Saturday, January 28, 2006

ICH: 57% Americans favor military action in Iran / More ICH News

My thanks to Tom Feeley of Information Clearing House (ICH) for sending me these sage words and compelling headlines. Among them is Cindy Sheehan's impassioned article from Caracas, in which she writes about a new vision for the world.

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world - no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men. ": Woodrow Wilson

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.": Thomas Jefferson - (1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President - Source: letter to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

"Today democracy is a facade of plutocracy. Because the peoples will not tolerate naked plutocracy, power is nominally turned over to them, while real power rests in the hands of the plutocrats. In democracies, whether republican or monarchical, the statesmen are marionettes, and the capitalists are the wire pullers: they dictate the political guidelines, they control the voters by buying public opinion, through business and social connections [they control] higher government officials ... The plutocracy of today is more powerful than the aristocracy of the past, because nothing stands above it except the state, which is its tool and helper.": Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, "Pan-european" publicist and political figure, in his book Praktischer Idealismus ("Practical Idealism"), Vienna, 1925.

"I would rather lose in a cause that will some day win, than win in a cause that will some day lose.

To read this newsletter online or



Number Of Iraqi civilians Slaughtered In America's War 100,000 +

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered (Officially acknowledged) In Bush's War 2239

The War in Iraq Costs
$236,545,016,437 (and climbing)
See the cost in your community

57% Americans favor military action in Iran:

Despite persistent disillusionment with the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans supports taking military action against Iran if that country continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.
Read More

Who will tell the people?

By Sheila Samples

George Orwell wrote that people who neither read nor ask questions will ultimately lose all desire to question "Big Brother." What is so frightening as we descend into the new world order fascism is not that we no longer read -- it's that we no longer can read.
Read More

Understanding Root Causes

By Charles Sullivan

Consider the difference between George Bush and John Kerry in the last presidential election was more a matter of semantics than of substance. Both men are the product of wealth and privilege; neither of them represents the great majority of the people, the working class. Neither do their cohorts in Congress, an increasing number of which are millionaires. The appearance of choice is only an illusion, designed to deceive and to paralyze.
Read More

The Killing Fields: Ghosts of the Walking Dead

By Manuel Valenzuela

Iraq’s Killing Fields are as real as the sun, as dangerous as a nuclear weapon, as devastating as any plague. The devastation taking place inside it is anathema to humanity, a war crime and crime against humanity, a malfeasant manifestation by Machiavellian miscreants. If the world entire were made aware of its seriousness, of its criminality and of the callousness of American leaders the backlash would be a giant tsunami of anger.
Read More

A New World Is Possible

By Cindy Sheehan

It is our governments who want to demonize and marginalize other cultures, religions, races and ethnic groups. George Bush and his cold-hearted cronies and his easily misled and willingly blind followers want to "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here!" Who are these "thems" that we are fighting over there?
Read More


Iraq war veteran's suicide a cry for helping others, friend says:

"He just wanted people to know what he was dealing with and didn't want anyone else to go through the same thing." He had waged a private and public battle to get the care he needed.
Read More

Spoils of war:

Halliburton swings to $1.1 billion profit:

The income reversed a loss from a year earlier for Houston-based Halliburton, the company once led by Vice President Dick Cheney. Its KBR unit has become known for its support work for troops stationed in the Middle East.
Read More

Barghouthi: Israel no longer only democracy in Middle East:

Dr. Barghouthi stated that legislative elections were the culmination of a democratic revolution that had begun with last year’s presidential and local council elections, and that Israel could not longer claim to be the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East.
Read More

Palestinians Face Possible Cash Crunch:

The grim existence of many Palestinians might be about to become even bleaker. They now face the prospect of having western aid cut in response to the resounding victory handed to Hamas in parliamentary elections on Wednesday.
Read More

Carter calls for funding Palestinians:

The Palestinian Government is destitute, and in desperate financial straits. I hope that support for the new government will be forthcoming," Carter said at a Jerusalem press conference.
Read More

Mr. President, The Terrorists Have Won :

The White House staff would have had the singularly uncomfortable task of informing President Bush that, in spite of all his Evangelical Zionist beliefs, the terrorists had in fact won the free and fair parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.
Read More

Juan Cole: How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush?:

He sounds like a spokesman for Hamas, underlining the irony that Bush and his party have given Americans the least honest government in a generation, have drastically cut services, and have actively opposed extension of healthcare to the uninsured in the United States.
Read More

Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity:

In Israel's conception the Palestinian Authority was supposed to crush Palestinian resistance to make the occupied territories safe for continued Israeli colonization. Hamas will certainly not allow that to continue, but whether it will be able to tranform the Authority into an arm of the struggle against Israel is by no means certain.
Read More

Uri Avnery: Why Did Hamas Win?:

In the end, everybody will agree that a peace, in which Hamas is a partner, is better than a peace with Fatah alone. Let's pray that not too much blood is spilled before that point is reached.
Read More

Profiles of key Hamas leaders:

MESHAAL, Hamas's politburo chief, survived a 1997 Israeli attempt to kill him in Jordan by injecting him with a drug in a botched daylight attack on an Amman street.
Read More

Fourteen of Newly elected Palestinian MPs Are in Israeli Prisons
Read More

How Middle East Media Cover Hamas Victory:

Mosaic Compiles Arab T.V. News for U.S. Audience
Read More

In case you missed it:

**Video; Promises and Betrayals: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land :

An intriguing look at how the British double-dealing during WWI ignited the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. A disturbing picture of a duplicitous wartime government.
Read More

For more continually updated news that matters, go to Information Clearing House. Please support Tom Feeley's valiant, time-consuming efforts in gathering important news and information from sources around the globe.

US Radio Host Upsets Muslim Group / Hamas to Talk 'Partnership'

A Muslim civil liberties group has demanded an apology from the host of a Los Angeles-area radio show for making fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslims during the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday asked for an apology from KFI-AM 640 host Bill Handel, who allegedly made fun of the deaths during a 12 January segment he called the "Annual Stampede Report".
Full Story

Hamas to talk 'partnership'
A senior member of Hamas says he will meet Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, in the coming days to discuss forming a "political partnership". Ismail Haniya, who led Hamas to its surprise win in Wednesday's parliamentary election, made the announcement as Abbas himself said he would be asking Hamas to form a new Palestinian government.
Full Story

VIDEO SPECIAL | Venezuela Day 1: Kickoff at the World Social Forum

A film by Chris Hume and Sari Gelzer
Click here to go to and view the video.

t r u t h o u t is at the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela. Chris Hume and Sari Gelzer are covering both the events of the forum, and taking a look at Chavez's Venezuela. Day 1 of our series of reports is about the anti-war march that kicked off the forum, including interviews with Cindy Sheehan. Stay tuned for more reports in the coming days.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Iraq Dispatches: Saint Patrick’s Four

In this latest dispatch, my friend Dahr Jamail tells of his meeting with Teresa Grady, one of the group of four Catholic Workers from New York, who was being sentenced for her part in a nonviolent action against the then impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, almost three years ago.

January 28, 2006

Saint Patrick’s Four

The date is March 17, 2003. St. Patrick’s Day and just two days before U.S. bombs began raining down on Baghdad, 40 year-old Teresa Grady, her older sister Clare, Daniel Burns and Vietnam veteran Peter De Mott decided to take action against the impending illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

The group of Catholic Workers from Ithaca, New York, known as the “St.Patrick’s Four,” entered an Army-Marine Recruiting Center and poured their blood on the walls, recruiting posters and an American flag in an act of non-violent civil resistance to what they knew already was to be the first of countless violations of international law the Bush Administration would commit during their invasion and occupation of sovereign Iraq.

“We are about caring for the poor, needy and disenfranchised,” Teresa told me two days ago when I asked her to sum up what the Catholic Worker movement was about, “We do this while confronting the political and economic structures that cause poverty.”

