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Cindy Sheehan discusses the new Venezuelan Constitution as a model for reforming the U.S. Constitution in the direction of greater democratic and economic rights, as well as the politics of Hugo Chavez, and her new book, Revolution: A Love Story. Cindy Sheehan is a leading U.S. peace actvist, a gold star mother, an author, blogger, and radio host.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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By John Grant
Whore: (verb) To debase oneself by doing something for unworthy motives, typically to make money.
-The New Oxford American Dictionary
It’s a challenge to make adult sense of the absurdities coming out of Colombia right now.
By John Grant
The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.
In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.
By John Grant
I could have been a vicious raving monster who killed and killed and left towers of rotting flesh in my wake. Instead, here I was on the side of truth, justice and the American way. Still a monster, of course, but I cleaned up nicely afterward, and I was OUR monster, dressed in red, white and blue 100 percent synthetic virtue.
Dearly Devoted Dexter
I teach creative writing in a maximum security prison in Philadelphia. During the week I scour two thrift shops for 35-cent paperbacks that I haul in to stock a small lending library I created for inmates. Amazingly, the prison had no library.
Imagine that your son, your darling little boy, was killed during the past eight years in a war that served purely to kill a whole lot of Iraqis and enrich a small number of billionaires, while causing horrible environmental damage, stripping away our civil liberties, and poisoning foreign relations elsewhere. And imagine that, instead of avoiding this reality or lying about it, you confronted it. Further, imagine that you became so famous confronting it, that everybody wanted to be your friend, at least for a minute. You might even get invited to Venezuela by President Hugo Chavez, and you might go with a mind open to hearing what he had to say.
Cindy Sheehan did. And now she's published a book about it. If Venezuela makes it to the top of the list for the next U.S. war, this book will be a valuable tool for confronting the propaganda. But why wait? Our government has attempted a coup and is openly funding opposition groups. Why wait to consider what it is we're paying to try to undo?
Venezuela could be targeted for its oil, of course. But Cindy proposes another reason why the government in Washington, D.C., that we all so love to hate except when it kills lots of people, might be targeting Venezuela. In an interview included in the book, she asks Chavez: "Why do you think the Empire makes such a concerted effort to demonize you?" His response, which has been translated from Spanish, is:
"I think for different reasons. But I've gotten to the conclusion there is one particular strong reason, a big reason. They are afraid, the Empire is afraid. The Empire is afraid that the people of the United States might find out about the truth, they are afraid that something like that could erupt in their own territory -- a Bolivarian movement; or a Lincoln movement -- a movement of citizens, conscious citizens to transform the system. . . . So, why do they demonize us? They know -- those who direct the Empire -- they know the truth. But they fear the truth. They fear the contagious effect. They fear a revolution in the United States. They fear an awakening of the people in the United States. And so that's why they do everything they can. And they achieve it, relatively, that a lot of sectors in the United States see us as devils. No one wants to copy the devil."
But we might copy some little things even from the devil if they were worth copying. What is it that Sheehan and Chavez think might be contagious if we found out about it?
This is why the book is a valuable resource now, threat or no threat, war or no war. It's a story of a people's movement, largely nonviolent. It's a story of dramatic change that was slow in coming and then burst into fruition. It's a story of a work in progress that is moving in positive directions, investing in education, protecting the environment, raising the living standards of the majority of the people. Can a new political party succeed? Yes, it can. Can an outworn Constitution be rewritten at great length and well by a popular movement? Yes, it can. (PDF). Cindy lists some of the changes brought by this Constitution:
· added a "people's branch"
· added an "election's branch"
· citizens are able to recall the president
· health care is enshrined as a human right
· education is enshrined as a human right
· gender inclusivity in the language
· equal rights for women under the law
· only the people can amend the document
· aggressive indigenous rights
· commits the power of the state to protect the environment
The horror! I know some USians who don't dare HOPE for such a CHANGE. I even know some who are learning that such changes are perfectly possible, but that they don't come about through hoping, or through voting alone.
