All Notebook Entries

  • Poverty, South of the Border

    The drug trade is only one of many problems we now face in this world and is in itself a product of unfair business practices, both in the United States and in other countries of the world.

    There are too many places where workers, if they can find a job at all, are forced to work for wages that will not provide an acceptable standard of living. And in each of these countries, others make unbelievably large amounts of money for their “contributions” to society.

  • Condosleeza Number Two

    Dr Condoleeza Rice, President Bush's nominee to be Secretary of State appearred again today, Wednesday, 19 January 2005 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  • Blog From Bolivia 1; "Journalists" 0

    Jim Schulz, in Cochabamba, recently started his "Blog From Bolivia" and has wasted no time showing how blogging is journalism (when it is done well) and how, conversely, good blogging demonstrates that what is called "journalism" at Commercial Media organizations that cover Latin America (and elsewhere) often is not journalism.

    See Schulz's January 17 post, The U.S. Press, Bolivia, and Riots of the Imagination.

    Specifically, Schulz shows how three U.S. "journalists" (and consequently one U.S. presidential candidate whose aids apparently read and believe the kind of trash that passes for journalism up there) completely rewrote the history of the fall of disgraced Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, filling the story with phobic myths from the recesses of their own imaginations.

    On the blogger's chopping block: Jane Bussey of The Miami Herald, William F. Jasper of The New American and Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post...

  • Global Relevance of the Social Philosophy of Mahatma K. Gandhi

    The historic life and heroic struggle of Mahatma K. Gandhi (Oct 2, 1869 to Jan 30, 1948) against British colonial injustice, human degradation, economic exploitation and social discrimination are well known, here we will just spotlight certain selected aspects of his social philosophy, its moral principles and its contemporary relevance for global revolutionary and emancipatory efforts.
  • Condosleeza Rice

    Today, Tuesday, 18 January 2005.  Washington reporting:
  • Bigger Doin´s in the Bolivarian Republic

    Fresh from Sources as Diverse as El Nacional and VTV, the war of words between Colombia and Venezuela has heated up.
  • Bushland

    © 2004 Don Henry Ford Jr.

    This was something I wrote and posted in my diary at the Agonist. Actually though, I did this for a Mexican photojournalist by the name of Julian Cardona to try to give people a glimpse at the hometown of George W. and how his background influences the foreign policy of our country. Drugs are just a small part of a much larger problem.

    One of the most embarrassing things I have to do in this day and time is to admit that I share anything in common with George W. Bush. But I do.

    I spend a lot of time issuing disclaimers about bush—about how he’s really a cold-hearted blue-blood Yankee wrapped in a Texas hide. And about how no God-fearing Texan could possibly be that bad. While there is some truth to that, the fact remains that my compatriots overwhelmingly voted for him, and do share a lot of his views. I can’t begin to describe how much it hurts to say that—to know that my homeland has produced such a man. And continues to support him despite the daily proof he offers to suggest he is an incompetent elitist with little or no compassion for those of different persuasion.

  • Shooting the messenger in the war on drugs

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, N.J., recently announced that Jorge Reyeros was slated to be sentenced in April of this year for conspiring with his brother, Juan, and their Colombian contacts to smuggle 150 kilos of cocaine into the United States in 1999.

    Jorge Reyeros also was convicted of accessing a U.S. Customs Service computer without authorization. He is facing a prison sentence for his crimes of up to 30 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    On the surface, there is nothing remarkable about Reyeros’ story. He appears to be just another number in the war on drugs. But according to former U.S. Customs inspector John B. Conroy, Reyeros’ indictment in 2000 for his crimes should have happened some four years earlier – which is when Conroy first blew the whistle on his activities.

    For Conroy, the Reyeros case is emblematic of how law enforcement itself has been corrupted by the war on drugs.

  • U.S. Election: Ohio Lost?

    On January 7 on and reprinted January 10 on guerilla news network, Russ Baker reported that fraud did not change "the outcome of the most important presidential election in recent times."  Baker's expansive definition of fraud includes even voter suppression.  He wrote:

    The [House Judiciary Democrats'] report concludes that the "massive and unprecedented" voting irregularities in Ohio were in many cases caused by "intentional misconduct and illegal behavior."  Sounds like fraud to me.

    Baker then runs through a handful of claims, but he does not draw these claims from the report cited above (available in .pdf format).  Instead, he takes the claims from laywers suing to overturn the election, writing that the report takes much from the lawsuits.

