Saturday, December 31, 2005


December 31, 2005 -- In 2006, Tom DeLay will pay. And so will Bob Ney, and Mark Lay, and Ken Lay. Maybe by May, some people say.

And when they pay, let it be so. The same for Tom Noe and Texan Ted Poe. And Wally O'Dell and a Miller named Zell and Jodi Rell as well. Oh hell man, along with Ken Mehlman, it wouldn't be daft to jail Bob Taft

Let's hope none of them get off including Jack Abramoff and Michael Chertoff.

May they have a terrible New Year

And may we all turn giddy, at the conviction of Scooter Libby. And wouldn't it be zany to arrest Dick Cheney? And without bail may he be held, that would be Don Rumsfeld.

Adding to the GOP's depressions, would be scandals for Jeff and Pete Sessions. And it would not be a no no, to investigate Mary Bono. At the end of the day, they may say, "Who knew" they'd get John Sununu?

While the fundies are eating their grits, may they read about the sacking of Paul Wolfowitz. And a bastard named Hastert and the right-wing dodo, Sam Alito.

FDR used to grind away at "Martin, Barton, and Fish," the GOP scoundrels of their day. Today you'd be no meanie to attack "Foxx, Franks, and Feeney."

As for Bill O'Reilly, the lush, may his ratings tumble, ditto for Rush. And may the sun finally set on a nit named Mitt and a suit named Newt.

And how does this rub ya? The impeachment of Dubya. May his fortunes ebb along with those of Jeb. May the House of Bush collapse in debris al fresco thus joining the House of Ceausescu.

And God willing, with the trial of Jeffrey Skilling, the Bush slush fund will be exposed and swallow up Karl Rove. Right into the crap hole, along with Mike Crapo.

And may 06 be dismal for the neocon stooges, the abysmal Ahmad Chalabi, Reza Pahlavi, and George Pataki. Let them all decline, along with Mike DeWine. And there would be no affront in kicking out Roy and Matt Blunt.

In the Year of the Dog may Condi Rice be afflicted with the GOP's political lice -- the whole batch -- from Orrin Hatch to John Bolton's mustache. Even Ted Stevens. Did I mention John Ensign?

And for the sanatorium, how about Rick Santorum? And would it not be stunning to commit Jim Bunning? After a while, maybe Jon Kyl.

After a movie called Brokeback let it be curtains for a hate merchant called Brownback, and John Cornyn and B-1 Bob Dornan. And the GOP won't be merry when they finally find out about Rick Perry and not so holy over Mark Foley. The fundie criers will groan louder about David Dreier and become quite abashed about Victor Ashe.

Let California finally forsake its mistake, the Nazi prevaricator Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wouldn't it be superb, if the GOP had to bring back Mike Curb? And Maryland will grow sick of Bob Ehrlich and there will be no safe harbor for Mississippi's Haley Barbour.

In November, if we could, let's dump Virgil Goode and Ray LaHood, Rick Renzi and in two years, Mike Enzi. It would not be a mistake to toss out Jeff Flake and Errnie Istook who just might be a crook.

This time next year, let us welcome to town a brand new sound. One that is so liberal the neocons will spit meaningless drivel and quickly shrivel.

Happy 06.

Statement of the Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima.

Statement of the Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima.

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful
A memorandum from Nineveh Province Dignitaries, Sheikhs and Uleima to:

General Secretary of the United Nations
General Secretary of the League of Arab Nations
General Secretary of the Organisation of Islamic States
Kings and Presidents of the Arab and Islamic States
All Humanitarian and Human Rights Organisations

In the light of the difficult circumstance that our country and people in general and the Province of Nineveh in particular are going through, a number of dignitaries and tribal chiefs from the Nineveh Province have met to discuss the tragic condition of the people of the Province under the shadow of the deficiency and absence of legislative and executive authorities and their security and military authorities which have changed to become tools for the oppression of the people of the Province and to add further to their misery.
After discussions, it was decided to raise the following memorandum in the hope it may find some response to this call to protect this Arabic Islamic city and to assist our people in the Province of Nineveh.

We demand an International Committee of Enquiry in addition to an Iraqi committee formed by representatives of Uleima, Sheikhs and Notables drawn from central and southern Iraq to investigate the crimes committed by the American occupation forces assisted by members of the Interior Special Forces and National Guard. We especially point to the sectarian crimes and the rape of Iraqi women which count as grave precedent in Iraq. The Iraqi Government is partner to all of these crimes in the absence of the media and in particular the killing and kidnapping of journalists by mercenaries of the occupation after terrorising and excluding satellite stations and Arabic and International media preventing the coverage of what is going on to enable the slaughter of Iraqi people without witnesses.

As we lay before the international public opinion and international human rights organisations the truth of what is happening in Tel Afar of the extreme use of force and the use of internationally forbidden weapons of poison gases, cluster, microwave and napalm bombs, we demand autopsies be carried out on the corpses of our sons who fell in the barbaric aggression by international medical bodies to verify the inhuman practices carried out by the American forces of occupation and to expose the stooge militias that participated in the massacre of Tel Afar.

We warn as responsible people of the dangers of the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Tel Afar and the left bank of the city of Mosul and surrounding villages carried out by Beshmarga militias of the Kurdish parties and Badir Brigade “which are acting as regular forces of the National Guard” aided by the silence of the government where in particular the homes of the Sunna in the city of Tel Afar are destroyed after the men are arrested and women and children are forcibly evicted under threat of death and rape.

We demand an end to the organised campaign of arrest against the Sunna. About fifty to a hundred sons, sheikhs and teachers of the Province are arrested only to be released days later after the payment of bribes which exposes how low the perpetrators are and their aim of breaking the morale of the people of the Province.

We demand the trial of the ministers of defence and interior for what they have caused to our people in Tel Afar and Mosul as a result of crimes rejected by human conscience. We also hold the government responsible for the exterminations and bloody butchery which took place in the city of Tel Afar and the extreme cruelty meted out to Sunna civilians both Arab and Turcoman.

We also demand the removal of the Governor of Nineveh Duraid Kashmoola who was too weak to do anything to assist the people of the Province and for keeping silent about all the assassinations and arrests carried out the Kurdish gangs and the Forces of Badir against the sons and notables of the Province. We also site his silence and failure to put a stop to Kurdish expansion which has encompassed all the villages of the Province. Kurdish gangs have abrogated the right to the control of all towns and villages surrounding Mosul where they treat all non Arabs even though they are not Kurdish such as Yezidis, Assyrians and Shabak, as Kurds by force. They also appointed party functionaries over such villages, took down the Iraqi flags and raised Kurdish flags instead.

Kurdish militias have in fact occupied the left bank of the city of Mosul itself and took down the Iraqi flags then raised Kurdish flags instead. The Governor has not stirred because the Province is lead by the Kurdish deputy Governor Khisro Kolani. He is the very person responsible for leading all of the extermination and assassination operations against the Uleima, the sons of the Province, its sheikhs and teachers. All of the people of Mosul know that he is the person responsible for the assassination of the previous Governor Dr. Osama Yousif Kashmoola because he made a stand against the Kurdish tide.

While we warn of the gravity of the security situation in the Province in general and Tel Afar in particular we lay the responsibility for the latest sectarian escalation upon the party militias working as regular forces such as the National Guard as represented by the wolf and thunder brigades. In addition to arbitrary arrests, inhuman treatment, violation of residents’ rights and the theft of their belongings they shout upon entering towns in the Province “The army of AlHusain is here to break the noses of the Sunnis”. This is a simple indicator of the sectarianism and hatred of such groups which was not familiar to either Sunni or Shia Iraqis and is a further clear indicator of the treachery of the parties that entered from beyond the borders of the Iraqi people.

We demand the withdrawal of all militias and all armed manifestations from the city of Mosul where these militias have established check points and distributed weapons to young militia men in an effort to terrorise the residents of Mosul. They have cut off roads arbitrarily while the Governor does nothing; in fact he is the last to know. They have hoisted Kurdish flags over buildings in order to establish a de facto state as if we live in a country that is not Iraq. Every one knows that Mosul (despite our belief that all Iraqi cities are for all Iraqis) is an Arab city from old while the Kurdish residents in the left bank are those who migrated in last few years under pressure of difficult circumstances encountered in their areas. The people of Mosul opened their arms to their brothers and embraced them not to turn their city Kurdish because they believed in the unity of this country. This is in sharp contrast with the banning of Iraqi Arabs from owning, building or investing in the northern areas. In addition there is a campaign of harassment to non Kurdish travellers to the north of Iraq.

We protest at the news blackout and total silence practiced by international organisations and human rights organisations towards what is taking place in Tel Afar and Mosul.

