Saturday, May 27, 2006

An Open Letter to Bono - Why Are You Financing a Video Game on Invading Venezuela?

An Open Letter to Bono
Why Are You Financing a Video Game on Invading Venezuela?

It is extremely disheartening to discover your good name closely associated with a business that seeks to profit from a pathological culture of ill-will and military perversion and, more specifically, in tandem with a very pointed and insidious work of propaganda that reads straight out of the playbooks of George Bush, the Republican Party, and the Project for the New American Century.

Without promoting its title, let me describe the story line for a soon-to-be-released video game of the (sadly) popular "kill and destroy" variety: as protagonist, you play by "no rules" and even have access to "mini-nukes" as you lead an invasion of Venezuela to "profit from chaos" as a "power hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela's oil supply," to quote directly from the video game's website. As the leader of the madness and destruction that ensues, you, the game player, more or less represent the Halliburton criminals and their ilk: "Dirty deeds, done for exhorbitant fees," as your line of work is described further.

I won't name the game itself, but I will mention that the company releasing it is called Pandemic, which has very recently been absorbed into a corporate entity called Bioware/Pandemic Studios, which was created by a $300 million dollar investment from the venture capital group Elevation Partners, a new private equity firm which boasts none other than you, Mr. Bono, as a managing director and co-founder. In fact, Bioware/Pandemic was your new group's very first investment.

I would like to believe that this is something that just happened to slip under your radar, Mr. Bono. I know you're a very busy man involved in many honorable activities. But your firm's website boasts only one other portfolio company in addition to this one, and upon inspection of your firm's own webpage, the obsession with death and warfare seems clearly to be the prevailing tone of this company's video games, if not the only one.

In short, Mr. Bono, you are notably invested in a video game that is targeted towards young men of prime military recruitment age and promotes Mr. Bush's very dangerously misguided and malintentioned foreign policy towards a small country that, ironically, is actually reaching out economically to poverty stricken citizens of the United States and Europe. Being both a recent Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a person of sizeable and direct influence in this matter, to say the least, what are you going to do about it?

Scott Michael Perey can be reached at:

More terrorists loose in the U.S.

Listening to this talk by Gloria La Riva on events in Venezuela opened my eyes to the fact that there are terrorists other than Luis Posada Carriles whom the U.S. is refusing to extradite to Venezuela to be tried. The case is discussed at length here but here's a summary: in February 2003, the Colombian and Spanish consulates in Caracas were bombed. These bombings were viewed as an attempt at inciting further political instability in a country that was in the midst of an oil industry shutdown meant to topple Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The two suspects in the case, Jose Antonio Colina and German Rodolfo Varela, fled (naturally) to Miami. They were eventually arrested, just like Posada, on immigration charges, and spent years in detention. In early May, however, they were released from detention, and are now free (on probation) to roam the streets of Miami (or elsewhere).

Using the same specious claim as in the Posada case, that the suspects would "most likely" be subject to torture in Venezuela, the U.S. is refusing to extradite the two to Venezuela for trial. As in the Posada case, however, international law obliges the U.S. to prosecute them for the crimes if they refuse to acknowledge the extradition request. Instead, these two men, almost certainly terrorists (although obviously not yet convicted), are walking free.

War on terror? Don't you believe it.

Investment boost for Bolivia: Venezuelan president, has pledged $1.5bn in energy investments in Bolivia.

Shouts of "Viva Venezuela!" rang out as Chavez spoke in Shinahota, a town in the coca-growing Chapare region about 600km southeast of La Paz.

Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest crude exporter and Chavez has taken many aid and investment initiatives within the region backed by oil wealth. He has offered to buy the debt of some neighbouring countries and provided subsidised oil, even to the US where a Venezuelan scheme helps the poor to buy fuel.

Chavez addressed the crowd flanked by Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, and Carlos Lage, the vice-president of Cuba.

During his speech he responded to the latest attack from George Bush, the US president, who had said earlier this week that Venezuela and Bolivia were suffering from "an erosion of democracy".

Morales won an absolute majority in presidential elections in Bolivia last December to become the country's first indigenous leader. Chavez's presidency was endorsed by a referendum in 2004.

Chavez said that Bush had "given the green light to conspire against the Bolivian democracy".

Gas reserves

"Bolivia has found its path because the Bolivian people have found the leader they were lacking," Chavez said.

Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's energy minister, said his country's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, was investing in exploration and production projects in Bolivia, South America's poorest nation.

Ramirez signed deals later with Bolivia's state-owned energy company, YPFB, that include building two gas-processing plants and exploring for more natural gas reserves.

Bolivia has South America's second-largest natural gas reserves after Venezuela and the government is keen to attract new investment in that sector, especially in exploration.

For the good of humanity

Venezuela plans to help Bolivia reduce unemployment by funding projects to produce organic tea, coffee, dairy and legal coca products. Chavez also donated computers to schools in Chapare.

Morales said: "Our three nations [Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba] are talking about industrialising the coca leaf. We want to tell the whole world coca is not cocaine and we're going to industrialise it for the good of humanity."

Morales has vowed to seek legal uses for the plant as a way to fight cocaine trafficking and protect the livelihoods of peasant growers.

You can find this article at:

Iraq: Horrific details of atrocities in Haditha emerge

It isn't every day we hear of the details of the horrors the US military and the pro-war, pro-Iraqi death gang have inflicted on Iraq. Well, actually, let me correct myself. It isn't every day we hear of these details in the US media.

Which is why I have to tip my hat for Ellen Knickmeyer for her report in the Washington Post. Her article on the Haditha Massacre has made the rounds on very many blogs recently because of some of the details that emerge in her content.
For example, "... recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. "I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. "But they killed him, and his wife and daughters."
Can you imagine that scene? A man pleading for his life, for his family to be spared only to get mowed down. Seriously, I can only think of stuff like that when I remember war movies of Vietnamese getting cut to pieces by the US military or Nazis killing Italians or the Roman Legionnaires butchering Gaulish villagers.

But this isn't a movie, and it really isn't a video game either. These people are human souls. And they have kin who will fight back.

Moving along, Knickmeyer says "...U.S. investigators said in Washington. The girls killed inside Khafif's house were ages 14, 10, 5, 3 and 1, according to death certificates."

My God, who can kill a child, a suckling babe? I can't imagine what grips a man to be able to point a weapon at a one-year-old. A one-year-old! Was the US Marine who pulled the trigger thinking of Battlefield, the game some of the military personnel like to play?

Was he thinking of the two towers and 9-11? What went through his mind? Was he thinking of his own children? Or his neighbor's children back home?

Yes, we heard that US military personnel have now become incensed to the point of total regard for human life. And we heard that from their own officers.

We also heard that British officers sharply rebuked the US military for dealing with Iraqis as untermenschen, subhumans. Precisely the way the Jews were dealt with. Let us not forget the atrocities committed in the Warsaw Ghetto.

But there's more.
In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children -- 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.
Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots -- in Ali's house and two others -- were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha's hospital said.
It's a tragic but we have heard hundreds of stories from Iraqi survivors who have claimed the exact same thing, that US soldiers come shooting into the private homes of Iraqi civilians. But these Iraqis were called liars.

We have heard such accounts from some US soldiers themselves, shamed by their own conduct, but they were called traitors, un-American, and liars as well.

Is it American then to kill and coverup? I don't get it. What is un-American about admitting murder or an evil act? I thought "truth, justice, and the American way" are modern lexicons and America, we all have been raised to believe, stands for justice.

Sure, I will get those who claim I am anti-American. That's sad because I actually am very pro-American. I just believe that those who kill and maim in America's name and with your taxes paying for it, are un-American. Not the other way round, you see.
"Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate."
Pump full of lead, huh? Tsk, tsk ...
"The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif's pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming."
Such horror. Am sorry, but nothing at all justifies this. Nothing.
"Moving to a third house in the row, Marines burst in on four brothers, Marwan, Qahtan, Chasib and Jamal Ahmed. Neighbors said the Marines killed them together."

