Saturday, April 30, 2005

Greg Palast on "Dollarized" Ecuador

New from Greg Palast:

Friday Apr 29, 2005

The equator is far more tacky than I imagined.

I'd taken time out from the state of siege in the capitol to take the twins on a quick holiday further up the Andes (or down, I don't know which).

Anyway, the Ciudad Centro del Mundo -- City at the Center of the World -- had loudspeakers on poles scratching out some Inca-cum-New Age Muzak.

It cost a dollar and a half US to stand on the planet's belly button -- that's a buck fifty in the local currency, too -- Ecuador's been "dollarized," which is why everyone is flat broke and in a bad mood and why Quechua women in bowler hats were screaming into the cameras, "TODO FUERA! TODO FUERA !" -- Everybody out! -- in front of the Presidential Palace. They didn't like their president last week -- the ladies in the bowler hats (about a hundred thousand of them) chased him to Brazil -- and they don't like the new one either. Or ANYONE. They want EVERYONE out. No more US dollarized governments that promise them water pipes and electricity and vaccinations for the kids.

They had no water, except what they could carry in jugs up the hill, and thirty dollar electric bills, when the few with jobs make a hundred a month, and no shots for the kids -- and they were all in a bad mood about it.

I wanted to tell them they are rich -- this nation, once a member of OPEC -- sits on 2 billion barrels of oil and probably a lot more according to the World Bank documents in my briefcase marked FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, Ecuador is required to pay 70% of its new oil money to foreign bondholders.
Man, he's good! No comment required. Click here to read the whole thing.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Humans Cause Global Warming

Scientists only thought so before. Now it's a certainty: Humans Cause Global Warming!

That's the one-line version of a new story on MSNBC, called 'Smoking gun' on humans and global warming claimed: NASA-led scientists say ocean data ties manmade emissions to warmer Earth.

The article gets a bit technical [wow! real science on a major media site!] and you can read it for yourself if you like, but if you're not technically inclined, you can skip the read and I'll try to explain what they're driving at.

Remember in school how they taught you to check your math? If you could do a problem two different ways and get the same answer, then you knew you were doing it right. Well, two groups of scientists studying the question in two different ways have reached the same answer. And that means they're both right.

In more technical terms, new practical research has confirmed previous theoretical work. That means the theory is correct. And the theory says Humans Cause Global Warming.

So now we can use it as a headline. Now we can tattoo it on our foreheads. Now we can scream it from the rooftops. Even in the USA.

And this is important because, even though everyone else in the world already seems to understand the connection between human activities and global warming, the current American administration hates science unless it agrees with the Bible, thinks that the American economy is more important than the global environment, and refuses to accept the notion that Humans Cause Global Warming.

Well guess what? They're wrong! Wrong again! They are wrong about Iraq, wrong about Social Security, wrong about Terry Schiavo, wrong about the so-called Nuclear Option, and ... oh man! Please don't get me started. They are wrong. Wrong again. Let's leave it at that.

On second thought: No, no, no, let's keep going. They are not just Wrong, they are Wrong On Purpose. They're not mistaken and they're not misled, they are deliberately lying. It's an expensive lie, for two reasons.

Do you have any idea how much money is being spent to perpetrate this deliberate lie? More than I make in a year? Ha! It's more than I will make in a lifetime!

Where does the money come from? And where does it? Take a guess! Then read this!

The second reason why it's an expensive lie? Take another guess! And read this!

Thanks to Raw Story for the link to the MSNBC article.


We haven't had a song in a while. All news and no music makes Winter Patriot a dull blogger.

This one's from Peter Gabriel.
Here Comes The Flood

When the night shows
the signals grow on radios
All the strange things
they come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction
we cannot even choose a side.

I took the old track
the hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
they were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
and as the nail sunk in the cloud,
the rain was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actor's gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn,
they'll use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

High-Ranking Officer Agrees With WP!!

Winter Patriot's lonely voice has found an echo in an unexpected place. Australian Brigadier Justin Kelly, the director-general of future land warfare, has confirmed what you [may have] read here very recently, namely that the so-called "war on terror" is phony. We have come to our conclusions by different means, which makes the agreement all the more remarkable. You can read more of Brigadier Kelly's comments here: Brigadier shocks and awes: there is no war on terrorism
The so-called global war on terrorism does not exist, a high-ranking army officer has declared in a speech that challenges the conventional political wisdom.

In a frank speech, Brigadier Justin Kelly dismissed several of the central tenets of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, saying the "war" part is all about politics and terrorism is merely a tactic.
How about that? Finally somebody on the inside is willing to admit what we have known all along.

Kelly expresses some other astonishingly candid thoughts in the article, but this is one of my favorites:
Brigadier Kelly said modern war could be defined as "conflict, using violent and non-violent means, between multiple actors and influences, competing for control over the perceptions, behaviour and allegiances of human population groups".

He said he found it interesting that "if you take out violence out of the first line, it's a description of politics".
Indeed it is!

Many thanks to Brigadier Justin Kelly for saying what needed to be said a long time ago.

Thanks also to the excellent Australian blog Bush Out (by Gandhi) for bringing this article to my attention.

Sibel Edmonds Holds The Keys

The official story of September 11, 2001, is in serious danger of coming apart. And Sibel Edmonds holds certain keys which could unlock sordid aspects of a long and very sordid tale. That's why she wasn't even permitted to attend her own hearing!
Washington -- April 25, 2005 -- -- Former FBI contract translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and her attorneys were ordered removed from the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse so that a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel could discuss her case in private with Bush administration lawyers.
What a remarkable woman! She manages to tell the truth -- a little bit at a time -- even while under a gag order. Please read the remainder of this article and see what you think of it.

I'd love to say more about it, but I've already told you everything I know. 9/11 was a hoax. And something at the very core of this country is rotten. I knew it a long time ago, and so did Sibel Edmonds. There's a big difference, though: she knows a lot more about it than I do.

The truth is going to come out, sooner or later.

Let's hope it's soon. And let's hope it's not too late.


Updated March 8, 2007. The previous version contained statements which I have recently learned were incorrect. I apologize for my error and for any inconvenience caused thereby.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Phony War On Terror

To properly fight the war on terror, it's not enough to identify the terrorists. You also have to decide whether they should be prosecuted or protected.

Confusing? Maybe. But that's the signal being sent by the Bush administration, and the signal is being sent over multiple channels simultaneously.

From the Washington Post: A Protected Friend of Terrorism
By Douglas Farah

Monday, April 25, 2005; Page A19

The Bush administration is touting the rule of law and democracy as priorities in its effort to create stability and defeat terrorism. Yet it remains curiously apathetic about the activities of one of the world's most notorious indicted war criminals, a man who is also an abettor of al Qaeda and Hezbollah. I am speaking of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who has not only escaped answering for his crimes so far but who may be given an opportunity to repeat them if the United States does not act.

It seems to matter little here that Taylor's efforts to escape justice may well succeed because of U.S. inertia. Indicted on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, Taylor poses a clear and present danger to West Africa and U.S. interests. Yet the State Department continues to respond to congressional inquiries with bland assurances that everything is fine and Taylor is no longer a problem. It's not true.

Unless Taylor is turned over quickly to the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone to stand trial, he will never face punishment for the crimes he committed in the region at the cost of tens of thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed. The mandate of the court, largely funded by the United States, expires at the end of the year. It was established to try those "most responsible" for the atrocities in Sierra Leone. Taylor is at the top of the list.

Taylor's were brutal, vicious crimes. For more than a decade he presided over forces that murdered, raped and mutilated children; they also abducted children to use them as cannon fodder. He created "Small Boys Units" made up of specially trained children who, while high on amphetamines, were used to raze villages and murder civilians. He trained and supplied the Revolutionary United Front in neighboring Sierra Leone, whose signature atrocity was hacking off the arms, legs and ears of civilians, many of them children.

Taylor also hosted diamond buyers from al Qaeda and Hezbollah for several years, allowing the two designated terrorist groups to earn and hide their wealth in an asset that is untraceable and easily convertible to cash.
Is that disgusting? There's much more. Click here if you dare. Meanwhile, mixed reviews for the Washington Post. One thumb up for running this story; the other thumb down for putting it on page 19.

But wait! There's even more. From Robert Parry, at Consortium News, comes a story that is possibly even more disturbing: The Bush Family's Favorite Terrorist
While the Bush administration holds dozens of suspected Muslim terrorists on secret or flimsy evidence, one of the world’s most notorious terrorists slipped into the United States via Mexico and traveled to Florida without setting off any law enforcement alarms.

Though the terrorist’s presence has been an open secret in Miami, neither President George W. Bush nor Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has ordered a manhunt. The U.S. press corps has been largely silent as well.

