Fang-Face's blog

Republican conspiracy theory and blame gaming

I encountered this phenomenon firsthand, after agreeing to an interview on the Foley case with a right-wing talk radio station in Florida. Though the Foley scandal was still in its first days, the talk show host had before him a comprehensive theory about how the Democrats, in league with financier George Soros, had pulled off an "October Surprise."

When I pressed the host for what real evidence he had, he lashed out at me, insinuating that I was ignoring the obvious because I had a "liberal" bias.

I pointed out that I've also demanded real evidence to support left-wing suspicions that President Bush organized the 9/11 attacks - when the available evidence reveals Bush showing gross negligence and exploiting the tragedy, but not acting as a conspirator.

To me, these cases suggest a troubling loss of an American ability to distinguish evidence and fact from speculation and opinion. But a key difference is that the Mark Foley "October Surprise" theory was promoted by leading Republicans, including House Speaker Hastert, while no prominent Democrat has embraced the 9/11 accusations. --Robert Parry, Foley "October Surprise" Claim Flops, 16 Oct 2006

Path to corruption?

Following up the recent story abot Scholastic dropping ABC's 9/11 teaching guidelines, an article was reposted to CommonDreams.org (originally from The Nation) about the production of the work.

ABC 9/11 Docudrama's Right-Wing Roots

On Friday, September 8, just forty-eight hours before ABC planned to air its so-called "docudrama," The Path to 9/11, Robert Iger, CEO of ABC's corporate parent, the Walt Disney Company, was presented with incontrovertible evidence outlining the involvement of that film's screenwriter and director in a concerted right-wing effort to blame former President Bill Clinton for allowing the 9/11 attacks to take place. Iger told a source close to ABC that he was "deeply troubled" by the information and claimed he had no previous knowledge of the institutional right-wing ties of The Path to 9/11's creators. He reportedly said that he has commenced an internal investigation to verify the role of the film's creators in deliberately advancing disinformation through ABC.

R. Kent replies to A. Sparnese

What I'd like to know is: how does someone who showered shit and derision in all directions just because a publisher demanded expurgation become an apologist for Stalinist oppression of people who lend other people books.

From the Friends of Cuban Libraries:

Ms. Sparanese's analysis of the Seoul conference, as in the case of her other writings on this subject, is rife with factual errors and failures of principle. This response will focus on a few of the more obvious ones:

>What happened at the IFLA conference is an indication of the growing
>awareness of the library community worldwide....

Ms. Sparanese states a partial truth, although not in the way she intended. The Seoul conference was indeed helpful in increasing awareness on the part of the world library community regarding the only nation in the world where people are persecuted for the alleged crime of opening uncensored libraries. Like the free libraries themselves, this important issue refuses to die, despite the intense efforts of the Cuban government and its supporters abroad.

>The resolution against Cuba proposed by the Latvians
>could not even get a second!

Wrong again. First of all, the resolution was not against Cuba. On the contrary, it was in defense of the the right of Cubans, and by extension the people of all countries, to enjoy intellectual freedom, honored as the most basic principle of the world library community. And the resolution was placed on the IFLA agenda after complying with with IFLA regulations. Due to confusion and a lack of information on the part of the Lithuanians, the resolution was withdrawn by one co-sponsor, leading IFLA to remove it from the agenda for technical reasons. Next year is a different story.

>The reason for this is that it is becoming well-known and understood that
>this "library" campaign is part of the broad well-funded strategy... to bring about "regime change"
>in Cuba.

As in her previous comments on this subject, Ms. Sparanese again fails to specify how reading uncensored books can be a threat to anyone. Cuba's innovative independent library movement was founded by Cubans in 1998 to challenge a national system of censorship. The movement serves as a model for other nations where rulers seek to suppress their people's right to intellectual freedom. The independent librarians receive support from many nations, just as Cuba's "official" librarians enjoy support from other countries. Does Ms.Sparanese believe that Cuba's official librarians, like the independents, should be sentenced to life imprisonment and have their books burned for the "crime" of receiving donations from abroad?

Discerning readers will note that Ms. Sparanese tries to focus on library aid sent to the independent librarians from the U.S. while ignoring aid sent to them from other countries, just as she ignores the fact that books donated to Cuba's independent librarians from other nations are treated no differently than the ones sent from the U.S. That is, the books are seized and burned by the Cuban government. And the librarians who commit the "crime" of accepting them are sentenced, after one-day trials, to prison terms of up to 26 years. All of the librarians arrested during Cuba's 2003 crackdown have been named as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, which is calling for their immediate release. They are also being defended by other prominent human rights groups, such as Pax Christi Netherlands, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.

>Cubans who accept this cash AND equipment from the US government are in
>violation of Cuban law....

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone in the world the right to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." It cannot be a crime to send books to other nations, no matter what any government may claim to the contrary.

>By US law, foreign governments are not allowed to fund the
>political process in our country and we have laws to make sure
>that they don't.

Once again, Ms. Sparanese fails to specify how reading uncensored books can possibly be a crime, political or otherwise.

>"Trading with the enemy" is a criminal offense in the US.

Informational materials such as books, magazines, newspapers, recordings, art works, etc. are exempt from the U.S. trade legislation on embargoed nations such as Burma, North Korea and Cuba. It is true that trade in computers and software is not presently exempt due to the fact that these laws were passed decades ago, before computers became widely used. We in the Friends of Cuban Libraries support abolishing the present ban on computer sales to Cuba. Besides, these trade restrictions on computers distract attention from the fact that surfing the World Wide Web or owning a computer is a crime in Cuba, except for the privileged few who receive government permission.