The weakness of the Venezuelan revolution, however, is very similar to the weakness of US liberalism. Each pins its hopes on a single messiah. Of course, Chavez is making the poor richer, while Obama is making the rich richer. But it appears entirely possible that positive movement in Venezuela will be thrown into reverse when Chavez dies. Chavez ought to be teaching his nation not to depend on one man. He ought to step down while alive and well enough to help guide his successor. He ought to move on to a focus on uniting the nations of South America. That he does not do this seems to me a mark against his character. But it does not change the fact that the Venezuelan people have been empowered to rule by referendum, while in the United States the presidency has been made more powerful than that of Venezuela -- and without the addition of direct democracy. The Venezuelan Constitution has already been amended, by public referendum. The U.S. Constitution hasn't been touched in 40 years except through dramatic changes imposed by the Supreme Court or the President.
The question that my mind focuses on in reading Cindy's account is not, however, what can I find wrong with Chavez. It's this: Can we make an Occupy movement worthy of the title Bolivarian?
In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:
"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."
Beating Up on Chavez - by Stephen Lendman
Since inaugurated in February 1999, he's faced open US hostility, including by go-along major media scoundrels.
By John Grant
Hugo Chavez is at it again, sticking his thumb into the eye of the overbearing United States of America. And, true to imperial historical form, the US is playing the outraged hemispherical nanny and blustering back.
Chavez is currently playing a round of the game my-enemy’s-enemy-is-my-friend and is hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas. The Iranian president is on a tour of friendly leftist regimes in Latin America, while the leaders of our great nation whistle and look at the ceiling when Israeli agents murder Iranian scientists in broad daylight.
Marcelo Raimon, Proceso
WASHINGTON, 27 de mayo (apro).- Mientras el pasado miércoles 25 en Londres el presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, prometía --junto al primer ministro de Gran Bretaña, David Cameron--, “incrementar la presión” sobre el régimen libio, en Washington la Cámara de Representantes debatía intensamente la posibilidad de conceder al jefe de la Casa Blanca todavía mayores poderes para combatir al “terrorismo” en cualquier lugar del planeta.
El proyecto 1034 de la nueva ley de autorización de gastos para el ministerio de Defensa es tan ambigua, que hace posible la entrega al presidente de un permiso para llevar la guerra contra Al Qaeda donde sea, por lo que varias organizaciones de derechos civiles, como la American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lanzaron, por ahora sin suerte, una campaña urgente para presionar al Congreso.
BY NOBEL PRIZE WINNER ADOLFO PEREZ ESQUIVEL, BUENOS AIRES, MAY 5, 2011:
FROM NOBEL TO NOBEL
In addressing you I do it fraternally and, at the same time, to express my concern and indignation after witnessing the destruction and death caused in several nations in the name of “freedom and democracy”, two words that have been twisted and stripped of meaning, and how you end up justifying murder, which was cheered up as if you were talking about a sports event.
My indignation refers to the big celebration of this assassination by North American social sectors, chiefs of state in Europe and other countries…a murder ordered by your administration and the satisfaction in your smiling face while stating that it was “in the name of justice”.
By Catherine Hornby
ROME | Wed May 18, 2011
(Reuters) - Up to 27 million people are modern-day slaves, and migrants fleeing violence in North Africa are among those most at risk of being exploited, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Countries where migrants arrive should try to identify potential victims and protect them, rather than opting for immediate repatriation which often sends them back into the hands of human traffickers, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said.
Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing turmoil in North Africa, with many trying to reach Europe by boat, but the problem of slavery exists all over the world and India, Thailand and Malaysia are among the worst-affected countries.
Resurrecting the Bogus FARC-EP Files/Venezuela Connection - by Stephen Lendman
The story surfaced in March 2008 after Colombia's military, with US Special Forces help, attacked a FARC-EP rebel camp in Ecuador. Over 20 people were killed, including 16 or more FARC-EP members while they slept. Key among them was Paul Reyes, the FARC-EP's second-in-command, their peace negotiator, public voice, and lead figure in the Chavez-led hostage negotiations with Colombia at the time.
Tensions rose when Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos Calderon said three laptops and other materials were found at the FARC-EP camp. Containing provocative evidence, he said, it showed a Chavez/Ecuadorean President Raphael Correa link to FARC-EP rebels, including Venezuela providing them weapons, munitions, and about $300 million.
