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Why Australia's presence in Afghanistan is untenable   


An Australian lawyer criticises Australia's participation in war in Afghanistan. Australia's participation in the Afghan war has helped bring world Opium production to record levels, with Afghanistan leading the way. The justification for this war was given in 2001, and remains the justification for the war, which is set to become Australia's longest war, nearly 10 years later. This justification has never been scrutinised by Australia's mainstream newsmedia nor what passes for Australia's 'alternative' or 'far left' media. In this article, that case for war is comprehensively examined.

By James O'Neill*

See also: My submission to the Human Rights Consultation on National Security of 7  Sep 09 by James Sinnamon. Submission is on an 8.2K pdf file and is linked to from the National Security and Terrorism Public Submissions page.

Contents: Introduction, A Brief History, Carter and Brzezinski, Oil and Gas, The Legality of the Afghanistan War, (What is the Real Reason?: 1. Oil and Gas, 2. Geopolitical Ambitions, 3. Drugs), Conclusion, Footnotes.

Article originally published as PDF (180K) on


On 1 December 2009 US president Barack Obama announced in a speech to cadets at the West Point Military Academy that he was authorizing the sending of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. In justifying the "surge" in troops, Obama said, inter alia1

1. "I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11.

2. It is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3000 people."

Speaking from Washington on 1 December 2009 the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke in support of the US President's plans. Australia, he said, "takes its alliance with the US very seriously. That's why we have been with America for a long time in Afghanistan and why we will be with America for the long haul."2

Rudd was reflecting the bi-partisan approach adopted by the Labour party to the policies first advanced by the Liberal-National coalition. In a speech to the Australian Senate on 28 October 2009 Senator Russell Trood referred to the formidable military, political and economic challenges facing Afghanistan. They demand, he said, "a long-term commitment from all who have a strategic interest in the outcome, and this certainly includes Australia." That is the reason, he said, "the Opposition strongly supports the Rudd government's commitment in Afghanistan."3

Nowhere in the reported remarks of the three men is there any questioning of the ostensible reasons for the attack and invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. None seemed troubled by any potential issues such as the legality of the invasion. In common with the bulk of the media's treatment of the issue, all assumed that the history of the West's involvement with Afghanistan commenced on 11 September 2001 and that no US polices that preceded that date had any relevance to the attack and subsequent invasion and occupation. That occupation is now well into its ninth year representing, in Australia's case, nearly half as long again as its involvement in World War 2 and similar to its length of involvement in two other American led tragedies, Iraq and Vietnam.4

This article will suggest that the official rationale for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is false. It involves a rewriting and/or ignoring of history on the part of the participants. It shows the same cavalier disregard for international law that was apparent in Iraq. It accepts without question the validity of the two premises argued by Obama in the above quote. Perhaps most disturbingly it persistently fails to address the reality of the present policies and their likely true intention.

A Brief History.5

The archaeological record shows that humans have occupied the area currently known as Afghanistan for more than 100,000 years. Strategically located at the crossroads of some of the ancient world's greatest civilizations Afghanistan was crisscrossed by the Silk Road. This network of routes carried silk and spices from China to the west, and wool and gold to the east.

The divergent tribes of Afghanistan were united in the 18th century under Ahmed Shah Durrani who had been chosen by a tribal jirgah (meeting of tribal leaders). At the peak of Durrani's power Afghanistan influence ruled from Mashad in northeastern Iran to Kashmir and Delhi in India in the southwest, and in the north from the Amu Darya River bordering Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, to the Arabian Sea in the south.

