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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Food is the main cause of ADHD," researcher Lidy Pelsser told NPR earlier this month.Pelsser led a Norwegian team which found that more than 60 percent of kids diagnosed with ADHD were actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to certain processed foods"...

Food coloring linked to ADHD? Ditch those gummy bears
Posted by Neil Katz

(CBS/AP) If you are worried about your child and ADHD, it might be time to ditch the gummy bears and other colorful treats.

This week an FDA advisory panel will decide whether available data links artificial food dyes and the disorder. The results could lead to new warning labels on foods that kids love, such as Jello, sugared cereals, and even macaroni and cheese.

The government previously ruled that there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in most children. And the panel is unlikely to ban the petroleum-based dyes in question, such as Yellow 5, Red 40 and six others.

But consumer advocates and a growing body of scientists say evidence is mounting that processed foods - including those with artificial dyes - may play a role in the inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity that characterize attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"Food is the main cause of ADHD," researcher Lidy Pelsser told NPR earlier this month.

Pelsser led a Norwegian team which found that more than 60 percent of kids diagnosed with ADHD were actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to certain processed foods. The team found that a 5-week diet that worked to figure out which foods were causing the problem produced astounding results.

"After the diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior," Pelsser told NPR. Their work, which didn't single out artificial food coloring and wasn't effective for all children, was published in the Lancet.

The FDA's recent attentiveness to the issue stems from a 2008 petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which asked the government to ban synthetic food dyes. "It is medically and ethically unwise to burden hyperactive children and their parents with concerns about foods with synthetic dyes," they wrote.

Naturally, food manufacturers disagree. "All of the major safety bodies globally have reviewed the available science and have determined that there is no demonstrable link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity among children," the Grocery Manufacturers Association said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

Radioactive iodine found in Pennsylvania rain water...

PA Rainwater, Small Traces of Fallout
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Over the weekend, small traces of radioactive iodine -131 from Japan’s nuclear crisis, were detected in Pennsylvania rain water. Tests showed no serious risk to drinking water. Harrisburg Bureau Chief Robert Swift reports:

“The bottom line is our public drinking water is safe,” Corbett said on the 32nd anniversary of the start of the nation’s worst nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, south of Harrisburg.

“Follow up tests of public drinking water during the weekend by the state Department of Environmental Protection at six locations across the state, including East Stroudsburg and Williamsport, showed normal levels of radioactivity and no radioiodine-131 present, Corbett said.”

Corbett assured that the levels are too low to have any harmful effects on those who get their drinking water from wells and springs.

CIA holds back release of documents about Iran and Congo...

CIA Holds Back Release of Documents about Iran and Congo…From 1950s and 1960s
Noel Brinkerhoff
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Considered a valuable source for understanding American policymaking overseas, the State Department’s “Foreign Relations of the United States” series has been missing important accounts about Iran and Congo due to CIA opposition.

The unpublished volumes deal with Iran from 1952-1954 and Congo 1960-1968, when the CIA worked to overthrow the democratically-elected governments of both countries. The spy agency has successfully stonewalled lengthy assessments of these periods despite a 1991 law requiring the State Department to publish such accounts within 30 years of their occurrence.

The Congo manuscript was cleared for release in 2003 by the State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee. However, CIA officials have delayed its publication, claiming that they want to protect information about paid informants, the identity of the station chief during the 1960s, and how much was spent on covert operations.

The Iran compilation was completed in early 2004, but the CIA has objected to its release, blaming British concerns about the joint U.S.-U.K. overthrow of Iran’s elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, even though it does not contain any MI-6 documents, and other published accounts have spelled out the United Kingdom’s role in the coup.

"Lots has changed on Elmer's Island. Nearly a year after the great oilpocalypse of 2010, this Louisiana wildlife refuge about 50 miles south of New Orleans isn't crawling with teams of cleanup workers raking big black pools of crude off the sand; there's no cleanup machinery or equipment; the only immediately visible remnants of the BP/Deepwater Horizon spill are the occasional tarballs, big as a kid's head, that wash onto the shore"...

BP Still Doesn't Want You to See Its Tarballs
—By Mac McClelland
Wed Mar. 30, 2011 3:00 AM PDT.

Lots has changed on Elmer's Island. Nearly a year after the great oilpocalypse of 2010, this Louisiana wildlife refuge about 50 miles south of New Orleans isn't crawling with teams of cleanup workers raking big black pools of crude off the sand; there's no cleanup machinery or equipment; the only immediately visible remnants of the BP/Deepwater Horizon spill are the occasional tarballs, big as a kid's head, that wash onto the shore.

Not that I can just waltz onto this public beach to see all that—not everything has changed. Like some lame iteration of Groundhog Day, the hundredth time I try to pull onto the Elmer's Island access road from Highway 1 in southern Louisiana—some 200 days after the last time I tried it—I am, once again, stopped. Last year, it was cops blocking the road. Now it's private security hired by BP.

"You have to get permission from central command to come on here, and then you'll probably have to be escorted by an official," the security guard tells me.

"How hard is it to get permission?"

"Usually pretty hard." She says a local reporter couldn't get through recently.

At Grand Isle State Park, about 10 miles down the 1, it's the same story. My friend and I run into a two-man camera crew from Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcast network, who've been denied access to the beach. The producer asks if he can turn the camera on me.

"A year after the spill, is BP being more cooperative with the press?" he asks me.

"Apparently not!" I say, though he already knows the answer; he's just told me he calls and calls and calls, and BP refuses over and over to answer his questions about anything.

At the entrance to Grand Isle State Park, we're issued the same warning DW was, that the beach is closed to the press and everyone else because there are workers on it. That doesn't seem like that good of a reason to keep a reporter off a beach, and in any case it is a lie. Last August, when I walked out of sight of the park staffer at the entrance and onto the beach, two private guards escorted me away. This time, the beach is deserted of rent-a-cops and cleanup workers alike. It's covered in tarballs, little and sometimes not-so-little brown blemishes all over the sand. They're shiny and smell like gas when you break them open.

After a while, some workers arrive. Five of them. One shows me how they get the tarballs. He's holding a broken-off rake handle; he's taped a lens from a pair of sunglasses to the end of it, which he uses to scoop up the tar. He was originally issued a shovel, but the workers, finding this wildly inefficient, now make their own tools. In his other hand he's got a rake with too much space between the tines to pick up smaller pieces of tar. He affixed mesh to the inside of it. "I've had this job since May," he says. There's a laminated "Ten Ways To Be A Successful Husband" card in the pocket of his denim shirt. "We're just grateful for the work."

Asked if any of this oil is from the new, non-BP spill that started washing up on Grand Isle last week, he says no, that's already all been cleaned up, anything that's left over is still Deepwater Horizon oil. A group of Coast Guard guys I ran into earlier said the same thing. BP spokesperson Blake Scott also confirms this after I make it through security at central command.

When I ask him for permission to go to Elmer's Island, he informs me, "No. It's closed. It closes at 5 and it's already 5:15."

"Actually, it's only 4:15."

"Well, what do you want to do there?"

After many assurances that I will do nothing of any consequence on the island and that I have no intention of leaving his trailer office, Scott gives the go-ahead. As long as I stay away from the cleanup workers. For safety.

But there aren't any anyway this late in the day. Even at peak hours there are only 15 on this 230-acre wildlife refuge. The security guard tailing us is the only other person on the beach. The cleanup is basically done. There's just the big tarballs, a couple of which my companion picks up. An hour later he claims that his hand is burning, which I remember happening when I plunged my fingers in the stuff last year. BP is about to pull out and turn Elmer's back over to the state.

Most of Grand Isle beach has already been handed back over. There aren't last summer's ubiquitous "BEACH CLOSED" signs, or security guards or cops tearing around on ATVs kicking people off. April 1 is traditionally the start of big tourism ramp-up, and it remains to be seen whether this summer's visitors will reach pre-spill levels. Steve Chevalier, the owner of the Tropical Motel, thinks the rotten economy and politicians selling the whole country off to China might be more likely to keep people away than the oil.

Right now, on the open beach, where there used to be a giant sand-washing machine, there are actual vacationers. A guy flies a shark kite. Kids in bathing suits splash around in the waves. Between the tarballs on Elmer's to the west and the state park to the east, people are enjoying the beach, just like they were the day oil first made landfall here.

London set to limit right to protest...

London set to limit right to protest
Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:40AM

The British government has announced controversial plans to ban protestors from taking part in public gatherings following the weekend anti-cuts rallies, which were marred by violence.

Based on a proposal by Home Secretary Theresa May, the police may be given new powers to prevent so-called hooligans from attending rallies and marches while officers will also be authorized to force demonstrators, who do not want to be known, to remove their face-scarves and balaclavas.

The announcement has raised concerns among MPs who say no hasty decision should be made on the issue as the police may abuse the “stop and search” powers to target ordinary people rather than “known hooligans”.

May outlined her plans during an emergency Commons briefing on the violent incidents, which marred the Saturday rally organized by the Trades Union Congress.

May told the MPs that she is considering “banning orders” similar to those used against football hooligans for the demonstrators who police thinks may turn to violence.

