Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Anti-Empire Report

Don't tell my mother I work at the White House. She thinks I play the piano in a whore house.

The Republican presidential campaign has tried to make a big issue of Barack Obama at one time associating with Bill Ayers, a member of the 1960s Weathermen who engaged in political bombings. Governor Palin has accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, although Ayers' association with the Weathermen during their period of carrying out anti-Vietnam War bombings in the United States took place when Obama was around 8-years-old.

Contrast this with who President Ronald Reagan, so beloved by the Republican candidates, associated with. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how they spent their time when they were not screaming "Death to America". CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar "scary," "vicious," "a fascist," "definite dictatorship material".1 None of this prevented the Reagan administration from inviting the man to the White House to meet with Reagan, and showering him with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan.

Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, palled around with characters almost as unsavory during his first campaign for the presidency in 1988. His campaign staff included a number of genuine pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic types from Eastern and Central Europe. Several of these worthies were leaders of the Republican campaign’s ethnic outreach arm, the Coalition of American Nationalities, despite the fact that their checkered past was not a big secret. One of them, Laszlo Pasztor (or Pastor) had served in the pro-Nazi Hungarian government’s embassy in Berlin during the Second World War. This had been revealed in a 1971 page-one story in the Washington Post.2 When this past was again brought up in September 1988, the Republicans were obliged to dump Pasztor and four others of his ilk from Bush’s campaign.3

And who has John McCain been palling around with? Who has been co-chair of McCain's New York campaign and a foreign policy adviser to McCain himself? None other than the illustrious unindicted war criminal and mass murderer Henry Kissinger, who must be very careful when he travels to Europe for there are committed and serious people in several countries there who will again try to have him arrested for the crimes against humanity he's responsible for ... Chile ... Angola ... East Timor ... Vietnam ... Laos ... Cambodia ...

By contrast, there is no evidence that Bill Ayers was involved in any Weathermen bombing that killed anyone; nor have I seen any evidence that on the very rare occasion that an anti-Vietnam War bombing in the United States resulted in a casualty that it could be ascribed to the Weathermen.

John McCain's bombings certainly killed – some two dozen aerial attacks upon the people of Vietnam, people who had neither done nor threatened any harm to him or his country. What label do we give to such acts, to such a man? His level of violence is matched by his degree of hypocrisy. Speaking of Ayers, McCain asked: “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”4

In his 2001 memoir, “Fugitive Days,” Ayers writes: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” This is something very few Americans can accept, and I wouldn't even make the attempt to persuade them. But I personally didn't blame the Weathermen then, and I don't blame them now. The Vietnam War was in its eighth year of barbarity. I and the rest of the army of the powerless needed a few points up there on the scoreboard against the lords of the national-security corporate state.

A bombing, with a suitably war-criminal target – like the State Department or the Pentagon – and taking care to prevent any casualties, told the bastards that we were still out there, that their impunity was not total, that this is how it feels to be bombed. Armed propaganda. It told the public that there was something more serious going on than a town-hall difference of opinion that could be reasonably resolved by reasonable people discussing things in a reasonable manner. And like an unhappy child having a temper tantrum, we needed some instant gratification. We were struggling against the most powerful force in the world.

The Weathermen were on the right side of that war.

John McCain on the wrong side.

And who has Sarah Palin herself been palling around with? John McCain, and the Alaska Independence Party, a secessionist party her husband belonged to for seven years. “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand,” Joe Vogler, who founded the party, once declared. Earlier this year Governor Palin shouted out to party members: ”Keep up the good work. And God bless you.”5

I do believe that secession of a state from the union is somewhat frowned upon by the powers that be, and if memory serves me, the last time it was seriously tried the government actually went to war. Who do these Alaskans think they are, the Kosovo gangsters whose secession from Serbia was immediately recognized by Washington?

This just in: John McCain (yes, the same one), as a congressman, met in 1985 in Chile with General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world's most notorious violators of human rights, credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians, jailing tens of thousands of others, and torturing a great many of them. McCain met with Pinochet apparently without any preconditions, which is what McCain has repeatedly criticized Obama for saying he would do with certain present-day foreign leaders whom McCain doesn't like.

At the time of the meeting, the US Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington, DC – the 1976 car-bomb assassination of former Chilean ambassador to the US, Orlando Letelier, a prominent critic of Pinochet, and his American assistant. McCain made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition in Chile. Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy, meeting with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.6

The John McCains of America, in and out of Congress, would much sooner pal around with Augusto Pinochet than Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro or Bill Ayers.