And where would South Africans and Eastern Europeans be if their peaceful efforts for freedom had not benefited from the moral and material support sent from abroad? It cannot be a crime to aid the victims of human rights violations, no matter what any tyrannical government may claim to the contrary.

>The site (http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu) that claims to have the actual
>sentencing documents is of mysterious provenance for the simple reason that
>it is funded anonymously.

Ms. Sparanese wants to shoot the messenger while ignoring the truth of the message. What matters is the accuracy of the court documents obtained by the FSU website, not who funds the website. The court documents published by FSU prove, in the words of the Cuban government itself, that the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment and had their book collections burned for the alleged crime of opening uncensored libraries. And if Ms. Sparanese has any question as to the funding of the FSU website, she is free to send them an inquiry via e-mail: (ruleoflawandcuba@hotmail.com ). Sadly, the independent librarians, like the rest of the Cuban people, enjoy no such right, as they can send e-mail only with the permission of the Cuban government

>But a detailed reader will also see that when you
>read the descriptions of individual dissidents, only TWO of them actually
>have something to do with "independent libraries"!

Another factual error. Steve Marquardt of the Freadom organization (steve.marquardt@sdstate.edu) has made an extensive study of the trial documents of the independent librarians, approximately 12 of whom are still serving 20-year prison terms for daring to challenge censorship. He also analyzes the court documents to detail the titles of some of the library books seized or burned by Castro's secret police, such as Orwell's "Animal Farm" and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

>In fact if one were to believe
>Kent's press releases about over a hundred "independent libraries" existing
>on the island, one would have to conclude that most of their owners are NOT
>in jail.

So they have no right to complain until all of them have sentenced to life imprisonment? In fact, over 200 independent libraries were reported to have been open in Cuba before the 2003 crackdown, when many of them were raided by the secret police and shut down. Despite the determined efforts of the Cuban government to crush the movement, new libraries continue to be founded by brave people who boldly defend the right of the Cuban people to enjoy intellectual freedom.

>NOT ONE of these library "operators," (to use Mr. Marquardt's term) has EVER
>been a librarian, library worker or even associated with libraries in any
>way before their incarnation as "independent librarians!"

Another factual error. The court documents identify many of the prisoners as independent librarians and name the institutions they founded. For a partial directory of the libraries still open in Cuba, please refer to the Address section of the Friends' website (http://www.friendsofcuban libraries.org).

>And NOT ONE
>genuine Cuban librarian or library worker has joined the "independents."
>That should tell us something.

Not true. At least two "official" librarians that we know of have joined the free library movement since going into exile. And more importantly, all library workers, whether or not they have a library degree, have a right to defend intellectual freedom. And who, exactly, qualifies as a "genuine" librarian or library worker? For example, the director of Cuba's National Library does not have a library degree. In the view of Ms. Sparanese, does this fact make him a criminal, too?

>Of course, Kent already admitted... [and] I quote, "Kent told LJ his group was 'ad hoc'
>and did not have official members but that it was funded by supporters, though he later
>acknowledged it receives U.S. government funds" (p.42).

Not true. The Friends of Cuban Libraries are funded entirely by our members, although we defend the right of all libraries to accept donations from any source.

Sincerely,

The Friends of Cuban Libraries
(HTTP://WWW.FRIENDSOFCUBANLIBRARIES.ORG)

And now for something on the lighter side

Ts'I mahnu uterna ot twan ot geifur hingts uto. --t-shirt

Your life as political bargaining chip

Government-induced hysteria thrives on public ignorance, which is why President Bush is so confident of turning the British bomb plot to his partisan purposes. Otherwise, how could he dare claim that his policies have made the nation safer?

Consider, first off, that the attack envisioned -- smuggling liquid-explosive ingredients onto 10 passenger planes -- was outlined in chapter five of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report as a plot first exposed a decade ago. The originator of that planned hijacking of 12 U.S.-bound planes, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was also the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. According to U.S. prosecutors, his nephew, convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef, even managed to explode such a liquid-based bomb on a Manila-Tokyo flight, killing one passenger, as part of a plot code-named "Bojinka."

Because checking or banning fluids was not a focus of this administration's post-Sept. 11 airport security measures, this "coincidence" would suggest either enormous negligence on the part of those charged with protecting us or a ludicrous overreaction this past week. Knowing as we did of Mohammed's earlier plan, why wasn't the Department of Homeland Security requiring fliers to dump their bottles of hairspray and mother's milk before?
--Robert Scheer, Spinning Old Threats into New Fears, 16 Aug 2006

See the full article at AlterNet.org; see, in my COMMENTS section, intellectually dishonest, soi disant libertarians deny that this article can possibly be relevant because it is published at the wrong place.

LIBRARY VISITOR THREATENED BY POLICE

LIBRARY VISITOR THREATENED BY POLICE

HOLGUIN, Cuba, August 11, 2006 (Liannis Merino Aguilera, www.cubanet.org) - One of the patrons who visits the Gaston Baquero Independent Library, located in the city of Banes, was intercepted by the police on August 5, according to the library director, Martha Diaz Rondon.

The officials asked the patron for his identity card and made a note of it; they told the library visitor that this information would be sent to the chief of his zone of residence so that an official warning would be issued, and that he would be prosecuted for the crime of "social dangerousness" if he continues visiting the library.

The Gaston Baquero Library is well-established in the community, and a large number of people visit it to find reliable and uncensored information, but the secret police send agents to harass people visiting the library.

