the arms owned by Mexican cartels that act in close cooperation with their North American colleagues has been disclosed.

Predictions say that the drug war in Mexico would continue to become more intensified, more and more often crossing its borders. It has already felt in Guatemala in the south and left victims in all Central American states. Columbian and Mexican drug dealers continue to explore the South American continent. In the north the Mexican drug war keeps the forces of law enforcement alerted at the trans-border US territory. Relevant bodies have even started debating the potential use of US army units to reinforce the most vulnerable segments of its state border. Experts are coming up with alarming forecasts. Mexican drug barons have everything they need to efficiently protect their interests up to unleashing an asymmetric warfare in the United States, where local narcotics businessmen and consumers of hallucinogens in the upper echelons of power have long been acting as «the fifth column.»

The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy headed by ex-presidents of Mexico, Columbia and Brazil Ernesto Seilho, Cesar Gaviria and Fernando Enrique Cardozo have studied this problem for a year and published a report, in which without any reservation they acknowledged the total US defeat in the anti-drug war: «We find ourselves even farther than at any previous time from the declared goal of a total elimination of narcotics. Columbia is the best proof of this. For decades different ways of fighting it were used there, but the results are in no correlation with the spending. The same is true about «Merida Initiative» proclaimed in Mexico as a tool of fighting narcotics business in Mexico.» The recommendations of the Commission are of a general nature, and one of them was more than once voiced in the past, calling to boost the fight against drugs in the basic consumer European countries and the United States.

Now is the time to recall the «drug show» at the Mexico City airport. DEA tried to present the capture of the valises with cocaine as a successful joint operation of the United States and Mexico aimed at severing «the Venezuelan channel» of supplies, allegedly meaning to show that after the Bolivarian government with no sufficient grounds terminated its collaboration with DEA, the results are there for all to see. It showed how brazen their narco-dealers have become to be able to act almost openly. What other proofs would people need to see that the Chavez regime connives of the drug business?

Of course Venezuelan authorities responded to the accusations and began investigating the circumstances in relation to the use of Mexican flight for the transport of cocaine. It turned out that a number of Venezuelan National Guard officers acting as DEA agents had to do with that. We, ordinary passengers had to go through close searches and UV investigation throughout the entire process of boarding the plane, whereas DEA guards just taxied their jeep to the plane and without any obstacle loaded the cocaine valises into the cargo bay of our Boeing.

Still, the official investigation in Venezuela soon got into a deadlock. One of the people participating in the drug valise operation was soon found at the outskirts of Caracas peppered with bullets; others disappeared into thin air.

Has any of them survived? It is hard to tell. During the Bush administration’s stint both DEA and the CIA were licensed to play «games with no rules.» Will this licence be used under Barack Obama? It is hard to hope to get the truthful answer. But maybe it is not wise to trust agreements with cooperation with DEA without second thoughts. Dealing with this organisation there is always the danger of being framed up. Latin Americans had a lot of experience in this respect.

And The Women?

After Six Years, Some US troops Will Leave Iraq. But Where Are We Leaving Iraqi Women?

March 18, 2009 By Yifat Susskind

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If you haven't thought about the Iraq War as a story of US allies systematically torturing and executing women, you're not alone. Likewise, if you were under the impression that Iraqi women were somehow better off under their new, US-sponsored government.

In the spring of 2003, Fatin was a student of architecture at Baghdad University. Her days were filled with classes and hanging out in her favorite of Baghdad's many cafes, where she and her friends studied, shared music, and spun big plans for successful careers, happy marriages, and eventually, kids.

Today, Fatin says that those feel like someone else's dreams.

Soon after the US invasion, Fatin began seeing groups of bearded young Iraqi men patrolling the streets of Baghdad. They were looking for women like her, who wore modern clothes or were heading to professional jobs. The men screamed terrible insults at the women and sometimes beat them.

By the fall, ordinary aspects of Fatin's life had become punishable by death. The "misery gangs," as Fatin calls them, were routinely killing women for wearing pants, appearing in public without a headscarf, or shaking hands and socializing with men.