The reason is that this terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, was a CIA-trained Cuban whose long personal war against Fidel Castro’s government is viewed sympathetically by the two Bush brothers and their father. When it comes to the Bush family, Posada is the epitome of the old saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

The Bush administration – which has imprisoned Jose Padilla and other alleged Muslim “enemy combatants” without trial – has taken a far more lenient approach toward the 77-year-old Posada, who is still wanted in Venezuela for the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976 that killed 73 people. Posada also has admitted involvement in a deadly hotel bombing campaign in Cuba in 1997.
There's much more here, too, of course! Click this link to read the rest of it.

And now ... What can I tell you? If you still believe the so-called "war on terror" is legitimate, you need more than words. You need a slap across the head!

And The Horrors Continue...

What a surprise! Amnesty: Torture continuing in Iraq
Amnesty International has said there were signs of fresh torture and sexual abuse in Iraq by prison authorities.

The human rights group on Thursday also blasted the United States for failing to launch an independent probe into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a year after images of abused detainees first shocked the world.

"People around the world will be recalling the horrific images they saw a year ago and wondering what happened to those prisoners," Amnesty secretary-general Irene Khan said, pointing out that only a handful of low-ranking US soldiers had been prosecuted or disciplined over the outrage.

"But what was the role of those higher up, including for example, the US secretary of defence?" she demanded, referring to Donald Rumsfeld.
Why stop there? Let's get to the good questions: What was the role of the so-called president? What was the role of the new Attorney General? What was the role of the vice-president? Do you think they were unaware of what was going on? Do you think something like this could happen without their approval? Of course not!
Amnesty called for the anniversary of the publication of the photographs from Abu Ghraib "to be marked by the strongest condemnation of all forms of torture by the US and Iraqi governments".
I don't think anyone at Amnesty International should hold their breath waiting for that.

But how about "the strongest condemnation of all forms of torture" by a lowly and nearly frozen blogger? Would that help?

I didn't think so.

Thou Shalt Have Democracy!

But not too much of it!

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice continues her World Hypocrisy Tour, in which she meets with foreign leaders and tells them what they must do. How quaint.

From the BBC: Rice seeks Latam democracy drive
Arriving in Brazil, Ms Rice said the US wants to help Latin American countries follow a more democratic path.
Do you believe that?? Oh yeah! Sure you do! Because you'll believe anything!

Of course, if any Latin American country gets too much democracy, then the USA, champion and guarantor of true democracy all over the globe, might just have to undermine the process.

From myTELUS World News: U.S. military tried to turn Venezuelan trainees against government: Chavez
President Hugo Chavez says a longstanding military exchange program with the United States was cancelled because U.S. officers in Venezuela were attempting to turn the soldiers they were training against his government.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Lovers of freedom and democracy should watch Venezuela very carefully. But not like this:

AP reports: Chavez Says Americans Detained for Taking Pictures of Venezuelan Military Facility, Refinery
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that a woman linked to the U.S. military had been arrested while photographing a military installation, and several U.S. citizens were also arrested for taking pictures of a refinery, signs that the Washington may be plotting an invasion of his country.
Meanwhile, back in Brazil:
"Our job has to be as members of this hemisphere to pursue policies that give democracy a chance not just to hold elections but to then actually provide for its people," Ms Rice said.
It's a pity that nobody in the current administration is the slightest bit interested in doing such a job. But on the other hand, it's quite understandable. More than any previous administration, this one seems to reward loyalty over anything else. And to show loyalty to a vicious hypocrite, one must practice vicious hypocrisy. Expect more of the same.

Recent and related posts on this blog include:

Hugo Chavez and Venezuelan Democracy Under Threat
US Has Plans To Attack Hugo Chavez

Chavez Throws The Dice

Hugo Chavez In The News
Condoleeza Rice's World Hypocrisy Tour
It's Too Surreal
Hypocrisy Reigns In Washington
Endless Hypocrisy

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Endless Hypocrisy

In modern-day America, everything is political ... except politics!

From Time Magazine: Any Kerry Supporters On The Line? The Bush Administration punishes some Democrat backers
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign.


Those barred from the trip include employees of Qualcomm and Nokia, two of the largest telecom firms operating in the U.S., as well as Ibiquity, a digital-radio-technology company in Columbia, Md. One nixed participant, who has been to many of these telecom meetings and who wants to remain anonymous, gave just $250 to the Democratic Party. Says Nokia vice president Bill Plummer: "We do not view sending experts to international meetings on telecom issues to be a partisan matter.
International meetings are not the only things that have suddenly become a "political". Bush's appearances as "president" are being handled with all the openness of his appearances as a "candidate". From The Washington Post: GOP Volunteer Probed on Role at President's Speech: 3 Democratic Observers Were Ejected From Event
The U.S. Secret Service is investigating whether a Republican volunteer committed the crime of impersonating a federal agent while forcibly removing three people from one of President Bush's public Social Security events, according to people familiar with the probe.

The Secret Service this week sent agents to Denver to probe allegations by three area Democrats that they were ousted from Bush's March 21 event. The three did not stage any protest at the rally and were later told by the Secret Service they were removed because their vehicle displayed an anti-Bush bumper sticker.
This was far from an isolated event. Keeping intelligent people away from the president in public is a matter of White House policy, although, like everything else, including officially sanctioned torture, they blame it on others.
This is not the first time the White House has faced scrutiny for ousting critics from Bush appearances or trying to stack audiences with friendly Republicans.

In Fargo, N.D., earlier this year, a local newspaper reported more than 40 residents were put on a list of people who should not be let in the door; the White House blamed the incident on an overzealous volunteer.

Several people reported similar treatment at other Social Security rallies, as well as during the 2004 presidential campaign, when the Bush team reportedly required some people to sign forms endorsing Bush to get into the events, and removed dissenters.
On the other hand, when it comes to hardball politics, the hypocrite who lives in the Oval Office likes to pretend that all the major issues are apolitical. From CNN: Bush: Politics stalling Bolton vote
President Bush urged senators Thursday to "put aside politics" and confirm John Bolton as the country's new U.N. ambassador, calling him "the right man at the right time for this important assignment."

"Sometimes, politics gets in the way of doing the people's business," Bush said in a speech to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America convention in Washington.

"Take John Bolton, the good man I nominated to represent our country at the U.N.

"John's distinguished career and service to our nation demonstrates that he is the right man at the right time for this important assignment," Bush said.

"I urge the Senate to put aside politics and confirm John Bolton to the U.N."
First things first: What?? "Put aside politics and confirm John Bolton??? Did I read that right??? What could possibly be more political than an ambassadorship to the United Nations???

Next things next: Good man? Distinguished career? Service to our nation? Here's the best summary I have seen so far: Bolton: The Armageddon Man
Bolton [...] stands apart from the neoconservative camp because of his longtime association with moderate conservative James Baker and the close ties he had with Dixiecrat Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). Unlike most neocons, who stay removed from electoral politics, Bolton has repeatedly immersed himself in the mundane and often dirty politics of ensuring Republican Party electoral victories.

One political label that certainly fits Bolton is that of "hawk" or militarist. Like most other Bush administration officials, Bolton is a militarist who has never gone to war — which according to some detractors makes him a "chickenhawk." In his work in the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations, Bolton has become known as the right's most effective and strident opponent of the United Nations and all forms of global governance and international law not controlled by the U.S. government.
And not only that, but Bolton has a long history of involvement in very "apolitical" organizations and events.
From the start of his political career, Bolton has been a Republican Party loyalist. As a private attorney before joining the Reagan administration in 1981, he worked with Sens. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.). In the 1980s he participated in Republican Party efforts to beat back the voter registration campaigns organized by labor and black organizations. A veteran of Southern electoral campaigns, Bolton appealed to the racism of white voters and reprised his role in the 2000 presidential campaign.

Working closely with his former boss James Baker during the Florida recount following the contested 2000 presidential election, Bolton once again proved his allegiance to the party and polished his reputation as someone "who gets things done." As part of the Republican Party's legal team headed by former Secretary of State Baker — Bolton's boss during the George H.W. Bush administration — Bolton put his hard-ball approach to partisan politics to work. In a complimentary article on Bolton, the Wall Street Journal in July 2002 reported that Bolton's "most memorable moment came after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount, when Mr. Bolton strode into a Tallahassee library, where the count was still going on, and declared: 'I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the vote.'"
According to reports from Greg Palast, the assertion that the Supreme Court stopped the "recount" is an error, because there was never any recount. They stopped the count. The first count. The only count. Some votes were cast but never counted at all, let alone recounted. But I digress. Let's get back to the world of nonpartisan apolitics, shall we?
While publicly thanking Bolton for his services, Vice President-elect Cheney was asked what job Bolton would get in the new administration. "People ask what [job] John should get," Cheney said, "My answer is, anything he wants."
And now, for me, the only remaining question is: How apolitical can you get?

