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December 26, 2010

Collateral Murder: The aftermath in Baghdad

Two unembedded reporters for Big Noise Films were in Baghdad--coincidentally, the day after the notorious Collateral Murder shootings occurred (and were caught on camera by the helicopter gunships doing the firing.) They prove conclusively that everything the US government has said about the infamous video from the gunships is a bald-faced lie. It's quite clear in this video that the Iraqi journalist killed in the shooting is no "armed insurgent", but a Reuters reporter talking on a cellphone. It's also clear that the van full of wounded children was just that, and not a suicide bomber or other insurgent. It shows that the soldiers knew full well what they were firing on; there was no "fog of war". The gunship pilot has to request permission before opening fire each time, and describes in detail what is going on in the street; he GETS that permission, no problem, in spite of the fact. Meaning, both the pilot and his base commander knew they were committing a war crime. And they still went right ahead and did it. "Bushmaster" and "Crazyhorse" are war criminals. Any questions?

Even more stunning is what these two unembedded documentarists found the next day in that same neighborhood. Iraqis eager to talk, to show that what had happened was an atrocity. They led the reporters straight to the burnt-out van that had been about to carry wounded children to hospital. You can still see the bloodstains on the seats. A clearer confirmation would be impossible to get; the Iraqis' version and that of the gunship tally point for point. Right down to the assertion that the US tanks drove over a body; the Apache helo's video confirms that, too.

Now, the whole world knows that the US government lies constantly, pathologically, and shamelessly. It lies its people into war, and then it lies even more about what goes on during the wars. Only reporters who aren't required to be shameless "Support the Troops" boosters can tell the truth...only they, and military leakers. If not for Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, this crime would never have come to light, and the Big Noise crew's confirming video of the aftermath might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

And this crime, as yet, remains unpunished. Apparently, Hopey has yet to change the BushCo rules of engagement from "anything goes" to "not so fast, fellas". This is NOT change I can believe in, nor anyone who voted for Obama as a candidate for peace. It makes even more of a mockery out of that pre-emptive Nobel prize than it already was.

November 29, 2010

Canada loves George Galloway!

Jason Kenney, of course, is still a no-show. But then, Jason Kenney isn't Canada.

And say, how did that disruption campaign to dress up pro-Israel shills as dirty fuckin' hippies turn out? Haven't heard a thing. Can I take it, then, that it was an Epic Fail? Bwahahahah.

November 24, 2010

Why is Jason Kenney afraid of this man?

George Galloway was in Calgary yesterday. He wanted to have a few polite words with Jason Kenney, who was responsible for debarring him from the country awhile back, on ridiculously specious grounds. As you can see, he's very polite, and he says nothing disagreeable here...unless, of course, you find the truth objectionable. As Jason Kenney undoubtedly does, or he would have let George Galloway in the first time. Galloway is far less obnoxious than the Coultergeist, who lies as easily as she breathes. And Jason Kenney had no problem with her, even though she is an open supporter of terrorism and likes to throw verbal bombs all the time.

So...why IS Jason Kenney afraid of George Galloway? Whom does peace threaten?

November 11, 2010

A Remembrance Day roundup

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I've already pretty much given my own take as to what this day means to me, so I'm gonna shut up about me and just point you to some others' thoughts instead...

TorontoEmerg has a nurse's take on another nurse's letter home at war's end in 1918. November 11 of that year gave us the date not only of the war's end, but of a day for the remembrance of war's costs. This letter is particularly sobering as its author has no time to rejoice about peace; she is already nursing the casualties of the "Spanish" influenza epidemic that followed on the heels of the war. A reminder that wars bring famine and pestilence in their wake. And that's as good a reason as any to work for peace. Be sure to read the last paragraph and take it to heart.

Uruknet, meanwhile, has a stark reminder that war is NOT over, and some don't want it to be. Of course, they're not the ones being killed. The extremely asymmetric casualty counts in the Israeli assault on Gaza should give us all a lot of pause. It's easy for the Israeli soldiers in the video to laugh; they're not the ones facing the terror of daily bombing. They're the ones doing it. And they seem to think it's some fantastically large fucking video game.

A Creative Revolution points out something else interesting: those who want wars most, aren't the ones fighting them. And their motives have fuck-all to do with freedom. (I'll just squeak up to add that we thank those who fought for our freedoms the best not by mouthing platitudes once a year, but by exercising those freedoms, daily, and putting the boots to apathy. In this way, we ALL become veteran freedom-fighters.)

Your Heart's on the Left has some forgotten history that deserves to be remembered: the connection between those who refused to fight imperialist wars, and the democratic revolutions of the immediate post-WWI era. There was a League Against War and Fascism operating during the 1930s, which made an active connection between the causes of freedom and democracy.

Also worth noting: the mealy-mouthed lip service of so-called antifascism during World War II. Those same mushmouths could have saved themselves a much bigger war if they'd supported the democratic, leftist-anarchist-Republican side in Spain, back when it counted. Had they done so, they could have thwarted Hitler and Mussolini before they started gobbling up turf. Instead, they actively criminalized the effort to aid the Spanish democrats, and let the fascists aid Franco unopposed. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and its Canadian sibling, the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, had to do their recruiting underground. A shameful, much-glossed-over chapter of our North American history.

Kirbycairo has a short, to-the-point bit on why we should all read Frantz Fanon, the great psychiatrist who diagnosed the pathology of the neocolonial mind. The last war fought on Canadian soil was that of 1812; every war we've been in since then has been either imperial or neocolonial. It's time to stop that insanity!

Ms. Magazine has a short but comprehensive piece on the other casualties of war: the homefolks, particularly wives and children of soldiers. Is it any wonder women are at the forefront of the struggle for peace? They have the most to lose, on every front.

And finally, the Wikipedia entry for the white peace poppy offers up some interesting nuggets: "The Royal British Legion has no official opinion on the wearing of white poppies, stating that it 'is a matter of choice, the Legion doesn't have a problem whether you wear a red one or a white one, both or none at all'." Quite the contrast to the Royal Canadian Legion's harsh anti-peace-poppy stance. But the last line alone is the best: "In 1986 British prime minister Margaret Thatcher expressed her 'deep distaste' for the symbol." Considering that the Milk Snatcher preferred war over negotiations when it came to the Malvinas, that's no surprise. Talking sensibly would have done nothing for her "Iron Lady" image. She just had to out-macho (and out-fascist) those hateful generals of the Argentine Junta, by gawd, and she did. More meaningless death ensued. And since to be damned by the devil is to be truly blessed, I think that's all the more reason for me to crave a white peace poppy to wear on this date next year.

November 9, 2010

This is what cowardice looks like

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Hey, Mike: I see what you did there. Perhaps you'd like the Indiana Attorney General's office to see it, too? That could certainly be arranged. What you did qualifies as cyberstalking under US law, just so you know:

The United States Communications Decency Act was a piece of legislation that imposed heavy punishments upon anyone who:

(i) in interstate or foreign communications -

(A) by means of telecommunications device knowingly -

(ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment request, suggestion, proposal, or other telecommunications which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.

(E) make repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication with a telecommunication device, during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication.

Emphasis added.

I see at least four points in there that apply to your pissy little tweet: Annoy, abuse, threaten or harass. That IS what you were trying to do, and don't you deny it.

Well, annoyed and harassed I may well be. I'm always disgusted when some titty-baby coward who doesn't even have the guts to debate me like a man goes around calling me a bitch behind my back. But threatened? By someone who can't even properly post the URL to my blog? Ha, ha, FAIL. My personal info is not publicly available, and even if it were, I doubt you'd have the skills to ferret it out.

And who are you planning to distribute it to? Your eight measly followers? Double-ha-ha-FAIL. I can pick up as many on any given day, and real ones, too. DECENT ones. In other words: Not like you. Maybe that's what's got your undescended testicles in a knot? Here's a sure-fire popularity-increasing tip: Try not being such a fucking asshole. You want women to like you? Don't go around calling them bitches. Man up and talk to them, to their faces, CIVILLY, even if you don't agree with what they're saying. If you can do that, there might be hope for you. But threatening to distribute their personal info, which you can't get, to stalkers? Just because you have a small penis? Dude, that's just childish. And pathetic. And oh yeah, ILLEGAL.

Go ahead, Mike, make my day. I dare ya. Got the cojones to comment now, or are you still gonna go the whiny passive-agressive, Angry Inch route?

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November 2, 2010

Peace or poppies? The ethical dilemma that shouldn't be

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"Soldiers and sailors and airmen, too
Fought for us across the sea;
Brave and unselfish, strong and true,
Keeping Canada free!
I'll wear a poppy on Remembrance Day
To show I'm proud of what they did for me..."

We sang that song in sixth grade, before I had any real idea how ironic it was. You see, both branches of my family were on the "wrong" side of the two World Wars, being Germans (the one in northern Germany, the other in the Serbian part of Yugoslavia). My family was NOT Canadian at the time, and freedom? Under Hitler? Pah. At best, non-Jewish Germans only thought they were free, or that they were fighting for their freedom (or whatever other bogus "noble" cause was in vogue). If there was one thing most Germans knew full well, it was that the war was NOT about anybody's freedom. It was a farce, a dirty joke, for anyone to claim that it had to do with that. I didn't know that at the time; I just sang along in the school assembly, blithe and unquestioning, when directed to do so.

And of course, I knew nothing about how the town of Kitchener, Ontario--home to one of Canada's largest ethnic-German populations--used to be called Berlin. Or about how Japanese Canadians were interned, for no reason other than being Japanese...and Canadian. If I had known those things, the whole "freedom" meme would have been easier for me to question. But of course they don't teach you things like that in Grade 6!

Seven years later, and several decades wiser, I went on to win second place in the provincial division of the Royal Canadian Legion essay contest, this time acknowledging my ironies, lamenting the futility of war, and adding that the purpose of war memorials should not be to glorify war, but to remind us not to make more of them. I'm still proud of that essay, which was what helped me to sort my mind out about war, and come down on the side of peace. My basic conclusion still stands.

And that was how I made my peace with the poppy.

Now I'm of two minds about wearing it again. This letter to the editors makes a cogent case for not wearing it:

World War I, of course, is not the only war in which Canadians fought and died, but the "they died to make us free" model seems equally inappropriate to Canadian participation in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the (so-called) Gulf War. World War II is a different matter - Hitler and Nazism were obvious evils which had to be eradicated. Even granting this, there are moral ambiguities associated with that war which we still have difficulty acknowledging.

In 1992, for instance, Brian and Terence McKenna made a documentary (The Valour and the Horror) which looked carefully at the bombing of German cities by Canadian aircrews. Although careful to praise the personal valour of individual airmen, the McKenna brothers pointed out that these bombs rarely hit military targets but did kill thousands of civilians.

Furthermore, they noted, the Allied command knew perfectly well that these bombs were missing military targets and killing civilians but continued the raids nevertheless, as a way of demoralizing hostile populations. Finally, the documentary suggested these mass killings contributed little if anything to winning the war. There was nothing new in any of this. Academic historians had been saying similar things for years - but nobody listens to academics. A documentary on the CBC was another matter.

The response to the McKenna brothers was electric. Although many veterans were glad someone had finally had the courage to challenge the official version of history, other veterans and many veterans groups throughout Canada uttered squeals of rage. They used their influence to spark a Senate investigation and the CBC was pressured (with some success) to define the documentary a "docudrama." In other words, it was fiction not history - in contrast of course to the sanitized version of history promoted by veterans organizations. It was a disgraceful episode in recent Canadian history.

If we want the future to be a better place, we must confront the horrors of the past, even if that includes horrors for which Canada (or the United States or Great Britain or any of the other official good guys) were responsible - and that means challenging all sanitized versions of history, even those that come masked beneath the emotionally charged image of a blood-red poppy.

Meanwhile, a British campaign resurrects an old idea, one that might just finally gain some traction in the age of the Internets, when buried history gets dug up again and dusted off:

The idea of decoupling Armistice Day , the red poppy and later Remembrance Day from their military culture dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.

A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies instead of 'Haig Fund' and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers.

The details of any discussion with the British Legion are unknown but as the centre of the red poppy displayed the 'Haig Fund' imprint until 1994 it was clearly not successful. A few years later the idea was again discussed by the Co-operative Women's Guild who in 1933 produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers. The following year the newly founded Peace Pledge Union joined the CWG in the distribution of the poppies and later took over their annual promotion

And here's an irony: The same Royal Canadian Legion who saw merit in my ambivalent essay, and who also claim with a straight face that the poppy represents those who died for our freedom...have tried to ban the free-speech gesture that is the white poppy!

Remind me of what all that warring and dying was for, again?

I would love to wear a white poppy. I think it's the perfect gesture: Honor the dead, by speaking for life and peace. But I live in a fairly conservative town, where the white poppy campaign has yet to reach. I can't see our Royal Canadian Legion branch selling them anytime soon; their official position is apparently still stuck somewhere around the same level as that sixth-grade jingle.

And I'm not the kind of person who stands on street corners selling things, braving ignorant people's abuses alone.

So here I am again, stuck on the horns of the same old dilemma: Peace or poppies?

How about peace AND poppies?

Sigh.

Guess I'll throw some coins in the box and fish out the old red poppy yet again...and pin a peace button right next to it, just so people know why I'm really wearing that thing. And if anyone wants to argue that it's an insult, I'll point to both and remind them that we peaceniks fight this fight so their loved ones don't have to go die for someone else's arrogance all over again.

October 25, 2010

Congratulations, Team America World Police!

It's been only eight long years of illegal captivity and torture, and finally, you wrung a "confession" out of your designated scapegoat, poor, brainwashed Omar Khadr, he of the batshit-crazy fundie-Islamist family. Feel proud!

Meanwhile, here's a little song, which I'm sure you won't comprehend in the least:

Fair trial? What the fuck is that? Apparently, a thing of the past.

PS: I was saying...?

October 5, 2010

Dear Jason Kenney...

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Recently, I and many other Canadians petitioned to allow US war resisters to stay in Canada. Well, today, a certain Conservative snotball who somehow became immigration minister decided to throw the following all over us:

You have all emailed or written me at some point to express your views on the issue of US military deserters and recent legislation to give them a special pathway for permanent residency.

As you may know, with bipartisan support from Michael Ignatieff's Liberal Party caucus, the government succeeded in defeating the Bill. Here is a YouTube video of a question I answered during Question Period on the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCeUrJHlJps

Yours sincerely,

Jason

Oh, "Jason", is it? Funny, but I don't feel friendly enough to go on a first-name basis.

Here's my response to that:

"Dear" Mr. Kenney:

Actually, the majority of Canadians wanted the war resisters to STAY, not the bill to be defeated. And we thank neither you nor the Liberals for doing this to them.

You, sir, are an ass.

Sincerely,

One disgusted Canadian.

My only regret is that I didn't append more adjectives in front of the "ass".

PS: Looks like I'm not alone.

September 23, 2010

This is Canada. We support the troops...

...including those that some in our government would not want us to support. Namely, the war resisters:

Did you know that some prominent and famous Canadians, such as Toronto radio host Andy Barrie--weren't born here? That they came here from south of our border as Vietnam war resisters, facing court-martial and incarceration at home? And that, because the Canada of four decades ago was a more welcoming place than it is today, they were able to make their homes here, establish good careers, start families, and contribute productively to this great land? No? Well, now you do. And you'll also find a lot of them reaching out to help younger war resisters--those facing deportation today because they refused to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq. They have a campaign going here, urging Canadians to write to their member of Parliament. I just did. Now, how about you?

September 15, 2010

Time to end the war in Afghanistan, for the entire region's sake

Maybe it's just me, my bookish predilections, and the fact that I'm reading a lot of Greg Mortenson's work right about now (I just finished re-reading Three Cups of Tea, and have now begun Stones Into Schools). Maybe it's the fact that people in need are the same everywhere. But if you needed more evidence that war really IS stupid, read this:

While millions of Pakistanis in internal refugee camps struggle with shattered lives in the aftermath of last month's floods that destroyed farms, crops and livelihoods, Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team appears to be stuck on the launch pad.

The reasons could have to do with the realities of Canada's war in Afghanistan -- and the fact that, to put it mildly, our military may not be a popular item in many parts of Pakistan.

Certainly, there's widespread sentiment here that DART's 200 soldiers should already be on the ground in the flooded areas doing useful things like ramping up water purification systems and rebuilding damaged infrastructure like bridges, roads and electrical systems.

In disaster relief, says Walter Dorn, a professor at Canadian Forces College, "the big advantage of the military is rapid deployment. We haven't seen much of that [by Canada], and it is disappointing."

It's not clear what the holdup is, since Foreign Affairs is keeping its cards close to its chest on the matter, but some observers believe the sticky issue is Pakistan's demand that Canuck troops go unarmed.

Despite a late August press report that Pakistan is about to issue a formal request for DART, Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesperson Dana Cryderman denies that is the case, saying that only "informal discussions" with Islamabad on the subject are happening at the moment.

"In general, should a decision be made to deploy Canadian civilian or military personnel, a thorough analysis of the security situation would be conducted to determine requirements for the safety and security of government of Canada personnel," she tells this reporter.

Given the level of fighting in Afghanistan and the near civil war in Pakistan, you can see the problem.

Dorn points out that Canadians are dying in Afghanistan while fighting a Pashtun-based insurgency that has roots in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the same time, terrorist attacks have occurred in all regions of Pakistan, not just in the Pashtun northwest border areas.

Some locals will see Canadian DART soldiers "as enemies in their homeland," he says. "There may be people living in Pakistan who are making plans to kill Canadians in Afghanistan. I think Canadians in Pakistan offer themselves as a target. There is a segment of the population that is virulently anti-American," and by extension, he says, anti-NATO.

Nine years ago, right about this time, the US declared war against Afghanistan, and dragged the rest of NATO into it. I knew right away that it would be disastrous, and it gives me no satisfaction to see how right I was. NATO is a Cold War relic that should have been demolished at the same time the Berlin Wall fell, and instead, here it is, being made the handmaiden of "western"--really, just US--imperialism yet again. And it's all because no one in any western government had the guts and the vision to say something like "Enough of this crap, it's time to work for peace! Let's abolish this organization and act in good faith for a change."

Meanwhile, innocent people in Pakistan and Afghanistan are paying for our collective folly with their lives. War, war is stupid...yes, yes indeedy.

September 2, 2010

Why so afraid of a "Ground Zero mosque" that isn't?

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Israeli cartoonist Shlomo Cohen neatly illustrates the phantom nature of the "victory mosque at Ground Zero". It's not a "victory" mosque, it's not even an actual mosque, and it's not actually at Ground Zero. I'm pretty sure, though, given his background and country of residence, that satirizing irrational fear and hate was NOT his intention here.

Maybe I shouldn't post this so soon after the longest fucking quarrel I've had with a troll to date, but I'm damned if I let outsiders set my agenda here, any more than I let idiots make up my mind for me. So, here goes: I'm all in favor of Park 51, the non-mosque that is not gonna be built on the ashes of the former World Trade Centre.

That's right, you read that correctly. I'm totally cool with Park 51.

And yes, this post is gonna be my little contribution toward the education of those who let fear, hatred, bitterness, bigotry and generalized stupidity rule their lives. If it changes their minds about Park 51, great; if it at least forces them to think and rethink, it will have done what I meant it to do. (I can't do your thinking for you either, people, but I can give you plenty of crunchy food for thought, and I can ask you to take it quietly home and chew it over on your own, can't I?)

So. Here goes.

For starters, let's consider the political climate that surrounds the Park 51 debate. You would have to be totally dissociated to think that this debate is occurring in a vacuum. There is an awful lot of racially-charged hate being whipped up very deliberately right now, some of it in the guise of a certain recent "non-political" rally to "restore honor". The rally in question was, of course, VERY political. And honor, that vague, shifty concept that people are known to kill each other for across all cultural boundaries, had fuck-all to do with it. Unless you consider ugly people with ugly attitudes scrawled all over their ugly shirts and getting ugly with perceived outsiders to be "honorable", of course. In which case, yeah, something was restored, all right.

Now, with that kind of climate, is it so surprising that a drunken idiot would try to start a brawl in a bar with a Middle Eastern theme? Or that a Muslim cab driver gets his throat slashed, specifically, for being Muslim? Or that a bunch of armed teenagers would go around trying to terrorize worshippers at a mosque in western New York, which is nowhere near Ground Zero? Or that an arsonist would try to torch construction equipment at the site of a mosque-in-the making more than 800 miles from Ground Zero?

Which is why I wonder if the trolls who pooped here, claiming that two blocks' walk from Ground Zero was too close for a Muslim community centre, have any real idea of how ridiculous their pleas for "sensitivity" towards the insensitive demands of non-Muslims really are. Or how fucking ironic. If Murfreesboro, Tennessee, isn't far enough away from Ground Zero to build a mosque--a REAL one--then clearly no place in North America is.

And that means that Muslims are not really welcome here.

What's sad and ironic is that Muslims in North America have made real, serious contributions to these lands since the first one to settle in New York landed in what's now Manhattan, nearly 400 years ago. And one of their finest gifts, their contribution to the fight against Islamist terrorism, isn't being given due credit. Instead, we get to see them treated to utterly demeaning shit like this:

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...which is hardly a ringing endorsement of inter-faith peace. It's a ridiculous demand, coming from someone who lives just about as far in the US as it's possible to be from Ground Zero (unless you count Hawaii), someone who will never have to look directly upon that heart-stabbing community centre herself. Why the hell should Sarah Palin care, as long as she can score cheap political points on the tweeter?

But if the political points are cheap and easy for a Sarah Palin, they come at a much greater cost to those at whom these barbs were directed. Why do peaceful Muslims constantly have to repudiate and refute (not refudiate, which is not a real word) those who use Islam as their bludgeon? And can you imagine what would happen if they, in turn, demanded that Christians "refudiate" their own extremist brethren? It's not as if there's any shortage of them. Especially in the anti-mosque camp. Will they repudiate the violent amongst themselves? Will they come forward to denounce those who advocate burning mosques?

If my own skirmishes with the anti-mosque crowd are anything to go by, they're falling on their asses in this department. I have not seen ONE opponent of Park 51 say his confederates: No, don't burn, don't vandalize, don't terrorize. Not even when I asked them to, would they repudiate. Instead, they turned on me, telling me to be more tolerant. Of what? Arson threats? Intolerance? Oh, please. If I can't ask you to tolerate a peaceful Muslim community centre, you have no right to tell me I should tolerate your intolerance of it. That's just fucked up.

And even when peaceful Muslims come forward, time and again, to repudiate and denounce those who tarnish the name of their religion, their voices go unheard. Instead, they get drowned out by shriekers like this one at Alan Colmes's website:

These people are everything that is wrong with America. Why are so many blacks, like those pictured above, for the victory monument at Ground Zero? Because in their hearts, they know the attacks are not aimed at them, so they don't give a damn.

That's fucked up, too. (And racist, clearly--which is another hallmark of the current toxic political climate. Why else would the commenter mention the color of their skins?)

In case anyone forgets, blacks and Muslims died in the collapse of the WTC, too. They worked in that building. How could the attacks that killed them NOT be aimed at them? Is Park 51, which will incorporate a memorial to the victims (but not the hijackers), a slap in THEIR faces, too?

If you're going to talk about "everything that's wrong with America", and somehow loop Muslims into it, you may want to consider the singular irony of Saudi oil money going to finance the leading anti-Islamic crapaganda channel in the United States. (What--did you really think Rupee Murdoch was brainwashing you just out of the goodness of his own grinchy little heart? Wake up, Amurrica.)

And--irony upon irony--the Park 51 project is headed by an imam whose brand of Islam is anathema to the Wahhabi princes of Saudi Arabia. FactCheck has a marvelous list of facts about Park 51 that would make your head spin. Among them is this:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has a long history of cooperation with the U.S. government, beginning during the Bush administration. In February and March 2003, he led cultural awareness training for FBI employees in the bureau's New York field office, New York division officials told us. In 2007 and twice in 2010, he traveled to the Middle East to talk about religious tolerance and Islam in America as part of a speaker program organized by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs.

Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said of the imam: "His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it's like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States." Rauf's most recent trip, which is in progress as we publish, garnered objections from people who feared he would try to raise money for the Park51 project during his trip, but the State Department said those concerns were unfounded.

Rauf is an adherent of Sufism, a mystical form of Islam that has itself been targeted by extremists. A 2007 report by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation suggested that Sufis could be potential partners against radical Islamism. "Because of their victimization by [extremist sects] Salafis and Wahhabis, traditionalists and Sufis are natural allies of the West to the extent that common ground can be found with them," the RAND study concluded. Indeed, Rauf has often spoken out against extremism, including recently as part of a Washington Post discussion about the Park51 project, then called the Cordoba Institute:

Rauf, July 21: We are not the extremists. We are that vast majority of Muslims who stand up against extremism and provide a voice in response to the radical rhetoric. Our mission is to interweave America's Muslim population into mainstream society. We are a Muslim-American force for promoting the universal values of justice and peaceful coexistence in which all good people believe.

Wait, what? He's a Sufi? He co-operates with the US government? He speaks up for peace? He wants Muslims to live in the mainstream, not the margins? What a stab to the heart. What a slap to the face! Everything that's wrong with America, yup yup yup, that's him all right. Why, he might even ask us to join him in singing Kumbaya! The horror!

And yet, if my trolls are to be believed, I'm some kind of extremist for supporting this moderate man of Islam.

As my friend Orwell's Bastard notes, these guys are terribly busy trying to make words mean what they don't mean, to the point where they become utterly meaningless; when that happens, they go and make up their own, which could mean anything and actually mean nothing. Could that be what "refudiate" really means? I mean, how else is it possible for me to be an "extremist" for liking this moderate, Imam Rauf?

Oh, but of course. If you're tolerant of Muslims, especially moderate ones, you're intolerant, because that means you've shut the wingnuts, those "moderates" who keep moving the goalposts ever further to the right, out of consideration. You're ignoring their crapaganda whenever you look at the facts and refuse to be swayed by emotional blackmail. And if you refuse to let your blog be hijacked and your discourse derailed by those who try to sneak a false label onto you by claiming you're falsely labelling THEM, why, you intolerant extremist you!

I would argue that I've been more than tolerant enough by letting the trolls babble at me about my imagined insensitivity for their poor hurt widdle feelings for as long as they did. I even argued back in good faith, and got shat on all the more for it, in unmistakably misogynous terms. I got accused of having no sense of humor (which, as anyone who reads this blog regularly can tell you, is the most ridiculous charge of all.) Normally, they get three strikes. If they can't say anything decent within three posts, they get the royal flush. Sometimes, if I'm really not in the mood, they get it even sooner. My blog, my rules. If they don't like 'em, they can get their own; I promise I won't visit.

And if you really want to talk about intolerance and insensitivity, how about this?

This is the same fucking asshole who convened that flop-sweat rally to "restore honor". Nice, eh? And of course, he's a leading voice in the anti-mosque (really, anti-Muslim) "movement". The timing of his bullshit is no coincidence; he also heads up some travesty called the 9/12 Project. It claims to be "non-political" (there's that non-meaningful phrase again!), but it's just another fucking wingnut hijack. Glenn Beck, who is not a 9-11 survivor himself, has no shame about using the ugliest date of the past decade to his own selfish, hateful ends.

And he uses it to whip up the same selfishness and hate in others. The kind that raged on the day after September 11, 2001. The kind that led to the torching of the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton, Ontario; the kind that led to numerous attacks on Sikhs; the kind that is now leading to attacks on existing mosques, mosques under construction, and a Muslim community centre that's still only on the drawing board.

I'm supposed to tolerate this hate-mongering crap in the name of "moderation", but you know what? I've had more than enough. I owe you "moderate", "non-political", "anti-agenda" rightards nothing. No tolerance for your intolerance, no acceptance for your meaningless redefinitions of words, and no platform for your absurd phantom visions of a "victory mosque". From now on, all you get out of me is a well-deserved Doc Marten bootprint on your sorry asses.

