- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Monday, January 10th, 2005
"Fahrenheit 9/11" Named Best Picture of the Year by the American
Last night, at the People's Choice Awards, "Fahrenheit 9/11" was
named the Best Movie of the Year. It was a stunning moment for us.
And, somewhere inside the Bush White House, someone there must have
been stunned, too.
21 million people voted in the People's Choice Awards. They chose our
film over "Shrek 2," "Spiderman 2" and "The Incredibles." If we can
beat that many superheroes, surely we can survive the next four years.
I can think of no greater honor for us this year than the award
bestowed upon us last night by the American people. On live
television, with no threat of my remarks being censored or cut short,
I thanked all of you and the rest of our fellow Americans and
dedicated the prize to the parents of our servicemen and women in
Iraq, the Lila Lipscombs of America who suffer so profoundly by the
reckless actions of the Bush administration.
(If you'd like to see what I said -- this time, no riot! -- you can
click here. I even dressed up!)
It was an historic moment as no documentary had ever won the People's
Choice Award for Best Picture. And I thank each and every one of you
who voted and made that happen.
I took Congresswoman Maxine Waters and her husband as my guests last
night. My family was there, too, as was some of our crew. We had a
great time and I even got to meet Mel Gibson for the first time (he
won a secondary prize for best film drama). More on that later!
Thanks again, and now let's get on with the serious work at hand --
winning more awards! Hahahaha. Just kidding. We have an inauguration
to attend, don't we?
New Pentagon Vision Transforms War Agenda
By Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Space
Newsletter 16 - Winter 2005
Pentagon transformation is well underway. The U.S. military is
increasingly being converted into a global oil protection service.
Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld has a "strategy guy" whose job is to
teach this new way of warfare to high-level military officers from
all branches of services and to top level CIA operatives. Thomas
Barnett is a professor at the Navy War College in Rhode Island. He is
author of the controversial book The Pentagon's New Map that
identifies a "non-integrating gap" in the world that is resisting
corporate globalization. Barnett defines the gap as parts of Latin
America, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia all of which are key
oil-producing regions of the world.
In what Barnett calls a "Grand March of History" he claims that the
U.S. military must be transformed in order to preemptively take
control of the gap, so the U.S. can "manage" the global distribution
of resources, people, energy, and money. (It has long predicted that
the gap between rich and poor around the world will continue to widen
and that the Pentagon will be used to keep the boot on the necks of
the people of the third world to the benefit of corporate
Barnett predicts that U.S. unilateralism will lead to
of war." Referring to Hitler in a recent presentation, Barnett
reminded his military audience that the Nazi leader never asked for
permission before invading other countries. Thus, the end to multi-
Barnett argues that the days of arms talks and international treaties
are over. "There is no secret where we are going," he says as he
calls for a "new ordering principle" at the Department of Defense
(DoD). Barnett maintains that as jobs move out of the U.S. the
primary export product of the nation will be "security." Global
energy demand will necessitate U.S. control of the oil producing
regions. "We will be fighting in Central Africa in 20 years," Barnett
In order to implement this new military vision," Barnett maintains
that the U.S. military must move away from its often-competing mix of
Air Force-Navy-Army-Marines toward two basic military services. One
he names Leviathan, which he defines as the kick ass, wage war,
special ops, and not under the purview of the international criminal
court. Give us your angry, video game-playing 18-19 year olds, for
the Leviathan force, Barnett says. Once a country is conquered by
Leviathan, Barnett says the U.S. will have to have a second military
force that he calls Systems Administration. This force he describes
as the "proconsul" of the empire, boots on the ground, the police
force to control the local populations. This group, Barnett
says, "will never come home."
Barnett1s plan is essentially underway today. New fast, flexible, and
efficient projection forces with "lily pad" bases are now being
developed for control of the gap. Over the next decade, the military
will abandon 35% of the Cold War-era bases it uses abroad as it seeks
to expand the network of bare-bones sites in the gap. The planned
changes, once completed, will result in the most
profound "reordering" of U.S. military forces overseas since the
current global arrangements were set 50 years ago.
According to Michael Klare, professor of Peace Studies at Hampshire
College, "American troops are now risking their lives on a daily
basis to protect the flow of petroleum. In Colombia, Saudi Arabia,
and the Republic of Georgia, U.S. personnel are spending their days
and nights protecting pipelines and refineries, or supervising the
local forces assigned to this mission."