It had already been a long day, as Teresa had earlier sat through her sister’s sentencing - six months in a federal prison.

The criminalization of dissent in our country is now obvious to anyone paying attention – Clare and Teresa will spend six months in a federal prison for a non-violent symbolic action to protest an illegal war; meanwhile someone guilty of manslaughter will spend less time behind bars, and not in a federal prison.

“As a mother who knows the preciousness of children, not just mine - but all children - I want the court to understand that before we walked into the recruiting station a million people had already died in Iraq from U.S. imposed sanctions, half of them children,” her sister Clare said earlier that day at her sentencing in Binghamton federal court.

I wanted to show my support for the actions of the St. Patrick’s Four (SP4). But nearing the end of a short but concentrated tour of presentations in New York’s capital area, I’d nearly decided not to venture to Binghamton for the sentencing of the group. After arriving there I quickly realized it would have been a big mistake not to have come.

“War is bloody. The blood we brought to the recruiting station was a sign of the blood inherent in the business of the recruiting station,” read the statement the group issued the day of their action, “The young men and women who join the military, via that recruiting station, are people whose lives are precious. We are obligated, as citizens of a democracy, to sound an alarm when we see our young people being sent into harm's way for a cause that is wholly unjust and criminal.”

I’d only met Teresa earlier that afternoon just before I gave a presentation about the countless violations of international law committed by occupation forces in Iraq, including the initial invasion itself which UN Secretary General Kofi Anan even referred to as an illegal act which contravened the UN Charter.

My presentation ended with a showing of the short film “Caught in the Crossfire” which shows footage of the desolation of Fallujah. The scourge of war is obvious in the city where 70% of the buildings were destroyed by bombs and between 4-6,000 civilians died while illegal weapons and collective punishment were meted out by the US military.

I sat watching this movie, one I’d seen dozens of times from previous presentations I’ve given, as it captured the true plight of the people of Fallujah better than anything else I’ve seen. But I’d never viewed it with someone who, in less than 48 hours time, would be sentenced to six months in a Federal Prison for trying to stop the bloodshed that has been flowing non-stop since the invasion began-and invasion which began less than 48 hours after her action at the recruiting office.

I took the stage after the film ended, and fumbled to speak-caught off-guard by the deep sadness. It hit me that if more people in the US, on a national scale, had been willing to engage themselves in actions like that modeled by the SP4, massacres like that of Fallujah could have been averted.

After the presentation we drove through snow filled hills to the Bronx in New York City. Over a late dinner I asked her a few more questions about topics we hadn’t covered on the way over.

“Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland,” she said, “We are named after him because he represents all of us as Ireland is our heritage.”

As for why they chose to pour their own blood in the military recruiting station, Teresa replied:
“We poured it on the posters of those beautiful people-to see the blood on them. It was perverse…but it was truthful because war is ugly and perverse. People who join the military, like those in the posters, will be made ugly and perverse by war. And as far as the flag-some of the blood dripped down on the flag-we didn’t pour it on the flag to start. But when I saw the blood get on the flag, I decided to add more-because there really is blood on our flag now.”

The night grew late and we were both exhausted. Teresa had much to do before going to jail for six months.

Before we left the diner where we’d sat, I asked her if she felt it was worth it:
“The action, the upcoming half a year in federal prison, was it worth it?”

“After seeing that film, this feels right to me,” she said while nodding, “It feels right that I’m gong to jail. It feels like a piece of cake. Watching the film I thought ‘This is criminal.’ We belong in jail for allowing that kind of atrocity to occur.”

Just before we parted ways, Teresa provided me with the final statement she would make to her judge in less than 48 hours. She would soon leave these thoughts in the courtroom as she is about to begin serving her six month sentence in a federal penitentiary:

“No measure of punishment could change the rightness of the act of March 17th 2003 to call people to conversion of heart and mind away from a great national tragedy. My heart is at peace, in that my actions were in concert with the millions of people of our nation who protested this war.”

“What human being would sit silently by, listening to the screams of a child who is being bludgeoned to death, and do nothing? The people of Iraq were, and are being bludgeoned by our policies.”

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website**
** Website by **

Probable Cause for Alarm: Press Ignores Ex-NSA Chief's Ignorance of Constitution


This media release from further illustrates the U.S. media's cherry-picking in its reportage. [Former] FEMA chief Brown's claim of ignorance of the evacuee crisis was reported, however the same can not be said for Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence and former director of the National Security Agency (NSA).

Media Advisory

Probable Cause for Alarm
Press ignores Ex-NSA chief's ignorance of Constitution


When FEMA Director Michael Brown claimed not to be aware of the evacuee crisis at the New Orleans Convention Center following Hurricane Katrina (NPR, 9/1/05), many journalists expressed astonishment that a high-ranking official could be so uninformed about a crucial aspect of his job (e.g., Nightline, 9/1/05). But when Gen. Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence and former director of the National Security Agency, displayed an equally astounding lack of knowledge about a matter just as basic to his job, media as a whole let it pass without comment.

The subject in question was the constitutional protections the American public has against government spying--surely a vital thing to understand for the former head of the nation's top surveillance agency, and the person currently in charge of "overseeing the day-to-day activities of the national intelligence program," as his Air Force bio states. Those protections are specified in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which reads in full:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Surely it's not too much to ask that the officials who are entrusted with the ability to spy on virtually any electronic communication have an appreciation of how this amendment limits that ability. Yet in a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on January 23--before an audience consisting largely of journalists--Hayden repeatedly demonstrated that he does not know the basic language of this key part of the Bill of Rights.

The subject came up when reporter Jonathan Landay of Knight Ridder attempted to preface a question by stating that "the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures." Hayden interjected: "Actually, the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says."

Landay politely corrected him, saying, "But the measure is 'probable cause,' I believe." But Hayden insisted: "The amendment says 'unreasonable search and seizure.'" When Landay continued, "But does it not say probable--" he was interrupted by Hayden, who said, "No.... The amendment says 'unreasonable search and seizure.'"

Landay went on to ask his question, which was whether the NSA, by bypassing the special court mandated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, had "crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of 'reasonably believe' in place of 'probable cause.'" Hayden's response returned to the issue of the Fourth Amendment: Read More

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)

Scholars Repudiate Official Version of 9/11

I have always taken conspiracy theories with a grain of salt. However, this one is by a group of non-partisan, reputable scholars and prominent experts, who repudiate the official government version of the collapse of the WTC.

What do you think about their claim?

Scholars claim government's account violates laws of physics and engineering.

January 27, 2006 -- An influential group of prominent experts and scholars have joined together alleging that senior government officials have covered up crucial facts about what really happened on 9/11. The members of this new non-partisan association, "Scholars for 9/11 Truth" (S9/11T), are convinced their research proves the current administration has been dishonest with the nation about events in New York and Washington, D.C.

These experts contend that books and articles by members and associates have established that the World Trade Center was almost certainly brought down by controlled demolitions and that the available relevant evidence casts grave doubt on the official story about the attack on the Pentagon. They believe that the government not only permitted 9/11 to occur but may even have orchestrated these events to facilitate its political agenda.

The society includes U.S. and international faculty and students of history, science, military affairs, psychology, and even philosophy. According to its spokesmen, S9/11T represents a concerted effort to uphold the standards of truth and justice and to strengthen democracy in this nation, which has taken a terrible hit in the aftermath of 9/11, when "everything changed." Its function is to bring scientific rigor to the study of 9/11 phenomena.

The members of this group are dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11, "letting the chips fall where they may." The evidence has become sufficiently strong that they are speaking out. They are actively devoting themselves to reporting the results of their research to the public by means of lectures, articles, and other venues.

