Friday, August 8, 2008

Police State 2.0: The Great Unveiling


Naomi Klein has been on the story, starting with her article in Rolling Stone in May of this year. Her latest is published at her own website, as well as over at Huffington Post. Here's some of what she has to say now that the Olympics spectacle has begun:
The Beijing Olympics are themselves the perfect expression of this hybrid system. Through extraordinary feats of authoritarian governing, the Chinese state has built stunning new stadiums, highways and railways -- all in record time. It has razed whole neighborhoods, lined the streets with trees and flowers and, thanks to an "anti-spitting" campaign, cleaned the sidewalks of saliva. The Communist Party of China even tried to turn the muddy skies blue by ordering heavy industry to cease production for a month -- a sort of government-mandated general strike.

As for those Chinese citizens who might go off-message during the games -- Tibetan activists, human right campaigners, malcontent bloggers -- hundreds have been thrown in jail in recent months. Anyone still harboring protest plans will no doubt be caught on one of Beijing's 300,000 surveillance cameras and promptly nabbed by a security officer; there are reportedly 100,000 of them on Olympics duty.

The goal of all this central planning and spying is not to celebrate the glories of Communism, regardless of what China's governing party calls itself. It is to create the ultimate consumer cocoon for Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cell phones, McDonald's happy meals, Tsingtao beer, and UPS delivery -- to name just a few of the official Olympic sponsors. But the hottest new market of all is the surveillance itself. Unlike the police states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, China has built a Police State 2.0, an entirely for-profit affair that is the latest frontier for the global Disaster Capitalism Complex.

Chinese corporations financed by U.S. hedge funds, as well as some of American's most powerful corporations -- Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell, Google -- have been working hand in glove with the Chinese government to make this moment possible: networking the closed circuit cameras that peer from every other lamp pole, building the "Great Firewall" that allows for remote internet monitoring, and designing those self-censoring search engines.

By next year, the Chinese internal security market is set to be worth $33-billion. Several of the larger Chinese players in the field have recently taken their stocks public on U.S. exchanges, hoping to cash in the fact that, in volatile times, security and defense stocks are seen as the safe bets. China Information Security Technology, for instance, is now listed on the NASDAQ and China Security and Surveillance is on the NYSE. A small clique of U.S. hedge funds has been floating these ventures, investing more than $150-million in the past two years. The returns have been striking. Between October 2006 and October 2007, China Security and Surveillance's stock went up 306 percent.

[snip]

Many human rights groups have pointed out that China's security upgrade is reaching far beyond Beijing: there are now 660 designated "safe cities" across the country, municipalities that have been singled out to receive new surveillance cameras and other spy gear. And of course all the equipment purchased in the name of Olympics safety -- iris scanners, "anti-riot robots" and facial recognition software -- will stay in China after the games are long gone, free to be directed at striking workers and rural protestors.

What the Olympics have provided for Western firms is a palatable cover story for this chilling venture. Ever since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, U.S. companies have been barred from selling police equipment and technology to China, since lawmakers feared it would be directed, once again, at peaceful demonstrators. That law has been completely disregarded in the lead up to the Olympics, when, in the name of safety for athletes and VIPs (including George W. Bush), no new toy has been denied the Chinese state.

[snip]

The numbers on this trend are frightening. In April 2007, officials from 13 provinces held a meeting to report back on how their new security measures were performing. In the province of Jiangsu, which, according to the South China Morning Post, was using "artificial intelligence to extend and improve the existing monitoring system" the number of protests and riots "dropped by 44 per cent last year." In the province of Zhejiang, where new electronic surveillance systems had been installed, they were down 30 per cent. In Shaanxi, "mass incidents" -- code for protests -- were down by 27 per cent in a year. Dong Lei, the province's deputy party chief, gave part of the credit to a huge investment in security cameras across the province. "We aim to achieve all day and all-weather monitoring capability," he told the gathering.

Activists in China now find themselves under intense pressure, unable to function even at the limited levels they were able to a year ago. Internet cafes are filled with surveillance cameras, and surfing is carefully watched. At the offices of a labor rights group in Hong Kong, I met the well-known Chinese dissident Jun Tao. He had just fled the mainland in the face of persistent police harassment. After decades of fighting for democracy and human rights, he said the new surveillance technologies had made it "impossible to continue to function in China."

