Tuesday, May 29, 2007

As Free As the Air . . . waves

Broadcast television channels will soon vacate these airwaves when they go digital by 2009. If used right, these public airways will revolutionize the ways we connect to laptops, cell phones, PDAs, music players and other mobile Internet devices. They can deliver an open Internet into your house without the need for a telephone wire or cable modem.

Phone and cable lobbyists are pressuring the FCC to sell companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast our airwaves so they can horde spectrum and stifle competitive and cheaper alternatives to their established networks.

This would be a disaster. After years of phone and cable company control over Internet access, the United States has fallen to 16th in the world in high-speed Internet rankings, with few choices and some of the highest prices for the slowest speeds in the world. We will continue this decline as long as we let AT&T, Verizon and Comcast dictate the terms of Internet access for the majority of Americans.

These phone and cable giants refuse to open their networks to competitive applications and services. They lobby Washington to stifle new innovations like Internet phone service and to destroy Net Neutrality, the one principle that protects equal opportunity and free choice on the Web.

We need to end their stranglehold and demand a better Internet for everyone:

With open networks, the rest of the world has rapidly adopted high-speed, Internet platforms for education, economic innovation, creativity and civic participation. Countries like South Korea, Japan, France and Canada have leapfrogged the United States and now offer faster Internet connections at far lower prices.

It's time we caught up.

Act now and help clear the path for a technology that will deliver faster, more open and affordable Internet for everyone.

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press
www.freepress.net

1. Most people haven't heard about this issue yet. It's really important that we spread the word and get people involved. After you send your comment to the FCC, tell at least five friends to take action.

2. For more information about what's at stake with our public airwaves, read these recent articles in Wired Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Forbes Magazine and MyDD.

3. To learn more about the public interest and the public airwaves, visit the "Save Our Spectrum" site, www.freepress.net/spectrum/


Earlier, speaking of Free Press, Venezuela news for the week ending on Friday, May 25th, 2007

RCTV APPROACHES NON-RENEWAL, AMID CONTROVERSY

The Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled last Friday to uphold a decision made by the National Telecommunications Commission not to renew the broadcasting license of opposition-affiliated channel RCTV. Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales ruled that licensing issues are strictly the jurisdiction of the telecommunications commission (Contael), the institutional body overseeing the use of national media as a public good in accordance with guidelines set out in the 1999 constitution. The Director of Venezuelan National Radio, Helena Salcedo, similarly defended the decision in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post on Monday, saying "The expiration of RCTV's license will not affect the Venezuelan government's commitment to freedom of expression and information. Freedom of expression is alive and well in Venezuela, and the overwhelming majority of the media remain in private hands."

Friday's decision came despite the protests of RCTV owner and media mogul Marcel Granier, who along with allies in the political opposition, have staged several large public protest in defense of the station. The Agence France Press reported Tuesday that three RCTV supporters were arrested in possession of three submachine guns, a handgun and shotguns during protests last Thursday. The men were detained on charges of conspiracy. Also in attendance was Manuel Rosales, the opposition presidential candidate defeated by President Chavez last December. Marches criticizing the non-renewal of RCTV -- known for its hit soap operas and active involvement in the 2002 attempted coup against Chavez -- have persisted alongside those that celebrate the end of the station's tenure, the Inter Press Service reported Monday.

An article in Counterpunch yesterday examined the RCTV issue and related accusations regarding censorship, finding that "the warnings of a move from democracy to dictatorship in Venezuela have been loud but lacking in evidence." However, this has been a key strategy of RCTV's owner Marcel Granier, who succeeded in making his channel a point of political debate abroad. Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., writes in an op-ed today in the Miami Herald that countries should join together in rejecting the non-renewal of RCTV. On the other hand, British Member of Parliament Colin Burgon takes a different viewpoint in the Guardian, encouraging the EU government to align with President Chavez and against neoconservative forces that have used the RCTV issue as part of a campaign against his administration. Burgon states: "the broadcaster failed to meet basic public-interest standards. The criterion for this assessment is similar to that used by the US Federal Communications Commission. RCTV will be free to broadcast via cable and satellite, which are available across the country."

U.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Christopher Dodd drafted a resolution rejecting the non-renewal. El Universal reports that the resolution would encourage the OAS to oppose the non-renewal. In response, Bernardo Álvarez, Venezuelan Ambassador to the White House, told lawmakers here that the Venezuelan government's refusal to renew RCTV's broadcasting license "was not based on the media's editorial stance," but rather, was an "independent decision" that the government's telecommunications commission is legally allowed to make as part of its duty to regulate the national airwaves, just as the FCC does in the U.S. Álvarez called the resolution submitted by Lugar and Dodd part of "a campaign of misinformation RCTV has been deploying."

RCTV's signal will expire at midnight this Sunday. It's share of the open-access airwaves will be allotted to the public broadcaster Televisora Venezolana Social (Teves). The board of the new channel was sworn in early this week, and according to the Inter-Press Service, is headed by the well-known journalist Lili Rodriguez. Questions about the level and quality of entertainment found on Teves are being debated by the public, and the Guardian reported today that some lament the loss of RCTV's famed soap operas.


WORKERS TO RECIEVE BACK PAY

Workers in Venezuela will be reimbursed in the amount of $652 million for discrepancies in pension payments dating back to the 1970s. According to a statement made by President Chavez Thursday, plans are also in the works for education: university workers will see a pay raise of up to 34% by the end of this year and student admissions exams will be reconsidered. Bloomberg reports: "Chavez, who is seeking to implement a socialist model in Venezuela different from Cuba's or China's, [announced that] education under the so-called ''Third Motor'' of his Bolivarian revolution should be carried out beyond classrooms, in factories, workshops, offices and fields."


MEASURES TAKEN TO ENSURE FOOD SUPPLY

Food shortages were the subject of a Wall Street Journal article Monday, which begins with a quote praising the free-market principle of allowing consumer prices to be determined by global supply and demand. A controlled exchange rate of 2,150 Bolivars to the US dollar is cited as the main source of the shortages in question. However, all governments make strategic decisions about whether to over- or under-value their currency to produce particular economic effects -- for example, making imports cheaper. While accusing Chavez for rejecting international markets, the piece also finds fault with the fact that the government is "shopping abroad with dollar reserves" to stock affordable foodstuffs at supermarkets.

Bloomberg reported today that new government legislation in Venezuela requires agricultural producers to address domestic demand before exporting foodstuffs. The measure is meant to address past food shortages. The Miami Herald reports on the ways in which business owners in Venezuela are reacting to the "threat" of greater government involvement in industry: "Some businessmen keep going and take advantage of the bonanza the country is going through and the credits offered by the government. Others stay in the country but do not invest in their companies' growth because they don't believe in the future. Others fold for fear of being punished if they don't comply with government demands on prices, taxes and production. Yet others keep their stores open but invest their profits abroad." A deep political divide may have polarized society, but despite alleged "threats" to business, elites still appear to have options.


