Archive for August, 2004

: Responding to Chomsky on the one-state solution

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

by Noah Cohen
[This article was written in response to Chomsky’s interview with Shalom and Podur of March 2004.  Chomsky has written a rejoinder to Cohen’s article as well.]

It’s particularly interesting in the case of Palestine to see where US intellectuals and progressives decide that it’s necessary to be “realistic” and where “principled;” where they choose to accept more or less the general media consensus about “the boundaries of acceptable discourse” and where they reject it. In the case of Palestine, people who are generally on record as calling for forthrightness and honesty in the demand for justice in political discourse, who criticize a false “pragmatism” oriented toward the corporate media and academic political consultants and who question generalizing statements about popular consensus, suddenly become believers in pragmatism and the limits of what the discourse will allow. An interview with Noam Chomsky published on Znet under the title “Justice for Palestine?” (Znet, March 30, 2004) is an exemplary contribution to this genre of left apologetics. Since it contains so many of the arguments generally advanced to legitimize some form of continued existence for an Israeli system of colonialism and Apartheid—and to shore up rear-guard support for it among US progressives—it is worth examining in full. In general, the argument rests on two pillars:

(1) Israel’s history of colonial occupation and expansion must be separated from all other colonial histories as a special case and special consideration must be given to Zionist colonial settlers as a historically vulnerable group;

2) Since this “historically vulnerable group” also has massive military power, nuclear weapons, and U.S. military and economic support, calling for an end to the colonial regime is unrealistic; it only hurts the colonized, and should be redirected to more useful activities. full article

Cops bust bike protest

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

by Derek Rose and Maki Becker NY Daily News
Manhattan was spin city last night as 5,000 activists on bicycles swarmed city streets and snarled traffic during a protest of the upcoming Republican National Convention.

At least 264 riders were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct for blocking intersections near Madison Square Garden and in the East Village, police said.

The arrests marked the first real confrontation between cops and the thousands of protesters who have descended on New York ahead of the convention, which starts Monday.

“The cops said, ‘Get out of here!’ and I was trying to get out and I was cuffed,” complained one busted bicyclist who identified himself as Keith from Brooklyn.

At first, police seemed willing to allow the protesters to have the run of the road as they zigzagged up and down Manhattan from Union Square.

But as the cyclists blocked the intersection of W. 34th St. and Seventh Ave. at the Garden, police began arresting demonstrators.

Many more were collared later at Second Ave. around E. 10th St., near St. Marks Church, which was hosting an after-party for the bicyclists.

“The cops are coming! Move out!” bicyclists screamed to each other as they made their way down Second Ave., hurling their bikes over the church fence in a desperate bid for sanctuary.

“They just all came to a stop,” said Reggie Lakew, 28, a gift coordinator from Roosevelt Island, who saw the cyclists as they approached E. 10th St. “Everyone picked up their bikes over their heads and started cheering. Some sat down in the street. The cops surrounded them in a line and they were picking them off from the back and arresting them.”

Some witnesses said the arrests in the Village began when someone tossed some spaghetti at a cop.

“This whole thing is about peace,” said one cuffed and disgruntled biker who identified himself as Jesse from Brooklyn. “I don’t have a gripe with the police. I have a gripe with the RNC, although the cops were pretty rough.”

Cops slapped plastic cuffs on the protesters’ wrists while other officers snapped Polaroid photos of the detainees in what appeared to be bid to head off allegations of police brutality.

Two busloads of protesters were taken from the scene to a temporary jail on the West Side Highway while a flatbed truck was piled high with their confiscated bikes.

“They’re trying to set the tone for the next week,” suggested Annette Wilcox, 47, as she watched the protesters being hauled off. “If you sneeze the wrong way, they’re going to arrest you.”

A crowd three blocks deep gathered around the protesters last night, chanting, “Let them go!” as a helicopter hovered overhead.

But police said they had warned the riders for weeks they would be arrested if they blocked traffic.

“They were blocking intersections all along the way, backing up traffic,” said top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. “I personally witnessed several ambulances that couldn’t get through. They had their lights and sirens on.”

The ride, organized by an environmental group called Time’s Up and dubbed “Critical Mass,” is held in the city on the last Friday of every month but never near the scale of last night.

Thousands more protesters will take to the streets today. One group – denied its bid to rally in Central Park – is still planning to converge there today. Leaders of the ANSWER coalition have been passing out flyers informing protesters of their right to congregate in the park.

