March 31, 2005

Tracing The Bush Disease Back to its Roots

David Corn takes another look at a 1989 article tying John Bolton to the Iran-Contra scandal.

There's an awfaul lot of Bush's gang who are linked to that scandal one way or another. Like the post-Nixon Church Committee, the Iran-Contra investigation was a half-hearted attempt to clean up a big mess, which only led to worse problems down the line. Oliver North came out of it looking like a hero to many US citizens and you can bet those are the very same people voting for Bush today.

What's that old saying about if you don't kill something off the first time, it's gonna come back a hundred times worse....?

March 30, 2005

This is NOT the News..

Do you ever get the feeling that nobody is listening? You are not alone. A couple of new polls shed light on how public opinion today differs sharply from government decision-making and the way those decisions are reported in the mainstream media.

First we have a new CBS poll which found that US citizens think the war in Iraq is still by far "the most important problem facing this country today".
Polling Data

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?

War in Iraq 26%

Economy / Jobs 15%

Terrorism 6%

Social Security 6%

Health Care 4%

Budget Deficit / National Debt 4%

Poverty / Homelessness 3%

Moral Values / Family Values 3%

Education 2%

Defence / Military 2%

Foreign Aid 2%

The President 2%

Crime 2%
You gotta love that 2 percent who rated Bush himself as the country's biggest problem!

Now let's look at another revealing poll from Australia. Australians Speak: 2005, a survey commissioned by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, found that the USA's relationship with Australia is nothing like the rosy picture our governments would like to pretend it is.
More than two-thirds of Australians polled (68%) said Australia took too much notice of the US in its foreign policy deliberations. Worse yet from a government point of view, Australians are "just as concerned about United States foreign policy as Islamic extremism." 57% were "very worried" or "fairly worried" about the external threat posed by both US foreign policy and Islamic extremism.
In other words, to put some standard media spin on it, the citizens of one of George Bush's strongest international allies believe he and his cronies are just as dangerous as Osama bin Laden and his cronies!

By comparison, only 35% of respondents had concerns about China's growing power.
Asked if they had positive or negative feelings about a list of 15 different countries, institutions and regions, respondents rated the US only 11th. Only 58% viewed the US positively, compared with 94% for New Zealand, 86% for Britain, 84% for Japan, and 69% for China. 51% thought a free-trade agreement with China was a good idea, compared with only 34% for the US deal.

What about Australian foreign policy goals? In a country which refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol, 75% said "improving the global environment" was the most important goal. Despite all the media hoopla, "Promoting Democracy" rated bottom.
This is a total rejection of the Australian Government's position towards the USA.

So how come the media always present government decision-making as if it had widespread public support? Could it be because of things like this?

So now we have governments that lie to us repeatedly without accountability, let alone apologies; we have a media that rakes in profits by reporting these lies without even blinking; and we have supposed "opposition" parties that provide no serious opposition at all. As an angry Matt Taibbi writes in Alternet today:
A merely cynical opposition party would be emboldened by poll numbers showing majority opposition to the war to court those votes. And a moral one would seize upon news of the sort coming out of Britain to argue to not only to their own voters (who would unanimously support them in this aim), but to the country at large, that the invasion of Iraq was based upon a fallacy, illegal and impeachable.

But the Democratic leaders do neither. Instead, they tell 53 percent of the country that they are mistaken, and throw their chips in with the other 47 percent, who incidentally support the other party and are not likely to ever budge. They then go further and try to argue that fighting the war on terror requires abandoning health care, education and Social Security – an idea that, let's face it, makes no fucking sense at all.

Franklin Roosevelt never argued anything like that, and he fought a global world war against two mighty industrial powers. But now 4,000 retards in caves are going to close down the entire American school system. If that is the Democratic idea of looking "strong," one hates to imagine what weakness would look like.
Taibbi's anger is wholly justified - this is the sort of environment which once would have brought people out into the streets with pitchforks!

March 29, 2005

Naomi Klein Reveals New Details About U.S. Military Shooting of Italian War Correspondent in Iraq
A Time For Non-Violence In Iraq?

Sadly, non-violent resistence often becomes an option only after the self-defeating cycle of violence has led to its logical, absurd conclusion. Violence begets violence begets violence, till all who claim to speak for the masses are bathed in the blood of those same innocents.

I recently suggested that the time is more than ripe for a massive demonstration to demand the withdrawal of US troops. Now a follower of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr is calling for just such a demonstration:
"Passing laws that contradict Islam will be tantamount to treason to the marajaiya (religious authority) and not insisting on a timetable for an end to the occupation is even greater treason," said Sheikh Nasser al-Saedi in his sermon at the Grand Mosque in Kufa, south of Baghdad.

"Last Friday I called for a million-strong demonstration to demand a timetable for the end of the occupation and I repeat this demand again and I call on all political forces to take part in this demonstration."
A pity that such a call for peaceful protest comes from someone so closely associated with violence. A pity that it is clothed in language which seeks to associate a call for US withdrawal with a demand for Islamic law. But it will be interesting nevertheless to see if the call is heeded by the Iraqi people and/or other Iraqi leaders, of if others begin making similar calls.

It will also be interesting to see how the allegedly sovereign, ellegedly democtratic and allegedly freedom-loving Iraq government responds to such demonstrations. The signs do not look promising.

On Sunday, for example, about 50 guards were demonstrating peacefully outside the offices of Iraq's Science and Technology Minister Rashad Mandan Omar, claiming they had only been paid a part of their wages. One man was killed when the minister's own bodyguards opened fire on the crowd. As usual, Juan Cole has some interesting comments:
Generally, I'd say you want to avoid killing the people who guard your building if you are a cabinet minister in Iraq (many ministers have had assassination attempts on their lives). In fact, I'd say if you made sure anyone was paid, it should be the guards outside your building. (Does this mean the Iraqi government is broke, having been badly hurt by oil pipeline sabotage?)
The incident recalls a previous article about US puppet and former CIA favourite Iyad Allawi personally murdering Iraqi prisoners as a way of demonstrating the ruthlessness he required from his followers. It seems the lesson has been learned, by some at least.

The one thing corrupt rulers fear more than the naked truth is the wrath of their own people. As Sean Gonsalves says this week:
Nonviolence is not "doing nothing," nor is it naive. It's based on a fundamental insight into the nature of power, which is if the oppressed and their allies refuse to cooperate with the rulers, the rulers lose their power. The key to government power is obedience and legitimacy. If the people don't see the authorities as legit, their power base evaporates.
A massive demonstration against US occupation could also lead the the populare overthrow of the US-installed government, and they know it. Throughout history, real change has tended to come not from the barrel of the gun but from the slow but un-stoppable tide of public outrage. Gonsalves quotes "Bush's favorite political philospher," Jesus Christ, who once issued this dire warning:
"If only you had known... the things which make for peace but are now hid from your eyes! For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will make a trench around you, and surround you on every side... and your children with you; and they will not leave one stone unturned because you knew not the time of your visitation (Luke 19:42-44)."

March 27, 2005

How Low Can You Go?

US culture continues to spread across the planet, for better or (usually) worse... Jeff Jarvis jokes about Abu Ghraib as a TV sitcom.

Jarvis the Nazi-hunter seems to think that this is a possibility because Hogans Heroes was based on a Nazi POW camp. But the comparison surely would be with a Nazi Concentration camp, and anyone who even suggested such a thought would be slammed as anti-Semetic by the very people Jarvis likes linking to.

Even the idea that it might be OK now to start making jokes about Abu Ghraib - have we "moved on" yet? - is disgusting. Sad, pathetic little man.

If you don't think this sort of thing is OK, I urge you to go and register your protest in Jarvis' comments section. Otherwise the disease spreads, as we have all too often seen...
With US or Against US?

Reversing a 15-year-old ban on the sale of such weaponry to Pakistan, Bush yesterday announced that he had decided to allow his "War on Ahem!" ally to buy American-made F-16 fighter planes, even if he is a military dictator. Today the Los Angeles Times reports on a global arms trafficking ring whereby the government of Pakistan has illegally purchased nuclear weapons components from American companies.

Elsewhere, Juan Cole reports on massive (illegal) pro-democracy marches in Bahrain, another strong US ally in the Middle East:
The US has a naval base in Bahrain and its king has been a helpful ally. Will George W. Bush support Shaikh Salman or King Hamad? Bush spoke out forcefully against the Syrian presence in Lebanon and in favor of Lebanese democracy. Will he speak out in favor of majority rule and popular sovereignty in Bahrain?