I was going to ask "How hypocritical can they get?", but then I remembered the answer, which is, of course, "There is absolutely no limit."

We haven't had any songs lately. Let's change that now.

This one was written by the late Lowell George and recorded by Little Feat.
Apolitical Blues

Well my telephone was ringing
And they told me it was Chairman Mao
Well my telephone was ringing
And they told me it was Chairman Mao
I don't care who it is
I just don't wanna talk to him now

I've got the a - I got the apolitical blues
Apolitical blues -- the meanest blues of all
I don't care if it's the unholy four, John Wayne and Dorothy Lamour
I just don't wanna talk to him now

Telephone was ringing
They told me, told me it was Chairman Mao
My telephone was ringing...
Do you hear it ringing? Do you hear it ringing?
Do you hear it ringing? All right!
I don't care who it is
I just don't wanna talk
I said I just don't wanna talk
I just don't wanna
I just don't wanna talk to him now

Read 'Em And Weep

This will not be pleasant, but I assure you it's necessary.

Read the following excerpts, and see if you can put two and two together:

Robert Kohler: Silent genocide: Depleted-uranium munitions are contaminating the world
[According to] former Livermore Labs geologist Leuren Moret .... depleted uranium turns into an infinitesimally fine dust after it explodes; individual particles are smaller than a virus or bacteria. And, “It is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person’s body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment.”

And DU dust is everywhere. A minimum of 500 or 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq. In terms of global atmospheric pollution, we’ve already released the equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs, Moret said.

The numbers are overwhelming, but the potential horrors only get worse. DU dust does more than wreak havoc on the immune systems of those who breathe or touch it; the substance also alters one’s genetic code.

Thus, birth defects are way up in Afghanistan since the invasion: children “born with no eyes, no limbs, tumors protruding from their mouths … deformed genitalia,” according to the tribunal report. This ghastly toll on the unborn — on the future — has led Mohammed Daud Miraki, director of the Afghan DU and Recovery Fund, to coin the term “silent genocide” to describe the effects of this horrific weapon.
Riverbend: Baghdad Burning: The Cruel Month...
The weather is warm now. We often turn on the ceiling fan (or panka) in an attempt to move around the muggy air. April is a month of fresh beginnings all over the world but in Iraq, April is not the best of months. April is a month of muggy warmth and air thick with dust and sand- and now of occupation. We opened the month with a dust storm that left the furniture in our houses sand-colored with an opaque layer of dust. We breathed dust, ate dust and drank dust for a few days. The air is clearer now but everything is looking a little bit diminished and dirty. It suits the mood.
What a mood! Diminished and dirty and extremely deadly. April may be a cruel month, even in "normal times". But these times are definitely not normal. Every month is cruel in Iraq now. How could it be otherwise, when there's depleted uranium everywhere?
We breathed dust, ate dust and drank dust...
And we know what was in that dust...

Even in our time of unrelenting doublespeak, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" must be the most cynical lie of all. The only "freedom" conferred upon Iraq by this operation will be "Freedom from Worrying about the Future".

It's this simple: When you're breathing, eating and drinking dust, and that dust contains depleted uranium, there's no point in worrying about the future. Because there is no future.

Read Bob Kohler. Read Riverbend. Read 'em and weep.

Every American, every Brit, every Australian, every citizen of any country involved in the so-called "coalition", who is not doing his or her utmost to get this horror-show stopped, is silently complicit in this crime. And the crime, unless I am badly mistaken, will end up making Hitler's holocaust look like a picnic in the park.

Read 'em and weep. May God have mercy upon our souls.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Victims Of Mass Deception

Unknown News is carrying a compelling story by Duncan Campbell, courtesy of the [U.K.] Guardian. It's called U.S.-touted "terror case" evaporates into more Bush administration lies and it reveals yet another lie in the case which Colin Powell presented to the United Nations.
Colin Powell does not need more humiliation over the manifold errors in his February 2003 presentation to the UN. But yesterday a London jury brought down another section of the case he made for war -- that Iraq and Osama bin Laden were supporting and directing terrorist poison cells throughout Europe, including a London ricin ring.

Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants and the dropping of charges against four others make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. Until today, the public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't.
And all the documents presented to support the former Secretary of State's assertions came from elsewhere. It was all bovine manure. But it was no accident.

The lies were deliberate and they were an essential part of a plan. The plan involved mass deception, and Americans were the victims, and so were the British, and, of course, so were the Iraqis.
It is true that when the team from Porton Down entered the Wood Green flat in January 2003, their field equipment registered the presence of ricin. But these were high sensitivity field detectors, for use where a false negative result could be fatal. A few days later in the lab, Dr Martin Pearce, head of the Biological Weapons Identification Group, found that there was no ricin. But when this result was passed to London, the message reportedly said the opposite.
Oh, how easy it is to say the opposite! Just change a word here or there, take out a "not" or throw one in. How easily the truth becomes a lie!

You can learn more about how this particular deception was accomplished by reading the entire article. But it won't make any difference. The damage has already been done. And we -- all of us -- all humanity -- have been the victims. Again.

How much more will we tolerate? When will we finally say "Enough"???

Friday, April 22, 2005

Terry Jones: "Nobody Seemed To Notice"

Former Monty Python member Terry Jones shows himself to be a man of great courage and knowledge in this interview with He's also a very funny man, but we knew that a long time ago, didn't we?

I think you should click on that link and read the whole interview. But I especially want to point out this passage: In another piece, you critique George Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address through the lens of a Hollywood script reader. What would you say about his inaugural address?

TJ: I did actually start doing one on his latest inaugural address, because what amazes me about it is he’s basically just declared war on the rest of the world. But nobody seemed to really notice. He said it in a very nice way, so maybe they missed what he was talking about. Basically, he said that America can take out any government it doesn’t like and do whatever it likes. It’s stunning. It’s people’s reaction to it that’s been extraordinary to me, that nobody’s taken notice of what he’s actually saying.
That's my emphasis, by the way.

But Terry might feel differently about all this, had he read the Winter Patriot column called Burn, which said virtually the same thing about Bush's inaugural address. Here's an excerpt:
Here we go again, but this time it's "writ large".

First it was Afghanistan, and the pretext was that the Taliban had something to do with September 11th. It was a war on "terrorists and those who harbor terrorists". It was a "hunt for Osama bin Laden". We were going to "smoke him out of his cave". We were going to do the right thing for a change. Yeah, right!

Then it was Iraq, and the pretext was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Or maybe he had something to do with September 11th. Or maybe he was planning to get weapons of mass destruction. Or maybe he was planning to have something to do with September 11th. Or whatever. Whatever the American people might be willing to swallow. Yeah, right!

Now it's the rest of the world. And the pretext is going to be whatever George Bush decides it's going to be. Some "poor" country that doesn't have enough Freedom and therefore needs to be attacked. Or some "backwards" nation that doesn't have enough Democracy and therefore needs to be demolished. Just whatever. Whatever he feels like doing.
What's the difference? This one's easy: Terry Jones is much funnier.

On second thought, maybe Terry did read my column. And maybe when he says "nobody seemed to really notice", he's referring to me as "nobody". That would be pretty funny, too.

Disinformation Found In Tigris River

As regular readers of this space are no doubt aware, a large number of hostages may have been taken -- and killed -- in the Iraqi town of al-Madain. On the other hand, the entire story may be a giant hoax. As previously reported (first here and then here), the town was besieged late last week after unconfirmed reports of a mass hostage-taking. But when soldiers finally entered the town, they found no hostages.

Then reports started coming in about bodies being pulled from the Tigris. Were these the bodies of the 'hostages'? Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said they were, and that their presence proved the earlier reports to have been accurate. He was even quoted as having said:
[W]e have the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed these crimes.
Was Talabani telling the truth? Maybe not, said some, including one lowly and nearly frozen blogger, who couldn't quite understand how bodies pulled from the Tigris as early as February could belong to people who were allegedly taken hostage in mid-April.

Now it seems that local officials in al-Madain have been asking the same questions as the nearly frozen one. The following quotes are taken from a piece in Aljazeera entitled Iraq: Tigris corpses still a mystery.
Medical sources in the town of al-Madain have cast doubts that 60 bloated bodies recovered from a river in Iraq are those of civilians thought to have been taken hostage last week.

On Thursday morning, Iraqi medical sources said the tally of bodies recovered from the Tigris River had risen to 60.

Earlier, President Jalal Talabani said the discovery proved that armed Sunni fighters had seized up to 100 Shia last week in the town of al-Madain, 20km southeast of Baghdad.

