30 November, 2006

Forced to turn off our brains.

The Clownification of America

By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real. Posted May 31, 2006.

"We've turned into this nation of overfed clowns, riding around in clown
cars, eating clown food, watching clown shows. We've become a nation of
cringing, craven fuckups." --James Howard Kunstler, author of "The Long

When I saw this Kunstler quote a couple of weeks ago, I thought it a bit
harsh. Then I picked up my morning paper -- and, all at once, I got it.
There, in 120-point bold headline type, above the fold, the lead story of
the day, was the "news" that:

In less than 24 hours, singer Taylor Hicks would battle singer Katharine
McPhee for the title of American Idol!

Clowns. We have indeed become a nation of frivolous, self-indulgent,
overweight, undereducated, unserious, clowns. When an event of such
monumental unimportance wins precious front-page status, what other
conclusion can be reached? Art has stopped imitating life and simply
become a substitute for it. I flashed back to the 1967 cult TV series "The
Prisoner," starring Patrick McGoohan -- a British spy kidnapped and
imprisoned on an island with an Orwellian-like society. Each morning
radios, newspapers and speakers announced it was "another wonderful day on
the island." Every day was another wonderful day. There never was a bad
day -- never mind that everyone on the island was a prisoner.And so it has
come to pass on our island, where the papers, radios and televisions no
longer differentiate between news and entertainment. Where "American Idol"
finals get page 1 treatment and genocide in Darfur is pushed deep inside
the paper in the shadow of a 1/2-page Best Buy ad trumpeting a sale on
iPod accessories.Oh, lighten up Pizzo! People need entertainment as much
as they need to know about all the bad news out there.

Yeah, fine. But let's keep the entertainment news in the entertainment
section of the paper where it belongs. Can we do that? Oh, and keep the
sports news on the sports page as well. The only time I want to see the
name "Barry Bonds," in the news section of the paper is if major league
baseball ever kicks his cheating ass out of the game. Or if he robs a
bank. Or if George Bush appoints Barry head of the FDA. Otherwise, keep
him and all other baseball-relating "news" where it belongs … in the
sports section.And, unless the losing singer on "American Idol" pulls a
gun and opens fire after hearing the verdict, everything else about that
show belongs in the entertainment section and NOT on my front page. The
same rules apply to everyone and anyone whose only claim to fame is that
they sing, dance, submerge themselves in a Plexiglas globe, eat the most
hot dogs in the shortest time or own a cute dog that fetches beer on
command.None of that is news. Not one word, factoid or photo-op of it is
news.It's not as if there was not real news the day "American Idol" found
its way onto my front page. During that same news cycle almost anything
that happened in Iraq was more important, as were the doings that day on
Capitol Hill, at the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department or in
Iran. On the day my paper put "American Idol" above the fold on the front
page, the editors could have thrown a dart at that list of the above
newsmakers and found a story more worthy of the front page.Who wins or
loses on "American Idol" may send a few thousand teenage girls squealing
off in tears, but that's about the extent of the damage. On the other
hand, we live in extraordinarily dangerous times. A convergence of
economic, geopolitical and environmental challenges confront the human
race … any one of which could tomorrow trigger a series of events that
would turn all our lives inside out.So, news editors everywhere, let's get
back to treating the front page as the sacred trust it is -- the place
reserved for the most important news we need to know that day in order to
exercise our responsibilities as citizens and members of the human
race.The mainstream media has become complicit in the "clownification" of
the American public. As more and more newspapers and broadcast entities
are gobbled up by a handful of giant media conglomerates, the news
business has become a circulation/ratings game. News people now cover
entertainers as though they are newsmakers. And, as if that's not bad
enough, news people themselves now become entertainers -- appearing on
Larry King Live and then interviewing one another. Newsmen become showmen
-- the news biz, show biz.Media companies feel they have to lure us in by
blending news and entertainment into a single tasty, calorie-filled but
nutrition-free product. Once hell-raisers, they are becomng
clownmakers.Aren't you embarrassed? Well damn it, you oughta be. Stephen
Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including "Inside Job: The Looting
of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a Pulitzer.



American Idolized

Monday, 27 November 2006

by Frank Pitz

So, the Democrats won, Rummy quit, why am I not jumping for joy and
getting out here in cyberspace with more rah, rah postings?  Perhaps a
psychological impediment has grabbed hold; or could it just be plain old
skepticism?   But then again, it may just be a case of the blahs, caused
by the daily bombardment of “stuff.”

I’m generally “the glass is half full” kind of person, and meditate on a
semi-regular basis, which tends to help through most down
episodes.    But, sometimes you want to just chuck it all and scream,
“stop the world, I want to get off.”   Read a piece recently on AlterNet
titled “The Clownification of America” by Stephen Pizzo.  He wrapped an
article around that particular quote by James Howard Kunstler.  It summed
up for me-in a small way- just why I am feeling a bit of disquiet right

We’ve been American Idolized damn near to the point of no return.  It is,
after all, Orwell personified; up to and including the ubiquitous
electronic eyes and ears of Big Brother surrounding us completely.

As well, there is no identity anymore; we have lost that over these past
many years as we aimlessly search to co-opt another feel-good panacea
offered via the electronic airwaves or the “How to” genre to divorce us
from reality.

Americans want to be Native American, Buddhist, Hindi, Pagan, Celt, or
immerse themselves in the Kabbalah.  They wish to have “life coaches” to
help them make their way through it all.  What happened to common
sense?  You know, that old “All I ever needed to know I learned in
kindergarten” type thing.  Are we that disgusted with ourselves that we
have this overwhelming desire to find something (someone) else to be?  Is
there a national, collective guilt trip going on here?  Are we finally
horror-struck with ourselves for the global death and destruction always
being carried out in our name?   Do we all really need a daily dose of Dr.
Phil, Oprah, or for Christ’s sake – The View?  

We are the “bully on the playground,” and very few want to admit it – much
less talk about it.  Bush and company are committing the most horrendous
war crimes and genocide; and through it all some 50 million plus souls
call in a vote for their favorite idol.  For me, that’s depressing as
hell.  It makes one want to just reach out and smack the crap out of
someone.  Perhaps that is just what is called for; a huge collective smack
across the chops to see if possibly some sense could still be instilled in
the Amerikan psyche.  Somehow I quite doubt it, wishful thinking on my

The loss of intellect is but one small part of this Clownification of
America.   Being viewed as possessing intelligence and a streak of
individualism is to be scrutinized in this day and age of mass corporate,
political and media control.  To be an individual and think intelligently
(logically) is to bring oneself into the spotlight of the Department of
Homeland Security – the Defenders of the Fatherland, as it
were.  Individual thought runs counter to the dictates of the corporate
state and will get you thrown off a plane, or worse thrown in jail.

In no way do I consider myself to be an “intellectual” along the lines of
the great thinkers of this – or past  - ages.  I can’t be a Noam Chomsky,
or a Susan Sontag, Howard Zinn, or Cornell West much as I’d like to be at
times.  No, I’m just a logical, always searching, kind of human that likes
to believe I am a free thinker; of course Bush and Company despise all
free thinkers, regardless of their intellectual prowess.  

I read a great line attributed to Orson Scott Card: “Forced to turn off
our brains.”  For me, that says a hell of a lot, the vast majority of John
and Jane Q. (Amerikan) Public have done just that; turned off their
fucking brains.  How else to explain the fact that a nation of otherwise
(supposedly) intelligent human beings will allow themselves to submit to a
type of mass hysteria every time the fucking government, through the
corrupted media, issues a specific color code?  Isn’t that sort of, kind
of, nuts?  Crazy even?  We are creatures of our fashioned environment; an
atmosphere created whole cloth by plutocrats with the twin goals of greed
and control.  And we eat it the fuck up.  

It’s really challenging for me to try and follow that concept, I can think
of no close, familiar, or personal precedents that I can wrap my brain
around.  There are a few that come close; the military, which is
automatically set up to control and instill the model of group think and
blind allegiance to orders.  But that doesn’t really explain (for me) why
the Amerikan public is where they are at today, blind, unquestioning,
submission; despite the fact that most of what they are being asked to do,
or believe, flies in the face of reality, or logic. 

I suppose it really is easy to brainwash an entire country.  History tells
me that people have blindly followed dictators, despots and Presidents
through the ages, but history also tells me that eventually (in most
cases) the people finally woke the hell up.  Will the Amerikan public
ultimately wake up?  I’m entering my 70th year traversing this Universe, I
sure as hell would like to live long enough to see that awakening, and my
optimism is draining fast.   And no, I’m not just another “keyboard
warrior,” I’ve been knocked around plenty over the years by the enforcers
of this police state we live in, no doubt will be knocked around some more
before it’s all over.  But, that isn’t the point; the point is that many
more millions of us need to be knocked around before we can make a change
for the better.  We cannot keep on being dictated to and walking this
hateful edge that is being made up for us daily.  We’ve become a nation of
haters, brainwashed into this all-consuming hatred by those who would
control us. 

