Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"See the Violence Inherent in the System!"

There seems to be some misinformation going around about what happened in Oakland over the weekend, specifically about the violence that occurred and who was responsible for initiating it.

I wasn't in Oakland for the festivities, but I did spend several hours watching video shot by OakFoSho (Spencer Mills) and OaktownPirate made available through UStream, as well as several others whose efforts were uploaded to YouTube. I've read quite a bit of first hand testimony. I have personal contacts in Oakland as well.

Occupy Oakland became the Energy Center for the Occupy Movement in the United States after the October 25, 2011 police assaults on their camp at City Hall and the subsequent fracas in the streets of Oakland that culminated in the firing of "less lethal" ordnance into a crowd demonstrators resulting in the severe wounding of Scott Olsen and the less severe wounding of hundreds of others. Ever since, what Occupy Oakland does has a profound ripple effect on the entire Movement.

Over the winter, I thought that Oakland might attract many cold climate activists and others to come to California and make Revolution. But that didn't seem to happen. Some came west, yes, but because the aktion in Oakland was something of the trigger for aktions against Occupy all across the country, climaxing with the violent eviction of the original Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York in November, local concerns seemed to be more pressing for many cold country occupations than heading out west. Meanwhile, Occupy Oakland had its own concerns and activities to deal with, including how to continue without an encampment.

Occupy appeared to go into hibernation over the winter, but that didn't mean there wasn't anything going on. Oakland continued to be a hotbed of radical and revolutionary thought and action, and on January 28, the public face of Occupy Oakland once again dominated headlines.

Activists set out to claim an abandoned public space, the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center (known as the Oakland Auditorium in My Day), as the community and activity center for the Movement in Oakland. In this they were thwarted. I can't really say whether there was an expectation among the demonstrators that they wouldn't be thwarted, but if one doesn't take the chance, one can't know what will happen. I think they were prepared for pretty much any outcome.

The outcome that transpired, however, has been mischaracterized and propagandized as an example of how violent the Occupy Oakland people are, and how their violence is the reason they must be suppressed.

After all, a flag was burned at City Hall, right in front of the AP cameras, too. This shall not stand!

In fact, every bit of violence I witnessed in the hours of video I watched, that covered most of the activities and almost all of the violence that took place in association with Occupy Oakland on J28, was initiated by the police. ALL of it.

Over at Corrente, Lambert asserted two instances of "violence" by demonstrators who he said were dressed in black and threw bottles at the police line from the back of the crowd of demonstrators and this caused the police to "charge" the demonstrators. He offered no evidence or context, but he wondered if I approved or thought it was justified. Well, this is the kind of thing that has been cropping up repeatedly in internet discussions of what happened in Oakland, and from what I can tell, it appears to be based on the contrast between the main corps of believers in non-violence and the minority of mostly anarchists who appreciate diversity of tactics. Because there was a Black Bloc action in Oakland in conjunction with the November 2 General Strike in Oakland, in which a dozen or so windows were broken and some very spectacular graffiti was sprayed, there has been ongoing condemnation of Black Bloc tactics throughout the land and especially in Oakland, though generally it's put forth as condemnation of "anarchists," which is off-point. "Anarchists" are not all Black Bloc by any means.

But that's another topic. The topic here is the mischaracterization of the violence in Oakland over the weekend and how it has been propagandized as the work of Occupy Oakland when it was nothing of the kind.

At Corrente, I posted a play-by-play of OakFoSho's video document of what happened outside the Oakland Museum -- as an example of what the documentary evidence shows as compared to what the propagandists want you to believe.

Short version: No violence was initiated by the demonstrators. Every bit of it was initiated by the police, who repeatedly fired unprovoked on the crowd with flash-bang, smoke and tear gas grenades and with rubber bullets, firing directly into the crowd, injuring at least one person and probably more, and assaulting many others. This was not the first initiation of violence by the police that day. That happened at the Kaiser Center earlier when police fired smoke grenades into the crowd -- at least according to reports. I haven't seen video of that action, though I am sure it exists.

What follows is a slightly edited version of my play-by-play of OakFoSho's (Spencer Mills) video shot at the Museum.

I do not see evidence of the actions you describe in the videos I have seen of what happened in Oakland in front of the Museum or in front of the Kaiser Center or in front of the YMCA.

The only times I saw anything thrown at the police was after the police had fired on the crowd. And what I saw almost all looked like ordnance thrown back at the police that they themselves had fired at the crowd. Almost all of the things thrown at the police were thrown from well in front of the main body of the demonstrators, not the back.

A link: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20073032 About 14:00 in the police commence firing from their 10th Street formation at the corner of the Oakland Museum. The crowd is about 50 yards from the police line.

A vanguard of the crowd moves a bit closer to the police line following the initial volley of ordnance; they are kneeling on the pavement behind makeshift shields about 30 yards from the police line. The police fire again, directly at the demonstrators, hitting their shields as well as (apparently) some of the demonstrators. Flash-bangs and tear gas are fired directly into the crowd. At this point, the only things I saw thrown at the police were their own ordnance thrown back at them. After the second volley of flash-bangs, smoke grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, most of the vanguard retreats. Flash-bangs and gas grenades continue to explode among them as they do. After another volley of rubber bullets, the shield bearers retreat. Nothing has been thrown at the police that I can see since the first volley. Then, after the crowd and the vanguard retreat, someone throws a garden chair toward the police. It lands ten yards or so from their line. At this point, the police line begins to break up because they are enveloped in their own tear gas. They pause in their assault to put on their gas masks.

More tear gas is fired at a demonstrator in a green jacket who is taunting the police. The main body of the crowd has retreated at least 100 yards from the police line. I don't see anyone throwing anything at this point, just shouting and taunting.

Once suitably masked, the police line somewhat haphazardly re-forms. The man in the green jacket keeps taunting them. No one is throwing anything that I can see. There is ordnance on the pavement, however.

A stand off ensues during which a man carried an upholstered chair along the sidewalk in front of the Museum and sits down within 10 yards of the police line. It sounds like he's saying something about the violence inherent in the system... He's sitting in his comfy chair and recording the action with his camera phone, possibly live streaming, but I don't know.

At this point, Spencer says "things are being thrown from the back now" -- but they don't show on the video, and he does not show where the crowd is at that point. They were at least 100 yards away from the police line. Spencer says he doesn't know what's being thrown, but it looks like it might be charcoal or a rubber bullet that was already fired (must not be bottles, eh?) and it isn't really reaching OPD. He doesn't show the crowd nor does anything that is thrown show on the video. He does show officers aiming their weapons at the crowd and announces their helmet numbers.

A man in a pink shirt approaches within about 20 yards of the police line and shouts "Cops go home, cops go home." Weapons are aimed at him by helmet numbers 160 and 079. It sounds like a round is fired, perhaps rubber bullet. There is someone on the pavement, looks like a woman holding her leg. The man in the pink shirt approaches her and bends down to speak to her. She lies down on the pavement. The man in the pink shirt stands over her. (Assuming it's a woman, not possible to tell for sure.) Several people on the periphery of the crowd are taking photographs of the person on the ground and showing a good deal of concern.

The crowd advances toward the police line, chanting "Cops go home, cops go home." The shield bearers crouch down about 40 or 50 yards from the police line. The crowd has thinned quite a bit, there may now be only half the number originally on Oak Street. The original number was impossible for me to judge because the video did not show the back of the crowd, but it was dense and filled the street.

Calls for a medic go out. The person lying on the pavement is injured. The shield bearers move forward and members of the crowd try to protect the apparently injured person lying on the pavement. One gestures to the police to stop firing. Shield bearers get between the injured person and the police line attempting to protect her(?) until medical aid can be summoned.

Something is thrown at the police line. It does not look like a bottle but rather a rubber bullet casing or a gas canister. The police fire at the crowd immediately. Canisters continue to be thrown back at them. Some land among the police.

The police are firing directly at the shields and the demonstrators.

It looks like more ordnance and possibly rocks are being thrown at the police while members of the crowd shout "Shame on you" at the police. They fire again, directly at the crowd -- which is now quite small. The crowd breaks and runs. Flash-bangs and tear gas are going off among them. Another call goes out for a medic. It's impossible to tell what has become of the injured person who the shield bearers had originally tried to protect. She(?) is no longer visible on the pavement. What's left of the crowd retreats, except for a couple of people who stay with one of the wheeled carts that are used as shields. One of those people taunts and curses the police as they charge up the street.

The police wheel the shield cart out of the way and begin shouting at and assaulting people on the sidewalks and the ramp of the Museum. It appears that those who don't get out of the way fast enough are being arrested unless they are "press."

The crowd has retreated to 11th St at least. The police line re-forms about midway between 10th and 11th St on Oak in front of the Museum. Indecipherable announcements are made over a loudspeaker while a helicopter buzzes overhead.

The man in the green jacket moves toward the police line and re-commences his taunts. Police run to grab him and hustle him behind their lines.

The demonstrators retreat down 11th Street headed toward downtown.

The confrontation in front of the Museum is over.

There's another hour or so of video on this segment but I don't have time to do more play by play today. You can watch it yourself and come to your own conclusions.

