Saturday, October 22, 2005

Secret British military poll: Iraqis back attacks on coalition troops

A "secret military poll commissioned by senior officers" from the Ministry of Defence reveals that the majority of Iraqis support the insurgent attacks against British and American troops, according to an exclusive story in The Sunday Telegraph.

Among other findings, the poll also concludes that 82 percent are against the continued occupation and that millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks are justified.

The survey's results are "markedly different" than a poll conducted in March of 2004 by the BBC which found that "whilst the overwhelming majority of respondents thought any violence was unacceptable, some 17% said attacks on coalition forces would be acceptable."

The article notes that the poll "appears to contradict claims made by Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, who only days ago congratulated British soldiers for "supporting the Iraqi people in building a new and better Iraq."

Earlier today, President Bush gave a short speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California during the opening ceremony of the Air Force One Pavillion, in which he claimed that "we're draining the militants of future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope and freedom across the broader Middle East."

These are the major findings from the secret MoD poll as published in The Daily Telegraph:
  • Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;
  • 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;
  • less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
  • 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
  • 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
  • 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

The AFL Should Stop Attacking and Learn Something - Venezuela's National Workers' Union

The revolutionary process which started in Venezuela following the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998 has had a profound impact on the labor front. For 40 years the historically dominant Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) had an undemocratic structure and union bureaucrats collaborated with management to quash the struggles of rank-and-file workers. Democratic union activists were fired and even murdered while union bosses looked the other way. Now Venezuela has a new union federation. After the leadership of the CTV joined the business federation to support the 2002 military coup and then led a 63-day economic stoppage to force Chavez's resignation, pro-Chavez labor leaders founded the National Workers' Union (UNT) in April of 2003.

Last year the new federation was growing by leaps and bounds but the CTV still represented a lot of unions. That is no longer the case; although its first congress last month left structural issues unresolved, there was general agreement over principles and the plan of action, and the UNT is firmly established as Venezuela's principal labor federation. There are an estimated 1.2 million workers affiliated with the UNT, which is the same number the CTV counted in its ranks in 2001. The CTV now has 200,000 workers according to one source.

Two factions currently vying for office are led by Ramon Machuca, leader of the Steelworkers Union (SUDISS), and the slate headed by Orlando Chirino, a union leader from the oil industry, and Marcela Maspero, who comes from a pharmaceutical union. Maspero is the only woman on the 21-member coordinating committee. Also on the slate and the coordinating committee is Rubén Linares, vice president of a union of transportation worker

China Bashing and the Loss of US Competitiveness By JAMES PETRAS

The most striking aspect of the US (and European) trade conflict with China is Washington's systematic rejection of the free market and its resort to heavy-handed dependence on state intervention. Equally astonishing, supposedly orthodox free market economists have joined the chorus of protectionist politicos (like Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State) in questioning China's free trade policy and demanding that China abide by US directives instead of the free play of market forces (Financial Times Oct.7, 2005 p5). Worse still, some experts like Fred Bergsten, US director of the Institute for International Economics, are demanding more concessions from China under threat of a major economic confrontation. (Financial Times August 25, 2005, p 11).

Political Myths and Economic Realities

The US yearly trade deficit with China ($186 Billion USD by July 2005) is largely a result of US inefficiencies, not Chinese trade restraints. China has the lowest import barriers of any large developing country. In areas where the US has invested, innovated and is efficient, in agriculture, aeronautics and high tech, the US has a trade surplus. The US trade deficit is largely in the appliances, electronics, clothing, toys, textile and shoe industries where many US corporations have invested in Chinese subsidiaries to export back to the US. Over 50% of Chinese exports to the US are through US multinational corporations. The US trade deficit is in large part between the US state and its own MNC's located in China.

Wayne Madsen Report

October 21, 2005 -- EXCLUSIVE TO WMR: Marvin Bush's maid wanted to show him a video of her and President Bush. Moments later she was crushed to death by her own vehicle in Marvin Bush's driveway.

October 22, 2005 -- Questions remain about Marvin Bush maid's death. Seasoned intelligence and law enforcement specialists have had an opportunity to review the police report on the suspicious death of Marvin Bush employee Bertha Champagne on September 29, 2003. Chief among the questions are: How could a vehicle traveling at mere 5 miles per hour have struck and crushed a person without prior warning? How could a late model vehicle go into gear without the key being in the ignition? Why would the key be in the ignition if the employee was walking the dogs? Why didn't the dogs start barking and alert Mrs. Champagne to danger? What was actually on the videotape in question? What was the circumstance of the videotape encounter between Mrs. Champagne and President Bush? Why were dirt samples not being analyzed by the State of Virginia lab? Could dirt samples have pointed to the presence of other witnesses/suspects? Why did the vehicle continue to cross Ft. Hunt Dr. after hitting the woman and the outer building without someone being on the accelerator peddle (the driveway is a flat surface, no incline)? Why were there no witnesses to the car crossing Ft. Hunt Rd. on its own during a Monday night rush hour -- 9:06 pm? -- (Ft. Hunt Rd. is an extremely busy road connecting two main arteries -- Route 1 and George Washington Parkway).

U.S. Intervention in Bolivia (the shit may be coming down)

The Bolivian Congress and President remain locked in negotiations over how to apportion Congressional seats among the country’s regions, an issue that threatens to sidetrack the scheduled December 4 elections. Now the official word is that the government has until the end of the month to settle the matter (end of next week, essentially) before the elections really do get postponed.

Personally, I think that they will work out a last minute deal. The cost of not holding elections is too high. I think the country would basically explode in protest. But, as always, todo es posible and we’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, there are a variety of important rumors floating around Bolivia these days, some of which have come to me from some pretty high-level sources. I present these for what they are at this point, rumors and nothing more. But perhaps some of our readers can shed light on which, if any, can be verified.

Medina Ready to Back Morales in the Congress Vote

A very high level source told me this week that Samuel Doria Medina, the almost certain third place finisher in the December vote, is ready to throw his support behind Evo Morales in the Congressional vote for President, if Morales and MAS come in first place in the popular vote. The latest poll shows the two of them together (Morales and Medina) winning about 45% of the vote. As the undecideds fall into one column or another by lections day, that total could easily pass the 51% needed.

A Morales/Medina alliance could take two forms. Medina and his UN party alliance could just vote to make Morales President and not join the government. This options doesn’t win them any political spoils in terms of jobs and power but it lets Medina and his allies say "it wasn’t us" if the MAS government goes up in political flames down the road. Alternatively, Medina and his backers could join a MAS government. A ver.

The US Government is Telling US Citizens to Get Ready to Leave Bolivia

I have been hearing this one for weeks, from a variety of sources. Supposedly parents at the American school in La Paz have been told to make alternative arrangements for their children at schools in the US. US citizens have supposedly been told to have their travel papers in order, etc. I have yet to hear any of this from any source that has been told this by the US Embassy directly. I have also spoken with US employees here who would surely have been among those told, and they claim they have never heard any such thing. Still, the rumors persist. The question, if it is true, is, as one reader put it here last week: What does the US Embassy know that we don’t?"

A Coup or US Intervention in the Works?

This has also been the subject of a good deal of Internet speculation. What is this US military base in Paraguay? What is he US doing there? What kind of forces does it have at its disposal there? Are plans under way t use the base as some sort of staging area for US intervention, for example, if a MAS government takes office? Another source of mine here claims that the US government has been carefully cultivating relationships with "anti-Evo" forces in the Bolivian military, presumably for some sort of US-backed coup down the road.

Again, I repeat, these are only rumors at this point. Not a single one of them is firmly documented. They may turn out to be totally false. However, surprising revelations usually do surface first as rumors. If anyone out there has real documentation that can shed light on any of these, please post away.

see this article on CIA intervention

Rightwing Meltdown Continues: 'American Conservative' Mag Blisters Bush Admin, Contractors on Iraq Corruption

Rats overboard: There seems to be new evidence every day that the American Right has awakened to the fraud of the Bush Presidency. Now comes a scathing indictment of Bush’s management of post-war Iraq in American Conservative magazine, which was founded by the gentlemanly wingnut, Pat Buchanan. The author of the article, Philip Giraldi, details how the Administration, and especially the civilian Pentagon leadership and their contractors, squandered or stole billions of dollars from the Iraqi and United States treasuries:

An estimated 363 tons of $100 bills were shipped to Iraq in C-130 cargo planes.
When the final page is written on America’s catastrophic imperial venture, one word will dominate the explanation of U.S. failure—corruption. Large-scale and pervasive corruption meant that available resources could not be used to stabilize and secure Iraq in the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), when it was still possible to do so. Continuing corruption meant that the reconstruction of infrastructure never got underway, giving the Iraqi people little incentive to co-operate with the occupation. Ongoing corruption in arms procurement and defense spending means that Baghdad will never control a viable army while the Shi’ite and Kurdish militias will grow stronger and produce a divided Iraq in which constitutional guarantees will be irrelevant.

