Democratic Malaise Draws Ukraine Eastwards

Democratic Malaise Draws Ukraine Eastwards

KIEV, Ukraine — Until recently, Ukraine seemed to be leaning westwards to a more open and democratic style of government, but following the reversal of a reform that curbed presidential powers, there is a sense that the country is being drawn to eastwards.

Kiev’s Mother of the Motherland statue now represents Russia’s influence.
She is made from a massive slab of titanium and stands 62m (200ft) high.

She holds up a sword and a shield emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, and stretches skywards watching over the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

They call her Mother of the Motherland, built symbolically to defend the Soviet Union from an encroaching Western Europe.

Unlike similar statues in many other former Soviet countries, this statue has not been pulled down. Instead, she has come to represent the new-looming influence of Russia.

“See that?” said an American tourist.

He pointed to the top of the statue, brought his hand rapidly down to the base, then lifted it up again, then down again. “Nowadays they call it Vertical Power.”

“They call it what?” I asked.

“Or Power Vertical,” he answered. “Check it out.”

Caught in a rainstorm, Oleg Rybuchuk, who runs a think tank, arrived late for our meeting.

As soon as we sat down, I asked what was meant by Power Vertical and whether it formed part of the government’s policy.

He laughed. “It means you have the biggest boss and he gives a command and it goes through like blood in arteries and reaches everywhere.”

“Is it good or bad?” I asked. “What’s the opposite – Power Horizontal?”

“Neither is good,” he said quietly, his smile fading. “But the opposite, we call chaos.”

He was referring to the post-Soviet period, particularly the years after mass protests in 2004, hailed as the Orange Revolution, that threw out apparatchik politicians and ushered in reformists who were meant to forge a path towards European Union membership.

It was yet another notch, many analysts thought, on the scoreboard for Western democracy.

But it did not work out like that and earlier this year conservative politicians were voted back into government.

According to critics, they have been bolstering their own power and moving against activists and the media.

In Brussels, that nerve centre of the European Union, there has been much talk that Ukraine might now never become a member, that it is turning its back on the West and taking a lead from the new authoritarian Russia – from where, according to Google, the phrase “Power Vertical” first emerged.

“Ukrainians don’t believe anymore in fairytales,” said Walid Arfush, who was among the Orange Revolution demonstrators.

He became disillusioned, switched sides and is now the deputy head of the government-controlled television station.

“We never had democracy here, only something that looked like democracy that the foreign newspapers wrote about.

“The only thing Ukrainians worry about is how can I pay my bills, how can I afford schooling for my kids.”

Life of poverty

Less than an hour’s drive from Kiev, I came upon a scene that far from resembling an emerging European economy, was more suited to the pages of novel by Leo Tolstoy.

It was a product – as Tolstoy wrote – of the storm-tossed sea of European history.

A young man, in ragged clothes, his face creased with work and the weather, lifted a load of hay onto his back.

Bent double, an almost Biblical figure, he carried it to a barn where his mother was gathering cows in a pen.

His name was Volodymyr Petrovych. He was 10 when the Soviet Union collapsed and today was celebrating his 31st birthday.

The farm used to be a Soviet co-operative, rows of once magnificent whitewashed buildings, now run down and broken, with stray dogs running through the grounds.

Not surprisingly, Volodymyr had not heard of Power Vertical, nor was he much interested.

“The trouble is there’s no difference between politicians,” he grumbled, bundling up another load of hay. “They’re always fighting each other. Politics is politics. But here is real life.”

“Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union, you know,” chipped in his mother. “Then our wages went three times further.”

“So, what do you want for your birthday?” I asked Volodymyr.

He stood upright and brushed dirt off his hands. “I need a horse to carry these loads. But we can’t afford one.”

Back in Kiev, I met a deputy prime minister, veteran conservative politician Borys Kolesnikov. I told him about Volodymyr’s need for a horse.

“That’s what we really have to sort out,” he answered. “Wages. This is our biggest challenge.”

“Will you do that with Power Vertical?” I asked.

He chuckled. “Our opponents make an issue of this, but the meaning is very simple. It means that decisions taken by the president are carried out. That’s all.”

“But people say it means curtailing freedoms, turning away from Europe and leaning towards Moscow,” I say.

“No,” he countered, fixing me with an iron gaze. “You tell me about the farmer who needs a horse.

“Real freedom comes when there is freedom of the economy, so this Power Vertical is not Russia or Europe or democracy or anything. It’s just making things work.”

Source: BBC News

The case of the Arctic Sea is blurred

El 'Arctic Sea'

The case of the Arctic Sea is blurred

The journalist who reported the disappearance of the ship flees Russia threatened – Growing the hypothesis that the Mossad seized the ship carrying arms to Iran because

RODRIGO FERNÁNDEZ - Moscow – 04/09/2009

The history of Russian ship Arctic Sea has become increasingly bizarre. Mikhail Voitenko journalist, editor of a magazine in the maritime sector, has left Russia en route to Turkey for having received, according to the complaint, death threats. Voitenko was the one who revealed the mysterious disappearance of the vessel in the waters of the Atlantic-was ‘lost’ from 24 July to 16 August, and one of the first journalists who said the ship, officially carrying a wood worth 3 million euros in Finland to Algeria, carrying weapons.

“While Russia is out I feel safe. At least they can not take back and lock” Voitenko told the BBC by telephone from Istanbul. The newsletter editor of maritime Sovfrakht explained that people who are involved in the murky issue of ship are angry with him because he has spoken publicly of the issue of smuggling. Believes that the threats against him came from the Russian secret service.

The view that the Arctic Sea carrying weapons has been reinforced in recent days as speculation has gathered momentum that the kidnapping was the work of common pirates but an operation of the Israeli secret service, Mossad. It has been reported that the Israelis stormed the ship to prevent the shipment of arms came to Iran.

The first person who pointed to the possibility of arms trafficking in this case was the novelist and journalist Yulia Latynina, an article published in the fortnightly magazine Novy Gazeta. Said on that occasion: “Let the Arctic Sea had weapons or nuclear material, which is produced in Russia and for our peaceful allies such as Syria or Iran in this case, the more likely the ship interceptor is Israel, and the history of kidnapping Pirates of the ‘Pacific freighter’ reminds us of the Israeli bombardment of ‘a couple of abandoned buildings’ in the Syrian desert about two years ago. “

Recently, Admiral Tarmo Kouts, rapporteur of the European Union on piracy and former commander of the armed forces of Estonia, also believes that the Arctic Sea“was intercepted by agents working for Israel.”

The strange thing is that Russia seems to be against the disclosure of this release. At least Komosomólskaya Pravda, a popular newspaper and not do anything that might irritate the Kremlin, last week published an interview with an alleged captain, attached to the General Staff of the Army and alleged participant in the search of the Arctic Sea, in which showed that this ship was carrying arms and possibly the pirates were at the service of Mossad. When the reporter asked if the ship was carrying, in addition to wood, drugs or weapons, the anonymous captain replied that “the version of the drug was discarded from the beginning of the investigation.” “Are there guns?” The reporter is interested. “Yes, arms,” replied the sailor.

Komsomólsakya Pravda means that could be sophisticated S-300 missile launchers, but the captain explains that it would be impossible to hide on the freighter. Now “could be missile S-300 launchers, bombs ‘smart’ or other missiles, such as X-55″ noted the official. What is the captain did not explain what it would launch a missile Iran has not.Or is that the mullahs already possess the sophisticated weaponry?

Two days ago, Yediot Aharonot, the most widely distributed newspaper in Israel, gave front-page news that “pirates sent by Mossad seized on the high seas of the Arctic Sea. ” In support of this release speak, as his supporters, the visit of President Shimon Peres held in Sochi with his counterpart Dmitri Medvedev immediately after the Arctic Seawas found and boarded by Russian naval vessels.

