Monday, March 26, 2007

Impeach the Supreme Court Three

Impeaching the President could be a useful step, but what is to stop the Supreme Court from violating the Constitution and stealing elections again? Contrary to popular belief, the Justices are not untouchable. Impeachment of Supreme Court Justices can be done and has been done before, though not successfully leading to removal. The Constitution allows for their removal by impeachment in the House and Senate. The last person to attempt to impeach a Supreme Court Justice was Gerald Ford, when he was House minority leader in 1970. Even the number of judges on the Court is not specified in the U.S. Constitution, but can be set by acts of Congress.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

I haven't been keeping up with One Laptop Per Child. It looks like they have the Red Hat "Sugar" OS worked out. Bill Gates has stopped attacking it and started writing software for it, over protests from Greens. It lost the crank last year and will accept power from an external power source of whatever type, human or not. I have to concede that the crank is probably better off as a separate charger device than built-in. I wouldn't mind seeing this in Japan. I can't help but compare it to a cell phone. Many young Japanese are content with a cell phone and see no use for a computer. Computers haven't declined much in price, as manufacturers concentrate on making new models with never-before-seen power specifications, rather than undercut themselves by building machines which are low-powered and cheap. People can just buy a used computer for that. I think there is a market for these in the developed world, too.

Move the US capital out of DC

I have thought for a long time that it might be a good idea to move the US capital to a more central location, which, two centuries ago, was the reason for building it where it is.

Two possible locations one could arrive at logically are the mean center of population, and the mean center of state capitals, which would reflect the distribution of Senators. Senators leaving a centrally located Senate chamber would leave in equal numbers to the four points of the compass. So, suppose you wanted to relocate the US Senate to a location where 25 of the state capitals were to the east, and 25 state capitals were to the west, 25 state capitals were to the north, and 25 state capitals were to the south. This would be an ideally central location for the 100 Senators to meet, the ideal location of a new Senate chamber. Where is this location? I couldn't find any document about this so I had to make it myself.

The median center of the state capitals is a rectangle bounded by
39.776N (latitude of Indianapolis, Indiana) on the south,
39.781N (Springfield Illinois) on the north,
89.644W (Springfield Illinois) on the east,
90.207W (longitude of Jackson, Mississippi) on the west.

In other words, the median center of the 50 state capitals is inside a rectangle with Springfield Illinois at the northeast corner and 39.776N 90.207W at the southwest corner. It is a surprisingly small area, due to a clustering of many state capitals at that latitude. The location is directly east of Springfield Illinois and north of St. Louis. The presence of a large city nearby provides airports, roads, rail, and other transport connections and services. This area is near the Mississippi River, which could replace the Potomac as the river running through the US capital, if it were to be moved over to the river. It is also not far from Hannibal Missouri, boyhood home of Mark Twain, and Quincy, Illinois. Specifically, it is located just north of Jacksonville, Illinois, off interstate 72, which runs west to Hannibal.

If we consider Washington, DC as a state capital, the median-ranked #26 on westernness is Springfield Illinois. Coincidentally, #26 on northernness is also Springfield Illinois! The US Senate would move into the city which is also the Illinois state capital, in the Land of Lincoln.
What about the US territories and commonwealths of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Marianas and Federation of Micronesia? All of these could potentially become states and alter the center. All six of these are south of the other state capitals, and four of the six are west of the others. Together with Washington, DC, there would be 57 States, with the median being rank number 29 (28 states below, 28 states above). This would move the latitude to the line of 39.148N from Carson City, Nevada (if I am not mistaken). Adding four western states and two eastern states would bump the median state on westernness over one state, back to the Jackson Mississippi line of 90.207W. But somehow, the addition of these six additional states only serves to move the new capital south, two-thirds of the way from Jacksonville toward a location about 30 miles north of St. Louis.

The mean center of population for the United States is another candidate for a national capital. Washington DC was originally chosen as the capital because of its central and neutral location. The mean center of population went from east of DC in 1790, to north of DC in 1800, and has been moving farther west of DC since the 1810 census. The center of population spent 6 decades in Indiana before moving into Illinois for 3 decades from 1950. Since 1980 the mean center of population has been in Missouri. Locating a capital at the mean center of population after every census would mean leaving a trail of abandoned convention-like facilities across the midwest, unless tents like Mongolian yurts or circus tents were used.

I suggest we create a new national capital for the United States on the Mississippi River. Ideally, it could be located near St. Louis, perhaps within 50 miles, or 15 minutes by maglev train. It should be located on high ground, not flood plain. A large central maul like that of DC (or Red Square, Beijing) should be constructed as well. DC should either be made into a state or returned to Virginia and Maryland. The residents of the new federal district should retain the voting rights of the state which the land they reside on came from, to avoid what happened to the disenfranchised DC citizens. Government functions could be slowly moved out of DC over 30 years. A few functions could stay there. The DC area would become a national park with historical, educational, and other new functions.

The central location would make it easier for representatives to travel there, and easier for constituents to travel there to petition their representatives. It might put the government in closer touch with the problems at the center of the nation, such as the situation in New Orleans, or the crime problem in St Louis, which now exceeds that of DC, NTC, or Miami. At least for a while, the old lobbying networks of K street and the Pentagon system might be disrupted.

A new federal district could be carved from Missouri, Illinois, or both. Another alternative is to move downstream until the opportunity to make a capital of a Tri-State Area emerges. The nearest one is Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky (near Cairo). A bit further downstream is the meeting of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri (near New Madrid). Still further is Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee (Blytheville). The disadvantage is that these are really remote locations, but are getting closer to Memphis and the future mean population center, which is likely to cross into Arkansas. The remoteness could be solved by a high-speed maglev bullet train line that would link Chicago to St Louis, the new capital, and Memphis, the present route of interstate 55.