It's easy to see the dangers of a high tech surveillance state in far off China, since the consequences for people like Jun are so severe. It's harder to see the dangers when these same technologies creep into every day life closer to home-networked cameras on U.S. city streets, "fast lane" biometric cards at airports, dragnet surveillance of email and phone calls. But for the global homeland security sector, China is more than a market; it is also a showroom. In Beijing, where state power is absolute and civil liberties non-existent, American-made surveillance technologies can be taken to absolute limits.

The first test begins today: Can China, despite the enormous unrest boiling under the surface, put on a "harmonious" Olympics? If the answer is yes, like so much else that is made in China, Police State 2.0 will be ready for export.
Welcome to the paradise that your corporate masters have planned for you. The sanitized version that you'll see on the boob tube won't include the bits about the national insecurity state that exists there - one that is the envy of the world in the warped mind of neoliberals, one that had Mussolini or Hitler had access to back in the day could have allowed them to do even more damage than the atrocities that they managed to accomplish during their respective reigns of terror. Your rulers know a few things they would prefer you don't know: 1) you outnumber them, and 2) they need you much more than you need them. As a friend of mine (who I hope gets healthy enough to get writing again), would ask, why do you support? All you have to lose are your shackles. Dare to dream. Stop traffic.

Food for thought indeed



H/t BLCKDGRD.

Yet another anniversary

Via Ten Percent:
The people of Myanmar are marking exactly 20 years since a military crackdown on a student-led democracy uprising left an estimated 3,000 dead. But after last year’s large-scale rallies that were also brutally crushed, the ruling generals were taking no chances on Friday and the only protests were likely to be outside the country.

More on the persecution of the Roma in Italy



H/t The Corvid Diaries, which also has this to say:
I Care is a really useful and informative website about the persecution of minorities in Europe, and particularly the difficulties faced by the Roma population of Italy. Please go to this page to see what you can do about the situation. There is a letter there which can be sent (emailed) from anywhere in the world, as there is international interest in this issue.

[snip]

From the I Care website:

"The images of the attacks on the Roma camps in the Napels and elsewhere are reminiscent of the fire bombings or asylum seekers centers in Rostock, Solingen and many other places in East-Germany during the early nineties; crowds of people standing around, either uncaring or cheering on the violence, while the police is nowhere to be found. Prompted by the arrest of a Roma teenager allegedly attempting to kidnap a six-month-old baby in Naples, which echoes the old antisemetic blood libel, and further fuelled by governmental incitement against Roma and migrants, a nation-wide hysteria and a pogrom-like atmosphere is taking over Italy, while Italian government insists that the victims of the violence and discrimination, the Roma, are the real problem. Italian Government passed a law that makes it easier to deport Roma and has started a campaign to register all Roma in Italy by taking their fingerprints. The latest outrage came when two young Roma sisters drowned in the sea near Napoli. The bodies were dumped on the beach like trash and lay there for hours, while the people on the beach kept on sunbathing, eating, drinking and having a good time.

For more info on the Roma crisis in Italy, go to the ICARE news 'Roma Community Under Siege in Italy' section . Also visit the special page of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), or if you speak Italian, have a look at the site of Opera Nomadi."
Peace.

Good luck

Glenn Greenwald sez:

Thirty-four years ago today, Richard Nixon was forced from office as a result of mounting public anger, which in turn fueled the bipartisan intent of Congress to impeach him, due to his involvement in the relatively minor Watergate crimes. Accountability of that sort for our highest political leaders is today inconceivable.

Rather than investigate and punish violations of the Constitution and other laws, our political class conceals those crimes for as long as it can, endorses them when they are disclosed, and then acts to protect the lawbreakers. Public opinion is steadfastly ignored, rendered virtually irrelevant. Congress has deliberately made itself completely impotent, while the sprawling Executive enjoys virtual omnipotence and freedom from any real accountability. Laws are written not just for, but literally by, the largest corporations and their lobbyists -- even including, as we recently witnessed, laws that have no purpose other than to immunize them from consequences when they are caught deliberately breaking our laws.

