November 11, 2006

11/11- Fin

Why not? Yeah. -Timothy Leary

November 10, 2006

Peace being sown among olive tree

Jewish volunteers help Palestinians harvest crops

by John Murphy, Sun Foreign Reporter

The day is hot and dusty on this West Bank hillside, but 53-year-old Fuad Amer moves with the energy of a man half his age, stripping the fruit from his olive trees in giant handfuls, plucking others from the high branches with a surgeon's care.

His enthusiasm is understandable. This is the first time in four years that Amer has been able to harvest his olives.

Last year, he says, Jewish settlers set fire to his olive grove and destroyed his harvest. Before that, gun-toting settlers forced his family from the grove when they started picking. Israeli authorities, trying to avoid further confrontations, ordered him to stay away, Amer says, and the settlers helped themselves to his olives.

But this season, an Israeli high court decision granting Palestinian farmers protection from settler violence means that Amer will be able to harvest the olives from his 60 trees.

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police are patrolling stony hillside groves near Jewish settlements in the West Bank, vowing to keep the peace. Palestinians, usually fearful of Israeli authorities, are welcoming their presence.

"We are happy that the army is here. We feel like we're being protected," said Amer, who has been harvesting his olives within shouting distance of the hilltop settlement of Bracha. So far, he says, there have been no problems.

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, conflict, destruction and fear have hurt the annual harvest. Jewish settlers from hilltop communities in the West Bank have attacked and harassed pickers and cut down olive trees. Several Palestinian farmers have been killed by settlers.

The Israeli army and police have done little to stop the violence, critics say. Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, reported that 90 percent of cases of settler violence against Palestinians go unsolved. While police closed most cases, citing lack of evidence, in many instances officers failed to conduct an investigation or lost the case files, the study said.

In 2004, after Jewish settlers prevented many Palestinians from picking their olives, several Palestinian villages and two Israeli rights groups - the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights - filed a court petition to enable farmers to harvest their crop.

In June, Israel's high court ruled unanimously that the army must grant Palestinian farmers access to their olive groves at all times and protect them from settlers.

"Our policy is to allow Palestinians to get every last olive from every last tree, even if that tree is in the middle of a settlement," said Capt. Adam Avidan, a spokesman for the Israeli military's civil administration in the West Bank.

Still, this year has not been without problems. In recent weeks settlers set fire to two olive groves, Palestinian farmers say, and Israeli police arrested 10 settler youths - carrying knives, saws and brass knuckles - suspected of attacking and beating Palestinians harvesting olives, according to an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Some Palestinian farmers have turned to Israeli groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights for help. The group organizes Jewish volunteers who harvest the olives and serve as intermediaries between Jewish settlers and Palestinian farmers.

In Jit, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, a half-dozen volunteers picked olives alongside a Palestinian farmer just down the hill from the Jewish settlement of Kedumim. When an armed guard from Kedumim arrived and ordered everyone to leave, the volunteers stepped in, refusing to budge. They said the farmer had permission from Israeli authorities to harvest.

The settlement guard fumed.

"I decide where you can go," he said, vowing to return with the Israeli army to remove them.

But the Israeli army confirmed that the farmer and the volunteers were allowed to harvest.

Zakaria Sada, a Palestinian villager from Jit who works with Rabbis for Human Rights, recalls when families would gather in the fields near the settlement to picnic and pick olives. It was a time to relax, he said. But no longer.

"Now you are afraid when you pick the olives. You always have to look behind you to see where the settlers are," he said.

Settlers say it is necessary to keep Palestinian farmers far from their communities for security reasons. Palestinians say that the settlers' true goal is to push them off their land. Keeping the peace between the parties is a complicated task.

In Kfar Qalil's olive groves, it appeared as if a military operation was under way. Police patrolled the road leading to the hilltop settlements. Israeli soldiers arrived to keep an eye on farmers. Volunteers picked olives and gave regular updates by mobile phone to their organizations about any disturbances.

On a recent afternoon though, all was quiet.

Ahmed Kenna, 17, stood at the top of a ladder tugging at branches heavy with olives. It was his first time back in his family's fields in four years. Last year, his family was chased and his grandmother beaten, he said.

Working beside him was Joshua Corber, 24, a yeshiva student and volunteer for Rabbis for Human Rights.

"I think it's very important to show Arabs that there are Jews who sympathize with their cause," Corber said, as he tugged olives from the branches. "It's an important step for coexistence."

For Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, scenes of Jews and Arabs working together are the beginning - not only of a more peaceful harvest, but perhaps a greater understanding between two peoples.

"I call it the dialogue of the olive groves," Ascherman said. "There are fancy, high-paid junkets that go abroad to bring Palestinians and Israelis together in dialogue. They're important, but it's a much deeper dialogue when average Israelis and average Palestinians spend a day together, shoulder to shoulder, harvesting the olives."

November 09, 2006

War Crimes Suit Prepared against Rumsfeld

The president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, is heading to Germany today to file a new case charging outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes for authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay. [includes rush transcript] Would Rumsfeld stepping down leave him open to prosecution? In 2004, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a criminal complaint in Germany on behalf of several Iraqi citizens who alleged that a group of U.S. officials committed war crimes in Iraq. Rumsfeld was among the officials named in the complaint. The Iraqis claimed they were victims of electric shock, severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation and sexual abuse.

Germany's laws on torture and war crimes permits the prosecution of suspected war criminals wherever they may be found. Now, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, is returning to Germany to file a new complaint. Michael Ratner joins us in our firehouse studio.

* Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner joins us in our studio here in New York. Former CIA analyst Mel Goodman and journalist Bob Parry are still in Washington. Michael, why are you headed to Germany in the next few days?

MICHAEL RATNER: Thank you for having me on this issue, Amy. One of the shocking things really so far about the coverage of Rumsfeld’s resignation, there's not a word in any of it about torture. And here, Rumsfeld is one of the architects of the torture program of the United States. I mean, we have those sheets of paper that went to Guantanamo that talk about using dogs and stripping people and hooding people. We have one of our clients, al-Qahtani, who was in Guantanamo. Rumsfeld essentially supervised that entire interrogation, one of the worst interrogations that happened at Guantanamo. He actually authorized a rendition, a fake rendition of al-Qahtani, where flew him -- put a -- blindfolded him, sedated him, put him on an airplane and flew him back to Guantanamo, so he thought he would be in some torture country. So here you have Rumsfeld, one of the architects, not a word about it.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that he personally supervised it?

MICHAEL RATNER: There’s actually documents out there, that there’s part of the log that comes out. The log was published of his interrogation. And then there’s a report called the “Schmidt Report,” which was an internal investigation, in which there are statements in there about Rumsfeld being directly involved in the interrogation of al-Qahtani. So this guy has committed -- without any question, this guy has committed war crimes, violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Now, what do we do now? Well, we went to Germany before. Germany dismissed the earlier case on Rumsfeld, partly for political reasons, obviously. Rumsfeld said, “I’m not going back to Germany as long as this case is pending in Germany.” He had to go to the Munich Security Conference. They dismissed the case two days before. What they said when they dismissed it, what they said was, we think the United States is still looking into going up the chain of command, essentially, and looking into what the conduct of our officials are.

