Friday, March 31, 2006

Privatizing the Apocalypse, by Frida Berrigan

Started as the super-secret "Project Y" in 1943, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has long been the keystone institution of the American nuclear-weapons producing complex. It was the birthplace of Fat Man and Little Boy, the two nuclear bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Last year, the University of California, which has managed the lab for the Department of Energy since its inception, decided to put Los Alamos on the auction block. In December 2005, construction giant Bechtel won a $553 million yearly management contract to run the sprawling complex, which employs more than 13,000 people and has an estimated $2.2 billion annual budget.

"Privatization" has been in the news ever since George W. Bush became president. His administration has radically reduced the size of government, turning over to private companies critical governmental functions involving prisons, schools, water, welfare, Medicare, and utilities as well as war-fighting, and is always pushing for more of the same. Outside of Washington, the pitfalls of privatization are on permanent display in Iraq, where companies like Halliburton have reaped billions in contracts. Performing jobs once carried out by members of the military -- from base building and mail delivery to food service -- they have bilked the government while undermining the safety of American forces by providing substandard services and products. Halliburton has been joined by a cottage industry of military-support companies responsible for everything from transportation to interrogation. On the war front, private companies are ubiquitous, increasingly indispensable, and largely unregulated -- a lethal combination.

Now, the long arm of privatization is reaching deep into an almost unimaginable place at the heart of the national security apparatus --- the laboratory where scientists learned to harness the power of the atom more than 60 years ago and created weapons of apocalyptic proportions.

Profane Problem or Prolific Profit?

Nuclear weapons are many things to many people -- the sword of Damocles or the guarantor of American global supremacy, the royal path to the apocalypse or atoms for peace. But in each notion, they are treated as idols -- jealously-guarded, shrouded in code, surrounded by sacred secrecy. That is changing.

Private companies have long played a role in the nuclear complex, but it's been a peripheral one. For example, Kaiser-Hill, a remediation company, is cleaning up radioactive waste at Rocky Flats, the Denver, Colorado complex that manufactured nuclear weapons. At Idaho Falls, another company, CH2M, is mopping up the mess left behind after the construction of 52 nuclear reactors. BWX and Honeywell formed a new company along with Bechtel to manage and operate the Pantex Plant in Texas which assembled nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War. At least ten different subcontractors are involved in managing the Hanford nuclear complex. But the famed nuclear laboratories, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia -- where the high priests of nuclear physics are free to explore the outer realms of their craft -- have long been above prosaic bottom-line or board-room considerations. Until this year, that is.

At Los Alamos, the University of California has already been replaced by a "limited liability corporation," says Tyler Przybylek of the Department of Energy's Evaluation Board; and, more generally, the writing is on the containment wall. Nuclear laboratories are no longer to be intellectual institutions devoted to science but part of a corporate-business model where research, design, and ultimately the weapons themselves will become products to be marketed. The new dress code will be suits and ties, not lab coats and safety glasses. Under Bechtel, new management will lead to a "tightly structured organization" that will "drive efficiency," predicts John Browne, who directed the lab at Los Alamos from 1997-2003. "If there is a product the government wants," he concludes, "they will necessarily be focused on that. A lot more money will be at stake."

Los Alamos was the first to go. Now, the management contract for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is on the auction block as well.

Bechtel's Boondoggles

Many say strong corporate oversight will correct a legacy of embarrassing missteps at Los Alamos. The keystone of the nuclear complex, it has been dogged by missing classified computer disks, cost overruns on its expensive new projects, and an outspoken cadre of scientists who found their voice on LANL: The Real Story, a blog where once deferential employees blew off steam and exposed lapses in lab management.

The idea is that, under private management, this legacy of money wasted and dreams deferred can do an abrupt u-turn. But the question is: Can Bechtel (or any other private military contractor) usher in a new era of nuclear responsibility? Pete Domenici, Republican Senator and Chairman of the powerful Energy and Water Committee, thinks so. In January, he claimed that "this great lab will thrive under the management team led by Bechtel."

But a look at Bechtel's record might not inspire others to Domenici's confidence. The California-based construction giant has a long history of big projects, big promises, bigger budgets and even bigger failures.

In Boston, Bechtel was put in charge of the "Big Dig," the reconstruction of Interstate 93 beneath the city. In 1985, the price tag for the project was estimated at about $2.5 billion. Now, it is a whopping $14.6 billion (or $1.8 billion a mile), making it the most expensive stretch of highway in the world. Near San Diego, citizens are still paying the bills for cost over-runs at a nuclear power plant where Bechtel installed one of the reactors backwards.

In 2003, Bechtel took this winning track record to Baghdad, where it blew billions in a string of unfinished projects and unfathomable errors. The company reaped tens of millions of dollars in contracts to repair Iraq's schools, for example, but an independent report found that many of the schools Bechtel claimed to have completely refitted, "haven't been touched," and a number of schools remained "in shambles." One "repaired" school was found by inspectors be overflowing with "unflushed sewage."

Bechtel also has a $1.03 billion contract to oversee important aspects of Iraq's infrastructure reconstruction, including water and sewage. Despite many promises, startling numbers of Iraqi families continue to lack access to clean water, according to information gathered by independent journalist Dahr Jamail. The company made providing potable water to southern Iraq one of its top priorities, promising delivery within the first 60 days of the program. One year later, rising epidemics of water-borne illnesses like cholera, kidney stones and diarrhea pointed to the failure of Bechtel's mission.

Outside of its ill-fated reconstruction contracts in Iraq, Bechtel is not known as a large military contractor, but the company has been quietly moving into the nuclear arena. It helped build a missile-defense site in the South Pacific, runs the Nevada Test Site where the United States once performed hundreds of above-and underground nuclear tests. Bechtel is also the "environmental manager" at the Oak Ridge National Lab, which stores highly-enriched uranium, and is carrying out design work at the Yucca Mountain repository where the plan to store 77,000 tons of nuclear waste has environmentalists and community activists up in arms.

At Washington State's Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, Bechtel is working on technology to turn nuclear waste into glass. But the estimated costs of building the facility to do that have doubled in one year to about $10 billion while the completion date slipped from 2011 to 2017. Members of Congress have proposed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission take over management of the project from Bechtel because of its cost overruns and delays.

Proliferation's New Meaning

Given this track record, it's hard to make the case that Bechtel assumes the helm at Los Alamos out of an altruistic, even patriotic, desire to impose clean, lean corporate management on a complacent institution long overfed at the public trough. The question remains: Why this urge to privatize the apocalypse?