By Ron Ridenour
(Part II of journalist Ridenour’s political autobiography, Solidarity and Resistance: 50 Years With Che)
Wilfred Burchett was a key source of information for many of us who wanted to understand what the United States was doing against Southeast Asians. Burchett was an intrepid reporter for decades. He was the first correspondent to enter Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing and brought the world the military-censored news of its horrors.
(This article is the first of seven pieces dedicated to the Cuban revolution and its defeat of the US imperialist invasion 50 years ago, April 17-19, 1961, and embraces my half-century struggle.)
I. Sharing Che’s Activism
Che’s penetrating eyes stare at me seriously as I write about him. It is strange that I have never written about him before, other than to quote him. Perhaps it is because Che has been too large a figure for me to tackle? I don’t know. This writing, though, is a commemoration of Che and of my 50 years in our common struggle.
Ernesto Guevara was my greatest personal inspiration and Cuba’s revolution was my greatest collective inspiration—along with the Vietnamese resistance fighters. Nicknamed Che, an Argentine expression, he lived and died as he preached. Che’s internationalist ideals, his consequent actions, his integrity and charm, have influenced my life all these decades.
Evidence of Quid Pro Quo with Guerrilla, Paramilitary Groups Contradicts 2007 Plea Deal
Colombian Military Officials Encouraged, Facilitated Company's Payments to Death Squads
More than 5,500 Pages of Chiquita Records Published Online by National Security Archive
March 2000 notes of Chiquita Senior Counsel Robert Thomas indicate awareness that payments were for security services.
By John Grant
“And we never really face what is in front of us, never face what is inside our gutless language of cartels and drug lords and homeland security, never face that forces are unleashed on the land with names like poverty, a fix, murder, and despair, and our tools cannot master these forces. …Things happen and no one says much. Then after a while, no one admits the thing even happened.”
--Charles Bowden on life in Ciudad Juarez
US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual resigned last week after cables he sent were released by WikiLeaks suggesting he thought Mexican police and military forces were crippled by corruption.
Truth was no defense in Pascual’s case.
Warns Any Radiation Exposure Is Unsafe
Washington, DC - March 19, 2011 – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) today called for a nationwide
moratorium on new nuclear reactors in the United States and a suspension of operations at the nuclear reactors with a similar design as those involved in the disaster in Japan, as well as those on fault lines. PSR cited the medical risks associated with any level of radiation exposure regardless of how small. Lower doses result in less chance of harm than higher doses, but any dose level can put an individual at risk.
By Ron Ridenour
The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) has set April 2011, the 50th anniversary of the revolution’s victory over the US-Cuban exile mercenary force at the Bay of Pigs, for its 6th Congress. I follow this process with special attention, in part, because I participated in the PCC’s 4th congress preparatory discussion, in 1991.
Like millions of others around the world, I feel the Cuban revolution was (and is) fought for me too. Cubans, including their leader Fidel Castro, help make us feel so. For instance, as recounted in the bookCastro's Cuba, Cuba's Fidel Fidel told Lee Lockwood: “Those who are exploited are our compatriots all over the world; and the exploiters all over the world are our enemies... Our country is really the whole world, and all the revolutionaries of the world are our brothers.”
State Department documents published by Wikileaks evidence Washington's plans to "contain" Venezuela's influence in the region and increase efforts to provoke regime change
By Eva Golinger
A substantial portion of the more than 1600 State Department documents Wikileaks has published during the past two weeks refer to the ongoing efforts of US diplomacy to isolate and counter the Venezuelan government.
Since Hugo Chavez won the presidency for the first time in 1998, Washington has engaged in numerous efforts to overthrow him, including a failed coup d'etat in April 2002, an oil industry strike that same year, worldwide media campaigns and varios electoral interventions. The State Department has also used its funding agencies, USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to channel millions of dollars annually to anti-Chavez NGOs, political parties, journalists and media organizations in Venezuela, who have been working to undermine the Chavez administration and force him from power. When these interventionist policies have been denounced by the Chavez government and others, Washington has repeatedly denied any efforts to isolate or act against the Venezuelan head of state.