Had a phone conversation with a good friend (JP) the other day and we
talked about hate and just how much it permeates the day-to-day dialogue
in this country.  The media – parroting the Bush Administration – is
particularly fond of keeping the hate thing on the front burner, vis-à-vis
“why do they hate us?”  The media also “stir the pot” in other insidious
ways – and we are all familiar with those.  We hate the immigrants, we
hate the gays, we hate blacks, anyone who thinks or acts differently than
we do.   Most of us recognize it as a stupid, rhetorical, redundant tool,
no more than just another weapon used to keep the “fear factor” at
elevated levels and because of that we also hate ourselves; enough to turn
off our brains.  Or, as Howard Zinn states it: “Hysteria cripples

All one need do is take a look at the dialogue engendered in the various
chat rooms, blogs and comment sections on this big Internet community out
here, it may start out as civilized discourse but then, it always seems to
degenerate into vitriolic name calling.  None of us are immune from that;
we all tend to gravitate that way even in some small fashion, I know I am
guilty of it as well. 

All one needs do is look at our history.  We hated the Indian, the
Chinese, the Italians, the Irish, the Japanese, the Germans, the
Spaniards, the Phillipinos and the Vietnamese ad infinitium.  When you
think about it we pretty much have enclosed ourselves in a xenophobic
bubble here.   Just think about that very popular phrase of a few
generations back, “free, white and 21.”  That pretty much sums it up,
don’t you think?  We’ve always been a racist nation, made up of the many
individual (and corporate) racists amongst us. 

We’ve always been the bully on the playground; it’s ingrained in our
psyche.  Part of that is because we have always been able to back up our
truculent demeanor by force and that power has generally flowed
unobstructed.  I believe the Vietnam War altered that unhindered flow of
U.S. power; the bully’s Achilles’ heel was exposed and it was global
opposition that exposed it.  Of course, the right wing would have us
believe that Vietnam was lost because of a bunch of liberal, godless
appeasers parading in the streets. 

Since Vietnam we’ve had to buck up our self-esteem, pick up the guns and
run amok on the playground beating up on the smaller guys.  A sort of give
the folks something to feel good about scenario, never mind that we are
beating up on defenseless people here, using the media we’ll make it all
right.  And now we are in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing men, women and
children with impunity, no one wants to stand up to the bully of the
playground and he runs unimpeded.  One wonders, for how long?

If one looks at US interventions – either overt or covert - in sovereign
countries, just since the end of WWII we have used millions of tons of
bombs and bullets and have killed – or caused to “be disappeared” –
millions of people; that’s known as Genocide folks.  Since the first Iraq
venture by the US and subsequent sanctions, up to and including the
present crimes against humanity now happening, we have murdered over a
million men, women and children.  That’s known as “ethnic cleansing”
folks.   Are our leaders any different than those leaders who stood for
trial at Nuremberg?   Is ex-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld any different
than Adolph Eichmann?   Is Bush any different than Hitler?  I think not. 

And if we dared pay attention to our history we would know that for a
couple of hundred years we have been – in addition to the bully on the
playground – the murderer of the world.  The tried and true comeback: “But
others have murdered also,” as if this qualification somehow excuses our
terrorism.  It’s no more than the old childhood wail; “Johnny was in the
cookie jar too.”   As my mother was fond of rebuking whenever I rolled out
that excuse, “If Johnny jumped off the bridge, I guess you would also?”

I don’t know if that can sum up our foreign policy or not, somehow we all
know that it is more a case of getting in first and taking what we want,
rather than following anyone else.  After all, the bully of the playground
always wants to be “first in line,” and will use whatever means – or
excuses – to get there.  Making the world safe for democracy is, of
course, the current phrase (excuse) de rigueur used to justify terror and
genocide.  If you understand history, if you read, know, history, you
realize in your soul that we murder with impunity, for the twin gods of
control and greed. 

Control and greed, the omnipresent nocturnal emissions that guide the
plutocracy.  Thinking with their penis – not for sex – as they rampage the
Universe while bowing at the phallic altar of ravenousness.

Isn’t it time to wake up Amerika?  How about slapping yourself in the
face, or taking a cold shower?  Or, perhaps, visit your nearest orthopedic
surgeon and have a backbone inserted, they do wonders with transplants
these days.

Take care out there.



Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow,
and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger
readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary
fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone
Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales
of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and
many plays and scripts.

Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah.
He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s.
Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and
directs plays. He recently began a longterm position as a professor of
writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.

Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife,
Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.


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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, November 30, 2006 0 comments

26 November, 2006

911blogger kids email exchange with Uncle Chomsky

You proclaim that to challenge the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK as
being anything other than as officially described would be the "Death of
the Left". No, sir people you are becoming the "Death of the Left",
because you and the other foundation funded "Leaders" have been
politically castrating the political Left. And all with the anaesthetic of
half-truths and micro revelations that steam valve just how corrupt things
are. So the “Death of the Left” will be the slow political impotency that
no longer inspires new generations to challenge the things that need
challenging the most, “politically correct” or not. Above all though your
constant dismissal of the 9/11 issue is frankly vomit inducing. There are
credible, valid and rational reasons to doubt the official narrative
describing that attack, yet you plead ignorance and show distain for such
a critical subject, why? Beucase of this enigmatic stance of yours I
actually now sympathise with those who would call you a gutless,
visionless charlatan and coward.

And you might find that rather somewhat impolite, but given that you abuse
your influence by actively discouraging debate and investigation into this
issue, which helps to prevent the emergence of vital truths about acts so
heinous, I don’t believe politeness in this case deserves a relevancy any

Most Disgusted,
Dem Bruce Lee Styles

Fri, 11/24/2006 - 4:37pm


Here's his reply;

"Since I have never taken the position you describe, I cannot respond to
your letter."


And here's my second;

Well, regardless you must have heard by now that the state of Venezuela
recently passed a resolution declaring that to the countries’ official
judgement, the 9/11 attacks were quote “self-inflicted”;

“Venezuela's president continued his criticism of President Bush after the
pro-Chávez legislature declared that the 9/11 attacks were


I am well aware of your publicly stated opinion that you believe sceptics
of the official 9/11 narrative are citing “arcane and dubious theories” as
the basis for their objections (http://blog.zmag.org/node/2779). Do you
now intend to extend that courtesy to President Hugo Chavez (who highly
praised your latest book at the UN, which is perhaps foolish of me
mentioning because you undoubtedly know that) and the Government of

Personal assessments of your particular stance on this issue like mine may
be worthless to you, but this is not an issue to rationalize away
opposition and vital questioning. Wars are being waged, civil liberties in
multiple countries are under threat and great damage globally is being
done, all with the justification of the event in question. Is it not right
to demand absolute scrutiny of that event, when so much is at stake?

I believe there are a number of understandable reasons as to why you may
not wish to contemplate such a disturbing notion. And I’m sure you might
also be conscious of not wanting to venture into something that you may
think might tarnish your credibility and reputation. But I think these
grounds for inactivity on this issue are erroneous, indeed it is difficult
to contemplate but I feel the need for a new investigation outweighs that
discomfort, and is in fact a duty at this stage.

Please at the very lest devote some attention to this matter, I believe
C-Span’s Book TV is airing a recent event titled “9/11 and American
Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out” with speakers David Ray Griffin, Peter
Dale Scott, Peter Phillips, Kevin Ryan and Ray McGovern. The program times

“Friday, November 24 at (EST) 4:00 pm and Saturday, November 25 at (EST)
3:30 am and at 10:00 pm”

If those times are inconvenient for you the website 911blogger.com will be
hosting the video of the broadcast within the next few days or sooner I’d


Thanks for your response,
Dem Bruce Lee Styles


Here's his second reply;

I wasn't aware of the Venezuelan government's resolution, and have no idea
what their reasons are, so can't comment on them.

You're quite right that 9/11 is being exploited to provide a pretext for
some of the crimes of the Bush administration, though the most serious
ones, which really threaten species survival, precede 9/11. Those who
oppose those crimes have two clear choices: (1) take energetic action to
bring them to an end; (2) engage in debates over the question of the
responsibility for 9/11. My priorities happen to be (1), and I think one
of the most harmful effects of the Truth Movement has been to draw
enormous energies away from such efforts. But I don't have the arrogance
to demand that others accept my priorities.

Those who prefer (2) know exactly how to proceed. E.g., those who believe
that the physical evidence is significant should do what everyone else
does who reaches some conclusions physical evidence: submit a paper to a
serious professional journal raising the issues, and raising questions
about the reports of the professional society of civil engineers and
others -- an action that carries not the slightest cost, contrary to what
adherents of the Truth Movement like to believe about themselves. To my
knowledge, there is not even a single submission. The remainder of the
evidence should also be evaluated by those who regard debate over
responsibility as a higher priority than action to bring serious crimes to
an end.

