Exxon suxx. McCain duxx. By Greg Palast

Dandelion Salad

By Greg Palast
27 February 2008

Nineteen goddamn years is enough. I’m sorry if you don’t like my language, but when I think about what they did to Paul Kompkoff, I’m in no mood to nicey-nice words.

Next month marks 19 years since the Exxon Valdez dumped its load of crude oil across the Prince William Sound, Alaska. A big gooey load of this crude spilled over the lands of the Chenega Natives. Paul Kompkoff was a seal-hunter for the village. That is, until Exxon’s ship killed the seal and poisoned the rest of Chenega’s food supply.

While cameras rolled, Exxon executives promised they’d compensate everyone. Today, before the US Supreme Court, the big oil company’s lawyers argued that they shouldn’t have to pay Paul or other fishermen the damages ordered by the courts.

They can’t pay Paul anyway. He’s dead.

That was part of Exxon’s plan. They told me that. In 1990 and 1991, I worked for the Chenega and Chugach Natives of Alaska on trying to get Exxon to pay up to save the remote villages of the Sound. Exxon’s response was, “We can hold out in court until you’re all dead.”

Nice guys. But, hell, they were right, weren’t they?

But Exxon didn’t do it alone. They had enablers. One was a failed oil driller named “Dubya.” Exxon was the largest contributor to George W. Bush’s political career after Enron. They were a team, Exxon and Enron. The Chairman of Enron, Ken Lay, prior to his felony convictions, funded a group called Texans for Law Suit Reform. The idea was to prevent Natives, consumers and defrauded stockholders from suing felonious corporations and their chiefs.

When George went to Washington, Enron and Exxon got their golden pass in the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts. Today, as the court heard Exxon’s latest stall, Roberts said, in defense of Exxon’s behavior in Alaska, “What more can a corporation do?”

The answer, Your Honor, is plenty.

For starters, Mr. Roberts, Exxon could have turned on the radar. What? On the night the Exxon Valdez smacked into Bligh Reef, the Raycas radar system was turned off. Exxon shipping honchos decided it was too expensive to maintain it and train their navigators to use it. So, the inexperienced third mate at the wheel was driving the supertanker by eyeball, Christopher Columbus style. I kid you not.

Here’s what else this poor ‘widdle corporation could do: stop lying.

On the night of March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez was not even supposed to leave harbor.

If a tanker busts open, that doesn’t have to mean a thousand miles of shoreline gets slimed – so long as oil-slick containment equipment is in place.

On the night of March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez was not supposed have left port. No tanker can unless a spill containment barge is operating nearby. That night, the barge was in dry-dock, locked under ice. Exxon kept that fact hidden, concealing the truth even after the tanker grounded. An Exxon official radioed the emergency crew, “Barge is on its way.”

Paul’s gone – buried with Exxon’s promises. But the oil’s still there. Go out to Chenega lands today. At Sleepy Bay, kick over some gravel and it will smell like a gas station.

What the heck does this have to do with John McCain? The Senator is what I’d call a ‘Tort Tart.’ Ken Lay’s “Law Suit Reform” posse was one of the fronts used by a gaggle of corporate lobbyists waging war on your day in court. Their rallying cry is ‘Tort Reform,’ by which they mean they want to take away the God-given right of any American, rich or poor, to sue the bastards who crush your child’s skull through product negligence, make your heart explode with a faulty medical device, siphon off your pension funds, or poison your food supply with spilled oil.

Now, all of the Democratic candidates have seen through this ‘tort reform’ con – and so did a Senator named McCain who, in 2001, for example, voted for the Patients Bill of Rights allowing claims against butchers with scalpels. Then something happened to Senator McCain: the guy who stuck his neck out for litigants got his head chopped off when he ran for President in the Republican Party in 2000 for what one lobbyists’ website called McCain’s, “his go-it-alone moralism.”

So the Senator did what I call, The McCain Hunch. Again and again he grabbed his ankles and apologized to the K Street lobbyists, reversing his positions on, well, you name it. For example, in 2001, he said of Bush’s tax cuts, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans.” Now, in bad conscience, the Senator vows to make these tax cuts permanent.

On “Tort Reform,” the about-face was dizzying. McCain voted to undermine his own 2001 Patients Bill of Rights with votes in 2005 to limit suits to enforce it. He then added his name to a bill that would have thrown sealhunter Kompkoff’s suit out of federal court.

In 2003, McCain voted against Bush’s Energy Plan, an industry oil-gasm. But this week, following Exxon’s report that it sucked in $40.6 billion in earnings last year, the largest profit haul in planetary history, McCain failed to join Clinton, Obama, most Democrats and some Republicans on a bill to require a teeny sliver of industry profit go to alternative energy sources. On oil independence, McCain is AWOL, missing in action.

Well, Paul, at least you were spared this.

I remember when I was on the investigation in Alaska, fishermen, bankrupted, utterly ruined – Kompkoff’s co-plaintiffs in the suit before the court – floated their soon-to-be repossessed boats into the tanker lanes with banners reading, “EXXON SUXX.” To which they could now add, about a one-time stand-up Senator: “McCain duxx.”

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his investigative reports at http://www.GregPalast.com

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Ann Wright and Daniel Ellsberg on C-Span March 2

Dandelion Salad

After Downing Street
Feb 27, 2008

C-SPAN Book TV will air a reading from Dissent: Voices of Conscience with Colonel (Ret.) Ann Wright and Daniel Ellsberg this Sunday, March 2.

3:45 a.m. Eastern Time (12:45 a.m. Pacific)
3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (12:00 Noon Pacific)

See Book TV for more about the program.

Please visit www.voicesofconscience.com, for more about the book and Ann Wright’s schedule of readings.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Halliburton/State Department Rape Stories Get Worse & Worse

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
Feb 27, 2008

I just interviewed Tracy Barker for an hour.

You can find the clip at http://www.thepeoplespeakradio.net/audio/2008/#february

She is one in a string of sexual assault and harassment victims who suffered what they did while employed by Halliburton in Iraq.

Her particular story is the worst I’ve heard and far worse than I had thought before conducting the interview. She was initially harassed sexually in the Green Zone in Baghdad. When she reported on her supervisor to a Halliburton ethics line, they simply told her supervisor.

When she transfered to Basra the environment was intensely worse and the sexual harassment constant. She attempted to report to Halliburton;s human resources office in Kuwait but was caught and brought back.

She was assaulted by a State Department employee who attempted to rape her. She was then denied medical attention and locked up and cut off from outside communication. She was offered sleeping pills to help her anxiety, and then woke up with her supervisor naked on top of her.

No one in any of these cases has been prosecuted criminally. No one has been disciplined by the State Department or Halliburton.

The State Department offered Barker money (our money!) to drop a civil suit, which she refused.

Halliburton has forced a civil suit into arbitration.

A caller to the program asked why Congress doesn’t do something. But how can Congress compel the Justice Department to do anything, while impeachment is off the table?

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Obama & Clinton Debate in Ohio by Davis Fleetwood

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Automated Killer Robots ‘Threat to Humanity’: Expert

Dandelion Salad

By Agence France Presse
After Downing Street
Feb 27, 2008

Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP.

