January 2011 Racism USA


Twenty people were gunned down at a supermarket in Arizona on Saturday. Six were killed, including a nine-year-old girl. Fourteen others were wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was the main target of the attack, and who was shot through the head. She is currently lying in a hospital bed with half of her skull removed because brain swelling from her bullet wound could kill her.

Twenty people shot.

Six killed.

Fourteen wounded.

And guess what?

It appears Sarah Palin is the principal victim of the shooting.

No, really.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video she posted to her Facebook page. There she sits, in front of a fireplace and beside an American flag like some cruel joke on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, wreathing herself in pity because people are coming to the conclusion that politicians like her – the ones who have spent the last two years talking about guns and civil war and reloading and such – should bear some of the blame for what happened in Arizona.

How on Earth could anyone come to such an irresponsible and reprehensible conclusion?

In a message posted on her Facebook page Sunday afternoon, Sarah Palin reiterated her call for supporters to “reload” in the battle against health care reform, a term that provoked controversy last week after critics accused her of inciting violence against members of Congress. Presenting her message as an exhortation to college basketball teams competing in March Madness, Palin stood her ground in using firearm imagery against the administration.

The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win,” Palin wrote. In the headline of her update, she mockingly predicted that the message would be “subject to new politically correct language police censorship.”


That was supposed to be about basketball, and as usual, all sorts of mean people jumped up and down on her for once again vomiting gun-violence rhetoric into the political debate. Yup, she was the victim then, and is now the victim once again.

Poor, poor Sarah.

Before you start spluttering and staggering in an attempt to comprehend the sheer galactic magnitude of this new round of idiocy – “Who the what the where the when the why the how the what?!” was my initial response – stop a second and remember that this is how people like Sarah Palin operate. This is how they get others to follow them. They make themselves out to be victims, and convince their followers that they, too, are victims.

Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Savage, O’Reilly and the rest of the right-wing media machine have turned professional victimhood into a license to print money, and people like Sarah Palin are all too happy to jump on that bandwagon. You’re losing your country, your rights, your guns, your family, your religion, the sanctity of your marriage, the supremacy of your heterosexuality, my God, you’re losing Christmas, for the love of God! You’re losing everything (…psssst…they’re talking to White Christians when they say this stuff, by the way, which just cracks me all the way up…), and if you don’t “take up arms” to stop it, well, it will just make the Baby Jesus weep bitter, bitter tears.

Speaking of “taking up arms,” here is Palin’s explanation for such rhetoric: “When we say ‘take up our arms,’ we are talking about our vote.”

Of course. How could we have missed such an obvious reference? Silly us.

Poor, poor Sarah.

Since we’re on the topic, here’s another hoot from another professional victim: Sharron Angle, the only living human who can make Sarah Palin seem sensible and coherent by comparison. In her own comments on how awful it is that people who think her “Second Amendment remedies” talk might have something to do with politicians getting shot in the head, Angle said, “The irresponsible assignment of blame to me, Sarah Palin or the Tea Party movement by commentators and elected officials puts all who gather to redress grievances in danger.”

Let that one sink in for a second.

The twenty people who were shot on Saturday were gathered peacefully with their elected representative to petition for a redress of grievances when they were mowed down like grass. But they are not the victims. Angle, Palin, the Tea Party are the ones in danger here. They are the ones whose rights are in peril. They are the victims.

Or something.

Something else happened here, however, speaking of victims. In her puling, self-pitying video rant, Palin accused her critics of committing a “blood libel” against her. From the New York Times:

The term blood libel is generally used to mean the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. That false claim was circulated for centuries to incite anti-Semitism and justify violent pogroms against Jews. Ms. Palin’s use of the phrase in her video, which helped make the video rapidly go viral, is attracting criticism, not least because Ms. Giffords, who remains in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish.

So was Gabriel Zimmerman, who died on Saturday.

The geometry of all this is a little bewildering, so let me try to sum it up. The victims of Saturday’s shooting have caused Sarah Palin and her ilk to become the real victims, so Palin decided to further victimize Saturday’s victims by framing her own victimhood with the use of perhaps the sickest anti-Semitic slur ever to exist on the skin of this Earth.

But guess what? It wasn’t even her line. She used it, sure, but lifted it from a Wall Street Journal headline and article by right-wing columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a.k.a. “InstaPundit.”  So she’s a victim as well as unoriginal. Contain your shock.

Poor, poor Sarah. We weep bitter tears for your travails.

Not. I will save my tears for the real victims here, for the living and the lost, and the America that people like Sarah Palin have been tearing apart for ambition and profit.

Global issues January 2011 Non-Violence USA


Since the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Senator  in 1968. Congresswoman Giffords remains in critical condition in a Tuscon hospital. Giffords was one of 9 people shot. Six people were killed including John Roll, the chief federal judge for the state of Arizona. A 9 year old elementary school girl was also gived. 13 others were wounded in the shooting spree.

The alleged assassin, Jared Lee Loughner, had had a history of mental illness. He had been suspended from his community college after erratic and intimidating behavior. Students at the community college recalled being frightened of him. The college administration suspended Loghner barring him from returning until he underwent psychiatric evaluation and produced a note by a psychiatrist indicating he wasn’t a danger to the public. Loughner apparently didn’t re-enroll and attempted to enter the US Army. It’s quite revealing that the US military, desperate for recruits and known to be extremely relaxed about who it accepts, rejected Loughner. Loughner’s Internet postings, including his You Tube channel, seemed to be that of one suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. His videos were erratic and cryptic messages about the government and monetary currency. While obviously neither cogent not coherent, the themes he espoused are the trade of the American far-right.

Gabrielle Giffords, along with fellow Latino House representative  Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva, had long been the political targets of the far right both within Arizona and by the Tea Party. Giffords was named by the National Organization of Women and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League as one of the leading members of Congress devoted to the legalization of abortion rights in the country. Both organizations devoted money and resources to her re-election campaign. Giffords, who was originally a Republican before switching parties, has been one of the leading pro-choice politicians in the US Congress. Her pro-choice politics made her a despised figure among the far right Tea Party.

Congressman Grijalva was a target of the far right within Arizona because he is Latino and one of the leading advocates for the rights of both legal and illegal Latino immigrants. Grijvalva was the most vocal and outspoken opponent of Arizona’s Bill 1070, which criminalises all Latinos and those that look Latino as illegal aliens. Both Giffords and Grijalva were supporters for The Affordable Care Act. Both had received numerous death threats and had their offices attacked. The office window of Giffords had been shot out. Rocks were thrown through the windows of Grijvala’s office. Grijalva’s office had been vandalized with a Nazi Swastika spray painted on the exterior.

Federal judge John Roll has also been the target of death threats by the far right based on decisions he made regarding immigration cases. White supremacist anti-immigrant vigilantes have grown in number and patrol the streets and highways throughout the State of Arizona. Judge Roll and his family had 24 hour protection from the US Marshal Service.

The shooting of Giffords and Roll were clearly acts of political terrorism. Last year, the Tea Party, led by Sarah Palin organized violent protests  across the country against President Obama and in opposition to health care reform. Tea Party activists attended town hall meetings held by Democrat congress members with loaded firearms. Leading up to the November Mid-Term elections, Republican Tea Party candidates all across the country threatened armed uprising and revolution if they didn’t win the elections. Giffords has been specifically targeted by Sarah Palin on her Twitter posts and other Internet pages. Palin’s site had a graphic of a map of the United States. There were cross hair targets of several congressional districts held by Democrats. Gifford’s district was located on the target cross hairs.  In June, Gifford’s Tea Party Republican opponent Jesse Kelly promoted a campaign event on his website that read: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

Encouraged by Kelly, during the course of the election campaign, right-wing protesters would gather weekly near her office carrying signs with slogans such as “It’s time to reload” and “One way or another, you’re gone.”

Giffords fearing for her life and quite possibly for Democracy spoke out warning:  “When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action.” In response to such criticism, Palin replied on twitter, “Don’t retreat, reload.”

In the aftermath of the shooting in Tuscon, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggested Jared Lee Loughner may have been influenced by right-wing political rhetoric: “When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily business, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with.”

This sentiment was echoed by Gifford’s father. When he left the hospital after visiting his daughter made it clear who was responsible for the rampage.  When he was asked whether his daughter had any enemies, he said, “Yes, the whole Tea Party.”

Since Saturday, the entire right wing media has been on the defensive. On his Sunday radio broadcast, Alex Jones denied that the conservative and patriot movement had anything to do with the shooting rampage. Jones used the incident to even call for less restrictions of gun laws! “If Giffords had been packing heat, she would not have been shot. If anyone present had a gun, they would have been able to take him out before he was able to shoot others.” This sentiments were echoed by newly elected Tea Party Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky who repeated the trite cliché: “Weapons don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Not only are these statements dishonest but they also falsify the facts over the past two years. Alex Jones himself, led the anti-Obama crusade with his documentary “The Obama Deception” released within two months of Obama taking office. “The Obama Deception” calls Obama a “communist” and goes as far as comparing Obama to Adolph Hitler. Glen Beck of Fox News has devoted hours of airtime accusing Obama of being a “communist”. Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which included Fox, has stirred up racist angst against Obama. In Spring 2009, his newspaper The New York Post had an offensive cartoon depicting Obama has a primate that had been shot dead by the police. Since then, many pundits and hosts on Fox have openly called for Obama to be killed. For two years, the right wing media of Fox TV and AM talk radio has whipped up irrational fears about Obama and have called for his assassination.

