American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, February 22, 2003
The Kunduz Getaway

In an interview which aired on PBS' Now with Bill Moyers this week, Seymour Hersh relayed the story of how, following a 2001 battle near the Afghan town of Kunduz, the "cream of the crop of Al Qaeda" were allowed to escape into Pakistan with Donald Rumsfeld's authorization. Hersh first wrote about this in a January 2002 New Yorker article.

The Story of Yoni Ben-Artzi

Those of you who are long time readers here, know my opinions of the Israeli army. To quote from my FAQ:

1. The IDF is the main reason that Israel continues to illegally occupy the West Bank and Gaza, and refuses to reach a just and permanent solution with the Palestinians.
2. The IDF is the key institution that undermines democracy in Israel, and perpetuates inequality and corruption in Israeli society.

There are so many stories I can tell about the corruption and cruelty of the army that I saw and experienced in my ten years of service. Tonight, I will tell just one, the story of a 20 year old boy, Yoni ben-Artzi.

By Anne Gwynne

“3 Palestinians killed and 25 injured in Nablus” say the headlines. Tells you nothing at all…

I have just come from Raffidia Hospital on the North Mountain in Nablus, formerly the most beautiful and prosperous city in the ancient, cultured and peaceful land of Palestine, where most of those 25 people were taken and where one of the injured, FERAS MABROUKI aged 21, has just died of the wounds he sustained a few hours earlier. Also under the sanitized ‘3 dead’ heading come AYMAN KAMAL abu ZANT aged 20, and MOHAMED- SAMIR TAKRURI, aged 35. All, I am told, murdered by shots to the head - all human beings with families suddenly and grievously bereaved tonight. Three more innocents murdered - three more Martyrs in Nablus.

Under a continuous, year-long, brutal, illegal military occupation, the suffering of the people of Nablus goes on day after day in ever-escalating terror inflicted upon them by what the people here can now only describe as the crazy and totally evil Jewish-Israeli soldiers. Today demonstrated that, in the most terrible fashion. The desperately injured and the dead in the Hospitals of Nablus are witnesses-without-a-voice to the murderous assault upon an innocent civilian population on a sunny, shopping-eating-laughing Sunday afternoon.

As the world focuses on Iraq, the bodies pile up in Gaza

The question hung over the concrete rubble and twisted iron support rods, the ruined buildings where Palestinians said three young men were killed when the Israeli army demolished them this week.

Is the Israeli military taking advantage of a time when the world is not paying attention to what is going on here, when media coverage is focusing on Iraq, to step up its campaign in the occupied territories?

In the past week, while the world's press focused on the UN security council and Baghdad, the violence has suddenly surged. In six days, at least 30 Palestinians have been killed in a series of Israeli operations, chiefly in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Nablus.

Peace hopes sink as Sharon rules out Jerusalem deal

The Israeli prime minster, Ariel Sharon, last night further entrenched his obstacles to a peace settlement by ruling out the division of Jerusalem or the return of Palestinian refugees from negotiations.
Friday, February 21, 2003
Israelis Separate Christians from Bethlehem
After the wall is built, the Bethlehem municipality will even need military permission to send trucks to collect the rubbish. The wall is part of what has become known as Israel's "Berlin Wall", electrified fences and concrete walls the Israeli government is building around the West Bank to seal it off and stop Palestinian militants crossing into Israel.

Reports about North Korea are disturbing.

We don't want to act as though the sky is falling on our heads..

But North Korea's Nuclear capability is quite frightening. The CIA says their ballistic missiles could hit the west coast. Their leader is a bit loony, too.

This is all taken from one of two (count 'em, two) very funny Tom Tomorrow/Tom the Dancing Bug-like parody sites of our new Department of Homeland Security Website. The other is here.

3. After an attack, beware of giant terrorists roaming the streets. Seal up oversize doors in your building with plastic sheeting and duct tape.

French Jokes Gain Wide Audiences in America
With the nation tired of hearing jokes about reality television, humorists are looking for a new target -- and have homed in on one that has caught the attention of a frustrated American public.