But local officials said the bodies have been floating to the surface for weeks, and there is no way to tell where they came from.
And that's the crux of the issue, isn't it? If the local officials say "there is no way to tell where they came from", how can the president know "the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed these crimes"?
Dr Falah al-Permani, head of the Suwayrah health department, said families had identified just a few of the bodies, and it was impossible to tell where most were from.

"The extent of decomposition suggests all the slayings happened more than three weeks ago, while the crisis in al-Madain started less than one week ago," al-Permani said.

"So there is no way to link the two incidents."
One need hardly ask how this story will affect the credibility of president Talabani. Apparently, this marionette is no more credible than the people pulling his strings. And, really, how surprising is that?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Was It All Planned In Advance?

Do you ever wonder whether it was all planned in advance?

Think back to the summer of 2001, when Bush had been in office only a few months. I know it's tough to remember -- it was a whole four years ago! And a long four years they have been. But try to remember the last pre-9/11 spring and summer.

Every week or so, there was a story in the news about how Bush was giving the middle-finger salute to the world. Whether it was about international shipment of handguns, climate change, AIDS and pharmaceuticals, genetically modified seed, or literally anything else, whenever the rest of the world wanted American cooperation on anything, Bush said "No!"

And even though administration spokesmen said "No" to everything, they were especially vehement when it came to the World Court, a new international court in The Hague empowered to prosecute war crimes. At the time we were told that the USA could never support such a court because it could be used by enemies of America to prosecute Americans "for political reasons".

And I actually used to think about that. I didn't spend much time on "How stupid do they think we are?", even though this was one of the first questions that came to mind -- hard on the heels of "What do they mean by political reasons?" and "Aren't all wars fought for political reasons?" and "What could be apolitical about war crimes?"

But these questions seemed largely rhetorical and were quickly dismissed. Instead I wondered "What are they planning?"

America wasn't at war back then. "911" was the number you dialed in the event of an emergency: it had no terrorist connotation. Not yet, anyway. It may be difficult to remember, but if you are having trouble recalling that summer, you really can take my word for it: we were fat and happy, spending our free time e-mailing jokes about how stupid the new president was and how ridiculous the system had looked in 'electing' him. What the heck did we know?

Look at us now, just four years later. We've got unimaginable trouble at home and unspeakable horror abroad. And the mainstream media [which was already weak four years ago] is now so frail that it cannot stand to show us any of it. Network television is utterly disconnected from reality, and the American government continues to move in a very unhealthy direction, at record speed. How could this have happened?

If it was all planned in advance, then the hinge was 9/11.

And guess what? 9/11 was the hinge, even if it wasn't all planned in advance.

But ... do you ever wonder how that single hinge could allow everything to swing so far so quickly -- unless it was all planned in advance?

Does it ever seem to you that our present situation -- and the future it entails -- makes much more sense if it was all planned in advance, than if it wasn't?

Not to put too broad a point on it, but I see it this way: If I were planning to start an endless war against the rest of the world ... If my plans included widespread use of depleted uranium ... If I were itching to violate the Geneva Accords with respect to torture and confinement ... If I were thinking I might enjoy devastating entire cities ... well ... I wouldn't want to be bound by any court with the power to prosecute me for War Crimes.

Oh no, I wouldn't want that if it were me. Would you? I doubt it.

None of this proves that it was all planned in advance. None of this proves anything, of course.

And, in fact, if you read me very carefully, you will notice that I have never said it was all planned in advance.

I only asked whether you ever wonder.

That's all.

Me? Yeah, I wonder.

I wonder about a lot of things.

Bodies Pulled From Tigris

One very confusing story, partially reported in a previous item (Hostage-Taking in Iraq, or Just Another Hoax?), has been clarified -- maybe. It now appears that hostages were taken, that they were killed and that their bodies were thrown into the River Tigris. And yet, as we all know [but too often forget], appearances can indeed be very deceiving.

From Aljazeera: Iraq leader: Hostages' bodies found
The bodies of 50 people, thought to be hostages held in a town near Baghdad recently, have reportedly been found in the Tigris river, while another 19 bodies have turned up in a football stadium in Haditha.

Aljazeera reports quoting Iraq President Jalal Talabani as saying on Wednesday that the 50 bodies found near al-Suwaira were those of people recently abducted from al-Madain town, south of Baghdad.

Agencies quoted him as telling reporters: "More than 50 bodies have been brought out from the Tigris and we have the full names of those who were killed and those criminals who committed these crimes.

"We will give you details in the coming days … terrorists committed crimes there. It is not true that there were no hostages. There were, but they were killed and they threw the bodies into the Tigris."
From the BBC: Iraq 'hostages dumped in river'
The bodies of more than 50 men, women and children have been recovered from the River Tigris in the town of Suwayra, south of Baghdad.

Many had been badly mutilated, Iraqi authorities said.

President Jalal Talabani said the bodies were those of people who had been taken hostage and then killed in the nearby town of Madain.
But the details of the grisly find still raise disturbing questions. For instance, there's this passage from BBC's article:
It is not clear when the killings took place, though police in the area told the BBC the bodies had been pulled from the river over a period since the end of February.

Some victims were said to have had their heads cut off and others were badly decomposed.
It remains to be explained how the bodies of hostages captured late last week could already be "badly decomposed". It's difficult to imagine how such bodies could have been quickly and positively identified. And yet the Iraqi president assures us
[W]e have the full names of those who were killed ...
Yeah, sure. Sure you do.

In the fog of war, nobody knows anything for certain. Is the Iraqi president an exception? Yeah, sure he is!

And that's not all. Iraq is now the only country on Earth which defies the laws of time. In Iraq, but only in Iraq, bodies can be pulled out of the river in February but not killed until April. Do you believe that? Yeah, sure. Sure you do.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hostage-Taking in Iraq, or Just Another Hoax?

For my most patient readers, here comes a very confusing story from Iraq, as told in four installments:

Sunday morning: Bid to resolve Iraq hostage drama fails
Peaceful efforts to secure the release of up to 60 Shia Muslim hostages allegedly threatened with death in a town near Baghdad have failed, and Iraqi authorities are considering military action.

"Attempts to win their freedom through negotiations have not led to any results," an official in a leading Shia party told Reuters on Saturday.

"The government is considering military intervention to end the standoff."

However, confusion surrounds the incident in the southern Iraqi town of al-Madain.

A spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr, Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Daraji, denied that the incident had taken place and said no hostages had been taken.
Of course, the "military intervention to end the standoff" happened nonetheless. Note that this report mentions "up to 60" hostages.

Sunday evening: Iraqi troops call halt to al-Madain assault
Iraqi troops battling in a town near Baghdad to rescue Shia hostages held by Sunni fighters, have halted their offensive after meeting fierce resistance, government officials said.

They said the troops had failed to fight their way into the town centre and new efforts to resolve the matter peacefully were underway.

There were conflicting reports on the fate of the hostages, originally said to number about 80.
How many hostages? Now it's "originally said to number about 80".
The crisis began on Friday when armed men allegedly entered the town aboard pick-up trucks, seized a number of Shia and threatened to kill them unless other Shia left the town.

Government forces surrounded the town on Saturday.

On Sunday, government forces recaptured half the town and freed 10 to 15 families held hostage by the armed men, the Defence Ministry official said, adding that the clashes were continuing.

However national security adviser Qasim al-Daud denied later in parliament that any hostages had been found.

"Three posts where hostages were suspected to have been detained have been raided, but unfortunately we have not found any trace of the detainees", he told Iraq's National Assembly.
Who are you going to believe? The "Defence Ministry official" or the "national security adviser"? Or perhaps it would be better to sit back and await further developments?

Monday morning: Iraq hostage-taking claim questioned
Amid increasing indications that the al-Madain hostage-taking incident has been grossly exaggerated, Iraqi security forces and US troops have continued to keep the town surrounded after reports of the kidnapping of up to 100 Shia residents.
Now it's "up to 100" hostages, but there are "increasing indications that the [...] incident has been grossly exaggerated".
An AP photographer and a television cameraman who were in or near al-Madain on Sunday said large numbers of Iraqi troops had sealed off the town, supported by US forces who were keeping a low profile farther from the edge of town.

The cameraman said he toured the town on Sunday morning. People were going about their business normally, shops were open and tea houses were full.

Residents contacted by telephone also said everything was normal in al-Madain.
How surreal! This is a very strange story, is it not?
Even so, National Security Minister Qasim Dawud told parliament on Sunday that three battalions of Iraqi soldiers, police and US forces had been sent to al-Madain.

