Sunday, May 4, 2008

And the Infowar goes on...

Since 2007, the FBI has very quietly put together a cadre of professionals with U.S. intelligence and other agencies to help battle crime on the Internet to help identify and respond to cyber threats against the United States. The name of the group is the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), and the FBI has a number of persons training together at an unnamed location near Washington. The leader of the new group is Shawn Henry, the FBI's deputy assistant director of the cyber division. Henry has stated the group is made up of intelligence, law-enforcement and other agencies from the U.S. government.
The FBI claims in a press release about the group that they plan on, "Expanding the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), to include representation from the U.S. Secret Service and several other federal agencies. This existing cyber investigation coordination organization overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation will serve as a multi-agency national focal point for coordinating, integrating, and sharing pertinent information related to cyber threat investigations."
What makes Storm the perfect Internet weapon is how it has been designed to survive. The Storm zombie does no damage to the PCs it infects, and simply sits there, waiting for an order. Those orders come via a peer-to-peer system (similar to things like  Kazaa or Bittorrent). A small percentage of the zombies spend short periods of time trying to spread themselves, then turn off. This makes it more difficult to locate infected PCs. Commands from the Storm operators are sent through several layers of zombie PCs, again making it very difficult to identify where those commands come from. Moreover, Storm operates as a horde of clusters, each of two or three dozen zombie PCs. No existing methods can shut down Storm, although computer security organizations have been able to limit the spread.  In fact, all that will work to kill Storm is to find the people running it, arrest them, and seize their access data. The programmers who put Storm together know their stuff, and police in dozens of country have cooperated to get their hands on them. The Storm owners were traced to Russia, but the government blocked efforts to shut down the hacker operation.
Criminal gangs are increasingly active in producing things like Storm, and, in the case of China, so are government Cyber War operations. Russia is also believed to rely on criminal hackers for help in carrying out Cyber War tasks, usually espionage. Meanwhile, it's clear what Storm is up to. It has been launching attacks at web sites involved in stopping or investigating Storm. This involves transmitting huge quantities of bogus messages ,that shut down targeted web sites (this is a DDOS, or distributed denial or service attack). The Storm botherders are also advertising their botnet as available for the usual illegal activities (various types of spam). 
Early on, it was  believed that Storm was owned by a Russian criminal syndicate, but once more detailed proof was available, the Russian government refused to cooperate, treating Storm like some kind of secret military resources. And to the Russians, that's apparently what Storm is. Meanwhile, the investigation indicates that the Storm crew have some American members, and now the search is on for them, or any other non-Russians who worked on Storm, and are not inside Russia. was knocked offline for three hours shortly after Chinese hackers claimed to have called off a planned denial of service attack against the US publisher.
Late last week, a group of Chinese hackers called off a planned denial of service attack on It was reported that the attack would occur last weekend, in protest of "anti-Chinese" media reports across the Western world.
Despite the attack being officially called off, Netcraft reported that was taken off-line for a period of three hours on Sunday -- even though CNN throttled the number of users that could access the site from risky regions.
"…CNN's website suffered downtime within a three hour period on Sunday morning, followed by other anomalous activity on Monday morning, where response times were greatly inflated," Netcraft reported on its Web site.
There were signs that the attack had already started on Saturday. Arbor Networks' security researchers claim to have monitored several attacks launched against, which caused disruption rather than damage.
The news that the Pentagon ran a systematic information campaign to get favourable analysis on Iraq from military officers should hardly be news to many people. The New York Times has used the Freedom of Information Act in America to get some 8,000 pages of transcripts of emails and other communications in the Pentagon to reveal how Donald Rumsfeld waged the war of spin over Iraq, and lost it.
The high point came in 2005, when it was clear that things were really falling apart in Iraq. Chosen analysts, former generals and colonels to the fore, were given privileged access to information, which they then spun on through the media. Some were hired talking heads for mainstream channels like CNN and Fox News. In all, says the New York Times, some 75 officers were hired by Rumsfeld to do the job.
The most striking thing about this story about a story - and full marks to the NYT for uncovering it at last - is how badly the whole thing was done. It has not helped the administration's credibility over Iraq, nor America's standing in the world. As a campaign it has been less than victorious.
When former army general Montgomery Meigs claimed to NBC, that there "had been over $100 million of construction" at Guantánamo, he, and more to the point his editors, must have known that the increasing band of sceptics in the audience were unlikely to be persuaded. The general had been a part of carefully selected group of "analysts" allowed by the Pentagon into the Guantánamo complex.
Keith Allard, a former consultant to NBC and an instructor in information warfare at the National Defence University said that what the analysts were given in their "private" briefings bore little relation to the facts later uncovered by inquiries and reporters' books.
One method of protecting your military networks from hackers is to use an operating system other than the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows (which controls over 85 percent of the market). Linux has been a popular choice for the military. The U.S. Navy uses Linux to run critical systems on its warships. The U.S. Army is using Linux for its networked FCS (Future Combat System) vehicles (which are still in development).  The army is also converting many of its Microsoft Windows applications to run under Linux.
It's not just the better security Linux provides, but the fact that there are many versions of Linux to choose from, and the operating system is easier to modify (being an "open source" system, unlike the proprietary Windows.) Currently, the U.S. Department of Defense has over 200 Linux based software projects in development.
China has also gone down this route, and is trying to get all Chinese computer users to switch to Linux. This has proved difficult, because so many Chinese use stolen Windows software to run their businesses. Often, there is no Linux alternative for key Windows applications. The military, however, uses custom made software for its most critical applications, and it's easier to create this stuff using Linux.
CIA, Scientists, Engineers & Technology
In today's world of ever-changing challenges, it is more important than ever for the CIA to stay ahead of fast-paced global technology developments. The classified work we are presently undertaking allows us to meet the Agency's foreign intelligence mission through leadership in a wide range of scientific and technical disciplines. This is truly a unique opportunity for scientific and engineering experts to look beyond a commercial, product-driven mindset to goal-oriented, highly focused work of significant national importance.
The Directorate of Intelligence (DI) seeks engineers and scientists to analyze challenging national security issues, such as foreign weapons development, weapons proliferation, information warfare and emerging technologies. These engineers and scientists will serve as professional intelligence officers, applying their scientific and technical knowledge to solving complex intelligence problems, and presenting their assessments to senior policymakers. This work demands initiative, creativity, analytical skills and technical expertise. Agency analysts are encouraged to maintain and broaden professional ties through academic study, contacts, and attendance at professional meetings. They may also choose to pursue additional studies in fields relevant to their areas of responsibility. Opportunities exist for foreign travel, language training, analytic and management training, and assignments in other offices in the Agency and throughout the US Government.
*Higher starting salary possible depending on experience level.
The ongoing army commanders' conference, chaired by General Deepak Kapoor, has decided to boost the "cyber-security" of its information networks right down to the level of divisions, which are basically field formations with over 15,000 troops.