Cuba's independent libraries have developed into a source of information for members of the civil society. In the libraries readers can enjoy literature without restrictions or censorship, and for this reason the government confiscates their books and uses repressive measures to try to prevent people from visiting them.

The library director, Ms. Diaz Rondon, stated that this isn't the first time such intimidation has occurred. On previous occasions readers have been photographed and videotaped while entering and leaving the library. She said this is a maneuver used by the secret police to prevent people in Banes from accessing this kind of information; the police intimidate patrons in an effort to prevent them from returning to the library.

Diaz Rondon declared: "The Gaston Baquero Library is located at 2007 Cespedes Street, between Cardenas Avenue and General Marrero St., in the city of Banes, and it will continue offering services to the public whether the current government likes it or not."

An Open Letter to World Library Associations

An Open Letter to World Library Associations
August 14, 2006
From the Friends of Cuban Libraries

Dear colleagues:

Currently the IFLA 2006 agenda contains one resolution on Cuba, which will be voted on at the Seoul conference. The resolution was placed on the IFLA 2006 agenda by the Latvian Library Association, and it focuses on the Cuban government's persecution of the island's independent library movement and the seizure and burning of thousands of library books. In keeping with IFLA's commitment to defend intellectual freedom as a universal human right, we in the Friends of Cuban Libraries would like to once again ask you to support this resolution, which we had the honor of drafting and which was formally adopted by the Latvian Library Association.

In response to the Latvian-sponsored resolution, Cuba's official library association (ASCUBI) plans to introduce a counter-resolution entitled "Necessity of Putting an End to the Negative Effects of the U.S. Government's Blockade of Public Libraries in Cuba." The counter-resolution contains some valid points which the Friends of Cuban Libraries would support. For example, as noted and condemned in the Latvian resolution, the U.S. government restricts the direct sale of computers to Cuba. Because intellectual freedom is a universal human right to which everyone in the world is entitled, we believe it is just and proper for IFLA to oppose the U.S. government's ban on computer sales to Cuba, along with other high-tech materials such as software.

By way of background, U.S. trade legislation on embargoed nations (including Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Burma) contains an exemption for informational materials such as books, magazines, newspapers and recordings. Traditional informational materials, such as books, are sent between the U.S. and Cuba without restriction. But this U.S. legislation was enacted decades ago, before computers became widely used, as a result of which high-tech equipment such as computers is not recognized among the informational materials exempt from trade embargos. To oppose this injustice, we in the Friends of Cuban Libraries join with the official Cuban library association in calling for a condemnation of U.S. restrictions on computer sales to Cuba. In a similar manner, we joined with the official Cuban library association to condemn the recent banning of a Cuba-themed book from a Florida school library.

But the Cuban counter-resolution about to be introduced at the IFLA conference, instead of recognizing intellectual freedom as a universal human right, tries to blame other countries for the Cuban government's own legislation outlawing freedom of access to information. The counter-resolution tries to ignore the fact that it is the Cuban government which criminalizes the ownership of computers and access to the Internet on the island. A Cuban official has even denounced the Internet as the "great disease" of the 21st century. Many governments try to block or filter individual websites, but Cuba is one of the few governments which makes it a crime to access the World Wide Web, except for a few privileged persons and foreign tourists. All but a few of the Cuban citizens who are allowed to use computers are limited to surfing an "Intranet" containing a limited number of websites sponsored or approved by the government.

The government allows full Internet access to foreign tourists and a few members of the Cuban elite, so why can't the same right be enjoyed by all Cubans?- Please do not allow the Cuban governement to get away with blaming others for the laws it imposes on its own citizens.

We hope IFLA delegates, when analyzing how they will vote on the Cuban Library Association's counter-resolution at the Seoul conference, will keep these important realities in mind. As noted previously, we believe the counter-resolution does contain some valid statements condemning U.S. restrictions on sales of high-tech materials. But we hope the counter-resolution, if passed, will contain amendments recognizing the Cuban government's responsibility for outlawing the unlicensed ownership of computers and its ban on the World Wide Web, printers, fax machines and other technology essential to freedom of access to information in the modern world.

The FAIFE committee has already issued a report on the Cuban government legislation which criminalizes the ownership of computers and access to the World Wide Web. The FAIFE report, entitled "Librarians' Deep Concern Over Cuba's Move to Restrict Internet Access," is available at: (http://www.ifla.org/V/press/cuba160104.htm).

Even greater detail on the Cuban government's assault on intellectual freedom, computers and the Internet can be found in reports by internationally respected organizations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. The latter group has named Cuba among the world's leading "Enemies of the Internet"
(http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15613).

Printed at the end of this message are excerpts from the segment on Cuba in the Reporters Without Borders report entitled "Internet Under Surveillance."

Sincerely,

Robert Kent
Co-chair, The Friends of Cuban Libraries

[Excerpts deleted for brevity; see RSF's "Internet Under Surveillance" (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=10611).

An appeal to the library associations of the world

Dear, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am writing to solicit your assistance in holding the government of Cuba accountable for its unconscionable mistreatment of independent librarians. You can do so by voting to adopt a resolution that will be put forward at the 72nd IFLA Conference in Seoul, South Korea, this August.

In March of 2003, the government of Cuba engaged in a sweeping crackdown on journalists and independent librarians. This latter group consists of private citizens who had the temerity to open lending libraries out of their homes and using their own meager collections, without the permission of the state and outside of the state controlled library system. Seventy five people were rounded up, ten of whom were independent librarians, and they were given one-day trials. In the case of the librarians, the average sentence was nineteen years six months, with the longest being twenty-six years.
The charges were levied under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.