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Monday, October 13, 2008

A traveller's tale....

Con Dao: From "Earthly Hell" to Paradise

I am just back from the peaceful, fresh air of beautiful Con Dao island, to the exciting buzz of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam.

Famous adventurer Marco Polo discovered Con Dao long before me, in 1294 in fact, when his boat came ashore to avoid a disastrous storm which had destroyed some of his fleet. Con Dao, an archipelago of 16 islands, was once known as Paulo Condore by early western sailors.

For me, it was a stunningly scenic 45 minute flight south from Saigon, and being there was very relaxing. Con Son is a neat little town, with well-kept streets and gardens, and yellow beaches surrounded by thick, green-forested mountains. There is a colourful underwater world of coral reefs to dive in, pearl farming, forest trails, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets from near-deserted beaches. It is one of the rare places visitors can see the turtle making its nest and laying its eggs on the beach at night. Here, there is a real sense of isolation from the busy, modern world.

The quiet isolation was exactly what I was seeking for some much-needed R&R at the end of my 11th year of tourist group leading for Intrepid in Viet Nam. For now at least, it is almost untouched by tourism. But it was not always such a paradise.

The quiet isolation was also just what the French colonialists were seeking and, in 1862, they began to build their notorious prison system on Con Dao. Here, they would brutally incarcerate, torture and murder patriotic Vietnamese who dared to resist French exploitation. For the prisoners, it was their "Earthly Hell", from which some would escape but most would not, except in death.

Later, in 1954, after the French were defeated by the Viet Minh, led by hero President Ho Chi Minh, they handed over their prisons to the US and their client regime in Saigon, to continue the "Earthly Hell", right up until Liberation Day, April 30, 1975. The next day, prisoners themselves rose up in unity with the triumphant Ho Chi Minh Campaign to free themselves, and their country.

My basic but comfortable resort accommodation was located right by some of those prisons, a constant poignant reminder of just where I was relaxing, looking over the beautiful blue-green sea.

For me, it was a sad, harrowing experience walking through just some of the many political prisons, including the especially inhuman "tiger cages". I don't think even I was quite expecting them to be so vast and horrible. Some have been restored, and some are being restored, but I think the most confronting are the ones left as they were, some still with the prisoners' writings and scratchings on the walls, and the lingering smell of human suffering and death, like it was just yesterday.

The diabolical horrors and cruelties of the past continue today in other places in the world, but we are usually deliberately kept oblivious to them (in both cases!).

I also visited the large, well-maintained Hang Duong martyrs' cemetery, peaceful under the forest of trees, the final resting place for so many Vietnamese national heroes and patriots who suffered so much on Con Dao. During the 113 years of this "Earthly Hell" alone, perhaps some 20,000 Vietnamese from all over the country - north, centre and south - died while incarcerated on Con Dao.

For many, the prison was also a revolutionary school, training a defiant generation with the strong will to fight for national salvation. Fortunately, many of those imprisoned on Con Dao lived to become important citizens and famous leaders of modern Viet Nam, including former prime minister Pham Van Dong, former president Ton Duc Thang, Le Duan, Phan Chau Trinh, Nguyen Van Linh, and diplomatic negotiator Le Duc Tho who signed the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement between Viet Nam and the USA, winning the Noble Peace Prize.

I particularly wanted to see the tomb of famous female hero Vo Thi Sau. Born in the south in 1933, she was a Viet Minh revolutionary against the French from the age of 14. She was the first Vietnamese woman to be sentenced to death and transported to Con Dao. Vo Thi Sau was imprisoned in the "tiger cages" at the tender age of 16, and executed on January 23, 1952, when she was only 19. Boldly, she faced her executioners in a white blouse so they could not fail to see her young blood shed for her country. Long ago, I read that even today there are always fresh flowers and incense on her tomb, and sure enough, so there were. Of course, I had to add my own, something I have been wanting to do for many years.

Rest in Peace - We Never Forget

Grave of Vietnamese heroine Vo Thi Sau on the island of Con Dao

Postage stamp marking the 50th Anniversary of the death of Vo Thi Sau

(I visited Con Dao from October 5-9, 2008)

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain and The Evil Empire
Pepe Escobar: McCain insists on demonizing Russia - he's not even listening to his own heroes view

US War Resister faces deportation from Canada
Canada Border Services Agency, continues to routinely effect deportation orders of US Iraq War resisters view

The roots and remedies of the financial crisis
Leo Panitch: It's time to make banking a public utility Pt4/5 view

Taking on the military-industrial complex
The Real News Network needs your support now view

Pentagon Wants Extra $450 Billion

By Josh Rogin

Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced figures. Continue

What will the US Foreign Policy be Tomorrow ?