After Durrani's death in 1772 the Afghan empire began to crumble. The biggest threat to Afghani integrity was the British Empire, intent on expanding northwards from India. One of the major driving forces in this imperial expansion was the opium trade, then as today. The British assumed a monopoly on control of opium exports to China in 1773. By 1818 Britain's reach included all of Western India's opium growing region.6

The competing interests of Russia to the north, Iran to the west, and the British from the south inevitably lead to the destabilization of Afghan society. The reluctance of the Afghans to accede to Britain's imperial demands lead to the first British invasion of 1839. That invasion ended in ignominious defeat for the British. One important consequence however, was to drive the Afghans into an alliance with Russia. This laid the foundation for what was later to be labeled "the Great Game".7

In the decades following the first Anglo-Afghan war the British steadily expanded their empire between the Indus and the Hindu Kush, including Sind, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier. These were all regions that had formerly been ruled by Ahmed Shah Durrani.

In 1893 the British established what was then the boundary between Afghanistan and India (later Pakistan) by the drawing of what is known as the Durrand Line named after a British official of the time. The Durrand line was drawn in the interests of British colonial requirements with scant regard for local sensibilities. It partitioned land that had from the earliest times been considered part of Afghanistan. It was bitterly contested at the time and remains so to this day. It is an outstanding example of colonial hubris and stupidity.

One of the main results of this partition was to separate people, primarily Pashtuns, who shared common linguistic, cultural and family ties. Afghanistan was, and still is, a highly tribal society where value is placed on familial ties at the expense of the more ethereal concept of the modern nation state. The Pashtuns in the south essentially failed to acknowledge the national border imposed by the British, preferring to move back and forward across that line as work and family loyalties dictated.

The King was a nominal head binding at least some of these disparate loyalties, but he in turn exacerbated tribal tensions, particularly between the more urban, educated and more progressive Tajiks to the north, and the rural, uneducated and more reactionary Pashtuns to the south.

In 1973 these internal tensions boiled to the point where the King was deposed. The government that replaced him however, was autocratic and corrupt. It lacked popular support. In 1978, following massive demonstrations, that government was forced out, with the intervention of the army on the side of the protesters proving decisive.

The military invited Noor Mohammed Tariki, the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (the PDP), a left wing progressively oriented party, to form a government. Tariki was a novelist and poet. His government instituted a series of major social changes. Labour unions were legalized, a minimum wage was established, as was a progressive income tax. It initiated a mass literacy campaign, importantly, extending to women and girls.8

The Tariki government also moved to eradicate poppy cultivation. Up to that time Afghanistan had been producing more than70 percent of the world's heroin supply. Such a series of reforms, radical by Afghan standards, inevitably set up counter forces within the country. It was the reaction of the western powers in general and the United States in particular that had the greatest influence, and it is to that aspect that I now turn.

Carter and Brzezinski

Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States in November 1976. An important element of his campaign was the promise to reduce military expenditure. Inevitably, as so often before in US history, such a promise invoked opposition from the powerful non-elected groups who largely control the direction of military and economic policy. The military and economic forces are closely allied, especially in foreign countries, where the role of the US military is overwhelmingly to secure the economic interests of the large industrial corporations, especially in the energy sector.9

Eisenhower had famously warned against the growing power of what he termed the "military-industrial complex" in his farewell speech in January 2001. His successor John F Kennedy was the first (but not the last) President to incur the wrath of this powerful cabal. Kennedy's speech to the America University in June 1963 in which he spoke of " the necessary rational end of rational men" was a remarkable speech, the radical content of which is the probable reason it is rarely quoted today. Kennedy went on to announce high-level discussions with the USSR and the UK on a comprehensive test ban treaty and the cessation of atmospheric nuclear tests. "We must labor on" he said, "not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace."10

That speech, together with his decision to commence the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, undoubtedly set in train the events culminating in his assassination in November of the same year.11

As is well known, among the first acts of Lyndon Johnson as Kennedy's successor on his accession to the presidency was the reversal of many of Kennedy's policies that reflected Kennedy's turning toward peace. The military industrial complex and the associated drug trade prospered mightily during the Johnson and Nixon years.12 Those powerful forces therefore were unlikely to accept at face value Carter's intentions to scale back on military expenditure.

