Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conyers Introduces Contempt Resolution, Call for Lawsuit against White House

As expected, things are finally moving forward in the House today to bring contempt resolutions against White House officials for ignoring Congressional subpoenas as part of the U.S. attorney firings investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) introduced two resolutions this afternoon related to the subpoenas. The first is a criminal contempt resolution against White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers -- both were subpoenaed and did not respond, citing the White House's invocation of executive privilege. But Conyers also filed a resolution that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) file a civil suit against the White House...

~ Full post ~

 

General Strike Halts Greek Services

Thousands of demonstrators marched through Athens and Thessaloniki on Wednesday to protest government social security reforms as a Greek general strike shut down schools, hospitals and all public services.

Port workers and air traffic controllers joined the second 24-hour general strike in about two months, forcing authorities to cancel all flights to and from Greek airports, and all regular ferry routes to the islands.

Buses, trains and the Athens metro were running only for a few hours during the day. Dentists, lawyers, construction workers and civil servants also walked off the job. Journalists went on strike, canceling all news bulletins and current affairs programs for the day.

Greece's two main labor unions called the general strike to protest the conservative government's efforts to reform Greece's debt-ridden and fractured pension system. Unions claim the reforms will lead to lower pensions and higher retirement ages.

A police helicopter flew overhead as tens of thousands of strikers marched in frigid weather through central Athens, carrying banners reading "hands off our pension funds" and "the future belongs to the workers." Shopkeepers along the protest route shut down their stores.

A minor scuffle broke out when a small group of demonstrators threw rocks at riot police, authorities said. Police did not have a clear crowd estimate, but the demonstration was smaller than that held during the last general strike, in mid-December, when clashes between youths and riot police had caused several injuries.

More than 9,000 people also marched through the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Greece has roughly 170 separate pension funds, which collectively face estimated future deficits of between $165 billion and $550 billion* — sums that are expected to affect the budget within a decade...

~ Link ~

*Not mentioned in the AP report is that the pension funds shrank considerably when significant assets were lost in the stock market scandal of the late 1990s.

 

U.S. scrambled jets as Russian bomber neared carrier

A Russian bomber made a low-altitude pass over a U.S. carrier battle group that was conducting exercises in international waters near Japan last weekend, an incident reminiscent of the Cold War, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

Pentagon officials said that the Tupolev 95 bomber — the world's only propeller-driven strategic bomber — flew within 2,000 feet of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. The Navy scrambled four F-18 fighters to escort the Russian aircraft away.

Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of Naval Operations, said he didn't consider the incident "provocative," noting that the bomber made no effort to vary its path as it approached the carrier.

But he acknowledged that even during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union regularly attempted to rattle each other with such passes, Russian aircraft rarely flew so close to American warships.

Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Pentagon was weighing "the implications of this return to a Cold War mind-set."

Roughead said the Russians were signaling that their once-inert military "is emerging" as a global force.

Over the weekend, Japan also scrambled fighter jets and accused Russia of violating its airspace around the Izu island chain, several hundred miles south of Tokyo.

There have been numerous incidents of Russian planes testing Japanese air defenses, but Russia's willingness to disrupt a U.S. training exercise was surprising, officials said...

~ Full article ~

 

Darfur: Aerial Bombings and Attacks Lead Thousands of Civilians to Flee to Chad

From February 8-10, the Sudanese army, assisted by militias, launched a large offensive in northwest Darfur. This military offensive, one of the most violent over the past few years, resulted in an immediate population displacement and the forced interruption of all medical activities in Seleia, where Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had been running a health center since 2006.

The MSF team present in neighboring Chad has confirmed that at least 7,000 new refugees, including Sudanese MSF staff, reached the area of Birak in Chad after fleeing the Darfur towns of Abu Suruj, Sirba, and Seleia, which are now emptied of their populations. This is only a fraction of the civilians directly affected by the offensive, which are estimated at approximately 50,000 people.

According to the refugees, the attacks began on February 8, with aerial bombardment by military planes and attack helicopters. Testimonies of refugees tell the horror of the violence they faced: “We saw the soldiers surrounding our town before they started looting our houses, setting them afire,” said one inhabitant of Seleia who arrived in Birak region.

The MSF team compound was attacked and looted, despite the fact that many women and children had sought refuge in the medical structure. Furthermore, the displaced population reported being further attacked, threatened, and looted by roaming militias while en route to Chad during the night.

The refugees in Chad have gathered around villages and under trees, and have nothing but the clothes they wore when they fled. The MSF team has started to take in some of the wounded in need of urgent medical care. The immediate priorities are to provide access to clean water and distribute blankets, as the area is particularly cold and windy, and to set up medical consultations.

“MSF is extremely worried about the fate of those populations that were left behind,” said Huub Verhagen, MSF head of operations for Chad and Sudan. “Many families have been separated during the attack and are without news of those who remain in Darfur.”

Access to the region north of El Genina in Darfur has been systematically refused to MSF international staff in Sudan since mid-December 2007, despite reports of deteriorating humanitarian conditions and the need to carry out rapid health assessments after the recent attacks. MSF is deeply concerned by the situation and requests to all belligerents free and unhindered access to the populations in dire need of emergency assistance.

MSF medical teams have been working on both sides of the border between Chad and Darfur,Sudan since 2004, providing care for populations directly affected by the conflict. In Seleia, MSF provided a range of medical services including antenatal and surgical care, with an average of 1,500 consultations per month. In mid-December 2007, the international staff in Seleia was temporarily evacuated but had since then repeatedly requested administrative authorizations to return to the area.

~ Link ~

 

Bomb first ... then entertain!

File under: 'Works on us, why not them?'
By Jeffrey Breinholt

It looks like the Hollywood Writer’s strike is finally over, which is a good thing for those tired of prime-time game shows and “American Gladiator.” The labor dispute involved financial remuneration for the redistribution of entertainment programming. The writers’ problem is that their product is in such high demand around the world, and they want to assure that they are receiving fair compensation. If only we were all so fortunate. The fact that the appetite for American entertainment is so strong overseas raises a counterterrorism idea that some may dismiss as me being flippant, but is actually quite serious.

The idea hit me as I listened to Yonah Alexander’s comments at the excellent public forum co-hosted by the Counterterrorism Foundation on February 12, 2008 at the U.S. Capitol. Professor Alexander described how American counterterrorism efforts need to include more than just law enforcement and military tools, to win over youth in the Third World who are indoctrinated from an early age to hate American values. He suggested that this battle will last for 100 years, even if we start today, since today’s children are tomorrow’s terrorists. Why? For many of them, their daily intellectual diet includes Al Manar, the television station of Hizballah.

Does anyone else see the irony of this as American television writers put down their signs and retreat from the picket lines? Why can’t the U.S. government subsidize the distribution of regular American entertainment to the Arab World? I am not referring to the dry, policy-laden programming of Voice of America, nor to original pro-American shows that would inevitably involve consultations with American Muslim groups over whether the resulting productions violate politico-religious sensibilities. Let’s give them a heavy dose of what we give our own people, and which makes us so happy and wanting more. Not the pro-U.S. propaganda like what was produced in World War II. This would be “The Office,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Friday Night Lights,” without apologies. That would mean more work and viewers for the Hollywood writers, and more reliable income. After all, U.S. government paychecks rarely bounce.

Think this is not possible in repressive regimes? The American entertainment industry has been ranting for years about the dangers of copyright infringement, to the point where they have convinced Interpol that intellectual piracy is used to fund terrorists. This means that even the best technological skills that money can buy cannot prevent illegal downloads onto IPods. I doubt the Mullahs in Iran have any better shot at it.

