Monday, March 31, 2008

The White House Plague

We can agree the White House has subverted our democracy, enriched their pals and manipulated the media.

This suffices to seize power, to loot the country and to leave town before the yokels sense the scam and send the posse.

Accusing them of more than this misses the mark. The Bushies are not smart enough to ruin the nation so completely.

The State Department sold US nuclear secrets to the highest bidders, but this program dates back to at least 1996.

The CIA has murdered at least six millions civilians since 1950 [not counting victims in Iraq]. They wrote the book on how to make enemies and to terrify friends.

The White House never intended to ruin the economy. Why would thieves prompt a bank to go bust before the heist was complete?

The US military has been a joke since it last won in 1945.

Barbados Talks About Barack Obama

By Richard Thompson, The New Yorker

Barbados Talks About Barack Obama

The most popular discussion around the water cooler, lunch rooms, talk shows and in the blogosphere is the Barack Obama run for President of the United States of America. Many Barbadians are in awe that a Black man in the year 2008 could be challenging for the presidency. Last week, we heard talk show host David Ellis admonished callers who dared to doubt that the Black Obama has a legitimate shot at going all the way. We understand the generalization offered by David Ellis to support his argument at the time that Barbadians are a doubting people. However, the surreal experience which has overwhelmed Barbadians, and dare we say, Black people around the world is a phenomenon to behold. Unlike David Ellis, we can understand why Barbadians could be lulled into thinking that a Black man who is running for the presidency of the USA in 2008 on an anti-Washington and anti-insider platform would doubt a positive outcome.

Dregs of Humanity Always Win

We have the habit of electing the dregs of humanity to high political office. Our movie favorites reflect this. For every "All the King's Men" we have dozens of "Godfather" and "Bonnie and Clyde" epics. Gangsters are heroic. Over-aged Boy Scouts like Gore and Kerry are boring.
With Ashley as First Lady, Eliot Spitzer could be our President in 2013.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Most Iraqis

What We Learn about Iraq

Our troops can suffer extended duty in the combat zone of up to 18 months. This contributes to an abnormally high suicide rate [120 per week as calculated by a 2005 survey]. The President can issue a “stop-loss” order to extend troops when their contract expires.

Winter Soldier Kristofer Shaun Goldsmith testified to this and to his suicide attempt. Anyone can Google the fuller story of these tragedies.

Sectarianism doesn’t lie at the root of the conflict.

Maliki and his Assembly receive backing from only one-third of the population. Maliki’s faction lost support:

  1. When they failed to deliver basic services.
  2. As they refused to expel the Americans.
  3. When they favored privatization of the oil fields.
  4. When they refused all attempts at reconciliation towards a democratic future for Iraq.

The opposition nationalists are also mainly Shiite. They favor a central government with enough power to expel the Americans and the big oil companies. Sadr had the strength to force a unilateral cease fire last year. Falsely, the Americans claim it was the surge that lessened the hostilities.

Indeed, the US and Maliki took advantage to murder nationalists. They threatened mutiny if they were not re-armed to defend themselves.

Even with the USAF bombing the nationalists, I doubt if the fighting will end quickly.

Yesterday, I saw a video of the Charley Rose Show. Two Iraqis told the facts calmly to him. They shocked Rose, who had apparently taken the US MSM lies hook, line and sinker.

Inside a Riot

Inside a Riot

What is It Like to Be Inside a riot?

Quickly, you will absorb this is not a Dog and Pony Show for visiting dignitaries.

'Belarus: Freedom Day Protest'

by Veronica Khokhlova, Global Voices

On Tuesday, March 25, police broke up an opposition rally in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, beating protesters with truncheons and detaining dozens of people. According to media reports, thousands of protesters showed up for the annual Freedom Day rally, banned by the government, and attempted to gather at one of Minsk's central squares, which had been blocked off by the police. On Wednesday, the detained protesters - as well as several journalists - were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to 15 days.

LJ users dranik80, ialeks, coipish posted very vivid photo reports from the March 25 rally - here, here, and here.

LJ user mmpbel, 30, posted a lengthy and detailed account (RUS) of his experiences at the rally and, later, inside a police bus:

[...] When we approached Victory Square, I finally saw the people who, just like me, intended to mark [Freedom Day]. [...] [They] stood on all sides of the intersection. Along the sidewalk, there were traffic cops. There were mainly young people there, 20-year-olds and younger. I saw several middle-aged people, and a few families. There were [white-red-white flags], and they were distributing white-red-white ribbons (I wasn't offered one). There were almost no flowers. I saw only one woman with a white-red-white bouquet. The mood was festive. I saw a small group of young people who walked out onto the road, one guy was waving a flag, encouraging people to follow him, but not many did and traffic cops managed to clear up the road very quickly. Soon, there was a solid cordon of traffic police along the road, and, a minute later, another one made up of riot cops. [...]

People started moving towards Victory Square, the march began. Those in the front row of the formation were carrying a banner (but I didn't see what was written on it). I could hear the usual slogans. (Too bad we're not singing songs. I'm not the [slogan-chanting] type, but I would've joined in a song.) [...]

Very close to the bridge, the formation halted. Must have been because of the police standing in their way. We stood for a few minutes. I saw [opposition leader Anatoly Lebedko] walk forward, to do something about it. After a while, those at the head of the formation began to turn around. At the same time or a bit earlier, a police bus drove towards the bridge. Then things began to move fast. I saw cops in helmets run. Young people with the banner began to reposition themselves quickly, in order to be at the head of the formation again. Someone was hurriedly hiding away a fishing rod with the flag. A guy who carried the banner turned around and called out a female name, but then someone screamed "Andrei!" and I saw a girl being grabbed and dragged to the bus. Quickly, people began to disperse. I've been in a stampede before, but it was the first time that cops were chasing me. Hesitantly, I also began to move faster, still not really believing this was actually happening. As
I understood it, they were mainly seizing young people with flags. [...]

[...] I felt it was all over and decided to try reaching the monument to [Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala monument, [to lay flowers]. [...] I moved towards the bridge again. There was a police bus standing nearby, and from its window, a detained girl was making a Victory sign with her fingers. Young people stood next to the bus - possibly, friends of those who were detained.