How corrupt was it?

The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.

The level of corruption is so monumental that it literally involves tons of cash. Millions in currency "was flown into Iraq on C-130s in huge plastic shrink-wrapped pallets holding 40 'cashpaks,' each cashpak having $1.6 million in $100 bills." An estimated 363 tons of $100 bills were shipped to Iraq in C-130’s.

Here are hightlights of the Amcon article's bill of indictments:

What can one of the world's poorest nations teach us about hurricane evacuations?

A lot, actually.

The country is Cuba, which is not only the most populous nation in the Caribbean, but also is right in the center of Hurricane Alley. So you would think -- given the nation's poverty -- that tropical storms would have claimed many lives in this communist nation.

In fact, some 14 hurricanes have struck Cuba in the last two decades -- but fewer than 40 people have died, an average of fewer than three people for each major storm. When Hurricane Georges raked the region in 1998, the death toll in the nearby Dominican Republic was about 200. In Cuba: 0.

To look at another way, when Katrina first struck affluent South Florida as a not-too-powerful-yet Category 1 storm on its way to the Gulf, it killed 11 people there.

How does Cuba do it?

"There's no improvisation here. Cuba has a plan to face hurricanes. The United States doesn't," [top weatherman Jose] Rubiera said in an interview. "It is vital that everyone be well informed, without sensationalism or cause for alarm. We do not turn hurricanes into a public spectacle."

Collective evacuation avoids the "madness" of the traffic jams that blocked roads leading out of New Orleans prior to Katrina, he said.

Pre-Emptive Pardons?

Americablog reports that Bush and his chief of staff are having a pow-wow at Camp David this weekend, no doubt to discuss various strategies on how to extricate themselves from the various messes in which the administration now finds itself.

Let’s hope they're not planning to unleash a pre-emptive strike against Syria any time soon.

I'm also afraid they might be planning a pre-emptive strike against Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the Plame Leak case. Knowing how shameless Bush and his people are, and knowing how little regard they have for the law or the Constitution, I’m afraid Bush might try to PRE-EMPTIVELY PARDON EVERYONE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION before any indictments are even publicized.

The main precedent for this kind of pre-emptive pardon is Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon after Nixon left office, but before he had been indicted for any crime.

Now, please don't bring up the fact that Bush, as presumed president-elect, said he wouldn't consider any such blanket pardon for Bill Clinton. He said, "Let's let him get indicted first, then I'll pardon him." Of course, it remains to be seen whether Bush would really have pardoned Clinton. But hypocrisy is Bush's middle name, and he wouldn’t insist on treating Republicans, especially those close to him, most especially if he himself is at risk, as harshly as he treats Democrats.

Bush senior pardoned his former Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, and others, before the special prosecutor could try them for crimes that could have led to charges against Bush himself. Clinton foolishly let that go, and didn’t pursue any further investigations in the matter. You'll remember how much good that did him when the bloodhounds came after HIM.

But there's a difference between those examples and the possibility I raise here: the U.S. Constitution says, in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, "The President ... shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." (Emphasis added.)

I think we Internet strategists need to get to work right away pre-emptively thinking up how we will protest this event, should it occur. Most especially we need some lawyers to focus on the "except in Cases of Impeachment" phrase. Can Bush pardon the minions who, if they testified to Congress, could bring about Bush’s own impeachment? Would we let him get away with it? What can we do if he tries it? Ideas, please.

A Foreign Policy of Free-Floating Belligerence

After the debacle in Iraq, any prudent policymaker would go slow on the military option and dust off the file called "diplomacy."

But since no one in the highest reaches of the Administration fits that description, the BushCheneyiacs keep rattling the sabers.

Condoleezza Rice continued with the free-floating belligerence when she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 19.

In her opening statement, she went out of her way to criticize Iran and Syria. They "allow fighters and military assistance to reach insurgents in Iraq," she said. "Syria and Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace."

(Since April 2005, the country that has supplied the most foreign fighters to Iraq is not Syria or Iran, by the way. It is Egypt, according to The New York Times of October 20.)

Rice pointedly refused to rule out military options against Iran and Syria. Nor did she reassure the panel that Bush would ask for Congressional approval first. She said she didn’t want to "circumscribe" his powers as commander in chief.

The BushCheneyiacs believe those powers are essentially unlimited. Her words could hardly be described as surprising.

It's Not up to the Court by Howard Zinn

John Roberts sailed through his confirmation hearings as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with enthusiastic Republican support, and a few weak mutterings of opposition by the Democrats. And in nominating Harriet Miers, Bush is trying to put another rightwinger on the bench to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. This has caused a certain consternation among people we affectionately term "the left."

I can understand that sinking feeling. Even listening to pieces of Roberts's confirmation hearings was enough to induce despair: the joking with the candidate, the obvious signs that, whether Democrats or Republicans, these are all members of the same exclusive club. Roberts's proper "credentials," his "nice guy" demeanor, his insistence to the Judiciary Committee that he is not an "ideologue" (can you imagine anyone, even Robert Bork or Dick Cheney, admitting that he is an "ideologue"?) were clearly more important than his views on equality, justice, the rights of defendants, the war powers of the President.

At one point in the hearings, The New York Times reported, Roberts "summed up his philosophy." He had been asked, "Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?" (Would any candidate admit that he was on the side of "the big guy"? Presumably serious "hearings" bring out idiot questions.)

Roberts replied: "If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy's going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy's going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution."

If the Constitution is the holy test, then a justice should abide by its provision in Article VI that not only the Constitution itself but "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land." This includes the Geneva Convention of 1949, which the United States signed, and which insists that prisoners of war must be granted the rights of due process.

A district court judge in 2004 ruled that the detainees held in Guantanamo for years without trial were protected by the Geneva Convention and deserved due process. Roberts and two colleagues on the Court of Appeals overruled this

The Biological And Toxin Weapons Convention And Iraq

Motion in the UK Parliament has been tabled for a third time

That this House notes that the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention binds signatories not to transfer to any nation any agents, toxins, weapons and equipment of biological and toxin warfare and provides that any nation finding another signatory in breach of this undertaking may lodge a complaint to the UN Security Council;

Notes that the Riegle Report to the US Senate has published evidence that the US sold bacillus anthracis, clostridium botulinum, histoplasma capsulatum, brucella, melitensis and clostridium perfringens to agencies of the Iraqi government pursuant to export licences issued by the US Department of Commerce, at a time when the US was fully aware of the Iraqi biological warfare programme and that these exports have been fully documented noting,

in particular, that the US sales included Vollum strain anthrax, found by the Iraq Survey Group to be the strain of anthrax used in the Iraqi biological weapons programme, and which, as reported in The Times of 9th August, originated from a dead cow in Oxfordshire; calls on the Government to report these sales to the Security Council in the light of its commitment in the April 2002 Green Paper,

Strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, that those at every level responsible for any breach of international law relating to the use of such weapons will be held personally accountable; and urges the Prime Minister either to lodge the necessary complaint with the Security Council or change the UK's stated policy after an appropriate public announcement and discussion.

See also -

Saddam's germ war plot is traced back to one Oxford cow

The culture was sent to the United States, which exported samples to Iraq during Saddam’s war against Iran in the 1980s. Inspectors have found that this batch of anthrax was the dictator’s choice in his attempts to create biological weapons.

Living in a Fascist State

From ICH
"But I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, then Fascism and Communism, aided, unconsciously perhaps, by old-line Tory Republicanism, will grow in strength in our land." -Franklin D. Roosevelt, November 4, 1938
In 1938 the word "fascism" hadn't yet been transferred into an abridged metaphor for all the world's unspeakable evil and monstrous crime, and on coming across President Roosevelt's prescient remark in one of Umberto Eco's essays, I could read it as prose instead of poetry -- a reference not to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or the pit of Hell but to the political theories that regard individual citizens as the property of the government, happy villagers glad to wave the flags and wage the wars, grateful for the good fortune that placed them in the care of a sublime leader. Or, more emphatically, as Benito Mussolini liked to say, "Everything in the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state."

Who Is Scooter Libby?

The secretive Cheney aide at the heart of the CIA leak case.
Who is I. Lewis Libby? The not-Karl-Rove character at the center of the CIA leak investigation is so mysterious he hides his first name. Rove we know: He's Bush's political id-a self-taught master of political hardball, a brash Texan who has plotted the president's advance for 25 years.

