Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rush Limbaugh Earned $3 Million In 1992

Being a right-wing extremist U.S. radio and television commentator has, historically, been a quite lucrative hustle. Former Republican Party committeewoman Millie Limbaugh's son, former U.S. Ambassador to India Limbaugh's grandson and 1990s U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh's nephew--Rush Limbaugh III--"in 1992...said that he was earning $3 million for the year and expected to earn $5 million in 1993," for example, according to the March 1993 issue of Current Biography.

Since 1988, this right-wing extremist has been syndicating the daily three-hour Rush Limbaugh Show, which by the early 1990s was aired by 560 U.S. radio stations. As a lucrative tie-in to his radio show, the [now 59-year-old] Limbaugh was also able to market over 2 million copies of his The Way Things Ought To Be book in the early 1990s.

In September 1992, the former presidential campaign media advisor to both Ronald Reagan and George Bush [I]--Roger Ailes--also began producing a nightly tv show for Limbaugh that was then syndicated by Multi-Media Entertainment Inc. on 180 U.S. tv stations; and, by January 1993, this half-hour Rush Limbaugh Show was being aired on 206 U.S. tv stations.

(Downtown, 5/26/93)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Journalism Ethics vs. Foundation-Sponsored Alternative Media Censorship

If you check out many of the left alternative media radio/tv shows, publications, websites or blogs that receive grants from U.S. foundations like the Ford Foundation, Billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Lannan Foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, Bill Moyers' Schumann Center for Media & Democracy/Schumann Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Knight Foundation, you'll notice that these alternative media radio shows, publications, websites or blogs rarely provide their listeners, viewers or readers with any critical news about their foundation funders. Yet, according to the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, U.S. journalists are supposed to:

"Avoid conflicts of interests, real or perceived.

"Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

"Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel, and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office, and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

"Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

"Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. [Note: Including those who hold power within the U.S. multi-billion dollar foundation world]

"Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

"Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money."

Friday, August 27, 2010

`Rolling Stone' Magazine's Salon/Adobe/Oracle/Dell Connection

As the recent replacement of General McChrystal by General Petraeus as military leader of the Pentagon’s endless war in Afghanistan indicates, a news article that’s published by Rolling Stone magazine can sometimes affect U.S. politics during the current U.S. historical era of endless war abroad and endless economic recession at home. But it’s unlikely that Rolling Stone ( www.rollingstone.com ) will publish many news articles that are critical of either the Internet magazine Salon’s (www.salon.com ) lack of reporting about U.S. political prisoners or of the way Salon, Adobe Systems, Oracle or Dell Inc. executives obtain their wealth.

One reason might be because: (1) as of June 1, 2010 Rolling Stone Magazine Owner Jann Wenner and his Wenner Media LLC firm apparently owned 10.1 percent of the Salon Media Group’s common stock; (2) Adobe Systems Co-Chairman of the Board John Warnock is also Salon’s chairman of the board; (3) former Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen sits on Oracle’s corporate board; and (4) and current Adobe president and CEO, Shantanu Narayen, sits next to Texas Billionaire Michael Dell on the Dell Inc. board of directors.

Between 2004 and February 2006, Wenner also sat on Salon’s board of directors, after investing $200,000 in the Salon Media Group in December 2003. According to a Jan. 15, 2004 Salon press release, after Rolling Stone invested in Salon, the Salon founder and then-CEO, David Talbot, stated:

“I look forward to working with Jann Wenner on the Salon board of directors…Everyone at Salon is also very excited about collaborating with Rolling StoneSalon’s partnership with Rolling Stone is full of great promise.”


The same press release also reported that Wenner said: “I’m excited about this collaboration between Rolling Stone and Salon.”

Ironically, a few years before Wenner joined its corporate board, Salon had posted an article by Sean Elder on June 28, 2002, titled “The death of Rolling Stone,” which observed:

“…The truth is that Rolling Stone has been such an undistinguished hybrid—part ‘70s-style journalism (investigative reporting, distinct voices and rambling interviews), and part any other entertainment magazine you can name for so long that most of its subscribers are probably unaware that they still get it…

“As Rolling Stone has slowly morphed into a magazine just like dozens of others, it has lost its reason for being…Rolling Stone seems like an anachronism, the Ladies’ Home Journal of rock journalism…”


Salon’s Website attracts about 5.4 million unique visitors per month and “ultimately, Salon charges advertisers for a set number of ad impressions viewed by a Website visitor,” according to the Salon Media Group’s June 2010 10K S.E.C. financial filing. Between March 2009 and March 2010, for example, Salon collected over $2.9 million from its corporate advertisers and $701,000 from its 15,800 paid subscribers (who pay Salon between $29 and $45 each year). In addition, none of Salon’s 45 full-time and 2 part-time employees are unionized or subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Yet, according to its June 2010 10 K financial filing:

Salon has been relying on cash infusions primarily from related parties to fund operations. The related parties are generally John Warnock, Chairman of the Board of Salon, and William Hambrecht. William Hambrecht is the father of Salon’s former President and Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Hambrecht, a Director of the Company. During the year ended March 31, 2010, related parties provided approximately $2.6 million in new loans.

“Curtailment of cash investments and borrowing guarantees by related parties could detrimentally impact Salon’s cash availability and its ability to fund its operations.”

Warnock (a founder and former CEO of Adobe Systems, as well as an Adobe board co-chairman since 1989) has sat on the Salon corporate board since 2001 and been Salon’s chairman of the board since December 2006. As of June 1, 2010, Adobe board chairman Warnock owned 41 percent of Salon’s Series D Preferred Stock, 52.8 percent of Salon’s Series C Preferred Stock, and 18.5 percent of Salon’s Series A Preferred Stock; while his Adobe Systems firm owned 100 percent of Salon’s Series B Preferred Stock.

Besides providing “cash infusions” for the media firm whose former president and former CEO is his daughter, William Hambrecht currently sits next to Salon board member Elizabeth Hambrecht on the WR Hambrecht & Co. investment firm’s corporate board, is a member of the Motorola and AOL corporate boards, and co-founded the United Football League in December 2009. The Hambrecht family’s tax-exempt Sarah & William Hambrecht Foundation also owns stock in Salon.

Sitting next to Salon Chairman of the Board Warnock on Adobe’s corporate board between December 2000 and April 2008 was an Adobe executive named Bruce Chizen who “has served as a strategic advisor to Adobe Systems Incorporated…since November 2007,” according to the website of the Oracle computer software company—on whose corporate board former Adobe board member (and Adobe’s CEO between April 2000 and January 2005) Chizen currently sits. Coincidentally, on June 16, 2010, Bloomberg News reported the following:

“Oracle Corp., the world’s second- biggest software maker, faces a lawsuit brought by a whistleblower and the U.S. Justice Department claiming it overcharged the government by tens of millions of dollars.

“Oracle failed to disclose discounts that it gave its most favored commercial customers, according to a complaint in federal court in Alexandria , Virginia . Under General Services Administration contracts, the government must get the company’s best prices, according to the complaint.

“`Oracle knowingly and recklessly employed these techniques to offer commercial customers deeper discounts without offering those deeper discounts to the U.S. government,’ it said….

“The complaint alleges `various schemes Oracle used to give commercial customers deeper discounts than the GSA schedule provided.’

“Taxpayers `overpaid for each Oracle software product by the amount of discounts and reductions from other commercial pricing practices that should applied to each such purchase,’ according to the complaint…”


When Oracle board member Chizen was an executive at Salon board chairman Warnock’s Adobe firm, he apparently was not reluctant to eliminate the jobs of a lot of Adobe workers in order to enrich Adobe’s already wealthy top executives and stockholders. As the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, observed on June 3, 1999:

“Adobe Systems Inc. yesterday announced it will slash 250 jobs by the end of the year, the second round of layoffs to hit the San Jose graphics software maker in the past nine months.

“Adobe officials said savings from the layoffs, which will cut about 9 percent of Adobe's workforce...

“Yet in the same breath, Adobe executives said revenues for its second quarter, which ends tomorrow, should be better than expected. Adobe expects as much as $246 million in revenues for the quarter, which would touch the high end of analysts' estimates.

"`The business is doing well and we are certainly excited by that,’ said Bruce Chizen, Adobe executive vice president for worldwide products.

"`But we have an obligation to…our stockholders…to grow this company aggressively’" he said….

“Adobe dominates the market for graphics and document software used by publishers with programs like Illustrator, Photoshop and PageMaker…

“Last August, Adobe announced a restructuring that eventually pared 350 positions, or 12 percent, of its workforce…

“…Chizen said the company's goal is to save about $25 million to $30 million in administrative costs annually.”


