Howard Zinn at Spelman College

Against Discouragement
By Howard Zinn
[In 1963, historian Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, where he
was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights
activities. This year, he was invited back to give the commencement
address. Here is the text of that speech, given on
May 15, 2005.]
I am deeply honored to be invited back to Spelman after forty-two years. I
would like to thank the faculty and trustees who voted to invite me, and
especially your president, Dr. Beverly Tatum. And it is a special
privilege to be here with Diahann Carroll and Virginia Davis Floyd.
But this is your day -- the students graduating today. It's a happy day
for you and your families. I know you have your own hopes for the future,
so it may be a little presumptuous for me to tell you what hopes I have
for you, but they are exactly the same ones that I have for my
My first hope is that you will not be too discouraged by the way the world
looks at this moment. It is easy to be discouraged, because our nation is
at war -- still another war, war after war -- and our government seems
determined to expand its empire even if it costs the lives of tens of
thousands of human beings. There is poverty in this country, and
homelessness, and people without health care, and crowded classrooms, but
our government, which has trillions of dollars to spend, is spending its
wealth on war. There are a billion people in
Africa, Asia, Latin America,
and the
Middle East who need clean water and medicine to deal with malaria
and tuberculosis and AIDS, but our government, which has thousands of
nuclear weapons, is experimenting with even more deadly nuclear weapons.
Yes, it is easy to be discouraged by all that.
But let me tell you why, in spite of what I have just described, you must
not be discouraged.
I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the
South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in
South Africa. The
national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson
in office, was looking the other way while black people were beaten and
killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So black people in the South
decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in
and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were
killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation
and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they
had previously failed to do -- enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the
Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it
did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks
and challenged the system and would not give up. That's when democracy
came alive.
I want to remind you also that when the war in
Vietnam was going on, and
young Americans were dying and coming home paralyzed, and our government
was bombing the villages of
Vietnam -- bombing schools and hospitals and
killing ordinary people in huge numbers -- it looked hopeless to try to
stop the war. But just as in the Southern movement, people began to
protest and soon it caught on. It was a national movement. Soldiers were
coming back and denouncing the war, and young people were refusing to join
the military, and the war had to end.
The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are
right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to
deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but
the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a
hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do -- to get jobs and
get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered
a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing
and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.
Remember Tolstoy's story, "The Death of Ivan Illych." A man on his
deathbed reflects on his life, how he has done everything right, obeyed
the rules, become a judge, married, had children, and is looked upon as a
success. Yet, in his last hours, he wonders why he feels a failure. After
becoming a famous novelist, Tolstoy himself had decided that this was not
enough, that he must speak out against the treatment of the Russian
peasants, that he must write against war and militarism.
My hope is that whatever you do to make a good life for yourself --
whether you become a teacher, or social worker, or business person, or
lawyer, or poet, or scientist -- you will devote part of your life to
making this a better world for your children, for all children. My hope is
that your generation will demand an end to war, that your generation will
do something that has not yet been done in history and wipe out the
national boundaries that separate us from other human beings on this
Recently I saw a photo on the front page of the New York Times which I
cannot get out of my mind. It showed ordinary Americans sitting on chairs
on the southern border of
Arizona, facing Mexico. They were holding guns
and they were looking for Mexicans who might be trying to cross the border
into the
United States. This was horrifying to me -- the realization that,
in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have
carved up what we claim is one world into two hundred artificially created
entities we call "nations" and are ready to kill anyone who crosses a
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary, so
fierce it leads to murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along
with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking,
cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to
those in power, deadly for those out of power.
Here in the
United States, we are brought up to believe that our nation is
different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral; that we
expand into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty,
democracy. But if you know some history you know that's not true. If you
know some history, you know we massacred Indians on this continent,
Mexico, sent armies into Cuba, and the Philippines. We killed huge
numbers of people, and we did not bring them democracy or liberty. We did
not go into
Vietnam to bring democracy; we did not invade Panama to stop
the drug trade; we did not invade
Afghanistan and Iraq to stop terrorism.
Our aims were the aims of all the other empires of world history -- more
profit for corporations, more power for politicians.
The poets and artists among us seem to have a clearer understanding of the
disease of nationalism. Perhaps the black poets especially are less
enthralled with the virtues of American "liberty" and "democracy," their
people having enjoyed so little of it. The great African-American poet
Langston Hughes addressed his country as follows:
You really haven't been a virgin for so long.
It's ludicrous to keep up the pretext…
You've slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows…
Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power.
I am a veteran of the Second World War. That was considered a "good war,"
but I have come to the conclusion that war solves no fundamental problems
and only leads to more wars. War poisons the minds of soldiers, leads them
to kill and torture, and poisons the soul of the nation.
My hope is that your generation will demand that your children be brought
up in a world without war. If we want a world in which the people of all
countries are brothers and sisters, if the children all over the world are
considered as our children, then war -- in which children are always the
greatest casualties -- cannot be accepted as a way of solving problems.
I was on the faculty of
Spelman College for seven years, from 1956 to
1963. It was a heartwarming time, because the friends we made in those
years have remained our friends all these years. My wife Roslyn and I and
our two children lived on campus. Sometimes when we went into town, white
people would ask: How is it to be living in the black community? It was
hard to explain. But we knew this -- that in downtown
Atlanta, we felt as
if we were in alien territory, and when we came back to the Spelman
campus, we felt that we were at home.
Those years at Spelman were the most exciting of my life, the most
educational certainly. I learned more from my students than they learned
from me. Those were the years of the great movement in the South against
racial segregation, and I became involved in that in
Atlanta, in Albany,
, in Selma, Alabama, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and
Itta Bena and
Jackson. I learned something about democracy: that it does
not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting
together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned
something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point -- that
race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does
matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain
people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I
learned that what really matters is that all of us -- of whatever
so-called race and so-called nationality -- are human beings and should
cherish one another.
I was lucky to be at Spelman at a time when I could watch a marvelous
transformation in my students, who were so polite, so quiet, and then
suddenly they were leaving the campus and going into town, and sitting in,
and being arrested, and then coming out of jail full of fire and
rebellion. You can read all about that in Harry Lefever's book Undaunted
by the Fight. One day Marian Wright (now Marian Wright Edelman), who was
my student at Spelman, and was one of the first arrested in the
sit-ins, came to our house on campus to show us a petition she was about
to put on the bulletin board of her dormitory. The heading on the petition
epitomized the transformation taking place at
Spelman College. Marian had
written on top of the petition: "Young Ladies Who Can Picket, Please Sign
My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way
that our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when
the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in
you. There are wonderful people, black and white, who are models. I don't
mean African- Americans like Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or
Clarence Thomas, who have become servants of the rich and powerful. I mean
W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Marian Wright
Edelman, and James Baldwin and Josephine Baker and good white folk, too,
who defied the Establishment to work for peace and justice.
Another of my students at Spelman, Alice Walker, who, like Marian, has
remained our friend all these years, came from a tenant farmer's family in
Eatonton, Georgia, and became a famous writer. In one of her first
published poems, she wrote:
It is true--
I've always loved
the daring
Like the black young
Who tried
to crash
All barriers
at once,
wanted to
At a white
beach (in Alabama)
I am not suggesting you go that far, but you can help to break down
barriers, of race certainly, but also of nationalism; that you do what you
can -- you don't have to do something heroic, just something, to join with
millions of others who will just do something, because all of those
somethings, at certain points in history, come together, and make the
world better.
That marvelous African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who wouldn't do
what white people wanted her to do, who wouldn't do what black people
wanted her to do, who insisted on being herself, said that her mother
advised her: Leap for the sun -- you may not reach it, but at least you
will get off the ground.
By being here today, you are already standing on your toes, ready to leap.
My hope for you is a good life.


