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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Climate Change: Scientists Warn It May Be Too Late to Save the Ice Caps by David Adam


A critical meltdown of ice sheets and severe sea level rise could be inevitable because of global warming, the world's scientists are preparing to warn their governments. New studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a UN expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss "may no longer be avoided" because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Such melting would raise sea levels by four to six metres, the scientists say. It would cause "major changes in coastline and inundation of low-lying areas" and require "costly and challenging" efforts to move millions of people and infrastructure from vulnerable areas. The previous official line, issued in 2001, was that the chance of such an event was "not well known, but probably very low".

The melting process could take centuries, but increased warming caused by a failure to cut emissions would accelerate the ice sheets' demise, and give nations less time to adapt to the consequences. Areas such as the Maldives would be swamped and low-lying countries such as the Netherlands and Bangladesh, as well as coastal cities including London, New York and Tokyo, would face critical flooding.

The warning appears in a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the likely impacts of global warming and will be published in April. A final draft of the report's summary-for-policymakers chapter, obtained by the Guardian, says: "Very large sea level rises that would result from widespread deglaciation of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets imply major changes in coastlines and inundation of low-lying areas, with greatest effects in river deltas.

"Relocating populations, economic activity and infrastructure would be costly and challenging. There is medium confidence that both ice sheets would be committed to partial deglaciation for a global average temperature increase greater than 1-2C, causing sea level rise of 4-6m over centuries to millennia." Medium confidence means about a five in 10 chance.

The revelation comes as a new report points out that greenhouse gas emissions running into hundreds of millions of tonnes have not been disclosed by Britain's biggest businesses, masking the full extent of the UK's contribution to global warming. According to a report by Christian Aid, only 16 of Britain's top 100 listed companies are meeting the government's most elementary reporting guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, almost 200m tonnes of damaging CO2 is estimated to be missing from the annual reports of FTSE 100 companies. The figure is more than the annual reported emissions of Pakistan and Greece combined.

This month the IPCC published a separate study on the science of climate change, which concluded that humans are "very likely" to be responsible for most of the recent warming, and that average temperatures would probably increase by 4C this century if emissions continue to rise. Even under its most optimistic scenario, based on a declining world population and a rapid switch to clean technology, temperatures are still likely to rise by 1.8C.

The new report is expected to say this means there is "a significant probability that some large-scale events (eg deglaciation of major ice sheets) may no longer be avoided due to historical greenhouse gas emissions and the inertia of the climate system". Scientists involved with the IPCC process cannot talk publicly about its contents before publication. But a senior author on the report said: "It's not rocket science to realise that with the numbers coming out from the IPCC [science report], the warming by the end of the century is enough to do that." The report's conclusion poses a conundrum for governments of how to address a problem that is inevitable but may not occur for hundreds or thousands of years. "That's for the policy makers to decide but it really is a very difficult question," the source said. "Those are moral questions and the answer you give will depend very much on which part of the world you live in."

Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, said the key question was not whether the ice sheets would break up, but how quickly. Some models suggest rapid melting that would bring sea level rises of more than a metre per century. "That would be much harder for us to cope with," he says.

The IPCC science report predicted sea level rises of up to 0.59m by the end of the century. But that does not include the possible contribution from ice sheets, because the experts judged it too unpredictable to forecast over short timescales.

Published on Monday, February 19, 2007 by the Guardian / UK

Chain Up Cheney! Free David Hicks! by Tony Iltis


On February 16, ABC News featured the US military prosecutor Colonel Morris Davis vilifying Adelaide father of two David Hicks as a war criminal. Davis would not specify when Hicks would be brought before a military tribunal of the type that was ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court last June but reinstituted by Congress a few months later.

Hicks has been held mostly in solitary confinement in the US concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay for five years and subjected to regular physical and psychological torture. He has been demonised by US President George Bush as one of the “worst of the worst” and Prime Minister John Howard as being guilty of serious offences. So much for the presumption of innocence.

The legally dubious rules of the military tribunals and the conditions under which Hicks is being held make the case for the defence impossible. Hicks’s Australian defence lawyer, David McLeod, has described the military tribunals as being set up so as to find defendants guilty.

The onus of proof is on the defence. Furthermore, the prosecution does not have to produce witnesses and can submit hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations as fact. In the best traditions of the medieval Inquisition, it can also submit, as fact, confessions extracted by torture.

When the US Act of Congress reestablishing the tribunals was passed, the establishment media made much of an anti-torture clause. However this order defines torture extremely narrowly, and specifically allows evidence obtained by various forms of physical and psychological torture that would not fall outside a dictionary definition of the term.

Hicks has been beaten, spent months in solitary confinement without seeing daylight (and even more time only seeing it for 15 minutes a week), suffered sleep deprivation, been subjected to extreme heat and cold, been denied visitors (often including his lawyers), been punished for visits, had visits from US intelligence officials posing as lawyers and human rights workers (probably with the collaboration of Australian consular staff), had letters from family members censored to remove words of affection and, most recently, been taunted with pictures of Saddam Hussein’s execution.

Posters depicting the execution specifically warn Guantanamo Bay inmates that this is the risk of not cooperating with their captors. Furthermore, evidence obtained by any form of torture before December 30, 2005 is permissible.

Despite one of Hicks’s “serious offences” being attempted murder, Davis has admitted that Hicks never fired a shot at anyone. The charge is based upon a conjecture of what Hicks might have done in Afghanistan in 2001 to hypothetical members of the US-led multinational invasion force in a situation that never took place.

“They made that one up”, Hicks’s US military defence lawyer Major Michael Mori told ABC TV in August 2006. Davis told ABC Radio on February 16 that Hicks’s other war crimes included learning how to wear disguises and covertly take photographs.

The US has acceded to requests from other Western allies for their prisoners in Guantanamo to be released. However, the Howard government’s penchant for public displays of servility to the US has meant that Australia has insisted that Hicks must face trial in Guantanamo Bay. As it is Cuban territory illegally occupied by the US military since 1901, Guantanamo Bay is not subject to the laws of any nation.

Howard, his attorney-general Philip Ruddock and foreign minister Alexander Downer have insisted that the arbitrarily created rules of the military tribunals will guarantee Hicks a fair trial. At the same time, they argue that it would be wrong to return him to Australia because there is no basis to charge him under any Australian law!

Mori has suggested that the Australian government is happy for the US to do its dirty work. Howard is accomplished at using the racist hysteria and fear created by “war on terror” hype to political advantage. Australian politicians and corporate media vie with their US counterparts to paint Hicks as a dangerous prisoner of an everlasting war who, if released before this eternal conflict ends, will bring violent catastrophe to Australia.

However, this surreal story could backfire. The images of a broken Hicks, hog-tied to a chair and dressed in the prisoner’s uniform of orange overalls, has galvanised nation-wide support for him. Thousands of Australians rallied in December for Hicks’s release and solidarity actions have continued this year.

Sacrificing Hicks is part of Howard’s strategy of gaining the benefits of being a loyal ally to the world’s global imperialist power while avoiding the military casualties that have fuelled the anti-war movements in the US and Britain. While Australia’s commitment to the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq may be of little significance militarily, acts of politically symbolic servility are a significant contributor to the US’s unconvincing charade of acting on behalf of “the world community”.

While Hicks — who has not been accused of causing injury or death to any actual person — is incarcerated, those responsible for brutal wars of conquest in which millions have died are free to continue to wage their “war on terror”.

For Howard, this week’s visit by US Vice-President Dick Cheney is a perfect opportunity for some high visibility displays of servile mateship.

Cheney is not only Hicks’s jailer, he is a war criminal whose body count rivals those of Pol Pot and Henry Kissinger.

In the Gulf War of 1991, as secretary of defense in the Bush senior administration, Cheney played a key part in planning the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water, electrical, sewage, transport and food systems, causing a high civilian death rate in violation of international law. He was also a major architect of the sanctions enforced by a US-led military operation that killed more than 1 million Iraqis — mostly children, the sick and the elderly.

As Bush junior’s vice-president, Cheney has been a key driver of the “war on terror”, from the invasion by Ethiopian proxy of Somalia to the brutal occupation of Iraq, in which more than 650,000 people have been killed. His crimes are not only motivated by the strategic needs of the US global imperial project but by a large element of personal gain.

In the US, as in any imperialist state, there is a revolving door between corporate and political positions of power. Cheney has alternated between being a senior politician and CEO of the vast Haliburton-KBR corporation.

Cheney has helped Haliburton-KBR secure government contracts. In Iraq, Haliburton-KBR has made billions from its virtual monopoly over the occupying army’s infrastructure as well as a range of economic activity from the small amount of civilian reconstruction for mercenaries and foreign carpet-baggers. Haliburton-KBR has also been given extensive rights over Iraqi oil production. Despite his role as US vice president, Cheney continues to receive a six-figure salary from his old company.

Another of Cheney’s dubious achievements is the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. Once again, he was both political driver of the project and a financial beneficiary through Haliburton-KBR getting the contract to build it.