Klare continues, "The DoD has stepped up its arms deliveries to
military forces in Angola and Nigeria, and is helping to train their
officers and enlisted personnel; meanwhile, Pentagon officials have
begun to look for permanent bases in the area, focusing on Senegal,
Ghana, Mali, Uganda and Kenya." The Wall Street Journal has reported
that "a key mission for U.S. forces (in Africa) would be to ensure
that Nigeria1s oil fields, which in the future could account for as
much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports, are secure."
National Guard units across the U.S. are now being assigned the task
of developing on-going basing relationships with each nation on the
Role of Space Technology
The Bush administration is also exploring the possibility of
expanding the emerging missile defense system into Eastern Europe as
an element in the strategic containment of Russia, China and the
Middle East. The Pentagon has been negotiating with Hungary, Romania,
Poland and the Czech Republic about one or more of them hosting new
missile defense bases. Oil-rich Iran is to be encircled by missile
defense posts in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
In order to pull all of this together the Pentagon claims it will
need "a God's-eye view" of the world. A new "internet in the sky" is
now being built for the wars of the future. Costing well over $200
billion, the new web would give war machines and military forces a
common language, instantly emitting an encyclopedia of lethal
information about all enemies.
According to Art Cebrowski, director of the Pentagon's Office of
Force Transformation, "What we are really talking about is a new
theory of war." The military wants to know "everything of interest to
us, all the time," says one Pentagon insider. Military intelligence
including secret satellite surveillance covering most of the Earth
will be posted on the war net and shared with troops. "The essence of
net-centric warfare is our ability to deploy a war-fighting force
anywhere, anytime. Information technology is the key to that."
Thus U.S. military and economic control of the gap will be dependent
on a system of networked computers. Fusing weapons, secret
intelligence and soldiers in a global network what the military calls
net-centric warfare will, they say, change the military in a way the
Internet changed business and culture.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Brunswick, MaineBruce K. Gagnon
Abbas wins Palestinian vote in landslide
By Lara Sukhtian
Jan. 10, 2005 | RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Mahmoud Abbas was
elected Palestinian Authority president by a landslide, results
showed Monday, giving the pragmatist a mandate to resume peace talks
with Israel -- but also leaving him with the tough task of reining in
powerful armed groups.
Israeli leaders welcomed Abbas' victory, but said they will watch
closely how hard he tries to subdue militants. Abbas could easily
lose his political capital over a major bombing or shooting attack,
and while most militant groups signaled they are willing to give him
a chance, not all have signed on to a truce with Israel.
Still, Abbas' victory held out the promise of a new era after four
decades of chaotic and corruption-riddled rule by Yasser Arafat, who
died Nov. 11. Abbas, who has spoken out against violence and has the
support of the international community, promises to reform the
government and the unwieldy security services.
Many Palestinians had high expectations of Abbas, widely known as Abu
Mazen. "Today is the beginning of a new future," said Sami Radwan,
55, a restaurant owner in Gaza City. "Abu Mazen is the right choice.
He is the one who can bring us peace, good business and security."
Abbas won 62.3 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission
said. His main challenger, independent candidate Mustafa Barghouti,
won about 20 percent. The remaining five candidates scored in low
In his acceptance speech, Abbas said he faces a difficult mission,
but he reiterated that he would not go after militants. Instead, he
said, he wants to "give our fugitives a life of dignity," referring
to those wanted by Israel.
"I present this victory to the soul of Yasser Arafat and present it
to our people and to our martyrs," Abbas added.
After exit polls predicted a sweeping Abbas victory, cheering
supporters took to the streets of the West Bank and Gaza late Sunday.
Gunmen fired in the air, motorists honked horns and members of Abbas'
ruling Fatah movement, wearing checkered black-and-white headbands,
danced in the streets.
The Islamic militant group Hamas, the largest opposition group,
announced Monday it will work with Abbas, despite misgivings about
what it said were voting irregularities, including a decision to keep
polls open two hours longer than planned. Hamas had called for a
boycott of the election, but did not try to disrupt the vote.
A U.S. observer team headed by Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Democrat
from Delaware, and John Sununu, a Republican from New Hampshire, said
in a statement that the Palestinians "have conducted a clean, open
and fair election, largely unimpeded and without interference."
In Washington, President Bush called the election a "historic" step
toward a Palestinian state.
"The United States stands ready to help the Palestinian people
realize their aspirations," Bush said. "The new Palestinian president
and his Cabinet face critical tasks ahead, including fighting
terrorism, combatting corruption, building reformed and democratic
institutions and reviving the Palestinian economy."
It wasn't clear how many people voted.