To answer that question, you have to begin with the post-Cold War quest of the nuclear laboratories for a new identity and raison d'être. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the loss of the other superpower as a nuclear twin and target, and an international shift in favor of nuclear disarmament sent Los Alamos and the whole U.S. nuclear complex into existential crisis: Who are we? What is our role? What do we do now that nuclear weapons have no obvious role in a world of, at best, medium-sized military enemies? Throughout the Clinton years, these questions multiplied while the nuclear arsenal remained relatively stable. More recently, with a lot of fancy footwork, a few friends in Congress, and the ear of a White House eager to be known for something other than the Long War on global terrorism, the labs finally came up with a winning solution that has Bechtel and other military contractors seeing dollar signs.

They found their salvation in a few lines of the Nuclear Posture Review, released in January 2002, where the Bush administration asserted: "The need is clear for a revitalized nuclear weapons complex that will be able, if directed, to design, develop, manufacture, and certify new warheads in response to new national requirements; and maintain readiness to resume underground testing if required."

There's gold in that there sentence. During the Cold War, spending on nuclear weapons averaged $4.2 billion a year (in current dollars). Almost two decades after the "nuclear animosity" between the two great superpowers ended, the United States is spending one-and-a-half times the Cold War average on nuclear weapons. In 2001, the weapons-activities budget of the Department of Energy, which oversees the nuclear weapons complex through its "semi-autonomous" National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), totaled $5.19 billion; and a "revitalized nuclear weapons complex," ready to "design, develop, manufacture, and certify new warheads," means a more than billion-dollar jump in spending to $6.4 billion by fiscal year 2006.

And that's just the beginning. The NNSA's five-year "National Security Plan" calls for annual increases to reach $7.76 billion by 2009. David Hobson, Republican congressional representative from Ohio, calls this kind of budgeting "the ultimate white-collar welfare," saying that the weapons complex can be "viewed as a jobs program for PhDs."

He's right. That's a lot of money for a few labs and a few thousand scientists. And private military contractors large and small are all over it.

Entering Acronym Land

To justify this huge jump in spending, the nuclear laboratories have cooked up plans for an alphabet soup of projects as part of the SSMP, scientists are pushing -- to mention just a few of the acronyms on the table right now -- ASCC, MESA, the RRWP, the ICFHY campaign and the RNEP.

In the interest of not putting everyone to sleep, we can take a closer look at just a few of the Bush administration's proliferating nuclear projects. Under the umbrella of Stockpile Stewardship Management (SSMP), scientists are working to safeguard the stockpile of nuclear weapons and materials so it is not ravaged by time and neglect. The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program (RRWP) will exchange existing warheads for more "reliable" (read: more powerful) ones. There are plans underway to develop the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) and other "useable" new nuclear weapons supposedly to meet new threats by new enemies -- "rogue states" like Iran -- in future preemptive anti-proliferation wars. Under each of these programs are many other acronym-heavy, cash-rich programs that seem to lead nowhere -- except toward further nuclear proliferation.

The Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign is just one of the more outlandish and expensive of these projects. It proposes using lasers to replicate what happens inside an actual nuclear explosion in weapons labs. Sounds simple enough, right? The Nuclear Ignition Facility -- where the lasers will do their work -- is the single largest project in the NNSA budget and, according to analyst Christopher Paine, "quite possibly the most expensive experimental facility ever built." The Department of Energy projects $3.5 billion in costs for this alone, but the independent environmental group, the National Resources Defense Council, puts the figure higher yet -- at $5.32 billion -- and that money will be spent before anyone can even demonstrate that the system works.

The Age of Nuclear Terror?

Do nuclear weapons have a role in the "Age of Terror" -- other than as potential weapons for terrorist groups? In a new and ever-shifting environment of emerging regional powers and wars that transcend national boundaries, the Bush administration is taking a have-it-both-ways approach: It is pushing aggressive non-proliferation policies for chosen enemy nations and embracing a policy of accelerated nuclear proliferation for itself. How much harder will it be in the future to dissuade other powers from building nuclear weapons when the American nuclear industry and its weapons labs have switched even more fully into private mode and the profit-motive is increasingly at stake in global nuclear planning? These and many other questions unfortunately remain unasked. Yet, a new era of nuclear weapons for profit threatens to turn Armageddon into a paying operation.

During the height of the Cold War, when competition between the nuclear laboratories seemed to rival the superpower stand-off, a Lawrence Livermore scientist posted a sign that read: "Remember, the Soviets are the Competition, Los Alamos is the Enemy."

In a new era of potential corporate antagonism over apocalyptic weaponry, will there be a sign at the Bechtel-run nuclear lab emblazoned with: "Remember, the Terrorists are the Competition, Lockheed Martin is the Enemy"?


Frida Berrigan ( is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, most recently Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Advocating the overthrow of government is a crime overthrowing it is something else altogether. it is sometimes called revolution but don’t kid yourself: government is not where it’s at : it’s only a good place to start: 1. kill head of Dow Chemical 2. destroy plant 3. MAKE IT UNPROFITABLE FOR THEM to build again i.e., destroy the concept of money as we know it, get rid of interest, savings, inheritance (Pound’s money, as dated coupons that come in the mail to everyone, and are void in 30 days is still a good idea) or, let’s start with no money at all and invent it if we need it or, mimeograph it and everyone print as much as they want and see what happens declare a moratorium on debt the Continental Congress did ‘on all debts public and private’ & no one ‘owns’ the land it can be held for use, no man holding more than he can work, himself and family working let no one work for another except for love, and what you make above your needs be given to the tribe a Common-Wealth None of us knows the answers, think about these things. The day will come when we have to know the answers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

~Don't Box Me In~

* You walk, I'll run, and follow right behind you You call, I'll come, and I won't remember where I come from Over there, at the end of the bar This fish keeps swimming in a jar I feel a tug on the line Which end will I be on this time? Don't box me in One day I'll show them just what I'm made of There'll be a time when I won't remember what I was afraid of And I'll be swimming in the sea, no banging on this glass for me My eyes turned red when my life turned blue So I'm leaving everything, that's true And I'll jump into a brand new skin and then you won't be able to box me in Don't box me in Let go There's a few places 'round that I've never been There's an ocean out there that I gotta swim There's a river out there that flows past my door I wonder...I wonder...What? And if sometimes I can't seem to talk You'll know this blackboard lacks a piece of chalk Don't box me in, I told you not to Don't box me in Let go * Don't Box Me In, Stan Ridgeway, Stewart Copeland - Rumble Fish Soundtrack

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Attempt to Ignite the Unpolitical Side of my Brain Again