August 16, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx goes to Afghanistan

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Lately, so many stories on Afghanistan have been landing in my tab bar that it's getting hard to keep track of them (not to mention scroll past them all!) So, Ms. Manx has obligingly meowed at me, urging me to make 'em as short as her tail so I can share them with y'all:

The Nation takes on the infamous TIME cover, the one showing the noseless Afghan woman who's become a posterchild for warmongers. Key sentence: "It's all part and parcel of a campaign, by some well-meaning people and some not so well-meaning, to justify America's failing counterinsurgency policy in that devastated nation by raising the banner of women's rights..." BINGO.

The Calgary Herald also (surprisingly) attacks this propaganda campaign, and exposes the CIA's role in it. The source of the info? Wikileaks, and the brave leaker, Bradley Manning--whom Eric Margolis devoted his last Toronto Sun column to, correctly calling him a hero. Margolis, too, notices something: "WikiGate provoked a flood of bombastic pro-war propaganda from America's mainstream (read: Government guided) media, its rent-a-journalists, and Canada's wannabe Republican neocons." Surprise! Guess where that awful TIME cover fits into all this. I'll give you a hint: Project Mockingbird never died.

Rethink Afghanistan digs deeper into the CIA aspect of things, showing how the Taliban (those evil woman-mutilators!) rose from the loins of the CIA-sponsored mujahideen. If anyone is to blame for the Afghan women's suffering and suicidality, guess what--it's the good old freedom-and-democracy-bringin' US of A.

Another Nation article criticizes the whole TIME premise, pointing out that there has been a "creeping Talibanization" of Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai, and that Bibi Aisha lost her nose (and earlobes) literally under the nose of the US, Canadian, British and European troops who have been in Afghanistan nonstop, supposedly fighting for her freedom not to be disfigured by a Taliban-crazed husband. The last paragraph is absolutely key, so read it all and realize that war is not a feminist act.

But you know what IS a feminist act? Making art that explicitly links female exploitation with acts of war. Since so much war is perpetuated on the bodies of women (and beautiful women are shamelessly exploited in pro-war propaganda as well), a female artist, Rosemarie Romero, thought it worthwhile to explore the subject by making montages of models in seductive poses, with parts of their bodies replaced by scenes of war. The response of viewers to these pictures seems to indicate that her efforts are paying off: "Romero, who's 24-years-old and an MFA student at the University of Florida, says that when people first see the photomontages at a distance, they're titillated and drawn to the women's faces or spread legs or exposed breasts. When they get closer and realize what they're looking at, the party's over. They're disturbed, repulsed." A good and logical response, I'd say.

And while we're on the subject of things disturbing and repulsive, be warned of the next front in the War on Terra: the use of human rights as (bogus) grounds for the ultimate in human rights abuses. Actually, it's already happening, and if you've been following what I blogged on Venezuela and Bolivia in particular, you'll see that there's been quite an expanse of Astroturf already unrolled there as pretext for the staging of fascist coups. But hey, why should the women of Afghanistan have all the "fun"?

August 11, 2010

A body blow for the Colombia-US military accord

Meet the most odious piece of sneaky-cowardly political interference in the Americas since, well, since the US backed a bunch of putschists trying to overthrow Chavecito:

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It's not dead yet, but damned if there isn't blood in the water now:

La W Radio reports that the Constitutional Court of Colombia has declared will declare* the military-cooperation accord between Colombia and the US inexecutable, since it must first be passed by the Congress before being approved.

The court declared the measure inconstitutional, but left it alive for a limited time. It gave the Colombian congress one year to decide whether or not to approve the accord.

[...]

The military accord produced a crisis between Colombia and Venezuela, after which [Venezuelan president] Hugo Chávez accused the US government of using Colombian territory to attack his country.

Translation mine.

And the crisis unleashed by this odious accord isn't limited to Venezuela or its uppity, mouthy president. Many Colombians don't like it either:

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These people and thousands of others like them have been protesting this accord since it was first announced. Let's hope the Colombian congress hears them and nullifies this bastard agreement, or there will be no peace within Colombian borders, much less between Colombia and its neighbors.

PS: Otto has more, plus some winning snarkage. Go read.

*Translation error fixed, thanx Otto...

July 29, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Dude, where are my criminal charges?

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Hidey-ho, folks, it's another G-20 roundup for ya. And here comes Ms. Manx with all the linkies you should clicky...

First up, the Toronto Star's Carol Goar draws up a score sheet for what's been done and what's still doing. Surprise: So far, not a single person arrested has actually had criminal charges laid that stuck. One month later, and it's Protesters 1, Cops 0. Goar's moment of untruth: "Peaceful advocacy groups tarnished their reputation by knowingly providing cover to protestors bent on violence." Carol, shame on you--the cops were not a peaceful advocacy group! I seem to recall at least one video where the peaceful advocacy groups were chastising the vandals. Is that what you call "knowingly providing cover"?

The Star and the Globe are both reporting that environmentalist Dave Vasey, one of the more prominent arrestees (he was singled out early on as a "leader"), has gone to court, only to find the charges against him not even on the docket. Maybe because the "five-metre rule" he was charged under was bogus? Or maybe just because the cops had nothing on him, and they knew it. Their purpose in making the arrest was not to lay charges, but strictly to intimidate Vasey and others (whom they presumed to be his "followers", no doubt), and thus curtail protest. As always, the operative question to be asked in cases like this is Cui bono?--for whose benefit?

That question is certainly topmost in my mind when it comes to this case, of a young Muslim woman being forcibly stripped of her headscarf and sweater. Violation of modesty is a specifically intimidating move when the victim is a Muslim. Was this violation of her person done to discourage her from protesting? It sure smells that way.

And you know things have come to a bad pass when a distinguished scientist and former holocaust survivor like Ursula Franklin looks at the G-20 fiasco and draws inescapable parallels to the fascist ordeal of her youth.

July 25, 2010

A cracking good debate on burqa bans (and an article on Ground Zero mosques)

Am I giving too much away when I say that the woman in the headscarf is full of win? Just one of many interesting ironies in this half-hour of must-see TV.

Another thing that occurred to me while watching this: Why do we have to go to an English-language program from a RUSSIAN channel to see such interesting, reasoned debate? Why is it that when we turn on a "news" show here, we don't get to see nearly so much discussion, much less so intelligent? Yes, I'm glaring at FUX Snooze here, but I'm also glaring at the Chicken Noodle Network, and the all-news channels of CBC and CTV. They COULD have something like this going on, but they don't. One wonders why.

One also wonders why one has to go to the written word to get something that the talk shows have missed about the the so-called "mosque at Ground Zero" (which is not, in fact, actually located at Ground Zero, or even within eyesight of it). But for once, the NYTimes comes through:

Just to show you how naïve I am: When I first heard about the plan to build a mosque and community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, I didn't envision any real opposition to it.

Sure, I can understand how some people traumatized by 9/11 -- firefighters who survived it, or people whose loved ones didn't -- might not like the idea. But I'd have thought that opinion leaders of all ideological stripes could reach consensus by applying a basic rule of thumb: Just ask, "What would Osama bin Laden want?" and then do the opposite.

Bin Laden would love to be able to say that in America you can build a church or synagogue anywhere you want, but not a mosque. That fits perfectly with his recruiting pitch -- that America has declared war on Islam. And bin Laden would thrill to the claim that a mosque near ground zero dishonors the victims of 9/11, because the unspoken premise is that the attacks really were, as he claims, a valid expression of Islam.

There then follows an astute attack on the Weekly Standard (or Weakly Substandard, as I prefer to call it--much more accurate) and two right-wing New York state candidates blatantly pandering to the scaredy-cat vote. It's a fine kick to the goolies. Go read the whole thing. And ask yourself, as I do: Have we heard from any actual 9-11 survivors or relatives of the fatal victims condemning this planned mosque? Because so far, all I've heard of this nature are the Paliness and her Palinettes, all parroting the stupid contention that this edifice will be a "stab to the heart". They do this, of course, from the safe distance of those who have never lived in New York, who were not there on that day, who are not struggling with lingering health problems as a result of inhaling the toxic dust and smoke of the World Trade Center, and who in any event don't consider New York to be part of "the real America" because it's not a vast stretch of sparsely inhabited land, like most of the so-called Red States. They forget that Muslims were among the victims that day, and no, not the ones hijacking the planes, either. (I have it on good authority that some of them, on their last days pre-martyrdom, spent time in sleazy bars, drinking and ogling the strippers. Not exactly the deeds of a devout, self-sacrificing Muslim.)

A great many groups lost someone to that terrorist act, and all of them have the right, in a real democracy, to places near the site where they can seek solace after their own fashion. To deny one group that right, just because 19 hijackers supposedly belonged to it, is not democracy, any more than is a veil ban. It is a cheap political stunt that actually sets back the efforts of those struggling to build bridges between ALL groups by way of unconditional equal rights, not forced conformity. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the last word on the matter, and a good one it is:

"Government should never -- never -- be in the business of telling people how they should pray, or where they can pray," Bloomberg said last week. "We want to make sure that everybody from around the world feels comfortable coming here, living here and praying the way they want to pray."

Spoken like a true bridge builder, and one who is determined to let neither violent terrorists nor slimy scaremongers win.

Officer Bubbles is worse than you think

How is Adam Josephs, alias "Officer Bubbles", worse than you think? By virtue of the simple fact that he's not the only arrogant asshole on the Toronto police force. By virtue of the simple fact that protest has been criminalized, unannounced, in Canada. By virtue of the simple fact that Courtney Winkels would have been arrested even if she hadn't blown a single bubble. Because protest is illegal in Canada now, duh.

The question is, why did no one announce to the media that protest and community organization are now illegal? Maybe it's because to do so would be to declare that we aren't really a democracy; that martial law is essentially in effect where there is no just cause to implement it; in short, that we have crossed the line into fascism and dictatorship.

That's how Officer Bubbles is worse than you think. He's not just some random asshole in uniform, but a symptom of something deeply and chronically wrong within the system. Were he just a random asshole, he could be easily weeded out. But the fact is, police forces have a predilection for assholes, and not just in Canada. Think Dan Mitrione, the Indianapolis cop who trained CIA-backed torturers in Santo Domingo, Brazil and Uruguay before finally meeting justice at the hands of the Tupamaros in Montevideo. Mitrione got a hero's funeral, but he was no hero; he was a professional asshole in uniform.

Assholes-in-uniform have no compunction about arresting people for no good reason (a bandanna, a backpack full of street-medic supplies, a lawyer's phone number written with a Sharpie on a girl's arm, etc.--not good reasons.) Assholes-in-uniform have no problem doing assholish things as a matter of course. Assholery is their profession. They're trained to see the public as an adversary, an unruly dog to be kept at heel by any brutal means at hand; Josephs' own Facebook page refers to his job as "taking out human garbage" for the City of Toronto, after all.

And there is little question that the G-20 cops were taught to see the protesters as the Enemy, the forces of communism and anarchy, criminals for simply protesting. Human garbage, in other words. That's why no police broke the line; that's why not one of them said "this is not right" when peaceful protesters were corralled in a driving rain for five hours at Queen and Spadina. Not one of them failed to charge when the protesters had completed the last chorus of "O Canada". Not one of them laid down the baton and shield in protest of their comrades' blatantly unlawful behavior.

If even patriotic protest is illegal in this country, then we've come to a bad pass. All the right-wing whining about the "police state" of Cuba becomes ridiculous when viewed in the light of the G-20 in Toronto. In Cuba, when the so-called dissidents of communism demonstrate, they usually get ushered, unhurt, onto buses, and brought home. If jailed, they are still treated humanely; hunger strikers get medical care, even if they are hell-bent on suicide. In Toronto, when dissidents of capitalism demonstrate, they get bones broken, skulls cracked, sexually assaulted, threatened with gang-rape, and herded into Gitmo-like people-pens. Ah, the glorious freedoms of capitalism that we've all heard so much about!

The question no one dares to ask is, If capitalism makes us free, why do capitalists have the greatest number of prisoners per capita, political and otherwise?

Think about it.

Why did the glorious freedom of capitalism need a Dan Mitrione to teach its enforcers to torture not only criminals and so-called subversives, but even innocent people, in order to discourage disobedience? Why did it need him to teach police in three different countries how to electrocute people--not to make them talk, but just "to teach them a lesson" or even "to take out human garbage" by means of death? Mitrione's trainees in Brazil honed their craft on street beggars, after all. Why would anyone want them dead unless they had a human-trash mentality at the bottom of it--a learned mental defect that left them incapable of Christian empathy for those Jesus called "the least of these my brothers"? Mitrione was a devout Catholic with nine children. He couldn't possibly have missed that lesson in Sunday mass; priests teach it all the time as an example of the virtue of charity. Did he simply ignore it? Or did his later training as a professional asshole-in-uniform override it?

Given that Mitrione's mission in Latin America was to roll back all efforts of progressives to establish a more equitable and just state under socialism, and to keep those countries in subservience to the biggest capitalist nation of all, I'll go with the latter option. Right-wing Catholics like Dan Mitrione are taught to override Jesus's true teachings all the time. The disciples' simple, effective practice of holding all property in common, so that everybody is looked after and no one is stuffed while others starve, gets ignored routinely by such people. The message of mercy and loving kindness is obscured by the competing vision of the Old Testament God, the angry punisher, who decreed (via the elite priesthood) that disobedient men, women and even children should be stoned--that is, tortured--to death as an example to others.

Right-wing cops are no different. The basically positive message of community policing, "to serve and protect", is overridden by the human-garbage mentality of the asshole-in-uniform. The police are then no longer the citizenry's "friend and helper" (as the German police slogan would have it), but the friend and helper of the moneyed oligarchy--the sole interest they serve and protect.

The same polite, friendly, quintessentially Canadian cops who cleared the roads in my hometown so our little peace march could proceed in 2003, could nowadays be turned against us. Then, I proudly carried a Maple Leaf, as well as a Stars and Stripes with the stars rearranged in a peace symbol, to show solidarity for neighbors to the south who also opposed the war against Iraq. Nowadays, I'm not so sure I could get away with that. I'm being forced to reconsider whether I want to take part in any open demonstrations at all, even with my country's flag and the national anthem as rallying symbols. If the cops in Toronto could charge a peaceful demo where the protesters waved the flag and sang "O Canada", then no manifestation of free speech and peaceful assembly is immune. We are all subject to the modern equivalent of stoning, without mercy. We are all fodder for the Dan Mitriones.

And that's why Officer Bubbles is worse than you think--it's because he's more common than you think. He's not a random asshole or a bad apple in a basically good barrel; he's just one of a great many, specially selected and trained to think of all the rest of us as human garbage, to be taken out without compassion or compunction.

And that's what makes him so goddamn scary.

July 2, 2010

Cops Behaving Badly: The "Miami Model" at work

No, the Miami Model is not a tall, shapely, ex-Latin American beauty queen. This is the Miami Model, in two minutes or less:

Yeah hi, it's me, banging on about the so-called Black Bloc again. These guys have so much in common with the riot cops, don't they? Both groups are violent, destructive, and hellbent on throwing society into chaos and rendering it unrecognizable. They even seem to dress alike--all in black, sturdy footwear, faces obscured one way or another. One might almost say they were one and the same.

Actually, there are some differences. Anarchists didn't do this--the cops did. Funnily, though, there were some convenient ruffians in the paddywagon to make sure a peaceful demonstrator named Lacy was properly terrorized:

At that point at least two officers yanked me up, including a thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, and was a black male wearing a black T-shirt with curvy print on it, about 6'3, perhaps 250 lbs. Photos of this man show a muscular, powerful frame. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug A." I later learned that this thug or one of the other thugs may have been named Officer Antonie. Several other thugs, who may have been plain-clothes police, were present. One of them was a tall black man wearing plaid shorts and a white T-shirt, who also may have been a plain-clothes officer. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug B."

Please note that none of my attackers ever identified himself as a police officer. They were wearing plain clothes and were driving an unmarked vehicle that looked like a standard soccer-mom minivan. I have no qualms calling my attackers thugs. They never gave me any indication that they were anything but thugs.

I was yanked in an aggressive fashion toward a blue unmarked van. The door was open and the middle seat of the van was folded down. Thug B climbed into the back of the vehicle just before I was flung toward the open door. As I was tossed toward the open door of the vehicle, my right knee hit something which I believe was the edge of the van (the metal lip of the door step). I was pulled into the vehicle, with Thug A roughly pulling my legs into the vehicle.

As I was pulled into the van, another thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, was sitting in the driver's seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call the person sitting in the driver's seat "Thug C." While I was being pulled into the vehicle, Thug C reached back with his right hand and took hold of my neck. Thug C was white with brown hair and a beard and was wearing a black T-shirt and black baseball cap.

As the van began moving and the door to the van closed, the two thugs in the back seat pulled me around so that I was laying face up with my head almost in between the passenger and driver seat. As they were doing so, Thug A was punching me in the stomach, just hard enough to shock someone who is delicate but not hard enough to harm me. As they punched me and turned me over, they said statements such as "stop struggling," and "stop punching." (Again, my hands were cuffed.) I immediately realized that they may be making such completely erroneous statements because we were being recorded, and I loudly stated "I'm not struggling. I am not resisting arrest."

Thug A sat on top of me over my pelvic area. My handcuffs were digging into my wrists. My only goal was to live through the experience without losing my humanity, my spirit, or my presence of mind, to find out where I was being taken, and to find out as much as I could about these thugs, whether they were officers or some sort of private contractors, i.e. paramilitary groups.

Thug B then squeezed my throat with his right hand, digging his thumb deeply into my carotid artery area, on the right side of my throat. He held this for perhaps ten seconds, as Thug A stepped on me, re-adjusting himself overtop of me. I almost passed out at that point as the carotid artery is the chief artery that supplies blood to the brain. At some point during or before this strangulation, I wet myself. Urine seeped into and through my clothing. Darkness almost overtook me, but I held on and I did not lose consciousness.

During this whole time the thugs were calling me names such as: "cunt," "bitch," "whore," and "street trash." A constant barrage of their statements were phrases such as "Look at this street whore." In addition, Thug A was making statements such as, "So you think you can smash up Toronto? Think again, you dirty bitch."

When I did not lose consciousness from choking, Thug B punched the right side of my head with his left fist. This was done at least once, and may have been repeated. I did not lose consciousness, but I began telling them, "I am a good person. I don't know why you are doing this to me. I did not harm anything or anyone."

As I was saying this, Thug A, who had been sitting on top of me, began patting around my skirt. "Why is she wet?" he yelled. Thug B replied that I had "pissed" on myself. Thug A then expressed disgust and began calling me horrible names, and deriding me for "pissing on him." He stopped sitting on my pelvic area and moved further down my legs.

During a large part of this assault, Thug C was reaching back from the driver's seat and pulling my hair very hard, harder than it has ever been pulled. A man in a turquoise-colored shirt was sitting in the passenger seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug D."

[...]

They roughly turned me over face down. We were quite obviously taking the short ride around the block to the entrance to the jail cell. At some point before we reached the building, the thugs stopped the car in an area that appeared to be a parking lot. Both thugs in the back seat got out. I tried to turn my head to the right to see what Thug A was doing, but Thug A took his fist and brandished it about an inch from my face, saying, "If you move, this goes into your nose." I kept my face down toward the gray van carpet.

Thug A got back into the vehicle, but Thugs B and D must have left. Thug B was still driving. I remained where I was and asked where they were taking me. Thug A said, "We haven't driven very far. Where do you think, you dumb bitch?" Thug A continued verbally insulting me as the van pulled into the PCC.

As I the doors opened to the vehicle, many other uniformed officers were visible in the giant prisoner intake room. I began loudly orating that I had just been assaulted. The uniformed officer who had initially grabbed me, whose face was with mine on all the front pages of the Toronto Star on Monday, June 28, came and sat in the front seat. He asked Thug A who the arresting officers were, asking "me and you?" I gave them a moment to agree on who the arresting officers were, and demanded to know their names and badge numbers. Thug A said, "My badge number will be on the paperwork." I demanded perhaps five more times of both of them, but neither one would tell me.

There were several senior-looking uniformed police officers standing nearby, and I proceeded to orate about how these officers had assaulted me, and that there were some bad, bad police officers working in this department, and that this officer here was one of them. Thug A only complained to the officers that I had "pissed" on him. He asked whether I had "any diseases that he had to worry about." Regardless of the arrogant tone of his question, I thought it was a fair question, and I answered him that I didn't have any diseases I was aware of. I asked him whether he had children, and whether he would like it if they were mistreated for simply taking a photo at a demonstration. I told him that he was a very bad person, and repeated that I am a good person, I've done nothing wrong, and I have harmed nothing and nobody.

What's the difference between a plainclothes officer, a "Black Bloc anarchist" (note quotes; there are, in fact, REAL anarchists who look and act nothing like this bunch), and a plain old thug? Apparently, not a helluva lot.

If you ask the old question, Cui bono? and they all answer to the same effect, you can safely assume they're on the same side.

I also come to grips with the fact that the black-clad mob [protestors] in Toronto has left a lot of people not only in the general public but in the wider nonviolent social/global justice movements in Canada feeling disgusted, demoralized and dispirited. Just the result you want if your goal is to marginalize and stifle dissent. I would suggest that what the 'blocistes' accomplished was what many feminists have termed 'silencing'. While the more numerous non-violent voices were indeed heard on the streets and at Queen's Park (25 000 in the main march!), they weren't 'heard' in the more meaningful, mass sense as loudly as the same reels of destruction overplayed in the media, and the same accounts of destruction and violence witnessed to on the ground by journalists, activists and citizens. The blocistes, in other words, are the most effective tool on the ground for silencing the valid concerns of the broad social movements questioning neoliberalism, corporations, imperialism and war - because like a ball dropped in a glass of water, they take the discursive space away from the broader movements, inviting and indeed compelling the public (through the media, of course) to only focus on the violence of smashing, burning, destroying, throwing, hitting... which are all pointless, repulsive, destructive, and frightening.

Bingo. That's the whole idea, isn't it? To scare people the hell away from even thinking of demonstrating against something they know to be repugnant, repulsive and utterly evil?

Only, of course, it's backfiring. People turned out in force to demonstrate against the arrests and detentions of innocent demonstrators like Lacy. They are bent on showing themselves to be unintimidated by the crude tactics of the Miami Model. They also seem to be overwhelmingly distancing themselves from the Black Bloc. Many are doing so not only out of disgust at the futility of window-smashing, spray-painting and car-trashing, but also out of a suspicion--probably well founded--that every anarchist group resorting to Black Bloc tactics has been infiltrated by police provocateurs.

Even some anarchists themselves are distancing themselves from the rock-throwing vandals. Once more, I refer you to what I blogged in 2007, after three fake anarchists were unmasked as cops in Montebello, Québec. Anarchists--REAL ones--and unionists banded together against the phonies. THAT's what I call solidarity!

Alas, solidarity seems to have taken a real beating lately, along with all the innocent activists. It seems strange to note this, but seven years ago, I was in a peace demo here in my very sleepy, very stodgy, very conservative Southern Ontario town, and not only did the cops NOT beat us up, they gave us an escort, using their cruisers to keep the road clear of traffic so we could march without having to cram ourselves onto a narrow sidewalk!

Ah, the Good Old Days, when the cops were still Good Guys. Now, we can't tell the cops from the robbers, literally, unless we're willing to parse the finer details of their appearance, as well as asking that Latin Question. Something that some of us are apparently unwilling to do...to our detriment, I sadly fear. Give the cops too much benefit of the doubt, and you end up kissing goodbye to your civil rights, one after another, in short succession. Sometimes, as in Montebello, you have to jump to an un-PC conclusion based on "insufficient" evidence, and point out the naked emperor in your midst, or risk losing your own credibility. (That last is being steadily undermined by the major media already--also in cahoots with the cops.)

And on a final note, I offer you a tiny bit of surrealism. An anti-BB site using their name. There appears to be a corporation behind this recent addition to the Internets. Just one more of those wacky little things that make you go hmmm...

June 28, 2010

A few random thoughts on the G-20, Black Bloc tactics and police brutality

I'm not sure what to make of this man. He seems belligerent. Yet he's wearing socialist and peace symbols on his shirt. WTF? Anyway, his situation (which could be street theatre, for all we know) pretty much encapsulates what went wrong in TO this past weekend. How ironic is it that consumerism got thwarted by the thugs of über-fucking-capitalism? Merchants, now you know: Capitalists are NOT your friends. But I'm getting ahead of myself here...and I love the goofy emo kid in there stealing the show, BTW.

Lately I've been hearing a lot of stupid petty bourgeois kvetching about the so-called Black Bloc, vandalism, broken windows, etc. As though a bunch of anarchists (or supposed anarchists) in black were the real culprits at the G-20 summit in Toronto, and all the violence was their fault. Here's a representative sampling of the drivel:

Our first foray today was to attend the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's press conference at 3 p.m., which was barely a press conference: it was in fact an extended chance for TCMN to whine at the press for being unsupportive. (At least when Bill Blair holds a press conference and bullshits to your face, he doesn't need a crowd cheering for him.) It was exactly what you'd expect: cops are bad, we're exercising our legal rights, the people who have been detained overnight are "political prisoners" (by the way, I've rung Aung San Suu Kyi on the phone just now, and she says "drama queen says what?") and on and on--a long-winded stream of the biggest heap of self-righteousness not seen since, well, since the last time I heard Stephen Harper criticize the left wing in this country.

And for all of that, protesters, you still could have come out the good guys today. It would have been so easy. You only had to do one thing, one single goddamn thing: "We don't approve of or condone the Black Bloc tactics and we don't approve of or condone violent protest." There you go. Say that, and you're heroes, plain and simple: people who chose not to let their grievances against the government be tainted by malice, even in the face of ridiculously overwrought police tactics. One lousy sentence; that's all we asked of you. Just show us a little good faith.

But of course it didn't happen--not from the top. We got weasel words worthy of Parliament. "We don't comment on the actions of individuals." "That's not the story here." And the reason for the weaseling out is really simple: organizers don't want to condemn Black Bloc tactics and bandana thugs. The radical protest movement in Canada (and let's call it that for lack of a better umbrella term, to distinguish it from the labour unions and NGOs that vamoosed on Saturday the moment they realized the goon squad had ruined everything) long ago decided that the Black Bloccers are part of the movement and welcome at their rallies, and that the next time they hold a protest the thugs will show up again and they'll break shit again, and the rest will just yell "solidarity" like a bunch of useless assholes.

Care for some cheese with that whine, journo boy? Little caviar on a cracker, perhaps?

Poor babies. How hard it must be to be you, or rather how easy: Just blame it all on a bunch of kids in black, get a few complaints and disavowals from activists in the same piece that directly prove you to be a pontificating jackass (as well as a liar), and just don't dig any deeper. And you wonder why they don't trust you media droids? If this is the best you can do, quit fucking wondering. Your shit is self-explanatory.

The kvetcher who wrote that was working for an LLC blog--that is, one of those corporate mouthpieces dressed up to look like hip, cool, internet-savvy cutting-edge independent whatever. Nothing independent about it, in actual point of fact; any "blog" with an LLC at the bottom is not a real blog. It's a corporate entity, not an independent media outlet, and reflects a corporatist worldview when all is said and done. This reporter is a perfect example of that. His final paragraphs also strike me as representative somehow:

The entire day was a pathetic waste. At the end of it, journalists and delegates partied inside the International Media Centre; the summit was done, they could now go home, and there was free booze to spare, so why not? It'd be a shame to come to the G20 summit and not get hammered by the fake lake.

Actually, in retrospect, the fake lake is honestly kind of nice. It only cost about fifty thousand bucks, not the one-point-two million everybody kept discussing, and it's really quite pleasant to sit in. But when a fake lake is the best part of your day, it's been a worthless day. That's the fault of pretty much every last one of us.