P.J. Rourke, I think, once said that the Berlin Wall came down not because of Minutemen Missiles and the Strategic Defense Initiative, but because of the Sony Walkman and Levi jeans. Johnnie Walker Red used to be a good tradeable commodity in remote parts of China, and probably still is. These items became things everyday Communists could not live without. People who realize they are living deprived are willing to risk everything for them, once they got a little taste. Throw lingerie-clad Eva Longoria at regular Arab viewers, and see how long they want to wear a hijab and insist that stoning is the proper punishment for adultery. I’m not sure our regular television programming rises to the level of an American treasure, but I seriously doubt that the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights will be able to claim that it amounts to U.S.-sanctioned torture.

SMOKEY THE BEAR SUTRA

BY GARY SNYDER

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a discourse to all the assembled elements and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings, the flying beings, and the sitting beings--even the grasses, to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

"In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon. The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."

"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.

Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

His left paw in the mudra of Comradely Display--indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the west, symbolic of the forces that guard the wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the true path of man on Earth:

all true paths lead through mountains--

With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs, smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

Indicating the task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes, master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him...

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham mam

"I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND BE THIS RAGING FURY BE DESTROYED"

And he will protect those who love the woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS

CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

DROWN THEIR BUTTS

CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.

Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT

...thus we have heard...

(may be reproduced free forever)

We didn't stop that war, but may have stopped the next

Andrew Murray
The Guardian
 

Five years ago this week most readers of this newspaper were making plans to go on a demonstration. More surprisingly, just as many Daily Telegraph readers were getting ready for the same event. For most of those who marched against the Iraq war on February 15 2003 it was the first time they had ever demonstrated for or against anything in their lives. It was a protest such as Britain had never seen before, all-embracing in its diversity and imposing in its unity of purpose.

While there are always arguments over the size of demonstrations (the 2 million-or-so figure we claim is supported by considerable polling and photographic evidence), there is no dispute that this was not merely the country's biggest political protest, but the biggest by a substantial order of magnitude.

Two things are obvious about the demonstration to "stop the war". First, the millions on the march were right. Not just right on balance, but right on every single aspect of the question. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq did turn into a bloodbath, the invasion did not help resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and it did damage the cohesion of our own society and imperil our civil liberties while not making us one whit safer from terrorism. So the people were smarter than the politicians.

Second the demonstration did not stop the war. Our hope had been that mass protest could drive the British government out of its aggressive alliance with Bush and that the latter, isolated internationally as a result, would come under intensified domestic pressure. We came very close, as Donald Rumsfeld made clear. In the wake of February 15, Washington told Blair he could stand down our army if he wanted to.

The prime minister ignored that offer and the people he represents alike. However, failing is not the same thing as making no difference. February 15 has cast a long shadow over British politics since, and contributed to Blair's departure from office under circumstances - in public odium and with an exasperated party - scarcely of his choosing. What war have we stopped? The next one, perhaps.

The demonstration was the apex of a broader movement which touched almost every part of society in 2003. This included the greatest-ever engagement of British Muslims in active politics, thousands of school student walkouts, peaceful civil disruption in towns across the country, local authorities coming out against the war, and train drivers declining to move munitions for the invasion.

It was a movement entirely outside the established structures which normally mediate the relationship between people and power. It was organised by the Stop the War Coalition (with CND and the Muslim Association of Britain as our partners), a campaign not 18 months old and run on a shoestring.

Hundreds of thousands of trade unionists joined the demonstration, while the TUC - its eyes on its ministerial connections, not its members - maintained a frigid indifference. Labour and Tory party members protested against their leaders, while Liberal Democrats dragged their hierarchy to the demonstration behind them. Marching at the head of the demonstration, I missed what may have been the most telling sight of the day - Piccadilly blocked by people without a single banner among them. This was the march of the unmobilised.

It was also a march against Murdoch and his mendacious press, exploding the myth of his political omnipotence. Rupert said war, the people said no. All Alastair Campbell's strategy of controlling opinion through appeasing the Sun in vain!

The demonstration, and the movement around it, exploded the notion that society is slumped in a consumer-sodden apathy, and incapable of political engagement. The country's biggest mass movement followed a general election with the lowest turnout in modern times, and preceded one in which participation was scarcely improved. The problem is the system, not the people.

So perhaps the biggest lesson of February 15 is that it embodied the failure of representative democracy. It highlighted a gap between the electorate and the elected, a gap several hundred thousand lives have slipped down as a result.

The anti-war movement has lived under the shadow of that immense mobilisation too. But it was followed the next month by the biggest demonstration against a war British troops were actually fighting, by the biggest-ever weekday march (against the Bush visit to London later in 2003), by an unprecedented movement of military families against the war, and by a dozen further marches - including one which will mark the fifth anniversary of the war itself, on March 15. Opposition to empire has been put at the heart of politics as never before.

Emily Churchill, a Birmingham school student at the time, described the experience as "trying to steer the course of our country with our own hands". Of course in 2003 other, American, hands were on the wheel. But the lesson of February 15 is that we can and we will.

· Andrew Murray has been chair of the Stop the War Coalition since 2001

~ Link ~

 

Understanding America's love affair with the military

Progressives who want to disarm U.S. militarism must first understand the nation's faith in the military -- one of our least elitist, most diverse institutions.

By William J. Astore

" ... Recent polls suggest that Americans trust the military roughly three times as much as they trust the president and five times as much as their elected representatives in Congress. The tenacity of this trust is both striking and disturbing. It's striking because it comes despite widespread media coverage of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the friendly-fire coverup in the case of Pat Tillman's death, and alleged retribution killings by Marines at Haditha. It's disturbing because our country is founded on civilian control of the military. It's debatable whether our less-than-resolute civilian leaders can now exercise the necessary level of oversight of the military and the Pentagon when they are distrusted by so many Americans.

What explains the military's enduring appeal in our society? Certainly, some of this appeal is obvious. Americans have generally been a patriotic bunch. "Supporting our troops" seems an obvious place to go. After all, many of them volunteered to put themselves in harm's way to protect our liberties and to avenge the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For this, they receive pay and benefits that might best be described as modest. Trusting them -- granting them a measure of confidence -- seems the least that could be offered.

[...]

Ordinary Americans trust the military, in part, because the "have-nots" have direct access to it -- far more access than most will ever have to elite universities, elite law firms, mainstream media outlets, Washington lobbying outfits, or other institutions of influence and power. Indeed, our military remains deeply rooted in the broad middle- and working-class elements of society. Our Ivy League schools, our white-shoe law firms, Boston's Beacon Hill, New York's Upper West Side have little presence in it. Yet everywhere you go in small-town and rural America, you bump into ordinary people who know someone in the military: a nephew, a cousin, a close buddy from high school, even, these days, the girl next door.

[...]

...the second blind spot in the academic/progressive critique of our military -- the failure to recognize the enduring attractiveness of military service to young men seeking to construct their own identities. To many of these potential recruits, American culture today appears feminized -- or, at least demasculinized -- a mommy-state, a risk-averse society with designer drugs and syndrome-of-the-day counselors to ease our pain. In response, what we're seeing is a romantic yearning among young men for the very hardness, the brutality even, epitomized by military service and warfare.

[...]
 