As the occupying power, the US was legally obligated to stop these attacks. But the Pentagon, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the militias' reign of terror.

In fact, some of the most treacherous armed groups belonged to the very political parties that the US had brought to power. By 2005, the Pentagon was giving weapons, money and military training to these Shiite militias, in the hope that they would help combat the Sunni-led insurgency.

Fatin's closest encounter with the militias occurred when armed men burst into her university classroom one morning, threatening to kill any female student without a head scarf. After that, young women dropped out in droves. The next semester, Fatin's parents refused to allow her to re-enroll.

While the Pentagon was arming militias bent on brutally ousting Iraqi women from public life, the US State Department was busy brokering the new Iraqi Constitution. Hailed as "progressive" and "democratic" in Washington, the new Constitution designates religious law, which discriminates against women, as the basis of all legislation. It also restricts women's rights by upending one of the most progressive family status laws in the Middle East-a law that Iraqi women fought for and won in 1959, before Saddam Hussein took power.

For Fatin, the bitter irony is that her new Constitution, courtesy of the USA, destroyed women's rights that were once guaranteed in Iraq, even under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

Fatin has now been out of school and unemployed for more than three years. Her mother, a pharmacist, and her aunt, trained as a veterinarian, have also been unemployed for years now and are too afraid to try to find work.

Here in the US, we've rarely heard the story of the Iraq War told from the perspective of women. So what are Iraqi women saying on the sixth anniversary of the US invasion? The same thing they've been saying since 2003: end the occupation. Polls consistently show that a majority of Iraqis want US troops out.

We've been told that if the US withdraws, violence would again soar in Iraq. That's a compelling argument for those of us who care about the suffering that the US has already visited on Iraqi women and their families. But Iraqis themselves, who have the best grasp of their security situation, say that US troops are causing, not confronting, violence. In multiple polls, most Iraqis say they would feel much safer without US troops.

Who can blame them? Since the invasion, over a million Iraqis have died violently and four million have been driven from their homes. The resources that women need to care for their families-electricity, water, food, fuel, and medical care-have become dangerously scarce, sometimes totally unavailable.

This week marks six years since the US invaded Iraq. In that time, women have not only faced with mounting violence-they have also organized a movement to confront US occupation and violence against women.

Looking for a way to speak out against the repression she witnessed, Fatin joined the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). In partnership with MADRE, an international women's human rights organization based in New York, OWFI has worked to promote women's human rights, creating a network of women's shelters to protect women fleeing violence.

The women of Iraq are creating the foundation on which a peaceful and just future will be built. It's time we started listening to them.

By Yifat Susskind, MADRE Communications Director. This op-ed was distributed by the American Forum.

El Salvador History

"The People United
Will Never Be Defeated"
Harry Targ
Monday, March 16, 2009

“It could be that the change we wanted for so long is possible this time” said a joyous Salvadoran woman after the election Sunday, March 15 of the FMLN (FarabundoMarti Liberation Movement) candidate for president. Mauricio Funes was the first FMLN candidate to defeat the rightwing Arena party in Salvadoran elections since the civil war in that country came to an end in a UN brokered ceasefire in 1992.

The most bloody face of the Salvadoran began in 1979, when a so-called reform coup was carried out by junior grade military officers to stop brutal violence against the people. But, in short order, reformers were forced out by hard line military dictators who launched a campaign of slaughter, targeting domestic and foreign “subversives” for assassination.Progressive reformers from some 80 mass organizations, the Democratic Revolutionary Front(FDR), joined forces with a coalition of revolutionaries, the FMLN, to defend the masses of landless peasants, factory workers, students, teachers, and health care workers from assassination, imprisonment, and dictatorship.

Over the decade of the 1980s, the FMLN gained control of regions of the country, establishing “zones of popular control,” where peoples’ assemblies could build rudimentary political institutions. But the FMLN never assembled sufficient forces to defeat the Salvadoran military, treasury police, death squads and other instrumentalities of the 2 percent of the population that controlled 60 percent of the land, the so-called “14 families.”

