28.5.04

Gore's speech at NYU a couple days ago. Listen to the clips - he gets pretty damn animated - if he'd acted like this four years ago, perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess. No big insights - nothing we don't already know - but it doesn't get much more mainstream than this...

26.5.04

*** An Israeli Cabinet minister on Sunday said the military's demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip reminded him of actions the Nazis took against his family during World War II and called for a halt to the policy of destroying homes.

"I am talking about an old woman on all fours looking for her medicine in the rubble of her home, and I thought about my grandmother," he told Israel Army Radio.

The army's plan to widen the patrol road - even at the cost of demolishing some 2,000 more homes - "makes me sick," Lapid said, adding that the international community will never let Israel carry out such an operation. "We look like monsters in the eyes of the world," he said.


*** "I would say my platoon alone killed 30-plus innocent civilians" - U.S. deserter talks on democracy now. enjoy!

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to former marine staff sergeant Jimmy Massey, what about the use of cluster bombs?

STAFF SERGEANT JIMMY MASSEY: I had a staff sergeant at the very beginning of the war. He was our supply staff sergeant. He lost his leg because of cluster bombs. Cluster bombs were everywhere, and I believe that he was the first marine to be awarded the Purple Heart in "Operation Iraq." because it happened in Safwan, the town of Safwan, the first city as your heading into Iraq from Kuwait. They were everywhere. The long-term casualties of these cluster bombs with children and -- you know, older people working in the fields is going to go on for years.

25.5.04


But who - an intelligent conservative might ask - championed sexual freedom if it wasn't us on the liberal left? Who made films full of shocking violence and endless sex? Who wrote the 80s and 90s books on how to bring up your kid? If there has been a decline of the sort that Sontag laments, do the liberal "we" not share any responsibility? Didn't the conservatives warn us that all this would happen?

and letters

24.5.04

An Egyptian friend of mine wrote this...

The thin line between love and hate: explaining self-hate
Take a moment to contemplate before passing judgement on this unorthodox characterization. By 2004, Arabs, especially those who live in the Middle East, find themselves in a humiliating and sorrowful condition - we are at the bottom of the pile of human development; as a nation, a people or group of states it can be argued that we have failed. Despite the enormity of the disaster which is being Arab in the early 21st century only a minority of Arabs in the Middle East or in the Diaspora - yes "Diaspora" - are concerned. Widespread apathy, fatalism and resignation have increased our tolerance of oppression and suffocated our desire to reject the status quo. All that remains is the lonely voice of the Self-Hating Arab who cringes at the narratives, attitudes and realities of his world. They resist, demonstrate and write in the hope of improving their lot only to be arrested, beaten by riot police, held in administrative detention, tortured, laughed at, dismissed as westernised, traitorous or naive for turning their attention from the Americans and the Zionists and choosing to blame themselves, their society and their leaders for the crapulence.
Our states are ruled by absolute monarchs and despotic "secular" dictators, all of whom employ varying degrees of brutality and state oppression to enforce their hold on power. We, Arabs that is - tolerate anything that they throw at us; corruption, never ending emergency laws, chronic poverty, nepotism, financial mismanagement, poor public infrastructure, unsustainable development, substandard education systems, endless propaganda, censorship, police brutality, legal systems and constitutional rights that are not respected, a complete absence of accountability; rigged elections (the famous 99.95%) hereditary republics, unconstitutional monarchs, reformers who don't reform, democrats who are undemocratic, so- called brotherly leaders and nations singing each other's praises in public only to conspire and work against each other behind the scenes. The scandal that is Arab politics is difficult to quantify and impossible to summarise. Many are content to attribute all our problems to the conspiracies and intricate plans to undermine and subjugate us that exist in Tel-Aviv, Washington and London. The time has come to cast these simplistic and convenient explanations aside, for although they may be part of the problem they certainly are no justification or explanation for the circumstances.

"Society" is a problematic term. nevertheless Arab society is implicated in bringing about its own decline. Where once we were pioneering, expressive, experimental, and scientific, we are now simply consumers of modernity and not its creators. Whenever we feel the need for self-assurance of our ability we resurrect the past. The scholars, writers and leaders of medieval Arab history continue to be our only source of pride but in many ways our reverence for them prevents us from forming a determination of our future. Curiously, for all our vociferous canonization of our medieval forefathers, we selectively extract their vague "Arabness" from their more profound contributions to human civilization: the spirit of experimentation, intellectual flexibility, and life that, if genuinely practiced today, would brand us as unorthodox, treasonous, or worse. We seem to be torn between, on the one hand, a tradition that we plunder for propaganda and, on the other, a modernity that we uncritically consume.

We are infected by patriarchal hierarchy and an aversion to confronting our shortcomings. We are often unable to say what we mean or be honest because of our conception of shame. If the Catholics invented guilt then we invented shame - ???. It is designed as a preventative measure to steer us away from acts or attitudes deemed immoral, but it has also acted as a powerful inhibitor causing many of us to lie and conceal our true actions. Saying what you mean is often hard.

There are many beautiful and admirable qualities in Arab society, but to list them in this context could perhaps be interpreted as condescending attempt to compensation for the grave picture that has so far been presented, it would not help to appear apologetic or politically correct at this stage. Suffice to say that those of us who are familiar with the people, humour, customs and literature of the Arab world would agree that its is often a source of inspiration.

Self-hate is an accidental or involuntary label. It's about how others perceive you rather than how you perceive yourself. From the outset it would be good to recognise that the term is most commonly used to describe Jews or Israelis who are openly and unashamedly critical of certain values, practises or narratives prevalent in their society, state or government. These individuals, who question and oppose the moral and philosophical validity of accepted truths, are dismissed as self-hating or consumed by a desire to undermine their own.

In an Arab context self-hate is not yet common currency, but those of us who don't accept the lies, propaganda, rhetoric and restrictions of thought imposed on us are often seen as dangerous outsiders. Perhaps one day we will be described as pathological self-haters too. In the meantime this location in cyberspace invites you to discuss anything about the Arab world or being an Arab that trouble you as an intellectual. There are few rules except that you believe that honesty is essential, that there are no absolutes or accepted truths and finally that you are able to talk about uncomfortable subjects.
This is not meant to be aggressive, just thought provoking. If a character assassination of Arabness was the point then not much would have to be said, our condition speaks for itself. It is because we care about our future and have a burning desire to change its current course that the words and sentences are so harsh.
A Self-Hating Arab is an honest, thoughtful and progressive Arab.

Your Children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you they, yet they belong not to you
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backwards but tarries with yesterday.

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


oh yeah check this out... lots and lots of amazing political/subversive articles

23.5.04


now that we can do this, we should be as pleased as he is!

21.5.04

harhar! u.s. christians! this is fan-tas-tic!

"As difficult as it is, I'm contending not only for myself, but the men that are on this fast with me, to be strong, and beat this addiction. Let's do it guys! We can be holy."

this post points to free to be pure, blog by some puritans trying to give up wanking for 40 days: "Interests: Seeking God for freedom from my sins". as jesus h was tempted in desert, ideology "does my penis make me a bad boy?" from xxx church.com, the anti-porno, anti-wanking, "no 1 christian porn site"..

medieval lies on pop tv:

"Next there was a television commercial featuring a dwarf and the tag line, "Porn stunts your growth." The ad ran on MTV and on television shows targeting young people, but was pulled after a dwarf-empowerment group called Little People of America found it offensive."

i'd rather be surfing the lake of fire!
if you bake a pie with piss, what have you got?

a piss pie
ID Cards...

You may think that David Blunkett’s hundreds of new laws, harsh use of the Terrorism Act 2000, hard line on immigration, and proposed Civil Contingencies Bill are going to limit your freedom. David, however thinks that “Freedoms are not only embedded in our democracy, but in the very way we live our lives”. Maybe that’s why he is so keen on biometric ID cards that will “be a real benefit to individuals who want to establish their identity”. What ‘real benefit’ they will bring is not exactly certain. Blunkett claims the cards, which he calls ‘entitlement cards’ will “protect and increase our liberty”, and is pressing on with the scheme against massive opposition.

