American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Also see: prior info on Miami events, post 1 and post 2, and
Heavy-handed police and propaganda tactics brought Baghdad to Miami with a thread that has more links and a discussion about the unsettling trend to embedding reporters.
David Neiwert of Orcinus on growing up conservative, missed invitations, and when politics becomes personal:
It is hardly different in nature from the kind of hate regularly spewed by the cross-burners at Aryan Nations ... There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh ... (T)his is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.

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Friday, November 28, 2003
There's something very strange about receiving a letter from Tony Blair's office asking me if I want to accept this award. In the past couple of months I've been on Blair's doorstep a few times. I have begged him to come out and meet me; I have been longing for a conversation with him, but he won't come out, and now here he is asking me to meet him at the palace! I was there with a million people on February 15, and the last time I was there was just a couple of weeks ago. My cousin, Michael Powell, was arrested and taken to Thornhill Road police station in Birmingham where he died. Now, I know how he died. The whole of Birmingham knows how he died, but in order to get this article published and to be politically (or journalistically) correct, I have to say that he died in suspicious circumstances. The police will not give us any answers. We have not seen or heard anything of all the reports and investigations we were told were going to take place. Now, all that my family can do is join with all the other families who have lost members while in custody because no one in power is listening to us. Come on Mr Blair, I'll meet you anytime. Let's talk about your Home Office, let's talk about being tough on crime. [more]
Senior citizens angry over the AARP's endorsement of the Medicare bill are ripping up or burning their AARP membership cards and flooding the lobbying group's Internet message board with complaints in what could be the biggest revolt in its ranks since the 1980s.

Many fear the Republican-backed bill approved by Congress on Tuesday will harm senior citizens, and they say the AARP -- the nation's most influential retiree lobby, with 35 million members -- sold them out.

The bill "destroys one of the most successful programs in the history of this country," Isaac Ben Ezra, president of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, said as he led a demonstration of about 40 people here against the bill Monday. "Shame, AARP."

AARP chief executive William Novelli said Wednesday that between 10,000 and 15,000 members have quit over the bill. [more]

via Atrios
The aid agencies have complained bitterly to Israel about soldiers firing on their relief workers, even when traffic has been co-ordinated in advance. "Several organisations are now seriously considering whether they should continue to work at all under these circumstances," they said. [more]
... so holy that he had his daddy pour cooking oil over his head ...Chris Floyd on the recent Patriot Act expansions, anointing with oil, full-contact lap dancing, and a cross-dressing martinet :
Don't kid yourself -- and don't let them kid you. When they come at you with that pious sugar, telling you how they're going to protect you, secure you, keep you free, you better run and check the back door – because that's where their goons will be breaking in. ... All Ashcroft's boys have to do is say, "Boo! Terrorism!" and they can take whatever they want. ... As usual, the power grab was accompanied by earnest pledges that it would only be used in the most extreme cases of genuine terrorist danger. ... This was, of course, the usual load of mule manure we've come to expect ...

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The world did not learn that Bush had spent 2 1/2 hours Thursday on a Thanksgiving Day visit to troops in Baghdad until his jumbo jet was again in the air, flying back to the United States, where he arrived early Friday, making it back to his ranch in Texas shortly before daybreak.



As the president was cheering up soldiers in a mess hall in Baghdad, newscasters back home were reporting that he was enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with his family at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. That was what reporters had been told by White House officials.


Thursday, November 27, 2003
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
...

He had hiked several miles out of his way to help two American strangers, simply because he saw that we were lost.

That, in a nutshell, is Istanbul to me. I never met kinder or more gracious people anywhere.

During my two weeks in that city, I never heard a harsh word said about Americans or any other national group. No one ever uttered an ethnic or religious slur. They did not seem to have negative words for people who are different — they merely acknowledged the difference.