[...] A few ordinary [not riot] cops stood at the park entrance. I asked one of them: "Is the park closed?" He said, "Yes." [...] As I walked down Yanka Kupala Street, I saw that the park's side entrance wasn't guarded by anyone and that the park itself was empty. A man and two women walked by: he was begging them to stop being scared and enter the park. [...] I came to the monument and put the flowers down. My flowers were the only ones on the snow, but underneath the snow there were many more white-red-white flowers. An elderly man [...] walked by. There was no one but us in the park. I stood a few seconds by the monument, trying to imagine "what He [Yanka Kupala] was thinking of the things that were taking place."

I decided to leave the park through the exit guarded by the police. [...] I had nothing on me that could make them suspicious. There was a bus I'd already seen there. [...] A cop came up to me [and told me to get out.] [...] Another cop came up to me and said: "What are you doing here?" I [exclaimed, in Belarusian]: "Why are you talking to me like that?" (normally, I speak Russian, alas). (I do look very young, but hate it when rude strangers address me [informally], especially the uniformed ones.) And here it began. The cop grabbed me by the jacket and dragged me to the bus, screaming something. [...] The road was slippery, I almost bumped into the bus. [...] They pushed me inside, hit me in the stomach, there were screams, and orders to show them what was inside my backpack. It was all being done just to scare me, without any system to it. The bus was small and narrow, there were about a dozen cops in it. Perhaps this explains why the blow to my stomach was weak. [...] A co
p called me to the back of the bus, searched me there, but didn't look into my backpack. Told me to sit at the back seat. Then they forgot about me.

The cops were constantly chatting, joking, and appeared bored. Talked on the phones with their wives, explained to them that they were at an "event." [...] They were cursing constantly. [...] They were discussing the cars they'd bought.

After a while, there was some screaming, the door opened, and they pushed in a tall, skinny guy of about 30 years of age. There was intimidation again, [they ordered him to drop to the floor.] [...] They took him to the back of the bus and searched him. Found an asthma inhaler [...]. Ordered him to sit next to me. Two women were brought on the bus after him (it looked like they didn't push them in). One of them was the guy's mother, the other was her friend. They looked very refined [...]. The mother asked to let her son go, spoke of his and her own poor health (she had heart problems), was asking who was in charge. No one listened to her, the one in charge didn't respond. Someone said that they'd violated the law on mass events, entered the park that was closed for repairs, had [anti-government] flags with them, were calling to the violent overthrow of the [regime]. The mother was begging the cops, tried to argue with them, was asking to be allowed to step out for some fresh
air, to call the relatives. They refused to let her do any of it. [...] We were ordered to switch off our phones.


Things were quieting down and the cops were getting bored.

A cop who looked like he was in charge came in and ordered the women and the guy to leave [...]. [...] They were not allowed to take their white-red-white umbrella with them.

I was left alone again. I felt like a Red Army soldier imprisoned by the fascists. Hatred and the feeling of complete helplessness. If they took me to the forest to shoot then, I wouldn't be very surprised. There was no sign of any legal rights whatsoever.

The bus began to move [...]. [Then it stopped.] [...] [I was told to get up and go.] I got up and went. [...] The cop in charge, standing by the door, called to me [...]. I came up to him. He hit me on the ear near the back of my head. I heard laughter coming from the bus. I turned away, the door closed, and the bus drove away. [...] I switched on my phone and called my wife. It was around 8:30 PM by then.

It did occur to me to file a complaint with the prosecutor's office, but I didn't consider the idea for too long.

LJ user annie-minsk, 21, described (RUS) what it feels like to be at a rally in Belarus:

You do not feel fear when you find yourself in the midst of everything - the police, people, flags.

No, you harden even more. Tears, fear and shaking hands are long forgotten, replaced with [...] a wicked smile and cold calmness of a convicted person. [...] You're no longer shy and stop [using the polite form of address]. [...] Your blood fills with adrenalin. Everyone is equal here, everyone [is your buddy] - welcome to hell!

When you look at the photos on the web the following morning, you feel it all again. As if you're back there. Back into this dirty, wet, nervous mess made up of people, cameras, fat riot cops with brass knuckles and unruffled traffic cops. And the groaning of the black-clad bastards [riot cops] - "Reh-eh, reh-eh" (this is how they scream when they are pushing people, in order to move in sync) - it doesn't horrify you anymore, not as much as it did then, the first time, in the cold March of 2006 [a GV translation from that time is here]. Then it seemed wild. Monstrous, inhuman. We hoped for the better, believed it was just a threat. They'd scare us and let go. And everyone would go home, and there'd be kitchen talk, and someone would write about it in LJ.

I've heard one and the same question so many times: "What are you trying to accomplish with your rallies?" My reply is, come, have a look, find it out. And don't bother me, because we won't understand each other anyway.

Cohen is Dead

Cohen has Died

During morning prayers Cohen officiated from the back bench of the Synagogue. Every word and movement had to be right. God was watching.

To me as an American the men at worship were obsessive compulsives in need of a little improvisation. I kept that bit of ‘wisdom’ to myself, as it was challenging enough to follow the prayers.

Nevertheless, I clashed with Cohen. He insisted on pruning the rose bush in the garden. It is a sin to interfere with living things animal or vegetable.

Last week he succumbed to a heart attack. He was 83.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

McCain is Bush

The Clintons say that McCain has many moderate qualities that separate him from the Bush fiasco. Have Hillary and Bill taken leave of their senses?

“On the foreign policy issues that are most consequential, McCain is George Bush. They pay lip service to the same pretty concepts of internationalism and democracy in order to justify endless militarism, occupation and war. They believe the "transcendent" obligation of America is to use its military force and other resources to re-make the world in our image. The Middle East is our personal playground and controlling it will consume most of our attention and energy. We should work cooperatively with other countries whenever they are willing to support our foreign adventures.

With regard to the most complex and dangerous conflicts, they even sound almost exactly alike in their simple-minded belligerence. Here was Bush's "solution" to the Israel/Hezbollah war, spat out between food bites to Tony Blair:

What they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over.