The adviser universally known as "Scooter" represents the other side of the Bush administration: the secret undisclosed side. Like the vice president he works for, Libby prefers to work on policy in the shadows and leave the politics to others. Unlike Rove, or even fellow neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Libby rarely speaks on the record; he almost never gives public speeches. Unlike the Texas gang, he doesn't boast at being an anti-intellectual and is in fact proud of his intellectual credentials. "Lewis Libby is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University School of Law," reads the blurb under his picture on the back flap of his book, a historical novel about Japan at the turn of the 19th century.

If these two men are so different, why are Rove's and Libby's names now spending so much time in the same sentence? Both are under investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for telling reporters that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA after Wilson challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein sought to buy enriched uranium from Niger. Though there is still much we do not know about their actions, one thing we can say is that the two were almost certainly leaking for different reasons. Rove's principal instinct would have been to knock back a threat to Bush's political standing. Libby's natural urge would have been to push back against the CIA with whom he and his boss had been waging an ongoing war over the intelligence that lead to the war itself, a war for which he was a key proponent, and in which he continues to deeply believe.

Serious US Military/CIA Interference in Bolivia

From GNN
To my knowledge, this developing story currently appears only on the pages of Havana-based Prensa Latina and it has serious implications about a new wave of U.S. intervention throughout Latin America.

According to Prensa Latina, Bolivian commando forces backed by the U.S. Embassy and the C.I.A. have recently seized a cache of missiles supplied by China in 1993, drawing sharp criticism from Presidential Candidate Evo Morales.

Morales, an indigenous leader who is in a tight race for the Presidential elections scheduled for December, but hampered by recent, controversial redistricting initiatives is asserting that the seizure is a provocation, and may lead to accusations of treason on the part of any Bolivian officials involved.

This situation could further destabilize the tenuous elections – recent polls suggest Morales and the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) are frontrunners, a prospect that probably doesn’t thrill the Bush Administration. Keep a close eye on how the U.S. media spins this story, if and when it is reported.

Note: Links to the original articles at PLenglish have given me trouble in the past, so I’ve linked to Prensa Latina’s hompage (it loads very slowly, so be patient). Here are the links to the original articles:

MAS Denounces Serious US Interference in Bolivia

Doubts Persist on Removal of Missiles from Bolivia

By Prensa Latina Staffwriters
Republished from Prensa Latina

US Military Operation in Bolivia Draws Sharp Criticism

MAS Denounces Serious US Interference in Bolivia

La Paz, Oct 19 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales denounced Wednesday that troops at the service of the US seized 28 land-air missiles supplied by China to Bolivia and sent them to the United States.

In his news conference, Morales said that "patriotic soldiers" who opposed the operation that took place a few days ago reported the despicable interference to his political party, Movement towards Socialism (MAS).

Consulted by phone, presidential spokesman Julio Pemintel refused to comment and said he had requested information on the matter from Defense Minister Gonzalo Molina.
Morales explained that a Bolivian commando force commanded by elements from the US Embassy and the CIA were involved in the seizure.

He denounced that the group raided an army facility in Viacha, near La Paz, where the missiles were seized and taken to the airport or to El Alto military base, and then were smuggled out of the country by air, supposedly bound for the US.

The weapons had been provided to Bolivia by the People’s Republic of China, in accord with bilateral military cooperation agreements.

The MAS presidential candidate considered it unacceptable to ride roughshod over a country's dignity and, as a former soldier, he protested the outrage and illegality of a military operation conducted by foreigners in the national territory.

He added that MAS members in Congress have requested that Minister Molina answer questions in the House, and this could lead to a trial for treason against those responsible, including officials and military officers who Okayed the operation.

The progressive leader revealed that the information was provided to MAS by patriotic officers who tried to oppose, but finally had to accept, the action under military discipline.

Asked to present evidence of his allegations, Morales said that during congressional questioning, the Minister of Defense will have to prove that the missiles are where they belong.

In remarks to Prensa Latina, military analyst Juan Ramon Quintana deemed the version credible and said that if the allegation is proven, it would be the most serious, outrageous foreign interference in the history of Bolivia, and the country would have lost the small amount of sovereignty it had left.


Doubts Persist on Removal of Missiles from Bolivia

La Paz, Oct 20 (PL) Despite the Bolivian Army chief's assertions that withdrawing 28 land-air missiles from the Armed Forces with US participation was legal, doubts persist about the affair.

Military experts, who asked not to be identified, denied Gen. Marcelo Antezana's assertion that the missiles were obsolete, and maintain that the weapons are similar to those used in present conflicts, including by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and were the only ones of this type to defend Bolivian airspace.

Presidential candidate Evo Morales, of MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo), Evo Morales, declared he had been informed by patriotic soldiers about the removal of the missiles by air to the United States on October 2, in what he denounces was an illegal operation with US troops in violation of national sovereignty and dignity.

The missiles were supplied by the People’s Republic of China in 1993, with other materiel at a cost of four and a half billion dollars, which still has not been paid.

MAS has demanded clarification of the case from Defense Minister Gonzalo Mendez, who met Wednesday with Antezana and President Eduardo Rodriguez before the general's press conference.

Morales declared this could result in an eventual treason trial against the president in his condition as Captain General of the Armed Forces, whose approval should have been necessary for withdrawing the missiles.

Evo Morales said the operation directed by the US Embassy is a provocation and threat against MAS, which leads the polls for the December elections.

Bolivia's major union (COB) leader, Jaime Solares, went further, warning of the danger of a military coup to prevent progress of social forces.

A few days ago news commentator Amalia Pando revealed premature changes in army units and staffing, which she said was worrying given the serious national-political situation.

Gen. Antezana denied anything unusual with the replacements of officers in Cochabamba and southern Santa Cruz before the traditional end of year modifications.

Vietnam Agent Orange Campaign

Wars do not end when the bombs stop falling and the fighting ceases. The devastation continues long after, in the land and in the minds and bodies of the affected population.
Today, three million Vietnamese suffer the effects of chemical defoliants used by the United States during the Vietnam War. In order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be "the enemy," the U.S. defoliated the forests of Vietnam with the deadly chemicals Agent Orange, White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple. Agent Orange, which was contaminated with trace amounts of TCDD Dioxin — the most toxic chemical known to science — disabled and sickened soldiers, civilians and several generations of their offspring on two continents.

In addition to the millions of Vietnamese still affected by this deadly poison, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers are also affected. It has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and the U.S. — that is, the second and third generations of those who were exposed to Agent Orange decades ago. Medical evidence indicates that certain cancers (for example, soft tissue non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma), diabetes (type II), and in children spina bifida and other birth defects, are attributable to the exposure.

GAO Report Finds Flaws in Electronic Voting

Rep. Waxman led twelve members of Congress today in releasing a new GAO report that found security and reliability flaws in the electronic voting process.

In a joint press release, Rep. Waxman said, "The GAO report indicates that we need to get serious and act quickly to improve the security of electronic voting machines. The report makes clear that there is a lack of transparency and accountability in electronic voting systems - from the day that contracts are signed with manufacturers to the counting of electronic votes on Election Day. State and local officials are spending a great deal of money on machines without concrete proof that they are secure and reliable."

The GAO report found flaws in security, access, and hardware controls, as well as weak security management practices by voting machine vendors. The report identified multiple examples of actual operational failures in real elections and found that while national initiatives to improve the security and reliability of electronic voting systems are underway, "it is unclear when these initiatives will be available to assist state and local election authorities."

Rep. Waxman also released a fact sheet summarizing the report's key findings.

"Bush-Cheney indicted" (Wishful thinking rumor? - ENJOY!)

Washington, DC - October 21, 2005 - 12:00 EST - exclusive - Today Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald handed over 22 indictments to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, accusing President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney and others of espionage, obstruction of justice, perjury and a variety of other charges in the matter of the CIA/Valerie Plame leak-gate case.

According to intelligence sources who spoke with federal whistleblowers Thomas Heneghan and Stewart Webb, Bush then ordered Gonzalez to fire Fitzgerald and have the indictments quashed and sealed.

Gonzalez refused to release the indictments which have been handed down by the grand jury and ordered served by a judge, subjecting the Attorney General to additional charges of obstruction of justice, the sources said.

The indictments confirm our original "Bush-Cheney indicted" report on August 2, 2005.

Gonzalez was Bush's former personal White House counsel before receiving a presidential appointment as U.S. Attorney General.

The move is reminiscent of the "Saturday night massacre" when President Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in an attempt to save his presidency and obstruct justice.

Intelligence sources added that Bush tried to delay publicity about his attempt to fire Fitzgerald and quash the indictments this afternoon by ordering a diversion regarding a "Capitol Hill police attempt to disrupt a suspicious package in a car near the U.S. Capitol."

The move to distract attention from the indictments occurred not long after the receipt of process by Gonzalez, according to intelligence sources with knowledge of the events.

