Friday, August 25, 2006


From: Student Friends of Venezuela

Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous positive change. Chavez' policies and a new constitution guaranteeing social and political rights, have been repeatedly endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people in ten national elections.

Alongside this expansion of democracy, Venezuela's rich oil wealth is being directed into providing for the vast majority of Venezuelans for the first time.

Free healthcare has been extended to the majority of Venezuelans, tens of thousands have had their eyesight restored through Operation Miracle, and subsidised food is guaranteeing nutrition to the eight in ten Venezuelans who previously lived in poverty.

Social equality is also at the heart of the changes taking place. A Women's Development Bank is improving women's employment opportunities; homophobia is being challenged with the pro-government Mayor of Caracas working to make the capital city a 'homophobia free zone'. The Black, indigenous, and mixed race Venezuelan majority are benefiting from strong anti-racist measures.

In the field of education alone the achievements are formidable. Illiteracy, which previously afflicted 2 million adults, has been declared by UNESCO to be eradicated. Millions of adults have returned to education, from which they were previously excluded by fees and poverty, as free education - including up to university level - is now enshrined as a constitutional right. As a result seven in ten Venezuelans are now involved in some form of education.

To put this into practice, education spending has increased threefold to over 7% of GDP - a greater proportion than in Britain - providing for the refurbishing of 8,750 schools, the building of 700 new schools, and opening up free higher education to more than 400,000 new students.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has responded to these measures with a campaign to isolate Venezuela - showing it has no concern for either democracy or the welfare of Venezuelans. There is evidence of US involvement in the failed attempt to undemocratically remove Chavez through a military coup in 2002.

There is deep concern that further interventions and sabotage will take place ahead of December's Presidential elections, where Hugo Chavez is extremely likely to be re-elected.

Now is a critical time to show solidarity.

Please email us on and pass this letter on to anyone else who might be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Gordon Hutchison,

Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre
The Western world has been sold the notion that Israel's bombardment of Lebanon was justified by an "unprovoked kidnapping" of two Israeli soldiers on July 12.
The reality now appears to be quite different: that U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed off on the war almost two months earlier and then sought a pretext.
Surprise! Surprise!
On the US-Israeli Invasion of Lebanon

By Noam Chomsky

The standard Western version is that the July 2006 invasion was justified by legitimate outrage over capture of two Israeli soldiers at the border. The posture is cynical fraud.
"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions."

- Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, in his opening statement to the tribunal.

Crime Against Peace: A basic provision of the Charter is that to plan, prepare, initiate or wage a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances, or to conspire or participate in a common plan to do so is a crime.

- Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson

"It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy. Power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy ... The Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States."

- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Sec.-Gen. of the United Nations.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

American War Crimes in Viet Nam

Official documents show troops who reported abuse in Vietnam were discredited even as the military was finding evidence of worse.

Now, declassified records show that while the Army was working energetically to discredit Herbert, a US soldier who had exposed war crimes, military investigators were uncovering torture and mistreatment that went well beyond what he had described.

The abuses were not made public, and few of the wrongdoers were punished.

Investigators identified 29 members of the 173rd Airborne as suspects in confirmed cases of torture. Fifteen of them admitted the acts. Yet only three were punished, records show. They received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time.

The accounts of torture and the Army's effort to discredit Herbert emerged from a review of a once-secret Pentagon archive.

The collection — about 9,000 pages — was compiled in the early 1970s by an Army task force that monitored war crimes investigations. The files, examined recently by the Los Angeles Times, include memos, case summaries, investigative reports and sworn witness statements.

Those and related records detail 141 instances of detainee and prisoner abuse in Vietnam, including 127 involving the 173rd Airborne.

The Army task force, created after journalist Seymour Hersh exposed the 1968 My Lai massacre, served to give military brass and the White House early warning about potentially damaging revelations.

The war crimes records were declassified in 1994 and moved to the National Archives in College Park, Md., where they went largely unnoticed.

The Times examined most of the files before officials removed them from the public shelves, saying they contained personal information that was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, 78, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, said the files provided important lessons for dealing with the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq:

"If we rationalize it as isolated acts, as we did in Vietnam and as we're doing with Abu Ghraib and similar atrocities, we'll never correct the problem."

Read the full story!

Los Angeles Times
Sunday August 20, 2006.

A Tortured Past (and the sidebar article by Nick Turse.)
These are explosive pieces!,0,1765272,full.story