The society includes numerous notable professors and scholars, including:

• Morgan Reynolds, Texas A & M Professor Emeritus of Economics, former Chief Economist for the Department of Labor for President George W. Bush, and former Director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis

• Steven E. Jones, Professor of Physics, Brigham Young University, co-chair of S9/11T and the creator of its home page and its forum

• Robert M. Bowman, former Director of the U.S. "Star Wars" Space Defense Program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, a former senior Air Force Colonel with 101 combat missions, who is also a Catholic Archbishop

• Lloyd DeMause, Director of The Institute for Psychohistory, President of the International Psychohistorical Association and Editor of The Journal of Psychohistory

• James H. Fetzer, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, author or editor of more than 20 books and co-chair of S9/11T

• Daniele Ganser, Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

• Andreas Von Buelow, former assistant German defense minister, director of the German Secret Service, minister for research and technology, and member of Parliament for 25 years

The society, founded by Professors Fetzer and Jones, who serve as its co-chairs, is approaching 50 members to date. Fetzer, a philosopher of science, observed that the government's "official account" is not even physically possible, because it violates laws of nature. "What we have been told is fine," he said, "if you are willing to believe impossible things. Serious scholars don't believe in tooth fairies."

Beyond encouraging its members to vigorously express their concerns on this score through lectures, conferences, symposia, articles, and books as well as other access routes that publicize their findings, the society's initial activities, which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity, include the following projects and endeavors:

• Professor Jones is refining his influential analysis of the physics of the collapse of buildings at the World Trade Center.

• Professor Fetzer is editing a collection of new studies about 9/11 that will include contributions from the members of S9/11T.

• A major conference is being planned for this fall to further inform the American public about the group's most recent findings

Studies by the society's founders and by prominent theologian David Ray Griffin, who has taken a leading role in exposing false claims about 9/11, are accessible from the association's home page, Information for those who may want to join S9/11T can also be found there.

For Press Inquiries:

Alex Floum, Esquire
S9/11T Associate
(925) 818-1702 (cell)
911 [at

About the Society:

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.
S9/11T Co-Chair
(218) 726-7269 (office)
(218) 724-2706 (home)

Resource Questions:

Eric Hufschmid
S9/11T Associate
(805) 968-5351


Press Contact: Alex Floum
Company Name: Scholars for 9/11 Truth

AFSC Premieres Antiwar Music Video

Robert Cray in his new music video "Twenty". Photo from video, courtesy Robert Cray
Watch the video

Aidan Delgado, an Iraq War veteran, portrays a soldier in the video. / AFSC

New Music Video Features "Eyes Wide Open" Boots

Last November 1, as the sun rose over a farm near Dover, New Hampshire the Eyes Wide Open crew once again began laying out more than two thousand pairs of boots representing the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. But this was not a standard stop on the nation-wide tour of AFSC’s acclaimed anti-war exhibit.

The boots were being prepared to play a role in a music video for blues musician Robert Cray’s poignant new song, “Twenty”, telling the story of a young soldier, who questions his mission in Iraq, but is killed before his deployment is up.

The video, directed by Robert Cray’s wife, Susan Turner-Cray stars Aidan Delgado, a 23-year-old Iraq-war veteran who served in Nasiriyah and at Abu Ghraib prison, before securing conscientious objector status and returning to the U.S. David Goodman, one of the Eyes Wide Open tour managers, has a cameo role in the video as a Vietnam Veteran.

The Crays had heard about the Eyes Wide Open exhibit, but had not seen it when they began developing ideas for the music video. They contacted the Chicago AFSC office and began arrangements to feature the exhibit in the production. After many potential sites were considered, the rolling hills behind the New Hampshire farmhouse of Todd and Kristin Adelman was offered and chosen. Cinematographer, Jonathon Millman signed on to shoot the video and other local actors and crew joined the effort – donating their time out of commitment to the concept.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Cray’s album, also named “Twenty” has been nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary Blues Album.

American Friends Service Committee

From the video, you and your friends will be encouraged to sign the “Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar” letter to Congress. So far, more than 40,000 people have signed AFSC's letter, calling on Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq.

The letter is one tool AFSC will use to make a big statement next month when Congress is expected to debate a new war supplemental funding bill. In January, officials reported that the Bush Administration does not intend to seek new funds for Iraq reconstruction. AFSC's campaign will encourage members of Congress to speak out for reconstructing Iraq, not continued war and destruction. This video will help reach out to music lovers to join AFSC in calling to fund reconstruction, not war, in Iraq.

**American Friends Service Committee**

Iraqi Family Should be Compensated After Air Strike Mistake

Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC)

Press Release


Iraqi Family Should be Compensated After Air Strike Mistake

Humanitarian organization urges U.S. government to assist victims and do more to minimize civilian casualties.

Washington, DC, January 10, 2006 -- Following the January 5th announcement by U.S. military officials that a residence was mistakenly bombed near Baiji, the Campaign for Innocent Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) today expressed sympathy for the victims and urged the U.S. government to compensate surviving family members.

On January 2nd, an air strike targeted at insurgents instead killed at least six civilians in their home. U.S. officials on the ground in Iraq have the discretionary authority to compensate innocent persons who have suffered losses as a result of U.S. actions, including the family members of those killed. In 2003, the Congress established the "Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund" and has appropriated some $38 million to help civilian victims of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. CIVIC and other nongovernmental organizations are working with the U.S. government to make the best use of these funds, and CIVIC urged a thorough investigation of the Baiji incident so that assistance can be given to surviving family members.

“The United States military deserves credit for the considerable efforts it makes to avoid harming civilians," said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of CIVIC. “But when mistakes happen, we have a responsibility to help the victims and their loved ones.”

The U.S. government does not keep an official count of civilian casualties in Iraq. With the U.S. military’s reliance on air strikes increasing, a record of incidents should be maintained so that efforts to prevent civilian casualties can be evaluated and improved. “Keeping as accurate a record as possible and compensating victims is important for the U.S. to maintain the respect and support of the Iraqi people,” said Holewinski.

CIVIC is a Washington-based organization founded by the late Marla Ruzicka, who was killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad while advocating for civilian victims' families in Iraq. CIVIC believes that civilians killed or injured in conflict should be counted and their families compensated by the governments involved, and is working in conflict zones to identify and help the families of civilian casualties.

# # #


Sarah Holewinski, Executive Director

Tel. 202.558.6958

U.S. Audit Finds 'Spectacular' Misuse of Funds in Iraq

Millions lost in 'chaotic misuse,' while report says many reconstruction projects won't be finished.

"Spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars."

That is what The Australian says an audit by the the US Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction of the former Coalition Provisional Authority office in Hilla, Iraq, has uncovered. The newspaper says the report details bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets, a US soldier who gambled away thousands of dollars, and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

Read article here

Iraqi Wives Used as Leverage by U.S.

There is no depth to how low the US sinks in its zeal to root out insurgents in Iraq. Torturing suspects was bad enough. It has now come out that they were using the wives of suspected insurgents as leverage. What next? Snatching children, babies? How credible is information obtained this way? If you are a man whose wife is held 'hostage' by an occupier, what would you do? You'd no doubt turn yourself in even if innocent and confess to anything. This kind of atrocious behaviour only furthers animosity, alienation, and fuels the insurgency. Great way to 'win hearts and minds', isn't it?

Thanks to Zaphod's Heads for this link:

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of “leveraging” their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family’s door telling him “to come get his wife.” Read more here

Hamas Victory Fuels Uncertainty (Updated)

Those Palestinians who were fed up with the corruption of the Fatah party (Arafat's old party), saw Hamas - classified as a 'terrorist organization' by the the US, EU, and Israel - as a better alternative. Wisely, Hamas had used its charitable funding of many programs to sway public opinion. So far, the group has not indicated any kind of peace process on its agenda. Whether or not it moderates its stance remains to be seen, as is the West's (Bush's) acceptance of this organization. However, Hamas did win with a majority, in a 'democratic' election, thus representing the will of the people. This should give them validity as a principal player.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Hamas's surprising landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections upended Middle East politics yesterday, making the militant group that has long sworn to destroy Israel a principal player in Palestinian governance.

