Thursday, May 18, 2006

FLASH ANIMATION: 911 Strike on the Pentagon: No Evidence of a Boeing 757

Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha's My Lai

If you put Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha and I in a room together, we could probably identify with each other around our military experience, but we would agree on little else I'm afraid. If you accept the linear continuum model of political orientation (which I don't, but at least it's well known), then Murtha is center-right, and I am crimson-left.

That's precisely why this accolade I am about to write to his integrity can be taken seriously.

He is taking a lot of heat -- again -- for telling truths about the American war of conquest in Iraq.

On November 19th last year, a convoy fo Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines drove through the village of Haditha -- a Euphrates River farming town in northwestern Anbar Province of Iraq -- where they were hit with an impovised explosive device, killing Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. Fifteen Iraqi civilians were then killed by the Marines, who later claimed that the civilians were killed by the blast of the roadside bomb.

But in January 2006, Time Magazine went to the Pentagon with video footage of the scene and 28 eyewitness reports that suggested something else happened altogether. Those reports, photographs, and video made an extremely strong case that the Marines of Kilo Company went on a vengeance rampage, kicked in the doors of civilian homes, and slaughtered 15 people, including men, women, and small childen, two of adults being elderly grandparents.

The Time story went public in March 2006. Subsequent inquires, outside the military -- who insists it is still investigating -- have strongly supported the eyewitness reports.

There is some kind of unwritten protocol to give troops the benefit of the doubt beyond anything that would be reasonable for anyone else. Catharine MacKinnon writes, "Manners are often taken more seriously than politics. There’s a poltics to that."

If anyone in the United States were a suspect in 15 homicides, it's a pretty good bet they'd be in custody. It's also a pretty good bet that these guys are not.

Murtha is telling the public that the Pentagon investigation will show that the US Marines massacred civilians in Haditha in November 2005.

That is why I am grateful to Representative John Murtha for not adhering to what is considered good manners. He is not only defying the spineless and oportunistic Nancy Pelosi's directive to avoid the issue of the Iraq war, when he says saying we need to get our troops out of there pronto; he is now being very explicit about why. The fact that he is a former Marine with scar tissue from Vietnam only makes his public statement, that the result of the investigation will confirm a massacre at Haditha, discomfit the war-boosters of the right and the Schumer-Pelosi sales managers of the center that much more.

They know Murtha has an inside line to the Pentagon. That's why he prefigured the rebellion of the Generals earlier this year with his declaration last year that the aggression in Iraq is a disaster that will only improve by ending it. Murtha knows what I know, and a lot of veterans who are willing to tell the truth know. Imperial occupations are by their very nature -- in the words of Daniel Ellsberg -- atrocity producing situations.

The war in Iraq is an atrocity itself -- and no Democrat who fails to oppose it deserves to ever hold public office again.

The antagonism between the Iraqi population -- over 85% of whom want the US out -- and those whose job description is to "control" that population by any means necessary, is inherent, and therefore inescapable.

Murtha is going to take some serious heat on this. Our political culture abhors a non-conformist, and saying in a straightforward way that we need to backhaul US troops out of Iraq -- even though that is now a majority position -- is about as non-conformist as you get over there these days. Pointing out that the military behaves in ways that don't conform to our chauvinistic ideals of them is even more out of the box. So let there be no doubt: Murtha is now a target.

That means it is our responsibility to get his back. We have to write and call his office to thank him for his integrity. We have to write op-eds and letters to the editor rebutting the inevitable and hateful demogogy that will be leveled at him. We have to blog our approval, speak publicly of our approval, call radio programs and C-Span with our approval, and tell our own Representatives that he is the example we want them to emulate.

Why do we need to do this (oh yuck) lobbyish thing? For the same reason we need to bear down right this second with the same members of Congress to sink the Hayden nomination.

We have a government now running an imperial war that is reeling with corruption scandals, lying scandals, spying scandals, resignations, and the popularity of a roundworm infection. But they are still very big, and they are still very powerful, so we have to hit them over the head with clubs, throw sand in their eyes, bite their fingers, scratch, kick, and otherwise pummel them until they can't get up. The loss of the Hayden nomination combined with a My Lai massacre exposure are terrific blows against this crew’s ability to govern... and not just here, but out in the empire.

Get dirty. It's time.

Petroecuador takes over U.S. oilfields

The state-owned oil company Petroecuador today took over 100% of the oilfields belonging to U.S. transnational Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), after declaring that the company's contract with the State had expired, PL reported.

The U.S. oil company informed the previous evening that it had transferred all of its Block 15 operations to Petroecuador's control, and this Thursday a team of technicians will go to the wells of Limoncocha, in Sucumbíos province, to take over activities in those facilities.

According to Attorney General José Maria Borja, the official transfer was to go into effect this afternoon (May 18), given that the declaration of expiry becomes effective three days after it has been announced.

Fernando González, Petroecuador's president, said that the company's workers are trained to take over Oxy's fields and wells, although financing is needed.

In that respect, Energy Minister Iván Rodríguez, affirmed that resources generated by Oxy's production would be managed by the Ministry of Economy.

The Ministry of Economy has transferred more than $61 million to Petroecuador to date this year for financing fuel and other operating costs.

Diego Borja, minister of economy, emphasized that his ministry had assessed the investment, and that funds would be delivered so that production is not held up in what were formerly the fields of the US corporation.

Oxy presented an international lawsuit for arbitration against the Ecuador government for declaring the expiry of their contract after Oxy failed to request authorization in 2000 for transferring its stocks to Encana.

Enrique Proaño, the president's press secretary, warned that "this demand is groundless, because Ecuador has enforced the law."

National lawyers and experts warned that the action by Oxy lacks validity, given that Article 8 of their investment agreement excludes the possibility of arbitration when domestic laws are violated.

Nazi Ties, Grave Robbing and the Bush Family

It must be very difficult to become a healthy adult in a family with a history of multi-generational pathology. Normalcy must be an impossible goal to reach if your grandfather robbed bones from graves and then made money for and with Hitler's war machine.

The Bush family has all of the outward appearances of success. They are wealthy, white, except for Jeb's "little brown ones," hold powerful positions and can trace their ancestry back to the bluest blooded New Englanders. Most of them attended Yale, a prestigious institution of higher learning and more importantly a place that can guarantee entry into the rarified world of the American elite.

It has long been rumored that Yale's secret Skull and Bones society held Geronimo's bones. According to recent news accounts, not only does the Skull and Bones society hold Geronimo's remains, but they were stolen by a man named Prescott Bush, the current president's grandfather. Prescott Bush was stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in 1918. The Apache leader Geronimo was held at Fort Sill at the time of his death and was buried there. A recently unearthed letter from one Skull and Bones member to another alleges that Bush and a group of friends in his unit desecrated Geronimo's grave, stealing his skull and bones.

Prescott Bush went on to become a United States senator and progenitor of two future presidents. He also was a criminal. Granddaddy Bush was a director of Union Banking Corporation (UBC) in New York City. The assets of that bank were seized by the United States government in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemies Act. America’s enemy in 1942 was Hitler's Germany.

UBC was an investment bank owned by a bank that was controlled by the German Thyssen family. The federal government concluded that UBC shares, "are held for the benefit of ... members of the Thyssen family, [and] is property of nationals ... of a designated enemy country."

Fritz Thyssen wrote a book called, "I Paid Hitler." The seemingly cheesy title tells it all. Thyssen gave money directly to Adolf Hitler beginning in the 1920s. The Thyssen industrial empire relied on slave labor provided by the Nazis and they were Prescott Bush's business partners.

Is it truly surprising that George W. Bush displays such pathological behaviors of his own? He comes from a family that demonstrates a blatant disregard for the most basic moral norms. Prescott Bush was a traitor in war time and a grave desecrater. George W. stole his way into the presidency and is now prepared to risk confrontation with China, Russia and the rest of the world in order to use nuclear weapons against Iran. Not only would he fulfill the neocon dream of taking over the Middle East but he also hopes to stop his unprecedented slide in the polls and prevent being impeached.

Bush always felt entitled to get what he wanted. If granddad feels entitled to make money with a declared enemy during wartime, then the grandson will surely be entitled to become president by hook and crook and then inform us that he is the "decider" for us all.

When black people are in any way troubled, their family histories are dissected and examined. We hear endlessly about our "pathologies" and how they have made us worthless and are responsible for everything wrong with America.