Now people are dying in Istanbul and President Bush says Turkey is a “front” in the war against terrorism. I don’t know what that means. I only know that I am sad.
Via Sideshow, the Dems who voted for this rape of seniors that this presciption drug bill is:
  • Lincoln (Ark.)
  • Carper (Del.)
  • Miller (Ga.)
  • Breaux (La.)
  • Landrieu (La.)
  • Baucus (Mont.)
  • Nelson (Neb.)
  • Conrad (N.D.)
  • Dorgan (N.D.)
  • Wyden (Ore.)
  • Feinstein (Calif.)
Note that last name. Feinstein needs to go. We simply cannot have weak-livered Democrats in leadership positions.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
America built a prison and put the world on Death Row
My life is like a cage of pain ... Of course I am embarrassed to say this, with my easy life and available contentment all around me. I am shamed by men like Ernst Zundel, who languishes in his tiny prison cell in Canada, abused by callous guards and corrupt judges ... Of course, of course, and about American soldiers murdering innocent families in Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? Freedom from life is what.
Meet John Kaminski. John and I have been internet freinds for a long time, and though I do not argree with everything he says, I respect him as a passionate advocate of what he believes. And he most totally believes in the liberation of Palestine.

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Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson is a must read considering the news coming out about the direction America seems to be headed in.
"Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people." -- Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism"


America is a country that now sits atop the precarious latticework of myth. It is the myth that work provides rewards, that working people can support their families. It’s a myth that has become so divorced from reality that it might as well begin with the words “Once upon a time.”

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Monday, November 24, 2003
MIAMI - We were loading our video equipment into the trunk of our car when a fleet of bicycle cops sped up and formed a semi-circle around us. The lead cop was none other than Miami Police Chief John Timoney. The former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia Timoney has a reputation for brutality and hatred of protesters of any kind. He calls them punks," "knuckleheads" and a whole slew of expletives. He coordinated the brutal police response to the mass-protests at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. After a brief stint in the private sector, Timoney took the post of Miami police chief as part of Mayor Manny Diaz's efforts to "clean up the department."

We had watched him the night before on the local news in Miami praising his men for the restraint they had shown in the face of violent anarchists intent on destroying the city. In reality, the tens of thousands who gathered in Miami to protest the ministerial meetings of the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit were seeking to peacefully demonstrate against what they consider to be a deadly expansion of NAFTA and US-led policies of free trade. There were environmental groups, labor unions, indigenous activists from across the hemisphere, church groups, grassroots organizations, students and many others in the streets. What they encountered as they assembled outside the gates to the building housing the FTAA talks was nothing short of a police riot. It only took a few hours last Thursday before downtown Miami looked like a city under martial law.

On the news, Chief Timoney spoke in sober tones about the tear gas that demonstrators fired at his officers. No, that is not a typo. Timoney said the protesters were the ones launching the tear gas. He also said the demonstrators had hurled "missiles" at the police. "I got a lot of tear gas," Timoney said. "We all got gassed. They were loaded to the hilt. A lot of missiles, bottles, rocks, tear gas from the radicals."

Seeing Timoney up close and personal evokes this image of Mayor Daley at the '68 Democratic Convention ordering his men to shoot protesters on sight. He is that kind of guy.

Back at our car, Timoney hopped off his bike as a police cameraman recorded his every move. It all had the feel of being on an episode of COPS. He demanded the license and registration for the car. Our colleague Norm Stockwell of community radio station WORT in Madison, Wisconsin gave him his license. We informed him we were journalists. One of his men grabbed Norm's press pass, looking it over as though it was a fake. They looked at all of us with nasty snares before getting back on their bikes and preparing to continue on to further protect Miami. Timoney gave us this look that said, you got away this time but I'll be back. You could tell he was pissed off that we weren't anarchists (as far as he knew).

As Timoney was talking with his men, one of the guys on the bikes approached us with a notepad. "Can I have your names?" he asked.

I thought he was a police officer preparing a report. He had on a Miami police polo shirt, just like Timoney's. He had a Miami police bike helmet, just like Timoney's. He had a bike, just like Timoney's. In fact there was only one small detail that separated him from Timoney--a small badge around his neck identifying him as a reporter with the Miami Herald. He was embedded with Chief Timoney.

That reporter was one of dozens who were embedded with the Miami forces (it's hard to call them police), deployed to protect the FTAA ministerial meetings from thousands of unarmed protesters. In another incident, we saw a Miami Herald photographer who had somehow gotten pushed onto the "protesters side" of a standoff with the police. He was behind a line of young kids who had locked arms to try and prevent the police from advancing and attacking the crowds outside of the Inter-Continental Hotel. He was shouting at the kids to move so he could get back to the safe side. The protesters ignored him and continued with their blockade.