I would just say that in Oakland, throwing back ordnance that has been fired at non-violent demonstrators -- as was the case in this instance -- is justified. I did not see anyone in black throwing bottles at the police from behind the crowd. But if there had been someone doing that I would suspect a provocateur. A lousy one at that. The people I saw throwing things were at the front, not the back of the crowd, and they were throwing ordnance that had been fired at them without necessity or provocation.

The police did not charge in this instance because someone was throwing bottles at them, they charged when the crowd was thinned enough for their sense of safety.

If you saw people in black throwing bottles from behind the crowd and precipitating police charges on demonstrators, it would probably be good to cite the evidence, for that is not what happened in front of the Museum.

I would like to see evidence of any such action from behind the crowd. But so far... nada. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, in fact, I suspect it did. But if it did, it was not the proximate cause of the police charges at the Museum or nearby. In fact, I doubt it would have any effect on police action at all. Things were being thrown at the police to be sure, almost all of which appeared to be their own weaponry and ordnance. And everything that was thrown at the police -- that I saw -- was thrown AFTER the police fired on the demonstrators.

So what of non-violence?

Doesn't the principle of nonviolence require the demonstrators to "take their punishment" passively, kind of like the victims of the Amritsar Massacre of 1919? Isn't that how you WIN?

I heartily approve of non-violent tactics, they are very, very good and useful. I do not, however, condemn those who choose to defend themselves against the violence of the authorities. And what happened in Oakland, at least from what I saw and have read and heard was self-defense.

"Stand Up, Fight Back!" is one of the frequently heard chants of this Movement, one that you probably wouldn't have heard in Gandhi's day or Martin's; but you hear it now, all the time, and how some participants in this Movement are conducting themselves in confrontations with the police. They may not initiate violence, but they do not passively "take it."

Times have changed and the way forward is not the same as it once was.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's On. Get Ready. Global General Strike. May 1, 2012

What's emerging from that Occupy chrysalis is looking more and more astonishing every day.

Let the mass freakout begin.

Momentary Change of Pace: Geezers Rule

Buffalo Springfield live at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA, 6/2/11

Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Joe Vitale, Rick Rosas

Go Old Farts!

(Warning, video is an hour and a half long, it's the entire show.)

Chris Hedges Fights The Good Fight

(h/t Cuchulain in comments)
Chris Hedges, outspoken polemicist and prolific author that he is, doesn't just talk the talk on matters important to the future of the American Experiment in liberty, he walks the walk.

He's been arrested numerous times protesting the creeping tyrannies and indignities that have accompanied "the death of the liberal class" -- a term he used to title one of his recent non-fiction books. He's been arrested at the White House, he's been arrested at Goldman Sachs headquarters, he's been arrested at Quantico, and so it goes.

He has made clear that he believes civil disobedience is the only practical course left open to Americans struggling to restore dignity and justice in their lives and the lives of others; the political system is broken, captive to a tiny segment of the "1%", and it cannot function on behalf of the People in its present state.

"Stand up, fight back; resist."

Earlier this month, he took it a step further by filing suit against the President and the Secretary of Defense "to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31."

It's not necessarily clear what that means, so he helpfully explains:

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

Well. Isn't that special.

Now of course these objections to the NDAA were raised time and again prior to their passage and the assent to them by the President. These objections were dismissed on several levels. First, according to some analysts, there is no such authorization for domestic military policing; it's just not in the bill. Second, even if there were, it wouldn't apply to American citizens, only to foreigners deemed "terrorists." Third, even if it did apply to American citizens, which it doesn't, there is always habeus corpus so ultimately nothing has changed at law.

You see.

Besides the which, the President issued a signing statement setting forth the following:

Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.

So there.

But Hedges is not satisfied with airy promises from the White House press office, oh no:

I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up. Consider the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of the military, a suspected “terrorist” who also happens to be a U.S. citizen can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in one of our black sites “until the end of hostilities.” Since this is an endless war that will be a very long stay.

When he wrote, the Occupy Movement was still in a kind of suspended animation, but over the weekend, as we know, it came out of its shell in Oakland -- with dozens of cities marching in solidarity after the Oakland demonstrators were violently assaulted by police and hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested.

As we may not know, however, more and more officials are suggesting or are blatantly declaring the Occupiers and the Movement "terrorists." It's only a matter of time, it seems, before the designation is officially determined and the round ups begin.

We could see it as soon as this summer when the G8 and NATO hold their joint summits in Chicago. Or even before.

The City of London declared the Occupy Movement a "domestic terror organization" back in December to much outrage and denunciation, but the designation stands. In the United States, there has yet to be a designation of "domestic terrorists" as such, but members of the Oakland city council and other elected representatives have had no qualms using the term "domestic terrorists" to characterize Occupiers and the Movement, and a press release issued by the Oakland Police Department yesterday claimed -- in passing -- that the protesters used "improvised explosive devices" (pdf)against the police, which of course is a not-so-subtle means of classifying the Occupy demonstrators in the same category as armed insurgents abroad.

Just as a side note, the Oakland Police Department, as usual, was lying. One of the things that needs to be made clear as crystal is that the Oakland PD is notorious for issuing public statements that are blatant lies, and nothing whatever that they say should be taken as truthful without extensive evidence and investigatory follow up.

There were no "improvised explosive devices" used against the police in Oakland over the weekend. None. Zero. The police, of course, fired numerous tear gas rounds, flash-bang and smoke grenades, and rubber bullets at the crowds -- some of which were thrown back, as they tend to be in these confrontations. The police also fired tear gas against the wind which had the salutary effect of blowing back in the unprotected faces of the officers. Oops.

But that aside, Hedges, by filing suit against the President and Defense Secretary over the NDAA provisions for domestic military policing has taken the matter well beyond polemics. In a sense, he is directly challenging the authority of the White House and the Pentagon in these matters, and further, he is daring the President and/or the Secretary of Defense to order his arrest and indefinite detention in military custody because he may well fall under the provisions of the act regarding "support" of individuals and organizations deemed to be "terrorists" by the President due to his work as a writer of books, articles and essays that deal with such people and organizations previously designated or yet to be designated.

A lawsuit is not exactly The Revolution, of course, especially when Hedges would be among the first to acknowledge the corruption and practical uselessness of the courts to protect the People. Nevertheless, by taking this action, Hedges demonstrates once again what it means to be a citizen rather than a subject and I applaud him.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Is What The Revolution Looks Like

This is a portion of last night's events in Oakland, CA. Let it be understood that the uprising has never stopped in Oakland. It has been ongoing, sometimes quite dramatically, since October, and it shows no sign whatever of relenting.

The Oakland Police have been under Federal reform orders for years, not that they give a shit when it comes to that, and their recent violent crackdowns on Occupy Oakland have caused the federal judge involved to further order the OPD to clean up their act forthwith.

You will note, they were not quite as violent last night as they were on October 25, but they are still intentionally cruel and vicious.

This video -- and others that have been posted -- can only show a portion of the action of course, and much of it is boring and apparently inconsequential. That's the way these things go in real life. Dramatic action is occasional and brief. In the meantime, and in the background, all sorts of revolutionary activism is taking place, 24/7, throughout the city, and spreading from Oakland, all over the Bay Area and Northern California.

The Oakland uprising and Occupation is still the energy center for the movement as a whole, though the philosophical center may still be in New York. The People of Oakland take risks every single day. They confront Authority, defy Authority, and they figure out how to make a Better Future happen in the face of an Authority gone mad.

The People of Oakland will win in the end, though exactly what they will have won is still open to speculation and debate. The more suppressive Authority becomes, the more certain its failure. We're seeing how that works being played out on the streets of Oakland. As it is playing out, the energy released is spreading and spreading and spreading.

The idea that "Occupy is Dead" is ludicrous. But in a certain sense, it may be useful. I've hesitated to post much about what's going on in local Occupations around the country, in part because of the internal transformations going on, much like a metamorphosis. You can't have a successful metamorphosis if you keep opening the chrysalis for inspection. But we're getting close to the completion of the transformation.

We ain't seen nothin' yet.

Earlier in the day:

[These BTW are Spencer Mills' (OakFoSho) videos from yesterday.]


Rebel Communiqué from the Front Lines in the People's Commune of Oakland:


January 29, 2011 – Oakland, CA – Yesterday, the Oakland Police deployed hundreds of officers in riot gear so as to prevent Occupy Oakland from putting a vacant building to better use. This is a building which has sat vacant for 6 years, and the city has no current plans for it. The Occupy Oakland GA passed a proposal calling for the space to be turned into a social center, convergence center and headquarters of the Occupy Oakland movement.

The police actions tonight cost the city of Oakland hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they repeatedly violated their own crowd control guidelines and protester’s civil rights.

With all the problems in our city, should preventing activists from putting a vacant building to better use be their highest priority? Was it worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent?

The OPD is facing receivership based on actions by police in the past, and they have apparently learned nothing since October. On October 25, Occupiers rushed to the aid of Scott Olsen who was shot in the head by police, and the good Samaritans who rushed to his aid had a grenade thrown at them by police. At 3:30pm this afternoon, OO medics yet again ran to the aid of injured protesters lying on the ground. Other occupiers ran forward and used shields to protect the medic and injured man. The police then repeatedly fired less lethal rounds at these people trying to protect and help an injured man.

Around the same time, officers #419, #327, and others were swinging batons at protesters in a violation of OPD crowd control policy, which allows for pushing or jabbing with batons, but not the swinging of them.

