A Cultural Revolution Story

Very beautiful and very sad, translated by EastSouthWestNorth. Incredibly poignant.


Florida’s voter supression scandal

For some reason, this incredible story is not getting much pick-up in the US media, and I know about it only because a reader mailed it to me.

Greg Palast, the investigative reporter who helped uncover many of the sordid details of the repression of black voters in Florida in 2000, has created a terribly disturbing video (RealPlayer) showing that the GOP has created lists of voters in black neighborhoods whom they intend to challenge at the polls, thereby stalling the voting process, scaring people away, and forcing those challenged to vote by provisional ballot, which are often tossed away.

According to a related BBC article, this is being choreographed and sanctioned by top bush campaign officials.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign’s national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called “caging list”.

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: “The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day.”

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.

They may then only vote “provisionally” after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status. Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not one challenge has been made to a voter “in the 16 years I’ve been supervisor of elections.”

“Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting.”

You have to watch the video to see how insidious this is. They are actively and shamelessly taking away people’s right to vote, especially poor people who are less likely to have the resources to fight back. Welcome back to 2000.

Update: If there’s a problem with the news story link, you can read about it here.


150 Chinese die in ethnic clashes in Henan province

Of course, it’s not being reported in China.

Violent clashes between members of the Muslim Hui ethnic group and the majority Han group left nearly 150 people dead and forced authorities to declare martial law in a section of Henan Province in central China, journalists and witnesses in the region said today.

The fighting flared late last week and continued into the weekend after a Hui taxi driver fatally struck a 6-year-old Han girl, prompting recriminations between different ethnic groups in neighboring villages, these people said.

One person who was briefed on the incident by the police said that 148 people had been killed, including 18 police officers sent to quell the violence.

Chinese media have reported nothing about unrest in Henan. But a news blackout would not be unusual, as propaganda authorities routinely suppress information about ethnic tensions.

When you read about the underlying causes, mostly economic, you can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a sign of many more such clashes to come. As the quality of life for the Han Chinese improves, little of the new prosperity reachces the Moslems.

Update: Boy, I am prescient! More on the trend toward more frequent and more violent protests here. (Requires registration, sorry.)

Update 2: It seems the death toll was far, far less than 150. More like 7. Where did the Times get that number??


Happy Halloween: China closes 1,600 Internet cafes

It’s all in the name of cracking down on “pornography,” but I would guess it also has to do with increasing control over people’s minds in general.

uthorities in China have ordered more than 1,600 Internet cafes closed since February 2004, imposing more than 100 million yuan, or $12 million, in fines against their operators for allowing children to play violent or adult-only games among other violations.

Deputy director of the Culture Ministry’s Market Department, Zhang Xinjian, said more than 1.8 million Internet cafes throughout the country had been inspected and more than 18,000 had been ordered to cease their operations until reported violations have been corrected.

The latest clean-up comes at a time when the government is attempting to control violence and pornography on the Internet.

The government has also recently shut down hundreds of web sites and continues to block access to thousands of offending web sites outside China.

Last night I had a heated argument with a good friend of mine, who is Chinese. He thinks I am much too hard on the CCP, and he says almost all the things they do are good. I want to believe that, and I keep waiting for the evidence. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe they are monolithically evil or bad, and there are a lot of noble people in the party. But their never-ending battle for mind control doesn’t score them any points on my tally card.

Via Little Devi.


Blair’s wife attacks bush

Good for Cherie:

CHERIE Blair has criticised the policies of the US President George W Bush, attacking his stance on terrorist prisoners and gay rights.

The Prime Minister’s wife was condemned by supporters of the US President, after a speech to Harvard law students which contained a stinging rebuke to Bush, while on a lecture tour of the United States.

She attacked the manner in which the White House has dealt with the human rights of UK citizens detained at the US-run Camp X-Ray prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Blair said the decision by the US Supreme Court, fiercely opposed by Bush’s government, to give legal protection to two of the Britons detained at the camp was “profoundly important” and a “significant victory for human rights and the international rule of law”.

