Friday, May 26, 2006

war crime against journalist

Three Years after Couso Murder, the Struggle for Truth and Justice Continues
(Wednesday 5th April 2006)

Family to appeal unjust dismissal of case by Spanish high court
Protests will continue: April 8 at US embassy
3rd anniversary events bring victims of war to Madrid, including Iraqi mother and Giuliana Sgrena

The calendar tells us that three years will soon have passed since the US Army murdered José Couso in its attack on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine on April 8, 2003. But for the murdered journalist’s family, time has practically stood still, for this unpunished, uninvestigated and officially sanctioned war crime against their brother, son, uncle and father in his hotel room by forces carrying out an illegal war of aggression has made the family’s struggle for truth and justice a struggle to achieve peace, to achieve closure, to allow the clocks to move again.

With the help of Couso’s friends and colleagues, the Couso family has vowed to fight on until the demands of humanity prevail over the demands of empire.

That struggle was dealt a bitter setback recently by a senseless ruling by the Spanish high court dismissing the family’s lawsuit against the three US soldiers directly involved in the attack on the Hotel Palestine.

The court decided, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the attack on the Hotel Palestine was the result of an “act of war,” against an “erroneously identified enemy.”

As a communique of the Family, Friends and Colleagues of José Couso notes, “the judges neglect to provide certain facts that were widely reported in the press and obviously linked to the attack on the Palestine, with no special required to apply the law: the invading forces had previously attacked the offices of Al Jazeera TV, where they killed Tareq Ayoub, and Abu Dhabi TV.”

The illustrious judges in the Spanish high court are clearly firm advocates of the three little monkeys’ theory of judicial reasoning: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Deciding that the attack on a hotel protected by the Geneva Conventions was a “mistake” without interrogating the defendants - and against an avalanche of contrary evidence - compels us to believe that our judges glean information either from joining their hands in some sort of séance, or that they simply, well, just twisted their version of events and their legal arguments so as to sweep the Couso case under the carpet in an effort to please their overlords in faraway Washington.

As José Couso’s brother Javier states in his open letter to the judges: “I know that from this day on, you will be welcomed with open arms in Washington, where they will treat you like wise men, democratic defenders of human rights, champions of Texan righteousness, solid candidates for a congressional medal.”

It so happens that the judge handling the case, Santiago Pedraz, had only some weeks ago formally requested that the Ministry of Justice seek an explanation as to why the US authorities were not cooperating with his investigation. That would have put the Spanish government in a bind by forcing it to confront the Bush regime over a war crime, so the nice judges bailed them out by dismissing the case.

Again, Javier Couso: “There are times when you have to decide what side you’re on, who you serve and to whom you will be loyal. In our history, and in the history of humanity, there are thousands of examples that have inspired us all. Some judge bless the murder of civilians and other judges seek to prosecute these crimes, there are small systems of justice that capitulate but there are also others that, even though they are fully aware of being small, gain immense stature in their battle against large and powerful injustice.”

But the family is appealing this atrocious decision, and it intends to keep up a strong street presence to remind everyone with hearts, eyes and ears that certain certain people are getting away with murder because of who they are.

And now, on the third anniversary of José’s murder, the Family Friends and Colleagues of José Couso are organizing a series of events in Madrid (for further information, see to remember, discuss, learn and mobilize people for the very same essential demands that have driven this movement from day one:

Investigation and justice! Jose Couso, War Crime!

Thursday, May 25, 2006



by Greg Palast

Working Assets
Monday, July 12, 2004

When the feds swoop down and cuff racketeers, they also load the vans with all the perp's ill-gotten gains: stacks of cash, BMWs, whatever.
Their associates have to cough up the goodies too: lady friends must
give up their diamond rocks.

Under the racketeering law, RICO, even before a verdict, anything
bought with the proceeds of the crime goes into the public treasury.