The captain interviewed by Komsomolskaya Pravda says that Russia has asked NATO and the European countries not to intervene in the matter of the Arctic Sea. But no one can explain why Europe allegedly covered up a weapons smuggling for a country like Iran, against which no international sanctions. Because what is clear is that Europe has stepped aside and left everything in the hands of the Russians.

The true story of Arctic Sea case

La verdadera historia del caso Arctic Sea 1250517869759barcodn

First read this link: The Case of the Arctic Sea is blurred – The Country – Author Rodrigo Fernández – 04/09/2009

To understand the troubled history of the case Arctic Sea, would first have to understand the blatant manipulation of the country on this case. El País, is the most reactionary media in Spain.Those who think that is half of the left, should think about it a lot. Is half the extreme right, the right most ancient and despised in the country. The average Llosa, Bilderberg, the mini genocidal racist state of Israel.

Read, please first article of the country, and post the true story of Arctic Sea For example, in the first line of the country, tells us that “The journalist Mikhail Voitenko (Estulin note: the guy who supposedly has taken information to light), editor of a magazine in the maritime sector, has left Russia en route to Turkey for having received, according to the complaint, death threats. “Well, that ye may know Voitenko, a journalistic prostitute Juan court Luis Cebrian has left Russia because of threats, but because this is part of the frontal attack against Russian interests.He did not bring anything, nor fears for his life. Simply, you get paid for this rubbish and, subsequently leaving Russia (currently located in Bangkok).

La verdadera historia del caso Arctic Sea 420missingshipvoyage 420x0

The undeclared war against Russia is taking on many fronts. Arctic Sea, it is simply a piece of this war.

THE TRUE STORY OF ARCTIC SEA – Daniel Estulin

Arctic Sea operation was carried out by the extremist leadership of the Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) with the help of American neocons and Vice President Joseph Biden, the enemy of Russia. The aim of this operation is to end the monumental efforts of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin to normalize bilateral relations between the two nuclear superpowers.

 

Arctic Sea was not carrying any weapons. However, its cargo included five tons of Afghan heroin.

La verdadera historia del caso Arctic Sea 1250171622068

This shipment was purchased from Mr. Makhmadsaid Ubaiduloev, President of the Upper Chamber of the Supreme Assembly of Tajikistan by the agents of a criminal group of Russian military intelligence (GRU). The criminals were planning to deliver the goods in the Bay of Biscay to a ship owned by a group of Basques linked to ETA.

The extremist leaders of Ukraine’s military intelligence had been aware of this operation and reported it to competitors of the first group of criminals GRU – another group within the Russian GRU dedicated to drug crime and the smuggling of weapons that can intercept this shipment of heroin. Ukrainian leaders also shared this information with their counterparts in the U.S. and British intelligence services.

Ukrainians plan was to use the drug in the Arctic Sea incautelada for a political show. The public exposure of the drug traffickers of Russian GRU and his accomplices had been a setback for Russia’s international reputation. This was prevented by the strong and concerted action of the Russian Navy. But Russian authorities have found themselves in a difficult and demanding. The case of the Arctic Sea is a dramatic confirmation of the enormous extent of corruption and crime in the Russian army, of some members of the secret services and government that threatens the survival of the Russian state in equal measure to its external enemies.

Daniel Estulin

Canadian government’s top-secret plan to detain thousands of citizens with Communist links

Enemies of the State: Synopsis

It seems hard to imagine today that a Canadian government would approve a plan to round up thousands of law-abiding Canadians and lock them away simply because they were perceived to be a threat to Canadian democracy.

Conceived in the early days of the Cold War, the top-secret plan called “Profunc” was to be enacted if Canadian national security was threatened. The fear was stoked by the outbreak of the Korean War, which looked as if it might become the precursor to WW3.

In Canada, the head of the RCMP drew up a plan to lock up “Prominent Functionaries,” including known communists and other people deemed to be subversives. The plan is breathtaking in its scale and detail. It listed those who were to be arrested, where they would be interned and how they were to be treated. Families of targeted people were not spared: many wives and children were to be locked away as well.

Incredibly, The Profunc blueprint remained in place until the 1980s. Only today are some people learning for the first time that they and their families were deemed Enemies of the State. The names of those people will astonish most Canadians.

“Enemies of the State’ also explores the targeting of possible ‘subversives’ today and asks what kinds of lists might exist that the Canadian public doesn’t know about.

US pressure behind Pak “freeing” secret peace talks Taliban chief Mullah Baradar?

US pressure behind Pak “freeing” secret peace talks Taliban chief Mullah Baradar?

Islamabad, Oct 16(ANI): Taliban’s top military commander Mullah Baradar, who was arrested earlier this year in Karachi, and was involved in secret negotiations with the Afghan government over a possible peace deal, has reportedly been “freed” by the Pakistani authorities.

Talking to the Daily Times, a Taliban leader did not confirm or deny the report about Baradar’s release, but commented that “Baradar was never arrested in the first place”.

Another source claimed that “the folks in Washington DC had given the nod for the release of Baradar”, and that the Americans and the British were aware of the situation.

It is to be noted that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was extremely angry over Baradar’s arrest, as he saw it as a deliberate attempt to dent the peace talks between Kabul and Taliban.

Meanwhile, talking about the scenario, a western diplomat said: “This could be the biggest risk we are taking to seal a deal in Afghanistan, but I am not too optimistic about it.”

Baradar, who is second only to its supreme leader Mullah Omar, was arrested along with several other militant figures in February, as they were establishing a new Taliban command and training centre in Karachi.

Before his capture, Baradar was overseeing the group’s operations across its primary area of activity in southern and western Afghanistan. (ANI)

US/Russian Cover-Up of Victor Bout and Sales of Advanced Missiles

Today we posted in my exclusive interview with Dimitri Khalezov from Bangkok. The interview explains absolutely everything related to Bout.

We talked about Granite, of 11-S, the DEA, atomic weapons, the unfortunate part of the Russian government treacherous. In short, few media access to such information. And, no half-Spanish, of course never dare to publish something.

I ask you please help to distribute the interview to all your contacts. Now comes in English. We are already working to publish tomorrow or Spanish.

Daniel Estulin

Entrevista exclusiva a Dimitri Khalezov desde Bangkok Dimitri Khalezov interview 2

FULL INTERVIEW TO DIMITRI Khalezov Daniel Estulin

(You can also download it here for distribution)

Dimitri is a Former Soviet Khalezov commissioned officer of the “military unit 46179, Otherwise Known as” the Special Control Service “of the 12th Chief Directorate of the Defense Ministry of the Soviet Union. I Agree To have this exclusive interview and it is our pleasure to Be Able to offer readers of http://www.danielestulin.com Another quality first. Dimitri is a crucial piece of the puzzle in the case of Victor Bout. It is safe to say That Had It Not Been for Dimitri’s dedication to helping Mr. Bout, incorruptibility and historical brilliance, Victor, Might Have Found Himself very well today behind bars in Some high-profile American prison. Dimitri is the first man to see Mr. Bout’s arrest after his world famous in Bangkok and I is the Man Who Has Given More Headaches to the United States Government Than Anyone else in the world. Furthermore, Dimitri Khalezov is the first person in the world to Have Uncovered the true Reasons for the United States Government’s dogged pursuit of Victor Bout. Mr. Bout’s arrest is Directly linked to 9 / 11, and Mr. Khalezov, Because of His unique vantage point as a member of the Former Soviet “atomic” and later “nuclear” I Knew That intelligence says about the in-built So-Called “Demolitions nuclear emergency scheme” of the Twin Towers as long back as early 1980′s, while serving in the Soviet Special Control Service.

How did you get Involved in the case?