And in 2005, Chizen and Salon board chairman Warnock’s profitable Adobe firm was also not reluctant to lay off more U.S. workers, despite generating “record profits” in 2005. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (12/16/05) noted:

“Adobe Systems Inc. posted higher fourth-quarter earnings Thursday but said it expects to cut 650 to 700 jobs as it folds recently acquired rival Macromedia Inc. into its operations…

“At Thursday's earnings announcement, Chief Executive Bruce Chizen said 2005 was `another remarkable year for Adobe.’ He added, `We grew our business 18 percent, generated record profits, and for the third consecutive year achieved record revenue for the fourth quarter and year.’…

“The 11 percent to 12 percent companywide work force reduction will…help the company…achieve its 2006 financial targets, said Murray Demo, Adobe's chief financial officer…”

Salon Chairman of the Board Warnock founded his then-privately-owned Adobe Systems firm with his current co-chairman of the Adobe corporate board, Charles Geschke, in 1982; but, ironically, “their original product called PostScript was derived from technology…developed at the University of Utah,” a publicly-funded state university, according to A History of the Personal Computer by Roy Allan. The same book also noted that “shortly after the founding of Adobe, Apple Computer made a significant financial investment in the company.”

Besides owing 19 percent of Adobe’s stock until 1989, Apple Computer was apparently, simultaneously, the biggest “customer” of the same Adobe firm that it partially owned until 1989. As the 1997 book Apple by Jim Carlton revealed:

“[Apple Computer Founder] Steve Jobs…got Apple to invest $2.5 million in a 15 percent stake in Adobe…

“By 1989, Adobe had grown to a minibehemoth selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Postscript and related programs per year…Adobe licensed PostScript for use on Apple’s Macintosh, with Adobe receiving royalty payments as well as money for the use of PostScript-related Type 1 fonts…It had mushroomed in size in tandem with Apple’s growth…

“…Apple paid Adobe royalties on PostScript sold in Laser-Writers, as well as an extra $300 for each Type 1 font needed to print characters…”

In 1986, for example, Apple accounted for 80 percent of Adobe’s sales, according to the International Directory of Company Histories.

The current Adobe CEO and president (who both sits next to Salon board chairman Warnock on Adobe’s corporate board and next to Texas Billionaire Dell on Dell Inc.’s corporate board), Shantanu Narayen, also has not been reluctant to lay-off a lot of Adobe workers. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, for example, on December 4, 2008:

“Adobe Systems in San Jose is laying off 600 employees…

“The layoffs…represent 8 percent of Adobe's global workforce…

“`The global economic crisis significantly impacted our revenue during the fourth quarter,’ Adobe's president and chief executive officer, Shantanu Narayen, said in a statement. `We have taken action to reduce our operating costs and fine-tune the focus of our resources on key strategic priorities.’


Yet the AFL-CIO website indicates that “in 2009 Shantanu Narayen received $6,663,781 in total compensation”—after the Adobe CEO and Dell Inc. board member eliminated the jobs of 8 percent of Adobe’s workers in 2008. And although Adobe’s 2009 revenues still exceeded $2.9 billion, in November 2009 the Tech Crunch website confirmed that Adobe executives were going to lay off 680 more Adobe workers--representing 9 percent of Adobe’s remaining work force--in 2010.

According to the TechAmerica Foundation’s recently-released annual Cyberstates report, Cyberstates 2010: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the High-Technology Industry, the U.S. high-tech industry lost 245,600 jobs in 2009--including 112,600 jobs eliminated by high-tech manufacturing firm executives and 20,700 jobs eliminated by software services company executives.

But at Adobe board Co-Chairman Warnock’s Salon Media Group, Salon executives still seem to earn a lot more money than the average U.S. worker. According to Salon’s December 2009 10K financial filing, for example, Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh “received cash compensation of $219,000 during fiscal year 2009” and “Richard Gingras, who became” Salon's “CEO effective May 1, 2009, earns a base salary of $230,000.” Coincidentally, in a July 10, 1999 Salon article, Salon Editor-in-Chief Walsh wrote the following in reference to U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and his U.S. left supporters:

“…The Mumia cult sickens me like little else in American politics today. For the white left, it's Black Panther worship all over again, with even less to worship….Abu-Jamal has done little but run a one-man self-promotion machine from prison.

“…Mumia's minions are content with marching in the streets and signing petitions on behalf of their cuddly convict. `He is just beautiful,’ says author Alice Walker. `He has a lot of light. He reminds me of Nelson Mandela.’ What an insult to Mandela…

“Mumia madness pushed me over the edge earlier this year, when Oakland teachers demanded to stage a teach-in on his behalf throughout the Oakland schools…. “

Besides owning both stock in Adobe Co-Chairman Warnock’s Salon Media Group and Rolling Stone magazine, Wenner’s media firm also owns both Us Weekly magazine (www.usmagazine.com) and Men’s Journal magazine (www.mensjournal.com). According to New York Magazine (3/27/00) in at the turn of the century, Wenner Media was still a private company “worth somewhere between $500 million and $750 million, with earnings in the $40 million-to-$60 million range.”

In the early 1990s, Wenner spent about four months out of the year at his three-story country manor in East Hampton, Long Island, employed servants there, and also owned both a five-story Manhattan townhouse and a Mercedes limousine, according to the book Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History by Robert Draper. And in October 2009, Wenner apparently purchased an eight-room, three-story waterfront home on 1 ½ acres in Montauk, Long Island for $11.9 million--after previously purchasing a 62.9 acre upstate estate in Tivoli, New York for $5.8 million in 2007, according to the NY Post (10/22/09).

So if you’re a U.S. music fan who’s been suffering economically during the current U.S. historical era of endless war abroad and endless economic recession at home (or been laid-off recently by corporations like Adobe, Oracle and Dell), don’t expect Rolling Stone or Salon to be that eager to promote a more equitable redistribution of the U.S. celebrity music world and U.S. high-technology computer industry’s surplus wealth in 2010.

(This article originally appeared in the Austin, Texas-based Rag Blog alternative news blog)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Did Dell & Intel Violate U.S. & Texas Anti-Trust Laws?

“A new era of antitrust regulation in Texas began with the enactment of the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act of 1983 (Texas Business & Commerce Code, ch. 15), which is based on federal antitrust law. Unlawful practices, defined as in the federal statutes, include: "every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce;" to monopolize, or to attempt or conspire to monopolize, "any part of trade or commerce;" and tying arrangements and acquisition of stock or assets that lessen competition substantially…

“The legislature…made it clear that the act would apply to Texas activities and conduct even if they also affect interstate commerce….The attorney general may sue for civil fines of up to $1,000,000 against a corporation…District attorneys may bring felony prosecutions against persons who enter into a contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce, or who monopolize, or attempt or conspire to monopolize, any part of trade or commerce. …The attorney general also was authorized to bring civil suits under federal antitrust laws.”
(from the Handbook on Texas Online website)

In recent years, Dell Inc. Chairman of the Board Michael Dell has been among the richest of the Texas Rich. Personally worth around $13.5 billion, Dell was ranked by Forbes magazine in 2010 as the 37th-wealthiest billionaire on earth.

Coincidentally, in his Nov. 3, 2009 legal complaint against Intel, which alleges that U.S. anti-trust laws were violated by Intel, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo also makes some interesting observations about how executives at Texas Billionaire Dell’s firm have allegedly been doing business in recent years. According to the New York Attorney General’s complaint:

“…Intel for years paid Dell lump-sum rebates…

“…As Dell’s lead negotiator with Intel put it in a Dec. 7, 2004 email to his Intel counterpart, explaining that Michael Dell wanted an additional $400 million rebate payment from Intel. `This is really easy…MSD [Michael Dell] wants $400 M [million] more. I’ve been trying to figure out the structure.’

“Dell’s profitability…came to depend on Intel rebate payments. This was dramatically illustrated by internal Intel emails in April 2004, arriving from Dell’s need to finalize its earnings forecast for the coming quarter. Essentially Dell asked Intel for an additional $100 million…

“Absent Intel’s anticompetitive acts, prices to consumers would have been lower…

“As AMD [Advanced Micro Devices] was beginning to threaten Intel’s dominance, Dell and Intel formed a partnership in which, in exchange for exclusivity, Intel paid Dell billions of dollars, assured it of a preferred supply of chips over its competitors, and collaborated with Dell to submit below-cost bids in strategic contests against AMD’s products…

“This arrangement lasted for at least five years, from 2001 to 2006…As Intel’s payments increased, Dell became more and more dependent on Intel for its reported profits…

“In pure dollar terms, Dell was far and away the leader in receiving Intel’s largess. For example, over the four year period from February 2002 to January 2007, it received approximately $6 billion in `rebates.’ Most of this money was furnished to Dell under programs initially titled `MOAP’ and then `MCP.’ `MOAP’ was an acronym standing for `Mother of all Programs.’ The term MOAP was later replaced in the lexicon by another acronym `MCP’ which purportedly (and misleadingly) stood for `Meet Competition Payments.’ Both generally referred both to Dell’s global percentage based rebates and to lump-sum payments made by Intel to Dell during the relevant period…

“Intel also assured Dell of `preferred’ supply…Internal Intel emails show that satisfying 100% of Dell’s demand was a top priority for Intel…

“In return for exclusivity, Dell sought terms from Intel that were more favorable than those Intel extended to its other largest and most favored customers…