We protest at the news blackout and total silence practiced by Arab satellite stations towards what happened and is happening in Tel Afar and Mosul.

We protest the Arab, Islamic and International silence towards the use of weapons of mass destruction against our people in Tel Afar and demand an International Committee of Enquiry similar to the one investigating the death of Al-Hariri or is the blood of the people of Iraq in Tel Afar does not warrant investigating?

With God’s Peace and Blessings

The Council of Nineveh Province Notables, Sheikhs and Uleima.

Mosul 22/12/2005

Open Letter From an Iraqi to George W. Bush

Open Letter From an Iraqi

I recently received this letter from an Iraqi friend who lives in Baghdad. It is written as an open letter to Mr. Bush. -DJ

While there is deep concern about the possibility of civil war, the common talk between all groups now in Iraq is the poor infrastructure, poor electricity, deficiency of fuels, bad drinking water, poor health services, poor education and extensive unemployment.

Unemployment doesn't mean that young men don’t have jobs, because you can hardly find a young man who sits in his house. Instead, they will sell cigarettes, for example, or they work as taxi drivers or in the weapons trade, etc. This kind of way of living will not improve Iraq.

I want to ask Mr. Bush…do you think that Iran is a democratic country? With freedom and liberty? Do you?

If your answer is yes, then we can understand what is going in our country.

But if your answer is no, then let me ask you again…are you insane? (pardon me)

Because now you have let those people and their followers have the power and drag us 100’s of years backwards.

The very same who want to cut the body of Iraq into pieces so that they can rule their way, or should I say the Iranian way? It’s the same.

Well Mr. Bush, I shall tell you that your troops invaded Iraq in three weeks. But that was easy for you because many Iraqis, including myself believed you. Let’s say that we had a dream. We believed that you are going to take us to the real freedom.

And as I am writing a vision flashed in my mind, drawing back these nice, hopeful dreams. I miss that dream I had from when I saw first an American soldier with my eyes, and knew that Saddam’s era; war era, sanctions era and suffering era had gone.

In this moment, now I wish that your era had not come. Because of you, we have witnessed horrible days and the future is a gloomy one.

Mr Bush, be acknowledged that the Iraqi police and Iraqi army are not dealing or treating Iraqi citizens as citizens should be dealt with. They humiliate them, insult them with bad words and aim their guns toward people without a reason. They have limited everything in our lives; they have limited our roads, they have limited our freedom to go on the streets after 8 pm, they have limited our feeling of security, they have limited our hopes, our dreams and our social life.

Do you know that the government you installed has increased fuel prices five fold? It has failed to provide the minimum power to people and failed to supply water (Even if not good to drink. In addition, water is not available for the last days in Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq).

Mr. Bush, you must be proud of your new icon of democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Let me assure you that today there is no one in the world who wants to be in your icon of democracy, and not one country would want to be like Iraq. You know why? Because you have turned our lives into a seemingly endless series of crises and our suffering is day and night.

Finally, nothing seems positive now after the fraudulent ballots of the last elections. After all, the biggest winner is Iran and the Kurds. So you might go and sleep well tonight.


An Iraqi citizen who believes in freedom and democracy, and who is craving them.

Posted by Dahr_Jamail at December 31, 2005 05:46 PM

What's Ahead in 2006 on the Political Action Front?

It won't be a very happy New Year for working people in 2006 . . . at least until November.

For working people, the coming year promises to be loaded with danger on the political action front. Many political battles remain unfinished from 2005, with President Bush and his Republican Congressional majority determined to continue their anti-worker, pro-business course across the board. Ironically, the scale of the Bush attacks, combined with his out-of-control federal spending and numerous festering corruption scandals, have unsettled even some of the most solid Bush supporters who now worry about possible damage at the ballot box. And, once again, Congressional Democrats will be tested. Will Democrats close ranks and defend working people? Or will they continue to produce only scattered and haphazard resistance to the Bush attacks? How these political battles -- or lack of battles -- impact the critical November 2006 Congressional elections will be answered over the coming 10 months.

The Congressional Forecast for 2006

Led by President Bush, Congressional Republicans will resume their attacks on working people as soon as Congress returns to Washington, D.C. in late January. Legislation to increase spending for the Iraq and Afghan wars and occupations -- as well as to expand the record-breaking costs of our national "defense" -- will be placed before Congress yet again. Republicans will push to slash funding for all non-military programs in order to subsidize the growing military machine.

Domestic spending for health care, Amtrak, aid to education, student loans, Head Start, food stamps, welfare, and practically every other non-military program will be assaulted. Tens of billions more federal dollars will be funneled into completely bogus "defense" schemes and a growing number of corrupt "homeland security" boondoggles. The federal deficit will continue to gallop upwards into record-breaking territory, and Republican lawmakers will push repeatedly to reduce taxes even further on business and the wealthy. Our Social Security system will be spared a full-bore attack by Bush, however, as a consequence of the recent massive and negative reaction by the public to Bush's privatization initiative. Instead, Congressional Republicans will expand their efforts to dismantle the national private-sector pension system, working hand-in-hand with the corporations who are eager to junk this critical retirement benefit for millions of working people.

Besieged manufacturing workers will find no relief forthcoming from the Bush White House or Congressional Republicans in the coming legislative session. Federal trade and tax policies will be refined further to apply even greater pressure on factory workers struggling to compete with corporate sweatshop operations overseas. Needless to say, the Bush Republican majority will work feverishly during 2006 to derail any attempts to deal with our national health care crisis. They will also block all attempts to stop plant closings, increase the minimum wage, fix our nation's broken labor laws, improve workplace health and safety, punish corporate lawbreaking, investigate energy price gouging, or address the falling wages and living standards of tens of millions of working people.

The State Legislative Forecast for 2006

The fiscal situation has improved in most states, in some regions dramatically. The result will be vigorous attempts by Republicans to slash state taxes on business and the rich -- yet again. As in the past, if these maneuvers are successful, they will serve to rob ordinary taxpayers and public employees alike of any benefit from the improved fiscal situation. Successive waves of plant closings and corporate layoffs continue to erode state and local tax bases, with lawmakers from both parties seemingly oblivious to this deepening crisis. Consideration of corrupt "economic development" schemes -- in most instances nothing more than corporate welfare for low-wage companies such as Wal-Mart -- will again become political battles in practically every state capitol in 2006.

Rick Wolff, "US Pensions: Capitalist Disaster" (19 December 2005); Michael Perelman, "The Social Meaning of Pensions" (23 December 2005) ; Andy Coates, "Note to Health Care Reform Activists: Public Employee Health Benefits to Evaporate" (25 December 2005); Jon Flanders, "What I Learned from the NYC Transit Strike" (29 December 2005)
Various privatization attacks will also escalate during the coming year, as corporations work hand in hand with each other to win control of entire public-sector agencies as opposed to individual functions or components. This new "bundling" phenomenon increases both the scale of the risks to taxpayers and public-sector workforces alike. The most ominous of all the attacks looming at the state level, however, are Republican-led schemes to destroy both the retirement and health care benefits of public-sector workers and retirees. With the private-sector destruction well underway, Republican forces have now turned their sights on the public-sector counterpart. Schemes to reduce benefits, eliminate some benefits for new hires, or end coverages altogether will be pushed as the state legislative sessions open. These attacks will be a mirror image of those falling on workers in the private sector. A massive anti-public employee propaganda blitz is likely at the state level -- with the goal of softening up lawmakers by turning public opinion against public-sector workforces. Republican and corporate PR campaigns will paint public employees who resist attacks on their pensions and health benefits as "greedy," "overpaid," and "lazy" -- the cause of all governmental problems.

Once again, the success of these many attacks will in most states depend on the degree of resistance provided by elected Democrats. And, with Democratic Party structures in decay and disarray in a large number of states, the likelihood of coordinated resistance to the corporate offensive will depend in large measure on how vigorous Democratic lawmakers are pushed by working people and organized labor to hold the line.

Outlook for the November 2006 Elections

These and other national, state, and local political battles will unfold over the coming year, in the run-up to Election Day, November 7th, 2006. In addition to national Congressional and some Senate elections, many states will be holding contests for state office. While there is little reason to believe that the Democratic Party will suddenly discover a widespread desire to provide a consistent opposition to the big business/Bush/Republican attack, gains for Democrats will be possible. The probability of these gains, however, will depend in large measure on the missteps of the Bush Administration as well as the general status of the economy and the situation in Iraq come November.

Recent history has shown that the Bush White House and national Republican Party operatives are more than willing to lie, smear, and concoct governmental and military situations that work to their political advantage. Again, Democrats have proven poorly equipped to deal with this aspect of Republican election tactics. Individual Republican Governors and lawmakers -- best illustrated by the example of Governor Schwarzenegger in California -- who overreach or engage in poorly orchestrated and angry campaigns against public employees and Democrats, however, are vulnerable to voter backlash in November.