Both Victor Bout and I Are Russian. We are Both Former Soviet military officers. Moreover, Actually we eat from the Saami village. I think, These Are good enough reason to try and help him with historical case, considering That Victor WAS Arrested in Bangkok and I Happened to Have Been living in Bangkok at the time of His arrest. Furthermore, i have Extensive experience with the Thai legal system, Especially When You Consider That the United States Government has tried to Have Me Arrested and extradited to America too in connection with 9 / 11. It Happened back in 2003. So, i have enough motivation to try to help Victor.

In March 2008, Victor Bout WAS Osama bin Laden’s equal as far as notoriety on the world’s stage.How did you manage to see Victor Bout on the very first day of His detention in Bangkok?

Under the Thai Criminal Procedure Any person under arrest has his or her undeniable right to Be visited by friends while under arrest. Victor Bout, Despit Being the so-Called “Merchant of Death” and the So-Called “Lord of War” Was Not Excluded from the Provisions of the Thai Criminal Procedure Code. Simply I Came to the police station and WHERE He Was Detained Request to visit my friend. They Had to let me see him as much as it Might Have Them Paine. In FACT, the police jump up out of Their way to help. Both of us They Seated on a sofa in the corridor and let us chat nicely. Usually They only allow visitors to talk to Detained persons detention-through bars of a cage, But for Victor and me They made an exception to this rule.

Continue reading »

Russia: up for renewal

Russia: up for renewal

This month, IFandP takes a look at Russia’s power sector, which is currently in a state of transition. Privatisation has unlocked significant wealth, but in an uncertain investment climate, can the country succeed in replacing its legacy of Soviet-era equipment before it’s too late?


Russia’s power sector has an impressive challenge: handling the renewal of Soviet-era infrastructure, while adjusting to a radically-different structure and at the same time delivering power across vast distances.  (read HERE)

WTO accession of Russia’s customs bloc underway, says Putin

[What makes a Russian union with Kazakhstan and Belarus acceptable to the WTO, when Russia alone, has been unacceptable for the past 15 years?]

WTO accession of Russia’s customs bloc underway, says Putin.

WTO accession of Russia’s customs bloc underway, says Putin

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has been underway according to the agreements reached, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

“Speaking about moving toward WTO accession, we meant two possible options: either joint accession or accommodation of the principles of the WTO accession,” the Interfax news agency quoted Putin as saying.

“At the end of the day, we have agreed that we coordinate all principal parameters which are sensitive for our economics, among us, and based on these agreements, we have resolved the issues of WTO accession,” Putin said, stressing that Russia did nothing beyond the frames of those agreements.

He stressed that Russia had been in active contact with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and noted that creation of the common economic space has been going faster than expected.

Putin said the three sides discussed 17 agreements, most of which have been either ready or nearly ready.

He admitted that there were “objective difficulties” but the movement to the final aim “has been faster than it was possible even to suppose.”

The Russian head of government pointed out that the three countries had planned to form the judicial base of the common market in 2010-2011.

“Start of the common economic space is a step in direction of modern open economy, more stable to the oscillations of the global environment,” Putin said.

In 2009, Moscow, Minsk and Astana announced that they were going to join the WTO as a single entity. However, Moscow claimed later that Russia might seek membership into the WTO separately, depending on which way turned out faster.

Russia, which has been seeking WTO membership for more than 15 years, is the largest economy remaining outside the global trade watchdog.

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

Putin has formulated a new political doctrine

Putin has formulated a new political doctrine

Baku, Fineko/abc.az. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin used a meeting of Heads of Government of the Customs Union participating countries to formulate a new political doctrine of Russia.

Putin stated that Russia was ready to discuss participation of all partners in the CIS and EurAsEC within such integration alliances as the Customs Union and Common Economic Space.

“We are willing to discuss participation in integration processes of any of our partners on the post-Soviet area. The process of coordination of positions is going to be very difficult. Those, who will join later, will base themselves from those positions, which we (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) have achieved in the hard work,” Putin said.

According to the Russian PM, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have “displayed for a long time direct interest to work together within integration unions”, and dialogue with Ukraine is possible as well.

De facto, the new political doctrine of Putin comes to the concept of “commercial isolationism”: Russia is isolated from the “uncomfortable” partners, relying on the most tractable, and does business with the rest on the principles of commercial consortia: the first participants receive maximum benefit and follow-ups – less significant. Roughly speaking, it looks like a system of operation of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline: minimum tariff for transit for members of BTC Co and a higher one, fixed on a contractual basis, for the other.

The closer to presidential election in 2012 the differences in political concepts of PM Putin and current Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev are becoming more substantial. The foremost is increasingly drifting toward isolationism, and the latter is trying to push expansionist ideas of “active defense”: the attack is the best protection.

 

Newspaper Claims FBI Knew About Headley’s Plans and Did Nothing to Interfere With Them

Report: FBI Warned Ahead of Mumbai Attacks

VOA News16 October 2010

This file photograph taken on 27 Nov 2008 shows flames gushing out of The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, one of the sites attacked by alleged militant gunmen

Photo: AFP

This file photograph taken on 27 Nov 2008 shows flames gushing out of The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, one of the sites attacked by alleged militant gunmen

 

A major newspaper says U.S. agents were warned years before the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that an American man was training in Pakistan with the group that carried it out, and helped plan the attack.

The Washington Post says the FBI received the tip about David Coleman Headley from his wife in August of 2005.  Citing sources close to the case, it says she told FBI agents that her husband had undergone intensive training with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and was in contact with extremists.

The report, co-authored with the journalism foundation ProPublica, says Headley went to Mumbai five times to scout locations for the terrorist assault on the Indian city.

The attack lasted three days, left 166 people dead and more than 300 others wounded.

The newspaper says the FBI interviewed Headley’s wife three times, but that he remained free to travel around the world on the scouting missions.  He was not arrested until almost a year after the Mumbai attack, and is now in U.S. custody.

The Washington Post says U.S. anti-terrorism agencies did warn Indian counterparts in 2008 about a possible plot to target Mumbai, but it is not clear if those warnings were based on the tip from Headley’s wife.

Holbrooke Credits Pressure On Taliban, NOT NATO Desperation, for Peace Talks

Increased military pressure forced Taliban into talks: US

* Holbrooke says Pakistan has legitimate interests in Afghanistan

* Petraeus says NATO allowed Taliban official to Kabul for talks

BRUSSELS: Increased military pressure had forced the Taliban to enter talks for ending the war in Afghanistan, Special US Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said on Friday.

Due to the tremendously increased military pressure on the insurgents, “There have been an increasing number of people associated with the Taliban who’ve reached out and said: ‘We want to talk about an alternative to the war,’” Holbrooke said, adding that formal negotiations are not taking place. “This does not constitute a formal negotiation, but it falls in the category of reintegration,” he told journalists. “It’s beginning to pick up a little bit of momentum. It’s going slower than I would like but at least it’s moving,” he added. The envoy declined to further discuss the peace moves in Afghanistan, saying nobody’s interests were served by the constant speculation about talks. “There’s nothing incompatible between increased military pressure and keeping the door open to reconciliation and reintegration,” he said.

Holbrooke said the US acknowledges Pakistan’s legitimate security interests in Afghanistan. “We have said repeatedly that Pakistan and other countries have legitimate security interests in what happens in Afghanistan. That’s natural,” he said, adding “So, the Pakistanis must be part of the solution if Afghanistan is going to have a peaceful resolution of 32 years of war,” he remarked. The envoy further said that the killing of three Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border NATO attack had not affected US support in flood relief efforts.

Meanwhile, US General David Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said that the NATO-led forces facilitated the passage of a senior Taliban commander to Kabul to hold talks with the Afghan government. He said the move was part of US and NATO support for President Hamid Karzai’s reconciliation discussions with the Taliban.

