Saturday, July 15, 2006

On the road again

We'll be hitting the road sometime Saturday. Needless to say, I won't be blogging for the next couple days. Manuel, Duke, & DTF will undoubtedly have some really cool material for y'all to peruse in the meantime. As I've mentioned before, blogging from me will be pretty hit-and-miss for much of the rest of the month depending on such factors as travel, internet access, and of course motivation.

Catch y'all on the flipside. Onward through the fog.

Weekend reading on the Dolchstoßlegende

Stabbed in the Back! The past and future of a right-wing myth, an excellent article at Harper's. Here's a few clips to whet your apetite:
Every state must have its enemies. Great powers must have especially monstrous foes. Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies.

As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated. To understand just how this strategy is likely to unfold—and why this time it may well fail—we must return to the birth of a legend.
The article is very thorough. Make sure to check it out.

Looks like the Middle East is going to Hell in a handbasket

Among other things:

Hizbullah leader: 'You wanted open war. We are ready for an open war':
Hizbullah threatened "open war" last night as Israel ramped up its attacks on Lebanon, bombing roads and bridges in the centre of Beirut and warning that its fight would last until the militant group was destroyed.

Israeli politicians and army officers brushed aside international criticism and said their goal was to force Hizbullah's disarmament. So far at least 73 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed in Lebanon since the bombing began three days ago.

My emphasis added.

Real History Lisa offers some thoughts of her own regarding the escalating crisis:
As usual, Jeff's Rigorous Intuition seems right on the money. In his post today, he wrote:
America's Countdown: Tehran has been stuck at 20 minutes and holding for a couple of months now, derailed by Iran's rational posture regarding its nuclear ambitions and the ongoing thwarting of anything approaching even the Bush administration's benchmark for a casus belli. Israel's hawks, by smashing in the back door, are baiting Iran to action, which would goad the US to crash through the front. Israeli military claims, trumpeted by FoxNews, that the Haifa rockets were fired by Iranian Guard units, and the absurd suggestion that Hezbollah intends to transport their captured soldiers to Iran, say forcefully that this isn't about Lebanon, though for now it will be mostly the Lebanese who perish. (Interestingly, The Jerusualem Post noted yesterday that "Before the attack on Haifa, CNN reported that the US Navy ordered one of their ships that was docked at the Haifa Bay to be moved to a safer location." Though the story has since been removed.)
Doesn't that make sense? The Israeli attack is way out of proportion, bespeaking some other agenda. And we know that Sy Hersh and others close to the CIA have been screaming that we're going to be at war with Iran next. But there is no pretext for war. What to do? America is overexposed. We can hardly launch any kind of unilateral, unprovoked action. So maybe we persuade a dependent ally to help us out, to provoke a reaction that could bring the United States the pretext it needs? It's plausible. It's absolutely possible. Is it true? Time will tell, perhaps.
Netjin figures out that there is no way that Iran is going to be attacking Israel any time too soon, no matter the hype coming from neoconmen. That sure won't stop the Israeli government from beginning an offensive against Iran with what Justin Raimondo characterizes as an indirect attack aimed at Hezbollah in Lebanon (with Syria next?).

The Electronic Intifada has a special page set up to track what's happening in Lebanon.

Also, turns out that Israeli troops are shooting at journalists in Lebanon who are trying to cover the crisis. Yesterday, there was video footage of a FauxNews reporter being shot at by what appeared to be Israeli soldiers.

Dahr Jamail reports of the "catastrophic bombing" of Beirut described by Lebanese refugees.

Meanwhile, although the Israeli army has withdrawn troops from Gaza, airstrikes against Palestinians in Gaza continue. Palestinian refugees on the Egyptian side of Gaza were able to make their way through a breach in the fence between Gaza and Egypt, courtesy of "militants". Of course, since the infrastructure in Gaza has been severely damaged, it's not surprising to read of residents being short on such basics as water.

If only our government would have the gumption to remind Israel that it is not our 51st state, rather than to continue our "exceptional" encouragement of the Israeli government's despicable behavior.

Friday, July 14, 2006

In the meantime,

big oil will undoubtedly reap record profits off the misery of many.

Some anti-torture blogging you might have missed

By sheer coincidence a few days ago, I happened upon one of Avila's diaries over at DailyKos (a place I rarely visit), and was greatly impressed. She's had a number of informative pieces well worth checking out, including Oath Betrayed and Breakdown, both of which document the role that health professionals (including mental health professionals) have played in the war crimes currently being perpetrated at such places as Guantánamo Bay.

While you're at it, make sure to check out the diaries of tlh lib, who's been writing impassioned pleas to shut down Gitmo, as well as posting an on-going series on the Senate hearings on appeals court nominee Haynes.