Farewell to Drexside legend Oscar Brown Jr

Thank you. Peace.

I’ll leave to those who have said it better than I could.

Cynthia’s Interest,

Professor Kim

Yeah he was cool . . .

The Hidden Element of Hip-Hip: Streetball

As we get ready today to grill, play bid whist, bones and spades. I would like to give a shout out to all the Bruh’s on the courts. We know it’s your day off and that you still have Jordan fantasies and hopefully health insurance but I just wanted to give some thought to B-Ball as the fifth estate of hip hop. I think the reliance on improvisation; collaboration and infinite malleability make basketball a strong potential candidate. More than that I think that any time you get a bunch of dudes together and they are all wearing fantasy Jerseys or worse none at all (if you are going to play shirts and skins – take you ass to the gym), you have a strong case for fantasy. Quiet as it’s kept the real fundamental dimension of hip hop is fantasy. Only in hip hop can a street dealing kind become a legend in his own mind, complete with sound track and virtual crew. Only in hip cop can a white boy string together a prosaic line of insanity and be immediately accepted as “down” (Caution: Ordinary white boys do not try this at home or anywhere near black people may result in total isolation or if symptoms persist a severe beat down!).

From hip hop blogs.

Last year I wrote that the real 4 elements of hip-hop aren't DJ'ing, MC'ing, B-Boying, and Grafitti art, but instead it's music, dancing, style, and mentality, just like any other music culture. Some people have said that leaving out grafitti is a mistake. That even though graf isn't as commercially popular as the other elements, it was still a central player in forming hip-hop and exists today next to the MC's and B-Boys, undercover in the inner cities. My question for those people is this- if graf should be included, then why not streetball (aka basketball's urban, individualized cousin)?

Young Bolivians Adopt Urban U.S. Pose, Hip-Hop and All

We got another one. Bolivia has joined this thing of ours. There is something about being of color, poor and exploited by capitalism that makes you “wanna holla’ and throw up both your hands.” Yes, yes ya’ll. We got Bolivia now. Like Jazz in Europe during the 50’s and 60’s Hip Hop is being embraced world wide. What makes the observation worth noting is that the pattern seems to remain the same – the carriers – poor, dispossessed, disenfranchised, and angry. The original critique that sprung out of New York in the late 1970’s is now being carried world wide. STOP BEING SO DAMN GREEDY. The rest of the world would like to eat too.

EL ALTO, Bolivia, May 24 - This sprawling city on Bolivia's windswept high plains, home to nearly 800,000 Indians, is a tradition-bound place where the language is Aymara, the women wear derby hats and layer-cake skirts and families relax to centuries-old Andean music, which is heavy on pipes but devoid of lyrics. In other words, not exactly the place you would expect to find a thriving, politically charged rap culture. But El Alto - a flash point for protest and the capital of indigenous Bolivia - is seething, and a growing number of young Aymara are expressing their anger in a hard-driving rap, complete with rapid-fire lyrics excoriating Bolivia's leaders and venting about the dire social conditions of the country's Indian majority. Adopting the trappings of American hip-hop, young Aymara wear baggy pants and baseball caps and strike the pose of urban America, hand signs, cocky talk and all. Their inspiration, though, comes straight from Bolivia's recent tumultuous history: the fall of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in October 2003 after protests in which 60 Indian demonstrators were killed, the bitter struggle over development of Bolivia's huge natural gas reserves, the indignation over the Washington-financed eradication of coca and the desperate poverty.


US denies Venezuela extradition of anti-Castro militant

U.S. hypocrisy knows no bounds.

WASHINGTON, USA (AFP): US authorities rejected Venezuela's request to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, a violent opponent of Cuban President Fidel Castro, to face charges he bombed a Cuban airliner in 1976, but Venezuela will not give up hope. "We have sent a diplomatic note to the Venezuelan embassy today, saying that the request lacked sufficient basis from a legal point of view," a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez submitted an extradition request to the State Department on May 13. On Thursday, the top State Department official for Latin America, Roger Noriega, said he had not received a formal request from Caracas. Posada Carriles, 77, has been under arrest in the United States since May 17 on immigration charges after requesting US political asylum. Venezuela has demanded the extradition of Posada Carriles to stand trial for the downing of a Cuban airliner with 73 passengers aboard in 1976.


