Saturday, November 25, 2006

9/11: It's Time for America to Pick Up the Baton

I am done researching 9/11.

Two years ago, several years of independent 9/11 investigation, research independent of any online umbrella group and independent of a Bush adminstration provided lead (that nineteen Arabs pulled off the events of September 11, 2001), was destroyed (since, I have resurrected much of it at this blog). It was destroyed from several angles. Its author was intimidated by multiple fires starting at residences inhabited by immediate family members (two different fires in one week) and by the poisoning of two of his dogs, in separate incidents a year or so apart. This author (yours truly) had been through an awful lot already, including many thousands of electronic attacks on his websites, mailing lists, and email accounts and by the most jarring kinds of death threats. After having my love life infiltrated by an operative, specifically by a woman that after a year and a half experienced some attack of conscience and informed me that she had been "assigned" to me, and in conjunction with what I had experienced in other aspects of my life, I decided to drop out of the online activist scene. At this time, in the fall of 2004, I had just witnessed another hijacking of the electoral process and after I saw that John Kerry was going to sit on millions of dollars of campaign money rather than spend any of it getting to the bottom of the fraud, I was at the brink of despondency.

The 9/11 research I speak of was also destroyed by having Indymedia, who at the time took an active stance against such research, delete each and every thing I had ever posted there. In a matter of a couple of days, everything ever posted there by Agent Smiley (an old online pseudonym of mine) or Eric Stewart was suddenly gone, this after one Michael C. Ruppert had specifically stated that he was going to contact Indymedia and request just such censorship. He said he'd do it and then it was all gone and still, to this day, I go through endless inane arguments that insist that I may be wrong in my conclusions.

Additionally, Memes.org, a now essentially defunct website, went under. Reportedly, everything ever archived there (three quarters, I am sure, of everything I had researched on 9/11) was now held hostage by some ISP that the site's owner has not payed the bill on to this day. At this point, I can see the question mark hovering over readers' heads and I will explain that for years I conducted all of my activism on computers at public libraries and university libraries and didn't own my own, hence the fact that none of this information was backed up.

Let me be clear: although I am not the first person to draw a connection between Warren Buffet and 9/11 and although I was not the first person to draw a connection between Global Hawk (remote piloting) and that fateful day, I was the first person that drew a connection between Buffet and such technologies and more specifically, Mitre Corporation. I state this for one reason and that is that I intend, here, to illustrate the importance of this vein of research that I stumbled upon a few years ago, this for the very last time. It was far more important than I had any idea of at the time and, further, I would only later discover that it was important enough to have some element, presumably the national security state (whom I had already angered a few years before by instigating Jam Echelon Day), devote many labor hours and lots of dollars to disrupting it.

Back in 2001, I had just come out of several years of psychological operations, ops aimed at my destabilization and, essentially, at punishing me for having the gall to make sure that Echelon (an NSA system whereby emails and phone calls were eavesdropped upon, globally, for decades) made it from being just another conspiracy theory to being on the set of Sixty Minutes. In just four months, this system went from being hardly heard of to being the subject of discussion all over the web, in magazines and newspapers, and on the floor of congress. Also, back in 2001, I was just beginning a mailing list that was designed to highlight psychological operations. I was determined to expose what had happened to me and to warn others of just how mass behavior was modified, covertly and without the knowledge of most. Yes, millions, I discovered, were being manipulated without their awareness. It can be a difficult task convincing people that their opinions are not their own but are, largely, in fact, manufactured and induced by the corporate-military media complex. This kind of claim attacks most peoples' sense of identity and sovereignty and it is a common reaction to attack the messenger and never consider the message, especially in a land where comfort is the prime directive.

On this mailing list, much transpired in the early days ensuing the events of September 11, 2001 that would give me a lens through which to view the intentions and methods of certain individuals. To be more clear, there were a few relatively famous internet personalities that, for one reason or another, were drawn to my list and whom I would get to know. Today, Dick Eastman and one Webfairy conduct an endless rabbit hole of arguments, carefully designed to feign opposition and to attempt to define the parameters of separate camps within the 9/11 movement. A short narrative is in order here.

Back in 2001, and partly into 2002, I was in search of my own answers regarding the destruction of the twin towers and I had no particular special insight. There were a handful of people that were on my list that I considered to have some keen minds but I took no particular stance, merely knowing that something was certainly fishy about that day. Between Eastman, Webfairy, and a few others, I had much to sort through and much of it was mutually contradictory. I plugged along, trying to take it all in. What I didn't know at the time was that I had already been given the magic key to 9/11 a few years earlier, by an intelligence operative. The key was Mitre.

I was researching masonic lore and conspiracy legend surrounding this nebulous group (freemasons) when I happened upon mention of the word Mitre in the context of a Babylonian god that allegedly had been assigned as being in charge of measurement, the word 'mitre' being comparable to 'meter', and hence 'measurement.' In my perusings, I came upon the existence of a non-profit defense outfit called Mitre Corporation and among the first things I discovered about them was that they were heavily into real time battle command (the real time flow of information regarding targets globally, managed by supercomputers) and remote piloting. I also discovered something that Mitre used to brag about but that now is not mentioned in any way whatsoever at their website, that one of their prime benefactors was Warren Buffet, the world's second richest man. Since I had already heard that Buffet was at Offut Air Force Base on September 11, 2001 with a handful of CEO's from the World Trade Center and since I had just recently become familiar with the theory that remote piloting had been used to crash two jets into the twin towers, I began to further research Mitre. What I would soon find out was that by plugging Mitre into the 9/11 equation, revelations would make themselves obvious with exponential rapidity, one after another.

I knew I was onto something. After all, the best and most well known 9/11 researchers among us were coming up with new leads every few months but this stuff was releasing a Pandora's box, one that was yielding new leads DAILY. This had to be significant. I mean, when the introduction of a single element to a body of research unleashes revelations at hundreds of times the rate as any other piece of information, it just made sense that this must be an overlooked, vitally important item in discovering the perpetrators of Reichstag II.

Initially, Dick Eastman supported my research, especially went some of it implied a potential Chinese involvement. To this day, I consider that day to have been an international effort, involving the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and China. However, soon after, for some reason unknown to me, Eastman dropped from my list sent me a vague nasty about my research, and began to tell others on other lists that I had no ear to that I was consciously involved in some effort at disinformation. I felt thoroughly betrayed, a feeling I would come to know intimately in the research that ensued over the next three or so years. As well, Webfairy dropped from my list, similarly offering vague, hostile sounding reasons and telling others that I was part of a global cabal of vampires (she called me a "drac" to be specific), my family name of 'Stewart' being part of her reasoning. Internet, Masonic conspiracy lore claims the Stewarts as being part of some ancient, evil group of bloodlines. Appealing to the lowest common denominator, she would inform the David Icke crowd that I was not to be trusted. Though all of this is, in a sense, highly laughable, I consider the attempt at affecting the least discriminating among us with deceit to be vile in that it can, unfortunately, be effective. In Webfairy's case, she would pick up my Buffet leads and forever discredit them by reaching a vast amount of people with them in accompaniment with other, ridiculous ideas such as the existence of flying saucers at the World Trade Center. Today, she helps people associate some of the most important 9/11 leads with the theory that no planes even hit the towers that day and that it was all special effects.

I took my leads to Mike Ruppert and his response was to have me booted from every forum that he and I shared. My attempts at resurecting the Ptech story (a Massachusettes software firm with Mitre connections and connections to the Carlyle Group via bin Laden and to Booz, Allen, & Hamilton) and at pointing out the flaw in trusting the very regime we accuse of being at the controls of said ops to provide us with a solid lead (it was the Bush administration that gave us the idea that nineteen Arabs had anything to do with it) drew completely fabricated accusations by Ruppert. If you don't already feel like you have vertigo from the incessant rabbit holes of the 9/11 investigations, let me help you: Ruppert accused me of accusing him of things that I never accused him of. I asked him to reproduce such accusations, certain that he couldn't (because they never occured), and his response was to threaten me with lawsuits if I didn't stop accusing him of things. Having been falsely accused of accusing a man of things that I never did, I could immediately see that all of this would serve two purposes. He would use his reputation to convince newcomers to our debate not to trust me (after all, who that is still reading this puts the words of an unknown like Eric Stewart into a category of higher credibility than the mighty, well know Michael C. Ruppert) and he would use endless inane arguments and a wilderness of mirrors to confuse any that would actually follow our debate.

