Monthly Archives: February 2005

Venezuela’s Chavez embraces socialism

CNN/Reuters has an interesting article about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez: Defying U.S., Venezuela’s Chavez embraces socialism:

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday embraced socialism as his ideology of choice in a political statement that sharpened his antagonism against the United States.

Chavez, a firebrand nationalist who has governed the world’s No. 5 oil exporter for six years, has persistently declined to define the precise ideology of his self-styled “revolution.”

But, addressing an international meeting on poverty in Caracas, he said Western-style capitalism was incapable of solving global economic and social problems.

“So, if not capitalism, then what? I have no doubt, it’s socialism,” said Chavez, who also rebuffed U.S. criticism of his left-wing rule in Venezuela and denounced U.S. President George W. Bush as the “great destabilizer of the world.”

I finally see the tide turning against the U.S. Seems that all the pieces are in place and it makes me laugh to think that “our” esteemed president set this game in motion. Each day makes it more obvious that blocks of resistance are being established. Europe will increasingly oppose U.S. policies. Iran and Syria are blocking up and looks like they are forming increasingly solid relations with Russia and China. I think it’s pretty obvious where Iraq has been heading. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez will continue to increase its resistance.

Anarchists and enemies of the U.S. state could not have done a better job. Thank you Mr. Bush.

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Monsters, bullies and bastards

“We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we’ll kill you. Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didnt vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American Character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.”

— Hunter S. Thompson, “Kingdom of Fear” 2003

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Imperial Entropy and the Collapse of the American Empire

Over at Counterpunch Kirkpatrick Sale writes about the Collapse of the American Empire. We can only hope.

It is quite ironic: only a decade or so after the idea of the United States as an imperial power came to be accepted by both right and left, and people were actually able to talk openly about an American empire, it is showing multiple signs of its inability to continue. And indeed it is now possible to contemplate, and openly speculate about, its collapse.

The neocons in power in Washington these days, those who were delighted to talk about America as the sole empire in the world following the Soviet disintegration, will of course refuse to believe in any such collapse, just as they ignore the realities of the imperial war in Iraq. But I think it behooves us to examine seriously the ways in which the U.S. system is so drastically imperiling itself that it will cause not only the collapse of its worldwide empire but drastically alter the nation itself on the domestic front.

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The Antiwar Movement Confronts Army Recruiters

The New York Times, via Infoshop News, has a story about the antiwar movement getting aggressive. I have little doubt that this kind of direct action against the U.S. war machine will increase in coming years assuming the pattern of U.S. violence abroad continues. I’d expect that this tactic will prove to be more effective than mass protests because it cannot be so easily managed by authority.

EAST ORANGE, N.J. – The five United States Army recruiters who work from a storefront office here arrived on the morning of Feb. 5 to discover that a plate-glass window above the main entrance had been shattered, along with a window in the Navy office next door.

But for the men on the other side of the broken glass, and recruiters throughout the New York area, the vandalism here underscored what they say are the risks of signing up young people for the military during a war that has polarized the American public.

The shattering of windows here followed two similar incidents in New York City and a third in the Midwest that week. On Jan. 31, authorities said, recruiters at a station near the Flatiron section of Manhattan reported that a door had been cracked, and that anarchist symbols had been scrawled in red paint on the building.

A day later in Toledo, Ohio, a bucket of manure was thrown at the window of a recruiting station that housed all four branches of the military, the police said, and antiwar obscenities were scrawled on a nearby wall.

Since the beginning of 2003, there have also been more than a dozen other often violent incidents aimed at military recruiters or property throughout the country, according to the police, recruiters and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a few cases, vehicles have been set on fire; in others, blood has been thrown through windows. Spokespeople for the armed services have downplayed the incidents even as some recruiters have increased security at their stations.

Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., said that no recruiters had been hurt and that most of the nation’s nearly 1,700 Army recruiting stations had not been harmed or attacked.

“We’re aware that there are some instances of damage to stations, and we’re keeping an eye on this,” he said. “But it is not something that has us overly concerned.”

Several recruiters in the field, however, said that they remained on edge. On Jan. 20, the day of President Bush’s inaugural, several hundred students at Seattle Central Community College surrounded two Army recruiters on campus, shouting insults and hurling water bottles until the recruiters were escorted away by campus security. The protest was covered by The Army Times, and several recruiters said that they feared such situations might become more common.

Sgt. First Class William C. Howard, a recruiter here in East Orange, said that the antiwar sentiment seemed to have grown more aggressive. Though recruiters are still frequently thanked for their service, he said, the insults, dirty looks and other signs of discontent seem to be increasing.

On edge? Given that their job is to convince other people to go off and kill or be killed I’d say being on edge is getting off easy.

