Sunday, December 30, 2007

BBC Censored Benazir Bhutto's Reports that Bin Laden Had Been Murdered

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

When a news organization as venerable as the BBC censors the reportage of a story as important as the assassination of Benzir Bhutto --a highly visible critic of Bush/British policy with regard to the "War on Terrorism" --it is fair to ask: who is the BBC protecting? Are they covering up a motive for her murder? Are they protecting the regimes that engineered her assassination?

Here is the original, unedited version in which Bhutto states that Bin Laden had been murdered.

Here is a link to the BBC's Censored version

My thanks to "The Zoo" for its subsequent clarification on a critical point --the "text" of Bhutto's censored remarks. Following is the text of that portion of the clip censored by the BBC:
AlJazeeraEnglish video clip (just the segment that includes the part that was cut from the BBC version):

“Yes, well, one of them is, umm, a very key figure in security. He is a former military officer. He is someone that, umm.., has had dealings with, umm.., Jaish-e-Mohammed [JEM], one of the band groups of Maulana Azhar , who was in an Indian jail for decapitating 3 British tourists and 3 American tourists and he also had dealings with Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama bin Laden .

Now I know that having dealings with people does not necessarily mean direct evidence, but I also know that internal security has totally collapsed in Pakistan and internal security cannot collapse without there being some blind eye or collusion turned to the militants or the militancy.”
That portion is missing from the BBC clip found on the BBC website. Again --Bhutto's words are: “...he also had dealings with Omar Sheik, the man who murdered Osama bin Laden“. A clarificatdion of my own. Some have referred to the tape as an Al Jazeera video. I categorize it as a BBC video (though they censored it) because BBC owns the copyright on it. The BBC is ultimately responsible for its content and, of course, the misleading manner in which it was edited. Al Jazaeera, it must be pointed out, ran the complete interview including that single paragraph that BBC censored.

Bhutto herself exposed a motive for her murder. Solving the case is a matter of finding the gunmen whom Hilary Clinton thinks may be found found among Pakistani troops.
CLINTON, Iowa - Hillary Rodham Clinton waded into Pakistan's volatile internal political situation yesterday, raising the possibility the country's military might have assassinated Benazir Bhutto because the killing took place in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Clinton's remarks came as Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's government seemed to reject a call for an independent international investigation of the murder that Clinton and John Edwards proposed on Friday.

During a question-and-answer session at an elementary school here, Clinton offered a detailed prescription for the troubled country, suggesting that the U.S divert aid away from its military to social welfare programs.

And for the second time in as many days, she cast doubt on Musharraf's contention that the suicide bombing that led to the death of the country's most popular opposition leader was masterminded by al-Qaida.

"There are those saying that al-Qaida did it. Others are saying it looked like it was an inside job - remember Rawalpindi is a garrison city," she said.

--Hillary: Pakistan troops might have killed Bhutto
Isn't it interesting that it was Secretary of State Condoleezsa Rice who brokered Bhutto's return to Pakistan when even Bhutto knew that her life would be endangered? I smell the work of the Axis of Evil: neocons, Bush, and his puppet: Musharraf.

Bhutto herself has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Bush/Blair "war on terrorism". If Bin Laden is dead, as has been reported, then the various tapes that he is alleged to have made are all phony. The war on terrorism itself is just a calculated fraud perpetrated by a murderous Bush regime, a murderous Blair regime, the murderous puppet regime of Musharraf.

That's why Bhutto was murdered.

She was the woman who knew too much. Bhutto exposed the fact that US policies cause terrorism and she stated the various ways in which groups inside the US and Britain benefited politically and materially from America's [Bush's] phony war on phony terrorism, the failed war in Afghanistan, the war crime that is still perpetrated against the people of Iraq. Bhutto posed a threat to the culprits in the Bush regime to include Bush himself.

Bhutto posed a threat to the kiss ups in Musharraf's regime to include Musharraf and the liars who tried to float the incredible "lone lever" theory. She was murdered. And the BBC has been caught --red handed --censoring the most important piece of the puzzle. If Osama is dead, the war on terror is a bloody fraud!

An update:

Bhutto email named killers weeks before assassination


Benazir Bhutto: 'People are planning to murder me'

Benazir Bhutto claimed three senior allies of Pakistan's president General Musharraf were out to kill her in a secret email to Foreign Secretary David Miliband written weeks before her death.

Astonishingly, one of them is a leading intelligence officer who was officially responsible for protecting Miss Bhutto from an assassination.

The second is a prominent Pakistani figure, one of whose family members was allegedly murdered by a militant group run by Miss Bhutto's brother. The third is a well-known chief minister in Pakistan who is a long-standing opponent of Miss Bhutto.