David Letterman: "France wants more evidence [of Iraqi violations]. The last time France wanted more evidence, it rolled right through France with a German flag."

Dennis Miller: "The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq."

Jay Leno: "I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!"

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.: "Do you know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris? It's not known, it's never been tried."

Blunt again: "Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day -- the description was: 'Never shot. Dropped once.'"
Botched vaccinations blamed for Aids in Africa
The African Aids pandemic was caused more by careless use of needles in healthcare than by unsafe sex, a report published today by an international group of scientists says.

They estimate that more than half the cases of Aids in Africa before 1988 were caused by unsterilised needles. The claim, directly challenging the belief that 90 per cent of cases were sexually transmitted, implies that the African Aids pandemic is largely the result of unsafe medical practices and mismanaged vaccination campaigns.

The team says that the evidence was discounted because of “preconceptions about African sexuality and a desire to maintain public trust in healthcare”.
Seven States Sue Bush on Global Warming
Island, Maine, Connecticut and Washington. The states said President George W. Bush administration's current policy regarding carbon dioxide emissions -- the prime culprit behind global warming -- violates the clean air act. The landmark action seeks to compel the EPA to revise national regulations governing power plant emissions. According to the states the EPA has repeatedly failed to update the nation's air pollution standards for power plants, despite a requirement from the clean air act that the EPA tests the air's pollutant levels and revise the standards every eight years. "At a time when the rest of the world is taking steps to reduce CO2 emissions, our nation is not even attempting to slow the growth in emissions ... it is imperative that the Bush administration establish a responsible and forward-looking national environmental policy," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
A Frat Boy's Revenge

Newsweek's White House reporter, Howard Fineman, says that rather than making Bush rethink his push towards war with Iraq, the worldwide protests last weekend served to strengthen his resolve. What's more, Fineman thinks he knows why.

Here it is. Shaped by the Yale of the ’60s and by his own father’s career, the president views the demonstrators as weak-willed moral relativists, afraid to take on — as only faith-filled and freedom-loving leaders can — forces of evil on earth.
The president’s stark, black-and-white outlook stems from many sources, among them his Bible-centered faith, his success at quitting drinking “cold turkey,” his upbringing on the playgrounds of West Texas and the fierce sense of mission.

But his view of the wider world was shaped as much by Yale as by anything else. The New Haven of the mid-’60s was divided into two cultural worlds, and Bush knew only one of them. He was a fraternity man — a fraternity leader, in fact — who had little sympathy or contact with the “other side” of the campus, the portion then helping to nurture a radical “Black Power” crusade and the potent antiwar student protests of the late Vietnam years.

Bush was a loyal son (his dad was a prowar member of Congress), a defender of the Old Social Order at Yale (though Bush himself was utterly without its preppy snobbery, racism or anti-Semitism) and a proud DKE who saw the increasingly dominant liberals on campus as pretentious hypocrites (because, he said, many “radicals” had trust funds). Above all, they were that species most despised by the frat house world: intellectual show-offs. (more)

The intellectual show-off derogation, however, is little more than a continuation of the anti-intellectual mindset that begins in grade school. Terms like nerd, braniac and others were a way for those less able or willing to grasp the concepts and ideas of education to unify with each other. By the time those same lines are drawn in college, intellectual curiosity is slighted by those same types as intellectual braggadocio.

This same cultural divide can be seen by those who display the bumper sticker, Proud Parent of an Honor Student, while others stubbornly promote their child by this bumper sticker: My kid Beat Up Your Honor Student.

Similarly, it appears that the real war Bush and his ideological ilk are fighting is the one that has been simmering in this country for forty years or more — the cultural war!

Bush's well-known lack of intellectual curiosity is something that seems to go with the "frat house" mindset. Fineman relates this story:

[At Yale,] Bush wasn’t oblivious to social change. DKE was open to blacks and Jews, and the future president was aware of — and not afraid of — the thickening ethnic mix around him. Lanny Davis, a Yale friend (and Democratic political antagonist), tells a story that makes the point. A resident in their dorm was an immigrant from India. He wore weird outfits and was generally viewed as an exotic, even pathetic, character. One day in the dorm lounge, the outcast walked by a cluster that included Bush and some friends. “Why do they even let in somebody like that?” someone asked aloud. “It’s a waste of money trying to educate him.” Bush angrily turned on the questioner. “Don’t you ever say something like that in my presence again,” he snapped. “He’s got as much right to be here as you do.”

