Trevor notes an Associated Press article (yes, the New York Times still appears to be in vacation mode) entitled "Indonesia Admits 'Support' by U.S. Gold Company to the Military:"
Indonesia's military acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that an American gold company had been providing direct "support" to army units accused of human rights abuses in the remote province of Papua.
A joint services spokesman, Maj. Gen. Kohirin Suganda, said the armed forces "as an institution" had never received payments from the company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, based in New Orleans. "But we have heard that Freeport provides support such as vehicles, fuel and meals directly to the units in the field," General Suganda said. "That's the company's policy. It was not done because we requested it."
[. . .]
The revelations are potentially embarrassing for the Bush administration, which recently lifted a ban on ties with the Indonesian military imposed in 1999 by President Bill Clinton after a rampage by Indonesian troops in East Timor that killed at least 1,500 people.
How so? How are the revelations potentially embarrassing? First of all the Bully Boy and his administration have never demonstrated the ability to accept blame, let alone to feel shame. But is this a problem for the administration? Serious question because the article doesn't mention 1996 which does involve a Bush, Poppy. That's when Poppy wrote to the Indonesian dictator attempting to secure more favorable treatment for the Barrick Corporation. Suharto did give Barrick concessions but then Freeport-McMoRan's Jim Bob Moffett outsmarted both Poppy and Barrick (and himself, according to Greg Palast, see page 91 of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy).
The "revelations" of the payroll are hardly "revelations." The administration surely took note that there was no great outcry from the mainstream media (including the Times) over the re-establishing of ties with Indonesia. So possibly, knowing that, this is just the administration evening the score with an old competitor? Or are we supposed to assume that the Bush family doesn't have a petty bone in their body? (In which case, Big Bab's carping about soda cans being left open by the grandchildren must have flown over everyone's head. Still a cheapskate, after all these years. You picture her running after Noelle, Jenna, et al screeching, "Finish that Coke! Finish that Coke!" A message some may have taken to heart?)
Mia notes T.J. Rodgers' "British, US Spying Draws Us Closer to Orwell's Big Brother" (San Jose Mercury News via Common Dreams):
In the United States, President Bush is acting under apparently self-granted powers to "authorize'' the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans -- of course, only on Americans threatening terrorist acts.
In an act of high integrity, one of the judges of the secret court that grants Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act search warrants resigned, citing the fact that Bush was now bypassing even that minimal civil rights guarantee by directly authorizing NSA spying on U.S. citizens. One can only imagine that this troublesome judge will be replaced with one more friendly to the administration.
With only the need to combine two real-world technologies for spying and tracking, the vision of 1984 -- once just a dark philosophical concept -- becomes an engineering project.
The president and those to whom he delegates his authority can now authorize government spooks to listen to us in our homes and on our cell phones. When we are not home, they can track us in our automobiles. The system could be airtight and could be used to control our actions.
It's simple enough for most Silicon Valley companies to create a chip to detect a valid GPS signal and disable an automobile's ignition system to prevent citizens from the "unauthorized use'' of their own vehicles.
The final move into the totality of 1984 requires only a bit of philosophical drift, as exemplified by J. Edgar Hoover's directive to spy on the Rev. Martin Luther King because he was a subversive. If Bush's latest acts are left unchallenged, the government will become bolder at spying on whomever it wants and secretly jailing those it deems a threat to national security -- all with no troublesome warrants or messy public trials.
From DC Indymedia, we'll note something Bonnie found, "Alito Helped Quash Black Panther Lawsuit Against the Gov't:"
The National Archives has released notes and documents from Judge Alito, nominee for the Supreme Court, advising the government not to send a Black Panther lawsuit to the Supreme Court. According to Alito, the only exception would be to send a message "to prevent the harassment of present and former public officials through meritless litigation." Alito then went on to help write the legal brief for the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit. The Panthers sued Bush Senior, the FBI and the CIA, for conspiring to destroy the Black Panthers.
Alito Documents and Notes Related to Black Panthers Lawsuit
Today, environmental groups, including Sierra Club, Greenpeace, declared their opposition to the nomination of Alito to the Supreme Court.
Ned notes that when choosing between Hugo Chavez and higher fares, the Chicago Transit Authority goes with higher fares. From Jessica Pupovac's "CTA Turns Down Discounted Venezuelan Oil, Raises Fares Instead" (The New Standard via Chicago Indymedia):
Chicago, Dec 28 (TNS) - The Chicago Transit Authority is refusing an opportunity to alleviate commuting costs for hundreds of thousands in the Windy City's low-income neighborhoods. Instead of accepting deeply discounted fuel from the Venezuela-owned Citgo Petroleum Corporation, the city is instead raising fares to solve budget shortfalls.
In an October meeting with representatives from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the city's Department of Energy and other city officials, Citgo unveiled a plan to provide the Chicago with low-cost diesel fuel. The company's stipulation, at the bidding of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was that the CTA, in turn, pass those savings on to poor residents in the form free or discounted fare cards.But two months later, despite claims of a looming budget crisis, the CTA president "has no intent or plan to accept the offer," according to CTA spokesperson Ibis Antongiorgi. She gave no explanation.
According to Venezuela's consul general in Chicago, Martin Sanchez, the CTA has yet to inform his office of its decision to decline the discount offer.
In place of the proposed discount, which the CTA apparently does not want Chicagoans to even know about, budget shortfalls will be addressed by fair hikes. Chicagoans who are unaware of the Venezuela offer will be hit with an increase of 25 cents per ride next month, and discounted route-to-route transfers will be eliminated for passengers paying cash.
What's the topic for Democracy Now! today? Reviewing the year 2005 so listen, watch or read.
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