She also said officers should force more protestors to remove their masks and balaclavas to help the police quickly identify participants in the rallies.

"Just as the police review their operational tactics, so the Home Office will review the powers available to the police. I have asked the police whether they need further powers to prevent violence before it occurs. I am willing to consider powers which would ban known hooligans from rallies and marches and I will look into the powers the police already have to force the removal of face-coverings and balaclavas,” May said.

While the Metropolitan Police earlier said it has charged 149 people out of more than 200 arrested during the Saturday rallies with various offenses, at least five people have lodged complaints with Scotland Yard about police violence against marchers.

The Met said on Monday that it has charged 138 people in connection with the sit-in at Fortnum & Mason luxury store for charges including aggravated trespass.

However, the UK Uncut, which organized the sit-in dismissed any claims that those participating in the Fortnum & Mason incident resorted to violence.

"This was not a protest by people wearing balaclavas and breaking things. It was a peaceful and mild-mannered gathering by people from all walks of life - teachers, hospital workers, charity workers,” said Tim Matthews, a spokesman for UK Uncut.

"People who took part now find themselves charged with a criminal offence simply for exercising their right to protest," he added.

This come as Tom Brake MP, co-chair of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary policy committee on home affairs, justice and equalities warned the government against “a knee-jerk reaction” to what happened.

"Clearly there was a small minority who were out to cause trouble. We need to look in detail into whether the police have sufficient powers to tackle that, or whether they can be deployed differently to ensure such violent scenes don't happen again," Brake said.

US Navy working on laser that will blast through 2,000 feet of steel per second by 2020...

Navy Laser will Blast through 2,000 Feet of Steel per Second by 2020
By Evan Ackerman
Dvice | March 28, 2011

The Office of Naval Research has been working away on a suite of futuristic weapons, but it’s hard to think of anything that could out-gun its free-electron laser, which by the mid 2020s, should be capable of slicing straight through 2,000 feet of steel every second.

The U.S. Navy has been working on directed energy weapons for years now, and for good reason: warships are the ideal platform for a powerful laser, at least initially, since they’ve got both the space and the power that weapons-grade laser systems require. These first lasers (to be deployed within the next decade) are likely to be traditional solid-state lasers that fire coherent beams of light, kinda like laser pointers. But unlike (most) laser pointers, these ones will be in the hundreds of kilowatts range, easily capable of blowing stuff up.

The problem with solid state lasers, though, is that the wavelength of light that they pump out is fixed, and depending on the weather, the beam can get significantly weaker over distance. So, the laser of choice by 2020 will be the far sexier free-electron laser, which can output energy in multiple wavelengths and doesn’t require any of the bulky and heavy solid-state infrastructure.

Free-electron lasers are basically just particle accelerators that can convert fast-moving electrons into photons. The more electrons you stuff into them, the more photons they spit out, at whatever wavelength (or wavelengths) you want. In February, the Navy’s prototype free-electron laser produced a 200 kilowatt beam capable of burning its way through 20 feet of steel per second. Ultimately, the target is a megawatt of power, which would mean eating a hole 2,000 feet of steel per second.

Currently, the free-electron laser is about the size of a football field, which is a bit too big to install on anything short of an aircraft carrier. But as improvements in technology enable the laser to shrink, it’ll also become more efficient, and by 2015 the goal is to get it down to 50 feet by 20 feet by 10 feet. And by 2020? It might be smaller still, able to fit into helicopters and drones, and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine something small enough to be handheld by 2030.

"In Libya, the Gaddafi regime plunged the nation into digital darkness during the first week of March, where it has remained. In Bahrain, the kingdom reacted swiftly to pro-democracy demonstrations by filtering sites that let locals share cell phone videos, blocking YouTube pages containing videos of street protests, and taking down a large Facebook group that called for more demonstrations. And even in Egypt, despite the departure of (Hosni) Mubarak, the interim military authority has taken a harsh stand against pro-democracy activists, while trying to stop the sharing of looted state security files, which reveal the extent to which the government uses the Web to spy on Egyptians.These accounts of Internet abuse have not gone unnoticed. Less known, however, is the degree to which U.S. and European companies have enabled the crackdown"...

Corporations and the Arab Net Crackdown
By Timothy Karr and Clothilde Le Coz , March 25, 2011

Springtime in the Arab world is looking bleaker now that despots in Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen and reactionary elements in Egypt have gained an upper hand against the pro-democracy protesters who have inspired the world. And the Internet, hailed sometimes in excess as a potent tool for these movements, has itself come under increasing fire from these and other autocratic states seeking to crush popular dissent.

In Libya, the Gaddafi regime plunged the nation into digital darkness during the first week of March, where it has remained. In Bahrain, the kingdom reacted swiftly to pro-democracy demonstrations by filtering sites that let locals share cell phone videos, blocking YouTube pages containing videos of street protests, and taking down a large Facebook group that called for more demonstrations. And even in Egypt, despite the departure of Mubarak, the interim military authority has taken a harsh stand against pro-democracy activists, while trying to stop the sharing of looted state security files, which reveal the extent to which the government uses the Web to spy on Egyptians.

These accounts of Internet abuse have not gone unnoticed. Less known, however, is the degree to which U.S. and European companies have enabled the crackdown.

Corporate Enablers

Egypt’s Internet crackdown appears to have been aided by Narus, a Boeing-owned surveillance technology provider that sold Telecom Egypt "real-time traffic intelligence" software that filters online communications and tracks them to their source.

Israeli security experts founded Narus to create and sell mass surveillance systems for governments and large corporate clients. It is known for creating NarusInsight, a supercomputer system that is allegedly being used by the National Security Agency and other entities to provide a “full network view” of suspected Internet communications as they happen.

Narus has also provided surveillance technology to Libya, according to James Bamford, author of 2008’s The Shadow Factory. In 2005, the company struck a multimillion-dollar agreement with Giza Systems of Egypt to license Narus’ Web-sleuthing products throughout the Middle East. Giza Systems services the Libyan network.

British-owned Vodafone shut down its Egypt-based cellphone network following a request from the Mubarak regime and then restored it only to send pro-Mubarak propaganda to text-messaging customers across the country. When digital rights groups like AccessNow.org protested Vodafone’s actions, the company stated that it could do nothing to stop those texts, because it was forced to abide by the country's emergency laws.

Bahrain reportedly filtered and blocked websites using “SmartFilter” software supplied by the U.S. company McAfee, which Intel acquired late last year. Despite widespread reports of its use, company executives claim that they have “no control over, or visibility into how an organization implements its own filtering policy."

Cisco Systems, a leading manufacturer of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) systems , a content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track, and target content from users of the Internet and mobile phones, is a major partner in Bahrain. In 2009, the San Jose, California-based company joined with the kingdom to open an Internet Data Center in Bahrain’s capital “as an essential component in the drive to improve government services to the populace.”

The extent to which Cisco’s own DPI products are part of this deal remains to be seen. Executives at Cisco would not return our requests for comment on the nature of its involvement in Bahrain.

Nokia and Siemens also support Libya’s cell phone network. A joint venture between these two firms was heavily criticized in 2009 for reportedly assisting the Iranian regime’s crackdown against cyber-dissidents. It’s difficult to know whether they assisted the Libyan government, since Nokia Siemens' PR didn’t return our call, either.

Leading by Action

In mid-February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about a new U.S. Internet freedom policy designed to help democracy movements gain access to open networks and speak out against authoritarian regimes. As part of this initiative, the State Department will provide tens of millions of dollars in new grants to support "technologists and activists working at the cutting edge of the fight against Internet repression."

Secretary Clinton spoke of the Obama administration's belief in our universal "freedom to connect," something the White House sees as a natural extension of our longstanding rights to free speech, assembly, and association.

Yet it's hard to claim the moral high road and lecture other countries on the importance of online freedom when U.S. companies are exporting DPI systems and other technology to regimes intent on spying on their own people and turning the open Internet into a means of repression.

Asking Clinton’s deputy director James Steinberg about this inconsistency during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in February, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)brought up Narus’ dealings with the Mubarak regime. “It is an awful tool of repression,” Smith said, “and Narus, according to these reports, is enabling this invasion of privacy.” Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) continued the questioning, going so far as to say that "people are losing their lives based on this technology." Keating called on Steinberg to investigate U.S. companies that sell DPI technology overseas. In a subsequent press statement, Keating pledged to introduce legislation "that would provide a national strategy to prevent the use of American technology from being used by human rights abusers."

Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, penned a Politico op-ed slamming the U.S. technology industry for “failing to address serious human rights challenges.” He wrote, “If U.S. companies are unwilling to take reasonable steps to protect human rights," Durbin wrote, “Congress must step in.”

Pledges to act are encouraging, but far less so than action itself. As of now, we have seen little of substance to defend our freedom to connect against companies and their despotic clients that seek to take it away.

NATO chief opens the door to Libya ground troops...