Cheney’s visit provides supporters of David Hicks with an opportunity to join with opponents of US military brutality everywhere to tell him that he is not welcome here. It’s also a chance to tell Howard to stop supporting US wars and stop sacrificing Hicks to the US-Australia alliance.

This message is anti-Cheney, anti-Howard and anti-war, but it is not anti-American. On March 17 we will be back in the streets joining with protesters in the US, and all over the world, to mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and to oppose the violence and oppression being carried out under the guise of the “war on terror”.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #699 21 February 2007.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mourning A Secret Australia by John Pilger

In a column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes another 'day of mourning' for the first inhabitants of his homeland, Australia, which for many whites remains a secret country behind the neo-conservative bluster of John Howard's government.

[Redfern The Block]

How many days of mourning have I attended? Vivid in the memory are wreaths thrown on to Sydney Harbour, and men in crumpled hats and women in loose frocks standing on foreshores where their forebears saw the first ships carrying white men. On 14 February, there was a day of mourning for T J Hickey, an Aboriginal boy who was chased by police three years ago and ended up impaled on a spiked iron fence in The Block, a ghetto within sight of Sydney’s banks and corporate towers. Commemorative silences were held for TJ and his violent death was likened to Australia’s many Aboriginal deaths in custody, such as that of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island.

Palm Island is one of the most beautiful on the Great Barrier Reef, yet few outsiders take the short flight from Townsville. Established in 1918 as a detention camp for Aboriginal men, women and children convicted of the crimes of homelessness, rebelliousness and drunkenness, it has changed mostly on the surface. When I first went there in 1980, an epidemic of gastroenteritis was deemed life-threatening. Two years later, researchers discovered in the records of the Queensland Health Department that Aboriginal deaths from common, infectious diseases were up to 300 times higher than the white average, and the highest in the world. In the cemetery, overlooking waves breaking gently on the coral reef, many of the headstones bear the names of children.

On 26 January last, a date known as Australia Day by whites celebrating their settlement (Aborigines call it Invasion Day), something very unusual happened. It was announced that a police sergeant, Chris Hurley, would be charged with the manslaughter of Mulrunji Doomadgee. In 2004, Hurley arrested Mulrunji for swearing and drunkenness; once in police custody, Mulrunji had his liver torn in two.

These actions of Sergeant Hurley, said the deputy coroner, caused the fatal injuries. However, Queensland’s director of public prosecutions decided not to lay charges. This is standard practice. In 1989, a royal commission inquired into more than 100 deaths in custody, many of them demonstrably murder or manslaughter. I had no conception, wrote the chief commissioner, Elliott Johnston, of the degree of . . . abuse of personal power, utter paternalism, open contempt and total indifference with which so many Aboriginal people were visited on a day-to-day basis.

So spoke the voice of Australian liberalism and justice. Of the 339 recommendations made by the royal commission, not one called for criminal charges. The prosecution of Sergeant Hurley is the first of its kind, and it happened only because the Queensland government was virtually dragooned into seeking the independent opinion of a retired chief justice of New South Wales.

Of all the great Australian pastimes, silence is currently the most popular. This is largely due to a fear of speaking out, described in a rare book, Silencing Dissent, by Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison. The authors fellow Australian academics and writers say little if anything publicly that might upset the all-controlling Bushites of John Howard’s government and its inspectorate in the media. Trial by media of Australia’s domestic victims, be they Aboriginal or Muslim, is standard practice. Officially approved platitudes pass as news and commentary, along with weary stereotypes of much of humanity, from heroic Aussie cricketers to whingeing Poms and mad mullahs. True Australian heroes go unrecognised, such as Arthur Murray, a former Aboriginal union organiser who has fought unremittingly for 25 years for justice for his son Eddie, killed in police custody, and for all his people. Few white Australians will have heard of Arthur, whose dignity and courage evoke a secret history, described by the historian Henry Reynolds as the embarrassment of bloodied billabongs (lakes).

Australian values and national pride are political distractions of the moment in a nation witlessly at war in Iraq and Afghanistan a nation with up to 43 per cent youth unemployment at home and, in some places, the majority of its black youths in custody.

Australian patriotism, says the cultural historian Tony Moore, should be first and foremost based on taking the piss, of laughing, not just at one’s self but at the powerful He calls this bullshit detection. Terrific idea, Tony, but I suggest you first run it by Arthur Murray and the people of The Block and Palm Island; for until we whites give back to black Australians their nationhood, we can never claim our own.

15 Feb 2007

Mystery: How Wealth Creates Poverty in the World By Michael Parenti


There is a “mystery” we must explain: How is it that as corporate investments and foreign aid and international loans to poor countries have increased dramatically throughout the world over the last half century, so has poverty? The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. What do we make of this?

Over the last half century, U.S. industries and banks (and other western corporations) have invested heavily in those poorer regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America known as the “Third World.” The transnationals are attracted by the rich natural resources, the high return that comes from low-paid labor, and the nearly complete absence of taxes, environmental regulations, worker benefits, and occupational safety costs.

The U.S. government has subsidized this flight of capital by granting corporations tax concessions on their overseas investments, and even paying some of their relocation expenses---much to the outrage of labor unions here at home who see their jobs evaporating.

The transnationals push out local businesses in the Third World and preempt their markets. American agribusiness cartels, heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, dump surplus products in other countries at below cost and undersell local farmers. As Christopher Cook describes it in his Diet for a Dead Planet, they expropriate the best land in these countries for cash-crop exports, usually monoculture crops requiring large amounts of pesticides, leaving less and less acreage for the hundreds of varieties of organically grown foods that feed the local populations.

By displacing local populations from their lands and robbing them of their self-sufficiency, corporations create overcrowded labor markets of desperate people who are forced into shanty towns to toil for poverty wages (when they can get work), often in violation of the countries’ own minimum wage laws.

In Haiti, for instance, workers are paid 11 cents an hour by corporate giants such as Disney, Wal-Mart, and J.C. Penny. The United States is one of the few countries that has refused to sign an international convention for the abolition of child labor and forced labor. This position stems from the child labor practices of U.S. corporations throughout the Third World and within the United States itself, where children as young as 12 suffer high rates of injuries and fatalities, and are often paid less than the minimum wage.

The savings that big business reaps from cheap labor abroad are not passed on in lower prices to their customers elsewhere. Corporations do not outsource to far-off regions so that U.S. consumers can save money. They outsource in order to increase their margin of profit. In 1990, shoes made by Indonesian children working twelve-hour days for 13 cents an hour, cost only $2.60 but still sold for $100 or more in the United States.

U.S. foreign aid usually works hand in hand with transnational investment. It subsidizes construction of the infrastructure needed by corporations in the Third World: ports, highways, and refineries.

The aid given to Third World governments comes with strings attached. It often must be spent on U.S. products, and the recipient nation is required to give investment preferences to U.S. companies, shifting consumption away from home produced commodities and foods in favor of imported ones, creating more dependency, hunger, and debt.

A good chunk of the aid money never sees the light of day, going directly into the personal coffers of sticky-fingered officials in the recipient countries.

Aid (of a sort) also comes from other sources. In 1944, the United Nations created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Voting power in both organizations is determined by a country’s financial contribution. As the largest “donor,” the United States has a dominant voice, followed by Germany, Japan, France, and Great Britain. The IMF operates in secrecy with a select group of bankers and finance ministry staffs drawn mostly from the rich nations.

The World Bank and IMF are supposed to assist nations in their development. What actually happens is another story. A poor country borrows from the World Bank to build up some aspect of its economy. Should it be unable to pay back the heavy interest because of declining export sales or some other reason, it must borrow again, this time from the IMF.

But the IMF imposes a “structural adjustment program” (SAP), requiring debtor countries to grant tax breaks to the transnational corporations, reduce wages, and make no attempt to protect local enterprises from foreign imports and foreign takeovers. The debtor nations are pressured to privatize their economies, selling at scandalously low prices their state-owned mines, railroads, and utilities to private corporations.

They are forced to open their forests to clear-cutting and their lands to strip mining, without regard to the ecological damage done. The debtor nations also must cut back on subsidies for health, education, transportation and food, spending less on their people in order to have more money to meet debt payments. Required to grow cash crops for export earnings, they become even less able to feed their own populations.

So it is that throughout the Third World, real wages have declined, and national debts have soared to the point where debt payments absorb almost all of the poorer countries’ export earnings---which creates further impoverishment as it leaves the debtor country even less able to provide the things its population needs.

Here then we have explained a “mystery.” It is, of course, no mystery at all if you don’t adhere to trickle-down mystification. Why has poverty deepened while foreign aid and loans and investments have grown? Answer: Loans, investments, and most forms of aid are designed not to fight poverty but to augment the wealth of transnational investors at the expense of local populations.

There is no trickle down, only a siphoning up from the toiling many to the moneyed few.

