February 16, 2005
The Empire of Darkness Series #22: Megatons of Manure
As usual, lots of stuff came to my attention these past 5 days. Thursday I'll have a Green Holocaust compilation mostly on the Kyoto Protocol taking effect this Wednesday.
What's in this one? The title says it all...
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"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."
- Lao Tzu
"If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve."
- Lao Tzu Many more quotes from him at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/lao_tzu.html
Worthy of Your Attention
OBVIOUSMAN - The Movie
Check also the Non Sequitur comic strips at http://www.ucomics.com/nonsequitur/ and tons of other comics strips of all "persuasion" at http://www.ucomics.com
Afghan DU Recovery Fund
"When I saw my little boy with those monstrous red tumors, I thought to myself, why is it difficult for Americans to understand that they are hated in our country. If I do this to the child of an American family, that family has the right to pull my eyes out of my eye sockets. I like to tell the Americans that they love to live their lives of luxury at the expense of our extermination"
An unidentified streak moving through the night sky above Hawaii has sky watchers puzzled. The streak, which can be viewed in motion on a NASA website page (below), was captured on film by a camera positioned on an active volcano in Haleakala, Hawaii. It moves from southeast to northwest: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050208.html
Reported by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
A Pilot's View - A chemtrail site recommended by many
1. Doctor tells of US atrocities in Fallujah
2. Iran: U.S. strikes cannot destroy nuclear sites
3. Israel Attacks Itself in Advance of Peace Summit - Hezbollah guerrillas framed
4. Long Expected Roundup of Dissident Citizens Began Today in America, Unconfirmed Reports Show
5. Iran starts production of torpedoes
6. George W. Bush explains it all for you
7. Alarming AIDS Superstrain Emerges
8. Dresden: The Real Saint Valentine's Day Massacre | '4 More Years'
LAST MINUTE ADDITION:
This crisis was brought to my attention by Steeve Nyatépé-Coo Paradis firstname.lastname@example.org> a subscriber to the French ERN list who recommended we help his country through our meditations to seek a path towards "democracy, peace and freedom". He seems afraid that what happened in the Ivory Coast and in Rwanda could happen in Togo as well without our assistance. His sees this as a unique opportunity for democracy to take hold in Togo and for freedom and creativity to flourish in Africa.
Togo Opposition Set to Keep Up Protests (Feb 15)
LOME, Togo - Togo's opposition alliance on Tuesday pledged to keep up protests against the military-backed succession of the late leader's son to the presidency, saying it needed to mobilize the population against what it called a "coup d'etat." The opposition said security forces killed more than a dozen people during running street battles with police Monday. The government confirmed only four deaths. An alliance of six opposition parties issued a short statement that said it was a "necessity to mobilize the population in protest against the coup d'etat." The late president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, was known for dealing harshly with dissent, jailing and torturing opposition leaders. Foreign ministers of Niger, Ghana, and West African powerhouse Nigeria arrived in Lome for talks with Togolese leaders on the crisis. Nigeria has held out the possibility of military action to compel Togo to allow a democratically chosen replacement to Eyadema. (...) Togo's army appointed Faure Gnassingbe as president within hours of his father's death from a heart attack Feb. 5, after 38 years of repressive rule in this small, economically stunted West African nation. Togo's military-controlled parliament later amended the constitution retroactively to make the succession technically legal but opposition politicians and West African leaders continue to denounce the son's appointment as a military coup d'etat. Gnassingbe has defied domestic and international calls to step down, praising his police force and criticizing demonstrators behind days of protests to his appointment.