By this time, I was seeing that Ruppert employed many of the same tactics that other psyop practitioners used. These kinds of tactics are rampant in the investigations into 9/11 and their sole purpose is to make the task of sorting through all of it seem far too daunting for most, discouraging most Americans from even looking into it and convincing many that insanity is rampant among such investigators. So, finally, after denying that I had ever accused Ruppert of anything, I began to feel that some accusations might be in order. When I began to question his integrity over this contrived bantering, he had his ammunition and taking accusations that I finally did make to Indymedia as evidence that I was a detractor of one of the most important investigators of our time (this is the stance that he would take), he had everything I had ever archived at Indymedia removed. Ironically, From the Wilderness now hosts research into Mitre Corporation and Ptech by Michael Kane, though he carefully avoids any of the Israeli connections. Nowhere in their research is there a single mention of Israel. Similarly, Christopher Bollyn has attacked the Mitre-Ptech connection, focusing rabidly on the Israeli connections while ignoring the Saudi ones, connections that are hyperfocused on by FTW. Can you say controlled opposition? After all, one of the things that became obvious in my own research into all of this (linking to Booz, Allen, & Hamilton, a firm neither Ruppert nor Bollyn seem to dare mention) was that there was close cooperation between Saudi royalty and the Israeli Space Agency. For those of you unaware at the extent to which various space programs around the world were involved in the events of 9/11, check out the links at the bottom of this post.

If you have read this far, I thank you and you should thank yourself for doing whatever it is that you have done to ensure that your mind has remained open during these trying times, times that certainly encourage people to close their minds entirely. I would like you, the reader that has stayed with me, to know that the reason I have gone into all of this is because of recent events, wherein psyops run amuck. Recently, the controlled demolition aspect of 9/11 investigations flowered to fruition. Various outfits produced video presentations in which we were made aware of the undeniability of this angle of the 9/11 truth movement. One eighteen second snippet of video, sampled from a BBC special that came out this last September was particularly devastating to the charade presented to the American people, as it made the sequence of charges that took down the twin towers not only particularly visible, but completely audible. Additionally, the very fact that this video was extremely short and devoid of long winded narratives made it all that much more powerful in its ability as a convincer. I consider it no accident that in the wake of this, at roughly the same moment in time, that certain fairly well known icons in the movement suddenly jumped onto the wagon that says that a scalar beam destroyed the towers. The element of the fantastic again took the forefront and I am sure that in the process we lost many people that were on the verge of accepting the legitimacy of the 9/11 truth movement. Believe it or not, the first person I ever heard make this claim was none other than Webfairy, years ago. As well, she and other 'no-planers' have kicked into high gear in digging rabbit holes everywhere possible.

I am done with 9/11 research. In the course of years of arguments with people all over the web and on countless mailing lists, I have come to realize that if ninety-nine percent of people on such lists are going to continue to remain silent, then I will no longer be among the one percent that actually voices his mind. I have no way of knowing what the average American truly thinks about all of this because on the internet, the average American is silent. If I am to go by the type of person that I most commonly find myself engaged with over issues such as these and if I am to consider such persons typical of the American mind, then the American mind is either deliberately closed or hopelessly stunted. Even if such people are not representative of how America thinks, then we are left with the fact that ninety-nine percent of the online public consider the internet, websites, and even so-called discussion groups to be spectator events wherein all gather around to hear a few speak. I, for one, will not contribute to the spectacle. I will not contribute to a dynamic that only serves to reinforce the spectator-performer duality. I am not special. I have no amazing gift for research; I have only the willingness to do it.

There is a whole lot more to what I had intended to go into regarding remote piloting, including the atmospheric physics that are key to understanding how over the horizon signalling is made possible and enhanced but I no longer feel that I serve the greater good by doing so. It is your turn, America. You, the reader, if you have even made it this far into this diatribe, are apparently equipped to do exactly as I have done. You need to trust yourself and that is all.

Don't be afraid of ridicule and don't be afraid of online spooks. There are too many of you to silence. Especially, don't be afraid to be wrong or to make mistakes. It is only in the process of making such mistakes that you will develop your critical faculties and research skills and before you know it, you will be good at it.

For myself, if I haven't convinced readers that our governmental, corporate, and military entites lied about 9/11, and if the movement in general hasn't done so already, then there is no hope. If I am wrong, and you are indeed convinced, then it is your turn to pick up the slack.

This is my challenge to you: can you do it? Prove it.

If you, the reader, are new to my research or this particular angle on 9/11, then you probably have an awful lot of questions that remain unanswered, some of which is only hinted at in what is above. I can assure you that most of them are answered in the following links.

9/11 and Echelon: Key Players Unearthed

Why follow a 9/11 lead provided by GW?

9/11: A Revolution in Military Affairs

9/11: August 9, 2002

On Mike Ruppert

911 "Wargames" Insider Now in Charge of CIA

This Blog's Entries on 9/11

Al Qaeda Is a Hoax

Damning Evidence of Buffet Role in 9/11

Falls Church, VA and 9/11

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Howling Like a Wild Wolf

Overcoming Fear and Undermining the Invader
by Rod Coronado



It's hard to judge the radical environmental movement by the last 25 years, but if I had to, I'd say that I'm very disappointed. Twenty years ago, when I discovered the Earth First! movement, I thought that the generation of Earth warriors I shared this country with had a fighting chance. People from all walks of life in the center of the First World were coming together and strengthening an already strong love and affinity for the natural world, shaking off their consumerist upbringing and realizing their wild dreams with creative direct action that marked an allegiance with the Earth instead of the society responsible for her destruction. Monkeywrenching was the ultimate demonstration of our love for Mother Earth, and none among us questioned its historical or practical necessity, let alone its legitimacy. We were warriors, and our connection as a tribe meant the shared commitment to abandon the system that constantly betrayed the people and places we loved.

Monkeywrenching was not just another tool in the box, it was what separated EF! from the toothless, First World environmental movement. A fellow Arizonan, Dave Foreman, was our firebrand spokesperson, bringing listeners to tears with his stories of seeing the dying green fire in a wolf's eyes, telling us how the chainsaws also tore his flesh when they tore through an ancient redwood, before hoisting the sacramental monkeywrench to the sky and howling like a wild wolf himself. What else were we supposed to do once that fire was lit inside our hearts, but defend the wildness we loved by any and all means?

Back in the early days of EF!, Dave and the gang erected a monument in New Mexico to Victorio, a Mimbres Apache who drove out or killed invading miners in the late 1800s. After years of watching his people die on the dreaded reservations, Victorio had enough of being pushed around by the system. He knew there was no other way to live than with the Earth, not against her like the Invaders were forcing his people to do. So rather than die a slow death on the malaria - infested reservation, Victorio and a small band broke free to live the only way they knew how.

By identifying with the Apache wars of the American Southwest, EF! held up as an example a people whose worldview centered, like most indigenous peoples, on living in harmony with their environment and who, when attacked, fought ferociously to defend their way of life. That is what the Earth needed from the US environmental movement, then and now. That's what I thought was beginning 20 years ago when I first heard Dave Foreman speak, and I knew there was no greater responsibility than the time-honored tradition of fighting against one's Invaders and oppressors.

Then in 1990, in Arizona, FBI agents kicked in Dave Foreman's door, while simultaneously ambushing a band of monkeywrenchers in action toppling powerlines. It was the first time that EF! experienced the legal consequences of its low-intensity campaign of what Foreman called "ecotage" - acts of economic sabotage against the forces destroying the Earth. Foreman - the editor/publisher of Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching - received a suspended sentence and probation. The FBI's case against Foreman and EF! effectively ended Foreman's advocacy of ecotage. Gone were the days of Foreman pedaling Ecodefense after his lectures and signing copies for wild, awakened "ecoteur" recruits (he refused to sign my copy in 2001). Most importantly to our growing struggle, the FBI had silenced our most outspoken representative while also demonstrating that "monkeywrencher" was just another name for "terrorist." But the ecological insurrection did not end as the Invader had hoped - like the living organism it represents, seeds took to the Earth and grew into something very familiar.

Like Victorio and his struggle against the Western worldview invasion, the actions of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are enough of a threat to have been deemed by the FBI as the most active domestic terrorism groups in the US. Burning SUVs would be the same as attacking the horse - drawn wagons and supply lines of the pioneer Invader; torching luxury trophy homes, the same as burning down their forts. Today, the insurrection comes from within the fort's walls, and those still fighting have been forced to realize that when they abandon the privileges of the Invader, they join the ranks of all who have challenged him before. Bloodthirsty savage, ecoterrorist - it's all the same.