Our basic Constitutional framework is being continuously assaulted while the lawless Surveillance State expands without limits, all justified by a condition of permanent War. The list is as familiar as it is long. A massive Surveillance State that functions in the dark, with no oversight, and without the slightest concern for Constitutional limits. Torture, rendition, military commissions, Guantanamo, secret CIA black sites, the abolition of habeas corpus. Endless, unconditional funding for "the War." Rampant lawbreaking without the slightest consequences. An Executive that has shielded itself completely from any limits, investigation or oversight while seizing greater and greater power in virtually every area and spouting full-scale falsehoods about the most serious matters as a matter of course. Political leaders who have assessed that they are best served by ignoring all of this when they aren't eagerly enabling it.

[snip]

Given the inevitability of Democratic control of Congress for the foreseeable future, our campaign has thus far focused, and will continue to focus, on those incumbent members of Congress who, through both their active complicity and craven capitulation, ensure that there is no real "opposition party" standing against any of these assaults. The rationale and strategy for this new campaign was set forth in detail here, and its core purpose is to change the political calculation so that there is a real price to pay for continuing to support the prevailing agenda of the rotting Beltway class. The question is not which party will control Congress. It is guaranteed that the Democrats will. The question is what they will do with that control. Accountability Now is designed, first and foremost, to change the way that control is exercised by genuinely harming the interests of those responsible for these destructive trends.

To begin this new organization, we created a Money Bomb campaign to provide the initial funding. We chose August 8 -- today -- for its symbolic value, a day that highlights, as our full-page Washington Post last month described, the accountability to which our political leaders were once subjected and can be again (August 8 also happens to be the day in 2006 when 18-year incumbent Joe Lieberman was ejected from the Democratic Party).

It could be that the system is so rotten that no reformist effort will work. I wish these folks luck with their efforts nonetheless.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Lies Of Hiroshima Are The Lies Of Today

John Pilger sez:
When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then walked down to the river and met a man called Yukio, whose chest was still etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He and his family still lived in a shack thrown up in the dust of an atomic desert. He described a huge flash over the city, "a bluish light, something like an electrical short", after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. "I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead." Nine years later, when I returned to look for him, he was dead from leukaemia.

In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb's blast. It was the first big lie. "No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin" said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. "I write this as a warning to the world," reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called "an atomic plague". For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared - and vindicated.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate "good war", whose "ethical bath", as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.

The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."

The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb". His foreign policy colleagues were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

Since 1945, the United States is believed to have been on the brink of using nuclear weapons at least three times. In waging their bogus "war on terror", the present governments in Washington and London have declared they are prepared to make "pre-emptive" nuclear strikes against non-nuclear states. With each stroke toward the midnight of a nuclear Armageddon, the lies of justification grow more outrageous. Iran is the current "threat". But Iran has no nuclear weapons and the disinformation that it is planning a nuclear arsenal comes largely from a discredited CIA-sponsored Iranian opposition group, the MEK - just as the lies about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction originated with the Iraqi National Congress, set up by Washington.

The role of western journalism in erecting this straw man is critical. That America's Defence Intelligence Estimate says "with high confidence" that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 has been consigned to the memory hole. That Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" is of no interest. But such has been the mantra of this media "fact" that in his recent, obsequious performance before the Israeli parliament, Gordon Brown alluded to it as he threatened Iran, yet again.

This progression of lies has brought us to one of the most dangerous nuclear crises since 1945, because the real threat remains almost unmentionable in western establishment circles and therefore in the media. There is only one rampant nuclear power in the Middle East and that is Israel. The heroic Mordechai Vanunu tried to warn the world in 1986 when he smuggled out evidence that Israel was building as many as 200 nuclear warheads. In defiance of UN resolutions, Israel is today clearly itching to attack Iran, fearful that a new American administration might, just might, conduct genuine negotiations with a nation the west has defiled since Britain and America overthrew Iranian democracy in 1953.

In the New York Times on July 18, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, once considered a liberal and now a consultant to his country's political and military establishment, threatened "an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland". This would be mass murder. For a Jew, the irony cries out.

The question begs: are the rest of us to be mere bystanders, claiming, as good Germans did, that "we did not know"? Do we hide ever more behind what Richard Falk has called "a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence"? Catching war criminals is fashionable again. Radovan Karadzic stands in the dock, but Sharon and Olmert, Bush and Blair do not. Why not? The memory of Hiroshima requires an answer.
My friends, the claims of lack of knowledge ring hollow, especially in an age when the requisite information is more accessible than ever before. Claims of powerlessness to change the status quo, to bring the bad guys to justice ring equally hollow.