Official: Many foreign oil companies agree to pay taxes owed to Venezuela

In comments reported Sunday by the state-run Bolivarian News Agency, tax agency chief Jose Vielma Mora said officials plan a meeting Thursday with diplomats and oil company representatives to discuss the payments. He said most of those companies have already decided to pay what they owe, according to the news agency. Officials have estimated the amount owed by oil companies with 32 operating agreements in Venezuela at some $2 billion US for a period spanning the last 10 years, Vielma Mora said. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has previously said companies that run the agreements owe some $3 billion in back taxes, and that companies with heavy crude upgrading projects in the Orinoco tar belt owe more than $1 billion in unpaid royalties. Representatives of major oil companies in Venezuela have yet to announce how they will respond to the claims of owed taxes.


Of Frogs and Men

'Gender-bending' chemicals found to 'feminise' boys

“Gender-bending” chemicals mimicking the female hormone oestrogen can disrupt the development of baby boys, suggests the first evidence linking certain chemicals in everyday plastics to effects in humans. The chemicals implicated are phthalates, which make plastics more pliable in many cosmetics, toys, baby-feeding bottles and paints and can leak into water and food. All previous studies suggesting these chemicals blunt the influence of the male hormone testosterone on healthy development of males have been in animals. “This research highlights the need for tougher controls of gender-bending chemicals,” says Gwynne Lyons, toxics adviser to the WWF, UK. Otherwise, “wildlife and baby boys will be the losers”. The incriminating findings came from a study of 85 baby boys born to women exposed to everyday levels of phthalates during pregnancy. It was carried out by Shanna Swan at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York, US, and colleagues.


Claims of human bird flu cases in China denied

This year is going to be one hell of a Flu season. Not good!

Chinese officials have denied media reports that H5N1 bird flu has killed more than a 100 people in the west of the country. A web-based Chinese-language news service called Boxun (Abundant News), which allows correspondents to freely post information on its site, reported on 25 May that 121 people in 18 villages in the sparsely-settled western province of Qinghai have died of bird flu, and more are ill. Some 1300 people, have been isolated, it reports. But on Thursday the official Xinhua news agency denied any human infections with H5N1 bird flu in the region. No unexplained pneumonia or flu among people who had contact with birds that carried H5N1 has been reported, it says. An expert team was dispatched to Qinghai soon after the strain was confirmed in wild geese at a nature reserve – a development reported earlier this week.


Blogging in Iran


Hossein Derakhshan is on tour. In the past few years, he has become the public face of Iran's beleaguered bloggers, more than a dozen of whom have been arrested for their politics. The crackdown has stifled Iran's exploding Web culture, and Derakhshan is making a swing along the Eastern Seaboard to drum up support for the bloggers back home. He arrives for dinner at the Brooklyn restaurant Superfine, looking like Hollywood's idea of a brainy techno-activist - rumpled suede jacket, half-rim glasses, darkly handsome. A few days ago, he spoke at a conference at Harvard. He's on his way to Washington for a talk show appearance. Soon he hopes to head back to Iran. On June 17, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a president. Derakhshan wants to be there to post reports on his blog, Editor: Myself (www.hoder.com). "I have this little window where I can go home," he says, eyeing the retro-punks squeezing past the table on their way to the bar. "But it will still be very dangerous for me. On one hand, Iran will be on its best behavior because of all the foreign press covering the election. On the other hand, all it would take is one week of torture to give me years of nightmares."


U.S. Jacks Torrent Site


Acting on detailed information provided by the motion picture industry, federal agents descended on administrators and users of a popular pirate-friendly file-sharing site Wednesday in what the government is calling the first criminal law enforcement action against BitTorrent users. FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents executed 10 search warrants in nine states in a strike on Elitetorrents.org, a free, members-only BitTorrent aggregator hosted in the Netherlands. On Wednesday, visitors to the site were redirected to a new government-hosted page with a stern warning about the penalties for internet piracy: "Individuals involved in the operation and use of the Elite Torrents network are under investigation for criminal copyright infringement."



Toward a 'Faith-Based' Fourth Estate

Here they come, the inquisition team is on its way. With money, power, and a fanatic Christian totalitarian bent, the religious right is waging war on America and her institutions turning nearly every forum of public expression into an inquisition of faith. Hey, to the Religious Right, there are simpler ways of doing this . . . if she sinks and drowns she is not a witch.

I don’t really have time to write about it now but this is really starting to look a lot like Salem. Home of homicidal Puritans, repressed sexuality and one of the worst fascist regimes the world has ever seen. The Indians should have never let them land. Oh well hindsight is 20/20.

On the lookout for a new "news paradigm?" Look no more! The World Media Association is on the case, as evidenced by a WMA-sponsored forum in our nation's capital this week. Pre-event publicity for the RSVP Forum, entitled "Needed: A New Paradigm for News," certainly asks the right question: "Are media giving people the kind of news they need?" Perhaps not, but any journalistic gathering that also questions the continued relevance of "the media's traditional role of reporting 'facts' (sic)" sounds more than a little dodgy -- even in our current celebrity-fixated, spin-obsessed, single-sourced, 24/7 news environment. After all, while it's a truism that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, have we finally reached the point where facts are no longer "relevant?" Is it really time, as the WMA asks, "for media to become 'guide dogs' instead of 'watchdogs?'" Rory O’Connor AltNet News

Top Russian Oil Producer Lukoil Seeks $1Bln Venezuela Deal

Oh things are about to get real interesting, we just opened up petroleum energy infrastructure in Russian territory and Russia now wants to make a deal in our back yard with Hugo

1. Pipeline From Kazakhstan Officially Opens ALMATY, Kazakhstan--Investors and high-ranking officials from Kazakhstan, the United States, and Russia on 27 November quietly celebrated the grand opening of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium’s (CPC) 900-mile pipeline. The oil route runs from Tengiz in western Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, skirting trouble spots--including the current conflicts in Chechnya and Afghanistan--and opening the door to the energy-rich and sometimes volatile Caspian Sea countries. “With the start of the CPC pipeline, Kazakhstan now has a reliable and effective system of transporting its petroleum to the world market. It will also increase the efficiency of the movement of crude oil,” Vladimir Shkolnik, the Kazakh deputy prime minister and the energy and mineral resources minister, said at the ceremony.

