Friday, September 28, 2007

Wired: Do You Write Like a Terrorist?

You might think your anonymous online rants are oh-so-clever.   But they'll give you away, too.  A federally-funded artificial intelligence lab is figuring out how to track people over the Internet, based on how they write.

The University of Arizona's ultra-ambitious "Dark Web" project "aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web," the National Science Foundation notes.  And that analysis, according to the Arizona Star, includes a program which "identif[ies] and track[s] individual authors by their writing styles." ...

[ full article ]

Chomsky's response to WashPost review of 'Interventions'

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The letter to the Washington Post that follows was written as an experiment, to see just how low the editors would sink in their efforts to block a book containing evidence and analysis that they do not want to reach the public. The letter is a response to a crude and vulgar diatribe, in the form of a review of my collection Interventions. In response, I wrote a point-by-point refutation of each charge, a straightforward matter, as the editors doubtless understand. The letter was sent to the Post immediately, altogether four times, with a request for acknowledgment of receipt. Unpublished, no acknowledgment of receipt. Two weeks after the review appeared, Sept. 16, the Post did publish two letters responding to it. The letters were critical of the review, but acceptable by the standards of the editors, because they left the lies and slanders standing -- the authors could have had no way to refute them without a research project.

I think it is fair to take the editors' silence to demonstrate that they know precisely what they are doing, and are too cowardly even to acknowledge receipt.

- Noam Chomsky

Editor
Washington Post

Jonathan Rauch’s review of my Interventions (WP, Sept. 2) brings to mind Orwell’s famous observations on the “indifference to reality” of the nationalist, who “not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but ..has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Rauch runs through a series of what he regards as “flights into a separate reality” and “tendentious whimsy.” When exposed, a straightforward matter, his charges may appear to be conscious deceit, but are more charitably understood as a textbook illustration of Orwell’s observations.

Rauch is appalled that I should charge Washington with bombing Serbia in 1999 “not to prevent ethnic cleansing but to impose Washington’s neoliberal economic agenda.” I neither made nor endorsed the statement. Rather, I quoted it – accurately, not in his words. The source is a high official of the Clinton administration directly involved in the Kosovo events, describing how events were perceived at the highest level. See p. 179.

Another bit of “tendentious whimsy” is the statement that “North Korea’s counterfeiting racket may actually be a CIA operation.” I neither made nor endorsed the statement, but cited it, accurately, from the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Rauch finds equally appalling the fact that “In Chomsky’s universe, the 2001 U.S. attack on Afghanistan was undertaken with the expectation that it might drive several million people over the edge of starvation.” The statement is precisely accurate. That is why aid agencies bitterly condemned the bombing, joined by leading Afghan opponents of the Taliban, including US favorites. It is also why many months after the bombing ended, Harvard’s leading specialist on Afghanistan, Samina Ahmed, wrote in the Harvard journal International Security that “millions of Afghans are at grave risk of starvation.” That and more is in the book under review, but in these op-eds I did not provide full details that would be familiar to readers of the mainstream press, for example, the increase in estimate of those at the edge of starvation by 50%, to 7.5 million, when the bombing was announced and initiated. If Rauch is indeed unfamiliar with the mainstream press, he can find precise references in books of mine cited here.

Particularly amazing in Rauch’s universe is the idea, in his words, that “President Bush – the first and only U.S. president to declare formal American support for a Palestinian state – is the obstacle to a two-state solution that Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran are all prepared to accept (I am not making that up).” The tiny particle of truth here is that Bush announced his “vision” of a Palestinian state – somewhere, some day, a pale reflection of the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement. Bush did indeed innovate: he is the first president to officially endorse Israeli annexation of the major illegal settlements in the West Bank, a long step backwards from Clinton’s “parameters,” and a death blow to any hope for a viable Palestinian state, as minimal familiarity with the region demonstrates.

In contrast, Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei formally announced that Iran “shares a common view with Arab countries on ... the issue of Palestine,” meaning that Iran accepts the Arab League position: full normalization of relations in terms of the international consensus. “Khamenei has said Iran would agree to whatever the Palestinians decide,” the prominent Iran scholar Ervand Abrahamian observes. If Rauch reads the journal in which he writes, he knows that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniye called for “statehood for the West Bank and Gaza...” (Washington Post, July 11, 2006) There are innumerable other examples, perhaps most important among them the statement of the most militant Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al, in exile in Damascus, calling for “the establishment of a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967” (Guardian, Feb. 23, 2007). Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly stated that as a Lebanese organization, Hezbollah will not disrupt anything agreed to by the Palestinians.

Much as it may distress the nationalist, on this matter the positions of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah are more moderate – that is, closer to the long-standing international consensus – than those of the US and Israel.

In Rauch’s universe, Washington “tolerates a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq whose Shiite government is friendly toward Iran.” No comment should be necessary for readers of the daily press.

That exhausts Rauch’s charges. Orwell triumphs again.

It is perhaps not surprising that Rauch’s furious exertions did not unearth even a misplaced comma. As he knows, the op-eds passed through New York Times fact checking. There might be a lesson there for the journal in which he is a senior writer.

Noam Chomsky

Link

Excerpt: The Golden Verses of Pythagoras

Of diverse beings thou shalt sound the essence;
And thou shalt know the principle and end of All.
If Heaven wills it, thou shalt know that Nature,
Alike in everything, is the same in every place:
So that, as to thy true rights enlightened,
Thine heart shall no more feed on vain desires.
Thou shalt see that the evils which devour men
Are of their choice the fruit; that these unfortunates
Seek afar the goodness whose source within they bear.
For few know happiness: playthings of the passions,
Hither, thither tossed by adverse waves,
Upon a shoreless sea, they blinded roll,
Unable to resist or to the tempest yield.

      - - -

God! Thou couldst save them by opening their eyes.
But no: ‘tis for the humans of a race divine
To discern Error and to see the Truth.
Nature serves them. Thou who fathomed it,
O wise and happy man, rest in its haven.
But observe my laws, abstaining from the things
Which thy soul must fear, distinguishing them well;
Letting intelligence o’er thy body reign,
So that, ascending into radiant Ether,
Midst the Immortals, thou shalt be thyself a God.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/ogv/index.htm

The Legend of Star Boy - the Christ legend of the Blackfeet

[... "When Poïa became a young man, he loved a maiden of his own tribe. She was very beautiful and the daughter of a leading chief. Many of the young men wanted to marry her, but she refused them all. Poïa sent this maiden a present, with the message that he wanted to marry her, but she was proud and disdained his love. She scornfully told him, she would not accept him as her lover, until he would remove the scar from his face. Scarface was deeply grieved by the reply. He consulted with an old medicine woman, his only friend. She revealed to him, that the scar had been placed on his face by the Sun God, and that only the Sun himself could remove it. Poïa resolved to go to the home of the Sun God. The medicine woman made moccasins for him and gave him a supply of pemmican.

"Poïa journeyed alone across the plains and through the mountains, enduring many hardships and great dangers. Finally he came to the Big Water (Pacific Ocean). For three days and three nights he lay upon the shore, fasting and praying to the Sun God. On the evening of the fourth day, he beheld a bright trail leading across the water. He travelled this path until he grew near the home of the Sun, when he hid himself and waited. In the morning, the great Sun Chief came from his lodge, ready for his daily journey. He did not recognise Poïa. Angered at beholding a creature from the earth, he said to the Moon, his wife, 'I will kill him, for he comes from a good-for-nothing-race,' but she interceded and saved his life. Morning Star, their only son, a young man with a handsome face and beautifully dressed, came forth from the lodge. He brought with him dried sweet grass, which he burned as incense. He first placed Poïa in the sacred smoke, and then led him into the presence of his father and mother, the Sun and the Moon. Poïa related the story of his long journey, because of his rejection by the girl he loved. Morning Star then saw how sad and worn he looked. He felt sorry for him and promised to help him.

