Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Reasons for War: Major Media Speak Out

" ... highly revealing one-paragraph excerpts of key media articles on the nature of war today. These powerful articles expose the lies, false pretexts and real motivations behind war. ... "


UbuWeb Vu: Kenneth Goldsmith

The very first book was a book of almost concrete poetry, and this is very interesting because this is where UbuWeb really begins. There is a couple in Florida that run something called the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive for Concrete and Visual Poetry based in Miami Beach. They began collecting Russian Constructivists. And when that market heated up and got too hot, they kind of followed the leads of typography from the Russian avant-garde into mid-century moves that were made in concrete poetry and visual poetry. They began collecting this stuff, really at a time when nobody was interested. And they amassed this enormous collection of perhaps fifty thousand pieces of concrete poetry, visual poetry, sound poetry, and text-based works.

As an artist who worked in language, they had bought a piece of mine and invited me down to install it in Miami. This is 1989. I had known about text art in the art world alla Lawrence Wiener, Jenny Holzer, this type of thing, but I had no idea there was this whole other world of poetry that was being used in a visual way. It was called concrete poetry and I knew nothing about it. So going down to meet them in Miami was an absolute eye-opener for me. I was astonished, there was a whole world of visual word-based work I had never known before, and I subsequently became hooked on it. I began trolling used bookstores in New York for little books of concrete poetry of which there were just dozens and dozens. Nobody was interested in this stuff at the time, so I just began making a collection of this stuff through local bookstores, and this in turn leads to UbuWeb.

Alaska village sues over global warming

Lawyers for the Alaska Native coastal village of Kivalina, which is being forced to relocate because of flooding caused by the changing Arctic climate, filed suit in federal court here Tuesday arguing that 5 oil companies, 14 electric utilities and the country's largest coal company were responsible for the village's woes.

The suit is the latest effort to hold companies like BP America, Chevron, Peabody Energy, Duke Energy and the Southern Company responsible for the impact of global warming because they emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases, or, in the case of Peabody, mine and market carbon-laden coal that is burned by others. It accused the companies of creating a public nuisance.

In an unusual move, those five companies and three other defendants — the Exxon Mobil Corporation, American Electric Power and the Conoco Phillips Company — are also accused of conspiracy. “There has been a long campaign by power, coal and oil companies to mislead the public about the science of global warming,” the suit says. The campaign, it says, contributed “to the public nuisance of global warming by convincing the public at large and the victims of global warming that the process is not man-made when in fact it is.”

Kivalina, an Inupiat village of 400 people on a barrier reef between the Chukchi Sea and two rivers, is being buffeted by waves that, in colder times, were blocked by sea ice, the suit says. “The result of the increased storm damage is a massive erosion problem,” it says. “Houses and buildings are in imminent danger of falling into the sea.”

The estimated cost of relocating the village is up to $400 million, the suit says...

~ more... ~

US Air Force blocks access to blogs

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites.  At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new "Cyber Command," took over.

[ ... ]

Stringent regulations, read literally, require Army officers to review each and every item one of his soldiers puts online, in case they leak secrets. And in televised commercials, screensavers and fliers, troops are told that blogging is a major security risk -- even though official sites have proven to leak many, many more secrets. Now there's the Air Force's argument, that blogs aren't legitimate media outlets -- and therefore, shouldn't be read at work.

But this view isn't universally held in the military. Many believe blogs to be a valuable source of information -- and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, at home and abroad. Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. effort in Iraq, has commended military bloggers. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who replaced Petraeus as the head of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, recently wrote (in a blog post, no less) that soldiers should be encouraged to "get onto blogs and [s]end their YouTube videos to their friends and family."

~ more... ~

The Plan: Dick Cheney’s Song of America

" ... The Plan was published in unclassified form most recently under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990s, (pdf) as Cheney ended his term as secretary of defense under the elder George Bush in early 1993, but it is, like “Leaves of Grass,” a perpetually evolving work. It was the controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft of 1992 – from which Cheney, unconvincingly, tried to distance himself – and it was the somewhat less aggressive revised draft of that same year. This June it was a presidential lecture in the form of a commencement address at West Point, and in July it was leaked to the press as yet another Defense Planning Guidance (this time under the pen name of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). It will take its ultimate form, though, as America's new national security strategy – and Cheney et al. will experience what few writers have even dared dream: their words will become our reality.

The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.

The Plan is disturbing in many ways, and ultimately unworkable. Yet it is being sold now as an answer to the “new realities” of the post-September 11 world, even as it was sold previously as the answer to the new realities of the post-Cold War world. For Cheney, the Plan has always been the right answer, no matter how different the questions. ... "

~ more... ~

The Muslim Accomplishments That Weren’t

...BetBasoo: Let me preface my remarks by saying that I do not claim that Muslims have made no accomplishments. Individual Muslims have been successful in the full range of the human scientific and artistic endeavor. But a closer examination of these successes reveals that they came about because these individuals stepped outside of the Muslim realm. For example, today Muslim scientists and scholars are trained in the West. I claim that Islam is not conducive to the pursuit of rational inquiry, and when Islam asserts itself, it borrows, co-opts and ultimately, when time has passed and memory forgotten, claims that these borrowed and co-opted things were originated by Muslims, not by the native cultures that preceded the Muslims.

If something cannot be so expropriated, it is often destroyed. The most recent example was the Taliban's destruction of the 2500 year-old Buddhist statues in Afghanistan . In Iran , the UNESCO world heritage sites, Pasargadae and Persepolis , are threatened by the construction of the Sivand dam, and the Mullahs simply don't care, though they claim the water line will be below these cities, which date back to 560 B.C..

In Iraq , history text books teach that the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians were in fact Arabs -- never mind that these civilizationsexisted a good 5600 years before Arabs/Muslims came into Mesopotamia .

In the Middle East it is nearly impossible to separate Islam from Arabs, they are two sides of the same coin. Hence, if you are an Arab, you must surely be a Muslim, and your accomplishments as well. If you are not a Muslim, then you need to be.

In India , over 3500 Hindu temples have been occupied and converted to Mosques, the most famous being the Taj Mahal. In Kosovo, under the auspices of the UN "peace" keeping force, over 600 Serbian churches and monasteries have been occupied or destroyed by the Muslim Kosovars. Kosovo is the most important religious center for the Serbians.

FP: So how about Muslim claims of accomplishment that aren't real?

BetBasoo: Muslims claim many, many accomplishments we know they had nothing to do with. Arabic numerals? From India . The concept of zero? From Babylonia . Parabolic arches? From Assyria . The much ballyhooed claim of translating the Greek corpus of knowledge into Arabic? It was the Christian Assyrians, who first translated to Syriac, then to Arabic. The first University? Not Al-Azhar in Cairo (988 A.D.), but the School of Nisibis of the Church of the East (350 A.D.), which had three departments: Theology, Philosophy and Medicine. Al-Azhar only teaches Theology.

Speaking of medicine, Muslims will claim that medicine during the Golden Age of Islam, the Abbasid period, was the most advanced in the world. That is correct. But what they don't say is that the medical practitioners were exclusively Christians. The most famous medical family, the Bakhtishu family, Assyrians of the Church of the East, produced seven generations of doctors, who were the official physicians to the Caliphs of Baghdad for nearly 200 years...

more... ~

'The last great illusion of the Republican Party'

" ... how do you communicate to someone the sheer insanity of voting to bomb the f*** out of some distant country while you sit safe and cozy in the Virginia suburbs, evaluating sweetbreads -- just so the world can keep on feeling like the heroic war movies you rock yourself to sleep with on Sunday afternoons?