Swanson Fisks Fisk

In this case it's over Robert Fisk's tendency to be dismissive of the internet in the columns of his collected in his book "The Age of the Warrior." David Swanson sez:
The fact is that without the internet, a great many of us in the United States and around the world would not have the opportunity to read Fisk's writing other than when it's published in book form. Without the internet, I'd have a choice of two or three nearly worthless -- scratch that, WORSE than worthless -- U.S. newspapers. Maybe they'd be slightly better without the competition of the internet. Maybe they'd be slightly worse.
Apparently Swanson is taking a blogging hiatus shortly - thankfully his main blogging enterprise, AfterDowningStreet, looks like it will be well-cared-for while Swanson works on his book.

Another fine tradition

It's that time again: with the Olympics about to start, the hosting government begins its crackdown on dissent. A tip of the sombrero to my man Nezua for the link, and who by the way reminds his readers of another violent Olympics crackdown 40 years ago in Mexico City - one that was aimed at silencing student pro-democracy protesters and which led to a massacre of genocidal proportions. Of course we can count on our governing elites to make furious denouncements of the host country's human rights record, while at the same time giving a wink and a nod to whatever torture, disappearances, and deaths might occur.

The song remains the same

The White House is not credible when trying to deny its own criminal behavior.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Curiouser and curiouser

As the plot thickens in the wake of purported Anthrax scare perp's death (I say purported due to some skepticism about his actual role if any), one of the more disturbing possibilities to emerge is that not only was it an inside job (which seemed plausible long ago), but that it may well have been done partially as a vendetta against various people and organizations that had crossed the Lush/Zany gang, and partially a means to goad whatever opposition to the Enabling Patriot Act into submission. Here's a possibility as outlined by Justin Raimondo:
Now I want to venture into some territory that is wild, to be sure, but no wilder than the anthrax letters themselves. I want to emphasize that this is just pure speculation on my part, or, more accurately, an interesting angle that could have significance – yet I hope not.

A number of the recent articles on the anthrax attacks have remarked on how the various targets seem curiously unrelated: the phrase "little in common" is often employed. And yet – and yet…

To begin with, targets Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy aren't just any old U.S. senators. They're Democrats, and, what's more, they are – or, in Daschle's case, were – leaders of the congressional Democratic caucus. Daschle was leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, and Leahy was – and is – head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, a post he used to his party's maximum advantage.

Both of these men, in addition, were major obstacles to the passage of the PATRIOT Act, with Daschle refusing to grant the administration the unlimited power it sought. Together with Leahy, Daschle led the opposition to the original version of the bill, which had no expiration date. The Democrats, particularly Daschle and Leahy, argued in favor of a two-year expiration date, but after their Senate offices were targeted by the anthrax killer, both thought better of it and compromised on a four-year extension.

Far from having "little in common," as the conventional media spinmeisters would have it, these two men shared their staunch opposition to the Bush administration's brazen attempt to trample the Constitution underfoot and seize power for themselves.

Yes, but what about the anthrax killers' media targets? NBC one could arguably describe as either centrist, or mildly liberal, but what about the New York Post and the National Enquirer, one a rightist daily owned by Rupert Murdoch and the other an iconic gossip sheet whose name is a synonym for journalism of the yellowest sort? These two targets seem to have nothing in common, aside from a certain tabloid flair.

Yet they do, indeed, share a certain focus, at least when it comes to one very particular subject, and I owe this insight to the anonymous "Allie," posting on the Newsgarden.org Web site. The Enquirer has published a lot of photos of celebrities caught-in-the-act, so to speak, and one of these was of Jenna Bush, falling-down drunk and rolling around on the floor with another female for the delectation of the attending fraternity boys. The New York Post was another source for this specialized genre. As "Allie" puts it: "If you go to their search page and do a search for Jenna what you come up with is a plethora of articles on the Boozing Bush Twins. More and worse than anything published in The National Enquirer."

"Allie" then goes on to list the Post's prolific output of bad-girl-Jenna pieces, with such lurid titles as "Busted Bush Babes Make Different Booze Pleas," "Double Shot: Bush Twins Both Nailed," "Jenna Comes 'Clean': Beer Bush Babe Faces Garbage Duty," and a little editorial comment to stick the knife in all the way: "Reign in These Bush Leaguers," by Linda Stasi.

