*Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
*From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain
steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional
freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration
seem to be taking them all
Tuesday April 24, 2007
*Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the
coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a
shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy
had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed
soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued
restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took
certain activists into custody.
They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look
at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for
turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been
used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying
ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to
create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down
is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing
to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in
the United States by the Bush administration.
Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even
considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree -
domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much
about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware
of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to
being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we
scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in
place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we
don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department
of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word
"homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.
It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his
administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open
society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as
the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can
happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I
am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and
other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the
events we see unfolding in the US.
*1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
*After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national
shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot
Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many
said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on
a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate"
intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of
crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as
during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second
world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned.
But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes,
is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum
was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended
in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is
the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."
Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old
trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the
nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has
faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that
the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was
swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which
replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or
the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist
evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.
It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of
course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the
nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has
also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish
citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as
American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the
end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing
to accept restrictions on our freedoms.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2007http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/24/1446255
A British court has ordered the government of Zambia to pay the “vulture fund” company Donegal International 15.5 million dollars. Donegal is owned by the US company Debt Advisory International. But investigative journalist Greg Palast reveals a new development: Democracy Now!’s airing of his BBC expose on Donegal this year has led the Justice Department to open an bribery investigation that could lead to an indictment. [includes rush transcript]
A British court has ordered the government of Zambia to pay the company Donegal International 15.5 million dollars. Donegal is owned by the US company Debt Advisory International. In February, BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast exposed on Democracy Now! how Debt Advisory International was trying to collect $40 million dollars from Zambia after buying one of its debts for $4 million dollars. Zambia claims the company, Debt Advisory International, even tried to bribe government officials by offering to make a donation to: “the president’s favorite charity.” Palast questioned the company’s owner, Michael Francis Sheehan, about the allegation.
- Excerpt of Greg Palast's BBC report on "Vulture Funds"
[Click for full report]
Now a British court has ruled on the case. Zambia was ordered to pay Sheehan’s company $15.5 million dollars on its original $4 million dollar debt. The Zambian government says the money will have to come directly from its budget for health and education. BBC Investigative reporter Greg Palast joins me now from a studio in Portland, Orgeon.
- Greg Palast. Investigative journalist. His latest is book is just out in paperback,“Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets & Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.”
AMY GOODMAN: A British court has ordered
Tuesday, April 24th, 2007http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/24/1446251
Paul Wolfowitz has received a new setback in his fight to keep his job at the helm of the World Bank. The Financial Times is reporting the World Bank’s independent oversight agency has asked for Wolfowitz’s immediate resignation. Wolfowitz has been at the center of controversy after it was exposed he ordered a major pay increase and promotion for his longtime companion, Shaha Riza. In a memo, the Independent Evaluation Group said Wolfowitz’s continued tenure would cause the Bank “irreparable harm.” The call comes just days after a group of forty-two former World Bank executives also urged Wolfowitz to step down.
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Suddenly, his date book is filling up. What he makes of the new
American outreach—and how Syria hopes to gain from it.
By Dan Ephron
Updated: 6:02 p.m. ET April 23, 2007
Syria’s Suddenly Popular Man in Washington
April 23, 2007 - The inked-up pages of Imad Moustapha's date book have
a story to tell. In the first four months of 2007, the Syrian
ambassador to Washington has had more interaction with U.S. officials
than in all of 2005 and 2006. He has met with every single member of
the Senate Armed Services Committee. He coordinated the trips to
Damascus of at least three congressional delegations, including House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's this month. He's even had talks with a senior
official in the State Department. (As further evidence of the warming
trend, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to Egypt next month
to meet with representatives of Iraq's neighbors, including Syria).
Many people in Washington still support the Bush administration's
strategy of shunning Syria for its alleged ties to terrorist groups
like Hizbullah and Hamas and its possible involvement in
the assassination two years ago of former Lebanese prime minister
Rafik Hariri. But Moustapha, a computer scientist by training, says
the isolation policy is unraveling. He spoke recently with NEWSWEEK's
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comes wrapped in red foil and purple tissue, this intricate figurine molded in the form of a Japanese demon, with clawed feet, a mane of fire and a thick tongue jutting from a bloodthirsty smirk. Transparent, the size of a child's fist, it looks like a tiny ice carving or a statuette of glass. I
72-Hour Party People
Meth: It's not just for the white-trash crowd.
By David Holthouse
Published: September 4, 2003
It comes wrapped in red foil and purple tissue, this intricate figurine molded in the form of a Japanese demon, with clawed feet, a mane of fire and a thick tongue jutting from a bloodthirsty smirk. Transparent, the size of a child's fist, it looks like a tiny ice carving or a statuette of glass. It is neither. In fact, it is 25 grams (a little less than one ounce) of nearly 100 percent pure crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride, known on the streets of Asia as "Shabu." It was almost certainly manufactured in a clandestine laboratory in China, then shipped to the Philippines and on to Hawaii, and finally to Denver. Here it was purchased on the black market for $5,500 -- nearly five times the street value of an equivalent amount of cocaine and ten times that of low-grade, powdered crystal meth.
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