Apart from creating cyber-security organisations down to the division-level to guard against cyber warfare and data thefts, the Army top brass has also underlined the urgent need for "periodic cyber-security audits" by the Army Cyber Security Establishment (ACSE).

"The most advanced armies in the world like the US one also face 3,000 to 4,000 attempts a year to hack their networks. As our Army boosts its infotech levels, we also become more vulnerable to such threats. Future conflicts will be fought by 'networks'," said a senior officer.

Both China and Pakistan, for instance, are bolstering their cyber-warfare or information warfare capabilities at a rapid clip. China, in particular, has made cyber-warfare one of its topmost military priorities, with Chinese hackers breaking into sensitive computer networks of the US, UK, Germany and even India on a regular basis.

"By crippling or destroying an adversary's economic, communication and strategic networks and infrastructure, cyber-warfare can even prove more deadly than ballistic missile strikes. It can, for instance, be in the form of denial-of-service cyber-attacks and paralysing computer viruses," said another officer.

The Indian armed forces, of course, are also trying to hone their information warfare weapons as well as enhance their C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities.

The tri-service integrated defence staff, on its part, has also come out with an information warfare doctrine. But the progress is slow compared to the infotech boom in the civilian arena.
To the uninitiated, information warfare is precisely that . . . waging warfare through propaganda. It's been used throughout American military history, from convincing the Germans that the Allies planned to land at the Pas de Calais instead of Normandy, right up to the first Gulf War, when airplanes dropped leaflets on Iraqi military formations warning of imminent landings by U.S. Marines. It is irony at its most basic that an information warfare instructor would have fallen prey to propaganda.

The problem, however, is that these so-called former generals lack one thing . . . they are not journalists. This is a phenomenon, it is worth pointing out, that is rearing its ugly head at a time when the public distrusts journalists.

This is an important distinction, because it strikes at how someone is trained. Journalists, even those who don't go to journalism school, are trained to be skeptical of information. Generals have been trained throughout their career for something else, which is to win wars. Some may be equipped with a personal sense of skepticism, but this is about an individual's strengths and not a profession.

Despite denials, military still studying clandestine use of blogs

Last July, Noah Shachtman -- the author of the current Wired article describing the 2006 study -- noted that the Army was working on a new "information operations" field manual that would recognize "information as an element of power [which] ... has the potential to do to highly developed modern democracies what conventional and nuclear weapons could not: compel them to quit."
This past November, Shachtman pointed out an active military effort to make use of blogs. In a piece titled "U.S. Enlists Arab Bloggers for Info War," Shachtman wrote, "It's no secret that, for a long time, the jihadists were kicking American ass in the information war -- especially online. Slowly, slowly, the U.S. government is starting to push back, just a little. The new arsenal of the propaganda campaign: Arab-language bloggers, podcasts, 'webchats' -- and maybe even Second Life and cell phone games, too."
The pilot project described in that article consisted of just a handful of Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi speakers, deployed to post pro-U.S. comments on prominent mainstream blogs in those languages. No original blogs were either initiated or co-opted by the "Digital Outreach Team."

Funny Math, Part II: Impeachment - by David Swanson

From AfterDowningStreet.Org :

There is a widespread myth that an impeachment cannot happen in the space of the nine months Bush and Cheney are scheduled to remain in office. But I'm unable to find any past impeachment that took as long as nine months. It's messy comparing one impeachment to another, as they are complicated and varying processes. But a few things are clear: most impeachment efforts achieve important results quickly, without actually achieving impeachment (think Elliot Spitzer or Alberto Gonzales); it is not uncommon for impeachment efforts to begin later in an administration than where we are now (think Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman); while preliminary investigations of the sort that have been done on Bush and Cheney for the past year and a half can be dragged out for months, impeachments tend not to last long; and while Senate trials can be delayed and dragged out for many months, impeachments in the House tend to be short-lived events.

An impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney for an indisputable offense (refusing subpoenas, refusing to enforce contempt citations, rewriting laws with signing statements, openly violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, etc.) could take literally one day. Such a thing would not be unprecedented. President Andrew Johnson was impeached three days after the offense for which he was impeached. Senator William Blount was impeached four days after the offense for which he was impeached.

There is no reason impeachment hearings on Cheney or Bush should be limited to the simplest crimes or rushed through at top speed. Public education might benefit from a slower process. My point is only that it is possible to impeach rapidly. A senate trial can also serve as an educational forum. Below are some of the dates I've been able to find on how long past impeachments have taken. A better researcher might add to this collection. In several cases, I have dates for the duration of the Senate trial, but not for the House impeachment, the duration of which may in fact have been negligible.

A Senate trial can also be completed quickly, and there is no requirement or precedent for including every obvious impeachable offense. (In fact, there is no precedent for elected officials being guilty of so many obvious impeachable offenses or for the public being so aware of impeachable offenses prior to an impeachment.) The Senate expelled Blount the day after he was impeached. Judge Halsted Ritter's Senate trial took 11 days. Judge John Pickering's trial took nine days. Judge James Peck's trial took three days. Judge West Humphreys' trial took one day.