“Intel did in fact grant Dell significant financial advantages…

“…Intel encouraged Dell to make below-cost bids, with Intel subsidies, when competing against AMD-based server products…

“Over the coming years, Intel and Dell fell into a pattern of negotiating the amount of Intel’s subsidies to Dell on a nearly continuous basis…In each successive round of negotiations, the groundwork was usually laid by mid-level executives at both companies tasked with conveying messages and `positioning’ to and from the other so that top executives at both firms would know what to expect when they met…

“After the meeting on July 9, 2002, [former Dell Inc. Chief Operating Officer] Kevin Rollins reported to Michael Dell that the result of the meeting was that Intel was willing to increase payments to Dell and seemed willing to do “whatever it takes” to keep Dell from purchasing from AMD.’ Rollins wrote `They got the message that we were very serious…and seem to want to do whatever it takes to persuade us…Initial word is that our MOAP should increase from $70 M this qtr to $100 mm.’…

“In September 2003, Intel’s then Chairman and CEO Craig Barrett met with Michael Dell to address the basic relationship between the companies. He reported back to his Intel colleagues that he and Michael Dell `shook hands on the deal. MD [Michael Dell] agreed to quarterly mtgs…to make sure we are aligned in our strategic issues and coordinated in spending the monies. He had no issue with the win/win nature of the agreement. I clearly committed our long range support regardless of competition…Nice work you guys!’…

“An internal Dell email reported that under the new arrangement, Intel was making a $40 million lump sum payment in order to maintain Dell’s status as an Intel-only CPU [Central Processing Unit] buyer…

“…A Dell executive wrote on January 19, 2004: `This is very scary…HP (and IBM) can bracket our server business by using AMD to beat us on price…’ Another Dell executive agreed, writing that Intel had `better be down here sucking up with a bag-o-money.’…

“Top Dell and Intel executives met and Intel again agreed on substantial increases in rebate levels; Dell would now receive a `base’ rebate of 11% of its processor purchases from Intel, up form 7%, for not switching to AMD. In addition, they also agreed on another 3% in `incremental’ or `variable’ rebates, for a total of up to 14%. Dell’s lead negotiator estimated that the `new MCP’ would be worth $400 million to Dell over the twelve month period from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Indeed, around that time, Intel’s payments to Dell started to reach figures of $100 million per quarter or more.

“…Dell’s quarterly profit margins had become dependent on Intel’s payments. A comparison of Dell’s reported net income with the rebates it received from Intel for some quarterly periods show that, by 2004, the rebate payments amounted to more than a third of Dell’s earnings. For the 3 month period between August and October of 2004, Dell received approximately $304 million in rebates from Intel and reported income of $846 million, so that the rebates amounted to 36% of net income. Thereafter, the proportion of rebates to net income rose steeply. In 2006, Dell received approximately $1.9 billion in rebates from Intel, and in two quarterly periods of that year, rebate payments exceeded reported net income. From February to April of 2006, rebates ($805 million) amounted to 104% of net income. The following 3 months, between May and July of 2006, the proportion was even higher, 116% ($554 million of rebates and $480 million in net income).

“In one instance, Dell asked Intel to retroactively increase the size of its payment to stabilize Dell’s forecasted earnings. In several early Sunday morning emails in April 2004, Intel’s Austin-based Dell lead negotiator alerted top Intel executives to an urgent Dell request regarding `our meet comp response for Dell considering new data from msd [Michael Dell] on Friday.’ Dell needed to finalize its margin forecast for the coming quarter, but needed `direction’ from Intel: `dell is finalizing their call the qtr today. They need direction from us. They are asking for $100 upside to old MC deal…’…

“Later the same day, another Intel executive clarified Dell’s request in an email directed to [current Intel Chairman of the Board] Paul Otellini who was Intel’s chief operating officer at the time. He informed Otellini that Dell had assumed that its new agreement with Intel for increased subsidies would be retroactive to the beginning of the current fiscal year in February…

“In an April 8 email to Michael Dell and Kevin Rollins, Dell’s lead negotiator with Intel described the outcome of Dell’s request to Intel as follows: `…We got what we needed to meet expectations ($60M) in the form of increased MCP and programs…I think we got all we could in one 30 day period.’

“As this episode shows, Intel’s payments to Dell did not benefit consumers through better products…or lower prices…

“By September 2004, Dell’s tone was becoming strident…

“On December 6, 2006, Intel’s Otellini emailed Intel’s Dell account representative about his concern that Dell would defect to AMD…The next day, the Intel executive promptly forwarded this email on to Dell’s lead negotiator with a plea for help in securing `incremental support’ for Dell…

“…Dell’s lead negotiator emailed back: `This is really easy. MSD [Michael Dell] wants $400 M more. I’ve been trying to figure out the structure…’

“…What the payment bought was Dell’s commitment to `maintain’ exclusivity…

“In fact, Intel’s payments to Dell shot upward, roughly doubling in less than one year…

“…Intel subsidized below-cost bids by Dell when it was bidding against competitors selling AMD-based computers and servers to large businesses or other `enterprise’ customers…

“…Over a period of approximately two years, from approximately mid-2004 to mid-2006, the reports show tens of thousands of bids…

“In the summer of 2005, Intel and Dell held another round or rebate negotiations…

“…Intel increased its payments to Dell to an unprecedented level. According to figures provided by Dell, Intel’s payments ($471 million) amounted to 78% of Dell’s reported net income ($606 million) for the period August to October of 2005.

“…In May [2006], Intel sought a deal with Dell…Under that deal, Intel was to make further payments to Dell in return for continued exclusivity outside the multi-processor server segment. Dell’s Rollins wrote in a June 1, 2006 email that he was trying to get $250 million still from Intel…

“Despite this agreement, by September of 2006, Dell…announced further AMD products…

“…For February, March and April 2006, Intel had paid Dell approximately $800 million in rebates…”

Besides allegedly accepting around $6 billion in secret rebates from Intel between 2002 and 2007 (in apparent violation of U.S. and Texas anti-trust and anti-monopolization laws), Texas Billionaire Dell’s firm also was the target of a lawsuit by New York Attorney General a few years ago, on charges of having violated New York State’s consumer protection laws. As a September 15, 2009 press release of the Office of New York’s Attorney General noted:

“Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Dell and its subsidiary, Dell Financial Services (DFS), have agreed to pay the Attorney General’s Office $4 million in restitution, penalties and costs to resolve charges of fraudulent and deceptive business practices that scammed consumers across New York State.

“The settlement follows a decision of the New York Supreme Court, Albany County , which sustained Attorney General Cuomo’s claims that Dell had engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business practices, and abusive debt collection practices. The court’s decision came as a result of the original lawsuit filed by Cuomo’s Office, which charged that Dell engaged in bait and switch advertising with respect to its `no interest’ financing promotions, misled consumers to believe they had qualified for promotional financing, failed to adequately disclose the terms of its `next day’ service contracts and failed to provide consumers with warranty service and promised rebates…

“According to the Court’s decision upholding the Attorney General’s lawsuit, Dell deprived consumers of the technical support to which they were entitled under their warranty or service contract by: (1) repeatedly failing to provide timely on site repair to consumers who purchased service contracts promising “on site” and expedited service; (2) pressuring consumers, including those who purchased service contracts promising “on site” repair, to remove the external cover of their computer and remove, reinstall, and manipulate hardware components; and (3) discouraging consumers from seeking technical support: those who called Dell’s toll free number were subjected to long wait times, repeated transfers, and frequent disconnections.

“The court concluded that Dell lured consumers to purchase its products with advertisements that offered attractive `no interest’ and/or `no payment’ financing promotions. In practice, however, the vast majority of consumers, even those with very good credit scores, were denied these deals. In a classic `bait and switch’ scheme, DFS instead offered consumers financing at high interest rates, which often exceeded 20 percent. Dell and DFS frequently failed to clearly inform these consumers that they had not qualified for the promotional terms, leaving many to unwittingly finance their purchase at high interest rates.

“The decision also held that DFS incorrectly billed consumers on cancelled orders, returned merchandise, or accounts they did not authorize Dell to open, and then continually harassed these consumers with illegal billing and collection activity. Although many consumers repeatedly contacted Dell and/or DFS to advise them of the errors, DFS did not suspend its collection activity and Dell failed to expeditiously credit consumers’ accounts, even after assuring consumers it would do so. As a result, many consumers have been subjected to harassing collection calls for months on end and have had their credit ratings harmed.”


In addition to allegedly accepting $6 billion in secret rebates from Intel (whose board of directors currently includes Harvard Business School Professor David Yoffie, University of California-Berkeley Vice-Chancellor Frank Yeary, Stanford University Professor James Plummer, Dartmouth College Trustee John Donahoe, former Yahoo President Susan Decker, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, and members of the Berkshire Hathaway, Estee Lauder, American Express, McKesson corporate boards), Dell also accepted $853 million worth of U.S. War Machine contracts in 2009, making it the 51th-largest recipient of juicy Pentagon contracts these days.