The entire Palestinian Cabinet resigned even before election officials confirmed that Hamas had captured 76 of 132 seats. Fatah, the longtime ruling party founded by Yasser Arafat, won just 43 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, with the remaining 13 going to smaller parties and independents, according to nearly complete returns.

The Hamas victory ended the dominance of the secular Fatah movement that for decades led the Palestinians' quest for statehood, and signaled the rise of an Islamist movement that Israel and the United States consider a terrorist organization. The outcome also throws into turmoil the future of already troubled peacemaking efforts. Read full story here.


I just read this on Hamas seems to be saying that keeping the ceasefire is up to Israel.

Throughout the campaign, leaders sent mixed signals, hinting they could be open to some sort of accommodation with Israel. Its apparent victory will now force it to take a clearer position on key issues, including whether to abandon its violent ideology.

Hamas officials tried to reassure the world of its intentions.

"Don't be afraid," Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, told the BBC. "Hamas is a Palestinian movement, it is an aware and mature movement, one which is politically open in the Palestinian arena, and to its Arab and Islamic hinterland, and similarly open to the international arena." Read full article here

Reminder: TWO EVENTS in Hamilton & Burlington

WATER: Life Before Profit
Saturday, January 28 9am - 1pm .
Westdale United Church, 99 North Oval, Hamilton
(Free. Wheelchair accessible. Parking on street.
Enter via North Oval door)

Co-sponsored by: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Hamilton-Burlington Committee, and
IDEA (Interfaith Development Education Association) Burlington

The President of the World Bank has predicted that the wars of the 21st century will be over water. Water - its ownership, safety and security - is
literally a matter of life and death.

Hamilton Councillor Brian McHattie and Paul Lemieux,
Animator for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
For more information, call Joy Warner of Kairos at
905-521-0017, or IDEA at: 905-637-3110

HAITI: "Responsibility to Protect"? or Failure to Protect?
Monday, January 30 7:30 pm
East Plains United Church, 375 Plains Rd. East,
Free. Wheelchair Accessible.

Co-sponsored by: BAND (Burlington Association for Nuclear Disarmament),
IDEA (Interfaith Development Education Association)
Burlington, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives Hamilton-Burlington
Wider Work Committee of East Plains United Church.

In February 2004, Canada, France and the United States removed from power the democratically-elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In the intervening two years, Haiti has been ruled by an unelected interim government, supported by national police and a UN-sanctioned foreign military-political occupation force, in which Canada is an active participant. Canada justifies its action in Haiti by a new doctrine called "Responsibility to Protect." Although the situation has been often unclear, there have been reports of thousands of deaths and of hundreds of Haitians incarcerated without charges being laid, and forced into internal or external exile.

Speaker: Justin Podur is a writer (often for Z Magazine), translator and activist living in Toronto. He has undertaken several research trips to Haiti, most recently in November 2005.
Video: Haiti: The UNtold Story

"Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law, unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes." - Declaration of War Crimes Tribunals following World War ll

Tomgram: Gareth Porter on Standing Up an Army Bent on Revenge

Here are a few headlines from stories you probably didn't even see this week (and they could be multiplied numerous times over):

"Another day of bloodshed in Iraq"
"Senior Sunni official killed in Iraq"
"U.S. Private Contractors leaving Iraq"
"Three Civilians, Seven GIs Killed in Iraq"
"Twelve U.S. servicemembers killed in Iraq since Friday"

These usually turn out to be little more than humdrum news roundups, accounts of incidents that are so much a part of the norm as hardly to be news any more. Such generic tales of small human disasters are produced regularly by the wire services and, in papers all over the country, are cut down and stuffed away deep on their inside pages. Such sets of incidents also appear in our major papers as little paragraphs piled one atop another like so much news rubble at the back end of reports on what's really new in Iraq. (Check out, for example, Robert Worth's piece in the Tuesday New York Times, "Kurd to Preside at Hussein Trial, Set to Resume Today.")

Americans die repetitively in roadside bombings. A doctor, who worked at the Iraqi Health Ministry, is assassinated in a drive-by shooting. In Mosul, unknown gunmen kill Jasim Muhammad of the Kurdistan Democratic Party as he leaves his home. Seven truckloads of men dressed in Iraqi commando uniforms ("which are easily obtained in Iraq"), who may or may not belong to the government security forces, drive into a Sunni neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad, break into a mosque and homes, round up men, shoot 3, abduct perhaps 20, and the next day 16 dead bodies are discovered and believed to be "related to the abduction of Sunni Arab men in northwestern Baghdad." A senior official of a government department that manages Sunni mosques is shot to death by unidentified gunmen in a passing vehicle. (As with many murdered Shiite and Sunni clergymen, no one takes responsibility.) A member of Parliament, Jabir Khalifa al-Jabir, narrowly escapes assassination when gunmen open up on his car. His bodyguard dies and his son is reportedly injured. Police discover a body, blindfolded and handcuffed, in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, and a blindfolded, bound body dumped in the Euphrates River near the town of Musayyib with a single bullet wound to the head. A group of 35 Sunni Iraqis, who unsuccessfully applied for admission to the police academy in the capital, disappear while on a bus trip home; 23 bodies, believed to be from this group are found Sunday, another 8 Monday "in a field north of Baghdad." No one knows "whether they were killed by Sunni hard-liners opposed to the recruitment program or Shiite extremists who want to keep the rival sect out of police ranks." Two policemen are killed and eight wounded by a roadside bomb in the city of Baquba. Nine bodyguards, escorts working for an engineer employed by a cell-phone company, are ambushed and murdered in Baghdad. The engineer is kidnapped (as are two German engineers working on a crucial, much embattled oil refinery in Baiji -- and, as all the world knows, the kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll remains missing and under the threat of death). And this very partial list doesn't begin to cover not just all the killings reported somewhere in the back columns or bottom paragraphs of press pieces this last week, but the many killings of Iraqis that make no paper or list or record of any sort. These fall below the radar screen even of the statistics of violence -- of the 34,131 attacks attributed to the insurgency in 2005 (an overall increase of 29% over the previous year and a doubling of roadside bombings), not to speak of the bloody "rules of engagement" that American forces employ, guaranteeing massive "collateral damage." Many of these unknown and barely recorded deaths are now attributable to increasingly fierce and bitter internecine communal struggles among Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish groups.

It is to this Iraq that Gareth Porter, author of Perils of Dominance, gives grim shape, making sense of at least a significant part of such rising levels of violence (and the Bush administration policies that have helped to shape them) in the piece that follows. As long as Washington remains determined to stay in Iraq in some form, every month is likely to be worse than the last and, in the end, departure itself may prove the final catastrophe. The last illusion for Americans is that, whatever the reasons for our invasion and occupation, we still remain part of the solution in Iraq rather than the motor for the problem itself. Tom

"Maybe they just need to have their civil war"
Fueling Sectarian Violence in Iraq

By Gareth Porter

Since last summer, the ad-jingle-style centerpiece of the U.S. mission in Iraq, as defined by George Bush, has been: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." In recent months, that "standing up" of Iraqi security forces to gradually replace American occupation troops has become even more important in administration pronouncements on the war. The objective is now accepted as self-evident wisdom in the mainstream media and among the punditocracy, the only question being whether it can be successfully accomplished. The Democratic Party leadership has not challenged this goal in any way, even as Democrats complain that it is simply not being done fast enough or effectively enough.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Iraq Dispatches: Interview with Karen Kwiatkowski

January 27, 2006

In July, 2003, Karen Kwiatkowski retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force, having served since 1978. From May, 2002, to February, 2003, Karen Kwiatkowski served in the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia directorate (NESA). Dr. Kwiatkowski presently teaches at James Madison University, and writes regularly for

Interviewed by Omar Khan for, read the interview of Dr. Kwiatkowski's blistering and revealing comments about the neo-conservatives, Bolsheviks, fascism and the Bush Administration agenda in Iraq and beyond.

OK: Could you say something about your reasons for joining the Air Force some 20 years ago?