Officials said close to 70 percent of 1.1 million registered voters
cast ballots. But because elections officials opened up the polls to
all Palestinians above age 18 in the middle of the day on Sunday,
about 660,000 others could have voted; officials hadn't yet said how
David Pearce, the U.S. consul in Jerusalem, said he was struck by the
civic pride of the voters and their new sense of hope. "There are
immense challenges. A million things can go wrong. But for the first
time in a long time, there is a chance that something can go right,"
In Israel, a new, more dovish coalition was to be approved by
parliament Monday, another step toward a planned withdrawal from the
Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements in the summer.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new coalition partners, the moderate
Labor Party and a small ultra-Orthodox faction, ensure a
parliamentary majority for the pullback, despite fervent opposition
Labor leader Shimon Peres praised Abbas as a wise leader, and
expressed hope that peace talks could resume with new Israeli and
Palestinian governments. "If he (Abbas) makes a maximum effort to
fight terror, in my view this is good enough to return to
negotiations," Peres told Israel Radio on Monday.
Peres congratulated Abbas in a telephone call and told the
Palestinian leader he would do everything he could to help, said an
official close to Peres.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli vice premier, said Abbas needs to take
immediate action against militants. "Will he fight against the
terrorists? Will he try to stop this bloody, violent war against the
state of Israel? This is the main question," Olmert told CNN.
Sharon plans to meet with Abbas soon, the Israeli leader's aides
Most Palestinian militant groups have indicated they are willing to
halt attacks against Israel. The Islamic Hamas, which called for an
election boycott, did not try to disrupt the vote, and local militant
leaders demonstrated their support for Abbas.
However, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, who fund some Palestinian
militants, are trying to sabotage a possible truce, according to
people close to the group. On Sunday, Hezbollah carried out a cross-
border attack, setting off an exchange that resulted in the deaths of
an Israeli soldier, a French U.N. observer and a Hezbollah fighter.
Abbas' victory capped a peaceful transition after Arafat's death.
However, Abbas' goals are the same as Arafat's: a Palestinian state
in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and a solution for
Palestinian war refugees.
"There is a difficult mission ahead to build our state, to achieve
security for our people ... to give our prisoners freedom, our
fugitives a life in dignity, to reach our goal of an independent
state," he said after declaring victory.
The Central Election Commission changed voting procedures midway
through the election, keeping polling stations open an additional two
hours and allowing voters to cast their ballots at any location, not
just in their hometowns
One election official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
changes came after heavy pressure from Fatah, which feared a low
turnout could weaken Abbas.
The election, the first presidential vote in nine years, proceeded
largely without interruption. In one incident, gunmen fired in the
air in an election office and in Jerusalem, voters complained of
Palestinian Cabinet ministers said Abbas won a strong mandate. "The
Palestinian people have transmitted a message of peace to Israel and
to the international community," said minister Ghassan Khatib.
Many gunmen followed rules barring weapons in voting stations, but in
a sign of the difficulty the new president will face in controlling
them, Zakariye Zubeidi, a militant leader, refused to give up his M-
16 assault rifle when he walked into a polling station in the West
Bank town of Jenin.
In Jerusalem, Palestinians and international observers complained of
confusion over registration lists, and Palestinians accused Israel of
trying to intimidate them.
By prior agreement with Israel, only about 5,000 of 120,000 eligible
voters in Jerusalem -- a city both sides claim as their capital --
were permitted to vote in post offices in the city. The others had to
vote in suburbs.
Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
Seeking to build support among black families for its education
reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit
$240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television
show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.
Williams on being paid to boost NCLB: "I wanted to do it because it's
something I believe in."
The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind
(NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment
on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview
Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired
during the show in 2004.
Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the
arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something
I believe in."
The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller
of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of
taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his
Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.
The contract, detailed in documents obtained by USA TODAY through a
Freedom of Information Act request, also shows that the Education
Department, through the Ketchum public relations firm, arranged with
Williams to use contacts with America's Black Forum, a group of black
broadcast journalists, "to encourage the producers to periodically
address" NCLB. He persuaded radio and TV personality Steve Harvey to
invite Paige onto his show twice. Harvey's manager, Rushion McDonald,
confirmed the appearances.
Williams said he does not recall disclosing the contract to audiences
on the air but told colleagues about it when urging them to promote
"I respect Mr. Williams' statement that this is something he believes
in," said Bob Steele, a media ethics expert at The Poynter Institute
for Media Studies. "But I would suggest that his commitment to that
belief is best exercised through his excellent professional work
rather than through contractual obligations with outsiders who are,
quite clearly, trying to influence content."