"The remains of the 24 lie today in a cemetery called Martyrs' Graveyard. Stray dogs scrounge in the deserted homes. "Democracy assassinated the family that was here," graffiti on one of the houses declared."
Yes, the same democracy Blair and Bush asked the world to support in Iraq.

"Although Marines' accounts offered in the early stages of the investigation described a running gun battle, those versions of the story proved to be false, officials briefed by the Marines said." Flights of Hollywood fantasy, eh?

But are they trying to cover up this Hollywood fantasy? Seriously, how many people are actually involved in this?
"Another point of dispute is whether some houses were destroyed by fire or by airstrikes. Some Iraqis reported that the Marines burned houses in the area of the attack, but two people familiar with the case, including Hackett, the lawyer, said warplanes conducted airstrikes, dropping 500-pound bombs on more than one house.

That is significant for any possible court-martial proceedings, because it would indicate that senior commanders, who must approve such strikes and who would also use aircraft to assess their effects, were paying attention to events in Haditha that day."

"They are waiting for the sentence -- although they are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the United States," said Waleed Mohammed, a lawyer preparing a file for Iraqi courts and the United Nations, if the U.S. trial disappoints. "Because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans."
I would disagree. Dogs are far more precious. You see them cuddled on primetime news. You hear of orphaned dogs, you hear of dogs rescued from the pound.

But you don't hear of killed Iraqi civilians.

"Nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib"? Bullshit.

Retired Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms is quoted in the Washington Post about the Haditha massacre (item below): "When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm. It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib." I heard this exact same line--"nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib"--several times yesterday from various pundits and news anchors. This is absolutely untrue.

It seems that Brig. Gen. Brahms, as well as the media, have forgotten all about Manadel al-Jamadi, who was not only tortured to death during interrogation at Abu Ghraib, but even features in a well-known picture of Charles Graner, one of those infamous Abu Ghraib "bad apples":

Nor was al-Jamadi the only Iraqi to die at Abu Ghraib. There are many others, including a number listed as "shot during riot," but many others listed as "natural causes or accident" or "unknown or still under investigation," many of which are quite likely to have actually been murders which were either covered up or simply never investigated.

Not that the killing has been limited to Abu Ghraib, of course. There was Abed Hamed Mowhoush, the Iraq General who was tortured to death by being stuffed in a sleeping bag head first and having someone sit on his chest. He just happens to have been killed at another Iraqi prison facility, Al-Qaim. Why, someone was even convicted in that murder. Although they called it "negligent homicide" and fined him a whopping $6,000.

Then there are those who never made it into a prison at all. There was Nazem Baji, executed by U.S. troops while in custody, shot in the head while his hands were tied with plastic handcuffs. There was Salem Hassan, beaten to death by U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint for refusing to remove a picture of Moqtada al Sadr from his car. And so many, many others.

"Nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib"? Bullshit.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Christian evangelical-Ziocon alliance and fascist executive assault the Constitution and the Separation of Powers Clause

What if the United States experienced a constitutional crisis and no one reported it? The recent statements by House Speaker Dennis Hastert that the Bush White House was overstepping its constitutional separation of powers bounds by allowing the FBI to storm into a member of Congress' office and then "leaking" Justice Department information to intimidate the Speaker after he publicly complained about the raid indicate that this nation is experiencing a drastic constitutional crisis. The fact that the corporate media is not reporting this crisis is understandable when one considers that social studies (once called "civics") in this nation's education system is relegated to an afterthought and our corporate media talking heads and stenographers have as much knowledge of the U.S. Constitution as anyone who has ever passed a high school GED.

Hastert was joined in his criticism of the White House by the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate Bill Frist and the House Majority Leader John Boehner. When one considers that Hastert is the third ranking constitutional officer of the United States, his stark criticisms of White House unconstitutional behavior (regardless of Hastert's possible involvement in illegal campaign contributions), exceed anything this nation witnessed in Watergate. In that case, we were talking about impeachment, partly for White House-sanctioned break-ins of Democratic National headquarters and Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. Never once did House Speaker Carl Albert complain about the Nixon administration trying to break into the offices of congressmen. Nor did Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield or House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill ever breach such concerns.

A number of Democrats have welcomed Hastert's sudden realization that the Constitution and the separation of powers clause is now under assault by the unitary fascist executive created by the neo-cons. But some Republicans continue to support Bush. These include the core of the Christian evangelical-Ziocon alliance, most evident by anti-Hastert comments from Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), respectively.

It is now clear, even to the Republican leadership in Congress, that the neo-cons are an anti-constitutional blight upon our nation. The true and most loyal neo-con agents of influence in Congress have now identified themselves (Vitter, Coleman, Lieberman, Cornyn, Kyl, etc.). It is high time for them and the Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against this criminal gang and return this nation to normalcy and democracy. Hastert has it in his power to not only eliminate Bush and Cheney through impeachment, but he can replace them as a caretaker president until the 2008 election. That would be the best outcome in an overall bad situation.

Killing Tony Blair 'morally justifiable', says George Galloway

George Galloway has said the assassination of Tony Blair would be "morally justified" given his support for the war in Iraq.

The anti-war Respect MP said a suicide bomb attack on the prime minister would be "morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did".

The controversial leftwinger added that he was not calling for such an attack and that he would tip off the authorities if he knew of one.

But his remarks provoked a furious response, with one Labour MP calling him "disgraceful" and "twisted".

In an interview for GQ magazine with the former editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, Mr Galloway was asked whether the assassination of Mr Blair by a suicide bomber would be justified, if there were no other casualties.

He replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it, but if it happened I believe it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7.

"It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did."

In response to the furore his comments have caused, Mr Galloway said: "Like the prime minister's wife commenting on suicide bombings in Israel, I understand why such desperate acts take place and why those involved might believe such actions are morally justifiable.

"From the point of view of someone who has seen their country invaded and their family blown apart it's possible, of course, for them to construct a moral justification. But I've made my position clear. I would not support anyone seeking to assassinate the prime minister. That's why I said in the interview I would report to the authorities any such plot that I knew of.

"What I did make abundantly clear to Piers Morgan in the GQ interview is that I would like to see Tony Blair in front of a war crimes tribunal for sending this country to war illegally and for the appalling human consequences which resulted. That's what I will continue to press for," he said.

He added: "Such an operation would be counter-productive because it would just generate a new wave of anti-Arab sentiment whipped up by the press.

"It would lead to new draconian anti-terror laws, and would probably strengthen the resolve of the British and American services in Iraq rather than weaken it.

"So, yes, I would inform the authorities."

Mr Galloway has been MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London since he ousted sitting Labour MP Oona King in last year's general election on a strongly anti-war ticket.

Soaring Commodity Prices Point Toward Dollar Devaluation - Drafted By: Jephraim P. Gundzik

The astonishing rally of commodity prices during the past 12 months has taken most analysts, economists and investors by surprise. Rather than a dramatic change in the relationship between supply and demand for the underlying commodity, surging commodity prices have been driven by the devaluation of the preeminent marker of international commodity values -- the U.S. dollar. In the months ahead, the dollar's devaluation will increasingly register against other major currencies. Rapidly deteriorating U.S. economic fundamentals, questionable policy at the Federal Reserve, increasing political instability and extreme global geopolitical instability may trigger significant foreign capital flight from the United States.

Brief History of Commodity Prices

The Burial of the 9/11 Story that Got Away - Why did the Bush administration do nothing to prevent it?

The Bombshell: "senior White House official leaked top-secret NSA intelligence in 2001 to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller...that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack on the United States." This was before 9/11. If Judith Miller knew from a White House source in advance, it begs the earth-shattering question: Why did the Bush administration do nothing to prevent it? And the New York Times let the story drop, to boot.

The Burial of the 9/11 Story that Got Away
By Rory O'Connor, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2006.

The Times' then managing editor, Bill Keller, was never told about a potential story predicting 9/11 attacks.