NATO Chief Opens The Door to Libya Ground Troops
By Spencer Ackerman March 29, 2011 | 11:21 am

The mantra, from President Obama on down, is that ground forces are totally ruled out for Libya. After all, the United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing the war explicitly rules out any “occupation” forces. But leave it to the top military officer of NATO, which takes over the war on Wednesday, to add an asterisk to that ban.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Adm. James Stavridis about NATO putting forces into “post-Gadhafi” Libya to make sure the country doesn’t fall apart. Stavridis said he “wouldn’t say NATO’s considering it yet.” But because of NATO’s history of putting peacekeepers in the Balkans — as pictured above — “the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”

So welcome to a new possible “endgame” for Libya. Western troops patrolling Libya’s cities during a a shaky transition after Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has fallen, however that’s supposed to happen. Thousands of NATO troops patrolled Bosnia and Kosovo’s tense streets for years. And Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. and NATO very dearly that fierce insurgent conflict can follow the end of a brutal regime. In fact, it’s the moments after the regime falls that can be the most dangerous of all — especially if well-intentioned foreign troops become an object of local resentment.

In fact, Stavridis told Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that he saw “flickers of intelligence” indicating “al-Qaeda [and] Hezbollah” have fighters amongst the Libyan rebels. The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO noted that the leadership of the rebels are “responsible men and women struggling against Col. Gadhafi” and couldn’t say if the terrorist element in the opposition is “significant.” But the U.S. knows precious little about who the Libyan rebels are.

The new prospect of NATO force on the ground in Libya seemed to alarm Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who got Stavridis to say that there’s “no discussion of the insertion of ground troops” in NATO circles. (And “to my knowledge” there aren’t troops there now, he said.) But Stavridis told Reed that the memory of the long NATO peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans is “in everyone’s mind.”

President Obama boasted about the rapidity with which the U.S. and its allies got involved in Libya. Some defense wonks, like Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, criticized Obama’s team for not exhibiting diligent planning before Operation Odyssey Dawn began. Obama didn’t signal an endgame in his Monday speech, just vowing not to use any ground forces to get there.

That was exactly what President Clinton promised in Bosnia — right before sending 20,000 U.S. soldiers to enforce the 1995 Balkans peace deal. Because of the U.S.’ commitments to NATO and NATO’s commitments to enforcing the peace accord, U.S. peacekeepers ended up staying there for a decade. That history may be weighing on officers in Europe, but the Obama administration doesn’t seem to be so troubled.

Update, 12:08 p.m.: Stavridis argued that it’s “premature” to talk about an exit strategy for Libya. And as a way of underscoring NATO’s resolve, he reminded senators that nearly 12 years after NATO’s Kosovo air war, there are still 5000 peacekeepers in Kosovo, including 700 Americans.

Update, 12:33 p.m.: Got a question about the difference between Stavridis’ two jobs — chief of U.S. European Command and NATO military leader — as it applies to Libya? Check out a blog post Stavridis wrote about it on Monday.

Update, 2:25 p.m.: I asked Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, about sending ground troops during a post-Gadhafi phase. Any such “international peacekeeping force” would have to occur “through the United Nations, as well as the structures we’re setting up in NATO,” and would require an “assessment of what the security needs are in post-Gadhafi Libya,” he said. But as for a U.S. contribution, “I would rule it out for the time being. … the U.S. has no plans, we’re not doing any planning to have any boots on the ground in any fashion.”

"When (Barack) Obama, in apparent horror, spoke of the alleged rape of a Libyan by Gaddafi’s troops, who could fail to remember the images from Abu Ghraib, where sexual assault and humiliation of Iraqis on a grand scale by the U.S. military was the order of the day? When Obama spoke of protecting Libyan citizens from murder by (Muammar) Qaddafi, evidence for which supposed pogroms has failed to be presented, who could fail to be reminded of the drone bombings in Pakistan that have killed unnumbered civilians, or the indiscriminate killings in Afghanistan, where NATO (US) forces just three days ago bombed a car, "accidentally" killing seven civilians: two men, two women and three children? ...Certainly U.S. complicity and support of regimes in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, not to mention Israel, give the lie to any claim that the U.S. is the world watchdog and protector of human rights"

Obama Expands Bush Doctrine
By Dr. Rec
30 Mar 2011

Obama unleashed a rhetorical onslaught last night in a speech aimed at garnering support for the ten-day-old intervention in Libya. With rhetorical flourishes, self-assurance, and swagger seen infrequently if at all since his campaign presentations, he let forth a verbal barrage of no inconsiderable force. He figured the United States as the protector of the world’s hostages to tyranny, the protector of the innocent victims to potential genocide, the rescuer of the hapless from imminent slaughter.

This was the intent of the speech delivered, and, although it may have worked on a segment of the target audience, it could not but have failed on a majority. This audience includes not only those believers who accept prima facie Obama’s benevolence and largesse as a matter of unambiguous fact. It also includes the right-wing for whom no invasion by a Democrat could ever be grand enough, be aimed at the right enemy, or succeed at killing enough putative villains. But it also includes the left-leaning members of his party, however weak and ineffectual their putative opposition, as well as an understandably cynical mass of American citizens weary of war and tired of funding massacres while they face financial woes and insecurities unmatched since the Great Depression. Most of this latter contingent has tuned out in advance, and will hear nothing but clips, if that. Obama’s confidence may translate into their acquiescence, but it isn’t as if they have any say in the matter in any case.

Given that the U.S. citizenry has no choice but to fund a third major war in the Middle East and Africa, without Congressional approval let alone their own approbation, one has to wonder just why Obama addressed the nation at all. Such speeches as Obama gave last night, and Bush had given in during his tenure, are rationalizations of foregone conclusions.

And thus we are led to wonder just who Obama may have hoped most to persuade and encourage. This is the U.S. military itself, which explains, in part, why Obama chose to present his speech at the National Defense University, rather than in the White House Oval Office, and early enough (7:30 EST) so that it wouldn’t pre-empt prime-time television. That is, the speech was a pro forma exercise where the vast majority is concerned, and an obsequious ingratiation in terms of the military audience, a military whose utter disillusionment and sense of absurdity has precipitated a series of heinous barbarities and crimes against humanity.

The audience thus includes members of the military who have lost faith in its imperialist expeditions. These are completely unsure who the enemy is and why they are fighting them, in whatever theatre they may find themselves.

And when the military is brought to mind, who could fail to think of the "American values" that recently came to light in Afghanistan, where a "kill team" of soldiers, under the indifference if not complicity of their military commanders, murdered helpless and innocent farmers and other civilians without remorse, posed and toyed with their dead corpses, and used their fingers as chips in poker games?

When Obama, in apparent horror, spoke of the alleged rape of a Libyan by Gaddafi’s troops, who could fail to remember the images from Abu Ghraib, where sexual assault and humiliation of Iraqis on a grand scale by the U.S. military was the order of the day?

When Obama spoke of protecting Libyan citizens from murder by Qaddafi, evidence for which supposed pogroms has failed to be presented, who could fail to be reminded of the drone bombings in Pakistan that have killed unnumbered civilians, or the indiscriminate killings in Afghanistan, where NATO (US) forces just three days ago bombed a car, "accidentally" killing seven civilians: two men, two women and three children?

Thus, when Obama used the terms "interests and values," we know that the nebulous "values" is an utterly empty signifier used to complement the overcharged and unexplained term "interests." That is, when Obama spoke of American "values and interests," one can safely drop the "values," because U.S. imperialism has none. That leaves U.S. "interests" alone.

Acknowledging critics who "argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world," Obama suggested that while Washington cannot intervene "wherever repression occurs, we must always measure our interests against the need for action." This is the closest Obama came to explaining the rationale for yet another unprovoked war. Certainly U.S. complicity and support of regimes in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, not to mention Israel, give the lie to any claim that the U.S. is the world watchdog and protector of human rights.

And what are the U.S. interests in Libya? Obama hinted at this as well, with his mention of the "challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security – responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce." This choice of words, in particular the word "flow," leads one to believe that the speech writers committed a Freudian slip,or that an anti-war activist infiltrated their number, or that the word was meant to signal to a particular audience segment. In any case, "flow" certainly brings to mind the key word that Obama never uttered once during the entire twenty-plus minute speech: oil.

Gaddafi, although a close ally of Washington during the Bush and now the Obama regime, has proven to be an unreliable ally. The U.S. and European powers had come to regard with increasing concern the signs that both Russia and China were establishing connections with Libya--in terms of oil deals, infrastructure projects and arms contracts, which threatened US and European interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa. France, Great Britain and the United States heretofore have been the primary controlling recipients of oil in the region. New evidence has come to light that French intelligence officials have had some role in fomenting the rebellion and destabilizing the regime. The object for all three powers is to install a more compliant regime in Libya. Those are the "interests" that Obama alluded to.

Despite the gaping holes in Obama’s story, one would have been right to expect the "liberal-left” press to go along for the ride, once again. And in fact, that is the case. The New York Times editorial explains that "President Obama made the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies and try to stop Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from slaughtering thousands of Libyans," reserving criticism for his timing and strategy: "But he has been far too slow to explain that decision, or his long-term strategy, to Congress and the American people." We can expect more cheerleading and apologetics from the "liberal-left" media as the war wears on, even as the cost for the intervention mounts, estimated at 600 million for the first week alone.

