Meditation Focus #98
Rekindling Democracy in America
What follows is the 98th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, October 26, 2003.
REKINDLING DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus
4. October 25 Anti-War Protests
5. The Peasants' Revolution in Bolivia
PLEASE MAKE SURE TO NOTE THE NEW MEDITATION TIMES BELOW ... Daylight Saving Time ends in North America, Europe and starts in Australia this October 26.
Note also that a Special Harmonic Concordance Meditation Focus will soon be issued.
In just about a year from now, the United States of America will go through another presidential election. Never before an election has held such a critical importance for the future of this world and never before democracy has been under such a direct threat of being turned upside-down into a cunningly pre-arranged coronation of the candidate selected by a powerful hidden elite to defend and promote its interests - which are diametrically opposed to the most vital interests of the entire human family and which utterly jeopardize the very survival of Life of Earth. What is at stake here is the direction our world will take, either to continue its headlong rush towards global disaster on all fronts or to change course and reclaim what has been lost through almost demonic corruption of so many souls on Earth: our freedom to be all that we are meant to be as children of the Universal One and the possibility to live in a paradise-like environment, in perfect Harmony with All That is.
It is incumbent upon us, the spiritually awakening Brethren of the Light, to ensure, through our active participation in the affairs of this world and through our enlightened outspokenness in defense of our sacred right to choose who will govern on our behalf, unhindered by an overt or covert political machinations, that democracy - true democracy! - will prevail and that the most really capable and spiritually attuned leader will be voted in office at the highest level of the most powerful nation on Earth and, in due time, everywhere else on this planet. It is within our power, when united in common purpose and yet demonstrating our soul-guided commitment through a multitude of diverse initiatives, to positively influence the deep feelings, opinions and choices of our fellow citizens, wherever we may happen to live, towards mobilizing and steering the collective will of the people in the best possible direction, supporting the persons, organizations and initiatives best conducive to help manifest a glorious world at peace with itself and its natural environment, a world in which poverty, disease and violence under any form shall be forever eradicated.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the correct time (see below) this Sunday and the following one, to contribute in fostering within every single soul on Earth an unshakeable will to help manifest the conditions for true democracy to emerge, thus empowering each human being with the mission to make things right in his or her sphere of influence and to garner support towards helping to secure the highest office of the American land into the able and steady hands of the candidate whom we feel deep within is the best aligned with the values of peace, justice and spiritual balance we are all learning to cherish and defend, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus98.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have not received or did not read yet "Rising Phoenix Series #25: Shifting Point Fast Approaching" which was circulated last October 17, the following articles in this compilation is highly recommended:
"Question to Matthew about Dennis Kucinich" and "BE INFORMED AND ACT"
HERE IS A RELEVANT AND IMPORTANT EXCERPT:
(...) Think of what you want in your world. If that is peace and harmony and cooperation. that's where to focus your thoughts. What will bring that to the world? Think of what will: Respect and dignity for all races and faiths and genders; help wherever help is needed; equitable sharing of Earth's vast riches; cures of all diseases; education, fulfilling work and comfortable homes; honesty, kindness, compassion, fairness, sharing, justness, forgiveness.
Think of all those qualities and circumstances and let your heart and conscience guide you to the candidates you most closely identify with them. The words of campaign promises are worthless without a candidate's heart and soul in them. Let your heart and soul, not just your eyes and ears, lead you to the one person who embodies the love and light to uplift your world.
The third level is action. If you want to have a leader whom you trust, work toward that end. Publicly and financially support the person you want, but if that isn't possible, then put forth your intention through the power of your energy focused on that person actually being in office. I cannot emphasize too strongly the power of energy sent out with attachments of intent! You can be sure that the current people in power will be amassing the strength of their supporters' energy, because those supporters get the trickle-down largesse in exchange. You who want love, peace and harmony will receive those incomparably greater victories in exchange for the energy you issue forth to create them.
Because that grand and beautiful country called America is pivotal in determining what happens all over the planet, its 2004 presidential election is of international concern. The three levels of involvement I have just delineated apply to all people in the world as pertaining to this election. Discernment of information and energy are without national boundaries or distance limitations, so a South African or Brazilian or Chinese or Egyptian has the same power of focusing intent as any USA citizen.
That country may appear to be the haven for democracy, but that is a farce of the highest order. You may believe that legal and honest processes are observed in "democratic" elections, but it has been many, many decades since the last of those. There haven't been any honest elections anywhere else on Earth, either, but it's just not as obvious that there haven't been any in the United States, where the citizens have been duped for such a long time into believing their voices and votes count.
The men and women in the federal government are not ruling that country "with freedom and justice for all." Those are hollow words, just as the two-party system is meaningless insofar as giving voters a choicethe dark forces have influence that knows no party boundaries. Government officials who have acted in accordance with their sense of honesty and right-ness have been disposed of by one means or another. Those who are not killed are threatened with it or they are ridiculed into non-credibility or are forced into oblivion insofar as any influence. That is what has been passing as the "democratic system of government" in America.
Only with an honest voting process can the people's choices be given their true value, and you citizens of USA don't have that. Your votes are denied, ignored or manipulated to serve the interests of the "power elite," one term used to denote the few most powerful people on Earth who are controlling everything to serve themselves. If you want to have an honest election for a change, work toward that end. Investigate the voter eligibility rolls and balloting mechanisms, the people who handle the ballots, the corporation that counts them and releases the totals to the networks for announcing. I tell you, there is deception and corruption up and down the line, and curing that ill has to precede the next presidential election.
CLIP - Read the rest at http://www.EarthRainbowNetwork.com/Archives2003/RisingPhoenix25.htm
"One Machine to Rule Them All -- Thanks in part to the recent Bush approved Help America Vote Act (HAVA), squadrons of shiny new Touch Screen Trojan horses are being rolled into precincts across America. Not, as we are told, to make voting easier or more accurate, or to help disabled people vote privately, or to save America from the dangers of hanging chad and butterfly ballots -- no. The real reason America is being flooded with billions of dollars worth of paperless computerized voting machines is so that no one will ever again be able to prove vote fraud. These machines are not just unverifiable, they are secretly programmed (their software is not open to scrutiny by election officials or computer experts), equipped with modems, accessible by computer, telephone, and satellite. They are the final product of decades of work by the election rigging industry. When they are installed in every precinct in America, our elections will finally become completely meaningless, nothing more than charades behind which criminal thugs will wield the power of this nation."
-- Taken from this article below.
A Brief History of Computerized Election Fraud in America
By Victoria Collier
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Saturday 25 October 2003
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
In the 2000 election, George W. Bush stole the presidency by combining various forms of vote fraud, not all of which could be concealed from the American public. The month-long battle in Dade County ended with open slaughter of the democratic process, and the occupation of the country by a regime of what may be accurately described as corporate fascists.
Thats the bad news.
The good news is, the 2000 election also marked a turning point in American consciousness. Or, I might venture to say, an awakening.