Two presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Johnson was impeached three days after committing the offense for which he was impeached, and prior to drafting articles of impeachment. Within a week, a committee drew up charges, and 11 days after the offense, the House delivered the charges to the Senate. The trial process began the next day, and in under three months it was over.

The House began impeachment procedures for Bill Clinton on October 8, 1998, and impeached him on December 19th. The Senate trial lasted from January 14, 1999, to February 12, 1999. The whole four-month farce took less than half the time remaining to Bush and Cheney.

Of the presidential impeachment movements that did not reach impeachment, the most well-known is that against Richard Nixon. The House began impeachment on May 9, 1974, and passed the first of three articles of impeachment on July 27, 1974. Nixon resigned on August 8th. Of course there were lots of preliminary investigations, but those have already been done for Bush and Cheney.

Most impeachments have not been against presidents, but rather judges, cabinet officers, senators. These impeachments seem to take about as long as presidential impeachment do, and offer no support to the myth of long impeachments. In addition, much other business has been accomplished at the same time as these impeachments.

On July 3, 1797, evidence of an offense by Senator William Blount became known. Four days later, the House impeached him and the next day the Senate expelled him.

Evidence of an offense by Judge John Pickering became known on February 4, 1803, and the House voted to impeach him on March 2, 1803. The Senate didn't try him for another year, but spent 9 days on it when it did so.

Supreme Court justice Samuel Chase was impeached in late 1804 (I don't know how long the impeachment took) and 30 days later he was tried in the Senate, which completed the trial on March 1, 1805.

Judge James Peck was impeached on April 24, 1830, a month after the Judiciary Committee recommended it. The Senate took up the trial the following January and spent three days on it.

Judge West H. Humphreys was impeached on May 19, 1862. The Senate tried and convicted him in one day on June 26, 1862.

Secretary of War William W. Belknap was impeached on March 2, 1876, and the Senate trial was completed on August 1, 1876.

Judge Charles Swayne was impeached on December 14, 1904, and his trial was over on February 27, 1905.

Judge Robert W. Archbald was impeached on July 13, 1912, and the Senate trial was over on January 13, 1913.

Judge Harold Louderback resigned before his impeachment went to trial.

Judge Halsted L. Ritter was impeached on March 2, 1936, and the 11-day Senate trial ended on April 17th of the same year.

Judge Harry E. Claiborne was impeached on July 22, 1986, and the trial ended on October 9, 1986.

Then Judge and now Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, was impeached on August 3, 1988, and the Senate trial was over on October 20, 1988.

Judge Walter L. Nixon was impeached on May 10, 1989, and the Senate trial was completed on November 3, 1989.

There are nine months remaining to Bush and Cheney. If you think that is a short time, you are not a mother.

Tame Iti Goes To Europe In Tempest

The High Court in Auckland has relaxed bail conditions to allow Tame Iti to travel to Europe to play a part in a play that ironically explores sovereignty issues and unlawful detention in an uneasy post 9/11 world. Tame Iti, a veteran Maori activist, was arrested in Ruatoki on October 15 2007 during the so-called anti-terror raids and was later released on bail. Conclusion of his case is pending. Image credit: Tame Iti, courtesy of Lemi Ponifasio of

'Raise less corn, more hell!'

From: My Mama the Communist by Rebecca Schoenkopf

And so this week is May Day. We can have – or heave! – a cocktail for the working man. We can put on our marching shoes, like we did two years ago, millions and millions of immigrants and those who love them in the streets. We can do lots and loads of things. But me, I'm missing mi mamacita communista. Oh, she didn't die or anything. She just retired and moved back to Oklahoma, where I'm sure as hell not going anytime soon for a visit.

These are the things my mother taught me:

*Contra Barbara Ehrenreich, it is perfectly acceptable to pay a lady to clean your house. You just have to pay her three times the going rate, and you may not use the sort of slave agency that can afford to advertise in the Yellow Pages. You must find a lady via reference or supermarket bulletin board.

*The dog can drink out of the pool.

*It's best if the babies are naked.

*Protesting is fun! Marching is better!

*It is our patriotic duty to cuss loud and creatively. Lenny Bruce wants us to stick it to the squares. For America. And the children.

*Good names for America's pets and children include Rosie, Emma, Fidel and Diego, and any of her children who don't comply will have their kids' and pets' names changed unilaterally. Rodents should be named after baked goods.

*The best name for getting arrested under while demonstrating is Emma Goldman.

*Good places to get arrested are the Nevada Test Site, Diablo Canyon, and the mean streets of Thousand Oaks circa Gulf War I...

What Do We Stand For? - by Paul Craig Roberts

Americans traditionally thought of their country as a "city upon a hill," a "light unto the world." Today only the deluded think that. Polls show that the rest of the world regards the United States and Israel as the two greatest threats to peace.

This is not surprising. In the words of Arthur Silber: "The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for."

Addressing his fellow Americans, Silber asks the paramount question, "Why do you support" these horrors?

[ ... ]

The people ask over and over, "What can we do?"

Very little when the institutions put in place to protect the people from tyranny fail. In the United States, the institutions have failed across the board.

The freedom and independence of the watchdog press was destroyed by the media concentration that was permitted by the Clinton administration and Congress. Americans who rely on traditional print and TV media simply have no idea what is afoot.

Political competition failed when the opposition party became a "me-too" party. The Democrats even confirmed as attorney general Michael Mukasey, an authoritarian who refuses to condemn torture and whose rulings as a federal judge undermined habeas corpus. Such a person is now the highest law enforcement officer in the United States.

The judicial system failed when federal judges ruled that "state secrets" and "national security" are more important than government accountability and the rule of law.

The separation of powers failed when Congress acquiesced to the executive branch's claims of primary power and independence from statutory law and the Constitution.

It failed again when the Democrats refused to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney, the two greatest criminals in American political history.

Without the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, America can never recover. The precedents for unaccountable government established by the Bush administration are too great, their damage too lasting. Without impeachment, America will continue to sink into dictatorship in which criticism of the government and appeals to the Constitution are criminalized. We are closer to executive rule than many people know.

