Sunday, June 25, 2006

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Pay No Attention to That Car Parked (behind those curtains) in Suitland


General Motors Corp. will initially lease, but not sell the EV1, the company's electric car, shown in this undated handout file photo, company officials said Tuesday, Aug. 27, 1996. (AP Photo/HO)
WASHINGTON -- Just weeks before the release of a movie about the death of the electric car from the 1990s, the Smithsonian Institution has removed its EV1 electric sedan from display.

The National Museum of American History removed the rare exhibit yesterday, just as interest in electric and hybrid vehicles is on the rise.

The upcoming film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" questions why General Motors created the battery-powered vehicles and then crushed the program a few years later. The film opens June 30th.

GM happens to be one of the Smithsonian's biggest contributors. But museum and GM officials say that had nothing to do with the removal of the EV1 from display.

A museum spokeswoman says the museum simply needed the space to display another vehicle, a high-tech SUV.

The Smithsonian has no plans to bring the electric car back on view. It will remain in a Suitland storage facility.
...NOTE: Just what sort of alternative "reality" does one find themselves these days? There are times I think I can take no more of it,then something like this flies under my radar and I am compelled to share it.
AN SUV!!!??? Jeeze!
Yesterday I went to see "Spamalot" (A must see), I really needed to laugh....
Still slogging thru all the techno-crap to be able to broadcast AND archive my :Sedition Babe" radio show on live365. It has been far more daunting than I had expected.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

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Beach Blanket Gonzo: Fearmongering and Fakery in Miami
Saturday, 24 June 2006
As usual, wise man Juan Cole has the skinny on the latest mendacious manipulation of America's carefully-stoked fears of terrorism: this time, a bunch of down-and-out, non-Muslim fringe cultists reduced to begging for water and boots, utterly incapable of carrying out any of the strikes they were allegedly planning -- dreams of violence which were encouraged and cultivated by an FBI informant posing as an al Qaeda operative. Every law enforcement agency now says the group posed no real threat, had no weapons or material to make weapons -- unlike, say, the many white supremacists nabbed over the past few years with their bristling arsenals and ready-made bombs. So why was the raid on this minor collection of wretched, self-deluded chumps trumpeted to the skies by the Bush Regime? Do you really have to ask?

Cole also touches on a larger point. The relentless and savage class war waged by the American elite against the nation's poor (and, increasingly, the middle class) during the past 30 years is creating the kind of societal rot that breeds ignorance, extremism and violence. As Cole notes, the same resentments, the same oppression and hopelessness is beginning to link the slums of Cairo, Nairobi, Manila, Rio, Mexico City and elsewhere around the world to the ghettos of Miami and Los Angeles and the ruins of New Orleans. The fire building under these ash-heaps -- seething and subterranean for now -- is like the lava that swelled for years beneath Pompeii before it blew. When the inevitable explosion comes, it's not going to be pretty, or neatly contained; it's going to be a hard rain that falls on the just and unjust alike.

The tiny sliver of wealthy elites who control the majority of America's wealth (and all of its government, corporate and Establishment institutions), an elite now personified by the junta triumvirate that rules the country -- Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- have never had to face the consequences of their actions. There has always been someone else to pay the bill, take the fall, someone else to fight and die to keep the Sliverites in clover. Thus the American elite have come to believe that there are no real consequences for their actions; they believe they can continue to rip American society and American democracy to shreds but that everything will go on as before. They believe -- like all the over-gorged, dull-witted elites in all the now-vanished empires before them -- that they can disembowel the golden goose and keep on collecting the eggs. Like the extinct Easter Islanders, they are devouring the source of their own sustenance -- but they are too stupid and too greedy to see it.

And anyway, the crack-up is not likely to come while the aging triumvirate is still alive to see it, so what do they care? "Apres moi, le deluge." Or as Bush once famously shrugged to Bob Woodward, when the latter asked him how history might judge his Iraq war: "History? Who knows? We'll all be dead."

Yes, but some of us -- a lot of us -- millions of us -- are going to die before our time, thanks to the ignorant and callous predations of our well-protected elites.

*For more on the Bush Regime tactic of infiltrating and manipulating terrorist groups, see Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism and Darkness Visible: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now Operative.*
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Fetzer Kicks Ass......Again

Disgusting Iran-Contra Criminal Grills Jim Fetzer
Thursday June 22nd 2006, 9:24 pm

Amazingly, the Bush Ministry of Lies and Disinformation, Fox News division, allowed co-chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Jim Fetzer, on the Hannity and Colmes show this evening.

From the outset, Colmes, and then the disgusting Iran-Contra criminal, guilty of facilitating the murder or thousands of innocent Nicaraguans, Oliver North, a Fox News stalwart, attempted to make it appear Fetzer is behind a nefarious effort to teach “9/11 conspiracy theories” at American universities, thus demonstrating both are ill-informed shills (or rather disinfo operatives in the employ of Rupert Murdoch and former Nixon choreographer Roger Ailes).

Even though Fetzer immediately corrected this obvious and stupid misinformation—a sickeningly transparent attempt to smear him and the entire nine eleven truth movement—text making the claim remained on the screen above the ticker during the entire segment, thus sending the intended subliminal message to viewers, many with no more than two brain cells to rub together.

Naturally, in the short period of time allotted, Jim Fetzer was only able to make a few brief points about nine eleven proper, spending nearly half his time telling the “liberal” Alan Colmes and then Ollie North he is not teaching “9/11 conspiracy theories” at universities. It appears all of this was intentional, designed to confuse the average Fox watcher, who is a deeply and probably irreversibly brainwashed neocon cheerleader.

It’s really too bad Jim Fetzer didn’t have more time, not only to tick off a good chunk of the evidence demonstrating the official version is essentially a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, but also reminding Ollie North of his various crimes against humanity and fascist conspiracies, including his documented plan to trash the Constitution and herd dissidents into concentration camps (see Peter Dale Scott’s 10-Year U.S. Strategic Plan For Detention Camps Revives Proposals From Oliver North).

For the entire segment in Quicktime and Windows video format, visit this page at

Friday, June 23, 2006

Feds Raid Patsy “Terror Cell” in Miami
Friday June 23rd 2006, 8:36 am

In a transparent repeat of the paintball terrorist op in Ottawa (and the absurd bust of innocents in London)—designed to remind American, Canadian, and British subjects they must surrender what remains of their beleaguered civil liberties—the FBI has announced they have raided “a suspected terror cell based in Miami,” according to the Ministry of Hysterical Propaganda, ABC News division.

“The group has been under surveillance for some time and was infiltrated by a government informant who allegedly led them to believe he was an Islamic radical, a Justice Department official said.”

In other words, an FBI agent, pretending to be an “Islamic radical” and a putative “al-Qaeda operative,” convinced a handful of patsies to “discuss” the targeting of the Sears Tower in Chicago and supposedly federal facilities in Miami.

In a repeat of the Ottawa theatrical event, the alleged terrorists, with “possible ties with Al Qaeda” (of course), are “teenagers and young adults,” according to the International Security Research & Intelligence Agency, billed as “analysts and experts at your service to identify, analyse and assess any issue related to your safety and your entreprise’s and/or institution’s (sic).” In short, it appears the FBI has exploited the naiveté of kids, more accustomed to blowing up skyscrapers in video games than in real life.

According to the aforementioned “source,” the dupes in Miami are possibly “Black Muslims,” although this was not mentioned by the corporate media as of this writing (AG Gonzales is scheduled to hold a press conference). “Sources say the arrests reflect the government’s concern about so-called ‘homegrown terrorists.’ It’s a threat FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed during a recent speech in New York,” ABC News continues. Translation: increasingly, the “threat” is domestic, thus a police state becomes more palatable at home, with “Black Muslims” (i.e., the Nation of Islam) and other boogiemen replacing distant and less hysteria-inspiring cave-dwelling terrorists.

“One law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said the arrests illustrated how federal authorities were rooting out threats at their earliest stages,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Televised images of FBI agents swarming a warehouse in the Liberty City area of Miami highlighted the possibility of an unusual homegrown case of domestic terrorism.” Of course, now that the “al-Qaeda” threat is increasingly “homegrown,” such staged events will become less “unusual” and will in fact become cours de rigueur.

“A man identified as a member of the ‘Seas of David’ religious group told CNN on Thursday that five of his fellow members were among those arrested and that they had no connection to terrorists,” explains Reuters. “‘We are not terrorists. We are members of David, Seas of David,’ said the man, identified as Brother Corey. He said the group had ’soldiers’ in Chicago, but reiterated it was peaceful movement. Miami media said the group of men sold hair grease and shampoo in the streets. Some worked on construction crews.”

A Google search on “Seas of David” returns no results. “Perhaps it’s only a Davidian-related threat, a new conflict between ‘Davidians’ who fight with ‘Babylonians’ (federal authorities). It needs a thorough investigation” a US source told ISRIA, linked above. Of course, the word “Davidian” brings to mind the premeditated mass murder of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.


