Archive for October, 2006

They Rule

Posted in Government Watch on October 30, 2006 by blindnation

They Rule

theyrule.jpg

They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.

A few companies control much of the economy and oligopolies exert control in nearly every sector of the economy. The people who head up these companies swap on and off the boards from one company to another, and in and out of government committees and positions. These people run the most powerful institutions on the planet, and we have almost no say in who they are. This is not a conspiracy. They are proud to rule. And yet these connections of power are not always visible to the public eye.

Karl Marx once called this ruling class a ‘band of hostile brothers.’ They stand against each other in the competitve struggle for the continued accumulation of their capital, but they stand together as a family supporting their interests in perpetuating the profit system as whole. Protecting this system can require the cover of a ‘legitimate’ force – and this is the role that is played by the state. An understanding of this system can not be gleaned from looking at the inter-personal relations of this class alone, but rather how they stand in relation to other classes in society. Hopefully They Rule will raise larger questions about the structure of our society and in whose benefit it is run.

Free Speech Online ‘Under Threat’

Posted in In The News on October 30, 2006 by blindnation

BBC News | Oct 27 2006

Mouse and keyboard, Eyewire  Bloggers are being asked to show their support for freedom of expression by Amnesty International.

The human rights group also wants web log writers to highlight the plight of fellow bloggers jailed for what they wrote in their online journals.

The organisation said fundamental rights such as free speech faced graver threats than ever before.

The campaign coincides with the start of a week-long UN-organised conference that will debate the future of the net.

Watching words

“Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending,” said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty International. “We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.”

Mr Ballinger said the case of Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari was just one example of the dangers that some online writers can face. Mr Sanjari was arrested in early October following his blogging about conflicts between the Iranian police and the supporters of Shia cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi.

Amnesty wanted bloggers to publicise cases such as this, said Mr Ballinger, and to declare their backing for the right to free speech online.

Watching words

“Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending,” said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty International. “We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.”

Mr Ballinger said the case of Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari was just one example of the dangers that some online writers can face. Mr Sanjari was arrested in early October following his blogging about conflicts between the Iranian police and the supporters of Shia cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi.

Amnesty wanted bloggers to publicise cases such as this, said Mr Ballinger, and to declare their backing for the right to free speech online.

The human rights group is also taking its campaign to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – a group set up by the UN to act as a debating body for national net policies. The first big meeting of the IGF takes place in Athens from 30 October to 2 November.

“The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is concerned about free expression online and willing to stand up for it,” said Mr Ballinger.

Many governments were using technology to suppress the free flow of information among their citizens, said Mr Ballinger.

“People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an email or a website,” he said. “Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information.”

Hi-tech firms such as Yahoo and Google have been criticised for the help they have given to nations such as China which works hard to monitor online discussion.

In May 2006, Amnesty International started a campaign that aimed to expose the ways that governments use the net to quash dissent. Co-ordinated via the Irrepressible.info website, the campaign asks websites to use an icon displaying text from censored sites.

Pledges gathered from those backing this campaign will be presented at the IGF.

Open Letter To Bush From An Arab Girl

Posted in Documents on October 29, 2006 by blindnation

Khaleej Times | Oct 29 2006

President Bush,

It has become extremely difficult to give you the benefit of the doubt on Lebanon, for you have left no doubt in our minds. We are now certain — like many of us have always been — that your foreign policy is completely biased towards Israel, and you have made no effort to hide this fact. Just out of curiosity: are they also drafted in Tel Aviv?

It is your choice, Mr Bush, to support Israel, just like it is our — the entire Arab and Muslim world’s — choice to support Lebanon. You insist that Israel has the right to defend itself. Defending oneself, I believe, is a universal right, not exclusive to Israel.

“The first Qana massacre did not quench the Israeli thirst for blood,” it is said, graphically describing yet another Israeli crime against the innocents of Lebanon. In Qana, 57 armless, defenseless civilians died in an Israeli air strike, 37 of them were children. Maybe these numbers don’t matter to you, Mr Bush; they are mere numbers of the nameless Lebanese dead. But they matter to more than 200 million Arabs in the Middle East.

I quote our late president, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who in 1973 had said, “Arab oil is not dearer than Arab blood.” But it seems that Iraqi oil is dearer than American blood. I am somewhat relieved to arrive at this conclusion. At least there’s no racism against a certain group of people. Everybody is a potential sacrifice to secure US interests, even if it means sacrificing a whole nation.