In fact, now, two years later, look where we are. One, he has resigned, so any kind of immunity he might have as a vice president [sic] from prosecution is out the window. Secondly, of course, as, you know, a little gift package to these guys, you know, our congress with the President has now given immunity to US officials for war crimes. They basically said you can’t be prosecuted for war crimes. That’s in the Military Commission Act. Now, that immunity, like the immunities in Argentina and Chile during the Dirty Wars, does not apply overseas.

So, now you have Germany sitting there with -- there’s no longer an argument the US can possibly prosecute him, because within the US, he’s out. So you have Germany sitting there with a former Secretary of Defense and basically in an immunity situation in the United States. So the chances in Germany have been raised tremendously, I think, and the stakes for Rumsfeld, not only in Germany, but anywhere that guy travels, he is going to be like the Henry Kissinger of the next period.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But then, what would you have to do? You would have to re-file the case before -- is it before an international court in Germany or in German courts?

MICHAEL RATNER: We’re actually going on Tuesday. We’re re-filing it in German courts under their law, which is universal jurisdiction, which basically says a torturer is essentially an enemy of all humankind and can be brought to justice wherever they’re found. So we are going to Germany to try and get them to begin an investigation of Rumsfeld for really a left-out part of this picture, which is the United States has essentially been on the page of torture now for five years.

AMY GOODMAN: Mel Goodman, as you listen to this, have you ever seen this, an American official concerned about going abroad -- you mentioned, Michael, Henry Kissinger -- but because they could be prosecuted? And how possible do you think this is, as a former State Department and CIA analyst?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the record is quite clear. War crimes have been committed. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld combined to sponsor the memos by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and others to sanction torture. CIA officials have committed war crimes. DOD officials have committed war crimes. If you look at the three decisions of the Supreme Court -- Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush -- clearly laws have been broken, serious laws have been broken. And now the Congress is trying to rewrite the laws to launder these charges against these people.

But the ultimate question is, will any international body take on these charges, take on these cases, and really operate against high-level American officials? And I guess I have my doubts that this will be done. But I think what Michael Ratner is doing is important to at least establish the record of this pattern of torture and abuse, secret prisons, renditions and extraordinary renditions. I think it’s unconscionable what America has done in the name of the so-called war against terrorism over the last several years. And, of course, the war against terrorism is now the mantra of this administration, and Bob Gates incorporated it a few times in his very brief remarks yesterday, upon receiving this nomination. So this is a very important issue. I’m not optimistic that a court will take it on, but I think it’s very important to get the record out there for all to see what has been done in the name of the United States. This has been unconscionable behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, the White House recently proposed changing the War Crimes Act of 1996, that would narrow the scope of punishable offenses. The new list would exclude humiliating or degrading treatment of prisoners. Military law experts believe the Bush administration is effectively rewriting parts of the Geneva Convention, but this is US law. Why do they even have to bother, if they’re granting immunity to officials in the new War Commissions Act of 2006?

MICHAEL RATNER: I’m not sure I understood. They clearly did. They already -- the Military Commission Act --

AMY GOODMAN: They already did it, but they’re also trying to change the 1996 War Crimes Act.

MICHAEL RATNER: They did do that.

AMY GOODMAN: By the new Commissions Act.

MICHAEL RATNER: The new Commissions Act actually modifies -- we have a statute that makes violations of the Geneva Conventions war crimes. Because for five years they had been violating that statute in the belief that Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to the war on terror, and as Mel said, now that the Supreme Court says the Geneva Conventions do apply, these guys are sitting there and they’re not sleeping well. They’re not sleeping well, going back, because they’ve been torturing people or violating Geneva for five years. And going foward, as the President said in that September 6 press conference, we want to continue using CIA sites and doing this to people. So they have been forced to modify the War Crimes Act. That doesn’t affect what happens in Germany, other than the fact that it now says to the Germans, “Look at, you guys, first they violated Geneva, and now they're immunizing themselves.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask Mel Goodman, given this situation, one of the things that is clear is that the military, many of even the highest-ranking military officers were in virtual rebellion against Secretary Rumsfeld, and it’s no accident that the major newspapers, the Military Times and Navy Times, just a few days before the election called for his resignation. Now, you have Bob Gates coming in and, as you say, he will try to clamp down on dissidents within the military. But given the situation in Iraq right now and this whole issue of the military being drawn more and more into war crimes through torture, do you expect that there’s going to be success in the civilian leadership led by Gates regaining control over dissent within the military?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I don’t think Gates will have a big role in this. I think the important role has been played by the military lawyers. I think the real heroes in this has been the Judge Advocates Corps, the military officers who serve as lawyers in the military, who have gotten essentially reinstatement of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a military that is obedient to the Geneva Conventions. So there’s been great progress by the Pentagon here.

I think what Gates will perform for the Pentagon is just representing the relief that all of these officers feel, that they no longer have to face the arrogance and the ignorance of Donald Rumsfeld on a day-by-day basis. So I think Gates will be in there to smooth things down at the Pentagon, in the same way that George Herbert Walker Bush came to the CIA in the 1970s at a very controversial and tendentious point in the CIA’s history, just to calm everything down for awhile, to stop the leaks, to stop the accusations, and essentially to be more loyal to the Bush administration.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask a quick question to Michael Ratner, as we wrap up. We have a new congress, Democrat congress, Democrat senate. Is there any discussion of accountability? Conyers talked about it before, when he was in the minority. Nancy Pelosi just announced impeachment is off the table. What do you want the Democrats to do?

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, the first thing I would want the Democrats to do, the absolute first thing, is restore the writ of habeas corpus to non-citizens both here in the United States and around the world. I would have them -- 48 of them voted to have it restored -- or not restored, but not taken out before. I would like to see them make an effort to do that. What are the chances of this? I think they're very low. I would love to see Conyers open a full investigation into the Iraq war. I would love to see the Intelligence Committee open a full investigation into torture.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll have to leave it there. Michael Ratner, Melvin Goodman, Robert Parry, I want to thank you all very much for being with us.


I laughed appreciatively when I first learned that ancient Hawaiian poets used to gather together to compose poems by committee. Someone would suggest a line, and the others would either nix it or refine it. Can you imagine a similar miracle occurring among the raging artistic egos of Western culture? Even for us share-and-share-alike Libertarian Socialists here at the Beauty and Truth Lab, it can sometimes be hard to drop our attachment to being inviolably special.

As a favor to pronoia, however -- as proof of our devotion to the joy of undoing our fixations -- we decided to enlist one of our crazy heroes, Hakim Bey, to commit a collaboration with us. Of course he was too busy to satisfy our request, so we decided simply to take matters into our own hands. We lifted one of his published works, stripped it down, and used it as the skeleton for our own musings. The essay below amounts to an odd kind of plagiarism, then. Very few of our words are repeats of his, but his thought process is the underpinning. Think of it as a palimpsest.

by Rob Brezsny and the Beauty and Truth Lab under the influence and
inspiration of Hakim Bey

THE UNIVERSE WANTS TO PLAY. Pity the educated cynics who refuse to
enjoy the fun, choosing instead to remain faithful to their numb logical

THE UNIVERSE WANTS TO PLAY. Mourn for the humorless devotees who
refuse to join in the raucous unpredictable game so that they might feed
their spiritual greed, pretzeled up motionless on prayer mats with the
torment of grave meditations.

THE UNIVERSE WANTS TO PLAY. Have compassion for the imagination- dead heroes who cling so tightly to the masks they've forged for
themselves that they're dead to the delight of molting.