2. SANGACHAL, Azerbaijan - With speeches and a letter from President Bush, officials Wednesday opened the first section of a 1,100-mile pipeline that will carry Caspian Sea oil to Western markets, a project seen as an economic and political boon for the troubled Caucasus region.The $3.2 billion U.S.-backed project also realizes several crucial goals for Washington, including reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the need to use Russian pipelines to ship oil westward.The presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Turkey were on hand for the ceremony at the Sangachal oil terminal, about 25 miles south of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

3. Vagit Alekperov, CEO of Russia’s largest private oil company Lukoil said on Wednesday, May 25, that his company hopes to sign a $1 billion production contract with Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela by the end of this year. “We’re discussing a number of projects in the Orinoco River basin fields,” Alekperov, quoted by Reuters, said at an investors’ conference in New York. He said the company was also interested in Venezuelan offshore energy production. Fresh from a visit to state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela in Caracas, Alekperov said he expects a visit from PDVSA officials next month in Moscow. Lukoil wants to invest up to $1 billion in oil projects in Venezuela, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter.

Hackers Taking Hostages


Computer users already anxious about viruses and identity theft have new reason to worry: Hackers have found a way to lock up the electronic documents on your computer and then demand $200 over the internet to get them back. Security researchers at Websense uncovered the unusual extortion plot when a corporate customer they would not identify fell victim to the infection, which encrypted files that included documents, photographs and spreadsheets. A ransom note left behind included an e-mail address, and the attacker using the address later demanded $200 for the digital keys to unlock the files. Aslo see Trojan Holds files for ransom in New Scientist


Where Have All the Young People Gone?

The recent conference -- held May 13-15 and organized by Free Press -- was both a milestone in grassroots organizing and a tribute to populism. More than 2,500 people from 50 states and eight countries came together, barely fitting into over 50 panels. There were community media producers, low-power radio station builders, city-owned Internet advocates, hip-hop activists, lawyers, countless concerned citizens and some of the best-known voices in progressive media, including Bill Moyers, Naomi Klein, Al Franken, Davey D, and Jim Hightower.

Army War College article says invasion of Iraq was 'strategic error'

BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 12, 2004

(01-12) 17:22 PST MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) --

A report published by the Army War College calls the Bush administration's war on terrorism unfocused and says the invasion of Iraq was "a strategic error."

The research paper by Jeffrey Record, a professor at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, said the president's strategy "promises much more than it can deliver" and threatens to spread U.S. military resources too thin. Record also wrote that Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not present a threat to the United States and was a distraction from the war on terrorism.

Record is a visiting professor at the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. The paper was published last month by the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute.

Lt. Col. Merideth Bucher, public affairs officer for the Army War College, said Monday it is not unusual for students, mostly higher ranking officers, at the war college to be exposed to critical thought that might be contrary to current national policy. She said students are often exposed to speakers with varying views.

The director of the Strategic Studies Institute, Douglas Lovelace Jr., said it was originally founded by President Dwight Eisenhower to take a critical independent analysis of military issues from an academic perspective.

"Dr. Record is a noted national security specialist. It's not at all at odds for us to analyze a given mission and arrive at a conclusion that seems at odds with national policy," Lovelace said. He said in the past the institute has released studies analyzing U.S. policy in Haiti, Afghanistan and other hot spots.

Record could not be reached immediately for comment Monday through Army public affairs offices and he did not immediately respond to e-mails from The Associated Press. He is the author of six books and is a former legislative assistant for national security affairs to Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Georgia, and former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas.

Record's report concludes that the war on terrorism is too widespread and should focus on al-Qaeda and other terrorist threats to the United States.

"The United States may be able to defeat al-Qaeda, but it cannot rid the world of terrorism, much less evil," Record writes.


Molly Ivins and the Shit Storm to Come

Irony Overflowing
molly ivins

Right-wing Republicans fight to make the world safe from "judicial activists" by appointing Priscilla Owen -- the biggest, baddest, worstest judicial activist Texas ever produced -- to the federal bench. Owen is so notorious for reading her own opinions into the law, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then her colleague on the Texas Supreme Court, described her opinion in a parental consent case as "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." (For further irony, see Gonzales' subsequent attempts to deny that he was describing Owen.)



US accuses Britain over Afghanistan's heroin crops

Afghanistan the New Narco-State

American officials have accused Britain of being "substantially responsible" for the failure to make more progress in eradicating heroin production in Afghanistan, said a classified document published yesterday. The three-page cable sent by the US embassy in Kabul to the State Department said the British-led campaign against the drug trade was selecting the wrong targets. It also accused British officials of refusing to alter their plans when asked to do so. The document accused President Hamid Karzai of a failure of leadership, by offering only ineffective backing to the campaign. The Afghan leader said he was unwilling to step up the attack on drugs until the international community makes good on promises to fund alternatives for Afghanistan's impoverished farmers. That has angered US officials, worried by soaring heroin production and the possible creation of wealthy narco-terrorists. The report said: "Although Mr Karzai was well aware of the difficulty in trying to implement an effective ground eradication programme, he was unwilling to assert strong leadership, even in his own province of Kandahar." It related a recent US-led attempt to wipe out opium poppy fields in the area that encountered heavily armed resistance. Despite requests for assistance from Kabul, the force received "no support whatsoever from key members" of the government, "namely President Karzai".


Venezuela Update

Things are getting so busy in Venezuela I figured to just lump it all in one post.

Venezuela to back oil cuts

CARACASVenezuela would probably support a cut in oil production if fellow members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) favoured a move to reduce world supplies of oil, Venezuela’s oil minister said at the weekend. Rafael Ramirez said Venezuela, along with other Opec members, would have to consider the proposal to decrease oil output at a meeting next month.