"The 9/11 Story That Got Away" (From
NSC EXCLUSIVE: William Scott Malone and Rory O’Connor - The (Other) Story Judith Miller Didn’t Write Source /

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Iran has the right to self-defence By Ghali Hassan

"While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including anti-ballistic missiles, the earth-penetrating "bunker buster" and perhaps some new "small" bombs. They also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states." Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter. [1]
The U.S. and Israel are in the process of manufacturing a "crisis" to justify a war of aggression against Iran in flagrant violations of international law and norms. The current crisis is reminiscent to the crisis which was manufactured to justify the illegal war of aggression against a defenceless Iraq.

On its part, Iran poses no threat to other nations. Nor is Iran in violation of international law and norms. Therefore, Iran has an inalienable right to self-defence against aggression.

Contrary to media reports and distortions, Iran is not engaged in the development of nuclear weapons and Iran is not threatening other nations. Like many other nations, Iran is pursuing legitimate peaceful nuclear research. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful uses. There is absolutely no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The accusations that Iran has "nuclear weapon ambitions" are ridiculous at best.

Without any justification, the U.S. and Israel have threatened to attack Iran with nuclear weapons if Iran continues its nuclear program. Three members of the European Union, Britain, France and Germany, are being coerced by the U.S. to act against their interests and against the wishes of the vast majority of EU citizens.

Although Iran tried to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis, the U.S. has consistently rejected Iran’s offers and showed that it is not interested in a peaceful solution. Iran has stated publicly that it is seeking a "security guarantee" and Iran is willing to participate in the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Instead of pursuing peaceful dialogue, the U.S. continues to follow Israel’s ideology of war and expansion. Israeli leaders are publicly pushing the U.S. to attack Iran. The U.S. is acting as if the U.S. Army is Israel’s proxy army and many young Americans are dying for Israel’s Zionist ideology.

Israel has illegally attacked and invaded other nations. Israel is still occupying land in Lebanon and Syria in contravention of UN resolutions. Israel is currently arming and training Kurdish militias in northern Iraq and the Iranian Mujahideen el-Khalq (MEK) -- until recently listed as terrorist group by the U.S. State Department -- to carry out clandestine terror operations and surveillance inside Iran.

The U.S. goal is to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran, enforce U.S. imperialist domination over the oil resources of the Middle East and support Israel's Zionist policy. It is important to bear in mind that during the murderous dictatorial regime of the shah, the U.S. and Israel supported Iran in its pursuit of developing nuclear weapons technology. The current Iranian program is a peaceful nuclear technology to produce energy.

Furthermore, Iran is not guilty of violations of international law. Iran has voluntarily signed the Additional Protocol. As stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of 8 March, "Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency and, until 06 February 2006, implemented the Additional Protocol as if it were in force, including by providing, in a timely manner, the requisite declarations and access to locations."

The Director-General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has pointed out several times in the past that Iran is not in violation of the NPT or any agreement with the IAEA. However, Mr. ElBaradei has since been rewarded (with a Nobel Prize) by his masters and proves to be good at following orders. ElBaradei is making misleading statements accusing Iran of "non-compliance." As usual, the IAEA continues to politicise the situation, forcing Iran into the impossible. The statement that the IAEA is "unable to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities inside Iran" is the same misleading statement used by Hans Blix -- the UN accomplice -- to demonise Iraq and prepare the public for the illegal war of aggression that destroyed a vibrant nation and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. Now ElBaradei's role is “to keep providing the U.S. the ammunition for charges of 'non-compliance.' With time, the public will be prepared and persuaded to support a war on Iran.

Iran has stated publicly that it is willing to enter into dialogue with the U.S. to discuss all issues, including "security guarantees" -- assurance of non-aggression -- and demanded that the U.S. and Israel stop their threats and interference in Iran's affairs. The U.S. and its allies are using the nuclear issue as a pretext to justify war on Iran in the same way they used the discredited pretext of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) for illegal war on Iraq.

The U.S. has demanded that Iran abandons all it nuclear research, including the mining of its own uranium, and instead buy the enriched uranium fuel for the generation of electricity. This is unacceptable as many countries around the world do just the opposite. Like any country would do, Iran rejected the unfair U.S. demands, which would leave Iran dependent on outside technology and resources. On 16 May, the EU-3 demanded that Iran "suspend all enrichment related and reprocessing activity, including research and development." Iran responded by stating that; "No incentives are better than implementing the NPT and the IAEA rules without discrimination." The EU-3 demands are unrealistic and designed for propaganda purposes to enforce the case for war. By demanding the impossible, the U.S. and the EU-3 are increasing the possibility of conflict and aggression.

The U.S. and Israel's threat to Iran is alarming the civilised world. In anticipation of an attack on Iran and, in addition to Israel’s own arsenal of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the U.S. supplied Israel with F-15 and F-16 aircraft capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Avner Cohen and William Burr show that; "A U.S. nuclear attack [on Iran] would cause severe physical, social, economic, and political damage." Cohen and Burr added, "Five to ten nuclear explosions of 10 kilotons each a few meters below ground would destroy most buildings within 1-2 kilometres of each explosion; force prompt evacuation to save lives within about a hundred square kilometres of each explosion; contaminate buildings, grounds, livestock, and crops over thousands of square kilometres; and depending on wind and rain, cause fallout sufficient to cause evacuation and/or sheltering as far as thousands of kilometres downwind. Measurable radioactivity would be detected around the world." [2]

Given that most of Iran's research plants and facilities are situated in urban areas and near population centres, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians would be killed. American citizens should think carefully before their government commits new crimes against humanity in their name.

Rather than working to eliminate the use of nuclear weapons, the U.S. is continuing to refine its own nuclear weapons, and considers them an integral part of its military forces. In violation of the NPT, the U.S. is pursuing more nuclear armaments and is encouraging other nations to develop nuclear weapons. In reality, the U.S. is in the process of making the use of the monstrous nuclear weapons more acceptable in future wars against nations with no nuclear weapons. We should not forget that the U.S. is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against humanity.

If there is a country that constitutes a classic threat to international peace and security, it is the U.S. The U.S. has been involved in many conflicts and wars that resulted in unnecessary killings of millions of innocent people. From Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia to Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, millions of innocent people have been massacred by U.S. forces.

No nation will surrender its rights and national independence in the face of the threats posed by the U.S. and Israel to Iran. If Iran is attacked without provacation, Iran has the right to retaliate in self-defence. Self-defence against aggression is Iran's inalienable right and deserves the support of people wordwide. Like North Korea, Iran has the right to pursue a self-defence policy of deterring a future U.S. attack.


[1] Jimmy Carter, 'Saving Nonproliferation,' Washington Post, 28 March, 2005.

[2] Avner Cohen & William Burr, 'Dangerous Doctrine' the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 61(2), March/April 2005.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Mayor Ken Livingstone in "Chavez legacy" rebuttal to The Times (London)

Mayor Ken Livingstone in "Chavez legacy" rebuttal to The Times (London)




Mayor Ken Livingstone in "Chavez legacy" rebuttal to The Times (London)


Sir, Your coverage of President Chavez’ visit to London (reports and Thunderer, May 16) misrepresents the record of the President’s administration in Venezuela.

Far from Chavez’ opponents being repressed, as you suggest, they control the vast majority of the media, including 95% of the country’s 180 newspapers, and five out of five private TV stations, which pump out anti-Chavez propaganda around the clock.

You claim Chavez has contributed to a steep recession when in reality, since the defeat of the strike by oil industry managers early in 2003, Venezuela has enjoyed the most rapid economic growth in the region. GDP grew 9.3% last year and is projected to be 7% for 2006.

You claim poverty has increased when in reality it has decreased, with massive increases in spending on education and health care, in particular. UNESCO certifies that under Chavez illiteracy has been eliminated in Venezuela for the first time.

Seventeen million Venezuelans have been given access to free healthcare for the first time in their lives. A quarter of a million people are having their sight restored, shantytown dwellers are being given title to their homes and millions are being given the opportunity to continue their education in adulthood.

That is why, despite an overwhelmingly hostile media, Chavez stands at more than 70% in opinion polls and his supporters have won ten elections over the past seven years, all judged free and fair by international observers.

That is also why more than a million people took to the streets to defeat the attempt by the opposition to remove him through an anti-democratic military coup widely thought to have been orchestrated from Washington.