While Gonzalez received the service of indictments, Bush was in California this morning and was scheduled to speak at the dedication of the new Air Force One pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

It can be assumed that Bush's orders for Gonzalez to refuse receipt of process and fire the prosecutor in the CIA leak case were discussed over the telephone since Bush was to speak at the Reagan Library just a few hours after the indictments were served.

Bush should have finished his speech at approximately 2:30 pm Eastern time, and it is probable that presidential strategy sessions regarding how to prevent the indictments and their criminal contents from becoming public have already commenced.

It is open to conjecture whether Bush could be arrested in California before even returning to Washington, given the criminal nature of the indictments.

An attempt to quash indictments and to fire Fitzgerald may also cause a constitutional crisis if Bush and Gonzalez continue to obstruct justice and defy U.S. law and constitutional legal process.

Intelligence sources told that the military or U.S. marshals should arrest Bush, Gonzalez, Cheney and others immediately for their criminal acts in keeping explosive espionage, obstruction and perjury indictments hidden from the American people, all of which affects U.S. national security.


Friday, October 21, 2005

A Long Overdue Frog-March

Unless Bush fires prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald -- a distinct possibility -- we are likely to see senior administration officials led out of the White House to be booked for the Plame affair.

Indictments are expected to come down shortly as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald completes the investigation originally precipitated by the outing of a C.I.A. officer under deep cover. In 21-plus months of digging and interviewing, Fitzpatrick and his able staff have been able to negotiate the intelligence/policy/politics labyrinth with considerable sophistication. In the process, they seem to have learned considerably more than they had bargained for. The investigation has long since morphed into size "extra-large," which is the only size commensurate with the wrongdoing uncovered -- not least, the fabrication and peddling of intelligence to "justify" a war of aggression.

The coming months are likely to see senior Bush administration officials frog-marched out of the White House to be booked, unless the president moves swiftly to fire Fitzgerald -- a distinct possibility. With so many forces at play, it is easy to lose perspective and context while plowing through the tons of information on this case. What follows is a retrospective and prospective, laced with some new facts and analysis aimed at helping us to focus on the forest once we have given due attention to the trees.

Settler saboteurs target Palestinian olive trees

Mahfuz Abu al Nasr, a Palestinian farmer from the West Bank village of Salem, was grieving yesterday over the wreckage of his livelihood. Jewish settlers had come in the night and destroyed 30 olive trees he planted a decade ago, in revenge for the deaths of three young Israelis in a drive-by shooting last Sunday.

"It is like losing your son," said Mr Nasr, 65, who has 10 children. "I watched them grow every year. At last they were producing. Every tree was as big as a house."

The trees lay scattered on the rocky ground, cut down by power saws. The crushed branches still bore olives ripe for harvest. Only seven trees on his two-acre plot had survived. "I have no shop, no sheep, no cows," he said sadly. "I only had my olive trees."

This was not the first time that militant settlers, waging a war of attrition against their neighbours in the hills east of Nablus for the past four years, had raided his grove.

Every year, their attacks cost Mr Nasr 5,000kg of olives and 180 litres of oil. He is going to plant new trees, but he will have to wait years until they bear fruit. This time, the vengeful settlers had lopped and burned trees on 70 Salem farms

Water Privatization in Latin America

The drive to privatize water distribution and resources is gaining steam in Latin America. Although transnational water companies have suffered setbacks in places like Puerto Rico, Bolivia, and Uruguay, they continue with plans to appropriate the region's hydrological resources - rivers, aquifers, wells, and aqueduct systems. While "privatization" has become a loaded term in the water business, companies prefer a softer discourse, employing concepts such as "decentralization," "civil society participation," and "sustainable development."

In April, over 400 participants from Mexico and countries throughout the hemisphere met in Mexico City at the First People's Workshop in Defense of Water . Organized by the Mexican Center for Social Analysis, Information, and Training (CASIFOP) and Center for Study of Rural Change (CECCAM), the ETC Group, and the Polaris Institute of Canada, the workshop brought together small farmers, indigenous peoples, labor union representatives, members of urban movements, researchers, students, and civil society groups to compare notes and share their experiences with privatized water services and attempts to transfer water management to transnational companies. Participants also discussed possible pathways toward consolidating and furthering the defense of the liquid as a human right for everyone, managed in a sustainable, democratic, and responsible manner.

New ways to privatize water

In the course of nearly a hundred brief presentations, workshop participants discussed privatization of water services currently being promoted in their cities and communities and described their communities' reactions. Tony Clarke laid the groundwork by identifying six modalities of water privatization:


From 1961 to 1971, the US army poured 83 million liters of herbicide and defoliant over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Two thirds of these chemicals, the best known of which being Agent Orange (thus named because of the color of the tanks it was contained in), contained DIOXIN, an extremely toxic substance that can provoke cancers and malformations, as well as harm the immune, nervous and reproductive systems.

In 2004, over a million persons still suffer from illnesses and handicaps caused by Agent Orange, and 200,000 children were born with malformations.

For 30 years neither the US governemnt, nor the main international organisations, nor the manufacturers of Agent Orange have chosen to bring significant help to the victims.

In reaction to such silence, to the suffering, the misery and the exclusion of these families, citizens and associations all over the world have joined forces in an international campaign aiming at:

  • Demand that social and medical assistance be urgently brought to the most severely hit populations;
  • Support the legal action taken in January 2004 by the association of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, against the manufacturers of Agent Orange, the most important being DOW CHEMICAL and MONSANTO.

Because we can't forget that industrial pressure groups, today just like in the past, have no qualms about sacrificing millions of people.

Because helping the victims of past wars is an action towards lasting peace in the future.


America's chemical warfare skeleton in the closet.

Facing a Nameless War

In September 2001, the President announced that we were at war with terrorism. It was to be a conflict far longer than World War II, a titanic generational struggle more in line with the Cold War in its prospective length. It was a war that naturally deserved a name. Administration officials promptly gave it the somewhat less than sonorous, slightly tongue-twisting label of the Global War on Terrorism, which translated quickly into the inelegant acronym GWOT. That name would be used endlessly in official pronouncements, news conferences, and interviews, but never quite manage to catch on with the public. So somewhere along the line, administration officials and various neocon allies began testing out other monikers -- among them, World War IV, the Long War, and the Millennium War -- none of which ever got the slightest bit of traction.

In the meantime, the President launched his war of choice in Iraq, an invasion given the soaring name Operation Iraqi Freedom. What followed -- from the days of unrestrained looting after Baghdad fell to the present violent and chaotic moment -- has gone strangely nameless. Perhaps this was because the administration had been so certain that the invasion would shock-and-awe sufficiently to be the end of it, or perhaps because Operation Iraqi Occupation (to pick a name) ran so against the idea that we were liberating the Iraqi people. Instead, well into our third year of combat in Iraq, we find ourselves in an unnamed war -- rarely even called the Iraq War -- spiraling into nowhere. Just in the last week, 23 American soldiers died in combat; the American Air Force was let loose to bomb parts of the city of Ramadi and en! virons, bombings in which children died; mortars fell in Baghdad's Green Zone; and numerous Iraqis including 6 Shiite factory workers, 3 election commission officials, and 2 bodyguards of the governor of Anbar Province died in drive-by shootings or attacks of various sorts.

And yet none of this has a name. Perhaps the namelessness acted as a distancing mechanism, one of a number that, for long periods, have allowed the war to fall out of the headlines as well as American consciousness, while the dead and wounded (unless killed in staggering numbers on any given day) head for the deep middle of the newspaper. As the British in imperial days once dealt at arm's length with endless border wars in distant lands while life continued at home, so perhaps Americans responded to this nameless war once it turned sour. What makes this so strange, however, is that the particular "borderland," the global periphery, the Bush administration picked for its war lay, of course, right smack in the middle of the oil heartlands of an increasingly energy-thirsty planet. Under the circumstances, it may be worth taking a moment to consider what names might be applied to our war in Iraq and what they might reveal about our situation.

The Precipice War?

"Publicly, administration officials hailed the result but privately some officials acknowledged that the road ahead is still very difficult, especially because Sunni Arab voters appeared to have rejected the constitution by wide margins. As one official put it, every time the administration appears on the edge of a precipice, it manages to cobble together a result that allows it to move on to the next precipice."

The edge of a precipice -- an image offered to the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler by one of those anonymous officials who always seem so omnipresent in Washington, and included in a post-Iraqi-election piece headlined, For U.S., a Hard Road Is Still Ahead in Iraq. (Is that the hard road to or from the precipice?)

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

From White House to NY Times - Their lies sold the war - Will Plame scandal lead to indictments or coverup?

Deep divisions in the U.S. ruling class, the political establishment and the military over the Iraq war and occupation are pulsating beneath the surface of the grand jury investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Much speculation has been generated about whether special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is going to issue major indictments to Bush administration officials, find a formula to ease the blow, or engage in a full-scale coverup.