And if he doesn't, won't the rest of the Middle East assume he is just hypocritically hiding behind catch phrases like "democracy" to make trouble for the countries in the region like Syria and Iran, which Bush does not like, and which are seen as threats by his expansionist friends in Israel's Likud party?
Cole also has this precious observation:
Gee, I wonder who is funding those illegal colonies in Palestinian territory? Alas, it is I. The Israeli government funds them, while orally distancing itself from them, and the Israeli government gets $10 a year from each American, including me. A family of five in America since 1980 has conservatively been made to donate $1250 to the Israeli government, so that it can thumb its nose at our peace plans. Nor has it bought us security; the Israeli security agencies didn't do squat to prevent 9/11 (they're supposed to be protecting our flank in the Middle East for all that money), and Israeli intelligence told us Saddam had weapons of mass destruction
Exposed: Premeditated US Meddling in Kyrgyzstan

KABAR, the Kyrgz National News Agency, has a leaked "Secret report of the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyz Republic Stephen M.Young" in which the level of pre-meditated US interference in Kyrgyz politics is embarrassingly obvious. For example:
Taking into account the interests, of our presence in the region and development of democratic society in Kyrgyzstan, our primary goal — according to the earlier approved plans — is to increase pressure upon Akaev to make him resign ahead of schedule after the parliamentary elections...

I met Bakiev on repeated occasions. Bakiev expressed his consent to take advantage of the support after his block’s winning in parliamentary elections. As he said, after ambiguous American involvement in elections in Georgia and Ukraine unconcealed American support provided to a candidate might have a negative effect on his political reputation.

... we advise continuing contacts with another prominent representative of the opposition — F.Kulov, whose imprisonment will end in the middle of 2005. Enjoying deserved popularity and being a victim of regime, he will have sufficient potential to struggle for the presidency.

F.Kulov shares and adheres to American concepts of freedom and democracy and can be viewed as a dubbing candidate for the presidency in case our main candidate Bakiev is defeated.

... With a view to providing favorable conditions and helping democratic opposition leaders come to power, our primary goal for the pre-elections period is to arouse mistrust to the authorities in force...

I advise focusing on discrediting the present political regime, thus making Akaev and his followers responsible for the economic crisis. We should also take steps to spread information on probable restriction of political freedoms during the election campaign.

It is worthwhile compromising Akaev personally by disseminating data in the opposition mass media on his wife’s involvement in financial frauds and bribery at designation of officials. We also recommend spreading rumors about her probable plans to run for the presidency, etc. All these measures will help us form an image of an absolutely incapacitated president.
Jeb Bush Sent Cops To Seize Schiavo

The Miami Herald reveals that Jeb Bush nearly created a police shoot-out and a constitutional crisis by sending squads of police to the hospital where Terri Schiavo was under local police guard:
Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called "a showdown."

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," said a source with the local police...

Gov. Jeb Bush had planned to use a wrinkle in Florida law that would have allowed them to legally get around the judge's order...

"There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink," said one official with knowledge of Thursday morning's activities.

In jest, one official said local police discussed "whether we had enough officers to hold off the National Guard."

"It was kind of a showdown on the part of the locals and the state police," the official said. "It it was not too long after that Jeb Bush was on TV saying that, evidently, he doesn't have as much authority as people think."
I think this whole Schiavo case should be seen as a serious test - a failed one - of Jeb Bush's efforts to run for President in 2008 on the tails of US evangelists.

March 26, 2005

Texas Oil Blast: Terrorist Attack?

The first thing many people thought when they heard of a massive explosion in a Texas oil refinery this week was "terrorist attack". Of course, feds and government officials immediately declared there was no possibility of a terrorist attack, as usual making such pronouncements before they even had an idea of what the real cause was.
The force of the blast at the 1,200 acre site shook buildings up to five miles away and the blaze took two hours to extinguish. Thirty of those injured were outside the plant at the time of the explosion.
Hard to see how anyone can make such pronouncements so quickly, isn't it? So there is a credibility gap, isn't there? And given the much wider credibility gap of governments and "intelligence" agencies that deliberately lie about major issues, why should anyone believe them, particularly when terrorist groups are claiming responsibility:
Reuters news agency reported Thursday that an unknown group, calling itself al Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in the United States of America, said it would release a detailed statement and video of the attack later. The statement was posted on the Internet Thursday.

Another group, Army of the Levant, also posted an Internet statement Thursday claiming responsibility...

"We have no reason to believe that this is anything other than a tragic industrial accident," said Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

Law enforcement officials in Washington noted that Islamic terrorist organizations have been quick to claim responsibility for a host of mishaps, including power outages last year on the U.S. East Coast and in Europe. Those claims swiftly evaporated.
Well, who says they "evaporated"? Anyone got links to some strong, idependent investigative reports? I don't think so.

Govt agency runs internal investigation with Fed/CIA assistance, declares "Nothing to see here, folks... Move along now..." and supine press duly reports nothing.

Of course, it COULD have been a simple accident: the plant had previously been fined for poor safety.

But the signs are not encouraging, and the reaction of government officials does not encourage much optimism that they have the truth first and foremost on their agenda.

March 25, 2005

"Good News From Iraq" aka Pure Fiction

It seems US claims that their forces helped Iraqi police kill up to 85 terrrrrrsts at a remote camp yesterday are not true. The attack was widely acclaimed as a major victory over the insurgents and even a "turning point" for Iraq. As tex at says, if "one the most hopeful signs we've gotten yet from Iraq" turns out to be a hoax, what does that say about the entire project?
"Iraqi police commandos backed by U.S. troops killed at least 45 militants, many of them foreign fighters, in an hours-long battle to seize an insurgent camp north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Wednesday."

--Reuters, yesterday

"It's hard to overstate how fantastic a development this is, but let's try. I wrote last December about insurgent overconfidence. Is this ever a case in point!"

--Spencer Ackerman, New Republic

"Up to 40 fighters were seen today at a Iraq lakeside training camp attacked by US and Iraqi forces a day before and said they had never left, an AFP correspondent who visited the site said."

--Agence France Presse, today
Juan Cole provides more detailed analysis:
Agence France Presse... managed to get some independent journalists up to the lake, north of Samarra, and they found 40 guerrillas still there. The guerrillas denied that 85 of their fellows had been killed by the Iraqi army, but admitted that 11 had been killed by US aerial bombardment.

American news organizations such as CNN refuse to report news that is only carried by AFP, because they consider it to have inadequate journalistic quality-control. But reports like this one are not being done by US wire services in Iraq, and if we don't take AFP seriously, we essentially may as well just believe whatever Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib and the Pentagon claim.

Unfortunately, the US military is filtering our news from Iraq, and we only hear about a fraction of the violence that actually takes place there. What we do hear is often imbued by a kind of US boosterism (such as the recent faintly ridiculous claim that Fallujah is the safest city in Iraq-- as though it were still an inhabited city)...

March 24, 2005

Keeping It Real

Quote of the day from today:

Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Elsewhere, a leaked letter of resignation reveals that the UK Attorney General did in fact change his mind on legality of Iraq war just days before it began. The critical paragraph from the letter reads:
"My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1441 and with what the Attorney General gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line)."
As I said, the truth will out... This could cost Tony Blair the election.
Joder Que Conyo Mas Loco!

I laughed out loud (not quite like a maniac troll, though...) when I saw the following headline on GOOGLE NEWS (who proved an absolutely fantastic free service, by the way):
Bush pushes for improved ties to South America

Bush suggested that the key to greater prosperity for all is to persuade South American countries to enter a trade agreement with North America...
I guess he said something like this:
"Listen up, hombres. I'm running up the biggest deficit the world has ever seen while destroying just about every international alliance, convention, protocol and treaty in existence. I'm also hijacking foreign nationals, sending them to my "friends" in places like Uzbekistan for some softening up treatment, then locking them away forever in a whole gulag of stinking hell-holes which I am building around the world. You think Guantanamo Bay is bad? You got no idea what's going down in Diego Garcia! So hitch your wagon to my train or, ummm... errr.... Karl? Are you there? Is this thing switched on?
It's a seldom noted fact (in the US press anyway) that while Bush has been dragging the USA towards Fascism, most of South America has been pushing steadily in the opposite direction, sometimes in quite revolutionary fashion (Venezuela and Brazil being the most obvious examples).