Beginning during the Ford presidency (1974-76) a powerful group including Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz planned to subvert official US policy and to put in place policies of both confrontation with the USSR and China, and also to expand America's military and economic hegemony around the world, especially those areas of the world with major energy resources.13

For Brzezinski, Carter's National Security adviser and a sympathizer of the deep state alternatives led by Cheney et al, the unfolding turmoil in Afghanistan provided a golden opportunity to strike at Russia. To Brzezinski, the destruction of the Soviet Union was a dream and a passion.

To achieve this dream, Brzezinski considered it necessary to draw the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, to give it its "own Vietnam". Brzezinski was able to persuade Carter to sign a Presidential Finding that "would bring a military intervention by the Soviets" even though the US could not be seen as promoting such an outcome.14

The policies directed against the Soviet Union took a number of forms. When Carter approved active subversion against the USSR, particularly in its Muslim minority states on the Afghan border, he was setting in train policies that were to have disastrous consequences.

Working closely with the military run Pakistan government of president Zia al Haq the US began training and financing of Islamic fundamentalists. By siding with the Islamic fundamentalists in opposition to the PDA government the US knew that it would destabilize the Tariki government in Afghanistan and alarm the USSR sufficiently that it would regard the need for intervention as imperative, not only to ensure a stable neighbour on its southern boundary, but also to suppress unrest in its own Muslim republics.15

Tariki was overthrown in September 1979. He was then murdered by his successor Hafizulla Amin who many believe to have been recruited by the CIA during his years as a student in the US.16 Amin halted Tariki's reforms, which was hardly surprising given that the feudal landowners, reactionary tribal chieftains, the fundamentalist mullahs, and the drug warlords, all of whom had felt threatened by the Tariki reforms, supported him. Amin was himself in turn overthrown by survivors of the PDP plus elements of the military.

In late 1979 the Afghan government asked the Soviet Union for a contingent of troops, to assist it to ward off the large-scale attacks of Islamic fundamentalists. It took several requests before the Soviet government agreed.17 Brzezinski publicly admitted, months before the Russian troops entered Afghanistan, that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to the Islamic mujihideen to subvert the Tariki government.18

The Soviet intervention was a godsend to the Americans. It provided a huge propaganda coup enabling them to portray the Russians as imperialists, embarking on the next stage of their interventionist program that would eventually lead to the takeover of the Middle East oil fields. Such a view was widely disseminated uncritically by the western media.

From Brzezinski's point of view, it was a golden opportunity to give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam. In his book, The Grand Chessboard19 he openly boasted of both the aims and its claimed success. When asked in 1998 by Le Nouvel Observateur about the pursuit of policies that would knowingly increased the probability of a Soviet intervention he said that "a few irate Muslims" was a price worth paying for the destruction of the Soviet Union.20

As a result of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan the CIA stepped up its program of subversion. Scott refers to the policy as not only the largest covert operation in history, but also one of the worst conceived. He identified five core elements of the policy developed and implemented under the direction of CIA Director William Casey and US Vice-President G.H.W. Bush.21

(1) The decision to favour Islamic fundamentalists rather than Sufi nationalists.

(2) To sponsor an Arab-Afghan foreign legion that from the outset hated the US almost as much as the USSR they were being paid to dislodge.

(3) To use narcotics as a means to weaken the Soviet army.22

(4) To help expand the resistance campaign into an international jihadi movement to attack the Soviet Union itself.

(5) To continue supplying the Islamists after the Soviet withdrawal, allowing them to make war on Afghan moderates.