PHONE COMPANY NATIONALIZED, PRICES LOWERED

The Venzuelan government completed its purchase of a controlling stake in telecommunications company CANTV in Caracas, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. A new board of directors for the company was appointed, and will be headed by Socorro Hernandez, whose background is in the oil industry. The Venezuelan government paid $1.3 billion to take control of 86.2% of shares of CANTV earlier this month. Once under new direction, CANTV quickly announced a decision to cut cellular phone service rates by 20%. In addition to lowering costs to mobile customers -- a reported 6.7 people nationwide -- CANTV will also install 1.2 million fixed telephone lines in impoverished areas by the end of the year. Bloomberg reported that low-income customers of CANTV will enjoy a 10% reduction in the cost of local calls and 15% reduction for long-distance calls. The 11% value-added tax on phone calls made by low-income users will be eliminated in July.


RACIAL ISSUES MAKE AN HISTORIC RETURN

Early this week, President Chavez has asked Pope Benedict XVI to apologize for suggesting that Native American Indians in Brazil were "purified" by Roman Catholic missionaries during colonization, comments which angered Indigenous leaders there and abroad. Reuters reported Monday that Chavez "accused the Pontiff on Friday of ignoring the "holocaust" that followed Christopher Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas." By Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI had issued a partial correction of the statements. Reuters reports that Benedict recognize religious colonization entailed "injustices and sufferings," but maintained that indigenous groups were "silently longing" for Christianity.

Many news sources reported this week that the U.S. actor Danny Glover has received financing from the Venezuelan government to produce a film about Toussaint L'Ouverture, an Haitian man who led his country out of slavery to become the world's first free Black republic around the turn of the 19th Century. Glover has in the past appeared on President Chavez's weekly televised address, and the two share an interest in anti-racist efforts. Bringing L'Ouverture's story to the big screen may revive interest in an important leader in the history of the Americas.


POSADA CARRILES STILL WANTED FOR TERRORISM

Venezuela and Cuba continue to protest the release of Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles by a U.S. court. The issue is now before the United Nations Security Council, and Venezuela's envoy to that body has accused Washington of "protection of a terrorist" and violating a 1922 extradition treaty signed by the two countries. Venezuela first requested the extradition of Posada in 2005, but this and subsequent petitions have been ignored, Reuters reported Wednesday. Venezuela has also asked the Organization of American States to condemn the U.S.'s release of Posada. Though Posada's bombings and other crimes have affected the citizens many countries in the Americas, a U.S. envoy to the OAS argued that "this is a bilateral issue between two OAS member states, not a multilateral issue.'' More than two weeks after charges against Posada were dropped by a Texas judge and the criminal allowed to go free in the U.S., the position of the OAS on the matter is still to be determined.


GLOBALIZATION BRINGS CHALLENGES

Finally, an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday finds that globalization holds few benefits for the poor. A correlation between globalization and inequality is cited, and the suggestion is made that the sense of alienation caused by globalization leads to social tensions and support for political leaders critical of unchecked market capitalism. Countries mentioned as examples are Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. With globalization, the increased movement of goods is often accompanied by human movement: the Miami Herald reports on Latin America's internal immigration problem, noting that the route from Colombia across the eastern border of that country into Venezuela sees the region's largest flow of migrants. As with immigration to the U.S., labor is the issue: new arrivals from other countries seek access to Venezuela's stronger job market. The Herald points out that President Chavez granted Venezuelan citizenship to about 500,000 undocumented migrants in 2004.


Media Advisory
Coup Co-Conspirators as Free-Speech Martyrs
Distorting the Venezuelan media story

5/25/07

The story is framed in U.S. news media as a simple matter of censorship: Prominent Venezuelan TV station RCTV is being silenced by the authoritarian government of President Hugo Chávez, who is punishing the station for its political criticism of his government.

According to CNN
reporter T.J. Holmes (5/21/07), the issues are easy to understand: RCTV "is going to be shut down, is going to get off the air, because of President Hugo Chávez, not a big fan of it." Dubbing RCTV "a voice of free speech,"Holmes explained, "Chavez, in a move that's angered a lot of free-speech groups, is refusing now to renew the license of this television station that has been critical of his government."

Though straighter, a news story by the Associated Press (5/20/07) still maintained the theme that the license denial was based simply on political differences, with reporter Elizabeth Munoz describing RCTV as "a network that has been critical of Chávez."

In a May 14 column, Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl called the action an attempt to silence opponents and more "proof" that Chávez is a "dictator." Wrote Diehl, "Chávez has made clear that his problem with [RCTV owner Marcel] Granier and RCTV is political."

In keeping with the media script that has bad guy Chávez brutishly silencing good guys in the democratic opposition, all these articles skimmed lightly over RCTV's history, the Venezuelan government's explanation for the license denial and the process that led to it.

RCTV and other commercial TV stations were key players in the April 2002 coup that briefly ousted Chávez's democratically elected government. During the short-lived insurrection, coup leaders took to commercial TV airwaves to thank the networks. "I must thank Venevisión and RCTV," one grateful leader remarked in an appearance captured in the Irish film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The film documents the networks' participation in the short-lived coup, in which stations put themselves to service as bulletin boards for the coup? hosting coup leaders, silencing government voices and rallying the opposition to a march on the Presidential Palace that was part of the coup plotters strategy.

On April 11, 2002, the day of the coup, when military and civilian opposition leaders held press conferences calling for Chávez's ouster, RCTV hosted top coup plotter Carlos Ortega, who rallied demonstrators to the march on the presidential palace. On the same day, after the anti-democratic overthrow appeared to have succeeded, another coup leader, Vice-Admiral Victor Ramírez Pérez, told a Venevisión reporter (4/11/02): "We had a deadly weapon: the media. And now that I have the opportunity, let me congratulate you."

That commercial TV outlets including RCTV participated in the coup is not at question; even mainstream outlets have acknowledged as much. As reporter Juan Forero, Jackson Diehl's colleague at the Washington Post, explained (1/18/07), "RCTV, like three other major private television stations, encouraged the protests," resulting in the coup, "and, once Chávez was ousted, cheered his removal." The conservative British newspaper the Financial Times reported (5/21/07), "[Venezuelan] officials argue with some justification that RCTV actively supported the 2002 coup attempt against Mr. Chávez."

As FAIR's magazine Extra!argued last November, "Were a similar event to happen in the U.S., and TV journalists and executives were caught conspiring with coup plotters, it's doubtful they would stay out of jail, let alone be allowed to continue to run television stations, as they have in Venezuela."

When Chávez returned to power the commercial stations refused to cover the news, airing instead entertainment programs?in RCTV's case, the American film Pretty Woman. By refusing to cover such a newsworthy story, the stations abandoned the public interest and violated the public trust that is seen in Venezuela (and in the U.S.) as a requirement for operating on the public airwaves. Regarding RCTV's refusal to cover the return of Chavez to power, Columbia University professor and former NPR editor John Dinges told Marketplace (5/8/07):

What RCTV did simply can't be justified under any stretch of journalisticprinciples?. When a television channel simply fails to report, simply goes off the air during a period of national crisis, notbecause they're forced to, but simply because they don't agree with what's happening, you've lost your ability to defend what you do on journalistic principles.