“In certain respect we do facilitate that, given that, needless to say it would not be the easiest of tasks for a senior Taliban commander to enter Afghanistan and make his way to Kabul if ISAF were not … aware of it and, therefore, allows it to take place,” he told an audience in London. “That’s about as far as I can go on that at this point,” he added. The general said several “very senior” Taliban leaders had reached out to the Afghan government and other countries engaged in Afghanistan, however, the discussions were preliminary in nature. “They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations,” he said. daily times monitor/agencies

Brits Bringing “Al Qaida” Ground Troops Into Bosnia

The video you are watching shows footage of Arab Muslim Mujahideen (Odred El Mudzahidin) being brought into Bosnia on UN transports to carry out part of the Islamic war against the non-believers, in this case the Serbs.Formed under the orders of the Bosnian Presdient Alija Izetbegović, the Mudzahidin, also know as the ‘7th Muslim brigade’ were a unit made up entirely of Muslim Arabs shipped over from the Islamic world to engage in the wider Jihad and to help establish Muslim states within Europe.http://www.juliagorin.com/wordpress/?p=2474

Anarchism demystified

[The author of the following gives a clear explanation of the mostly misunderstood political belief system known as anarchism.  Because of the actions of a few violent anarchists, all anarchists are considered to be in the same class as terrorists.  Perhaps the following will demystify the people who believe that life would be better if the state would just pass away.]

Anarchism demystified

—Ralph Shaw

Although the anarchists are unanimous in their detestation of state-sponsored capitalism, they have divergent views on capitalism if state sponsorship is removed. To the individualists, the evil is not capitalism itself, rather it is the collusion between the state and those who own capital

Contrary to popular belief, anarchism as a set of ideas does not mean chaos, nihilism, or social breakdown per se, but chaos and temporary breakdown of social order can occur in pursuance of anarchist aims. The same as a nihilist, an anarchist refuses to bow to authority, but unlike a nihilist, he does not believe in destruction for the sake of destruction — a position that results from the nihilist’s belief in the nothingness of existence and valuelessness of all morality. Anarchists would argue that their aims are noble and constructive rather than destructive, that they want to bring about a society that is free from chaos, war, violence and poverty and, most anarchists would, in fact, eschew violence.

So what is anarchism? The fact is that anarchism, the same as socialism, comes in so many flavours and variations that often contradict each other that it is not easy to give it a straightforward definition. It has been argued from such diametrically opposite positions as individualism and communism — one advocating individual sovereignty and the other social solidarity — that it does not seem like a consistent theory. As David Miller puts it in his book, Anarchism (1983), more than an ideology, anarchism looks like a jumble of beliefs without rhyme or reason. However, Miller has done an excellent job demystifying anarchism and some of his elucidations are summarised here.

Miller argues that there is a common thread running through variations of anarchism by which the anarchists can be grouped together. Belief in a stateless society is common to all types of anarchists. That the state should be replaced by a new form of social organisation is a universal creed held by anarchists of all shades. They see the state as a punitive, coercive, exploitative, and destructive body that should be replaced by functionally specific institutions and believe that the institutions should be voluntary and not compulsory. Their main emphasis is on privatisation of state institutions along functional lines. According to the anarchists, each institution should have a clearly defined role such as guiding production, consumption, and social order, but none should be sovereign over the others. The anarchist institutions should also be voluntary in the sense that all those who are to be governed by a specific institution should voluntarily choose to do so. To give people such choice, some theorists have suggested establishing collective agencies that compete for people’s allegiances. To the anarchist, collective institutions are preferable to state bureaucracies, because such institutions would either be run by direct democracy or through rotation of office.

Anarchists detest organised religion and economic systems such as capitalism and socialism as much as they detest the state and have spewed as much venom against organised religion and existing economic systems as against the state. Same as their common hostility to the state, their common dread of the church stems from their critique of the principle of authority that entails that no person or institution can ever have the right to issue orders others have to obey. The authority of the priest over the believer is seen as the origin of all authority, i.e. once a person has submitted to the authority of another in spiritual matters, it becomes easier to induce him into subservience to political leaders. The priest can use his authority to issue doctrines of obedience to the political authorities, thus legitimising the state. Even though most anarchists have been atheists, claiming that belief in God is a response to social deprivations, their enemy is not religion as such but organised religion, i.e. “churches that disseminate official creeds whose content is hierarchically controlled”.

Although the anarchists are unanimous in their detestation of state-sponsored capitalism, the prevalent mode of capitalism, they have divergent views on capitalism if state sponsorship is removed. To the individualists, the evil is not capitalism itself, rather it is the collusion between the state and those who own capital. They believe if this link is broken, the oppressive effects such as monopolies and concentration of wealth would vanish. Consequently, wealth would be more equally distributed. To the communist anarchists, however, private ownership of property means inevitable concentration of wealth and resources in a few hands. Hence capitalism of any shade is unacceptable to them. The anarchists are equally opposed to state socialism. From the anarchist point of view, a socialist state is a state nonetheless in which a ruling class controls the rest of society. Even though the capitalists and priests have been replaced by socialists and so-called social scientists, coercion and exploitation continue. There is lack of consensus on the kind of economic system the anarchists propose. The alternatives they advance range from free market systems to systems of communal ownership in which goods are produced by independent communes and distributed on the basis of need. Even though the proposed alternatives lack clarity on what exactly they should be, there is no confusion in the anarchist’s thinking on what they ought not to be. The anarchist economic systems cannot be centrally controlled. A decentralised form composed of voluntary associations would be in keeping with anarchist thinking and acceptable to them.

Even though most anarchists do not advocate violence, historically, a small proportion has used terrorist methods to achieve their ends. They have even tried to justify such acts, though unconvincingly, as either acts of revenge and retribution, or on the grounds that the state cannot be dissolved but through violence. Anarchist terrorism took place mostly in the 1890s and the 1970s and only a tiny minority was involved, but it was instrumental in affixing the image of an anarchist as a heinous monster in the popular imagination.

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at ralphshaw11@gmail.com

World Bank Strong-Arming Pakistan Even for Emergency Flood Assistance

Reforms needed for Pak flood aid, says World Bank

* WB country director says world wants Pakistan to do its bit, mobilise resources before expecting donors to pitch in

* Pakistan must tax the rich

BRUSSELS: Pakistan needs funds for at least one year of reconstruction after its devastating floods, but in turn it must assure donors it will revamp tax and subsidy regimes, a senior World Bank official said on Friday.

“What is important is to pledge at least the entire amount that is needed for the first eight to 12 months… that cannot wait,” Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank country director for Pakistan, told Reuters in an interview.

Such initial funding could help to rebuild livelihoods and put cash into rural economies as villagers return to the flood-hit plains.

But a donors’ conference scheduled for next month should also present “the opportunity to secure the balance” of support needed for reconstruction, Benmessaoud said. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have estimated the cost of recovering from the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history at about $9.7 billion, and estimates of how much of that is needed in the first year are expected in the next few weeks. The ADB has said reconstruction will take two to three years.

Benmessaoud was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, also attended by ADB and IMF officials and ministers from European Union countries.

The World Bank wants assurances from Pakistan that it will put in place macroeconomic reforms, revamp its fiscal regime and cut subsidies to a derelict power sector that last year amounted to about $2.5 billion.

Mobilising resources: “There is a demand from the international community … that Pakistan has to do its bit, mobilising resources before it can expect donors to pitch in,” Benmessaoud said.

“Pakistan must tax the rich who are not paying taxes at the moment,” he said, adding, “There needs to be better competition in the power sector. When you reduce subsidies to the power sector then you can put more girls in school.”