PRONOIAC SORCERY is the daily cultivation of playfully altered states of
awareness for the purpose of accomplishing practical miracles.

PRONOIAC SORCERY begins with your hunger for ingenious beauty and
ever-fresh truth. It thrives and ripens as you discover that everything you
behold is bursting with conscious intelligence.

PRONOIAC SORCERY is not about reading auras or divining past lives. It's
not the corrupt shamanism of teachers who soar adeptly through astral
realms but treat the people in their daily lives like crap. Goddess forbid
that PRONOIAC SORCERY might be confused with the dry lust for
supernatural power and a godlike ego offered through the occult magic of
Crowley's Golden Dawn. If it's elitist hocus-pocus you want, go for the
real thing -- political power, the accumulation of financial wealth, or
becoming one of the media mind-controllers.

Your perceptions gradually open under the quiet, steady, friendly shock of
PRONOIAC SORCERY. As they do, they kill off your false will and banish
your artificial self.

Real PRONOIAC SORCERY breaks holes in the consensual hallucination
called "reality," allowing you to escape to your lost home. It
metamorphoses the place where you actually live, right here and now --
wild, messy heaven brought kicking and screaming with delight into this
eternally virgin planet Earth. Here amazement is normal; sudden mutations
-- actual transformations of things you've never before been able to
change -- are possible.

As a pronoiac sorcerer, you prove the taboo truth that all of reality is
inherently designed to bring about our liberation. Best of all, you do it not
only for yourself. The enhanced perceptions you enjoy, the altered states
you craft, are not just for your own use in the silence of your selfish
needs. As a pronoiac sorcerer, you yearn to awaken the gift in other
people, to expand the intoxication through benevolent contagion.

PRONOIAC SORCERY: Let it spread. May it multiply. Unleash it and unmask
it -- not just in exotic once-in-a-blue-moon dreams, but in the throb of the
simple dramas you live from day to day.

Everything in the universe is alive with playful intelligence and wants to
improvise with us.

Hakim Bey's original version of "The Universe Wants to Play" can be found

Amy Goodman's first Sydicated News Column

Sunday, November 5, 2006
Beyond the nine-second sound bite

My goal as a journalist is to break the sound barrier. To cut through the static and bring forth voices that are not usually heard. I am not talking about a fringe minority, or the Silent Majority, but a silenced majority, increasingly restless, of people who are looking for alternative sources of information in a complex world.

With this column, I join you in the important ritual of reading the paper, of examining the news, to discern for yourself the state of the world and your place in it. I invite you to join me in going to where the silence is, as we seek out the news and newsmakers who are ignored. This column will include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule.

If we take television as but one example, you would hardly think there are legitimate dissenting viewpoints in this world. What is typically presented to us as news analysis is, for the most part, a small circle of pundits who know so little about so much, attempting to explain the world to us. While they may appear to differ, they are quibbling over how quickly the bombs should be dropped, not asking whether they should be dropped at all.

Unfortunately, as a result, people are increasingly turning away from the news, when news media should be providing a forum for discussion -- a forum that is honest, open, that weighs all the options and includes voices so often excluded, yet deeply affected by U.S. policy around the globe.

It is the job of the media to be the exception to the rulers, to hold those in power accountable for their decisions, to challenge and to ask the hard questions -- in short, to be the public watchdog. We in the media need to find stories of hope. We need to tell those stories that resonate with people, to tell stories of the people who live far from the rarified concerns of that passel of pundits crowding and crowing on the small screen. We need to hear local discussions cast in a global frame.

In this new media environment, what daily local and regional papers can consistently offer their readerships are the authentic voices of people in their communities dealing with a globalized world. We don't have to wait for the alternative media; we are building it right now.

Newspapers have always held a central role for my indie media colleagues in our daily newsgathering. In this column, I hope to go beyond the nine-second sound bite to bring you the whole meal, grass-roots voices in this community as well as in communities around the world.

This column will be a forum for stories from the streets, not the suites. It will engage you on the most important issues of the day, but it will engage you, I hope, with a relevance to everyday life. It will bring out the voices like those in your community, from all over the world, of people who now live in an increasingly globalized community. These unprecedented changes are affecting everyone, everywhere, in related ways. This is the tenor and direction I hope to bring to this column.

I see the media as a huge kitchen table that stretches across this country, one where we all sit around to debate and discuss the most critical issues of the day: war and peace, life and death. Anything less than that is a disservice to a democratic society.

Amy Goodman hosts the radio news program Democracy Now! Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

November 08, 2006



Mr. LEAHY. I understand. We entered into a unanimous-consent agreement that I would have been able to speak.

To get back at the subject at hand.

This was a difficult decision. It came after extensive meetings with Mr. Gates, Senator Boren, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee whom I respect greatly and other members of the Intelligence Committee, including some of those who voted against Mr. Gates in the Committee--for whom I have great respect--discussions by my staff with committee staff on the hearings, and a careful review of the lengthy committee report.

The decision was a close call. Mr. Gates who I expect will be confirmed easily, carries a heavy load on his shoulders. There remain concerns about his passivity during the Iran-Contra fiasco, and widespread charges about his willingness to tell those above him what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Fairly or not, he bears the legacy of the Casey years, when deceit, misinformation, illegal operations and, to put it charitably, misleading of the oversight committees and Congress were the norm.

Most troubling of all, there is a deeply disturbing pattern of allegations from past and present analysts in the CIA that Mr. Gates, from time to time, committed the cardinal sin against objective intelligence analysis--that he slanted key intelligence judgments to suit the policy proclivities of William Casey and the Reagan White House.

Based on my detailed discussions with Mr. Gates, with Senator Boren, current and former leaders of the intelligence community, and my reading of the record, I cannot find any smoking gun on any of these allegations. None of the evidence unambiguously points to mistakes or activities by Mr. Gates that clearly disqualify him for the post of Director of Central Intelligence.

In reaching this decision to vote for Robert Gates, I gave great weight to several arguments in his favor.

First, there is my own long association with Mr. Gates, first in my capacity as vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and since in my capacity as chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee and member of the Defense Subcommittee especially in dealing with appropriations for intelligence matters. In all these positions, when I have had to deal with Mr. Gates, at times on quite sensitive intelligence or foreign policy matters, I have found him to be forthcoming, cooperative, and candid. Of the many senior intelligence or White House policy officials with whom I have dealt during the Reagan and Bush administrations, Mr. Gates has struck me as one of the few who actually understands and acts on the validity of and need for congressional oversight. I have had briefings from him straight through this year and I found him to be candid in those briefings.

Whether this cooperation reflects genuine conviction that oversight is a vital protection against abuse, or merely a realistic acceptance of the power and authority of Congress is irrelevant. The fact is that in all my dealings with him, so far as I can tell, Mr. Gates has never held back sharing sensitive and highly classified intelligence and other information from me. Leaders of the Intelligence Committee tell my they have had the same experience.

Then, there are Mr. Gates' personal qualifications. He is extraordinarily experienced in intelligence, with over 25 years in the field. The intelligence community, including the CIA, is going to pass through one of the most turbulent periods in its history over the next 3 or 4 years. Profound adjustments to the ending of the cold war will be necessary. The intelligence budget, which has grown for a decade, is now going to shrink and perhaps substantially. Three will be reductions in personnel and resources. There will be major redefinitions of missions and roles. U.S. intelligence will look a lot different 3 or 4 years from now.