“They pose a threat to humanity,” said University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey ahead of a keynote address Wednesday before Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.

Intelligent machines deployed on battlefields around the world — from mobile grenade launchers to rocket-firing drones — can already identify and lock onto targets without human help.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Carolyn Baker Reviews Dmitry Orlov’s “Re-Inventing Collapse”

Dandelion Salad

by Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power (no longer available)
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The old normal is that life will go on just like before. The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same Rather than attempting to undertake the Herculean task of mitigating the unmitigatable – attempting to stop the world and point it in a different direction-it seems far better to turn inward and work to transform yourself into someone who might stand a chance, given the world’s assumed trajectory. Much of this transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. Some if it involves acquiring new skills and a different set of habits. Some of it is even physiological, changing one’s body to prepare it for a life that has far fewer creature comforts and conveniences, while requiring far more physical labor.

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Protesting Power – War, Resistance & Law by Stephen Lendman (Boyle)

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, February 28, 2008

Review of Francis A. Boyle’s book

Francis A. Boyle is a distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights. From 1988 to 1992, he was a board member of Amnesty International USA. He was a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee. From 1991 to 1993, he was legal advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and currently he’s a leading proponent of an effort to impeach George Bush, Dick Cheney and other key administration figures for their crimes of war, against humanity and other grievous violations of domestic and international law. Boyle also lectures widely, writes extensively and authored many books, including his latest one and subject of this review: Protesting Power – War, Resistance and Law.

Boyle’s book is powerful, noble and compelling, and he states its purpose upfront: Today, a “monumental struggle (is being waged) for the heart and soul of (America) and the future of the world….” It matches peacemakers on one side, war makers on the other, and all humanity hanging in the balance. The book provides hope and ammunition. It’s a urgent call to action and demonstrates that “civil resistance (is) solidly grounded in international law, human rights (efforts), and the US Constitution.” It “can be used to fight back and defeat the legal, constitutional, and humanitarian nihilism of the Bush administration” neocons and their chilling Hobbesian vision – imperial dominance, homeland police state, and permanent “war that won’t end in our lifetimes,” according to Dick Cheney.

Boyle has the antidote: “civil resistance, international law, human rights, and the US Constitution – four quintessential principles to counter….militarism run amuk.” Our choice is “stark and compelling.” We must act in our own self-defense “immediately, before humankind exterminates itself in an act of nuclear omnicide.” The threat today is dire and real, it demands action, and civil resistance no longer is an option. With survival at stake, it’s an obligation.

The Right to Engage in Civil Resistance to Prevent State Crimes

Post-WW II, US foreign policy adopted the political “realism” and “power politics” principles that Hans Morganthau explained in his seminal work on the subject – “Politics among Nations: the Struggle for Power and Peace (1948).” For decades, it was the leading international politics text from a man eminently qualified to produce it and whose experiences under Nazism influenced him.

His cardinal tenet was darkly Hobbesian – that international law and world organizations are “irrelevant” when it comes to conflicts between nations on matters of national interest. Ignore “reality” and perish, but consider the consequences. They’ve been disastrous for America, at home and abroad, in a world of our making where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” No law or justice exists, no sense of right or wrong, no morality, just illusions of what might be, and a “struggle for survival in a state of war” by every nation against all others for one unattainable aim – absolute power and national security at the expense of other states and most people everywhere.

Political “realists” believe that when nations respect international laws and norms and ignore the “iron law” of “power politics,” they invite disaster at the hands of aggressors. Boyle believes otherwise and eloquently states it: “Throughout the twentieth century, the promotion of international law, organizations, human rights, and the US Constitution has consistently provided the United States with the best means for reconciling the idealism (and aspirations) of American values….with the realism of world politics and historical conditions.”

It can work the way Boyle documented it in his 1999 book, Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations, 1898 – 1922. In it, he offers a comprehensive analysis of US foreign policy achievements through international law and organizations to settle disputes, prevent wars and preserve peace. It included:

— an obligatory arbitration system for settling disputes between states – the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 1899 that’s still operating at The Hague as the oldest international dispute resolution institution;

— the Permanent Court of International Justice (World Court) in 1922 that was replaced by the International Court of Justice in 1946 after the UN was established in 1945;

— the codification of important areas of international law in treaty form;

— promoting arms reduction after relaxing international tensions by legal techniques and institutions; and

— convoking periodic peace conferences for all internationally recognized states; the League of Nations was established for this purpose and later the United Nations with its functional agencies like the International Labour Organization, WHO, UNESCO, and IAEA. Other affiliated institutions included the IMF, World Bank, GATT, WTO and regional organizations like the OAS, Arab League, African Union, ASEAN, OSCE and EU. To these add NATO, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Pact), SEATO, ANZUS and various bilateral self-defense treaties under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

These organizations should have worked. In practice they don’t, and Boyle explains why: compared to America’s early “legalist, humanitarian, and constitutionalist approach to international relations, geopolitical (realpolitik) practioners of the Hobbesian” school prevailed – men like Johnson, Kissinger, McNamara, Nixon, Byzezinski, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, GW Bush, his neocon ideologues and countless others. They disdain democracy, constitutional government and their essential principles: commitment to the rule of domestic and international law, human rights, equal justice and peace.

Consider the cost. It’s beyond measure and even worse looking back, in spite of all efforts toward conflict resolution. Since the nation’s founding, America has been at war with one or more adversaries every year in our history (without exception), and note the consequences:

— we glorify wars and violence in the name of peace;

— have the highest domestic homicide rate in the western world by far;

— our society is called a “rape culture” and three-fourths of all women are victims of some form of violence in their lifetimes, many repeatedly;

— millions of children are violence or abuse victims and get no help from the state;

— in a nominal democracy under constitutional law, aggressive wars and domestic violence are normal and commonplace; peace, tranquility and public safety are illusions and so are human rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, and common dignity, and the reason it’s so is simple – it benefits the privileged few at the expense of the greater good.

What can be done? Plenty, according to Boyle. “Concerned citizens” and people of conscience are obligated to use our available tools – domestic and international law and human rights as “checks and balances against” government abuses of power in the conduct of domestic and foreign policies. Otherwise, administrations can run amuck and literally get away with murder and other major crimes of war, against humanity, peace and the general welfare.

Consider the alternative and what can be gained. By respecting the law, human rights and other nations’ sovereignty, US administrations could defend the nation, conduct its foreign and domestic affairs, and achieve its goals successfully without wars, violence and disdain for the common good. At worst under an anti-Hobbesian construct, short-term objectives might be sacrificed in part for more vital ones in the long run, and isn’t that what survival is all about.

At his book’s end, Boyle quotes Hans Morgenthau’s comments in 1979, just months before his death, and it’s appropriate to mention them here. Boyle asked him “what he thought about the future of international relations” at the time Jimmy Carter was President. His response: “Future, what future?….In my opinion the world is moving ineluctably toward a third world war – a strategic nuclear war. I do not believe that anything can be done to prevent it. The international system is simply too unstable to survive for long.” Arms reduction treaties are mere stopgaps and will be unable to “stop the momentum.”

If Morganthau is right, the choice is stark and clear. Continue our present path and perish or unite at the grassroots to change an ugly, unsustainable system and let humankind survive. There’s no middle ground, time may be short, and who knows if enough still remains.