His comments echoed those of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said on Thursday it was “absolutely unacceptable” that Pakistan’s wealthy were not contributing more to flood relief, while the country was being helped by foreign taxpayers.

Benmessaoud rejected calls for Pakistan’s $55 billion foreign debt to be forgiven. “We have a triple-A rating which is essential… and we need to maintain it. Therefore, we cannot on our side do the debt write-off. But the economy of Pakistan has a lot of opportunity for efficiency gains,” he said.

Donations should focus on agricultural areas rich in such efficiency potential. Support for Pakistan’s textile sector – a source of foreign reserves and employment – is also important, Benmessaoud said.

“Private-public partnerships would help. Why not invest in Pakistan? This is something that has been reiterated… for companies to invest in Pakistan,” he said.

The European Union this month pledged to suspend import tariffs worth about 140 million a year on a list of Pakistani goods — mainly textile products — to revive its export sector. The decision faces opposition from European textile producers and could raise the ire of rival textile exporter India. reuters

Over 3 Million Weapons Missing from Punjab Warehouses

Missing weapons

Dawn Editorial
It could well mean the Taliban and a large number of other terrorist militias have sympathisers and activists well-entrenched in the provincial law-enforcement machinery. –Photo by AFP

Even though there is little that surprises people at this juncture, the report that no less than three million weapons have disappeared from official warehouses in Punjab is appalling.

The details are shocking and give us an idea of the layers of corruption in the law-enforcement structure in the country’s most populous province. Yesterday, this newspaper carried a report based on an official document that revealed the ways in which weapons including grenades and Kalashnikov submachine guns seized from criminals and terrorists went missing: one, not all the arms seized by the police from individuals and gangs were deposited in the district and provincial malkhanas; two, no less than three million of a bewildering variety of arms deposited in the two categories of malkhanas and arsenals of the official bomb disposal squad disappeared.

The Punjab home department must be commended for preparing the report. In fact, it must have been shocked by the contents of the finding. It is a mystery though why the Punjab government did not deem it fit to order an inquiry to fix guilt and take action against those involved in a criminal enterprise of such dimensions. While the details of the weapons that have disappeared have been covered in the Dawn story, it bears repetition to recall that the number of lethal weapons which have gone missing include 3,454 grenades and 4, 490 of the killing machines that are Kalashnikovs.

One can only guess the modus operandi and motives behind the weapons lost. A large number of the weapons must have been sold to criminals by men who are supposed to guard the arsenal, and many others must have been gifted to terrorist outfits. If this is established, this could well mean the Taliban and a large number of other terrorist militias have sympathisers and activists well-entrenched in the provincial law-enforcement machinery.

The disappearances could also mean that Punjab warehouses are one of the terrorists’ major sources of arms — and not only in Punjab. The meticulous details in the report about the number of weapons deposited with the provincial warehouses and the arms which are still there with the malkhanas show on the whole that some people in the provincial law-enforcement agencies and their overseers do after all care about their job. That in spite of this record-keeping the weapons should disappear is indeed ironic. We expect the Punjab government to release the inquiry report, if and when it is ready, and hope this will prompt the other provinces to take stock of what they have and what they have not.

CIA Snitches Are Pakistan Drone-Spotters

CIA Snitches Are Pakistan Drone-Spotters

How the CIA managed to expand its drone war so far and so fast has been a bit of a mystery. Now we have part of the answer: a network of Pashtun snitches, operating out of eastern Afghanistan, that infiltrate militant networks across the border. The information they collect helps direct the drones. Sometimes the targets are U.S. citizens.

Those Afghans aren’t the same as the ones who comprise its paramilitary Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams, the fighting units that Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book Obama’s Wars first disclosed. “These are really two separate efforts,” a U.S. official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss ongoing intelligence operations, tells Danger Room. “If information from one helps feed the other, all the better. But one is primarily focused on security and stability in Afghanistan while the other is directed at terrorists across the border.”

Since 2001, the CIA has cultivated and managed a large web of Afghan proxy forces, Pakistan-focused informants and allies of convenience, as a richly-detailed Washington Post piece reports today. Some of the CIA’s Afghans are more brutal and incompetent than the agency portrays, according to people with direct experience with them. And some are the missing piece behind America’s unacknowledged war in Pakistan, a CIA-driven effort that the agency considers one its proudest achievements.

 

While the end result of the drone strikes is visible for anyone to see — the New America Foundation keeps a running tally of the missile attacks — their origins are far more opaque. The only possible explanation for how the drones have so far launched 71 strikes in 2010 compared to 34 in 2008 is that the intelligence network supporting them in the Pakistani tribal areas has grown more robust. After all, someone needs to provide usable intelligence about militant activity for the drones to target. But while CIA Director Leon Panetta has bragged that the drone program is “the most aggressive operation that CIA has been involved in in our history,” he and other agency officials have (understandably) said practically nothing about the informant network upon which the drones depend.

That’s led al-Qaeda and its allies to take lethal countermeasures against anyone and anything they suspect to be tied to the drones. They kill local Pakistanis in the tribal areas suspected of being informants. They claim online that the CIA’s moles plant infrared homing beacons in militant areas to flash signals to the drones. And in December, they managed to sneak a Jordanian double agent, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, onto a base called Chapman in eastern Afghanistan. Brought to Chapman on the promise that he could learn the whereabouts of top al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, Balawi blew himself up, killing seven CIA operatives and Blackwater contractors.

According to the Post piece, which draws heavily on the recent WikiLeaks archive of 77,000 frontline military reports from Afghanistan, Chapman, in Khost Province, is only one of a network of CIA bases, mostly in eastern Afghanistan, for training both its Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams and its Pashtun spy network. Firebases Lilly and Orgun-E in Paktika Province — facilities that the CIA shares with Special Operations Forces — are two more launching pads for the Afghan teams. The CIA backstops them with some serious firepower: a 2008-era WikiLeaked report that the Post unearths describes the CIA dropping 500-pound bombs on extremists who launched rockets at Lilly. (So apparently the CIA has air support as well.)

While U.S. officials describe the CIA’s Afghans as “one of the best Afghan fighting forces,” others aren’t so convinced. Author and Afghanistan traveler Robert Young Pelton crossed paths with them. “I did some advising on local militias (called Arbakai) and the Agency big footed us with their version, which is essentially to hire the least trustworthy, least liked and most brutal groups,” Pelton says in an email. “I think CIA paramilitary Billy Waugh described them to me as ‘No good cheating shitheads’ in my book.”

Indeed, some of the Afghans on the CIA payroll include the private militia of Kandahar jefe Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother, who’s long been tied to the Afghan opium trade. The Post provides another example. In 2007, during a home invasion conducted by a CIA-trained Afghan team, a team member severed the fingers of a 30-year old Afghan, who received medical treatment from American troops.

But these Afghans are better paid than their countrymen who join the U.S.-sponsored Afghan military, according to the Post — which means the CIA and the Taliban both offer better wages than the Afghan National Army. That raises the prospect that the CIA is essentially competing with the U.S. military for qualified recruits to the U.S.’s exit strategy. (Without the bothersome first-grade-level reading requirement.)

That cash apparently pays for the seeds of the drone attacks — which, in at least one case that Woodward discovers, killed people holding U.S. passports in a militant training camp. What it buys in Afghanistan is questionable. The CIA’s Afghans were “known more for the their sunglasses and low budget rambo outfits than actually doing anything,” Pelton says. “I am sure they have a lot more gear now and better sunglasses.”

Photo: Noah Shachtman


Coder for CIA: Drone Targeting Software ‘Far From Ready’

Coder for CIA: Drone Targeting Software ‘Far From Ready’

Still wondering if Facebook is a ripoff of ConnectU? That’s nothing. Software firms that developed the targeting systems of the CIA’s terrorist-killing Predator drones are locked in their own intellectual property battle. Their court case has at least an outside chance of halting a program the agency, the White House, and the Pentagon considers vital. And it suggests that the unmanned planes’ weapons aren’t as accurate as the agency claims.