In the evening, police illegally kettled and arrested hundreds of protesters. Police can give notices to disperse, if a group is engaged in illegal activity. However, if the group disperses and reassembles somewhere else, they are required to give another notice to disperse. Tonight, they kettled a march in progress, and arrested hundreds for refusing to disperse. Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart. These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD, who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years.

OPD Crowd Control Policy: “If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.”

“The announcements shall also specify adequate egress or escape routes. Whenever possible, a minimum of two escape/egress routes shall be identified and announced.”

“When the only violation present is unlawful assembly, the crowd should be given an opportunity to disperse rather than face arrest.”

At least 4 journalists were arrested in this kettling. They include Susie Cagle, Kristen Hanes, Vivian Ho who were arrested and then released, and Gavin Aronsen who was taken to jail.

One woman was in terrible pain from the cuffs. Dozens of fellow arrestees shouted at the OPD to check her cuffs. But, contrary to their own policy, the OPD refused and simply threw her in a paddy wagon.

OPD Crowd Control Policy: “Officers should be cognizant that flex-cuffs may tighten when arrestees’ hands swell or move … When arrestees complain of pain from overly tight flex cuffs, members shall examine the cuffs to ensure proper fit”

Numerous protesters were injured: some shot with “less lethal” rounds, some affected by tear gas, and some beaten by police batons. There are no totals yet for the numbers of protesters injured. One 19 year old woman was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding after she was beaten by Officer #119.

Cathy Jones, an attorney with the NLG gave the following statement to Occupy Oakland’s media team: “Through everything that has happened since September, from Occupy to the acceleration of “Bills” — NDAA, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA — never have I felt so helpless and enraged as I do tonight. These kids are heroes, and the rest of the country needs to open its collective eyes and grab what remains of its civil rights, because they are evaporating, quickly. Do you want to know what a police state looks like? Well, you sure as hell still do not know unless you were watching our citizen journalists.”

Today, Occupy Oakland events continue all day with a festival in Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa) Plaza:


Occupy Oakland is an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespersons. It is in solidarity with occupations currently occurring around the world in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Oakland Media is a committee of Occupy Oakland, established by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly.


Occupy Oakland Media Committee
(510) 473-6250


Saturday, January 28, 2012

History for Beginners -- Yakkity Yak

a debate on #occupyws from Jacobin on Vimeo.

This panel discussion video is from last October; not sure of the exact date, but it was posted on October 18 and mention is made of the fact that Occupy Wall Street wasn't yet even 30 days old.

The discussion took place in a volunteer run bookstore in New York City -- not sure where exactly or what bookstore it was. The panelists included Natasha Lennard -- who was arrested in the mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge -- Malcom Harris, Doug Henwood, Jodi Dean and Seth Ackerman of Jacobin magazine.

This was very early in the Occupy Movement, and yet many of the issues brought up in this little gabfest have just as much currency now as they did then. It's clear that there was only the sketch of an outline of how to proceed. The worries about dissipation of the energy of the early movement far outweighed fretting over co-optation that became such a focus of some of the activists as well as many political writers on the internet.

Those who objected to the format were dismissed, but the issue continues to be raised: how much does the Movement really want to differ from the mainstream anyway? Panel discussions are the emblem of the "going nowhere" regime the Left has adopted as its own; they also represent the mainstream -- and especially the academic -- organizational model of a very few adepts and experts telling the multitude what they think and therefore what the multitude should believe.

That isn't how the Occupy model works. One man brings it up very articulately.

Also, note the imbalances in both the panel and the audience. (In the Occupy model there would not be this separation into those who sit apart and talk to those who sit and listen) It's a fully male-dominant panel, a youth-dominant panel, a white-dominant panel, and it is a highly educated and broadly "left" panel. That is what much of the activist community looked like in those days. Even in New York. Or maybe especially there.

Note is made by the audience about how white -- though not how male and young -- it is, but again such note is dismissed.

Most of the topics raised in this discussion are still going on, but the matter of what kind of action to undertake -- in addition to philosophizing no end -- seems to have been widely resolved. Action is focused on what will bring attention to the worsening plight of the People, and what can be done and is necessary to ameliorate it.

The video is long, almost 2 hours, but it's the kind of thing that provides a fascinating glimpse into some of what was going on back in the very early days of the Occupy Movement -- from both the inside and the outside simultaneously, and how it struggled to define itself.

As one of the speakers in the audience says, "The Russian Revolution built on more than 50 years of revolutionary development of thought and action."

Indeed, it was closer to 100 years.

Revolutions may seem to happen in an instant, but the prep-time is often generations long.

Where observers may be off kilter is in assuming that the Occupy Revolt commenced sui generis on September 17, 2011. Not quite... Even among this panel, note is made of origins well before that, especially at UC Berkeley in 2009 (much beating of students back then, too). But that insight is challenged by the comment that the tactic of occupying various sites has been utilized for decades.

So it goes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Envisioning That Better Future -- Eight: The End of Empire

The Imperial route is widely seen as the natural outcome of all serious civilized human endeavor. The Empire, under this viewpoint, is not just natural, it is necessary. You cannot have civilization without it. Why just look at Europe after Rome fell. Obvious, isn't it? No civilization there again until Leonardo and Michelangelo. A thousand years of Darkness and Despair.

Except there was no pan-European empire in Leonardo's day or Michelangelo's time. In their Italy, there was no unified government; there was instead a plethora of more or less independent city-states many of which endured until the middle of the 19th Century.

Rome began as a quasi-independent city-state, as did Athens long before it. In fact, both are said to have originated as collections of neighboring hamlets that formed themselves into a political unit with no ambitions, supposedly, beyond common defense against marauders and pirates.

Both went through democratic periods, periods of tyranny, periods of prosperity, periods of suffering and collapse, and both eventually expanded their reach and rule far beyond their civic boundaries. Both were cruel masters to Natives under sway of their colonial outposts. Both faced frequent rebellion on the Peripheries of their empires; often enough, they faced rebellion right at home.

Observers at the time celebrated their Empires while some denounced and decried them. To Imperialist believers, Empire is necessary for there to even be civilization; to skeptics, Empire saps and destroys civilization because of its overwhelming human and financial costs.

The Imperial overreach of Athens was subsumed by the overreach of the Macedonians subsequent to the subjugation of Athens to Sparta. The center did not hold. But then, what of Sparta? Athens endures; Sparta is gone with the wind, as if it never was, though its legend lives on. The Macedonian empire of Alexander fragmented even before it was fully formed, and the semi-nations that took its place were themselves absorbed and acquired by Rome in the by and bye.

Nothing is forever. And no ruler is ever certain of his throne.

The American experience is of course derived in part from ideas that originated in Athens and Rome, and the impulse to Empire has been part and parcel of the American Dream since the beginning. While the foundation of the nation may have been in rebellion against the British Imperial authority, the Imperial impulse itself was maintained upon independence and it was strengthened with the establishment of the Constitution. Put another way, Empire is built in to the formulation of the State itself.

One cannot imagine a non-expansionist United States in the 19th Century. Expansion on the model of Empire was a necessity for survival. When domestic expansion ceased with the "closure of the frontier" in 1890, it was immediately picked up and renewed through overseas expansion and Imperial conquest, starting with Hawaii.

Throughout the early 20th Century, the United States not only ruled its domestic continental Empire, it had far-flung Imperial outposts in the Pacific and Caribbean that it had seized from the decadent Spanish Empire, and it ruled most of Latin America through economic sway, Native proxies, and sometimes directly through military invasion and martial law.

World War I and World War II had the consequence of breaking up the western empires, but in the process, those global conflicts gave rise to three remarkable and in some ways unprecedented domestic empires: the Soviet Union, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China.

The European imperial outposts were jettisoned one by one and in batches, as Asia and Africa were "decolonized" and independence and self-determination was proclaimed and enshrined everywhere. Well. Sort of.

After a protracted and devastating civil war, at least partially engineered by outside forces including American, the Soviet Union fell heir to nearly the entirety of the former Russian Empire. Well, how about that. The current rump Russian Federation is a mere flickering shadow of what the Tsars and the Commissars had once ruled.

Independent India likewise emerged from a civil war that ensured the separation of Pakistan from India, and cobbled together the numerous semi-autonomous petty kingdoms of British India into a single Republic, a domestic Empire that even the mighty Brits had been unable to forge (or more likely had not wanted to see emerge.)

At the conclusion of China's long and bloody civil war, the Maoists took control of the entire domestic continental empire of China's glorious past; they also established a rigid and successful independence from alien and outside rule by anyone, including their ever-so-helpful Soviet pals.

Possibly to compensate for the loss of so much overseas territory, Western Europeans concentrated on the establishment of some sort of European continental union or domestic Empire, which is still an elusive goal. Perhaps it's not even a desirable one any more given the current financial pickle the Europeans find themselves in.

As part of that financial pickle that effects not just Europe but practically everywhere, we are witness to the rise of transnational corporate enterprises acting independently of governments, whether local, regional, national or international. Some of these enterprises are far wealthier than many nations, and they can operate with apparent impunity wherever and however they want. They capture governments -- as they have captured our own -- and operate them for their own parasitical interests in defiance of law and the People.