Yet Boyle eschews that notion and dedicates his book to hope through resistance. We must try and use our available tools – the Constitution; UN Charter; Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Hague Regulations; Geneva Conventions; Supreme (and lower) Court decisions; US Army Field Manual 27-10; The Law of Land Warfare (1956); and our own profound commitment to resist and prevail whatever the odds and consequences. Apathy isn’t an option.

History, moreover, shows these tactics work when enough people commit to them. They ended the Vietnam war, and, in the 1980s, anti-nuclear and anti-war resisters forced the Reagan and GHW Bush administrations to conclude the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991.

Conditions today are far more grave under neocon rule that disdains the law and all binding peace and international arms reduction treaties. It:

— claims the right to develop new type nuclear weapons, not eliminate the ones Morganthau believed will destroy us;

— ignores the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and intends to test new weapons developed;

— ended Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty protection;

— rescinded and subverted the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention;

— spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined, and it’s getting worse; on February 4, the largest ever defense budget since WW II, in inflation-adjusted dollars, was proposed for fiscal 2009 at a time the nation has no adversaries, should be at peace, but chooses wars without end instead;

— disdains a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to prevent additional nuclear bombs to be added to present stockpiles already dangerously too high; and

— claims the right to wage preventive wars under the doctrine of “anticipatory self-defense” using first strike nuclear weapons against any other state. Morganthau would say I warned you.

Boyle says civil resisters like the ones he testifies for represent hope. They’re “the archetypical American heros” whose names few people know – Richard Sauder, Jeff Paterson, David Mejia, Ehren Watada, Kathy Kelly, Daniel Berrigan, his late brother Philip and many other courageous, dedicated people for peace and equal justice. They risk their lives and freedom for the greater good, pay hugely for it, and Ramzy Clark once saluted them saying: “Our jails are filling up with saints.” We have a constitutional right and personal duty to support them, join them, and resist our government’s criminal acts. They must be stopped or the alternative may be WW III and the end of humanity.

Constitutional law supports resistance (not disobedience that violates the law). The First Amendment protects the right to “peaceably….assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It doesn’t have to be lawful, just peaceable, so it’s incumbent to resist when governments act criminally and endanger public safety and welfare, and the law is on our side. Resisters have the same statutory and common-law defenses as criminal defendants – defense of self, others, necessity, choice of evils, prevention of crime, execution of public duty, citizen’s arrest, prevention of a public catastrophe, and other defenses. If not us, who then?

Federal courts abdicated their power and defer to presidential lawlessness under doctrines of “political question, state secrets, standing, judicial restraint, (and) national security.” Congress as well has power, but won’t use it. If it did, imagine how constructively it could exercise its appropriation authority under Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution saying: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law….”

Congress alone is empowered to do it. It controls the federal budget that includes defense and supplementary military spending. Foreign wars will end and new ones not begun if Congress won’t fund them. It’s how Vietnam ended. Congress stopped funding it under the Church-Case June 1973 amendment that cut off appropriations after August 15. Legislative power is the same today, but post-9/11, Congress abdicated its authority and defers to Bush administration demands on nearly everything, including aggressive foreign wars.

If the courts and Congress won’t act, the public must and if charged and prosecuted are protected under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the right of trial by a jury of peers. Boyle explains that the “American criminal jury system (ultimately may be) the last bastion of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the US Constitution” against a criminal administration and whichever one succeeds it if it continues lawless policies.

From his experience, Boyle is hopeful because when American juries understand government crimes, “they usually refused to convict” civil resisters trying to stop them. Two precedent-setting 1985 cases stand out as examples: People v. Jarka and Chicago v. Streeter. In both cases, defendants used a common-law defense called “necessity” and were acquitted. They were absolved of criminal liability because their actions caused less injury than the greater one they hoped to avoid. Winning these cases makes them applicable to more serious ones like crimes of war, and against humanity and peace.

Ahead, achieving victories or hung juries is crucial to preserving our constitutional system under threat. A strong message will be sent that ordinary people can confront government crimes and prevail. As such, we have to try. Surrender or apathy aren’t options. The stakes are far too great.

Defending Civil Resisters: Philosophy, Strategy, and Tactics

In an age of lawless government, resisters represent hope. They’re the “sheriffs,” government officials the “outlaws,” and it highlights the importance of seeking counsel and who to choose. The person must believe in the accused and their cause and work cooperatively with an international law expert to introduce these principles into the proceedings as evidence.

Many times, international law is the only defense, there’s plenty to draw on, and Boyle believes when a peace-loving, law-abiding jury hears compelling evidence citing it, “there is almost no way the government will be able to convict” resisters on trial. The jury will either acquit, be hung, or charges will be dismissed before or during trial. It’s thus clear that a successful defense requires a jury trial because too many judges support state authority and may deny evidence and convict. That’s particularly true for federal judges who are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and over two-thirds on the bench now come from the extremist Federalist Society.

Proper representation and effective courtroom proceedings are crucial and follow from civil resistance acts that at times means spending time in jail. A good lawyer’s job and Boyle’s book are to prevent it, and he devotes considerable space explaining how. It begins with a good lawyer. After that comes:

— a proper defense that aims to win or at least get a hung jury;

— introducing international law as evidence and relating it to traditional common-law, statutory, procedural, and constitutional defenses that usually include one or more of the following: defense of self, others, property, necessity, prevention of a crime or public catastrophe, citizen’s arrest, and other legal choices; international law is part of domestic law under Article VI of the Constitution (the supremacy clause);

Article VI also includes treaties as the “supreme law of the land;” so are Supreme Court decisions like The Paquete Habana (1900) that stated “International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction….” In United States v. Belmont (1937) and United States v. Pink (1942), the Court ruled that the supremacy clause applies to international executive agreements that don’t receive formal Senate advice and consent (the Senate does not ratify treaties as such);

US presidents take an oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution….” International treaties and agreements are included. In addition, Article II, Section 3 requires the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised;”

— introducing the burden of proof in affirmative defenses to force the prosecution to prove guilt by disproving this type defense; the idea is to create a reasonable doubt about criminal intent;

— distinguishing “specific intent crimes” (that many resisters are charged with) from general intent ones;

— defending the crime of unlawful “trespass” by arguing it was done to uphold domestic and international law to prevent the commission of a crime;

— establishing a pattern of criminal government behavior to justify resistance against it; it may include but not be limited to: Nuremberg crimes against peace, humanity, war crimes, breaches of Geneva, Hague, the UN Charter, genocide, torture and other crimes including inchoate ones, such as planning, preparing or aiding and abetting them;

— using appropriate international criminal law standards in the US Army Field Manual 27-10 (that incorporates Nuremberg Principles, Judgment and the Charter) and The Law of Land Warfare (1956); the Field Manual paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished; paragraph 499 defines a “war crime;” paragraph 500 refers to conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes; paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime; and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state;” and so forth;

— pro se resisters (representing themselves without counsel) must take special care to prepare a proper defense with one aim – to convince one juror of their innocence; these and other considerations are vital to an effective defense when it’s you v. the state and judges may be hostile. Resistance, however, is crucial because in Boyle’s words: “Today is our Nuremberg moment!”