These policies included the formulation of the organization known as al Qaeda. Originally the term translated as "the data base". It contained the names of Islamists recruited for the cause of waging jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet army in Afghanistan. That limited role rapidly evolved however, with al Qaeda assets being used by the Americans not only as proxies in Afghanistan, but for forays into the USSR and China to foment unrest among the Muslim minorities in those countries.23

Between 1986 and 1992 the CIA, MI6 and the British SAS trained more than 100,000 Islamic militants in Pakistan camps. The leaders, including Osama bin Laden, were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. The program was known as Operation Cyclone. The program continued long after the Soviet withdrawal in February 1989, with CIA/MI6 trained units being utilized in Libya, Kosovo, Chechnya and elsewhere.24

The Soviet withdrawal was followed by an intense struggle by different factions of the mujihideen for control. Most of the factions were less interested in control of the government, which lasted a further three years, than in re-establishing the heroin trade. Within two years of the Soviet withdrawal the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's biggest producer of heroin.

The factional fighting and brutality of the warlords led to the rise of the Taliban, and even more extremist form of Sunni Islam. They were largely funded by Saudi money, the Pakistan ISI and the CIA, the same trio of forces that had financed the mujihideen during the Soviet occupation.

By 1985 the Taliban had succeeded in taking over the country. Drawing its main support from the illiterate and impoverished Pashtun tribes to the south that had been most opposed to the PDA's attempts at reform, the Taliban imposed a reign that was unsurpassed in its brutality, not least in its treatment of women.26

The Taliban government was successful however in eliminating the drug trade. By 2000 they had eradicated the cultivation of the poppy in areas under their control. The United Nations Drug Control Program lauded it as perhaps the most successful drug eradication program it had witnessed.27 Opium cultivation and drug production continued only in those areas not under Taliban control, mainly the northern regions where there were close ties between the CIA and major drug lords such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Shah Massoud.28

Oil and Gas

Historically, the US had shown little interest in Afghanistan.29 The question then is, what caused a change in perspective sufficient to lead to the investment of lives and treasure in what for Americans was a remote and scarcely understood nation?

It was argued above that Brzezinski in the 1970s saw Afghanistan as a vehicle for luring the Soviet Union into a trap that he hoped would lead to its disintegration. But that is insufficient to an understanding of US policy then and subsequently. The other factors that have to be taken into account are oil and gas reserves, the importance of the drug trade, and the geographical position of Afghanistan viz a viz the Soviet Union and China.30

In the 1980s vast oil and gas reserves were discovered in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, at that time still part of the Soviet Union. As early as 1991 the Pentagon had plans for a military presence in Central Asia.31 The location of US military bases, as well as much of US military interventions abroad, can best be understood in the context of the location of scarce and valuable resources such as oil and gas. The disintegration of the Soviet Union made plans for Central Asia more feasible.

US oil companies rapidly acquired the rights to 75 percent of the Kazakh and Turkmen reserves.32 The problem was how to transport the oil and gas from this landlocked region to a safe port from where it could be transported to the US and European markets.

Routes via China, Iran or Russia were ruled out for strategic reasons. The alternative, favoured by Unocal, a US based oil company, was Afghanistan. Two Unocal executives were Condoleeza Rice, later National Security adviser and Secretary of State under George Bush Jnr, and Hamid Kharzai, later to be installed by the Americans as President of Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding its appalling human rights record the US government had no trouble in dealing with the Taliban government. In fact, up until mid 2001 the US government had paid the wages of the members of the Taliban government.33 In July of that year there were negotiations with the Taliban government over the terms of the pipeline through Afghanistan from the Caspian basin to an oil refinery on the Pakistan coast operated by Enron. The Taliban refused to accept the American's demands. According to reports of that meeting the Americans delivered a blunt ultimatum: the Afghans could have either a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs.34

Shortly after the Taliban refusal of American terms President Bush signed a directive ordering the bombing of Afghanistan.35 Plans for this operation had been in place for more than a year. All that was needed was a means by which the invasion could be justified.