The photographer grew angrier and angrier before he began hitting one of the young kids on the line. He punched him in the back of the head before other journalists grabbed him and calmed him down. His colleagues seemed shocked at the conduct. He was a big, big guy and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a police issued riot helmet, but I really think he was scared of the skinny, dreadlocked bandana clad protesters. He had this look of panic on his face, like he had been in a scuffle with the Viet Cong.

Watching the embedded journalists on Miami TV was quite entertaining. They spoke of venturing into Protesterland as though they were entering a secret al Qaeda headquarters in the mountains of Afghanistan. Interviews with protest leaders were sort of like the secret bin Laden tapes. There was something risque, even sexy about having the courage to venture over to the convergence space (the epicenter of protest organizing at the FTAA) and the Independent Media Center. Several reporters told of brushes they had with "the protesters." One reporter was quite shaken after a group of "anarchists" slashed her news van's tires and wrote the word "propaganda" across the side door. She feared for the life of her cameraman, she somberly told the anchor back in the studio. The anchor warned her to be careful out there. [more]
It was hard to pick a selection from this--a must-read. You can also catch Jeremy Scahill recounting the same story verbally on today's Democracy Now! show.
In a preview of his forthcoming book, Chalmers Johnson examines "the inescapable consequences of the national policies American elites chose after September 11, 2001," what he terms "the sorrows of empire."

Four sorrows, it seems to me, are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787. First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut. Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal "executive branch" of government into a military junta. Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions. Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens.

...In my judgment, American imperialism and militarism are so far advanced and obstacles to its further growth have been so completely neutralized that the decline of the U.S. has already begun. The country is following the path already taken by its erstwhile adversary in the cold war, the former Soviet Union.

...There is only one development that could conceivably stop this cancerous process, and that is for the people to retake control of Congress, reform it and the election laws to make it a genuine assembly of democratic representatives, and cut off the supply of money to the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

...I fear, however, that the U.S. has indeed crossed the Rubicon and that there is no way to restore Constitutional government short of a revolutionary rehabilitation of American democracy. Without root and branch reform, Nemesis awaits. She is the goddess of revenge, the punisher of pride and arrogance, and the United States is on course for a rendezvous with her. [more]
Sobering words from an author who, whether addressing "blowback," the march to war in Iraq, or a Phoenix Program for the 21st century, has proven to be an invaluable voice in the post-9/11 world.
Witness to the illegal Occupation of Palestine Tom Hurndall was killed last April by an IDF gunman as he sought to protect some children from Israeli gunfire last April.
The fact he was unarmed and wearing fluorescent clothing did not protect him from the high velocity rifle shot to the head. His family has turned off the severely brain damaged peace activists life support. He never regained consciousness.

His parents went to Israel to be by his side and bring him home. While there they went to see the place where he was shot. The checkpoint they needed to pass through was notified three times that they were going to arrive. Days before as well as when they set out, again ten minutes before their arrival. The British diplomatic convoy was fired upon from the watchtower at the checkpoint. Your tax dollars at work.
His family spent 17000 pounds to bring him home to Great Britain. Months later a check from the Israeli Defense Ministry for 8300 pounds arrived in the mail with a letter from Ambassador Zvi Stauber arrived in the mail. The check bounced.
Attorney General, General Menachem Finkelstein, after much work from the boys family has agreed to start an investigation concerning his shooting.
Ideally the investigation will be better than the check.
Read about Caoimhe Butterly, another life risking young activist who stands between children and the IDF.
Amiri Haas writes in Haaretz about another innocent child killed.
93 children have been killed by Palestinians. 449 have been killed by Israelis (figures collected early September 2003) .
ALL were innocent, they were kids.
Cockburn:

"Page's detailed and compelling case, based on his investigation of Murdoch's operations in Australia, Britain, the USA and the Chinese People's Republic, amounts to this: as an international operator, Murdoch offers his target governments a privatized version of a state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple and with no regard for truth. His price takes the form of vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, monopoly markets and so forth. The propaganda is undertaken with the utmost cynicism, whether it's the stentorian fake populism and soft porn in the UK's Sun and News of the World, or shameless bootlicking of the butchers of Tiananmen Square."
No matter what your feelings about the legitimacy or necessity of Israel's occupation of the W. Bank and Gaza, there can be few who would argue that is has been managed successfully, or that it should be a model for Iraq. From virtually every point of view, the Israeli model can be shown to be a failure, and yet the US War planners are increasingly asking for advice from Israel on how to:

"set up roadblocks to the best way to bomb suspected guerrilla hide-outs in an urban area." among other techniques.