Knowledge of Self: Personality

I teach a seminar using Web Enhanced Language Learning. One type of activity that I have students do is to use the internet to develop self-awareness, global awareness, and media awareness. In the self-awareness modules, I have students complete online surveys which will help them become aware of their learning style, personality type, and career interest or occupational aptitude. They do some discussion questions with a partner, preview some vocabulary from the survey, and then complete online surveys. Sometimes, as with the Career Interest Survey, there are some media such as short movies introducing various professions. Usually there is text, something to read. They have to speak, asking questions and listening to their partners, read and understand the online surveys, answer them, read the results, and write up their findings and reflections at the end.

The test I like best at this time is the HumanMetrics Jungian Myers-Briggs Typology Test. 72 yes-no questions will give you a result as one of the 16 types. I am INTP, but not consistently. If I vary the replies which I feel especially indecisive about, (INTPs are notoriously indecisive and probabilistic) I have come up with INFP and INTJ on occasion. These average out to INTP anyway. HumanMetrics' site will link to Keirsey, TypeLogic, and career choices, which in my case were teaching, natural science, computer programming, engineering, law, and librarian. I found other seemingly unique descriptions of INTP at lifexplore, the metaphysicalzone, and advisorteam. is a good site for learning about the Myers-Briggs personality types, but their test began to cost money. Last time I checked it was still free if you take one of the non-English language versions.

I always try to provide alternative links for a few reasons. One reason is that links disappear or become paid services or services requiring registration. Another reason is that taking multiple tests gives students multiple results, and lets them see the flaws and differences in the tests, gives them a stereoscopic view from a different perspective. This forces them to think more critically and process the divergent results. Even just taking the tests on different days sometimes gives different results. Still another reason is to give faster students something extra to do.

As an alternative, the BIG 5 test by U. C. Berkeley psychologist Oliver D. John, Ph.D., has 48 questions to score on a 5-point scale.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Flood Maps

Flood Maps, by Alex Tingle, show the effects of sea level rise of up to 14 meters in Google Maps. You can set the sea level rise for the best estimate you have. My neighborhood is still above water, but Chiba has become an island, with perhaps a bridge or tenuous causeway to the rest of Honshu, and most of the east side of Tokyo is underwater. I understand the White House will be waterfront property in the 14 m scenario. If the entire mass of the polar ice caps melts, sea level rises could be much more than this, but that may occur over several centuries. The old city of Funabashi will go underwater and Higashi Funabashi will be a beach area. Water comes up on several sides of Tsudanuma station.

Update 2007-03-20:
I should mention that a complete polar meltdown to ice-free status would raise sea level by around 80 meters, 73 meters contributed by Antarctica and 6 meters contributed by the already-melting-and-likely-to-accelerate Greenland, according to the USGS. Historically ( in geological history), this is not unusual. I also like to point out that sea level was 130 meters lower in the last ice age, 18,000 years ago, and only neared the present levels 8,000 years ago, not so much earlier than the construction dates of early pyramids 4600 years ago. Thus a rise or fall in sea levels of tens or hundreds of meters should not be beyond our imaginations, but the poverty of imagination is one of the great resource scarcities of this time.
The inside of the Yamonote Line would still be above water after a sea level rise of 14 m. One could conceivably board a speedboat shuttle near Tsudanuma or Higashi-Funabashi to commute to a disembarkation point somewhere between the Akihabara and Ginza waterfronts. Tokyo Bay submerges "shitamachi" areas and extends far beyond Saitama City, halfway to Maebashi, Gunma.

NASA and Google should be credited for the data which Alex Tingle so elegantly programs and displays.

In order to view sea level rises above 14 meters as well as negative numbers, try

or try running the Java applets of Sebastien Merkel at
I have trouble understanding some of Merkel's figures: How could sea level have been 300 meters higher 95 million years ago and 600 meters higher 450,000,000 years ago -- unless the earth is losing water to space?

Check out Japan without the Kanto Plain, just the Kanto fishing grounds. Part of the Boso peninsula has survived as an island. This is an 80-meter sea-level rise, the result of ice-free polar regions. (By the way, I tweaked the gamma, contrast, and saturation to make the screen shot of the Java applet more vivid.)

One final alternative for similar explorations: The University of Arizona.

Free Linguistics Education

How Language Works: The Cognitive Science of Linguistics, Version 3.0 by Mike Gasser, is an online introductory linguistics text released under a GNU Free Documentation license. Gasser is Associate Professor of Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.
Via Neural Gourmet

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Happy Earth Day, March 20, and Spring Equinox, March 21, 00:07 UT. We in Japan are fortunate to have a national holiday for equinox. Be sure to display your Earth Flag proudly. No nationalist rags now, please.

Update 2007-05-10: Wow. I didn't know this (from Wikipedia):

Earth Day is a name used for two different observances, both held annually during spring in the northern hemisphere. These are intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the vernal (March) equinox; while a global observance in many countries is held each year on April 22.

World Values Survey

One of the results of the World Values Survey has been the creation of a map showing how the national attitudes are part of larger civilizational clusters of values. The Inglehart Values Map, also known as the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World, tends to show how the values of people in each nation are similar to countries with a shared history.