The answer is you can't. And that is one big reason why John McCain, defying the expectations of almost everyone who watched him last
summer -- myself included -- has risen from the political dead to wrap up the GOP nomination. He's survived because Onward to Victory is the last great illusion the Republican Party has left to sell in this country, even to its own followers. They can't sell fiscal responsibility, they can't sell "values," they can't sell competence, they can't sell small government, they can't even sell the economy. All they have left to offer is this sad, dwindling, knee-jerk patriotism, a promise to keep selling world politics as a McHale's Navy rerun to a Middle America that wants nothing to do with realizing the world has changed since 1946.

The lesson of the McCain campaign is that one should never underestimate America's capacity for self-delusion. Balls-deep in one
of the biggest foreign-policy catastrophes of all time, an arrogant military misadventure destined to make us infamous for a generation
across a dozen cultures, minivan-driving suburban America is still waiting for Bill Holden to make it right by blowing up the Bridge on
the River Kwai -- and returning, tanned and handsome, to get the girl with a mouth full of cool one-liners. ... "

~ From McCain Resurrected ~

Protesting Power - War, Resistance and Law

Review of Francis A. Boyle's book

Global Research, February 28, 2008

Francis A. Boyle is a distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights. From 1988 to 1992, he was a board member of Amnesty International USA. He was a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee. From 1991 to 1993, he was legal advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and currently he's a leading proponent of an effort to impeach George Bush, Dick Cheney and other key administration figures for their crimes of war, against humanity and other grievous violations of domestic and international law. Boyle also lectures widely, writes extensively and authored many books, including his latest one and subject of this review: "Protesting Power - War, Resistance and Law."

Boyle's book is powerful, noble and compelling, and he states its purpose upfront: Today, a "monumental struggle (is being waged) for the heart and soul of (America) and the future of the world...." It matches peacemakers on one side, war makers on the other, and all humanity hanging in the balance. The book provides hope and ammunition. It's a urgent call to action and demonstrates that "civil resistance (is) solidly grounded in international law, human rights (efforts), and the US Constitution." It "can be used to fight back and defeat the legal, constitutional, and humanitarian nihilism of the Bush administration" neocons and their chilling Hobbesian vision - imperial dominance, homeland police state, and permanent "war that won't end in our lifetimes," according to Dick Cheney.

Boyle has the antidote: "civil resistance, international law, human rights, and the US Constitution - four quintessential principles to counter....militarism run amuk." Our choice is "stark and compelling." We must act in our own self-defense "immediately, before humankind exterminates itself in an act of nuclear omnicide." The threat today is dire and real, it demands action, and civil resistance no longer is an option. With survival at stake, it's an obligation.

The Right to Engage in Civil Resistance to Prevent State Crimes

Post-WW II, US foreign policy adopted the political "realism" and "power politics" principles that Hans Morganthau explained in his seminal work on the subject - "Politics among Nations: the Struggle for Power and Peace (1948)." For decades, it was the leading international politics text from a man eminently qualified to produce it and whose experiences under Nazism influenced him.

His cardinal tenet was darkly Hobbesian - that international law and world organizations are "irrelevant" when it comes to conflicts between nations on matters of national interest. Ignore "reality" and perish, but consider the consequences. They've has been disastrous for America, at home and abroad, in a world of our making where life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." No law or justice exists, no sense of right or wrong, no morality, just illusions of what might be, and a "struggle for survival in a state of war" by every nation against all others for one unattainable aim - absolute power and national security at the expense of other states and most people everywhere.

Political "realists" believe that when nations respect international laws and norms and ignore the "iron law" of "power politics," they invite disaster at the hands of aggressors. Boyle believes otherwise and eloquently states it: "Throughout the twentieth century, the promotion of international law, organizations, human rights, and the US Constitution has consistently provided the United States with the best means for reconciling the idealism (and aspirations) of American values....with the realism of world politics and historical conditions."

It can work the way Boyle documented it in his 1999 book, Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations, 1898 - 1922. In it, he offers a comprehensive analysis of US foreign policy achievements through international law and organizations to settle disputes, prevent wars and preserve peace. It included:

-- an obligatory arbitration system for settling disputes between states - the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 1899 that's still operating at The Hague as the oldest international dispute resolution institution;

-- the Permanent Court of International Justice (World Court) in 1922 that was replaced by the International Court of Justice in 1946 after the UN was established in 1945;

-- the codification of important areas of international law in treaty form;

-- promoting arms reduction after relaxing international tensions by legal techniques and institutions; and

-- convoking periodic peace conferences for all internationally recognized states; the League of Nations was established for this purpose and later the United Nations with its functional agencies like the International Labour Organization, WHO, UNESCO, and IAEA. Other affiliated institutions included the IMF, World Bank, GATT, WTO and regional organizations like the OAS, Arab League, African Union, ASEAN, OSCE and EU. To these add NATO, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Pact), SEATO, ANZUS and various bilateral self-defense treaties under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

These organizations should have worked. In practice they don't, and Boyle explains why: compared to America's early "legalist, humanitarian, and constitutionalist approach to international relations, geopolitical (realpolitik) practioners of the Hobbesian" school prevailed - men like Johnson, Kissinger, McNamara, Nixon, Byzezinski, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, GW Bush, his neocon ideologues and countless others. They disdain democracy, constitutional government and their essential principles: commitment to the rule of domestic and international law, human rights, equal justice and peace.

Consider the cost. It's beyond measure and even worse looking back, in spite of all efforts toward conflict resolution. Since the nation's founding, America has been at war with one or more adversaries every year in our history (without exception), and note the consequences:

-- we glorify wars and violence in the name of peace;

-- have the highest domestic homicide rate in the western world by far;

-- our society is called a "rape culture" and three-fourths of all women are victims of some form of violence in their lifetimes, many repeatedly;

-- millions of children are violence or abuse victims and get no help from the state;

-- in a nominal democracy under constitutional law, aggressive wars and domestic violence are normal and commonplace; peace, tranquility and public safety are illusions and so are human rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, and common dignity, and the reason it's so is simple - it benefits the privileged few at the expense of the greater good.

What can be done? Plenty, according to Boyle. "Concerned citizens" and people of conscience are obligated to use our available tools - domestic and international law and human rights as "checks and balances against" government abuses of power in the conduct of domestic and foreign policies. Otherwise, administrations can run amuck and literally get away with murder and other major crimes of war, against humanity, peace and the general welfare.

Consider the alternative and what can be gained. By respecting the law, human rights and other nations' sovereignty, US administrations could defend the nation, conduct its foreign and domestic affairs, and achieve its goals successfully without wars, violence and disdain for the common good. At worst under an anti-Hobbesian construct, short-term objectives might be sacrificed in part for more vital ones in the long run, and isn't that what survival is all about.

At his book's end, Boyle quotes Hans Morgenthau's comments in 1979, just months before his death, and it's appropriate to mention them here. Boyle asked him "what he thought about the future of international relations" at the time Jimmy Carter was President. His response: "Future, what future?....In my opinion the world is moving ineluctably toward a third world war - a strategic nuclear war. I do not believe that anything can be done to prevent it. The international system is simply too unstable to survive for long." Arms reduction treaties are mere stopgaps and will be unable to "stop the momentum."

If Morganthau is right, the choice is stark and clear. Continue our present path and perish or unite at the grassroots to change an ugly, unsustainable system and let humankind survive. There's no middle ground, time may be short, and who knows if enough still remains.

Yet Boyle eschews that notion and dedicates his book to hope through resistance. We must try and use our available tools - the Constitution; UN Charter; Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Hague Regulations; Geneva Conventions; Supreme (and lower) Court decisions; US Army Field Manual 27-10; The Law of Land Warfare (1956); and our own profound commitment to resist and prevail whatever the odds and consequences. Apathy isn't an option.