The cards will allegedly protect us from ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘terrorists’. But how they would protect us from Al Qaeda members travelling on legitimate foreign passports is unclear. Biometric cards wouldn’t have prevented 9/11 or the Madrid bombing either. Dave’s a bit doubtful too, telling parliament “I accept that it is important that we do not pretend that an entitlement card would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism”. So why do we need them then?

What is sure is that the cards will cost YOU a lot of money, £3.1 billion, or about 51 pounds for every man woman and child, according to the Home Office. Last March a leaked government report said that more than £1.5 billion in taxpayers’ money has been wasted on other botched IT schemes over the last six years! Hopefully the cost of all the equipment needed to read the hi-tech cards, recognise iris scans and fingerprints has been taken into account by the corporations brought in to manage the scheme. Going by the Home Office’s record on large public projects though, the figure will rise significantly as interested companies always brag that they can sort the contract out for a lot less than it ends up costing.

The implementation and running of the system is likely to be taken up by Schlumberger Sema, a company which is already conducting trials with the Passport Agency to produce biometric ID cards. Schlumberger, who have been bought by Atos Origin, say that their “best of breed solutions can help your company achieve a smart and robust level of security.” Sounds great.

Schlumberger have a history of ever-so-slightly-less-than-popular schemes, extracting tax payers money to make a quick buck and at someone elses expense. Under the government’s ‘Benefit Integrity Project’ people receiving benefits because of illness or disability were asked to prove they couldn’t work. Usually it takes around an hour for a doctor to check someone’s illness or disability. But Sema, who were often paid by the visit, managed to rattle off check ups within a matter of minutes. As a result thousands of people lost their benefits. The government eventually scrapped the programme due to “a serious error of judgement”.

The company does have some experience in the spying game though. Sema’s got the benefit of John Deutch, disgraced former Director of the CIA, on its board. Deutch has a bit of a murky track record in the Pentagon too, helping to oversee the US invasions of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Grenada, which led to thousands of deaths during the 1980s. His experience with data secruity’s not too hot either. He was dismissed from the CIA for keeping 17,000 pages of, according to the CIA, “enormously sensitive material at the highest levels of classification,” on his home computer which was also used by his children for school work and surfing the net.

Read more

Also see this...
Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card
from my radical (i.e. believes that intellectuals have a duty to something other than power) academic acquaintance Hans Koechler;

Call for establishment of International War Crimes Commission for Iraq

"In a message delivered to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the International Progress Organization has called for the establishment of an International War Crimes Commission for Iraq.

Referring to the Memorandum on the legal implications of the Iraq war 2003, including measures of criminal justice of 12 August 2003, the President of the I.P.O. explained that the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by personnel of the occupying powers in Iraq cannot be investigated in an objective manner by the military justice system of the involved countries. This is proven by the fact that serious breaches of the respective Geneva Conventions and other international crimes have been committed in the territory of Iraq since over a year without the authorities of the occupying powers having initiated proper legal proceedings. Prosecutorial measures have been taken only recently after the release of photos of abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

The international crimes that have been reported so far include crimes against humanity and war crimes, in particular grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, committed mainly by personnel of the United States and the United Kingdom. The alleged crimes – crimes against humanity such as murder, torture, rape, and other forms of sexual violence; war crimes such as willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, and unlawful confinement – are international crimes for which there exists universal jurisdiction on the basis of the provisions of the respective Geneva Conventions (Art. 129 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and Art. 146 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) and, where applicable, Arts. 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

For international crimes committed by personnel of the United Kingdom and other European member states of the "coalition of the willing" the International Criminal Court possesses complementary jurisdiction which will come to bear if those countries do not investigate or prosecute the alleged crimes or do not carry out their judicial responsibilities in a genuine manner. (No such jurisdiction exists for crimes committed by U.S. personnel because of the non-ratification of the Rome Statute by the United States and Iraq.)

In view of the grave nature of the alleged international crimes, the respective regional intergovernmental organizations – the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference – should have undertaken to document those crimes on the basis of the member states' obligations under the charters of these organizations and under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, with a view of initiating prosecution by the competent judicial authorities. However, because of several member states of those regional organizations having supported the U.S.-led war of aggression against and occupation of Iraq, these organizations have been prevented from undertaking their responsibilities in support of the basic rights of the citizens of Iraq.

In view of these facts, the General Assembly of the United Nations should consider to establish, on the basis of Art. 22 of the UN Charter, an International War Crimes Commission for Iraq with the mandate of documenting the crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by personnel of the occupying powers in Iraq. This task will not and cannot be undertaken by the authorities of the occupying countries themselves in an objective manner. As evidenced in recent media reports, the International Committee of the Red Cross, acting in conformity with the regulations of its confidential reporting system, could not bring about an end to the commission of international crimes in Iraq. International non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, though having reported serious abuses in Iraqi prisons since over a year, have proven not to have the necessary leverage in order to stop the systematic commission of those crimes.

A commission established by the General Assembly of the United Nations will alone have the legitimacy and international authority to bring the violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity committed in Iraq to the attention not only of international public opinion, but of the States Parties to the Geneva Conventions and, where applicable, of the International Criminal Court. (The United Nations Security Council does not possess the legal authority under the Charter to establish such a commission nor would it be in a position, should it possess such authority, to act objectively because of the veto power of the United States and the United Kingdom, the two principal occupying powers in Iraq.)

The International Progress Organization has issued a series of legal memoranda and recommendations related to the war against and occupation of Iraq some of which are accessible through the website of the I.P.O.

I.P.O. documents on the Iraq crisis

Memorandum on the legal implications of the Iraq war 2003, including measures of criminal justice

The Iraq Crisis and the United Nations. Documentation by the I.P.O.

Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads

20.5.04

Last Saturday anti-fascists stopped a meeting by David Irving, the prominent holocaust denier and neo-nazi. Both the main and back-up venues for the talk were occupied which forced Irving to slink off back to London, but not before all his books and videos were destroyed. His own unintentionally hilarious account of the failed meeting, complete with references to Jews and homos and washing his hair “as thoroughly as I can. Because who can say that one of these queer folks and thugs was not HIV-positive?” He assigns blame to everyone involved in organising the day's events with of course the exception of the great man himself. Although no longer the intellectual arm of the neo-nazi resurgence that he once was, Irving seems to be trying to cash in on popular revulsion with the war in Iraq. However he's still peddling the same racist and anti-semitic doctrines as ever. A swift glance at a few neo-nazi websites confirms the fact that he is still held in high regard in those unsavoury circles. Irving's tour of the U.K is now taking him up north to Halifax.

David Irving's account of the event

19.5.04

GREENWASH, 'NORMS' AND SHELL an article I wrote from SchNEWS

“It is easier and less costly to change the way people think about reality than it is to change reality” Morris Wolfe, PR consultant.

Last month was the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights where one of the hottest topics up for discussion was the ‘’UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Trans-national Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights’ (or ‘Norms’ for short). The Commission eventually decided to give the Norms a 5-year mandate to develop and try them out further.

These norms aren’t another bureaucratic attempt to bore us into submission but are proposed decency guidelines for multinational corporations to stick too. The norms ask companies to respect the laws of the countries they operate in, ensure equal opportunities and avoid racism and sexism. More troublesome for the corporations will be the proposed clause asking them not to profit from war crimes, genocide, torture, and violations of international law. The norms also include workers rights (to form unions for example), avoidance of bribery and corruption, fair business practice, protecting consumers from harmful products and environmental protection. Which seems pretty reasonable to me, but not of course to big business which feels it is obviously above such silly ‘red tape’ and would rather ‘regulate’ itself.

Corporate lobby groups such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) launched a fierce campaign to kill off the proposal in the run up to the meeting, with the ‘gurus of greenwash’ Shell playing a leading role. But what is all the fuss really about when all these ‘Norms’ are just a way of trying to get multinational corporations to obey existing laws and international treaties on the environment and human rights? Right-wing governments and business groups have managed to get a disclaimer added to the conclusion which means that the Norms still do not have any official status, but at least they will stay in the pipeline for the next five years.