Venezuela: Foreign oil companies owe $4 billion in taxes and royalties

(MENAFN) Venezuela claimed that international oil companies operating in the country owe about $4 billion in back taxes and unpaid royalties, Bloomberg. The South American country's Energy and Oil Minister said international companies operating 32 oil fields for state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, owe about $3 billion in income taxes. Four extra-heavy oil joint ventures owe an additional $1 billion in royalties. The minister is set to go to the National Assembly to present proof of alleged wrongdoing by foreign companies operating in the country. Among those companies operating in the country are Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Texaco Corp., ConocoPhillips, France's Total SA and Spain's Repsol YPF.

Venezuela Economy Grows 7.9 Percent in 1Q

Venezuela's economy grew 7.9 percent in the first quarter of 2005, helped by an increase in consumption and government spending, the Central Bank said Tuesday. The rate is considerably lower than the growth levels registered during the same period in 2004, which many considered a rebound from a two-year economic contraction.

Venezuela politics: Relations with US sink lower


Relations between Venezuela and the US, already quite hostile, may be hitting a new low. Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Washington if it does not hand over a fugitive from Venezuelan law. This dispute, along with the heightened rhetoric in both Washington and Caracas, not only puts at risk the US’s relationship with one of its major oil suppliers. It could also create new friction with other countries in Latin America that oppose the Bush administration’s efforts to isolate the controversial Venezuelan president. The new row involves a Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted in both Venezuela and Cuba for alleged involvement in a bombing of a Cubana airline plane in 1976 (in which 73 people died) as well as other subsequent acts of terrorism against the Fidel Castro government. Mr Posada was tried twice in the 1980s in Caracas, where he lived and was a member of the Venezuelan intelligence service, but escaped from prison in 1985. Years later he was convicted and then pardoned in Panama, and in March resurfaced in Miami. He was arrested there and is being held on charges of illegal entry into the US.

Vive Le France! France Decriminalizes File Swapping


PARIS -- Record labels and movie studios are counting on the courts to help wage their war against global online piracy. But in France, some courts are refusing to go along. Judicial activism is roiling the entertainment industry here, as judges release convicted fileswappers with suspended sentences associated with otherwise draconian penalties stipulated by copyright law. Now, in a widening rift, the powerful president of the French magistrates union has begun to openly advocate decriminalizing online trading in copyrighted works for personal use. "We are in the process of creating a cultural rupture between a younger generation that uses the technologies that companies and societies have made available, such as the iPod, file download software, peer-to-peer networks, etc.," Judge Dominique Barella told Wired News. "It's like condemning people for driving too fast after selling them cars that go 250 kmh."


Light gun fires photons one by one

New Scientist

The first photon gun capable of firing single particles of light over optical fibres was unveiled on Tuesday. The breakthrough may remove one of the final obstacles keeping perfectly secure messages from being sent over standard telephone fibres. Encryption techniques change each character in a message in a way that can be reversed by a receiver who possesses the relevant key. But sending the key to the receiver is just as troublesome as sending the message as it too can be intercepted - a problem known as key distribution. Twenty years ago, North American physicists Giles Brassard and Charles Bennett outlined a way to send a key without anyone being able to eavesdrop. Their idea rests on the notion that a message sent using quantum particles -such as photons - is so fragile that measuring the photons changes their properties. So anybody listening in to a transmission would destroy it - which the sender and receiver would easily notice. But so-called quantum encryption works only if the key is sent using individual photons, rather than the pulses of many photons that are used for communication today. But sending single photons is tricky.


Media Squeezed by Oil and Banking

While in the land of Eschaton I happened upon . . . I won’t call it a C-O-N- spiracy. Nope won’t do it. That would cloud the issue. What I will mention is the influence that major energy and financial companies have over two very significant mechanisms of American democracy – legislation and information.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) – Days after financial services giant Morgan Stanley informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing “objectionable editorial coverage,” global energy giant BP has adopted a similar press strategy. According to a copy of a memo on the letterhead of BP’s media-buying agency, WPP Group’s MindShare, the global marketer has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward negative editorial coverage. The memo cites a new BP policy document entitled “2005 BP Corporate-RFP” that demands that ad-accepting publications inform BP in advance of any news text or visuals they plan to publish that directly mention the company, a competitor or the oil-and-energy industry. A spokeswoman for MindShare refused to comment on the memo, calling it a “client matter” and referred calls to BP. BP spent $95.5 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence. . . One former publisher and longtime magazine industry executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that “magazines are not in the financial position today to buck rules from advertisers” and predicted that such moves will continue. full

With the energy companies drafting our energy policy and the financial services sector drafting our bankruptcy legislation it seems more than suspicious that they are muzzling, through extortion, the press. You do the math. What this amounts to is corporate censorship of the press; being private entities it is their prerogative to spend money with whom they choose. But when the government is in league with these companies and the public’s right to know is compromised by the machinations of a combination of government and private interest then, a critical eye has to be trained on what went wrong that has allowed the welfare of so many to end up in the hands of so few.

The Republicans are Slick

I see it and I still don’t believe it. I keep telling myself that there is a bigger fight and they needed to save the filibuster. But then I remember that, wait a minute, nobody wanted to lose the filibuster – what a bluff. I can’t believe that the Democrats didn’t have the sense or the stones to fight this one out. And now Bush gets to play lets make a deal: you can have a really fascist, conservative judge; a conservative, fascist judge or a judge who is fascist and conservative. The Republicans have a better team. Damn!

WASHINGTON - Judicial nominee Priscilla Owen gets the vote she's been awaiting for more than four years, the most immediate beneficiary of a deal worked out by Senate moderates to avoid a debilitating fight over filibusters. The Senate was voting to end debate on Owen, currently a Texas Supreme Court justice, clearing the way for her to gain a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.

Military, law enforcement caught in FBI drug sting

TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- FBI agents posing as cocaine traffickers nabbed 16 current and former law enforcement officers and U.S. soldiers who had accepted more than $222,000 in bribes to help move drugs past checkpoints, the government said.


Venezuela: opting for the poor - liberation theology today

As Venezuela begins its path towards self determination the religious dimension of its “experiment in sovereignty” puts liberation theology at the spiritual heart of the developing national consciousness of sovereignty.