~ more... ~

'Get politically uninvolved!'

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

[ ... ]

3. Get politically uninvolved!
All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I'd be standing here with my bellybutton exposed. Imagine deciding the dinner menu by family secret ballot. I've got three kids and three dogs in my family. We'd be eating Froot Loops and rotten meat.

But let me make a distinction between politics and politicians. Some people are under the misapprehension that all politicians stink. Impeach George W. Bush, and everything will be fine. Nab Ted Kennedy on a DUI, and the nation's problems will be solved.

But the problem isn't politicians -- it's politics. Politics won't allow for the truth. And we can't blame the politicians for that. Imagine what even a little truth would sound like on today's campaign trail:

"No, I can't fix public education. The problem isn't the teachers unions or a lack of funding for salaries, vouchers or more computer equipment The problem is your kids!"

[ ... ]

5. Be a religious extremist!

So, avoid politics if you can. But if you absolutely cannot resist, read the Bible for political advice -- even if you're a Buddhist, atheist or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who believes that God is involved in politics. On the contrary. Observe politics in this country. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through history. Does it look like God's involved?

The Bible is very clear about one thing: Using politics to create fairness is a sin. Observe the Tenth Commandment. The first nine commandments concern theological principles and social law: Thou shalt not make graven images, steal, kill, et cetera. Fair enough. But then there's the tenth: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Here are God's basic rules about how we should live, a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. And, right at the end of it we read, "Don't envy your buddy because he has an ox or a donkey." Why did that make the top 10? Why would God, with just 10 things to tell Moses, include jealousy about livestock?

Well, think about how important this commandment is to a community, to a nation, to a democracy. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't whine about what the people across the street have. Get rich and get your own.

The Hidden Architecture of U.S. Militarism

Former Cold War hawk and CIA analyst, Chalmers Johnson, has written:

"As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage. . . .We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another."

Johnson also explains how the U.S. military economy not only directly profits private corporations and their sub-contractors, by developing and producing weapons for the armed forces and servicing the needs of military personnel, but also in more indirect and unexpected ways.

"On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier,...and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida."

Noting that "official records on these subjects are misleading," Johnson in 2004 estimated that the Pentagon maintains more than 700 overseas bases in about 130 countries, with an additional 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. He concludes:

"These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally.... If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years."

~ more... ~


Did the US Supreme Court just elect John McCain? - by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

From Scoop :

The US Supreme Court has just dealt a serious blow to voters' rights that could help put John McCain in the White House by eliminating tens of thousands of voters who generally vote Democratic.

By 6-3 the Court has upheld an Indiana law that requires citizens to present a photo identification card in order to vote. Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, Georgia, Hawaii and South Dakota have similar laws. Though it's unlikely, as many as two dozen other states could add them by election day. Other states, like Ohio, have less stringent ID requirements than Indiana's, but still have certain restrictions that are strongly opposed by voter rights advocates.

The decision turns back two centuries of jurisprudence that has accepted a registered voter's signature as sufficient identification for casting a ballot. By matching that signature against one given at registration, and with harsh penalties for ballot stuffing, the Justices confirmed in their lead opinion that there is "no evidence" for the kind of widespread voter fraud Republican partisans have used to justify the demand for photo ID.

Voting rights activists have long argued that since photo ID can cost money, or may demand expensive trips to government agencies, the requirement constitutes a "poll tax." Taxes on the right to vote were used for a century to prevent blacks and others from voting in the south and elsewhere. They were specifically banned by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1964.

But the Court's lead opinion, written by Justice Stevens, normally a liberal, said that though rare, the "risk of voter fraud" was nonetheless "real" and that there was "no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state's interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters." The burden of obtaining a voter ID, said the court, was not so difficult as to be deemed unConstitutional. Ohio election protection Attorney Cliff Arnebeck believes Stevens joined the decision to divide the Court's conservative majority, and to leave the door open for further litigation.

But there is no indication the corporate media or Democratic Party will be pursuing significant action on this issue any time soon. Though the Kerry Campaign solicited millions of dollars to "protect the vote" in 2004, it has not supported independent research into that election's irregularities. In the King-Lincoln Civil Rights lawsuit, in which we are attorney and plaintiff, 56 of Ohio's 88 counties destroyed ballot materials, in direct violation of federal law. There has been no official legal follow-up on this case, no major media investigation, and no support from the Democratic Party either to investigate what happened in Ohio 2004, or to make sure it doesn't happen again in 2008. The issue has yet to be seriously raised by the major Democratic candidates despite the fact that it could render their campaigns moot.

This latest Supreme Court decision is yet another serious blow to voting rights advocates---and probably to the Democratic nominees for President and other offices. It will clearly make it far more difficult for poor, minority, elderly and young citizens to vote. Tens of thousands of normally Democratic voters in key states---especially Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Louisiana---will simply be prevented from getting a ballot.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law in its "Friend of the Court" brief noted that between 10% and 13% of eligible voters lack the identification now required in Indiana. People without an official photo ID tend to be disproportionately minorities and poor, ushering a new Jim Crow era based on race and class apartheid. One Indiana study, according to Inter Press Service reporter Jim Lobe, found that 13.3% of registered Indiana voters lacked the now-required ID, but the numbers were significantly higher for black voters at 18% and young voters age 18-34 at more than 20%.

Kathryn Kolbert, President of People for the American Way, put the number at "millions of eligible voters who don't have the ID these laws require."

Photo ID has long been a lynchpin of a concerted GOP strategy to eliminate Democratic voters. In the wake of the theft of the 2004 election in Ohio, Republican activists produced heavily publicized allegations of massive voter fraud, virtually all of which proved to be false.

Nonetheless, the drumbeat for restrictive ID requirements has been steadily rising from GOP strongholds. Other such laws are now virtually certain to follow in states with Republican-controlled legislatures, though it's unclear how many more can be put into law by November.

Nor has the GOP let up in its other campaigns to restrict access to the polls. Extremely harsh limitations on voter registration campaigns in Florida have severely restricted attempts by the League of Women Voters and others to sign up new voters. GOP election officials also have made it clear they will severely restrict the franchise of those who have minor irregularities in the registration forms, such as an errant middle initial or changed address.

