Media Revolution

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Iraq Diaries

The father of one child remonstrated with us: "In the name of democracy you kill and injure our children!" All we could say, all anyone could say, was "I am sorry," and in our eyes there would be the hope of reconciliation. In the casualty department, as the medico in our team observed the carnage, the staff vented their anger against her and understandably so. "See what your country is doing to our people!" Through the visits we learned that three families had been decimated in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Another "Empire is gonna fall" article

Could a faltering dollar and global rebellion against its values presage the decline, and eventual fall, of the American empire, asks Mark Tran in the U.K. Guardian

I shoulda published something on this back when the ideas were just floating around.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Anti-war protesters menaced and threatened

Two scary sound files (mp3s) from when a pro-war rally crashed a permitted, peaceful anti-war demonstration in Reno, Nevada. I recorded these. Files are available at linked page. Wow. It is a sad day for America. One is of people yelling "Go to Iraq!" at peace demonstrators who were singing "God Bless America". The other is from a veteran who thinks anti-war protesters are delusional and stupid. He said he'd like to "muck one out" and he'd be willing to go to jail for it.

Truck driven at anti war protesters, Cleveland
A truck driver from South Fairmount was arrested Monday after he drove toward a group of anti-war protesters with his tractor-trailer rig in the West End.

"It (the semi cab) stopped about 10 feet from the nearest protester," Larry Schartman, one of the about 40 people who were participating in a "Peace in Iraq" rally, said Monday night. "Thank God nobody got hurt."

Police charged James Watters, 49, with aggravated menacing, inducing panic and reckless operation in the incident that occurred about 6 p.m. on the Ezzard Charles Drive bridge over Interstate 75.

According to the police report, an officer observed Watters drive his truck onto the sidewalk of the pedestrian walkway toward a large group of protestors causing them "to run in fear of being hit."

"It was an antiwar demonstration. We were holding up signs so the people on the interstate could see them," said Mary Ann Reese, 46, of East Walnut Hills. "There were 30 or 40 of us standing there holding our signs and I turned around and he was on the sidewalk coming towards us leaning on his horn.

"The general prevailing sentiment was that some of us were going to get hit. One person was in a wheelchair, so he really had to scatter. It was frightening. It (the semi) did stop before he hit anyone."

Thursday, March 20, 2003

"Doing My Part Against The Aging Anti-War Hippies In SF"

I say to hubby, loudly so they can hear "Liberalism is a mental disease".

They walk behind us trying to get in front of us again. Red light again. I say "National Socialist Party were socialists, too bad the left doesn't acknowledge their *roots*." Again, close to them, my last dig "the left is anti-semetic, always has been....".....they turned left on a hill, didn't want to walk around US anymore, naturally my DH said, as the left doesn't want debate.

Then, this evening, I checked out aka and found on that site the streets they are planning to block the day the war starts. I phone the local police station with the information. I gave all the web addresses of sf indymedia. I explain to the police I am a republican and sad that only 157 (according to indymedia) have been arrested.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

What was that about not "abridging the freedom of the press"?
California Highway Patrol Rescinds Press Credentials of Indymedia.
An Indymedia reporter in Oregon was arrested some time ago.

Indymedia: S.F. Police Break Own Rules in Spying on Protesters

The internal SFPD documents and a new audit performed by the city's police watchdog agency, the Office of Citizen Complaints, indicate the department has been gathering intelligence on the militant wing of the antiwar movement since last fall. Taken as a whole, the documents suggest some SFPD commanders may have orchestrated a secret spying program without the knowledge of top police officials.

"Undercover surveillance was requested and conducted at anti-war demonstrations on October 26, 2002, January 18, 2003 and February 16, 2003 without proper authorization by the Chief of Police," the OCC audit states.

Approval for the operations went up as high as deputy chiefs David Robinson and Greg Suhr, both of whom are under indictment for their alleged involvement in the Union Street beating scandal, documents show.

Directed by Lt. Kitt Crenshaw, a group of four officers assigned to the Violent Crimes Task Force -- a unit that normally handles gang killings -- carried out the undercover operations. Dressed as protesters, the squad videotaped the demonstrations and marched along Market Street in the large antiwar parades as well as in the smaller, riotous "breakaway" marches. They also made a handful of arrests for vandalism.