Hugo Chavez is one of the most popular leaders in his own country, and in the world today, because the combination of democracy and social justice, which he represents, is something to which the majority of people on this planet aspire.

Ken Livingstone

Mayor of London

Arundhati Roy: Back In the U.S.A.

Arundhati Roy: Back In the U.S.A.
Democracy Now!
Author/activist Arundhati Roy discusses President Bush's embarrassing trip to India, the war in Iraq, and why she avoids America.
Read Article

Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State. Hey America! Freedom is just around the corner...behind you by Allan Uthman

Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State
Hey America! Freedom is just around the corner…behind you

The Internet Clampdown

One saving grace of alternative media in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this crack in the sky. Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an "Information Operations Roadmap" in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and "internet predators," which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.

"The Long War"

This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained—as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, "get used to it. Things aren’t going to change any time soon."


Venezuela Dismisses Bush's Concerns about Venezuelan Democracy By: Pablo Navarrete -

Caracas, Venezuela, May 23, 2006-Reacting to comments made by U.S. President George Bush on Monday that expressed concern about, "the erosion of democracy" in Venezuela and Bolivia, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez accused Bush on Tuesday of "demolishing" his own country's democracy.

"Democracy and the fundamental principles of that country, which were held up by Abraham Lincoln among others, are being demolished," said Chávez in reference to a domestic spying program which has been largely criticized in the U.S. for violating civil liberties, according to the AP.

"We'll have to tell the U.S. president that we are very worried because his imperialist, war-mongering government is dangerously eroding the possibility of peace and life on this planet," Chávez added. For Chávez, in the same way that the twentieth century was called the North American century, the twenty-first century will go down as the "the century which put an end to the North American empire."

Bush's remarks were also criticized by other high-level politicians in both Venezuela and the U.S. Venezuelan National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday, "Today Bush, cynically, tries to make a judgment on Venezuela democracy. We ask [U.S.] opinion, 60 percent of whom reject his government, where is democracy being eroded: in a government which invades, bombs, and assassinates, or here [in Venezuela]?"

In the U.S., Democratic Congressman Donald M. Payne said on Tuesday that the Bush administration had adopted "a totally flawed position" regarding Chávez. Payne, who serves on the House of Representatives International Relations Committee and its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said the two countries "definitely need to have a dialogue."

This latest exchange between the two countries' leaders comes at a time when U.S.-Venezuela relations have been steadily deteriorating. Last week, the Bush administration declared a ban on arms sales from the U.S. to Venezuela, because Venezuela was allegedly "not cooperating fully" in the "war on terrorism." Venezuela is the only country on the U.S. list of countries that is not cooperating fully with terrorism that is not also on their list of countries that sponsor terrorism. The arms sale ban affects U.S. sales and licensing for the export of defense articles and services to Venezuela, including the transfer of defense items, said Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman, according to the AP. In 2005, Venezuela spent $34 million on military equipment in the U.S., mostly for spare parts for C-130 cargo planes.

Loans to Grants: University Funding Plan for a New Venezuela By: Simone Baribeau -

"As Victor Hugo says in Les Miserables, while a woman has to prostitute herself because of hunger, a child loses himself in darkness for lack of education and a worker is exploited by capitalism. Books like this, like Les Miserables, have not been [written] in vain," comments Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on his five-hour weekly television show, which is riddled with literary quotes and a segment akin to Oprah's book club.

With his military roots, dark complexion, and direct manner, Chávez doesn't have to worry about being confused with Venezuela's elite. So when he speaks about education, Venezuelans don't appear to hear talk about a pass-time of the well off--as university study has been portrayed by some US politicians--but rather of a human right which had been poached by the upper classes.

And Chávez's pro-education banter isn’t just rhetoric. Higher education hasn’t been more within the reach of the majority of Venezuelans for decades. Between 2000 and 2003, according to the World Development Index, the number of Venezuelans enrolled in college as a percent of the college aged population jumped 11 percentage points to 39%—well exceeding the regional average (which, according to the most recent numbers, Venezuela still lags behind in primary and secondary education, despite recent improvements). This comes after a decade where the percentage of Venezuelans enrolled in tertiary education fell by one point.

According to officials, increased enrollment is due, in part, to the gradual growth in higher education institutions in Venezuela, and the creation of the Bolivarian University, a free college with a liberal admissions policy, similar to community colleges in the US.

If you've got to buy gas, buy it from Venezuela. BUY CITGO, FOR PEACE AT THE PUMP

If you've got to buy gas, buy it from Venezuela. We're always being asked to boycott this or boycott that. Gasoline is one of the commodities that very few people can boycott. But you can pick the gas station you do business with. Venezuela's state-owned oil industry refines petroleum in the United States and sells it as gasoline at 14,000 Citgo service stations. That's C-I-T-G-O. When you buy gas from Citgo, you're supporting Venezuela's policy of using its oil resources to benefit the people of that country. President Hugo Chavez has also struck favorable agreements with the nations of the Caribbean, allowing them to pay much of their oil bills over 25 years at just one percent interest. Chavez's government trades oil for the services of thousands of Cuban doctors, who have brought health care to Venezuela's poor majority, many for the first time in their lives. And he has set aside ten percent of Venezuela's refined oil to be sold at cut rate prices for the benefit of the poor in nations all over the world, including the United States. Tens of millions of gallons of Venezuelan oil is heating the homes of the poor in New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

None of this would have happened if the United States-backed coup against Chavez had succeeded, in 2002. By now, Venezuela's oil fields would have been privatized, and a rightwing dictatorship would rule by death squads – all with the approval of Washington and the oil billionaires. When you buy gasoline from Citgo, it'll still cost you, but at least you won't be giving your money to the corporations that support the Bush regime's wars against humanity. In fact, a portion of your Citgo gasoline tab will go towards subsidizing sanity, regional cooperation, and the quest for peace on the planet. On the other hand, when you buy from American-based oil companies, a chunk of your money winds up in George Bush's campaign machinery, rightwing think tanks, and billionaires' mansions.

Since the Buy Citgo campaign was launched last year, Bush's rightwing allies have organized a boycott of Citgo gas stations. They've sent tens of thousands of emails to Citgo's headquarters in Houston, saying they won't spend money with someone who wants to bring down the U.S. government. Well, if the "government" means George Bush, that's a very good reason for good people to line up at Citgo's pumps. You can find your local Citgo by Googling the words "Citgo gas stations." Spend your money where it does some good. For Radio BC, I'm Glen Ford.

Cuba: A Clean Bill of Health

Cuba: A Clean Bill of Health

For almost half a century now Cuba, the unapologetically communist nation led by Fidel Castro, has endured crippling economic and trade sanctions imposed by its next-door neighbour, the United States. But not only has this tiny Caribbean country survived, it's achieved close to the unthinkable. Over the years of its isolation, Cuba has made major medical breakthroughs and now has a health system that's the envy of most of its neighbours, including the mighty US. Here's Ginny Stein.

GINNY STEIN: In Cuba, appearances can be deceiving. This crumbling nation, one of the world's last outposts of communism, has struggled under economic sanctions for almost half a century, but while it may be one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, its medical report card is now the envy of most of its neighbours.

DR JEANNIE ELLIS, PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST: :Infant mortality rate, under-five mortality, maternal morbidity and mortality rate, life expectancy - all of these health care indicators are far better than any other country in the region. You know, this crazy situation - how has Cuba done it? How has Cuba achieved that? How have they managed, with such severe sanctions against them, to achieve that?

In Cuba, armed with little more than the absolute basics, even a facelift is possible - and it's free.

DR OSCAR, (Translation): Not in that direction. Let's go up.

DR VIVIAN, (Translation): Not in that direction..

DR OSCAR, (Translation): You see the wound is like this. Then you cut it here and here.

Today Maria Elena Yena is having plastic surgery to remove a scar from her neck. But this is not an operation for the faint-hearted patient - Maria is wide awake. In more affluent nations such a procedure would be done under a general anaesthetic. The only pain relief here is administered locally.

DR OSCAR, (Translation): Your nasal lines are already gone. Before that you had a hole and now its gone.

Three hours after the operation began, and as other patients have come and gone, this procedure is coming to an end.

