29 October 2009

Chris Hedges: Empire of Illusion - The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

About Chris Hedges:

"Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig.org every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He served for eight years as the Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times, where he shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism, for coverage of terrorism. Hedges also received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism.

In 2009 the Los Angeles Press Club honored the original columns that Hedges writes for Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year and granting him the Best Online Column award for his Truthdig essay “Party to Murder,” about the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza.

Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.Hedges, who holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, is fluent in Arabic and also speaks French, Spanish, Greek and Latin."

Blogger Wilton Vought on whose site (Essential Dissent) the videos are posted, writes:

"This video should be required viewing for all progressives who continue to vote for the lesser fascist. Can we just get over this already? Can we get real? Can we come to a true understanding of the situation? Can we stop believing that the oligarchy is going to play Santa Claus, hand us a great big present in the form of a savior politician, and voluntarily relinquish its immense power and privilege? Has your little lesser fascist voting game taken you where you want to go? It is said that the essence of insanity is to perform the same action repeatedly and expect a different result. Can you admit that your actions meet this definition? It's time to build an alternative. Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution?"

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Also check out Wilton Vought's article "The Evil of Two Lessers" written last year before Obama became President.

"A few points to consider:

1. Anyone who succeeds in becoming the presumptive Presidential nominee of either corporate party does so only with the blessing of the corporate interests who run those parties. The main goal of these power brokers is to constantly increase their wealth and power, and their only source of dissatisfaction with the status quo is that they don't yet own and control everything and everyone. Expecting a front man for such interests to be a catalyst for substantive progressive change is akin to believing in Santa Claus. Fine for the kids, but it's time to grow up.

2. Obama's mantra of "Change" is deliberately misleading. It is a blank slate upon which he hopes you will write the message you want to see. Yes, we all want change, but what type of change? He won't tell you this because it's an empty promise, therefore the vacuous slogan. This slogan is an admission by Obama's corporate handlers that they know many of us are disgusted with the state of the nation, but instead of spelling out in detail just how they will institute progressive change (for example, ending the corporate resource grab in Iraq), they offer us a blank slate candidate who will continue on the same deadly trajectory. Can you admit to yourself that you already knew this?

3. One of Obama's main foreign policy advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, a very dangerous zealot for the Empire. You can Google him to find out more, and then ask yourself if this is the kind of person you want whispering into the ear of the President, and further if you should vote for a man who would listen to the likes of Mr. Brzezinski." continues at link. Read it!

Honduras - 100 Days of Resistance

Fault Lines report for Al Jazeera:

"It has been more than 100 days since Honduras underwent only the second coup in Central America since the end of the Cold War.

The crisis has been portrayed as a personal standoff between Manuel Zelaya, the president who was flown out of the country in his pajamas at gunpoint, and Roberto Micheletti, the man who was sworn into power that very same day.

As the country moves haltingly toward elections scheduled for the end of November, Fault Lines travelled to Honduras to learn more, and found that the polarisations run deeper and wider than an easy narrative of political rivalry.

We ask what Honduras means for the tectonic shifts underway in Latin America, the influence of Hugo Chavez and the emerging policies of the Obama administration.

Honduras is a country divided by economic disparity, and members of the tiny group of families that hold the country in their powerful grip speak to Fault Lines.

Social movements are also mobilising in the streets, standing up to repression not just to bring their president back, but to re-found their nation on more equal terms."

Part One:

Part Two:

26 October 2009

Withheld In Full - Episode 1: Morley V. CIA

A decade-long investigative journey led to a still-pending lawsuit by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley against the CIA. At the center of this lawsuit was the CIA's stonewalling of Morley's investigation of George Joannides, a charismatic career CIA officer, who in 1963 was the case officer for the DRE, a Cuban exile group who had numerous encounters with Lee Harvey Oswald in the months prior to the assassination of John F. Kennedy - and who, in 1978, was brought out of retirement by the CIA to compromise the investigation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

For more information, including audio interviews, court documents, and a collection of Morley's writings and relevant primary resource material, please visit

Withheld In Full: Episode 1 - Morley V. CIA
A Film by Tyler Weaver

Thanks to Machetera's posting "
Jefferson Morley’s struggle to find the truth about George Joannides and the CIA’s fight to hide it".