In talking to young men in the rural, conservative area of Pennsylvania where I live, what strikes me is how many of them have seen all 10 episodes of the HBO World War II series "Band of Brothers," and how many admire the bravery, camaraderie and sacrifice it depicts in portraying paratroopers of the 101st Airborne fighting their way across France and into Germany in 1944-45. Seasoned Marines, a colleague reports, confess that one thing working to sustain recruiting, despite the war in Iraq and regular news reports on an overstrained and exhausted military, is young men who, raised in self-esteem-touting, gender-bending environments (on TV, if nowhere else), sign up to experience "the other side."

It's easy to dismiss such yearnings as Neanderthal. The irony is that that very dismissal creates an inviting taboo for a whole segment of young American males to challenge. For academia and progressives, war is today what sex was to society in the Victorian age, involving as it does emotions nice people don't feel and acts nice people don't opt to commit. Yes, many volunteers join the military with educational or career possibilities in mind, but among young men who enlist, there is also a certain element, conscious or unconscious, of taboo-breaking -- and of self-affirmation.

[...]

The point is this: It's not enough simply to rail against the military or militarism, however enlightened it makes you feel. There are powerful reasons why Americans trust our military and continue to join its ranks. Unless these are grasped, efforts to redirect our nation along less militaristic lines will founder on the shores of incomprehension. ... "

~ From In the military we trust via The Intelligence Daily ~

 

Four More American Drug Planes Seized

Four more American-registered drug planes have been  seized from the 50-plane fleet of drug running aircraft amassed by Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel,  according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Figures of interest in the transactions, the MadCowMorningNews has learned, include financial backers of two of this year's Republican candidates for President, as well as, unsurprisingly, an aviation company in St. Petersburg, FL. which can justifiably be called "one of the usual suspects."

Coincidentally or not, the American owners of the four planes (like the two busted earlier) were largely people and companies with  'special relationships' with U.S. political movers and shakers, including the CIA and the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Yet, despite this inconvenient fact,  the FBI persists in referring to the aircraft's American owners as "legitimate aircraft brokers" and "unwitting sellers"

The Republican connection begins with the statement in court filings that the money to purchase the planes was laundered through a bank which is almost invariably described as “fast-growing” in admiring business news articles. 

The drug money was wired, usually from Mexico, to an account at Commerce Bank in Miami, whose Chairman, Dennis Nixon,  is the South Texas Co-chair of John McCain’s campaign.  

Nixon was also a Bush Pioneer and Ranger in George W. Bush’s two Presidential campaigns, raising $300,000 in one night for Bush’s re-election bid in Texas border town Laredo.

High-profile Texas businessman Dennis Nixon's bank is even in one of the salesinvolved on both ends.  Money was wired from Mexico, first to an account at Commerce Bank in Miami, then on to International Bank of Commerce (IBC) in Oklahoma to complete the sale. 

Dennis Nixon's International Bancshares of San Antonio owns both banks.

[ ... ]

The four seized planes join two CIA-and Dept. of Homeland Security-linked planes already linked to the Sinaloa drug fleet. A DC-9 (N900SA) registered to former SkyWay partner Frederic Geffon’s Royal Sons Inc from St. Petersburg FL was busted in Mexico carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine, and a Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) crash-landed carrying 4 tons in September in the Yucatan after failing to land at airports in Cancun and Merida. 

Finally, another bank cited in the court filings for moving Sinaloa cartel drug money is HBSC Bank in Mexico City. Curiously, this is also the bank used by Chinese drug trafficker Zhenli Ye Gon, whose Mexico City home was discovered to be stuffed with over $200 million in cash.

Ye Gon claimed he was merely “holding” the money, which literally filled his home in Mexico City, for Mexican politicians, who threatened him with death if he demurred. What U.S. and Mexican officials are hoping to avoid is the question...

Who can say 'no' to a deal like that?

~ Full article ~

 

World bourses lost $5.2 trillion in January - S&P index division

World stock markets lost $5.2 trillion (3.6 trillion euros) in January thanks to the fallout from the US subprime crisis and fears of a global economic slowdown, Standard & Poor's said Saturday.

"If investors thought the market could only go up, January's wake-up call pulled them back into reality," said Standard and Poor's index division.

Standard & Poor's said the world's equity markets lost a combined 5.2 trillion dollars as emerging markets fell 12.44 percent and developed markets lost 7.83 percent to register one of the worst starts to a new year.

"There were few safe havens in January as 50 of the 52 global equity markets ended the month in negative territory, with 25 of them posting double-digit losses," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&Ps.

All 26 developed equity markets posted negative returns in January, with 16 losing at least 10 percent of their value.

The January declines negated all previous market gains, leaving all of the developed markets in the red for the trailing three month period...

~ Full article ~

 

Connecting with the Web of Love

http://www.weboflove.org/

Breathing the Web. Here is a simple, yet powerful way of connecting with the Web of Love through breath. Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a sparkling, energetic web connecting the deepest essence of all people in the world. Consider placing your hands over your heart or the center of your chest as you do this. Take a few deep breaths as you open to this image.

Now, while taking a slow, very deep inhale, say to yourself:
Your sacred love flows in to me.

Then slowly exhale fully while thinking and feeling:
My sacred love flows out to you.

Repeat this a few times while opening your heart fully to all the love present. Make sure to fill your lungs completely on the in breath and to exhale fully on breathing out. Doing this for just a minute or less can powerfully shift you into a more loving space. Try it now, and invite yourself to really let the love flow!

The "you" in these sacred love statements can be all people on the planet, or it can be any individual you choose. For some, it might be easier to start this exercise by imagining the one to whom you feel closest in your life. Breathe the web with that special someone in mind and let the love flow between you. Then envision other people in your life and do the same. When you are ready, envision groups with which you are involved and eventually all people who share our world. This simple breathing exercise can be deeply meaningful in either a personal or a global context.

There may be times when you want to breathe the web, but can’t remember the words used above. “Love to me, love to you,” is all you need to feel the web. You can create your own sayings, too, with words that are more meaningful to you. The most important element is your intention to connect with all people on this beautiful planet through the Web of Love.

 

A Riddle Song

THAT which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world
incessantly,
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd,
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.

Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude,
Behind the mountain and the wood,
Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage,
It and its radiations constantly glide.

In looks of fair unconscious babes,
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead,
Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,
As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,
Hiding yet lingering.

Two little breaths of words comprising it.
Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.

How ardently for it!
How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!
How many travelers started from their homes and ne'er return'd!
How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it!
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it!
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it--and
shall be to the end!
How all heroic martyrdoms to it!
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth!
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and
land, have drawn men's eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the
cliffs,
Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.

Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.

-- Walt Whitman

Holocaust Deniers - a growing club

Genocides in history

Genocide is the mass killing of a group of people, as defined by Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

The preamble to the CPPCG not only states that "genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world", but that "at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity".

Determining what historical events constitute a genocide and which are merely criminal or inhuman behaviour is not a clear-cut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have fiercely disputed the interpretation and details of the event, often to the point of promoting wildly different versions of the facts. An accusation of genocide is certainly not taken lightly and will almost always be controversial.


One Million Dead in Iraq - Our Own Holocaust Denial By Mark Weisbrot

Institutionally unwilling to consider America’s responsibility for the bloodbath, the traditional media have refused to acknowledge the massive number of Iraqis killed since the invasion.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s flirtation with those who deny the reality of the Nazi genocide has rightly been met with disgust. But another holocaust denial is taking place with little notice: the holocaust in Iraq. The average American believes that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US invasion in March 2003. The most commonly cited figure in the media is 70,000. But the actual number of people who have been killed is most likely more than one million.