Miss Bhutto told Mr Miliband she was convinced that the three were determined to assassinate her on her return to the country and pleaded with him to put pressure on the Pakistan government to stop them.

The disclosure is bound to lead to questions as to whether the Foreign Office did enough to safeguard Miss Bhutto.

Her return was organised in close co-ordination with the UK and US governments, which saw her as the best hope of restoring democracy in Pakistan while preventing it from falling into the hands of Islamic extremists.

The email concerning the three alleged would-be killers identified by Miss Bhutto emerged as rival political factions in Pakistan continued to dispute the details surrounding her assassination.

Related developments from Information Clearing House:
Pakistan TV station shows Bhutto shooter, contradicts government: The footage clearly shows Bhutto collapsing into her armoured- vehicle before the suicide blast, contradicting official government claims that she recoiled only after the blast and cracked her skull on the sunroof.

Pakistan rejects foreign help in Bhutto investigation:Pakistan rejected foreign help in investigating the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Saturday, despite controversy over the circumstances of her death and three days of paralyzing turmoil.

A timely update:

Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan

By Larry Chin

12/29/07 "Global Research" -- -- It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been maneuvering to strengthen their political control over Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto does not change this agenda. In fact, it simplifies Bush-Cheney’s options.

Seeding chaos with a pretext

“Delivering democracy to the Muslim world” has been the Orwellian rhetoric used to mask Bush-Cheney’s application of pressure and force, its dramatic attempt at reshaping of the Pakistani government (into a joint Bhutto/Sharif-Musharraf) coalition, and backdoor plans for a military intervention. Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan's military.

The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations.

Here is a link to the BBC's Censored version

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: US Policy Causes World Terrorism

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Benazir Bhutto paid the ultimate price for stating that the US imperial policy of propping up tin horn dictators causes world terrorism. She dared to say so. Condemning what she called "A False Choice for Pakistan", the late Benazir Bhutto laid "terrorism" at the White House doorstep, blaming US policies for causing, fueling and inspiring what US regimes call "terrorism".
When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation -- namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf's suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.
Benazir Bhutto, A False Choice for Pakistan
The claim that she died from having banged her head is a ludicrous cover story not even worthy of the Bush regime. Bhutto's considered remarks are consistent with previous articles on this blog, specifically: Terrorism is always worse under GOP regimes. Bhutto would have found FBI statistics that support her analysis: the root causes of "terrorism" are US imperialistic policies, specifically the material and diplomatic support of dictators like Musharraf and earlier, Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran, et al. It should be obvious that citizens of other nations resent US support of dictators who oppress them.
For too long, the international perception has been that Musharraf's regime is the only thing standing between the West and nuclear-armed fundamentalists.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Islamic parties have never garnered more than 13 percent in any free parliamentary elections in Pakistan. The notion of Musharraf's regime as the only non-Islamist option is disingenuous and the worst type of fear-mongering.
Much has been said about Pakistan being a key Western ally in the war against terrorism. It is the fifth-largest recipient of US aid -- the Bush administration proposed $785 million in its latest budget. Yet terrorism around the world has increased. Why is it that all terrorist plots -- from the Sept. 11 attacks, to Madrid, to London, to Mumbai -- seem to have roots in Islamabad?
Benazir Bhutto, A False Choice for Pakistan
The policies to which Bhutto alludes are primarily those of the right wing, the GOP in particular. Democrats, however, are compromised by the US Military/Industrial Complex and have not addressed this issue adequately. The US Military/Industrial Complex is at the very heart of US imperialism and, thus, the root cause of terrorism.
Over the past year, Musharraf - known here as “Busharraf” on account of Washington's role in propping up his failing dictatorship - has presided over one of Pakistan's most turbulent periods in its 60-year history. While claiming to address extremism, he has instead eviscerated the nation's legal system, curtailed the media and hamstrung civil society, thereby destroying Pakistan's strongest (both institutional and cultural) defenses against fundamentalism. Having twice sacked the Supreme Court's popular and independent Chief Justice and jailed the leaders of the democracy movement, Musharraf has also imposed severe restrictions on the press that continue to stifle debate. In this environment, violence is all too predictable. And the enabling complicity of the U.S. should alarm all observers.
A host of competing theories attempt to explain Bhutto's assassination. The government predictably blamed al-Qaeda within a day, while offering a theory of her death described by BBC as “bizarre.”

Noting Bhutto's prior comments that “elements within the administration and security apparatuses . . . want me out of the way,” members of her family accused the government - either of killing her outright, or for complicity by notorious rogue elements within the government, or at least for offering inadequate security to her campaign - as Bhutto herself alleged before the fact. American authorities have reportedly begun investigating Pakistani special operations forces for their potential involvement.
--Bhutto's Blood Is on Bush's Hands
War is a racket fought by the masses for privileged elites, big corporations, and venal politicians like Bush. The war racket creates victims in the US and enemies --potential terrorists --abroad.