"Poïa lived in the lodge of the Sun and Moon with Morning Star. Once, when they were hunting together, Poïa killed seven enormous birds, which had threatened the life of Morning Star. He presented four of the dead birds to the Sun and three to the Moon. The Sun rejoiced, when he knew that the dangerous birds were killed, and the Moon felt so grateful, that she besought her husband to repay him. On the intercession of Morning Star, the Sun God consented to remove the scar. He also appointed Poïa as his messenger to the Blackfeet, promising, if they would give a festival (Sun-dance) in his honour, once every year, he would restore their sick to health. He taught Poïa the secrets of the Sun-dance, and instructed him in the prayers and songs to be used. He gave him two raven feathers to wear as a sign that he came from the Sun, and a robe of soft-tanned elk-skin, with the warning that it must be worn only by a virtuous woman. She can then give the Sun-dance and the sick will recover. Morning Star gave him a magic flute and a wonderful song, with which he would be able to charm the heart of the girl he loved.

"Poïa returned to the earth and the Blackfeet camp by the Wolf Trail (Milky Way), the short path to the earth. When he had fully instructed his people concerning the Sun-dance, the Sun God took him back to the sky with the girl he loved. When Poïa returned to the home of the Sun, the Sun God made him bright and beautiful, just like his father, Morning Star. 1 In those days Morning Star and his son could be seen together in the east. Because Poïa appears first in the sky, the Blackfeet often mistake him for his father, and he is therefore sometimes called Poks-o-piks-o-aks, Mistake Morning Star.

"I remember," continued Brings-down-the-Sun, "when I was a young man, seeing these two bright stars rising, one after the other, before the Sun. Then, if we were going on a war, or hunting expedition, my father would awake me, saying, 'My son, I see Morning Star and Young Morning Star in the sky above the prairie. Day will soon break and it is time we were started.' For many years these stars have travelled apart. I have also seen them together in the evening sky. They went down after the sun. This summer, Morning Star and Poïa are again travelling together. I see them in the eastern sky, rising together over the prairie before dawn. Poïa comes up first. His father, Morning Star, rises soon afterwards, and then his grandfather, the Sun.

"Morning Star was given to us as a sign to herald the coming of the Sun. When he appears above the horizon, we know a new day is about to dawn. Many medicine men have dreamed of the Sun, and of the Moon, but I have never yet heard of one so powerful as to dream of Morning Star, because he shows himself in the sky for such a short time. ...]

Excerpt from 'The Old North Trail'

The Nation: Protecting the Wiretappers

Bowing to White House pressure, Congress passed the 2007 Protect America Act in August, eviscerating any meaningful checks and balances on a sweeping range of governmental surveillance. Now that it has protected telecommunications giants from all future liabilities, the Administration is demanding they be granted amnesty from legal liability for past complicity in spying on ordinary Americans.

The professed reasons for protecting commmunications giants from liability in secret wiretapping are no less disingenuous now than they were when these rightfully defeated provisions were first proposed after 9/11. Rather than promoting security, the push for telecom amnesty furthers the larger ideological ambitions of the Bush Administration: expanding government power while choking off accountability for the way that power is used.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell and his allies offer four main arguments in support of the amnesty proposals, each more vacuous than the next.

First, McConnell argues that lawsuits could "bankrupt" the companies. If McConnell is to be believed, we must choose between our civil liberties and our cell phones...

[ full article ]

The Octopus in the Cathedral of Salt

When the trumpet sounded,
everything was prepared on earth,
and Jehovah divided the world
among Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other corporations:
The United Fruit Company Inc.
reserved for itself the juiciest piece,
the central coast of my own land,
the sweet waist of America.
—Pablo Neruda, “The United Fruit Co.”

"...On November 5, 2001, four years after the AUC arrived in Urabá, a mysterious shipment of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition arrived at the Chiquita docks, a lethal cargo that went directly to the AUC commanders. Aside from an Organization of American States (OAS) report that focused on the two Israeli arms dealers who arranged the deal from Guatemala and Panama, there have been few details to emerge about how the weapons were handled on the Colombian side. It is also true that people directly associated with the shipment have had a tendency to disappear. The Mexican captain of the Otterloo, Jesús Iturrios Maciél, sailed with the ship on November 9 to Barranquilla and then vanished. The shipping company that owned the Otterloo closed its offices in Panama a few days after news of the weapons broke in a Colombian newspaper. The information in the OAS report suggests that someone formed the company just to deliver the weapons to the AUC.

In a front-page deal reached with the US government this year, Chiquita pleaded guilty to making millions of dollars in payments to a group on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations: the AUC. Lawyers for the company argued that they were forced into making the payments out of fear for the safety of its workers. Chiquita also admitted that they had a similar arrangement with the FARC. The result of the plea deal was a $25 million fine for a business that earned $3.9 billion in revenue in 2006, and there were no charges filed over the weapons shipment. It is not surprising that Chiquita Brands was forced to make protection payments to armed groups operating around their plantations, but that is not the entire story.

In March 2007, Chiquita told CNN that the weapons shipment and the protection payments to the paramilitaries were unrelated. This may well be true—the weapons shipments to the AUC were connected to a dark series of events at the company’s port. The Colombian government cast doubt on the company’s claims of being the victim of extortion by the AUC. Mario Iguarán, the Colombian attorney general, said, “It was a criminal relationship: money and arms for the bloody pacification of Urabá.” ..."

[ full article ]

Bogota Connection 'Informant' Baruch Vega Sues U.S. Government

"...This Bogotá Connection was revealed in a series of government documents uncovered by Narco News, including an internal U.S. Justice Department document known as the Kent memo, which advances detailed allegations of a criminal conspiracy involving corrupt U.S. law enforcers who operated in league with key Colombian narco-traffickers.

Vega was very involved with some of the U.S. law enforcement operations referenced in the Kent memo. Those particular operations played out between 1997 and 2000 and sought to snare narco-traffickers with Colombia’s infamous North Valley Cartel.

Vega claims that corrupt U.S. agents that are part of the Bogotá Connection seriously compromised his role as a government asset and that a number of his informants within Colombia’s narco-trafficking underworld were assassinated as a result.

Vega also contends that he has intimate knowledge of the alleged corruption outlined in the Kent memo.

Justice Department attorney Thomas M. Kent wrote the memo in late 2004 in an effort to draw attention to alleged serious corruption within the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. In the memo, Kent alleges that DEA agents in Bogotá assisted narco-traffickers, engaged in money laundering, and conspired to murder informants..."

[ full article ]

Coleen Rowley: Is Spineless Better Than Evil?

"...Which brings us to the question: IS spineless better than evil? I hate to keep lecturing about this but as an ethics-teacher, and this hopefully being a teachable moment, . . .

Spineless IS better than evil. But spinelessness is characterized by silence and silence is complicity. Inaction is also complicity. The Kitty Genovese stabbing incident exposes how and why bystander apathy works. It is not true apathy but only (temporary) denial of an ugly, unpleasant truth (that a woman's screams could possibly mean someone is being stabbed right below one's window, in one's own alley) and (temporary) confusion as to what to do about it. People are unprepared for such relatively unusual (and horrible) events. And this accounts for both their lack of initial vigilance as well as their inability to react quickly. So in the Kitty Genovese case, thirty eight otherwise good people ignored the sounds of a woman being stabbed but it wasn't because they didn't care. It was primarily because they hadn't practiced for such an event. They hadn't previously carefully considered what to do in such a situation.

Perhaps the most profound lesson of the last century's most horrible event, the Holocaust was: "Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." The man judged to be smartest of the last century, Albert Einstein, similarly said, "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." These quotes certainly don't mean that any one bystander is worse than any particular perpetrator or evil doer. What they mean is that the perpetrators are few in number while the bystanders are many and could easily stop the perpetrators if they only tried. Unfortunately this sad lesson of history seems to be repeating and, Holocaust museum sign nothwithstanding, few remember it..."