Little of political significance has emerged so far from the prosecutor. But there have been important indirect revelations in the capitalist media about the way the conspiracy to go to war was executed.

Chavez Warns if U.S. Invades, Oil Goes Up

From newsday
PARIS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that his government is preparing for a possible U.S. invasion and he warned that such "aggression" would send gasoline in the United States prices soaring higher. The U.S. government repeated that it is not planning any such thing.

Chavez, a vocal critic of "imperialism" and the Bush administration, said he was not against the American people -- just the current government.

"We are sure that it will be very difficult for the United States to attack Venezuela," Chavez said. He said his country has eight oil refineries and 14,000 gasoline stations in the United States.

"If the United States tried to attack Venezuela by a direct invasion, forget the oil," he said during a two-hour news conference beamed live to Venezuela. "Everyday, we send 1.5 million barrels to the United States."

The barrel price of crude oil could hit $150 following a U.S. attack, Chavez said. Currently New York light sweet crude oil trades around $60 a barrel.

"That's why Pat Robertson, the spiritual adviser of Mr. Bush, is calling for my assassination -- that would be much cheaper than an invasion," Chavez said.

Robertson, the U.S. religious broadcaster, said in August that Chavez should be killed, then later apologized.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Chavez's suspicions were unfounded.

"I've stated many times before, the United States is prepared to work with any government in the region: left of center, center, right of center. Our issue is with states that don't govern in a democratic manner," McCormack said.

The Venezuelan leader used his news conference to trumpet what he called his "alternative" vision of a world that works for the poor rather than corporations seeking profits.

Chavez reiterated longtime claims that the United States finances his opponents, seeks his ouster and sabotages efforts to move his country forward.

"Venezuela is used to defending itself ... and fighting imperialism," Chavez said, speaking in Spanish with a French translator.

"We must be ready for an aggression," said Chavez, who previously said Venezuela is organizing an expanded military reserve and civilian defense units.

In an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio aired earlier Thursday, Chavez said he had evidence to prove the U.S. government was planning an invasion.

Chavez said he believed the reason Washington was plotting an invasion was to take control of Venezuela's oil fields.

Meanwhile, Israel canceled a lucrative deal to upgrade Venezuelan warplanes under American pressure, Israel TV reported Thursday.

The report said Israel was to install its own systems in U.S.-made F-16 fighters for the Venezuelan air force, but the U.S. government forced Israel to call off the deal. No dollar figure for the deal was given.

Israeli Defense Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

Bolivarian Venezuela - Part I. The World Festival of Youth and Students, August 8-15, 2005

From mrzine
Poor neighborhood -- "barrio" -- in Los Teques, the capital of the state of Miranda, near Caracas, where we spent our nights during the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students. My group -- including delegates from Libya, Japan, and the United States, plus a Jordanian and a Puerto Rican -- stayed in an abandoned Gilette factory, which now serves as a government building since being taken over by the state.

Opening ceremony of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas, Venezuela, attended by about 16,000 delegates from 144 countries, according to official sources. The theme of the festival was "For peace and solidarity, we struggle against war and imperialism." The Festival has a Communist history, having been organized in the past almost exclusively by Communist Parties (with a capital C). Communist Parties had a large presence at this festival in Caracas as well, but they were by no means alone. Delegations from the Americas were very diverse, including youth groups, student groups, Trotskyists, liberals, anarchists, Maoists, and other leftists and progressives of many sorts.

see whole article with photos

US Military in Paraguay: Threatening the Left and Eyeing Gas and Oil in Latin America

From mrzine
Preparations for renewed US intervention in Latin America are underway. To protect its hegemony and economic interests, the US government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse for military operations aimed at destabilizing leftist movements and governments and securing natural resources such as oil and gas.

By focusing on land reform and social programs such as education and healthcare, many of the new leaders in Latin America have put the needs of the people ahead of the demands of multinational companies. This leftist resurgence in the region makes corporate investors and other champions of the free market nervous. Recently, the George W. Bush administration has gone to extreme measures to check the resurgence.

Hundreds of US troops arrived in Paraguay on July 1st for secretive operations and are believed to be populating a military base 200 kilometers from the Bolivian border. Political analysts in the region believe this questionable activity is part of a strategy to quell popular uprisings in Bolivia -- where upcoming presidential and and national assembly elections are expected to favor a leftist candidate -- and take over the country's vast gas reserves.

Bush administration officials blame left-leaning "instability" in Latin America, particularly in Bolivia, on funding and support from President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Fidel Castro in Cuba. Lately, Bolivia has gone through politically tumultuous times; protests against plans to privatize the country's gas reserves have ousted two presidents in two years.

Cuba Today: A Nation Becoming a University

Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, this beautiful island in the Caribbean has aroused passions everywhere in the Americas. Since its inception, the revolution has had a profound impact on the popular classes throughout Latin America and haunted the political elites and wealthy classes in the United States and oligarchies elsewhere in the hemisphere. Admirers have often praised Cuba as the model for the future; its detractors have portrayed it as an oppressive regime. In reality, Cuba is neither heaven nor hell.

Instead, the revolution is a bold social experiment to find a way out of the underdevelopment that centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism have imposed on Cuba, an effort to open a path toward a more just society than was possible under its pre-revolutionary domination by the United States. It is this quest that has brought on it the untiring enmity of U.S. governments for nearly a half-century now.

For forty-five years, ten U.S. administrations have sought to end the "threat" of a good example by subversion, sabotage, invasion, assassination, diplomatic isolation, economic embargo, propaganda, etc. The embargo -- which Cubans call a blockade because it also seeks to prevent other countries from trading with Cuba -- has cost the Cuban people well over $72 billion to date. The Bay of Pigs invasion and the numerous acts of terror, launched mostly from U.S. soil, have taken 3,478 lives, making this a kind of slow-motion 9/11 (the proportional impact of which, given Cuba's small population, exceeds that of U.S. casualties in both the Korean and Vietnam wars). This little country has paid a heavy price for its independence.

Face it, America. You’ve been punk'd.

It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam—and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic “covert action” program against the citizens of the United States.

Covert action refers to behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to plant stories, manipulate information and shape public opinion. In other words, you write stories that reporters will publish as their own, you create media events that tout a particular theme, and you demonize your opponent. Traditionally, this activity was directed against foreign governments. For example, the U.S. used covert action extensively in Greece in the 1960s to help fend off communists. Covert action also played a major role in rallying world support for the Afghanistan mujahideen following the Soviet invasion in 1979.

Revelations during the past week about the Plame affair make it clear that the Bush administration used covert action against its own citizens. Consider, for example, the charge that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The key event in this disinformation campaign was the intelligence manufactured by the Italians. The Italian intelligence service, SISME, provided the CIA with three separate intelligence reports that Iraq had reached an agreement with Niger to buy 500 tons of yellowcake uranium (October 15, 2001; February 5, 2002; and March 25, 2002). The second report, from February, was the subsequent basis for a DIA analysis, which led Vice President Cheney to ask the CIA for more information on the matter. That request led to the CIA asking Ambassador Joe Wilson to go check out the story in Niger.

The Latest on Bolivia's "Maybe" Elections

They were the elections that weren't scheduled to happen, but came to be when a President resigned and two Congressional leaders were forced to leave aside their presidential aspirations. Then they were scheduled, got declared unconstitutional, then constitutional again, but they still might not happen, even though the candidates are campaigning fiercely.

Do we all follow that now? Welcome to the "tal vez" world of the Bolivia's national elections, best as I can tell of course.

Will There be a Vote December 4th?

Well, the elections are still scheduled, technically. They also now have a new blessing of constitutionality from the National Election Tribunal. However, the Congress is still in hot debate over whether and how to reapportion the various seats in Congress between the regions of the country, to conform to the most recent population census. Again, technically, the Congress has until Thursday to come to an agreement. It doesn't look good right now. If they don't reach agreement I don’t know what happens to Dec. 4th. To be honest, neither does anyone else, really. But this is Bolivia, "todo es possible".

BOLIVIA - Intervención de EEUU pretende desestabilizar democracia - Elecciones, boicot y contrabando de armas

From alainet
El 2 de octubre pasado, en un operativo calificado de “muy reservado”, un grupo de élite de militares bolivianos por instrucciones de la Embajada de Estados Unidos, trasladaron desde el Grupo de Artillería Antiaérea de Viacha (La Paz), 29 misiles tierra-aire SAM-7 con destino desconocido.

El presidente del Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), Evo Morales Aima, denunció hoy que tropas que prestan servicio al gobierno norteamericano y comandadas por la CIA incautaron los misiles suministrados por el Gobierno de China para sacarlos del país por vía aérea y conducirlos presumiblemente con destino a Estados Unidos.