DR OSCAR, (Translation): You will feel a little bit dizzy now. You will feel first some pain in the left side. Because that is the side we operated on first. Patient: Of course.

Maria is just moments from going home.

DR OSCAR, (Translation): Let's sit you up. Hold onto this with your hand. When I tell you please open your mouth. Open it now. It's possible that this will feel very tight at night.

MARIA ELENA YENA, (Translation): This is where it feels tight.

She's pleased to have taken the first step in removing the scar from her neck.

MARIA ELENA YENA, (Translation): I am very happy. Before when I got dressed, and at the place I worked I need to look good. We work with foreign conductors and everybody should like nice, but the scar was very ugly.

General surgeon Dr Vivian Revilla Rodriguez says the surgery's success goes to show that a lot can be done with a little.

DR VIVIAN REVILLA RODRIGUEZ, GENERAL SURGEON (Translation): I think, there is no doubt that high tech plays a very big role but I think that this kind of medicine that we practice which is not that high tech helps us to use more traditional procedures and train us better. And after getting the experience in this low-tech environment when you find yourself in a high tech world you can cope better, you're very well prepared. Maybe this sort of primitive way of work helps I would say.

Despite the impact of sanctions, something appears to be working here, for it's not just its poor neighbours that Cuba has managed to surpass, in terms of basic health indicators. According to UNICEF, Cuba's infant mortality rate in 2005 was lower than the United States', and life expectancy rivals most developed nations.

DANIEL PURCALLAS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION, HAVANA (Translation): Cuba has been preparing for this for decades. Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country in Latin America, by a long shot, followed by Uruguay. I can't remember the exact figure right now, but it's around one doctor per 200 inhabitants. This is a terrific ratio in comparison with the rest of the continent....

Dr Jeannie Ellis is an Australian public health specialist who has lived and worked in Cuba.

DR JEANNIE ELLIS: Having worked in other countries, I don't know any other country where everyone in the community can walk to their local doctor. If they can't walk to the doctor the doctor will do a home visit because the doctor can walk to the house. I mean, that is amazing. I mean, not even in first-world countries is there - can I think of another system where that exists.

Dr Yamirka Estevez is one of Cuba's tens of thousands of doctors working at the country's first line of medical defence - as a neighbourhood family doctor. Right now she's on her way to see an elderly patient too sick and frail to make it to her clinic.

DR YAMIRKA ESTEVEZ, (Translation): Good afternoon, good afternoon.

A typical afternoon is spent making home visits, a pattern of health care carried out by family doctors across the country, even in rural areas.

DR YAMIRKA ESTEVEZ, (Translation): Can you please help her sit up, here in the bed so I can check her? You are sitting up. Perfect. How beautiful.

Fransisco Mena Cartaya, or Pancho as he likes to be called, has been caring for his wife with the help of their son since she became ill with diabetes.

FRANSISCO RODRIGUEZ MENA CARTAYA, (Translation): I called her this morning and now you see they are here. They always come very fast. There is no delay. They give the best attention. I cannot complain.

He's a loyal cadre, or 'historico', as the elder generation of Cubans who were alive at the time of Cuba's revolution, are called.

FRANSISCO RODRIGUEZ MENA CARTAYA, (Translation): Money? Money? No. No. Even medicine, that is free in Cuba. No everything is free. Who said that it cost money?

He's full of enthusiasm for his country's health care system.

FRANSISCO RODRIGUEZ MENA CARTAYA, (Translation): I believe according to what I know, the health system like we have in Cuba, there is no place in the world with such a system. I can guarantee that. I have been in the United States. My mother was there and she died there. And I saw things there I did not like. I did not like them. When you go to a hospital if you don't have money you will die.

In Cuba, free access to health care is more than just an expectation - it's considered a birthright. Dr Yamirka is optimistic her patient will recover.

DR YAMIRKA ESTEVEZ, (Translation): I have recommended what we call home care, which is given to those patients who need to be followed up in their treatment. The proper treatment has been set out and she should recover fine.

She's proud of her profession, but in a country where Cuban doctors are paid as little as $10 a week, this was one question she was not comfortable answering as government minders stood by.

REPORTER, (Translation): Does it matter to you that you don't make that much money?

DR YAMIRKA ESTEVEZ, (Translation): It's better I don't answer that question.

When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959, half of the country's doctors fled overseas, but the nation's health system and its level of education have since become much-flagged cornerstones of the Cuban revolution. President Castro once decreed that if Cuba ever surpassed the United States in public health it would be Cuba's historical revenge for decades of hostility and sanctions, which target medicines, medical technology and medical information. In Cuba, the cold war is alive and well.

SPEAKER AT RALLY, (Translation): Bush keeps saying “I am a war time President” to justify increasing his control.

Today the 79-year-old leader is once again trading punches with his archenemy, the United States, this time in retaliation against moves to adorn its mission with electronic tickertape relaying news from the outside world into this highly censored state, a move that's earned the US's newly-arrived envoy a nickname.

REPORTER: You've been labelled 'the little gangster' by the President. It's obviously a term that doesn't particularly concern you? Is it what you expected?

MICHAEL PARMLY, US SPECIAL INTEREST OFFICER, HAVANA: Oh, I think at this point I've come to expect almost anything from this regime. I'm not surprised by anything from this regime.

These flags are being raised in what was once the car park of the US mission to block the messages from public view and to honour victims of what it considers US-sponsored violence against Cuba. The United States is standing firm by its policy of imposing wide-ranging economic sanctions, which also target the health sector.

MICHAEL PARMLY: The aim is to not provide resources to a totalitarian regime - it's that simple. In a country where the economy is 95-98% state-controlled, state-owned, any money that comes into the country is going to go - 95, 98% of it - to the state apparatus, it's not going to go to the Cuban people.

The United States remains the world's largest medical market. All major pharmaceutical companies vie for business there and to deal with Cuba could be costly. So, unable to import medicines, Cuba started to make its own for use at home and to sell overseas. Using more than US$1 billion in state funding, Cuban scientists' biggest success so far has been its hepatitis B vaccine.

REPORTER: How many countries are you selling that to?

DR MANUAL RAICES PEREZ-CASTANEDA, CENTRE FOR GENETIC ENGINEERING AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: We are commercialising hepatitis B to many countries, more than 44 countries, in fact.

Last year biotech exports doubled to US$300 million - a major boost to Cuba's health budget. Manuel Raices Perez-Castaneda is a research scientist turned business executive at one of Cuba's largest biotechnology institutes.

DR MANUAL RAICES PEREZ-CASTANEDA: We receive an investment of US$1,000 million in the '90s, and with all the product we have generated we have paid back already all this investment and we are working right now in positive cash flow.

DR JEANNIE ELLIS: I guess, as the saying goes, adversity is the mother of creativity and it's true - Cuba has had to, in the face of adversity, invest heavily in biotechnology to develop their own vaccines. Cuba develops its own vaccines and then sells those vaccines to other, poorer countries for a cheaper price than they would have to buy vaccines on the international market that are produced by big pharmaceutical companies from the United States.

There's no doubt that Cuba's medical achievements have won it kudos at home and abroad, but it's the training of thousands of international medical students for free that's marking Cuba's stamp on the region.

DR JUAN CARRIZO ESTEVEZ,LATIN AMERICAN MEDICAL SCHOOL DIRECTOR,(Translation): This project is totally free. This is a gesture of solidarity on behalf of Cuba that follows the ethics set down from the start of the Revolution. In Cuba, education is free and it's the same with those countries we have training agreements with. In this school nobody pays anything. Everything is paid for by the Cuban government.

The Pan American Medical School is the brainchild of President Castro. More than 12,000 students are currently studying here. They come from as far a field as East Timor. A 6-year, all expenses paid study program aimed at mass producing doctors for the developing world. The first class graduated last year and have now returned home to work, a condition of the course.

DR JUAN CARRIZO ESTEVEZ, (Translation): I think it is remarkable how far this project, the Latin American Medical School will reach in the future, In ten years from now we will have trained between 100,000 and 150,000 students.....

This is medical diplomacy at work, though it's not something the school's director will admit.