ABC News reports: “An FBI informant posed as an emissary from al Qaeda and administered oaths of allegiance to the seven Miami men charged today with providing material support to al Qaeda…. An outline of the indictments to be announced later today indicates the men began meeting with an unnamed FBI informant in November 2005. Justice Department officials say the informant provided boots and a video camera so the men could obtain surveillance pictures of government buildings in Miami.”

In other words, this whole affair is a government set-up, engineered to hype the “homegrown” threat of domestic terrorism, that next phase of the neocon effort to trash the Constitution and further militarize society in preparation for World War Four, the generational crusade made in Israel and transplanted in America, the only nation on earth with the required military prowess and a population sufficiently brainwashed and easily frightened by phony terrorists.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

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Pariah President: Bush In Vienna, Heather Wokusch

It’s embarrassing to have a president who’s so universally loathed. Bush arrives in Austria today and will be greeted by scorn and widespread protests, not to mention Cindy Sheehan. Random posters have been up across Vienna since April, depicting Bush’s face and a German-language caption reading “A mass murderer is coming.”
How extraordinary that even when Bush visits allies abroad he’s not well received. He was heckled in the Australian Parliament in October 2003, and weeks later, lambasted for insulting the Queen when his security personnel trashed Buckingham Palace. He was greeted by hostile headlines and throngs of placard-carrying protestors in Ireland in 2004, then charged with torture by a legal activist group in Canada later that year. Bush encountered massive protests under the slogan “Not Welcome” in Germany in 2005, and faced banners depicting him as a devil, a vampire and a warmonger at the November 2005 Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

Bush is in Austria today for a brief US-European Union Summit plugged by the State Department as “combating an ideology of violence with a positive vision of freedom, democracy and opportunity.” Humorous in light of recent revelations that the CIA colluded with various European countries on the alleged kidnapping and secret transfer of terror suspects to countries that use torture.

But the show must go on. Expectations for Bush’s visit are low, however, and his farcical jaunt to Iraq last week didn’t help. The Iraqi Prime Minister wasn’t informed about Bush’s visit until five minutes before they met, proving that the supposedly sovereign government can’t even control who enters its country.

Bush said he visited Iraq last week to look Prime Minister Maliki “in the eyes” and determine his dedication to freedom - reminiscent of how Bush looked Russia’s President Putin “in the eye” back in 2001 to “get a sense of his soul.” But Bush won’t be practicing his mystical eye-looking quality in Vienna; the city’s under a security lockdown with huge sections cordoned off lest Bush come face-to-face with the growing hordes of angry protestors.

It’s hard to imagine where Bush actually is welcome. A Pew opinion poll released last week found that citizens across the globe are losing confidence in the US leader, with his approval ratings plummeting, for example, to 15% in France, 7% in Spain and a 3% in Turkey. Support for the administration’s militaristic policies has also dramatically waned, with majorities in only 2 of the 14 countries surveyed favoring the so-called war on terror, and similar majorities citing the US military presence in Iraq as a greater threat to world peace than Iran.

In other words, people around the world are beginning to understand that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq is linked to the sharp increase in global terrorism – and a potential threat to their own safety. And they wouldn’t be heartened by Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) April 2006 assessment of National Counterterrorism Center data, which found an increase of over 5,000% in the number of global terrorist attacks and over 2,000% in the number of terrorist-related deaths in the three years following the US invasion of Iraq. Yet the administration says the war on terror is making us safer.

It’s troubling that as international disapproval of Bush and his administration’s policies increases, so does anti-Americanism in general; the Pew poll found that “favorable opinions of the United States” have plummeted since last year in the majority of the 15 countries it surveyed, including in Germany, Russia and India.

So perhaps it’s fitting that Bush is now visiting Austria, a country which at one point was a powerful empire controlling lands as far flung as Mexico, but today fights to have its voice heard on the world stage. The lesson is clear: Imperialistic overreach and its requisite focus on military power can eventually make the mighty crumble.

Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer based in Austria and can be reached via her website: She’s been on an extended book-writing sabbatical, but will be back to blogging in the autumn of 2006.
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King Gee Dubya Goes to Vienna

Gawd, if there were a face for "clueless" this would be it. It was interesting to note that were were no photos of the handfull of the paid crowd that our Dear misLeader was actually waving to. I have a friend in Austria who is taking part in the mass protests and I can assure you that Fueher Bush is totally despised everywhere he goes.
Achor tied around his ankles!!!!???????

Merrill Apparently Shot Himself On the Bay

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 21, 2006; A01

Philip Merrill, the prominent publisher and former diplomat whose body was found floating in the Chesapeake Bay on Monday, suffered from a heart condition and apparently took his own life, his family said last night.

Merrill, 72, was found with a shotgun wound to the head and a small anchor tied around one or both ankles, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

"Obviously, he took his own life," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the results of an autopsy had not been announced. "This is not an accident."

Merrill, who was famously brash and determined as the leader of a publishing empire that includes Washingtonian magazine and the Capital newspaper of Annapolis, lately had become fatigued and unmotivated, his family said in a statement late yesterday. They said he had undergone heart surgery a year ago and was on several medications as a result.

"Over the past four weeks we've observed that his spirit dimmed," the family said.

"We were concerned for his welfare but never imagined he would consider taking his own life," they said. "Unfortunately, with the same resolve and single-mindedness that made him so effective as an executive he appears to have made his decision to carry out his actions with tragic consequences."

The development was a startling turn in a series of tragic events that began June 10, when his boat was found under sail but empty and drifting in high winds. A massive search that day and for days later yielded nothing. Then, on Monday, a recreational boater found his body close to a shipping lane off Poplar Island, more than 11 miles from where his boat, the Merrilly, had been found.

"To be honest with you, I'm speechless," Tom Marquardt, executive editor of the Capital, said last night. "This ending does not change his accomplishments one iota."

Merrill was assistant secretary general to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the early 1990s and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States from 2002 until last year. He frequently took time away from his business to pursue diplomatic and intelligence assignments for the government. He served six administrations, mostly in the State and Defense departments.

His death recalled two other high-profile incidents involving prominent Washington area residents. In 1996, former CIA director William E. Colby died from drowning and exposure after falling from a canoe off Charles County. After his body was recovered more than a week later, authorities said he probably had a stroke or heart attack before the accident.

In 1978, another former high-level CIA employee, John A. Paisley, disappeared while sailing across the Chesapeake Bay. His body was found a week later near Solomons Island with a fatal gunshot wound in an apparent suicide.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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The Green Zone Follies June 19, 2006
TBR – June 19, 2006

By now, the news has been released here that two GIs were captured by Iraqi resistance people but I don’t know if the American media has published the names and units of the soldiers who were captured by the Iraqis on the 16 June, 06. They are:Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore, both from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Given that the war has lasted longer than the Second World War and over a hundred thousand troops are involved, it is interesting that according to the DoD official records, no one has been captured. What is the reason for this unbelievable state of affairs? Mainly because when the Iraqis capture an American, they torture him to death, taping their fun and games and then notifying competent authority where they can find the mangled remains and the tapes. Generally, the bodies are in no condition to be seen by anyone so there is a special team of dieners from the DoD who first identify the remains and then pour gas on them and set them on fire.

The reason for this apparent barbaric behavior?

Officially, we have lost no one and the bodies are often so mutilated as to make it highly inadvisable to let local morticians or family members see them. An explosion of a homemade mine will not do to the bodies what the Iraqis do, so everyone is told they were burned up in a vehicle explosion. Here are the names of several more personnel: Spc. Christopher S. Merchant, 32, of Hardwick, Vt., died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on March, 06. Merchant was assigned to the Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment, Jericho, Vt. Cpl. Joseph P. Bier, 22, of Centralia, Wash., 7 Dec, 05 .Bier was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Unfortunately, American troops are aware of these terrible deaths and that is one of the reasons why they do not like to take prisoners and, when possible, torture Iraqi wounded or prisoners or simply shoot houses full of women and children. No guerrilla war is pretty but this one is worse than most. The Japanese Army had a reputation for doing away with people but this consisted mostly of just shooting prisoners. They rarely tortured them or cut off body parts but this does not apply to the hated Iraqi guerrillas.

I saw two color pictures of the remains of a captured GI and I flatly refuse to look at any more. They are so bad I would not even think of publishing them, effective though they may be. Combat deaths are one thing but systematic and terrible torture is another. From a purely pragmatic point of view, we have no business here. We came to get the huge oil reserves but that has not and never will happen. The President is a mental case as even the top brass here knows, and he will not disengage under any circumstances so the death and injury tolls will continue to rise, at least until Congress gets its act together and defies the Rove Machine or Bush is run over by a crazy cow in Crawford. Johnson was a politician but the military had him by the balls in ‘Nam so he stayed the course until he saw it had destroyed him and he quit. Nixon saw the handwriting on the wall and disengaged. Both of these men, unscrupulous and manipulative though they might have been, were intelligent men but what we have in control now is a childish, spoiled brat filled with self-hatred and an inflexible personality. All the senior people here know this and Bush is detested as much as the pompous gasbag, Rumsfeld whom most of the commanders would love to use for target practice or convince him to go for a stroll, unguarded, in downtown Baghdad some evening. ”

Last updated 21/06/2006

How Conveinent............................