African diplomats in Togo to end crisis (February 15, 2005)
LOME, Togo (Reuters) -- A team of African diplomats jetted into Togo on Tuesday, seeking to end a crisis over the country's leadership that has sparked deadly riots in the capital and drawn widespread international condemnation.Togo's army infuriated world leaders this month when it snubbed the constitution and named a new president after the death of Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled Togo for 38 years to become Africa's longest-serving leader. (...) Analysts say while African leaders have come down hard on Togo, they realize the former French colony's powerful army has a lot to lose following the death of Eyadema, a former soldier who seized power in coup and crushed any opposition. Some expect regional leaders to strike a compromise with Togo, which should lead to presidential elections after a transition period, but which will not create a potentially dangerous power vacuum in the interim. CLIP
Togo to hold elections within 60 days (Feb 16, 2005)
Togo plans to organise presidential elections within 60 days in line with demands from African leaders, a senior government official said. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, made the remarks after African diplomats met Togo's new president to press for polls and urge an end to a leadership crisis that has sparked riots and drawn international criticism. Faure Gnassingbe was named president by Togo's army just hours after his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died on February 5. The transfer of power was in violation of the West African nation's constitution which was hastily amended. "(The Economic Community of West African States) wanted us to return to the old constitution and that is what we are going to do and in 60 days, elections will be organised in this country," the official said. CLIP
Nigeria considers military action against Togo (Feb 15, 2005)
The Nigerian government will not rule out military actions against Togo if the coup regime in Lomé does not comply with West African demands to step down. In the Togolese capital, meanwhile, the fronts are hardening as the new ruler continue their crackdown on the media and the opposition promises new protest marches. While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is using diplomatic channels to persuade Togo's coup-makers to step down, its leading member state, Nigeria, is playing it tougher. The Nigerian presidency will not rule out sending troops to Togo if constitutional order is not restored there. (...) The opposition hopes to return Togo back to its constitutional order without a need for foreign intervention. The de facto government of Togo is however striking back by muzzling the increasingly critical Togolese press. During the last week, six independent media have been closed down by the High Council for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), a government media regulatory body, using different legislation to target the outspoken radio and TV broadcasters.
More news on this at http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?ei=ISO-8859-1&c=&p=Togo and http://news.google.ca/news?hl=en&ned=ca&q=Togo
Did George W. Bush Have Sex with That Man, James Guckert? (Feb 15) http://blog.democrats.com/that-man
In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached because of these 10 words:I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. In 2003, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey was forced to resign over a secret gay affair.So what about George Bush and this man James Guckert (a.k.a. Jeff Gannon) - a $200/hour gay male prostitute? Sooner or later, Washington will have to ask: Did George W. Bush Have Sex with That Man, James Guckert? >CLIP - Recommended by "Meria Heller" MeriaHeller@cox.net>. More on this also at http://blog.democrats.com/gannon
"Jeff Gannon's" Secret Life
Revelations that the bogus reporter worked as a gay escort are the latest twist in the affair that has the White House squirming -- and Democrats demanding explanations.
The Scandal Sheet (Jan 18, 2005)
Print it out, send it to Harry Reid, or just read it and weep. Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency -- every one of them worse than Whitewater. Once upon a time -- about five years ago -- conservative pundits often talked about "scandal fatigue." Remember scandal fatigue? It was an affliction supposedly either turning voters against Democrats or, alternatively, a weariness in the body politic preventing Republicans from pursuing even more grievances against Bill Clinton. By any objective measure, however, after four years of George W. Bush's presidency, the entire nation should be suffering from utter scandal exhaustion. Consider the raw materials of scandal that this administration has produced: False claims about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Torture in Abu Ghraib. The virtually treasonous exposure of a CIA agent by White House officials. And those are just the best-known examples. After all, how many citizens can name all the ongoing investigations of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm? Who remembers that the administration illicitly diverted $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq? Or that, on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans stole strategy memos from Democrats, while a House Republican said he was offered a bribe during a crucial vote? Even a conscientious citizen cannot be expected to keep score, so Salon has compiled a list. If the next four years of Bush and the GOP running the federal government are anything like the previous four, however, potential scandals will lead to few political consequences for the Republicans. Bush opponents will likely be disappointed if they are waiting for a renewal of the supposed "second-term scandal jinx" dogging Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Clinton. CLIP
U.S. Seems Sure of the Hand of Syria, Hinting at Penalties ???!!! (February 15, 2005) http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/021505E.shtml
(...) Western diplomats have sometimes suggested that Syria is "low-hanging fruit" in the campaign against terrorists: a nation that could be punished by further isolation and sanctions because its economy is in poor shape. CLIP