In their perpetual confusion, some liberal critics conclude that foreign aid and IMF and World Bank structural adjustments “do not work”; the end result is less self-sufficiency and more poverty for the recipient nations, they point out. Why then do the rich member states continue to fund the IMF and World Bank? Are their leaders just less intelligent than the critics who keep pointing out to them that their policies are having the opposite effect?

No, it is the critics who are stupid not the western leaders and investors who own so much of the world and enjoy such immense wealth and success. They pursue their aid and foreign loan programs because such programs do work. The question is, work for whom? Cui bono?

The purpose behind their investments, loans, and aid programs is not to uplift the masses in other countries. That is certainly not the business they are in. The purpose is to serve the interests of global capital accumulation, to take over the lands and local economies of Third World peoples, monopolize their markets, depress their wages, indenture their labor with enormous debts, privatize their public service sector, and prevent these nations from emerging as trade competitors by not allowing them a normal development.

In these respects, investments, foreign loans, and structural adjustments work very well indeed.

The real mystery is: why do some people find such an analysis to be so improbable, a “conspiratorial” imagining? Why are they skeptical that U.S. rulers knowingly and deliberately pursue such ruthless policies (suppress wages, rollback environmental protections, eliminate the public sector, cut human services) in the Third World? These rulers are pursuing much the same policies right here in our own country!

Isn’t it time that liberal critics stop thinking that the people who own so much of the world---and want to own it all---are “incompetent” or “misguided” or “failing to see the unintended consequences of their policies”? You are not being very smart when you think your enemies are not as smart as you. They know where their interests lie, and so should we.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.

Published on Friday, February 16, 2007 by CommonDreams.org

Scientists Sound Alarm Over Melting Antarctic Ice Sheets by Steve Connor, Science Editor in San Francisco

Scientists analyzing satellite data were astonished to discover the size of the vast lakes and river systems flowing beneath the Antarctic ice sheets, which may lubricate the movement of these glaciers as they flow into the surrounding sea.

[A foraging Emperor penguin preens on snow-covered sea ice in Antarctica, in this December 9, 2006 file photo. Lasers beamed from space have detected big sloshing lakes of water underneath Antarctic ice. The discovery raises fresh questions about the speed at which sea levels might rise in a warmer world due to the rate at which parts of the ice sheets slide from the land into the ocean. REUTERS/Deborah Zabarenko]

The long-term stability of the massive ice sheets of Antarctica, which have the potential to raise sea levels by hundreds of meters, has been called into question with the discovery of fast-moving rivers of water sliding beneath their base.



The discovery raises fresh questions about the speed at which sea levels might rise in a warmer world due to the rate at which parts of the ice sheets slide from the land into the ocean, scientists said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.

"We've found that there are substantial subglacial lakes under ice that's moving a couple of meters per day. It's really ripping along. It's the fast-moving ice that determines how the ice sheet responds to climate change on a short timescale," said Robert Bindschadler, a Nasa scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, one of the study's co-authors.

"We aren't yet able to predict what these ice streams are going to do. We're still learning about the controlling processes. Water is critical, because it's essentially the grease on the wheel. But we don't know the details yet," Dr Bindschadler said. "Until now, we've had just a few glimpses into what's going on down there. This is the most complete picture to date about what's going on," he said.

The findings, to be published in the journal Science, came from satellite surveillance of the surface elevation of the ice sheets, which found that they rise or lower depending on the amount of water flowing between the base of the ice sheet and the rock beneath.

The scientists identified many regions of the ice sheet either rose or deflated between 2003 and 2006 as a result of water movements below. Water would be capable of this because it is highly pressurized under the weight of the overlying ice, they said.

Glaciologists have known for some time that water exists under the Antarctic ice sheets - which can be hundreds of meters thick - but they were surprised to find how much water is involved and the speed at which it moves from one subglacial reservoir to another, said Helen Fricker at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

"We didn't realize that the water under these ice streams was moving in such large quantities, and on such short time scales. We thought these changes took place over years and decades, but we are seeing large changes over months. The detected motions are astonishing in magnitude, dynamic nature and spatial extent," Dr Fricker said.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is the second biggest on the continent, and the rate at which ice flows from it to the Ross ice shelf, and then ultimately into the sea, is critical in assessing the likely impact of climate change on global sea levels.

The study provides evidence that subglacial water is stored in a linked system of reservoirs underneath the ice and can move quickly into and out of those reservoirs. This activity may play a major role in controlling the rate at which ice moves off the continent, Dr Fricker said.

"The links between ice stream activity and the climate are not well understood. To predict how the ice sheets might respond to global warming, this new information is vital as it gives us a more complete picture of what is happening under the ice," she said.

The study was conductedusing the Icesat satellite. It carries a laser altimeter instrument to detect changes as small as 1.5 centimeters in the elevation of the ice sheet's surface, from an orbit of 400 miles above the earth. "From 600 kilometers up in space, we were able to see small portions of the ice sheet rise and sink," Dr Bindschadler said.

Published on Friday, February 16, 2007 by the lndependent/UK

Friday, February 16, 2007

The United States Anti-War Movement-Howard Zinn



"We are only at an early stage in the development of the anti-war movement, but the direction in which it has gone indicates that we are on the road to ending the war."

Howard Zinn is professor emeritus at Boston University. He is a historian, activist and social critic and has written many books including A Peoples History of the United States. This interview was conducted via email with
State of Nature editors Cihan Aksan & Jon Bailes in January 2007.

SoN: You once wrote that direct action encompasses a great variety of methods, limited only by our imaginations. What methods do you find at our disposal today? And what limits does your imagination impose upon them?

Howard Zinn: Direct action means acting directly on the object of your protest or the source of your grievance, as opposed to petitioning or lobbying for your elected representatives to act. We see it in strikes, both historically and today, which are a form of direct action against corporations that, for instance, exploit their employees, or manufacture war weapons. Another form of direct action is non-violent (that is, avoiding violence against human beings) action, including forms of sabotage. Around 1980, ploughshares groups (turn our swords into ploughshares) began invading companies that made weaponry, and committed minor acts of sabotage to protest the actions of these companies. Only recently, a group of religious pacifists calling themselves The St. Patricks Four poured blood on a marine recruiting station to protest the war in Iraq. Boycotts are another form of direct action. The national boycott of grapes, carried on in the 1960s by the farm workers of California against the powerful growers, brought about better conditions for farm workers. The desertion of soldiers from immoral war, or the refusal of men to be drafted for war, are also forms of direct action.

SoN: You say that our problem is civil obedience, not civil disobedience. Both in war and in the law courts and everywhere else you must do whatever your city and your country command, states Socrates; and these words, you claim, have been impressed on our minds. You find in history many instances of submission to authority even in the face of terrible injustice, and very few of rebellion. Why do people submit so readily to injustice?

HZ: People submit to injustice for two reasons: one is that they do not recognize it as injustice. A young person submits to the exhortation to join the military without recognizing that he or she may go to a war which cannot be morally justified. The media and the educational system may not educate them about historical examples of resistance to injustice. Or people will submit to an injustice because they feel they have no alternative, that if they refuse they will be punished, perhaps by loss of a job, perhaps by being sent to prison. They may submit because people they have been taught to respect and trust the President, their minister, even their family may tell them they must submit to injustice because they owe something to their government, or their church or their family (as Plato had Socrates saying in The Crito, he couldn’t escape from his death sentence because he owed something to his government).

SoN: Some would like us to believe that the present system provides legal and political means to bring about social change. Justice Abe Fortas of the Supreme Court, who wrote Concerning Dissent and Civil Disobedience, was one of these people, and your response to him is found in Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order (1968). Here and in other works you charge that the rule of law reinforces the unequal distribution of wealth and power and the ballot box proves to be utterly ineffective as an instrument to rectify injustice. What do you say to those who still insist that the law is neutral and democracy is alive and well?

HZ: If you study the actual workings of the justice system over the course of our history, it becomes clear that it favors the rich over the poor, the white over the black, the orthodox over the radical. The very structure of the system insures it, with judges generally coming from the upper classes, often appointed by the political elite, with money dominating the system at every turn, as in the greater difficulty of poor people in being represented adequately in court. If you study the legislation passed by Congress throughout history, from Hamilton’s economic program in the first Congress to the tax laws of today, benefiting corporations and the wealthy, you will see that our representative system represents the wealthy in large part. If you observe our wars, you find that the so-called checks and balances we learn about in school, where no one branch of government can dominate, simply don’t work in times of war. The President decides on war, Congress goes along obediently, and the Supreme Court has never ruled that a war is unconstitutional, although judicial review is presumably part of their job, and every war since World War II has violated the requirement of the constitution that Congress alone can declare war.

SoN: 1789 and 1917 are still historic dates, but they are no longer historic examples, says Albert Camus. For him, the powerful weapons in the hands of the state and the danger that violent uprising in one country will lead to war on a global scale indicates that the time for revolution in the old sense has now passed. It seems that Camus is very much on your mind when you also question the feasibility of revolution in your writings and advocate non-violent direct action instead. But can non-violent direct action ever be as effective as revolution once was in history?