As "Allie" shows, all of the intended targets of the anthrax attacks did indeed have one thing in common: in some manner or other, they had crossed the Bush family, either in a very personal way (the first victims at the Enquirer and the Post), or else politically, in the cases of Daschle and Leahy. As far as the latter two are concerned, it wasn't just their status as Democratic Party leaders, but their active opposition to the Bush agenda during the PATRIOT Act debate, that mattered.

As for Tom Brokaw, "Allie" points out that, prior to receiving the deadly anthrax-laden missive, and as the country was still reeling from the impact of 9/11, Brokaw had been approached by administration insiders not to run an interview with Bill Clinton, but he went ahead and did it anyway, thus incurring the Bushies' wrath.

Yes, there were many more victims of the anthrax attacks, with five killed and 17 injured. Leahy and Daschle were unharmed, as was Brokaw, but the Enquirer was hit hard, and – given "Allie's" thesis – right on target.

In any case, a certain pattern of the intended targets emerges. I can't paraphrase the passion behind Allie's analysis, so I'll let him speak for himself:

"Who had a motive? Who had a grudge against The Enquirer and the New York Post? Who had a grudge against Brokaw? Who wanted to frighten or manipulate Congress? First to get it to adjourn indefinitely, leaving Bush with the power of the purse. Second to get the PATRIOT Act passed in all its fascist glory, without even being read. Who?

"It's as plain as the nose on your face. Why is the major media pussyfooting around it? Are they still terrified?"

I have to say I don't see any real evidence for any of this, beyond the wildly circumstantial – and, in that respect, the basis of "Allie's" thesis is no different from the "evidence" marshaled by the FBI against Dr. Ivins. Except that, of the two narratives, the FBI's tale of a porn-obsessed sorority-house lurker and mad scientist is a lot less believable.

Make of it what you will. Dr. Ivins may well have been a bit off - then again, plenty of us in the sciences have our quirks - but I get the sense that he's a bit too convenient as suspect. All I know is a good healthy dose of skepticism is a good frame of mind to possess whenever dealing with anything your government tries to communicate.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Never Forget

I've been reprising a particular post as a remembrance for those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for a while now, adding elements as need be. Sadly, it is that time again.

John Ross sez1:
Seventy-one thousand three-hundred seventy-nine were incinerated by the Atomic Bomb on August 5th, 1945 at Hiroshima to "save lives"; 49,205 at Nagasaki three days later to "save lives"; 83,783 on my seventh birthday, March 11th, when the U.S. bombed Tokyo with 16,000 tons of Napalm, yup, "to save lives." The year before, the allies saturation-bombed Dresden, taking another 135,000 lives "to save lives." The four bombings together total up to around 340,000 deaths, 99.99% of them civilians who just got in the way. Given the 3,000 vaporized up in the Twin Towers, there is an important karmic deficit outstanding.
Jeremiah Wright sez:
We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.
Here are a couple pictures from the aftermath:


Photos by Robert Capp, recently posted to the site for the book Atomic Tragedy (h/t Huffington Post).

Look mummy, there's an aeroplane up in the sky"

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh(x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter
With the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh (x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on.

Goodbye, blue sky
Goodbye, blue sky.
Goodbye.(x 3)

"Goodbye Blue Sky" - The Wall - Pink Floyd - 1979
In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
Sinking behind bridges in the road
And I think of all the good things
That we have left undone
And I suffer premonitions
Confirm suspicions
Of the holocaust to come.

The rusty wire that holds the cork
That keeps the anger in
Gives way
And suddenly it's day again.
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done.
Two suns in the sunset
Hmmmmmmmmmm
Could be the human race is run.

Like the moment when the brakes lock
And you slide towards the big truck
"Oh no!"
You stretch the frozen moments with your fear.
[scream]
And you'll never hear their voices
"Daddy, Daddy!"
And you'll never see their faces
You have no recourse to the law anymore.

And as the windshield melts
My tears evaporate
Leaving only charcoal to defend.
Finally I understand the feelings of the few.
Ashes and diamonds
Foe and friend
We were all equal in the end.