This parasitical and piratical practice by corporate entities roaming the globe is not entirely new, for much the same ethic of parasitism and quasi-independent extractive behavior by corporate entities was how many of the modern European empires were established in the first place. The corporations went in first and seized what they wanted; rule from the palace and throne came after.

The People are seemingly powerless before the onslaught of Empire, whether brought through military or economic conquest or through genocide and extermination.

But Empire, under any guise, should not be seen as either the promoter or savior of "civilization." For it does nothing of the kind. Civilization may or may not survive under Imperial rule, but it will definitely be altered by it, often not for the better.

In envisioning a better future, many are envisioning a future without Empire. It's natural but not easy to do it.

First thing is the recognition of Empire and its strengths and weaknesses, its durability as well as its fragility. There is a widespread myth running around on the internet and in academic circles that proposes that we are witness to the End of the American Empire which is alleged to be crumbling all around us, as it has been doing for many years. I argue this is not at all the case. The American Empire is doing fine; what we are witnessing and in the midst of is the End of the Republic, actually a much more subtle "ending" -- because the political forms and rituals of the Republic will continue indefinitely, but they will have no meaning. At best, they will be entertainment -- much as the current crop of Republican candidates for the presidential nomination are being marketed as entertainment today. At worst, they'll be empty and cynical rituals masking what's really going on, such as takes place in Congress each and every day.

The Empire, on the other hand, is going great guns (quite literally). Its imposition has been refined to such a point that it's almost automatic now. Imperial sway -- in concert with or under the control of -- transnational privateers is now a matter of remote targeting and liquidation according to parameters and protocols that most Americans (let alone their victims) know nothing of, who are in many cases not even aware they exist. Empire no longer requires invading armies and physical occupations of foreign lands.

The Libyan Thing might be instructive. There was no "invasion," for example, though many observers and commentators speak of what happened there as if there had been a physical, military invasion by Imperial Stormtroops, etc. It didn't happen, and it isn't happening now. There is no occupying force, either. There was Imperial intervention and the aerial bombardment of "forces" (let's understand that both the rebels and the Gaddafi forces -- as well as non-combatant civilians -- were subject to arbitrary Death From Above; that's just how these things are done these days) was only the most overt aspect of it. There was a whole menu of more covert Imperial interventions involved, from the relentless anti-Gaddafi propaganda campaign to international murder squads, financial and economic hits, and domestic terrorism and sabotage.

There's much Imperial chest puffing and strutting about over the success of the Libyan campaign, but it took far longer than it was supposed to, and obviously it was beset with lousy intelligence from the get go, as apparently the Imperial sponsors of the aktion had -- and perhaps still have -- no idea who among the fractious Natives they are "supporting." From the evidence, they are actually supporting none of them. Now that the nation of Libya has been successfully liquidated -- that, after all, was the point of the exercise -- the various corporate interests who sponsored the Imperial intervention are picking over the bones, with, you will note, the complicity of some of the Libyans, but by no means all of them. The Libyans may or may not continue their civil war, but the point of this exercise was to strip them of a national consciousness and of assets, and that has been accomplished rather spectacularly. And it was done without a single uniformed Imperial troop on the ground. (Set aside the murder squads for now.) Well, how about that.

The lesson for the Imperialists was that this sort of thing WORKS. And they will do it again.

A nation destroyed, a People in chaos, assets stripped, defenses neutralized, leaders exterminated. No invasion and no colonial outposts necessary. That is how the Empire will be carried forth. By comparison, the Iraq Thing seems primitive and barbaric -- and in retrospect completely unnecessary.

We are witness to the development of a New Imperialism that doesn't require the kinds of physical force that even a few years ago were considered essential for projection of power. Now, most of what's necessary can be done remotely or from overhead, by a relatively few dedicated and determined individuals with a mission and access to technology.

Once we realize that that is what the Empire means now -- and that it is doing just fine, better than ever -- and that it is the Republic that is being collapsed deliberately and with much malice aforethought, we'll begin to have a better idea how to proceed.

The OccupyTVNY interview with Lawrence Lessig and Chris Hedges I posted the other day can help us to focus on how truly out of touch some of even our most insightful elites tend to be. Lessig is, as I say, a nice man, but he still believes that some of the Republic's attributes are functional, even as he acknowledges the Republic has essentially been extinguished. So he advocates an Article V Constitutional Convention in response, as if it were even conceivable at this point. An Article V Convention five -- or ten -- years ago might have had some merit (I was an advocate for a while) but not now. It's too late for that. Not only is the Federal Government captive to its owners and sponsors, so are state governments (did one not pay attention to the 2010 "elections" at all?) and more and more, so are local governments. The People have been essentially and successfully shut out of their government at every level. Where there might have been support in State Legislatures for an Article V Convention (once it was explained by the right people) years ago, now there would only be a blank stare. It's too late, Larry.

Hedges understands this stark fact, and he seems to understand that none of the mechanisms of the Republic actually work on behalf of the People any more, nor can they be made to. That part of our history is over and done. A captured government does not respond to the People because it does not have to.

So what does he recommend? "Civil disobedience" -- in order to do what? Apparently to get the attention of the Rulership, and force them to accommodate the People's Interests. He witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Empire, after all, and the Revolutions that precipitated it. Surely if babushkas and the rebels assembling in the square and banging on their pots and pans could do it in the face of the implacable Soviet system, we more innovative and creative sorts can do likewise.

Yes, well, I thought that too. Years ago, I think we might have done it, but it didn't happen. There was no assembly, there were no babushkas, there was no banging on pots and pans, and there were no rebels where and when it might have made a difference.

Now it's really too late for even that to make a dent in the Imperial armor.

What to do now?

Hedges helpfully points out that in addition to civil disobedience, resisters also have to create and maintain parallel institutions and social structures that serve the People's interests in stark contrast to the failed and captured institutions of the Establishment that serve only the interests of the Mighty Few.

This parallelism is fundamental. Institutional parallelism is a characteristic of all successful separatist and revolutionary movements (and I might add it has also been characteristic of communities suffering under segregationist policies, more and more of which seem to be reinstituted day by day as more and more are ejected from the mainstream of society, and the Security State further and further encages and restricts the remainder.)

The Occupy Movement has established and maintained parallel institutions from its beginning, from communal feeding stations to People's Libraries to outreach and social service programs and more. These aspects are integral to the Movment and the Revolution at its core. As far as I know, all active Occupations utilize as much institutional parallelism as they are able. I have referred many times to the importance and necessity of the demonstration as the keystone of the success of the Movement. By providing alternatives to the failed systems of rule we are under, the Movement ensures its perpetuation.

But what of the Empire? Do we ever get free of it? Perhaps so, perhaps not. The End of Empire means the end of Imperial control in our mind's eye and of our actions and beliefs first and foremost. End that control, and whether or not a political empire continues doesn't matter. The more pressing issue of economic imperialism, which hamstrings everything else that people hope or do, though not so much what they believe, is a much tougher nut to crack (ask the Africans who saw their one hope in Libya demolished before their very eyes).

But even the ropes and strangulation of economic terrorism and imperialism can be undone, through non-cooperation among other means. Ultimately, it appears that the greed and stupidity of those who rule through economic terrorism and imperialism bring the superstructure down sooner or later, these days sooner if events in Europe are any guide.

And then?

Well, that's why we need those parallel institutions!

Yea, verily, the End Is Nigh, but it may not be quite what we anticipated.

And in case it wasn't clear, Mars is not the answer... ;-D

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Hubble Space Telescope image of the Acidalium hemisphere of Mars, 1995

I mentioned in a comment on the Megaupload post that I opened one of my old websites the other day, one I first created some time in 1997 or 98, I'm not sure, haven't updated since 2001, and which I hadn't even looked at for years.

It was a site about Mars, the Red Planet, the Mimic Planet as I came to call it, "Barsoom" as known by its inhabitants in Edgar Rice Burroughs's novels, which was being heavily featured in space science communities at the time because of the unprecedented images of the surface being returned from the Mars Orbital Camera.

These were stunning pictures that show things that in many cases are still unexplained. Which doesn't mean they are necessarily the work of Aliens, but only that the surface of Mars is telling us things we have yet to understand, and part of our failure to understand is due to the paradigms we use when observing. If we aren't thinking openly, we can't see clearly.

In the case of Mars, the problems of observation are long-standing, going back at least to Schiaparelli, but compounded by Lowell, and made even worse over time by the planetary science community which has its own set of biases and peculiarities, and is subject to a kind of authoritarian belief system that disallows innovative perspectives.

Telescopic observation of Mars is still quite interesting -- I find it fascinating myself, even with the relatively primitive telescopes I've used. But the orbital cameras and the landers of the space program have provided a startlingly different view of the surface than can be had from any telescope on Earth, and an honest assessment of that view shows that Lowell may have interpreted in error (as do we all about many things) but his vision -- if you will -- strikingly parallels what's actually there on the surface, but at a completely different scale than he saw it.

I've been to the Lowell Observatory and seen some of his primary materials and have come to understand somewhat better how he could believe what he did about what he was seeing through the telescope. Yes, he saw a surface that showed distinct linear patterns, dotted with circular spots here and there, and he saw darkenings and lightenings and other things that he interpreted erroneously. Yet closer to the surface, much closer, the orbital cameras showed that many of the things he thought he saw at a telescopic distance (but which are not visible -- at least to most people -- at that scale) are actually there -- or things that look like what he saw are there, though at a much smaller scale. So is much else besides, things that he never dreamed of.