These are two bloggers whom I will be following much more closely.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Keeping afloat of the latest in the Middle East

As we are aware by this point, the situation in Israel/Palestine and now Lebanon is extremely volatile, and one is likely to find oneself having to do plenty of updates if one dares to blog on what's going down. A quickie roundup:

Catnip has a summary of recent events over at her blog to check out (Israel/Lebanon War Updates).

I've also followed the coverage over at The Guardian: Israel steps up Lebanon offensive and Family of nine killed as they slept provide a taste of what's going on.

Commentary by Chris Toensing in Letting Gaza Burn.

And this just in: US vetoes UN condemnation of Israel:

UNITED NATIONS - The United States cast the first U.N. Security Council veto in nearly two years Thursday, blocking an Arab-backed resolution that would have demanded Israel halt its military offensive in the
Gaza Strip.

The draft, sponsored by Qatar, accused Israel of a "disproportionate use of force" that endangered Palestinian civilians, and it demanded Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza.

While we're at it, check out Eli at Left I: Acts of war, or war crimes?

Collective punishment is frowned upon by international law for good reason, and yet this is precisely what we're seeing once again being perpetrated by Israel.

Haynes: The Torture Judge

About the man whom Bu$hCo nominated to the 4th Circuit Appeals Court:
As General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Mr. Haynes helped to formulate policies governing detainee interrogation and detention that violated U.S. and international law. He recommended that detainees in Guantanamo could be subjected to abusive interrogation techniques, including stripping them naked, depriving them of light, forcing them into stress positions, forcibly shaving them, and using dogs to intimidate them. He also advised that using wet towels and dripping water to make the detainees believe they are suffocating (waterboarding) and threatening them and their families with death might be "legally available" options.
More:
As General Counsel to the Department of Defense, Haynes:
  • Was responsible for ensuring U.S. military compliance with the laws of war, the Geneva Convention, and federal law.
  • Helped make it harder for the officers with the military's own Judge Advocate General Corps to observe interrogations. Haynes' actions were so alarming that some JAG officers warned of "a disaster waiting to happen" and sought outside intervention.
  • Misled a U.S. Senator who had specifically asked about policies for detention and treatment of prisoners. (William J. Haynes, General Counsel, Department of Defense, Letter to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, June 25, 2003.)
  • Signed off on the legality of withholding Geneva Conventions protections from hundreds of persons detained at Guantanamo, defined as prisoners of war.
  • Helped develop the Defense Department's military tribunal plan, which the Supreme Court ruled in June (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) violate the Geneva Convention and federal law.
Nerdified Link. This guy is in any rational sense of the term, a war criminal - not exactly the sort of person one wants as an appeals court judge. We'll see shortly if the Senate will continue its complicity in promoting some of the most dubious figures this side of Hitler to influential offices.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm back

At least for the last couple days of class before heading off for some much-needed r&r in So.Cal. I of course give thanks to Manuel, DTF, & Duke for providing some excellent reading material. Hopefully the samples of their work that you've seen these past few days incites you to go off and check out their own blogs.

Quick note in the margin: While in So.Cal. I should have some access to the Internets, though obviously there will be a few days where I either will be on the road or simply unmotivated to log on - the lure of taking my son to the beach, and things of that nature are simply too powerful to ignore. So, naturally, Manuel, DTF, & Duke have an open invite to continue posting or cross-posting whenever the spirit moves them over the next couple weeks.

Making sense of the GOP's immigration schizophrenia

Originally posted by Duke1676.

Last week the Republican immigration dog and pony show hit the road. Like any good circus midway, it contains a mix of freak shows, fixed games and snake-oil salesmen whose main purpose is to pick the pockets, or in this case steal the votes, of unsophisticated local rubes. Utilizing double talk to prey on the public's naiveté, these political carnies offer up a midway where the prizes promised will never be worth the price of admission.

Under the big top, it appears the acts in the three rings are at odds with each other, with clowns, elephants, and monkeys running amok. In one ring, House Republicans feature a xenophobic revival meeting with appeal to a rough trade mix of minutemen and border cowboys. In another, Bush juggles for his uptown clientele. Today, Ringmaster Karl entered the center ring, and performed some slight-of-hand that would be the envy of any two-bit patent medicine purveyor. He attempted to convince the Latino activist group La Raza that Republicans had their best interests at heart.