Trident on Trial

In this and succeeding chapters, Boyle reviews cases in which he testified pro bono for the defense. In each one, he explains the issue, who was on trial, followed by a summation of the crucial portions of his testimony that are text book examples of a proper and effective defense.

The Trident II strategic nuclear missile submarine is the first example and is described as follows: it’s the “most hideous and nefarious weapon of mass destruction (WMD) ever devised” because of its unimaginable destructive power. The US Navy deploys 14 Tridents, the UK four others, and just one of them has enough nuclear kilotonnage to destroy much of planet earth and maybe all of it from nuclear fallout – around 270 or more times the destructive power of the low-yield bombs that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Further, NAVSTAR satellite communications give Delta V multiple warhead MIRVs on board pinpoint accuracy to make Trident ideal for an offensive near-omnicidal first-strike capability. At patrol depth, the extremely low frequency (ELF) system is the only way to communicate with these submarines. For that reason, Plowshares defendant George Ostensen (in 1987) engaged in civil resistance against the Ashland, Wisconsin ELF facility and was charged with two counts of “sabotage.” He faced a possible 40 year prison sentence if found guilty as charged.

Boyle testified for him and used the transcript as a text for other Plowshares resisters to contest similar charges against them. It paid off with two outright acquittals in 1996 and another in a 1999 Scotland case because juries were convinced that ELF/Trident II was as dangerous as described above and thus criminal under well-established international and domestic law principles. These verdicts led to a “stunning” victory when the Navy announced it would shutter its Wisconsin and Michigan ELF systems in September 2004. “Civil resistance had triumphed over the Trident II,” but these weapons are still deployed and threaten all humanity by their existence.

Brief excerpts of Boyle’s testimony in his Ostensen defense follow. The laws he cites are mentioned above so comments on them are brief and not repeated for succeeding chapters.

In Ostensen and other testimonies, Boyle explains domestic and international laws relevant to the cases:

— the US Constitution; the supremacy clause under Article VI stating that all forms of international treaties and agreements to which the US is a signatory are binding on “all American citizens, government officials, (the military and) courts of law;”

— The Paquette Habana (1900) Supreme Court decision affirming that international law is US law;

— The Law of Naval Warfare (1955) and The Law of Land Warfare (1956) both state that international laws bind all members of the US military, government officials and American citizens; they clearly say that international law limits the threat or use of nuclear weapons because these weapons are so deadly;

— the Navy, Army and Air Force manuals incorporate the Nuremberg Principles as binding US law; they include crimes of war, against peace and humanity as well as planning, preparing, or waging an aggressive war; also applicable is conspiracy, incitement, and/or aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; Nuremberg also rejected the defense of superior orders; the UN General Assembly unanimously approved these Principles as recognized international law in Resolution 95(I) in December 1946;

— the Army, Navy and Air Force field manuals are issued to all members of the military today who are told they are fully accountable for any Nuremberg violations;

— an outstanding DOD policy states that nuclear weapons are to be developed according to international law requirements;

— Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Directive 59 involves the targeting of nuclear weapons as first-strike options; at the time of the Ostensen case, no such official first-strike policy existed; that changed under the December 2001 Nuclear Policy Review; it affirmed the right to declare and wage future preventive wars using first- strike nuclear weapons; Trident II/Delta V submarines are nuclear first-stike WMDs; so is the ELF communication system;

— the first-strike option is clearly illegal under Nuremberg Principles as well as the 1907 Hague Regulations that require an ultimatum or formal declaration of war; no nation has the “right” to affirm a policy of “deterrence” to threaten or destroy another one, let alone all humanity by nuclear weapons; that’s very clear under Nuremberg.

The Constitutionality of President George HW Bush’s War against Iraq on Trial (The Gulf War)

Boyle testified at the trial of Marine Corps Corporal Jeffrey Paterson. Over time, his military obligations increasingly conflicted with his moral beliefs. Things came to a head when he was told he’d likely be sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the military buildup prior to the Gulf War. On grounds of conscientious objection, he applied to be discharged and was refused even though the law states:

“To qualify for discharge from military service as a conscientious objector, an applicant must establish that:

(1) he or she is opposed to war in any form – Gillette v. United States (1971);

(2) his or her objection is founded in deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs – Welsh v. United States (1970); and

(3) his or her convictions are sincere – Witmer v. United States (1955).”

Marine Corps Order 1306.16E requires that reasonable efforts be made to assign minimally-conflicting duties while an application is being processed. Nonetheless, Paterson was ordered to deploy to Saudi Arabia on August 29, 1990. He refused to go, was arrested, incarcerated, then freed pending court-martial.

Paterson has an honored distinction. He was the first military or civil resister to GHW Bush’s “unconstitutional and criminal” Gulf War. He was charged under article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) alleging his refusal to muster to deploy to the Gulf. On November 1, his lawyer filed a motion to dismiss three charges on grounds they were illegal. A special hearing was then held on November 19 before a Marine Corps judge. He ruled for Paterson by concluding that the government bore the burden of proof that must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

It was “a great victory for peace, justice, international law, the US Constitution, and civil resistance.” On December 5, 1990, Paterson was administratively released from the Marine Corps with an “other than honorable discharge.” His case was precedent-setting, “of great historic significance,” and it’s applicable to all cases of military and civil resistance against government crimes, including waging wars of aggression.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, it’s the law of the land under the supremacy clause, and its Chapter VII empowers the Security Council alone to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” and, if necessary, take military or other action to “restore international peace and stability.” It lets a nation use force only under two conditions:

— under authorization by the Security Council; or

— under Article 51 that permits the “right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member….until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”

In addition, both houses of Congress, not the president, have exclusive power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution that’s known as the war powers clause. Nonetheless, that procedure was followed only five times in our history, it was last used for WW II in 1941, and Congress addressed the issue in 1973 when it passed the War Powers Resolution.

It requires the president to get congressional authorization for war or a resolution passed within 60 days of initiating hostilities. It also states in Section 4(a)(3): “In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced — (3) in numbers which substantially enlarge the United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, setting forth” necessitating circumstances, a request for “constitutional and legislative authority,” and the “estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.”

Congress gave GHW Bush this authority on January 14, 1991. It did not give it to George W. Bush, yet he went to war anyway in violation of a host of laws, domestic and international. On January 15, 1991, Congressman Henry Gonzales, Ramsey Clark and Francis Boyle launched a national campaign to impeach GHW Bush. Five articles of impeachment were prepared.

They apply as well today to GW Bush’s illegal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and Boyle states why as follows: “the House can, should, and must impeach President Bush for commencing this war, lying about this war, and threatening more wars. All that is needed is one member of the House of Representatives with courage, integrity, principles, and a safe seat” to do it. If not, the alternative is dire – wars without end, a homeland police state and the end of the republic that’s already on life support.

In testifying for Corporal Paterson, Boyle reviewed the relevant laws already covered above. He also cited pertinent Supreme Court decisions going back to Little v. Barreme (1804) and Mitchell v. Harmony (1851) as well as Colonel William Winthrop’s Military Law and Precedents (1880, 1886 and revised and enlarged in 1920).