He said the Iraqi military was planning a large-scale assault.
What's the best thing to do when you get wildly conflicting reports? Plan "a large-scale assault", of course!
Speaking to Aljazeera by phone from Baghdad, general-secretary of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), Tariq al-Hashimi, said the situation was dangerous and could spark wider sectarian tensions.

Urging security forces to exercise caution, he said: "Whatever the reasons - so far mostly they seem fabricated and exaggerated - we completely reject the latest escalation in the form of the siege of the town with a view to raiding it."

Al-Hashimi said a "new Falluja" could arise, with the US and Iraqi forces raising the banner of "fighting terrorism".

Nevertheless, he called on both Sunni and Shia residents of al-Madain not to confront the Iraqi police and soldiers, and to let them carry out their mission to search for hostage-takers if there were really any present.
"If there were really any present"! Well, if they're there, and the town is sealed off, then a raid should be able to locate them, wouldn't you think? So let's cut to the final chapter:

Monday evening: Raid finds no hostages in Iraqi town
The Iraqi army has found no hostages in the besieged town of al-Madain, where fighters had reportedly been holding Shia residents hostage.

A 1500-strong Iraqi force has moved into al-Madain - known also as Salman Pak - 30km southeast of Baghdad, according to an AFP correspondent embedded with the US military.

"The whole city is under control. We've secured houses where people said there were hostages. We could not find any. I don't think we'll find any," Iraqi Brigadier-General Muhammad Sabri Latif said on Monday.
Click on the links and read the entire articles, if you wish. You will find even more questions and even fewer answers.

The lowly and nearly frozen Winter Patriot may still be wondering what to make of it all, but the same cannot be said of Shaikh Abd al-Salam al-Kubaisi, of the Association of Muslim Scholars (as quoted here), to whom I will leave this evening's final word:
"This news is completely untrue."

Friday, April 15, 2005

'Operation FALCON' Raises Disturbing Questions

You can't have missed this story: it's been all over the news all day long. What do you think it means?
Dragnet nabs 10,000 fugitives

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than 10,000 fugitives from justice have been captured in a nationwide, weeklong dragnet involving federal, state and local authorities, said the U.S. Marshals Service, which led the effort.

Operation FALCON lasted from April 4 - 10 and marks the largest number of arrests ever recorded during a single operation.
Does it strike you as just a little bit strange to hold a nationwide, week-long, multi-level police operation aimed at arresting fugitives? Why did they want all these people, anyway?
The operation captured 10,340 people, of whom 162 were wanted for murder, 638 had outstanding arrest warrants for armed robbery and 553 were wanted for rape or sexual assault.

Also captured were 106 unregistered sex offenders and 154 gang members.
OK! Let's do the math. 162 wanted for murder plus 638 wanted for armed robbery makes 800. Add another 553 for rape or sexual assault and that makes 1353. Now throw in 106 unregistered sex offenders, bringing the total to 1459, and 154 gang members, which makes our total 1613.

But that's less than a sixth of the 10,340 people who were arrested. Why do you think they picked up the other 8727 people? I don't know and the article from CNN doesn't say. So I'm curious.
And some were considered especially dangerous. In one case, an armed man was found in a cave under a trap door in his kitchen floor, Gonzales said.
Who was it? Saddam Hussein?
Officials acknowledge the decision to provide such a massive show of force at one time was expected to prompt publicity and help highlight the mission.
It's working. Media all over the country seem to be cooperating nicely. At the moment, Google News reports nearly 600 stories on "operation falcon", and none of them appear to be more than 15 hours old. Many of these stories appear to be virtually identical, almost as if government press releases had been published verbatim. And none of the articles I have read are asking any questions. Even considering what we know about the lack of diversity in the major media, it looks like a massive propaganda barrage to me. So of course nobody has been asking me what I think about it. But I'll tell you anyway.
[officials] insist the operation was strictly designed to carry out law enforcement objectives.
Oh yes, of course it was. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Say No More!
The dragnet coincided with Crime Victims Rights Week.
Ah yes, of course it did. What better reason to get out in the streets and round up 1593 dangerous criminals and more than 8700 other people too?

I can't quite put my finger on it but something tells me there's more to this story than meets the eye. Is it the first step in a larger plan? Is the idea to get Americans accustomed to the idea of a nationwide police operation arresting several thousand people in a short period of time? Is it meant as a warning sign to people who are considering careers in jaywalking or shoplifting? Who's next? Librarians who shred their records? Citizens who want to make sure their votes are counted properly?

What happened to arresting fugitives because they had outstanding warrants? Doesn't that still occur on a regular basis? Why shouldn't it? Stuff like this should go on every week, no? What difference does [or should] it make whether it's Crime Victims Rights Week?

And what's it gonna be next time? Prosecuting Attorney Week? And when that happens, will we see another propaganda campaign? Will it be yet another attempt "to prompt publicity and help highlight the mission"? And will it involve the arrests of another ten thousand people? Or will they pick up twenty [or thirty] [or fifty] thousand this time?

I am tempted to make a prediction. I am tempted to predict that we will soon become accustomed to nationwide police operations involving the arrests of thousands of people.

I am sorely tempted to make that prediction, but I won't. However, I will say this: if such a thing happens, I will not be surprised.

Horrified, yes. Surprised, no.

Watch and see what happens. I hope I'm wrong. But I doubt it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Look How Well We're Doing!!

As if my previous post, Don't Be Fooled, needed any "authentication", here's a good look at how wonderfully things are going in Iraq:
At least 22 people have been killed and 54 wounded in a day of attacks in Iraq, the Interior Ministry told Aljazeera.
Deadly car bombs explode in Baghdad ... I dunno ... What do you think it all means? Aljazeera says:
An Iraqi police captain told Aljazeera many of the victims were part of the highway patrol responsible for accompanying oil trucks from al-Dura refinery to the refinery at Baiji.
You don't suppose all this violence has anything to do with oil, do you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Don't Be Fooled

My vote for the "headline of the week" award goes to this story from the [U.K.] Guardian: Don't be fooled by the spin on Iraq

After the subtitle, "The US is failing - and hatred of the occupation greater than ever", author Jonathan Steele goes straight to the heart of the matter:
Saddam Hussein's effigy was pulled down again in Baghdad's Firdos Square at the weekend. But unlike the made-for-TV event when US troops first entered the Iraqi capital, the toppling of Saddam on the occupation's second anniversary was different.

Instead of being done by US marines with a few dozen Iraqi bystanders, 300,000 Iraqis were on hand. They threw down effigies of Bush and Blair as well as the old dictator, at a rally that did not celebrate liberation but called for the immediate departure of foreign troops.
It is said that this was the largest demonstration in Iraq since 1958. Where was the American media coverage, folks? There was none? Well imagine that!

But apparently it doesn't matter, since Iraqis are not watching CNN. Maybe they don't know that what actually happens in their country is considered "irrelevant" here. But that doesn't matter either, since the reality is theirs.
The weekend's vast protest shows that opposition is still growing, in spite of US and British government claims to have Iraqis' best interests at heart. It was the biggest demonstration since foreign troops invaded.

Equally significantly, the marchers were mainly Shias, who poured in from the impoverished eastern suburb known as Sadr City. The Bush-Blair spin likes to suggest that protest is confined to Sunnis, with the nod and wink that these people are disgruntled former Saddam supporters or fundamentalists linked to al-Qaida, who therefore need not be treated as legitimate. The fact that the march was largely Shia and against Saddam as much as Bush and Blair gives the lie to that.
Is national unity on the rise in Iraq? Everyone seems to agree at least on this much: it is time for the USA to get out!

Everyone but the USA [and the Kurds], of course!
The key issue, now as it has been since 2003, is for the occupation to end quickly. Only this will reduce the resistance and give Iraqis a chance to live normally. In a new line of spin - which some commentators have taken to mean that the US is preparing for a pullout - US commanders claim the rate of insurgent attacks is down.

The figures are not independently monitored. Even if true, they may be temporary. Thirdly, they fly in the face of evidence that suggests the US is failing. Most of western Iraq is out of US control. The city of Mosul could explode at any moment. Ramadi is practically a no-go area.
Just for the record, it says here that the American troops are not leaving anytime soon, no matter what happens in Iraq. It also says here that the people of Iraq will never have another chance to live normally. By the time Bush and his friends get all the oil they want out of Iraq, the landscape will be so contaminated by depleted uranium that the people of Iraq will never live normally again.

There are at least two possible scenarios in which the American occupation of Iraq could end before all the oil is gone and every last grain of sand is radioactive. One such scenario involves the breakdown of the American economy as we used to know it. If the dollar collapses, American troops might be forced home, even if they have to hitch-hike back.

The second such scenario involves a change in the American government. If we could somehow replace the current regime with an administration that wants what's best for America, the war in Iraq would certainly come to an abrupt halt.

