Friday, January 27, 2006

Cuba's astounding achievements

Modern-day David and Goliath

The facts and figures were by themselves quite impressive and made it easier for participants to the 3rd Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Solidarity with Cuba to transcend political and ideological differences and unite behind the call to end the 46-year United States embargo against the small, socialist island state.

I was fortunate enough to be one of 194 delegates from over a hundred organizations from 17 countries meeting in Chennai, India over the weekend to hear about Cuba's astounding achievements.

According to Mr. Sergio Corrieri-Hernandez , president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, economic growth was 11.8% in 2005 compared with an average for Latin America of barely 4%.

Over half of industrial sectors experienced significant growth: nickel exports benefited from buoyant international prices while tourism was up by 12%. In the pharmaceuticals sector, production of medicines rose by over 26%.

We were appraised by the Sri Lankan Minister for Science and technology that Cuba had successfully developed a vaccine against dengue hemorrhagic fever and had been free of outbreaks for the last two years. Cuba's remarkable advances in biotechnology had also resulted in vaccines for head and neck cancer for which foreign, including US multinational drug companies, were negotiating production agreements.

Wage rates and retirement pensions were increased substantially, a fact that would be the envy of workers and ordinary employees in the Philippines.

Hundreds of schools and health centers have been renovated with over 140 social programs in public health education, culture and welfare successfully implemented. For example, 21 district intensive-therapy units, equipped to modern standards, were completed; restructuring and extension works were carried out at 52 national hospitals, equipped with the world's best technology.

If Cuban doctors and other health professionals are going abroad in the thousands, it is not to seek greener pastures and more professionally rewarding working conditions like their Filipino counterparts. To date 27,000 are selflessly serving in 60 countries across the world, particularly in Latin America and Africa. 2,345 of them are in Pakistan, working in difficult and hazardous situations in far-flung areas, to respond to the humanitarian crisis recently wrought by a devastating earthquake.

At the same time, dozens of thousands of international students are being trained in Cuba, of whom 12,000 are studying medicine.

The process of making higher education universally accessible has benefited 500,000 students. Thus Cuba is becoming what some observers call a "university nation" where higher education for all is no longer mere rhetoric but a concrete reality.

These solid achievements are all the more astounding considering what Cuba has been up against since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s. It involved the loss of 85% of Cuba's markets for its main exports like sugar, 80% of imports and a 35 percentage-point nosedive in its GNP.

Mr. Hernandez matter-of-factly pointed out that not many governments could not have withstood such a blow. Argentina, for example, lost only 12% GNP in its own crisis and subsequently had three presidents in just two years.

But since the victory of the Cuban Revolution against the Batista dictatorship in January 1959, the US and its allies have not stopped attempts to destroy and overthrow the first socialist state in the western part of the hemisphere.

An economic, commercial and financial embargo has been imposed on Cuba by the US, which is still in place after 46 years, making it one of the most enduring embargoes in modern history. It is estimated that the embargo has so far caused Cuba the direct economic impact of US $82 billion with ongoing annual loss of around $2 billion.

The economic blockade that has been legally reinforced in the last decade with other laws that ban Cuba from importing goods of US origin from third countries, impose penalties on foreign companies doing business in Cuba, permit U.S. citizens to sue foreign investors who make use of American-owned property seized by the Cuban government, and deny entry into the U.S. to such foreign investors.

Now the question begs to be answered. What can justify such a cruel and shameful embargo that is undermining the fundamental right of a sovereign nation to chart its own destiny? What gives the US the legal and moral right to deny the Cuban people their choice of the kind of social system - socialism - that will sustain and develop their collective goals and the kind of government - led by the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro - that will steer the people in their chosen direction.

Furthermore, how can such an embargo stay when, in the past 13 years, more and more countries have been voting in the United Nations General Assembly for the US to lift its irrational and unjustifiable sanctions? In the 2004 vote, there were 179 in favor of the resolution, only 4 against and 1 abstaining.

Clearly, the US embargo against Cuba is violating fundamental principles of international relations and directly subverts the sovereignty and independence of Cuba. The destructive hostility of ten US administrations during the last 46 years has proven itself in every means that the US has utilized to destroy the Cuban revolution, from armed invasion and state-sponsored terrorism, to assassination attempts against Mr. Castro and up to the introduction of plant and animal plagues that will affect civilian populations.

But according to the Cubans, no administration has been as hostile as that of George W. Bush. On May 2004, Mr. Bush approved a 450 page report issued by the "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba" which included measures to tighten the blockade, destroy Cuba's tourism industry, prohibit foreign investment, restrict Cubans in the US from sending money to their families, etc.

The Cubans have no illusions. They see such a report as a "document of colonization" underscoring heightened US interference meant to force Cuba to undertake "regime change". They know that Cuba is in the crosshairs of the US so-called "war on terror" along with Syria, Korea and Iran because they have been demonized as "rogue states". In fact Cuba appears on all the blacklists that the Bush administration has seen fit to draw up: human rights, terrorism, drugs etc.

It is incumbent on all honest and fair men and women who can appreciate the heroic efforts of the Cuban people and its leaders to stand up to US punishment, bullying and outright aggression to stand in solidarity with them.

Only in this way can the Davids of today prevail over the monster Goliath that also goes by the name US imperialism.#

By Carolina Pagaduan-Araullo

Message from Cuba

Message from the Cuban Chapter of the "In Defense of Humanity" Movement

Cuban artists and intellectuals of the "In Defense of Humanity" international movement salute the election of Evo Morales as an extraordinary triumph for the people of Bolivia and a victory for all the peoples of Our America.

The rise of an authentic popular leader to the presidency of Bolivia brings with it a real possibility to end the vicious model that deprives the large majority of people of their means of survival, their basic rights, their values and their culture. Those who have always been discriminated and excluded are now in power and are posed to change their fate. As Jose Marti said:
"Only when the native peoples begin to walk will the American continent
begin to move forward." Today we feel that the indigenous and all the
excluded of our continent are walking with Evo.

The door is opening for social movements in Latin America to have a more direct and participatory role. As never before, forces truly opposing imperialist rule are emerging and a process of profound transformations for the benefit of the vast majorities gains momentum.

"In Defense of Humanity", which has the privilege to have Evo Morales among its founders, has embarked on creating a large front made up of intellectuals, artists and social activists in favor of justice, truth and the salvation of humanity, while opposing the neo fascist forces who use savagery and hegemonic machinery to misinform the public.

In this exceptional historical context we join our sisters and brothers from Mexico and other countries who have already voiced their support, and we ratify our solidarity with the people of Bolivia. At the same time we make an appeal to all men and women to declare their support for the new government of Bolivia and the cause it represents, which is the cause of the poor of this planet.

Scrap VFA now!

January 27, 2006
Bayan Muna: Scrapping of VFA must follow VFACom abolition

A militant lawmaker pressed for the scrapping of the controve! rsial RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as the “most appropriate move after the abolition of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACom).”

Bayan Muna partylist congressman Joel Virador also called on his colleagues in the House of Representatives “to take national interest to heart and scrap the VFA.”
Malacañang has decided to abolish the commission because it “duplicates” the functions of the bicameral Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA (LOVFA) – headed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Cebu representative Antonio Cuenco.

“Aside from saving P20 million of government funds every year, the abolition of the VFACom may be considered a step towards the abrogati! on of the onerous, one-sided and Constitutionally-infirm VFA,” Virador said.

The legislator also shrugged off fears that the Philippines could lose up to US$8 million a year in military and humanitarian benefits if the 1998 agreement were abrogated.

“We should not fear that we will lose US$8 million annually if we scrap the VFA. The country has a guaranteed inflow of dollar remittances from migrant workers that amounted to more than US$10 billion in 2005. We can actually do away with all US military assistance so that our armed forces can actually pursue its modernization independently for our own national interests,” Virador said.

Bayan Muna has consistently called for the abrogation of the VFA and another unequal pact – the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

“The US government has always undermines our national sovereignty. The alleged rape of a 22-year old Filipina by four US Marines and the US’ firm stance of not turning the suspects over to our authorities illustrates the US government’s arrogance as a self-proclaimed and lone superpower in the world. That is why the VFA and the Mutual Defense Treaty must be scrapped,” Virador said. #

Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Joel G. Virador
Contact Number: 931-6166
South Wing Room 617, House of Representatives, Batasan, Quezon City

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mga Pinoy, susuporta sa People Power vs GMA

Mga Pinoy, susuporta sa People Power vs GMA
Ina Alleco R. Silverio

LIMANG taon makalipas ang ika-tatlong People Power sa loob ng dalawang dekada, kinikilala pa rin ng mga Pilipino ang People Power bilang paraan ng pag-aalis ng isang pangulo, ayon sa isang sarbey ng Pulse Asia na inilabas kamakailan.

Sa 1,200 na nag responde, 58 % ang nagsabing susuporta sila sa mga pag-aaklas kung mapatunayan ang mga sala ng kasalukuyang presidenteng si Gloria Aroyo habang 42 % ang hindi pumabor sa huling tatlong nagdaan pag-aaklas laban sa gobyerno.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nag-aapply ka ba ng US visa?