...not to mention disingenuous. That $1.2 million figure included the free booze, which our "alternative" bourgeois journo-boy did not disdain to drink. The "fifty thousand bucks" only refers to the centimetres-deep splash pool proper, but it's still a hefty sum of money for some plastic liner and a little bit of water. There are families in Toronto who manage to live on less than what that glorified splash-pad cost, for an entire year. (Trust me, dude, you don't want to see where they have to do it. There's no "kind of nice" about moldy, roach-and-rat-infested apartments in crime-ridden slums.)

Anyway, this is the kind of opinion you get when people's brains are eaten by corporatism--which, as Mussolini's speechwriter knew, was the essence of fascism. You get a whole lot of bitching about the wrong people, while the real culprits--definitely NOT "every last one of us", as Christopher Robin there says, but just a very very few--get off scot-free.

Oh what the hell...maybe some people just need pictures to help them understand what this was all about.

capitalism-pyramid.jpg

There you guys go. Succinctly put, no?

Notice that the "We Fool You" element is second from the top. They have the clergy, but the press would also fit in that tier. The press is, after all, the ruling class's instrument. Like the clergy, it's their job to justify God's ways to man--"God" being the ruling classes, "man" being the rest of us.

And don't get the idea that the "alternative" LLC "blogs" are any different. Actually, they're just a semi-hip repackaging of the same old thing you'll find in any crotchety old conservative rag. The excerpts I cited above are a prime example. They're full of smug, whiny-assed dismissal of legitimate protest, in case you hadn't noticed. It's like Christopher Robin there was just looking for excuses to dismiss the entire anti-G20 movement.

Which, of course, he was.

Now, why do you suppose he was doing that?

As always, the best question to ask first is that old Latin standby, Cui bono? In other words: Who benefits?

Well, corporatists benefit. That's a given. He wouldn't be writing for an LLC "blog" if not. Look at the pyramid, and remember: This guy is employed by those at the level of "We Fool You".

And after them, there's the ruling class. They like to see attention deflected from the real culprits to a few convenient scapegoats. "We Rule You" needs "We Fool You" to get the ruled masses to accept the rulership of the few.

And above the ruling class, there's...what? Anybody? Bueller?

Now. Let's look again at the middle-to-lower levels of that pyramid. Below "We Fool You" is the face of the oppressor we saw yesterday: "We Shoot At You". And below them are the useful idiots, the parrots we can always trust to squawk along at whatever propaganda "We Fool You" put out, along with "We Shoot At You". Yes, the "We Eat For You" bunch is contemptible as all hell, though very fashionably dressed (and very appreciative of all the free booze being served around the lame, overpriced fake lake. Belly up to the bar, boys.)

I'd say that Christopher Robin, while he writes for "We Fool You", is actually a member of "We Eat For You". Little wonder, then, that he feels compelled to piss on the peons below. What else do the eaters do when full of booze and there's a fake lake lapping at their feet, putting thoughts of pee-pee in their little pea brains? What else--just take a flying whiz at the producers without whom the entire pyramid, including their preening, smug layer, would crumble down.

And it would crumble. If the peons knew who their real enemy was, that is. Which is why "We Fool You" has been so busy this past weekend, tamping down dissent, stroking the bourgeois sense of entitlement at "We Eat For You", and defending and justifying the actions of "We Shoot At You" and "We Rule You". Even if they disingenuously deny it, as Christopher Robin does.

Unfortunately for Christopher Robin and his blame-the-Black-Bloc ilk at We Fool You, LLC, there's video like this one, showing undercover police in action...

...in which, if you look closely at about the 45-second mark, you'll see a masked, black-clad "anarchist" (conveniently marked with an arrow) melt in behind the police line. Something he wouldn't be able to do if he were not, in fact, one of them!

So much for blaming the so-called "Black Bloc". The real blame, a healthy portion of it at least, must fall on "We Rule You" and "We Shoot At You", and not the small radical anarchist element among "We Work For All" and "We Feed All". (The lion's share of the blame goes, of course, to the nameless, faceless entity at the top of the pyramid.)

And now we know why so much money was spent on unregistered security corporations at the Billion Dollar Boondoggle. And also why the same got that quickie licence, while the police got sudden, overnight, secret expanded powers. I'll bet these fake anarchists, put there to stir trouble among the real ones, were in fact the unaccredited security contractors in question. Who needs a real cause for mass arrests and suspension of civil rights when you can just manufacture a bogus one--using the services of a corporation?

Ah yes, "We Rule You" and "We Fool You", "We Shoot At You" and "We Eat For You". We See What You Did There.

And We Are No Longer Fooled.

June 19, 2010

Reflections on the (still ongoing) War on Terra

With apologies to Franklin Pierce Adams.

Gulf War II is an awful farce.
We like it.
Dick Cheney pulled it out his arse.
We like it.
There's so much there to knock and slam;
The bloody thing is one big sham.
It can't fight terror worth a damn.
Nevertheless, we fight it.

peace-dove-in-crosshairs.jpg

June 8, 2010

Gaza Roundup 12: The true, ugly face of "Stand With Us"

A couple of weeks ago, a very persistent troll from the UK (on a DSL line with a dynamic IP pool, no doubt very handy for anonymous trolling) came on here uninvited, and spammed me (under at least four different identities, all with throwaway e-mail addies) with not only hate and insults (and death wishes), but links to a right-wing pro-Israel group called "Stand With Us", which I refused to publish. (You can google them yourself, if you want. But you may want to take a decontaminating shower afterwards.)

Well, that selfsame group recently showed its true face in a bigger place--San Francisco, when the Bay Area Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace held a silent march in protest of the attacks on Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla. And here is what the peace group's camera caught:

Nice, humane face, eh?

Not only some real Orwellian doublespeak in there ("Israel wants peace, Gaza wants war"--yeah, RIGHT), but also ugly, antisemitic insults (one woman in the peace contingent gets called "Kapo, Kapo, Kapo" repeatedly--a reference to Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz who acted as overseers at the command of SS guards in exchange for better food, clothing and other favors).

Then there are threats that "we will find out where you live, we will disrupt your life"--even the lives of the protesters' children. Is this how pro-Israeli Jews treat other Jews? Nice to know that even the lives of Jewish children aren't sacred to them. (That goes directly against the teachings of the Torah, BTW. And puts "Stand With Us" fully in a league with the KZ Kapos themselves.)

And two obviously retirement-age peace marchers are told to "get a job"--a phrase that could just easily apply to the sidewalk harassment brigade of "Stand With Us", who apparently have nothing better to do than stand out there, occupying the sidewalk like settlers in the West Bank, yelling insults and threats at those who are doing no harm to anyone. Unless, of course, you count peaceful demonstrations and protecting Palestinians as "doing harm"!

What kind of people are threatened by silent peace marchers, doing nothing but letting their opinions be known? The same who are threatened by obscure little bloggers like me. People who are profoundly threatened by any manifestation of real democracy. The same who claim that what they stand by is "the only democracy in the Middle East", as though none of those other countries had elections. (Shockingly, a great many of them do. Or did, before the US stepped in to mess things up, as in Iran, Iraq, etc., etc.) They cannot bear the slightest opposition, even if it's silent. They themselves are very loud, and by the sounds of things, very eliminationist and pro-extermination.

And these are the people who want me to "Stand With Us"? The same who tell me I should have been killed by that car that hit me when I was 14? The same who come on here uninvited, spamming me with lies and insults, and then, when I refute their nonsense, they come on here calling ME a bitch? That sort of person expects me to stand with them?

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

No, I'm not going to stand with you, Zionist troll from England, whatever your real name is. You can go straight to hell. These people--and you--are no fit company for any decent human being. Don't bother commenting again (you won't get any satisfaction)--just stay away from my blog. I don't need your paltry hits on my counter. Where I come from, we are known by the company we keep.

And I do not stand with anyone who stalks, harasses or wishes death upon others.

June 6, 2010

Music for a Sunday: More prescient than the Gorillaz knew

Don't let the dreamy hip-hop groove suck you under. Listen to Snoop Dogg's rap: doesn't it sound like he foresaw something? My best friend, who sent me the link to the YouTube, thinks so:

The song I linked is on an album that came out earlier this year (at least as far back as March) and has lyrics which struck me as being rather prescient for things that are happening right now. [...]

It's probably just coincidence but as I listened to the song for the first time all I could think of was:

- the BP disaster (plastic beach, kids feeling despair, pollution)

- the Gaza flotilla ("the revolution will be televised", click-clacking, mo' stacking, full packing, acting a fool when I teach)

I thought of that, too, of course, hearing this. More likely the song's about how modern life has become so fake and artificial that it leaves us all feeling alienated, but it still works, even on that level. Wasn't it that artificiality, that alienation, that led to the BP disaster? And isn't the need for connection ("Kids, gather around / Yeah, I need your focus / I know it seems like the world is so hopeless...") what's driving activists (most of them definitely not kids) to take matters into their own hands and force governments to do what they're dragging their heels on?

Listen again and again, and enjoy. But don't let the undertow pull you down.

PS: Word up--the Gorillaz are among the groups NOT playing in Israel as a result of the assault on the Freedom Flotilla. Rod Stewart and "Sir" Elton John, however, are still playing, the moneygrubbing cynics...

May 31, 2010

Quotable: Craig Murray on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack

"A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare."

--Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan

May 24, 2010

Yes, Israel has nukes. Yes, it's an apartheid state. And no, it has no shame.

Surprising revelations, surprisingly revealed by the UK Guardian:

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

I predict that Professor Polakow-Suransky will be getting a lot of hate mail. Truth-tellers often do. Just look what happened to Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed the truth two decades ago. He got taken back to jail today, in an instance of very convenient timing. No doubt he'll be duly silenced as part of the conditions of his latest incarceration. But it won't do any good; the cat is already out of the bag (even the Federation of American Scientists is aware of the Israeli nuke program), and the Guardian report only confirms what's already long been known:

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

Emphasis added.

Looks like those two seemingly strange bedfellows are not so unlikely a pair after all. They were scratching each other's backs rather nicely. Apartheid South Africa providing yellowcake uranium so Apartheid Israel could supply warheads. It stands to reason that they would have such a dandy reciprocal relationship: Israel was (and still is) cracking down on its internal Arab population, trying to starve it out; South Africa did the same to its blacks. Israel wields the nuclear menace over its Arab neighbors; South Africa was hoping to do the same with its black neighbors. The two are far more similar than they are different when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.

And of course, there's always this:

apartheid-wall-will-fall.jpg

Ceci n'est pas un mur d'apartheid. Ceci n'est pas un grand prison.

And if you believe that's not an apartheid wall, enclosing the world's largest existing prison camp, I've got some lovely oceanfront property in Saskatchewan that I'll sell you for a song.

PS to all the hasbara trolls writing me from the safety of London, England and other places totally out of touch with reality:

not-my-job.jpg

Take note that anything you try to spam here, including false "facts" and charmingly futile death wishes for me, will be deleted and reported to your ISP, so that you will learn not to abuse your online privileges in future. Good day, and get fucked.

May 10, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx visits Kent State

calico-manx.jpg

Full disclosure: Ms. Manx was still litter-training when Kent State went down. She was also living in Northern Ontario at the time, and hadn't heard of it till much, much later. But she thinks it's still relevant in light of the times we live in (Free Speech Zones of Muskoka, the Stumpy Cat is glaring at YOU.) So it's with how little has really changed in mind that she would like to bring to your attention the following:

Lots of people still haz a bit of Teh Stoopid about Kent State. To wit, USA Today:

...a campus that unwillingly became synonymous with protest...

Uh, try "synonymous with VIOLENT CRACKDOWNS AGAINST protest", lame writer. Every US university campus, other than the most hardcore conservative, was at that time synonymous with protest against the Vietnam war, and universities in general have been so for as long as there have been foolish old farts who make bad policies for younger, wiser souls to protest against. To single out Kent State as a lone anti-war protest hotspot like this is ludicrous. And if you want to know what the biggest institution in the US to protest the war was, get this: It was the military itself.

More stoopid: Robert C. Cheeks, a hard-right-wing Catholic who praised the Kent State murders in the name of "order". The coward has since deleted his crap, but Beliefnet's pagan blogger, Gus diZerega, sets the record straight and delivers a fab-tabulous spanking.

And speaking of fab-tabulous spankings for craven historical revisionists (and all others touting the discredited line about how the National Guard fired on unarmed protesters and bystanders for the sake of "order"), how about this? Scientific analysis confirms that they were ordered by superiors to prepare to fire, regardless of any lack of aggression on the part of the victims. Nixon was not only escalating the war in Southeast Asia, but also on freedom of speech back home. Alan Canfora, one of the wounded survivors of the massacre, is now using this evidence as basis for a new investigation of the crime. Let's hope he succeeds!

And while you're at it, the Truth Tribunal website is a good place to visit and learn about the ongoing search for facts about Kent State. What's truly appalling is that even now, 40 years after the fact, all the facts are still not a matter of public record. Let's hope that changes, too.

Finally, if your blood is easily boiled, don't click this link. But if you can convert that energy to righteous action, DO CLICK IT.

April 19, 2010

Why hate speech isn't free speech, in a nutshell

hate-speech-consequences.jpg

This is where hate speech invariably, inevitably leads: innocent people maimed and killed in bomb blasts.

Does it look like freedom to you?

The Freeway Blogger strikes again!

And this time, he's struck the I-65, northbound from Indianapolis:

indy-freeway-blog.jpg

Yes, I know who's responsible for this. And no, dear authorities, I'm not gonna tell you, and you won't make me. First of all, he's not doing any harm with this sign. And secondly, he's just exercising his First Amendment rights. You know, freedom of speech? That thing that often gets abused by warmongering wingnuts? Anyhow, he knows what to do with it. And it's NOT a crime.

PS: My friend informs me that the original Freewayblogger has picked up on this already. Super!

April 15, 2010

Learn from a 12-year-old

Meet Frankie Hughes and her mother, Renée Espeland, as they talk with Amy and Juan on Democracy Now. And then ask yourself: How could two unarmed persons--one, a tiny little minor--possibly be so threatening to an Iowa senator that they were charged with trespassing, and in the mother's case, "contributing to the delinquency of a minor"? And how on Earth is being pro-peace, and using one's right to free speech for a good cause, a "delinquency"?

April 5, 2010

Support the troops?

When they pull something like this?

Sorry, no. I do not support murder.

ADDENDUM, ca. 11:00 pm: This has really gone big in Latin America, where of course they pay attention to such things as militarized imperialism.

March 24, 2010

Ann Coulter really hates freedom of speech. Here's why...

Reason #1: It's very easy to own her bony ass with the facts.

All you have to do is get a word in edgewise, which of course is something this fast-talking nag doesn't want to allow. Fortunately, this CBC reporter didn't have to go all Bill O'Reilly on her and cut her mike. He just had to keep talking. Watch how her confidence turns to deer-in-the-headlights on a dime!

Reason #2: She's afraid of any serious challenge. Especially if it comes in boisterous crowds.

About two thousand noisy protesters is what it takes to get an Ann Coulter speech canceled, apparently.

That's the scene which transpired on Tuesday night at the University of Ottawa, where the right-wing author had planned a talk. Canadian media described the crowd as "boisterous."

"A spokesman for the group that organized the event said there were fears for Coulter's well-being after about two thousand people gathered outside the venue to protest her presence there," The Toronto Star reported.

Two thousand "boisterous" people, merely protesting? Not one weapon, not one death threat in all that crowd? Just people shouting and waving placards denouncing a foreign terrorist invader on our soil? Wow. Some threat to her "well-being". I guess for Ann, well-being is directly tied to her own monstrous ego and her ability to overtalk. You can do that one-on-one, or even one-on-two or -three. But one-on-two-thousand? Yeah, no wonder she felt threatened. One CBC reporter clobbering her with facts; two thousand students clobbering her with free speech. Kind of hard going, that!

But hey, Ann, you shouldn't have any problem standing up to them, I should think. Not if you really believed in free speech (for those other than your scrawny old self, of course). Not after what you said just a few short years ago:

"They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them," she said on Hannity & Colmes in 2004. "They're lucky they're allowed to be on the same continent as the United States."

Yeah, big brave words. And just like everything else she blats to the four winds, utterly empty of meaning and devoid of fact.

Canadians won the War of 1812; it's the Yanks' best-kept secret and the reason for our so-called "luck". We taught them to show some respect, and we taught it to 'em the hard way. We torched the White House, Ann...and we are the only country ever, in all the world, to have done so.

Maybe that's why we're so "lucky", eh Ann?

Maybe you should count yourselves lucky that the Canucks didn't get greedy 200-odd years ago. We were quite content to merely keep you off our turf; we had no interest in stealing yours. If we were, you might be having to learn French in school today, Ann. And knowing you, with your massive ignorance and incuriosity about anything not immediately under your nose, you'd probably flunk it. Which would put your paltry notion of free speech at a double disadvantage.

As it is, you're an epic fail, and true free speech--which we do have, and exercise up here, as you've no doubt found out to your chagrin (that's French, Ann, look it up!)--has won the day.

C'est la merde.

March 22, 2010

Quotable: Judith Butler on feminism and war

"I think that we have seen quite cynical uses of feminism for the waging of war. The vast majority of feminists oppose these contemporary wars, and object to the false construction of Muslim women "in need of being saved" as a cynical use of feminist concerns with equality. There are some very strong and interesting Muslim feminist movements, and casting Islam as anti-feminist not only disregards those movements, but displaces many of the persisting inequalities in the first world onto an imaginary elsewhere."

--Judith Butler, at Guernica

March 7, 2010

More Music for a Sunday: Anti-war electronica at its finest

I was just going on 18 myself when this came out, so this song hit home hard for me. I'm guessing that the average age of US combat soldiers in Iraq is about the same as it was in Vietnam.

Closer to the present, a clear indictment of the MIC and disaster capitalism.

March 4, 2010

Cindy Sheehan on Contragolpe

Watch live streaming video from aporrea at livestream.com

VTV's Vanessa Davies hosts Cindy Sheehan and Eva Golinger, author of several books on US interference in Venezuela (translating). Topics range from Cindy's peace protests at Camp Casey to imperialism and the mess that is the US political system. Not to be missed!

February 9, 2010

War + male gaze = ?

doonesbury-male-gaze.jpg

There are just some prices no one should pay to count as "hot" in a sexist world. War is one of them.

January 29, 2010

The Real News on the prorogation and the Canadian pro-democracy movement

Forget the Harperite lie about prorogation being "routine". There is NOTHING routine about evasion of hard questions about torture. That's the real story here.

January 8, 2010

Dear right wingers: You can stop SHRIEEEEKing now.

german-muslim-protest.jpg

German Muslims protest the exportation of Wahhabism and terrorism from Saudi Arabia; in this case, specifically, to Iraq. Note the date on the picture. Muslims protesting against Islamist terrorism is hardly new or unique, no matter what wingnuts are saying to the contrary.

Dear wingnuts:

You finally got what you've been bellowing for. Muslims just stepped up to the plate to protest Islamist terrorism today.

Now you can just STFU.

Really.

Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney, said Sunday afternoon that Muslims need to let the world know that those who would commit terrorism do not represent Islam.

"It's very frustrating to know that these guys are using Islam and committing terror," he said. "Islam stands for peace."

His Facebook group, Dearborn Area Community Members, is calling for local Muslims to hold a protest during the scheduled Jan. 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old was charged Saturday with trying to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday. He told federal authorities he was acting on orders from Al Qaeda.

Well, guess what? That protest happened today, and got coverage...even on FUX, which used AP wire reportage (predictably skimpy). Still, for FUX, that's really saying something.

ABC did a bit better, with video.

A local paper, the Dearborn (MI) Press and Guide noted that several Islamic leaders, plus a Muslim woman who was on board the flight that the would-be suicide bomber tried to blow up, also stepped forward to denounce terrorism...in the name of Islam:

Shortly before he appeared in court, Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights and other Muslims spoke at a press conference, condemning terrorism in the name of Islam.

Among those with Elahi were Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America; and Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center in Dearborn. The meeting was sponsored by the council and was held at the Michigan Round Table for Diversity and Inclusion in Detroit.

Each imam condemned all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity and supported law enforcement agencies in their efforts to protect their fellow citizens, while preserving civil rights.

Also at the press conference was Hebba Aref, a passenger on the flight from Amsterdam. She, too, spoke against terrorists targeting innocent people.

And just to further shush the shrieeeeekers, look what a group of North American imams also did today:

The 20 imams associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said this marked the first fatwa by the Muslim clergy declaring attacks on Canada and the U.S. to be attacks on Muslims.

"In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil," the imams said in their fatwa.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said attacks on Canadian or U.S. soil are essentially attacks on Muslims.

"We are part of this society," he said. "This is my home, and if anybody attacks on Canada, in fact, attacks on my home."

The imams said it is a duty of every Muslim in Canada and the U.S. to safeguard the two countries.

"They must expose any person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians or Americans," they said.

"It is religious obligation upon Muslims, based upon the Qur'anic teachings, that we have to be loyal to the country where we live," said Soharwardy. "We have no problems in Canada; we can practise our religion freely."

Whoa...Muslim imams using a fatwa to protect western society and religious freedom?

Gee, it sure sounds to me like the imams value the freedom of religion that we all enjoy here in Canada. And it sounds an awful lot like they value their fellow Canadians, too, regardless of religion. It even sounds like they have no problem abiding by the laws of the land!

And above all, it sounds like they ARE speaking out against Islamist terrorism. In fact, they've been doing it for several years already. If you wingnuts weren't shriiiiieeeeking so goddamned loudly, maybe you'd have heard about it.

And if you don't believe me, do your own Google search. Type in "Muslims protest terrorist" or "Muslims protest terrorism". Go on. I dare ya. See how many news links you get. Have fun reading them all.

And in the meantime, just STFU.

December 26, 2009

Economics for Dummies: A winter soldier speaks out on war and racism

Mike Prysner of Iraq Veterans Against the War hits the nail on the head:

"Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land whose names or policies we don't understand; the real enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable, the insurance companies who deny us health care when it's profitable, the banks who take away our homes when it's profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us."

Thanks to David Blomstrom for sharing that link on Facebook!

December 16, 2009

How Venezuela sees Obama, part II

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No word from Aporrea on where this mural was painted, but apparently it's also from downtown Caracas. Like I said earlier, gotta work on that image...

And if you can't spot the reason the Venezuelans are so unimpressed, let Aunt Bina help you. Holiday jeers to the Wall St. Urinal for that blatantly racist bullcrap about the "Venezuelan military-industrial complex". What's one crappy Kalashnikov factory when you're sitting in the country whose own arsenal is bigger than that of the next dozen countries combined? And who you tryin' to kid with this "dangerous for Asia" shit? Your country is not just the biggest global menace there is, it's the ONLY one. And it's doing nothing to improve that image. Especially in Afghanistan--which, last time I looked, was a pretty sizable chunk of Asia.

Funny how the man just picked up that Nobel and still doesn't know what the hell to do now that he's got it...

December 11, 2009

Can we call Colombia a failed state yet?

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I mean, this many dead, in one grave, this year alone...it's kind of telling, isn't it?

During a visit by a British delegation of parliamentarians and union leaders, the remains of 2,000 persons were found in a mass grave in La Macarena.

According to current information, it is impossible to identify any of the victims.

Jairo Ramírez, spokesman of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, told Caracol Radio that forced disappearances are still occurring in Colombia.

According to Ramírez, several of those found in the mass grave were killed this year.

Translation mine.

Just to put things in a bit of perspective, three thousand desaparecidos were killed in Chile during the reign of Pinochet. That's just one thousand more than were found in this one grave in Colombia. An estimated thirty thousand is the number most commonly attributed to the Argentine military junta of 1976-83. How long has Colombia's civil war (and its offshoot drug-gang wars) been raging now? Five decades at least.

Two thousand is an awful lot for one mass grave alone in Colombia, and it's not the only one.

Meanwhile, for a further bit of perspective, let's look at a neighboring country...namely Ecuador, which got the Colombian treatment in March of last year:

"The strategic intelligence processed from the Manta base was fundamental for the pursuit and location of Raúl Reyes, who was a priority target for the government of Colombia," reads a report from the Truth and Transparency Commission created in Quito this past March.

According to the document, the treaty between Ecuador and the United States concerning the Manta base "for control of narcotrafficking, overstepped its stated ends". The investigation also found that the US financing of Ecuador for the presumed co-operation in the War on Drugs "determined the submission" of its security organisms.

On the other hand, the commission ruled out all relations between President Correa and the FARC, in contradiction to the Colombian government's claims. Last weekend, Correa responded to the contents of a book written by the Colombian ex-minister of defence, Juan Manuel Santos, assuring that Santos lied about the alleged ties between the government of Ecuador and the FARC.

"The ex-minister Santos, poor man, keeps lying to us," said Correa of Santos' book, "Checkmate to Terror", which tells the tale of the Uribe government against the armed group.

Again, translation mine.

Isn't it funny how intelligence processed at a US base in Ecuador--was used in a bombing of Ecuadorian turf? And isn't it funny how the bombers came from Colombia, where the US is now installing the seven bases it "needs" to replace the one that bad, bad Rafael Correa, damn his Ecuadorable little ass, isn't letting them use anymore to arrange further bombings of Ecuador, along with Venezuela and assorted peasant villages in the Colombian jungles?

And yet, Colombia is supposedly a model democracy, and Venezuela and Ecuador are the regional bad guys.

Go figure.

December 5, 2009

Yes, we CAN...haz torture inquiry

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If you wanna know why I'm happy, read what Jack Layton sent me today:

Parliament passes NDP motion for an Inquiry on torture allegations

Thank you for your email concerning the recent allegations of prisoner
torture in Afghanistan. I am providing this update on our efforts to get
to the bottom of the allegations.

On December 1, Parliament agreed to pass the motion by New Democrat
Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar calling for a public inquiry over the
torture allegations. From the start, our Party believed that a public
inquiry was needed. We welcome the support of the other opposition
parties who agree with our position.

It's now up to the Harper Conservatives to do the right thing. In
opposition, Mr. Harper spoke of a government's moral responsibility to
respect the will of Parliament, because it was ultimately the democratic
will of Canadians. We want his government to be guided by these words
and to set-up this public inquiry.

Please find attached my speech in Parliament in support of my
colleague's motion and you can visit the following link to read the text
of the full debate:

LINK 1

Canadians are understandably upset that there is a reluctance to take
responsibility for these allegations. Transferring detainees to those
whom are likely to torture them is a violation of international law.
However, the Conservative government continues to dodge and dismiss all
concerns about the treatment of prisoners. They've concealed evidence,
intimidated witnesses and obstructed the Military Police Complaints
Commission inquiry. We even heard from three Generals who told the
Afghanistan special committee that it wasn't their job to follow up on
the condition of detainees after they were handed over to Afghan
authorities.

It is clear that an inquiry is needed. Mr. Colvin's revelations deserve
to be fully examined. And, if required, the appropriate people should
be held responsible.

New Democrats have been raising concerns about prisoner transfers in
Afghanistan since 2006. For more information, please refer to:

LINK 2

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to share my response
with anyone who may be interested. All the best.

Sincerely,

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

There you have it. A little triumph for real Canadians today.

November 28, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

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Some small odds 'n' ends I couldn't go longer about:

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, heartily sympathizes with Richard Colvin, the Canadian diplomat who found Afghanistan to be no better. He also demolishes all pro-torture arguments very nicely. Thanks to Rick B. at Ten Percent for this one.

In light of the current situation in Dubai, Johann Hari's highly observant piece from a few months ago in the UK Independent is worth revisiting. What say ye now, O ye detractors?

Honduras Coup 2009 says don't believe the hype; the "election" slated for tomorrow is a farce. Yeah, we kind of knew that already. But they have all the details on what makes it one. Essential reading!

LatAm's cutest president (and best foreign-trained economist) says South America won't recognize the outcome of the Honduran farce no matter who "wins". Why? Because everyone knows who's gonna lose. Trust the man, he knows a thing or two about making a once-unstable country governable. He got himself re-elected in a country famous for overthrowing presidents mid-term!