Perhaps they would like to know more about how to drop massive bombs from F-16s into urban areas, or how to make sure to kill innocents virtually every single time an attack is made, or perhaps how to turn the population against them even more rapidly.
Did the Brits also have their own "Office of Special Plans"?
"Operation Rockingham [a unit set up by defence intelligence staff within the MoD in 1991] cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data, but had a preordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD... It became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had WMD [when] Unscom was showing the opposite. ...

"Britain and America were involved [in the 1990s and up to 2003] in a programme of joint exploitation of intelligence from Iraqi defectors. There were mountains of information coming from these defectors, and Rockingham staff were receiving it and then selectively culling [picking out] reports that sustained the [WMD] claims. They ignored the vast majority of the data which mitigated against such claims."

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Grabbing the booty and running: Bush
 
Chris Floyd finds a parallel the American POWs from WWII and Gulf War I in their subsequent treatment by the US administration:
Although the "conquest" of Iraq has unraveled into murderous chaos, at least the Bush Regime is winning its ferocious battle against another dangerous foe: American soldiers who were captured -- and tortured -- by Saddam Hussein's forces in the first Gulf War.

The Bushists' relentless fight to block the American captives from receiving any compensation from Iraq has eerie echoes of a similar move, more than 50 years ago, to prevent American victims of Japanese torture from filing legal claims against their tormentors. The two cases seem tied by a common ulterior motive: protecting war booty used as slush funds for "black ops" and crony kickbacks.

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Sunday, November 23, 2003
Europeans are inherently anti-Semitic and their leaders are guilty of pushing a biased policy in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has told EUpolitix.com.

“What we are facing in Europe is an anti-Semitism that has always existed and it really is not a new phenomenon,” he argues in response to an EU poll that rated Israel above Iran and North Korea as a threat to world peace.

Sharon throws out the distinction between anti-Semitic beliefs and legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies in the Middle East.

“Today there is no separation. We are talking about collective anti-Semitism. The state of Israel is a Jewish state and the attitude towards Israel runs accordingly.” [more]
These remarks come on the heels of a report that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) has shelved a study of anti-semitism in Europe because, as the Financial Times put it, "the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined."
George W. Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president. In a ferocious three-year attack, the Bush administration has initiated more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws, weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife. Cloaked in meticulously crafted language designed to deceive the public, the administration intends to eliminate the nation's most important environmental laws by the end of the year. Under the guidance of Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Bush White House has actively hidden its anti-environmental program behind deceptive rhetoric, telegenic spokespeople, secrecy and the intimidation of scientists and bureaucrats. The Bush attack was not entirely unexpected. George W. Bush had the grimmest environmental record of any governor during his tenure in Texas. Texas became number one in air and water pollution and in the release of toxic chemicals. In his six years in Austin, he championed a short-term pollution-based prosperity, which enriched his political contributors and corporate cronies by lowering the quality of life for everyone else. Now President Bush is set to do the same to America. After three years, his policies are already bearing fruit, diminishing standards of living for millions of Americans.

I am angry both as a citizen and a father. [more]
A Defense Ministry check, sent "without any admission of liability by the State of Israel and/or the Ministry of Defense" to the family of a International Solidarity Mission volunteer shot by an Israel Defense Forces soldier, bounced when the family tried to cash it earlier this week. The ISM volunteer was rendered incapacitated as a result of the gunshot wounds sustained last April.

The check for 8,370 pounds was sent to the family of Tom Hurndall, who was seriously wounded after being shot in the head by a soldier in the Rafah refugee camp. His family spent 17,000 pounds to take him home, and he has been hospitalized and connected to life-support machines ever since. [more]
Soros:

"Stock markets often give rise to a boom-bust process, or bubble. Bubbles do not grow out of thin air. They have a basis in reality—but reality as distorted by a misconception. Under normal conditions misconceptions are self-correcting, and the markets tend toward some kind of equilibrium. Occasionally, a misconception is reinforced by a trend prevailing in reality, and that is when a boom-bust process gets under way. Eventually the gap between reality and its false interpretation becomes unsustainable, and the bubble bursts.