After all, these countries are already far too familiar with right-wing governments that advocate torture, having suffered decades of such abuse from US-installed and -backed dictators like Pinochet. Torture? Disappearances? Rampant big business corruption? Militant, ideological governments destroying basic civil liberties? As a citizen of Beunos Aires might say, "Been there, done that - that stuff is jut so Seventies, man..."

Go back even further in Latin American history and you will hear stories that are quite astounding, like US businessmen launching their own attacks by sea, with private armies of mercenaries, to take over whole Central American countries, with US government blessing.

The USA has been widely hated across Latin America for centures, and not witout reason. Under Bush's stewardship, nothing has changed for the better and many, many things have changed for the worse. While Latin Americans still seek a path out of poverty and globalized injustice, don't expect anyone to go making deals with Bush that are not secured firmly in their own self interest. Big Business Bush pays lip-service to "free trade" buzzwords while greedy US citizens complain than some paisano in Guatemala is going to put them out of work by earning ten bucks a day... The song remains the same.

Hey, but wait a minute!!! That will all change when Paul Wolfowitz becomes head of the World Bank!!! Right? ... right? .... er... Karl?

March 23, 2005

Banned: My Questions For Jeff Jarvis

IF you are wondering about what exactly I SAID to get banned from Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine blog today, see this post below.

Jarvis defends his ban by saying "Somebody who keeps typing "nazi" and "poop" isn't welcome." Well, I didn't use either of those words. Once again it seems the warbloggers are using the word "nazi" to sow confusion, labelling anyone who opposes their myopic groupthink mentatily a "nazi"... It's more than passing strange that Jarvis can't come up with a real reason for deleting my comments and then banning me, but instead offers such an incongruous excuse.

So here are my questions for Jarvis:

1. Do you receive any money at all from any sources to advocate certain views?

2. What is your relationship to the following groups:

(a) Iraq The Model, a bogus pro-US blog run by the Fadhil brothers, which you helped set up;

(b) Spirit of America, a bogus US charity which brought two of the Fadhil brothers from Iraq The Model to Washington, where they met in person with Paul Wolfowitz and George W. Bush in the White House late last year;

(c) Cyber Century Forum, a US thinktank that helped set up Spirit of America and which (incidentally) holds over $100,000 stocks in the Oil Industry;

(d) Direct Impact, a "Grassroots" marketing company that pays people to subversively promote sites like Spirit of America?

See this previous post for background on these questions.

The truth will out...

PS: I have no idea who Michael J Totten is and I have never visited his site. Maybe that was another Gandhi? Whatever...

UPDATE: Jarvis responds to my questions:
I have no financial relationship whatesoever with anyone he lists (apart from making contributions to SoA); I've explained many times that ITM are the friends of one of the early bloggers in Iraq with whom I communicated; I never heard of the other organizations he tinfoil-hats about; and I do still wish this poor, pathetic little troll would get his meds.
Obviously, there is ONE question he did NOT respond to, probably the most important of the lot: Do you receive any money at all from any sources to advocate certain views?

I will keep asking the question till we get something on the record.

An apology for calling me a "troll", banning me and then lying about his reasons for banning me would also be nice, but we'll cross that bridge when and if we get to it...

UPDATE 2: Jarvis has now amended his post to say that nobody pays him except his employer. I could push the envelope by asking whether his employer pays him to promote any particular views, but enough already.

Jarvis also tempered down his hysterical calls for radical change at Google News: the demands for a huge investigation into Google News' sources and methods became a plea that Nazi sites be banned. And guess what, the Nazi site has been removed! So it seems that it only took a - presumably polite - request to Google and the Nazi site was dropped. No need for all the "troll"-bashing hullaballoo and frenzied demands to investigate Google's methods and sources....

So hooray for Google. But Jeff Jarvis comes off looking pretty stupid, if not suspiciously anti-free speech. And me? Well, I think my work here is done for now: I guess Jarvis, being the inflated ego that he is, will not be able to let go of this idea that Google News needs more transparency/change, but this battle is done and (dare I say it?) I think the Gandhi-man won. Here's a final thought from someone called NEMO:
You know, Jeff, there is another lesson to be learned from all this: "trolling"/spamming/etc is a bit like terrorism - if someone is determined to get at you, there is really very little you can do to stop it, short of totally destroying the basic freedoms afforded by a Comments section.

The amazing this is that so little of it goes on, because people are basically decent and will only resort to such lengths when they feel they, their loved ones or their beloved values (religion, freedom, even Google News) have been very seriously threatened or mistreated.

Rather than demonizing the g-man as a troll, deleting his comments and banning him, you could have taken a more laissez-faire approach. The results would have been about the same...

Similarly, governments which declare that "We will NEVER negotiate with Terrorists!" usually do end up being forced to sit down, acknowledge the very real grievances of those who have resorted to such extremes and make some changes.

Following 9/11, for example, Bush pulled US troops out of Saudi, a key Al Quaeda demand...

I'm not condoning violence, just making an observation. Look at Mandela (former "terrorist") or Northern Ireland for examples...

I think there is a lesson here.
If someone is banned, how can he spam--oh yeah, he used names like Jeffsux and katsux--a real mature individual whose points I want to hear.
Posted by Kat at March 24, 2005 05:33 PM

No, "nemo," you didn't see the posts I killd that led to the banning. I would have let him back in if he'd behaved. But he did not. He got worse. He is not welcome here.
Posted by Jeff Jarvis at March 24, 2005 05:37 PM

Is it trolling if I never comment but read from a distance. I may be guilty :-) But I've seen this topic come up more than once.

I think any site that allows comments to posts that are political will bring about trolls. It comes with the territory for a popular site like this one.
Posted by chris at March 24, 2005 05:47 PM

No, "nemo," you didn't see the posts I killd that led to the banning.

Well, yes I did... coz I wrote them!

Posted by nemo at March 25, 2005 04:17 PM

And I repeat, you did not see what was wrong with the posts. You may have no life and enjoy playing this game. I don't. Go get a life. Elsewhere.
Posted by Jeff Jarvis at March 25, 2005 04:21 PM

If someone is banned, how can he spam...?

You gotta remember your Greek mythology...

"I am nobody," said Ulysses...."Nemo sum."

"Nobody has blinded me!" screamed the giant, one-eyed Cyclops.

You been punk'd, dude!

Posted by nemo at March 25, 2005 04:22 PM
Lest We Forget

John Pilger tells an audience of antiwar protestors They are afraid of you:
Throughout my career I have reported, often undercover, from countries ruled by repressive regimes where dissidents would read me reports in the press that were no more servile and false than the reporting you read every day in the Murdoch papers in this country...

Considering this, we might ask: Is there no shame?

... Honorable exceptions aside, supine journalists, like cynical opposition politicians, like corporate academics, represent unaccountable, violent power and a corrupt democracy that today offers us no more choice that between a McDonald's and a Hungry Jack's. But they do not represent us. And they don't speak for us. And they don't speak for humanity. And they don't speak for democracy. And they don't speak for all the moral decencies by which most people live their lives. In fact, they speak for the very opposite.
Pilger quotes the lyrics of a banned Czech dissident group called the Plastic People of the Universe:
They are afraid of the old for their memory,
They are afraid of the young for their innocence
They afraid of the graves of their victims in faraway places
They are afraid of history. They are afraid of freedom.
They are afraid of truth. They are afraid of democracy.
So why the hell are we afraid of them? ... For they are afraid of us.
He also quotes a memorable line from Milan Kundera:
"The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."
Ending Fake News

The Center for Media and Democracy (the sponsor of SourceWatch) is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on a petition to Congress, Federal Communications Commission and local television stations demanding an end to fake news and government propaganda.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments to promote President Bush's policies and initiatives.
Halliburton In Australia

Scary stuff from Margo Kingston's Webdiary today. Richard Tonkin is an ordinary Aussie bloke just like me. He should be singing folk songs at his family's music venue in Adelaide. Instead he is documenting the insidious rise of Halliburton projects across South Australia:
"Maybe I'm a bit slow, but the day I realised that a company of such
international military importance was involved in Australian infrastructure construction was .

The next eye-catching website was KBR's Infrastructure Division Global Headquarters, located in a suburb of Adelaide ten minutes drive from my house. The people who served the food to U.S. occupying forces and were paying themselves from Iraqi national funds to rebuild oilfields and gas pipes were planning the whole thing from my home city? Impossible! (Media spokesperson was unavailable for comment).

KBR has a strong but largely anonymous presence in Adelaide. You don't see their logo pasted around the Clipsal 500 racetrack they created, or on any of the major civic refurbishments they consult for and co-ordinate at both State and Local government levels.