The World Values Surveys were designed to provide a comprehensive measurement of all major areas of human concern, from religion to politics to economic and social life and two dimensions dominate the picture: (1) Traditional/ Secular-rational and (2) Survival/Self-expression values. These two dimensions explain more than 70 percent of the cross-national variance in a factor analysis of ten indicators-and each of these dimensions is strongly correlated with scores of other important orientations.
The Traditional/Secular-rational values dimension reflects the contrast between societies in which religion is very important and those in which it is not. A wide range of other orientations are closely linked with this dimension. Societies near the traditional pole emphasize the importance of parent-child ties and deference to authority, along with absolute standards and traditional family values, and reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride, and a nationalistic outlook. Societies with secular-rational values have the opposite preferences on all of these topics.

The second major dimension of cross-cultural variation is linked with the transition from industrial society to post-industrial societies-which brings a polarization between Survival and Self-expression values. The unprecedented wealth that has accumulated in advanced societies during the past generation means that an increasing share of the population has grown up taking survival for granted. Thus, priorities have shifted from an overwhelming emphasis on economic and physical security toward an increasing emphasis on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life. Inglehart and Baker (2000) find evidence that orientations have shifted from Traditional toward Secular-rational values, in almost all industrial societies. But modernization, is not linear-when a society has completed industrialization and starts becoming a knowledge society, it moves in a new direction, from Survival values toward increasing emphasis on Self-expression values.

A central component of this emerging dimension involves the polarization between Materialist and Postmaterialist values, reflecting a cultural shift that is emerging among generations who have grown up taking survival for granted. Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, tolerance of diversity and rising demands for participation in decision making in economic and political life. These values also reflect mass polarization over tolerance of outgroups, including foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality. The shift from survival values to self-expression values also includes a shift in child-rearing values, from emphasis on hard work toward emphasis on imagination and tolerance as important values to teach a child. And it goes with a rising sense of subjective well-being that is conducive to an atmosphere of tolerance, trust and political moderation. Finally, societies that rank high on self-expression values also tend to rank high on interpersonal trust.

This produces a culture of trust and tolerance, in which people place a relatively high value on individual freedom and self-expression,
and have activist political orientations. These are precisely the attributes that the political culture literature defines as crucial to democracy.
I see some validation of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs on the horizontal axis. I was pleased to see that Welzel refers to "Maslowian Value Change" in a (downloadable) PowerPoint presentation at Istanbul in November 2006. [Technical note: Apple iWork's Keynote software chokes on the charts in the ppt, claiming they have too many data points, and substituting an image -- just a background gradient. NeoOffice is better but broke some arrows, substituting little empty boxes. (Sorry Steve Jobs, Al Gore.)] Basically, once you have secured oxygen, water, food, clothing, shelter, sex, physical and emotional needs, you can begin to turn your attention to higher-level needs.

Meanwhile, the vertical axis has some strong similarities to the public acceptance of evolution, as reported in Science magazine some time ago. (No access? Try Richard Dawkins!) Are people willing to draw truth from facts, or do they look to megachurch televangelists or ancient texts for truth? In other words, do people understand the scientific method, or is science a cold evil thing, and truth to be found in friends, family, the knowledge of people one loves and respects? (I am trying to be charitable to and have some empathetic understanding of the traditional pole.)

I was interested to see Japan charting at the top of the secular-rational scale, along with other Confucian-colored cultures. The traditional emphasis on learning, literature, and study created a basis for adoption of rational Enlightenment values, and, in China, Marxism. China was testing scholars to fill its bureaucracies while Europe burned witches and cats, long before the Protestant hordes achieved their enlightenment.

I hadn't heard much about the World Values Survey, except for the world happiness results, which were widely reported in the media.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Surreal Coconut

Surreal Coconut ( has some galleries and a collection of urban ruins photographs. The website creator, Eric W. Bragg, not to be confused with Tokyo Hypnotherapist Erik Bragg or actor Erik Bragg, doesn't consider the abandoned urban landscapes as art, but sees a surrealistic element in the experience of abandoned modern structures. I think perhaps as nature reclaims these structures the forms which were inorganic and non-fractal in their geometry begin to take on fractal patterns. For cultures such as Africa and Papua New Guinea, where fractal patterns exist in human structures on all scales, large and small, the beauty is there all the time. In our Western architectural, urban, and other structures, large and small, there is a shocking starkness derived from violating the fractal expectations of the natural nervous system. As the structures acquire sabi and wabi, their beauty festers and ripens. The ruins are beautiful for reflecting us as part of nature, artifact-creators. Maybe I am saying the same thing as the site creator, or maybe just not making sense.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Canned and packed into a box (LIBBY'S)

I don't want to be thought of as a right-wing nutjob or anything, and I wouldn't want to do anything that would help Mister Cheney, but isn't iLewis Scooter Libby going down for exactly the same crime that Clinton was impeached for and lightly scolded for? Perjury. Lying under oath to a grand jury. Giving false testimony.

Clinton made a mistake by lying under oath. After rejecting the two reasonable choices of either taking the Fifth or just 'fessin' up to the nonchalant American public who he apparently thought would not accept it, he chose perjury, thinking he was too smart to get caught. After that, he should have resigned gracefully and let Gore take the reigns. He could have beat Starr by either taking the 5th or just admitting it. The only way to fail was to lie himself into a corner, as Scooter did.

In the procedure to try him by a jury of the congress and senate, he got off because he was the elected president and was popular.

Replacing a president is not such a big deal outside of the elective dictatorships. We have had Prime Ministers die in Japan (Obuchi) and get relatively little attention, maybe 30 minutes on the news at most. It was about the attention that the death of Norman Mineta or Alberto Gonzales would get in the US. It's just like changing a light bulb. If Clinton burned out, screw in Al Gore.

It is like a litmus test to see who thought it was terrible that Clinton was being charged, that he should be immune as the supreme leader, above the law. People who were never political (like came out of the woodwork to defend Clinton just when he should have been replaced. Now we have this person a little lower down in an even more authoritarian administration. We need to back away from the precedent which was set earlier. I doubt that really would want to move on if Cheney or Bush are themselves conficted of lying and come before an impeachment hearing.