The Venezuelan government is basing its denial of license on RCTV's involvement in the 2002 coup, not on the station's criticisms of or political opposition to the government. Many American pundits and some human rights spokespersons have confused the issue by claiming the action is based merely on political differences, failing to note that Venezuela's media, including its commercial broadcasters, are still among the most vigorously dissident on the planet.

When Patrick McElwee of the U.S.-based group Just Foreign Policy
interviewed representatives of Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists?all groups that have condemned Venezuela's action in denying RCTV's license renewal?he found that none of the spokespersons thought broadcasters were automatically entitled to license renewals, though none of them thought RCTV's actions in support of the coup should have resulted in the station having its license renewal denied. This led McElwee to wonder, based on the rights groups' arguments, "Could it be that governments like Venezuela have the theoretical right to not to renew a broadcast license, but that no responsible government would ever do it?"

McElwee acknowledged the critics' point that some form of due process should have been involved in the decisions, but explained that laws preexisting Chávez's presidency placed licensing decision with the executive branch, with no real provisions for a hearings process: "Unfortunately, this is what the law, first enacted in 1987, long before Chávez entered the political scene, allows. It charges the executive branch with decisions about license renewal, but does not seem to require any administrative hearing. The law should be changed, but at the current moment when broadcast licenses are up for renewal, it is the prevailing law and thus lays out the framework in which decisions are made."

Government actions weighing on journalism and broadcast licensing deserve strong scrutiny. However, on the central question of a whether a government is bound to renew the license of a broadcaster when that broadcaster had been involved in a coup against the democratically elected government, the answer should be clear, as McElwee concludes:

The RCTV case is not about censorship of political opinion. It is about the government, through a flawed process, declining to renew a broadcast license to a company that would not get a license in other democracies, including the United States. In fact, it is frankly amazing that this company has been allowed to broadcast for 5 years after the coup, and that the Chávez government waited until its license expired to end its use of the public airwaves.

Feel free to respond to FAIR ( fair@fair.org ). We can't reply to everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate documented examples of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of your correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to fair@fair.org.

Free the Press . . . In June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make a major decision: Use the public airwaves for the public good, or turn them over to big companies who will stifle competition, innovation, and the wireless Internet revolution. http://www.civic.moveon.org/airwaves in all's interest, heh?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hello Kingsport!

Hey you in Kingsport! Hope to hear from you one day. Replications, originals and unique collectibles you stand out in my mind and memories as a very fine unique individual I am sure is still so young at heart, so fine with your time, with such soul like a Tawny port wine. Melba toast ok to bring? Let's get some fine cheese to spread, and make toast to new days, life, love and loving all life.
 
take care

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True? You decide for yourself I say it is a conspiracy!

. . .
Claims of 9/11 conspiracy have suspect running scared

Former Denverite says 9/11 work has made him a target

By Sue Lindsay, Rocky Mountain News
May 25, 2007

A former Federal Emergency Management Agency videographer accused of killing his wife in Denver is seeking political asylum in Argentina, claiming the U.S. government wants him silenced for what he saw in the smoldering ruins of the Twin Towers after 9/11.

Kurt Sonnenfeld's efforts to avoid extradition have gained interest from human rights organizations in South America and broad attention from conspiracy theorists on the Internet.

Sonnenfeld, 44, is charged with first-degree murder in the New Year's Day 2002 shooting death of his 36-year-old wife, Nancy, at the couple's home in Congress Park.

The case caused a sensation at the time, with friends describing Nancy as among the city's "beautiful people" and the two as "madly in love."

The charges against Sonnenfeld were dismissed just before trial in June 2002 after a note written by Nancy Sonnenfeld was found that supported Kurt Sonnenfeld's contention that she took her own life.

New charges were filed in 2004, however, after two Denver jail inmates came forward to say Sonnenfeld had confessed to them during his time in custody. By then, Sonnenfeld had remarried and was living in Argentina.

He has been fighting extradition ever since, describing the warrants against him as "a false pretext for other darker motives."

That drew a sharp rebuke Tuesday from Chief Denver District Attorney Michelle Amico.

"I have heard that nonsense from him . . . but then he has nothing to back it up," she said.

An Argentine judge refused to extradite Sonnenfeld in 2005 because of concerns that he could face the death penalty.

The U.S. Department of Justice appealed that decision, assuring the court that no death sentence would be sought, Amico said. The Justice Department has since been notified that the extradition is on hold while an asylum request is pending, a process that could take months or even years.

In a series of recent e-mails to the Rocky Mountain News, Sonnenfeld said Argentina's highest court had rejected the appeal and had sent his case back to the presiding judge for ratification.

Sonnenfeld did not bring up 9/11 when the initial murder case was pending against him or during a lengthy interview with the Rocky on the day he was released from jail.

He also declined to specifically discuss the World Trade Center in a 12-page, single-spaced document he sent to the newspaper in late-night e-mail sessions Sunday and Monday.

"You are asking me to antagonize the very people who, for whatever reason, desperately want me destroyed," Sonnenfeld wrote. "Frankly, I am afraid for the safety of my family. Please don't ask me about what information I have. This is not really the time or the forum."

As always, he maintained his innocence in his wife's death.

"I love Nancy. Nancy's death was tragic, heartbreaking and affected many people. But it is clear to everyone who knows the truth that she committed suicide. It was not a homicide," he wrote.

Sonnenfeld blasted accounts of his alleged jailhouse confession as "absurd." Nancy Sonnenfeld's family, meanwhile, is firmly convinced of his guilt.

A new life

Sonnenfeld now lives in Buenos Aires with his wife, Paula, and twin 18-month-old daughters. He continues to work as a videographer for Argentine media.

He said he and his family were followed, threatened and photographed before and after his arrest in Argentina in 2004 on the new Denver charges.

"This led us to conclude I was being extradited under false pretexts," he wrote.

Although he wouldn't discuss specifics with the Rocky, Sonnenfeld is quoted by the Argentine newspaper el Pais as saying, "I realized that they were after something else: the tapes of Ground Zero in my possession."

Sonnenfeld said he was arrested by Interpol agents on the new Denver charges a week after delivering a demo video of 9/11 footage to a TV producer in Argentina.

"I find that extremely coincidental," he said.

After his arrest, Sonnenfeld spent seven months in Buenos Aires' Devoto prison, which Time magazine once described as the "darkest penal hellhole in all Argentina."

While imprisoned, Sonnenfeld said an unidentified man phoned his wife and said "leave things the way they are and you can still have a life."

Sonnenfeld said he hid copies of his 9/11 videotapes in boxes and furniture he shipped to Argentina when he moved there. But he said the footage he offered to the media was in the public domain.

'Terrible conclusion'

In other interviews with Argentine media, Sonnenfeld is quoted as saying, "What I saw (at 9/11) leads me to the terrible conclusion that there was foreknowledge of what was going to happen — the precautions that were taken to save certain things that the authorities there considered irreplaceable or invaluable.

"For example, certain things were missing that could only have been removed with a truck. Yet after the first plane hit one of the towers, everything in Manhattan collapsed and no one could have gotten near the towers to do that."