And what has prompted all this? Probably this NYT article from 16 October: "
C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery":

Jefferson Morley, a journalist and author, on Oct. 8 in his office in Washington with documents released to him by the C.I.A.

George Joannides, center, in July 1981, with his wife, Violet, and Bobby R. Inman, deputy director of the C.I.A.

"Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Probably not. But you would not know it from the C.I.A.’s behavior.

For six years, the agency has fought in federal court to keep secret hundreds of documents from 1963, when an anti-Castro Cuban group it paid clashed publicly with the soon-to-be assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The C.I.A. says it is only protecting legitimate secrets. But because of the agency’s history of stonewalling assassination inquiries, even researchers with no use for conspiracy thinking question its stance.

The files in question, some released under direction of the court and hundreds more that are still secret, involve the curious career of George E. Joannides, the case officer who oversaw the dissident Cubans in 1963. In 1978, the agency made Mr. Joannides the liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations — but never told the committee of his earlier role.

That concealment has fueled suspicion that Mr. Joannides’s real assignment was to limit what the House committee could learn about C.I.A. activities. The agency’s deception was first reported in 2001 by Jefferson Morley, who has doggedly pursued the files ever since, represented by James H. Lesar, a Washington lawyer specializing in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits." continues at link.

19 October 2009

ElBaradei: Iran's Nuclear 'Threat' Exaggerated

"The threat in Iran's nuclear program is exaggerated. I do not think that we will wake up tomorrow and discover that Iran has a nuclear weapon," he said in an interview with the Austrian Die Presse published on Sunday.

"[US] President Barack Obama has understood that negotiation is the only possible solution with Iran... Iran wants to discuss not only the nuclear issue, but also the entire palette of problems with the US. Iran can play an important, central role in the Near East; in Afghanistan or also in Iraq," the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize laureate continued.

The greatest danger in the region, according to ElBaradei, comes from the possibility of an Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Bombing Iran is not the solution. An Israeli attack would turn the entire region into a fireball," he said. "

ElBaradei: Iran?s Nuclear ?Threat? Exaggerated -- News from Antiwar.com

On Her Majesty's Service: Richard Ralph and Monterrico Metals: 'British mining company faces damages claim after allegations of torture in Peru'

"British mining company faces damages claim after allegations of torture in Peru". So reads the headline from the Guardian's main article.

But one has to go the Guardian Environment pages to find the full story though:

"The British mining corporation Monterrico's plan was to create Peru's second largest copper mine at Rio Blanco, a vast site in the Huancabamba mountains in the north-west of the country...the mine in the province of Piura was to have increased output by around a quarter, producing exports worth up to $1bn (£600m) a year for the next 20 years.
In law, the corporation was required to obtain the consent of two-thirds of the local population before embarking on mining but – with the apparent encouragement of the government – it tried to press ahead without it This resulted in a series of violent confrontations.
In August 2005, a group of protesters marched to the mine to find police waiting for them. Twenty-eight of the protesters say they were detained, hooded with hands tied behind their backs, beaten with sticks and whipped.
Hundreds of people had converged on the mine from communities scattered across the region. Some had walked for several days to reach the site. Once there, they say, they were attacked by the mine's security guards and by contingents of the Peruvian federal police firing teargas.
Two protesters were shot in their legs, one man lost an eye to gunshot wounds and a farmer called Melanio Garcia, 41, suffered a fatal gunshot. Photographs allegedly taken by a Monterrico supervisor, which the protesters say support their allegations of abuse by the police, show Garcia lying on the ground, apparently alive but badly injured. Several other pictures taken 30 hours later, according to their time and date stamps, clearly show Garcia to be dead."
Monterrico Metals is, as Otto at IKN writes "the company is getting its ass sued in a British court of law for multimillions" as according to the Guardian:

"Richard Meeran, of Leigh Day, the London law firm bringing the high court case, said the evidence of torture was incontrovertible and that it was inconceivable the company could have been unaware of what was happening on its site.
"The company must have been aware of the inhuman treatment of the victims during their three-day ordeal at the Rio Blanco mine," he said. "Yet there is no evidence of it taking any steps to prevent the harm. On the contrary, it would appear that the company was working in cahoots with the police. It is vital that multinationals are held legally accountable for human rights violations occurring at their overseas operations."
This is where the name Richard Ralph crops up:

"Richard Ralph, the British ambassador in Lima at the time of the incident, later resigned from the diplomatic service and joined Monterrico as executive chairman. He expressed the firm's deep regret for what had happened, and has since resigned. The company was bought by a Chinese consortium in 2007, but is still incorporated in London. It has yet to extract any copper from the mine."

But the Guardian fails to inform its readers that Ralph has form:

According to Sky News:

Just in November last year (2008) he was "handed a hefty fine" by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for "a serious example of insider dealing by a person in a key position of responsibility and trust."

"Richard Ralph, who was Britain's official representative in Peru, Romania and Latvia during his diplomatic career, was told he must pay the Financial Services Authority (FSA) £118,000 for insider trading."

Why weren't criminal proceedings taken against him?

"FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole said Boyen and Ralph had co-operated fully with its investigation "by coming forward and providing us with information about market misconduct and as such we were more lenient.
"But for that co-operation, we would have seriously considered taking criminal proceedings," she said."
But as The Times Business Editor David Wighton put it:

"Financial regulators had a rare opportunity to show that they are serious about cracking down on insider dealing. They fluffed it. By ducking a criminal prosecution of Richard Ralph, a former ambassador, the Financial Services Authority risks playing into the hands of the sceptics who believe the practice is not really a crime, especially when the perpetrators are establishment figures.
The FSA argues that it decided against a criminal prosecution because Mr Ralph confessed and co-operated fully. There is some substance to this. Occasional leniency might help to elicit confessions from culprits who would otherwise try to brazen things out. But insider dealing is rampant and getting worse, according to the FSA's own figures.
The occasional minnow is brought to book, but rarely a figure of the stature of Mr Ralph. Nothing would have enhanced the reputation of the FSA as a credible crime-fighting agency more than a scalp such as his."
[Note also the wording in the Sky report (in fact, the reason for his retirement from the Diplomatic Service was to join the firm as executive chairman.):
"It was when Ralph was serving in Peru that he established close links with British mining company Monterrico Metals, which operated in the South American country. He joined the firm as executive chairman in 2006 after retiring from the Diplomatic Service."]
Sky News also tells us: "It is not the first time Ralph has hit the headlines - he was also involved in the Mittal "steelgate" affair when he served as Britain's ambassador to Romania."
For the full story check out Ten Percent's blog posting from January this year: "Torture, Majaz Mine & UK Ambassador Richard Ralph" and Otto at IKN here.

Economist José de Echave of Peruvian NGO CooperAcción put it like this "The fact that a British ambassador who gave professional services in Peru, ends up being a top executive of a mining company, using his contacts, demonstrates the lack of moral quality of this type of personality and it clearly shows how the business of these mining companies is handled."
(CooperAcción is a "Peruvian non-governmental organization that promotes community development and the recognition of communities' economic, social, cultural and environmental rights." They work "directly with communities affected by commercial mining operations and with communities engaged in artisanal mining.")