"...and now the weather. Tomorrow will be cloudy with scattered showers
spreading from the east ... with an expected high of 4000 degrees
Celsius"

"Two Suns in the Sunset" - The Final Cut - Pink Floyd - 1983
Two lyrics that I thought seemed as timely as ever. Not my favorite period of Floyd musically (they pretty much petered out after about 1975), but those two songs were high points on their respective albums.

The photo of the cherry blossoms was nicked from this review of "Orignal Child Bomb", by Madman in the Marketplace.

"nuclear war / it's a motherfucker / don't you know / if they push that button / your ass got to go"

-- Sun Ra
Well, I think the thing that astonished him the most -- I mean, there were many things that he found astonishing. Remember, he went in there four weeks, almost to the minute, after the bomb was dropped, which was on the 6th of September in mid-morning, is when he arrived. And he was struck obviously by several things, by the physical appearance of the city, which was still smoldering here and there, by the surgical precision of the bomb itself. Later, he was to learn that, in fact, a great deal of damage had been done not just by the bomb, but by the fires that erupted because people were cooking their midday meal when the bomb hit, and a number of wooden residences just caught fire, and the fire spread. So, in a way, it was kind of like a Dresden.

And as he went around the ruins of the city and rapidly began visiting all of the hospital facilities that still existed, I know he was struck immediately, first by the absence of any American medical personnel there – four weeks later, there were still no doctors or nurses – and then, by the great precision and care with which the Japanese doctors had already catalogued the effects of the bomb on individual organs of the body.

And over the next few days, he was as astonished as the Japanese doctors were, of course, by what he referred to in his reports as “Disease X.” It was perhaps not so astonishing to see some of the scorches and burns that people had suffered, but to see people apparently unblemished at all by the bomb, who had seemingly survived intact, suddenly finding themselves feeling unwell and going to hospital, sitting there on their cots surrounded by doctors and relatives who could do nothing, and finding when he would go back the next day that they had just died, or that -- let's say a woman who had come through unscathed making dinner for her husband and having the misfortune to make a very small cut in her finger while peeling a lemon, would just keep bleeding, and bleed to death, because the platelets in her bloodstream had been so reduced that the blood couldn’t clot anymore.

So there were case after case like this, and in a way, I think my father found them more poignant than the obvious destruction or the obvious burn victims, because here was a whole team of Japanese doctors, very able, very aware from long before the war had started about the potentials of radiation, absolutely baffled. And he had a wonderful phrase he used. He said the effects of the bomb uncured because -- excuse me, the effects of “Disease X,” which is what they were calling it, uncured because it is untreated, and untreated because it is undiagnosed.
Nerdified Link. Food for thought as we observe Hiroshima and Nagasaki's tragic anniversaries, and as we face the very real threat that the US will keep the option of nuclear war against Iran's civilians "on the table" (as the Lush/Zany, McCain, and Obama gangs would say). Let us also observe as people of conscience the lies that the propaganda machine spewed in the aftermath of Hiroshima's and Nagasaki's nuking as they likely would be recycled by whichever White House regime chooses to nuke into oblivion fellow human beings. We must always remember. Never forget, never forgive.

1. Ross, J., (2004), Murdered by Capitalism, pp. 305-306.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Blackwater

I've mentioned that these cats are bad news before. So have others. Check:

P!, and emo as fuck.

What is it about breasts that fascists find so offensive?

Good question.

Excuses, excuses

The lengths Nancy Pelosi will go to in order to avoid impeaching the crooks in the White House - her latest excuse is that Junior Caligula wouldn't cooperate anyway, so what's the point? The sheer level of feigned defeatism is remarkable. I say feigned, as I don't think for a moment that Pelosi would have the decency to pursue impeachment, and has in fact gone out of her way to refuse impeachment altogether. "Progressives", your real enemy ain't in the White House - you need to look at your own party's leaders in Congress.

False flags, anyone?

Something always seemed fishy about the whole Anthrax scare in the fall of 2001, not long after the 9-11 bombings. The whole Saddam-al Qaida link was a loser to anyone who bothered to think about it for more than half a second, and the recent revelations about the Anthrax scare being an inside job, along with the lengths the White House went to in order to manufacture any reason to go to war in Iraq, killing a god-awful number of human beings in the process, go to show that skepticism was and still is definitely merited.