One reason neither NBC News, MSNBC, CNN or Time magazine might not be that eager to broadcast or print many exposes about either Dell’s alleged acceptance of secret rebates from Intel or its violations of U.S. consumer protection laws might be because former U.S. Senator and current Dell Inc. board member Sam Nunn also sits on the board of GE-- the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC (in addition to also sitting on Chevron/Unocal’s corporate board); and a recent Dell Inc. board member named Michael Miles sits on the board of Time-Warner—the parent company of CNN and Time magazine. Yet in recent months the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission {S.E.C.] has also apparently begun to also look into the legality of the relationship between Texas Billionaire Dell’s firm and Intel. As the New York Times (6/10/10) recently observed, “the disclosure that the S.E.C. has been investigating aspects of the relationship between the two companies is new, as is its focus on Mr. Dell;” and “a person briefed on the case, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential, said that the S.E.C.’s allegations related to how Dell accounted for payments and rebates that it had received from Intel.”

As long ago as 1998, Current Biography noted that Michael Dell owned “about 16 percent of his company’s stock” and was “thus a multibillionaire and the richest man in Texas .” So it’s not surprising that despite Dell Inc.’s alleged acceptance of rebates from Intel in apparent violation of U.S. anti-trust laws, many U.S. politicians have apparently been accepting a lot of money in campaign contributions from Texas Billionaire Dell during the last 16 years. Since 1994, for example, U.S. politicians have accepted nearly $900,000 in campaign contributions from Michael Dell( and $330,000 in campaign contributions from his wife, Susan), according to the Center for Responsive Politics website.

So it’s not likely that many U.S. politicians are going to ask the Texas Attorney General to look into whether or not Dell Inc.’s alleged acceptance of about $6 billion in secret rebates from Intel between 2002 and 2007 may have apparently violated state laws that prohibit white collar crimes from being committed in Texas.

(This article originally appeared in the Austin, Texas-based Rag Blog alternative news blog)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

20th Anniversary of U.S. Government's Covert War Against Iraq

This August marks the twentieth anniversary of the Republican Bush I White House’s August 1990 decision to send U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and covertly start working for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime in Iraq, under the pretext of “liberating Kuwait.” Yet, according to the 2010 World Almanac, as recently as late 2009, Kuwait was still “ruled by the Sabah dynasty” and “nearly half the population is non-Kuwaiti…and cannot vote.”

Coincidentally, when the Iraqi troops of the now-executed Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait on August 2, 1990, a former member of the corporate board of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation’s Santa Fe International U.S. subsidiary—Brent Scowcroft—just happened to be the Bush I White House’s National Security Affairs Advisor. And, according to a Feb. 2, 1991 New York Times article, it was the presentation of Scowcroft—who was also the former vice-chairman of former Nixon Administration Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s Kissinger Associates influence-peddling firm—at a National Security Council meeting on August 3, 1990 “that made clear what the stakes were, crystallized people’s thinking and galvanized support for a strong response” to the Iraqi military occupation of Kuwait.

After learning that Iraq troops had entered Kuwait, Scowcroft “returned to the White House and informed Bush [I],” according to the 1991 book The Commanders by Bob Woodward. Scowcroft then “called an emergency meeting of the deputies committee by securing video links and chaired it himself from the Situation Room.”

At the emergency meeting, according to The Commanders, Scowcroft “pressed for more action,” proposed that a squadron of 24 Air Force F-15 fighters be offered to Saudi Arabia immediately and “called a National Security Council [NSC] meeting for first thing in the morning.” The former board member of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation’s Santa Fe International subsidiary then went to sleep in his White House office at 4 a.m., awoke 45 minutes later and “by 5 a.m. was at Bush [I]’s bedroom door” with an executive order to be signed that freezed all of Kuwait’s foreign assets—except for the overseas special interests of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation [KPC]. This executive order insured that little of the Al-Sabah Dynasty’s foreign wealth would end up in the hands of the Iraqi government while Kuwait was occupied; and that the Al-Sabah Dynasty’s KPC would be able to continue its normal commercial operations outside of Kuwait.

After the initial Bush [I] White House National Security Council meeting of Thursday, Aug. 2, 1990 was held, according to The Commanders, “Scowcroft was alarmed” because no immediate military response was agreed upon. A second NSC meeting was therefore held in the White House the following morning, on Friday, Aug. 3. And at this second NSC meeting, according to The Commanders, the following happened:

“Scowcroft stated that there had to be two tracks. First, he believed the United States had to be willing to use force. Second, he said that Saddam had to be toppled. That had to be done covertly through the CIA, and be unclear to the world.”

Responding immediately to this policy recommendation of the former Kissinger Associates vice-chairman,“Bush [I] ordered the CIA to begin planning for a covert operation that would destabilize the regime and, he hoped, remove Saddam from power,” according to The Commanders.

After Scowcroft’s proposal to respond to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait by sending a few hundred thousand Pentagon troops to Saudi Arabia had been implemented in August and September of 1990, the Emir of Kuwait then visited Bush I in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, Sept. 28, 1990. And, according to The Commanders author Bob Woodward, “Scowcroft joined them for the hour long meeting” and “though the Emir did not directly ask for military intervention to liberate his country, Scowcroft could see that that was his subliminal message.”

Perhaps one reason why Scowcroft was able to detect the Emir of Kuwait’s “subliminal message” that the U.S. military should be used to put the Al-Sabah royal dynasty back in power in Kuwait, was that Scowcroft had apparently received payments from Santa Fe International in 1984, 1985 and 1986 for sitting on its corporate board--after the Al-Sabah Dynasty’s KPC had purchased Santa Fe International in 1981 for $2.5 billion?

According to The Commanders, by Fall 1990 “Scowcroft had become the First Companion and all-purpose playmate to the President on golf, fishing and weekend outings;” and by early October 1990 “Scowcroft told [then-Secretary of Defense] Cheney that Bush [I] wanted a briefing right away on what an offensive against Saddam’s forces in Kuwait might look like.”

On Oct. 11, 1990, the Pentagon plans to launch a military offensive against Iraq were given to Bush [I]. And, at a 3:30 afternoon meeting on Oct. 29, 1990, Bush [I] met with [then-Secretary of State James] Baker, Cheney, Scowcroft and [then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin] Powell in the White House Situation Room where, according to The Commanders, “Bush [I] and Scowcroft seemed primed to go ahead with the development of the offensive option.”

The Commanders also indicated that by Dec. 17, 1990 Scowcroft was eager to begin the bombing blitz of Iraq, despite all the subsequent pre-January 16, 1991 Bush [I] Administration talk of how eager it was to have its then-Secretary of State Baker talk face-to-face with the Iraqi foreign minister, in order to avert a war:

“It was obvious to [then-Congressional Representative] Aspin that Scowcroft had lost his patience with diplomacy…Saddam was jerking everyone around. There was no reason to deal with him, Scowcroft said. War would take less time…Scowcroft said. He was now convinced that war would be a two-to-three week solution…”

That same week in December 1990, Scowcroft told Saudi Arabia’s then-Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, that “Basically the President had made up his mind” and that the diplomatic efforts to avoid war undertaken by the Bush [I] Administration were “all exercises.”

Nearly a month later, on Jan. 16, 1991, the bombing of Iraq was begun by the U.S. government and, according to The Commanders, about 20 Tomahawk missiles “were preprogrammed to hit Saddam’s presidential palace, the main telephone exchange and Baghdad’s electrical power-generating station”—in the name of “liberating Kuwait.” And around 100,000 people in Iraq were apparently killed by the U.S. War Machine during the first few months of its 20-year war against Iraq in early 1991. In addition, at least 849 U.S. troops were either killed or wounded during the first few months of Gulf War I.

Subsequently, during the next ten years more than 9,600 of the U.S. soldiers involved in the first Gulf War, who “were often required to enter radioactive battlefields unprotected and were never warned of the dangers of Depleted Uranium” weapons, reportedly also died, according to Project Censored’s Censored 2004 book. Another 1.5 million people in Iraq , more than half of them children under the age of five, also died during the next ten years as a result of the economic sanctions that the U.S. government imposed on people in Iraq, as part of its continuing economic warfare against Iraq.

Meanwhile, in “liberated” Kuwait, after the Al-Sabah Dynasty was restored to power there, its government executed or tortured hundreds of its political opponents and began to violate the human rights of Palestinians living in Kuwait in the early 1990s. And in 1997, the Al-Sabah Dynasty’s KPC earned an additional $997.5 million by selling 35 million shares of the common stock of its Santa Fe International subsidiary on the global stock markets, while still keeping a controlling 69 percent of all Santa Fe International common stock in KPC hands.

Then, in 2000, the KPC’s wholly-owned SFIC Holdings (Cayman) Inc. sold another 30 million shares of its Santa Fe International common stock for big money, reducing KPC’s holdings of Santa Fe International’s stock to 39 percent. Yet that same year KPC was still given $15.9 billion by the United Nations for alleged “damages” related to the 1990 Iraq ’s military occupation of Kuwait . And the following year, KPC’s Santa Fe International subsidiary agreed in September 2001 to merge, in a $3 billion stock swap, with Global Marine to create the world’s second-largest offshore drilling contractor, GlobalSantaFe-- with the KPC owning 18 percent of GlobalSantaFe’s stock in early 2002.