And here was McCain's equally insightful solution to the civil war in Iraq:

One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, "Stop the bullshit."

The American Emperor issues moronic dictates to the world's primitive peoples, and they obey -- just as has happened for the last eight years -- and thousands-year old religious and ethnic conflicts vanish and freedom and Western democracy sprout magically in their place. As Matt Welch, author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick, said in a February speech at the Cato Institute:

[McCain's] whole career, his life, his training, his family background has been to be a member of . . . the Imperial Class; [he's] motivated by an inspiring trust of America's governance of the world; [and] he would be the most imperial-oriented President, most militaristic President, since Teddy Roosevelt, at least.”

Glenn Greenwald,

Note: What have the Republicans got on the Clintons?

Is Briana Waters a Terrorist? A Continuing Debate

· The legal system needs reform, not anti-terrorism laws

Brianna Waters was found guilty of arson despite what appear to be gaping holes in the case against her. She was named by witnesses hoping to reduce their own punishments, and there is no other credible evidence against her.

But all that has nothing at all to do with the increasing tendency of prosecutors, law enforcement and legislators to treat eco-terrorism and animal rights terrorism as what they are: terrorism. The article teaser screams that "U.S. attorneys exploited post-9/11 counterterrorism laws to pursue and prosecute an environmental activist." But the FBI and prosecutors did not go after Waters because she was an activist. They went after her because she was named by witnesses as a participant in criminal activity.

Prosecutors may very well have abused their power in this case, as they do in many cases. The problem is not the post-9/11 anti-terrorism laws. It is that there is little accountability for prosecutors who "win" convictions of innocent people. The legal system needs reform, not the law.

-- Saleem

[Read Saleem's other letters]

Permalink Wednesday, March 26, 2008 07:00 PM

Abduction: A Crime Against Humanity

Starting in 1952 there was a sharp rise of infant mortality in the Negev. More than 300 babies dying during their first week after birth, the doctors said a contagious disease had taken them. Requiring instant burial the Rabbis removed the dead infants before the parents had a last chance to see them. Over the years their distraught loved ones wondered in vain what had happened to their children. In 1997 they began to dig up the graves finding most of them empty! The doctors had signed false death certificates and the Rabbis had staged funerals. Also guilty the social workers had sold the babies to childless couples.

In 1952 a few days after giving birth to Chaim
His mother was resting under sedative
When the nurses awakened her with the terrible news her son was dead from a contagious disease requiring quick burial
The Rabbi had officiated at the funeral
The doctor was getting the Death Certificate
Nobody had even a photo
Of the baby all that remained of him were a few memories.
There was a Certificate from the Ministry of the Interior.
The National Insurance Institute had furnished a tiny tombstone for Chaim.
Doubt was the only legacy
Chaim had been only the first to expire of hundreds of infants.

For a three-year period the modern facility at Dimona had the highest infant mortality rate in the world.
The pregnant women abandoned the hospital to give birth at home.
For 45 years parents pressed for an answer
They appealed to every authority in the country.
Suing in every court they had to pay enormous fines levied by angry judges. Many demonstrated and a few who had become rowdy sat in prison for it.

In 1997 the family agreed to exhume Chaim’s body
A desperate move it ran counter to every tenet in the Jewish religion.
Chaim’s grave was empty!
The Rabbis said it was a punishment from God.
Then, 28 more couples found their infants’ graves vacant as well.
The Interior Ministry continued the lie of 45 years
They admitted forging 29 Death Certificates but said that was the total.
After they dug up 200 more empty graves the National Insurance Office put the blame on Rabbis and social workers who had sold the babies to the highest bidder.
Chaim was alive in San Francisco
When they met his mother was a stranger to him.
The government employees had done such crimes against humanity for two generations.
Very few of them comprehend what evil they have done.

Violence Promotes Freedom - Big Brother?

Overseas, the administration hones its skills of repression. They enlist the media in disinformation. After the coup d'etat, they can assure the public that domestic spying, torture and imprisonment are prerequisite for safety.

Martial Law will maintain the new order through violence. "It's going to take awhile, but it's a necessary part of the development of a free society," Bush said.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Abduction: A Crime Against Humanity

Starting in 1952 there was a sharp rise of infant mortality in the Negev. More than 300 babies dying during their first week after birth, the doctors said a contagious disease had taken them. Requiring instant burial the Rabbis removed the dead infants before the parents had a last chance to see them. Over the years their distraught loved ones wondered in vain what had happened to their children. In 1997 they began to dig up the graves finding most of them empty! The doctors had signed false death certificates and the Rabbis had staged funerals. Also guilty the social workers had sold the babies to childless couples.

In 1952 a few days after giving birth to Chaim

His mother was resting under sedative

When the nurses awakened her with the terrible news her son was dead from a contagious disease requiring quick burial

The Rabbi had officiated at the funeral

The doctor was getting the Death Certificate

Nobody had even a photo

Of the baby all that remained of him were a few memories.

There was a Certificate from the Ministry of the Interior.

The National Insurance Institute had furnished a tiny tombstone for Chaim.

Doubt was the only legacy

Chaim had been only the first to expire of hundreds of infants.

For a three-year period the modern facility at Dimona had the highest infant mortality rate in the world.

The pregnant women abandoned the hospital to give birth at home.

For 45 years parents pressed for an answer

They appealed to every authority in the country.

Suing in every court they had to pay enormous fines levied by angry judges. Many demonstrated and a few who had become rowdy sat in prison for it.

In 1997 the family agreed to exhume Chaim’s body

A desperate move it ran counter to every tenet in the Jewish religion.

Chaim’s grave was empty!

The Rabbis said it was a punishment from God.

Then, 28 more couples found their infants’ graves vacant as well.

The Interior Ministry continued the lie of 45 years

They admitted forging 29 Death Certificates but said that was the total.

After they dug up 200 more empty graves the National Insurance Office put the blame on Rabbis and social workers who had sold the babies to the highest bidder.

Chaim was alive in San Francisco

When they met his mother was a stranger to him.

The government employees had done such crimes against humanity for two generations.