A strong, experienced hand is needed to guide U.S. intelligence through this period of restructuring and readjustment. Mr. Gates is highly qualified to provide the leadership the intelligence community needs.

Third, to be blunt, Mr. President, Mr. Gates, with all his flaws and with all the clouds hanging over him, is surely far more qualified for this important position than anyone the White House is likely to put forward if he is not confirmed. One of the most troubling failures of the Bush White House is the recent pattern of mediocre, politically motivated appointments to key positions. I dread to think what kind of `no record, no opinions, no ideas' cipher the White House handlers would find if Mr. Gates is rejected.

It would probably be someone picked more for his or her lack of any controversial views or experience than a person the President believes is best suited to head U.S. intelligence in what is certain to be a very rough period.

Mr. President, I will vote for Mr. Gates. But in doing so, I want to send him a message. The following words are directed to him.

Mr. Gates, insofar as I can do so as one Senator, I will strongly react to any credible information that indicates you or your aides are politicizing intelligence analysis to suit your personal views or the ideological or policy desires of the White House. I will do so through my work on the intelligence budget in the Defense Subcommittee, through discussions with the Intelligence Committee leadership, and, if necessary, by going to the Senate leadership.

Furthermore, if it ever comes to my attention that any of the current or former CIA analysts who came forward to offer information or views about your record or your suitability to be Director of Central Intelligence are being punished, harassed or otherwise penalized, I will go immediately to the Intelligence Committee to ask for decisive action against you. I welcome the strong statement the present chairman of the committee has made in this regard, and having served with Senator Boren on that committee, I know, when Senator Boren makes a statement of that nature, he will carry it out.

And, finally, if it ever comes out that despite your statements to the contrary, you knew of or were involved in the abuses of the Casey era, including the diversion of money to the Contras from the Iran arms for hostages deals, I will urge your removal from office. Knowing me as you do, you would not expect anything else.

Mr. President, let me say in the positive area, Mr. Gates will have a superb opportunity to overcome the doubts and reservations of many during the coming years. I hope I have occasion in the future to commend him for his leadership. On balance, I expect that to be the case.

There is a difficult time ahead for the intelligence community in this country. It is not amateur hour, nor should it be. At the same time, if this country ever needed an intelligence community that could give straightforward, honest, objective analysis devoid of trying to twist it for policy considerations, that time is now. And so, with an act of faith that we will get that from the new Director, I will vote for Robert Gates.

Chomsky discovers roots of terrorism

“The problem lies in the unwillingness to recognize that your own terrorism is terrorism”
-Noam Chomsky

As the U.S. crucial congressional elections draw near, the debate over the U.S. President’s decision to invade Iraq and his so-called “war on terror” gets heated.

The American academic Noam Chomsky who has been the foremost critic of America's imperial adventures for more than three decades here tackles the roots of terrorism and the role of the U.S. and the British governments in fighting or spreading it.

Excalibur (Ex): How important is an understanding of the role of states such as the U.S. and the UK when examining the question of terrorism?

Chomsky (Ch): It depends on whether we want to be honest and truthful or whether we want to just serve state power ( . . . ) We should look at all forms of terrorism.

I have been writing on terrorism for 25 years, ever since the Reagan administration came in 1981 and declared that the leading focus of its foreign policy was going to be a war on terror. A war against state directed terrorism which they called the plague of the modern world because of their barbarism and so on. That was the centre of their foreign policy and ever since I have been writing about terrorism.

But what I write causes extreme anger for the very simple reason that I use the U.S. government's official definition of terrorism from the official U.S. code of laws. If you use that definition, it follows very quickly that the U.S. is the leading terrorist state and a major sponsor of terrorism and since that conclusion is unacceptable, it arouses furious anger. But the problem lies in the unwillingness to recognize that your own terrorism is terrorism. This is not just true of the United States, it's true quite generally. Terrorism is something that they do to us. In both cases, it's terrorism and we have to get over that if we're serious about the question.

Ex: In 1979, Russia invades Afghanistan. The U.S. uses the Ziaul Haq regime in Pakistan to fund the rise of militancy. This gives Zia a green light to fund cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. Now we allegedly have some of those elements setting off bombs in Mumbai. Clearly, these groups are no longer controlled by any government.

Ch: The jihadi movements in their modern form go back before Afghanistan. They were formed primarily in Egypt in the 1970s. Those are the roots of the jihadi movement, the intellectual roots and the activist roots and the terrorism too.

But when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the Regan administration saw it as an opportunity to pursue their Cold War aims. So they did with the intense cooperation of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and others ( . . . ) so the Reagan administration organized the most radical Islamic extremists it could find anywhere in the world and brought them to Afghanistan to train them, arm them.

Meanwhile, the U.S. supported Ziaul Haq as he was turning Pakistan into a country full of madrassahs and fundamentalists. The Reagan administration even ( . . . ) kept certifying to Congress that Pakistan was not developing nuclear weapons, which of course they were, so that U.S. aid to Pakistan could continue. The end result of these U.S. programs was to seriously harm Pakistan and also to create the international jihadi movement, of which Osama bin Laden is a product. The jihadi movement then spread ( . . . ) they may not like it much but they created it. And now, as you say, it's in Kashmir.

Kashmir, though, is a much more complex story. There are plenty of problems in Kashmir and they go way back, but the major current conflicts come from the 1980s. In 1986, when India blocked the election, it actually stole the election, and that led to an uprising and terrorist violence and atrocities, including atrocities committed by the Indian army.

Ex: The colonial legacy is generally dismissed by the media. What role does this legacy play in the emergence of home-grown terrorists in countries such as the U.S., the UK and Canada as well as to the creation of terrorism as a whole?

Ch: It's not brought up in the West because it's inconvenient to think about your own crimes. Just look at the major conflicts going on around the world today, in Africa, the Middle East, in South Asia, most of them are residues of colonial systems.

Colonial systems imposed and created artificial states that had nothing to do with the needs and concerns and relations of the populations involved.

They were created in the interests of colonial powers and as old fashioned colonialism turned into modern neo-colonialism, a lot of these conflicts erupted into violence and those are a lot of the atrocities happening in the world today.

How can anyone say colonialism isn't relevant? Of course it is and it's even more directly relevant.

Take the London bombing in 2005. Blair tried to pretend that it had nothing to do with Britain's participation in the invasion of Iraq. That's completely ridiculous. The British intelligence and the reports of the people connected in the bombing, they said that the British participation in the invasion and resulting horrors in Iraq inflamed them and they wanted to do something in reaction.

Ex: What keeps you motivated?

Ch: I'll just tell you a brief story. I was in Beirut a couple of months ago giving talks at the American university in the city. After a talk, people come up and they want to talk privately or have books signed.

Here I was giving a talk in a downtown theatre, a large group of people were around and a young woman came up to me, in her mid-'20s, and just said this sentence: "I am Kinda" and practically collapsed. You wouldn't know who Kinda is but that's because we live in societies where the truth is kept hidden. I knew who she was. She had a book of mine open to a page on which I had quoted a letter of hers that she wrote when she was seven years old.

