Thursday, September 30, 2010


Eva Golinger reports:

Coup Attempt in Ecuador
2pm EST

A coup attempt is underway against the government of President Rafael Correa. On Thursday morning, groups of police forces rebelled and took over key strategic sites in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. President Correa immediately went to the military base occupied by the police leading the protest to work out a solution to the situation. The police protesting claimed a new law passed on Wednesday regarding public officials would reduce their benefits.

Nonetheless, President Correa affirmed that his government has actually doubled police wages over the past four years. The law would not cut benefits but rather restructure them.

The law was used as an excuse to justify the police protest. But other forces are behind the chaos, attempting to provoke a coup led by former president Lucio Guitierrez, who was impeached by popular revolt in Ecuador in 2005.

“This is a coup attempt led by Lucio Guitierrez”, denounced Correa on Thursday afternoon via telephone. Correa was attacked by the police forces with tear gas. "Kill me if you need to. There will be other Correa's", said the President, addressing the police rebellion. He was hospitalized shortly after at a military hospital, which has now been taking over by coup forces. As of 1pm Thursday, police forces were attempting to access his hospital room to possibly assassinate him.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño called on supporters to go to the hospital to defend Correa and prevent his assassination. Military forces took over an air base in Quito to prevent air transit and took over nearby streets to prevent Correa's supporters from mobilizing towards the hospital. Other security forces took over the parliament, preventing legislators from accessing the state institution and causing severe chaos and violence.

Thousands of supporters filled Quito’s streets, gathering around the presidential palace, backing Correa and rejecting the coup attempt.

At 2pm EST, the Ecuadorian government declared an emergency state.

Countries throughout the region expressed support for Correa and condemned the destabilization. The Organization of American States in Washington called an emergency meeting at 2:30pm EST. ALBA nations and UNASUR are also convening.

Ecuador is a member of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) and a close ally of Venezuela. Last June, Honduras, a prior ALBA member, was victim of a coup d'etat that forced President Manuel Zelaya from power. The coup was backed by Washington. In 2002, Venezuela was also subject to a Washington-backed coup d'etat that briefly ousted President Chavez from power. He was returned to office within 48 hours after millions of Venezuelans protested and defeated the US-backed coup leaders.

Ecuador is the newest victim of destabilization in South America.

USAID channels millions annually into political groups against Correa that could be behind the coup attempt.

Venezuela's Choice

Venezuelan election commentary is still in flux - reactions are still trickling in. Still, so far available analyses are mostly failing to address the election's most important implications.

Yes, the Bolivarian Revolution is still in the saddle.

Yes, Chavez is vastly more popular - despite being in office ten years - than Obama, now in office for two years.

Yes the PSUV has retained more support and influence than, for example, the Democrats in the U.S.

One could continue in that vein, but viewing the election as if it is a one off experience that is lost or won depending on the ballot count from electoral district to electoral district measuring assembly seats won by Chavistas and the opposition, so that the Chavistas can say - hooray, we won - or viewing it in comparison to what goes on in the U.S. or other typically top down and politically bankrupt societies, so again the Chavistas can say, hooray, we are doing better, is highly simplistic.

Venezuela is continuing an already decade long incredibly complex struggle for its future. This means what goes on in Venezuela cannot be usefully compared to what goes on in simpler settings.

In Venezuela, some wish to reassert or preserve old relations - basically capitalism, political bureaucracy, racial hierarchies, gender hierarchies - all the old crap.

In Venezuela, there is also a drive toward something new - a goal that is not spelled out and in fact in many respects barely even intimated, but that is nonetheless also clearly anti racist and anti sexist, clearly for the poor and weak, and maybe profoundly self managing.

The agents for reaction will do whatever they can to obstruct the agents for change - and the reactionaries have no scruples and plenty of resolve or resources for their tasks.

If a coup will work, give it a try. Or try a referendum. Or try an election boycott. They tried, and failed, and failed. Chavez was way too popular. So they needed another more sophisticated strategy.

What they arrived at was to subvert the Chavez government's efforts to move forward on behalf of the poor, and then to blame Chavez for failing to solve problems and better people's lives. As people become tired and doubtful, the opposition ups the ante. How can a reactionary opposition do all that? Let's count the ways.

1. Old owners subvert plans to produce for the poor and weak. They obstruct efforts at building housing and other projects in numerous ways, including just selling off the needed resources over seas, creating bottle necks, or even simply not working, or working slowly, or working poorly, on various projects. This is very effective, especially in Caracas.

2. Old police don't curb violence and theft - but instead engage in it. They become the criminal element in order not only to enrich themselves, but to create an environment of fear and anger. They even kill - to the same end. It isn't the stolen bounty that is the most important goal. Nor is it the dead victims. No, the most important goal is the assault on the social imagination. It is making people wary, fearful, and not willing to talk, organize, and participate. This is very effective, especially in Caracas, but throughout the country, as well.

3. Old political bureaucrats - or new ones for that matter - can obstruct rather than aid (as the Chavez government mandates) the emergence of new grassroots people's assemblies. The new structures are supposed to become the new government. It should not be surprising that old mayors and governors are slow to aid them, or even, very often, quick to subvert them, thus bringing local government often out of the revolutionary process and into a reactionary one. The bureaucratically oriented even on the left see popular progress as personal loss. Their obstructionism, rather than their advocacy, of popular participation is very effective, all over Venezuela.

4. Old media - nearly all of Venezuela's media - maintain a never ending assault on Chavez and the government including blaming them for anything and everything that causes people pain or worry - from crime to draught, from continuing poverty to frustration with efforts at local governance - even if, as is most often the case, it is the owners of the media and their allies who own other industries and who administrate cities and regions and who "police" the public, who are actually at fault.

5. The above fourfold strategy to obstruct, disrupt, and blame, it must be admitted, has been very successful. And it also must be admitted that the success can extend even unto impacting Chavista agendas. It can not only distort outcomes in the field in ways that block libertory changes and then undercut support, it can also infect even Chavista motives, inducing a defensiveness about and even denial of ills as well as isolation from the public in turn causing additional problems including, for example, local lethargy of government branches and resistance to admitting and thus dealing sufficiently with crime issues.

"But the Chavistas won still another showdown. How can you claim the opposition has had great success" - I can hear some reply, or demand, on hearing the above.

Well, if you look at seats in the parliament, and if you simply count the final tally of who won those, then these critics of my stance are absolutely right. There have been some losses, sure, but overall the election marks another victory, albeit a bit tighter.

But what if we look at the situation as befits judging not a simple parliamentary election but instead an accounting of sentiments in a broad and long social struggle?

After ten years of a government that seeks revolutionary transformation in the direct material, social, and psychological interest of 80% of the population, and, arguably, also in the social interest of quite a few more - support has dropped roughly 10%. Where support for the Bolivarian process should, in the past ten years have risen from about 60% to up near 80%, it instead appears to have fallen to roughly 50%. Momentum is undercut. The publics hopes decline, their support much less inclination to act, diminishes. Even the resolve of avowed revolutionaries starts to wither.

This trajectory has to be seen for what it is: a downslope to hell.

This trajectory must be reversed.

