All Notebook Entries
- Posted by Don Henry Ford Jr. - January 8, 2005 at 2:00 pmAt the time, I had no idea just how fortunate I was to have been busted when I was. The year was 1986, the arrest my second after a year spent as a fugitive in the remote mountains of Northern Mexico, an area referred to as the despoblado.
While I awaited my sentence, the new law came into effect. I saw people coming in for similar offensessmuggling drugsonly they were subject to a different standard than I was. Many of these inmates were unable to understand the legalese so I studied the guidelines to help decipher what they were facing. Not even their defense attorneys fully understood the implications of this new law.
- Posted by Bill Conroy - January 6, 2005 at 11:20 pm
Do you feel safer since 9/11?
Apparently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks were back to business as usual. How else can we explain the new national cell-phone contract recently put into place within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?
Remember, ICE is one of the DHS agencies on the front lines of the so-called wars on terror and drugs. But according to sources within DHS, federal bureaucrats apparently dont want ICE agents to do much talking among themselves, or with their confidential informants, in the course of going into the battlefield in those wars.
- Posted by Benjamin Melançon - January 6, 2005 at 8:08 pmToday is Thursday, January 6, the day of the certification of the electors, and after this (part-time) reporter got home from his paying job he sought some true news about the challenge to this in Congress and the protests on the streets. Where to look but the internet? After trying truthout.org, guerillanews.com, and commondreams.org, I was forced to go to cnn.com to find the bury-the-news headline "Bush carries Electoral College after delay" and the nearly information-free story that followed it.
That CNN story proves the need for a network of authentic journalism that can at least report honestly on public events.
- Posted by Benjamin Melançon - January 6, 2005 at 9:02 amDemocratic members of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives called for thorough investigation of the disenfranchisement of voters in Ohio before the U.S. presidential election is certified in a report released yesterday:
We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.
When Congress meets in joint session to certify the electoral college vote today, it appears "all but certain [as of early evening yesterday] that House Democrats had secured the support of up to half a dozen Senators to formally challenge the Electoral College slate from Ohio," reported Keith Olbermann at MSNBC.com yesterday.
- Posted by Bill Conroy - January 5, 2005 at 9:39 pmDon Henry Ford Jr. is a polite fellow. Hes likely to end most sentences with sir or maam and has all the mannerisms of a down-to-earth Texas cowboy.
And like many cowboys Ive run across, Ford has a knack for telling stories. But in this cowboys case, the stories are true.
Ford has a love for nature, for ranching, for growing crops, herding cattle and tending to horses. Hes ridden bucking broncos that can break your back, stared down bulls that will rip open your abdomen and delivered foals in the open range. Ford also can make refried beans from scratch, serve up a mouth-watering plate of Texas barbeque, raise crops on the scorched earth of West Texas and find water in the parched desert of northern Mexico.
Yes, he is a true cowboy, who spent a good part of his youth on a ranch in West Texas along the Pecos River, where he learned that the only cash crop in that part of the world is the one that takes money out of a ranchers pockets.
That economic reality helped drag Ford into the heart of the drug war. That is Fords story, which he tells from the heart in his new book: Contrabando, Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy.
- Posted by Al Giordano - January 3, 2005 at 10:01 amMy friend and fellow expat George has written me an open letter and published it on the Internet.
Ive never had an open letter addressed to me before. And neither Emily Posts nor Quentin Crisps guides to good manners indicate what is the proper etiquette when receiving one. So Ill improvise and respond simply as if it is a regular letter or email from a valued colleague and truth-teller
- Posted by Benjamin Melançon - January 3, 2005 at 9:39 amPeople stand in place in a line turning a corner from the Shepard Branch Library, into the rain and the dark, down a hill and then a path in the woods. "Oh my goodness," said the volunteer from Election Protection, four times, as she walked up the line and videotaped the citizens of this part of Columbus, Ohio. Another volunteer who has monitored the situation all day at this precinct, 6C, explained that there were just three voting machines for more than 1,100 registered voters. Waits have ranged from one to two-and-a-half hours, which is where it stood at 6 o'clock with at least 150 people in the line. "Are you going to pass out food?" someone jokes to the Election Protection volunteer. "We're waiting in line to vote. We're waiting in line to vote," a Black woman's voice calls from the darkness.
- Posted by Reber Boult - January 2, 2005 at 10:29 pmThey're doing it with video games.
In Gary Webb's final weeks, The Sacramento News & Review published his piece on the U.S. military's devising and releasing some video games to recruit, profile its recruits, and generally penetrate civilian society. http://www.newsreview.com/issues/sacto/2004-10-14/ cover.asp. Released so far are the shooter games "America's Army," "Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror," and the more tightly targeted recruitment tool "Special Forces."