Last year during the lead up to the final votes on Health Care Reform, thousands of protesters led by Glen Beck, took the streets of Washington threatening legislators with violence. Last April, thousands of Tea Party protesters held an armed rally and march across the Potomac River in Virgina. The midterm election campaign became increasingly violent leading up to voting day.

In January 2010, Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle raised the possibility of armed insurrection.

“You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second
Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.

I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this
Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

In March 2010, now Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a deadly warning to a Cincinnati Democrat representative about supporting Health Care Reform providing federal funding for abortions:

“He may be a dead man. He can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati. The Catholics will run him out of town.”

The same month Michele Bachmann, the chair of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, incited her constituents to armed conflict:

“I want people in Minnesota  armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to  fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and  then is a good thing, and the people — we the people —
are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”

Before the Kentucky senatorial debate, Rand Paul supporters attacked and stomped on the head of activist Lauren Valle. One of her attackers Tim Profitt went as far as to demand an apology from Valle!

In October 2010, Dallas, Texas Tea Party candidate Stephen Broden also raised the call for a violent overthrow of the US government: “Our country was founded on violence. That option is on the table. We shouldn’t remove anything off the table.”

Given the this highly charged political atmosphere, Saturday’s massacre shouldn’t come as a surprise. Indeed, it was quite expected. However, the massacre raises more questions. Who exactly is Jared Lee Loughner? On his You Tube and Internet postings, he mentioned “sleepwalking” and “conscience dreaming”. “Mind control” was also a common leitmotiv. His friends have told the media that he was “on a secret mission” for the US government. Furthermore, the police are looking for a second suspect. The suspect is described as a man being his is 50s and was reported seen with Loughner arriving at the event hosted by Congresswoman Giffords.

Since assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there have been a string of assassinations and attempted assassinations against politicians and celebrities. All of these incidents have been staged by “lone” gunmen with a history of erratic behavior and mental illness. Their targets have all been significant public figures. Yet nearly all the assailants didn’t seem to have specific political motivations for the actions.

Loughner seems to fit the mold of the assassins that killed Robert F. Kennedy and John Lennon. Loughner was obsessed with mind control and the occult. Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. Sirhan had always contended that he had been hypnotized and that he was in fact under mind control. In 2005 Peter Evans,the British author of the book Nemesis , spent 10 years researching the book, has unearthed evidence to support Sirhan’s contention that he was hypnotised into being the “fall guy” for the murder. Evans identifies the hypnotist, who had worked on CIA mind control programmes and who was later found dead in mysterious circumstances. Sirhan’s lawyer, Larry Teeter, is convinced that the Palestinian activist was chosen to be a Manchurian Candidate-style assassin through hypnosis.

In a 2005 interview, Teeter told The Independent newspaper: ”I know it was done. It was consistent with the US government’s program developed by the CIA and Military Intelligence to enable handlers to get people to commit crimes with no knowledge of what they are doing.”

This past December 8 marked the 30th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. His assassin, Mark David Chapman, shot Lennon at point blank range in front of The Dakota apartment complex. Chapman was said to be in a daze after the shooting leafing through The Catcher in the Rye. In a BBC interview from prison Chapman recounted the event.

“He walked past me and then I heard in my head, ‘Do it, do it, do it,’ over and over again, saying ‘Do it, do it, do it,’ like that,” Chapman, preternaturally serene, recalled in a BBC documentary several years after going to prison. “I don’t remember aiming. I must have done, but I don’t remember drawing a bead or whatever you call it. And I just pulled the trigger steady five times.”

British lawyer/journalist Fenton Bresler, author of the book Who Killed John Lennon?, came to the following conclusion: Chapman was a brainwashed hit man carrying out someone else’s contract. Bresler thesis is that Chapman was a mind-controlled assassin manipulated by some right-wing element possibly connected to the newly elected (and not even inaugurated) Reagan apparatus of reaction.

Lennon was viewed as a dangerous subversive both by FBI founder and head J. Edgar Hoover and President Richard Nixon. Like Giffords and RFK, Lennon had made many enemies within the American far right political apparatus.

There’s a link between Shirhan and Chapman. RFK’s apparent lone killer, Sirhan Sirhan, and Chapman shared a defense psychiatrist. But while Dr. Bernard Diamond couldn’t skirt the obvious fact that Sirhan was under hypnosis (Diamond wrote it off as self-hypnosis), he labeled Chapman a “paranoid schizophrenic.”

There are still too few details in the Loughner case to date to make any concrete conclusions. The only reason why The Age of Nepotism is making a link between these 3 cases, stems from the fact that Loughner was obviously obsessed about mind control.

Regardless of whether or not Loughner was simply paranoid schizophrenic and truly a right wing lone lunatic, the fact remains is that Congresswoman Giffords and Judge Roll had made powerful enemies within the far-right of the American political establishment. They had received death threats and became victims of politically motivated murder. The right wing in the US from the Republican Tea Party to Fox News and Talk Radio bear the moral and political responsibility for creating polarized violent atmosphere of fear and madness.

The Union of the Republic is in grave danger. Democracy along with human and civil rights are imperiled. The political and social union of the country is facing its greatest threat since 1860. This has been the results of the attack of democracy led by the Republican Party over the past decade. The second part of this series will look at the stolen Presidential election of 2000 and examine the political and social disintegration of the country since then.

January 2011 News Non-Violence USA


One of the most distinctive features of American democracy is its constitutional right to free speech. The idea of a free and open press has been one of the pillars of the country before the founding of the republic. By the 1930s, the United States led the world with mass media through newspapers and radio. The 1960s saw the beginning of talk radio. The concept of talk radio was novel as it produced the first non dramatic radio personalities. Listeners were allowed to phone the radio studio to share their opinions and ideas live over the air with millions of listeners.  From the 1960s through the 1970s, talk radio hosts such as Studs Terkel played a key role in the expansion of democracy following the free speechcivil rights and anti-war movements. Talk radio was viewed as a people’s forum where most of the listeners and presenters had liberal and progressive politics.


Talk Radio “Shock Jocks”

By the 1970s, “Shock Jocks” appeared including Murray The K and Don Imus. They gained notoriety also for their use of profanity, explicit sexual innuendo and advocating drug use. While Imus  and Murray The K were crude, there was a progressive element to their content. They were popular expressions of anti-establishment sentiment of the country.

Talk radio’s political content changed in the mid 1980’s. Right and and bigoted talk radio began to become mainstream, in part of the shifting political and social climate to the right under the presidency of Ronald ReaganBob Grant, who hosted a prime time radio talk show on WABC New York, started this trend. He gained the reputation for being insulting and rude to callers that disagreed with him. He would viciously denigrate and abuse callers while hanging up on them. After the Bernard Goetz shooting incident, in which a white man shot a group of Black teenagers he believed were threatening him on a New York City subway train, Grant’s rhetoric became hateful. He openly characterised Black New Yorkers “savages”. He would engage in wholesale slander and libel against 5 million strong Black and Puerto Rican population. Grant’s popularity increased and he became the number one radio talk show in New York.

The Rise of  Trash TV

Television programming went through a political transformation as well. Phil Donahue is credited for starting the first successful TV talk show program. His subject matter started as serious and sober. On his program had members of his studio audience interact to ask his guests questions and to comment as well as television viewers phoning in to participate in the conversation. The arrival of The Morton Downey Jr Show towards the end of the late 1980s brought radical change to TV talk programs. Downey’s show aimed for the lowest common denominator. He espoused the right wing politics of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Downey would scream and shout in the faces of his guests who disagreed with his views. He would interrupt his guests before they could finish a sentence. He smoked on the set and blew it in the faces of his guests he disagreed with. The studio audience was a motley crew of ignorant low lives scrapped off the gutters of Jersey City and the frat houses of New Brunswick, New Jersey. They would bark like dogs in front of the camera. The nastier and more vicious Downey would treat his guests, the more excited and aroused they would become. Fisticuffs would erupt and many of his episodes degenerated into street brawls with the low lives shouting, barking and further instigating the conflict. Geraldo Rivera joined the act. Rivera started off as a serious investigative reporter for WABC TV in New York during the 1970s before degenerating into a trash show host. Many of his episodes degenerated into brawls as well.

The 1990s continued the downward trend. Rush Limbaugh arrived on WABC Radio as well. What made Limbaugh different than Bob Grant and Morton Downey, Jr was his stunning ignorance. Though Grant and Downey was repugnant personalities, they did still presented their opinions based on facts. Limbaugh crossed over into the realm of propaganda. Limbaugh told outright lies and misinformation over the airwaves. Limbaugh accused Bill Clinton of being a “socialist”. When Clinton tried to pass health care reform, Limbaugh led the ideological propaganda assault lambasting it as “socialism.” Limbaugh was seen as a market success and he became the most popular talk show host in the country. Talk radio outlets across the country introduced legions of similarly ignorant hosts who espoused hateful incendiary speech.