Eva Golinger exposes yet another shocking congressional cover-up over Colombia. Your taxpayer dollars at work, USA.

The IMF and Inter-American Development Bank are now lining up to praise Evo--for taking their advice and trashing it. El Duderino's got the goods.

Amy Goodman's plight has even made the news in Venezuela. I am REALLY hanging my head over this one!

Why is Roger Federer promoting lung cancer? Inquiring minds want to know.

And finally, if you like the little bumper-sticker on my right-hand column that says "I Support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", you can get a copy of it for your own site courtesy of Broughton Bob in BC. Don't know what the Charter's all about? Here ya go.

November 27, 2009

A big embarrassment for my home and native land

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Amy Goodman talks to the CBC about her unexpected detention at the border. See Raw Story for video of the whole interview with CBC's Kathy Tomlinson.

I'm rarely ashamed to be a Canadian, but today is different. Today, one of my personal heroes and role models, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, was detained at the border. She was coming to British Columbia to speak out against war and promote her book, but that's not how the uniformed stormtroopers saw it:

Goodman says Canadian Border Services Agency officials ultimately allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.

Goodman, 52, known for her views opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CBC News on Thursday that Canadian border agents asked her repeatedly what subjects she would cover at scheduled speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.

Goodman said she told them she planned to speak about the debate over U.S. health care reform and the wars in Asia.

After much questioning, Goodman said the officials finally asked if she would be speaking about the 2010 Olympics.

"He made it clear by saying, 'What about the Olympics?'" said Goodman. "And I said, 'You mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?'"

"He said, 'No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010.' I said, 'Oh I hadn't thought of that,'" said Goodman.

"He said, 'You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?'"

"He was clearly incredulous that I wasn't going to be talking about the Olympics. He didn't believe me," Goodman said.

See, this is the paranoia that goes with having a conservative government. Harpo & Co. are already under siege. The war in Afghanistan was never popular here, but Canadians being dutiful troop-supporters, the criticisms have all been very muted. Rather than do the really bold thing and declare NATO a relic of the Cold War past, Harpo has chosen to kiss ass and lick boots in Washington. And keep sending Canadians to die in a country that has been the downfall of every foreign power ever to invade it. (Alexander the Great is said to have died at Kandahar, which is supposedly named after him. Canadians are currently in the Kandahar province. Every so often one of them comes home in a box, and the region remains ungovernable. So, why are we there?)

And the Olympics are a special point of paranoia. The actual risk of terrorism in Canada is almost nil, and the likelihood of anything disrupting the games is vanishingly small. It would have been absolutely zero if we were not at war in Afghanistan against a phantom menace that never menaced us before. When he made Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore was struck by how laid back we were, and how little gun crime we had as a result. That's Canada for you; we are not a nation of paranoiacs. We're proud of our warm hearts and cool heads. We take special pride in our love of peace, and have sent peacekeepers on every mission that the UN has called upon us to do so.

But since Harpo & Co. run a minority parliament, and they are constantly in danger of being toppled by a non-confidence vote, it stands to reason that they want to keep up every possible façade that says "Look how well we Tories can do things". And of course, what bigger one than the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics of 2010? Never mind that the Games are not their brainchild, and that the bid was won under a previous, Liberal government. Nor that the logistical masterpiece that is the longest Olympic torch run in history is going off without a hitch. (It's also none of their doing.) No, Harpo's selling point is the security angle, and he's playing it to the hilt. In other words, once again, he's appealing to a very un-Canadian sense of paranoia, not pride.

And that paranoia is why I'm not proud to be a Canadian today. When an innocent person like Amy Goodman, who has much in common with the best of Canadian values, is stopped at our border simply for being outspokenly anti-war (which I am too!), and accused of trying to foment terrorism against the Vancouver Olympics, all I can do is hang my head and wish that all these assclowns could be tossed out of office tomorrow.

Peacefully, of course.

PS: A Creative Revolution's own Pale Cold was on the Daily Kos with this, and a host of other things that suck about the situation. Don't miss it!

November 20, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A song of solidarity

"Bases of Infamy"--a beautiful statement against war and imperialism!

November 16, 2009

Islamist zealots: An endangered species?

Get set to see fewer of these guys on the streets, as former zealots see the light...

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Hey neo-con warhawks, don't feel too smug--you're in deep shit too. Why don't ya chow down on this...

I began to hear about a fragile new movement that could just hold the answers we journalists have failed to find up to now. A wave of young British Islamists who trained to fight - who cheered as their friends bombed this country - have recanted. Now they are using everything they learned on the inside, to stop the jihad.

Seventeen former radical Islamists have "come out" in the past 12 months and have begun to fight back. Would they be able to tell me the reasons that pulled them into jihadism, and out again? Could they be the key to understanding - and defusing - Western jihadism?

Go. Read the whole thing (which is too long to excerpt and comment on here). Then come on back and tell me exactly why you still believe anyone should be making war on Afghanistan and Iraq. Your phantom menace, the thing you're depending on to keep recruiting cannon fodder at home, is now eating itself.

And considering that they were an extreme minority within Islam all along, it should hardly come as a surprise that the majority of Muslims reject them. Just as a majority of westerners reject neoconservatism.

Both sets of extremists--your days are numbered.

November 11, 2009

Quotable: Howard Zinn on the true meaning of Remembrance Day

"Let's go back to the beginning of Veterans Day. It used to be Armistice Day, because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end...Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches...Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism. As a combat veteran myself, of a 'good war,' against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side."

--Howard Zinn

November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall/German Reunification: Still believe in the Evil Russians?

Then you're about to get a nasty surprise. Svetlana Savranskaya of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, has some news for you:

Mikhail Gorbachev didn't need no Ronnie Ray-Gun telling him to tear down that wall; he was already doing his part by refusing to resort to repressive measures of any kind. He deserves a lot of credit for letting things progress peacefully. My respect for Gorby just keeps on growing. (And so does my contempt for that shameless usurper, Boris Yeltsin.)

Meanwhile, here's how the Germans (not U2, NOT MTV) celebrated the 20th anniversary in Berlin today:

Three generations of German women give their views of history and what the fall of the Wall means to them. They don't say what the western media expects to hear, let's put it that way!

An English-language Russian channel gives a nuanced, thoughtful, artist-friendly view with a few interesting surprises of its own. (Dmitri Medvedev speaks German! Who knew?)

I especially love how the "domino wall" was a collaborative work of art--thousands of children painted it, expressing themselves freely. Some are from divided countries, such as Cyprus, where a wall between Greeks and Turks still stands. A much more fitting tribute than a walled-off, profit-mongering, "free" concert that relies on the personality cult, adulation and passivity, no?

November 5, 2009

Time to end this war, NOW

FUX Snooze, as usual, gets it wrong. The shooter's cousin sets them straight.

When an army doctor busts in and starts shooting the place up in order to prevent the deployment of his comrades to Afghanistan (and himself to Iraq), what would you call it--"crazy", or something else?

Sources said Maj Hasan had been due to be deployed to Iraq shortly and was an army psychiatrist. He is believed to have been in his late 30s and from Virginia.

It was reported that he did not want to go to Iraq.

Hmmm. That might be a clue. Not wanting to go to Iraq is actually an act of sanity, not this:

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said: "Our dedicated military personnel have sacrificed so much in service to our country and it sickens me that the men and women of Fort Hood have been subjected to this senseless, random violence."

"Senseless, random violence".

Uh, nice cover-up job you're doing there, Senator Warmonger. What better way to salve your guilty conscience (complicit in both wars) than to shut down all further inquiry by declaring this to be just another of those random acts of senseless violence that, for some unexplained reason, keep arising in the United States more than anywhere else.

Unfortunately, there's the fact that Fort Hood happens to be a treatment centre for PTSD. And the shooter happens to be a psychiatrist who treated PTSD patients. And as we peaceniks know only too well from prior history, PTSD is an inevitable outcome of war. Is this a manifestation of PTSD in a doctor whose job was to treat it, or is it something else?

No, I don't feel hateful, angry or vengeful towards him; he's hurting too. What good would hate do? I hope he survives his injuries, if only so he can have a chance to explain why he did it. And if he's sick, I hope he gets help. Whichever way this goes, I suspect we'll hear a lot of things that some people still don't want to believe about the War on Terra.

And meanwhile, I can just smell the warmongers cranking up the ol' hate-machine once again. Fuck them--fuck them all. It was their cheerleading and their repression of protest that enabled both wars, and I hold them criminally responsible for it...and all its consequences.

Including, yes, THIS one. Because there is no doubt in my mind that it IS one.

PS: US News reports that there was a new military mental-health policy implemented just five days ago. Could this be a clue?

October 18, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Memories of a Cold War gone by

This one's a bit dated now (and kind of overly sanitized if you've ever seen The Day After, which came out around the same time and scared the bejesus out of me), but it's still effective, for all that; the "meltdown" of the home movie at the end always chokes me up. One commenter at the YouTube site writes, "Looking at Chernobyl it's almost a premonition." It is...and it's more than just that. It's an admonition, a warning never to let this happen for real.

Yes, President Obama, this song's for you.

October 14, 2009

What a truly unworthy Nobel peace prize winner looks like

This is an old film clip from 1977, included in a documentary called Nuestros Desaparecidos (Our Disappeared). An Argentine reporter asks Henry Kissinger (Nobel peace prize, 1973) what he thinks of the general leading the Argentine junta:

Kissinger's reply is par for the course--for Kissinger. He never met a butcher he couldn't like, and General Videla is no exception. In fact, Kissinger was helping the Argentine junta behind the scenes through the Dirty War, as well as praising them openly before the cameras, and he knew full well what was going on.

Now, I don't agree with Barack Obama getting the Nobel without having done more to earn it. But at least he still has ample potential and opportunity to become a true peacemaker and undo the bad moves of his predecessor. I hope he takes it in the spirit it was intended--as an incentive to do better. Kissinger, a cynical butcher all the way, lost no opportunity to urinate all over his prize.

Incidentally, Kissinger's co-recipient of the 1973 Nobel, Le Duc Tho, turned it down, on the grounds that his country (Vietnam) was not yet at peace. Maybe it was also because he didn't want his good name tainted by sharing a prize with Henry Kissinger. If so, one could hardly blame him!

(Thanks to El Gaviero for linking to the documentary site and bringing this to my attention.)

October 9, 2009

A giant joke on the whole notion of world peace

"The Right to Live in Peace", by Víctor Jara. He wrote this song in honor of Vietnam when the war there was still raging. For speaking out for the Vietnamese, and for his own Chilean and Latin American brethren, Jara was "rewarded" by being one of the first to be rounded up and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in the infamous National Stadium in Santiago. The triggerman may well be brought to justice, but the real murderer--or, more accurately, murderers--got away with it.

Good morning! I guess you've all heard by now that His Barackness has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he'll be going to Oslo to claim on December 10. And I'll bet that you, like this lovely Venezuelan lady, are scratching your head over it and going "WTF???"

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The people's ombud of Venezuela, Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

"We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas--one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace," Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

"The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?" she asked, on a VTV program.

According to Ramírez, the lack of concrete achievements during his reign is another reason to reject the decision announced from Norway.

Obama heads a fairly young government, whose results have yet to be seen in practice, she said.

Ramírez, a social worker by training, said that if the prize were given for speeches, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, would deserve one.

Evo proposed a climate tribunal and advocates for defense of the planet, Ramírez said.

Ramírez says that instead of accepting the prize, Obama should close the US military bases [in Latin America], order the 4th Fleet, which patrols Latin American waters, back to port, and seek pardon for genocides committed or permitted by his country in all the world.

Translation mine. Link to Evo's speech added.

I should also add that Evo kept Bolivia from crumbling in the hands of separatist terrorists planning his assassination, and a bloody civil war, from the city of Santa Cruz, with the help of wealthy local financiers. The bastards didn't get him, nor did they blow up his floating parliament on Lake Titicaca as they'd planned, but they did manage to kill his little elderly aunt, Rufina.

Meanwhile, to give you a feel for just how big and dirty a joke on world peace this cynical prize-giving really is, may I direct your attention to this fine piece, by NACLA's Roque Planas, in Venezuelanalysis?

The announcement in mid-July of the near completion of an agreement to allow the U.S. military to lease space at seven Colombian bases prompted nearly unanimous rejection from South American governments. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has called three summit meetings to discuss the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has refused to back down. In the meantime, other South American nations have begun to arm themselves, fueling fears of an arms race in a region that has not suffered a major inter-state conflict since the end of the Chaco War in 1935.

The source of greatest tension lies on the Venezuela-Colombian border. The Uribe administration argues that it needs increased U.S. military support to suppress drug traffickers and the leftist insurgency of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the Colombian government has yet to bring formal allegations, the Uribe administration has insinuated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports the FARC and has diverted Swedish-made rocket launchers to the group-a claim that Chávez denies.

Chávez, on the other hand, maintains that the U.S. government was involved in a 2002 coup to overthrow him and claims that the increased U.S. military presence constitutes a national security threat to Venezuela. Chávez recently announced that the Venezuelan government had been awarded over $2 billion in financing from the Russian government to purchase tanks and an anti-aircraft missile system.

Venezuela is not the only country investing in its military. The Brazilian government is currently negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal with French company Dassault that could be worth up to $7 billion. Three other companies, including Boeing, made unsuccessful offers.

The Bolivian government has also negotiated a much smaller deal with Russia for $100 million to finance unspecified purchases of military equipment, as well as a $30 million presidential plane. The Bolivian government purchased the current presidential plane back in the 1970s.

As if determined to rekindle memories of the Cold War, the Russian military is even going to "help Havana modernize and train its military," according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.

Linkage as in original.

It bears saying that all this "alarming" arming comes not as part of some nefarious terror plot against the people of Latin America, nor is it a declaration of war against those in the United States. It comes as a direct response to the military forces the US has placed in Colombia--seven of them to make up for the closure of the US base at Manta, Ecuador. (President Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, refused to renew the concession, which ran out this year.)

It also comes in response to other alarming developments, such as this:

The United States will reactivate a radar base and finance the construction of a naval base in Costa Rica, as part of a plan rejected today [October 8,2009] in the region as a menace to sovereignty and security.

The subcommander of US-Southcom, Paul Trivelli, announced the decision to return to operation a modern radar base in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, with the supposed objective of combatting drug trafficking.

According to Trivelli, the base functioned there until 1995, when it was closed after several years of operation.

The powerful radar sat on top of Cerro Azul de Nandayure, a site difficult to access, protected 24 hours a day by the police.

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Trivelli also announced the investment of $15 million in a naval base already being constructed in the Caldera region, Puntarenas province. There, as well, a school for coast-guard officers is in operation.

Although the Southcom representative claims that these actions are part of the War on Drugs, the announcement caused concern over the renewed interest of Washington in placing more military bases in the region.

Translation mine.

This is a particular concern for Costa Rica, since that country abolished its own armed forces six decades ago, in stark contrast to others in the region, in order to prevent war and military dictatorship from ever taking hold in what was, for the longest time, Central America's most stable and peaceable democracy.

Now, it seems, Costa Rica is defenceless, and since it needs the money (why else has it become such a hotspot for sex tourism?), it's not in any position to "Just Say No" to the War on Latin America Drugs. Instead, it's playing host to something that can only be injurious to its security and sovereignty in the long run (as well as providing heaven only knows how many potential new gringo customers for the local underage prostitution rings.)

The war in Iraq is far from over, and the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up, not wound down. And for this, among many other things, a Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today.

No, I don't understand it either.

PS: El Duderino shares my sentiments, I see.

PPS: So does El Gaviero.

PPPS: Michael Moore has weighed in. Go read! An excellent, timely reminder of what has to be done to earn the prize for realz.

PPPPS: Avaaz has a petition going. Just sign here.

September 10, 2009

Two former US soldiers speak out for peace...in Venezuela

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Meet Benji Lewis, 24--US army vet, and now, because of what he went through at Fallujah, a peace activist.

Eva Golinger has a knack for finding all sorts of interesting things that the government of the US would undoubtedly prefer that we not know. She's found evidence that USAID--supposedly an agency to aid development in underdeveloped countries--has actually been financing coupmongers (some of them extremely violent) in Venezuela and Bolivia. She found enough material for two books--or was it three?--just on Venezuela alone. Now she's branched out; she interviewed two soldiers-turned-peace-activists recently, and here are some of the highlights from the piece she wrote for her blog and Venezuelanalysis:

EG: When did you go to Iraq, Josh?

Josh: September 2004 to September 2005.

EG: What did you think when you were going there?

Josh: I was against the war but at the same time figured we already started the war and so should see it through and help the country rebuild. It was hard to think about. I was in charge of interrogations in Irak. And Source Operations, running sources to get information. I was in Mosul, Iraq. In Iraq, 95% of those detained and interrogated were innocent. The interrogations agitate the population against you. If they weren't terrorists or insurgents when detained, they will be afterward! The reason why 95% are innocent and still detained is because the way to measure succes in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam where it was a body count, is based on the number of detainees. It doesn't matter if they are women or children or innocent. I didn't participate in physical torture and beat detainees. But I did participate in psychological torture.

EG: But you knew torture took place?

Josh: I saw the victims of the torture. The bruises and lashes all over their bodies came from somewhere. We would send the detainees to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Militia that were working with us and they would do the torture for us. I had concerns about that especially because torture doesn't work well for getting information.

EG: Benji, you were in Fallujah during the Blackwater scandal?

Benji: Right after. I was sent to Fallujah and there was excitement because it was right after the Blackwater scandal and we were on a mission of revenge. No one told us what had really happened except that US citizens had been killed by the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. So I was excited because I was going to be in a mortar unit and would be able to do what I was trained to do, we were going to utilize our mortars. We thought we were going to Fallujah to neutralize an insurrection, but they didn't tell us that the entire city had already been bombed by the US for about a week and a third of the population was already displaced or dead. We were being told that this was a mission of revenge, we didn't know they were Blackwater mercenaries that had been killed, we were told they were just US citizens. Several batallions of marines were unleashed on the city from every angle. It was a seige. There were thousands of us that assaulted Fallujah. We surrounded them and cut off their electricity and water, we bombed mosques.

EG: The military wasn't giving the soldiers any kind of information?

Benji: Hearts and Minds is double rhetoric. You have to first control the hearts and minds of the troops committing these atrocities before sending them to war. You have to lie to them--otherwise you can't fight these kinds of wars.

This interview also appears in Spanish in the Correo del Orinoco, and at YVKE Mundial.

Josh Simpson and Benji Lewis have also appeared on Venezuelan TV. Vanessa Davies, who hosts Contragolpe ("Counterpunch", or in this case, "Counter-coup") interviewed both of them. Josh's interview can be seen here; Benji's here. The videos are in Spanish and English. There's some translation, but it's not hard to get the gist of the questions being asked.

What they have to say is great, and we all need to hear it--over and over and over again. What bugs me is that there seems to be more interest in what they have to say in Venezuela than back where they come from. What's that saying again, about a prophet in his own land...?

September 2, 2009

Freedom and Democracy (TM), baby!

This is what's guarding the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, right now:

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These are "contractors" (read: MERCENARIES) from a private security firm. Yes, they really like to drink vodka out of the cracks of one another's asses...among other things. Mother Jones has more:

Drunken brawls, prostitutes, hazing and humiliation, taking vodka shots out of buttcracks--no, the perpetrators of these Animal House-like antics aren't some depraved frat brothers. They are the private security contractors guarding the US embassy compound in Kabul.

These allegations, and many more, are contained in a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday by the Project on Government Oversight, which has been investigating the embassy security contract held by ArmorGroup North America (a subsidiary of Wackenhut, which is in turn owned by the security behemoth G4S). The contractor was the subject of a congressional probe earlier this summer that found serious lapses in the company's handling of the embassy security contract, which internal State Department documents said left the embassy compound "in jeopardy." Nevertheless, the government opted to extend the company's 5-year, $189 million contract for another year.

[...]

Numerous emails, photographs, and videos portray a Lord of the Flies environment. One email from a current guard describes scenes in which guards and supervisors are "peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks (there is video of that one), broken doors after drnken [sic] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity...." Photograph after photograph shows guards--including supervisors--at parties in various stages of nudity, sometimes fondling each other. These parties take place just a few yards from the housing of other supervisors.

Multiple guards say this deviant hazing has created a climate of fear and coercion, with those who declined to participate often ridiculed, humiliated, demoted, or even fired. The result is an environment that is dangerous and volatile. Some guards have reported barricading themselves in their rooms for fear that those carrying out the hazing will harm them physically. Others have reported that AGNA management has begun to conduct a witch hunt to identify employees who have provided information about this atmosphere to POGO.

Because hey, what are Freedom and Democracy all about, if not nightly frat parties, hookers, booze and hazings? Your tax dollars at work, USA!

PS: Yes, I know. That was VERY hard on your virgin eyes. Here, have a kitty chaser.

August 29, 2009

Why have we not heard of Marwa al-Sherbini?

First, a bit of backgrounder, courtesy of al-Jazeera--the only major English-speaking network to have given this shocking murder story ANY coverage:

And now, I weigh in.

When I googled for Marwa's story, to find out the particulars, I got this blog post at the top of my search. The post is excellent in itself; I have no problems with it. What bugs me is that the very first comment it got...is THIS:

All hate crimes are horrible. Yet you perceive this with blinders on. Most Muslim women murdered in Europe are murdered by their father's or husband's in honor killings. How many women have been murdered for wearing a veil? One. How many have been killed for refusing to? Hundreds if not more. Also, hate crimes like this have happened in Europe and the USA where it was the Muslim who was the perpertrator. I live in Seattle where a Muslim opened fire on a Jewish Center last year killing one and seriously wounding four. Why didn't the Muslim media report on it?

...which sounds to me like it's just a hair away from justifying the exact racism and bigotry that led to Marwa's death in the first place. "They do it to (fill in the blanks), so tit for tat." The "why didn't the Muslim media report on it" bit is also a sweeping generalization: How does this "jane doe" know they didn't? Can she read Arabic? Has she scoured the "Muslim media" for the report she claims did not exist? My educated guess is that she doesn't know, can't read Arabic, and hasn't done a damn thing except fire off at the keyboard to diminish the impact of a death that should not be minimized under any circumstances. Very slick work on the part of "jane" to deflect people's attention from the horrific facts of Marwa's death. (Happily, lots of other readers--including Muslims who DO follow the Arabic-language media--take her to task for her lies.)

This tendency to minimalize the violent deaths of those who don't blend in with Western society fits right in with what I blogged two days ago, about the Canadian government being willfully and selectively blind to the abuse perpetrated against Muslim Canadians abroad. It amounts to undeclared institutional racism. In Germany, similar things are happening, and on local soil. Since I am the daughter of two German immigrants myself, this touches me where I live. I cannot afford to be blind to this sort of thing. After all, I blog the news that goes unreported or underreported here.

And yes, Marwa's death is big news. I am ashamed to say that it is news to me, totally unknown until today. A full two months after it occurred. How could this be?

Marwa's murder occurred in eastern Germany. That's significant in itself, because the "Eastzone", as it's called, has lingering socio-economic problems dating back to before reunification. Ingo Hasselbach, an East German who used to be a leading neo-Nazi in the area, wrote extensively on those problems in his memoir, Führer-Ex. Kids disaffected by the failures of sovietism (not to be confused with socialism, or even communism) and further disenchanted by the failed economic promises of capitalism, have a high risk of becoming the very thugs their parents and grandparents were rightly taught to abhor. Eastern Germany still lags behind the western three-quarters in terms of jobs, education and health. It is, in short, a perfect storm of the circumstances that breed fascism and xenophobia. And it has the violent crime statistics to prove it.

Moreover, Marwa's murderer was a Russian national (claiming German ethnicity). No doubt he came to Germany in hopes of finding better prospects than were in store for him back home (post-Soviet Russia is in even worse shape than East Germany.) He landed in the depressed Eastzone--and, predictably, found nothing. Meanwhile, there was Marwa, right next door. Another immigrant, but with a difference: She had a job, an education, a growing young family. She had much to live for; she had, in short, a future. Something the murderer did not have.

But what really galled him, I'll bet, was that Marwa was a Muslim. She wasn't acting like a "proper" second-class citizen. She wore her headscarf openly and didn't try to look assimilated. How dare someone like that behave as if she belonged? (Which she did?) To his twisted reckoning, she must have been a terrorist--someone out to impose Islam on the west. The sort of people the shitty racist "anti-jihad" pundits, like Mark Steyn, are always "warning" us about.

Or maybe not; maybe he just called her that because of pure spite and resentment. Possibly it was the product of all this and more. Whatever it was, she took him to court for it. And right there, in the courtroom, in front of everybody, he stabbed her to death. 18 knife-thrusts in all.

Marwa's death caused a huge outcry in Germany as well as in Marwa's native Egypt (and throughout the Arab/Muslim world), but news of it somehow failed to make it across the big pond. Meanwhile, the media here were all over the death of Neda, the Iranian woman killed during protests against the Ahmadinejad government, literally like flies on a carcass. Why was Neda's story so much hotter than Marwa's?

Maybe it's because the anti-jihadis were quick to seize on Neda's death as proof that Islam is inherently evil and murderous. After all, those who killed her were believed to be agents of the so-called Islamic Republic. Visibility is also an issue, albeit a secondary one; Neda's death was caught on camera and broadcast via Internet, but Marwa's wasn't. The anti-islamists therefore had more graphic "evidence" to exploit. But most of all, I think it's because Marwa was killed by an obvious islamophobe, while Neda was killed by an alleged islamist. Apparently, a Muslim who kills is a worse person than a killer of Muslims--so runs the logic, no?

Now, why is it worse for a killer to be Muslim than white, presumably Christian, etc.? The antis would probably justify their unequal consideration by saying it's because those people are all violent, all terrorists, all out to impose their religion on the west by force. The fact that nothing of the sort has happened makes no nevermind to them. "They're just lying in wait", is the standard response you're likely to hear. "They're still plotting it, still waiting for all you dhimmis to fall in line before dropping the hammer."

Well, there's a fine bit of projection. And you're just as likely to hear it coming from the slimeballs at Stormfront, where the lying-in-wait, the plotting, and the hope that conditions will ripen into favorability are all running rampant...among the very people who are out to exterminate anyone who doesn't "breed" correctly.

What makes all these rightard bloggers and pundits any better than those neo-Nazis? What makes them any better than the kind of person Ingo Hasselbach was before he saw the light and left the movement? The fact that Mark Steyn used to be Jewish (he's now a Catholic)? Gimme a fucking break. Adolf Hitler probably had Jewish ancestors too, and he was definitely a practicing Catholic. Does that make him any less of an antisemite, any less a murderer of Jews?

As far as I'm concerned, if you're on the right-hand side of the political spectrum and you subscribe to or defend this kind of beliefs, this attitude that "they" are out to oubreed "us", you fit right in with the neo-Nazis. Why not go on over there and join them in earnest? They're looking for recruits. I'm sure they'll be happy to have you. And it will be easier for me to identify you if I can see a swastika tattooed right there on your big dumb forehead.

But if you're really NOT a racist, and NOT a bigot, and you find those swastika-wearing thugs abhorrent, then you'd better wake up and speak out. Wake up to the death of Marwa al-Sherbini. Speak out against bigotry. Wake up to the fizzing brew of insanity and inhumanity that got into the killer's blood. Start using free speech for its true purpose--denouncing--and stop defending racist and fascist blather on the grounds of freedom of speech simply because they're "unpopular". They're not, in fact. They're very popular indeed, as anyone who's been on the receiving end of the brutal end product of such speech could tell you...assuming s/he lived to tell the tale.

Marwa al-Sherbini did not.

August 28, 2009

Another nail for the imperial coffin

Or should that be a screw? You know, the kind they put to people when torturing them?

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Moral high ground: guess who no haz it.

According to the report, written by the CIA's former inspector general, John Helgerson, one CIA interrogator told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks that "We're going to kill your children" if there was another terror strike on US soil. Another interrogator allegedly tried to convince Abd al-Nashiri, who allegedly devised the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, that his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him, a claim that the operative has denied.