HZ: We must first question the effectiveness of violent revolution. In the United States, it superseded the British ruling class with a local ruling class, in the French Revolution it led to Napoleonic dictatorship and Bourbon monarchy, in the Russian Revolution it led to Stalinism, in China to Maoism. In South Africa, we saw a basically non-violent revolution by blacks end Apartheid, and while leaving many problems unsolved, it solved a fundamental problem without the massive violence of civil war or revolution. We’ve seen mass movements overthrow dictatorships without war or massive violence, whether in the Philippines or Indonesia, or since 1989 in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. No revolution, violent or non-violent, solves problems completely, but non-violent revolutions avoid the horrors of war and move a step in the direction of justice.

SoN: In Declarations of Independence you wrote that as the war in Vietnam became more vicious and as it became clear that non-combatants were being killed in large numbers; that the Saigon government was corrupt, unpopular, and under the control of our own government; and that the American public was being told lies about the war by our highest officials, the [anti-war] movement grew with amazing speed. Let us substitute Iraq for Vietnam for a moment, and think of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost; the sectarian divisions driving the country towards civil war, its fire deliberately stoked by the Americans; the horrors of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib; the puppet Iraqi regime instituted to serve the interests of the forces of occupation; and the American public fed lies about the weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. True, the neo-con agenda has been largely discredited and today less than one in four Americans approve of the Bush administration’s grand plan for Iraq, but there is still no real growth in the anti-war movement. What has changed since Vietnam?

HZ: True, the majority opposition to the war has still not reached the point, as in Vietnam, where the government had to consider withdrawing from the war. But the movement has helped turn an 80% support for the war into a 65% opposition to the war. It is more difficult these days to build a movement because of the greater control of the media by the government. But consider that we are only at an early stage in the development of the anti-war movement it has taken longer but the direction in which it has gone indicates that we are on the road to ending the war. Another factor delaying this is the nature of the Bush administration, more impervious to public opinion than either the Johnson or Nixon administrations were, more ruthless and dictatorial. More a closed little group of decision-makers listening only to themselves.

SoN: When David Barsamian interviewed you in 1998 you read him Langston Hughes famous poem A Dream Deferred, which you also quote in A Peoples History of the United States. The poem asks: What happens to a dream deferred? Does it explode? If all the dreams deferred were to explode one day would you expect this explosion to be controlled and organised, as it was for the most part in the Civil Rights Movement, or indiscriminately violent and frenzied, as it is in the Middle East today?

HZ: In our country, because of our tradition of non-violent protest and achievement, as in the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, the Womens Movement, I would expect it to be non-violent for the most part (no non-violent movement has ever been perfectly so). It might include militant acts of civil disobedience, mutinies in the military, strikes and boycotts and demonstrations, but not the kind of situation we see now in the Middle East.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Troops, And More Violence by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily


BAGHDAD, Feb 13 (IPS) - Violence and bombings have only increased after the proposed "surge" of 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. troops presence has averaged 142,000 soldiers a month since the occupation began nearly four years ago. Through this period, violence has increased against both them and the Iraqi civilian population.

Despite promises of freedom, democracy and liberation, Iraqis have suffered severe deterioration in security, services, infrastructure and social unity since the U.S.-led occupation began.

Many Iraqis believe that an increased number of troops will actually make the situation worse.

"To increase the number of troops will definitely improve the situation for the troops already on the ground, but a lot more than 20,000 soldiers will be needed to change the situation from defeat to victory," retired Iraqi general Ahmed al-Issa told IPS.

"There is no argument that U.S. troops have lost the Iraqi war all over the country, and the only two solutions left are either an increase of 200,000 soldiers or a scheduled withdrawal after certain arrangements with local fighters in order to avoid casualties and tremendous chaos in the country."

According to the Washington-based Brookings Institution's Feb. 5 report 'Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq', as of January 2007 there were 132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Adding 21,500 still does not bring the total to a previous high of 160,000 during December 2005.

The same report records 14,650 troops from other countries in Iraq, the lowest number ever.

Some Iraqi military strategists believe that the recent troop increase will be of no value if the goal is security and prosperity for all Iraqis.

"Their goal is to crush as many oppositionists as possible," Duraid Aziz, a 46-year-old lawyer and military analyst from Mosul in the north who was visiting Baghdad told IPS. "The first step of their security plan was to raid the Adhamiya Sunni area (of Baghdad) while Mehdi (Shia militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) death squads continue to kill Iraqis under the eyes of the U.S. army."

Aziz believes that the U.S. military plans to hand the country over to militias such as the Badr organisation which is the armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq – a leading Shia party in government that is supportive of Iran.

"This increase in American troops is only meant to kill anyone who resists the occupiers," added Aziz.

Over recent days U.S. troops raided several Sunni areas of Baghdad, including the Adhamiya district.

On Feb. 7 the chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq told reporters that the plan to secure Baghdad using U.S. and Iraqi forces had begun. "The plan is being fully implemented as we speak," Major General William B. Caldwell told reporters.

Many Iraqis remain unconvinced that this will work, and agree with Duraid Aziz.

"This is genocide, and anyone with eyes can see it," Muhammad Haddad, a human rights activist from Baghdad told IPS.

Kamil Abbas, a high school teacher from Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, told IPS that U.S. and Iraqi forces "committed another massacre after the slaughter in Najaf recently" and that it took place "in Samra just south of Baghdad."

"They (U.S. and Iraqi forces) will keep doing this because they do not accept for any Iraqi to feel like a free human being," he added.

The Brookings Institution report listed 185 attacks a day against U.S. and Iraqi security forces during the month of December 2006. That is the highest ever, according to the institution.

More U.S. troops have been killed in the last four months in Iraq than in any comparable period since the occupation began in April 2003.

Iraqi authorities announced Feb. 5 that at least 1,000 Iraqis had been killed in the previous week in political violence.

"The increase in U.S. troops only means an increase in the agonies of the Iraqi people," Dr. Salam al-Dulaimy, an academic who studied at Baghdad University told IPS.

"President Bush is just running forward while waiting for a miracle to take place regardless of the great number of war victims. I see this increase to be another factor of disturbance in Iraq and another way of buying time with Iraqi people's blood."

Sunni areas are facing hard times with the launch of the new Iraqi and U.S. security plans. People all over Sunni areas believe that the troops increase and the security crackdown are both working against them.

The increased military presence does not seem to have unnerved the resistance. "Let Bush bring more morons to Iraq," a young man from Fallujah who was visiting Baghdad told IPS. "We will send them all to hellfire. These people seem to have not learned enough from previous lessons, and our school is still open."

But Iraqis are paying a heavy price for the unrest. One in seven has left home, according to UN officials. This is the largest movement of people in the Middle East since the war that followed the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Violence displaces an estimated 1,300 Iraqis every day. More than 1.7 million have been internally displaced so far. Over 1.5 million have fled the country altogether.


Inter Press Service

(Ali al-Fadhily is our Baghdad correspondent. Dahr Jamail is our specialist writer who has spent eight months reporting from inside Iraq and has been covering the Middle East for several years.)

Obama's Race a Factor in Howard's Attack? by John Nichols


Why would Australian Prime Minister John Howard separate out Barack Obama from all of the other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination -- and from all the prominent Democratic and Republican critics of President Bush's dangerous foreign policies -- for attack as the favorite son of the terrorists?

Why would Howard, suggest that the Illinois senator's candidacy will "encourage those who wanted completely to destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory"?

What was Howard thinking when he claimed in an interview on Australian television that: "If I was running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats"?

Is Howard, arguably the truest believer in the Iraq War this side of Dick Cheney, so supportive of the Bush administration that he is ready to attack anyone who challenges the president? No, that's not the case. In fact, Howard has in recent days gone out of his way to tell Australians that he did not intend to "generically" criticize American Democrats; rather, he clarified, he was specifically attacking Obama. "I don't apologise for criticising Senator Obama's observation because I thought what he said was wrong," explained Howard.

But Howard, a savvy student of US politics, is unquestionably aware that many prominent Democrats -- including figures such as John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter, who are far better known in Australia than Obama -- have criticized both the war in Iraq, which Howard continues to support unquestioningly, and the general approach of the Bush Administration to the so-called "war on terror."

So why the full-force assault on Obama, who has gained more global attention because he might be the first black presient of the United States than because of his stance on the Iraq War?

Perhaps some comments from a 2005 debate in the upper house of the parliament of the Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, will clear things up. After racial violence erupted in several suburbs of Sydney in the fall of that year, Howard dismissed concerns about the motivations behind the violence, despite reports that they had been provoked at least in part by neo-Nazis who targeted immigrants and people of color. "Every country has incidents that don't play well overseas," mused Howard, whose response provoked outrage on the part of civil rights campaigners in Sydney and the rest of Australia.

That outrage led to a parliamentary debate on the subject of "Racism and Prime Minister John Howard."

