Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Counter Punch

I've been a devoted fan of for a couple years now. Alexander Cockburn is one of the chief eds., and his stuff is great. He has a familial tradition in journalism; his father and brother, both too acclaimed in the field. But, CP also hosts dozens of great writers and thinkers on one of the most popular news forums on the internet. Not mentioned by CNN, etc., CounterPunch isn't the future of journalism: It is the Now! for anyone wanting the straight goods. - ape

Anti-CounterPunch Paragon
Christopher "oink"Hitchens

CounterPunch Diary
Weekend Edition
February 19 / 20, 2005

Back to Salem: Paul Shanley and the Return of "Recovered Memory"; Ward Churchill's Genes (Cont.); Gannon and Gay Closetry in the Bush White House; Tsunami Relief and Australia

Off goes former Father Paul Shanley to state prison in Massachusetts for twelve to fifteen years, convicted of "digitally raping" and otherwise sexually abusing Paul Busa two decades ago. Shanley's now 74; the earliest he can hope for parole is when he's 82, at which point the DA could determine that he is still, though frail, "a sexually dangerous person" and should be confined for whatever years remain. A DA in Massachusetts exercised just that option in the case of another ex-priest, James Porter, who was released last year after pleading guilty in 1993 to molesting twenty-eight children. At the time of his death in February at the age of 70, Porter was in civil confinement, with the state seeking to keep him behind bars indefinitely.

So Shanley must know that most likely he will never see the light of day, unless through a barred window. He has more pressing concerns, namely the distinct possibility that he will be murdered in prison, a hope expressed by more than one person present at his sentencing, where Christian compassion, always rationed in Massachusetts, was in short supply. "I want him to die in prison, whether it's of natural causes or otherwise. However he dies, I hope it's slow and painful," declared Shanley's accuser, Paul Busa, a 27-year-old firefighter, in a written statement read in court.

The menacing words "or otherwise" were no doubt intended to evoke the fate of John Geoghan, a priest sent to a Massachusetts prison in 2002 for fondling a 10-year-old. Although Geoghan was being kept in "protective custody," he was strangled to death by a man serving a life term for killing a gay man. There have been allegations that prison guards were complicit in his murder. Paul Busa's father, Richard, is a corrections officer, and other relatives, including Paul's wife, are in Massachusetts law enforcement.

In his written statement Busa said that Shanley "is a founding member of NAMBLA and openly advocated sex between men and little boys." It's this supposed distinction, as the man who created the North American Man Boy Love Association, that has earned Shanley his throne in the Ninth Circle of the damned. It was one of the credentials in his résumé as presented in a two-and-a-half-hour PowerPoint presentation to the press in April 2002 by Roderick MacLeish Jr., the personal-injury lawyer representing Busa. At that presentation MacLeish released Shanley's ample diocesan file to the media, which hurriedly repeated MacLeish's allegations without pausing to scrutinize the file.

Had they done so, they would have found nothing to buttress the claims that Shanley founded NAMBLA, or was ever a member, or had ever advocated sex between men and little boys, or had a thirty-year record of child abuse complaints made against him or a history of being moved from parish to parish. Yet all these allegations have become the common currency of Shanley's biography, and if guards usher a murderer into his cell, the killer will probably have the NAMBLA charge at the top of his mind. Shanley's defense counsel, Frank Mondano, has said that during jury selection every potential juror was aware of the Shanley scandal, and what they most commonly "knew" was that Shanley was somehow involved with NAMBLA.

When my colleague JoAnn Wypijewski began to report on the Shanley case in 2002, the first thing she did was read the 1,600-page diocesan file that MacLeish had brandished. It became clear to JoAnn that in a case that had consumed the press, most conspicuously the Boston Globe, which ran almost daily stories on the priest scandal for years, she seems to have been the only reporter to have taken the trouble to look at the church dossier.

What she found in the documents were many, many pages of Shanley's fervent defense of homosexuality as a normal human variation and the uproar these arguments provoked in the Church. (Shanley, like many in his generation, found support for his assertions in Alfred Kinsey's 1950s sex surveys.) In terms of sexual abuse, the Church file has one complaint from the 1960s, which Shanley denied and his superior, rightly or wrongly, determined to be baseless; then nothing until the early 1990s, when a few accusers imputed various abuses to the priest dating back to the 1960s or '70s.