Winthrop specifically states that soldiers are obligated to disobey illegal orders defined as follows: ones unauthorized by law or that are clearly illegal acts. In the Paterson case, there was no authorized law, and he had no duty to obey a clearly unlawful order.

President Clinton’s Invasion of Haiti and the Laws of War

Noam Chomsky believes that every US president since WW II could be impeached because “they’ve all been either outright war criminals or involved in serious war crimes.” Bill Clinton was one of them. In November 1993, he sent troops to Somalia, supposedly for humanitarian intervention, got no congressional authorization, and killed about 10,000 Somalis. He was then complicit in the 1994 Rwandan massacres (involving no US troops), and on September 19, 1994 again acted illegally – he invaded Haiti without congressional authority and violated the Constitution’s war powers clause.

The 10th US Army Mountain Division from Fort Drum, New York was part of the force sent. Capt. Lawrence P. Rockwood II was a fourth generation soldier and career military officer with 15 years service. Yet he jeopardized his safety, career and personal liberty to aid incarcerated Haitians.

He learned about horrific human rights violations inside Haiti’s prisons under its military dictator. They were especially bad at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, he informed his superiors, and then pressured them to take control and stop the abuses. Nothing was done, so Rockwell acted on his own as the US Army Field Manual 27-10 and international law require.

On September 30, he went to the prison alone, inspected conditions inside, saw firsthand how bad they were, and compiled a list of prisoners’ names to deter their deaths or “disappearance.” Subsequently, he was court-martialed in May 1995 and faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of multiple charges.

In fact, he was convicted of five specifications on three charges under the UCMJ, including:

— failure to report for duty under article 86;

— disrespect for a superior officer under article 89;

— willful disobedience of superior orders under article 90; and

— conduct unbecoming an officer under article 133.

— He was acquitted of two specifications of an additional charge of failing to obey an order and dereliction of duties under article 92.

The court abstained from imposing a prison sentence and instead dismissed Rockwood from the army with forfeiture of pay. In so doing, the military jury affirmed his defense that he acted properly under international law to stop grievous abuses inside Haiti’s prison. He left the army “an acknowledged and eternal hero to the worldwide human rights movement.”

Appearing for the defense at his trial was an expert witness, an authentic human rights hero in his own right – Hugh Thompson. As a Vietnam helicopter pilot, he saved lives at the infamous My Lai massacre by threatening to kill Lt. Calley and his soldiers if they didn’t cease slaughtering innocent civilians. Thirty years later, he won a medal for it, and he told the court that Rockwood also deserved one as for his heroic act. He fought for human rights and won, and Boyle relates his testimony for him to laws of war and human rights violations applicable to the Bush administration’s Iraq war, its oppressive occupation, and the actions of its puppet government in Baghdad for which Washington is fully accountable under international law.

It began with an illegal March 19, 2003 “decapitation strike” against Saddam Hussein in violation of a 48 hour ultimatum he’d been given to leave the country with his sons. That crime and trying to assassinate a country’s leader are also illegal under earlier cited international laws.

Next came “shock and awe,” Baghdad was targeted, and Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter was grievously violated. It defines war crimes to include the “wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.” Fallujah and other Iraqi cities were similarly victimized (as were Afghan targets) in spite of a May 8, 2003 joint US-UK pledge to the president of the Security Council: that Coalition states “will strictly abide by their obligations under international law, including those relating to the essential humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq.” Instead, laws are ignored and Iraqis continue to suffer grievously under an illegal, brutish occupation.

It includes the widespread use of torture that became de facto US policy after George Bush’s September 17, 2001 “finding” authorizing CIA to kill, capture and detain “Al Qaeda” members anywhere in the world and rendition them to secret black site prisons for interrogation, presumed to include torture. Soon after on January 25, 2002, White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions “quaint and obsolete,” and it was all downhill from there to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram in Afghanistan and countless other torture prison sites. Included also is a newly revealed secret Guantanamo one called “Camp 7” for “high-value” detainees. It’s gruesome to imagine the barbarity inside under a president claiming “Unitary Executive” powers to do as he pleases outside the law.

In his testimony, Boyle again explained relevant laws that were covered above. US governments and the Pentagon willfully ignore them, George Bush flaunts them, and accountable civilian and military officials to the highest levels are guilty under domestic and international laws of crimes of war and against humanity and peace.

President George W. Bush’s War against Iraq on Trial

US Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia was the first Iraq War veteran to refuse further involvement in the war as a matter of conscience after serving in it from April to October 2003. Following leave on return, he failed to rejoin his National Guard unit and filed for discharge as a conscientious objector on grounds that the invasion and occupation were illegal and immoral. The army, in turn, deliberately overcharged him with desertion to send a strong message to other military personnel that they, too, would be severely punished if they acted similarly.

Mejia’s May 2004 court-martial was a kangaroo-court show trial to drive home the point. It was widely broadcast and reported to all military personnel worldwide on internal Pentagon television, radio and newspaper outlets. Acting improperly, the military judge disallowed prepared defense testimony under the army’s Field Manual 27-10, the Constitution and established international law.

Mejia was found guilty, a year in prison was imposed, and Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, its highest honor. Only after the verdict was Boyle allowed to testify during the sentencing phase – but under strict limitations imposed by the (hanging) judge. Again, he cited relevant domestic, international and military law, reviewed crimes of war and against humanity under them, and explained the culpability of commanders and government officials at the highest levels for abusing and torturing prisoners.

Other military resisters came after Mejia. One was First Lt. Ehren Watada in June 2006 when he refused to deploy to Iraq and publicly stated why – “as an officer of honor and integrity, (he could not participate in a war that was) “manifestly illegal….morally wrong (and) a horrible breach of American law.” By his courageous act, Watada became the first US military officer to face court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq. He was charged with:

— one specification under UCMJ article 87 – missing movement;

— two specifications under article 99 – contempt toward officials (for making public comments about George Bush); and

— three specifications under article 133 – conduct unbecoming an officer.

If convicted on all charges, Watada faced possible dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and seven years in prison. A military equivalent of a grand jury convened on August 17, 2006 to inquire into charges and decide if they were justified. Watada called three expert witnesses in his defense, and chose them well:

— former UN Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator (1997 – 1998) Denis Halliday who resigned under protest because he was “instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide (and already) killed well over one million individuals, children and adults;”

— US Army Colonel Ann Wright who resigned her commission as a foreign service officer in the State Department in March 2003 to protest a “war of aggression (in) violat(ion) of international law;” and

— distinguished Professor Francis Boyle, international law and human rights expert, activist and author of this and many other books on these topics.

On August 22, the Army reported on the proceding and recommended all charges be referred to a general court-martial. It began in February under very constricted rules – denying a First Amendment defense and disallowing one questioning the legality of the war. However, legality issues were impossible to exclude, they directly related to charges brought, and the prosecution introduced them at trial. In addition, Watada firmly stated before testifying that he refused to deploy because of the war’s illegality.

Unable to pressure him not to so testify, the presiding judge declared a mistrial. He’d lost control of the proceeding, knew Watada was on solid ground, and had to prevent his evidence from being introduced to avoid the embarrassing possibility of an acquittal on one or all charges. If it happened, the war’s illegality would have been exposed and its continuation jeopardized.