Lawyer representing Saddam Hussein killed By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press

One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was shot to death Wednesday after he was abducted from his home by men wearing police uniforms in Baghdad, court and police officials said.

Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim in their eight-month-old trial, was abducted from his house at 7 a.m., said Saddam's top lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi. His body was found shot to death on a street near the Shiite slum of Sadr City, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi confirmed that al-Obeidi had been killed, although he did not provide any details.

Unlike al-Dulaimi, who shuttles between Amman, Jordan, and the Iraqi capital, al-Obeidi chose to continue to living in Baghdad during the trial despite the capital's tenuous security and the killing of two members of the defense team last year.

Al-Dulaimi blamed the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis have alleged is infiltrated by so-called Shiite death squads, for the killing.

"We strongly condemn this act and we condemn the killings done by the Interior Ministry forces against Iraqis," he said, adding that U.S.-led forces also bore responsibility because the war had allowed Shiite militias to gain influence in Iraq.

Sunni Arabs were dominant under Saddam's rule but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster in April 2003.

A dozen masked gunmen abducted defense lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi from his Baghdad office the day after the trial's opening session in October. His body was found the next day with two bullets in his head. Nearly three weeks later, defense lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in a brazen daylight ambush in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.

The defense has asked Iraqi authorities for increased protection and threatened to boycott the trial unless this was provided.

The deposed leader and the other seven are charged with killing more than 140 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.


Associated Press writers Hamza Hendawi, Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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Land of really, really cheap gas
Venezuelans pay 12 cents a gallon -- and not a penny more
- Jens Erik Gould, Chronicle Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

(06-20) 04:00 PDT Caracas, Venezuela -- Taxi driver Victor Serrano burns a tank of gasoline every day whizzing around the streets of Caracas.

But he has no problem coming up with money to pay for his daily trips to the service station. Serrano pays only $1.80 for a whole tank.

"I don't worry about that because gas is so cheap," Serrano says as he fills up. "If we live in an oil-producing country, we can't pay a lot for gas."

While a gallon of gasoline in California costs well over $3, Venezuelans pay 12 cents per gallon, about the same price as a banana.

Drivers in the world's fifth-largest oil-exporting nation say they consider cheap gasoline their birthright.

But maintaining some of the world's lowest fuel prices requires heavy government subsidies and price controls. Oil prices hovering around $70 a barrel have filled the Venezuelan government's coffers, helping President Hugo Chavez maintain the country's long tradition of low gasoline prices.

Extremely low gasoline prices are also helping boost car sales, which rose 68 percent last year, according to the Automobile Chamber of Venezuela.

Low gasoline prices dissuade drivers from worrying about fuel efficiency, and Venezuelans clog their streets with gas-guzzling SUVs and obsolete buses that emit more pollution than newer, environmentally friendly models.

"It's amazing. People here drive their cars one block away to buy bread," says Omar Hernandez of the Caracas environmental group Fundecis. "The number of cars we have collapses the city."

Gas station owners have long complained about these low prices because the pennies per gallon they earn mean losses for many of them.

"Gas is too cheap," says Roger Bergna, manager of a service station in eastern Caracas owned by state oil company PDVSA. "That's why we can't have logical or fair profits, and our services suffer."

Bergna grabs a single piece of hard candy from a shelf in his station's convenience store to show that the least expensive item in the store still costs twice as much as a liter of gas.

"The gasoline truck drivers don't make enough," he adds. "The wholesalers don't, either. And we, the retailers, we're at the end of the chain, and we're just left to cry."

Eight percent of stations in the capital have shut down in the past two years, according to Metrogas, the Caracas branch of Venezuela's national gasoline retailers guild. Metrogas President Rómulo Arreaza says the stations can't afford to pay their workers the 25 percent minimum wage increase that Chavez ordered this year.

After two years of appeals from service stations, the government increased gasoline owners' profits slightly last month but did not move the pump price.

The Energy Ministry raised stations' take from 3.4 to 4.6 cents a gallon by funneling money away from gasoline taxes. Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez says higher fuel prices are not an option.

"We're not going to raise gasoline prices," Ramirez says. "We've always resolved this within the same price, and that's what we'll do."

Profit margins squeezed

Before the latest increase for station owners, inflation and minimum wage increases had far outpaced growth in stations' profit margins, according to Metrogas. Still, Arreaza says, the increase is less than half of what his association wanted.

"We still have the hope of achieving fair profit margins through negotiations," Arreaza says. "But until that happens, the sector will stay in crisis and stations will continue to close."

The leftist Chavez, who has become the Bush administration's leading antagonist in Latin America, has used revenue from the state oil company to subsidize cheap food for the poor, as well as an array of other social development programs that are the hallmark of his socialist Bolivarian Revolution." He even financed a fuel subsidy plan to sell discounted heating oil to low-income families in the northeastern United States last winter.

The government is afraid that raising gasoline prices will alienate supporters, says Toby Bottome, editor of the magazine VenEconomy, especially since Chavez is running for re-election in December.

A gasoline price increase during a budding recession in 1989 helped spark a three-day riot in Caracas that left at least 300 people dead, a memory that Bottome says is still fresh in many Venezuelans' minds.

"They wouldn't dare run the risk of triggering a new bout of rioting," Bottome says.

An explosive issue

Jose Luis Cordeiro, a petroleum engineer and consultant who writes on Venezuelan oil history, says that gasoline prices are a politically explosive issue but that a price increase is long overdue.

Cordeiro estimates that Venezuela could have earned an extra $8 billion last year if the government allowed stations to sell at market prices. The country consumes double the amount of gasoline as neighboring Colombia, which has almost twice the population, he says.

Environmental leaders like Deborah Bigio, executive director of the Venezuelan NGO Fundena, says the rising number of cars is making Caracas' congestion and pollution even worse.

But economists agree that the government can afford the environmental risk and the losses on local fuel sales as long as global oil prices stay high.

And Serrano says Venezuelans are prepared to fight for the advantage they have over drivers in the rest of the world.

"I've worked in other countries, and you have to save gasoline there because it's really expensive," Serrano says. "It's not as good as we have it here."

"If the government raises prices too much, we'll hit the streets and block the roads."

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Monday, June 19, 2006

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Stay the farce
Filed under: Constructive Criticism — MrBogle @ 7:35 pm
Ah, the smell of an election year is in the air, with anyone with an IQ above that of a gerbil feeling that he or she is permanently stuck downwind from a pig farm. The Republican-controlled Congress, not willing just to spew the usual sewage, has decided to mix it in with the blood and bones of American troops in Iraq, firmly declaring that they (in a non-binding resolution) will stay the course in Iraq in order to stay in office.

And the American populace is supposed to admire their moxie. John F. Kennedy once wrote a book entitled “Profiles in Courage.” Today, it would be named “Profiles in Political Porn.” Republicans are perfectly willing to run on the callous calamity of Iraq, the facts be damned. Ten dollar hookers have more dignity (better outfits, too).

I think this Republican Administration’s shamelessness is best expressed by Flack Tony Snow who, when queried as to the White House’s reaction to the 2,500th American soldier dying in this illegal invasion, opined: “It’s a number.”

No, Tony - it’s 2,500 living, breathing American citizens who are no longer living and breathing because a group of ill-informed, culturally-ignorant and militarily-moronic Yahoos wanted to take over Iraq. Period. End of discussion.

Speaking of discussions, both the House and the Senate, bolstered by the death of al-Qaeda’s numero two-o and Bush’s brave (five hour under the cover of darkness) visit to this booming (literally) new Iraqi democracy, decided to seize the day by the short-hairs and paint the Democrats as turncoats by bull-dozing two sad-sack statements into the record saying “We wuv war.”

(The House histrionics followed their voting 351-67 for another $66 billion in “emergency” war time spending, or as Dem. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio called it: “Mass death on the installment plan.”)

Bush himself got the Rovian ball rolling, last week, wondering aloud about why the Democrats just want to cut and run. In Republicans’ eyes, it’s a choice: “Cut and run” or “stay the course.” I love intellectual subtlety.

(Bush also praised Iraqi honcho Nouri al-Maliki’s plan to crackdown on Baghdad’s insurgents Big Time. A plan that, in 72 hours, has allowed dozens of Iraqis to get blowed up (seven bombings in five hours on Saturday), ten kidnappings of citizens to occur, seventeen corpses shot, execution style, to be found, one U.S. soldier to be killed and two other soldiers to disappear, possibly kidnapped. Sometimes, it would seem, “stayin’ alive” runs afoul of “stayin’ the course.”)