On television, more and more talk shows attempted to build off the success of Morton Downey, Jr. There seemed to be a race to the bottom in content. Producers didn’t even attempt to get serious guests on to discuss the pressing issues of the day. Most programming was dedicated to cases of relationship infidelity in which ignorant and uneducated young people would scream and fight each other over men.  Jerry Springer, the former right wing Democrat mayor of Cincinnati, became the most successful. His studio audience made Downey’s look civil by comparison. These programs were not even “talk shows” as there wasn’t any dialogue or exchange of ideas, let alone opinions. Instead they were nothing less than shouting matches and physical violence. Indeed, these programs were more psychological programs. Certain topics were selected as the choice of guests were generally repulsive people with whom no one could relate to. These programs were designed to induce and provoke emotional responses with both the studio audience and the TV viewer.

Fox News and The Political Rise of the Far Right

The first political manifestation of this trend was the rise of the Newt Gingrich Republicans during the 1994 Mid-Term elections. Instead of being the dignified representatives of the people, the House Republican caucus was a circus of ignorant, misinformed, reactionary cretins found under the rocks of the most remote caves in far away mountains. Rather than articulating their right wing agenda, they would shout and scream against Clinton and the Democrats. Rather than civil debate on the floor of the Congress, they would take every opportunity to demonstrate that they and only they were the vilest and the most vulgar. When President Clinton gave State of the Union addresses, Gingrich and Trent Lott would glower and scowl at the president. The United States Congress had transformed from an institution from where the work of the country and the issues facing the country were debated and discussed with dignity and sobriety into the TV studios of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones.

In 1996, Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News Network. In spite of its trademark “fair and balanced”, Fox News gave airtime to the far right. Bill O’Reilly replaced Rush Limbaugh as the leading propagandist. O’Reilly was not only a propagandist but a violent agitator at that. While one could chuckle ten years earlier listening to Bob Grant as he snarled: “Get off the air you creep!”, there wasn’t anything remotely amusing or funny about O’Reilly. While Bob Grant opposed the holiday honouring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and called him a “trouble maker”, O’Reilly openly called for the repeal of landmark civil rights laws. O’Reilly along with Limbaugh called for the repeal of Affirmative Action and other aspects of civil rights legislation. O’Reilly would threaten physical violence against guests who disagreed with him. O’Reilly is known to raise his hands and fists motioning to assault guests who had the temerity to disagree with him.

The Sibling Society

By 1996, the cultural, political and social climate had degenerated to the point that older intellectuals and artists became alarmed. In his 1996 book, The Sibling Society , the poet Robert Bly declared that the US was no longer a society of adults. Instead, it had regressed to a society of adolescents. He cited the examples above on television. He described Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress as adolescents. Where were the adults? How was it possible that politicians in their 40s and 50s behaved like teenagers in high school. He described the Democrats and Republicans as two high school arch football rivals. He wondered how it was possible during the president’s Sate of the Union Address that the leaders of the country would appear on national television without dignity. Bly warned that the TV programming was creating a nation of adolescent siblings who fought and competed with one another. Rather than a united country based on the common zeal of the community, American culture and politics had degenerated into high school. He warned that this would lead to fascism. He argued that fascism would arise out of conformity. He cited the Super Bowl as the biggest example of fascism. Everyone in the US is practically obliged to watch the Super Bowl regardless if they like football or not. If one is not watching it on TV, then one is an outcast. Bly noted the pressure to conform during adolescence. If one doesn’t conform, then one is outcast as a loser. It warning has come true.

The Far Right Seizes Power

Bly’s warning came true four years later with the Presidential election of 2000. The Republican candidate George W. Bush was the epitome of what Bly characterised as the adolescent. Bush was a candidate lacking any intellectual and communication skills. Meanwhile, his Democrat opponent Al Gore was dubbed Al Bore. It didn’t matter that he had much more experience than his opponent. The entire media, which had degenerated towards the successful Fox News format in order to compete for viewers and advertising revenue, reduced the election to a popularity concert. Rather than asking voters who they believed had a better understanding of the issues, the media asked who they would rather have beer with.

The night of the election was witness to some of the most remarkable events in American political history. Initially, the state of Florida had been projected to Gore by all the major networks based on exit polling. Gore was believed to have won the election. The Bush campaign took the unprecedented step denounce the projections as wrong. Bush went before the cameras and declared that he had won the election. He refused to concede defeat. The networks backed down and declared Florida too close to call. In the early hours of Wednesday, Fox News became the first network to call Florida for Bush, thereby declaring him the victor in the election.

Heading the decision desk, where the network reviewed vote totals and polls to arrive at projections, was John W. Ellis, a first cousin of George W. Bush. Ellis unilaterally called the election for Bush before any determination by the Voter News Service, the consortium of leading newspapers and television networks, after a 2 a.m. telephone discussion with Bush and his brother Jeb who was the sitting governor of Florida. Fox News had politically interfered in the election outcome

Over the next weeks, a legal challenge and recount was conducted in Florida. Angry lynch mobs of Republican supporters took to the streets. In the counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, Florida Republican officials and their mobs of supporters physically harassed and threatened election board members from meeting and recounting the ballots. The day after the Florida Supreme Court ordered the continuing recounting of votes, a mob of Bush supporters besieged the Miami-Dade County board of canvassers, grabbing a Democratic lawyer and threatening to assault those involved in manually recounting the ballots. A few hours later the Democratic-controlled board announced it was abandoning its recount. Eventually, the US Supreme Court suspended the recount of votes and effectively handed the election to Bush. American democracy had been hijacked.

The record of the Bush regime is well known and there’s no need to review them. The events of September 11, 2001 transformed the political and social landscape. Fox News led the jingoistic vitriol. It became acceptable to openly espouse hate speech against Arabs and Muslims. American society had been thoroughly militarized. Anyone that questioned Bush, the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq was denounced as a traitor, disloyal, unpatriotic and a terrorist. The 8 year reign of the Bush regime was the most violent in American history. Television and radio had dominated and set the political tone. The liberal media outlets such as the New York Times and National Public Radio had parroted the lies and propaganda of the Bush regime. Journalists such as Bill Moyers and Dan Rather were hounded out of their jobs by the screaming far right for being unpatriotic.

From the White House, the Pentagon and Justice Department down to the TV and radio studios of Fox News and ABC, madness reigned supreme. Lies, propaganda, violence and vitriol was had become part of the national fabric. Mass murder, genocide, plunder, torture and sadism was on practically every TV and radio station in the country. The venerable New York Times lost credibility after having been exposed for publishing fabrications and collaborating with the Bush White House in suppressing information about illegal wiretapping by the government.

By 2006, the vast majority of Americans had been sickened by the debasement of the country under the Republicans. The Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 and lost the White House in 2008. Billions of people within the US and the world celebrated the ousting of the Republicans and hoped that the US would return to humanity.

The Aftermath

Unfortunately, the political and social damaged had been done. The election of the first Black president emboldened the far right. Obama was denounced for not being a natural born American and for being a “communist” and “fascist”. 2009 saw a string of far right wing violence. In May of 2009, Dr, George Tiller, a physician who performed abortions in Wichita, Kansas was murdered by a fascist anti-abortionist. Like Congresswoman Giffords, Tiller had long been targeted by the far right wing. Dr. Tiller has survived multiple attempts on his life. His clinic had been bombed repeatedly. Jared Lee Loughner had also been known to espouse anti-abortion views. Loughner had insulted a woman in his community college class for a presentation about abortion she had presented.

Within a week of the murder of Dr. Tiller, a Neo-Nazi white supremacist went on a shooting rampage at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC killing a Black security guard. By the beginning of 2010, the Tea Party movement began its agitation.

Jared Lee Loughner was born and raised in the cultural political and social milieu over the past 20 years. He was ten years old during the stolen election of 2000. Like most American kids growing up during the 1990s, he was probably raised watching Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones. He was 9 years old during the Columbine school massacre. Loughner is a victim of the degenerate cultural and intellectual toxic swamp that the United States has become over the past 20 years. How many youth today are psychologically damaged from the political climate over the past 10 years? How possible could it be for anyone that grew up under the 8 years of Bush/Cheney and the regime of Fox News to be a stable person capable of making sound moral judgements? Loughner is as much a victim as he is a perpetrator of the sado-masochistic psychological violence that the United States has become.

Yes, the Republicans and propagandists such as Rupert Murdoch are to blame. The right wing movement is an ever growing and present danger and threat to the country. However, it would not be in the interest of fairness to lay the blame squarely on their shoulders. Liberals and the Democrats have failed to do their part to resist and undermine the efforts of the far right. This will be the subject of the third and final part of this series.

Global issues January 2011 News Non-Violence USA


“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 4th 1967

Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam-A Time To Break Silence is as applicable today, if not more so, as it was nearly 45 years ago when he gave it at Riverside Church in New York. Presently, the United States has been at war longer than at any other time throughout its history. The Afghan war has been waged for a decade without an end in sight. NATO has pushed back its deadline for withdrawal year after year with the never ending caveat “if ground conditions permit”.  More than 50,000 soldiers continue to occupy Iraq. More than 150,000 soldiers from more than 50 countries around the world fight a dirty colonial war in Afghanistan. While it’s true that these current wars started under George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress, it has been continued and expanded under the Democrats. The majority of Americans suffer from war fatigue. Twice within the past four years, the electorate voted to stop the wars but alas, the wars continue. President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have recently passed the largest military budget since the Second World War. As the United States commits unspeakable violence overseas, horrible violence plagues the country at home.