Working people in general -- and the labor movement in particular -- will play a key role in the November election battles, with massive campaigns of voter registration, education, and mobilization on the drawing board for 2006. Increased voter turnout -- above and beyond recent electoral experiences -- by those opposing the Republican machine is the key to any success by Democrats. There also exists some evidence that the most loyal supporters of the Republican Party at the ballot box -- namely fundamentalist Christian "values" voters -- are unsure of their continued unconditional loyalty to the Republican record of outlandish corruption and reckless fiscal behavior.

It's going to be another interesting year on the political action front, to say the least. Here's one good way to follow political action developments and personalities at both the national and state level: visit the web site of Project Vote Smart at

Chris Townsend is the Political Action Director of the United Electrical Workers Union (UE) in Washington, D.C.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Bolivia's Morales Slashes Politician's Wages by 50% -Hurrah!

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales intends to cut his wage and that of ministers, deputy ministers and lawmakers by 50 percent, down to the equivalent of $1,125, as part of actions to change the economic neoliberal model prevailing in the nation.

"This is a democratic Revolution and we will respond from the government because we must share the economic burden among all of us," Morales told members of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) insisting that the country's richness should be shared among all.

If only this guy could have run in the U.S. Presidential election!

Morales won the presidential election on Dec. 18 and will be inaugurated on Jan. 22. The first ever politician of indigenous origin elected to president in Bolivia has a daunting task ahead of him in governing South America´s poorest country despite having large oil and gas reserves, which have been exploited by foreign corporations.

According to his politician's salaries proposal, the montly presidential salary will be the equivalent of $1,875 USD and that of legislators will be $1,125 USD. The funds saved as a result will be used to hire more staff in the fields of education and health care.

Morales said he will void at least some contracts held by foreign companies "looting'' the poor Andean nation's natural resources.

The Indian former coca farmer said he will not confiscate refineries or infrastructure owned by multinational corporations. Instead, his government would renegotiate contracts so that the companies are partners, but not owners, in developing Bolivia's resources.

"We will nationalize (Bolivia's) natural resources,'' Morales said at a news conference Tuesday in La Paz. "Many of these contracts signed by various governments are illegal and unconstitutional. It is not possible that our natural resources continue to be looted, exploited illegally, and as the lawyers say, these contracts are legally void and must be adjusted,'' Morales said.

Bolivia's proven and potential reserves total 48.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, second only to Venezuela in South America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration.

Morales will be supported externally by Brazil -- the biggest importer of Bolivia's gas -- and Venezuela. The United States will probably try to stay on the sidelines, fearful that any measures to curb Morales will backfire into greater support for him, as they did in 2002 when Washington threatened to withdraw aid if Morales was elected, a threat that was not repeated this time around.

Morales' success is also likely to embolden similar movements in the other Andean states -- Ecuador and Peru -- leaving Washington with the prospect that Colombia will remain its only reliable ally on the continent. Washington's loss is Brasilia's gain.

Naturally, the Miani Herald could not resist an opinion piece, which stated:
Morales will fail, of course, just the way Perón, Velasco Alvarado and the Sandinistas failed, and as Chávez, Castro and the rest of the indefatigable revolutionary mob, to the left and right of the ideological spectrum, will fail. The revolutionaries always wind up in a major disaster because the political premise from which they start is wrong.
If that premise is to halt the exploitation of the people and resources of South America for the benefit of international capita, then Morales will certainly not fail the people of Bolivia.

Morales' rise from an impoverished childhood, through his leadership of Bolivia's coca growers, to his leadership of a broad social movement -- composed of indigenous communities, labor unions, coca growers and the urban poor -- reflects the progressive alienation of the sectors of Bolivia's population that were disadvantaged by neoliberal policies.

In 2003, the International Monetary Fund, which promotes the neoliberal agenda, reported a fall in Bolivia's per capita income and a rise in unemployment, leaving 63 percent of the population below the poverty line and more than 50 percent living on less than one dollar a day.

Mr. Morales’ transition team preparing to take office advanced that the incoming president plans to symbolically repeal the decree which two decades opened the way for the privatization of Bolivia’s government owned companies.

However Mr. Carlos Villegas, Morales main financial advisor and future Economy minister said the decision will "not have retroactive effects", but will represent a strong symbolic effect for the future "impeding the looting of Bolivia's natural resources".

Former South African president Nelson Mandela, Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Argentine picketers and other social movement leaders from the continent figure in the guest list for the taking office ceremony of president Evo Morales next January 22.

Mr. Morales has told caretaker president Eduardo Rodriguez that besides the presidents from Mercosur members and other neighbouring countries, the ceremony must include "social" leaders such as representatives from the Brazilian peasants "Landless movement", the Council of Indian nations or Pachakuti from Ecuador and the Venezuelan Bolivarian Movement.

Ex-Envoy Publishes Secret UK Torture Docs AND unleashes blog-based attack on UK's torture denials

"At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services."

An extract from the classified communications between former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray --now published contrary to Britain's Official Secrets Act by Murray on his website.

"They turned up at my door with broken teeth and burns from torture. Some would spend the night in my home. On one occasion the grandson of a dissident I had met was murdered within hours of my speaking to his grandfather. They left his body on the doorstep. His hands and knees had been smashed with a hammer. It was a warning not to speak to me," he said. "Very little can prepare you for the brutality and viciousness of the Karimov regime."

Leaked documents the UK Government are trying to block under Secrets Act - published here

Leaked documents the UK Government are trying to block under Secrets Act - published here

It's not the al-Jazeera Memo, but these are some more documents that the UK Government are trying to suppress with the threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. They detail our use of intelligence extracted by torture, and legal advice the Foreign Office received on the subject, and we need to get them out there as soon as possible before the government act.

See also Our Presidents New Best Friend Boils People Alive

US Military and Clandestine Operations in Foreign Countries - 1798-Present

US Interventions

Note: This list does not pretend to be definitive or absolutely complete. Nor does it seek to explain or interpret the interventions. Information and interpretation on selected interventions will be later included as links. Note that US operations in World Wars I and II have been excluded.
  • 1798-1800 France Undeclared naval war against France, marines land in Puerto Plata.
  • 1801-1805 Tripoli War with Tripoli (Libya), called "First Barbary War".
  • 1806 Spanish Mexico Military force enters Spanish territory in headwaters of the Rio Grande.
  • 1806-1810 Spanish and French in Caribbean US naval vessels attack French and Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.
  • 1810 Spanish West Florida Troops invade and seize Western Florida, a Spanish possession.
  • 1812 Spanish East Florida Troops seize Amelia Island and adjacent territories.
  • 1812 Britain War of 1812, includes naval and land operations.
  • 1813 Marquesas Island Forces seize Nukahiva and establish first US naval base in the Pacific.
  • 1814 Spanish (East Florida) Troops seize Pensacola in Spanish East Florida.
  • 1814-1825 French, British and Spanish in Caribbean US naval squadron engages French, British and Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.
  • 1815 Algiers and Tripoli US naval fleet under Captain Stephen Decatur wages "Second Barbary War" in North Africa.
  • 1816-1819 Spanish East Florida Troops attack and seize Nicholls' Fort, Amelia Island and other strategic locations. Spain eventually cedes East Florida to the US.
  • 1822-1825 Spanish Cuba and Puerto Rico Marines land in numerous cities in the Spanish island of Cuba and also in Spanish Puerto Rico.
  • 1827 Greece Marines invade the Greek islands of Argentiere, Miconi and Andross.
  • 1831 Falkland/Malvinas Islands US naval squadrons aggress the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

Coalitions Reject Election Results by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

BAGHDAD, Dec 30 (IPS) - Many Iraqis are demanding a new poll after more than 1,500 cases of election fraud and forgery were reported in the Dec. 15 elections, at least 30 of them "extremely serious".

More Torture Memos

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is defying a gag-order and publishing torture memos on his blog relating to the coordination between the Uzbek, British, and American governments. As Kos says, it’s brutal :
Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.

Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years.

Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid – more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov’s vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?
. . .
The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;
"The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights." While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.

On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless – we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.
Here’s what that partnership looks like in action :

At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family’s links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do.
This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services. And this is the standard that we’re living under with a President who looks the other way while children are being tortured.

To the fools out there who routinely praise the President for having the "moral clarity" to call terrorists evil, how can you reconcile that with the chummy relationship he's made with tyrants? The lesser of two evils argument doesn’t really work when you chide anyone whose view of fighting terrorism is more nuanced than "smoke them out of their holes" and you verbally fellate the President for being "right on the only issue that matters". You're either in favor of moral relativism or you're not.

