Monthly Archives: October 2001

Six Questions About The War

This is a slightly modified version of a file at the page. There is no copyright on this — feel free to copy and spread it anywhere you'd like.


Is there a link between U.S. involvement overseas and attacks on American targets?

Yes there is according to a 1997 U.S. Department of Defence study, which read: “As part of its global power position, the United States is called upon frequently to respond to international causes and deploy forces around the world. Americas position in the world invites attack simply because of its presence. Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.”

On a related note, it is perhaps significant that the U.S. government had plans for war in Afghanistan prior to September 11th, and that the Taliban knew of these plans. According to former Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik, at a meeting in Berlin in July: “The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn't help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan,” “I told the Pakistani government, who informed the Taliban via our foreign office and the Taliban ambassador here.”

What is the corporate interest in the Middle East?

According to the Washington Post: “Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has shifted from its role as a large oil supplier to becoming the principal U.S. ally and economic partner in the region. In the 1970s and 1980s, it bolstered the international banking system with its oil revenue. After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution the same year, Saudi Arabia turned to the United States for modern weapons, including F-15s, AWACS surveillance planes, helicopters, transport planes, tanks and air defense weapons, including Patriot and Hawk missiles. In 1991, it served as the main staging ground for U.S. forces that drove Iraq from Kuwait.”

“Since 1981, U.S. construction companies and arms suppliers have earned more than $50 billion in Saudi Arabia, according to the Congressional Research Service. More than 30,000 Americans are employed by Saudi companies or joint U.S.-Saudi ventures and U.S. investments in the country reached $4.8 billion in 2000, according to the Commerce Department. The U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. recently was chosen by the Saudi government to lead two of three consortiums developing gas projects worth $20 billion to $26 billion.” (Washington Post 21/9/01)

What is the corporate interest in Central Asia?

According to a United States Government website:

“Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan, which was under serious consideration in the mid-1990s. The idea has since been undermined by Afghanistan's instability.”

“In January 1998, the Taliban signed an agreement that would allow a proposed 890-mile, $2-billion, 1.9-billion-cubic-feet-per-day natural gas pipeline project led by Unocal to proceed… Besides the gas pipeline, Unocal also had considered building a 1,000-mile, 1-million barrel-per-day (bbl/d) capacity oil pipeline that would link Chardzou, Turkmenistan to Pakistan's Arabian Sea Coast via Afghanistan.” (Unocal being a Californian based energy corporation.)

Will military action foil the “terrorist threat”?

Not according to Ronald Jacquard, an advisor to the United Nations Security Council, author of a book on Bin Laden and head of the French state's International Terrorism Observatory, “The more that is done to destroy Bin Laden's organisation, the more they will try to carry out the plans they have already.” “People in the mass-market consumer societies of the United States and Europe will have to live like countries such as Israel, under permanent threat.” (Irish Times 3/10/01)

Likewise the British newspaper the Guardian, drawing on a report in the Washington Post, claims: “Intelligence officials have told Congress that they believe a second major terrorist attack on the United States is highly likely in the near future, and that once the anticipated assault on Afghanistan begins, retaliation is '100%' certain..” (Guardian 6/10/01)

Is this a “war against terrorism”?

Hardly. All of the powerful states lining up in the coalition against terrorism have inflicted the same bloody slaughter as the hijackers brought to New York. Consider the actions of the Russian State in Chechnya or the largely British and American inspired United Nations sanctions on Iraq. The latter has, according to figures produced by the Iraqi government and verified by U.N. agencies, killed almost one and a half million people between 1991 and 1998, and is continuing to kill at a rate of 7,000 people a month, and 4,000 of the monthly death toll are children under the age of five.

Who are NATO's allies the Northern Alliance?

A consortium of criminal warlords such as:
“Abdul Rashid Dustum, one of the most powerful Alliance gangsters, whose men looted and raped their way through the suburbs of Kabul in the Nineties. They chose girls for forced marriages, murdered their families,”
“Then there's Rasoul Sayaf, a Pashtun who originally ran the “Islamic Union for the Freedom of Afghanistan”, but whose gunmen tortured Shia families and used their women as sex slaves in a series of human rights abuses between 1992 and 1996. Sure, he's just one of 15 leaders in the Alliance, but the terrified people of Kabul are chilled to the bone at the thought that these criminals are to be among America's new foot-soldiers.”