War policies benefit a tiny elite, no-bid contractors like Halliburton, Blackwater and their stockholders. The war against Iraq is financed by America's working poor and middle classes who continue to pay for the war with their lives abroad and with their jobs, their retirement prospects, and their access to health care at home.

Because of Reagan/Bush tax cuts, this group disproportionately and unfairly picks up the tab for a war that has created for the US legions of enemies. But no friends. [See: Frankenstein the CIA created, Mujahideen trained and funded by the US are among its deadliest foes, reports Jason Burke in Peshawar, Sunday January 17, 1999, Guardian Unlimited]

The policies that oppress Americans have even worse effects for millions who must live under repressive regimes backed by Bush and his sponsors in big oil.
The National Accountability Bureau has persecuted opposition leaders for a decade on unproven corruption and mismanagement charges, hoping to grind them into submission. However, when politicians accused of corruption cross over to the regime, the charges miraculously disappear.

Musharraf's regime exploits the judicial system as yet another instrument of coercion and intimidation to consolidate its illegitimate power. But the politics of personal destruction will not prevent me and other party leaders from bringing our case before the people of our nation this year, even if that could lead to imprisonment.
Benazir Bhutto, A False Choice for Pakistan
Bhutto refers to Bush's remarks in his State of the Union address. In that address, Bush said that the great question of the day "... is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity." Benazir Bhutto was not naive. I am sure that she understood that Bush's remarks were but a sop to the audience, his base, the media, the gullible. Bush, a proven liar, must be judged only by his actions. He does not get the benefit of the doubt. Like every other GOP regime, he has made terrorism worse.

The Brookings Institution had written a report based on FBI stats. It was entitled: Total Acts of Terrorism in the US 1980-98, America's Response to Terrorism. It dealt primarily with Ronald Reagan's similarly failed "War on Terrorism". Brookings, inexplicably, pulled the article. Nevermind! I have saved the chart that they prepared based on FBI stats. The conclusion now safe from a conservative memory hole is this: during the two year period in which Ronald Reagan promised "terrorists" that "you can run but you can't hide", terrorist attacks against the United States increased. There were, as I recall, about three times as many terrorist attacks against US interests as during the Clinton administration. [Source: Total Acts of Terrorism in the US 1980-98, America's Response to Terrorism, The Brookings Institution (Based on FBI Statistics)] As it was in the economic sphere, the Reagan administration was utterly ineffective against terrorism.

Reagan's adventure in Lebanon is remembered for two things: a) the thousands of lives lost amid even more waves of refugees; b) Reagan's ignominious pull-out following the bombing of the US marine barracks. Thought cowardly at the time, it may be too charitable in retrospect to attribute to Reagan remorse for having wrongly invaded to begin with. That's too much to expect from the GOP. In this earlier invasion, Ronald Reagan supported Israel just as Bush has done more recently. [See: Reagan Orders Marines Out of Lebanon]

Bush's continuing partnership with big oil is salt in the wound. Millions disaffected by US oil imperialism understand better than do Americans the reasons a Bush regime supports the ruthless dictators who oppress them. As an Iranian diplomat told me in Houston: oil is a curse. He was not alone. Many "industry-watchers" now use the term "curse" to refer to the nature of oil exploitation that democracy, public institutions, and civil liberties are often retarded because of it. Civil liberties are most often dispensed with altogether.

Oil wealth concentrates at the top. People in Venezuela, Nigeria, and Azerbaijan enjoy few benefits of oil production in their countries. We now see in the US the unseemly spectacle that other nations have always known, that is, ruthless factions scrapping for control and riches. US policy and its fascist partnership with big oil inspires resentment among those who are left out, those who bear the brunt, those for whom oil means only oppression.

Bush's base —the nation's elite, his corporate sponsors, and the so-called defense industry —have paid nothing, risked nothing! Rather —they feed at the trough. The upper one percent of the population has gotten several tax cuts while the big oil companies report record profits rising concurrently with higher prices at the pump.
Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. ... We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Hoping for Fear, by Paul Krugman, Using Fear Commentary, NY Times
There are big profits in the death business. Go to Texas and consult the CEO of Murder, Inc., otherwise known as DynCorp.
The war in Iraq has boosted DynCorp's revenues, responsible for about $400 million of the company's nearly $2 billion in sales. And while the company didn't specify how much the effort has added to profits, there has certainly been an upside, Lagana said, although he added that profit margins are lower than in other private industry -- often below 10 percent.

