Prisoners Of Empire

  • Joan Anderson, 65, Casper, WY – 30 days and a $500 fine
  • Ozone Bhaguan, 33, Duluth, MN – 90 days and no fine
  • Le Anne Clausen, 29, Chicago, IL. – 30 days and no fine
  • Art Landis, 74, Perkasie, PA – 30 days and no fine
  • Ed Lewinson, 78, Newark NJ – 90 days and a $500 fine
  • Chris Lieberman, 54, Albuquerque, NM – 60 days and no fine
  • Diane Lopez Hughes, 58, Springfield, IL – 45 days and a $500 fine
  • Tiel Rainelli, 25, Canton, OH. – 90 days and a $500 fine
  • Gus Roddy, 45, Chicago, IL – 30 days and a $500 fine
  • Stephen Schweitzer, 45, Binghamtom, NY – 60 days and a $500 fine
  • Michelle Yipé, 45, of Argonia, KS – 30 days and a $500 fine

The Eleven courageous souls that willingly put their freedom and bodies at risk to stand in witness against the SOA/WHINSEC during the November 2007 Vigil have been sentenced to federal prison on charges of “trespassing on a military base”.

The trial, which began at 9:00 AM this morning in Columbus, Georgia, took place in a courthouse located just a few miles from Fort Benning, the current site of the SOA/WHINSEC. An institute known around the world for its ties to brutal dictatorships and human rights abuses, which continues to operate, unchallenged by our government but not by the people.

Take action to close SOA/WHINSEC: Legislative Action Index

Second ORB Survey Confirms 1 Million Iraq Toll

Via a comment by JamieSW of The Heathlander at Complex System of Pipes

Further survey work undertaken by ORB, in association with its research partner IIACSS, confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003.

Following responses to ORB’s earlier work, which was based on survey work undertaken in primarily urban locations, we have conducted almost 600 additional interviews in rural communities. By and large the results are in line with the ‘urban results’ and we now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000. If one takes into account the margin of error associated with survey data of this nature then the estimated range is between 946,000 and 1,120,000.  [links to full tables & methodology at site]

Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

“My name is Sarah and I am in psychological operations,” said another US officer and proudly showed us around a newly established radio Fallujah.

When I asked what the hospital lacked Dr Kamal said wearily: “Drugs, fuel, electricity, generators, a water treatment system, oxygen and medical equipment.” It was difficult not to think that American assistance might have gone to the hospital rather than the business development centre.

And talking of Fallujah this post by Stephen Soldz shows how embedding journalists is the antithesis of a free press, in fact it shows how overall In-Bedding journalists (and how very consensual it was) is what has gone on as the political and military establishment seek to lie without compunction to achieve their goals, to slaughter, to enter the abyss.

“‘The logic is: You flatten Fallujah, hold up the head of Fallujah, and say “Do our bidding, or you’re next,”‘  

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Ignore BBC Coverage Of Suharto

On Suharto their position cannot be trusted, instead read John Pilger’s piece here. To see the problems with the BBC coverage got to the Medialens message board here and put Suharto in the search messages box.

Jonathan Head of the BBC writes– I knew perfectly well what kind of response
: my piece would receive from people who focus
: exclusively on human rights, and I have got
: plenty of them. But I can assure you I know
: very few Indonesians who share your view of
: Suharto, and as I wrote I believe their
: views, wrong-headed or not, are what count.

As one poster responds– Well my wife is from Indonesia and I’ve chatted extensively to her – and her family back in Indonesia – about Suharto. The fact of the matter is that Suharto is indeed held in high regard by many Indonesians, principally because the price of rice remained relatively stable (and low) throughout his rule (it has sky-rocketed since 1997).

What’s also evident, however, is that very few Indonesians are aware of the scale of the atrocities committed against, inter alia, the “communists” and the East Timorese. I recently showed my wife Pilger’s “Death of a Nation” (re East Timor) and her mouth literally hit the floor. She had no idea. If I recall correctly, she said something like: “Well they didn’t tell us anything about that. All we were taught was that Suharto was a good man who wanted to keep Indonesia together.”