    Baker finds only one claim to be true, the misallocation of voting machines, and states that this was "probably not" intentional.  He thus concludes in "Election 2004: Lost or Stolen" that it was lost.

    As he wrote about those ambitious lawyers he hung out with, Baker has good intentions but he is wrong.

  • Legalizing Drugs?

    The Supreme Court has taken a step in the right direction by giving judges more discretion at sentencing time. But we still have a long way to go. Unlike some, maybe most that read columns on this site, I am not in favor of total legalization of drugs. If I were, getting that done is an unattainable goal. It ain’t going to happen.
  • The Rule, Not the Exception -- The "Salvador Option" in Context

    Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is considering having U.S. Special Forces train death squads in Iraq, modeled on U.S. death squads in El Salvador.

    What Newsweek fails to note is that:

    1. This policy represents standard U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, employed around the world since the 1960's.  
    2. Two suspicious kidnappings in Iraq last year suggest that death squad activity may already exist in Iraq.
    3. The "Salvador Option" is not an extreme option being considered by a few neo-cons at the Pentagon, rather it reflects a policy that could easily develop bipartisan support, and which John Kerry may have been hinting at during the presidential campaign.
    4. The leak of the "Salvador Option" may be a conscious attempt to test the waters regarding public sentiment about Iraqi death squads and to pad the impact of later revelations about U.S. actions in Iraq.

  • Homeland Security softens secrecy directive, slightly

    Narco News reported earlier this year that The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- the government monolith created in the wake of 9/11 -- had adopted a draconian secrecy classification scheme for any information it deems sensitive.

    In a directive issued in May 2004, DHS created a new “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) classification process covering a wide range of information that the government bureaucracy deems “sensitive but unclassified.”  

    The directive required DHS employees and private contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements prior to being given access to FOUO information.

    However, Secrecy News, an e-mail bulletin put out by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, reports that DHS has now eliminated the non-disclosure agreement mandate for DHS employees.

  • The Salvador Option

    The latest Pentagon strategy under consideration, according to Newsweek, for the Iraq debacle has the hairs on the back of my neck rising. They intend to re-create the Salvadoran death squads using Kurdish and Shiite militia to pursue a more "aggressive" approach to quelling the so-called insurgents.

    [] [Newsweek article on MSNBC]

  • New Paraguay-Brazil Cocaine Smuggling Routes

    Yesterday's daily Folha de São Paulo (registration required), Brazil's largest newspaper, reports that a recent policy enacted by the Brazilian government to shoot down suspected drug smuggling airplanes has simply caused narco-smugglers to change their routes from the air to the land.

    It's the classic drug-war story of "the golf ball under the rug." You can swat down that bump in the carpet in one place, only to find that it will pop up somewhere else.

    And so it is with the failed policy of "interdiction" of drug shipments, as the Folha article explains...

  • Bolivia: El presidente Mesa dice "No me dejan gobernar"

    En un mensaje presidencial a la nación el presidente Carlos Mesa advierte a la población boliviana que renunciara si no le dejan gobernar, no está dispuesto a ejercer violencia y a actuar como su antecesor Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada en vista de las movilizaciones que se presentan en contra del alza de los carburantes y en busca de una nueva Ley de Hidrocarburos que recupere la propiedad de los hidrocarburos para los bolivianos.

    Mesa asegura estar respaldado por el 90% de la gente que respondió afirmativamente a las preguntas del Referéndum vinculante del gas, mientras que otras fuerzas políticas, que tienen entre el 5 y 7% de respaldo popular, hoy están interesadas en colocar un “candado” a su administración gubernamental.

  • Heroes of Democracy

    "For that night, that moment, this country was someplace I was proud to call home," writes library worker Vivien Lorelied in her account of the determined voters at the Shepard Branch Library in Columbus, Ohio— one of the precincts severely shortchanged of voting machines because Republican officials could predict the community's commitment to save the country from George W. Bush.

    Here is Lorelied's complete account, of people who show why democracy is worth fighting for:

  • Venezuela's Possible Black Golden Future

     While the Venezuelan ship of state, for a while, still encounters itself in the revolutionary doldrums, let us look at our black, golden future.

    Sometime ago, Alfredo Bremont wrote a most interesting commentary: "The US shooting Venezuelan (Russian built) MIGs could be really dangerous".