For government contractors and other US-based businesses that are doing work in Iraq, the war there has continued to provide opportunity and benefits, although experts and companies alike say they are difficult to quantify. To be sure, security businesses, oil producers and defense contractors are among the biggest winners. Those who manufacture key products, from bulletproof vests to bullets themselves, and, more recently, those involved in reconstruction, have reaped the benefits, too.

--Businesses find benefits, costs in war work
Given their miserable records, why do GOP regimes persist? I can think of two reasons off hand. 1) wars are easily exploited to stir feelings of patriotism and false pride; 2) the GOP is the official party of big oil. Big oil depends upon the GOP to wage its oil wars. You pick up the tab. In return, the GOP gets a lot of money with which to steal and/or rig elections.

In the meantime, Americans are less safe under the dictators of "Imperial America". According to the Pew Research Center, American skepticism about the war in Iraq has increased steadily from its inception. The war in Iraq, like American imperial policies cause terrorism.

Now --let's put to rest the idiotic "cover story" that Bhutto's "main death" was a bump on the head. BS!!! It was a mob style hit job and there is unambiguous video of at least two hit men/

In the meantime, consistent with US destruction of 911 evidence, "fire crews" hose down the crime scene. Evidence against Bhutto's murderers may be lost forever.

Bhutto's Assassination Evidence Destroyed

UPDATED: Mobile pictures - Benazir was defintely shot dead before the Blast
Related developments from Information Clearing House:
Iraq: At least 16 killed in another bloody day of US occupation : The bodies of three people were found in different areas of Baghdad
Rioting in Pakistan continues: Nearly 50 people have been killed since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. President Musharraf vows to restore order after a third day of violence.
Pakistan TV station shows Bhutto shooter, contradicts government: The footage clearly shows Bhutto collapsing into her armoured- vehicle before the suicide blast, contradicting official government claims that she recoiled only after the blast and cracked her skull on the sunroof.
Pakistan rejects foreign help in Bhutto investigation:Pakistan rejected foreign help in investigating the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Saturday, despite controversy over the circumstances of her death and three days of paralyzing turmoil.
Bolton: US 'helped precipitate' conditions for Bhutto's assassination: John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said it was a mistake to collaborate with Bhutto's "desire to get back into the game in Pakistan" and view her as an alternative to the country's current leader, Pervez Musharraf.
Bhutto herself urged that should she be assassinated, members of the Musharraf government be investigated.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Here's Lookin' at you, kid: Casablanca, Analysis and Review

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy
Casablanca, the 1942 classic starring Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), Paul Henreid,(Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Louis Renault), Peter Lorre (Ugarte).
Casablanca is a classic, a one of a kind gem, a happy collection of talent and circumstance that happens once in a life time and not often enough in filmdom. Casablanca is the inspiration for spinoffs and wannabes. Some are themselves inspired. Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam (1972) was a "reverential homage" of great humor and merit. Lesser movies are likewise a nod to the original. They include Cabo Blanco of 1981, Barb Wire 1996 and a Bugs Bunny short, Carrotblanca of 1995.
The Hollywood fairy-tale was actually filmed during a time of US ties with Vichy France when President Roosevelt equivocated and vacillated between pro-Vichy or pro-Gaullist support. And it was rushed into general release almost three weeks after the Allied landing at the Axis-occupied, North African city of Casablanca, when Eisenhower's forces marched into the African city. Due to the military action, Warner Bros. Studios was able to capitalize on the free publicity and the nation's familiarity with the city's name when the film opened.

It played first as a pre-release engagement on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at the Hollywood Theater in New York. [On the last day of 1942, Roosevelt actually screened the film at the White House.] Its strategic timing was further enhanced at the time of its general release in early 1943 by the January 14-24, 1943 Casablanca Conference (a summit meeting in which Roosevelt broke US-Vichy relations) in the Moroccan city with Churchill, Roosevelt, and two French leaders - DeGaulle (the charismatic Free French leader) and General Henri Giraud (supportive of Marshal Petain). [Note: Stalin declined the invitation to attend the so-called 'Big Three' Conference.]

-- Casablanca (1942)

While all movies use language to reveal character, Casablanca is especially artful. Early in the film, we are treated to a linguistic portrait of Rick himself. Rick tells Renault that he came to Casablanca for the waters. Renault objects. Casablanca, he says, is in the desert. "I was misinformed", Rick replies. A single phrase sums up Rick's enigmatic character: "I stick my neck out for nobody". Later, Renault ticks off Rick's war time resume to include the running of guns to Ethiopia. He did it "for a price", Rick tells Renault. The inspector's reply pierces Rick's tough, defensive wall. "But the other side", he reminded Rick, "would have paid you twice as much!"

Much of the dialog has either become a part of the language or it has helped shape the way we speak it. It also sets up the film's most tragic character --Ugarte, a desparate, smarmy little man willing to sell "letters of transit" but, as Rick disdainfully replies: "...for a price, Ugarte. For a price!
Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?