This trajectory cannot be reversed if the fourfold oppositional strategy listed earlier, and also the additional internal Bolivarian flaws of process and practice persist.

This trajectory cannot be reversed if efforts to deal with the fourfold oppositional features and internal failings proceed so slowly that their minor gains are swamped by continually growing pubic exhaustion and doubt.

The Bolivarian Revolution needs to regain aggressive momentum and wide spread participation.

The Bolivarian Revolution needs clarity as to its aims. Why else will people be energetic supporters? How else then by knowing what the revolution's aims are, and being able to adapt and alter the aims for themselves, can the public be part of and literally command the process?

The Bolivarian Revolution needs mobilization at the base of communities and throughout workplaces to attain its aims. How else can progress be gained and defended?

Nothing much can be achieved over night. But reticence to act due to not wanting to arouse stronger opposition so as to avoid serious conflict - or not being willing to see and admit the need - is a direct road to hell.

The Bolivarian idea, or one might say the Bolivarian hope, incredibly admirable, was that in a fair and rational debate with vote after vote - reason would prevail and sympathy for the public would win out. And well it would have, except for one thing. The opposition is not interested in a fair and rational discussion. The opposition simply wants to win by whatever means they can find, including obstructionism, lying, manipulating, fear mongering, and criminality. Waiting for a fair debate is suicide. While waiting, one's support is undercut or grows tired and despondent, and one's priorities and policies become distorted as well.

There comes a time when one must finally admit - however admirably much one wished to avoid the implications - that to have Venezuela undergo a truly democratic and self managing popular assessment of options and then freely and insightfully choose among those options - the opposition must be denied pride of place and practice.

The opposition can debate like all others - but they cannot own and control the only megaphone in society - its tv, newspapers, etc.

The opposition can work at producing social outputs like all others, but they cannot obstruct work by owning firms and directing them away from revolutionary agendas.

The opposition can help to govern like all others, but they cannot use governing positions to obstruct popular organizing and decision making and abuse participation.

The opposition can aid in fighting against corruption and theft like all others, but they cannot become the country's most egregious corruptors and thieves.

And even among the agents and allies of the Revolution, ever greater receptivity to the desires of masses of people throughout society, ever greater willingness to admit and correct errors rather than deny and paper them over, and ever more receptivity to widening participation, are also essential.

From outside Venezuela, admittedly having only modest connection to or information about the details of complexly developing options inside Venezuela, it does seem that to overcome reaction and to seriously pursue liberation something quite like the following steps must somehow soon be achieved as the necessary minimal basis for continuing success.

(1) The media must become democratic and public - critically insightful and inspiring - not a lapdog mouthpiece of the revolution, but also certainly not a lapdog mouthpiece of insane and venal reaction. Yes, there will be a price in rhetorical assault and real confusion around the world when the mass media are taken from venal and even criminal private ownership and turned into exemplary vehicles of public participation, education, criticism, and exploration - but this is a price that must be paid at some point - and sooner is better.

(2) Mayors, governors, and other officials throughout Venezuela, whatever their other inclinations may be, must become abettors of and advocates for popular power. Neither Chavez nor the PSUV should support candidates or elected officials rerunning for office who do not as a core element of their program and practice work hard to develop the popular assemblies of popular participation and rule, including supporting and working to implement programs mandated by those assemblies. Yes, those who lose support and then office may become overt opponents of the Revolution, but they will be far less damaging in that role than as trusted officials given power to subvert progress.

(3) Old police, wedded to reaction and engaging in crime and fear mongering - whether by action or by calculated inaction - must be replaced. If the new national police can push and teach and force local police to comply, fine. But, if not, then more aggressive steps must be taken. Are there centralizing dangers in such scenarios? Most certainly there are very serious centralizing dangers as well as a rhetorical cost in criticisms. But what must be done, must be done - and putting off acts which, by their delay make their eventual success harder, not easier, is self defeating. The solution to the dangers is to address policing like one addresses production, or health care, or anything else - not only improving it beyond abysmal, but thinking through what would be exemplary, in accord with self management, etc., and implementing that.

(4) The old owners must have their property appropriated for control by the relevant workforces. Their compensation should be that which the society sees as morally warranted - which is to say, at least in my view, enough to maintain a viable income level while seeking new economic involvements. Owners who have sabotaged Bolivarian agendas for the poor and weak, however, should arguably get nothing. Again, any transfers will lead some losers of land or property to overt opposition - but that overt opposition will do far far less damage than the same people's quiet opposition undertaken as heads of workplaces, rather than mere citizens.

(5) The revolution also needs to look again at itself. Not all current problems are a function of overt external opposition. Some problems reside within, albeit perhaps largely induced by the long obstruction and threats of reaction, but by this time also rooted in on going and self sustaining habits of the present. So in addition to dealing with the above four opposition obstacles, there must be a new level of practical commitment to rectifying stale or misguided practice by incorporating criticism from and the desires of the broad population into the actions of local government, of the PSUV, and of the national government as well.

The above steps are not the revolution.

The above steps don't bring plenty to the poor. They don't elevate the weak to influence. They don't remove hierarchical difference. They simply remove the obstacles to seriously and steadfastly seeking those greater aims including ever growing popular participation and popular self managing control over political life and over production and allocation, and indeed over all dimensions of Venezuela's future, with new social structures and programs suited to the purposes.

But in the absence of fulfilling the above steps, more encompassing positive efforts will continue to be subverted, the public will continue feel despondant and cowed, and Chavista support will continue to atrophy.

The road to hell - or the road to solidifying and enlarging revolution.

From outside, it appears that that is the current choice.

In Brazil, when the PT and Lula won office, they succumbed to fears of reaction and violence. To avoid that calamity they settled on a path less radical and encompassing than their rhetoric had suggested they would pursue.

In Venezuela, the path has been the opposite. Threats have provoked Chavez and the Bolivarian government to move further left, not retreat to the right. But now comes the real crossroads.

To now stand pat and keep debating the opposition while they criminally subvert projects - a calculated opposition behavior that will in coming months only become more aggressive - will end in disaster.

To rear back and decide that the Brazilian social democratic route at least preserves broad political participation and avoids overt conflict, will end in disaster.

The only road with promise is the road forward. And the road forward must be traversed over and through - not simply around - the old owners, the old political bureaucracy, the old police, the old media, as well as new but hopefully only superficial habits of aloof defensiveness in the PSUV and the Revolution, as well.

Turkey and Russia: Cleaning up the mess in the Middle East

The new Ottomans and the new Byzantines are poised for an intercept as the US stumbles in the current Great Game, reports Eric Walberg

The neocon plan to transform the Middle East and Central Asia into a pliant client of the US empire and its only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East is now facing a very different playing field. Not only are the wars against the Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis floundering, but they have set in motion unforeseen moves by all the regional players.

The empire faces a resurgent Turkey, heir to the Ottomans, who governed a largely peaceful Middle East for half a millennium. As part of a dynamic diplomatic outreach under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey re-established the Caliphate visa-free tradition with Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Syria last year. In February Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay offered to do likewise with Egypt. There is “a great new plan of creating a Middle East Union as a regional equivalent of the European Union” with Turkey, fresh from a resounding constitutional referendum win by the AKP, writes Israel Shamir.