The apologetics for imperialism given by the Times and other media mouthpieces of the Democratic Party has nothing to do with any anti-war, "humanitarian" principles. Rather, it has everything to do with putting a better face on naked imperial aggression, one that the "liberal-left" Democrats can live with and sleep soundly under. Thus such supposed "leftists" as Rachel Maddow on GE-owned MSNBC consistently back the war adventures undertaken by Obama, noting with precious sentiment his "reluctance" to commit troops to illegal wars. But as Maddow has made clearer than intended, only the "narrative" for these wars has changed, not the wars themselves. These apologists sense the necessity for war under a flagging imperialist economy that must continue to deliver profits to its shareholders.

In the conclusion to his speech, Obama laid out the conditions under which, during his presidency, American troops would be called up for military intervention. These include occasions "when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests." But it also includes "times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security – responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce."

Here Obama has made clear that the pretext for invasion of sovereign nations will not be limited to protecting Americans from "terrorism" and "weapons of mass destruction" as after 9/11 under Bush. Pre-emptive action will also be taken against threats to "values" and commerce. That is, Obama has expanded the Bush doctrine to include cases wherein U.S. commercial interests are at stake, not only its supposed safety. Of course, this is precisely what the Bush doctrine was meant to include, but Obama has expressed this fact even more nakedly than Bush himself.

This rhetorical shift is necessary to cover for the increasing role of the U.S. military throughout the world, which becomes more not less necessary as the ruling financial, corporate and military elite grow more desperate to secure profits within a capitalist system in a continual crisis that will see no remission.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Afghanistan 'Kill team": "Let me check off my kill" (Video)


"...Whatever genuine popular opposition was expressed in the initial revolt against the corrupt Gaddafi dictatorship, the rebellion has been hijacked by imperialism.The US and European intervention in Libya is aimed not at bringing “democracy” and “freedom,” but at installing in power stooges of the CIA who will rule just as brutally as Gaddafi, while allowing the imperialist powers to loot the country’s oil resources and use Libya as a base of operations against the popular revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa"

A CIA Commander For Libyan Rebels
By Patrick Martin
March 28, 2011 "WSWS"

The Libyan National Council, the Benghazi-based group that speaks for the rebel forces fighting the Gaddafi regime, has appointed a long-time CIA collaborator to head its military operations. The selection of Khalifa Hifter, a former colonel in the Libyan army, was reported by McClatchy Newspapers Thursday and the new military chief was interviewed by a correspondent for ABC News on Sunday night.

Hifter’s arrival in Benghazi was first reported by Al Jazeera on March 14, followed by a flattering portrait in the virulently pro-war British tabloid the Daily Mail on March 19. The Daily Mail described Hifter as one of the “two military stars of the revolution” who “had recently returned from exile in America to lend the rebel ground forces some tactical coherence.” The newspaper did not refer to his CIA connections.

McClatchy Newspapers published a profile of Hifter on Sunday. Headlined “New Rebel Leader Spent Much of Past 20 years in Suburban Virginia,” the article notes that he was once a top commander for the Gaddafi regime, until “a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s.”

Hifter then went over to the anti-Gaddafi opposition, eventually emigrating to the United States, where he lived until two weeks ago when he returned to Libya to take command in Benghazi.

The McClatchy profile concluded, “Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, DC.” It cited a friend who “said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.”

To those who can read between the lines, this profile is a thinly disguised indication of Hifter’s role as a CIA operative. How else does a high-ranking former Libyan military commander enter the United States in the early 1990s, only a few years after the Lockerbie bombing, and then settle near the US capital, except with the permission and active assistance of US intelligence agencies? Hifter actually lived in Vienna, Virginia, about five miles from CIA headquarters in Langley, for two decades.

The agency was very familiar with Hifter’s military and political work. A Washington Post report of March 26, 1996 describes an armed rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya and uses a variant spelling of his name. The article cites witnesses to the rebellion who report that “its leader is Col. Khalifa Haftar, of a contra-style group based in the United States called the Libyan National Army.”

The comparison is to the “contra” terrorist forces financed and armed by the US government in the 1980s against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Iran-Contra scandal, which rocked the Reagan administration in 1986-87, involved the exposure of illegal US arms sales to Iran, with the proceeds used to finance the contras in defiance of a congressional ban. Congressional Democrats covered up the scandal and rejected calls to impeach Reagan for sponsoring the flagrantly illegal activities of a cabal of former intelligence operatives and White House aides.

A 2001 book, Manipulations africaines, published by Le Monde diplomatique, traces the CIA connection even further back, to 1987, reporting that Hifter, then a colonel in Gaddafi’s army, was captured fighting in Chad in a Libyan-backed rebellion against the US-backed government of Hissène Habré. He defected to the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), the principal anti-Gaddafi group, which had the backing of the American CIA. He organized his own militia, which operated in Chad until Habré was overthrown by a French-supported rival, Idriss Déby, in 1990.

According to this book, “the Haftar force, created and financed by the CIA in Chad, vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the government was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” The book also cites a Congressional Research Service report of December 19, 1996 that the US government was providing financial and military aid to the LNSF and that a number of LNSF members were relocated to the United States.

This information is available to anyone who conducts even a cursory Internet search, but it has not been reported by the corporate-controlled media in the United States, except in the dispatch from McClatchy, which avoids any reference to the CIA. None of the television networks, busily lauding the “freedom fighters” of eastern Libya, has bothered to report that these forces are now commanded by a longtime collaborator of US intelligence services.

Nor have the liberal and “left” enthusiasts of the US-European intervention in Libya taken note. They are too busy hailing the Obama administration for its multilateral and “consultative” approach to war, supposedly so different from the unilateral and “cowboy” approach of the Bush administration in Iraq. That the result is the same—death and destruction raining down on the population, the trampling of the sovereignty and independence of a former colonial country—means nothing to these apologists for imperialism.

The role of Hifter, aptly described 15 years ago as the leader of a “contra-style group,” demonstrates the real class forces at work in the Libyan tragedy. Whatever genuine popular opposition was expressed in the initial revolt against the corrupt Gaddafi dictatorship, the rebellion has been hijacked by imperialism.

The US and European intervention in Libya is aimed not at bringing “democracy” and “freedom,” but at installing in power stooges of the CIA who will rule just as brutally as Gaddafi, while allowing the imperialist powers to loot the country’s oil resources and use Libya as a base of operations against the popular revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

"Since the 9/11 narrative itself remains unclear, everything that has flowed from it, including the endless Afghanistan war and even Homeland Security, must be seen as built on a shifting foundation of unreconciled facts and even misinformation. Rather than seeking to clarify issues that should be made clear for historical purposes as well as policy ones, federal legislators like Peter King march further afield with investigations into "Islamic terrorism." If the official story is riddled with logical inconsistencies, then one would believe that King might use some of the Congressional resources at his disposal to clarify some of the remaining questions regarding that fateful day and those behind it. Instead, he treats the narrative as a given"...

Peter King's Terror Hearings Take Over
Friday, March 11, 2011
by Staff Report
The Daily Bell

A controversial congressional hearing Thursday on the radicalization of Muslim Americans touched on sensitive questions involving terrorism and tolerance a decade after the 9/11 attacks. At times emotional and theatrical, the four-hour session of the House Homeland Security Committee included calls from moderate Muslims for support in overcoming extremists seeking to indoctrinate their children, as well as protests from Democratic legislators who complained the hearing unfairly implicated all Muslims for the criminal acts of a small minority. In the end, committee Chairman Peter King (left), R-New York, said the hearing that generated widespread media coverage "actually went a lot easier than it could have." He ... promised additional hearings in coming months, with the next perhaps focusing on the radicalization of Muslims in U.S. prisons. -- CNN

Dominant Social Theme: Don't trust the Muslims.

Free-Market Analysis: Yesterday's hearing on radicalization of Muslim Americans brings up a larger perspective regarding what is going on in America and a close look into Western-style democracy. The incessant harping on "terrorist Islam" as presented in these US congressional hearings (see above article excerpt) does seem to indicate a trend regarding America's -- in fact the entire West's -- descent into authoritarianism, driven by hysteria over a religion that many of its worshipers (ironically) conflate with "peace."

Peter King is promising more hearings on Islamic terror and one has no reason to doubt they will occur. King has come under attack for these hearings, which some believe are deliberately whipping up hysteria against Muslims, but he has branded such accusations as false and baseless. In fact, ever since 9/11, King has been voicing concerns about Muslim fundamentalism and even wrote a novel about an Al Qaeda penetration in Long Island that resulted in a string of bombings. The protagonist of the book, a blunt, Irish congressman, investigates and eventually exposes the plot.

There is about King -- and certainly about the larger military industrial complex -- a sense that they are manufacturing an industry as much as they are responding to legitimate threats. One has to go all the way back to 9/11 to piece together the genesis is what is taking place today. In this article we shall try.