Reeves & Associates, an immigration law firm, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines to stop improper questioning of individuals concerning experimental use of drugs in order to impose a lifetime bar for qualified visa applicants seeking to enter the United States. The case was filed on August 29, 2005 and will be tried before the Honorable Percy Anderson, Case No. CV 05-6408 PA (SSx). This lawsuit will address improper actions of physicians at the medical exams as well as misapplication of the law by officers during the consular interview. Reeves & Associates expects this case will have a far-reaching impact on thousands of visa applicants who have been barred from the United States by the Manila embassy.

Robert DuPont, attorney for the Reeves Firm comments “This is not a case about admitting drug addicts or drug dealers into the United States. This case concerns the permanent denial of visas to persons who have admitted one time experimental use of drugs such as marijuana, or who admit drug use that is remote in time. We have studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse which show over one-half of American high-schoolers have experimented with drugs. Even U.S. Presidents have admitted to experimentation with drugs. Congress never intended youthful experimentation to be a reason to exclude qualified visa holders.”

The case challenges the Manila Embassy’s use of the medical exam to extract “admissions” from unwitting visa applicants. The medical exam is a requirement for all immigrant and some non-immigrant visa categories. The purpose of the medical exam as defined by the Centers for Disease Control is to identify medical conditions, including current use or addiction to drugs, not to identify youthful experimentation for the purpose of developing evidence to bar visa applicants for life.

It is believed that certain officials at the U.S. Embassy in Manila are instructing physicians to obtain admissions of past drug use, even experimentation, and then use that information to permanently bar visa applicants from entry into the United States. The danger here is that once applicants learn they should not share information with physicians at the medical exam, applicants will also not share crucial information concerning the state of their health.

“Physicians are reportedly using deceit and misrepresentation, by misleading individuals as to the consequences of answering repeated questions regarding drug use. These actions undermine the whole medical exam process which depends on trust in a doctor patient relationship and that patients are forthcoming with their medical information.” stated attorney Robert DuPont.

The lawsuit also seeks to force the Embassy to recognize statutes and regulations enacted by Congress for one-time experimental use of drugs, or proof of recovery from drug addiction. Consular officials have ignored specific provisions in the law which effectively excuse experimentation with drugs or drug use that is remote in time and instead apply a very broad provision concerning admission of conduct which violates a
law involving a controlled substance. Attorney DuPont stated “Embassy officials cannot and should not ignore the clear intent of Congress in drafting laws which provide relief to individuals who admit to long past experimentation with drugs.” It is expected that this lawsuit will affect thousands of cases in which qualified visa petitioners were wrongfully denied entry based on an admission of past drug use at a medical exam.

The effects of this lawsuit will be dramatic as most individuals who have been refused entry to the United States still have a valid immigrant visa petition. “Once we get the declaratory relief we believe our clients are entitled to they can return to the embassy and re-apply for admission based on their long-approved visa petitions.” The lawsuit includes spouses, sons and daughters of United States citizens and legal permanent resident petitioners. “ We think this case will have a dramatic impact and re-unite families separated and ruined by these policies and
practices which appear to be unique to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.” states attorney DuPont. “If you or your family members have been refused admission to the U.S. based on admissions made at a medical exam, it is crucial that you contact a qualified immigration attorney who can examine the facts and determine whether you should consider trying to re-apply for admission or seek other remedies in court.”

Author's Note: The analysis and suggestions offered in this column do
not create a lawyer-client relationship and are not a substitute for
the individual legal research and personalized representation that is
essential to every case.

Atty. Reeves has represented clients in numerous landmark immigration
cases that have set new policies regarding INS action and immigrants'
rights. His many successes have been published in Interpreter Releases,
Immigration Briefings and AILA Monthly which are nationally recognized
immigration periodicals widely read by immigration lawyers, State
Department and immigration officials. His cases are also cited in test
books as a guide to other immigration practitioners. His offices are
located in Pasadena, San Francisco, Beijing and Makati City. Telephone:
759-6777 E-mail: Website:

A Petition for Press Freedom


January 24, 2006

Proposed amendment to Bill of Rights: A menace to Philippine democracy

We, the undersigned media organizations, oppose the move to amend the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution and condemn government efforts to curtail the democratic space.

The Malacanang-appointed Constitutional Commission has proposed amending Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, to wit: "No law shall be passed abridging the RESPONSIBLE EXERCISE of freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."

The addition of the phrase "responsible exercise" undermines these basic rights and raises the specter of whimsical and capricious interpretation by administrations that seek to curb legitimate dissent.

A free press is a cornerstone of a democracy. To qualify its exercise, to put parameters around it, makes it vulnerable to abuse and misuse.

The Arroyo administration has shown a penchant for blaming journalists for its political woes. Whether faced with corruption scandals or anti-insurgency efforts that go awry, it has tried to wriggle out of trouble by using the press as scapegoat. Its often hostile stance toward the Philippine media has exacerbated the dangers faced by journalists in this country.

With 10 journalists murdered in 2005, the Philippines is second only to Iraq as the world's most dangerous country to practice the profession. To say this government does not inspire confidence in the realm of interpreting "responsible exercise" of press freedom would be an understatement.

Philippine media is not infallible. Journalists in the country have had to struggle with a dearth in opportunities for skills improvement, not to mention harsh and unjust work conditions. There have been many instances of irresponsible, unethical practice of the profession.

These, however, are not sufficient grounds to tamper with a basic democratic right. There are enough laws to ensure a system of redress for those who see themselves wronged by an irresponsible press. Journalists who use their profession to commit crimes are not exempt from the country's laws.

We believe the media situation reflects the national state of affairs. Philippine media is bedeviled by corruption, by economic injustice, and now by the growing threat of authoritarianism.

The proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights spits on the spirit of that hallowed document. It is not merely the press that is threatened. All Filipinos risk curtailment of their most basic rights by administrations desperate to hold on to power. Certainly, the Arroyo government has shown a dangerous bent to push the limits of executive power in its bid to counter political disenchantment.

The exercise of rights has never endangered Philippine democracy. On the contrary, the Filipino people's vigorous defense of the freedom of the press, of speech, of expression, and of the right to assembly has served the cause of democracy by holding leaders accountable for their actions. The real menace lies in the curbing of these rights. There lies the road to national perdition.


Please sign this petition by listing the name of your organization below and emailing this back to You can view updated list of signators at This petition will be forwarded to Philippine lawmakers.


Defend Mindanao from mining plunder!

Defend our Land and Patrimony!
Defend our Future! An Interfaith Statement of the Peoples of Mindanao
MindaNews / 22 January 2006

Adopted by the delegates to the Mindanao Interfaith Conference on Mining Plunder January 20, 2006 Zamboanga del Norte Convention Center, Dipolog City "That Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" - Romans 8:21

"And the earth We have spread out; set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance." -Qur'an, 15:19

"(Land is) a gift from Magbabaya to a people he has put in a place in order to develop and guard Creation. As a divine gift, it could not be owned by anyone for one cannot own that which gives life." - Dibabawon Tribe

We -- representatives from the Lumad and Moro peoples, the Catholic and Protestant churches, people's organizations, local governments, advocates for the environment, and other support groups--- gather in this historic conference in Mindanao to strengthen our unity in faith, convictions, and action against large-scale mining plunder...

READ MORE at Pinoy Kalikasan blog...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Resurgent insurgency

This story was taken from

Resurgent insurgency
First posted 01:12am (Mla time) Jan 21, 2006

EVEN AS the Armed Forces of the Philippines can't seem to shake off the monsters haunting the organization -- corruption, political meddling, restiveness in its ranks (the Magdalo mutiny is only one manifestation), among other things -- the New People's Army seems to be quickly regaining lost ground.

Only last Jan. 15, communist guerrillas raided the provincial jail in Batangas City to spring nine of their comrades in what was, perhaps, the most daring, brazen and well-planned NPA attack in recent years. The rebels, wearing military uniforms, pretended they were on a mission to turn over two prisoners and arrived at the provincial jail on board several vehicles, one of which bore a government plate. On the same day, NPA rebels ambushed a military convoy in Motiong, Samar, killing four soldiers and wounding eight others. Earlier on Jan. 6, rebels took over the police station in Albuera, Leyte, and carted away 30 firearms. In a separate attack launched that day, the guerrillas killed five policemen and three civilians in Claveria, Masbate. Last Jan. 2, armed men believed to be NPA rebels killed the police chief of Matnog, Sorsogon, and two other persons.

The January attacks are apparently a continuation of the NPA offensive that started after the Arroyo administration suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (Jasig) in August 2005, following the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP's) refusal to resume peace negotiations. NPA spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal has boasted in an interview that the communists have initiated more than 200 attacks since then. Most of the attacks took the form of ambuscades of security forces and raids on military detachments or camps, paramilitary outposts and police
stations, a number of them staged almost simultaneously or within hours of each other, albeit in different places.

The NPA attacks are worth noting not only because they are coming with greater frequency and with increasing boldness but also because they seem to indicate the rebel forces' growing strength and the wider popular support they are getting. Rosal has boasted that the latest attacks "were mere curtain raisers," and vowed that "more solid blows will be dealt upon the fascist forces to heighten the fall of the despotic US-Arroyo regime."