She took a sideswipe at Bush’s record on gay rights, condemning the arrest of a homosexual couple in the President’s home state of Texas, for defying a ban on gay sex. The US Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the law, which had been backed by Bush, was a “model of judicial reasoning”. Blair also called the US legal code an “outdated grandfather clock”.

The controversial speech was seen as flying in the face of long-held tradition that British political figures, and those close to them, do not criticise other countries during foreign visits.

Doing so just days before the US elections makes the intervention all the more embarrassing for Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as Bush.

Aren’t you tired of the whole world looking at shrub’s policies with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief? I am. Even our so-called allies share the disgust, even if most are too afraid of bush to speak up. So what’s next? Will Ronald Reagan rise from the grave to make an endorsement? Nothing can surprise me over the next three days, absolutely nothing.


“Osama Bin Laden is Dead”

I remembered reading at least one columnist declare that Bin Laden was dead some time ago, so I decided to search for the article. I couldn’t find the piece I was looking for, but along the way I found some interesting quotes that today bear repeating.

Mark Steyn definitely wins the prize for having the most egg on his face.

As for this Bush-failed-to-get-bin-Laden business, 2-1/2 years ago I declared that Osama was dead and he’s never written to complain. There’s no more evidence for his present existence than there is for the Loch Ness monster, which at least does us the courtesy of showing up as a indistinct gray blur on a photograph every now and again. Osama is lying low because he’s in no condition to get up.

Oh well, Mark — you can’t win ’em all. In the NY Post, Amir Taheri, too, has cause to be embarrassed. This is really precious.

With none of those labels having stuck to Bush, another conspiracy kite has been flown: the claim that Bush is cooking a big surprise to be sprung in October. Perhaps the sudden introduction of Osama bin Laden, the fugitive terrorist, on television just days before the election. We’ve been told that bin Laden was arrested months ago in Pakistan but kept on ice on Bush’s orders to be conjured, like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat, in October…… Well, there will be no “October Surprise,” and bin Laden, as far as I know, has been dead since December 2001 (despite CIA claims to the contrary, based on a couple of dubious audiotapes attributed to bin Laden).

Finally, at Democratic Underground, a writer known as The Plaid Adder prophecies exactly what transpired, but writes it off as most likely being absurd.

For instance, producing Osama bin Laden on October 31st would certainly be a nifty surprise for them; but frankly I don’t believe they can do it. This administration’s incompetence in matters of intelligence gathering and foreign policy has been shown up at every stage of the Iraq campaign. Why should we assume that the same team that actually did not bother to put together a plan for the occupation before they started the war could also manage to finally get their mitts on the man who has been either dead or eluding them for the past three years?

Plaid Adder, oh ye of little faith! Don’t be surprised if, on Tuesday, Pakistan captures Bin laden just in time for the Today Show. If you can imagine it, Rove can do it!

(And no, I don’t really believe Osama’s sudden return yesterday was a Karl Rove trick. I do believe it was Osama trying to make sure shrub gets re-elected so al Qaeda and other terrorists can thrive. You almost expected to hear after Bin Laden’s ravings, “I’m George W. Bush, and I approve this message.” Bin Laden is smart; this was no accident. Brilliant, and it really could throw the election back to bush. Maybe.)


A soldier’s story

A reader emailed me a link to a remarkable story that I hope everyone can take a few minutes to read, and the comments as well. (Thanks, reader.)

Steven Clemons of the Washington Note relates a conversation he had on a plane with a soldier who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of what the soldier tells Clemons is obviously wrong (there’s no way he can know, for example, that “75% of all soldiers want Bush defeated in the election and don’t care who defeats him”), but his feelings are real, and I’m sure there is enough truth there for everyone to be alarmed.

He says that 90% of the officers remain far out of harm’s way. From lietenants all the way up, there is general understanding that the officers are hiding in holes, or holding back in well-defended buildings and quite cavalier about sending troops out for assignments and errands that are frequently stupid, poorly planned, and dangerous.


Interestingly, he said that all enlisted men or officers in command positions have orders not to talk about their war experiences with the junior and fresh troops. He refuses — and tells those people under him everything he knows because he thinks it will help save their lives. When he went to Afghanistan at the beginning, basically nothing was told to them; he kept repeating “nothing.” And he said that their basic training in North Carolina was 180 degrees opposite of what they really needed to know for this kind of combat.