Where Are The Heroes?

Historically, the differences between American liberals and conservatives was more than differences in politics and policies. The most important differences lay within values. Liberals believed in social justice and true equality. Conservatives believed in hard justice and inequality. Liberals believed that all human beings deserve equal chances to prosper and lead lives of quality as conservatives believed that inequality was an inherent “human nature” and that attempts to reduce inequality was an undue burden on society. Liberals recognised socio-economic inequality while conservatives believed so such thing existed in the United States. Liberals through the Democratic Party believed that if the government lifted society from the bottom, the living standard would rise for everyone. Conservatives through the Republican Party believed that if government lifted society from the top, the living standard would rise for all.

The most striking display within the differences of values between liberals and conservatives were those they identified as heroes. For the liberal grand and great-grand parents of today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was their primary hero. Roosevelt is their hero because he attempted the ameriloate the negative impacts of the Great Depression through massive public work projects, employment and by introducing the welfare state through measures such as Social Security. For the conservative grand and great-grandparents of today, their hero is Dwight D. Eisenhower, the military general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during the Second World War. Though he warned of the “military industrial complex” at the end of his term, it was under his presidency that the US became increasingly militarized. Under his presidency, the CIA began its activities of overthrowing soverign democratic governments around the world and replacing them with brutal dictators. Eisenhower was the first US President to visit Fascist Spain and recognized General Franco.

For liberal baby boomers, they had plenty of heroes as they grew up. They had John F. and his brother Robert Kennedy, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Their conservative contemporaries had Barry GoldwaterRichard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The liberal heroes spoke of peace, an end to war and for social justice in equality. The conservative heroes spoke of war, law and order and moral values even though their actions and deeds were immoral.

However, for both the boomers and Generation X, they had one more hero than the liberals. They had Ronald Reagan. Reagan sought to undermine and roll back the gains of workers and minorities in the country. Reagan began the process of destroying all the programs and policies established to bring about social justice and equality in the country. Reagan held minorities and the poor with contempt. He demonized poor mothers on welfare as undeserving and lazy parasites. Reagan sent the military to overthrow the democratically elected government of Grenada. He sent war planes to assassinate Libyan leader Gaddafi killing his one year old child in the process.

The point is that American liberals proposed peace, justice and equality as American conservatives promoted war, militarism, injustice and inequality. After the assasination of Dr. King in 1968, American liberals seemed to run out of heroes. The last liberal hero, Jesse Jackson was co-opted and marginialised in 1988. Bill Clinton was never a liberal. Liberals tolerated Clinton simply because they had been demoralized after 12 years of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In 2004, a new liberal hero appeared to emerge in the person of Barack Obama. In 2008, he was elected to the presidency. Liberals had never been so excited and happy since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Perhaps after 40 years of conservative and centre-right politics, liberalism had returned? Instead, liberals find themselves disappointed with Obama. Obama, Joe Biden and others at the White House have expressed nothing but contempt for liberal values. Once  again liberals find themselves isolated and cannot see anyone on the horizon to restore their hope and confidence.

The conservatives have found new heroes and a new heroine. Unlike liberals they not only have heroes and heroines in politics but also in the media. Today, the Tea Party is the political home of today’s conservative heroes and they have plenty more on Fox News and talk radio. Liberals have become ashamed of and embarrassed by Obama. Their only heroes are now late night comic actors on Comedy Central. Those liberals with time on their hands to read call Noam Chomsky their hero. Liberals and progressives find themselves in an intellectual and moral morass.

Liberalism and War

The Democrats are often considered the party of peace and the Republicans the party of war. The historical record states otherwise. The United States entered both World Wars under liberal Democrat presidents. Woodrow Wilson promised peace and to stay out of the First World War when he ran for re-election in 1916 only to take the country to war one year later. Franklin Roosevelt ran a pacifist campaign in 1940, even while he was angling behind the years to get involved. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the convenient excuse FDR needed to enter the war.

Initially, John F. Kennedy was a war hawk. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Kennedy was quite keen to start nuclear war with Cuba and the USSR. Kennedy had an itchy finger over the red button. The crisis was averted and the world saved from the brink of destruction due to the intervention of the Canadian government. Kennedy was irate over Canada’s intervention and Kennedy made it clear during a State visit to Ottawa where he cursed out the entire cabinet of the government of Prime Minister Diefenbaker. On the other hand, Kennedy seemed to undergo a political transformation and clashed with the military brass and the CIA. Though not officially recognized, there’s been enough research, including the death bed confession of one his assassins, to indicate that Kennedy was killed by elements of the military industrial complex.

His successor Lyndon Baines Johnson is mostly remembered for his esclation of the Vietnam War. Declassified documents have revealed that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a hoax in order to justify a complete military intervention of the war. Among liberal and progressive anti-war activists the initials of the president became synonymous with war and murder. Though it was under Eisenhower that the US first became involved militarily in the Vietnam conflict and Kennedy had sent more military “assistance” to South Vietnam, it was Johnson who became most identified with the war. By 1967, Johnson had become hated amongst anti-war and civil rights activists.

It’s important to note that though FDR and LBJ led through countries into brutal warfare, they both introduced government programs to relieve poverty. Johnson launched the “War on Poverty“. As part of this “Great Society” program Medicare, the health insurance scheme for elderly retirees was introduced. It was under Johnson that both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were drafted and signed into law. This was always the fatal contradiction of American liberalism. One on hand, liberal Democrats advanced democracy, social justice and equality domestically while they went on imperliast military adventures abroad. Under Johnson, the CIA continued to overthrow democratic soverign governments from Brazil to Indonesia. The CIA even tried to overthrow the Canadian government of Lester Pearson for his efforts to reduce Cold War tensions. This is the fatal flaw and contradiction of American liberalism. One cannot advance social justice and equality at home while pursuing tyranny and inequality abroad. This is the cause of America’s moral, political and economic predicament today.

Clinton, Obama and The New Democrats

“Conservatives believe. Liberals lie.” The trends forecaster Gerald Celente made the preceding statement  a couple of weeks ago. Celente calls himself a political atheist which places him in an objective position to give political analysis. “Conservatives believe” in the lies spoon fed to them by Republican politicians and the talking heads on Fox. Conservatives really believe that Muslim terrorists “hate our freedoms”. They really believe that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.” Conservatives believe that the “War on Terror” is to really “bring democracy to the Middle East and Afghanistan.” Conservatives really believe that God is “punishing America for its immorality” of killing millions of unborn fetuses. The more fantastic, the more absurd and more preposterous the propaganda, conservatives will fall for it hook line and sinker.

Liberals on the other hand lie. During a Gary Null radio interview Celente elaborate: “They will never admit that they have been conned by the conman in chief, head of the presidential reality show. Liberals are intellectual enough to know they have been conned but don’t have the moral or spiritual strength to admit so.”

It’s sad to agree with Celente’s comment. Since taking office, President Obama’s foreign and war policy had matched and even exceeded that of George W. Bush. While Bush was in office, liberals protested and complained. However, when Obama has done the same or worse, there is a deafening silence from liberals. Obama’s award for the Nobel Peace Prize is a choice example. Obama received the prize less than a year of taking office and absent of any significant history of bringing peace to the world. When Bush was nominated for the peace prize was there consternation and explosive indignation that a war criminal could even be considered for the prize and rightfully he didn’t win it. Obama’s acceptance speech was his most vulgar public display to date. Obama stated that there would always be war and to think otherwise and to even stop war is to live in fantasy land. Obama stated that he was Commander-In-Chief of a nation at war. The rest of the address was bellicose in extreme. “We must begin by acknowledging a hard truth. We will not eradicate violent conflicts in our lifetimes.  There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” In the next breath Obama desecrated the legacies of King and Gandhi by stating that as the President of the United States, he could not act according to their ideals. Had Bush made the same speech, liberals would have stormed the White House and lynched him from a tree across the street in Lafayette Square. However, since it was Obama there wasn’t even a murmur of disapproval by liberals.

American liberals abhor capital punishment. Yet every Democrat presidential candidate since 1992 has supported it. During his tenure as governor of Texas, Bush executed more people than any other politician in American history. Texas competed with Iran and China for the top spot of state executions. Per capita, Bush executed more prisoners than any other chief executive in the world during his terms as governor. Liberals abhorred Bush during the 2000 election for that very reason.

But where was the same moral outrage when Bill Clinton, after the 1992 New Hampshire Primary, flew back to Arkansas to personally oversee the execution of a mentally retarded Black man? Liberals made all sorts of excuses for Clinton. He had to show he was “tough on crime” under George H.W. Bush pulled another Willie Horton as he did against Michael Dukakis in 1988.