This is five times more than the estimates of killings in Darfur and even more than the genocide in Rwanda 13 years ago.

The estimate of more than one million violent deaths in Iraq was confirmed again two months ago in a poll by the British polling firm Opinion Research Business, which estimated 1,220,580 violent deaths since the US invasion. This is consistent with the study conducted by doctors and scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health more than a year ago. Their study was published in the Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal. It estimated 601,000 people killed due to violence as of July 2006; but if updated on the basis of deaths since the study, this estimate would also be more than a million. These estimates do not include those who have died because of public health problems created by the war, including breakdowns in sewerage systems and electricity, shortages of medicines, etc.

Amazingly, some journalists and editors - and of course some politicians - dismiss such measurements because they are based on random sampling of the population rather than a complete count of the dead. While it would be wrong to blame anyone for their lack of education, this disregard for scientific methods and results is inexcusable. As one observer succinctly put it: if you don’t believe in random sampling, the next time your doctor orders a blood test, tell him that he needs to take all of it...


Bengali Famine

...To dramatise this perversion, imagine that the Jewish Holocaust was almost completely deleted from our history books and from general public perception, that there was virtually a total absence of any mention at all of this cataclysm in our newspapers and electronic media or in our schools and universities. Truth, reason, ethics and humanity aside, objective analysis suggests that such a situation would greatly increase the probability of recurrence of racial mass murder. Fortunately, in reality, virtually everyone is aware of this event and indeed in Germany today it is a criminal offence to deny the actuality of the Jewish Holocaust.

In contrast, during the Second World War, a man-made catastrophe occurred within the British Empire that killed almost as many people as died in the Jewish Holocaust, but which has been effectively deleted from history, it is a 'forgotten holocaust'. The man-made famine in British-ruled Bengal in 1943-1944 ultimately took the lives of about 4-million people, about 90% of the total British Empire casualties of that conflict, and was accompanied by a multitude of horrors, not the least being massive civilian and military sexual abuse of starving women and young girls that compares unfavourable with the comfort women abuses of the Japanese Army.

The causes of the famine are complex, but ultimately when the price of rice rose above the ability of landless rural poor to pay and in the absence of humane, concerned government, millions simply starved to death or otherwise died of starvation-related causes. Although there was plenty of food potentially available, the price of rice rose through 'market forces', driven by a number of factors including: the cessation of imports from Japanese-occupied Burma, a dramatic wartime decline in other requisite grain imports into India, compounded by the deliberate strategic slashing of Allied Indian Ocean shipping; heavy-handed government action in seizing Bengali rice stocks in sensitive areas; the seizure of boats critically required for food acquisition and rice distribution; and finally the 'divide and rule' policy of giving the various Indian provinces control over their own food stocks. Critically, cashed-up, wartime, industrial, Calcutta could pay for rice and sucked food out of a starving, food-producing countryside.

Ultimately, millions of Bengalis died because their British rulers didn't give a damn and had other strategic imperatives. The Bengal Famine and its aftermath for the debilitated Bengal population consumed its victims over several years in the case of complete British inaction through most of 1943 or insufficient subsequent action. Churchill had a confessed hatred for Indians and during the famine he opposed the humanitarian attempts of people such as the Prime Minister of Canada, Louis Mountbatten, Viceroy General Wavell, and even of Japanese collaborationist leader Subhash Chandra Bose. The hypothesis can be legitimately advanced that the extent of the Bengal Famine derived in part from sustained, deliberate policy.

The wartime Bengal Famine has become a 'forgotten holocaust' and has been effectively deleted from our history books, from school and university curricula and from general public perception. To the best of my knowledge, Churchill only wrote of it once, in a secret letter to Roosevelt dated April 29th 1944 in which he made the following remarkable plea for help in shipping Australian grain to India: 'I am no longer justified in not asking for your help.' Churchill's six-volume 'History of the Second World War' fails to mention the cataclysm that was responsible for about 90% of total British Empire casualties in that conflict but makes the extraordinary obverse claim: 'No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the people of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small island.'...


British Genocide

...If Cornwallis had at this time chosen to deal with the Mi'kmaq in a respectful manner, I firmly believe that peace would have prevailed. He did not.

In early September of 1749, Cornwallis sent several English officers to meet with the MI’KMAQ Chiefs to tell them that they must now accept the King’s sovereignty over their land, and they must submit his rule. When the Mi'kmaq refused, war broke out once again.

On October 1, 1749, Cornwallis called together members of his council to deal with the situation. They decided that to declare war against the Mi'kmaq would tacitly acknowledge them as a free and independent people. Instead, they chose to treat them as criminals, and as rebels against His Majesty's government. It was then decided that a bounty would be offered for any Mi'kmaq, including women and children, taken or killed. To carry out their genocidal intentions, the council locally raised a company of fifty volunteers for immediate field action. And, during the winter months, they recruited a company of one hundred bounty hunters in New England to join with Gorham's Rangers, a Mass Bay colony militia stationed in Nova Scotia, to scour the province for human prey.

In a letter defending his action to the Lords of Trade and Plantations in London, Cornwallis wrote that his intention was to remove the Mi'kmaq forever from Nova Scotia. The Lords wrote back that "by filling the minds of bordering Indians with ideas of our cruelty" that Cornwallis might cause the Tribes to unite and carry out a general continental war against the Europeans.

Despite his best efforts, Cornwallis failed in his bid to exterminate the Mi'kmaq. But, after the “Burying of the Hatchet”ceremony in 1761, the Mi'kmaq were victimized at various times over the two centuries by starvation, malnutrition, and other indignities...


"The Story of a National Crime" by Dr. Peter Bryce
former Medical Inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA), Ottawa, in which Bryce describes his 1907 discovery of a death rate of nearly 50% in western Indian residential schools, and the suppression of this evidence by the Canadian government and churches.


Hidden from History:The Canadian Holocaust

We call for:

1. The declaration of a National Aboriginal Holocaust Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday, during which awareness projects into Genocide in Canada, and other events, are held to commemorate those who were tortured, killed or otherwise died in "residential schools", in order to keep alive the memory of the Genocide deliberately committed by European church and state against the indigenous peoples of Canada.

2. The creation of Aboriginal Holocaust Museums, and related travelling exhibits and memorial monuments inscribed with the names of the dead, on the site of former "residential schools", at which the complete history, artifacts, and testimonies of survivors of the Genocide of First peoples are recorded and displayed, in order to educate and mobilize the public towards greater understanding and justice.

3. The convening of an International War Crimes Tribunal into Genocide in Canada by independent human rights and aboriginal communities, under the auspices of First Nations bodies not funded by the Canadian state.

4. The immediate surrendering to this Tribunal of all persons who have or are presently engaged in acts of Genocide, violence and abuse of native people in Canada, including but not restricted to acts of pedophilia, child prostitution and pornography, rape, murder, torture, kidnapping, forced labour, theft of traditional native lands and resources, ethnic cleansing, sexual sterilization, medical experimentation, and any form of assault, impoverishment, segregation, discrimination or coercion designed to eradicate indigenous peoples and their way of life.

5. The surrendering and publicizing of all documents, records, and other evidence held by the government of Canada, the RCMP, and the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches, which relate to any of the aforementioned crimes committed by them and their employees on indigenous people in Canada.

6. The immediate and unconditional revoking of the charitable, tax-free status of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches in Canada, and the collection of all back taxes owed by these bodies, because of their criminal role in planning, practicing and concealing the deliberate Genocide of non-Christian aboriginal peoples in Canada for more than a century.