But in the meantime, please don't be fooled by claims of success. Everything is falling apart in Iraq, and our so-called leaders are lying to us again. What else is new?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's Tough To Argue Against This One

This opinion piece by Dag Herbjornsrud is provocatively titled, and contains a few assertions that might raise hackles even among my left-leaning friends. But I certainly cannot argue against Mr. Herbjornsrud when he says:
Actions of the past have influenced our present world situation. Just as our present actions will influence our common future. Thus, in order to create justice in the future, we need to acknowledge the injustice of the past.
Herbjornsrud makes a lot of sense there, as he does elsewhere in the article. And I certainly don't mean to imply that my left-leaning friends know everything. Far from it. All I meant was that Herbjornsrud's opinion would probably be even less welcomed on the right.
Basic knowledge of the brutalities both of the Nazi regime and of the colonial regimes are necessary in order to prevent similar atrocities again.

If we don't know about the mistakes of the past, on all sides, we are doomed to repeat them. It's about time that Europeans also accept historic facts about their former occupation of the world.
European colonialism! It's the shameful past that we'd rather not deal with, if we're European. And American colonialism! That's something we don't even acknowledge, if we're American. But it's all there, lurking in the closets of our dim and dusty past. The skeletons in this closet are waiting to get out, and when they do... I wasn't supposed to mention this, was I?

Well, it's not my fault. Mr. Herbjornsrud started it.
Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine, Northern Ireland: The root causes of the world's hottest conflicts lie in the break-up of Europe's colonial empires. But who dares admit it?
The entire piece is here and you might wish to read it all. But in the meantime, please consider one more excerpt:
Citizens of former colonial empires are actually taught to be proud of their glorious colonial past.

The present European celebration of the colonising of "the natives" seems to be caused less by pure arrogance than by pure ignorance. Or, as the motto is for the famous Where is Raed blog of the Iraqi Salam Pax, quoting Samuel Huntington:

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion ... but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do."
Of course there's nothing funny about any of this but I can't resist the temptation to make a joke, and so I must say this: Looked at in the proper way, world history reveals itself as a realm in which not everything can be blamed on the current US administration! ;-)

Greg Palast: "Ask For George Or Dick"

Greg Palast cracks me up. He's got me on his e-mail list and every now and then I get a message. Today's message is a good one, full of fury and humor and not just the facts, ma'am. But there are some mighty facts here too. I get the feeling that too few people [certainly too few Americans] are reading Greg Palast and I hope that by posting his work here I can help to solve that problem, even if only slightly.
Did Wyly Coyotes' Ill-Gotten Loot Buy White House?

by Greg Palast
Monday, April 11, 2005

When the feds swoop down and cuff racketeers, they also load the vans with all the perp's ill-gotten gains: stacks of cash, BMWs, hideaway houses, whatever. Their associates have to cough up the goodies too -- lady friends must give up their diamond rocks.

Under the racketeering law, RICO, even before a verdict, anything bought with the proceeds of the crime goes into the public treasury.

But there seems to be special treatment afforded those who loaded up on the 'bennies' of crimes committed by George Bush's buddies.

On Friday, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced it had captured a couple of Texas varmints, the Wyly Brothers, Charles and Sam. The two have 'fessed to concealing half their holdings in one of the rich boys' companies, Michaels Stores. The grand jury is still out on deciding to indict the two for the crime of fraud upon the stock market.

Who are these guys? The billionaire brothers are "Pioneers" - not the kind that built little houses on the prairie, but the kind that agreed to raise over a hundred grand for George W. Bush's first Presidential run. Sam anted up more than a quarter million for the Republican National Committee in 2000.

But that's just the tip of the cash-berg for Bush. In 2000, Sen. John McCain was wiping the electoral floor with Bush Jr. in the Republican primaries until that March when the Wylys secretly put up two and half million dollars for a campaign to smear Bush's opponent just days before the crucial Southern primaries.

They repeated the trick in 2004, putting up cash for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the vicious little snipes who tore apart the Kerry campaign.

So what makes these guys so thrilled with Mr. Bush? There are more than ninety million reasons. While George W. was governor of Texas, investigative reporter Joe Conason discovered, a Wyly family private investment fund, Maverick Capital of Dallas, was awarded a state contract to invest $90 million for the University of Texas endowment.

That's not all. As Governor, Bush signed into law an electricity "deregulation" bill that was little more than ill-disguised raid on consumers' wallets by Texas power companies. The bill was in part drafted by an outfit called, a power company owned by - you guessed it - Sam Wyly.

On the day George W. signed the deregulation bill, Sam Wyly said, "Governor Bush's hard work and leadership have paid off." And, it seems, in 2000 and 2004, the Wylys paid back.

Last week, the Wyly brothers, knowing law men will probably seize their gains anyway, announced they would turn over their hidden loot to Michaels Stores' treasury -- a kind gesture, like a bank-robber turning over stolen cash in hopes of leniency.

But what about the racketeering rule requiring all cronies of the wrongdoers to give up the benefits of alleged crime?

If the G-men don't know where the tainted booty is cached, try this address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ask for George or Dick.

Now it might be unfair to say that George Bush's campaigns succeeded solely because of the Wyly's loot. After all, the number one campaign contributors were Pioneer Ken Lay and his associates at Enron.

OK now, Mr. President, give it back- the millions stuffed in the pockets of the Republican campaign kitty filched from Enron retirees and the suckers in the stock market who didn't have the inside track like the Wylys.

When I worked as a racketeering investigator for government, nothing was spared, including houses bought with purloined loot. Let there be no exception here. It's time to tape up the White House gate and hang the sign: "Crime Scene: Property to be Confiscated. Vacate Premises Immediately."


Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, the Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his columns at OUT IN THIS MONTH'S HARPER'S: Palast uncovers the secret State Department documents dividing up Iraq's oil.
You see what I mean? Clearly he's kidding but just as clearly he is deadly serious.
It's time to tape up the White House gate and hang the sign:
"Crime Scene: Property to be Confiscated. Vacate Premises Immediately."

Chuck Baldwin on Patriotism

Regular readers may recall one or more previous posts (Chuck Baldwin on "Packaged News", Chuck Baldwin: Theology Means Little When It Comes To Activism, and Chuck Baldwin: Freedoms Lost Under G.W. Bush) in which I have shared material sent to me via e-mail by Chuck Baldwin. Chuck is just about as conservative as you can get, and I am certainly not, but we do agree on many things.

And I've been posting his commentaries partly because I think it is very important for people to understand that opposition to this president is coming from both right and left. But I also do it to demonstrate the wide range of topics on which the supposedly far-right Chuck Baldwin and the supposedly far-out Winter Patriot seem to agree. It may be time to question our use of terms like "liberal" and "conservative" or "right" and "left". Maybe it's time to start thinking in terms like "constructive" and "destructive" or "right" and "wrong" for a change.

Chuck's newest missive, entitled "Patriotism Does Not Mean Love Of Big Government Or Support For A President", caught my eye right away, as does almost anything containing references to patriotism or cold weather, or a quote from Thomas Paine. As requested by Mr. Baldwin, I hereby repost his essay in its entirety.
Patriotism Does Not Mean Love Of Big Government Or Support For A President

By Chuck Baldwin
April 12, 2005

A strange metamorphosis has taken place in America, especially among conservatives. From its original definition of love of country, especially love for the founding principles of the country, patriotism has morphed into a love for bigger and bigger government. It seems that to most conservatives today, if anyone dares speak against any federal program or initiative, he or she is categorized as being unpatriotic or even ungodly. Many conservatives even equate a person's support or lack thereof for our President as being a major determinant of his or her spirituality.

However, this over-infatuation with a president, any president, is diametrically opposed to the principles upon which this country was built! In fact, America was established upon a deep and (until now) abiding distrust of governmental leaders.

Thomas Paine summarized the founding spirit when he said in 1791, "The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from the [federal] government." Our first President, George Washington agreed. He said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

Now, all of that has changed. Today's conservatives define patriotism as being nothing short of all out, unquestioned loyalty to G. W. Bush, regardless of how improper or unconstitutional his proposals and policies might be.

Furthermore, I personally know scores of preachers who actually believe that anyone who dares to so much as question President Bush is not only unpatriotic but is also in danger of hell-fire. Their fanatical loyalty to Bush runs so deep that they are willing, and even eager, to break lifelong friendships with those who do not share their unquestioned support for the man. Yet, many of George Bush's policies are potentially catastrophic!

For example, every American citizen, especially conservatives, should be alarmed at Bush's willingness to dismantle constitutional safeguards of our liberties via police state-style provisions contained in the Patriot Act. They should be pressuring their members of Congress to not only take the Patriot Act off the law books, but also pressuring them to expunge the Stalin-style Department of Homeland Security and the Nazi-like office of National Intelligence Director. Yet, because G.W. Bush is the chief promoter of these policies and agencies, they dare not lift so much as a whimper of protest.