* The Neophyte, Alistair Crowley * To-night I tread the unsubstantial way That looms before me, as the thundering night Falls on the ocean: I must stop, and pray One little prayer, and then - what bitter fight Flames at the end beyond the darkling goal? These are my passions that my feet must read; This is my sword, the fervour of my soul; This is my Will, the crown upon my head. For see! the darkness beckons: I have gone, Before this terrible hour, towards the gloom, Braved the wild dragon, called the tiger on With whirling cries of pride, sought out the tomb Where lurking vampires battened, and my steel Has wrought its splendour through the gates of death My courage did not falter: now I feel My heart beat wave-wise, and my throat catch breath As if I choked; some horror creeps between The spirit of my will and its desire, Some just reluctance to the Great Unseen That coils its nameless terrors, and its dire Fear round my heart; a devil cold as ice Breathes somewhere, for I feel his shudder take My veins: some deadlier asp or cockatrice Slimes in my senses: I am half awake, Half automatic, as I move along Wrapped in a cloud of blackness deep as hell, Hearing afar some half-forgotten song As of disruption; yet strange glories dwell Above my head, as if a sword of light, Rayed of the very Dawn, would strike within The limitations of this deadly night That folds me for the sign of death and sin - O Light! descend! My feet move vaguely on In this amazing darkness, in the gloom That I can touch with trembling sense. There shone Once, in my misty memory, in the womb Of some unformulated thought, the flame And smoke of mighty pillars; yet my mind Is clouded with the horror of this same Path of the wise men: for my soul is blind Yet: and the foemen I have never feared I could not see (if such should cross the way), And therefore I am strange: my soul is seared With desolation of the blinding day I have come out from: yes, that fearful light Was not the Sun: my life has been the death, This death may be the life: my spirit sight Knows that at last, at least. My doubtful breath Is breathing in a nobler air; I know, I know it in my soul, despite of this, The clinging darkness of the Long Ago, Cruel as death, and closer than a kiss, This horror of great darkness. I am come Into this darkness to attain the light: To gain my voice I make myself as dumb: That I may see I close my outer sight: So, I am here. My brows are bent in prayer: I kneel already in the Gates of Dawn; And I am come, albeit unaware, To the deep sanctuary: my hope is drawn From wells profounder than the very sea. Yea, I am come, where least I guessed it so, Into the very Presence of the Three That Are beyond all Gods. And now I know What spiritual Light is drawing me Up to its stooping splendour. In my soul I feel the Spring, the all-devouring Dawn, Rush with my Rising. There, beyond the goal, The Veil is rent! Yes: let the veil be drawn.

Monday, March 27, 2006

UVM librarian fights USA Patriot Act

In fall 2001, before the ink had dried on the nation's new anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, University of Vermont librarian Trina Magi was analyzing how the federal measure would affect the civil liberties of library patrons. The news, Magi concluded, was not good. In libraries, the law gave federal authorities access to business records of any type. It meant law enforcement officers -- through the authorization of a secret court or a National Security Letter signed by an FBI agent -- could demand access to anything from books and reference materials to computer servers if they believed it could aid an ongoing terrorist investigation. "When the news came out that civil liberties were not well-protected, it was not a surprise," said Magi, who was recognized this month by fellow librarians for her opposition to the law. "It was a disappointment and a cause for great concern, but I can't say I was shocked." Since then, the UVM librarian has traveled across the country, publicly fighting the law that opponents say infringes on free speech and abuses Americans' rights to privacy. This month's reauthorization of the Patriot Act, Magi said, does little to appease critics, despite revisions in the law that were meant to improve safeguards on civil liberties. Magi's stance is backed by local librarians and the American Library Association, which has battled for reforms in the act since it was passed four years ago in the wake of Sept. 11. But one supporter of the Patriot Act argues that its provisions give law enforcement the necessary tools to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. "I know of no documented instance of abuse of any provision of the Patriot Act," said Vermont Law School Professor Michael Mello. "We always recalibrate the balance between liberty and security in war time." Among the revisions in the renewed Patriot Act is a section addressing the "privacy protection for library patrons." In it, authorities may no longer gain access to library information without a court order as long as the library does not provide "electronic communication services." Magi contends this section affords libraries little protection, since most rely heavily on computer-driven operations, from record-keeping services to Internet access. The new law also allows librarians to challenge "gag orders" that accompany all federal requests for information. People challenging the nondisclosure orders must wait a year to begin proceedings, and the government may continue to argue that disclosure of the information is a threat to national security, Magi said. "They sound like improvements," she said of the revisions, "but when you look at them in detail, there's not a lot there." Mello said he agrees with Magi's assessment of the revisions, calling the changes "largely cosmetic" and procedural. But the law professor says the Patriot Act, while it has the potential to raise civil liberties issues, is a sound law. The act, he said, essentially dissolved a "wall" that had previously existed between the CIA and the FBI, preventing the intelligence agencies from sharing information. Mello added that the law gives federal authorities investigative tools and technologies that have been used in the past in other criminal investigations, such as mob infiltration. "The greatest threat to our civil liberties is al-Qaida," Mello said. "If there's another catastrophic attack, we're not going to be talking about section 215 or whether there ought to be gag orders, we're going to be talking about whether there's going to be martial law." Robert Resnik, director of Burlington's Fletcher Free Library, said the revisions to the Patriot Act are a move in the right direction but more changes are needed. "I think it's a step, but the fact of the matter is that the American Library Association is never going to back down on it," Resnik said. "When we're up against legislation that allows government to check every record we have, we need to stand fast. Many librarians would argue that there's no middle ground when it comes to the sanctity of borrowing records." A former public relations specialist, Magi has applied her media savvy in opposing the law. She has done radio shows and spoken at town meetings with Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who introduced his own bill against the federal measure. She also has conducted media interviews across the country. Magi's peers and others have taken notice. The university librarian's public campaign against the law helped lead to the Vermont Library Association's taking a vocal stance against the Patriot Act. The state association became the first in the nation to go on record opposing the legislation. In 2003, Magi received the Vermont Library Association's Sarah C. Hagar Award and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. She was also named Librarian of the Year in 2004 by the New England chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Magi most recently was lauded by the trade publication Library Journal in its March 15 issue. Despite his support of the Patriot Act, Mello applauds Magi's fight to preserve civil rights. "I'm a school teacher by trade and my subject is the Constitution, so whenever someone who is not a lawyer or a judge brings attention to rights of civil liberties, I applaud them even though I disagree with some of the merits of their arguments," Mello said.