7. The immediate and unconditional surrendering without compensation of all aboriginal lands, cultural artifacts, and derived revenues held by these churches and associated bodies to their original First Nations.

8. The immediate disbanding of the RCMP and the federal Department of Indian Affairs because of their foundational genocidal purpose and historical practice of exterminating aboriginal peoples and cultures across Canada.


The Turks haven't learned the British way of denying past atrocities

...Atrocities? Which atrocities? When a Turkish writer uses that word, everyone in Turkey knows what he is talking about, even if they deny it vehemently. But most British people will stare at you blankly. So let me give you two examples, both of which are as well documented as the Armenian genocide.

In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis tells the story of famines that killed between 12 and 29 million Indians. These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. When an El Niño drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at the height of the famine, grain merchants exported a record 6.4m hundredweight of wheat. As the peasants began to starve, officials were ordered "to discourage relief works in every possible way". The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 prohibited "at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices". The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. In the labour camps, the workers were given less food than inmates of Buchenwald. In 1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of 94%.

As millions died, the imperial government launched "a militarised campaign to collect the tax arrears accumulated during the drought". The money, which ruined those who might otherwise have survived the famine, was used by Lytton to fund his war in Afghanistan. Even in places that had produced a crop surplus, the government's export policies, like Stalin's in Ukraine, manufactured hunger. In the north-western provinces, Oud and the Punjab, which had brought in record harvests in the preceeding three years, at least 1.25m died.

Three recent books - Britain's Gulag by Caroline Elkins, Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson, and Web of Deceit by Mark Curtis - show how white settlers and British troops suppressed the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya in the 1950s. Thrown off their best land and deprived of political rights, the Kikuyu started to organise - some of them violently - against colonial rule. The British responded by driving up to 320,000 of them into concentration camps. Most of the remainder - more than a million - were held in "enclosed villages". Prisoners were questioned with the help of "slicing off ears, boring holes in eardrums, flogging until death, pouring paraffin over suspects who were then set alight, and burning eardrums with lit cigarettes". British soldiers used a "metal castrating instrument" to cut off testicles and fingers. "By the time I cut his balls off," one settler boasted, "he had no ears, and his eyeball, the right one, I think, was hanging out of its socket." The soldiers were told they could shoot anyone they liked "provided they were black". Elkins's evidence suggests that more than 100,000 Kikuyu were either killed or died of disease and starvation in the camps. David Anderson documents the hanging of 1,090 suspected rebels: far more than the French executed in Algeria. Thousands more were summarily executed by soldiers, who claimed they had "failed to halt" when challenged.

These are just two examples of at least 20 such atrocities overseen and organised by the British government or British colonial settlers; they include, for example, the Tasmanian genocide, the use of collective punishment in Malaya, the bombing of villages in Oman, the dirty war in North Yemen, the evacuation of Diego Garcia. Some of them might trigger a vague, brainstem memory in a few thousand readers, but most people would have no idea what I'm talking about. Max Hastings, on the opposite page, laments our "relative lack of interest" in Stalin and Mao's crimes. But at least we are aware that they happened.

In the Express we can read the historian Andrew Roberts arguing that for "the vast majority of its half-millennium-long history, the British empire was an exemplary force for good ... the British gave up their empire largely without bloodshed, after having tried to educate their successor governments in the ways of democracy and representative institutions" (presumably by locking up their future leaders). In the Sunday Telegraph, he insists that "the British empire delivered astonishing growth rates, at least in those places fortunate enough to be coloured pink on the globe". (Compare this to Mike Davis's central finding, that "there was no increase in India's per capita income from 1757 to 1947", or to Prasannan Parthasarathi's demonstration that "South Indian labourers had higher earnings than their British counterparts in the 18th century and lived lives of greater financial security.") In the Daily Telegraph, John Keegan asserts that "the empire became in its last years highly benevolent and moralistic". The Victorians "set out to bring civilisation and good government to their colonies and to leave when they were no longer welcome. In almost every country, once coloured red on the map, they stuck to their resolve".

There is one, rightly sacred Holocaust in European history. All the others can be denied, ignored, or belittled. As Mark Curtis points out, the dominant system of thought in Britain "promotes one key concept that underpins everything else - the idea of Britain's basic benevolence ... Criticism of foreign policies is certainly possible, and normal, but within narrow limits which show 'exceptions' to, or 'mistakes' in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence". This idea, I fear, is the true "sense of British cultural identity" whose alleged loss Max laments today. No judge or censor is required to enforce it. The men who own the papers simply commission the stories they want to read...


Australia and the Holocaust: A Koori Perspective

... From the beginning of the British invasion of Australia (justified on the myth of terra nullius), the Indigenous people were slaughtered on a grand scale. In Tasmania between 1804 and 1834, the Aboriginal population was reduced from an estimated 5000 people to just 200, which represented a 90% reduction in just 30 years. In Victoria it has been estimated that the Koori population declined by about 60% in just 15 years between 1835 and 1850 as more than 68 individual ‘massacres’ were perpetrated in that period. Indeed, according to representative of the North West Clans of Victoria, Mr Gary Murray, of the 38 clans that lived in Victoria B.C. (Before Cook) only 24 today have living descendants. By 1850 virtually all active resistance to the invasion had been quelled in Victoria. Census figures published in March 1857 showed that only 1,768 Aborigines were left in all of that state. So comprehensive was the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Australia that out of an estimated 500 language groups on mainland Australia when the British arrived, barely half that number of languages were to survive. By 1871, one correspondent, G. Carrington felt compelled to write,

We shall never possess a detailed history of this singular and gradual work of extermination - such a tale would be too horrible to read - but we have an opportunity of seeing a similar process in full work in the colony of Queensland, and when we have seen that, we shall understand the mystery of Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.


By the middle of the 19th Century the situation for Aborigines in most parts of Australia looked very grim. Morris has described it thus, ‘The colonial process had reduced the Aborigines to a residual minority, but they had not been eliminated. The problem was expected to resolve itself.’ In other words a new policy emerged dubbed, ‘Smooth the Dying Pillow’, it was based on the assumption that what was left of the Aboriginal populace would now die out. So whilst indiscriminate killings of Aborigines were to continue well into the 1930’s, the widespread genocidal activity of early ‘settlement’ gave way to a policy of containment. This was typified by the Aborigines Protection Act 1909, which established the first Australian ‘concentration camps’ to provide a place for the doomed race to die off...


The Forgotten Holocaust: The Eastern Slave Trade

...as Islamic prosperity grew, so did an air of hostility towards many Blacks, Muslims or otherwise. Some Arabs complained about having to work next to Blacks in high positions. After the Prophet's death, even the descendants of Bilal received negative treatment. Arabic writings became laced with anti-Black sentiment. This reaction of Blacks at the time to this can be seen in the writings of a contemporary 9th Century Black scholar in residence at Baghdad by the name of Abu 'Uthman' Amr Ibn Bahr Al-Jahiz. Al-Jahiz, to confront a growing tide of anti-black sentiment in the Muslim world, published a highly controversial work at the time titled, Kitab Fakhr As-Sudan 'Ala Al-Bidan, "The Book of Glory of the Blacks over the Whites." Al-Jahiz in his work contended that even the Prophet Mohammad's father may have been of African lineage
These new attitudes towards Blacks by Arabs marked the beginning of African enslavement. Though not based solely on race, the Arab Slave Trade did focus heavily upon Africans whom Arabs now saw as inferior to themselves. At first these Arabs raided African villages themselves seeking humans for sale. This not being always successful, they soon enlisted the aid of fellow African Muslims or recently converted Blacks. Wrapping themselves within Islam, these converts rationalized the slavery of their non Muslim brethren as the selling of "unbelievers." At other times the Arabs would demand tribute in the form of human bodies from Africans weary of the fight against Arabic-Islamic incursions.
[ ... ]

Due to the enormous length of the Arab Slave Trade, from 700 to 1911AD, it is impossible to be certain of the numbers of Africans sold in this system. Estimates place the numbers somewhere around 14 million: at least 9.6 million4.4 African men. African women and
It has been estimated that in all, at least 14 to 20 MILLION African men, women and children died throughout this trade...