Jonah Zern, an Oakland substitute teacher, was one of two people busted by the squad during the raucous splinter march that snaked through downtown Jan. 18. "All of a sudden the undercover cop jumped out and started beating me up," Zern said. "Then uniformed cops started beating up the undercover guy, apparently thinking he wasn't an officer."


The SFPD established strict guidelines on surveillance after S.F. cop Tom Gerard, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative, was caught spying on Bay Area leftists in 1992. Working with the Anti-Defamation League, Gerard had compiled dossiers on some 7,000 radicals.

And I'm sure all 7,000 were so "radical" as to deserve police surveillance. Anyway, we're back to "those days".

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The L.A. Times has Photos from Baghdad.
They also have a story on the impending humanitarian crisis. Aid agencies note that fully half of Iraqi citizens (i.e. about 13 million people) depend entirely upon government food handouts.

Krugman Nails It: "Things to Come"

What frightens me is the aftermath — and I'm not just talking about the problems of postwar occupation. I'm worried about what will happen beyond Iraq — in the world at large, and here at home.

The members of the Bush team don't seem bothered by the enormous ill will they have generated in the rest of the world. They seem to believe that other countries will change their minds once they see cheering Iraqis welcome our troops, or that our bombs will shock and awe the whole world (not just the Iraqis) or that what the world thinks doesn't matter. They're wrong on all counts.

Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court — all in just two years.

I am physically nauseous right now. I'm in no space to do much catching up. I was at the S.F. protest this weekend. I want to share with you three things.

One: Rachel Corrie's emails from Palestine. She is the American with the International Solidarity Movement who was killed by a bulldozer when defending a house from being demolished. She stayed at a friend's house before she flew from S.F. to Israel.

Two: A point-by-point critique of President Bush's speech. There's one thing I would add. Bush complained about the Iraqis surveilling the inspectors. Of course, as reported in the Washington Post, the United States planted spies amongst inspectors in the 90's to spy on the Iraqi military (see Feb. 6). Not to mention the recent surveillance of UN Security council members (also discussed below).

Three: a quote from Mark Twain's story, "The Mysterious Stranger". The stranger discusses the instigation of war:

"There has never been a just one, never an honorable one--on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful--as usual--will shout for the war. The pulpit will--warily and cautiously--object--at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--as earlier--but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation--pulpit and all--will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

CNN: World Tribunal, first permanent War Crimes Court, Starts without U.S.

The first permanent global war crimes court was inaugurated Tuesday with the swearing in of its first 18 judges. But Washington -- which opposes the tribunal -- stayed away from the ceremony...

U.S. President George W. Bush renounced the 1998 Rome Treaty creating the ICC, even though the administration of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, signed the agreement...

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has enacted legislation giving the president power to use "all means necessary" to free any Americans the court takes into custody. The new law is jokingly referred to as the "Invasion of The Hague Act"...

Benjamin Ferencz, a war crimes prosecutor for the United States at Nuremberg, was attending. Ferencz, 82, also has raised his voice against Washington's stance.

"The current leadership in the United States seems to have forgotten the lessons we tried to teach the rest of the world," Ferencz wrote on his Web site. (more)

Veteran BBC War Reporter Kate Adie Discusses Disdain of Pentagon for Free Press
Independent Journalists in Iraq could be bombed if they try to transmit their stories.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Int'l Herald Tribune on the Security Council
Chirac and Putin consider going to New York to press their cases to the Security Council; Schroeder is going; Bush won't attend. We get the rundown on where the African non-perm members of the security council stand. (Guinea-undecided and may abstain but had photo-op with Powell, Angola-wants U.S. aid but is not certain on vote, Camaroon will probably lean towards France's position). This article from the Lebanese press says Pakistan will probably abstain.

U.S. efforts to spy on the U.N. Security Council

Update: U.N. Launches Inquiry into American Spying

According to the UK Observer, United States intelligence officers have potentially been tapping the phones and reading the email of delegates to the U.N. Security Council from countries which have been "undecided" on a new resolution to allow war against Iraq.

The United State's National Security Agency sent out this memo on Jan. 31.
As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters. [Full text of memo.]