It would be nice to say that Bush, his cross-cultural curiosity awakened, became fast friends with the fellow — that he plunged into the study of the history of India, its cultures and religions, that he traveled to the subcontinent to see it all for himself. Of course it didn’t happen; Bush entered the White House one of the least-traveled presidents in modern history.

He wanted to be a gentleman, but that didn’t mean he really had to get to know the guy.

Well...the gentleman no longer exists. Bush's veneer of compassion and concern are for PR purposes only. His arrogance towards the rest of the world is simply the lazy mindedness of the perennial frat boy whose own pleasures and interests come first and foremost.

I was going to feature some links about Turkey, the inspections, and the million kids that are going to die. You can read them if you want, but I would rather you read this little book. You can download it for free — it's a .pdf file. It's only 39 pages, a bunch of pictures, and the print is big. After reading it ask yourself "Why the fuck are we going to kill these people?"

On a Small Bridge in Iraq
Text by: Natsuki Ikezawa
Photo by: Seiichi Motohashi
If we can't stop this war, then what hope is there of stopping the next war? International politics will be driven not by discussion , but by military force. In the city of Nasiriyah, a man was painting the curbstones white and green around a traffic rotary. I only saw him for an instant out of a moving car, but I can still see the way his hand worked the paintbrush. A simple action people do the same way everywhere. Just trying to get along, trying to live comfortably with the family and neighbors. What else is there, really? I believe we can still avoid this war
------------------------ Natsuki Ikezawa


thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Dear Corpse Lovers:

The Great Brown God

is on a hot date with Exquisite Corpse

and invites you to come along

flow with us at

The Mississippi Corpse

Wears your blues

--Andrei Codrescu

Cockburn on Hitch's boozing
Christopher Hitchens, who recently hailed G. Bush as his hero and who devotes his column in the current Vanity Fair to the beneficial properties of booze–citing his own superb mental powers and physical condition as irrefutable evidence.

In Vanity Fair, he triumphantly refers to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine that asserts that downing a glass of wine, beer or other booze daily can prevent a future heart attack.

Thus buttressed, Hitchens says that his own rigorous regime of drinking, begun at the age of 15 and continuing to his present age of 53, has enabled him to work prodigiously "while still retaining my own hair and teeth and a near-godlike physique which is the envy of many of my juniors."
America to France: Fuck You!
A few dozen people were on hand Tuesday in Las Vegas to watch a retired Navy veteran crush a pile of French bread, yogurt, and bottles of wine, vodka and Perrier water in the event dubbed "KXNT's 'Flip-off' to the French."

"This is not a pro-war rally. Just anti-French." (via)

I wonder if they cooked up some Freedom Fries?
You can get fries with your burger at a restaurant here, but just don't ask for french fries. Neal Rowland, the owner of Cubbie's, now only sells his fried potato strips as "freedom fries" - a decision that comes as Americans watch French officials back away from support for possible war in Iraq.

"Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve french fries. We now serve freedom fries," says a sign in the restaurant's window.

Rowland said the switch from french fries to freedom fries came to mind after a conversation about World War I when anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods like sauerkraut and frankfurter to liberty cabbage and hot dog.
J.R. Ewing slams Bush as sad figure
Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the popular CBS series "Dallas," told Tagesspiegel that while both Bush and J.R. came from the Texas oil industry, the president was not smart enough to be like J.R.

"J.R. was so smart he always found a way to win without violence ... he ruined his enemies financially or socially," said Hagman, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

The former actor, who also played an astronaut in the 1960s TV series "I Dream of Jeannie," called Bush a "sad figure: not too well educated, who doesn't get out of America much. He's leading the country towards fascism."

The German paper asked whether Bush would appreciate the accusation.