Very few of them comprehend what evil they have done.

Web Tip Led Mother to Get Kidnapped Son in Korea

By CLARE TRAPASSO, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 28, 3:44 AM ET

NEW YORK - Tiffany Rubin had all but given up hope of ever seeing her abducted child again when she received an anonymous tip through her MySpace page. Someone had spotted her 7-year-old son and her ex-boyfriend in South Korea.

The Queens special education teacher caught a 15-hour flight to South Korea on Sunday. She sneaked into her son's school, found Kobe Lee in a classroom, disguised him with a wig and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy before bringing him home Wednesday.

"It's great," Rubin said. "I never thought this day would come."

Her ordeal began on Aug. 21, after her ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Salko disappeared with their child after a visit.

At the time, he had joint custody of their son but was facing up to six months in jail for not paying child support. The boy lived with his mother and saw his father on alternate weekends.

Kobe's court-appointed law guardian, Joseph Fredericks, had recommended Rubin receive sole custody.

"They were constantly at war over this child," Fredericks said of the parents, who separated when Kobe was 4 months old.

After Salko disappeared with her child, Rubin was afraid her ex, born in South Korea, had taken the boy abroad.

"I was just basically panicking," said Rubin, 30. "I was hoping they were still in the United States."

Her fears were realized when she hacked into Salko's e-mail account, she said. She discovered an e-mail he had sent to a friend saying he was flying to South Korea — and wasn't coming back.

Mark Miller, founder of the American Association for Lost Children Inc., a Christian charity that recovers missing children, persuaded her to put him on the case.

"She was so distraught," Miller said. "Her whole world was taken from her."

The FBI issued a warrant for Salko's arrest, but Rubin didn't get her big break until January.

She received a message on her MySpace page from someone who had seen her son and knew where he went to school. Shortly after, she received a phone call from Kobe telling her he missed her — and Salko was listening in. Rubin said her son wasn't aware he had been kidnapped.

Shortly after, she flew to South Korea with Miller and Bazzel Baz, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Association for the Recovery of Children, to recover Kobe.

The men surveyed the school while Rubin waited in a hotel. Security appeared to be lax, Rubin said, and the next day she went to her son's classroom and called his name.

"I was like, oh my God," Kobe said. "I can't believe she's here."

Rubin explained who she was to her son's teacher and said she needed a minute to speak with him. Then mother and son walked out of the building and hailed a cab to the American embassy.

As a precaution, she made Kobe wear a wig, so anyone looking for them would think he was a girl.

The following day, mother and son returned home.

"He's doing good, watching cartoons and wanting to play video games," Rubin said. But "he's a little worried that his dad's going to take him again."

FBI spokesman Matthew Bertron said the bureau was trying to work with South Korea to secure Salko's arrest and extradition. Calls to his family Thursday went unanswered.

Almost 800,000 children are reported missing each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. About one-quarter of them are abducted by family members.

After 9/11 Susan Sontag in the New Yorker

"The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"

God and Axis Sally

God and Axis Sally

Since God is the All Powerful, it is reasonable to assume he calls the shots. If He so desired, He has the ability to destroy the Taliban the Al Qaeda and, indeed, all of the injustice and suffering on the planet.

Why doesn’t he?The Almighty did not create us as robots and puppets. He gave us free will and the capacity to choose between good and evil. Mother Teresa and Axis Sally shared space on the same planet. Each had a circle of friends. It was up to us to put Sally out of business and to propose Sainthood for Mother Teresa.

4:55 PM | Add a comment | Send a message | Permalink | View trackbacks (1) | Blog it | Wiretapping

NATO Wins Battles but Loses Afghan War

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Thomas looks through a target shot by Afghan National Army trainers on a firing range Kandahar on Jan. 23, 2008.

'Boots' McCain says we are doing fine in Iraq. He was a brave flyer, but he takes the lead from strategy know nothings. The President sees the recent upswing in fighting as a positive development.

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (IPS) - "Make no mistake," begins a new issue brief from non-partisan think tank the Atlantic Council of the United States, "NATO is not winning in Afghanistan."

That brief, called "Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action", was released Wednesday at an event on Capitol Hill, along with two other reports that call on the international community and the U.S. to "re-energise their faltering effort" in Afghanistan.

The speakers at the release of the reports all showed equal concern that, despite overwhelming U.S. and international military might, things are going badly awry in Afghanistan and that a comprehensive reworking of international strategy there was needed.

"The fatal consequence, all too familiar to those of who lived through Vietnam, is that you can win every battle, but fail to win the war," said Sen. John Kerry in his introductory remarks. "Absent a new focus and a transformed strategy, many of us fear that may be happening again."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iran Trashes Iran

'Iran: A New Year Begins'

by Hamid Tehrani

Yesterday, marked the first day of spring and the Iranian New Year. Nowruz or Norouz is celebrated in Iran and several other countries such as Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Several bloggers celebrated the day and shared their wishes and ideas on this occasion.

Some, like Raze No (meaning "new secret") added photos of festivities and spring to their blog (as above).

1Pezeshk (meaning "one doctor" in Persian), a creative blogger, asked several bloggers to express themselves on Iranian New Year in a podcast [Fa]. Seven Iranian bloggers and one Afghan blogger answered his call, and the result was a joint podcast.

Khabgard writes [Fa] with irony that the Iranian government, in the final days of last year, gave Iranians another gift: "Nine magazines were shut down!" The blogger adds that the government has delivered so many surprises, that Iranians can no longer predict what the future holds in store for the new year, let alone tomorrow!

Falosofah writes [Fa] about the difficult situation for writers and translators in Iran. He says:

The first idea crossing the mind of writers and translators is the following: "Can I keep living at the same standard as I have in the past 10 years, or will I be forced to move to smaller cities or emigrate? Each time a society faces political and economic troubles, the most affected people are the ones involved with culture and science. If you talk with a publisher or a bookstore owner, they will tell you that the prices of all other goods they sell have increased enormously, while book prices, like for other cultural products, have decreased.