Before Ws coup, most Americans were, for lack of a better metaphor, asleep at the wheel. This metaphor works just fine, because our electoral process is the wheel that guides our nation, the mechanism that allows us to control the engines of power, and to turn our country in a new direction if, for instance, were nearing the edge of a cliff.
Nothing is more important to an American citizen than the right to cast a ballot.
But modern Americans have been abandoning the voting booth in droves. Over the past fifty years, less than half of all eligible voters went to the polls, sometimes less than 25%. However, far more astounding is that those who voted rarely bothered to wonder if their vote was counted accurately.
A vote cast but not counted is meaningless. The only way to know that your vote is properly counted is to watch the entire counting process, which is why election law requires an open, public vote count, and makes secret ballot counting illegal. However, most voters have eagerly abdicated the responsibility of overseeing their vote count to a handful of extremely dubious experts and officials. Human nature is largely to blame. November election night in most states is cold -- and often wet. Those who manage to make their way to the polls after work want only to go home, turn on the TV, and let their local newscaster tell them who won. And yet, our natural instinct to curl up on the couch cannot be wholly to blame. Recent history has shown that the most avid political junkies even candidates themselves -- have demonstrated a profound disinterest in how the gears and levers work behind the scene on election night, or who is controlling them.
It should not surprise us that vote fraud has flourished in this vacuum of electoral vigilance. Criminals of every stripe have slithered through the unwatched gates and into positions of power in America. It has not taken them long to corrupt the entire electoral process itself, securing for themselves the gates of power. As I write this article, America is on the verge of losing the last shreds of its democracy, with the rise of ballot-less computerized voting machines.
One Machine to Rule Them All
Thanks in part to the recent Bush approved Help America Vote Act (HAVA), squadrons of shiny new Touch Screen Trojan horses are being rolled into precincts across America. Not, as we are told, to make voting easier or more accurate, or to help disabled people vote privately, or to save America from the dangers of hanging chad and butterfly ballots -- no. The real reason America is being flooded with billions of dollars worth of paperless computerized voting machines is so that no one will ever again be able to prove vote fraud.
These machines are not just unverifiable, they are secretly programmed (their software is not open to scrutiny by election officials or computer experts), equipped with modems, accessible by computer, telephone, and satellite. They are the final product of decades of work by the election rigging industry. When they are installed in every precinct in America, our elections will finally become completely meaningless, nothing more than charades behind which criminal thugs will wield the power of this nation.
That is the plan for America. But theres a glitch.
The blatant and multi-faceted fraud of the 2000 election -- in which the ultimate poster boy for corporate corruption stole the highest seat in the nation -- woke the American people from their dangerous slumber. The issue of election fraud is now smoldering in the minds of millions. Of course the Touch Screens were immediately offered as the solution to all our voting problems, but thanks to the wonderful work of many new computerized vote fraud researchers, most notably Bev Harris (author of Black Box Voting), Americans are quickly recognizing that the solution is worse than the problem.
Despite the best propaganda efforts of corrupt voting machine corporations like Diebold and ES&S, even those with the worst butterfly ballot jitters are coming to understand that destroying the ballot altogether, erasing any verifiable record of the vote count and making a recount impossible, is not the answer to our problems. And, as the Touch Screen systems continue to openly malfunction, increasing numbers of voters will begin doubting their safety and accuracy.
Its becoming clear to Americans that, just like the aftermath of the Enron scandal, no real government reform is forthcoming in the area of election security. The news is out that the same company that was used in Florida to purge voter rolls of millions of African American votes is now being hired by other states across the country for the same job. As you will soon see, many of our Boards of Elections and Secretarys of State will continue to blindly defend their collusion with shadowy corporations, and spending billions of tax-payer dollars on unreliable machines that patently subvert the democratic process. Why? Because they have sold out. They have been bought by corporate interests. It happened a long time ago.
As political events at home and around the world continue to unfold in one devastating disaster after another, our cry for honest elections will only grow louder. The movement toward real election reform, and what will, in the end, amount to a revolution by the American people, is only just beginning.
We the People are responsible for taking back the control of our democratic process. No one else will do it for us. We cannot afford to be naïve, or uneducated, at this time in history. In order to fully understand the extent of the corruption we are dealing with, and to avoid making dangerous mistakes based on ignorance, we must understand the history, and the power structure, behind vote fraud in America.
Votescam: The Stealing of America
One of the most mysterious, low-profile, covert, shadowy, questionable mechanisms of American democracy is the American vote count. --- Votescam
I grew up with two men who spent twenty-five years investigating vote fraud in America: James and Kenneth Collier, my father and uncle.
Their book, Votescam: The Stealing of America was published in 1992 and immediately banned by the major book chains, which listed the book as out of print and actively worked to prevent its sale. Votescam chronicles the Collier brothers groundbreaking investigation into Americas multi-billion dollar election rigging industry, and the corporate government and media officials who control it.
Before the 2000 election, Votescam was widely read (thanks to independent bookstores and the Internet) by the minority of Americans still engaged in the political process, mostly members of independent and third parties trying to break the chokehold of the two party system. The corporate media will not give their causes or their candidates adequate press coverage -- if any. This censorship alone effectively controls the first stages of our political races. If a candidate cant get T.V. coverage, he or she has little chance of even making it out the gate. These citizens were not surprised to learn that the media has been complicit in rigging the final stages of our elections our vote counting and the reporting of results -- for decades.
Down the Rabbit Hole
The Votescam investigation began in 1970, in surprise!-- Dade County, Florida, where Ken ran for Congress (with Jim as his campaign manager) against Claude Pepper, the Father of Social Security.
The Colliers were researching a book they were writing for Dell Publishing titled: Running Through the System: Ballots Not Bullets, an idea born from their involvement in the social upheaval of the sixties.
Jim and Ken proposed that if our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights were indeed the rule of the land, real change could be made in America by working within the system -- more effectively, and much more safely, than waging bloody revolution in the streets.
Putting their ideals, love of country, and political savvy to the test, the Colliers began their grassroots Congressional campaign and discovered exactly why the bullet, not the ballot, was being used to change the power structure in America.
Ken was rigged out of the election through a vote scam, which the Colliers later discovered was used throughout the country for decades. It went like this: The local newscaster would announce during the broadcast of election returns that election computer has broken down. Instead of giving official returns from the County courthouse, the networks would be running vote projections for the rest of the night.
Jim and Ken, who had garnered 30 percent of the vote and were excited about running again, noticed that when the vote totals came back on the screen after the announcement, they had mysteriously lost 15 percentage points. They didnt get another vote for the rest of the night.
This piqued their interest.
When they examined the official election results from the Secretary of States office for the September primary, October run-off and November final election in Dade County, the record listed a total of 141,000 votes cast for the Governors race in each election. The exact same number of total votes were cast for three elections with a different number of candidates running each time. The same identical figures were listed for the Senate race 122,000 votes cast in the primary, run-off and final election.
