Monday, November 30, 2009

Massacre in the Philippines

In case any of you didn't know why CIA and US military involvement was bad for democracy in a region, just look at recent events in the Philippines, where US special forces have been training local troops and private militias in "counter-insurgency" for the past 7 years. In late November, a Mayor in Maguindanao brutally massacred 57 people over an election campaign before it had even officially started.

Electoral violence in an underdeveloped region may not be news, but the brutal nature of the massacre and who the victims were shows the level of perceived impunity with which local politicians feel entitled to in this region, largely because they know that US special forces are "training" in their area. Knowing that muslim insurgents/terrorists/bandits can always be blamed, warlord politicians don't even need to be physically protected by the green berets and "civilian contractors", because they know that as long as they're delivering votes to the puppet regime in Manila, the wheels of justice will be greased in their favor.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plan Sudamerica

Latin America
“A critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from... anti-US governments".
-USAF proposal for FY2010 military construction program

Scary stuff goin on in the Western Hemisphere, from a recent article in the The Independent:

The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent.

The new US push is part of an effort to counter the loss of influence it has suffered recently at the hands of a new generation of Latin American leaders no longer willing to accept Washington's political and economic tutelage.

The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the US Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region's waters in 2008. The fleet's vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed submarines – a deployment seen by some experts as a violation of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear weapons from the continent.

Consider that prior to 9-11, investigative journalists Mike Ruppert and Peter Dale Scott were calling Colombia and Venezuela
“The Next Vietnam.”
Indicators of the imminence of conflict are not to be found in whether the Senate or the House chops or adds a few dollars or helicopters which can all be restored without fanfare to the Foreign Aid Bill in Conference Committee at the last minute. They are to be found in the movements and actions of money, the U.S. military and some CIA/DoD connected corporations, possibly using "sheep-dipped" CIA and military personnel disguised as employees of private companies in roles that can only expand the conflict.

Colombia has oil, but not nearly as much as Venezuela, which has replaced Cuba as US public enemy #1 in the region. It's pretty obvious what is really going on, right?

Earlier this year, Foreign Policy in Focus wrote this report on developments in the region:
Two of the bases are clustered near each other on the Caribbean coast, not far from existing U.S. military sites in Aruba and Curaçao – and closer to Venezuela than to the Pacific Ocean. Why are U.S. negotiators apparently forgoing Pacific air sites, if the drug war remains part of the U.S. military mission? What missions "beyond Colombia's borders" are U.S. planners contemplating?

Still wondering what US interests in the region might be?

Even if you take these developments at face value, and actually believe that the US is merely interested in counter-insurgency training in its own hemisphere, please note that counter-insurgency/counter-narcotics/counter-terror operations all result in the same thing:
The history of U.S. anti-drug aid in Latin America…has primarily been one where "anti-drug" training, advisers and equipment get used to kill civilians opposing military dictatorships instead.
-From The Wilderness

For a little background on the Clinton-era "Plan Colombia/Andean Initiative" check out more of Ruppert's writing on the subject from several years ago.
With bases in place for 10 years and more, and the secrecy that accompanies such installations, the proposed agreement would constitute an end-run around the struggles to make U.S. policy in Colombia and the region less militarized.

Colombia has been the hemisphere's largest recipient of U.S. military aid since 2000, under Plan Colombia — more than $5 billion to date. Purportedly designed to halve the cocaine trade and subsequently refashioned to include fighting terrorism, the results of counter-drug programs have been a complete waste. There's been no overall decline in land planted with coca, nor in the amount of cocaine available in the United States. "Street prices" have held steady or dipped lower than when Plan Colombia began during the Clinton administration.

Actually, business has been booming.
After 10 years of eradication efforts, Colombia now has more than 575,750 acres of coca-plant cultivation -- a 25 percent increase! The United Nations reports that cultivation increased by 27 percent over the last year, and Colombia still produces 90 percent of the world's cocaine.
-Joel Brinkley, Cleveland Plain Dealer Op-ed, March 2009

Oh yeah, and here is another reason why US military occupation is bad:
Another sticky point is judicial immunity for U.S. soldiers and contractors, sought by Washington. In October 2007, two U.S. soldiers reportedly raped a 12-year-old Colombian girl at a U.S. facility inside a Colombian base, and were whisked away from Colombia rather than face trial there. But Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez says U.S. soldiers will continue to enjoy such immunity under the accord.
-Foreign Policy in Focus