How many times will liberals let the Democrats betray them before they do anything about it? Liberals believed that if they swept Republicans out of office during the 2006 Mid Term elections, they could achieve two purposes: Stop the wars and impeach Bush. The Democrats swept the Republicans out. Less than a week after the elections, incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ruled out impeachment proceedings against Bush. Liberals believed that if they couldn’t impeach Bush, Democrats would have the power to investigate Cheney, Rumsfeld and other officials in the Bush administration. The Democrats didn’t open a single probe. The wars could have ended in 2007 simply by cutting off the funding. The Democrats refused out of fear of being viewed as unpatriotic. They justified the continued funding of the wars claiming they were opposed the war but “supporting our troops.”

Not sensing reality, liberals placed all their efforts to electing Obama with his empty slogan of “change and hope you can believe in.” Many gays and lesbians voted for Obama as they were tired of the homophobic demagogy from the Christian far right. Obama, not wasting time to spit on his core base, assigned a right wing homophobic Christian fundamentalist pastor to give the inaugural invocation. Before Obama was sworn in, he assembled the most right wing, reactionary and Zionist members of the Democratic party to fill his cabinet.

Obama signed two executive orders on his first day to close Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to ban the practice of torture. Two years later Gitmo remains open. Torture is still practiced by the US military and intelligence agencies. Obama increased more troops to Afghanistan and expanded the war into PakistanPredator drone attacks have increased and killed more civilians than anytime under Bush. Why are the liberals silent? In 2010, Obama signs an executive order given him the exclusive right to assassinate American citizens who he, and only he determines to be a threat to “national security”. Imagine if Bush had signed the same executive order. Most recently, Obama is moving to have preventive and indefinite detention without trial. Habeas Corpus has been executed without a whimper from liberals.  800 years of Anglo-Saxon Common Law tossed in the rubbish sign with nothing more than a yawn from liberals.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the media, the Republican surge in 2010 wasn’t the results of a massive shift to the far right nor was it because Americans believed that the Democrats had governed too far to the left. The tens of millions of people who had voted from Obama in 2008 sat the election out as they no longer believed that the Democrats were any different from the Republicans.

“The Liberal Media”

As Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann explained thoroughly in “Manufacturing Consent”, the myth of “The Liberal Media” was a concoction of conservative ideologues in the 1980s in order to intimidate and force the mainstream media to give more attention and focus to right wing ideas. It’s true that the mainstream media up until the 1990s was less commercial than today. It’s also correct that the media used to do a bit more investigative reporting and report on issues of vital importance. It’s beyond the scope of this essay to give a full examination.

As presented in the second part of this series, the media landscape changed during the mid 1980s. As social inequality widened and the top earners got richer and corporations faced less regulation, the news media shifted with the country. What made the media “liberal” was the new technology of television during the 1950s and 60s. There was far less censorship than today. What made the Civil Rights Movement so effective was the images of peaceful Black protestors being brutalised by police dogs and fire hoses. The anti-war movement became powerful because people all over the world saw the horrors of Vietnam in their living room during dinner time. The TV cameras were present on the streets of Chicago as the police cracked open the skulls of unarmed peace activists during the Democratic National Convention of 1968. The cameras were live as they filmed Mayor Daley shouting “fuckers!” at anti-war protestors on the floor of the convention. Dan Rather was attacked by delegates on the convention floor and got into a scuffle live on TV.

Today if Martin Luther King had organised marches in Birmingham, none of the TV networks would have aired it. The local TV station would have used creative editing. The story would have been told by Bull Connor and the reporters would have repeated what he said and implied that the unarmed and peaceful protestors had “provoked” the police. Over the past decade there has been police brutality against peaceful protestors outside political conventions and international summits. These have all been ignored by the media or the official police version of events is presented. On February 15, 2003, hundreds of millions of people participated in the largest globally planned protest movement in human history. CNN didn’t mention it.

As Bush and Obama have gutted the constitution and committed crime, there wasn’t a single editorial or protest by the New York Times or the Washington Post. The newspapers and television networks consulted with the White House to edit the stories to present. Each new outrage produced silence, tepid criticism or even worse, support from the media. This has led to the rise of alternative and independent media. The growth of online news has increased by remains a drop in the ocean compared to the established newspapers.

Solutions for Progressives

It’s obvious that most liberals no longer care about issues of social justice. Liberalism is dead. Progressives need to organise and start anew. A new third party must be formed. This is evident yet somehow liberals are unable to break out of the straightjackets of masochism. “We can’t vote for a third party candidate because they can’t win.” Yes they can’t win when everyone says the same thing. Just imagine what would happen if everyone that made that statement actually voted for a third party candidate? What are the solutions?

I will cite one solution offered from Ralph Nader.  In a recent interview with Chris Hedges, Nader dared to say what no liberal has the courage nor nerve to state. Nader didn’t mince his words and they are notworthy:

“The more outrageous the Republicans become, the weaker the left becomes…The more outrageous they become, the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats.

“The left has nowhere to go. Obama knows it. The corporate Democrats know it. There will be criticism by the left of Obama this year and then next year they will all close ranks and say ‘Do you want Mitt Romney? Do you want Sarah Palin? Do you want Newt Gingrich?’ It’s very predictable. There will be a year of criticism and then it will all be muted. They don’t understand that even if they do not have any place to go, they ought to fake it. They should fake going somewhere else or staying home to increase the receptivity to their demands. But because they do not make any demands, they are complicit with corporate power. “Corporate power makes demands all the time…It pulls on the Democrats and the Republicans in one direction. By having this nowhere-to-go mentality and without insisting on demands as the price of your vote, or energy to get out the vote, they have reduced themselves to a cipher. They vote. The vote totals up. But it means nothing.

“Obama has the formula now,” Nader said. “You give the Republicans a lot of what they want. Many of them vote for you. You get your Democrat percentage. You weave a hybrid victory. That is what he learned in the lame-duck session. He gets praised as being a statesman and a leader and getting things done. Think of all the rewards he can contemplate while he is in Hawaii compared to what they were saying about him on Nov. 5. All the columnists and pundits say that now he can work with John Boehner. But once you take a broader view, it is the difference in the mph of corporatism. McCain is 50 miles per hour and Obama is 40 miles per hour. The left has disemboweled itself…It doesn’t even have a strategy every four years like a good poker player.”

On the topic of the right wing hegemony of the media, Nader had this to say:

“The so-called liberal media, along with Fox, is touting the tea party and publicizing Palin,” Nader said. “There was an editorial on Dec. 27 in The New York Times on the Repeal Amendment, the right-wing constitutional amendment to allow states to overturn federal law. The editorial writer at the end had the nerve to say there is no progressive champion. The editorial said that the liberals and progressives have faded out to let the tea party make history. And yet, for months, all The New York Times has done is promote Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. They promote Newt Gingrich and the neocons on the Op-Ed pages. The book pages of the newspaper ignore progressive authors and pump all the right-wing authors.

“If we don’t raise hell, we won’t get any media. If we don’t get any media, the perception will be that the tea party is the big deal.

“On one notorious Sunday, Oct. 10, two of The New York Times’ segments led with a big story about Ann Coulter and how she will change her strategy because she is being outflanked by others,” Nader said. “There was also a huge article on this anti-Semite against Arabs, this Islamaphobe, Pam Geller. Do you know how many pictures they had of Geller? Twenty on this front-page segment. The number of anti-war Op-Eds in The Washington Post over nine months in 2009 was 6-to-1 pro-war. We don’t raise hell. We don’t say Terry Gross is a censor. We don’t say that Charlie Rose is a censor. We have got to blast publicly. We have got to hammer them, because they are the tribune of right-wing fascist forces.

“Three thousand people rallied to protest the invasion and massacre in Gaza two years ago,” Nader said. “It was held four blocks from The Washington Post. It did not get a single paragraph. People should march over to the Post and say ‘Fuck you! What are you doing here? You cover every little blip by the right-wing and you don’t cover us?’

“They are afraid of the right-wing because the right-wing bellows, and they have become right-wing,” Nader said of the commercial press. “They have become fascinated by the bias of Fox. And they publicize what Fox is biased on. The coverage of O’Reilly and Beck and their fights is insane. In the heyday of coverage in the 1960s of what we were doing, it was always less than it should have been, but now it is almost zero. Why do we take this? Why do we accept this? Why isn’t Chris Hedges three times a year in the Op-Ed? Why is it always Paul Wolfowitz and Elliott Abrams and all these homicidal maniacs? Why are they there? Why is John Bolton constantly published in The Washington Post and The New York Times? Where is Andrew Bacevich? Bacevich told me he has had five straight Op-Eds rejected by the Post and the Times in the last two years. And he said he is not inclined to send anymore. How many times do you hear Hoover Institution? American Enterprise Institute? Manhattan Institute. These goddamned newspapers should be picketed.”

“How much more can the oppressed take before they revolt? And can they revolt without organizers? These are the two important questions. You have got to have organizers, and as of now we don’t.”


