...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



The Iraq war wasn't sold to the American people by the use of a non-existent threat of WMD's. It wasn't a result of a discussion of terms and points in which the case for war was made by lying politicians. Those were simply the formal gestures that gave the invasion a gloss of American intent. The Iraq war was legitimized emotionally, and the emotions of the American majority are the property of CNN FOX and MSNBC. Those networks are in turn the property of men and groups of men whose interests were and are being served by the invasion and occupation and castration of Iraq.
Attaching significance to the politicians who spoke the lies, past a certain point, is complicity. It's why they're there, to take the accusations and, if necessary, fade. It's important to hold them to account for the things they've done and said, but it's vital to keep in mind that where they said it is now a part of the game. If Bush had made his case in the newspapers and magazines alone, even if he'd used his time on television to make it, without the networks it wouldn't have happened. That's who lied to the American people.
So when the networks are unanimously stressing the importance of the death and election of the Pope you can bet it's more of the same. Intentional excitement - the people look to the networks to tell them what's important, and what to feel about what's important.
The power of the Catholic Church in Latin America is much greater than it is in Europe, now. And Latin America is getting hot.


I had a vision once, it was mountains all cold rocks and no trees, and a little path that dwindled even smaller, and a pass that was like a cleft, narrow, just enough room for the two men standing on either side and the hoop they held between them.
The hoop was a perfect circle and the color of the rainbow, a shimmering spectrum, it was alive and sort of spinning, though not in their hands which were steady, and they were calm and physically strong, like athletes, at rest but full of energy.
Stretching out down and away along the path up the mountain were all the people in the world. And each one had to go through that hoop individually to get to the other side. In the vision the other side wasn't the afterlife - it wasn't about death, it was about the future, about tomorrow, about going on.
There's a lot of talk about "moral relativism" and at the same time a lot of excusing of the past behaviors of men like Ratzinger, and it's coming from people who think of themselves as more or less at the center of things, normal, they're speaking from the heart of the big middle of being human.
What the vision seemed to be saying is that everyone who passed through would have that in common, and everyone who didn't would be gone.
Events that require cowardice and complicity in order to ensure survival create populations whose norms will eventually become complicitous and cowardly. It moves in such tiny increments it doesn't seem to move at all. But it does.
That makes the illusion - that it never changes - easier to maintain. And maintaining that illusion is a vital part of changing the human median. Because no one will worry about something happening they think can't.


We were there and we are in a position to testify
AMY GOODMAN: They say the soldiers used hand and arm signals, flashed white lights and fired warning shots to get the driver to stop.

GIULIANA SGRENA: No, they didn't. No, no. No light, no air fire, nothing at all. They were beside the road. They were not on the street. They were away ten meters, and they didn't give us any sign that they were there, so we didn't saw them before they started to shoot.

AMY GOODMAN: Did they shoot from the front or from the back?

GIULIANA SGRENA: No, on the back, not on the front. They shot on the back, because Calipari was on the back on the right and he was shot dead immediately, and I was injured on my shoulder, but I was shot by the back. So I am a proof that they were shooting on the back and not in front of the car. We can see by my injured where I was shot.
I was there when they called. They called the Italian, because there is an official that is linked to the Americans. And this Italian general spoke to the Captain Green, that is the American one, telling him that we were on this road and that they were aware that we were on that road. And this happened at least 20-25 minutes before the shooting.
I was looking around to see what the people were thinking about. And overall, I was interested in Fallujah. But when I went to interview some people from Fallujah, I was kidnapped. Some people were not interested in my story about Fallujah, I think.
I was very happy to be free. But I was happy only for 20 minutes, and then it's finished. And now I am very sad. I am very painful, I am very tired. I am very...
Giuliana Sgrena/DemocracyNow! 27.Apr.05

Press Availability

In what is unlikely to stem the controversy surrounding disgraced White House correspondent James Guckert, the Secret Service has furnished logs of the writer's access to the White House after requests by two Democratic congressmembers.
The documents, obtained by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal Guckert had remarkable access to the White House.
Democrats have sought to paint Guckert in the context of other efforts by the Administration to "plant" positive spin by paying for video news releases and columnists to espouse their views.
Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass.
Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.
Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings.
12/6/04 12:37 - 1:59 (1:03-1:36)
12/8 12:07 - 1:41 (1:05-1:39)
12/10 12:32 - 1:51 (1:06-1:32)
12/13 12:18 - 1:36 (12:50-1:18)
12/14 12:46 - 1:53 (12:48-1:23)
12/17 12:16 - 1:48 (12:47-1:14)
12/20 10:05 - 11:49 (Bush press conference, 10:32-11:25)
12/21 12:00 - 2:04 (12:35-1:10)
12/22 12:04 - 1:08 (no briefing)
12/23 12:31 - 1:26 (no briefing)

John Byrne| RAW STORY 24.Apr.05

Not exactly a popular script
There may be endless speculation over the circumstances surrounding the death of Nicola Calipari. But there are two things the case has accomplished.
1) The Berlusconi government is now toeing the Bush line: there will be no negotiations to liberate any possible future Italian hostage.
2) For any independent journalists, Iraq is now the ultimate minefield. It's virtually impossible to guarantee the safety of any non-embedded journalist, so that means no independent reporting.
Once the report is officially released, absolving the US military of any wrongdoing, one can expect the matter to end there...
Pepe Escobar/AsiaTimes 28.Apr.05

to determine a way forward
Writing on the front page of the communist daily Il Manifesto, which sent her to Iraq, Sgrena denounced the U.S. conclusions of no-blame as a "slap" for Berlusconi.
Rome prosecutors, who are conducting their own probe, have been waiting for the end of the U.S-Italian probe to inspect the car, which was expected to be flown to Italy later Tuesday aboard an Italian air force plane.
"It's enough to see the car," Sgrena wrote in Il Manifesto. "The front windshield is intact, while the side windows and the one behind are shattered."
Sci-Tech Today 26.Apr.05

Marla Ruzicka was killed in Baghdad while travelling along the Baghdad Airport road.
By a bomb. So there's no need for a probe.
She was killed on the Baghdad Airport road one week after she forced American military commanders to admit they did keep records of Iraqi civilians killed by US forces.
She wrote a letter to the editor of the NYTimes that was printed February 5th:
Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis's comments during a speech in San Diego, remarking that "it's fun to shoot some people," in reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are appalling. At a time when the United States military is trying to win hearts and minds in both countries, and when Iraqis think that American forces are trigger-happy, his words are counterproductive. For our troops who are dying every day, making war sound like a sport is beyond distasteful.

General Mattis was defended by Gen. Michael W. Hagee, who said that "he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war." From living in Afghanistan and Iraq for much of the last three years, assisting noncombatants harmed in the crossfire, I find that General Mattis's comments do not represent what it is like to lose a loved one or a home. For a parent in the United States who lost a brave young son or daughter, his words are far from comforting.