Sonnenfeld is quoted as saying documentation was removed from U.S. intelligence agencies in the World Trade Center, including the CIA, prior to the attacks. He did not specify how he could have known that.

Sonnenfeld's allegations have made him a poster child for conspiracy theorists on the Internet, and a number of Web sites use him to bolster their contentions of government involvement in or knowledge about the attacks.

But Jim Chesnutt, fellow -FEMA videographer and a former FEMA spokesman, said he saw no such conspiracy evidence.

"I did not see any damning evidence that would support what he says he saw," said Chesnutt, who was at the World Trade Center with Sonnenfeld after 9/11.

"At the same time, I do respect Kurt's position on that," Chesnutt said. "I didn't see anything that led me to those conclusions, but I don't know what he saw.

"We each had free rein to travel throughout the site with the rescuers. We each had different experiences because of the massiveness of the site. We worked independently, and we rarely traveled together."

'I am innocent'

In the e-mail interview, Sonnenfeld denied that he is seeking political asylum to avoid being brought back for trial.

"I waited for a trial in 2002," he said. "I had the truth on my side, and I knew it would finally come out in the courtroom when the people fabricating the case against me were forced to tell the truth under threat of perjury."

Responded Amico: "I would be more than happy to give him the opportunity to make his case in a district court here in Denver."

"I am innocent," Sonnenfeld wrote to the Rocky. "The police know it; the prosecution knows it. This intense campaign to return me to American soil is a false pretext for other darker motives."

His appeals to Argentine authorities have drawn the interest of human rights groups, including Amnesty International Argentina and the country's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.

Chesnutt, Sonnenfeld's former FEMA colleague, said he doesn't know what to make of the last few years of Sonnenfeld's life.

"He was a friend of mine. I had great respect for him as a colleague," Chesnutt said. "What happened in the last few years with him, the year leading up to Nancy's death, is a huge question mark in my mind.

"I don't know what happened. And I made no decision about it. I guess now it's largely between Kurt and God about what has gone on."

What conspiracy blogs are saying about Sonnenfeld

conspiracyplanet.com

The saga of Kurt Sonnenfeld appears to be but one more detail in the sordid tale that has been the US government's continuing attempts to distort and cover up the massive and growing evidence that the 9/11 attacks were undeniably the work of elements of the US government itself.

signs-of-the-times.org

It is also reasonable to suggest that he is (or was on 9/11) an employee of one of the intelligence agencies involved in the perpetration of the attacks.

portlandindymedia.org

Some very strange activity, I think. It's like they're chasing him around the globe, using his wife's suicide (?) as their excuse. What do you suppose they're after?

Kurt and his partner Jim had a very strange 'MO,' which involved surveilance [sic] ... I am fully convinced that Kurt Sonnenfeld was/is an FBI agent! Mary's [sic] murder is definately [sic] connected to 9/11. I will continue to research this.

They had NO PROOF because they know he didn't do it, but they were just trying to use what they could to lock him up and keep him quiet.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: KURT SONNENFELD

As soon as I returned home (to Denver) after the charge was dismissed and I was released from jail, I began to be harassed constantly. Cars often followed me wherever I drove. Men parked in front of my house for hours. I discovered doors to my house unlocked. Even my outdoor security lights were unscrewed.

(After he married his second wife, Paula) we intended to return to the U.S. But after months of bureaucratic pitfalls foiling our attempts at obtaining a permanent visa for Paula, we decided to stay awhile. Paula did not particularly want to go to the U.S., and I had lost everything there anyway.

In late July of 2004, Paula and I delivered a short sample video (from ground zero) to the producers of a very popular television show.

Within days, an "unrestricted" arrest order, accompanied by the extradition request, was delivered to Argentine authorities by the United States embassy.

I had no idea that the dismissed case against me had been refiled and the nightmare had been inexplicably revived.

In March of 2005, after spending seven more months in prison in Argentina, the extradition request was refused and I was again released from prison.

The campaign to intimidate and harass me and my family has increased significantly since then. I have been tortured, falsely accused and imprisoned, not once but two times, bankrupted, my reputation destroyed by their lies.

My wife, my precious babies and I live as virtual prisoners inside our house because we are afraid for our lives.

And it continues even now.

or 303-954-5181

Copyright 2007, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.





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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Roving E-mails

I just felt the wind of the missing e-mails from Karl Rove to the Department of Justice, as Greg Palast describes this situation as 'The Big One' our House Judiciary Committee missed big time.
Truthout has the introduction . . .
Greg Palast | The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom Greg Palast writes: "In her opening testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One.... And the committee members didn't even know it."
Palast Exclusive: The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom
. . . .

There's no pride in this. Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet --- except the USA --- only because America's news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d'etat that chose our President in 2004.

And now, not bothering to understand the astonishing revelation in Goodling's confessional, they are missing the real story behind the firing of the US attorneys. It's not about removing prosecutors disloyal to Bush, it's about replacing those who refused to aid the theft of the vote in 2004 with those prepared to burgle it again in 2008.

Now that they have the keys, let's see if they can put them in the right door. The clock is ticking ladies and gents...

(Ed Note: You can easily contact your Congress Members to call and/or email them this information by clicking here. Let them know they need to take action. Now. And feel free to point them towards this article, URL: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4594)

. . . .



more at The BRAD BLOG

Free the Press!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Assault on Reason > Celsias Blog

Strange public discourse, to me it has been an Alice in Wonderland existence to be wrapped in entertainment of unreality of what is considered 'news', strangeness indeed.


It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.

At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess—an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time: the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy, Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole.

While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness….


Read more at Celsias Blog



Free the press

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Dealing With American Lives Anymore

Kucinich: Blood Money



WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 22) - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gave the following speech on the floor of the House of Representatives today:

"The Associated Press reports that the latest Iraq Supplemental funding plan, incredibly, will tie an increase in the minimum wage to funding the war through October.

"If this is true, and I hope it is not, it tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters.

"First blood for oil. Now a minimum wage for maximum blood. Aren't the American people giving enough blood for this war without having to give more to have a wage increase?

"What's happened to our country? We are losing our moral compass. We're losing our sense of justice. We're losing touch with the difference between right and wrong.

"We do not have to fund this war. We must leave Iraq now. Support our troops and bring them home. HR 1234 is a plan to end the war and stabilize Iraq and give Iraqis control of their oil.

"We must take a new path. We must take a path of truth and justice."

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Natalie Laber (202) 225-5871 (o); (202) 365-1040 (c)

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Service to the Pleasure of the Kings - Self Censorship

Smithsonian Forces of Change Arctic Exhibit: http://forces.si.edu

On Truthout

Smithsonian Toned Down Exhibit on Arctic
By Brett Zongker
The Associated Press

Monday 21 May 2007

The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.

Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year's exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Also, officials omitted scientists' interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered "to show that global warming could go either way," Sullivan said.

"It just became tooth-pulling to get solid science out without toning it down," said Sullivan, who resigned last fall after 16 years at the museum. He said he left after higher-ups tried to reassign him.

