Open Thread


We kidnapped him?

"Alert: Haiti's Arisitide Says He Was Kidnapped by Narco News Copublishers"

Someone ought to look into this. We could get in trouble. Plus the points off for spelling.

Good Eye, Jules...

...and Good Morning.

You're living up to the title of copublisher (Alert! Narco News Misspells a Headline!). Now fixed. Thanks.

We didn't kidnap him, did we?

This could get serious, Al. Kidnapping Aristede was a criminal act. I don't want to be blamed for it. Don't you think the headline should read "'Aristide Says He Was Kidnapped' by Narco News Copublishers"?

No me amenaces

Como diría el gran José Alfredo Jiménez:

" me amenaces, no me amenaces.
Que ya estas grandecita, que ya entiendes la vida
Y ya sabes lo que haces...".

" me amenaces, no me amenaces.
Y juega tu suerte, ahi traes la baraja, pero tengo los ases...".

Medical Marijuana group forms... a former part of Mexico, named Texas.

A couple of suggestions for the site

Well, I don't know if it's possible from a tech standpoint with what you guys have, but that dynamic minimal comment display option they have on dkos is really great.

The other thing is, I find myself paging back through all the old notebooks a lot to see if there are any new comments.  An 'all new comments' page would be fantastic.

I can't help noticing that very few people seem to be using the rating system, which is a shame, because the average quality of the comments on this site is way above any other site I've seen.  It seems like most of them deserve front paging for the info they contain.  I think senior reporters (Al, Luis, Nora, etc.)should be able to front page their own comments if the info is news.

PLEASE DO NOT RATE THIS COMMENT.  It does not need to be on Narco News.

Not missing new comments

Jeff, I had the same concern.  Setting my display preferences to "flat unthreaded" and "oldest first" seems to help.  At least new comments always appear at the bottom of the thread now.  

Older threads

I have no problem finding new comments within a thread, It's notebooks that have dissappeared from the 'Latest Reporters' Notebooks' box that I need to go paging back through to find out if anyone has posted something new.

re: Older threads

Check the front page - there is now a link at the bottom of the "Top Comments" box that says "Browse All Past Comments" - I think this is what you are looking for. I think this will make navigating the now constant stream of comments coming in from our copublishers much more manageable.

I'm working on getting dynamic comments functional as well, so far they have been buggy and I havn't turned them on.


What are those little red exclaimation points in brackets next to my comments?  is there a page that explains this type of stuff?  

Could we have email notification if someone responds to our posts?


Red exclamation marks indicate comments that you haven’t read. A centralized guide to all this stuff is long overdue; I hope to have one up here soon.

Also, I like your email notification idea. I will try to set that up at some point.


i get red exclaimation points on my own comments (clicking on "Your Comments" link on the right side)...

re: fyi

Well, if you've posted a comment but not gone back to the thread to see it, scoop still sees that as a comment you havn't read.

Joint Terrorism Task Forces

I have been interested in these new red squads - the JTTFs around the country. The Minneapolis branch was involved in some activist-baiting before the war, and while it appears (from the example of the Iowa NLG subpoenas ) that thuggish police-state behaviors are somewhat on the wane, I worry about the JTTFs.

Not only do they seem to be the kind of institutional infrastructure that will continue beyond the dark days of Ashcroft, et. al., they were advancing at speed during the Clinton years. Will a new Democratic administration a difference - or rather, how much of a difference would it make? The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996 showed that Democrats could advance the police state as well as Republicans, not to mention Waco and Ruby Ridge. (Or the Wilson-era Palmer raids, for that matter...)

I would welcome any solid references to work being done on JTTFs. Anyone?

Tonight on PBS show NOW with Bill Moyers

NOW with Bill Moyers
Friday, March 5 at 9PM on PBS
(Check local listings at

================= ====
This week on NOW:

* Are you being watched?  Find out about surveillance and civil
liberties. NOW looks into who is spying on Americans who disagree with
the government in GOING UNDERCOVER.  *An icon of social activism and
faith - Reverend William Sloane Coffin talks with Bill Moyers about
matters most. * Food, music, and famous guest speakers may be coming to
a town near you.  NOW checks out the Rolling Thunder Democracy Tour.