All this would an interesting summer distraction if it were not so serious. Like a killer-clown horror movie where the harmless sideshow freaks turn on the unsuspecting townsfolk, it's just a matter of time before the Republican immigration carnival performers unite to begin their real work. What seems like chaos at present may very well turn out to be nothing more than a warm up act for the main event. At some point the Republicans will reach a "compromise" that will contain all the worst aspects of their proposals. Having spent the summer priming the public with a staged wrestling match, the compromise can then be heralded as the most reasonable agreement between the warring factions, and presented to the American electorate as the ultimate distractive wedge issue.

It seems impossible at the present time that any sort of compromise could ever be reached under the Republican big top, but if we listen carefully to what their saying, a common ground can be found… and it's not pretty.

The House Republican sideshow began last week with photo-op hearings along the border in San Diego and Laredo. Featuring hand-picked panels to rehash the merits of the seven month old Sensenbrenner bill, the hearing brought out the vocal right-wing fringe.

About 200 people, including scores of Minuteman Project border activists waving "Don't Tread on Me" flags, attended the House hearing at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Some of their cars sported "Tancredo for President" bumper stickers, a reference to Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Republican and an advocate for sharply restricting immigration -- who, so far, isn't running.
Link

Even the House spokesmen are not making too much of an effort to present their hearings as anything more than blatant political posturing. Usually Congress holds hearings prior to the passage of legislation to research an issue and look for solutions to a problem. In this case House Republicans have been frank in stating that the goal of the two month road show is to create a negotiating tool by rallying public support and discrediting the Senate bipartisan compromise plan.

The goal is to convince the Senate and the American public that a bill approved by the House of Representatives that emphasizes enforcement is better than a Senate bill, said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton (Orange County), chairman of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, which sponsored the hearing.

"It's an educational effort on our Senate colleagues and the American people, because as the public becomes more cognizant about the border, the pressure increases in our direction," Royce said after the hearing.
Link

As the House members posed for photo-ops with border patrol agents and local sheriffs, George Bush went on his own immigration road trip. First appearing with Larry King then following up with a press conference in Chicago the next day. Bush's comments, although familiar by now, opened a window of opportunity for Republican compromise.

From Larry King Live:

KING: We're back in the Blue Room with President and Mrs. Bush. Immigration. This law. When is it going to be passed and did you hedge back a little. You now say the other day that you first want to see that the borders are safe before we work on legalizing the immigrants.

G. BUSH: I don't think I said that. I have always said we need a comprehensive plan. First and foremost we've got to enforce the border and that means more border patrol agents, better technology, ending catch and release. Secondly that we've got to have interior enforcement. But I don't see how you can enforce a border unless you have a rational way for people to come here and work temporarily.

--snip--

KING: Well, we had amnesty in other cases in the past.

G. BUSH: I know but it won't work in this case. Just not the right thing to do. If you're trying to solve the problem, bringing people automatic citizenship isn't solving the problem. It's creating another problem, which is another 8 million people or so will come and hope to get granted automatic citizenship.

Secondly, is you can't reward people who broke the law because you've got people standing in line legally, because we're a nation of laws, we've got to uphold the laws. But this is -- we have a duty to enforce the border and I think everybody agrees with that and -- and we are. We are expanding agents, and we're expanding technologies, but I think it needs -- there needs to be a plan that recognizes people coming here to do work Americans aren't doing. And they ought to be allowed to do so on a temporary basis for a limited period of years provided they pass a criminal background check and then go home.
Link

What will it take "unite" these warring factions?

Bush is already willing to give the House Republicans their "enforcement first." He's recently met with Mike Pence (R-IN) who has stumbled on the holly grail for Republican compromise on this issue; privatization of the immigration processes. You can almost hear the squeals of delight coming from Dick Cheney's office at the thought of doling out no-bid contracts not only for border security and immigrant incarceration but also immigrant processing.

So it appears the only missing puzzle piece in a Republican compromise is: How do they assure a constant supply of low cost workers for businesses after they get rid of the 12 mil undocumented immigrants already here using Tancredo's attrition plan?

The answer is simple … Bush's guest workers. Notice how on Larry King he stresses the need for these workers to be here "on a temporary basis for a limited period of years provided they pass a criminal background check and then go home" That's the key.

Up until now the guest worker program has been tied to a plan to allow workers to legalize their status after a given amount of time and work towards citizenship. It was a key aspect of the compromise Senate bill that allowed some Unions and immigrant activists groups to get behind the bill. They figured that as long as the guest workers had some hope of naturalization they could overlook the exploitive nature of importing workers on a temporary basis.

If Bush was to eliminate that one provision he could probably sell the plan to Sensenbrenner and the anti-immigration House Republicans. This kind of compromise would allow the House Republicans to close the border to maintain the racial balance that concerns them so. They could also criminalize the undocumented and go after the employers to drive out the 12 million already here. Then allow in a controlled flow of indentured servants to do the jobs that they all know Americans don't really want.