It was right after the U.S. bombing of Libya, her family was then living in Libya, and she wrote a letter which was found by a journalist friend of mine who tried to get it published in the United States but couldn't because no one would publish it. He then gave it to me, I published it. The letter said something like this:

"Dear Mr Reagan, I am seven years old. I want to know why you killed my little sister and my friend and my rag doll. Is it because we are Palestinians? Kinda". That's one of the most moving letters I have ever seen and when she walked up to me and said I am Kinda, and, like I say, actually fell over, not only because of the event but because of what it means.

Here's the United States with no pretext at all, bombing another country, killing and destroying, and nobody wants to know what a little seven-year-old girl wrote about the atrocities. That's the kind of thing that keeps me motivated and ought to keep everybody motivated. And you can multiply that by 10,000.

Chomsky has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. His works include: Aspects of the Theory of Syntax; Cartesian Linguistics; Sound Pattern of English (with Morris Halle); Language and Mind; American Power and the New Mandarins; At War with Asia; For Reasons of State; Peace in the Middle East?; Reflections on Language; The Political Economy of Human Rights, Vol. I and II (with E.S. Herman); Rules and Representations; Lectures on Government and Binding; Towards a New Cold War; Radical Priorities; Fateful Triangle; Knowledge of Language; Turning the Tide; Pirates and Emperors; On Power and Ideology; Language and Problems of Knowledge; The Culture of Terrorism; Manufacturing Consent (with E.S. Herman); Necessary Illusions; Deterring Democracy; Year 501; Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and US Political Culture; Letters from Lexington; World Orders, Old and New; The Minimalist Program; Powers and Prospects; The Common Good; Profit Over People; The New Military Humanism; New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind; Rogue States; A New Generation Draws the Line; 9-11; and Understanding Power.

Israeli bombardment of Beit Hanoun kills at least 18, including 11 from one family

Israel has renewed its assault on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 18 Palestinians on Wednesday morning.

Palestinian medical sources reported that dozens of Palestinian citizens had been killed or injured in an Israeli artillery bombardment of Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza Strip. A large number of women and children were also injured in the shelling.

The sources said the preliminary number of the citizens killed is 18, but rising. In addition, more than 35 were injured. Many of the dead arrived at the hospital fragmented in pieces.

The bombing targeted the house of two brothers, Sa'ed and Sa'di Al-'Athamneh from Al-Kafarneh district in the town of Beit Hanoun.

Eleven members of the Al-'Athamneh family were killed, including a one-year old girl. The killed are:

Ne'meh Al-'Athamneh
Mohammed Al-'Athamneh
Mahmoud Al-'Athamneh
Mahdi Al-'Athamneh
Sa'ed Al-'Athamneh
Moha,med Al-'Athamneh
Fatmeh Al-'Athamneh
Nihad Al-'Athamneh
Arafat Al-'Athamneh
Dima Al-'Athamneh (1-year-old girl)
Another young girl, Ala' Al-'Athamneh

The medical services are identifying the rest of the dead but it is proving difficult to identify them due to their fragmented bodies and the critical condition in which they arrived at the Kamal 'Udwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya. In Kamal 'Udwan Hospital, there are 12 dead and in Kamal Naser Hospital there are 4 dead. The number of people killed is raising by the minute.

Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli artillery bombed the houses while the residents were sleeping, resulting in the large number of casualties. Palestinians are comparing this massacre to the Qana massacre by the Israeli army in south Lebanon three months ago.

The government spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, appealed to the international community on the Al-Jazeera satellite channel to mobilize and stop Israel carrying out such massacres against unarmed Palestinians.

Reports are also coming in that armed Palestinians are firing at the European Union building in Gaza City.

Chicago anti-war musician burns himself to death in rush hour traffic

Local Musician Martyrs Himself for Peace
07 Nov 2006

Chicago Indymedia has learned that last Friday local music and art afficianado and peace advocate Malachi Ritscher burned himself to death on the side of the Kennedy Expressway near downtown Chicago during the morning rush hour. Near Malachi's remains, police found a camcorder with videotape inside and a homemade sign that read "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

Besides the note and videotape at the scene, Malachi also left a longer letter explaining his actions and his motivations. "What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy?" he wrote. "If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country."

Malachi was among more than seven hundred peace protesters who were illegally arrested on March 20, 2003, when thousands turned out to protest the beginning of the U.S. war on Iraq. His death, to date has received very little news coverage — and outlets that did report his death treated it as a simple suicide and the cause for slower-than-usual traffic that morning. The contents of the videotape he left have not been made public. Read more here, here and here.

Malachi's websites: savagesound | myspace

November 07, 2006

Two Smart Books for Kids: A Reading 11/14

Martin Perna and Ricardo Cortés cross the continent to read from their children's books: "BLACKOUT!" and "It's Just a Plant" at Guerilla Cafe, Berkeley on Tues 11/14 at 6pm.
From Brooklyn with Love: Two Smart Books for Kids

A Reading November 14, 2006 at Guerilla Café, Berkeley

WHAT: Martín Perna and Ricardo Cortés will be reading from their children’s books BLACKOUT! and It’s Just a Plant. This event is FREE!

WHEN: 6 PM at Guerilla Café at 1629 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, CA.

BLACKOUT!, written by Martín Perna (founder of musical group Antibalas and saxophonist for TV on the Radio), is a true tale of the 36 hour blackout that affected the northeast USA in 2003. Illustrated in a coloring book format by Ricardo Cortés, we see how urban communities unite to use their imaginations to cope without electricity and in the process discover the beauty of darkness. For more information on BLACKOUT! visit:

In addition to illustrating BLACKOUT!, Ricardo Cortés is author and illustrator of It's Just a Plant, a children's story of marijuana. Ricardo will read excerpts from this controversial book, which has been called "a glimpse of what enlightened drug education could be," by Dr. Andrew Weil, and attacked by Bill O'Reilly and the Office of Federal Drug Policy. For more information of It's Just a Plant, check out:

The readings will begin at Guerilla Café shortly after 6pm, followed by book signing, discussion, and a collaborative coloring project of BLACKOUT! Refreshments will be served.

For more information visit:

Josh Wolf: Independent Media and "Professionalism"

[Editor's Note from Karen Slattery]:
Last month in our Ethics column, we called for a conversation about who counts or should count as a 'journalist' in the digital age. We are printing a response from the subject of that column, Josh Wolf. Wolf is in a California prison for refusing to turn over his video outtakes to a federal grand jury. Normally, The Digital Journalist does not print letters from readers in full. This month we are doing so because this problem is so important to the field. As Josh has no e-mail access in prison, his letter was typed and forwarded to us by his mother, Liz Wolf-Spada. She says that Josh in indeed the author. We hope that you will take a moment to read the letter, consider the issue and share your thoughts with us. We will follow up. The conversation is just beginning.

In your October Ethics column, "We Need to Talk...," you implicitly suggested that I should be protected from having to testify and provide my unpublished material, if and only if, I am a professional journalist. While I certainly understand your argument that a reporter's privilege must be very narrowly applied or the justice system would collapse, I cannot help but feel the criterion you've proposed is inherently flawed.

At best, the suggestion of narrowly defining who qualifies as a protected journalist will result in an elite class of professionals who work for mainstream media outlets, while reporters for the alternative press would be given no choice but to practice their craft without a net. More likely, I anticipate that this approach would establish a state-sanctioned journalist license, and anyone would be subject to having [his or] her license revoked should [he or] she stray from the party line. At worst, independent voices could be subject to prosecution for practicing journalism without a license.