Turkey also established a strategic partnership with Russia during the past two years, with a visa-free regime and ambitious trade and investment plans (denominated in rubles and lira), including the construction of new pipelines and nuclear energy facilities.

Just as Turkey is heir to the Ottomans, Russia is heir to the Byzantines, who ruled a largely peaceful Middle East for close to a millennium before the Turks. Together, Russia and Turkey have far more justification as Middle Eastern "hegemons" than the British-American 20th century usurpers, and they are doing something about it.

In a delicious irony, invasions by the US and Israel in the Middle East and Eurasia have not cowed the countries affected, but emboldened them to work together, creating the basis for a new alignment of forces, including Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

Syria, Turkey and Iran are united not only by tradition, faith, resistance to US-Israeli plans, but by their common need to fight Kurdish separatists, who have been supported by both the US and Israel. Their economic cooperation is growing by leaps and bounds. Adding Russia to the mix constitutes a like-minded, strong regional force encompassing the full socio-political spectrum, from Sunni and Shia Muslim, Christian, even Jewish, to secular traditions.

This is the natural regional geopolitical logic, not the artificial one imposed over the past 150 years by the British and now US empires. Just as the Crusaders came to wreak havoc a millennium ago, forcing locals to unite to expel the invaders, so today's Crusaders have set in motion the forces of their own demise.

Turkey's bold move with Brazil to defuse the West's stand-off with Iran caught the world's imagination in May. Its defiance of Israel after the Israeli attack on the Peace Flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza in June made it the darling of the Arab world.

Russia has its own, less spectacular contributions to these, the most burning issues in the Middle East today. There are problems for Russia. Its crippled economy and weakened military give it pause in anything that might provoke the world superpower. Its elites are divided on how far to pursuit accommodation with the US. The tragedies of Afghanistan and Chechnya and fears arising from the impasse in most of the “stans” continue to plague Russia’s relations with the Muslim Middle East.

Since the departure of Soviet forces from Egypt in 1972, Russia has not officially had a strong presence in the Middle East. Since the mid- 1980s, it saw a million-odd Russians emigrate to Israel, who like immigrants anywhere, are anxious to prove their devotion and are on the whole unwilling to give up land in any two-state solution for Palestine. As Anatol Sharansky quipped to Bill Clinton after he emigrated, “I come from one of the biggest countries in the world to one of the smallest. You want me to cut it in half. No, thank you.” Russia now has its very own well-funded Israel Lobby; many Russians are dual Israeli citizens, enjoying a visa-free regime with Israel.

Then there is Russia's equivocal stance on the stand-off between the West and Iran. Russia cooperates with Iran on nuclear energy, but has concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions, supporting Security Council sanctions and cancelling the S-300 missile deal it signed with Iran in 2005. It is also increasing its support for US efforts in Afghanistan. Many commentators conclude that these are signs that the Russian leadership under President Dmitri Medvedev is caving in to Washington, backtracking on the more anti-imperial policy of Putin. "They showed that they are not reliable," criticised Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

Russia is fence-sitting on this tricky dilemma. It is also siding, so far, with the US and the EU in refusing to include Turkey and Brazil in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme. “The Non-Aligned countries in general, and Iran in particular, have interpreted the Russian vote as the will on the part of a great power to prevent emerging powers from attaining the energy independence they need for their economic development. And it will be difficult to make them forget this Russian faux pas,” argues Thierry Meyssan at

Whatever the truth is there, the cooperation with Iran and now Turkey, Syria and Egypt on developing peaceful nuclear power, and the recent agreement to sell Syria advanced P-800 cruise missiles show Russia is hardly the plaything of the US and Israel in Middle East issues. Israel is furious over the missile sale to Syria, and last week threatened to sell “strategic, tie-breaking weapons” to “areas of strategic importance” to Russia in revenge. On both Iran and Syria, Russia's moves suggest it is trying to calm volatile situations that could explode.

There are other reasons to see Russia as a possible Middle East powerbroker. The millions of Russian Jews who moved to Israel are not necessarily a Lieberman-like Achilles Heel for Russia. A third of them are scornfully dismissed as not sufficiently kosher and could be a serious problem for a state that is founded solely on racial purity. Many have returned to Russia or managed to move on to greener pastures. Already, such prominent rightwing politicians as Moshe Arens, political patron of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are considering a one-state solution. Perhaps these Russian immigrants will produce a Frederik de Klerk to re-enact the dismantling of South African apartheid.

Russia holds another intriguing key to peace in the Middle East. Zionism from the start was a secular socialist movement, with religious conservative Jews strongly opposed, a situation that continues even today, despite the defection of many under blandishments from the likes of Ben Gurion and Netanyahu. Like the Palestinians, True Torah Jews don’t recognise the “Jewish state”.

But wait! There is a legitimate Jewish state, a secular one set up in 1928 in Birobidjan Russia, in accordance with Soviet secular nationalities policies. There is nothing stopping the entire population of Israeli Jews, orthodox and secular alike, from decamping to this Jewish homeland, blessed with abundant raw materials, Golda Meir’s “a land without a people for a people without a land”. It has taken on a new lease on life since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev made an unprecedented visit this summer, the first ever of a Russian (or Soviet) leader and pointed out the strong Russian state support it has as a Jewish homeland where Yiddish, the secular language of European Jews (not sacred Hebrew), is the state language.

There has been no magic hand guiding Turkey and Russia as they form the axis of a new political formation. Rather it is the resilience of Islam in the face of Western onslaught, plus -- surprisingly -- a page from the history of Soviet secular national self-determination. Turkey, once the “sick man of Europe”, is now "the only healthy man of Europe", Turkish President Abdullah Gul was told at the UN Millennium Goals Summit last week, positioning it along with the Russian, and friends Iranian and Syrian to clean up the mess created by the British empire and its “democratic” offspring, the US and Israel.

While US and Israeli strategists continue to pore over mad schemes to invade Iran, Russian and Turkish leaders plan to increase trade and development in the Middle East, including nuclear power. From a Middle Eastern point of view, Russia’s eagerness to build power stations in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Egypt shows a desire to help accelerate the economic development that Westerners have long denied the Middle East -- other than Israel -- for so long. This includes Lebanon where Stroitransgaz and Gazprom will transit Syrian gas until Beirut can overcome Israeli-imposed obstacles to the exploitation of its large reserves offshore.

Russia in its own way, like its ally Turkey, has placed itself as a go-between in the most urgent problems facing the Middle East -- Palestine and Iran. “Peace in the Middle East holds the key to a peaceful and stable future in the world,” Gul told the UN Millennium Goals Summit -- in English. The world now watches to see if their efforts will bear fruit.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly You can reach him at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"In the Interests of Israel": Why Russia will not sell the S-300 Air Defense System to Iran

Russian army chief of staff Gen. N. Makarov broke the news on September 22 that Russia will not sell the S-300 air defense systems to Iran. Regardless of official explanations, it does not take an expert to realize that as a purely defensive system designed to shield a country from aircraft and cruise missile attacks the S-300 complexes cannot pose a threat to any country unless it attacks the one owning them.