But there seems to be special treatment afforded those who loaded up on
the 'bennies' of Ken Lay's crimes. If the G-men don't know where the
tainted loot is cached, try this address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ask for George or Dick.

Ken Lay and his Enron team are the Number One political career donors
to George W. Bush. Mr. Lay and his Mrs., with no money to pay back
bilked creditors, still managed to personally put up $100,000 for
George's inaugural Ball plus $793,110 for personal donations to
Republicans. Lay's Enron team dropped $4.2 million into the party that
let Enron party.

OK now, Mr. President, give it back - the millions stolen from Enron retirees then stuffed into the Republican campaign kitty.

And what else did Ken Lay buy with the money stolen from California
electricity customers? Answer: the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission. Just before George Bush moved to Washington, Kenny-Boy
handed his hand-picked president-to-be the name of the man Ken wanted
as Chairman of the commission charged with investigating Enron's
thievery. In a heartbeat, George Bush appointed Ken's boy, Pat Wood.

Think about that: the criminal gets to pick the police chief. Well,
George, give it back. Dump Wood and end the "de-criminalization" of
electricity price-gouging that you and Cheney and Wood laughably call
"de-regulation." Give us back the government Lay bought with crime

And while we're gathering up the ill-gotten loot, let's stop by Brother
Jeb's. The Governor of Florida picked up a cool $2 million from a
Houston fundraiser at the home of Enron's former president long AFTER
the company went bankrupt. Enron, not incidentally, obtained half a
billion of Florida state pension money -- which has now disappeared
down the Enron rat-hole.

And Mr. Vice-President, don't you also have something to give back?
In secret meetings with Dick Cheney in the Veep's bunker prior to the
inauguration and after, you let Ken and his cohorts secretly draft the
nation's energy plan - taking a short break to eye oil field maps of
Iraq. Let us remember that the President's sticky-fingered brothers
Neil and Marvin were on Enron's payroll, hired to sell pipelines to the
Saudis. The Saudis didn't bite, but maybe a captive Iraq would be more

So, Mr. Law and Order President, please follow the law and give up the
Energy Plan that Mr. Lay bought with other people's money.

When I worked as a racketeering investigator for government, nothing
was spared, including houses bought with purloined loot. Let there be
no exception here. It's time to tape up the White House gate and hang
the sign: "Crime Scene: Property to be Confiscated. Vacate Premises


Greg Palast is an internationally recognized expert on electricity
deregulation and power company racketeering. Co-author of the United
Nations guide to power industry regulation, Palast's investigation of
Enron won Britain's prize for top business story of the year in 1998
(with Antony Barnett of the Observer). Palast investigated Enron's
influence on the Bush Administration for BBC Television's newsnight and
his expose of Ken Lay's manipulation of the California power markets
and litigation won a 2004 Project Censored Award from California State
University at Sonoma's Journalism School. Palast's book, the New York
Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," includes a
summary of his investigations on Enron: "California Reamin': the real
story of deregulation and the power pirates."

To read more of Palast's writings or view his BBC film, "Policy or
Payback?," go to

spychips on levi's,dockers,inmigrants, you are next...


Levi Strauss Confirms RFID Test, Refuses to Disclose Location

It may be time to ditch your Dockers and lay off the Levi's, say privacy activists Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. New information confirms that Levi Strauss & Co. is violating a call for a moratorium on item-level RFID by spychipping its clothing. What's more, the company is refusing to disclose the location of its U.S. test.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a controversial technology that uses tiny microchips to track items from a distance. These RFID microchips have earned the nickname "spychips" because each contains a unique identification number, like a Social Security number for things, that can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves. Over 40 of the world's leading privacy and civil liberties organizations have called for a moratorium on chipping individual consumer items because the technology can be used to track people without their knowledge or consent.

Jeffrey Beckman, Director of Worldwide and U.S. Communications for Levi Strauss, confirmed his company's chipping program in an email exhange with McIntyre, saying "a retail customer is testing RFID at one location [in the U.S.]...on a few of our larger-volume core men's Levi's jeans styles." However, he refused to name the location.