"It's all the same to me, he wouldn't understand the word fascism anyway."
Tricky Dick Nixon: Terrorist
Even by the standards of the Nixon White House, a plan to blow up Washington's preeminent think tank seemed crazy, presidential counselor John Dean recalled Monday.

But there was White House aide John Ehrlichman on the phone one day in 1971, telling Dean that ''Chuck Colson wants me to firebomb the Brookings [Institution].'' Describing the incident to several hundred presidential history junkies at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Dean said he was dumbfounded.

Dean said Colson -- one of President Nixon's top aides -- floated the idea as a way to retrieve certain documents Nixon wanted that were housed in the research center not far from the White House. Colson suggested that, while firefighters were trying to douse the damage caused by a bomb, White House operatives could rush in and seize the papers.

It seemed incredible, but now that he has listened to earlier tapes, Dean said he has heard Nixon 'literally pounding on his desk, saying `I want that break-in at the Brookings.' ''
On February 26th, you can join a massive march on Washington without leaving your living room. The Virtual March on Washington is a first-of-its-kind campaign from the Win Without War coalition.

Working together, we will direct a steady stream of phone calls, about one per minute, all day ‹ to every Senate office in the country, while at the same time delivering a constant stream of e-mails and faxes. Our message: Don¹t Attack Iraq.

Please help make the Virtual March a success. To register to send a free fax and make phone calls to Senate offices and the White House, visit:
Sharon says U.S. should also disarm Iran, Libya and Syria
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. "These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve," Sharon said to a visiting delegation of American congressmen.

Sharon told the congressmen that Israel was not involved in the war with Iraq "but the American action is of vital importance."

Bolton said in meetings with Israeli officials that he had no doubt America would attack Iraq, and that it would be necessary thereafter to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is under investigation leading to possible charges for criminal bribery with George W. Bush(43) as a co-conspirator
Cloak and Dagger has been contacted by reliable bank investigators who have uncovered evidence that British PM Blair was involved in criminal bribery. Blair is now under investigation for accepting large bribes from the Bush oil interests.

The evidence consists of bank transfers from George Bush financial interests to PM Blair's personal accounts via the United Arab Emirates where the investigations into criminal bribery against Blair began.

The bribery purpose is so that the United Kingdom's PM would be sure to go along with Bush's plan to forcibly seize the Iraqi oil fields while also unseating strongman Saddam Hussein. Part of the bribery plan was to use the Oil fields for collateral to support an out of control US deficit.
Professor accused of terrorist sympathies arrested in Florida
A college professor previously accused of having terrorist ties has been arrested by federal agents in Florida.

A court hearing is scheduled for this afternoon for Sami Al-Arian (sa-mee al EHR'-ee-an) -- a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida.

Al-Arian maintains that he's never advocated violence against others, insisting his words were a statement against Israeli occupation. He says his arrest is politically motivated.

Bush's favorite terrorist buddy
According to the July 16 Newsweek, during a campaign speech in Tampa, last year, candidate Bush singled his son, Abdullah, out in the crowd, something done for specially selected, pre-screened individuals to which a candidate wants to draw attention. Calling Abdullah "Big Dude" one of his trademark nicknames reserved for close advisors and White House press, Bush and wife Laura posed for pictures with the Arian family, standing right next to Dr. Al-Arian. The problem is, Dr. Al-Arian is the U.S. frontman for one of the largest terrorist-group coalitions in the world Islamic Jihad which was declared an international terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and which openly promotes death to Americans. Hijackers on Flight 93, which crashed near Pittsburgh, wore red headbands, customary among Islamic Jihad warriors who take their instruction from Iran.
U.S. extends betrayal of Kurds to entire Iraqi people; no democracy.
By not supporting a democratic Iraq, by appointing con-man and a flim-flam artist Ahmed Chalabi as provisional leader, by inviting Turks to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan and promoting some gauzy ill-thought-out vision of a democratic Middle East imposed by force of arms, the Big Idea idealism, which never rested comfortably on the shoulders of a president who detests complexity, comes off as callow, cynical and ... what are the words? Oh, yes: "Absolute bullshit." The ideas and principles upon which the United States was founded -- "liberty," "freedom," "justice for all" -- and for which we allegedly fought and won two world wars and the Cold War, have become mere words, talking points and awkwardly mouthed slogans used to make a case for a war that no one except for a small junta in Washington wants.
Pentagon warns public of bloody war

War is now about "Saddam-ism"
Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, has begun to talk about the need to "get rid of Saddam-ism", and not just Saddam himself, officials said.