Under the Fifth Amendment “double jeopardy” clause, Watada cannot be retried on the same charges. It states that no person shall be “subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Watada’s triumph by mistrial was a powerful tribute to his convictions and redoubtable spirit. It’s also an inspiration to civil resisters and all members of the military to follow in his courageous footsteps.

Boyle explains the urgency in his final paragraph that’s a powerful message for everyone: The causes of both world wars “hover like the sword of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.” Civil resistance is our only hope “to prevent WW III and an (inevitable) nuclear holocaust….Toward that end this book has been written.” Read it and act. Apathy isn’t an option.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions on world and national topics with distinguished guests.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8221


Civil Resistance In the Age of Bush & Cheney by William Hughes (Boyle)

Law and Resistance: The Republic in Crisis and the People’s Response by Prof. Francis A. Boyle

US Interventions: 1798 – Present (2005)


Ron Paul grills Bernanke (video)

Dandelion Salad


CNBC Ron Paul grills Bernanke, traders cheering 2008.02.27

Congresman Ron Paul asks questions to Ben Bernanke during FED chairman testimony on 2008.02.27.
CNBC anchor Rick Santelli talks about reaction of traders in Chicago market during Ron Paul questions.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


CNBC Chicago traders cheering for Ron Paul 2008.02.27

CNBC anchor Rick Santelli talks about reaction of traders in Chicago market during Ron Paul questions to FED chairman Ben Bernanke.



A Valediction for the Prince of Sophists (William F. Buckley, Jr. 1925-2008)

The Other Katherine Harris

by The Other Katherine Harris
Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Feb. 27, 2008

“A mind,” as the saying goes, “is a terrible thing to waste.” Damn shame about Bill Buckley’s. Imagine the good he might have done, given worthier aims than enlarging fortunes like his family’s, reviving social restrictions that even his Catholic church considered shopworn by the 1960s and generally stopping the march of history dead in its tracks.

Even at 16, my age when The Firing Line debuted in 1966, I knew his politics were repugnant. Besides defending the increasingly bloody American misadventure in Vietnam and, of course, anything big business and theocrats wanted, he was a foe of the civil rights movement and similarly held that students were too uppity. By then, the world had seen only a few campus sit-ins and minor disruptions, but even this was too much for Buckley, who thought the root of the problem was simply lack of adult discipline. On one of his earliest shows, the actor and folk singer Theodore Bikel countered, “Do you really think we live in… an age where… a parent can obstinately cling to the belief that the values of today are not substantially different from the values of yesterday?” “But the parents are right,” Buckley retorted, to which Bikel laughed, “I knew that you would say that.”

There was seldom a scrap of doubt about what he’d say on any subject. The fun part was how cleverly he often said it. In both the elegance of his demeanor and his choice of words – selected with evident gusto from one of the best-furnished toyboxes around – he’d have been at home in a Noel Coward play, with only a few famous lapses (as when he threatened to punch Gore Vidal for calling him a crypto-fascist).

I’d love to know what Vidal is thinking today, having now outlived the last of his three sparring partners, the others being Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. It was a delight to observe their verbal pummelings – all well within bounds of civility, compared to today’s lying, strident body-slams.

Of course the Fairness Doctrine still applied in those days. Nobody got away with outright falsehood, besides which television wasn’t yet a bastion of anti-intellectualism. It actually brought us live theatre throughout my childhood; Burton played Hamlet in our living rooms and the hosts of talk shows were almost uniformly erudite, the likes of Steve Allen and Dick Cavett.

Buckley set out to match or exceed their class, at a time when conservatism had no such spokesman and, in seeking to legitimize the Robber Barons’ perspective, he presented his opposing views gracefully alongside those of people whom we honestly wanted to watch (John Kenneth Galbraith, David Susskind, Dick Gregory, Hugh Hefner, David Merrick, Dore Schary, Pierre Salinger, Daniel Moynihan, anti-Vietnam activist David Dellinger, James Hoffa, the then-young Senator Al Gore and even Black Panther Huey Newton and counterculture stars Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg). Have a look at some of these program summaries. Only occasionally was his guest a fellow-Republican, until the later years, so this was a brilliant means of worming into wider consciousness, without seeming to be a public menace.

Among those who’ve done our country such vast damage, Buckley was certainly one of the most influential, but not one of the absolute worst. The New Republic was higher-toned before his 1990 retirement, and he had sense enough to favor decriminalizing drugs and to admit failure in Iraq and want us out in 2006.

If we get do-overs, I hope next time he’ll be just as smart and amusing, but on the people’s side.

Mosaic News – 2/26/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Baghdad Condemns Turkish Incursion,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Mauritanian Refugess Return From Senegal,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Swat: Pakistan’s Valley of Violence,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Journalists Pay With Their Lives in Iraq,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Party Flags in Lebanon Overshadow National One,” Future TV, Lebanon
“Veil Debate in Turkey Continues,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Hamas TV Dessiminates Politics to Children,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


Into the Valley of Catastrophe – Barbarians At the Gates

Dandelion Salad

By Manuel Valenzuela
02/27/08 “ICH

Crusade of Surge and Siege, Part Four

From the very beginning, the American crusade of surge and siege – with much of it predating the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; think to early 20th century agreements with Saudi royalty of protection for petroleum, or the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected nationalist leader, or CIA coups and installing of tyranny, or support for Saddam, or provocations of war, or fanning the flames of violence, or importation of billions worth of weapons – has been a catastrophe for the people of the Middle East. For years the United States has guided policy and fates in the region, with its unchallenged domination of and immoral support in the regimes of the Middle East causing a complete devolution of a dynamic, intelligent and proud amalgam of peoples, continuing a stagnation of a civilization that has given humanity so much, and which has so much yet to offer.

It has been the support of tyrants, dictators, generals, kings, princes and sheiks which has had the most profound effect in the lives of tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims, altering, perhaps indefinitely, the very foundations of a culture, and religion, that has for centuries been bombarded by the Judeo-Christian values of the western world. From Napoleon to Hitler, from the British Empire of old to the American Empire of today, from French domination of the Levant to the ceaseless criminality of Little Sparta in Palestine, the Middle East has been invaded, colonized, raped, pillaged, oppressed and exploited by western powers for decades.

It has been divided and torn apart according to the desires of colonial powers; it has been invaded countless times by Christian Crusaders seeking some combination of god and glory, power and control, hegemony and imperialism. Throughout European, and later American, interventions in the region, countless numbers of Arabs and Muslims suffered and died. It has been the west, and not the peoples of the Middle East, that have for centuries been the aggressors, the barbarians at the gates of Muslim cities, those doing the invading and occupying, those raping and pillaging, those with the messianic delusion to convert and civilize and control the Arab world.

It has been the west that thinks itself the superior race, thinking Middle Easterners inferior, sub-human heathens. It has been the west that ignores the plight of the dehumanized and the oppressed, all the while enjoying the spoils of plunder, over time becoming morbidly obese with the gluttony and greed cheap oil engenders.

The people of the Middle East were not, after all, the ones responsible for the Napoleonic Wars, nor the creators of two World Wars, nor the destroyers of entire cities, nor the barbarians giving rise to Holocausts, or thousand year old persecutions, nor the ones responsible for the death of tens of millions of human beings during the 20th century. The people of the Middle East were not planting puppet regimes throughout Europe and the Americas, nor were they wishing to convert, civilize and control the western world. They are not the ones in pursuit of imperialism and hegemony.