Snow was all over the talk shows on Sunday, declaring, re: Iraq: “Whatever the bleakness is, whatever the facts are on the ground, you figure out how to win. You can’t do that by reading polls.

“Most people realize simply pulling out would be an absolute unmitigated disaster.”

Uh, actually, Tony? Outside the Beltway? I mean, in “real” America? Most people are saying the exact opposite.

An AP-Ipsos poll saw Bush’s handling of the war at a stellar 33%, with his overall approval rating at 35%.

A CNN poll found that only 39% of folks approved the handling of the war, with 54% disapproving. 54% opposed the war, with 38% stayin’ the course. 55% thought things were going notso hotso while 41% thought things were stellar. (Interestingly enough, Bush’s trip ‘over th’ar’ boosted his popularity rating from 36% to a whopping 37%! Go team! Also, 47% - as opposed to 27% - said they were less likely to vote for a candidate supported by our President this fall, with 20% saying they officially didn’t give a rat’s ass.)

Oh, yeah. Note to Tony? 53% thought the U.S. should set a withdrawal timetable with 41% opposed. So, in America, Bushites, a lot of us are for your “cutting and running” slogan.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 57% saying the number of US troops should be reduced, 53% saying that Iraq was a mistake and 53% saying they aren’t confident of success. (Bush’s popularity, again, soared from 36% yo 37% - the seventh straight under 40% performance in this poll.)

So, with the majority of Americans opposed to the war and the Administration as popular bird flu, Congressional Republicans, like belligerent bozos tumbling out of clown car, made a mad dash for the microphones to put on record their support for this madness.

The Senate, by a 93-6 votes, went “rah-rah,” with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn. cat skinner) warning: “I am absolutely convinced (if the Senate favored a withdrawal) the terrorists would see this as vindication…If we were to cut and run, the violence in Iraq would certainly increase,” and the chaos “would spread around the region and right here at home.”

He even linked our leaving Iraq with “a skyrocketing of gas prices in this country.” Don’t forget the rise in cases of gingivitis.

Senate Republicans claimed victory with the final lopsided tally. “This sent a good message that the United States Senate overwhelmingly opposes a cut-and-run strategy,” said John Cornyn of Texas.

(I wish they’d endorse a cut-the-crap strategy.)

For sheer slapstick, the House, known for its buffoonery, nailed it. Bloviating big boy, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Rancid, Ill.), proved that his appetite for rhetoric is second only to his appetite for junk food.

“When our freedom is challenged, Americans do not run,” Denny’s said in remarks laden with references to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We must stand firm in our commitment to fight terrorism and the evil it inflicts throughout the world,” declared Hastert. “We must renew our resolve that the actions of evildoers will not dictate American policy.” (Uh, they already do, Denny.)

One of the more interesting comments came from House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry (dang his) Hyde, R. Ill, who went into the Wayback Machine, stating: “Which, then, is the greatest risk in the face of decades of evidence: to act or not to act? To trust Saddam? Who in this body is willing to assert that it’s ever wise, that it’s ever moral to risk the destruction of the American people?”

(Note to Hyde: Your doctor’s on line two. There’s been a mix-up with your meds.)

“The left in this country have a position they’re advocating for — it’s called ‘cut and run,’ ” squeaked freshman Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., attacked war critics as defeatists who do not deserve re-election. “Is it al-Qaida or is it America? Let the voters take note of this debate,” he said, before picking up a banjo and calling Ned Beatty on speed dial.

“The choice for the American people is clear; don’t run in the face of danger, victory will be our exit strategy,” Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said, apparently never reading the autobiography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Oh, that’s right. There wasn’t one. My bad.

“Will we fight or will we retreat? That’s the question that’s posed to us,” House Majority Leader John Boehner said, once his hair was buffed.

After the vote, (256 legally nuts, 153 living in the real world) the Ohio Republican intoned, “Capitol Hill Democrats, once again, put their divisions and incoherence on display for the American public to see.” (Note: I think the last time a Republican has been coherent was when Lincoln announced: “Ow!”)

Dem. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Vietnam veteran, said it was “easy to stay in an air-conditioned office and say, ‘I’m going to stay the course.”‘ He added: “That’s why I get so upset when they stand here sanctimoniously and say we’re fighting this thing. It’s the troops that are doing the fighting.”

“‘Stay the course’ is not a strategy, it’s a slogan,” declared House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi as she called for a new direction in a war she labeled “a grotesque mistake.”

House Speaker Hastert said the sham vote “told the world that the sacrifices made by our troops on foreign shores are keeping the battle against the terrorists out of our cities and neighborhoods.”

And, most importantly, he said that with a straight face, obviously dreaming of a dinner break.

Now, the final “non-binding” resolution opposes setting an “arbitrary date” for withdrawing troops and concludes with a declaration that the United States “will prevail in the global war on terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.”

For those unacquainted with Republican Congressional politics, “non-binding” translates into: “We can change our minds if we want to before the elections. So, there.”

Personally, I would have preferred all Congressional Democrats to just to have stood up and walked out of the room, allowing the Republicans to yank their own cranks in this sleazy set-up. But they didn’t. Hopefully, the Republicans will shore-up their total disengagement with the feelings of the majority of Americans all on their own by the fall, and the majority of Americans will vote accordingly.

Perhaps it was Dennis Kucinich who summed up Bush’s Iraq policy the best. “What can you say when you are watching your nation descend, sleep walking, into something like the lower circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno?

“You can say stop it! You can say enough blood is enough blood!

“You can stop it! Bring our troops home!”

On a personal note, I would like to invite every Republican member of Congress who supported this sleazy stunt to come to my backyard and debate your asses off like pandering parrots repeating “cut and run, cut and run” endlessly.

My roses are in dire need of fertilizer.

And the fertilizer you guys offer is the strongest I’ve smelled in decades.
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Bush’s Baghdad Photo-op

By Mike Whitney

06/19/06 "Information Clearing House' -- -- “Three years after ‘Mission Accomplished’, the U.S. still does not control one inch of territory beyond the Green Zone”. (Excerpt)

George Bush loves playing the war president. He loves strutting across an aircraft carrier in a tight-fitting jump-suit or dropping in on the new Iraqi Premier, al-Maliki for a few hours of chummy bravado. He loves showing Papa-Bush that he can hang in there when things get tough and that he won’t be pushed around by those niggling nay-sayers in the Congress.

Unfortunately, things are quickly unraveling in Iraq and, by many accounts, the war is already lost. Conservatives are jumping off the bandwagon faster than liberals and Bush’s approval ratings continue to plummet. Retired General William Odom summarized the Iraq adventure best when he said, "It is the greatest strategic disaster in US history."

Bush’s photo-op in Baghdad only proves the wisdom of Odom’s judgment. What looked like a triumphant visit by the Commander-in-Chief to the heart of a war zone, was actually a desperate attempt to garner support for a failed mission.

The details of Bush’s Baghdad-junket are similar to his trip to the UK last year, when he was surrounded by a phalanx of 3,500 fully-armed security guards who shadowed his every move from the time he touched down until the final lift-off. All the while, a squadron of Apache helicopters and F-16s kept circling overhead to ensure the Dear Leader’s safety. Providing security in Iraq has ben an equally daunting task.

Three years after “Mission Accomplished", the U.S. still does not control one inch of territory beyond the pock-marked parapets and block walls of their Baghdad fortress. Even inside the Green Zone, security is so stretched that Bush had to be spirited out of the country just 5 hours after arrival. What does that tell the world about the magnitude of America’s failure?

Bush would never have risked driving through the battered landscape of downtown Baghdad. Instead, he limited his movements to one small dot on the map in an ocean of resistance; Bush’s citadel of "democracy".

"My message to the Iraqis is this," Bush boomed. “We’re going to help you succeed. My message to the enemy is: Don’t count on us leaving before we succeed. My message to our troops is: We support you 100%. Keep doing what you’re doing. And my message to the critics is: We listen very carefully and adjust, and adjust when we need to adjust."

What gibberish. Bush’s promises are absurd given the enormity of the catastrophe he has created. By every objective standard, things were better under Saddam.

The media gobbled up Bush’s photo-op with their customary zeal. The visit was yet another successful Rove-coup that probably nudged Bush’s approval ratings upward, but achieved nothing substantive. The pictures of smiley-faced politicians glad-handing and chest-thumping appeared on the front pages of every newspaper in the country. They added to the festive atmosphere that began with the killing of terrorist-mastermind Abu al Zarqawi. By all accounts, it was a good week for the Team Bush.