Buddha in Glory, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Center of all centers, core of cores, almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet-- all this universe, to the furthest stars all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit. Now you feel how nothing clings to you; your vast shell reaches into endless space, and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow. Illuminated in your infinite peace, a billion stars go spinning through the night, blazing high above your head. But in you is the presence that will be, when all the stars are dead.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Children of Abraham: Death in the Desert

Written by Chris Floyd *This piece has been edited since the original posting to incorporate new information.* What happened in the village of Isahaqi, north of Baghdad, on the Ides of March? The murk of war - the natural blur of unbuckled event, and its artificial augmentation by professional massagers - shrouds the details of the actual operation. But here is what we know. We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a house in the village on March 15. We know that the Pentagon said the American troops were "targeting an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror network," when their team came under fire, and that the troops "returned fire, utilizing both air and ground assets." W e know that the Pentagon said that "only" one man, two women and one child were killed in the raid, which destroyed a house in the village. We know from photographic evidence that the corpses of two men, four shrouded figures (women, according to the villagers), and five children - all of them apparently under the age of five, one as young as seven months - were pulled from the rubble of the house and laid out for burial beneath the bright, blank desert sky. We know that an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw the ruined house, and a photographer for Agence France Presse took the pictures of the bodies. We know that two Iraqi police officials, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein - both employed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government - told Reuters that the 11 occupants of the house, including the five children, had been bound and shot in the head before the house was blown up. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police told Reuters that an American helicopter landed on the roof in the early hours of the morning, then the house was blown up, and then the victims were discovered. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said that an autopsy performed on the bodies found that "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said they found "spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble." We know that a Knight-Ridder reporter later saw a preliminary police report indicating that the 11 victims had multiple wounds. This was presented in American papers as a possible contradiction of the original Iraqi police statements, which Knight-Ridder said spoke of victims suffering "a single gunshot to the head." However, in all of the original reports, the Iraqi police were quoted as saying the victim were shot in the head; they did not say whether there were other wounds as well. We know that Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house's owner, told AP that nine of the victims were family members and two were visitors, adding, "the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death." We know from the photographs that one child, the youngest, the baby, has a gaping wound in his forehead. We can see that one other child, a girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, is lying on her side and has blood oozing from the back of her head. The faces of the other children are turned upwards toward the sun; if they were shot, they were shot in the back of the head and their wounds are not evident. But we can see that their bodies, though covered with dust from the rubble, are otherwise whole; they were evidently not crushed in the collapse of the house. They died in some other fashion. We know from the photographs that two of the children - two girls, still in their pajamas - are lying with their dead eyes open. We can see that the light and tenderness that animate the eyes of every young child have vanished; nothing remains but the brute stare of nothingness into nothingness. We can see that the other three children have their eyes closed; two are limp, but the baby has one stiffened arm raised to his cheek, as if trying to ward off the blow that gashed and pulped his face so terribly. These facts are what we know from American officials, American-backed Iraqi officials and reporters for Western press associations on the scene. This is probably all we will ever know for certain about what happened in Isahaqi on March 15. The rest will remain obscured by the murk instigated by U.S. military spokesmen, who are evidently not telling the truth about the body count of the raid, and by the natural confusion that must attend the villagers' description of an attack that struck without warning in the middle of the night. But beyond this cloud of unknowing, there are a few other facts relevant to the case that can be clearly established. For instance, we know that the American troops who caused the deaths of these children - either by tying them up and shooting them, an unspeakable atrocity, or else "merely" by storming or bombing a house full of civilians in a night raid "with both air and ground assets" - were sent to Iraq on a demonstrably false mission to "disarm" weapons that did not exist and take revenge for 9/11 on a nation that had nothing to do with the attack. And we now know that the White House - and George W. Bush specifically - knew all along that the intelligence did not and could not support the public case he had made for the war. We know that the only reason that this dead baby has his arm frozen to his lifeless face is that three years ago this week, George W. Bush gave the order to begin the unprovoked, unjust and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. He hasn't fired a single shot or launched a single missile; he hasn't tortured or killed any prisoners; he hasn't kidnapped or beheaded civilians or planted bombs along roadsides, in mosques or marketplaces. Yet every single atrocity of the war - on both sides - and every single death caused by the war, and every act of religious repression perpetrated by the extremist sects empowered by the war, is the direct result of the decision made by George W. Bush three years ago. Nothing he says can change this fact; nothing he does, or causes to be done, for good or ill, can wash the blood of these children - and the tens of thousands of other innocent civilians killed in the war - from his hands. And anyone who knows these facts, who sees these facts, and fails to cry out against them - if only in your own heart - will be forever tainted by this same blood.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jesus on the Brain Day

"Whether you think Jesus was God or not, you must admit he was a first-rate political economist." - George Bernard Shaw, Irish comic dramatist (1856-1950) * "I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history." - H.G. Wells, British author (1866-1946) * "I cannot say that Jesus was uniquely divine. He was as much God as Krishna, or Rama, or Mohammed, or Zoroaster."- Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political leader (1869-1948) * "A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act." - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political leader (1869-1948) * "There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that he believed in hell... It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take him as his chroniclers represent him, would certainly have to be considered partly responsible for that." - Bertrand Russell, British philosopher (1872-1970) * "Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God must be a rebel as well as a king." - G.K. Chesterton, English critic and author (1874-1936) * "From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my great brother." - Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher (1878-1965) * "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." - Albert Einstein, physicist and atheist (1879-1955) * "Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him." - Sholem Asch, Jewish author (1880-1957) * "In Jesus, God wills to be true God not only in the height but also in the depth – in the depth of human creatureliness, sinfulness and mortality." - Karl Barth, Swiss theologian (1886-1968) * "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. - C.S. Lewis, British author (1898-1963) * "In his own lifetime Jesus made no impact on history. This is something that I cannot but regard as a special dispensation on God's part, and, I like to think, yet another example of the ironical humour which informs so many of his purposes. To me, it seems highly appropriate that the most important figure in all history should thus escape the notice of memoirists, diarists, commentators, all the tribe of chroniclers who even then existed." - Malcolm Muggeridge, British journalist (1903-90) * "Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment." - Mother Teresa (1910-97) * "He might be described as an underprivileged, working-class victim of political and religious persecution." - Prince Phillip (born 1921) * "I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event. If the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on that Easter Sunday were a public event which had been made known...not only to the 530 Jewish witnesses but to the entire population, all Jews would have become followers of Jesus." - Pinchas Lapide, Orthodox Jewish scholar, Germany (born 1922) * "An unsurpassed master of the art of laying bare the inmost core of spiritual truth." - Geza Vermes, author (born 1924) * "If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses." - Lenny Bruce, American satirist (1925-66) * "It is as wholly wrong to blame Marx for what was done in his name, as it is to blame Jesus for what was done in his." - Tony Benn, British politician (born 1925) * "After the fall of so many gods in this century, this person, broken at the hands of his opponents and constantly betrayed through the ages by his adherents, is obviously still for innumerable people the most moving figure in the long history of mankind." - Hans Küng, German theologian (born 1928) * "Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth and goodness." - Martin Luther King Jr., American civil rights leader (1929-68) * "Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind." - Mikhail Gorbachev (born 1931) * "If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he wouldn't be able to stop throwing up." - Woody Allen, American comedian (born 1935) * "We're more popular than Jesus now." - John Lennon, Beatle (1940-80) * "2,000 years ago one man got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if everyone was nice to each other for a change." - Douglas Adams, British comic author and radical atheist (1952-2001)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Rants of an unwitting radical feminist