Questions: Who has the most to gain from this assassination? Who will benefit from making Syria look like the bad guys? Who recently called Syria one of several "outposts of tyranny" in the world? Read also "Long Expected Roundup of Dissident Citizens Began Today in America, Unconfirmed Reports Show" below. Here is a relevant excerpt: "The massive bombing in Lebanon yesterday that took the life of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri has the appearance of a typical Israeli type operation which they have used to great effect in the past. As we can read from the Reuters News Service, "A statement attributed to al Qaeda and posted on the Internet on Tuesday denied Islamists had killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, saying Lebanese, Syrian or Israeli intelligence were behind the attack." As I had reported to you on February 8th in my writing titled "Massive US Military Movements Move World to Twilight of War", 25,000 thousand United States troops had suddenly left the Iraqi war zone for a destination still unknown, but various Middle East intelligence agencies believe these forces will be used for the invasion of Syria from the Mediterranean. They also believe that the talk of war involving the United States and Iran has been a deliberate 'cover' to keep the knowledge of this invasion secret and unknown to the American people." CLIP
Lebanese Vent Anger on Syria After Hariri Killing (Feb 15)
Lebanese opposition leaders on Tuesday bluntly implicated Syria in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, with mourners taking out their anger on Syrian workers in the former prime minister's hometown. (...) Hariri, 60, who masterminded postwar reconstruction, was killed along with 14 others when a car bomb ripped through his motorcade in Beirut's seafront luxury hotel district. About 135 people were wounded in the biggest explosion since the war. (...) A previously unknown Islamist group said on Monday it had carried out a suicide attack against Hariri, who also holds Saudi citizenship, because he supported the Saudi royal family. Hariri resigned as prime minister in October after falling out with Syria over its role in extending the term of his political rival, President Emile Lahoud. He then joined opposition leaders in calling for Syria to withdraw its troops and stop interfering in Lebanese affairs, as demanded by the U.N. Security Council resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set new conditions for any negotiations with Syria on Tuesday, saying Damascus must first withdraw troops from Lebanon in line with the resolution. Israel had previously said only that Syria had to stop supporting Palestinian militant groups with offices in Damascus before there could be any resumption of talks, which foundered in 2000. Syria, seeking the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, has recently called for new negotiations. Political tension had already been building in Lebanon as campaigning began for parliamentary elections in May which were widely seen as a test of Syria's influence. But Franjieh said "the elections will take place on schedule." Syrian state media said Syria had embraced Hariri "as one of its own sons" and condemned his killing.
North Korea Says It Has Nuclear Weapons, Leaves Talks
Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression
The Bush administration has officially identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of "the road map to war". Targeting Iran is a bipartisan project, which broadly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil conglomerates, the Wall Street financial establishment and the military-industrial complex. The broader Middle East-Central Asian region encompasses more than 70% of the World's reserves of oil and natural gas. Iraq possesses 11% of the world's oil and ranks only second to Saudi Arabia in the size of its reserves. The announcement to target Iran should come as no surprise. Already during the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated "in war theater plans" to invade both Iraq and Iran: CLIP
As Things Fall Apart, Lie and Lie Again - Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself
Suppose you are the party responsible for invading a country under totally false pretenses. Suppose you had totally unrealistic expectations about the consequences of your gratuitous aggression.What do you do when, instead of being greeted with flowers, you find your army is tied down by insurgents and you have no face-saving way to get out of the morass? If you are the moronic Bush administration, you blame someone else.Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Cheney and Bush blame Syria and Iran for the troubles that they brought upon themselves. The Iraqi insurgency, say the Five Morons, is the fault of Syria and Iran.Here is Rumsfeld excusing himself for his dismal failures in Iraq: "Partly it's [the insurgency] a function of what the Syrians and the Iranians are doing."You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq." CLIP
Congress Passes 'Doomsday' Plan (January 12, 2005)
WASHINGTON - With no fanfare, the U.S. House has passed a controversial doomsday provision that would allow a handful of lawmakers to run Congress if a terrorist attack or major disaster killed or incapacitated large numbers of congressmen. "I think (the new rule) is terrible in a whole host of ways - first, I think it's unconstitutional,'' said Norm Ornstein, a counselor to the independent Continuity of Government Commission, a bipartisan panel created to study the issue. "It's a very foolish thing to do, I believe, and the way in which it was done was more foolish.'' But supporters say the rule provides a stopgap measure to allow the government to continue functioning at a time of national crisis. GOP House leaders pushed the provision as part of a larger rules package that drew attention instead for its proposed ethics changes, most of which were dropped.Usually, 218 lawmakers - a majority of the 435 members of Congress - are required to conduct House business, such as passing laws or declaring war. But under the new rule, a majority of living congressmen no longer will be needed to do business under "catastrophic circumstances.'' Instead, a majority of the congressmen able to show up at the House would be enough to conduct business, conceivably a dozen lawmakers or less.The House speaker would announce the number after a report by the House Sergeant at Arms. Any lawmaker unable to make it to the chamber would effectively not be counted as a congressman.The circumstances include "natural disaster, attack, contagion or similar calamity rendering Representatives incapable of attending the proceedings of the House.'' CLIP
Montreal terrorist suspect testifies (Feb. 8, 2005)
MONTREAL- A Moroccan-born Montrealer detained for nearly two years on suspicion of being a terrorist testified for the first time yesterday, suggesting ultra-conservative Americans may have been responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States."I'm not an expert but from what I read, some guy living in a cave doesn't have the means to plan an attack against the most powerful nation in the world," Adil Charkaoui said when Federal Court Justice Simon Noël asked who was responsible for the attacks."It could've been (Osama) bin Laden," Charkaoui said. "But maybe it was done by ultra-conservatives in the United States for economic gain."It was the world's biggest conspiracy." CLIP - recommended by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com> who wrote: "Jean, I can't tell the difference between the US and Canada after reading stuff like this."