History, moreover, shows these tactics work when enough people commit to them. They ended the Vietnam war, and, in the 1980s, anti-nuclear and anti-war resisters forced the Reagan and GHW Bush administrations to conclude the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991.

Conditions today are far more grave under neocon rule that disdains the law and all binding peace and international arms reduction treaties. It:

-- claims the right to develop new type nuclear weapons, not eliminate the ones Morganthau believed will destroy us;

-- ignores the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and intends to test new weapons developed;

-- ended Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty protection;

-- rescinded and subverted the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention;

-- spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined, and it's getting worse; on February 4, the largest ever defense budget since WW II, in inflation-adjusted dollars, was proposed for fiscal 2009 at a time the nation has no adversaries, should be at peace, but chooses wars without end instead;

-- disdains a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to prevent additional nuclear bombs to be added to present stockpiles already dangerously too high; and

-- claims the right to wage preventive wars under the doctrine of "anticipatory self-defense" using first strike nuclear weapons against any other state. Morganthau would say I warned you.

Boyle says civil resisters like the ones he testifies for represent hope. They're "the archetypical American heros" whose names few people know - Richard Sauder, Jeff Paterson, David Mejia, Ehren Watada, Kathy Kelly, Daniel Berrigan, his late brother Philip and many other courageous, dedicated people for peace and equal justice. They risk their lives and freedom for the greater good, pay hugely for it, and Ramzy Clark once saluted them saying: "Our jails are filling up with saints." We have a constitutional right and personal duty to support them, join them, and resist our government's criminal acts. They must be stopped or the alternative may be WW III and the end of humanity.

Constitutional law supports resistance (not disobedience that violates the law). The First Amendment protects the right to "peaceably....assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It doesn't have to be lawful, just peaceable, so it's incumbent to resist when governments act criminally and endanger public safety and welfare, and the law is on our side. Resisters have the same statutory and common-law defenses as criminal defendants - defense of self, others, necessity, choice of evils, prevention of crime, execution of public duty, citizen's arrest, prevention of a public catastrophe, and other defenses. If not us, who then?

Federal courts abdicated their power and defer to presidential lawlessness under doctrines of "political question, state secrets, standing, judicial restraint, (and) national security." Congress as well has power, but won't use it. If it did, imagine how constructively it could exercise its appropriation authority under Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution saying: "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law...."

Congress alone is empowered to do it. It controls the federal budget that includes defense and supplementary military spending. Foreign wars will end and new ones not begun if Congress won't fund them. It's how Vietnam ended. Congress stopped funding it under the Church-Case June 1973 amendment that cut off appropriations after August 15. Legislative power is the same today, but post-9/11, Congress abdicated its authority and defers to Bush administration demands on nearly everything, including aggressive foreign wars.

If the courts and Congress won't act, the public must and if charged and prosecuted are protected under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the right of trial by a jury of peers. Boyle explains that the "American criminal jury system (ultimately may be) the last bastion of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the US Constitution" against a criminal administration and whichever one succeeds it if it continues lawless policies.

From his experience, Boyle is hopeful because when American juries understand government crimes, "they usually refused to convict" civil resisters trying to stop them. Two precedent-setting 1985 cases stand out as examples: People v. Jarka and Chicago v. Streeter. In both cases, defendants used a common-law defense called "necessity" and were acquitted. They were absolved of criminal liability because their actions caused less injury than the greater one they hoped to avoid. Winning these cases makes them applicable to more serious ones like crimes of war, and against humanity and peace.

Ahead, achieving victories or hung juries is crucial to preserving our constitutional system under threat. A strong message will be sent that ordinary people can confront government crimes and prevail. As such, we have to try. Surrender or apathy aren't options. The stakes are far too great.

Defending Civil Resisters: Philosophy, Strategy, and Tactics

In an age of lawless government, resisters represent hope. They're the "sheriffs," government officials the "outlaws," and it highlights the importance of seeking counsel and who to choose. The person must believe in the accused and their cause and work cooperatively with an international law expert to introduce these principles into the proceedings as evidence.

Many times, international law is the only defense, there's plenty to draw on, and Boyle believes when a peace-loving, law-abiding jury hears compelling evidence citing it, "there is almost no way the government will be able to convict" resisters on trial. The jury will either acquit, be hung, or charges will be dismissed before or during trial. It's thus clear that a successful defense requires a jury trial because too many judges support state authority and may deny evidence and convict. That's particularly true for federal judges who are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and over two-thirds on the bench now come from the extremist Federalist Society.

Proper representation and effective courtroom proceedings are crucial and follow from civil resistance acts that at times means spending time in jail. A good lawyer's job and Boyle's book are to prevent it, and he devotes considerable space explaining how. It begins with a good lawyer. After that comes:

-- a proper defense that aims to win or at least get a hung jury;

-- introducing international law as evidence and relating it to traditional common-law, statutory, procedural, and constitutional defenses that usually include one or more of the following: defense of self, others, property, necessity, prevention of a crime or public catastrophe, citizen's arrest, and other legal choices; international law is part of domestic law under Article VI of the Constitution (the supremacy clause);

Article VI also includes treaties as the "supreme law of the land;" so are Supreme Court decisions like The Paquete Habana (1900) that stated "International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction...." In United States v. Belmont (1937) and United States v. Pink (1942), the Court ruled that the supremacy clause applies to international executive agreements that don't receive formal Senate advice and consent (the Senate does not ratify treaties as such);

US presidents take an oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution...." International treaties and agreements are included. In addition, Article II, Section 3 requires the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised;"

-- introducing the burden of proof in affirmative defenses to force the prosecution to prove guilt by disproving this type defense; the idea is to create a reasonable doubt about criminal intent;

-- distinguishing "specific intent crimes" (that many resisters are charged with) from general intent ones;

-- defending the crime of unlawful "trespass" by arguing it was done to uphold domestic and international law to prevent the commission of a crime;

-- establishing a pattern of criminal government behavior to justify resistance against it; it may include but not be limited to: Nuremberg crimes against peace, humanity, war crimes, breaches of Geneva, Hague, the UN Charter, genocide, torture and other crimes including inchoate ones, such as planning, preparing or aiding and abetting them;

-- using appropriate international criminal law standards in the US Army Field Manual 27-10 (that incorporates Nuremberg Principles, Judgment and the Charter) and The Law of Land Warfare (1956); the Field Manual paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished; paragraph 499 defines a "war crime;" paragraph 500 refers to conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes; paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime; and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an "act of state;" and so forth;

-- pro se resisters (representing themselves without counsel) must take special care to prepare a proper defense with one aim - to convince one juror of their innocence; these and other considerations are vital to an effective defense when it's you v. the state and judges may be hostile. Resistance, however, is crucial because in Boyle's words: "Today is our Nuremberg moment!"

Trident on Trial

In this and succeeding chapters, Boyle reviews cases in which he testified pro bono for the defense. In each one, he explains the issue, who was on trial, followed by a summation of the crucial portions of his testimony that are text book examples of a proper and effective defense.

The Trident II strategic nuclear missile submarine is the first example and is described as follows: it's the "most hideous and nefarious weapon of mass destruction (WMD) ever devised" because of its unimaginable destructive power. The US Navy deploys 14 Tridents, the UK four others, and just one of them has enough nuclear kilotonnage to destroy much of planet earth and maybe all of it from nuclear fallout - around 270 or more times the destructive power of the low-yield bombs that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Further, NAVSTAR satellite communications give Delta V multiple warhead MIRVs on board pinpoint accuracy to make Trident ideal for an offensive near-omnicidal first-strike capability. At patrol depth, the extremely low frequency (ELF) system is the only way to communicate with these submarines. For that reason, Plowshares defendant George Ostensen (in 1987) engaged in civil resistance against the Ashland, Wisconsin ELF facility and was charged with two counts of "sabotage." He faced a possible 40 year prison sentence if found guilty as charged.