9/11 is widely held to be the product of a band of Islamic terrorists who flew large planes into the World Trade Towers. But certain members of the 9/11 Commission itself have virtually disavowed the official narrative. The Commission's lead counsel, Rutgers's Law Dean John Farmer, even wrote a book, The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11 that accused the Washington intelligence and military establishment along with the Bush administration of lying serially to the Commission about many aspects of 9/11.

There are so many anomalies and questions about the attacks that it is difficult to know where to begin. Three obvious -- clear-cut -- issues stand out. The first has to do with the calls made from the planes. Initially, the FBI said the calls were made from cell phones but it eventually emerged that the cell phone technology of the day was not viable from the altitudes at which the calls were supposedly made. The FBI then explained that the calls were made from phones installed within the planes themselves. Unfortunately, more research eventually showed that the planes in question did not have the phone technology. To date, there is no good explanation how passenger phone calls -- widely reported at the time -- took place. Neither cell phones nor in-plane phones were used.

Then there is the issue of the Afghanistan cave "bunkers" from where Bin Laden is said to have plotted and carried out the attacks of 9/11. Donald Rumsfeld conducted several interviews on national TV networks in which he provided colorful schematics of six-story caves complete with elaborate technology communications gear and even various high-tech vehicles stored in subterranean garages. Videos of these presentations were on Youtube.com, though they appear to have been taken down. More importantly, not a single one of these elaborate cave bunkers were ever discovered despite months of searches by US soldiers in Afghanistan. Apparently, they never existed.

Finally, the FBI provided descriptions of the terrorists as well as their names but it later turned out that many of the identifications were incorrect. Individuals living in Europe and the Middle East came forward to complain that they had been incorrectly identified. The FBI admitted as much but it is still not clear who the terrorists actually were given the confusion about their IDs and the initial misinformation. Photos of the terrorists that were released showed them boarding a plane, but it later turned out that the plane being boarded was in Maine, not Boston, which was a later connection.

These three issues are only a fragment of hundreds of anomalies -- questionable information and misinformation -- that continue to plague the "official" 9/11 narrative. It has been reported that up to 70 percent of American adults would be in favor of a new commission -- a non partisan one -- that would attempt to clarify what was obviously a botched job so that some real closure can be achieved about the 9/11 narrative.

It us unfortunate that 9/11, in all its confusion, remains at the heart of the changes that have taken in place in the United States. Even though the narrative as it is currently constituted has been disavowed by members of the Commission themselves, the conclusions have been used to justify the virtual erection of a police state in America that has suspended civil rights and created a burgeoning intelligence-industry complex dedicated to spying on American citizens.

Since the 9/11 narrative itself remains unclear, everything that has flowed from it, including the endless Afghanistan war and even Homeland Security, must be seen as built on a shifting foundation of unreconciled facts and even misinformation. Rather than seeking to clarify issues that should be made clear for historical purposes as well as policy ones, federal legislators like Peter King march further afield with investigations into "Islamic terrorism."

King's point is that the Muslim community is not engaging forcefully enough with the FBI and other policing agencies that are trying to keep citizens safe from a growing Islamic threat. But here, too, we would argue that the points on which he seeks clarity are not the ones that need to be clarified initially. There is still a good deal of confusion about what Al Qaeda is and where it came from. It has been argued that it was an initial creation of the CIA during the Afghanistan fight against USSR occupation and that the name simply means "the list." Bin Laden himself is said to have denied involvement in 9/11 and to this day he has not formally been accused of involvement in 9/11 by US law enforcement.

With so much confusion over basic facts surrounding 9/11 and additional questions about the fundamentalist group that supposedly sponsored the attacks, it is no wonder that King's hearing on Thursday spawned a sharp backlash. What was unspoken in many of the complaints was the bottom-line distrust in the central narrative of 9/11 itself.

If the official story is riddled with logical inconsistencies, then one would believe that King might use some of the Congressional resources at his disposal to clarify some of the remaining questions regarding that fateful day and those behind it. Instead, he treats the narrative as a given -- using it as a template and touchstone on which to launch his larger concerns about Muslim fundamentalist violence.

Conclusion: Without taking steps to clarify the initial narrative, King runs the risk of looking exploitative rather than genuinely concerned. This is probably the way that some in the Muslim community see it and an unspoken reason as to why the hearings caused such a public furor. There still is no clarity to aspects of the official story and everything that has come thereafter must be seen as questionable if not suspect as well. This is the type of democracy King wants the Islamic community to embrace?

Indiana deputy prosecutor suggests "false flag" operation against Wisconsin governor to be blamed on unions...

Indiana prosecutor told Wisconsin governor to stage 'false flag' operation
March 24th, 2011
By Eric W. Dolan

An Indiana prosecutor and Republican activist has resigned after emails show he suggested Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stage a fake attack on himself to discredit unions protesting his budget repair bill.

The Republican governor signed a bill on March 11 that eliminates most union rights for public employees.

In an email from February 19, Indiana deputy prosecutor Carlos F. Lam told Walker the situation presented "a good opportunity for what's called a 'false flag' operation."

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism discovered the email among tens of thousands released to the public last week following a lawsuit by the Isthmus and the Associated Press.

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," Lam said in his email.

"Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest," he continued. "Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions."

Lam resigned from his position after the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism published an article about his email.

On February 22, an alternative paper in Buffalo, New York managed to trick Walker into taking a call from their editor posing as tea party tycoon David Koch.

When the editor posing as Koch suggested planting some troublemakers in the protests, Walker responded that "we thought about that," but said it was not necessary "because sooner or later the media stops finding 'em interesting."

"My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems," he said.

Walker had promised to lay off 1,500 state workers if the bill to curb collective bargaining rights for public employees didn't pass.

In mid-February, 14 Democratic state senators left Wisconsin to stall a vote on the bill. There are 19 Republican senators, but the Senate needs a minimum of 20 members to be present to debate and vote on any bills that spend money.

While the 14 Democratic senators remained in Illinois, Republican state senators removed all references to spending from the bill and passed the proposal to limit public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin citizens upset with Walker's attack on public employees' collective bargaining rights have launched a boycott campaign aimed at his campaign contributors.

Sixth police officer involved in infiltrating environmental activist group unmasked...

Sixth police spy in protest movement unmasked
Mark Kennedy, the first infiltrator to be exposed, says he may sue Scotland Yard for causing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Simon Hattenstone Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 26 March 2011

A sixth police officer has been unmasked as an undercover spy in the protest movement as it emerged that Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as an environmental activist, is considering suing Scotland Yard.

In an interview with the Guardian Weekend magazine, Kennedy, who went "rogue" and offered to help environmental campaigners accused of planning to break into a power station, says he has suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and has been suicidal. His lawyers have been instructed to consider legal action against the police.

The latest officer was reported to have been embedded in an anti-capitalist group for four years under the fake name of Simon Wellings. Newsnight on BBC2 reported that his true identity was discovered through a police blunder.

Wellings inadvertently phoned a campaigner with the Globalise Resistance anti-capitalist group on his mobile phone while discussing photographs of demonstrators with another officer at a police station.

The call was recorded on the campaigner's answerphone and Wellings is heard being pressed to identify protesters at demonstrations, according to Newsnight. He is recorded saying: "She's Hanna's girlfriend – very overt lesbian – last time I saw her, hair about that long, it was blonde, week before it was black."

The infiltration of police spies became controversial after the identification of Kennedy and four others who had posed as members of a variety of political groups including environmental, anti-racist and anti-globalisation campaigns.

The infiltration is the subject of four official investigations after police chiefs and ministers admitted the undercover operations had gone "badly wrong".

Kennedy believes that other undercover officers have been similarly ostracised. "The way the police handled the whole extraction .. is absolutely thoughtless from a psychological point of view and from a safety point of view."

He argues that the damage caused by such undercover work is too great, and that the police should rely more on electronic rather than human intelligence.

Wellings pretended to be an activist with the group between 2001 and 2005. He always seemed to have enough money to go to many demonstrations in London, New York, Paris, Seville and other cities.

Guy Taylor, a member, told Newsnight: "He didn't have much of a backstory. We never met any of his friends or his family." He volunteered to be the group's photographer and took "plenty of photographs".

Wellings vanished after being rumbled by the other activists.

The accidental phone call also highlights the role of police units which take photographs of protesters to be stored in secret databases such as Scotland Yard's CO11 public order branch.

The other police officer is heard on the tape pressing Wellings to put names to the photographs, according to Newsnight. "Thing is we've got the CO11s. They're like – who are these people ? Do you know who they are ?"

Last night the Metropolitan police said:"The use of undercover officers is a valuable tactic in the fight against crime and disorder to keep people and communities safe.

"Their use is highly regulated and governed in law through the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and must be necessary, proportionate and lawful.

"The deployment of undercover officers is also overseen by the Surveillance Commissioner who must be satisfied by their use."

Libyan "rebels" to start oil exports soon...

Libyan rebels to start oil exports soon
Posted: 27 March 2011 2302 hrs

BENGHAZI, Libya: Oil fields in rebel-held territory in Libya are producing between 100,000 and 130,000 barrels a day, and the opposition plans to begin exporting oil "in less than a week", a rebel representative said on Sunday.