It really didn't take much imagination to see that this would happen, that in a few years, there would be a Republican in the same position. That's why we needed to be hard on Clinton for betraying his supporters, those who thought he would help our cause, not place the secrecy of the presidential blow job from the imperial concubine above the job of working for the people.

I don't trust anyone who has a different position on the two cases; they are all partisans and closet authoritarians, and they don't even know it. Unfortunately, that is most of the population. Only 5 Democrats and five Republicans crossed party lines in the 90s Clinton impeachment vote in the House, as I recall.

Everyone else goes straight along party lines. It is no different than a street gang, prison gang, or a gang of bullies on the playground. Completely unprincipled and inconsistent hypocritical behavior and double standards.

Letting Clinton off the hook enabled us to suffer under Cheney and his minions. When they pardon him, they will bring up the Clinton case as their precedent.

Just sayin'. Clinton is still my favorite recent president. Justice is hard to come by, and people weren't buying it from Ken Starr. Pat Fitzgerald has better public trust, I would think, and the Bushies have much less. The partisan blindness just freaks me out.

Anyway, all this Libby news reminds us of the canned goods department. You know canned goods: the kind of things you stock in your fallout shelter in case you need to live underground until the radiation subsides.

There is the Libby's Libby's Libby's of old.

WTFWTT? I guess the marketers thought people weren't remembering the name.(?)

100% Pure Pumpkin.

They have lost track of what kind of meat this is? What does "Potted Meat" mean?

You don't want to watch it being made.

Let's leave Senator Lieberman out of this!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ghana and Covert Operations

Ghana became an independent country fifty years ago on March 6, 1957. Democracy Now dedicated a segment of the show to Ghanaian independence. Much of the segment was an interview with Gamal Nkrumah, son of Ghana's independence leader and first president, Kwame Nkrumah.

AMY GOODMAN: Gamal Nkrumah, how do you know that the CIA was behind the coup in Ghana?

GAMAL NKRUMAH: Well, it is no secret that George Bush, the father, was behind that particular project to topple Kwame Nkrumah. And surely enough, he was rewarded after the coup by being made director of the CIA, and his political career took off after that day. And the papers and documents of the time that were embargoed are now -- anybody can have access to those papers in Washington in the Library of Congress and read. Any serious student of history who’s interested in this particular episode would find ample evidence in those documents in Washington. It's available for all today.
I was interested to know if there were, available on the internet, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act which implicated Papa Bush "41" in the CIA-assisted overthrow of Ghana's democracy, or if these documents had been "lost" or scrubbed during the rise to power of the monkey boy Bush.

I didn't find any direct evidence of it but some mostly undocumented mention of CIA involvement in sites such as wikipedia. This, however is an interesting article:

It explains Covert Operations from an academic, "value-free" point of view. I can't help but think it was written by a present or former spook, since it would be consistent with the psy ops it describes to control information in cyberspace, in this case by writing such an authoritative value-free article that it won't be easily supplanted a populist-leaning perspective and version of events.
Unlike many concepts in foreign affairs, the secret, sub rosa practice of covert operations has a formal definition officially approved by the president of the United States and embodied in a National Security Council (NSC) directive. According to NSC Directive 10/2, approved on 18 June 1948, a covert operation is an activity sponsored by the United States government against foreign states or groups that is so planned and executed that U.S. responsibility for it is not evident to an unauthorized person and that, if uncovered, the government can plausibly deny responsibility for the action. The operation could be unilateral, in support of a foreign state or group, and have a state or nonstate target—the key aspect is that the activity remain secret. Although not provided for in Directive 10/2, covert operations also can be conducted unilaterally or in conjunction with other friendly, or even adversary, intelligence services in pursuit of common objectives and goals.
It's a well-written definition including plausible deniability, and the key concept of in conjunction with friendly (UK) or even adversary (Iran-Contra etc.) intelligence service.
Beneath the formal definition, the kinds of activity involved in covert operations fall into a number of broad categories. Chief among these are political action, paramilitary activity, psychological warfare, and economic warfare. The evolution of technology suggests strongly that operational incentives in intelligence work will shortly add a new broad category of cyberaction or computer warfare to the traditional covert action menu. A large-scale covert operation usually has components that involve many or all of these categories.
OK, the four basic types. This is like attending CIA 101 at Langford. The bolds are mine, by the way. Go on.
In political action the object is to influence the internal situation in a foreign country by manipulating local political conditions. Intervention in an election is at the high end of the scale in political action, and might involve financial support for candidates, media advice, technical support for public relations, get-out-the-vote or political organizing efforts, legal expertise, advertising campaigns, assistance with poll-watching, and other means of direct action. … Mechanisms for creating and deepening opinions are of key importance in covert political action, which often therefore involves propaganda. Some of the earliest Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert operations were political actions to influence elections. …
The CIA poured money into conservative groups like the JiMinTou in Japan after the war, and I am sure there were dozens of similar cases worldwide where American money gave conservatives a huge electoral advantage. Media advice through polling and other techniques help Latin American rightists fine-tune their message to punch the right buttons to sound acceptable. Technical support could mean getting all the equipment you need, legal expertise brings James Baker to mind, advertising is the forte of Karl Rove. Hey, aren't all of these applied domestically, for the control of the American people? Naturally, if you practice this overseas for a few years, you will logically come to use it at home. A few paragraphs later:
In paramilitary operations the intelligence service (or military force) conducts activities similar to those of constituted military units. Again the target may be a nation or a nonstate actor, but the currency of influence will be force. An operation may involve unconventional warfare, such as commando raids, training, advice, equipment, or command of irregular forces; it may also include support of guerrilla activities, creation of secret networks to oppose an adversary even if a country falls, the active propagation of a coup d'état, collaboration with or reinforcement of local security forces (such as the creation of a security detachment to protect a foreign head of state), and other functions. A number of U.S. paramilitary initiatives during the Cold War period involved cooperation with third country intelligence or military services.
The toolbox is getting a heavier set of power tools with the paramilitary paragraph. Coup d'etat is such a successful and well-known instrument that has made America so popular in Iran, Latin America, and elsewhere. They even gave some thought to using it in Japan. Castro has been hard to get, but the Kennedys and civil rights leaders would have been sitting ducks. Irregular forces are death squads, contras, cult groups, neofascists, and terrorists. These people are also employed to run the CIA-affiliated private prisons worldwide in the basements of homes in wealthy neighborhoods! See this Washington Post article. Need I mention the support of Osama bin Laden? Failures as well as successes for the power-mad. Next, we get to the really good stuff, psy ops!
In psychological warfare the object is to mold opinion in the service of other activities, such as diplomacy, political action, paramilitary operations, or open warfare. Activities in psychological warfare run the gamut of the ways in which people absorb information. Traditionally, this has meant leaflets, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, and television, all of which have to be harnessed to convey the propaganda message appropriate to the operation. In the twenty-first century, techniques will expand to cover electronic communication by computer and the Internet as well, and intelligence services can create leaflets, finance books, journals, or television/radio programs. They may employ officers to work as journalists, recruit agents of influence, operate media outlets, plant certain stories or information in places it may come to public attention, or seek to deny and/or discredit information that is public knowledge. A distinction is made in psychological warfare regarding whether the target audience is permitted to be aware of the originator of the material they are receiving. In all such propaganda efforts, "black" operations denote those in which the audience is to be kept ignorant of the source; "white" efforts are those in which the originator openly acknowledges himself; and "gray" operations are those in which the source is partly but not fully acknowledged. In psychological warfare theory the attribution of a claim or piece of information included in a psychological warfare campaign has a bearing on the receptiveness of the audience, so that planners consider questions of black versus white carefully.
CNN would be black, Fox would be white or gray in this description. The New York Times and Washington Times, Judy Miller, Bob Woodward, Rush Limbaugh and others could fit the bill. This category comes very close to "political" action earlier in the description. Media control is key. The Chinese are more advanced in managing the internet in a more totalitarian manner. The article goes on and many paragraphs later gets into Europe.
One of the first major U.S. covert operations was intervention in Italian politics in 1947–1948 to prevent an electoral victory by the Italian communist party. This political action started a lengthy involvement in Italy, which continued through at least the 1970s; it also set the standard for CIA political action programs. A similar intervention in France was designed to weaken the French communist party, while actions on the propaganda/psychological warfare front included funding journals and newspapers (the CIA would have a controlling interest in the Rome Daily American, for example), the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the World Assembly of Youth, the "gray" broadcast station Radio Free Europe, and the "black" (at least initially) station Radio Liberty. Both the CIA and OPC began programs to furnish financial support to publications and books deemed suitable for advancing the anticommunist cause, and money was laundered through the Marshall Plan and the Ford Foundation among others. Much of this knowledge emerged in a spate of revelations in 1967, forcing President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint a special commission under deputy attorney general Nicolas de B. Katzenbach to investigate these political actions. One lesson that would be repeatedly relearned is that covert operations are fraught with political consequence for the initiator as well as the target.

Paramilitary operations got under way in collaboration with the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The Americans made a start in 1950–1952 by joining in an attempt to overthrow the communist government of Albania. The OPC, by this time, had lost its institutional independence and become part of the Directorate of Plans (DDP) within the CIA (in another 1952 reorganization the OPC and the directorate's other major unit, the espionage-centered Office of Special Operations, would be entirely merged) so that the actor on the American side of these operations was officially CIA. The CIA and SIS were allied in paramilitary operations into Russia (now Ukraine and Belarus), Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Much of the burden in those operations was carried by the SIS, but in Poland, where there would be another combined paramilitary-political action, the CIA carried the burden. Every one of these operations was known to the adversary and had been penetrated by means of the Russians placing spies of their own within the CIA–SIS apparatus. All the operations failed by 1953. (However, it should be noted that anticommunist Russians continued efforts to make some kind of inroad into the USSR until at least the late 1950s.) The CIA moved on to greener pastures. The lesson here would be that covert operations against the communist enemy—the mandated target when the CIA created its covert operations program—were too difficult to carry out.

In general, operations proved most successful where the CIA had freedom of movement and good access, which in this period meant western Europe. A particular concern was the creation of stay-behind networks that would function just like the World War II resistance had in the event the Russians overran western Europe in a future war. Such nets were successfully created in virtually every western European country from Italy to Norway, including neutrals such as Sweden and even nations under military occupation like Austria. In some countries the secret networks were tied in to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense planning. In all of them the conservative political bent of adherents to the groups gave the CIA certain political contacts. Secrecy lasted for several decades, until a rash of detailed revelations during the early 1980s led to controversy, with parliamentary inquiries in more than one European country and attendant embarrassment for the United States. The lesson here contradicts an aphorism often heard from intelligence officers, that successes remain secret while only failures become known to the public. More accurately, every covert operation above a certain size will ultimately become known.
Here they basically admit the embarrassing public knowledge that NATO worked at funding and arming neo-fascist paramilitaries, cult groups, right-wing terrorists, and other secret societies in Europe to serve as "stay-behind armies" in case the Warsaw Pact ever overran the area. Gladio is the main word that is oddly never mentioned.
It would be during the early 1950s that the CIA's Directorate of Plans achieved its classic covert victories. One came in Iran in 1953 in conjunction with SIS, where the Americans and British induced an unusual coup in which a constitutional monarch overthrew the government of his own country. Here the shah of Iran, relying upon popular support of the CIA, had mobilized and ousted a left-wing populist cabinet to create a virtual military dictatorship. In another victory in 1954, the CIA overthrew the elected Labor Party (socialist to communist ideologically) government of Guatemala, through a combination of psychological warfare, paramilitary action by a small force, and diplomatic pressure. Again the successor government was a military dictatorship.