Boyle testified for him and used the transcript as a text for other Plowshares resisters to contest similar charges against them. It paid off with two outright acquittals in 1996 and another in a 1999 Scotland case because juries were convinced that ELF/Trident II was as dangerous as described above and thus criminal under well-established international and domestic law principles. These verdicts led to a "stunning" victory when the Navy announced it would shutter its Wisconsin and Michigan ELF systems in September 2004. "Civil resistance had triumphed over the Trident II," but these weapons are still deployed and threaten all humanity by their existence.

Brief excerpts of Boyle's testimony in his Ostensen defense follow. The laws he cites are mentioned above so comments on them are brief and not repeated for succeeding chapters.

In Ostensen and other testimonies, Boyle explains domestic and international laws relevant to the cases:

-- the US Constitution; the supremacy clause under Article VI stating that all forms of international treaties and agreements to which the US is a signatory are binding on "all American citizens, government officials, (the military and) courts of law;"

-- The Paquette Habana (1900) Supreme Court decision affirming that international law is US law;

-- The Law of Naval Warfare (1955) and The Law of Land Warfare (1956) both state that international laws bind all members of the US military, government officials and American citizens; they clearly say that international law limits the threat or use of nuclear weapons because these weapons are so deadly;

-- the Navy, Army and Air Force manuals incorporate the Nuremberg Principles as binding US law; they include crimes of war, against peace and humanity as well as planning, preparing, or waging an aggressive war; also applicable is conspiracy, incitement, and/or aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; Nuremberg also rejected the defense of superior orders; the UN General Assembly unanimously approved these Principles as recognized international law in Resolution 95(I) in December 1946;

-- the Army, Navy and Air Force field manuals are issued to all members of the military today who are told they are fully accountable for any Nuremberg violations;

-- an outstanding DOD policy states that nuclear weapons are to be developed according to international law requirements;

-- Jimmy Carter's Presidential Directive 59 involves the targeting of nuclear weapons as first-strike options; at the time of the Ostensen case, no such official first-strike policy existed; that changed under the December 2001 Nuclear Policy Review; it affirmed the right to declare and wage future preventive wars using first- strike nuclear weapons; Trident II/Delta V submarines are nuclear first-stike WMDs; so is the ELF communication system;

-- the first-strike option is clearly illegal under Nuremberg Principles as well as the 1907 Hague Regulations that require an ultimatum or formal declaration of war; no nation has the "right" to affirm a policy of "deterrence" to threaten or destroy another one, let alone all humanity by nuclear weapons; that's very clear under Nuremberg.

The Constitutionality of President George HW Bush's War against Iraq on Trial (The Gulf War)

Boyle testified at the trial of Marine Corps Corporal Jeffrey Paterson. Over time, his military obligations increasingly conflicted with his moral beliefs. Things came to a head when he was told he'd likely be sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the military buildup prior to the Gulf War. On grounds of conscientious objection, he applied to be discharged and was refused even though the law states:

"To qualify for discharge from military service as a conscientious objector, an applicant must establish that:

(1) he or she is opposed to war in any form - Gillette v. United States (1971);

(2) his or her objection is founded in deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs - Welsh v. United States (1970); and

(3) his or her convictions are sincere - Witmer v. United States (1955)."

Marine Corps Order 1306.16E requires that reasonable efforts be made to assign minimally-conflicting duties while an application is being processed. Nonetheless, Paterson was ordered to deploy to Saudi Arabia on August 29, 1990. He refused to go, was arrested, incarcerated, then freed pending court-martial.

Paterson has an honored distinction. He was the first military or civil resister to GHW Bush's "unconstitutional and criminal" Gulf War. He was charged under article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) alleging his refusal to muster to deploy to the Gulf. On November 1, his lawyer filed a motion to dismiss three charges on grounds they were illegal. A special hearing was then held on November 19 before a Marine Corps judge. He ruled for Paterson by concluding that the government bore the burden of proof that must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

It was "a great victory for peace, justice, international law, the US Constitution, and civil resistance." On December 5, 1990, Paterson was administratively released from the Marine Corps with an "other than honorable discharge." His case was precedent-setting, "of great historic significance," and it's applicable to all cases of military and civil resistance against government crimes, including waging wars of aggression.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, it's the law of the land under the supremacy clause, and its Chapter VII empowers the Security Council alone to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression," and, if necessary, take military or other action to "restore international peace and stability." It lets a nation use force only under two conditions:

-- under authorization by the Security Council; or

-- under Article 51 that permits the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In addition, both houses of Congress, not the president, have exclusive power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution that's known as the war powers clause. Nonetheless, that procedure was followed only five times in our history, it was last used for WW II in 1941, and Congress addressed the issue in 1973 when it passed the War Powers Resolution.

It requires the president to get congressional authorization for war or a resolution passed within 60 days of initiating hostilities. It also states in Section 4(a)(3): "In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced -- (3) in numbers which substantially enlarge the United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, setting forth" necessitating circumstances, a request for "constitutional and legislative authority," and the "estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."

Congress gave GHW Bush this authority on January 14, 1991. It did not give it to George W. Bush, yet he went to war anyway in violation of a host of laws, domestic and international. On January 15, 1991, Congressman Henry Gonzales, Ramsey Clark and Francis Boyle launched a national campaign to impeach GHW Bush. Five articles of impeachment were prepared.

They apply as well today to GW Bush's illegal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and Boyle states why as follows: "the House can, should, and must impeach President Bush for commencing this war, lying about this war, and threatening more wars. All that is needed is one member of the House of Representatives with courage, integrity, principles, and a safe seat" to do it. If not, the alternative is dire - wars without end, a homeland police state and the end of the republic that's already on life support.

In testifying for Corporal Paterson, Boyle reviewed the relevant laws already covered above. He also cited pertinent Supreme Court decisions going back to Little v. Barreme (1804) and Mitchell v. Harmony (1851) as well as Colonel William Winthrop's Military Law and Precedents (1880, 1886 and revised and enlarged in 1920).

Winthrop specifically states that soldiers are obligated to disobey illegal orders defined as follows: ones unauthorized by law or that are clearly illegal acts. In the Paterson case, there was no authorized law, and he had no duty to obey a clearly unlawful order.

President Clinton's Invasion of Haiti and the Laws of War

Noam Chomsky believes that every US president since WW II could be impeached because "they've all been either outright war criminals or involved in serious war crimes." Bill Clinton was one of them. In November 1993, he sent troops to Somalia, supposedly for humanitarian intervention, got no congressional authorization, and killed about 10,000 Somalis. He was then complicit in the 1994 Rwandan massacres (involving no US troops), and on September 19, 1994 again acted illegally - he invaded Haiti without congressional authority and violated the Constitution's war powers clause.

The 10th US Army Mountain Division from Fort Drum, New York was part of the force sent. Capt. Lawrence P. Rockwood II was a fourth generation soldier and career military officer with 15 years service. Yet he jeopardized his safety, career and personal liberty to aid incarcerated Haitians.

He learned about horrific human rights violations inside Haiti's prisons under its military dictator. They were especially bad at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, he informed his superiors, and then pressured them to take control and stop the abuses. Nothing was done, so Rockwell acted on his own as the US Army Field Manual 27-10 and international law require.

On September 30, he went to the prison alone, inspected conditions inside, saw firsthand how bad they were, and compiled a list of prisoners' names to deter their deaths or "disappearance." Subsequently, he was court-martialed in May 1995 and faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of multiple charges.