During the debate, Sylvia Hale, a representative from the Sydney area, explained that, "Racism has preoccupied this House and the community over the past week. It is pertinent now to re-examine the Prime Minister's contribution to the rise of racism in this country. John Howard's primary political strategy has been to divide and rule this nation. He has consistently pitted one section of the community against the other, whether it be wharfies, Aborigines, the unemployed, refugees, academics, welfare recipients or trade unionists. By identifying a minority and telling the majority that they should fear and loathe it because it is a threat to the way of life of the majority, the Prime Minister has had electoral success, but he has also created the social division that we all now confront."

"Undoubtedly," Hale continued, "the most destructive aspect of the strategy has been his pandering to the fearful, racist element in the Australian community. John Howard consistently denies that he does so but, as in so many other matters, when you examine the facts you see that the Prime Minister does not speak the truth. Examine his record and his message becomes clear. During his first term as Opposition leader, John Howard saw potential electoral advantage in playing racial politics. His comments in July 1988 promising a reduction in Asian immigration if he became Prime Minister established his credentials as a politician willing to play the race card if he thought it would win him votes. He was widely condemned for those comments and forced to withdraw them, but the lesson he learned was not that this sort of politics is destructive and wrong. Rather, he learned that his appeal to racism had to be more subtle."

When a supporter of the prime minister interrupted Hale with a point of order that attempted to shut her up, she was ruled to be entirely in order. Hale finished by explaining that, "I am accusing the Prime Minister of fostering a situation where racist tensions can increase."

It was hardly the first time that Howard faced such withering criticism. Howard came to prominence in Australia as a outspoken critic of multiculturalism and moves to respect and foster diversity. In the 198Os, he pointedly criticized moves to challenge South Africa's apartheid system. In the 199Os, he stirred anti-immigrant sentiment, taking stands that would make US "border wars" politicians like Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo wince. The Bangkok Post observed at the time that, "Australian Prime Minister John Howard may moan and whine about how he personally abhors racism, as he did this week, but few people will believe him."

Australian author and political commentator Greg Barns described Howard's 2001 attacks on refugees, as a "racist outburst" that came as part of "a disgraceful campaign of the Howard Government in 2001 to demonise the wretched and the weak who sought sanctuary on our shores."

Concerns about Howard's penchant for exploiting and exascerbating racial divisions for political purposes are so widespread in Australia that it the issue was the topic of a well-reviewed book by one of the nation's most prominent academics -- Race: John Howard and the Remaking of Australian Politics, by Andrew Markus, a former head of the School of Historical Studies at Australia's Monash University, where he currently directs the Australian Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilisation. The premise of Markus' book is that racial issues have become disturbingly prominent in Australian public life during the Howard years.

Now, with his over-the-top attempt to associate Obama with terrorism, Howard has turned his attention to public life in the United States. Of course, John Howard will deny that Obama's race was a factor in his decision to loudly and aggressively attack just one of more than a dozen Democrats who are actively campaigning or considering a presidential run -- most of whom are war critics.

But, as Sylvia Hale suggested with regard to the prime minister: "Examine his record and his message becomes clear."

Published on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 by The Nation

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ecuador's 'Citizens' Revolution' by Duroyan Fertl

[President Rafael Correa]

Since his January 15 inauguration, President Rafael Correa has set about implementing his plan for changing Ecuadorian society, centred on a “citizens’ revolution” to refound the country and begin the construction of a “socialism of the 21st century” by investing economic wealth in social spending on health, education, housing and the environment.

In an effort to curb pollution, on February 3 Correa declared that Ecuador would suspend the contracts of oil companies who needlessly damage the environment. The decision follows the recent announcement that the Ecuadorian government had made US$1 billion from the oilfields of Oxy Petroleum, whose concessions were revoked a year ago for breach of contract. Correa has announced his intention to renegotiate contracts with other oil companies to give the government a larger share of the profits, to use for social spending.

Already under investigation is Brazil’s Petrobras, which holds the right to explore Oil Block 31, located in one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions. Another target of the government’s ire is a mine planned by Ascendant Copper in Junin. Ascendant’s environmental impact statement was rejected in late 2006, and the company is also accused of using paramilitary groups to intimidate and assault local opponents of the mine.

On February 5, Ecuador announced that it will take Colombia to the International Court of Justice over the spraying of glyphosate near the border and over parts of Ecuador. In December last year, Ecuador temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Colombia over the issue. The spraying is part of the US-funded “war on drugs” and is designed to kill coca plants, the source of the raw material for cocaine. However, it also leads to massive environmental damage, birth defects and the poisoning of the watertable.

The government’s new budget, delivered on January 31, promised a $1 billion reduction in foreign debt payments and repeated the government’s intention to renegotiate much of the debt. The government also outlined a plan to reform the tax system, lowering the value-added tax from 12% to 10% while increasing company taxes. On February 1, Correa announced the doubling of social benefits to more than a million of the poorest and most vulnerable, including the sick and single mothers.

Correa has already suffered some setbacks, however. Banana-growers have protested his choice of agriculture minister, Carlos Vallejo — a former associate of Correa’s rival in last year’s presidential election, Alvaro Noboa. Noboa is Ecuador’s richest man and owns numerous banana plantations. He is accused of using child labour and violently breaking strikes. Another associate of Noboa’s, Francisco Cucalon, recently appointed attorney-general, resigned on January 31 amid protests by Correa and others that his appointment was unconstitutional.

Another setback for Correa was the death on January 24, after only nine days in office, of Guadalupe Larriva, Ecuador’s first ever female defence minister. Larriva died in a collision of two military helicopters near Manta air base. She was a former president of the Socialist Party of Ecuador and head of the teachers’ union, and had been planning to renovate the armed forces, including increasing wages for low-ranking soldiers.

An independent investigation initiated by the government found nothing suspicious about the death. Nevertheless, Correa has replaced the head of the army. He has appointed another woman, Lorena Escudero, as defence minister. Since coming to power, Correa has also replaced three police chiefs, the latest on January 27, as he attempts to reform an institution rife with corruption.

The most important part of Correa’s reform program, the convoking of an assembly to rewrite the constitution, similar to efforts in Venezuela and Bolivia, has set the scene for a major showdown with the political forces traditionally dominant in Ecuador. The Constituent Assembly, which is supported by upwards of 75% of Ecuadorians, has been hindered by the traditional parties that dominate the Congress and Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), which fear it will reduce their power.

The TSE deliberately dragged its heels on declaring the legality of a planned March 18 referendum on the Constituent Assembly, before handballing the decision to the Congress after hundreds of pro-assembly protesters broke into the courtroom on January 23. Congress, also hostile to Correa, has since been stalling on the bill, as the parties debate the exact powers that the assembly will have and attempt to water it down to ensure their continuing control.

On January 30, thousands of protesters stormed the Congress, demanding it pass the bill, chanting “Death to the rats!” and “Down with the Congress, yes to the assembly!” Authorities evacuated the building and dispersed protesters with tear-gas. Protesters were also incensed that members of Congress, regarded by most Ecuadorians as corrupt, had also just voted to increase their salaries.

On February 6, the Congress blocked a vote on the assembly. The Patriotic Society Party of former president Lucio Gutierrez, who was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2005, had previously promised to support the bill but refused to vote for it. The PSP is the second largest party in Congress with 24 out of 100 seats, giving it the balance of power. It is widely believed that the PSP’s support for the bill will be conditional on them gaining key positions in the assembly and in the government.

Correa, who described Gutierrez as a “viper”, has threatened that if the Congress continues to stall or doesn’t pass the bill, it will be bypassed. Vice-President Lenin Moreno has suggested that an “ad hoc” committee could be convoked to set the parameters for the Constituent Assembly. Correa has also threatened to call further mass demonstrations to force the Congress to pass the bill, saying “The fight here is between the Congress and 13 million Ecuadorians”.

The social movements are feeling similarly frustrated. Humberto Cholango, of the indigenous organisation ECUARUNARI, has threatened that an indigenous uprising could be organised to force the issue. Similar uprisings have led to the overthrow of three presidents in the last decade. ECUARUNARI, the main indigenous federation CONAIE and dozens of other social movements and organisations have united to form the National Front for the Plurinational Constituent Assembly. A massive march on Quito is planned for March 13 to demand the Congress obey the popular mandate.

From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #698 14 February 2007.

A year Inside the Venezuelan Revolution by Paul Benedek, Brisbane


“We have just spent the most exciting year of our lives residing in Venezuela. It’s the heartland of the most important radical political upheaval of our time, and centre of the project for socialism in the 21st century”, enthused Jim McIlroy who, along with Coral Wynter, spent 2006 in Caracas reporting on the Bolivarian revolution for Green Left Weekly. McIlroy and Wynter detailed their experiences to almost 100 people at the CEPU Auditorium on February 3 at a forum organised by Green Left Weekly and sponsored by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

“The changes erupting in Venezuela, and now spreading across Latin America, provide a base and an inspiration for people seeking to challenge the domination of neoliberal capitalism all across the globe”, McIlroy said. “The message we bring back from Venezuela is that there is hope for socialism. The imperialist monster, centred in the US, with the support of allies like the Australian government, can be challenged and defeated.