KK: Basically, they gave me a full ROTC scholarship, and I needed money to go to college. That was the deal. I was happy to do it actually. I had applied for navy and army, and the one that I got was Air Force.

My dad had served in the navy for 4 years in, I guess, the late 50s. And he used to always talk about how great the military was. So we were pretty disposed to the military, but I joined the Air Force because they’re the ones that coughed up the money for college.

OK: So military service has been a tradition in your family for at least two generations.

KK: It’s definitely looked highly upon in my family. Actually, I have two brothers, both—one was for his career in the navy, just retired. The other was in the marines for about seven or eight years.

OK: What do you mean when you’ve elsewhere referred to the military as an apolitical institution?

KK: When I refer to the military as apolitical, that’s because, as an institution, it’s supposed to be. But it’s kind of political in the sense that if you’re what’s called a conservative—usually you’re in good company when you’re in the military. You’re around a lot of people that care about some of those basic things. So there’s that aspect. But technically apolitical.

We swear an oath to the constitution—to defend it against enemies, both foreign and domestic. They’re words, but every time you get promoted you have to retake the oath. So it does make you think about the constitution. You’re reminded of it in a way that other people in other jobs are not reminded of it. So we have this constant idea—it’s kind of reinforced to us throughout our careers: what we’re supposed to be doing, what we’re all about.

OK: How did you see whistleblowing in terms of these values?

KK: Your oath is not to a political party, it’s not to an institution, but to an idea: to a constitutional republic. So we have a president who
serves for 4-8 years.

And he has—according to the constitution—limited duties that he takes care of. We have a legislature; and a judiciary. So if you care about those things, and you’re out to preserve that balance—to respect that balance rather than persons—you don’t think of it as whistleblowing, you think of it as, you know, my loyalty is to what is right, to how these things are supposed to work. I was working pretty closely with those who lied to the American people into buying an unnecessary war, an illegal
war, I think. But my loyalty is not to those people—whether those people are the president, Republican or Democrat, whether those people political appointees, whether those people are civil servants. The loyalty is to the system, and the system is set up in such a way to prevent stupid things from happening in foreign policy.

OK: What do you mean when you characterize neoconservatism as a dead
philosophy of anticommunism?

KK: In 2002, before I was actually working with people doing Near East policy and seeing and meeting these neoconservatives—I didn’t even know what a neoconservative was. I began to look at who these individuals were, what they were doing before in our government, and what they cared about politically. These are the same guys that are responsible for Iran-Contra. They don’t care about the law. They are liberals at home—very much not a traditional conservative political perspective
domestically, but closer to the more Social Democratic approach, somewhat like our Democratic party used to be, domestically; but, in terms of foreign policy, very hawkish, extremely hawkish, extremely aggressive—black and white, murder, death, kill basically. I hate to say that, but that’s what it is: they have to die so we can live. Intervention oriented foreign policy, which is not conservative either. This is kind of the political home of neoconservatives.

The Cold War was perfect for this crowd; and this crowd made their political bones during that time. These guys were the hardcore anticommunists even within the Reagan administration. Richard Perle actually left the administration in 1986 based on Reagan’s overtures and receptivity to Gorbachev. Perle, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Rumsfeld, Cheney—all these guys, though not always in the exact same way, had a
place in the Reagan administration as hardline hawks, even though many of them were not Republicans. In fact Richard Perle to this day is a registered Democrat.

OK: What is your view of the legacy to which the neocons are heirs?

KK: The intellectual fathers of neoconservatism—what shapes their
approach internationally—are the Bolsheviks. International revolution, international change—radical change, global revolution. And these same terms, these same ideas—of international change, revolution, transformation—these are the words of Michael Ledeen and some of the other articulators of neoconservatism. And the actual people, and they’re not ashamed to really say this, but guys like Irving Crystal and other intellectuals of the 30s had actually been Bolsheviks.

One of the characterizations of neocons today is that they are neo-Jacobins—philosophically, this idea that people are the same, all want the same thing, and should have the same thing. That ‘same thing’ in a modern neoconservative view is this idea of ‘democracy.’ But is it really democracy that they want, or is democracy simply a trojan horse? Certainly for Iraq, George Bush has been left with one story as to why we went in.

If they had democracy, they’d take a vote, and we’d be kicked out of there immediately.

Certainly we don’t want them to have democracy, because then they’ll make us leave. So it’s unclear that democracy is a goal, but that’s what they talk about: the God of Democracy. So it’s not like Trotskyism in the sense that they’re not advocating global communism but they are advocating universal, radical—and in effect, catastrophic—change. And this is kind of a clear thread for many years.

So the neoconservatives are not new; during the Reagan era, the ‘Cold War’ was their vehicle for credibility—this evil enemy that we must face, or else the end of the world is coming. They cannot work without this global enemy, almost a kind of class warfare. You can’t just have a mere enemy; it has to be a monstrous enemy, something that can destroy us. They’ve found that in, or rather cultivated it, in what is called ‘Islamic Fascism.’ Unfortunately this doesn’t exist. No one advocates
it. No one articulates it. In the 1930s, Hitler had fascism and he talked about it. Islamic Fascism is a made up thing. But it doesn’t matter: what matters is that it’s useful in generating fear, and serves that same larger purpose—providing a platform from which to operate.

Now you can follow the money too. The neocon philosophy provides a construct within which we can—‘we,’ being the establishment, corporatism—can move. So you have this construct that talks of ‘fear’ ‘protection,’ ‘security.’ Which are used to advocate
intervention—intervention for security, what Iraq was effectively sold as: 'intervention for American security.’

OK: Please say a little bit about your experience in the Pentagon.

KK: I worked four and a half years for the Pentagon. Between May of 2002 and March of 2003, I worked in Near East South Asia (NESA) bureau in the
Pentagon, which worked alongside The Office of Special Plans (OSP)—a group of twenty-five people or so in August 2002—under Bill Luti. It was dissolved in August 2003—about four months after the invasion and the mission accomplished declaration by the president.

Its job had been done.

The whole idea with Iraq was to destroy Iraq. It was not to rebuild it, turn it into a democracy. It was simply to take a country that had no navy, no airforce, and a very small—you know—fourth rate army and turn it into a country with no navy, no airforce, and no army. We did this, and OSP did its part in promoting that. Once it was done there was no need for OSP.

One of the amenities with which we were provided as staff officers were talking points—Saddam Hussein, WMD, and terrorism. If there is anything that you’d need to research on Iraq, you’d only need to take verbatim from the latest version of what OSP had produced on any one of these talking points. These same bullet points would of course be in presidential speeches. I can only assume—since they were producing them for us, on a very routine basis—I can only assume that OSP was the creative entity here in doing that.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had a staff of 6 or 7 people dedicated intelligence people who had no other job than to support our boss, Bill Luti (Deputy under NESA and OSP). Their only job was to answer Bill Luti’s questions and provide Bill Luti with the intelligence that the intelligence community had, particularly DIA intelligence. So the means by which a policy receives its information was perverted. It may have been perverted before then, but I know that it was perverted in the time that I was there, from May 2002 to March 2003. The DIA people were told: ‘no this is not what I want to hear, go back and do a better job’

This is what I saw as an observer. Not as a person inside DIA. But I can tell you, I talked to these guys—who’d come over to brief the lower level people on a routine basis:

They were always under pressure. OSP saying, ‘I don’t need that, give me what I need,’ and DIA saying, ‘I can’t give you something that doesn’t exist.’

I actually explained this to the Senate staffers during the Phase I investigation of intelligence. They were like: oh, whatever. Basically unwilling to entertain the possibility. But there was clearly a huge contempt for information; what they did, instead was to ask for exactly what they wanted to hear, probably about 95% of which was entirely false.