Interpretations of the surface of Mars have been complicated since Lowell's time by the debate over the presence or absence of liquid water. Lowell claimed that he saw linear features on the surface that he interpreted as canals and that most likely water flowed in those canals to enable irrigation of parts of the surface. Other astronomers vehemently disagreed. They asserted there was no water so there was no point in canals, and the whole thing was just stupid, nyah, nyah. Unfortunately, this is the way some scientists are, and because Lowell was an outsider, a Boston Brahmin, and a writer, not a scientist at all, he was treated with a certain level of contempt by a portion of the planetary science community of his day, and his work was constantly being denounced -- as well as popularly accepted, in part because he was a good writer.

It had been obvious since the days of the Mariner 9 in 1971 that the surface of Mars had been heavily shaped by flowing water; dry riverbeds seemed to be everywhere. Yet there was no visible water at the surface now, and many of the features that were assumed to have been carved by water didn't quite "look right." There was something going on that didn't quite scan, but nobody quite knew what it was.

It was long assumed that the polar caps were mostly carbon dioxide -- and very thin at that -- but that was found not to be true. The caps were found to be quite thick and finely layered, and they were mostly water ice, with an annual carbon dioxide deposit that came and went with temperature. The permanent caps are nearly entirely water ice. The behavior of the CO2 caps was and is remarkable. The surface near the poles, especially in the south, can become very active with geysers blowing dark sand and CO2 gas into the atmosphere in startling displays, one of which I believed -- and believe -- was captured in action by the orbital camera but was misinterpreted at the time and still is, though the activity I say it depicts is now widely accepted within the planetary science community as real and frequent. They will not accept that the image actually shows the geysering taking place, however, due to the technical details of the capture of the image.

This is the image that I cropped from a larger one and colorized and showed as possible evidence of geysering near the south pole. This was well before it was widely accepted that such geysering does indeed take place.

From this crop, it looks pretty obvious (at least to me) what is going on, but many of those who have seen the image strenuously deny it shows what it seems to show, claiming that the apparent appearance of geysers in action is merely an optical illusion (they are so common on Mars; remember the canals!). In fact, say the skeptics, according to the image data, the picture was taken from almost directly overhead, not at a glancing angle close to 30° which would have been necessary for the appearance of actual geysers geysering. Thus, what we actually see here is the surface appearance seen from directly overhead, after two separate incidents of outgassing (or some other process) which occurred at different times under different wind regimes. There are many other images which show similar patterns of dark deposits at almost right angles to one another.

Of course, I being stubborn continue to insist that I am right and the skeptics are wrong; for the emission angle of the image doesn't necessarily reflect how the image is processed, since many images taken at relatively low angles were processed to look as if they had been taken from directly overhead. The data that appears on the image record doesn't necessarily reflect what happened from the time the image was captured until it was released. Etc. Etc.

This is a futile argument, however, and these days, since the geysering phenomenon is now widely accepted -- but not widely known of outside the planetary science community -- what this picture actually shows is essentially moot. Yes, it is an image that looks to show what is widely accepted as taking place on the surface, though skeptics say it doesn't actually show it. Got that?

Many other issues like that were being batted around back in the day: was there evidence of glaciers on the surface today? Was water being released at the surface? Could water even exist at the surface? And so on.

There were so many opposing camps, and the arguments were more on a political plane than a scientific or even straightforward observational one.

The political positions about Mars came to dominate all other considerations, and this seemed to me to go back to the Lowellian era of telescopic observation and popular culture. There was a time, for example, when Gil Levin (project scientist on the Viking Mission who asserts that evidence of life on Mars was found by the Vikings) questioned the color manipulation being done by the image processors at JPL, manipulations that eventually produced some of the oddest sky and surface colors imaginable for Mars, and almost always obscured the actual sky and surface colors. Levin began to speak out about it from early on in the Viking mission and he became more strident as time went on because he felt that the manipulation was a deliberate (if pious) fraud intentionally done to disguise actual findings -- such as what he believed was evidence of biology on the surface of Mars.

The official defenses of the color manipulations -- some of which were patently absurd -- revealed the political basis of many of the pronouncements about Mars; science -- or even simple and accurate observations -- had to take a back seat to Mars science politics. And that has always been about who is doing the asserting and interpreting and what their position is in the pecking order.

To this day, Gil Levin's arguments in favor of a biological interpretation of the Viking findings are largely suppressed and unknown outside a circle of enthusiasts. He broke with the consensus of his peers, and doing that is perhaps the surest way to perdition known to mankind, especially in the sciences.

All that aside, it eventually dawned on me that probably everyone was wrong about Mars, and that what we were seeing and sensing remotely with our spacecraft was probably not at all what we thought it was. Interpretations relied on "water" -- and I came to realize that that was probably the key error.

Water there is in abundance on Mars in the form of ice and vapor, but the fluid that has flowed and ponded at the surface of Mars has probably never been "water" as we would understand it, that is pure or somewhat salty. No, it's more likely that much of the evidence of flowing water on the surface of Mars is actually evidence of flowing aqueous solutions of sulfuric acid, and that changes everything.

First of all, sulfuric acid can remain liquid under Martian conditions far longer than pure or salty water can. The mythology has long been that "liquid water can't exist" on the surface of Mars, which is something of a falsehood, because liquid water can and does exist on the surface to this day and landers have from time to time produced images of it, most startlingly the drops of water that clung to the legs of the Phoenix Polar Lander after it landed on a patch of ice.

Of course, there are those who dispute any such thing ever happened, pshaw. So it goes.

My own view now is that though there can be liquid water at the surface of Mars, and it can persist for some time in a liquid state without freezing or evaporating/subliming "instantly" as the Mars Myths insist must occur, it doesn't matter that much because liquid water is and has always been rather rare at the surface of Mars. An aqueous solution of sulfuric acid has been far more common and is probably the volatile that has carved most of the evidence of "flowing water" on the surface.

Almost all of this flow, of course, has come from the interior. It is probably still in a liquid state fairly near the surface, primarily in and near the vast Northern Lowlands. These lowlands may have once been an open ocean but not of liquid water. As a sulfuric acid ocean, it would appear similar to an ocean of water, but it would behave very differently.

For one thing, it would neither freeze nor sublime under typical Martian conditions. It would instead remain liquid, though it might become more viscous at low temperatures and pressures, neither a slush nor a gel, but somewhat similar to them, thick and slow-moving. A cold sulfuric acid lake or ocean would be very placid compared to an ocean or lake of water.

There are many craters that show evidence of repeated flooding from below. There are remnant deposits in some of these craters (they are often referred to as "White Rock" deposits) that show hundreds of layers, all of which are approximately the same thickness (a few meters or less). These formations were long mysterious and enigmatic.

Then the Opportunity craft landed in a crater in Meridiani Planum that showed "white rock" around its rim.

Studies were undertaken.

The "White Rock" -- in Meridiani at least -- turned out not to be "rock" at all. It was a sulfate deposit. A layered sulfate deposit. Within which and all around which there were little blue balls of an iron precipitate called hematite. Oh. My. Goodness. What the hell?

This spectacular finding was cited by a very excited project scientist Steve Squyres as proof positive that the landing site and all around it had been "soaked in liquid water." Meridiani had to have been formed in a liquid which Squyres initially insisted was water; there was no other way.

Well, except... Actually formation of what we see would imply that the liquid was actually a fairly saturated solution of sulfuric acid, not water as we would commonly understand it at all. In order to get those kinds of precipitates, especially in those quantities, the solution would have to have been close to super-saturated, but even a mild saturation would imply that the "water" was no longer water at all, but was instead the equivalent of battery acid, and adding even distilled water would still leave you with an aqueous solution of sulfuric acid.

That understanding changes everything. If much or most of the "water" that has ever been at the surface of Mars was actually a strong sulfuric acid solution, what does that say about the possibility of biology on Mars? Is it even conceivable? I'm not saying it isn't, by the way. What I'm suggesting is that the question needs be explored more fully. If sulfuric acid is and has been the predominant volatile liquid on the Martian surface then the implications for biology and evolution are quite different than if the volatile has been water.

Ultimately, Squyres himself came around to the view that "water" as such was unlikely as the volatile agent at the surface of Mars, that it was probably sulfuric acid at considerable concentration. But I've seen very little followup to the implications and consequences of a sulfuric acid as opposed to a water regime on Mars.

I stepped back from the Mars questions when it seemed that the discoveries being made were confounding expectations too much for a clear understanding to materialize. Mars is a planet of deception and illusion and what we may think we see there is... really something else.

A new lander called "Curiosity" is expected to land in Gale Crater in August. Given the nature of the site, I don't doubt there will be surprises.

The Face on Mars is still there after all, still staring into space, still wondering...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Momentary Change of Pace: Constructivists

I've been meaning to post this, and actually write quite a bit more about the topic, but I haven't had the motivation.

Still, the Constructivist Movement was very influential in my own development as somewhat of an artist for the stage and privately. Yet I have no memory of ever being exposed to it at all. It's the strangest thing. There's a thread of Soviet Constructivism that runs through practically everything I've painted or designed or built, and yet... I have no idea how it came to me. It must have been in high school, or even before, probably was well before high school.