We rarely hear about any other group being pathological. The Bush family certainly is. They are pathologically greedy and hungry for power. They aren't even very good at being a family. When George W. and Barbara Bush lost their three year old daughter to leukemia in 1953, they didn't even have a funeral. The Bushes gave her body to medical science and moved on. The worst, poorest, most supposedly pathological black family would not let a child leave this world without a funeral. The term pathological seems to be applied only to the down trodden.

The Bush family role in the founding of the Skull and Bones society is a horrific tale. Prescott and his pals not only thought it was amusing to desecrate a grave but to take the bones and use them in bizarre rituals to cement their claims to privilege.

Thousands of Americans beg, borrow and steal to pay for their children to go to Yale and schools like it and they have good reasons for doing so. The eastern elite institutions can give a leg up in climbing the social, economic and political ladder.

It is certainly important to the Bush clan. Outgoing CIA director Porter Goss, and Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, were both members of the same Yale fraternity as the president's uncle, William Bush. America is now ruled by the Skull and Bones society and Yale frat buddies. (If John Kerry had won we would still be ruled by Skull and Bones.)

In almost every culture on earth, it is considered a sin to desecrate a final resting place. Such actions bring misfortune, or so most people believe. It would be a shame if we all suffered because a bunch of Yalies thought it would be funny to steal a dead Indian's bones.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City. She can be reached via e-Mail at You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Sue Dow and Monsanto in US Court by Nguyen Ngoc and Aaron Glantz

[The American war in Southeast Asia featured the most widespread use of chemical warfare since World War I. Earlier, the British had resorted to chemicals in their colonies, Italy did so in Ethiopia, and Japan in China in the 1930s and 1940s. These were lethal chemicals where the Americans thought theirs were not. Iraq in the 1980s made the largest-scale known use of lethal chemical weapons in its Iran war and against its Kurdish minority. But two elements distinguished the U.S. effort in Vietnam. First, massive quantities of these chemicals were used, as the below article makes clear. The amounts cited are equivalent to roughly 60,000 tons of chemical agent. By comparison, in the 1972 Christmas Bombing of North Vietnam, which some hold to be the decisive air campaign of the war, and including both B-52 bombers and tactical aircraft, the Nixon administration loosed some 36,000 tons of munitions over Hanoi and its environs.

The Christmas Bombing of Hanoi

Second, the Americans resorted to chemicals with poorly understood effects. The main defoliants utilized by the U.S. in the Vietnam War, Agents Purple, Blue -- and, best known -- Agent Orange, contained ingredients found to be carcinogenic in studies by the U.S. National Cancer Institute in 1969 and subsequently banned from use in the United States.

There were two main propagating methods for the defoliant chemicals used in the Vietnam War. Operation Ranch Hand, which has garnered the most attention, was an aerial spraying initiative begun on an experimental basis in January 1962 and continued until January 7, 1971, though in its last years on a greatly reduced basis. In 1967, its peak year, Ranch Hand defoliated 1.2 million acres of land and dispensed 4.8 million gallons of chemicals. The other technique used vehicles and manual dispensers to defoliate land surrounding military bases, villages, and roads.

Manufacturers of these chemicals in the U.S. acknowledge no responsibility, but reached an out-of-court settlement with American veterans' groups as long ago as 1984, and the Veterans Administration in the United States awards disability status for validated claims of Agent Orange exposure. No doubt it is due to the huge liabilities that might flow from a successful claim that the chemical companies have so long resisted Vietnamese efforts to obtain similar redress. In the article here, Ngoc Nguyen and Aaron Glantz show some of the personal and societal consequences of the chemical war in Vietnam. ~John Prados]
HANOI -- Vietnam, which is bidding for World Trade Organization membership and is already signatory to a trade deal with its former nemesis in Washington, is still grappling with the huge social and economic consequences of its military conflict with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The legacy of the United States' use of Agent Orange tops that list. From 1962 to 1971, the US military dumped an estimated 83 million liters of highly toxic herbicides, including Agent Orange, mostly over Vietnam but also Laos and Cambodia, in an attempt to flush out jungle-covered guerrilla fighters. Agent Orange contained trace amounts of dioxin, a toxic substance known to cause cancer in humans at high doses. A group of alleged Vietnamese victims are the first to seek legal redress and compensation from the US companies, namely Dow Chemical and Monsanto Corp, that then manufactured the chemical. In their complaint filed in New York, they claimed the defoliant had caused widespread birth defects, miscarriages, diabetes and cancer, and should be considered a war crime against millions of Vietnamese. The chemical companies, for their part, have maintained that no such scientific link has ever been proved, and that the US government, not the companies, should be held responsible for how the chemical was deployed. A US judge this month threw out the case against the companies, ruling that there was no legal basis for the alleged victims' claims. The court had come under heavy lobbying from the US Justice Department to rule against the plaintiffs, because of Washington's fears of the legal precedent it would set in other countries ravaged by US military interventions. The Vietnamese veterans' association has appealed the ruling, and hearings in that appeal are to commence next month. The case is widely viewed as an important expression for Vietnam's still small but increasingly assertive grassroots movements. In Hanoi, an international conference this month examined the social impacts of the wartime herbicide -- a meeting that probably wouldn't have been possible without government support just a few years ago. Until now, research on the effects of the chemical has focused primarily on science that proves a link between dioxin exposure and numerous diseases. The veterans' group points to thousands of documented cases of birth defects. Consider the case of Nguyen Thi Thuy, who left her village when she was 22 to help build roads for the North Vietnamese Army during the war. She remembers crawling into tunnels during the day and covering her mouth with a wet rag when the US military sprayed the landscape with defoliant. 'I didn't know what it was then, but it was white,' she recalled. 'The sky and earth were scorched. The earth had lost all its greenery. We didn't know it was Agent Orange at that time.' Thuy returned home in 1975 and started a family. 'When my daughter was born, everyone could see through her stomach,' said Thuy. 'It was like looking through translucent paper. You could see her intestines and liver. She died several hours later.' Thuy had two more children -- one was normal and the other developmentally disabled -- but she would keep her guilt, shame and pain to herself until 2002. At a gathering of female veterans of the Vietnam War, she met others who had suffered miscarriages and had given birth to malformed babies. Thuy is one of the lucky ones. Most Vietnamese people exposed to Agent Orange receive little or no specialized health care from the government. Thuy is one of only a hundred victims receiving treatment at Friendship Village, a clinic 20 kilometers outside Hanoi funded by American and other foreign veterans of the war. The Vietnamese government, which for decades publicly documented the impact of Agent Orange on civilian populations at its War Crimes Museum in Hanoi, recently toned down the exhibition in line with a warming trend in relations with Washington. However, where the Vietnamese government has gone quiet, grassroots movements are taking up the cause with renewed vigor. In 2004, the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange sued 36 US companies that manufactured and supplied the defoliant during the war. Thuy's story resembles many of the personal stories documented by researchers at the Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development. The grassroots group is working to bring more and more people's stories out of the war's shadow. 'Nowadays, people talk more about Agent Orange, because we have the lawsuit,' said Pham Kim Ngoc, deputy director of the non-governmental group, which organized last month's two-day conference. Environmental scientist Vo Quy, a consultant on the lawsuit who traveled to central and south Vietnam in 1970 and 1974 to study the impacts of Agent Orange, said he found victims suffering silently. 'In Vietnam, people with deformed children [fear] that neighbors [would] believe the family did something immoral in order to have deformed children -- to have compassion for children, they didn't tell anyone,' said Quy. Quy continued: 'If they say their children were exposed to Agent Orange, then the stigma will transfer to children and they would not be able to get married, so they hid it. The government did not want to publicize it, because the victims had suffered enough. If people knew about Agent Orange-related illnesses, later the victims would suffer more stigma and shame.' Tran Thi Hoa served from 1973 to 1976 and spent one year in Laos. After her service, she returned home, but never married. The 51-year-old seamstress said she always thought about work and never thought about finding a husband. Now, she's afraid she'll have no one to care for her when her parents die. 'After I was discharged, I was healthy,' recalled Hoa tearfully. 'It wasn't until 27 years later that I started to get sick and my hands and feet started to curl outward and shrivel up. Before, my hands and feet were not like this. I was able to work, but now I can't. I can't even take care of myself.' As more Vietnamese become aware of the consequences of Agent Orange, they are voicing their experiences and expressing their expectations and needs through global channels. Hoa said she'd like to receive compensation so she can hire an attendant to take care of her for the rest of her life. Thuy, meanwhile, wants to know who will take care of her disabled children when she's gone. And there are tens of thousands of other questions Vietnamese are just now finding the voice to ask their former US adversaries. This article appeared in Asia Times on March 20, 2006. Aaron Glantz is a reporter for Pacific Radio and author of How America Lost Iraq. John Prados is a senior analyst with the National Security Archive. His recent books are Hoodwinked: The Documents that Show How Bush Sold Us a War and Inside the Pentagon Papers.