[ full article ]

Dark Age Blog: Life in "The New Normal"

"... The new normal represents, in effect (apart from the madness), the transition from the social security state to the national security state. This may appear to be a confidently aggressive posture (with terrible implications for the practice of democracy). But that is all superficial Wizard of Oz gimmickry. The move from a social security to a national security posture is a highly defensive and even reactionary one -- the response of fear and uncertainty and the reaction to a sense of fracture and disintegration -- anything but assured and confident. The Modern Era (or Western Era) feels threatened and even besieged by the emerging Global Era. This is reflected in the West's declining and dominant share of global power over the last decade or two. The new normal in fact looks a lot like the last years of the Roman Empire.

When all the elements making for "life in the new normal" are factored together, the picture that emerges is not one of renewal, rejuvenation, and confidence, but one of decline. The condition of "permanent change" appears to be one of steady erosion and corrosion of an "old normal" of past standards and ideals. The apparent paradigm shift from a social security state to a national security state would seem to be involved in all descriptions of "the new normal" as the new rule.

But what this shift leaves completely out of account is the recently emergent paradigm of "human security" that has arisen in conjunction with globalism itself, and which transcends, by virtue of being more encompassing, older categories of "society" and "nation". If the only valid criteria for any measure of "normal" is, that it must span more than one generation in time and more than one locale in space in order to be considered "real", then only the paradigm of "human security" actually meets that standard of authenticity currently. Just as the Global Era represents the supersession of the Modern Era, so the concept of "human security" represents the supersession of both social and national security categories by virtue of its being more embracing of all notions of security. ..."
 

William Rivers Pitt: Dan Rather's Magnum Opus

[...]

"What emerges here," writer Greg Sargent concludes on the Talking Points Memo blog, "is a striking portrait of a big news org that, fearful of pressure from conservative critics and eager to curry favor with the Bush administration, allegedly dragged its feet to an extraordinary degree in order to avoid revealing the truths it knew about a horrifying scandal of international dimensions. Sobering stuff."

Sobering indeed, and therein lies the threat. The willful collusion between CBS management and the Bush administration, offered by Rather to frame his accusations, illuminate an insidious, grotesque, and altogether deadly alignment of circumstances hiding in plain sight before the entire American populace. An explanation for why the legitimate fears and anxious uncertainties of the people are never soothed or clarified by mainstream news outlets like CBS, but are instead methodically aggravated and intentionally amplified by those outlets, begins to take shape in light of Rather's inside-view revelations.

Underscored here, in no uncertain terms, are the grim realities of modern American journalism, realities that have little to do with the original conception of the institution. While a number of the Founders were not especially enamored with the printed slings and arrows of the journalists of their day, they were united in the belief that a free and honest press was absolutely necessary to the safety and liberty of the country. "The only security of all," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1823, "is in a free press."

American democracy ceases to function when people blither their votes into ballot boxes on the basis of opinions and ideologies that are swaddled in the beggar-rags of ubiquitous disinformation and bewilderingly muddled cant, but such is now and has long been this nation's common plight. Today's "free press," however, bears little resemblance to the conceived constitutional bulwark cherished by the Founders.

In its place, we now have a tightly-woven confederation of profit-seeking businesses that own virtually every print and broadcast news outlet of significance in the country. There is but scant allegiance to the truth found within these outlets, because their foremost priority when reporting on most issues of national consequence is to protect the interests of those parent companies and their advertisers.

[...]

[ full article ]

Fighting Kleptocracy (no comment)

David M. Luna On Strategies To Fight Kleptocracy


David M. Luna
Director for Anti-Crime Programs Division, INL
Washington, DC
September 26, 2007

Strategies To Fight Kleptocracy

The United States seeks to engage and cooperate with committed partners in the global fight against corruption. The strategies outlined in the following article provide an overview of U.S. Government and international efforts to combat corruption, in particular high-level corruption (kleptocracy), international cooperation on the recovery the proceeds of crime, preventive areas to check the misuse of power and public funds, and innovative public-private partnerships to mobilize attention and target corruption at all levels of society.

The Adverse Impact of Corruption to the Global Community

The United States Government places a high priority on combating global corruption and views it as a threat to development and prosperity of all nations. Corruption jeopardizes the integrity of world markets, the stability of political systems, and the security of the international community. It impedes efforts to promote freedom and democracy, stymies economic growth and foreign investment, and saps energies from innovation, competitiveness, and entrepreneurial and technological advancement strategies.

It also facilitates transnational crime and terrorism, and casts shadows of lawlessness that erode public trust and the rule of law.

Corruption robs nations of their future and people of their dreams by misappropriating public investment away from development areas that need it most, such as public sector modernization, infrastructure and social development including quality access to water, sanitation, education, healthcare, and housing.

Earlier this month, the World Bank and United Nations in a press release estimated that the cross-border flow of global illicit proceeds related to corruption, criminal activities, and tax evasion is between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion per year. This is an enormous loss of economic potential and social development investment.

High-level corruption by senior officials, or kleptocracy, is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most invidious type of public corruption.

As President George W. Bush underscored in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007, the U.S. and other nations are transforming the way we fight poverty, curb corruption, and provide aid. The United States is committed to developing strong partnerships, based on shared values that underpin good governance principles, which will encourage honest, responsible government and reward those that govern justly, invest in their people, and foster economic openness and freedom.

Corruption is not just an American problem nor a European or an Asian one. It is not a problem that is unique to any one region or country. It is a global challenge.

Political Will: U.S. Efforts to Prevent and Combat Domestic Corruption

No one is above the law: The U.S. takes the issue of fighting corruption seriously as demonstrated by the strong actions of our law enforcement community over the past several years to prosecute public corruption scandals in the United States.

Over the five-year period from 2001 to 2005, the most recent period for which we have data, the Justice Department charged over 5,749 individuals with public corruption offenses nationwide and obtained an 85% conviction rate.

In addition to prosecution, the United States also devotes substantial resources to the prevention and detection of corruption. By focusing attention and resources on programs promoting transparency and accountability, we can make it more difficult for corrupt practices to occur and easier to detect.

Particularly important aspects of prevention include publicly available personal financial reporting by senior federal officials including all elected officials, all judges and all senior political and career appointees. The requirements include substantial financial and fiduciary information for the official and financial information for the official's spouse and dependent children.

Even prior to government service, an individual who is being considered for appointment by the President to a position in the executive branch is asked to file a financial report as a part of an initial screening process. The report is reviewed for purposes of conflicts of interest by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and the agency in which the individual would serve.

If the review detects potential conflicts, the individual is asked to enter into a written agreement outlining the steps he or she must take to avoid these conflicts. Those steps may include selling certain assets, resigning from outside positions, agreeing to recuse or, possibly entering into a blind trust.

Complementing these prevention programs are significant enforceable procedural systems promoting consistency and transparency: These include general requirements for standardized and public administrative processes and licenses; public legislative processes that follow standardized rules; public judicial proceedings that follow standardized procedures; public budgeting processes and internal financial controls; a large merit-based civil service; and rights for public access to information regarding most government activities. In addition, the activities of the federal government are conducted under the watchful eye of an active and free press.

Similar to the critical role of civil society watchdogs, a free media can be an important tool against corruption by shining the light on criminality and abuses of power.

U.S. Efforts to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy

In addition to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting corruption at home, we are working to stem corruption around the world. Promoting good governance and fighting corruption are important foreign policy priorities for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

As noted earlier, the United States, through the Group of Eight (G8) and other multilateral fora, is committed to working with dedicated partners to strengthen the political will and resolve to establish transparent and accountable governance, empower citizens to demand efficient use of state resources and the fair use of regulatory and judicial powers, prosecute high-level public corruption, deny safe haven to corrupt officials, those who corrupt them, and their illicitly-acquired assets, and ensure responsible repatriation and use of the ill-gotten funds.

In August 2006, President Bush unveiled the U.S. National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy.

This strategy further elevated the global discussion on the fight against corruption by putting kleptocrats on notice, focusing attention to high-level, large-scale corruption by public officials, increasing the public-private partnership dialogue on accountability on both the demand and supply side of the issue, and ushering new areas for targeting the proceeds of grand corruption through international cooperation to deny safe haven and asset recovery.