================= ====

There are undercover agents infiltrating peaceful protests in America.
Pretending to be political activists, law enforcement officials are
monitoring the activities of advocacy and protest groups based on what
one judge calls those organizations' "political philosophies and
protected under the First Amendment."  Operating under the Attorney
General's new relaxed guidelines, is law enforcement abusing its power
by spying on the lawful activities of ordinary citizens because they
disagree with the government?  NOW exposes a disturbing national trend
that some say is part of a coordinated effort by the government to
criminalize dissent.  The report takes viewers inside incidents in
Washington, DC, Colorado and Iowa, where government agents went
undercover to monitor and disrupt peaceful acts of civil disobedience.  

Portland, OR--people hate JTTF

I was living in portland oregon the last few years, and there was lots of public duscussion of the JTTF.  unfortunately, renewal of the JTTF was up for city council discussion only a few weeks after 9-11; although approximately 200 people showed up to speak against it, it still passed(although not unaminously).
That year was the best chance to have it not renewed (its been around for a good 4 or 5 years)--having politicians vote against anything with "terrorism" in the name is pretty rare at this point...theres lawsuits, protests, etc, and the mayor at one point expressed concern that even she did not have the power to see files that her own police force was gathering in coalition with the FBI.

For more info, check out
or archives of

Terrorism and The State

Bon Soir Sarah!

(Did I say that right? My French is much worse than your excellent English! But now, with Haiti and all, I guess I'm gonna have to learn yet another new language. C'est la mort?)

Oh, and not to worry... Laura is coming back this year, but not as a student... rather, as a professor! More announcements to come shortly...


In the context of an argument with a colleague over at the Daily Kos, I just posted this commentary, that offers some analysis on today's wonderful pro-democracy news from Spain, that I'll share with y'all here....

(For full context, it appears on this thread over at Kos.)

Terrorism and The State

The colleague wrote:

I believe that terrorists in Al Qaeda are extremely dangerous, and that, barring the ability to put them in solitary prison for life (which often isn't a realistic solution), we basically have little alternative than military force to eliminate them as a threat.

I replied:

The words "terrorists" and "terrorism" have become so overused, so applied to so many different kinds of activities and actors, that they cease to carry anything but an emotional charge that makes many people blind and that has led to more, not less, of the violent behaviors and actions that then, in a vicious circle, get tagged with the moniker of "terrorism."

In 1974, during the heat of the conflicts in Italy between the State and the Red Brigades, Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote a book called "Terrorism and the State."

He argued that neither "terrorism" nor the State can exist without the other, that they are mutually symbiotic parasites, that political violence justifies authoritarian State power and that authoritarian State power then makes political violence inevitable, because it blocks all peaceful paths to redressing grievances effectively.

The U.S. State Department list of "international terrorism organizations" is a hodge podge of very different kinds of entities:

  • national liberation movements that do not cross international borders in their efforts to overthrow a regime.
  • separatist movements that want to secede from existing State jurisdiction, and are denied the opportunity to do so by democratic means, such as referendum, or their referenda are disregarded.
In those two cases above, the label of "terrorist" is dubious at best.
  • national liberation movements that act from outside the borders of the regime they want to overthrow (in many cases, they want to overthrow the House of Saud, and why not? That, in and of itself, is a worthy goal).
  • religious fundamentalist organizations that use political violence to try and impose a religious "State" or theocracy on a given regime or regimes plural on a regional level.
  • and "networks" that are not even organizations, that have no effective centralized chain of command or communications.
Al Qaida falls in the latter category. It's a "network" in which the left hand often doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing.

And although it is unpopular to say it: The fact remains, there is no definitive proof, not of the kind that would lead to a conviction under U.S. law, that "Al Qaida" was the culprit in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

As to whether this "network" or part of it were responsible for last week's attack in Madrid, I take a wait and see approach. We've had enough rush to judgment already. Basques very nearly got blamed and pummeled for it (and knowing ETA's modus operandi, it was clear to those who follow the habits and distinctions of rebel organizations from the first day that this did not have ETA fingerprints on it: but, again, the word "terrorist" prevents otherwise thoughtful people from considering that there are distinctions, and so The State can pretty much blame anyone it wants for any crime.)

Some years ago I was performing with my Dobro in a club, and got talking with a young woman from Madrid. She was clearly of the upper classes (she had traveled to Latin America on a parent-supported walkabout) and of a Franquista (pro-Franco) lineage politically: she was from a political family, an oligarch. That week, a Spaniard journalist had been assassinated, and everyone blamed ETA. I said to her: "The way that shooting was carried out, from long distance, sniper style, as opposed the ETA-style close range shot to the head makes me doubt that it was ETA. Also, this journalist would not be high on ETA's list compared to so many others. Do you think it is possible that your own government killed this journalist in order to create hysteria and anger toward ETA and justify increasingly authoritarian police state powers?"