Of course, coming up with a worldview that's logically consistent has it's troubles, since it would naturally lead to having an open, honest debate about whether or not the United States should be torturing people. Which is why the Administration (and their sycophantic toadies) ignore the substance of the seemingly-neverending stream of torture memos in the hopes of running out the clock (ie. news cycle) with their vehement denials to misstated questioning.

But to take things back to square one, it should be repeated again and again that this would all stop if the President wanted it to. With a phonecall to the Uzbek government, he could threated to eliminate foreign aid until human rights abuses ceased. With a stroke of his pen, he could fire Donald Rumsfeld and replace him with a Defense Secretary serious about curbing detainee abuse. Working with Congressional leaders, he could cooperate with stymied investigations into torture. For the most powerful man in the world, the torture of innocent people could be eliminated tomorrow if he cared enough.

Why he hasn't done any of these things leads us back to the eternal debate about the presidency of George W. Bush. Is he so isolated from bad news that he has no idea about the abuses that are happening on his watch? Is he a callous monster who thinks the torture of innocents is justified by the "greater good" of whatever the hell he's trying to accomplish? Or is it a combination of the two? Either way, I don't know how much longer we can afford to have the reputation of the United States tarnished while we ponder the endless "idiot or asshole?"

MORE ON FIRSTFRUITS -- the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC)

Firstfruits was a database that contained both the articles and the transcripts of telephone and other communications of particular Washington journalists known to report on sensitive U.S. intelligence activities, particularly those involving NSA. According to NSA sources, the targeted journalists included author James Bamford, the New York Times' James Risen, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the Washington Times' Bill Gertz, UPI's John C. K. Daly, and this editor [Wayne Madsen], who has written about NSA for The Village Voice, CAQ, Intelligence Online, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

December 30, 2005 -- More on Firstfruits. The organization partly involved in directing the National Security Agency program to collect intelligence on journalists -- Firstfruits -- is the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC), a component of the National Intelligence Council. The last reported chairman of the inter-intelligence agency group was Dr. Larry Gershwin, the CIA's adviser on science and technology matters, a former national intelligence officer for strategic programs, and one of the primary promoters of the Iraqi disinformation con man and alcoholic who was code named "Curveball." Gershwin was also in charge of the biological weapons portfolio at the National Intelligence Council where he worked closely with John Bolton and the CIA's Alan Foley -- director of the CIA's Office of Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) -- and Frederick Fleitz -- who Foley sent from WINPAC to work in Bolton's State Department office -- in helping to cook Iraqi WMD "intelligence" on behalf of Vice President Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby. In addition to surveilling journalists who were writing about operations at NSA, Firstfruits particularly targeted State Department and CIA insiders who were leaking information about the "cooking" of pre-war WMD intelligence to particular journalists, including those at the New York Times, Washington Post, and CBS 60 Minutes.

The vice chairman of the FDDC, James B. Bruce, wrote an article in Studies in Intelligence in 2003, "This committee represents an inter agency effort to understand how foreign adversaries learn about, then try to defeat, our secret intelligence collection activities." In a speech to the Institute of World Politics, Bruce, a CIA veteran was also quoted as saying, "We've got to do whatever it takes -- if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalists' homes -- to stop these leaks." He also urged, "stiff new penalties to crack down on leaks, including prosecutions of journalists that publish classified information." The FDDC appears to be a follow-on to the old Director of Central Intelligence's Unauthorized Disclosure Analysis Center (UDAC).

NSA eavesdropping on journalists and their sources is sending chills throughout Washington, DC and beyond.

Meanwhile, WMR's disclosures about Firstfruits have set off a crisis in the intelligence community and in various media outlets. Journalists who have contacted WMR since the revelation of the Firstfruits story are fearful that their conversations and e-mail with various intelligence sources have been totally compromised and that they have been placed under surveillance that includes the use of physical tails. Intelligence sources who are current and former intelligence agency employees also report that they suspect their communications with journalists and other parties have been surveilled by technical means.

Justice Department is opening up a criminal investigation of the leak of classified NSA information about President Bush's illegal wiretapping

The Alberto Gonzales Justice Department is opening up a criminal investigation of the leak of classified NSA information about President Bush's illegal wiretapping operations directed against U.S. citizens. The investigation may force journalists, including the two New York Times reporters who broke the domestic surveillance story -- James Risen and Eric Lichtblau -- to testify before a grand jury and identify their sources within the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

The Justice Department investigation may lead to a full frontal assault on the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This editor goes on the record by stating that under no circumstance will he testify before any grand jury about sources regarding NSA or other intelligence agencies.

Monitoring the US Government-Corporate Security State - Countermeasures for US & Global Citizens

December 30, 2005
Countermeasures for US & Global Citizens
Monitoring the US Government-Corporate Security State

by John Stanton

Whew! Life is imitating art. President Bush stars as Sgt. Bob Barnes, the maniacal soldier in Oliver Stone's Platoon, who proclaims that he "is reality". Vice President Cheney is Dr. Phibes as portrayed by Vincent Price in the movie classic, The Abominable Doctor Phibes. You want torture? Talk to Dr. Phibes.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld brings to life Colonel Walt Kurtz, the rogue US Army soldier from Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. American society is modeled on Starship Troopers' militarized society at war with the insects from another galaxy. A great scene in Troopers is a segment which shows children stamping out bugs with glee as the narrator says, "Support the war effort. Do your part to kill the bug!"

Welcome to the USA

Is anyone really surprised that the USA now openly advocates torture, spying on its own citizens, or equates dissent with aiding and abetting the "brutal killers" as Bush describes them. Ummm, should US homegrown serial killers be designated enemy combatants? Who could argue with a clear conscience that the US didn't have 911 coming. Civilians are innocent, the American fundamentalists say. Oh me, oh my, the victimized USA and so much innocence lost on that day. That sentimental dream went out the window long ago with the Allied bombing of Dresden in WWII and the fire-bombing and subsequent use of nuclear weapons against Japan. Add Rwanda and Darfur to that and, right at home, add decades of US government approved racial segregation, plus the US government's response to Katrina and, for that matter, 911. Useless commissions, staged congressional hearings, senseless senses of congress, a presidential press conference. All by formula, of course. What's the point? Nothing changes.The USA is no victim or innocent bystander in the world's machinations. Each and every US citizen is responsible for the actions of its leaders--such as they are. If the American people want a militarized state, then so be it. Have some brass and go for it. If they want to torture, then they should have the guts to stick a knife in the throat of a living human being and watch'em gurgle and die. The NO TORTURE amendment of John McCain is a joke. The US government is a government by and for loopholes. It'll go on as long as the USA exists.

Of Mice and Evil Doers

Why limit the game to waterboarding or electric shock? Use the Spanish Inquisition era Mouse Trap. Put a bunch of mice into an open metal container and then secure it and them on the abdomen of the evil doer/dissenter. Slowly apply heat to the metal. Mice burrow when they can't run. Use your imagination. The "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." What nonsense! Special operators are brave, some journalists and citizens are brave, fire fighters and first responders are brave, but most Americans are from the Land of the Cowardly.The overthrown regimes, the assassinations, the support for murderous regimes, silencing dissidents, eliminating politicians and sanctioning the use of torture and murder of civilians the world over is the standard mode of operations. The leaders of the USA work hard to ensure that they are not charged with war crimes or plain old violation of US law--such as it is. And the American people tolerate it.

At the pace the USA is pissing off the rest of the world, expect more 911's.We have to, in all seriousness, thank Bush and his crew for speaking bluntly about what has been known for so long by so few, but never really exposed. Yes, Americans, your leaders authorize torture, domestic spying, and are adept at creating threats that lead to wars. After all, it's good for business and anyway, how would "you", White Collar Proletariat, know what it takes to keep the gas pumps in operation or what threats are out there? Since most Americans are, as President Nixon once said, "children", they'll do what they are told.And the President's toys are the US military. There are 18,000 warfighters, those Americans killed, maimed, and mentally demolished in the ongoing Iraq War. And for what? The Shia and Kurds have their day in the historic election in Iraq that puts orthodox Islam in charge and creates a Kurdish state. Good for them. Now the USA cries foul over the election as if it has any democratic authority to do so. Protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States is the military's gig. Yet the high flying generals seem to want to protect individual players rather than the country.

Exceeding the Speed Limit Becomes Terrorism

For a time, US citizens were spared the ruthlessness of the USA's actions abroad primarily because the government and its corporate partners could control the images, the stories, the facts from reaching Americans. Recognizing they've lost that ability, the PATRIOT ACT is a sort of government-corporate last ditch effort to retain control over information flows. Now the security police can whip up a file on you containing credit ratings, health records, spending patterns, reading preferences, travel destinations and even sexual preferences. All you have to do to get that honor is to get on a watch list by asking a hypothetical question like this, Is there any other way to change the US government-corporate system other than by overthrowing it?