In at least four of the cases, the judges ordered the seized materials to be burned. While some of the books were fiction, most of the seized materials dealt with political and human rights matters, including, but not restricted to:

* The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
* Cuba's Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the
Revolution, by Human Rights Watch;
* The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in
Central-Eastern Europe, by Vaclav Havel;
* Reporters Without Borders, Mission report in Cuba;
* The Constitution of the United States;
* copies of Time Magazine;
* textbooks on journalism.

Since that time, the American Library Association has engaged in a program of both tacit and active support for the jailing of Cuban independent librarians, and support for these fullscale human rights violations has also tainted the International Federation of Library Associations. Discussion of the actions by the Cuban government has been forbidden in Listservs. The ALA invited Eliades Acosta to the 2003 annual ALA convention in Toronto, Ontario, where he was to take part in a panel discussion on Cuban libraries. Mr. Acosta challenged Mr. Kent to a debate on the topic at the convention, but the ALA reportedly refused to permit any critics of the Cuban government to speak. Mr. Acosta is the head of the Jose Marti Library and effectively the government official in charge of repudiating any efforts to see the injustices against the independent librarians rectified.

More recently:

Andrei Codrescu was the keynote speaker at the ALA's mid-winter conference for 2006, where he called upon the ALA to oppose this movement by the government of Cuba (you can read the text of his speech at "http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org/"), which raised a protests at his daring to demand an upholding of freedom and liberty. Mr. Codrescu was subjected to barrages of invective, not alone by the ALA members who are working to maintain the status quo, but also by Eliades Acosta (a translation of Mr. Acosta's reply is also at Friends of Cuban Libraries).

This was followed by the Latvian and Lithuanian library associations submitting a Cuba resolution, drafted with the aid of the Friends of Cuban Libraries, which was added to the agenda of the 72nd IFLA annual conference. The draft resolution was sent directly to the IFLA Secretariat to avoid its being blocked by the censorial elements in FAIFE.

Another blow against the anti-independent librarian movement was struck by Madeleine Albright, who delivered the keynote speech on 24 June, at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans. Ms. Albright is a former U.S. ambassaodor to the United Nations, and was Secretary of State to President Bill Clinton. In her speech she called on libraries to be "laboratories for freedom" and also defended the right of Cubans to loan books and to open libraries free from
government control. This generated another round of invective and extremism, in particular by Eliades Acosta, who wrote a propagandist diatribe in Librinsula filled with personal attacks against Ms. Albright, but none of which refuted any of the points she raised.

The tide seems to have turned back in favour of the Cuban bookburners and the censorial elements in the ALA and IFLA when the Lithuanian Library Association asked that its resolution be removed from the agenda of the upcoming conference (although it is not certain if it can be removed from the agenda now, which seems to be set). The Cuban government had apparently contacted both the Lithuanian and Latvian Library Associations and lobbied them to do so. The Latvian Association, however, declined to withdraw its draft resolution immediately, pending further investigation of the issues raised.

Given statements made by Mr. Robert Kent, co-founder of Friends of Cuban Libraries, the issues raised consist of at least the following points:

* No Cuban librarians have been jailed;
* Robert Kent does not represent the librarians of Cuba.

I maintain that Senor Acosta's position is based solely on a semantic trick. Those private-citizen lenders of books are not librarians only from the viewpoint that they did not have permission from the state to identify themselves in that manner, and that they had no credentials in librarianship. Other than these technicalities, they did function as librarians in every other regard. Which brings me around to my viewpoint on the matter of independent librarians.

John Miller, a professor of journalism, once made this point: In a free society, a free press belongs to everybody. A fine and lofty principle that means: in a free society, everyone is necessarily a journalist in the eyes of the principles of freedom, if not necessarily in fact. Under this viewpoint, it then becomes necessary to further categorize everyone into
two of four possible subgroups. Credentialed, uncredentialed; practicing, non-practicing.

In the same fashion, the victimized lenders of books can call themselves librarians. They are uncredentialed, but do practice librarianship. Denying that they can possibly be librarians, however, allows Senor Acosta to hold that no librarians have been jailed. The phrase used by those who fail to oppose this oppression is, "they are not real librarians". A charge to which I would reply: "There is no such thing as an unreal librarian, they are merely unlicensed librarians."

As to the second point and as a corollary to the first, Mr. Kent does not represent the librarians of Cuba because he is not an official of that government, and every licensed librarian is under state control. What Mr. Kent does do is to represent those who have been silenced and imprisoned and who must struggle mightily to have their smallest utterance escape to the outside world. In this regard he is a self-appointed representative. And I would like to add, for the benefit of those who might scoff at the idea that he can simply adopt this mantle, that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, two men whose actions overthrew thoroughly entrenched systems of injustice, took their respective tasks upon themselves. Neither was selected by a higher temporal authority or granted their positions by plebescite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us now set aside rhetoric and semantics and deal instead with the cold, hard facts of reality.

1: The people of Cuba, regardless of what else they might do in the privacy of their lives, are human beings.

2: Cuban public libraries are state controlled, as opposed to those that are merely state funded or administered.

3: The government of Fidel Castro has ordered the arrest of certain private citizens who have lent books out of the privacy of their own homes in the same manner as any public library in any free country.

4: Acting as agents of the government, the judges trying the cases, some, if not all, of which lasted but one day, inflicted sentences with an average duration of nineteen years six months; the longest sentence being twenty-six years.