I've been involved in political activism for 60 years, but have never run
across anything like the extraordinary self-righteousness and arrogance of
the Truth Movement, for example, its amazing claim that those who don't
find its assertions credible must be concerned about tarnishing their
credibility, etc. It's apparently inconceivable that they simply disagree.
As for tarnishing credibility, that's a joke. Adopting the position of the
Truth Movement does not even remotely compare with the consequences of
actions that I and other dissidents undertake routinely, even putting
aside organization of direct resistance and facing the likelihood of long
prison sentences. Have Falk and Griffin suffered any repercussions for
their book, for example? Or Scott? Or any of those who are offered quite
unusual exposure in the media, as in the example you mention?


Now CHRIS writes to Chomsky:

heres one i just wrote to him. i even kept my anger in check! hahaha:

I'll keep this short. You owe it to yourself to read
this book(Towers of Deception:The Media Cover-Up of


but im sure you wont since you have shown you cant grasp the concept of
"false flags" and dont(or refuse to allow yourself to) find them
important. You have stated numerous times that there are "more important
things". I can respect that even if I dont quite buy it. That said, you
should at least read the chapter that Barrie Zwicker wrote about you and
"gatekeepers"(he wrote the chapter because like myself and many others he
once respected your work but is perplexed by your silence on certain
issues). I dont know if anyone has brought this book to your attention,
but Zwicker has you pegged perfectly. I await your typically haughty
response. Chris R.

Submitted by Chris on Sat, 11/25/2006 - 5:00pm.


Noam Chomsky answers:

Thank you for the reading suggestion. Though perhaps you will find it
"haughty," I do not have the arrogance to instruct you to shift your
priorities to matters that I think are far more important, and am
intrigued that advocates of the "Truth Movement" do feel that it is their
right to issue such instructions from on high. In 60 years of activism,
I've never come across anything like it.

I don't know you, but I do see something of Zwicker's work, and have had
discussions with him, and am aware of his disregard of issues that seem to
me far more significant than the one he devotes himself to with such ardor.
However, I am not "perplexed" because he makes his own judgments, rather
than following mine. And though at one time I was "perplexed" that Truth
Movement advocates, from their lofty position, feel entitled to issue such
orders and are "perplexed' when others don't follow them, I know longer am.
I've come to undertand that it is a component of the Truth Movement.
In brief, we have two choices: (1) act to bring to an end crimes of state
that are vastly worse even than participation in 9/11 would be, for the
most part bipartisan, and supported by Canada, UK, etc.; (2) engage in
debates about the background for 9/11. Of course, (2) is far easier, as
anyone with any activist experience knows. But if you think it more
important than (1), by all means follow your own judgment, without my
being "perplexed" about your silence and inaction on matters that seem far
more significant to me.


Chris writes again:

Just as haughty and condescending as I thought you
would be, you do not dissapoint sir. In 60 years of
activism you have never been confronted with a
movement(one you do a terrible job of hiding your
disdain for. Is that fear I smell?) such as ours, one
that sees through your BS. You must hate technology,
specifically the internet, which makes it so much
easier to see what purpose steam valves like yourself
serve. Oh and Noam, you have more than enough
arrogance for all of us. The 9/11 truth movement(sort
of like the JFK movement that you also curiously
oppossed. I see a pattern. Still think it doesnt
matter who killed JFK? Yeah, hes just a cold warrior
and his death had no real geopolitical effect right?)
threatens establishment dissidents like yourself, I
understand that, but to call the unexplained murder of
3000 innocents(I know, you have done so much activism
for so many innocents in the past, whats 3000 lives
right? Especially when they are american lives right?)
unimportant is an insult on so many levels to so many
people. I dont need to tell you what 9/11 lead to and
how many deaths and injustices it spawned and still
spawns. Still you find it unimportant. I dont expect
you to broach the subject of 9/11 with full honesty,
but do you really have to disrespect the people that
are trying to find real answers? How about that
chapter Zwicker wrote on you? Did you read it? He had
you pegged didnt he? Chris R.


Chris says:

looks like Chomsky is offended. again he fails to respond to any of the
substance of my e-mail and chooses instead to turn it around on me. this
guy is good:

If you ever decide that you have some serious comment or query,
I'll be glad to consider it, and respond, as I do to maybe 100 every
If you prefer to ignore and evade every word in response to your charges,
and to react with nothing more than a stream of insults,
that's OK, but there is really no need to waste your time and mine.

Submitted by Chris on Sat, 11/25/2006 - 7:31p


Chris writes again:

I made valid points and valid criticisms. Im sorry you
failed to respond to any of the content in my e-mail
and decided to take it as an insult. The statement on
your arrogance might have been a bit much, but that
was only in response to your bashing of an entire
movement. I know you dont like to be painted with a
broad brush, neither do I. I do find it interesting
that you failed to respond to any of the points I made
in both of my e-mails though. Par for the course I
guess. Chris R.


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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, November 26, 2006 1 comments

22 November, 2006

half dozen media conglomerates are sitting on the windpipe of the first amendment

Where Is the Liberal Media? An interview with Jeff Cohen
by Christopher Brown (christo)

True progressive media types shiver when the names of CNN, MSNBC or FOX
are thrust in front of them. Many swear that they never would bother
watching "so called" news broadcasts on these cable outlets, much less
work there. However, one decided to give it a whirl. Jeff Cohen is a noted
media critic and pundit. A true progressive and not just "playing one on
TV" as he puts it; Cohen ventured into the world of Cable News for...gasp

In fact, he had a weekend show on the FOX network for five years called
"Newswatch." He was a frequent guest co-host on CNN's show "Crossfire" and
was a senior producer for "Donahue" on MSNBC.

Cohen, somehow, managed to survive this ordeal and lived to write about it
in his new book,

Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.

On Nov. 16 I had the opportunity to speak with Cohen, who is also
co-founder of the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
(FAIR), via telephone as he battled a cold, and the onslaught of several
interviews around the issue of the elections.

QUESTION: Could you talk a bit about your experience at FOX, MSNBC, and

It was often otherworldly, in that I was a ferocious critic of those
channels while simultaneously appearing on them. So, it always felt a
little odd but it deepened my understanding of what the problem is in
corporate media. You have to be on the inside to see the fear, the
timidity, the careerism, to see that the people that rise to the top are
often the ones who are best at corporate politics and not rocking any
boats, and not so keen on tough independent journalism.

In these corporate hierarchies you see a lot of good people, but they're
usually the ones with the least power.

One fear that is easy to find in TV news is the fear that might get you or
your TV network accused of being liberal.

QUESTION: In your book Cable News Confidential, you wrote about being a
senior producer for Donahue (Phil Donahue) and how you wanted to have a
true progressive voice on television, yet the executives of MSNBC
continually rebuffed you. Is this correct?

Yes that's completely right and the odd thing is, why did I believe them
in the first place? I left FOX news where I had this weird perch as a
media critic every weekend for five years on "Fox Newswatch," and I was
saying a lot of stuff that no one was saying anywhere.

But I gave that up because I convinced myself that bosses at MSNBC assured
us that we would be counter-programming against [Bill] O'Reilley, that we
could be as progressive as he is conservative in our outlook. I convinced
myself that that they might be telling the truth, but they weren't.

The major factor was the coming of the Iraq War. When they hired Donahue
in the spring of 2002, it wasn't complete clear that an invasion of Iraq
was coming. But before Donahue even went on the air (July 15, 2002), it
was clearer that the war was going to happen. Indeed, our very first
debate included Scott Ritter. Even before Donahue went on the air, the
suits at MSNBC were second-guessing why they hired this raving anti-war
advocate. And so they turned the screws on us almost from the beginning
and kept turning them tighter.

So by the end, they were ordering us, if we booked one guest that was
anti-war, we had to book two that were pro-war. If we booked two guests on
the left, we had to have three on the right. At one meeting a producer
suggested booking Michael Moore and she was told for ideological balance
she would need three right-wingers. It became more of a nightmare, as the
war got closer; and then we all got terminated three weeks before the
invasion was launched, and it was purely political.

I challenge people to come up with another example where a TV channel
cancels its program that is the most watched on its channel.

It was political timidity, fear of having dissent, which I thought our
country was supposed to be about. As I say in the book, a half dozen media
conglomerates are sitting on the windpipe of the first amendment.

QUESTION: FCC commissioners Michael Kopps and Jonathan Adelstein have
been going around the country to hear the concerns of citizens over the
consolidation of the airwaves by the major corporate outlets. Further, the
COPE bill, which passed the House of Representatives, would further
undermine, among other things, public access TV and community radio. There
is concern among independent media folk that if the Internet is taken over
by ATT, then there will be no voice for anyone other than corporate news.
Are these measures designed to silence our free speech first amendment

I think the Bush administration is thoroughly weakened because of the
election. But I think that there is a bigger picture and a longer-term
thrust that began long before Bush and will continue after Bush. And that
is the fear of democracy.