“No podemos entender cómo algunos sectores de las Fuerzas Armadas -porque no son todos- permiten que se pisotee la soberanía y la dignidad de todo un pueblo. El MAS y los movimientos sociales del país estamos dispuestos a defender nuestra unidad e integridad pese a quien pese”, sentenció.

De acuerdo a informes oficiales y de militares expertos, los misiles chinos —fabricados sobre la base de la tecnología de los rusos SAM-7 y que son empleados actualmente por la resistencia en Afganistán e Irak— “no pueden ser considerados obsoletos” porque los aparatos llegados a Bolivia tienen la misma antigüedad que los utilizados en esas guerras.

Según publicaciones periodísticas de 1993, el gobierno de China Popular concedió a Bolivia un crédito blando y a largo plazo de 4,5 millones de dólares para la compra de material bélico pesado, que incluía cañones, municiones y 30 misiles tierra–aire. El crédito fue programado para el pago total hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2007.

El Comandante de Ejército, general Marcelo Antezana, asumió ayer plenamente la responsabilidad de la desactivación y demolición de los únicos misiles que bajo su percepción “estaban en desuso”.

Nunca antes en la historia del país, el Alto Mando Militar ni el Gobierno, capitularon con tanta infamia ante las presiones externas.

Ante el grave atentado a la soberanía nacional, el MAS pidió en la Cámara de Diputados, la interpelación del Ministro de Gobierno que podría derivar en un juicio por traición contra funcionarios y altos jefes militares que autorizaron la operación.

Furor Grows Over Internet Bugging

From wired
A recent government order mandating that voice over internet protocol services must include the same government-approved wiretapping capabilities as traditional phone companies threatens to cripple peer-to-peer telephone innovation, according to new warnings from civil liberties groups and an internet telephony pioneer.

The new rules from the FCC were published last month and take effect Nov. 14 , though companies have 18 months to comply. The order expands a controversial 1994 law known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, which required phone companies to buy or retrofit switching equipment to meet stringent, government-approved wiretap standards that permit law enforcement to more easily wiretap digital phone calls, and to capture information such as voicemail PINs typed on a phone after a call is completed.

Under the new order, VOIP services that can both dial into, and be called from, the traditional phone network also have to comply with the costly requirements, pulling services like AT&T CallVantage and Vonage into the wiretap regime.

Saddam Trial - Another Western Kangaroo Court

From ICH
The charade trial of illegally toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by yet another Western organized Kangroo court finally opened under a veil of secrecy on 19 October and was adjourned to 28 November. Saddam Hussein was defiant and claimed that he was the legitimate President of Iraq as he had done when he was first charged in July, 2004. (TRIAL OF SADDAM HUSSEIN & THE RULE OF LAW ). He and six co-defendants are accused of killing 143 people after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on him in 1982. Western media was miffed at the show of defiance by the combative and aggressive former Iraqi leader.

Saddam is not the first eastern leader nor would he be the last to be so demonized and humiliated. It is an old western technique against its opponents. Others are North Irish leaders, humiliated by the British and CIA’s once own man in Panama, dictator Noriega and Slobodan Milosevic with whom the West did business. Captive western media gave full coverage when Milosevic was being charged but once he started hitting back at his accusers, the coverage vanished.

Before the December 1971 war of liberation of Bangladesh, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Indians were called "old witch" and "bastards and a slippery, treacherous people" by US President Richard Nixon and his aide Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office , because USA sided with its ally Gen. Yahya Khan of Pakistan who had let loose a reign of terror on Bengalis; their leaders Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman had won the elections and wanted to form a government.

Expanding Iraq War into Syria is lunacy

AS I suspected six months ago, and U.S. military and Bush Administration civilian officials confirmed, U.S. forces have invaded Syria and engaged in combat with Syrian forces.

An unknown number of Syrians are acknowledged to have been killed; the number of Americans - if any - who have died so far has not yet been revealed by the U.S. sources, who, by the way, insist on remaining faceless and nameless.

The parallel with the Vietnam War, where a Nixon administration deeply involved in a losing war expanded the conflict - fruitlessly - to neighboring Cambodia, is obvious. The result was not changed in Vietnam; Cambodia itself was plunged into dangerous chaos which climaxed in the killing fields, where an estimated 1 million Cambodians died as a result of internal conflict.

On the U.S. side, no declaration of war preceded the invasion of Syria, in spite of the requirements of the War Powers Act of 1973. There is no indication that Congress was involved in the decision to go in. If members were briefed, none of them has chosen to share that important information with the American people.

Presumably, the Bush Administration's intention is simply to add any casualties of the Syrian conflict to those of the war in Iraq, which now stand at 1,970. The financial cost of expanding the war to Syria would also presumably be added to the cost of the Iraq war, now estimated at $201 billion.

The Bush Administration would claim that it is expanding the war in Iraq into Syria to try to bring it to an end, the kind of screwy non-logic that kept us in Vietnam for a decade and cost 58,193 American lives.

Stiffed by U.S., UN Asks Groups to Report on U.S. Rights Violations

SAN FRANCISCO - In an unprecedented move, a UN committee has asked human and civil rights groups to submit reports and testify on U.S. breaches of international law, filling a gap left by the U.S. government's failure to submit its own report.
The 18-member United Nations Human Rights Committee, which reviews nations' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, began reviewing country reports Monday and will complete its session on October 24.

But for the third time since ratifying the treaty in 1992, the United States has failed to submit its five-year report to the committee on U.S. violations of the treaty.

The treaty, which entered into force in 1976 and has been signed by 155 countries, outlaws torture or degrading treatment, protects self-determination, and ensures that all people everywhere are treated within the law.

Without a U.S. report, the committee usually skips over discussions of U.S. compliance.

But anticipating an absent U.S. report, the Human Rights Committee took precautions this year.

Last August, the committee sent a letter to a number of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the World Organization for Human Rights USA, requesting reports on U.S. transgressions of the treaty, to be used in case the U.S. itself failed to report.

'Mouse journalism' is the only way we can report on Iraq — Fisk

The Independent's famously intrepid Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has revealed that the situation in Iraq is now so dangerous that he doesn't know whether he can go on reporting from the country.

Fisk, who has previously accused colleagues of practising "hotel journalism" in Iraq, said that "mouse journalism" is now the best he can do in the country.

Fisk, whose new history of the Middle East, The Great War for Civilisation, has just been published, described mouse journalism as the practice of popping up at the scene of an event and staying just long enough to get the story, before the men with guns arrive.

Speaking at a bookshop in Golders Green, he said: "You cannot imagine just how bad things are in Iraq.

"A few weeks ago, I went to see a man whose son was killed by the Americans, and I was in his house for five minutes before armed men turned up in the street outside.

"He had to go and reason with them not to take me away. And this was an ordinary Baghdad suburb, not the Sunni Triangle or Fallujah.

"It has got to the stage where, for example, when I went to have a look at the scene of a huge bomb in a bus station, I jumped out of the car and took two pictures before I was surrounded by a crowd of enraged Iraqis." I jumped back in the car and fled. I call that 'mouse journalism' - and that's all we can do now.

The Show Trial of the Century

Saddam trial is a theatre. It is a Hollywood show to divert attention from the destruction of Iraq and the massive war crimes committed against the Iraqi people. Like the invasion, the “tribunal” is illegal and has no legitimacy in occupied Iraq

President Saddam Hussein's “trial” before a U.S.-orchestrated Kangaroo Court is hailed as the “trial of the century”.

Those who committed the crimes are rewarded and protected, while their victims are put on a show trial.

It is not Saddam who is on trial; it is the international legal system.

According to Professor Charif Bassiouni of DePaul University, an expert on International Criminal Law and former U.N. human rights investigator in Afghanistan:

“All efforts are being made to have a tribunal whose judiciary is not independent but controlled, and by controlled I mean that the political manipulators of the tribunal have to make sure the U.S. and other western powers are not brought in cause. This makes it look like victor's vengeance: it makes it seem targeted, selected, and unfair. It's a subterfuge”.

This is the accurate definition of a Kangaroo Court. “The Americans are intent on making this pure theatre, a show trial”, said one of Saddam’s lawyers.
Saddam trial is a theatre. It is a Hollywood show to divert attention from the destruction of Iraq and the massive war crimes committed against the Iraqi people. Like the invasion, the "tribunal" is illegal and has no legitimacy in occupied Iraq. There is overwhelming prima facie evidence to convict George W. Bush and Tony Blair of crimes against humanity than to convict Saddam Hussein. Under the U.N Convention, Bush and Blair are guilty of crimes against humanity, torture, and guilty of wanton destruction of the Iraqi state.

The reality is; the U.S. and its allies are not interested in a trial per se; they are interested in the humiliation of all Arabs. Saddam is an Arab and a Muslim. He is used as a symbol to further demonise Arabs and Muslims. The trial is seen in the West as if all Arab leaders are on trial. It is orchestrated and controlled by Western imperialism. It is a show trial for bullying and intimidation.