Administration leaders appeared at pains to avoid over-confidence. "We still do not know how US forces will be received," one senior official told the New York Times. "Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won't know until we get there."
Wait a minute... Perhaps one of our chickenhawk cheerleaders can put down the pom-poms for a second and explain this to me. I thought that everybody (including his government) hated Saddam and can't wait for his removal.

What happened to people stepping over their dead family members and rushing to the window to proudly display their American flag?

"Saddam-ism"? Is that the new objective? An undescriptive open-ended judgement based term. If we're going to go into another country and kill people, just this once could the objective be somewhat logical and non-Orwellian?

I am seriously missing any thread of reality that says Iraqis want to be bombed.

I mean, as much as I despise the current US regime, a far more disasterous circumstance would be if China was planning on bombing DC.

But then again.....The American people want regime change. China would be doing its duty to "the international community" for the sake of the children. The US has WMDs and has shown to be threatening to other nations in the region (the globe).

They would be doing it for their children and their children's children for the sake of the future of the world, not to further their polititcal agenda or to achieve resources.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Sorry for the length- I got this in an email and thought I should share...

A letter to the London Observer from Terry Jones (ex Monty Python).
Letter to the Observer
Sunday January 26, 2003
The Observer

I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's
running out of patience. And so am I! For some time now I've been really
pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street.

Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me
queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me,
but so far I haven't been able to discover what.

I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's
got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is. As for Mr Patel,
don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he
is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them
that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one. Some of my
neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But
that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a
crime with which to charge my neighbours. They'll come up with endless red
tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and
all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible
things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people.

Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of
automaticfirearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until
recently that's been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has
made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can
wade in and do whatever I want! And let's face it, Mr Bush's carefully
thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about
international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim
fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few
Muslim countries that have never threatened us.

That's why I want to blow up Mr Johnson's garage and kill his wife and
children. Strike first! That'll teach him a lesson. Then he'll leave us in
peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way.

Mr Bush makes it clear that all he needs to know before bombing Iraq is
that Saddam is a really nasty man and that he has weapons of mass
destruction - even if no one can find them. I'm certain I've just as much
justification for killing Mr Johnson's wife and children as Mr Bush has
for bombing Iraq. Mr Bush's long-term aim is to make the world a safer
place by eliminating 'rogue states' and 'terrorism'. It's such a clever
long-term aim because how can you ever know when you've achieved it? How
will Mr Bush know when he's wiped out all terrorists? When every single
terrorist is dead? But then a terrorist is only a terrorist once he's
committed an act of terror. What about would-be terrorists? These are the
ones you really want to eliminate, since most of the known terrorists,
being suicide bombers, have already eliminated themselves.

Perhaps Mr Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future
terrorist? Maybe he can't be sure he's achieved his objective until every
Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might
convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be
for Mr Bush to eliminate all Muslims? It's the same in my street. Mr
Johnson and Mr Patel are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of
other people in the street who I don't like and who - quite frankly - look
at me in odd ways. No one will be really safe until I've wiped them all
out. My wife says I might be going too far but I tell her I'm simply using
the same logic as the President of the United States. That shuts her up.

Like Mr Bush, I've run out of patience, and if that's a good enough reason
for the President, it's good enough for me. I'm going to give the whole
street two weeks - no, 10 days - to come out in the open and hand over all
aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar
terrorist masterminds, and if they don't hand them over nicely and say
'Thank you', I'm going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come. It's
just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing - and, in contrast to
what he's intending, my policy will destroy only one street.