You don't encounter their Environmental Impact Assessment of our new Naval Precinct (with concerns over heavy metal concentrations in dolphins and waterway riverbed lime silt contamination from dredging) unless you're looking hard or have it thrust in front of you.

It's far easier to find reports on KBR bribery scandals in Nigeria and the investigation of possible weapons patent falsifications in Britain and U.S Vice President Cheney's denials of company involvement while still on the payroll than to track the 'advice' it is giving to the public leaders of South Australia.

When you see a United Water van driving in a backstreet it doesn't bear KBR signage, so you're not made aware that the company that was led by Cheney controls Adelaide's water supply.

Cruising on the Port River Expressway from the City Centre to Port Adelaide you don't see billboards of "construction supervision by Halliburton".

It soon becomes surprising that the S.A. Government has a portfolio of Minister for Infrastructure. Global specialists of undoubtedly signifigantly greater expertise in the subject than any Government Department call South Australia "Home" - except for the ones who fly back and forth from Houston...

March 22, 2005

CALL TO ACTION! Jeff Jarvis Bans Gandhi

I have just been banned from posting at Jeff Jarvis's "Buzz Machine" blog. I was responding to the following post from Jarvis, a man who claims to be a Democrat but consistently (and very suspisciously) tows the Bush GOP line on everything that really matters.

Jarvis wrote:
March 21, 2005

Demand Google News transparency

: We're demanding transparency of mainstream news.

Well, it's high time we get transparency from GoogleNews.

Instapundit and LGF point to a nazi site -- complete with "love your race" graphics -- that is part of Google News, while mainstream sane blogs are not.


Google: Release a complete list of your news sources now. And institute a means for questioning those choices and for suggesting other choices now.

Google: It's bad enough that you won't share information about ad revenue sharing. But not to share information about your means of selecting news sources is inexecusable... in this case, evil.
Here is my initial response (more or less, as it's now from memory), which was deleted by Jeff within minutes:
Google News asked a long, long time ago for volunteers to help screen their news items.

So who do YOU think responded?

Right-wing warbloggers looking to grow their portfolios, increase their sphere of influence and leverage the synergy of their network contacts over Power Breakfasts at Starbucks?

Or idealistic young left-wingers who just wanted the Truth to be told (however they viewed that Truth)???

I later added the following clarification, assuming it would be needed:
PS: yes I know that Google News now uses computer algorithms to determine which stories are displayed. But as the About section says:

This is very much in the tradition of Google web search, which relies heavily on the collective judgment of online publishers to determine which sites offer the most valuable and relevant information.

Who do you think those original volunteer publishers were?

What now? Mabye Karl Rove can approve a few million more US dollars (taxpayer-funded) so that countless more Jeff Gannon-Guckerts can swamp the Google News landscape? If so, those of us who are actually capable of selectively picking our news sources will just seek the real TRUTH somewhere else.

Jarvis deleted my original post with the following typically snide response:
i just put another troll on timeout. if he misses recess, maybe he'll behave better in class. if not, we'll send him home on the little bus.
Posted by Jeff Jarvis at March 22, 2005 06:33 AM
He then banned me and removed all the following comments from me, which were made in a deliberate effort to encourage civilized debate (as opposed to childish name-calling or outright cencorship):
not to share information about your means of selecting news sources is inexecusable... in this case, evil.

EVIL is such a strong word, Jeff.

It suggests a capacity for judgement on your part...

Do you share Dubya's capacity for personal conversations with Sweet Lord Jesus or are you just pissing in the wind as usual?

Remembering Jesus' admonition to check the great beam in your own eye before you fuss about the wee splinter in your neighbour's eye, perhaps you will share all YOUR news sources with us?

Perhaps you could start with your knowledge of Spirit of America, Cyber Century Forum and the other people behind your friends at Iraq The Model????

* * *

what you really hate about GOOGLE NEWS is that they give air-time to viewpoints which do not conincide with your own...

This is called INTOLERANCE.

The USA was SUPPOSEDLY founded on the concept of Freedom Of Speech. So what are you really afraid of?

That you could be horribly, terribly, embarrassingly WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING????

* * *

"another troll on timeout?"

you know yourself I am more than that, Jeff. Why not try to debate my conserns openly?

what do you have to lose????
Posted by gandhi at March 22, 2005 06:44 AM

* * *


MIGHT BE A GOOD PLACE TO START.............?????????????????????????????????????????????????
Posted by gandhi at March 22, 2005 06:46 AM

* * *

what you really hate about GOOGLE NEWS is that they give air-time to viewpoints which do not conincide with your own...

This is called INTOLERANCE.

The USA was SUPPOSEDLY founded on the concept of Freedom Of Speech. So what are you really afraid of?

That you could be horribly, terribly, embarrassingly WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING????
Posted by gandhi at March 22, 2005 06:49 AM

* * *

The real issue here - still, after all this time - is WMDs.

It is the single biggest lie ever told and it has led directly to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, the destruction of long-cherished alliances and conventions, and the basic faith in government of many, many people.

It has also led to the disintegration of a dream called "America" which once shined brightly in the imaginations of many oppressed people around the globe.

With us or against us, Jeff?????
Posted by gandhi at March 22, 2005 06:53 AM
Jarvis is part of a concerted attempt by online right-wing warbloggers (most of who are presumably being paid with US taxpayer funds) to choke any real reporting of news stories that does not conform to the Karl Rove playbook. Jarvis has already taken on the New York Times about an article by Sarah Boxer challenging the authenticiy of the "Iraq The Model" blog, a project with which Jarvis himself was very closely connected.

Now Jarvis and his mates are going after Google News.


Please email Jeff Jarvis at or - better yet - spam his Comments section out of existence.
Wolfowitz Closing In On World Bank Post...
Kyrgyzstan: US Agents At Work

A little background on today's "revolution" in Kyrgyzstan from a recent article at Asia Times Online:
According to Kyrgyz authorities, several media-savvy activists manning the barricades in Kiev's 'Orange' revolution were dispatched by late January to Bishkek to plan and execute a similar feat; lavish American funding was made available for them. Over 54,000 foreigners entered the country in the past few months, which, according to the Kyrgyz authorities, was far in excess of average figures.

Certainly, for weeks altogether in the run-up to the Kyrgyz elections of February 27 (and the second round of voting on March 13), Kyrgyzstan was subjected to an unprecedented propaganda barrage aimed at discrediting and undercutting President Askar Akayev. Unusual to the norms of diplomatic behavior, the American ambassador in Bishkek publicly chastised the Kyrgyz government.

This was surprising. Akayev was by no means a "Soviet-style dictator". In fact, he is a "post-Soviet" elected leader. In US perceptions, he used to be a role model of enlightened democratic leadership - almost like Eduard Shevardnadze ("Shevvy") was at one time.
The supposedly spontaneous people's revolution - like that in Ukraine - should be seen in terms of the old Cold War rivalry between Washington and Moscow.
If Christ came back today...

Harvey Wasserman lets fly on religious bigots:
If Christ came back today to resume preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Karl Rove would slime him in the media, then kill him outright, then turn his words into right wing hatespeak, then kill those who refuse to follow in his name...
Bush In Europe: What Really Happened?

Looking at what has happened since Bush's supposedly "fence-mending" tour of Europe last month, you have to wonder what really went on behind closed door. I mean, Chirac cracked jokes over dinner about "freedom fries" while Putin was stony faced as he listened to Bush's lectures on Democracy.

Bush came home and nominated John Bolton for the UN, then Wolfowitz for the World Bank. And he did it in a way that has seriously pissed off a lot of important European people.

My guess is that, in various subtle diplomatic ways, the Europeans rubbed Bush's nose in it. And so they should have.

March 21, 2005

US Fascism: The Revolution Is Here Already

A great article from Brian Cloughley at CounterPunch, reflecting something I have been saying for some time:
"It is the little people, the Jeremy Martins of the uniformed brothers and the Todd Hales of the church brothers, who lead the populace in endorsing and actively supporting evil. They are just folks like other folks, of course. They live down the street or on the next block and they have 1.7 kids, an SUV and a couple of bicycles, a liking for the local baseball team, clean living and Church cookouts, and a deep and terrible ignorance of humanity, history, and tolerance."
The author recalls the words of William Shirer, an American reporter who described life in Nazi Germany from 1934 through 1941.
In Nuremberg in September 1934, Shirer wrote that "when Hitler finally appeared on the balcony for a moment [the faces in the audience] reminded me of the crazed expressions I saw once in the back country of Louisiana on the faces of some Holy Rollers . . . They looked up to him as if he were a Messiah . . ." and went on to record Hitler's shriek that "We are strong and we will get stronger!"