Throughout the eighties, sympathetic church people were slaughtered, from US nuns in 1979, to Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, to six Salvadoran Jesuit priests in 1989.

Perhaps the most egregious omission in recent stories in the mainstream US press concerning last Sunday’s elections was the fact that the decade of violence, killing 70,000 Salvadorans and causing hundreds of thousands to flee the country, was fully encouraged and supported by United States foreign policy. Nearly $2 billion of military aid flowed from the US treasury to El Salvador, about 100 US militaryadvisors were in country to direct the war effort against the people, and US soldiers and airmen provided logistical, radar and other support to the Salvadoran military in their war from neighboring Honduras. If the US had not taken sides and given its full resources to the dictators, and their “elected” officials from the Christian Democratic and then Arena parties, the FMLN and the mass organizations who had joined with them would have been victorious by 1984, saving thousands of lives.

Back in the United States CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador, created a national organization with over 100 chapters in cities and towns. CISPES members marched, rallied, lobbied Congress, raised money for sister city projects in the zones of popular control, and in other ways tried to show the people of El Salvador that there were Americans who opposed military dictatorship andgrotesque economic inequality in their country. CISPES stood against US imperialism in Central America.

When CISPES members marched to the chant of “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” they did not realize how long the struggle might take. The election of Mauricio Funes, however, does confirm that what was being chanted may in fact be coming true.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Failed State?

Mexico, Pakistan, and the So-Called “Failed State
Washington's War on "Narco-Terrorism"

by Shamus Cooke
Global Research, March 14, 2009

Are Mexican drug cartels a threat to the United States? This is an easy conclusion to make after reading most mainstream U.S. newspapers. Hardly a day goes by without sensational stories about “broad daylight” gun battles, heart-wrenching interviews with weeping mothers, and praise for the Mexican army in its “war” against “narco-terrorists.”

Interestingly, Mexico has lately been compared to Pakistan as a country “on the verge” of becoming a “failed state,” with the Mexican drug cartels accused of playing the same “destabilizing” role as the Taliban/terrorists in Pakistan. Calling such a comparison a stretch would be a gross understatement, of course.

There is in fact a real connection between Mexico and Pakistan that’s worth discussing, though you’d never hear it mentioned in the mainstream media. Both countries have governments that are virtual pawns of the U.S. and, as such, are having a difficult time with their native populations as they attempt to please their real bosses — U.S. mega-corporations and rich investors.

And these bosses can be demanding. For example, in Pakistan the U.S. dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) is demanding that Pakistan privatize state-owned banks, railways, power plants, water, insurance, factories, etc. — so that U.S. corporations and investors can buy them at discount rates for private profit.

In Mexico, the same U.S. groups are lustfully eyeing Mexico’s number one source of national revenue: the state oil company (PEMEX). Mexican companies and natural resources had already been gobbled-up by U.S. corporate vultures long before NAFTA came into effect, though this trade agreement intensified the trend, making it a good place to begin if one is to have any understanding of the current political situation in Mexico.

NAFTA is in fact more than a trade agreement, it’s a trade bloc, the size of which rivals the European Union as the world’s largest. A trade bloc is essentially an agreement between countries on economic integration, which inevitably includes varying levels of political and military agreements. Also, every trade bloc has a dominant member — which in NAFTA’s case is the U.S.

When NAFTA was enacted, a new flood of U.S. corporate and private investment flooded into Mexico, requiring that this money be well protected. For the international investor, political instability of any kind is bad for business. This is in fact why NAFTA was extended into the “Security and Prosperity Agreement,” which provides U.S. security (military) aid to protect the NAFTA-created prosperity (investments) inside of Mexico.

In speaking of security and foreign investment, The World Bank’s website says:
“We act as a potent deterrent against [foreign] government actions that may adversely affect investments. And even if disputes do arise, our leverage with host governments frequently enables us to resolve differences to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.” Such security is ultimately guaranteed by the U.S. military.