The famous writings of Samuel Huntington in the 70s reacting to the
student movement, the women's movement, and the Black movement, they were
worried about the threat of democracy. And I think that it is a
longer-term thing. The economic powers that be are taking more and more
control of the means of communication, one because of commercial reasons
and two, they don't want those means of communications to be in the wrong
hands, meaning the public.

That's why you'll see corporations like General Electric (GE),
Archer/Daniels/Midland (ADM), and other conservative corporate powerhouses
spending a lot of money on public broadcasting. They feel the more money
they spread around, the more presence they have, the more they can squeeze
off dissenting views.

I see it as a long-term thing. You are exactly right about the Internet.
As I say in the book, independent media are booming. And almost all
independent media are booming because of the Internet. The Internet has
been a huge assist to Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!," which is largely TV
and radio. The Internet has been a huge assist to Robert Greenwald and
other documentarians, because it allows them to raise funds and market
their movies better; let alone Internet outlets like Web sites and blogs
that are booming.

In fact, I speak as an author of a progressive book, that if it weren't
for the Internet; who would know about my book? I've been locked out of
cable TV news. I've been locked out of most of the mainstream media. If it
weren't for the Internet, progressive authors wouldn't be able to see
their books the way they can now.

QUESTION: After the Democrats took back Congress, journalists like Tom
Brokov and Tim Russert went on air and said that the people were against
the Republicans and not for the Democrats. That those who managed to win
are conservative or centrist at best however, this is not the case is it?

The reason that none of this is brought out is because of who gets to
speak and who doesn't. The spectrum of the "punditocracy" is center-right;
GE to GM (General Motors).

In so many contested races the candidate who questioned corporate friendly
trade deals defeated the apologists for those deals. And in so many of the
contested races, even Jim Webb (D-VA) who's not progressive, was pretty
strong on the war.

The corporate media elite has one reaction to Democrats in elections,
which is to prod them to be corporate centrists. It's all you ever hear,
"the Democrats are going to have to move to the center." This is because
the spectrum is only from the center to the right.

I watch CNN and a supposed progressive said the same thing as the others;
the party will be in the center. The reality is that the Progressive
Caucus in Congress has grown by huge strides. And perhaps half the
standing committees in the House will headed by members of the Progressive
Caucus. The Progressive Caucus is likely to be over 70 people, and that's
bigger than the two caucuses you hear about on election day; the Blue
Dogs, who are mostly Southern conservatives; and the "so called" New
Democrats who are real big on corporate friendly trade deals.

QUESTION: We hear often from right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity, Ann
Coulter, Pat Buchanan and others that the media is liberal. However,
conservative corporate giants control all the major news outlets. Where is
this so-called media that the far-right are talking about?

I've been looking for it myself! I tell that story in the book, when I get
to MSNBC, where I'm working like 10 or 11 hours every day I'm looking all
over to see if there are any co-thinkers, and I couldn't find them. I
found a total of seven but I included the camera operators, the make-up
artists, and the interns.

The reason that Ann Coulter is a household face is because of her huge
role on TV. The same thing could be said for Rev. Jerry Falwell, Frank
Gaffney one of these uber hawks. You know that's the funny thing, if the
media is so liberal how come it's dominated by these right-wingers? How
come the most prominent opinion shapers are conservative in talk TV --
that's O'Reilley, Hannity, Scarbourgh, Tucker Carlson, Glen Beck, [Robert]
Novak -- on talk radio the right-wing dominates. And in opinion pages, the
most widely syndicated columnists are conservative. It's people like
George Will and Bob Novak.

So, they have the sweep of opinion shaping. And because they're so
dominant in opinion shaping they can talk about the liberal media. The
fact that the liberal media charge gets made so much in the mainstream
media shows how much the right-wing dominates it.

It's not like Noam Chomsky is a household name to the American public, or
other progressive media critics. But gee you sure see a lot of Cal Thomas,
Ann Coulter, Hannity, and O'Reilly that are always blasting the liberal

QUESTION: Finally Jeff Cohen, what can ordinary citizens do to be able to
take control of the disinformation that is being given out by the
corporate elites and the right-wing punditry?

The first thing the average new consumer needs to do is aggressively seek
out independent voices; support independent media, support Internet based
media, then spread the word to their friends and neighbors about
independent media.

Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!," doesn't have an advertising budget so it's
word of mouth. That's the most important thing is keep building the
independent media.

Secondarily, the media reform movement. Now that there are Democrats
running these committees there can be hearings on media conglomeration;
and not just FCC but Congress. There are any number of reforms that can be

There's no reason why we can't apply antitrust standards to the media.
There's no real reason why Clear Channel should be allowed to have 1,200
radio licenses. There's no reason why many licenses can't be divided up
and given to non-profit groups. There's no reason why we're lacking
genuine public broadcasting.

Most of Western and Northern Europe have public broadcasting where some of
the best journalists in those countries can work. In our country, we've
never had "real" public broadcasting. Our politicians have always had the
ability to shut the funding off, which is why public broadcasting has
always been so timid. And because of the lack of money the corporate
underwriters come in and decide which programs go on TV and which ones

It's not hard to see where the reforms need to be to diversify the media,
democratize the media, allow more non-profit owners and minority owners.
It's just a question of whether we can build a political movement to force
Washington to make those changes that would reverse the course we've been
on for decades.

Christopher Brown is an independent grassroots journalist based in San
Francisco, CA. He reviewed Jeff Cohen’s book; Cable News Confidential: My
Misadventures in Corporate Media for Ohmynews. He has a blog on Palestine
at www.cbgonzo.blogspot.com.

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, November 22, 2006 3 comments

Private Business mafia caused Tonga riots

The old trick.

The anti-democratic business-mafia pays agent provocateurs to
riot, as violently as possible, and destroy the competition,
honest hard working chinese vendors etc and destroy the
reputation of a people's movement (as Mike Jones told Radio New Zealand).

A Tongan spokesperson (on radioNZ, too) confirmed that
the business-bastards knew full well that the movement
would loose a vote on more democracy, if the parliament
had convened. So they were safe from democracy and had
a false-flag reason to incite the riots through useful idiots.

Listen: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/mnr/tongan_unrest

The typical EMBEDDED ideologically blinkered press reports it
falsely like this:


Radio New Zealand: Posted at 22:36 on 20 November, 2006 UTC

The Tongan Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Lopeti Senituli says he knows
nothing of claims that the recent riots in Tonga’s capital were carefully
planned and funded by commercial interests.
New Zealand businessman, Mike Jones who is Tonga’s biggest employer says
the riots were carefully orchestrated and commercially motivated with the
rioters paid in beer and money.
Mr Senituli says police are investigating what happened and that includes
allegations that the Tonga Business Association might have helped drive
the riots.
“He says the police are conducting intensive widespread investigation into
the riots and its causes. We are certainly part of the list of people that
are being investigated.”
Lopeti Senituli says political factors could also have sparked the
rioting, which caused damage estimated at about a-hundred- and ten million
dollars and it could take up to five years to re-establish the capital’s
business district.

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, November 22, 2006 0 comments

21 November, 2006


Movie Review: Independent Intervention November 21, 2006 spincycle

General Tommy Franks described the media as the "fourth front" in his (Iraq) war plan, according to Danny Schechter, an award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. What he meant by that was that winning the "media war" is an important part of winning the war in Iraq. Three years down the line with US stuck in an ever-worsening situation, we all know what happens when governments win the media war and succumb to their hubris.

Independent Intervention, a documentary by Norwegian filmmaker Tonje Hessen Schei, is superficially an exploration of how the Iraq war was fought on the "fourth front" in US media. On a deeper level, it is a well crafted expose of the effects of media conglomeration on the style, topicality and quality of news.

Schei begins her documentary with a series of heartrending images from Iraq, images that were never shown on mainstream American media. This initial sequence provides the preface to her documentary- the Iraq war shown on the television screens of Americans was a very different from the one being fought in Iraq. Schei, struck by the jingoistic, bleached (of the horrors of war), video game like coverage of Iraq war in US mainstream media, explores the reasons behind how and why mainstream American media became a willing partner in government's propaganda machine helping it wage the war for the hearts and minds of American public. Using footage from the war and interviews with people luminaries like Dr. Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman and others, Schei persuasively argues that a majority of what went wrong during media's coverage of Iraq war can be traced to corporate media ownership.

The documentary does a stupendous job in tracing media's coverage of Iraq war starting with the pre-war buildup by effectively using some well known statistics, for example about how during the two week period around which Colin Powell gave his speech at UN and during a time when more than half of the people opposed war, and - out of the 393 people who were interviewed on the four major nightly network newscasts, NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS - only a meager 3% held antiwar views while a stunning 71% were pro war.