Smithsonian officials denied that political concerns influenced the exhibit, saying the changes were made for reasons of objectivity. And some scientists who consulted on the project said nothing major was omitted.

Sullivan said that to his knowledge, no one in the Bush administration pressured the Smithsonian, whose $1.1 billion budget is mostly taxpayer-funded.

Rather, he said, Smithsonian leaders acted on their own. "The obsession with getting the next allocation and appropriation was so intense that anything that might upset the Congress or the White House was being looked at very carefully," he said.

White House spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer said Monday: "The White House had no role in this exhibit."

In recent months, the White House has been accused of trying to muzzle scientists researching global warming at NASA and other agencies.

The exhibit, "Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely," based partly on a report by federal scientists, opened in April 2006 - six months late, because of the Smithsonian's review - and closed in November, but its content remains available online. Among other things, it highlighted the Arctic's shrinking ice and snow and concerns about the effect on people and wildlife.

This is not the first time the Smithsonian has been accused of taking politics into consideration.

The congressionally chartered institution scaled down a 1995 exhibit of the restored Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, after veterans complained it focused too much on the damage and deaths. Amid the oil-drilling debate in 2003, a photo exhibit of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was moved to a less prominent space.

Sullivan said the changes in the climate-change exhibit were requested by executives who included then-museum Director Cristian Samper and his boss, former Undersecretary for Science David Evans. He said several scientists whose work was used in the exhibit objected to the changes.

Samper, now acting Smithsonian secretary, said he was not aware of scientists' objections, and he emphasized there was no political pressure to change the script. "Our role as a museum is to present the facts but not advocate a particular point of view," Samper said in an e-mail.

Evans refused to comment.

Randall Kremer, a spokesman for the natural history museum, said atmospheric science was outside the Smithsonian's expertise, so the museum avoided the issue of what is causing the Arctic changes.

Many leading scientists have come to believe that human activity is contributing to warming of the planet.

"I see it in some ways as similar to the sort-of debate that has taken place with regard to the science of evolution," said Professor Michael Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. "Just as I would hope that the Smithsonian would stand firmly behind the science of evolution, it would also be my hope that they would stand firmly behind the science that supports influence on climate. Politically, they may be controversial, but scientifically they are not."

Some curators and scientists involved in the project said they believed nothing important was omitted. But they also said it was apparent that science was not the only concern.

"I remember them telling me there was an attempt to make sure there was nothing in there that would be upsetting to any politicians," said John Calder, a lead climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who consulted on the project. "They're not stupid. They don't want to upset the people who pay them."

One consultant, University of Maryland scientist Louis Codispoti, said he would have been less cautious. "I've been going to the Arctic since 1963, and I find some of the changes alarming," he said.


Solution:

Maine Campaign to Impeach Bush Presses Case
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/21/1350/


Another reason Why to Impeach Bush:


Bush Anoints Himself as Ensurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency

With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack. Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the executive branch.



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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Project Censored Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007

#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran

Source:

Global Research.ca, August 5, 2005
Title: “Halliburton Secretly Doing Business With Key Member of Iran’s Nuclear Team”
Author: Jason Leopold

Faculty Evaluator: Catherine Nelson
Student Researchers: Kristine Medeiros and Pla Herr

According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies.

Additionally, throughout 2004 and 2005, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team. Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.

Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton first became public knowledge in January 2005 when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars gas-drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered to the Cayman Islands. Following the announcement, Halliburton claimed that the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. According to a BBC report, Halliburton, which took thirty to forty million dollars from its Iranian operations in 2003, “was winding down its work due to a poor business environment.”

However, Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company. Leopold quotes a February 2001 report published in the Wall Street Journal, “Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is “non-American.” But like the sign over the receptionist’s head, the brochure bears the company’s name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.” Moreover mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded directly to its Dallas headquarters.

In an attempt to curtail Halliburton and other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations such as Libya, Iran, and Syria, an amendment was approved in the Senate on July 26, 2005. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Susan Collins R-Maine, would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct and avoid U.S. sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

A letter, drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives, vehemently objected to the amendment, saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the U.S. and “greatly strain relations with the United States primary trading partners.” The letter warned that, “Foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S. goals.”

Collins supports the legislation, stating, “It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran. The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism—most often aimed against America.

UPDATE BY JASON LEOPOLD
During a trip to the Middle East in March 1996, Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of mostly U.S. businessmen that Congress should ease sanctions in Iran and Libya to foster better relationships, a statement that, in hindsight, is completely hypocritical considering the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

“Let me make a generalized statement about a trend I see in the U.S. Congress that I find disturbing, that applies not only with respect to the Iranian situation but a number of others as well,” Cheney said. “I think we Americans sometimes make mistakes . . . There seems to be an assumption that somehow we know what’s best for everybody else and that we are going to use our economic clout to get everybody else to live the way we would like.”

Cheney was the chief executive of Halliburton Corporation at the time he uttered those words. It was Cheney who directed Halliburton toward aggressive business dealings with Iran—in violation of U.S. law—in the mid-1990s, which continued through 2005 and is the reason Iran has the capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium.
It was Halliburton’s secret sale of centrifuges to Iran that helped get the uranium enrichment program off the ground, according to a three-year investigation that includes interviews conducted with more than a dozen current and former Halliburton employees.

If the U.S. ends up engaged in a war with Iran in the future, Cheney and Halliburton will bear the brunt of the blame.
But this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been following Halliburton’s business activities over the past decade. The company has a long, documented history of violating U.S. sanctions and conducting business with so-called rogue nations.

No, what’s disturbing about these facts is how little attention it has received from the mainstream media. But the public record speaks for itself, as do the thousands of pages of documents obtained by various federal agencies that show how Halliburton’s business dealings in Iran helped fund terrorist activities there—including the country’s nuclear enrichment program.

When I asked Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, a couple of years ago if Halliburton would stop doing business with Iran because of concerns that the company helped fund terrorism she said, “No.” “We believe that decisions as to the nature of such governments and their actions are better made by governmental authorities and international entities such as the United Nations as opposed to individual persons or companies,” Hall said. “Putting politics aside, we and our affiliates operate in countries to the extent it is legally permissible, where our customers are active as they expect us to provide oilfield services support to their international operations. “We do not always agree with policies or actions of governments in every place that we do business and make no excuses for their behaviors. Due to the long-term nature of our business and the inevitability of political and social change, it is neither prudent nor appropriate for our company to establish our own country-by-country foreign policy.”

Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions.

An executive order signed by former President Bill Clinton in March 1995 prohibits “new investments (in Iran) by U.S. persons, including commitment of funds or other assets.” It also bars U.S. companies from performing services “that would benefit the Iranian oil industry” and provide Iran with the financial means to engage in terrorist activity.
When Bush and Cheney came into office in 2001, their administration decided it would not punish foreign oil and gas companies that invest in those countries. The sanctions imposed on countries like Iran and Libya before Bush became president were blasted by Cheney, who gave frequent speeches on the need for U.S. companies to compete with their foreign competitors, despite claims that those countries may have ties to terrorism.

