by William Blum
Captain Ahab had his Moby Dick. Inspector Javert had his Jean Valjean. The United States has its Fidel Castro. Washington also has its Daniel Ortega. For 27 years, the most powerful nation in the world has found it impossible to share the Western Hemisphere with one of its poorest and weakest neighbors, Nicaragua, if the country's leader was not in love with capitalism.
From the moment the Sandinista revolutionaries overthrew the US-supported Somoza dictatorship in 1979, Washington was concerned about the rising up of that long-dreaded beast -- "another Cuba". This was war. On the battlefield and in the voting booths. For almost 10 years, the American proxy army, the Contras, carried out a particularly brutal insurgency against the Sandinista government and its supporters. In 1984, Washington tried its best to sabotage the elections, but failed to keep Sandinista leader Ortega from becoming president. And the war continued.
In 1990, Washington's electoral tactic was to hammer home the simple and clear message to the people of Nicaragua: If you re-elect Ortega all the horrors of the civil war and America's economic hostility will continue. Just two months before the election, in December 1989, the United States invaded Panama for no apparent reason acceptable to international law, morality, or common sense (The United States naturally called it "Operation Just Cause"); one likely reason it was carried out was to send a clear message to the people of Nicaragua that this is what they could expect, that the US/Contra war would continue and even escalate, if they re-elected the Sandinistas.
It worked; one cannot overestimate the power of fear, of murder, rape, and your house being burned down. Ortega lost, and Nicaragua returned to the rule of the free market, striving to roll back the progressive social and economic programs that had been undertaken by the Sandinistas. Within a few years widespread malnutrition, wholly inadequate access to health care and education, and other social ills, had once again become a widespread daily fact of life for the people of Nicaragua.
by Mickey Z.
A casual stroll through most major U.S. cities would provide ample opportunity to encounter numerous stickers, buttons, t-shirts, and windo signs bearing anti-war messages. Well, maybe not exactly "anti-war," but more like: anti-THIS-war. There's been some version of a peace movement inAmerica for over a century, but far too many of those speaking out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq are not strictly "anti-war." From what I can tell,more than a few of them have absolutely no problem with: wars started by their (sic) party and/or wars that the U.S. easily wins (sic).
by Craig Murray,
As the catastrophe in Iraq continues to unfold, an unresolved question remains on the role of Bush, Blair, and the US/UK military. To what extent were they passively incompetent in facilitating the decline into civil war, and to what extent were they actively pursuing policies that promoted that outcome?
The adoption of the 'Salvador Option' by the US in Iraq was reported and discussed from the beginning of 2005 onwards. As described by Newsweek, the Salvador Option looked something like this:
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.
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by William Blum
The jingo bells are ringing
"Who really poses the greatest danger to world peace: Iraq, North Korea or the United States?" asked Time magazine in an online poll in early 2003, shortly before the US invasion of Iraq. The final results were: North Korea 6.7%, Iraq 6.3%, the United States 86.9%; 706,842 total votes cast.
Imagine that following North Korea's recent underground nuclear test neither the United States nor any other government cried out that the sky was falling. No threat to world peace and security was declared by the White House or any other house. It was thus not the lead story on every radio and TV broadcast and newspaper page one. The UN Security Council did not unanimously condemn it. Nor did NATO. "What should we do about him?" was not America Online's plaintive all-day headline alongside a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Who would have known about the explosion, even if it wasn't baby-sized? Who would have cared? But because all this fear mongering did in fact take place, www.vote.com was able to pose the question -- "North Korea's Nuclear Threat: Is It Time For An International Economic Blockade To Make Them Stop?" -- and hence compile a 93% "yes" vote. It doesn't actually take too much to win hearts and mindless. Media pundit Ben Bagdikian once wrote: "While it is impossible for the media to tell the population what to think, they do tell the public what to think about."
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
"The electro shocks are administered without warning. This process is called 'loosening up'. When the person is screaming constantly between the shocks, the interrogators start talking to him in Arabic"
Memo by former British Army Officer Peter Wright, Recording Testimony of US Army Officer John Peirce, US Army Airfield Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany
The Death of Democracy. CIA-style.
It's here folks. And it's official.
The final nail in the coffin comes with the instituting of the Military Commissions Act 2006, yet another draconian piece of anti-terrorism legislation that grants the US government almost absolute jurisdiction to act as judge, jury and executioner in the "War on Terror".
It's safe to say that, thanks to this and previous legislative attempts to consolidate unchecked state-power, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been well and truly chain-saw massacred, by a "national security" bureaucracy intent on protecting its already stupendous ability to do exactly what it likes, regardless of the rule of law, democracy, or any of the other values and principles that are supposed to have been the prizes of western civilization.
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by Tom Chartier
Well, now that we have established a Democratic Dictatorship there seems to be some confusion. This is America! Constitutional Monarchy? It canâ€™t happen here! We learned that in the third grade.
It has happened here! With the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, America has its very first bona fide dictator! The Silver Spoon Kid from Texas has made good. Yee ha! Ride â€˜em cowboy! Oops, excuse me, that phrase best fits Rep. Mark Foley.
Sadly, not all seem to be hot for Hitler-nouveau. Iâ€™m certainly displeased and plan to write a strongly worded letter to my Congressman. Fact is, Iâ€™m mad as Hell. I like to think that the U.S. is still a Democratic Republic! Well folks, the times they are a changinâ€™ and not in a good way. Donâ€™t people read or follow the news, beyond FOX infotainment? Never mind answering that question. Itâ€™s rhetorical.
Maybe what we have here is a failure to communicate. We need a refresher course on how to Spot A Dictator! Itâ€™s a lot like the old Monty Python skit Spot The Loony but the prizes you win (and lose) are a whole lot more serious.