… a mixture of loves … brush of five o’clock shadow across creamy smooth cheek drawing in musky, unknown perfume of another known so well, so intriguingly on one plane sensory stimulation limited to thoughtful exchange distanced beyond instant corruption deepened respect, depth of personhood make this brush a soul-joining attraction not merely the magnetism of love-at-first-sight or usual romantic love but a pulling, straining of every bodily fiber chest nearly torn open by hearts’ desire to be near another hands trace the shape of shoulders, contours of back as full, natural perfume-filled breaths are drawn into desirous chests pulling back, whisps of hair brush chin, neck as dark lashed eyes meet eyes that have met so many times before under cordoned circumstances in selfless effort to share more of oneself rather than take smells, thought and touch move to taste moist lips meet unconsciously tongue, tender tangling hearing the thoughts, touching the soul of love acceptance, awakening by a generous gift life-giving, stimulating without expectation of repetition respect, freedom, connection a mixing of loves for a time

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Librarian Is Still John Doe, Despite Patriot Act Revision

The hotel ballroom was packed as a sensibly dressed, well-read crowd from around the country gathered in San Antonio on Jan. 21 to celebrate one of their own. Yet, as many expected, the guest of honor was a no-show, despite the $500 intellectual freedom prize that awaited. Attendees at an American Library Association gathering blamed Washington for the empty chair. Lawmakers may be giving themselves credit for having improved safeguards on civil liberties when they reauthorized the nation's antiterrorism law, otherwise known as the USA Patriot Act, earlier this month. But many librarians and civil liberties lawyers say the revisions did nothing to enable the guest of honor to take the stage and discuss the Patriot Act without risk of prosecution. Known as John Doe in court filings, the guest of honor was the Connecticut librarian who was visited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year and presented with what is known as a national security letter demanding patron records. The subpoena, issued as part of a counterterrorism investigation, not only barred him from disclosing the target of the inquiry, but also forbade him and others at his place of work to ever discuss the letter or even to acknowledge its receipt. Though some 30,000 national security letters are issued a year without arousing public protest, the librarian was reluctant to comply because of professional ethics aimed at keeping library records confidential. On the advice of the American Civil Liberties Union, his employer went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the subpoena, the provisions of the Patriot Act that broadened the use of national security letters after Sept. 11, 2001, and the order permanently forbidding discussion of the F.B.I.'s demand. As the Bush administration pushed for the act to be reauthorized, a handful of Democratic and Republican lawmakers argued that it went too far in encroaching on civil liberties. In the end, they persuaded the White House to accept a compromise that placed library records beyond the reach of a national security letter if they were gathered by libraries operating in what many people understand to be their traditional roles. The final bill also gave recipients of national security letters the explicit right to consult lawyers. While those concessions have allowed lawmakers to say that new safeguards on civil liberties have been put in place, another powerful provision in the Patriot Act, known as Section 215, remains on the books. It gives law enforcement another confidential way to demand information but has seldom been used because it requires judicial approval. National security letters, in contrast, require merely the signature of an F.B.I. official. Between Section 215 and the new language governing national security letters, some opponents of the new version of the Patriot Act are skeptical that the revisions will provide much protection against unwanted invasions of privacy or infringements on free speech. "The revised law provides almost no protection whatsoever for libraries," said Ann Beeson, the civil liberties union lawyer representing the organization that brought the suit in Connecticut. "It's virtually meaningless." The section of the new law that addresses "privacy protection for library patrons" states that library records are beyond the reach of national security letters so long as the library is not operating as an "electronic communication service." Elsewhere, that term is defined as "any service which provides to users thereof the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications." But much of what a modern library does courses through its computers. Patrons can research topics on the Web. They can even reserve books from home. "A national security letter can be used to get any library record that is maintained via an electronic communication service," Ms. Beeson said. "That definitely includes Internet access and e-mail records and can also include patron borrowing records." The new law does establish the recipient's right to challenge the nondisclosure orders that typically accompany national security letters and Section 215 requests. But the recipient would have to wait a year before raising the question anew if the government continued to assert the need for secrecy. ... {Rest of story at link}

Top writers back libraries campaign

A new campaign to transform the image of public libraries has been launched. Authors including Nick Hornby, Philip Pullman and Margaret Drabble are giving it their support. The Love Libraries campaign wants to give libraries an image makeover and turn them into a "21st century reading service". Research shows that while book borrowing among children is on the increase, adults have lost interest. One in five adults has never visited their local library. And 15% of adults think libraries are simply places for "pensioners or people trying to keep warm". Culture Secretary David Lammy launched the campaign at Swiss Cottage Library in north-west London. Love Libraries has been created by the Future Libraries Partnership, an alliance of public and private sector agencies including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Society of Chief Librarians, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, The Reading Agency and nine British publishing houses. Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said: "Public libraries are transforming themselves to meet people's needs in a new reading world. They are carving out an exciting new role that embraces, but goes beyond, traditional book lending. Reading groups, self service borrowing, author events, reader-to-reader recommendations, e-books, listening posts - it's all happening. "However, libraries haven't always been good at telling the world they're changing and public perceptions are out of step with the major changes that are occurring in the library service. Although children's borrowing is on the up, we are in danger of permanently alienating the mainstream UK adult audience." In addition, a number of leading authors have lent their name to the campaign and become Love Libraries Champions. Besides Hornby, Pullman and Drabble, they include Ahdaf Souief, Tracy Chevalier, Jenny Eclair, Roy Hattersley, Tony Parson and Michael Morpurgo.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wyoming Senators promoting federal debt, By Jeff Morris - Evanston

Fish!♥ * Senator Thomas, Senator Enzi, I’ve often addressed you in my letters to this fine Wyoming newspaper. I’ve never received a reply. Do you and your staff not read Wyoming newspapers, or do you simply not find your constituents worthy of a reply? You, both of you, just voted for the fourth increase in the federal debt limit since President Bush first took office. Those increases presently total over $3 trillion dollars. What sort of debt limits are these if you keep increasing them? The only real answer? They aren’t limits at all. Since taking total control of the Executive and Legislative branches of our federal government, Republicans have done nothing but grow our federal government at an unprecedented rate. Business in Washington, D.C. has grown to the point where we’re seeing commercials on TV with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce bragging that business there has grown 60 percent. Government is the only business in Washington, D.C. and you, sirs, have allowed it to get out of hand. Since Bush first took office, you Republicans have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than all previous presidents and congresses combined. Combined! Part of that historic debt is to the Communist Chinese, who I might add, run several of our ports on the West coast. It is often said that we are borrowing from our children’s future. That’s true. We do that, evidently, by voting for you. You? You’re borrowing popularity and prestige from future federal legislators, who will have to raise taxes and withhold services if these monumental debts are allowed to run their projected course. Foreign debt is wholly ruinous for this country. You know that, yet you continually vote with the herd to increase it. And don’t give me the standard answer that we can grow our way out of this problem. We can’t. Economists quit saying that two years ago. We can grow ourselves out of debt, but not this debt. Again, you know all this. You just don’t like talking about it. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing me as a Democrat who is writing all this for political reasons. I’ve switched parties twice in the last 10 years and now I’ve settled on neither. I’m now an independent who thinks both parties do nothing but protect their phony baloney jobs by selling our future down the road. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Both parties have now turned terrorism into nothing but vote-bait. You keep shoveling borrowed money into Iraq, with no end in sight. Iran? How about we pay for our wars as we fight them? Senator Thomas, Senator Enzi, we’re on to you. Last time we heard from you, Senator Thomas, you used this newspaper to tell us, despite appearances to the contrary, how great things are really going in Iraq. How about explaining on this very page, your justification for increasing the debt limit? How about you admit you’ll do it again next year if you’re re-elected? * Comments about this article: I am profoundly disturbed at a U.S. war "Machine" that converts bodies into profits while leaving us irredeemably in debt. It is often said that we are borrowing from our children’s future. What is less known is to what extant that applies. The federal government’s fiscal exposures now total more than $46 trillion, up from about $20 trillion in 2000. This staggering revelation was included in the US Dept. of Treasury's own report. (the 2005 Financial Report of the United States Government (1mb PDF) (Page 28 in the printed version, or pg 32 in Adobe reader) That's an additional $26 TRILLION in debt since Dubya took office! "Senator Thomas, Senator Enzi, we’re on to you." Indeed we are.... Thank you Mr Morris for your bravery and elequence. -Rev. James Sofra

