Ay -- Susan Sonntag 1933-2004 -- Steve Wasserman
the LA times. SUSAN SONTAG / 1933-2004 Ardent Author, Activist, Critic Dies at 71 Intensely curious and intellectual, she long challenged conventional thinking in her writing. By Steve Wasserman, Times Staff Writer Susan Sontag, one of America's most influential intellectuals,...
Rene -- U.S. designates al-Manar TV as 'terrorist'
"War on Terror"
U.S. designates al-Manar TV as 'terrorist'
By Caroline Drees
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The State Department on Friday
designated al-Manar television -- the mouthpiece of Lebanon's
Hizbollah anti-Israel guerrillas -- as a terrorist organization,
a notice published in the Federal Register said.
The move comes less than a week after France banned broadcasts of
al-Manar's satellite channel following accusations that its programs
were anti-Semitic and could incite hatred.
The United States already considers Hizbollah a "foreign terrorist
Lebanon's ambassador to Washington called the designation an
unacceptable act of censorship. In Beirut, al-Manar's head of news,
Hassan Fadlallah, said the channel knew nothing of the move.
"We have not been informed of any decision," he said.
Al-Manar's designation is different and less far-reaching than
Hizbollah's. The move places al-Manar on the State Department's
"Terrorist Exclusion List," which means foreigners providing support
to or associated with the organization may be prevented from entering
the United States or may be deported.
Hizbollah's long-standing designation has broader legal ramifications,
such as a ban on any material support for the organization by anyone
in the United States, including money and lodging. U.S. financial
institutions must also block funds of designated FTOs and their agents.
Rene -- Falluja Atrocities Expose True Face of U.S. War
Falluja Atrocities Expose True Face of U.S. War
by Joseph Nevins
Friday, December 10, 2004 by
Images of a U.S. marine killing an unarmed wounded prisoner during the
recent battle for Falluja resulted in widespread shock, leading the
Pentagon to withdraw the soldier from battle and launch an
investigation. However, the issue--similar to Abu Ghraib--has served
as a smokescreen, diverting attention from much larger atrocities and
the very nature of war.
No doubt many U.S. soldiers took care in Falluja--as elsewhere in
Iraq--to respect international humanitarian law and avoid injuring
civilians. But as throughout the U.S. invasion and the ongoing
conflict, war crimes and civilian casualties were frequent and often
systematic, rather than rare and exceptional.
In breach of the Geneva Conventions, for example, U.S. troops refused
to allow males of "military-age" (16 to 55)--defining them all as
potential enemy combatants--to flee Falluja. Given the heavy American
bombardment of the city, one wonders how many of these men are among
the estimated 1,200 to 1,600 categorized by U.S. authorities as dead
American military commanders first stated there was no evidence of
civilian casualties in Falluja. Now, the Pentagon has accepted
responsibility and offered compensation for the death of a family of
seven, including a three-month-old baby. Yet it still only admits to
having killed a few.
Press accounts, however, described Fallujas streets as littered with
corpses. One high-level International Committee of the Red Cross
official in Iraq estimated in mid-November that there were "at least
800 civilians" among the dead. More recently, the Iraqi Red Crescent
estimated that more than 6,000 people may have died in the battle.
Nettime -- Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
"War on Terror"
[The allegations here concerning the role of Cheney, Rumsfeld and
Wolfowitz in concocting the 'second Cold War' that emerged under the
Reagan administration give you the sickening feeling that comes from
understanding the success of long- term strategies. As for the composition
and actions of The Committee on the Present Danger (link below), here is
the clearly visible process of elite concertation for the purposes of
population control through military organization of the economy and of
the media system. The effort of exposure, counter-propaganda and
ultimately, counter-epistemology required to dissolve this new fabric of
lies will probably last a decade or more. Fortunately, it is already
well underway. - BH]
Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
by Thom Hartmann
What if there really was no need for much - or even most - of the Cold
War? What if, in fact, the Cold War had been kept alive for two decades
based on phony WMD threats?
What if, similarly, the War On Terror was largely a scam, and the
administration was hyping it to seem larger-than-life? What if our "enemy"
represented a real but relatively small threat posed by rogue a nd
criminal groups well outside the mainstream of Islam? What if that hype
was done largely to enhance the power, electability, and stature of George
W. Bush and Tony Blair?
And what if the world was to discover the most shocking dimensions of
these twin deceits - that the same men promulgated them in the 1970s and
The myth-shattering event took place in England the first three weeks of
October, when the BBC aired a three-hour documentary written and produced
by Adam Curtis, titled "The Power of Nightmares." If the emails and phone
calls many of us in the US received from friends in the UK - and debate in
the pages of publications like The Guardian are any indicator
(www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,12780,1327904,00.html), this was a
seismic event, one that may have even provoked a hasty meeting between
Blair and Bush a few weeks later.