5: Pursuant to finding the defendants guilty, the judges then ordered, in some cases, that the collections be destroyed by "incineration".

6: Even before this pogrom against independent lenders of books, the government of Cuba seized a shipment of American books intended for independent lenders and dissident groups, claiming the reason for the seizure was not the content of the books, but the intended recipients; the government claimed that such groups rely on American contacts to help support their opposition of Castro's policies.

7: The materials destroyed were primarily of matters political, and pertaining to human rights and democratic ideals (copies of the U.S. Constitution and the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance); this is known from sentencing documents from four of the trials, that are internet accessible (written in Cuban-Spanish).

8: The government of Cuba has kept some Cuban citizens, such as the group known as Ladies in White, from traveling to foreign countries to receive recognition of their political activism, while sending others, some of them lenders of books, into external exile.

9: Under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy:

* Article 6: Sets prison terms from three to eight years for those
"who accumulate, reproduce or spread material of subversive
character from the government of the United States of America, its
agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials, or from any
other foreign entity.

* Article 7: Sets penalties from two to five years in prison for
"anyone who...collaborates in any way with foreign radio or
television stations, newspapers, magazines or other mass media with
the purpose of...destabilizing the country and destroying the
socialist state." The penalties rise to three to eight years in
prison if such collaboration "is carried out for profit."

* Article 9: Sets prison terms of seven to 15 years to "anyone
who...carries out any action aimed at hindering or hurting economic
relations of the Cuban state."

* Article 11: Sets prison terms of three to eight years to "anyone
who...directly or through third parties, receives, distributes or
participates in the distribution of financial, material or other
resources, from the government of the United States, its agencies,
dependencies, representatives, officials or private entities.

10: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states and delares:

* Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, . . . ;

* Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention
or exile;

* Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers;

* Article 27: (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in
scientific advancement and its benefits;

* Article 29: (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone
shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law
solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for
the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just
requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a
democratic society.

Any one of the above articles of Law 88 can be abused and exploited to lock up any person who attracts the attention of the government, and indeed, such seems to have been the case of Julio Valdes. The sentencing document from his trial (translated) says that he was condemned for:

"accumulating books, magazines and pamphlets by counter-revolutionary
authors in foreign countries, principally in Miami, Florida, United
States of America, which exhort civil disobedience, twisting historical
events and the achievements of illustrious thinkers and revolutionary
patriots..." [in order to] "provoke the destruction of the political,
social and economic order now existing in Cuba...."

[...]

"As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette,
medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents,
they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack
usefulness."

Moreover, given the serious sentences set out, one would expect a defendant facing any of those charges to be given more than one day for a trial.

Can there be any doubt that the government of Cuba is a fullscale violator of human rights, and its attack against the independent librarians is an affront to those people everywhere who staunchly maintain and defend the free flow of information and the free exchange of ideas? Does not the destruction of their collections for "lack of usefulness" smack of the most vile type of censorship? And is it not rather paradoxical that copies of some of the destroyed materials reside on the shelves of some licensed libraries?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you to have your representatives at the 72nd IFLA conference strike a blow at this heart of darkness and vote in favour of the Latvian and, if applicable, the Lithuanian resolution opposing the unconscionable mistreatment of private-citizen librarians in Cuba.

Thank you for considering my request.

Michael Nellis

To a harried librarian fed up with advocacy

Dear, XX. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

May I reply to your e-mail, in which you wrote:

> Sorry, but I do not see a need for this resolution. IFLA has spoken out strongly
> against the imprisonment of political dissidents in Cuba. They have spoken out
> strongly in support of intellectual freedom in Cuba. No one has spoken in favor
> of the current Cuban government tactics in this area.

> I don't really think there is more that can be done.

It is perhaps true, indeed almost certainly true, that Fidel Castro will no more listen to us than Adolf Hitler did to Chamberlain when he sought peace in his time, or Stalin did to Roosevelt when that worthy called upon the U.S.S.R to release those countries that state had "liberated" into Soviet captivity.

I cannot at all agree in good conscience, however, that there is nothing more to be done, or that enough is enough as regards opposing the summary imprisonment of private citizens for lending out their books.

If nothing else, our continued demanding for justice can raise a clangor that will reach even the ears of those who are being treated so unjustly. Please consider that their greatest torture will not be their imprisonment on false charges -- for like Socrates they will know those charges to be unjust -- or the loss of their precious collections -- for they are sure to believe as Ben Joseph Akiba did that while the paper burns the words fly away -- but rather their greatest torture will be the loss of hope. Hope is sometimes the only thing the oppressed have left; a very small flickering that can hold at bay all of the power and destitution of the most monstrous totalitarianism.

If however little we can do can keep hope alive in the minds and hearts of the oppressed, then it is well worth the doing. For so long as hope remains alive, so too will their spirits of resistance.

Thank you.

--Michael Nellis, 31 Jul 2006

An Apology

By Doug McIntyre
Host, McIntyre in the Morning

Talk Radio 790 KABC

I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he's the worst President, period.

I believed the President when he said we were going to hunt down Bin Laden and all those responsible for the 9-11 murders. I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them.

I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan, after all, that's where the Taliban was, that's where al-Qaida trained the killers, that's where Bin Laden was.

And I cheered when we quickly toppled the Taliban government, but winced when we let Bin Laden escape from Tora-Bora.

Then, the talk turned to Iraq and I winced again.

I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, "The Project for the New American Century." It's been around since '92, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, "Democratizing the Middle East" and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, "pre-emptive war." Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous.

