Friday, February 26, 2010

Orwell's Unpublished Intro to Animal Farm

This makes for some interesting reading. In his unpublished introduction he talks about how even in free England censorship is just as much prevalent as it would be in a totalitarian regime like Stalin's Soviet Union. Here are a few excerpts.

Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian 'co-ordination' that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news - things which on their own merits would get the big headlines - being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that 'it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

What is disquieting is that where the USSR and its policies are concerned one cannot expect intelligent criticism or even, in many cases, plain honesty from Liberal writers and journalists who are under no direct pressure to falsify their opinions. Stalin is sacrosanct and certain aspects of his policy must not be seriously discussed.

The endless executions in the purges of 1936-8 were applauded by life-long opponents of capital punishment, and it was considered equally proper to publicize famines when they happened in India and to conceal them when they happened in the Ukraine. And if this was true before the war, the intellectual atmosphere is certainly no better now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Consent of the Governed

Here's an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

And then here are the results of a secret poll conducted by the British Ministry of Defense in 2005 regarding the attitudes of Iraqi's. A mere 82% were strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops. They want troops out. Of course the puppet regime installed there thinks they should keep the coalition forces. Probably because they know they'd be the first ones hanging from the lamposts if U.S. forces did withdraw. But we need to ask ourselves something. Do we believe that a government derives it's just powers from the consent of the governed, and if so what is our responsibility towards the Iraqi people?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Real Grass Roots Movement

I would say for me the most important realization I had in 2009 was that our media is far more propagandizing, far more advocating against popular sentiment and in favor of privileged opinion than I realized. The first shocker was the realization that Gulf War I was sold to the American people on a pack of lies exposed after the fact and our media didn't care but foreign press did. Since then I learned of several other stories that are easily accessible and in a lot of cases common knowledge outside the U.S., but simply are not discussed and for the most part unknown to Americans. For instance, who knows what happened on September 11th, 1973? Who's heard of Iran Air Flight 655? Who knows that the U.S. and Israel stand virtually alone against the entire world, including the Arab world, opposing a peaceful resolution in Palestine? Americans are not informed about such things and it just so happens that this is beneficial to the privileged. The media, far from looking out for the little guy and being a watchdog, in fact enables ignorance in key areas, which is very helpful for some sectors of the population, namely the wealthy and powerful.

One politician that is not a favored candidate for the wealthy and powerful is Ron Paul. He really doesn't serve the special interests. So if the media is propagandizing as I said we would expect, then we would not expect him to get favorable coverage. We would expect, for instance, if he were to win the straw pole at CPAC by a wide margin, the media to downplay the significance of that. So here's our media's reaction to Paul's big win.

The USA Today headline is Step by step, Romney lining up support for 2012

The Washington Post article never once even mentions Ron Paul.

Fox News goes in to damage control mode.

We're to believe that Sarah Palin represents some sort of grass roots movement. Nonsense. As if she is some sort of "Rogue" candidate, bucking the system and standing for principle. Banker bailouts, bridges to nowhere. Give me a break. She's Hannah Montana. She is not in the least someone that rose to stardom because of grass roots support. She was selected in a board room and the Republican establishment is trying to make her a star. Ron Paul sustains wide and passionate support despite key efforts on the part of major media to marginalize him, make him out to be kooky, etc. That's a real grass roots movement, and it continues.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What It Takes To Be A Terrorist

It takes being a Muslim, as Glenn Greenwald observes.
All of this underscores, yet again, that Terrorism is simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon. The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity. It has really come to mean: "a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies." That's why all of this confusion and doubt arose yesterday over whether a person who perpetrated a classic act of Terrorism should, in fact, be called a Terrorist: he's not a Muslim and isn't acting on behalf of standard Muslim grievances against the U.S. or Israel, and thus does not fit the "definition." One might concede that perhaps there's some technical sense in which term might apply to Stack, but as Fox News emphasized: it's not "terrorism in the larger sense that most of us are used to . . . terrorism in that capital T way." We all know who commits terrorism in "that capital T way," and it's not people named Joseph Stack.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Illegality of Threats

It's fairly common knowledge that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law. Law that the United States has signed and agreed to comply with. There's a decent summary here. What many people don't realize though, as shown at the preceding link, is that it's not just illegal to invade a country without going through the proper procedures. It's also illegal to threaten another country under normal circumstances, such as when a country is not engaging in threatening behavior towards you, etc.