Azadi Barabary blog has published [Fa], a message from Kaveh Abbassian, a left wing student leader. He says that some of his best friends are still in prison, and that students in all universities are under pressure, and freedom of speech and free association are under attack. He adds:

Despite all the pressure we say: We are present! We stand up! We don't negotiate our will to defend freedom and equality. We are stronger and more determined than ever.

Jomhour called [Fa] President Ahmadinejad's message for New Year unrealistic. The Iranian president praised economic, cultural and political achievements in last year. The blogger says the government's mismanagement created high unemployment rates and inflation. He says maybe we should change the meaning of the word 'achievement' in the dictionary.

You may view the latest post at

Dressed for Woods - Henry David Thoreau

Dressed for Woods

Dressed for Woods
Thoreau's Journal: 26-Mar-1860

The walker and naturalist does not wear a hat, or a shoe, or a coat, to be looked at, but for other uses. When a citizen comes to take a walk with me I commonly find that he is lame,—disabled by his shoeing. He is sure to wet his feet, tear his coat, and jam his hat, and the superior qualities of my boots, coat, and hat appear. I once went into the woods with a party for a fortnight. I wore my old and common clothes, which were of Vermont gray. They wore, no doubt, the best they had for such an occasion,—of a fashionable color and quality. I thought that they were a little ashamed of me while we were in the towns. They all tore their clothes badly but myself, and I, who, it chanced, was the only one provided with needles and thread, enabled them to mend them. When we came out of the woods I was the best dressed of any of them.

A Lebanese Girl in Egypt

A Lebanese in Egypt from Occupation to Liberation

by Tarek Amr

Layal El Katib, is a Lebanese Blogger who lived in Egypt for a while, and here are her experiences as a Lebanese living in Egypt:

I used to speak Egyptian there, in fact nobody would know I'm Lebanese unless somebody tells them, my Egyptian accent was (and still is) flawless!

So, I didn't experience any kind of problems! it was very normal and it felt like home. At school, I made great friends, we were a family, you know hanging out with the same friends everyday for several years, the bond becomes stronger than the family blood because you get to choose your friends! I used to love the first day at school just to meet the new people! I've always loved company and I never had a problem to blend in ANY kind of groups.

But one day, a single incident at school really affected her:

Anyways, years passed by and I'm in an Arabic period in Grade 6. I don't remember what the teacher was talking about but I remember him saying "And Of course, We all know that Lebanon is being occupied now by Israel...". I wasn't shocked by what he said, I was shocked by the whole class's reaction! It was nothing but a big "BOOOOOOO" accompanied by fingers pointed at me! I can't describe how it felt! But it was so weird and shocking that I didn't do anything but smiling! In the very same day, during the recess, I remember bursting into tears on my best friend's shoulder!

I didn't cry because of the occupation thing, I didn't cry because the teacher said that the whole Lebanese soil was occupied and that he was wrong, I did because it was the first time I felt like a stranger, a minority or an intruder!

Then a few years later:

So I'm still in Egypt, still at the same school, same friends, same street...etc. It's the year 2000, the year when the Zionist army finally left the Lebanese Soil (except for Shebaa farms) because of the amazing Lebanese resistance.

She continues:

We went out later that day, I can't remember where. But I remember that when we reached the apartment's door, a guy approached us and said "Mabrouk, Rafa3to Rasna" (Meaning Congrats, You honored us). I can't describe how I felt. It was simply amazing.

That stranger and few (1 or 2) close friends probably were the only persons who congratulated us. My friends were happy for me when I told them about it. It didn't bother me really that they didn't call, and it doesn't bother me even now. We Arabs are weird! They're the same friends who BOOed, and I'm the same person who cried!!! It was still Egypt, and it was still Lebanon. Isn't it logical for the BOO to become a YAAY?

You may view the latest post at

Who Profits From Wars? [World War I edition]


General Smedley Butler

The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits - ah! that is another matter - twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent - the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket - and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people - didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump - or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company - and you can't have a war without nickel - showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public - even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought - and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it - so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches - one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 - count them if you live long enough - was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them - a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers - all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment - knapsacks and the things that go to fill them - crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them - and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up - and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee - with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator - to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses - that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.


Richard Widmark Dies at 93

Mini Biography

Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death (1947) in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death (1947) and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new generation of American movie actors who became stars in the post-World War II era. With fellow post-War stars Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum, Widmark brought a new kind of character to the screen in his character leads and supporting parts: a hardboiled type who does not actively court the sympathy of the audience (although Mitchum's hangdog demeanor marked him as the most endearing of the three). Widmark was not afraid to play deeply troubled, deeply conflicted, or just down right deeply corrupt characters. After his debut, Widmark would work steadily until he retired at the age of 76 in 1990, primarily as a character lead. His stardom would peak around the time he played the U.S. prosecutor in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) as the 1950s segued into the 1960s, but he would continue to act for another 30 years.

Richard Widmark was born on Boxing Day (the Day After Christmas) in 1914 in Sunrise, Minnesota. He says that he loved the movies from his boyhood, claiming "I've been a movie bug since I was 4. My grandmother used to take me". The teen-aged Widmark continued to go to the movies, and was thrilled by Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). "I thought Boris Karloff was great", Widmark said. Although he loved the movies and excelled at public speaking while attending high school, Widmark attended Lake Forest College with the idea of becoming a lawyer. However, he won the lead role in a college production of, fittingly enough, the play "Consellor-at-Law", and the acting bug bit deep. After taking his bachelor of arts degree in 1936, he stayed on at Lake Forest as the Assistant Director of Speech and Drama. However, he soon quit the job and moved to New York to become an actor, and by 1938, he was appearing on radio in "Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories". He made his Broadway debut in 1943 in the play "Kiss and Tell", and continued to appear on stage in roles that were light years away from the tough cookies he would play in his early movies. After World War II, he was signed by 20th Century Fox to a seven-year contract. After seeing his screen-test for the role of "Tommy Udo", 20th boss Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that the slight, blonde Widmark - no one's idea of a heavy, particularly after his stage work - be cast as the psychopath in Kiss of Death (1947), which had been prepared as a Victor Mature vehicle. Even though the role was small, Widmark stole the picture. 20th Century Fox's publicity department recommended that exhibitors market the film by concentrating on thumbing the tub for their new anti-hero.