In fact, he was convicted of five specifications on three charges under the UCMJ, including:

-- failure to report for duty under article 86;

-- disrespect for a superior officer under article 89;

-- willful disobedience of superior orders under article 90; and

-- conduct unbecoming an officer under article 133.

-- He was acquitted of two specifications of an additional charge of failing to obey an order and dereliction of duties under article 92.

The court abstained from imposing a prison sentence and instead dismissed Rockwood from the army with forfeiture of pay. In so doing, the military jury affirmed his defense that he acted properly under international law to stop grievous abuses inside Haiti's prison. He left the army "an acknowledged and eternal hero to the worldwide human rights movement."

Appearing for the defense at his trial was an expert witness, an authentic human rights hero in his own right - Hugh Thompson. As a Vietnam helicopter pilot, he saved lives at the infamous My Lai massacre by threatening to kill Lt. Calley and his soldiers if they didn't cease slaughtering innocent civilians. Thirty years later, he won a medal for it, and he told the court that Rockwood also deserved one as for his heroic act. He fought for human rights and won, and Boyle relates his testimony for him to laws of war and human rights violations applicable to the Bush administration's Iraq war, its oppressive occupation, and the actions of its puppet government in Baghdad for which Washington is fully accountable under international law.

It began with an illegal March 19, 2003 "decapitation strike" against Saddam Hussein in violation of a 48 hour ultimatum he'd been given to leave the country with his sons. That crime and trying to assassinate a country's leader are also illegal under earlier cited international laws.

Next came "shock and awe," Baghdad was targeted, and Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter was grievously violated. It defines war crimes to include the "wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." Fallujah and other Iraqi cities were similarly victimized (as were Afghan targets) in spite of a May 8, 2003 joint US-UK pledge to the president of the Security Council: that Coalition states "will strictly abide by their obligations under international law, including those relating to the essential humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq." Instead, laws are ignored and Iraqis continue to suffer grievously under an illegal, brutish occupation.

It includes the widespread use of torture that became de facto US policy after George Bush's September 17, 2001 "finding" authorizing CIA to kill, capture and detain "Al Qaeda" members anywhere in the world and rendition them to secret black site prisons for interrogation, presumed to include torture. Soon after on January 25, 2002, White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions "quaint and obsolete," and it was all downhill from there to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram in Afghanistan and countless other torture prison sites. Included also is a newly revealed secret Guantanamo one called "Camp 7" for "high-value" detainees. It's gruesome to imagine the barbarity inside under a president claiming "Unitary Executive" powers to do as he pleases outside the law.

In his testimony, Boyle again explained relevant laws that were covered above. US governments and the Pentagon willfully ignore them, George Bush flaunts them, and accountable civilian and military officials to the highest levels are guilty under domestic and international laws of crimes of war and against humanity and peace.

President George W. Bush's War against Iraq on Trial

US Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia was the first Iraq War veteran to refuse further involvement in the war as a matter of conscience after serving in it from April to October 2003. Following leave on return, he failed to rejoin his National Guard unit and filed for discharge as a conscientious objector on grounds that the invasion and occupation were illegal and immoral. The army, in turn, deliberately overcharged him with desertion to send a strong message to other military personnel that they, too, would be severely punished if they acted similarly.

Mejia's May 2004 court-martial was a kangaroo-court show trial to drive home the point. It was widely broadcast and reported to all military personnel worldwide on internal Pentagon television, radio and newspaper outlets. Acting improperly, the military judge disallowed prepared defense testimony under the army's Field Manual 27-10, the Constitution and established international law.

Mejia was found guilty, a year in prison was imposed, and Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, its highest honor. Only after the verdict was Boyle allowed to testify during the sentencing phase - but under strict limitations imposed by the (hanging) judge. Again, he cited relevant domestic, international and military law, reviewed crimes of war and against humanity under them, and explained the culpability of commanders and government officials at the highest levels for abusing and torturing prisoners.

Other military resisters came after Mejia. One was First Lt. Ehren Watada in June 2006 when he refused to deploy to Iraq and publicly stated why - "as an officer of honor and integrity, (he could not participate in a war that was) "manifestly illegal....morally wrong (and) a horrible breach of American law." By his courageous act, Watada became the first US military officer to face court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq. He was charged with:

-- one specification under UCMJ article 87 - missing movement;

-- two specifications under article 99 - contempt toward officials (for making public comments about George Bush); and

-- three specifications under article 133 - conduct unbecoming an officer.

If convicted on all charges, Watada faced possible dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and seven years in prison. A military equivalent of a grand jury convened on August 17, 2006 to inquire into charges and decide if they were justified. Watada called three expert witnesses in his defense, and chose them well:

-- former UN Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator (1997 - 1998) Denis Halliday who resigned under protest because he was "instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide (and already) killed well over one million individuals, children and adults;"

-- US Army Colonel Ann Wright who resigned her commission as a foreign service officer in the State Department in March 2003 to protest a "war of aggression (in) violat(ion) of international law;" and

-- distinguished Professor Francis Boyle, international law and human rights expert, activist and author of this and many other books on these topics.

On August 22, the Army reported on the proceding and recommended all charges be referred to a general court-martial. It began in February under very constricted rules - denying a First Amendment defense and disallowing one questioning the legality of the war. However, legality issues were impossible to exclude, they directly related to charges brought, and the prosecution introduced them at trial. In addition, Watada firmly stated before testifying that he refused to deploy because of the war's illegality.

Unable to pressure him not to so testify, the presiding judge declared a mistrial. He'd lost control of the proceeding, knew Watada was on solid ground, and had to prevent his evidence from being introduced to avoid the embarrassing possibility of an acquittal on one or all charges. If it happened, the war's illegality would have been exposed and its continuation jeopardized.

Under the Fifth Amendment "double jeopardy" clause, Watada cannot be retried on the same charges. It states that no person shall be "subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." Watada's triumph by mistrial was a powerful tribute to his convictions and redoubtable spirit. It's also an inspiration to civil resisters and all members of the military to follow in his courageous footsteps.

Boyle explains the urgency in his final paragraph that's a powerful message for everyone: The causes of both world wars "hover like the sword of Damocles over the heads of all humanity." Civil resistance is our only hope "to prevent WW III and an (inevitable) nuclear holocaust....Toward that end this book has been written." Read it and act. Apathy isn't an option.

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

~ Link ~

Armageddon is nigh! Word from conservative supporters

" ... The only question is "When?"

Author's note: This article is dedicated to explaining why I believe two billion people will die in the next 12 months. Can I guarantee the time frame? No. Could it be 24 to 36 months? Possibly. But, in my opinion, the most likely time for the fulfillment of this ominous prophecy of the annihilation of one-third of the human race is the next 12 months.

The prophecy hits you in the face like a ton of bricks! "And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for TO SLAY THE THIRD PART OF MEN." (Revelation 9:15)My first reaction wasthat can't really be what the prophecy says! To slay the third part of men? That would be two billion people dead! Surely not!I checked the Greek. Sure enoughone-third of mankind. I checked several other translationsone-third of the human race; one-third of all the people on earth; one-third of humanity. They all said the same thing! A WAR IS JUST AHEAD THAT WILL KILL TWO BILLION HUMAN BEINGS!

[ ... ]

Within the next 12 months?

According to the biblical prophetic timeline given in scripture, four major prophetic fulfillments will occur at approximately the same time.
The international community's adoption of a peace plan for the Middle East

The building of Israel's temple on the Temple Mount

Preparations being made for the implementation of the mark of the beast

The Euphrates River War

If we can demonstrate that all four of these prophetic developments are occurring right now, then it becomes obvious that the time for the Euphrates River War has arrived!

[ ... ]

How close are we to the building of the Third Temple?