On 11 September 2001 that justification duly arrived. Within hours of the first plane striking the north tower of the World Trade Centre the FBI had named the nineteen alleged hijackers.36 It was said by the US government to have been an al Qaeda operation masterminded by Osama bin Laden from his hideout in Afghanistan where he was being "sheltered" by the Taliban government. Completely absent from US government statements at the time was the central role bin Laden had played on behalf of the CIA as a mujihideen leader trained in the US and financed in part by American money.37

The US demanded that bin Laden be handed over to them. The response of the Afghan government was immediate. If the Americans would provide proof of bin Laden's involvement then they would hand him over to an independent tribunal for trial.38

This was not how the US government or the US media portrayed it. Instead, the Afghan government's response was described as a "refusal". The following month an attack was launched on Afghanistan by the US and its allies. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State promised before the attack was launched that he would produce a White paper demonstrating proof of al Qaeda complicity in the attacks of 11 September.39 The following day he was forced to make a humiliating withdrawal of that promise. To this day no such proof has ever been offered.

The American people were never told of the United States' long standing interference in Afghanistan that preceded the Soviet intervention. They have never been told that bin Laden was a CIA asset, trained in the United States, nor his important role on behalf of American interests in the 1979-89 period. Rather than proof of his involvement in the attacks of 11 September 2001 the public in most western countries, including Australia, has been subject to an argument of iteration and repetition.40

The tone for Australia was set by the then Prime Minister John Howard on 25 October 2001. In addressing the Australian Defence Association on why Australia was joining the coalition of countries attacking Afghanistan he said:

"No one now doubts that the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks and that the Taliban has allowed Afghanistan to become a safe haven for international terrorism."41

Mr Howard had a similarly unshakeable belief in Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction when he told the Australian parliament why Australia was joining that coalition of the willing led by the Americans to attack yet another country.42

Of course, to claim that "no one now doubts" al Qaeda culpability in the attacks in general, and the involvement of the Taliban government and bin Laden in particular was not true in October 2001 when he made that speech. It is even less true now. But even if it were true, was the attack justified in international law?

The Legality of the Afghanistan War.

Australian troops have now been involved in the war in Afghanistan for more than eight years. At the time the Australian government took the decision to join the American attack and in all the years since there has never been a public debate in Australia about the legality of that momentous decision.

The United Nations Charter is the starting point for a consideration of whether or not a State is justified in going to war. Article 2(4) of the Charter stipulates a general prohibition on the unilateral use of force. The International Court of Justice has confirmed that a general ban on the use of force exists in customary law, running parallel to the Charter. Ironically, the leading case in this area, Nicaragua v USA (1986) ICL Reports, the US was the defendant.43

There are three exceptions to the general prohibition on the use of force: the right to self-defence (Article 51); action authorized by the Security Council (Chapter vii of the Charter); and action by regional bodies with Security Council authorization (Chapter vii of the Charter).

The US government sought Security Council authorization for military force against Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 events. Although the Council passed two resolutions condemning what had happened on 11 September, neither resolution contains an authorization for war. Indeed, the resolutions are careful to refer to "terrorist attacks" not "armed attacks" by one State upon another.

The Nicaragua Case established a broad definition of "armed attack". It is improbable in any case that the Afghan government sent al Qaeda forces to the United States to commit terrorist attacks, and as noted, no evidence has ever been adduced to demonstrate that they did. If such evidence existed, as the Americans claim, then they have a duty under the Charter to disclose that evidence to the Security Council. They never have. Further, the Security Council resolutions specifically stopped short of using the terminology of "armed attacks."

The third option regards the use of regional bodies such as NATO or in Australia's case ANZUS. The US invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, claiming that an attack upon the US was an attack upon all its members, thereby invoking the treaty's collective security provisions. It is implicit in the Security Council resolution however that its members did not accept that there had been an "attack" as that term is understood under the Charter.

In his October 25 2001 speech referred to above the Australian Prime Minister John Howard said:44

"On 14 September [2001] the Australian government, in consultation with the US, decided that the relevant provisions of the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked. Under ANZUS we each agreed that an attack on the other would be dangerous to our own peace and safety and that we would act to meet the common danger in accordance with our constitutional procedures."