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by Paul Lehto
Habeas corpus -- it's your most fundamental legal right, your right to
go to a court and get an order requiring the government to prove that
it is holding you in prison with proper legal authority to do so.
Without that right, one necessarily lives in a dictatorship. President
Bush today on October 17, 2006 signed a bill repealing that law,
meaning that the administration need not comply or show compliance with
law any more with regard to who goes to prison or Gitmo.
While it supposedly applies just to terrorism cases, that doesn't prevent it from ending the rule of law in the United States for our newly all-powerful Executive. This is true not just because terrorism is construed so broadly in the prohibition of "material support" for terrorism (which by the way has already been held to include a lawyer's press release on behalf of a terrorist client) but because the administration NEED NOT PROVE IT'S REALLY TERRORISM because they don't need to answer to any court in the land at any time.
by Manuel Valenzuela
twenty five million Iraqis hell on Earth has been introduced to their
land by the demons roaming the halls of American power that care not an
ounce for the misery and wickedness now roaming like a vulture over
human evil has been imported into the Cradle of Civilization, an export
birthed, nurtured and molded by Old Glory itself, under the watchful
eyes of Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington, crafted by debasement and
corruption, becoming the most successful product launch America has
sent abroad in many, many years.
For the war culture has
perfected the art of sadistic mass murder, a new edition introduced
like a software program, resurrected every few decades to enrich war
profiteers and greed mongers while making comfortable the lives of
those residing inside the belly of the beast. Like a
virus the American angel of death has spread far and wide, free of
antidotes or miracle cures, given the freedom that is denied Iraqis,
like a haze enveloping almost every city and town, village and farm,
infecting madness and hatred and vengeance and anger into the minds of
millions, injecting civil war upon Iraq and genocide upon the Iraqi
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by Chris Cook
Though there are a myriad of reasons Canadians should have a quick end to the public service career of Mr. Harper - his personality, arrogant disregard of both Canadian tradition and sensibilities, and his cosy relationship with the Republican regime to the south leap immediately to mind - three recent â€œinitiativesâ€ are enough to sink the bastardized, remnant Conservative Party, and in so doing turn back too the latest and greatest threat to her sovereign survival Canada has faced yet in two centuries of resistance to American expansionist designs.
(Indeed, the very showiness of Bush's pledge of support â€“ in a phone call supposedly initiated by Bush, then announced to the media â€“ is a good indication of the decapitation to come. As JFK once told Gore Vidal: "When a politician says to you, 'Jack, if there's anything I can do for you, just let me know,' that means you're dead." And Maliki â€“ installed in a Bush-backed internal party coup that toppled the previous prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was himself once a recipient of similar pledges of staunch White House support â€“ is a dead man walking.)
The chief reason why Maliki and his government will be ousted is not the hell-storm of death and violence that is now devouring the country. The fact that every new day sees a hundred or more mutilated bodies dumped on the nation's streets, and pitched battles between sectarian militias, and multiple deaths of American troops, and mass flights of anguished Iraqi civilians running in fear for their lives is not a matter of any urgent concern to Bush and his warmakers. Indeed, there is much evidence that one of the prime instigators of the wanton killing is a group created and long nurtured by the Bush Administration itself: the Facilities Protection Service, an army of uniformed freebooters nearly 150,000 strong. (I'll be writing more on this later.) Of course, the violence is a political headache for the Bushists, because it generates bad press; but they don't care about it â€“ it has no intrinsic meaning or emotional impact on those who are already responsible for the deaths of more than half a million Iraqis and more than 2,700 Americans.
No, what will likely bring on the coup is the December deadline for crafting a new oil law, which was imposed on Iraq by the International Monetary Fund, as part of the deal to write off some â€“ but by no means all â€“ of the nation's crushing debt.
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by Mickey Z.
Thanks to the nuclear aspirations of North Korea and Iran, there's no shortage of rhetoric along these lines: "We can't let rogue nations have nukes. They might use them." Absent from the discussion are two elementary questions. First: What is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons (and have civilians been targeted)?
On August 6, 1945, the U.S. government ordered the dropping of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
A Tokyo radio broadcast describe how "the impact of the bomb was so terrific that practically all livin things, human and animal, were seared to death by the tremendous heat an pressure engendered by the blast." Tokyo radio went on to call Hiroshima city with corpses "too numerous to be counted...literally seared to death. It was impossible to "distinguish between men and women."
The Associated Press carried the first eyewitness account: a Japanese soldier who describe the victims as "bloated and scorched-such an awesome sight-their legs an bodies stripped of clothes and burned with a huge blister." After visitin the devastated city, Australian war correspondent, Wilfred Burchet described Hiroshima as a "death-stricken alien planet" with patient presenting purple skin hemorrhages, hair loss, drastically reduced white blood cell counts, fever, nausea, gangrene, and other symptoms of radiation disease he called an "atomic plague."Add a comment
By Ingmar Lee & Krista Roessingh
We are appealing for your immediate help to protect South India's
last significant herds of Wild Elephants! Please take a few moments to
familiarize yourselves with the predicament of these magnificent
Recent estimates of the number of Asian elephants (Elephus maximus)
remaining in the wild range from 35,000 at the low end to 50,000 at the
upper end. Asian elephants once ranged throughout most of Asia, but
their habitat has been reduced to isolated fragments, often with
boundaries that restrict traditional migrations and gene flow.
This expanding human settlement/wildland interface has lead to increased pressure on populations due to human-elephant conflicts ranging from poaching to crop-raiding and roadkills. The distribution of Asian elephant populations in India is well known but population estimates, ranging from 26,000 to 31,000 are up to 14 years out of date and many are based on less than rigorous data collection. Also, effective population sizes are lower due to selective poaching of males for ivory.
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