When will liberals stop being afraid to speak out against police brutality? How come the liberals in San Francisco are silent when Oscar Grant is executed in front of hundreds of witnesses on a subway platform and his killer is acquitted on murder charges? How long will it take for liberals to take a real stand against capital punishment? How is it possible that more people know of the case of Mumia Abul Jamal in London, Paris and Berlin than those in New York, Boston and San Francisco? When will liberals stop being afraid accused of “being soft on crime” or go out of their way to say that they always “support the police”? When will liberals stop being so blatantly selective about the issues they get vocal about? Liberals will march and protest about stolen elections in Iran and the lack of human rights in Tibet while being silent about stolen elections and human rights abuses at home. Have liberals become cowards? Have liberals perverted Dr. King’s policy of non-violence to the extreme that they don’t even bother showing up to protests for fear of being beaten and arrested for their convictions? Do liberals believe non-violence means the absence of fights and struggles?  Have liberals confused humility for meekness? Do liberals believe that they can try to talk rationally and intellectually with opponents who want to hurt them? Dr. King was a warrior. He didn’t beg nor plea with power for them to be nice. Dr. King was non-violent yet assertive. Dr. King was peaceful yet forceful. Most importantly, Dr King took responsibility for his inaction for speaking out against war earlier.

The only way to stop war is to acknowledge that one is in a war. Peace is the goal. But being anti-war doesn’t connote denying the reality of a war. The United States is at war at home and abroad. In order to stop the war abroad we must stop the war at home. We must stop the political war we are engaged in. We must stop the civil war that’s happening in every inner city district of the country. Regardless of whether certain liberals want to confront this reality or not, there is a war in the poorer darker pockets of American cities between the residents and the police. It’s a one sided war as the former are vastly out-gunned by the latter. We must stop the “War on Drugs.” The United States is the world’s largest prison with the vast majority of those incarcerated for low level non-violent drug offensives. Middle Class liberals must understand that being caught with a joint by the police is different than being a person caught with the same joint in Harlem or Hunters Point. There is an information war. Liberals must wake up and confront the reality of daily systematic violence afflicting large segments of the population. War is on television. War is in the schools of the nation. War is on the streets of the nation. There’s a global economic war. There is economic warfare in the country.

Liberals have been complicit in the current state of affairs. George W. Bush has published and book and has appeared on national TV admitting that he engaged in torture and would do it again. The Bush regime know that after 2 years of Democratic rule without criminal investigations opened or charges pressed, they are confident that they can do it again. Obama is breaking both US and International law by refusing to bring the Bush regime to justice. “Looking forward and not looking back” is nothing less than averting one’s eyes. Over the past 25 years, liberals have averted their eyes to injustice or have pretended not to notice. Worse, many liberals simply don’t care. Out of sight, out of mind appears to be the predominate trend for American liberals be it to injustice at home and abroad. From this arise the following questions which American liberals and progressives must answer.

Are we going to give up and hand over all the economic, social and political rights we gained over centuries of struggle? Remember the millions before us that died so that we can live in peace and prosperity. Are you going to give up more than 200 years of Enlightenment with all the advances in philosophy, politics and science to a well-funded and organised band of ignoramuses that want to take us back to feudalism? If you answer no to any of these questions, then you have no other choice but to rise, stand up and fight. If we don’t fight now we will lose our liberal freedoms and social justice for decades if not centuries to come. We have a choice. Time is running out.

January 2011 News Racism USA


No American state has received as much negative publicity over the past 20 year as Arizona has. The last time a state received as much derision was Mississippi back during the 1960s. In the post-civil rights era, Arizona alone has surpassed the entire Deep South for having a government and populace contemptuous of civil and human rights. In less than a span of one year Arizona has been the centre of legal and political controversy. From its xenophobic anti-immigrant laws up to this month’s political assassination attempt of Congresswoman Giffords, Arizona has been branded as  a region of social backwardness and reaction. This begs the question why? What is wrong with Arizona?


Frontier State

This southwestern state west of the Rockies is less than 100 years old as a US state. It’s the 48th State admitted into the Union and the last of the mainland states to have joined. Because of it’s relatively young age as a state, its social and cultural development has lagged behind the rest of the country. The primary reason for this is due to its geography. Arizona is mostly desert. Both practically and metaphorically speaking, Arizona is a vast desert in the United States. Even it’s geography is contradictory as 27% of the land is forest.

The area received the first European explorers with the Spaniards at the end of the 16th century and was subsequently colonised by Spain. Due to its remoteness from the seas and being a landlocked desert, it was sparsely populated by European settlers and their descendants. Most of the inhabitants of the region were indigenous people with the NavajoHopi and Apache being the three largest groups. Arizona has the largest American Indian population of any state of the US. After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, most of the southwest from Texas to California became part of Mexico. After the Mexican-American War of 1847, the US snatched control of all the territories of Texas and Nueva California. During the Civil War, Arizona had joined the Confederacy as a territoryThe reason why Arizona achieved statehood late was due to the Democrats in the territory legislature that wanted statehood to coincide with the anniversary of joining the confederacy.

Arizona remained sparsely populated until the end of the Second World War. After Florida, it became the choice state for elderly retirees. Phoenix, the state capital and seat of Maricopa County, remained barely more than a small provincial city up in the 1970s. Like many other cities in the “sunbelt”, such as Atlanta and Dallas, it experienced a population boom of migrants from the Northeast and Mid-West. The city expanded exponentially out into the desert. As the population expanded, so too did big business. Scores of new skyscrapers were erected. Unlike the older cities on the Eastern seaboard, its expansion wasn’t hindered by estuaries, bays and oceans. Phoenix became typical of post-industrial sprawl with a central business district and suburban residential areas.

Issues of Diversity

Given its history as a former colony of Spain and being a territory of Mexico, Arizona has long had a large Hispanic population. As mentioned above, Arizona has a significant American Indian population. (Upon seeing a recent documentary on Russell Means, in which he states his preference for the use of “American Indian” over “Native American”, the former will be used for this essay.) Latinos make up 30% of the population yet have very little social and cultural visibility and their political influence is weak in proportion to their numbers. American Indians are even more deprived as most of them live on Reservations where they lack all civil, legal and constitutional protections and rights. According to Russell Means, American Indian Reservations are to this day classified by the Pentagon as “Prisoner of War Camps”. Despite having the highest population of American Indians in any state, the percentage is only 4.5%. Even more surprising for a midsized American state in 21st Century US is the near absence of Blacks and Asians. Individually there are fewer Blacks and Asians than there are American Indians with 3.4% and 2.3%.respectively.

It was the lack of sensitivity to issues of diversity and of concern for civil rights, which first brought negative controversy to the State of Arizona. Along with New Hampshire, Arizona did not recognise the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S. Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, John McCain voted against the measure, though he later he did support the measure to pass on a referendum voted on by state residents in 1990. This measure failed the pass. The failure to recognise Dr. King’s holiday brought national condemnation. The controversy spread internationally when the rap group Public Enemy released the song and video “By The Time I Get To Arizona“. Many Arizonans were defiant and perplexed by the national outcry. Many of them pointed out the fact that since the Black population was negligible, there wasn’t a need to have a “Black holiday” in the state. However, given the history of Arizona’s support and attachment to the Confederacy, one logically concludes that Arizona would not only have kept racial segregation but slavery as well.

Field Journey

In August of 1994, I along with another French artist travelled to Arizona. We had been invited to attend the World Unity Festival which was held outside of Flagstaff in the North of the state. As our plane descended into Phoenix Sky Harbor airport just before sunset, we fly through a heavy haze of smog which was unexpected. From my position, I was unable to see any signs of human habitation on the ground. I saw some mountains and the desert but I not any homes or other indications of human settlement.  This fuelled my perplexity as to the source and reason for such heavy pollution.

Upon landing, we took a limousine Downtown. I was to see the strangest sites my 22 year old eyes had ever witnessed. The highway we drove along had 6 lanes in each direction. As a native New Yorker, I had never before seen a 12 lane highway. Robert Moses, with his grandiose mind and proclivity for monumentalism has only designed 6 land Expressways with 3 lanes in each direction. What made the experience all the weirder was the emptiness of the highway. There were hardly any cars anywhere. Why were there 12 lanes for such little traffic? It was shortly after 7 o’clock on a Thursday evening. In New York, the highways are still packed like fat rats at 7 0′clock on an evening workday.

The first truly surreal sight to behold was Downtown Phoenix. Then suddenly, while driving along a deserted 12 lane highway in the middle of a flat empty desert, there appeared a shiny metropolis with sparkling blinking skyscrapers. It really appeared as a mirage in the desert. The last thing one expects to find in the middle of a desert is a post-modern metropolis. We were suddenly out of the desert and racing through wide tunnels with high ceilings, thrust in the canyons of glass and plastic. We turned off the highway and were driving through Downtown. The streets were deserted. Nary another car drove on the streets and not a living soul walking around. Phoenix was silent. Or at least, it seemed so at first.

Our driver asked us where we wanted to go. My companion and I were exhausted from the 7 hours of flying travel we had endured including a layover in Pittsburgh. We had thought about staying the night in Phoenix but neither my companion nor I got the good sense about Phoenix and instructed our driver to take us to the bus terminal. We were keen to get out of that city as quickly as possible.