Rosal explains the Maoist insurgency's newfound strength by saying their guerrilla fronts have "mastered the strategy of consolidating forces to successfully carry out the desired goal in tactical offensives ... a plus factor to their growing strength and combat capabilities."

Such mastery, if indeed the communist militants have achieved it, may have greatly improved the success rate of NPA attacks. But the government would be better served if it looked elsewhere to find out from where the NPA's renewed energy springs. Rosal says one factor that has helped ensure "successful guerrilla offensives" is the widespread support of the masses. But why would the masses be drawn to an ideology that has been discredited by the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, by China's -- and more recently Vietnam's -- increasingly successful experiment with capitalism, by recurring famines in North Korea, by supply shortages in Cuba, and most painfully, by the "killing fields" that Pol Pot created in communist Cambodia in the 1970s and by the CPP-NPA's own bloody purge of its ranks in the 1980s? Why would the masses side with "enemies of the state," when the government says it has cleared the runaway of obstructions and the economy is ready for takeoff?

Could it be that the Filipino masses have not heard or do not appreciate what their government is doing for them? Or is it because, despite the administration's frequent reaffirmation of its intention to improve their lot, a growing number of Filipinos remain poor and hungry?

Widespread poverty is bad enough. What makes the situation worse is continuing government neglect and inadequate basic social services, coupled with military abuses and violations of the human rights of ordinary citizens. If the resurgence of the communist insurgency is anything to go by, then we may be back to where we were during the final years of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. That was the time when the government earned the well-deserved reputation as the principal recruiter for the NPA.

Big White Brother: What have you been googling?

Google asked to hand over search records

January 20, 2006 - 10:53AM

Google is rebuffing the Bush administration's demand for a peek at what millions of people have been looking up on the internet's leading search engine.

The request underscores the potential for online databases to become tools of the Government.

Google has refused to comply with a White House subpoena first issued last summer, prompting US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week to ask a federal judge in San Jose for an order to force a handover of the requested records.

The Government wants a list of all requests entered into Google's search engine during an unspecified single week - a breakdown that could conceivably span tens of millions of queries.

In addition, it seeks 1 million randomly selected web addresses from various Google databases.

In court papers that the San Jose Mercury News reported on after seeing them yesterday, the Bush administration depicts the information as vital in its effort to restore online child protection laws that have been struck down by the US Supreme Court.

Google competitor Yahoo, which runs the internet's second-most used search engine, confirmed today that it had complied with a similar government subpoena.

Although the government says it isn't seeking any data that ties personal information to search requests, the subpoena still raises serious privacy concerns, experts said, especially considering recent revelations that the White House authorised eavesdropping on domestic civilian communications after the September 11 attacks without obtaining court approval.

"Search engines now play such an important part in our daily lives that many people probably contact Google more often than they do their own mother," said Thomas Burke, a San Francisco lawyer who has handled several prominent cases involving privacy issues.

"Just as most people would be upset if the government wanted to know how much you called your mother and what you talked about, they should be upset about this, too."

The content of search request sometimes contain information about the person making the query.

For instance, it's not unusual for search requests to include names, medical information or Social Security information, said Pam Dixon, executive director for the World Privacy Forum.

"This is exactly the kind of thing we have been worrying about with search engine for some time," Dixon said.

"Google should be commended for fighting this."

Other search engines already have complied with similar subpoenas issued by the Bush administration, according to court documents.

The cooperating search engines weren't identified.

Yahoo stressed that it didn't reveal any personal information. "We are rigorous defenders of our users' privacy," Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said Thursday.

"In our opinion, this is not a privacy issue."

Microsoft MSN, the No. 3 search engine, declined to say whether it even received a similar subpoena.

"MSN works closely with law enforcement officials worldwide to assist them when requested," the company said in a statement.

As the internet's dominant search engine, Google has built up a valuable storehouse of information that "makes it a very attractive target for law enforcement," said Chris Hoofnagle, senior counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

The Department of Justice argues that Google's cooperation is essential in its effort to simulate how people navigate the web.

In a separate case in Pennsylvania, the Bush administration is trying to prove that internet filters don't do an adequate job of preventing children from accessing online pornography and other objectionable destinations.

Obtaining the subpoenaed information from Google "would assist the government in its efforts to understand the behaviour of current web users, [and] to estimate how often web users encounter harmful-to-minors material in the course of their searches," the Justice Department wrote in a brief filed Wednesday

Google - whose motto when it went public in 2004 was "do no evil" - contends that submitting to the subpoena would represent a betrayal to its users, even if all personal information is stripped from the search terms sought by the government.

"Google's acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept," company lawyer Ashok Ramani wrote in a letter included in the government's filing.

Complying with the subpoena also wound threaten to expose some of Google's "crown-jewel trade secrets," Ramani wrote.

Google is particularly concerned that the information could be used to deduce the size of its index and how many computers it uses to crunch the requests.

"This information would be highly valuable to competitors or miscreants seeking to harm Google's business," Ramani wrote.

Dixon is hoping Google's battle with the government reminds people to be careful how they interact with search engines.

"When you are looking at that blank search box, you should remember that what you fill can come back to haunt you unless you take precautions," she said.

Hindi Korean's blog

Mga kapatid,

Meron na po akong blog sa Friendster. Medyo personal ho ang laman. Kung may time kayo pwede nyo puntahan. Mag-comment na rin kayo kung may extra time pa kayo.

Hindi Korean's blog at

Salamat sa atensyong inyong ibinigay.

Bumabati ng isang masagana at makabuluhang bagong taon,

Saturday, January 21, 2006

January 22, 1987: Mendiola Massacre

Remembering the Mendiola Massacre: 'Amid the Assault, We Were Undaunted'
by Dennis Espada Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004 at 9:35 PM

When gunfire raged and blood soaked Mendiola bridge on the afternoon of Jan. 22, 1987, killing at least 13 peasant protesters, Marianito "Itoy" Dimapilis thought he would never get out of that scene alive.

It was nearly dusk. And despite having two bullets lodged on his left foot, Marianito 'Itoy' Dimapilis managed to stand up to look around. He saw scattered sandals being picked up by street sweepers, wounded bodies lying and crying for help. Some of them were dead in cold blood.

He felt grief mixed with anger, realizing that he was a witness to a glaring display of brutality and fascism unleashed by the mercenaries of the state.

His account

Itoy was 24 years old when the massacre occurred. As a young worker in a food and beverage factory in Cabuyao, Laguna, he was just beginning to see the realities around him from the point of view of the militant labor movement.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a militant farmer organization, called for a massive peasant demonstration and asked the labor sector for support. For six months, then President Corazon Aquino had repeatedly ignored the KMP and its call to resolve the land problem. The rally was aimed to push the Aquino government to sit down and talk with the farmers.

One of those who gave support was Itoy's labor union. Itoy says that although he was not yet 'deep' in terms of political consciousness at the time, "walang nananaig sa akin kundi ang maiangat ang kaisipan sa pagtuklas sa mga problema at kalagayan ng bansa (I was motivated to deepen my understanding of the problems and situation in our country)."

Protesters coming from the Southern Tagalog region massed up in Pasay City, from where they marched toward the Liwasang Bonifacio (formerly Plaza Lawton) in Manila in the afternoon. A long program was held at around 4:30 p.m. punctuated by fiery speeches denouncing the newly-installed regime.

"Ang kamulatan ng mga taong naroon ay palaban talaga (the people were so militant)," Itoy vividly remembers. "Pagdating namin sa harap ng Mendiola, nag-barikada na kami, di na makadaan ang sasakyan. Yung kumand ng mga lider talagang mainit na" (When we reached Mendiola, we formed human barricades where vehicles cannot pass. The command of the leaders were so fiery).

"Di tayo titigil hanggang di natin nakakausap ang presidente. Dahil ang araw na ito ang magtutulak para mabuksan ang pag-uusap ng KMP at ng pangulo" (We will not stop until the president talk with us. We will push today the dialogue between the KMP and the president), Itoy quoted their own team leader as saying.

Itoy saw some fire trucks and hundreds of military men, armed with M16 rifles, lined up in front of them. As he and his fellow workers linked their arms and marched unfazed, he heard the gunfire. It lasted for about five to 10 minutes.

"Naghigaan kami, sa halip na padapa. Pinagti-tear gas 'yung mga tao, pinagbubuhat 'yung mga may tama ng bala at inihahagis sa van na parang baboy." (We lied down in a supine, instead of prone position. They sprayed tear gas on people, lifted those hit and threw them like pigs inside a van).

The one in front of him during the march, a farmer from Bulacan, received a bullet in his neck and dropped dead. The one on his left, a worker of Filsyn (Filipinas Synthetic Corporation, a garment factory in Santa Rosa, Laguna), was also killed, as hundred others were injured including Itoy himself.