No, Mr Bush, we will not accept, nor will we allow the sacrifice of more Lebanese civilians. A ceasefire should have been enforced two weeks ago. Was there a need for 37 children to die before you decided it was time for a ceasefire? How many more, Mr Bush, should die before you decide to stop sending those bloody weapons to Israel? Perhaps we can afford a sacrifice that will rein in your generosity towards Israel permanently.

We have a dream for a new Middle East. Not the “New Middle East” that you’ve been brainstorming in your Oval Office. It is the new Middle East that Middle Easterners have been dreaming of; a Middle East with no violence, and no US-made weapons to fuel that violence. It is a dream only we, Middle Easterners, are allowed to dream and realise it.

In Arabic we have a saying that goes, “They murder the murdered and walk in his funeral.” Allow me to interpret this for you, Mr Bush: Your precision-guided missiles shipment has arrived in Tel Aviv. These missiles will “precisely” fall onto Lebanese villages; kill hundreds; and displace thousands more. (Evidently, we’ve just witnessed the first “precise” target in Qana.)

Yet you have “compassionately” been able to send aid to Beirut, at the same time, with supplies for the thousands of people directly and fatally affected by your vocal, (im)moral and military support for Israel. Please include US flags in your aid shipment to Beirut; they must have burned all the US flags in stock.

Mr Bush, Lebanon can and will be rebuilt, but lost lives cannot be restored. Your credibility and your government’s credibility have long been lost — irretrievably lost like those lost innocent lives. People will not forget this though. They will not turn the other cheek; they will retaliate — just like you had chosen to retaliate after 9/11. Retaliation is a value you have successfully promoted by putting it into practice, always.

I was born too late to see how the British Empire had collapsed, but right on time to see how the American Empire is falling apart. Mr Bush, You will surely be remembered in history for hastening that process.

With no more respect to offer,

Mira Al Hussein

Coalition Provisional Authority: What Happened To Iraq’s Money?

Posted in Films/Documentaries, Government Watch on October 29, 2006 by blindnation

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established as a transitional government following the invasion of Iraq by the United States, United Kingdom and the other members of the multinational coalition which was formed to oust the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Citing UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003), and the laws of war, the CPA vested itself with executive, legislative, and judicialauthority over the Iraqi government from the period of the CPA’s inception on April 21, 2003, until its dissolution on June 28, 2004.

The CPA was also responsible for administering the Development Fund for Iraq during the year following the invasion. This fund superseded the earlier UN oil-for-food program, and provided funding for: Iraq’s wheat purchase program, the currency exchange program, the electricity and oil infrastructure programs, equipment for Iraq’s security forces, Iraqi civil service salaries, and the operations of the various government ministries.

This is one of the main reasons why the invasion of this country has been such of a failure.  The most basic needs of the Iraqi people were never met.  The funds to provide the Iraqi people with good clean hospitals, schools, electric, sewage etc. has been carelessly wasted.  Many of us in the US wonder why they hate us so much; we wonder why Iraq has become a breeding ground for “terrorist”.  We had the ability to show these people how much better things could be without having Saddam in power, but we have created a more horrible picture.  We are the cause of the Iraqi resistance.  We invaded and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi people, and swindled away the billions of dollars that should have been used to provide resources for the people.  What happened to Iraq’s money?

Very Important Video: Please America Use Your Common Sense

Posted in 9/11, Videos on October 28, 2006 by blindnation

90 minutes of pure demolition evidence and analysis, laced with staggering witness testimonials. Moving from “the myth” through “the analysis” and into “the players,” careful deconstruction of the official story set right alongside clean, clear science.  How do you get a 10-second 110-story pancake collapse?

Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers

Posted in Films/Documentaries on October 27, 2006 by blindnation

  Buy

 “Regardless of the war, the administration, or the various sophistries for expending human lives as a matter of government policy, profiteering from it universally offends all citizens, whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, other parties or no shows.”  Read More

–Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity

youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7S8TRIyDjs]

We Have Turned Iraq Into The Most Hellish Place On Earth

Posted in Iraq on October 27, 2006 by blindnation

Simon Jenkins | Guardian Unlimited | Oct 25 2006

Armies claiming to bring prosperity have instead brought a misery worse than under the cruellest of modern dictators.

British ministers landing in Aden in the 1960s were told always to make a reassuring speech. In view of the Arab insurrection, they should give a ringing pledge, “Britain will never, ever leave Aden”. Britain promptly left Aden, in 1967 and a year earlier than planned. The last governor walked backwards up the steps to his plane, his pistol drawn against any last-minute assassin. Locals who had trusted him and worked with the British were massacred in their hundreds by the fedayeen.

Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, was welcomed to London by the BBC on Monday with two documentaries recalling past British humiliations at the hands of Arabs, in Aden and Suez. It was not a message Salih wanted to hear. His government is retreating from its position in May, when it said that foreign forces should withdraw from 16 out of 18 provinces, including the south, by the end of this year. Tony Blair rejected this invitation to go and said he would “stay until the job is done”. Salih would do well to remember what western governments do, not what they say.

Despite Suez and Aden, British foreign policy still lurches into imperial mode by default. An inherited belief in Britain’s duty to order the world is triggered by some upstart ruler who must be suppressed, based on a vague desire to seek “regional stability” or protect a British interest. As Martin Woollacott remarks in his book After Suez, most people at the time resorted to denial. To them, “the worst aspect of the operation was its foolishness” rather than its wrongness. When asked by Montgomery what was his objective in invading the canal zone Eden replied, “to knock Nasser off his perch”. Asked what then, Eden had no answer.

As for Iraq, the swelling chorus of born-again critics are likewise taking refuge not in denouncing the mission but in complaining about the mendacity that underpinned it and its incompetence. As always, turncoats attribute the failure of a once-favoured policy to another’s inept handling of it. The truth is that the English-speaking world still cannot kick the habit of imposing its own values on the rest, and must pay the price for its arrogance.

US and UK policy in Iraq is now entering its retreat phrase. Where there is no hope of victory, the necessity for victory must be asserted ever more strongly. This was the theme of yesterday’s unreal US press conference in Baghdad, identical in substance to one I attended there three years ago. There is talk of staying the course, of sticking by friends and of not cutting and running. Every day some general or diplomat hints at ultimatums, timelines and even failure – as did the British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, on Monday. But officially denial is all. For retreat to be tolerable it must be called victory.

The US and British are covering their retreat. Operation Together Forward II has been an attempt, now failed, to pacify Baghdad during Ramadan. In Basra, Britain is pursuing Operation Sinbad to win hearts and minds that it contrives constantly to lose. This may be an advance on Kissinger’s bombing of Laos to cover defeat in Vietnam and Reagan’s shelling of the Shouf mountains to cover his 1984 Beirut “redeployment” (two days after he had pledged not to cut and run). But retreat is retreat, even if it is called redeployment. Every exit strategy is unhappy in its own way.

Over Iraq the spin doctors are already at work. They are telling the world that the occupation will have failed only through the ingratitude and uselessness of the Iraqis themselves. The rubbishing of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has begun in Washington, coupled with much talk of lowered ambitions and seeking out that foreign policy paradigm, “a new strongman”. In May, Maliki signalled to Iraq’s governors, commanders and militia leaders the need to sort out local differences and take control of their provincial destinies. This has failed. Maliki is only as strong as the militias he can control, which is precious few. He does not rule Baghdad, let alone Iraq. As for the militias, they are the natural outcome of the lawlessness caused by foreign occupation. They represent Iraqis desperately defending themselves from anarchy. It is now they who will decide Iraq’s fate.

The only sensible post-invasion scenario was, ironically, that once attributed to Donald Rumsfeld, to topple Saddam Hussein, give a decapitated army to the Shias and get out at once. There would have been a brief and bloody settling of accounts and some new regime would have seized power. The outcome would probably have been partial or total Kurdish and Sunni secession, but by now a new Iraq confederacy might have settled down. Instead this same partition seems likely to follow a drawn-out and bloody civil conflict. It is presaged by the fall of Amara to the Mahdist militias this month – and the patent absurdity of the British re-occupying this town.

Washington appears to have given Maliki until next year to do something to bring peace to his country. Or what? America and Britain want to leave. As a settler said in Aden, “from the moment they knew we were leaving their loyalties turned elsewhere”. Keeping foreign troops in Iraq will not “prevent civil war”, as if they were doing that now. They are largely preoccupied with defending their fortress bases, their presence offering target practice for insurgents and undermining any emergent civil authority in Baghdad or the provinces. American and British troops may be in occupation but they are not in power. They have not cut and run, but rather cut and stayed.

The wretched Iraqis must wait as their cities endure civil chaos until one warlord or another comes out on top. In the Sunni region it is conceivable that a neo-Ba’athist secularism might gain the ascendancy. In the bitterly contested Shia areas, a fierce fundamentalism is the likely outcome. As for Baghdad, it faces the awful prospect of being another Beirut.

This country has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.

Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own.

simon.jenkins@guardian.co.uk