DR JUAN CARRIZO ESTEVEZ, (Translation): We don't use that term. I think that Cuba in a very humble way in the name of solidarity contributes to the world by sharing what we have and not just what we have leftover.

Nakita Thomas is a second year medical student. She's one of a group of 70 from the United States.

NAKITA THOMAS, THIRD YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT: The majority of people that are here are from immigrant parents and from cities that are under-represented you know, on the poorer end of the class system, I guess you can say, so on that level we are majority, minorities in the States - of colour, Latinos, African Americans, Caribbean Americans.

It may be illegal for American citizens to visit Cuba but there's a legal loophole when it comes to studying for free. But it's not just medical knowledge she'll be taking home.

NAKITA THOMAS: The thing that I am actually very, very pleased about is the lessons that I am learning outside of the classroom, actually. I mean, I come from such a place that is so filled with consumption and individuality and to come to a country where it's more about me, my brother, my sister, helping - not more of just me, mine and what I can get - and learning that a lot of the things that we have in the States is really not necessary. Here I am doing without and I am fine.

Cuba itself currently has one of the best doctor to patient ratios in the world and its own training programs are producing surplus doctors. Like most of the students here, Denet Fontane Alvarez is set to graduate in a few years time and her first posting will probably be overseas.

DENET FONTANE, FIRST YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT,(Translation): I like to help the needy, not only from Cuba but from other countries. It is a beautiful career, a very human one, a selfless career which aids anyone who needs help. First you have to like medicine, it is a career that demands a lot of effort and sacrifice and dedication. And I said you need to like medicine. In Cuba we have the opportunity that anyone who likes medicine has the door open to them.

The United States sees the export of Cuba's medical missionaries in a different light.

MICHAEL PARMLY: The trade-off being - OK, we will send doctors to your country, we will take patients from your country but we expect your support on UN votes, we expect your support on economic issues around the world, and that's the payment that's made.

Cuba's overseas medical corps now numbers more than 27,000. It has dispatched doctors across Latin America, with Venezuela being the largest recipient. Cuba's deal with Venezuela swaps doctors for oil. Cuba gets 90,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 15 years - a cut-price deal on oil reported to be worth up to a billion dollars. In return, Venezuela gets more than 22,000 Cuban doctors.

DR JUAN TRAINA, CENTRE OF STUDY ON THE CUBAN ECONOMY, (Translation): The agreement with Venezuela, or at least the public agreement with Venezuela, is that Cuba supplies services to Venezuela and not only medical services. A common account has been established in which it compensates Cuban imports with Venezuelan services. I don't have an exact figure of how much money does Cuba make out its doctors in Venezuela, but a part of this money is used to pay for the oil. But I sustain that the most important thing here is the stability of supplies of oil from Venezuela to Cuba.

There is no doubt that medicine in Cuba is now big business. Revenues raised across the health sector now rival those generated from tourism. Cuban authorities are reluctant to release official figures, but government economist Dr Juan Traina says figures released last year give an indication of the worth of the health sector.

DR JUAN TRAINA: Around 2 billion, 2.5 billion, maybe.

REPORTER: And the tourism sector?

DR JUAN TRAINA: It is the same figures.

And now Cuba has combined its health and tourism sectors, profiting from medical tourism. Scores of Venezuelans are lining up for free eye surgery in Havana as part of the two nations' medical care-for-oil deal.

DR ALBERTO BARRIENTOS, EYE SURGEON,(Translation): Be careful. Don't lean on this. Move closer.

REPORTER: Where is he from?


Not all patients get this for free. Medical tourism has become a nice little earner for Cuba at this state-run hospital for foreigners.

ELIZABETH RAMOS SANCHEZ, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, CAMILO CIENFUEGOS (Translation): The clinic has 62 rooms. It's running at full capacity. Having lots of our patients under day care is part of our strategy. We also have patients in hotels. That's the reason why we ask patients to send their records in advance. The clinic is now totally packed.

Matthias Cuno is following the lead of his uncle in coming to Cuba from Germany to seek treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, or tunnel vision.

MATTHIAS CUNO, INTERNATIONAL PATIENT, GERMAN (Translation): My uncle also had the disease. Its genetic. My uncle came to Cuba for the treatment. We found out about this clinic through the television and from other sources. After he received the treatment I decided to come here. I came last year for my first operation. And now this is my second trip to follow it up.

The United States - a nation where medicine is very much big business - has responded by accusing and condemning Cuba for attempting to do the same.

REPORTER: Why is health and medicine targeted?

MICHAEL PARMLY: Because medicine has a humanitarian aspect and it has a business aspect and so what we are targeting is the business aspect, and so much of what Cuban medicine is, is a business. It has nothing to do with the humanitarian side - you know, the Hippocratic oath and curing someone who is sick. It's about business and it's about cold, hard business.

Cuba's health system has evolved out of necessity. The battle to beat the sanctions is a constant in everyone's lives, but there is also hope that if the US ever eased or dismantled its economic blockade, increased prosperity would flow to all.

DR JUAN TRAINA, (Translation): And I am convinced that if the United States were to lift its sanctions against Cuba many Americans would come to Cuba to get treatment and to solve their health problems because they are not covered by medical insurance. And Cuba would become a cheaper option, offering even better than what is available to them in the US.

What are friends for? AND Giving education and hope to those who need it

Here is a little taste from a good article on the Wall Street Journal today on the assistance Venezuela is giving to Bolivia:

New President Has Bolivia Marching to Chavez's Beat

La Paz, Bolivia - Since Evo Morales took office as president here in January, the coca grower turned socialist politician has aligned his country so closely with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that it is sometimes difficult to tell where one government begins and the other ends.

After the election of the populist, for instance, foreign steel companies were told they would have to renegotiate a proposed deal to develop a huge iron-ore deposit known as El Mutun. But they didn't count on facing Venezuelan government experts on the Bolivian side of the bargaining table.

During an April 25 session with India's Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., two Venezuelan experts whispered into the ears of their Bolivian counterparts and passed them notes, says Juan Mogrovejo, a representative of Jindal Steel who attended the meetings. Then the Bolivians hardened their terms, demanding that the length of the contract be cut to 20 years from 40. "The proposed contract changed radically," Mr. Mogrovejo says. Other companies have also expressed dismay at the new terms.

So the steel company execs probably thought they were going to have an easy time dealing with some naive green horn Bolivians. Wouldn't it have been nice to be a fly on the wall and see the expressions on their faces when they realized that instead they were facing experienced Venezuelans who were likely on to all their tricks!

This is precisely the type of collaboration between countries that is so very helpful yet costs almost nothing. Kudos to Chavez and Morales for doing this.

And there is more to come from this article when I get around to typing it in - so stay tuned for updates to this post.

Giving education and hope to those who need it

Today there was a good article on the new Bolivarian University in Venezuela in the Washington Post. In theory there has been free education in Venezuela for quite some time given through the main public university, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, or UCV. However, rather than being the province of poor but talented and hardworking studends the UCV has become another playground of the rich with some from the middle class thrown in for good measure. Don't expect to run into people from Caracas's poorer areas such as Petare, El Valle, or Antimano there. The poor are effectively excluded by entrance exams that their primary education does little to prepare them for.

To counterbalance this the Chavez government set up the Bolivarian University which is fairly well described in the article:

Chavez Educates Masses at a University in His Image

By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 25, 2006; A21

CARACAS, Venezuela -- As his students copied down their homework assignments, Jose Fernando Benitez reminded them why they should take the work seriously: There were their own interests to consider, but also those of President Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

"The government is spending millions on you," Benitez said before the students in his communications class at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela spilled into the halls. "It is not an option to avoid reading and doing the work. You have an obligation to do your best."

The vast majority of students at the three-year-old university grew up in poverty. Now they are recipients of a tuition-free education. They are also part of a massive underclass that Chavez aims to empower through the social programs that have fed his domestic popularity. The school, the cornerstone of those programs, is aimed at educating millions and promoting the sort of social activism that Chavez says can help Venezuela's poor majority to overcome decades of oppression by the rich.