Five NATO generals prepare a world government ..? An interesting and disturbing discussion of where US foreign policy may be heading. Continue

Anti-Democratic Nature of US Capitalism is Being Exposed

By Noam Chomsky

Bretton Woods was the system of global financial management set up at the end of the second World War to ensure the interests of capital did not smother wider social concerns in post-war democracies. It was hated by the US neoliberals - the very people who created the banking crisis writes Noam Chomsky. Continue


Following the problems with Lehmann Bros and the sub-prime lending market in the USA, uncertainty has now hit Japan.

In the last 7 days Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up, and Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.

Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today shares in Kamikasi Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.

Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop, and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Black Friday?

By Mike Whitney

....Too much time has been wasted on Paulson's failed bailout for G-Sax and his friends on Wall Street. Buying the bad assets of underwater banks does not fix the problem. The banks need capital so they can resume lending and transmit credit to consumers and businesses....There's a way forward but it will take a lot of digging out and a vision of the future that doesn't center on Wall Street. Continue

A Solution?

By Paul Craig Roberts

....Instead of wasting $700 billion on a bailout of the guilty that does not address the problem, the money should be used to refinance the troubled mortgages, as was done during the Great Depression. If the mortgages were not defaulting, the income flows from the mortgage interest through to the holders of the mortgage-backed securities would be restored. Thus, the solvency problem faced by the holders of these securities would be at an end. The financial markets must be carefully re-regulated, not over-regulated or wrongly regulated....

The US budget deficit can be eliminated by halting the Bush Regime’s gratuitous wars and by cutting the extravagant US military budget. The US spends more on military than the rest of the world combined. This is insane and unaffordable. A balanced budget is a signal to the world that the US government is serious and is taking measures to reduce its demand on the supply of world savings.....

Does the US have the leadership to realize the problem and to deal with it?
Not if Bush, Cheney, Paulson, Bernanke, McCain and Obama are the best leadership that America can produce.....

The explanation of the Great Depression was not known until the 1960s when Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz published their Monetary History of the United States. Given the stupidity of our leadership and the stupidity of so many of our economists, we may learn what happened to us this year in 2038, three decades from now. Continue

How to Save the U.S. Economy

By Richard C. Cook

.....The financial rescue plan currently being implemented by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System will fail to revitalize the producing economy, even with continued interest rate cuts....

All the current plans being suggested by economists and others to save the financial system by varying degrees of tinkering are useless. Similarly useless is the pumping in of credit or liquidity by Treasury or the Federal Reserve because it is no more than new debt to roll over old debt.

The cause of the financial failure is that the producing and consumer economy is “maxed out” and is unable to repay existing loans much less new ones. This is because purchasing power in the U.S. has collapsed....

Everything being suggested by the Obama/McCain campaigns is based on the failed Keynesian formula.

An entirely new paradigm is needed...Following is the “Cook Plan”: ...It is requested that readers give this plan the widest possible distribution. Continue

French Premier Francois Fillon:
We're on "The Edge of The Abyss”

By Mike Whitney

People are scared and removing their money from the banks and money markets which is intensifying the freeze in the credit markets and driving stocks into the ground like a tent stake. Meanwhile, our leaders are "caught in the headlights", still believing they can "finesse" their way through the biggest economic cataclysm since the Great Depression. It's madness.


Our Secret War In Pakistan?: Don’t Ask

Don’t ask about the troops on bases here in Afghanistan who don’t wear uniforms, have long beards (so they can better blend in during covert operations), tattoos and don’t mingle with regular soldiers.

Israel to press Russia not to sell air defences to Iran

The Israeli prime minister will press Russian President Dmitry Medvedev not to sell anti-aircraft defences to Iran amid growing speculation the Jewish state will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

"To the Bunkers!":

Central banks slash rates in emergency "midnight" meeting

By Mike Whitney

The United States is headed into another Great Depression and has probably dragged the rest of the world along with it. The global financial system will look very different by the time we reach the other end of the tunnel.


Brazil, Argentina abandon US dollar

Brazil and Argentina have launched a new payment system in their bilateral trade, doing away with the US dollar as a medium of exchange.

IMF: World economy to slow sharply, led by US

"The world economy is now entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s," the IMF said in its report.

'Economic 9/11' exacting grim psychological toll in US

The murder-suicide of a Los Angeles financial manager who shot dead five members of his family before killing himself has highlighted the psychological toll of the economic meltdown.