I have worked with many of our servicemen who have helped me assist innocent civilians injured accidentally by American forces. It is not fair that their acts of kindness and care are misrepresented by General Mattis's undignified remarks.


We don't care.

"If you can't shut people up, and you really don't want their voices heard, then all you can do is try to persuade others not to listen to them or give them a platform. The easiest way to do this is to falsely accuse them of racism or Communism, or some other character flaw unacceptable to polite society."

Juan Cole/Informed Consent/commondreams 26.Apr.05


Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development

The natural horror at blood, and it may be the consequent dislike of red, is common among mankind; but I have seen a well-dressed child of about four years old poking its finger with a pleased innocent look into the bleeding carcase of a sheep hung up in a butcher's shop, while its nurse was inside. The subject of character deserves more statistical investigation than it has yet received, and none have a better chance of doing it well than schoolmasters; their opportunities are indeed most enviable. It would be necessary to approach the subject wholly without prejudice, as a pure matter of observation, just as if the children were the fauna and flora of hitherto undescribed species in an entirely new land.


Criminality, though not very various in its development, is extremely complex in its origin; nevertheless certain general conclusions are arrived at by the best writers on the subject, among whom Prosper Despine is one of the most instructive.
The ideal criminal has marked peculiarities of character: his conscience is almost deficient, his instincts are vicious, his power of self-control is very weak, and he usually detests continuous labour. The absence of self-control is due to ungovernable temper, to passion, or to mere imbecility, and the conditions that determine the particular description of crime are the, character of the instincts and of the temptation.
The deficiency of conscience in criminals, as shown by the absence of genuine remorse for their guilt, astonishes all who first become familiar with the details of prison life. Scenes of heartrending despair are hardly ever witnessed among prisoners; their sleep is broken by no uneasy dreams - on the contrary, it is easy and sound; they have also excellent appetites. But hypocrisy is a very common vice; and all my information agrees as to the utter untruthfulness of criminals, however plausible their statements may be.
We must guard ourselves against looking upon vicious instincts as perversions, inasmuch as they may be strictly in accordance with the healthy nature of the man, and, being transmissible by inheritance, may become the normal characteristics of a healthy race, just as the sheep-dog, the retriever, the pointer, and the bull-dog, have their several instincts.
There can be no greater popular error than the supposition that natural instinct is a perfectly trustworthy guide, for there are striking contradictions to such an opinion in individuals of every description of animal. The most that we are entitled to say in any case is, that the prevalent instincts of each race are trustworthy, not those of every individual. But even this is saying too much, because when the conditions under which the race is living have recently been changed, some instincts which were adapted to the old state of things are sure to be fallacious guides to conduct in the new one.
A man who is counted as an atrocious criminal in England, and is punished as such by English law in social self-defence, may nevertheless have acted in strict accordance with instincts that are laudable in less civilised societies.
The ideal criminal is, unhappily for him, deficient in qualities that are capable of restraining his unkindly or inconvenient instincts; he has neither sympathy for others nor the sense of duty, both of which lie at the base of conscience; nor has he sufficient self-control to accommodate himself to the society in which he has to live, and so to promote his own selfish interests in the long-run.
He cannot be preserved from criminal misadventure, either by altruistic sentiments or by intelligently egoistic ones. The perpetuation of the criminal class by heredity is a question difficult to grapple with on many accounts. Their vagrant habits, their illegitimate unions, and extreme untruthfulness, are among the difficulties of the investigation.
It is, however, easy to show that the criminal nature tends to be inherited; while, on the other hand, it is impossible that women who spend a large portion of the best years of their life in prison can contribute many children to the population.
The true state of the case appears to be that the criminal population receives steady accessions from those who, without having strongly-marked criminal natures, do nevertheless belong to a type of humanity that is exceedingly ill suited to play a respectable part in our modern civilisation, though it is well suited to flourish under half-savage conditions, being naturally both healthy and prolific.
These persons are apt to go to the bad; their daughters consort with criminals and become the parents of criminals.
An extraordinary example of this is afforded by the history of the infamous Jukes family in America, whose pedigree has been made out, with extraordinary care, during no less than seven generations, and is the subject of an elaborate memoir printed in the Thirty-first Annual Report of the Prison Association of New York, 1876. It includes no less than 540 individuals of Jukes blood, of whom a frightful number degraded into criminality, pauperism, or disease. It is difficult to summarise the results in a few plain figures, but I will state those respecting the fifth generation, through the eldest of the five prolific daughters of the man who is the common ancestor of the race. The total number of these was 123, of whom thirty-eight came through an illegitimate granddaughter, and eighty-five through legitimate grandchildren.
Out of the thirty-eight, sixteen have been in jail, six of them for heinous offences, one of these having been committed no less than nine times; eleven others led openly disreputable lives or were paupers; four were notoriously intemperate; the history of three had not been traced, and only four are known to have done well. The great majority of the women consorted with criminals.
As to the eighty-five legitimate descendants, they were less flagrantly bad, for only five of them had been in jail, and only thirteen others had been paupers.
Now the ancestor of all this mischief, who was born about the year 1730, 15 described as having been a jolly companionable man, a hunter, and a fisher, averse to steady labour, but working hard and idling by turns, and who had numerous illegitimate children, whose issue has not been traced. He was, in fact, a somewhat good specimen of a half-savage, without any seriously criminal instincts.
The girls were apparently attractive, marrying early and sometimes not badly; but the gipsy-like character of the race was unsuited to success in a civilised country. So the descendants went to the bad, and such hereditary moral weaknesses as they may have had, rose to the surface and worked their mischief without check. Cohabiting with criminals, and being extremely prolific, the result was the production of a stock exceeding 500 in number, of a prevalent criminal type.
Through disease and intemperance the breed is now rapidly diminishing; the infant mortality has of late been horrible, but fortunately the women of the present generation bear usually but few children, and many of them are altogether childless.
from Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development 1883
by Francis Galton
Victorian polymath: geographer, meteorologist, tropical explorer, founder of differential psychology, inventor of fingerprint identification, pioneer of statistical correlation and regression, convinced hereditarian, eugenicist, proto-geneticist, half-cousin of Charles Darwin and best-selling author.
text also at Gutenberg ebooks
link path - purse lip square jaw 22.Apr.05
PLSJ is Anne Galloway

See here now

"Call me paranoid, but given all the manipulative tricks the Republicans have gotten up to recently, I am prepared to believe that this has less to do with Homeland security and more to do with keeping the American public ignorant and free of foreign influence and inspiration. An ill-informed, isolated, ignorant populace is a populace easily manipulated. Fed a diet of reality shows coupled with faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and you have a perfect recipe for a country in which the government that can do more or less whatever it wants. Democracy becomes a farce without access to information. And culture - music, theater, dance, etc. - is information for the heart.
These writer reporter guys at this dinner party exchange amazing stories - that the U.S.-installed president of Afghanistan is a well known pederast (he likes young boys), for example... but everyone is loathe to put that in print. I was sort of mystified - why not print it? The explanation seemed to be that it's not unusual over there and it deflects attention from whether or not he's actually doing anything about pulling that country together, which is deemed a more important issue.

Hmmm. I see."
David Byrne/journal 16.Apr.05



as to seem

The police commandos have been supplying suspects who confess their crimes on the TV show, "Terrorism in the Hands of Justice." Described as the Iraqi government's "slick new propaganda tool," the program runs six nights a week on the Iraqiya network, which was set up by the Pentagon and is now run by Australian-based Harris Corp. (a major U.S. government contractor that gave 96 percent of its political funding, more than $260,000, to Republicans in 2004). According to the Boston Globe, camera crews are sent "wherever police commandos make a lot of arrests."

The show features an unseen interrogator haranguing alleged insurgents for confessions. Virtually every press account notes that the suspects appear to have been beaten or tortured, their faces bruised and swollen. The London Guardian states "some have. robotic manners of those beaten and coached by police interrogators off-camera." The Boston Globe observed, "The neat confessions of terrorist attacks at times fit together so seamlessly as to seem implausible." And then there's the nature of the confessions. Many suspects admit to "drunkeness, gay orgies and pornography," according to the Guardian. The Financial Times reported that, "One long-bearded preacher known as Abu Tabarek recently confessed that guerrillas had usually held orgies in his mosques." Another preacher giving a confession says he was fired for "having sex with men in the mosque," the Globe account stated that suspects "frequently admit to rape and pedophilia."

A.K. Gupta/NYCIndymedia/commondreams 22.Apr.05

Sandy Allman (59), who also lives near Las Vegas, said she recognised her finger on television...

the information is classified

The NCTC is not exactly there to undermine the White House. On the contrary. It operates under the "direction and control" of the new director of central intelligence, Porter Goss, an extremely close Bush ally. Goss would have something to say about terrorism himself, as he was having breakfast on the morning of September 11, 2001, with Mahmud Ahmad, then director of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence, and the author of a wire transfer to one of the September 11 masterminds.
Pepe Escobar/AsiaTimes 23.Apr.05

From bacteria and yeast...
"Cardinal [Pope Benedict XVI] Ratzinger is an ape. He is driven by oh-so-typical ape motivations, the desire for dominance, the need to control the reproductive behavior of other members of his clan, the back-and-forth of social feedback. His brain contains circuits of reward and punishment we can find in rats. His neurotransmitters and the signaling cascades that modulate his neuronal activity are present in worms. The ion channels that mediate transmembrane potentials are inherited from single-celled eukaryotes. The machinery of his cells can be mapped back billions of years. I suspect that troop of primates dwelling in the Vatican could learn a great deal from the objective eye of a primatologist.

Who has the more sophisticated understanding of human nature: the man who thinks he can squeeze our history into a span of a few thousand years and the isolated vision of a single species and worse, the limited traditions of a single culture, or the one who aspires to comprehend the full breadth and depth of our place in the universe?"
PZMyers/Pharyngula 20.Apr.05
This is a good beginning for a big disgorge on Ratzinger, the papal election and things generally, that's backed up in the alimentary and making me feel a little queasy.
Not now, but above, soon.
Only to say here and now that maybe Myers isn't seeing all of what's there, because it's more comforting to see Ratzinger/Benedict as unaware of his primate nature; it makes him seem less capable and blunts the threat of his dominant posturing.
But maybe Myers doesn't go back far enough in his reminding, maybe Ratzinger/Benedict is not just an ape, maybe he's moving through a big buzzing hive, wings folded like a minor queen, glistening with the grooming attention of the drones; maybe there's something insectile going on here - and maybe that's way more scary and far less familiar than mammalian intimidation display.
Myers' scale of values and attainment puts the pragmatic realists ahead of the delusional fantasists, with their "spiritual" mumbo-jumbo - but what if that mumbo-jumbo's just cohesive noise, camoflage and diversion?
What if what's coming next isn't predictable based on a template we already have? What if Ratzinger/Benedict is delivering the mass of his congregation and the wealth of his institution to a new creature whose roots are in what we term lies, but in reality isn't dishonesty but camoflage?
Camoflage is not a biological sin, lying is not a biological sin - the only biological sin is extinction. One of the most effective augmentations for camoflage is the confidence the observer has in what he seems to be seeing.


Iraqi Policetophoto: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP

A week before she was killed [...] humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka forced military commanders to admit they did keep records of Iraqi civilians killed by US forces.


there was nothing but stones...

"We have a new Pope!"
voiceover on FOXNews television 17:55 19.Apr.05

During the trial, Bushmen witnesses have given graphic accounts to the court of how they were forced off their land.
Losolobe Mogetse explained how he had argued with an official who came to evict him and was told he could not visit his dying father, Mogetse, who was already in a relocation camp, unless he agreed to relocate there permanently. He said he had no choice but to leave his land if he wished to see his father again.
Motsoko Ramafoko described the government's tactics to divide families."First they took our wives, loaded them in the trucks and off they went to New Xade. Then they came for us men... and forcefully removed us against our will." Tshokodiso Botshilwane described how he watched helplessly as officials dismantled his huts, but refused to leave the reserve, sleeping instead under a tree for many days. He declared, "I prefer death to relocation."
Mongwegi Thobogelo told the court that she would never apply for a permit to enter the reserve as it was the place of her birth.
"It was declared a reserve while we already lived there," she said. She recounted how Bushmen returning to their land have been harassed by government officials, and arrested for entering the reserve without a permit.

To escape deteriorating conditions in the relocation camps where prostitution, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS have all now taken hold, many Bushmen are returning to their lands in the reserve despite intimidation by game scouts and lack of water. One family returning home in November was denied water by game scouts when they broke down near the reserve entrance, and were forced to wait three days without water until they were rescued. People in the reserve are surviving by drinking water from wild tsama melons and pans (shallow depressions) where water occasionally collects, after their water borehole was destroyed by the government during the eviction.

You Can Help


God Save Her

insignificant at best and more likely "part of a scam."