"Out of respect for our customer's wishes, we are not going to discuss any specifics about their test," he said. Beckman also confirmed the company is tagging Levi Strauss clothing products, including Dockers brand pants, at two of its franchise locations in Mexico.

McIntyre was tipped off to the activity by a mention in an industry publication. The article indicated Levi Strauss was looking for additional RFID "test partners."

Albrecht believes the companies are keeping mum about the U.S. test location in order to prevent a consumer backlash. Clothing retailer Benetton was hit hard by a consumer boycott led by Albrecht in 2003 when the company announced plans to embed RFID tags in its Sisley line of women's clothing. The resulting consumer outcry forced the company to retreat from its plans and disclaim its intentions.

Levi Strauss can little afford similar problems with consumers. It is one of the world's largest brand-name apparel marketers with a presence in more than 110 countries, but has suffered through several years of declining sales as younger consumers gravitate to new brands. The company has also been hurt by Wal-Mart's decision to cut back on inventory in a bid to shore up its own declining sales.

While Levi Strauss reports that its current RFID trials use external RFID "hang tags" that can be clipped from the clothes and the focus is on inventory management, not customer tracking, the company isn't guaranteeing how it will use RFID in the future.

"Companies like Levi Strauss are painting their RFID trials as innocuous," observes Albrecht. "But this technology is extraordinarily dangerous. There is a reason why we have asked companies not to spychip clothing. Few things are more intimately connected with an individual than the clothes they wear."

"Once clothing manufacturers begin applying RFID to hang tags, the floodgates will open and we'll soon find these things sewn into the hem of our jeans," Albrecht adds. "The problem with RFID is that it is tracking technology, plain and simple."

Albrecht and McIntyre point out that tracking people through the things they wear and carry is more than mere speculation. In their book "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID," they reveal sworn patent documents that describe ways to link the unique serial numbers on RFID-tagged items with the people who purchase them.

One of the most graphic examples is IBM's "Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-Tagged Items." In that patent application, IBM inventors suggest tracking consumers for marketing and advertising purposes.

"That's enough to steam most consumers," says McIntyre."But IBM's proposal that the government track people through RFID tags on the things they wear and carry should send a cold chill down our spines."

IBM inventors detail how the government could use RFID tags to track people in public places like shopping malls, museums, libraries, sports arenas, elevators, and even restrooms.

"Make no mistake," McIntyre adds. "Today's RFID inventory tags could evolve into embedded homing beacons. Unchecked, this technology could become a Big Brother bonanza and a civil liberties nightmare."

Spychips in Immigrants? first step.

more info here

Sunday, May 21, 2006

lo que tu querias oir

this is a shortfilm i just saw.i liked it so i want to share of the great things about it is that is license under the creative commons license so is free to share all over the net.(my kind of globalism...)
the director is GUILLERMO ZAPATA. and the short is called.LO QUE TU QUIERAS OIR.
is in spanish but hopefully there will be a subtitled version in the future


Saturday, May 20, 2006

iraq's hidden war

Iraqi Sunni children with toy guns at a checkpoint in their neighbourhood of al-Yarmouk, Baghdad. Photo: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Inside Iraq's hidden war

As a new 'national unity' government prepares to take power in Baghdad, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports from behind the lines of a vicious sectarian conflict rapidly spiralling towards civil war

Saturday May 20, 2006
The Guardian]

Some men hold paper tissues under their noses; others wrap their kuffiya ends around their mouths. It is a hot and humid day at the city's main morgue where 20 men stand in a yard, their faces pressed with silent urgency against the bars of a window, next to a white plastic sign that baldly announces the location of "The Refrigerator".

Inside sits the clerk of the morgue, his computer monitor turned towards them. Faces flash on the screen: a man with his face blackened and bruised; another man, older, maybe in his 50s, with a white beard and an orange-sized hole in his forehead; and another on a green stretcher, his arms twisted unnaturally behind him.