In order to implement its strategic objectives to combat kleptocracy, the United States is:

* launching a coalition of committed partners to trace and recover the proceeds of grand corruption;

* vigorously prosecuting foreign corruption offenses and forfeit illicitly acquired assets;

* denying physical safe haven to corrupt individuals;

* strengthening multilateral action against the bribery of kleptocrats;

* facilitating the effective disposition and administration of recovered assets for the benefit of the citizens of countries victimized by grand corruption; and

* targeting enhanced capacity to fight high-level corruption

Another key tool in our strategies to deny safe havens to kleptocrats is Presidential Proclamation 7750, issued on January 12, 2004, that allows the United States to deny or revoke visas to individuals involved in public corruption that has serious adverse effects on specific U.S. interests, including: (1) the international economic activity of U.S. businesses, (2) U.S. foreign assistance goals, (3) the security of the United States against transnational crime and terrorism, or (4) the stability of democratic nations and institutions.

The United States is engaged internationally to protect the financial system from abuse by those who would launder the proceeds of foreign official corruption and to identify, trace, freeze, recover, and repatriate such illicitly acquired assets.

We continue to take and promote measures to press our international partners to deny entry to corrupt foreign officials; increase transparency in budgeting, concession-letting, and procurement; improve governance and accountability; investigate and prosecute their nationals and companies that bribe or promise to bribe foreign public and political party officials; and strengthen anti-bribery and accountability disciplines on export credits and official development assistance.

For example, we are also aggressively investigating those U.S. companies and individuals engaged in bribing and otherwise corrupting foreign government officials. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it a serious federal crime to bribe foreign government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Enforcing the FCPA is a major priority for the United States.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the OECD Working Group on Bribery provide important avenues for the United States to cooperate with counterparts outside the US to combat bribery in international business transactions.

Combating money laundering and the web of corruption related to it is also a top priority as is the corruption-crime nexus.

Today we also find ourselves in a rapidly changing world - we face numerous threats that undermine our common stability and security. In effectively combating corruption, we must also confront related illicit activities such as financial crimes. Kleptocrats, criminals and other illicit actors launder the fruits of their crimes through a variety of ways.

Similarly, weak financial measures and lack of transparency demonstrated by certain kleptocratic regimes may provide an opportunity for terrorists to use vulnerable points in the global financial system to move funds to finance their terrorist activities.

The United States is committed to work with other international partners to identify, interdict, block, and cut off the financial pipelines to all corrupt individuals, criminal organizations, and illicit networks through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other diplomatic and enforcement avenues.

Similarly, we support the global initiative launched on September 17, 2007, by the World Bank and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to help developing countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders, ensure that looted assets are returned to the rightful owners, help communities to invest them in effective development programs, and to combat safe havens internationally.

International Cooperation: Strengthening the Implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption

The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) also offers a good tool and opportunity to strengthen international cooperation. The Convention is the most ambitious international anti-corruption effort to date.

It includes fundamental principles that are crucial in the fight against corruption. Those principles include requiring or recommending criminalization of certain corrupt behavior, and requiring international cooperation on anti-corruption efforts. It also calls for governance improvements that will help prevent corrupt acts from occurring.

Additionally, the Convention establishes the first ever comprehensive framework for recovery of illicit assets sent or taken abroad by corrupt officials. Many countries saw the problem of corrupt officials acquiring assets illicitly and hiding those assets in foreign safe havens as the core problem that the Convention should address.

Implementation is now underway following a successful first meeting of the Conference of States Parties in the Dead Sea, Jordan in December 2006.

Heading to the second Conference of States Parties to be held in Bali, Indonesia in January 2008, the U.S. looks forward to working with the States Parties in the context of the three working groups created by the Conference: technical assistance, asset recovery and review mechanism working groups.

We believe that each one of these groups is capable of developing a practical, concrete plan for moving the Convention forward that balances the need to respect the sovereignty of States Parties with the need to make the Convention a meaningful and relevant instrument.

U.S. Foreign Assistance and Anticorruption Capacity Building

The U.S. helps other governments to prevent corruption and increase transparency, improve good governance, combat money laundering, and prosecute transnational crime by providing technical assistance and training, and strengthening criminal justice systems and capacities of law enforcement agencies. Such assistance helps to enhance the ability of foreign governments to enhance public administration and to address their own crime challenges before these threats extend across international borders.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) includes anticorruption efforts a central part of its foreign assistance strategy and takes a broad approach to assisting partner countries to strengthen their systems to resist corruption. USAID's anticorruption programs are designed to help reduce opportunities and incentives for corruption; support stronger and more independent judiciaries, legislatures, and oversight bodies; and promote independent media, civil society, and public education.

The State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Affairs helps support capacity-building and training for police, investigators, prosecutors, judges, ethics offices, auditors, inspectors general, and other oversight, regulatory and law enforcement systems at the national and local levels of government. INL's International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) around the world also help to provide targeted training on various anticrime areas.

INL also helps to support the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training which provides assistance to strengthen criminal justice institutions in other nations and enhancing the administration of justice abroad and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) which provides assistance to police forces in developing countries through the world to strengthen police investigative capacities.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is providing a powerful incentive for governments to adopt tough anticorruption policies and strengthen their anticorruption institutions. In implementing the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the MCC works to lift people around the world out of poverty through economic growth and incentives for governance reform.

MCC offers grant assistance to developing countries that are willing to implement tough anticorruption reforms. As a result, countries are taking it upon themselves to pass stronger anticorruption laws, strengthen oversight institutions, open up the public policy-making process to greater public scrutiny, and step up corruption-related investigations and prosecutions.

Conclusion

In closing, the United States will continue to increase international cooperation to identify and prevent access by kleptocrats to financial systems; to deny safe haven to corrupt officials; to identify, recover and return proceeds of corruption; and to provide anticorruption assistance for capacity and training to strengthen critical law enforcement and rule of law systems.

We also look forward to continuing our partnership with those who are committed to prosecuting the battle against corruption including the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

We believe that a strong anticorruption regime is also vital to U.S. strategic partnerships that focus on cooperation on numerous fields including commerce, trade and investment, high-technology, and democracy promotion.

Finally, fighting corruption is an ongoing and deliberate process. Working together through synergies and partnerships, including with international donors, we can create a better future by continuing a united effort against corruption and building communities throughout the world where all individuals can be governed with the highest levels of integrity.

Through a renewed commitment to anticorruption and integrity, people can transform their communities, build enduring foundations for future generations to expose and punish corruption, and leave a legacy for their children anchored on the values of honest governance, openness, just conduct, free media, and the rule of law.

[ Source ]

Secrecy News: State Dept Classifies Report on Iraqi Corruption

After a congressional committee requested a copy of an unclassified internal State Department report on corruption in the Iraqi government (pdf), the Department classified the report and declined to provide it. But the document is in the public domain and widely accessible.

"The State Department initially informed Committee staff that the reports were designated 'sensitive but unclassified',' wrote Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pdf).

"After receiving the Committee's inquiry, however, the State Department retroactively classified the documents and refused to provide them voluntarily to the Committee."

"The Committee subpoenaed the documents last week, but they still have not been provided to the Committee in either classified or unclassified form," Mr. Waxman complained.

The primary document at issue is an assessment of Iraqi corruption that was prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The document was first reported in The Nation magazine last month, and it was published last week on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

"Obviously, the State Department's position on this matter is ludicrous," wrote Rep. Waxman.

"If there is widespread corruption within the Maliki government, this is information that both Congress and the public are entitled to know."

But according to State Department officials, "any information about corruption within the Maliki government must be treated as classified because public discussions could undermine U.S. relations with the Maliki government."