As for the standoff between Iran and Israel, Tehran is constantly confronted with threats of massive air strikes, and taking steps to prevent the aggression is a must for any country seeking to sustain peace, especially for a permanent UN Security Council member sharing the responsibility for global security. Aggression is least likely in the situation of military parity or if the potential victim is able to inflict unacceptable damage on the aggressor. Iran’s possession of the S-300 complexes could expose Israel’s air forces to the risk of unacceptable damage in case the letter choses to attack the former. Denying Iran the right to efficient means of self-defense is tantamount to encouraging aggression against it. Isn’t Russia thus helping to unleash a disastrous war in the proximity of its own borders, a war against a country which, by the way, hosts a large colony of Russian specialists? On top of that, the refusal to supply the S-300 complexes to Iran clearly hurts Russia’s political and economic interests.

What could be the motivation behind Russia’s recent decision? Obviously, it stems from several regards. Ostensibly unaware of the existence of Israel’ nuclear arsenal, Moscow has for years been playing the game of taming Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions and voted for sanctions against the country in the UN Security Council. Actually, Tehran proposed a number of times to turn the Middle East into a nuclear-free zone. The plan was welcomed by the majority of the Arab world but seems to be a taboo for Russia’s foreign ministry. Now, why is that?

Igor Yurgens, chief of the Institute of Contemporary Development, a well-connected Russian thinktank, said at the Nixon Center Russia-US roundatable on July 28, 2010 that not everybody in Russia regards the collapse of the USSR as a geopolitical catastrophe (as Russia’s former president and current prime minister V. Putin described the historical development). Yurgens went on to assert that the goal of those who don’t is to integrate Russia into the Euro-Atlantic security architecture and to eventually bring the country to NATO. He praised Russian defense minister A. Serdyukov’s military reform and told that in the nearest future Russia would ­ oddly enough - be importing at least 30% of the weapons and equipment for its army from Israel and NATO countries. Another roundtable speaker from Russia - Gen. V. Dvorkin who, incidentally, paid a visit to Israel a short time ago - urged US senators to OK launching an attack against Iran as soon as possible and even presented a computer model of the conflict to US partners.

Defense ministers of Russia and Israel A. Serdyukov and Ehud Barak signed a first-ever agreement on the military cooperation between the two countries on September 6, 2010. The sides went so far as to include intelligence data swaps in the package, leaving it open to interpretation whether from now on Russia is going to spy on Arab countries, Turkey, and Iran and pass sensitive information to Israel. Whereas in the past the Russian administration sought consensus with Tel Aviv to sell weapons to Middle Eastern countries, currently the impression is that it needs Israel’s explicit sanction for such deals. A similarly absurd arrangement was in effect in the days of the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission when Moscow did not even dare to supply ordinary mechanical equipment to Iran unless Washington greenlighted the deal.

It is an open secret that Israel assisted in organizing and launching the August, 2008 unprovoked Georgian aggression against South Ossetia and the deadly raid against the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the republic. Israeli advisers are in part responsible for the bloodshed, but one gets an impression that these days for Moscow no sacrifices are too great a price for an entry ticket to the Judo-Atlantic civilization.

Decisions like the one announced by Gen. N. Makarov undermine Russia’s prestige and erode its security, making the world less safe for every one of us. At the moment the Islamic world has reasons to believe that Moscow has switched to the camp of its foes. Given the facts that Russia is locked in a protracted conflict in the Muslim part of the Caucasus and that over a million Muslims reside in Moscow, antagonizing Muslims worldwide is the last thing the country needs.

On the whole, Serdyukov’s military reform ­ the structural overhaul, the introduction of the brigade system, the acquisitions of Israeli and NATO weapons, joint Russia-West exercises in the US and in Europe, and the tide of military college closures ­ lead watchers to conclude that the broader plan behind it is to build what still remains of Russia’s army and navy into the US and NATO expedition corps.

Shall we really be taking the riskiest roles in the military escapades of the Anglo-Saxons and of the Israeli Zionist leadership in the name of the shadowy financial oligarchy’s global dominance? Let others judge what authors of the plan deserve.

General Leonid Ivashov is the vice-president of the Academy on geopolitical affairs. He was the chief of the department for General affairs in the Soviet Union’s ministry of Defense, secretary of the Council of defense ministers of the Community of independant states (CIS), chief of the Military cooperation department at the Russian federation’s Ministry of defense and Joint chief of staff of the Russian armies. He is member of the Axis for Peace conference.

An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Announcement by Peter Eckersley
Today, 87 prominent Internet engineers sent a joint letter the US Senate Judiciary Committee, declaring their opposition to the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). The text of the letter is below.