Rick: Well, if I gave you any thought, I probably would.

Ugarte: But why? Oh, you object to the kind of business I do, huh? But think of all those poor refugees who must rot in this place if I didn't help them. Well that's not so bad, through ways of my own, I provide them with exit visas.

Rick: For a price, Ugarte, for a price.

Ugarte: But think of all the poor devils who can't meet Renault's price. I get it for them for half. Is that so parasitic?

Rick: I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.

Ugarte: Well, Rick, after tonight, I'll be through with the whole business, and I'm leaving finally, this Casablanca.

Rick: (quipping) Who'd you bribe for your visa, Renault or yourself?
Casblanca revolves about Rick's Cafe Americain. The most famous quote of all --"Play it again, Sam"--was never voiced in Casablanca. The actual exchange is associated with the film's first major plot point, the arrival of Ilsa, Rick's old flame of happier days in Paris before the Nazi occupation:
SAM: Leave him alone, Miss Ilsa. You're bad luck to him.

ILSA: (softly) Play it once, Sam, for old time's sake.

SAM: I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.

ILSA: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Casablanca - As Time Goes By

The music --as much as the improbable cosmopolitan atmosphere, the smart white jackets and bow ties, the Nazi threat --conjures up our nostalgia for a past we wouldn't want to live in were it not a movie. As Time Goes By is not the only standard made timeless by its use in Casablanca. Sam is playing and singing It Had to be You as we enter Rick's Cafe Americain for the first time.

Everyone in Casablanca, it seems, is trying to escape the Third Reich. Those that are not have made a Faustian bargain with it. At every turn, compromises are offered, intrigues are entered into, allies are betrayed, integrity is bought and sold. No stranger to compromise, Inspector Renault seems most comfortable with his Vichy responsibilities. He closed Rick's upon a gambling pretext but not before taking his own winnings. A beautiful, young Bulgarian bride is willing to sleep with Rick for letters of transit. So too, Ilsa, now married to Victor Lazlo, a resistance fighter, an intellectual of some renown, a man of unshakable integrity. Everything that Rick is not.

Critics, most notably Humberto Eco, will often tell you that Casablanca is a mediocre movie.
It is a comic strip, a hotch-potch, low on psychological credibility, and with little continuity in its dramatic effects. And we know the reason for this: The film was made up as the shooting went along, and it was not until the last moment that the director and script writer knew whether Ilse would leave with Victor or with Rick. So all those moments of inspired direction that wring bursts of applause for their unexpected boldness actually represent decisions taken out of desperation.

--Umberto Eco, Casablanca, or The Clichés are Having a Ball

So far, Eco is wrong. There is no evidence in the final draft of its having been made up as it was shot. Even if it had been --who cares? There is evidence that some of Shakespeare's plays went through last minute, desparate revisions. I've analyzed a few motion picture scripts. Few are as finely crafted as Casablanca. [See: The Existentialist Cowboy, Analysis and Review: Elizabeth (The Movie)] But, as Rick is redeemed in the end, likewise Humberto Eco by his more thoughtful conclusions. Having told us that Casablanca is a mediocre film, Eco goes on to tell us why it is great.
It opens in a place already magical in itself -- Morocco, the Exotic -- and begins with a hint of Arab music that fades into La Marseillaise. Then as we enter Rick's Place we hear Gershwin. Africa, France, America. At once a tangle of Eternal Archetypes comes into play. These are situations that have presided over stories throughout the ages. But usually to make a good story a single archetypal situation is enough. More than enough. Unhappy Love, for example, or Flight. But Casablanca is not satisfied with that: It uses them all. The city is the setting for a Passage.... The passage from the waiting room to the Promised Land requires a Magic Key, the visa. ...But eventually we discover that the Key can be obtained only through a Gift -- the gift of the visa, but also the gift Rick makes of his Desire by sacrificing himself For this is also the story of a round of Desires, only two of which are satisfied: that of Victor Laszlo, the purest of heroes, and that of the Bulgarian couple. All those whose passions are impure fail.

--Umberto Eco, Casablanca, or The Clichés are Having a Ball

Eco's language is familiar to anyone who's read Joseph Campbell or Christopher Vogler. These ideas influenced a generation of film makers --most notably George Lucas and Steven Speilberg. Quite simply, Casablanca speaks to us with the same force and with the same authority as the Arthurian legends about which Winston Churchill wrote: "If they are not true, they ought to be."