Occasionally the silence of Baghdad's daily slideshow of death is broken by an appalled act of recognition, as one of the men mumbles "No god but the one God" or "God is great."

So many bodies arrive at the morgue each day - 40 is not unusual on a "quiet" day - that it is impossible to let relatives in to identify them. Hence the slideshow in the yard outside. The bodies are dumped in sewage plants or irrigation canals, or just in the middle of the street. Many show signs of torture. Every morning a procession of pickup trucks, minibuses and cars line up with their coffins outside the concrete blast walls of the ministry of health to pick up their cargo. One death often courts another. Many Sunnis say the mourners are attacked en route. When they go to retrieve the body of a relative, family members often wait in the car clutching their weapons in anticipation.

The ministry is under the control of the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and a large mural of his dead ayatollah father decorates the entrance to the compound. Most of the security guards in the morgue and the ministry are affiliated to his militia, the Mahdi army, one of the militias thought to be behind the sectarian killing going on in their neighbourhoods.

"Why do you want to go inside? Those inside are all terrorists, Sunni terrorists," said Captain Abu Ahmad, the officer in charge of security at the morgue, when the Guardian presented a document granting permission from the ministry of health to visit. "If you want to see innocent victims, go to the hospitals and see the victims of Sunni terrorism on Shia civilians."

After months of argument about whether Iraq is teetering on the verge of civil war, a "national unity" government is due to be inaugurated today. Legislators plan to swear in a new prime minister and cabinet, and much will be made in London and Washington of the fact that this completes a democratic transition that began in December with the election of its parliament. But the reality encountered during three weeks behind the barricades of Baghdad's increasingly bloody sectarian conflict has more in common with the "ethnic cleansing" of the Balkans than the optimistic rhetoric to be heard on the manicured lawns of the embassy compounds and in western capitals.

The Patriot

Adel is 26. He is tall and well built, with long, thick dark hair styled with gel and a thin goatee beard. With his basketball shirt and knee-length shorts, he looks more like a rapper than a vigilante commander. Four years ago, when most of his friends were still reeling from the shock and awe of America's occupation, Ali stepped out of his life as a wealthy playboy from the leafy neighbourhood of Yarmouk in the west of Baghdad, and into the life of a Sunni insurgent.

"When I saw the first American patrol in my street I went to my room and cried for three days," he said as we sat in his family's huge living room. He emerged from his bedroom, crossed the street to a school that was used during the war as a Ba'ath party office, collected some RPG rockets, a launcher and ammunition, and drove around the neighbourhood looking for American troops. He soon found them.

"You think you are brave and you want to fight for your country and defend your home, but when I stood in front of them with the RPG on my shoulder, my legs were shaking from fear and my body went stiff. I just remember a huge bang and a cloud of dust and my friend grabbed and pushed me to the car and we drove away.

"Now its much easier. I am more focused and I know it's a split-second decision: either I kill or get killed."

For months Adel fought the Americans almost every day, firing RPGs and laying IEDs (improvised explosive devices). His friends mocked his enthusiasm and his talk about the need to defend his country and started calling him "The Patriot".

But it has been a few months since he has taken part in any attacks against the hated occupiers. Adel The Patriot has a new mission. He commands a Sunni vigilante group, a dozen or so men armed with Kalashnikovs and a heavy calibre machine gun, attempting, they say, to defend their area against raids and "arrests" made by Shia interior ministry commandos.

It was early afternoon when we met and he had just woken up. He doesn't get much sleep these days. At midnight, just as the streets fall silent, Shia death squads roam the streets looking for prey. Adel and his group sit outside and wait. Most of the streets in Yarmouk are barricaded by bits of metal, palm tree trunks, boxes, bricks and cinder blocks. Streets are cut off to make a maze that only local people know how to negotiate.