At the bus terminal, we were informed that we had just missed the bus which departed for Flagstaff. The next bus was scheduled to leave at 3:30AM. We stepped outside to smoke cigarettes. The city was still. Not the zen stillness of nature in the forest or mountains but rather an unnatural stillness. The stillness made me unsettled. That wasn’t all. The city was wasn’t silent per se. I heard a high frequency pitch in my ear. I ignored it at first thinking it was an auditory hallucination. However, it wouldn’t go away. My companion and I locked eyes. “Do you feel it?” She asked. “Yes,” I replied and then asked her: “Do you hear it?” She replied in affirmative. We realised that we had to get out of Phoenix as soon as possible. We thought of alternatives to get out quickly. I considered the train but given that we were in a provincial city in the middle of the desert, it was a long shot. She went in to ask for directions to the train station and to obtain information about transportation out of the city.

There were only Black people at the bus terminal. There weren’t people of any other colour around. The stillness of the atmosphere began to choke me. I observed the Black men sitting around. I have seen down and out Blacks in HarlemThe Bronx and West Philadelphia but there was something special and unique about the particular disposition of these men. Usually Black men are very lively. Conversations, jokes and laughter are usually heard among Black men on the East Coast. These men were silent. Moreover, they seemed afraid to speak. I made eye contact with one middle aged man. I saw fear. It was fear I had never known. A fear that I had never seen. A fear which I didn’t want to know. I looked at the other men and they all had the same fear. Then it struck me what it was. It was the same fear which permeated in Germany during the 1930s. It was the same fear and silence which reigned over Central and Eastern Europe after the Second World War. It was beyond fear. It was terror. A terror that only a totalitarian social system could produce. Instantly I knew that this was even worse than that. I was in a high-tech totalitarian system of terror. That high frequency pitch was a part of it. We had to get out of Phoenix and fast!

At that moment a taxi drove past with the words Quick Silver on its side. The driver asked if anyone needed a ride. My companion returned and reported that there was no way out of town until the bus at 3:30AM. We then negotiated a fair price with the taxi driver for a ride to Flagstaff.  Before we left Phoenix, he stopped by his home. He invited inside where his 5 dogs were sitting in front watching the television with the lights out. When we left, I suggested that he turn off the TV. “No. I always keep it on. The dogs like to watch TV.” Even the animals are under Thought Control in Phoenix.

As we drove North on the interstate out of Phoenix, I noticed a large compound next to the highway. It was surrounded with barbed wire and fences. The first thought that came to my mind was a concentration camp. I pointed my companion to it. We asked the driver what that was. He informed us that it was a prison for children between 7 to 15 years of age.

On the road the driver and his friend whom he enlisted as a co-pilot rolled a couple of spliffs. Just before entering Flagstaff, they become nervous. The driver spoke with the utmost alarm. “We’re almost at Flagstaff! Put out the joint! Put it out! We can’t be smoking in Flagstaff!” I was rather curious as to why they were suddenly so afraid. I found out why minutes later. After we crossed the city line into Flagstaff I observed police brutality. On the other side of the highway, a police officer was thrashing a motorist within an inch of his life.

Global issues Israel January 2011 Palestine


This book documents Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, and explains how Gazans withstood siege and war and refused to give up the right to determine their own lives. Gaza’s courage inspired a worldwide solidarity movement determined to break the blockade and deliver aid. This book exposes the role of the major powers, especially the U.S., to support the Israeli blockade. It is the most comprehensive book out in English providing a full and lively narrative of recent events in Gaza, with excerpts from the UN’s Goldstone Report and eyewitness testimony from participants in three Viva Palestina convoys, which broke the blockade and delivered aid to Gaza. It gives voice to Palestinian forces, including Hamas, and includes statements from Jewish people opposing the torture of Gaza.
Gaza: Symbol of Resistance is all ready to go to press, But it can only be published with your help.


Ramsey Clark leads Solidarity delegation in Gaza visit two years after Israeli assault

International human rights activist Ramsey Clark led a delegation that, after a day-long struggle for admission, crossed into Gaza on Jan. 4 to show solidarity with the blockaded population of the strip. Two years ago the Israeli military invaded and bombed Gaza two years ago, killing 1,450 Palestinians, almost all civilians, including many children. Among those with Clark is Co-director of the International Action Center Sara Flounders. Both are veteran solidarity activists with the struggle of Palestinians for self-determination and the right to live in peace and freedom in every part of Palestine..

The solidarity trip’s importance is underlined by the Israeli military’s threats to launch a new invasion. Israeli planes have aggressively attacked inside Gaza on Dec. 18, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. The courage the Palestinians of Gaza showed confronting that assault has made Gaza a symbol of the determination of all Palestinians, whether in Gaza, the West Bank or in the Diaspora, to free their country.

The movement of solidarity with the people of Gaza has grown rapidly since the Dec. 27, 2008, bombing and invasion of Gaza. The ongoing Israeli blockade of the 1.5 million people living in the small territory and the continued Israeli threats have accelerated this movement’s growth. Behind this development is not only the exposure of the crimes of the Israeli occupation regime, but also the courage of Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank who keep on struggling against all odds.

Many young people and also older activists have organized aid delegations by land caravans and sea flotillas that bring material assistance to Gaza. Currently the Asian aid ship Salam, which started in India, is making its way toward Gaza, tracked by two Israeli warships. The caravan called Asia 1 entered Gaza yesterday. The new understanding of the oppressive character of the Israeli state has also given rise to the struggle for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” against the regime there and in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

“All these actions are part of a global movement,” said Flounders, but “even more must be done. It is especially urgent at this time to speak out, write, demonstrate and take all kinds of actions in every possible way in defense of the still blockaded territory of Gaza. That Israel outrageously continues to bomb and Israeli officials talk openly of a new offensive call for a determined response.”

Flounders also called attention to the solidarity activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and other Midwestern cities who the FBI has targeted, subpoenaing them to appear before a Chicago grand jury: “The efforts by the U.S. government and its repressive forces to shut down solidarity with the heroic Palestinian struggle must be met by ever stronger solidarity actions.”

The delegation will be visiting with representatives of the Palestinian people in Gaza and to see the situation on the ground there. They plan to speak at public meetings when they return to the United States — which should be the second week of January — and to help bring the truth about Gaza to the people of the United States.

Clark was the U.S. attorney general during the Lyndon Johnson administration in 1967-68. He will take part in the first such meeting, scheduled for Jan. 12 at 55 W. 17th Street at 7 p.m. in New York, which will coincide with a release of the new book.

Haiti January 2011


A look back of the state of affairs in Haiti from the first black republic to today. Collection of video explaining the current state of affairs in Haiti. Haiti is currently suffering from with rampant cholera and over 800,000 Haitian living in tent cities as result of devastating earthquake.

Haiti January 2011 USA


One year after an earthquake devastated Haiti, much  of the promised relief and reconstruction aid has not reached those  most in need. In fact, the nation’s tragedy has served as an opportunity  to further enrich corporate interests.The details of a recent lawsuit, as reported by  Business Week, highlights the ways in which contractors – including some  of the same players who profited from Hurricane Katrina-related  reconstruction – have continued to use their political connections to  gain profits from others’ suffering, receiving contacts worth tens of  millions of dollars while the Haitian people receive pennies, at best.  It also demonstrates ways in which charity and development efforts have  mirrored and contributed to corporate abuses.Lewis Lucke, a 27-year veteran of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was named US special coordinator for relief and reconstruction after the earthquake. He worked this job for a few months, then immediately moved to the private sector, where he could sell his contacts and connections to the highest bidder. He quickly got a $30,000-a-month (plus bonuses) contract with the Haiti Recovery Group (HRG).

HRG was founded by Ashbritt, Inc., a Florida-based contractor who had received acres of bad press for their post-Katrina contracting. Ashbritt’s partner in HRG is Gilbert Bigio, a wealthy Haitian businessman with close ties to the Israeli military. Bigio made a fortune during the corrupt Duvalier regime and was a supporter of the right-wing coup against Haitian President Aristide.

Although Lucke received $60,000 for two months work, he is suing because he says he is owed an additional $500,000 for the more than 20 million dollars in contracts he helped HRG obtain during that time.

As Corpwatch has reported, Ashbritt “has enjoyed meteoric growth since it won its first big debris removal subcontract from none other than Halliburton, to help clean up after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.” In 1999, the company also faced allegations of double billing for $765,000 from the Broward County, Florida, school board for cleanup done in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.

Ashbritt CEO Randal Perkins is a major donor to Republican causes and hired Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s firm, as well as former US Army Corp of Engineers official Mike Parker, as lobbyists. As a reward for his political connections, Ashbritt won 900 million dollars in Post-Katrina contracts, helping them to become the poster child for political corruption in the world of disaster profiteering, even triggering a Congressional investigation focusing on their buying of influence. MSNBC reported in early 2006 that criticism of Ashbritt “can be heard in virtually every coastal community between Alabama and Texas.”

The contracts given to Bush cronies like Ashbritt resulted in local and minority-owned companies losing out on reconstruction work. As Multinational Monitor noted shortly after Katrina, “by turning the contracting process over to prime contractors like Ashbritt, the Corps and FEMA have effectively privatized the enforcement of Federal Acquisition Regulations and disaster relief laws such as the Stafford Act, which require contracting officials to prioritize local businesses and give 5 percent of contracts to minority-owned businesses. As a result … early reports suggest that over 90 percent of the $2 billion in initial contracts was awarded to companies based outside of the three primary affected states and that minority businesses received just 1.5 percent of the first $1.6 billion.”