This, of course, is a statistical impossibility.
When they compared the official vote results with a print-out of the vote projections broadcast by the TV networks on the final election night, they found that channel 4 had projected with near perfect accuracy the results of 40 races with 250 candidates only 4 minutes after the polls closed. Channel 7 came even closer; at 9:31 pm, they projected the final vote total for a race at 96,499 votes. When the Colliers checked the official number . . . it was also 96,499.
In hockey, they call that a hat trick, the Colliers write. In politics, we call it a fix.
The networks then made the astonishing claim that the results from a single voting machine somewhere in Dade County were run through a computer program in order to get these vote projections.
Elton Davis was the computer programmer responsible for the magic formula that could convert one machines vote results into near perfect projected vote totals for 40 races and 250 candidates. When Jim and Ken confronted Davis in his office at the University of Miami, he responded: Youll never prove it, now get out.
Finally the networks claimed that members of the League of Women Voters were out in the field on election night, calling in vote totals to channels 4 and 7.
When the Colliers confronted the head of the League, Joyce Deiffenderfer, she admitted that there were no LWV members out in the field that night. She broke down crying, saying I dont want to get caught up in this thing.
But theres more.
According to the print-out of the TV networks election night projections, the networks were not receiving any actual voting results at any time during their broadcast, but had been using their own projections from the moment the polls closed. When they claimed that the courthouse computer had broken down, and they would no longer be reporting actual vote totals, they were lying. They had never been reporting actual vote totals.
However, the final shoe dropped months later when an official press release appeared from Dade data processing chief, Leonard White, which stated emphatically: The county computer at the courthouse was never down, and it was never slow.
This was the beginning.
The Collier brothers had slammed their boat into the tip of a giant iceberg. As they continued to investigate, they were horrified to discover vote fraud collusion among key individuals in every branch and on every level of the American political system. Those who were not benefiting from the fraud were too afraid to fight it. Their search for justice led to dead-ends. Their lives were threatened, they were vilified as conspiracy theorists by the mainstream press, Dell publishing cancelled their book contract . . . and yet they persevered.
The next quarter century was spent compiling a wealth of FBI documented evidence proving that elections in the United States have come under the tight control of a handful of powerful and corrupt people: Secretaries of State, Election Supervisors, Judges, owners and editors of the major media outlets, voting equipment corporations, and assorted key members of the elections establishment, including the League of Woman Voters. These groups have assured the dominance of the two party system, unfettered corporate control over government, and media censorship of issues most important to the American people, including the cover-up of vote fraud evidence.
Now we understand why things have gone so terribly wrong in this country. Its due to the corrupted vote. It is the stolen vote that perpetuates corrupt city, state and federal governments. When those corrupt power brokers in your town weed out that up-and-coming politician, they are looking for a person who is willing to play ball. Politics is playing ball. Suddenly you find property decisions going against nature; land and water needed for the perpetuation of life on our earth suddenly disappear. A handful of developers get richer while the land, and the quality of life, get poorer. -- Votescam
Jim and Ken both died young during the 90s, as heroes to many thousands who read their book and heard them speak on the radio and at political meetings across the country. They helped to guide individuals and groups working for clean elections in their communities -- some of them fighting against the first wave of computerized voting machines.
The Colliers last hope was that Votescam would be used as evidence in a serious Congressional investigation into election fraud, if we should ever see the day. Many people still in power have yet to be held accountable for their role in aiding and abetting vote fraud. Ill give you two important examples.
Before I explore this issue in more depth, Id like to offer a brief list of important lessons learned from twenty-five years of fighting vote fraud in the trenches.
1) If there is any conceivable way to tamper with or rig an election someone will attempt it. This includes average citizens as well as officials charged with protecting the process.
2) Every voting system is open to tampering, but paper ballots counted in public are the easiest system to protect and monitor. (Its estimated that only 2% of Americans still vote on a hand-counted paper ballot).
3) Secret vote counting is illegal. Remember : counting them faster is not a justification for counting them secretly.
4) When machines began to take over our vote counting systems, election rigging became an exciting new national industry.
5) Lever machines were the first to appear, and they were riggable in a number of ways. One could rig the lever machine itself, or, much more easily, the electronic scanning machines that counted the ballots. (See the Votescam video for footage of ballot rigging under the supervision of both parties and the Dade County Election Supervisor).
6) Computerized voting machines are the easiest to rig. Their software is not open to public scrutiny, or the scrutiny of Election Supervisors (rendering their title meaningless). There are nearly infinite ways to program the machines to count votes fraudulently. Since they are accessible by modem, they can be controlled from a remote, centralized location.
7) Voting machine companies operate with no federal oversight, certification process, standards or restrictions. Controlling members of some of the most powerful voting machine corporations are convicted criminals, some are politicians with obvious conflicts of interests, others are not even American citizens. Just two companies -- Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and Diebold Voting Systems now control about 80% of the vote count in the U.S.
8) Vote fraud on a statewide and national scale is not possible without the complicity of (among others) corrupt Election Supervisors, Secretaries of State, Judges, voting machine corporations, and top officials of the major media outlets.
9) Both the Democratic and Republican parties have been complicit in vote rigging for decades, to their mutual benefit. Vote rigging is NOT a partisan issue (though recent evidence suggests Republicans might be gaining the upper hand in the race to control our elections).
10) The corporate major media networks play a vital role in perpetrating and covering up vote fraud. Media methods of vote rigging are explored in the Votescam book, including the role of Voter News Service (VNS). (VNS was a consortium of all the major media outlets. It recently closed up shop and scurried off into the shadows, but for decades, under two different corporate names, it controlled the compilation and dissemination of national vote totals, with the power to alter the reported results. The networks have actually not competed for vote totals, as they claim to have done, since 1965. They got all their numbers from VNS , which operated behind an iron curtain of secrecy. Any questions regarding their operation were met with the ubiquitous response: This is not a proper area of inquiry. Most people erroneously thought they were simply a polling organization, though no evidence of their supposedly massive polling operation could be found by investigators). See my interview with Bill Headline, former head of VNS, at http://www.votescam.com/articles.html
11) Election Day media polls are untrustworthy at best, and very likely fabricated to influence voter decisions and to support phony vote results.
Now that Ive provided the minimal context for understanding the current threats we face, we can begin to talk about strategies to win back the control of our government.
CLIP - PLEASE GO READ THE REST OF THIS IMPORTANT ARTICLE AT http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/102503C.shtml
BEYOND BUSH II (by Michael C. Ruppert)
- Media Mesmerism and "The Grand Show"
- Wes Clark of Waco, Kosovo and Mena Drug Connections -- Dean Fades -- Kerry is the Sleeper - What is Dan Sheehan Doing to Dennis Kucinich?