Greg -- One-Day Protest Strike
CALL TO ACTION: ONE-DAY PROTEST STRIKE AND DEMONSTRATIONS ON INAUGURATION DAY, JANUARY 20
The "election" that has sentenced the world to four more years of the most right-wing government in US history is merely the most glaring recent expression of a global crisis of democracy. We simply miss the point if we focus our outrage on the narrow question of whether the election was stolen, lost through incompetence or conceded too early. A process so dominated by money and corporate interests is by definition non-democratic. The fact that the choice in this election was effectively limited to Kerry or Bush, excluding any real alternative from the start, is only one symptom. As a whole, the US electoral system is a screen spectacle, a mirage of democracy that compels a minimum of pseudo-participation simply by its monopoly over what passes for politics and public debate. Capturing popular energy and channeling it into the dead-end of hierarchical parties, it enforces an impoverishment of social imagination and wages a war of attrition on the desire for real change. Never has a power produced in this way been legitimate. G.W. Bush's claims of a "popular mandate" are mere propaganda in the crudest sense.
Nettime -- 'We have to protect people'.
'We have to protect people'.
Gary Taylor meets the politician in charge of making it happen
Thursday December 09 2004
What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The
Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in
it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.
Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting
with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first
invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth
meeting with Mr Bush."
Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected
Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's
base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of
state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote
homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support
"positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle".
That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.
I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed to
something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he see some
flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public library?
No, nothing like that. "It was election day," he explains. Last month,
"14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship
between a man and a woman". Exit polls asked people what they considered
the most important issue, and "moral values in this country" were "the
top of the list".
"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They've
been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not
al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have
an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to
prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering
society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect
Greg -- Dow's history of gross negligence
"Dow Chemical also said that Mr. Finisterra was not a company employee. (see: http://www.theyesmen.org/hijinks/dow/)
Friday evening, BBC World reported that reporters preparing for the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster had gotten contact information for Mr. Finisterra on what appeared to be Dow Chemical's Web site.
The person who identified himself as Mr. Finisterra had told the reporters there would be a significant announcement and offered to travel from Paris to London for an interview. Instead, the BBC set up a two-way interview, with the interviewer in London and the interviewee in a BBC studio in Paris.
"He was incredibly plausible," a BBC executive said on condition of anonymity.
In a separate BBC interview on a lunchtime radio news show after the hoax was uncovered, the same man said he represented an organization called "The Yes Men," whose Web site (www.theyesmen.org) says it engages in "identity correction."
BBC Falls Prey to Hoax on Anniversary of Bhopal Disaster
By ALAN COWELL
Published: December 4, 2004
reat Britain"/>LONDON, Dec. 3 - The BBC, Britain's public service broadcaster, acknowledged Friday that it had been tricked into broadcasting an interview with a man pretending to be a spokesman for Dow Chemical, who claimed that the company had taken the blame for the disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984.
The hoax, contradicting Dow Chemical's rejection of any responsibility, came on the 20th anniversary of the catastrophe, when waves of lethal gas escaped from a chemical plant in Bhopal, in central India, killing more than 3,500 people and injuring thousands more. At the time, the plant was owned by the Union Carbide Corporation, which was taken over by Dow Chemical Company three years ago. Survivors have long complained that they have received inadequate compensation.
Avi -- B'Tselem Report on House Demolitions
Palestine / Israel
Through No Fault of Their Own: Israel's Punitive House Demolitions in the al-Aqsa Intifada
Information Sheet, November 2004
The Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, the IDF has demolished 628 housing units, which were home to 3,983 persons.
These homes were demolished because of the acts of 333 Palestinians. On average, 12 innocent people lost their home for every person suspected of participation in attacks against Israelis.
Almost half of the homes demolished (295 - 47%) were never home to anyone suspected of involvement in attacks against Israelis. As a result of these demolitions, 1,286 persons lost their homes even though according to Israeli officials they should not have been punished.
Contrary to its argument before the High Court of Justice that prior warning is given except in extraordinary cases, B'Tselem's figures indicate that in only 3% of the cases were occupants given prior notification of the IDF's intention to demolish their home.
Extensive destruction of property in occupied territories, without military necessity, constitutes a war crime.
Rene -- Another Take on Ukraine -- Diary of a Dissident Observer
Dec 3 2004
Ukraine: Diary of a Dissident Observer
by Christine Stone
Another year, another revolution - this time in Ukraine. First there
was Albania (1996), then Serbia (2000), followed in 2003 by Georgia's
"rose revolution." As though conceived by the same scriptwriter, they
all fit the same fairy-tale pattern whereby a dictatorial regime
tries to steal an election from the reforming, Western-orientated
opposition. Western election observers cry foul, and the people's
indignation erupts on to the streets, followed by the quick collapse
of the government. New elections are scheduled and won overwhelmingly
by the opposition.
The schema is now so well developed that commentators had predicted
for some time that Ukraine's 2004 presidential election would be
hijacked by a "chestnut revolution," so named to denote its autumn
scheduling. One would have thought that the media might have begun to
smell a rat - after all, who pays for all the paraphernalia that goes
with a "spontaneous revolution": the round-the-clock rock concerts
with their slick sound systems and free food, drink, and clothes?
Five days into the protests in Kiev, the BBC's Ben Brown was actually
asked this question, but answer came there none.