The Invader continues to instill fear with outrageous prison sentences. The American Indian Movement suffered Leonard Peltier as an example, just as we have with Jeffrey "Free" Luers. What both have shown is that what fear does not kill, it makes stronger-and those conscious enough to defend the Earth do so knowing that there is no turning back on this ancestral path to freedom, no matter how dear the personal price.

That's what disappoints me today - not the constant assault or the scale of destruction against our life support system, but the lack of action to stop it. When I used to go to Game and Fish Department public hearings 20 years ago, EF!ers packed the house. If the meetings accomplished nothing else, they let us tell the bastards killing the last of the wild nations that they'd have to go through us first. It might have meant little to them, but to EF! it was another way to remind them, and ourselves, that our love and allegiance was to our Mother. Nowadays, I'm grateful to have more than myself representing our animal relations at the system's meetings. Wherever the desperately needed Earth warriors from this suicidal society have gone, they have thrown away a sacred responsibility in the hour of our planet's greatest need, and I think I know why.

The thing that prevents the multitudes of conscious and aware individuals in our culture from taking direct action to stop, or at the very least interfere with, what they know to be wrong, is fear. Fear makes us withdraw, and instead of fulfilling our social, ecological and political responsibilities, we feel depressed or guilty for remaining a part of the problem. Without an ability to deal with fear, one may feel great empathy, but not enough to risk one's own place of comfort and privilege. Some reinforce their fear by discrediting those who do try to make a difference. Fear is common in the broad, political left and its paralyzing effect on direct action in the First World is what separates our resistance to ecological destruction from that of generations past, and from those in what the Invader calls the "Third World."

We here in the First World feel fear when we think of Free's 22-year prison sentence or of a violent death. Yet for so many across the world, oppression, tragedy and violence have become all they know. How do we defeat the fear and intimidation that robs us of our wild nature, spirit and willingness to fight back? We confront it. We know how bad things are, and I'm not going to waste time rattling off the numbers and statistics. We know the unthinkable evil and cruelty that is being committed in places like Huntingdon Life Sciences and Guantanamo Bay in our own name and by our own citizens, yet we do so little to stop it-little that is truly effective.

Instead of accepting responsibility for our rogue government, the American left-including most environmentalists - has become less politically active, barely challenging the corruption that we know exists. We turn on our computers and become more aware of the suffering, oppression, war and destruction committed by US corporate armies. But rather than take to the streets, liberals worship messengers like Amy Goodman and Michael Moore.

When the Internet first became a primary form of communication for our resistance, many spoke of the information that would be shared - believing, as the American left still does, that if people are made aware of injustice, somehow it will stop. But the US is still torturing prisoners; the last wild buffalo are still being slaughtered; hundreds of thousands of young harp seals are still dying every Spring; the last wild wolves and indigenous people are under continued assault. Instead of the citizen action that one would expect from non-sympathizers and non-collaborators, we hide in our remaining privilege - hiking, river rafting, drinking, cashing our career environmentalist checks, paying the bills, growing ever more cynical, angry or depressed, but most of all ignoring the deep feeling in our hearts that still allows us to hear the Earth's cries.

Awareness without action is worthless. Most people who rise up to prevent the destruction of their lives and homes, like Victorio, didn't learn such responsibilities late in life, but were taught by families living in harmony with the life around them - something there's ever less of in our consumer-based society. That is what we must return to if any movement hoping to preserve life on this planet is to survive.

In the EF! campaign to defend Mt. Graham here in southern Arizona, an Apache elder told me that we must not forget why Mt. Graham was sacred, continue to practice that belief with prayer and teach our children to honor the mountain in the way our ancestors had. If we did that, he said, protecting Mt. Graham and all of Mother Earth would come naturally. Defending your home should be second nature, and helping others who are doing the same is still what the Earth and our movement needs most. What's needed is not just more monkeywrenching, but more of the human-to-human and animal-to-human living that keeps the Earth's spirit, and our own, alive.

In my own awakening from the fear that immobilized me while living underground as an FBI fugitive, the Earth Mother spoke to me, saying, "We are here, we have been here and always will be here, but there is nothing we can do to help you until you believe in us more than what you fear." Once freed from fear - and despite five federal grand juries investigating our ALF cell at the time - we were able to rise from hiding, organize and destroy the US government's Predator Research Facility in Utah.

We must always remember where our power comes from, and believe in it more than in the fear our enemies use. When we believe in the power of the Earth more than in our fear of prisons or death, we attain the level of warriorhood we need to survive the future. When we follow our hearts and instincts, and act to prevent the Earth's destruction and protect the innocent, we tell the Invader that the resistance is alive and strong. We say that the sisterhood and brotherhood with all life that has already survived so many generations of war will not be broken on our watch.

The price of such responsibility may result in us being hunted down like Victorio, the bison of Montana or the wolves of New Mexico and Arizona today. But if we allow fear to prevent us from doing what we know is fair and just, we disrespect our still-living and fighting wild sisters and brothers and those who are in prison, paying a higher price for freedom than most of us ever have. That is what hurts the most. Despite the number of people among us who are fully aware and able to describe the ecological turning point we have either already passed or are fast approaching - global warming, habitat destruction, species extinction, human wars and corporate pollution - so few are standing up to fight it.

Still, I'm a fool, because my strong belief in the power of the Earth gives me hope. And if grown-ups fail to answer the call now, we'd better start raising more of our own children and building the kind of community support structures that a real resistance needs to survive. And I'm not just talking about knowing how to build a fire; we must support, house, teach and feed the refugees that our enemies are always creating. The Earth will support us, that is not a question. But the society dependent on her exploitation will one day collapse, and when it does, the only ones left standing will be those who never were dependent on it in the first place. All others will once again be subject to the Invader for their daily rations.

I'm still under federal indictment for stopping a mountain lion hunt here in Arizona, and I'm facing another indictment for giving a lecture about monkeywrenching. But on November 1, I'll still be helping escort sandhill cranes safely past the hunters' guns, not far from where Victorio rode himself. And though we may only save a few birds, our hearts will remain free, and those killing our winged relations will know it. So to those still ready to ride and break free from the reservations of our minds and hearts, to build the kind of sustainable resistance our Earth needs, the tribe still awaits you. The family of all life on Earth awaits you, around the sacred fire with hero warriors of generations before. That's where you can still find me, hoisting a monkeywrench to the sky and howling like a wild wolf.

Rod Coronado is an organizer with Chuk'shon EF!, and he is looking for people to join him in the field this Fall and Winter in defense of the wild animal nations.

SOURCE: Earth First! Journal

Friday is Buy Nothing Day

No purchase necessary.

THE ULTIMATE REFUND: On November 24th and 25th — the busiest days in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season — thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

From joining zombie marches through malls to organizing credit card cut-ups and shopoholic clinics, Buy Nothing Day activists aim to challenge themselves, their families and their friends to switch off from shopping and tune back into life for one day. Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, Wired, the BBC and the CBC, the global event is celebrated as a relaxed family holiday, as a non-commercial street party or even as a politically charged public protest. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

Take a consumer detox and stay out of the stores.

Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which was responsible for turning Buy Nothing Day into an international annual event, said, "Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don't address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day."

As Lasn suggests, Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It's about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus is on the most affluent — the upper 20 percent that consumes 80 percent of the world's resources — to begin setting the example.

Buy Nothing Day facts:

The first BND was organized in Vancouver in September 1992, an idea by artist Ted Dave, as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.
In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, which is the busiest shopping pre-Christmas weekend in the US. Outside of North America, BND is usually celebrated on the following Saturday.
Despite controversies, Adbusters managed to advertise BND on CNN, but many other major TV networks declined to air their ads.
Soon, campaigns started appearing in US, UK, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Participation now spans over 65 nations.

Shopping and consumption facts:

Per capita consumption in the US has risen 45 percent in the last 20 years.
Although people today are, on average, four-and-a-half times richer than our great-grandparents were at the turn of the century, Americans report feeling "significantly less well off" than in 1958.
A recent article in New Scientist featured research suggesting that the more consumer goods you have the more you think you need to make you happy. Happiness through consumption is always out of reach (New Scientist, 4th October 2003, Vol. 180, Issue 2415, p44. Available online after registering at www.newscientist.co.uk).