"There, in the floodlit night . . . the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being . . .: the shedding of their individual souls and minds--with the personal doubts and responsibilities and problems--until under the mystic lights . . . they were merged in the herd."

And in just such a speech on October 30, 2004 at the Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (it's on the White House website), Bush said exactly the same thing: "We are strong, and we will get stronger." And there was rapturous applause, just as at Hitler's Nuremberg. " . . . you know where I stand and where I intend to lead this country." [Applause.] Audience: "Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!", just as Hitler was greeted with the adoring mass chant of 'Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!'

The little people of America were speaking to Bush...
The author also recalls the words of historian John Toland, who wrote in his masterly 'Adolf Hitler' (Doubleday, New York, 1976) that in mid-30s Germany "a revolution was going on, but since it was almost bloodless, many Germans did not, or chose not, to realize it."

Compare that to this recent post from Stirling Newberry at Daily Kos:
We want a revolution, not a violent revolution, nor yet a velvet revolution - but a revolution in thought, a revolution of thought - a revolution of reflection, which joins both the deep human longings and the power of human reason. The right wing is attempting a revolution, not of feeling but of rage, a revolution of revenge, a revolution of rationalization - which, even when it should cloak itself in reason is unreasonable, one which even when it cloaks itself in nobility is ignoble, one which even should it cloak itself in humanity, is inhuman. The moment of change is upon us, we will have one or the other...
Full articles via The Smirking Chimp.

PS: The first link above reveals another shocking quote from John Bolton, nominated by Bush to be US ambassador to the United Nations:
"It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so."
Time To Write Off The World Bank?

So what would a Wolfowitz World Bank be like? This article - Wolfowitz at the World Bank's Door - is spotlighted today at because it captures some important and very probable repercussions of Bush's bizarre nomination.

Of course, the biggest and most obvious problem about appointing Wolfowitz to anything higher than White House Toilet Cleaner is that it rewards failure and shows that the Bush White House is still set on its militant neo-con agenda. On the other hand, we already know that.

The next biggest problem with the nomination is that further erodes the credibility of the World Bank at a time when it badly needs to become all that it claims to be. Just look at this for starters:
Created as part of the post-WWII constellation of globalist organizations (which includes the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization), the World Bank has an entirely unearned reputation for promoting economic development and relief around the world. In fact, it has done more to sow misery, poverty, corruption, and war than practically any institution in history. This is why Wolfowitz, a warmonger and disciple of Soviet terror master Leon Trotsky, is a perfect choice to serve as World Bank commissar.

In his recently published book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, economist John Perkins describes the role played by the World Bank in a global loan-sharking scheme. Covertly recruited by the National Security Agency in the late 1960s, Perkins was dispatched to various countries — including Indonesia and Panama — to help induce national leaders to take out huge World Bank loans to fund mammoth infrastructure programs.

According to Perkins, he was just one Economic Hit Man (EHM) among thousands plying the same trade worldwide. If an EHM is successful, writes Perkins, "the [World Bank] loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources…. Of course, the debtor still owes us money — and another country is added to our global empire."

Economic Hit Men aren’t the only weapons in the Power Elite's arsenal. Perkins also refers to "Jackals," who are sent to deal with the most refractory foreign leaders by fomenting revolutions, or staging assassinations. When all else fails, Barber Conable informed us, it’s time to send out the bombers. Writes Perkins: "When the Jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to kill and die."
That's a pretty bleak outlook. Is the World Bank really such a totally corrupt instrument of corporate greed? If so, it needs to be investigated, reformed and - if necessary - replaced. Wolfowitz's appointment would only stengthen anti-globalization sentiment and block any chances of such real progress.
Marking Two Years Since The US Invasion Of Iraq

Anti-War Protests: A Global Photo Gallery.

March 18, 2005

State-Sponsored Torture

CIA admits to rendering of terror suspect transfers.
"Are you able to tell us today that there were no techniques being used by the intelligence community that were against the law ... up to the end of 2004?" asked Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's ranking Democrat.

"I am not able to tell you that," said Mr Goss...
Giuliana Sgrena: What Really Happened?

From Mike Whitney via The Smirking Chimp:
The day after the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was nearly killed at an Iraqi checkpoint; PBS's anchor Margaret Warner revealed a clue on national TV that has received little or no notice. Warner acknowledged that the checkpoint where Sgrena was shot was set up just 45 minutes prior to the arrival of the vehicle.

45 minutes earlier? Why?

The location of the checkpoint was equally suspicious. It was placed around a blind corner just 700 yards from the airport where no roadblock had ever been placed before.


Sgrena originally said that approximately 300 rounds were fired, but only a few well-placed bullet holes appear on the vehicle.


The holes found in the vehicle were not fired into the engine block as stated, nor were they the random spray of fire that one would expect from a nervous soldier. Rather the shots look like they must have come from professional assassins who targeted particular spots on the vehicle to affect the greatest damage; two bullets to the front tires (to stop the vehicle), two bullets through the driver's side windshield (to kill the driver) and shots through the rear window at an angle that would kill the person situated in the middle of the back seat. (Pictures of the vehicle were available over the weekend on web site) This is not the quality of shooting one would expect from soldiers manning a roadblock. The checkpoint and the 300 rounds fired into the air were probably just a necessary diversion for the professional marksmen who carried out their task from an undisclosed location. Crazy?

This theory is further strengthened by Sgrena's comments when the soldiers opened the rear door and were surprised by the fact that Italian Intelligence agent Nicola Calipari had been shot.

"Oh, shit!" one of the soldiers blurted out (according to Sgrena) It's clear that they didn't realize what had happened, but thought that they had accidentally hit the car.

So far, nearly all of the US military's account has been disproved. The vehicle was not speeding and the driver was not warned by either "hand and arm signals" or "flashing white lights." The vehicle was traveling slowly and stopped immediately at the checkpoint, when the firing began.

Italian special-agent Calipari had notified the proper authorities that he was on his way to the airport; so all of the operative checkpoints must have been notified according to normal protocol. "However, Italian dailies La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera reported on Friday that US authorities in Iraq knew of the presence of Calipari AND A COLLEAGUE but had not been told that their mission was to free Giuliana Sgrena." (Al Jazeera)

So, why would a professional like Calipari trying to sneak Sgrena out of the country without telling the Americans?

The only explanation is that Calipari believed that Sgrena would be in danger if the military knew she was planning to leave Iraq. Calipari's behaviour reinforces the allegations made just weeks earlier by CNN's Eason Jordan that the US is intentionally targeting journalists. They had a special reason to silence Sgrena who had first-hand knowledge of war crimes committed in Falluja...
So what does it take to get hundred of thousands out in the streets protesting against Bush? Ted Rall captures the hypocrisy...

March 17, 2005

My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God.
Non-violence is the means of realising Him.

- Gandhi
Blogs Is Just Blogs... Mostly

Juan Cole today takes a swing at self-inflated bloggers like Jeff Jarvis (who he correctly identifies as a "Republican in Democrat Clothing") and their ill-informed crusade to overhaul traditional journalistic media with a barrage of right-wing warblogger groupthink. Cole says that blog readers "too often look for mirrors of their own views."
The mean-spiritedness of Jarvis toward those with whom he disagrees, and his celebration of often unrepresentative Middle Eastern bloggers, typifies this danger... The danger is all the greater because Jarvis has used his old TV Guide rollodex to convince the journalists that he speaks for the bloggers in general as the expert on the medium... People watching Fox and then bloviating at Little Green Martians or whatever are not doing journalism. Most of the people working in the studio at Fox Cable News are not even doing journalism ...
As I've said before, I think Jarvis' crusade is just another neocon-funded effort to undermine tradiitional media like the New York Times. Jarvis still hasn't explained his own involvment in the concerted hysteria that caused Eason Jordan's resignation (a story which he now totally ignores). As Cole points out, blogs like Andrew Sullivan, Jeff Jarvis and Right Wing News get tens of thousands of hits a day. Scratch the surface and I suspect you will find some very interesting GOP funding behind those blogs.
Greenspan Must Go

It has always been just a question of time before US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan would be revealed as a pro-Fascist Bush neo-con stooge. That time is now upon us:
The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, has admitted he made a mistake in 2001 when he defended President George Bush's tax cuts, which led to the turnaround of a large budget surplus at the end of the Clinton presidency to a budget deficit this year of more than $US400 billion ($506 billion).