[ original article ]

Sociopathic.Net: 'The 3D Society'

"...It can be said that the majority of society sees the world in 2D. Although I agree with this stereotypical view, I have to say, what about the other small minority that see life in 3D. What makes them able to interpret what many don’t understand or even contemplate about thinking? This article is about the unspoken part, it is about the enlightened people that fall into the category of viewing life in extreme depth, viewing life in 3D. I suppose the biggest question would be; how are these people different to the majority. This is not an easy task to explain due to the complexity of the topic, but I shall try and clarify some of the key issues. Being able to see the world in 3D, sometimes is described as being very articulate or even gifted. People assume that being in this group makes you abnormally intelligent. In my understanding this yet, has not been proven scientifically. I believe that these people do have a complex way of thinking, but I don’t think that this has a direct correlation with being a genius. This summary on the 3D society is to give a general understanding, an introduction to people who want to know more about this way of thinking or even who want to know more about themselves. In my belief I strongly think that these people are born with this gift. Unlike text book learning, I don’t think that this way of thinking can be taught. You can’t read a book then graduate with a degree in 3D thinking, but you can better your understanding through the study of society and conditions that are placed on people. Although 3D people may or may not do the best academically, their mysterious logic puts them in a new class altogether (The 3D class)..."
 

Scott Ritter: Iraq wil have to wait

Thursday 27 September 2007

    The long-awaited "progress report" of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the status of the occupation of Iraq has been made, providing Americans, via the compliant media, with the spectacle of loyal Bush yes men offering faith-based analysis in lieu of fact-based assessment. In the days and weeks that have since passed, two things have become clear: Neither Congress nor the American people (including the antiwar movement) have a plan or the gumption to confront President Bush in anything more than cosmetic fashion over the war in Iraq, and while those charged with oversight mill about looking to score cheap political points and/or save face, the administration continues its march toward conflict with Iran unimpeded.

    Bush responded to the Petraeus report by indicating that he would be inclined to start reducing the level of U.S. forces in Iraq sometime soon (maybe December, maybe the spring of 2008). But the bottom line is that the troop levels in Iraq keep expanding, as does the infrastructure of perpetual occupation. The Democrats in Congress are focused on winning the White House in 2008, not stopping a failed war, and as such they not only refuse to decisively confront the president on Iraq, they are trying to out-posture him over who would be the tougher opponent of an expansionist Iran.

    Here's the danger: While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition.

    Of the two problems (the reality of Iraq, the potential of Iran), Iran is by far the more important. The war in Iraq isn't going to expand tenfold overnight. By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush's bad policy will simply keep failing. War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented. We are talking about the potential for conflict at this time, not the reality of war. But time is not on the side of peace.

    Three story lines unfolded earlier this month which underscore just how easily manipulated the American people, via the media, are when it comes to the issues of Iran and weapons of mass destruction. In the first, Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq, let it be known that U.S. forces had captured a "known operative" of the "Ramazan Corps," the ostensible branch of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command responsible for all Iranian operations inside Iraq. This "operative," one Mahmudi Farhadi, was, according to Fox, the "linchpin" behind the smuggling of "sophisticated weapons" into Iraq by the Quds Force.

    We've heard this story before. In January of this year a similar raid by U.S. forces in Irbil netted six Iranians, five of whom are still in U.S. custody. Senior American officials let it be known that these Iranians were likewise members of the Quds Force, and included that organization's operations director. All were tied to the (unspecified) transfer of arms and munitions into Iraq from Iran. The Iranian government claimed, and the Iraqi government confirmed, that the detained Iranians were all attached to a trade mission in Irbil, where they oversaw legitimate commerce between Iran and Iraq along the Kurdish frontier.

    The United States continues to hold the Iranians prisoner, undoubtedly subjecting them to "special treatment" in order to elicit some sort of confession, if our handling of other Iranian diplomats previously captured in Iraq is any guide. Their release any time soon is unlikely, given the impact a de facto admission that the Bush administration got it wrong would have on the overall case against Iran it is trying to build. The fate of Farhadi is likewise up in the air. None other than Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, a staunch pro-American, condemned the detention of Farhadi by U.S. military forces, noting that the Iranian was a well-known businessman who was in Iraq as part of an official trade delegation. The Iranians have threatened to close down cross-border trade in Talabani's sector of Iraqi Kurdistan, shutting down a key income stream for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Iraqi Kurdish faction Talabani heads. Such is the reality of modern Iraq.

    But this reality is nowhere to be found in the White House. The president himself has led the charge, as recently as this past August, when in a speech to the American Legion's national convention in Reno, Nev., Bush threw down the gauntlet against Iran, declaring, "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities ... the Iranian regime must halt these actions." His remarks were built on assertions he first set forth in February 2007 when he highlighted his assessment of Iranian involvement inside Iraq. At that time the president declared, "I can say with certainty that the Quds Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs [improvised explosive devices] that have harmed our troops." Bush avoided direct implication of the Iranian regime, stating, " ... I do not know whether or not the Quds Force was ordered from the top echelons of the government. But my point is, what's worse - them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?" I might suggest that the American president putting the weight of the United States behind unsubstantiated speculation in order to build a case for war might, in fact, be worse, but since he got away with it regarding Iraqi WMD, why stop now?

    In March 2007 the U.S. military paraded yet another general-cum-spokesperson before the assembled media, where it was announced that the United States had captured Qais Khazali, the head of the mysteriously named "Khazali network," together with one Ali Musa Daqduq, an alleged Lebanese Hizbollah mastermind who helped plan and facilitate the actions of the Khazali network, including, it seems, an attack on U.S. forces in Karbala in January 2007 which left five American soldiers dead. This attack, in which insurgents dressed in U.S. military uniforms, drove vehicles similar to those used by the U.S. military and sported U.S. identification documents and weapons, has been linked to Iran by many in the U.S., citing nothing more than the level of sophistication involved as proof.

    The golden nugget in this story was Ali Musa Daqduq. According to the U.S. military, he was a 24-year member of the Lebanese Hizbollah Party possessing extensive contacts with the Iranian Quds Force. The U.S. military referred to Daqduq as a proxy or surrogate of the Quds Force in Iraq. An alleged "special forces commander" and bodyguard to none other than Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah in Lebanon, Daqduq was alleged to have been ordered to Iraq in 2005 for the purpose of coordinating training and operations on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command. Daqduq supposedly helped the Iranians by training, together with the Quds Force and the Lebanese Hizbollah operatives, teams of 20 to 60 Iraqi insurgents at secret bases just outside Tehran.

    With this plethora of specificity, however, comes only one item sourced directly from Ali Musa Daqduq himself - that the Iraqi insurgents responsible for the January attack on American forces in Karbala could not have conducted such a complex operation without the support and direction of the Iranian Quds Force. Daqduq wasn't quoted as saying the Iranian Quds Force was in fact involved, but simply that, in his opinion, such an operation could not have been conducted without the knowledge of the Quds Force. This, of course, brings us back full circle to the immediate period after the attack in Karbala, when U.S. military sources speculated that such an attack had to have been planned by Iran given its complexity. Nothing else is directly attributed to Daqduq, leaving open the question of sourcing and authenticity of the information being cited by the U.S. military.

    From speculation to speculation, the case against the Quds Force by the Bush administration continues to lack anything in the way of substance. And yet the mythological Daqduq has become a launching platform for even graver speculation, fed by the media themselves, that the highest levels of leadership in Iran were aware of the activities of Daqduq and the Quds Force, and are thus somehow complicit in the violence. Not one shred of evidence was produced to sustain such serious accusations, and yet national media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post both ran stories repeating these accusations. Politicians are formulating policy based upon such baseless accusations, and the American public continues to be manipulated into a predisposition for war with Iran largely because of such speculation. No one seems to pay attention to the fact that the U.S. military itself has subsequently contradicted its own briefings, noting in July 2007 that no persons had been captured by the United States that can provide a direct link between insurgents in Iraq and Iran. Again, in August of 2007, the U.S. military stated that it had yet to catch anyone smuggling weapons into Iraq from Iran.

    And what of Daqduq himself? It seems that his Iraqi sponsor, Qais Khazali, had fallen out of favor with Muqtada al-Sadr over the strategic direction being taken, and sometime in 2006 split away from Sadr's Mehdi Army, taking some 3,000 fighters with him. In the lawless wild-West environment which dominates Iraq in the post-Saddam era, the formation of splinter militias of this sort is an everyday occurrence. Radical adventurers have historically been drawn to places of conflict, which would explain the presence of Daqduq. And it would not surprise me to find that Qais Khazali had secured funding from extremist elements inside Iran which operate outside the mandate of government, including some from within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard itself. But the notion of Iran and Hizbollah aligning themselves directly with a splinter element like the "Khazali network" is highly unlikely, to say the least.