The government has already built a network of health and education programs. But Chavez has promised more, and to keep those promises from souring into disillusionment, officials acknowledge they will need a lot of industrious bodies, all tuned to roughly the same ideological wavelength.

Thousands of students expected to staff free public health clinics as physicians will get their diplomas at Bolivarian University. So will social workers slated for neighborhood literacy centers, and journalists whom the government believes are necessary alternatives to an opposition-controlled national media.

Even before its first graduation ceremony, the school has become the largest university in Venezuela. About 180,000 students are enrolled, but that number is a mere suggestion of its ambition: The government hopes the student body will grow to 1 million within three years, with more than 190 satellite classrooms throughout the country.

The government's political opposition, a group increasingly relegated to the sidelines of Venezuelan public life, sees the university as a thinly disguised propaganda factory that takes advantage of the country's most vulnerable citizens.

"Unfortunately, the government is using education as a political tool," said Julio Borges, an opposition leader running for president against Chavez in December's elections. "The Bolivarian University is just another vehicle, a bridge, to politicize the population."

But Venezuela's people are already thoroughly politicized; even the university's physical structures are potent political symbols. Most of the buildings, including those on the main Caracas campus, once served as headquarters for the state petroleum company, an institution purged of many anti-Chavez employees after a crippling strike against the government in 2002. Offices once reserved for executives who favored free-market economics are now decorated with posters of the socialist icon Che Guevara.

Aside from a few bulletin boards and scattered posters, the walls in the corridors are largely bare, an attempt to protect students from what administrators call the "mercantilization of education." There are no "for sale" boards here, and no traces of corporate sponsorship.

Instead, displays such as the one behind glass in the main building's lobby command attention. It's an oversize exhibit featuring motionless marionettes. Some are gathered outside a scaled-down Mercal, the subsidized grocery stores that Chavez has opened in poor neighborhoods. Doctors dressed in blue scrubs operate on a patient in a public health clinic. Hard-hatted maintenance men wearing Chavez campaign shirts sweep the make-believe streets clean.

And looking out over all of it is a plasticized model of El Comandante, sitting behind a desk on the simulated set of Chavez's weekly television show, "Alo, Presidente," wearing a red beret and military jacket. His prominent position on an elevated platform and his emphatically raised left arm suggest he's not just another puppet; instead, he looks more like the one pulling the strings.

'The New Man'

Alejandro Padron is like a lot of the students here: 19 years old, from a poor family, who grew up loving sports more than books and never really thought of his long-term prospects until faced with the drab inevitability of a service industry job. He said he took entrance exams for the Central University of Venezuela, and -- like most of his friends -- didn't make it. He watched as some of those friends paid fees to take the tests over and over, and began to resent the hopelessness of it. College in Venezuela, he decided, was a racket only the rich could beat.

"You begin to invest in something you'll never have," he said. "Then you realize that it's just another way to keep you enslaved."

There was no question about getting accepted at Bolivarian University, because everyone gets in. It doesn't matter if applicants spent the past 11 years in prison for murder -- as did a 49-year-old law student who said he is eager for a second chance -- or if they're foreign tourists interested in social activism in Venezuela. Inclusion is the golden rule here. So Padron enrolled last year and decided to major in politics.

But when classes started, he had second thoughts.

"My first day was frustrating, because I saw a lot of people who were already ideologically formed -- you know, Lenin and Marx," he said. "I was like, 'What is that? It must be a religion.' " But he soon made friends with a tight group of young students, all frank idealists who said they were fully committed to the Bolivarian Revolution, a model derived from the legacy of Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator. Whatever political commentary Padron can offer today, he said, he learned "with the help of my comrades."

"The goal of Bolivarian University is to form 'the New Man,' " said Padron, dropping a term coined by another revolutionary, Guevara, to refer to someone who is selflessly dedicated to bettering society. "The New Man is not a technocrat, but rather is proficient in various fields -- professional and technological -- and is completely focused on his community. He is a humanist."

Padron now immerses himself in his class readings. The Caracas campus's library, in the basement of the main building, holds a generous collection of political texts, the vast majority from Latin American authors aligned with Chavez's socialist vision but with a few titles from opposition leaders sprinkled in. Like Chavez, the library does not demonstrate shyness in proclaiming its distaste for the U.S. government and for the Bush administration in particular. A poster on the wall beside the checkout counter shows a mouse with fur painted with the stars and stripes of a U.S. flag; the mouse is caught dead in a trap. The American author with the most titles under his name in the political section is Michael Moore.

Padron and other students sat at an outdoor cafe on the campus grounds one recent evening, chatting long after the cashiers had locked their registers and stacked the rest of the chairs in a corner. Conversation turned to the United States, the country that Chavez has identified as his nemesis, the "empire" that he regularly taunts as an oppressor of Latin Americans. The opinions expressed at the table matched those of their president: The students said they respected U.S. founders and activists such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X but professed bafflement at what, in their view, was the apathetic regard for the poor at the root of free-market capitalism espoused by the United States.

"In the 21st century, it seems as if the people in the United States are asleep," said Cesar Trompiz, 19, a law student and a friend of Padron's. "It seems like they don't even know what's going on in their own country."

That won't happen to them, the students said, noting that they value community service over individual comfort. They're not sure exactly what they will do after graduating, but their jobs probably will be somehow connected to the public sector.

Critics of the university, however, wonder how the flood of Bolivarian graduates can be absorbed into the Venezuelan economy.

"When they get to the job market, I think they are going to be even more frustrated than they were before they got to the university," said Evelyn Rousseo, a retired high school principal in Caracas. "I think the long-term effect on the students is that they are going to feel deceived, that it was all a big lie."

'The New Regimen'

A small crowd gathered in the university parking lot earlier this month to board buses to attend a political rally downtown. All wore red, the trademark color of the Bolivarian revolution.

But instead of taking to the streets to protest what they don't like about their government, the students here march in support of it. The flier taped to the front doors of the main university building defined that day's rally as an occasion to stand up for Chavez and against "Yankee Imperialism."

"As Socrates said, we're all political animals," said Nelson Sosa, 26, a second-year law student. "But we have to support good politics, not ambiguous ones."

Sosa and other students said they would be free to protest against Chavez's government if they chose to, but they haven't chosen to yet. There is no sign of an opposition presence anywhere at the university.

University administrators say that absence does not represent an absence of democratic principles. Temir Porras Ponceleon, the vice minister of higher education and the vice rector of Bolivarian University, said those who make up the political opposition in Venezuela today are like those who defended a return to a monarchy after the French Revolution. The political system underwent a fundamental shift when Chavez took power in 1998, he suggested, and the opposition must adapt.

"My hope is that inside of the new political regimen, we develop a center, a left and a right -- but they all have to accept the fundamentals of the new regimen," Ponceleon said. "Different political tendencies can exist, and only time will tell how they will evolve . . . and still respect the new regimen."

If all goes according to plan, the millions of students graduating from Bolivarian University in coming years will be the ones largely responsible for determining that.

"The state needs professionals who share the fundamental basics of the republic," Ponceleon said. "That is to say, who share the principles like public education that is truly public, to guarantee the permanence of the republic."

Unfortunatly, as with everything in Venezuela, the opposition has to rear its ugly head:

"Unfortunately, the government is using education as a political tool," said Julio Borges, an opposition leader running for president against Chavez in December's elections. "The Bolivarian University is just another vehicle, a bridge, to politicize the population."

Of course Mr. Borges got his education at Oxford University in England. I'm sure from his point of view if you can't go to someplace worthwhile like Oxford why bother. This is typical of the wealthy opposition, only they should have aspirations and dreams. The remaining 90% of Venezuelans should just know their place and accept their lot. Fortunately, most Venezuelans aren't accepting any of that non-sense anymore.

Australian neo-colonialists (operating on behalf of Bush neo-cons) target East Timor's oil, launch a rebellion against East Timor's government

More on East Timor's "sudden rebellion." According to Australian sources, East Timor's long sought independence is in severe jeopardy as a result of collusion between the United States, Australia, Indonesia, and the World Bank under pro-Indonesian president Paul Wolfowitz. More astounding are reports that Indonesian intelligence has thoroughly penetrated the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), by using blackmail techniques involving pedophilia and bribes. These techniques have also been used to target former Australian and U.S. ambassadors and other diplomats and military personnel assigned to Indonesia. Wolfowitz is a former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia.