According to emails acquired by Fast Company from the CEO of one of those firms, the agency set too tight a deadline for coders to finish a next-gen Predator targeting program. The code was “far from production ready,” wrote Rich Zimmerman, CEO of Intelligent Integration Systems, known as IISi. In September 2009, Zimmerman noted “problems with some very intricate floating point calculations that are causing me to fail a lot of my regression tests.” Court records aren’t the same thing as proof, but IISi says the targeting system is inaccurate by as much as 40 feet.

To boil down a complex drama, the Predators allegedly find their prey through a version of targeting protocols called Geospatial Toolkit and Extended SQL Toolkit. Those toolkits were developed by IISi back when it used to partner with another Massachusetts software company called Netezza. The partnership’s contract with the CIA became a matter of court record after IISi and Netezza started suing each other — lawsuits that erupted after IISi walked off the contract, citing the allegedly unrealistic deadlines. CIA isn’t a party to the lawsuit.

IISi claims that Netezza wanted to keep the contract, so it created a Geospatial knockoff to hand in. The month after Zimmerman’s email, Netezza president Jim Baum said in an email that an unnamed customer, presumably from the spy agency, “is prepared to deal with early release software. He has a previous generation system so he is able to compare results himself. It is obviously in our mutual best interest to meet this client’s needs quickly.”

 

Now, that doesn’t indicate that the CIA knew the targeting software was faulty, though a British report charges exactly that. But it does suggest that the agency was willing to take some risk to get it into production. And in total fairness, if it didn’t and there was another terrorist attack, we’d all probably be reading stories about how the “risk-averse” CIA’s fear of mistargeting cost Americans their lives. After all, these emails were sent months after Director Leon Panetta called the drones the “only game in town” for attacking al-Qaeda’s leadership.

A CIA representative told me that the agency declined comment, since it’s not a party to the lawsuit.

If IISi is correct, the drones could be off by as much as 40 feet, meaning they could miss houses and compounds containing terrorists. Now consider that there have been at least 87 drone strikes since the targeting problem was known, and that’s on a conservative estimation. That’s sure to reduce the proportion of Pakistanis living in the areas targeted by the drones who believe they largely target the bad guys. And only 16 percent believe that right now.

It could get worse for the agency. IISi is seeking a court-ordered injunction from Netezza’s use of the software. If that happens, writes Fast Company, “this would either force the CIA to ground Predator drones or to break the law in their use… It is unknown if the CIA has a third option in case of a ban on the use of IISI’s toolkit.” Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle is expected to settle the case by December 7 (ironically, the Pearl Harbor anniversary). The magazine expects that there’ll be some face-saving compromise by then. If not, the CIA needs to find a new game to play against terrorists.

Photo: Noah Shachtman


American Pressure-Cooker On Our Best Friend’s Stove

[None of the grandiose plans can possibly work until America rebuilds the trust with Pakistan which we once had.  The calculated destruction of this trust by America's foolish leaders has created the current impasse.  It cannot be overcome by force or the power of persuasion, but only through helpful actions on America's part.  Pressure to finish America's war on Pakistani soil is mounting and the more it builds, the further apart the two allies become.  Military leaders and corporate media cheerleaders are pushing hard to finish the Bush/Cheney war plans, even though the entire operation is in obvious collapse.   The entire war has been pursued with military determination, even though it was clear from the beginning that it was a concept that was to be extremely harmful to millions of innocent individuals, a large portion of which were supposed to be our most loyal allies.   The military objectives depend upon psychological warfare to succeed, but all of the ongoing psyops are creating extremely negative back-pressure, resulting in increased anti-Americanism with every drone assassination.

The fact that the military is pressing forward with a faulty plan is demonstrated clearly with this latest revelation that the targeting software used in the Predators is highly inaccurate, sending Hellfire missiles as much as 40feet off their targets (SEE: Coder for CIA: Drone Targeting Software ‘Far From Ready’ ).  Because the Army/CIA considers the drone program "the only game in town," they continue to send the drones into crowded towns and neighborhoods where they fire the indiscriminate missiles in the general direction of  Pakistanis who might be the men who are on kill lists.  The funny part is that all of the dead are considered to be "militants" killed.  They are counted as more "al Qaida."  In the military's plans, anything in the vicinity of their "kill box" is treated like "Qaida."

This is what pisses the Pakistanis off the most, the fact that America treats all of them like "al Qaida."  This is what must be undone.  We can begin by providing all the support that the Pakistani government needs to stabilize the situation from the devastation of the floods, and withdrawing all support for ongoing destabilization activities.]

American pressure

Dawn Editorial
The Pakistani government risks public alienation with a military operation in North Waziristan at this stage. –Photo by AFP

North Waziristan Agency continues to be a hotbed of militancy. The Haqqani network and its allied al Qaeda affiliates have been using Mir Ali and its adjoining areas in the tribal agency to plan and execute terrorist operations in Afghanistan and beyond.

To that extent, America’s anxiety is understandable. What is not is the way it is handling matters, particularly in the context of its public outbursts against Pakistan at regular intervals. America must realise that the pressure it exerts on Pakistan to take action in North Waziristan makes things that much more difficult for Islamabad. Such pressure is counter-productive and adds to the existing US-Pakistan trust deficit on an issue where there is basic agreement in terms of the final aim, even if there is a difference in approach. The prime minister did well to make it clear that, one, army chief Gen Kayani gave no assurance to the US military that Pakistan would launch an operation in North Waziristan, and, two, if at all Pakistan were to undertake this task it would be Islamabad that would decide on its timing and scale.

While the US does at times demonstrate its realisation of Pakistan’s problems in North Waziristan, there is often an inexplicable demonstration of impatience on its part, meant really for domestic consumption. In his latest statement, Defence Secretary Robert Gates appeared aware that a number of army personnel were involved in flood relief operations But a military strike in North Waziristan, a Haqqani bastion and with the largest concentration of foreign militants, involves more than troop availability. Considerations such as the talk of negotiations and the planned start of US withdrawal next July must be factored in.

Moreover, there are contradictions in US policy. While it urges Pakistan to take up the North Waziristan task, America has gone public with its approval of President Hamid Karzai’s peace initiative. Pakistan has vital stakes in a post-America Afghanistan. For that reason it cannot afford to be reckless. A military operation in North Waziristan at this stage also risks public alienation because the government would be accused of surrendering to America’s wishes.

If Democracy Prevails In California On Nov. 2, the Dictatorship Promises to Intervene

Holder promises to enforce U.S. drug laws if Prop. 19 passes

Attorney general joins local law enforcement officials in opposing legalization of marijuana. Prop. 19 supporters say the U.S. has no legal ground to challenge the measure.

Proposition 19Sheriff Lee Baca, right, listens to former DEA chief Robert Bonner discuss opposition to Proposition 19.(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times / October 14, 2010)

By John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times

Stepping up the Obama administration’s opposition toProposition 19, the nation’s top law enforcement official promised to “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws against Californians who grow or sell marijuana for recreational use even if voters pass the legalization measure.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s response to the initiative comes as the administration has been under pressure to campaign against it more forcefully. Last week, Mexico’s president,Felipe Calderon, chided the Obama administration for not doing enough to defeat it. And last month, nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration publicly urged Holder to speak out.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the former DEA administrators, Holder wrote, “Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens.”

Holder’s letter underscores that a period of turmoil, pitting the federal government against pot legalization backers, will ensue if voters approve Proposition 19. After California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 the DEA launched numerous raids against dispensaries and growers.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who is a co-chairman of the main opposition committee, released the letter at a news conference at his headquarters Friday, flanked by two former DEA heads, the district attorney and the Los Angeles city attorney.