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

1,500 Venezuelans Pose Nude in Public

More than 1,500 Venezuelans shed their clothes on a main city avenue Sunday to pose for American photographer Spencer Tunick, forming a human mosaic in front of a national symbol: a statue of independence hero Simon Bolivar. ... "I put the lightest clothes I had on this morning because I knew I wouldn't have them on for long," a smiling Velasquez said. "There were good vibrations, a good positive energy among all the people involved. I felt liberated." ...

"It was difficult to work because the people were so exuberant, so it took a little bit longer, but I got what I wanted," he [Spencer Tunick] said after the session.

"The body represents beauty, love and peace. There was a lot of beauty and energy in the people today."

Monday, March 20, 2006


* Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap, lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination.Alan Watts * In the spring twilight, by Sappho In the spring twilight the full moon is shining: Girls take their places as though around an altar * William Shakespeare Who are the violets now That strew the green lap of the new-come spring?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Quote by Hunter S. Thompson

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world--a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us . . . No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush?

They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us--they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis.

And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


They threw off their clothes, and he gathered her to him, and found her, found the pure lambent reality of her for ever invisible flesh. Quenched, inhuman, his fingers upon her unrevealed nudity were the fingers of silence upon silence, the body of mysterious night upon the body of mysterious night, the night masculine and feminine, never to be seen with the eye, or known with the mind, only known as a palpable revelation of living otherness. -D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence (1885-1930), British author. (Originally published by M. Secker (1921) - Women in Love, ch. 23, Penguin Books (1987) - "They" are Rupert Birkin and Ursula Brangwen)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Enslaved, by Claude McKay

* Oh when I think of my long-suffering race, For weary centuries despised, oppressed, Enslaved and lynched, denied a human place In the great life line of the Christian West; And in the Black Land disinherited, Robbed in the ancient country of its birth, My heart grows sick with hate, becomes as lead, For this my race that has no home on earth. Then from the dark depths of my soul I cry To the avenging angel to consume The white man's world of wonders utterly: Let it be swallowed up in earth's vast womb, Or upward roll as sacrificial smoke To liberate my people from its yoke! * Youngsters Black-Power Poem Riles School

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Crazed Girl , by William Butler Yeats

That crazed girl improvising her music. Her poetry, dancing upon the shore, Her soul in division from itself Climbing, falling She knew not where, Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship, Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing Heroically lost, heroically found. No matter what disaster occurred She stood in desperate music wound, Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph Where the bales and the baskets lay No common intelligible sound But sang, 'O sea-starved, hungry sea.'