My own reasons for loving Casablanca are simpler but sufficient at least for me. Casablanca does what every movie should do. It invites you to become one of its characters. I will leave it to readers to decide for themselves which character they wish to be. That's the essence of movies, the secret of their magic. It's why we loved them as children. It's why we still seek them out as adults. For about one hundred, twenty minutes we get out of our skins. In about one hundred, twenty minutes, we, like Rick, muster up whatever it takes to do the right thing. In some one hundred, twenty minutes, we survive an inhuman tyranny and eventually triumph over it. What more do you want from mere celluloid? Here's looking at you, kid.

The Blood on Musharraf's Hands

Who benefits from the murder of Benazir Bhutto? Bhutto herself told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that if she were assassinated she would hold Pervez Musharraf "responsible". Certainly, the prospects for elections are dead. Pakistan will remain stuck with Musharraf and his de facto military dictatorship. Bush's ally still wields dictatorial powers. The big winners: Bush and Musharraf, for different reasons.

Who but Musharraf has benefited from Bhutto's murder? At the very least there are new concerns about the stability of Pakistan. American military officials have already said that some $5 billion Bush has thrown at the dictator under the cover of a war on terrorism has had no effect on either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Bush support of Musharraf has already been compared to his administrations ham fisted response to Katrina. Musharraf was the lynchpin of Bush's War on Terror, indeed, US foreign policy under Bush. Always simplistic, Bush threw money at Musharif in hopes the "evil doers" would volunteer to be tortured. Terrorism is the perfect cover to steal oil and territory while squandering tax payer monies propping tin horn dictators.

Bush policy is the geo-political version of three-card monte: pay off Musharraf in hopes that he will cheat the "mark". Certainly, the once-uniformed Dictator went through all the motions, pretending to fight al Qaeda while spending the money on new weapons trained on India. Nevertheless, Bush now has the pretext he needs to pressure Musharraf whom Bhutto, in death, holds responsible.
Last month President Bush told Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan that he must be more aggressive in hunting down al-Qaeda and the Taliban along his country's border with Afghanistan. During his recent visit to Islamabad, Vice President Cheney echoed the claim that al-Qaeda members were training in Pakistan's tribal areas and called on Musharraf to shut down their operations. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett also expressed concern recently about suspected terrorist safe havens.

Clearly, the pressure is on. Western leaders are finally beginning to recognize that Musharraf's regime has been unsuccessful in taming the Taliban, which has regrouped in the tribal areas of Pakistan while the military regime has given up trying to establish order on the Afghan border. At the same time, the regime has strategically chosen to help the United States when international criticism of the terrorists' presence becomes strident. The arrest of Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a top Taliban strategist, by Pakistani authorities late last month is a case in point. The timing, right on the heels of American and British pleas for renewed toughness, is too convenient. Akhund was arrested solely to keep Western governments at bay.

--A False Choice for Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, Monday, Washington Post, March 12, 2007

There is little doubt that Musharraf failed to provide Bhutto with adequate security. Significantly, both Raw Story and the Washington Post are now warning that Bhutto's murder has raised the specter of nuclear apocalypse.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 27, 2007) — US Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

“This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said.

“Benazir Bhutto represented a courageous effort to bring principles of liberty to Pakistan. She was truly dedicated to the people of Pakistan.

“The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

--Kucinich: Assassination of Benazir Bhutto Represents Dangerous Moment For The World 2007-12-27 15:17
Assassinations are carried out because they provoke anger and recriminations. Therefore, don't expect this assassination to result in trials or justice. As the murder of JFK in our own country demonstrated: assassins are almost never brought to trial because they are state sponsored. That's been the case for thousands of years. Nevertheless, finger pointers are simply playing out the role that "real killers" had hoped they would. The US, for example, will issue yet another version of Bush's script and blame the convenient demon du jour: al Qaeda. By the time you read this, such a statement will have already been issued. In that case, it must be remembered that al Qaeda is a creation of the US CIA.

Interestingly, Bhutto was ready to publicly accuse the Bush Administration and current Pakistani President Pervez Musharif of stealing up to five billion dollars from the Pakistani treasury. That five billion is probably sitting in the dictator's private offshore bank account. Real blockbusters are all but ignored by the "mainstream media", notably, Bhutto's revelation that Osama Bin Laden is dead:
In this November 2, 2007 interview by Sir David Frost, Benazir Bhutto claimed that Bin Laden had been assassinated by Omar Sheihk ( ), six minutes and ten seconds into the video. This is most interesting and, if true, it puts a lie to all those Osama bin Laden videos that have been turning up over the past five years - Omar Sheikh was sentenced to death in July 2002 for the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

-- Benazir Bhutto Claimed Bin Laden Assassinated By Omar Sheikh [Also see: Benazir Bhutto Assassination Brings Us Closer To Potential Nuclear Holocaust]

Related stories from Tom Heneghan.
[The] story leaked by US Media that Bush threatened to bomb Pakistan after 9-11 is a diversion from the real story. The real story is that Mushareaf, Pakistani President, knows that Bin Laden is dead and knows where he is buried. And knows that the bogeyman has gone to his maker aka kidney failure, Jan. 2002.