So, what was going on in Ukraine? According to the received wisdom,
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, an old Soviet throwback, won the
presidential election in a run off held on Nov. 21, but only by
massive voter fraud conveniently perpetrated by his supporters in the
industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine. In the west of the country
and in the capital Kiev, the challenger Viktor Yushchenko won
overwhelmingly but was still 3 million votes short of absolute
Rene -- Noam Chomsky: 2004 Elections
Noam Chomsky: 2004 Elections
"What would the results of the election have been if the parties had been willing to articulate people's concerns on the issues they regard as important?"
By Noam Chomsky
The elections of November 2004 have received a great deal of discussion, with exultation in some quarters, despair in others, and general lamentation about a "divided nation." They are likely to have policy consequences, particularly harmful to the public in the domestic arena, and to the world with regard to the "transformation of the military," which has led some prominent strategic analysts to warn of "ultimate doom" and to hope that US militarism and aggressiveness will be countered by a coalition of peace-loving states, led by – China! (John Steinbruner and Nancy Gallagher, Daedalus). We have come to a pretty pass when such words are expressed in the most respectable and sober journals. It is also worth noting how deep is the despair of the authors over the state of American democracy. Whether or not the assessment is merited is for activists to determine.
Though significant in their consequences, the elections tell us very little about the state of the country, or the popular mood. There are, however, other sources from which we can learn a great deal that carries important lessons. Public opinion in the US is intensively monitored, and while caution and care in interpretation are always necessary, these studies are valuable resources. We can also see why the results, though public, are kept under wraps by the doctrinal institutions. That is true of major and highly informative studies of public opinion released right before the election, notably by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the U. of Maryland (PIPA), to which I will return.
One conclusion is that the elections conferred no mandate for anything, in fact, barely took place, in any serious sense of the term "election." That is by no means a novel conclusion. Reagan's victory in 1980 reflected "the decay of organized party structures, and the vast mobilization of God and cash in the successful candidacy of a figure once marginal to the `vital center' of American political life," representing "the continued disintegration of those political coalitions and economic structures that have given party politics some stability and definition during the past generation" (Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers, Hidden Election, 1981). In the same valuable collection of essays, Walter Dean Burnham described the election as further evidence of a "crucial comparative peculiarity of the American political system: the total absence of a socialist or laborite mass party as an organized competitor in the electoral market," accounting for much of the "class-skewed abstention rates" and the minimal significance of issues. Thus of the 28% of the electorate who voted for Reagan, 11% gave as their primary reason "he's a real conservative." In Reagan's "landslide victory" of 1984, with just under 30% of the electorate, the percentage dropped to 4% and a majority of voters hoped that his legislative program would not be enacted.
Rene -- What have intellectuals ever done for the world?
Ed Note: This is not an editorial I am very sympathetic with, but an interesting text nonetheless - rg
What have intellectuals ever done for the world?
Birkbeck College wants academics to join in public political debate. They'd be better off sticking to Derrida
Frances Stonor Suanders
Sunday November 28, 2004
Last week came an announcement from the University of London's Birkbeck College that it intends to establish a centre for public intellectuals. Its international director is to be Professor Slavoj Zizek. In case you haven't heard of this 'world-renowned public intellectual', Zizek has published more than 50 books 'on topics ranging from philosophy and Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, to theology, film, opera and politics'.
He was also a candidate for the presidency of his native Slovenia in the first democratic elections after the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1990. 'Political issues are too serious to be left only to politicians,' says Zizek. 'We need intellectuals - not to make decisions, but to make clear what the issues are about.'
Trust for politicians being at an all-time low, it is tempting to believe him. But what exactly is a public intellectual? Unfortunately, Birkbeck doesn't tell us. There's some woolly stuff about the centre putting itself at the 'forefront of current intellectual debate', about making 'public intervention on issues of current importance'. The centre's inaugural project will be a series of lectures honouring the life and work of Jacques Derrida.
A centre for public intellectuals needs a public to address. By focusing on Derrida, whose work took impenetrability to dizzying heights, Birkbeck is clearly signalling that by 'public' it means elitism on a platform. It's hard to see how this arrangement can bring clarity to 'issues of current importance'.
"DOW" STATEMENT A HOAX
December 3, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"DOW" STATEMENT A HOAX
"Historic aid package for Bhopal victims" a lie
Contact: Marina Ashanin, Corp. Media Relations, +41-1-728-2347
Related information: http://dowethics.com/bhopal/
Today on BBC World Television, a fake Dow spokesperson announced fake
plans to take full responsibility for the very real Bhopal tragedy of
December 3, 1984. (1) Dow Chemical emphatically denies this
announcement. Although seemingly humanistic in nature, the fake plans
were invented by irresponsible hucksters with no regard for the
As Dow has repeatedly noted, Dow cannot and will not take
responsibility for the accident. ("What we cannot and will not do...
is accept responsibility for the Bhopal accident." - CEO Michael
Parker, 2002.) The Dow position has not changed, despite public
Dow also notes the great injustice that these pranksters have caused
by giving Bhopalis false hope for a better future assisted by Dow.
The survivors of Bhopal have already suffered 20 years of false hope,
neglect, and abdication of responsibility by all parties. Is that not