Instead of a projected surplus of $US5.6 trillion by 2011, the budget deficit is now expected to be $US4 trillion by that date if the tax cuts become permanent.
Back in 2001, Greenspan was backing Bush's tax cuts for the rich with the ridiculous claim that budget surpluses were too big and that the US foreign debt would be paid off too quickly! Now he is attempting to use the old neo-con "groupthink" defence (who could have guessed there were no WMDs/Al-Quaeda links/limits to US borrowing?).
Under vigorous and often aggressive questioning by Hillary Clinton, Dr Greenspan, looking decidedly uncomfortable, said that, with the benefit of hindsight, he had been mistaken in his view about budget surpluses.

"We were confronted at the time with an almost universal expectation amongst experts that we were dealing with a very large surplus for which there seemed to be no end," he said. "I look back and I would say to you, if confronted with the same evidence we had back then, I would recommend exactly what I recommended then. Turns out we were all wrong".

"Not all of us," snapped Senator Clinton.
You go, girl!

It's like an immature kid maxing out a swathe of new credit cards while boasting to the world about how fast his new car is, how big his new boat is... Sooner or later the credit card companies are going to put a stop on the card and call in the debt, even if it means they themselves make a loss.
The United States' deficit in the broadest measure of international trade soared to an all-time high of $US665.9 billion ($A842.91 billion) in 2004, showing in stark terms the speed with which the country is becoming indebted to the rest of the world.
In this case, the global lenders have to worry that putting a halt to the neo-con adventure could trigger a global recession, if not another Depression. But it's time to put a stop to the game.

Greenspan's "mistake" has cost the US taxpayer around $10 trillion. If that isn't grounds for resignation (if not dismissal) then I don't know what is. A more honourable and less complicit President would put the man in jail.
US Neocons: Giving The World The Finger

Following the nomination of John Bolton as US Ambassador to the UN, Bush's decision to nominate Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank must be seen in a broader context. As one European source said:
"'Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks."
Exactly the point, it seems to me. Bush's neo-conservative pushers are telling the world that they are now in charge, even if they did get the Iraq War and several other things all wrong.
"Wolfowitz does not have an interest or knowledge about poverty and development problems. With him at the helm, the bank will be seen more and more as a tool of U.S. foreign policy, not a multilateral institution," wrote Alex Wilks, a Brussels-based activist whose Web site ( tracked speculation over the presidency.
Exactly. It's exactly the same ideological line that the Bush neo-cons have been pushing all along - a militant US Empire as the sole global Superpower and a compliant world in tow.

March 16, 2005

Real Patriotism

The USA needs more people like this who can proudly say "I Got Ejected from a George Bush Event!":
I just got thrown out of one of George Bush's Social Security 'town meetings.' You know, the ones where he scoots around the country, fills up a room full of Kool-Aid-drinking Republicans, and answers softball questions (or just gives his sales pitch with no questions). And all on the taxpayer dime.

Yep, I sat there like a good boy, up in the nosebleed section, clapping for Anne Northup (our Bush clone congresswoman), praying in Jesus' name, and all that good stuff. Then Bush got up and gave his one-sided Social Security talk. I finally couldn't take it anymore, and I stood up and shouted my opinions. 'Let's not use Social Security money for private accounts! I like private accounts, I've got two! A 401k and a Roth. But let's not steal from Social Security! How about private accounts outside of Social Security?' People started shushing me with furrowed brows and shocked expressions. 'Shhh. That's rude!' I just kept on yelling. 'Mr. President, can't you hear me?' I repeated my mantra over and over and he kept on talking, trying to ignore me. He began to stumble a bit on words. I don't blame the guy. It's hard to keep your lies straight when someone is yelling the truth at you. And the acoustics at Whitney Hall are amazing! The truth was echoing from the rafters...
Weighted Words: "The frightening part of the evolving definition of fascism is the need to add adjectives and details in order to maintain the pejorative flavor of the word without reflecting on the United States Government. "
For Those Interested...

A BBC article on the Bloggies. Check out the right-side panel: "RELATED INTERNET LINKS"

Hey, when is someone going to nominate ME! How about "Best Persistence In The Face Of Overwhelming Odds"?

US banks helped finance the US-backed Pinochet regime while it killed thousands of innocents...
Bush's Coalition Of The Coerced: Reality Sets In

BBC has the latest on Iraq's strained coalition: The graphic should show Australia's contribution doubling to around 800 on Monday when Denmark's troops leave. The Ukrainians will be withdrawn by October. Berlusconi says Italy will pull out in September. Poland is scaling back its presence.

The BBC report says "the whole emphasis of the security effort is shifting now":
There may still be major question marks over the reliability of many of the new Iraqi security forces, but the Americans say there are now some 140,000 people trained.

They may not all be fully capable...
You got that right! The US Government Accountability Office says the Pentagon's 142,000 figure includes tens of thousands of Iraqi policemen who have gone AWOL. Previous reports said more than 50,000 have been given as little as three weeks' basic training, reinforcing my suspiscion that the US actually wants the instability to continue as long as possible.
Bush & Co: Thieves, Liars And Murderers

It's bad enough that Halliburton charged US taxpayers millions in excess fees. It's worse that the Bush administration hid the figures in the leadup to the November 2 election last year. But now these guys are popping off whistleblowers:
The US contractor working on the project repeatedly warned the taskforce that a Lebanese middleman involved in the deal might be giving kickbacks to Iraqi Defence Ministry officials. But US military officials did not act on the contractor's pleas for tighter financial controls.

"If we proceed down the road we are currently on, there will be serious legal issues that will land us all in jail," the contractor, Dale Stoffel, wrote on November 30.

Eight days later, Stoffel was shot dead in an ambush near Baghdad. The killing is being investigated by the FBI.

Since then, US military officials have kept working with the middleman, Raymond Zayna...
Spoiler: Anakin in Iraq

Geroge Lucas is telling everybody that New Star Wars film will be pretty dark. So how does young Anakin Skywalker become the evil Darth Vader?

Apparently, Anakin finds out that his mother was really a government spy and she was killed after her identity was revealed as political payback because his father refused to support the Empire's bogus War On Planet Iraq. Then Anakin finds out that his family's lost fortune was squandered on this bogus war, which is why he and his mother were sold into slavery in the first place. Then he finds out that all the news he has been learning about this war has been coming from fake TV news segments funded by Empire agencies, again using money from his own family fortune! Then he finds out that the Jedi Knights are all getting kickbacks for promoting Empire programs like Galactic Social Security Renewal and No Star Left Behind...
Wanted: Informed Public Outrage

More on the Times' front page investigation of the 'fake news' scandals (see below). Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! has an interview with P.R. expert John Stauber and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Laurie Garrett.

Stauber has a simple solution to the problem of fake news reports:
"They should be labeling it. The Radio, TV, and News Directors' Association has for decades now turned a blind eye to this, and it clearly violates their ethics code. In The New York Times article, they're muttering about strengthening their ethics code, but that won't matter, because they don't care. There's so much money to be made or saved, if you will, by replacing real news on TV with fake news, that this will continue to be a widespread problem unless there's a mobilization of outraged news viewers who demand that the F.C.C. step in and enforce standards which would seem to indicate that this is in violation of the F.C.C. standards..."
Outraged viewers demanding action? In the USA? What are the chances? As I said before, there should be 100,000 demonstrators camping on the White House lawns now. But there isn't. So why not?

Garrett touches on the answer when he talks about his experiences as a visiting professor of journalism at US universities:
I have seen this disturbing trend where I will ask students in the room, "How many of you want someday to work at a major newspaper, be a Woodward or Bernstein at The Washington Post or be a network television correspondent." A couple of hands go up. Then I look the at rest of the room. "Well, what is it you all want to do?" and they all say "public relations."

... And when you ask the students why public relations as opposed to journalism, often they would say to me, "Well, there really isn't that much of a distinction, but you can make more money on the P.R. side."
I've often said that Bush's disastrous Presidency is symptomatic of the USA's more general decline as a society. It's like the Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire - the broader social malaise provides a fertile breeding ground for the political-ecomonic corruption, which actually becomes more or less inevitable in a country where most people can't be bothered voting, let alone keeping up to date with the latest (and factual) news.