Grandmother hurt in Israeli violence
Anne Gwynne, 65, from Aberystwyth, was hit in the leg by shrapnel while carrying a stretcher through the old quarter of the besieged town of Nablus...[Gwynne] said she was spurred into volunteering for the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees after one of her daughters, who was studying at an American university, was warned she would not be awarded her PhD unless she gave up campaigning for the Palestinian cause.
Regime Change, Literally - Jordan's King May Rule Post-War Iraq
A recently revealed document suggests that until recently, regime change in Iraq was considered not as a U.S. security issue, but as an Israeli one. Brown University Professor William O. Beeman looks at the ill-advised Israeli plan, which was authored in part by Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Science Board and Douglas Feith, now U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy.
US plan for new nuclear arsenal

"The Bush administration is planning a secret meeting in August to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini-nukes", "bunker-busters" and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents, according to a leaked Pentagon document."
The Los Alamos Study Group says " The Study Group deserves no credit for unearthing this document. We didn’t dig it up, and it was not given to us with the idea that we would publish it. Quite the contrary. We have come to believe, however, that it is our responsibility to make it availability in its entirety, to do so rapidly (e.g. before any war in Iraq) -- and to do so from a position outside Washington, DC in order to enhance the vitality and diversity of debate about U.S. nuclear weapons."
Here is a summary of some of the important parts of the planning process. These meetings show, in a degree that is rare in publicly-available documents, the bold sweep of nuclear weapons planning in the Bush Administration.

"Said Study Group director Mello, “These plans deserve outrage -- first in the United States, and throughout the world. It may or may not be obvious that if allowed to proceed further -- especially in the present jingoistic atmosphere now prevailing in Washington -- the process outlined here will be quite hard to stop.
An html copy of the full leaked strategy
Via Cursor
War (What Is It Good for?)---an examination of artists' responses to war exhibition
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
As a person who prides himself with a certain independence of thought, I find public opinion polls to be sad proof of the average American's utter inability to think autonomously.

When the thoughts and feelings of over 200 million adults in America can be represented by just a few hundred polled individuals, it seems to me that our system of education has failed miserably, because it's apparent that education in America is focused on teaching what to think rather than how to think.

This conclusion would, for instance, help to explain some of the results from the latest Time/CNN poll. One question in this poll asked: by going to war with Iraq, would there be a greater likelihood of terrorist acts in the United States?

77% of those polled believe that terrorist acts would be more likely if we go to war with Iraq.

Think about this!

After all the trauma and horror of September 11th, nearly 4 in 5 Americans seem to be resigned to more of the same because a handful of people in the White House have decided that a war with Iraq is somehow in our - or more likely their - best interests.

This statistic may be the most frightening thing I've heard in a long time. It says to me that tens of millions of Americans are willing to sit idly by while our country is targeted by its enemies because they either can't or won't do anything to stop it from happening.

I simply don't understand the blind trust the average American puts into a Presidency...but specifically this Presidency!

We have witnessed policy where, instead of sneaking through advantages for the well-connected as has always been done, the Bush Administration unabashedly promotes the self-interests of corporations and the wealthy while most Americans blindly accept the Administration's ludicrous spin.

In addition, as a way of making us feel more secure, Americans have swallowed the rationale that our Bill of Rights must somehow be to blame and that we must therefore modify it in places. But it must not -- and probably could not -- be modified by law. Yet as we have seen, even something as fundamental to America as the Constitution can be changed at will by Executive Order.

Consider this scenario:

Against the advice of most of the world, the United States invades Iraq. Within days, terrorists attack American embassies and businesses around the world in retaliation and Americans citizens are killed. The war ends quickly, but an occupying U.S. presence in Iraq infuriates an even greater number of people who view the United States as amoral, arrogant, imperialistic and...evil.

A terrorist event occurs in the United States and kills a number of people. The Bush Administration pushes through Patriot Act II, which gives the government even more power to subvert the Constitution.

More terrorism on U.S. soil kills more Americans and soon martial law is established as the only way to restore order. With martial law as the rule of law, all power is now in the hands of the executive branch. Political elections can be suspended to minimize opposition, and the United States has now become a right-wing dictatorship -- something we thought could never happen in a democracy as strong as ours!

Is this scenario merely the fantastic delusions of a left-wing lunatic? My sanity is for others to determine, but there is precedent for concern about all this.