In fact these regulations actually already exist in UN treaties such as the Convention Against Torture or in human and labour rights conventions. The idea of the Norms is to bring together these treaties and close a loophole in the law to make them apply to multinational corporations - who could face compensation claims if they ignore them.

It may come as a surprise to some that oil giant Shell are leading the opposition to these proposed norms, claiming that they don’t find them helpful because well, they already have such high human rights standards! Their website proudly proclaims, “Shell works hard to meet environmental commitments and we invest time and money to improve environmental performance beyond that required by legislation” and that, “The welfare of our staff and the communities in which we live and work is fundamental to our approach to business”. Shell’s publicity is full of this type of drivel: “Our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people define who we are and how we work. These values have been embodied for more than 25 years in our business principles, which since 1997 include a commitment to support human rights and to contribute to sustainable development.” And you couldn’t get more sustainable than oil now could you?

In early March a scandal around Shell’s overstatement of its oil reserves forced Chief Executive Phil Watts to resign, but you wouldn’t find any Shell top brass resigning over its overstating of green credentials. Recent reports from Friends of the Earth and Christian Aid document Shell‘s operations in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, that are still causing serious problems for local communities, nine years after the execution of nine people who paid the ultimate price for campaigning for the most basic of human rights: the right for clean air, land and water see SchNEWS 49. The alternative annual Shell report from FoE states that “The decades of pollution caused by Shell’s rusting network of pipes continue to blight daily life, ruining farmland, poisoning water tables and creating the constant risk of serious fires.” The Christian Aid report also highlights that most of the community development projects presented in various glossy Shell reports are in fact failing.

Hospitals, schools and water supply systems remain unfinished and new roads mainly help boost easy movement of its oil production. But beyond the debate about how much greenwash Shell are spouting, it is clear that the company is determined to prevent the emergence of international mechanisms through which communities could hold it accountable to its pledges. As those multinational investigators Corporate Europe Observatory point out “the company generally gets away easily with its inflated claims concerning its social responsibility record.” As Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said “Any attempt to de-rail the Norms, in particular any referral of the Norms…would effectively turn back the clock on years of progress on corporate social responsibility.”

Discoveries of massive oil reserves in West Africa are condemning the region to more greenwashing (which means exploitation and bloodshed) by big oil companies. Angola is currently the only nation in Africa where US oil companies currently dominate. European oil companies such as Shell and BP have traditionally controlled this market. In the late 90s new offshore oil techniques were discovered (Exxon Mobil, has led this exploration). New coastal oil has been discovered in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe which will conveniently be the site of a new US Navy Base. By 2015, it is projected, the US could get 25% of its oil from West Africa.

But it’s a risky and troublesome part of the world, “incompetent repression” means that the oil is out of control. “Piracy resistance” in Nigeria, where local people rise up and sabotage or steal oil, costs big oil companies 100-300,000 barrels of oil a day, and companies say they need military security from the US to operate smoothly. So when the US has finished freeing Iraq from independence… or was it making them independent from freedom … it looks like they might be moving in to West Africa.

So it’s no surprise the corporations are fighting tooth and nail to avoid mandatory reporting on their activities, because despite all their guff about social responsibility, there only obligation they feel is really important is lining their shareholders pockets. For this they rely on lax environmental regulations in poor desperate countries and making sure the locals don’t kick up a fuss about their activities.

* For more on the Norms Corporate Europe Observatory have some good information

18.5.04

nsdap thousand year reich, pnac hundred american years - all the same


(1) from nsdap to pnac

"The "American values" message and the Nazi theory are very similar. It was from Nietzsche's ideas that the German people took the theory of German supremacy, which stipulates that the world will not get well under German supremacy.

Just like the Nazi movement in Germany was a devilish product that believed in the supremacy and thought about re-conceiving the world according to its own political and ideological vision, the neo-cons' movement in the U.S. is a demonic product that believes in the supremacy theory and seeks to re-conceive the world according to its vision. Regimes in the world should change. Values should also change. Even the American regime should change, for it is not as the neo-cons think, the ideal regime, but it is the lesser evil."


ideological linkage - there's nothing oblique about this link. considering the time span, it couldn't be any more direct:

* carl schmitt, nazi ideologue, 1888-1985 - conservative critique of liberalism: against the rationalist pretention of secular separation of state and church. saw secularisation as marking the end of statehood (cf. nietzsche), proposed a catholic anti-enlightenment, a so-called "theocratic reformation". his anti-liberalism and anti-marxism results in the idea of a "catholic dictatorship".

* 1918 - justifies totalitarian means to suppress revolutionary forces, which also leads to the murder of rosa luxemburg.

* 1933 - joins nsdap.

* leo strauss 1899-1972 - schmitt's favorite student. ironically, jewish strauss emigrates to the u.s. and leaves his nsdap mentor behind - the two still work closely on their conservative critique of liberalism.

* develops neo-conservative philosophy, elements of which can certainly be found in neo-con policy (for instance, epistemic platonism (doxa) - "to deceive the stupid majority" is justified, good and necessary in strauss' view).

* regarded as chief ideological father of current madness. irving kristol is as anti-secular as schmitt, wolfowitz was a strauss student (second in line to a nazi ideologue), william kristol, podhoretz and perle are known straussians too.

* interestingly, stephen cambone, who was prominently exposed yesterday in connection with rumsfelds sap programme, is a strauss lover too.


(2) nationalist anthropology - who are "we"?

1940




"The Ahnenerbe was part of Himmler's greater plan for the systematic creation of a "Germanic" culture that would replace Christianity in the Greater Germany to exist after the war, a kind of SS-religion that would form the basis of the new world order. This new culture would be based on the völkisch beliefs of the Nazis, and it was the role of the Ahnenerbe to marshal scientific research in an interdisciplinary program to reject the "priggish line of high-school professors" and support the "development of the Germanic heritage".

A central function of the Ahnenerbe was the publication of materials as part of the effort to investigate and "revive" Germanic traditions."

***


2004




"The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages.

America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant. Their values, institutions, and culture provided the foundation for and shaped the development of the United States in the following centuries. They initially defined America in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and religion. Then, in the 18th century, they also had to define America ideologically to justify independence from their home country, which was also white, British, and Protestant."

***


from the wikipedia entry on eugenics:

"Various authors, notably Stephen Jay Gould, have repeatedly asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (which were overhauled in 1965) were motivated by the goals of eugenics, in particular a desire to exclude inferior races from the national gene pool."
"It made me wanna burn my passport!"

17.5.04

new standard correspondent dahr jamail reports from Baghdad in this excellent blog.

he vividly describes the oppression the locals are facing (as outlined in this AI report for instance)
seymour hersh article in the new yorker on rumsfeld's deliberate policy of torture;

"The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.

Rumsfeld, during appearances last week before Congress to testify about Abu Ghraib, was precluded by law from explicitly mentioning highly secret matters in an unclassified session. But he conveyed the message that he was telling the public all that he knew about the story. He said, “Any suggestion that there is not a full, deep awareness of what has happened, and the damage it has done, I think, would be a misunderstanding.” The senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld’s testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, “Some people think you can bullshit anyone.”

[....]

"...he authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate “high value” targets in the Bush Administration’s war on terror."

[....]

"Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were “completely read into the program,” the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected. “We’re not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” he said. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’”

[....]

"This official went on, “The black guys”—those in the Pentagon’s secret program—“say we’ve got to accept the prosecution. They’re vaccinated from the reality.” The sap is still active, and “the United States is picking up guys for interrogation. The question is, how do they protect the quick-reaction force without blowing its cover?” The program was protected by the fact that no one on the outside was allowed to know of its existence. “If you even give a hint that you’re aware of a black program that you’re not read into, you lose your clearances,” the former official said. “Nobody will talk. So the only people left to prosecute are those who are undefended—the poor kids at the end of the food chain.”