    But fiction often mirrors reality, and in the case of Iran's Quds Force, the model drawn upon by the U.S. military seems to be none other than America's own support of anti-Iranian forces, namely the Mujahedin el-Khalk (MEK) operating out of U.S.-controlled bases inside Iraq, and Jundallah, a Baluchi separatist group operating out of Pakistan that the CIA openly acknowledges supporting. Unlike the lack of evidence brought to bear by the U.S. to sustain its claims of Iranian involvement inside Iraq, the Iranian government has captured scores of MEK and Jundallah operatives, along with supporting documents, which substantiate that which the U.S. openly admits: The United States is waging a proxy war against Iran, inside Iran. This mirror imaging of its own terror campaign against Iran to manufacture the perception of a similar effort being waged by Iran inside Iraq against the U.S. has been very effective at negating any Iranian effort to draw attention to the escalation of war-like activities inside its borders. After all, who would believe the Iranians? They are only trying to divert attention away from their own actions inside Iraq, or so the story goes.

    The second story line demonstrates, apparently, that Iranian perfidy knows no bounds. Just this month, the Iranian government tried to organize a visit to Ground Zero in Manhattan by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wanted to present a wreath of condolence over the tragedy that occurred there on Sept. 11, 2001. The Iranian president's proposed actions were consistent with the overall approach the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken concerning the 9/11 attack on America. Iran was one of the first Muslim nations to openly condemn the attack, expressing its condolences to those who lost their lives and calling for a worldwide mobilization against terrorism. But why let facts get in the way of fiction. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, set the standard for intellectual discourse on the matter when he told the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organization that a visit by President Ahmadinejad to Ground Zero would be "similar to a visit by a resurrected Hitler to Auschwitz." Sen. John McCain continued in this vein, stating that allowing Ahmadinejad to visit the site "would be an affront not only to America but to the families of our loved ones who perished there in an unprecedented act of terror." Both remarks clearly attempted to link the Iranian president, and by extension Iran, to events that they had nothing whatsoever to do with, and which they openly condemned.

    9/11 linkage strategies have worked in the past, regardless of factual merit. One only need recall Saddam Hussein and Iraq to understand how easily the American public, courtesy of war-minded politicians and their co-conspirators in the mainstream media, can be so easily led down the path of holding one party accountable for the actions of another. Saddam had nothing to do with the events of 9/11, and we now occupy Iraq. Similarly, Iran had nothing to do with 9/11, and yet due in part to the distortion of fact taking place concerning allegations of Iranian "terror" activity inside Iraq, the link is clear, at least in the minds of many Americans. President Bush calls Iran a "state sponsor of terror." The military claims Iran is carrying out terror attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. The Iranian president wanted to visit Ground Zero and was widely condemned by those who plot regime change in Iran. The Americans, bombarded with these false connections, then conclude Iran was part of the 9/11 plot. The logic is so simple, so flawed and yet so dangerously accessible to the minds of an American people fundamentally ignorant of the true situation in Iran and the Middle East today.

    Which leads us to the third, and final, story line of the month: Don't believe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran does have a nuclear weapons program! For weeks now, the cornerstone for the justification of American military intervention in Iran has been crumbling away, the layers and layers of fear-based fiction crafted by the Bush administration meticulously peeled away by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and his team of inspectors from the IAEA. After treading water for years in a sea of political intrigue, ElBaradei and his experts have finally assembled enough data to enable them to close the books on the Iranian nuclear program, noting that all substantive questions have been answered and that contrary to the speculative assessments put forward by the Bush administration it appears that Iran's nuclear program is, in fact, dedicated to permitted energy-related activities.

    Not so fast. In recent days, Israeli military aircraft, in coordination with special operations forces on the ground, launched a preemptive raid on a suspected "nuclear" target in northeast Syria. According to Israeli and U.S. intelligence sources, this site was jointly developed by Syria and North Korea for the purposes of transferring North Korea's proscribed nuclear weapons program to Syrian control. Worse, we are told by none other than former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton that this Syrian-North Korean project was being done at the behest of none other than Iran. The Syrian site, an established agriculture research center, was linked to a shipment from North Korea invoiced as cement. Israel apparently believed different. Israel has been monitoring any activity taking place inside Syria which could be linked to nuclear activity. Syria had, in the past, conducted exploratory investigation into whether phosphate deposits in Syria were viable for the manufacture of uranium for use in a nuclear energy program. Whether this activity, which has been suspended since the 1980s, was being resurrected, and whether the target bombed by Israel had anything to do with such a resurrection, is unknown at this time. What is obvious to anyone with any understanding of nuclear activities is that Syria was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program and North Korea was not supplying Syria with the components of such a program, either for Syrian use or as a proxy for Iran.

    But this sort of fact-based reasoning is irrelevant, especially in the secretive circles of power that make the life-or-death decisions regarding war. The Syrian raid by Israel seems to represent a sort of "proof of capability" drill, instilling a sense of confidence in an Israeli military badly shaken from its debacle in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. The planning for the Syrian raid was a closely held secret, limited to a small cabal of right-leaning politicians in Israel and, surprisingly, the United States. The American end of the deal centered on the office of the vice president, Dick Cheney, who gave final approval to attack the Syrian target only after being rebuffed in his effort to get the Israelis to bomb the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Cheney, it seems, is desperate for any action that might trigger an expanded conflict with Iran. Even though the Syrian adventure did not succeed in producing such a trigger, it did wipe off the front pages of American newspapers uncomfortable story lines from the IAEA, contending as they did that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. Now, thanks to the Israeli action against Syria, which had no nuclear weapons program, the American public is in the process of being fooled into speculating that one does in fact exist not only in Syria but in Iran.

    Continued war in Iraq is a tragedy. Having the conflict spread to Iran would be a disaster. No one can claim to possess a crystal ball showing the future. There are many who, when confronted with the potential for conflict with Iran, choose to brush these warnings aside, noting that such a conflict would be madness, and that the United States currently lacks the resources to fight a war with Iran. Such wishful thinking borders on irresponsible foolishness. If the headlines from this month tell us anything, it is that war with Iran is very much a possibility. The Bush administration has been actively planning war with Iran since the fall of 2004. Since that time, several windows of opportunity have presented themselves (most recently in spring 2007), but the Bush administration found itself unable to pull the trigger for one reason or another (the Navy's rejection of the presence of a third carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf scuttled the spring 2007 plans).

    The administration always heeded the justifications for aborting an attack, primarily because there was time still left on the clock, so to speak. But time is running out. Israel has drawn a red line across the calendar, indicating that if Iran has not pulled back from its nuclear ambitions by the end of 2007, military action in early spring 2008 will be inevitable. The attack on Syria by Israel sent a clear message that attacks are feasible. The continued emphasis by the Bush administration on Iran as a terror state, combined with the fact that the administration seems inclined to blame its continuing problems in Iraq on Iran, and not failed policy, means that there is no shortage of fuel to stoke the fire of public opinion regarding war with Iran. Add in the "reality" of weapons of mass destruction, and war becomes inevitable, regardless of the veracity of the "reality" being presented.

    The antiwar movement in America must make a strategic decision, and soon: Contain the war in Iraq, and stop a war from breaking out in Iran. The war in Iraq can be contained simply by letting war be war. There is no genuine good news coming out of Iraq. There won't be as long as the United States is there. As callous as it sounds, let the war establish the news cycle, and let the reality of war serve to contain it. The surge has failed. Congress may not act decisively to bring the troops home, but it is highly unlikely that Congress will idly approve any massive expansion of an unpopular war that continues to fail so publicly.