It is also unclear how many electronic voting machines will still be in place come November. Despite a wide range of high-level studies showing them easily hackable, the elimination of touch screen voting machines has proceeded at a glacial pace. No significant federal legislation has been passed to eliminate electronic voting machines or even to make them more secure. With a few exceptions, most notably Florida, progress at the state level has been minimal.

Thus the GOP hope that millions of Americans will be voting on hackable computers this November, and that millions more may be eliminated from the rolls altogether, seems very close to fruition. Whether this will swing the election to John McCain remains to be seen. But this Supreme Court decision allowing the demand for photo ID makes it much more likely.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 ( and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO? (The New Press). Bob is publisher of, where Harvey is Senior Editor.

Italy’s elections go from bad to worse

It would be comforting to chalk all this up to electronic voting. However, Italians vote by marking a paper ballot with a pencil; the ballots are then counted by hand in front of observers from all parties. And while Berlusconi did have a distinct advantage as the owner of three television networks and several newspapers and periodicals, Italy also has a par condicio law, which guarantees equal time to all political parties, so television viewers heard from everyone from the far left to the far right. The par condicio also prohibits polling in the final 15 days and political rallies or television appearances the day before the elections in a welcome "day of silence."

This law may soon become a thing of the past, though. Berlusconi blasted it as "undemocratic" throughout the elections, going on to praise the system in the US, which awards the person who has raised the most money, as more democratic.

The Silver Lining
Against this bleak backdrop, a ray of hope shines through. In the northern city of Vicenza, the citizen activists of the Presidio permanente No Dal Molin, who have been working for two years to block construction of a second US military base in their historic city, decided just weeks before the elections to form a lista civica, a municipal list with no party affiliation. Cinzia Bottene, who has become and icon of the movement and one of its the leaders from the start, ran as candidate for mayor, and 40 others from the Presidio as candidates for city council.

In the first round, the Vicenza Libera No Dal Molin list made a spectacular showing, gaining close to 5% of the vote, ahead of national parties such as the centrist UDC and the Rainbow Left. Bottene didn't get enough votes in her bid for mayor, but she will have a seat on city council.

As with all decisions made by the movement, the discussions on whether or not to form the list took place at public assemblies at the Presidio, or permanent encampment, headquarters for the movement. Not all were in favor, with some concerned about mixing movement and politics, but in the end the argument that the movement, which has been experimenting an open participatory democracy for some time, should take that practice to the local government won out.

The Vicenza Libera list had an opportunity to test the waters in late February when they collected 6178 signatures in one day – they were hoping for 1000 – in support of the movement after several exponents had been placed under investigation for non violent activism against the new military base.

In the short time Vicenza Libera had to campaign, they focused on three main points: policies of peace, defense of true democratic principles and the protection of the environment. The issue of the environment was at the forefront just days after presenting the list when a pipeline, which supplies the US air base at Aviano with kerosene from the port of Livorno and the US base at Camp Darby, broke near Vicenza, contaminating the rivers Astichello and Bacchiglione.

The movement never took a backseat to the campaign. In fact, on the last day for campaigning, the activists and candidates of the Presidio traveled to Ravenna and the offices of the cooperative CMC, which had just been awarded the Euro 245 million contract to build the new military base in Vicenza. "Only crazy people like us would leave the city on the final day of the campaign," commented Cinzia Bottene. The fact that U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command chose to award the deal to CMC, a cooperative close to the parties of the center left, did not come as a surprise. What better way to guarantee bi-partisan support!

In the first round of voting in Vicenza, no candidate gained more than 50% of the vote, so a run-off pitted Popolo della Libertà candidate Lia Sartori, with 39%, against former Vicenza mayor Achille Variati, with 31%.

As the parties and lists of the right started making alliances for the run- off, Variati began to court Vicenza Libera, knowing just how valuable their votes would be. Variati, a candidate of the Partito Democratico, which has already said the question of the base is closed, had been speaking out against the base, and long before the election campaign, in particular the less than democratic manner in which the issue had been handled.

Vicenza Libera had made their position clear from the start, with no intention of joining forces with any political party, nor accepting any political appointments in exchange for support. "We are not for sale," said Bottene. Adding that the only way for him to gain their support would be to take a strong stand against the base and commit to opposing the base if elected.

A delegation from Vicenza Libera met with Variati. He made three pledges: to revoke the city council measure approving the base, to hold a referendum on the new base, something the movement had been requesting for almost two years, and to ask for a moratorium on construction until the results of the referendum are known. Variati is very familiar with the determination of the movement to hold politicians to account, so there is hope that this is not simply an empty campaign promise. Vicenza Libera asked their supporters to vote for Variati.

And it did the trick. In an unexpected turn of events, Variati won, 50.5% to 49.5%; a major victory in a region considered to be a stronghold of the right. The main square of Vicenza filled with celebration, and the predominant flag was that of No Dal Molin.

~ more... ~


The coming tidal wave: Bank sees 6.5 million foreclosures

From L.A. Land Blog :

The investment bank Credit Suisse is now predicting that 6.5 million American homeowners -- that's one out of every eight that has a mortgage -- will end up in foreclosure over the next five years.

In a report this week titled "Foreclosure Trends: A sobering reality," Credit Suisse predicts home prices will continue to fall throughout 2008 and 2009, causing a huge wave of foreclosures.

"... We estimate a total of 6.5 million loans will fall into foreclosure over the next five years, with the peak in 2008," the report says. "That estimate includes about 1.2 million loans currently already in foreclosure ... The coming flood of new foreclosures could put 8.4% of total homeowners, or 12.7% of homeowners with mortgages, out of their homes."