THE PENTAGONS NEW MAP
IT EXPLAINS WHY WERE GOING TO WAR, AND WHY WELL KEEP GOING TO WAR. See map at
Recommended by "Meria Heller" MeriaHeller@cox.net> who wrote: > "Can you believe that these people would be so brazen as to put this out on the internet. This explains the NWO plan."
The Return of the Draft (27 January 2005)
With the army desperate for recruits, should college students be packing their bags for Canada? Uncle Sam wants you. He needs you. He'll bribe you to sign up. He'll strong-arm you to re-enlist. And if that's not enough, he's got a plan to draft you. CLIP
State of Delusion
President Bush says the "state of the union is strong and confident." But Americans and the rest of the world have good reason to be skeptical about the president's claims that his domestic and foreign policies are producing widespread prosperity and peace. Dividing the union -- and the world -- was the main accomplishment of the first Bush administration. The president's State of the Union address, despite the flurry of commitments to diplomacy abroad and improving the well-being of Americans, outlined a new policy agenda that is a commitment to endless war and confrontation abroad. Bush's foreign policy vision, with its emphasis on the role of the U.S. as a global cop and cultural missionary, will make America less secure and further alienate our country from the international community of nations. CLIP
Fraud and corruption by George Monbiot (February 8, 2005)
Forget the UN. The US occupation regime helped itself to $8.8 bn of mostly Iraqi money in just 14 months - The Republican senators who have devoted their careers to mauling the United Nations are seldom accused of shyness. But they went strangely quiet on Thursday. Henry Hyde became Henry Jekyll. Norm Coleman's mustard turned to honey. Convinced that the UN is a conspiracy against the sovereignty of the United States, they had been ready to launch the attack which would have toppled the hated Kofi Annan and destroyed his organisation. A report by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US federal reserve, was meant to have proved that, as a result of corruption within the UN's oil-for-food programme, Saddam Hussein was able to sustain his regime by diverting oil revenues into his own hands. But Volcker came up with something else. "The major source of external financial resources to the Iraqi regime," he reported, "resulted from sanctions violations outside the [oil-for-food] programme's framework." These violations consisted of "illicit sales" of oil by the Iraqi regime to Turkey and Jordan. The members of the UN security council, including the United States, knew about them but did nothing. "United States law requires that assistance programmes to countries in violation of UN sanctions be ended unless continuation is determined to be in the national interest. Such determinations were provided by successive United States administrations." The government of the US, in other words, though it had been informed about a smuggling operation which brought Saddam Hussein's regime some $4.6bn, decided to let it continue. It did so because it deemed the smuggling to be in its national interest, as it helped friendly countries (Turkey and Jordan) evade the sanctions on Iraq. The biggest source of illegal funds to Saddam Hussein was approved not by officials of the UN but by officials in the US. Strange to relate, neither Mr Hyde nor Mr Coleman have yet been bellyaching about it. But this isn't the half of it.