So, Head’s retort that he is simply reporting the views of ordinary Indonesians is naive (or even disingenuous) since it doesn’t take account of the fact that Indonesians were exposed to massive amounts of propaganda (mostly through omission). In addition, the fact that so many Indonesians are now struggling with increased rice and fuel prices means that the Suharto era is invariably viewed through rose-tinted spectacles.

And very glaringly no mention is made of American & British support and profiting from the slaughter, perhaps they are ashamed the BBC was used by the FCO to spread propaganda at the time. Although surely the best reaction to that is to come clean and make up for past mistakes. Did the BBC report that Saddam Hussein was a good man because it only found propagandised and terrified Iraqis to talk to? No of course not but then its criticism of him did suit powerful interests, accurate criticism of Suharto goes against those interests (and in fact would reveal direct alliances with him) hence the hagiography currently dirtying up the BBC’s reputation via it’s website , Head’s legacy piece is better even as he seems to be saying it was somewhat a ‘professional’ job

: My personal belief is that it is very
: damaging for indonesia to leave the
: brutalities of Suharto’s rule uninvestigated
: and unpunished. But I am a reporter, and it
: is my job to reflect what I find here, not
: to tell Indonesians how they should react to
: the death of a man who shaped their country.

But… I knew perfectly well what kind of response my piece would receive from people who focus exclusively on human rights,’ Yes you dirty freaks with your insistence on not being tortured and killed, get a fucking life! After all-

They passed laws allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of theise resources, handed out “tax holidays,” and within two years, Indonesia’s natural wealth – copper, nickel, hardwood, rubber and oil – was being divided up among the largest mining and energy companies in the world.
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, pp. 69.

He was good for imperial business you bloody hippies! Ahem. Although Head used to be a human rights activist according to his BBC bio-

He graduated from Cambridge University in 1982 with a degree in History, and from the London School of Oriental and African Studies in 1985 with an MA in South East Asian Studies. In the Eighties he worked as a human rights activist on Indonesia and East Timor.

But now professionalism is what pays the bills and it is probably unfair to focus on one reporter, something institutional has decreed our support for a tyrant is best left in the memory hole. Is it silly to expect better from the BBC (in this post Hutton deference to the Labour establishment time). Hilariously (& insultingly) they do mention the CIA on his obit, in that they link to the CIA world factbook, such loyal deference to power.

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Amnesty Reports Increased Arrests In Burma

Amnesty International’s research completely contradicts the assurance that arrests had stopped and that no more would take place given to UN Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari in early November by Myanmar’s Prime Minister Thein Sein.

“Four months on from the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, rather than stop its unlawful arrests the Myanmar government has actually accelerated them,” said Catherine Baber, director of Amnesty International Asia-Pacific programme. “The new arrests in December and January target people who have attempted to send evidence of the crackdown to the international community, clearly showing that the government’s chief priority is to silence its citizens who would hold them to account.”

Gambari has visited twice and was promised a third visit soon, as part of what Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma, said was a policy of cooperation with the United Nations. But the junta now says it will not be convenient for him to come until April.

“This is business as usual for them,” said U Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy Magazine, an exile magazine published in Thailand.

“When they are under siege, they always create such a smoke screen to keep away international pressure,” he said. “They postpone, they say they are restoring normalcy, they keep arresting people.”

Then there are the recent bombings which the regime blame on the Karen National Union and hint at the CIA while opposition groups deny knowledge and think the regime might be behind them to allow for further repression. If it is armed resistance, it’s understandable. At Davos the UK, USA & France put out a joint statement, while Total put out leaflets to justify their trade with the regime. Oddly the most attention Burma will get in the next month will probably be because of the Rambo film, um, which kind of makes Baudrillard’s simulacra arguments look rather convincing (and with added explosions & botox), ho-hum. The Asian Pacific People’s Partnership  excellent round up for last week is here.

  • Thailand’s PTT and Korea’s Daewoo are putting more investments into Burma’s oil and gas
  • During this week, the regime’s hospital stops providing medical assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS

And India, Bangladesh and Burma are meeting about maritime boundaries and gas rights, as the business friendly regime also oversee people being forcibly moved off corporate developments & Skoda eye the developing market.

I think there are some fine words spoken but when it comes to a buck being made, talk is cheap. Business as usual.