The memo was leaked to the UK Observer, who broke the story in this article. The memo's significance (and the NSA's lingo) is explained therein. Importantly, the spying effort was targeting "swing states" on the Security Council's vote on war on Iraq.

This story has gotten more play internationally than it has in the United States. One of the Observer's reporters was interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The transcript, available here, goes into detail about how the reporters verified the memo's authenticity and on the U.S. media's wavering interest on the story. Excerpts:
MARTIN BRIGHT: It's quite clear what they were going for was not only the voting patterns and the voting plans and the negotiations with other interested parties such as the French or the Chinese, it wasn't just the bare bones, it was also the office telephone communications and email communications and also what are described as 'domestic coms', which is the home telephones of people working within the UN. This can only mean that they were looking for personal information. That is, information which could be used against those delagates.


Our sources in the States suggest that this came from a level at least as high as Condoleezza Rice, who is the President's National Security Adviser.


INTERVIEWER: Is it true that a number of US television networks which scheduled interviews with you cancelled them at the last minute?

It's as well not to get too paranoid about these things and too conspiratorial.

I'm sure on your own show from time to time you bump people at the last minute for perfectly innocent reasons.

And I have to believe that this was why this was happening with the American broadcasters.

However, it did happen three times within the period of about 24 hours.

It happened with NBC, Fox TV and CNN, who appeared very excited about the story to the extent of sending cars to my house to get me into the studio, and at the last minute, were told by their American desks to drop the story.

Others talk about how this story is being missed or downplayed by the U.S. media: American Media Dodging U.N. Surveillance Story Uncle Sam's dirty tricks?

Where this story of surveillance is being covered in the U.S., it is often (and perhaps accurately) characterized as routine (:

CBS: Spy On The Wall Treatment A Given
Boston Globe: Purported US memo orders spying at UN

However, even if it is routine, it is against U.N. Treaties:
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says: "The receiving State shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for all official purposes.... The official correspondence of the mission shall be inviolable."

UPDATE: now a British intelligence agent has been arrested.

Inspectors: Documents linking Iraq to uranium were forged

From Saturday's Globe and Mail:
Secret documents detailing attempts by Iraq to buy uranium for nuclear warheads from Niger are forgeries, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency says.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Friday his investigators and independent document examination experts have determined the letters and other written material are "not authentic." (More)

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Go China!
The frightening bit about this Reuters piece, though, is how ignorant the Iraqi government has been keeping their people.

In Baghdad, the realization seemed to be finally dawning on ordinary Iraqis that they are probably facing their third major war in two decades.

Dependent on rumors and state-controlled television, they have been insulated from the diplomatic battles at the United Nations and the buildup of U.S. and British forces.

"Is it true that American warships have arrived in the Gulf to attack Iraq?" an Iraqi woman asked a journalist. "We also heard that America sent many troops to Kuwait, is that true?"

Compare the Letters to the Editor about Iraq in today's New York Times with the paper's editorial. Can we say disconnect?

Wanna see something REALLY scary?
Of course, it's on a website that trumpets gold, so really you should be doubious, right? But I'm not reacting to the scary quotes I give you here... I read the whole damn thing. Call me a Bear if you want to...

"There can be no question that the US economy is at its most critical juncture since the Great Depression of the 1930's. With both the cause and pattern of the present downturn diametrically different from those of prior recessions, it should be clear that past experience cannot help in accessing what is to come." The Richebacher Letter, October 2002.

The economy has only just begun its slide into the Long Wave depression, and already excessive debt is leading to significant bankruptcies. As the recession deepens, and it will, the pace of bankruptcies will increase markedly. It is akin to a landslide that starts from a single rock dislodged from the top of a steep hill. Once the Kondratieff winter debt landslide is set in motion there is nothing that will stop it until it has run its course.

The primary purpose of a Kondratieff winter is to purge debt from the economy. That process is just beginning with collapse of companies like Worldcom, Enron, Global Crossing, K Mart, Florsheim Shoes, Formica, United Airlines, Conseca, GenTek, Mcleod USA, Williams Communications, and others, whose names escape me as I write this. By the time this Long Wave winter reaches its conclusion, considerably more sizeable US corporations, which are household names, will undoubtedly fail due to excessive debt.