Chris Floyd, as always makes for must reading on the matter:
However, I do note, in just the briefest dip into the digital waters, that Cheney and the gang have been up to their old Hitlerian "let's fake a casus belli" tricks in regard to a war on Iran, while the American corporate media continues to cover up -- eagerly, slavishly -- what Glenn Greenwald rightly calls one of the most important and astounding stories of our time: how the Bush Administration completely concocted false evidence pointing to Saddam Hussein's involvement in the post-9/11 anthrax terrorism, then fed these lies to the aforementioned eager, slavish corporate media hacks at ABC. As Greenwald notes, the hacks know exactly who feed them these lies -- which were instrumental in fomenting war fever for the act of aggression against Iraq -- but they refuse to give up these conniving, traitorous wretches.

Still think you're living in a free country, with a free press? We've said it before and we'll say it again: at this point, anyone in public office who acknowledges the Bush Faction as being in any way a legitimate government -- instead of a pack of criminals in need of immediate and relentless prosecution -- is in fact complicit in the Faction's crimes.

As I wrote here awhile back:
Tomorrow is here. The game is over. The crisis has passed -- and the patient is dead. Whatever dream you had about what America is, it isn't that anymore. It's gone. And not just in some abstract sense, some metaphorical or mythological sense, but down in the nitty-gritty, in the concrete realities of institutional structures and legal frameworks, of policy and process, even down to the physical nature of the landscape and the way that people live.

The Republic you wanted -- and at one time might have had the power to take back -- is finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it's not there. It was kidnapped in December 2000, raped by the primed and ready exploiters of 9/11, whored by the war pimps of the 2003 aggression, gut-knifed by the corrupters of the 2004 vote, and raped again by its "rescuers" after the 2006 election. Beaten, abused, diseased and abandoned, it finally died. We are living in its grave....

"How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it." – Thoreau

.....The time has passed for ordinary political opposition, "within the system." The system itself has been perverted and converted into something else; it is now impossible to "work within the system" in the old understanding of that term, because that old system is gone. To work within the current system is to collaborate with evil, to give it legitimacy.

Thoreau's answer should be taken up by every person in public life, beginning with the Senators and Representatives in Congress, and radiating outward to all other elected officials in the 50 states, and to civil servants and other government employees, law enforcement agencies, judges, universities, contractors, banks, and on and on, throughout the vast, intricate web that binds the lives of so many people directly to the federal government. There should be non-compliance, non-recognition of this illegitimate authority, disassociation from taking part in its workings.

But we must also recognize that the kind of civil disobedience that Thoreau preached – and practiced – is immensely more difficult today, because the power of the state is so much greater, far more pervasive, more invasive…and much more implacable, more inhuman. No one would have dared put Thoreau in "indefinite detention" without charges, or torture him, or delegate some underling in intelligence apparatus (which didn't exist then) to kill him as a "suspected terrorist." Of course there were many egregious suspensions of Constitutional liberties and draconian measures during the Civil War; but these occasioned fierce fights in Congress, investigations, lawsuits, and outraged protests on the streets – the worst, by far, in American history, dwarfing the urban riots and war protests of the Sixties. But only the most ignorant fool – or devious liar – could compare these short-lived, ad hoc, inconsistently applied, frequently reversed and much-disputed depredations, carried out in the midst of a massive insurrection by fully-fledged armies on American soil, with today's thorough-going, systematic creation of an authoritarian state, on the basis of a zealous ideology of an unrestricted "unitary executive," operating in a nebulous, self-declared "state of war" that we are told will last for generations.

Neither Thoreau – nor any Northern opponent of the Civil War – confronted anything like this. (In fact, neither did the insurrectionists of the South, who were treated as lawful prisoners-of-war when captured – or often simply allowed to return to their homes on parole, in exchange for a simple statement that they would fight no more. No Southerner was ever subjected to indefinite detention, none were tortured, none were liquidated by secret agents.) The technology available to the government today amplifies the scope of repression immeasurably, both in the pinpoint, surreptitious targeting of individuals and in larger-scale operations.