Perhaps one day an innovative lawyer will argue that elements of the US government, and its contractors, are engaging in terrorist activity contrary to the PATRIOT ACT. Now wouldn't that be interesting.Every state in the union has its own version of the PATRIOT ACT and has empowered their own state and local law enforcement departments with "the tools to fight the terror." The day is not far off when speeding will be a terrorist act because it endangers other drivers, pedestrians, and national security, the latter due to the crime of excess fuel usage that could've been used in the War on those insect-like evil doers."Forget about it", as Donnie Brasco from the movie of the same name would say. The New York Times or Washington Post report on the NSA/Pentagon's extensive domestic spy network is shocking? And Congress? With its unwillingness to perform its oversight function, departments like Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice are too big to be controlled, too powerful to be stopped from the routine violations of the US Constitution/Bill of Rights. Think about it: the US Congress has become a nuisance to the Presidency and its bureaucracy, and the judicial system. That is a fact. So just Forget About It!


The first and most important countermeasure is to get off your lazy behind and become a responsible US citizen. Instead of being fed the news, hunt it down yourself. Start with foreign newspaper websites, other country news agencies and get used to the images of death and destruction. One of the best data resources is the US government's own data. The CIA World Factbook is an excellent tool. They pull no punches on the weaknesses of each country including the USA. Want to know how many hydrophonic devices are monitoring water conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and the nation's rivers? Sick of the Weather Channel? Go to and do the work yourself. Your taxes paid for it. Why let some actor feed you the weather story on TV when you can get a lot more info from those who really know about what storm is coming your way.

Want to know your odds about getting away with murder? Visit the Justice Department's website and look for statistics on homicides cleared. You'll be surprised that the odds are pretty good on the criminal side of the equation. Check out US military unit websites like Camp Bondsteel, or the dynamite special operators' website at Hurlburt Air Force Base in Florida. Visit Stars and Stripes. If it's military matters that interest you, there are plenty of bits and pieces of information that can help you paint a picture of what the civilian policy makers are up to. The US military is their tool.Visit trade association web sites.

The US government security masters don't want anyone to know where critical infrastructure is located. No problem. If you want to know where all the nuclear power plants in the USA are--and who owns them, visit the Nuclear Energy Institute at and click on Nuclear Data. While there, visit the whole site. It's very well done. And what about oil and gas pipeline maps? Noproblem. Visit Duke Energy at and click on the Interactive Asset Map. Many energy companies provide asset maps as do their trade groups. If you've got cash, you can access digital maps that detail all the pipelines, hydroelectric plants and dams in the USA.There are dozens of superb dataminers running websites that are invaluable in the effort to figure out what the US government-corporate enterprise is up to. They are the 21st Century equivalent of the American Colonist's Committees of Correspondence. There are far too many to list here but three are simply indispensable. Want to know how a member of congress is likely to vote or the stock portfolio they have? Visit and look at the congressperson's campaign contributions and stock holdings.

Research yields some interesting results. Want to know when and where US government-corporate groups are meeting to set policy? Visit and check out the Federal Register postings.Want to know if the media and the two party system is promoting a powerful individual as the voice of America? Take Brent Scowcroft, for example, the American Turkish Council's Board Chair (another site to visit to figure out why the US has so much invested in He's on the good side of the dark side, if there is such a thing in Star Wars. As recently reported, Scowcroft assailed the US Congress for debating the Armenian Genocide because it's bad for business which, as it happens, is national security (meanwhile the Turkish government is prosecuting its top novelist for alluding to the Armenian Genocide--so much for democracy there). Ole Brent is portrayed as such a caring fellow by the media, yet it turns out that Mr. Nice Guy was complicit with Henry Kissinger, et al, in providing support to the Indonesian government during the invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975-1999. Thanks to the National Security Archive at, the world knows that Scowcroft is as ruthless as they come.

If you really want to know about national security, join a defense association like the National Defense Industrial Association ( Each year they sponsor a special operations/low intensity conflict (SO/LIC) conference, exhibition and awards dinner. Embassy officials (Intel types), DOD officials, media members and active duty US/Foreign military and their contractors show up to give the attendees the latest on SO/LIC matters. It's a most excellent production by the NDIA staff who run the event. There are dozens of presentations dealing with civil-military relations, psyops, tactics, etc. Conference proceedings can be had right off the Net. What can't be had. though, though is the happy hour off-the-record (OTR) conversations in the hotel lounge or the exhibition hall. The NDIA awards dinner features commendations read aloud for active special operators for their "classified" activity all over the world (well deserved, they should be recognized). The certificate presentations sometimes tip the hat as to where the operations have taken place.

Want to know about counterinsurgency technology? Go to The folks at the Technical Support Working Group hate publicity and despise those who question the US government-corporate rule of law, but they are to be respected for fielding technologies that help save the lives of the warfighters who are being sacrificed for the delusional schemes of the governing apparatus. There are dozens of defense related associations in the DC Metro area and many have chapters nationwide and overseas--among them are: NDIA, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), Association of the United States Army (AUSA), The Navy League, Old Crows, Association of Former Intelligence Officials (AFIO), and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Association (AUVA). They all perform studies and reports that are available on the Net or for free or a small fee.Most have monthly publications that exclude politics providing just nuts and bolts commentary on the tradecraft. The dirty little secret about the mainstream press is that they comb through the trade publications to get their next story on US military policy or technology. They know that the trade associations tell Congress what to think and often house former government officials or future ones.The associations have a lot of clout and insider information.

Don't Just Sit in Front of the CRT

Good, solid information is to be had frequenting pubs near the agency/issue you are exploring. For defense/Intel purposes, pubs near military-Intel sites are the home of raucous debate coming from greybeard warfighters to those of the present day. Respect doesn't come easy but once earned, the information flow is grand. It's all strictly OTR [off-the-record] and, if you're partial to friendly argument and good cheer--and sometimes heart wrenching stories--it's the place to learn more about what you are not supposed to know of operations past and present. Finally, don't get emotional. "Use the dark side..." How far would you go to save your own life, your residence, your job, your children, your wife/girlfriend--husband/boyfriend? That's pretty much the operational mentality of your leaders--such as they are.

Will Americans become responsible US citizens? Will they restructure the US government? Will they return to the practice of public executions and torture? Will they destroy or engage the world? Find out at a theater near you. It's as close to reality as you'll get.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security matters. He is the author of America 2004: A Power But Not Super and co-author of America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II. Reach him at

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Syriana - Hollywood's Oil Flick

Director Stephen Gaghan's gripping new film "Syriana" explores the roots of 21st century civilization's biggest dilemma: Peak Oil. Inexpensive fossil fuels – oil and natural gas – have floated both the corporate-controlled global economy and U.S. imperial planetary hegemony for the past several decades. Now, the party is over, as "elephant" fields like Kuwait's Burgan are peaking, oil companies are maintaining sagging portfolios by buying up other companies' reserves (real and fictitious). The world is beginning to grasp the significance of living without immediate and inexpensive access to one of the 20th century’s most vital resources.

Perhaps "Syriana's" biggest weakness (if one can call it that) is that Gaghan doesn't pander to his audience. Instead, he seamlessly stitches together a complex and fast-moving narrative that tracks more than a dozen characters on four continents, assuming we know more about the way the world really works than we might.

To fully appreciate "Syriana's" storyline, it's important to understand that the world currently consumes 80 million barrels of oil a day, with the globe's richest and most powerful empire (that's the U.S.) burning up 20 million of those barrels. Understand, further, that the United States reached "peak oil" (maximum domestic production capacity) in 1970, when it produced 10 million barrels of oil a day. Now, as U.S. supply dwindles, the country currently produce only 5 million domestic barrels a day (while consuming 20 million, remember), for a yearly consumption total of 7 billion barrels, while possessing only 28 billion barrels in strategic reserves. That leaves fifteen million barrels of oil the U.S. needs each day that we can't produce ourselves. If oil-producing nations (say Iran or Venezuela) cut the U.S. off tomorrow, we’d have only four years of oil and natural gas left.

Rather than give the oil-producing nations of the world that kind of power, U.S. based energy corporations (the fictional Connex and Killan corporations, who merge in "Syriana) and the U.S. government (now essentially the same entity, with Team Bush/Cheney/Condi/ Wolfy/Rummy running DC) have worked tirelessly during the past few decades to secure control over the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves.

Make no mistake – under cover of a post-911 "war on terror," the U.S. government is waging a sequential struggle to control the planet’s known remaining oil and natural gas reserves - Afghanistan and Iraq are but stepping stones to increased U.S. geo-strategic control over the greater Middle East.