Other key points in the report:
-- The report predicts housing prices will fall by 10% in 2008 and 5% in 2009, and then grow by 3% in future years.
-- The report concludes falling prices -- and resulting negative home equity -- is "a primary driver of default and that the walkaway effect is alive and well." In other words, some people who have been paying their mortgages on time, and are capable of continuing to pay, will instead stop paying and walk away once they realize their home is no longer worth what they owe on it.
-- Likening the foreclosure crisis to a baseball game, the report says, "We are at best in the third inning ... global real estate investors are in the early stages of meltdown."
-- By 2009, the report predicts, 63% of sub-prime borrowers will be "underwater" on their mortgages -- owing more than their homes are worth.


'So you're against nuclear power. Do you know why?'

As far back as 1978, Tom Alexander—an award-winning science writer with a deep knowledge of economics and ecology—urged utilities in the pages of Fortune to resuscitate the already-flagging nuclear industry lest a ramp-up in coal-fired electricity "trigger irreversible changes in the world's climate." The ramp-up happened on schedule; the changes in climate too. Which now makes it very hard to ignore the fact that whatever else nuclear power does to the environment, however many fish it kills or however much waste it leaves in our great-great-great-great-grandchildren's hands, it emits neither soot nor smoke nor mercury, and far less carbon dioxide than the coal that keeps most of our lights on.

Industry has been quick to take advantage of the shifting political climate: Last year, UniStar submitted an application for a new nuclear reactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the first to cross the agency's desk since Jimmy Carter was president. Four more followed, and 14 separate companies have notified the agency that they will file applications in the next year. It's hard to imagine any of the current presidential candidates slashing nuclear subsidies once in office. (Senator Barack Obama, for one, represents a state with 11 of the nation's 104 civilian reactors, and his donors include employees of nuclear giant Exelon.)

But can nuclear power really rescue our warming planet? And if you answered quickly, answer this too: Are you for or against because you know the science, or because someone said you should be?

When we talk about nuclear power these days, we talk about environmentalists for nukes, and about people posing as environmentalists for nukes. We talk about Dick Cheney's energy bill defibrillating a faltering industry with $12 billion worth of incentives and tax breaks. We talk about who is for and who is against, and whether we can trust them.

But no one talks about fission. No one talks about the letter Albert Einstein wrote to FDR in 1939, advising the president that "it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium" to produce enormous amounts of power. No one mentions that breathtaking moment on December 2, 1942, when Fermi, on a squash court at the University of Chicago, had an assistant slowly pull a control rod from a pile of uranium and graphite, sustaining a controlled chain reaction for 28 minutes and thus securing atomic power's industrial future.

For the last four years, I have tried to shut out the chatter—the goofy Nuclear Energy Institute ad (girl on a scooter says, "Our generation is demanding lots of electricity...and clean air."), and the warnings of No Nukes godmother Helen Caldicott, who, rightly or wrongly, cannot think of splitting atoms without thinking of weapons. I've tried to focus instead on the awesome force that binds the nucleus and whether it can ever be an appropriate source of civilian energy.

The idea of nuclear power arose more than half a century ago out of the most noble impulses of humanity's brightest minds, scientists who hoped that the destructive force they'd harnessed, the most concentrated source of energy on earth, could also be applied for good. But atomic electricity strayed so far from its promise—corrupted by government's collusion with industry, mismanagement for the sake of profit, and ordinary bureaucratic incompetence—that we seem flummoxed at the thought of ever reclaiming it.

To consider a technology as terrifying as nuclear power requires more than slogans. It requires looking beyond the marketing and activism, into the physics and its consequences. It means thinking about rocks. And waste. And fission.


And I Refuse to Forget

Secret Government Codes Are Hidden In Your Sausage

Death from Above

Smashing Pumpkins featuring Chemtrails

Insurrection of the Famished – Causes and Possible Remedies of the World Hunger Crisis by Siv O'Neall

From Axis of Logic :

In a broadcast interview with Daniel Mermet on French radio*, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, stated that the current world food crisis is not due to nature, but to man.

Introduction to the interview from the web site of 'Là-bas si j'y suis'*:

"A return with Jean Ziegler to the causes for food riots that are appearing all over the world. Far from being a scourge like a drought or an invasion of locusts, there are people who are responsible for the famines that have struck thousands of men, women and children – the speculators and their logic of maximizing profit."

The rest of this article on the issue of world hunger is largely based on the interview with Jean Ziegler – "La faim du monde".

World Hunger

Over the past few months in multiple places in the world we have been seeing riots caused by food shortages – the revolt of the famished. There recently have been hunger-related riots in Egypt, Haiti, Morocco, Mauritania, Madagascar, Thailand and other poor countries. This is a long-time issue that has cruelly affected the world for several decades. Every day 100,000 people die from silent hunger, until very recently seen as a normal phenomenon by the people in the North. What is taking place today is the insurrection of the famished.

The explosion of food prices and riots by the starving people have occurred not only in the developing world but also in the rich countries. According to Jean Ziegler there are today 854 million permanently undernourished people in the world. The price of rice has risen by 53 %, wheat by 47 %, for instance. The rise of oil has obviously contributed to the rise in the prices of commodities but there are also other factors involved.

There are in the world today 2.2 billion people who barely earn a living wage, who every day experience the fear of not having enough food for tomorrow. While people in the rich countries spend on an average 10 – 15 % of their incomes on food, people in the poor countries spend  80 – 90 %. This sudden explosion of food prices is having a disastrous effect on the lives of poor people all over the world. The price of rice has doubled, wheat is up by 30 %, corn by more than 74 %.

Protests, even riots are going to intensify. People will be forced to migrate because of lack of food – but where are they going to go?

We are seeing the specter of August 1792 when the famished people of Paris stormed and ransacked the Tuileries Palace, an event that was going to change the world.

The reaction in the West comes from fear of destabilization – of the market and of people's behavior. Cases of malnutrition are not limited to poor countries; even in the United States there are severe cases of lack of nourishment.

We haven't seen the end of the riots.  This is just the beginning.
International financial institutions rule over the developing countries

What is the cause for this sudden explosion?  The causes are not natural calamities. The causes are political. Countries that were formerly self-supporting have become dependent on import of food products, because of the demands of the international institutions – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization – to change their cultures from what is needed for their daily food to export cultures, such as coffee, sugar cane, cotton, peanuts, etc., leaving out family farming. This neocolonial meddling in the internal affairs of third-world countries has led to a situation where these countries are no more self-sufficient, but almost totally dependent on import for their daily nourishment.