Modern Day Slavery: Sudan and Mauritania


The thought of slavery existing today may seem unbelievable to many. But the fact of the matter is that even as you read this, there are continuing reports of Africans being enslaved in the African republic of Sudan. Home to the ancient state of Nubia, this land has become the site of a 13-year-old civil war that has left over 1.5 million dead. Numerous reports have charged the Islamic fundamentalist North with carrying out a war of genocide against its African South who are mostly Christian or of native spiritual beliefs. The Northern population of Sudan consists of Arabs and Africans who identify themselves as "cultural Arabs." It has been reported that Northerners have been raiding African-Sudanese villages and kidnapping Black women and children for sale in the northern portion of the country to Arab buyers. Once taken north the children are force fed Islam while the women become domestics and/or sexual servants. It should be remembered that this pattern is similar to the Eastern Slave Trade which only officially ended in 1911AD...

...The situation in Mauritania is similar yet different to the one in Sudan. Here the victims are again Black while the slave masters are Caucasian Berbers. Mauritania has outlawed slavery three times since 1960, most recently in 1980. Yet even now, the mostly Islamic republic has been accused of enslaving Africans known as Haratines. The products of Berber men and their African slave mistresses, these Haratines exist in a state of bondage. Though phenotypically similar to their African Wolof, Bambara, Soninke' and Pular sisters and brothers, the Haratines consider themselves culturally Berbers. Raised and indoctrinated by Islamic Berbers, they are traded among Berbers families or given as gifts. Punishment for these Haratines may go far beyond the routine whippings and beatings. Reports tell of slave masters placing insects into a victim's ears and then sealing them with wax as a form of torture. Another tells of burning coals being applied to the thighs and sex organs of others...


Nanking Massacre: the Forgotten Holocaust

On December 13, 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army stormed the Chinese city of Nanking. During the following six weeks, they murdered and tortured countless civilians whose only crime was being Chinese. Over 300,000 people were killed and over 20,000 women were brutally raped. However, over the decades, the Japanese began to deny that this massacre ever occurred. Few Americans are aware of the Nanking atrocities, so numerous efforts are now being made to teach the world what happened in China during the massacre.

There were many events leading up to the invasion of Nanking. During the Japanese conquests of World War II, they invaded China in 1931. They wreaked havoc wherever they went, murdering millions of Chinese people. First, Japan invaded Manchuria. As Japanese soldiers advanced west through China, they used germ warfare, spreading typhoid fever and the bubonic plague. During their occupation of China, the Japanese killed at least fifteen million Chinese soldiers and civilians.

During the nineteen-twenties, Nanking only had a population of 250,000. However, during the nineteen-thirties, the city was highly populated with over one million residents. This increase was a result of the Japanese occupation and countless refugees fleeing to the city from Manchuria and other Chinese areas to the east of Nanking. They were safe in the city, until Japanese forces advanced towards Nanking from Shanghai on November 11, 1937.

Before the Japanese army attacked on foot, they made many bombings over Nanking. Most of these bombings were focused on the wealthier and more populated areas of the city. On September 25, 1937, the most devastating bombing occurred. There were over six hundred civilian casualties. Hospitals marked with a red cross on the roof were targeted, as well as refugee camps, power plants, water works, and radio stations. As a reaction to these bombings and advancing forces, political figures from The United States and The United Kingdom assembled an "International Committee." The committee set up "Safety Zones" inside the city, where refugees could stay.

On November 25, Japanese forces attacked Nanking from three different directions. The Chinese General Tang Sheng Zhi commanded an army of over a hundred thousand men. However, the Chinese city soon fell to the Japanese Imperial Army. As the Japanese entered the city, a massacre began that would continue for six weeks...


Case Study: Genocide in Bangladesh, 1971


...On February 22, 1971 the generals in West Pakistan took a decision to crush the Awami League and its supporters. It was recognized from the first that a campaign of genocide would be necessary to eradicate the threat: "Kill three million of them," said President Yahya Khan at the February conference, "and the rest will eat out of our hands." (Robert Payne, Massacre [1972], p. 50.) On March 25 the genocide was launched. The university in Dacca was attacked and students exterminated in their hundreds. Death squads roamed the streets of Dacca, killing some 7,000 people in a single night. It was only the beginning. "Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed. Chittagong, too, had lost half its population. All over East Pakistan people were taking flight, and it was estimated that in April some thirty million people [!] were wandering helplessly across East Pakistan to escape the grasp of the military." (Payne, Massacre, p. 48.) Ten million refugees fled to India, overwhelming that country's resources and spurring the eventual Indian military intervention. (The population of Bangladesh/East Pakistan at the outbreak of the genocide was about 75 million.)...


Namibia - Genocide and the Second Reich



Nazi Documentary . A hundred years ago, three quarters of the Herero people of the German colony of Namibia were killed, many in concentration camps. Today, the descendants of the survivors are seeking reparations from the German government. This film tells for the first time this forgotten story and its links to German racial theories.

THE AFRICAN HOLOCAUST- WE CANNOT AFFORD TO FORGET

In April, 1993, the dedication of the Holocaust Museum took place in Washington, DC. This memorial is a testimony to the horrors perpetrated against Jews and other ethnic and religious minorities at the hands of the regime of Nazi Germany under Hitler in the 1940's. It is estimated that twenty million were taken into captivity and that six million lives were lost; the victims died in the "cleansing" showers of the death camp gas chambers. Countless others were casualties of unspeakable experiments performed in the name of medicine and science. Man's inhumanity to man was at work in its most heinous form when these atrocities took place in Europe. Was the idea of ethnic purification for a "master race", as Hitler termed his European followers, a new one? Looking back in history, there is strong evidence that it is not.

In the mid-1400's, the first Africans were taken out of Sierra Leone on Africa's West Coast as a present for a Portuguese king. The capture and removal from the African Continent of these ten men marked the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the wholesale exploitation and death of at least two hundred million (conservatively estimated) African lives. Truly, this is the African Holocaust; a horrific model for Hitler's later regime. The Africans who were forcibly removed from their homelands came primarily from what is known as West Africa; from Senegal down to Nigeria and all the countries in between. Columbus' "discovery" of the Caribbean islands, and later, the shores of the Americas, created a need among colonists for the strong, dark-skinned strangers who seemed tireless yet frightening in their peculiarity. Human lives became one of the largest sources of trade for the Dutch, Spanish, English, Portuguese and French. Later, ships sailed from North America in search of slave labour. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade lasted from the mid-1400's until the late 1800's. The West Coast of Africa became known as the Gold, Ivory and Slave Coasts, named for the "items" of trade that were being ripped from the bosom of the Continent. Many did not survive the treks from inland villages to the coastal forts created by the slavers. Women heavy with child, very young children, and elders were routinely taken, along with young men and women of able body. Those the slavers believed too frail to make it through the grueling fifty-six day journey through the middle passage were thrown into the bays on which the forts were built. Consequently, shark infestation problems exist in many of the areas on these coasts even today. Branded with the initials of the shipping company or the captain himself, the enslaved Africans were often herded into prison-like forts where they were chained to each other and to walls or floors to await the arrival of one of the many slave ships.