    Iran, however, is a different matter. Congress has already provided legal authority for the president to wage war in Iran through its existing war powers authority (one resolution passed in 2001, the other in 2002). Likewise, Congress has allowed the Bush administration to forward deploy the infrastructure of war deep into the Middle East and neighboring regions, all in the name of the "global war on terror." The startup costs for a military strike against Iran would therefore be greatly diminished. Sustaining such a conflict is a different matter, but given current congressional reticence to stand up to a war-time president, it is highly unlikely any meaningful action would be taken to stop an Iranian war once the bombs start falling. And we should never forget that Iran has a vote in how this would end; once it is attacked, Iran will respond in ways that are unpredictable, and as such set in motion a string of cause-effect military actions with the United States and others that spins any future conflict out of control.

    The highest priority for the antiwar movement in America today must be the prevention of a war with Iran. The strategic objectives should include getting Congress to repeal the war-powers authorities currently on the books, thereby forcing the president to seek new congressional approval for any new war. Likewise, a concerted effort must be undertaken to counter the disinformation being spread by the Bush administration and others about the nature of the Iranian threat. Every action undertaken by the antiwar movement must be connected to one or both of these strategic objectives. This is not the time for one-off sophomoric newspaper advertisements, but rather for sustained action focused on generating congressional hearings and public debate across the entire spectrum of American society. From the colleges and universities to the churches and on to the public square of small-town America, public information talks, presentations and panels must be held. Communities should flood local media outlets with requests for coverage and appeal to regional media to run stories. Mainstream media will follow. Demonstrations, if useful at all, must be focused events linked to an overall campaign designed to facilitate a strategic objective.

    We all should remember the fall of 2002. Many felt that there was no chance for a war with Iraq, especially once U.N. inspectors made their return. In March 2003, everyone who thought so was proved wrong. The fall of 2007 is no different. There is a sense of complacency when one speaks of the potential for a war with Iran. But time is not on the side of those who oppose conflict. If nothing is done to change the political situation inside America regarding Iran, there is an all too real possibility for a war to break out in the spring of 2008.

    Sadly, there really is no alternative for the antiwar movement: Put opposition to the war in Iraq on the back burner and make preventing a war with Iran the No. 1 priority, at least until the national election cycle kicks in during the summer of 2008. If a war with Iran hasn't happened by then, it probably won't. And the national debate on Iraq won't be engaged until that time, anyway. A war with Iran would make the current conflict in Iraq pale by comparison, and would detrimentally impact the whole of America, not just certain demographics. As such, it is critical that we all put aside our ideological and political differences and focus on the one issue which, if left unheeded, will have devastating consequences for the immediate future of us all: Prevent a future war with Iran.

    ----------

    A former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served under Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Scott Ritter worked as a chief inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq from 1991 until 1998, helping lead the effort to disarm Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He is the author of several books, including "Iraq Confidential" (2005, Nation Books), "Target Iran" (2006, Nation Books) and "Waging Peace" (2007, Nation Books). "Target Iran," with a new afterword by the author, has just been released in paperback by Nation Books.

[ Link ]

The Nazis, Shambala and Tibet

"...The Germans were highly interested in establishing friendly relations with Tibet. Their agenda, however, was slightly different from that of the Tibetans. One of the members of the Schäfer expedition was the anthropologist Bruno Beger, who was responsible for racial research. Having worked with H. F. K. Günther on Die nordische Rasse bei den Indogermanen Asiens (The Northern Race among the Indo-Germans of Asia), Beger subscribed to Günther’s theory of a “northern race” in Central Asia and Tibet. In 1937, he had proposed a research project for Eastern Tibet and, with the Schäfer expedition, planned to investigate scientifically the racial characteristics of the Tibetan people. While in Tibet and Sikkim on the way, Beger measured the skulls of three hundred Tibetans and Sikkimese and examined some of their other physical features and bodily marks. He concluded that the Tibetans occupied an intermediary position between the Mongol and European races, with the European racial element showing itself most pronouncedly among the aristocracy.

According to Richard Greve, “Tibetforschung in SS-Ahnenerbe (Tibetan Research in the SS- Ahnenerbe)” published in T. Hauschild (ed.) “Lebenslust und Fremdenfurcht” – Ethnologie im Dritten Reich (“Passion for Life and Xenophobia” – Ethnology in the Third Reich) (1995), Beger recommended that the Tibetans could play an important role after the final victory of the Third Reich. They could serve as an allied race in a pan-Mongol confederation under the aegis of Germany and Japan..."

[ full article ]

 

Iranian counter-prop offensive

A history of US secret human experimentation

1931 Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations, infects human subjects with cancer cells.

He later goes on to establish the US Army Biological Warfare facilities in Maryland, Utah, and Panama, and is named to the US Atomic Energy Commission. While there, he begins a series of radiation exposure experiments on American soldiers and civilian hospital patients.

1932 The Tuskegee Syphilis Study begins. 200 black men diagnosed with syphilis are never told of their illness, are denied treatment, and instead are used as human guinea pigs in order to follow the progression and symptoms of the disease. They all subsequently die from syphilis, their families never told that they could have been treated.

1935 The Pellagra Incident. After millions of individuals die from Pellagra over a span of two decades, the US Public Health Service finally acts to stem the disease. The director of the agency admits it had known for at least 20 years that Pellagra is caused by a niacin deficiency but failed to act since most of the deaths occurred within poverty-stricken black populations.

1940 Four hundred prisoners in Chicago are infected with Malaria in order to study the effects of new and experimental drugs to
combat the disease. Nazi doctors later on trial at Nuremberg cite this American study to defend their own actions during the Holocaust.

1942 Chemical Warfare Services begins mustard gas experiments on approximately 4,000 servicemen. The experiments continue until 1945 and made use of Seventh Day Adventists who chose to become human guinea pigs rather than serve on active duty.

1943 In response to Japan's full-scale germ warfare program, the US begins research on biological weapons at Fort Detrick, MD.

1944 US Navy uses human subjects to test gas masks and clothing. Individuals were locked in a gas chamber and exposed to mustard gas and lewisite.

1945 Project Paperclip is initiated. The US State Department, Army intelligence, and the CIA recruit Nazi scientists and offer them immunity and secret identities in exchange for work on top-secret government projects in the United States.

1945 "Program F" is implemented by the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). This is the most extensive US study of the health effects of fluoride, which was the key chemical component in atomic bomb production. One of the most toxic chemicals known to man, fluoride, it is found, causes marked adverse effects to the central nervous system but much of the information is squelched in the name of national security because of fear that lawsuits would undermine full-scale production of atomic bombs.

1946 Patients in VA hospitals are used as guinea pigs for medical experiments. In order to allay suspicions, the order is given to change the word "experiments" to "investigations" or "observations" whenever reporting a medical study performed in one of the nation's veteran's hospitals.

1947 Colonel E.E. Kirkpatrick of the US Atomic Energy Commission issues a secret document (Document 07075001, January 8, 1947) stating that the agency will begin administering intravenous doses of radioactive substances to human subjects.

1947 The CIA begins its study of LSD as a potential weapon for use by American intelligence. Human subjects (both civilian and military) are used with and without their knowledge.

1950 Department of Defense begins plans to detonate nuclear weapons in desert areas and monitor downwind residents for medical problems and mortality rates.

1950 I n an experiment to determine how susceptible an American city would be to biological attack, the US Navy sprays a cloud of bacteria from ships over San Francisco. Monitoring devices are situated throughout the city in order to test the extent of infection. Many residents become ill with pneumonia-like symptoms.

1951 Department of Defense begins open-air tests using disease-producing bacteria and viruses. Tests last through 1969 and there is concern that people in the surrounding areas have been exposed.

1953 US military releases clouds of zinc cadmium sulfide gas over Winnipeg, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, the Monocracy River Valley in Maryland, and Leesburg, Virginia. Their intent is to determine how efficiently they could disperse chemical agents.

1953 Joint Army-Navy-CIA experiments are conducted in which tens of thousands of people in New York and San Francisco are exposed to the airborne germs Serratia marcescens and Bacillus glogigii.

1953 CIA initiates Project MKULTRA. This is an eleven-year research program designed to produce and test drugs and biological agents that would be used for mind control and behavior modification. Six of the subprojects involved testing the agents on unwitting human beings.