The First Amendment was not written to protect the Hearst Corporation and its thousands of employees, although it certainly should. When the Founding Fathers set out to guarantee a free press they really did seek to protect independent journalists and pamphleteers, such as Thomas Paine and his Common Sense.

The problem with only protecting professionals, while denying these protections to those who do not rely on their reportage to support themselves financially is two-fold. For one, students of journalism must be protected - if they are not, they will be denied the opportunity to engage in serious newsgathering during their education and thus [be] unprepared to enter the field as professionals. Secondly, if independents are denied these protections, then who will report on mainstream journalists who abuse their professional standing?

What about the stories that are ignored or neglected by the mainstream media? Are those issues really not worthy of coverage simply because the established media has deemed them unfit for airtime? If it is important that these stories are covered, then isn't it also important that journalists investigating these stories be protected?

Who should be protected? As Jeff Jarvis mused previously, Tony Soprano shouldn't be able to insulate himself by simply creating a blog, but I do feel that the mommy-blogger who happens to break a story about a dishonest baby food company should not be forced to out her confidential sources. In my opinion, anyone's journalist activities should be protected whether or not he is paid for his work. After all, a journalist is supposedly a public servant and if he or she is working due to his or her own conscience and without financial compensation, how can this possibly invalidate him or her as a public servant?

But would this broad application to the journalist shield lead the justice system to collapse? I doubt it, but there is a more sensible approach to limiting these protections without establishing an exclusive class of protected journalists. By applying a balancing test between the need for law enforcement to obtain this information against the damage that would be inflicted to the rights of a free press, many of these cases can be resolved without the establishment of a state-sanctioned press.

For example, in my case the federal government has asserted that a protester threw a firework in the vicinity of a police car four days after the Fourth of July. The U.S. Attorney has argued that this was an attempt to burn the San Francisco police vehicle and should therefore be a federal investigation, but according to the police report, the car did not burn. Despite the fact that I've stated for the record that I neither filmed nor witnessed the alleged incident and despite the fact that we've offered to screen the complete footage for the judge, I am currently sitting in a federal prison cell for protecting my sources and unpublished material.

If I were to submit to the government demands, then it would no longer be possible for sources to trust me with privileged information; I would be denied the unfettered access that I've been granted as a result of establishing a trusted relationship with Bay Area activists, and I would thus be unable to fully report on civil dissent in the San Francisco region. Forcing me to comply with this subpoena would and has created a chilling effect, which should be balanced against the federal government's need to investigate the alleged crime that may have occurred and which resulted, if it even happened, in no significant damage to the police vehicle that suffered only a broken taillight.

- Josh Wolf

Uganda: Students, police clash over pay raise for lecturers

A Makerere University lecturers strike yesterday took a violent twist after it sucked in students who engaged riot Police in running battles.

Riled by a delay to resolve the lecturers pay rise demands which cost them their lectures, the students rampaged through the university, looting, barricading roads and setting bonfires.

Lumumba Hall residents lit bonfires at 7:00pm on Monday and moved from one hall to another mobilising students to join the strike, the Police said.

However, the university remained quiet in the night but violence erupted early morning when the students burgled the Guild Canteen, vandalised and emptied it of beer.

They broke into the newly-refurbished Senior Staff Club, emptied it of beer, vandalised it and scattered furniture.
They also vandalised the counter, pulled off refrigerators’ doors, looted all the goodies and lined the fence with knickers and brassieres. One of them attempted to de-roof the structure with a hoe.

Kampala Police chief Grace Turyagumanawe, who supervised the operation and addressed Nsibirwa hall residents, said the situation began degenerating on Monday night.

“At about 7:00pm, we began getting reports and stepped up surveillance but the situation escalated in the morning at about 5:00am when the students blocked the roads, lit bonfires and raided Lumumba hall canteen,” Turyagumanawe said.

But by 10:00am, relative calm had returned to the campus. Police spokesman Edward Ochom was on the spot.

The Police condemned the students’ behaviour as thuggery and hooliganism.

Four suspected looters were arrested and detained at the Wandegeya Police station, Turyagumanawe said. The Police identified them as Ronald Kyobe, a first-year student of tourism, Andrew Mubiru, a second-year student of social sciences and Alex Kagoro, a student of economics. Another 13 students, seven of them girls, were detained, raising the number to 17.

A 9:00am meeting by the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) was called off. However, the MUASA executive, who disagreed with Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi on Monday, met President Yoweri Museveni yesterday afternoon. Museveni is to meet the entire MUASA team today.

Early in the morning, anti-riot Police battled with striking students in Mitchell and Nkrumah halls. As they lobbed teargas at them, the students hurled back stones and obscenities.

They mocked the Police with derogatory songs. They sang, “Police our enemy; we shall never forget you.”

The much dreaded water canon sprayed teargas and shot powerful blasts of itching blue water into the halls, scattering the students. But the Police also had a rough time outside the main campus. Like their counterparts, students residing in hostels on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road and in the sprawling Kikoni slum, engaged the Police in a cat-and-mouse game, pelting them with stones before vanishing and regrouping later.

Military Police and armoured personnel vehicles were also deployed to quell the situation.

There was drama when the Police decided to flog the students off the streets. The students fled into Makerere Full Gospel Church where they melted into the lunch time congregation. The Police stopped outside.

Students lit fires on all roads in the university and at the main gate, which remained closed most of yesterday and was manned by heavily-armed policemen backed by special police constables. Entry and exit from the campus was restricted. The atmosphere was tense. Outside, all roads leading to and around the campus were sealed off and traffic diverted, creating huge traffic jams.

Fearing losses from rampaging students, Wandegeya, Kikoni and Kagugube residents kept their shops closed. Reports said the business community were armed with machettes to fend off looting students.

Laura Ingraham Tells Listeners To Crank Call Voter Protection Hotline


UPDATE: Laura Ingraham has asked her listeners to call the Dem Voter protection hotline - and they are now being flooded with calls from crank callers. Please call Laura and tell her what you think about this: 800.876.4123. You can e-mail her here. Apparently, voter intimidation and fraud are a joke to Laura Ingraham. Let's let her know that it is no joke.

UPDATE #2: More on Laura Ingraham: "caller indicated she is running a tape of Bill Clinton over and over saying "call 1-888 Dem Vote to report problems" - and then making fun of him, thus producing a spike in crank calls to the number" Protecting voter integrity is no joke. And I am not laughing. If anyone has audio of this, I'd love it.

In California, this is the year to vote third party

Tuesday's election gives progressives a unique opportunity to give a boost to third parties, especially Peace & Freedom and the Greens.

Perhaps because she is neither as smug nor as arrogant in her affect as Joe The Kiss Lieberman, Diane Feinstein doesn't inspire the same degree of liberal loathing as the odiferous Connecticut senator,The Peace & Freedom Party even though California's senior senator has supported the war, is as insensitive to civil liberties as George Bush's favorite Democrat, and, if anything, is more reliably pro-business. Since she is no danger of defeat at the hands of the GOP's sacrificial lamb, a vote for Peace and Freedom's Marsha Feinland will help that venerable party of the left stay on the ballot ...