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The FDA, Vioxx, Celebrex and other adventures in drugland

Democracy Now! has posted the transcript from Amy Goodman’s interview with Dr. Sidney Wolfe. Excellent reading. You have to love how useful the federal government is! It’s good to see that tax dollars are so wisely used by government entities… I sure feel safe knowing they are looking out for all of us! Heh. FDA, FCC, and on down the list, each one an example of how government does not work for the citizenry, but the interests of capital.

The FDA panel proposed that the drugs be sold with an FDA “black box” warning. Vioxx is now expected to return to the market even though nearly half the FDA panel voted against it being sold. Its manufacturer Merck voluntarily withdrew the painkiller drug in the fall. Studies have show as many as 55,000 people may have died from taking the drug. [includes rush transcript – partial]
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted to allow doctors to keep prescribing the popular painkillers Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra even though the panel overwhelmingly agreed that the drugs significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients.

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New studies of oceans and melting Arctic ice confirm warmer planet

Wired, via Reuters, reported a few days ago on new studies of the Earth’s oceans and melting Arctic ice which confirm a rapidly warming planet.

A parcel of studies looking at the oceans and melting Arctic ice leave no room for doubt that it is getting warmer, people are to blame, and the weather is going to suffer, climate experts said on Thursday.

New computer models that look at ocean temperatures instead of the atmosphere show the clearest signal yet that global warming is well underway, said Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

His team used millions of temperature readings made by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to calculate steady ocean warming.

“The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people,” he said.

Other researchers found clear effects on climate and animals.

Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that melting ice was changing the water cycle, which in turn affects ocean currents and, ultimately, climate.

“As the Earth warms, its water cycle is changing, being pushed out of kilter,” she said. “Ice is in decline everywhere on the planet.”

Greenland’s ice cap, which contains enough ice to raise sea levels globally by 23 feet, is starting to melt and could collapse suddenly, Curry said. Already freshwater is percolating down, lubricating the base and making it more unstable.

Sharon Smith of the University of Miami found melting Arctic ice was taking with it algae that formed an important base of the food supply for a range of animals.

And the disappearing ice shelves meant big animals such as walruses, polar bears and seals were losing their homes.

In other news Americans remain oblivious.

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How Democracy “works” in Iraq

According to Juan Cole:

Al-Hayat reports that a decision on the new prime minister will not be announced until at least Wednesday. The decision was postponed in part because of Ashura, and in part because of the difficulty in getting a “green light” from Washington in the wake of Ambassador John Negroponte’s appointment as intelligence czar. (US news sources have not spoken as openly of the need for a green light from Washington, but al-Hayat’s sources are frank about it. This frankness agrees with the comment made by one embassy official that Iraq cannot select a prime minister who is unacceptable to Washington.

Democracy? Ha, ha… yeah I get it… Just like here in the Homeland.

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Government Secrecy and Power

Noam Chomsky, during a discussion regarding governmental secrecy and security suggested that secrecy has little to do with security. Rather, the real reason for secrecy is the need to cloak the workings of power from is own people:

Yeah-the Rosenberg execution had nothing to do with national security; it was part of trying to destroy the political movements of the Thirties. If you want to traumatize people, treason trials are a n extreme way–if there are spies running around in our midst, then we’re really in trouble, we’d better just listen to the government and stop thinking.

Look, every government has a need to frighten its population, and one way of doing that is to shroud its workings in mystery. The idea that a govermnet has to be shrouded in mystery is something that goes back to Herodotus [ancient Greek historian]. You read Herodotus, and he describes how the Medes and others won their freedom by struggle, and then they lost their freedom when the institution of royalty was invented to create a cloake of mystery around power. 30 See, the idea behind royalty was that there’s this other species of individuals who are beyond the norm and who the people are not supposed to understand. That’s the standard way you cloak and protect power: you make it look mysterious and secret, above the ordinary person- otherwise why should anybody accept it? Well, they’re willing to accept it out of fear that some great enemies are about to destroy them, and because of that they’ll cede their autthority to the Lord, or the King, or the President or something, just to protect themselves. That’s the way governments work–that’s the way any system of power works–and the secrecy system is part of it.

Source: Understanding Power.

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Ocean Life

Last night at the ocean! Tomorrow we head back to Missouri, just in time for spring. As much as I’ve enjoyed the beauty of this ocean ecosystem I love the incredible diversity of Missouri and will be happy to be back. It won’t be long before frogs wake up and the early wild flowers will be showing their faces soon.

About the fish picture: we found four of these guys on the beach one day. Strange that we would find so many on one day but not a single one on any other day. Also, today we saw our first live jellyfish. We’ve been seeing them dead washed up on shore but the one we saw today, approximately 16 inches in diameter, was very much alive and just 15 feet from shore so it was easy to observe. No dolphins today but the water was calmer than every other day and perfectly clear. The perfect last day.

I’ve added another 70+ photos to my Flickr photo blog.

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