But after GlobalSantaFe repurchased 43.5 million shares of the GlobalSantaFe stock owned by KPC’s SFIC Holdings subsidiary for $799.5 million in 2005, the percentage of GlobalSantaFe stock owned by the Al-Sabah Dynasty’s KPC was reduced to around 8 percent. And two years later, KPC’s GlobalSantaFe (by another merger) became part of the Transocean offshore drilling contractor that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig which BP leased—which has recently created a lot of environmental destruction after it exploded, killed some oil industry workers and began spilling a lot of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, in March 2003, the neo-con Republican Bush II Administration (with the support of AIPAC and other pro-Israeli government lobbying organizations in the United States) escalated the U.S. government’s war against people in Iraq; and since the U.S. War Machine began bombing and occupying Iraq again in a big way in March 2003, about 1 million more Iraqis have apparently been killed, along with at least 4,732 more U.S. troops--including at least 413 more U.S. soldiers from Texas killed in Iraq since March 2003. In addition, at least 31,882 more U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq since March 2003—including at least 3,059 more U.S. soldiers from Texas wounded in Iraq since March 2003.

Yet 20 years after Scowcroft apparently recommended that the CIA be authorized to begin planning for a covert operation, “which would be unclear to the world,” that would destabilize the Baath regime in Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power--in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter—as part of the U.S. government’s effort to “liberate Kuwait,” full democratic rights are apparently still not possessed by most people in Kuwait in 2010. Amnesty USA’s “2010 Annual Report For Kuwait,” for example, observed that “formal political parties remained banned” and “critics of the government and ruling family were harassed” in Kuwait in 2009. And as Priyanka Motaparthy of Human Rights Watch noted in a recent July 21, 2010 Foreign Policy Focus article:

“…Last month, prosecutors began the trial of Mohammad al-Jasim, a journalist accused of endangering national security. Jasim, trained as a lawyer, is one of the government's most vocal critics and has faced more than 20 separate charges for libel and slander of government officials based on his writings and public statements…..

"Based on the government's most recent charges, which elevate charges to national security offenses, Jasim spent 49 days in pretrial detention, including a brief stay in a military hospital following a weeklong hunger strike, before he was released on bail. At his trial, which resumes in September, he will be forced to defend himself from charges that he was "instigating to overthrow the regime" and attempting to "dismantle the foundations of Kuwaiti society."

“These accusations initially stemmed from 32 entries on his well-known Arabic-language blog Mizan, where Jasim has lambasted the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the government and called for Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah to follow through on his promises of democratic reform….Following calls for his release in the local media and demonstrations by activists, the government issued a gag order prohibiting the press from covering his trial. Although Jasim has since been released from detention on bail, the ban on media coverage continues.

“…While members of parliament and civil society groups are pushing for further change, Kuwait's emir and key members of his family still hold the power to block any reforms.

“Jasim's prosecution is part of a steady encroachment over the past year on Kuwaitis' freedom of expression, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to criticize public officials' performance. In October 2009, prosecutors charged two members of parliament with slander -- the first for criticizing the prime minister, a member of the ruling family, and the second for accusing the health minister of corruption. Each was convicted and fined more than $10,000….

“In March, the government arrested and deported virtually overnight more than 30 Egyptian nationals who supported former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed El-Baradei, an advocate of political reform in Egypt and possible presidential candidate. The Egyptians, many of whom were longtime residents in Kuwait, had simply organized a meeting to discuss his campaign….

“Khalid al-Fadhala, the head of Kuwait's National Democratic Alliance…was also recently prosecuted for criminal libel and slander of the country's prime minister based on comments he made during a public rally accusing the prime minister of money laundering….

“… Kuwait's activists and media remain under threat. When it comes to freedom of the press, and its approach to human rights more broadly, too many Kuwaiti decision-makers focus on superficial attempts to polish their country's reputation abroad, while ignoring vital legal protections. When challenged, the government falls back on arguments of state sovereignty, essentially ordering international actors to mind their own business…

“But the government remains skittish and highly sensitive to criticism, whether from foreign governments, international actors, or local activists and writers. As Jasim's case demonstrates, these individuals have borne the brunt of its response, including aggressive criminal prosecutions for slander and defamation directed at those who comment on the work of government officials, crackdowns on public gatherings, and gag orders on the local media….”

Scowcroft, meanwhile, has, in recent years, been a “principal member”/president of The Scowcroft Group influence-peddling firm, “whose principals and network of consultants reach into government and businesses worldwide;” and whose clients include “industry leaders in the telecommunications, insurance, aeronautics, energy, and financial products sectors; foreign direct investors in the electronics, utilities, energy and food industries; and investors in the fixed income, equities, and commodities markets around world,” according to The Scowcroft Group’s website. And, coincidentally, another “principal member” in Scowcroft’s firm is former CIA Deputy Director for Operations James L. Pavitt, who “managed more than one-third of the CIA’s globally deployed personnel and nearly half of the CIA’s multi-billion-dollar budget,” “spent many years abroad as a member of the Clandestine Service,” “served as Senior Intelligence Advisor to President George H.W. Bush as a member of the National Security Council team from 1990 to 1993,” and “as head of America’s Clandestine Services…led the CIA’s operational response to…September 11, 2001,” according to The Scowcroft Group’s website.

(This article originally appeared in the Austin, Texas-based Rag Blog alternative news blog)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A People's History of Afghanistan--Conclusion: 2001-2010

By November 13, 2001, the U.S. government and NATO-backed Northern Alliance coalition of right-wing Mujahideen groups had marched into Kabul and taken control of Kabul from the Taliban’s Afghan government. But apparently the U.S. government-supported Northern Alliance militias also committed a number of war crimes in Afghanistan in late 2001. As Guilles Dorronsoro’s Revolution Unending recalled:

“Enemy military losses…went unrecorded. However, a number of war crimes were committed by allies of the United States . For example, on 25 November hundreds of Taliban prisoners were killed in the prison at Mazar-i-Sharif, after a revolt in which a CIA agent who had been interrogating prisoners was killed. Apparently many prisoners were summarily executed once they had been recaptured. The most serious incident concerned the deaths of Taliban and foreign prisoners who were suffocated inside containers. According to a meticulous inquiry, around 3,000 Taliban prisoners were massacred by Northern Alliance forces, an atrocity which by some accounts was perpetrated in the presence of American soldiers. Despite the gravity of these reports, and the known locations of communal graves, the UN declined to carry out an inquiry in order not to embarrass the Afghan and U.S. government…”

After the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul, an agreement to eventually begin construction of the proposed Unocal [which became a subsidiary in 2005 of a company-- Chevron Texaco--on whose corporate board former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat before joining the Bush II Administration) pipeline project in Afghanistan was soon reached. A former Unocal consultant, Zhalamy Khalizad, was named as the Bush II Administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan; and a former Unocal consultant, Hamid Karzai, was soon brought back to Afghanistan by the Bush II Administration to be the new Afghan president in Kabul. As Revolution Unending observed, “his exile in the United States …enabled Karzai to gain the backing of the U.S. government and therefore achieve his present position.” According to the same book, Karzai “is the son of a…Pashtun family from Kandahar ” and is “related to the royal family” of Afghanistan, whose members controlled the government of Afghanistan until the 1970s. But outside of Kabul, “local warlords and militia commanders…were able to take de facto control of their respective areas,” and “Karzai’s tolerance of the warlords has been seen by Afghans in general as a weakness,” according to Angelo Rasanayagam’s Afghanistan: A Modern History.