“The most appropriate description of the revolutionary process in Venezuela is the phrase put forward by Vladimir Lenin of revolution as ‘a festival of the oppressed’.

“Led by socialist president Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan people are taking hold of their own destiny. They are seizing control of the economic resources and political power of the country, and challenging the rule of the oligarchy and the foreign capitalists who have traditionally dominated Third World countries like Venezuela”, McIlroy said.

McIlroy and Wynter discussed the recent presidential election campaign, in which Chavez won a new term with around 63% of the vote; the gains of the revolution; the struggles of workers, women and indigenous people; and the rise of a new people’s democracy linked to the neighbourhood-based communal councils.

Wynter and McIlroy described their abode in Catia, a working-class suburb of Caracas, and how they had been welcomed into the community activities and outings of the local Chavista movement, including being made honorary members of the Grandmothers’ Club.

McIlroy and Wynter also described the development of the international movement in solidarity with Venezuela, including the visit of several Australian brigades to Venezuela, sponsored by the AVSN. They urged everyone to join the solidarity movement in Australia and to consider participating in one of the AVSN-sponsored brigades to Venezuela. The first one this year is being organised to coincide with May Day, with a special focus on trade union solidarity.

“We are very optimistic that the Venezuelan people can carry forward their revolution”, Wynter said. “Their struggle to build an alternative society is so inspiring. Our job in Australia is to give them all the solidarity and support that we can.”

[McIlroy and Wynter are speaking at forums in Sydney and Melbourne in the coming weeks. See the calendar on page 23 for details. To find out more about the May Day brigade to Venezuela visit .]

From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #698 14 February 2007.

Venezuela's Democratic Revolution by Stuart Munckton


Critics of Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, “finally feel vindicated (again)”, Venezuelanalysis.com editor Gregory Wilpert wrote in a February 6 comment piece. “The Venezuelan dictatorship that they have been predicting for the past eight years has, according to them, finally come to pass — for the sixth or so time.”

The cause of the latest cries about a “Chavez dictatorship” from the usual suspects — the corporate-owned media around the world, the US government and US-funded opposition groups inside Venezuela — was the legislation passed on January 31 by Venezuela’s National Assembly, in an outdoor session with the public watching on, of an “enabling law”. This law grants Chavez — re-elected in December with 63% support and the highest number of votes in Venezuelan history — the right to pass legislation by decree in relation to 11 areas for a period of 18 months.

Evoking images of Chavez taking absolute power, headlines around the world screamed that Chavez was now going to “rule by decree”. US President George Bush told Fox News the day the law was passed that he was “concerned about Venezuelans, about decreasing democratic institutions”. A leader of the opposition Christian Democratic Party told the anti-Chavez TV station Globovision the same day that “The enabling law converts … the president of the Republic into a dictator”.

As Wilpert points out, there is nothing new in these claims. They have been made by the Venezuelan opposition and US government repeatedly during Chavez’s eight years as president. However they “kept having to revise their estimates for when this dictatorship would set in”. On the contrary, the Chavez government has moved to extend democracy, using a series of referendums and the election of a constituent assembly to bring in a new constitution in 1999 that extends democracy by providing the means for the population to directly participate in governing the country.

The result is that, according to Chilean-based polling company Latinobarometro, the number of Venezuelans satisfied with their democracy has risen from 32% when Chavez was first elected in 1998, to 57% in 2006 — well above the 38% Latin American average.

Bush revealed his real agenda to Fox News, adding his “concern” about “the nationalisations that could take place or not”. Following his re-election on an explicit platform of constructing socialism, Chavez announced his intention to reverse privatisations carried out by previous governments, including nationalising the largest telecommunications company (CANTV) and the electricity sector and forcing oil corporations in the Orinoco Belt onto joint ventures in which the state-run oil company would have at least 60% control. US corporations have the largest holdings in CANTV and in the largest electricity company to be nationalised. Oil giants whose investments will be affected include ExxonMobil and Chevron.

The Bush administration’s real concern is that Chavez is leading an increasingly popular revolution aiming to use the nation’s wealth to address the problems of the poor majority. Even the corporate media have had to acknowledge at least some of the gains, and the resulting popularity of Chavez, that have brought free health care and education, discounted food, cheap credit to the poor, land to previously landless peasants, and repeated increases in the minimum wage and other pro-worker measures. These measures have been accompanied by mass organisation and empowerment of the previously excluded poor majority as the revolution has attempted to implement Chavez’s slogan that to eradicate poverty “you must give power to the poor”.

Before the presidential election, Chavez said the vote would be a referendum on building socialism in Venezuela, and subsequently announced his intention to deepen the struggle to create a socialist economy run democratically according to the interests of society. In order to carry this out Chavez has called for an “explosion” of popular power, with an expansion in number and power of the grassroots communal councils.

Formed last year, each of these councils is based on 200-400 families. The elected members of the councils are immediately recallable and work on a volunteer basis. The highest decision-making body remains the general assembly of all members of the community. Controlling funds directly, these councils are increasingly taking control over the government’s pro-poor programs in local areas. The aim of the councils is to draw the entire population into control over public affairs — participation is not limited to supporters of Chavez.

One area the National Assembly granted Chavez the right to legislate around is providing the legal framework for these councils to increasingly take over state administration, which is currently in the hands of a corrupt bureaucracy that slows down or openly sabotages the many of the government’s revolutionary measures. The government has launched a campaign to expand the number of communal councils from 13,000 to as many as 50,000 across the country. Chavez has called for communal councils to elect representatives to regional bodies, opening the way for the councils to form the base of a completely new state structure controlled from the ground up.

There is also legislation that has been introduced into the National Assembly that would enable the formation of workers’ councils in both private and public workplaces across the country. These would complement the communal councils, by giving workers control over economic production.

While it isn’t hard to see the real agenda of the US government and pro-capitalist opposition groups, even some friends of the Venezuelan revolution have expressed concern over the power the enabling law grants Chavez.

However, the reality of the law is very different from the way the corporate media has reported it. Even US State Department spokesperson Thomas Shannon acknowledged that the enabling law is “something valid under the constitution … At the end of day it’s not a question for the United States or for any other country, but for Venezuela.”

Not only is the legislation allowed for in the constitution, it was also used by four Venezuelan presidents before Chavez. As these presidents governed on behalf of corporate interests, none of the forces currently up in arms showed any concern. Also, Chavez was granted an enabling law in 2000. Far from leading to a dictatorship, Chavez used the power to pass 49 pro-poor laws that, as Wilpert points out, “democratised land ownership and access to credit in Venezuela, amongst other things”.

Chavez has not been granted the right to decree whatever he chooses. He remains bound by the limits of the constitution, and the Supreme Court has the power to rule on whether any law passed by Chavez violates the constitution. The National Assembly retains the right to modify or repeal any law Chavez decrees.

Most important, as Chavez pointed out at his February 1 press conference, under Venezuela’s constitution, which Chavez insisted was “the broadest and most democratic in the world”, any law, including any law Chavez passes by decree, can be overturned by the people via a national referendum.

Wilpert explained that under Article 74, a referendum to annul any legislation can be held if 10% of the electorate sign a petition calling for it. For laws passed by decree, that percentage is only 5%. This means in Venezuela a petition signed by around 800,000 registered voters would force a referendum on any law Chavez passes.

This is a dramatic extension of democracy that doesn’t exist in most countries, where pro-corporate politicians can force through highly unpopular legislation with the citizens having no legal recourse. This is combined in Venezuela with the right to recall any elected official half way through their term. The opposition used this in 2004 against Chavez, who won the subsequent referendum with just under 60% of the vote.

Calling Bush a war criminal who should be jailed, Chavez said: “If only the United States had a democracy like Venezuela’s. If only the people of the United States had the power to call a recall referendum, [Bush] would be voted out of the US government straight away.”

But most significant is the parameters set out for Chavez to pass decrees. These specifically cover changing Venezuela’s legal framework to enable a significant increase in participatory democracy and the ability to control public administration. They also include measures to tackle the problem of corruption and to introduce economic changes such as the announced nationalisations and changing the tax system to make the rich pay a fairer share.

In other words, the measures Chavez will rule on aim to increase democracy and implement the political program he was elected to carry out. The reason why Chavez has been given the power to introduce these changes by decree over a set period of time is the need to make these changes quickly. Among the poor there is growing anger at the way the corrupt bureaucracy frustrate the implementation of radical measures.

Chavez’s latest electoral victory and subsequent announcements raised expectations of much needed widespread change. However, these changes cannot occur without breaking the power of the old bureaucracy, and this requires changing the legal framework to allow for the consolidation of a new system of people’s power. The process of going through parliament has proven slow and bureaucratic, and not all the pro-Chavez politicians are widely trusted. The enabling law allows the process to speed up.

The economic changes are themselves an increase in democracy — key sectors of the economy previously in the hands of private interests will be able to be controlled by the elected government, and production and distribution of resources in these industries will able to be carried out according to the needs of the people.