But the war won’t be won by the White House public relations team and people are increasingly suspicious of Bush’s diversionary publicity stunts like his unannounced trip to Baghdad. The long litany of war crimes is finally wearing away at the fragile American psyche.

Haditha, Falluja, Abu Ghraib; these are the names that will forever identified with Iraq and engraved in the public’s consciousness. Their scars are bound to be felt long after the war is over. Brand Bush is now irreversibly linked to criminal renditions, abusive treatment of prisoners, and massive slaughter. Nothing Rove does will remove the stain of those atrocities from America’s reputation.

American elites are steadily abandoning their support for the war. Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft, William F Buckley, Richard Holbrook are just some of the heavy-hitters who now see the futility of pursuing the present policy. President Jimmie Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of the war and the failure to provide even minimal security for the Iraqi people.

In an interview last week on the Jim Lehrer News Hour Brzezinski said that the invasion "was not worth it" and that it was a "major misadventure".

"This is worse than the bad days of Vietnam… We do not have a free and democratic government that is functioning… The authority we have installed is besieged and relatively helpless, and a civil war is beginning to mushroom, under the occupation which is unable to crush the insurgency, because it is a foreign occupation….We no longer live in an age of colonialism. We no longer have to assume the 'white man’s burden’ in order to 'civilize’ others."

Brzezinski finished the interview by offering a 4-step strategy for withdrawing from Iraq; something that the Democratic leadership should consider immediately.

1. Talk to the leadership about when to leave.

2. Set a date for withdrawal.

3. Let the government convene a conference of all Iraq’s Muslim neighbors about stabilizing Iraq and helping it to stabilize.

4 "Convene a donor’s conference of interested countries in Europe and the Far East who benefit from Iraqi oil on helping to rehabilitate Iraq. This would allow us to leave and still say that we basically achieved what we wanted—the removal of Saddam—though not providing a secular, stable, united Iraq under a perfect democracy."

Brzezinski poses realistic solutions for a situation that will progressively deteriorate into anarchy. His analysis cannot be easily dismissed. He is respected among his peers as a hard-edged Machiavellian strategist who is not given to flights of fancy. If he says the war is over, it is not because of some heartfelt connection with the Iraqi people, but because it is "unwinnable" and damaging to America’s long-term interests.

In an earlier interview, Brzezinski articulated his belief that the war has been a "moral setback" for America overshadowing our other activities in the world. He added that if we were unwilling to commit 500,000 troops and $200 billion a year, for an unspecified amount of time then victory would probably be unachievable.

He said, "There comes a point in the life of a nation when such sacrifices are not justified…and only time will tell if the United States is facing a moment of wisdom, or is resigned to cultural decay".

Brzezinski is right; America is at a crossroads. The moral squalor of our political system has never been more evident, nor the conduct of our leaders more vile. It’s no longer a matter of simply extracting ourselves from Iraq. Now, we’re fighting to salvage what’s left of our soul.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The nature of disinformation

Gatekeepers’ perceptual gap turns
our lives into predetermined fiction

By John Kaminski

Have you ever tried telling one of your neighbors about what you think
really happened on 9/11, or in Iraq, or in New Orleans, as opposed to
the way your local TV news reported it?

Observe the stress on the faces of people considering these questions?
Pain, followed by evasion, and a shuffling of the feet. Most people
know, but are afraid to say it.

Welcome to the gatekeepers’ perceptual gap, better known as the
mindlock. As our thoughts become frozen by ambivalence and fear, no one
can really answer the question of why we choose to believe lies when
the truth is right in front of us.

On the one hand, the world runs on the predetermined commercial lies we
are told every day. But at the same time, we also think — after first
suddenly lowering our voices and glancing furtively around to make sure
no one inappropriate is listening — that we don't really believe the
stories our government and TV people have told us is true.

In the silence of this dichotomy dwells the fear everyone is feeling.
It is impossible to feel both things and stay sane, and the political
condition of the world reflects this confusion.

This is the gap between spin and substance. It is run by the
gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are those who process information but withhold
some crucial detail. In pursuit of self-advantage, we are all
gatekeepers, in some respects.

More recently, gatekeepers has been the word chosen to denote phony
patriots like Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky, and phony websites like
Truthout,, and 911truth, which pretend to be in hot pursuit
of truth, but inevitably wind up down some dead end street with nothing
to show for the words invested except debunked fantasies and endlessly
debatable lists of minutia that prevent people from keeping their eye
on the ball.

The key to the solution of many of the world's problems — which is
Jewish control of the money and media supply — is deliberately avoided
by these gatekeepers. They hammer free speech into autism by creating
laws that make no sense except to those trying to limit and control the
thoughts of everyone else. And we worry ourselves into early graves,
speeded along by the poisons from which so many predators profit.

Gatekeeping is intrinsic to human behavior. If you don't love someone,
or if you don't respect them, then they very often become enemies, or
prey, mostly in the financial sense. One can't be expected to not act
in one's best interests, now can one? So that information presented by
anyone becomes a probe for personal advantage. And taken species-wide,
that has never kept the peace, has it? Exploitation is the lifeblood of

Trouble is ... as Americans we grew up with a certain degree of
civility, a process in which most of us truly believed. It was only
when we got past 30 that it began to dawn on us that this smooth veneer
of civilized society with which we had been presented was — and had
been — anything but that.

It generally takes perspectives from around the world to profoundly
perceive the behavior of the USA over time. Most Americans have no clue
about the validity of the phrase "we are as others see us."

Fact is, Bubba, the rest of the world sees Americans as conscienceless,
drug-addled, sex-crazed killers. Yet American media portrays Cowboy
Bush and his mad-dog, Israeli-coached saboteurs as heroes worthy of
status and praise. Now that is the power of the Jewish media. A vivid
glimpse of the gap of the gatekeepers.

Judith Miller of the New York Times single-handedly got the U.S. into
the poisoned war in Iraq with her phony source stories in this beacon
of American journalism. a Jewish enterprise if there ever was one.

William Randolph Hearst famously said, "You furnish the pictures; I'll
furnish the war." His father hit it big in the California gold rush,
and always consulted Jews before proceeding in business.

Jewish-generated hatred of Muslims expressed through thousands of TV
anchors into the minds of the populace got most of us to believe that
Islamic terrorists ran planes into the Twin Towers. Five years later,
there exists not a shred of evidence to prove this was so, except for
what has been fabricated by the Israeli-controlled Pentagon.

So, where was it you said you got your information?

TV and newspapers? Only now, five years later, is the Los Angeles Times
running regular stories about the “possibility” of a 9/11 scam?

The deflective apparatus has been put in place. Phony Palestinian talk
show hosts. Jews posing as Israeli critics. And a 9/11 skeptics
movement that has been stonewalled, denigrated and ripped apart by
calculated infighting. Sure, the New York Times can write
condescendingly about college professor conspiracy theorists at a
conference that was set up not to address the real issue in the first

A double layer of gatekeeping doublespeak.

So you seek refuge, some kind of sanity, on the Internet? And how do
you determine who's real and who's not? Answer: you very often don't.

But you know the guys on TV are fake. Just listen to how they never
criticize Israel. Even as Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian children
in the head for sport. Even as our own American army is being destroyed
by poison ammunition given to them by their own erstwhile leaders.
Could I please have an "Amen! That's treason!"?

Yet, the newspapers yammer on about American bravery. What is the name
of the latest fabricated terrorist? Who are our heroes all coming home
in boxes or at least deformed in some profound way? And what do our
leaders say about it?

Let’s ask Madeleine Albright, another closet Jew who supposedly
“discovered” her ethnicity only recently. “We think the cost was worth
it,” was her famous line about the deaths of a half-million Iraqi
children BEFORE the real invasion of Iraq even happened.

And what newspaper did you read that in? Maybe one or two, but you sure
as hell never heard it on TV. And then if you did, you probably didn’t
listen to it anyway.

Who do we not want to hear the words we really feel inside? What
penalty will we incur if our inmost thoughts reach the wrong ears?

And what are we actually permitted to say making honest observations
about American behavior, and not get thrown in jail? What are we
actually allowed to think?

As Donn deGrande Pre once said, the enemy is way inside our gates.

Perhaps it may be that only until we see accurately inside ourselves
will we be able to accurately realize what has been done to the world
in our names, and hang our heads in shame.

For more information see and

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida,
watches the weather compulsively during hurricane season, and writes
essays that appear on certain courageous Internet sites. His capsule of
9/11, The Day America Died, and his new collection of essays, “Recipe
for Extinction” are both available at

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Taste of Palast’s Armed MadHouse: 1927. Again.
Published by Matt June 7th, 2006 in Articles
t r u t h o u t | Book Preview

Excerpted from Armed Madhouse, a new book by Greg Palast.