Although the decision to commit Australian troops was approved by the Australian parliament, the government has never published any White Paper setting out the basis of its involvement in the Afghan war. It has similarly not made available any briefing papers prepared in connection with Cabinet's consideration of the decision. Eight years later there is still no parliamentary debate on the legality of the war.45

Invoking either the NATO or ANZUS mutual assistance provisions is not the end of the matter. There is still an obligation to act within the terms of the UN Charter. Regional treaties of the ANZUS type are subservient to the Charter.46

There remains the issue of whether customary law could be invoked. In the Caroline Case47 it was established that force in terms of self-defence under international customary law needed to be immediate, proportionate and necessary.

The "immediate" component of this classic formulation is sufficiently flexible to allow time to establish the source of the attacks and the responsibility to allow a targeted response. As has been argued above however, attribution of the attacks has at best been tenuous and on at least one view wholly spurious.48

The test for "necessity" is that there be "a necessity for self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation".49 That clearly is not applicable in the present case.

The last component of the Caroline test is proportionality. While proportionality does not require that the response exactly match the quantum of the attack, it must be commensurate with the type of attack actually suffered.50

The prevailing view is that a full-scale invasion of a country cannot be considered a proportionate response. The objective, stated by both Bush and Howard, of replacing the Taliban government of Afghanistan was not proportionate and almost certainly contrary to international law.51 No international instrument permits armed intervention to impose "regime change" on another State, even if the stated goal is the nominal one of establishing a democratic State.52

The US has hitherto not been noted for its support of regime change when the incumbent one was amenable to US foreign policy goals, no matter how repugnant that government might be.53 In the case of Afghanistan the US had actively subverted the nearest thing Afghanistan had to a democratic government under the Tariki regime.54 Its changed attitude to the Taliban government only came when the pipeline plans of Unocal were thwarted in June 2001, more than two months before the events of 11 September.55

The United States and Australia therefore have no basis in international law for the attack upon, and occupation of, Afghanistan. Before leaving this issue however it is necessary to address whether the Afghanistan government's alleged "harboring" of al Qaeda terrorists who allegedly attacked the United States on 11 September 2001 might provide a justification for an invasion and occupation.

Again this was the justification invoked by both Bush and Howard and repeated by Obama last December.56 The issue of State responsibility for allegedly harboring illegal actors has been considered in the Nicaragua Case, op cit, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in Prosecutor v Tadic,57 and by the International Law Commission in its draft articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts published in 2001.

The Nicaragua Case established that it would require the United States to demonstrate that the Afghan government issued "specific instructions" to al Qaeda to carry out the attack. The Tadic Case established that the Court had to be satisfied that the State in question exercised "overall control" over the relevant actors. The ILC's draft articles regards a State as responsible only.

"if the of persons is in fact acting on the instructions of, or under the direct control of, the State that is carrying out the conduct; if the group of persons is in fact exercising elements of the governmental authority in the absence or default of the official authorities; and if and to the extent that the State acknowledges and adopts the conduct in question as its own."

There is no evidence that any of these three conditions prevailed, and indeed neither the US or Australian governments have sought to demonstrate that they have any evidence to support such an inference.58

Lacking any mandate in international law or under Article 51 of the UN charter the United States and Australia have nonetheless sought to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (i.e NATO) to draw in its European allies and Article V.of the ANZUS Treaty to involve Australia. This latter article provides that:

"For the purposes of Article IV, an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties..."

It needs to be noted however that this Article is to be read subject to Article VI which says that the Treaty:

"Shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations."

Article 5 of the Washington Treaty also requires an "armed attack" to justify the invocation of Article 51 of the UN Charter. As noted above, in the circumstances of this case Article 51 does not apply and cannot therefore be invoked, rending null and void the purported invocation of both the NATO and ANZUS treaties.

Further, the NATO North Atlantic council, meeting on 13 September 2001 passed a resolution that:

"if it is determined that the 11 September 2001 attack against the United States a was directed from abroad against the North Atlantic area it shall be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty."59

The resolution also required that it be shown that al Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden had ordered the "attack from abroad" on the US and that the terrorist attacks of 11 September constituted a bona fide military operation by an alleged foreign country against a NATO member State.