And yet...


Nice video, tho:

Chris Hedges Explains It All for Lawrence Lessig

Occupy the Courts -- and other things.

The hostess takes her own sweet time getting in gear for this episode of OccupyTVNY, but once the guests pick up the scattered threads, the whole turns out pretty well...

Lessig is a very nice man, but he can't seem to understand the fact that there is a Revolution going on, something that Hedges has known since seemingly forever.

Not only is a Revolution going on, it is a necessary thing.

Lessig is advocating an Article V Constitutional Convention, something that was bruited about in some of the chat rooms of the Bushevik Era but which has largely been superseded, in part because it was recognized that state legislatures are equally as captured as the national legislature, thus check-mating the idea some time ago. Nice that Lessig is picking up on the idea. I guess.

Meanwhile, Hedges is saying -- as he's been saying for years -- that civil disobedience is the only path (barring armed rebellion) remaining to the people in the face of our obdurate failed public and private institutions. He sees Occupy as perhaps the last great hope for the People -- or perhaps whatever emerges from the chrysalis of Occupy in Metamorphosis.

Or maybe it's too late.

But even if it is, you still have to stand on some kind of moral principle as you're cut down by the Tsar's Cossacks.

It's interesting that they both seem to recognize that we are very close to a February Revolution moment.

Though I don't think we'll really get there till June!

Normalizing Obscenity

I've been intrigued with the coverage of Romney's tax return releases, sparse as that coverage has been, even in the so-called "left" media and new media.

Nearly all the coverage in the major mass media has been an effort to normalize Mr. Romney's situation, using terms like "unsurprising," "typical for wealthy people like the Romneys," "sophisticated but perfectly legal," and so on.

Note is made of Romney's remarkably low tax rate -- which of course is said to be a consequence of policies set by Congress, so there's nothing wrong with it. Of course not.

The idea that someone can make more than $20 million a year for literally -- quite literally -- doing nothing to earn it is not even mentioned as a bit "unusual," as if anyone could be doing this if only they... worked hard enough, or deserved it, or something of the sort, as if it were perfectly normal and should be celebrated as "an American success story."

The fact that the Romneys literally do nothing at all to "earn" most of this money, they are merely passive investors in mostly blind trusts, is not even considered worth remarking on.

How Mitt initially got the money to embark on this do-nothing wealth machine -- from the disruption and destruction of other people's lives and futures ("that's capitalism, my friend!") -- is only mentioned by rivals. The fact that Bain Capital is and has always been a predatory outfit, looting and destroying the work of others for its own profits is not a topic for discussion amid polite company at all.

It's all perfectly normal, what anyone of his wealth and financial sophistication (not to mention political ambition) would be expected to do.

And he tithes to his church, so he's obviously moral.


("And did you hear? Those nasty Democrats and that arrogant Negro in the White House are engaging in Class War again.")

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On War's Utility

It's long been an article of faith among America's Rightists and Reactionaries that FDR's New Deal policies didn't get us out of the Great Depression, it was World War II that did it. The corollary is that War is necessary to maintain Americans in the prosperity to which we were once accustomed.

While the Rightist/Reactionary catechism on these matters has an element of truth, it is far too simplistic to serve as a policy formulation; nevertheless it does.

War -- or its semblance and especially the preparation for it -- is seen by our policy-makers as a necessity for prosperity. This was a profound lesson learned from the experience of the Great Depression, World War II, and its subsequent continuation by other means throughout the Cold War.

The New Deal was not for nothing, despite the R/R mythology about it; whether it prolonged the Depression or not is utterly beside the point. But the New Deal did not end the Depression. It could not do so; it was too small, too narrowly focused, and too beset by opposition from the get-go.

What the New Deal did was ameliorate the dire economic conditions of enough people for long enough to prevent a coup or a revolution. It was initially a stop-gap that stabilized the political situation enough to "save capitalism" and it provided the outline of an economic stabilization program through Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and public works.

Make no mistake. These were very modest efforts, and they did not "end the Depression." They made it bearable for a sufficient number of people to keep the lid on discontent, and they provided "hope" for the rest that otherwise would have been absent.

The preparations for World War II and then the War itself are what transformed the situation, transcended political animosities, and got us out of the Depression in very spectacular fashion.

It's a lesson our policy-makers have neither learned nor forgotten. Permanent War became the centerpiece of American prosperity and policy following WWII, but it appears that the lesson of what happened and why it worked -- and why the New Deal didn't -- during and after WWII has never quite been understood by those same policy-makers who can't quite figure out why the various wars and dominance principles and practices of recent times not only didn't prevent economic catastrophe, they've arguably made it worse.

How could that have happened? And why hasn't any economic or war policy adopted in recent times made things better for more than a tiny handful of the super-rich?

If you go back to the New Deal, you should be able to see why the current policies are such stunning failures: The New Deal provided extremely modest levels of government funded temporary relief for some out of work individuals and households, instituted temporary programs of public works that employed some of those who were out of work and paid them very modest wages for their efforts, and it instituted long term programs like Social Security and Unemployment Insurance that were paid for through taxes on workers and their employers.

Wages and prices were stabilized -- to keep them from falling even further -- and unions were, for the first time, empowered and protected by government to bargain on behalf of workers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions; this was paid for in a sense by continuing high unemployment, however, which had the effect at the time of cancelling out any overall benefit to workers.

Banks were barred from engaging in the kinds of speculation, gambling, and chicanery that had been the precipitating cause of the financial collapse. Depositors' funds were guaranteed up to a certain relatively modest ceiling by the government.

These policies and programs stabilized the country economically and politically, and by instituting New Deal stabilization programs, FDR "saved capitalism" from itself. These programs and policies didn't necessarily prolong the Depression, but they did not reverse it, either. They were far too modest to do that. Even at the time, it was widely recognized that though the New Deal helped overcome the worst of the Depression, it was far too modest, underfunded, and in some cases, wrong-headed.

Something much more massive was necessary.

In Europe, the Fascists and the Nazis led the way with "something much more massive." In Asia, Japan was leading the way. Initially, that was not their later wars of aggression.

And then there was the Soviet Union, which stood apart from all the nonsense economic "solutions" in the West and East and went its own way.

The key which the Soviets, Fascists, Nazis, and Japanese Imperialists discovered was that full employment and economic security were the fundamental necessities for economic revival. Together with full employment, economic progress required enforced savings, by suppressing consumerism to an essentially subsistence level or by other means including confiscation of financial surpluses. These savings were then invested in research and development and expansion of manufacturing capability, infrastructure, and other general necessities.

Unfortunately, that included preparations for -- and then precipitation of -- wars of aggression, starting with the Japanese in Manchuria and China. The Japanese expansion into China was simple enough to understand: they wanted access to and control of markets, resources, and eventually slaves to maintain their expansionist economy.

It worked very well initially; why not continue, then, indefinitely?

In Europe, expansionist economic policies were combined with ethnic determinist policies to enable Germany to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia, Italy to expand its interests and colonies in Africa, and so on.

The Soviet Union was isolated, but was doing astonishing things with very little financial wherewithal to create an entirely new social/political and economic system out of what was at hand.

The United States and most of the rest of the English-speaking world was way behind in comparison, limping along at best. All that changed, though, when the United States began serious preparations for war in 1938; unemployment began dropping, and by 1941, it was for the first time since 1930 under 10%. Of course, beginning in 1942, practically everyone who could work was employed either in the war effort or in civilian support capacities.

While many more people were collecting (still relatively modest) paychecks during the War, there was very little beyond bare necessities to buy, so workers bought War Bonds and Stamps, effectively saving a relatively large portion of their earnings. These savings were then invested in research and development, war materiel, and so on. Nukes! Yay! Jet planes! Yay! Television! Yay! Radar! Yay! On and on.

At the end of the War, many people had a surprising amount of money in savings, and there was so much pent up demand -- for many Americans, fifteen years of denial -- that the economy went on a growth binge that just went on and on and on. It wasn't at all like prior boom and bust economies; the post war American economy was very stable, growing incrementally, predictably, and this growth was paralleled by unprecedented social progress.

While the accumulated savings of Americans was the chief impetus to the economic growth after WWII, the United States remained on a war footing after V-J Day, having transferred the designation of "enemy" from the Axis powers to the Communists. "Minor Wars" -- in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and so on -- were constant. The draft continued. The military-industrial complex prospered -- and it was considered at the time both a danger and a benefit that it did so. The danger was that it could consume us all, but the benefit was that its secure prosperity was a stabilizing influence on the whole economy.

Post WWII, the policy was to maintain as close to full employment as possible because it was understood to be the most stabilizing social and political force, and full employment was key to economic growth. "Small wars" were engaged in continuously in order to counter the "Soviet threat" -- and to keep the forces limber and employed.

War's utility was largely a matter of domestic political stabilization and economic growth -- and international competition with Our Rivals in Russia.

The mobilization against the Vietnam War really did shock the older generation; they could not understand why my generation was so opposed to it, when to the older generation, the War ethic and economy are what saved them. It was not only how the nation had survived, WWII was for most Americans who lived through it, the most profoundly and deeply emotionally fulfilling thing they'd ever known.