Independent Intervention is simply scintillating when it weaves snippets from local morning news shows to convey a point. It is jarring to see new coverage of anti-war protests highlighting mundane inconveniences caused by protestors - "simply creating chaos during rush hour" or "protestors shut down the financial district in San Francisco" and completely failing to bring to attention any of the reasons why protestors were against the war.

Schei, though, is never is able to purposefully include some information in the documentary. For example, we are informed that five corporations - Vivendi, Disney, Time Warner, News Corp, Viacom - own eighty percent of media but yet are left in the dark about how and why it affects media coverage in the way it does. Perhaps the critique is implicit but it is limited to corporate control (economics fudging the news) and not to effects of agglomeration. The documentary much more persuasively explores how merger of showbiz and "newsbiz" has had a damning impact on the way news is covered.

It is also great in highlighting that the penumbra of disinformation encompasses not only casualties in Iraq war but also money spent by American taxpayers.
Media today is an important institution - a tool through which we understand the world and the world understands us. As Goodman mentions, things go haywire when information is filtered through a corporate prism. There is a strong argument to be made that we need to keep the media free and independent. Most importantly, media shouldn't be confused as a tool of war for that is when one is most prone to hubris.

Overall, Independent Intervention can be seen as part of the genre of documentaries inspired by Michael Moore - a genre of unabashedly political documentaries with an agenda, but its wider message - that of need for independent media - would be of interest to both liberals and conservatives.

The DVD of the film is available at http://www.independentintervention.com
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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, November 21, 2006 0 comments

A private business-mafia caused Tonga riots

The old trick.

An anti-democratic business-mafia pays agent provocateurs to
riot, as violently as possible, and destroy the competition,
honest hard working chinese vendors etc and destroy the
reputation of a people's movement (as Mike Jones told Radio New Zealand).

A Tongan spokesperson (on radioNZ, too) confirmed that
the business-bastards knew full well that the movement
would loose a vote on more democracy, if the parliament
had convened. So they were safe from democracy and had
a false-flag reason to incite the riots through useful idiots.

Listen: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/mnr/tongan_unrest

The typical EMBEDDED ideologically blinkered press reports it
falsely like this:


Radio New Zealand: Posted at 22:36 on 20 November, 2006 UTC

The Tongan Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Lopeti Senituli says he knows nothing of claims that the recent riots in Tonga’s capital were carefully planned and funded by commercial interests.
New Zealand businessman, Mike Jones who is Tonga’s biggest employer says the riots were carefully orchestrated and commercially motivated with the rioters paid in beer and money.
Mr Senituli says police are investigating what happened and that includes allegations that the Tonga Business Association might have helped drive the riots.
“He says the police are conducting intensive widespread investigation into the riots and its causes. We are certainly part of the list of people that are being investigated.”
Lopeti Senituli says political factors could also have sparked the rioting, which caused damage estimated at about a-hundred- and ten million dollars and it could take up to five years to re-establish the capital’s business district.
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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, November 21, 2006 0 comments

Millionaires are our downfall.

"First, I simply want to remind everyone of what we already know," Chomsky
"These questions are not abstract. We're dealing with questions of life
and death, of pain and despair."

Chomsky proceeded to describe how world politics revolve around the lives
of the rich, leaving behind poor individuals and impoverished countries.
He then discussed the recent G­7 meetings,a series of international talks
between representatives of the seven richest economic countries in the

"The rich and famous all come and flock there," Chomsky said. "You get
people like Robert Rubin, who might be called co-President of the United
States; after all, you have to give Alan Greenspan at least half the

Though joking at times, Chomsky maintained a serious line of thought as he
contrasted the vast press coverage of the G­7 meetings to the poor
coverage received by the G­15 meetings, a similar series including
powerful but less moneyed countries.

"These are not minor countries,"he said. "And you could read about them,
if you subscribe to the leading journal in Egypt. Elsewhere, the media
thinks it just isn't important enough to report on."

Chomsky then explained that what many have called an economic boom has
really been a boom for the rich and an economic failure for everyone else.
"It's a globalization of the Third World Model,"Chomsky said. "You get
societies with small groups of extremely wealthy people."

"Greenspan attributed this 'fairy-tale' economy to greater economic
insecurity: a system in which workers are afraid to ask for benefits and
the like for fear of losing their jobs. And that contributes to what they
call 'economic growth',"he said. "Some of it is just straight corporate
crime, which is especially strong when it is supported by a crooked state."


According to this years edition of the World Wealth Report conducted by
Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, the number of millionaires worldwide
increased by 600,000 to 8.3m in 2004. The report defines a millionaire as
an individual who has assets worth more than $1m excluding their primary

The combined wealth of all these high net worth individuals (HNWI's)
exceeds $30 trillion. At a regional level, Australia, India, Singapore,
and Hong Kong were the strongest performers - Australia added 47 new
millionaires a day throughout 2004, whilst India added almost 25 a day.


Lets tax 8.3 million people a 20% "1990s wind-fall for community
expenditure tax" and divide the resulting 6 trillion US$ by the 6 billion
people on earth. That's 1000 US$ for every Child, Woman and Man in terms
of schooling, fresh water, health care, pension and roof over the head!!
Would these millionaires care?


Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's
jobs with yesterday's tools.

Noam Chomsky


Wealthy German citizens hold more than 800 billion Swiss francs (516
billion euros, $645 billion) in bank accounts in neighboring Switzerland
mainly to avoid taxation, a Swiss business weekly reported this week.

The magazine Cash said its figures were based on the latest banking data
released by the Swiss central bank.

New deposits during the third quarter amounted to 41.9 billion Swiss
francs at the country's largest bank, UBS, and 31 billion Swiss francs at
Credit Suisse. One-third of those amounts came from Germany, it added.

About one-quarter of the deposits managed by banks in Switzerland come
from German company sell-offs or management bonuses paid out in Germany,
Cash estimated.

Swiss banking preferred by rich Germans

The weekly publication cited data from German tax authorities which
indicated that small savers tend to prefer offshore banking in Austria or
Luxembourg, while wealthy Germans turned to Switzerland.

Since July last year, Switzerland -- which is not a member of the European
Union -- levies a withholding tax on interest earned by EU residents on
their Swiss accounts. The revenue is mainly paid back to EU governments.

The agreement between the EU, including Germany, and Switzerland was part
of a broader attempt to discourage tax evasion as capital flows more
freely between European nations.

Swiss banking secrecy laws forbid the release of transaction details to
authorities, unless it is part of a criminal investigation. Tax evasion is
not classified as a crime under Swiss law, but as a civil offence.


England does not join the EURO because it would have to shut down the
tax-evader-'havens' like the channel islands, cayman is. Etc. Social
parasite tax-evading countries include

Andorra, Anguilla, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands,
Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Delaware USA, Gibraltar, Guernsey,
Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Labuan,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius,
Netherlands Antilles, Nevis, New Zealand, Panama, Samoa, Seychelles,
Singapore, Switzerland, Turks and Caicos, United Kingdom, Vanuatu.


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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, November 21, 2006 1 comments

19 November, 2006

Control the Lobbyists in Brussels

GREAT WEBSITE!! http://www.corporateeurope.org/

Reclaim your citizen's rights from the multinationals.... join the fight.

The Unconscious Civilization a MUST READ for those interested in the


Der Markt frißt seine Kinder MUSS MAN GELESEN HABEN, falls Interesse am

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, November 19, 2006 0 comments

17 November, 2006

Star Trek - Fascistoid CIA propaganda

American cultural assumptions.

In the beginning we have a Kennedy-era scenario stuffed with all the
'can-do' spirit of a Robert McNamara press conference. An Imperial project
was implicit. The program was originally to be called 'Wagon Train to the
Stars', before a canny producer switched to the snappier 'Star Trek'
(appropriating a term from the Boer colonisation of the African interior).
Of course with a black character on the bridge the show was always built
on a paradox, conquering in the name of diversity. By the late 1980s, Star
Trek: The Next Generation firmly espoused a post-Vietnam, post-Cold War,
alien-friendly outlook. As Jenkins notes, the 1987 edition of the Star
Trek writers manual warns:

We are not in buying stories which cast our people and our vessel in the
role of 'galactic policemen' ... Nor is our mission that of spreading 20th
Century Euro/American cultural values throughout the galaxy ... We are not
in the business of toppling cultures that we do not approve of. As the
authors themselves concede, there is room for a detailed study of this
transformation. A lively cultural history of American television
production and viewing could be written around the Star Trek phenomenon.
It would be valuable to look at the behind the scenes debates behind the
voyage from TV fiction's first inter-racial kiss in the 1960s, to the
ambiguously liberal 1990s when, same sex relationships may be shown, but
only after it has been explained that one of the participants is actually
a male alien who has assumed a female body. This book is emphatically not
that or any other kind of history. Instead it has merely succeeded in
opening the door to a subject which, like the Doctor's police box, is
bigger on the inside than it seems from outside. The result is,
nonetheless, as Spock would say: 'fascinating'.