Some quotations from Webb's article:
- Posted by Al Giordano - January 2, 2005 at 8:33 pm
"We may be through with the past but the past is not through with us."
- Ricky Jay (from the film "Magnolia")
A New Year's Eve rebel uprising takes the police station, and several blocks, by surprise, in the Peruvian town of Andahuyalas. The insurgents include - according to a report by Reuters - at least seven women soldiers. Their spokesman - Major Antauro Humala - is one of two brothers who led a similar rebellion against president-dictator Alberto Fujimori, a largely symbolic uprising that led to Fujimori's downfall.
The other brother - Ollanta Humala - was recently purged from Peru's military and is in a kind of reserve exile in South Korea, where he had been sent as the military attaché of his country's Embassy.
The rebels, according to Reuters, believe "in nationalizing industry and legalizing the coca crops that make cocaine." And they call for the resignation of President Alejandro Toledo - currently at only nine-percent support according to public opinion polls - as they did against Fujimori in the year 2000.
Today, in the town square, after shaking the nation and the hemisphere with this bold act, Major Antauro Humala announced that at noon tomorrow (Monday) his 200-plus soldiers will lay down their arms and turn themselves in.
There are two recent historic parallels: One in Mexico, the other in Venezuela... And history, again, as a New Year begins, knocks on the door of our América...
- Posted by Bill Conroy - December 30, 2004 at 7:59 pmU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release earlier this month announcing a plea agreement had been reached with an accused cigarette smuggler, Jorge Abraham. What the press release does not mention is that the Abraham case is linked to another major smuggling case involving Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who, U.S. prosecutors allege, is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Juárez drug organization.
Santillan is charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder allegedly carried out as part of a continuing criminal enterprise a crime that can get him a death sentence in the U.S. justice system. A confidential informant, who allegedly had attained high standing within the Juarez organization, played a critical role in snaring Santillan.
The informants name is Jesus Contreras, who is also known by the nickname Lalo.
Narco News published a major exposé in late April of this year (called The House of Death) that revealed Contreras, as part of his role in infiltrating the Santillan organization, was implicated in a series of murders in Ciudad Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town. Contreras, according to sources, participated in many of those murders.
- Posted by Sean Donahue - December 29, 2004 at 3:18 pmU.S. authorities have remained strangely silent regarding the Colombian government's decision to delay or cancel the extradition of AUC Chief Salvatore Mancuso on cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges.
- Posted by Nancy Davies - December 24, 2004 at 1:08 pmParticipation and Democracy: Why arent the people the government?
In the USA if you bring an uninvited guest to a sit-down meal youre violating a profound commitment to exclusion. In Oaxaca, on the other hand, the host is appreciative. The more the people who participate, the more confirmed everyone feels. One has support in what one undertakes, one is part of a community, and everyone provides mutual reification.
- Posted by George Salzman - December 24, 2004 at 3:10 amThe election is being strongly contested. Join in! Don't give up!
This is not the time to fall into a state of depressed resignation over Bushs supposed victory. Although the mainstream media has continued for almost two months now to foster a belief in the inevitability of renewed Republican rule for another four years, the chips arent all in yet. The corporate media is struggling mightily to hide them.
Representative John Conyers of Michigan and his Democratic colleagues on the House Committee on the Judiciary have held meetings in Washington DC and in Columbus OH revealing the presence of massive fraud in Ohio. The website http://truthout.com/ has substantial coverage, but in the so-called mainstream these revelations are . . .
- Posted by Benjamin Melançon - December 22, 2004 at 12:47 pmThe subhead of the December 20 Miami Herald article "Bolivia approves natural gas law" is enough to know that the proposed law is a victory, of sorts, for the social movements: "Law may stop investment in the sector, cause massive lawsuits."
In November, Herald reporter Tyler Bridges wrote, the House gave preliminary approval to a Movement Toward Socialism measure to have the state unilaterally seize control of the natural gas reserves and impose an immediate and much higher tax than President Carlos Mesa proposed.
- Posted by Andrei Tudor - December 22, 2004 at 11:04 amHere are some documents obtained under FOIA by the ACLU, detailing some of the torture techniques employed by the army investigators in Irag and at Guantanamo Bay. They are heavily edited and they don't reveal a lot of new information (it's been known for a while that the prisoners are being tortured), but they do link some of the torture techniques with executive orders signed by Bush.