Many of the enslaved Africans actually willed themselves to die or committed suicide by purposely choking on objects rather than endure the horror for which they had no frame of reference. Many more lives were lost on board the slave ships, some to suicide and others to the dysentery and other illnesses rampant on board the ill-equipped ships.

If one actually survived the passage, the degradation of the auction block, the overseer's whip and a life of misery, then grueling work, strange food and little sleep became the lot of the deposed Africans. Families were torn apart and a mother could not count on keeping or raising her own child in this system, nor could a husband depend on a life with his spouse.

People of Jewish descent have a moral obligation to themselves, their children, and the world, to inform and educate regarding the Holocaust. The visual force of the Holocaust Museum is said to be shocking and to have significant impact on those who come to visit it. It is the right and the obligation of the Jews and those families who suffered through the atrocities of the European Holocaust to create a living testimony so that the world will never forget what happened in Germany and so such pain and death will not reoccur.

People of African descent the world over, but especially those who reside in the United States, are likewise morally obligated to remember the African Holocaust and to memorialize the four hundred plus years of human carnage that swept the West Coast of the African continent from Senegal to Nigeria. Parents of African descent need to educate their children to the fact that African American history begins in the countries of West Africa, not on the plantations of the United States and the Caribbean. African parents need to let their sons and daughters know that we, as people of African descent, are the creators of civilization, not the destroyers of it as society would have them believe; that the Greeks came to Africa (Egypt) to learn about civilization, and not the other way around; that Africa is the second largest continent in the world and yet it is depicted as smaller than the US in many atlases; that while we are not all from royalty, ours were societies that possessed great riches and that, when the slavers came to Africa, we were not running through the jungle naked but were wearing finely embroidered silks and linens.

Education is the key to the ills plaguing our race at this time. The Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, widely known as the Father of Black Consciousness, and founder of the UNIA (United Negro Improvement Association) in the 1930's, stated that, "If we as a people realised the greatness from which we came [Africa] we would be less likely to disrespect ourselves". Our lives did not begin in slave shanties on plantations in the United States and the Caribbean. We, as deposed Africans, have a responsibility to our youth to reinforce this fact.

Truly, the memorialization of the African Holocaust should have the same import as that of the European Holocaust. Given the fact, however, that the United States played such a large role in the wholesale exploitation of African lives and, given the fact that this exploitation still exists in many forms today, it is doubtful that any such memorial will ever be created. We have been out of slavery for fewer years than our ancestors were enslaved; Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Act are part of our all too recent past. What would Africa be like today if those innumerable brilliant minds had not been ripped from the bosom of West Africa?...

Conspiracy and the State of the Union

" ... This phrase is among the tireless workhorses of establishment discourse. Without it, disinformation would be much harder than it is. "Conspiracy theory" is a trigger phrase, saturated with intellectual contempt and deeply anti-intellectual resentment. It makes little sense on its own, and while it's a priceless tool of propaganda, it is worse than useless as an explanatory category.

"Theory" is a term from Plato, derived from the Ancient Greek theorein, "to see." From it we get the word "theater." Theory is a conceptual overview of the way something works. In science, the word refers to a guiding set of concepts derived from testable hypotheses about a domain of facts in nature or procedures in an art.

When the evidence is gathered together, some observer sees it in such a way that it configures an hypothesis.

When that hypothesis is verified by induction and experiment, it can be gathered together with similar hypotheses from analogous cases.

If we say, 9-11 was orchestrated by the bin Laden organization, the Pakistani intelligence agency, and elements of the neoconservative group that seized power in 2000, that's an hypothesis, derived logically from a set of documented facts that constitute evidence. It isn't a theory. It can become part of a theory if it's joined with other hypotheses into a coherent descriptive pattern that can help to predict future events in general terms.

For instance, the amply demonstrated hypothesis that the 35th President of the United States was murdered by a consortium of interests including the CIA, Cuban exiles, organized crime, and the military. 11-22 and 9-11 are examples of premeditated murder by more than one person - in law, they are cases of conspiracy to commit murder (and fraud, and perjury, and treason). Taken together, they imply a theory whose greatest expression is the work of Peter Dale Scott, who coined the term deep politics: "the constant, everyday interaction between the constitutionally elected government and forces of violence, forces of crime, which appear to be the enemies of that government." Deep politics is a robust theory, a powerful explanatory account of demonstrable phenomena; it applies to myriad cases and offers a unified understanding of their causes and meanings. Like Goethe's conceptual account of color, and like Newton's rival account which refuted it, Scott's deep-political theory applies uniformly to the domain it describes.

Conspiracy, on the other hand, is a hypothesis about a particular case at hand. The only rigorous meaning that the phrase "conspiracy theory" can have would be that political crimes involving more than one actor are usually exceptional episodes unrelated to one another - rather than the ongoing, systemic and unacknowledged relationships between authorities and the criminals they are paid to hinder and to punish.

The appeal of the phrase "conspiracy theory" lies in the slang meaning of "theory": unproven and even unprovable claims about the way things get done in government and business. But there are two problems here.

First, a theory is still rightly called a theory long after it has been proven, even to the limits of human understanding. Einstein's theory of Relativity and Darwin's theory of evolution are incomplete, like every product of human thought. But they are as certain as any grounds we can give for them, as certain as the palpable facts on which they rest. The public imagines that this word "theory" implies confusion and controversy. It doesn't.

The second problem is this: in order for a theory to be worthy of that name, it must be falsifiable. This is a term invented by Karl Popper; it means that your description of events has to be demonstrably true based on valid experiments - or genuine evidence - that might otherwise have proven it demonstrably false. Like the hypotheses that form its bones and flesh, a theory must turn out to be either true or false, or it's not a theory. For instance, consider the beautiful claim that the world is governed by a God who rules by reward and punishment. Nothing observable counts as evidence for or against the claim. If I say "show me a sign," an immediate lightning bolt on my head is not evidence of a God any more than the absence of a sign is evidence against it. Nothing can count as a test, so theism is not a theory; it can be something too wonderful to describe, but - true, false, or paradoxical - it isn't theoretical. Relativity, however, is a theory of the natural world, verified by experiments like Michaelson-Morley which demonstrated its conformity to observable facts - and had the experiments turned out differently, the theory would have been falsified. The public thinks falsifiability means that the theory can already be disproved and is therefore wrong. It actually means that the theory is either right or wrong, but not meaningless.

  • In a criminal conspiracy, Arthur Anderson and Enron defrauded investors and employees of billions of dollars. But they also compromised the S.E.C., the Congress, the executive branch, and the duck-hunting judicial branch in order to make part of this activity technically legal. That's deep politics.
  • In a criminal conspiracy, a core group of Secret Service personnel (Roberts, Greer, Boring, etc.) conspired with elements of the CIA (Phillips, Angleton, Dulles, etc.) to murder the 35th President of the United States. But they also collaborated with organized crime figures (Trafficante, Giancana, Marcello, etc.), paramilitary groups, and international heroin traffickers. That's deep politics.

Because so much of America's real business gets done at a politically deep level, any discussion of it tends to be part of a psychological tug-of-war. The person who brings the undesirable story to the public is "peddling" a conspiracy theory; if the story should happen to be any more complex than "lone gunman does really bad thing for no apparent reason," then it's a "grab-bag" or a "hodgepodge" of such "theories." In response, the critic is forced to point out that all this hysteria is the byproduct of dangerous levels of denial in the public and in the media.