But nowhere was there any support for the claim that Shanley was a founder of NAMBLA or had attended a NAMBLA meeting; JoAnn, despite many discoveries about Shanley's active sex life as a priest, found no external evidence to back the charge. For her fascinating report on Shanley, see the September/October 2004 issue of Legal Affairs and jw01292005.html.

What landed Shanley in prison was not anything in the Church's file but the uncorroborated "recovered memories" of one man, Paul Busa. This case is a throwback to the early 1990s and before, when people were put behind bars for lifetimes on the basis of memories elicited by leading questions of psychotherapists. Ultimately, after years of patient effort by a few journalists, psychoanalysts, psychological researchers and advocates for justice, "recovered memory" as a tool of the latter-day Inquisition fell into well-deserved disrepute. In the state that gave us Salem in the seventeenth century and the Amiraults (all wrongly sent to prison on charges brought by Middlesex county DA Martha Coakley) in the twentieth, Shanley's case has reintroduced recovered memory to the courtrooms of the twenty-first.

In Shanley's trial, prosecution witnesses would not confirm Busa's claim that he was regularly taken from religious-instruction classes by Shanley. Nor would they confirm that they had ever seen the priest alone with Busa, or had seen anything untoward in the years 1983-89, during which Busa claims abuse. These claims were based on memories that became active in 2002, following Busa's conversation with his girlfriend about the nearly identical recovered memories of his friend Gregory Ford. Ford was dropped by the prosecution in the same case, as were two others, their stories apparently deemed by the DA too vexed for courtroom use.

No facts relative to the charges intruded into the courtroom; only emotion. Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel should have dismissed the charges, as requested by the defense. In the atmosphere of Massachusetts it would have taken courage to do that, and truly extraordinary courage for anyone on the jury (which included a therapist) to have insisted that memories are not evidence, and that there was far more than reasonable doubt in this case.

Churchill's Genes and Jews in Nazi Germany

Dear Mr Cockburn,

As someone writing form Germany, the possibility of misunderstanding me is great, but I risk the following comment nonetheless - purely for the sake of accuracy:

In your article you stated:

"I couldn't care less if Churchill is 100 per cent Indian, or 3/16ths Cherokee, which is what I believe he says is his Indian component. Didn't the Nazis kill people for that amount of Jewish blood in their veins?"

According to the Nürnberg laws (and in actual practice) one could lead a normal life (to the extent one could call life in Nazi Germany "normal") with one-quarter "Jewish blood" - provided one was raised with no ties to Judaism, Jewish organizations, etc. One couldn't join the NSDAP or the SS, but one had the normal rights and duties (military, etc.) of a German citizen. I personally know many "quarter Jews" who lived "normal" lives (which included things like years as a German POW in the Soviet Union) in the Third Reich.

There were even jokes at the time about the Jewish grandmother being the most beloved member of a family - for the culture and money she brought with her - without being a danger...

Arguments are stronger when they are accurate - even as concerns the most inhuman society in known history...

Karl Brehmer, Ph.D.
Rostock, Germany

World Bank to Assist Israeli Wall: It's all for the Good of the Palestinians!

by Emad Mekay
Friday, February 25, 2005

The "security barrier" snakes throughout Palestinian territory, seperating communities and families, making normal life impossible-ape

WASHINGTON -- The World Bank, an international development institution that says it has no political agenda, may be preparing to fund Israeli security checkpoints around a controversial separation wall under construction on occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel is not eligible for World Bank lending because of its high per capita income, but Palestinians are.

According to a World Bank official, the project would help the Palestinian economy by allowing Palestinian goods and workers a faster review at the checkpoints.

"We had proposed a couple of crossings and Israel has more formally come back to us and asked whether we would help secure financing for these, which is why we have started to prepare a project," Markus Kostner, the Bank's country program coordinator for the West Bank and Gaza, told IPS.

The crossings would be designed to speed up the movement of Palestinian people and cargo, and would be staffed by Israelis.

"However, as I said our financial contribution would be to the Palestinians. Because of its high per capita income level, Israel is not eligible for World Bank financing," Kostner said.

"So the project helps enhance the efficiency of the border crossings for the benefit of Palestinians, as well as at the same least maintain if not increase the security considerations of Israelis. From that perspective, it'll be a double gain," he added.

Approval of the plans may come as early as June this year, he said. The funding would come either in the form of grants or soft loans. The Bank declined to give a dollar value for the project and said it was still under consideration.

The Palestinians say they are following the issue closely.

"Our policy is that in principle, as long as this is not cut from any funding or aid to the Palestinians, then we'll put it under discussion," Hassan Abderhman, chief of the Palestine Mission in Washington, told IPS.

"However we haven't been informed of the World Bank plan. We are still in the discussions phase."

Some watchdog groups say the project would violate international law since some of the proposed checkpoints by the Israelis are on and around the separation wall, which annexes Palestinian land.

"If they are going to be funding the checkpoints outside of places in the Green (Line) then it's clearly a violation of international conventions and law," said Terry Walz of the Washington-based Council for the National Interest, a group that monitors U.S. and international policy towards Israel and the Palestinians.

"I must admit that making the Palestinians pay for the modernization for these checkpoints is an embarrassment, since they had nothing with the erection of the separation wall to begin with and in fact have protested it. I think the whole issue is extremely murky right now."

The Israeli business publication Globes reported on Feb. 15 that World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region Christiaan J. Poortman and other senior figures indicated that the Bank does not rule out financing infrastructure projects inside Israel that benefit Palestinians, such as a rail link between Gaza and the Ashdod Port or water projects.

Poortman also told the Jewish weekly publication, the Forward, two weeks ago that the World Bank is considering funding projects and security crossings around the separation wall.

The Forward quoted Poortman as saying that the World Bank "has indicated that it is willing to play a role, whether financially or in technical assistance," in upgrading the border crossings.

Poortman was not available for an interview.

This would be the first time the World Bank had stretched its interpretation of lending to the Palestinians to permit funding Israeli security measures and projects on occupied land.

Two weeks ago, an official Israeli delegation headed by former Brigadier General Baruch Spiegel briefed U.S. officials on the planned crossing points.

Spiegel heads a team appointed by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to contain the Palestinian "humanitarian" problems emanating form the construction of the separation wall.

Spiegel has reportedly also briefed officials with U.S. Jewish groups and senior World Bank officials.

An action alert from the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a leading pro-Israel lobby group, said Israel is building "state of the art" checkpoint crossings "for Palestinians traveling from Gaza to Israel, modernizing five similar terminals between Israel and the West Bank and substantially reducing the number of security checkpoints and roadblocks in Palestinian areas."

Israel is also building a Jerusalem bypass road that will enable Palestinians to travel between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank without moving through security checkpoints.

Some U.S. aid slated for the Palestinians would also be going to fund checkpoints. The Palestinians will eventually have to pay some of those debts.

Pres. George W. Bush's public offer of 350 million dollars in aid to the Palestine Authority actually allots some money to fund those "state of the art" checkpoint crossings.

The World Bank may also be trying to cast the modernization of checkpoints between Israel and the Palestinian Territories as a "development" project to be undertaken by the either the Israelis or the Palestinians as a way of improving the Palestinian quality of life and ease of communication.

The World Bank has been at the center of several controversies over the past few years, including charges that it backs international corporations at the expense of poor people in developing nations, but this is the first time it appears ready to get actively involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. James Wolfensohn had rejected this possibility last year.

The controversial separation wall is not built along the Green Line, the borders before the 1967 war in which Israel annexed more Arab land, but is in the West Bank, the main part of a potential Palestinian state.

The route of the barrier purposefully runs deep into Palestinian territory in order to help annex Israeli settlements and to break up Palestinian territorial contiguity.

Many development groups question the involvement of the World Bank and the U.S. government in the scheme. The United States is the largest shareholder in the World Bank.

Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish group that advocates peace with the Palestinians, supports the potentially greater freedom of movement and economic growth new checkpoints would provide, but wants to ensure that U.S. funding only pays for construction along the Green Line and not for the entrenchment of the security barrier deep in the West Bank.

"American aid to construct crossing points for the barrier inside the West Bank would violate U.S. policy that opposes spending U.S. tax dollars in support of Israeli settlement activity and the perpetuation of Israel's occupation of the West Bank," the group said in a statement.

"Israel has a right to deploy a barrier to protect itself from suicide bombers and other terrorists. However, it is our view that such a barrier should be built on the basis of the Green Line, not in the West Bank."

The Council of National Interests, a group monitoring the request, described the project as a boondoggle in which "Peter is robbed to pay Paul".

Copyright © 2005 IPS-Inter Press Service

Paying for the Crime: Poison Legacy in Vietnam

The Monsanto and Dow chemical corporations will be in court this week, finally answering for their part in the poisonous legacy they helped create with Agent Orange in Vietnam. - ape

Ho Binh Minh
Thursday 24 February 2005

Ho Chi Minh City - It is a classroom full of sunlight in Vietnam's southern city formerly known as Saigon, with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck painted on the wall overlooking several computers. But one pupil writes with a pencil held between his toes, another cannot close her smiling mouth properly and the oldest of them, Tran Thi Hoan, wheels herself in and out as her legs have no calves. They are residents of Ho Chi Minh City's Peace Village 2, a state project set up in 1990 from a ward of Tu Du Maternity Hospital to help disabled children, mostly victims of the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange.

On Monday, a New York court will begin hearing a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Vietnamese seeking compensation and a clean-up of contaminated areas from more than 30 firms, among them Dow Chemical Co and Monsanto Co, the largest makers of Agent Orange. It is the first time Vietnamese have sought legal redress since the Vietnam War ended in April 1975.

"I wish the suit will end with a victory so that the life of the victims like me could be materially better," said Hoan, a 10th-grade student who came to the Peace Village from the central province of Binh Thuan. She was also born with no left palm. Hoan's younger brother died at birth as he had no peritoneum, Hoan said.

Dr Nguyen Thi Phuong Tan, head of the Peace Village, said many of her patients suffered from severe physical defects, while others face chromosome disorder. Vietnam has 12 peace villages and 500 clinics nationwide to help its 3 million Agent Orange victims.

"Most of their children were born and grew up in areas sprayed with the Agent Orange defoliant during the war in Vietnam," Tan, also member of the Ho Chi Minh City's committee for Agent Orange victims, told Reuters Television.

Millions of Gallons

U.S. forces sprayed an estimated 20 million gallons of herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to deny food and jungle cover to the Vietnamese communists, but the chemical remained in the water and soil decades later. Agent Orange, named after the color of its containers, is blamed for nightmarish birth defects in Vietnam where babies appeared with two heads or without eyes or arms. U.S. veterans of the war have complained for years of a variety of health problems from exposure to the herbicide. Dioxin, the toxic compound in Agent Orange, has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects and organ dysfunction.

It is unclear whether the Vietnamese plaintiffs will succeed, but there are precedents in a 1984 agreement by Dow and Monsanto to pay $180 million to U.S. veterans. The U.S. government has refused consistently to discuss compensation. A U.S. lawyer representing the Vietnamese said those rallying behind the trial included U.S. veterans made sick by the chemical.

Nguyen Duc, 25, a Peace Village patient who now works there and is among the Vietnamese bringing the New York suit, has a twin brother who has been confined to bed since the 1988 operation in which doctors separated the twins sharing two legs.

"The U.S. government should pay for their mistakes," Duc said, sitting in his wheelchair.

Mahmoud Abbas: Reporting for Duty!

Kurt Nimmo
February 26, 2005

Palestine's New Leader: Reporting for Duty!

How convenient. A suicide bomb kills four Israelis at a Tel Aviv nightclub and the warden of the Palestinian open-air concentration camp, Mahmoud Abbas, blames Hezbollah, even though a renegade “cell of the militant Islamic Jihad group in the West Bank” claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

Of course, the involvement of Hezbollah in the attack makes absolutely no sense, unless the plan is to further demonize the Lebanese political party with an irksome history of successfully resisting the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon, eventually ejecting the invaders. It is said Hezbollah wants to push every last Israeli into the sea but this is hardly an original sentiment in the Middle East. It is also completely unrealistic and not likely to happen anytime soon, not with the United States bankrolling the Zionist state and fulfilling its every military hardware dream. Even so, nearly every day we ae told the Arabs want to do this and genocide of Jews is precisely why Iran is working on a bomb, even though they are not working on a bomb, according to IAEA.

Israel killed Rafik al-Hariri and now a UN-appointed commission will affix blame on Syria and Syria will be obliged to move its troops out of the Bekaa Valley thus allowing Israel to invade and re-occupy southern Lebanon where Hezbollah has paramilitaries and there also happens to be a good deal of water Israel thirsts to steal. If Israel and the United States are lucky, the Syrian government will topple from increasing pressure and there will be an “Orange” or “Chestnut Revolution” in Lebanon like there was recently in Ukraine, albeit “funded and organized by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organizations,” as the Transatlantic Democracy Network reports. It appears there is a “postmodern coup d’etat,” as Jonathan Steele of the Guardian termed the so-called revolution in Ukraine, underway in Lebanon.

Exactly a week after the assassination of al-Hariri, “some 50,000 or so protestors met near the [assassination] site, observed a minute of silence, and marched toward Hariri’s grave,” writes Michael Young. “As riot police brought up the rear, or stood by the roadside, protestors demanded a return to Lebanese sovereignty, shouted abuse against Syria and the pro-Syrian Lebanese government, and insisted that there be an impartial inquiry into Hariri’s death.”

Earlier this week Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud, told the European Union to butt out of its affairs by calling for an international inquiry into al-Hariri’s assassination and insisted Lebanon’s judicial authorities are capable of leading an investigation. In order to understand Hammoud’s irritation, imagine an assassin killing Clinton or Bush Senior and then Jacques Chirac insisting the United Nations lead the investigation. It would suddenly become illegal to buy French water and wine in the United States and a constitutional amendment would be passed mandating stiff penalties for the use of the phrase “French fries.”

Sarcasm aside, the United States and Israel are determined to wipe out Hezbollah and enfeeble Syria, maybe even overthrow the government of Bashar Al-assad. It now seems Lebanon’s “pro-Syrian” government, duly elected yet unacceptable to the United States and Israel, is a thing of the past and an “Orange” replacement is in the works. The 50,000 anti-Syrian demonstrators marching in the streets of Beirut look an awful lot like the 500,000 demonstrators gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square last November.

Israel wants to finish off Hezbollah once and for all, primarily because it is an effective roadblock in southern Lebanon and it enthusiastically supports the Palestinian cause (Hezbollah’s satellite TV station, al-Manar, is watched by thousands of Palestinians). Hezbollah may be forced out of Lebanese parliamentary politics after a U.S.-supported “Orange” revolution, but that does not mean they will go away—it simply means they will return to their roots and shed any moderating influence gained by participating in mainstream politics. It will also mean they will go back to killing Israelis and possibly U.S. troops as they invade southern Lebanon in response to terrorist events nobody with any credibility takes responsibility for.

If Hezbollah is good at anything—beyond helping impoverished Shia—it is declaring jihad against Zionists and killing IDF soldiers who were so frightened of Hezbollah warriors last time around the Israeli military machine broke down in southern Lebanon and was forced to retreat. This may in fact happen again.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Chavez Mobilizes the Militia: Waiting on the Eagle

Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Bylined to: Carlos Herrera

Carlos Herrera: Military trains students to use rifles; study guerilla tactics in the case of an external threat to Venezuelan national sovereignty

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: The threat of intervention in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs ... either directly from the US beach head in Latin America represented by Plan Colombia or direct intervention using US troops, cruise missiles, smart bombs etc., or the constant stream of distorted statements from US State Department spokesmen laying the ground to “prove” that Chavez is consorting with terrorists are all elements of the growing US hostility from the government of George W. Bush towards the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its sovereign people.

The latter strategy has been implemented with the connivance of corporate US media outlets such as Fox News, CNN en español and the help of deluded extreme right-wing journalists such as Mary Anastasia O’Grady writing in the Wall Street Journal, Michael Rowan in various Caracas-based publications such as El Universal and The Daily Journal, Phil Gunson operating out of Miami ... as well as other paid hacks.

US attorney Eva Golinger stated that more than 50 articles ... all with the same negative tone ... had been published in recent weeks in the US mass media, when Venezuela NEVER receives this amount of coverage.
Such coverage is limited to Chavez funding the Colombian guerrillas, buying arms from Russia, being friends with Fidel Castro, troops taking over private property, more poverty than ever in Venezuela and any other negative aspects these hacks could dream up in their servile roles of supporting the Bush doctrine of combating terrorism, real or imagined, at any cost.

In the case of Venezuela, like Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s all about “black gold” or natural gas

Suffice to say that no mention is made of respecting the democratic will of the Venezuelan people after 9 elections or referendum victories in six years supporting Chavez himself and his policies ... or the fact that social policies implemented by the Bolivarian Revolution via the Missions are specifically aimed at restoring basic human dignity, human rights and self-esteem to almost 20 million Venezuelans who had never had access to anything.

Since these accomplishments cannot be measured in dollars and cents, they do not exist for the one-dimensional mentality of the US corporate mass media and their Venezuelan off shoots. This is more than sad. It is tragic.
On February 29, 2004, there was a massive march and rally on the main freeway that passes through Caracas near the botanical gardens, the theme of which was “No to Yankee Imperialism.” Chavez spoke for nigh on 2½ hours to almost one million Bolivarians plus a nationwide TV audience and it was at this point that the national defense of Venezuela against US intimidation and threats began to take shape. It was then that the Bolivarian Revolution was declared “anti-imperialist”.

What measures are being taken?

Since one of the cornerstones of the social transformation of Venezuela as exemplified in the context of the democratic Bolivarian Revolution is based on civic-military union and cooperation, not only in order to strengthen ties but also actively working together on projects to improve the lot of the majority poor, Chavez invited the “pueblo” to go to the local garrisons and barracks to receive training in self-defense. This was the first important step to gradually mobilize the mass of the population.

Last Sunday in the President’s weekly radio and TV program “Alo Presidente,” Chavez called on the “revolutionary squads” to prepare themselves and organize the local populace. This is the first time he has mentioned this strategy to my certain knowledge.

Previous to this ... about two years ago ... the abandoned military reserve had been reactivated consisting mainly of men and women who had once served in the military and who had been trained is the use of arms. The establishment of the reservists started with 50,000 and by July this year should be in the region of 190,000-­200,000. These reservists are paid, armed and encouraged to form cooperatives so as to generate both wealth and work in the function of the needs of the country.

Venezuela’s armed forces consist of 120,000 men and women in all four components -­ Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard. These numbers are due to be increased and fresh weapons purchased from Brazil and Russia in preparation for the defense of the homeland against any external threat as outlined above. Even though the official line is that the 100,000 AK 47 assault rifles from Russia will be used to replace outdated bolt action weapons, the latter will still exist in order to arm the population in the case of an emergency.

In a news report on Venezuelan National Radio (RNV) last night, it was revealed that the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) will be located in the barracks and garrisons of the armed forces.

To understand the significance of this strategic move, it is necessary to grasp the ethos and purpose of the UBV. This popular university was created in June 2003 so as to guarantee university places to the sons and daughters of the poor who has been historically excluded from the middle class dominated educational elitist institutions such as the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and the Simon Bolivar University (USB).

In fact, it meant the mass-ification of higher education and as such had to be nationwide.
Thus, the plan was to “municipalize” classes all over the country, usually in the evening when school classrooms are vacant, so that students could receive classes in their own towns, and not have to travel. Effectively, this is the true democratization of education with the poorest receiving monthly grants of around US$100. The UBV will eventually have 400,000 students rivaling Beijing University as the largest in the world.

Most of the students now studying in the UBV entered through Mission Sucre, designed to allow access of the underprivileged to university education -­ thus most of these students will have received the benefit of the Chavez social/educational policies and should be committed to the process of change which has allowed them to study and make more of their lives, especially as some in their early 30s had waited ten years or more to secure a university place.

By extension, this “municipalization” has been extended to military installations, where classes will still be held, where students can learn and study the Bolivarian Constitution as well as how to sow and plant in line with the policy of “endogenous development” or self-sufficiency. Now, however, being under the wing of the military trainers, they can also learn how to use a rifle and study guerilla tactics in the case of the materialization of an external threat to Venezuelan national sovereignty.

The long term plan is to mobilize millions of citizens, students, reservists and professional soldiers to be at the ready in case their is a direct intervention either via Colombia or from US troops trying to take oil installations or wells.

Critics may whine that Chavez is “militarizing” Venezuelan society -­ but what else do you expect the government to do?

Disarm, as was the case in Haiti, and allow Chavez to be kidnapped as was President Aristide?
Or be like Costa Rica, where there is only a police force and no military?
The Bolivarian military doctrine clearly states that the armed forces are the people in arms and vice-versa -­ that is everyone. I can personally vouch for the fact that many poor who live in the barrios (slum districts) in the provinces, are already preparing themselves for an invasion, even without the constant cajoling of President Chavez.


Since they are conscious of what happened In Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1973, Grenada in 1986, Panama in 1989, Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980’s and more recently in Haiti in February 2004, without mentioning the human tragedy taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand the implications of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine.

No one really knows how many people are ready, and I am not one to hazard a guess on this strategic matter
The US State Department must realize that if their boss continues with this destabilization policy with a view to invasion or assassination of Chavez, then the consequences could be disastrous on a long, long term basis, as described in my article published yesterday “Let’s hope and pray that US corporate greed does not trigger a blood bath,” either by invading or attempting to assassinate Chavez.

International public opinion and diplomatic moves in the OAS, UN could prevent a preemptive strike on Venezuela, but rest assured, that the “pueblo” will always be on the alert and prepared together with our armed forces. The US could conceivably occupy Venezuela, but the word “surrender “ (rendición) does not exist either in Cuban or Bolivarian vocabulary, for that matter.

South American integration is a huge obstacle to US hegemony in the region and has effectively stopped the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) dead in its tracks, and thus US corporate exploitation and greed at the expense of disseminating more poverty in the region.

I propose reciprocal military defense alliances between all signatory countries to the South American Community of Nations (CSN). This could be discussed at the next meeting as early as April.
I am also certain that we can depend on the support of international players such as China, Cuba, Russia and Iran as the US continues to isolate itself on the geopolitical stage, simply due to the war mongering mentality of the hawks in the Bush administration driven blindly forward by US transnational corporations in their quest for Nazi-like world domination, as Bob Chapman of the International Forecaster has asserted in recent months.

The days, weeks and months ahead could be tense and difficult but action has to be taken and the population prepared. Bolivarians are peace loving but we also demand respect for our right to self-determination and to implement our own values and create a society based on human dignity and equality.

Venezuela is not a threat to the US and we do not possess WMD’s -­ neither did Iraq -­ just dignity and free will to shape our own destiny and that of our children and grand children.

We will not shirk to defend ourselves and our country since this is not just about Venezuela….but about all the underprivileged and excluded in Central America, the Caribbean basin and South America, in fact the poor on all continents who represent around 4 billion human beings at the last count.

Carlos Herrera

Hugo's Proof: Presidential Assassination Plot Outed

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Reporters

Venezuela's Media Minister Andres Izarra reconfirms plot to assassinate President Chavez

Speaking from the press lectern at the Miraflores Palace at precisely 02:45 p.m. today, [F23, '05] Communications & Information Minister Andres Izarra has reconfirmed the position that the Venezuela government has “incontrovertible proof” that a plot is being hatched to assassinate President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Izarra stated in clear, unequivocal terms, that he will not reveal the source of this intelligence information ... but he did say that persons involved in past destabilization attempts in Venezuela are acting in concert with the main assassination coup plotters.

A local journalist pointed out that there had been alarms in the past about a possible assassination attempt on the President’s life, but that the government, then as now, had never offered any proof or given names. Izarra merely answered that the information exists and that for reasons of national security, he could not reveal the source and that the fact he would not reveal it did not mean that such a plot did not exist. can, however, reveal that we have been able to corroborate intelligence details from other reliable sources which show a build-up of subversive activities focusing on a possible date within the next one hundred days. Activities out of the US Embassy bunker on Colinas de Valle Arriba as well as covert locations outside the capital show the high-level participation of US government agencies in support of violent anti-government groupings intent on the overthrow of President Hugo Chavez Frias' democratically-elected government.

The same confidential intelligence sources also formed the basis of our February 3, 2002, World Exclusive in which we revealed the preliminaries to the April 2002 coup d'etat which saw US puppet dictator Pedro Carmona Estanga seize power to dissolve the Constitution, Congress and the Venezuelan judiciary all in one fell swoop.

Now ... as then ... covert US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives are already in place in Venezuela as the SOA/WHISC prepares for what we can only describe as "a third bite at the cherry."

A build-up of USAAF and Navy contingents are already assembling at a Southern Command base on the Caribbean island of Aruba (Netherlands Antilles) to provide logistic and material back-up to an invasion force and the Pentagon is also preparing for a US Navy hospital ship to be readied to sail off the Venezuela's northern coastline.