"We are producing about 100,000 to 130,000 barrels a day, we can easily up that to about 300,000 a day," said Ali Tarhoni, the rebel representative responsible for economy, finance and oil, at a news conference.

He said the rebel government had agreed an oil contract with Qatar, which would market the crude, and that he expected exports to begin in "less than a week".

Tarhoni said he had signed the contract with Qatar recently and that the deal would help ensure "access to liquidity in terms of foreign denominated currency".

"We contacted the oil company of Qatar and they agreed to take all the oil we export and market that oil for us," he said.

"We have an escrow account... and the money will be deposited in this account, and this way there is no middle man and we know where the money is going."

Tarhoni said the main obstacle to exporting oil would be finding shipping companies, and other representatives from the Provisional Transitional National Council opposition body have said they are having difficulty finding companies to insure oil tankers taking exports from rebel-held territory.

The Koch brothers' web continues to spread...

The Koch Brothers’ Web Continues to Spread
By Rob Schofield
The Progressive Pulse | March 25, 2011

It’s been increasingly well-documented in recent months how a handful of extreme right-wing gazillionaires have been doing their best to buy our republic out from under us. Here in North Carolina, we see this most blatantly in the actions of people like Art Pope and Fred Eshelman, who have their tentacles wrapped around just about every significant conservative organization, politician and, increasingly it seems, government structure.

One of the best developments at the national level in recent months has been the way in which more and more light has been shined upon the once mysterious Koch brothers. Every day, we seem to learn about another Koch-funded group driving the conservative echo chamber.

We got to see a good example of how the Koch empire has been metastasizing this morning in the latest “Carolina Journal Exclusive” from the Locke Foundation.

The “exclusive” is an interview with a seemingly well-credentialed and impressive sounding expert, Dr. Scott Beaulier – a fellow identified as the “executive director of the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.” The subject was the highfalutin subject of “The Elements of Economic Freedom.”

Wow! Pretty impressive sounding, huh?

Of course, once you dig a little below the surface, you find the following:

The “Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy” is a one–person show (Beaulier). It is located at a public college in northern Alabama that until fairly recently, referred to itself as Troy State. Beaulier received his advanced degrees from another public college that’s been overrun by the right wing (George Mason University in Virginia). Beaulier’s “center” at Troy was established way back in September of last year “with the support of a $3.6 million gift from Dr. Manuel H. ‘Manley’ Johnson, BB&T and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”

In other words, in keeping with a tried and true practice, some right-wing rich guys have gotten together and hired a mouthpiece and placed him in a university that’s willing to take their money. Now, they’re sending him around the country to get “interviewed” by the hired help at other parts of the same empire and touting it as “exclusive” news.

You’ve got to hand it to these people – they are relentless and have no shame.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Victorian neo-Nazi used as medic in Afghanistan...

Victorian neo-Nazi used as medic in Afghanistan
Staff Reporter
Sydney Morning Herald | March 23, 2011

A NEO-NAZI organiser from Victoria has been working as a private military contractor in Afghanistan, mocking locals and holding secret ceremonies commemorating the deaths of German soldiers in World War II.

Kenneth Stewart, 36, has worked as a military-trained paramedic, accompanying aid workers around Afghanistan. His Facebook page shows a swastika flag in his room in Kandahar, and another picture shows him surrounded by Afghans he refers to as ”my nignogs” with a friend adding the comment ”it’s lovely to see a white man back in control of the subhuman”. On Stewart’s Facebook page he regularly makes disparaging comments about Afghans, Aborigines, Jews and others.

He has worked as a medic for several aid groups based in Kandahar, including the United Nations Development Program.

The Age made several attempts to contact Mr Stewart, but received no reply.

In Melbourne, he helps recruit white supremacists to the local branch of the Southern Cross Hammerskins, an international neo-Nazi group. He described himself on one internet forum as a ”skinhead, mercenary, pork-eating viking; not bad just misunderstood”.

Anti-facist groups in the US say there are growing numbers of neo-Nazis working in the expanding private military sector, and that the Hammerskins are considered to be among the best organised and most violent neo-Nazi groups in America.

The beliefs and photos posted by Mr Stewart have been condemned by the United Nations and the contractor who hired him on their behalf. Spokesman Brian Hansford said the UN was ”horrified by these … disturbing images”.

On Armistice Day last year, Mr Stewart posted on a white supremacist website that he and his colleagues in Kandahar had a service commemorating World War II soldiers, including Germans and Italians ”that did what they thought was right regardless of which side they were on”.

The Age has not been able to establish who Mr Stewart worked for in Afghanistan last year, but it is clear from photos on his Facebook page that he was doing similar work. One Australian security company that has employed him said it repudiated any far-right views and said the images he posted on Facebook should be removed.

Security experts say any Nazi or racist references could risk endangering the Coalition troops fighting under the NATO banner, including personnel from the Australian Defence Forces.

In the US, an intercepted 2009 email purported to show Oregon fascist organiser Randy Krager warning his colleagues not to email him about his racist skinhead group while he was working in Afghanistan. The email read: ”All communications from the mid-east are monitored by dept. of defense and/or cia … so I will have some contact but will not be able to discuss any business, not even vaguely.”

The Southern Cross Hammerskins also organise music festivals where far-right bands perform in front of vetted audiences. Their next festival is on the Gold Coast next month.

In pre-Qaddafi Libya, the US supported the rich while the poor went barefoot...

In Pre-Qaddafi Libya, the US Supported the Rich While the Poor Went Barefoot
Friday 25 March 2011
by: Shirley Frederick, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis.

From 1961-1964, I lived in Libya, then one of the poorest countries in the world. It was before Qaddafi, a time when King Idris was in control. My husband was stationed at the American-controlled Wheelus Air Force Base and I taught school there.

We lived in Tripoli, a city full of slums. Just behind our apartment, were people living in shacks made of old road signs, pieces of discarded corrugated metal and palm leaves. It got cold in the winter; a lot of people died and there were funeral processions in the streets. No running water for those people. They drew water from shallow wells and went into the bushes to relieve themselves.

The cinder block city homes had running water, but not during the day. We depended on a water tank on the roof that filled up at night if there was enough pressure in the system. No one I knew had a phone. They were very expensive and you had to pay a bribe to get one. Transportation for most Libyans was by donkey cart or on foot. Men and women wore long, white robes called barracans. Women in public were completely covered except for one eye hole, and they rode in the back of the bus.

Old men lay on the streets, each covered with a blanket, extended hands holding begging cups. Horse heads and hooves outside butcher shops were for sale. Milk in glass jars salvaged from dumps was delivered by donkey cart to those who could pay. The men who worked in the salt flat had no shoes and feet like leather. Barefoot boys begged for cigarettes, saying, "baksheesh," meaning free. "Baksheesh" was one of the first Arabic words I learned because it was used so often. It also means, "We'll close this illegal transaction with a bribe."

The king lived in a large and very beautiful palace, had a second palace in Benghazi and was building a third for the crown prince. Family members and cronies drove around in black Mercedes and lived in large villas. They went up to Monaco to drink, gamble and be entertained by women - all forbidden by Muslim culture.

When the queen did her shopping at the base exchange, it was closed for her convenience so she could buy expensive gifts unseen by all but her guards. My husband, an air policeman, was one of those guards. When she needed kidney stone surgery, she was taken to the base hospital, where she went to the head of the line. I was there at the time, giving birth to my first child. The nurse said my obstetrician would not be present for the delivery because he was operating on the queen.

The money that supported this opulent lifestyle came from oil. The oil fields were controlled by the Americans, the Brits and the Dutch. A second source of the king's revenue was the millions of dollars the American government paid to operate the base and send squadrons of fighter jets out over the desert for bombing practice.

When I arrived in Libya, I wanted to take a class in Arabic, but my military adviser recommended Italian instead because, he said, "If you go to Egypt or Lebanon and speak with a Libyan accent, the people will know you are from Libya and will not respect you." Libya was seen a place of desert tribes and little culture. Egypt, on the other hand, was greatly admired. I can still see pictures on Tripoli walls of Gamal Nasser. He was especially admired by a young military officer named Qaddafi, who, one day in 1969, overthrew King Idris by staging a bloodless coup.

Qaddafi immediately kicked out the Americans, the British and the Italians - all seen as imperialists. (Libya was an Italian colony under Mussolini.) He nationalized the oil wells; piped water from the large aquifer under the Sahara to coastal cities; built housing, schools and hospitals; paved streets and allowed women more freedom.

Unfortunately, Qaddafi's desire for power outweighed his concern for his people. He wanted to be the new Nasser and tried to unify the Arab world under his leadership. But Libya was seen as a backwater by other Arab nations and Qaddafi as too inexperienced, impulsive, brash, unpredictable, self-absorbed. They didn't take him seriously and that led to the ever more outrageous behavior that continues to this day.