The Extraordinary Rise of a “True Democracy” by John Pilger

I have spent the past three weeks filming in the hillside barrios of Caracas, in streets and breezeblock houses that defy gravity and torrential rain and emerge at night like fireflies in the fog. Caracas is said to be one of the world's toughest cities, yet I have known no fear; the poorest have welcomed my colleagues and me with a warmth characteristic of ordinary Venezuelans but also with the unmistakable confidence of a people who know that change is possible and who, in their everyday lives, are reclaiming noble concepts long emptied of their meaning in the west: "reform", "popular democracy", "equity", "social justice" and, yes, "freedom".

The other night, in a room bare except for a single fluorescent tube, I heard these words spoken by the likes of Ana Lucia Fernandez, aged 86, Celedonia Oviedo, aged 74, and Mavis Mendez, aged 95. A mere 33-year-old, Sonia Alvarez, had come with her two young children. Until about a year ago, none of them could read and write; now they are studying mathematics. For the first time in its modern era, Venezuela has almost 100 per cent literacy.

This achievement is due to a national program, called Mision Robinson, designed for adults and teenagers previously denied an education because of poverty. Mision Ribas is giving everyone a secondary school education, called a bachillerato. (The names Robinson and Ribas refer to Venezuelan independence leaders from the 19th century). Named, like much else here, after the great liberator Simon Bolivar, "Bolivarian", or people's, universities have opened, introducing as one parent told me, "treasures of the mind, history and music and art, we barely knew existed." Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuela is the first major oil producer to use its oil revenue to liberate the poor.

Mavis Mendez has seen, in her 95 years, a parade of governments preside over the theft of tens of billions of dollars in oil spoils, much of it flown to Miami, together with the steepest descent into poverty ever known in Latin America; from 18 per cent in 1980 to 65 per cent in 1995, three years before Chavez was elected. "We didn't matter in a human sense," she said. "We lived and died without real education and running water, and food we couldn't afford. When we fell ill, the weakest died. In the east of the city, where the mansions are, we were invisible, or we were feared. Now I can read and write my name, and so much more; and whatever the rich, and their media say, we have planted the seeds of true democracy, and I am full of joy that I have lived to witness it."

Latin American governments often give their regimes a new sense of legitimacy by holding a constituent assembly that drafts a new constitution. When he was elected in 1998, Chavez used this brilliantly to decentralize, to give the impoverished grassroots power they had never known and to begin to dismantle a corrupt political superstructure as a prerequisite to changing the direction of the economy. His setting-up of missions as a means of bypassing saboteurs in the old, corrupt bureaucracy was typical of the extraordinary political and social imagination that is changing Venezuela peacefully. This is his "Bolivarian revolution", which, at this stage, is not dissimilar to the post-war European social democracies.

Chavez, a former army major, was anxious to prove he was not yet another military "strongman". He promised that his every move would be subject to the will of the people. In his first year as president in 1999, he held an unprecedented number of votes: a referendum on whether or not people wanted a new constituent assembly; elections for the assembly; a second referendum ratifying the new constitution -- 71 per cent of the people approved each of the 396 articles that gave Mavis and Celedonia and Ana Lucia, and their children and grandchildren, unheard of freedoms, such as Article 123, which for the first time recognized the human rights of mixed-race and black people, of whom Chavez is one. "The indigenous peoples," it says, "have the right to maintain their own economic practices, based on reciprocity, solidarity and exchange... and to define their priorities..." The little red book of the Venezuelan constitution became a bestseller on the streets. Nora Hernandez, a community worker in Petare barrio, took me to her local state-run supermarket, which is funded entirely by oil revenue and where prices are up to half those in the commercial chains. Proudly, she showed me articles of the constitution written on the backs of soap power packets. "We can never go back," she said.

In La Vega barrio, I listened to a nurse, Mariella Machado, a big round black woman of 45 with a wonderfully wicked laugh, stand and speak at an urban land council on subjects ranging from homelessness to the Iraq war. That day, they were launching Mision Madres de Barrio, a program aimed specifically at poverty among single mothers. Under the constitution, women have the right to be paid as carers, and can borrow from a special women's bank. From next month, the poorest housewives will get about 120 pounds [approximately US$284] a month. It is not surprising that Chavez has now won eight elections and referendums in eight years, each time increasing his majority, a world record. He is the most popular head of state in the western hemisphere, probably in the world.

That is why he survived, amazingly, a Washington-backed coup in 2002. Mariella and Celedonia and Nora and hundreds of thousands of others came down from the barrios and demanded that the army remain loyal. "The people rescued me," Chavez told me. "They did it with all the media against me, preventing even the basic facts of what had happened. For popular democracy in heroic action, I suggest you need look no further."

The venomous attacks on Chávez, who is on a private visit to London this month, have begun and resemble uncannily those of the privately owned Venezuelan television and press, which called for the elected government to be overthrown. Fact-deprived attacks on Chavez in the Times and the Financial Times this week, each with that peculiar malice reserved for true dissenters from Thatcher's and Blair's "one true way", follow a travesty of journalism on Channel Four News last month, which effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The reporter sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Chavez as a sinister buffoon, while Donald Rumsfeld was allowed to liken him to Hitler, unchallenged. In contrast, Tony Blair, a patrician with no equivalent democratic record, having been elected by a fifth of those eligible to vote and caused the violent death of tens of thousands of Iraqis, is allowed to continue spinning his truly absurd political survival tale.

Chávez is, of course, a threat, especially to the United States. Like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who based their revolution on the English co-operative moment, and the moderate Allende in Chile, he offers the threat of an alternative way of developing a decent society: in other words, the threat of a good example in a continent where the majority of humanity has long suffered a Washington-designed peonage. In the US media in the 1980s, the "threat" of tiny Nicaragua was seriously debated until it was crushed. Venezuela is clearly being "softened up" for something similar. A US army publication, Doctrine for Asymetric War against Venezuela, describes Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution as the "largest threat since the Soviet Union and Communism". When I said to Chavez that the US historically had had its way in Latin America, he replied: "Yes, and my assassination would come as no surprise. But the empire is in trouble, and the people of Venezuela will resist an attack. We ask only for the support of all true democrats".

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His newest book, Freedom Next Time, will be published in June by Bantam Press. Visit John Pilger's website: Thanks to Michelle Hunt at Granada Media.

Forbes Magazine "Psyops" for Pentagon and "terrorist scum in Miami"

Investor of the Century: Fidel Castro

A comment to the item below led me to Google to investigate Forbes Magazine's ludicrous claims of the alleged personal wealth of Fidel Castro. It's an absolutely remarkable story (emphasis on the word "story").

In 2003, Forbes estimated Castro's "wealth" at $110 million

In 2005, $550 million

And in 2006, $900 million!!!

Warren Buffett, move over! Fidel's got your rate of return beat by a mile! At least he would, if Forbes were a magazine purveying facts rather than fairy tales.

For the record, Fidel claims, and there isn't the slightest evidence to the contrary, that his net worth is nil. Here are the kind of "facts" Forbes includes in its "analysis": "Travels exclusively in a convoy of black Mercedes-Benzes. Sold state-owned Havana Club rum to French liquor giant Pernod Ricard for $50 million in 1993." Yes, I'm sure he does travel in nice cars. Which are owned by the state, just like the ones George Bush travels in (different state). Pernod did pay for Havana Club, although without further investigation, I'm pretty sure that was for the rights to produce and sell the product overseas, not for Havana Club itself. But in any case, whatever they paid went, naturally, straight to the Cuban treasury, not to some secret Swiss bank account.

I'd say "you'd think they could do better," but the fact is, they can't. That's as "good" as the slander they can come up with. But no matter, because now the corporate media are dutifully repeating, without elaboration (which would be embarassing), that Fidel Castro is "worth" $900 million. After all, Forbes says so.

Venezuela to Replace U.S. F-16 Fighters With Russian Su-35s

Venezuela is considering replacing its contingent of U.S.-built F-16 multi-role fighters with Russian Su-35s, a high-ranking Venezuelan general was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

"We are considering procurement of Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft to replace the F-16s, after the United States banned weapons exports to Venezuela," Venezuelan General Staff official General Alberto Muller Rojas said. "At the moment the Su-35 is world’s best multi-role fighter."