The C.I.A., represented in "Syriana" by George Clooney's Bob Barnes, an agent who moves from true believer to angry skeptic, exists primarily to do the unpleasant but necessary work of funding Wall Street bankers and fueling U.S. imperial expansion by employing a wide variety of tools to ensure that the right deals are made by the right governments: drug smuggling, money laundering, weapons smuggling, election skullduggery, and assassination. Access and control of oil reserves is integral to their mission, as "Syriana" suggests.

And, as "Syriana" makes plain throughout the story, energy corporations and the U.S. government are doing this, not just to make huge profits, but to perpetuate the current oil-lubricated American way of life for as long as possible. Many of us may pay lip service to opposing Team Bush/Exxon/ Cheney/ Halliburton's plans, but as long as we refuse to make a radical energy shift, we are complicit in this whole exercise. Without being heavy-handed or preachy, Gaghan reminds us of this in subtle ways throughout the film.

And, lest we get too cranky with ourselves, other powerful nations (China, with an economy exploding at an annual 10% rate, takes center stage in "Syriana") are desperately looking for fuel, and the often-corrupt patriarchal emirs of Middle Eastern oil-producing nations are happy to sell, especially if it means enriching their own pockets and building their own palaces as part of the bargain. And what if a more enlightened desert despot (Iran's Prince Nasir in "Syriana) wishes to sell his country’s black gold to the highest bidder (say, China) to make possible a more democratic, tolerant and prosperous society for his own people? Declare him a terrorist ("communist" or "socialist" are so retro) and eliminate him.

"Everything is connected," reads "Syrian's" tag line. Indeed it is. We also meet energy trader Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), who ends up backing Nasir’s efforts to nationalize his country's energy fields; Iranian and displaced oil worker-turned fundamentalist/terrorist Wasim Khan; investigative lawyer Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) and a host of other characters whose lives converge in one of the most provocative and true-to-life stories of our time.

"Syriana" is probably the closest Hollywood will ever come to presenting on honest picture of our Peak Oil dilemma. Don't miss it.

British, US Spying Draws Us Closer to Orwell's Big Brother by T.J. Rodgers

My waking thought on Christmas Day was that George Orwell's vision of Big Brother was no longer a hypothetical possibility but an actual near-term threat. That realization was synthesized from two news events, one here and one in Britain.

In Britain, the government recently decided to deploy global positioning system (GPS) technology to track every vehicle in the U.K. every minute of the day. Just as GPS sensors are mandated for use in every cell phone in the near future in the United States (for our safety, of course), Britain will mandate the use of a GPS sensor in every car. ``Has Reginald White arrived at the grocery store yet?'' will become a question answerable by the security division of Britain's DMV.

The British government promises safeguards to prevent spying on ordinary citizens, but who will follow up on those promises?

In the United States, President Bush is acting under apparently self-granted powers to ``authorize'' the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans -- of course, only on Americans threatening terrorist acts.

In an act of high integrity, one of the judges of the secret court that grants Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act search warrants resigned, citing the fact that Bush was now bypassing even that minimal civil rights guarantee by directly authorizing NSA spying on U.S. citizens. One can only imagine that this troublesome judge will be replaced with one more friendly to the administration.

With only the need to combine two real-world technologies for spying and tracking, the vision of 1984 -- once just a dark philosophical concept -- becomes an engineering project.

The president and those to whom he delegates his authority can now authorize government spooks to listen to us in our homes and on our cell phones. When we are not home, they can track us in our automobiles. The system could be airtight and could be used to control our actions.

It's simple enough for most Silicon Valley companies to create a chip to detect a valid GPS signal and disable an automobile's ignition system to prevent citizens from the ``unauthorized use'' of their own vehicles.

The final move into the totality of 1984 requires only a bit of philosophical drift, as exemplified by J. Edgar Hoover's directive to spy on the Rev. Martin Luther King because he was a subversive. If Bush's latest acts are left unchallenged, the government will become bolder at spying on whomever it wants and secretly jailing those it deems a threat to national security -- all with no troublesome warrants or messy public trials.

In this environment, acts other than terrorism will certainly be put on the subversive activities list, all in the name of protecting our freedom.

Why should law-abiding citizens fear these trends? Because the government cannot be trusted. I don't trust President Bush to honor my rights, nor did I trust President Clinton, who was caught with secret FBI files on his political enemies.

It's not that I'm unpatriotic. The founders of our country did not trust any government -- either that of George III or an uncontrolled democracy. That's why we have the Bill of Rights to protect American citizens from their own government -- by demanding, for example, that ``Congress shall make no law abridging the right of free speech.''

Our property is also protected from illegal search and seizure, and we are not to be put in jail without knowing the charges against us or having the right to confront our accusers in a public trial. Secret courts are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, the defining document of American freedom.

What's the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it. Of course, the government can talk about bigger things, like the use of weapons of mass destruction, to justify its use of totalitarian tactics.

I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term ``patriot,'' then I am certainly not one.

By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.

Imagine if in 2006... by Medea Benjamin

As we close the year 2005, with war still raging in Iraq and lies still emanating from the White House, let’s send out some positive vibes for the new year. In the spirit of planting our own “field of dreams"…

Imagine if, in 2006:

  • Every citizen against the war decides to attend a peace vigil.
  • Every mother shows up at a recruiters' office and says, "NOT MY CHILD!"
  • Every father is brave enough to tell his son "Killing is NOT manly."
  • Every teacher teaches conflict resolution to her students.
  • Every Christian demands that our government practice the Commandment: THOU SHALL NOT KILL.
  • Every anti-war voter refuses to give money, support or votes to pro-war candidates.
  • Every student who considers joining the military to pay rising college costs instead joins with other students to demand affordable education.
  • Every soldier who has doubts about the mission in Iraq refuses to fight.
  • Every congressperson walks, cycles or takes public transportation to work.
  • Every American buying a new car chooses a hybrid or biodiesel.
  • Every family member of a fallen soldier joins Cindy Sheehan in saying “Honor our sacrifices; stop the killing.”
  • Every living veteran, those who best know the agony of war, converges on Washington to demand a Department of Peace.
  • Every woman who wants to see a more peaceful world connects with like-minded women of all ages, races, religions and nationalities to demand an end to war. *
  • Every citizen who feels lied to about the reasons for invading Iraq demands that George Bush be impeached.

Maybe, together, we could end the occupation of Iraq in the new year and make it harder for future leaders to drag us into unjust wars. When we sow seeds of peace, a whole field of dreams can blossom.

From your sisters at CODEPINK, we wish you a joyful holiday season and look forward to working together in 2006 to make our dreams come true.

Medea Benjamin is Founding Director of Global Exchange. For over twenty years, Medea has supported human rights and social justice struggles around the world. Medea is a leading activist in the peace movement and helped bring together the groups forming the coalition United for Peace and Justice . She is also the co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a women's group that has been organizing creative actions against the war and occupation of Iraq. CODEPINK is pushing for a reorientation of budget priorities in the US to focus on heath care, education and housing, not war. Code Pink now has over 250 chapters throughout the United States.

Documents the British Government Dosen't Want You to See

Calling All Bloggers: These Documents need publishing

By ringverse at Thu, 29/12/2005 - 16:45

The UK government has been quick to deny that we practice, or tolerate the practice of Torture. So it is perhaps not suprising that they are determined that you should not see the following documents:

Craig Murray was the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, untill his complaints and protest at the use of intelligence gained by torture got too much for Jack Straw and the Foreign Office, who set about attempting to unsuccessfully smear him, and to successfully remove him from office.

The Foreign Office has had the draft of Craig's book for clearance for over 3 months now, and they are doing everything they can to try and prevent him from publishing his side of the story. Their latest attempt to cover their own backs was to inform him, the night before Christmas Eve, that these two documents cannot be published, and that he was to return or destroy all copies immediately.

What are these documents?
The first document is a series of Telegrams that Craig sent to the Foreign Office, outlining his growing concern and disgust at our use of intelligence passed to the UK by the Uzbek security services.

The second document is a copy of legal advice the Foreign Office sought, to see if they were operating within the Law in accepting torture intelligence, and according to Michael Wood the FCO legal adviser; it is fine, as long as it is not used as evidence.

Faced with this heavy handed censorship by the FCO, in an attempt to cover up our use of and complicity in torture, Craig has decided to fight back, and has asked us all to publish this information, so it cannot be suppressed.

I am in discussion with the FCO over what I am and am not allowed to publish in my book. The FCO is seeking to gut the book of all evidence of complicity with the Uzbek regime.
With Bliar cornered on extraordinary rendition, they are particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence from Uzbek torture.