[...]

US laws on torture forbid threatening a detainee with death. The report said that at least Mr al-Nashiri was hooded, handcuffed and threatened with a gun and a power drill. Another detainee was forced to listen to a gunshot in a nearby room, with the aim of making him think that a fellow detainee had just been executed.

Emphasis added.

The nice part is, this is all happening because citizens who believe in human rights for everyone did a little screw-putting of their own:

Mr Holder's decision was bolstered by a recommendation from his Justice Department's ethics office to reopen nearly a dozen alleged abuse cases. "I fully realise my decision ... will be controversial," Mr Holder said last night.

As Mr Holder reopens investigations into the actions of CIA interrogators, human rights groups and many Democrats are urging him also to focus on the Bush-era officials who, they claim, authorised the abusive methods. They are particularly focused on the Bush-era Justice Department lawyers who wrote legal guidelines for the CIA in 2002, redefining torture to allow techniques such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and severe physical abuse.

"The important thing now is that any action doesn't focus solely on the people who carried out the torture, but on the people who gave the orders and who wrote the legal memos which facilitated torture," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU.

Of course, they did it without torture.

There's a valuable lesson or two in here. Let's see if those who need it will learn it.

Colonel Benavides, terror of the Venezuelan oppos

Meet my newest hero:

His name is Antonio Benavides Torres, and he is a colonel in the Venezuelan national guard. Chavecito recently awarded him the country's highest honor--the Medal of the Liberator.

So what did Col. Benavides do to deserve it? Have a look:

What? No battle? No blood? No drama?

That's right. Col. Benavides kept the public peace. He played the music of Venezuela's most popular folk singer, the late Alí Primera, to counteract the ugly crap being blasted at the recent oppo demo. And when the oppos tried to provoke the national guard and the metropolitan Caracas police into starting a riot, the colonel wasn't having any of it. He grabbed a mike and told his troops not to fall into the trap--that this was an oppo strategy to generate violence and try to force the expulsion of President Chávez. When a reporter from oppo channel Globovisión tried to get in his face and provoke a direct confrontation, he headed her off and told her to get back and record her "ambient sound" from a respectful distance. Result: No drama--and no excuse to get rid of the president. And no satisfaction whatsoever for Globoterror's crew, who went away with their tails between their legs.

Peace, democracy and socialism win again. The End.

August 27, 2009

Shaming us all as Canadians

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I have this shirt, BTW. And there is a very good reason why I have it...

As a Canadian, I am deeply ashamed.

I am ashamed of how, for all that we pride ourselves on our multiculturalism, when push comes to shove--when people from a culture the rest of us barely understand (if we understand it at all) are mistreated abroad--we, as Canadians, seem all too happy to shrug our shoulders and let it happen--that is, until the mistreated ones are forced to fight back to the point where we are all, collectively, embarrassed. And only then do those with the power to do something about it finally do the right thing. But they tend to do it in a too-little-too-late sort of way. And it's all because of the culture--or more correctly, cultures--of the mistreated ones.

Yes, people, I'm talking here about Canadian Muslims. People with names like Suaad Hagi Mohamud, or Abousfian Abdelrazik, or Maher Arar, or even Omar Khadr. They are all very different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: they are Muslims.

Well, actually, they have something else in common, too: They were neglected and/or shat upon by our own government precisely because they are Muslims.

Ever since 9-11, it's been hard to talk about Islam--what it really means, what it doesn't. It shouldn't be. There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and how many of them are hardcore, far-right, plane-smashing-into-buildings jihadists? As I recall, it only took 19 of them to pull off the infamous events of that day in 2001, plus a couple of paymasters wiring cash back and forth.

And there was not a vast conspiracy of the entire world of Islam behind them, no matter what any scaremongering turd from the punditocracy (or any screeching fruitbat from the blogosphere) says. Out of a billion or more people, only a few hundred or thousand have gone in for terror training; fewer still actually pulled off an attack. A great many one-time terror trainees have chickened out, and some have even informed on their erstwhile comrades.

But even these (who far outnumber the actual suicide bombers) are a very small subset. The majority abhor all terroristic behavior, calling it un-Islamic, and rightly so. Most of the world's Muslims in fact live by the laws of the land, even when those laws are secular, and they have no interest in imposing Sharia on non-believers--through terror or otherwise. Here in Canada, there was widespread misinterpretation of some proposed changes to Ontario's faith-based divorce arbitration law--changes that would have been inclusive of Muslims, but definitely did not impose "backdoor Sharia", as the screamers all feared it would. (The point later became moot when the Ontario goverment scrapped the proposal, mainly in response to pressure from all the screamers.)

Who was the real terrorist in Ontario's divorce-arbitration kerfuffle? Surprise: Not the Muslims. It was the screamers. They hijacked the debate with fear, loathing, and ultimately, sabotage. How very civilized, humanistic and Western of them! What a great example to the Muslims of the world...in how NOT to do things. It also must have confirmed every one of their suspicions that we are just as xenophobic and bigoted up here as any redneck south of the 49th Parallel. Not exactly a point of pride for any of us, unless you're a screamer--in which case you're chronically oblivious to how much of a shit you look to everyone else.

And all this screaming came out of the woodwork after 19 men crashed some jets on a bright September day. Just 19 of them, and what a panic they unleashed. It's crazy! The truth should be head-thumpingly obvious: The overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists. But they are all being treated as terrorists by our government, and 9-11 is to blame. The fires of 9-11 have blinded half the world to what the other half is really thinking.

It doesn't help, either, when our government or its agents, in their zeal to root out terror plots, actually end up helping to foment them. They have done it either directly, as in the case of a group of misguided young men who planned a local 9-11, or indirectly, as when they agreed to go along with NATO and fight Unocal's pipeline wars in Afghanistan (thereby putting us on the shit list of precisely such groups as the one I just mentioned). Whether as entrappers or entrappees, our government just embarrasses the hell out of me whenever it pulls this thoughtless crap.

But what embarrasses me most is when our government willfully permits Canadian citizens, who just happen to be Muslim, to be abused abroad. Every one of the four Canadians I mentioned earlier was subjected to maltreatment ranging from unlawful imprisonment to torture. And had they been white Christians, it is very doubtful that they would have gone through any of that. Whatever one thinks of Islam (and I for one am very uncomfortable with the brand subscribed to by Omar Khadr's bat-shit crazy family, and relieved to know that it is actually very uncommon), one ought to realize that tolerating the imprisonment and torture of others simply because they're of a different religion is to perpetrate the same form of persecution that you are accusing that religion of doing!

And when you start with the persecution of one religion, where does it all end? You'll notice that on the t-shirt I posted above, there are symbols of not only Islam, but most of the world's other religions as well. There's a good reason for that.

Shortly after 9-11, the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton, Ontario, was fire-bombed. Apparently the vandals who bombed it mistook it for a Muslim mosque. The fact that Hinduism and Islam have very little in common was no deterrent to the bombers--they saw brownish people in baggy clothing wandering in and out, and since the place looked faintly "exotic" and Eastern, well, what more reason did they need? Any religion that didn't conform to the Judeo-Christian canon was automatically suspect. A clearer case of panic-driven religious persecution would be hard to find.

And Hindus were not the only non-Islamic religious group to suffer. Sikhs also bore the brunt of the hysteria, thanks to the fact that traditionalist Sikh men wear turbans. And Jerry Falwell blamed pagans--uh, that would include little red-haired Wiccan ME--for angering God into "letting" 9-11 happen! I have icons and scriptures of many different religions kicking around my place. So you can kind of see why I'd get touchy enough to buy a shirt like that, eh?

And of course, me also being a Bad German, I'm rather keen on what Pastor Niemöller said. It was true then, and it's still true now; just substitute "Muslim" for "Jew".

Have we really progressed so little since the Middle Ages that we let this prejudice blind us to the rights of Muslim Canadians? I hope not. But with the way my own government has been acting (or NOT acting) toward them, I think you could forgive me for not holding my head as high as I'd like to (even when I'm wearing my bad-ass shirt). This selective blindness to injustice against Canadians abroad shames us all. And it shames us all as Canadians.

PS: Great minds, etc.

August 23, 2009

Music for a Sunday: A little breeze from Cuba

A lively yet understated version of a great classic by Carlos Puebla.

And one sent to me by a friend who, like me, is waiting for another revolution of conscience and justice, this time on mainland North America. Since torture has happened/is happening at Gitmo (though not at Cuban hands!), it still relates to Cuba, too.

May the winds of change get blowing in earnest, now.

August 19, 2009

This one's just for you, Carl...

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A couple of days ago, a flying monkey 'winger calling himself Carl pooped on this entry here. I had written out a nasty little reply, but I've had sober second thoughts, and what's more, I've a hell of a lot more to say today. Since that entry's about to roll off the front page with the posting of this one, I'll copy out for you exactly what he crapped so you can see for yourself how ridiculous it is, even just on the face of it:

I honestly hope that fucking thug Chavez tires to invade Colombia or incite some kind of border skirmish. Having trained and operated with Colombian forces from 1990-2004, I can guarantee you that they would kick the living shit out of Chavez's hollowed out army.

Carl, are you a masochist? Because you sure sound like you WANT to have your ass soccer-dribbled by a female civilian peacenik.

I don't normally indulge stupid men's death wishes, but I guess I can make an exception, because in a remarkably compact form, you've just encapsulated all the collective stupidity of your ilk. So, here goes...

First of all, the fucking thug here is Uribe, not Chávez. Tattoo it on your forehead if you have trouble remembering this simple declarative sentence, Carl: ALVARO URIBE IS A FUCKING THUG.

All of South America has a problem with Uribe. Venezuela and Ecuador do because they're right on Colombia's border, and they're sick to death of having to mop up the bloody spillover from Colombia's civil wars. (They're also sick to death of being bombed and invaded by Colombia, with gringo "help".)

And they're not the only ones. Uribe took a whirlwind tour of South America lately, to no avail. It didn't matter that he wasn't giving press conferences, and that his motorcade managed to evade the huge mass protests everywhere he went; he wasn't feeling any love. Evo actually smacked him around in Bolivia, which took some serious cojones. Even the big ABCs--Argentina, Brazil and Chile--aren't buying what the gringos' puppet dictator is trying to sell.

So, Carl, I bet you're wondering what their probem is? Well, in a nutshell, it's the sovereignty, stupid! When one country just pisses on all its neighbors by saying it's gonna let the US build bases there, and it's going to collaborate in spying and terrorizing, nyaaaah--what did you expect? Imperialism isn't welcome there anymore (not that it ever really was, except to the idle rich, who were more than happy to have a US-backed death squad killing the uppity peasants so that they wouldn't have to dirty their own aristocratic hands at it.) There are any number of good reasons why the locals have been yelling "Yankee go home" for over a hundred years now. Some of them are dead now, but others could still go before The Hague, assuming that a local tribunal doesn't get to them first.

Colombia, incidentally, is rife with trial-worthy human rights abusers who are unlikely to face justice at home because the system there is deeply corrupted. Every administration since the Bogotazo, at the very least, has peasants' blood on its hands. There are corruptos in every cabinet, and Uribe himself is the biggest one of all. Hey Carl, have you heard yet that he was good friends with Pablo Escobar, and even rubber-stamped the pilots' licences for the latter's flyboys? It's true!

And that's not even touching the paramilitaries. If those aren't fucking thugs, I don't know who is. And Uribe's doing nothing to rein them in; in fact, he's actively linked to them. What does that say about him?

Now, about your fond little hope, Carl...that Chavecito will "tire" to initiate a border war. (How the hell does one tire to initiate wars? Dyslexics of the world, untie!) Sadly, you're not gonna get your widdle wish, because Uribe is now whimpering around with his tail between his legs:

Last Friday the president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, said his government was interested in repairing relations with Venezuela and Ecuador. On the same day he also said that the Colombian government had sealed negotiations with the United States to allow U.S. troops to be deployed on seven of its bases in Colombia. Chavez responded that for such actions, the mending of relations was impossible.

[...]

Chavez, speaking on his weekly TV show on Sunday, said it would be impossible to renew relations with Colombia because of Colombia's verbal attacks on Venezuela and the threat posed by the US military bases on its territory.

Venezuela also froze its relations with Colombia after hearing about the planned US bases, and then being accused of selling weapons to the FARC by the Colombian government. It withdrew its ambassador to Colombia on 28 July, reinstalled it on 7 August and is seeking alternative trading partners.

"Uribe said extremely cynically that he wants to repair relations. They are attacking us, they are slandering us, and then he says that he wants to mend relations between Colombia and Ecuador. But how? He can't. It's already impossible, there's no way to repair this," Chavez said.

That's not war talk; that's diplomatic and trade talk. It's also a plain, bald statement of facts. He's not saying "We're gonna bomb Colombia", because there's no interest in throwing good blood after bad. He's an intelligent man, disinclined to quarrel with an obvious stooge because it's undignified--and, it bears repeating, he is NOT a fucking thug.

Now, I know you're more than a little hard of thinking, Carl, because you obviously didn't comprehend a word of my earlier entry. Since you claimed to have spent 14 years in Colombia, you ought to know at least enough Spanish to watch and understand the video I posted on the entry you defaced with your puerile war-mongering gibberish. I call bullshit on your claim, Carl--if you had spent that long in Colombia, you would understand not only Spanish, but local issues, a lot better. Your grasp of the news is that of a typical armchair general from Freeperville. You haven't "trained and operated" with anyone, in other words.

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I also call bullshit on the notion that Uribe and his gringo backers would "kick the living shit out of Chavez's hollowed out army". First off, the Venezuelan armed forces are not "hollowed out", they've been purged of their SOA-trained putschists and cash-diverting bloodsuckers. That's good for morale, as well as patriotism and loyalty--all of which they have in abundance. They're also newly equipped with matériel that actually works. Venezuela has replaced its old FAL rifles with Kalashnikovs, and even has a Kalashnikov factory or two now. They've also been phasing out their dying F-16s, replacing them with some very capable Russian-built fighter planes. Perhaps you've heard of the Sukhoi, Carl? If not, let me show you it.

Venezuela don't need no stinkin' gringo hardware. These Sukhois (and the others still to come) are perfectly capable of bombing the shit out of any military base in Colombia, including the gringo ones, if Venezuela or Ecuador is attacked. If not, the planes will keep on flying just for show, as they're doing above. There won't be any border war, at least not one started by Chavecito, although he seems more than capable of finishing it. The one who will provoke the border skirmish--and who has already tried it more than once--is that fucking thug Uribe, and no other.

BTW, Carl, I'd really like you to explain to me how a "hollowed out" military could be capable of doing this:

180 clandestine drug-running airstrips destroyed, according to this EFE report from last year. They're still hard at it, too. That's why you're paying so much more for all that crack you're smoking lately, Carl--Venezuela's not playing nice with your DEA smugglers anymore. (Pretty soon you won't be able to afford any, and that's fine with me. If you wanna see "hollowed out", try googling the search terms "US economy".)

Like I said, they don't need no stinkin' gringo hardware, or no stinkin' gringo "help" combatting drugs! What they need, Carl, is for the US and Colombia to get the fuck off their turf and leave them the hell alone. Is that so hard to understand?

You can "honestly hope" whatever you like, Carl, but at the end of the day, you're just another dumbass whose hopes will, thankfully, never be realized. You need to STFU...and find better things to hope for, "honestly" or otherwise.

Personally, I honestly hope you stop smoking crack.

August 12, 2009

Dame Vera commits a heresy! Oh noes!

She's most famous for "We'll Meet Again", as well as the translation of the German song in the video above. She's 92 years old, and still clearly in possession of all her faculties--including an important and underestimated one called critical thinking. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dame Vera Lynn, singing a song you've never heard from the veteran wartime entertainer before:

Dame Vera Lynn has questioned Britain's role in Afghanistan.

The 92-year-old is critical of the campaign which has cost the lives of 196 personnel, saying: 'I don't know what Afghanistan's all about, I don't know what we are doing there.'

Dame Vera, who entertained troops as far afield as Egypt, India and Burma during the Second World War, said: 'At one time, our soldiers would fight for the country they came from to stop the enemy invading, but now they are involved in other countries' problems.'

She was less than complimentary of the Government, which has been criticised for seeking to challenge the amount of compensation for wounded soldiers.

Dame Vera told The Times: 'I don't know why there should be a problem. I mean, they are out there fighting, helping other people.

'They are our boys and they should be looked after. The money that is wasted on stupid things and then they quibble about this.'

That, my friends, is the heresy: Dame Vera supports the troops, but not the war. In an age when "Support the Troops" is often another way of saying "get behind the war, you unpatriotic wimp", she is brave enough to challenge the conventional belief that the war in Afghanistan has anything to do with protecting the West's "freedom". And to utter what the younger and cockier of us seldom find the nerve to say when some raging wingnut is in our faces doing his best to shout us down.

May 12, 2009

An open letter to the US State Department

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Hello, humorless suits...

A little birdie told me today that you've been reading this site--specifically, this entry. I'm not sure exactly what about it intrigued you enough that you took the time, but hey...thanks for taking the time. It's not every day that government agents read this humble blog.

Or is it? Maybe, from now on, it will be; I can only hope.

Now, why would I hope that the traditional enemies of democracy, the sponsors, mentors and trainers of death squads, would stick around here and read stuff I wrote and/or translated? One would think I might be freaked out to learn that you spooks had been here.

Not a chance.

Actually, I've been spoiling for a scrap with you guys. I was bullied as a kid, and now that I'm all growed up, I've decided to stand up for the underdogs, the way no one on the playground stood up for me when I needed it most. So, bullyboys, consider this your long-overdue punching-out.

Since so many people who have a major beef with you speak Spanish, and you seem to be utterly deaf to everything they say (even when they learn enough English to say "Yankee go home"), I've been diligently translating their news in the hope that someone pays attention and takes it to heart. And yes, I hope that someone is YOU.

You see, dear faceless suits and earpieces, I don't think you have any idea how bad you people look to the rest of the world. Especially Latin America. Oh sure, there are a few oligarchs, sell-outs, and paid-off local bottom-feeders who will still flatter you and fawn on you, and take your smelly money and your crappy "advice" on how to run their countries and their economies. They'll wave your flags at their astroturf demonstrations, and they'll go out of their way to eat your burgers and buy your overpriced crap. But in case you haven't noticed, they've lost a lot of ground among their own. Except for Peru, Colombia, Panama and Mexico, they're not in power. Everyone else has a more-or-less progressive government. There's a reason for that.

And no, it's not "anti-Americanism".

It's pro-Americanism.

Permit me to explain.

First of all, you people are NOT the only Americans. The Americas stretch all the way from our Canadian Arctic Circle to the ice-cold Argentine toe of Tierra del Fuego. Everyone from here to there is an American. Even the Cubans.

Secondly, all these Americans have a right to freely elect their own sovereign governments. Whether you people like those governments is immaterial; you don't get to decide anymore to replace them on a whim. Oh sure, for a while there you did...but those days are over. Got that? They're over. Finished. Kaputt.

(And yes, even the Cubans elect their representatives. They have elections; they just don't have multiple parties, and they don't have right-wing parties as a result, either. Maybe you don't like that. But whether you like it or not, I think it's safe to say that the Cubans prefer it to the alternative. Even your own former generals have admitted as much.)

Thirdly, the weak "democracy" you tried to peddle down there when your beloved military dictatorships failed hasn't worked out either. It was fraught with corruption (which I'm sure was to your benefit) and it left them in insupportable and often odious debt to the IMF, the World Bank and other "development" banks which were nothing more than ATMs for you, and cash vacuums for the people of LatAm. Please don't pretend that you don't know what I mean by that. Anyone can see by how rapidly LatAm grew poorer as the US grew richer that there was a two-way money pipeline operating, and the larger pipe of the two ran south-to-north.

Now that the various strong democracies are putting some serious muscle into turning off the valve and keeping more of their hard-earned dinero at home, diverting it into domestic channels instead of those of international capital, I can hear you guys crying foul. Oh sure, you do it in polite code. Sometimes you do it as yourselves. Sometimes you do it in the guise of media columnists (fifth columnists?) and "journalists" (note the quotation marks; they are there for a reason.) But no matter what way you do it, I know what you're saying. It's plain enough: you label anyone who doesn't keep the valve all the way open as a "dictator", or you claim that they have an "anti-freedom" agenda. You do this even when it's frankly ludicrous. It doesn't matter to you if it's true, as long as the US sheeple believe it to be true.

And yes, I'm well aware of the CIA's ongoing media project. It never really ended. Its job is to "influence" or "shape" public opinion--in favor of whatever the corporate sector and you guys decide between you is in your collective interest. Thus, for a couple of decades there, we got a lot of very strange editorials and opinion pieces proclaiming that brutal military dictators had "saved" Latin America from the communist boogyman, with a blithe glossing-over of the fact that democracy had also died there, in an apparent case of "collateral damage". Perhaps you guys mistook democracy for another nasty-wasty commie? It's an easy mistake to make.

(By the way, I'm also quite certain the CIA reads this blog. I get an inordinate number of hits from Virginia, and an awful lot of seriously stupid, intentionally misleading comments from people whose IPs trace back to there, too. Hi and a big fat one-finger salute to all you folks in Langley, and your Miami station too!)

In the end, though, all your efforts to subvert these countries' democracy--be it through outright dictatorship or the buying and rigging of elections, all the gambits you used have failed. There's only so much moral, intellectual and literal bankruptcy a country can take, and all those "little" countries (some of them as big as Brazil or Argentina) have either reached their limits or are approaching them now. Sooner or later, they were bound to turn their backs on you, the better to turn their faces back toward their own people.

Now they're looking at their own and trying to figure out how to do right by them. Their first priority is not what you think in Washington, or what your CIA pals think in Miami--it's what they themselves think. They might still be willing to have diplomatic relations with you, but this time around, they want it to be a two-way street, with you people listening respectfully for a change and KEEPING YOUR HANDS THE HELL OFF. That's not anti-you, it's pro-THEM. Pro-American, in the most catholic sense of the word.

I prefer not to take any side but that of peace and friendship. It makes for better relations all around. But yeah, if it's a matter of picking sides between them and you, guess what? This former bullied child is gonna stick up for the underdogs. They need to know that someone in the Northern Hemisphere, someone not a native speaker of Spanish (but willing to learn, in fact willing to teach herself) will stand with them. They don't get a lot of solidarity from gringos, but perhaps this Canuck will do. After all, our country has been treated like your backyard, too, and a lot of us are just as angry and resentful at the way you've undermined and subverted us. Even as I write this, I'm seeing the way efforts are being made to privatize our public educational and healthcare systems, all in the name of compliance with NAFTA. Those systems were hard-fought-for in the 1950s by a democratic, elected socialist named Tommy Douglas, who faced ugly anticommunist hysteria back then, too. So, yeah, I can totally relate to the Latin Americans. And if they want to be socialist, I think they should be free to decide it without your interference, however subtle, sneaky, subversive and underhanded.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you learned something. And I hope it makes you deeply doubt yourselves.

March 22, 2009

Fascist fashion in Israel

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When the ends don't meet it's easier to justify the means...

--Bruce Cockburn, "The Trouble With Normal"

This really speaks for itself, does it not?

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Ha'aretz has the whole story.

March 16, 2009

A song for El Salvador

Alí Primera, the Venezuelan folk singer, dedicates a number to the people of El Salvador during a peace concert in the 1980s:

"The Blue Hat". With subtitles.

March 1, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Two you're not likely to hear on commercial radio

From Venezuela's own Dame Pa' Matala, my latest musical crush:

"En favor de la paz". Crazy hippie peacenikkery never sounded better! Stick around till the end and you'll even hear a bit of German.

And one whose chorus requires no translation. Something tells me these guys don't like Daddy Yankee. Or misogyny.

I think it's only fair to warn you that these are both extremely infectious. If you get earworms (especially from the latter!), don't blame me. Just get up and dance, 'kay?

February 4, 2009

Why the Two-State Solution will fail

A remarkable CBS report presents the unvarnished facts on the apartheid state being built by Israel in the West Bank:

In Part 1, we see how the apartheid has already taken hold--and how the West Bank and Gaza have been intentionally fractured in an effort to gradually appropriate ALL Palestinian lands for settlement by Israel. A Palestinian doctor talks about how he has been edged out of being able to work in Jerusalem, the city of his birth. An apartment building where Palestinians live is routinely occupied by the Israeli army under the pretext of using it (the highest building on the highest hill in Nablus) as a lookout point. If that is the case--if they only use it as a surveillance post--why do the soldiers chase people out of their own homes and bedrooms? Why are the women corralled? Why are the children not allowed back into their own house after school?

In Part 2, we see how unemployment and poverty are being used to drive Palestinians further and further into a corner. Palestinian workers are forced to build Israeli settlers' compounds; Palestinian farmers are locked out of their own lands by the Wall of Shame. The unrepentant, intransigent arrogance of a settler mayor hammers it home. Will candidate Tzipi Livni keep her campaign promises and get the settlers out? The last time this solution was tried, the settlers made a huge to-do that embarrassed the government and weakened its will to evict illegal settlers. Meanwhile, Arabs are still being evicted from THEIR homes. Whatever could that mean?

January 22, 2009

Quotable: Sir Gerald Kaufman on Israeli double standards

Mike Malloy just played this on his radio show. There really is nothing to add to this, other than a loud, proud "RIGHT ON!"

January 19, 2009

The Rebel Rooster of Gaza

Venezuelan TV host Walter Martínez has lately taken to running a live feed from Ramattan TV on his show, Dossier. Since it's just before dawn in Gaza at the time of Dossier's live broadcast, you get to hear some interesting sounds from there:

...including the muezzin's call to prayer from a local mosque, the buzz of various drone planes patrolling with night-vision cameras, and...cock-a-doodle-dooooooo!...a defiant rooster, yelling his own "fuck youuuuuuu!" to the Israeli army holding the city under siege.

In this video, he appears to have company--several human voices join the cock-a-doodle chorus. And a Chilean cartoonist in Venezuela has also picked up on the rooster's rebellious symbolism:

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Long may he crow.

January 14, 2009

Evo's my hero, yet again

And now he joins Chavecito in diplomatic sanctions against terrorist warmongers:

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Wednesday his country cut diplomatic ties with Israel over the offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed hundreds of Palestinians.

"Bolivia had diplomatic relations with Israel," Morales said in a speech before diplomats in the government palace. "Considering these grave attacks against ... humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel."

Of course, this being Reuters, the reporter couldn't resist trying to subliminally link this decision with the fact that "Venezuela is a major supplier of aid to Bolivia." As if it were somehow relevant (it isn't. Evo has a conscience, dumbass.)

Now, will El Ecuadorable make it a three-fer? How about Cuba? (Is Israel on speaking terms with Cuba anyway, diplomatically speaking?) How about any of the rest of LatAm, the Caricom, or the ALBA? C'mon, guys, step up to the plate. It's cojones time.

PS: Check out El Duderino's piece on the same story. He's got pix of what Evo's speaking out against. Yep, it's really got bugger-all to do with Venezuela's aid.

Quotable: Robert Scheer on Israeli double standards and media complicity

"The basic argument is that Palestinian terrorists represented by Hamas are given to an irrational hatred of Jews so profound that it invalidates their movement, even when they win elections. That was not the view of the Israeli security service when it earlier supported Hamas as the alternative to the then dreaded PLO. Also, history is replete with examples of terrorists becoming statesmen, even within the early ranks of Jews fighting to establish the state of Israel.

"One of those was Menachem Begin, who went on to be an elected leader of the new state. But before Begin attained that respectability, back in 1948 when he visited the United States, a group of prominent Jewish intellectuals including Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook and Hannah Arendt wrote a letter to The New York Times warning that Begin was a former leader of the 'Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.' The letter urged Jews to shun Begin, arguing, 'It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.'

Begin's new party was then participating in the Israeli election, and Einstein and his colleagues, many of whom like the physicist had been victims of German fascism, stated, 'Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character.'"