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posted by u2r2h at Friday, November 17, 2006 0 comments

14 November, 2006

Secular Priesthood

November 14, 2006

Alternative media can balance establishment's experts

The late political philosopher Isaiah Berlin coined the term ''secular priesthood'' to describe Russian commissars who were apologists for Stalin's crimes. Later, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky adapted the term to characterize their counterpart in contemporary societies, namely the higher level media, commentators and academic types who learn which side of their crusty French bread has the foie gras.

Just whom do they serve in our own society? Although we avoid the subject, we live in a class society. Roughly 2 percent of the population owns virtually everything that matters. Below them reside about 18 percent, those whom political analyst Michael Albert calls the ''coordinator class,'' most of whom administer the daily operations of the economy. They are the agents that workers encounter on a day-to-day basis. The government, including both parties, serves this group. Finally, at the bottom, 80 percent of the population consists of working people with little or no power or influence.

The secular priesthood belongs in the second group and the target for their actions are the minds of newspapers readers like yourselves, educated people with some discretionary time and resources. The fear is that if this vast middle class knew the truth, they would demand changes that would threaten the top 20 percent. Therefore, obedience to the system must be engineered by those whose stated opinions habitually echo what Orwell once called the official truth.

For their servility, the secular priesthood is accorded a lavish lifestyle, respectability, minor celebrity status, and the label ''experts.'' Henry Kissinger, in a rare candid moment, once defined an expert as ''a person who knows how to articulate the consensus of his constituency.'' Their function is to create public opinion, in Chomsky's phrase, to ''manufacture consent'' through disinformation, misinformation, and especially omission of vital information. It's impossible not to detect a measure of contempt for ordinary citizens in this behavior.

Some carefully vetted academics become, as British writer Tariq Ali terms them, ''embedded experts of the empire.'' Being ''useful'' wins them prizes, access to major media outlets and tenure at places like Harvard, Yale and Stanford. They are called upon to provide commentaries in The New York Times, on CNN, NPR and The PBS Nightly News Hour. Within the media, establishment lapdogs do entertain vigorous debate, but only within narrowly circumscribed limits of acceptable thought. Because core issues are never addressed, they presumably do not exist.

By contrast, critical intellectuals who raise nettlesome questions aren't invited. To accord ''expert'' status to them would undermine the legitimacy of the domesticated intellectuals. Therefore, critical intellectuals are marginalized, dismissed as provocative, pariahs or worse. (Here I might note that this newspaper, The Morning Call, deserves credit for its routinely demonstrated practice of a free press and respect for the First Amendment.)

What are a few propositions that demand widespread exposure and debate? 1. Meaningful democracy and capitalism are mutually exclusive. 2. The United States is hated not for what we are but what we do in the world. 3. Oil can never be cited as the real motive behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq. 4. Sources of cheap labor, resources and profits . not promoting freedom . explain the 800 U.S. military bases around the globe and U.S. foreign policy since 1945. 5. The Israeli lobby in Washington does not serve this country's best interests. 6. The ''war on terrorism'' is only the latest propaganda tool to scare the public for other ends. 7. The proposed U.S. ''defense shield'' in outer space is an offensive weapon. 8. The purchasing power (adjusted for inflation) of the typical American family been falling for many years. 9. Big Business loves illegal immigration. 10. Most people experience no signficant upward mobility and the American Dream is now officially a myth.

Where does one find an antidote to the ''official truth'' on these and other issues? Progressive Web outlets that I use frequently include Common Dreams, ZNet/Z Magazine, F.A.I.R., DollarsandSense, truthOut.com, Counterpunch, TheProgressiveMagazine, Pacifica Radio and AlterNet. Alternative media aren't a substitute for activism, but they are a necessary prerequisite.

Gary Olson, Ph.D. is chair of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem. His e-mail address is olson@moravian.edu.

''The fear is that if this vast middle class knew the truth, they would demand changes that would threaten the top 20 percent.''


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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, November 14, 2006 0 comments

German Friend of Mohamed Atta -- CIA Agent?

Terror alert in South Pacific

Nov 14, 2006

A low level terror alert is in force in the South Pacific.

The FBI is on the trail of a man with alleged links to one of the September 11 masterminds after he tried to set up a pilot training school on a remote island, bordering US territory. That is despite the island having no airport or telephones.

The isolated Kiribati islands are grappling with being catapulted into the world of terrorism.

"It's absolutely gut wrenching frightening," says Fanning Island resident Chuck Corbett.

The man causing the alarm is Wolfgang Bohringer, who sailed into Kiribati's Fanning Island a year ago.

On board, along with his Slovenian girlfriend, was a proposal to set up a resort and flight school on the island.

Kiribati President Anote Tong says there are serious communication problems on the island and Bohringer was going to help out.

"We have an old airfield that needs redoing and part of the proposal is he would do it, he would provide air services," Tong says.

But for local residents like Corbett, who spent months with Bohringer, things did not add up.

"One particular night he laid out seven passports on the table. I recall one being from Ireland, from the Bahamas, one from Grenada, India, the US, Germany and one other one," Corbett says.

Then there was the cash and lots of it.

"I would offer to go shopping for him," says Corbett. "He would always give me a $100 bill. Once it was seven $100 bills and they were always crisp and neat."

But the alarm bells really started ringing when Bohringer told islanders he was in contact with Mohammed Atta, the architect of September 11.

The pair mixed frequently as Bohringer had owned a flight school beside the airfield where the 9/11 hijackers trained.

That information led Kiribati authorities to investigate.

"The check was carried out and we received information there was maybe a little more to the proposal than appeared to be," says Tong.

The FBI thought so too. When Bohringer realised officials were on to him he sailed off, leaving his girlfriend behind.

The joint terrorism task force has now joined the FBI investigation into Bohringer.

One agent ONE News spoke to confirmed that Bohringer is a person of interest and they are very keen to find out where he is.

They want answers to why Bohringer would set up a flight school using DC3s on an island bordering US waters.

The Kiribati government is now calling for the US, New Zealand and Australia to help them with security.

"I'm sure it may be part of a grand plan that even we cannot imagine. But we would never contribute to a programme that would... have the intent of violence," says Tong.

For now, the FBI is continuing its search for the mysterious Wolfgang Bohringer and his cash laden yacht.

Source: One News -- New Zealand Public-owned Television

Watch ViDEO: Terror alert in South Pacific (2:44)
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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, November 14, 2006 1 comments

12 November, 2006

Commentary: War on Terror Is a Strategy to Criminalize Dissent

The idea of terrorism is extended to several forms of social fight and
protest. Dissident political and trade union opinions become
criminalized. An environment movement such as Greenpeace or animal rights
activist is even prosecuted as terrorist in some countries. Lawyer
Raf Jespers of the Progressive Lawyers Network, Belgium, made these
arguments during a forum of international lawyers in Davao City last

The attacks in New York, London and Madrid were the signal for the U.S.
and Europe to curtail without scruples, the fundamental rights of its
citizens. Under the banner of “the war on terror,” they have taken
measures which up to a certain point, can be compared to the fascization
of Europe in the 1930’s under Hitler and Mussolini. The war on terror
starts long before 9/11; but after 9/11 it became accelerated and did not
stop just at today. A new historical period of repression was started.

Terrorism has to be combated; innocent citizens have to be

The traditional judicial definition of terrorism is the use of
organized violence against civilians.

There is no question that a state should arm itself against terror
deeds like those from Al-Qaeda. These blind extreme right and fascist
terror actions do not deserve our understanding. The victims of these
actions are the innocent persons in the streets of New York, London,
Madrid and Mumbai. So too are the Iraqi people, who are victims of the
unlawful occupation in Iraq by the U.S. and Great Britain. This state
terrorism also does not deserve any understanding. These two forms of
terrorism are each other’s breeding grounds. Without Al Qaeda, Bush would
have had a more difficult time invading Iraq and taking drastic measures
against fundamental rights such as in the Patriot Act. The invasion of
Iraq and the terror of the United States against the people became the
pretext for all sorts of fundamentalists to meddle in the Iraqi

9/11 is the beginning of a new era of war on civil

The U.S. is in the world arena without doubt the engine and leading
power for the so-called anti-terrorism measures. All violators of human
rights are justified with their argument that they are necessary in the
fight against terror. Imperialist states and their allies have in the
course of history developed and brought to perfection their state system
to break the resistance of the peoples against injustice and

The measures taken in the past five years mean a historical
modification in the field of expansion of the apparatus to impose or
preserve worldwide the power of the U.S.-imperium. That imperium has been
threatened indeed by the rise of the developing countries: Brazil, Russia,
India and China. By 2040, those countries will have left the old
industrial countries (U.S., Japan, Europe) economically behind them.

We must be aware that the “measures against terror” mean a new era of

After the second world war there was an enormous extension worldwide
of fundamental rights as a result of the victory against fascism in Europe
and Japan and under the influence of the rise of socialism and
anti-olonialism of which peoples and citizens could enjoy.