One of Adel's friends was snatched from his shop by men wearing Iraqi police force uniforms, he says. "They knew the area where his house is was well protected, so they went to his shop." The friend's body surfaced three days later. His nose had been mutilated, he was handcuffed and left to die in a garbage dump. "I knew he was dead from the moment he was taken. We feel very angry. Even the people who didn't want to kill the Shia have joined the fight now."

Adel says 10 Sunnis have been killed in his neighbourhood in the past month. In retaliation 20 Shia were kidnapped and killed by Sunni insurgents. During one week the Guardian spent in Yarmouk in May, a grocer, his two brothers and a cousin, a school guard, a generator operator, and four ministry of education employees, all Shia, were killed. Two Sunnis were killed in the same week.

"Look, a full-scale civil war will break out in the next few months. The Kurds only care about their independence. We the Sunnis will be crushed - the Shia have more fighters and they are better organised, and have more than one leadership. They are supported by the Iranians. We are lost. We don't have leadership and no one is more responsible for our disarray than [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, may God curse him," he said.

The logic of Adel The Patriot's new sectarian struggle against the Shia is driving him and his fellow Sunnis into radical new directions. Asked what will save the Sunnis, he replies almost instinctively.

"Our only hope is if the Americans hit the Iranians, and by God's will this day will come very soon, then the Americans will give a medal to anyone who kills a Shia militiaman. When we feel that an American attack on Iran is imminent, I myself will shoot anyone who attacks the Americans and all the mujahideen will join the US army against the Iranians.

"Most of my fellow mujahideen are not fighting the Americans at the moment, they are too busy killing the Shia, and this is only going to create hatred. If someone kills one of my family I will do nothing else but kill to avenge their deaths."

Most of the Shia in Yarmouk and other Sunni areas have left and their young people have now joined the Shia militias. So what would Adel do to stop the cycle of violence? "If I have some money I will pay regular salaries to my men, buy three black Opel cars [the preferred assassination car in Baghdad]. We will kidnap members of Badr brigade [the main Shia militia], we will kill some and get ransom on the other and the ransom money will finance more operations and I can have my own mujahideen faction."

Later he and two friends explain how to distinguish a Sunni from a Shia. One of the friends says: "The Shia are darker. Sunnis have coloured eyes. Shia foreheads are smaller. Sunnis walk with arms away from the body. It's so easy: look at that man, the way he is walking he is obviously a Sunni."

The Shia

No one tries to move the body of a man in grimy tracksuit bottoms, lying in Mu'alemeen Street, in Dora. A grocery store continues to sell vegetables across the street, and two women carrying plastic bags pass by the body, a pool of dried blood around his head, without looking.

"He is a Shia, no one can move him. If anyone tries to touch the body, they will be killed. The mujahideen want him to rot in the street in front of his family and friends," a local man says.

Dora used to be one of Baghdad's most mixed neighbourhoods. Shia, Sunnis and Christians all lived together. The Christians were the first to leave after attacks on their churches. They were followed by the Shia, killed and intimidated by Sunni insurgents. Then came the Shia retaliation, raids by interior ministry commandos, Mahdi army death squads; scores of Sunni men detained only for their mutilated bodies to reappear later.

Today gun battles erupt every week, between Sunnis defending their patch against the Shia militias or Shia defending their homes against the Sunni insurgents.

Abu Muhammad's family is one of two Shia families left in his street. The other 18 have all left. To survive, he has to pretend he is a Sunni. He stood in front of his house and shouted insults at the Shia government. He stopped calling two of his sons by their real Shia names. He bought a Kalashnikov and gave it to the local mujahideen. Even the screen on his mobile announces "the one of Fallujah", a reference to the battle between insurgents and US forces that is iconic to many Sunnis.

"What can I do? I have to make sure that they don't think that I am Shia. Every time I leave the house I say my prayers and kiss my children as if I am not going to see them again."