Since 30 to 50 percent of the recruits in the Karzai regime’s new Afghan Army of 6,000 troops deserted in 2003, in 2004 the Pentagon still had to spend $11 billion a year on U.S. military operations in Afghanistan in 2004 in order to prop up the Karzai regime. As Afghanistan: A Modern History observed:

“…The balance of armed forces was weighted heavily on the side of the warlord militias, variously estimated at between 60,000 full time fighters to over 100,000, if one includes `part-timers’ from the swollen ranks of the unemployed…

“As before, warlords have been able to expand their financial base by imposing customs duties and other taxes on their own account. Some have benefited substantially from smuggling and drug trafficking…The opium crop earned Afghan farmers and traffickers some $2.3 billion, or around 50 percent of the gross domestic product…The crop in Afghanistan accounted for over 75 percent of the world’s illicitly grown opium in 2003…The New York-based Human Rights Watch has produced detailed documentation of the abuses committed with impunity by militia leaders and their followers…”

The U.S. soldiers first sent to occupy Afghanistan in late 2001 (who now number between 70,000 and 100,000) were apparently seen by many people in Afghanistan as yet another set of the foreign invaders that have attempted to manipulate Afghanistan’s internal affairs since the 19th-century. As Revolution Unending observed in 2005:

“The U.S. forces are unwelcome, especially in the Pashtun areas, where the civilians have complained of harassment. Regularly and predictably, military operations result in civilian casualties…For instance, 42 Afghans died and 181 were wounded on the night of June 30-July 1 2002 when four villages near Kabraki in the province of Uruzgan were bombed during a marriage ceremony…The treatment of prisoners of war also does not measure up to international standards. In a communique on January 28, 2003 the World Organization Against Torture stated that Taliban detained by the Americans had been subjected to torture in CIA interrogation centers, particularly at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and on the island of Diego Garcia …”

Around 1,025 U.S. soldiers have been killed and around 5,275 have been wounded in Afghanistan since October 2001 (along with around 500 troops killed from other nations whose governments agreed to send troops to fight with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] —which, besides its 70,000 to 100,000 U.S. soldiers, now includes 38,000 troops from other nations). But the number of Afghan civilian casualties produced by the Pentagon’s war in Afghanistan since October 2001 has been far greater. As James Lucas’s “America’s Nation-Destroying Mission in Afghanistan” article, for example, noted, “since the U.S. started its bombing in 2001 an estimated 7,309 Afghan civilians have been killed by U.S.-led forces as of June 20, 2008, according to an estimate made by University of New Hampshire Professor Mark Herold.”

In his “ America ’s Nation-Destroying Mission in Afghanistan ” article, Lucas also summarized what life is apparently like for the people of Afghanistan in 2010:

“Today the ordinary Afghan is caught between three forces: the U.S., the Taliban, and the puppet government composed of former members of the Mujahideen whom many Afghans would like to have tried as war criminals. Also, the Upper House of Parliament is not a democratic institution, its members being appointed by the President… Up to 60% of the deputies in the Lower House are directly or indirectly connected to current and past human rights abuses.

“Under the newly established government in 2001, women were allowed to once again work and go to school. Nevertheless, the abuse of women continues, since the government is too weak to enforce many of the laws, especially in the rural areas.

"According to Human Rights Watch, `The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands. It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers. It requires women to get permission from their husbands to work. It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying `blood money’ to a girl who was injured when he raped her.’…

“…About one in ten Afghans is disabled, mostly due to the wars and landmines. Their life expectancy is about 43 years…

“Although more than 3.7 million Afghan refugees have returned to their homes in the past six years, several million still live in Pakistan and Iran. About 132,000 people are internally displaced as a result of drought, violence and instability. Furthermore, there are reportedly about 400,000 orphans in Afghanistan.

“ Afghanistan suffers from an unemployment rate of 40 percent and most of those who have jobs earn only meager wages. Many youth joined the Mujahideen or Taliban in order to receive some food, shelter and income. The average educational level of Afghans is 1.7 years of schooling, which severely limits their job opportunities. As many as 18 million Afghans still live on less than $2 a day.

“…On their land there are still about 10 million mines which cause loss of life and limbs and reduces the amount of land available for farming….”

But the Turkmenistan government is apparently still “interested in moving forward with a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan,” according to a Feb. 15, 2010 UPI article. The same article noted that the proposed 1,044-mile Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India [TAPI] pipeline “is seen as a rival to a long-delayed natural gas pipeline from the Iranian South Pars gas field” and “TAPI is favored by Western powers over the South Pars option because of diplomatic concerns with dealing with Iran.” And since much of the $230 billion that the U.S. War Machine has spent on the endless war in Afghanistan between October 2001 and the end of 2009 has gone to private war contractors, the recipients of the Pentagon’s lucrative war contracts have also apparently profited much more from the 21st-century historical situation in Afghanistan than have the people of Afghanistan.

So, not surprisingly, the Pentagon is still apparently planning to use some of the additional 30,000 U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan in 2010 in a planned military offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar this June 2010 that it has nicknamed “Operation Omid.”

The word “omid” means “hope” in the Dari language of Afghanistan. Yet—as this people’s history of Afghanistan indicates—people in Afghanistan are not likely to hopefully accept the endless presence in their country of still more foreign troops. Whether they come from the UK, from India, from Pakistan, from Saudi Arabia, from Russia, from the United States, from Canada, from NATO or from the ISAF. So it’s not necessarily historically inevitable that a Taliban guerrilla force of about 25,000 Afghan fighters will be easily defeated militarily by the Obama Administration’s troops in 2010, if the U.S. troops continue to be seen as foreign invaders by most people in Afghanistan in 2010. As an Afghan farmer in Kandahar named Abdul Salaam recently told the Global Post (April 19, 2010): “You cannot bring peace through war.”

(end of series)

This article originally appeared in the Austin, Texas-based Rag Blog alternative news blog.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A People's History of Afghanistan--Part 14: 1998-2001

Ironically, despite Unocal and the Democratic Clinton Administration’s tacit support for a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’s government prior to 1996, Taliban Leader “Mullah Omar’s government never had any intention of allowing U.S. firms to construct an oil pipeline,” according to Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie’s Forbidden Truth. So after Unocal’s pipeline deal with the Taliban government in Afghanistan fell through, the Administration of Secretary of State Clinton’s husband used the August 7, 1998 bombings—apparently by armed right-wing Islamic fundamentalist groups--of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (which killed over 200 people) as its pretext to order the U.S. War Machine’s initial bombing of Afghanistan on August 20, 1998.

From Pentagon warships in the Indian Ocean, 67 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched which struck camps in Khost and killed 20 people in Afghanistan. The Clinton Administration then froze all U.S. assets of the Afghan government and banned all commercial and financial dealings with the Afghan government on July 6, 1999. By October 15, 1999, the Clinton Administration had also succeeded in getting the UN Security Council to pass a resolution (1267) which imposed economic sanctions on Afghanistan. And shortly before it was replaced by the Republican Bush II Administration, the Clinton Administration also was able to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution (1393) on December 19, 2000 which froze all foreign assets of the Afghan government. Yet in 2000, the Taliban regime still controlled 85 percent of Afghanistan and the U.S. government-backed Northern Alliance of Mujahideen groups only controlled 15 percent of Afghanistan’s territory.

So soon after the January 2001 presidential inauguration of George W. Bush, negotiations between the Republican Bush II Administration and representatives of the Taliban regime’s Afghan government about reviving the proposed pipeline project in Afghanistan were apparently held between February and April 2001. And after an aide to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar met with the CIA in Washington , D.C. in March 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced in April 2001 that the Bush II Administration was going to give $43 million in aid to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, according to the November 19, 2001 issue of the Irish Times.

But when Taliban regime negotiators apparently refused to agree to the Bush II Administration’s proposals related to the pipeline project and the establishing of a new coalition government in Afghanistan at a July 2001 meeting in Berlin, a U.S. government representative at the meeting apparently “evoked the option of a military operation against Afghanistan,” according to Forbidden Truth.

What happened on September 11, 2001 in Downtown Manhattan and at the Pentagon was then used as a pretext by the Bush II Administration (and its Blair Administration military ally in the UK ) to launch an October 7, 2001 aerial attack on all cities in Afghanistan--which killed 400 Afghan civilians during the first week of Pentagon bombing alone. As Michael Parenti recalled in a December 2008 article, “in sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia;” and “… 9/11…provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.”

Yet as Chris Johnson and Jolyon Leslie’s Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace observed, “there was no explicit agreement under international law for the USA to go to war,” in a now overt and direct way, against the people of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

But after the September 11, 2001 events, the Bush II Administration claimed it was morally justified for the U.S. War Machine to start bombing Afghanistan in October 2001 because Osama Bin Laden was “responsible” for what happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States. Yet as Guilles Dorronsoro’s Revolution Unending noted, “Bin Laden’s role in Afghan politics was minimal” in 2001.

Ironically, Osama Bin Laden (a multi-millionaire son of an extremely wealthy Saudi Arabian construction contractor) had apparently previously begun working in partnership with the CIA in Afghanistan in 1979—-the same year that the Democratic Carter Administration signed an official order that authorized its CIA to work for regime change in Afghanistan (by providing covert aid to the right-wing Afghan Islamic guerrilla fighters who were being trained by the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence [ISI] agency). After leaving Saudi Arabia and joining the Afghan Mujahideen guerrillas in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1979, Bin Laden, for example, apparently helped the CIA and the ISI organize the Mujahideen guerrillas to wage the CIA’s 1980s proxy war in Afghanistan between 1980 and 1986. And in 1988, Bin Laden apparently created his al-Qaeda group--which recruited foreign fighters and raised money for the anti-feminist Mujahideen guerrilla groups in Afghanistan —before he left Afghanistan in 1989. As Angelo Rasanayagam’s Afghanistan: A Modern History observed, “according to Milt Bearden, the CIA station chief in Pakistan in 1986 to 1989, Bin Laden and other fund-raisers for the Afghan jihad were bringing in between 20 and 25 million dollars a month from the Saudis and Gulf Arabs to underwrite the war” against the Soviet military-supported Afghan government.