Readers are encouraged to themselves write the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to reject this bill.
We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.
We are writing to oppose the Committee's proposed new Internet censorship and copyright bill. If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. In exchange for this, the bill will introduce censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' ability to communicate.
All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under this bill. These problems will be enough to ensure that alternative name-lookup infrastructures will come into widespread use, outside the control of US service providers but easily used by American citizens. Errors and divergences will appear between these new services and the current global DNS, and contradictory addresses will confuse browsers and frustrate the people using them. These problems will be widespread and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.
The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We can't have a free and open Internet without a global domain name system that sits above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US suddenly begins to use its central position in the DNS for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.
Senators, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put this bill aside.
The letter is signed by the following:
  • David P. Reed, who played an important role in the development of TCP/IP and invented the UDP protocol that makes real-time applications like VOIP possible today; Professor at MIT
  • Paul Vixie, author of BIND, the most widely-used DNS server software, and President of the Internet Systems Consortium
  • Jim Gettys, editor of the HTTP/1.1 protocol standards, which we use to do everything on the Web.
  • Bill Jennings, who was VP of Engineering at Cisco for 10 years and responsible for building much of the hardware and embedded software for Cisco's core router products and high-end Ethernet switches.
  • Steve Bellovin, one of the originators of USENET; found and fixed numerous security flaws in DNS; Professor at Columbia.
  • Gene Spafford, who analyzed the first catastrophic Internet worm and made many subsequent contributions to computer security; Professor at Purdue.
  • Dan Kaminsky, renowned security researcher who in 2008 found and helped to fix a grave security vulnerability in the entire planet's DNS systems.
  • David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS, which offers alternative DNS services for enhanced security.
  • John Vittal, Created the first full email client and the email standards.
  • Esther Dyson, chairman, EDventure Holdings; founding chairman, ICANN; former chairman, EFF; active investor in many start-ups that support commerce, news and advertising on the Internet; director, Sunlight Foundation
  • Brian Pinkerton, Founder of WebCrawler, the first big Internet search engine.
  • Dr. Craig Partridge, Architect of how email is routed through the Internet, and designed the world's fastest router in the mid 1990s.
  • John Gilmore, co-designed BOOTP (RFC 951), which became DHCP, the way you get an IP address when you plug into an Ethernet or get on a WiFi access point. Current EFF board member.
  • Karl Auerbach, Former North American publicly elected member of the Board of Directors of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
  • Paul Timmins, designed and runs the multi-state network of a medium sized telephone and internet company in the Midwest.
  • Lou Katz, I was the founder and first President of the Usenix Association, which published much of the academic research about the Internet, opening networking to commercial and other entities.
  • Walt Daniels, IBM’s contributor to MIME, the mechanism used to add attachments to emails.
  • Gordon E. Peterson II, designer and implementer of the first commercially available LAN system, and member of the Anti-Spam Research Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
  • John Adams, operations engineer at Twitter, signing as a private citizen
  • Alex Rubenstein, founder of Net Access Corporation. We are an Internet Service Provider for nearly 15 years, and I have served on the ARIN AC.
  • Roland Alden, Originator of the vCard interchange standard; builder of Internet infrastructure in several developing countries.
  • Lyndon Nerenberg, Author/inventor of RFC3516 IMAP BINARY and contributor to the core IMAP protocol and extension.
  • James Hiebert, I performed early experiments using TCP Anycast to track routing instability in Border Gateway Protocol.
  • Dr. Richard Clayton, designer of Turnpike, widely used Windows-based Internet access suite. Prominent Computer Security researcher at Cambridge University.
  • Brandon Ross, designed the networks of MindSpring and NetRail.
  • James Ausman, helped build the first commercial web site and worked on the Apache web server that runs two-thirds of the Web.
  • Michael Laufer, worked on the different networks they dealt with including the Milnet, other US Govt nets, and regional (NSF) nets that became the basis of the Internet. Also designed, built, and deployed the first commercial VPN infrastructure (I think) as well as dial up nets that were part of AOL and many other things.
  • Janet Plato, I worked for Advanced Network and Service from 1992 or so running the US Internet core before it went public, and then doing dial engineering until we were acquired by UUNet. While at UUnet I worked in EMEA Engineering where I helped engineer their European STM16 backbone.
  • Thomas Hutton, I was one of the original architects of CERFnet - one of the original NFSnet regional networks that was later purchased by AT&T. In addition, I am currently chair of the CENIC HPR (High Performance Research) technical committee. This body directs CENIC in their managment and evolution of Calren2, the California research and education network.
  • Phil Lapsley, co-author of the Internet Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), RFC 977, and developer of the NNTP reference implementation in 1986 ... still in use today almost 25 years later.
  • Stephen Wolff. While at NSF I nurtured, led, and funded the NSFNET from its infancy until by 1994 I had privatized, commercialized, and decommissioned the NSFNET Backbone; these actions stimulated the commercial activity that led to the Internet of today.
  • Bob Schulman , worked on University of Illinois’ ANTS system in the Center for Advanced Computation in 1976 when ANTS connected a few hosts to the ARPAnet.
  • Noel D. Humphreys, As a lawyer I worked on the American Bar Association committee that drafted guidelines for use of public key encryption infrastructure in the early days of the internet.
  • Ramaswamy P. Aditya, I built various networks and web/mail content and application hosting providers including AS10368 (DNAI) which is now part of AS6079 (RCN), which I did network engineering and peering for, and then I did network engineering for AS25 (UC Berkeley), followed and now I do network engineering for AS177-179 and others (UMich).
  • Haudy Kazemi, Implemented Internet connections (from the physical lines, firewalls, and routers to configuring DNS and setting up Internet-facing servers) to join several companies to the Internet and enable them to provide digital services to others.
  • Mike Meyer, I helped debug the NNTP software in the 80s, and desktop web browsers and servers in the 90s.
  • Richard S. Kulawiec, 30 years designing/operating academic/commercial/ISP systems and networks.
  • Michael Alexander, I have been involved with networking since before the Internet existed. Among other things I was part of the team that connected the MTS mainframe at Michigan to the Merit Network. I was also involved in some of the early work on Email with Mailnet at MIT and wrote network drivers for IP over ISDN for Macintosh computers.
  • Gordon Cook, I led the OTA study between 1990 and 1992 and since April 1992 have been self employed as editor publisher of the cook report.
  • Thomas Donnelly, I help support the infrastructure for the world’s most widely used web server control panel.
  • Peter Rubenstein, I helped design and run the ISP transit backbone of AOL, the ATDN.
  • Owen DeLong, I am an elected member of the ARIN Advisory Council. I am the resource holder of record on a number of domains. I have been active on the internet for more than 20 years. I was involved in getting some of the first internet connections into primary and secondary schools before commercial providers like AT&T started sponsoring events like Net-Day.
  • Erik Fair, co-author, RFC 1627, RFC 977, former
  • Tony Rall, I was involved in providing Internet access to the IBM corporation - from the late 80s until last year. I worked within the company to ensure that Internet access was as "open" and transparent as possible.
  • Bret Clark, Spectra Access. We are New Hampshire's largest wireless Internet service providers and have built a large footprint of Internet Access for businesses in New Hampshire.
  • Paul Fleming, Run as33182 as a large hosting provider (5gbps+). develop monitoring software suite.
  • David M. Kristol, Co-author, RFCs 2109, 2965 ("HTTP State Management") Contributor, RFC 2616 ("Hypertext Transfer Protocol")
  • Anthony G. Lauck, I helped design and standardize routing protocols and local area network protocols and served on the Internet Architecture Board.
  • Judith Axler Turner, I started the first NSF-approved commercial service on the Internet, the Chronicle of Higher Education's job ads, in 1993.
  • Jason Novinger , I was the Network Administrator for Lawrence Freenet, a small wireless ISP in Lawrence, KS.
  • Dustin Jurman, I am the CEO of Rapid Systems Corporation a Network Service Provider, and Systems builder responsible for 60 Million of NOFA funding.
  • Blake Pfankuch, Over the years I have implemented thousands if not tens of thousands of webservers, DNS servers and supporting infrastructure.
  • Dave Shambley, retired engineer (EE -rf-wireless- computers) and active in the design of web site and associated graphics.
  • Stefan Schmidt, I had sole technical responsibility for running all of the / AS5430 DNS Infrastructure with roughly 120.000 Domains and approximately 1.5 million DSL subscribers for the last 9 years and have been actively involved in the
  • (No name listed) development of the PowerDNS authoritative and recursive DNS Servers for the last 4 years.
  • Dave Skinner, I was an early provider of net connectivity in central Oregon. Currently I provide hosting services.
  • Richard Hartmann, Backbone manager and project manager at Globalways AG, a German ISP.
  • Curtis Maurand, founder of a small internet company in Maine in 1994. started delivering low cost broadband to municipalities and businesses before acquired by Time-Warner.
  • James DeLeskie, internetMCI Sr. Network Engineer, Teleglobe Principal Network Architect
  • Bernie Cosell, I was a member of the team at BBN that wrote the code for the original ARPAnet IMP. I also did a big chunk of the redesign of the TELNET protocol [addding DO/DONT/WILL/WONT].
  • Eric Brunner-Williams, I contributed to rfc1122 and 1123, and co-authored rfc2629, Domain Name System (DNS) IANA Considerations, and authored the "sponsored registry" proposal, implemented as .aero, .coop and .museum, and assisted with .cat, authored the privacy policy for HTTP cookies, and contribute to both the IETF and to ICANN.
  • Nathan Eisenberg, Atlas Networks Senior System Administrator, manager of 25K sq. ft. of data centers which provide services to Starbucks, Oracle, and local state
  • Jon Loeliger, I have implemented OSPF, one of the main routing protocols used to determine IP packet delivery. At other companies, I have helped design and build the actual computers used to implement core routers or storage delivery systems. At another company, we installed network services (T-1 lines and ISP service) into Hotels and Airports across the country.
  • Tim Rutherford, managed DNS (amongst other duties) for an C4.NET since 1997.
  • Ron Lachman , I am co-founder of Ultra DNS. I am co-founder of Sandpiper networks (arguably, inventor of the CDN) I am "namesake" founder of Lachman TCP/IP (millions of copies of TCP on Unix System V and many other other platforms) Joint developer of NFS along with Sun MicroSystems.
  • Jeromie Reeves, Network Administrator & Consultant. I have a small couple hundred user Wireless ISP and work with or have stakes in many other networks.
  • Alia Atlas, I designed software in a core router (Avici) and have various RFCs around resiliency, MPLS, and ICMP.
  • Marco Coelho, As the owner of Argon Technologies Inc., a company that has been in the business of providing Internet service for the past 13 years.
  • David J. Bowie, intimately involved in deployment and maintenance of the Arpanet as it evolved from 16 sites to what it is today.
  • Scott Rodgers, I have been an ISP on Cape Cod Massachusetts for 17 years and I agree that this bill is poison.
  • William Schultz, for the past 10 years I've worked on hundreds of networks around the US and have worked for a major voice and data carrier. I do not agree with Internet censorship in any degree, at all.
  • Rebecca Hargrave Malamud, helped advance many large-scale Internet projects, and have been working the web since its invention.
  • Kelly J. Kane - Shared web hosting network operator. Tom DeReggi, 15yr ISP/WISP veteran, RapidDSL. Doug Moeller, Chief Technical Officer, Autonet Mobile, Inc.
  • David Boyes, Operations Coordinator, SESQUInet, First mainframe web server, First Internet tools for VM/CMS, Caretaker, NSS1, Caretaker ENSS3, Author, Chronos Appt Management Protocol, Broadcast operator, IETF telepresence, IETF 28/29
  • Jim Warren, I was one of Vint Cerf’s grad students and worked for a bit on the early protocols for the old ARPAnet ... back before it became the DARPAnet
  • Christopher Nielsen, I have worked for several internet startups, building everything from email and usenet infrastructure to large-scale clusters. I am currently a Sr. Operations Engineer for a product and shopping search engine startup.
  • David Barrett, Founder and CEO of Expensify, former engineering manager for Akamai. I helped build Red Swoosh, which delivers large files for legitimate content owners, and was acquired by Akamai, which hosts 20% of the internet by powering the world's top 20,000 websites.
  • David Hiers, I have designed dozens of Internet edge networks, several transit networks, and currently operate a VOIP infrastructure for 20,000 business subscribers.
  • Jay Reitz, Co-founder and VP of Engineering of, the 60th largest website in the US with 14M monthly US visitors.
  • Peter H. Schmidt, I co-founded the company (Midnight Networks) that created the protocol test software (ANVL) that ensured routers from all vendors could actually interoperate to implement the Internet.
  • Harold Sinclair, design, build, and operate DNS, Mail, and Application platforms on the Internet.
  • John Todd, I invented and operate a DNS-based telephony directory "" which uses the DNS to replace telephone numbers.
  • Christopher Gerstorff, technician for a wireless broadband internet provider, Rapid Systems, Inc.
  • Robert Rodgers, Engineer at Juniper and Cisco. Worked on routers and mobile systems.
  • Illene Jones, I have had a part in creating the software that runs on the servers.
  • Brandon Applegate, I have worked in the ISP sector since the mid-1990s as a network engineer.
  • Leslie Carr, Craigslist Network Engineer