All Bush has to do is figure out a way to assure the House Republicans that the temporary workers will leave when their term of service is over.

At the moment that part of the plan has not be revealed, but I would bet it will have a "privatized" component. It could be data bases, biometrics, or microchip implants, but at the end of the day it will definitely involve huge government contracts handed out to big Republican donors.

As the summer progresses we need to watch the movement of the Republicans on this issue. At some point ringmaster Karl will blow his whistle and the chaos we see now under the big top will subside as all the circus players start to perform in unison. The jugglers, lion tamers, and acrobats will take the stage as the clowns and monkeys take their leave, and once again the Great Republican Election Show will begin.

Repost by DuctapeFatwa: The American Question

Originally posted by DuctapeFatwa.

I wrote this in November of 2004, as the link indicates. (James, I hope you don't mind a Golden Oldie) As most will be aware, the situation has since deteriorated even further, to a point that few young folks ever imagined they would see, a point that old folks hoped we would not see again.

How will the world answer The American Question? At this time, that is not known. What is known is that the world will answer it without benefit of input from America, as that entity has waived that particular option...

The American Question: Do they deserve the Perfect Storm?

As the American power elite prepares to celebrate having cleverly sidestepped an election by murdering whoever is still left alive in Fallujah, as Arafat lies ill in France, poisoning not yet ruled out, in a coma, induced, reversible, or not, depending on whom you ask, the viewing public waits. Which will come first? The beheading du jour, just to soften up the audience?

We can hope that will not be necessary, since the American voting class performed so beautifully in the pageant. They could hardly be softer.

Whichever of the millionaires they voted for had already promised them all the blood they could drink, and they stood in line to get it.

They did deserve an election, which they did not get, but as an increasingly troubled world furrows its brow in contemplation of the American Question, it is fair to stain the relative calm with a sub-question: Do they deserve what they WILL get?

It is too easy, disingenuous, even, to write them off as air-brained children of privilege whose grasp on matters not related to Scott Peterson is at best, tenuous.

It is more tempting to chalk it all up to mass delusion, a kind of modern Mega-Salem, and even inject a colorful supernatural note: perhaps they have indeed all been possessed by the spirits of adolescent girls, and are unable to process information effectively due to an acute case of hormonal aphasia, but that would hardly be fair to the billions of teenaged girls over the years, who, Salem aside, have withstood the onslaught and made it through just fine, without doing any harm to others or themselves.

One can flatter by imitation and regress along with them and call them a primitive race of brutish savages, who quite simply have no regard for human life or the capacity to process questions more complex than those posed by the server at Starbucks, but in addition to all the other reasons for not doing that, there is the small matter of the underclass who did not vote, and who breathe the same air, drink the same water, and frequently have the same ancestors, at least one or two.

They are Goebbelized, argue some, and they are right, but a fundamental element of the American Question is: Is that an excuse? 9 out of 10 Holocaust survivors, Palestinians, Afghan amputees and bereaved Iraqi mothers say no.

What, then, is a troubled world to do? The American Question has begun to haunt even the questionable brains of the puppet regimes: at what point is it no longer possible for even the most generous infusion of cash to get the job done, and keep the peasants from the Palace wall? Clearly it is a point that looms closer, and even the stately white heads of the European Autonomous Region begin to cloud.

At what point does Jacques Chirac, smug in his sick little crusade against the fashion choices of schoolgirls, become Busharac, and under pain of a carpet of bombs, order his armies to blast off the heads, covered or bare, of those schoolgirls, in Iraq, in Nice, according to the wishes of the American taxpayers?

One can almost hear the persuasive voices, well, he's still alive, isn't he? And so is Karzai. Dyncorp knows their stuff. For you, there will be three dozen. Even in the toilet, they will protect you. Pour warm water if you are shy. If that doesn't work, we will supply you with an indwelling catheter. The latest model. Yes, yes, the Romanovs, but did they have oil contracts like this? Did Ceaucescu? Well, then.

Underlying all the sparkles, all the covert, the black, the Unity ops, underwriting them, giving them life, is one undeniable, inescapable inevitable truth: While the world may not yet agree on the fairest, most just answer to the American question, there are literally billions of quite ordinary people for whom the answer is based not on vengeance, but self-defense, and who at any moment, may decide that they do not need a consensus.

Reposted from Enemy of the State

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

History Matters

Originally posted by Man Eegee.

The Oklahoma Gazette has a fascinating article that I thought I would share
It was a small Cheyenne girl’s buckskin dress where a bullet hole and rust-colored blood stains covered the area where her stomach would have been.