It can now be reported that Bushfraud threatened to bomb Pakistan just one week ago when Mushareaf threatened to tell the world that Bin Laden has been dead for three years.

P.S. It should be noted that when Khalid Muhammad was arrested in Pakistan, the alleged mastermind of 9-11, a US intelligence officer, aka a Gary Best employee named Spelezio was allowed to escape interrogation by the FBI on orders directly from Bush himself.

-- Bella Ciao, Tom Heneghan

Hang on! The world has just become a much, much more dangerous place. Pakistan --a nuclear power --may destabalize. India already feels threatened. Despite or because of Bush, terrorists are emboldened and further radicalized as they have been and continue to be by the war against Iraq. A voice for moderation in the most strategic region of the world --the Grand Chessboard --is now dead.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bumps Along the Road to Freedom

We may escape a close encounter with tyranny. As the GOP self-destructs, The Nation declares that Democrats are poised to roll back the excesses of George W. Bush. The battle is won when Democrats retake the government; the war is lost if Democrats fail to restore the republic and the Constitution. We have stared into Nietzche's abyss and saw ourselves! We remain our greatest threat since the 1930s.

Every heroic struggle deserves an equally heroic soundtrack. In 1830, Hector Berlioz orchestrated not a film score --but a life score: La Marseillaise.

Casablanca - Rick´s Bar

The year 1830 was recalled by Hector Berlioz in his memoirs. While he had been two weeks shut up in the Paris Conservatoire writing a cantata, a revolution had broken out.

I was finishing my cantata when the Revolution broke out," "I dashed off the final pages of my orchestral score to the sound of stray bullets coming over the roofs and pattering on the wall outside my window. On the 29th I had finished, and was free to go out and roam about Paris till morning, pistol in hand. A day or two later I was crossing the courtyard of the Palais Royal when I heard a tune I knew well - a dozen or so young men singing a battle hymn of my composition [one of the Neuf Mélodies on texts of Thomas Moore]. Unused as I was to this kind of popularity, the discovery delighted me and I pushed my way through to the circle of singers and requested permission to join them. The audience grew steadily and the space round the little patriotic band got smaller and smaller. We barely escaped, and fled with the crowd streaming behind us till we reached the Galérie Colbert. There a haberdasher asked us up to a second-floor balcony, where we could 'rain down our music on our admirers' without the risk of being suffocated.

We struck up the Marseillaise. Almost at once a holy stillness fell upon the seething mass at our feet. After each refrain there was a profound silence. This is not at all what I had expected. On beholding that vast concourse of people I recalled that I had just arranged Rouget de Lisle's song for double chorus and full orchestra, and that where one normally writes 'tenors and basses' I had written instead 'everyone with a voice, a soul and blood in his veins.' After the fourth verse I could contain myself no longer, and I yelled, 'Confound it all - sing!' The great crowd roared out its Aux armes citoyens! with the power and precision of a trained choir.

--Memoirs of Hector Berlioz on La Marseillaise

Berlioz dedicated his setting of the Marseillaise to the anthem's author, Rouget de Lisle, who, by 1830, was living in indigent retirement in Choisy, on the southern fringes of Paris. The rise in popular democratic zeal surrounding the 1830 Revolt caused a renewed interest in his patriotic hymn, and King Louis-Philippe granted the poet an annual pension of 1500 francs. De Lisle wrote Berlioz a letter of appreciation on December 30, 1830, inviting Berlioz to visit him in Choisy to discuss an unnamed proposal. "I heard later," Berlioz continued in his Memoirs, "that de Lisle - who incidentally wrote many fine songs besides the Marseillaise - had an unpublished libretto on Othello that he wished to offer me. Being obliged to leave Paris on the day after I received this letter [for Rome as prize winner], I sent my apologies and explained that my visit would have to wait until after my return from Italy. The poor man died in the interval. I never met him."

--La Marseillaise - Berlioz

And in historical New Orleans, a reminder that the city's current problems with the Federal Government in Washington are not new.
New Orleans, LA (AHN) - The City Council of New Orleans unanimously voted to demolish 4,500 government-subsidized homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, despite overwhelming criticism and riotous protests that included a brawl in the council chamber before the vote.

The 7-member council supported a redevelopment plan of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to replace the C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, Lafitte and St. Bernard public housing projects with a mixed-use development that has 744 public housing units. ...

--Update 2: New Orleans City Council Unanimously Votes To Demolish Public Housing, December 20, 2007 7:01 p.m. EST

History, it seems, does repeat itself. Certainly, the battle for "liberte" is not won. In 1917, the government of the United States --the War Department, I believe --imperiously decided that certain parts of New Orleans had no right to exist. Those areas were "shut down", residents forced to relocate. The War Department presided over the destruction of property. I call that tyranny!