He said morale is very low among the troops and that they all want out — few believe in the war or Bush, and he thinks that many of these troops’ negative feelings are being transmitted back to extended family networks that have traditionally been supporters of the Republican Party, like his own family.

He shared quite a bit more, including that his military commanders are planning for at minimum an eight year deployment in Iraq, maybe longer.

There’s a lot more. The soldier says if he was under similar occupation and witness to the types of cruelty we’re doling out to civilians, he’d be fighting, too. The comments are intense, and for the most part they’re quite intelligent. While I’m skeptical of some of the points the soldier makes, I believe Clemons is telling the story fairly and accurately, and it tells me the morale problem among our troops in Iraq is far worse than most of us imagine.


Bring ’em on!

I don’t care how many Osama tapes come out over the next few days as the demon campaigns for shrub. I simply don’t believe the American people can ignore the horror that Iraq has become. For thinking people, the re-appearance of Satan only underscores the total waste of American lives in Iraq.

Eight American Marines were killed in fighting west of Baghdad on Saturday, the military’s bloodiest day in nearly six months. A car bomb killed at least seven people in attack on an Arab television network in the capital, and Iraqi troops fired wildly on civilian vehicles, killing at least 14 people, witnesses and hospital officials said.

The U.S. military said nine Marines were also wounded in the fighting in Anbar province west of the capital which includes the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. The statement gave no further on how or where they were killed.

It was the most U.S. deaths on a single day since May 2, when nine U.S. troops died in separate mortar attacks and roadside bombings in Baghdad, Ramadi and Kirkuk.

The deaths came as U.S. forces are gearing up for a major assault on Fallujah, seen as the toughest bastion of Sunni Muslim guerrillas, ahead of crucial elections due by Jan. 31.

Fierce clashes erupted Saturday in Fallujah as an American military convoy entered the southeastern industrial Shuhada neighborhood and nearby Nueimiya village — an apparent probing foray on the city’s edges. Explosions and gunfire rocked the area and smoke was seen billowing in the air, witnesses said.

Failure on all fronts, al Qaeda and Iraq. And Osama, who we were going to get dead or alive, is thumbing his nose at us 3 years after the tragedy. There’s no denying he won.


It’s your choice

What a contrast.

stop bush.jpg

elect kerry.jpg

Lifted from LA Weekly.


Why Osama’s new tape is a godsend to bush

As soon as I heard that Osama had re-emerged with a video, I thought it had to be a big plus for shrub. Anything that focuses attention back on 911 and the Middle East (like Arafat’s apparently imminent death) helps the GOP ticket. And, of course, nothing delights our Islamofascists like having a galvanizing, ultra-controversial figure like shrub in the White House. It keeps our friends at arms’ distance and keeps the Moslem community hating us. And it creates a motherlode for Al Qaeda recruiters. They’d do just about anything to keep him there. The last thing they want is a peacemaker who might actually succeed in Iraq.

Billmon notes that the video is an act of communications brilliance on Bin Laden’s part, more effective even than a physical strike.

Osama’s video bomb, on the other hand, is a brilliant example of “virtual” terrorism. It’s perfectly designed to keep the media tape loop spinning from now until next Tuesday, with minimal risk of a backlash. It not only wipes the missing explosives story off the map (that is, until they do the same to some unsuspecting Americans) it also allows the GOP to turn every remaining campaign event into a bin Laden hate rally. It is, in short, the definitive October surprise.

What was it Rove said the other day when Sean Hannity asked him about October surprises? “We’ve got a couple of things we intend to spring.” Something like that.

Best not to go there. I’m paranoid enough as it is.

Could Rove have arranged this with Bin Laden? Or, even more likely, is Rove Bin Laden? Well no, most likely not — but they both know how to play the media and the public’s emotions like a fine fiddle. Let’s see if this is enough to tip the scales back in shrub’s direction. I certainly hope not, but it’s definitely bad news for Kerry.