Age of Censorship and Internet Trade Wars

Francis Anthony Govia for the Activist Post

New U.S. legislation will impact every user of the Internet. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” would empower the U.S. Department of Justice to shut down, or block access to, websites found to be dedicated to infringing activities. The bill also contains provisions to block sites with domain names and Top-Level Domains (TLDs) that are maintained by overseas companies, which exist outside the U.S. legal jurisdiction and enforcement mechanism. The Justice Department would obtain court orders directing United States-based Internet Service Providers to stop resolving the IP addresses that allow customers in the United States to access the infringing websites. As a result, the sites will be inaccessible to U.S.-based Web users who do not use some sort of proxy service. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary last Monday; it is sponsored by Senators Hatch, Leahy, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Schumer, Kohl, Specter, Durbin, Bayh, Voinovich, and Feinstein.

The legislation is expected to have strong support in Hollywood, labor unions and manufacturers, but in some circles -- namely grassroots political organizations, alternative press, and Internet start-ups -- the response has been lukewarm, and even questioning. They are concerned that the “other purposes” of the legislation include censorship and, if made law, will employ the Justice Department to police the Internet, eventually resulting in the disruption of the free flow of information and trade globally.

To some extent, their concerns are formed by experience. There have been examples of business censorship, and government legislation to curtail what is viewed on the Internet. Infowars reported recently that “London’s St. Pancras International, one of the biggest transport hubs in the West," implemented “stringent filters that block users of their Wi-Fi service from accessing even mildly political websites." Sites like and were not available to customers in some areas. There are plans in Australia to promulgate legislation to institute a “mandatory, countrywide filtering system," which supporters say is “designed to keep out child abuse content, but which blocks a much wider variety of content and topics." And recently when media reported about an Iranian website with cartoons denying the Holocaust, some viewers in the U.S. discovered that access to the site was blocked.

Granted, there is recognition in Washington that the Internet is the new frontier for global enterprise, but some perceive that Washington still views the world through the lens of a bygone era. A critic of the bill told me that many nations, including the United States, legislate for businesses founded in a brick-and-mortar world; and attempts to regulate the Internet would be like turning back the clock.

“Nations will act independently and this will be detrimental to customers that use the Internet near and far,” advised the critic.

A similar sentiment was echoed by former Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, in a speech at the Foreign Ministry Faculty of International Relations in Tehran. Mr. Prodi suggested that Italy within Europe must play a greater role in matters of global importance, and that may entail Europe’s acting with greater independence of the United States. The message, though given on a different topic, is not one that instills confidence to those who see governments encroaching on their privacy, and would prefer unrestricted use, or less regulation, of the services for which they pay.

The U.S. legislation for infringement is written to tackle many concerns, and is certainly not archaic in regard to lawmakers’ ambition to affect what goes on well beyond the scope of U.S. jurisdiction.

For infringing sites outside the United States, it provides for in rem action in the District of Columbia to prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services directed to U.S. residents. The effect of this “importation” must be that the owner or operator of the infringing site must harm intellectual property rights holders that are residents of the United States.

The Justice Department will be granted power to serve court orders upon the registry where the domain name registrar is not located in the United States, and upon receipt of such an order, the domain registry must suspend operations of, and lock, the domain name of the infringing site.