The United States announced a ban on arms sales to Venezuela May 15. The U.S. State Department accuses the South American country of having an intelligence-sharing relationship with Iran and Cuba, both of which the U.S. says are state sponsors of terrorism.

The sanctions against Venezuela, a major U.S. oil supplier, come after years of antagonism between the leftist Venezuelan president and the White House, on issues ranging from trade to oil prices, which have dragged ties to their worst state in decades, website reports.

President Hugo Chavez has accused the United States of breaching an agreement to supply parts for Venezuela's F-16s.

Rojas, a military advisor close to Chavez, said the possibility of procurement of Russian fighter Su-35 had previously been discussed with Moscow, but that the White House’s decision to stop supplying spare parts for U.S. aircraft had given fresh impetus to the talks.

General Alberto Muller Rojas, said earlier he had recommended to the defense ministry that Venezuela consider selling its F-16s after the U.S. announced a ban on arms sales to the country. Muller said he thought it worthwhile to consider "the feasibility of a negotiation with Iran for the sale of those planes."

But the Defense Minister's spokesperson said that this was Muller’s personal opinion only and that he "is not a spokesman of the armed forces," Chicago Tribune daily newspaper reports.

The Iranian Embassy in Caracas said no deal involving warplanes had been proposed.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Monday that the United States would not allow Venezuela to sell the planes to Iran.

Under U.S. arms-sales contracts, "you can't transfer these defense articles, in this case, F-16s, to a third country," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "And I would expect that even if such a request were made that [permission] would not be forthcoming from the U.S. Government."

The U.S. and Venezuela signed a contract on the F-16s in 1982, and Venezuela does not have the right to re-sell its F-16s under the terms of that contract. However, Rojas said the U.S. had broken the agreement unilaterally, so Venezuela considered itself free not to comply with its obligations.

Charlie Sheen's Pentagon Questions Remain Unanswered

Charlie Sheen's Pentagon Questions Remain Unanswered
News anchors claimed new footage would 'shut him up' then looked disappointed as a few grainy images were played

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones/Prison | May 17 2006

Amidst the back slapping and salivating that preceded the release of the 'astounding' new images from the Pentagon, Fox News and others took the opportunity to bash Charlie Sheen one more time, claiming that the hot new footage they were about to play would shut him up for good.

When the images finally were released after two hours of lavish build-up, the noticeable disappointment of the Fox anchors betrayed the fact that these people probably like to drive slow past bloody car wrecks. The 'footage' if it can even be described as that does not show a large commercial airliner and if anything is worse than what we already had.

It certainly does not answer any of the questions Charlie Sheen asked on the Alex Jones Show back in March.

"Show us this incredible maneuvering, just show it to us. Just show us how this particular plane pulled off these maneuvers. 270 degree turn at 500 miles and hour descending 7,000 feet in two and a half minutes, skimming across treetops the last 500 meters," said Sheen.

"I understand in the interest of national security that maybe not release the Pentagon cameras but what about the Sheraton, what about the gas station, what about the Department of Transportation freeway cam? What about all these shots that had this thing perfectly documented? Instead they put out five frames that they claim not to have authorized, it's really suspicious."

The FBI seized no less than 84 separate video tapes from cameras dotted around the Pentagon area under national security and refuses to release them to this day, despite claiming that none of the tapes show Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon.

A FOIA request for the release of all 84 tapes has been made and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit but the government is clinging onto those tapes.

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Why won't the government release the tapes if they don't show anything? Perhaps the answer is in the question.

On the other hand the government could be lying (surely not!) and the tapes could contain crystal clear footage of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon. In an attempt to debunk the entire issue, this footage would be held back and released at a convenient time to coincide with the crescendo of the 9/11 truth movement. It is important to warn 9/11 researchers of this possibility and carry it as a proviso whenever discussion of Flight 77 is aired.

The only thing we can say for certain is that the smug news anchors and editorials out today, including one from the Washington Times which claims the footage 'dispels conspiracy theories,' have egg all over their faces for hyping this footage when in reality it is nothing more than a few foggy moments that will only lead to increased speculation as to what exactly happened at the Pentagon.

Bowing To The Police State by Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Is Congress aiding and abetting the creation of a police state? Recently, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., helped to give the CIA and NSA unprecedented police powers. By inserting a provision in the FY07 Intelligence Authorization Act, Hoekstra has undermined the existing statutory limits on involvement in domestic law enforcement. This comes after revelations in January of direct NSA involvement with the Baltimore police in order to "protect" the NSA Headquarters from Quaker protesters. Add to this, the disquieting news that the White House has been barraging the CIA with totally improper questions about the political affiliation of some of its senior intelligence officers, the ever widening use of polygraph examinations, and the FBI's admission that it acquires phone records of broadcast and print media to investigate leaks at the CIA. I, for one, am reminded of my service in the police state of the U.S.S.R., where there were no First or Fourth Amendments. Like the proverbial frog in slowly boiling water, we have become inured to what goes on in the name of national security. Recent disclosures about increased government surveillance and illegal activities would be shocking, were it not for the prevailing outrage-fatigue brought on by a long train of abuses. But the heads of the civilian, democratically elected institutions that are supposed to be our bulwark against an encroaching police state, the ones who stand to lose their own power as well as their rights and the rights of all citizens, aren't interested in reigning in the power of the intelligence establishment. To the contrary, Rep. Hoekstra and his counterpart at the Senate, Pat Roberts, R.-Kan., are running the risk of whiplash as they pivot to look the other way.


Add Cuba and Venezuela to the list of countries that knew of and informed the Bush administration about a "major terrorist attack" prior to 911. In addition to Russia, Jordan, France, Germany, and other nations, Venezuelan and Cuban intelligence picked up chatter about a "major terrorist attack" on the United States prior to 911. Cuban intelligence, which has an extensive network in Florida -- a home base of the hijackers and their handlers -- initially picked up reports about the attack and passed the information to both the United States and Venezuela. However, the Bush administration failed to react to this and other foreign warnings. Venezuelan intelligence, likely from its own sources in Florida and elsewhere, confirmed that something major would occur in the United States. The failure of the Bush administration to heed these warnings coupled with subsequent intelligence picked up by the Cuban and Venezuelan security services have led them to conclude that 9-11 was carried out as a result of an "inside job" within the Bush administration. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to hold an international 9-11 commission of inquiry in Caracas that will bring together a host of international government, security, and political leaders. Already, preliminary meetings in Caracas for the conference have attracted the attention of the FBI. Recently, an FBI agent asked for the guest list of a hotel on Margarita island to check on names of guests, including Americans, associated with the preliminary planning meetings for the conference.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Presidente Chávez: La Revolución Bolivariana es un proceso irreversible.

Presidente Chávez: La Revolución Bolivariana es un proceso irreversible.