Iran has in no way threatened the United States, so threats against Iran are illegal. Dick Cheney and other high ranking officials have repeatedly threatened Iran (See Article 3 of House Resolution 333, which was articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney). This is a threat that is not to be taken lightly of course as the United States has the capability and has demonstrated the propensity to in fact carry out such threats.

We must demand that laws apply equally to the powerful and the weak.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thoughts on the Loftus/D'Souza Debate

Hey John. I listened to your debate with Dinesh D'Souza and I'd like to share my thoughts.

First of all unfortunately I do have to score it as a victory for D'Souza. Not so much on substance as on his skillful misdirection and dodging.

I would summarize your opening statement as follows. Several facts about the world make better sense as natural phenomenon. The fact that cultural and geographic factors seem to be the primary drivers of religious belief. The fact that God's revelation comes via history, which is notoriously unreliable and prone to falsehood and silliness. The fact that the Christian god story is wedded to stories that sound very fictive. The fact that evil natural disasters are present and could be non-existent if an all powerful, all good God, like the Christian God, existed. These things would be expected if there were no Christian God, but are unexpected if there were a Christian God.

Dinesh's immediate response is somewhat baffling. He dismisses all these factors as irrelevant. How are they irrelevant. "The fact that geography plays a role in religious affiliation is not proof that a particular religion is wrong." No it isn't. It's also nothing like the claim that you made. Did you say that Christianity can't be true because of geographic factors? No. That's not the argument. The argument is we would expect geography to play a prominent role in religious affiliation if there were no God, however if there were a God we would expect him to shower his grace on people equally, whether they lived in Mexico or the Congo. So Dinesh mischaracterized your argument. That's to be expected. Your mistake, John, is that you did not pounce on this misrepresentation, and the impression left with the listener is that he had responded to your point.

Dinesh would have us believe that your argument is that because the Christian God supposedly revealed himself via the imperfect medium of history this means Christianity IS FALSE. That's an easy straw man to knock down. Your real argument is that this shows that Christianity IS IMPROBABLE. That's a more reasonable and difficult to defeat claim, so Dinesh wants nothing to do with it. You allowed him to avoid this question and spin your argument into something that sounds absurd. The listener walks away thinking you adhere to an absurd argument.

It would not be the last time this would happen. At the start of your questions to him you asked the following, which I'll paraphrase:

John-Today you wouldn't believe a person if they said their donkey talked without seeing it for yourself. Why believe the Bible when it says the same thing?

Dinesh-If someone said certain people had 10 eyes I wouldn't believe because I have no experience with that. However if they tell me something about a place for which I have no experience (they eat cockroaches in Singapore, there is life after death) I'm not going to dismiss it because I have no evidence to the contrary. I haven't been to the afterlife, so I can't dismiss claims about the afterlife.

Let me just point out the obvious. THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION. You didn't ask about belief in the afterlife. You asked about belief in talking animals. His logic is sound. If he has experience with a thing and the claim contradicts his experience he rejects it. OK. Does he have experience with whether or not animals talk? I would assume he does. Based upon his own logic he should reject the biblical story. He doesn't. John, your mistake is that you allowed him to change the subject and dodge your question.

In addition it seemed that rather than respond to his off topic reply you likewise moved into a different subject. You said "Once you allow supernatural explanations, any explanation will do". He challenged that and you responded that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which I didn't see exactly how that was a response to what he had said. Finally he's the one who seems to be bringing things back on point. He pulls the discussion back to "Is there life after death", which is the very subject he brought up to distract from your initial question. You responded to this by saying you accept critiques religious people offer of other religions. Again, this doesn't appear to be a response to what he's saying. It looks like you are the one that is trying to distract. You needed to bring the discussion back to your actual question, never answered by Dinesh. Why believe in talking donkeys when you don't do this in normal experience? Unfortunately he is the one that appears to be sticking to the point. You appear to be switching topics. And yet he is the one that is in fact dodging your question.