The shah of Iran managed to hold on to power through the late 1970s by a combination of economic modernization and political repression, but the suppression of moderate political forces in his country forced opposition to align with a fundamentalist religious movement that ultimately toppled the shah in a 1979 revolution. At that time the U.S. embassy would be taken over, and American diplomats (and the officers of the CIA station) held hostage for 444 days, with the United States painted as the "Great Satan" to the Iranian public. In the years since the Iranian revolution, the United States was unable to restore a balanced relationship with Iran. Worse, the Iranians supported terrorist groups in the Middle East through the 1980s, which significantly harmed American interests and took lives, hostages, and made other depredations in a succession of incidents.

In Guatemala the military government installed by the covert operation replaced a democratic tradition and handed power to other military regimes or authoritarian oligarchies that maintained authority by high security. Beginning in 1968 the military inaugurated a war against the peasantry that endured into the late 1990s, leaving more than half the population of the country displaced internally and with a death toll in excess of 60,000.

A lesson here is that covert operations successes do not always lead to achievements to be proud of, possibly due to the moral, political, and empirical compromises necessary in pursuit of the short-term action. In addition, long-term effects can be more detrimental to U.S. interests than the improvements gained by the original success.
The overthrow of democracy in Iran and Guatemala are pointed to as classic successes? That, and the "lessons learned" at the end of each paragraph, which are always what the perpetrators themselves learned, makes this really appear to be text generated as some kind of required reading for US spooks. How can the overthrow of Iranian democracy resulting first in an oppressor, torture-based regime, and then in a theocratic terrorist-supporting government be the most classic example of the success of American covert intervention?

The article has sections dedicated to the evolution of covert activities under various presidents, congresses, and changes. For Johnson:
The Johnson administration ended the covert operation against Cuba and phased out CIA action in the Congo. However, it encouraged a coup in Ghana and brought major intelligence resources to bear in Bolivia against Che Guevara, a hero of the Cuban revolution. In Chile the Johnson administration carried out a political action during the 1964 elections to prevent any victory by Chilean socialists. In Asia, the Johnson-era CIA terminated the Tibetan paramilitary operation, attempted a political action in Indonesia (1965–1966), and carried out full-scale secret wars in Laos and South Vietnam. Johnson also continued CIA funding for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty's "gray" psychological warfare campaign.
That is the only mention of Ghana in that document. An interesting article nonetheless.
Another article sourced from with a less spook-y writing style was the one I found here:
During the Cold War, the primary target of the CIA was, of course, the Soviet Union. Despite the closed nature of Soviet society and the size and intensity of the KGB's counterintelligence operation, the CIA had a number of notable successes. The most significant was Colonel Oleg Penkovskiy, a Soviet military intelligence (GRU) officer. In 1961 and 1962, Penkovskiy passed great quantities of material to the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service, including information on Soviet strategic capabilities and nuclear targeting policy. In addition, he provided a copy of the official Soviet medium-range ballistic missile manual, which was of crucial importance at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.

In subsequent years, the CIA penetrated the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and General Staff, GRU, KGB, at least one military research facility, and probably several other Soviet organizations. Individuals providing data to the CIA included some stationed in the Soviet Union, some in Soviet consulates and embassies, and some assigned to the United Nations or other international organizations. CIA HUMINT operations successfully penetrated a number of other foreign governments during the last half of the twentieth century, including India, Israel, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Ghana.
No mention of Papa Bush being in on the (covert) action.

American tax dollars at work, making the world safe for theocracy. It's hard work.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


United MegaloMedia was formed by a merger of the Corporate News Network, American Brainwashing Corporation, Faux News, Big Brother Corporation, the Nationalist Brainwash Committee, and the Central Brainwashing Service. Independent network logos, channels, stations, and "identities" are maintained for marketing and anti-trust purposes. Traditional broadcast advertisements and product placement spots are available to corporate clients, while a more extensive menu of embedded services are available to authorized governmental agencies. Programming provided by the Limited Information and Entertainment Service (LIES).

Point of Contention (with the Deer-Leader)

Daily Yomiuri front page for Monday, March 7.
Top Headline:

Compiled from news services
BEIJING -- China's military spending, a point of contention with the United States, will jump 17.8% this year, a spokesman for the National People's Congress said Sunday.
China's military spending is an obsession for Japan and the US, especially the Cheneys, even though as the world's most populous country, China has a relatively small military budget and has not projected power beyond its neighbors Korea and Vietnam since the 1948 revolution. Consider that it has a population about double that of the US and Europe combined, and that it borders over a dozen countries which include nuclear-armed Russia, nuclear-armed India, nuclear-armed Pakistan, and possibly-nuclear-armed DPRK. Meanwhile, the US has the sacred right to arm itself to the teeth in order to defend itself against the ever-present risk of invasion from Canada and Mexico.

Aside from that, notice that the first sentence reports it from the US point of view, not as an objective fact. They literally cannot write one sentence with putting the US ruling elite's perspective in. This is very odd since it is a Japanese newspaper reporting on China, which should have nothing to do with the US.