“He is saying it is an unenforceable law and the federal government will not allow California to become a rogue state on this issue,” Baca said. “You can’t make a law in contradiction to federal law as a state. Therefore Proposition 19 is null and void and dead on arrival.”

Proponents of the measure on the Nov. 2 ballot assailed the attorney general’s one-page letter, denouncing his intention to disregard the will of California voters and his defense of a failed war on drugs. “We’re not necessarily surprised that the establishment is coming down on the side of the status quo,” said Dale Sky Jones, a spokeswoman for the Proposition 19 campaign.

The initiative would allow Californians age 21 and older to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana and possess up to an ounce. It also allows cities and counties to authorize cultivation and sales, and to tax them. Several cities, including Oakland, appear to be poised to do so if the law passes. Polls have consistently shown that about half of the state’s electorate favors legalizing marijuana.

“It takes the smoke right out of their hookah,” said Robert Salazar, a spokesman for the No on 19 campaign. He noted that Californians could not count on seeing any of the promised tax revenues if the federal government arrests anyone who engages in commercial pot sales.

In an Aug. 24 letter and a Sept. 13 news conference in Washington, the former DEA chiefs asked Holder to make it clear that the initiative would be preempted by federal law and would put the United States in violation of international drug treaties, warning about “the unfortunate message that this silence conveys.” Holder, responding two months later, did not mention either issue.

Instead, he noted that prosecutions under the federal Controlled Substances Act remain a “core priority” and wrote, “We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.” He did not say how he intends to do that, but said the department “is considering all available legal and policy options.”

Baca, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and the other law enforcement officials insisted the initiative is unconstitutional because it conflicts with federal law. Baca also said he would not uphold the measure, if it passes, and would arrest anyone with a 25-square-foot plot.

Alex Kreit, an associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and an initiative supporter, said Baca would be arresting people for acts that are no longer illegal under state law. “If he does that, he’s inviting lawsuits left and right for unlawful arrest,” he said.

Cooley predicted that the federal government would sue and a court would issue an injunction. “He didn’t quite come out and say, ‘We’re going to sue you, California,’ but it was close enough,” said Cooley, who is also the Republican candidate for attorney general.

The initiative’s proponents, reading a different implication between the lines, said Holder’s decision not to mention a lawsuit suggests the department has concluded it has no grounds to challenge the law. Department lawyers have been meeting to discuss the issue. “It’s almost as if they acquiesced that they’re not going to challenge Prop. 19,” said Jeff Jones, a co-sponsor of Proposition 19 whose Oakland cannabis club closed after the federal government sued.

Robert Raich, a lawyer who has handled two medical marijuana cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and supports Proposition 19, said the initiative does not violate federal law because it changes only state law, not federal law. “Simply because California and the federal government choose to punish an act differently does not mean they have a conflict,” he said. He said it is no different than the state’s medical marijuana laws, which have been upheld in court.

But he said DEA agents could still enforce federal drug laws. “If the federal government wanted to waste its limited resources trying to prosecute some marijuana facility in Oakland, then nothing would stop them from doing that,” he said.

The measure’s proponents noted that Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law, drew a similar federal reaction. “This is 1996 all over again,” said Stephen Gutwillig, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. But he noted that, besides California, 13 states and the District of Columbia now allow medical marijuana. “All that happened without a single change in federal law.”

Gutwillig criticized the Obama administration for continuing a costly war on drugs that has failed. But Peter Bensinger, who headed the DEA between 1976 and 1981 and was at the news conference, described it as a success because drug use is substantially lower now than at its peak in 1978.

President Obama has said he opposes legalizing marijuana, but last year his administration ended prosecutions of medical marijuana collectives and patients that abide by state laws, in effect choosing to ignore activities that violate the Controlled Substances Act.

Until Holder released his letter Friday, the Obama administration’s fight against the initiative was largely being carried out by the drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske. The White House press office, calling it a “sensitive issue,” referred questions on the president’s role to the Justice Department, which did not respond to a request for information or for an interview with Holder.

john.hoeffel@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

“Isn’t This One Fine View?”–On the Road In Lebanon With Ahmadinejad

“Isn’t This One Fine View?”

On the Road with Ahmadinejad in Lebanon

By FRANKLIN LAMB

Qana.
He came, he saw, he conquered.
As he watched the Iranian President blow kisses to cleaning workers at Beirut’s airport during his departure for Iran early this morning, a Lebanese Christian historian commented “This Persian’s glory at the moment is arguably greater than Caesar’s following Rome’s second conquest of Britain”.

And the Iranian president did indeed throw much more than a stone at US-Israel projects for Lebanon, perhaps energized by the adoring public he encountered.
A grateful nation extended to Makmoud Ahmadinejad what one Bishop claimed was the greatest outpouring of popular support on the streets, all along this country’s sectarian divide, that the Republic of Lebanon has ever witnessed including the May 10, 1997 visit of Pope John Paul II.

An important reason for the outpouring of popular support was the quarter century of Iranian assistance to Lebanon for social projects, and for rebuilding much of Lebanon following the 1993, 1996 and 2006 Israeli aggressions. Massive aid that was detailed by Hezbollah’s Secretary-General in a recent speech and the cost of which is estimated to be in excess of one billion dollars.

Iran’s President is widely believed in the diplomatic community here to have promoted sectarian unity in Lebanon, calmed the current political atmosphere, and delivered on offers of more desperately needed economic projects via 17 bilateral agreements. A particularly appreciated offer throughout Lebanon is Iran’s major pledge of an electrical complex that will deliver 7 times Lebanon’s current power supply, which in 2010 still sees power cuts throughout Lebanon. The current deficiencies range from three hours to 12 hours daily power cuts everywhere in Lebanon plus total blackouts for days at a time in some areas. Iran’s President is widely believed to have achieved a major advancement for Lebanese stability, sovereignty, and independence.

The throngs were cheering, waving, and shouting their admiration. Local media used descriptive words like “rock star, rapturous, massive affection,” to describe his reception.

Wretched Palestinian refugees, tightly shoe horned into Lebanon’s squalid UN camps, denied even the most elementary civil rights by an apathetic international community and some of the local sects, could be seen along the route. Many with eyes moistened, perhaps by Nakba memories and tears of hope for the early liberation of their sacred Palestine and the full exercise of their internationally mandated and inalienable Right of Return to their homes.

Refugees, plenty of them illegal, Iraqis, Afghans, Kurds and others, urging the expulsion of occupation forces from their countries and the restoration of their former lives waved and blew kisses. Lebanese domestic ‘guest/slave workers’ from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Philippines, Bangladesh, and other countries could be seen in the crowds along with Syrian construction workers. Also a sprinkling of Stendhal “Le Rouge et le Noir” characters who, seeking secure advancement in life, have fixed themselves to one or the other, both requiring that they be seen publicly at such an important event.

Close to 750,000 people, or approximately one quarter of the total population of Lebanon,) of all ages and stations in life, appeared at the main road from Beirut’s airport and at other events during an intense two day frenetic series of appearances. Red, green and yellow rose petals, the colors of Iran’s flag, greeted Lebanon’s guest. Due to time constraints, some events for which much preparation had been made were “postponed”, including an “American Town Hall Meeting with President Ahmadinejad. ” It was to include 15 Americans currently in Lebanon as academics, business people, students, housewives, and NGO’s, in a much anticipated US political campaign type format with Iran’s President joining an informal dialogue with his interlocutors.