Rebuilding Iraq: The Buck Stops Where? (By Arianna Huffington 2-9-05)
(...) By even the most charitable standard, the effort to rebuild Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. A cornucopia of waste, fraud, ineptitude, cronyism, secret no-bid contracts, and profiteering cloaked in patriotism. There is the $9 billion the U.S.-led occupation government can't account for; the over 70 investigations into potential criminal cases involving U.S.-funded projects; the ongoing billing disputes with Halliburton, which despite having repeatedly ripped off taxpayers, continues to receive billion-dollar contracts; the $20 billion in Iraqi oil money kept track of by a single accountant; the study showing that up to 30 percent of reconstruction funds are being lost to fraud and corporate malfeasance. Whether you are passionately in favor of the war or passionately against it, don't you want to know exactly where our money is going and how we can stop the corruption? On top of the corruption is the fact that, because so little of the $24 billion in taxpayer money that Congress has earmarked for reconstruction is reaching ordinary Iraqis, two years after we cakewalked over Saddam, the Iraqi people are still facing massive food shortages, energy shortages, and woefully inadequate water and sewage systems. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, only 27 cents of every dollar spent on rebuilding Iraq has gone to actually improving the lives of its people, with the rest going to security, waste, overhead and fattening the bottom line of big U.S. corporations. Despite this abysmal track record, Congress has all but relinquished its historic - and constitutionally mandated - role as government watchdog, one of the keys to our system of checks and balances. Instead, these days, our watchdogs have turned into lapdogs. CLIP
U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran for Arms
"Don't Get Back on that Plane" - Soldiers: Seek Asylum in Ireland (Feb ) http://www.counterpunch.org/browne02082005.html
The chain of violence and corruption that connects the United States with Iraq includes an airport in the west of Ireland. For more than two years, as reported previously in Counterpunch, the Irish peace movement has been trying to break the chain. Having failed, so far, to do that, campaigners now hope to turn Shannon Airport into the weakest link.A group of activists, including several of the 'Pitstop Ploughshares' who face trial next month for their 'disarmament' of a US Navy plane in 2003, have called for American military war resisters to seek official refuge while their planes refuel and they are let wander through the lounges of this relatively small civilian airport.Ireland is said to be a neutral country: it is not, in any case, a member of NATO, nor was its inclusion in the Coalition of the Willing ever frankly admitted either by US or Irish government officials. However, its facilities have played a considerable and growing role in the US war and occupation. Last year, 158,549 US troops passed through the airport on 1,502 flights - mainly civilian charter aircraft. Those troop numbers were 26 per cent higher than in 2003. In addition, Irish officials granted permission for 753 military aircraft to land, and 816 aircraft carrying munitions.The invitation for some of these troops effectively to desert comes from members of the Irish parliament and even a former Irish army commandant, Ed Horgan -- who made it clear he wouldn't make such a suggestion lightly. And those making the call realise that it is not abstract rhetoric: it is estimated that more than 5,500 soldiers have left their 'duties' in the current wars, including highly publicised cases like the imprisoned Camilio Mejia, the exiled Jeremy Hinzman (seeking refuge in Canada) and Kevin Benderman, seeking conscientious-objector status after 10 years in the army because of what he witnessed on his first tour of duty in Iraq. CLIP
Hegemony or Survival America's Quest for Global Dominance
An immediate national bestseller, Hegemony or Survival demonstrates how, for more than half a century the United States has been pursuing a grand imperial strategy with the aim of staking out the globe. Our leaders have shown themselves willing -- as in the Cuban missile crisis -- to follow the dream of dominance no matter how high the risks. World-renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky investigates how we came to this perilous moment and why our rulers are willing to jeopardize the future of our species. With the striking logic that is his trademark, Chomsky tracks the U.S. government's aggressive pursuit of "full spectrum dominance" and vividly lays out how the most recent manifestations of the politics of global control -- from unilateralism to the dismantling of international agreements to state terrorism -- cohere in a drive for hegemony that ultimately threatens our existence. CLIP - Read an excerpt at http://www.americanempireproject.com/bookexcerpt.asp?ISBN=0805076883
Bush team tried to suppress pre-9/11 report into al-Qa'ida (11 February 2005)
Federal officials were repeatedly warned in the months before the 11 September 2001 terror attacks that Osamab in Laden and al-Qa'ida were planning aircraft hijackings and suicide attacks, according to a new report that the Bush administration has beensuppressing.Critics say the new information undermines the government's claim that intelligence about al-Qa'ida's ambitions was "historical" in nature. (...) She told The Independent: "There were 52 threats that were mentioned. CLIP
Of Nazis, 9/11 Victims (February 9, 2005)
