Wednesday, November 12, 2008

War Over? No.

The Fake Ads Of The Fake New York Times
By Hamilton Nolan, 1:04 PM on Wed Nov 12 2008, 5,540 views
The actual stories in The Yes Men's fake issue of the New York Times today are a little too earnestly liberal to be funny, though they're still... nifty? (And look, we know earnest liberals are the easiest group to make fun of, even easier than religious psychos, but let's give them some props for pulling the whole thing off okay? Hope, etc.) But the fake ads they put throughout the issue are a little sharper. Dr. Z makes a cameo! After the jump, five of the best ad spoofs, that have corporate America tumbling down as we speak:

[The group that produced the paper put out a statement announcing their work this morning. It doesn't say that the Yes Men are responsible, but they are. And to the one guy who's already put a copy of the spoof issue on eBay for $199, good luck, you nut. People are going to be a little smarter after going through this.]

Blackwater Waiting Justice Still

Blackwater May Face Criminal Charges, Hefty Fines Over Arms Shipments

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Sunday, November 09, 2008

Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide may be slapped with millions of dollars in fines by the State Department for shipping weapons to law enforcement facilities in Iraq and Jordan without authorization, according to a report published in the magazine Government Executive.

“Officials in the Commerce Department, which has jurisdiction over some military exports, are conducting a related regulatory review of Blackwater shipments,” the magazine reported, citing unnamed sources. “And federal officials in North Carolina have convened a grand jury to consider criminal charges related to the arms shipments.”

In a separate development involving the controversial security contractor, a Washington, D.C. Grand jury will soon decide whether to indict several Blackwater security guards over a shooting in Baghdad last year that claimed the lives of 17 civilians, unnamed sources told Government Executive.

The unauthorized arms shipments are said to total about 900 weapons sent to police training facilities in Iraq and Jordan.

Blackwater “didn't do the original paperwork, therefore they don't know where the guns are," one source familiar with the matter told Government Executive, adding that each weapon shipped overseas might result in a separate violation and result in hefty fines.

In a statement released by Blackwater Oct. 9, General Counsel Andrew Howell confirmed the company is under scrutiny.

"Ongoing reviews by the departments of Justice, State and Commerce have highlighted the need for a significant and systems-wide initiative," Howell said. On the same day Blackwater announced the formation of a new export compliance committee to oversee it’s international dealings. The committee was formed immediately after Blackwater received a letter from the State Department’s Defense Trade Control Directorate alerting the security firm to potential violations, Government Executive quoted sources familiar with the matter.

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., a former U.S. Attorney is a member of the committee.

In July, Blackwater said it would slowly exit the security business. The same month, the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a report that said Blackwater misrepresented the size of its firm so it could receive more than $100 million in small business contracts from the federal government.

The report said the mercenary outfit obtained a total of 39 contracts intended for small businesses with annual revenues of $6.5 million between 2005 and 2007. But the report said Blackwater’s revenue surpassed $200 million for those years.

Blackwater “obtained a total of 33 contracts during Fiscal Years 2005 through 2007, totaling $2,188,620, which may have involved misrepresentations to obtain the contract.”

The report also found that “it is possible that misrepresentations took place" on the remaining six contracts, totaling $107,311,356.”

Of the 39 contracts reviewed, 38 were awarded by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded one. The Inspector General’s report says the small business contracts "could have involved potential misrepresentations by Blackwater.

Moreover, the Department of Defense wrongfully awarded Blackwater aviation contracts worth $107 million. That contract was earmarked for companies with annual revenues of less than $25 million or less than 1,500 employees, the report said.

The Small Business Administration was singled out and criticized for not thoroughly investigating Blackwater’s finances prior to awarding contracts to the company.

The report was prepared at the request of Congressman Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who sent a letter in March to Steven Preseton, the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

“As part of the Oversight Committee's investigation into the business practices of Blackwater Worldwide, the Committee has obtained evidence indicating that Blackwater may have applied for and received federal contracts by improperly claiming that it was eligible for small business preferences,” Waxman’s March 10 letter said. “It appears Blackwater sought these small business contracts by improperly designating its security guards as "independent contractors" rather than "employees."

The Inspector General’s 27-page report released Monday said Blackwater appeared to have improperly classified its guards stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan as independent contracts as opposed to full-fledged employees in order to obtain government contracts.

According to a memo issued by Waxman to Oversight Committee members Monday, “The key issue... was whether personnel hired by Blackwater to provide security services for the Department of State (DOS) and other agencies were Blackwater employees . . . or independent contractors."

“In claiming it was a small business, Blackwater argued that 1,000 security personnel it provided under the State Department’s $1.2 billion Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) contract were independent contractors,” Waxman’s memo says. “The [Small Business Administration Inspector General] reports that Blackwater claimed that it "had little or no knowledge of the activities of the security personnel performing the contract and exercised little or no supervision over these personnel once they were deployed.”