Anyone who talked of sanctions and continual bombing of Iraq over a dozen years, or said that there’s no evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Pentagon in 2002 was going to be told: I don’t want to hear that, go back and find me something I can use. And if you didn’t do that, like in the case of the DIA guy, who went back and looked and couldn’t find anything, he was then disinvited from meetings. Bill Luti
had one briefing on Weapons of Mass Destruction, supposed to be prepared by the DIA—had been historically prepared by the DIA guy. He didn’t like the way the DIA guy
had done it, so transferred the responsibility to a policy office, that of course exaggerated, presented a threat that didn’t exist. But this made everybody happy, since Americans were getting excited for war. A noble lie taken as far as it can go.

OK: How does this fit into what you’ve called ‘grand plans’ that today ‘walk the corridors of the Pentagon’?

KK: This global enemy—‘Islamic fascism,’ ‘Islamic terrorism,’ or whatever it is—enables war in the Mideast. So the ‘grand plan’ is a Mideast transformation plan, which guys like Michael Ledeen have been talking about for a long time. Since we have this apocalyptic enemy, it’s either us or them. So in Iraq: the money goes for ‘security’— American bases, and police power to defend those bases. The things we’ve destroyed we have not rebuilt or fixed. The things that we have protected have been the Oil Ministry and the Finance Ministry. This is
from the very beginning. Those bases in Iraq will be how we deal with (intimidate) the rest of the Middle East. Keep those other countries in line—politically, economically, and in every other way. This is clearly articulated, for example, in “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” actually written for Netanyahu: Iraq must first be changed, and from there we will be able to deal with our enemies—primarily, Syrians and Iranians. But this has nothing to do with America, or with American interests—in my opinion, anyway. Who benefits from this kind of
foreign policy? This needs to become a topic that can be publicly discussed. If we can’t talk about it, then we shouldn’t be paying for it. What are they forecasting: something like 2 trillion dollars, or something, for this war? This is not an insignificant amount of money. So this question—Who benefits from this kind of foreign policy?—needs to become a topic that can be publicly discussed.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Return of the Nation State

Globalism was intended to make the nation-state obsolete yet, as Australia and Canada show, this hasn't happened.

Ending the big ‘ism
Tom Nairn
26 - 1 - 2006

John Ralston Saul's book "The Collapse of Globalism" provokes Tom Nairn to dissect identity-formation in Canada and Australia as the bedrock of different visions of nation, state and world in the 21st century.

“All men at God’s round table sit, And all men must be fed; But this loaf in my hand, This loaf is my son’s bread. The pine-tree is a king, He lifts high his steeple; But greater is the wheat — The wheat is a people.”

Mary Gilmore (1865-1962), “Nationality”, in Les Murray, ed., Hell and After: Four early English-language poets of Australia (2005)

Globalism is in trouble these days. Even the Economist has found itself driven to pedal harder in order to restore the faith (see its issue of 5-11 November 2005: "Tired of Globalisation...but in need of much more of it"). The time of easy prophecies is past. Though mostly written at earlier stages, John Ralston Saul’s book The Collapse of Globalism and the Rebirth of Nationalism (2005) remains a good guide to the process as a whole. It is well and lightly written, often humorous, and properly scathing about both the zealots and their politician-donkeys.

But some critical caution is also called for. Saul is writing about global-ism (or "globalisation" in the now standard journalistic sense) and not about what might better be described as "globality" — that is, those ways in which, since the 1980s, the globe has become more united, acquired common features and recognised important elements of common destiny and interest. The latter are indeed largely irreversible, and the author doesn’t claim otherwise. What he does assert, rightly, is that such truths bear little relationship to the political and ideological follies still being committed in their name — like the massed choirs of Rupert Murdoch, and the war dances of John Howard, George W Bush and Tony Blair.
Read More

opendemocracy.netThis article originally appeared on under a Creative Commons licence. To view the original article, please click here.

The World Social Forum in Search of Itself

Solana Larsen
25 - 1 - 2006

The World Social Forum pioneered new forms of global activism and democracy. Now it is being pressed to take the shape of an older politics, reports Solana Larsen in Caracas.

When 100,000 optimistic activists get together in one of the most colourful and dynamic events the world has ever seen, you've got to expect a good deal of music and dancing, clapping and stomping. But as the sixth World Social Forum slowly unravels, first in Bamako, Mali and now in Caracas, Venezuela, there is also a great deal of frustration over the fact that "nothing" seems to be coming out of this enormous effort.

Certainly, the world is still a terrible mess, and many of the participants of the forum – or in most cases the people they represent – live in extreme poverty and face early deaths. Neoliberal capitalism is still king, and in spite of victories across South America especially, the global left still has less impact that their counterparts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland who are also gathering this week. Read More

Has the World Social Forum lost its way? And is the World Economic Forum more than an elite club? openDemocracy follows the arguments, in the OD Blogs

opendemocracy.netThis article originally appeared on under a Creative Commons licence. To view the original article, please click

Pettigrew Defeat a Warning / Preston Manning

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew was unseated by electors in the Montreal riding of Papineau. Pettigrew's defeat comes on the heels of a two-month campaign by Haiti Action Montreal and Le Comité Haïtien Pour Les Élections Fédérales 2006, urging Pettigrew's constituents to hold him accountable for Canada's role in the 2004 overthrow of democracy and subsequent human rights disaster in Haiti.

by Haiti Action - Read Full Story

The biggest smile on election night belonged to Preston Manning. It was his father, one-time Alberta premier Ernest C. Manning who wanted to see a re-alignment of Canadian politics along ideological lines, and wanted to lead a national party of the right. Twenty years later his son Preston Manning created it — the Reform party — and Stephen Harper left the Progressive Conservatives to work for it. Now Harper, nearly 20 years after that beginning, takes the right-wing project to 24 Sussex Drive.

by Duncan Cameron - Read Full Story

A Week in Venezuela filmmaker Chris Hume and editor Sari Gelzer are in Caracas, Venezuela, covering the World Social Forum. They will be providing coverage on the event and other real happenings in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. To view both video and written reports, visit our special page at

BREAKING | Hamas Claims Victory in Palestinian Elections

The radical Islamic group Hamas claimed victory Thursday in voting for the first Palestinian parliament in a decade, saying it won a clear majority of seats and had the right to form the next government. The claims, although unconfirmed officially, were followed by the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and the rest of his cabinet.
Read more from

I guess Bush will have to change his stance on Hamas, as much as he is against this group. After all, the Palistinian people have elected them. It is still a depressing outcome, and may put the peace process on the back burner. -- Annamarie

Depleted Uranium: A Looming Worldwide Calamity / Dispatches from the World Social Forum in Venezuela / More from Toward Freedom

Toward Freedom: a progressive perspective on world events since 1952

Toward Freedom envisions a world ethic that honors the human spirit and the right of individuals to freedom of thought and creativity; advances movements for human rights, peace, justice, enlightenment, and freedom from oppression; and celebrates the contributions of the world's diverse cultures.