Saved by a journalist

Fortunately for Itoy, a man who identified himself as a reporter from the newspaper People's Journal approached him and said he will help him. Military men at the time was going after protesters who retaliated by throwing stones. He was lifted and carried to safety, in a nearby pizza parlor. The journalist gave him a bunch of typewriting papers to make him appear as a student who was just there to photocopy.

The journalist then gave him first aid treatment. Afterwards, he was brought to the Philippine General Hospital where he was interviewed. In the midst of his recovery, he failed to ask for the name of the journalist who saved him.

Seeking justice

Because of the sustained injury, Itoy was not able to work for a full year.

According to him, the victims and their families have organized themselves to call for an investigation and to file criminal charges against the perpetrators behind the Mendiola Massacre. The case even reached the office of the Sandiganbayan (anti-graft court).

"Hanggang ngayon, wala silang naigawad na katarungan sa mga biktima" (Until today, there is no justice for the victims), he said, adding that what the Aquino government did through then human rights lawyer Haidee Yorac was merely to give a small financial compensation for the injured individuals and the families of those who died during the rampage. Until now, the suspected mastermind and perpetrators of the massacre, mostly top military and police officials, are living scot-free and unpunished for their crimes.

After serving as a labor union activist for more than a decade, Itoy became a jeepney driver and, later, joined STARTER (Southern Tagalog Association of Transport Organizations).

Through that experience, though tragic, Itoy learned to deepen his political understanding and embrace the principles he used to hear only during discussions. He has accepted that what happened was an inevitable consequence of any struggle for justice.

"Sa kabila ng nangyari sa 'kin, halos walang araw o gabi na di ako sumama sa mga pagkilos" (Despite what happened, there is no single day or night of action that I missed). he added.

Kondenahin ang walang-awang pagpatay kay Nanay Perla!

Here is a fact sheet from Karapatan, a human rights group in the Philippines on the summary execution of a 61-year old peasant leader in Pampanga by "two motorcycle-riding, armed men believed to be elements belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) headed by 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas"

Date: 17 January 2006
Title: Woman Peasant Leader killed inside home in Pampanga, Philippines
Case: Summary Execution

Victim: Ofelia "Nanay Perla" Rodriguez . 61 years old,
widowed with one daughter

* Female
* A resident of Barangay Divisoria, Mexico, Pampanga, Philippines
* A peasant mass leader
* Member of Divisoria Farmers Association, affiliated with Agumandareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL)

Place of Incident: Inside the victim's home in Brgy. Divisoria, Mexico, Pampanga, Philippines

Date of Incident: 16 Janry 2006; around 5:30 - 6:00PM

Suspected Perpetrators: two motorcycle-riding, armed men believed to be elements belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) headed by 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas


At around 5:30-6:00 PM of 6 January 2006, Nanay Perla Rodriguez and her family had just finished eating their supper. Nanay Perla, who was carrying her one-year old granddaughter Eliza, was about to give water to her ailing mother, Amalia de la Peña, 95 years old, when a man suddenly came inside their house. The man grabbed Nanay Perla's arm and shot her as she was about to put down her granddaughter Eliza. The bullet entered the top of her head and exited at her nape.

Nanay Perla only managed to shout "Ay Dyosko!" ("My God!") then slumped on the ground.

Michelle, Nanay Perla's 14-year old granddaughter, was at the back of the house at that time and was with her younger brother when she heard a gunshot coming from inside their house. She only managed to see a tall, stocky man in civilian clothes and wearing a baseball cap walk out caslly from their home. He was joined by another man in civilian clothes who stood outside of the house. They left together on board a motorcycle.

That morning, Michelle remembered her grandmother, Nanay Perla, as saying that she saw a man standing near a tree outside of their house, unuslly observing them. A neighbor had likewise come that day informing Nanay Perla that a man was looking for her. In that neighbor's haste and fear, she forgot to tell the victim that the man was armed.

Prior to the incident, Nanay Perla and her family were constantly being harassed by elements of the 69th IBPA led by 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas.

In fact, on October 25, 2005, during the convenors' meeting in Quezon City of the STOP PALPARAN Alliance - a group calling on the government to discharge from service General Jovito Palparan, Jr., head of the Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division covering the provinces of Central Luzon, including Pampanga, and who figured in many human rights violations complaints - Nanay Perla testified that she was invited to go to a military camp for questioning. In the said interrogation, 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas was forcing her to admit that she was a top-ranking NPA-leader. In another incident, her daughter confronted the said military official for spreading word that he was going to kill Nanay Perla.

After that meeting in Quezon City, the harassment on the victim and her family further intensified. At one time, a neighbor approached Nanay Perla and told her that 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas had approached him and tried to give him a gun to kill her, which the said neighbor refused.

Barangay. Divisoria is one of the barangays (villages) of Mexico, Pampanga in which the military is conducting their Reengineered Special Operations Team (RSOT). The RSOT is a feature of the military's counter-insurgency program wherein military elements are deployed in the villages, stay there and supposedly "integrate" themselves with the populace. The integration is actually intelligence-gathering
targeting leaders or active members of peasant associations, partylist organizations and people's organizations in the barrios.

Chained letter

One more time...

To any of you who are sick and tired of crappy chain letters, this may be the final word on the matter.....

Hello, my name is Basmati Kasaar,

I am suffering from rare and deadly diseases, poor scores on final exams, extreme virginity, fear of being kidnapped and executed by anal electrocution, and guilt for not forwarding out 50 billion f*cking chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe that if you send them on, then that poor 6 year old girl in Arkansas with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her off to the traveling freak show.

Do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give you and everyone you send "his" email to $1000? How stupid are you?

Ooooh, look here! If I scroll down this page and make a wish, I'll get laid by every Playboy model in the magazine! What a bunch of bullshit. So basically, this message is a big F*** YOU to all the people out there who have nothing better to do than to send me stupid chain mail forwards. Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my apartment and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing the chain which was started by Jesus in 5 A.D. and was brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower and if it makes it to the year 2000, it'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous streak of blatant stupidity.

F*** them.

If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing. I've seen all the "send this to 50 of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being" forwards about 90 times.

I don't care.

Show a little intelligence and think about what you're actually contributing to by sending out forwards. Chances are it's your own unpopularity.


Chain Letter Type 1:

Make a wish!!!

No, really, go on and make one!!!

Oh please, they'll never go out with you!!!

Wish something else!!!

Not that, you pervert!!

Is your finger getting tired yet?


Wasn't that fun? :)

Hope you made a great wish :)

Now, to make you feel guilty, here's what I'll do.

First of all, if you don't send this to 5096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be raped by a mad goat and thrown off a high building into a pile of manure. It's true! Because, THIS letter isn't like all of those fake ones, THIS one is TRUE!!

Really!!! Here's how it goes:

*Send this to 1 person: One person will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

*Send this to 2-5 people: 2-5 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

*Send this to 5-10 people: 5-10 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter, and may form a plot on your life.

*Send this to 10-20 people: 10-20 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter and will napalm your house.

Thanks!!!! Good Luck!!!


Chain Letter Type 2

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy's life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund.

Oh, and remember, we have absolutely no way of counting the emails sent and this is all a complete load of bullshit. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder - if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly.


Chain Letter Type 3

Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many sad pricks with nothing better to do. So this is how it works:

Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

*Bizarre Horror Story #1

Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of shit, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

*Bizarre Horror Story #2

Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his boyfriend (hey, some people swing that way). They both died and went to hell and were cursed to eat adorable kittens every day for eternity. This Could Happen To You Too!!!

Remember, you could end up just like Pinsley and Bip. Just send this

letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be okay.


Chain Letter Type 4:

As if you care, here is a poem that I wrote. Send it to every one of your friends.


A friend is someone who is always at your side

A friend is someone who likes you even though you stink of shit, and your breath smells like you've been eating cat food

A friend is someone who likes you even though you're as ugly as a hat full of a**holes

A friend is someone who cleans up for you after you've soiled yourself

A friend is someone who stays with you all night while you cry about your sad, sad life

A friend is someone who pretends they like you when they really think you should be raped by mad goats, then thrown to vicious dogs

A friend is someone who scrubs your toilet, vacuums and then gets the cheque and leaves and doesn't speak much English... no, sorry that's the cleaning lady,

A friend is not someone who sends you chain letters because he wants his wish of being rich to come true.

Now pass this on! If you don't, you'll never have sex ever again.


The point being?

If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it.

If it's funny, send it on.

Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth, who's been tied to a dead elephant for 27 years, whose only savior is the 5 cents per letter he'll receive if you forward this mail, otherwise you'll end up like Pamela.


Now forward this to everyone you know otherwise you'll find all your underwear missing tomorrow morning.