SOURCE: Straight Goods

Tapes Provide First Glimpse of Secret Gitmo Panels

Snip: "They relied instead on secret evidence that was classified," Denbeaux says. "And the government's procedure was, anything in that secret evidence was presumed to be valuable and valid. And then the detainee was given the opportunity to rebut the secret evidence. But he was never told what the secret evidence was."

Tapes Provide First Glimpse of Secret Gitmo Panels
by Jackie Northam


Audio recordings obtained by NPR provide the outside world with its first window into the secret world of military tribunals at the U.S. prison camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The recordings, made by the U.S. military, are of tribunals held in the fall of 2004 to review the "enemy combatant" status of six detainees who were arrested in Bosnia in late 2001. Lawyers for the men obtained the tapes under the Freedom of Information Act and provided NPR with copies of the recordings.

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals are held in small, low-ceiling trailers at Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon describes the proceedings as an administrative process, so the detainees are not allowed lawyers. There's a court reporter, a translator and a panel of three military officers to whom detainees tell their story, ask why they are being held, and appeal for release.

The audio recordings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals are scratchy, of poor quality and don't pick up much of what's happening in the small room: You can't sense facial expressions or body language, or that the detainee's arms and legs are shackled.

However, you can hear the tribunal president inquire after the health and comfort of Mustafa Ait Idir, one of several men whose tribunal tapes were reviewed for this story.

"Are those on too tight?" the panel president asks, referring to the shackles on Ait Idir's hands and feet.

"He says, 'I've had them on for a very long time,'" a translator responds for the detainee.

No Set Pattern for Proceedings

Testimony at the tribunals doesn't appear to follow any set pattern. Some start with questioning from the military officers. At others, the detainee will launch into a speech about how they were arrested and sent to Guantanamo, and how they're being treated at the detention camp. Ait Idir speaks through a translator for almost an hour before the tribunal president interrupts him to inquire further about an incident of alleged abuse.

"Are you saying a soldier in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, broke your fingers?" the tribunal president asks.

"Soldiers took me and they placed me on the ground in the rocks outside. They bound my hands and my feet," Ait Idir responds through a translator. He goes on to describe brutal treatment allegedly at the hands of U.S. soldiers.

Ait Idir is one of six Algerians who lived in Bosnia for about a decade before being arrested shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on suspicion of plotting to bomb the American and British embassies in Sarajevo.

The men were held for three months, until Bosnia's Supreme Court acquitted all of them. Ait Idir and the others tell the tribunal that when they walked out of the police station as free men, they were quickly arrested again by Bosnian and U.S. officials, put on a plane and sent to Guantanamo.

Learning of the Accusations Against Them

Hadj Boudella, one of the other detainees, tells the military panel at his tribunal that this is the first time he's heard some of the accusations against him.

"I've been here for three years, and these accusations were just told to me," Boudella says. "Nobody or any interrogator ever mentioned any of these accusations you are talking to me about now."

What's striking is that, despite not knowing fully why they're being held, enduring open-ended detentions and sometimes harsh interrogations, the detainees on these audio tapes express faith that truth will prevail. Boudella tells the panel that his lawyers -- at the Boston firm Wilmerhale -- sent him a letter telling him not to participate in the tribunal for fear of incriminating himself.

"I want to show you that I am really innocent, and I want you to see I can defend myself," Boudella says on the recording. "If you're innocent, no matter how people try to cover your innocence, it will come out."

Unclassified Evidence Is Slim

The detainees question the panel about the evidence against them and ask for proof, rather than just allegations. The audio recordings and transcripts show that the unclassified evidence is slim; for example, just a rundown of allegations, petitions for habeus corpus, which challenges the prisoners' detention, and affidavits attached to those petitions; one has a letter from Ait Idir's wife. At one point, Ait Idir expresses disbelief over the lack of proof and tells the panel he hoped it had more evidence it could give him.

"If I was in your place, but if a supervisor came to me and showed me accusations like these, I would take these accusations and I would hit him in the face with them," he tells the panel, apologizing for being so blunt.


Ait Idir, Boudella and the others on the recordings all ask that they be allowed to provide the tribunal with additional evidence, such as a copy of the decision by Bosnia's Supreme Court, showing their acquittal.

One detainee asked that his supervisor at the Red Crescent Society in Bosnia testify at the proceeding. He is told that a request was made twice to the U.S. State Department, which handles the matter; each time, the date of the tribunal was emphasized. The tribunal president says there was no response from the State Department to either request.

In some cases, the detainees' representatives don't know what efforts have or are being made to locate requested evidence. The only witnesses available to Ait Idir and Boudella are the other men they were arrested with. Boudella asks one witness the most pertinent question: "Do you know if I belong to any terrorist organization or if I am a terrorist?"

In a simple, almost naïve answer, the witness tells the tribunal that Boudella is not a terrorist. "All I know about this person is that he is a very nice and very good person. He takes good care of his family," the other detainee says.

Critics Call Process Deeply Flawed

The military panel asks the detainees many questions during each tribunal: Where they grew up, where they worked, if they'd ever been to Afghanistan, if they belonged to any terrorist organizations. Then, the panel wraps up the unclassified session of the tribunal.

"Mustafa, you shall be notified of the tribunal decision upon completion of the review of these proceedings by the convening authority in Washington, D.C.," the tribunal president tells Ait Idir.

That was two years ago. Ait Idir and Boudella were both found to be enemy combatants and remain at Guantanamo Bay. In January, they will have spent five years in the prison camp. They have yet to be charged with any crimes.

Critics have always said that the Guantanamo tribunals are deeply flawed. Among other things, they point to the fact that detainees are only allowed to sit in for the unclassified session of the tribunal. They are banned from seeing or hearing the classified information against them.

Lawyers at Seton Hall University recently evaluated the records and transcripts for nearly 400 similar military hearings at Guantanamo. In most cases, they found, the government did not produce any witnesses at the tribunals, and detainees were only allowed to use other detainees at witnesses.

"Ninety-six percent of the time, [the government] produced no evidence of any sort," Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux told NPR's Robert Siegel. Denbeaux represents two detainees and co-authored the report.

"They relied instead on secret evidence that was classified," Denbeaux says. "And the government's procedure was, anything in that secret evidence was presumed to be valuable and valid. And then the detainee was given the opportunity to rebut the secret evidence. But he was never told what the secret evidence was."

The Pentagon dismisses such criticisms, arguing that the tribunals are fair, and that the detainees are allowed to state their case, and produce witnesses and evidence of their own.

SOURCE: NPR

Also see:

Guantanamo prisoner alleges botched medical procedures

U.S. judge denies Guantanamo prisoner request

Micromanaging Shock & Awe to create "Deep Psychological Injury"

Gitmo Captives Say Medics Approved, Participated in Abuses

This Blog's Items on the Gitmo Gulag

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Role of Religion in Promoting War and Conflict

Monday, November 20, 2006

Judge won't halt AT&T wiretapping lawsuit..

By Declan McCullagh, CNET News.com

SAN FRANCISCO--A federal district judge on Friday rejected the Bush administration's request to halt a lawsuit that alleges AT&T unlawfully cooperated with a broad and unconstitutional government surveillance program.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the lawsuit could continue while a portion of it was being appealed, despite the U.S. Justice Department's arguments that further hearings and other proceedings would consequently endanger national security.

"I do think these are matters we can proceed on," Walker said toward the end of the status conference here, which began at 11 a.m. PST and was attended by around 50 attorneys from the government, nonprofit groups, class action law firms and major telecommunications companies.

Friday's ruling represents another preliminary victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed its lawsuit against AT&T in January. In its suit, the EFF charged that AT&T has opened its telecommunications facilities up to the National Security Agency and continues to "to assist the government in its secret surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans."

The ruling is also a win for attorneys in 47 other cases against numerous large telecommunications providers. The cases are in the process of being consolidated into one mammoth lawsuit in the northern district of California.

Last week, the Justice Department filed a 27-page request (click for PDF) saying at the least, the court should halt the AT&T case because any proceeding would "indirectly confirm or deny classified facts and cause harm to the national security."

In July, Walker rejected the Justice Department's attempt to have the suit against AT&T dismissed. That prompted federal prosecutors to appeal to the 9th Circuit a few days later. Along with AT&T, Verizon Communications, BellSouth and Comcast, they urged Walker to delay the case in front of him until the appeals courts reached a decision, which could take years, if it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The "entire process is fraught with risk," a Justice Department attorney said Friday. Bruce Ericson, an attorney for AT&T at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said that more proceedings would be useless because all his client could put in "a public answer" would be "a general denial."