Your closing statement contained no rebuttal to what we had heard. You encouraged people to read books. You asserted that agnosticisim is a good position. You talked about how other Christians critique people like Dinesh. This is an opportunity lost to rebut the statements we heard from Dinesh. Notice Dinesh's closing statement. He takes time to rebut the assertion that various critiques cancel the truth of Christianity. He's using his time to reject your arguments and you aren't using your time in the same way. He's scoring points with this.

Let me tell you something I've learned in debating Christians on the radio. A key element of their response is to simply not answer your question. It's to switch topics. When I first began calling Christian apologists this was what they did, and my mistake was that I allowed it. Since then I try to be more rigorous. In fact I've actually in some cases jotted down notes before calling so that I keep track of what I want to say and in CAPS I write to myself DID HE ANSWER THE QUESTION. On the radio I get overpowered by the host's microphone, so the best I can sometimes do is simply point out that he's not answering my question, but in a debate you have enough microphone time to make this clear. You have to call him out on that.

Don't be discouraged. You have the tools to be good at this. It will require practice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pravda and The New York Times Contrasted

This is a portion of an interview with Noam Chomsky from 1992 on Donahue/Pozner. The full interview is available here. One portion that may be interesting to some is a brief discussion as it relates to Pol Pot and East Timor.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just An Amazing Photo - Eclipse of Saturn

Meanwhile Wikipedia's retarded cousin informs us that Saturn's rings would require twice the age of the universe to form.

All via reddit.

The Bounds Of The Debate

Supposedly we get both sides of the debate offered in our media with regards to war. On the one hand you have the hawks. They think the war was a good idea, but U.S. policy is to be faulted for handling our enemies with kid gloves. On the other hand you have the doves. It's not that the war was fundamentally wrong and immoral. It's not that preemptively invading another country is a violation of the U.N. Charter. It's not that hundreds of thousands of dead innocent civilians is a problem. It's that it may prove too costly. It may be beyond our means. Our intentions were good, our motives just. It's just too costly.

Biden reflects the supposedly dovish side
. This war was mishandled. Too costly. Forget that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's are dead. That doesn't really enter the picture. We just bit off a little more than we could chew.

The same was true of Vietnam. A Gallup poll conducting in 1986 showed that for 71% of the American public the Vietnam War was not simply too costly or mishandled. It was fundamentally wrong and immoral. But try to find examples in the major media that reflect that majority opinion. Over and over it's the same thing Biden says of the dead hundreds of thousands in Iraq. The problem with this war is it's just too costly for us.

I notice the same thing with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the one hand are the hawks. Israel is too gentle. If only they'd beat up on the Palestinians more, maybe wipe them out, this problem could be resolved. Then there are the doves. They complain about settlement construction a little, but they'll often counterbalance this with talk of Hamas rockets and terrorism. Andrew Sullivan is a decent example. Supposedly his criticisms of Israel are so harsh he's eliciting charges bordering on anti-Semitism. I read Sullivan all the time. True, he's criticized settlement construction and Netenyahu's right wing extremism. He certainly looks reasonable next to the hawks. But this kind of criticism is often counterbalanced with discussions of Hamas as if the two sides commit crimes of a similar magnitude. He'll offer letters from readers that say "The Palestinians could have a state tomorrow if only they'd accept Israel's right to live."

That's not dovish. And in fact it doesn't even represent mainstream opinion in the world. Mainstream opinion would be reflected in someone like Norman Finkelstein. He's not suggesting that the Palestinians should be granted the right of return. He does believe it was unjust to evict the indigenous people in 1948, but he doesn't think anything can be done about it at this stage. He certainly does not advocate the destruction of the Israeli state. But he joins the world in advocating a peaceful settlement at the 1967 borders. He joins the world in identifying the settlements and separation walls as ipso facto illegal. He joins the world in recognizing that Israeli terrorism surpasses Palestinian terrorism in scale. He joins the world in recognizing that Israel's frequent aggression is a violation of the U.N. Charter.