Australian sources report that Woodside, Australia's largest oil and natural gas company, has been playing hardball recently with East Timor's government over disputed oil blocks in the Timor Sea. Woodside has also been active in oil deals in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, a major reason for Australia's troop deployment to that war-torn nation.

Fighting continues between loyal East Timorese government troops and rebel troops loyal to Maj. Alfredo Reinado, who is said to have been supported by secret contracts, arms, and training supplied by covert Australian private military contractors with a wink and a nod from the Bush and John Howard administrations. Bush and Howard met in Washington just prior to East Timor's military rebellion. Australian sources report that the scenario is the same as employed by Autralian neo-colonialists in the civil war-plagued Solomon Islands: secretly support a rebellion, force the government to call on Australian military assistance, and then declare the country a "failed state" and permanently establish a military and political presence in the country.

East Timor's government led by Xanana Gusmao, wise to this Australian ploy, a first denied entry to Australian troops, instead calling on help from Malaysia (as a counter to Indonesia) and Portugal (one of the few nations East Timor can trust). However, after the denial of Australian troop entry, Gusmao witnessed a drastic upturn in the rebellion by ex-East Timorese military rebels that directly threatened the entire East Timor government with a coup. The East Timor executive was then forced to accept Australian troops, which are now pouring into the country ahead of troops from Malaysia, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Quietly looking on is Indonesia, which hopes that a new government in East Timor beholden to the multinational oil industry will give former President Suharto's family's oil firms, trading firms that deal with the state-owned Pertamina, lucrative deals for East Timor's off-shore oil blocks. Meanwhile, big oil has now re-introduced war to East Timor, a nation that lost 100,000 of its people in a brutal war with Indonesia, supported by the past Republican administrations of Ford, Reagan, and Bush I.

"Hitler Hayden" "If not asked, don't tell."

Hayden's policy: "If not asked, don't tell." Gen. Michael Hayden told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his recent confirmation hearing to be CIA Director that the Bush White House never asked him if there were ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. According to NSA sources, Hayden, who as NSA Director, had intercepts proving that no ties existed between Saddam and Al Qaeda, allowed the White House to use the Saddam-Al Qaeda link to justify its war even though he had evidence proving otherwise. Look for Hayden to cherry pick more intelligence at the CIA.

In addition, Hayden refused to criticize the torture technique known as "water boarding," the near drowning of prisoners. For the CIA, it looks like it will be more of the same (and worse). Hayden did not earn the nickname "Hitler Hayden" at NSA for no reason.

NSA NAZI SNOOPS have Checkpoint Charlies currently deployed throughout the Internet

The most privacy-invasive technology that NSA is using to conduct vacuum cleaning of phone calls, e-mail, faxes, and Voice of IP calls is the use of downstream switches that disassemble and reassemble packets after they pass through commercial packet assemblers-disassemblers (PADs). By doing this, NSA can choose what transmissions are reassembled and sent on to their destination. Suspicious packets are held for storage and analysis. Internet users who are experiencing lost emails can thank this technology, which throws a virtual digital checkpoint on major Internet backbones. NSA is using downstream PADs provided by Narus, NICE, and Verisign.

WMR has also been informed that unconfirmed US ambassador to the UN continues to use NSA intercepts to target the delegations of nations who are not supporting various Bush administration efforts to reorganize the UN and have it fall into line with US foreign policy goals. Bolton, Michael Hayden, and then-US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, engaged in a surge surveillance of UN Security Council and other delegations prior to the Iraq war. That surveillance has now reportedly been extended to journalists, including American citizens, who are accredited to cover the UN. Cell phone and other calls to and from UN offices in New York are considered international since UN headquarters is recognized as international territory.

Christian zionist on Islamic "heresy" and Jewish "thrift"

Jews sans frontieres
An Anti-Zionist blog - browsing the media

From Media Matters for America here's Pat Robertson, a leading Christian zionist:
Summary: On The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson said "Islam is essentially a Christian heresy" that "picked up snippets of the gospels," and other Biblical texts and is now taking "everything that Jesus said" and "transport[ing it] into this fictional Mahdi." Robertson also perpetuated Jewish stereotypes in a discussion about the need for Israeli soup kitchens, stating that "When you think of Jewish people, you think of successful businessmen" who are "very wise in finance and who are prosperous." Robertson later added that "[i]t shocks people" to find out "there's poverty in Israel," because "Jewish people" are "very thrifty" and "extraordinarily good business people."

With friends like these.....

French intelligence, Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE): "CIA and MI-6 controlled important Al Qaeda training camp as late as 1995"

WMR has obtained a confidential "France Only" report of the French intelligence service, Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE), that states that the CIA and Britain's MI-6 maintained effective control of an important Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan as late as 1995, fully two years after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, an attack that was launched with the help of Sudanese intelligence officers loyal to Osama Bin Laden. The CIA and MI-6 permitted control of training operations at Darunta, an "Arab Afghan" base located near the camp of Osama Bin Laden and used to manufacture explosives and chemical weapons and train in their use, to pass to the control of Ibn Cheikh, a Libyan leader of Al Qaeda.

The DGSE report, dated January 9, 2001, is classified "Defense Confidential" and "National (French) Use Only" states, "Besides the Maghreb enclave, the training at Darunta, which, for approximately 2 months, mainly involved the manufacture and the use of the explosives by terrorists. This training, initially provided at the camp of Khalden, in Paktia, was transferred during 1995, on the order of Ibn Cheikh, to Darunta, in order to slide [the training] from the control of the security services of certain countries, in particular the United States and the United Kingdom."

Classified French DGSE intelligence report: Al Qaeda training camp passed from control of CIA to Bin Laden in 1995.

The report continues by stating that in 1998, the training was expanded to include the use of C-4 plastic explosives and different types of detonators (electric, acid, etc.). Training also included the use of homemade explosives (like improvised explosive devices killing so many in Iraq today) and poisons such as arsenic, cyanide, gas, diamond powder, nicotine, and ricin. After Al Qaeda took control of Darunta from the CIA and MI-6, the camp was used to train Al Qaeda operatives to launch a series of deadly attacks, including the November 19, 1995 attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, the 1998 attacks on the US embassy in Nairobi, the abortive Dec. 31, 1999 "Millennium" attack on Los Angeles International Airport by Algerian Ahmed Ressam, and the attack on the USS Cole.

In 1995, James Woolsey left as CIA Director and was replaced by John Deutch. Deutch's deputy was George Tenet, who previously served in Bill Clinton's National Security Council. The National Security Adviser was Tony Lake. George Tenet The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) was chaired by Larry Combest of Lubbock, Texas and 1995 was the year Porter Goss joined the CIA oversight committee. On November 12, 2002, only a week after winning his 10th term, Combest suddenly announced his resignation from the House. Goss took over the HPSCI gavel from Combest in 1997, after serving only two years on the committee. In 1995, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was Arlen Specter, a person whose fingerprints, like those of Goss, have been all over shady intelligence operations since the early 1960s. CIA intelligence analyst Michael Scheuer formed the CIA's Bin Laden Unit in 1996.

Two significant items emerge from the DGSE report. One is the fact that the CIA and MI-6 were dealing with a Libyan Al Qaeda member at the same time Libyan leader Muammar el Qaddafi had declared war on Al Qaeda. Unlike the United States, Libya issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Bin Laden on March 16, 1998. With this treasure trove of proof of U.S. (and British) support for Al Qaeda, Qaddafi had the U.S. and the neo-cons over the barrel. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Bush administration now considers Qaddafi (once branded as terrorist number one) to be a good friend.

Interpol arrest warrant for Bin Laden.

The other item is the training of Ahmed Ressam at Darunta. Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was charged with removing classified documents from the National Archives concerning the Ressam bombing plot. The question remains -- what were in these documents and did they have anything to do with the CIA's fingerprints on the Darunta camp?