During the same period when Unocal, the CIA and the Clinton Administration were apparently supporting the Taliban group’s campaign to gain control of the Afghan government in the summer of 1996, Bin Laden also “reportedly contributed 3 million dollars to the Taliban war chest,” according to Forbidden Truth. But although “the CIA gave Osama free rein in Afghanistan, as did Pakistani intelligence generally,” the “CIA seems to have…turned against its former partner Bin Laden in 1995 and 1996,” according to John Cooley’s Unholy Wars. Coincidentally, between 1982 and 1997, the Bush II Administration’s Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in 2001, Christine Rocca, had also “worked with the CIA as an agent reporting to the director of Intelligence Operations;” and “in this capacity, for several years she coordinated relations between the CIA and the Islamic guerrillas, and supervised some of the deliveries of Stinger missiles to the Mujahideen fighters,” according to Forbidden Truth.

Prior to the Bush II Administration’s illegal attack on Afghanistan in October 2001, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban’s Afghan government proposed that Bin Laden just be deported from Afghanistan to another Muslim country and just be placed under surveillance, since—as CNN reported on September 21, 2001--“Bin Laden…denied he had anything to do with the attacks, and Taliban officials repeatedly said he could not have been involved in the attacks;” and the Bush II Administration failed to provide any international court with concrete evidence that Bin Laden had actually been “responsible” for what happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States. In addition, even the BBC News reported on October 5, 2001 that there was “no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks.”

Yet “the American government preferred to give the Taliban an ultimatum rather than negotiate, hence the refusal to provide any kind of proof of Bin Laden’s implication” in the September 11, 2001 events, according to Revolution Unending.

When the Taliban’s Afghan government refused (as anticipated) to accept the Bush II Administration’s illegal ultimatum to “hand over Bin Laden” (or the U.S. War Machine would attack Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban regime), the Pentagon (and its UK military junior partner) then began its “Operation Enduring Freedom” military campaign in Afghanistan (which was subsequently joined by soldiers from the military forces of other members of NATO)--that people in Afghanistan are still having to endure over 8 years later. And according to the Afganistan: The Mirage of Peace book:

By the end of October 2001…there was a switch in strategy to carpet bombing of frontlines…Sub-atomic bombs were dropped on Taliban frontlines in the Shamal plains north of Kabul…In addition, a quarter of a million deadly bomblets were scattered from the cluster bombs that the USA dropped throughout the country…”


The Bush II Administration then sent large numbers of U.S. ground troops to invade Afghanistan in late November 2001; and by the end of December 2001, the Pentagon had dropped over 12,000 bombs on Afghanistan. Although the U.S. army refused “in principle to estimate” the number of Afghan civilian casualties created by the direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan by the end of 2001, it “probably amounted to several thousand,” according to Revolution Unending.

(end of part 14. To be followed by “A People’s History of Afghanistan—Conclusion: 2001-2010)

This article originally appeared in the Austin, Texas-based Rag Blog alternative news blog.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Black Female Worker Jobless Rate Jumps To 12.9 Percent Under Obama

Between June and July 2010, the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black female workers over 20 years-of-age in the United States jumped from 11.8 to 12.9 percent under the Democratic Obama Administration; while the unemployment rate for all Black workers over 16-years-of-age increased from 15.4 to 15.6 percent, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The official unemployment rate for Black male workers over 20 years-of-age was also still 16.7 percent in July 2010; while the jobless rate for Black youths between 16 and 19-years-of-age increased from 39.9 to 40.6 percent between June and July 2010.

The number of Black workers who have been able to find jobs in the United States also dropped by 117,000 between June and July 2010, although the number of Black workers officially counted as unemployed increased by only 23,000—to 2,755,000-- during this same period.

Between June and July 2010, the “not seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Asian-American workers jumped from 7.7 to 8.2 percent; while the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Latino or Hispanic workers in the United States was still 12.1 percent and the official “seasonally adjusted” rate for white male workers over 20-years-of-age was still 8.8 percent in July 2010. The “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latino or Hispanic youths between 16 and 19-years-of-age was still 35 percent in July 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for white youths increased from 23.2 to 23.5 percent between June and July 2010.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August 6, 2010 press release:

“Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 131,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.5 percent…Federal government employment fell, as 143,000 temporary workers hired for the decennial census completed their work…

“Both the number of unemployed persons, at 14.6 million, and the unemployment rate, at 9.5 percent, were unchanged in July…

“In July, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 6.6 million. These individuals made up 44.9 percent of unemployed persons…

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged over the month at 8.5 million…These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job…

“About 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in July, an increase of 340,000 from a year earlier…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in July, up by 389,000 from a year earlier…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“Employment in professional and business services was little changed (-13,000) in July. The number of jobs in temporary help services showed little movement (-6,000) over the month.

“Employment in financial activities continued to trend down in July, with a decline of 17,000…

“Construction employment changed little (-11,000) in July; 10,000 construction workers were off payrolls due to strike activity…

“Government employment fell by 202,000 in July…Employment in both state and local governments edged down over the month…

“The change in total nonfarm payroll employment…for June was revised from -125,000 to -221,000…”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Remembering Marilyn Buck: Part 2 of a 1994 "Downtown" Interview

Only a few weeks after finally being paroled, long-time U.S. political prisoner Marilyn Buck died of cancer in New York City on August 3, 2010, at the age of 62.

Following is the second part of a 1994 interview with Marilyn Buck, which was done after Newsweek magazine published a cover story on the odyssey and surrender of former 1960s radical and fugitive Kathy Power in 1993, in which Marilyn commented on the Newsweek article about Kathy Power:

Are there any similarities between Kathy Power’s life and yours?
Marilyn Buck [MB]: I am a woman who lived a number of years clandestinely. There are of course some similarities in our lives—being white, from the middle classes, having become political activists in the 1960s against the war in Vietnam and for Black liberation. And we both lived lives underground. For myself, I also know that becoming a politically active woman was not an overnight experience, that I was not misled by some charismatic character. It was a thoughtful process, an examination of what the nature of this system is, of my own role both as object and, more importantly, as subject to fight the oppression. I do not know Ms. Power’s history of politicization, but I definitely mistrust the media’s reductionist scenario of girl-meets-convict-and-is-manipulated.

I think the differences between our lives are more important. I did not feel it necessary to divorce myself from political struggle to survive; and, I did not surrender. I was captured—imprisoned without negotiation. There were no peace talks, no offers of plea.

Living underground is not a romantic endeavor or diversion, as Jane Alpert may have initially imagined it to be. It is difficult and personally heart-wrenching to be separated from one’s family, friends and one’s political cohorts. And yet people all over the world who have to struggle for survival and against grinding, brutal oppression lead lives of value, of resistance, no matter the deaths, the separations they endure. Being underground is not about escaping a life not liked or not fulfilling: Who one is does not rest on one’s name or birth date, but rather on how one lives and acts.

I remember a conversation I had with a comrade a number of years ago, at the time Bernardine Dohrn and her now-husband Bill Ayers, negotiated their own surrenders. The comrade sadly, and a bit angrily, stated that there was not one of us who were engaged in liberation struggle who would not wish to be home, but in Amerika not everyone can do that and live safely, secure from attack. I think that is true.

Certainly, it is much more possible for white people than for people from the oppressed nations to do so. I think of the Salvadoran FMLN comrades who have been assassinated after returning to public life from clandestinity, after all the agreements and international assurances. I wonder how many more will die at the hands of the death squads.

Being white gives one privilege, so the possibilities that exist to surrender are much greater. In this last decade many white people have retreated, either inured to the escalating racism and socioeconomic oppression, feeling they have done all they can, are not to blame, or are frightened at the possible consequences.

Ms. Power retired into the sanctuary of white Amerika. By that I mean that she, as a white woman, had the privilege of escaping notice by retiring into the expected “normal” white life. She did not have to fear being stopped by the police merely because she looked like a “suspicious person.” White people are not “suspicious,” unless they act suspicious or refuse to conform.

Certainly, in the first period of flight, there was danger because she was not “suspicious”—she was hunted! The full weight of the repressive apparatus was unleashed. Radical white women were under attack for having possibly supported her and Susan Saxe. However, after the threats and intimidation did not work in a number of radical women’s communities because of a refusal to collaborate with grand juries, the relentless hunt was thwarted, and the danger diminished.

The State was not prepared to terrorize white Amerika to capture Ms. Power, certainly not to the degree it did hunting Angela Davis or Assata Shakur in Black America. Once Ms. Power established a conforming identity she was relatively safe. But feeling safe and being safe are not always the same thing. One can be safe and not feel that. Conversely, one may feel relatively secure, believing that one has not betrayed oneself or been betrayed, and not be safe.

I can say this because I too was hunted. After the initial fear of being the fox before the hounds subsided, I found that it was relatively easy to be an unassuming, unnoticed white woman. It was assumed that I was a part of the white social consensus. My social credit was good. More than once, police even rushed to my aid—unrequested. The same police might then rush off to snarl at someone Black or Latino—ready to shoot to kill.