But I'd like to make a different gesture for a moment, the kind that was often made in response to President Nixon's criminal behavior (and is being made today by authors like Mark Crispin Miller and Robert Jay Lifton). Dumbfounded at the sight of his murderous and self-defeating hypocrisy, many critics approached Nixon as a walking museum of mental ailments. While G.W.B. has none of Richard Nixon's intellectual resources, his conduct is so irrational that it cries out for analysis in Freudian terms. As the instrument of elites he can't understand, Bush needs to convince himself that the decisions he pronounces are in fact his own. He is the kind of figurehead who really believes that he is steering the ship. Unlike his homicidally clever father, this man has no real-life achievement on which to base an identity of his own. Having never won a fair fight in his life (to borrow a phrase from John Judge), terribly uncomfortable with the failed self he had on his hands "when I was a drinkin' man," Bush became "born again." That's always a radical move to make, and at its best it quiets down a person's inner noise so he or she can hear the wisdom of some sacred text or other. But Bush is not listening, and I suspect his transformation was actually a fool's golden ticket to un-earned self-esteem: in other words, deficit spending. ... "

~ Full article ~

 

Putin issues nuclear threat to Ukraine over plan to host US shield

President Vladimir Putin threatened to point Russia's nuclear weapons at Ukraine yesterday if Kiev agreed to host the controversial US missile defence shield.

Moscow would regrettably be forced to redirect its missiles at its post-Soviet neighbour, he said, if Ukraine went ahead with its plan to join Nato and allowed US infrastructure on its territory.

Speaking after talks in Moscow with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushshenko, Putin said the real target of the Bush administration's shield in central Europe was Russia - not a rogue missile fired by Iran or North Korea.

The true purpose was "the neutralisation of our nuclear missile potential, which prompts Russia to take retaliatory action", Putin declared.

Asked what would happen if Ukraine joined Poland and the Czech Republic, which have already agreed to host elements of the Pentagon's system, Putin gave an emotional reply.

"It's horrible to say and even horrible to think that, in response to the deployment of such facilities in Ukrainian territory, which cannot theoretically be ruled out, Russia could target its missile systems at Ukraine. Imagine this for a second. That is what worries us," Putin said.

Russia has already said it would take "asymmetrical action" should the US deploy radar stations and missile interceptors in former eastern Europe. It has threatened to target both Poland and the Czech Republic with short-range missiles fired from the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

The latest comments suggest Russia will target any former Warsaw pact country that agrees to the Bush administration's plan. The Kremlin has repeatedly complained of Nato's "encroachment" into its back yard.

The US has not yet asked Ukraine to play any role in its defence shield.

Both Yushchenko and Ukraine's new pro-western government, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, have described Nato membership as a strategic goal. But years of anti-Nato Soviet propaganda have left most Ukrainians sceptical and any attempt to join would be deeply unpopular.

Yesterday Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, also derided Washington's "excessive" missile defence plans and dismissed the threat from Iran as non-existent. It would need at least another 10 years to build a long-range missile, he said...

~ Full article ~

 

'Listening to Grasshoppers: Genocide, Denial and Celebration'

" ... Khatchig Mouradian—What was going through your head when you were writing the speech for the commemoration in Istanbul of Hrant Dink’s assassination?

Arundhati Roy—These days, we are going through a kind of psychotic convulsion in India. Genocide and its celebration are in the air. And it’s terrifying for me to watch people celebrating genocide every day. It was at a time when I was very struck by this celebration in India and the denial in Turkey that they asked me to go to Istanbul.

When I landed in Istanbul, I realized that there’s a very big difference between what Armenians, Turks and others could say outside Turkey—where everybody could be very direct about the Armenian genocide—and inside Turkey—where, Hrant Dink, for example, was trying to find a way of saying things in order to continue living. His idea was to speak out, but not to die.

In Istanbul, I spoke with people and I was very concerned not to give the impression that I flew in, made a speech, and flew out leaving everybody else in trouble. I was interested in helping to create an atmosphere where people could begin to talk about the Armenian genocide to each other. After all, that’s the project of the Armenians who are living in Turkey and trying to survive there.

At the same time, I was somebody who is involved quite deeply in issues in India and I didn’t want to be some global intellectual who flies in, makes some superficial statements and then flies out. I wanted to relate the issue to what I knew and what I fought for, and tried to push a little bit more and a little bit more. And this is not a simple thing to do.

K.M.—The story that weaves your lecture together is that of your friend, David Barsamian’s mother, Araxie Barsamian. In an interview, you say, “I think that a story is like the surface of water, and you can take whatever you want from it.” What did you take from the story of Araxie Barsamian?

A.R.—In fact, David happened to be in India just before I went to Turkey and we talked about the issue. It mattered to me that I knew him. I’m not saying that if I didn’t know him I wouldn’t have spoken, but it suddenly became something that was more personal. I was having the discussion with a friend that there are people who talk about politics that is informative and politics that is transformative. These are such silly separations because in Turkey, for example, everybody knows what happened. It’s just that there’s a silence around it and you’re not allowed to say what happened. And when you say it, it becomes transformative in itself. I made my point through the words of David’s mother instead of going and saying, “Look, that bullet that was meant to silence Hrant Dink actually made someone like myself take the trouble to go and read history. Whether I say it and I don’t say it, you and I know what happened, and if you want to maintain the silence, then people here will have to fight with that, as I will have to fight with the celebration around genocide in India.”

This is something that a novel writer does. How you say what you want to say is as important as what you want to say. By telling Araxie Barsamian’s story, the history comes alive. You could say that 1.5 million people were killed or you could say that the grasshoppers arrived in Araxie Barsamian’s village…

[ ... ]

I would like to note that in my readings, one problem I realized is that many scholars who have studied the Armenian genocide in detail—almost all of them—keep on insisting that it was the first genocide of the 20th century and, in asserting that, they deny the other genocides that took place—for example, the genocide against the Herrero people in 1904. So I was also trying to talk about the Armenian genocide without giving the impression that some victims are more worthy than others.

[ ... ]

K.M.—As you point out in your lecture, genocide and gross human rights violations have plagued us for centuries and they continue to do so. What has changed?

A.R.—I don’t think that there’s been that much change in the genocidal impulse. Technology and industrialization have only enabled human beings to kill each other in larger numbers. I talked about the slaughter of 2,000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat in India. It was all on TV.

About three months ago, the killers were caught on camera talking about how they decided how to target the Muslim community, how it was all planned, how the police was involved, how the chief ministers were involved, how they murdered, how they raped. It was actually broadcast on TV and it worked in the favor of that party. The people who voted for them said, “This is what they deserve.” So I actually feel that this notion of the liberal conscience, of human conscience, is a fake notion. Today in India we are on the verge of something terrible. Like I say in the article, the grasshoppers have landed, and there is a kind of shutting down and cutting off of the poor from their resources, herding them off their land and rivers. And people are just watching. Their eyes are open but they are looking the other way. And again and again we think of the fact that in Germany when Jews were being exterminated, people must have been taking their children to piano lessons, violin lessons, worrying about their children’s homework. That kind of absolute lack of conscience is still present today. No amount of appeal to conscience can make any change. The only way disaster can be averted is if the people who are on the receiving end of that can resist. ... "

~ From Of Grasshoppers and Men - An Interview with Arundhati Roy ~

 

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