16.5.04

Guy Debord - One More Try if You Want to be Situationists

The collective task we have set ourselves is the creation of a new cultural theater of operations, placed hypothetically at the level of an eventual general construction of its surroundings through the preparation, depending on circumstances, of the terms of the environment/behavior dialectic.

etc.

aha aha aha!
Alex Jones' Infowars Berg archive There's an awful lot of buzz around this beheading tape, and the link above is a good hub to read about it. Inforwars is pretty convinced that it's a fake - I still haven't seen the video so I don't feel like I could have an opinion, but I will say I think the current government is quite capable of it. Obviously burden-of-proof is on the accusers, but listening to the "western voice" in the tape on this site is interesting...
Of course, as you guys know, random overheard snippets from other languages can easily be mistaken for your own in terms of inflection and the such. Matter of fact, an funny anecdote from a humorist claims he used to have conversations with an italian across central park by imitating the way he thought italian sounded... basically the fact that a dude sounds kinda western is inconclusive. But there are a lot of weird things about this video...

15.5.04

one to watch - the young hegelian

"In form, in style, this weblog draws upon a thought of Walter Benjamin, that "ideas' intensive infinitude characterises them as monads". By writing episodically, attending to fragments and ephemera, quotations, images, cultural detritus, the overlooked detail, one can paradoxically gain a brief conspectus upon the whole world. But only because that world itself "totalises", because every phenomena is related to, is mediated by the whole, because there is "nothing immediate under the sun" (Hegel nodding towards Ecclesiastes). Criticism thereby becomes a task, an "infinitesimal task" as Benjamin put it, a task of penetrating into the real by focussing upon the smallest most neglected subjects, the most overlooked reified things which people our empty lives. The intention – to reveal something of the whole in all its contradictory inadequacy."

14.5.04

Fallujah Rebels, Residents, Police Celebrate Victory over U.S. Marines

"Fallujah, Iraq , May 10 - The US 1st Marine Division sent a small convoy into Fallujah today in order to meet with the mayor and show cooperation with the Iraqi Police (IP) and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC). But the supposed show of force was a pre-arranged exercise. Immediately following the Marines’ departure, the embattled city erupted into what could only be described as a huge victory celebration over the US military.Residents were joined by fully armed resistance fighters who intermingled freely with uniformed IP and ICDC personnel."



13.5.04

"Shaking his hand, I tell Jacques Vergès, it's impossible not to feel a direct connection to all those other palms he's pressed. His friends have included such men as the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, and Illich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, who blew up Marseille railway station and shot dead - among others - two French policemen: a soldier, as Vergès once described the Venezuelan terrorist, "in a noble cause".

[....]

"Saddam Hussein will be defended by a team of lawyers, Vergès chief among them, if the Iraqi's family is allowed any say in the matter. He is already representing former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz ("a gentleman") who surrendered a year ago. That said, there is probably no lawyer the allies would less like to see coaxing the former leader to reminisce on those happier days when the US counted him among its friends. His proclamation of his leading role is thought by some to be premature: it's possible the Americans might seek to exclude him, for instance by stipulating that all participating attorneys hold a permit to practise in Iraq.

"If and when a trial does take place," Vergès says, "I will argue that Mr Rumsfeld cannot escape being charged as a co-conspirator, since he was the intermediary for arms sales to Saddam Hussein. I am preparing the case on that basis."

[....]

"Whatever the level of western hypocrisy in this affair," I ask Vergès, "how can you contemplate defending a man who ordered the gassings at Halabja and who, according to a study by the group Human Rights Watch, was responsible for the death of up to 100,000 Kurdish non-combatants in the first eight months of 1988 alone?"

"My position on that, as a defence lawyer," replies Vergès, "is that you must first prove to me those acts were committed, and secondly that they were committed by Saddam Hussein. But in any case - even if those things were done on his orders - they were done with weapons supplied by the US. If you provide a country with poison gas and biological weapons it is for one purpose only. When a crime is committed, you can't pursue only one of the guilty parties."

"The charge against the US being?"

"Complicity, by reason of supplying the means to commit a crime. I don't see how, in an international court of law, the Americans * could begin to justify supplying Iraq with chemical weapons. And there is absolutely no doubt that they did."


"A sense of adventure carried him to Iraq. Unlike his father, who was a member of an anti-war group, Berg believed in America's project in Iraq and wanted to be a part of it, as well as make money."

"what a tragedy"


*** If I were Tony Blair, I would be rather alarmed this morning to see how frequently my name appears next to words such as "lonely", "damaged" and "go".

bye bye tony tosspott?


Gordon Brown has seen the influential [tacit acceptance of this fact at root of liberal lie] media tycoon Rupert Murdoch twice this week amid fears among allies of Tony Blair that the chancellor is growing more restless in his ambition to succeed the beleaguered prime minister.

Mr Brown had what are described as a routine private meeting with Mr Murdoch at No 11 on Monday and gave an avowedly Eurosceptic speech to a City dinner on Tuesday at which the tycoon was a guest of honour, sources close to No 10 said yesterday.

[...]

But Westminster gossip that the chancellor is courting Mr Murdoch with what one Blair ally called the "American business model" speech, in contrast to the EU's failure to modernise, has created alarm.

"send in vanilla ice!"


In an echo of the letter last month by 52 former diplomats protesting at support for US policy in the Middle East, some senior diplomats have privately urged the Foreign Office to distance the British Government from the Bush administration over the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers in Iraq.

A senior Foreign Office official said: "There are telegrams coming in. The diplomats are panicking a bit. Downing Street is determined to hold the line. We can't afford to panic now. To capitulate now would be disaster."

they call it the spring '45 bunker blues

We former US diplomats applaud our 52 British colleagues who recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticising his Middle East policy and calling on Britain to exert more influence over the United States.

corresponding us letter by ex-diplomats to bush
12.3.

statt der prinzipien symmetrien und rhytmen einführen. die weltordnungen und staatsaktionen widerlegen, indem man sie in einen satzteil oder einen pinselstrich verwandelt.

die distanzierende erfindung ist das leben selber. seien wir neu und erfinderisch von grund aus. dichten wir das leben täglich um.

was wir zelebrieren, ist eine buffonade und eine totenmesse zugleich.

- hans arp, dada-tagebuch, 1916

11.5.04

throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

"Declining respect for American cultural values exacerbated by the crisis in Iraq is having a potentially disastrous effect on the image of US brands such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Nike and Microsoft, a new worldwide study of consumer attitudes has found.

The number of people who like and use US branded products has fallen significantly over the past year, while brands perceived to be non-American have remained relatively stable."


1- history of ripon, from ripon On May 27, 1844, the first settlers of the Ripon area reached their destination. They were members of the Wisconsin Phalanx - nineteen men and one boy - who were led by young Warren Chase. Inspired by Charles Fourier's principles of social philosophy, the Phalanx set out from Kenosha to establish a community which was to be an experiment in what we today would call Socialism.

They named this community "Ceresco" after the Roman goddess of the harvest, and located it in a valley nestled between two hills. Before long, this was the home of more than 200 idealists. The members constructed several commonly-owned dwellings called long houses, one of which still stands on its original site. For five years the Fourierites prospered to an extent greater than those in most utopian socialist experiments.


2- history of republican party, by the republican party

The Republican Party was born in the early 1850's by anti-slavery activists and individuals who believed that government should grant western lands to settlers free of charge. The first informal meeting of the party took place in Ripon, Wisconsin.

hmmmmmmm...


3- historical links as outlined in the wisconsin madison (local news editorial)


Republicans of this day would prefer not to be reminded of the fact that their party was founded by a bunch of socialists with links to Karl Marx and a determination to advance the most revolutionary ideas of their time.

But the historical record is actually quite clear.

In the winter of 1843, a series of lectures at the Franklin Lyceum in Southport (now Kenosha) inspired several dozen men and women to adopt the views of Charles Fourier, a visionary French socialist thinker who sought to restructure society into cooperative agricultural communities called "phalanxes".

The Fourierites pooled their meager resources and purchased land on the edge of what is now Ripon. Their Wisconsin Phalanx, known as Ceresco, turned into an enormous success, eventually growing in population to a peak of 180. By the early 1850s, the utopian agricultural community had been incorporated into Ripon -- making the town a hotbed of radical ideas, particularly regarding the issue of slavery.

On March 20, 1854, a Fourierite socialist named Alvan Bovay had grown so angered with the failure of the existing political parties to demand the immediate freeing of all slaves that he called a meeting at Ripon's Little White Schoolhouse to form a new party. Most of those present were Fourierites, and they chose the name "Republican" because it was, in Bovay's words, "suggestive of equality."