- Posted by Irene Roca Ortiz - December 21, 2004 at 7:44 pmComme dans beaucoup de pays dits « en développement » la question de la gestion de ressources naturelles et le coût daccès à celles-ci est au cur des conflits politiques boliviens. Un an après la « Guerre du Gaz », la gestion des hydrocarbures boliviens oppose de plus en plus les boliviens entre eux et sert de miroir de la ségrégation de plus en plus criante non seulement dans la société bolivienne, mais des pays.
Loin de se prétendre exhaustif, cet article retrace les événements qui ont conduit à la situation actuelle, où il y a de leau dans le gaz
*NOTA A LOS NARCONUSISTAS: Se trata de un articulo que intenta dar cierta perspectiva al problema del gas en Bolivia, destinado al publico francés que conoce poco la cuestion. Una version corregida aparecera en una revista trimestral independiente francesa. Una version en español estara disponible dentro de poco*
- Posted by - December 20, 2004 at 4:33 amThis morning the Guerilla News Network released a new video, "Gary Webb: In His Own Words." Based on interview footage shot during the 2003 School of Authentic Journalism, it's both a moving tribute to a hero of authentic journalism and a plainspoken discussion of the Dark Alliance CIA/contra/cocaine story; what it meant and how it was attacked.
Watch it online at the GNN site here:
- Posted by Benjamin Melançon - December 18, 2004 at 1:13 pmMore than 10,000 people poured into the streets in Cap Haitian, Haiti's second-largest city, to demand Aristide's return and an end to repression reported the Haiti Information Project (HIP). The December 16 event marked the anniversary of Aristide and Lavalas' first electoral victory in 1990. It was one of the first large demonstrations allowed to be held peacefully since a U.S.-chosen government took power after the February 29th coup de etat.
UN troops publicly guarded businesses' private property from the protesters. Two days before the demonstration, UN and government troops had done nothing while paramilitaries seized Aristide's home.
Moise Jean-Charles, founder of a local peasant movement called Movement of Milot Peasants (MPM) and popular mayor of the town of Milot, quietly joined the crowd to very loud joy as people realized his presence. He has been in hiding since Haitian police and UN troops invaded his home on June 14th. At least 700 political prisoners remain in jail in Haiti, even after the high-profile arrest and release of Father Gerard Jean-Juste.
- Posted by Bill Conroy - December 17, 2004 at 9:23 pmIt's funny how things come back to you when you lose a friend.
As I was smoking a cigarette on my patio the other night, thinking about Gary Webb and how everything I stood for in journalism was now quaking under my feet, I recalled that Gary told me there was one person, in particular, that he trusted completely: journalist Chuck Bowden.
Gary had once told me that he would trust Chuck Bowden with his life.
So in the wake of Garys recent death, I decided to look up Bowden and give him a call.
- Posted by Al Giordano - December 17, 2004 at 1:24 pm
From a former journalist in the United States, to my mailbox, to your eyes
I never met Gary Webb, or, really, knew much about him. I remember hearing about how he was fired from the California Assembly staff, and the back-stabbing way in which it was done -- he was an investigator, he was out in the field investigating, and when he got back they told him he was fired because he wasn't in the office (the real reason of course being that the new Speaker of the Assembly wanted to clean house and put his own cronies in place, cronies who wouldn't dig up embarrassing dirtlike Gary did) -- but did not think much about it at the time. Gary had, after all, been effectively dead for all intents and purpose since 1997, when the entire newspaper industry turned its collective back to him and shat upon him. This was just another case of Gary getting comfortable, doing things the way he had always done them under the assumption that his bosses would support him because he was doing a good job, then getting shat upon for doing his job too well. CYA was never, apparently, Gary's thing. I figured he'd shrug, and move on to something else.
As we know now, he didn't...
- Posted by Andrew Stelzer - December 16, 2004 at 10:01 pmWhen I heard Gary was gone, my first instinct was to go to the tape. My biggest regret of the 1st J-School was that I didnt take part in, or record, his investigative journalism workshop--at the time, I thought I would benefit more from learning web skills. But I knew I had a recording of him speaking on a panel discussion in Merida--the theme was "How to Write on Deadline"--Gary spoke first, followed by Maria Botey Pascual. I listened intently, hoping for some jewels, some insight into his mind, but most of the discussion was nuts and bolts of how to write under pressure--Gary was there to teach, not preach or wax philosophical. But then came a student asking about the "dilemma" that the more time a reporter spends on a story, the more emotionally involved they become--It ended wiith the question---Do you believe In objectivity?