He's interviewed frequently outside the country but to my knowledge has never been interviewed by any U.S. network or cable television media. This is what a real dove looks like. But in the United States he's almost inaudible. We're to believe Andrew Sullivan represents the dovish position. He doesn't.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Man Who Saved The World

If they ever rescinded all Nobel Peace Prizes ever awarded and instead offered them to Vasiliy Arkhipov I think it would be tough to argue that it wasn't the right move. Kennedy and Kruschev just about brought the end of humanity. Somebody explain to me why Kennedy is so revered in this country. To describe these two as criminally reckless is about as big an understatement as can be made.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Christianity and the End of the Human Race

Dinesh D'Souza asked John Loftus in their recent debate something to the effect of "Why bother debunking a being that from your perspective is mythical? You don't see me spending so much energy trying to disprove the existence of unicorns."

Here's one reason. Christian belief could contribute to the end of the human experiment. I know that sounds extreme, but consider.

Assuming you are not a Christian, what things do you think are most likely to lead to the extinction of humanity? Well, one would probably be what Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell raised in their Russell-Einstein Manifesto. They wrote:

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?

Obviously mankind has not renounced war. This threat remains and it is substantial.

Another way is environmental catastrophe. Drastic environmental changes are frequently the cause of the major extinction events throughout the history of life on this planet. During the last half a billion years there have been 5 extinction events that have caused over half of the animal population to die. The consensus of climate experts is that humans are causing changes in our climate that could lead to catastrophic results. See here for a brief primer and go here for the IPCC reporting. It's not a guarantee, but it is a risk.

So what can be done to reduce the risks? On the nuclear front I think it would be great if the worlds leading power stopped threatening and attacking various countries. This can lead to further nuclear proliferation amongst fundamentalist extremist Muslim nations, as I discussed here. On the climate front we probably need to reduce our carbon emissions.

Here's the scary thing. Evangelical Christians don't care. I know because I was one. I didn't care. I also talk to evangelicals today. Most people I know are evangelicals. They don't care. Want to know why? Jesus is coming again. Why should I reduce carbon emissions? Why should I be concerned about nuclear proliferation? Is Jesus going to let that happen?

The fact is this is a rational position from their perspective. Evangelicals are a disproportionately high segment of global warming deniers (see my earlier discussion here). They are also a disproportionately high segment of war advocates against extremist Muslim nations. They are doing things that increase the likelihood of nuclear proliferation and global warming and so they are doing things that increase the likelihood of the extinction of humanity.

Since deconverting I've realized some things. There's no God that's going to clean up our messes. We destroy our environment and we are on our own. We will face the consequences. No magic man will wave his wand and make it all better. God is not protecting us from enraged Muslims smuggling nuclear weapons into our country. If we don't take responsibility and do what is necessary to reduce these risks then we could destroy ourselves. It took deconversion for me to realize this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UN Votes On Peaceful Resolution to Israel-Palestine Conflict

Great news. The U.N. has voted on the terms of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Israel. It's a blow out. 164 nations in favor of the peaceful settlement. Only 7 opposed. Here's the roll call.

But then they do that every year, and among the 7 is a key nation. The United States. Here's a sampling of the roll call on the same resolution from years past. What we need to do is make Americans aware that there is an international consensus on a peaceful resolution. The whole Arab world supports it. If the U.S. supported it it would happen. It's up to the American public to get this done.

Robert Price Will Debate James White

This should be a good debate. The topic is the historical reliability of the New Testament, something Price knows a lot about. James White though will have read up on Price's arguments and he'll be ready with something. Not sure what though.

White's view of Price is clear. He thinks Price is on a mission to discredit the Bible. That's true of a lot of atheists, but in fact it is not true of Price. Price is a guy that frequently corrects overzealous atheists in their efforts to identify contradictions. For instance he believes that the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 do not necessarily require that the earth is young. Someone that advocates "every possible theory that militates against Christian orthodoxy" would probably prefer to assume that the Bible is teaching six literal 24 hour creation days because it sounds so absurd. Price doesn't do this.