--Robert Scheer, "Why Do So Few Speak Up For Gaza?", at Truthdig

January 12, 2009

Dept. of Unintended Results, Israel, Inc.

Found at the Scarlet Pimpernel:

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No doubt the Israeli hacker who used this 'toon to deface the Palestine Chronicle website (which is now, happily, restored) thought he was being clever by slamming Hamas (baselessly) as a bunch of cowards using children as human shields. But what this anonymous Einstein forgets is that the Israeli soldier in his cutesy widdle doodle--supposedly a brave defender of babies--apparently has no qualms about aiming his gun at a Palestinian baby.

Incidentally, the hacker is also a master projectionist. We have yet to see credible evidence that Hamas uses Palestinian children as human shields, but hey--we can't say the same about Israel!

Various things the Israeli authorities don't want you to see

Thanks to commenter Utpal for alerting me to this one:

A CBC report with Neil Macdonald, showing the ethnic-cleansing angle on the murder of a Palestinian mother. The soldiers the Israeli news crew interviewed are most explicit on the point--one of them calls the Palestinian house they just invaded "dirty".

Naturally, the Israeli authorities are pissed at the light this puts on them and their military operations. One of them, who condemns Palestinian "censorship", actually says the Israeli station, Channel 2 (who deserve a lot of credit for filming this and having the guts to air it openly) should have exercised "self-censorship"! Double standards, anyone?

A commenter at YouTube writes:

If the failure to evacuate the injured woman was a mistake, then why are there so many reports of same or similar actions. It seems that there is a pattern whereby the Israeli military prevents humanitarian aid to reach the wounded and dying. And maybe there is a policy of such behavior.

It would certainly not be the first time an operation like this was ascribed to "a few bad apples"--remember My Lai? How about Abu Ghraib? Those were due to "bad apples" too, according to the US government. But the truth is that there was a pattern, and when followed to its source, it went straight to the top. The original Winter Soldier hearings proved that My Lai was not a "mistake", nor an "exception", much less "the fog of war". One former GI said that the "last lesson you catch" before shipping out was how to disembowel and skin a rabbit--a clear exercise in brutality, and a demonstration of what soldiers bound for Vietnam were expected to do to any locals who got in their way. As for Abu Ghraib, it's clear that all that abuse came from the top, too--someone in the bowels of the Pentagon must have had orders to use abusive prison guards, who had been that way in civilian life, as prison guards for Abu Ghraib. Just recently, Dubya admitted to having personally authorized the use of waterboarding. (He also vetoed a ban on it, which is a clear indicator of where he stands.)

No, this is not a case of "a few bad apples". This is ethnic cleansing. Someone taught that "good Hebrew boy", as the one soldier calls himself, how to dehumanize and brutalize Palestinians, and how to view them as unclean. It's a lesson the Israelis have learned well from their US patrons. And THAT is something the IDF and its masters in the Israeli government don't want you to know.

Last night I happened to be watching a CTV (Crappy TV) nightly newscast, and they came right out and told how the Israelis were controlling the media--especially foreign media. They won't let them into Gaza unless maybe they're "embedded" with the IDF, in which case, again, the Israeli authorities are clearly doing their best to make sure no one sees anything they don't want the world to see--that is, anything that doesn't present the Israelis as innocent victims defending themselves against an Islamist assault. It was not something I'd have expected from CTV, which is second only to CanWest Global in cheerleading for all things Israeli. I nearly fell out of my chair in shock. Even CBC didn't air such a report, although as the Neil Macdonald piece above demonstrates, there is ample opportunity for them to report and comment.

Meanwhile, Media Lens demonstrates another media phenomenon, common in Britain as well as over here and in Israel--the blatant favoritism of the media in conflict reporting. The report is called "An Eye for an Eyelash", and it's the first of two parts, well worth reading.

January 11, 2009

Quotable: Justin Podur on crapaganda in the Canadian media

"Modern Western armies, like those of Israel, the US, and Canada, think of information as part of warfare. They expend tremendous time and resources mobilizing support for their violence. They do this by controlling information, disallowing independent journalists (as Israel is doing), using embedded journalists, and running a massive public relations machinery designed specifically to deliver arguments and propaganda for the foreign press and for foreign consumption. There is a special machinery just for Canadians, and a special strategy to sell war in Canada. There was one for the Iraq war, there is one for the Afghanistan war, and one for Israel's wars as well. What is so unusual about the media environment today is that all this expense, all this media machinery, can be circumvented by anyone in its target audience by the simple click of a mouse. So click away."

--Justin Podur, "Turn off the Canadian Media, Please"

West Bank Palestinians praise Hugo Chávez at rally

Demonstrators in Ramallah fly the Venezuelan flag and carry Chavecito's official portrait during an anti-war demonstration. They are thanking him not only for having the cojones to kick the Israeli ambassador out of Venezuela on principle, but also for the humanitarian aid he promised--and delivered--to their brethren in the Gaza Strip.

Yes, this is just another of those unreported and very inconvenient news items that don't make it through the lamestream filter.

January 10, 2009

Simon Wiesenthal Centre jumps the shark

Oh, the poor Wiesenthalers, how they've come down in the world. They've gone from hunting Nazis...to inventing them where none exist. How pathetic is this?

It appears that Mr. Chavez did not wait very long to do an about face. And it unfortunately demonstrates that such declarations and agreements do not really reflect the "facts on the ground". It is not yet understood why the Wiesenthal Center waited until the Ambassador left this morning to issue this release.

The Wiesenthal Center indicated that Chavez is in violation of the agreement which calls for "Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela to condemn racism, religious intolerance, racial discrimination and related intolerance".

It may also be that the Wiesenthal Center is taking prophylactic measures against what others have stated may be violations against Venezuela's current Jewish population. It is unfortunate, however, that both Brazil and Argentina have had their share of anti-Semitic incidents, despite having sizable Jewish communities.

Emphasis added on the most interesting bits.

Notice that there have been no antisemitic incidents named--at least not in Venezuela. That's because there haven't been any. Brazil and Argentina, on the other hand, have had them, but since their presidents have not expelled any Israeli ambassadors, they're not being singled out for whatever threats the Wiesenthalers are trying to make. What does that tell you?

Here's what it tells me:

This is not about antisemitism or "violated" agreements in Venezuela; this is about punishing a leader who dared to speak out against human rights violations committed by the Israeli government and military. In other words, they're denouncing Chavecito for holding to his agreement, but not in the "right" way. He's opposed to racism, religious discrimination, persecution, etc.--not only against Jews, but also Arabs, Muslims, and most specifically, the Palestinians of Gaza. Somehow, though, that's not kosher with you-know-who.

The Wiesenthal Centre has just tipped its hand and revealed that it is no longer a human-rights organization, but a tool of Israeli foreign policy. They've also revealed that when it comes to Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, they make a major exception to their anti-racist/anti-discrimination stand.

In short, they've jumped the shark. The only difference between them and Fonzie is that the Fonz never did a faceplant at the end of his shark-jump.

Short, sweet and to the point...

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This goes out to anyone who'd call me, or any other peace activist critical of the actions of Israel, "disgraceful apologizers for Muslim aggression against Jews".

I suppose I should put out the welcome mat for all you whiny little trolls, so here it is:

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I'm gonna go right on criticizing until they stop giving the world shit to criticize. And if you don't like it, you know where to shove your double standards.

January 9, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: What the world needs now...

...is love, sweet love...

Since that seems to be in short supply, though, I'll settle for a pic of Evo, yummy Evo:

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...who has left no doubt where he stands on the mid-east peace issue. That's why we love him...

And speaking of love, Beirut has named a street in Chavecito's honor. For some reason, Latin leaders who take principled stances are very popular in the Middle East.

January 8, 2009

The Bad German dares to hope...

...for what? Peacekeepers in Gaza! When? SOON!

Germany has welcomed a proposal by Egypt's President Hosny Mubarak for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed satisfaction with Israel's willingness to establish corridors for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. High-ranking members of both parties in Berlin's grand coalition government have declared a willingness to provide German peacekeeping troops to monitor a possible truce in Gaza under a UN resolution. However, a German government spokesman called any such discussions premature.

Premature, maybe. But this Bad German is still saying Bitte, bitte, bitte...

January 7, 2009

Opposing a terrorist war is NOT antisemitic!

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Jewish women sitting in for peace at the Israeli consulate in Toronto. Photo by Judy Rebick, Rabble.ca

If it were, why would Jewish Canadian women do it?

Toronto police have been called in to remove a group of Jewish Canadian women who occupied the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street on Wednesday.

The group is protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza and calling for an end to what they say is an 18-month long siege that has prevented the flow of humanitarian aid.

"(They are) carrying out this occupation in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza and to ensure that Jewish voices against the massacre in Gaza are being heard," the group, Jewish Women For Gaza, stated in a release.

Here's a link to the group's most recent press release, at Sources.com. Here's an excerpt:

The group is carrying out this occupation in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza and to ensure that Jewish voices against the massacre in Gaza are being heard. They are demanding that Israel end its military assault and lift the 18-month siege on the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

Israel has been carrying out a full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip since December 27, 2008. At least 660 people have been killed and 3000 injured in the air strikes and in the ground invasion that began on January 3, 2009. Israel has ignored international calls for a ceasefire and is refusing to allow food, adequate medical supplies and other necessities of life into the Gaza Strip.

Protesters are outraged at Israel′s latest assault on the Palestinian people and by the Canadian government′s refusal to condemn these massacres. They are deeply concerned that Canadians are hearing the views of pro-Israel groups who are being represented as the only voice of Jewish Canadians. The protesters have occupied the consulate to send a clear statement that many Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel′s violence and apartheid policies. They are joining with people of conscience all across the world who are demanding an end to Israeli aggression and justice for the Palestinian people.

The group includes: Judy Rebick, professor; Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst and president of Science for Peace; B.H. Yael, filmmaker; Smadar Carmon, an Canadian Israeli peace activist and others.

Judy Rebick is a well known name up here in Canada, as a feminist primarily; she used to be president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. She's now a social justice activist, founder of the popular progressive news forum Rabble.ca, and oh yeah, she's also a prof at the same university where I studied journalism--Ryerson, in Toronto.

Judith Deutsch is also an illustrious and prominent Canadian, as a scientist and peace activist.

And of course, we know how Chavecito and Evo feel about this war. Looks like they're in good company. Excellent company, in fact.

I'm not Jewish (Wiccan here!), but if I could join this sit-in, I'd do it proudly. In a vicarious sense, by following news like this (very underreported, so's you know), I am.

January 6, 2009

Two for Palestine

Spanish punk group Boikot (how do YOU think it's pronounced?) featured in two videos--a photo-collage set to their "Wall of Shame", and a live rendition of the power-rocky "Scorched Earth".

Enjoy!

What the lamestream English media won't show on Gaza...

...Venezuelan TV will:

Walter Martínez and his excellent current events show Dossier bring you the whole story. Including some shocking violations of the Geneva Conventions, namely the use of white phosphorus on Gaza by the Israelis. Video in Spanish, but refreshingly propaganda- and bullshit-free.

January 5, 2009

Hamas rocket damage: The latest pictures are now in!

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Reuters photo. Taken on the road near Sderot. Gee, I bet that one left a crater.

And remember, kiddies, this is what the Israelis are bombing Palestinian welding shops for.

January 4, 2009

Gaza through the eyes of the devastated, and some devastating truths

Video taken on December 27, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, by members of the International Solidarity Movement. As you can see, the devastation of the Israeli bombings is much more severe than the TV news in your area has probably led you to believe. In this video, a school and a police station suffered damage. It puts the dirty lie to all the assertions that the Israeli bombings are "surgical strikes". There was nobody from Hamas in the school OR the police station. These are NOT Hamas compounds. This is the targeting of civilians, a tactic of total war. Over 200 Gaza Palestinians died in this particular attack alone.

Incidentally, the Israeli military has a big PR offensive going. Apparently they've learned only one thing since their last attack on Lebanon, and it is NOT how to make peace or behave decently; it's how to get the major media and the Internets onside. They're now posting their PR on YouTube (and no, I'm not linking the channel; the last thing their propaganda needs is more admiring eyes.) They've already falsified one particularly nasty bombing, claiming to have taken out a truck full of Grad missiles when, in fact, it was a family that owned a welding shop, rescuing their oxygen cylinders from a bombed area. The incident was so grotesque, and the propaganda so blatant, that Israeli human rights group B'Tselem saw fit to decry both.

When an Israeli major says that "The blogosphere and new media are another war zone," you quickly realize that you're not about to get the truth from anyone with a dog in the fight. The coverage of the warring factions has fast dissolved into propaganda, and in the western media, it's definitely one-sided coverage favoring Israel. I have no more stomach for that side of the story than I have for hearing the propaganda of Hamas or any other militant group. It's not the warring factions whose story must be told, but that of the innocent, and that of those who demand peace. Human rights organizations on the ground are our best hope for getting the truth of what's going on in Gaza; let's hope they can continue to get videos like the above out to us. It's going to be harder to find, however, as the ground invasion of Gaza goes on; telephone lines and Internet access are collapsing as I write. Vital informational ties between Gaza and the world are being severed. Very likely we won't know the whole story until after the fact--that is, after the damage is done. And, most likely, after the Gaza strip has reverted to Israeli control, as I suspect is the real objective here.

This is not legitimate self-defence, nor is it a proportional response to the paltry amount of damage the Hamas rockets have done. There is no excuse for what either side has done, but it's clear to me who has done the most and the worst. Considering how the TV in my neck of the woods has been flooded for the past few months with tourism ads for Israel, stressing the word shalom, I find the irony striking. Have they forgotten that shalom means peace?

Even more striking is this: Hamas would never have achieved the strength it now has if Israel had not attempted to use it to drive a wedge between Palestinians, and to oppose the PLO. Now they have their blowback, and they are using it in turn to justify the eradication of Palestinian Gaza. Remind you of anyone or anything?

And of course, there's the unreported angle on this story: What happened to cause Hamas to start rocketing as soon as the ceasefire ended? I googled the terms "Israel, Hamas, ceasefire, provocation"--and found a snippet of a clue in a guest column by Rabbi Michael Lerner in the UK Times:

Hamas had respected the previously negotiated ceasefire except when Israel used it as cover to make assassination raids. Hamas argued that these raids were hardly a manifestation of a ceasefire, and so as symbolic protest it would allow the release of rocket fire (usually hitting no targets). But when the issue of continuing the ceasefire came up, Hamas wanted a guarantee that these assassination raids would stop. And it asked for more. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing acute malnutrition, Hamas insists that the borders be opened so that food can arrive unimpeded. And in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, it asks for the release of 1,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

Whoa there, hold up--ASSASSINATION RAIDS? Under the cover of a CEASEFIRE? Looks to me like someone was provoking Hamas on purpose. That puts rather a new light on all this pious talk of "self-defence" and Israel's right to exist, does it not?

And then I flash back on my earlier findings of Israel fostering Hamas, and another volley of questions arises: Why would Israel deliberately nurture a militant Palestinian group that will not acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Was it only trying to thwart the PLO? Or did it do so with full knowledge that if Hamas ever took power in a legitimate election, it would furnish Israel with an ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever?

Not being privy to what was going through the heads of a succession of Israeli leaders, I can only guess at their ultimate objectives in such an irrational act. But given the fact that Israel has now invaded Gaza, and given the fact that the airstrikes have been anything but surgical, it's definitely tilted my inner scales toward the pan labelled "ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever".

--Special thanks to Slave Revolt for asking me to comment on this matter.

December 20, 2008

Let them eat shoes!

Venezuelan students and journalists demonstrate outside the US embassy in Caracas in support of Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist jailed and beaten for letting Dubya know how Iraq really feels about him. They toss shoes at the sign and the shoes remain hanging. Some gringos from the embassy come out and take the shoes away; the demonstrators jeer at them: "How about that economic crisis? Now you'll have to eat shoes!" (Or words to that effect.)

Bolivarian student leader Osly Hernández says, "We came to the embassy to give them a Christmas present. This is a serious request to the United States to free the Iraqi journalist who was only saying what most of the world wants to say to the US government, and especially Bush. We came to leave them our shoes."

"This is how the left takes embassies, not like the right, who tried to starve them out and make them eat cables," Osly says, referring to the events of the coup of April 2002, when a right-wing mayor, Henrique Capriles Radonsky of Baruta, allowed vandals to storm the Cuban embassy, where they thought the vice-president was hiding. One of the vandals appeared on the opposition news channels, vowing to those inside the building, "We'll starve you out. We'll make you eat the carpets and chairs!" Then they proceeded to cut the electrical cables and shut off the water supply. After pointing out this contrast, Osly goes on to say, "We're sending a message to all the world, of solidarity with those who resist US interference." (The failed coup she refers to is a prime example of that.)

We also see documentary journalist Liliane Blaser, whose films of the events at Llaguno Bridge on April 11, 2002, served to expose the lies of Venevisión, an opposition channel blaming Chavistas for a massacre actually perpetrated by anti-government snipers. Blaser lends her support as a journalist, saying that soon this will be Barack Obama's problem, and he seems to be on the same course as Dubya. "If that's the case," she says, "he will meet with the same rejection."

November 19, 2008

The Trap, Part 1

Subtitled "Fuck You, Buddy". (No, I won't spell it with asterisks, as the Beeb has done. Hey Heddy, is this that "FUCK" movie you mentioned in the comments? If so, brilliant choice--thanks!)

How fear and self-interest created capitalist tyranny in the name of "freedom".

This might also be a clue as to why the Iraqis reject "freedom" as "offered" at gunpoint by US soldiers.

November 18, 2008

One more for the "strictly imaginary" files

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"It's all in your head. You just have no idea how big your head is."

--Lon Milo DuQuette

I wonder how many Gulf War I vets have died for them to find this out:

A report released on Monday concluded that Gulf War syndrome is a legitimate illness suffered by more than 175,000 U.S. war veterans who were exposed to chemical toxins in the 1991 Gulf War.

The congressionally mandated report could help veterans who have battled the government for treatment of a wide range of unexplained neurological illnesses, from brain cancer to multiple sclerosis.

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses concluded that Gulf War illness is a physical condition distinct from the mental "shell shock" suffered by veterans in other wars. Some earlier studies had concluded it was not a distinct illness.

"Scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans," said the committee, which has been looking into the problem since 2002.

The committee, composed of independent scientists and veterans, said Congress should boost funding for research on Gulf War veterans' health to at least $60 million per year.

"This is a national obligation, made especially urgent by the many years that Gulf War veterans have waited for answers and assistance," the committee said.

Of course, if the general pattern of the Veterans' Administration holds true, this report, like the thousands of sick vets it documents, will be malignly ignored by the Congress at the behest of the Military-Industrial Complex. (Ike was right, it IS a military-industrial-congressional complex.)

Remember Agent Orange? That was at least 40 years ago. They're still dragging their heels on THAT one, too. That is, they're waiting for all those exposed to it to die before admitting that it was toxic and carcinogenic, so the manufacturers won't have to pay out damages to their victims or their families.

I hope President Obama will change this pattern, but I'm not exactly bubbling over with wild optimism. Who knows, maybe he'll pleasantly surprise me--but given how corporations have hijacked US politics, I don't hold out much hope. Remember, the Congress has to okay the payouts. And given how much corporate lobbyists, especially those linked to the MIC, are tied to the Congress--what do you suppose the odds are?

November 12, 2008

Dr. Strangewhoops, or How Greenland Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb

Where the hell is Major Kong? Looks like he now has a real-life counterpart or two. Brace yourselves, kiddies, it's a hot one.

What burns me is how close the Thule base is to our own Arctic. I guess this means that to the Nuclear-Industrial Complex, a bunch of Canadian Inuit are disposable, eh?

November 11, 2008

A few (heretical) thoughts on Remembrance Day

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If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

-- Lt.-Col. John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields"

Today is the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, which at that time was known simply as "The Great War".

Nobody back then thought that it was only a FIRST world war, let alone that there would be another (or others, as is now an idea rapidly gaining traction among progressives.) It was known, popularly, as "the war to end all wars"--partly because it was so horrendously destructive, with loss of life on an unprecedented scale, but more, I think, because of the sheer psychological effect of all that destruction on the people who witnessed it at close hand. It caused an enormous distaste for war itself, as well as for the lies that lead to war, and the empires that demand wars in order to perpetuate and sustain themselves. At the Armistice, 90 years ago today, millions of exhausted people sincerely believed that war itself was exhausted--that there could simply never be another, because people would take one look back at the one that had just ended, shudder and decide it wasn't worth it.

How soon they forgot. Just 20 years later, another war was about to begin. Or had begun already, if you accept Hitler's theft of power (and I, for one, do) as the true opening salvo of World War II. The second world war turned out to be an even greater war than the so-called Great War, with more loss of life and more psychological destruction still. By the time Little Boy and Fat Man fried Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, it was clear that the forgetful leaders and peoples of the developed countries had learned absolutely nothing from history, let alone its most horrible prior chapter--which, for many of them, was a vivid, living memory.

Nor, it turns out, would they learn from the second one, either. Fat Man and Little Boy were not the end of their line, but merely the progenitors of a vast and ruinous nuclear-industrial complex. All manner of militarism was so popular and profitable with the US congresses of the 1950s that retiring president Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell speech, very nearly made reference to a military-industrial-congressional complex. Was it only the unwieldiness of the terminology that dissuaded him, or was some other, darker force at work?

What I know is this: Eisenhower, as the general who accepted Germany's surrender at the end of the European phase of WWII, had acquired a personal distaste for war, having seen enough of the shooting kind at close hand to last several lifetimes. A cold war--which I consider to be World War III, since it in fact encapsulated many highly destructive shooting wars, particularly in Latin America--was also repugnant to him, but it seems that talk of the communist menace won out. He mentions that, in the same "military-industrial complex" speech, as a menace "greatly to be feared". Never mind that Soviet Russia had never fired a shot at the so-called Free World, and was in fact its ally during the war against Hitler. Suddenly, at WWII's end, Russia was The Enemy, and Germany was the toy over which the superpowers squabbled, just as Yugoslavia had been some 20 years previously. It made no sense, and still makes no sense, that former allies could so quickly turn on each other for something as abstract as mere ideology--and in fact, ideology really isn't the reason for the sudden turnaround at all.

I've come to an heretical conclusion about the world wars, one that will undoubtedly sit ill with traditionalists and "respectable" historians, who like to tout such pious, abstract notions as freedom, honor and gallantry as the driving forces behind them. But still, mine is the only explanation that makes sense, since a great many free-thinking, honorable and gallant people have never had the least stomach for war, and it does no justice to sweep them under the rug simply because they don't fit a certain "accepted truth". My heretical conclusion is this: The world wars were, and are, all and always, about imperialism, and specifically, imperialism of an economic nature.

Sit back for a moment and let that sink in, dear reader.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Sputtering with rage? Ready to string up the red-headed witch for an unholy blasphemer?

Wait.

And think, for a moment, about why nations go to war against each other in general. What is it that motivates them? A mere hatred by one leader of another leader's guts? Ridiculous. If that were the case, why did Winston Churchill express, early on, admiration of Hitler and Mussolini? And if it was really about democracy versus tyranny, why was he himself a monarchist--and one with bloodthirsty tyrannical tendencies of his own? The fact is, he didn't hate the tyrants' guts or even their grotesque ideologies; he actually admired those. No, the real reason he hated them is that they threatened his beloved British Empire economically and territorially.

And since the territories of empire are acquired for economic reasons above all, it stands to reason that the economic imperative was, however unspoken, paramount. The Boer War, I'm sure, would never have been fought if vast deposits of gold and diamonds had not been found in South Africa. If it were for all the reasons conventionally given, it would have been fought much sooner. Ideology alone was not enough to do it. Neither was geographical unity of the British empire in Africa. And certainly the flaming racism of the Boers was not the real problem; the British were scarcely any better. Winston Churchill himself was a flaming racist; he just wasn't such a country bumpkin about it as the Boers. Class snobbery also counts here, kiddies. Had the agrarian Boers had a Cecil Rhodes to call their own, Britain would surely have lost and its colonists would have ended up toiling like slaves in the mines rather than owning and profiting from them.

Let's face it: Wars fought over political ideology alone tend to be lost by the idealistic ideologues who launch them; wars fought for economic reasons, however, tend to be won by the most avaricious, regardless of who fired the first shot, or of what pretended ideological grounds they claim. This is one field where economic incentive really does shape the outcome. Greek nationalism hit a wall in the 1920s, and Anatolia remains Turkish to this day; perhaps, if cold hard greed rather than nostalgic idealism had been a driving force behind it, and if Greece had been the richer at the outset, the outcome of the Megali Idea would have been very different.

Ideology was, of course, a very convenient pretext for getting the public, especially in the US, to accept the unacceptable: an arms race on which billions of dollars were squandered that would otherwise have gone towards healthcare, education, and social welfare of every kind. Shit, who needs to invest in the peons when their lives are cheaper than the ammo for those highly profitable cannons? Better to scare them with the menace of communism; that way, they'd buy anything. Including stock in the war machine.

Of course, the communist "menace" is still being fraudulently touted today, but it's been largely replaced by the twin spectres of drugs and terrorism, since people have grown largely skeptical that communism was ever such a threat to begin with. Where did they get that idea? Gee, you tell me. How did the Berlin Wall crumble, again?

And what kind of capitalism grew up in its rubble? Something that looks an awful lot like the pre-crash conditions of the late 1920s, you say? Something that looks a lot like history repeating itself, but in a messier, less distinctly staged form, with all the lessons neither learned nor absorbed?

BINGO.

So here we are, drearily slogging through yet another long, ugly, economically motivated world war. For those keeping count, this is World War IV.

Doesn't look like it, you say?

True, the million-scale deaths necessary for a truly spectacular global conflict are not talked about (although, in Iraq, surely more than a million people have died by now.) And no, there's been no spectacular footage of nuclear explosions, either (although radioactive weapons have been deployed, to the tune of 4.5 billion devastating years of half-life.) Talk of ideology, too, is strangely muted, although there are still incoherent mumblings from the US right about some dodo-bird called "Islamofascism", which never existed but once--namely, when Moroccan Moors helped Franco win the Spanish Civil War. (And we all know what side the US right would have taken in THAT one, eh kiddies?)

But economic reasons for the current global cut-and-thrust? Oh, they're there, all right. The biggest one is spelled O-I-L; it's the reason why a funny, lovable democratic socialist leader in Venezuela is being painted as a tyrant (the better to depose him undemocratically). It's also why Ecuador, with its handsome US-educated wonk-in-chief, is being slapped upside the head with an absurd, unwarranted debt rating. It's why the cute, mild-mannered guy in charge of oil-and-gas-rich Bolivia is being satanized as an Indianist racist, despite a total lack of evidence that he is one. It's why right-wing nuts in South Florida are making noises again about the need to annex Cuba, pronto (though, if asked, they will swear up and down that it's that old boogerbear, communism, and nada más). It's also why the war in Iraq is still a long way from over, even though everyone actually fighting it is sick to death and wishing with all their might that it would end this instant. There is talk of that theatre of battle going on for at least another four fucking years!

If this protracted bloodletting isn't a world war, then tell me--what is it?

And tell me, too--if the saying behind our beloved Remembrance Day poppies, dating back to the end of the Great War, is "Lest We Forget"--why the hell have we forgotten, again and again and again?

One would think, after 90 years (and more), that someone besides me would have seen the repetitions of the overall pattern and understood what it all meant.

October 30, 2008

Canadian pop does feminism

"Women Around the World at Work", by Martha & the Muffins. Still the coolest keyboard and sax riffs around. And still some of the punchiest lyrics.

October 22, 2008

This just in: British journos are seriously stupid!

serious-cat.jpg

Media Lens, the British media watchdog group, finally draws a conclusion that I figured out for myself a long time ago: that while the British media may be slightly more liberal than their Yank counterparts, they're still piss-poor at doing their actual job--that is, if you consider said actual job to be informing the public of what is really going on in the world, so that the public in turn can do its part and change the world.