"Sell Richard Widmark" advised the studio's publicity manual that an alert 20th Century Fox sent to theater owners. The manual told local exhibitors to engage a job-printer to have "Wanted" posters featuring Widmark's face to be printed and pasted up.

He won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod for the part, which lead to an early bout with typecasting at the studio.

Widmark played psychotics in The Street with No Name (1948) and Road House (1948), and held his own against new Fox superstar Gregory Peck in the William A. Wellman's Western, Yellow Sky (1948), playing the villain, of course. When he finally pressured the studio to let him play other parts, his appearance as a sailor in Down to the Sea in Ships (1949) made headlines: "Life" magazine's March 28, 1949 issue featured a three-page spread of the movie, headlined, "Widmark the Movie Villain Goes Straight". He was popular, having captured the public imagination, and before the decade was out, his hand and foot prints were immortalized in concrete in the court outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

The great director Elia Kazan cast Widmark in his thriller Panic in the Streets (1950) not as the heavy - that role went to Jack Palance - but as the physician who tracks down Palance, who has the plague, in tandem with detective 'Paul Douglas'. Widmark was establishing himself as a real presence in the genre that later would be hailed as "film noir".

Having proved he could handle other roles, Widmark didn't shy away from playing heavies in quality pictures. The soon-to-be-blacklisted director Jules Dassin cast him in one of his greatest roles, as the penny-ante hustler Harry Fabian in Night and the City (1950). Set in London, Widmark's Fabian manages to survive in the jungle of the English demimonde, but is doomed. Widmark was masterful in conveying the desperation of the criminal seeking to control his own fate but who is damned, and this performance also became an icon of film noir. In that same year, he appeared in Oscar-winning writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "No Way Out" as a bigot who instigates a race riot.

As the 1950s progressed, Widmark played in Westerns, military vehicles, and his old stand-by genre, the thriller. He appeared with Marilyn Monroe (this time cast as the psycho) in "Don't Bother to Knock" (1953) and made "Pick Up on South Street" that same year for director Samuel Fuller. His seven-year contract at Fox was expiring, and Zanuck - who would not renew the deal - cast him in the Western Broken Lance (1954) in a decidedly supporting role, billed beneath not only Spencer Tracy but even Robert Wagner and Jean Peters. The film was well-respected, and it won an Oscar nomination for best screenplay for the front of Hollywood 10 blacklistee Albert Maltz.

Widmark left Fox for the life of a freelance, forming his own company, Heath Productions. He appeared in more Westerns, adventures and social dramas, and pushed himself as an actor by taking the thankless role of The Dauphin in Otto Preminger's adaptation of 'George Bernard Shaw''s "Saint Joan" (1957), a notorious flop that didn't bring anyone any honors, neither Preminger, his leading lady Jean Seberg or Widmark. In 1960, he was appearing in another notorious production, 'John Wayne''s ode to suicidal patriotism, " The Alamo" (1960), with the personally liberal Widmark playing Jim Bowie in support of the very-conservative Wayne's Davy Crockett. Along with character actor Chill Wills, Widmark arguably was the best thing in the movie.

In 1961, Widmark acquitted himself quite well as the prosecutor in producer-director Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), appearing with the Oscar-nominated Spencer Tracy and the Oscar-winning 'Maximilian Schell', as well as with superstar Burt Lancaster and acting genius Montgomery Clift and the legendary 'Judy Garland' (the latter two winning Oscar nods for their small roles). Despite being showcased with all this thespian-firepower, Widmark's character proved to be the axis on which the drama turned.

A little later, Widmark appeared in two Westerns directed by the great 'John Ford', with co-star 'James Stewart' in "Two Rode Together" (1961) and as the top star in Ford's apologia for Indian genocide, "Cheyenne Autumn' (1964). On "Two Rode Together", Ford feuded with Jimmy Stewart over his hat. Stewart insisted on wearing the same hat he had for a decade of highly successful Westerns that had made him one of the top box office stars of the 1950s. Both he and Widmark were hard-of-hearing (as well as balding and in need of help from the makeup department's wig-makers), so Ford would sit himself far away from them while directing scenes and then give them directions in a barely audible voice. When neither one of the stars could hear their director, Ford theatrically announced to his crew, that after over 40 years in the business, he was reduced to directing two deaf toupees. It was testimony to the stature of both Stewart and Widmark as stars that this was as far as Ford's baiting went, as the great director could be extraordinarily cruel.

Widmark continued to co-star in A-pictures through the 1960s. He capped off the decade with one of his finest performances, as the amoral police detective in 'Don Siegel''s gritty cop melodrama "Madigan" (1968). Watching "Madigan", one can see Widmark's characters as a progression in the evolution of what would become the late 1960s nihilistic anti-hero, such as those embodied by Clint Eastwood in Siegel's later "Dirty Harry" (1971_.

Im the 1970s, he continued to make his mark in movies and, beginning in 1971, in television. In movies, he appeared primarily in supporting roles, albeit in highly billed fashion, in such films as Sidney Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express", Robert Aldrich's "Twilight's Last Gleaming", and Stanley Kramer's "The Domino Theory" (1977). He even came back as a heavy, playing the villainous doctor in "Coma" (1978). In 1971, in search of better roles, he turned to television, starring as the President of the U.S. In the TV movies " Vanished." His performance in the role brought Widmark an Emmy nomination. He resurrected the character of Madigan for NBC, in six 90-minute episodes that appeared as part of the rotation of "NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie" for the Fall 1972 season. Widmark was married for 55 years to playwright Jean Hazlewood, from 1942 until her death in 1997 (they had one child, Anne, who was born in 1945). He lived quietly and avoided the press, saying in 1971, "I think a performer should do his work and then shut up.". "Los Angeles Times" critic Kevin Thomas thought that Widmark should have won an Oscar nomination for his turn in "When the Legends Die" (1972, playing a former rodeo star tutoring 'Frederic Forrest'. It is surprising to think that "Kiss of Death" represented his sole Oscar nomination, but with the rise of the respect for film noir around the time his career began tapering off in 70s, he began to be reevaluated as an actor. Unlike Bogart, who did not live to see his reputation flourish after his death, well before he retired, Widmark became a cult figure.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Boots McCain, Rambo Hillary and Whiskers Obama

"We're succeeding. I don't care what anybody says. I've seen the facts on the ground," McCain said.