1955 The CIA, in an experiment to test its ability to infect human populations with biological agents, releases a bacteria withdrawn from the Army's biological warfare arsenal over Tampa Bay, Fl.

1955 Army Chemical Corps continues LSD research, studying its potential use as a chemical incapacitating agent. More than 1,000 Americans participate in the tests, which continue until 1958.

1956 US military releases mosquitoes infected with Yellow Fever over Savannah, Ga and Avon Park, Fl. Following each test, Army agents posing as public health officials test victims for effects.

1958 LSD is tested on 95 volunteers at the Army's Chemical Warfare Laboratories for its effect on intelligence.

1960 The Army Assistant Chief-of-Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) authorizes field-testing of LSD in Europe and the Far East. Testing of the European population is code named Project THIRD CHANCE; testing of the Asian population is code named Project DERBY HAT.

1965 Project CIA and Department of Defense begin Project MKSEARCH, a program to develop a capability to manipulate human behavior through the use of mind-altering drugs.

1965 Prisoners at the Holmesburg State Prison in Philadelphia are subjected to dioxin, the highly toxic chemical component of Agent Orange used in Viet Nam. The men are later studied for development of cancer, which indicates that Agent Orange had been a suspected carcinogen all along.

1966 CIA initiates Project MKOFTEN, a program to test the toxicological effects of certain drugs on humans and animals.

1966 US Army dispenses Bacillus subtilis variant niger throughout the New York City subway system. More than a million civilians are exposed when army scientists drop light bulbs filled with the bacteria onto ventilation grates.

1967 CIA and Department of Defense implement Project MKNAOMI, successor to MKULTRA and designed to maintain, stockpile and test biological and chemical weapons.

1968 CIA experiments with the possibility of poisoning drinking water by injecting chemicals into the water supply of the FDA in Washington, D.C.

1969 Dr. Robert MacMahan of the Department of Defense requests from congress $10 million to develop, within 5 to 10 years, a synthetic biological agent to which no natural immunity exists.

1970 Funding for the synthetic biological agent is obtained under H.R. 15090. The project, under the supervision of the CIA, is carried out by the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, the army's top-secret biological weapons facility. Speculation is raised that molecular biology techniques are used to produce AIDS-like retroviruses.

1970 United States intensifies its development of "ethnic weapons" (Military Review, Nov., 1970), designed to selectively target and eliminate specific ethnic groups who are susceptible due to genetic differences and variations in DNA.

1975 The virus section of Fort Detrick's Center for Biological Warfare Research is renamed the Fredrick Cancer Research Facilities and placed under the supervision of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It is here that a special virus cancer program is initiated by the US Navy, purportedly to develop cancer-causing viruses. It is also here that retrovirologists isolate a virus to which no immunity exists. It is later named HTLV (Human T-cell Leukemia Virus).

1977 Senate hearings on Health and Scientific Research confirm that 239 populated areas had been contaminated with biological agents between 1949 and 1969. Some of the areas included San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Key West, Panama City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

1978 Experimental Hepatitis B vaccine trials, conducted by the CDC, begin in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Ads for research subjects specifically ask for promiscuous homosexual men.

1981 First cases of AIDS are confirmed in homosexual men in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, triggering speculation that AIDS may have been introduced via the Hepatitis B vaccine

1985 According to the journal Science (227:173-177), HTLV and VISNA, a fatal sheep virus, are very similar, indicating a close taxonomic and evolutionary relationship.

1986 According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (83:4007-4011), HIV and VISNA are highly similar and share all structural elements, except for a small segment which is nearly identical to HTLV. This leads to speculation that HTLV and VISNA may have been linked to produce a new retrovirus to which no natural immunity exists.

1986 A report to Congress reveals that the US Government's current generation of biological agents includes: modified viruses, naturally occurring toxins, and agents that are altered through genetic engineering to change immunological character and prevent treatment by all existing vaccines.

1987 Department of Defense admits that, despite a treaty banning research and development of biological agents, it continues to operate research facilities at 127 facilities and universities around the nation.

1990 More than 1500 six-month old black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles are given an "experimental" measles vaccine that had never been licensed for use in the United States. CDC later admits that parents were never informed that the vaccine being injected to their children was experimental.

1994 With a technique called "gene tracking," Dr. Garth Nicolson at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX discovers that many returning Desert Storm veterans are infected with an altered strain of Mycoplasma incognitus, a microbe commonly used in the production of biological weapons. Incorporated into its molecular structure is 40 percent of the HIV protein coat, indicating that it had been man-made.

1994 Senator John D. Rockefeller issues a report revealing that for at least 50 years the Department of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Persian Gulf War.

1995 US Government admits that it had offered Japanese war criminals and scientists who had performed human medical experiments salaries and immunity from prosecution in exchange for data on biological warfare research.

1995 Dr. Garth Nicolson, uncovers evidence that the biological agents used during the Persian Gulf War had been manufactured in Houston, TX and Boca Raton, Fl and tested on prisoners in the Texas Department of Corrections.

1996 Department of Defense admits that Desert Storm soldiers were exposed to chemical agents.

1997 Eighty-eight members of Congress sign a letter demanding an investigation into bioweapons use & Persian Gulf War Syndrome.

Original article posted here.
 
[ Source ]
 

Why Did Israel Attack Syria?

 "...So what did Israel hope to achieve with its aerial strike?

The stories emerging from the less gagged American media suggest two scenarios. The first is that Israel targeted Iranian supplies passing through Syria on their way to Hizbullah; the second that Israel struck at a fledgling Syrian nuclear plant where materials from North Korea were being offloaded, possibly as part of a joint nuclear effort by Damascus and Tehran.

(Speculation that Israel was testing Syria's anti-aircraft defences in preparation for an attack on Iran ignores the fact that the Israeli air force would almost certainly choose a flightpath through friendlier Jordanian airspace.)

How credible are these two scenarios?

The nuclear claims against Damascus were discounted so quickly by experts of the region that Washington was soon downgrading the accusation to claims that Syria was only hiding the material on North Korea's behalf. But why would Syria, already hounded by Israel and the US, provide such a readymade pretext for still harsher treatment? Why, equally, would North Korea undermine its hard-won disarmament deal with the US? And why, if Syria were covertly engaging in nuclear mischief, did it alert the world to the fact by revealing the Israeli air strike?

The other justification for the attack was at least based in a more credible reality: Damascus, Hizbullah and Iran undoubtedly do share some military resources. But their alliance should be seen as the kind of defensive pact needed by vulnerable actors in a Sunni-dominated region where the US wants unlimited control of Gulf oil and supports only those repressive regimes that cooperate on its terms. All three are keenly aware that it is Israel's job to threaten and punish any regimes that fail to toe the line.

Contrary to the impression being created in the West, genocidal hatred of Israel and Jews, however often Ahmadinejad's speeches are mistranslated, is not the engine of these countries' alliance.

Nonetheless, the political significance of the justifications for the Israeli air strike is that both neatly tie together various strands of an argument needed by the neocons and Israel in making their case for an attack on Iran before Bush leaves office in early 2009. Each scenario suggests a Shia "axis of evil", coordinated by Iran, that is actively plotting Israel's destruction. And each story offers the pretext for an attack on Syria as a prelude to a pre-emptive strike against Tehran -- launched either by Washington or Tel Aviv -- to save Israel.

That these stories appear to have been planted in the American media by neocon fanatics like John Bolton is warning enough -- as is the admission that the only evidence for Syrian malfeasance is Israeli "intelligence", the basis of which cannot be questioned as Israel is not officially admitting the attack..."
 

Hillary and Bill Clinton show muscle

Hillary and Bill Clinton show muscle as cover boy Bill gets a negative story dumped

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign forced a magazine to drop a negative story about her by threatening to cut off the publication’s access to the former President Bill Clinton, it emerged yesterday.

The ruthless response to GQ magazine, and its decision to bow to the ultimatum, reflects the enormous leverage Mr Clinton brings to his wife’s White House bid at a time when her quest for the Democratic nomination appears more formidable than ever...

[ full article

Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

 TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger's insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.
 

The following is the full text of the letter.

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran , hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country's political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.



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