In the 70s and 80s, liberation theology worried the powerful by inspiring the poor to speak up and middle class professionals to join them. Liberation theology has since fallen off the map. But under the news radar, the movement is still kicking and finding believers.

Archbishop of Merida and President of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV) Baltasar Porras supports these claims. Liberation theology "vindicates the people's fundamental values," he said in a phone interview. "It continues to be relevant. Being based on Latin America's reality, it gives the region's people a sense of identty."


Chavez says Venezuela interested in nuclear energy

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his government was interested in nuclear energy and could start talks with Iranian partners to study possible atomic and solar power projects. Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States and a leftist ally of Communist Cuba, said Venezuela and other Latin American countries could develop nuclear energy as an alternative power source for civilian purposes. "We are interested too, we must start working on that area... the nuclear area. We could, along with Brazil, with Argentina and others, start investigations into the nuclear sector and ask for help from countries like Iran," Chavez said on his regular Sunday TV program. "It is for development, for life, for peace and energy, "the president said during the program broadcast at an event in Caracas for Iranian companies. Venezuela, the world‘s No. 5 oil exporter, is a key energy supplier to the United States, but its relations with Washington have soured since Chavez came to office six years ago promising to fight poverty with a raft of social reforms. Chavez has backed Iran, branded by Washington part of an "axis of evil," in Tehran‘s dispute with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program. U.S. officials accuse Iran of secretly working to produce nuclear arms, but Tehran says its atomic program is only for civilian energy uses.


Mass. Repeals Law Banning Native Americans from Boston

It hasn't been enforced in centuries. But tribes in what is now known as Massachusetts have found it a continuing insult that there's a law on the books barring Indians from entering Boston. It dates back to 1675. Massachusetts lawmakers finally got around to repealing the law this week. Gov. Mitt Romney has said he'll sign it and the welcome mat will be out soon for Native Americans



We Come Out Chased By Hounds

The more things change . . .

Back in the day when I was a kid during the Regan-Bush years, they passed anti-gang legislation and it became open season on any young Black or Hispanic male – police brutality that made Guantanamo look like a vacation. Now they have done it again, passing new “gang legislation” as if there were no laws to deal with murder, drug dealing and immigration. Where belonging to a gang can mean as little as having more than one friend or standing on the corner. So, once again, its open season on colored folk.

A bill approved 279-144 on Wednesday would expand the range of gang crimes punishable by death, establish minimum mandatory sentences, authorize the prosecution of 16- and 17-year-old gang members in federal court as adults, and extend the statute of limitations for all violent crimes from five to 15 years. Democrats who opposed the bill said it puts too much emphasis on punishment and neglects prevention. While the bill authorizes $387.5 million over the next five years to fight street crimes, opponents said the cost of accommodating new prison inmates alone would exceed $9 billion over the next decade. "Passing this bill will do nothing to stem the tide of gang violence throughout this country," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y. "What this bill will do is worsen our youth violence behavior by enslaving our youngsters into prison." Under the bill, federal prosecutors would share about $50 million a year to designate areas of high-intensity interstate gang activity and create law enforcement teams to go after gangs. Forbes aides said the intent is to produce an estimated 200 new federal anti-gang prosecutions a year that would strike at gang networks much like the federal government has pursued organized crime syndicates. more

It seems the new legislation is designed to create more workers for the prison industrial complex, more bonuses for prosecutors, and more funds for the prison and police systems. Didn’t we just finish a decade of mandatory minimums that almost broke the prison system and destroyed a generation of young men and women?

The Myth of Equality and Mobility or The Death of the American Dream

If economic mobility continues to shut down, not only will we be losing the talent and leadership we need, but we will face a risk of a society of alienation and unhappiness. Even the most privileged among us will suffer the consequences of people not believing in the American dream."

The NY Times has come out with a series on the reality of the American dream and the prospect of social mobility for you and your future generations. While the article discusses some rudimentary issues in the myth of class and mobility in America today it leaves out one crucial dimension – race. Throughout the article there is discussion of wealth, income, education, and occupation but no discussion of race. Despite the fact that the study shows that American mobility is substantially nonexistent for the poor, marginal for lower to lower middleclass and nominal for the middleclass, there is no mention of the factor race plays in ones mobility or lack there of. As America becomes increasingly more rigid and the Horatio Alger mythology, that has been the hallmark of American opportunity, is shown to be nothing more than the fictions of a second generation Harvard educated, defrocked Unitarian minister, we are forced to re-evaluate the direction of our democratic experiment. I find it incredibly difficult to argue that America is becoming more equal when generational mobility may more realistically require sustained effort over five generations to make an appreciable run at the American dream. That while conservatives, moderate liberals and disgruntled others argue that the days of affirmative action have come to an end, there is no recognition that the contract was executed in bad faith – two generations to do the work of five (1968 – 2005). The article demonstrates that America is living in a fantasy world doomed to awaken in the desert of the real.

Mobility is the promise that lies at the heart of the American dream. It is supposed to take the sting out of the widening gulf between the have-mores and the have-nots. There are poor and rich in the United States, of course, the argument goes; but as long as one can become the other, as long as there is something close to equality of opportunity, the differences between them do not add up to class barriers. Most Americans remain upbeat about their prospects for getting ahead. A recent New York Times poll on class found that 40 percent of Americans believed that the chance of moving up from one class to another had risen over the last 30 years, a period in which the new research shows that it has not. Thirty-five percent said it had not changed, and only 23 percent said it had dropped.

The new studies of mobility, which methodically track peoples' earnings over decades, have found far less movement. The economic advantage once believed to last only two or three generations is now believed to last closer to five. Mobility happens, just not as rapidly as was once thought. In a 1987 speech, Gary S. Becker, a University of Chicago economist who would later win a Nobel Prize, summed up the research by saying that mobility in the United States was so high that very little advantage was passed down from one generation to the next. In fact, researchers seemed to agree that the grandchildren of privilege and of poverty would be on nearly equal footing. But in the past, Professor Solon added, "people would say, 'Don't worry about inequality. The offspring of the poor have chances as good as the chances of the offspring of the rich.' Well, that's not true. It's not respectable in scholarly circles anymore to make that argument."