- California Recall Shows "Democracy Terminated"
(...) Richard Scheck is a political activist and researcher who was a classmate of Sheehan's at Harvard Law. He has long known of concerns about Sheehan. Six months ago, this writer provided Scheck with a copy of the Schou article and asked him to pass it up in the campaign for comment. Scheck was a volunteer for the Kucinich team when he saw that Sheehan was positioning himself to play a major role in developing policy and strategy for Kucinich. He spoke personally with the Congressman, as well as several high-level aides, in an attempt to have a potential problem dealt with at the earliest possible moment. "Dennis and his team are six months late in addressing this. I alerted them back in March and was ignored," Scheck told FTW. (...) One more thing should be said about Danny Sheehan. I received a confirmation in 2000 that Daniel Sheehan had served as the executive director of the Rockefeller/Michael Milken-funded State of the World Forum in San Francisco. The Rockefellers are, of course, the creator-founders of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. FTW solicited comment on Sheehan's role in the Kucinich campaign from three separate high-level campaign officials. As of press time for this article, that request has been neither acknowledged nor responded to.
For months, now I have been hammered by readers who have wanted me to say something about the California recall. OK, here it is.
The California recall was a trial run for the rigged use of electronic software in the 2004 election, and further exploitation of coming energy shortages. The race was called just one minute after the polls closed even though electronic software was not used in six counties including Los Angeles County. And no one in the major press has raised a peep about it. Yet, within days, a few intrepid researchers were able to find indications of vote tampering on the proprietary Diebold machines used in many California counties. In an outrageous conflict with the public interest, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell told Ohio Republicans this August that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Even the BBC on October 8th, noted that Diebold and other systems used in California and elsewhere left the door wide open for tampering:
The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia reported on October 8th what Americans, and especially Californians were never told: that the electronic systems were "as flawed as chads."
Excellent background research on what appears to be rampant and overtly criminal behavior by Diebold can be found at the following web sites:
Diebold is only one of many firms making voting software, and all of it seems have problems. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska ought to know. He used to chair a company, American Information Systems, which owns the largest company putting machines into US use, Election Systems and Software. But it's doubtful he's going to complain. Nebraska used his software in the 2002 election and he garnered 83% of the vote. An excellent over view of all the firms involved in electronic voting has been published by The Online Journal at:
One major point here is that when and if a Democrat "wins" the presidency, some Americans will breathe a collective sigh of relief, and think that they beat the corruption. But who's to say the votes weren't rigged in that direction, just to keep the people asleep for a few more years. There is no cause for optimism based upon what we know about potential replacements. CLIP
BEYOND BUSH - PART I (July 1, 2003)
The anatomy of the coup against Bush. How it is being set-up as a form of damage control. How the press is building to a climax that may break even after Bush has won (bought or stolen) re-election. How the CIA is hanging Bush out to dry. -- Powers above the White House are deciding that it's time for the Bush gang to go. As a Watergate-style take down is being meticulously put into place, the question is not whether the Bush Administration will be removed before or after the 2004 election. The important questions are whether Bush's successor will address 9/11, Peak Oil, civil liberties, or any of the critical issues. What is being done even now to control the challengers in the Presidential election? A clandestine drama is unfolding and we'll help you understand it. This special free series is a must-read going into 2004.
Kucinich, Maloney and Sanders Go After Cheney
[Sept 25 , 2003) -- The heat is building to dump Cheney for the 2004 Presidential race. Under fire for continuing compensation fro Halliburton and for a fistful of lies about Iraq , the evidence is building solidly and the heat being placed on the Vice President is building up. We hope this effort continues and grows stronger in the coming months. Special thanks to TRUTHOUT ( www.truthout.org ) for bringing this letter to light. And special praise to Dennis Kucinich who is running much stronger in the hearts and minds of the people than FOX, ABC, or any other media organ will acknowledge. Representatives Kucinich, Maloney and Sanders are members of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Kucinich is the ranking member. CLIP
Kucinich Declines 'Hardball' Interview (Oct 24)
Turning down the opportunity to reach millions for the coziness of Kirkland Houses Junior Common Room, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, has mystified political observers once again. In a move that will likely further his reputation as an eccentric, the dark horse presidential hopeful has chosen to boycott Hardball: Battle for the White House a Harvard-based series of candidate interviews, charging that the series is irreparably tainted by host Chris Matthews conservative agenda. A parade of Democratic candidates will visit Kirkland this fall en route to the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. (...) A recent nationwide poll sponsored by CNN, USA Today and Gallup showed Kucinich in dead last among the nine Democratic contenders, garnering support from three percent of the 388 Democratic voters surveyed.
Kucinich in the polls
According to DemoChoice Web Poll: President Preference Poll (Sept., 2003)
Howard Dean was polled in first place in September with 38.1% of 5,536 ballots cast and Dennis Kucinich is in second place with 28.1% of the votes, up from 18.2% (third place) in August. More details at http://www.potuspoll.com/
Kucinich: A time to rekindle the dreams
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) formally announced his bid for the U.S. presidency in a speech in the Council Chamber of Cleveland City Hall Oct. 13. He had served as a city councilman there in the 1970s and was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1977 at the age of 31. He has served four terms as a U.S. congressman representing Cleveland. He was instrumental in rallying 136 House members to vote against the resolution authorizing Bushs preemptive, unilateral war on Iraq. Staunchly pro-union and anti-racist, his campaign has energized a nationwide grassroots movement. The media has virtually boycotted his campaign. We offer here, as a public service, extensive excerpts from his announcement speech. CLIP
GoogleNews search with Kucinich http://news.google.ca/news?hl=en&edition=ca&q=Kucinich&btnG=Search+News
CNN Profile on DENNIS KUCINICH
(...) In 1994, after several unsuccessful attempts to win a U.S. House seat, Kucinich was elected to the Ohio Senate. His campaign symbol was a light bulb, and his slogan -- "Because he was right!" In 1998, the Cleveland City Council issued him a commendation for "having the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city's municipal electric system." Two years later, he waged a tough battle with Republican Rep. Martin R. Hoke for the 10th District House seat. Kucinich overcame Hoke's negative portrayal of his mayoral days and earned a trip to Capitol Hill. He has been re-elected three times since. Despite his recent flip-flop on abortion -- he consistently voted against abortion rights in Congress, then adopted a pro-choice stand earlier this year -- Kucinich quickly established himself as one of Washington's most unabashed liberals and vociferous GOP opponents. He joined thousands of protesters during the World Trade Organization's meeting in Seattle, and later demonstrated in the streets of the nation's capital against International Monetary Fund policies. A vegan and long-time nuclear power critic, Kucinich also earned the respect of leading environmental groups and spoke out against genetically engineered foods. Kucinich has made headlines for twice suing President George W. Bush -- once to bar the commander-in-chief from withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and then challenging the president's power to order the invasion of Iraq. (He and his fellow plaintiffs lost both cases.) But Kucinich also challenged his own party's president, joining 30 other House Democrats in fall 1998 to back an investigation of Democrat Bill Clinton. If elected president, Kucinich has proposed major changes on the domestic and international fronts. He has said he would cancel NAFTA and pledged to repeal the Patriot Act, the anti-terror legislation passed after the September 11, 2001, attacks that he says stifles basic liberties. But perhaps his boldest initiatives play off his pacifist views. Kucinich has promised to end the GOP-backed missile defense (or "Star Wars") program and has proposed the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace to promote nonviolence both at home and abroad.