16 October 2009

Core Of Corruption - The Film

Core of Corruption is a documentary film series which details a comprehensive investigation into clandestine intelligence operations and conspiracies. The project is surfacing exclusive whistle blowers, insiders and critical evidence for the very first time. Over 2,000 hours of credible network news clips have been surfaced for this ground breaking event, most of which have never been seen since they aired and have never been available on the internet. Some of the video news segments for this project, when requested from the networks, were denied access to and corporate representatives would say that the information sought does not exist or has been misplaced. Someone doesn’t want the public to see these stories, that when put together, establish a conspiracy of the magnitude that could change the way one views the world. Countless millions of people are being manipulated and lied to by a network of individuals within government that work on behalf of private interests. The individuals were involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Many of those same figures are are connected to historical events that have shaped our understanding of government crime. For instance, the Iran Contra affair involved many figures that showed up in the 9/11 attacks.«

This is the first part:

One can watch in parts at YouTube or watch the complete version here:
Core of Corruption

06 October 2009

The crisis will deepen, we need real news

Paul Jay of The Real News speaks at the Von Krahl Academy, Estonia in November 2008:

05 October 2009

Simon Tisdall - dishonest intelligence stooge?

Text of letter sent to Simon Tisdall, Guardian Editor and Guardian Reader's Editor:

Mr Tisdall,

Just thought I'd drop you this line to let you know that I do not, unfortunately for you, believe a word you write - if it is you that actually writes the propaganda drivel masquerading as factual news that appears under your name in the Observer/Guardian.

On 22 May 2007, you claimed, on the front page no less, that Iran was "secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal".

A feature of this piece was the sources you used: "US officials say", "a senior US official in Baghdad warned", "US officials now say", "the senior official in Baghdad said", "The administration official", "US officials say", "the senior administration official said", "the official claimed". This continued throughout the whole article giving the impression that you had basically retouched the punctuation of a US propaganda hand out.

As John Pilger correctly comments in his latest article for the New Statesman "Based on unsubstantiated claims by the Pentagon, the writer Simon Tisdall presented as fact an Iranian "plan" to wage war on, and defeat, US forces in Iraq by September of that year — a demonstrable falsehood for which there has been no retraction. The official jargon for this kind of propaganda is “psy-ops”, the military term for psychological operations. In the Pentagon and Whitehall, it has become a critical component of a diplomatic and military campaign to blockade, isolate and weaken Iran by hyping its “nuclear threat”: a phrase now used incessantly by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, and parroted by the BBC and other broadcasters as objective news. And it is fake."

Your more recent attempts to convince the public to support yet another military aggression in the Middle East, with the millions of innocent lives that would be lost as a result, are just as sinister. Last week you claimed that Iran had been "caught red-handed...by the forced disclosure". I beg your pardon? You condemn Iran for doing its job, declaring a facility to the IAEA and inviting its inspectors in! And the conclusion you reach is that they've "been caught lying, again"? Incredible from someone supposed to be unbiased.

Yesterday you continued in the same vein, writing of "disclosures concerning Iran's alleged attempts to design a nuclear warhead to be mounted on its Shahab long-range missiles that are capable of striking Israel and some European countries." You continue with some conspiracy theory about how the IAEA is hiding this information from the public "for fear of increasing international tensions."

Your source for this claim was the NYT, but you didn't pass on their caveat: "its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies...".

Why not? This is outrageous, yet again, presenting as fact unsubstantiated claims. Neither was there any mention of El Baradei's recent statement reported by your own newspaper that there is "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons".

Why was the caveat in the New York Times not repeated?

01 October 2009

The lying game or WMD All Over Again

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger compares the current drum-beating for war against Iran, based on a fake "nuclear threat", with the manufacture of a sense of false crisis that led to invasion of Iraq and the deaths of 1.3 million people.

It's not only Pilger though who's denouncing the British, American and Israeli lies trying to push us all once again into yet another war of aggression.

There's also Phillip Giraldi (WMD All Over Again) who shows just how co-ordinated an effort there is really going on in the US, specifically the media - Washington Post - and across the political divide. He also reveals what the ulterior motive for sanctions really is: "sanctions are an extremely blunt instrument. In practice they never work and only solidify support for a rogue regime, witness Cuba. Once sanctions are in place negotiations cease, virtually guaranteeing a slide to war, which is precisely what Howard Berman and The Washington Post would like to see develop." And Washington, London and Tel Aviv...