The new party adopted a platform that pledged it to seek equality not just for slaves, but for all workers. Its slogan was "Free soil, free speech, free men," and one of its first pledges was to invalidate mortgages held by big banks in order to prevent foreclosure actions against small farmers.

The Republicans sought as well to promote women's rights, defend immigrants, advance trade union organizing, limit the amount of land that any individual could own and forbid corporate monopolies. The intent of the new party, its founders said, was nothing less than to join "the old battle -- not yet over -- between the rights of the toiling many and the special privileges of the aristocratic few."

One of the first Wisconsinites attracted to their banner was Carl Schurz, a leader of the radical German revolution of 1848 -- which also had been influenced by Fourier's ideas, as well as those of Karl Marx.

Marx became a writer for Horace Greeley's Republican newspaper, the New York Tribune, which also featured writing by Bovay and Schurz. By 1854, Schurz had settled in Watertown and soon became a leader of Wisconsin's burgeoning German community.




and oneida, another fourier-inspired christian-spiritual crack with some element of sexual reform

The main teaching which received the most criticism was that of "Complex Marriage." In Complex Marriage, every man was married to every woman and vice versa. This practice was to stay only within the community and had to stay within two main guidelines. The first was that before the man and woman could cohabit, they had to obtain each other's consent through a third person or persons. Secondly, no two people could have exclusive attachment with each other because it would be selfish and idolatrous. Any two people found in any such situation would be separated and not allowed to see each other for a certain length of time.

10.5.04

"If your sciences dictated by wisdom have served only to perpetuate poverty and strife, give us rather sciences dictated by folly, provided that they quiet furies and relieve the miseries of peoples."

Théorie des Quatres Mouvements et des Destinées Générales (1808) by...

"Charles Fourier was among the first to formulate a right to a minimum standard of life. His radical approach involved a systematic critique of work, marriage and patriarchy, together with a parallel right to a sexual minimum. He also proposed a comprehensive alternative to the Christian religion. Finally, through the medium of a bizarre and extraordinary cosmology, Fourier argued that the poor state of the planet is the result of the evil practices of civilisation.

Man alone means nothing. The 1st level of humanity is the complete human body, made of a man and a woman. The 2nd level is the complete human soul, consisting of the 810 different characters harmonized in a whirl (phalanx). The 3rd level consists of the socially unified globe with its inhabitants. At the 4th level we have the solar system, then clusters of systems, galaxies, and a universe. Above universes, there exist biniverses, triniverses, etc.

As in celestial mechanics, the basic force underlying Harmony is attraction. Everyone's actions are driven by passions and follow attraction. Society must thus be organized in such a way as to balance all attractions."





"Fourier's favourite cardinal passion is love.

Fourier invented the neologism céladonie; this name means sentimental love, by opposition with physical lust. He recognized the necessity and complementarity of both aspects of love. In Civilization, traditional morals extol sentimental love and condemns unbridled physical lust; the latter, like a wild animal, is acceptable only within the bounds of marriage, with the purpose of procreation. Fourier remarked that such an unbalanced view produces the opposite excess in public opinion and private lives: sentimental love is scoffed at, and serves only as a thin cover for sexual lust, which is the true purpose of courtship. The more morals condemn adultery and debauchery as vice, the more public opinion, novels, and theatre defend them.

Love being a compound made of two complementary elements (physical and sentimental), it is impossible to simplify it to only one of them. Trying to do so only leads to a "subversive" development, where the repressed side revolts against the other, a situation which leads to vices and perversions. Fourier criticizes all the restrictions to love in Civilization, and announces its balanced development in future Harmony. He envisages even the possibility of a purely sentimental love relation: such a celadony can be sustained only if each of the two lovers is engaged in a compound relation with one or several exterior partners. Harmony will reward angelic couples, that is beautiful lovers who will - for a limited time period - lead a purely sentimental celadony while at the same time satisfying the demands of a great number of exterior suitors.





The sublime passion that makes humans feel like gods, seemingly useless and irrational, mysterious and uncontrollable, always surging despite repression, the longing of both the rich and the poor... What are its degrees? How can it be achieved? Here are its possible developments, ranked by increasing efficiency:

- simple celadony: one purely spiritual relation; - composite celadony: one compound relation (both physical and spiritual); - bimodal celadony: one spiritual relation and one compound relation; - multimodal celadony: one spiritual relation and several compound relations.

Angelic couples (who do not give themselves to each other until they have satisfied dozens of other suitors) lead multimodal celadony to its most glorious heights, providing love's public service.

Celadony is incompatible with Savage, Patriarcal, Barbarian, and Civilized orders, it will be achieved under Harmony."
"In Woodward's account, the true special relationship is not with Britain but with Saudi Arabia. The kingdom's ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar, is in and out of the Oval Office, granted extraordinary and constant access. Tellingly, he is the only person in the entire volume who talks back to Bush, interrupting him and even taunting him. That Bush takes it, and that Bandar is formally notified of the start of the war before Powell (or Blair), will have many wondering what exactly is the nature of the Saudi hold on the Bush administration. Woodward offers a tantalising clue: "The Saudis hoped to fine-tune oil prices ... to prime the economy for 2004. What was key, Bandar knew, were the economic conditions before a presidential election, not at the moment of the election." In other words, the Saudis were favoured because they were going to rig the global economy to ensure Bush a second term."
Poor 'are paying for war on terror'

Mark Tran, Monday May 10, 2004

Some of the world's poorest people are paying for the "war on terror" as governments cut aid budgets or switch their priorities to address security issues, a leading charity said today.
The Christian Aid report, entitled The Politics of Poverty, said that aid was being politicised as it had been during the cold war. It accused the US of leading the trend.

Christian Aid report

*** They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.

fantastic! diagrams demonstrating totalitarian elite operators' entanglements





*** NC re proconsul negroponte

9.5.04

n.b. voltaire's humour knows no respect. very special material. try candide (1759)- cheeky enough to feel modern to this day- probably due to the fact that quality is unsurpassed!

"After passing over heaps of dead or dying men, the first place he came to was a neighboring village, in the Abarian territories, which had been burned to the ground by the Bulgarians, agreeably to the laws of war. Here lay a number of old men covered with wounds, who beheld their wives dying with their throats cut, and hugging their children to their breasts, all stained with blood. There several young virgins, whose bodies had been ripped open, after they had satisfied the natural necessities of the Bulgarian heroes, breathed their last; while others, half-burned in the flames, begged to be dispatched out of the world. The ground about them was covered with the brains, arms, and legs of dead men."

graphic description of violence in a sort of naive realistic fashion, ignoring fashionable narrative.. probably reflection re: pointless slaughterof pop during thirty years war..

now THAT is special!



original lyrics that go with the above:

As they drew near the town they saw a Negro stretched on the ground with only one half of his habit, which was a kind of linen frock; for the poor man had lost his left leg and his right hand.

"Good God," said Candide in Dutch, "what dost thou here, friend, in this deplorable condition?"

"I am waiting for my master, Mynheer Vanderdendur, the famous trader," answered the Negro.

"Was it Mynheer Vanderdendur that used you in this cruel manner?"

"Yes, sir," said the Negro; "it is the custom here. They give a linen garment twice a year, and that is all our covering. When we labor in the sugar works, and the mill happens to snatch hold of a finger, they instantly chop off our hand; and when we attempt to run away, they cut off a leg. Both these cases have happened to me, and it is at this expense that you eat sugar in Europe; and yet when my mother sold me for ten patacoons on the coast of Guinea, she said to me, 'My dear child, bless our fetishes; adore them forever; they will make thee live happy; thou hast the honor to be a slave to our lords the whites, by which thou wilt make the fortune of us thy parents.'