But the President shifted the argument to WMDs and the urgent threat of Iraq getting atomic weapons. The debate turned to Saddam passing nukes on to terror groups. After 9-11, the risk was too great. As the President said, "The next smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud." At least that's what I thought at the time.

But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th.

I have watched the President say the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war won't be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can't do on the ground and any commander who did not go along with the administration was sacked, and in some cases, maligned.

I watched and tried to justify the looting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I watched and tried to justify the dismantling of the entire Iraqi army. I tired to explain the complexities of building a functional new Iraqi army. I
urged patience when no WMDs were found. Then the Vice President told us we were in the "waning days of the insurgency." And I started wincing again. The President says we have to stay the course but what if it's the wrong course?

It was the wrong course. All of it was wrong. We are not on the road to victory. We're about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear armed Iran in our wake. Bali was bombed. Madrid was bombed. London was bombed. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It's unspeakable. The liberal media didn't create this reality, bad policy did.

After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I've reached the conclusion he's either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both.

Presidential failures. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Warren Harding--- the competition is fierce for the worst of the worst. Still, the damage this President has done is enormous. It will take decades to undo, and that's assuming we do everything right from now on. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments.

And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let's talk for a minute about President Bush's domestic record. Yes, he cut taxes. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public's money. We're drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren's credit cards. Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?

Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. He lied to the country about its true cost. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry. It helps nobody except the multinationals that lobbied for it. So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, or environmental protection, and/or worker's rights.

Katrina, Harriet Myers, The Dubai Port Deal, skyrocketing gas prices, shrinking wages for working people, staggering debt, astronomical foreign debt, outsourcing, open borders, contempt for the opinion of the American people, the war on science, media manipulation, faith based initiatives, a cavalier attitude toward fundamental freedoms-- this President has run the most arrogant and out-of-touch administration in my lifetime, perhaps, in any American's lifetime.

It may be decades before we have the full picture of how paranoid and contemptuous this administration has been. And I am open to the possibility that I'm all wet about everything I've just said. But I'm putting it out there, because I have to call it as I see it, and this is how I see it today. I don't say any of this lightly. I've thought about this for months and months. But eventually, the weight of evidence takes on a gravitational force of its own.

I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don't believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we're on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and its rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.

So, accept my apology for allowing partisanship to blind me to an obvious truth; our President is incapable of the tasks he is charged with. I almost feel sorry for him. He is clearly in over his head. Yet, he doesn't generate the sympathy Warren Harding earned. Harding, a spectacular mediocrity, had the self-knowledge to tell any and all he shouldn't be President. George W. Bush continues to act the part, but at this point who is buying the act?

Does this make me a waffler? A flip-flopper? Maybe, although I prefer to call it realism. And, for those of you who never supported Bush, its also fair to accuse me of kicking Bush while he's down. After all, you were kicking him while he was up.

You were right, I was wrong.

Read full apology here.

Appalling news for Cuban indy librarians

Dear IFLA headquarters,

On March 9th, 2006 Lithuanian Librarians Association did send the resolution on Cuba to IFLA. Our intensions were the very best ones to support librarians from Cuba, but it turned out that Mr. Robert Kent - the very active initiator of this resolution - was not acting on behalf of Cuban librarians and missleaded us. We got in touch with Cuban librarians (Margarita Bellas, President of the Cuban Librarians Association) who clarified the whole situation.

We would like to withdraw our former proposed resolution and would like to appologies for this missunderstanding. We hope to have fruitfull cooperation with IFLA and will be very carefull about falce initiatives in the future .

If any official letter is needed to withdraw the proposed resolution - please let us know.

Wishing you nice summer and see you at WLIC in Seul.

Sincerely,

Emilija Banionyte
Lithuanian Librarians' Association, Vice-President
Vilnius Pedagogical University, Library Director
Studentu 39, LT- 01806 Vilnius, Lithuania
tel./faks. +XXX X XXXXXXX; mobile +XXX XXX XXXXX
XXXXXXX.XXXXXXXXX@XXX.XX
Skype: XXXXXXXXXX

Contact info was deleted at the discretion of this editor. It can be made available upon request.

What a Republican Cry Baby

Even an infant in diapers, whose native language is German, doesn't want to associate with Bush the baby-killer. And Bush doesn't look at all happy about that:

     

By the by, why does this put me in mind of that propagandist news report out of Baghdad several years ago when Saddam staged a friendly meeting with some hostages and the young man in the family practically had to be shoved at him when Saddam wanted to show how friendly and nice a guy he could be?

Civics 101 For Hate-monger Republicans

Civics 101 For Hate-monger Republicans

Oklahoma Representative Thad Balkman (Republican), cried piteously about a court ruling from 19th May: "It's another case of an activist court trying to legislate from the bench. It's unfortunate that a single judge is trying to rewrite the law."

This is utterly contemptible hogwash from start to finish, and here's why:

In a democratic, republican system of government, such as exists in the U.S., there is what is called a Separation of Powers. Every level of government -- municipal, state, and federal -- is subject to this concept. Under the Separation of Powers, the government is divided into three branchs:

  • Executive: the office of the highest elected member of that government: mayor, governor, president; the function of which is to ratify or veto laws put before it by the:

  • Legislative: which branch proposes, debates, and passes or rejects proposals for laws, or amendments to or the repealing of already extent laws; each of which is subject to critical review by:
  • Judicial: which branch interprets those laws which are passed by the various legislatures and ratified by the various executives, and considers the fitness thereof by testing them against the constitution.