Harjo, of the Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee tribes, said that her mother was “livid about the fact that was in a museum, where people’s prying eyes could look at it, and that it hadn’t been buried with the girl. It brought up all sorts of questions. Was the girl even buried? What happened to her? It just brought up a lot of things from the past. That became, for me, the symbol of the things that museums should not have and should not display.”
It got me thinking about history and how much importance we as modern day Americans choose to lend it to our everyday worldview. With respect to the shady ways we've treated the indigenous people of this slab of rock and dirt, do we choose to live our lives in such a way that honors the entire past of the area? or do we hold a viewpoint that the only era that has truly mattered is that which followed the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution?

These are philosophical questions to a point, but it is my view that they also color the ways we engage in politics. Tribal politics, as an example, are dependent upon the motives of the politicians in Washington. If there is good will flowing from the Hill, then usually the best interests are served among the tribal people; but as we have seen extensively, when there is greed and powerbroking as the principle for lending assistance, well, just ask Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay what happens when you get caught displaying and manipulating the metaphorical remains of native american tribes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Something Stirs South of La Frontera

Originally posted by Man Eegee.

From the AP
President Vicente Fox won't meet with either of the two candidates who claim to have won Mexico's presidential race until the nation's top electoral court has declared a victor, his spokesman said Monday.

In his first briefing since the July 2 election, Ruben Aguilar said Fox spoke with ruling-party candidate Felipe Calderon after electoral officials gave him a slight lead in the official vote tally. But he said Fox would stay out of the contest until a president-elect is named.

Aguilar said he was confident that a campaign launched by Calderon's rival, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, to overturn Calderon's lead would be peaceful. And he dismissed the idea that the country, torn between the two candidates, would come to a standstill.

The Mexican people have not had confidence in their electoral system in a very long time. Decades of fraud and corruption involving centralized power, bribes for votes, secretive counting, etc. have done their number on the country's democratic system. Sound familiar? It does to this United States citizen's ears as I watched the horrors of 2000 and 2004 unfold.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado, the Democratic Revolution Party's candidate, is moving forward with the challenge of last week's election. With a vote margin of 244,000 out of 41 million cast (a little over .5%), and widespread accounts of shadiness at polling places, he is making a simple demand.
Count every vote
As the United States media continues to do a hatchet job on AMLO the "leftist" candidate in the mold of that evil Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, remember this dear reader: the talking heads are continuing to lull you into a mental coma that spits in the face of democracy. They are the voices of the corporate board rooms who are basking in the sunlight of secure pension plans while the rest of us figure out whether we're going to scrape up enough money to pay for groceries or the electric bill this month (as an example of the effects of the U.S. Minimum Wage which hasn't been raised since 1997). But I digress.

The streets of Mexico were filled over the weekend with hundreds of thousands of people to demand a defibrillator for democracy. I don't know about you, but I'm hoping the shockwave sent out by their grassroots movement makes its way past the lines of Minutemen and various military forces across la frontera. Piolin y El Cucuy agree
Two Latino radio hosts credited for mobilizing hundreds of thousands this year in pro-immigrant protests said on Friday they would join the drive to increase the immigrant vote in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

Los Angeles disc jockeys Piolin (Tweetybird) and El Cucuy (the Bogeyman) said they will work with the National Council of La Raza and other organizations to push Latino immigrants living in the United States to become U.S. citizens and register to vote in time to cast ballots in 2008.

Crossposted from my humble blog

Monday open thread: Quotable edition

Noticed this gem in a Paul Craig Roberts column:
Recently I heard from a Russian that Bush's slogan, "you are with us or against us" comes from a communist song dating from 1950, "The one who is not with us is against us." The slogan was part of the propaganda used to suppress dissent.
Gives that representation of the Republican Party as "red" a whole new twist.

What did you find quotable today?

"Who is this person? Did I miss something?"

Perhaps the best comment in one of blogtopia's (y!sctp!) latest kerfluffles.

The "who" is simple enough: some blogger even more obscure than I (and that's something of a genuine accomplishment), who managed to say some terrible things about a right-wing blogger's family. In fact I hadn't heard of Deb Frisch until yesterday, and I suspect many, many others hadn't either, as this handy chart from Mahablog demonstrates handily:

I did a quick look at her yearly stats, and as near as I could figure, she might be lucky if she gets half the traffic that my blog gets, and I feel like I'm the Maytag Repairman of bloggers most days. As Skippy notes, she's apparently never had too many folks linking to her either until, well, two days ago.