According to a member of the Afghan feminist organisation, the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women, they “condemn the cooperation of the United States with the Northern Alliance. This is another nightmare for our people – the Northern Alliance are the second Taliban. The Northern Alliance are hypocrites: they say they stand for democracy and human rights, but we can't forget the black experiences we had with them. Seventy-year-old grandmothers were raped during their rule; thousands of girls were raped; thousands were killed and tortured. They are the first government that started this tragedy in Afghanistan.” (Guardian 8/10/01)

Long, long, long entry!

First the really good news: I just got back from Artik (our screening place), and saw the samples for the new shirts. They look AWESOME. Best shirts in some time! The “HARD” text shirt especially is really nice, with wonderful color gradiations… I'll have them up in BMEshop later today so you can put yourself on the waiting list if you want.

I figure I should talk about my feelings about yesterday's OCAP/OCF protest as well.

While I believe that the problems addressed by OCAP and the Ontario Common Front are 100% legitimate and real problems that must be fixed, overall I do not entirely agree with their proposed solutions (I hold far more radical notions). However, that is beside the point. I was there in an attempt to document the event and to see it with my own eyes to try and understand how different groups subsequently present it in the media. I also wanted to see how the Indymedia interacts with its reporters — as I suspected, the IMC/Ontario didn't screen any stories posted, and would be very easy to manipulate and use to disseminate false information.

When we got there at about 5 AM, there were already rows of riot cops and mounted police. We'd dumped our gas masks and gear because they were arresting people for them — they claimed that a bandana soaked in cider vinegar (to combat tear gas) was actually a component of a bomb (yeah, a vinegar based molotov cocktail), and that even goggles were a weapon. There was a relatively small group of protestors in front of the police, so we regrouped to assess our plans… at this point we weren't sure if the police might have effectively stopped the protest already. We returned to the police line (where we bumped into Mark) to find a few hundred protesters starting to mobilize. They'd had cellphone contact with other groups around the city, including a large group inside the blockaded area. At this point around 35 people had been arrested.

The morning basically consisted of a snake march around the city, with the police doing their best to herd the groups, and the groups doing their best to evade the police. Eventually the different crowds seemed to find each other and it grew to a couple thousand people. Overall it was peaceful and responsible on both sides. I saw some incidents of vandalism, and there were a relatively small number of incidents of police brutality. I don't believe either was representative of the whole — just as there were a few “bad” protesters, there were a few “bad” cops.

What shocked me is watching the news later that day. Toronto's police chief called the protest “the worst kind of organized crime” and went on to claim that the protesters were well armed, including with bombs and tear gas. Obviously this is a pure fabrication as the protesters had nothing like that… And calling a peaceful protest “organized crime” are, in my opinion, grounds for calling for his immediate resignation. Mayor Mel Lastman took the lies a big step farther, calling the protesters “animals” and claiming they'd been throwing molotov cocktails at Sick Kids Hospital. Of course all the mainstream media picked up these soundbites, and, not having been there, the average person probably believes these lies. That was the most disappointing part about all of this.

One thing I should mention though — a lot of protesters objected to the vandalism, saying that “it's not what this was about”, or that “it gives us all a bad name”… I'm not sure if I agree with that. If you really do believe that “the only war is the class war”, then perhaps vandalism is very valid. I wouldn't personally do it, but when I try and put myself in their shoes, it makes sense.

Actually, I do have one more thing to mention. Some people who watched the protest complained about people covering their faces with bandanas. This was done for three reasons that I can think of:

  • The police often tear gas and pepperspray crowds, no matter how peaceful they may be. It is a logical safety precaution. Getting gassed isn't fun.
  • The police review videos of the event and target and catalog any protesters that they can identify.
  • Many of these people were arrested at previous protests (often for no reason other than being there). As a condition of their bail they were not allowed to go to Queen's Park, associate with other political protesters, or attend rallys.

The third one is the scariest… “Free speech: you're free to say what we tell you to say.” Taking away a political dissident's right to free speech is terrifying to me. Sure, charge them with vandalism, charge them with rioting, or any other charge that can be made to stick under the law, but in a free society, there is no excuse for ever taking away someone's right to speech, especially under these conditions. I guess that is just points out the sad truth that it's just an illusion that we're living in a free society. Maybe I've just seen Easy Rider too many times…

And now, the news that I in my totally impartial way feel should be mentioned and commented on. I'll start with some good news — Sen. Judd Gregg is backing off on his kooky encryption laws. Mike Godwin of the Center for Democracy and Technology said “There will be some point in the future where a criminal or terrorist uses encryption to pull off a horrific crime. What we have to ultimately recognize is that we're safer from those criminals if we have those encryption tools than we would be if we didn't have them.”