This is a profound and democratic revolutionary process that is struggling to create a new system whereby the economy is put at the service of society, not run on behalf of an ultra-rich minority. As part of this, there is a struggle to dramatically extend democracy so that ordinary people, not privileged bureaucrats, control the political system in order to ensure measures in the interests of the majority are carried out. Far from restricting democracy, the enabling law has been formulated as a weapon to advance this struggle.

From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #698 14 February 2007.

'Clean Coal' Is Smoke And Mirrors by Ben Courtice


Australian coal-mining companies and Prime Minister John Howard are promoting “clean coal” as a technology that will enable the coal industry to continue its exports while supposedly cleaning up the greenhouse-gas emissions from the burning of this coal.

According to the Australian Coal Association (ACA), clean-coal technologies “reduce emissions, reduce waste, and increase the amount of energy gained from each tonne of coal”. These measures focus on capturing and storing the carbon dioxide gas emitted from burning coal to power electricity generation.

The main carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology being promoted by the Howard government is “carbon geosequestration” — the pumping of huge amounts of liquified CO2 into deep underground cavities and keeping it there for thousands of years.

In September 2004, ABC TV’s Catalyst science program pointed out that do this with all of the CO2 emitted in just one day from Australia’s 24 coal-fired power stations would require pumping into underground cavities the equivalent of a one-square kilometre lake of 200-litre drums of liquified CO2 — every day!

This technology is being researched with optimists predicting it will be available in “demonstration” form in 10 years. But as Catalyst reporter Mark Horstman observed: “To make geosequestration work is an engineering feat on a scale bigger than anything we’ve ever tried in Australia. It begs the question — wouldn’t the effort be better spent on energy technologies that don’t create carbon dioxide in the first place?”

Howard told ABC radio’s January 16 AM program that in discussions with Chinese government representatives, he said “we would continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels, but increasingly because of greenhouse-gas concerns, clean-coal technologies would come to the fore”.

The only “clean-coal” technology that could significantly impact on the amount of greenhouse gases produced from coal burning is carbon geosequestration.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientist John Wright told the AM program that “before we go into large-scale capture and sequestration of CO2, it’s going to be of the order of a decade or perhaps a little bit longer” for research and pilot projects.

On the other hand, in an August 1 statement on its website, the research NGO Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) noted that a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific body on climate change, “estimates that by 2050 only about 30-60% of emissions from electricity generation will be technically suitable for capture. And even for the power stations that are suitable, CCS can at best only sequester 80-90% of their emissions…

“As a result, if the projected increases in power plant construction in the next 50-100 years are borne out, then even widespread use of CCS, would see emissions from the global electricity sector continue to climb.”

The MPI noted that, “CCS promoters claim that CCS will be ready within 10 years. It may be ready theoretically, but will it be used? The IPCC estimates that the majority of CCS deployment will only take place in the second half of this century, and thinks that by 2020 CCS may only be capturing 9-12% of global CO2 emissions, and by 2050 as little as 21%. This is too little too late.”

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal — 230 million tonnes last year. China is a major customer for Australian coal, and the Australian and Chinese governments have recently made a pact to develop and use “cleaner coal” technologies.

As exports increase, industry is looking to increase mining. The controversial Anvil Hill mine in NSW’s Hunter Valley was temporarily stopped by the NSW Land and Environment Court in November 2006. The court ruled that developer Centennial Coal had failed to adequately consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of its planned coal exports. This followed a campaign by local groups to protect the remnant forests on the proposed site of the mine.

Mark O’Neill of the ACA claimed in the November 29 Sydney Morning Herald that, “If coal exports from the proposed Anvil Hill mine do not go ahead, not one molecule less carbon dioxide will be emitted to the atmosphere, because the overseas customers for the coal will simply buy it elsewhere.”

The ACA website claims that by “2020, coal consumption will be 50% higher than it is today. Ceasing the use of coal and other fossil fuels in order to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is simply not a realistic option for the foreseeable future.” The reality of an opportunity to make megabucks obviously trumps environmental considerations for the coal-mining companies.

A January 16 press release from Greenpeace noted that “Howard’s deal with China on non-existent ‘clean coal’ technology is a typical diversion from acting on the real solution to climate change — switching from coal to renewable energy.”

Greenpeace spokesperson Ben Pearson was quoted in that day’s Melbourne Age that China is “already moving in that direction, having recently announced plans to invest 45.6 billion yuan ($A7.41 billion) to more than triple wind power generation capacity by 2010 and aiming to reach a 15% renewable energy target by 2020".

“Scientific” advice being used for commercial gain may be nothing new, but it is now making headlines. The US Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has reported on January 30 that “new evidence shows that political interference in climate science is no longer a series of isolated incidents but a system-wide epidemic….

“UCS distributed surveys to 1600 climate scientists, asking for information about the state of federal climate research. The scientists who responded reported experiencing at least 435 occurrences of political interference in their work over the past five years. Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or other similar terms from a variety of communications.”

The MPI points out that the Howard government “has stacked the CSIRO’s governing board with appointees from the coal and oil industry, and the organisation’s energy research priority has been refocused onto the quest of ‘clean coal’ and CCS technologies. CSIRO scientists expressing concern about climate change have been muzzled.”

Non-CO2 emitting alternative energy generation methods such as geothermal and solar-thermal are available right now, and yet massive amounts of government research money continue to flow into an unproven technology like carbon geosequestration and into “clean coal” PR exercises for the coal companies.

Meanwhile, the forecasts for the rate of global warming are increasingly giving credibility to what were the “worst case” scenarios a couple of years ago. Australia’s massive coal industry is a problem that must be tackled and removed to take meaningful steps against global warming.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #698 14 February 2007.

Water Crisis: How The Market Economy Is Sucking Us Dry by Tony Iltis

[The Darling River]

As with other environmental issues, Australia’s water crisis has reached such an extent that mainstream media and politicians are being forced to abandon their traditional policy of denial. However, true to form, politicians are proposing solutions that are a mixture of the half-hearted, the irrelevant and the destructive. In common with the debates on global warming and Third World poverty, there is an underlying assumption that the water crisis can be overcome by the very thing that created it — the market economy.
Interestingly, if the Australian continent is taken as a whole, 2006 was a fairly average year for rainfall. However, this average hides the fact that in the north and west of the continent rainfall was at a record high while in the south and east it was at a record low. This points to one of the causes of the drought — climate change due to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The term global warming describes the overall trend of climate change. It is manifested in extreme and atypical weather conditions all over the world. In the Caribbean this means hurricanes of increased frequency and strength. In southern and eastern Australia it means drought. The role of global warming in the drought means that it cannot be seen as cyclical — strategies for dealing with the water crisis that are based on the assumption that rainfall will return to normal are doomed to fail.

This also underlines the necessity to reduce carbon emissions. While this needs to happen on a global scale, Australia has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world. Another factor in the Australian drought is the importation and development, since the British invasion, of agricultural and industrial practices inappropriate for a naturally dry continent.

The February 1 Herald-Sun reported that based on current daily usage, Melbourne had enough water in its reservoirs to last just 18 months. It would take 7 years of average rainfall for the city’s nine reservoirs to be refilled. Last year rainfall in the region was 31.5% below average. Other urban centres such as Perth, Brisbane and Sydney have even less water in their reservoirs while rural towns such as Goulburn in NSW are on the point of running out of water.

Governments have proposed a number of measures to deal with the crisis. In Brisbane there are moves to recycle sewage. While use of recycled waste-water and stormwater is essential (three-quarters of Sydney’s water use ends up in ocean outfalls), there are questions regarding the safety of recycling sewage into drinking water. The most serious of these concern micropollutants from pharmaceuticals, on which there is currently insufficient scientific data.

More irrational, but consistent with the pro-big business policies of federal and state governments, are proposed desalination plants. The NSW government is planning a $1.2 billion desalination plant for Sydney. For the same cost, hundreds of thousands of rainwater tanks could be supplied to households free of charge. Desalination plants consume vast amounts of energy. In terms of carbon emissions, the Sydney plant would be equivalent to putting a quarter of a million extra cars on the road! Furthermore, the desalination process puts a toxic chemical brine into the ocean.

The most common response to the urban water crisis is household water use restrictions. These have some merit but are flawed. Subsidies and rebates are used to encourage the installation of water-efficient appliances by households, but these market mechanisms are no substitute for the provision of such appliances free of charge.

Furthermore, as domestic households are responsible for only about a tenth of water usage, the draconian enforcement of water restrictions, complete with hotlines to encourage dobbing in neighbours, cause resentment and cynicism when industry is given a free reign to squander water. In Victoria, the government has refused to name the top 200 industrial water users. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Coca-Cola Amatil, Visy Industries and two of packaging company Amcor’s sites have admitted to being on this list.

While households pay $960 per megalitre (million litres) of water, bottled water manufacturer Sunkoshi Ltd is charged $2.40 per megalitre — to put it another way, households pay 400 times as much. When one considers the retail price of bottled water it becomes apparent that this is a highly profitable business! Meanwhile, Australia’s biggest profit-maker, mining and steel-making giant BHP-Billiton, uses undisclosed megalitres for free.