Uncle Chutzpah and His Willing Executioners

Uncle Chutzpah and His Willing Executioners on the Dire Iran Threat: With Twelve Principles of War Propaganda in Ongoing Service by Edward S. Herman Back at the time of a major Bush-1 "drug war" in 1989, Hodding Carter pointed out that with increasing attention to the newly declared "crisis" by the administration and media, the public's estimate of the importance of the drug problem rose spectacularly. "Today's big news is the drug war. The president says so, so television says so, newspapers and magazines say so, and the public says so." Today's big news is the possibility that Iran, the Little Satan, might some day acquire a nuclear weapon: the administration says so, the media say so, and now three times as many people regard Iran as the U.S.'s greatest menace than four months ago and 47 percent of the public agrees that Iran should be bombed if needed to prevent its acquiring any nuclear weapon capability. The system works this mobilization process like a well-oiled propaganda machine--which it is--and it can apparently sell almost anything in the way of justifying external violence to a large fraction of the populace, at least in the short run. The attack on Iraq was a remarkable achievement in this respect, given that it was built on a series of lies about Iraq weapons, links, and threats that were extremely dubious at best, a number clearly false and even quite silly (the mushroom cloud and threat to U.S. national security); and given that the actions taken were in blatant violation of the UN Charter. To put this over required tacit collusion between the administration and mainstream media, with the latter serving as de facto propaganda arms of the war-makers. We may recall that the justification for NATO's bombing of the Serb TV broadcasting facilities in 1999 (killing 16 people) was that it was a propaganda arm of the Serb military. On that logic, accepted by respectable opinion and Carla Del Ponte on behalf of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, in a just world, where Bush and company would surely be brought to trial for manifold war crimes in the Iraq aggression-occupation, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Bill Keller, Thomas Friedman, Donald Graham, Leonard Downie, Jr., Richard Cohen, George Will, Rupert Murdoch, Bill O'Reilly, and numerous others would be in the dock alongside them. The further remarkable thing is that, despite their semi-apologies for betraying the public interest and their readers in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq--at least at the New York Times and Washington Post--the media are going through the same routines of propaganda service in the buildup to a possible attack on Iran. They quite generally avoid mentioning the similarity of the arguments made earlier, or that the administration lied egregiously earlier, or their own earlier hyper-gullibility. A tabula rasa is required if the system calls for serial propaganda service that entails the serial conveying of disinformation and suppression of inconvenient evidence. The "Drumbeat sounds familiar" to Simon Tisdall in the London Guardian (March 7, 2006), but not to the servants of power in the U.S. media. Twelve Principles of Propaganda Used in Setting the Stage for War: the Iran Case The first principle in manufacturing propaganda for the U.S. war party is to take it as a given that the United States has the legal and moral right to take the lead in making a case that the international community must act-here to stop Iran's nuclear program. Consider that the United States is in the midst of an occupation in Iraq in which it is daily committing war crimes, all of which follow on a major act of aggression that violated the UN Charter. A lesser power doing this would be declared an international outlaw, and would not be considered a proper leader to guide the international community in the pursuit of villainy. In fact, containing the outlaw would be deemed of primary importance. Furthermore, the United States showed its contempt for the rule of law and for any UN legal procedures in the runup to the Iraq war, when it fabricated a crisis-Iraqi violation of international rules and an Iraqi threat to U.S. national security-and on that basis simply ran roughshod over UN processes and international law. Beyond these outrages, the United States has unclean hands as regards the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran is allegedly violating: as a signatory to the NPT, the United States pledged "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." It has not met this pledge, nor the promise not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against signers who agreed to forego developing nuclear weapons. It is even "upgrading" and "modernizing" its nuclear weapons to make them more "practical." In theory, Iran or any other party could complain to the IAEA that the United States is in clear breach of the NPT, but somehow this doesn't happen; only possible breaches that the United States sees fit to pursue can be attended to in the New World Order. Furthermore, the United States has given crucial support to Israel, engaged in a massive ethnic cleansing operation in violation of international law, with both superpower and client simply brushing aside a stream of UN rulings and an International Court condemnation of Israel's apartheid wall. The United States has either aided or given tacit approval to breaches of the NPT by Israel, Pakistan and India. In short, its moral right to challenge Iran is non-existent-it can do so only by virtue of power, bribery and threats, and because the patriotic mainstream media take its moral right as an undiscussible given. The second principle, paralleling the U.S. right to do as it pleases, is the absence of the target's right even to defend itself. The United States and Israel may possess nuclear weapons, the latter refusing to subject itself to the NPT and the former violating it and threatening Iran with "regime change," but any Iran move to right the balance by acquiring such weapons for itself is a terrible thing that threatens "international peace and security," as stated in House Concurrent Resolution 341. The United States and Israel have been bringing "peace and security" to the Middle East! It should be noted that in the EU negotiations on Iran's nuclear activities, the United States has refused to give any security guarantee to Iran as part of the package, making its un-peaceful intentions toward Iran clear, but this still does not give Iran the right to acquire weapons that might reduce that open threat. For the media this is all irrelevant, as its leadership says that Iran is a menace and nothing else matters. A third principle is inflating the menace that would follow from Iran's possession of nuclear weapons. This of course parallels closely the earlier inflation of the Iraq threat, where the Bush administration propagandists were not laughed off the stage for talking about mushroom clouds off New York and other dire threats. Then and now the media have not pointed out that Saddam Hussein had only used chemical weapons in the 1980's against Iran (and Iraqi Kurds) at a time when he was serving U.S. interests--and therefore with tacit U.S. approval--but that he didn't use them at all in the Persian Gulf War when the United States was the opponent and could retaliate in kind and with greater force. By the same token, as the United States and Israel have enormous retaliatory capability, the Iranians could never use nuclear weapons as an offensive tool without committing national suicide. But nuclear weapons would serve as a default weapon if Iran were attacked; that is, it would contribute to self-defense. This line of argument is carefully avoided in the mainstream propaganda flow. Of course, demons shouldn't have the right of self-defense, and the fourth principle applied in the media's beating the drums of war is unrelenting demonization of the target. This was easy to do with Saddam Hussein, but it can be worked for almost anyone, as there are few political leaders who don't have some unsavory elements in their record or who haven't made indiscreet or wild statements that can be latched onto, taken out of context, and used to suggest irresponsibility and menace. Iran's mullahs have run a fairly repressive state, although its repression has eased up and democratic voices have not been silenced. The newly elected president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, of course, made an indefensible statement on the Holocaust (a "myth") and a wild statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map." In his recent classic of war propaganda ("Judicious Double Standards," Washington Post, March 7, 2006), Richard Cohen even says that the Iranian leader is a "zealot who has pledged to eradicate Israel," a straightforward lie. Victor David Hanson makes the current scene one of "appeasement." as in the treatment of Hitler in the 1930s, and Iran now a threatening "bully." ("Appeasement 101: dealing with bullies," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 17, 2006). Iran of course has zero nuclear weapons, whereas the United States and Israel both have massive numbers and delivery systems, and Iran hasn't once moved beyond its borders, whereas the United States and Israel have done so regularly and are pummeling Middle East populations right now, but Iran is the "bully," and appeasement means failing to make sure by threat or violence that it cannot ever acquire a single nuclear weapon. But lies and inflated rhetoric are par for the course, and in the panicky environment of the pre-war threat buildup there is no cost to lying or comical threat inflation. A fifth principle is to avoid discussion of any current relationships with governments that might deserve demon status as much or even more than the target (here Iran). Saudi Arabia is more fundamentalist Islamic and more repressive than Iran, and Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and Uzbekistan are at least as vulnerable to criticism for undemocratic practice as Iran, but they are U.S. client states, hence relatively free from criticism let alone threat of destabilization or attack. Pakistan even has nuclear weapons, and the United States finds that tolerable. Israel of course has a sizable nuclear arsenal, which the United States helped Israel develop and which the United States accepts as reasonable. Richard Cohen explains that this is part of the judicious double standard because "Israel has not threatened to blow Iran off the map; because it is vastly outnumbered in a tough, belligerent neighborhood; and because it is the lone real democracy in a region run mostly by thugs." But Israel has threatened to bomb Iran, and made this threat long before Ahmadinejad's pugnacious statements, which have never been as specific or realistic as Israel's threats; and Israel has regularly invaded its neighbors, which Iran has not done (although it was invaded by Iraq, which was helped in this by the United States). Cohen fails to mention that the "thugs" in the neighborhood are mainly U.S. client states, whose thuggery is accepted because used only against their own citizenry. Israel is "outnumbered" in people but not in tanks, modern aircraft, missiles, and nuclear arms, and it has the full backing of the United States, so that it threatens and beats up others, but remains invulnerable. It is not a true democracy-it is a racist democracy, and it is the world's only state that is free to occupy another people's land and ethnically cleanse them over many years in violation of international law and accepted standards of morality, from which it is exempt by virtue of its and its patron's military power. In short, this "judicious double standard" is built on racism, lies, and Orwellian thought, now institutionalized (see my "Ethnic Cleansing and the 'Moral Instinct'," Z Magazine, March 2006). A sixth and closely related principle is the need to keep under the rug any awkward past actions or relationships with the target that might show both hypocrisy and the fraudulence of the claimed threat. This was dramatically so in the case of Saddam Hussein, aided and protected by U.S. (and British) officials in the 1980s when he was actually using the dread "weapons of mass destruction," although he was using them on a U.S.