See also this and this.
The US government debt is hitting the debt ceiling of $6.4 Trillion. If George W. gets his war, the debt could hit $7 Trillion by year end. What does all this debt mean? Debt is a promise. We only have a $10 Trillion economy.

They argue about whether a depression will bring inflation or deflation. Printing more $$'s = inflation, which I understand. Versus some argument about "debt is deflationary. And there is far too much debt in the US," which I don't understand. But they're together on the scary fundamentals. Of course these all were found on the same site, And maybe they link up with the other stuff I've been posting on macroeconomics because it's the kind of thing I've been looking for. On the other hand, what's been going on in our Enron economy while you've been looking the other way?

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Why the Bear Market is not over (powerpoint)
This doesn't reference Iraq at all, but it does a better job of showing how, why, and in what ways our economic is bleak--the thing other articles have referenced as a cause for going to war with Iraq. It is a powerpoint presentation, courtesy of

Locked Up Forever for Stealing Videos: California's 3-strikes law upheld

In one case, Leandro Andrade, a San Bernardino County man, received a 50-years-to-life sentence for a ``third strike'' of stealing videos from a K-mart store. In the other case, Gary Ewing was sentenced to 25-years-to-life when he was convicted on a third strike in Los Angeles of grand theft for attempting to steal $1,200 worth of Calloway golf clubs from a pro shop.

``If Andrade's sentence is not grossly disporportionate, the principle has no meaning,'' Justice David Souter wrote in one of the dissents.

Iraqi Cells could attack outside of Iraq -- L.A. Times

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- The United States has "credible information" that Baghdad has dispatched agents to many parts of the world to commit terrorist acts in the event of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, a well-placed Western diplomat said here Tuesday.

Dollar Hits 4-Year Low After Treasury Chief Rattles Market
By ERIC PFANNER, International Herald Tribune, syndicated to the New York Times

LONDON, March 5 — The dollar dropped to its lowest level in four years against the euro today, with the European currency touching the key level of $1.10, after Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said he was "not particularly concerned" about the dollar's recent slide.

The dollar has fallen about 4.5 percent against the euro since Jan. 1, as concerns over a possible war in Iraq provided the trigger for a sell-off that many economists say was long overdue because of imbalances in the global economy. For years, global growth has been driven by American consumer spending, inflating the United States trade deficit, a situation that analysts say was untenable over the long term.

Though the dollar also fell moderately today against the Japanese yen, it has not moved sharply against Asian currencies in recent weeks, in part because the economic authorities in Asia are quite worried about the effects of a weaker dollar. Most Asian economies are highly dependent on exports to the United States for growth, and a decline in the dollar's value against local currencies raises the prices of goods imported by the United States.

That means the euro, by default, has been bearing the brunt of a weaker dollar, even though growth prospects in the 12-country single-currency zone appear, if anything, even weaker than in other regions. Economists say the rise in the euro could continue for some time.

Update: Financial Times blames it all on the Treasure Secretary.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Muscle bound, broke, and spoiling for a fight
Chris Sanders of Sanders Research Associates:

Perhaps the greatest shock associated with the release of America’s trade statistics for December is that they failed to shock. This is really something when you consider that the monthly deficit of $44.2 billion in December represents an annual rate of more than 5% of GDP.

On reflection, the markets’ apparent insouciance may not be so carefree and casual. After falling over the course of the last year more than eighteen points against the euro, the dollar has managed to only rally a couple of points from its lows. Oil as of this writing is poised to break $40 a barrel. The Bank of Japan has revealed a colossal “covert” dollar support operation in January. (Why the markets should think this operation as covert is beyond us. The BOJ has accumulated more than $400 billion in the last seven years and has not always announced its purchases in advance.) [More...]

Update: Sanders writes a follow-up after a death threat of sorts.
It should be abundantly clear to anyone who has managed to pass a university level course in macroeconomics that the United States began to move down the path to war with Iraq a number of years ago when the government chose to aggressively promote policies that expanded an already bloated national balance sheet.. The reason why this should be retrospectively clear is that logically, perpetual balance sheet expansion is a policy without an exit strategy The American government has become utterly dependent on foreign savings to finance its budget, and the private sector economy has been overwhelmed by the state capitalism of the defence sector.