How much water is used by heavy industry is not on the record. However, an indication is given by the Victorian government’s “Eastern Water Recycling Proposal”, which will divert treated waste-water away from the Gunnamatta Beach ocean outfall to the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal-fired power stations, allowing the 135 gigalitres (135 billion litres) of drinkable water that they currently use to be returned to the general water supply.

Diverting water from ocean outfalls is a positive measure. However, even if it is not used for drinking water, there are better uses for it than keeping “dirty coal” power stations in operation. Their staggering water usage and the contribution to climate change from their massive carbon emissions provide strong arguments for phasing them out, replacing them with renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal power. Market forces, however, dictate that they remain until the last coal remains.

Market forces are also the reason why all the mainstream hype about the water crisis has not stopped logging in water catchment areas. The cessation of logging in the catchment area of just one of Melbourne’s nine dams would add an extra 20 gigalitres annually to the city’s water supply.

The biggest users of water are in agriculture. The current wrangling over the federal government’s proposed takeover of the management of the Murray-Darling Basin has highlighted some of these issues and seen promises of some small steps in the right direction. For example, the federal government has pledged to replace open irrigation channels with covered pipes. Currently, evaporation and other wastage through inefficient irrigation means that only 10% of water taken from rivers actually makes it onto the fields.

However, more is needed than just increased efficiency. Over 80% of the Murray’s total volume is diverted, mostly for irrigation. This is despite the devastating effect on the riverine environment, the draining of wetlands and the fact that every second year the Murray stops flowing to its mouth. “Environmental flows” take lower priority than irrigation in a market economy. The beneficiaries of this are not small farmers, but export agribusiness such as cotton, rice and beef. Indeed, as dwindling flows and over-exploitation of aquifers cause salination due to the watertable rising, small farmers lose out.

Whether these water-intensive agro-industries need to exist in Australia should be questioned. Being export-oriented they are not necessary to feed people in Australia, and, paradoxically, they actually increase poverty overseas. This is because the cheap water given to Australian agribusiness amounts to a subsidy that peasant farmers in the Third World are not able to compete with. Many of the world’s 2 billion peasant rice farmers are being driven to destitution or forced to leave the land for a precarious existence in the Third World’s growing communities of urban poor. According to an Oxfam Australia fact sheet, the depression of cotton prices by First World exports cost Sub-Saharan African cotton farmers an estimated US$304 million in 2001.

The inability of market forces to solve the water crisis is demonstrated by water trading, whereby ownership of water rights can be alienated from land ownership, allowing farmers to sell their water rights. The theory is that the market will direct the water to where it will be most efficiently used. However, this confuses what is most efficient with what is most profitable. Small farmers, stricken by drought and salination, will sell their water to agribusiness and urban industry. Far from resulting in the water being used most efficiently, the most profitable uses are generally the most destructive.

What is needed is a rejection of the ideology of allowing the market — that is, the profit motive of big business — to determine how water is used. This means all water use should be publicly disclosed and society having the right to democratically determine how water is used. More is needed than simply demanding that industry and agriculture use water more efficiently. Society needs the right to decide what forms of agricultural and industrial production should exist. While this would involve radical restrictions on corporate property rights the alternative is that Australia will literally run out of water.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #698 14 February 2007.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Short Changed By George Monbiot


9/11 conspiracism is dragging activists away from the real issues.
There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the United States, the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam, trying to infect me. The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young men which airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike the other 9/11 conspiracy films, Loose Change is sharp and swift, with a thumping soundtrack, slick graphics and a calm and authoritative voiceover. Its makers claim that it has now been watched by 100 million people.

The Pentagon, the film maintains, was not hit by a commercial airliner. There was “no discernable trace” of a plane found in the wreckage, and the entrance and exit holes in the building were far too small. It was hit by a Cruise missile. The twin towers were brought down by means of “a carefully planned controlled demolition”. You can see the small puffs of smoke caused by explosives just below the cascading sections. All other hypotheses are implausible: the fire was not hot enough to melt steel and the towers fell too quickly. Building 7 was destroyed by the same means a few hours later.

Flight 93 did not crash, but was redirected to Cleveland Airport, where the passengers were taken into a NASA building and never seen again. Their voices had been cloned by the Los Alamos laboratories and used to make fake calls to their relatives. The footage of Osama Bin Laden, claiming responsibility for the attacks, was faked. The US government carried out this great crime for four reasons: to help Larry Silverstein, who leased the towers, to collect his insurance money; to assist insider traders betting on falling airline stocks; to steal the gold in the basement; and to grant George Bush new executive powers, so that he could carry out his plans for world domination.

Even if you have seen or read no other accounts of 9/11, and your brain has not yet been liquidised, a few problems must occur to you. The first is the complete absence of scientific advice. At one point the presenter asks “So what brought down the Twin Towers? Let’s ask the experts.” But they don’t ask the experts. The film makers take some old quotes, edit them to remove any contradictions, then denounce all subsequent retractions as further evidence of conspiracy.

The only people they interview are a janitor, a group of firemen and a flight instructor. They let the janitor speak at length, but cut the firemen off in mid-sentence. The flight instructor speaks in short clips, which give the impression that his pupil, the hijacker Hani Hanjour, was incapable of hitting the Pentagon. Elsewhere he has said the opposite: he had “no doubt” that Hanjour could have done it(1).

Where are the structural engineers, the materials scientists, the specialists in ballistics, explosives or fire? The film makers now say that the third edition of the film will be fact-checked by an expert, but he turns out to be “a theology professor”(2). They don’t name him, but I would bet that it’s David Ray Griffin, who also happens to be the high priest of the 9/11 conspiracists.

The next evident flaw is that the plot they propose must have involved tens of thousands of people. It could not have been executed without the help of demolition experts, the security firms guarding the World Trade Centre, Mayor Giuliani (who hastily disposed of the remains), much of the US Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the relatives of the people “killed” in the plane crashes, the rest of the Pentagon’s staff, the Los Alamos laboratories, the FBI, the CIA and the investigators who picked through the rubble.

If there is one universal American characteristic it is a confessional culture which permits no one with a good story to keep his mouth shut. People appear on the Jerry Springer Show to admit to carnal relations with their tractors. Yet none of the participants in this monumental crime has sought to blow the whistle – before, during or after the attacks. No one has volunteered to tell the greatest story ever told.
Read some conflicting accounts, and Loose Change’s case crumbles faster than the Twin Towers. Hundreds of people saw a plane hit the Pentagon. Because it collided with one of the world’s best- defended buildings at full speed, the plane was pulverised: even so, both plane parts and body parts were in fact recovered. The wings and tail disintegrated when they hit the wall, which is why the holes weren’t bigger(3).

The failure of the Twin Towers has been exhaustively documented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the building fell(4).

Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own expert – an aerospace and mechanical engineer – to test the official findings(5). He shows that the institute must have been right. He also demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from the twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel onto the fire. The support trusses weakened and buckled and the building imploded(6). Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same conclusions(7).

So the critics – even Counterpunch – are labelled co-conspirators, and the plot expands until it comes to involve a substantial part of the world’s population. There is no reasoning with this madness.

People believe Loose Change because it proposes a closed world: comprehensible, controllable, small. Despite the great evil which runs it, it is more companionable than the chaos which really governs our lives, a world without destination or purpose. This neat story draws campaigners away from real issues – global warming, the Iraq war, nuclear weapons, privatisation, inequality – while permanently wrecking their credibility. Bush did capitalise on the attacks, and he did follow a pre-existing agenda, spelt out, as Loose Change says, by the Project for a New American Century. But by drowning this truth in an ocean of nonsense, the conspiracists ensure that it can never again be taken seriously.

The film’s greatest flaw is this: the men who made it are still alive. If the US government is running an all-knowing, all-encompassing conspiracy, why did it not snuff them out long ago? There is only one possible explanation. They are in fact agents of the Bush regime, employed to distract people from its real abuses of power. This, if you are inclined to believe such stories, is surely a more plausible theory than the one proposed in Loose Change.

www.monbiot.com
References: 1. Thomas Frank, 23rd September 2001. Tracing Trail Of Hijackers. Newsday. Viewed at: http://www.pentagonresearch.com/Newsday_com.htm 2. Ed Pilkington, 26th January 2007. ‘They’re all forced to listen to us’. The Guardian.3. Benjamin Chertoff et al, March 2005. Debunking The 9/11 Myths. Popular Mechanics.http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html
4. National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2006. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/factsheets/faqs_8_2006.htm5. Manuel Garcia, 28th November 2006. We See Conspiracies That Don’t Exist: The Physics of 9/11.http://www.counterpunch.org/physic11282006.html 6. Manuel Garcia, 28th November 2006. Dark Fire: The Fall of WTC 7. http://www.counterpunch.org/darkfire11282006.html7. Benjamin Chertoff et al, ibid.

Published in the Guardian 6th February 2007