Is the US news ever reported that way? Of course not. Have you read "Donald Rumsfeld, in a move applauded by the Chinese leadership, was replaced today."? That would be very odd reporting. But that is what we have every day.

This is compiled from AP and AFP-Jiji(!) wire services, so either they phrased it that way, or the writers at the Yomiuri are such good imperialist subjects that they spontaneously embedded their submissive fascist thinking into the story unconsciously or consciously.

The story has nothing whatsoever to do with the United States. They might as well interject about how the pope, Al Capone, or the Dear Leader feels about it. You would recognize it as propaganda if the newspaper said Stalin, the Central Committee, or Chairman Mao will be sure to disapprove of this news. Most people are so brainwashed that they will read that and not even consciously notice how they are being told what to think. People in the Soviet Union and China had to learn how to read between the lines of the official media, and we need to learn that the official media (the organs of state power) can be those which are privately operated for profit, too.

If the writers were to add how American neocons such as Mr Cheney or Rumsfeld had spoken out to warn of a danger of rising Chinese militarism --which we have no evidence of-- that should be several paragraphs further down in the article.


Al Gore's Oscar-award winning film An Inconvenient Truth has been released on DVD, but has not been released in Japan as a film or dvd, at least to my knowledge. had only a few US editions of the dvd. I asked a friend to bring me a copy from the US and created a locally viewable region-free version for personal archival research promotional purposes only. Disclaimer: decoding even a single bit or letter from a dvd before the media conglomerates decide it has been "released" in your dvd zone may result in severe penalties and may not technically be "legal" even if you follow the precaution of doing so in international airspace, Antarctica, or from outside Earth orbit.

It is a good film, mixing autobiographical segments of Al Gore's life into documentary segments about global warming, while subtly promoting the Apple PowerBook and Keynote presentation software. The Al Gore parts do support the main points of the movie, but it would be better if there were an alternate version on the dvd which cut out Al Gore's boyhood reminiscences so it could be shown in classrooms as a straight-up educational documentary. There is a little too much of Al Gore in it now to be able to do that without controversy in, say, a Kansas science classroom. I like (shadow) President Gore, and support his re-election with a Supreme-Court-coup-resistant super-majority of voters next time, but not everyone is as crazy about the Al Gore Rhythm as I am.

There was something vaguely familiar about the cover art. Finally I realized that it was a blatantly subliminal rip-off of the 1976 Pink Floyd album cover for ANIMALS, designed by Hipgnosis, which caused nightmares for British air traffic controllers and vegans. Shocking, isn't it?

I think the dvd cover could be improved by adding the flying pig, for the "hip" or "hep cat" effect among market demographic segments old enough to remember the late 1970s, vinyl, and 8-track. Naturally, the package should be square, not rectangular. Either round or square. No triangles or rectangles, please. This is a dvd after all. Finally, get all that annoying text and blather about how it doesn't matter if you are a replicant or a demigogue liberite conversative mindchange nanoparticle blah blah blah out of there. Do we have to assume people don't know what the product is unless it is written there? They didn't need letters for Animals in 1976; why should we need them now? Actually, since most people no longer read, words just get in the way, and mess up the image. Plus you wouldn't have to localize the language for all the international releases, if there ever are any.

This much-improved prototype cover goes out as a suggested alternate version.

I must leave to soundsmiths geekier than I the more technically challenging task of remixing the movie soundtrack so as to incorporate the entire album of Pink Floyd's Animals.

NATO - Forty thousand more years!

Keepin' it real since the late Pleistocene epoch.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Corporation soundtrack & more free music

Even before downloading the movie, I grabbed the official soundtrack for The Corporation, composed by Leonard J. Paul. It is available from two sites, Kikapu or the Internet Archive. The liner notes are a great insight into the composer's creative process, and the audio is released with cover art.

While at the Internet Archive, I visited the Live Music Archive and looked up a few concerts. I found that the collection had grown. I downloaded some recent shows by 311, Cowboy Junkies, Rusted Root, Death Cab for Cutie, String Cheese Incident, Dear Leader, and Blues Traveler. I think it is the first time to add those last three artists to my collection. I just chose Dear Leader from their name and because they had a fair number of concerts available. They are not bad, a good discovery. Found out more at Similar to The Corporation, downloading a zipped folder of the entire show encoded as variable bit rate mp3s seemed like the best file choice to me. Most of the ID3 tags were in order most of the time, except year and genre. Too bad there are no jpegs of the live shows bundled in there.

I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that the Live Music Archive isn't terribly popular. That could be good if the artists worry less about the massive availability of recorded shows diminishing demand for live performance tickets. I don't think they approach it that way, more as promotion for the concert. Note that many of the bands such as SCI, RR, and CJ are known for doing good live shows. You do need to have your lo-fi toleration filter turned up to get into these; the audio is as bad as a real life show, only without the visuals.

The Corporation + Manufacturing Consent

A friend informed me that the 1992 Canadian documentary, Manufacturing Consent, about Noam Chomsky, has been released in Japan and is being shown in Shibuya (#25). He also told me that the wikipedia page of Chomsky's political side is also getting built up and may be a good starting point for people who haven't read his writing. It has links to the most useful Chomsky sites.