    He summed up the current politico-economic global context of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution as follows:

    "In this decade black gold has displaced the yellow one ... it is no longer how many billions of gold bars that a nation has in his national bank reserves that signify anything, but rather how many billions of petrol reserves you have. ... The Venezuelan bolivar should break away from parity with the US dollar and create its own measure ... Venezuelan oil reserves are valued more than gold bullion in a bank."

  • Wealthy Nations Give Haiti Under Dictatorship Aid Denied Democracy

    Three days ago the most powerful governments in the world confirmed their support of dictatorship over democracy in Haiti.  On January 6 the World Bank Group approved $73 million in loans and grants for the illegitimate and discredited government of the suffering nation, with the bulk of it to be distributed immediately.

    The money given previously has not consolidated the violent rule of this government.

  • Goings on in the Bolivarian Republic

    Greetings, Narconewsians, from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Right now, I´m watching Alo Presidente on the TV, broadcasting for the first time in 6 weeks from their new studio.
  • Simón Bolívar and the Art of a Country Called América

    Atop the webpage of Narco News is our motto, as originally spoken by General Simón Bolívar, who led the battles that liberated much of this hemisphere from foreign rule and imposition, a credo that guides our vision for this half of the world where we live and report: “The Name of Our Country Is América!”

    Last year a group of artists and readers of Narco News contacted me about their desire to bring this motto to a larger audience inside the United States, where General George Washington – who led the liberation of another large part of our hemisphere from European rule and imposition – appears on every dollar bill but the legacy of General Bolívar is largely unknown.

    Bolívar’s (and Narco News’) credo now appears prominently in Los Angeles, California (formerly part of Mexican territory), where the artists responsible for bringing this concept to a wider audience, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Webber, have raised it high above 6150 Wilshire Boulevard…

    The artists’ statement about this Boliviarian work, North of the Border, appears at the jump…

  • Elections and Protests Part III

    Elections and Protests Part III
    By Nancy Davies         December 26, 2004

        “Big Tent”, inclusionary politics is another word for tolerance. Tolerance is shorthand for “We’re different but we can tolerate each other.” It suggests, as the very word “party” suggests, that in a particular short-term situation we can get along. Historically, tolerance has implied that the top dog was willing to admit the bottom dog, that the ones with superiority or control were willing to bend.
        Disparities in power were never addressed by inclusion, and are not addressed now. How many of us screamed at Kerry to denounce the Iraq war? How many marched in the streets? How many letters and e-mails flew around the globe? And so what?
        Participatory politics intends to be a bottom up proposition. Participation is construction, of a different kind of entity, with all contributions equally valued and all contributors involved in the decision-making. If participation becomes “we’ll let you in” it has reverted to the bad old days and lost it’s meaning. Participation must do more than step over the gap of “irreconcilable differences”.

  • Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Mandatory Minimums

    At 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 offenses—smuggling drugs—only 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.

  • Running out of minutes in the war on terror

    Do you feel safer since 9/11?

    Apparently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks we’re 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 don’t 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.

  • Authentic Journalism Hasn't Arrived in the United States

    Today 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,, and, I was forced to go to 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.

  • Congress Must Investigate Ohio Vote, say House Judiciary Democrats

    Democratic 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 yesterday.

  • Portrait of a dope-smuggling cowboy

    Don Henry Ford Jr. is a polite fellow. He’s likely to end most sentences with “sir” or “ma’am” and has all the mannerisms of a down-to-earth Texas cowboy.

    And like many cowboys I’ve run across, Ford has a knack for telling stories. But in this cowboy’s case, the stories are true.

    Ford has a love for nature, for ranching, for growing crops, herding cattle and tending to horses. He’s 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 rancher’s pockets.

    That economic reality helped drag Ford into the heart of the drug war. That is Ford’s story, which he tells from the heart in his new book: Contrabando, Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy.

  • A Response to George Salzman's Open Letter

    My friend and fellow expat George has written me an “open letter” and published it on the Internet.

    I’ve never had an open letter addressed to me before. And neither Emily Post’s nor Quentin Crisp’s guides to good manners indicate what is the proper etiquette when receiving one. So I’ll improvise and respond simply as if it is a regular letter or email from a valued colleague and truth-teller…

  • Kerry Wins Ohio and the Presidency, Counting Uncounted and Prevented Votes

    People 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.
  • Gary Webb on Military Penetration of Civilian Society

    They'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. 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:

  • The New Year's Military-Civilian Uprising in Peru

    "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...

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