For many years, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem has been preparing the furniture and the utensils of the temple in anticipation of the time when the temple will be rebuilt. Within the last two years, the Institute has announced that these preparations are now complete.On October 13, 2004, the Jewish Sanhedrin was reborn after being disbanded for 1,600 years. The Sanhedrin was Israel's supreme court in biblical times. It was the Sanhedrin that put Jesus and many of the apostles on trial.At the Sanhedrin's monthly meeting in June of 2005, they decided it was time to begin the rebuilding of the temple. Since the Israeli government does not allow Jewish religious activity on the Temple Mount, it was decided that the temple would be built off-site, in the same way that Solomon's temple was built off-site and then assembled on the Temple Mount. The decision was made to prefabricate the building of the temple for quick assembly once permission is granted by the government to construct it.On March 22, 2007, an article appeared in the Religion News Service announcing the Sanhedrin's plan to offer a Passover Sacrifice. They planned to sacrifice sheep on the Temple Mount on the day before the Passover, which was to start at sundown April 2. "If the government will not resist, we will do it," said Rabbi Dov Stein, a member of the Sanhedrin.The Sanhedrin bought a herd of 12 sheep, 110-150 pounds each, from a farm in southern Israel. "Anyone wanting to eat of the sacrifice can pay seven shekels ($1.67) for an 8-10 gram slice, the minimum required by Jewish law," Stein said.The only thing standing between Israel and the prophesied rebuilding of her temple is an agreement on the status of the Temple Mount, which the Roadmap for Peace calls for.

Preparations for the mark of the beast

Preparations for the mark of the beast must take place in the first three and one-half years of the final seven, since the mark will be implemented during the reign of the Antichrist, which takes place during the last three and a half years.The prophecy states: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Revelation 13:16-17Economic sanctions are the favorite tool of the United Nations against those states that will not submit to the edicts of the world community. When sanctions are levied against a nation, as is now being done to Iran, the member nations of the UN agree to not trade with that nation. The goal is to create such economic pressure that the offending nation will submit to the will of the world government structure.This same practice of sanctions will be used by the world government during the great tribulation. However, it will not only be used against nations, but also against individuals. The Antichrist will control the people of the world during the great tribulation by forcing every person on earth to worship him (pledge allegiance to him). Those who do will be given a mark or a number permitting them to participate in the economy of the world. Those who refuse will be sanctioned economically by denying them the "privilege" of buying and selling. Only since the invention of the computer and the birth of the Internet has such a system of worldwide economic control been possible. ... "

~ From Two Billion Will Die! ~

Bukowski's home officially a landmark

A Dirty Old Man's Old House Gets Its Plaque

Yesterday the LA City Council gave its blessing to the landmarking of a complex of bungalows that include the one where cult writer Charles Bukowski lived from 1963-1972. Until the current action, the buildings were set to be torn down for condos. Known for his books that looked to the seedy side of L.A. for their inspiration, Bukowski died in 1994 after a long life of struggles, prolific writing, and very hard living. To commemorate the landmarking, the tour company Esotouric will run a special memorial edition of its Haunts Of A Dirty Old Man tour on March 9. The five-hour trip heads to such Bukowski must-dos as his favorite liquor store, the Pink Elephant, the post office where he worked for most of his life, locations he wrote about in Barfly, and other places that were part of his "great passions: writing, screwing, and Los Angeles"...

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Poet Bukowski's home now an LA landmark

The modest bungalow that hard-drinking poet Charles Bukowski once called home has joined the Hollywood sign and City Hall as a protected civic landmark.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the designation of the East Hollywood home and the bungalows that surround it as a cultural-historic monument in a consent vote with no opposition.

"He's one of Los Angeles' most famous writers and characters in general," said Lauren Everett, a fan of the late writer who led the landmarking effort.

The adobe-coloured one-storey house, where Bukowski lived between 1963 and 1972, "is just as much a part of history as the Bradbury Building or the Central Market or any other building that people revere," she said.

But not everyone was thrilled to see the home landmarked. The poet's widow, Linda Lee Bukowski, said she did not think her husband would have appreciated seeing a fuss made over the house he rented.

"He was not the kind of person whose ego needed a large edifice in his memorium," she said.

Bukowski said she was sickened by earlier proposals that the house serve as a residence for writers and artists.

"That would be repulsive to Hank," she said, using the writer's nickname.

"It would be against all his natural human ways to have little writers and poets in bungalows together, little Bukowskis running around."

Bukowski, whose books include "Post Office," "Factotum" and the poetry anthology "Love is a Dog From Hell," died in of leukemia at 73 in 1994...

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The Beatnik Questionnaire

Where do you live: Squaresville or Beatnik Boro? Sunnyville or Crazyville?

Find out if you are a Beatnik

Take the Questionnaire

Earliest-Known Recording of Allen Ginsberg’s "Howl" Found in Reed College Archives

" ... On a February night in 1956, Allen Ginsberg stood in front of a group of students in a dormitory lounge at Reed College and read from a manuscript that a few months later would be published as Howl and Other Poems. “Howl” is Ginsberg's most famous and controversial poem, and a seminal work of the Beat Generation. The book sparked censorship debates that are credited with broadening First Amendment protections.

The February 1956 recording at Reed was duly labeled, cataloged, and then overlooked in the college's library for more than 50 years. Literary scholar John Suiter rediscovered the tape last summer while researching a biography of poet Gary Snyder (Reed Class of 1951, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry); Snyder and Ginsberg were on a hitch-hiking trip to the Pacific Northwest at the time the tape was made and spent February 13-14 on campus giving poetry readings. Suiter concludes in a forthcoming article in the Reed alumni magazine that this is the earliest-known recording of Ginsberg reading “Howl.” On the recording, Ginsberg reads to the conclusion of Part I, but ends before completing Part II, saying, “I don't really feel like reading any more. I just sorta' haven't got any kind of steam.”

[ ... ]

The pristine recording of “Howl” caught on tape that night at Reed differs in numerous ways from the legendary first public reading of the poem at San Francisco's Six Gallery in October 1955. It predates by approximately five weeks the previous earliest-known recording of “Howl,” made at the Town Hall Theatre in Berkeley on March 18, 1956.

The historic find at Reed provides insight into Ginsberg's writing process and opens a window on the Beats before they were well-known, with Ginsberg joking with his student audience about “corrupting the youth,” and commenting about the relationship of “Howl” to the jazz rhythms of Lester Young. ... "

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Listen to the recording here

Russia boosts defense budget by 20%

Russia will increase its defense budget by 20 percent to some 1 trillion rubles in 2008, Deputy Defense Minister Lyubov Kudelina said on Tuesday.

The military budget will reach 959.6 billion rubles (about 39 billion U.S. dollars) this year, accounting for some 16 percent of the national budget.

"More than 80 percent of the ministry's expenditures will cover national defense, while 20 percent will cover social needs," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Kudelina as telling military attaches accredited in Moscow.

The national defense expenditures include material and technical support to troops, procurements of armaments and military hardware, research and development and military construction projects, she said.

Russia will annually increase the budget in the 2008-2010 period, she said, noting the defense budget will stand at 1.06 trillion rubles (about 43 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009 and 1.19 trillion rubles (about 49 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010.

Moscow, amid arrays of disputes with the West, flexed its military muscle in recent years backed by a booming economy. It started building of new type of submarines, fighter jets and resumed strategic bomber patrol over world oceans last year.

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Investigating the failure to protect Mahatma Gandhi from his fascist killers

It is indeed astonishing that even after a lapse of sixty years there should still be ambivalence about the cold-blooded killing of the greatest human being of our times of whom Einstein said: “"Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth." Rather, it would be unsustainable and totally presumptious to raise an issue that there can be two views of the cold and calulated conspiracy which led to the assassination of the Father of the Nation by diehard fundamentalists nurtured by the RSS.