At Al Raya Athletic field in South Beirut, often used for popular Hezbollah events, an estimated 150, 000 people crowded onto just the main field boundaries, , one Hezbollah source reporting that it was the largest gathering inside the field ever seen. Thousands of other attendees spilled onto the side streets where huge TV screens has been set up and vendors hocked roasted ears of corn, boiled balila beans, kaak asrounye (baked bread with filling) ) various treats, including chips, cotton candy and soft drinks. Driving around the area on the mercifully cool autumn evening by motorbike, one could see thousands more gathered at several dozen Dahiyeh outdoor cafes and store front shops where families and friends gathered to watch on the proprietors’ outdoor TV screens. Some of the adults smoked arguila water pipes and little kids played, happy to be allowed to stay up late while teenagers appeared contented to get a day off from school and an evening without homework.

Lebanese and Iranian flags were fluttering everywhere without huge numbers of Hezbollah flags displayed in keeping with the message that this was an official state visit. President Ahmadinejad of Iran was invited by President Michel Suleiman of Lebanon on behalf of every Lebanese, including the majority of Lebanese who live in the Diaspora. Deployments of Suleiman’s Presidential guards were the ones seen to be providing security for Iran’s president with Hezbollah security largely out of site, except for occasional fleeting glimpse of Hezbollah sharpshooters in windows throughout the assembly area. They also surfaced quickly if a dispute or argument flared up in the packed crowds. In these few cases a representative of Hezbollah would apologize for the crowded conditions and ask for patience and understanding during the event.
At one stop near the blue line in South Lebanon he smiled broadly, winked to the media contingent and adoring villagers surrounding him and, gazing deep into occupied Palestine, as if posing for a Marlboro Country billboard advertisement, Iran’s charismatic President made many a heart flutter when he spoke softly, almost whispering to some villages, and with a twinkle in his eye, as if someone were eavesdropping: “Now isn’t this one fine view?”, as he discretely pointed. “I like it over there, don’t you?”

Almost everyone laughed at his joke.

A young lady wearing a full length black Chador (a women wearing one is called a ‘Chadori’ in Persian and Lebanese resistance culture) , with some of her school mates in tow who were volunteering as hostesses and Farsi, Arabic, and English interpreters, offered arriving American guests enthusiastic greetings: “Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s new border with Palestine!”

Almost everyone laughed at her joke.

Then, exuding an easy self confidence and speaking American accented English while obviously having a good time, the student noticed one seemingly horror struck humorless lady wearing a light brown business suit and heels who a security guy later confided was suspected of being a US Embassy plant. “Just teasing”, she assured the woman, as she offered her hand in friendship to the flinching guest who glared uneasily at the hostesses’ hand as if it held a dead rat or might bite hers. “Why are you Americans so serious”? the loquacious hostess smiled. “Do you agree Iran and America are destined to be good friends after our countries are finished with this problem?”, and she gestured with her head south toward Tel Aviv.

“Please tell me what do Americans think? I read a few days ago in preparation for my work today-I should not say work, it’s really fun- a report that ninety percent of Americans in a recent poll said they did not favor attacking Iran unless Iran attacks Israel first. This is very good news because I am sure Iran, unlike Israel’s record, will never be the first to start a war. Iran will retaliate naturally and that could mean World War III, but there will be no war involving Iran unless Iran, Syria, or Lebanon is attacked. We in the Resistance Alliance are ‘one for all and all for one’ but we really want to be friends with the American people.” And she offered the woman a small ribbon-tied, party wrapped, cellophane pouch with Iranian pistachios and candy attached to a small Iranian flag. “No thanks”, the American answered as she walked away.

The American Embassy warned Americans to avoid Ahmadinejad’s “provocative and potentially dangerous visit because the Lebanese government cannot protect US Citizens.” Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, complained to the pan-Arab Al-Hayat on 10/13/10: “Why is the Iranian president organizing activities that might spark tension? We are taking steps to lower tension while Ahmadinejad is doing the opposite.”

Nevertheless, there were plenty of Yanks in attendance at all of Ahmadinejad’s appearances.

During his Qana visit, the Hezbollah Parliamentary delegation, friends with many Americans here, must have tipped off the Iranian President that Americans were sitting near them. The reason for this hunch is that he could not have been more gracious, making frequently eye contact and touching his forehead as a greeting and salute and thanking them for coming. He assured the American guests that eventually Iran and America will be good friends and perhaps allies.

Shortly before the Iranian President’s 35 car convoy carrying his delegation and various Lebanese officials arrived at Qana, his fourth largest gathering, an Israeli Air Force MRPV circled lazily yet provocatively above the site of the 1996 Qana massacre. Some in the more than 15,000 person crowd pointed skyward, some kids squealing “Israel!”. From their experience, “Qanains” as Ali, who grew up in this village explained some locals call themselves, were able to give foreigners fairly precise details of the MRPV’s specs and capabilities. This Israeli provocation ended, according to a Hezbollah security source, when the MRPV’s controllers realized that a Resistance laser guided missile had locked on to the uninvited intruder. The same source divulged that Hezbollah did not intend to shoot it down and would only monitor the threat. This was because the Resistance did not want mar the Iranian Presidents tour. In addition, he explained, explained that Lebanon’s resistance wanted to maintain “tactical and strategic ambiguity” concerning its array of anti-aircraft weapons until the moment war comes.

Lebanon’s people, army and resistance ignored provocations from this country’s southern enemy, including assassination threats like the one made by the Nakba-denying Knesset member Aryeh Eldad , more blustering from Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and PM Netanyahu, the beefing up of Israeli forces along the blue line, efforts to crack Hezbollah communications and send SMS threats via hacked mobile phones, conducting a chorus of US officials in childish criticisms of the visit, and Israeli spokesmen like Mark Regev and political extremists in Congress issuing threats.
Israeli warplanes on Friday carried out intensive, mock air raids over south Lebanon as if to send the message, “He is gone but we are still here!” The state-run National News Agency said Israeli jets staged mock air raids at medium attitude over Nabatiyeh, Iqlim al-Tuffah, Marjayoun, Khiam and Arqoub.

Another signature Israeli taunt during Iran’s Presidents visit was the launching of hundreds of blue and white balloons to catch the air current north to Bint Jbeil when Ahmadinejad was appearing. Some with insults written on them by children with magic markers and others allegedly smeared with human feces, the spreading of the latter being an IDF insult employed over the past 45 years of incursions into Lebanon and Palestine when during occupations of Lebanese and Palestinian homes some Israeli soldiers create what they call “poop art” on walls, mattresses and other surfaces.
Analysts will write about Iran’s Makmoud Ahmadinejad’s historic visit for months to come and what the visit means for the two countries, for the question of Palestine, strategic alignments in the region, and consequences for China, Russia and the wider international community.

A perhaps too early, road-weary, sleep-deprived photo snap of his visit’s effects would warrant the following brief and tentative evacuation, as Lebanon’s guest has just departed Beirut airport to return to his country. His midnight departure followed a visit at the Iranian Embassy with Hassan Nassrallah during which the Hezbollah Secretary-General gave the Iranian President an Israeli rifle taken from an Israeli soldier during the July 2006 war.

Ahmadinejad’s visit achieved more than a symbolic consecration of a new local and regional reality that encompasses a third way, separate from the US-Israel-Saudi or Syrian path. Some here think we are witnessing a new era of growing and uncompromising Resistance to Israel’s brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine as well as America’s occupation and exploitation of Arab natural resources. Some analysts are speaking about a six member Axis of Resistance led by Iran and Turkey and including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon that is the rising regional power.

What seems quite evident is that Iran’s President and the large delegation of business people comprising his entourage have opened a new era of bilateral relations between the two countries. His positive personal and political connections with virtually all Lebanon’s leaders, including compliments from rightist Christian politicians including Samir Geagea, will likely lead to big joint economic projects, the Iranian arming of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and strategic political cooperation, starting now.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com