Indymedia fights Diebold's legal attempt to silence discussions about e-voting (Oct 23)
Documents are publicly available that detail vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines manufactured by the Diebold Corporation. Diebold has been sending cease and desist letters to internet service providers (ISPs) that host the documents or links to them. Numerous Indymedia servers have been targeted by Diebold in its campaign to suppress this critical information. Indymedia will defend its right to post internal memos and documents detailing vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines manufactured by the Diebold Corporation. The documents were made publicly available, and subsequently reported by writer Bev Harris on her websites http://www.blackboxvoting.com and http://www.blackboxvoting.org. The vast information contained in these documents is still being investigated by top computer scientists and researchers, but a set of widely circulated internal memos detail Diebold's flippant disregard of test runs, accuracy audits, and security for its voting machines. System tests (much like a dress rehearsal) are often required by local election laws--Diebold memos mention how they simply changed the name "memory test" to "***System Test Passed***" as if the machine performed a self audit. The memos also say how Diebold installed new versions of the voting software that were left untested. Their election results are not secure, as evidenced by this comment in one email regarding the "contents" (i.e. the votes) of the e-voting machines: "Now, where the perception comes in is that its right now very *easy* to change the contents. Double click the .mdb file." Diebold's Republican executives have touted e-voting as a solution to the punchcard voting systems that scandalized Florida in 2000. In fact, this evidence of security and reliability flaws raises serious questions about this "solution" to election woes in the US. CLIP
Black Box Voting (Denouncing the BIG fraud of hidden vote tampering in the US) à
Oct. 17, 2003 They've taken out BlackBoxVoting.com, the site owned by the Black Box Voting publisher, for the third time in a month. DOWNLOAD THE 9 CHAPTERS FOR FREE OF THIS TELL-IT-ALL BOOK... CHECK ALSO http://www.blackboxvoting.com
Who counts your vote?
The truth is, there is no way for you to know. In fact, you are not allowed to know. "Votescam" offers a wealth of FBI documented evidence proving that, for the past forty years, elections in the United States have come under the domination of a handful of powerful and corrupt people: Secretaries of State, Election Supervisors, Judges, owners and editors of the major media outlets, voting equipment corporations (like Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia), and assorted key members of the elections establishment, including the League of Women Voters. These groups have assured the dominance of the two party system, unfettered corporate control over government, and media censorship of issues most important to the American people, including the cover-up of vote fraud evidence. CLIP
Road to Ruin: How America is Ravaging the Planet (Oct 25, 2003)
America produces a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, the population has risen by 100 million since 1970 and when an area three times the size of Britain was recently opened up for mining, drilling, logging and road building, no one took much notice. What does the Bush administration do? It ignores all attempts to curb environmental damage. In a major investigation that took him from the Salton Sea in California to Crooked Creek in Florida, Matthew Engel reports on how America is ravaging the planet.
4. OCTOBER 25 ANTI-WAR PROTESTS
In DC, a Diverse Mix Renews War Protest
October 25, 2003
From a stage on the Mall and along a route that ringed the Washington Monument, the White House and the Justice Department, protesters lodged an array of grievances against the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policies, including the financial and human costs of the occupation and the effect of the Patriot Act on civil liberties. Organizers of the two coalitions that sponsored the demonstration, International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice, said the morning rally at the Washington Monument and a march through downtown that grew throughout the afternoon signaled a revival of the antiwar movement, which had not staged a major street demonstration in Washington since the fall of Baghdad in April.
"The movement has gotten a very big gust of wind in its sails at the very moment that the Bush administration is slipping in the polls," said Brian Becker, an organizer with ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.
Yesterday's march coincided with protests in more than two dozen cities across the United States and around the world, including San Francisco, Anchorage and Paris. D.C. police and U.S. Park Police were out in force in vehicles, on motorcycles and bicycles and on horseback in the District. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and a Park Police spokesman said that there had been no arrests as of late afternoon.
The demonstrators represented a diverse mix of dissent, from suburban high school students to gray-haired retirees, from fathers pushing their children in strollers to Muslim American college students shouting through bullhorns. There were people from D.C. Poets Against the War, the Louisville Peace Action Community, Northern Virginians for Peace and Central Ohioans for Peace, among many others. Banners in Spanish, Korean, Urdu, Hebrew, Arabic and Tagalog decried the war. Smaller marches began at various locations in the city and led to the main rally, including those organized by Muslim American and by African American activists.
Demonstrators criticized the administration's prewar assertions about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda and condemned the domestic war on terrorism as an attack on civil liberties, particularly the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism legislation the president signed into law two years ago today. They also denounced the administration's request for $87 billion for reconstruction and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while money for schools and social services at home dwindles.
"Don't give him 87 cents!" declared Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton. "Give our troops a ride home!" Sharpton was one of the day's many speakers, but their main target was out of town: President Bush left for Camp David on Friday.
The crowd did not appear to match International ANSWER's Jan. 18 demonstration, the largest antiwar rally in Washington since the Vietnam War. That protest, was put at 100,000 by police and 500,000 by organizers. Nonetheless, Becker and other organizers said yesterday's turnout exceeded their expectations, and they estimated the attendance at 100,000, with crowds on the march route spilling over what they described as 23 Washington blocks. Ramsey estimated that the event drew between 40,000 and 50,000.
The demonstration, organizers said, signified a new phase in the life of the antiwar movement. It illustrated new cooperation among often-divergent factions, as for the first time two of the biggest coalitions put their organizational muscle behind one event, sharing expenses and logistical duties. But it also seemed to reveal the movement's erratic momentum, peaking in number and visibility at the start of the year with prewar demonstrations in Washington, New York and around the world, going without large-scale street protests since April and now turning out thousands to rally.
Organizers have said that mobilizing large numbers during a protracted occupation as opposed to a dramatic, imminent threat of war has been a challenge and that street demonstrations are just one way that the movement manifests itself. "No one demonstration changes U.S. policy," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice. "But it's part of a process, and a demonstration like today's helps to get people recommitted."
Anti-War Protests Scheduled Today (Oct 25)
Demonstrations calling for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq are scheduled to take place Saturday in Washington and San Francisco. Organizers of the events say they hope tens of thousands of activists from at least 140 cities in the United States and Canada turn out for the protests.