- Posted by Bill Conroy - December 15, 2004 at 9:34 pmA respected attorney who fought the system for years to prove that one of his clients had been framed by the mob and FBI has leveled serious corruption charges against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Those charges are outlined in a letter the attorney, John Cavicchi, sent last month to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. In addition to raising the corruption allegations, Cavicchis letter also advocates that the current commissioner of CBP, Robert Bonner, be replaced by Mark Conrad, a former U.S. Customs regional supervisor who has earned a reputation as a government whistleblower.
CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, employs some 41,000 people charged with managing, controlling and protecting the U.S. borders. Cavicchis charges take aim at the South Florida operations of CBP -- specifically Miami, one of the busiest seaside entry points in the country.
Cavicchi gained national prominence as the lawyer for Louis Greco, who was convicted in Boston of being party to a 1965 mob-related assassination. Greco, a disabled WWII veteran, spent some 30 years in prison, all the while contending he was innocent.
- Posted by Al Giordano - December 15, 2004 at 6:47 pmLACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, DECEMBER 15, 2004: I keep imagining the last moments of Garys life. He is looking down the barrel of a gun. His eyes are puffy from the swell of too many tears. The moving van is coming to his house near Sacramento, a place he never wanted to be in the first place, to which he was exiled years ago for the crime of telling a powerful but uncomfortable truth. Everyone he has ever trusted or loved has abandoned him: By that I mean everyone, including you and me. What he is about to do requires the utmost in courage: to pull the trigger and plunge into the unknown, perhaps into nothingness, never to write or report or tell his truth to the post-human mortals who couldnt handle his truth anyway.
The hand on the trigger at that moment his is not the first, nor is he acting alone. Gary had to wait in line and take a number behind all those who set his suicide in motion years ago. It was a miracle he didnt do this back when San Jose Mercury News editor Jerry Ceppos, now 58 and vice president of the Knight-Ridder news company, cocked the shotgun and pulled the trigger on the most authentic journalistic career of the late 20th Century. That was the day that the bullet flew out of the cartridge and, as if in very slow motion, took years to reach Garys head...
- Posted by Franz J.T. Lee - December 13, 2004 at 10:26 amMagnifisyncopathological
Quot homines tot sententiae
The opinions of a libertarian anarchist in Austin, TX.
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November 11, 2004
Franz J. T. Lee is a Flailing Moron
From South African Apartheid to North American Fascism
- Posted by Luis Gomez - December 12, 2004 at 10:38 pm(English translation follows)
Querido Gary: Esta noche volví a la casa y en cuatro líneas George Sanchez me explicó por qué esta vez no podrás contestar a mi palabras. Simplemente, como decía el poeta salvadoreño Roque Dalton, decidiste pasar a mejor vida... y eso, por supuesto, no nos incluía a mí, a George y a Reed Lindsay, que mucho te debemos y tanto te hemos querido. Está bien, Master Webb, no contestes, solamente lee...
- Posted by Steve Young - December 12, 2004 at 9:22 pmExcerpt from an obituary in the Sacramento Bee:
Gary Webb, a prize-winning investigative journalist whose star-crossed career was capped with a controversial newspaper series linking the CIA to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles, died Friday of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, officials said.
Mr. Webb, 49, was found dead in his Carmichael home Friday morning of gunshot wounds to the head, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office said Saturday.
He left a note, but officials would not disclose its contents.
"I'm still in a state of shock," said Tom Dresslar, who works as a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and had known Mr. Webb for 15 years.
"He was a hard-core, no-fear investigative reporter," Dresslar said. "He wasn't afraid to stand up to whatever authority."
- Posted by Franz J.T. Lee - December 10, 2004 at 8:52 amAs we reported, a while ago, in Moscow, President Hugo Chavez Frias bought Trotsky's famous work "The Permanent Revolution" and is currently eagerly studying its historic application and relevance. Apart from the well-known theory of global permanent revolution of Trotsky ... the establishment of socialism on a world scale, and not the Stalinist version of socialism in one bloc, country or island ... what should interest Venezuela in particular at this moment are Trotsky's views concerning the social relation between "violence" and "emancipation" in the "Third World," in Latin America.
- Posted by George Salzman - December 10, 2004 at 12:34 amThe corporate media is burying the news about the possibly-stolen U.S. election. Some folks wrote me after my last posting, the one titled, Blessed be the killers, Part III: A strategy for removing the Bush administration, saying in effect that I was wrong, in either or both judgment and strategy. I think the letters I got are indicative of the success of corporate media in shaping peoples consciousness, even those of us who try to be very critical and independent. In this note I share some of the comments and exchanges.