In particular, they have demanded I do not publish the attached documents, and that I hand over all copies of them.

The obvious answer to this is to post these documents as widely on the web as possible. This is also potentially very valuable in establishing that I am not attempting to make money from these documents - you don't have to buy my book to see them, they are freely available. If you buy the book, you are only paying for the added value of my thoughts.

This will only work if we can get the [documents] very widely posted, including on sites in the US and elsewhere outside the UK ... there is a chance that those who ... post this stuff will get threatened under the Official Secrets Act.

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.

After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.


Compare and Contrast the government's public position on Torture, with the information they were recieving at the time from their own Ambassador, and the legal advice they were seeking.
We have archived a selection of government spin and lies on the use of torture in these 4 pages:

and you can listen to Jack Straw and Tony Blair deny what you read in these hitherto 'secret' documents here.

What you can do:
We have published the documents in full here, and ask that anyone who can will do the same.

If you could publish, host and link to these documents on your own webspace, then it will be harder for anybody to be prosecuted here in the UK, and ensure that they get maximum coverage.

Craig Murray stood up for what many of us believe, and it cost him his Job, his health, and his professional reputation. The least we can do his stand by him as he defies the UK government's attempts at censorship, and possible prosecution.

Craig's own post on the subject can be found here:

Thanks for your help.

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Latin America: The Yanquis Are Coming to Put Down Progressive Surge

December 29, 2005 -- Latin America preparing for the "Yanqui invasion." U.S. positions military forces in Latin America to confront the surge of popular socialism in the Western Hemisphere. The Bush administration and its Congressional allies, consisting of right-wing Cuban-Americans like Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Christian fundies who tout the imperialist line of televangelist Pat Robertson, are backing the Pentagon's plans to expand its military presence in Latin America. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has authorized the expansion of U.S. military bases -- called Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) -- the Mariscal Estigarribia airbase in Paraguay near the Bolivian and Brazilian borders, Eloy Alfaro International Airport in Manta, Ecuador; Comalapa International Airport in El Salvador; the Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua, Honduras, "Plan Colombia" military installations throughout Colombia, covert bases in Peru, Reina Beatrix International Airport in Aruba; and Hato International Airport in Curacao.

These bases, which are staffed with a relatively small U.S. military presence and a larger contractor element drawn from the ranks of ex-patriot American and other military veterans who have lived in Latin America since the Contra war days, have the capability to ramp up military operations at short notice.

The Bush administration is trying to cobble together a Latin American "coalition of the willing" to take on progressive governments in Latin America, including those of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba whose ranks may swell in 2006 to include populist governments in Nicaragua, Peru, and Mexico. For that reason, the U.S. Southern Command is planning a saber-rattling military exercise in Paraguay in 2006 called "Fuerzas Comando 06." Although the Pentagon has invited some 20 Latin militaries to participate, Brazil's military chiefs see the United States as their primary security threat. The Brazilian military (as well as Venezuela's) is keeping a close eye on U.S. military activity in Guyana near the Brazilian border. Brazil's armed forces have also held a training exercise called Operation Jauru that was partly targeted against any future U.S. military incursions from Paraguay into Brazil, Bolivia, or Argentina. Brazil is coordinating with the militaries of its progressive neighbors to counter the U.S. military threat to Brazil and its neighbors

Do you trust the government regarding Avian Flu??? I THINK NOT!

Flu 'Oddities' Updated! 29 Dec 2005

Bad vaccines may trigger bird flu
: expert 29 Dec 2005 China is most likely using substandard poultry vaccine or not enough good vaccine, which would explain recent outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in poultry, a prominent virologist said on Thursday. Dr Robert Webster, of St Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, said the problem of substandard vaccines was not exclusive to China. [And, that is Bush's main reason behind his efforts to make the deadly vaccines mandatory and to remove all manufacturer liability. When the bird flu pandemic arrives, Bush will invoke police state measures while he pursues further dictatorial power. See article summaries, below.]

US uses live bird flu viruses in vaccine experiment 18 Dec 2005 In an isolation ward of a Baltimore hospital, up to 30 'volunteers' [?!?] will participate this April in a bold experiment: A vaccine made with a live version of the most notorious bird flu will be sprayed into their noses.

U.S. [Bioterror] Team Will Test Live-Virus
18 Dec 2005 Bird Flu Vaccine Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health will soon recruit 30 human volunteers to test the effectiveness of a vaccine containing a live but weakened form of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

U.S. House approves $3.8 billion for avian flu [for pharma-terrorists]
19 Dec 2005 The U.S. House of Representatives early on Monday approved $3.78 billion to begin preparations for a possible avian flu epidemic. The bill would also shield manufacturers of vaccines and drugs from lawsuits during an epidemic.

House OKs Liability Protections for Drug Makers 19 Dec 2005 Drug manufacturers are a step closer toward winning the liability protections they say they need before investing in medicines to combat a bird flu pandemic. Opponents described the protections, approved early Monday by the House, as a "massive Christmas bonus to the drug companies." Consumers seeking damages on claims they were harmed by a vaccine would have to prove willful misconduct on the part of the drug manufacturers.

Bird-Flu Bill Slammed as Loophole for Drugmakers 19 Dec 2005 Bird flu preparedness legislation headed for a final vote in the Senate this week would create loopholes allowing vaccine makers to avoid legal liability even if a patient is harmed by negligence, critics said today.

White House holds bird flu drill with military leaders 10 Dec 2005 Warning an outbreak may be inevitable, the White House on Saturday conducted a test of its readiness for a feared bird flu pandemic and said federal agencies fared "quite well" [Yes, they did so well with Hurricane Katrina, I can hardly wait for their response to a bird flu pandemic.] without offering any details. Cabinet secretaries, military leaders and other top officials took part in the four-hour tabletop drill, which officials said was designed to assess the level of federal preparedness for a possible outbreak of bird flu or another deadly virus. "This is about being ready for what inevitably will come," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said. [How does Leavitt know that a pandemic is 'inevitable?' Apparently, the Bush bioterror team is ready to attack, and a full-blown police state is surely on the way.]

Secretive agency proposed to develop vaccines, drugs 03 Dec 2005 The proposed Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, or BARDA, would be exempt from long-standing open records and meetings laws that apply to most government departments, according to legislation approved Oct. 18 by the Senate health committee. The agency would be exempt from the Freedom of Information and Federal Advisory Committee acts, both considered crucial for monitoring government accountability.

Big Brother Bush - There is a very good reason we have never given our government the kind of power this psychopath, George W. Bush now wields.

There is a very good reason we have never given our government the kind of power this psychopath, George W. Bush now wields.

The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was crazy as a bullbat, and J. Edgar Hoover, who wore women's underwear, decided some Americans had unacceptable political opinions. So they set our government to spying on its own citizens, basically those who were deemed insufficiently like Crazy Richard Milhous.

For those of you who have forgotten just what a stonewall paranoid Nixon was, the poor man used to stalk around the White House demanding that his political enemies be killed. Many still believe there was a certain Richard III grandeur to Nixon's collapse because he was also a man of notable talents. There is neither grandeur nor tragedy in watching this president, the Testy Kid, violate his oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of our country.

The Testy Kid wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it because he is the president, and he considers that sufficient justification for whatever he wants. He even finds lawyers like John Yoo, who tell him that whatever he wants to do is legal.

The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren't still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap. Of course, they tell us we have to be spied on for our own safety, so they can catch the terrorists who threaten us all. Thirty-five years ago, they nabbed a film star named Jean Seberg and a bunch of people running a free breakfast program for poor kids in Chicago. This time, they're onto the Quakers. We are not safer.

We would be safer, as the 9-11 commission has so recently reminded us, if some obvious and necessary precautions were taken at both nuclear and chemical plants -- but that is not happening because those industries contribute to Republican candidates. Republicans do not ask their contributors to spend a lot of money on obvious and necessary steps to protect public safety. They wiretap, instead. You will be unsurprised to learn that, first, they lied. They didn't do it. Well, OK, they did it, but not very much at all. Well, OK, more than that. A lot more than that. OK, millions of private e-mail and telephone calls every hour, and all medical and financial records.

You may recall in 2002 it was revealed that the Pentagon had started a giant data-mining program called Total Information Awareness (TIA), intended to search through vast databases "to increase information coverage by an order of magnitude."

From credit cards to vet reports, Big Brother would be watching us. This dandy program was under the control of Adm. John Poindexter, convicted of five felonies during Iran-Contra, all overturned on a technicality. This administration really knows where to go for good help -- it ought to bring back Brownie.