Disclaimer: They say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. As an Australian, I'm not saying my own society is much healthier - I had similarly disillusioning experiences when I went to University back in the 1980s... Not surprisingly, Australians are also loathe to demonstrate and our PM is now sending more troops into Iraq just as Italy and virtually every other country pulls out. Our TV news is also pretty abysmal but it's not pre-paid and pre-packaged yet, as far as I know... Mind you, John Howard spent a taxpayer-funded fortune advertising Government programs in the lead-up to the last two elections...

March 14, 2005

Children as young as 11 years old were held at Abu Ghraib.
Army, CIA Agreed on 'Ghost' Prisoners
Insider Blows The Lid On Halliburton Deals

Former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse is blowing the whistle on the Dick Cheney–linked company's profits of war. See Vanity Fair's full exposé at The Spoils of War.
A "Cowboy From Hell" Speaks Out

The following interview with U.S. Marine Jimmy Massey appeared in Italy's Il Manifesto newspaper the day before Giuliana Sgrena - a reporter for Il Manifesto - was released and shot:
“I’ve seen the horror that we were causing every day in Iraq. I have been part of it. We are all just murderers.

We kill innocent Iraqi civilians all the time. That’s the way it is. I believe they need to withdraw all foreign military troops in Iraq right away. And I say this about other soldiers: to avoid punishment or reprisals by the military, they don’t want to talk and admit that killing terrorists is not our mission. It’s to kill innocent civilians.


“What was your rank in Iraq?”

“I was a sergeant with the Third Marine Battalion during the invasion, in the spring of 2003.”

“How much time did you spend there?”

“From March 22 to the 15th of May. Four months of hell. They had to send me back to the U.S. because of a ‘stress syndrome.’ This is the term in military jargon they use to say that because of the horrors I’ve seen in the war, I’ve lost my mind.”

“Were you in the Marines many years?”


“Had you fought in a war before?”


“You are now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War?”

“Yes, I went to Iraq initially with the idea that weapons of mass destruction had to be eliminated. But soon my experience as a Marine made me understand that the reality was something quite different. We were ‘cowboy murderers.’ We killed innocent civilians.”

“You admit having killed innocent civilians?”

“Sure, and lots of them.”

“How did it happen?”

“Near my base in the south of Baghdad, our whole platoon attacked a group of civilians engaged in a peaceful demonstration. Why? Because we heard gunshots. It was a blood bath. The pretense that those civilians were engaged in ‘terrorist activities’ didn’t work for me. That’s what our military intelligence wanted us to believe.

“We killed more than 30 people. That was the first time that I had to face up to the horror that my hands were soiled with the blood of civilians. We laid down cluster bombs on them. The people fled, and when they arrived at the control points we had set up with armed convoys, I was supposed to shoot the ones that looked like they belonged to ‘terrorist groups.’ Those were the directions military intelligence gave us.”

“And that’s what you all did?”

“We ended up massacring innocent civilians – men, women, and children. When our platoon took over a radio station, we went ahead and put out propaganda to the population urging them to go on with their daily routine, keep the schools open, etc. But we knew that our orders were to ‘search and destroy.’ That meant carrying out armed assaults on schools, in hospitals, anywhere that ‘terrorists’ could hide. In reality these were traps set up by military intelligence. We ourselves were supposed to overlook the taking of civilian lives that were part of these missions.”

“You admit that during your mission you carried out executions on innocent civilians?”

“Yes, my platoon also opened fire on civilians and I too killed innocents. I too am an assassin.”

“How did you react after these operations when you thought about the innocents you had killed?”

“For a while I kept on going. In my own mind I denied the reality of me being a murderer and not a soldier who somehow could tell the difference between who is right and who is wrong. Then, one day I woke up and there was a young kid inside my head.

“Miraculously, he had saved himself from a massacre of passengers in his car. He was shouting at me and asking: ‘Why did you kill my brother.’ He became an obsession. I physically lost control of my equilibrium and couldn’t move or talk. I stayed in one place and looked all the time at the wall. I was really scared, and lost.”

“What measures did your superiors take?”

“For three weeks in Iraq, they filled me with anti depressives and psychotropic drugs. That’s the emergency treatment for these cases of ‘traumatic stress,’ when the idea of refusing to kill takes over a soldier’s life.”

“Didn’t their training in the United States put them at the disposal of the Pentagon into units that were really violent and aggressive?”

“Yes, in the part called ‘boot camp’ each one of us is subjected to techniques of ‘dehumanization’ and ‘desensitization to violence.’ But they never told me that this meant killing innocent civilians.”

“So, three weeks with antidepressants in Iraq – and after that?”

“They didn’t know what to do and sent me back. Now I am out of the military, incapacitated and disabled, with an honorable discharge.”

“Are there others in conditions like yours?”

“Many. And they are still at the front. They stuff them with anti-depressants, and after that they go back and are sent into combat again. It’s a problem that has become quite worrisome for them. One must not say anything about it there in the military.

“In 2004, 31 marines took their own lives, and 85 made suicide attempts. Most of those who wanted to die rather than keep on killing are less than 25 years old, and 16 percent of them are under 20 years.”
Story here: That's me, a marine, a murderer of civilians. Massey's diary, “Cowboys from Hell,” which will be published at the end of the summer.
Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda

An important piece from The New York Times:
"Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance.

In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production... records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source."
The article notes that criticism by government watchdogs is having little or no effect on stemming the spread of such bogus news stories. And it says major television networks play crucial intermediary roles in the business:
Fox, for example, has an arrangement with Medialink to distribute video news releases to 130 affiliates through its video feed service, Fox News Edge. CNN distributes releases to 750 stations in the United States and Canada through a similar feed service, CNN Newsource. Associated Press Television News does the same thing worldwide with its Global Video Wire.

"We look at them and determine whether we want them to be on the feed," David M. Winstrom, director of Fox News Edge, said of video news releases. "If I got one that said tobacco cures cancer or something like that, I would kill it."
Well now, who said Fox News ethics don't exist eh???

As usual, it's all about money. TV stations run the segments because they are cheap (no need for independent reporters, let alone independent thought), networks distribute them because they are revenue-raising, and the supposed "reporters" are just ordinary folks trying to get ahead and pay their bills at home...

The article includes several case-studies and interviews where the TV execs responsible for disseminating these infomercials did not even realise that what they were broadcasting was State Department propaganda.
An important instrument of this strategy was the Office of Broadcasting Services, a State Department unit of 30 or so editors and technicians whose typical duties include distributing video from news conferences. But in early 2002, with close editorial direction from the White House, the unit began producing narrated feature reports, many of them promoting American achievements in Afghanistan and Iraq and reinforcing the administration's rationales for the invasions. These reports were then widely distributed in the United States and around the world for use by local television stations. In all, the State Department has produced 59 such segments.

United States law contains provisions intended to prevent the domestic dissemination of government propaganda. The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, for example, allows Voice of America to broadcast pro-government news to foreign audiences, but not at home. Yet State Department officials said that law does not apply to the Office of Broadcasting Services. In any event, said Richard A. Boucher, a State Department spokesman: "Our goal is to put out facts and the truth. We're not a propaganda agency."
So US Laws do not apply to the OBS, just because the OBS says laws do not apply? They are not a propaganda agency, just because they say they aren't? Somebody call the Attorney General for confirmation of this!!!

And that's just the State Department...
The Defense Department is working hard to produce and distribute its own news segments for television audiences in the United States.

The Pentagon Channel, available only inside the Defense Department last year, is now being offered to every cable and satellite operator in the United States. Army public affairs specialists, equipped with portable satellite transmitters, are roaming war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, beaming news reports, raw video and interviews to TV stations in the United States. All a local news director has to do is log on to a military-financed Web site,, browse a menu of segments and request a free satellite feed.

Then there is the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service, a unit of 40 reporters and producers set up to send local stations news segments highlighting the accomplishments of military members.

''We're the 'good news' people,'' said Larry W. Gilliam, the unit's deputy director.
Hmmn... "Good news from Iraq" - sounds familiar?

Read the full 8-page story here.

March 11, 2005

NBC says the temporary US checkpoint where U.S. troops killed an Italian intelligence agent last week on the road to Baghdad's airport was set up to protect U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who was using the road instead of his usual helicopter route.
Bush Walks Away From Another International Convention

"The US has withdrawn from part of an international agreement being used to fight for foreigners on death row.

The Vienna Convention gave the International Court of Justice the right to intervene in the cases of foreigners held in US jails.