In Karrada, another Shia neighbourhood, a man speaks with detachment about the Shia death squads. "It's really bad what the Shia forces are doing now, but truth has to be said: most of the Sunnis who get killed deserve it. The terrorists come from the Sunni community. They are not insurgents themselves, they have cousins who are insurgents. For three years now the Shia have been patient and now Sunnis have to see what the Shia can do."

Sheikh Omar - director of the human rights office of the Iraqi Islamic party, one of the leading Sunni political groups - is explaining how it was all the Americans' fault for empowering Shia militia to fight the insurgency, when a man opens the door and rushs in.

"Sheikh, the ministry commandos are attacking the Mahdiya area in Dora and people are in the mosque fighting back."

Phone calls followed. One report spoke of a force of 20 interior ministry vehicles. Sheikh Omar bashes out a number on his mobile phone. "We are receiving reports that a force of 20 ministry of interior commandos are attacking this Sunni area and people are fighting back from the mosque. Can you ask Colonel Paul to send his troops? If our people see the Americans, we will stop fighting."

A couple of streets from Abu Muhammad's house, in an empty house deserted by its Shia occupants, five Sunni gunmen sit on the roof, one crouched behind the roof parapet, his rifles stuck through a breeze bloc. They are the local neighbourhood watch. An old woman with a white headscarf brings them a tray of glasses of tea. "May God protect you my sons," she says.

One of the gunmen explains: "We never fire in the morning - we don't want to expose where we are."

Back in Yarmouk, not far from Adel the Patriot's house, a group of eight-year-olds gather by a makeshift barricade, armed with plastic pistols and sunglasses. Their "commander", a 12-year-old, orders them to pull a log of wood away from their make-believe checkpoint, to let a car through.

But then a police pickup truck appears, its Shia occupants wearing balaclavas. The children instinctively take up firing positions with their plastic Kalashnikovs.

The police pickup takes a right and disappears up a sidestreet. The kids cheer and shout.

Some people's names have been changed to protect their identity.

Five days in the life of a nation on the brink


Basra Two British soldiers killed in roadside bomb attack.

Baghdad US soldier killed when vehicle struck by roadside bomb.

Mosul Two policemen ambushed and killed by gunmen.

Balad Ruz Two bombs kill civilian and wound police officer.


Yusufiya Insurgents shoot down US helicopter, killing two soldiers.

Baghdad Two suicide car bombs explode near entrance to international airport zone, killing 14. Roadside bomb kills two US soldiers. Bomb at al-Mustansiriya University kills one and wounds 11. Three killed by bomb at market, four killed by another roadside bomb, two more die in further roadside bombing.

Kerbala Bodies of four brothers who worked for humanitarian organisation found beheaded.

Adhaim Three bodyguards working for Iraq's foreign minister killed when motorcade hit by bomb.

Mosul Two killed by car bomb.

Yusufiya US forces kill more than 25 insurgents during ground and air attacks.


Baghdad Saddam Hussein trial resumes.

Amara Four British soldiers wounded in mortar attack.

Balad Two US killed by roadside bomb.

Mosul Policeman killed when bomb explodes near house where gunmen killed six members of same family.

Mahaweel Roadside bombs kill two.

Latifiya 16 suspected al Qaida-linked militants killed in raids.

Kerbala Body of policeman abducted by gunmen two days earlier found.

Balad Ruz Gunmen kill four primary school teachers.

Wajihiya Girl of seven dies and seven members of her family wounded when mortar round lands on their house.


Baghdad 19 people killed in attack at bus garage. US soldier killed by roadside bomb. Four workers at US military base shot dead. Kidnappers abduct United Arab Emirates diplomat. Six die in clashes between insurgents and police.


Anbar province US navy member killed in combat operation. Most naval personnel in that area are attached to marine units as medics.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This is not a test: An Unquestioned Democracy Will Inevitably Become Tyrannical

This is not a test: An Unquestioned Democracy Will Inevitably Become Tyrannical