After EFF's lawsuit was filed, reports of a secret room in an AT&T building in San Francisco surfaced and have become central to the nonprofit group's litigation.

A former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, has released documents alleging the company spliced its fiber optic cables and ran a duplicate set of cables to Room 641A at its 611 Folsom St. building. Improperly-redacted documents seen by CNET News.com show that AT&T has tried to offer benign reasons for the existence of such a room. (AT&T has publicly neither confirmed nor denied cooperating with the National Security Agency.)

A second wave of suits

Another twist at Friday's status conference was what might happen if a second wave of lawsuits is added to the ones already before Judge Walker.

A handful of state utility commissioners, including Vermont and Missouri, have tried to investigate whether the telecommunications companies they regulate have illegally cooperated with the NSA.

In September, for instance, Vermont's Public Service Board said Verizon could be ordered to disclose whether it has "provided local calling records to the NSA, whether Verizon provided information to the NSA before February 2006 and the conditions under which Verizon provides others with access to its customer records." (Click for PDF)

The Bush administration has taken legal action to halt those proceedings, once again invoking its "state secrets" authority and claiming that information harmful to national security could be disclosed.

That second wave of cases "raises the same issues," a Justice Department lawyer said Friday, arguing it provided an additional reason for delay so the court wouldn't have to hear the same issues twice.

But Walker let the cases proceed, setting a December 21 date to hear additional arguments, including one from media organizations for more openness, and a second one on January 11 to return to the question of whether to postpone proceedings during the appeal.

SOURCE: ZDNET

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Signs of Warming Continue in the Arctic

November 17, 2006 — By Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Signs of warming continue in the Arctic with a decline in sea ice, an increase in shrubs growing on the tundra and rising concerns about the Greenland ice sheet.

"There have been regional warming periods before. Now we're seeing Arctic-wide changes," James Overland, an oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said Thursday.

For the past five years, it was at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above average over the Arctic over the entire year, he said.

The new "State of the Arctic" analysis, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also reports an increase in northward movement of warmer water through the Bering Strait in 2001-2004. This may have contributed to a continuing reduction of sea ice.

During that time, there were record lows in sea ice coverage in the region, Overland said. This year there was more normal coverage in the Bering area but a record low on the Atlantic side of the Arctic.

In the past when such a shift occurred, there would have been no net loss of ice overall, just a change in where there was a smaller amount. Now, however, there is both the shift and an overall net loss of ice, he said.

Indeed, the report said Arctic sea ice coverage this past March was the lowest in winter since measurements by satellite began in the early 1970s.

Jacqueline A. Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said the sea ice decline is now being observed in both winter and summer.

The study was designed to assess the overall impact of climate change in the Arctic and will be updated annually. It was compiled by researchers from the United States, Canada France, Germany, Poland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, she said.

In addition, 2007 has been designated the International Year of the Arctic, with intense scientific study of the region planned.

There have been many changes over the Arctic land areas, too, said Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor at the geophysical institute of the University of Alaska. These include changes in vegetation, river discharge into the Arctic Ocean, glaciers and permafrost.

The tundra is becoming greener with the growth of more shrubs, he said. This development is causing problems in some areas as herds of reindeer migrate.

At the same time, there is some decrease in the greening of the northern forest areas, probably due to drought. The glaciers are continuing to shrink and river discharge into the Arctic Ocean is rising, Romanovsky said.

There has been a significant warming of the permafrost over the past 30 years, he added.

Much of the damage to the permafrost soil can be blamed on human construction activities and fires, he said. In many areas, this frozen ground is close to the melting point and soon could begin to thaw.

Overland said the changes are affecting wildlife in the Arctic. Those in the middle levels of the ocean, such as pollock, seem to do well; those on the surface ice or the sea floor, such as walrus or crabs, are not coping as well.

"We're seeing a lot of indicators of climate change in the Arctic and that may be an indicator for change in other parts of the world," Overland said.

Most of the heating from the sun comes to the equator and subequatorial regions, and a lot of heat leaves by radiation from Arctic, he said.

"The temperature difference between the Arctic and equator drives all of our weather," Overland said. If the Arctic warms up and that difference is reduced, weather could change, though people remain unsure about the effect.

SOURCE: Environmental News Network

This Is Why The Iraqis Hate Us

Another beating snuff video shames coalition of the killing, You Tube censors it

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Friday, November 17, 2006

British troops punch, beat and kick pleading Iraqi children as a sadistic comrade films the brutal scenes of torture, laughing, screaming, growling and frothing like a serial killer filming a snuff movie. This is why the Iraqis hate us.

Iraqi children throw rocks as they flee from running British troops, are grabbed, brought inside a gate and beaten half to death. Watch the video below. The censorship spies at You Tube rejected it 2 minutes after upload so I re-named it "Fluffy Happy Poodles In Heaven," to try and bypass their keyword filters and it was still rejected. I even renamed the actual 'wmv' filename but it was still blocked for "terms of use violation." I finally managed to get it posted on Google Video. If it disappears again, here's the Windows Media link on our server.

"Oh yes! Oh Yes! You're gonna get it!" snarls the cameraman.

"Yes! Naughty little boys."

He laughs as they boys begin to scream out in pain, "Yes!"

He then takes on the tone of a demented serial killer, grunting and growling, "Yeeeeeesss, yeeeeeessss," as troops punch and kick the children.

He mocks the cries of the boys, "No please don't hurt me," laughs again and then proceeds to begin frothing in some kind of insane carnal bloodlust, "Motherfuckers, you little fuckers - die!"

Adult Iraqis are brought in and similarly assaulted - the video ends.

A probe of this video led to the arrest of the cameraman, Cpl Martin Webster, but after that the investgation seemingly went nowhere and was swept under the rug.

Originally leaked in February this year, this is just the latest in a long line of "trophy videos" that expose the true face of what the troops have been trained and ordered to do in Iraq, dominate, brutalize and enslave the population - and it's why nearly 3,000 have come home in flag-draped coffins.

This is why the Iraqis hate us.

- A CNN clip from the early days of the "liberation" shows U.S. troops finishing off an injured Iraqi. The tape cuts to an interview with one of the soldiers who states, "Like, man, you guys are dead now, you know. But it was a good feeling. I mean, afterwards you're like, hell, yeah, that was awesome. Let's do it again."

- In another clip the soldier exclaims, "Hell yeah bitches," as he audibly orgasms as the scene of carnage before him - a missile slamming into a nearby building. "I got all that shit on camera."

- U.S. troops in a convoy drive vehicles down an Iraqi highway and bemoan the fact that they are not allowed to gun down children who throw rocks at them.

- Bloodthirsty security guards and contractors hang out the back of trucks and randomly execute Iraqis driving in vehicles behind them.

- An Iraqi taxi driver who stole some firewood gets his vehicle crushed by an Abrams tank as U.S. troops cheer and holler.

These are just some of the videos that have been leaked onto the Internet. Now we know that the policy to abuse and torture innocent Iraqis just to show them who the bosses were was implicit, how many more of these kind of incidents have happened over the past three and a half years but not been videotaped by salivating zombies?

This is why the Iraqis hate us.

No one is suggesting that U.S. troops should roll over like a poodle if someone is shooting at them - they have every right to shoot back no matter what your view on the war is. The rubicon is crossed when petty thieves, children who throw rocks or completely innocent people are brutalized without recourse and the one thing that betrays the true nature of it all is the sadistic reaction of the protagonists who enjoy the torture, the beatings and the death.

Most of these individuals were brought up on a steady diet of first person shoot-em-ups, and they have overlaid the mental perception that the video games taught them on how to treat death. Distanced and emotionless, the troops see random slaughter and torture as a stress reliever, a means of letting off some steam - and it's all sanctioned from the very top.

This is why the Iraqis hate us.

The assumption that Iraq is now liberated and that its people have suffered for the glorious opportunity of seeing democracy and freedom flourish throughout their country is the last thread the Neo-Cons are hanging onto as claims of weapons of mass destruction and Al-Qaeda ties evaporated long ago. Yet to claim Iraq is liberated is the most absurd of any of the justifications for going to war or "staying the course."