Furthermore, the American people, especially conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to resist Bush's amnesty for illegal aliens program! The potential for economic hardship and even terrorism due to Bush's amnesty proposals cannot be overstated! Yet once again, since Bush is behind it, conservatives will say nary a word against it.

The fact is, the federal government has grown in both size and scope exponentially since G.W. Bush became president. The federal government is now bigger than ever, more intrusive than ever, and more restrictive than ever. And there is no relief in site.

However, instead of resisting the federal government's explosive growth and increasing encroachment upon our liberties, today's conservatives aggressively support and promote said growth and encroachment. Even more disgusting is that they do this under the rubric of patriotism.

Conservatives need to re-familiarize themselves with the words of President Theodore Roosevelt when he said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."

Furthermore, conservatives need to remember the words of President Ronald Reagan when he said, "Government is not thesolution to the problem; government is the problem."

No, Martha, historic patriotism does not include robotic support for a president or hypnotic support for big government. Instead, traditional patriotism means support for the fundamental principles upon which America was originally founded: personal liberty, federalism, and self government. Political leaders (regardless of party) who support and promote those principles deserve our support. Political leaders (regardless of party) who do not support and promote those principles deserve not our support. Now, that's patriotism!

© Chuck Baldwin


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Saturday, April 9, 2005

Mike Whitney and the "Invisible Hand"

There's only one thing that the administration can do to ensure that energy dealers keep trading in dollars: control the flow of oil. That means that an attack on Iran is nearly a certainty
I've spent quite some time reading and thinking about Mike Whitney's latest piece at Counterpunch. To read the whole article in its original form, click here: The Economic Tsunami: Coming Sooner Than You Think.
It seems that there are a growing number of people who believe as I do, that the economic tsunami planned by the Bush administration is probably only months away.
Yep. Well, one, anyway.
In just 5 short years
Short? These have been very long years for me... but I know what you're saying. Please...
the national debt has increased by nearly 3 trillion dollars while the dollar has continued its predictable decline. The dollar has fallen a whopping 38% since Bush took office, due largely to the massive $450 billion per year tax cuts.
Tax cuts correspond to roughly three-quarters of the $3 trillion increase in the national debt. Increases in military spending surely cover the rest. For how many years could you keep spending and giving away money you don't even have? Four? Eight? Even if you're spending it all on weapons systems? You can't be vulnerable if you're spending billions of dollars on weapons systems, can you?
At the same time, numerous laws have been passed (Patriot Act, Intelligence Reform Bill, Homeland Security Bill, National ID, Passport requirements etc) anticipating the need for greater repression when the economy takes its inevitable nosedive.
You noticed that too, did you? I don't think we were supposed to notice that. I don't think we were supposed to mention it, either. Especially in the same breath as "billions of dollars on weapons systems". Add 'em up and here's the result: "greater repression when the economy takes its inevitable nosedive."
Regrettably, that nosedive looks to be coming sooner rather than later.
Oh yeah? How soon? I've been thinking about that myself for a while now. Not even sure whether it's to be feared or applauded. But ... Yeah. It really does seem inevitable. Sooner rather than later. But how soon? What's happening?
The Iraq war has contributed considerably to our current dilemma. The conflict has taken nearly one million barrels of Iraqi oil per day off line.
In other words, the astronomical prices at the pump are the direct result of Bush's war.
Well he never said the war was being waged for cheap oil!
The media has failed to report on the negative affects the war has had on oil production, just as they have obscured the incredibly successful insurgent strategy of destroying pipelines.
There are a few other things the media have failed to report, or obscured. For instance, do you think we actually voted for more of this? Or did something fishy happen in November? But anyway...
This isn't a storyline that plays well to the American public, who expected that Iraq would be paying for its own reconstruction by now.
And ain't that the stinkin'est lie you ever heard? "Iraq would be paying for its own reconstruction"? Well OK maybe not the stinkin'est ever but it certainly does reek, does it not? I never bought it and I never imagined anyone buying it. Shows what I know. Did you buy it? I thought it sounded like the victim of an unprovoked attack being forced to pay reparations to his attacker. Didn't make any sense to me at all. Looked like sheer wishful propaganda. But people did buy it, didn't they?
Instead, the resistance is striking back at the empire's Achilles heel (America's need for massive amounts of cheap oil) and it's having a damaging affect on the US economy.
As if the American economy needs any more damaging affects. Sometimes I think the national economy is run by a bunch of blockheads. Other days I think the situation is much much worse. But I digress...
The administration is currently putting as much pressure as possible on OPEC to ratchet up the flow of oil another 1 million barrels per day (well over capacity) to settle down nervous markets and buy time for the planned bombing of Iran in June.
Nervous Markets! Why are the markets suddenly nervous? They should have been nervous about this bunch a long, long time ago.
Like Fed Chief Alan Greenspan's artificially low interest rates, the manipulation of oil production is a way of concealing how dire the situation really is. Rising prices at the pump signal an upcoming recession, (depression?) so the administration is pulling out all the stops to meet the short term demand and maintain the illusion that things are still okay.

But, of course, things are not okay.
You noticed that too, did you, Mike? It has seemed to me for a long time that things are not okay... But boil it all down for us. How serious do you think this is?
This is much more serious than a simple decline in the value of the dollar. If the major oil producers convert from the dollar to the euro, the American economy will sink almost overnight. If oil is traded in euros then central banks around the world would be compelled to follow and America will be required to pay off its enormous $8 trillion debt. That, of course, would be doomsday for the American economy
Not really. Just do the math. It's only 8 trillion dollars. We are something like 300 million people. What's that? It's about $30,000 per person, is it not? I think that's right. If each person kicked in a measly thirty grand, we could pay off the entire national debt right now! And remember, that $30K/person is just a rough guess; by the time we pay this whole thing off, we will probably have an extra trillion dollars lying around, and we can have a party. More on that later. But first, consider this:

For a family of four, it's only a hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Most families of four probably have that much lying around in a sock somewhere. Or in the fridge. My uncle used to keep his loose cash in a paper bag in the fridge. He figured that's the last place a thief would look. But anyway that's my late uncle. He passed away. He doesn't keep anything in the fridge anymore. So don't get any ideas. Don't go out robbing houses looking for cash in the fridge. That's the last place anyone would put loose cash. They probably keep it in a sock somewhere. Thirty grand per person, more or less. But there's a catch:
A recent report indicates that two-thirds of the world's 65 central banks have already "begun to move from dollars to euros."
And so America is about to be slapped in the face by the "Invisible Hand" of Adam Smith, whose inviolate rules of supply and demand specify that if the demand for something [like American dollars] decreases while the supply of it remains constant [or increases], the price [or value] of that commodity [all that money] will decrease as well. So we may need 40 or even 50 grand apiece to buy our foolish asses out of debt to the rest of the world, which we continue to ignore -- except for business or war -- at our peril. But that's another story. Or maybe this is still all the same story... And did you notice that your money all of a sudden became a commodity? Well them's the breaks, kid. Economists talk and all the rest of us can take a hike. We're commodities too, by the way. Did you notice that, too? But I digress...
The Bush plan to savage the dollar has been telegraphed around the world and, as the New York Times says, "the greenback has nowhere to go but down". There's only one thing that the administration can do to ensure that energy dealers keep trading in dollars: control the flow of oil. That means that an attack on Iran is nearly a certainty.
Emphasis in that last paragraph was mine. The slashing and thrashing beast is determined to devour another victim before it goes extinct -- or goes on to its next feeding! Who knows? Not this lowly and nearly frozen somebody. I just wanted to warn you it might be coming: Some day in the near future you may need to go get that sock and pay your share of the national debt.

Or maybe you keep it in the fridge.

Thanks to Peg C. at the Brad Blog for mentioning this article on that blog. If not for Peg, I would probably be sleeping now. Thanks again, Peg.

We haven't had a song in a long time. Here's one from Peter Hammill.
The Sleepwalkers

At night, this mindless army, ranks unbroken by dissent,
is moved into action and their pace does not relent.
In step, with great precision, these dancers of the night
advance against the darkness - how implacable their might!
Eyes undulled by moon, their arms and legs akimbo,
they walk and live, hoping soon to surface from this limbo.
Their minds, anticipating the dawn of the day,
shall never know what's waiting mere insight away
-- too far, too soon.