More than 470 news articles related to those Anti-War Protests
UK Antiwar Group Wrecks Bush Visit (Oct 21)
Antiwar activists are claiming a first round victory over attempts to stop President Bush's first state visit to the UK. They have wrecked his chances of getting all the VIP treatment which goes along with a state visit to the sovereign state.
Ramsey Clark on American Militarism (...) Our overriding purpose, from the beginning right through to the present day, has been world domination - that is, to build and maintain the
capacity to coerce everybody else on the planet: nonviolently, if possible; and violently, if necessary. But the purpose of our foreign policy of domination is not just to make the rest of the world jump through hoops; the purpose is to facilitate our exploitation of resources. And insofar as any people or states get in the way of our domination, they must be eliminated - or, at the very least, shown the error of their ways. I'm not talking about just military domination. U.S. trade policies are driven by the exploitation of poor people the world over. (...) Jensen: Do you think most Americans would agree that U.S. foreign policy
has been "a disaster"? Clark: Sadly, I think most Americans don't have an opinion about our
foreign policy. Worse than that, when they do think about it, it's in terms of the demonization of enemies and the exaltation of our capacity for violence. (...) It's very difficult to debate military spending in this country today - which is unbelievable, because our military spending is absolutely, certifiably insane. Just to provide one example: We still have twenty-two commissioned Trident nuclear submarines, which are first-strike weapons. Any one of those submarines can launch twenty-four missiles simultaneously. Each of those missiles can contain as many as seventeen independently targeted, maneuverable nuclear warheads. And each of those warheads can travel seven thousand nautical miles and supposedly hit within three hundred feet of its predetermined target. If we fire them in opposite directions, we can span fourteen thousand nautical miles: halfway around the world at the equator. This means we can take out 408 centers of human population, hitting each with a nuclear warhead ten times as powerful as the bomb that incinerated Nagasaki. CLIP
October 23, 2003
The Future of the Anti-War Movement
Opposing the Occupation
By ALAN MAASS
October 25 marks the first national mobilization of the antiwar movement since the invasion of Iraq began. The demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco come after the systematic lies of the Bush administration have been exposed--and with the occupation of Iraq facing increasing resistance, including armed attacks.
Opinion polls show a majority of people in the U.S. opposed to Bush's demand for $87 billion to fund his occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. "So many of the things that we were pointing out before the war have become more known--that all this was based on misrepresentations, distortions, sometimes outright deceptions--that it's time for people to take it back into the streets," says Dave Cline, president of Veterans for Peace and a founder of the Bring Them Home Now campaign launched this summer.
At the same time, sponsors of the October 25th demonstrations agree that these protests won't approach the size of the ones before the war--when literally millions of people around the world took to the streets for one of the days of action on February 15. This has led to some "concern" among activists, in the words of Medea Benjamin, a cofounder of the women's peace group Code Pink.
"I don't see the same level of energy out there," Benjamin says. "I think people are confused about whether things would be worse if U.S. troops leave. I think people are demoralized that the huge protests that we did organize didn't have the effect that we wanted. So I think those two things combined mean that our movement doesn't have the same momentum that it did before the war."
Activists throughout the movement are dealing with these same questions. The Bush administration's swaggering victory celebration after Baghdad fell to U.S. troops unleashed a tide of propaganda that put the antiwar movement on the defensive. The White House has since been set back on its heels itself.
But activists across the country report that the growing doubts about the occupation and the anger at the administration's lies have so far not translated into renewed growth for the antiwar committees and coalitions that organized the outpouring of protests before the war. One common attitude is cynicism about the impact of protests--since the Bush administration ignored millions of protesters around the world before the war.
Nevertheless, Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of the antiwar coalition United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), believes that the majority sentiment isn't to give up. "A lot of activists get it that we're up against a formidable power here--the power of the U.S. government, the U.S. military, the U.S. corporations, the mainstream media," Cagan says.
Rania Masri, a writer and activist who works with the Institute for Southern Studies and serves on the steering committee of UFPJ, agrees. "To think that a mere one protest, no matter how large, could stop the war is somewhat naive," Masri said. "Maybe it resulted in a different kind of a war. Maybe it resulted in the Bush administration being more hesitant about another war afterwards. Maybe it resulted in a very strong political statement that we need to be making.
"We don't know. But what we do know--and this is what I think as activists we have to recognize--is that if we don't act, we know what's going to happen. By not acting, we're supporting the policies."
Evidence Of Things Unseen: The Rise of a New Movement
Tom Hayden, AlterNet
October 20, 2003
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following piece is adapted from a speech Tom Hayden gave at the Bioneers Conference on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2003.
The chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, has said that "Intelligence doesn't necessarily mean something is true. That's not what intelligence is."
Keep that in mind as I discuss what James Baldwin called the "evidence of things unseen."
A few weeks ago in Cancun, I watched at the barricades as a South Korean farmer appeared to shake his fist in militant anger at the dispossession of his people. I did not see that he was committing ritual suicide with a knife. As far as I know, neither did anyone else. Hours later, the WTO issued a press release stating its "regret" at what it called the "self-inflicted" wound that resulted in the farm leader's death. I began to wonder how many other deaths we see but do not see. Farmers in India poisoning themselves with pesticides. Farmers in America quietly committing suicide. A rise in suicides among American soldiers in Iraq.
These unseen deaths should be seen as signs of the times. They are birth pangs as well. For example, in the past three weeks some 80 Bolivians have given their lives -- hardly the first time in their 500-year-long struggle -- but these cocoleros, these sweatshop workers, these indios, have overthrown the government over globalization issues and sent their mine-owning, American-trained president packing.
The evidence of things unseen. There is rising a new movement in the world. It is bigger than the movement of the 1960s. Yet it is barely seen by the experts and analysts. They look only at the behavior of institutions and politicians, not the underlying forces that eventually burst into visibility.
The first strand of this new movement is the global opposition to the war in Iraq and to an American empire.
One year ago this month, when over 100,000 demonstrators hit the streets in Washington DC, the New York Times reported that surprisingly few attended the anti-war march, perhaps out of fear of the sniper. National Public Radio repeated the story. How could they not see the 100,000? Apparently because such protests were not supposed to happen anymore. Both the Times and NPR were forced to apologize a few days later and report the huge turnout. Then, in another correction, the Times announced in February that there was a "second superpower" in the world in addition to the White House, which was world public opinion. By then 10 million people were demonstrating globally; two million in Rome, one million in London, 200,000 in Montreal in 20-degrees-below weather -- even a brave few in McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
The second strand is the global justice movement, which began with the Zapatistas on the day NAFTA took effect, then surfaced in Seattle in 1999. Those were called isolated events. Then came Genoa, Quebec City, Quito, Cancun, the world social forums in Porto Allegre. Far from isolated events, these were the historic battlegrounds of a new history being born.