El presidente Hugo Chávez aseguró que América Latina ha dejado de ser vanguardia, pues las vanguardias son muy golpeadas y chocan primero con el adversario, además de que tratan de eliminarlas, "como a nosotros nos han tratado de eliminar, nos trataron de eliminar; ya no van a poder: la Revolución Bolivariana es un proceso irreversible". El jefe de Estado recordó cómo hace siete años la mayoría de los países de América Latina cantaban al unísono la canción del neoliberalismo, y aseguró que eso ha cambiado. "No había alguien, un jefe de Estado que se parara a decir algo distinto o más o menos distinto al consenso de Washington, así llamada la tesis que fue diseñada a la caída de la Unión Soviética y del muro de Berlí". El primer mandatario nacional dijo que a Latinoamérica le fue aplicada una sobredosis de neoliberalismo. La tesis del libre mercado que todo lo arregla, casi que como Dios, una mano invisible que todo lo arregla. Esa mano invisible no es que todo lo arregla: todo lo destruye al final. Hay que salirle al frente a la tesis del libre mercado, es un farsa, es una gran mentira, es un imposible". El presidente Hugo Chávez invitó a defender la tesis del comercio justo. "A mí me acusan de que yo estoy en contra del comercio. Sería un imbécil si estuviera en contra del comercio, el comercio es propio de la actividad humana". El jefe de Estado aclaró que no está en contra del comercio, sino de la tesis y la praxis del libre mercado. El primer mandatario nacional aseguró que el libre comercio es una trampa de los países más poderosos para continuar esclavizando a los más débiles, y precisó que defiende la tesis del comercio justo entre los pueblos y las naciones, en libertad pero en justicia.Para el jefe de Estado la libertad y la igualdad deben ser hermanas inseparables para que haya justicia, y expuso la fórmula matemática en la cual señaló que la justicia es el resultado de libertad por igualdad, y precisó que si la libertad es 100 y la igualdad cero, se tendrá una justicia igual a cero. Todos apuntamos en la misma dirección: la batalla por la causa de la humanidad" Presidente Hugo Chávez "Es matemático pero es filosófico, es real, es verdad, es la demostración de lo que hemos vivido en el mundo, de la tragedia universal. Eso lo han entendido muchos en el mundo, sólo que uno de los grandes líderes de esa tesis murió crucificado allá en la montaña: Jesús de Nazareth". El presidente Chávez citó a Juan Jacobo Rousseau, quien decía que entre el poderoso y el débil, la libertad oprime: sólo la ley libera. "Viva la ley justa que libera a los pueblos. Leyes justas para regular, pera frenar al poderoso y proteger al débil". El primer mandatario nacional recordó las palabras de Bolívar en el Congreso de Angostura, que hablaba de la suprema igualdad social, y agregó que sólo así puede haber sociedad, colectividad, comunidad."Lo demás sería una selva, ¡sálvese quien pueda! Que es la selva universal que hoy tenemos. Algunos hablan de la "aldea global", no es una aldea global, es una selva global, donde se está cumpliendo una de las tesis de Charles Darwin: la sobrevivencia del más fuerte". El jefe de Estado indicó que en la actualidad los pueblos han despertado y siguen las posiciones marcadas por Cuba y Venezuela. "Cada país tiene sus particularidades, esa es otra cosa importante de decir; y eso nosotros lo respetamos y tenemos que respetarlo". El presidente Chávez precisó que los críticos de la derecha tratan de minimizar la Revolución Bolivariana y la inteligencia del pueblo venezolano, diciendo a los pueblos de América Latina que en Venezuela se hace lo que en Cuba se decide. "Cuba es Cuba y su circunstancia, Fidel es Fidel y su circunstancia, Venezuela es Venezuela y su circunstancia, Chávez es Chávez y su circunstancia, la Revolución Cubana es la Revolución Cubana, la Revolución Bolivariana es la Revolución Bolivariana, Evo Morales es Evo y su circunstancia, Bolivia es Bolivia y su circunstancia; pero todos apuntamos en la misma dirección: la batalla por la causa de la humanidad, con variantes"

La conciencia es combustible esencial en toda revolución:

El primer mandatario nacional señaló que en Venezuela lo primero que creció fue la conciencia, y acotó que ésta es combustible para que los cambios ocurran. Durante su discurso el jefe de Estado trajo a colación un pasaje de la obra Los Miserables, de Víctor Hugo, donde un hombre que luchó en la Revolución Francesa le dice al obispo, tras la pregunta que éste le hizo sobre la conciencia: "La conciencia, señor obispo, no es sino la suma de las ciencias, el conocimiento". El jefe de Estado indicó que para hacer crecer la conciencia es necesaria la educación verdadera, la educación para liberar; no educación para oprimir, para confundir, para envenenar la mente de los niños o de los jóvenes o de los pueblos. "No la educación que nos lanzan con veneno, que no es educación, por supuesto, pero es el veneno que nos lanzan la gran mayoría de los medios de comunicación mundial de hoy; y ésa es una de las taras más profundas que tiene la humanidad, el manejo de la información".

Leaked Report: Drug Traffickers Obtained Classified DEA Documents from U.S. Embassy in Bogota "At Will"

Please Distribute Widely

Dear Colleague,

A major piece of the puzzle of U.S. law enforcement in Colombia
corruption has fallen into place. An anonymous source has leaked to
Narco News correspondent Bill Conroy a report from the Drug
Enforcement Administration that further strengthens allegations of
DEA and other agents collaborating with Colombian drug traffickers
and paramilitaries. It also makes some surprising claims about the
U.S.-sponsored drug crop fumigation program.

The report summarizes the results of a lie detector test performed on
a narco-trafficker who worked as an informant for the DEA. The narco
told the DEA that he received dozens of confidential documents from
the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá. Among the most startling revelations in
the document, which is available for download from Narco News, is this:

"One of the charges leveled in this recently uncovered document is
that 'narco-traffickers knew a day in advance, with coordinates, when
DEA/CNP [Colombian National Police] were going to fumigate the
marijuana/coca fields. Thus, they were always prepared to protect the

While poor peasants in the Colombian countryside watch their
livelihoods destroyed as U.S. and Colombian government planes
fumigate entire rural communities, U.S. government agents were
apparently helping the rich, powerful mafia leaders to protect their
own interests.

Conroy had already reported in a previous story that such a report
existed, but sources had told him that DEA superiors hid the results
and told the staffer who performed the test not to speak of his
findings. Indeed, in the report itself, man who performed the test
writes that he believes more questioning of the drug trafficker is in
order, but that the DEA "decided not to conduct any further polygraph

In the wake of Narco News' publishing of the orignal "Kent Memo" -
which blew the lid off the DEA's cover-up of corruption allegations -
an agency spokesman called the accusations "unfounded." Well, Conroy
continues to lay that foundation brick by brick, and the Washington
spin doctors are having a harder and harder time trying to pretend
that such overwhelming evidence does not exist.

In the last 100 years, the U.S. has ousted the governments of at least 14 countries and forcibly intervened in dozens of others -- to what end?

U.S. history lesson: stop meddling
In the last 100 years, the U.S. has ousted the governments of at least 14 countries and forcibly intervened in dozens of others -- to what end?

THE UNITED STATES is facing a major crisis in Iran, where the clerical regime, despite its denials, is evidently embarked on an effort to develop nuclear weapons. Because American leaders say they will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, this has led to intense speculation that the Bush administration is preparing a military attack.

History suggests, however, that such an attack would have disastrous long-term consequences. Iranians know as well as anyone how terribly wrong such foreign interventions can go.

Iran was an incipient democracy in 1953, but Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh — chosen by an elected parliament and hugely popular among Iranians — angered the West by nationalizing his country's oil industry. President Eisenhower sent the CIA to depose him. The coup was successful, but it set the stage for future disaster.

The CIA placed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi back on the Peacock Throne. His repressive rule led, 25 years later, to the Islamic Revolution. That revolution brought to power a clique of bitterly anti-Western mullahs who have spent the decades since working intensely, and sometimes violently, to undermine U.S. interests around the world.

If the Eisenhower administration had refrained from direct intervention against Iran in 1953, this religious regime probably would never have come to power. There would be no nuclear crisis. Iran might instead have become a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim Middle East.

Overthrowing a government is like releasing a wheel at the top of a hill — you have no idea exactly what will happen next. Iranians are not the only ones who know this. In slightly more than a century, the United States has overthrown the governments of at least 14 countries, beginning with the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and forcibly intervened in dozens more. Long before Afghanistan and Iraq, there were the Philippines, Panama, South Vietnam and Chile, among others.

Most of these interventions not only have brought great pain to the target countries but also, in the long run, weakened American security.

Cuba, half a world away from Iran, is a fine example. In 1898, the United States sent troops there to help rebels overthrow Spanish colonial rule. Once victory was secured, the U.S. reneged on its promise to allow Cuba to become independent and turned it into a protectorate.

More than 60 years later, in his first speech as leader of the victorious Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro recalled that episode and made a promise. "This time," he vowed, "it will not be like 1898, when the Americans came in and made themselves masters of the country."

Those words suggest that perhaps if the U.S. had allowed Cuba to go its own way in 1898, the entire phenomenon of Castro communism might never have emerged.

The U.S. deposed a visionary leader of Nicaragua, Jose Santos Zelaya, in 1909 and sent his unlucky country into a long spiral of repression and rebellion.

Forty-five years later, still believing that "regime change" can end well, the U.S. overthrew the left-leaning president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, and imposed a military regime. That regime's brutality set off a 30-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands died.

Today, Latin America and the Middle East are the regions of the world in the most open political rebellion against U.S. policies. It is no coincidence that these are the regions where the U.S. has intervened most often. Resentment over intervention festers. It passes from generation to generation. Ultimately it produces a backlash.

Countries that have been victimized by past interventions are especially determined to resist future ones. Iran is one of these. Over the last 200 years, the British, Russians and Americans have sought to dominate and exploit Iran. If the U.S. intervenes there now, it will face the pent-up anger many Iranians harbor against all outside powers.