During the action intended to “lock the domain name," a court may determine, at a minimum threshold, that an Internet site is not conducting business to residents in the United States if the Internet site “states that it is not intended, and has measures to prevent, infringing materials from being accessed in or delivered to the United States,” including other provisions in subsection (d)(2)(B). The owner or operator of the “infringing site” shall also have recourse to petition the Justice Department to remove his domain name from an offending list, or petition the court to modify, suspend, or vacate the order in accordance with subsection (h)(1)(B).

The bill has an immunity clause which protects any entity from a cause of action in U.S. courts or administration agency for any action reasonably calculated to comply with an action intended to prevent the infringing site from continuing to do business with U.S.-based customers, receive financial transactions, and other matters under subsection (e)(3).

The U.S. legislation does not appear to put the onus on any businesses, such as Internet Service Providers, to stop known infringement from occurring. This is an interesting stance. In February, an Australian ISP won a precedent-setting copyright infringement lawsuit (Down Under) against the Motion Picture Industry. The bill sponsors may be cognizant of this ruling.

Softpedia reported that 34 U.S. movie studios and broadcasters filed a lawsuit in Australia against iiNet after the ISP refused to send warning letters to its customers who illegally downloaded movies using BitTorrent. The Australian Justice, Dennis Cowdrey, ruled that while iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding that the ISP authorized the infringing activities. Possibly, Hollywood supporters of the U.S. infringement legislation now agree with Cowdrey’s ruling that to ask ISPs to police the Internet would “open them any number of legal claims for anything that might happen over their pipes,” and that would engender strong opposition to the legislation among ISPs in the United States. However, to take on the responsibility of policing the Internet may not seem a burden to Obama’s Justice Department.

Certainly, Hollywood will welcome any new infringement legislation aimed at stemming the loss of royalties through piracy and copyright violation in the digital age. Infringers often meet efforts to protect intellectual property with resilient and thought-out action to thwart the law. As a law intern in Thailand I learned, for example, that illegal duplication facilities for CDs and DVDs existed in mobile transportation. Persons engaged in copyright violations avoided the ability of local enforcement to easily locate them and shut them down. It is a sure bet that those engaged in infringing activities overseas will find ways and new technology to evade laws promulgated by a foreign government (like the U.S.) that will have no jurisdiction over them.

The Obama Justice Department, which tapped Hollywood lawyers, may be charged to police Intellectual Property -- an assignment to which attorneys for President George W. Bush were “strongly opposed.” The Republican President threatened to veto a previous version of the bill sponsored by the same Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter.

In correspondence to the Senators, attorneys for President Bush wrote that they "strongly opposed" expanding the powers of the Justice Department. Doing so, they said, could undermine the Department’s prosecution of criminal cases and transform it into an office "serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders."

It is obvious during this era when citizens’ rights are curtailed and infringed upon, with the bipartisan sponsorship of the bill and the composition of the current administration, that the infringement legislation has a better chance of becoming law. But will it open a Pandora’s Box? Will it do exactly what critics suspect it is intended to do: censor more of the Internet, create bottlenecks that will allow governments to intrude on the flow of information and services around the world, and do possible damage to a wider spectrum of businesses (other than those it is intended to protect)?

Many of the dynamic economies that U.S. businesses now compete against were born out of things other than a free market; and other economies are driven, or manipulated by State controls, as is the case of China. Foreign nations may follow the U.S. lead in writing laws to regulate the Internet and address their concerns, but not with the results U.S. legislators necessarily hope to engender.

Through retaliation, or even pretext, governments may decide to regulate, or shut down legitimate Internet traffic and services to violate human rights, hinder trade, and to engage in industry espionage. We already have examples of these developments with China’s efforts to regulate Google, and the recent firestorm when India and other nations, acting within their security concerns, decided to take action to regulate Blackberry and gain access to users’ encrypted corporate e-mails and messages. The offices of Sen. Byron L Dorgan and Rep. Sander M. Levin of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China undertook a hearing in March to investigate if China’s efforts to regulate the Internet contravene free trade and human rights. Delegates to the hearing cited that:

China’s Internet users remain subject to the arbitrary dictates of state censorship. More than a dozen agencies are involved in implementing a host of laws, regulations, and other tools to try to keep information and ideas from the Chinese people . . .
China’s censorship practices and control of the Internet have had a terrible impact on human rights advocates. These include ordinary people who promote political freedoms or try to organize online . . . attempting to share information about ongoing government repression.
Internet censorship and regulation in China have serious economic implications for many U.S. companies . . . [and] often run against basic international trade principles of nondiscrimination and maintaining a level playing field.To these charges, China responded that it laws regarding the Internet are not much different than those of the West, and that critics are applying a double standard.

Perhaps U.S. lawmakers have forgotten a cause it often champions: that respect for human rights, deregulation, and open trade are important to a dynamic and properly functioning global community. As ownership of patents, trademarks, and copyrights becomes a contested grey area, nations may block business occurring over the Internet through the guise of copyright infringement. Only the rich and powerful will have the resources to go through the legal hurdles at home and/or abroad to clear their domains of actions to lock them, and resume operations. Damage would be done to a business during the course of a legal action brought against it; its customers may simply believe that the domain ceases to exist, with transactions lost forever.

Small businesses could be shut out of that presumptuous dream of going global and becoming rich, while the elite, big businesses and powerful governments can dominate cyberspace. Many micro-states and individuals could be harmed, and educational pursuits stifled through this world of more legislation, regulation, and censorship.

Why should we be concerned about this future for the Internet?

Well, because the Internet is now everyone’s classroom; and perhaps more-so it has become individuals’ business personality. A properly set up website for a Mom-and-Pop enterprise can look as good as that of a billion dollar company’s front-store. The ramifications of more regulation will result in the free and booming frontier of cyberspace, now functioning as the gold rush for enterprise, ceasing to exist.

The U.S. may find it useful to confer with trading partners in the North and the South, and come to an understanding that perhaps unilateral action is not the way to address concerns in regard to a frontier in which everyone has an interest. President George W. Bush may have gotten it right when his attorneys writing on his behalf to Sens. Leahy and Specter implied, when taken altogether, that U.S. law already provides owners of Intellectual Property with effective legal tools to protect their rights. It need not go in the direction proposed by the Senators.

No one wants Washington’s efforts to backfire and force us to return to a world where we have to resort domestically to find the goods and services that we need, such as cheap medicine. Or, to have to wait on someone in a dusty library to find a book or paper we once could have accessed readily over the Internet. Or, in some far corner of the world men will cower in fear of infringing before they cite links as sources of information. A Big Brother that will censor access to the latest celebrity sex videos, or certain religious texts or even Osama bin Laden’s latest rant (however misguided they may be). The result of this could be that owners of presumed “infringing sites” must raise ungodly sums of money to hire attorneys to clear their domain names, while good sites like WikiLeaks (which make governments accountable for their actions) are shut down or blocked here and abroad through a pretext; and Mom-and-Pop operating a start-up Internet business within the cornfields of America are locked out through action suggested by a smooth operator with deep pockets who knows how to play the system and use it against his competitor, blocking sites because somebody with power did not like the owner's point of view.