About 10,000 abortion-rights activists are expected to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the 11 a.m. March for Women’s Lives, which has a permit from the city.

Earlier yesterday, parks workers discovered the Van Cortlandt Golf Course in the Bronx, where a few GOP delegates were to play yesterday, had been vandalized with anti-Bush messages. “Extensive damage” was done to holes 15 through 18 and slogans were spray-painted on the grass, parks officials said. Repairs will cost $6,000.

The Battle for New York: A Roundup of the RNC Protests Plans

Rumsfeld Denies Abuses Occurred at Interrogations

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

by Eric Schmitt New York Times
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 – In his first comments on the two major investigative reports issued this week at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday mischaracterized one of their central findings about the American military’s treatment of Iraqi prisoners by saying there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations.

The reports, one by a panel Mr. Rumsfeld had appointed and one by three Army generals, made clear that some abuses occurred during interrogations, that others were intended to soften up prisoners who were to be questioned, and that many intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations were implicated in the abuses. The reports were issued Tuesday and Wednesday.

But on Thursday, in an interview with a radio station in Phoenix, Mr. Rumsfeld, who was traveling outside Washington this week, said, “I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes.” full article

Did Kissinger Tolerate Rights Abuses in Argentina?

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

by Diana Jean Schemo New York Times
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 – In a 1976 meeting with officials of the newly installed military junta in Argentina, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger raised no protest against human rights violations that were the start of Argentina’s “dirty war,” according to a newly declassified document from United States government archives.

The document, obtained by the nonprofit National Security Archive under the federal Freedom of Information Act, is a 13-page memorandum on an hourlong meeting between Mr. Kissinger and Adm. César Augusto Guzzetti, the foreign Minister of Argentina, on June 10, in Santiago, Chile. The meeting, Mr. Kissinger’s first with the foreign minister, occurred less than three months after the military ousted the government of Isabel Perón.

Also at the meeting were William Rogers, then under secretary for economic affairs, and Luigi Einaudi, the current assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States, who took notes at the meeting. Both men have previously denied that Mr. Kissinger privately gave any “green light” to political repression and torture in Latin America, as has Mr. Kissinger himself.

In the meeting, Admiral Guzzetti complained that his country’s “main problem” was terrorism. “It is the first priority of the current government,” he said, adding that the government sought, first and foremost, “to ensure the internal security of the country.”

Mr. Kissinger responded: “We are aware you are in a difficult period. It is a curious time, when political, criminal and terrorist activities tend to merge without any clear separation. We understand you must establish authority.”

Later, he said, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you should get back quickly to normal procedures.” full article

Old Henry sounds like Lady Macbeth, another famous butcher with a million expedient justifications for murder who just could not get the blood off her hands.

Powell Scraps Plan to Attend Olympics Ceremonies

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

netscape news
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Colin Powell abruptly canceled plans to attend the Olympics closing ceremonies in Athens Sunday in part because of events in Iraq and Sudan, the State Department said.

U.S. officials denied Powell changed plans because of protests against U.S. foreign policy that were dispersed when police hurled tear gas Friday at about 1,000 demonstrators headed in the direction of the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

Saturday Greek activists hoisted a massive banner saying “Powell Killer Go Home” on the Acropolis hillside towering over Athens to protest against his planned 24-hour visit.

…The Greek government, which may have been embarrassed by Powell’s cancellation, said he told Molyviatis he could not come because of “pressing obligations” and that the two agreed he would visit Greece in the first half of October.

The International Olympic Committee declined to comment on Powell’s decision. But an organizer of protests in Athens said it was a victory for the anti-war movement.

“Of course, the cancellation was linked to our protests,” Yiannis Sifakakis told Reuters. “This is a huge victory for the anti-war movement which protested by the thousands in the streets of Athens last night. full article

FBI Probes if Official Spied for Israel

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

by Curt Anderson Guardian UK
WASHINGTON (AP) – In a spy investigation that could strain U.S.-Israeli relations and muddy the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, the FBI is investigating whether a Pentagon analyst fed to Israel secret materials about White House deliberations on Iran.

No arrests have been made, said two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation. A third law enforcement official, also speaking anonymously, said an arrest in the case could come as early as next week.

The officials refused to identify the Pentagon employee under investigation but said the person is an analyst in the office of Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, the Pentagon’s No. 3 official.

The link to Feith’s office also could prove politically sensitive for the Bush administration.