Alex Dupuy, writing in The Washington Post, reported a similar pattern in Haiti, noting, “of the more than 1,500 US contracts doled out worth $267 million, only 20, worth $4.3 million, have gone to Haitian firms. The rest have gone to US firms, which almost exclusively use US suppliers. Although these foreign contractors employ Haitians, mostly on a cash-for-work basis, the bulk of the money and profits are reinvested in the United States.” The same article notes, “less than 10 percent of the $9 billion pledged by foreign donors has been delivered and not all of that money has been spent. Other than rebuilding the international airport and clearing the principal urban arteries of rubble, no major infrastructure rebuilding – roads, ports, housing, communications – has begun.”

The disaster profiteering exemplified by Ashbritt is not just the result of quick decision making in the midst of a crisis. These contracts are awarded as part of a corporate agenda that sees disaster as an opportunity and as a tool for furthering policies that would not be possible in other times. Naomi Klein exposed evidence that, within 24 hours of the earthquake, the influential, right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation was already laying plans to use the disaster as an attempt at further privatization of the country’s economy.

Relief and recovery efforts, led by the US military, have also brought a further militarization of relief and criminalization of survivors. Haiti and Katrina also served as staging grounds for increased involvement of mercenaries in reconstruction efforts. As one Blackwater mercenary told Scahill when he visited New Orleans in the days after Katrina, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”

And it’s not just corporations who have been guilty of profiting from Haitian suffering. A recent report from the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) describes a “significant lack of transparency in the disaster-relief/aid community,” and finds that many relief organizations have left donations for Haiti in their bank accounts, earning interest rather than helping the people of Haiti. DAP Director Ben Smilowitz notes, “the fact that nearly half of the donated dollars still sit in the bank accounts of relief and aid groups does not match the urgency of their own fundraising and marketing efforts and donors’ intentions, nor does it covey the urgency of the situation on the ground.”

Haitian poet and human rights lawyer Ezili Dantò has written, “Haiti’s poverty began with a US/Euro trade embargo after its independence, continued with the Independence Debt to France and ecclesiastical and financial colonialism. Moreover, in more recent times, the uses of US foreign aid, as administered through USAID in Haiti, basically serves to fuel conflicts and covertly promote US corporate interests to the detriment of democracy and Haitian health, liberty, sovereignty, social justice and political freedoms. USAID projects have been at the frontlines of orchestrating undemocratic behavior, bringing underdevelopment, coup d’etat, impunity of the Haitian Oligarchy, indefinite incarceration of dissenters and destroying Haiti’s food sovereignty essentially promoting famine.”

Since before the earthquake, Haiti has been a victim of many of those who have claimed they are there to help. Until we address this fundamental issue of corporate profiteering masquerading as aid and development, the nation will remain mired in poverty. And future disasters, wherever they occur, will lead to similar injustices.

Resources Mentioned in Article:

Business Week: “Ex-US official sues contractor in Haiti for fees”

CorpWatch report on Debris Removal

MSNBC report on Ashbritt

Multinational Monitor report on Crony Contracting

The Washington Post: “One year after the earthquake, foreign help is actually hurting Haiti”

Report from Disaster Accountability Project

Other Resources:

Louisiana Justice Institute

Justice Roars

Left Turn Magazine

Censorship Chaina January 2011


It is well known that online content providers in China have to follow censorship instructions from various government authorities. However, with the rise of private public relation company, there is an increasing censorship pressure from the private sector. Some of them pay the websites to delete content, some retreat to hacking.
On January 26 2011, published an open letter to its users informing them that the website was hacked after they had refused to delete an article. The hacker contacted via QQ chat on 25 of January and demanded the website to delete an open letter posted on August 16 2006 written by two professors from Xiamen University Accounting Department accusing the department head, Chen Hanwen, for academic corruption. Below is a translation of conversation in the QQ chat room:

Judge 12:22:46
So you can’t delete the post for me, right?
Bokee Service 12:23:52
I am sorry, I can’t help you.
Judge 12:24:54
My only choice is to create a shield.
Bokee Service: 12:25:41
Judge: 12:25:36
If your website has function problem, contact me.
Judge: 12:33:44
I have created a shield for data transfer. It will probably affect your website’s function. If you delete the article for me, I will remove the shield.

Judge 13:51:07 Help me to delete this article and everything will be OK.
Judge 13:54:14
I have built the shield around bokee.
Bokee Service 13:54:55
Hi, can you explain why you and your client Mr Chen need to remove this article so urgently?
Judge 13:54:54
Remove it first and we can talk about it.

Judge 17:20:35
Am here
Bokee Service 17:22:31
The attack is still going on?
Bokee Service 17:26:56
Please stop the attack on and Such behavior is illegal. We have recorded your attack. If you don’t stop, we will announce the date and your client and report to the police and government security department.
Judge 17:27:55
You can insist not deleting
Judge 17:28:08
Am busy.
Bokee Service17:32:39
If you don’t stop, we will report on Chen Hanwen and your hacking
Judge 17:33:01
Ha Ha
Judge 17:33:23
I know that you will do this, and fortunately I have prepared for it.
Judge 17:33:38
Announce it as you like
Judge 17:34:38
Busy, Offline

The attack went on from 1pm to 6pm on 25 of January. It is a mixture of DDos and SYN attack with fake IPs. BlogChina has reported the case to local police.

According to Baidu search result, the article has been circulated in many websites, but most of the posts have been deleted. and XYS.orgremain the only two exceptions for keeping the content online.

Africa Censorship Iran January 2011


Internet Security Savvy is Critical as Egyptian Government Blocks Websites, Arrests Activists in Response to Continued Protest. As we’ve seen in Iran and Tunisia, social networking tools have given activists in authoritarian regimes a powerful voice, which can be heard well beyond their own country. But the use of social networking tools has also given their governments ways to identify and retaliate against them. This week we are watching the same dynamic play out in Egypt. This is why it is critical that all activists —in Egypt and elsewhere—take precautions to protect their anonymity and freedom of expression. The protests in Egypt this week also highlight another important point: authoritarian governments can block access to social media websites, but determined, tech-savvy activists are likely to find ways to circumvent censorship to communicate with the rest of the world.

In an attempt to clamp down on Egyptian protesters, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government is intermittently blocking websites and arrestingbloggers, journalists, and dissidents. Like the Tunisians, Egyptian protesters have made heavy use of social media websites to share information about the protests with the outside world and with each other. In spite of the Egyptian government’s blocking of Twitter, tweets from the Egyptian protests in Suez and Cairo provided up-to-the-minute reports about protest activity, the movements of police, deaths and injuries, links to photos on Twitpic, and videos on YouTube. Cooperation amongst protesting citizens has kept communications resilient so far. When protestors in Cario’s Tahir Square experienced an outage in cell phone data service, nearby residentsreportedly opened their home Wi-Fii networks to allow protesters to get online.

On the first day of protests, the Egyptian government blocked several websites, including Twitter and Bambuser, a Swedish website which allows users to stream live video from their cell phones. By the second day, the government’s blocking of Twitter was sparse and intermittent, but there were reports of blocking Facebook and YouTube. It is unclear whether or not the Egyptian government will continue to expand its list of blocked sites in the coming days. Even the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was conspicuously silent during the protests leading up to the Tunisian revolution, has called on the Mubarak government to respect freedom of expression and urged them “not to…block communications, including on social media sites.”

The other dangerous aspect of the Mubarak government’s shameful campaign of silence and censorship has been the arrest and detention of bloggers, journalists, and activists. The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that the Egyptian government has shut down at least two independent news websites: Al-Dustour and El-Badil. Police beat Al-Jazeeracorrespondent Mustafa Kafifi and Guardian reporter Jack Shenker, who posted an audio recording of the incident. Policemen have attacked and arrested cameramen covering the protests and onlookers recording the protests with cell phones.

Egypt is no stranger to the arrest of bloggers. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amerwas sentenced to four years in prison for “disparaging religion” and “defaming the president” in 2007. In 2009, web forum founder Karim Al-Bukheiri was arrested, tortured, and subject to constant government surveillance. Just last year, the Islamic Human Rights Foundation reported that Egyptian Security Forces arrested “at least 29 activists, including bloggers, lawyers, and human rights activists.” The concern here is clear—if the street protests subside, the Mubarak government could initiate a campaign of retaliation and oppression, arresting and harassing the very bloggers and activists who have been chronicling the protests online. Some countries have gone even further. In Iran two opposition activists werehanged this week for taking pictures and video of the Green Revolution protests and posting them online.

Given the potential dangers, it is absolutely critical that Egyptian protesters take precautions when communicating online. To reiterate, social networking tools have given activists a powerful voice, which can be heard well beyond Egypt, but activists should also remember that the Egyptian government could use these same tools to identify and retaliate against them. We recommend that political activists look at our Surveillance Self Defense International report for information on how to use technology defensively to better protect their anonymity and freedom of expression in Egypt and other authoritarian regimes.

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