And yet apparently there are a bunch of righty bloggers who think we lefty bloggers should all be familiar with one another. Reminds me of that time when someone asked one of my friends who'd immigrated from India if she knew some other person who was currently living in India. My friend's response (accompanied by this incredulous look on her face that I wish I had captured on film) was something along the lines of, "just because we all look alike to you doesn't mean we all know each other." At the time India didn't quite have one billion people residing within its borders, but I think it's safe to say that even back in the early 1990s that all the nearly one billion residents of India were not sending each other Hallmark cards on each special occasion. There are God knows how many bloggers who identify themselves as liberal, leftist, progressive, etc., and I can guarantee that I have not heard of the vast majority of them, nor do I feel the need to take any responsibility or to apologize for anything offensive that these folks might write. Personally, I think we Americans get too easily offended about too much and really need to lighten up. But that's just me (though for the record, let's just say that Frisch's particular actions were definitely beyond the pale - the golden rule applies here; I wouldn't want anyone saying anything degrading about my wife & kids, so I feel it wise to treat others with the same courtesy).

The "Did I miss something" question can be answered thusly:

Nah, not really, beyond the usual lesson that if you want temporary fleeting fame, just do something sufficiently outrageous and you'll get more attention than you can shake a stick at. I think Maha summed it up best:
I see from Memeorandum that the righties are still nipping at Frisch, who is warped enough to still be responding to them. Look, I don’t know what Frisch’s problem is. I don’t know if she’s just immature or if she’s bipolar or is being deliberately provocative to drive up her traffic — which is working brilliantly — but it’s way past time to leave it alone. I learned a long time ago on the Internets that when it becomes clear the person you are “debating” is a few clowns short of a circus, it’s time to walk away. Let ‘em have the last word, and just walk away, and ignore or twit filter the loon in the future.

Indeed.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Out of town Monday thru Wednesday

This one's work-related, and I am not expecting to have the time or opportunity to get near a computer with internet access.

The usual trio of blogsitters have been given the heads up, and I trust they will have some very interesting material posted in my absence.

Union Busting, Iraq Style

Thanks to Porcupine Blog, we learn that in Iraq labor unions are under attack. Turns out it's not the so-called "Islamist extremists" that unions have to worry about but rather the neoconmen (through their puppet regime) behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Here's one union's press release:
OIL UNION BANK ACCOUNT FROZEN

IRAQI GOVERNMENT ATTACKS OPPONENTS OF OIL PRIVATISATION

We have just confirmed reports that the Iraqi regime has frozen all the bank accounts of the Iraqi oil workers' union, both abroad andwithin Iraq.Wave of anti-union activity by government The Iraqi regime's decision comes in the wake of a series of anti-union measures, including the disbanding of the council of the lawyers' union, freezing the writers' union accounts and the September 2005 decree making all trade union activity illegal.

For that anti-union act the regime used the pretext of promising the promulgation of a future law to 'regulate' trade union organisations and their activities.This action follows in the footsteps of US administrator Paul Bremer In 2004 Paul Bremer, the occupation's then pro-consul in Iraq, declared trade union activity in the state sector illegal.

That decision re-enacted Saddam Hussain's 1987 decree banning workers' unions in the state sector by declaring them to be 'civil servants' rather than 'workers'.Hamstringing opponents of oil rip-offIraq's enormous oil wealth is being groomed for Production Sharing Agreements, which would transfer effective control over all aspects of oil policy, production and marketing to multination oil companies.

The oil workers' union is one of the most effective opponents of this policy, organising an anti-privatisation conference last year and another one to come this year.

Naftana member Ewa Jasiewicz is prepared to deal with enquiries. You can call her on 07749 421576.

Notes for journalists

The GUOE organises over 23,000 oil and gas industry workers Naftana (Arabic: 'our oil') was set up by UK activists after contact with the GUOE. We are in regular contact with the leadership of the union.

In August 2003 the union halted oil exports for two days as a protest over low wages

The GUOE is independent of any political party or union federation.GUOE executive committee members, including its President, were part of the opposition against Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and many were imprisoned by the regime.

The GUOE is opposed to the military occupation of Iraq and to the privatisation of the oil and industrial sectors of Iraq.

The GUOE is a successor to the Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU), set up immediately after the fall of the Saddam regime.In October 2003 union activists kicked US company KBR out of oil industry workplaces.

See the union's website www.basraoilunion.org for more details in bothArabic and English
More here. Yet another news story you won't read about in our corporate media.

An appropriate response to an unpunctual plagiarist:

Classic, via Crooks & Liars:
The backstory:
On yesterday’s Adam Carolla radio show, Ann Coulter called in to the show an hour and a half late, then told the host "I am really tight on time."Carolla responded, "All right, well get lost" and then hung up on her mid-sentence.
The transcript:

ADAM CAROLLA: Ann Coulter, who was suppose to be on the show about an hour and a half ago, is now on the phone, as well. Ann?