Unable or unwilling to attend a screening, (and since maybe it is a movie that is better on DVD anyway,) I found that another Canadian documentary, The Corporation, by the same director and producer, Mark Ackbar, had been released by the filmmaker on bittorrent for free download (mininova, for example). I used a considerable amount of bandwidth this weekend slowly pulling it down. (By the way, NeoOffice, OpenOffice, and Ubuntu 6.10 are other free wares you could find and legally download from bittorrent.) The legal download includes an interview with author Joel Bakan by Sam Seder and co-host Janeane Garofalo of The Majority Report on AirAmerica Radio. This avi file is videoed rather amateurly (in my amateur opinion) and adds another 400 MB to the two 700 MB files which make up the movie. It is not so bad to have the extra as video, even though it could have been audio, but it should have just been compressed to something like 100 MB. It may be nice if you are a fan of the show and want to see them doing the radio interview, and have broadband, but it probably added another 10 hours to my download time, and I could hear the iLamp's fan going full power all day and night.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

US-backed post-war fascism on 3 continents

Last week Dick Cheney refused to meet with Japanese Defense Minister Kyuma. Japan has sent troops to Iraq (they finished their mission successfully) and brought them home, but Kyuma was just not Right enough for Cheney.

That information took on a different meaning this week with the news that the US CIA considered a coup de etat against pro-American Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1952. It seems he just wasn't right enough for the anti-communists who the US was strengthening as cold war fodder.

The Associated Press

Declassified documents reveal that Japanese ultranationalists with ties to U.S. military intelligence plotted to overthrow the Japanese government and assassinate the prime minister in 1952.

The scheme -- which was abandoned -- was concocted by militarists and suspected war criminals who had worked for U.S. Occupation authorities after World War II, according to CIA records reviewed by AP. The plotters wanted a rightwing government that would rearm Japan.

The CIA files, declassified in 2005 and publicized by the U.S. National Archives in January, detail a plot to oust the pro-U.S. prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida, and install a more hawkish government led by Ichiro Hatoyama.

The CIA, in papers released under an act of Congress to declassify documents related to Japanese war crimes, said the plotters were led by Takushiro Hattori, a former private secretary to Gen. Hideki Tojo, the wartime prime minister hanged for war crimes in 1948.

Two CIA documents said the plot reportedly had the support of 500,000 people in Japan, and that the group planned to use a contact who controlled a faction inside the National Safety Agency -- a precursor to the Defense Ministry -- to help launch the coup.

The files reviewed by the AP strongly suggest the Americans were unaware of the plot until after it had been dropped. The plot was developed after the Occupation ended in April 1952, and the CIA files say American financial support for Hattori's group had dried up by then.

Still, the documentary evidence of the plot illustrates the violent potential of the rightwing, anticommunist cabal that had worked under the Occupation authority's G-2 intelligence wing in the early days of the Cold War in the late 1940s and early 50s. The CIA operated separately from G-2.

"Since the beginning of July 1952, plans for a coup d'etat have been initiated among a group of ex-purgees, including former military officers. The leader of the group is ex-Col. Hattori Takushiro," said an Oct. 31, 1952, report, which claimed, "this report is the first to mention a definite rightist plan involving violence.

"The original plan of the group was to engineer a coup d'etat, including the assassination of Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru on account of his hostile attitude toward depurgees and nationalists," the CIA document said.

According to the document, Hattori colleague Masanobu Tsuji talked the group out of the coup, urging it to focus instead on countering the Socialist Party. The files say the group then decided it would not stage a coup as long as Yoshida's conservative Liberal Party remained in power.

However, the group still considered violence an option, the files say.

"The group is considering the possibility of some minor assassination attempt in lieu of a coup d'etat," the Oct. 31, 1952, document said.

Hattori and others had worked under the aegis of Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, the anticommunist G-2 chief. During the Occupation, Willoughby was considered the second-most powerful American after his boss, Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Some group members were considered choice war crimes trial targets after the war.

Tsuji had been wanted for involvement in the Bataan Death March of 1942, in which thousands of Americans and Filipinos perished. Another group associate was Yoshio Kodama, a war profiteer and mob boss who was deeply involved in procuring materials -- often illegally -- for the Japanese military machine.

Neither of them was prosecuted for war crimes.

The Japanese militarists joined U.S.-supported missions to spy on communists in Japan, infiltrate agents into Soviet and North Korean territory, and recruit Japanese mercenaries to protect Taiwan from communist forces in mainland China, declassified documents show.

The CIA files, however, say the operations were riddled with intelligence leaks, hobbled by a lack of competent agents, and deeply compromised by rivalries among the rightists themselves. The agents' priorities, the documents say, were profits and an eventual resurgence of a militarist Japan.

The assassination plot detailed in the CIA files came at a difficult time for Hattori's group.

The departure of Willoughby from Japan in 1951 as the Occupation wound down deprived the rightists of their leading American patron and paymaster. Meanwhile, Yoshida was openly hostile to Hattori's push for rearmament.

"The government attitude toward the Hattori group has been increasingly antagonistic, and the group has lost influence since the departure of Gen. Willoughby," said a CIA document dated April 18, 1952.

Yoshida was pushed out of office peacefully in 1954 and replaced by Hatoyama, but the ultrarightist dream of resurrecting a militarist Japan never happened. The 1947 Constitution bars Japan from warfare and has never been amended.

Find the story at:

This could have caused Japan to have a completely different history of coups, renewed militarism, multiple constitutions. I imagine it developing more like the post-war Philippines or South Korea. By now it would probably be a nuclear-armed anti-American economic basket-case. But who knows.

We almost had a coup in the United States during the FDR administration, courtesy of admirers and financers of Hitler such as Prescott Bush (Monkey Boy King's Grandfather).

And in the course of researching something else, I found out about NATO "stay-behind" operations such as Operation Gladio, which funded a secret army of far-right wing parties, neofascist terrorists, paramilitaries, and cult groups in Europe.

I recall the Nixon-era saying, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me." It's a depressing thought, but I wonder if I'm really not paranoid enough to imagine all of the perverse crap going on behind the scenes.