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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some people fight back. Remembering Indian resistance in the Southwest.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Drug running by intelligence services resurfaces again.

Plenty of evidence has linked the CIA and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies to drugs trafficking over the years. Most people in the US don't remember Burmese warlord Khun Sa. Sa was the CIA's longtime heroin pusher in Southeast Asia. He was the guy who used to run heroin during the Vietnam War in conjunction with the CIA's infamous Air America Airlines. In that particular situation, the heroin was shipped to Vietnam where it was sold to GI's. That money was used to fund illegal operations in the country like the Phoenix Program, which claimed thousands of lives through assassination and other nasty methods.

More recently, famed and now dead by suicide reporter Gary Webb wrote extensively on the CIA-crack-Contra connection in the 80's. Webb's exhaustive reporting revealed how the government was bringing in crack cocaine, targeted at Black communities. That money was then turned around and used to fund the Contras illegal terrorist war against the people of Nicaragua. At that time, the assistant director of the CIA was Robert Gates and he was the one tasked with investigated -- and exonerating -- the agency of all charges surrounding drug smuggling, which he did faithfully. Gates is now the Secretary of Defense.

Now, drug money is perfect money for running covert operations because it's hard to track. One thing we know about the current wars is that the CIA and other government agencies have long-standing ties to jihadist and Al-Qaeda organizations and individuals. This extends back to the US creation of the Islamic jihadist movement to counter Soviet forces in Afghanistan right through to the false flag attacks of September 11th. We also know that increasingly the intelligence services have been supporting these groups again. Sy Hersch has written about it recently for New Yorker, among other publications.

And we likewise know that since the US invasion of Afghanistan the poppy crop, which was all but eliminated under the Taliban, has resurged, thus opening up again this tried and true revenue stream for covert operations. So perhaps it should come as no surprise to us that, as ABC news reported, former northern Takhar province chief of the border police, Haji Zahir Qadir (the man that President Hamid Karzai had planned to name as head of the entire country's border police) was recently caught with more than 100 kilos of heroin in his car.

Is history repeating? Or did it never end?
Mysterious Jet Crash Is Rare Portal Into the “Dark Alliances” of the Drug War
Paper Trail for Cocaine-Filled Plane that Crashed in Yucatán Suggests Link to U.S. Law Enforcement Corruption in Colombia

CIA "rendition" flights as cover for drug smuggling: Did the Inspector General discover the Agency's dirtiest secret?

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Technological end run leads to re-runs.

I generally support striking workers, and I'm quite sympathetic to the position of the writers on this one, especially since this appears yet again to be a case of the elite using technology to upend workers power on the job not least by attempting to cut workers out of the profit they are due by redefining the means of distribution. In essence, these new technologies have been applied as a means to do an end run around writers' traditional relationships to production.

And not for the first time. Part of the reason that writers are out this time is precisely because they feel like the transition to cable and VHS both undermined their power to challenge the boss about the distribution of the profits from their labor. In essence when the bosses brought in those new technologies, they transferred power from writers' hands into their own, and billions of dollars along with it. Writers vow not to be fooled again.

Typical of a ruling class that likes to obscure the political-economic content behind a news story, the media has treated the transition to new technologies not as an attack on workers power, but as a natural phenomenon, generally referred to in the passive voice. For instance, when they remind us that "technology revolutionizes the way entertainment is delivered." Or when, as the International Herald Tribune reports it:
The strike would pit union writers, whose position has been eroded by reality television and galloping technological change, against studios and networks that are backed by big corporate owners like General Electric and News Corp., but are also unsure of the future.
As if technology is a force that drives itself, independent of the will of the elites that fund it, develop it, distribute it and apply it. Can we really say that the "big corporate owners like General Electric" would have invested billions in new technology if it would have empowered their workers interests over theirs? Even in the IHT article, while some class analysis seeps in, the fundamental myth of neutral or naturally progressing technology is maintained. But without understanding the class nature of technology, we cannot understand the writers' strike.

Nevertheless, I do have to express some solidarity with the caller to NPR the other day who asked if the writers will start writing better quality shows when they return. That would be nice. It does feel weird supporting a striking worker who writes for Touched By An Angel. It's kind of how I feel when I hear that defense industry workers have walked out. If they're just going to go back to doing what they were doing before the strike then I have to wonder which side I'm really on this time. After all, if TV stayed in reruns, maybe less people would watch it.

Although, of course, while technology is a ruling class weapon, we are sometimes able to use it to some small benefit towards our own ends. This exception doesn't invalidate the rule, however. On that note, enjoy this short bit produced on the picket line by striking Daily Show writers.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

A brief description of my recent trip to Mexico

Having visited Mexico a few times in the last year and having met up with the Other Campaign twice in Magdalena (most recently in early October), I have become more and more interested in the Zapatistas and revolutionary struggle in Mexico. I certainly have followed and supported them over the many years since their 1994 uprising brought them to my attention, but revolutionary organizing in Mexico only truly captured my political attention recently, in particular with the release of the Sexta document and the exciting Other Campaign. Whereas before my support was largely symbolic, in the last year, thanks to organizing with local Indigenous collectives and the immigrant/migrant movement, I have been engaged to participate directly in solidarity, which has been truly exciting.

I think a primary limitation on my participation early on came from not knowing Spanish. Now, however, I can speak it pretty well, and that has facilitated exploring my interest in revolutionary politics on the other side of the border. As I become increasingly convinced that the opportunity for revolutionary change in the US in quickly diminishing -- probably forever -- it has been truly inspiring to see up close what revolutionary struggle really looks like.

The first visit I took to Magdalena was inspiring. It was during the Sonora leg of the Zapatistas listening tour. It was open to anyone and the camp was quite packed. Quite a lot of Northern gringos milled about and watched, as did I, while Subcommandante Marcos and other Indigenous and civic leaders took notes on the particulars of social struggle in the state. The stories I heard from local elders and organizers were both heart-breaking and inspiring and seeing leaders from the various movements actively taking notes and listening to the complaints and ideas of the base was interesting indeed. As an anarchist, of course, I am generally skeptical of leadership, but the process I saw taking place went some distance to re-assure me that I wasn't seeing leadership as we have rightfully grown to distrust it here in the US.

For the second trip down to Magdalena this October, I took a more active role, doing support and fund-raising through a collective in which I participate and sending money down to Mexico via a collective of Indigenous youth (Yaqui and O'odham) with whom we were working. Then, tagging along with them, I headed down for the regional Indigenous encuentro as an observer and a supporter.

The meeting was smaller this time, with only a handful of whites observing. The first day opened with a speech by Marcos and others, and that was followed by a series of report-backs on local conditions and struggles from the various groups attending. The news was largely sad, spanning the range from displacement to murder and attacks by paramilitaries and police, although the collective that I have worked with was able to report to the gathering that they had successfully shut down a toxic waste plant that had been spewing filth into the air and cancer into the bodies of folks on the reservation for decades. It was one of the few bright spots, but I was proud to have been a small part of that victory, so it was good to hear the applause erupt from the assembly upon hearing the news. While people spoke, supporters actively took notes on large sheets of paper. Though the news was sad, the strength of everyone there, sharing their experiences together with the aim of building a revolutionary movement in Mexico was palpable. Sad stories, perhaps, but not told by defeated people.

The next day was made up of more report-backs and finally a vote and discussion on the proposed document as it had been hashed out. As an anarchist I have of course always firmly believed that people have it in themselves to run their own affairs in a democratic fashion. The concept of "Democracy" in the US has always been an extremely limited and elitist one, so it was particularly inspiring to see Indigenous peasants and farmers -- folks that arrogant Americans would never consider capable of practicing such a high form of self-organization -- engaging in democratic practice far and beyond that which exists here in the North without the "benefit" of college educations or high school diplomas.

Indeed, in all likelihood the pathetic sort of democracy we have here in the US depends precisely on the limiting of the imagination and authoritarianism accomplished by the school system to function -- not because such institutions make true democracy possible, but precisely because it limits it and excludes participants, forcing actors in the system to make pragmatic demands and to accept the authority of politicians and the recuperation of social struggle through institutions of the state and capital and its various non-profit accomplices.

We returned to the US and sailed through the border without incident. As it doesn't exist for capital, so it likewise doesn't exist for me. Not so for our Mexican comrades organizing so urgently even now for liberty and equality, ironically, precisely so that fewer of their fellow Mexicans will have to flee north into the exploitation and precarity of life in the US.

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