Michelle Bachelet, Chile's news president

Former Political Prisoner and Torture Survivor Michelle Bachelet Elected as Chile's First Female President
Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

In Chile, former political prisoner Michelle Bachelet has become the
country first-ever female president. Running on the Socialist ticket,
Bachelet beat her billionaire rival in Sunday's election. Bachelet is the
daughter of an air force general who was tortured and died in prison
after Augusto Pinochet seized power in 1973. She too was imprisoned by
Pinochet's regime before fleeing into exile. We speak with
Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman, Chilean torture survivor Emilio Banda as well
as Joyce Horman, the widow of a U.S. journalist who was killed by
Pinochet forces. [includes rush transcript]

In Chile, Socialist presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet was
elected to be the country's first female leader in a runoff election Sunday.
Bachelet won 53 percent of the vote beating out opposition candidate,
billionaire Sebastian Pinera. She spoke to supporters in Santiago on
Sunday after the election results were announced.

a.. Michelle Bachelet:
"My government will be a government of unity. I will be the President
for all Chileans."
Bachelet is a 54 year-old medical doctor who was imprisoned and
tortured under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Her father was an air force general who was arrested and tortured for
opposing the 1973 US-backed coup that overthrew democratically-elected
president Salvador Allende. Her father died of a heart attack in prison.
A medical student at the time, Bachelet was also arrested, along with
her mother. They were blindfolded, beaten and denied food for five days
while their cellmates were raped. They were later forced into five
years in exile, first in Australia, then communist East Germany.

Current President Ricardo Lagos, who was constitutionally barred from
seeking re-election, made her his health minister six years ago, then in
2002 named her defense minister. She will be the fourth consecutive
president from the center-left coalition known as the Concertacion that
has run Chile since 1990.

An agnostic single mother of three, she was not an obvious choice for
leadership in Chile, a socially conservative Roman Catholic country.

Bachelet told a news conference on Monday that she would strive to root
out Chile's embedded social divide and pledged to name a cabinet with
an equal number of men and women. On foreign affairs, she said she would
try to improve relations with neighboring countries and said she
supported the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

In her victory speech Sunday, she promised tolerance saying "Because I
was the victim of hatred, I have dedicated my life to reverse that
hatred and turn it into understanding, tolerance and -- why not say it --
into love."

a.. Ariel Dorfman, Chilean-American professor of Literature and Latin
American Studies at Duke University. He is the author of numerous
books, including "Other Septembers, Many Americas" and "Exorcising Terror,
The Incredible Unending Trial of General Augusto Pinochet." He was on
the staff of Chilean President Salvador Allende on the day of the 1973

b.. Emilio Banda, a former student union leader from Chile. In 1986,
he was arrested by Pinochet forces and imprisoned for six months where
he was tortured. He left Chile in 1993.

c.. Joyce Horman, her late husband, Charles Horman, was a US
journalist in Chile during the 1973 coup. He was detained in Santiago days
after Pinochet came to power. His body was found later, buried in a cement
wall. He was 31 years-old. For years, Joyce Horman fought to uncover
the full story of her husband's death. She sued Gen. Pinochet and other
Chilean officials. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was listed
as a witness. Her story was the subject of the 1982 Academy-Award
winning movie "Missing." In 1999, she obtained classified State Department
documents that proved US officials played a role in her husband's death.

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us
provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV
broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.

Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: In Chile, Socialist presidential candidate, Michelle
Bachelet, was elected to be the country's first female leader in a runoff
election Sunday. She won 53 percent of the vote, beating out opposition
candidate, billionaire Sebastian Pinera. She spoke to supporters in
Santiago on Sunday after the election results were announced.
MICHELLE BACHELET: My government will be a government of unity. I
will be the President of all Chileans.
AMY GOODMAN: Michelle Bachelet is a 54-year-old doctor who was
imprisoned and tortured under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Her father
was an air force general who was arrested and tortured for opposing the
1973 U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the democratically elected
President Salvador Allende. Her father died of a heart attack in prison. A
medical student at the time, Bachelet was also arrested, along with her
mother. They were blind-folded, beaten, denied food for five days, while
their cell mates were raped. They were later forced into five years in
exile, first in Australia, then into East Germany.

Current President Ricardo Lagos, who was constitutionally barred from
seeking reelection, made her his health minister six years ago, then in
2002 named her defense minister. She will be the fourth consecutive
president from the center-left coalition known as the Concertacion, that
has run Chile since 1990.

An agnostic single mother of three, she was not an obvious choice for
leadership in Chile, a socially conservative Roman Catholic country.

Bachelet told a news conference Monday she will strive to root out
Chile's embedded social divide and pledged to name a cabinet with an equal
number of men and women. On foreign affairs, she says she will try to
improve relations with neighboring countries and says she will support
the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

In her victory speech Sunday, she promised tolerance, saying, quote,
“Because I was the victim of hatred, I’ve dedicated my life to reverse
that hatred and turn it into understanding, tolerance and -- why not say
it -- into love.”

We spoke with Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean-American professor of literature
and Latin American Studies at Duke University, just before the program.
He is the author of numerous books, including Other Septembers, Many
Americas and Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of General
Augusto Pinochet. He was on the staff of Chilean President Salvador
Allende on the day of the 1973 coup. Dorfman gave us his initial reaction
to the election.
ARIEL DORFMAN: Chile has had many victories for democracy in the last
16, 17, 18 years, and we managed to get rid of Pinochet and elect three
democratic presidents. This is the fourth one.

When I heard that Michelle Bachelet was the new president of Chile, I
felt somehow the same enthusiasm, the same thrill that I felt when we
defeated Pinochet in the plebiscite and the sort of hopes that opened
up, the expectation that opened up when we elected the first democratic
president, Patricio Aylwin, in 1990. So it’s been an extraordinary

It’s not only that she is the first woman president of Chile and the
first woman who was not, you know, getting into power because she was
married to somebody, but on her own merit, but because I think she
really embodies a whole new tendency not only in Chile, but in all of Latin
America, which is one for more solidarity, great responsibility, of
course, fiscal responsibility at the same time. But the context,
international context in which she is becoming president and the fact that she
has all these factors that should be against her, you know, that she has
divorced twice – or not divorced, she’s separated twice, has got three
children that she brought up by herself. She is a pediatrician. You
know, once again we have a doctor who is in charge of Chile's destiny, as
in the case of Salvador Allende, and again, you have somebody who has
worked among the poor, who has seen what they can do, what their needs
are, and who, in some sense, changes the whole cultural aspect. And
these cultural aspects are very, very important.

I don't think, you know, that she’s going to be a rabid left winger
or that she’s going to suggest that Chile is on the road to socialism,
as it was many, many years ago with Salvador Allende. But I think that
it signals a really bellwether change in Chile and in the rest of Latin
America. It’s part of a whole tendency towards a continent that wants
to take its destiny in its own hands. And I'm just thrilled for this.

I'm not a very close friend of hers, though I know her quite well.
I'm a good friend of her mother's. But she's a decent, hardworking, very
charismatic, very down to earth person. If you had to ask me one
question about what she is, she is down to earth. She is part of the earth,
in that sense, you know, and Chile continues to startle us and give us
new things. Every six or seven years we do something which seems very
surprising to the world. And I'm very glad that we're still able to
surprise, because that’s part of the great astonishment of, I would say of,
the way in which people move forward and try to take over their own
AMY GOODMAN: Ariel Dorfman, Chilean-American writer, speaking from Duke
University where he teaches. He was an adviser to Salvador Allende, the
democratically elected president of Chile, who died in the palace in
Santiago on September 11, 1973, when the Pinochet forces rose to power.
This is Democracy Now!

We're joined in our Firehouse studio by two guests. Emilio Banda is a
former student union leader from Chile. In 1986, he was arrested by
Pinochet forces and imprisoned for six months, where he was tortured. He
left Chile in 1993. We're also joined by Joyce Horman. Her late son,
Charles Horman, was -- her late husband was a U.S. journalist in Chile
during the 1973 coup. He was detained in Santiago days after Pinochet came
to power, and his body was found later, buried in a cement wall. He was
31 years old. For years, Joyce Horman has fought to uncover the full
story of her husband’s death. She sued General Pinochet and other Chilean
officials. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was listed as a
witness. Her story was the subject of the Academy Award-winning movie,
Missing by Costa-Gavras. In 1999, she obtained classified State
Department documents that proved U.S. officials played a role in her husband’s
death. We will begin with Emilio Banda; your response to the election of
Michelle Bachelet?

EMILIO BANDA: Well, we are happy, you know, celebrating. It’s an
historical situation in Chile. We believe many thing will continue, like
President Lagos regime or period, and we know that many thing, especially
the reconciliation process and, you know, some human right cases will be
definitely, you know, get at the final, and we will enjoy that, you
know, renaissance of justice and Michelle's role in the government.

AMY GOODMAN: You were arrested in 1986?

EMILIO BANDA: Myself, as many other union student leader, because the
university or college students were really involved in the
democratization of the university itself and in the recuperation of the democracy
for our country. Actually, the student -- the union leader of Chile in
1986, 1987, most of all of them were put in jail for six months, four
months, or some of them for larger periods. And I was one of them.

AMY GOODMAN: And how long were you held?

EMILIO BANDA: I was like six months, but the process in the military
tribunals, because the military take the student to the court, keep me,
you know, in process for years and years. In 1996, I was stopped in the
airport trying to leave Chile, because I still having this process from
1986, you know, ten year after they put me in jail, because I didn't
finish that process.

AMY GOODMAN: You were tortured in prison?

EMILIO BANDA: Not in prison, actually, because the prison was the place
where everybody get to rest a little bit after the torture. They took
you before the guards of the prison system, take you on to prison, and
they torture after you get detained or in the car or in a secret place.