"Alas! I know not whether I have made their fortunes; but they have not made mine; dogs, monkeys, and parrots are a thousand times less wretched than I. The Dutch fetishes who converted me tell me every Sunday that the blacks and whites are all children of one father, whom they call Adam. As for me, I do not understand anything of genealogies; but if what these preachers say is true, we are all second cousins; and you must allow that it is impossible to be worse treated by our relations than we are."




above: candide gets busted making out with the baron's daughter (chapter 1 - How Candide Was Brought Up in a Magnificent Castle and How He Was Driven Thence)

On her way back she happened to meet the young man; she blushed, he blushed also; she wished him a good morning in a flattering tone, he returned the salute, without knowing what he said. The next day, as they were rising from dinner, Cunegund and Candide slipped behind the screen. The miss dropped her handkerchief, the young man picked it up. She innocently took hold of his hand, and he as innocently kissed hers with a warmth, a sensibility, a grace-all very particular; their lips met; their eyes sparkled; their knees trembled; their hands strayed. The Baron chanced to come by; he beheld the cause and effect, and, without hesitation, saluted Candide with some notable kicks on the breech and drove him out of doors. The lovely Miss Cunegund fainted away, and, as soon as she came to herself, the Baroness boxed her ears.

pleasing essay about voltaire and pre-revolution france.

Every fraud was practiced under the guise of religion, and practiced with profit. Every crime that furthered the ends of the church was commended, or at least condoned. Every effort to crush those who protested was applauded. Freedom of discussion was prohibited. Intellectual life was decaying for want of expression and for lack of the sunlight of approval. Superstition was not only rampant; the very atmosphere was so laden with it that the people breathed it into their very being. Truly every man was afraid of his shadow. Every clap of thunder was an ominous warning, and every bolt of lightning, a flash of anger and vengeance.

Saints were multiplied and their bodies were sold in bits; each piece was highly treasured as separately efficacious. Their bones, teeth, eyelashes, and hair were of potent medicinal value.


biography here
ZNet Commentary
Prisoners' Dilemma May 09, 2004
By Mickey Z

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power
to make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire


As if it were a force of nature, we're often advised, "war is hell,"
and corporate media spin is designed to hide exactly who puts the hell in
war. On a website dedicated to the 1960s television comedy series
"Hogan's Heroes," one particular episode was described as follows: "Knowing
the Allies won't bomb a POW camp, the Germans stash an experimental
rocket-bomb in Stalag 13. London sends an Allied scientist to photograph
and sabotage the bomb. To distract Klink, the heroes arrange for him to
be named Kommandant of the Year."

"The Allies won't bomb a POW camp."

That statement goes a long way in illustrating the influence of
propaganda. (Then again, so does a popular comedy about a Nazi POW camp.) The
writers of "Hogan's Heroes" took for granted that no one would
challenge the proposition that America and its allies fight fair.

Based on the response to the recent Iraqi prisoner scandal, many today
apparently still take that proposition for granted. Why else would the
photos shown on "60 Minutes II" remotely surprise anyone? (For example,
one need only look at the treatment of the two million behind bars
right here in America to grasp how the "good guys" behave under such
conditions.)

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assures
us: "It is not systematic. And it's really a shame that just a handful
can besmirch, maybe, the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our
soldiers and sailors, airmen, and Marines."

President (sic) Bush adds: "I share a deep disgust that those prisoners
were treated the way they were treated. Their treatment does not
reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in
America."

We (and men like Myers and Bush) are trained to see our (sic) soldiers
as heroes (Pat Tillman, anyone?) and when one of those heroes slips up,
well, we're also taught that in every military intervention, there will
be cases where the good guys are left with no choice but to fight fire
with fire. Perhaps the most notorious example was an unnamed U.S.
major, quoted by Associated Press on February 8, 1968. Asked about the U.S.
assault on the Vietnamese town of Bentre, the major explained, "It
became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it."

Like the reluctant parent who informs their bare-bottomed offspring
that the consequent spanking will hurt them more than the child, the U.S.
is sometimes forced to punish those who simply won't roll over in the
face of superior force. The propaganda machine tells us: During war,
even the U.S. has to sometimes play a little rough and, yes, our heroes
might get their hands a little dirty...in the name of freedom, of course.
How else can we deal with evil? We didn't want things to get out of
hand: the devil made U.S. do it.

The template of dehumanizing enemies and exploiting that subhuman
status to commit atrocities has facilitated a policy of unremitting foreign
entanglements (along with indigenous extermination and ethnic-based
enslavement). Thanks to relentless propaganda, there are now many who
readily accept-and will often encourage-iniquitous U.S. behavior in the
military theater of operations.

General Myers says abuse of prisoners is not systematic. The record
tells us otherwise...and even when Americans fight each other, inhumane
travesties proliferate. During the Civil War, historian Kenneth C. Davis
explains, "prisoner of war camps were among the most tragic and
inhumane disgraces of the war." Of the 45,000 prisoners at one particular
Confederate camp in Andersonville, Georgia, 13,000 died from summer heat,
disease, and inadequate food and medical supplies.

"Hogan's Heroes," it wasn't.

Union soldier Henry Hernbaker was captured at Gettysburg and taken to
Andersonville. He wrote of being kept under a "scorching hot sun"
without cover. "The whole upper surface of our feet would become blistered
and hen would break," Hernbaker reported. "The amputations would average
as many as six per day, and I saw not a single instance of recovery
from them."

Andersonville was overseen by Henry Wirz, who was heard to claim he
killed "more damn Yankees with his treatment" than the army was with
"powder and lead." Wirz later became the only Confederate solider executed
by the Union after the war.

Conditions in the North were no better. The Union camp in Elmira, New
York housed just over 12,000 Confederate prisoners of which nearly 3000
died from inhumane conditions. The camp was nicknamed "Hellmira."

Some 40 years later, in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the
U.S. fought a brutal war of conquest in the Pacific. By 1900, more than
75,000 American troops-three-quarters of the entire U.S. Army-were sent
to the Philippines. In the face of this overwhelming show of force, the
Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare. The February 5, 1901 edition of
the New York World shed some light on the U.S. response to guerilla
tactics:


"Our soldiers here and there resort to terrible measures with the
natives. Captains and lieutenants are sometimes judges, sheriffs, and
executioners. 'I don't want any more prisoners sent into Manila' was the
verbal order from the Governor-General three months ago. It is now the
custom to avenge the death of an American soldier by burning to the ground
all the houses, and killing right and left the natives who are only
suspects."

In an eerie presaging of Vietnam's hamlets and of more recent efforts
in Iraq, Filipino villagers were herded into concentration camps called
"reconcentrados."

Captive Filipino soldiers and civilians alike were submitted to the
"water cure." According to the Philippine-American War Centennial
Initiative, this method consisted of "forcing four or five gallons of water
down the throat of the captive whose body becomes an object frightful to
contemplate, and then squeezing it by kneeling on his stomach. The
process was repeated until the 'amigo' talked or died."

If those amigos struck back, the U.S. was ready to up the ante. When a
U.S. platoon was wiped out in an ambush, Brigadier General Jacob W.
Smith, a veteran of the Wounded Knee massacre (when the U.S. Army killed
an estimated 300 Lakota men, women, and children), issued orders to kill
"all persons of 10 years and older."

"I want no prisoners, I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill
and burn the better it will please me," Smith declared. "I want all
persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against
the United States."

A century later, George W. Bush condones war crimes while John Kerry
admits he "committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other
soldiers...committed" in Vietnam.

In other words, this is about a systematic as it gets.

(This article is excerpted from "The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the
Lies Behind War Propaganda" by Mickey Z.-to be published by Common
Courage Press in June. Mickey Z. can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.)

7.5.04

Two interesting articles from The Guardian, sorry for slagging them off the other day...

Torture as pornography The pictures of American soldiers humiliating Iraqi detainees are reminiscent of sadomasochistic porn, says military historian Joanna Bourke. And we should not be surprised

Friday May 7, 2004, The Guardian

Viewed as the inevitable result of men's sexual urges (the "animal in man"), sexual humiliation and the violation of prisoners of war was viewed as a military problem only when it directly threatened the conduct of war or the reputation of an imposing power. As General Patton predicted during the second world war, "There would unquestionably be some raping." It was "a little R&R" for the personnel. Factors facilitating other forms of atrocity facilitated rape. Uniforms provided anonymity. Potential victims were dehumanised; perpetrators deindividualised. In military conflicts, the penis was explicitly coded as a weapon.