One study, by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, found that fewer families moved from one quintile, or fifth, of the income ladder to another during the 1980's than during the 1970's and that still fewer moved in the 90's than in the 80's. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that mobility declined from the 80's to the 90's. "Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever experienced," Professor Levine said. "Being born poor in the U.S. gives you disadvantages unlike anything in Western Europe and Japan and Canada." But beneath all that murkiness and flux, some of the same forces have deepened the hidden divisions of class. Globalization and technological change have shuttered factories, killing jobs that were once stepping-stones to the middle class. Now that manual labor can be done in developing countries for $2 a day, skills and education have become more essential than ever. This has helped produce the extraordinary jump in income inequality. The after-tax income of the top 1 percent of American households jumped 139 percent, to more than $700,000, from 1979 to 2001, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which adjusted its numbers to account for inflation. The income of the middle fifth rose by just 17 percent, to $43,700, and the income of the poorest fifth rose only 9 percent.


Calif. Senate approves electronic ID ban

A California bill that would prohibit the use of tiny radio devices in driver's licenses and other state-issued forms of identification won approval from the state's Senate this week in a 29-to-7 vote. The bill moves next to a vote in the State Assembly, which last year derailed a proposal for restrictions on the conmmercial use of such devices, also known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, chips. California Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) introduced the Identity Information Protection Act of 2005, SB 628, in February following public outcry over a Sutter County school's plan to outfit elementary students with ID badges containing RFID chips. The proposed legislation may also put California at odds with the Real-ID Act, a new federal law that will require states to issue high-tech IDs.


Canadian court deals setback to record labels

A Canadian appeals court has rebuffed an attempt by the recording industry to unmask 29 people accused of unlawfully sharing thousands of music files. The Federal Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling that said privacy rights must supercede the record labels' copyright claims, at least in "the early stages of this case." In a 27-page opinion, the appeals court stressed that "technology must not be allowed to obliterate" intellectual property rights, but "the potential for unwarranted intrusion into individual personal lives is now unparalleled." The ruling is hardly the end of the matter. Instead, it effectively lays out what kind of legal standard the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) must meet in future lawsuits against accused peer-to-peer pirates.


Venezuela to reconsider diplomatic ties with US if Cuban exile not extradited

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that Venezuela would reconsider its diplomatic ties with Washington if the United States does not extradite a Cuban exile who is wanted for allegedly plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jet. "We can't rush things, but if the United States does not extradite Luis Posada Carriles we will be forced to reconsider our diplomatic ties," said Chavez, speaking during his weekly radio program Hello President. "We will have to consider whether its worth having an embassy there, spending so much money, and them having an embassy here," Chavez added. Venezuela wants to try the 77-year-old Cuban militant with murder and treason for the 1976 bombing, which tore apart the Cubana Airlines plane after it took off from Barbados. Posada, an ex-CIA operative and a naturalized Venezuelan, is accused of plotting the attack in Caracas.



French thinker Paul Ricoeur dies

French philosopher and teacher Paul Ricoeur, whose interests ranged from phenomenology to biblical exegesis, has died, aged 92. As well as teaching at the Sorbonne in Paris, he spent 15 years at the University of Chicago. "We lose today more than a philosopher," said French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. "The entire European humanist tradition is mourning one of its most talented spokesmen." President Jacques Chirac also hailed a man who, he said "never stopped proclaiming with determination the need for dialogue and the respect of others"



Your Boss is Probably Watching You Read This Story

From computer monitoring and telephone taping to video surveillance and GPS satellite tracking, employers are using policy and technology to manage productivity and protect resources. To motivate employee compliance, companies increasingly are putting teeth in technology policies. Fully 26% have fired workers for misusing the Internet. Another 25% have terminated employees for e-mail misuse. And 6% have fired employees for misusing office telephones. That’s according to the 2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute.

Internet, E-Mail, IM & Blogging:
When it comes to workplace computer use, employers are primarily concerned about inappropriate Web surfing, with 76% monitoring workers’ Website connections. Fully 65% of companies use software to block connections to inappropriate Websites—a 27% increase since 2001 when AMA and ePolicy Institute last surveyed electronic monitoring and surveillance policies and procedures in the workplace.

Computer monitoring takes various forms, with 36% of employers tracking content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard. Another 50% store and review employees’ computer files. Companies also keep an eye on e-mail, with 55% retaining and reviewing messages.

Employers are doing a good job of notifying employees when they are being watched. Of those organizations that engage in monitoring and surveillance activities, fully 80% inform workers that the company is monitoring content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard; 82% let employees know the company stores and reviews computer files; 86% alert employees to e-mail monitoring; and 89% notify employees that their Web usage is being tracked.


Star Wars Ends With Solid Sith

Wired news

All good things must come to an end, and all sort-of-mediocre things eventually peter out, too. And so we're faced with the third Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, simultaneously the most anticipated and dreaded film of the summer. Nearly a decade of hype, dashed expectations and Jar Jar Binks jokes have finally come down to this, by all accounts the last Star Wars movie that will ever be made. Cutting to the chase, there's a lot to like about the new prequel, so much so that I don't hesitate to recommend it to both Star Wars enthusiasts and casual fans -- no matter what you thought of the last two movies. Finally, director George Lucas delivers the film we've been waiting for, full of action involving characters we actually care about, and telling along the way the genuinely soulful story of a young man's fall from grace. The executive summary is that Episode III is easily the best of the prequels, and it's considerably better than the bloated and nonsensical Attack of the Clones. It may even be better than Return of the Jedi. Aside from a number of impressive set pieces (the movie's got light-saber showdowns galore), Sith's best feature is that it finally answers all those nagging questions about the galaxy from long, long ago, particularly about the role of the clones/stormtroopers in the future Emperor's monumental conspiracy to gain power. Here we get to see exactly how the clone wars go down, what happens to the Jedi, how the Republic turns into the Empire, and how earnest Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) plays the ultimate pawn in all of this. It's a long way from Attack of the Clones to A New Hope, but Lucas deserves credit for getting us from point A to point B -- logically (for once), and in just 138 minutes.