Every cornerstone of what one would consider to be basic rights in a free society, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to fair judicial process, right to be secure from unlawful searches and seizures in one's home, have been abolished in Iraq. The occupation makes the regime of Saddam Hussein look like post-revolution America.

This is why the Iraqis hate us.

I guess the Iraqi children should feel lucky in that they got their retaliation in first by throwing rocks, many are simply arrested, hooded and taken to the torture camp for refusing to show ID at checkpoints. It's good to see that the authorities are not hypocrites and that the same kind of law enforcement techniques are practiced here at home, as Mostafa Tabatabainejad can attest to, the student was tortured for refusing to show his ID to UCLA police in a campus library.

The fun will continue when the same kind of barbarous fiends who get orgasmic pleasure from watching children being tortured come back home and become our police.


SOURCE: Prison Planet

The New Media Offensive Against Withdrawal

by Norman Solomon

The American media establishment has launched a major offensive against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA – the front page of the New York Times.

The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S. troops.

Under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say," the Nov. 15 front page of the New York Times prominently featured a "Military Analysis" by Michael Gordon. The piece reported that – while some congressional Democrats are saying withdrawal of U.S. troops "should begin within four to six months" – "this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts, and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policies."

Reporter Gordon appeared hours later on Anderson Cooper's CNN show, fully morphing into an unabashed pundit as he declared that withdrawal is "simply not realistic." Sounding much like a Pentagon spokesman, Gordon went on to state in no uncertain terms that he opposes a pullout.

If a New York Times military-affairs reporter went on television to advocate for withdrawal of U.S. troops as unequivocally as Gordon advocated against any such withdrawal during his Nov. 15 appearance on CNN, he or she would be quickly reprimanded – and probably would be taken off the beat – by the Times hierarchy. But the paper's news department eagerly fosters reporting that internalizes and promotes the basic worldviews of the country's national security state.

That's how and why the Times front page was so hospitable to the work of Judith Miller during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. That's how and why the Times is now so hospitable to the work of Michael Gordon.

At this point, categories like "vehement critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policies" are virtually meaningless. The bulk of the media's favorite "vehement critics" are opposed to reduction of U.S. involvement in the Iraq carnage, and some of them are now openly urging an increase in U.S. troop levels for the occupation.

These days, media coverage of U.S. policy in Iraq often seems to be little more than a remake of how mainstream news outlets portrayed Washington's options during the war in Vietnam. Routine deference to inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom has turned many prominent journalists into co-producers of a Groundhog Day sequel that insists the U.S. war effort must go on.

During the years since the fall of Saddam, countless news stories and commentaries have compared the ongoing disaster in Iraq to the Vietnam War. But those comparisons have rarely illuminated the most troubling parallels between the U.S. media coverage of both wars.

Whether in 1968 or 2006, most of the Washington press corps has been at pains to portray withdrawal of U.S. troops as impractical and unrealistic.

Contrary to myths about media coverage of the Vietnam War, the American press lagged way behind grassroots antiwar sentiment in seriously contemplating a U.S. pullout from Vietnam. The lag time amounted to several years – and meant the additional deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and perhaps 1 million more Vietnamese people.

A survey by the Boston Globe, conducted in February 1968, found that out of 39 major daily newspapers in the United States, not one had editorialized for withdrawing American troops from Vietnam. Today – despite the antiwar tilt of national opinion polls and the recent election – advocacy of a U.S. pullout from Iraq seems almost as scarce among modern-day media elites.

The standard media evasions amount to kicking the bloody can down the road. Careful statements about benchmarks and getting tough with the Baghdad government (as with the Saigon government) are markers for a national media discourse that dodges instead of enlivens debate.

Many journalists are retreading the notion that the pullout option is not a real option at all. And the Democrats who'll soon be running Congress, we're told, wouldn't – and shouldn't – dare to go that far if they know what's good for them.

Implicit in such media coverage is the idea that the real legitimacy for U.S. war policymaking rests with the president, not the Congress. When I ponder that assumption, I think about 42-year-old footage of the CBS program Face the Nation.

The show's host on that 1964 telecast was the widely esteemed journalist Peter Lisagor, who told his guest: "Senator, the Constitution gives to the president of the United States the sole responsibility for the conduct of foreign policy."

"Couldn't be more wrong," Sen. Wayne Morse broke in with his sandpapery voice. "You couldn't make a more unsound legal statement than the one you have just made. This is the promulgation of an old fallacy that foreign policy belongs to the president of the United States. That's nonsense."

Lisagor was almost taunting as he asked, "To whom does it belong then, Senator?"

Morse did not miss a beat. "It belongs to the American people," he shot back – and "I am pleading that the American people be given the facts about foreign policy."

The journalist persisted: "You know, Senator, that the American people cannot formulate and execute foreign policy."

Morse's response was indignant: "Why do you say that? … I have complete faith in the ability of the American people to follow the facts if you'll give them. And my charge against my government is, we're not giving the American people the facts."

Morse, the senior senator from Oregon, was passionate about the U.S. Constitution as well as international law. And, while rejecting the widely held notion that foreign policy belongs to the president, he spoke in unflinching terms about the Vietnam War. At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Feb. 27, 1968, Morse said that he did not "intend to put the blood of this war on my hands."

And, prophetically, Morse added: "We're going to become guilty, in my judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world. It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it."

SOURCE: ANTIWAR.COM

Milton Friedman: Killing America Softly with his Song

by Sam Smith

You'd never guess it from the sycophantic obituaries, but Milton Friedman did more damage to American democracy and culture than just about any figure in the 20th century.

The sycophancy isn't surprising. Friedman was blessed with it from the start. For example, the supposedly liberal PBS starred him in a ten part series, "Free to Choose" in 1980 just in time to help Reagan win the presidency. To this day, even NPR babbles about the "free market" when you all you have to do is count the number of lobbyists in Washington to understand that such an economy doesn't exist.

Further, one of the best kept secrets of economics is that there are lots of systems that work provided, that is, you don't care who they work for. Feudalism, for example, was great if you were a lord, not so efficient a marketplace is you were merely a serf. And each system works differently depending on the culture in which it operates, which is why communism in the Soviet Union, China and Italy meant such different things. In the end, the real test of an economy is not its math but its social, financial and moral effect on its culture and those who live there.

This is why the commentaries on Friedman were so consistently wrong. They treated economics as though it was a cold science when, in a mind as distorted as Friedman's, it was really just a sort of creationism myth applied to money.

If you read far enough down the stories, you would find, grudgingly, a single quote from a critic. The Washington Post cited Galbraith biographer Richard Parker who said that Friendman's "passionate calls for financial and securities market deregulation played no small role in ushering in the half-trillion dollar S&L fiasco of the 1980s and the deeply corrupt Wall Street stock market boom of the 1990s. His tax-reduction-at-all-costs policies helped lead to the nation's yawning budget deficits." And the Wall Street Journal admitted deep in its account, "Critics said he inspired policies that put millions of people out of work in pursuit of low inflation and demonized almost everything the government did, no matter how beneficial or democratically chosen. 'Milton Friedman didn't make a distinction between the big government of the People's Republic of China and the big government of the United States, said James Galbraith, professor of government at the University of Texas."

But for the most part both public figures and the media bought Friedman's mythology, never stopping to look critically at the effect it had on America. Here are a just few things that have happened since America's elite swallowed the Friedman myth:

- Real income down
- Real manufacturing wages down
- Top one percent's share of wealth up
- Income gap between rich and poor up
- Family indebtedness up
- Bottom forty percent's share of wealth down
- CEO pay as a percent of average workers' pay up
- Workers covered by pensions down
- Workers covered by health plans down
- Age at which one can receive Social Security down
- Personal bankruptcies up
- Housing foreclosures up
- Median rent up

But the worst damage of Friedman economics is not fiscal but what it has done to the social and moral principles that made America what it was before the greedsters of neo-capitalism began taking it apart. The underlying principle of laissez faire economics is that power is intrinsically good and decency intrinsically irrelevant.

No society can long function on such a lie. It is essentially that of the Mafia with the exception being that you don't have to always ignore the law to get what you want; often, with the help of your lobbyists and purchased politicians, you can just change it to fit your needs.

The moral vacuum was clear from the start. Ronald Reagan said things like "We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet." And: "Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."