1927. Again.

The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she’d pee herself: The President of the United States had flown his plane down to 1,700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! Later, I saw the photo of him looking out of the window of Air Force One. The President looked very serious and concerned. That was on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, two days after the levees broke and Lake Ponchartrain swallowed New Orleans.
The President had waited the extra days to stop first at the Pueblo El Mirage Golf Course in Arizona. I’m sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to show their appreciation for the official Presidential photo-strafing, but their surface-to-air missiles were wet. I don’t want to give the impression the President did nothing. He swiftly ordered the federal government to dispatch to New Orleans 18 water purification units, 50 tons of food, two mobile hospitals, expert search teams, and 20 lighting units with generators. However, that was President Chᶥz, whose equipment was refused entry to the disaster zone by the U.S. State Department.

President Bush also flew in generators and lights. They were used for a photo op in the French Quarter, then removed when the President concluded his television pitch. The corpses floating through the Ninth Ward attracted vultures. There was ChoicePoint, our friends from Chapter 1: The Fear. They picked up a contract to identify the bodies using their War on Terror DNA database. In the face of tragedy, America’s business community pulled together, lobbying hard to remove the “Davis-Bacon” regulation that guarantees emergency workers receive a minimum prevailing wage.

The Rev. Pat Robertson got a piece of the action. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Web site encouraged those wanting to help victims to donate to the charities he controls. Within the week, the Navy penned a half-billion-dollar contract for reconstruction work with Halliburton. More would come. Our President, as he does in any emergency situation, announced additional tax cuts. He ordered immediate write-offs for new equipment used in rebuilding. That will likely provide a relief for Halliburton, but the deductions were useless to small New Orleans businesses which had no income to write off. The oil majors, the trillion-dollar babies, won a $700 million tax break. Don’t think of hurricanes as horrors, but as opportunities. For the schoolchildren among the refugees, instead of schools, our President promised school “vouchers” on a grand scale. And there was a bonus. Louisiana had been a “purple” state- neither a solid Republican Red nor Democratic Blue. It was up for grabs politically. With a Democratic Senator and a new Democratic Governor, Louisiana was ready to lead the South out of the GOP. Louisiana’s big blue Democratic splotch was enclosed within the city below sea level.

On August 29, this major electoral problem for the Republican party was solved. I’m not saying our rulers deliberately let New Orleans drown. But before they would save it, the lifeguards boarding Air Force One had to play a few more holes.

In 1986, I was hired by the City of New Orleans to check out suspicious doings by a corporation called “Entergy.” I flew in to meet City Councilman Brod Bagert, who is also New Orleans’s top trial lawyer and its most accomplished poet. Over beignets and chicory coffee at the river, he said, “You want to know what this city’s about, Mr. Palast? I’ll show you.”

He drove me to a concrete bunker, banged on the metal door, and greeted a guy named Fishhead, who brought me into the belly of a horrendously loud, gargantuan and astonishing apparatus. “This here, Mr. Palast, is a pump. Forget Bourbon Street. This is all you have to know about New Orleans: We are under water. Below sea level, sir, and the only thing that keeps the river from pouring in over our heads are these pumps. You got that, son?” Outside flowed the Mississippi. America’s toilet. The poisoned expectorations of a hundred cities dumped into it or leached from suburban lawns and from factories when no one is looking, come out here in the tap water. A couple years ago, we buried our friend Gary Groesch, aged 50, of some mystery disease. “The City That Care Forgot” is their motto. The City That Everyone Forgot, a Bantustan where the Forgotten can be ignored except for the jazzy minstrel shows for tourists.

I called Bagert four months after the flood. Nearly half the city is still in the dark. The electric company, New Orleans Public Service, “NOPSI,” is owned by a holding company, Entergy, the company Bagert, Groesch and I investigated in 1986. Here’s what we found. In 1986, the New Orleans company was going broke because of the eye- popping cost of buying wholesale power-four times normal-from a company called Middle South Energy, charges they were passing right on to their captive customers in the city. Middle South is 100% owned and controlled by, you’ve guessed it, Entergy. But these were the days of government regulation, and government ordered an end to the shell game. Then came deregulation and the siphoning restarted with a vengeance. Busy shuffling loot from pocket to pocket, Entergy had neither the concern nor funds to harden their system against a hurricane. But from the looks of it, and my own review of their accounts, their plan in case of the long-expected flood came down to “turn off the lights and declare their subsidiary bankrupt,” which they did three weeks after the hurricane. Negligent damage liabilities and rebuilding obligations were thrown into the Dumpster of the bankruptcy courts, and the holding company walked away. But don’t worry, Entergy the holding company is doing quite well, posting a big 24% leap in earnings for the third quarter, a profit it attributes to “weather.” So who’s to blame for losing New Orleans?

That’s easy. It was Franklin Roosevelt. New Orleans was the victim of the New Deal, according to New York Times columnist John Tierney, in “Losing that New Deal Religion.” The free market flat-worlder’s argument goes like this: The idea that government’s job is to protect you is gone with the wind, drowned in the Mississippi. Government’s the problem, and the solution is… Wal-Mart. Turn FEMA into WEMA, the “Wal-Mart Emergency Management Agency.” That’s a quote. Let the market do it, let the market save us. Louisiana’s Republican Senator David Vitter was so excited by the idea of selling off the government, “privatizing,” that he introduced a bill at high tide to do just that, “privatize” emergency planning. But Senator Vitter, didn’t Joe Allbaugh tell you? New Orleans hurricane planning was privatized.

You should remember Allbaugh from Chapter 4: The Con. It was Allbaugh, as Governor George Bush’s Chief of Staff who, in 1997, handled the Governor’s personal emergency: His office allegedly called the Texas Air Guard to let them know that Karen Hughes would be dropping by to “make sure there’s nothing in there [Bush’s war file] that’ll embarrass the Governor.” Under Bill Clinton, the Emergency Management Agency was run by emergency managers. That was the dull way to do it.

In 2001, Bush made Joe Allbaugh FEMA’s chief and the two of them converted the agency into something more exciting, a front-line command center in the War on Terror, dissolving the agency into the Department of Homeland Security. And that’s when the unexciting emergency planning work was put up for sale. (Allbaugh quit in 2003 and turned the Wal-Marted FEMA over to his old college roommate, Michael Brown, an executive with the Arabian Horse Association.) It wasn’t in the Times, but a year before the hurricane, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA signed a half-million-dollar contract with a private operator to write up “a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for the City of New Orleans,” says the press release. Their plan was innovative. We know it was innovative because the work was handed to a company called “Innovative Emergency Management.” Innovative Emergency Management, said a company release, had “teamed” with expert James Lee Witt, the renowned Clinton FEMA chief, which was good news for New Orleans. The bad news was, it wasn’t true. Witt, despite IEM’s press release, said he was not part of the Innovative “team.”

No matter. Innovative Emergency Management’s founder, president and CEO, Madhu Beriwal, I believe, owns an umbrella and she’s an exceptionally experienced donor to the Republican party. She has more campaign committee citations, including donations to Senator Vitter, than evacuation plans to her name. Maybe she has extraordinary credentials for saving a city from flood, but when we called seeking her experience and credentials, we got nothing.

IEM’s press release, besides the fib about Witt, made this utterly truthful point: Given this area’s vulnerability and elevation…a plan that facilitates a rapid and effective hurricane response is critical. Amen to that.

So I called IEM in Baton Rouge to see their critical and innovative plan that was supposed to be complete well before Katrina’s landfall. The Wal-Mart of disaster prep couldn’t get me a copy. In fact, they couldn’t say if they had it. Nor if the City of New Orleans had it. Or if Senator Vitter or anyone had it or if it existed.

Could they tell me the name of someone at FEMA who had the evacuation plan? They hesitated, so I prompted, “Well, who do you call if there’s an emergency?” The question stumped them. And it stumped FEMA, which wouldn’t provide me a copy. The problem, I was informed, was that they couldn’t confirm it existed.

There is nothing new under the sun. A Republican president going for the photo op as the Mississippi rolls over New Orleans. It was 1927, and President Calvin Coolidge sent Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, “a little fat man with a notebook in his hand,” who mugged for the cameras and promised to build the city a wall of protection. They had their photos taken. Then they left to play golf with Ken Lay or, rather, the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.

In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial. As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for, of all things, balancing the budget.
Then, as the Mississippi waters rose, one politician, the state’s electricity regulator, stood up on the back of a flatbed truck rigged with loudspeakers, and said, roughly, “Listen up! They’re lying! The President’s lying! The rich fat jackals that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope, and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they drown your kids. I say, Kick’m in the ass and take your share of the wealth you created.” Huey Long was our Hugo Chᶥz, and he laid out a plan: a progressive income tax, real money for education, public works to rebuild Louisiana and America, Social Security old age pensions, veterans’ benefits, regulation of the big utility holding companies, an end to what he called, “rich men’s wars,” and an end to the financial royalism of the One Percent.

He even had the audacity to suggest that the poor’s votes should count, calling for the end to the poll tax four decades before Martin Luther King succeeded in ending it. Long recorded his motto as a musical anthem: “Everyman a King.”