Billie Holiday & Louis Armstrong - Farewell to Storyville

The area is known to us as "Storyville" for Alderman Sidney Story, who decreed in 1898 that prostitution should be legal in the area called by locals --"the District". The photographic images of photographer E J Bellocq, circa 1912, are among the few visual records of Storyville that survive. Bellocq, a commercial photographer for shipping companies, is remembered for the "studies" he made of working women in Storyville. His images, at once prurient and artistic, capture perfectly the ambiguity with which the rest of the US regarded New Orleans --a "French city" in America, a city in which the famous French Impressionist Edgar Degas lived for a while and produced important work. He found himself in the middle of post-Civil War politics. New Orleans itself was comfortable "in its own skin" if puritans elsewhere in the South were not.

I have yet to find the legal authority for the Federal Government's closure of Storyville during World War I. The New Orleans City Government protested vigorously to no avail. Nevertheless, with the Storyville's loss segregated "dens of prostitution" emerged around the city. By the 1930s very little remained of famous old mansions along Basin Street, some of the finest structures in the city. It seemed a deliberate effort to erase the very memory of Storyville. Efforts to rename Basin Street "North Saratoga" failed. Today, Basin Street is Basin Street and a classic blues tune bears its name. The video above is from a 1947 film featuring Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oscar Peterson's Dream of Peace and Equality

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Oscar Peterson had been called by some the greatest jazz pianist ever. He was also an articulate advocate of peace. My guest columnist ---Oscar Peterson:

by Oscar Peterson

It is not unlike the state of good health. Something that we all seem to take for granted, and wait too long to do something about, until we are in dire pain; WAR. We expect it to be with us at all times whilst doing nothing to constructively insure this. We try our best to ignore others that may be suffering with bad health and seemingly only intercede when it is blatantly to our advantage.

For all of us to participate locally in the quest for peace it would seem to me, forestalls the chance of a world wide epidemic; WORLD WAR.

My vision of peace encompasses an awareness of the rights of our fellow man irrespective of race, color or creed. Words spoken and repeated many times on many occasions, political or otherwise, and by many individuals; but so often only used to fill spaces on paper. I believe that if mankind could honestly embrace the true embodiment of those misused words, the world would be much farther along the road to good health.

Over the last years, I have followed with extreme interest, man’s (and women’s) struggle to expand the frontiers of our world to include the unknown and voluminous reaches of space. During this time there have of course been varied speculations about what type of life possibly exists out there, and whether we could comprehend them and their mode of life. My own concern has always been slanted more towards what they would think of we humanoids and our warring ways. Should any visitors emanating from a peaceful society enter our galaxy, they must certainly diagnose us as a terminal species.

We can stem the tide of the epidemic by taking the time to recognize our brothers and sisters as humans that have been willed the right to exist anywhere in this world that they should so choose. That they also have the right to work and earn a fair and equitable wage. They must have the opportunity to raise their families without fear of the hate squads and the purveyors of bigotry and oppression. They must retain the right to choose their own system of government so long as all people remain free and equally represented. They must have the right to worship in their own private way without forcing their own religious beliefs on their neighbors.

We can look on these inalienable human rights as the vitamins and antibiotics that keep our present day civilization healthy and productive. They are at times to some of us bitter pills to take especially when we have prospered on our brothers and sister’s illness. However, it has been proven beyond all shadow of a doubt that we can only have a healthy world if we are able to throw off that perennial yoke of selfishness and oppressive decadence.

We are the primary architects of our future destiny, and as such, can also be the physicians that are capable of initiating the healing process that our world so desperately is in need of. To myself as a citizen of the same world, I look forward to the time when the medication of brotherly understanding and respect begins to make its effect felt, and the world is on the road to good health!

-- PEACE, Oscar Peterson

The soul of Montreal's favorite son lives on in soaring, swinging jazz licks of incredible invention and precision. Classically trained, Peterson could swing with unerring senses of phrasing and rhythm. Other great musicians were flattered to perform with him and challenged to keep up with him. It is my hope that his dreams of world peace will likewise blossom and enrich us. Adieu, Oscar.

Oscar Peterson & Andre Previn play together

Duke Ellington called Peterson "the "Maharajah of the keyboard". His career spanned 60 years. Wikipedia has done a creditable job with his essential bio facts.

Oscar Peterson Trio - A Gal In Callico (1958)

Oscar Peterson [Night time] - A Night in Vienna

Ella Fitzgerald sings "More Than You Know" with Oscar Peterson 1980

Also see: Oscar Peterson, Piano Virtuoso




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