Nonetheless, the State Department cables published by Wikileaks clearly evidence that not only has Washington been actively funding anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela, but it also has engaged in serious efforts during the past few years to convince governments worldwide to assume an adversarial position against President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez Given Enabling Law Power - by Stephen Lendman
On December 17, parliament gave Chavez enabling law power in response to torrential rains and severe floods that ravaged Venezuelan communities, killed at least 35, destroyed over 5,000 homes, and displaced about 120,000 or more people in 11 of the country's 23 states. He asked for one year. Parliament gave him 18 months to deal with the crisis.
National Assembly President Cilia Flores said it was needed to help "people who are relying" on him to help. "So that they can have their street, their highways, public services, electricity, everything to live in dignity, we are going to hear (their) proposals and concerns," then respond accordingly.
More on how it works below. Despite opposition and media criticism (in Venezuela and America), it's not about seizing dictatorial powers, nor has Chavez done it since taking office in February 1999.
By John Grant
It was the fifteenth time I’d trekked to Columbus, Georgia, to the gate of Fort Benning, for the annual November demonstration to close the School of the Americas.
Since 1989, following the murder of six Jesuit priests in San Salvador by graduates of the SOA, the effort to close it down has been led by Mary Knoll priest Father Roy Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran and a priest who served in Bolivia during a very violent period hostile to priests sympathetic to the plight of the poor. The school is used to train foreign soldiers.
Bourgeois is a legend for a famous and clever act of civil disobedience. Dressed as an Army colonel, he went on post, climbed a tree and chained himself and a large boom box to the tree outside the barracks where Salvadoran soldiers were sleeping.
New CIA Report Says Fatal Shootdown of Missionary Plane Could Have Been Prevented
5 November 2010 - CIA officials caused the deaths of an American mother and child in a tragic plane shootdown above Peru, according to a blistering new report, by operating a counter-drug program outside the rules for six years and then lying about it to their superiors.
More on Washington's Failed Ecuadorean Coup Attempt - by Stephen Lendman
For nearly two centuries, America dismissively called Latin America its "backyard," the 1823 Monroe Doctrine asserting a declaration of regional dominance, stating:
"....as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any
European powers....we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.... (impossible to) behold....with indifference."
Thereafter, it was all downhill against Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Panama, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Grenada, Venezuela, and at one time or another, practically all other parts of the Americas, directly or indirectly.
Failed Washington-Sponsored Ecuadorean Coup Attempt - by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, Washington sponsored four coup d'etats. Two succeeded - mostly recently in Honduras in 2009 against Manuel Zelaya, and in Haiti in 2004 deposing Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two others failed - in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez, and on September 30 in Ecuador against Rafael Correa - so far. Two by Bush, two by Obama with plenty of time for more mischief before November 2012.
From his record so far, expect it. He continues imperial Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations. In addition, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, North Korea, and other countries are targeted, besides deploying CIA and Special Forces armies into at least 75 countries worldwide for targeted assassinations, drone attacks, and other disruptive missions.
Washington D.C. (September 30, 2010) – After the President of Ecuador was injured in what he called an attempted Coup D’état, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today wrote to President Obama, urging him to make it clear that the United States will only recognize the democratically elected government of Ecuador led by President Rafael Correa.
The full text of the letter follows:
September 30, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
I write to express my deep concern over reports of violence and a possible attempted coup in Ecuador.
Reports indicate that violence in the country is at such a level that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has been hospitalized and that police seem to have also shut down the main airport. It appears as though the government is attempting to stabilize the country without resorting to violence.
Washington, D.C. - There are currently reports of a possible attempted coup d'etat underway in Ecuador. There have been violent protests by police and some elements of the military, reports that President Correa has been injured, and reports that the air force has closed down a number of airports.
The Organization of American States will convene an emergency meeting at 2:30 Eastern Standard Time in Washington D.C., to consider the situation.
Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center For Economic and Policy Research, called upon President Obama to state unequivocally that the United States will not recognize any government other than the democratically elected government of President Rafael Correa.