I've spoken with White on the Dividing Line about Price (see the 6/5/07 discussion). He tried to make the same sort of point. Robert Price has radical skepticism and applies one standard to the Bible and another to all other texts in an effort to discredit it. I said no. He treats the Qur'an the same way. "Sorry. The Bible and Qur'an have different textual histories." I replied that all books have different textual histories. "Oh so it's just so he can discredit theistic faiths." OK. At this stage it's obvious that White doesn't know much about Price's work. Price talks about how his reasonable questions apply to Plato's works and others on a regular basis.

So I think at this stage White probably has fundamental misunderstandings about Price and his views. He'll be reading up on them in the months to come. Hopefully that will do him some good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Forgotten History-The Belgian Congo

I had the opportunity to travel to Europe recently. Most of my time was spent in Brussels. I wandered around to get to know the city, walking through Leopold Park (a few views here), and observing impressive statues, such as the one near the Trone metro station (see here).

Frequently the statues are of King Leopold II. Apparently this guy built a few structures out of his own personal fortune, such as the Cinquantenaire. Must have been a pretty impressive guy, right?

And he is. In the same way that Hitler is impressive. A staggeringly successful genocidal maniac. I'm just shocked to have walked around the city with all of the streets and parks named after this guy not knowing who he is only to find out that he killed about 10 million innocent Congolese. Here's a two hour long documentary from the BBC on him.

In sum Leopold wanted a colony of his own and settled on the Congo. After his annexation rubber was suddenly in high demand with the invention of the inflatable tire. And the Congo had plentiful amounts. So he basically had quotas for the natives to meet in their harvesting of rubber. To encourage them to meet their quotas his henchmen would kill anyone that failed, or perhaps burn a village if the village as a collective didn't harvest enough. This went on for a few decades. Lots of hand chopping as well. Today the Belgian kings retain the wealth acquired by Leopold. And other important resources have been found in the Congo and so fighting continues in an effort to acquire gold, diamonds, and other natural resources. A story related to the more recent suffering was recently published in the New York Times here.

The Congo has undergone a couple of holocausts. One under Leopold. Another more recently. It's strange how some atrocities receive so much attention while others are unknown.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Do You Expect Iran To Do?

I just watched Jon Stewart on O'Reilly. There's an unedited version here in mp4 format. That's the on I saw.

It's an interesting interview. One question that O'Reilly raised concerned Iran. He wants to know Stewart's thoughts. Is he scared of Iran? Should we consider violence against them to curb their nuclear capacity?

Stewart's reply is basically there are a lot of scary places in the world and we don't have the resources to go in and stop them forcefully. O'Reilly seemed to agree.

My view is a little different. I definitely don't want to see Iran with nuclear weapons. Iran is comprised of people that are amongst the most extreme of Islamic fundamentalists. No sane person wants nuclear weapons in the hands of such people. On the other hand there are immediate things that can be done to reduce the likelihood that they will acquire weapons.

Take a look at this map of the Middle East and note which countries are on Iran's borders. Among them are Iraq, where the U.S. has removed the previous government and installed a client regime, and in the process killed probably hundreds of thousands of people at a minimum. Then there's Afghanistan where the U.S. has removed the previous government and installed a client regime, and further wrecked an already wrecked country. Also there is Pakistan which had been ruled by a U.S. backed military dictator since 1999. Since then there have been "elections." Without going in to the details I'll just say that it's another puppet regime. Despite this Obama has expanded U.S. aggression in Pakistan.

So what would you expect a regime like what is in Iran to do if they want to sustain their grip on power when they are frequently being threatened by a state that has conquered many of the nations at it's borders? If they are sane they will probably attempt to acquire as many powerful weapons as they can. Our violence on their borders would quite naturally be their primary motivation to acquire these dangerous weapons.

O'Reilly is concerned about Iran. I am too. But Iran hasn't committed an act of aggression against another state in hundreds of years, unlike the United States and Israel. Lost among O'Reilly's spin is the fact that recently the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the IAEA and open up it's nuclear weapons facilities to safety inspections for stability in the Middle East. Iran is a member. Iran has opened up it's nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors. Israel refuses. If it makes sense to threaten Iran, which doesn't have the aggressive history, why doesn't it make sense to threaten Israel, which does have an extremely aggressive history and in fact today occupies foreign territory by force?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Their Responsibilities and Ours

When it comes to terrorism there are those demands that the U.S. government places on others and then there are the standards to which the U.S. government holds itself.