The Green and Peace & Freedom candidates are as qualified as their opponents, in many cases considerably more so, P&F's Feinlandso there is no reason not to give them support. Feinland, for example, is not simply an anti-war candidate. She has outlined progressive positions on issues as varied the minimum wage, universal health care, labor laws, the death penalty, the "war" on drugs, education, the environment, electoral reform, among other topics. The bottom line, however, is that a vote for Feinland is a vote for keeping the Peace and Freedom Party on future ballots where it may be needed (the Green Party doesn't face the same risk, because a sufficient number of voters have registered Green).

Phil Angelides, who as the state's treasurer shifted California's pension dollars from the stock market to community investments Angelides and friendand who is a strong proponent shareholder activism, would normally be a natural choice for voters who favor universal health care, public campaign financing, and strong environmental laws. The Governator, on the other hand, vetoed universal health care and almost every environmental bill that he could lay his hands on, the good press he's been getting on Global Warming notwithstanding. He also helped defend the unjust, counter-productive and expensive "three strikes" law when it looked like the voters might reform it in the last round of ballot measures two years ago, and has no compunctions against executing people. Arnold has raised more money from special interests than any governor in history; even his allies don't The GreenPartytrust him to have a solid position on anything: he is the very model of the packaged candidate -- when the new "conservative" Schwartzenegger was a political disaster in 2004, he reached into the wardrobe department for the "moderate" costume he wore originally to win his office from Gray Davis. It seemed for a while that the real Schwartzenegger had emerged in 2003-4, but it's become clear since he has no principles whatsoever.

However, with the polls showing that Angelides is about to be crushed like a Dixie Cup at Gold's Gym, progressives should consider giving their vote for governor to Peace & Freedom's Janice Jordan. Angelides has run such a disastrous campaign against the incumbent -- for most of it, hisP&F's Jordan principal argument was that he should get your vote because the Republican governor had been seen from time to time in the company of the Republican president -- that you were left to wonder how smart his decisions as chief executive would be. Too bad, because there was a case to be made against Schwartzenegger and Angelides had a strong record from which to make it.

Although, like most reasonable people, Janice Jordan opposes the war, as a candidate for state office she has sensibly not made foreign policy a focus of her campaign. Instead, she has outlined programs to advance health care, public safety, small business, wages, low cost housing, public ownership of utilities, and the arts, among others. Take a look at her website for more details.

Also worth considering is the Green's Peter Camejo, whose biannual runs for office on a sensible reform platform is turning him into the Norman Thomas of the 21st Century Norman Thomas(okay, I admit that comparison is a wee bit over the top). Someday, perhaps in the lifetime of someone not yet born, Camejo's calls for reigning in the corporations, for labor rights and a living wage, for fair elections, campaign finance reform and run-offs in state-wide elections, for a just criminal justice Green' Camejosystem and an end to "three strikes" and the death penalty, for women's rights and reproductive freedom, for a guaranteed quality education for everyone (including equal access to resources such as books, school facilities that work, and great teachers who are paid enough to stay in the profession), for a more rational approach to drug addiction, for universal health care, and so on, will be as commonplace as Thomas' once-radical call for Social Security.

The race for State Treasurer is another chance to boost the third parties. As Attorney General, the Democrat aspirant, Bill Lockyer, scurried to the head of the lynch mob that descended on the capital, faggots ablaze, to execute Stanley P&F's Sanders"Tookie" Williams, which is enough for me, but in his role as AG, he also actively failed to take on predatory lending, a big problem in California; and he accepted contributions from companies that, as the state's top cop, he was supposed to regulate. By contrast, long-time Oakland community activist Gerald Sanders (Peace & Freedom) and Mehul Thakker (Green) The Green's Thakkerhave each put forward thoughtful, progressive ideas on how the state should handle its finances, including tax reform, moving the state's deposits away from corporate banks, investing in renewable energy and otherwise using the state's cache of cash to benefit the environment, the schools, and the state's low-income communities, although Sanders, especially, has a little trouble staying focused on the issues at hand. (You can see and hear Thakker in a video on YouTube.)

Cruz Bustamante's political career would have been more fun to watch if we hadn't also had to endure it. Termed out of the Lt. Governor's chair, where fecklessness is a job qualification, he is running for Cruz ControlInsurance Commissioner as the candidate from Weight Watchers. While it's clear he's taking a lot of pride in having slimmed down, the other sources of his self-esteem are a mystery. You'd have thought that his pathetic run for governor in the election that rewarded us der Ahnold would have put a capper on his career in Sacramento, but now he wants a job where, ethically challenged and lazy, he can really do some harm.

In the current contest, Cruz began by accepting contributions from theThe Green's Cafiero insurance industry he is promising to oversee, then turned them back when it looked like enough voters might be offended by this lapse in judgment to force upon him the need to look for real work. Plus, there is no evidence he has -- you should pardon the expression -- the stomach for the job. His P&F's ConditRepublican opponent, businessman Steve Poizner, will be even less inclined than the feeble Cruz to fight for consumers, leaving voters with a choice between the Green's Larry Cafiero (who earned the coveted endorsement of the San Francisco League of Young Voters' aptly titled "Pissed Off Voter Guide") and Peace & Freedom's Tom Condit, either of whom is preferable to the hacks served up by the major parties.

In a few congressional districts, Green and Peace & Freedom candidates would be the best choices by far.

In the far west's 36th CD, Peace & Freedom's Jim Smith, P&F's Smitha labor activist, is waging strong but, alas, futile campaign in the Beach Cities against militarist Jane Harman. Although the right-wing Democrat is wildly out of sync with her district -- she supports every iteration of war and all restrictions on civil liberties (she backed Bush on torture, for pete's sake), as the richest member of Congress (her wealth comes from military contracts, natch), the steely Harman is nearly impossible to challenge. Still, any vote against her will be rewarded in heaven.

Meanwhile, in the 30th, on the west side of L.A. County where I live, Peace & Freedom's Adele Cannon, Adele and Oneil Cannona veteran campaigner for radical causes, is running against Henry Waxman, outraged at the Democratic congressman for voting for the war and the Patriot Act. Waxman is not nearly as liberal as his reputation, or the politics of his constituents, would lead you to believe. He gets good marks for standing up to the Republicans on the easy issue of corruption, but he has been terrible on the mysteriously difficult-for-Dems matter of U.S. predatoriness in Iraq and (soon) Iran. Send Waxman a message: Give your vote to the feisty Cannon.

The only reason to consider Harman a bigger problem than Howard Berman is that she is infinitely more powerful inside the House (although Nancy Pelosi has promised to depose her from her seat on the intelligence committee should the minority leader become Speaker). The race against Berman is more important than either the Harman or Waxman races, however, because the challenger, Byron De Lear, could actually win! Berman also represents a liberalThe Green's De Lear district -- the 28th covers San Fernando, Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, Van Nuys, and North Hollywood. The Valley congressman is the only California Democrat who still supports the war, but if he were as dovish as Ghandi he still should be kicked out for being anti civil liberties, anti corporate accountability, and anti anything that gets in the way of an imperialist foreign policy. De Lear...Now! De Lear...Now! De Lear...Now! Consult the list of towns in the 28th, call your friends who live there and tell them to vote.

In the 29th, covering Glendale and vicinity, another dedicated peace activist, P&F's LlamasPeace & Freedom's Linda Llamas, and the Green Party's Bill Paparian , a progressive lawyer and former mayor of Pasadena, are spotlighting the dismal record Green's Paparianof Democratic incumbent Adam Schiff (no similarity to his namesake on early episodes of Law and Order) rivaling Berman's on civil liberties, foreign policy and the war. Give Schiff a passadena and vote for Llamas or Paparian.