In an article from last summer by investigative journalist Ritt Goldstein, he writes,

"When president Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a 'crisis' such as 'violent and widespread' internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad'. They were never used."

Note the wording: "national opposition against a US military invasion abroad." Isn't that what we're seeing around the nation today? If these kinds of Executive Orders can be issued by a President Reagan, does anyone reading this believe that such far-reaching powers wouldn't be used by this administration for its own purposes?

In the same article, Goldstein wrote,

"From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal."

"They included executive orders providing for suspension of the Constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA."

"Disturbingly, the full facts and final contents of Mr Reagan's national plan remain uncertain. This is in part because President Bush took the unusual step of sealing the Reagan presidential papers last November. However, many of the key figures of the Reagan era are part of the present administration, including John Poindexter, to whom Oliver North later reported."

I can't think of another time in American history where so many pieces were in play that could lead to the end of the freedom -- of the very democracy that we have enjoyed for over two hundred years.

Officials of the Bush Administration, many of whom apparently never trusted those untidy freedoms and rights that much, have achieved a power only dreamed of by dictators and tyrants throughout history.

According to the Goldstein article, criticism of the Bush Administration's response to September 11 echoed Reagan Atty. General William French Smith's warning about FEMA exceeding its proper authority. One of those critics, former Nixon Presidential Counsel John Dean, is a man who has seen misguided Executive Branch power close up. On June 7, 2002, he warned of the possibility of America sliding into a "constitutional dictatorship" and martial law."

The very real fear here is that Executive Orders in the hands of a corrupt and ruthless Executive Branch may indeed prove to be the undoing of the United States of America that has survived and thrived throughout two hundred years of brutal wars, civil unrest, constitutional crises, human devastation, physical catastrophes and other great national hardships.

It's a great mystery why most of the 77% of Americans worried about increased terrorism refuse to do anything about this real possibility. Still, those of us who believe in the America that our founding fathers invested their lives in must continue to raise our voices in dissent.

We cannot and will not make it easy for those who would dominate us to do so.

"If Halper is right that the young outpost residents are useful instruments of the established settlers and the national government, able to advance a plan the government cannot articulate formally, it is also true that the outpost settlers can be politically extreme, unpredictable and difficult to control. Young settlers sometimes claim lands outside the areas the government has slated for Israeli control; this means that the army has to send soldiers to remote and isolated locations, creating what a senior official in the ministry of defense calls a ''military burden.'' And at the most radical outposts, people talk seriously about replacing the democratically elected Israeli government with a Jewish kingdom or a theocracy. After Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer tried to dismantle 30 unauthorized outposts last fall, the Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, issued a secret report warning of threats to his life from young settlers. One does not have to look too far to find evidence of this. Yehudit Shish, 18, who is from Jerusalem but boards at a girls' school in Kiryat Arba, a settlement next to Hebron, cheerily offered from the trailer where her dorm is, ''I would love to see Ben-Eliezer dead.'' Her only concern about such an assassination is that ''if he got shot, someone just like him would rise up in his place and the secular people would support him even more.'' (Ben-Eliezer stepped down as defense minister and was voted out as leader of the Labor Party in October.)"
Gary Fabiano... Living Rooms. Destroyed Living Rooms from the Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank, April 2002. "...These living rooms that were left in their natural state as families fled the fighting are a reminder of war's unnatural burden on the innocents. If the homes were not completely destroyed and leveled, they were sheared open like human-sized dollhouses, for all to see." From PixelPress.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Washington shrugs off war protests
US officials on Sunday dismissed the growing popular opposition, insisting that the administration of President George W.Bush would continue to prepare for war with Iraq in the coming weeks.

Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, said the demonstrations would not alter US determination to confront Saddam Hussein and help the Iraqi people, either with broad international support or with a narrower "coalition of the willing".
If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about the need for Operation Infinite Kick Saddam's Ass, it was brushed aside with Gen. Powell's brilliant presentation in front of the United Nations.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Edward Said: A Monumenal Hypocrisy
Colin Powell's speech, despite its many weaknesses, its plagiarised and manufactured evidence, its confected audio-tapes and its doctored pictures, was correct in one thing. Saddam Hussein's regime has violated numerous human rights and UN resolutions. There can be no arguing with that and no excuses can be allowed. But what is so monumentally hypocritical about the official US position is that literally everything Powell has accused the Ba'athists of has been the stock in trade of every Israeli government since 1948, and at no time more flagrantly than since the occupation of 1967. Torture, illegal detention, assassination, assaults against civilians with missiles, helicopters and jet fighters, annexation of territory, transportation of civilians from one place to another for the purpose of imprisonment, mass killing (as in Qana, Jenin, Sabra and Shatilla to mention only the most obvious), denial of rights to free passage and unimpeded civilian movement, education, medical aid, use of civilians as human shields, humiliation, punishment of families, house demolitions on a mass scale, destruction of agricultural land, expropriation of water, illegal settlement, economic pauperisation, attacks on hospitals, medical workers and ambulances, killing of UN personnel, to name only the most outrageous abuses: all these, it should be noted with emphasis, have been carried on with the total, unconditional support of the United States which has not only supplied Israel with the weapons for such practices and every kind of military and intelligence aid, but also has given the country upwards of $135 billion in economic aid on a scale that beggars the relative amount per capita spent by the US government on its own citizens.
American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Says New Ashcroft Bill Erodes Checks and Balances on Presidential Power; PATRIOT II Legislation Would Needlessly Infringe on Basic Constitutional Liberties
The American Civil Liberties Union today said that new Department of Justice "anti-terrorism" legislation goes further than the USA PATRIOT Act in eroding checks and balances on Presidential power and contains a number of measures that are of questionable effectiveness, but are sure to infringe on civil liberties.

"The new Ashcroft proposal threatens to fundamentally alter the Constitutional protections that allow us to be both safe and free," said Timothy H. Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "If it becomes law, it will encourage police spying on political and religious activities, allow the government to wiretap without going to court and dramatically expand the death penalty under an overbroad definition of terrorism." [Full Story]

750 Women Go Nude In Protest

Only the latest in a long string of recent nude protests . . . Needless to say, we like this trend . . . After all, what is more humanist than the human body itself? Unadorned with the corruptive influences of fundamentalist religion (i.e. Ashcroft, Bin Laden, et al.) and clothes gone bad (i.e. Hilfiger, Nike, et al.)?

Internet security strategy released
The White House on Friday released the nation's first cybersecurity strategy, containing about half the recommendations of a wider-ranging earlier draft and largely leaving the task of Internet security to voluntary efforts by corporations and individual Americans.

After kicking off its crafting of the strategy with a high-profile event in the fall in Silicon Valley, the administration quietly posted the final version on its Web site Friday, saying the low-key release was prudent amid a heightened terror alert.

  • The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (at
  • Mercury News Story Here
  • roma Chiara and I went to the manifestation yesterday. Participating were 2 - 3 million people (here there are always post-manifestation polemics regarding the actually number) and local news claims that Rome had the biggest turnout worldwide. Most everyone had a rainbow colored banner with PACE written on it.
    Groups of children were also present, their slogan being: pace - pace- la guerra non ci piace.
    And I ran into my next door neighbor who walked with a group of women aged post 50. Their slogan was: soldati, terroristi, noi siamo femministi.
    For awhile Chiara and I walked behind a van blasting Viet Nam era music and we all started singing along stuff like: the answer my friend is blowing in the wind.
    It was really all alot of fun.
    Pier Ferdinando Casini, center right and president of the house of representatives, said it was time for the government to listen to the voice of the piazza.
    "In ogni manifestazione popolare, immensa come questa, ci sono luci e ombre, come è fisiologico, ma fino ad ora debbo dire che è una manifestazione pacifica e composta, è una manifestazione di cui il governo e anche il Parlamento debbono tenere conto".
    In other words, People In Piazzas do make a difference.

    stencil revolution

    Palestinians are left to pick up pieces of homes
    “Basically, you are penalizing people who didn’t do anything, and depriving them of even the minimal judicial process that had existed before,’’ said Yael Stein of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. “It’s so very wrong – in a civilized state, that’s not how you deal with people.’’

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