Wherever the IMF imposes a plan for 'structural adjustment', famine increases. The people are now forced to depend on imported food and other commodities. There is privatization of veterinary services and of transportation. There are no roads and the trucks arrive late or can't make it to the region in need of transportation. So what happens? The farmers can't afford the price of vaccination or vermifuge and their animals get sick and die. The harvest rots or the new seeds don't arrive. Famine follows.

What forces countries to agree to these dictates?  They are all prisoners of enormous debts to the banks in the North and in order to have those loans refinanced they need to export what those financial masters demand. In order just to pay the interest on those loans, they are rendered powerless vis-à-vis the financial behemoths in the North. The external debt, the murderous consequence of decades of dependence on the rich countries, renders impossible the freeing of these countries to enable the people to become self-sufficient without interference from the international financial institutions. They were in need of help, they got disaster.

Farmers in those countries can not support their families, the costs of fertilizers and herbicides are rising, they cannot afford to buy food and they have to leave their farms and move to the shantytowns of the big cities. The needs of the native people for a decent livelihood are of no importance. Instead they are being robbed. This decline in the lives of the indigenous people has been going on since the first colonial era.

The plans for 'structural adjustments' are ratified by our ministers of finance, by our governments, under constant pressure from the big international corporations who are making enormous profits. In order to rid the world of these crimes to humanity, we need to mobilize public opinion. In a country as profoundly democratic as France or the U.S. it should be possible for the government to raise the relatively small amount of money it would take to render these countries self-sufficient, to be able to afford pesticides, fertilizers, transportation for a subsistence agriculture.

Certainly there are also natural causes. Six years of severe drought in Australia, probably linked to global warming, have taken a severe toll on Australian agriculture. There are also natural reasons such as the growing middle classes in India and China being able to afford to eat better and especially to eat more meat. Increased demand, increased prices.

However, there are two major criminals that have not been given sufficient attention and which must be dealt with.

Speculation in commodities – the first culprit

The immediate cause for the rise in food prices is the speculation in commodities mainly at the Chicago stock exchange. According to Jean Ziegler, one thousand billion dollars of the world money supply have been lost between October and January through market speculation on the world's stock exchanges. The big speculators, the hedge funds – that's not the Red Cross, says Jean Ziegler – now speculate in soya, rice, millet, wheat and corn. They are looking for maximum profit in agricultural raw materials and are thus pushing the prices up to an explosive level. They can buy up Brazil's entire soya harvest with only 5 % of real capital. This way they risk very little if the harvest turns out to be less than expected but they stand a good chance of making astronomical profits.

The cause is the speculation in commodities, the hedge funds that create money with money. It doesn't make money from production, from an industry, from creating something of value. It is a way of making gold with air ("Ils font de l'or avec du vent"). The speculators are not bothered with food security in the world; they go where they have to go to make maximum profits.

One thousand billion dollars of inherited property have been lost since October in the world's money markets which are no more profitable. The financial markets have collapsed. The margin of profit is negative. So where do they go? They go where the speculation is worthwhile and that is in agricultural raw materials.

Those speculators are criminals because we are dealing with crimes against humanity.

Since the bi-polar world system that existed before 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union, there have been no obstacles to the savage capitalism that has now conquered the world.

UNCTAD – United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – is trying to rein in the WTO, which is the neoliberal institution that above all supports deregulation and privatization. UNCTAD is making  efforts to exert a stabilizing influence on speculation in the commodities markets. However, capitalist market forces are too strong to be subdued by the well-intentioned efforts of a UN organization.

The World Food Program is in danger

The world's largest humanitarian organization, the World Food Program (WFP), attempts to aid the people of the most afflicted countries. The survival of over 75 million people depends entirely on trucks that bring them food. People in Darfur for instance receive bags of powdered milk, bags of rice, water, just to cover the most basic needs of the refugees. They are on the edge of starvation and without food and water an emaciated person can only live for three days. After three days, he dies.
In Bangladesh, in Madhya Pradesh (India), in Da Kao (Vietnam), very often the only meal the children get is the biscuit with added vitamins, the glass of milk from the food program that is now running the risk of coming to an end.

The WFP has lost 40 % of its funds. Today they need $500 million just to be able to continue their program of supplying food to starving children. In a few days they will have to stop supplying school lunches, which 3.2 million children profit from. They are lacking, among other things, money to buy gasoline for their delivery trucks, but generally they need today – not tomorrow – millions of dollars for the continuation of their programs. The executive director of WFP said on April 17 in an email to Jean Ziegler: "In a few days, at the very latest next week, we are going to stop school lunches."

The World Bank launched an appeal to the rich countries of the North, relayed by the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki Moon, saying that we have to give those $500 million. But in spite of the modest budget of WFP, donor countries have not provided sufficient support and the CERF's (the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund) response to hunger emergencies will be limited and delayed without substantially increased funding. (Are We Approaching a Global Food Crisis - Between Soaring Food Prices and Food Aid Shortage - by Katarina Wahlberg)

Biofuels (Syngenta, Monsanto, Cargill, etc.) – the other major culprit

President Bush is now concluding that it is necessary to replace fossil fuel by biofuel which is derived from raw vegetable materials (biomass). The U.S. launched, at the cost of $6 billion to the producers, production of ethanol for this purpose. Last year the U.S burned 138 million tons of corn and hundreds of tons of grain for these very purposes. In Brazil the culture of cane sugar has expanded immensely at the detriment of the culture of food products, in spite of the fact that there are already enormous numbers of undernourished people in the country. This is also the case for the United States by the way. In the EU a decree has recently been passed that says that by 2020, in 12 years, 10 % of fuels in the 27 countries of the European Union have to come from food. There will be scientific progress in this domain though, since it will be possible in a future to produce ethanol from agricultural waste, the ears and stems of corn will be burned instead of the food part in order to produce ethanol. The only problem is that the cost of this process is much higher than the burning of the entire plant.