Francis Anthony Govia received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Boston University where he studied U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy with teachers who inspired him, such as General Fred F. Woerner (Ret.), Ambassador Stephen R. Lyne (Ret.), and Joseph Fewsmith. He received a law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a contributor to Activist Post.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The President and I (a *must watch* interview of President Ahmadinejad)

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

I was pleasantly surprised when my request for an interview with Mr. Ahmadinejad, Iran's president was accepted. President Ahmadinejad has never shied away from being heard, but these interviews had been exclusive to prominent mainstream media personalities such as Larry King and Charlie Rose. However, it was the mainstream media's projection of Mr. Ahmadinejad that always remained questionable.

On September 21, 2010, on the occasion of President Ahmadinejad's participation at the UN General Assembly, I was given the opportunity to conduct a candid interview with Mr. Ahmadinejad. I had overlooked the fact that such a meeting would be conducted in the presence of the secret service and body guards. No sooner had this reality hit home than Mr. Ahmadinejad's down to earth and easy attitude made me forget the presence of others in the room as we began the session.

The time had come for me to verify or refute a research I had conducted as a Public Diplomacy graduate student while attending USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. At that time, I had examined the media's role in fashioning the image of Mr. Ahmadinejad.   My research posited that though ‘some great men make history, and history makes some men great’, in an age dominated by the media-- internet, television, radio, and newspapers, the portrayal of Ahmadinejad is an artificial construct of the mainstream media. The image portrayed by the media had made him hero to some and a villain to others. Superstar or scapegoat, the Iranian President continues to dominate the news. With help and questions from university students and professors, I was eager to meet the real Ahmadinejad.

Although a full hour had been granted for the interview (more accurately Q&A), regrettably, given the number of questions and the fact that the translation was not simultaneous, many of the questions were left unanswered. To my amazement, President Ahmadinejad granted me a second, follow-up interview (the transcript of which will be forwarded to participating universities).

It is a rewarding experience to bring one's research to a practical conclusion. I firmly believe that Ahmadinejad is misrepresented by the corporate owned media. I leave it up to others to judge for themselves by watching the interview here:

Surviving in a world of zombies: using podcast clients

This is the third article in my series "Surviving in a world of zombies" - you can get part one here and part two here.  Today, I am going to touch upon yet another immensely useful computer based tool: a podcast client.

First, let me remind you what a podcast is.  A podcast is some kind of video or audio recording, often of a show, which is made available for download.  A podcast, also called a webcast, is sometimes streamed live at a specific moment in time, and subsequently made available for download.

The option most people use is to simply either sit in front of their computer when the show is aired, or they go to the website and watch a recorded show.  All of which is fine if you only watch a couple of shows each day.  But what if you want to check out 20 shows each day, and only download the ones which might be of interest to you?  And how are you going to keep track of new shows?  Some of them are weekly or daily shows, but some like Sibel Edmonds' "Boiling Frogs" do not have a regular schedule.

The solution to all that is a good podcast client.

I personally use and recommend gPodder, a free multi-system podcast client which runs on GUN/Linux, BSD, Nokia Maemo-based Internet Tablets, Mac OSX and even, yes, Windoze (is anybody reading my blog *still* using this?).  You can download it here.

gPodder is so easy to use and so intuitive that I am not going to explain anything about its use.  If you have read my previous two articles about how to survive in a word of zombies you know the principle: you look for a show you like, find the rss file or page which refers to "podcast" press control-L ("add new subscription via URL) and that's it.  Just click on "preferences" to tell gPodder how often to check for new shows (my choice is every 360 minutes) and gPodder will automatically keep track of any new shows for you.  When it finds something new, it will pop open a window for you and offer to either download the show, or mark is as "old" meaning "ignore henceforth".

Just like with an RSS reader, you can import and export an OPML file (basically, your subscription list).  Mine is so short, I will simply post it here:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<opml version="2.0">
            gPodder subscriptions
            Mon, 27 Sep 2010 13:12:06 -0400
        <outline text="Interviews of foreign policy experts, writers and activists." title="Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Crossing The Line: Life in Occupied Palestine" title="Crossing The Line: Life in Occupied Palestine" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 850 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the U.S." title="Democracy Now! Audio" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Rewiring the American Regime" title="Electric Politics Podcast" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Each Thursday we talk about Free Libre and Open Source Software with the people who are writing it. Part of the TWiT Netcast Network." title="FLOSS Weekly" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Free Speech Radio News daily half-hour newscast" title="FSRN - Free Speech Radio News - Newscast" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Chris Cook" title="Gorilla Radio" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="&quot;Guns &amp; Butter&quot; investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, &quot;Guns &amp; Butter: The Economics of Politics&quot; reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.Produced and hosted by Bonnie Faulkner.E-mail Bonnie at" title="Guns and Butter [KPFA 94.1 FM, Berkeley CA -]" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Grassroots Non-Corporate Coverage of News and Events in the Palestine-Israel conflict." title="IMEMC Audio" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Open source talk with a serious attitude" title="Linux Outlaws" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Radio Project Front Page Podcast Sun, 26 Sep 2010 23:01:05 PDT" title="Radio Project Front Page Podcast" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Open-publishing and aggregated audio content from across the global Indymedia network." title="" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="" title="Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Venezuela News, Views, and Analysis" title="Venezuela Analysis Audio Podcast" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>
        <outline text="Dedicated to exposing the official lie of September 11th, 2001" title="Visibility 9-11" type="rss" xmlUrl=""/>

This is a mix of various podcast I like to keep an eye on.  If you want, you can simply copy the file above, paste it into any text editor (Notepad for Windoze users) and save it under any name (Saker-podcastlist.opml is fine) and then import it into gPodder. I would like to single out a couple of subscriptions from this short list:

Bonnie Faulkner's "Guns and Butter":  This weekly show is simply the best show in the USA, bar none.  It is based in California, on the Pacifica radio network's KPFK radio station.  The best of the best, I think.

George Kenny's "Electric Politics":  George is a terrific guy and he invites very interesting guest, sometimes on non-political yet most interesting topics.  Always a joy to listen to him.

Radio Project Front Page Podcast.  This is basically a subscription to whatever shows up on this page:  A huge collection of non-corporate radio news.

Visibility 9/11: the longest-running podcast for 9-11 Truth.  This Australian show will keep you updated about news of the 9/11 Turth movement and plenty of good interviews.

gPodder can download both audio and video podcasts so, for example, you can download DemocracyNow! in either format, depending on whether you want to listen to it in your car or watch at home in front of your computer.

Lastly, the gPodder can synchronize the shows on your computer with whatever ogg or mp3 player you have.  My personal recommendation is to avoid iPods and all the other Mac toys and get something solid, more versatile and of better quality.   I use an excellent Cowon iAudio 7 and a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet (which is really a telephone size GNU/Linux computer).  I am also very happy with my Nokia 5230 "Nuron" cellphone which I also use as my music player (and GPS).

Bottom line: a good podcast client like gPodder makes it easy to fetch plenty of excellent shows off the Internet which you can then listen to when driving, shopping, or working.

There is really no excuse to continue to expose yourself to the garbage heaped on you by the corporate media.

The Saker