Feith is an influential aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld who works on sensitive policy issues including U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran. Feith’s office includes a cadre assigned specifically to work on Iran.

He also oversaw the Pentagon’s defunct Office of Special Plans, which critics said fed policy-makers uncorroborated prewar intelligence on President Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, especially involving purported ties with the al-Qaida terror network. Pentagon officials have said the office was a small operation that provided fresh analysis on existing intelligence. full article

Prison in the Cards: Many black men face a rough new rite of passage

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

By Silja J.A. Talvi
In These Times
According to two recent research studies, the path that awaits young, undereducated African-American men is more likely to lead them to prison than anywhere else.

In fact, with the expansion of the nation’s sprawling prison industrial complex since the 1980s, things have gotten far, far worse for black men everywhere.

Consider that in 1954—the year that the Supreme Court weighed in favor of desegregation with their Brown v. Board of Education decision—an estimated 98,000 African-Americans sat behind bars. Today, that figure stands at 884,500, or nine times the number of black men and women incarcerated at the advent of the Civil Rights movement.

Given current trends, one of every three African-American men born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. According to the authors of The Sentencing Project’s recent report, “Schools and Prisons: Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education,” the situation is largely attributable to the War on Drugs, particularly the grossly disparate crack and powder cocaine federal sentencing guidelines. Despite a U.S. Sentencing Commission recommendation to fully eliminate such sentencing differentials, these guidelines have been supported by both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Imprisonment is now so common for young men of color that it serves as a veritable rite of passage. And no community has been as badly impacted as African-American inner city neighborhoods, leading to a phenomenon that many sociologists have begun to call the “mass incarceration” of young, low-income black men.

“American society loses the contribution of those men going to prison, in their roles as parents, workers, and citizens,” says Professor Bruce Western, professor of sociology at Princeton University.

Along with University of Washington sociology professor Becky Pettit, Western recently co-authored an extensive research study, “Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration,” which was first published in the American Sociological Review. Their study, conducted over a period of several years, demonstrates conclusively that African-American men are now more likely to end up in prison than to earn a bachelor’s degree or even serve in the military.

“I think the findings also indicate an institutional failure,” says Western. “The idea of universal rights of citizenship, social membership, is a central part of American political culture, yet mass incarceration has systematically limited the full participation of low-education black men in American society. Democracy and civil society are diminished and that is a collective loss.”

Pettit and Western’s dramatic findings further demonstrate that fully 60 percent of African-American male high-school dropouts born between 1965 and 1969 ended up doing time in prison by 1999. full article

Sexed-up reports, pressure on the UN … here we go again

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Jonathan Steele: US claims over Iran’s nuclear programme sound eerily familiar
Guardian UK
History is beginning to repeat itself, this time over Iran. Just two years after the notorious Downing Street dossier on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and the first efforts to get United Nations approval for war, Washington is trying to create similar pressures for action against Iran.

The ingredients are well-known: sexed-up intelligence material which puts the target country in the worst possible light; moves to get the UN to declare it in “non- compliance”, thereby claiming justification for going in unilaterally even if the UN gives no support for invasion; and at the back of the whole brouhaha, a clique of American neoconservatives whose real agenda is regime change. full article

“You Won’t Be Leaving Tomorrow”: Thirty-One Years and Counting Inside the Belly of the Beast

Friday, August 27th, 2004

by Veronza Bowers Jr.
I send each and every one of you my very warmest greeting from 31 years deep inside of the Belly of the Beast.

As you know, I’m a former member of the original Black Panther Party, and even though government officials claim that there are no political prisoners in this country’s prisons and jails, it’s simply not true. Having already “served” over three decades in continuous custody in federal prison, I’m one of the longest held political prisoners in the U.S. of A. There are quite a number of us scattered about & but that’s a very long story.

Picture this in your mind … if you dare: full article

Pinochet is stripped of immunity by court

Thursday, August 26th, 2004

Independent UK
The Supreme Court of Chile yesterday stripped Augusto Pinochet, the country’s former military dictator, of his immunity from prosecution – opening the way for him to be charged with human rights abuses and the alleged death and disappearance of more than 3,000 people.

The court in Santiago, the capital, voted 9-8 to lift the immunity protecting the former president, overruling its own previous decisions that the 88-year-old was too physically and mentally ill to face prosecution. Two years ago, court-appointed doctors determined that General Pinochet had a mild case of dementia, used a pacemaker and suffered from diabetes and arthritis. He has had at least three mild strokes since 1998. full article