U.S. investors had a valid fear that their investments in Mexico needed extra protecting. Social inequalities in the country have been intensifying for years, and the poor’s standard of living has continued to deteriorate. This deterioration promised to continue because of the extremely fragile Mexican economy, which was especially vulnerable for the following reasons:

1) Commodities coming in from the U.S. because of NAFTA promised to out-compete and destroy Mexican farmers and businesses.
2) Mexico is highly dependent on high oil prices that have since plummeted.
3) Mexico is highly dependent on U.S. foreign investors whose investments have tapered off (because of the recession)
4) Mexican exports to the U.S. – 80% of its total exports — have sharply declined because of U.S. workers’ inability to consume them.
5) Remittances from Mexicans living in the U.S. have dropped sharply due to the recession.

This economic situation promised that the Mexican working class would be pushed into desperation, and that police-state measures would be needed to control them, since they might demand that U.S. owned corporations in Mexico should instead be used for ordinary Mexicans. Those who didn’t emigrate to escape the crumbling economy would likely rise up.

The first uprising in Mexico began like clockwork, on the day NAFTA was enacted in 1994, led by the Zapatista movement. The Zapatistas were protesting the inevitable effects NAFTA would have on Mexico, though especially the widening of economic inequalities, privatization, and the negative impacts of “free trade” with the more powerful U.S. economy.

U.S. investors demanded that the movement be crushed, and the crushing is still going on today, including a horrific list of human rights abuses by the Mexican military and federal police — the same people that the U.S. media is daily praising.

Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, writes how the Mexican army has recently used its “war on drugs” as an excuse to repress the Zapatista movement, among others.

The current President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, first announced the “war on drugs” in circumstances that led many to question his motives. For example, millions of people in Mexico rightly believe that Calderon stole the 2006 election. The resulting mass protests destabilized his incoming government, forcing him to be sworn in under conditions of secrecy.

At the same time, an extraordinary uprising in the state of Oaxaca led to a people’s government headed by a democratically elected Popular Assembly (APPO). To ensure the incoming president a somewhat stable beginning — as well as assuring corporate investments in Oaxaca remained untouched — exiting President Vincente Fox turned to the Mexican Federal Police to crush the movement, using the proven tactics of paramilitary squads; “disappearances,” assassinations, illegal detentions, etc. (between 2007 and 2008, 1,602 such incidents of human rights violations were officially reported to the government’s National Commission on Human Rights).

It was under these conditions that President Felipe Calderon declared his “war on drugs.” His motive was not only to distract the public away from his illegitimate presidency, but also, as the Mexican newspaper El Univeral shamelessly pointed out:
“The challenge for Calderón is not just in Oaxaca… the federal government is going to have to intervene if they don’t want to see movements like the one in Oaxaca in several states."

And intervene they have. This war has sent tens of thousands of Mexican army and federal police into the streets of Mexico, and violations of human rights have exploded in the process. In “Operation Chihuahua,” a major campaign in the “drug war,” the Mexican army rounded up political activists and opposition leaders who had previously led protests against NAFTA.

Another extreme violation of human rights occurred in the Mexican region of Atenco, where activists were targeted and tortured, and a whole community was terrorized by the Mexican federal police to crush opposition to government policy.

The logic is disturbing: “extraordinary measures” are supposedly needed to battle the Mexican “narco-terrorists.” These measures include not only the above-mentioned human rights violations, but the virtual destruction of basic constitutional rights. An apt comparison can be made to the U.S. government’s equally-ridiculous “war on terror,” which has also led to human and constitutional rights’ violations, while being based on similar motives.

In 2008 the ante was upped in Mexico. The Merida Initiative was passed in the US congress — also known as Plan Mexico (based on the similar “plan” in Colombia). This agreement adds billions of dollars in U.S. military aide to Mexico, including “counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, and border security.” Plan Mexico is in fact a mere extension of NAFTA’s “security and prosperity” agreement, but with a more blatant role for the U.S. military.