The report “concludes that these assertions were incorrect,” Waxman’s memo says.

The Inspector General’s report says “Our review of the WPPS Statement of Work indicates that it contained a number of provisions that appeared to be inconsistent with SBA's conclusion that Blackwater did not have knowledge about the actions of the personnel once they were deployed.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Separation Of Corporation And State

"Fisherma'am" Proposes 28th Amendment: Separation Of Corporation And State
from Chelsea Green
Huffington Post
November 10, 2008

Every so often an idea comes along that rings with such clarity and purpose that it ignites the imaginations of millions of people. That spark of excitement becomes hope, hope becomes action, action becomes community, and that community grows to become a movement. Marine biologist, author, fisherma'am, and Exxon Valdez survivor, Dr. Riki Ott has such an idea.

Exxon's recently reported record profits marks a new height of American corporate corruption and influence over our federal government--corporations find more protection under the law than American citizens, health and safety regulations are stripped away to serve profits ahead of people, politicians serve only their corporate backers, and our environment is falling victim to the lustful greed of this disaster capitalism. How did it come to this?

Dr. Riki Ott is launching the movement for the 28th Amendment to the Constitution: Separation of Corporation and State. In the video above, she explains what a 28th Amendment will accomplish, how it is possible, why it is necessary for our democracy.

In Riki's own words:

In my book, Not One Drop, I answer the question I frequently heard on the streets in Cordova. (It's a small town where people often visit in groups on Main Street or at the post office.) How did corporations get so big where they could manipulate our legal system?

As survivors of the Exxon Valdez spill and 20-year lawsuit, practically everyone in town has first-hand experience with a legal system that failed to deliver justice and Exxon's promise to make us whole.

In researching our nation's legal history, I found the answer. In this 4-minute video, I explain the solution--passing the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution: separation of corporation and state.

Please listen. Then ask others to listen. In Not One Drop, I explain this idea more fully. Together we can build a movement to restore government of, for, and by the people.

There's even a Facebook group dedicated to the movement.


I am a survivor and witness of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It happened in my backyard, Prince William Sound, Alaska.

We have been in a lawsuit now for nearly two decades, and Exxon has managed to drag this out while it has managed to increase its profits to, basically, obscene levels: over $40 billion in net profits now. How did things get this bad?

The conclusion that I came to in Not One Drop is that we need the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: the separation of corporation and state.

Starting in 1886, judges started recognizing corporations had rights accorded to people. The first one was the 14th Amendment. And nowhere in the Constitution, nowhere in the Bill of Rights, do we find the word "corporation." This is totally judicial fiat. What this has done is allow a consolidation of wealth and power to the corporations that now threatens to destroy the republic. We want separated church and state—we now need to separate corporation and state.

On March 24, 1989—which is when [the] Exxon [Valdez] grounded and spilled 11–38 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound, I was commercial fishing. I held a commercial fishing permit, and I fished salmon. I also held a Masters and a PhD in marine toxicology. Exxon came to Cordova, Alaska, stood in our high school gym, and promised us, "We will make you whole." Instead, Exxon worked behind the scenes to eliminate thousands of business claims. Exxon threw an army of attorneys at this case. And it's not just the Exxons of the world, it's any of these big transnational corporations have the ability, because of their wealth and power, to completely overwhelm small communities that get in their way.

If we had had the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, Exxon would not have been able to use the 5th Amendment and the 7th Amendment.

The 7th Amendment is that facts tried by a jury cannot be undermined or revisited by higher courts. So in this case, a jury of peers, ordinary people, determined that the price that Exxon had to pay was one year's net profit. Exxon challenged the amount, and also that punitive damages should be held at all.

Exxon also used, in a related lawsuit, the 5th Amendment. The 5th Amendment is a takings—takings of property. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there was a federal law passed (the Oil Pollution Act of 1990) that essentially banned the Exxon Valdez from Prince William Sound. It banned any tanker that has spilled over a million gallons from transporting oil in Prince William Sound. Exxon said, that is a takings of our future profit: that's illegal under the 5th Amendment. If Exxon was not a person, Exxon would not have been able to apply the 5th Amendment.

Five years after the Exxon Valdez ran aground, we had our hearing, and the jury awarded us—the fishermen, the natives—$5 billion in punitive damages and $287 million in compensatory damages. Exxon appealed that $5 billion for over fourteen years, and ultimately, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finally threw its hands in the air and cut the 5 billion in half. The Supreme Court, in June of 2008, slashed the $2.5 billion to $507 million.