The waters receded, the anger did not, and, in 1928, Huey “Kingfish” Long was elected Governor of Louisiana. At the time, Louisiana schools were free, but not the textbooks. The elite liked it that way, but Long didn’t. To pay for the books, the Kingfish levied a special tax on Big Oil. But the oil companies refused to pay for the textbooks. Governor Long then ordered the National Guard to seize the oil fields in the Delta.
It was Huey Long who established the principle that a government of the people must protect the people, school them, build the infrastructure, regulate industry and share the nation’s wealth-and that meant facing down “the concentrations of monopoly power” of the corporate aristocracy-”the thieves of Wall Street,” as he called them.

In other words, Huey Long founded the modern Democratic Party. FDR and the party establishment, scared witless of Long’s ineluctable march to the White House, adopted his program, albeit diluted, called it the New Deal and later the New Frontier and the Great Society. America and the party prospered. What happened to the Kingfish? As with Chᶥz, the oil industry and local oligarchs had few options for responding to Governor Long’s populist appeal and the success of his egalitarian economic program. On September 8, 1935, Huey Long, by then a U.S. Senator, was shot dead. He was 42.

And now is the moment, as it was in ‘27.

Tags: 1927, airforceone, armedmadhouse, book preview, department president, dna database, el mirage, federal emergency management agency, generators, george bush, gregpalast, hueylong, katrina, lake ponchartrain, lighting units, mirage golf course, mobile hospitals, national public radio news, new orleans, presidential photo, president chavez, public radio news, surface to air missiles, truthout, war on truth
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Bastards Inc.

Déjà vu in Ramadi

"Come and see the blood in the streets." Pablo Neruda, ‘Selected Poems’

By Mike Whitney

06/13/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- We’ve seen this before. An Iraqi city is surrounded by troops and armored vehicles; the artillery is wheeled into place, the roads are blocked, a giant wall of sand is piled up around the perimeter, and everything goes silent before the final onslaught.

We’ve seen it in Falluja, al Qaim, Husbaya and Tel Afar; the same persistent refrain over and over again; Rumsfeld’s lone mantra; “surround, isolate and destroy”.

This time it’s Ramadi, next time somewhere else; what difference does it make? Iraq is being decimated city by city, town by town; ravaged by invaders who see an opportunity to fatten their wallets or enhance their reputations. They’ll level everything before they’re done.

Ramadi is just another dot on the map; another set of mud-buildings in a vast ocean of oil; another convenient testing-ground for the War Department's next generation of high-tech weaponry. To hell with the people; their lives mean nothing.

The strategy for Ramadi is the same as everywhere else; “search and destroy”; identify all areas of resistance and crush them with an iron fist. We don’t do diplomacy, we don’t do negotiations, we don’t do “body counts”.

No one defies the new boss.

Ramadi is a teeming city of 400,000 people. Now it is under siege by Rumsfeld’s legions. The water lines have been blown up, medical supplies have been blocked, electricity has been cut off, and tens of thousands of people are fleeing into the countryside without shelter or food.

This is what is taking place in Ramadi right now. It’s not a video game; its real, and its being executed by the United States under the cover of “liberation” or some other such nonsense.

According to Times correspondent Megan Stack:

"The image pieced together from interviews with tribal leaders and fleeing families in recent weeks is one of a desperate population of 400,000 people trapped in the crossfire between insurgents and U.S. forces…U.S. and Iraqi forces had cordoned off the city…Air-strikes on several residential areas picked up, and troops took to the streets with loudspeakers to warn civilians of a fierce impending attack.”

“Air strikes on residential areas”?

Not our areas, their areas. Areas where “hajis” and rag-heads live. Ramadi is just another “terrorist sanctuary” to be “democratized” with laser-guided weapons and firebombs. Who cares that thousands of lives will be lost in another barbarous assault on a civilian population? Who cares that property and infrastructure will be reduced to rubble?

The “free press” will paper it over. They always do.

1500 fresh troops have been deployed to Ramadi for the offensive. Residents are afraid of a Falluja-style battle where vast swathes of the city will be left in ruins and thousands of people killed or injured.

The city has been cut off from all sides and American patrols have announced on loudspeakers that civilians should evacuate immediately. Independent journalists are reporting that “fierce fighting” has already broken out between occupation forces and resistance fighters. Air strikes and helicopter raids have intensified. American soldiers are forcing their way into homes in residential areas and snipers have taken positions on the city’s roof tops.

On Saturday, June 10, accounts from inside the city confirmed that:

“A full-scale American attack on Ramadi has commenced and fierce fighting is taking place in most of the districts…American fighter planes are now taking part in the offensive.”

Silence from the American media. Silence from the congress. Silence from the United Nations.

Another colossal war crime is taking shape and the world averts its eyes once again.

Thousands of the city’s residents have refused to leave because they either have no money, no means of transportation, or no place to go. They'll probably be caught in the crossfire just as others were in Falluja.

It’s a good day for Rumsfeld; another chance to spread misery across the pock-marked landscape; another opportunity to experiment with the Pentagon’s latest lethal gadgetry, another occasion to reduce a major Iraqi city to Dresden-type wreckage.

He is completely free to work his magic. No one will notice anyway.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Betting on the Un-manliness of the Iraqis Jun. 13th, 2006 @ 04:39 pm
June 13, 2006
By A Whitney Brown

Bush's latest photo op with Iraqi President al-Maliki was a bit of a back-handed compliment. This man is supposedly the head of state of a 'sovereign nation'. Imagine if a foreign leader could fly secretly into Washington, land a chopper on the White House lawn, and barge into the President's quarters with 5 minutes notice!

"Just checking up on you, Bush," this leader might say, as our President stuttered and mumbled some kind of appropriate greeting. Then he makes the President stand there unshaven, in his pajamas while he takes a few pics, hops back in his chopper and flies away. "Watch yourself, Bush," he yells, "I'm keeping my eye on you."
Pretty humiliating, wouldn't you say? The real message of this photo op is that al-Maliki has no more power than the White House dog. Less. Maliki gets this treatment and has to be grateful.
It brings up the larger point of what we are doing in Iraq. Put yourself in the shoes of the Iraqis. A foreign power invades your country, tortures your people, kills tens of thousands of civilians, some on purpose, many more through simple casual negligence.
Regardless of your differences with your fellow countrymen, the reaction we are expecting from these people; that they ally themselves with our interests against their Arab brethren is betting on their servility.
So our entire enterprise in Iraq, as I see it, is based on the expectation that the Iraqi people are the most servile, dishonorable, unmanly, indeed, doglike, people on the face of the earth.
Judging by their behavior under Saddam, this might seem to be a pretty good bet. They let this tinhorn bully kick them around for decades. But adding up Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and the countless other incidents like them that haven't made the news, even the Iraqis may have their limits.
We know that al-Queda is not like that. That's probably why Saddam hated them so much. They are not cowards. Fortunately, it would seem most of the al-Queda in Iraq are not Iraqis, which bodes well for us. But the fact that Saddam himself was Iraqi indicates that not all of them are such sniveling weaklings.
"As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down...." That's the doctrine. But it's a two-edged sword. If the Iraqis ever really did stand up, we'd be airlifting people off rooftops in the Green Zone in short order. There are 25 million of them, after all. We can only hope the training we are giving them doesn't include anything that builds their self-esteem. If they get anything resembling pride or patriotism, we're fucked. Just my thoughts.

A Whitney Brown,

Another Bush Crime Family Victim?
Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

Saddam's Defense:
Summon Bush Sr. to the Stand
by Kurt Nimmo
Counterpunch, 8 January 2004 11 January 2004
The URL of this article is:

NOTE:Please see article that follows regarding Maryland publisher and his ties to Import-Export Bank

Is it possible French lawyer Jacques Verges will be allowed to defend Saddam Hussein? Verges told AFP on December 19 that if called to defend Saddam, he'd march a slew of US and European witnesses to the stand.

At the top of the list are Reagan and Bush Senior.

"Right now the former Iraqi regime is being blamed for certain events that took place at a time when its members were treated as allies or friends by countries that had embassies in Baghdad and ambassadors not all of whom were blind (to Iraqi crimes)," said Verges.

"Today, this indignation appears to me contrived."

"When we reprove the use of certain weapons (we need to know) who sold these weapons," he said about Iraq's past purchase of arms from France, Britain, the United States, and Russia.

"When we disapprove of the war against Iran (we need to know) who encouraged it."

It was primarily Reagan and Bush who "encouraged" Iraq's merciless war against Iran. That's obvious, although many Americans -- the same Americans who cannot tell the difference between Saddam and Osama -- are clueless.

Calling Reagan to the stand, however, is out of the question -- he's got Alzheimer's. He wouldn't know Saddam from Edwin Meese at this point. He might even kick the bucket before a trial gets under way.