Give Your DVD Player the Finger

wired news
of California
at Los Angeles engineering professor Rajit Gadh is leading research to turn radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags into an extremely restrictive form of digital rights management to protect DVD movies. RFID tags have been called "wireless bar codes" -- though they hold more data -- and are commonly used for things like ID badges or keeping track of inventory in a retail store or hospital.

Though RFID tags are usually read by a wireless data reader, the proposed DVD-protection scheme would make no use of RFID's wireless capabilities. Rather, the researchers are interested in the ability to write data to the tags, which can't be done on a DVD once it's been burned. Here's how the system might work: At the store, someone buying a new DVD would have to provide a password or some kind of biometric data, like a fingerprint or iris scan, which would be added to the DVD's RFID tag. Then, when the DVD was popped into a specially equipped DVD player, the viewer would be required to re-enter his or her password or fingerprint. The system would require consumers to buy new DVD players with RFID readers.


US accused of 'terror hypocrisy'

Venezuela has said the US will be guilty of double standards on terrorism if it does not extradite a Cuban exile wanted over the bombing of a plane. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the man, Luis Posada Carriles, was "a self-confessed terrorist". He said the US had no choice but to send him back to Venezuela, where he escaped from jail two decades ago. Venezuela wants the man to stand trial over the bombing of the Cuban plane in 1976 that killed 76 people.



Happy Birthday Brother Malcolm

Mr. Jackson Goes To Mexico

Jackson arrived in Mexico on Tuesday, the same day Mexico's Assistant Foreign Secretary, Patricia Olamendi, issued a formal apology for the president's remark that Mexicans take jobs that "not even" blacks want in the United States. Olamendi said: "If anyone felt offended by the statement, I offer apologies on behalf of my government." Speaking to reporters at the Mexico City airport, Jackson said Fox "has expressed public regret and remorse ... he now realizes the gravity of the statement he made and the harmful ramifications."

OK. Why is Jesse in Mexico? Do we really need him down there, why didn’t he go to Oklahoma and raise hell about theBlack Wall street” case? Why has he not mentioned anything about the abysmal statistics on Black women’s health and medical treatment? Why hasn’t he made a stink about the declining longevity of Black men (probably because he has a better health plan)? Why no word on Bush’s unfunded education mandate and the repercussions it is having on teachers particularly in inner city and poor districts? Hey Jesse, what’s the word on the war in Iraq, the phony intelligence, predatory military recruiting practices, the Downing street memo? Oh yeah, not in Mexico. Did you get a deal on a Pepsi plant down there?

Fox's administration sent a diplomatic letter Monday that protested new U.S. immigration policies clearing the way for an extension of a border wall along the California-Mexico border and requiring states to check that migrants are legal before giving them U.S. driver's licenses.

Let me see. The President of Mexico takes a stand on U.S. immigration policy and the fascist de-facto National ID card, a horrible Mexican economy and a bad American economy . . . And the U.S. response is . . .

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called Fox's remark "very insensitive and inappropriate" and said the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City had raised the issue with the Mexican government. Aguilar said Mexico had received no formal complaint from the State Department.

To which the media commentary and analysis is . . .

Many Mexicans did not see Fox's remark about blacks as offensive. Blackface comedy, while demeaning to many Americans, is still considered funny here and many people are given nicknames based on skin color.

What the hell does Black face comedy have to do with a National ID card, bad jobs, a shitty economy or vigilante Klansmen patrolling the border? And what is Jesse doing in Mexico? Just thought I would ask.


Oklahoma Judge fears setting precedent on terrorism case

I guess it is a good idea not to hold a state liable for crimes committed 80- years ago. That might set a precedent that would make the state liable for something that happened oh say, 140 years ago. But what I don’t understand is how can you not extend the statute of limitations when there is no statute of limitations on murder? What ever happened to our commitment to fighting terrorism?

By: Shaun Schafer, Associated Press TULSA, Okla. -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a lawsuit filed by hundreds of people affected by a 1921 race riot that reduced the city's then-thriving black community of Greenwood to ashes. The refusal, which came without comment, left intact the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it was too late for victims and their descendants to sue the city and the state of Oklahoma. Their attorney had argued that a report issued in 2001 disclosed new information about the riot, and it was not until after the end of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s that courts became receptive to civil rights lawsuits. A federal judge in Tulsa threw out the lawsuit in March 2004, saying he could not find a reason to extend the statute of limitations. "It's still a tragic time in the history of the state," Wellon Poe, assistant attorney general, said of the riot. "I think it is a good decision not to hold the state liable for something that happened more than 80 years ago."



Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement

Leave it to a Scotsman to tell off the wankers in congress. Courtesey of Church of the Bad News

Deja Vu all over again: Return of Iran Contra

Here we go again form Iran – Contra to IraqVenezuela. What ever happened to a concept called sovereignty?

The Washington Center for Security Policy warned that the increasingly repressive - and aggressive – government in Venezuela must either “change or be changed” if the region is to avoid the terrible human costs of a new generation of revolutionary upheaval.

Change or be changed” if the region is to avoid the terrible human costs of a new generation of revolutionary upheaval. The Center's just-released Occasional Paper, titled “What to Do about Venezuela”, documents the extent to which the so-called revolutionary "Bolivarian" regime in Venezuela is becoming a "clear and present danger" to the countries and people of Latin America and beyond. In a stinging, point-by-point indictment of the regime of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, the paper calls on the Bush administration to repair its neglected and strained relationships across Latin America, and to work with neighboring democratic governments to ensure that the regime cannot consolidate itself or threaten its neighbors. The paper strongly urges Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reverse the Bush Administration's do-nothing approach toward Latin America, noting that, "over the past four years, Jimmy Carter has been the most visible - and arguably the most influential - U.S. leader in Latin America." Carter's imprimatur on the results of a rigged Venezuelan election process has given the regime priceless legitimacy.