What is particularly interesting in these photographs of abuse coming out of Iraq is the prominent role played by Lynndie England. A particular strand of feminist theory - popularised by Sheila Brownmiller and Andrea Dworkin - attempts to argue that the male body is inherently primed to rape. Their claim that only men are rapists, rape fantasists or beneficiaries of the rape culture cannot be sustained in the face of blatant examples of female perpetrators of sexual violence. In these photographs the penis itself becomes a trophy. Women can also use sex as power, to humiliate and torture.

However much the American secretary for state may wish to discourage the use of the word "torture", there is no other word that can describe these acts. In torture and other extreme forms of abuse, the infliction of pain and shame does not necessarily aim at extracting information. Beatings, humiliating rites and verbal insults are often used to make prisoners describe acts or reveal names already known to the police or military. Often, the questions are of little practical value to the torturers and the regime. The redundant interrogations are frequently accompanied by the demand that prisoners sign a document, declaring that they have seen the errors of their ways. The apparent futility of these demands indicates the nature of the torturers' enterprise. They want to destroy the victim's sense of identity.

The evil of torture is not restricted to wanton violence inflicted on the body. Many types of extreme pain and physical suffering, whether in war, during acts of religious martyrdom, or simply as a result of poor health, are endured with dignity and patience. The evil of torture lies elsewhere: it denies its victim the minimum recognition offered by society and law and, in doing so, it destroys the respect people routinely expect from others. More importantly, torture aims to undermine the way the victim relates to his or her own self, and thus threatens to dissolve the mainsprings of an individual's personality. Torture is an embodied violation of another individual. The sexual nature of these acts shows that the torturers realise the centrality of sexuality for their victims' identity. The perpetrators in these photographs aim to destroy their victim's sense of self by inflicting and recording extreme sexual humiliation. As in Jean Améry's description of being tortured by the Nazis, sexual violation is so devastating not because of the physical agony suffered so much as by the realisation that the other people present are impervious to the victim. Torture destroys "trust in the world . . . Whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world."

The display of cruel pleasure taken in punishing Iraqi prisoners has reverberated throughout the world, confirming in many countries the negative stereotype of westerners as decadent and sexually obsessed. Many people have questioned the motives and conduct of the war in Iraq, but these pornographic images have stripped bare what little force remained in the humanitarian rhetoric concerning the war. In the Arab world, the damage has been done, and is irrevocable.

· Joanna Bourke is professor of history at Birkbeck College London and author of An Intimate History of Killing (Granta). She is currently working on a book about rapists in the 19th and 20th century.

...............................................................................................................................................................................................

What the US papers don't say

Michael Hann examines the air of secrecy and silence surrounding the US media's treatment of George Bush's 'war on terror'

Friday April 30, 2004

American contractors and soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners in a prison outside Baghdad? A huge story, by anyone's standards, surely, especially when pictures of the abuse were broadcast on the US TV network CBS.
So it was no surprise that newspapers around the world made huge, horrified play of the events at the Abu Ghraib prison. It was more of a surprise, however, that the story did not receive the same level of coverage in the US papers.


Haiti's Disappeared - super article

"Returning to Haiti last month, I found a US. occupation not unlike that in Iraq, but one of which very few Americans are aware. A month after I returned from Haiti, and two months after the U.S. forced out the elected President and a so-called "multinational force" occupied the country, Haiti is in worse turmoil, with far more political repression than it has seen since the junta of 1991-1994."

[....]

"A violent repression is going on that approaches the level of the last coup - 3000-5000 over three years. Several delegations of U.S. solidarity leaders and human rights lawyers have documented and denounced this on-going repression - among them the Quixote Emergency Observer Delegation of which I was part, the EPICA (Ecumenical Program in Central America and the Caribbean) delegation, the National Lawyers' Guild delegation, the Black Lawyers' Association delegation, and the first Amnesty International delegation since the coup. These are the first serious attempts to investigate and document human rights violations in Haiti since Feb. 29. (See Let Haiti Live "Human Rights Report," May 1, 2004 - www.haitireborn.org) Their indictment of the "de facto" government for its failure to investigate such cases and its apparent complicity with the perpetrators is scathing."

[....]

The George W. Bush regime has learned to do "coups right," or as some have parodied, "coup lite." CIA support for the FRAPH and training for the Haitian military junta have been well-documented under the first George Bush (see Alan Nairn, The Nation, April 24, 1994). But the U.S. under Clinton was divided about a coup clearly approved by his predecessor. When Clinton inherited this policy, his liberal allies became squeamish about swaggering tyrants who terrorized the poor and profited from the drug trade and elite payoffs. The U.S. did not manage that coup very well. The results went out of control.

This time around, the U.S. has learned many lessons. U.S. handlers micro-manage every facet of the "new reality" in Haiti - including massive sweeps of Lavalas neighborhoods on the one hand, and the Hollywood style "surrender" of the fascist, Jodel Chamblain, on the other. Chamblain was cheered by his supporters, as he tearfully surrendered - shedding his camouflage flak jacket for a neat gray suit - in the presence of U.S. military and the interim justice minister. Prime Minister Latortue called him and other FRAPH members "freedom fighters" while visiting Gonaives (site of the first atrocities by the self-styled rebels). Now Chamblain is promised a new trial - despite two internationally acclaimed convictions for murder and massacre. The interim government also raised the likelihood that Chamblain and others will be pardoned, because of their "contributions" to democracy recently! Bush and his minions are talented in Orwell's "double-speak: war is peace; justice is impunity for the guys on our side."

"Haiti should be a learning zone for all Americans who would understand and counter an imperial U.S. policy of intervention world-wide. If the U.S. can get away with covert and overt support for a "rebellion" in Haiti led by former military and para-military, many of whom have been convicted of murders and other human rights violations dating to the last coup, it will be psyched for similar operations in Venezuela and perhaps even in Cuba. "
**** And in mid March, when Harvard president Lawrence A. Summers made a "Personal Choice" appearance — finally accepting his third formal invitation — Palmer wasn’t exactly deferential, introducing him as "influential" rather than "accomplished" (as Summers himself so duly noted) and MCing tough student questions. "This is quite unlike any other experience I’ve had since I came to the university," Summers remarked at one point.

"Noam Chomsky wrote to me afterwards that he was impressed by my independent ways in a situation where it would’ve been profitable to bow deeply," said Palmer hesitantly. "And I was reminded of an Indonesian peasant adage that anthropologists had written of: ‘When the great lord passes by, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.’" The class roared with laughter and later gave him a standing ovation.

"In some ways, the course is consciously un-Harvard, even a touch anti-Harvard, " admits Palmer. " It challenges the emphasis on competition — education as a means to find one’s way to the top of our competitive society. " He adds, " I’m more interested in the larger world than in simply the Harvard community. The university will spit me out like a used piece of chewing gum sooner or later. "


**** "During his speech, Bove twice compared President George W. Bush to serial killer "Son of Sam." Throughout the speech, he also made numerous comparisons of neo-conservatism to neo-Nazis, and neo-conservatism to actual fascism. Perhaps predictably, Bove also quoted Vladmir Lenin during the question answer session, to a smiling, self-identified neo-Marxist UCSB religious studies professor in the audiance. Taxpayers, believe it or not - this is what your hard earned money is paying for!"

"students for academic freedom" vastly entertaining read: students denouncing lecturers for adding upsetting truths to syllabus, classed by type of offence. futuristic right-wing organising. learn how the slimey proto-corporate in that seminar feels when confronted with content.. how did i laugh!

>> I write the things down in my notebook that he says so that I could eventually report them to someone. "To guillotine aristocrats, now THAT'S a war." [that's what i say! wow!] (He makes many little comments about the war in Iraq, but to him a real war is to murder the rich, which is the context in which this was said). [...] Dr. Thiher makes references to capitalists who want to exploit the earth. Another time, the windows in the classroom were open and there was a helicopter going by overhead. He began to make jokes that they were going to occupy our campus (like Iraq) and made gestures having to do with guns once again. I have dates and times for all of the above, along with fellow students in my class to verify that he did infact say and do all of the above and more. Also, the material that we cover in this class has been of the anti-religious nature, and of the self-discovery era. We are now reading a novel about a homosexual man.