The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited
propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the
government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and
Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he couldn't comment because
the White House is not involved in departments' contracts.
Ketchum referred questions to the Education Department, whose
spokesman, John Gibbons, said the contract followed standard
government procedures. He said there are no plans to continue
with "similar outreach."
Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that
produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports.
The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote
its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the
Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of
Williams, 45, a former aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas, is one of the top black conservative voices in the nation. He
hosts The Right Side on TV and radio, and writes op-ed pieces for
newspapers, including USA TODAY, while running a public relations
firm, Graham Williams Group.
ConocoPhillips Drops Out of Arctic Power
t r u t h o u t | Press Release
Wednesday 05 January 2005
Joins BP as second oil company to leave arctic drilling lobby group;
shareholders withdraw resolution on issue.
ConocoPhillips, the largest oil company in Alaska, has dropped
out of Arctic Power, the single-issue lobbying group that promotes
opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for
oil and gas drilling. The decision by the Houston-based oil giant
means that the two largest operators on Alaska's North Slope - BP and
ConocoPhillips - are no longer members of the Arctic drilling lobby
"This is a significant win for America's Arctic, and we commend
ConocoPhillips for listening to their shareholders and the American
people and dropping out of Arctic Power," said Athan Manuel, director
of U.S. PIRG's Arctic Wilderness Campaign. "It appears that
ConocoPhillips and BP are more enlightened than the Bush
Administration when it comes to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
Hopefully Congress will get the message and defeat attempts to allow
drilling in the Arctic Refuge this year."
In response to ConocoPhillip's decision, Green Century Capital
Management had decided to withdraw a shareholder resolution filed
with the company regarding drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
"As ConocoPhillips shareholders, we applaud our company's
decision to withdraw from Arctic Power," said Green Century's Michael
Leone. "ConocoPhillips clearly recognized that drilling in the Refuge
would be risky business, and that participating in Arctic Power's pro-
drilling efforts was not ultimately in the company's best interests."
Over the last two years, ConocoPhillips' shareholders and
environmentalists have pushed the company to address the risks
associated from drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge.
An Arctic Refuge shareholder resolution filed by Green Century
received more than 9 percent of the shareholder vote in May 2004.
Green Century refiled the Arctic Refuge resolution in December 2004,
but offered to withdraw the resolution if the company dropped out of
A coalition of environmental organizations and socially
responsible investors first asked ConocoPhillips to drop out of
Arctic Power at the company's annual meeting in May. A letter
authored by U.S. PIRG and Green Century, went on to state that
dropping out of Arctic Power would demonstrate to the socially
responsible investment and conservation community that ConocoPhillips
is no longer actively advocating drilling in the Arctic Refuge. An
October 2004 coalition letter to ConocoPhillips reiterated the offer.
BP dropped out of Arctic Power in November 2002, after a similar
campaign by the PIRG Arctic Wilderness Campaign, the World Wildlife
Fund, and Green Century.
Since 1998, the PIRG Arctic Wilderness Campaign and its partners
have targeted the four oil companies that have expressed interest in
drilling in the Arctic Refuge. The campaign has filed 15 shareholder
resolutions and generated more than 65,000 e-mails, phone calls, and
letters to BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and ChevronTexaco.
Resolutions have also been filed this year at ChevronTexaco and
ExxonMobil that ask each company to report on the risks of operating
in sensitive areas such as the Arctic Refuge. These resolutions will
be voted on at each company's 2005 annual meeting.
"We hope that these companies will follow ConocoPhillips' lead in
protecting shareholder value as well as the environment by
withdrawing from Arctic Power," said Green Century's Leone.
ConocoPhillips' decision comes at the start of the 109th
Congress, which will likely debate the fate of the Arctic Refuge in
February or March 2005.
"We hope that ConocoPhillips' decision to drop out of Arctic
Power will demonstrate to members of Congress that even the oil
companies aren't interested in drilling in the Arctic Refuge,"
concluded PIRG's Manuel. "BP and ConocoPhillips recognize that
drilling in the Arctic Refuge doesn't make sense, and it looks like
drilling there is not a priority for either company."
U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state Public
Interest Research Groups. The state PIRGs are non-partisan, non-
profit advocacy organizations.
Green Century Capital Management, Inc. is the administrator of
the Green Century Funds, the first family of no-load, environmentally
responsible mutual funds.
For more on the campaign, visit savethearctic.com.