They were not bombing and killing and seeking vengeance outside their region until after the Second World War, after America, with help from her allies, decided the Middle East was to become part of its sphere of influence. Indeed, for centuries living in peace and respect, in the same lands, cities and neighborhoods, Arabs of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith have long maintained a balance of tolerance between Muslim majority and Jewish, Christian minorities that has only been disrupted with the arrival, and the manipulations and gross injustice, of the western colonial powers.

For decades preferring to control the region by proxy, in a clandestine manipulation of populations and territory, the United States has become a catastrophe upon the peoples of the Middle East. Its vast assortment of puppets and castrated proctors have proceeded to decimate the lives and futures of millions, over the years maintaining a firm grip over nations through the devastation of freedoms and liberties and rights, along with the implementation of authoritarian and despotic policies. Unwavering in its support of these tyrants, America has condemned millions to the brutality of dictatorships, to the censorship by despots, to the corruption of incompetents, to the regressive policies of control, to the backwardness of monarchs.

Sponsoring Tyranny

Possessing the largest, most plentiful and best developed oil fields known to man, one would be inclined to believe the Middle East a bastion of equality and justice, with standards of living equal to or surpassing those of the industrialized world. We would expect a thriving democracy pregnant with the freedoms and liberties inherent in wealthy nations. We would also expect, as we do with rich European and American nations, that the countries of the Middle East would possess a high degree of education among its population, allowing for rule of law and foundations of secularism to prevail. We would expect a thriving middle class, with employment at levels supportive of such dynamics. We would expect peace and balance.

Instead, in the land of black gold there exists not a shred of democracy, nor an ounce of freedom and liberties, nor an appearance by redistribution of oil wealth. In the lands where humankind first developed civilization, Machiavellian authoritarians rule, police states flourish, and backwardness prevails. Here, where a few elite are reaping the bountiful rewards of having oil below their feet, or having the lands deemed strategic to the Empire, accumulating millions and billions of dollars in profit, building majestic palaces and living the lives of gods, the vast majority struggle to survive and make a decent living. Here, in the land of kingdoms and fiefdoms and gold-plated palaces, the majority of Arabs and Muslims live in indigence, finding work only as the serfs enabling their Arab lords to live in luxury. Millions manage to survive only because their masters throw a few insignificant crumbs and bones their way, a minute sum of the enormous oil and gas windfall they greedily ensnare for themselves.

While millions subsist on meager jobs, millions more struggle to find meaningful employment. Unemployment in the region is therefore high, with military-age males the hardest hit. Without employment there is no source of income to survive; there is no morale to feel proud of; there is no sign of opportunity, no sign of a future. With an education that is insignificant, for that is how kings and dictators want it, millions have no option but to become easy targets to the propaganda and the manipulations of their lords.

Indeed, in order to better control the population, education has become a tool of indoctrination, with millions of dollars invested by the elite into religious institutions that brainwash and mold vulnerable minds to the fantasy of theology and the backwardness of extremist ideology. Subsidized and sponsored by the same kings and tyrants, these schools, rather than move society forward towards progressive goals, instead succeed in devolving into backwardness and fundamentalism. Many Muslims simply have no choice but to attend these schools, for oftentimes they are the only schools around, in the process helping indigent families cope with the realities of daily life.

So long as ignorance prevails, and as long as knowledge and leanings of modernity are sequestered and mired in the inescapable grip of poverty, the Middle East’s despotic leaders will remain secure and without fear of their own people. So long as their people are not educated to the methodical condemnation of their lives by kings and despots, leaders will reign, sitting on the thrones of gold, feasting on the spoils thrown at them by the Empire. This reality the Empire tolerates and even encourages, for a controlled, undereducated and powerless people are more likely to remain compliant and passive than those who see with open eyes the pillage of their land and the injustice of their leaders.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon of fundamentalist religious indoctrination, together with lack of education and feelings of injustice, oppression and inequality lends itself to the fomentation of extremism, just as it does in any culture, especially a form of extremism which lashes out both at domestic despotism and foreign control and support of that same despotic rule. Using fundamentalist theology to manipulate desperate minds experiencing desolate, unfulfilled lives, radical men of Islamic faith reach out to the many whose lives have been castrated by leaders supported by the Empire.

Radicalism in the Middle East, born of frustration, oppression and lack of opportunity, growing due to inequality, unfairness, injustice and persecution, nurtured by a corrupted and hijacked interpretation of modern Islamic faith, and manifesting itself through violent acts of terrorism, is a symptom of the disease called market colonialism, of an imperialism that cares nothing for people living in misery and perpetual suffering, where the west props up and supports and finances its cadre of despots and tyrants in the region, with their full array of crimes against humanity being protected by the Empire itself, at the expense of the native populations, in order to control the region’s, and the world’s, most valuable resource. Turning to Islamic extremism, then, is a symptom of anger, of hopelessness, of the presence of the Empire itself.

Islamic fanaticism, like its American, and Christian counterpart, thrives on the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the ignorant, and in those searching for meaning to lives heavy in suffering and pain. Like all forms of fanaticism, the Islamic variety grows and thrives by listening to the angry and the oppressed, providing answers and solutions that help maintain a semblance of understanding in a cruel world. It is those who have become easily manipulated and easily deceived that fanaticism aims to reach, for in these lost souls new, molded flames can be lit.

Thus, by combining the fanaticism all theologies possess with the living, walking carcasses left behind by America’s propped up tyrants and kings, gorging on the spoils of oil, too greedy to share with their people, together with American interference in the region, a grassroots resistance is birthed that finds solace and solutions in the beliefs of the past, thinking, rightly, that the devastation of their lives is a result of modernity –albeit a debased form of it – and its corruption by authoritarians sponsored by the west.

Deceived by extremism to hate all things western, because the root of their ills is indeed a product of the western world, they fail to see the reality that true fault lies not in western progressiveness, which is humanitarian, communal and universal in nature, but in the despotic character and oppressive policies of leaders that will not free their subjects to the great virtues of real democracy.

Here, America and her puppet allies in the region have made a vital and egregious error, for in inducing high levels of indigence, uneducation and dissatisfaction, in allowing despotism to rule and the voice of the people to disappear, thereby creating a Molotov cocktail of anger and resentment aimed at the Empire and Arab leaders, they have fostered instability and resistance, some in the form of anti-Americanism, some in the form of terrorism, most in the form of a society that grows more eager for change every year. Together with a perception that America has embarked on a Crusade of Surge and Siege against the Muslim world, and that her armies are engaging in mass murder and destruction of Muslim peoples, the only avenue for change is being found inside the mosques of radical ideology.