-approved target (Iran) as well as on some of his own citizens. In the case of Iran, the United States actually promoted that country's development of nuclear energy when the Shah of Iran was in power. He was far more oppressive of his people than the mullahs are today--his torture chambers were state-of-art, with U.S. and Israeli aid--but he took orders, so using Cohen's "judicious double standards" it was reasonable that he should be encouraged to go nuclear. The media's ability to forget these inconvenient facts and to dredge up long neglected "principles" now applied to Iran with the utmost seriousness is a reminder of the principles of Newspeak (Ingsoc) described in Orwell's 1984. A seventh principle is keeping under that (rapidly bulging) rug any current actions of the United States that might appear incompatible with its harsh stand opposing Iran's pursuing any nuclear program. Most obvious today is the new agreement with India just signed by U.S. president George Bush and Indian president Manmohan Singh, that offers U.S. nuclear aid to India for its civilian uses of nuclear energy, but which therefore frees India's ongoing processing of nuclear fuel for use in its nuclear weapons program. The mainstream media have not buried the fact of this agreement, but they have done an outstanding job of avoiding any stress on its violation of principles: India, a country that has avoided joining the NPT and instead built nuclear weapons, instead of being penalized for this evasion and contribution to nuclear proliferation is accepted as a nuclear weapons power and helped to enhance its nuclear status, civilian and military; whereas Iran, which did sign that treaty and allowed itself to be subjected to IAEA inspections, and which has no nuclear weapons, is denied even the right to civilian uses of nuclear energy and is threatened with sanctions and even attack. An eighth principle is that the United States not only has a right to ignore the NPT as it applies to itself, it can also alter the terms of the NPT as it applies to its target. In this case, the NPT gives Iran the "inalienable right to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" (Art. IV.1). But the U.S. Ambassador to the UN has asserted that "no enrichment in Iran is permissible" because it "could give Iran the possibility of mastering the technical difficulties it's currently encountering in its program," and having done that it could use these processes elsewhere. Once again, the law is irrelevant, and the violator of the UN Charter in the Iraq aggression is once again threatening aggression because it deems Iran to be a menace. Of course all the serious threats are emanating from the United States and Israel, and there is no hard evidence that Iran is going beyond its perfectly legal rights under the NPT, but these considerations can be disregarded as the biggest and strongest has spoken. A ninth principle is that if the target cannot prove a negative, the severity of the threat to U.S. "national security" requires that Iran be bombed and that there be a change in regime to one that can be trusted (like that of the Shah of Iran, or Sharon, or Musharraf). This of course parallels the course of events in Iraq in 2002-March 2003, where the inspectors found nothing, despite very extensive searching (including searches in all places that U.S.-British intelligence had suggested as promising), but on this principle an invasion was required because the negative was not (and could not be) proved. We may see the same process in the Iran case. A tenth principle is to use the mechanisms of international regulation linked to the UN to serve the war and goal of regime change: by pushing for ever more intensive inspections and ultimatums; by denigrating the adequacy of inspections; by taking any absence of proof of the negative and any target country foot-dragging on cooperation with increasingly intrusive inspections to demonstrate its nefarious character and virtual proof of its secret operations; and by getting the UN and Security Council to make concessions appeasing the aggressor that give his aggression an aura of semi-legality. The UN and France and Germany took a lot of flak in the runup to the Iraq aggression for failing to give the United States carte blanche, although they all bent over backwards to placate the aggressor (and eventually gave their sanction to his illegal and murderous occupation). In the runup to the attack on Iran, the United States has kept intense pressure on the IAEA and EU to condemn Iran for its "concealment" and lack of "transparency," pressing the IAEA to inspect frequently and intensively (it has put up 17 written and four oral reports on its inspections of Iran to its board since March 17, 2003), possibly hoping that Iran will be provoked into withdrawing from the NPT and giving the aggressor his casus belli. Again, this is being pressed by an aggressor who has still not digested his last meal and that is himself in gross violation of the NPT. An eleventh principle is to pretend that all the frenzy and activity of the Great Powers to deal with the Iran threat is based on a universal worry, and does not reflect U.S. power and the attempts to appease that power. The EU has cooperated with the Bush administration even more willingly than they did before the attack on Iraq, going along with publicizing and condemning Iran's supposed misbehavior, and pressing the IAEA to go after Iran more aggressively-while of course ignoring completely the U.S. violations of the NPT, its open threats directed to Iran and openly announced programs of intervention and destabilization, threats that once again violate the UN Charter. So the "international community" is actively cooperating in a planned and threatened further U.S. aggression. A twelfth principle is to disregard any hidden agenda the U.S. may have in going after Iran. In fact, as the explicit agenda of removing a threat to U.S. national security is as fraudulent as the threat to U.S. security posed by Iraq, and as the United States refuses to give Iran a security guarantee as part of a weapons control package, the failure to examine the real reasons for the U.S. program is the height of "international community" and journalistic irresponsibility. Is it a simple projection of power by an imperial state, as urged by many Bush officials in the Project for a New American Century, "Rebuilding America's Defenses" (2000) and spelled out in the "National Security Strategy of the United States" (2002)? Is it part of a quest for domination of oil supplies, which may call for a controlled client state in Iran as well as Iraq? Is it to prevent the rise of an oil bourse in Iran and potential diminution of the role of the dollar as a dominant currency? Is it to prevent an energy-based power alignment between Iran, China, and other Asian countries? Is it to help Israel retain its dominance in the Middle East and its ability to continue the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem without any interference? Some combination of these undoubtedly underlies the U.S. bullying and threats. A democratic media and a responsibility international community would be debating these and drawing the proper conclusions. Conclusions Uncle Chutzpah and his willing executioners-the media, UN and coalition of the cowardly and bribed-have isolated Iran and set her up for possible destabilization and aggression. One wouldn't think this possible given the remarkable parallels in argument and (phony) evidence in this case and that of the failed aggression in Iraq, but the power of the aggressor and subservience of the media and international community are apparently boundless. It is certainly not assured that Iran will be attacked, and if it is attacked that is most likely to be by bombs only, but it can well happen. The stage is being set, and the folks likely to make those decisions are proven killers, torturers and law violators, confident in their military superiority and invulnerability to prosecution for criminal behavior and with a great capacity for righteous self-deception. And the international community is not only doing nothing to stop them, it is helping them prepare the "(im)moral" and quasi-legal groundwork . The leaders of the aggressor state are also politically astute, and recognize the political value of war as a means of retrieving political fortunes. They may be failures at home as well as abroad, but their service to the business community has been far-reaching, and those successes have protected and sustained them. To continue them, as they damage the great majority, may require forcible action. As Thorstein Veblen pointed out a hundred years ago, "The direct cultural value of a warlike business policy is unequivocal. It makes for a conservative animus on the part of the populace…At the same stroke, it directs popular interest to other, nobler, institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal distribution of wealth" (The Theory of Business Enterprise [1904], pp. 391-3). When each day you are adding to your service to the rich and damaging the majority, war can come in handy to get folks to turn again to the "nobler, institutionally less hazardous" matters like stopping the dire threat of an Iranian bomb.

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