Retirement accounts have lost $2 trillion so far

Americans' retirement plans have lost as much as $2 trillion in the past 15 months — about 20 percent of their value — Congress' top budget analyst estimated Tuesday as lawmakers began investigating how turmoil in the financial industry is whittling away workers' nest eggs.

McCain Linked to Group in Iran-Contra Affair


In the 1980s, McCain served on the advisory board to the U.S. chapter of an international group linked to ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America.


McCain fudges his Navy record

During the course of his flying career with the U.S. Navy, John McCain was involved in at least five major mishaps or crashes involving his plane.

Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets

Ready to Carry Out "Crowd Control"

By Naomi Wolf

Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn't pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time.


Time To Face The Facts On Afghanistan

By Eric S. Margolis

For those who savor historical irony, the Soviet Empire collapsed in the years 1989-1991 because of an implosion of its economy brought on by a ruinous arms race with the United States and the heavy costs of occupying Afghanistan.

Seventeen years later came the turn of the world’s other great imperial power, the United States. Lethally bloated by runaway debt, and burdened by 50% of the world’s military spending, the house of cards known as the US economy finally collapsed....

In a crazy sidebar, as Wall Street and the US banking system faced meltdown, the insouciant Pentagon just announced it would spend $300 million with American `contractors’ to spread pro-US propaganda in Iraq.

This remarkable idiocy notwithstanding, Washington could soon run out of money necessary to keep paying for operations in Iraq, and bribing Pakistan with $250-300 million a month to wage war against its own rebellious Pashtun tribes people along the Afghanistan border....

Startlingly, Gen. McKiernan appeared to break with Bush administration policy by proposing political talks with Taliban and admitting the war had to be ended by diplomacy.

The military men know this war cannot be won on the battlefield. McKiernan’s predecessor told Congress that 400,000 US troops would be needed to pacify Afghanistan. There are currently 80,000 western troops in Afghanistan, many of them unwilling to enter combat....

Though Karzai’s olive branch (to the Taliban) was rejected, the fact he made it public is very important. By doing so, both he and Gen. McKiernan broke the simple-minded Western taboo against negotiations with Taliban and its allies.

Let us remember that Taliban is not a `terrorist movement,’ as claimed by western war propaganda, but was founded as an Islamic religious movement dedicated to fighting Communism and the drug trade.

Taliban received US funding until May, 2001. In fact, CIA keep close contacts with Taliban, many of whose members were US-backed mujahidin from the anti-Soviet war of the 1980’s, for possible future use against the Communist regimes of Central Asia and against China. The 9/11 attacks made CIA immediately cut its links to Taliban and burn the associated files.

In recent years, Western war propaganda has so demonized Taliban that few politicians have the courage to propose the obvious and inevitable: a negotiated settlement to this pointless seven-year war. A noteworthy exception came last April when NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who admitted the war could only be ended by negotiations, not military means....

The current war in Afghanistan is not really about al-Qaida and `terrorism,’ but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West.

The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off the hostile natives.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are wrong about Afghanistan. It is not a `good’ fight against `terrorism,’ but a classic, 19th century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource-rich Central Asia.

The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years. The western powers certainly are not....


Sunday, October 05, 2008

War Crimes Conference

Planning for the prosecution of high level American war criminals


From A Regular Antidote to the Mainstream Media

The Pentagon Bailout Fraud

We Have the Money
If Only We Didn't Waste It on the Defense Budget
By Chalmers Johnson

There has been much moaning, air-sucking, and outrage about the $700 billion that the U.S. government is thinking of throwing away on rich New York bankers who have been ripping us off for the past few years and then letting greed drive their businesses into a variety of ditches. In fact, we dole out similar amounts of money every year in the form of payoffs to the armed services, the military-industrial complex, and powerful senators and representatives allied with the Pentagon.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Massive US military budget passed

Chalmers Johnson:
US wrong to believe it can maintain both a military and civilian economy


The New American Century: Cut Short By 92 Years

By Mike Whitney

There's trouble ahead. The multi-polar world is about to collide head-on with the "faith-based" unipolar world and millions are bound to suffer. But there is no doubt about the final outcome. The geopolitical plates are shifting inexorably away from Washington.

America's ability to wage war will steadily erode as capital and resources dry up. Its only a matter of time before the war machine sputters to a halt and the troops return home. When the killing stops, a truly new world order will begin.


Make-Believe Maverick

By Tim Dickinson

A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty.