Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Back to the Balkans: Revisiting Revisionism

Jazzman Chronicles - Jack Random - Slobodan Milosevic is dead and the circumstances of his death are (at the very least) questionable. There are a great many Serbs who question not only his death but also his trial and the validity of the tribunal that tried him for four years. There are many who believe he was wrongfully accused and many more who believe his accusations that America and its NATO allies were the bigger perpetrators of war crimes in the Balkans.

On the Death of Slobodan Milosevic

Jack Random

The Jazzman Chronicles
March 15, 2006


“The US/NATO court trying Slobodan Milosevic was always totally illegitimate. It could never be taken seriously as a court of justice. Milosevic’s defense is powerful, convincing, persuasive and impossible to dismiss.”

- Harold Pinter, Playwright & Nobel Laureate

Our world is turned upside down.

When the leading nations of continental Europe rose in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, we thought we had found our champions. We thought we had found the leaders who would stand up for the overwhelming will of the people, whose voice was expressed in the largest demonstration of public outrage the world has ever known on February 15, 2003. We thought we had found the leadership that would steer the world toward a new age of diplomacy and peace.

Now, after three years of brutal occupation, an alternative interpretation of history has emerged. France and the United Nations disgraced themselves with their complicity and active participation in the illegal overthrow of a lawfully elected government in Haiti and the brutal and inhuman actions of peacekeeping forces in Cite Soleil. All of Europe and the United Nations turned a blind eye to the illegal and reprehensible attempt of American covert forces to overthrow Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Faced with car burning riots and civil unrest, France displayed an unconscionable level of intolerance and ineptitude in confronting the problem of second-class citizenship, while Germany was exposed as a beacon of hypocrisy by providing critical strategic intelligence to American forces as they prepared the invasion of Iraq.

Whom can we turn to? Whom can we trust when everything we have been told is ultimately exposed as a lie?

We have been told that the leading monsters of our times are Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. We are instructed that it is beyond question, beyond doubt, and anyone who even asks for the evidence is a wild-eyed radical without hope of redemption in civil society.

Frankly, I no longer believe any of it.

Slobodan Milosevic is dead and the circumstances of his death are (at the very least) questionable. There are a great many Serbs who question not only his death but also his trial and the validity of the tribunal that tried him for four years. There are many who believe he was wrongfully accused and many more who believe his accusations that America and its NATO allies were the bigger perpetrators of war crimes in the Balkans. There are many who accuse former President Bill Clinton of wagging the dog and designating Milosevic as the fall guy in a bitter and horrific civil war.

It is difficult to reach a definitive conclusion on the matter of Slobodan Milosevic and the war in the Balkans because, frankly, we have not heard the evidence. We have heard conflicting accounts of racial cleansing and counter-cleansing, genocide and counter-genocide, the bombing of civilians and suppression in the western media.

We are wary of the defenders of Bill Clinton, who conveniently excuse his inaction in Rwanda, his subversion of weapons inspectors in Iraq, his politically timed bombing campaigns, and his prosecution of the killer sanctions that, by all objective accounts, cost the lives of a million Iraqis – half of them children.

We cannot know the truth until the facts are laid before us.

I find it curious that what was billed as the show trial of the century went dark outside the Balkans when Milosevic began his defense with a scathing indictment of America and its NATO allies.

Slobodan Milosevic was anything but virtue’s champion but in his nationalist fervor was he really any worse than Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright, William Cohen, Richard Holbrooke, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Paul Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney or George W. Bush?

No one but George Bush and the Neocons (by their absolute decimation of American credibility) could turn both the Butcher of the Balkans and the Beast of Baghdad into sympathetic characters but they have managed to do just that.

Imagine a world in which reigning heads of state could be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Imagine an international criminal court with both the moral and legal authority to hold tyrants and hypocrites alike to the bar of accountability. Little wonder America opposes such a body.

Saddam Hussein is wrong: The Iraqi tribunal may be a farce but it is not a comedy for it is preordained to obscure the truth, silence the voice of the accused and summarily execute the one man who can shed revealing light on American involvement in the land of the Tigris and Euphrates. Saddam may have been the Beast of Baghdad but, for many years, he was our beast. He did our bidding and he paid his dues. Like a captain in a crime family, he was cut out of the deal and took the fall.

In this sense, Milosevic and Hussein are very much alike. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, it is history that loses when the voices of the vilified are silenced. When history is tainted, all of human kind is impoverished.

In this world of parallax views, it is entirely possible for villains to oppose villains, for criminals to accuse criminals, for monsters to execute monsters and for two wrongs to contribute to a chain reaction of wrong upon wrong, injustice upon injustice, and hypocrisy upon hypocrisy.

When the world is turned upside down, when war is waged in the name of peace, when democratic leaders are condemned as despots, when military dictators and monarchs are defended as champions of liberty, we should not be shocked if the anointed monsters of the propaganda machine turn out to be something less.



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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Nuking Nevada: A New Era in Terror

Nuking Nevada: A New Era in Terror

The Sunday Times March 12, 2006

For nearly a year British scientists at Aldermaston have been secretly working with the Americans on a replacement for Trident. Do we need it? Is it legal? Michael Smith reports

Two weeks ago a group of Britain’s brightest young physicists gathered at the US nuclear test site in the Nevada desert and headed for Control Point 1. There they waited for a test codenamed Operation Krakatoa to erupt.
A thousand feet beneath the desert scrub, components for a new British nuclear warhead were ready for detonation. Though it was not to be an earthquaking full nuclear blast — since Britain is a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty — the physicists were about to witness only the second “sub-critical” test Britain has conducted in nearly a decade.

The controlled detonation, measuring the effect of conventional explosives on a small piece of plutonium, was ostensibly to help ensure that the UK’s nuclear warheads, deployed on Trident submarines, remain effective. But that was only half the story.

As The Sunday Times reveals today, the data produced by the test were part of a much wider, secret research programme to build a new nuclear weapon that some experts say will breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT).

Over the past few years the government has quietly been pouring hundreds of millions of pounds of extra funding into the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), based near the Berkshire village of Aldermaston, in pursuit of a replacement warhead for the Trident ballistic missile system. Among the purchases have been powerful new supercomputer and laser systems and the recruitment of a new generation of boffins.

“We have been investing in the best young scientists coming out of the nuclear physics departments at British universities,” said one British official. “Watching the AWE scientists standing next to their US counterparts it was noticeable how young they were.” Perhaps it was no surprise that a week later the head of the American nuclear programme was talking about “revitalising” his own team.

While the British remain highly secretive about their plans, sources interviewed in America were more forthcoming and say the architecture or concept for the new weapon has been settled and that the race is now on to produce a working design.

The prize both teams are chasing, they say, is a new weapon known as the “Reliable Replacement Warhead” (RRW), a system that can meet the demands of modern warfare but also the rigours of international law against full-scale nuclear testing.

Britain’s nuclear warheads, they point out, ought to undergo occasional tests, which are now banned. The RRW, in contrast, will be a powerful and flexible “production line” nuke that can be designed, constructed and maintained without full-scale testing. It must also be capable of dispatch on an upgrade of the Trident delivery system.

“The argument made for Reliable Replacement Warhead is that you can have your cake and eat it,” said one US official. “We have our new warheads and we don’t have to test them.”

A senior British defence source admitted: “We’ve got to build something that we can never test and be absolutely confident that when we use it, it will work. We are ahead of the Americans.”

The Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore laboratories have been working on an RRW since May 2005, but the officials in Washington are impressed the way “the Brits have done so much with so little”.

The initiative threatens to be hugely controversial, however. While Tony Blair and his government are committed to retaining Britain’s existing nuclear deterrent, the question of replacing or renewing the system is far more contentious. The need, cost and legality of any new system are all challenged by politicians, lawyers and even some former military commanders. Under the NPT, which came into force in 1970, Britain is committed to prevent proliferation and to “pursue” disarmament.

The issue is heading inexorably towards a clash. Britain’s Trident missiles have highly sophisticated warheads with a number of components that deteriorate with age; they include the plutonium trigger, the beryllium that surrounds it and plastic seals. Guaranteeing their effectiveness without full-scale tests is almost impossible. Last year a former warhead designer from the Los Alamos laboratory revealed there was a serious flaw in the US

W76 warhead, on which British warheads are based, that could prevent it exploding.

It is this worry that first sparked Britain’s secret co-operation with the Americans on the new warhead nearly a year ago — a move that critics characterised yesterday as “underhand” and designed to undermine the “open public debate” on the issue that Blair has long promised.

This week that debate will start in earnest. Tomorrow the Foreign Policy Centre, a Blairite think tank, will publish a report questioning whether Britain needs a nuclear deterrent at all.

“The unfortunate reality for the British people is that, unknown to them, they have a nuclear weapon that is not independent and is committed to support unrealistic US-led policy for the military use of nuclear weapons,” the report will state.

“The UK should cease to try to keep up appearances and adopt a policy based on the reality that it is not an independent nuclear power.”

The temperature will be raised further on Tuesday when the House of Commons defence select committee will begin an inquiry into the future of Britain’s nuclear bomb.

Far from rubber- stamping a Trident replacement for which work is already under way, many backbench MPs are calling for the government to publish a full assessment of national threats, nuclear costs and alternative options.

“The government denies it, but it’s possible (a decision has already been taken),” said Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North and chairman of the parliamentary CND group. “The evidence for it is the huge amount of money being spent on Aldermaston. One can only infer that it is possibly for a new generation of warheads.”

So what exactly is the “reliable” new system that scientists in Britain and America have been working on? Is it really just a Trident upgrade, or an entirely new system? Is it legal? And how does it fit with Britain’s commitment to fighting nuclear proliferation?

THE journey towards Britain’s Trident submarines — the most sophisticated nuclear weaponry in the world — began with a humble frigate, the HMS Plym. Sailing from Britain, the Plym ferried a nuclear device to the Monte Bello islands, off Australia, where Britain exploded is first atomic weapon in October 1952.

That was a fission bomb, generating a runaway chain reaction of splitting atoms. Five years later Britain developed “hydrogen” or “thermonuclear” bombs in which a fission reaction is used to create fusion, generating an even more awesome explosion.

By the late 1950s Britain had its own nuclear deterrent in the form of RAF Vulcan jets armed with Blue Danube bombs, ready to strike against the Soviet empire. Soon the navy had nuclear bombs for delivery from aircraft carriers.

But the deployment of such weapons was beset with problems: many airstrips in overseas locations were too small to take Vulcans, and naval vessels suspected of carrying nuclear weapons were unwelcome in foreign ports.

The development of ballistic missiles, and a 1958 agreement between the USA and Britain to co-operate over nuclear defence, changed everything: in 1962 Britain bought into the US Polaris system, which could be fired from a submarine hidden anywhere in the world.

The secrecy in which Polaris, and its successor, Trident, were developed and acquired is instructive.

Harold Wilson, then Labour prime minister, ordered an upgrade of Polaris without telling his cabinet.

His successor, Jim Callaghan, confined discussion of an entirely new system to a committee of just four trusted ministers known as Misc 7: “miscellaneous cabinet committee seven”.

Callaghan personally gave the Ministry of Defence (MoD) clearance to work on a new nuclear deterrent so that his defence minister could in public truthfully, but misleadingly, say that he had not authorised any such work.

Under Margaret Thatcher, discussions about Trident were so shielded from public scrutiny that one deal was struck at a restaurant on the Champs Elysées in Paris and another was signed on the boot of a diplomat’s car in Washington.

That Trident system, conceived long before the cold war thawed, is immensely powerful.

Each missile is ejected from a vertical launcher on submarines on a wave of super-heated steam that takes it out of the water in a second.

The first stage rocket then ignites, thrusting it to speeds of 2,750mph and 18 miles above the earth’s surface within 30 seconds. A second stage rocket takes it up to

55 miles where a third stage kicks in, propelling it out of the atmosphere to 600 miles above the earth. Onboard computers then adjust the missile’s flight in virtual weightlessness until, two minutes after launch, the warheads, each with a yield of 100 kilotons, are fired at their individual targets. As they fall back through the atmosphere, internal guidance systems fly the warheads onto those targets.

The radiation and shockwave would kill about 98% of people within a mile of the blast. Most buildings within a mile and a half would be destroyed and 50% of people between a mile and a mile and a half away would die. All those exposed to the direct heat of the blast would be killed and many more would die later from the fallout.

The total number of dead from a bomb dropped on the centre of Moscow would exceed 150,000. But by the time the first Trident submarine was commissioned in 1994, and the fourth in 1999, the Soviet empire and cold war were gone.

DESIGNED to last 30 years, Britain’s Trident fleet will start to come out of service from about 2024. Given that it took 14 years from the decision to buy Trident to getting a submarine in the water, the government has publicly been hinting that decisions about a potential replacement must be made soon.

It has been preparing the ground for some time. In the 2003 defence white paper it said that “decisions on whether to replace Trident are not needed in this parliament but are likely to be required in the next one”.

Shortly before the 2005 election, Blair said: “Well, we’ve got to retain our nuclear deterrent, and we’ve had an independent nuclear deterrent for a long time . . . in principle I believe it’s important to retain our own independent deterrent.”

In its election manifesto, Labour stated: “We are committed to retaining the independent nuclear deterrent.”

It makes financial sense, says Lord Garden, former nuclear bomber pilot and now Liberal Democrat spokesman on defence in the House of Lords. Decommissioning nuclear subs and missiles is extremely expensive, while “motoring them round the ocean” is relatively cheap once the capital costs have been paid.

Then two months after the election John Reid, the defence secretary, said in the Commons: “Decisions on any replacement of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent are likely to be necessary in the lifetime of the current parliament.”

Not everyone agrees. Garden believes no decision is needed until at least 2011, in the next parliament. The Americans are planning to keep producing the missiles, he argues, and in an uncertain world it is best to wait and see what threats develop before deciding on a new system.

“Things might get better in terms of proliferation, though there’s not much sign of that at the moment,” he said. “Or they might get hairier and more risky, though that tends to get overstated. Either way, the longer you wait to find out (what future threats are), the better.”

The new Astute submarine planned by the Royal Navy is big enough to house the Trident launch tubes, and the US Navy is extending the life of its own Trident missiles to 2042.

Whatever the precise timings, this approach would have political advantages. “You wouldn’t actually replace Trident, perhaps not even upgrade,” said Garden. “You would just repair it. That would cause much less hassle in the political debate.”

That is the thinking behind the research into the Reliable Replacement Warhead. In comparison with the existing warhead, RRW will do the same job but require much less maintenance, dramatically extending its shelf life.

The inability to test weapons means the scientists must rely entirely on simple components, using the extensive data built up in the 50 years when testing was conducted to construct a failsafe weapon.

“Robustness is the goal,” says Robert Norris, of the US National Resources Defense Council, the most authoritative independent watchdog. “That could mean working through the same stages with more of everything. More plutonium, more tritium gas, not designing it on the margins.

“During the cold war each warhead was tailor-made for a specific mission and highly specialised in its specifications and use of materials. They were like high-performance sports cars. They were Ferraris. Now they say they want good, sturdy, dependable Fords that will not need testing and be sure to work.”

The RRW, as one official explained, is intended to be a warhead that can almost be produced on a production line, built to deliver as small or large a blast as required. That may breed new risks. “The danger is you lower the threshold at which you will use them to the point that someone does,” said one official. “It’s just too tempting and highly dangerous. We were better off in the cold war with mutually assured destruction.”

For politicians, however, it has a clear attraction. Easier and quicker to produce, the RRW could be presented as an update, even a simplification, of Trident rather than a new system. That, proponents could argue, would not breach the non-proliferation treaty.

TO campaigners for nuclear disarmament, the Trident system already contravenes international treaties. CND believes that “Trident is illegal, immoral and a waste of resources.” Kate Hudson, chairwoman of CND, will be one of those giving evidence this week to the defence committee. Matrix Chambers, the law firm for whom Cherie Blair works, has drawn up a legal opinion advising the Peacerights organisation that any replacement of Trident would constitute “a material breach” of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The opinion has been prepared by Christine Chinkin, a professor of international law at the London School of Economics, and Rabinder Singh QC, a barrister who challenged the legality of the Iraq war. (Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, has yet to pronounce on the legality of replacing Trident; but his judgment on the Iraq war was infamously last-minute, so there is time yet.) Others object that persisting with a nuclear deterrent after the the end of the cold war will spur, not curb, the proliferation of weapons.

“The missiles are there as virility symbols,” said Paul Flynn, a Labour backbencher. “Who on earth are we going to take on with them anyway? We certainly need a debate before any decision is made. Replacing them wrecks any standing we have when we preach non-proliferation to countries like Iran.”

In addition to the defence select committee hearings, Corbyn and other backbenchers are pressing for an investigation by the foreign affairs select committee. “We want an inquiry into the compliance or otherwise with the non- proliferation treaty and any replacement,” said Corbyn.

Others, such as Julian Lewis, the Conservative defence spokesman, say that in an uncertain world Britain could not afford to give up its nuclear deterrent. “We are talking about a strategic nuclear deterrent being replaced during the period 2020-2050. Nobody can possibly foretell what threat this country will face that far in advance,” said Lewis.

The subject and the semantics are fertile ground for lawyers and politicians. When does an upgrade become a new system? Is a repair a replacement? Does either count as proliferation? It leaves the way open for much machiavellian manoeuvring.

“The government says quite truthfully that no decision has yet been taken . . . in the sense that ministers haven’t fully addressed the decisions yet,” says Michael Clarke, professor of defence studies at King’s College, London. “On the other hand, these things are never a one-off decision and the MoD is working to keep all options open.”

The MoD, he points out, needs to invest new money and people in Aldermaston simply to avoid technical skills being lost over time. But he also believes that “as an organisation the MoD is hard-wired to replace Trident” to the exclusion of other options.

Just up the hill from the pretty village of Aldermaston the countryside morphs into a barbed-wire encampment. Behind the 10ft fence, there is little sign that this is the site of world-leading research into new nuclear weapons. But the AWE has just ordered one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, a Cray XT3 costing £20m. To be known as Larch, the computer will be so fast that, as the AWE systems manager puts it, “the 6 billion inhabitants of earth would have to make nearly 7,000 calculations per second each to keep up with it”.

That enormous number-crunching will model nuclear explosions, helping to design the next generation of RRW warheads.

The reality, as one US official put it, is that whatever the public political niceties, “Britain is focused on a successor to the Trident warhead”.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Love and The Plague: End Day Serenade

Empire Burlesque - Chris Floyd - It was, by all reports, the most heinous terrorist act in history. A ruthless gang of religious extremists, driven by an insatiable hatred for Western civilization, killed multitudes of innocent people in a surprise attack that struck without warning, without mercy. The perpetrators – who posed as ordinary citizens, members of a law-abiding ethnic minority going about their daily business – took advantage of the burgeoning global economy to move easily across borders as they brought their vast conspiracy to its poisonous fruition. But Western leaders, though they did sleep, finally roused themselves to action.

Sickness Unto Death:
America in Plague-Time
Chris Floyd

Empire Burlesque
March 09, 2006

One by one, terrorist operatives fell into their hands. In the face of such an unprecedented threat, the "gloves came off": captives were subjected to strenuous interrogation as officials worked feverishly to forestall any further attacks. Soon the hard evidence of guilt emerged: the words of the conspirators themselves, set down in black and white, confessing all, in copious detail, irrefutable.

That's how 14th-century Europe "learned" that the Black Death – the rat-borne plague that killed 25 million people across the continent in just four years – had been "caused" by the Jews. Vague rumor and ancient prejudice were "confirmed" by evidence extracted from captured Jews who had been "put to the question" – the medieval spin-word for "torture." The story that emerged was full of concrete detail, like a pre-war New York Times report on Saddam Hussein's WMD: names of the terrorist leaders, the elaborate methods used to poison wells, specific locations, the composition of the various toxins, etc.

Armed with such official reports – earnestly delivered by the Colin Powells of the day, trusted officials oozing gravitas and sincerity – Europe embarked on a frenzy of pogroms. In city after city, country after country, the Jews were rounded up, burned alive, beheaded, beaten to death, slaughtered in every way imaginable, man, woman and child. All of it justified in the name of security – and all of it based on lies, on desperate nightmares wrung from innocent people tormented into madness. The plague pogroms marked a watershed in European anti-Semitism, notes author John Kelly in his sweeping history, The Great Mortality: a new element of outright eliminationism entered into the traditional religious disputes and cultural frictions. The seeds of the Holocaust were sown by the inhumanity of sanctioned torture.

Who knows what seeds of future horror are being sown this very day in the vast, sprawling hive of torture that George W. Bush and his chief minions, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, have spread across the planet? How many lies condemning how many innocent people are even now being extracted by "stress techniques," by "sensory disorientation," by electric shocks and sexual humiliation, by waterboarding and snarling dogs, by the infliction of pain just short of "organ failure or impairment of bodily function," and other refinements devised by the perverters of law in the White House and Pentagon?

Each week brings fresh confirmation of the continuing atrocities – carried out as deliberate state policy, at the direct order of the highest officials – in the Bushist hellholes of Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other sites still hidden from the sun. This week, it was Amnesty International, documenting the plight of 14,000 prisoners held without charges by American occupiers and their native proxies in Iraq: limbo denizens, some incarcerated for years, many of them horribly tortured.

Last week, it was the Bush Administration itself, declaring in open court that the much-ballyhooed "anti-torture" law that Bush signed just last month is a dead letter, the Washington Post reports. The Bushists say that the law's protections cannot be applied to the captives in Guantanamo, because a backdoor provision in the bill stripped those subhumans of their habeas corpus rights: they have no standing before any court to address any aspect of their eternal detention – until they have gone a progress through the guts of Bush's self-devised, extra-constitutional "military tribunals."

And there, they will find that the evidence marshalled against them may have been extracted by torture, Agence France Presse reports. Colonel Peter Brownback, presiding over one of the kangaroo sessions last week, refused to issue a blanket ban on torture-derived testimony, basing his decision on quintessential Bushist reasoning: "What you and I mean by torture might be different." Indeed, that's the crux of the matter; Bush and his minions have simply defined torture out of existence. Anything short of deliberate murder or, in Brownback's own formulation, "a red-hot needle in the eye," is simply a "strenuous interrogation technique." (However, "accidental" murder of those "put to the question" is OK, according to the White House legal briefs that undergird the gulag, the Washington Post reports.)

Thus, when Rumsfeld issued an official memo in 2003 authorizing Abu Ghraib's inquisitors to use "stress positions," humiliation, hunger, sleep deprivation and sensory assaults to break the minds of prisoners, decorating the page with his hand-written exhortations ("Make sure this happens!!"), as prison commandant General Janis Karpinski has testified. he wasn't actually committing a war crime by ordering torture. There is no such thing as torture, you see – if a Bush official orders it. No torture, no crime – just the broken minds, broken bodies and, in dozens of cases documented by Amnesty and others, the battered corpses of Bush's gulag guests.

Torture is the new plague, the real poison, spreading the toxins of untruth and brutality throughout the society that embraces it. The well-documented reality of Bush's ghastly system is now glaringly obvious for all to see. There can be no more excuses. Anyone who ignores this spreading evil is willfully blind; anyone who defends it is morally corrupt.

Chris Floyd

This is a slightly revised version of the column appearing in the March 10 edition of The Moscow Times.

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Milosevic Death: The Third Cause

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - There were, argued the Chief UN war crimes prosecutor, two possible causes: " normal, natural death and suicide." - International Jurist Extraordinaire, Carla Del Ponte

Milosevic Death:
The Third Cause

C.L. Cook

PEJ News
March 12, 2006

The death-in-custody of the former president of Federated Republic of Yugoslavia, (FRY) the entity totally destroyed by America and her Nato allies nearly a century ago, is raising more questions today. Dutch doctors say Slobodan Milosevic died of a heart attack; what prompted that event is yet to be determined.

Milosevic, imprisoned by the International Criminal Court at The Hague since 2001, and facing war-crimes charges, is the second Yugoslav Conflict "war-criminal" convict to die in custody in a week, and it was revealed today, in a statement allegedly written last week, he charged he was being poisoned by his jailers.

Though murder doesn't occur to legal beagle, Carla del Ponte as a possibility in the, frankly, welcome demise of Dr. Milosevic, tongues outside the purview of the ICC are wagging.

The International Action Center, long a critic of Nato's Yugoslav War, and the official narrative regarding the run-up to it, is one of a number of organizations poindting fingers at the ICC's complicity in the death. They reiterate Milosevic's complaints that his medical needs were systematically denied, and his continued confinement was a form of torture. The IAC also claim, the failure of the ICC to bring a cogent case against the deceased after four and a-half years proves the lie of the invasion, and the "propaganda" that preceded it.

What is certain tonight: Even in death, Slobodan Milosevic continues to be a thorn in the side of the International Criminal Court, and reminder of toxic truths about the invasion and destruction of the former Yugoslavia many would rather have left unattended.

A fact confirmed by Ms. del Ponte's myopic diagnosis of the case.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Comments are welcome at: info(AT)

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Gorilla Radio for Monday, March 13, 2006

Gorilla Radio for Monday, March 13, 2006

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - This week on Gorilla Radio, FUNDRIVE! Janine Bandcroft and assorted guests will join GR's efforts to raise money to keep the alternative voices going in Victoria, and beyond.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site: You can check out the GR blog at:

This Week on Gorilla Radio

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 12, 2006

Once a year, the good folks at CFUV Radio put their collective hat on the pavement and ask for support. CFUV is a unique institution in Victoria, and rare in the whole of the country, in that the station provides citizen access to media. The importance of that has never been clearer, as we see increasingly dove-tailed corporate and government information promoting disastrous policies, such as war and consumer destruction of the environment, all for the profit of a narrowing elite, both in Canada and abroad. So, take your opportunity to support alternative media and stick a thumb in the propagandist eye.

And, fun!

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the mainstream media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Murray Dobbin, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Anthony Fenton, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Susan George, Stan Goff, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Jeff Leys, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, Greg Palast, Mike Palecek, Michael Parenti, William Rivers Pitt, Justin Podur, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.

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Katrina Down the Memory Hole

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - March 10, 2006 - Slow are the eddies of justice. That's a law of nature, and nature also dictates: The greater the gravity of the thing, the more slowly will its turns be. Katrina, among the panoply of crimes and outrages, both through commission and omission, laying rotten as a three-week old corpse in the Louisiana heat at the feet of the Bush administration is the Elephant's dead whale in the swimming pool; but even so, the collective stench surrounding the state of the United States of America is so great, malodorous Katrina too has managed to blend into the atmosphere.

Katrina Down the Memory Hole

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 10, 2006

[Massive demonstrations against the planned forced eviction of Katrina survivors scattered to hotels and motels across America are being organized for March 14th, the eve of deadline for survivor's removal from government subsidized shelter. - lex]

Last week, video of an audience with the Commander in Chief BEFORE Katrina's landfall was hoped in some quarters to raise more than eyebrows. The video clearly reveals the president receiving likely, and worst-case scenarios for the Gulf Coast; receiving data later denied.

Why the G.W.B. administration would deny these documented briefings in the days after the disaster isn't curious given that group's abhorrence of truth and personal responsibility, (as witness ingenue, Condi Rice's famous response to 9/11 failures of intelligence: "No-one could have imagined someone would use an airplane as a weapon..." gem), but more worrisome than the Bush administration's wilful ignorance is the fog of war's forgetfulness of the populace that can hear Bush's accusations and excuses today, and not quite remember the facts as they were at the moment.

For that they, and you and I, can be forgiven; there has been a rather lot going on lately.

Happily, I'm no mystic, expert, or genius. Here's one from the files, hours before Katrina made landfall that belies any claim to "honest ignorance" the Bush people hope to hide behind. After all, if a guy of moderate intelligence and application can see which way the wind is blowing ...

[From the files - lex]

New Orleans Sinking? Mammoth Katrina Spurs Evacuations

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The storm Floridians discounted as minor last week has spent the weekend gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina has now ballooned to an unprecedentedly large and powerful Catagory 5, with sustained wind speeds nearing 280 kph, and gusts topping 300kph.

New Orleans Sinking?
C.L. Cook

PEJ News
August 28, 2005

[update: 10:50 pdt- Evacuation orders have been given for more than a million people living in and around New Orleans and a State of Emergency for the entire coastal region of Louisiana has been declared by the federal government. The storm is expected to make landfall near the historic city at approximately 1pm local time tomorrow. ]

If timing estimates are correct, that would see Katrina hitting the low-lying city at the peak of high tide. New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin has warned the storm surge, massive ocean waves driven by the hurricane, could top 8 metres, overwhelming the network of levees and dykes protecting one of America's most vital seaports.

In an ominous announcement, the Mayor warned of what he termed an unprecedented threat to the city saying,

"Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I had better news for you but we are facing a storm that most of us have feared. This is a threat that we've never faced before."

The storm is currently about 350 kilometres offshore, moving landward toward the Mississippi River delta at roughly 20 kph. The National Hurricane Center has issued warnings of destructive winds stretching along the Gulf coast from Florida to Alabama.

The threat of the evacuation of oil and gas rigs in the Gulf is already effecting record high gasoline prices. Energy producers say oil output from their Gulf operations has been reduced by a third.

The storm Floridians dubbed, "Little Andrew" in deference to that disastrous 1992 hurricane, the costliest in U.S. history, has now matched Andrew's Category 5 status and could yet prove a more damaging storm than its namesake.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as contributing editor to You can check out the GR Blog here.

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Navigating Afghanistan's Propaganda Minefields

Navigating Afghanistan's Propaganda Minefields

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - An e:mail press release from no less an august body than the irreproachable Canadian Landmine Foundation found its way recently into my in-box, informing: "Canadians Support Canada's Commitment to Afghanistan." Being a Canadian singularly unsupportive of Canada's support of an immoral and illegal invasion and occupation of a once-sovereign nation, I was anxious to discover what changed "my" mind.

Navigating Afghanistan's
Propaganda Minefields

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 9, 2006

On its face, the Canadian Landmine Foundation is the perfect example of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) doing good in the world. Who could argue with the cause of the saintly Lady Diana (RIP), or its mission statement: "to raise awareness and funds to end the human and economic suffering caused by anti-personnel landmines," after all?

Queer then the CLF would join the Public Relations battle currently being waged for the hearts and minds of Canadians regarding an always unpopular decision by the former Liberal government to send Canadian soldiers, reconstruction, and civil infrastructure specialists on an open-ended mission to Afghanistan - unpopular not because Canadians don't care about the deprivation of those necessities suffered by the people of Afghanistan, but more due to how those deprivations came about - to many of the "Canadians" scooped wholesale into the CLF's news release headline, Canada's military deployment, an incumbent requirement for any humanitarian effort, served to legitimize the ruthless and bloody senseless American aerial annihilation of what little infrastructure remained in war-torn, Taliban Afghanistan on September 10th, 2001.

Queer until you probe the groundcover.

The CLF is an affiliate of the larger Adopt-A-Minefield organization. The AMA is, as cited on the CLF website: "an initiative of the Canadian Landmine Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) and the Better World Fund (BWF)." Those affiliated with the CLF's affiliate are not largely the group of peaceniks one might expect. They include: spookworld notables from perennial conspiracy theorist favourite, the Council on Foreign Relations; State Department officials; ex-diplomats; Reaganites; and oily businessmen of all stripe.

A look at the UNA-USA's board reveals principles: President Ambassador William H. Luers, "active" CFR member, who cut his diplomatic teeth in communist Czechoslovakia, (shortly before it becoming the tipping point that brought down the USSR in Eastern Europe), and Venezuela. Luers served in South America during the opening days of Reagan and George H. W. Bush's reign of terror there, 1978-82. When not busy ridding the world of landmines, William spends his time championing other humanitarian efforts, such as those led by the Harriman Institute and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

And, on his right-hand: John C. Whitehead, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, (so highly held in fact was "the Gipper's" regard for the work Mr. Whitehead carried out for on-again-off-again G-Man/Bechtel Corporation CEO, Secretary of State George Shultz during those sticky Iran-Contra years, Reagan awarded Whitehead the Presidential Citizens Medal), and former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Whitehead is a current confrere to blue-blood trusts, institutes, and foundations too numerous to mention. He's also serving as appointed chair of the Board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. That's the outfit overseeing the reconstruction of the World Trade Center lands.

It seems a little less strange that an humanitarian organization would be trying to deliver the soul of Canada wholesale over to a, as Canadian Broadcasting Corporation icon and 'The National' anchor, Peter Mansbridge refers it, "more robust mission," in Afghanistan, when looking at some of the personalities at the Canadian Landmine Foundation itself. It reads like a Who's Who of the Canadian Public Relations industry and the companies it represents; companies that spend more of their time flogging "Genetically Modified" Frankencrops, munitions, drugs, and eager to cover any number of malefactions their commited pursuit of pure profit engender. Luckily, the equally eager PR sweepers are there, ready to brush the latest outrage under the media rug.

Among the crop at CLF are: Gaetan Lussier, President of Gaetan Lussier and Associates. You can catch Gaetan at the upcoming 'Smarter Regulation of Foods in Canada' conference in Ottawa later this month. He's scheduled to present, "The Impact of Regulation on the Business of Food in Canada" lecture. I'll bet that impact is BAD!

The conference is sponsored by notable humanitarians, Nestle, Unilever, and General Mills, amongst others.

Joining Gaetan at the CLF: The mysterious Dr. Irene Sage, Director of the shadowy, U.K.-based, 'Foundation for International Security.' Her name appears on lists, and as a funding friend of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, itself another gaggle of Council on Foreign Relations; State Department diplomats; Reaganites; and, oily businessmen of all stripe types.

With Irene and Gaetan: Remi Bujold, Senior Counsel for GPC International, an adjunct of Canadian Public Relations firm, Fleishman-Hillard Canada, subsidiary of Omnicon Group Inc. Fleishman-Hillard sums up their company values and culture in the pithy (and copyright phrase): "To make ourselves as valuable to our clients as they are to us."

They list some of their areas of special service as: government affairs and advocacy consulting; issues management; government communications, and of course; crisis communications. As the "robustness" of Canada's mission in Afghanistan increases, there will no doubt be a great need of some of that "crisis communications" stuff. It could be just the job for an upright sounding organization, staffed with a raft of operators operating from a spider's web of cross-referenced do-gooder organizations.

The recent redeployment of Canadians, sent to fill the boots on the ground of departing Americans, has already meant death for both Canadians and Afghans. Just tonight, (M9, 2006), the CBC announces a massive military mobilization of Canadian soldiers in an operation to scour the countryside around Kandahar for Taliban "insurgents." They're reported to begin the operation in the village where a Canadian soldier was recently wounded in an axe-attack.

Yes, it seemed passing queer an organization so concerned with "human and economic suffering," as the CLF proposes to be, would stand behind a massive military campaign currently ramping up in benighted Afghanistan; queer until considering the pedigree of the Canadian Landmine Foundation's stable of corporate promoters.

And who supports the Canadian Landmines Foundation and its President and CEO Scott Fairweather, another PR operative, when he says "Canadians support Canada's commitment to Afghanistan?"

Polls reveal a large and growing discomfort with the already four plus-year Canadian commitment in Afghanistan. But, Scott does hit the nail on the head when he says: "Landmines are a significant threat to Canadians serving in Afghanistan..."

And what better way to alleviate that threat than to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans?

The Canadian Landmines Foundation news release is reproduced in full below.

Chris Cook
is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

From: "Canadian Landmine Foundation" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 2:24 PM
Subject: Canadians support Canada's commitment to Afghanistan

Press Release: For immediate release
Canadians support Canada's commitment to Afghanistan

Toronto (March 7, 2006) - For the past four years Canada has been committed to assisting Afghanistan on the path to stability, democracy and self-sufficiency. They have been working diligently to support the establishment of a stable environment in which the people of Afghanistan can rebuild their country and their lives.

Through the Canadian Landmine Foundation, Canadians are directly supporting this effort by getting involved in the rebuilding of the country. For the past four years, events have been held, raising money to clear landmines in Afghanistan where our personnel are serving. In 2005, Canadians raised enough money to clear an estimated 120,000 square metres of land just outside of Kabul.

2006 is off to a good start. On March 1, an event in Waterloo, Ontario raised $40,000 which will be put toward a clearance project in Afghanistan.

"Landmines are a significant threat to Canadians serving in Afghanistan, it is great that Canadians are working to alleviate this threat to our dedicated men and women and the communities in which they work" said Scott Fairweather, President and CEO of The Canadian Landmine Foundation, from his office in Toronto.

Afghanistan is one of the world's most mine-affected countries. The first landmines were laid in Afghanistan more than 25 years ago. Since then tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or disabled by mines or unexploded bombs. An Landmine Impact Survey (LIS), completed in November 2004, identified 2,368 mine- and ERW-impacted communities in 259 of the 329 districts of Afghanistan. The scope of the problem is immense.

Landmines contaminate the soil serving as booby traps against Canadian Forces as they patrol the streets and the country side bringing stability to the country - and for civilians on their way to the water well, or children on the way to school. These indiscriminate weapons threaten the daily life for hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan. They also threaten the ability of economic life of the community, leaving large areas of land unusable and damaging farm animals at work.

Removal of landmines is a significant step in the reconstruction and revitalization process of Afghanistan. It protects our Canadian personnel and innocent Afghan civilians that want to rebuild their lives.

The Canadian Landmine Foundation is working hard to bring safety and security to the Afghan community. Please join us in this very important effort.


For more information and interviews contact:
Paul Faucette, Manager
Canadian Landmine Foundation/Adopt-A-Minefield
416.365.9461 ext. 25

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