But the US state department says it is not appropriate that an international court should reverse the decisions of a country's criminal justice system.
I guess that means we will hear no more criticism of "criminal justice" in places like Cuba, Russia, China, North Korea, etc, etc...?

The US was one of the original architects of the Vienna Convention but now wants to execute Mexican prisoners on death row who are invoking it in their defence..
Hiding US Wounded From The Light Of Truth

Military flights carrying wounded soldiers back home arrive in the United States only at night.

Of course, the Pentagon denies there is a conspiracy to hide them from the cameras. So how is moving wounded patients at night - when they should be resting, theoretically - of any benefit to them?
Bush's Cowboy In The UN

Sidney Blumenthal has more choice quotes from Bush's new UN rep John Bolton:
"I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count."
(bursting into the room where Miami-Dade County ballots were being counted in 2000)

"If I were redoing the security council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world."

"The happiest moment of my government service" - sending a letter notifying the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, of the decision to renounce the USA's signature on the 1998 Rome statute that created the International Criminal Court.
Not surprisingly, given how the USA has protected Israel from international condemnation in the UN for decades, Bolton is also very popular in Tel Aviv.
Exposing GOP Bloggers: Bush's Shrill Machine

Now THIS is what I call real journalism. Garance Franke-Ruta at American Prospect Online has an in-depth look at three events in February - GannonGuckertGate, EasonJordanGate and JosephSteffenGate - all of which claimed scalps for the self-proclaimed "new media" of online bloggers:
"Scratch the surface and the same names turn up in each scandal, revealing the events of mid-February to have been part of an ongoing and coordinated proxy war by Republican political operatives on the so-called liberal media, conducted through the vast, unmonitored loophole of the Internet...

Using the cover of anonymity (many bloggers use pseudonyms), the cacophony of the relatively new medium, and the easily inflamed passions of the Web, these partisan political operatives are becoming experts at stirring up hornets’ nests of angry e-mails to editors, mounting campaigns to force advertisers to pull out of news shows, and, most disturbingly, spreading outright false information. The irony is that, at the same time this is happening, many in the mainstream media have decided it’s finally time to take bloggers seriously...
Franke-Ruta then takes an in-depth look at exactly what went on with these three scandals, and who promoted them. Check the original story for lots of URL links. Here's the low-down on the Eason Jordan "scandal":, the blog that served as the clearinghouse for the attack on CNN, was helped along by Virginia-based Republican operative Mike Krempasky. From May 1999 through August 2003, Krempasky worked for ["dirty-tricks master" Morton] Blackwell as the graduate development director of the Leadership Institute, an Arlington, Virginia–based school for conservative leaders founded by Blackwell in 1979. The institute is the organization that had provided “Gannon” with his sole media credential before he became a White House correspondent. It also now operates “Internet Activist Schools” designed to teach conservatives how to engage in “guerilla Internet activism.”

Indeed, Krempasky could be found teaching this Internet activism course one recent February weekend to about 30 young conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. “He advocated that people write from their experience -- and not necessarily as conservatives,” a Democratic consultant who attended the seminar incognito told me. For example, Krempasky told “a conservative firefighter” that he should write about firefighting because that would be of interest to readers. Using that angle, he could build an audience. And if push ever came to shove, he could respond to an online dogfight from the unassailable position of being a firefighter -- and not as just another conservative ideologue. Krempasky then offered to help all the attendees set up their own blogs. “We’re definitely in serious trouble,” said the Democratic attendee.

The tactics Krempasky promotes are directly descended from those advocated by the late Reed Irvine of AIM, whose major funder was, for the past two decades, Richard Mellon Scaife. “Many bloggers and blog readers might not even know who Reed Irvine was, nor understand the debt we owe him as conservatives,” Krempasky wrote upon Irvine’s passing last year. “But that debt is tremendous.” In the late ’80s, Irvine had started the campaign to “Can Dan” Rather, coining the phrase “Rather Biased,” which became a rallying cry for anti-rather bloggers. Last fall, Krempasky was operating the main anti-Rather site,, and organized a vast letter-writing and e-mailing campaign “to contact CBS and express themselves,” as he put it in an interview with Bobby Eberle of GOPUSA, an activist Web site founded by Texas Republicans and merged with one now owned by Bruce Eberle (no relation), the proprietor of a conservative direct-mail firm. “Conservatives have operated through alternative media for 40 years, direct mail being the first one,” Krempasky told me, sitting in the food court of the Ronald Reagan International Building as the CPAC wound down. “As far as the Internet goes, conservatives have largely been ahead of the left.”

Also part of the team was La Shawn Barber, who writes a biweekly column for -- again, the name pops up -- GOPUSA and has written for AIM about “the Bush-bashing media.” Working alongside Krempasky and Barber was another site,, “a Republican community weblog” registered with the Federal Election Commission as a 527. Krempasky helped found that site along with Senate staffer Ben Domenech, the chief speechwriter for Bush ally and Texas Senator John Cornyn; and former U.S. Army officer Josh Trevino, a conservative blogger who used to write under the name “Tacitus.” The goal of “[T]o unite … voices from government, politics, activism, civil society, and journalism” in service of the “construction of a Republican majority.”

Power Line, another conservative blog deeply involved in the Rather controversy, helped push the Jordan story as well. Described by Time magazine as “three amateur journalists working in a homegrown online medium [who] challenged a network news legend and won,” Power Line was voted Time’s “2004 Blog of the Year.” In reality, its three writers are all fellows at the conservative Claremont Institute who attended Dartmouth College in the early 1970s and now work as attorneys; two of them have been writing articles as a team for conservative publications such as the National Review and The American Enterprise for more than 10 years.

Certainly there were some citizen-bloggers involved in the anti-Jordan effort. Easongate founder Bill Roggio, 35, is a computer-software analyst in Medford, New Jersey. His blog, The Fourth Rail, demanded that CNN release the video- or audiotape of Jordan’s comments in Davos. Roggio started on Saturday, February 5, with a couple of right-wing and military blogosphere buddies, Michigan-based Brian Scott (of The Blue State Conservatives) and Josh Manchester (of Like Roggio, Manchester served in the military, leaving active duty as a U.S. Marine only recently. Scott, a Republican and member of Right to Life of Michigan, started his blog to further his dreams of becoming a conservative talk-radio personality.

As Easongate got cooking, the trio quickly reached out to “BlackFive,” a former paratrooper and prominent military blogger in Chicago who declined, in an e-mail interview, to reveal his surname (his first name is Matt). Blackfive brought in Cheryl, a 48-year-old advertising sales representative from southern California who asked me not to use her last name; she gave the group pro bono marketing services and helped to set up a database of CNN advertisers to be contacted. The team even tried to get an active-duty military officer to join their clique. The officer declined.

Jordan had made his comments more than a week before Easongate went live and, by all accounts, quickly backtracked at the panel when pressed. But the next day, January 28, Rony Abovitz, a blogger brought on by the World Economic Forum and, according to a later report in the Guardian, “one of those conservative online activists who believe the internet is an opportunity to balance what they see as media pro-liberal bias,” posted an item on the forum’s blog demanding that the two members of Congress who had been in Davos press Jordan on his remarks. The demand percolated throughout the conservative U.S. blogosphere as concern grew, and conservative talk-radio host, Weekly Standard writer, and blogger Hugh Hewitt added fuel to the fire by mentioning the controversy on cable television.

During the week that Roggio’s site was active, it launched a petition, turned readers into letter writers to CNN, worked the phones urging contacts in the military and government to call CNN, and generally acted as a clearinghouse for information on Jordan. Just as it was about to start a wholesale assault on CNN’s advertisers, Jordan caved. “I have never worked with a more cohesive, like-minded group of individuals in my entire life,” wrote Scott after Jordan resigned. “Without people like Cheryl, … Blackfive and his contacts, … La Shawn Barber and her writing prowess, and the advice of Mike Krempasky, we would not have succeeded.”
After all his hard work, poor Jeff Jarvis will be very upset that his Buzz Machine blog does not even rate a mention.

See the full article at American Prospect Online for the low-down on the GannonGuckert and Joseph Steffen scandals.
Good News???!?!?!

Good news via Daily Kos today:
"A former Republican consultant was sentenced yesterday to five months in jail for jamming Democratic Party telephone lines in several New Hampshire cities during the 2002 general election.

Allen Raymond, who was president of the Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC at the time, did not comment as he left the U.S. District Court sentencing. He had pleaded guilty in June."
Kos also notes that Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative has been given the thumbs down.


Blog Archive