Recently Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, updated President Obama on the emerging security threat of Mexico, and the enhanced cooperation between the U.S. and Mexican militaries through Plan Mexico. This meeting happened after a week of U.S. media hysterics over “drug cartel violence spilling over into the U.S.”

Similar scare tactics were used to achieve public support for Plan Colombia, where billions of dollars of U.S. “aide” have helped militarize the country in the fight against “narco terrorists.” The results aren’t surprising: Colombia’s human rights record is the worst in the hemisphere while being the number one cocaine exporter in the world.

Colombia is a much-needed pawn of U.S. foreign policy in a region that despises past U.S. military and economic intervention. It should be noted that the only two openly right-wing governments in the region are Mexico and Colombia.

Ultimately, the accusation that a country has “failed” has been used as a pretext for U.S. military involvement. This is indeed the case for both Mexico and Pakistan, where corporations and investors work in tandem with puppet governments against the wishes of the population.

The possibility that such police state measures can be transferred to the United States is very real, especially because of the Bush-era destruction of civil liberties that Obama is unwilling to reconstruct, let alone talk about. If policies are not put into place that immediately help the newly-created millions of unemployed, un-insured, and recently homeless, social unrest will undoubtedly emerge, and the measures Bush created will be further used against the U.S. working class. In this case, the police and military may be used to “maintain order,” possibly under the guise of a “war on terror” or “war on drugs,” or another creative campaign.

Monday, March 16, 2009

American Freedom???

Illegal to Grow Own Food

Congress is about to make it illegal for Americans grow their own food, or for any farm not to purchase and use government mandated chemicals, additives, and pesticides on all food consumed in the United States, violations are subject to a $1,000,000 dollar fine.

HR 875
Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

(sponsored by Rosa DeLauro whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto)

(comments in italics)

SEC. 401. PROHIBITED ACTS. It is prohibited--

(1) to manufacture, introduce, deliver for introduction, or receive in interstate commerce any food that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe;

(growing an organic tomato in your backyard is now illegal)

(2) to adulterate or misbrand any food in interstate commerce;

(as is transporting your organic food to another state)

(3) for a food establishment or foreign food establishment to fail to register under section 202, or to operate without a valid registration;

(you are prohibited from growing a tomato in your backyard without purchasing a license then submitting to the following:)

(4) to refuse to permit access to a food establishment or food production facility for the inspection and copying of a record as required under sections 205(f) and 206(a);

(growing a tomato in your backyard without regular government inspections and the purchase and use of mandated chemicals and pesticides from government-approved suppliers)

(5) to fail to establish or maintain any record or to make any report as required under sections 205(f) and 206(b);

(failing to document compliance for all food you produce)

(6) to refuse to permit entry to or inspection of a food establishment as required under section 205;

(growing a tomato without submitting to search and seizure of your personal property)

(7) to fail to provide to the Administrator the results of testing or sampling of food, equipment, or material in contact with food, that is positive for any contaminant under section 205(f)(1)(B);

(growing a tomato without submitting samples to the government to test for mandated additives)

(8) to fail to comply with a provision, regulation, or order of the Administrator under section 202, 203, 204, 206, or 208;

(failure to do whatever you are told)

(9) to slaughter an animal that is capable for use in whole or in part as human food at a food establishment processing any food for commerce, except in compliance with the food safety law;

(same applies to farm animals)

(10) to transfer food in violation of an administrative detention order under section 402 or to remove or alter a required mark or label identifying the food as detained;

(failure to comply with any arbitrary restrictions placed on organically grown food)

(11) to fail to comply with a recall or other order under section 403; or

(12) to otherwise violate the food safety law.

(any reason the government wants to jail or fine you)

Lula on What Matters

The Future of Human Beings
is What Matters

By Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil.