Error Personified

Instead of giving Middle East populations a larger share of the oil bonanza pie; instead of decreasing the verticality of the hierarchical pyramid, thus making society more just, fair and equal, with better standards of living, better education and more progressiveness; instead of allowing the Empire a just, balanced and reduced access and control to oil; instead of banning the pillage of revenues and resources, where capital benefits only the elite; instead of investing in enlightened education, helping to bring out of darkness millions of minds; instead of using oil revenues and investing in the wellbeing of their people; instead of halting billion dollar purchases in the west’s defense industry, amassing arms for wars that will never come, using weapons sales to funnel petro dollars back to the Empire; instead of alleviating hardship, resentment and anger; instead of sponsoring freedom and liberty and greater rights; instead of abiding by and protecting human rights; instead of encouraging an open, democratic society, the American amalgam of dictators, tyrants, kings, princes, sheiks and generals have done the complete opposite, thereby cementing in stone continued resistance, continued acts of terror, continued anti-Americanism and continued efforts to violently overthrow the region’s rulers.

In order to suppress, repress and control those elements seeking to bring down the region’s tyrannical regimes, the leaders of these states have created a ruthless police state based on oppression, fear, intimidation and paranoia. To combat the anger prevalent in the population, America’s puppets must enhance a surveillance and spying society, creating a police state that has perfected the art of despotic rule. Torture, disappearances, the evisceration of human rights, unlawful arrests, persecution and false imprisonment are but some of the weapons used by these rulers. Yet the Empire maintains firm support of these leaders, a fact not lost on the population at large.

Right to assembly, right to free speech, freedom of the press, the right of habeas corpus, the right to a fair trial, the right of due process and of protections against unreasonable search and seizure are freedoms not afforded to the peoples of the Middle East. These are freedoms and rights America does not care to ask or demand of its puppets. Free elections and the will of the people are but hollow dreams that cannot be given to the masses, for if allowed to vote, tyrants and kings and dictators and generals would be thrown out. To the Empire, democracy is only democracy when the people elect America’s chosen leaders, her new puppet upgrade. If the masses elect someone other than America’s champion, democracy becomes null and void, the will of the people become obsolete and collective punishment becomes policy, and state-sponsored terror. To the Empire, democracy is valid only when fraud or theft returns to power her most loyal and obedient proctors.

The people of the Middle East do not hate the Empire for its freedom and liberties, nor for its way of life. On the contrary, they would love the same freedoms and liberties, the same respect for human rights, and perhaps a better standard of living than they presently enjoy. They hate the Empire for its transgressions in the region, for its continued support for tyranny, for its hypocrisy in talking democracy and systemically supporting despotism, for its rape and pillage of both land and people, for its addiction to oil that has brought nothing but ruin to the people of the region, for its one-sided support for Israel and its apartheid and state-sponsored terrorism in Palestine, for its genocide and destruction of Iraq and its people, for promising Afghan reconstruction but only succeeding in furthering a decline to a failed state, for its quite obvious indifference to the misery and suffering of Arab and Muslim peoples, for its continued Crusade of Surge and Siege that only threatens to engulf the region in flames and further decimate the lives of millions.

Democracy and freedom cannot prosper in these conditions, for despotic rule and free societies are mutually exclusive. In fact, the populations of these nations have very few, if any, freedoms and rights to speak of, and millions are handcuffed to the heavy handed rules and regulations of the state, many of which resemble those of the Middle Ages. When democracy is spoken of, it represents illusions and mirages, not the will of the people, but the charades of the elite. In the Middle East, democracy is a whispered demand, yet an unfulfilled reality. It remains a dream of millions, and an enemy of the few. In the Middle East of reality, and not that of American fiction, tyranny dominates and democracy is nonexistent and all the while, American hypocrisy festers in the mind of the disillusioned.

Of course the United States is fully aware of the methods used by its tyrants to control the population, yet the support, whether diplomatic, financial and militarily, is as constant as it is unwavering. This tacit support of tyranny by the Empire, even when it speaks of bringing freedom and democracy, speaks of the high level of hypocrisy and duplicity inherent in the Empire. That American sponsored tyranny has catapulted the region into backwardness, that it has furthered the evolution of fanaticism, that it has given rise to resistance and terror, that it has made impotent the infinitesimal attempts at building democracy, and that it has created decades of suffering, poverty, oppression and lost opportunity can only be denied, as it usually is, inside the Empire itself. Inside the fires of imperialism, that is to say inside the Middle East, this truth is well known, and understood.

That human beings resent despotism and tyranny is a self-evident truth; that they build resistance and resentment to colonial machinations and imperialist assaults on their lives is earthly reality. That most human beings want simply the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness without barriers or hindrances or the control of the state is an absolute manifestation of who we are. To be human – and yes, the people of the Middle East are, in fact, human – is to seek and want justice, fairness, equality and fundamental human rights. It is to fight oppression and stand for dignity and honor.

What we abhor as a species are illegal, aggressive invasions and brutal occupations of innocent states, exploitations and repression of the individual and criminality and mass murder that is allowed to transpire and go unaccountable. What the people of the Middle East want is exactly what the western world already has. What they want is freedom from imperialism, freedom from tyranny, freedom to exploit their own resources, for their own benefit, for their present and future generations. What they seek is a chance to be human at the dawn of the 21st century.

What they ask is that they be seen the same as any other person in this planet, possessing the same emotions, fears and opinions, the same behaviors and desires. What they seek is the empathy and understanding for the lives they must endure, the tyranny they must live under and the Crusade of Surge and Siege the Empire has imposed on them.

So close your eyes, contemplate reality and not spoon-fed fantasy, envision and empathize, try to understand alien pain and suffering, put yourself in the shoes of the millions being strangulated by the Empire, and prepare to enter the fires of imperialism.

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic, commentator, Internet essayist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com. His essays appear regularly at various alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at manuel@valenzuelas.net.

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Inside the Fires of Imperialism: Crusade of Surge & Siege By Manuel Valenzuela Part 3)

Crusade of Surge & Siege: Homeland Born & Bred By Manuel Valenzuela (Part 1)

Cages of Conquest – Hear No Evil, See No Evil By Manuel Valenzuela (part 2)

The Year of Living Dangerously Part 1 By Manuel Valenzuela

The Year of Living Dangerously Part 2 By Manuel Valenzuela


Manuel Valenzuela

Harmless Plastics? by Guadamour


by Guadamour
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Guadamour’s blog post
Feb. 27, 2008

Emerging research demonstrates that harmful chemicals can leach from plastics when foods are stored or heated in them.

Of particular concern are bisphenol A (BPA), found in polycarbonate products including water and baby bottles, and phthalates, used to make plastics pliable.

Scientists believe these chemicals cause cancer and irreversible organ damage in fetuses and children.

Last fall California banned the manufacture and sale of toys that contain phthalates, following a similar ban by the European Union.

The city of San Francisco has also outlawed childcare products made with phthalates.

These measures seem justified and it is recommended that one use plastics with caution.

Because most plastic water bottles contain BPA, a stainless steel or glass bottle is recommended. To find one of these visit mysigg.com or kleekanteen.com.

Inside The Svalbard Global Seed Vault + “Noah’s Ark” seed vault opens

Dandelion Salad

IRRI ships 35.5 million seeds to Svalbard Global Seed Vault


After months of preparation by staff of the Genetic Resources Center (GRC) at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI; http://www.irri.org ), led by its head Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, a replicate set of the Global Rice Collection from 123 countries held by IRRI left on 21 January for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault or Doomsday Vault. See http://www.croptrust.org/main/arctic…. for more information on the global effort. Continue reading