If you're at the forum in Caracas, please come to TF's panel on the hopes and challenges of Independent media. If you're not at the forum, please forward this link and information to friends who are there:

Articles for this week from Toward Freedom, offering a progressive perspective on world events:

Depleted Uranium: A Looming Worldwide Calamity:
by Stephen Lendman

Forget about Avian bird flu. The threat of it becoming a pandemic is more a political scare tactic and potential bonanza for drug company profits and its major shareholders' net worth (including Gilead Sciences, the developer of the Tamiflu drug and its former Chairman and major shareholder Donald Rumsfeld) than a likely public health crisis - unless you live around infected chickens or take an unproven safe immunization shot. There are much more other likely killer bacterial and viral threats than Avian that get little attention. Don't worry about possible or unlikely threats. Worry about real ones. Bacteria and viruses untreatable by anti-biotics are good examples. So are global warming and many others. But, there's possibly one threat that tops all others both in gravity and because it's been deliberately concealed from the public – never discussed, explained or had any action taken to remediate it. It's the global threat from the toxic effects of depleted uranium (DU), and like global warming; DU has the potential to destroy all planetary life.
How can something so potentially destructive be hidden and ignored and why?
Read More

Remembering the Day They Kicked Khrushchev Out of the Kremlin:
by Jack Goldfarb

October has ever been a fateful month in Russian history: the October Revolution (1917), launching of Sputnik I, world’s first space satellite (1957), Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), and that startling day, 61 years ago, on October 16, 1964, when the Soviets announced the astonishing ouster of their top leader, Nikita Khruschchev. Khruschchev thus became the first Soviet boss removed from power in a bloodless coup.
Read More

Between the Lines Radio: Former CIA Field Agent Asserts U.S. Intelligence Agencies Broken; Income Inequality in America Deepening; Airborne Toxic
Sediment Endangers New Orleans' Residents and Underreported News Summary from Around the World.
Read More

Why We Fight:
By Rob Williams Documentary director Eugene Jarecki,
director of the "The Trials of Henry Kissinger," has hit a triple with his new film "Why We Fight." There are many compelling reasons why the Sundance Film Festival may have decided to bestow the Jury Prize on "Why We Fight" last year. Jarecki is a talented filmmaker, with a keen aesthetic sense (his celluloid mojo – lighting, camera work, sound, artistic delivery - makes a film like Robert Greenwald’s recent "Wal-Mart" adventure look downright sloppy by comparison). He also is not afraid to
serve up controversy.
Read More

Thanks for reading. Please forward these articles widely.

Counting Starts in Palestinian Poll / Mubarak's Son Attacks Brotherhood

Final results are expected in between 24 and 48 hours.

With counting under way and exit polls in the Palestinian elections indicating Hamas has come a close second to Fatah, the resistance movement is looking at how it could join parliament. Shortly after voting ended on Wednesday, a Fatah official estimated that Fatah had won 46% of the vote, beating an estimated vote of more than 30% for Hamas.
Full Story
Mubarak's son attacks Brotherhood
A row has erupted in Egypt after the president's son suggested that electoral gains by the Muslim Brotherhood were won using illegal campaign tactics. Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, who heads the policies secretariat in the ruling party, said the Brotherhood's gains stemmed from evasion of laws and the illegal exploitation of religion during campaigning. In an interview published on Wednesday, he said the law might need to be amended to include a mechanism to prevent what he called "this type of infringement".
Full Story

The Life and Death of an Iraq Veteran Who Could Take No More

This is the tragic story of Douglas Barber, an Iraq veteran who could no longer face his life filled with the memories and demons of the war. He had tried medical help and counselling, and seemed to be getting a bit better. But then last week, he took his shotgun and shot himself in the head. His death is one of numerous instances of Iraqi veterans who have taken their own lives since the illegal US-led invasion of that country. One more victim of Bush's megalomanic insanity. (How can that man and his minions sleep at night?) His story would not have been told but for a group of determined activists and a British journalism student, who was among the handful of people Barber emailed just minutes before taking his life.

Douglas Barber also wrote his last internet article (excerpted here and linked to the full version), a heartfelt, compelling, desperate message to readers. He describes the living hell of PTSD that returning soldiers face - their hopelessness and despair.

The life and death of an Iraq veteran who could take no more

By his own admission Douglas Barber, a former army reservist, was struggling. For two years since returning from the chaos and violence of Iraq, the 35-year-old had battled with his memories and his demons, the things he had seen and the fear he had experienced. Recently, it seemed he had turned a corner, securing medical help and counselling.

But last week, at his home in south-eastern Alabama, the National Guardsman e-mailed some friends and then changed the message on his answering machine. His new message told callers: "If you're looking for Doug, I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." Mr Barber dialled the police, stepped on to the porch with his shotgun and - after a brief stand-off with officers - shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Read rest of this article here

'We live with permanent scars from horrific events'

Doug Barber wrote this internet article on 12 January, just before he died

My thought today is to help you the reader understand what happens to a soldier when they come home and the sacrifice we continue to make. This war on terror has become a personal war for so many, yet the Bush administration do not want to reveal to America that this is a personal war. They want to run it like a business, and thus they refuse to show the personal sacrifices the soldiers and their families have made for this country. Read rest of Doug Barber's heartfelt, compelling message, the last one he wrote before he took his life

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Globe and Mail Article on Electoral Reform

Below you will find a link to an excellent article at by Gordon Gibson, former leader of the B.C. Liberals and chief architect of the B.C. Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. It's an excellent outline of the case for fair voting and the need for a citizen-driven reform process.

You may also have seen three letters to the editor (all from FVC members) in today's Globe calling for PR. Plus our news release is being passed around and referenced by the media, and FVC spokespeople are doing numerous interviews.

"Can we get the young voting again?"

NO: Not unless we start the process of democratic reform by changing the very mechanism of voting. Read full article here

Fair Vote Canada
26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4C 5C9

Ph: 416-410-4034
Fax: 416-686-4929

Amazon Pipeline Plan Shocks Ecologists

Environmentalists have been caught off guard by South American leaders' plans to build a massive natural gas pipeline through the Amazon rain forest from Venezuela to Argentina. The plan unveiled earlier this month by the region's left-leaning leaders was short on details, but one thing seemed certain: The $20 billion pipeline would destroy part of the environmentally sensitive Amazon, the world's largest wilderness.
Full Story

Iraqi Journalist Killed in Ramadi // Iraqi Reconstruction Cash Scandal

An Iraqi TV journalist has been killed while filming intense fighting between US forces and anti-American fighters near the volatile western Iraqi city of Ramadi. Mahmud Zaal, a correspondent for Baghdad Television, was killed on Tuesday while working in the Khalidiya area, about 20km east of Ramadi, said his station deputy director Thair Ahmad.
Full Story

Iraqi reconstruction cash scandal
Three months after Iraq's provisional government paid more than $660,000 for renovation of the al-Hillah General Hospital, a lift that should have been replaced crashed, killing three people. The incident is one of many included in the latest US government audit of reconstruction spending by Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority in the South Central region, which includes the cities of Najaf and Karbala and al-Hillah.
Full Story

Light Sentence for Abusive US Army Interrogator Affects US Image

Iraq abuse lenience 'affects' US image
An unexpectedly light sentence for a US Army interrogator who once faced life in prison for the death of an Iraqi general could tarnish the US government and hurt human-rights efforts around the globe, observers say. Prosecutors said during Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr.'s court-martial that his interrogation of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush "could fairly be described as torture" and had stained the military's reputation.
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Tomgram: Hiro on the Palestinian Elections and Political Islam

"Crusade" was one of the words that slipped from George Bush's mouth soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Just a few days later, he spoke of "this crusade, this war on terrorism." When it came to the Middle East, however, democracy joined our President's crusade as an animating principle rather late in the game. Most observers forget that, after our invasion of Iraq, it was Ayatollah Ali Sistani who pushed a reluctant Paul Bremer, then our viceroy in Baghdad, toward actual elections. Bremer had repeatedly blocked democratic municipal elections, and then came up with a cockamamie scheme for a non-representative national council. Here's how Juan Cole described this strange, undemocratic process:

"First they were going to turn Iraq over to [neocon favorite Ahmed] Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group."

Only a denunciatory fatwa by Sistani and streets filling with Shiite protestors turned back this version of "democracy" (and Bush was, at the time, "extremely offended" by Sistani's demands for democratic elections). Later, after other explanations for invasion, war, and occupation had turned sour, the President and the rest of his crew began to claim that we had actually invaded Iraq to start a democratic reform movement in the region. He would then hail those "purple fingers" as proof of his triumphant policies.

Now, as Dilip Hiro, author of The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys Through Theocratic Iran and Its Furies, explains below, a wavelet of elections is indeed sweeping across the Middle East -- the latest being the Palestinian elections taking place at this moment -- and the Bush administration faces a classic case of be very, very careful what you wish for… it might come true. After all, these elections seem to be sweeping political Islam into the ascendancy.