“I think we’d be better off if we, in fact, backed off those sanctions (on Iran), didn’t try to impose secondary boycotts on companies . . . trying to do business over there . . . and instead started to rebuild those relationships,” Cheney said during a 1998 business trip to Sydney, Australia, according to Australia’s Illawarra Mercury newspaper.

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YOU

Should watch this: via Brasschecktv.com
Brasscheck TV viewers know the dangers of
depleted uranium.

...And the fact that millions of
pounds of these "dirty bomb" weapons
have been used in Yugoslavia, Iraq and
Afghanistan.

Less well known, but not unexpected
in a country gone mad, is the fact
that the US uses these dangerous rounds
within its own borders for target
practice.

At least that's what all the evidence
points to. The military is characteristically
mute on the subject.

Detais:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/102.html

- Brasscheck

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Conservatism is perfectly clear

Via Pharyngula

South Dakota: very conservative, very Republican, very concerned with women's reproduction, and none of it in a good way. This story just personifies the worst of South Dakota's repressive residents perfectly.
There is more to the morals of the story, seems wide spread in what Melissa McEwen coined as "(R-Middle Ages)"

"Rape is Not Only Hilarious; It’s No Big Deal".

And
The Christian Right's Fear of Pleasure is Our Greatest Threat to Choice
The war against abortion has nothing to do with the protection of life. It is a war against an open society -- a cover for assaults against sexual pleasure and personal choice.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Mocking 'American' Democracy

If there were not a difference in other nations so called Democracy, would we ever know the differences? A very informative, enlightening interview Bill Moyer's gave tonight with Bruce Bawer.

Fundamentalist mock our democracy, to isolate themselves into those of like minds. Like the scourge of trash and pollution on our oceans, scientist have noticed a similar physical behavior of that with similar properties, they seem to gather together. Like wolf packs, like flocks of birds, like sheep there is a alpha that survived long enough by wit or by force he leads, patriarch society. When different cultures, with different religions or race collide in a democracy we call it cultural clash, the culture wars and goes unnoticed unless by force it is noticed. Fundamental social studies, when rats are studied and allowed to breed to a maximum healthy population in their behavior the scientist notice a similar trait. When left to breed past the healthy population the controlling alpha's usually dictate the sickly be killed at all cost, I am speaking of animals. But as the pope pointed out not long ago, man will soon resemble or become more animal like in nature. I contend, man has always, forever even before our current state of evolving has been just as much a mammal and just as animal as all the animal species. I get kicked real hard for that one, by all fun-dees. Christians have taken on the Muslim in a race it seems to see whom can be the most fundamental. If your not steaming out your ears by now and would like to read someone who articulates much better than I, read the transcript or better yet watch Bill Moyer's interview with Bruce Bawer it aired tonight on pbs and as always it is a must see or read. Just before that he interviewed Melisa Harris-Lacewell on her SOS essay digs into the racial aspects of culture clashes, and it don't leave Obama out.

Why do I say that fundamentalist mock our democracy? The advocate has a reflection on this very natural aspect of being the animal human in the culture I call 'The Great White Way'.

The Reverend Mel White remembers the late Jerry Falwell
Soulforce co-founder Mel White knew two Jerry Falwells: the evangelical preacher who spewed hate from the pulpit and the family man who wasn't so bad once you got to know him.

As Told to Michelle Garcia

An Advocate.com exclusive posted May 16, 2007

During his years of concealing his own same-sex urges, the Reverend Mel White was a ghostwriter for iconic antigay evangelical figures such as Pat Robertson and Billy Graham. When the Reverend Jerry Falwell got wind of White’s prowess, White was recruited to pen Falwell: An Autobiography, published in 1987. Eventually White came out and became a voice, as the cofounder of Soulforce, for open and closeted LGBT people against the religious right’s condemnation. Here, White remembers his relationship with Falwell, who died May 15, and looks to the future of the antigay movement.


read more @ the Advocate

Wondering the cultural battle lines burning sage to clear the stench of hate, when it clears we can burn the frankincents, myrrh and nutmeg.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A wonder of, begins a quest EVEn if answers to be found with no ends

Our way of life, where in we live and breast cancer
and
Newsweek takes on gender issues for those with issues of those of differences and diversity, thanks for sharing this news, Curtis Via intersexulite.org.
May 21, 2007 NEWSWEEK
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18618970/site/newsweek/

ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE:
The Mystery of Gender

Rethinking Gender: What Makes Us Male or Female?
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18618970/site/newsweek/
My Life as a Transgender Politician
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18660657/site/newsweek/
A NASCAR Racer On Her Sex Change
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18619862/site/newsweek/
Alexis Arquette on the Politics of Gender Change
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18615747/site/newsweek/
Journalist Christine Daniels On Her New Life
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18615905/site/newsweek/
Q&A: A Prudential VP on Her Transition
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18617786/site/newsweek/
Live Talk: Rethinking Gender
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18630323/site/newsweek/
Resources for Gender and Transgender Issues
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18629920/site/newsweek/

Culture issues in the news read the Headlines At MoJo Blog

UAE: No Melamine In Food, Please, And No Food On Melamine, Either.

via CLG News of natural wonders

Hundreds of Birds Falling from the Skies Above Florida --Smoke From Wildfires Leave Birds Dazed and Confused 13 May 2007 The clouds of smoke produced by the fire are causing hundreds of birds in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to drop out of the sky or crash into the windows of buildings. Wildlife officials say hundreds of yellow warblers have died.

Tell the Bush Administration to protect polar bears and their critical habitat (Polar Bear SOS) Polar bears are completely dependent on Arctic sea ice to survive, but 80 percent of that ice could be gone in 20 years and all of it by 2040... The Bush Administration's proposal to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act is a crucial first step toward ensuring a future for these magnificent Arctic creatures. Yet the administration's proposal does not designate "critical habitat" for protection, even though melting habitat from global warming is the main threat to the polar bear's survival. Send a message urging the Bush Administration to finalize the listing of the polar bear and designate its critical habitat.

Climate change to force mass migration --1bn likely to be displaced by 2050, says report --Environmental factors will exacerbate existing crisis 14 May 2007 A billion people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new report from Christian Aid predicts.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Scott Ritter - The Good American

"Every mother and father of every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine deployed in Iraq should reflect on this as well."

Sure to piss-off a whole hell of a lot of 'good Americans', but in that way, it should. You can hate me instead, I put it back in your face. Resolves with time that hate stuff and in the end of your game that is really where the score counts, in the end we are indeed in all this together, with every Iraqi, every wounded or dead, with every grief loss in the end the hate is gone. Hate turns to sorrow, grief, loss it never turns back to face the love traded in those 'moments', never looks back without seeing sorrow or grief.

Read The Good American by Scott Ritter
The Good American
Posted on May 10, 2007

By Scott Ritter

Editor’s Note: Scott Ritter was a Marine Corps intelligence officer from 1984 to 1991 and a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He is the author of numerous books, and his latest is “Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement” (Nation Books, April 2007).