Exactly when the boom-bust process enters far-from-equilibrium territory can be established only in retrospect. During the self-reinforcing phase participants are under the spell of the prevailing bias. Events seem to confirm their beliefs, strengthening their misconceptions. This widens the gap and sets the stage for a moment of truth and an eventual reversal. When that reversal comes, it is liable to have devastating consequences. This course of events seems to have an inexorable quality, but a boom-bust process can be aborted at any stage, and the adverse effects can be reduced or avoided altogether. Few bubbles reach the extremes of the information-technology boom that ended in 2000. The sooner the process is aborted, the better.

The quest for American supremacy qualifies as a bubble. The dominant position the United States occupies in the world is the element of reality that is being distorted. The proposition that the United States will be better off if it uses its position to impose its values and interests everywhere is the misconception. It is exactly by not abusing its power that America attained its current position."
More than three dozen of President Bush's major fundraisers are affiliated with companies that stand to benefit from the passage of two central pieces of the administration's legislative agenda: the energy and Medicare bills.

The energy bill provides billions of dollars in benefits to companies run by at least 22 executives and their spouses who have qualified as either "Pioneers" or "Rangers," as well as to the clients of at least 15 lobbyists and their spouses who have achieved similar status as fundraisers. At least 24 Rangers and Pioneers could benefit from the Medicare bill as executives of companies or lobbyists working for them, including eight who have clients affected by both bills. [more]


Bush is nothing but a high-rent con man. He wants you to watch his one hand which speaks on and on about democracy and freedom ad infinitum/ad nauseum--while with his other he steals US elections, lies to the American people while sacrificing their lives and rapes the US Treasury with no lube and no condom. I agree with Michael Moore: unelection is not good enough for him; Bush and his gang all need to be frog-marched to the Hague. The world should settle for nothing less.
CBS Editorial Director Dick Meyer:

"I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century.

I believe there is no way the counter-class made up of regulators, watchdogs and do-gooders and hack columnists can match wits with the predator class. Today's piles of money are so huge, great fortunes can be amassed by swiping the tiniest of slices in the wiliest of ways long before picked pockets are discovered."
The 101st Airborne Division said its soldiers in Mosul were shot while driving between U.S. garrisons. Several witnesses also said the soldiers were shot during the attack in the Ras al-Jadda district, though earlier reports by witnesses said assailants slit the soldiers' throats.


Bahaa Jassim, a teenager, said the soldiers' vehicle crashed into a wall after the shooting. Several dozen passers-by then descended on the wreckage, looting the car of weapons and the soldiers' backpacks.


After the soldiers' bodies fell into the street, the crowd pummeled them with concrete blocks, Jassim said. [more]


American military personnel funerals to date that Bush and Cheney have attended: 0.
The 2000 Presidential Election is the riveting story about the battle for the Presidency in Florida and the undermining of democracy in America. Filmmakers Richard Ray Pérez and Joan Sekler examine modern America's most controversial political contest: the election of George W. Bush. What emerges is a disturbing picture of an election marred by suspicious irregularities, electoral injustices, and sinister voter purges in a state governed by the winning candidate's brother. George W. Bush stole the presidency of the United States… and got away with it. " …the movie highlights those on the front lines —from the African-Americans who were turned away from the polling booths for assorted reasons. In one memorable scene the filmmakers freeze-frame a 'protest' against the ballot recount, identifying participants as staff members of Republican elected officials." --Elaine Dutka, Los Angeles Times (video)
It's as natural as curry in Indian food: Al-Qaida is cited in every terrorist attack everywhere in the world. Western intelligence officials are quick to attach the al-Qaida label to every unsolved case of terrorism. The attacks in Iraq? Al-Qaida is involved, along with supporters of Saddam Hussein. Turkey? Al-Qaida, in collaboration with the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders group. Jordan? Al-Qaida, together with local elements. And it's the same in Chechnya, Kashmir and Morocco.
...
Al-Qaida is alive and kicking, but replacing all the local terrorist organizations with one "world" organization is liable to make it possible for governments to absolve themselves of responsibility for taking action. Governments prefer to attribute their failures to the activity of "foreign elements," which, of course, have to be dealt with by some sort of "world community" and not by them.

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