AMY GOODMAN: But you chose not to leave Chile after you were released.

EMILIO BANDA: Right. Actually, it was a compromise of everybody in
1986, because we thought that will be the year of ending of Pinochet. You
have to remember Pinochet suffered an attempt of murder in 1987, and
since 1985 the people of Chile was absolutely tired of him and using every
single way to get rid of him. And the students at that time were really
well organized, mobilizing people to the street, you know, going to
take in the campus like a base and don't leave the campus for days, and
trying to get a national, you know, strike, fighting the dictatorship.
And after we took the campus for like six or seven days, I remember, in
May 1986, and every single leader of the union was in prison, and I was
in the clandestine, and some people from the Asamblea of la Civilidad,
you know, the civil organization that direct the fight against
Pinochet, today the Concertacion, asked me to go and present myself on the
tribunal. I present myself on the tribunal, and they say we have nothing
against you, and then the military take me in the door of the tribunal.

AMY GOODMAN: Emilio Banda, we have to break. When we come back, we will
also speak with Joyce Horman about the election of Michelle Bachelet,
the first woman president of Chile, also a torture survivor.


AMY GOODMAN: Michelle Bachelet is the new president of Chile. Our guest
Emilio Banda, student union leader in Chile, 1986, arrested by the
Pinochet forces, imprisoned for six months. Also, Joyce Horman, her husband
Charles Horman was a U.S. journalist in Chile, also died right at that
time of the Pinochet forces, his body later found buried in a cement
wall. And for years, Joyce Horman pursued what happened to her husband,
sued General Pinochet, as well as other Chilean officials, and former
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Your thoughts today on the victory of

JOYCE HORMAN: Well, of course, we were all watching very closely on
Sunday. And I have to say, it felt so good to have Michelle Bachelet
elected. It felt almost as good as hearing that Pinochet had been arrested
in London in 1998. It was really an extraordinary release of so much
good work, you know. She is such an emblem really of resilience and of
taking action, where -- when you’ve suffered that kind of loss that she
and her family have suffered. It isn't the first thing that you think
about. The pain is the first thing you think about. But the fact that so
many people in Chile have been so resilient and to this terrible regime
that was Pinochet and to the torture and the terror that existed
because of his regime. This resilience is really represented by President
Bachelet, and I believe that it’s an extraordinary threshold not only in
Chile, but in the world, that such resilience has been elected to the
presidency. It’s wonderful.

AMY GOODMAN: Your lawsuit focused on the connection between the U.S.
and its support of the Pinochet forces that were responsible for the
torture of the now president of Chile, Bachelet, as well as the death of
your husband. Where does that lawsuit stand now?

JOYCE HORMAN: You know, at first we had a suit in the United States,
and it was a civil suit against Kissinger and other members of the U.S.
State Department for information regarding my husband's death. And a lot
of the documents were classified. They were redacted. We didn't find
out very much information after several years of discovery. When Pinochet
was returned to Chile and his immunity, senatorial immunity, was taken
away, we filed a suit, along with many other Chileans and many other
victims of Pinochet's regime, against Pinochet and members of his staff
and so forth. This one is a criminal case, and it’s against him for the
death of my husband, the wrongful death of my husband. It is still in
court in Chile, as are many other suits regarding the demise of so many
people. Hopefully this will be progressing over the next few years,
especially with President Bachelet.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Emilio Banda, your feelings about the President of
Chile being a torture survivor like yourself?

EMILIO BANDA: Well, that means things are, you know, getting right in
my country. Actually, her experience is pretty – it’s great to see and
hear a person who really takes the leadership of being a political
prisoner herself and suffering the exile, coming back and take the
leadership. She was defense minister first.

AMY GOODMAN: Under Lagos.

EMILIO BANDA: Under Lagos, and her dialogue with the army in Chile was
the first thing that put an accent on her charisma, actually, because
the military traditional, you know, that machismo probably of the
Chilean society expresses strongly in the military, and putting a woman to
talk to them and to, you know, put things clear on the table about human
rights and that kind of stuff definitely makes her a different person

AMY GOODMAN: And she was the first woman defense minister, as well.

EMILIO BANDA: Absolutely. Yeah, great.

AMY GOODMAN: Daughter of her father, of course, who was a Chilean
general who supported Salvador Allende.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for being with
us. Emilio Banda, for joining us, arrested in Chile in 1986, a union
leader, stayed there after. And Joyce Horman, the widow of Charles Horman,
who was killed when Pinochet rose to power, as we speak on this day
after it was announced that Michelle Bachelet had won the Chilean election
for president, the first woman elected president of Chile.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Denouncement from Greece


We denounce the disgraceful anticommunist memorandum adopted by the
Political Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council.

The draft decision titled “The need to condemn the crimes of the
totalitarian communist regimes” constitutes a huge provocation for the
democratic achievements of European peoples, for the working class and the
left movement all over the world.

The provocative perversion of modern history and the brassy
exploitation and identification of the liberating communist movement, have
multiple, mainly political and social objectives for the present and the

The attempt to equate communism with Nazism, constitutes a provocation
for historical memory. The European Council decided to change history.
It decided to pervert it by equalizing the victims with the
victimizers. The criminals with heroes; the Nazis with the communists.

It offends the generations of activists who were persecuted,
imprisoned, even gave their lives for freedom, for democracy, for the human
rights, for the working class and the social gains like that of the 8 hour

It is about a memorandum that substantially attempts to criminalize the
people’s militant action. It is directly connected with the policy of
the so called “war against terrorism” led by USA and the rest of
imperialist powers as participants. It supports and incites further the
persecution of communists in the Eastern European countries. It throws dirt
at the communist movement and the struggle of the working class and the
peoples for a society of equality without exploitation.

The anticommunist memorandum demands statements of regret from everyone
who insists on resisting and struggling for the regeneration of the
communist movement, across the world.

No matter how many decisions they may make, no matter how many measures
they may apply they will not stop the tidal flow of history. The
toilers will meet again with the liberating ideas of communism, of justice
and genuine freedom.

The revaluation of peoples’ struggle and the history of the communist
movement is necessary, but this is an issue for the fighting, the
revolutionary and left movements to be concerned with and not the fascists,
their political descendants and the imperialist powers. History is
written by the masses in struggle for freedom and social liberation in the
Middle East, Asia, Latin America and across the world and not in the
Pentagon and the European Union.

This anticommunist memorandum should be condemned by every democrat,
every toiler, and every left and progressive person in every corner of
the planet.

Communist Party of Greece (marxist-leninist)
January 2006

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed


How poor choices – environmental, cultural, technological – led to some civilizations' decline and fall

By Joseph Stiglitz

BOOK REVIEW Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed By Jared Diamond Viking, 575 pp., illustrated, $29.95

With "Collapse," Jared Diamond has written a fascinating account of the collapse of civilizations around the world, including the Mayans, Easter Islanders, and Greenlanders. All of these failed because of environmental degradation. Sometimes the demise was augmented by outside forces, and sometimes the civilization faced a challenge of a fragile and changing environment. But in each case it was the misconduct of those within the country that was at the root of the problem. These societies caused their own demise.

How, one might ask, could societies be so self-destructive? The large number of examples so richly described in "Collapse" enables Diamond to provide an incisive taxonomy of the explanation based on both rational and irrational behavior. As one reads these accounts, one thinks of modern parallels, and lest we miss the point, the author provides a detailed description of environmental problems around the world today, from Montana to China to Australia. He describes, for instance, how the glaciers that gave their name to Montana's Glacier National Park are fast disappearing. A reader cannot help but leave the book wondering whether we are following the track of these other civilizations that failed, ignoring the signals that there is an impending problem, somehow hoping that in the end technology will save the day.

In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, there are calls for an early-warning system. No one claims we can prevent tsunamis, that we can alter these forces of nature. Rather, we have to learn to cope with them. But in one area, we have already been given an early warning in global warming. Most countries have recognized this. That's why they came together in Rio de Janeiro and Kyoto to do something about it not enough, but the Kyoto protocol was intended only as a start. Sadly, some of the same countries ravaged by the tsunami will likely be destroyed by global warming, such as the low- lying Maldives.

One might have thought we were in a far better position than these earlier societies, for we have the advantage of modern science. And Diamond's account shows the power of the scientific approach. As he describes each collapse, he weighs alternative explanations and brings to bear a variety of evidence from a wide range of disciplines, looking at each piece carefully, giving due attention to the arguments put forward by the proponents of each hypothesis, showing how the evidence supports or contradicts each. At least for this lay reader, the argument is extremely persuasive.

But science is not enough. Many of the civilizations facing collapse had early warning signs, which they chose to ignore. Years after there was broad scientific consensus on global warming, President Bush (no scientist himself) tried to cast doubt on it; when the National Academy of Sciences came to the only conclusion it could, reaffirming the conclusions of the international scientific community, he could no longer give that reason; he simply chose to do nothing. Detroit and the oil companies, of course, benefit from the current system, even if the world loses. This kind of situation, where particular interests prevail over the general interests, is one of the principal explanations identified by Diamond for collapses.