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) -- A University of Colorado professor who likened September 11 victims to Nazis got a standing ovation when he told a campus audience of more than 1,000 people that "I'm not backing up an inch." (...) In an essay, Churchill wrote that workers in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who ensured the smooth running of the Nazi system. Churchill also spoke of the "gallant sacrifices" of the "combat teams" that struck America. CLIP - Recommended by "Stephanie Sutton" firstname.lastname@example.org> who wrote: "I saw this on CNN last night. They showed Churchill talking before a large crowd saying very revealing things and everyone cheering. It was the first moment in a long time where I felt a ray of hope. Read on .very fascinating." Also related: It's the Singer... Not the Song - What Ward Churchill Didn't Say at hhttp://www.counterpunch.org/mickey02092005.html
"Didn't We Get Rid of Those People Years Ago?" - Reflections on Empire and Uppity Indians (February 9, 2005)
(...) Dead people of color, the world over, or right here in the U.S., whose ashes they step over every time they walk out the door of their homes, mean nothing to them. Their deaths are cause for no tears, no contrition, no recompense, and certainly have never served to disqualify those responsible (or those who applaud the carnage) from positions of authority, in colleges, or government. Nor will schools now move to block dear Madame Albright from speaking on their campuses, as happened to Ward; nor will Ann Coulter find herself a pariah for fantasizing about the incineration of folks whose only crime was to be born North Korean. But Ward Churchill, who has merely laid out the facts about America's murderous ways around the globe--facts that have not been disputed even once by any of his critics--is to be silenced. Those who do the deed are cheered, re-elected and get buildings named after them. Those who merely tell of their exploits and suggest that perhaps there may be consequences, get crushed. This is what happens, in a nation built on lies from the beginning; whose empire has been constructed on the sands of self-delusion; whose inability to tell the truth about itself has now become the stuff of farce. Our lack of self-awareness, not to mention the way in which Americans pride ourselves on how little we know about the world, and how reflexively patriotic we can be, would all be funny were it not so miserably pathetic, and ultimately so dangerous. CLIP - This article is related to the same speech by Ward Churchill mentioned in the previous aricle above, and has been recommended by Anni von Maltzan MerFaeriel@aol.com> who wrote: "This is a good introductory article that alerts, and summarises, the profoundly racist basis of ongoing American imperialism. It reminds us of the 40 some sovereign governments that the secretive U.S. gov't powers have attempted to undermine in the last fifty years -- the largest percentage of 'brown' or 'black' heritage...(and the 'whites' mostly of peasant or tribal stock. Ward Churchill is in my meditations and prayers. He's had the courage to speak up and attempt to pull the curtains away of the Big Lie, and 'THE MAN', as they used to say in the 60's, behind it. The "Powers That Be", "The Establishment". Yes, perhaps a few of his comments have been a tad brash, imprudent -- yet, as the article delineates, they are nothing in comparison to the outrageous remarks of the pro-regime prostitutes. I thank the Native American gods for bringing one of their sons forward to teach all of us -- a fearless hero, dedicated, and willing to risk all for truth. I pray, with all others who realise, for his safety and the freedom to continue his mission."
Video of Ward Churchill's February 8 speech at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Several pictures as well.
HR 418: A National ID Bill Masquerading as Immigration Reform (Feb 12, 2005)
by Rep. Ron Paul
I rise in strong opposition to HR 418, the REAL ID Act. This bill purports to make us safer from terrorists who may sneak into the United States, and from other illegal immigrants. While I agree that these issues are of vital importance, this bill will do very little to make us more secure. It will not address our real vulnerabilities. It will, however, make us much less free. In reality, this bill is a Trojan horse. It pretends to offer desperately needed border control in order to stampede Americans into sacrificing what is uniquely American: our constitutionally protected liberty. What is wrong with this bill?The REAL ID Act establishes a national ID card by mandating that states include certain minimum identification standards on driver's licenses. It contains no limits on the government's power to impose additional standards. Indeed, it gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add requirements as he sees fit.Supporters claim it is not a national ID because it is voluntary. However, any state that opts out will automatically make non-persons out of its citizens. The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government they will cease to exist. It is absurd to call this voluntary.