The heads of the three international financial organizations, Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, Dominique Strauss-Kahn of the IMF and Pascal Lamy of the WTO, are certainly well aware of the catastrophe that is underway, says Jean Ziegler. All three are convinced that subsistence agriculture must now receive an absolute priority, convinced of the urgency to radically change their policies, abandon the programs of structural adjustment and restrain forced privatization – the neoliberal policies in the world which amount to a unilateral disarming of the developing countries for the profit of the multinational corporations and of the rich countries in the North.

Jean Ziegler seems to believe in the good intentions of the three men who head the transnational institutions.[1]  He says, however, that there is not much they can accomplish against the enormous power of the multinational private companies (Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bung, etc.) who, the same as the commodity speculators, have one principal goal – that is maximum profit, which is what the shareholders are demanding. There is a balance of power between these institutions, and behind the IMF there are the private transcontinental companies, the huge banks and financial groups.

Without a total awareness in our respective countries of the looming catastrophe, this huge problem of world hunger will not find a solution. We must realize that this daily massacre of hunger is a crime that we can not tolerate.

The rich people in the world have to be made aware of this daily massacre that is taking place right under our eyes, in the third-world countries and even in the United States. It is strictly criminal. It is a question of crimes against humanity. The awareness of having the means to act against these crimes must make us impose radical change on our governments against the interests of the transnational institutions. Without these radical changes even the multinational institutions, says Jean Ziegler, can do nothing. It's up to us, the people, to rebel and by means of reasoned and democratic political acts practice international solidarity.

Addendum on Ethanol:


Ethanol And Biodiesel From Crops Not Worth The Energy


ScienceDaily (Jul. 6, 2005) – ITHACA, N.Y. – Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study. "There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel," says David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell. "These strategies are not sustainable."


In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:


* corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
* switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
* wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:

* soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
* sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.



'Là-bas si j'y suis' , Daniel Mermet's brainchild, is a progressive ("altermondialiste") radio program – its title could be translated as meaning 'Over there if I am there' – the implication clearly being that we must pay attention to what is happening in the world. In 2006 this "island of freedom" was threatened by government-subsidized France Inter with being taken off the air. Within twenty days, 200,000 people had signed a petition to "Save Là-bas". The protests succeeded, even though the time slot for the airing was changed to 3 o'clock on Friday afternoons, not a prime-time slot, by any means. Fortunately, the program's web site archives all the broadcasts, so anyone with a web browser can listen to them.
On April 18, 2008 Daniel Mermet interviewed Jean Ziegler, a French-Swiss national who until March this year had been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He is a senior professor of sociology at the
University of Geneva and at the Sorbonne, Paris. He is also the author of 'L'Empire de la honte' (Empire of Shame - A Conversation with Jean Ziegler)




[1] Olivier de Schutter, Professor of Human Rights at the University of Louvain, Belgium, does not agree with Jean Ziegler on that account. To the question: "Are the international financial institutions responsible [for the increasingly serious problems of world hunger]?" – he answers a resounding "Yes. For twenty years, they have seriously underestimated the necessity to invest in agriculture – the World Bank recognized this at the end of 2007." Schutter was appointed on March 26 to be the successor of Jean Ziegler as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food by the Counsel for Human Rights, based in Geneva.

May 4th commemoration of Kent State massacre

May 4th commemoration activities at Kent State

Kent State University will commemorate the 38th anniversary of the May 4 shootings this weekend with movies, poetry readings, a march and a ceremony, all concentrating on the question, "Where does it end?"

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent students protesting the Vietnam War. Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder were killed; nine others were injured.

This year, a poem Miller wrote in high school, in 1966, provides the commemoration's theme, "Where does it end?"

Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector, will speak on the topic at noon Sunday, May 4, in the commons. Other activities can be found at


38 years later, Kent State still goes unanswered by Jim Hillibish

...I'm a Kent Stater '71 and remember the day with bursts of memories.

Four young people — our people — were killed and nine wounded on the sunny spring day in 1970. It ended so darkly, we're still trying to find our way out of it.

My history teacher, Louis Patsouras, told me it would take 100 years to understand what happened that day, a century for the politics to still. At 38 years into the mission, Louie's still right.

I was among the 20,000 or so students who were not protesting. We were sucked into a vortex. The feeling was outrage and then powerlessness, but soon, we realized we had all lost our freedom.

The university closed that afternoon for the rest of the spring quarter. Some 22,000 students were locked out, our contracts for an education voided.


We had no chance to comprehend it. I heard it on a loudspeaker: 'The university is closed. Leave the university immediately."

Or what, get shot? That was not a small consideration nor a crazy one.

We dropped our books and got the hell out of there. Cars were jammed with kids. I saw a pickup truck drop its back axle under the weight.

When I got home, my parents acted as if I had returned from the grave. The names had yet to be released. Twenty-two thousand families all over the world were in terror.

My Dad looked me over and said. "So what happened?" This was the first of hundreds of times for that. Every time somebody found out we were from Kent, they asked that, as if our answer could take a few seconds.

If you're looking for answers in this column, forget it. I've read all the literature, watched the documentaries, and remember Dorothy Fuldheim crying on Channel 5. I still don't understand it.

I usually say it was a fatal combination of coincidences and leave it at that.


We had joked that Kent was a huge, faceless place, but we soon found it had a heart.

I remember getting a call at home from one of my professors. He asked if I was OK. Then he said we need to contact everybody in the class and organize a university away from the university.

This happened with all of my profs. They'd decided they were not going to throttle 20,000 students because of the lockout. Kent State University reconvened in the living rooms of homes across the country. We took tests by mail, and everybody graduated.

Every May 4, we drink some wine around noon and think about that day. We hear shots and screams and sirens and the "victory" bell. And then there's silence as soldiers and students alike stand on that sunny hillside thinking, "Oh, my God, what have we done here?"

That's what happened.


Punishment Park



image from

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