And also, that they're a bunch of snot-nosed toddlers with gargantuan egos:

Since starting Media Lens in 2001, we have learned that corporate journalists are very often ill-equipped, or disinclined, to debate vital issues with members of the public.

In 2004, the esteemed Lancet medical journal published a study showing that 98,000 Iraqis had most likely died following the US-led invasion. John Rentoul, chief political correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, responded with sarcasm when we challenged him about his dismissal of the peer-reviewed science:

"Oh no. You have found me out. I am in fact a neocon agent in the pay of the third morpork of the teleogens of Tharg." (Email, September 15, 2005)

Undoubtedly the redoubtable Mr. Rentoul thought he was being witty by saying that. Well, he's half right--but only half. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt about the morpork thing, but by uncritically repeating, for paid publication, what the neo-cons say, he is in fact making himself into their paid agent. It is only a question of whether they pay him directly or indirectly.

By the bye, Mr. Rentoul, blowing snot all over your readers is no more mature than trashing a really serious peer-reviewed medical publication, like the Lancet, for having the temerity to contradict you. I expect that of freepers, not real journalists doing real work in the field.

But maybe I'm being unkind. Perhaps Mr. Rentoul just didn't understand the question? If so, he's not the only one:

In 2003, Roger Alton, then editor of the Observer, also did not take kindly to a reader accusing him of peddling Downing Street propaganda on the eve of the invasion:

"What a lot of balls ... do you read the paper old friend? ... 'Pre-digested pablum from Downing Street...' my arse. Do you read the paper or are you just recycling garbage from Medialens?" (Email, February 14, 2003)

I do hope the reader in question replied to the oh-so-civilized Mr. Alton, something along these lines: "I, sir, do not recycle garbage...but you, sir, DO. It's nice to know that you are so environmentally friendly. From now on, sir, I will follow your example, and recycle your not-so-hard work forthwith as fish-wrap. It's more useful that way than if I actually read it, as I know full well you have not done with anything you got from Downing Street."

But even when the British media decide to get all Web 2.0 (or is it 3.0 by now?) and offer their readers an "interactive" space to opine in, a double standard still prevails:

Last week, Matt Seaton, editor of the Guardian's Comment is Free website, was asked why he dismissed readers of Media Lens as a mere "lobby", but not readers who post comments on his website. Seaton replied:

"because, unlike MediaLens readers, users of Comment is free are not given directives to spam journalists and others - and would not mindlessly follow such directives if they were" (Email, October 15, 2008)

Strange. I receive Media Lens e-mails from time to time, and I do not receive "directives" via them, let alone ones I follow "mindlessly". At the bottom of every one are suggested actions the readers can take, but these are only suggestions. Not all readers take them; certainly not I, because I've actually got a degree in journalism, have met a number of pros from various media, and have seen for myself what a load of monstrous egos and midget minds inhabit the field (yes, even here in nice, liberal, socialistic Canada). A few are as nice as they come (Ron MacLean of CBC Sports is one of those good eggs); others, many more others, are rude and downright nasty even if you ask them for nothing more than the time of day. I really don't feel like writing to those people, because I know in advance that it won't make a difference. I wouldn't get a satisfactory explanation, let alone a "gee, I never thought of that"; I'd count myself lucky to get snotty responses like those catalogued above.

No, I'd rather write of them than to them, and expose them with mockery here, because here, they can't cow or intimidate or (here comes a big bad word, kiddies) CENSOR me. This is my space, and if they ego-google themselves and happen to come across what I say about them, they get what they deserve. So far, not one of them has done so--or at least, not that I would know, because not one of them has expended the very minimal effort (a gentle fluttering of fingers over a keyboard) to say something back.

Hey media types, here's a little free advice for y'all: If you want to be taken seriously, start by taking your work seriously. Don't get all caught up in what Media Lens rightly criticizes as "professional navel-gazing, ego-burnishing and insider gossip." When you sink to that level, you are taking yourself seriously and your work lightly. The public does not benefit from this, unless perhaps you're thinking to cure our collective insomnia that way. (Melatonin works better. Try it sometime.)

If you're going to have a media section, put it to good use and do some real self-criticism once in a while. It may seem painful at first, it may even seem a little Marxist, but it won't hurt you to learn to take your work more seriously and yourselves more lightly. I do it all the time in my own writing, because I feel that I owe it to my readers, as many or as few as they may be. I do it in my poetry, my fiction, my essays, and yes, this blog. Even the silliest stuff, like my satire and my limericks, gets worked over until I feel it will pass muster and make somebody else's day.

The very least you "serious" journo-types can do, if you want the public to respond to you in kind, is to give some evidence that you are capable of independent thought. You can't do that if you recycle blatant nonsense, or praise it (like so many of you did with the Euston Manifesto, a self-congratulatory non-manifesto if ever there was one)--or if you're all wrapped up in cotton balls, insulated by self and station against what you perceive as the rabble. Hello, you're only human, you're a member of it too--get over it, and more importantly, GET OVER YOURSELVES!

And if you want to convince us that you are Serious Cats, don't lose the serious thread. Report the issues honestly--don't just play back what he said, what she said, what they said. Unless you have the nerve to examine what made them say it, you have no business being in the business. You may as well just hunch on your perches, fluff up your feathers, and say "Polly want a cracker", for all the serious difference you make.

October 9, 2008

Two by Bruce Cockburn

"If I Had a Rocket Launcher"--a peaceful man's anger at war on the poor.

"Call it Democracy"--still relevant today.

This is the kind of great Canadian artist that Harpo thinks is irrelevant to regular folks. Remember this when you go to vote!

September 17, 2008

Bob Woodward loves him some death squads!

God Bless Our Death Squads

There really is no 'ho like an old 'ho...who cut his teeth (or learned to shield them, rather) at the WaHoPo. Eh?

The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed," Woodward said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.

"It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.

Ingenuity, schmingenuity. This is an old tactic, actually. It was first perfected, to my knowledge, in Guatemala during the 1950s, after the place was reconverted to banana-republicanism. The problem was that democracy had broken out, and the natives had gotten all uppity and didn't want to make the United Fruit Co. happy anymore as good little slave laborers. Solution? Genocide. Only, of course, it was disguised as "antiterrorism"--all "terrorists", conveniently, being of a liberal or leftist persuasion, and in favor of land and labor reforms. Or anything else that might actually succeed in digging the locals out of the mire of perma-poverty.

The only real thing that's changed, in all this time, is the locale of the banana-republicanization. And the language of the locals. Otherwise, no hay ningún diferencia.

August 18, 2008

Jeremy Scahill has a YouTube channel!

If you ever wanted to know about US mercenaries and just how low they can go, this is the guy who wrote the book. It's called Blackwater, and it's not pretty, but it's one compelling read. It will wake you right up to the dangers of privatizing everything--including the worst of the worst, namely war. So far, Blackwater and all its false fronts have been immune from prosecution, but that could all change if the government of Iraq manages to cut enough of its puppet strings.

Let's hope so!

July 26, 2008

I could have told them so, but would they listen?

Whoa--is the sky falling, or what? The Economist has finally gotten (partway) off its "rah rah, America" kick and published a (somewhat) honest assessment of what's going on in the States. And a thing of beauty it is, too:

One source of angst is the sorry state of American capitalism (see article). The "Washington consensus" told the world that open markets and deregulation would solve its problems. Yet American house prices are falling faster than during the Depression, petrol is more expensive than in the 1970s, banks are collapsing, the euro is kicking sand in the dollar's face, credit is scarce, recession and inflation both threaten the economy, consumer confidence is an oxymoron and Belgians have just bought Budweiser, "America's beer".

Wow! And that's only the second paragraph. It goes on in that vein pretty much throughout the piece, with occasional excursions into the silly (which I'll get to shortly.)

I think we can safely say this marks an epoch. Just a few short years ago, this self-same Economist was totally behind the Washington consensus. Rather like the woman in the famous picture, cleaning up after the elephant by catching its droppings in a big bag-on-a-stick as they fell, so they wouldn't hit the ground and be seen for the vast load of shit they are.

Unfortunately, this moment of truth shall pass, as does everything else in the transitory world of market capitalism. And in fact, within the same article, we see evidence that the editorial writer doesn't really get what's going on at all:

Continue reading "I could have told them so, but would they listen?" »

July 10, 2008

Quotable: Jeff Sharlet on imperialism

"Fascism may be a purer evil, but empire is a more pervasive one, and ultimately more dangerous because it's able to call on the loyalties of well-intentioned people who'd never go near fascism. But if you're a Vietnamese kid napalmed in 1968, or an Iraqi kid with your hands blown off in 2008, empire is every bit as bad as fascism. Or, for that matter, if you're a Bangladeshi or a Chinese sweat shop worker or an Afghani forced to grow and process heroin to survive, the economic ramifications of empire are as bad as the explicit political repression of fascism. And for decades, what traditional fascism has cropped up around the world — in Central America, in some African nations, for instance — has been made possible only through the support of empire."

--Jeff Sharlet, interviewed at The Wild Hunt Blog

July 2, 2008

17 seconds to moral clarity with Christopher Hitchens

If you haven't seen this video yet, you simply must. In the space of five minutes, you get to see how Christopher Hitchens saw the light on waterboarding in an undisclosed location somewhere in North Carolina. Not only does he admit that it IS torture, he also admits that it's not "simulated" drowning, it IS drowning--of a particularly terrorizing kind. And it takes him just a few seconds to "break". He flings away the metal object (poetically called a "dead man's handle") that the torturers have given him to signal--simply by dropping it--that he can't take the torment anymore. It all looks so unceremonious, which makes you wonder how long anyone can withstand such a treatment.

Here's Hitchens in his own words:

Continue reading "17 seconds to moral clarity with Christopher Hitchens" »

June 10, 2008

CTV reports a death in Afghanistan...

...with a rare dose of honesty:

A B.C. father says the loss of his soldier son to a freak accident in Afghanistan will haunt him forever.

"Of course I grieve," David Snyder told CTV News from his home in Penticton on Sunday about the death of Capt. Jonathan Sutherland Snyder.

"Of course I will have a hollow in my being forever."

[...]

"It's about hazard and chance, and unfortunately there was an accident -- and he died," David Snyder said.

The former reservist also said: "War is stupid. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that. Well, no they don't. The politicians don't know that."

He also told The Canadian Press that he supported his son and the military, but not the Afghanistan mission.

You had to see the video yesterday, though--they actually showed this intelligent, articulate man questioning the government, the Afghanistan mission, the stupidity of war. For a corporate, corporatist, rah-rah network like CTV, this was really saying something.

Of course, some commenters on the CTV site took him to task for it, accusing him of "playing politics" like Cindy Sheehan. I doubt whether this is "playing" anything. Cindy was right to question the cause for which her son died, and so is this man. It's a credit to see, however, far more voices criticizing the critics than the grieving father, who has every right in a democratic country to express his obviously well-thought-through opinion.

It's not a soldier's prerogative to question his mission; it is that of the civilians, particularly his family, who can hold the government accountable in the event of his death.

June 3, 2008

Bugliosi makes the case against Dubya

The California prosecutor (and author of Helter Skelter) who brought the Manson Family to justice has a new book out:

...in which he makes the case for prosecuting Dubya as a war criminal.

I think it has merit.

May 29, 2008

This is what I call a hearing

Generals Petraeus and Odierno were confirmed, but so was something else:

...the spirit of brave women speaking out for peace. They got THEIR hearing, too.

May 7, 2008

KBR = Kid Buggering Rapists

From the color-me-SO-not-surprised files, a little something on the kind of people who are eligible not only for hiring, but RE-hiring by Kellogg, Brown & Root...

In 2006, while working in Iraq for the U.S. military contractor now known as KBR, Ira L. Waltrip was caught in possession of suspected child pornography and fired, according to a federal court affidavit.

He returned home to Lampasas and by the end of 2006, the affidavit said, was rehired to work for the company, previously a subsidiary of Halliburton known as Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Continue reading "KBR = Kid Buggering Rapists" »

April 21, 2008

Quotable: Gary Kamiya on what to do about terrorism

"The only effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to work to end the conditions that give rise to it. In the case of Islamist terrorism, this means a comprehensive and enlightened political, economic and diplomatic strategy for dealing with the Arab/Muslim world. Only a tiny minority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims support radical jihadis, but catastrophic errors like invading Iraq make violent fundamentalism more attractive. Follow the physician's credo: First, do no harm."

--Gary Kamiya, "Iraq: The Ten Commandments", at Salon.com

April 18, 2008

This is her baby

Auntie Condi's double-talk just jumped up to bite her.

Now, when will it do the same for Dubya and the Big Dick?

April 12, 2008

Never gonna give WHAT up?

Rick Astley probably never thought his song would become so useful, but it's the perfect illustration of why John "Insane" McCain should never become president of the US of A.

April 6, 2008

Five Years Too Many

Veterans For Peace staged a brilliant bit of civil disobedience in Washington on the 5th anniversary of IraqAttaq. The vets marched, delivered a citizens' arrest warrant for Dubya, the Big Dick and Auntie Condi and unfurled a large replica of the Constitution to raucous cheers on the steps of the National Archives. Watch for cameo appearances from Buddy Georgia ("drummerboy" on UNN) and Buffy Ste. Marie.

March 31, 2008

Noam Chomsky states the obvious

Obvious to you, me, and Noam Chomsky, obviously. But to the hawkish disaster-capitalist types, maybe not so:

"Aggressors have no rights. Responsibilities, maybe, but no rights."

I wonder what PNAC, BushCo, Halliburton, etc. will all do when they find out that they have no right to be in Iraq. Something tells me they will only find it out the hardest possible way.

March 23, 2008

Headline Howler: Dueling Republicans

Cue up the banjo music. Here comes some inadvertent hilarity from a party that once marched to war on Iraq in lockstep.

First, Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Face the Nation, claiming a "breakthrough in Baghdad" thanks to Dubya's "surge":

Continue reading "Headline Howler: Dueling Republicans" »

March 18, 2008

Lynndie England's Nurnberg Defence

I see that somebody has the same sense of unaccountability as her Commander in Thief does.

Lynndie England, the public face of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, told a German news magazine that she was sorry for appearing in photographs of detainees in the notorious Iraqi prison, and believes the scenes of torture and humiliation served as a powerful rallying point for anti-American insurgents.

In an interview with the weekly magazine Stern conducted in English and posted on its Web site Tuesday, England was both remorseful and unrepentant — and conceded that the published photos surely incensed insurgents in Iraq.

"I guess after the picture came out the insurgency picked up and Iraqis attacked the Americans and the British and they attacked in return and they were just killing each other. I felt bad about it ... no, I felt pissed off. If the media hadn't exposed the pictures to that extent, then thousands of lives would have been saved," she was quoted as saying.

Continue reading "Lynndie England's Nurnberg Defence" »

March 10, 2008

The rich are about to get poorer...

Well, some of them are.

Carlyle Capital shook financial markets last week after missing margin calls from banks on its $21.7 billion portfolio of residential mortgage-backed bonds. It said some $5 billion in securities held as collateral may have already been sold.

The fund, an affiliate of the U.S.-based private equity firm Carlyle Group, warned that if it fails to reach an agreement with remaining lenders, all of its securities may be liquidated.

"While these talks continue, the company has discussed and requested a standstill agreement whereby its lenders would refrain from foreclosing and liquidating their collateral, and we are awaiting responses," the fund said in a statement.

Okay. I'm gonna clench my eyelids here, chop some onions, think of kittens getting their cute widdle fuzzy mewy heads bitten off by Alvaro Uribe, and just try really really REALLY hard to squeeze out a few crocodile tears.

Nope, sorry, can't do it. Here's why:

Continue reading "The rich are about to get poorer..." »

A former FBI interrogator on torture

Yes, Foreign Policy is a smelly rag with some pretty horrible biases and outright distortions. (Their blog also sucks because it can't keep the most basic facts straight, such as the identities of non-white supermodels.) But Jack Cloonan's words to them on the subject of torture are well worth hearing:

BTW, he totally shoots down the "24" scenario of the "ticking bomb" that can only be defused by a torture-obtained confession. He also points out that torture victims tend to become martyrs to their supporters, even if they are "the bad guys" to those on the other side. Not to mention that it really, REALLY makes the torturers look like shits.

March 5, 2008

Colombia: Even deeper in it than originally thought

And if you have to ask what "it" is, here's a hint: It's brown, it steams, it smells bad, and you don't want it all over the bottom of your shoe. Unfortunately, that's exactly where Alvaro Uribe is wearing it right now, in light of the following:

One of the three female FARC guerrillas wounded in the Colombian military operation in Ecuadorian territory last Saturday said today that there had been two bombings against the clandestine encampment in the border region of Angostura.

Continue reading "Colombia: Even deeper in it than originally thought" »

March 4, 2008

Dueling Crapaganda

Chavecito vs. Alvaro the Arrogant...the Cage Match. At least, that's how the Crapagandisti of the Lamestream Media are playing the latest Venezuela/Colombia dispute (over Ecuador, no less).

Just for shits 'n' giggles, here are some of their contradictory headlines, as grouped by subject matter:

Continue reading "Dueling Crapaganda" »

So this is what John Perkins warned Rafael Correa about...

In yer country, stealin yer oils!!!

...and of course, it would have to be Colombia, deciding to repeat not-so-ancient history and once more, conduct a raid on foreign soil without having the common decency to identify that soil's government about its intentions ahead of time.

Continue reading "So this is what John Perkins warned Rafael Correa about..." »

February 21, 2008

Taking the wind out of an overblown pop star

Heh, heh, heh. Didn't see this coming, did anyone now?

Hugo Chavez says Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz is welcome to perform at his presidential palace and denied Thursday that his government retaliated against the Latin Grammy winner because of critical comments he made.

More than 80 performers and other celebrities signed a statement supporting Sanz after his concerts were cancelled in Venezuela. Signers including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Penelope Cruz and even soccer star David Beckham said they "believe in a Latin America where we are all free to express our views."

Venezuelan organizers said Sanz's sold-out Feb. 14 concert in Caracas was cancelled because it lacked "the appropriate conditions." The announcement came after government officials said Sanz would not be allowed to hold the concert at the state-controlled stadium because of his past criticism of Chavez.

Chavez denied any attempt to censor or retaliate against Sanz. "Come here and sing in Miraflores," he said, referring to Venezuela's presidential palace.

Aporrea has more:

Continue reading "Taking the wind out of an overblown pop star" »

February 12, 2008

Hard truths on war-torn Iraq

A veteran for peace, in his 80s, shows what he found on a recent trip to Iraq.

Warning: Very disturbing images.

Iran: Lessons from history

Did you know Iran WAS once a democracy? And that the US is the reason it became a tyranny? And that Britain, too, had imperial ambitions over it? And that oil is the secret cause behind it all?

In just 6 minutes and 20 seconds, you can learn a lot.

February 10, 2008

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Hard home(boy) truth about FUX Snooze:

...and a shout-out to Barack Obama at the end. Let's hope that if nominated and elected, he'll be able to make REAL change to all this.

January 21, 2008

A letter to Mike Malloy

I decided to get busy with the e-mail tonight. Let's see if this gets read on the air.

To: mike@mikemalloy.com

Subject: Maybe it's not my place to say this, but...

Hey, Mike...

Maybe it's not my place to say this, as a white Canadian woman who was just a baby in diapers when Dr. King was killed. Obviously I have no grand and glorious MLK "experiences" to share. So I'll try to spit my bit without resorting to the usual media encomiums and pablum about him. God knows we've all heard enough of those today.

Continue reading "A letter to Mike Malloy" »

January 9, 2008

WooHOO! CodePink goes after the CubanaBomber!

They couldn't have picked a finer piece of shit for their #1 Most Wanted Terrorist, either. Unlike Osama, he's still alive, and still running around loose to boot. This one can still be made to rot in prison, if the FBI hurry up and nab him before he croaks.

Way to go, ladies...I'm joining your mailing list, and ordering a t-shirt.

December 25, 2007

Christmas in the Trenches

John McCutcheon tells the story of his ballad and the dedicated band of German followers it won him.

Continue reading "Christmas in the Trenches" »

November 26, 2007

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Oi, oi, oi.

In honor of their having elected a new PM who's really got his shit together, I feel a song coming on.

November 24, 2007

Quotable: Robert Higgs on crackpot realists

"Crackpot realists never learn anything, even when the lessons are cuffing them roughly about the head and shoulders. They continue to pile on more of the same actions that got them into trouble in the first place, expecting to be seen as Churchillian heroes for staying the idiotic course they have set.

"They keep spinning the bad news, year after year after year, wearing out entire battalions of press officers, until they finally escape from the morass by leaving office. Afterward, they heap blame on their successors for "losing China" or "cutting and running."

"Although the crackpot realists are neither wise nor honest, they are politically shrewd and personally vicious. When their malfeasances are exposed, they toss subordinates to the wolves and prepare the ground for their own pardons, understanding that the political winds may shift sharply against them later on.

"They are not squeamish: they digest mass murder as easily as they consume their eggs and toast, and they do not lose sleep by agonizing over the cannon fodder they sacrifice in the service of their own aggrandizement. Other people's children go to war; theirs go to Harvard and Yale.

"Being busy people, they cannot waste time on pity, except when a photo op requires its feigned expression.

"Imperialism appeals to them: if controlling the economic heights at home is good, controlling them throughout the entire world is better. Once ExxonMobil, Shell, Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Halliburton, and Bechtel have made their multinational arrangements, everything else will fall into place nicely.

"If it doesn't, because some uppity mullah or tin-pot dictator has created a snag, the U.S. Marines are always available, in the immortal words of the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen, 'to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.'"

--Robert Higgs, "The Triumph of Crackpot Realism"

November 21, 2007

Sunsara Taylor owns Laura Ingraham's ass

Give Sunsara credit, she never backs down. And she brings out the ugly bitch who is never far below the surface of one carefully bleached mediablonde:

BTW, get how the students cheer when the World Can't Wait protestors interrupted Tortureboy Gonzales. I bet that's more applause than Bush's Little Tejano ever got in all his slimy career. And FUX could not edit that out! I bet that was especially galling.

As for "good news out of Iraq", Sunsara missed a golden opportunity to get a good laugh at Ms. Dark Roots' expense. I'd have said something like "Yeah, I hear Blackwater's making a killing there--literally!" But she did stick to her guns, which is not easy to do with a barking mad harpy like Ingraham trying to ridicule her (and failing miserably.)

Jimmy Massey in Venezuela

Considering the fact that the US media is quick to label Hugo Chavez's regime "anti-American", there sure are a lot of US nationals, expats and dual citizens living and visiting unmolested in Venezuela. Some, like Eva Golinger, have a high profile. And they enjoy considerable grassroots popularity--the kind the transnational corporate leaders would literally kill for. Why are they being treated so respectfully? Maybe it's not the fact that they are Americans, but the fact that they are dissenters--dissidents of capitalism and the war machine. In their own ways, these Americans are with the revolution.

An emerging force in the ranks of Americans welcomed with open arms in Venezuela is Jimmy Massey. The former Marine and Gulf War II vet's book, "Cowboys From Hell", is a big noise at this year's FILVEN book fair in Caracas. Ernesto Villegas interviews him on his morning talk show, En Confianza, with an expat American, Chris Carlson (who writes at Venezuelanalysis and blogs at Gringo in Venezuela) translating:

Continue reading "Jimmy Massey in Venezuela" »

November 19, 2007

The Warning

Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) has created a powerful video that rings all the right alarm bells. Crank your speakers.

November 3, 2007

Requiem for the last American soldier to die in Iraq

Mike Malloy reads an article speculating on who will be the last US citizen to die for Dubya's asinine blunders.

October 29, 2007

Hmmm, where have we heard THIS before?

And for that matter--when? It all sounds terribly familiar...

France and the US have dismissed a finding by the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog Mohammed ElBaradei that there is no evidence of Iran building a bomb.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin challenged Iran to allow UN inspectors unlimited access to sites.

A White House spokeswoman said Iran was "enriching and reprocessing uranium, and the reason that one does that is to lead towards a nuclear weapon".

Mr ElBaradei said on Sunday that Tehran was years away from developing a bomb.

Gee, this sounds just like that smoking gun that was supposed to turn into a mushroom cloud. But did it? I don't remember, I was too busy watching Dubya crawling around on all fours looking for WMDs.

Well, at least they can't piss all over the French this time. C'est la guerre!

October 22, 2007

Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

John Pilger's documentary, broadcast on British channel ITV in 2000, explores just how old the "Saddam had WMDs" fallacy was, and how destructive. And also how hypocritical was all the tut-tutting on the part of the US and Great Britain. Both countries were responsible for the ascension of Saddam as well as for the WMD stockpiles he did possess--the same ones which were destroyed later on under the UN's eyes.

Judging by the sudden jumps in cancer rates and birth defects, related by the doctors you see here, it's a no-brainer that Iraq was nuked with the ultimate dirty bomb--the "depleted" uranium shell. Yet another layer of Anglo-American hypocrisy reveals itself. Just who were these people to try to starve out Iraq in the name of eliminating a dictator they created and armed? And what right had they to use WMD on Iraq--in the name of eliminating Saddam and his WMD, which they themselves supplied?

Bear in mind that this is the country PNAC urged Bill Clinton to bomb in 1998, feeling that what was going on, though devastating to ordinary Iraqis, was just not devastating enough. Clinton declined to bomb--but over half a million sanctions-related child deaths were, apparently, quite acceptable to Madeleine Albright's State Department. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein and his cronies were demonstrably NOT affected in the slightest by the sanctions. Gee, maybe PNAC was right about bombing and full-scale war (i.e. more death, more destruction, and even less humanitarian aid getting through) being needed to dislodge him.

Oh wait, there was bombing, too. It was still not enough to appease PNAC. Maybe because the targets were a few shepherds, their children...and sheep.

And don't forget, this all happened BEFORE Gulf War II and the current occupation.

September 5, 2007

Do you feel safer knowing this?

I don't.

The US Air Force has launched an investigation after a B-52 bomber flew across the US last week mistakenly loaded with nuclear-armed missiles.

It follows reports in the Army Times that five missiles were unaccounted for during the three-hour flight from North Dakota to Louisiana.

The air force said the cruise missiles were safe at all times.

Continue reading "Do you feel safer knowing this?" »

Schnitzel-eating surrendermenschen?

Was? Ihr habt das ohne Krieg gemacht? Und zwar nur mit Polizei? Was seid ihr, Angsthasen?

Three men have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning a "massive" attack on US facilities in the country, officials have said.

Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said the three had trained at camps in Pakistan and procured some 700kg (1,500lbs) of chemicals for explosives.

She said the accused had sought to target facilities visited by Americans, such as nightclubs, pubs or airports.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said the men had posed "an imminent threat".

Media reports said the men were planning attacks against a US military base in Ramstein and Frankfurt airport.

Continue reading "Schnitzel-eating surrendermenschen?" »

August 27, 2007

9-11 Press For Truth

With Spanish subtitles.

Try to keep your eyes dry.

August 22, 2007

Police provocateurs unmasked in Montebello

Provocateurs policiers? En Canada? C'est impossible.

Non. C'est bien possible:

Story from the Toronto Star:

Continue reading "Police provocateurs unmasked in Montebello" »

August 17, 2007

Quotable: Agatha Christie on war

"One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one."

--Dame Agatha Christie, from her autobiography, published in 1977.

August 16, 2007

Down with Dick!

You know your name is mud when even your neighbors are protesting you.

August 6, 2007

Dump Dick

Ava Lowery compares two Dicks and finds some remarkable similarities:

BTW, if you click on the video itself, it'll take you straight to the YouTube entry. Give it five stars. This girl is working hard for the money to finance her documentaries, and there is prize cash at stake!

July 23, 2007

Palestine is Still the Issue

John Pilger's documentary of several years ago is still relevant today:

Warning: extremely explicit and gruesome. Does not show the Israeli military in a good light, but in an honest one.