There was the establishment of the United Nations Organization which
in its charter established the principle of the prohibition on war. It
only allows very exceptionally (if in response to aggression or with the
approval of the UN itself) a state to conduct war. With the war in Iraq,
the U.S. and the United Kingdom have violated theses principles.

In 1949, the conventions of Geneva (four conventions and two
protocols) fixed strict rules on the treatment of soldiers, prisoners of
war and civilians in armed conflicts. In the war in Iraq and during the
aggression war in Israel of July-August 2006 against Lebanon, these
conventions were heavily violated. In 1966, within the framework of the
UNO the very important treaties on the civil and political rights and on
the economic, social and cultural rights were adopted. In 1950, the
important treaty for protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
had already been adopted in Europe.

These progressive achievements of international law stand today
strongly under pressure and are ignored worldwide. As progressive lawyers
we must defend these fundamental rights obstinately: “fight for these
rights, for respect for these rights, for the concrete application of it,
for the extension of these rights.”

With this main point in focus, it will be clear that the “war on
terror” requires a particular responsibility on the shoulders of
progressive lawyers.

Power lines from the anti-terror policies of U.S. and EU: A
permanent state of terror, a perpetual state of “war on

1. Extrajudicial killings, torture, secret prisons, secret
flights of prisoners.

The Philippines is the most terrible example of the strategy to combat
social and political oppression by the killings of their activists (757
killed, 184 missing since Arroyo came into power in 2001).

The secret prisons of the U.S. in countries like Egypt, Romania and
Poland and the secret flights with war-prisoners were reasons for
worldwide protests.

2. Exceptional “anti-terror” legislation

Before 11th of September there were in certain countries such as
Spain, the United Kingdom and Turkey special anti-terrorism laws.
Especially the Turkish law meant far-reaching restrictions on the right to
promote political change. This law came about under the influence of the
military dictatorship in Turkey. It is thus not astonishing that in
Turkey from the seventies on, there was a record of number political

What we see after 9/11 is that this type of fascist legislation, which
is normal to dictatorships, is introduced in almost all countries. You
can see it in the U.S. with the Patriot Act I and II. In Europe, it is
implemented by the application of a special resolution of the European
Union and in the Philippines with the current law proposal.

The nature of this legislation means that a type of common political
offense is inserted in most penal laws whereas previously in most of the
penal laws only very specific political offenses had been formerly
registered, like for example collaboration with a foreign enemy, insult of
a Head of State, etc.

This kind of legislation implies that the political fight which
normally must be realized with political resources (debate, elections,
mass demonstrations, parliament, bills…) and that takes place in the field
of the executive and legislative powers, from now on will also be
conducted by the courts. This is a very dangerous evolution because it
makes an indictable offense of political opposition and because it
criminalizes politically other options and actions.

The nature of all this legislation is that it is meant to maintain the
existing capitalist order in each country and that it blocks the social
action for social and political improvement. This is also said in an
explicit way in all those laws.

All these laws against terror introduce a broadly defined

· To modify the existing political, economic and social order
of the country, in other words it is considered terrorism to stand up for
another form of society than the one where private property of production
resources and of the capital dominates;

· To force the governments and international institutions with
radical resources not to take certain decisions or to force them to take
certain decisions they do not want to take;

· “To scare the population”: which is meant to cover
organizing broad social action, and instilling fear for example about
general strikes

These laws therefore mix political actions with crime: In other words
they make a criminal action out of a political action and strip it of its
political character (depoliticize political activities).

They stigmatized a wide range of legitimate political activity as
“terrorism”. This law created “terrorist suspects” by redefining
terrorism in broader ways, blurring any distinction between
anti-government protest and organized violence against civilians, by
placing entire communities under suspicion of associating with such
“terrorism” by waging psychological warfare through disinformation and
mass media scares about “Al Qaeda cells”.

All these laws impose very heavy sentences, going in certain countries
to the death penalty. They lead to a massive increase of political
prisoners like in Turkey.

All these laws not only punish individuals for what they do, but
introduce also the so-called association-indictable offense. This means
that the mere membership in an organization that is considered terrorist,
even the legal contribution to that organization without even being
member, or the solidarity with such an organization also will be
considered “terrorist”.

The idea of terrorism is extended to several forms of social fight and
protest. Dissident political and trade union opinions become
criminalized. An environment movement such as Greenpeace or animal rights
activist is even prosecuted as terrorist in some countries.

These exceptional laws also lead to exceptional procedures in court,
to special anti- terrorism courts, to courts established behind closed
doors and lose in this way the public’s access, to strategies that avoid
the normal guarantees in trials (e.g. secret proof, especially selected
lawyers, prohibition among other things for lawyers to make certain
information known to client or press), to special system and long periods
of “incommunicado” of the suspect (e.g., proposed Philippine law: 15-day
detention before appearance in front of a judge) something that opens the
door for the application of torture during interrogations.

On 19 September 2001, barely 8 days after 9/11, the EU came up with a
framework decision against terrorism and a framework decision for a
European warrant of arrest. Because of the framework decision against
terrorism, all EU countries were obligated to draw up anti-terror
legislation in their own penal codes. This happened in 2004. This new
legislation means a historical intervention in criminal legislation: for
the first time in history, a very broadly defined and general political
crime is added to the penal code, with heavy punishment and with
punishment for mere membership (also when the person has done nothing

The definition of a terrorist crime is clearly a political crime.
What is defined as a terrorist purpose: disclosing or destroying the
political, constitutional, economic or social basic structures, forcing a
government to abstain from an action; and inflicting grave fear on the
population of a country.

These are pre-eminently political intentions.

Anyone, like the European dockworkers who want to compel the European
Commission to withdraw its directive to liberalize the hiring of
dockworkers, falls under this definition. Those who carry out
anti-globalization activities against capitalism and who want another
society, also fall under this category. So, this goes much further than
combating Al Qaeda, and makes clear that Al Qaeda, in fact is a pretext to
go after anyone who opposes in a radical way.

3. Administrative repression replaces more and more
repression by means of the criminal law. Lists of “terrorists”.

There is a tendency to politically repress more and more by means of
the administrative process. The administration, the executive power and
the government act in name of the courts. A number of guarantees,
recognized in criminal law: right to due process, right to objection,
right by a lawyer, right to examination of the file and the evidence
disappear in that way. These administrative measures are based on
unverifiable information of security services.

It is already this way in the United Kingdom with the so-called
control orders. By means of these control orders the government can take
very far-reaching measures (administrative detention, house judgment,
prohibition for communication with third parties, only lawyers indicated
by the state can act in the purely administrative procedure…) without the
necessity to prove a violation on penal law.

The most far-reaching example is of course the U.S. prison of
Guantanamo. One single command of the president of the U.S. and of the
government of this country mean that about 400 prisoners are stuck in this
prison, some for already five years, without any form of due process, of
(being detained) without charge.

That this is the real strategy behind the EU anti-terror policy is
confirmed by the so-called list of terrorist organizations and
individuals. This list has been drawn up by the EU without any defense by
the concerned and without any right to defend himself.

As a consequence, anyone on the list is deprived of all financial
means to undertake political actions, and that the branding with the label
“terrorist” scares anyone who wants to be in solidarity with the person or

The criminalizing effect therefore not only on Al Qaeda is evident
because there are also liberation movements which for decades have been
struggling against tyranny, oppression or occupation. Movements like the
NPA (New Peoples’ Army) in the Philippines, (and the chief political
consultant of the panel of the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines in peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines, Professor Jose Maria Sison) and the PFLP (Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine) or the Iranian Mujaheddin are on the list.
The struggles of these organizations are legitimate under international
law, but this right to (armed) resistance is now downgraded by the EU to a
criminal act.

4. Complete control of the population and extension of the
secret investigation methods of the police force – and security

In every country of the world, large-scale measures which allow the
checking of the activities of the population are taken.

This happens by massive registering of data (data which by means of
the internet, mail movement, telephone, databank – swift scandal-…are
obtained). The U.S. obliges other countries to pass on details about all
kinds of personal information (e.g. eating habits…) of plane passengers to
the U.S. These massive fact files are digitally verified by means of code
words. Thus, enormous analyses and lists are made about individuals and
organizations, of which majority does nothing else but in a legitimate
manner practice their civil liberties. These analyses are used to
criminalize social protest. In that way the big brother society has become
a fact.

This is done by giving to the judicial service and police force, but
now also more and more to the information – and security services (of
state, of the army) the possibility to use particular control methods
without judicial or parliamentary control: infiltration, letter, telephone
– and mail tap, observation, use of monitoring equipment, house seeking
without democratic control and without opportunity of the touched person
to resist.

There is a worldwide tendency to use these data collected by secret
services, collected within the framework of the security policy of a
state, also in criminal law. This breaks through the borders of the
criminal law seeing that data from security investigations are not
intended for criminal prosecution.