Together these movements mount a challenge to an entire worldview. We are experiencing an enlargement of dignity, an enlargement of what we consider sacred and therefore off the table, not negotiable. The purported Masters of the Universe are becoming as obsolete as those who once claimed the divine right of kings. The earth and its people are not for sale; the environment is not just a storehouse of materials for utilitarian exploitation; and cultural identities can't be replaced as if they were commodities, whether the treasures of Babylon or the rainforests of the Amazon. This movement is saying that diversity will not be looted.
CLIP - Read the rest at http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=17000
5. THE PEASANTS' REVOLUTION IN BOLIVIA
Date: 24 Oct 2003
From: Teresa Perez firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [wrmfriends] WRM Bulletin 75
WORLD RAINFOREST MOVEMENT
MOVIMIENTO MUNDIAL POR LOS BOSQUES
Maldonado 1858; Montevideo, Uruguay
Web page: http://www.wrm.org.uy
Editor: Ricardo Carrere
W R M B U L L E T I N 75
This bulletin is also available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Looking in the Bolivian mirror
In a world dominated by CNN-style news, it is difficult for people to have access to real information. Needless to say that serious analysis on almost anything (except perhaps football) is particularly absent. Train accidents, sports results, wars, Hollywood stars, hunger, biotechnology, human rights abuses or whatever mix of chaotic bits and pieces of news appear to be more an excuse to inflict advertisements on people than to provide them with relevant information to understand the world we are living in.
Within that situation, it is possible that for most people -even within Latin America- the news about the ousting of the Bolivian government has not meant much. We believe it to be, however, one of the most important events that has happened in the recent years.
Eagerly and happily responding to the US government's demands, the fallen government decided, on the one hand, to crack down on coca cultivation and on the other hand to open up the country's natural gas reserves to supply the US with extremely cheap gas through a Chilean port.
The Bolivian people reacted strongly and decided to take the country's sovereignty into their own hands. Coca cultivation has since time immemorial been part of the Bolivian culture, while cocaine is a foreign invention alien to this culture. Eradication of coca is thus perceived as a US imposition having no legitimacy within the country. On the other hand, natural gas is one of the last remaining economic resources the country still has, all the rest (from silver to tin) having already been exploited first by Spanish conquerors and later by transnational companies, leaving the country poorer than before. The detail that gas would be exported through a Chilean port -which in a past 19th Century war left Bolivia without access to the Pacific Ocean- added insult to injury.
The people thus took to the streets against the government. The cost was very high -some 70 dead and more than 400 injured- but the result was a President fleeing to where he belongs -Miami- and his hard-line ministers escaping to a number of different countries. The new president has pledged to introduce radical changes to the policies implemented by his predecessor, in line with popular demands.
Why do we think this news is so important? Firstly, because it shows the inherent weakness of power based on elites alienated from their country's peoples. Secondly, because it proves that the apparent weakness of impoverished peoples hides their true and enormous strength. Thirdly, because it provides the rest of the world with a mirror of our own realities and possibilities for change. Not to copy what the Bolivian people did, but to realize that change is possible -if we try.
What is the relevance of this news regarding forests? Many of the articles contained in this bulletin show that resistance against the destruction of forests is mostly in the hands of local peoples and civil society organizations. While governments argue -with or without conviction- that little can be done in a world dominated by overwhelming economic and political powers, peoples still believe that resistance is possible -and act accordingly. While governments open up our countries to logging, oil and gas exploitation, large scale tree plantations, dams, shrimp farming, genetically modified crops and other "development" projects, people continue fighting all the way down the line. In some cases succeeding and in others failing. But always trying.
Within the prevailing economic model implemented by governments following the advice of the International Monetary Fund and similar institutions, the future of forests is -to say the least- problematic. What therefore needs to be changed is precisely that model. It will certainly not be easy, but neither was or is the ongoing struggle in Bolivia.
CLIP - The rest of this Bulletin will soon be archived at http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/75/viewpoint.html
Bolivia: Mass upheavals topple US-backed president
By Tomas Rodriguez and Bill Vann
21 October 2003
Following a mass revolt that paralyzed the country and the deaths of at least 86 people shot down by security forces, Bolivias US-backed president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, was forced to resign last Friday and flee to exile in the United States.
Sanchez de Lozada was replaced by Carlos Mesa, his vice-president, who withdrew his support from the former government after massacres of unarmed protesters had brought Bolivia to the brink of revolution. Mesa announced the formation of a new cabinet of technocrats, which he cast as a government of national unity.
In reality, the new president represents the same privileged social layer as his predecessor, whom he had supported until it became evident that the government faced a full-scale insurrection. The millionaire owner of a Bolivian television network, Mesa, like Sanchez de Lozada, is a member of the MNR, or Revolutionary Nationalist Movement. This right-wing party has ruled in a series of Bolivian coalition governments that have implemented economic austerity and privatization plans dictated by Washington and the International Monetary Fund since the 1980s.
During his first term in office1993-1997Sanchez de Lozada sharply accelerated the privatization of the state sector, particularly with the denationalization of the countrys petroleum industry. His policies were proclaimed a success based on figures showing increased investment and economic growth that stemmed almost entirely from the auctioning off of the countrys resources and essential services, including telephone and railroads, at bargain prices. Meanwhile, unemployment and social misery grew far faster than investment.
Mesa, like the former president, has been a strong proponent of privatization in general and, in particular of the proposal to build a $5 billion pipeline to export Bolivias natural gas reserves to the US and Mexico via a port in Chile. Critics of the deal charge that it will yield super-profits for energy transnationals and enrich a small group of local businessmen, while robbing Bolivia of its most valuable natural resource.
Mass opposition to the proposal and to the privatization of Bolivias energy resources drew masses of peasants, urban poor and workers into struggle against the government. The issue of Bolivias natural gas became a focal point for unleashing pent-up rage over the immense poverty and social inequality that have deepened uninterruptedly for the past two decades.
The roots of the revolt go far deeper in the historic memory of the Bolivian people, who have from the days of Spanish colonialism seen the uninterrupted looting of the countrys resourcessilver, tin, oil and now gasby foreign capitalism, combined with the brutal oppression of the miners, peasants and other working people.
An attempt to drown the mass protests in bloodapparently coordinated by US military officers operating out of both the US Embassy and the Bolivian Defense Ministrybackfired. The armys massacre of peasants staging a protests on the highway in the region of Warisata and then its gunning down of scores of workers and poor in the sprawling shantytown city of El Alto, an industrial suburb of La Paz, provoked outrage throughout the country, leading to an expansion of a general strike and the blockading of roads that cut off the countrys capital and other major cities.
On the day that Sanchez de Lozada resigned, columns of miners, armed with sticks of dynamite, and thousands of peasant farmers had poured into La Paz, joining the mass protests and street barricades that had already paralyzed the city.
The change at the top appeared to have been worked out in consultation with Washington. Among Mesas first acts as the new president was to meet with US Ambassador David Greenlee, who formerly served as the CIAs chief of station in the volatile country.