ANN COULTER: Hello.

CAROLLA: Hi Ann. You’re late, babydoll.

COULTER: Uh, somebody gave me the wrong number.

CAROLLA: Mmm… how did you get the right number? Just dialed randomly — eventually got to our show? (Laughter in background)

COULTER: Um, no. My publicist e-mailed it to me, I guess, after checking with you.

CAROLLA: Ahh, I see.

COULTER: But I am really tight on time right now because I already had a —

CAROLLA: Alright, well, get lost.

It's just so hard getting respect as a plagiarizing right-wing hatemonger. Boohoo.

On a somewhat related note, it looks like the plagiarism story has made its way to the AssPress (as a quick Google News search will indicate). The Raw Story has the latest roundup. TPMmuckraker has also been checking into the allegations and has what they call a "complete" list of the allegations so far. As I've said before, it looks like the jig is up.

From the mailbag: "Murder in Samarkand"

The book is currently on sale in the UK (it'll be available in the US sometime in early February next year), and there is more than just the book to peruse. Murray explains via Dahr Jamail's website:

Murder In Samarkand - Documents:

In publishing "Murder in Samarkand" I had wanted to publish the supporting documentation in the book to cooroborate my story, especially as the FCO is claiming that the story is essentially untrue. In that sense, perhaps the most interesting link in the documents below is the very first document, which is a table of detailed amendments the FCO insisted be made to the text. This is fascinating if you consider just how much it confirms was true, particularly in the conversations it refers to between officials.

Many of the other documents I managed to have released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act. I was astonished when the FCO announced that they would still take legal action against me if I published them. They argue that - and this astonished me - even if a document is released under the DPA or FoIA, it is still copyright of the Crown and so cannot be published. I was even more amazed when the lawyers of the publisher said that this was probably true, and certainly could not be fought without potentially a million pound legal case.

It appears that, among so many attacks on civil liberties in recent years, the Blair government has managed to administratively negate its own Freedom of Information Act. Robin Cook must be spinning in his grave.

So we have made Murder in Samarkand an interactive book - the documents are published here, and referenced by URL in the text. Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents. This site may, of course, be subject to technical attack, so I would be grateful if those who can mirror these documents on their own sites, do so.

These are contemporary documents from my time as Ambassador in Uzbekistan. They do I believe include the real smoking gun on Britain's, and the CIA's, use of intelligence obtained by torture abroad. They also show the FCO getting increasingly angry with me over my being "over-focussed on human rights", rahter than building good relationships with Karimov, our ally in the War on Terror.

They do not give a smoking gun that proves that the allegations brought against me, of which I was eventually cleared, were trumped-up and motivated by a desire to get rid of me for policy reasons. Being internal FCO documents, they are written to maintain the facade of a proper disciplinary investigation. You need to be prepared to read between the lines - and read the book!

Craig

Document 1 - FCO Comment
Document 2 - IMF Telegram
Document 3 - Declaration
Document 4 - Speech
Document 5 - Hill Negotiation
Document 6 - Michael Wood memo of 13 March
Document 7 - Telegram of 18 March 2003 headed US Foreign Policy
Document 8 - Letter from Simon Butt dated 16 April 2003
Document 9 - Exchange of emails with Linda Duffield
Document 10 - Colin Reynolds' report of 26 June 2003
Document 11 - Minute of my meeting with Howard Drake
Document 12 - Letter from British Businessmen in Tashkent
Document 13 - Email to Kate Smith
Document 14 - Minute of 26 September 2003
Document 15 - Telegram

From Blairwatch, here's the text of one of Murray's latest messages:
I am sorry to trouble you, but believe that we now face a threat both to the Web and to Freedom of Information in the UK which must be challenged. The British government is arguing that government documents, even if released under the Freedom of InformAtion Act or Data Protection Act, cannot be published, on the web or elsewhere, as they remain Crown Copyright. They have required me to remove documents from my website on that basis, under threat of legal action - see the attached letter from the Treasury solicitors.

If you think about it for a moment, the government could thus cancel out almost the whole purpose of the Freedom of Information Act; information released would be just for the private use of an individual. Newspapers - or bloggers - could not publish it in any detail.

If accepted, this extraordinary use of copyright could keep literally everything - everything - produced by government a secret.

The documents in question are the supporting evidence for my book, Murder in Samarkand, which has just been released. The government continues to claim my story is untrue. There is one important advance in all this. Up until now the government refused to acknowledge the documents were authentic. Now Buttrill's letter specifically acknowledges all of the documents and claims copyright over them.