What really grabbed me here was how much the illegal Israeli settlement (in Palestinian territory!) looked like a concentration camp in reverse--there is an electric barbed wire fence around the perimeter, but the prisoners are outside, while the "guards" live in relative luxury within it. Why anyone would want to live in such a sterile jail is beyond me. But then again, the settlers seem locked in a prison mind-set of their own. It is exactly like South African apartheid (which, as Pilger notes in another documentary, is still far from dead).

What gives me hope about all this? The fact that some Israelis, even those who've lost relatives to Palestinian suicide bombers, are thinking this through--and coming to the hard truth that it takes an awful lot of despair to become a suicide bomber. And that those thinkers are growing in number. They are drawing the once-unacceptable conclusion that repression does not work--and in fact, will only spur more and more violent uprisings.

Truth first, and justice--and only then reconciliation will be possible.

July 21, 2007

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

A half-hour video exploring the use of napalm (which nobody calls it anymore, but which in fact it is) at Fallujah.

July 16, 2007

Henry Rollins never relents

And in spite of the mechanical gestures and weird camera angles, he's still talking my language.

I think I'm in love.

July 14, 2007

Cindy Sheehan swats a flying monkey

Looks like Fucker Carlson. Talks like an inbred. Believes all the shit Bush shovels at him. Won't serve even though he can.

Ewwwwwww.

July 9, 2007

Americans' real duty to the people of Iraq

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, a Jewish/Iraqi American, lays it out clear as can be:

"Our soldiers don't sacrifice for duty, honor, country--they sacrifice for Kellogg, Brown & Root."

July 7, 2007

FBI: J'accuse!

Puerto Rican reggaeton group, Calle 13, calls out the FBI for the cold-blooded murder of Puerto Rican independence activist Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

There is no more blatant expression of imperialism than when the federal police of the United States show up in full SWAT drag in a foreign country, and kill its most prominent independence fighter on the very anniversary of the day that country rose up against another imperial nation. Some call it a botched arrest attempt, but if that were true, they wouldn't have left him to bleed to death for 12-15 hours from what need not have been a fatal wound. They would have taken him right then and provided him with medical attention. He might still be a prisoner today--but he would be alive.

Did the FBI take up openly what the CIA does covertly? I do believe it did.

June 5, 2007

Cindy Sheehan on al-Jazeera

Riz Khan interviews Cindy after her decision to take a break from active work in the peace movement. She looks and sounds terribly tired. Let's hope she soon comes back rested and refreshed.

June 3, 2007

I am a wild party

Seen at the G8 protests in Rostock, Germany:

I am an armed uprising

His sign reads "I am an armed uprising"--clearly a bitterly ironic statement in light of the fake popgun he's carrying. Nevertheless, the water cannons did not discriminate.

According to Der Spiegel, an outbreak of violence at the fringes of an otherwise peaceful demo spoiled it for those who had something to say besides just "fuck you":

Continue reading "I am a wild party" »

May 25, 2007

Keith Olbermann hits it out of the park

This is what it sounds like when the system breaks down utterly and altogether. One voice cries in the wilderness while those who are in a position to do something...do nothing. No, worse than nothing: they do the exact WRONG thing.

Good night, and good luck. You're gonna need it.

May 13, 2007

You Can't Make It Here Anymore

This video was posted on UNN by Buddy Georgia (who also goes by the alias "drummerboy"), a military vet and peace activist. He's in here somewhere, according to his post:

This is a link to a music video on youtube. While it isn't a particularly flattering photo of me, it was a shock to see my mug in the video. [...] Plus it's a pretty cool tune. P&L, Buddy

That it is...cool, very Buffalo Springfield, and all too true.

Good to see you in there, Buddy!

May 10, 2007

Breaking Ranks: US soldiers resisting war in Canada

My home and native land has a long, proud history as a place of refuge for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the people of conscience. When black Americans fled slavery on the Underground Railroad, Canada was the end station. They followed the North Star to get here, literally. A hundred or so years later, the Vietnam War drove tens of thousands of men to flee the United States yet again--this time from the non-racial slavery that was the military draft. Many of these war resisters became permanent citizens.

Today, our country's reputation as a refuge is under attack. While the people of Canada are as open and welcoming to war resisters as ever, our government is not. There is craven cowardice in Ottawa as politicians seek to tie their fortunes to Dubya's foul star. Why they are doing so, heaven knows; I suspect greed and corporate graft. This is a corporate war, not a war of liberation or against terror, that is being fought over Iraq. Yet too many of our members of Parliament are too cowardly, too deluded, or just too stupid to speak out. They underestimate the true nature of the Canadian people, who are staunchly opposed to this war--and who welcome the soldiers who have said no to it as well.

May 8, 2007

That explains everything

Secret Gay Life

And of course, lack of mental healthcare and lax gun laws had nothing to do with it.

Guns don't kill people, gays do!

What can YOU get for $456 billion?

Funny you should ask.

Shit-Faced Dubya

You can get all kinds of goodies...or you can get one no-good-fer-nuttin', shit-faced, sorry excuse for a preznit.

Incidentally, having flubbed it so completely, Dubya is now in the market for a war czar to hand the blame heavy responsibility off to. Still no takers. (Say, aren't czars some kind of imperial Russian thing? You know, really oppressive-like? So bad that the serfs chose to go with Lenin instead?)

America: these are your tax dollars at work. When will you impeach this tool?

April 30, 2007

Max Cleland draws the perfect parallel

Vietnam War vet and former US senator Max Cleland may have lost three limbs in a grenade accident in 'Nam, but isn't it ironic...his able-bodied opponents are the ones who don't have a leg to stand on. Whereas the once and future Sen. Cleland stands tall:

...and delivers the almighty kick from behind to two sets of gonads.

Saxby Chambliss's cowardly tail will remain permanently tucked.

Meanwhile, Chucklenuts will halt in mid-chuckle, his mouth will drop open, and his nuts will pop out. And this time, even his too-tight crotch straps won't give him the illusion of a supersize package.

April 25, 2007

Milton Nascimento: Song of America

The students of Virginia Tech have resumed classes. It seems to be the only thinkable thing to do after last week; there are educations to complete and lives to get on with. The mourning, however, doesn't end with the memorial ceremonies which are being sadly conducted in public and private, one by one.

Since I can think of no better way to honor the lives lost, I'll post this sweet, sad song by Brazil's inimitable Milton Nascimento:

Continue reading "Milton Nascimento: Song of America" »

April 24, 2007

What do mass killers have in common with Rush Limbaugh?

Funny you should ask:

I've already blogged on this correlation, but this video puts it more graphically.

April 19, 2007

And now, a few words about school shootings

As the Boomtown Rats once sang, the lesson today is how to die.

Call it Death by Second Amendment. Or Death by Insanity. Either way, it works out to about the same thing. Isn't the practical definition of insanity a dogged habit of making the same mistakes repeatedly, yet still expecting a different result each time? When you follow a pattern, the outcome tends to be true to pattern. So if you follow a pattern of insanity, guess what your outcome is.

I hauled out my DVD of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine today, dusted it off and gave it a spin. This was not just some morbid fascination. I wanted to see what, if anything, can be gleaned from it now, five years after its original release and eight years almost to the day after Columbine, to apply to this latest bloodbath. I'm also poring over my old copy of Elliott Leyton's Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, originally published in the 1980s, to see what there is in there that might shed a light.

As luck would have it, there's plenty. Because not much has changed in those years, except for the worse. The Virginia Tech shooter fits right into the same dreary pattern that has characterized school shooters for decades. In fact, he IS the pattern. On steroids.

Bearing that in mind, let's now recall Bowling for Columbine.

Continue reading "And now, a few words about school shootings" »

April 15, 2007

Quotable: Joan Baez (and Bob Dylan) on holy wars

April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Funnyguts

From the wires, a sad but not unexpected item about one of my favorite all-time writers:

American literary idol Kurt Vonnegut, best known for such classic novels as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died on Tuesday night in Manhattan at age 84, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Continue reading "God Bless You, Mr. Funnyguts" »

Whoever wrote this deserves a medal

I don't believe she'll get one, though. Which is a damned shame. Truth-telling has become so rare these days that it deserves something other than some asshole on Craig's List flagging it so it gets pulled.

I'm having the worst damn week of my whole damn life so I'm going to write this while I'm pissed off enough to do it right.

I am SICK of all this bullshit people are writing about the Iraq war. I am abso-fucking-lutely sick to death of it. What the fuck do most of you know about it? You watch it on TV and read the commentaries in the newspaper or Newsweek or whatever god damn yuppie news rag you subscribe to and think you're all such fucking experts that you can scream at each other like five year old about whether you're right or not. Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you don't know a god damn thing about it. It you haven't been shot at in that fucking hell hole, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are "Supporting our Troops" and waving the flag and all that happy horse shit? I'll tell you why. I'm a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that fucking festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he's coming home in a box.

You fuckers and that god-damn lying sack of shit they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.

Continue reading "Whoever wrote this deserves a medal" »

April 10, 2007

A most disturbing video

From a link sent to me by my friend Corey.

Who made this video I don't know, but apparently they are Iraqi. The speaker is very eloquent, and a lot of the statements he makes ring true. He decries the false, meaningless "democracy" of the neo-cons, saying it would be better to live in an outright dictatorship. Food for thought? Yes, and some will say it's hard to digest. Others will probably dismiss it as al-Q propaganda, giving aid and comfort to The Enemy, etc. Make of it what you will, but watch it anyway. It gives no aid or comfort to anyone, only validation to what we in the peace movement have long believed: that Gulf War II is not and never has been about freedom, democracy, stopping terrorism or WMDs.

April 1, 2007

Quotable: Barbara Bush on apathy and ignorance

The Ugly Mind of Barbara Bush

March 31, 2007

How to kick John Bolton's ass

A young anti-war Iraqi woman, Tony Benn and assorted others show how it's done.

Good show!

March 22, 2007

One of our submarines

...is missing

tonight

seems she ran aground on manoeuvres...

Continue reading "One of our submarines" »

March 20, 2007

The Fantasy of Freedom: A Venezuelan documentary

The US peace movement through the eyes of a Venezuelan film crew. Features a short interview at the end with filmmaker Liliane Blaser.

March 17, 2007

Police brutality in Tacoma

This is what a police state looks like. A peace demonstration was tear-gassed with ZERO provocation:

Police claim that barricades (sawhorses) were thrown at them, but this video clearly disproves that. There are no barricades in sight, let alone between the demonstrators and the line of battle-hungry cops. Right before the gas was fired, protesters had simply SAT DOWN, SINGING. It's kind of hard to throw a sawhorse from a seated position without losing the tune of "Give Peace a Chance"!

Continue reading "Police brutality in Tacoma" »

March 10, 2007

Quotable: JFK on war and peace

"Foreign policy today, irrespective of what we might wish, in its impact upon our daily lives, overshadows everything else. Expenditures, taxation, domestic prosperity, the extent of social services--all hinge on the basic issue of war and peace."

--John F. Kennedy, campaign speech, 1951.

"It is unfortunate that unity for war against a common aggressor is far easier to obtain than unity for peace."

--JFK, May 4, 1945 (on the formation of the United Nations)

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."

--JFK, letter to a PT-109 shipmate, May 1945, during the United Nations conference in San Francisco.

March 8, 2007

Poison DUst: another must-see

If you think what it does to US soldiers is appalling, wait till you see what "depleted" uranium is doing to the people of Iraq. And its half-life is 4.5 BILLION years. "Harmless"? Yeah--just like Agent Orange.

February 26, 2007

War won't liberate the women of Iraq

From Yanar Mohammed, a glimpse of how badly gender relations in Iraq have deteriorated since the war began:

Iraqi society was shocked with an unprecedented issue of a woman stepping forward, voluntarily, and explaining that she was sexually assaulted by Iraqi security forces. Instead of pursuing an investigation into this assault allegation, or empowering the victim with moral support, opposing Islamist-sectarian factions competed to exploit the matter politically, preparing the ground for bloody sectarian conflict. They symbolized Sabrine's rape as an assault against the whole "Sunni religious group."

Meanwhile, the heads of Shia Islamist political parties — who are the top officials in the American-approved government — immediately scorned and disbelieved the victim, instead rewarding the accused rapists. Moreover, Iraqi government heads indulged in raising moral suspicions about the victim's reputation.

This entire matter has revealed a misogynist tendency in Iraq as most spokesmen started to scorn and discredit the victim, wishing that no woman should ever dare to speak out the details of her sexual humiliation. Worse yet, a few of these male-chauvinist reporters declared that they preferred that she end her life or live a lifetime of pain and misery without even thinking of punishment for her rapists.

Continue reading "War won't liberate the women of Iraq" »

February 25, 2007

New bird species discovered in Australia

It's the Australian Chickenhawk, and so far only three specimens, all male, have been discovered:

A new bird species: the Australian Chickenhawk

Continue reading "New bird species discovered in Australia" »

February 21, 2007

Send Prince Harry to Iraq...

...see how soon the troops come back!

Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce a timetable for the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq.

Mr Blair is set to make a statement about the 7,000 British troops serving in Iraq at the Commons.

The BBC's James Landale said 1,500 troops were expected to return home in months, rising to 3,000 by Christmas.

Continue reading "Send Prince Harry to Iraq..." »

February 12, 2007

Neil Young sticks it to BushCo

All the reasons why Bush, Cheney and the entire vile bunch MUST be impeached.

February 10, 2007

Quotable: Eric Fair on torture and its consequences

"American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

[...]

"Some may suggest there is no reason to revive the story of abuse in Iraq. Rehashing such mistakes will only harm our country, they will say. But history suggests we should examine such missteps carefully. Oppressive prison environments have created some of the most determined opponents. The British learned that lesson from Napoleon, the French from Ho Chi Minh, Europe from Hitler. The world is learning that lesson again from Ayman al-Zawahiri. What will be the legacy of abusive prisons in Iraq?"

--Eric Fair, "An Iraq Interrogator's Nightmare"

February 1, 2007

And the hearts and minds just keep on tumblin'...

Remember that old TV show, "Love American Style"?

This is something like that.

Call it "Summary Punishment, American Style". A tank runs over a taxi driver's car. Why? Supposedly it was being used to steal wood.

Yes, that's right--those nice clean free-market American soldier boys DESTROYED A TAXI DRIVER'S LIVELIHOOD. And you can hear them laughing while they do it, too.

I wonder exactly what Dubya is expecting his troop surge to accomplish. Surely not more of the same?

January 31, 2007

Quotable: Molly Ivins' famous last (published) words

"We are the people who run this country.

We are the deciders. And every single day,

every single one of us needs to step outside

and take some action to help stop this war."

--Molly Ivins, sorely and sadly missed

A tale of two marches

Tell me, dear friend: have you heard about the March for Life? You know--the one that took place this year, as it does every year, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade? It is awfully hard to miss an annual display of in-your-face anti-choice propaganda when even the president of the United States has proclaimed this date to be National Sanctity of Life Day.

But I guess you probably haven't heard of it after all. Because to hear Donald Wildmon and his trusty sidekick tell it, the event wasn't even covered by the liberal-biased mainstream media!

Continue reading "A tale of two marches" »

January 29, 2007

A song that says it all

January 25, 2007

One more reason to stop the Surge

It's called "Baghdad Brutality". 9:11 minutes of evidence that things have degenerated to utter madness. And that far from stopping sectarian violence, the US presence in Iraq has actually encouraged it.

Video courtesy Raw Story.

January 18, 2007

Beginning of the end for BushCo?

Don't let the numbers fool you. This is big--because the troops aren't supposed to speak out against Preznit Chucklenuts.

President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq is facing public opposition from a slice of the American population that rarely speaks out: the military rank and file.

A group of service members came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday armed with signatures from more than 1,000 military personnel who oppose the war.

"We will not be silent while thousands die," said Sgt. Liam Madden, 22, an active-duty Marine and Iraq war veteran who is helping lead the effort to organize resistance to the war from inside the military.

Continue reading "Beginning of the end for BushCo?" »

January 17, 2007

Richard Perle gets his pee-pee whacked

And so nicely, too!

Brava to this gentle lady for saying what the rest of us are just dying to say to him. (And what over 3,000 US troops never got the chance to say, themselves.)

What a good thing he wasn't Delphic this time either, or he'd have seen this coming and managed to duck.

I hope this military wife doesn't become a widow. She deserves to get her man back safe and sound (and SOON!), if ever anyone did.

January 15, 2007

Two more reasons to condemn the Iraq hangings

One of them basically because it's too grotesque for words.

Iraqi officials have shown journalists video footage of the hanging of two of Saddam Hussein's aides, during which one of the men was decapitated.

The film shows Barzan Ibrahim - Saddam Hussein's half-brother - and Awad Hamed al-Bandar hanged side-by-side.

Barzan, former intelligence chief, and al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, were convicted over the killing of 148 Shias in 1982.

The government said Barzan's beheading was accidental.

Continue reading "Two more reasons to condemn the Iraq hangings" »

January 9, 2007

Quotable: General Sherman on the hell of war

"I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting--its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation."

--General William Tecumseh Sherman

War is hell, Dubya!

January 6, 2007

One more reason to condemn Saddam's hanging

Or three, as if we needed more. From El Nuevo Diario, of Managua, Nicaragua, we get this incredibly sad item:

A 10-year-old boy of Guatemalan origins killed himself accidentally while imitating the hanging of Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein after seeing images of the execution on television, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday.

The boy hanged himself on New Year's Eve, by jumping off a bunk bed, a short time after viewing the images, according to the newspaper.

Continue reading "One more reason to condemn Saddam's hanging" »

January 3, 2007

The ugly truth leaks out

Damn the Internets. First you get this, and then this:

The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into unofficial mobile phone footage showing the execution of former leader Saddam Hussein.

The mobile phone footage showed he exchanged taunts and insults with witnesses at his hanging on Saturday.

Continue reading "The ugly truth leaks out" »

January 1, 2007

No more Taps for teens!

My friend Corey sent me this. While it is extremely gentle, with no violence or blue language, it's also a shocker sure to bring tears to your eyes.

Yes, you heard him correctly. He's offering to go to Iraq in place of a teenager.

Continue reading "No more Taps for teens!" »

November 19, 2006

"Sir! No, Sir!" A must-see preview!

12 minutes of radical brilliance. Can't wait for THIS to come out on DVD.

November 13, 2006

Did Israel "mini-nuke" Lebanon?

According to Italy's RAI News, it smells suspiciously like it...

The special report was triggered by the radioactivity measurements reported on a crater probably created by an Israeli Bunker Buster bomb in the village of Khiam, in southern Lebanon. The measurements were carried out by two Lebanese professors of physics - Mohammad Ali Kubaissi and Ibrahim Rachidi. The data - 700 nanosieverts per hour — showed remarkably higher radiocativity than the average in the area (Beirut = 35 nSv/hr ).

On September 17th, Ali Kubaissi took British researcher Dai Williams, from the environmentalist organization Green Audit, to the same site, to take samples that were then submitted to Chris Busby, technical advisor of the Supervisory Committee on Depleted Uranium, which reports to the British Ministry of Defense. The samples were tested by Harwell's nuclear laboratory, one of the most authoritative research centers in the world. On October 17th, Harwell disclosed the testing results - two samples in 10 did contain radioactivity.

Continue reading "Did Israel "mini-nuke" Lebanon?" »

October 10, 2006

Freezing their noses off to spite their faces--and for WHAT?

A misplaced sense of patriotism--misplaced because they've chosen to stand by a fake president who lied to and betrayed them, rather than a real one from elsewhere who's painfully honest--and only trying to help:

In Alaska's native villages, the winter cold is already seeping into plywood homes, many of the villagers are poor, and heating-oil prices are high.

And yet a few villages are refusing free heating oil from Venezuela, on the patriotic principle that no foreigner has the right to call their president ''the devil.''

The oil is offered by a company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, President Bush's nemesis.

Continue reading "Freezing their noses off to spite their faces--and for WHAT?" »

September 29, 2006

Read a book! Don't be afraid!

Sometimes, Google Alerts turn up some real gems in one's e-mail box. Take, for example, this lovely letter to the editors of the Arizona Republic:

Continue reading "Read a book! Don't be afraid!" »

September 27, 2006

Kudos to Clinton, bravo to Chavez...

...and as for Keith Olbermann, he's the latest on my yum-yum list, along with Chavecito, Evo, Big Dawg, Jon Stewart, George Clooney, and Stephen Colbert. That man is the next frickin' Edward R. Murrow, man.

Seriously.

What happened this past week? It seems that cojones are breaking out everywhere, and suddenly it's open season on BushCo. Is it something in the air? The water? Did the collective anesthesia wear off? What?

Whatever it is, I sense that a tipping point has been reached. Time for the gravitational acceleration to kick in!

September 11, 2006

The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference

9-11 Exploitation

Blah, blah blah...

That, Gentle Reader, is the sound of the mainstream media in the US, talking a lot and not actually saying anything. For the last five years, it's been doing nothing but that on one particular day when it owes the public so much more than just some obligatory annual orgy of grief and remembrance with an unholy admixture of misplaced patriotism.

Continue reading "The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference" »

August 12, 2006

Cindy comes to Crawford...

...this time to stay:

Howdy Neighbor!

And she still has a question that SOMEONE doesn't want to give an honest, straightforward answer to:

Cindy of Crawford

Do you suppose she'll get one this year? Next year? Year after that, maybe?

In any event, she can now afford to bide her time.

August 8, 2006

It keeps getting uglier

Another piece of context for the Mahmudiyah rape-murder atrocity falls into place...

A US military hearing has examined testimony of how three soldiers took it in turns to try to rape an Iraqi girl aged 14 in Mahmudiya in March.

The girl and three family members were allegedly killed by four US soldiers.

Graphic details of the attack at the family's home came in a sworn statement by one of the accused, James P Barker.

Continue reading "It keeps getting uglier" »

August 6, 2006

Don't let this slip under the radar...

...because the mainstream US media certainly will.

And no wonder.

August 3, 2006

Support the troops--heed this sign!

Impeach the President, seen at Bagram

Peaches are in season right now. The time is ripe.

And Neil Young is dead-on.

BTW, here is why I love Chavecito. Who else has the cojones to speak this much truth to power?

August 1, 2006

Somewhere in Texas, a village could lose a few idiots

And guess which village it is...

Like many folks in President Bush's adopted hometown, 83-year-old Robert Westerfield isn't exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the town's newest resident: war protester Cindy Sheehan.

"I wish she'd stay away. Crawford's a Republican town, and she's a dumb Democrat," Westerfield, a lifelong Crawford resident, said Friday while sitting on a bench outside a gas station on Main Street.

Continue reading "Somewhere in Texas, a village could lose a few idiots" »

July 29, 2006

So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!

Scientists have long been saying otherwise, and here's one more study to prove it...

New Zealand troops who served in the Vietnam War suffered significant genetic damage from exposure to Agent Orange, a study suggests.

The chemical was used by the US military in Vietnam in the 1960s.

It has been blamed for a variety of medical conditions suffered by soldiers and up to four million Vietnamese.

The study by New Zealand's scientists could have a big effect on campaigners' efforts to sue major chemical firms and the US government, correspondents say.

Continue reading "So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!" »

July 22, 2006

We are all shitheads now

When I first heard the "We are all (insert name of plucky little hard-done-by country here) now" meme, I was put out by it. It was a little too simplistic an expression of empathy for the victims of the 9-11 tragedy, and besides, it was a bit bass-ackwards, seeing as 9-11 was more like a cold shower of welcome-to-the-world reality for Americans. So when Le Monde proclaimed that "we are all Americans now", my first thought was, I'm unspeakably sad for those whom this has affected, but count me the fuck out of "we". I'm still a Canadian and a citizen of the world, and no amount of terrorism is gonna change that!

Continue reading "We are all shitheads now" »

June 15, 2006

We now pause for the following announcement...

The Pentagon has just informed the world that the 2,500th US military death in the Iraq pillage has occurred.

That's right: 2,500 dead US military for the sake of a lie. And OIL.

And in the meantime, there's no end in sight.

The Unknown Soldier is dead. Long live the Big Lie.

And the plot just keeps getting thicker...

...and SICKER.

Yes, it's Gitmo again!

The father of one of three inmates said to have committed suicide at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has said he believes his son was murdered.

"This idea of suicide is a lie. My son wouldn't commit suicide," said Ali Abdullah Ahmed, father of a Yemeni detainee found dead on Saturday.

Continue reading "And the plot just keeps getting thicker..." »

June 13, 2006

Gitmo North: UNACCEPTABLE!

This is not the US.

This is Canada.

So why is THIS happening--here?

Continue reading "Gitmo North: UNACCEPTABLE!" »

June 12, 2006

And now, they backtrack. Typical!

Yes, folks, the laughs just keep on rollin' from those wacky, joke-a-day folks at Gitmo...

The US state department has distanced itself from comments by a top official that the three suicides by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were "a good PR move".

Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

"I would not say that it was a PR stunt," said spokesman Sean McCormack.

Continue reading "And now, they backtrack. Typical!" »

June 11, 2006

More projection from the official excuse-makers

If you thought yesterday's Gitmo post was ugly, get a load of what the professional liars of BushCo are saying today:

A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".

Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

Continue reading "More projection from the official excuse-makers" »

June 10, 2006

This is totally fucking insane.

Okay, now that I've grabbed your attention with my gratuitously obscene heading, take a gander at this:

Three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have died in what appears to have been a suicide pact.

The inmates, two Saudis and a Yemeni, hanged themselves in their cells.

The camp commander said the deaths - the first at the camp - were planned in "an act of warfare". Rights groups said they were driven by despair.

Continue reading "This is totally fucking insane." »

April 1, 2006

Hell's maw is a-gapin'...

Mike Malloy has a wonderful turn of phrase that I sometimes hear him use on his radio show (which, by the way, you shouldn't miss--it's on Air America Radio, weeknights, 10 pm-1 am Eastern. Webcast available here.) Whenever someone particularly vile is doing something richly deserving of condemnation, Mike'll say something like this:

"I can hardly wait until [name] goes to meet his maker. Because when he does, you just know Jesus is gonna pinch his head off, and toss it into the Lake of Fire for the demons to use as a soccer ball."

Continue reading "Hell's maw is a-gapin'..." »

March 27, 2006

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Downing Street Memo!

And the Beeb has finally confirmed it:

From private talks between George Bush and UK PM Tony Blair, the memo makes it clear the US was determined to go to war whether or not he had UN backing.

He is quoted discussing ways to provoke Saddam Hussein into a confrontation.

Continue reading "Yes, Virginia, there IS a Downing Street Memo!" »

March 26, 2006

How the Christian Peacemakers were freed

The Beeb has the details...

Briton Norman Kember and his Canadian colleagues James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were freed after a multinational military raid acting on information provided by a detainee, the US military says.

The rescue was completed without any shots being fired and with no kidnappers present, suggesting the operation was carefully planned and carried out.

Continue reading "How the Christian Peacemakers were freed" »

Sean Hannity can shut the fuck up now

The weeniest of all the wingnuts (with the possible exception of Tucker Carlson, about whom more later) can now stop asking his annoying "gotcha" question: Is the world better off with or without Saddam? Because at last there is a definitive answer, and it's in the negative. And you'll never guess where it comes from...

Continue reading "Sean Hannity can shut the fuck up now" »

March 25, 2006

Why the Christian Peacemakers were right to go to Iraq

First, I'll give the floor to British peace activist Bruce Kent, who had the following to say on the Beeb about his fellow activist, Norman Kember, who was recently freed after over 100 days as a hostage:

...I still believe Norman was right to go to Iraq - and I don't think that he will regret having gone. And here's why.

Norman totally, bitterly, opposed the invasion of Iraq and all that was done there. He could see there were a lot of people in Iraq who were hurting and suffering, who had lost relations or been imprisoned. Whatever their nationality, our job as Christians and as people interested in peace was to offer help and consolation to people who were suffering. That was Norman's basic wish.

Continue reading "Why the Christian Peacemakers were right to go to Iraq" »