I had an occasion to play a coincidental role in the background procees leading to the appointment of the Kapur Commission in way back in1965. When Gopal Godse was released after serving his life sentence his homecoming was celebrated by Satyanarayana function at Pune in 1965 wherein shri G.V. Ketkar, editor of Tarun Bharat made a revelation that Nathuram Godse used to discuss with him for a few months before the assasination of Mahatma Gandhi his plans to do so and that he tried to dissuade him. This revelation caused quite a furore. I immediately wrote to the then Chairman of the Gandhi Memorial Fund, Mr R.R. Diwakar requesting him to draw the attention of the Government to this scandalous revelation.

[ ... ]

There has long existed a strong suspicion, ever since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, that RSS cadres have infiltrated various administrative departments in the country. This fact was also noted by Vallabhbhai Patel when the RSS was banned in the wake of the Mahatma's assassination. Describing the antecedents of the conspiracy to murder the Mahatma and the lack of security despite the bomb explosion at a meeting that Gandhi was addressing in Delhi on January 20, 1948, Gandhi's personal secretary, Pyarelal observes in Mahatma Gandhi: the Last Phase (1958):

"What, however, surprises one, is that in spite of the definite and concrete information of which the authorities were in possession, they should have failed to trace and arrest the conspirators and frustrate their plan. The failure was an index of the extent of the rot that had permeated many branches of the services, not excluding the police. In fact later it was brought to light that the RSS organisation had ramifications even in the government departments and many police officials, not to mention the rank and file, gave their sympathy and even active help to those engaged in RSS activities… A letter (to) Sardar Patel after the assassination of Gandhiji from a young man, who according to his own statement had been gulled into joining the RSS organisation but was later disillusioned, described how members of the RSS at some places had been instructed beforehand to tune in their radio sets on the fateful Friday for the "good news". After the news, sweets were distributed in RSS circles in several places… The rot was so insidious that only the supreme sacrifice could arrest or remove it" (p. 756).

If the poisonous rot of RSS ideology ran so deep at the dawn of India's freedom, one can only shudder at its hydra-headed extent and its cancerous damage to the body politic today.

[ ... ]

Inspiration for the RSS cadres and their paramilitary training was derived from Benito Mussolini's fascist paramilitary groups, the Blackshirts, after RSS mentor and founder, BS Moonje visited the Italian dictator in 1931. As detailed in Marzia Casolari's article, "Hindutva's foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence" (Economic and Political Weekly, January 22, 2000):

"To understand militant Hinduism, one must examine its domestic roots as well as foreign influence. In the 1930s Hindu nationalism borrowed from European fascism to transform 'different' people into 'enemies'. Leaders of militant Hinduism repeatedly expressed their admiration for authoritarian leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler and for the fascist model of society. This influence continues to the present day. This paper presents archival evidence on the would-be collaborators."

As Marzia Casolari notes: "Defining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and, in general, the organisations of militant Hinduism as undemocratic, with authoritarian, paramilitary, radical, violent tendencies and a sympathy for fascist ideology and practice, has been a major concern for many politically oriented scholars and writers. ... "

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The Oil Factor In Kosovo Independence

On February 17, Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared its independence. Not surprisingly it was instantly recognized as a state by the U.S., Germany, Britain and France. With 4203 square miles area, Kosovo may be a tiny territory but in the great game of oil politics it holds great importance which is in inverse proportion to its size.

Kosovo does not have oil but its location is strategic as the trans-Balkan pipeline - known as AMBO pipeline after its builder and operator the US-registered Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Corporation - will pass through it.

The pipeline will pump Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port of Burgas via Macedonia to the Albanian port of Vlora, for transport to European countries and the United States. Specifically, the 1.1 billion dollar AMBO pipeline will permit oil companies operating in the Caspian Sea to ship their oil to Rotterdam and the East Coast of the USA at substantially less cost than they are experiencing today.

When operational by 2011, the pipeline will become a part of the region's critical East-West corridor infrastructure which includes highway, railway, gas and fiber optic telecommunications lines. This pipeline will bring oil directly to the European market by eliminating tanker traffic through the ecologically sensitive waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

In 2000, the United States Government's Trade and Development Agency financed a feasibility study of pipeline which updated and enlarged the project's original feasibility study dating from early 1996. Brown & Root Energy Services, a wholly-owned British subsidiary of Halliburton completed the original feasibility study for this project.

The US Trade and Development Agency's paper published May 2000, which assesses that the pipeline is a US strategic interest. According to the paper, the pipeline will provide oil and gas to the US market worth $600m a month, adding that the pipeline is necessary because the oil coming from the Caspian sea will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus.

The project is necessary, according to a paper, because the oil coming from the Caspian sea "will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus as a shipping lane". The scheme, the agency notes, will "provide a consistent source of crude oil to American refineries", "provide American companies with a key role in developing the vital east-west corridor", "advance the privatisation aspirations of the US government in the region" and "facilitate rapid integration" of the Balkans "with western Europe".

The pipeline itself, the agency says, has also been formally supported "since 1994". The first feasibility study, backed by the US, was conducted in 1996.

In November 1998, Bill Richardson, the then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil. "This is about America's energy security," he explained. "It's also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west.

"We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."

Professor Michel Chossudovsky, author of America at War in Macedonia, provides a deep insight into the Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian-Oil Pipeline project:
"The US based AMBO pipeline consortium is directly linked to the seat of political and military power in the United States and Vice President Dick Cheney's firm Halliburton Energy. The feasibility study for AMBO's Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline, conducted by the international engineering company of Brown & Root Ltd. [Halliburton's British subsidiary] has determined that this pipeline will become a part of the region's critical East-West corridor infrastructure which includes highway, railway, gas and fibre optic telecommunications lines.

"Coincidentally, White and Case LLT, the New York law firm that President William J. Clinton joined when he left the White House also has a stake in the AMBO pipeline deal.

"And upon completion of the feasibility study by Halliburton, a senior executive of Halliburton was appointed CEO of AMBO. Halliburton was also granted a contract to service US troops in the Balkans and build "Bondsteel" in Kosovo, which now constitutes "the largest American foreign military base constructed since Vietnam".

"The AMBO Trans-Balkans pipeline project would link up with the pipeline corridors between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basin, which lies at the hub of the World's largest unexplored oil reserves. The militarization of these various corridors is an integral part of Washington's design.

"The US policy of "protecting the pipeline routes" out of the Caspian Sea basin (and across the Balkans) was spelled out by Clinton's Energy Secretary Bill Richardson barely a few months prior to the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia: This is about America's energy security. It's also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west. We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.

"In favour of the AMBO pipeline negotiations, the U.S. Government has been directly supportive through its Trade and Development Agency (TDA) and the South Balkan Development Initiative (SBDI). The TDI suggested the need for Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria to "use regional synergies to leverage new public and private capital [from U.S. companies]" while also asserting responsibility of the U.S. Government "for implementing the initiative."

And the U.S. Government has fulfilled its role in promoting the AMBO project, granting several contracts to Halliburton for servicing U.S. troops in the Balkans, including a five year contract authorized in June of 2005 by the U.S. Army at a value of $1.25 billion, despite criminal allegations made against Halliburton that are currently being probed by the F.B.I., according to Craig A. Brannagan author of On the Political Executive: Public or Private?

This leaves little doubt that the war in the former Yugoslavia was fought solely in order to secure access to oil from new and biddable states in central Asia. It is obvious that the former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia, was a serious problem for the realization of the plan. The intervention in Kosovo and Metohija was carried out in order to please Albania, whose port of Vlore is the ultimate destination of the pipeline.