Some of these documents have already been published widely on the web (not least due to the efforts of many of you on this list), particularly the "Tashkent telegrams" on CIA and MI6 use of intelligence obtained under torture in Uzbekistan. Those are now admitted as authentic.

Some are new to the web. Perhaps the most important is the chart of the changes the British Government insisted be made to the book. These are extremey revealing for what they admit to be true - for example, only minor changes are requested in the key meeting between senior officials on the legality of using intelligence from torture, at which it was confirmed that this is US and UK policy.

Perhaps still more revealing is the insistence on removal of the assertion that "Colin Powell knowingly lied" when he claimed that bombs in Tashkent were the work of al-Qaida. The British government insisted on removal not because it was untrue - as detailed in the book, they know full well it is true - but because it would "Damage UK-US relations".

The changes requested were made in the book, because my publisher would not publish without. That is why the truth needs to be out there on the web.

It is on the face of it very strange that the British Government is going after me over the Copyright Act and not the Official Secrets Act. The answer is simple - under the Copyright Act there is no jury. A jury would never convict for campaigning against torture, and be most unlikely to accept that documents released cannot be published. The table of changes requested by the government is not even a classified document in the first place. But a single judge may be more malleable - John Reid had put a huge effort lately into browbeating judges over anything connected to the so-called War on Terror. As the government know very well I have no money to pay a small, or even large fine, they can get the book and documents banned and me in jail without having to convince any jury of pesky citizens.

How to fight back?

Well, we must not let the documents disappear from the web. There is as yet no legal ruling on these matters, Mr Buttrill's claims are only highly controversial legal contentions. So if you post the documents pending a court ruling, there is a danger you may be contravening the - civil, not criminal - law, but then again you may not. You would quite likely receive a threatening letter from Mr Buttrill. Now you have
this email from me, NSA and GCHQ are almost certainly tracking you, (they can, incidentally, reciprocally spy in the other country for each other and then swap the info, because neither needs a warrant to spy abroad), but then they probably were already.

The publisher had firm and very expensive legal advice that it was not contravening any civil or criminal law to publish in the book links to web pages containing the documents. So you are almost certainly on safe legal ground in publishing this link to the Dahr Jamail site if you do not wish to mirror the docs yourself.

http://dahrjamailiraq.com/murray/

Feel free to publish this email and the letter from Mr Buttrill [attached].

It might also be helpful if we urged people to contact him, by phone, email or letter, and ask him complex questions about the fascinating and difficult legal and ethical questions thrown up by the government's position. As a government servant he's obliged to reply.

Finally, the government made plain to parliament that it would act against the book itself if it was published. As it only came out on Friday, no injunction yet but it could happen any time. So if you are interested in getting it, buy now and beat the injunctions! It is available from most online booksellers, though bookshops seem very reluctant to stock it.

Many Thanks,

Craig Murray
Props to Blairwatch, for the lowdown. You also might wish to check out Lenin's Tomb, which has up-to-date coverage of the story, as well as to documents and info that I've not posted here.

Suffice it to say, the Blair government in Britain seems every bit as much the civil libertarian's nightmare as is the Bu$hCo (and, previously, Clinton) government in the US.

Good luck and godspeed to Mr. Murray.

abu ghraib prison experiment

About abughraibprisonexperiment

Are the American soldiers who abused Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq "a few who have betrayed our values," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims? Or are they victims of a prison system guaranteed to produce atrocities?

In recent days, the latter view has taken hold, buttressed by the Stanford Prison Experiment, a 1971 study in which upstanding young men assigned to be "guards" in a mock jail abused their "prisoners." The study's designer, former Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo, has become the media's favorite expert on prison abuse, imprinting his blame-the-situation attitude on newspaper, magazine, and television coverage of the Iraqi prison scandal. The emerging spin is that the Stanford Prison Experiment explains scientifically what happened in Iraq at the Abu Ghraib prison.

But science, particularly social science, isn't all scientific. Every experimenter begins by drawing a box. Inside the box are the factors he decides to control or measure. The rest, including him, are left out, either because he can't control or measure them, or because he doesn't think they're important. The box-drawing process is seldom scientific and often cultural or political. Consequently, excluded factors often turn out to be more important than included ones.

From the silence of the 30 year old Stanford Prison Experiment, a voice of consciousness awakens to expose the realities of our surroundings in the form of the Abu Ghraib Prison Experiment.
Seems like an interesting band worth checking out. The soundclip I heard had a strong hip-hop flavor, comparable to a number of contemporary underground rap artists.

As Confucius sez, "a picture is worth ten thousand words."