Korea and the "small wars" of the 1950's were a continuation of that fulfillment, and when they got bigger in Indochina in the 1960's War was still seen as a blessing.

Opposition was deeply disturbing to that mindset.

With the end of the Vietnam War, the American War Economy shuddered and eventually collapsed.

The efforts to revive it after 9/11 have failed in part because the War Economy now only involves a very small segment of the population; there isn't even a hint at attempting to achieve full employment -- in fact, the ongoing economic policy is to maintain high unemployment levels indefinitely -- and for all intents and purposes, tens of millions of Americans have simply been made irrelevant and redundant. The War Economy now is meant only for the profit of the few, the government's owners and sponsors.

War still has a utility but not for the masses, who are more and more being left to fend for themselves, as even the inadequate New Deal programs and policies are successively dismantled.

You would think Our Betters would know better. But they don't.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Good lord. Not that the plea deal is a surprise, mind you. The surprise, if there is one, is that it took so long. What's not a surprise is that there is no justice.

We are not supposed to blame soldiers for this kind of shit -- and I have no doubt that this kind of shit was far more common than any American back home is ever likely to know -- because they are just doing their jobs, yadda yadda. That's the problem, though. Their "jobs" include protocols for massacres like Haditha, as well as much else that is practically unmentionable in polite society, not because it is WAR so much as it is utterly conscienceless and morally bankrupt barbarity and depravity that has been drilled into these soldiers to the point where they act as if in a trance, killing and destroying anything and everything that gets in their way or sets them off, triggering a Pavlovian response that they often seem to have no control over at all.

This shit was going on in Iraq so often...

Any resistance was met with extreme violence and brutality, any resistance at all... armed resistance and IEDs were met with slaughter essentially at random. Which led to more resistance, more slaughter, more and more...

And slaughter was met with celebration. The more the slaughter of the innocents the more the celebration.

So here we are, many years down the road, and literally no one at all is held responsible for the many killings of Iraqi civilians. They weren't even counted among the dead for quite a long time; the dead Iraqi civilians didn't even exist as statistics in official reports or the eyes of the troops who so callously killed them.

They were less than non-people.

Let's be clear: the entire Iraq War was a criminal enterprise, all of it, from the get go, from the moment the propaganda drums commenced to beat; and it was based on another criminal enterprise, the First Gulf War, which was based on its own crimes and on the crimes and the lies that preceded it.

Throughout all these crimes and lies dating back decades, hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered, probably millions slaughtered overall, of which two dozen were slaughtered in Haditha, Iraq, in November of 2005.

And, as was so often the case, the truth of what happened as told by the Iraqis was met with a blizzard of lies and propaganda from the military.

But eventually, as happened now and then, the lies fell before the truth, crimes were suspected and charged, and courts-martial were convened, only to lead to dismissals and plea bargains that basically exonerated the troops and their officers and their commanders all the way up the chain to the White House itself.

No one was to blame, too bad so sad, war is hell, oh well!

Got rid of that nasty Saddam for ya, though, didn't we? You're welcome.


Battle for Haditha, 2007

These are some testimonies from Haditha and elsewhere in Iraq both before and after the Massacre on November 15, 2005:

Iraqi Doctors Beaten and Arrested in Haditha Hospital

Sabah Ali (30/10/2005)

Dr. Walid Al-Obeidi, the director of Haditha General Hospital and Dr. Jamil Abdul Jabbar, the only surgeon in the Haditha area were arrested for a week, very badly beaten and threatened to face the same treatment in the future by the American troops.

Dr. Walid said “they arrested me in my house in front of my family, covered my eyes, and tied my hands to the back on Oct 5 2005 morning, during the last attack on Haditha (360 kilometers west of Baghdad). They occupied the hospital for 8 days and made it their office. The first day they beat me on my eyes, nose, back, hands, legs... My face was covered with blood .When they removed the tie I could not see. They investigated me until the afternoon. I realized later that I was arrested in the hospital store. Then they tied my hands to the front, and left me for two days. I was moved then to the pharmacy department. They accused me of treating terrorists, and asked for their names.

I told them that I treat patients regardless of their identity, according to my oath as a doctor; even if they were national guards (which we actually I did) or American soldiers. And any way, if I do not want to treat the insurgents, I have no choice, because they were armed and masked. I would do anything they tell to do. Few days later, one of the soldiers came in the room, did not say anything, kicked me again on my face and left”.

Dr. Jamil, a surgeon for 20 years, was arrested and very badly beaten. When we met him, 22 days later, his face was still blue. His nose was broken, and a big opening in his head: “They beat me on my eyes and nose, kicked me with boots under my chin. One of them threatened me if I do not talk after he counts to three, he would shoot me. He began counting, after three he turned the gun upside down and hit me on the back of my head. For days I could not move or see. They threatened us of abusing our families. For some reason they took my picture while I was bleeding, I could hear the camera click”.

Both doctors were threatened if they do not talk, they would receive the same treatment in the future. They were warned of passing any information of the arrest to the media. They were asked who wrote the hostile slogans against the American on the opposite wall of the hospital? What are the names of the insurgents they treated? and what are the bodies’ pictures in the hospital computer?

Dr.Walid said he does not know who wrote on the wall outside the hospital, what the names of the insurgents are, because they were masked. He explained that the dead bodies’ pictures were of unknown people whose bodies were found after the fighting. “We can not keep these bodies forever; we do not have enough cold boxes. So, after two months, we take their pictures and bury them, so that whenever some one from their families comes to ask we show the pictures of the dead bodies”.
The UN, the international HR organizations, WHO, Doctors sans frontiers…and all who it may concern are called upon to do some thing to help these, and other Iraqi doctors, and to prevent similar treatment in the future. Dr.Walid and Dr. Jamil believe that they may face the arrest and beating in the future. They demand that the American troops stop occupying the hospital and destroying it every time the attack Haditha. They also believe that the Iraqi authorities are incapable of protecting them.
Alqaim October Massacre: Indiscriminate Killing Zone

Dedicated to the UN, UNSC, and the International Society….

Sabah Ali (05/11/2005)

We had to postpone our trip to Al-Qaim and Haditha several times for 2 weeks. Many times the road was closed because of some military operations. We decided to go to the refugee camps first, be ready to move from there as soon as the road is clear. There were 8100 refugee families now (last time, before Oct 1, they were 7450) distributed on the nearest towns, villages and in the desert. Some of the camps were cut from any kind of relief, especially those which were across the Euphrates, because the American troops bombed all the bridges in Alqaim (3) and Haditha (2). The need now is for thick clothes, especially for children, blankets, and medicines for daily use, apart from food. The new families were those who escaped the latest attack on Alqaim (Oct1) and Haditha (Oct 5) The River’s Gate, as it was called. One of the biggest emergency relief organizations in Iraq now admitted that they can not reach the behind-the-river villages.

Arriving in Alqaim general hospital on Oct 25 afternoon, after being lost on a desert detour for more than 2 hours, and coming from the nearest refugee camp where we listened to different stories of the last attack on Oct 1,2005, we were well prepared to listen to the crowed at the emergency room. A big black banner says that the ambulance driver, Mahmood Chiad, was shot on Oct 1,2005 by the American troops while he was trying to help some injured families.

A young man, H.Khalaf, was lying on a trolley, soaked in blood. He was shot in his genitals by an American sniper while he was going home from the market just across the street. The shot injured his right thigh, his testes, and went out through his left thigh.

“There was nothing, no shooting, no bombing, nothing” a neighbor who brought Khalaf to the hospital said. “We heard the shot, and he was lying there bleeding. We could not reach him. He crawled to the side street for few minutes”. The doctor does not know yet how bad the injury is. The bleeding was still running.

In the ward another young man, Salah Hamid, was shot under the belt too. He was driving his taxi at 10 am on Monday Oct17, 2005 in the market place when he was shot by the American snipers. Salah was so angry that he cried and used obscene words (unacceptable in those areas). His car was completely ruined. The doctor explained that a large part of his intestine had to be cut.

In the doctors’ hall, the windows, the curtains, the walls were covered with bullet shots.

The hospital’s assistant director described how bad and difficult the situation is, the continuous bombing of houses and cars, the snipers who shoot indiscriminately any moving thing (two days ago they killed 6 donkeys), the besieged city, the closed highway “I do not understand why they cut the high way and let families go through the desert, they are searching everything and everybody! Now, on top of everything else, the oxegen tubes are not allowed in the hospital”.

(Municipal hotel destroyed)

The administrative assistant explained the situation in the bombed areas across the river (Euphrates) after the bridges were bombed in the attack “There are many villages: Rumana, Al-Beidha, Al-Ish, Dgheima, Baghooz, Al-rabot….etc where families sought shelter from the bombing. These villages are cut of any kind of help now, and are exposed to regular bombing. There is no doctor or clinic in an area of 110 kilometers along the river. The injured families have to be brought by boats, bleed to death, or die under the rubbles. It is impossible to count the dead, their families bury them on the spot, without any document, and of course no media coverage. Civilians, relatives and neighbors help evacuating those buried under the rubbles. Snipers are still hurting us most. On the Referendum day Oct 15, no one would dare to go out; I would not, even if I was given the post of a president”.