In a land crawling with armed – and armored – SWAT teams, with operatives from innumerable federal agencies packing heat and happy to use it, a land where more than 2 million people languish in prison (many of them captives of an endless "war on drugs" that has done nothing to curb substance abuse but has greatly augmented the power of the state and the criminal gangs whose laundered money enriches Establishment elites), a land where almost every transaction is wired up to some national grid, where national ID cards are now being imposed – a land where you literally cannot exist without placing your liberty, your privacy, your very life at the mercy of a government apparatus besotted with violence, coercion and intrusion, there is no place left for the kind of action that Thoreau advocated. His way – and that of Gandhi and King, who took so much from him – envisions a state opponent which one could hope to shame into honorable action by the superior moral force of principled civil disobedience. But the very hallmark of the present regime is its shamelessness, its utter lack of any sense of honor or principle, its bestial addiction to raw power.

It is pointless – and counterproductive – to simply throw yourself under the wheels of such a monstrous machine in futile spasms of rage and despair. The machine doesn't care. It will gladly chew up your life and move on. For the action of the ordinary individual to have an effect, it must be amplified by a larger social movement. And it is difficult to imagine such a movement arising in America today, in a society atomized by the engines of profiteering, its communities gutted or abandoned by elites seeking greener pastures – and cheaper labor – elsewhere, its citizens isolated from one another, locked in their own bubbles of electronic diversion, and their own struggles to keep their jobs (unprotected by unions, subject to the arbitrary whim of local bosses, or faceless corporate masters, or predatory hedge funds, etc.), hang on to their health insurance (if they've got it), and stay out of the hell created by the bipartisan Bankruptcy Bill for the benefit of the credit card companies.

And despite the deep unpopularity of the regime, there is still a widespread reluctance to recognize its true nature, and what it will require to restore our constitutional republic. And truth to tell, there are a great many people uninterested in doing so. As long as the diversions keep pouring through the latest gadgetry, the monthly paycheck manages to cover the bills, and their own bodies are not subjected to the tyrant's evil, many people are happy to accept the authoritarian system. (This is not unique to Americans, of course; it is a constant in human history.) But even where there is an interest in discerning the reality of our times, and a yearning for change, again there is no broader movement to leverage an individual's dissent into a form large enough to thwart the tyrannical machine. And there is no American Sakharov on the horizon, someone to arise from the very center of the machine to denounce its workings and call for genuine liberty, genuine democracy, genuine economic and social justice.

So whatever we can do, we must do it ourselves. If we have no power or influence, if we cannot take large actions, then we must take small ones. Every word or action raised against the overthrow of the Republic will find an echo somewhere, from one person to another to another to the next -- each isolated, individual voice slowly finding its way into a swelling chorus of dissent.

It might be too late. It might not work. But failure – and much more horror -- is guaranteed if we don't even try.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote – in a context that is growing less dissimilar all the time: -- it is impossible that evil should not come into the world; but take care that it does not enter through you.

"What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret." –Thoreau.
Plenty of food for thought.

Monday, August 4, 2008

So if you torture chimps, they show signs of being tortured

The symptoms found in chimps who've been subject to medical research (in other words tortured) show PTSD symptoms. I can't really say I'm all that surprised. Chimps are after all highly intelligent creatures who are strikingly similar to us humans.

H/t Emo as Fuck.

Some bloggers seem to be on the story, at least

Consider this another footnote to a couple previous posts. Aside from Ten Percent, as of yesterday, I had listed the following outlets who had covered the apparent use of Blackwater mercenaries on a DEA bust at what was a legit medical marijuana dispensary:

rtfa.net, boing boing, and Medical Cannabis: Voices From The Frontlines, Newshoggers, The Agitator, Wub's Ramblings, Re/Creating Tampa, Last Free Voice, Democratic Underground, LibertyForum, Free Democracy, Pandagon, HighBoldtage, and 420 Magazine.

Here are a few more:

D'Alliance, 0DayNews, Ron Paul War Room, vinniefm, AfterDowningStreet, Smoke and Mirrors, Delaware Libertarian, THC - Cannabis - Ministry, qwstnevrythg, Bats Left Throws Right, Alternet, and Care2NewsNetwork.

Those who've taken an interest in the story are a blend of libertarians, leftists, drug legalization advocates of all stripes, and so on. I'd like to see more bloggers take this on and demand some answers about the use of mercenaries on US soil in the name of the eternal war on drugs. If you've been blogging this particular topic, let me know in the comments or via trackback.