Some in Washington evidently believe that it is worth trying to set off upheaval in Iran because any new regime there would be an improvement.

This is a dangerous gamble, as intervention would strengthen the most radical factions in Iran. Militants, including the bombastic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would use it as an excuse to crack down on dissent. That could lead to a wave of repression, produce a regime more dangerously anti-American than the current one and set back the cause of Iranian democracy by another generation.

This looming crisis might be resolved by direct and unconditional negotiations between Washington and Tehran, but American leaders refuse to bargain with the mullahs. The trauma of the Islamic Revolution, and the hostage crisis that followed it, left a deep scar on the American political psyche — so deep that it prevents the U.S. from engaging Iran in ways that could have great benefits for American security.

Yet far from being doomed to conflict, these two proud nations are potential allies. Both want to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, assure the free flow of Middle East oil and crush radical Sunni movements like the Taliban and Al Qaeda. What prevents talks from materializing is the deep resentment both sides feel over past interventions.

Iran has intervened across the Middle East, sometimes using the extreme weapon of terror, to attack U.S. interests. For its part, the U.S. intervened to crush Iranian democracy in 1953, imposed the shah and supported his repressive rule for 25 years.

The cure for the effects of past intervention is not more intervention. Given the seriousness of the nuclear crisis with Iran, American leaders should put aside their self-defeating and increasingly dangerous refusal to negotiate. The alternative may be violent intervention in Iran. Americans have tried that before. The results would be no happier this time.

STEPHEN KINZER, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is the author of "All the Shah's Men," about the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran, and, most recently, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq."

Petrobrás deve perder os anéis, mas não irá perder os dedos

Falso nacionalismo emperra negociações com a Bolívia

A nacionalização do gás na Bolívia trouxe de volta as especulações quanto a uma futura falta de energia e as discussões sobre a política energética. Nesse número, o físico e ex-presidente da Eletrobrás Luiz Pinguelli Rosa comenta, dentre outros, a atual crise com a Bolívia e a importância do gás natural na matriz energética brasileira.

Para Pinguelli, é preciso separar o caso da Petrobrás da questão do gás. Quanto à estatal brasileira, uma vez tendo decidido por comprar refinarias e postos de gasolina na Bolívia, que eram ativos já existentes naquele país, deverá agora arcar com perdas inevitáveis: “temos que perder os anéis e manter os dedos”, diz Pinguelli, ressalvando que se trata de perda irrisória uma vez que as operações na Bolívia representam cerca de 1% do valor da empresa. No que diz respeito ao gás, o importante, não somente para o Brasil, como também para a Bolívia, seria negociar, reconhecendo inclusive que o preço do gás natural tende a subir devido a preço do petróleo. Nessa tarefa, Pinguelli alerta para os crescentes entraves impostos pela mídia e seus sócios conservadores: “a imprensa brasileira tem atiçado muito os ânimos, com um nacionalismo falso – nunca foram nacionalistas em relação aos Estados Unidos, e engolimos tudo quanto foi sapo. Agora, querem ser nacionalistas, defensores da Petrobrás em relação à Bolívia. Vejo essa atitude, de neonacionalismo neoliberal, com muita precaução”.

A despeito da existência de uma crise escondida, relacionada à geração de energia pelas termoelétricas, o ex-presidente da Eletrobrás não se diz nada alarmado com perspectivas de desabastecimento e de aumento de preços: a Bolívia não deverá suspender suas exportações e há extensa margem de manobra para se mexer nos preços aos consumidores a partir das altíssimas margens de lucro das distribuidoras. Pinguelli salienta, no entanto, a posição ainda primordial da hidroeletricidade, bem mais importante que o gás natural em nossa matriz energética.

Da Itália e Garotinho a Morales, PT e Varig - por Frei Betto

Retorno ao Brasil após maratona de palestras na Itália: Aosta, Modena, Bolzano, Pistoia, Morbegno e Misano. Encontrei uma Itália dividida. Embora o voto não seja obrigatório, mais de 80% dos eleitores posicionaram-se em torno dos nomes de Berlusconi e Prodi. Venceu Prodi, candidato de centro-esquerda, pela exígua vantagem de 25 mil votos.

A tensão eleitoral reflete a social. A Europa Ocidental chegou ao topo de seu bem-estar. O futuro se lhe delineia como um plano inclinado, já que não cria progresso científico e tecnológico. Usufrui dos avanços protagonizados pelos EUA. Em 2005 a Itália teve crescimento zero.

Um operário da Fiat de Betim (MG) ganha por mês o que se paga por dois dias de trabalho a um operário da Fiat de Turim. Em busca de maior margem de lucro, as indústrias se deslocam para países fornecedores de mão-de-obra barata. Resta ao europeu o capital especulativo engordado por essa estranha alquimia econômica que transforma o Terceiro Mundo em exportador de capital, amealhado por um sistema financeiro anabolizado por contas secretas que acobertam fortunas escusas e criminosas.

Hoje, o europeu ocidental desfruta de uma qualidade de vida jamais conhecida pelas gerações anteriores. Mas não o faz impunemente. Embora haja fila para adquirir um carro Ferrari no valor de 600 mil euros (cerca de R$ 1,5 milhão), não há rede de proteção social que suporte o peso de tantos desempregados, devido aos avanços tecnológicos, e tantos aposentados, graças à dilatação da média de expectativa de vida.

Esse direito é extensivo aos imigrantes, inclusive aos que chegaram há pouco, fugidos da miséria, sem que tenham contribuído durante anos para o sistema previdenciário. Eis que se atiça a xenofobia. Na Europa Ocidental, com exceção dos turistas, os de fora não são bem-vindos. Sobretudo aqueles nos quais o crescente preconceito identifica potenciais terroristas.

Na Itália, Berlusconi simboliza o dinheiro farto, a ostentação do europeu que, abastecido de rendas, se dá a um requinte outrora só desfrutado pelos nobres. Na Enoteca Pinchiorri, o melhor restaurante de Florença, o prato mais barato custa o equivalente a R$ 460. E há filas para a reserva.

Prodi significa que o sonho acabou. E se não quiser resvalar para o plano inclinado, o italiano deve começar a preocupar-se com o futuro no qual o capital produtivo tenha precedência sobre o especulativo. Há que tomar distância dos EUA; aproximar-se de Zapatero, chefe do governo espanhol; trazer de volta as tropas italianas no Iraque; encarar de frente o desafio ecológico; promover reformas nas instituições.

Constatei grande interesse pelos ventos democráticos que sopram na América Latina. Os eleitores de Prodi torcem pela reeleição de Lula, conscientes do papel estratégico do Brasil no Continente.


O ex-governador do Rio faz greve de fome. Fiz duas quando preso político, uma por seis dias e a segunda por 36. Estávamos numa ditadura, na qual oposicionistas eram tratados como terroristas, e havia mortos e desaparecidos. Hoje as instituições democráticas funcionam relativamente bem. Tanto que Garotinho, que já foi PT, PDT e agora é PMDB, se elegeu governador e fez eleger a mulher para o mesmo cargo. A atitude de Garotinho é ridícula. Quem faz greve de fome fecha a boca. Mas a dele precisa se abrir para explicar as denúncias em torno de sua pré-candidatura à presidência.


Evo Morales fez o que o Brasil devia ter feito ao criar a Petrobrás, nos anos 50: nacionalizou a produção e a comercialização do gás boliviano. É um direito de soberania. O Brasil deixou a comercialização do petróleo em mãos de empresas estrangeiras. Em cada esquina, um posto de origem estadunidense.

A Bolívia tem 70% de sua população vivendo com uma renda per capita/dia inferior a dois dólares. E Morales apenas cumpre sua promessa de campanha. Não fez demagogia, como se o seu nacionalismo fosse apenas para efeito de marketing eleitoral. O governo boliviano não estatizou as empresas estrangeiras que operam no país. Exige, porém, controle acionário. O Brasil compra, por dia, cerca de 25 milhões de metros cúbicos de gás natural da Bolívia e paga por ano apenas US$ 800 milhões. Quem acha que Morales exagera, dê uma olhada nas leis dos EUA, da Inglaterra e da França, que defendem a exploração e comercialização dos recursos naturais daqueles países. E ninguém ousa acusar o trio de desrespeitar “direitos internacionais”. Antes de respeitar as “leis do mercado”, um governo tem a obrigação de respeitar e proteger os direitos da nação. Chega de neocolonialismo!