He finishes "Remember the WMD, pilotless drones, chemical weapon labs, and mushroom clouds? The same song is being sung again, but this time everyone should recognize a con job when they see it coming."

Then there's Glenn Greenwald (Talking about Iran on the TV) who debated on MSNBC with Washington Post Editorial Page writer Jonathan Capehart ("fresh back from Israel" - where he presumable refined his talking points...well, refined may not accurately describe those comments, but anyway) and Arianna Huffington:

It's important to note Greenwald's comments that "the entire time when I was speaking, MSNBC was flashing scary video of Iran testing its missiles (though it omitted video of this and this), interspersed with this melodramatic and frightening caption:

It’s genuinely hard to overstate the effect of visuals like this, transmitted over and over and over to a population."

Greenwald leads us to Scott Ritter's interview on Democracy Now (Politically Motivated Hype). Scott Ritter was former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998:

"Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has a complete inspection regime conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It’s not been found to be in noncompliance. And yet, here we are condemning Iran for doing its job, declaring a facility, inviting inspectors in. And the conclusion it’s reached from this? That they’re producing nuclear weapons. This is politically motivated hype designed to create a situation this coming Thursday that will find the United States unable to reach any sort of agreement with Iran about its nuclear program.
if you’re the Iranians and you make a decision that you strategically require an additional source of energy, such as nuclear energy, to supplement your domestic energy usage so that you free up your oil production and gas production for exportation, so you can earn money, this is a big deal. This isn’t insignificant. And so, you’re building this capability. Israel and the United States say they want to bomb it. What do you do?

Well, the first thing you do is you build redundancy, and that’s what this new Qom facility represents. It’s redundancy. It’s a backup to the Natanz primary facility. Again, it’s been declared, no nuclear material has been diverted. But it’s there as a backup. The second thing you do is you fire off missiles in a warning that you have an inherent right and capability of self-defense.

Israel launched a massive air exercise last year, in which it demonstrated the ability to fly hundreds of aircraft, you know, the distance necessary to strike targets in Iran. The United States is carrying out exercises with Israel as we speak. You know, the bottom line is it’s the United States and Israel which are the more aggressive of the players here. Iran is not an aggressor. Iran has not attacked anybody. Iran is simply trying to do that which it is legally allowed to do: produce enriched uranium for the purposes of nuclear power. It’s Israel, which, by the way, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, claims it will never be a signatory and has a massive nuclear weapons capability—it’s Israel and the United States which are creating a crisis out of nothing. "

And finally all this is backed up by outgoing IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei ( "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons).

Other news:

  • Shocking news that the "the second highest ranking official at the United Nations’ Mission to Afghanistan, was sacked today by the body following a public falling out with mission chief Kai Eide regarding last month’s fraudulent election in the nation." His crime? His "insistence on a full investigation into the alleged massive ballot stuffing that marred" the recent Afghan 'elections'.
  • The release of the famous EU report on last years Georgia-South Ossetia conflict which manages to find both sides at fault! Georgia for starting the conflict and wait for it, Russia for 'retaliation' “far beyond the reasonable limits of defense”. Perhaps they ought to have a look at the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts too, or perhaps even the recent Israeli genocide in Gaza...it would make interesting reading if they kept to the same criteria!
  • Another 'truly shocking' story by Andy Worthington "Judge’s Ruling Confirms Innocent Gitmo Detainee Tortured To Make False Confessions".
  • Shocking seems to be the word of the day considering this next item that Borev flagged: "RAF leaflet box kills Afghan girl". "The box should have broken apart in mid-air but struck the young girl intact." Note the scary comment under the photo 'The RAF tries to reach local people with leaflet drops'. No one can say they didn't reach that little girl, who remains nameless, no British paper has yet published her name and only the Daily Mail has published her age. She was 6 years old. If it had been a British girl we would akready know everything about her and her life. I have checked the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Scotsman twice, Sky News - there's nothing on her name - while the Independent thought it only important enough as a 3 liner at the very end of the ousted US diplomat report above. Disgusting behaviour by the British press. Yet again.