(...) This legislation gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to expand required information on driver's licenses, potentially including such biometric information as retina scans, finger prints, DNA information, and even Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) radio tracking technology. Including such technology as RFID would mean that the federal government, as well as the governments of Canada and Mexico, would know where Americans are at all time of the day and night.There are no limits on what happens to the database of sensitive information on Americans once it leaves the United States for Canada and Mexico - or perhaps other countries. Who is to stop a corrupt foreign government official from selling or giving this information to human traffickers or even terrorists? Will this uncertainty make us feel safer?What will all of this mean for us? When this new program is implemented, every time we are required to show our driver's license we will, in fact, be showing a national identification card. We will be handing over a card that includes our personal and likely biometric information, information which is connected to a national and international database. (...) H.R. 418 does what legislation restricting firearm ownership does. It punishes law-abiding citizens. Criminals will ignore it. H.R. 418 offers us a false sense of greater security at the cost of taking a gigantic step toward making America a police state. - Read the bill at <
OUTSOURCING TORTURE: The secret history of Americas extraordinary rendition program. (2005-02-07)
On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture. Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bushs statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. (...) During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of the Special Removal Unit. The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. (...) Rendition was originally carried out on a limited basis, but after September 11th, when President Bush declared a global war on terrorism, the program expanded beyond recognitionbecoming, according to a former C.I.A. official, an abomination. What began as a program aimed at a small, discrete set of suspectspeople against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrantscame to include a wide and ill-defined population that the Administration terms illegal enemy combatants. Many of them have never been publicly charged with any crime. CLIP
Bush's Class-War Budget (February 11, 2005)
It may sound shrill to describe President Bush as someone who takes food from the mouths of babes and gives the proceeds to his millionaire friends. Yet his latest budget proposal is top-down class warfare in action. CLIP
US multinationals awarded huge tax break on foreign earnings (15 February 2005)
Under the guise of a provision to create jobs, the US Congress passed a revision to the tax code allowing an 85 percent reduction in taxes on foreign earnings of many of the country's largest corporations. The reduction applies to profits made and held by overseas subsidiaries. Instead of requiring the companies to pay the standard 35 percent top corporate tax rate on these earnings, the rate on such earnings "repatriated" to the US parent will go down to a mere 5.25 percent for one year.The Wall Street Journal estimates that as much as $750 billion in profits may be subject to the lower rate.A provision of the law is supposed to prohibit companies from using the tax bonanza to boost dividends, buy back stock or raise executives compensation. Nothing, however, prevents the companies from using the money to pay down debt, for capital spending that may already have been budgeted, or for research and development costs. Money saved on such purposes could easily be reallocated for the technically prohibited uses. Under the "domestic reinvestment" plans required under the act, consumer giant Procter & Gamble, for instance, is expected to use the extra cash to help finance its planned $57 billion acquisition of Gillette. Cereal maker Kellogg, Inc., likewise announced it would use the money to purchase competitors. While the law is titled the "American Jobs Creation Act," it could more accurately be described as the "American Corporate Tax Boondoggle Act." It passed the US House by 280 to 141 and the Senate by 69 to 17. President Bush signed it into law last October, but its impact is only now coming to light as corporations project earnings for the coming year based on the tax breaks. The list of companies that stand to benefit reads like a Who's Who of American business. Exxon, General Electric and IBM have profits subject to the favorable tax treatment of about $20 billion each. Pharmaceutical manufacturers stand to reap exceptional rewards. Pfizer heads the list at $38 billion of eligible overseas earnings, followed by Merck at $18 billion, Johnson & Johnson at $14.8 billion and Eli Lilly at $9.5 billion. Drug makers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Schering-Plough are also sitting on many billions of "unrepatriated" earnings. The excuse provided to lawmakers for signing on to such a blatant corporate tax giveaway is that pumping dollars into corporate America will stimulate the economy, resulting in the creation of new jobs. The package does not, however, require that a single job be created. Computer maker Hewlett-Packard, which lobbied heavily for the bill and is sitting on some $14 billion in accumulated foreign profits, announced recently that it would continue to cut jobs this year, on top of the 25,000 it has eliminated over the past three. CLIP
Union Nears Win, Wal-Mart Closes Store (February 10, 2005)
NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it will close one of its Canadian stores, just as some 200 workers at the location are near winning the first-ever union contract from the world's largest retailer.Wal-Mart said it was shuttering the store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators that would make it impossible for the store to sustain itself. (...) Union leaders dismissed Wal-Mart's reasons for closing the store and promised to fight the move. "Wal-Mart has fired these workers not because the store was losing money but because the workers exercised their right to join a union," Michael J. Fraser, national director of UFCW Canada, said in a written statement. "Once again, Wal-Mart has decided it is above the law and that the only rules that count are their rules."Wal-Mart's decision to close the store reflects the retailer's deeply rooted aversion to unions, and its worries that organized labor had nearly established a beachhead, said Burt Flickinger III of Strategic Resource Group, a consulting firm specializing in retailing and consumer goods.But he said the move could backfire for Wal-Mart, which has worked hard to counter a wave of bad publicity and portray itself as a generous employer."The store closing may potentially catalyze the combination of the government (officials in Canada), organized labor and consumers working together against Wal-Mart," Flickinger said. CLIP
New Report Details Wal-Mart's Labor Abuses and Hidden Costs
Walmart - Again - Not So Blue (February 14, 2005)
So, Walmart is in the news again today. According to Labor Blog, they have settled with the Labor Department for an absurdly small amount of money some problems they had with child labor in a few states. Oh, and that was after the Labor Dept gave them 15 days notice that inspections would be forthcoming. This just after Walmart has spent a few million bucks on an ad campaign with the message, "We're not evil! Really!" Who believes that?Even if you believe in the free market, and that capitalism can cure what ails you, you probably don't believe that it's A-OK for corporations to ignore laws that are inconvenient, and then pay the government some pittance to make any problems go away. Most Republicans wouldn't condone cheating on income taxes, no matter how repugnant they think they are - how are Walmart's actions any different? They hire teenagers, and then overwork them and have them operating dangerous machines. They hire illegal immigrants and plead ignorance when it comes out. They give their employees information on how to collect food stamps, because they know full well they have to get supplements from welfare to get by - these are the actions of corporate thugs, not responsible corporate citizens. CLIP
Smile, Wal-Mart! (March 22, 2004)
Largest retailer tops Fortune 500 for 3rd straight year, followed by Exxon Mobil - NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - There's another reason for that smiley face -- for the third straight year, Wal-Mart Stores tops the annual Fortune 500 ranking of the nation's largest companies. Wal-Mart, the Bentonville, Ark.-based discount retailer, is one of only three companies ever to top the prestigious list, whose 50th edition was announced Sunday by Fortune magazine. The other companies are Exxon Mobil, which rose one spot to second place, and General Motors, which slipped a notch to third. Rounding out the top 10 companies on the list are Ford Motor, General Electric, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Citigroup, IBM and American International Group. The magazine said the list's 500 companies took in a record $7.5 trillion in revenue and earned $445.6 billion in profit, thanks in part to the lowest interest rates in four decades and the Bush administration's tax cuts and spending programs.
Learn about the high cost of Wal-Mart's bad neighbor practices to your community. Read the stories from those who have fought against Wal-Mart and won (Success Stories) or those battling the beast right now (Site Fights) . In these sections you can also send us your story about how Wal-Mart's irresponsible practices have affected your community. Click on Wal of Shame for cases of harassment, discrimination and mistreatment of employees.
Wal-Mart's Shirts of Misery - Walmart In Bangladesh
When you purchase a shirt in Walmart, do you ever imagine young women in Bangladesh forced to work from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week, paid just 9 cents to 20 cents an hour, who are denied health care and maternity leave; screamed at to work faster; with monitored bathroom visits; and who will be fired for daring to complain or ask for their rights? At the Beximco factory in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Bangladesh, there are 1,000 workers, at least 80 percent of them young women, sewing shirts and pants for Walmart and other retailers. Beximco is a sweatshop, where human rights are systematically violated. CLIP
Shame on Walmart
Walmart and its contractor Beximco do not pay the overtime premium. In fact, as we have seen, they do not even pay the legal hourly wage of 33 cents. They pay only 20 cents an hour and pay overtime at this same illegal 20-cent rate.These workers are locked in poverty, being cheated out of over $20 a week in legal wages by the largest retailer in the world. The workers are being illegally paid just $16 for a full 80-hour workweek. For the forced 80-hour week, they should be earning at least $36.96. Surely Walmart, with $7.6 billion in annual operating profits, could afford this wage! Some of the poorest people in the world are being illegally robbed of their wages, driving them deeper into misery. Even the 33-cent an hour wage does not come close to meeting basic subsistence needs. This is why in Bangladesh there is no difference in the malnutrition rate of children whether their parents are unemployed or are working in factories sewing garments for the largest U.S. companies. Even the legal minimum wage is set too low to allow the workers to climb out of misery.No maternity leave: At Beximco, legal maternity leave is denied and benefits are not paid. CLIP