The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.

We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.

Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.

Defence lawyer calls trial 'pure theatre'

From theage
One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers called his trial in Baghdad "pure theatre" and said a 40-day adjournment to prepare a defence was not enough.

"If this was a regular murder trial at the Old Bailey in London then the defence would have been granted six months to prepare," Abdel al Haq al-Ani, the lawyer coordinating the defence effort, told Reuters.

"The Americans are intent on making this pure theatre, a show trial," he said.

Saddam and seven former senior officials went on trial on Wednesday for the death of more than 140 men from the mostly Shi'ite town of Dujail following a failed attempt on the former Iraqi leader's life in 1982.

The trial was adjourned until November 28, although Saddam's chief lawyer Khalil al-Duleimi had asked for a three-month delay.

Ani said the defence was only last month handed hundreds of pages of evidence which the prosecution says links Saddam to the charges.

In the session, Saddam answered questions from the judge and pleaded not guilty, although the defence says the tribunal is illegitimate, partly because it was set up by US administrator Paul Bremer in December 2003 during formal occupation of Iraq.

Without a Boss: A Worker-Run Textile Factory in Montevideo, Uruguay

The story is very similar to that of Brukman.* A factory of suits and coats owes large amounts of back pay to its workers. After several attempts at negotiation the seamstresses decide to take the factory. They occupy it once, and are thrown out. They return to enter, this time with tactics straight out of a movie, and they are tossed into the street again. The third time is victory. Now they produce 2,500 garments a month.

A ferocious storm swooped down on Montevideo, demolished the roofing, and left this warehouse of 2,800 square meters a place of misery. Without end, dozens of women wash it down and clean it to put it back into good condition. The workers have already spent a month repairing the facilities of Dymac, the most modern textile factory in Uruguay, which since August 2002 they manage without bosses. Since that time, Alicia Paiva sleeps in the place with her family, taking care of the machines and other goods. "It will be like this until a definitive solution is found," explains this woman who has an image of Che Guevara stamped on her chest and displays a Singer sewing manual from 1948 above her desk.

Chickens Come Home to Roost on Cheney

From Ray McGovern
Indictments are expected to come down shortly as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald completes the investigation originally precipitated by the outing of a C.I.A. officer under deep cover. In 21-plus months of digging and interviewing, Fitzpatrick and his able staff have been able to negotiate the intelligence/policy/politics labyrinth with considerable sophistication. In the process, they seem to have learned considerably more than they had bargained for. The investigation has long since morphed into size "extra-large," which is the only size commensurate with the wrongdoing uncovered -- not least, the fabrication and peddling of intelligence to "justify" a war of aggression.

The coming months are likely to see senior Bush administration officials frog marched out of the White House to be booked, unless the president moves swiftly to fire Fitzgerald -- a distinct possibility. With so many forces at play, it is easy to lose perspective and context while plowing through the tons of information on this case. What follows is a retrospective and prospective, laced with some new facts and analysis aimed at helping us to focus on the forest once we have given due attention to the trees.

Elections in Haiti: Papering Over an Illegal Situation

"There is a growing consensus that there can be no free and fair elections in Haiti under the violent conditions that exist today. Nevertheless, the interim government is determined to hold elections in November of this year, despite rampant violence and the continuing imprisonment of Lavalas party leaders. Under these circumstances, it is hard to believe that the Haitian people would ever accept the results of the elections." – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), August 23, 2005
We are inclined to believe that elections are a key step in creating democracy. Yet the United States government has used rigged elections as an instrument to maintain control and domination for many years. In their 1984 book, Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador, Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead explain the manipulative use of such elections to:
  • "oppose and defeat popular movements"
  • "ratify ongoing U.S. intervention strategies" and
  • "reassure the U.S. home population" that the latest Washington-backed foreign war is justified.
The authors could have written this very book about the upcoming elections in Haiti this fall.

Recent elections in Haiti

In 1990, Haitian voters elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president with a 2/3 majority, in the first free election with universal suffrage in Haiti's history. Aristide, a populist priest and outspoken advocate for the poorest of the poor, demanded a "place at the table" for all Haitians. He was promptly overthrown by a military coup in September 1991 (then restored to power by a U.S. led international force in 1994).

The movement led by President Aristide, called Lavalas, won elections for president in 1995, and then in 2000, under the banner of the Fanmi Lavalas Party, when Aristide was elected overwhelmingly for the second time in the first democratic successions in Haiti's history. Despite his enormous popularity with the majority of Haiti's people, the United States government and the Haitian elite did everything possible after the election to discredit Aristide and Lavalas, including economic sabotage, aid embargo, funding the tiny opposition which had little popular support, and fighting to prevent the holding of any future elections, because it was clear that Lavalas would win.

BLOGGING FROM THE VI World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela

Dear Readers,

In the words of Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, "If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn't we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?"

Many magical things are stirring in Latin America - things that couldn't even have been dreamt of under the U.S. supported dictatorships of just 20 or 30 years ago. There is a movement afoot. High hopes and dreams that stretch from the Pampas of Argentina to the plains of Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, and especially from Washington's nemesis Venezuela. A dream, Bolivar's dream, is stirring in the hearts of hundreds of millions to the South.

In January of 2006, the VI World Social Forum will be held simultaneously on three continents; In Karachi, Pakistan; in Bamako, Mali; and in Caracas, Venezuela. I will be traveling to the VI World Social Forum in Caracas, where I plan to blog my daily experiences and observations throughout the Forum - which runs from January 24th through the 29th, and then afterwards as I visit successful examples of the "social missions" - from literacy, high school, and university education, to Cuban doctors and eye health, to cultural heritage programs.

I am a veteran, and a member of Veterans For Peace, and have been closely following the World Social Forum since its inception in 2001. This year I have the privilege and the opportunity to actively participate in this momentous event.

"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

If you, dear readers like and appreciate the breath of fresh air that Milfuegos brings to the blogosphere - consider supporting this site by sending a donation to help make this trip a success.

checks should be made out to:

"Veterans For Peace, Chapter 31"

and mailed to:

Veterans For Peace
c/o John Grant
4008 Pilgrim Road
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Please note on the memo line: "DONATION for Milfuegos"
or if you prefer "DONATION for Macu Naima"

I had thought of explaining the World Social Forum (all five thus far), and I came to the conclusion that it would be better to just post articles from each one (About the WSF, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), and let you see what they were all about, and how they evolved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Misguided Crusade

Media corporations are arguably the most important yet least examined centers of power in our society. The owners of the Fourth Estate have a unique ability to direct the searchlight of inquiry upon others while remaining powerfully positioned to deflect it from themselves.

That is the blunt message of the belated but devastating report in Sunday's New York Times on how the paper turned reporter Judith Miller's "case into a cause." In its zeal to present its own discredited reporter as a First Amendment hero, the "paper of record" badly neutered its news department's coverage of the Miller saga and deployed its editorial page as a battering ram in her defense, publishing fifteen editorials supporting Miller's protection of her White House source.

"The its own ability to cover aspects of one of the biggest scandals of the day," concluded the front-page article. "Even as the paper asked for the public's support, it was unable to answer its questions."

The paper, led by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., waged a nonstop public crusade not just to protect Miller in the courts but to make her an outright heroine--obscuring the fact that she was not protecting the public's right to know but was abetting the Bush Administration in its shameless and possibly criminal attempt to discredit a whistle-blower. That whistle-blower, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, had enraged the Administration by exposing its use of faked WMD evidence as justification for invading Iraq.

For reasons that are still murky (and which are not made clearer by her own lengthy statement printed in the same edition), Miller argues that a waiver signed last year by Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was not good enough to allow her to testify and that simply asking Libby point-blank whether he had signed the waiver willingly would have been somehow unethical.

Cuba under the US Planned 'Peaceful Transition' (very important read)

Cuba under the US Planned ´Peaceful Transition´
Carolina Cositore*

Havana, (Prensa Latina) George W. Bush, president of the United States, speaks of a "peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba," and uses this plan as justification for the draconian measures he takes to hasten such eventuality.

It therefore behooves both Cuban and US citizens to clearly understand just exactly what effects this plan would have on the Island nation; Cubans, obviously, because said plan would affect their quality of life, and US citizens because it will require another great outlay of money, materiel, and the lives of their sons and daughters, and -as will be clear in what follows- would be yet another ugly intervention causing murder and mayhem to enrich a few.

To understand the end result of this plan it is not necessary to extrapolate from the abhorrent history of US involvement in Cuba, Latin America, and the rest of the world. The plan and expected consequences are spelled-out clearly in the 423-page report prepared in May 2004 for Bush and signed by Colin Powell, then Secretary of State. It represents the official policy of the United States toward Cuba.