In the midst of the rebellion, the US Embassy and the State Department in Washington had issued explicit threats of US retaliation if the mass movement succeeded in toppling the existing government. Greenlee told the Bolivian press, for example, that in the case of a government arising out of pressure from the street, the international community will isolate Bolivia.
Now the aim of both the Bush administration and the local oligarchy is to gain a breathing space in which to defuse the social explosion in Bolivia and prepare for another political offensive against the masses. Mesa has repeated promises made by Sanchez de Lozada before his resignation to hold a popular referendum on the gas deal and to rewrite the countrys energy law. He has also pledged to convene early elections. There was no indication, however, that any referendum would be binding, and no date has been set for electing a new president.
In the short term, the reshuffling at the top appeared to have the desired effect thanks to the conciliatory policy of the trade union and peasant leaders. Evo Morales, the former leader of the coca growers and a deputy of the opposition MAS, or Movement towards Socialism, had proposed Mesas election to the presidency as a constitutional solution acceptable to Washington. We will give a breathing space to President Carlos Mesa, a truce, so that he can organize himself and carry out his promises to the country, Morales declared.
The leader of the United Union Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia, Felipe Quispe Huanca, dismissed Mesas promises as lies, but the leader of the indigenous peasants said his organization would give the new president 90 days to carry out changes.
And, finally, the Confederation of Bolivian Workers, or COB, announced that it was suspending its general strike, while the union federations leader, Jaime Solares, went to the presidential palace to meet with Mesa and present a list of 20 demands. We indicated that he will have support as long as he energetically fights against corruption, Solares said after the meeting.
Despite the climbdown by the existing workers and peasants organizations, Mesa exhibited no great confidence that his government will be able to contain a resurgence of revolutionary upheavals. The abyss is still close at hand, and any mistake, any lack of perspective, any stinginess can push us over that abyss, he told members of his new cabinet Sunday.
The Bush administration immediately granted political asylum to Sanchez de Lozada, a multi-millionaire businessman known to Bolivians as the gringo because of his heavily accented Spanish, the product of his upbringing and education in the US.
In an interview with the Miami Herald Sanchez de Lozada lashed out at the mass movement that had overthrown him, declaring it a conspiracy to create the first narco-trade union state in South America.
In Bolivia, the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies announced that it intends to bring charges against Sanchez de Lozada, demanding that he be tried for the nearly 200 deaths that have resulted from acts of repression ordered by his government during barely 14 months in office.
In addition to the latest killings, the government unleashed the military against mass protests that broke out against an IMF-mandated increase in income taxes and other austerity measures last February. Known in Bolivia as black February, the protests turned exceptionally bloody after police went on strike and were shot down by troops. At least 33 people were killed during the protests. The demands for the removal and trial of Sanchez de Lozada began after the February massacre.
Mesa made it clear that he has no intention of seeking Sanchez de Lozadas extradition for crimes in which he himself was complicit. At the same time, he announced that there would be no changes made in the command of either the military or the police.
The US Southern Command in Miami, meanwhile, confirmed Friday that it was sending a security team of military advisors to Bolivia. A spokesman said that the team would perform a technical assessment of the situation down there, and advise the US Embassy and the US Military Group in the country.
The Bush administration is determined to prevent the Bolivian events from spinning out of control for fear that the defiance of the economic policies demanded by the IMF and the US-based multinationals could spread throughout the continent.
Bolivia is South Americas most impoverished country and has faced the harshest impact of the free market policies of privatization and draconian cutbacks in social spending that have been imposed throughout the region. While the countrys official unemployment rate stands at 12 percent, according to Bolivias Center for the Study of Labor and Agricultural Development, fully 45 percent of the economically active population lacks any steady work, forced to survive on part-time jobs or in the so-called informal sector.
The United Nations World Food Program places Bolivia last in South America in terms of nutrition indices, despite the fact that the countrys agricultural sector is easily capable of supporting the population of 8.8 million people. According to the UN agency, at least two million Bolivians are facing chronic hunger, while only 12 percent of Bolivian families are able to consume the minimum daily requirement of calories.
A report by a Bolivia research organization, the Unit for Analysis of Economic and Social Policy, found that the number of people living in poverty in the country had risen from 5,076,000 in 1995 to 5,448,000 in 2001.
While conditions in Bolivia are among the most extreme, they are by no means unique. A recent World Bank report on inequality in Latin America, for example, showed that the richest tenth of the people in the region earn 48 percent of total income, while the poorest tenth earn only 1.6 percent.
According to a report issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean at the end of August, the number of Latin Americans living in poverty rose to 220 million (43.4 percent) last year, with 95 million (18.8 percent) described as indigent. Progress toward overcoming poverty ground to a halt in the past five years, the report said, while warning that current low economic growth rates ensure that conditions will only worsen. Last month, the IMF lowered its projection for regional economic growth for this year to 1.1 percent.
There are growing indications that the social revolt that erupted in Bolivia could spread as the cumulative effects of decades of economic austerity programs and the looting of the regions wealth by the international banks and transnational corporations become ever more intolerable.
In Ecuador, the government of Lucio Gutierrez is facing mass protests as it attempts to impose an IMF-dictated austerity plan that demands sweeping attacks on labor rights, social conditions and pensions. Public employees have staged repeated protests, while organizations representing indigenous peasants that previously supported Gutierrez have denounced his governments policies. Economic growth has continued to decline in Ecuador, while the countrys debt has risen to an amount equal to nearly 42 percent of its annual gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, in Honduras, another of Latin Americas poorest countries, thousands of people blockaded highways last week in protests over economic measures proposed by the government as part of its negotiations with the IMF. The Honduran government is planning to privatize the countrys water supply, while slashing salaries for some 100,000 public sector workers. Fully 80 percent of the Honduran population lives in poverty.
As the Bolivian events have already demonstrated, Washington is prepared to support and carry out on its own the most brutal forms of repression to defend US economic hegemony over the region and control over its energy supplies and other strategic resources. Despite this repression, the vast social crisis that is gripping the continent is bringing US imperialism face-to-face with a revolutionary explosion in what it has long regarded as its own backyard.
Nearly 90 killed by troops [17 October 2003]
Bush administration backs massacres in Bolivia
Upheaval in Bolivia: Crisis and Opportunity (Oct 6)
Winds of change
The month of September has certainly been rich in important events, warranting the active participation of relevant social actors. The ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, was doubtlessly the most resounding one, both because of the presence of thousands of people and organizations from all over the world, demonstrating in the streets against the WTO, and because of the firm attitude of some countries from the South, in facing the domineering attitude of certain governments from the North. The world will never be the same after Cancun. (...) However, perhaps the most outstanding feature of what is happening in the world, is the increasing union of all the struggles against a model that has already shown itself to be socially and environmentally unsustainable. Peasants, Indigenous peoples, workers, environmentalists, social and human rights movements, are only some of the actors in a world where fraternity, solidarity and human dignity are becoming global. The winds of change blow with increasing strength.
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