In a further exclusive on February 8 (2002) we quoted unnamed but highly-placed diplomatic and IC sources as telling us of the Washington-initiated plot to assassinate President Hugo Chavez Frias and added that “Spanish-speaking US military operatives are already present in Venezuela lending logistic support to several anti-government terror cells in what’s described as ‘a fail-safe plan’ to dislodge Chavez Frias and to win US control over strategic oil supplies.”

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Demablogues: Pitching Hate from the Rec Room

Op/Ed - Ted Rall
Tue Feb 22, '05

Bloggers and the New McCarthyism

NEW YORK--Upon hearing that I'd started writing a blog, a Luddite pal asked me to describe this latest new-media phenom. Political bloggers, I explained, link to articles in traditional media. Then they rant and/or rave about them. "Great piece in the Journal." "The usual crap at" Anyone can write one; you don't even have to use your real name. "Oh," he replied. "A blog is like a column without the responsibility."

Bloggers want you to know that there's a new sheriff in town. Edward Morrissey, writer of the right-wing blog Captain's Quarters, boasts to the New York Times: "The media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it--and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore." And what are Morrissey's qualifications to police the media? When he's not harassing old-school journos like Dan Rather and CNN's Eason Jordan out of their jobs, Morrissey manages a call center near Minneapolis.

As a free speech fan, my initial reaction to the blog explosion--there's a new one born every 7.4 seconds--was delight. If you've been interviewed for a newspaper article you've probably had the experience of being misquoted or taken out of context, or at least had your name misspelled. If reporters get these basics wrong, how can we trust them when they tackle the big stuff? Moreover, the mainstream media is an ivory tower. Anyone who has tried to call a paper to complain has suffered through phone-tree hell before possibly wrangling out the limited satisfaction of a two-line correction on page 83 beneath the obituaries. But now anyone with access to a computer can, with the proper string of ideological comrades in cyberspace, call the mainstream media to account.

"I think the relation is more symbiotic than parasitic," writes Glenn Reynolds of the right-wing blog Instapundit. " Bloggers are more like the fish that protect sharks from parasites."

Bloggers, fierce new watchdogs of the fourth estate, claim they're democratizing American journalism.

It all sounds great--until you read them. Once you spend some time surfing this ocean of likeminded righties, however, you realize the awful truth: the "populist" blogosphere is cowing the mainstream media even further into submission to the powers that be.

At a time when simply having a conservative Democrat spar with a conservative Republican is enough to earn the tag "fair and balanced," the fact is that the political blogs are dominated by the hard right. Such a development might have served as a laudable counterbalance during the 1930s, a period of liberal political hegemony. But when talk radio, cable television news, and all three branches of the federal and most state governments are under the control of the right, the blogger wolf pack merely serves to further ossify a dangerously out of whack ideological imbalance.

Moreover, conservative blogs mirror their mainstream counterparts by applying a far angrier and more violent tone than that of their liberal foes. Here's a sample of online comments written by Republican bloggers: "Ted Rall should be beat to within an inch of his life with a baseball bat." "Every morning when I read the paper, I hope the headline will bring me tidings of [Ted Rall's] untimely demise. Untimely? Nah. Overdue." "When I flush the toilet, it isn't considered violence, is it? So killing Ted Rall should be no different."

Death threats against liberal pundits are commonplace among, and essentially unique to, the right-wing blogs. And the GOP thinks that's OK. Nowhere can one find a responsible mainstream Republican to speak out against this hate speech.

Sexy android/Human and Vulcan hybrids
(Star Trek)

Borg-like, the various right-wing blogs simultaneously discuss the same stories, applying identical rhetoric. They create blacklists and urge their readers and fellow bloggers to threaten and harass their targets. Surfing this cheesy world of flag-draped neo-McCarthyite HTML makes it impossible to deny Columbia Journalism Review writer Steve Lovelady's conclusion that most are "salivating morons" who form an ideological "lynch mob." Worse, many of the right-wing bloggers are flat-out liars.

New message posted above
Iraqi flag at Sacramento home

My jaw dropped when gay GOP blogger Andrew Sullivan accused me in 2003 of "urging the murder of American troops in defense of Islamist terrorists." Of course I'd done no such thing, and he knew it. If I had had the ready cash I would have slapped the lying bastard with a richly-deserved libel suit. Incredibly, Time magazine hired Sullivan to write a column.