What is remarkable in a public report that originates from this institution and government, expert at putting a "spin" on facts, is its clarity; this is a plan for Cuba from the point of view of capitalists who want to rape it. Equally notable is that it does not address whether or not there is now democracy in Cuba, but instead is unambiguous that the labeled transition to "democracy" means to "colonialist-style capitalism" in every instance where it uses the word "democracy".

Since the report is so crystal clear, let us pose some questions and allow it to speak for itself.


To begin with the "peaceful" part of the peaceful transition, even leaving aside the germane point of the extent to which the Cuban people would defend their sovereignty, and assuming, as the report assumes, that most or many Cubans would want the "benefits" of capitalism, it would then follow that such transition should be substantially peaceful.

Why then does page 157 of the report say: "A peaceful transition to democracy [in Cuba] will require the presence of effective, professional Cuban security institutions. As an immediate priority, and assuming the new Cuban government desires it, the United States would be prepared to assist a free Cuba develop a truly professional civilian police force.

Reliable military forces could help transition authorities prevent massive sea borne migration. [bold inserted] And page 81: " [The United States must] be prepared to respond positively to a request from a transition government to assist with public security and law enforcement during the initial stages of the transition, to protect humanitarian assistance providers and the Cuban population.

We must ask ourselves why so much security and force be necessary in a peaceful transition. Cuba is indeed a developing country, not a rich one, yet since the Revolution, all of her people have become accustomed to the fulfillment of their basic needs and wants, said fulfillment unavailable to all people in other nations, including in the US.


First, at the present time, no one in Cuba is hungry. Sufficient food intake, carefully nutritionally balanced, is guaranteed to everyone. In addition, supplementary fruit and vegetables and, to a lesser extent, meat and fish are for sale cheaply. What would happen to the food supply after the "transition to democracy"? Page 78 of the US report explains: "There are a number of different food security scenarios that could confront a transition government in Cuba.

The US Government and private organizations have determined that there may very well exist a severe case of malnutrition and lack of available supply and money to feed the Cuban people, or sectors of the Cuban people, to avoid massive sickness and disease."

And, of particular concern given Cubans love and care for their children; page 80: "Should the food security system in Cuba deteriorate and malnutrition rates rise, children under five will be at particular risk."


Second, at present all Cubans receive excellent, free medical care and their life expectancy equals or betters that of developed nations. There are more doctors per capita in Cuba than in any other country on the globe, Cuba sends medical teams to other countries, trains health personnel from other lands in Cuba, and receives the sick from many nations where they cannot afford to pay for their care.

Would this commendable situation exist after the US plan? No. page 144: "A Cuban transition government might consider, in cooperation with private pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies,and aid donors, instituting access to basic medical services and medicines on a discounted basis, as is now being done in Africa and other poverty-stricken countries."

At present, Cuba is a poor, but not poverty-stricken, nation.

The report makes no comment on the consequences lack of free medical care would have on the health and life expectancy of Cubans.


Third, the Cuban government ensures that all third age people have their basic needs met, from retirement pensions and/or social security benefits. The report declares this would not be the case after transition; page 140: "The Cuban economy and government budget after transition may not be able to sustain the level of unearned benefits and the lax requirements for eligibility that the communist system permitted."


Fourth, as with her medical system, Cuba's education is world-renowned. Her entire population is literate and increasingly well-educated, both those educated since the Revolution and those taking advantage of the "university for all" programs, Cuban school attendance and graduation rates are exemplary; education in Cuba is free from preschool through graduate school.

As the report makes clear, free, quality education is not the US aim. The goal instead is a return to the quality private, substandard public education that is the norm in other countries; for public schools, page 81: "[The United States must] Prepare to respond positively to a request from transition authorities to help keep schools open, even if teachers are paid with food aid or volunteers have to be temporarily imported, in order to keep children and teenagers off the streets during this potentially unstable period."

The return to paid, private and religious education, pages 97 and 98: "The Offices of Non/Public Schools and Faith-Based Initiatives, US Department of Education, could serve as facilitating agencies in ensuring that the system recognizes private as well as public educational providers, and could: a) "Facilitate the development of private, including faith-based, education.

b) "Ascertain which of the religious groups that had schools in Cuba have plans to reopen their schools.

c) "Assist in consideration of changing laws and regulations to permit private providers to operate and offer a full range of services, from short courses to degree programs."


Fifth, in Cuba one owns [or rents] only the home in which you live. That is, since the Revolution, there is no longer the situation wherein one person owns three homes and two families go homeless. Most Cubans since the Revolution either own their home or apartment or pay minimal rent, with buying privileges, to the State.

Some Cuban-Americans, who left rather than share, want the situation to revert to when they owned considerable property to the detriment of others, and the US wants to help them; page 42: "Implementation of [the new] laws must address the legitimate desire of US citizens to seek redress for the confiscation of their property."

Pages 226-227: "The US Government, if requested by a transition Cuban government, could help establish a structure for addressing property expropriations."

"With regard to claims involving residential property, temporary tenant restrictions should be permitted to avoid undue hardship on current occupants. If the property is occupied as a home, then the claimant should be unable to evict the tenants and take possession of the property for a specified period of time. Additionally, the owner will be restricted as to how much rent to charge the tenants or in the amount of any increases in their rents."

[Note: In the US, the typical time for eviction is 30 days]


Sixth, food is raised in Cuba either on State-run farms or by private farmers joined into agricultural cooperatives. After the transition, these cooperatives would return to the pre-Revolution condition, again extant in much of Latin America, with absentee landowners and uncultivated land; page 212: "Agricultural cooperatives could be sold to their members, which is a form of management-employee buyout. Other agricultural enterprises could target sales to strategic outside investors."

Clearly, if the farmers do not have the requisite dollars, the land would return to large landowners."

All of the above, the force required, serious lack of food and medical care, no money for the elderly, raises an important point.

The report declares that the "gross national export of Cuba, presently used to pay for the peoples" needs, is 1.6 billion dollars. We must then ask why there would be insufficient funds to continue to meet those needs.


The US report gives two reasons. One that money, plus six percent interest, must be paid for industries, factories and other "expropriated" properties; page 228: "The US Government should encourage a free Cuba to indicate at an early stage in the transition, and in the strongest possible terms, Cuba's intent to settle the expropriation issue as quickly as it can and in an open and fair manner."


That expropriation issue being, as pages 207 and 208 clarify: "The expropriation of US assets was one of the major initial causes of the deterioration of relations between Castro's Cuba and the United States and of the imposition of the US trade embargo.

The US Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) has certified 5,911 claims (totaling about $1.8 billion) by US nationals against the Castro regime for the taking of their property since January 1, 1959.The FCSC determined that simple interest at 6 percent should be included as part of the certified claims. Using this figure results in a value in excess of $7 billion, as of April 2004."


And two, the foreign "debt" currently strangling the rest of the Third World would be reinstituted in Cuba and the back interest paid. Page 222: "A free Cuba will need to normalize relations with its external creditors. This would involve a number of actions by Cuba and the international community, including an effort to reschedule Cuba"s debt, including arrears, and establish conditions whereby Cuba might resume making the debt service payments."

All now becomes crystal clear. Obviously, if Cuba's income is $1.6 billion, and it must pay $7 billion, plus on the foreign debt, the country would be destitute.

One final point: The report repeatedly refers to a "free Cuba". One must ask, aside from the US security forces that would be present to "secure" the transition, would Cuba be truly free or would a US bureaucracy control her? Page 121:

"If requested by a transition government, the US Government should. Establish in Havana an Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) and an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would enable the US Government to assist with development activities and to foster increased trade opportunities for both countries.."

And page 250: "In order to be prepared for a transition and to implement programs in the economic arena quickly, it would be prudent to establish a US Government Standing Committee for Economic Reconstruction (SCER), to act in coordination with the Department of State Transition Coordinator specifically on economic issues addressed in this report.

The SCER would meet as necessary to review reconstruction plans, ensure that appropriate agencies are prepared to implement programs immediately and to update programs as needs change or as a situation might dictate.

This committee should be made up of representatives from Commerce, State, USAID, Justice, SBA, OPIC, EXIM, Agriculture, HUD, USTR, and Treasury. Other agencies can be included as required. This Committee should be chairs at the Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) level with participation at the DAS or Office Director level, at participating agencies."

There should now be no doubt in anyone's mind that the outcome of a US transition to capitalism for Cuba would mean hunger, sickness, death, homelessness, poverty and despair for a people now well-fed, healthy, long-lived, well-educated, and with no homeless.

What the choice for Cuban people will be is manifest. It is left to the people of the United States to determine if they would attempt to do this, at the price, the Cubans, and ultimately, they would pay.

* The writer is an American translator and reporter for Prensa Latina.