As for Margaret Thatcher, whose platform of public selfishness was used as a model for the Reagan campaign, she thought there wasn't even anything one could call a community: "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families." Thatcher wrapped herself in economic slogans that justified greed not only to accomplish economic ends but also to deal with gays and abortions and everything else she didn't like. In her paradigm, the free market and Victorian tyranny formed a civil union. By the time Reagan, Bush, and Clinton were through with the concept, they had created a gaping corporate exemption from common morality and decency. The market not only offered adequate justification for any act, it had replaced God as the highest source of law.

We have paid a terrible price for this corruption of our culture by the new robber barons egged on by Friedman and his ilk. We so accept their foul standards that we don't even discuss or debate them. We have become prisoners of their lie.

SOURCE: Progressive Review

Friday, November 17, 2006

President Authorized Abu Ghraib Torture, FBI Email Says

Among a new batch of documents rights groups have forced the gov't to release, a Bureau communication refers to a presidential Executive Order endorsing some forms of torture witnessed at Iraq prison.

President Authorized Abu Ghraib Torture, FBI Email Says
by NewStandard Staff


Dec. 21, 2004 – Repeated references in an internal FBI email suggest that the president issued a special order to permit some of the more objectionable torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib and other US-run prison facilities around Iraq. The email was among a new batch of FBI documents revealed by civil rights advocates on Monday. Other documents describe the initiation of investigations into alleged incidents of torture and rape at detention facilities in Iraq.

The email, which was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, represents the first hard evidence directly connecting the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and the White House. The author of the email, whose name is blanked out but whose title is described as "On Scene Commander -- Baghdad," contains ten explicit mentions of an "Executive Order" that the author said mandated US military personnel to engage in extraordinary interrogation tactics.

An Executive Order is a presidential edict -- sometimes public, sometimes secretive -- instituting special laws or instructions that override or complement existing legislation. The White House has officially neither admitted nor denied that the president has issued an Executive Order pertaining to interrogation techniques.

The specific methods mentioned in the email as having been approved by the unnamed Executive Order and witnessed by FBI agents include sleep deprivation, placing hoods over prisoners’ heads, the use of loud music for sensory overload, stripping detainees naked, forcing captives to stand in so-called "stress positions," and the employment of work dogs. One of the more horrifying tools of intimidation, Army canines were used at the prison to terrorize inmates, as depicted in photos taken inside Abu Ghraib.

The correspondence is dated May 22, 2004 -- a couple of weeks after images of torture and humiliation at the prison broke in the world media -- and was sent between FBI officials attempting to clarify the Bureau’s position on the terminology to use when categorizing and reporting such techniques. The author repeatedly states those techniques were, at least temporarily, permitted under the mysterious presidential directive. The author also wrote that Pentagon policy had since restricted most of the techniques to require specific authorization from the chain of command.

"As stated, there was a revision last week in the military’s standard operating procedures based on the Executive Order," the letter reads. "I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by the Executive Order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is granted." The author goes on to recount having seen a military email that said certain techniques -- including "stress positions," the use of dogs, "sleep management," hoods, "stripping (except for health inspection)," and blaring music -- cannot be used without special authorization.

The author wonders if techniques that fall within the scope of the Executive Order should be referred to as "abuse," since they are technically legal. Unless otherwise advised by the Bureau, the email continues, agents "will still not report the use of these techniques as ‘abuse’ since we will not be in a position to know whether or not the authorization for these tactics was received from the aforementioned officials."

The author does believe that interrogation methods that involve "physical beatings, sexual humiliation or touching" clearly constitute "abuse," suggesting they are not within the scope of the repeatedly referenced Executive Order.

The email says that FBI personnel operating at Abu Ghraib witnessed but did not participate in prisoner interrogations that involved actions approved by the Executive Order. That statement upholds separate documentation also obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests backed by a lawsuit on the part of the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

As reported by The NewStandard, documents revealed in October showed that FBI agents had witnessed abuses like those mentioned in the email, in addition to many more severe actions.

The email that was revealed on Monday is the first official document to state that the Oval Office was the source of directives permitting abuse and torture.

After the ACLU released the documents, White House, Pentagon and FBI officials told reporters that the author of the email was mistaken, and that the order was not an Executive Order, but a Defense Department directive. All sources refused to be identified in news reports.

The White House does not appear to have ever officially denied that President Bush issued an Executive Order specifying interrogation techniques, though none has been made public. The ACLU and other organizations involved in forcing the release of documents regarding prisoner treatment at Abu Ghraib as well as prison camps in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba have demanded the White House "confirm or deny the existence of such an order," according to an ACLU press release issued on Monday.

Last June the president insisted that the only authorization he has issued with regard to interrogation procedures was that American personnel "would conform to US law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations."

But as the unidentified FBI official noted in his email, techniques are made legal under US law if and when the president issues an Executive Order rendering them so.

Asked more directly less than two weeks later if President Bush had ever approved particular prisoner handling methods, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan responded, "In terms of interrogation techniques related to what the military may carry out in Guantánamo Bay or Iraq, those are determinations that are made by the military, and we expect that those techniques fit within the policies that this President has instituted."

The president and his legal advisors have repeatedly said that the US government neither condones nor commits torture. The Bush administration’s conservative definition of torture, as expressed at a June 22 press briefing by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, incorporates only acts bearing "a specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental harm or suffering."

If White House statements are to be taken at face value, then, they still leave considerable room for the possibility that President Bush has authorized specific acts that civil libertarians and international law consider torturous, including the methods listed in the FBI email.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture, which the United States Congress has ratified, defines "torture" far more broadly as including "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession."

Also included among the newly released documents were notices regarding the initiation of criminal investigations pertaining to abuse of Iraqi detainees.

One of the documents is a memo stating that the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division had commenced an inquiry "regarding the alleged rape of [a] juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison." The name of the investigating officer or unit has been blanked out, and no identifying information is offered pertaining to the case.

Another document notifies Valene Caproni of the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel, that two FBI agents who were stationed in Iraq were to be interviewed by Army investigators looking into the alleged torture of an Iraqi detainee. Gary Bald of the Bureau’s Counterterrorism Division wrote the email message, in which he notes suspicious military paperwork on a detainee whose name is redacted. He also writes that the two FBI special agents were with the military police unit that held the Iraqi and signed receipts claiming to have seen him before he was transferred to Abu Ghraib for further interrogation.

While the email states that the prisoner does not mention the FBI in his complaint, he described his treatment in troubling detail. "They tortured me and cuffed me in an act called the scorpion and pouring cold water on me," the email quotes the detainee’s complaint as saying. "They tortured me from morning until the morning of the next day, and when I fell down from the severe torture I fell on the barbed wires, and then they dragged me from my feet and I was wounded and, and they punched me on my stomach."

SOURCE: The New Standard

Also see:

Micromanaging Shock & Awe to create "Deep Psychological Injury"

Gitmo Captives Say Medics Approved, Participated in Abuses

Hey Counterpunch: Where Did You Get Those Pictures?

by Paul V. Sheridan

Mr. Cockburn:

Thank you for your article of 9/10/2006, "How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook - The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts." It has and will serve many purposes well. I was especially enamoured by your opening sentence; the one that associates the name Bush with the word "mastermind."

However, I would like to solicit your assistance, and perhaps the assistance of your brother Andrew, with a minor issue (please see specific request below). This assistance involves your sentence :

"As regards the hole, my brother Andrew -- writing a book about Rumsfeld and the DoD during his tenure -- has seen photos taken within 30 minutes of Pentagon impact clearly showing outline of entire plane including wings. This was visible momentarily when the smoke blew away . . . "

Wow! That is clearly a piece of evidence that would demolish the entire "conspiracy nuts" issue revolving to-this-day about 9/11 and the Pentagon. Some preliminary questions:

Will these photos be available anytime soon?

Who is in possession of these photos ("taken within 30 minutes")?

Who TOOK the photos ("taken within 30 minutes")?

Given that only one, maybe two, video cameras were in-operation at the Pentagon that day (vis-i-vis the Judicial Watch FOIA "results"), what type of photographic technology was used for the photos your brother Andrew has seen ("taken within 30 minutes")? Were these video capture, standalone digital/SLR? Etc.?

Why weren't these photos ("taken within 30 minutes") made available to the good honest folks at The 9/11 Commission?

Why weren't these photos ("taken within 30 minutes") made available to The 9/11 Commission for inclusion in their "List of Illustrations and Tables" on page IX of their report?

Why weren't these photos ("taken within 30 minutes") made available to the good honest folks at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for discussion and inclusion in their 'The Pentagon Building Performance Report'?