That leaves the main architect of Reagan's Operation Coddle Saddam, Bush Senior. Old Skull and Bones Bush is healthy and of sound mind, so to speak.

Call him to the stand.

On the first day of the trial, Jacques Verges may want to show the Rumsfeld video, the one where Rummy shakes hands with Saddam. Creepy, admittedly, but a good piece of theatrics to get the point across -- all of these guys were in bed with Saddam.

Rummy was in Baghdad on December 20, 1983 as a "special envoy" sent by Reagan to "thaw" relations between the United States and Iraq.

Saddam was using chemical weapons on the Iranians at the time, but that really wasn't an issue. Rummy tried to say later he slapped Saddam's hand for using chemical weapons, but a declassified cable recording of the meeting reveals Rumsfeld didn't even mention it.

Is it possible Reagan knew about Saddam's human rights violations, or was he taking a nap at the time, as he was wont to do back in the day?

As the evidence indicates, Bush Senior knew for certain. So did a lot of other people in the Reagan administration.

In 1981 US Secretary of State Alexander Haig told the Senate foreign relations committee that Saddam was worried about "Soviet imperialism in the Middle Eastern region," a concern that conspicuously followed the Soviet Union's refusal to deliver arms so long as Iraq continued its military offensive against Iran.

In other words, the Reaganites saw Saddam's falling out with the Soviets as an opportunity not to be missed, regardless of all the tortured political prisoners wasting away in Saddam's gulags or buried in mass graves. Bush Junior would later feign outrage over these atrocities as he pedaled his illegal and immoral war against the people of Iraq.

As the New York Times reported more than a year ago, the United States gave Iraq important battle-planning assistance during the Iran-Iraq war as part of a secret program under Reagan, even though US intelligence agencies had a good idea the Iraqis would use chemical weapons. More than 60 "specialists" from the Pentagon's DIA provided Saddam with detailed information on Iranian military deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes, and bomb-damage assessments.

In 1984, according to Bob Woodward, the CIA began to secretly supply Iraq with intelligence that was used to "calibrate" mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.

The following year Reagan established full diplomatic relations with Iraq.

In 1985 the Reagan administration encouraged American corporations licensed by the US Department of Commerce to export a whole lot of nasty biological and chemical materials to Iraq -- anthrax, botulinum toxin, and other toxigenic and pathogenic substances -- according to a 1994 Senate report.

"The American company that provided the most biological materials to Iraq in the 1980s was American Type Culture Collection of Maryland and Virginia, which made seventy shipments of the anthrax-causing germ and other pathogenic agents," writes William Blum.

Other US companies doing business with the Butcher of Baghdad include Hewlett Packard, Dupont, Honeywell, Alcolac International, and Bechtel Group, to name but a few. In total about $1.5 billion worth of biological agents and high-tech equipment was exported to Iraq from 1985 to 1990.

Bechtel is one of Junior's favored corporations, slotted to "rebuild" Iraq -- in other words, make a pile of money replacing what Dubya's daddy, Clinton, and Junior have destroyed over the last twelve or so years: power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems, sewage systems, etc.

"The United States spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted," says Representative Samuel Gejdenson, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of a House subcommittee investigating the exports to Iraq. "The Administration has never acknowledged that it took this course of action, nor has it explained why it did so. In reviewing documents and press accounts, and interviewing knowledgeable sources, it becomes clear that United States export-control policy was directed by U.S. foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was U.S. foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein."

"By the end of 1983, US$ 402 million in agriculture department loan guarantees for Iraq were approved," explains Norm Dixon. "In 1984, this increased to $503 million and reached $1.1 billion in 1988. Between 1983 and 1990, [US Agriculture Department's Commodity Credit Corporation] loan guarantees freed up more than $5 billion. Some $2 billion in bad loans, plus interest, ended up having to be covered by US taxpayers." Bush was at the center of these export credits and bad loans floated by the typically oblivious US taxpayer.

"A similar taxpayer-funded, though smaller scale, scam operated under the auspices of the federal Export-Import Bank," Dixon continues. "In 1984, vice-president George Bush senior personally intervened to ensure that the bank guaranteed loans to Iraq of $500 million to build an oil pipeline. Export-Import Bank loan guarantees grew from $35 million in 1985 to $267 million by 1990."

Just in case there's any doubt that Reagan and Bush Senior allowed the sale of deadly biological and chemical agents to Iraq, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration, reported in 1994 that "microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program."

The exports continued to at least November 28, 1989, well into Bush Senior's administration.

One of the first things Dubya's daddy did upon assuming office was sweep Saddam's horrendous human rights record under the carpet. Bush refused to join the UN in condemning the forced relocation of around half a million Kurds and Syrians in 1989. This violated the 1948 Genocide Convention -- but then Bush, Reagan, and Clinton rarely mentioned human rights unless they were giving speeches or excoriating official enemies.

All of this preferential treatment went out the window the day Saddam made the boneheaded mistake of invading Kuwait.

Reagan and Bush had lavished so many biological and chemical weapons on Iraq that in 1990 the deadly stuff became a threat to the United States, or rather the US military.

"That American troops could be killed or maimed because of a covert decision to arm Iraq," Murray Waas wrote in the Village Voice, "is the most serious consequence of a U.S. foreign policy formulated and executed in secret, without the advice and consent of the American public."

"I hate Saddam Hussein," Bush Senior told CNN's Paula Zahn in September 2002. "I don't hate a lot of people. I don't hate easily, but I think he's, as I say, his word is no good and he's a brute. He's used poison gas on his own people."

It is, all told, a remarkable conversion, one perfectly synchronized with Saddam's descent from useful client to demonized renegade and international outlaw.

Back in 1992 Douglas Frantz and Murray Waas of the Los Angeles Times wrote a story headlined, "Bush secret effort helped Iraq build its war machine." Frantz and Waas apparently got their hands on some classified documents that revealed "a long-secret pattern of personal efforts by [George Bush senior] -- both as president and vice president -- to support and placate" Saddam Hussein.

Jacques Verges would also do well to call James Akins, the former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

In 1963 the CIA was ramping up its coup against Iraqi Prime Minister Abudul Karim Qassim and Akins was in Baghdad. "I knew all the Ba'ath Party leaders and I liked them," Akins told Said K. Aburish, author of a book about the CIA-coordinated coup that eventually led to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein (A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite). "The CIA were definitely involved in that coup," Akins admitted. "We saw the rise of the Ba'athists as a way of replacing a pro-Soviet government with a pro-American one and you don't get that chance very often... Sure, some people were rounded up and shot but these were mostly communists so that didn't bother us."

In fact, a lot of them were doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors who formed Iraq's educated elite. The CIA wanted them killed. It drew up lists and brought one of its prized assets in from Cairo to help with the torture, murder, and mayhem -- Saddam Hussein.

Another CIA spook that may be of interest to Verges is Miles Copeland, who is tight with Bush Senior. Copeland told the UPI's Richard Sale that the CIA had enjoyed "close ties" with the Ba'ath Party, just as it had "close ties" with the intelligence service of Egyptian leader Gamel Abd Nassar.

Sale quotes a former State Department official as saying that Saddam became part of the CIA plot to kill Qassim. Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author (Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam's War), says that Saddam's CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for the CIA and Egyptian intelligence. US officials separately confirmed Darwish's account, according to Sale.

Unfortunately, none of these details will be revealed in open court or will they make corporate press headlines -- or for that matter find their way to page E16).

Last month the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued a press release before former Gen. Wesley Clark testified against Slobodan Milosevic.

The normally simultaneous broadcast of testimony, said the ICTY in a press release, would "be delayed for a period of 48 hours to enable the US government to review the transcript and make representations as to whether evidence given in open session should be redacted in order to protect the national interests of the US."

Geneva-based reporter Andreas Zumach may break the news about how US corporations illegally helped Iraq build its biological, chemical, and nuclear programs under the watchful eyes of Reagan and Bush Senior in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, but that does not mean the Bush Ministry of Disinformation -- Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. -- are obliged to inform the American people about it.

In fact, the names listed in Zumach's report were mentioned in Iraq's 12,000-page report submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva and the United Nations.

In order to redact those names, the Bushites violated an agreement with the Security Council and blackmailed Colombia, which at the time was presiding over the Council, grabbed the UN's only copy, removed the corporate names and other information, and distributed the result to the other four permanent members of the Security Council.

In other words, the Bushites can do whatever they want and nobody can do anything about it.

Jacques Verges will have to settle for the notoriety of defending the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, jet setting terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka Carlos the Jackal), Holocaust revisionist Roger Gaurady, and fall guy Slobodan Milosevic.

There's a good chance the Bushites will not allow Jacques Verges or any other lawyer anywhere near Saddam Hussein.


Kurt Nimmo is an author, photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent site at .

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