A con in a federal max security pen "in Florence, Colo.", doing time with Terry Nichols who's doing consecutive lifes for the 19.Apr.95 bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla. for which Timothy McVeigh was executed, whose father - the con, Gregory Scarpa Jr.'s father - "the late Gregory Scarpa, was an FBI informant whom senior officials allowed to keep working with the bureau in the 1990s even though they suspected him of murder" through notes passed to him - to the con Gregory Scarpa Jr. - by Terry Nichols, and subsequently passing that information on to his - the con Gregory Scarpa Jr.'s - acquaintance, "Stephen Dresch, a Michigan man who is Scarpa's informal advocate" who subsequently informed the FBI - Dresch did, or somehow the information was eventually gotten to the FBI in early March of 2005 - that Nichols had left behind, in a house where he had been living during the time leading up to his arrest - left behind "explosives" "a bomb on US soil" "under two rock piles" in the crawl space under his home where he was living when the Murrah building was bombed, and where he was arrested, to later be charged and convicted of "161 state murder charges" and thus sentenced to consecutive lifes and thus sharing penitentiary space with Gregory Scarpa Jr. a man who testified publicly in 1998 that he was an informant for the FBI, and to whom Nichols thought it reasonable to convey the information that under his home, from which he was arrested later to be charged and convicted of "161 state murders" in the Alfred Murrah Federal Building bombing case, there were "two rock piles" under one of which there were "explosives" "a bomb on US soil".
Nichols goes down on a beef pertaining directly to the largest body count from an act of terrorism on US soil since the War of Independence before September 11, 2001, and the FBI or the ATF or whoever and whatever misses completely the presence of "explosives" "a bomb on US soil" under a "rock pile" under the house of the only other conspirator besides McVeigh to be charged.
Ten years later "explosives" "a bomb on US soil" is/are still there, under the rock pile, under the house. And this information was passed to Scarpa Jr, in "notes", specifying "rock piles" specifying "under the house". By Nichols. In the penitentiary.
Scarpa Jr. himself, in addition to having a father who was a paid Federal rat, "testified [in 1998] he spied for the FBI on four suspects in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, including convicted mastermind Ramzi Yousef, while they were jailed together in Manhattan".
Dresch, the self-described "informal advocate" for Scarpa Jr., is "a Michigan economist, principal owner of Forensic Intelligence International and former state lawmaker".

news item: Mark Sherman/AP/Yahoo News 14.Apr.05

"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing
with them in an intelligent fashion,
they try to hide their facts from the American public"


Two sad stories and an ugly one with a lot of sadness around it.
The things I miss by not reading metafilter and electrolite!
But then, the time I'd spend in those pursuits is occupied just the same; and with what, you wonder?
Speculations like these.
The executed killer in Chris Clarke's story may have taken the lives of thirty or more young women. If it was close to a hundred Clarke would have said a hundred in the piece. His story picks the killer's life up in 1981, as it intersects his.
Twenty-five years ago, more or less. Say the executed killer had taken the lives of a hundred young women, or say a thousand. Say he'd never been caught. Twenty-five years makes it forty a year. An appalling statistic.
Between forty-five and fifty thousand people die every year in the US in traffic "accidents". So in twenty-five years the street/highway body count's at one to one-and-a-quarter million souls cut loose and gone into the afterlife.
That doesn't bother people nearly as much as thirty or forty young women killed by one man. So we need to look at what the primary differences are, to understand why the one, while so much smaller in magnitude, is so much worse in malfeasance than the other; to see if that's an appropriate distinction, or a symptom of a deeper illness.
Is it the youth of the victims? Probably a little - certainly people would be angry and revulsed if the executed killer had been taking the lives of men over 90 - but just as certainly they wouldn't be quite as horrified at the idea.
Yet we see from the statistics of the National Transportation and Safety Board that traffic "accidents" are the single largest killer of people under thirty in the US today. Now that we've eradicated most of the really pernicious childhood diseases.
Is it the randomness of the victims? It's safe to say that most traffic "accident" mortalities are random, in the sense that while the causative drivers may be unfit for some reason, the "collateral damage" - the victims, the passengers and other drivers - often have no other fault than being where they were when the "accident" took place.
One of the first excitements that these statements generate is the blood-lust for "drunken drivers" that's been the only real reaction of the American people to these statistics, with the result that, coupled with the blindness to the scale of death the automobile is responsible for, most people have a vague and unfounded sense that most traffic "accidents" are a result of drunk driving.
That isn't borne out by the statistics, even when any measurable amount of blood-alcohol in any involved drivers means that particular "accident" will be termed "alcohol-related", whether or not the consumption of alcohol had anything to do with its cause. And we'll set aside for now the historical context for that distinction - people having been using alcohol for millennia, and driving cars for less than a hundred years.
So youth and randomness, while clearly being the cause of much of the outrage at the executed killer's toll on society, somehow don't make the bridge. Cars are not only not seen as murderous and deadly, they're the single largest industry in the US, the backbone of the economy, and with the oil industry as partner they are the economy. So there's that.
The one difference that's clear here is "intent". The law makes this distinction, making manslaughter a lesser crime than homicide. And people do as well.
So it isn't the outcome, the what - it's the why. Why is important, as far as justice goes, it's the single most important factor. And that's where all this breaks down as rational moral response and begins its fade into religion. Especially Judeo-Christian religion, with its emphases on intention and rules, and the corollaries that unintended consequences are not as serious as intended ones, and that actions not covered by the existing rules aren't wrong; conscious choice contrasted with unintended, unchosen outcomes. So that a mistake that results in the deaths of hundreds of people is not nearly as horrifying as an intended act that has the same results. Why?
Why are we willing to accept the random harvesting of innocent people on the highway, on a daily weekly monthly and yearly basis, simply because no one intends it? Because that's really the only difference, unless we have to accept the use of the internal combustion engine and the automobile as an inevitable thing, something we have to be doing, a step toward an as yet unnamed goal - and this mortality, the randomness of it, and the absolutely non-evolutionary selection of it, is like a tax, the price we have to pay to get there.
But then if we're going to look at this honestly, we have to bring in the costs we pay in addition to lives lost in traffic - the poisoned atmosphere of the places we live, the unsafe streets any bicyclist will testify to, and the disruption of the weather cycles whose balance we've depended on, and adapted to, for our entire history.
And the wars currently being waged on behalf of oil, and those planned for the months and years ahead.
It requires a mindlessness, an intentional blindness, to cope with, or an active submission to whatever would and is arranging human progress to go in this direction.
And again that fades into religion, especially Judeo-Christian religion. God is doing it. God has a plan, and wants only our obedience to that plan.
God wants us to drive cars, wants us to burn oil, wants us to destroy the web of life everywhere we find it, wants us to sacrifice our children for the ease and power of roaring engines and tons of steel that fly whole families across the land wrapped in armor and sitting down.
It seems unlikely to me, that a loving and wise God would want that, and it fits neatly into the traditional imagery of the devil - as a life-hating cunning bargainer who trades on individual selfish desires, and provides insidious and unexpected forms of damnation in return.

Remarks on the Appointment of James Wolfensohn as Special
Envoy for Gaza Disengagement
Secretary [of State Condoleeza] Rice: "Good morning. Nearly three years ago, the members of the Quartet agreed to a roadmap for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. From the London conference in February to President Bush's meeting with Prime Minister Sharon this week, we have all worked to realize the vision of the roadmap: two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
Today we take another important step to realize that vision. On behalf of all the members of the Quartet, I am announcing the appointment of a Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. We have an opportunity right now to help Israelis and Palestinians build trust with one another and achieve the peace and security they both desire. President Bush is determined to seize the opportunity to help both sides reach their goal.
The parties have shown good faith and political courage in recent months, but the obstacles before them remain substantial. Working for the cause of peace is the vital interest and moral duty of every free nation. Therefore, the United States, together with the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation -- the Quartet -- are committed to making the difference for peace.
UN Secretary General Annan, EU High Representative Solana, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and I all agree that we must seize the moment and secure the very best person available for this critical mission of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. That is why we have agreed on one of the world's most skilled, experienced and dedicated public servants, Mr. James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank."
U.S. Dept of State press release 14.Apr.05
Mr. Wolfensohn is, as Sec. Rice mentioned, the current head of the World Bank, where he earned some hopeful respect from the Palestinians with statements like this, in May of 2004:
"Israel's military operations pertaining to the demolitions of thousands of homes in Rafah are reckless, and leave tens of thousands of people without a roof over their heads". Wolfensohn added that "As a Jew, I am ashamed of this kind of treatment of people".

Mr Wolfensohn also implied that as a result of the invasion of Rafah, Israel could expect little sympathy if it seeks to raise funds from international economic institutions to boost the country's ailing economy. "Israel's behavior is reckless," he said. "Approval for any Israeli request for assistance should not be expected."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rebuffed a request from President Bush on Tuesday that he consider abandoning the construction of a fence separating Israeli and Palestinian territory on the West Bank.
Two administration officials said Bush pressed Sharon during an Oval Office visit to reconsider the barrier, which the Palestinians oppose.
But Sharon said later he had to press ahead with the fence to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israelis.
the largest prison in the world
Sharon Dismisses Bush Warning
Settlements to increase: Israel
West Bank Construction Forges Ahead

Israel clears officer of killing journalist who had white flag

Israelis decide not to punish soldier who killed British film-maker in Gaza
[April 11] second anniversary of the death of student Tom Hurndall who died while protecting children from gunfire in the Gaza strip.
Since Tom was shot by a rifle with an advanced telescopic lens
, his parents are demanding that the charge be murder, but they are also demanding the eradication of the "culture of impunity" with which the IDF operates in the occupied territories of Palestine.


"The Sexual Abuse of Children
in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston"

  • The investigation of the Office of the Attorney General did not produce evidence of recent or ongoing sexual abuse of children; but it is far too soon to conclude that the abuse has stopped and will not reoccur in the future.
  • The investigation did not produce evidence sufficient to charge the Archdiocese or its senior managers with crimes under applicable state law.
  • The investigation did not produce evidence that the widespread abuse of children was due to an institutional acceptance of abuse and a massive and pervasive failure of leadership.

"I have determined that based on my conclusions and in order to ensure that children will be safe in the future, this report is essential. It is essential to create a public record of what occurred. The mistreatment of children was so massive and prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable. This report will confirm to all who may read it, now and in the future, that this tragedy was real."
Top Archdiocese officials knew the extent of the clergy sexual abuse problem for many years before it became known to the public.

Report On Sexual Abuse Of Children In The Roman Catholic Archdiocese Of Boston

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly 23.Jul.03

Executive Summary (pdf)
Full Report (pdf)
GSview- alternative to Adobe Acrobat pdf reader
from Ghostgum Software


rare exceptions

"The mistreatment of children was so massive and so prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable," said Attorney General Tom Reilly, who blamed church leaders for the scandal. But Reilly said he was hamstrung by state laws that were too weak to allow criminal charges to be filed against the hierarchy.
The report ends a 16-month investigation by Reilly's office and a grand jury session that was convened last summer to consider charging church leaders.
The extent of abuse outlined in the report dwarfs what's been found in other dioceses. The document provides a comprehensive look at what Catholic officials knew, when they knew it and how they covered it up.
Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned last December, "bears the ultimate responsibility for the tragic treatment of children that occurred during his tenure," Reilly said in the 76-page report.
The cardinal was aware of the abuse even before he arrived in Boston as archbishop in 1984, and he and his inner circle were actively informed about complaints against numerous priests. But with only rare exceptions did any of Law's senior assistants advise him to take steps that would put a halt to what became the systematic abuse of children, Reilly said.
"The choice was very clear, between protecting children and protecting the church. They made the wrong choice," he said. "In effect, they sacrificed children for many, many years."

Denise Lavoie/AP/United For Justice 23.Jul.05

Being In Rome

Cardinal Bernard Law waves to the faithful
"It has been extremely overwhelming and at times, frightening. At one point today, we had so many press people surrounding us, pushing us. We found it extremely difficult to pass out our flyers, because of the swarm of media from all over the world. The rumor about us being 'escorted off' was not exactly true. We were actually escorted onto the property. Mostly, the Italian police were trying to keep the press away, because the press are not allowed in St. Peter's. The rumor about being arrested is also not true.
The Basilica was beautiful and breathtaking. But, it was absolutely devastating. It was just so, so sad knowing that at a time when we as survivors were showing our respect for the passing of the Pope, Cardinal Law was the lead celebrant over mass.
Some of the foreign press were asking "Isn't it enough that Cardinal Law apologized and stepped down in Boston? Why won't you leave him alone, and move on?
We tried to stress that it's not about forgiving Cardinal Law, or punishing Cardinal Law. It's about stopping the pain. Far too many victims, their families and other Catholics, are still suffering, largely because of Cardinal Law. His presence is still very, very painful to so many."

Come to meet him, angels of the Lord! photo: Le Nouvel Observateur, Mardi 12 Avril

Barbara Blaine/SNAP 11.Apr.05

"...The second provision requires the state wildlife agency (Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks) to provide receivers capable of receiving signals from the radio-tracking collars to a landowner or their designee, on request. This means livestock producers would have unprecedented access and knowledge of wolves' locations, allowing Montana's wolf packs to easily be wiped out. Just when the state has adopted a reasonable wolf management Plan that would conserve wolves into the future, this bill could devastate wolf populations.
the bill's third provision requires that the only funds that can be spent on the radio collars and receivers are the federal funds designated for wolf management purposes in the state. But estimated costs just to implement the provisions of House Bill 461 in its first year equal the annual cost estimated for wolf management in the state - which means it would bankrupt the wolf management fund, leaving no funds available for the active conservation of the species."
Defenders of Wildlife Wolves (no direct link)
Montana FW&P

Just because it needs saying:
The First Amendment, or the constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech, isn't given to anybody. It's already there. That's the point. It isn't a privilege, it's a right.
It gets taken away, but that's by assholes. Otherwise, if you leave it alone, it's going to be there.
It needs defending from assholes from time to time, and that's what made me write this - one too many times reading some smug apologist for the neo-fascists telling me how soldiers are fighting to secure my Freedom of Speech. The inference being any US soldiers now engaged in combat are defending me against people who want to take away my right to Freedom of Speech. If only they were.
Not that it doesn't happen - but the lines of battle aren't military. We're talking about speech. Soldiers can be and have been called upon to fight those who wish to curtail Freedom of Speech, but they can just as readily be deployed to take it away, and to defend those who take it away.
The front lines of defense for the First Amendment are located precisely where it's being attacked, where speech is being attacked, censored, blocked, denied. Those who defend the right to speak, especially of unpopular speakers saying unpopular things. That's who's defending Freedom of Speech, our right to speak freely. That's who's on the front line in that battle.


War In Heaven


We should remember what is written in Revelation (12:7, etc.) : "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.... And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman", who was "dressed like the sun", from whom Jesus was born (it is very clear that we are also talking about the Most Holy Virgin Mary). When the dragon realized that his efforts had failed, "he went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus."
During a May 24, 1987, visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, John Paul II said, "The battle against the devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel, is still being fought today, because the devil is still alive and active in the world. The evil that surrounds us today, the disorders that plague our society, man's inconsistency and brokenness, are not only the results of original sin, but also the result of Satan's pervasive and dark action."
The last sentence is a clear reference to God's condemnation of the serpent, in Genesis (3:15): "1 will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Is Satan already in hell? When did the battle between angels and devils take place?

Fr Gabriele Amorth told Italy's La Stampa newspaper that the Pope had carried out his first exorcism in 1982.
"This girl was rolling around on the ground. People in the Vatican had never seen anything like it. For us exorcists it is run of the mill," Amorth said.
The Pope has since taken part in two more exorcisms, including that of a 20-year-old woman in September, to underline the importance of the ceremony.
"He carried out these exorcisms because he wanted to give a powerful example. He wanted to give the message that we must once again start exorcising those who are possessed by demons," Amorth said.
"I have seen many strange things...objects such as nails spat out. The devil told a woman that he would make her spit out a transistor radio and lo and behold she started spitting out bits and pieces of a radio transistor," he said.

Catholic News

Modern communications enabled the Pope not only to lead but also to intervene in the affairs of local churches as never before. Archbishop Milingo of Lusaka found himself summoned to Rome and placed under virtual house arrest following complaints by his fellow bishops that his exorcisms contained an element of black magic; he became a permanent embarrassment, contracting a brief marriage to a Moonie in America before returning to obedience.
In Italy, the Pope's two political interventions, attempts to halt an abortion bill and to save the Christian Democrats in the 1994 general election, failed ignominiously. A decision to open the Holy See's accounts to public scrutiny was vitiated by the revelation that the Vatican Bank had lost billions of dollars through its connection with the Freemason Roberto Calvi, who was found hanged beneath Blackfriars Bridge. The refusal to permit the Italian police to question the bank's head, Archbishop Marcinkus, before his return to America did little to reassure the faithful.

Telegraph UK
Pope John Paul II has performed three exorcisms, the ancient rite of casting out demons from the souls of the possessed, during his 23 years in the Vatican, according to one of the Catholic Church's top exorcists. He performed the last one in September.
In that battle, the pope sprinkled holy water and commanded the devil to leave the body of a possessed 20-year-old woman, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth said.
But the devil still lingers within the woman, who hails from Milan, Italy, and has undergone several more exorcisms since the pope tried to banish her demon.
"It's a very serious case," Amorth told La Stampa, a well-respected Italian newspaper. "A series of curses."
The Vatican had no immediate response to Amorth's reported claims, which came a day after the pope warned that the devil was leading Catholics into temptation.
"The devil, the 'prince of this world,' even today continues his insidious actions," the pontiff said in last Sunday's sermon. "Each and every man ... is tempted by the devil when he least expects it."
Amorth said the pope performed his first exorcism in 1982 when he drove a demon from a woman who began thrashing on the ground during a Vatican audience.
"This girl was rolling around on the ground," Amorth said. "People in the Vatican had never seen anything like it. For us exorcists, it is run of the mill."
The pontiff prayed over the girl until she calmed down. "He carried out these exorcisms because he wanted to give a powerful example," Amorth said. "He wanted to give the message that we must once again start exorcising those who are possessed by demons."
Exorcisms are rare, but the archdiocese of New York has one exorcist on staff, spokesman Joe Zwilling said.
Godliness appears no deterrent to a determined demon. Even saintly Mother Teresa reportedly underwent an exorcism after Satan invaded her soul shortly before she died of a heart attack in 1997, the archbishop of Calcutta said.
In the Catholic rite, exorcism starts with a blessing and prayers followed by sprinkling of holy water. Then the priest lays his hands on the possessed, makes the sign of the cross and commands the devil to go.

Columbia Daily Tribune

The image of that tiny Albanian woman being exorcised by gravely serious priests...
We should remember that madness is no great impediment to worldly success. And we should notice whether or not, and how fully the new Pope supports the empire, whose emissaries were photographed gravely, and prominently, kneeling before the old Pope's splendorous catafalque. Although Jimmy Carter wasn't as central to the tableau as Condoleeza Rice and the elder Bush.
The new Pope's likely to be a friend of modern, as well as ancient Israel. He won't have much to say about Iraq, or China either. And he probably won't be all that keen on recognizing the remnants of Liberation Theology, especially in Latin America.
As far as the devil goes - it's odd the way these guys talk about him being "the prince of this world". What does that mean? When they treat possession like it's a virus and accept the wealth of iniquity as their due. Where's Las Vegas in all that?
And oil.
Castle Gandolfo is one of the pope's traditional summer residences. Tolkein was working one of the edges of white magic. But the frame's Biblical. And it's important that things stay inside the frame.
So the aboriginals, the few scattered bands that still survive close to the ground, stay outside the frame. They're the seed corn of the human race, a phrase that means nothing to most people now; but you can't profess to love and care about humanity and ignore that, and you'd expect someone who hates the human race to want them gone.
The obvious outcome of torment, and oppression, as we see in the desperate acts of the "enemies" of "democracy" is hatred, and hatred is so easy to fit into this schema.
Anything that hates us hates the human race, the devil hates the human race, the ones who hate us are the devil.
Palestinian rage is demonic because it's directed at the Chosen People.
Yet there is evil in the world, and horror - a concept I'm putting ahead of terror on the list of things to be against. I want a war on horror.
What makes me suspicious about the Manichaean divide, the black-and-white of moral distinction, is the air that we breathed when I was young was divided that way, between communism and what went by many convenient and relatively stirring terms but was at its heart capitalism. These were the teams on the field, and the fate of the world hung on who would win the game. The Viet Nam war was the last clearly discernible play in that contest, though its outcome, when it was finally over, was anything but clear.
Communism and capitalism were walking by the river, communism fell in; who was left?
It turned out that the same largely invisible group was behind both systems. They were going to win no matter the outcome on the field.
This template is visible in professional sports, where team rivalries are mostly show, performed by professionals whose employment can shift to the opposite team in the space of a year; and the real combat's between the majority of underpaid players and the owners, who make up the highest-paid per capita team in sports - and it takes place in lawyers' offices mostly, on phones and in the bars and restaurants of the economic elite.
Yet there is evil in the world. And horror.
Poppy Brite, Anne Rice, Thomas Harris, Peter Straub, King, lots of others. Writers who've given us glimpses into the absolute dark, what it is mostly is biology, under the fantastic costumes the attachment of the thinking soul to its meat, but out past that we still have these dynamics of loss and gain, spirits of different color and allegiance contesting the larger prize.
And it all keeps coming back to this, here - earth, and the presence of innocence, and its violation. The bloodless crucifixions of Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson are both about that, in more than the obvious ways - it's the thing at the heart of what's wrong - the people's innocent regard of the world, and their rage at anything that threatens, an infantile semi-consciousness made out of linked wires and minds, fussing at its wetness and discomfort, unaware of much but seeing everything, hearing but not understanding, and only able to respond with anger and love, amusement and rejection.
Yet there is horror in the world, and evil.
The same people who wait for the catharsis of Jackson's entrance to prison, or his death, who held their shallow breath while Schiavo's body released the last bits of electro-magnetic coding that was once her personality - are blind to the children of the Middle East who die for them, and for their simple amusement - not directly not visibly, but to feed the dogs that guard them, and the god that sits above the guard towers, watching its dominion grow.
It's that horrible - and that's why it's invisible to the mass that enables it. The horror would paralyze the consumers that drive the machine every day, that keep it running and maintained.
Some of the aptness of the dark imagery of Catholicism in its older iterations was that contained horror, the celebration of suffering making it possible for those who suffered to stay inside the congregation. Because that's what happens with intense suffering, it isolates and amplifies the self.
When I was an altar boy, serving at early morning daily mass in the old-style service, with the rich vestments and the long black robe and the gold and the colors changing with the seasons and the Latin esoteric ritual inside the altar rail - there was a woman who came most days to the side chapel in the mission, and she came to receive communion every day that she came to mass.
She was tall and fashionably thin, very expensively dressed and made-up. She wore elegant jewelry - and as we passed along the line of communicants, the priest and I, him with the chalice full of the white embossed wafers of the body of Christ soaked in the wine of His blood, me with the little round gold paten like a plate it was my duty to place just under the chin of the receivers, without hitting them - best if it didn't quite touch them - to catch the crumbs and spills, I'd catch the scent of her perfume above the cheaper smells of cashmere bouquet and cigarettes and home kitchens.
We came down the line of kneeling souls with their heads bowed and their hands folded forearms resting on the rail; we were working from God's right to left, and one by one their heads would raise as the priest and I stopped before them and he said his prayer of blessing, in Latin, "This is my body...", and their tongues would stick out, some of them abruptly, some of them slowly, some would hardly open their mouths at all, from guilt or shame or embarrassment and feelings of unworth.
I remember the first time, for me, that we stood in front of her - her neck bent in submission, head bowed toward the altar so that her crown and long glamorously wavy hair were all that showed above the green dress she wore that day. And then she raised up her head to receive the communion and I saw how her lower lip was gone completely, below her perfect eyes and perfect nose and perfect cheeks and above her perfect neck, even the upper lip still there, but below it only the exposed flesh that should have been inside her perfect mouth, her teeth were there, of course, and her tongue came out to take the bread that was the body of Christ, and then it was over and we went on down the line dispensing the body and blood of the Son of God, the priest with his knowing and me with my shock, then back to the altar and the rest of the ritual.
Later it became a test of strength, something I was good at then - I believed with what I had to believe with, and I was serving, it was my duty. Neither my mom nor my aunt, who knew a lot about things, would explain it to me. And it wasn't until I was much older, grown up, that I caught that full blow.
Behind her suddenly I could see the well-connected man, jealous, vindictive, cold-hearted and dispassionately cruel. She broke the rules, and she paid for it.
There is evil in the world, and horror; and the problem all the way through, from the tiniest most trivial slip to the Apocalypse - is selfishness.
Aggregated or lone-wolf, subsumed in the needs of the group or the family or the gang or the nation, or autonomous; individual greed raging against the limits of human living or drones, clotted up in a hive of vespic creatures, devoted selflessly to the thing they make together.
Human evil, against the uncaring evil of things. The sea isn't evil, though if a man were as heartless and coldly unforgiving of mistakes we'd say he was.
Stepping outside the bonds of humanity in order to survive, there's where it begins, and that's why the occult has all that blood at the door, the sacrifice of innocence to appetite - it takes the neophyte away from the paths of being human, and delivers a fresh new creature to the dark hive.
There is evil in the world, and horror, and your rational mind won't get you through the contest against them. Your heart may, if it's strong.
Two earlier papal commentaries here
and here


Starbucks Delocator
link Stay Free

Latin America: a vigil of suspense
Americans are so busy keeping up with events in the Middle East that we do not realize how much things have been changing in our own "neighborhood." That would be a grave mistake on our part because - in the long run - the Caribbean and South and Central America are as important to our national interest and even to our winning the War on Terrorism. A Latin America led by Cuba's Castro and Venezuela's Chavez and Brazil's Lula appears ready to plunge that continent back into the mayhem and socialism that made life there so miserable. Given that the three leaders have ties to terrorists or their national sponsors, terrorist groups well could find willing accomplices - the heads of national governments - in our own backyard.
Americans need to become aware that we face a significant threat to our security in our own backyard. Leaders such as Chavez, Castro and Lula have no real concern for human rights but they mean our country ill will. A Lula may be more polished now, presenting himself as a reformer, not a revolutionary. We should not be fooled nor should our nation's policymakers be gulled into complacency about Latin America because we are so concerned about the Middle East. The world's troubles are not just taking place in a distant part of the globe, it's happening in our own backyard, too. It's about time we wake up to that fact.
Paul Weyrich/RenewAmerica 04.Apr.05

Hugo Chavez: Castro's Mini-Me
'One darned thing after another': That's how former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once defined foreign policy. The latest "darned thing" for the United States is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
For no apparent reason, the leftist strongman is arming Venezuela to the teeth. He's also supporting local narcoterrorists and other Latin revolutionaries.
Chavez idolizes Cuba's Fidel Castro, is chummy with Libya's Moammar Khadafy and was a Saddam Hussein pal. He's made nasty remarks about President Bush and "suggestive" public comments about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
According to Gerver Torres, a former Venezuelan government minister, Chavez's "main motivation now is to do everything he possibly can to negatively affect the United States, Bush in particular . . . trying to bring together all the enemies of the United States."
It's tempting to write off Chavez simply as Latin America's latest tin-pot dictator, but that would be a mistake. Venezuela's own "Fidelito" has the potential to cause real trouble for the United States - right in our own backyard.
Many Americans will find it hard to take Chavez seriously, but his capacity for regional troublemaking shouldn't be discounted, especially as oil prices rocket.
Fortunately, the Bush administration recognizes this and is beginning to craft a new policy to deal with Chavez. The best approach will include working with other regional leaders to contain and isolate him, while not inflaming the dictator's popular support at home.
Chavez recently announced his intent to export his "Bolivarian revolution" (read: Cuban revolution). Considering his disastrous socialist economic and repressive political record at home, we'd better stop him before he gets started.
Peter Brookes/Heritage Foundation/Cubanet 05.Apr.05


"If we in the US government are honest with ourselves, we can look at the region today and see that we are not tending the fields with the same zeal we showed in planting the seeds of democracy. Too many of the democracies in our AOR are lacking some or all of the vital democratic institutions: a functional legislative body, an independent judiciary, a free press, a transparent electoral process that guarantees the rights of the people, security forces which are subordinate to civil authority and economic opportunity for the people.
Because a secure environment is a non-negotiable foundation for a functioning civil society, Southern Command is committed to building capabilities of the security forces of our region. The seeds of social and economic progress will only grow and flourish in the fertile soil of security.
We cannot afford to let Latin America and the Caribbean become a backwater of violent, inward-looking states that are cut off from the world around them by populist, authoritarian governments. We must reward and help those governments that are making difficult, disciplined choices that result in the long-term wellbeing of their people. The challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean today are significant to our national security. We ignore them at our peril."


Center for International Policy 09.Mar.05

Colombia's FARC spreads in Central America

Marxist guerrillas in Colombia have established cells in Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama in what U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement authorities say is an effort by the rebel organization to expand its arms- and drug-trafficking operations.
Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez confirmed the presence of members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the three Central American countries last week, saying the organization was seeking to "infiltrate Central America to buy more weapons and destabilize the rule of law ...."

Jerry Seper/Washington Times 26.Mar.05

According to General Hill, the "narcoterrorists in Colombia remain the largest and most well known threat in our region." However, Hill fails to support this claim that narcoterrorists pose such a direct security threat to the U.S.
In fact, the term narcoterrorist, while full of threatening implications, is rarely clearly defined by the U.S. government and its military agencies.
At his confirmation hearing, Lieutenant General Craddock did attempt to define the highly dubious concept: "the terms insurgents or guerrillas are less applicable today than in the past. I believe the term narcoterrorists is more appropriate, given the fact that the center of gravity for these groups is the incredible financial support they get from illicit drug trafficking."
The lack of clarity in Craddock's explanation inadvertently reveals how SouthCom arbitrarily reclassified the country's leftist armed political opposition, denominated as guerrillas during the Cold War and drug traffickers in the 1990s, as a blanket terrorist threat.
In an attempt to link the situation in Colombia to Washington's global mission, Craddock explained, "supporting the government of Colombia's efforts to defeat illicit narco-trafficking also directly supports the global War on Terror."
This assertion is a convenient attempt to validate this new allusion without any supporting evidence. The government's arbitrary use of inflamatory language and its efforts to rationalize Washington's allocation of $1.5 billion for Plan Colombia have failed to overcome its disappointing achievements in the War on Terror as Colombia had played no part in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Eleanor Thomas and Lindsay Thomas/Council on Hemispheric Affairs 02.Sep.04

US State Department Releases Critical Report
on Venezuela's Human Rights

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Kozak released the State Department's report Supporting Democracy and Human Rights: The US Record 2004-2005, yesterday. The report contains strong criticisms of Venezuela's human rights record and U.S. strategies towards Venezuela. While presenting the report Kozak said that Venezuela was "backsliding" with regard to human rights. Responding to the report, Venezuela's Vice-President Josr Vicente Rangel, argued that the report was "obsessive and without foundation."
The State Department report details the US government's strategy in "supporting democratic movements in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
According to the report, Venezuela's human rights record continues to be poor. In 2004-2005 "freedom-loving" Venezuelan citizens were forced to confront the "government's increasingly authoritarian rule." "Over the past six years," the report says, "Chavez increasingly has consolidated power within the executive branch, extending its control over the country's other branches of government." Recent laws passed by the National Assembly-in which pro-Chavez legislators have a slim majority-reforming the Supreme Court, legislating social responsibility in the public and private Media, and reforming of the country's Penal Code were responsible for what the report identifies as a general deterioration in human rights in 2004. Allegations of police and military executions and torture-no examples are given-are also cited as justification for US involvement in the country.
The report makes no reference to documents recently obtained by, a website dedicated to monitoring US intervention in Venezuela, that reveal that the CIA had advance notice of the 2002 April coup that briefly removed President Chavez from power. Though the CIA distributed a report on the expected coup to 200 high-level US officials, they made no effort to warn the Venezuelan government. In its only reference to the coup, the report perhaps over-cautiously refers to it as a "brief interruption of the constitutional order." 29.Mar.05

La evidencia esta en los Documentos:
La CIA estuvo involucrada en el golpe de estado contra el presidente Chavez.

El reciente asesinato del fiscal venezolano Danilo Anderson, cuya ejecucion recuerda mucho los metodos de la CIA, podria estar preparando el terreno para futuros asesinatos politicos. La historia nos muestra que cuando la CIA fracasa en sus intentos no letales de derrocar un regimen, toma medidas mas desesperadas. A pesar de que el gobierno venezolano y sus partidarios han podido vencer a la CIA varias veces durante los ultimos anos, debe ser prioritario aumentar el nivel de vigilancia, seguridad e inteligencia.

Eva Golinger/


Google search for "Miriam R'aban"
Google News search for Miriam R'aban


Speech On International Women's Day

"Thank you for inviting me to this day.

It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you.
However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women.
And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R'aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family's strawberry field.
No one will ever stand trial for this murder.
When I asked the people who invited me here why wouldn't they invite a Palestinian woman the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.
I don't know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.
It is true unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe. In fact state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot.
It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.
This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb."

Nurit Peled-Elhanan/Z-Net 27.Mar.05

Nurit Peled-Elhanan:

A Jerusalem Mother's Statement
The Dominion of Death
A Speech to Women in Black
Mrs. Peled-Elhanan's only daughter, Smadari, was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in September 1997, two weeks before her 14th birthday.
Peace and War (pdf)
dedicated to Smadar Elhanan by her father, Rami Elhanan, a seventh-generation Jerusalemite who served in the Israeli Army during the War over the Suez Canal.

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