If we're planning on passing a livable planet onto future generations, the democracy debate needs to be entwined with the sustainable future debate, and I believe now that the best way to do that is to pass the 28th Amendment to the Constitution—separation of corporation and state—and strip corporations of their personhood.

Huffington Post, 10-Nov-2008

Veterans Arraigned on Disorderly Conduct Charges

Iraq Veterans Arraigned on Disorderly Conduct Charges: Vow to Defend Right to Free Speech and Assembly

Cheryl Biren-Wright

On Monday, the day before Veterans day, 14 members of the ‘Hempstead 15' were arraigned on charges of disorderly conduct. The charges stem from a protest outside of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University on October 15.

Nick Morgan wounded outside presidential debate (photo by Bill Perry)

The protest was organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who wanted the issue of poor veterans’ healthcare and support of war resisters to be addressed by the candidates. What began as an orderly and peaceful gathering escalated into an aggressive use of force by the Nassau County Police Department leaving one Iraq war veteran, Nick Morgan, with a fractured eye orbit and cheekbone.

Video coverage of the protest shows Morgan standing solemnly, hands clasped behind his back while mounted police backed their horses onto the sidewalk and into the crowd. Despite serious injuries and semiconscious state, the police proceeded to handcuff Morgan dragging him across the street to an awaiting bus.

Yesterday Nick, along with 13 others, faced disorderly conduct charges in Nassau County Court. Ten of the 15 charged are members of IVAW. Iraq war veteran, Adam Kokesh, is scheduled to appear in court today, Veterans day.

A throng of supporters gathered outside the Nassau County Court House early yesterday and filled the court room.

Nick Morgan following reconstructive surgery (photo by Bill Perry)

IVAW member and defendant, Mathis Chiroux spoke to reporters before the arraignment, "We the Hempstead 15 are out here today to be arraigned for disorderly conduct. We are moving to dismiss. We were assembling October 15 to force the issue that service members and veterans are not being heard or cared for by the leaders of our country. We were responded to by the candidates by being ignored. In fact, we were brutalized and arrested by the Nassau County Police Department before also being charged."

Each of the defendants pled not-guilty to the charges. In what they and their lawyer, Jonathan Moore, describe as a "divide and conquer" tactic, the judge ordered separate court dates be held thus preventing them from being co-defendants.

After the arraignment, Moore declared "What happened in court today was basically nothing except an attempt by the district attorney to separate people into smaller groups so that there wouldn’t be the same appearance of a large crowd at the next court date. I don’t know why cities and states and counties are so afraid of people engaging in lawful political protest. To the extent that there was a hazardous condition created, it was created by the police not by the individuals who were simply engaging in protected first amendment speech. Some people were seriously injured by the use of these horses in a reckless and dangerous way."

Nick Morgan thanking the crowd for their support added "You know I hope a lot of you especially from around this area are as appalled as I am about the actions of the Nassau County Police Department and the gross violations of the constitution that all of us veterans swore to protect and uphold against all enemies foreign and domestic."

Mathis Chiroux vowed to fight until their names are cleared and justice is served. "Today, make no mistake about it. Nassau County has added insult to injury. But, I am grateful and thankful and I am overwhelmingly happy to report that every single member of the Hempstead 15 pled not guilty today. And, we are going to fight this thing out. This is unacceptable," he said.

Mathis Chiroux speaks to reporters (photo by Bill Perry)

Chiroux continued "We cannot be brutalized and silenced and told that we don’t have the right to oppose those who would take away our rights and literally trampling everything that it is to be American. Condemn, condemn the Nassau County Police Department for their trampling of Nick and others and as well their sneaky backdoor maneuvering to try and have us all tried on separate days to keep you from coming out and having your voices heard in our support. We are going to continue forcing this issue and we are not going to stop until the names of every single one of the Hempstead 15 are cleared and Nick Morgan sees justice."

Co-Defendants Jose Vasquez & Kris Goldsmith (photo by Bill Perry)

According to, police spokesman, Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone, claimed that officers showed restraint in handling the protest, but they are reviewing the incident.

IVAW is raising funds to assist in Nick Morgan’s medical expenses. Readers can donate at For video of yesterday's events visit Adam Kokesh Revolutionary Patriot. Vietnam veteran and Veterans for Peace member, Bill Perry, contributed to this report.

Writer/Photographer. Special interests in media reform, restoring/protecting the constitution, support for returning veterans, ending the Iraq occupation and improving relations with Iran. In the meantime, I'll settle for a vanilla latte and a keyboard while exposing those who promote and encourage ideologies like the Bush Doctrine that subvert our constitution, inflict more damage on our nation's standing in the world, promote terrorism and are morally and ethically corrupt. Writer and managing editor for Contact info: cheryl[at]