I was also able to continue being a political person. It did not stop me from challenging racism, or working in social programs. Not until I was discovered to be that traitor to the capitalist white supremacist consensus. Then my white skin lost its American Express creditability. The State’s agents went haywire. And here I am with a total of 80 years.

Why aren’t you in the radical gallery sidebar which Newsweek printed?
MB: With the exception of Kathy Boudin [released on parole in 2003], none of the more than 100 political prisoners and P.O.W.s are mentioned in the “Revisiting the Radicals” sidebar. None of us have surrendered or repented. Ms. Boudin had been spectacularized in 1970 after the explosion of a townhouse in the Village, so she was “revisited.”

Very few of those of us now in prison were marketed by the media as “fame” commodities. We are buried as much as possible. Those political prisoners and POWs, such as Leonard Peltier or Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt [now released], who are becoming better known, were not propelled by the press into “fame.” Rather, it is through the struggle of many people to bring attention to the reality that both these comrades were framed by the COINTELPRO agencies that they are known.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, MOVE supporter and a journalist sits on death row in Pennsylvania, framed by the State. He’s an established journalist, but neither Newsweek journalists, nor others in the establishment media, have yet [as of 1994], in more than 10 years, written an investigative piece about the fact that the government is marching him to the death chamber!

Newsweek did not write articles about the Tribunal held in 1991, in which charges were brought against the United States for its treatment and continuing detention of the political prisoners and POWs from the New Afrikan and Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, Hawaiian and Mexican national liberation movements, and the anti-imperialist and peace/antiwar movements. No establishment press wrote a major article on the Tribunal charging the U.S. with the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and the colonialization of North America and the Caribbean held in San Francisco on the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the Americas.

Political prisoners are definitely not in fashion. The same people that want us silenced, that continue to exact vengeance, certainly would not encourage its publicists and propagandists to bring any attention to who we are and why we are.

Has the Clinton Administration dealt adequately with issues of political prisoners in the 1990s, from your point of view?
MB: No. Even those with the most clear-cut cases are being denied under this new administration. Comrades like the New York 3—Nuh Washington [who later died in prison of cancer in 2000], Herman Bell, and Jalil Muntaqim—have had legal efforts unjustly denied, even though the government misconduct was flagrant—disappearing evidence which would have undermined the state’s court case. Silvia Baraldini, an Italian citizen, has repeatedly been denied repatriation to serve her sentence in her homeland. Each time the Italian government has requested her transfer, the Justice Department has refused because she refuses to “cooperate”—that is, to disavow her political views as an anti-imperialist. [Some years later, Baraldini was finally repatriated to Italy.] There has been no attempt to resolve the demands for the release of the Puerto Rican POWs and political prisoners or for decolonization [until their release in late 1999].

Sundiata Acoli was refused parole this year, after more than 20 years in prison! Those comrades who have been released were released because there were no other legal ways to keep them locked up. They were not allowed to go to half-way houses at a time when the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been trying to send more people to half-way houses. Because they are “a danger to the community”! Teachers, writers, productive human beings—a danger?

Most other nations at some point have come to terms with political movements that have opposed or do oppose the State. Political prisoners have been released and given amnesty all over the world by state apparatuses that had reveled in brutality and torture. But nothing has changed in the U.S.

Everyone of us comes out of a movement that struggles for liberation, social justice and human dignity. Supporting us is a part of supporting these movements. Until the movements challenging U.S. state power regain strength and momentum, until there is a powerful voice raised by you who are concerned with human rights and justice, I do not think the government—no matter who is in the White House—will make any qualitative moves in the direction of justice. Free All Political Prisoners and POWs! (end of interview)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Remembering Marilyn Buck: Part 1 of a 1994 "Downtown" Interview

Only a few weeks after finally being paroled, long-time U.S. political prisoner Marilyn Buck died of cancer in New York City on August 3, 2010, at the age of 62.

Following is the first part of a 1994 interview with Marilyn Buck, which was done after Newsweek magazine published a cover story on the odyssey and surrender of former 1960s radical and fugitive Kathy Power in 1993, in which Marilyn commented on the Newsweek article about Kathy Power:

Why do you think Newsweek chose to do the story on Kathy Power at this time?
Marilyn Buck [MB]: In a capitalist society, fame and recognition are commodities, usually with very short sales life. The moment is exploited for all its worth; often times by the individual or institution in the spotlight, but all the time by the media, the illusion makers. They create the saints and the demons.

Captures, particularly surrenders, are moments of celebration for the state—a chance to affirm its power, despite its being disavowed or challenged. Imagine challenging the power of the biggest, baddest, domestic and international military machine on the planet! How dare they, we, she…me! To psychologize, and label such behavior as deviant is imperative. Never again does the state want to see an uncontrollable or unpredictable rise of different sectors of the population against its policies and programs, or its existence as such. The U.S. incessantly broadcast that the bombing of Iraq and the supposed national consensus supporting that manufactured military maneuver has laid to rest the infamy of the defeat in Vietnam. It has a pathological fear of decolonialization and national self-determination. Standing in the ‘90s, the propaganda establishment seizes every opportunity to declare the ‘60s—that time of standing up for liberation, justice, self-determination, and against the status quo of white Amerika—dead, an aberration.

Kathy Power’s surrender was perfect for spectatularization. Her surrender was a perfect vehicle to reinforce—to use a psychological term—the `see-what-happens-when-you-stray-from-white-Amerika’ line. This is not the first time sensational stories have hit the press about the radical returned to the fold. Most recently, there was an interview in the New York Times Living Section with Bernardine Dohrn. There is a fascination with a woman who defied the system, who she is today; and a reassurance that she has been cured of `excessive opposition.’

How would you characterize Newsweek’s political and ideological slant on the Power article and the accompanying piece by Jane Alpert?
MB: Newsweek fulfilled its ideological and political role in how it presented this story: Woman-in-misery-because-of-her-political-past. They would have liked to have squeezed out an admission of remorse, but an admission of depression was all they could get.

I think it’s interesting that the Newsweek article chose not to say anything substantial about her current political views. Is she still an antiracist, pro-Black, against U.S. imperialism? Her statement upon surrender is not reported in this article. Perhaps because she did not capitulate in her earlier beliefs that the war was wrong, that Black liberation was important to support?

Newsweek ignored what she said, and instead relied on a pseudo-psychological rendering—a focus on depression and the Betty Crocker lifestyle. Of course, they forget to cite any statistics on the prevalence of clinical depression in white middle-class women in their 40s.

By concentrating on the past, the `moment’ and the flight, as well as the reintegration into the safe white world, the media did not have to say a word about who Kathy Power is as a political person living in the world. Another reassurance to the readers. From reading Newsweek and other articles, I don’t have much of a clue as to who she is socially or politically. My first response was, `oh, the prodigal son/daughter line.’

If Kathy Power’s depression doesn’t provide an example of `divine punishment,’ then Jane’s middle Amerikan nightmare should flesh it out—struggle against the system is a childish illusion, a romantic diversion that turns out not to be such a lark after all. Jane’s piece is intended to say `resistance doesn’t pay,’ from one who can say she too challenged the state, but repented. Under the guise of feminism, Alpert continues to be quite a vocal mouthpiece for reconciliation with the system, patriarchal or not.

The actual intent of the Newsweek article, as well as the majority of the `establishment’ media is to continue to delegitimize resistance to U.S. imperialism and capitalism touted as `democracy.’ Despite its inherent weaknesses, the U.S. has emerged more predatory in the absence of any countervailing power. It is a warning…`Don’t even try it.’

Even the `Revisiting the Radicals’ gallery sidebar, while stating the bare facts, is designed to say, `see, it is only a phase, YOU CANNOT WIN!’

Why do you think Newsweek uses a lot of psychological jargon in this spread?
MB: Newsweek uses a psychological format to examine `objects’ of its focus. Also to convince people they know what they are talking about.

The state is obsessed with trying to understand why white people would `drop out’ or challenge the system. They won’t admit that there is something seriously pathological in the system, so they seek to convince the public there is something wrong with those who opposed their system.

The expectations and heady sensation of change of the `60s and ‘70s may be overwhelmed by two decades of unrelenting conformism and systematic desensitization of political, social and moral consciences, but the reality of oppression, exploitation and social injustice is greater than ever. It will not disappear. Even now it is intolerable. Too much white supremacy, too much poverty, prison and social repression. Too little justice and too few jobs. The L.A. uprising was only one seismic shock to this structure. The demand for justice and national liberation has not subsided.

Here in the oppressor nation, there is still a segment of white youth who drop out, become antiestablishment punkers drawn to hip-hop and the rap of the besieged African-American youth, who are alienated and angry, sometimes not yet exactly sure why, but squatting, looking for new forms of protest, examining history, asking questions and rejecting a history of racism and genocide. Youth who are consciously, deliberately opposed to this system. There are still socialists, anarchists, antiracists, antifascists. There are thousands and thousands of women, lesbians who refuse to go back. The potential for struggle within this oppressor nation has not been crushed or thrown into the wastebin of history. (end of part 1).