On the Assembly level, Green Ricardo Costa, in the sprawling 44th, centered on Pasadena but extending from La Canada to Duarte, and, in the 53rd running along the beach from Venice to Torrance, Peace & Freedom's Karl Abrams are seasoned activists who would bolster the progressive agenda in Sacramento.

Historically, third parties have been mechanisms for advancing new or initially unpopular political ideas, provided a brake on the excesses of the major parties, and held out the possibility of political change. Rather than vote for defective Democrats because the Republicans have offered someone who may be even worse, this year liberals get a chance to cast votes for third party candidates with clear consciences. The Dems have managed to come up with candidates in some races that are so bad it literally doesn't matter who is victorious. In no contest mentioned here will a third party vote throw the election to a Republican. Nor will any harm come from voting third party in the rare instances where a Green or Peace & Freedom candidate might win: De Lear, for example, has promised to vote with the Democrats to organize the House should the party gain a majority; besides, control of the legislature will be useless anyway, if it is dependent on the likes of Howard Berman.

The Green's Camejo has a TV ad budget of about $7,000, barely coffee money for his bigger rivals, to get a little cable time in Sacramento, the Bay Area and L.A. The gubernatorial hopeful suggests that many Democrats would like to vote Green, but don't want to waste their vote. "This time," Camejo says, "the Democratic candidate is not going to win, so you're free to vote for whoever you want. In fact, a vote for the Democrat will send no message. But a vote for the Green Party...this would be a powerful message." The same argument could be made by the Peace & Freedom Party, if it had $7,000, and a vote for Peace & Freedom for governor and senator is more than a vote against the war; it's also a vote for the long-term viability of alternative politics.

Haight Street Mural Gets a Makeover, and a Series of New Faces

By Eric Zassenhaus
November 6, 2006

The restoration of a prominent Haight Street mural depicting influential American anarchists was unveiled Wednesday night displaying ten new activists, including Brad Will, the New York journalist killed last Friday in protests in Oaxaca, Mexico.

"All of the people in the mural in some way or another took risks," said Susan Greene, the artist who painted the original mural in 1994 and oversaw its restoration. "He died to cover the story. That's kind of heroic to me. I wanted to mark his life in some way."

Will appears at the bottom right corner of the mural with his video camera, seemingly recording the menagerie of political activists - some decked out in turn of the century suits and bow ties, others in flowing hippie garb or more casual street wear. All stand before shelves of multicolored books, looking around with bemused discomfort.

The original mural on an 8-by-20 foot board featured 20 activists; the restoration kept the mural at the same size.

The "Anarchists in America" mural is part of Bound Together Books, the anarchist bookstore around the corner. It was a local landmark until three years ago when graffiti damaged it and it was taken down.

"Over the last three years, people have asked about the mural," said Tom Alder, a member of the bookstore's collective since 1979. "It's good to have it back."

Bound Together was founded in 1976, on a corner just down the street from its current location at Haight and Masonic. Entirely run by volunteers and managed by group consensus, the store stocks politically and culturally subversive books and magazines.

In addition to Will, Greene added Jeff Yippie and Richard "Tet" Tetenbaum, two former employees of the bookstore who have passed away since the mural was first designed. They were squeezed in alongside subversive luminaries Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, two influential anarchist thinkers and organizers who lived for a time in the Bay Area and Lucy Parsons, an influential African American labor activist from Chicago.

Luis Kemnitser, who passed away in 2006, was also added to the new mural. Kemnitser was a beloved professor at San Francisco State who helped fund the Needle Exchange, a program with provides clean needles free of charge to drug users in the hopes of limiting the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

Greene, who initially painted the mural in 1994, said she hoped the mural will continue to evolve as the neighborhood and the political landscape changes.

"Murals can be a really good way of communicating and making things visible," said Greene. "They're like living walls to me. I like to keep them alive and keep them current. I'm not the same person I was ten years ago and neither is the world."

Over a 20-year period, Greene has painted over 30 murals in San Francisco, Nicaragua and Palestine. In addition to her art, she's a clinical psychologist and professor at the New College and Goddard College in Vermont and an administrator at the San Francisco Art Institute.

This isn't the first time she has had to rehabilitate one of her murals. Another work of hers on 23rd and Mission streets that depicted pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie and controversial journalist and death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal, among other leftist leaders, has been defaced and restored several times.

More recently, a 30-foot pro-Palestinian mural she helped install at 21st Street was covered up after being defaced several times. The owner of the store where it was painted on was also being threatened.

"We decided to cover it until such a time as it's safe to uncover it," she said.

Her next project, she said, will be to publish recordings of many of the activists featured in the mural, which she hopes to do with The Freedom Archives, an association in the Mission that records audio and video of activist events and personalities.


You wanted it now you've got it!

This only applies to those Useful Idiots (TM) sheeple who believe everything Zionist Media Brainwashes them with.

If this law comes into effect, ALL AMERICANS beginning Jan 14, 2007 -- That's next year, in 2 months or so -- will have their freedom of movement taken away (as if it's not already severely limited).

Think about the ramifications...

They are treating us like sheep, herding us up, readying for the slaughter.... :( >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We're All Prisoners,

Now: US Citizens to be Required ''Clearance'' to Leave USA International Politics October 26, 2006 Forget no-fly lists.

If Uncle Sam gets its way, beginning on Jan. 14, 2007, we'll all be on no-fly lists, unless the government gives us permission to leave-or re-enter-the United States.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSA) has proposed that all airlines, cruise lines-even fishing boats-be required to obtain clearance for each passenger they propose taking into or out of the United States.

It doesn't matter if you have a U.S. Passport - a "travel document" that now, absent a court order to the contrary, gives you a virtually unqualified right to enter or leave the United States, any time you want.

When the DHS system comes into effect next January, if the agency says "no" to a clearance request, or doesn't answer the request at all, you won't be permitted to enter-or leave-the United States.

Consider what might happen if you're a U.S. passport holder on assignment in a country like Saudi Arabia. Your visa is about to expire, so you board your flight back to the United States.

But wait! You can't get on, because you don't have permission from the HSA. Saudi immigration officials are on hand to escort you to a squalid detention center, where you and others who are now effectively "stateless persons" are detained, potentially indefinitely, until their immigration status is sorted out.

Why might the HSA deny you permission to leave-or enter-the United States?

No one knows, because the entire clearance procedure would be an administrative determination made secretly, with no right of appeal.

Naturally, the decision would be made without a warrant, without probable cause and without even any particular degree of suspicion.

Basically, if the HSA decides it doesn't like you, you're a prisoner - either outside, or inside, the United States, whether or not you hold a U.S. passport.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized there is a constitutional right to travel internationally. Indeed, it has declared that the right to travel is "a virtually unconditional personal right." The United States has also signed treaties guaranteeing "freedom of travel."

So if these regulations do go into effect, you can expect a lengthy court battle, both nationally and internationally.

Think this can't happen? Think again.

It's ALREADY happening.

Earlier this year, HSA forbade airlines from transporting an 18-year-old a native-born U.S. citizen, back to the United States. The prohibition lasted nearly six months until it was finally lifted a few weeks ago.

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are two countries in recent history that didn't allow their citizens to travel abroad without permission.

If these regulations go into effect, you can add the United States to this list. For more information on this proposed regulation, see