>> Another typical example of Dr Flacks 'teaching' methods occured on the first week of class, when he called upon students to identify who Sean Hannity was. When one student raised his hand (stating that he is a FoxNews analyst/broadcaster), Dr Flacks rendered his judgement by the tone of his voice alone. "Do you actually WATCH him?" the professor increduously asked. Courageously the student admitted to occassionally watching his show, after which the professor predictably went off on a tirade about how bigoted a person Hannity is.

>> Description of Complaint: Took issue with the truth that corporate influence in politics is a benevolent enhancement of the democratic process.

etc- enjoy!


**** In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (ie those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France or whoever the legions of the antichrist turn out to be.

[...]

We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans.

6.5.04

The Memory Hole "Rescuing knowledge, freeing information"... has pictures of torture in US prisons in Iraq... and lots of other stories you definitely shouldn't read.

Also: there's a Memory Blog

And from the site's "Cold Shouldered Story of the Week" Archive:

Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq Mark Benjamin, United Press International, 3/12/2004

The Army appears to have "inappropriately" deployed soldiers to Iraq who already were diagnosed with mental problems, according to documents obtained by United Press International.

More than two dozen suicides by U.S. troops in Iraq, and hundreds of medical evacuations for psychiatric problems, have raised concerns about the mental health of soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom. An Army Medical Department after-action report obtained by UPI suggests that the Army sent some soldiers to war who were mentally unfit in the first place.

...hmmmm...
Disney blocks Michael Moore film on Bush links with leading Saudis

Gary Younge in New York, The Guardian, Thursday May 6, 2004

The Disney company is blocking distribution of Michael Moore's forthcoming film, Fahrenheit 911, which exposes the links between George Bush and prominent Saudis.
Mr Moore's agent said Disney had pulled out because its involvement could jeopardise tax breaks the company receives from the state of Florida, where Mr Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor. Disney claims it does not want to be associated with the film because it risks politically alienating too many people. more

It is for articles like this that Adbusters media analysis describes the Guardian as "the only credible lefty rag"... The Guardian is probably the best British mainstream paper, but from Collective Lounge headquarters they do not seem very 'lefty' 'credible' or like a 'rag'. Last time I flicked through the slick weekend supplement laden with adverts and recipes for partridge foccacia with blueberry coulis...

More popolitics from Adbusters, A timeline of US Military Interventions around the world.

If you can handle the truth have a look at these photos from Iraq (not pretty), but also not more prisoner torture photos either

5.5.04

Half of terror suspects are freed without any charges
By Jason Bennetto, in the Independent, 30 April 2004

Half of the people arrested in Britain for suspected terrorism offences since the 11 September attacks in 2001 have been released without charge. Fewer than a fifth of the 572 people detained were charged with terrorism offences, with the rest facing criminal trials or being accused of breaking immigration laws. more

Man U bomb plot probe ends in farce
Tariq Panja and Martin Bright, The Observer, May 2

Tickets to a Manchester United game found during anti-terrorist raids sparked fears of a suicide attack on Old Trafford. But they were for an old match and had been kept as souvenirs by the suspects, who were fans of the club.

The revelation will lead to further criticism of the operation which led to the arrest of 10 people by armed Greater Manchester police in dawn raids last month. All have since been released without charge.

The botched operation will also raise questions about the national anti-terrorist strategy of 'disruption'. The controversial policy is designed to unsettle terror cells working within immigrant communities in Britain by carrying out sweeps of arrests which are not necessarily designed to lead to charges. Many Muslim leaders now believe disruption is beginning to alienate communities from the police. more from the observer

Nobody seems to know more about the Iraqi Kurds detained withaout any real evidence, just some out of date tickets... seems like they were just fans. The policy seems to be an arrest and deport policy leading to deportations for immigration irregularities, and further alienation of ethnic minorities rather than effective anti terror action.

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities said that they did not know anything further about the case. They put forward the immigration/intimidation line... pointing to a North African man who was deported after the raids.

Analysis and statistics about Terror legislation from Statewatch

2.5.04

clash of civilization(s)?

* freedom

"Despite having been held at gunpoint, threatened with knives and held captive for nine days, two Japanese men who were kidnapped in Iraq expressed sympathy for their captors yesterday, calling them soldiers and resistance fighters."


* boredom

"[Detainees] at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were threatened with rape, beaten with a broom handle and a chair, and had the phosphoric liquid from chemical lights poured over them. One detainee is said to have been sodomised with an object, while military working dogs were used to intimidate detainees."
the people from postanalytic.com publish first issue of naked punch magazine

"The context in which the idea to publish Naked Punch was first spawned was that of the Postanalytic Group, a mainly philosophical collective of young thinkers in London. The group first formed to challenge the current philosophical hegemony at the University of London , but rapidly grew into something beyond that, becoming less and less interested in what was being taught in the lecture rooms in London and more focused on what ideas it could bring into existence itself.

During the weekly meetings of the group in the first part of 2004, various topics were dealt with, but the issue of nihilism occupied a particularly central role, and this discourse on nihility generated a good amount of interesting material. There was the suggestion that we should publish some of these ideas in written form, and we set out to do so.

But since the Postanalytics have always been interested in more than philosophy, or rather, believed that many other forms of expression can do similar things to what philosophy can do, we did not want to turn this into a strictly philosophical journal. Rather, we looked for other writers and artists whose thoughts and works occupy the same level as the philosophy that has been investigated by the Postanalytics, that of a radically questioning position which does not see theory and practice as divided."

1.5.04

Good roundup of up to date eyewitness news from Iraq

Iraq Indymedia

Who Owns the media? Chart
Shock Horror - Soldiers Act Violently just what do people think goes on in war? It is basically inevitable that if we invade Iraq, several Iraqis heads are going to get caved in and pissed on by confused, angry, brainwashed, tooled up British/US meatheads. Why are people under such illusion that war is this clean, just, surgical thing where the bad elements get neatly cut out? War is always messy and horrible and always brings out the sadist in young men and women exposed to these horrors. It rarely brings democracy and always brings the worst form of 'anarchy', where guns + meaness = power.

Report of British Torture in The Mirror
________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is the "rapture" and when will it happen?

The rapture is an event that will take place sometime in the near future. Jesus will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return to Heaven with the Church. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we are given a clear description of the rapture: "the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord."

The main thrust of this web site is to prove that the rapture will occur prior to the beginning of the tribulation. This has been well researched and documented throughout the site. But, whether Jesus returns for the Church before, during, or after the tribulation, the primary goal is that all people are ready to face the Lord and give an account for their lives.

Truly weird and scary US religious nutters...

Monbiot reports

We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans. The best-selling contemporary books in the US are the 12 volumes of the Left Behind series, which provide what is usually described as a "fictionalised" account of the Rapture (this, apparently, distinguishes it from the other one), with plenty of dripping details about what will happen to the rest of us. The people who believe all this don't believe it just a little; for them it is a matter of life eternal and death.

And among them are some of the most powerful men in America. John Ashcroft, the attorney general, is a true believer, so are several prominent senators and the House majority leader, Tom DeLay. Mr DeLay (who is also the co-author of the marvellously named DeLay-Doolittle Amendment, postponing campaign finance reforms) travelled to Israel last year to tell the Knesset that "there is no middle ground, no moderate position worth taking".

So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of the current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men". They batter down the doors of the White House as soon as its support for Israel wavers: when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian fundamentalists, and never mentioned the matter again.

The electoral calculation, crazy as it appears, works like this. Governments stand or fall on domestic issues. For 85% of the US electorate, the Middle East is a foreign issue, and therefore of secondary interest when they enter the polling booth. For 15% of the electorate, the Middle East is not just a domestic matter, it's a personal one: if the president fails to start a conflagration there, his core voters don't get to sit at the right hand of God. Bush, in other words, stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli aggression than he stands to lose by restraining it. He would be mad to listen to these people. He would also be mad not to.

see the whole article

In lighter news....

Tony in new "cool" smear - may have come into close proximity to "funny shaped cigarettes".