Rambo Hillary landed in Bosnia under "sniper fire," adding: "There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." Clinton used to tell Iowa audiences: ""We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."

“Obama has exaggerated his role in reaching a compromise in the Senate on immigration as well as his authorship of a bill to address the housing crisis. Voters need to weigh such distortions when they consider whether the freshman senator from Illinois truly is a new breed of politician.”

Ron Fournier, AP

The fourth major candidate still running is Ron Paul. Even he will not rail against the obscene profits of the medical industry.

So, the news that politicians lie should not come as any great surprise. Our future President will have flaws. It comes with the territory.

The nation has survived the antics of fools and charlatans for over 200 years. God loves drunks and the USA. Take my word for it.

Iran: Cheney Reveals Paranoid Zeal

Many paranoids exhibit a mechanism called reaction formation. Unable to cope with their evil thoughts, they project their anxieties on others.

"Obviously, they're ... heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons grade levels," Cheney said in an interview with ABC television transcribed by the White House.

Once they hear such a lie, the viewers absorb it at least subliminally. The next time heard the lie becomes more palpable. Hammered into the brain daily backed by MSM, it becomes a well-known ‘fact’ readily disseminated among boob tube fans.

After WWII the USA imported Nazis adept in information control. They taught Madison Avenue, the National Security Agency and the Republicans [eventually] how to persuade the public of any nonsense at all.

Television grew with gas guzzlers, the Red Menace and fluoridated drinking water. The Feds set the limits on debate dummying down the school kids for three generations.

To many Americans born after 1946 the words such as ‘negotiation’ and ‘compromise’ are foreign concepts. “Send in the Marines” is the stock foreign policy.

“Kill them before they kill us” is the excuse.

Sex is Illegal in Muleshoe Texas

Sex is Illegal in Muleshoe Texas

The common excuse for eccentricity is being kicked in the head by a horse. I imagine being struck by a mule shoe would have a similar effect.
Once, I bought a Stetson in Alvin Texas. Driving East I didn't see a horse until I crossed the Louisiana border. Cows were rare until I got to Florida.
The steak was Okay, but the hamburger lacked fingerprints.
If no one had made love to a hamburger, why would I want to eat it? My traveling companion at the time bore many fingerprints. She didn't come from Muleshoe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Ends Do Not Justify the Means

Rewarding Assassins

'Colombia: Reward for FARC Guerrilla for Killing His Commander'

by Carlos Raúl van der Weyden Velásquez

On March 7th, 2008, it was revealed that guerrilla commander José Juvenal Velandia, aka Iván Ríos, had been killed. Ríos was a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Secretariat, whose number two in command, Luis Édgar Devia, aka Raúl Reyes, had been killed earlier in the month, unleashing a diplomatic crisis with Ecuador, Venezuela, and Nicaragua (Reyes died in a camp inside Ecuador).

First it was thought that the Colombian Army had killed Velandia, but as the afternoon passed, the truth came to light: it turned out Pedro Pablo Montoya, aka Rojas, one of his bodyguards, had murdered Ríos to get a reward from the Colombian government:

Montoya [...] shot his boss Rios with a single bullet to the head, and then killed Ríos's girlfriend. He then cut off Ríos's right hand to take to the security forces to prove he had killed the rebel leader, a member of FARC's seven-man secretariat.

One week later, and after a controversy, on March 14, the government decided to pay Montoya and another guerrilla member a US $2.5 million reward, for the "information" which allowed Iván Ríos to be found. But according to weekly news magazine Cambio's March 13 issue, a former guerrilla gave the information which allowed the Colombian Army to infiltrate FARC's Central Bloc and, through the help of the informant, who was in contact with Rojas, which instigated the latter to kill his commander.

At the digital magazine equinoXio [es], Marsares says:

Al dificultarse su captura, se le da instrucciones para que lo mate, como efectivamente lo hizo, convirtiéndose en instigador del crimen el propio Gobierno que se coloca por encima de la ley. Sencillo. Si no puedes capturar a tu enemigo, ¡mátalo!

A Ríos se le acusaba de haber cometido delitos de lesa humanidad, crímenes de guerra y delitos comunes, es cierto, pero según la Constitución, debía comparecer ante los jueces de la República para luego de ser oído y vencido en juicio, imponérsele una pena. Su ejecución extrajudicial no diferencia al Gobierno de las que hace la misma guerrilla, porque ambas carecen de legitimidad y violan nuestro ordenamiento jurídico. Al gobierno sólo le compete la labor de capturarlos, salvo un enfrentamiento armado que determine su muerte.

When his capture became difficult, they [the Colombian Army] instructed [Rojas] to kill him, as he indeed did, making the Government, who puts itself above the Law, the instigator of the crime. It's simple. If you can't capture your enemy, kill him! Ríos was accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and common crimes, that's true, but according to the Constitution, he should have appeared before the judges of the Republic to be, after being heard and defeated in trial, sentenced. His execution outside of the law does not differentiate the Government from those perpetrated by guerrilla, because both lack legitimacy and violate our legal system. The Government has the duty to capture them, unless there is an armed confrontation which determines their death.

Liberal Colombiano [es] seems to agree with Marsares in his blog:

No se pueden lograr buenos objetivos con malos medios. No se puede mejorar la seguridad y alcanzar promoviendo y pagando por asesinatos. La política de delaciones esta bien para DELACIONES. Nunca para asesinatos. El estado no debe pagar por el crimen de "Ivan Ríos" a menos que de verdad se demuestre que fue en legítima defensa. El derecho a la vida es inviolable e inalienable. [...] Ojala que lo sucedido con Rojas lleve a algunas personas a la reflexión sobre los límites de la acción estatal.

La pregunta de fondo siempre será: que le esta permitido al Estado?