The ambulance driver, Mahmood Chiad, 35, was going to Karabla, to help some injured family during the attack. He was shot and killed by a bullet in the left chest. The ambulance was then hit by a grenade which ripped it in two parts, and burnt it. It was still there, but we could not film in the no man’s land, as they call it. Mahmood left a widow and six children; the oldest of them, Aimen (m), is 10 years old. “The family was not given any compensation or pension” said his colleague Muneer Said “he was very poor, living in a tin extension of a house, his family should be taken care of”.

Early next morning, around 7 am, there was noise and crowd in the hospital. Two cars covered with dust, and few men were standing at the emergency gate. One old man, over 60, was sobbing and talking to the sky, repeating hysterically “please come and see what happened to me”, other men were crying silently.

In the emergency ward, a girl of ten was lying on one trolley, and a young woman on another. They were still conscious. The girl, Yosr Jasim Mohammad Al-Ta’i, 10, (going to 5th grade, as she said proudly), was injured in her feet, back, and right ear, which were covered with blood. She did not know that she is the only survivor of a family of 8. Her father, her mother Ibtisam Thiyab Othman, and five of her brothers and sister were buried dead under the rubbles when the American airplanes bombed Al-Ish village at 2 am that day, Oct 26.2005.

The woman, Sa’diya, 35, was injured in her thigh. She was rapped in a burnt out quilt. Sa’diya was in her uncles’ house. Her house was blown up by the American troops the day before “they took the women and children out, and blow the house, I do not know if they arrested the men or they blow them inside the house. We came to my uncles’ house yesterday, today at 2 am we were bombed again”. Sa’diya was terribly shocked. “I do not know how many people were killed. We were more than 30 in the house. My three uncles, their wives and children, my aunt, and five guests in the diwan (guest room), were killed. I do not know if there are any survivors, I was buried under the wall. I saw my uncle Idan, and two of the children Farooq (m)8, and Ahmad (m) 7, they were dead”. (Sa’diy did not know that Yosr, one of the guests and herself are the only survivors of the many families in that house).

Khalifa Mokhlos the only survivor among the 4 men in the guest room said that the other 4 men were killed when two missiles hit the house. “Jasim M. Mokhlos (30), Idan Abdulla Mosa (52), Awad M.Mosa (45), and Moslem K.Hussein (30) were all killed”.

K., the chief of community council in Al-Risala district, himself handicapped in the Iraqi-Iranian war, was telling us many stories of demolished houses and killed families. We asked to visit some of them. He was hesitant, but then suggested that we only visit those in the relatively safe districts. Alqaim now looks so different from Alqaim we saw 18 months ago in the first major American attack in April 2004. Then it was a city full of life, shops, offices, people, police…there was movement in the street. Now it is a dead city. Fear and suspicion are the kings of the streets.

The first family was of Saggar Hamdan, a Land Cruiser driver who was taking his- and his brother in law’s- families to the Okashat refugee camp 200 kilometers away in the desert at 4 pm on the attack first day. His father explained that” there were 19 women and children in the car when it was shot and burnt by the American troops. Saggar , his wife Khadija, and his 6 children (Ala’(m)10, Adil (m), Omar(m), Sheima’(f), Lamia(f)’, and a baby) and his niece were killed. No one was allowed to approach the car until it was no more than ashes”. It was only after 5 days that a cousin, Hashim Hamid, was allowed to get the bodies.

“I had to jeopardize my life, hold a white flag and stand in the American convoy way” Hashim said. “I told them that I wanted the bodies of my cousin and his family. The American Commander said “ I am sorry, it was a mistake, we did not know that it was a family”, and he gave me a plastic sac full of the charred bodies.


The second family was of Mohammad Jabir, a boy of nine years who was shot by an American sniper at his house door in the “Death Street” on Thursday Oct 20, 2005.

“He was going to his uncles’ house, across the street in the railway houses” his father said, trying hard to hold his tears “They were 4 of my children, went out to visit their uncle’s family, they were shot at immediately. They returned back, Mohammad was putting his hand on his chest, said I am injured, and then fell to the ground. He was bleeding. We tried to save him, but no ambulance or car was allowed to pass through. His uncle did not mind the shooting; he drove his car and took us to the hospital. By then Mohammad was dead”.

The mother was heavily covered with black: “when we tried to take him to the hospital, the soldiers shot at us. I was shouting, but no one dared to approach. We sat on the ground waiting for the shooting to stop, until his uncle came with the car”

Mohammad is the 13th child killed by a sniper in the railway houses “they call it the Death Street, one of the children who were killed was only 1.5 years, another was 3. I can take you to visit their families all. On October 23, 2005, at 2 pm, the American airplane was going and coming back many times on the street shooting all the time”. Jabir left his house and is now living in the family’s big house with other 5 families in another area.


The third family was of Attiya Mikhlif. The house was no more than a heap of rubbles. It was bombed at 6 am on August 30, 2005. There was no one of the family left to tell the story. Neighbors were hesitant to talk. “The old man died years ago” one of the neighbors volunteered to talk at last. “There was his old wife, Dalla Hardan 55, his three sons, Daham 35, Rashid 25, and Salman 18, and two daughters in law: Rafaah 19 and Kholood 19. Rashid, his bride Rafaah, Salman and his bride Kholood were all newly married”. All of them were killed that morning.

-“why do you think the house was bombed?”

- “Who knows, the Americans say that there were insurgents in the house, but they were families as you see. And anyway, you do not air bomb houses to kill insurgents who are supposed to be in!!”


The fourth family was of Kawan Abu Mohammad. On September 8, 2005, the house in an agricultural area called the Senjaq was bombed killing 11 civilians, most of them children. The old man, Kawan 70, his son Mohammad 50, a teacher of physics, his daughter in law Hamdiya 40 (Mohammad’s wife), and their 4 children: Dhoha 16(f), Ro’a 10(f), Obeida 12(m), and Hotheifa 4 (m)were all killed under the rubles. Khalid, 18, Kawan’s grandson whose uncle Mohammad was helping him in physics, Amjad(m) 22, Zeinab 17(f), and Saja 8 (f)were all Kawan’s grandchildren, who were visiting their grandfather were all killed in that bombing too. Two members of the family survived: Mahmood Kawan 25(m) was paralyzed and Nahida 16, Amjad’s sister was mildly injured.

K., of the community council, took us then to Al-Risala district where 8 houses were bombed together on Saturday 22, 2005 around 3 am, and the Big Mosque on 23rd . Fortunately, they were empty. “The Americans believe that the insurgents hide in these empty houses” K. explained. Many families returned from the refugee camps to find their houses destroyed.

In one of the houses in Al-Salaam district, Alwan Abdul Kareem refused to stay with his family in the refugee camp in Anah. He found it unbearable to live as a refugee, so he returned home alone 4 days later. The house was bombed on the same day (Oct 22), he was killed under the heavy stairs where he was hiding, eating his sohoor (the last meal before fasting). Alwan was 58, a gardener and a school guard. We met his family in Anah refugee camp. He left a wife Shokriya, 40, and eight children.

In Anah refugee camp 5 families (around 10 each) lived in one house. They did not receive the monthly food ration for 3 months. K., very anxious to show us how bad the damage was, could not keep his promise of staying away from the dangerous areas. Near the railway station, a completely damaged hotel was used by the municipality to host the very poor families for a symbolic price. So is the railway itself.

Shawkat A. Abbood, who just arrived from Alqaim, told us about the attack on Si'da, a village 10 kilometers to the east, said that on October 1, the market place was closed at 10 am, the city was besieged from two remaining places: Si’da and Karabla, 10 kilometers away. The electricity and phones were cut, all offices were closed, and cars were prevented from moving … “When the bombing began, we remained at home. Translators in military vehicles told the people through megaphones to stay at home, that their lives would be in danger if they move out. We could hear the bombing, but we did not know where exactly. The bombing continued for 4 days. Airplanes were roaming 24 hours; the intensive bombing was at night. In the Rumana village they bombed 4 houses. There were 12 injured the first day. We do not know exactly about the dead, may be 30-40”

-“It was a declared attack, why the families did not leave?”

- “some families do not have any alternative, or too poor to move, some put tents in the farms of the Senjaq area. And any way what was declared was that the American troops are going to enter Alqaim with the Iraqi troops, they called the civilians to cooperate with the troops to arrest the insurgents”. Shawkat’s mother, 55, was crying, listening to her son. She is diabetic, and too frightened “when I hear the bombing, I shiver, feel the pain in my back; I feel the ceiling coming down and crushing me”.

In Alqaim we met A.M. an employee in the electricity office. “We tried 3 times to repair the electricity; the Americans were shooting at us every time. The third time they said you have 30 minutes to repair it. It takes two hours, as you know, on the desert road to reach the station. But we managed to do. The other station is near the customs office (which is now a military base) we could not reach that point”. The same story is repeated with the water.

Shareef, a fireman, and an emergency relief volunteer was very angry “where are the nations of the world, the Moslems, the Arabs…millions of them pray everyday, do not they see what is happening to us”.


Both testimonies are from this link (Index Research)via(The BRusselstribunal.org) where there is much, much more. What was done in Iraq and to Iraq's people by the Americans and under American authority was a monstrous evil, a crime against humanity. The Haditha Massacre was part of a vast murder machine that began long before that incident and lasted long afterwards.