In 1998, fighting breaks out between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. President Milosevic sends in troops, and atrocities were committed. This opens the door for NATO's Operation Allied Force, occupying Kosovo in 1999 and then handing it over to the UN, with a huge American presence in the area. UN resolution 1244 is drafted stipulating that Kosovo is Serbian land, and at the same time gives Kosovars governance autonomy.

June 1999, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Yugoslavia, US forces seized 1,000 acres of farmland in southeast Kosovo at Uresevic, near the Macedonian border, and began the construction of Camp Bondsteel which is the biggest construction project of a US military base since the war in Vietnam. Now, why would the United States build such a massive camp in Kosovo?

In evaluating Kosovo's independence, it is also important to know that Kosovo is not gaining independence or even minimal self-government.

It will be run by an appointed High Representative and bodies appointed by the U.S., European Union and NATO. An old-style colonial viceroy and imperialist administrators will have control over foreign and domestic policy. It is similar to the absolute power held by L. Paul Bremer in the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. U.S. has merely consolidated its direct control of a totally dependent colony in the heart of the Balkans.

An International Civilian Representative (ICR) will be appointed by U.S. and E.U. officials to oversee Kosovo. This appointed official can overrule any measures, annul any laws and remove anyone from office in Kosovo. The ICR will have full and final control over the departments of Customs, Taxation, Treasury and Banking.

The E.U. will establish a European Security and Defense Policy Mission (ESDP) and NATO will establish an International Military Presence. Both these appointed bodies will have control over foreign policy, security, police, judiciary, all courts and prisons.

These bodies and the ICR will have final say over what crimes can be prosecuted and against whom; they can reverse or annul any decision made. The largest prison in Kosovo is at the U.S. base, Camp Bondsteel, where prisoners are held without charges, judicial overview or representation.

US has argued the case of Kosovo is unique and that separatists in other states in Europe and the Balkans will not receive aid and welcome from major powers. "It is incorrect to view this as a precedent and it doesn't serve any purpose to view it as a precedent," said Alejandro Wolff, US deputy permanent representative to the UN. He may be right because other separatists may not have any attraction for the oil giants...

~ from Countercurrents ~

Exxon Plans Natural Gas Terminal in the Atlantic

Exxon Mobil said Tuesday that it would like to build a $1 billion floating terminal for liquefied natural gas about 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey, a move meant to deflect safety and environmental concerns about proximity to populated areas.

The company plans to anchor a boatlike structure in the Atlantic Ocean to process natural gas imported by cargo ships from faraway suppliers in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The terminal, if approved, would connect through an underwater pipeline to an existing network that feeds New York and New Jersey, two of the top consumer markets in North America.

Exxon's project is the latest of several dozen gas terminals that have been proposed in recent years in the United States. Energy specialists say more natural gas supplies will be needed to meet the growth in consumption and to make up for an expected drop in imports from Canada...

~ more... ~

A conservative whom many liberals will miss

William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

May he rest in peace. Here's to the guy who once interviewed a very drunk Kerouac and in good cheer called out: "Give the man another drink!"

" ... Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of "Firing Line," harpsichordist, transoceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for his magazine, the National Review.

Yet on the platform, he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.

[ ... ]

For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television," fellow conservative William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said at the time the show ended. "He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement."

[ ... ]

Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." Not only did he help revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics, his persona was a dynamic break from such dour right-wing predecessors as Sen. Robert Taft.

Although it perpetually lost money, the National Review built its circulation from 16,000 in 1957 to 125,000 in 1964, the year conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate. The magazine claimed a circulation of 155,000 when Buckley relinquished control in 2004 ... "

~ full obituary ~

Iraq war has cost US 50-60 times more than predicted

" ... Professor Stiglitz, an academic at the Columbia Business School and a former economic adviser to president Bill Clinton, said a further $US500 billion was going to be spent on the fighting in the next two years and that could have been used more effectively to improve the security and quality of life of Americans and the rest of the world.

The money being spent on the war each week would be enough to wipe out illiteracy around the world, he said.

Just a few days' funding would be enough to provide health insurance for US children who were not covered, he said. ... "

~ more... ~

"The Reflecting Pool" Extended Trailer

The three trillion dollar war

" ... The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that's $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.

Most Americans have yet to feel these costs. The price in blood has been paid by our voluntary military and by hired contractors. The price in treasure has, in a sense, been financed entirely by borrowing. Taxes have not been raised to pay for it - in fact, taxes on the rich have actually fallen. Deficit spending gives the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed, that we can have both guns and butter. But of course the laws are not repealed. The costs of the war are real even if they have been deferred, possibly to another generation.

[ ... ]

From the unhealthy brew of emergency funding, multiple sets of books, and chronic underestimates of the resources required to prosecute the war, we have attempted to identify how much we have been spending - and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions. They are conceptually simple, even if occasionally technically complicated. A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq. ... "

~ Full article... ~

Germany: Court Shoots Down Computer Surveillance

Government surveillance of personal computers would violate the individual right to privacy, Germany's
highest court found Wednesday, in a ruling that German investigators say will restrict their ability to pursue

The Karlsruhe-based Federal Constitutional Court said in a precedent-setting decision that data stored or exchanged on a
personal computer is effectively covered under principles of the constitution that enshrine the right to personal privacy.

"Collecting such data directly encroaches on a citizen's rights, given that fear of being observed ... can prevent
unselfconscious personal communication," presiding judge Hans-Juergen Papier said in his ruling.

While the ruling directly addressed a state law that had widely permitted authorities to monitor criminal suspects'
personal computer use, it also set out the ground rules for a hotly disputed federal law governing secret services' ability
to use virus-like software to monitor suspected terrorists' online activity.

"Given the gravity of the intrusion, the secret infiltration of an IT system in such a way that use of the system and its
data can be searched can only be constitutionally allowed if clear evidence of a concrete threat to a prominent object of
legal protection exists," Papier said.

Authorities would be allowed to spy on suspects' computers using virus software in exceptional cases, according to the
ruling. However, any such action must have the approval of a judge...

~ More... ~

Global Hunger 'Perfect Storm'

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a "new face of hunger".

"We will have a problem in coming months," said Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). "We will have a significant gap if commodity prices remain this high, and we will need an extra half billion dollars just to meet existing assessed needs."

With voluntary contributions from the world's wealthy nations, the WFP feeds 73 million people in 78 countries, less than a 10th of the total number of the world's undernourished. Its agreed budget for 2008 was $2.9bn (£1.5bn). But with annual food price increases around the world of up to 40% and dramatic hikes in fuel costs, that budget is no longer enough even to maintain current food deliveries.

The shortfall is all the more worrying as it comes at a time when populations, many in urban areas, who had thought themselves secure in their food supply are now unable to afford basic foodstuffs. Afghanistan has recently added an extra 2.5 million people to the number it says are at risk of malnutrition

"This is the new face of hunger," Sheeran said. "There is food on shelves but people are priced out of the market. There is vulnerability in urban areas we have not seen before. There are food riots in countries where we have not seen them before."

WFP officials say the extraordinary increases in the global price of basic foods were caused by a "perfect storm" of factors: a rise in demand for animal feed from increasingly prosperous populations in India and China, the use of more land and agricultural produce for biofuels, and climate change.

The impact has been felt around the world. Food riots have broken out in Morocco, Yemen, Mexico, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Uzbekistan. Pakistan has reintroduced rationing for the first time in two decades. Russia has frozen the price of milk, bread, eggs and cooking oil for six months. Thailand is also planning a freeze on food staples. After protests around Indonesia, Jakarta has increased public food subsidies. India has banned the export of rice except the high-quality basmati variety...

~ From Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits ~


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