You can't achieve good goals through poor means. You can't improve security by promoting and paying for murders. The tip-off policy is fine for TIP-OFFS. Never for murders. The State should not pay for Iván Ríos' crime unless it's really proved that it was in legitimate defense. The right to live is inviolable and inalienable [...] I wish what happened to Rojas leads some people to reflect about the limits of State action. The bottom question will always be: what's the State allowed to do?

Bloggings by Boz summarizes the debate. These are the pros:

Rojas did bring an end to a top FARC commander (which is the reason the reward exists), possibly saving lives in the process. Additionally, the government wants to create the incentive for other FARC combatants to desert and turn over information about their commanders, and failing to give Rojas the reward could harm that effort. This reward has the added bonus of possibly creating internal dissent within the FARC.

And here are the cons:

Most of the reasons not to give the reward focus on the fact Rojas was a FARC combatant for 16 years and confessed to murdering his commander. Private citizens murdering other citizens does not help the Colombian government's overall goal to enhance the state's legitimate authority across the country. Rewards are meant for citizens to provide information for the government to act on, not for them to act as a mercenary.

At the end, Boz finds himself

tempted to support giving the reward because I want to see the reward program work and I want to see more mid-level FARC commanders desert and turn in information about their superiors. However, a democratic state should not offer mercenary payments. It's a tough rule, but the Colombian government is not going to win back control of the state by taking short cuts.

Finally, Ricardo Buitrago Consuegra is overtly supportive of the payment [es]:

Nadie cuando se instauro la política de recompensas, previo este caso, como nadie, alcanzo nunca a imaginarse, la degradación a la que llegarían los grupos al margen de la ley y la misma sociedad. La recompensa debe pagarse. No hacerlo, seria un pésimo mensaje a miembros de la guerrilla susceptibles de delación de que el estado no cumple. Se constituiría en un retroceso en la aplicación de la política de recompensas, que ha sido fundamental, en el quiebre que ahora se vislumbra en la organización guerrillera. ¿Si el país entero se alegra por la muerte de delincuentes, cual es la razón de privar de la recompensa a quien propicia la alegría? Por lo tanto, o dejamos de ser hipócritas y aceptamos la degradación de nuestros principios, o nos convencemos que en guerra, el pago de este tipo de recompensas se mira desde otro contexto. En ambos casos, a pagar se dijo.

When the reward policy was established, no one could ever imagine to what point the illegal armed groups would go and where Colombian society would reach. The reward must be paid. Not to do it would be a dreadful message to the members of the guerrillas willing to tip-off that the State does not carry out their agreements. It would become a step back in the application of the reward policy, which has been essential getting a glimpse into the guerrilla organization. If the entire country is pleased with the death of the criminals, what's the reason to stopy the reward to those that provide that joy? Therefore, either we stop being hypocrites and accept the degradation of our own principles or become convinced that, in a war, the payment of this kind of rewards can be seen from another context. In both cases, it's time to pay.

On Wednesday it was learned that Rojas will have to answer for other crimes [es], such as "conspiracy for drug trafficking, terrorism, and multiple homicide" relating to massacres he allegedly helped to perpetrate, according to Colombia's Attorney General Office. This should keep the former FARC guerrilla in jail for a while. At the moment, Rojas is staying in a military facility in Risaralda Department, Western Colombia.

You may view the latest post at

Shrpaev's Last Post: Creating Dissenters for Sport

Shurpaev’s Last Post

'Russia: Two Dagestani Journalists Killed'

by Veronica Khokhlova

Shurpaev's last blog entry (RUS) has received much attention both in the Russian blogosphere and in the media. In it, he wrote that he'd been "blacklisted" by a Dagestani newspaper critical of the republic's president:

Here we go! I'm a [dissident] now! Not sure if I should laugh or cry. I already wrote here that there's a battle going on at one Dagestani paper between its journalists and founders. The latter, according to the journalists, wanted to use them as informational killers. The potential killers [the journalists] rebelled. But all this business is way too serious and I don't understand it. But here's what blew me away. The founders came up with a list of people who it's forbidden to publish in this paper, mention them or [...] even interact with them in the newspaper's building. And there I am, in the front row! Heading the list! The funniest thing is that I've never written anything subversive for this paper - only notes on my travels, in which I did not touch upon the political situation in Zimbabwe, but just describe where I'd been, what I'd eaten and who I'd seen. I haven't taken part in the political life of the republic [Dagestan] or even of my region, because I'm lazy and,
in general, I had to go to the gym and take my daughter to the movies and to the playground. And then boom! Such a turn of events... Perhaps the [newspaper's] founders know something about me that I do not know myself? Maybe I should do the "suitcase-train station-Israel" thing, so as not to become a second [Khodorkovsky]? Anyways. Matilda [a frequent anonymous addressee of Shurpaev's blog postings]! Knit me some woolen socks. Just in case. The size is 43 1/2. [...]

Among other individuals on the newspaper's "black list" was Gadzhi Abashilov, head of Dagestan's state TV. Around 8 PM on Friday, Abashilov was shot dead in the republic's capital, Makhachkala.

Timur Aliev posted some thoughts (RUS) on this murder as well:

The second murder of a Dagestani journalist in two days - now, following Ilyas Shurpaev (in Moscow), Gadzhi Abashilov has been killed in Makhachkala.

I don't know whether these two murders are connected. But here's one version (I do not possess any insider information whatsoever). Abashilov was a pro-government journalist, a media bureaucrat - head of the "Dagestan" [State TV and Radio Company]. Ilyas [Shurpaev] could have also been perceived to have ties with the government - because he worked for [state-owned Channel One] - the main federal channel. Both were on some list of journalists who had been banned from being published and mentioned in an independent (and, lately, more of an oppositional) Dagestani newspaper. Thus, they were both identified more like pro-government people.

This leads to two conclusions (of course, only in case these two murders originate from the same source) - either the opposition is retaliating, or someone wants to compromise the opposition - namely, [Suleiman Kerimov] (who has been mentioned as the newspaper's sponsor). [...]

According to media reports on the ongoing investigation, the killings of Shurpaev and Abashilov are not connected.

You may view the latest post at