In Montana, even after the mining companies were made legally responsible for cleaning up their environmental wastes, they managed to pass the costs estimated at some half a billion dollars on to Montana and US taxpayers. Having paid out millions to shareholders and their executives, having exhausted the minerals from the mines, they simply went bankrupt. The cost to the public may well exceed the total benefit received.

While Diamond identifies the many examples of countries that have abused their environment and suffered the consequences, he also discusses a number of important examples of countries that have not done so, and even of mining companies that have been good corporate citizens. A natural question arises, into which Diamond provides some interesting insights: what determines whether a particular country (or firm) respects the environment? Market-oriented economists often refer to the tragedy of the commons, the failure to assign property rights. With well-defined property rights, it is argued, there will be no incentive to deplete resources too rapidly or to spoil the environment. But Diamond points out that private firms (as in Montana) have often despoiled the environment, and many civilizations have learned to manage their environment in other ways. Communities can regulate environmental usage, punishing those whose actions threaten the well-being of the entire community. He even identifies some of the circumstances that are more likely to lead firms to abuse the environment foreign firms far removed from the people of the country whose resources they are exploiting, feeling little or no social responsibility for their actions. Here too there is an important lesson on the limits of globalization. (One slight quibble with Diamond is that he could have gone further in explaining the inherent nature of the problem, and how difficult it is to resolve. Under capitalism American style, firms' responsibilities are to their shareholders, not to other stakeholders. That means they are obligated to get away with as much as they can.)

Though abuse of the environment is the common theme running through "Collapse," the book is replete with other fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes. Greenland's demise was affected, for instance, by the diminution in the demand for the one product in which it had a strong comparative advantage: walrus tusks. The Crusades opened a supply of a competitive product, elephant tusks, and in the ever-changing fads and fashions of the time, the overall demand for ivory for carving diminished. Climate change, the little Ice Age, played a role too, as the sea lanes connecting Greenland and Norway became more clogged with ice. And so did politics, when Norway, with which Greenland had the closest connections, became neglected after the unification of the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish kingdoms.

Diamond provides a number of haunting statistics. The enormous growth of China and many other countries has been well beyond the dreams of even the optimists a half-century ago. It has brought increased life expectancy and rising living standards, and not just to a few. But if the developing countries succeed in closing the gap between themselves and the more advanced industrial countries, the demands on the environment will increase some twelve-fold and meanwhile, of course, the United States and the other advanced industrial countries will continue their course of increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and increased usage of depletable natural resources. All of this is simply not sustainable. Optimists, of course, say we have heard all of this before Malthus and other doomsayers have been proven wrong so far.

According to Diamond, religion played a role in the collapse of many of the societies he writes about, and one can imagine the priests and people of Easter Island, Greenland, and the Mayan empire calling on the gods to save them. Today it is belief in new technology that persuades many that our societies are immune to collapse. But in the race between technology and the abuses of the environment, technology is losing. The concentration of greenhouse gases has already increased enormously, and there is every reason to believe it will continue to do so. Modern science has shown definitively that our world is at risk just as many ancient societies were. Any reader of "Collapse" will leave the book convinced that we must take steps now to save our planet.

indicators pointing to the fall of Gloria

Gloria plans Meralco takeover for survival
By Ninez Cacho-Olivares Editor in-Chief

Fearing her probable ouster before June 2006, President Arroyo and her newly-constituted “bratpack” committees are now in the process of taking over Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) within the First Quarter of this year, with Malacañang’s “communications plan” placed into full gear to project Mrs. Arroyo as the “liberator” of the Filipino people from the “oppressive” elite, the Lopezes, the Tribune learned from a reliable Malacañang source.

A two-page document obtained by the Tribune yesterday from a reliable Palace insider, confirmed this as the papers showed that Mrs. Arroyo and her clique had already gotten the nod for the “expropriated” establishment from “friendly businessmen” who will support the Meralco takeover by the President, which will be played up as a “temporary situation” that will moreover benefit the Filipino people since the power rates will be lowered drastically, as planned, providing “immediate” relief to the consumers.

This move is to be justified by the Palace-friendly businessmen as a temporary takeover, with a time frame of 12 to 18 months, after Mrs. Arroyo’s “crossover plan to sail until June 2006 at all cost” will have been effected.

Earlier reports leaked by some of her security officials pointed to the first quarter up till the second quarter of 2006 as the “dangerous time” for Mrs. Arroyo and her presidency, with “politics coming to a head.”

The move to take over Meralco is reportedly to intended by the President and her trusted clique to ensure her political survival as the impact of such a takeover would not only be projected a move supported by the Filipino people, but would reverse her falling ratings as the plan calls for an immediate reduction of electricity rates while portraying the Lopezes as the ogre that has eaten away at the pockets of all Filipinos, and the reason for the continuing poverty in the country.

Meralco’s swift takeover, the leaked documents said, will serve notice to other “vital” private industries such as water, telecoms and media, as well as the pre-need industry, among other establishments, that the same will happen to their businesses if they do not toe the presidential line.

The plan calls for Malacañang — and not the government — to take full control of Meralco within the first three months of this year, which scheduled time frame, the document said will be sufficient time for Mrs. Arroyo codenamed “Pasig” in the document, to overcome possible legal and political bottlenecks.

It was, however, unclear how the President (Pasig) will takeover Meralco and other “vital” institutions but not in the name of government.

The Constitution, however provides, under Article XX11, Section 17 that “in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the state may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operations of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

It is the constitutional proviso that was used by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, in justifying “emergency rule” through an executive order, which was exposed by the press.

It appears that the plan is still to push this through.

All moves by the Lopezes to forge compromises will be rejected by government but not, the document stated — by Pasig (Mrs. Arroyo) who will then engage the “Principals” (Lopez Group) at the opportune time to give them the ground rules for “modifying or abandoning the (Meralco) template, which cannot be compromised “until after Pasig will have maximized the gains from the takeover.”

The same document also stated that in the event the Meralco group led by the Lopezes reject reconciliatory moves, in the same manner former President Corazon Aquino in the case of Hacienda Luisita, did, the “roadmap” charted by Pasig will ensure that the Lopez group will really be made to “hurt” using three fronts: economic, legal and political, along with media-generated public pressures.

But should the all these fronts fail, the President, the document stated, must be prepared to make good the takeover by transferring the Meralco ownership to the public and government.

It was also stated that “This (move) shall be another stage for building up the constituency of Pasig under her program, using the Democratization of Basic Services Model.

Alongside this takeover will be the Palace’s “communications plan” that will be “aggressively implemented.”

The Palace spin that will be made for this takeover by Pasig will focus on the Meralco takeover being portrayed as the Filipino people as the new owners of Meralco while portraying (Mrs. Arroyo, not the government) as the “liberator” of the Filipino people from their power oppressor, the Lopez-controlled Meralco.

The two-page document also underlined the need for the Palace to monitor closely the Lopez-owned media networks, ABS-CBN, ANC, Studio 23 and their other radio and TV networks, for the Lopezes’s possible counter moves against the President and her administration using their media.

The Pasig move to check ABS-CBN is the counter move of the Palace to “mobilize” the Lopez media network’s competitors, such as GMA 7, along with the government controlled networks, RPN 9 and IBC 13, with the overall objective, it was stated, to win the Filipinos’ hearts and minds for the President’s takeover of Meralco issue.

For Malacañang, following the plan, immediately after the Meralco takeover, there will be an announcement made by Mrs. Arroyo that she has directed the immediate lowering of power rates, to generate the impact of, among others, the public’s approval of the President and the public’s immediate “feel” of the gains of her “economic reforms.”

The same takeover plan by Malacañang is also intended by the Palace to send the Meralco owners and “agenda groups” as well as individuals that Mrs. Arroyo is firmly in control and is more than capable of making their present positioning “prejudicial to other other interests.”

It was earlier reported that Mrs. Arroyo had formed three groups of Brat Packs from among her trusted Cabinet members to ensure her survival in three areas: politics, security and economy.

“Brat Pack 1” has been tasked to focus on ways and means to usher in political stability and her survival has, as its leaders, presidential brother Diosdado “Buboy” Macapagal and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, along with now chief of staff of Mrs. Arroyo, Michael “Mike” Defensor and Justice Secretary Gonzalez.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Asin Handog kay Nanay

30 December 2005

Fellow Guilders and Friends,

Warmest greetings!

I am Ronalyn Olea, former CEGP national president (2002-2004) and former editor in chief of the Lyceum Independent Sentinel.

I am now working as a full time public information officer of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN). I am writing to ask your support for my ailing mother. She is battling against breast cancer stage IV. Due to bone metastasis, she is enduring extreme pain. Her doctor recommended chemotherapy as palliative treatment.

We could not afford the costly treatment. My father is the only breadwinner in the family. To raise funds, I, together with some CEGP alumni, have been organizing a benefit concert "Handog kay Nanay.". It will be held on January 18, Wednesday, 8pm-12mn. at 70's Bistro, Anonas, Quezon City. The said concert will feature Asin, one of my mother's favorite bands.