O PT decidiu, em seu encontro nacional, não apurar as responsabilidades de seus parlamentares acusados de receber “dinheiro não-contabilizado”… Ou melhor, promete que o fará após as eleições, mas sem tratar de casos individuais. O mesmo partido que expulsou companheiros(as) por razões políticas agora se recusa a sequer investigar os que são suspeitos de transgredir a lei e a ética. E o faz em nome da prioridade de reeleger Lula. Não percebe que a candidatura Lula se fortaleceria com a coerência do PT a seus princípios históricos, norteados pela estrela da ética e da defesa dos direitos dos mais pobres. Jogar o lixo para debaixo do tapete é deixar pairar sobre os acusados a aura da suspeita. Com o risco de não reelegê-los em outubro. E abrir um precedente grave: o mesmo PT que expulsa por divergência política, acoberta a transgressão ética. Lula, que demitiu ministros de primeiro escalão diante de suspeitas éticas, merecia no mínimo igual atitude do partido que criou.


A Varig é a cara do Brasil. Ou melhor, as asas. Seus gestores não deveriam ter deixado uma empresa de tamanha importância estratégica atolar-se numa dívida superior a R$ 6 bilhões. Milhares de empregos diretos e indiretos estão em jogo. Tomara que se encontre uma saída que impeça a companhia aérea de ter o mesmo destino da Vasp e da Transbrasil.

Frei Betto é escritor, autor, em parceria com Leonardo Boff, de "Mística e Espiritualidade" (Rocco), entre outros livros.

CIA fronts and "renditions" in Dubai

This story in the Khaleej Times, the leading English-language newspaper in Dubai, identifies front companies involved in CIA-sponsored "rendition" flights.
According to records of approximately 3,000 flights obtained by Amnesty International and the research group TransArms, planes owned or chartered by the CIA and linked to the renditions programme, made stop offs in the UAE. The first plane, a Boeing 737, made a total of 5 stops in the UAE: four in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. The plane was first registered by a company called Stevens Express Leasing (SEL), then by Premier Executive Transport Services (PETS) and finally in 2004 by Keeler & Tate Management (KTM).
Amnesty says all three firms are front companies set up by the CIA.
Dubai is not a democracy and does not treat prisoners softly, so why go elsewhere? When the Skyway drug-smuggling scandal came to light, I began to wonder if these "rendition" flights are only about kidnapping and torture. Maybe those planes hold other cargo. We've been hearing a lot about spooky airlines lately...

BOLIVIA: The Story Behind Gas Nationalisation

LA PAZ, May 13 (IPS) - "If you agree, sign the decree!" Bolivian President Evo Morales told his ministers on the morning of May 1, as he got ready to announce the renationalisation of an industry that will move 200 billion dollars over the next two decades in South America's poorest country.

One of the architects of the measure to reassert state control over the country's natural gas reserves -- the second-largest in South America -- described the process to IPS in an interview. That day, Morales handed the decree to his cabinet, sitting around a huge carved wooden table in the meeting room in the government palace, as the first rays of sunlight filtered through the chilly morning of La Paz.

Signatures, applause and the national anthem. After the last verse ("Morir antes que esclavos vivir" - "Better to die than to live as slaves"), Morales smiled and said "The plane is waiting for us."

Only a few of his closest associates knew that the army would be called out to occupy Bolivia's oil fields, refineries and petrol stations, or that the president and his stunned ministers would ride that morning in a Hercules transport plane to the region of Caraparí, 1,200 km to the south.

When Morales reached the doors of the San Alberto gas plant, controlled until that day by Brazil's state-owned oil giant Petrobras, the smiling employees asked which part of the gas field or facilities he wanted to visit.

But the president had not come for a visit. He had come to seize control of the installations and the gas fields.

Mossad murdered 530 Iraqi scientists

Assassinations of Iraq academics in Iraq never existed prior to April 2003

Numerous reports for many months have stated that with collaboration from American occupation forces, Israel’s espionage apparatus, Mossad, slaughtered at least 530 Iraqi scientists and academic professors.

Persistent Israeli hit squads against Iraqi scientists had been active in Iraq since April 2003, but the latest chapter was uncovered on Tuesday, 14 June 2005 by the Palestine Information Center which, citing a report compiled by the United States Department of State and intended for the American President, stated that Israeli and foreign agents sent by Mossad, in cooperation with United States, to Iraq, killed at least 350 Iraqi scientists and more than 200 university professors and academic personalities .

According to the report, which was referred to the U.S. president George W. Bush, Mossad agents had been operating in Iraq with the aim of liquidating Iraqi nuclear and biology scientists, among other scientists, and prominent university professors.

That was after the U.S. failed to persuade those scientists to cooperate with or work for it.

"Israeli commandos had been operating on Iraqi territory for more than a year, the focus of their activities being the assassination of Iraqi scientists and intellectuals. The Zionists resorted to the large-scale assassination campaign after the failure of American efforts that started immediately after the American occupation of Iraq, aimed at attracting a number of Iraqi scientists to cooperate and go to work in the United States," The Palestine Information Center quoted the report as saying.

"Some Iraqi scientists were forced to work in American research centers; however, the majority of them refused to cooperate in certain fields and fled the U.S. to other countries", it further stated.

The Pentagon agreed with the suggestion of Mossad, which believed that the best way to get rid of those scientists was to "physically eliminate them".

The American security service provided Israel with complete biographies on the Iraqi scientists and academics to facilitate killing them, the report said, adding that the Mossad campaign targeting Iraqi scientists is still underway.

The Real Assault on America perpetrated by BUSH, THE REAL INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST - by Paul Craig Roberts

The neoconservative Bush regime has adroitly used 9/11 to create a fear of terrorism among Americans that blinds Americans to the Bush regime's assault on our constitutional system. Americans have meekly acquiesced to the Bush regime's brutal assaults on civil liberties, human rights, the separation of powers, and statutory law, because Americans have been brainwashed to believe that the "war on terror" takes precedence and cannot be waged under the rules established by the Founding Fathers.

By elevating its "war on terror" above the U.S. Constitution, the neoconservative Bush regime has made itself a far greater threat to Americans than are foreign terrorists. Two constitutional scholars, Timothy Lynch and Gene Healy, document the Bush regime's forceful assault on the U.S. Constitution in "Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush" released May 3 by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

Lynch and Healy show that Bush has failed in his most important responsibility "to preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution and, thus, is in violation of his sworn oath of office. The two scholars document the Bush regime's "ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the courts or Congress" on issues ranging from war powers, habeas corpus, and federalism to free speech and unwarranted surveillance. Bush's assault on the Constitution "should disturb people from across the political spectrum."

Alas, it doesn't. Many Americans believe that Bush's dictatorial powers will only be applied to terrorists. This belief is extremely foolish, because it means that "the liberty of every American rests on nothing more than the grace of the White House."

It has become commonplace to hear Americans dismiss the Bush regime's illegal and unconstitutional exercise of power on the grounds that only those implicated in terrorism have anything to fear. These Americans need to ask themselves why, if only evildoers have anything to fear from government, the Founding Fathers bothered to write the Constitution?

If we can trust the government the way Americans seem prepared to trust the Bush regime, we don't need the Constitution. Indeed, why is a president inaugurated with his oath to defend the Constitution if we don't need the Constitution to protect us from our government? If we can trust government, why go to all the trouble to have elections? Why not just get a dictator or a king or contract with a company to provide government?

The question presents itself: Are Americans guilty of treason when they turn their backs on the Constitution? Treason is betrayal of country. And what defines country? In the United States, the Constitution defines country. The Bush regime's assault on the Constitution is an assault on America.

Moreover, it is a far more dangerous and deadly assault than a terrorist assault on buildings.

Ask yourself, gentle reader, what are we without the Constitution? Without the Constitution, how do we differ from the hapless subjects sent to Soviet and Nazi death camps? The Constitution protects our rights, and without our rights we are nothing.

It has been widely reported, apparently without causing Americans any unease, that the Bush regime has awarded Halliburton $385 million to build concentration camps in the United States. Who are to be the inmates? Certainly not terrorists. The Bush regime has proven inept at catching terrorists, and those few who are captured are kept offshore out of the reach of the courts where they can be tortured and abused. The camps are certainly not for illegal aliens who both political parties want to give amnesty and citizenship.

Concentration camps epitomize the horrors and inhumanity of the Stalin and Nazi era. Why is the Bush regime building concentration camps in America?