Everybody decided that TIA was a terrible idea, and the program was theoretically shut down. As often happens with this administration, it turned out they just changed the name and made the program less visible. Data-mining was a popular buzzword at the time, and the administration was obviously hot to have it. Bush established a secret program under which the National Security Agency could bypass the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court and begin eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.

As many have patiently pointed out, the entire program was unnecessary, since the FISA court is both prompt and accommodating. There is virtually no possible scenario that would make it difficult or impossible to get a FISA warrant -- it has granted 19,000 warrants and rejected only a handful.

I don't like to play scary games where we all stay awake late at night, telling each other scary stories -- but there's a reason we have never given our government this kind of power. As the late Sen. Frank Church said, "That capability could at any time be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capacity to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

And if a dictator took over, the NSA "could enable it to impose total tyranny." Then we always get that dreadful goody-two-shoes response, "Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, do you?"

Folks, we KNOW this program is being and will be misused. We know it from the past record and current reporting. The program has already targeted vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- and, boy, if those aren't outposts of al-Qaida, what is? Could this be more pathetic?

This could scarcely be clearer. Either the president of the United States is going to have to understand and admit he has done something very wrong, or he will have to be impeached. The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we're up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

NSA spied on its own employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts.

December 28, 2005 -- BREAKING NEWS. NSA spied on its own employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts. WMR has learned that the National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress, and oversight agencies and offices.

The journalist surveillance program, code named "Firstfruits," was part of a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was maintained at least until October 2004 and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss. Firstfruits was authorized as part of a DCI "Countering Denial and Deception" program responsible to an entity known as the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC). Since the intelligence community's reorganization, the DCI has been replaced by the Director of National Intelligence headed by John Negroponte and his deputy, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.

Firstfruits was a database that contained both the articles and the transcripts of telephone and other communications of particular Washington journalists known to report on sensitive U.S. intelligence activities, particularly those involving NSA. According to NSA sources, the targeted journalists included author James Bamford, the New York Times' James Risen, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the Washington Times' Bill Gertz, UPI's John C. K. Daly, and this editor [Wayne Madsen], who has written about NSA for The Village Voice, CAQ, Intelligence Online, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

NSA: Listening in on its own employees, journalists, and members of Congress.

In addition, beginning in 2001 but before the 9-11 attacks, NSA began to target anyone in the U.S. intelligence community who was deemed a "disgruntled employee." According to NSA sources, this surveillance was a violation of United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The surveillance of U.S. intelligence personnel by other intelligence personnel in the United States and abroad was conducted without any warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The targeted U.S. intelligence agency personnel included those who made contact with members of the media, including the journalists targeted by Firstfruits, as well as members of Congress, Inspectors General, and other oversight agencies. Those discovered to have spoken to journalists and oversight personnel were subjected to sudden clearance revocation and termination as "security risks."

In 2001, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rejected a number of FISA wiretap applications from Michael Resnick, the FBI supervisor in charge of counter-terrorism surveillance. The court said that some 75 warrant requests from the FBI were erroneous and that the FBI, under Louis Freeh and Robert Mueller, had misled the court and misused the FISA law on dozens of occasions. In a May 17, 2002 opinion, the presiding FISA Judge, Royce C. Lamberth (a Texan appointed by Ronald Reagan), barred Resnick from ever appearing before the court again. The ruling, released by Lamberth's successor, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelley, stated in extremely strong terms, "In virtually every instance, the government's misstatements and omissions in FISA applications and violations of the Court's orders involved information sharing and unauthorized disseminations to criminal investigators and prosecutors . . . How these misrepresentations occurred remains unexplained to the court."

After the Justice Department appealed the FISC decision, the FISA Review court met for the first time in its history. The three-member review court, composed of Ralph Guy of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Edward Leavy of the 9th Circuit, and Laurence Silberman [of the Robb-Silberman Commission on 911 "intelligence failures"] of the D.C. Circuit, overturned the FISC decision on the Bush administration's wiretap requests.

Based on recent disclosures that the Bush administration has been using the NSA to conduct illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, it is now becoming apparent what vexed the FISC to the point that it rejected, in an unprecedented manner, numerous wiretap requests and sanctioned Resnick.

There is an alternative: Bolivia, Venezuela, and the struggle against neo-liberalism

The reign of TINA, There Is No Alternative, is beginning to come to an end.

In Bolivia, Evo Morales has swept into the presidency after years of popular mobilization; the long-suffering indigenous and poor majority is demanding an alternative economic and social order.

In Venezuela, seven years after Hugo Chavez first won power, the Bolivarian Revolution is demonstrating an alternative path, powered by a people awakened to political action and in the process of transforming their society.

Part of the reason for the resurgent radicalism in Latin America is the fact that the United States government -- for all their efforts at sabotage and asphyxiation -- has never been able to fully eliminate the Cuban Revolution. Immediately following news of his massive election victory, Morales passed on this unsubtle message via Cuban television:
I want to tell the Cuban people, its government and its leaders: thank you, for showing how to govern, to Latin America and the rest of the world, and for defending its dignity and sovereignty. ('Morales Praises Castro in Cuban TV Interview', Agence France-Press, December 20, 2005)
Back in 1999, the year Chavez was inaugurated as Venezuela's President, capitalism was still at the height of its triumphalism (until late in the year, at least, when the twin specters of a raucous protest in Seattle and Y2K paranoia intervened).

In addition to the bombast of fashionable neo-liberal intellectuals, and the scolding insistence of right-wing politicians, we would do well do recall that the deans of social democracy had also, by the 1990s to be sure, fallen in line to prostrate themselves before the market and justify the rule of capital. The ‘Left’ in power, at least in the form that Canada and Europe had known it as mass social democratic parties, has seemed all too willing to impose, or all too impotent to oppose, neo-liberal measures and legislation.

A remarkably colourless (in terms of both the pigmentation and the style of the writers) and vapid collection of essays -- published the same year that Chavez came to power in Venezuela -- outlined the perspectives of social democracy's statesmen as of the late 1990s. The Future of Social Democracy (Russell, 1999) includes contributions from noted 'leftists' like Shimon Peres, who recently formed a new political party in Israel with war criminal Ariel Sharon, and Bob Rae, the dismal former New Democratic Party (NDP) premier of Ontario who used a column a few years ago in the ultra right-wing National Post to formalize his defection ('Parting Company with the NDP', April 16, 2002). Rae's essay is the book's concluding one and includes, believe it or not, a sentence analogizing Tommy Douglas, Marin Luther King Jr. and Tony Blair!

Without dwelling on this dry little book too long, it is worth noting the rigid and sectarian line explicitly laid-out by editor Peter Russell in his introduction:
- "...the social democracy advocated here must be and is reformist, not revolutionary – social democratic, not democratic socialist".

- "Social democracy's mission has become not replacing capitalism with an alternative economic system but humanizing capitalism – both nationally and internationally".

- "...capitalism is the only economic system capable of producing the wealth needed to sustain a full and rewarding life for all citizens". (Rusell, PP.8-9)
None of the essays -- including the one by Canada's former NDP leader and outgoing Member of Parliament Ed Broadbent – strays from Russell's narrow confines. In an era of rampant privatization, 'respectable' social democracy has prostrated itself before the market as just another shade of liberalism.

Many prominent social democrats have in fact formally become liberals. Taking just a couple of recent Canadian examples, former British Columbia N.D.P. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is now the federal Liberal Minister of Health, while Rae is a darling of Liberal governments at the provincial level and in Ottawa. Last year, for instance, the former Rhodes scholar angered student groups by recommending that the Ontario Liberal government further deregulate university tuition fees.

The Future of Social Democracy also makes almost no mention of any of the organizations in the Global South that have continued to emerge to challenge neo-liberalism. Despite the stated global outlook, the myopic vision of the leaders of the West’s major social democratic parties is startling. The lionization of capitalism’s efficiency and productivity seems all the more absurd, of course, from the perspective of the impoverished majority in the neo-colonial world, where for centuries labour and natural resources have produced the wealth of Western Europe and North America.

Today, global capitalism is being challenged most directly in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez's own discourse has sharpened dramatically against international capital in recent months and years. The Bolivarian leader has made repeated calls for the building of 'socialism for the 21st century'.

The Bolivarian Revolution is carrying out a transformation of both the reality of Venezuela and of the global alignment of political forces. The gains of el proceso are preciously concrete, as seen in rising rates of literacy and education, mass expansion of health care services, land reform, new housing for the poor, and an explosion in cooperative worker co-managed enterprises. These reforms are part of a revolutionary process with a continental and global dynamic.

Forget TINA.

Regardless of what we are told by the guardians of economic and political power, there is an alternative. All progressive-minded people would be wise to look closely at Venezuela, Bolivia, and at the social movements of Latin America, where the people are leading the way towards a future beyond neo-liberalism.