Jose Posada Carriles is quite a prolific terrorist. He bombed a Cuban civilian airliner in Venezuela, but this is among the least of his crimes. Far more horrendous was his involvement in arming the Nicaraguan Contras. Terrorist action against Nicaragua was condemned by a World Court decision, a U.N. General Assembly Resolution, and Security Council resolutions if you ignore the U.S. veto.

He managed to escape a Venezuelan prison and enter the U.S. illegally. Venezuela requested his extradition. But this was a problem for the U.S. as explained in the "liberal" Boston Globe.
After his escape from a Venezuelan prison, Posada Carriles was hired by US covert operatives to direct the resupply operation for the Nicaraguan contras from El Salvador. Extraditing him for trial could send a worrisome signal to covert foreign agents that they cannot count on unconditional protection from the US government, and it could expose the CIA to embarrassing public disclosures from a former operative. It also would infuriate some members of Florida's Cuban exile community who gave George W. Bush crucial support in both his presidential election victories.

Tough choice. On the one hand you've got a terrorist. On the other you don't want to discourage CIA covert action (more terrorism). What to do? Well, the courts decided to reject Venezuela's request. Today Carriles lives in Miami with his wife.

A day following the court's decision FBI director Robert Mueller asked Europe to speed their extradition process. Here is how it is reported in the Financial Times.
“We are always looking to see how we can make the extradition process go faster,” Mr Mueller told the FT. “We think we owe it to the victims of terrorism to see to it that justice is done efficiently and effectively.”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Look to International News

I believe we Americans are very much submerged within a news structure that is very popagandistic. It's worthwhile to look to international sources. Here's a sampling of some news not covered in the U.S. that is important.

The first is important not just because of the seriousness of the issue, but also because it is has been widely covered in foreign press. There is reason to believe that U.S. personnel were responsible for a huge atrocity in Afghanistan that is comparable to 9-11. Perhaps thousands of Taliban fighters that had surrendered were killed in a horrific way and buried in mass graves. This incident in captured in a documentary called Afghan Massacre: Convoy of Death. You can watch the film online. An early screening was shown at European Parliament in Brussels. The final screening was broadcast in a variety of countries. The film was not screened in the U.S. and has received no media coverage here.

The claim is that these Afghans were loaded into containers extremely tightly. The containers were closed as the trucks sat in the sweltering heat. The men cried out for air and the response was to riddle the containers with bullet holes, killing those near the sides. They rode in these containers for hours. Apparently they resorted to biting one another and licking sweat from skin in order to get fluids. When the containers were finally opened the stench of vomit, feces, urine, rotting flesh, and blood were released. Most inside were dead. Those that weren't yet dead were shot in the head. The corpses were dumped in mass graves. This was the fate of thousands.

Other more recent foreign news is that U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan are at record levels. Of the 12 that occurred in January 10 went wrong and failed to hit their targets, killing 123 people. The remaining 2 killed 3 Al Qaeda leaders. The increase is apparently due to the suicide attack that killed 7 CIA agents. Interestingly the suicide bomber was motivated by a U.S. drone attack that had killed a TTP chief. What should we expect will happen as drone attacks are increased?

Canada is talking about some news. On The Fifth Estate they revealed that there is no reason to believe the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters. The claim was made by Ted Olsen. Olsen is known for being the lawyer that argued before the Supreme Court in Bush v Gore. He was Bush's attorney. He said that he received a call from his wife, Barbara Olsen, while she was aboard the plane that hit the Pentagon. I personally watched his description of the calls, which I believe I saw on CNN. Now it turns out those calls never happened. Olsen was either duped or he was lying. This means nothing as far as 9/11 conspiracies in my mind, but I'd think it would be newsworthy in the States. It hasn't been covered to my knowledge.

Here's a story that did get some U.S. coverage, but have you heard of it? This AP article suggests Pat Tillman may have been murdered. I'm making no claim one way or the other, but notice the lack of coverage.