In Iraq, for instance, electoral democracy has certainly struck amid anarchy, a brain drain of professionals connected to the blossoming of a full-scale kidnap-and-ransom trade, a collapsing oil industry, increasing guerrilla and terrorist attacks, and, among other horrors, low-level forms of ethnic cleansing. This Iraqi version of democracy is, however, taking a form completely unlike anything George Bush and his advisers ever imagined. Of the two candidates once favored by elements of the Bush administration, Ahmed Chalabi was wiped out as a political (if not a personal) force in the December election; while "secular" and technocratic candidate Iyad Allawi, the former head of an exile organization, the Iraqi National Accord, which planted car bombs in Saddam Hussein's Baghdad (with the help of the CIA), suffered a disastrous electoral defeat. His "list" lost 15 seats, leaving it with only 25 seats and essentially powerless in the new parliament. There is now evidently going to be a renewed parliamentary alliance between the Kurdish parties and the religious Shiite parties that, defying American wishes, will encourage a semi-independent Kurdistan in the North, a religious near-independent state allied with Iran in the south, and a failed state in the center of the country. In the meantime, reports Oliver Poole in the British Telegraph, the American military has begun to suspect (rightly or not) that supporters of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have won seats in local elections to provincial assemblies.

In Iran, of course, a radical fundamentalist, Mahmud Ahmedinejad, won election to the presidency based, in part, on populist promises to spread the country's oil wealth; and in the Palestinian elections into which the United States has just poured $2 million ("more than what any Palestinian party will have spent by election day") in support of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas looks poised to score impressive gains that should allow it for the first time to enter a government that the Bush administration has evidently already assured the Israelis it will not recognize or deal with. So much for the Bush crusade for democracy in the region. Dilip Hiro offers a calm, informed, and reasonable look at just what to make of all this. Tom

The Rise of Political Islam
The Palestinian Election and Democracy in the Middle East

By Dilip Hiro

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Maps for Illegal Mexican Migrants / Deadlock Paralyses Iraq / 9 Killed in Nigeria Oil Raid / Palistinians Pray for Peaceful Polls

Maps to aid illegal Mexican migrants
A Mexican government commission says it will distribute 70,000 maps showing roads, rescue beacons and water tanks in the Arizona desert to curb the death toll among those crossing the border illegally. The National Human Rights Commission, a government-funded agency with independent powers, denied the maps - similar to a comic-style guide booklet Mexico distributed last year - would encourage illegal immigration.
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Political deadlock paralyses Iraq
The US occupation and political meddling has left Iraq in a chaotic deadlock, a leading analyst says.
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9 killed in Nigeria oil raid
An armed gang dressed in police uniforms has attacked the offices of Agip oil company, a unit of Italy's ENI, in Nigeria, killing 9 people, security and government sources said. It was not immediately clear if the attack on Tuesday was by the same group that is holding four foreign hostages and has staged a series of attacks on oil facilities in the world's eighth-largest exporter over the past month.
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Palestine prays for peaceful polls
With less than 16 hours to go before the start of the Palestinian legislative elections, voters and candidates are hoping that the polls will be fair, free, and above all peaceful. Candidates retreated to their homes or headquarters after campaigning officially ended on Monday, many speaking to journalists who have converged on the occupied territories. It is believed that as many as 1000 journalists and foreign correspondents have arrived in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with many focusing on the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. In Ram Allah, residents mourned a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed by Israeli troops on Monday. Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested nine suspected resistance fighters overnight. Early on Tuesday, one Palestinian man was killed in the northern West Bank town of Nablus by masked gunmen as he was pasting up posters for a Fatah candidate. Pre-election violence The gunmen are believed to be affiliated to Fatah's armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Full Story

In the Name of Democracy: Towards a Global Political Intervention Monitor

The U.S. plays a fundamental leading role in the pursuit of foreign policy goals through the promotion of "free-market democracy". Canada and other countries actively support and facilitate what has become a transnational hegemonic project:

In an influential paper for the Council on Foreign Relations in 2003, former Assistant Secretary of Defense (1981-85) Lawrence J. Korb declared, “The ultimate goal of American foreign policy will be to use…power, alone if necessary, to extend free-market democracy around the globe.” Korb was explaining the logic that took the US to Iraq that same year. But he was also describing another development in United States foreign policy born of the Reagan administration and continued under every administration since: the pursuit of US foreign policy goals by ostensibly overt, peaceful means, through the promotion of “free-market democracy.” The US is, in fact, spreading “free-market democracy” by both consensus and coercion, by carrot and by stick. The stick is the more visible of the two strategies, yet over the past twenty years “consensus-building” in the form of the promotion of a particular kind of low-intensity democracy has begun to take precedence. In this, the US is not alone. Canada, the European Union, Japan, and a host of multi-lateral institutions from the World Bank to regional diplomatic and trade groups actively support and facilitate what has become a transnational hegemonic project. But, while the promotion of restricted democracy is undoubtedly transnational in scope, the US plays a fundamental leading role. Read more

U.S. Secretly Funds Anti-Lavalas Groups in Haiti // Evo Morales & Bolivia

* U.S. Government Channels Millions Through National Endowment for Democracy to Fund Anti-Lavalas Groups in Haiti *

We take a look at Haiti, which is preparing for upcoming national elections. Independent Canadian journalist, Anthony Fenton, joins us to discuss the National Endowment for Democracy - the US government-funded group - that is pouring millions of dollars into trying to influence Haiti's political future.
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** Anthony Fenton, independent Canadian journalist and co-author of the book "Canada in Haiti: Waging War On The Poor Majority". He will be posting leaked NED documents on Haiti at -- a new group dedicated to monitoring government-funded "democracy-enhancement" projects.

* Evo Morales Sworn in as Bolivia's First Indigenous President, Hails Election as End of "Colonial and Neo-Liberal Era" *

In Bolivia, the country's first-ever indigenous president - Evo Morales - was sworn in on Sunday. He focused his nearly two-hour inaugural address on bringing justice to the country's indigenous majority and reaffirmed his pledge to nationalize the country's vast natural gas reserves. We speak with author and journalist James Petras.
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Pulp Factions: Uruguay’s Environmentalists v. Big Paper

Christmas Eve 2002, Alfredo Bazzini went to draw water from the family well in Las Flores, a small farming town in western Uruguay. What he found was that the water his family depended on for drinking, cooking, washing, and farming had dried up.

"It wasn’t only my well that didn’t have any water, all of the wells in town, even the deepest, were empty, and nobody knew what to do," Bazzini recalls.

For the residents of Las Flores in the department (province) of Paysandú, this was the climax to a desperate story that began some two years earlier, when the water level in local wells dropped by up to 60 percent. And kept dropping.

The culprit, it turns out, is the Eucalyptus tree, or rather the large-scale plantations run by international corporations that are spreading across Uruguay.

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NIGERIA: Blood Flows With Oil in Poor Villages

Africa is in the midst of an oil boom, with companies and governments pouring $50 billion into projects that may double the continent's oil output in the next decade.

At first glance, it is hard to imagine anyone fighting over this place.

Approached by a creek, the only way to get here, a day's journey by dugout canoe from the nearest town, it presents itself as a collection of battered shacks teetering on a steadily eroding beach.

On Sunday morning, the village children shimmy out of their best clothes after church and head to a muddy puddle to collect water. Their mothers use the murky liquid to cook whatever soup they can muster from the meager catch of the day.

Yet for months a pitched battle has been fought between communities that claim authority over this village and the right to control what lies beneath its watery ground: a potentially vast field of crude oil that has caught the attention of a major energy company.
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The End of 'Unalienable Rights'

George W. Bush's extraordinary assertion of unlimited Executive power signals a monumental change in the structure of American democracy. As Bush's legal analysts tout the "zenith" of his presidential authority, the impact on traditional American liberties is profound. It means an end to the concept of "unalienable rights" as envisioned by the Founding Fathers 230 years ago. The new reality is that all American rights are at the forbearance of the President.

For the full story about this historic development, go to

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