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Friday, September 30, 2011


Capture or kill?

Why does the media refer to a "capture or kill order" with respect to Awlaki? A "capture or kill order" means you try to capture someone, and if they fight back, you're allowed to kill them. Clearly, what was in effect with Awlaki was a "kill order," not a "capture or kill order."


A soldier in the "Nobel Peace Prize" army

Evidently, this dead soldier was convinced by Obama's Nobel Peace Prize that you could bring world peace by waging world war:
Described by family and friends as a young man passionate about the military and also finding world peace, American Canyon soldier Garrett A. Fant, 21, died Monday doing what he loved -- serving in the U.S. Army.
Fant was quiet and a "deep thinker" who would often stay after school and have long conversations with his instructors about world events and how to achieve peace, Cisneros said.
"He was one of our hopeful ambassadors to give a message of peace over war."
He certainly had a strange way of sending that "message."

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Where does change come from?

It's easy to get disillusioned with mass protest. Did it stop the invasion of Iraq? Has it ended the war against Afghanistan? Is the current "occupation" of Wall Street really likely to end the power of the bankers and overthrow capitalism?

But a recent interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might shed a little light on the subject for those with a negative view:

"The question is," Williams asked, "what made you think [as an ACLU lawyer arguing a case before the Supreme Court] you could get the court to overrule over a century of precedent (regarding women's rights)?"

"The times," Ginsburg said. "The court is a reactive institution. It's never at the forefront of social change. There's always a movement in society that's pushing the court. By 1970, the women's movement was revived, not just in the United States, but all over the world. It was an issue that people cared about."
So there you have it, from the mouth of a Supreme Court Justice. Here, she's talking about the effect of the people, as expressed through mass movements, on the Supreme Court, but precisely the same thing is true of Congress. It is the people who make change, not the Court and not the Congress.

Stay in the streets!


More U.S. punishment of Cuba

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has put up an urgent online petition here, which they (and I) urge you to sign. I'll let the text of the petition explain what it's all about:
René González is one of the "Cuban Five" prisoners who have now spent 13 years in U.S. prisons, having been falsely labeled as "spies," unjustly convicted in the anti-Cuban environment of Miami, and condemned to long terms in prison, all for the "crime" of fighting terrorism by infiltrating Miami-based terrorist groups to expose their continuing terrorist plots against Cuba. González will be the first of the Five to be released from prison on October 7, and, in a measure that can only be described as vindictive, the U.S. government wants to force him to spend his three years on probation in the United States, where he has no family, rather than allowing him to return to Cuba.

González' wife, Olga Salanueva, has been continually denied visas to enter the U.S. to visit him in prison, and as a result the two have not seen each other since August, 2000 - more than eleven years. The U.S. government now wants to add three more years to this punishment, something which surely qualifies as "cruel and unusual," not to mention a violation of all standards of human rights.

Judge Joan Lenard has issued an order which forces González to live in Florida. Her decision also dictates certain conditions of parole, including prohibiting him “from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, organized crime figures are known to be or frequent..." This is an incredible admission by the court that terrorists run free in Miami! Those terrorists, the very ones whose actions González was in the U.S. to monitor and expose, pose a constant danger to him while he is forced to reside in the United States.

Furthermore, although he was never charged with, much less convicted of, "espionage," the U.S. government calls him a "spy" and a "threat to national security." Yet they want to force this "spy" to remain in the U.S. for three more years! Surely only pure vindictiveness can explain this almost absurd state of affairs.

I add my name to those calling on President Obama to end this injustice immediately, and to allow René González, a man whose anti-terrorist mission was saving lives, a man who has been a model prisoner for more than 13 years, to return immediately to his beloved family and country of Cuba upon his release on October 7.

For more information about the case, please visit http://www.freethefive.org
Adding my own $0.02 to this petition - one may wonder why the U.S. would be so vindictive against this individual (and against Cuba)? What purpose does it serve? As I see it, there are two purposes. One, that was reported (or rumored might be a better word) in the press, is that the U.S. was trying to "trade" González' immediate return to Cuba for the release of Alan Gross (as opposed to swapping all five of the Cuban Five for Gross, something which various commentators have argued for). It's probably not a coincidence that the Judge's order requiring González to remain in the U.S. for three years was issued just days after Bill Richardson returned empty-handed from Cuba, reportedly having tried to arrange such a swap.

There is a larger purpose, however, which explains why the Cuban Five were put in prison in the first place, rather than being sent back to Cuba like most "spies". The U.S. is sending a message to Cuba, and to future potential Cubans who attempt to infiltrate the right-wing terrorist groups in Miami to prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba, that they may pay a terrible price if they are caught doing so. And why would they U.S. want to send such a message? Because terrorism against Cuba is one weapon in their arsenal in overthrowing the Cuban revolution, and one which they do not wish to see weakened by Cuban agents exposing future plots.

Anyway, please sign the petition.


Obama's Cuba hypocrisy

Yesterday at a press conference, President Obama was asked about the U.S. maintaining its blockade ("embargo" in the inaccurate U.S. language) on Cuba. His response (in part):
"What we haven’t seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo."
He claims that the "embargo" is all about human rights, political prisoners, and so on.