Why have these photos ("taken within 30 minutes") never been released to the public, other than perhaps your brother Andrew?

Will these photos ("taken within 30 minutes") be included in the book that your brother Andrew is writing "about Rumsfeld and the DoD during his tenure"?

My SPECIFIC REQUEST involves a letter I wrote to Mr. Rumsfeld that has gone unanswered for over a year. It can be found here:

One

Two

Three

Please note the "Specific Request" that I make atop page 3 of that letter.

At this point I would ask your assistance, in both the context of your excellent article about "9/11 conspiracy nuts" and in the context of your brother Andrew's upcoming book, that we-together both work to get an official response to my "Specific Request" to Mr. Rumsfeld of 22 July 2005.


Please respond.

Paul V. Sheridan


P.S. If your brother Andrew would like to include a copy of my 22 July 2005 letter to Mr. Rumsfeld in his book, please telephone me to discuss (313-277-5095).

SOURCE: Rick Siegel

Blogger Note: The Counterpunch article in question is
here.

Calling Rick Siegel

Recently, I made contact with one Rick Siegel over this video, which was, for a time, being denied to me by Google. Rick hosted it himself and then reported a hack at his site. He managed to post one more item and now, for days, nothing. All emails from his account are bouncing and I even tried getting an automated account at his site to send him a message through his own page and even it gave me an error. I tried again and it said, "You are not authorized to carry out this operation." However, the previous page says, "All registered users can post private messages."

Here is the message I sent, the one that it appears he may never get:

All messages I send to you, from various accounts, are bouncing so I got this account to reach you. Programs have been implemented before to keep certain individuals from contacting each other and I have personally witnessed accounts taken over by someone other than the original owner and I wonder sometimes if online contacts of mine haven't simply been disappeared into some Gitmo gulag.

Please respond very soon so that I know none of this applies to you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Father of the A-bomb Speaks

Hell Is Rising in Oaxaca

An Interview with an Oaxacan Rebel
by Ron Jacobs

When I lived in Washington state, some of my closest friends were from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. I have kept in touch with a few of them, and they have kept me in touch with the rebellion unfolding in the streets of Oaxaca over the past few months. After the escalation of the situation there on October 27, 2006, when paramilitary forces shot and killed four people (including Indymedia journalist Brad Will), I spoke with my friends David Abeles and Hilaria Cruz who helped me contact some of their people in Oaxaca city. Given the circumstances currently existing in the area and the uncertainty of the immediate future because of the military and police presence there, I felt that the best way to get firsthand information out to the wider world would be to conduct an email interview. The first interview is below. I hope to have another one ready in the next couple days.

Ron: Hey Tomas. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Would you be willing to introduce yourself?

Tomas: Hi, I would like to salute all the readers of this electronic journal. My name is Tomas Cruz, I am a native from a community in Oaxaca in the highlands. I was forced by the economic situation to migrate to the States. Fortunately I gained an education at the Evergreen State College. I also went to the University of Texas at Austin for a graduate degree in Latin American studies.

Ron: So, you've been in Oaxaca during the entire uprising? Can you tell us the sequence of events as you see them up to now?

Tomas: I have been involved in diverse NGOs working for the communities in Oaxaca up until the time of the Oaxacan uprising.

What we are seeing in Oaxaca is a breakdown of political system that is completely corrupt and deliberately abuses its citizens at will, using the legitimacy of the state to impose a government that only uses power to advance a personal agenda and that of a very small political oligarchy. Since the start of the present government, it was characterized by repression of political leaders, immediately killing them and imposing its repressive mode of government.

The result of the events which are occurring as we speak began with an annual demonstration by the teachers' syndicate. In the 14th of June, the state police attacked the teachers who were at the zocalo for the demonstration.

The response from the citizenry was immediate -- hundreds of people joined the teachers strike and saw an opportunity to stop the continued abuses from the government.

I can only describe what is occurring as catharsis of the population, especially of the immense poor population of the city.

After the attack by the state and the immense response from the population, the most remarkable event in the politics of the movement has been the formation of a popular assembly of the pueblos of Oaxaca, also known as APPO.

The APPO organizations have been capable of resisting all the attacks from the state government, from spots attacking the protesters as a bunch of radicals to the death squads sent to kill people who were protesting at night.

The response of the APPO was to develop barricades to stop the death squads. This resulted in a historic, animated political culture, with also a strong popular support.

Recently, the violence escalated when the international reporter died at the hands of the mercenaries paid by the governor.

Yesterday, there was an intervention by the federal police after the multiple deaths and probably also after the international pressure following the death of the international reporter. The federal police killed at least 4 people and raped one woman during the intervention. The response of the APPO is to maintain the protest until the governor resigns and the political system is reformed.

Ron: What groups were involved that you know of? Also, I imagine that many people were unaffiliated. What were their reasons for joining, in your estimate?

Tomas: This movement is composed of the poorest section of the population. Old housewives who think of this as a parallel to the revolution of 1910 and are ready to resist for years, beggars who are tired of the abuses by the police or simply sympathize with the movement because they see no hope and future in their lives. Mechanics, civil servants, citizens from the neighboring neighborhoods who have had their municipal presidents imposed on them. Citizens from the poorest sections of the city.

Ron: From my understanding, PRI and its allies were responsible for the shootings that killed several people on October 27th. Is PRI the only party responsible for the situation in Oaxaca or are other political parties also responsible?

Tomas: No, the PRI is seeing its last days, and it has resorted to the only thing that it knows, violence.

Ron: You're in Oaxaca right now. What the hell is going on?

Tomas: Hell is rising in Oaxaca, the force of the government against teachers, students, housewives, mechanics, peasants. The whole city and the whole state is filled with federal police, local police, military.

Ron: How are the spirits of those in the rebellion? Where do they get their food and water?

Tomas: There is ample popular support for this uprising which results in a steady flow of donations from communities and lay citizens who donate at different points. Mainly this has been coordinated by using radio stations. At this point, there is one station left, which is being broadcast through the internet at www.indymedia.org -- you (those of you who can speak Spanish) can listen to what is going on as we speak.

The radio broadcasters who have little experience but a huge heart respond to the needs of the people on the barricades. Yesterday, for example, they organized the installation of medical aid stations because the Red Cross got instructions from the governor and its director not to attend to the flurry of people who were shot at by the governor's police.

Ron: Do you think there is a potential for armed conflict (beyond that seen already -- which seems mostly to originate from the forces of the state)?

Tomas: Hmm, if the state continues on its support of a political figure who has lost completely popular support, especially from the poor, then we will see an escalation of violence. because the demands of the people after decades -- some argue centuries -- have been unattended. Honestly, I think that this would continue as peaceful opposition, and hopefully we would see a more democratic state. Only if the government continues its escalation of violence would we see a critical cyclical point in Mexico's history.

Ron: If the federal forces are able to quash the rebellion, what kind of repression do you think will follow? Indeed, based on past experiences, after the media leaves the region, what do you foresee happening to the movement, its participants and supporters, and the region in general?

Tomas: I think that the violence is going to be targeted at the organizers and the leaders of the movement.

Ron: In the greater scheme of things, how would you relate this to other struggles occurring in the Americas? What relationship, if any, do you see the demands of the protestors have to the anti-imperialist/anti-global capitalism movements in this hemisphere and around the world?

Tomas: This rebellion reminds me of Bolivia, because of it indigenous component. As in Bolivia, once the indigenous population decide that a government needs to be overturned, we see that they gain a determination that has caused it to fall. In the case of Oaxaca, the most likely scenario is that the governor is going to be overthrown. What we are seeing also is a political scenario that changes everyday. The news today is that the political parties at the national level are all calling for the governor to resign.

If the movement maintains the level and determination that we are seeing, then this movement has a chance of playing an important role in national politics and possibly a shift in the neoliberal government of Mexico.

Ron: Anything more to add?

Tomas: I was at the scene five minutes before the reporter from Indymedia was killed. I remember hearing the shots, people running all over the place, unarmed mechanics, housewives. There was a woman there, I do not know if she was a teacher, I only remember her words, "This is our moment, we cant go on living like this, it is enough. I went to school barefoot, and it makes me cry to see what happens here. Our only future is the border with the United States. It makes me sad to see our young finish a university degree only to work as taxi drivers. This is our moment, we can't let them continue to oppress us."

SOURCE: MR Zine





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