Senses dimmed in semi-sentience, only wheeling through this plane,
only seeing fragmented images, prematurely curtailed by the brain,
but breathing, living, knowing in some measure at least
the soul which roots the matter of both Beauty and the Beast.
From what tooth or claw does murder spring,
from what flesh and blood does passion?
Both cut through the air with the pendulum's swing
in deadly but delicate fashion.
And every range of feeling is there in the dream
and every logic's reeling in the force of the scream;
the senses sting.
And though I may be dreaming and reality stalls
I only know the meaning of sight and that's all
and that's nothing.

The columns of the night advance,
infectiously, their cryptic dance
gathers converts to the fold -
in time the whole raw world will pace these same steps
on into the same bitter end.

Somnolent muster -- now the dancing dead
forsake the shelter of their secure beds,
awaken to a slumber whose depths they dread,
as if the ground they tread would give way
beneath the solemn weight of their conception.
I'd search the hidden corners of all this world,
make reason of the sensory whorl
if I only had time,
but soon the dream is ended.

Tonight, before you lay down to the sweetness of your sleep
do you question your surrender to the drop from Lover's Leap
or does the anaesthetic darkness take hold on its very own?
Does your body rise in service with not one dissenting groan?
These waking dreams of life and death
in the mirror are twisted and buckled;
lashes flicker, a catch of breath,
skin whitening at the knuckles.
The army of sleepwalkers shake their limbs and are loose
and though I am a talker, I can phrase no excuse
not to rise again.
In the chorus of the night-time I belong
and I, like you, must dance to that moonlight song
and in the end I, too, must pay the cost of this life.
If all is lost none is known
and how could we lose what we've never owned?
Oh, I'd search out every knowledge that I could find,
unravel all the mysteries of mind,
if I only had time,
if I only had time,
but soon my time is ended.

9/11 Research: Want Links? Got Links!!

{posted under the horizon May 5, 2002}

The following list of links appeared on 9/11-related threads at the Brad Blog, (here, here and here). I clicked on a few of them and they looked good. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the stuff I haven't seen, of course. But I don't mind posting the list.

If you have nothing really pressing to do today, would you mind checking out a few of the following links and telling me what you think?

If you find any broken links, or if you have concerns about the accuracy of any of the material linked here, please let me know, via e-mail or by leaving a comment here. And if you see anything that looks particularly good, I'd appreciate a comment or an e-mail about that too. Thanks.


Here you will find hi-resolution video of the (obvious) demolition of World Trade Center Seven and of the (less obvious) demolition of the Towers. The Naudet brothers stunning footage of the first plane hitting the North tower is also presented (at least one of the brothers quite clearly knew the first aircraft was about to hit the North Tower) together with less well known footage of the first plane hitting the tower, accidently caught by someone filming, while waiting in traffic.

If you are using Windows Media Player you need the DivX3.11a codec plug-in (many non-Microsoft movie players come standard with the codecs necessary to play DivX movies (eg Mplayer for Linux)).

If you do not already have it, you can find it here:

The files from are bit for bit the same (I checked) as those I have had on my system for years (with no harmful effects). You unzip the files and double click on Register_DivX.exe

If you wish to learn about DivX movies, in particular, why they sometimes play upside-down, read this thread:


Here HiRes (high resolution) video means video recorded with the DivX3.11a codec with the (variable) bitrate set to 6000 and crispness/smoothness set to 100. The HiRes videos are much larger files than necessary for good viewing. They are meant to convey as much of the original detail as possible.


The First Plane Hitting The North Tower (13 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x408) Copy.
Video taken while waiting to enter the Brooklyn Tunnel (0.8 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 360x240).


Plane Hitting South Tower. View from south (10 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x472) Copy.
View from north-east (4.9 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 716x480) Copy.
View from north (13 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x472) Copy.
View from east (1.2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x356) Copy.
Close view from east (1.3 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x356) Includes the "911 In Plane Site" flash. Copy.
Another view from north (0.8 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x356) Copy.
Short view from north-east (1.2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 696x472) Copy.
Longer view from north-east (2.8 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 716x480) Copy.


Video one of the WTC North Tower demolition (2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 492x408) Copy.
Video two of the WTC North Tower demolition (5.6 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 716x480).
Video three of the WTC North Tower demolition (0.5 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 676x408).
Video four of the WTC North Tower demolition (13 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x472) Copy.
Premature Detonations in North Tower Demolition. (4.8 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 692x472).
North Tower Premature Detonations (Marked) (2.8 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x472) Copy..
More North Tower Premature Detonations (6.1 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 696x472) Copy.
Another view of the North Tower Predetonations (1.4 MB HiRes Codec: MPEG1 352x264).

For those interested, here is an article on the Premature Detonations.


Video one of the WTC South Tower demolition (1.6 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 716x480).
Video two of the WTC South Tower demolition (2.3 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x408).
Video three of the WTC South Tower demolition (1.5 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x352).
Video four of the WTC South Tower demolition (1.7 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x356).
South Tower Premature Detonations (Marked) (0.4 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 704x480).


The WTC Building Seven Demolition (0.9 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x408) Copy.
The WTC Building Seven Demolition (another view) (0.8 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x408) Copy.
The WTC Building Seven Demolition (yet another view) (9.5 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x408) Copy.
The WTC Building Seven Demolition - Four (0.8 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 360x240)
The WTC Building Seven Demolition - Five (1.1 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 542x407)


Pentagon Collapse One (2.2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 696x472) Copy.
Pentagon Collapse Two (0.8 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 696x472) Copy.
Video one of the Pentagon on Fire (4.2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x480).
Video two of the Pentagon on Fire (3.5 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x464).
Video three of the Pentagon on Fire (1.4 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x464).
Video of the Pentagon damage from the air (9.6 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x480).


What A Demolition Looks Like (6 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 600x320).


Woman Waving From WTC North Tower Impact Hole. (1.2 MB HiRes Codec: DivX3.11a 692x356) Copy.

The woman is in the lower righthand corner and why this is of interest.


Painful Deceptions by Eric Hufschmid (windows media player comes with the necessary codec to play these).

Painful Deceptions. Part 1 (39 MB Codec: WMV1 360x240)
Painful Deceptions. Part 2 (42 MB Codec: WMV1 360x240)
Painful Deceptions. Part 3 (35 MB Codec: WMV1 360x240)
Painful Deceptions. Part 4 (28 MB Codec: WMV1 360x240)
Painful Deceptions - Pentagon Update (5 MB WMV1 360x240)

Alternate Painful Deceptions (only the correct stuff about WTC7 (no missile crap))

Painful Deceptions (22 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 360x235). The section on World Trade Center Seven.

WTC Construction Manager (0.8 MB WMV3 320x240) states WTC would survive multiple airplane strikes.
911 In Plane Site Debunked (25 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 360x240)
911 In Plane Site. (104 MB Codec: DivX5 352x240)
911 In Plane Site. (129 MB Codec: Quicktime MOV 352x240)
Von Kleist admitting possible involvement and even guilt, in the events of 9/11 (1.3 MB Codec: DivX3.11a 340x240).

From the page you can download:

All the "Painful Deceptions" videos mentioned above
Painful Deceptions - 911 Commission Report (25 MB WMV1 360x240)
Painful Deceptions - Pentagon Update (5 MB WMV1 360x240) same as above but misnamed "Uranium Report"
911 In Plane Site Directors Cut. 2 parts (45 MB and 47 MB WMV3 320x240)
911 In Plane Site Update (8 MB WMV1 240x160)

David Griffin talking about 9/11 on CSPAN2 239 MB WMV



The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin (entire book).


Predetonations in the World Trade Center Demolitions Copy 1 and commentary.
North Tower Demolition 0.9 MB Copy 1 and commentary.
South Tower Demolition 2.1 MB Copy 1 and commentary.
First Plane Hits 2.2 MB Copy 1. From Naudet Brothers footage and why this is of interest.
What a jets exhaust does to a car 0.9 MB Copy 1 and why this is of interest.
World Trade Center Seven Demolition 0.6 MB Copy 1.
The dust cloud that gave rise to the WTC6 explosion myth 0.9 MB Copy 1 and why this is of interest.


Versicherungsgesellschaft Allianz AG zum Nachforschen der WTC-Feuer?
Joël van der Reijden = MORE FALSE OPPOSITION.
9/11 PREDICTED IN 1961?


These are deliberately suppressed, so I specially mention them. (has smaller images for faster downloads) (has smaller images for faster downloads)


Introduction - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
WTC 1 and WTC 2 - The Twin Towers - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
WTC 3 - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
WTC 4,5 and 6 - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
WTC 7 - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
The Bankers Trust Building - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
Peripheral Buildings - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
Overview of Fire Protection in Buildings - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
Structural Steel and Steel Connections - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.
WTC Steel Data Collection - The FEMA "investigations" Copy 1.

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Thanks again to the anonymous poster(s) who sent this information to us at the Brad Blog.