Actor Steven Seagal, Arizona Sheriff roll in with tanks, armored vehicles and a bomb robot to take down man suspected of...cockfighting

Steven Seagal, Sheriff Raid Valley Home In Tank
POSTED: 11:07 pm MST March 21, 2011
UPDATED: 1:18 pm MST March 22, 2011

PHOENIX -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolled out the tanks to take down a man suspected of cockfighting.

West Valley residents in the neighborhood are crying foul after armored vehicles, including a tank, rolled into their neighborhood to make the bust.

Neighbor Debra Ross was so worried she called 911 and went outside where a nearby home had its windows blown out, was crawling with dozens of SWAT members in full gear, armored vehicles and a bomb robot.

“When the tank came in and pushed the wall over and you see what's in there, and all it is, is a bunch of chickens,” Ross said.

In a massive show of force on Monday, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant and arrested the homeowner, Jesus Llovera, on charges of suspected cockfighting.

Llovera was alone in the house at the time of the arrest, and he was unarmed.

“I think taxpayers should be shocked,” said Robert Campus, Llovera’s attorney. Campus said he believes the operation costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Deputies had no probable cause to believe Llovera was armed or dangerous, according to Campus.

Campus said he believes the entire scene was basically a stage, to help actor Steven Seagal’s TV show, “Lawman.”

Seagal was riding in the tank.

The Sheriff’s Department has entered into a contract with Seagal and part of that contract gives Seagal carte blanche to go along with the sheriff as he arrests people.

Thousands of dollars in damages were made to the property and 115 birds were euthanized on the spot.

Llovera was convicted of a misdemeanor last year of attending a cockfight and has no history of owning weapons.

Yet the sheriff’s office said they had reasons to believe Llovera might be armed.

“We're going to err on the side of caution. We're going to make sure that we have the appropriate amount of force in case we do run into anything like that,” said Sgt. Jesse Spurgin.

"On March 21, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow offered a defense of the Obama administration and its role in launching a military assault on Libya...The arguments offered by the MSNBC news program host, a principal voice of the American liberal-left in the mainstream media, are absurd and unworthy, but it is unlikely anyone in and around her circle will object. This social layer is fully committed to the Obama administration and, moreover, to the defense of American imperial interests, with which it identifies, in the final analysis, its own material comfort and peace of mind. This helps explain the collapse of the official anti-war movement in the US since the 2008 election"

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lines up behind Obama’s attack on Libya
By David Walsh
24 March 2011

On March 21, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow offered a defense of the Obama administration and its role in launching a military assault on Libya. With tortured logic, Maddow attempted to show that the means by which President Barack Obama made public this new act of Great Power aggression revealed the chasm that separates his administration from that of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

The arguments offered by the MSNBC news program host, a principal voice of the American liberal-left in the mainstream media, are absurd and unworthy, but it is unlikely anyone in and around her circle will object. This social layer is fully committed to the Obama administration and, moreover, to the defense of American imperial interests, with which it identifies, in the final analysis, its own material comfort and peace of mind. This helps explain the collapse of the official anti-war movement in the US since the 2008 election.

Maddow began her program Monday in a typically flippant manner. “In the United States of America, we are used to thinking of ourselves as a superpower, as a world leader, as a country capable of throwing our weight around when we feel the need to. … We go to war all the time—big wars, little wars, medium-sized wars, weird wars, normal wars, wars. America as a country fights a lot of wars.”

Maddow’s cynical tone hints at criticism and a vaguely anti-establishment, even anti-war stance, while actually committing her to no position or analysis whatsoever. Why does the US government go to war so frequently? What has been the character of those wars? What is her attitude toward those conflicts? About that, nothing …

After showing clips of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the most recent Bush announcing military actions from the White House (against Grenada, Libya, Iraq, Serbia, and Iraq once more), Maddow told her viewers, “Now that the United States has embarked on its latest new military intervention in Libya, I would love to be able to show you the current president’s Oval Office address on the subject, but there isn’t one.”

Maddow noted that Obama made his public statement about the latest US military action while in Brazil. She continued, “President Obama announced his own military intervention, but he pointedly declined the opportunity to do it in a way that US presidents usually do.” The current administration’s decision, the news program host explained, “to forego the chest-thumping commander-in-chief theater that goes with military intervention of any kind, that in itself is a fascinating and rather blunt demonstration of just how much this presidency is not like that of George W. Bush.”

In other words, Maddow treats Obama’s anti-democratic and unconstitutional act of declaring war behind the backs of Congress and the American people as a positive good.

From there, Maddow presented clips of past presidents, while running for office, posturing as humble, ‘peace’ candidates. She went on, “A candidate named Barack Obama promised that. The difference with Mr. Obama as president is that he appears to be walking more of that walk as well as talking that talk.”

But Obama has launched a military assault against a virtually defenseless country (and, of course, escalated the war in Afghanistan to unprecedented levels, while maintaining 50,000 US troops in Iraq). How is that different from Bush, who also launched such attacks?

Because Obama has gone about it differently, making no Oval Office address, “repeatedly stressing the limited nature of US involvement, promising there will be no ground troops, no matter what” (Maddow), bringing in European allies and various Arab regimes, etc. Obama’s empty phrase that the bulk of US involvement in the Libyan operation would last “A Matter of Days, Not a Matter of Weeks” appeared on the screen throughout the first portion of her program.

Maddow and the social layers she speaks for approve of the cosmetic changes that the Obama administration has instituted—including the end, as she says, of “the [Bush-Cheney] interventionist, chest-thumping, triumphalist stuff.” The same imperialist policy, the same drive for American global dominance, but more effectively and intelligently packaged.

She comes very close to revealing what lay behind the tactical shift that resulted in Obama being elevated to office, with a considerable section of the American financial and corporate elite behind him. This is how she presents the issues in the 2008 election: “Do you want the narrative of America’s role in the world to be America leads Western aggression against Arab countries, or don’t you want that?” And further on: “President Obama wants the narrative to be something different. He very clearly did not want there to be another American military action in the Arab world. He is very open about his reluctance. He wants everybody to know how reluctant he was.”

Maddow is quite right, from her point of view. For the ruling elite and its media hangers-on, the issue in 2008 was a shift in “narratives,” from “triumphalist” US military intervention to a more “reluctant,” less unilateralist version of the same thing. Libyans are dying and will die, but imperialist intervention is presented in a different light. And upper middle class liberals (and Greens) around the world feel more at ease embracing it.

The MSNBC news program host left out of her discussion Monday the barbaric and obscenely hypocritical character of the attack on Libya: the use of cruise missiles and bombs against an impoverished former colony in the name of “humanitarianism.” A war launched by the same governments who turn a blind eye to mass repression and violence in Bahrain, Yemen and, for that matter, Iraq; who did everything in their power to keep murderers and torturers such as Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt in power; who countenance and prop up the feudal human rubbish that governs Saudi Arabia and Oman…

Despite the pseudo-iconoclastic nature of her opening monologue Monday about America’s propensity to go to war, Maddow never offered any challenge to White House and Pentagon disinformation in the course of the program.

She allowed Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation, in an interview, to claim that the US and the other powers intervened in Libya because of the “potential massacre” of “tens of thousands of people,” and that Obama had decided “he needed to do something to save those people, but to do it in a minimal way so that the US footprint and the Western footprint, as you’ve been saying, was small.”

This is a giant lie, which great numbers of people see through. The preposterousness and defensiveness of Maddow’s arguments are testament to that. She doesn’t dare discuss the character of the war or US aims and thus restricts herself to the gulf between Bush and Obama supposedly established by their different approaches to announcing military operations.

A word that crossed no one’s lips Monday night, including Maddow’s, was “oil.” Astonishing, considering that Libya’s economy depends on revenues from that industry, to the tune of one-quarter of its Gross Domestic Product. The North African nation has the largest oil reserves on the continent and the ninth largest in the world. Almost accidentally, one would think that someone might blurt out the word. But no one did.

Maddow’s defense of Obama’s new war in Libya, which will result in the deaths of thousands and risks unleashing far wider and bloodier conflagrations, sheds light on her and the American liberal-left more generally. There is nothing remotely “progressive” about these people.

The author also recommends:

Liberal television host Rachel Maddow solidarizes herself with US military in Afghanistan
[15 July 2010]

A quarter of U.S. nuclear plants not reporting equipment defects...

A quarter of U.S. nuclear plants not reporting equipment defects, report finds
By Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang, Thursday, March 24, 8:54 PM

More than a quarter of U.S. nuclear plant operators have failed to properly tell regulators about equipment defects that could imperil reactor safety, according to a report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s inspector general.

Operators of U.S. nuclear power plants are supposed to tell the NRC when pieces of equipment “contain defects that could create a substantial safety hazard,” regulations say.

Although the report doesn’t assert that any imminent danger resulted from the lapses, many experts said the lack of communication could make it harder for other nuclear reactor operators to learn about flaws in their own equipment, because many similar parts are used in other reactors.

“If it happens in this one, maybe it’s a faulty part that’s in another plant and they should know,” said Diane Curran, a lawyer who has represented citizens groups and state and local governments in cases related to nuclear plants. “If you don’t report on this, the other licensees can’t look in their books and say, ‘Oh, do I have this one?’ and ‘Maybe I should switch it out.’ ”

The NRC inspector general’s report appeared at a time of heightened concern about nuclear safety as workers in Japan battled to control radiation leaks, fire, power outages and explosions at a series of reactors.