Swine Flu

So in order to pre-emptively let off some steam about a topic that will surely come up over thanksgiving dinner, let me just state very clearly, categorically, that I am very skeptical about the H1N1 flu and vaccine. My parents, both of whom used to work in the health care profession, seem convinced that I absolutely HAVE to get the vaccine.
Because I am a working class mud person, I have Kaiser health insurance. They are currently not allowing me to get a vaccine, and I have no problem with that. I hesitantly allowed my son to get the vaccine about 2 months ago, because he's a child, and children have proven to be susceptible to the virus. Not so much for adults, and I have a healthy immune system, and I also think that a fever, cough, headache, tiredness, or even nausea is a fair trade for a few days off from work.
More importantly though, there are legitimate questions about the safety, efficacy, and NEED for the vaccine.
I've been skeptical about swine flu mania since the very beginning (usually, when things get blamed on Mexico, the US is invariably to blame), and some recent events in the Ukraine raise some very pertinent questions that we all need to ask ourselves about who really benefits from mass hysteria over otherwise non-hysterical events.

Politicians in the Ukraine are capitalizing on a flu outbreak in that country in advance of elections in January. The President and Prime Minister are jockeying to proclaim to be the only candidate that can save the masses from the evil flu outbreak, which had a very rapid onset. In response, people are overreacting at the first hint of any related symptoms and hoarding supplies like surgical masks, flu remedies, and even garlic and lemon.

"What we're seeing is a normal psychological reaction to the complete incompetence of the state authorities. People are scared and they don't know who to trust any more."
-Semon Gluzman, a psychiatrist in Kiev, Ukraine

What's worse is that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has declared martial law in response to the outbreak, curtailing freedom of assembly in the final two months of a close election campaign, and he's even gone so far as to enact quarantine zones with mandatory vaccination policies in various parts of the country. Independent reports are alleging that thousands are dead within these quarantine zones, perhaps from the vaccine itself, and not from the flu virus.
News reports out of the country are unclear, but suffice it to say, something very fishy is going on over there.

We do know that the Ukrainian flu is similar to swine flu, but it isn't the swine flu.
We also know that politicians are trying to capitalize on the outbreak, and the public doesn't know who to believe.

Please people, don't believe the hype. Use your brain, do some research, and make your own decisions.

FYI - Kaiser is not sounding any alarms about H1N1 virus, and I don't believe that they are just trying to be cheap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I can't think of any human being more deserving of international celebrity. Manny makes me proud to be a Filipino not because he is one of the greatest boxers in history, but more so because of who he is as a person. His achievement in his sport is a direct result of his motivations, values, work ethic, humility, and most of all, his humanity. Seeing him walk out on Saturday, with "Eye of the Tiger" blaring, with a sincere and genuine smile that I'm sure lit up the entire world on his way to what has thus far been the fight of this century was truly a great moment in sports history.
I mean seriously, dude booked himself a concert gig the same night as the fight. He could only hear out of one ear, so he must've sung horribly.
When all is said and done, Manny's impact on humanity will far surpass his impact on the sport of boxing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Biking Oakland

Meet the Scraper Bike King

npr interview

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gary King, Jr. mural back, and he's brought some friends with him too

After BART officials buffed the mural commemorating Gary King, Jr., who was murdered by OPD Sgt. Pat Gonzalez, artists have returned to make sure that the community never forgets.
More pics on Indybay

Unjust: Trying Cops in Copland

How many change-of-venue motions by defendants were granted in California during the entire year of 2008? None! And the legal trend is away from granting them (according to news reports and the Alameda County District Attorney’s motion opposing the venue change). Yet in this case, an exception was made.

Asking for a change of venue has been used repeatedly to acquit cops who’ve committed the most heinous crimes. And when these motions are granted, it usually means searching for a rural or suburban venue where a lot of people don’t believe a cop would murder a Black man in cold blood and for no reason in front of witnesses, as happened to Oscar Grant.
-Revolution #182, November 8, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

OPD and building relationships with the Community

The “For A Safe Town” event was billed as a peace promotion event. Attendees were asked to sign a peace pledge before entering. Cops, however, did not have to sign that pledge, and were even allowed to bring guns into the park.

Their overwhelming numbers kept many residents of the community away, and created traffic problems.

In the wake of the Riders and Gary King Jr., and set against the back drop of killer BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s victory in court, I can’t think of a more confrontational stunt than what OPD pulled during a basketball game between them and the community.

They wore shirts threatening retaliation for Lovelle Mixon.
That ain’t bridge-building.
That’s infinite war.