Her answer?

"Sometimes these things have to be done for a greater good."

That is not proof of anything but of what one young person thinks, and an indication of what others of her class think, but I thought it was interesting, nonetheless, the complete nonchalant acceptance of the idea that, yes, The State is somehow justified in inventing "terrorist" acts to foment fear and fascism (a word that can never be overused when it comes to Spain's recent histories).

I see this kind of suspicious event regularly in Latin America... a rocket launched at Colombia's presidential palace on the day the narco-president is sworn in... and blamed on the guerrilla... mysterious explosions at foreign embassies in Venezuela that then get blamed, by the Commercial Media, on the Venezuelan government or its supporters, and then the story disappears again without follow up... the recent events in Haiti... etcetera, etcetera....

And so I no longer believe the State when it claims that this "terrorist" group or that one did something... the State, as an institution, no matter what land it presides over, has this kind of deceit and motive in its genetic structure... Sometimes the bombings are by political opponents... other times not...

What I find encouraging from today's election results in Spain, and from the current electoral polling numbers in the U.S. (even after Bush's ad blitz, and its own symbiotic parasitical relationship with "terrorism"), is that the public seems to be intuiting that something is amiss, that the whole truth isn't known, and, in fact, the system is structured to prevent the whole truth from being known... and there is a revulsion, finally, at those who, every time an atrocity happens, attempt to use it to increase State Power.

In this, the public - by that I mean the poor and working masses, the majority - is way ahead of the "educated" people, including the journalists, in being able to "feel" the essential truths even as it is denied the hard data to "know" them...

And this is also a cycle of history... from authoritarianism to enlightenment, back and forth, back and forth... and maybe, just maybe, Spain indicates that we could be entering a cycle of enlightenment...

At that point in the cycle, political violence always wanes... In fact, the only outcome determinative factor that guarantees political violence is an authoritarian State (which gets more complicated in this era, when the Private Sector, its Industry, its Media, its Money Changers, have supplanted the traditional State as a kind of global authoritarian power for which the traditional State is merely a police force).

But what is VERY important, in my opinion, "at times like this" as Ari Fleischer once said, is to strike against the "party line" efforts by State Power to define the violent act, to assign convenient blame, and utilize the public fear and horror to justify greater State Power, and to, instead, declare info-war on all preconceptions, loaded terminologies, parroted State fostered myths about the political opposition (as with Haiti and Aristide, or Venezuela and Chavez), and, yes, chase down the myths, hunt them down, and kill them.

I'm all for killing. I just want to kill the real culprit, the guilty party that makes all others guilty: What I want to kill is the Big Lie.

The Old Lie

Dulce et Decorum Est

...If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

 - Wilfred Owen

Owen? Nice!

Those WWI poets -- Owen, Brooks, Sassoon -- are overdue for a revival anyway. Maybe Tobey Maguire in a biopic... shattered innocence and all that, perfect Oscar bait!

"My senses are charred. I don't take the cigarette out of my mouth when I write Deceased over their letters." - Wilfred Owen

Coup averted in Spain?

Over at dkos paper tigress put up a diary discussing a very interesting rumor about the Spanish election.

Spanish film producer Pedro Almodóvar gave a news conference today at the premiere of his latest film, Bad Upbringing.

Pedro says that Aznar's PP wanted to carry out a midnight coup d'etat last Saturday, the day before the elections, but thanks to email and text messaging, the Spanish people emptied into the streets to keep vigil on PP headquarters throughout the country...

If true, WOO-HOO!  Chalk up another victory for netwar!  But a commentator named Armando, who seems pretty knowledgable about Spanish politics, denounces the whole thing as wingnut conspiracy theory.

But I have to wonder if the shoe hasn't jumped feet recently.  Have we come to a point where we have seen enough well documented conspiracy and coup-making that such claims must be given the benefit of the doubt?  

Is it the end of the era of plausible deniability?

New comment flagging

Say, webmaster Dan, would it be possible to see one of those little red exclamation points in front of the 'Browse All Past Comments' link if there are any new comments?