Ticket prices are as follows. Each ticket is entitled to one complimentary drink from Bistro 70s:

Sponsor P1,000
Donor P 500
Gen admission P 200

For those who are interested, please feel free to contact me at 0928-2467259. Your help will surely make my mother's pain more bearable and her life more meaningful.

Thank you very much.

Yours truly,
Ronalyn Olea

Sunday, January 15, 2006

E ano kung lumalakas ang peso?

Survey: Hunger hits record high in the Philippines

First posted 08:37pm (Mla time) Jan 06, 2006
Associated Press

THE number of Filipinos who said they went hungry rose
to a record high with nearly 17 percent of people
surveyed saying they had nothing to eat at least once
over a three-month period, a survey group said Friday.

Of the Filipino households queried, 16.7 percent
reported experiencing hunger in the last quarter of
2005, the independent Social Weather Stations survey
group said -- a record high since it began hunger
surveys in mid-1998.

The survey also found those describing themselves as
living in poverty rose to 57 percent from 49 percent
in the previous quarter.

The SWS said the proportional figure, or an estimated
2.8 million families, surpassed the previous peak of
16.1 percent in March 2001. The proportion of people
going hungry has been in the double-digits ever since
the second quarter of 2004.

"These directly measured high levels of economic
deprivation demonstrate yet again that orthodox
economic statistics such as Gross National Product
give a very misleading
picture of the state of economic well-being," the
group said.

The survey was released just days after President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared war "against poverty,
hunger and unemployment," and ordered the release of
35 billion pesos to "pump prime" the economy.

The SWS said the highest proportion of hunger reported
-- 21.7 percent in December from 12 percent in August
2005 -- was in the southern Mindanao region, which has
been wracked by more than three decades of Muslim
rebellion, extremist terror and communist insurgency.

Hunger also rose in metropolitan Manila to 21 percent
from 16.7 percent and in the central Visayas region
from 13.3 percent to 14.3 percent during the same

The survey was based on interviews between November 27
to December 4 of 1,200 household heads randomly
selected nationwide, including 300 from metropolitan
Manila. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3
percentage points.

Hunger was defined as having nothing to eat at least
once in the past three months, excluding fasting for
religious or other purposes.

The number of household heads who considered
themselves poor jumped back to 57 percent after
falling to 49 percent in August 2005 from 57 percent
in May 2005.

Those who considered themselves poor said they needed
about 10,000 pesos to escape poverty in metropolitan
Manila and 5,000 pesos outside the capital region.

(1 dollar = 52.52 pesos)

Belafonte calls Bush 'Greatest Terrorist'

Belafonte Calls Bush 'Greatest Terrorist'
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jan 8, 10:54 PM ET

The American singer and activist Harry Belafonte called President Bush
"the greatest terrorist in the world" on Sunday and said millions of
Americans support the socialist revolution of Venezuelan leader Hugo

Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including the actor Danny
Glover and the Princeton University scholar Cornel West that met the
Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in
the group attended Chavez's television and radio broadcast Sunday.

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest
terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you:
Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ...
support your revolution," Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.

The 78-year-old Belafonte, famous for his calypso-inspired music,
including the "Day-O" song, was a close collaborator of the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr. and is now a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. He
also has been outspoken in criticizing the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

Chavez said he believes deeply in the struggle for justice by blacks,
both in the U.S. and Venezuela.

"Although we may not believe it, there continues to be great
discrimination here against black people," Chavez said, urging his
government to redouble its efforts to prevent discrimination.

Belafonte accused U.S. news media of falsely painting Chavez as a
"dictator," when in fact, he said, there is democracy and citizens are
"optimistic about their future."

Dolores Huerta, a pioneer of the United Farm Workers labor union also
in the delegation, called the visit a "very deep experience."

Chavez accuses Bush of trying to overthrow him, pointing to
intelligence documents released by the U.S. indicating that the CIA
knew beforehand that dissident officers planned a short-lived 2002
coup. The U.S. denies involvement, but Chavez says Venezuela must be
on guard.

Belafonte suggested setting up a youth exchange for Venezuelans and
Americans. He finished by shouting in Spanish: "Viva la revolucion!"

The NSA Spy Engine: Echelon

The NSA Spy Engine: Echelon
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report
Monday 09 January 2006

A clandestine National Security Agency spy program
code-named Echelon was likely responsible for tapping
into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of
thousands of average American citizens over the past
four years in its effort to identify people suspected
of communicating with al-Qaeda terrorists, according
to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence
officials from the NSA and FBI.

The existence of the program has been known for
some time. Echelon was developed in the 1970s
primarily as an American-British intelligence sharing
system to monitor foreigners - specifically, during
the Cold War, to catch Soviet spies. But sources said
the spyware, operated by satellite, is the means by
which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans when President
Bush secretly authorized the agency to do so in 2002.

Another top-secret program code-named Tempest,
also operated by satellite, is capable of reading
computer monitors, cash registers and automatic teller
machines from as far away as a half-mile and is being
used to keep a close eye on an untold number of
American citizens, the sources said, pointing to a
little known declassified document that sheds light on
the program.

Echelon has been shrouded in secrecy for years. A
special report prepared by the European Parliament in
the late 1990s disclosed explosive details about the
covert program when it alleged that Echelon was being
used to spy on two foreign defense contractors - the
European companies Airbus Industrie and Thomson-CSF -
as well as sifting through private emails, industrial
files and cell phones of foreigners.

The program is part of a multinational spy effort
that includes intelligence agencies in Canada,
Britain, New Zealand and Australia, also known as the
Echelon Alliance, which is responsible for monitoring
different parts of the world.

The NSA has never publicly admitted that Echelon
exists, but the program has been identified in
declassified government documents. Republican and
Democratic lawmakers have long criticized the program
and have, in the past, engaged in fierce debate with
the intelligence community over Echelon because of the
ease with which it can spy on Americans without any
oversight from the federal government.

Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the
CSE, the Canadian equivalent of the National Security
Agency, told the news program 60 Minutes in February
2000 how Echelon routinely eavesdrops on many average
people at any given moment and how, depending on what
you say either in an email or over the telephone, you
could end up on an NSA watch list.

"While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had
been to a school play the night before, and her son
was in the school play and she thought he did a -- a
lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the
telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend
something like this, 'Oh, Danny really bombed last
night,' just like that," Frost said. "The computer
spit that conversation out. The analyst that was
looking at it was not too sure about what the
conversation was referring to, so erring on the side
of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number
in the database as a possible terrorist."

Ironically, during the first Bush administration,
a woman named Margaret Newsham, who worked for
Lockheed Martin and was stationed at the NSA's Menwith
Hill listening post in Yorkshire, England, told
Congressional investigators that she had firsthand
knowledge that the NSA was illegally spying on
American citizens.

While a Congressional committee did look into
Newsham's allegations, it never published a report.
However, a British investigative reporter named Duncan
Campbell got hold of some committee documents and
discovered that Newsham was telling the truth. One of
the documents described a program called "Echelon"
that would monitor and analyze "civilian
communications into the 21st century."

As of 2000, sources said, the NSA had Echelon
listening posts located in: Menwith Hill, Britain;
Morwenstow, Britain; Bad Aibling, Germany; Geraldton
Station, Australia; Shoal Bay, Australia; Waihopai,
New Zealand; Leitrim, Canada; Misawa, Japan; Yakima
Firing Center, Seattle; Sugar Grove, Virginia.

A January 1, 2001, story in the magazine Popular
Mechanics disclosed details of how Echelon works.

"The electronic signals that Echelon satellites
and listening posts capture are separated into two
streams, depending upon whether the communications are
sent with or without encryption," the magazine
reported. "Scrambled signals are converted into their
original language, and then, along with selected
"clear" messages, are checked by a piece of software
called Dictionary. There are actually several
localized "dictionaries." The UK version, for example,
is packed with names and slang used by the Irish
Republican Army. Messages with trigger words are
dispatched to their respective agencies."

Electronic signals are captured and analyzed
through a series of supercomputers known as
dictionaries, which are programmed to search through
each communication for targeted addresses, words,
phrases, and sometimes individual voices. The
communication is then sent to the National Security
Agency for review. Some of the more common sample key
words that the NSA flags are: terrorism, plutonium,
bomb, militia, gun, explosives, Iran, Iraq, sources

Because Echelon can easily spy on Americans
without any oversight or detection, and because
Echelon covers such a wide spectrum of communication,
many current and former NSA officials said that it's
likely the agency used its satellites to target
Americans, Mark Levin, a former chief of staff to
Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration, wrote
last month in a blog post on the National Review

"Under the ECHELON program, the NSA and certain
foreign intelligence agencies throw an extremely wide
net over virtually all electronic communications
world-wide. There are no warrants. No probable cause
requirements. No FISA court. And information is
intercepted that is communicated solely between US
citizens within the US, which may not be the purpose
of the program but, nonetheless, is a consequence of
the program."

Jason Leopold spent two years covering
California's electricity crisis as Los Angeles bureau
chief of Dow Jones Newswires. Jason has spent the last
year cultivating sources close to the CIA leak
investigation, and is a regular contributer to t r u t
h o u t.