For me, capitalism has never been an abstract concept. It is a real, concrete part of everyday life. When I was a boy, my family left the rural misery of Brazil’s north-east and set off for São Paulo. My mother, an extraordinary woman of great courage, uprooted herself and her children and moved to the industrial centre of Brazil in search of a better life. My childhood was no different from that of many boys from poor families: informal jobs; very little formal education. My only diploma was as a machine lathe operator, from a course at the National Service for Industry.

I began to experience the reality of factory life, which awoke in me my vocation as a union leader. I became a member of the Metalworkers’ Union of São Bernardo, in the outskirts of São Paulo. I became the union’s president and, as such, led the strikes of 1978-1980 that changed the face of the Brazilian labour movement and played a big role in returning democracy to the country, then under military dictatorship.

The impact of the union movement on Brazilian society led us to create the Workers’ party, which brought together urban and rural workers, intellectuals and militants from civil society. Brazilian capitalism, at that time, was not only a matter of low salaries, insalubrious working conditions and repression of the union movement. It was also expressed in economic policy and in the whole set of the government’s public policies, as well as in the restrictions it placed on civil liberties. Together with millions of other workers, I discovered it was not enough merely to demand better salaries and working conditions. It was fundamental that we should fight for citizenship and for a profound reorganisation of economic and social life.

I fought and lost four elections before being elected president of the republic in 2002. In opposition, I came to know my country intimately. In discussions with intellectuals I thrashed out the alternatives for our society, living out on the periphery of the world a drama of stagnation and profound social inequality. But my greatest understanding of Brazil came from direct contact with its people through the “caravans of citizenship” that took me across tens of thousands of kilometres.

When I arrived in the presidency, I found myself faced not only by serious structural problems but, above all, by an inheritance of ingrained inequalities. Most of our governors, even those that enacted reforms in the past, had governed for the few. They concerned themselves with a Brazil in which only a third of the population mattered.

The situation I inherited was one not only of material difficulties but also of deep-rooted prejudices that threatened to paralyse our government and lead us into stagnation. We could not grow, it was said, without threatening economic stability – much less grow and distribute wealth. We would have to choose between the internal market and the external. Either we accepted the unforgiving imperatives of the globalised economy or we would be condemned to fatal isolation.

Over the past six years, we have destroyed those myths. We have grown and enjoyed economic stability. Our growth has been accompanied by the inclusion of tens of millions of Brazilian people in the consumer market. We have distributed wealth to more than 40m who lived below the poverty line. We have ensured that the national minimum wage has risen always above the rate of inflation. We have democratised access to credit. We have created more than 10m jobs. We have pushed forward with land reform. The expansion of our domestic market has not happened at the expense of exports – they have tripled in six years. We have attracted enormous volumes of foreign investment with no loss of sovereignty.

All this has enabled us to accumulate $207bn (€164bn, £150bn) in foreign reserves and thereby protect ourselves from the worst effects of a financial crisis that, born at the centre of capitalism, threatens the entire structure of the global economy.

Nobody dares to predict today what will be the future of capitalism.

As the governor of a great economy described as “emerging”, what I can say is what sort of society I hope will emerge from this crisis. It will reward production and not speculation. The function of the financial sector will be to stimulate productive activity – and it will be the object of rigorous controls, both national and international, by means of serious and representative organisations. International trade will be free of the protectionism that shows dangerous signs of intensifying. The reformed multilateral organisations will operate programmes to support poor and emerging economies with the aim of reducing the imbalances that scar the world today. There will be a new and democratic system of global governance. New energy policies, reform of systems of production and of patterns of consumption will ensure the survival of a planet threatened today by global warming.

But, above all, I hope for a world free of the economic dogmas that invaded the thinking of many and were presented as absolute truths. Anti-cyclical policies must not be adopted only when a crisis is under way. Applied in advance – as they have been in Brazil – they can be the guarantors of a more just and democratic society.

As I said at the outset, I do not give much importance to abstract concepts.

I am not worried about the name to be given to the economic and social order that will come after the crisis, so long as its central concern is with human beings.

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