The inspector general’s office did not describe the defects, and that frustrated lawmakers, who said the report on unreported problems did not say what those problems were.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement saying that “this troubling study . . . raises serious questions about the self-policing allowed at nuclear facilities with regard to reporting of safety concerns.”

Markey said that “it is apparent that confusion and omissions regarding the reporting of defects at nuclear facilities are commonplace.”

The inspector general blames the failures on uncertainty about when to report defects. Operators said they thought they needed to report only when an “event” took place and backup systems did not prevent a breakdown — or in bureaucratic lingo, an “actual loss of safety function.” In fact, the rules require them to report any defect, even if backup systems kicked in.

The inspector general said there was confusion about the rule among at least 28 percent of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors, based on interviews done from mid-2009 to mid-2010.

The IG’s report worried some experts who said the NRC was missing critical information that could prevent bigger accidents.

“If there is a bad patch of parts, you want to be aware of that and fix it,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which released a report last week criticizing the NRC’s performance.

Government watchdogs have raised alarms before about defective parts at nuclear plants. In 1990, the Government Accountability Office released a report saying that utilities had installed counterfeit or substandard parts at about 64 percent of the country’s plants.

Paul Gunter, with the group Beyond Nuclear, said: “You could have two reactors that have faulty circuit breakers and though the part turns out to be defective, if it doesn’t necessarily cause an event like a reactor shutdown, it may be reported at one reactor, but not at another. But circuit breakers and fuses are . . . not trivial pieces of equipment.”

The industry said its overall safety record is still laudable.

“We agree there’s room to clarify and simplify the regulations,” said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute. “It’s important to keep in mind the broader picture here, which is that this particular reporting area is one sliver of a much broader regulatory regimen, which shows that U.S. nuclear plants are operating at very high levels of safety.”

The NRC said that the study focuses on a subset of defects caused by manufacturing and that the central issue is “administrative.” The agency said there are still other processes for catching and reporting defects.

Separately, an employee for a subcontractor working at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant has been charged with lying about power system inspections, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Prosecutors said Matthew David Correll, a 31-year-old electrician, lied last August about measuring cables that would supply power to a safety system at the reactor site. His attorney declined comment, the AP said.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libyan "revolutionaries" aren't so revolutionary...

Libyan “Revolutionaries” Aren’t So Revolutionary
By Against the Empire
March 26, 2011

Ever since the rebel opposition forces in Libya have taken control of the cities, there have been reports that have surfaced regarding torture, racial violence and repression. Coming across some recent articles regarding Benghazi, the last rebel stronghold in Libya, I can’t say that I’m amazed at the police state that they have designed and who is in power in Benghazi. It was no doubt a complete error on the part of so-called “progressives” to take the side of these rebel forces (never mind those who hailed them as “revolutionaries”).

From a Telegraph article on Thursday (3/23/10):

The young gunmen at the roadblock took no chances. They put a knife to the throat of the driver before hauling the three men and one woman from the car, dragging them through the street into a nearby mosque for a rough round of interrogation….

Libya’s young opposition movement is rounding up suspected opponents and delivering its own brutal form of justice in a city living in fear that they have been penetrated by a fifth column of government loyalists.

Rebel leaders admit that dozens of Gaddafi supporters have been arrested or killed.

Every night, gangs of vigilantes assemble at makeshift roadblocks – made from piles of rubble, oil drums or piping – to control entry and exit from their neighbourhoods.

Many residents are now too frightened to drive through the dark streets at night, fearing a shakedown or worse at the proliferating checkpoints.

“If they don’t know who you are, and are in their part of town, and you have a nice car, then they are going to think you are a car thief or they say you are with Gaddafi,” said one driver who now stays close to home after dark.
” 2

And today in the LA Times (3/25/10):

Opposition officials in Benghazi, whose wide sweeps to detain alleged Kadafi supporters have drawn criticism, take journalists on a tightly controlled tour of detention centers. Many detainees say they’re immigrant workers and deny fighting for Kadafi.

For a month, gangs of young gunmen have roamed the city, rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies.

Over the last several days, the opposition has begun rounding up men accused of fighting as mercenaries for Kadafi’s militias as government forces pushed toward Benghazi. It has launched nightly manhunts for about 8,000 people named as government operatives in secret police files seized after internal security operatives fled in the face of the rebellion that ended Kadafi’s control of eastern Libya last month.

“We know who they are,” said Abdelhafed Ghoga, the chief opposition spokesman. He called them “people with bloodstained hands” and “enemies of the revolution.”

One young man from Ghana bolted from the prisoners queue. He shouted in English at an American reporter: “I’m not a soldier! I work for a construction company in Benghazi! They took me from my house … “

A guard shoved the prisoner back toward the cells.

“Go back inside!” he ordered.

The guard turned to the reporter and said: “He lies. He’s a mercenary.”

The Ghanaian was one of 25 detainees from Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali and Ghana described by opposition officials as mercenaries, though several of them insisted they were laborers. The officials declined to say what would become of them.

One of the accused shown to journalists was Alfusainey Kambi, 53, a disheveled Gambian wearing a bloodstained sport shirt and military fatigue trousers. He said he had been dragged from his home and beaten by three armed men who he said also raped his wife. A dirty bandage covered a wound on his forehead.

Khaled Ben Ali, a volunteer with the opposition council, berated Kambi and accused him of lying. Ali said Kambi hit his head on a wall while trying to escape.

He commanded the prisoner to comment on his treatment in the detention center.

Kambi paused and considered his answer. Finally, he glanced warily up at Ali and spoke.

“Nobody beat me here,” he said in a faint, weary tone. “I have no problems here.

These reports can be directly corroborated by this video from Al-Jazeera talking about how Black immigrants in Libya lived under complete fear of the rebels. Their businesses were burned to the ground, they were tortured, they were killed on the spot for being alleged “mercenaries”, etc.

Black Agenda Report expounded on this topic earlier this month when it was revealed that:

What has become apparent from reports filtering out of the country is that many of the 1.5 million black African migrant workers trapped in Libya feel themselves under racial siege, hunted by what Black Americans would immediately recognize as lynch mobs – “pogrom” is another word that springs to mind – especially in the rebel-held areas.

The testimony of black African victims is most disturbing. “We were being attacked by local people who said that we were mercenaries killing people. Let me say that they did not want to see black people,” 60-year-old Julius Kiluu, an African building supervisor, told Reuters. Even in Tripoli, where the regime is not in full control of neighborhoods, Somalis told journalists they were “being hunted on suspicion of being mercenaries” and “feel trapped and frightened to go out.” Ethiopians told of being “dragged from their apartments, beaten up and showed to the world as mercenaries.” Ethiopian News and Opinions reported that “Muammar Gadhafi haters are taking revenge on black Africans for money Gadhafi threw for many African dictators. The mob attacked and killed many Africans including Ethiopians for being only black.

The article then goes on to explain many other accounts of racial violence by the so-called “revolutionaries” and “freedom fighters. From a class standpoint, the opposition is not revolutionary. If we are to look again at the first article linked in this article, from Telegraph, we will see a striking passage there.

The rebel’s interim government is made up of professionals academics, businessmen and lawyers often educated in the UK or US who make all the right noises about democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

So here we have a leadership comprised of members of the privileged sectors of Libyan society but that’s not all. Just yesterday, it was reported that the new financial minister of the Libyan opposition is a senior lecturer in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. To quote the spokeswoman for the Libyan Provisional Transitional National Council, Iman Bugaighis;

Tarhouni understands the Western mentality.

I think that says it all, really, but there are some of us who haven’t been duped. Unfortunately, many of the “progressives” and “leftists” in this country still condemn Gaddafi as the first order of business. Until it is recognized that the Libyan opposition is not to be cheered, romanticized or admired, the anti-imperialist movement of this country can not demand an end to bombs being dropped in Libya, an end to the armed conflict there or the right of the Libyan people to determine the course of their countries future. No, we will, instead, stand by idly as an insignificant minority in the heart of world imperialism.

On a world scale, it seems to be Venezuela and Cuba leading the way for the demonization of Western imperialism for their atrocities they have been committing in Libya for the past week or so as well as their support for the opposition rebels. Today, Venezuela proving itself (like it always does) to be a real, tangible progressive force in this world, announced that they would not recognize the Libyan opposition.

What comes next will surely be crucial in understanding Libya’s fate. If the police state in Benghazi continues the way it is now, this could be a precursor for the kind of society that the Western-bred intellectuals and other affluent individuals in power could’ve only dreamed of previously. A society where neo-liberalism is rampant and the oil reserves are milked like cattle for the pockets and investments of a few oil tycoons. A society where every piece of land, mineral and resource is plundered while Libya falls from the highest in Human Development in Africa to much lower. Needless to say, the potential for a progressive, egalitarian society which fits the needs of the majority of Libyans will be rolled back on a scale never before seen since 1969.


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