But earlier this year, Obama renewed the statement which legally justifies the blockade. It asserts that the U.S. is in a state of "national emergency" (!), and that

The Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba. In addition, the unauthorized entry of any U.S.-registered vessel into Cuban territorial waters continues to be detrimental to the foreign policy of the United States.
Of course this is lie upon lie. How Cuba could "demonstrate" that it will "refrain from the use of excessive force" is of course an impossibility. The phrase "north of Cuba" is curiously ambiguous. Cuba retains the right, as do all nations, to deal with foreign aircraft overflying its territory in however they see fit, based on the perceived threat of such aircraft. And all this has nothing whatsoever with Obama's claimed justification for the continuation of the blockade, which could never be legally justified based on U.S. perceptions of human rights in Cuba (and if it could, the U.S. would be blockading an awful lot of countries in the world, starting with stopping the importation of oil from Saudi Arabia). Not to mention the preposterous notion that the U.S. is in a state of "national emergency" over anything happening in Cuba.

The blockade has one purpose and one purpose only - overthrowing the government of Cuba. Regime change. It has been thus ever since 1959, when the U.S. State Department wrote this:

"The majority of Cubans support Castro...the only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba...a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The Peace Prize President pontificates

At the U.N. (emphasis added):
So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him.
Also today, in the real world:
Admitting heavy losses from the assault on Muammar Gaddafi's hometown, National Transitional Council fighters were forced to retreat from Sirte last night to allow NATO warplanes to blitz unexpectedly heavy resistance from loyalist forces.
"Blitz" is such a nice word. "Slaughter by bombing" sounds so much cruder.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011



Obama keeps condemning the Palestinians for seeking a "unilateral" solution at the U.N. If a majority of nations on the Security Council or in the General Assembly votes for something, how exactly does that qualify as "unilateral"?

Obama also claims that the bombing of Libya was "the very purpose of the United Nations." Really? I guess I was fooled by the U.N. Charter which says the purpose is "To maintain international peace and security."

Monday, September 12, 2011


"No boots on the ground"

There are now four (acknowledged!) American troops in Libya, and the State Department is hastening to assure us that
"When the president made his commitment to 'no boots on ground' ... obviously that had to do with entering into the fray between the Qaddafi forces and the Libyan freedom fighters, and that's not what these guys are engaged in."
Which is no doubt true. That's what the pilots and the drone operators are for.


Why is the U.S. government punishing the Cuban Five?

The Cuban Five - Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, René González, and Ramon Labañino - are today starting their 13th year in U.S. prisons. Leaving aside the case of Gerardo (who was accused of complicity in the shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue planes and the death of the pilots, a charge which the prosecution actually admitted in a motion it could not prove (!) but on which the jury convicted him anyway), the other four were charged merely with typical "foreign agent" charges - false passports, unregistered agent of a foreign government, and conspiracy to commit espionage (not "espionage" as is commonly reported, because not a shred of evidence was presented that any of the Five ever possessed or even attempted to possess a single item of classified information). And as a USA Today columnist pointed out just a few days ago, similar cases (e.g., involving Russian agents) involve a quick deportation, not 13 years (and counting) in prison.

Two of the five have been denied visits from their wives for the entire 12 years. One of them, Gerardo, is serving a double life sentence, so this means that the government intends to prevent him from seeing his wife (and vice-versa) for the rest of their lives. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!

And in the latest example, the one of the Five with the shortest sentence, René González, is due to be released from prison on Oct. 7, having served his time. René, it turns out, has dual U.S. and Cuban citizenship, and the U.S. intends to force him to serve his three years' probation in the U.S., where he has not a single relative (his wife, children, and aging parents are all in Cuba). His attorney filed a motion asking for him to be allowed to serve his probation in Cuba, and the government has actually now opposed that motion.

So what is this all about? It certainly isn't about justice, taking five men whose mission was the prevention of terrorism and putting them in jail for years and years. No, it's about war, specifically, the ongoing U.S. war on Cuba and its attempt to destabilize and overthrow the Cuban government. War has two parts. One is offense, and the U.S. conducts vigorous economic warfare against Cuba, and through its terrorist proxies in Miami, terrorist warfare as well. The other is defense, and that's where the Cuban Five come in, because they were part of Cuba's defenses against U.S.-based (and U.S.-tolerated and U.S.-backed) terrorism. Obviously these five men have been "neutralized" as defenders of Cuba. But they are far from the only Cuban agents, or potential Cuban agents.

The punishment and persecution (no other word suffices) of the Cuban Five is designed for one purpose and one purpose only - to send a message to any Cuban thinking of volunteering for a similar mission that they will pay a severe price if they are caught, and thereby to discourage them from doing so. It's a message that is unlikely to succeed, given the passionate defense of the Cuban revolution by so many of its citizens, but it's one the U.S. insists on sending. And it's sending it through its cruel and unusual (and completely unjust) punishment of five men - the Cuban Five.

Today attorneys for the Five had a press conference organized by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five to discuss their current legal status. You can listen to the conference here.


We refuse to live in fear?

Obama's latest nonsense:
"They wanted to terrorize us, but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear."
Really, Barack? We take off our shoes at airports, get groped by TSA, and put up with countless infringements on our civil liberties, but we "refuse to live in fear"? Really? Isn't "fear" what it's all about as a justification to keep the military machine (and the "national security [sic]" apparatus humming?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Kept our values?

Barack Obama, today, talking about what has happened in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001:
"We preserved our values. We preserved our character."
Locking up people indefinitely without trial or even charges? Claiming the right of the President to assassinate anyone, even American citizens, without the slightest right to due process? These are the "values" and "character" that have been "preserved"?

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