5. From Terrorism to Extremism and Radicalism

The “war against terror” is a conscious strategy of the EU and the
United States against every resistance directed at neo-liberal capitalism.
This is further made evident from the fact that since 2004, in one breath,
“extremism and radicalism” are put in the same category with terrorism.
Naturally, the excessive profits of the multinationals in, for example,
the bank or petroleum sector, are not meant here. The struggle against
extremism is being peddled as a struggle against the fundamentalist and
radical tendencies in the Muslim world and especially among Muslim
migrants in Europe.

But this flag does not cover the entire cargo. Under extremism is
envisioned all individuals and organizations who in one way or another
question the existing society, even environmental activists like
Greenpeace. A striking example of this is the secret list of the police
service in Antwerp (a port city in Belgium with 420.000 residents) which
was exposed in 2005. In the list of “terrorist and extremist”
organizations of the city were more than 200 names of persons and
organizations, 99 percent of whom undertake legal and open social and
political activities. These were migrant organizations, printing presses,
humanitarian organizations, protectors of animal rights, and progressive
lawyers. In this way, under the cover of the fight against terrorism, the
most flagrant violations of the basic rights become “normal” practice.

The existence of such a list means that persons and organizations will
be followed, their privacy violated, their right to free organization and
freedom of speech curtailed. In this way, the understanding of terrorism
is expanded to all forms of protest and resistance in the political, trade
union and social fields.

6. Restrictions on fundamental rights

I’ll give you one very concrete and recent example that indicates how
far fundamental rights are damaged. At the end of September 2006 the
American Senate approved the “Military Commissions Act”. Military
interrogators can now use unorthodox interrogation techniques to enforce
suspects of terror to make “confessions”, such as keeping suspects awake,
keeping them upright in stressful positions, exposing them to heat, water
and cold. Torture, forbidden by international treaties, becomes in that
way legalized. These barbaric methods mean the end of the rule of law.
Universal citizens rights which must protect us against possible
arbitrariness of the state, the army and the police force are lost. The
same “Military Commissions Act” presents further military commissions for
all persons qualified by the president of the U.S. as “Unlawful Enemy
Combatant”. These military commissions are composed only of military
judges, the suspects are only defended by military lawyers or by civil
lawyers that must be screened and must acquire a special admission, they
work with secret information and proves which cannot be communicated by
the lawyer to its costumer, a large number of the indictable offenses can
be sanctioned with the death penalty. Also fundamental Right of the Habeas
Corpus (that nobody can be deprived of freedom without a command of a
judge and without right of objection at a judge) is simply abolished. It
is clear that this legislation means the end of the rule of law.

Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Cheney’s (U.S. vice
president) Halliburton, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed
location to hold tens of thousands of undesirables.

The “war on terror” of the EU infringes on other fields. The framework
decision on the European extradition order has a consequence that within
the EU, extradition also of those politically suspected or convicted
happens almost automatically. A country used to be able to refuse the
extradition of the person in question if he was a citizen of the country,
if he was a political refugee, if it was a political crime, or if there
was threat that the person would be persecuted because of his religion,
nationality or political beliefs. All of these fundamental guarantees,
which were achievements in international law in the 19th century, are,
with one blow, abolished.

Another phenomenon is that the exception laws like the anti-terror
laws lead to exceptional procedures and to strategies to avoid guarantees
of due process. In this way the classic principles of criminal law are
eroded. More and more, there is work on secret documents which the defense
has no right to see. Special judges, special solicitors and even appointed
lawyers (so that the free choice of a lawyer disappears are being

A shift has been established from the repression through criminal law
to the repression via administrative law, where even less guarantees exist
for the defense than in criminal law. A typical, but very terrible example
is the “control orders” in the UK. With one control order, a person can be
subjected for months to all sorts of control regulations (for example,
house arrest, forbidden to exchange letters, telephone and visits from
friends) can happen through a decision of the minister of internal affairs
on the basis of a secret dossier without any judicial review.

This example illustrates a more general tendency in the EU: the
increasingly bigger hold of the executive authority (to the detriment of
the legislative and judicial authority power). The executive authority,
(EU Council of Ministers, EU commission, national governments, police,
info and security services, solicitors) determine more and more which laws
will be passed (they dictate these to the parliaments of the different EU
countries and to the European Parliament) and they decide more and more
practice of the repression. The control orders but also the EU list of the
so-called terrorists are the most typical examples of this. It is very
important that in most of the EU countries, during the last few years,
laws have been made allowing the police, secret and info services of the
country entrance to use extraordinary investigation methods. These
extraordinary investigation methods (tapping, infiltration, surveillance)
are almost without judicial controls and so broad that every individual
that is under suspicion to have the intention to commit a crime, can be
the subject of this.

7. What is still in the Pipeline?

The G8 wants to sharpen the repression in two areas.

First, they want the anti-terror laws in all the countries to be even
more broad so that the “apology” (the justification) of a terrorist act,
will be punishable. This is a very dangerous tendency because this can
lead to suppression of press freedom. Which journalist will now dare give
news about, for example, liberation movement in the Third World if he
himself will risk being accused of being a terrorist?

Secondly, they want that the information that security services
collect by using secret investigation procedures can be used in criminal
cases. The problem here is that this secret information, even during the
court hearing, in large measure, must remain secret, which, naturally,
leads to the giving of secret criminal dossiers and to special judges and
specified lawyers who must guarantee this secrecy.

Increasing Resistance

There is worldwide a growing resistance against this “war on terror”
which has degenerated into war against fundamental rights and especially
to the criminalizing of every political and social movement that dares to
questions the exploitation of capital with the scandalous profits and
enrichment of a fraction of the population.

Jo Stevens, Chairperson of the Orde van Vlaamse Balies, (Order of
Flemish Associations in Belgium), and which represents more than 8,000
lawyers in Belgium, expressed it in his New Year speech as follows:
“Because a gentleman in America has declared the war on terror, we have
become lawyers in the time of war. The rights and freedom that Europe
through the centuries centimeter by centimeter has fought for are now
being reversed. The fundamentalists of prevention and repression threaten
our rule of law more than the religious fundamentalists.”

This standpoint I can adopt wholeheartedly. It is also a call to the
progressive lawyers, together with the broad social and trade union
movement to defend the fundamental rights, especially the right to social


- Stop extra-judicial killings, independent investigation of the
killings, punishment of the responsible persons;

- Campaign for the repeal of the exceptional anti-terrorist laws;

- Oppose any measures which could criminalize mere association with a
political organization, or which involve detention without charge, or
restrictions on freedom of speech, association or publication;

- Defend the democratic freedom of dissent and to resist oppression,
nationally and internationally; respect for the right to oppose tyranny
and state-oppression.


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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, November 12, 2006 0 comments

10 November, 2006

Mahatir -- death sentence on Mr Bush for killing 600,000 Iraqis

Former Malaysia PM Dr Mahatir Muhammad (Mahathir Mohammed, Mahatir Mohammad) has issued a


here (save target/link as) to download the audio in WMA (Microsoft format) 900kB
Right-Click here (save target/link as) to download the audio in mp3 format 800kB
(Thanks to Indymedia for hosting such files!)

War should be made a crime, and any leader that takes his country into war, should be hauled before an international court.
Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.

".. we claim to be civilised, we claim that we want to see the rule of law, we want to see justice done everywhere, we want to inprove the quality of life, et cetera, but, at the same time, we also claim that it is right to kill people in order to ..."

The lunacy of war .. 600,000 people in Iraq have been killed in a bid to save them from Saddam Hussain ...
He calls for an international defence force to fight the threat of war and for anyone who initiates war to be held accountable before an internation court.
The current situation, where the victor of a war gets to control the trial of war criminals, such as with Saddam Hussain, is patently unfair.
"Supposing that Saddam has won the war, and Mr. Bush was in a court where the judges were Saddam's men?  Would Saddam's judges pass a fair judgement on Mr. Bush. Obviously they also going to pass a death sentence on Mr. Bush, for killing so many Iraqis."


Allan Weir a member of the international association of lawyers against nuclear arms says he welcomes Dr. Mahatirs comments. He says New Zealand has made some positives moves, such as not supporting the Iraq war, but he'd also like to see closer links with neighbors like Malaysia.

There seems to be a bit of a hesitancy, I think, to collaborate on initiatives with some of these countries because of our traditional alliance with the United States and with the United Kingdom. So, for example, Malaysia has a wonderful initiative to criminalise nuclear weapons at the international arena. That should be an easy thing for New Zealand to do, but New Zealand hasn't yet joined that initiative at the United Nations.

Anthony Shome, a lecturer from Massey University, who has written about Malay political leadership, says Dr. Mahatir is a very influential politician who dealt successfully with the hotbed of conflict in South-East Asia.

Mahatir is very outspoken ... he is admired .. privatise citizen

He has a sense of humour, balanced, articulate ...

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, November 10, 2006 0 comments

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