Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Arundhati Roy speaks to truth to power while others stay silent

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush speaking in India. Arundhati Roy, your response?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, look, let's not forget that this whole call to the free market started in the late 19th century in India. You know, that was what colonialism was all about. They kept using the words "free market." And we know how free the free market is. Today, India has -- I mean, after 15 years of economic liberalization, we have more than half of the world's malnutritioned children. We have an economy where the differences between the rich and the poor, which have always been huge, has increased enormously. We have a feudal society whose feudalism has just been reinforced by all of this.
And, you know, it's amazing. Just in the wake of Bush's visit, you can't imagine what's happening, say, in a city like Delhi. You can't imagine the open aggression of institutions of our democracy. It's really like courts, for instance, who are an old enemy of mine, are rolling up their sleeves and coming after us. You have in Delhi, for example -- I have just come from being on the streets for six weeks, where all kinds of protest are taking place. But you have a city that's been just -- it's just turned into a city of bulldozers and policemen. Overnight, notices go up saying tomorrow or day after tomorrow you're going to be evicted from here. The Supreme Court judges have come out saying things like, "If the poor can't afford to live in the city, why do they come here?"
And basically, behind it all, there are two facades. One is that in 2008, Delhi is going to host the Commonwealth Games. For this, hundreds of thousands of people are being driven out of the city. But the real agenda came in the wake of Bush's visit, which is that the city is being prepared for foreign direct investment in retail, which means Wal-Mart and Kmart and all these people are going to come in, which means that this city of millions of pavement dwellers, hawkers, fruit sellers, people who have -- it's a city that's grown up over centuries and centuries. It's just being cleaned out under the guise of sort of legal action. And at the same time, people from villages are being driven out of their villages, because of the corporatization of agriculture, because of these big development projects.
So you have an institution like -- you know, I mean, how do you subvert democracy? We have a parliament, sure. We have elections, sure. But we have a supreme court now that micromanages our lives. It takes every decision: What should be in history books? Should this lamb be cured? Should this road be widened? What gas should we use? Every single decision is now taken by a court. You can't criticize the court. If you do, you will go to jail, like I did. So, you have judges who are -- you have to read those judgments to believe it, you know? Public interest litigation has become a weapon that judges use against us.
So, for example, a former chief justice of India, he gave a decision allowing the Narmada Dam to be built, where 400,000 people will be displaced. The same judge gave a judgment saying slum dwellers are pickpockets of urban land. So you displace people from the villages; they come into the cities; you call them pickpockets. He gave a judgment shutting down all kinds of informal industry in Delhi. Than he gave a judgment asking for all India's rivers to be linked, which is a Stalinist scheme beyond imagination, where millions of people will be displaced. And when he retired, he joined Coca-Cola. You know, it's incredible.

That's Arundhati Roy speaking with Amy Goodman on today's Democracy Now! ("Arundhati Roy on India, Iraq, U.S. Empire and Dissent"). I hope you already caught it but if you missed it, you can use the link and read it or listen to it or watch it. (I listen to Democracy Now! each day.) And if that part above doesn't make you want to listen, I don't know what will. How often do you get to hear anyone tell the truth? She tried to with Charlie Rose. Amy Goodman brought that up and Arundhati Roy said they taped the show, he just never broadcast it. I don't care for Charlie Rose. He's just too prissy and in love with his own voice. I hate it when he lands on a word and draws it out or when he plays with that coffee mug. When Bully Boy ordered the invasion of Iraq, I thought I should try to watch some news and I turned to PBS. I lasted about three weeks. If I thought I was going to see the cast of Sesame Street or Reading Rainbow, I lost that illusion quickly as one White face after another danced across the screen.

It wasn't worth it to me to have the visuals. So I went back to using the radio as my primary source of news. It's not like I got any strong visuals anyway, just a lot of close ups of White people. If there's footage on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman will usually note it and if she does, I'll usually go to the website later in the day and watch it. Otherwise, I'm a grown adult and I can usually picture something in my head.

I prefer to listen. I know some people love to watch Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez -- like Rebecca and Mike prefer to watch. C.I. prefers to listen, thinking you focus more. I think I agree with that. If I'm watching something, my mind's going to drift off. I'll focus on someone's face or the set or something and then think, "Wait, what did they just say?"

But however you prefer, you can do it with Democracy Now! -- you can watch it online or listen online or read it online. (And they do headlines each day in English and in Spanish.) And if you're lucky, you can listen or watch with your radio or TV. I bet you already know where but if you don't, click here and it will give you options to find out how to watch or listen.

If you need a laugh today, and who doesn't?, check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CONDI RICE FINALLY GETS IT!" -- Condi faces that she's not loved.

C.I. noted this from a PDF file ("AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens, 31 December 2005") and if I had time, I'd note something else -- but I know why C.I. put it up and I'm putting it up too (for the same reason):

To mollify critics, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spokesmen have repeatedly asserted that they are only conducting "research" using "artificial synthetic date" or information from "normal DoD intelligence channels" and hence there are "no U.S. citizen privacy implications" (Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General report on TIA, December 12, 2003). They also changed the name of the program to "Terrorism Information Awareness" to make it more politically palatable. But feeling the heat, Congress made a big show of allegedly cutting off funding for TIA in late 2003, and the political fallout resulted in Admiral Poindexter's abrupt resignation last August. However, the fine print reveals that Congress eliminated funding only for "the majority of the TIA components," allowing several "components" to continue (DoD, ibid). The essential hardware elements of a TIA-type spy program are being surreptitiously slipped into "real world" telecommunications offices.
In San Francisco the "secret room" is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street, the site of a large SBC phone building, three floors of which are occupied by AT&T. High speed fiber optic circuits come in on the 8th floor and run down to the 7th floor where they connect to routers for AT&T's WorldNet service, part of the latter's vital "Common Backbone." In order to snoop on these circuits, a special cabinet was installed and cabled to the "secret room" on the 6th floor to monitor the infomration going through the circuits. (The location code of the cabinet is 070177.04 which denotes the 7th floor, aisle 177 and bay 04.) The "secret room" itself is roughly 24-by-48 feet, containing perhaps a dozen cabinets including such equipment as Sun servers and two Juniper routers, plus an industrial-size air conditioner.
The normal workforce of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the "secret room," which has a special comination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room. In practice this has meant that only one management-level technician works in there. Ironically, the one who set up the room was laid off in late 2003 in one of the company's endless "downsizings," but he was quickly replace by another.
Plans for the "secret room" were fully drawn up by December 2002, curiously only four months after DARPA started awarding contracts for TIA.

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