I joined the American Legion a few years back. As a veteran of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, I was eligible to do so for some time but always hesitated, perhaps out of a sense of trying to deny that my days as an active-duty combatant were long past. Every year, on Memorial Day, my fellow firefighters and I would gather in the basement of the local American Legion hall before we paraded before the town we protect. I would look around at the uniforms and faded patches and ribbons worn by the veterans who joined us in the hall and realize that they, too, were deserving of a great deal more support than simply being wheeled out once a year to participate in a parade. So I sent in my application and was accepted.

One of the fringe benefits of membership in the American Legion is a subscription to its monthly journal, The American Legion, billed as “the magazine for a strong America.” It quickly became apparent that The American Legion magazine was a sounding board for many holding quite militaristic and jingoistic opinions based on their rather limited personal experiences, many dating back to World War II. The war in Iraq, together with the overarching “global war on terror,” seems to be viewed by many in the American Legion as an extension of their own past service, and much effort is made to connect World War II and the Iraq conflict as part and parcel of the same ongoing American “liberation” of the world’s oppressed.

It’s a shame for these Legionnaires that the Iraqis couldn’t have turned out to be blond, blue-eyed Germans who looked like us, and whose women could be wooed with chocolate and nylon stockings by the noble American liberator and occupier. Or, short of that, passive Japanese, who freely submitted their women to the massage parlors and barracks of their American conquering heroes while their men rebuilt a shattered society. The simplistic approach of many of the American Legion’s most hawkish advocates for the ongoing disaster in Iraq seems to be drawn from a selective memory which seeks to impose a carefully crafted past experience dating back to the last “good war” (i.e., World War II), expunged of all warts and blemishes, onto the current situation in Iraq in a manner which strips away all reality.

It turns out that the Iraqis aren’t like German or Japanese people at all, but rather a fiercely independent (if overly complex) nation deeply resentful of a so-called liberation which has brought them nothing but pain and agony, primarily at the hands of those who have, unbidden, “freed” them from their past. The fact that the Iraqis resent the ongoing American occupation, and choose to express this resentment through violent resistance instead of submissive passivity, is in turn resented by many of the Legion’s membership. “War has been declared on the United States by those who are envious of our freedom, and they won’t stop until we are under their heel,” writes one Legionnaire in a letter published in the May 2007 issue of “the magazine for a strong America.” The juxtaposition of Iraq with those who perpetrated the events of Sept. 11, 2001, implied in this statement is reflective of a level of ignorance that boggles the mind. Iraq never declared war on the United States, the salesmanship exhibited in our promotion of “freedom” in Iraq leaves nothing to envy, and the Iraqis will stop resisting when we leave their country. Don’t try telling that to the blustery former Marine who authored the letter in question, however. He, like the majority of the Legion, is tired of hearing about “Bush’s war.”

“Death, Not in Vain” is the title of the feature article of the May 2007 issue. The story revolves around how the parents of one Marine who died in Iraq seek to define their son’s sacrifice. “People may not agree with the reason we went to war,” the mother of the fallen Marine is quoted as saying, “but while our troops are over there, we can’t be telling the world what they are doing is wrong. If we say we support them, we have to support what they are doing.” Of course, the nature of the “disagreement” surrounding the Iraq war is never fully articulated in the article. There is no mention made of the discredited claims by President Bush and other war advocates about weapons of mass destruction or connections between Saddam Hussein’s government and al-Qaida. Instead, the reader is told repeatedly about how fallen American service members gave their lives for America and a “free Iraq.” Quoting their fallen sons, the families of Marines killed in Iraq speak proudly of bold statements such as “We need to be there, but it’s going to be hard, and it is going to be a long time.” Yet they never explore the actual “need” cited.

“We’ve got to support the troops and the mission,” the article quotes one family member as saying. “The two are dependent on each other.” I’m all for supporting the troops. But blind support for a mission of such nebulous origin? This is a much different matter, one requiring more introspective investigation. I don’t think it was the magazine’s intent, but a foundation of such an investigation was laid in the very same issue. In his article “Minimizing the Holocaust,” Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz slams those who seek to dismiss Nazi Germany’s effort to commit genocide against Europe’s Jews. It is a very difficult article to digest, not because of the legitimate premise that those who seek to deny or minimize the Holocaust are deserving of condemnation, but rather for the ease with which the moralistic Dershowitz explains the bombing of Dresden in 1945 as a “legitimate act of belligerent reprisal for the relentless bombings of civilians in London and elsewhere,” or the dismissive waving-off of the systematic starvation of 1 million German prisoners of war by the United States after the surrender of Germany as an inconvenient result of a “food crisis across Europe, a result of the continent’s decimation,” and being a “far cry from the 6 million innocents who perished at the hands of the Nazis with absolutely no military justification.”

I would be curious to know how Dershowitz would judge how the families of German soldiers deployed in combat operations should have viewed the Second World War. What if a mother of a young panzer grenadier fighting on the Russian front was to say, “The troops are the mission, and we cannot separate our support for either”? Should blind support for the fighting men likewise have blinded the families of German soldiers to the illegitimacy of their cause? Certainly Dershowitz would favor the “good German,” one who would have sought to deny facilitation of the Holocaust by refusing to support the war which empowered it. Would he so favor the “good American,” one driven by a sense of moral responsibility to speak out against acts perpetrated in Iraq and elsewhere by American fighting forces ostensibly in support of freedom, but in reality an extension of illegitimate policies reeking of global hegemony and American empire? Or would he choose to explain away Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the CIA’s secret gulag of torture as “legitimate acts of bellicose reprisals” for the events of Sept. 11, 2001? In Dershowitz’s tortured legal brain the events at Haditha and elsewhere, including the Marine massacre of civilians in Afghanistan, likewise assume legitimacy in this newfound legal defense of “legitimate bellicose reprisal.”

In the end, Dershowitz’s opinions are irrelevant. The disturbing reality, however, is that his mind-set is not limited to the soap box he enjoys as a teacher of jurisprudence at one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning but rather is increasingly embraced by American service members deployed in harm’s way. A recent U.S. Army survey shows that some 40 percent of American soldiers and Marines support the use of torture as a means of gathering intelligence. Some 66 percent would refuse to turn in a fellow soldier or Marine for abusive actions against civilians, and less than 50 percent believe that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect. Ten percent of those surveyed actually admitted to abusing civilians and their property for no reason whatsoever. While acknowledging that this mind-set is at complete odds with official policy concerning the conduct of military personnel in a combat zone, the Pentagon did its best to portray the survey results as clear evidence that there was, in fact, “good leadership” in place, since the desires of the troops had not manifested themselves in large-scale acts of abuse or torture. True, but the survey is also clear evidence that when such abuse or torture does occur, it is not the result of a few “bad apples,” so to speak, but instead indicative of a trend that could easily spiral out of control on any given day.

The survey results should not come as a surprise to anyone. The innumerable home movies shot in Iraq and Afghanistan, some immortalized on YouTube, some in documentary film, some simply shared with friends and family, all show the same disturbing trend. Whether it is a Marine singing the lyrics to the self-written “Hadji Girl,” or soldiers speaking disparagingly about “ragheads” or “sand niggers,” or any other dehumanizing remark imaginable, the reality is our troops aren’t in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people. We’re there to kill them and we do an extraordinarily good job. The British government recently certified as “sound” the methodologies used by the study published in the medical journal The Lancet which estimates the number of deaths (as of 2006) that can be directly attributed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath at 655,000. If anything, this number has grown by leaps and bounds since the study was conducted.