The Judicial branch has no authority or wherewithal in any way, shape, or form, to "legislate" or rewrite laws. Moreover, a 05 Jan court ruling by the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that precept and the Separation of Powers. Also be it noted that in order to form a more perfect union, it is necessary for this branch to be removed from political maneuvering, manipulation, or intimidation. To support this, there is in place a principle called Judicial Independence. In effect: to ensure that justices are better able to effect "justice", they are completely autonomous and unaccountable for their rulings, so long as they themselves do not violate any laws or codes of ethics.

The sole purpose of the courts is to maintain a level playing field and to be a last resort in the petitioning of government for a redress of a grievance.

So squealing little hate-monger Balkman told a lie. A damned lie. A damned odious lie!

But out of what motive or background?

This utter falsehood was either stated deliberately or from simple ignorance of basic American Civics.

If it was uttered with a reckless disregard for the truth, then Balkman is a vile blashphemer before the Eighth Commandmant: Thou shalt not bear false witness. He has also, in my not so humble opinion, perpetrated slander against Judge Cauthron. Now, you might be saying that he did not specifically name Judge Cauthron, but he did sufficiently identify the Judge, " . . . a single judge is trying to rewrite the law", and imputed to that judge an act of judicial malfeasance or misconduct; to whit: that he violated the Separation of Powers.

If this baseless falsehood was the result of abject ignorance, then Balkman isn't really in any better position. He's elected to public office, for crying out loud! How can an elected official be so purblind ignorant of his function in public office as to make a statement that is so totally at odds with the political reality of his community, state, and country?!

In either event, it was Balkman who has violated the Separation of Powers and the principle of Judicial Independence by making an utterance the sole purpose of which is to bring the judicial branch under the sway of the executive, and political maneuvering, manipulation, or intimidation thereby.

So, here's what I propose:

  1. Judge Cauthron should sue Balkman for libel. If it turns out that Balkman did in fact slander the judge, he should be dismissed from office on the grounds of contempt for due process and democratic governance; and dismissed with prejudice, meaning that he would be forbidden to work in any public function, whether elected, appointed, or employed.

  2. Any legislation that does not pass constitutional muster as a failure of human rights, should be grounds for immediate recall of those elected officials who voted in its favor for they're having gone forsworn in not defending the constitution. (Although that measure might very well violate the Fifth Amendment, as they would necessarily implicate themselves by how they voted.)
  3. Candidates for public office, at any level, should be required to pass an examination composed of essay questions pertaining to the basic civics that should be public knowledge (passing grade to be not less than 85% and maybe higher), and any elected official who displays ignorance of civics while in office should immediately be suspended without pay until he can demonstrate a proper level of knowledge and that he is fit for candidature and re-election at the next vote. The examinations, being government documents, will be public property.
  4. At the very least, the American corporate press should put this cry-baby's feet to the fire and demand that he explain himself for either his blasphemy, his slander, or his ignorance.

WHAT A RIP!

From the MySpace.com terms of Service, where you effectively sign over any and all rights to anything:

By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") on or through the Services, you hereby grant to MySpace.com, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services.

Thieving sluts! Fuck you, Murdoch, you scum-sucking dirt bag!

Save the internet from corporate lobbyists and neo-fascists

free press action alert

Dear media reformer,

 Click here

Protect Net Freedom

Tell Congress to vote with the public and against the telephone
and cable cartel. Defend Internet freedom.

Visit
SavetheInternet.com

Yesterday afternoon, a House committee caved to
the narrow interests of telecom companies and voted to strip Net
Neutrality from a bill moving through Congress.

Network Neutrality is the Internet's First
Amendment -- without it companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast
will move to control what you do, where you go, and what you
watch online.

The vote was an outrage, but the fight for
Internet freedom is far from over. More important votes are
coming in Congress -- and we have the momentum.

More than 250,000 people have written and called
Congress in the past five days. Because we've raised public
awareness of this issue, no member of Congress can in good
conscience vote with the telephone and cable cartel.

Politicians take action when they realize we are
paying attention. Let them know you're watching:

Tell Congress to Protect Internet
Freedom

We have ignited a prairie fire of protest. In
less than one week, our SavetheInternet.com Coalition has lit up
the phones in Congress. We've rallied more than 600 blogs to
write about this issue. We've formed a diverse, bipartisan
coalition of more than 75 organizations banding together to
fight for a free and open Internet.

Congress needs to hear from us right away.
Please sign our letter to Congress. And don't forget to spread
the word to your friends, colleagues and family:

Stop Congress from Selling Out
the Internet

The fight has just begun. We've already proven
that people can make a difference by simply speaking out. Now,
let's win.

Onward,

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press
www.freepress.net

P.S. Stay up to date on breaking developments in
the campaign. Visit SavetheInternet.com

P.P.S. To learn more about yesterday's Committee
vote, see the vote
tally
and call your representative.

= = = =

If you received this message from a friend, you
can sign up for the Free Press at: http://action.freepress.net/freepress/join.html?r=u7wwFRS1EazTE&

You gotta love this stuff

Support stem cell research. Grow Bush a brain.
--bumpersticker

Selling out for a mess of pottage

free press action alert

Dear media reformer,

Rep. Joe Barton

Congress Sells Out

After accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in
contributions from big telecom firms, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)
is sponsoring a bill to hand over the Internet to these same
companies. He's not alone.

Where Does Your
Representative Stand?

Act Now: Save the
Internet

Congress is about to sell out the Internet by
letting big phone and cable companies set up toll booths along
the information superhighway.

Companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are
spending tens of millions in Washington to kill "network
neutrality" -- a principle that keeps the Internet open to all.

A bill moving quickly through Congress would let
these companies become Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web
sites go fast or slow -- and which won't load at all -- based on
who pays them more. The rest of us will be detoured to the "slow
lane," clicking furiously and waiting for our favorite sites to
download.

Don't let Congress ruin the Internet:

Tell Congress to Save Net
Neutrality Now

Our elected representatives are trading favors
for campaign donations from phone and cable companies. They're
being wooed by people like AT&T's CEO, who says "the Internet
can't be free" and wants to decide what you do, where you go and
what you watch online.

The best ideas never come from those with the
deepest pockets. If the phone and cable companies get their way,
the free and open Internet could soon be fenced in by large
corporations. If Congress turns the Internet over to giants like
AT&T, everyone who uses the Internet will suffer:

  • Google users -- Another search engine could
    pay AT&T to guarantee that it opens faster than Google on your
    computer.
  • iPod listeners --
    Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a
    higher-priced music service that paid for the privilege.
  • Work-at-home parents --
    Connecting to your office could take longer if you don't
    purchase your carrier's preferred applications. Sending family
    photos and videos could slow to a crawl.
  • Retirees -- Web pages you always use for
    online banking, access to health care information, planning a
    trip or communicating with friends and family could fall victim
    to Verizon's pay-for-speed schemes.
  • Bloggers -- Costs will skyrocket to post and
    share video and audio clips -- silencing citizen journalists and
    amplifying the mainstream media.
  • Online activists -- Political organizing
    could be slowed by the handful of dominant Internet providers
    who ask advocacy groups to pay a fee to join the "fast lane."
  • Small businesses -- When AT&T
    favors their own services, you won't be able to choose more
    affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, and
    Internet phone calls.
  • Innovators
    with the "next big idea"
    -- Startups and entrepreneurs will
    be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay
    for a top spot on the Web.

We can't let Congress ruin the free and open
Internet.

Let Congress Know that You
Want Net Neutrality Now

We must act now or lose the Internet as we know
it.

Onward,

Robert W. McChesney
President
Free Press
www.freepress.net

Command structure on the civilian administration

Command structure on the civilian administration -- 15 Apr 2006

Maj. Gen. John Batiste (US Army, Ret.) is the latest in a line of top military brass to ask the embattled Rumsfeld to step down. As the Washington Post reported Thursday, Batiste said, "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense."

Volumes indeed. Batiste commanded an army division in Iraq and was offered three-stars as well as the No. 2 position there. He chose instead to retire rather than continuing to serve under Rumsfeld. Batiste believes "... the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles... ." And, as he told The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, "...the strategic underpinnings of this war can be traced back in policy to the secretary of defense. He built it the way he wanted it."

Last month Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton - who oversaw the training of Iraqi troops - was much more pointed in his criticism of Rumsfeld. He wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Rumsfeld is "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically" and should resign.

And in an essay for Time magazine last week, Lt. Gen Gregory Newbold - the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff until shortly before the invasion - called for replacing Rumsfeld "and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach."

It is unprecedented for career military leaders to be speaking out in this manner - and it's the tip of the iceberg. --Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Generals Revolt

Larry Johnson on Bush & Plamegate, 11 Apr 2006

Larry Johnson on Bush & Plamegate, 11 Apr 2006

For those who still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, it is unlikely that the name of Valerie Wilson surfaced during the White House planning to retaliate against Joe Wilson. For those still in touch with reality who recognize the difference between hard facts and wishful fantasies, it is very likely that George Bush and Dick Cheney at least gave tacit approval to go after Valerie Wilson. In fact, the White House spin worked mightily to make her part of the story when, if they really wanted to know the truth, they only needed to ask George Tenet. They did not, and the rest is history.

Until last week, we could assume that George Bush avoided the plan to use leaks and false information to attack Joe Wilson. Now, in light of the revelations from Patrick Fitzgerald, George Bush is implicated directly.

The real point, however, is not the outing of a covert CIA officer. The tragedy is that our President lied to make the case to go to war in Iraq. He manipulated and ignored intelligence. And, when the lie was exposed, he blamed the CIA rather than take responsibility for his own actions. As I have said before, that is a definition of a coward.

Geov Parrish on George Bush -- 10 Apr 2006

Geov Parrish on George Bush -- 10 Apr 2006

In 2003, while pledging to fire anyone in his administration found to have leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson to journalists, President George Bush intoned that he did not know of "anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."

Well.

Pick your favorite Bush quote on this topic; there are countless good ones, now that we learn that former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, when forced by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify under oath to save his own skin, fingered both Bush and his former boss, Dick Cheney. Libby testified that they both authorized the leaking of classified National Intelligence Estimate information on Iraq in July 2003 in order to defend the administration's decision to unilaterally invade Iraq. A president who has ordered the launching of widespread investigations to find leakers in the CIA and State Department, including the polygraphing of scores of intelligence professionals, the man who wants the NSA spying and CIA gulag whistleblowers prosecuted, is himself a leaker. And the same testimony revealed that Bush was aware at every step of the way of the ongoing campaign to publicly smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson. Pick your sanctimonious Bush statements about that, too.

What. A. Freaking. Hypocrite.

And, as we've come to expect, a liar. Stop the presses. We're so accustomed to the lies of George Bush being uncovered after the fact, we don't even notice any longer.

And they thought Clinton's behavior brought disgrace to the Oval Office.

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