That way of looking at all of these issues with this reasoning is important. Sure, guns can be used by criminals to commit crimes, but where would we be if guns were made illegal — “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I'm not saying the world wouldn't be better without guns, but do realize that no matter what is banned, criminals and governments will always continue to have access.

I've seen comments both here on IAM and in the media in general saying that the anthrax media attention is just a scare, and that it's silly to get worried about it. Even if you ignore the fact that the senders now clearly have weapons grade anthrax that's getting more and more effective, I'm not sure I agree with the “no big deal” theory, even if the actual deaths are dramatically lower. A bomb or hijaacking affects a very small area geographically. Anthrax “mail bombs” on the other hand, can strike anywhere, any time, and no amount of increased security can stop this type of attack. It is literally unstoppable, and can hit anyone. Except me of course, because Ryan and Corrie open my mail.

If you have a moment, you should read this editorial by Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies. He makes some important points, including addressing the futility of the food drops (except as a media ploy), the ineffectiveness of the bombings, the further killing of innocent civilians, and, most importantly, the fact that the US is once again moving forward on military actions while being condemned by the United Nations is causing a serious anti-US backlash internationally. He quotes a Debka headline as saying “First Week of U.S. Offensive in Afghanistan is Inconclusive Militarily, Earthshaking Geo-Politically.” While Debka is a somewhat questionable newssource, the headline is deadly accurate.

I'm sure all of you have been seeing the proudly displayed — and carefully obscured — before and after photos of the bombing. Since day one experts outside of the military have been saying that the photos show the attacks to have been dramatically ineffective, and at best destroying a few decoys (remember D-Day?). In the past, when the military had complete control over spy satellites, they had complete control over this type of imaging. The problem for them now is that there are private spy satellites like Ikonos up… Now, they are able to institute a “shutter order” for national security and ban Ikonos from taking pictures of Afghanistan, but if they did that, news agencies would launch lawsuits. So, instead, they're censoring via capitalism — by simply paying Ikonos not to share the pictures with the media.

Quick link #1: I know it's old news that the US sent $500 million per year in weaponry to Bin Laden and other anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan during the 80s, but Barrett has said that they shipped weaponry (via the US government) to Bin Laden directly.

Quick link #2: Remember how the US was considering adopting Israel's assassination policy? (That is, using elite strike forces to assassinate political leaders.) It's just begging for trouble.

Quick link #3: I'm a big fan of Hawking. Big fan. He agrees that the coming human-robot apocalypse is inevitable, and he also believes that for humans to survive, we must colonize space. If humans could unite on space travel, I'd give up on living in the country. I'd do just about anything to be a Mars homesteader.


I've got a lot I want to write about today's protests, both good and bad, but today I'm too tired… So that'll have to wait until morning. I do however have something more important to share. A few hours ago, Blair branded on Marty's minister bars!

Time for the riot police

So I was flipping through pages here, and I see a lot of piercers, a lot of people with interesting mods, and even lots of suspension groups and people into all sorts of play. I see quite a few people who are very generous and always do their best to help out here and on BME.

I don't want to charge for this site. But I also don't like getting screwed. Am I asking to much when I suggest that you email me a photo from time to time? I see them being posted on pages here… Is there a reason you want to enjoy the fruit of BME's resources (IAM), but do not want to support BME?

I'm not sure why I'm even bothering to mention this… The end result will be that the same generous people send me more photos, and the freeloaders don't lift a finger to help. I understand if you're a person with a mod or two that you don' always have something new to send every month or two. But there is no excuse if you are a piercer or person who's got new mods for not helping out!

I'm not telling you that you need to pay for access. What I am trying to emphasize is that without BME growing, the bills for IAM don't get paid. Because I believe that people are, at heart, good, I hate forcing anyone to do anything. I'd like to believe that when people are informed and know what the deal is, they are more than willing to contribute in an appropriate manner.

Since the trip is cancelled, I have some spare time to do programming… I don't really want to spend it developing some sort of “forced contribution” program, but it sure does seem like a more and more sensible thing to do the more I browse the site… But I realllly don't want to do it as no matter what is implemented, it will punish many people that don't deserve it…

So please — if you enjoy using this site, support BME with photos and stories. If you don't feel like doing that, support it financially. If you don't feel like doing that, at least do your best to let people know about BME and encourage them to support it.

To those of you who have been helping: Thank you. If it wasn't for you, this site couldn't exist. Everyone here owes you a debt of gratitude.

50 more pictures

I've uploaded 50 more pictures of this morning's events to the IMC site. These are all stills from the video that I shot between 5AM and 9AM. Here are the links:

…and now, I drive Dave to the airport. He's speaking at a VJ conference in Barcelona!