One can point to sectarian violence as a major contributor to this total, but as an American I tend to reflect on the American-on-Iraqi violence, such as the barely mentioned deaths of Iraqi children in a recent air-delivered bomb attack against suspected Iraqi insurgents. I’m sure Dershowitz and those American service members desensitized to their own acts of depravity can explain the deaths of these innocents as “legitimate acts of bellicose reprisal.” I call it murder, even if these deaths occurred in time of war.

Every mother and father of every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine deployed in Iraq should reflect on this as well. “Little Johnny” may write home about what he says is a “just war” that “needs to be fought,” but before one embraces the words of someone in harm’s way in desperate need of self-justification for the things he has seen and done, re-examine the area of operations your loved one is serving in or, worse, has perished in. Are they “living among the Iraqi people,” as some would have you believe? Or are they sequestered away in base camps or fire bases, forced to conduct patrols out among a population that for the most part hates them and wants them gone from Iraq? Does “Johnny” himself call the Iraqis ragheads? Does he give a frustrated kick at the Iraqi male he just apprehended, not because of any crime or offense committed, but simply because he was there? Does he point his rifle and scream expletives at the mother or wife or daughter who cries out for a loved one? Does he break a lamp or table to emphasize his point? Or does he do worse, allowing his emotions and frustration to break free as he beats, shoots or rapes those he now hates more than anything else in the world? Freedom? Get real. The mission of our military in Iraq is survival, and that is no military mission at all.

The war in Iraq is as immoral a conflict as the United States has ever been involved in. Past wars were fought in a day and age where information was not readily available on the totality of issues surrounding a given conflict. One could excuse citizens if they were not equipped with the knowledge and information necessary to empower them to speak out against bad policy. Not so today. For someone today to proclaim ignorance as an excuse for inactivity is as morally and intellectually weak an argument as can be imagined. The truth about those who claim they simply “didn’t know” lies in their own lack of commitment to a strong America, one founded on principles and values worth fighting for, and one where every American is committed to the defense of the same. Ignorance is bad citizenship. In this day and age, bad citizenship carries ramifications beyond the environs of our local communities. Given America’s dominant role in the world, bad American citizenship has a way of manifesting itself globally.

I’m not calling the parents of those who have fallen in Iraq and who continue to voice their blind adherence to the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq bad citizens. I understand their need to come to grips with their loss the best way possible, which is to try and extract some meaning from the sacrifice their family has had to make. But I draw the line when these families allow their suffering to translate into blanket suffering for others. As The American Legion magazine quoted one such individual who advocated in favor of the Bush administration: “Are more servicemen and women returning the way my son did, in a casket, as a result of our words and actions? I believe the answer is yes. The perception of a weak American military, should we lose, will make our enemy stronger than we ever imagined. Because we don’t want to be at war any more doesn’t mean the war is over.”

Thus, in a blind effort to find meaning in her son’s death, this mother is willing to inflict suffering on other American families. This may sound like a harsh indictment, but she indicts herself. The same mother concludes the article with the following quote: “I told President Bush last summer that the biggest insult anyone could hand me would be to pull the troops out before the job is complete. If we’re going to quit, at that point I’ll have to ask, ‘Why did my son die?’ ” The question she should have been asking long before his death was, of course, “Why might my son die?” That she failed to do so, and now seeks to send others off to their death in a cause not worthy of a single American life, is where she and those of her ilk stop receiving my sympathy and understanding.

The American Legion magazine, in its May 2007 issue, belittles those who speak out against the war. “While our forefathers gave us the right and privilege to challenge our leaders,” one father of a fallen Marine writes, “the manner and method that some people have chosen to use at this time only emboldens the enemy.” Reading between the lines, freedom of speech is treasonous if you question the motives and actions of those who got us involved in the Iraq war. Alan Dershowitz can only wish that there had been more “good Germans” speaking out about the policies of Adolf Hitler before the Holocaust became reality.

I yearn for a time when “good Americans” will be able to stop and reverse equally evil policies of global hegemony achieved through pre-emptive war of aggression. I know all too well that in this case the “enemy” will only be emboldened by our silence, since at the end of the day the “enemy” is ourselves. I can see the Harvard professor shaking an accusatory finger at me for the above statement, chiding me for creating any moral equivalency between the war in Iraq and the Holocaust. You’re right, Mr. Dershowitz. There is no moral equivalency. In America today, we should have known better, since we ostensibly stand for so much more. That we have collectively failed to halt and repudiate the war in Iraq makes us even worse than the Germans.






Happy Mothers Day

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Va Tech Class of 2007

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Pat Robertson's University" Bill Moyers Journal

Airdate: Friday, May 11, 2007 at 9:00 p.m. EDT on PBS.
(Check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/moyers.)
Bill Moyers Journal takes a look at Regent University, Pat Robertson's Christian leadership institution, which is working to ensure that Biblical principles are reflected in the law of the land.


The recent controversy over the firing of federal prosecutors found Regent University graduate Monica Goodling - special counsel to Alberto Gonzalez and one of some 150 Regent students who have worked in the Bush administration since 2001 - at the center of a political firestorm. Bill Moyers Journal takes viewers to commencement at Robertson's university for a closer look at its mission to ensure Biblical principles are reflected in the law of the land.

Also on the program: Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of the libertarian monthly Reason magazine, discusses the war, the media and the impact of the religious right in Washington today; and historian Marilyn B. Young, co-editor of Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn from the Past, talks about history's lessons for the war in Iraq.

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Windows into their own frustrations

Tennessee passed a bullying law, that is progress, but hidden away into the halls and corridors of school class structure born to the self righteous and continued in false family structures . . . . the hum of hate.

Read and learn, The Queer Thing About School Shootings and just maybe parents, teachers, students, people of all races, all religions, all people will see how harmful words can really be, deadly.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

The Greenbelt has Huxley Today

Borrowed text:

He also coined the word "agnostic," to describe his own religious idea that the only things worth believing in were things that could be directly observed in the world. His definition:
Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of your intellect, follow you reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.


Wonder FCD; FTH

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Bill Moyers Journal: A Brief History of Disblief

". . . Bill Moyers talks with Jonathan Miller about his upcoming series and his views on religion in the modern world. Jonathan Miller's series "A Brief History of Disbelief" will air on many PBS stations across the country starting May 4."


A little understanding goes a long way to recourse the discourse. This will help those with little understanding of what it means to be an Atheist.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Question of the Century?

Who will inherit the earth?
must reads
And at Mother Jones in the Headlines

Gone
By Julia Whitty
By the end of the century half of all species will be gone. Who will survive?
Mankind in America apparently sense 1991 has been digesting Melamine in their grain foods, enrichment with a 'slightly toxic' protein mimic. Check it out over at Shakesville:

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