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Mainstream Media

"Three Ways Bush Makes Castro Happy"

Ann Louise Bardach, Los Angeles Times

It's unlikely that Fidel Castro could have conjured up a more satisfying scenario for himself than the latest chapter in that sorry tangle that passes for U.S.-Cuba policy.

Nor could he have confected a better scheme for diverting attention from Cuba's crushing economic woes and its growing ranks of dissidents.

Consider the justice dispensed to three Cubans: a fugitive wanted for terrorism, a distinguished military scholar and a popular crooner.

"Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War"

Dana Milbank,
Washington Post

In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took
a trip to the land of make-believe.

They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee
hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them
look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra
flags to make the whole thing look official.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got
the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much
that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other
chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection
so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so
two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along.

The session was a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war. As luck
would have it, all four of the witnesses agreed that President Bush
lied to the nation and was guilty of high crimes — and that a British
memo on "fixed" intelligence that surfaced last month was the smoking
gun equivalent to the Watergate tapes. Conyers was having so much fun
that he ignored aides' entreaties to end the session.

"Ice-Pick That Killed Trotsky Found in Mexico"

Jo Tuckman, London Guardian

Mexico City — One of the most notorious murder weapons in modern history, the
ice-pick that killed Leon Trotsky, appears to have been found, 65
years after it was apparently stolen from the Mexican police.

The daughter of a former secret service agent claims she has the
steel mountaineering instrument, which is stained with the blood
of the Russian revolutionary.

Exiled by Joseph Stalin, Trotsky lived a relatively settled life
in a suburb of Mexico City until his death in 1940.

Trotsky was always fearful of assassination attempts organised by
Stalin. He was finally caught off guard by Ramon Mercader, who on
August 20, 1940 gained access to him on the pretext of needing

Once in the study, Mercader struck the creator of the Red Army in
the head from behind with the shortened pick he had hidden under
his clothes.

Murderer and ice-pick were taken into custody but the weapon
later disappeared.

Now Ana Alicia Salas says her father, Commander Alfredo Salas,
stole the pick because he wanted to preserve it for posterity.

Trotsky's grandson Seva Volkov, who lived with his grandfather at
the time and still lives in Mexico, is willing to provide samples
for a DNA test against the blood on the handle only if Ms Salas
donates the pick to the museum in the house where the murder took

But she said: "I am looking for some financial benefit. I think
something as historically important at this should be worth
something, no?"

"Venezuela's Chavez Warns Soldiers of Assassination Plot"

Christopher Toothaker, Associated Press

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned
soldiers on Tuesday that government adversaries were trying to provoke
divisions within the military and plotting to assassinate him.

Speaking at a Caracas military base, Chavez said that a military parade
held annually on June 24 was canceled this year due to intelligence
reports pointing to a purported plot to kill him.

"Iraq: A Message From the Insurgents"

David Baran & Mathieu Guidere

Le Monde diplomatique (France)

The occupying forces in Iraq have managed to set up a national assembly, government and presidency; yet they are making little headway against armed resistance fighters. Who are these fighters, what do they want and how do they operate? There are some clues in their videos and texts.

IRAQ'S armed opposition, though routinely accused of speaking only the language of terror, makes a priority of communications strategy. Combatant groups produce an astonishingly large and varied range of texts and images, not limited to the visions of brutality we have seen on television.

Tabloid Culutre and Media Spectacle Symposium

Roehampton, UK, May 21, 2005

'Tabloid Culture and Media Spectacle' is the second annual symposium
organised by the Centre for Research in Film and Audiovisual Cultures London. The
event will explore the evolution, parameters and new directions of tabloid
culture in order to think through its cultural and political implications –
addressing issues including politics and thhe popular, celebrity culture, media
spectacle, tabloid news, journalism and factual programming.

The New York Times Supports Thought Control:
The Massad Case

Edward S. Herman, ZNet

The New York Times has never been a very courageous newspaper in times of
political hysteria and threats to civil liberties. When Bertrand Russell was
denied the right to fill his appointment at CCNY in 1940, following an ugly
campaign by a rightwing Catholic faction opposed to his positions on divorce
and marriage, the paper not only failed to defend him, its belated editorial
called the appointment "impolitic and unwise" and criticized him for not
withdrawing when the going got hot ("The Russell Case," April 20, 1940).
Russell pointed out in a published reply something the editors had missed:
that there was a serious matter of principle at stake; that a withdrawal
would have been "cowardly and selfish" and would have "tacitly assented to
the proposition that substantial groups should be allowed to drive out of
public office individuals whose opinions, race or nationality they find
repugnant" (April 26, 1940).

During the McCarthy era also the Times failed to stand by its ex-Communist
employees who were willing to tell all to the Times officials, but not turn
informers. They were fired, and in its news and editorials the paper failed
to oppose the witchhunt with vigor and on the basis of principle. Publisher
Arthur Hays Sulzberger himself wrote an editorial assailing the use of the
Fifth Amendment in appearances before the House Committee on UnAmerican
Activities (August 6, 1948).

We are in another period of escalating attacks on civil liberties, with the
Patriot Act, a lawless rightwing administration, open threats to retaliate
against judicial failures to follow rightwing dictates, and perpetual
aggression to create the justification for repressive policies at home. An
important additional factor is the steadily increasing aggressiveness of
pro-Zionist forces, both in the United States and elsewhere, who have fought
to contain criticism of Israeli policies by any means, including harassment,
intimidation, threats, boycotts, claims of "anti-semitism," occasional
resort to violence, and other forms of pressure. While sometimes allegedly
based on the need for fairness, balance and truthfulness, these campaigns
are completely one-sided and are invariably aimed at suppressing alternative
views and inconvenient facts.

Signatories Sought in Response to "Tutorials in Terrorism"

The document below was drafted in response to an article by Keith Windschuttle last week in The Australian. The text of this article can be found online (here).

If you'd like to sign the document below, contact Jon Roffe at overground@imap.cc.

“Civilised values” indeed. What we actually find in Keith Windschuttle’s article, “Tutorials in Terrorism,” (The Australian, March 16 2005*) is a thin polemical canvas thrown over a series of gross simplifications, factual omissions and pre-emptive judgements in relation to the life and work of Italian philosopher Antonio Negri.

"Noam Chomsky, Still Furious at 76"

Alan Taylor, Sunday Herald, UK

On my way to meet Noam Chomsky in Boston, I pick up a copy of
The American Prospect, whose cover features snarling
caricatures of US Vice-President Dick Cheney, and of Chomsky:
the man dubbed by Bono 'the Elvis of academia'.

Cheney is
presented as the proverbial bull in an international china
shop, Chomsky is portrayed by this 'magazine of liberal
intelligence' as the epitome of high- minded dove-ish,
misguided idealism. Chomsky, of course, is well used to such
attacks. For every cloying article by a disciple, there is a
rocket from the enemy camp revelling in his perceived
failings and undermining his reputation, denigrating his
scholarship as a linguist and joyfully repeating statements
which, when taken out of context, seem tinged with

Uzi Mahnaimi writes:

Israel Plans Strike on Iranian Nuclear Sites

London Sunday Times

Israel has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme.

The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave “initial authorisation” for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert.


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