The Bush regime's war on terror is the equivalent to the Nazi regime's Reichstag fire. It serves to blind people to the real assault.

According to Bush, America is under terrorist attack because "they hate our freedoms." But, as Lynch and Healy show, it is the Bush regime that is attacking our freedoms, removing their institutional protections, and making our liberties subject to the grace of the executive.

When two poor countries reclaimed oilfields, why did just one spark uproar?

The outcry over Bolivia's renationalisation and the silence over Chad's betrays the hypocrisy of the critics

Civilisation has a new enemy. He is a former coca grower called Evo Morales, who is currently the president of Bolivia. Yesterday he stood before the European parliament to explain why he had sent troops to regain control of his country's gas and oil fields. Bolivia's resources, he says, have been "looted by foreign companies", and he is reclaiming them for the benefit of his people. Last week, he told the summit of Latin American and European leaders in Vienna that the corporations which have been extracting the country's fossil fuels would not be compensated for these seizures.

You can probably guess how this has gone down. Tony Blair urged him to use his power responsibly, which is like Mark Oaten lecturing the Pope on sexual continence. Condoleezza Rice accused him of "demagoguery". The Economist announced that Bolivia was "moving backwards". The Times, in a marvellously haughty leader, called Morales "petulant", "xenophobic" and "capricious", and labelled his seizure of the gas fields "a gesture as childish as it is eye-catching".
Never mind that the privatisation of Bolivia's gas and oil in the 1990s was almost certainly illegal, as it took place without the consent of congress. Never mind that - until now - its natural wealth has only impoverished its people. Never mind that Morales had promised to regain national control of Bolivia's natural resources before he became president, and that the policy has massive support among Bolivians. It can't be long before Donald Rumsfeld calls him the new Hitler and Bush makes another speech about freedom and democracy being threatened by freedom and democracy.

This huffing and puffing is dressed up as concern for the people of Bolivia. The Financial Times fretted about the potential for "mismanagement and corruption". The Economist warned that while the government "may get richer, its people are likely to grow even poorer". The Times lamented that Morales had "set back Bolivia's development by 10 years or so ... the most vulnerable groups will find that an economic lifeline is soon removed from their reach". All this is humbug.

Four days before Morales seized the gas fields - on May 1 - an even bigger expropriation took place in an even poorer country: the African republic of Chad. When the Chadian government reasserted control over its oil revenues, not only did it ensure that an intended lifeline for the poor really was removed from their reach, but it also brought the World Bank's claims to be using oil as a social welfare programme crashing down in flames. So how did all those bold critics of Morales respond? They didn't. The whole hypocritical horde of them looked the other way.

The World Bank decided to fund Chad's massive oil scheme in 2000, after extracting a promise from the government of Idriss Deby - which has a terrible human rights record - that the profits would be used for the benefit of the country's people. Deby's administration passed a law allocating 85% of the government's oil revenues to education, health and development, and placing 10% "in trust for future generations". This, the bank said, amounted to "an unprecedented system of safeguards to ensure that these revenues would be used to finance development in Chad".

Without the World Bank, the project could not have gone ahead. It was asked to participate by Exxon, the leading partner in the project, to provide insurance against political risk. The bank's different lending arms stumped up a total of $333m, and the European Investment Bank threw in another $120m. The oil companies (Exxon, Petronas and Chevron) started drilling 300 wells in the south of the country, and building a pipeline to a port in Cameroon, which opened in 2003.

Environmentalists predicted that the pipeline would damage the rainforests of Cameroon and displace the indigenous people who lived there; that the oil companies would consume much of Chad's scarce water and that an influx of oil workers would be accompanied by an influx of Aids. They also argued that subsidising oil companies in the name of social welfare was a radical reinterpretation of the bank's mandate. As long ago as 1997, the Environmental Defence Fund warned that the government of Chad would not keep its promises to use the money for alleviating poverty. In 1999, researchers from Harvard Law School examined the law the government had passed, and predicted that the authorities "have little intention of allowing it to affect local practice".

In 2000, the oil companies gave the government of Chad a "signing bonus" of $4.5m, which it immediately spent on arms. Then, at the beginning of 2006, it simply tore up the law it had passed in 1998. It redefined the development budget to include security, seized the fund set aside for future generations, and diverted 30% of the total revenues into "general spending", which, in Chad, is another term for guns. The World Bank, embarrassed by the fulfilment of all the predictions its critics had made, froze the revenues the government had deposited in London and suspended the remainder of its loans. The Chadian government responded by warning that it would simply shut down the oil wells. The corporations ran to daddy (the US government) and, on April 27, the bank caved in. Its new agreement with Chad entitles Deby to pretty well everything he has already taken.

The World Bank's attempts to save face are almost funny. Last year, it said that the scheme was "a pioneering and collaborative effort ... to demonstrate that large-scale crude oil projects can significantly improve prospects for sustainable long-term development". In other words, it was a model for oil-producing countries to follow. Now it tells us that the project in Chad was "less a model for all oil-producing countries than a unique solution to a unique challenge". But, however much it wriggles, it cannot disguise the fact that the government's reassertion of control is a disaster both for the bank and for the impoverished people it claimed to be helping. Since the project began, Chad has fallen from 167th to 173rd on the UN's human development index, and life expectancy there has dropped from 44.7 to 43.6 years. If, by contrast, Morales does as he has promised and uses the extra revenues from Bolivia's gas fields in the same way as Hugo Chávez has used the money from Venezuela's oil, the result is likely to be a major improvement in his people's welfare.

So, on the one hand, you have a man who has kept his promises by regaining control over the money from the hydrocarbon industry, in order to use it to help the poor. On the other, you have a man who has broken his promises by regaining control over the money from the hydrocarbon industry, in order to buy guns. The first man is vilified as irresponsible, childish and capricious. The second man is left to get on with it. Why? Well, Deby's actions don't hurt the oil companies. Morales's do. When Blair and Rice and the Times and all the other apologists for undemocratic power say "the people", they mean the corporations. The reason they hate Morales is that when he says "the people", he means the people.

· The references for this and all George Monbiot's recent columns can be found at

Police State America:


May 16, 2006 -- Baghdad and Dharan, Saudi Arabia -- Middle East intelligence sources report that the rise of Sh'ia power in Iraq is encouraging Sh'ia political activism in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where a majority of the population is Sh'ia. The Eastern Province is the location of Saudi oil reserves and refineries. A Sh'ia takeover of the Eastern Province would give the Sh'ias effective control of the oil and natural gas reserves and production facilities of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq, which represent the world's first, second, and third greatest reserves of oil, respectively.

Move over Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco: Meet the world's future Sh'ia oil barons, Iraq's Ayatollah Ali al Sistani (left) and Ayatollah and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right). And who do the oil companies have to thank? Well, their boys Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice for starters.

May 16, 2006 -- Riyadh -- A recent announcement that Saudi Arabia will soon name two new private airlines that will initially compete with Saudi Arabian Airlines to provide domestic services before they begin international services in two years has counter-terrorism specialists worried. The two new airlines reportedly will provide 50,000 new jobs. But what has counter-terrorism experts concerned is that these jobs will include pilots and pilot trainers in a country that continues to harbor powerful Jihadist cells.

May 16, 2006 -- Washington, DC -- Current CIA and Pentagon counter-terrorism efforts directed against Islamist radicals are misplaced according to informed intelligence sources. The emphasis on training Arabic speakers does not reflect the reality of the Muslim world, most of which is not Arab. By ignoring Islam's other ethnic and language groups, the real target of Langley and the Pentagon appears to be directed against not Muslims but Arabs, lending credence to the belief that America is only interested in protecting Middle East oil supplies and taking its cues on the war on terrorism from Israel, which also maintains an Arab-centric view of its own national security.

May 16, 2006 -- Riyadh and London -- According to a top British intelligence analyst who routinely examines radical Islamist web sites and online forums, the latest accusation from Saudi Jihadists is that the Saudi government (which the Jihadists follow with the phrase "God Curse Them") is putting shows on Saudi TV that aim to "Christianize" Saudi children. The Jihadists also claim the Saudi Royal family is working with the "cursed Americans" to eliminate Islam. Perhaps part of these accusations arise from the fact that Douglas Coe, the head of the powerful Arlington, Virginia-based Christian Fellowship, has often claimed that he has "prayed to Jesus" with members of the Saudi Royal family in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Royals have attended Fellowship functions in the Washington, DC area.

Saudi Jihadists accuse Saudi Royals of having a secret Christian agenda