J-school this summer

I'd like to hear more from past participants of the J-school, what was on the agenda, what was learned, how long, etc. Any comments welcome and helpful as I intend to do research on subaltern participatory democracy in the Andes this summer and will need direction, cooperation and suggestion. It would be nice to know what it's all about to encourage others to attend, assuming that's desired.

Can Bolivia reach the Pacific?

I would like to hear from those in South America about the possibility of Chile returning part of the Atacama to Bolivia. Seems as though it's resurfacing as an issue: g-chilebol21mar21,0,3604769.story?coll=la-headline s-world

(you will need to set up an account with LA Times first)

Kerry repudiates Chavez

Sorry for the 'repost from a corporate media source' but here you have it - another bit of Kerry news that makes me sick in the pit of my stomach.

Reuters Story

Kerry Attacks Venezuela's Chavez

Mon Mar 22, 6:33 PM ET
By Pascal Fletcher

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) has attacked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a dubious democrat hostile to U.S. interests, delivering a slap in the face to the leftist leader who had portrayed Kerry as a potential friend.

The Kerry statement on his Web site made front-page news in Venezuela on Monday, nearly two weeks after Chavez had publicly praised the Democrat contender, hailing his health care plans and likening him to assassinated U.S. President John Kennedy.

In his declaration dated March 19, the Massachusetts senator accused Chavez of undermining Venezuela's democracy, supporting Colombian rebels and "narco-terrorists" and trying to torpedo a constitutional bid by foes to hold a referendum on his rule.

Condemning Chavez's policies as "detrimental to our interests," Kerry said the United States should lead international pressure to persuade him to allow a recall vote.

Venezuelan officials did not immediately respond.

Political analysts said the harsh condemnation of the populist Venezuelan leader aimed to tell him he should not consider Kerry an ideological soul mate united through their opposition to President Bush (news - web sites).

"This gives no reassurance to Chavez. I don't think he's going to find a lot of sympathy from Kerry and the statement makes that clear," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.

Relations between Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, and its main petroleum client have been strained by Bush administration criticism of Chavez's self-styled "revolution," his friendship with Cuba's Communist President Fidel Castro (news - web sites) and his resistance to the referendum challenge.

Chavez, a former paratrooper elected in 1998, has repeatedly condemned Bush's trade and foreign policies as "imperialist" and accused the U.S. government of trying to topple him, a charge denied by Washington.


Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jesus Perez said in an interview published on Monday his country's relations with the United States could not be worse and would improve if Bush lost the November election.

Perez told El Universal newspaper Bush was to blame for the tense ties "because of his hostile statements."

But Kerry's declaration firmly quashed Chavez's apparent hopes of a more friendly U.S. policy if Kerry won in November.

"It separates his image from that of Chavez, and it's not just a distancing, it's a clear break," said Venezuelan political analyst and author Alberto Garrido.

Analysts said Kerry's criticism went well beyond a U.S. campaign tactic to win votes in key states like Florida, where anti-Castro and anti-Chavez sentiment is strong among exiled Cubans and Venezuelans.

Kerry said Chavez's "close relationship with Fidel Castro has raised serious questions about his commitment to leading a truly democratic government."

But his statement also chided the Bush administration for sending "mixed signals by supporting undemocratic processes in our own hemisphere," saying it had "acquiesced" to a brief 2002 coup against Chavez. Washington denies it was involved in the coup.

"Kerry is saying there is a lot at stake in Venezuela and that we need to be engaged and firm. He's trying to show he's not a wimpy democrat, that he's a tough-minded, hard-headed guy," Shifter said.

Bolivia - miner blows himself up in protest

A miner killed himself and two others - security guards - in a suicide blast at the Congress today.

BBC reports: "A Bolivian miner has blown himself up at the national Congress building in La Paz, in a protest over his pension."

The explanation suggested is desperation and anger at the government's mine privatization policies.

Costa Rica cancels asylum for coup leader Ortega

After Carlos Ortega told a meeting in Miami that he would return to Venezuela to work clandestinely to remove the government of Hugo Chavez, Costa Rica's government said he violated the terms of the asylum he requested last year and canceled their granting of it,
the BBC reported today (Tuesday March 30).

As leader of the Venezuelan Labour Federation, Ortega led the two-month strike against Chavez that led up to the two-day coup.  "Mr. Ortega was facing charges of treason and rebellion when he walked into the Costa Rican embassy to request asylum on 14 March."

(Unfortunately, I'm sure the U.S. will let him stay here.)

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Reporters' Notebooks

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.