That evidence has never been forthcoming.60 The so-called "confession videos" of bin Laden admitting responsibility for the attacks has been widely discredited, not least because they are almost certainly fakes.61 In one of the two videos put forward the person in the video was not even bin Laden himself.

It was previously been announced by the NATO Secretary General that the evidence was contained in a report prepared by a US State Department officer named Frank Taylor. His report was provided to the NATO Council on 2 October 2001, five days before the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan began. That report has never been released and therefore its purported evidence never subject to critical scrutiny. As noted above, a Member State intending to use force is required to provide the evidence justifying the force to the Security Council. Mr Taylor's report has as far as can be ascertained never been given to members of the Security Council.

It is astonishing that a war that has now lasted more than eight years was allegedly based on information that has never been disclosed. It is all the more surprising given that Member States of the United Nations are obliged to comply with the provisions of the Charter. They cannot supercede the Charter's provisions by the invocation of secret evidence.

This is reinforced by the fact that two United Nations resolutions passed in the wake of 11 September 2001 (Resolutions 1368 and 1373) called upon Member States to co-operate in a variety of measures, including the suppression of terrorism financing, but nowhere mentioned the authorization of military force by a Member State against another Member State.

What has been said about the NATO Treaty applies, ceteris paribus, to the ANZUS Treaty purportedly invoked by the Howard government after "consultations" with the Americans and referred to in Mr Howard's speech of 25 October 2001. In short, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by United States, Australian and other troops is almost certainly illegal. That there continues to be an almost complete absence of informed debate on these issues is perhaps the most concerning of all.

What is the Real Reason?

If the claimed reasons for invading Afghanistan are false, what are the real reasons? It is submitted that on the basis of the available evidence there are three principal reasons.

1. Oil and Gas.

In his speech on 1 December 2009 cited above, President Obama said that he was convinced that US security was at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said that it was important to recall that the US and its allies were "compelled" to fight a war in Afghanistan because it was from there that the US was attacked on 11 September 2001. The spurious nature of this claim, so readily adopted by Australia, has been discussed above. Notably absent from the President's address was any reference to the importance of Afghanistan to supplies of oil and gas upon which the US economy, and its war machine, are so dependent.

On 10 September 2001 an article in Oil and Gas Journal had pointed out that "those who control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and distribution of revenues from new production."62

Enron, which in 2000 was George W. Bush's largest campaign contributor, had conducted a feasibility study on the Trans-Caspian pipeline. This pipeline was to be built in accordance with a joint-venture agreement signed in February 1999 by Turkmenistan and US companies Bechtel and GE Capital Services.63

In 1998 Uzbekistan ambassador to the US had met with then Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss the proposed pipeline. It was agreed that the Texas based Enron would have the rights to Uzbekistan's natural gas deposits. The company slated to build the pipeline was Unocal, two of whose executives were Condoleeza Rice and Hamid Kharzai.

As noted above,, the Taliban government refused the American's terms for the building of the pipeline. According to a report from one person present at the meeting, the Afghan government was offered "a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs."64 That was in June 2001. Bush approved the plans (already drawn up) for the invasion shortly thereafter. All that was lacking was a casus belli and the attacks of 11 September 2001 provided that.

Afghanistan was the logical route for transporting the vast Caspian reserves to a secure warm water port. This is dictated by geographical and geo-political considerations. Russia is to the north of the "stans", China to the east, and Iran to the west. As Dorion had pointed out in his 2001 article in Oil and Gas Journal,65 those who controlled the routes could dictate the distribution and supply of an increasingly scarce commodity. The US was not prepared to cede that control to Russia, China and Iran.

It is no coincidence that the four major US military bases that have now been built in Afghanistan (and hundreds of smaller ones) closely parallel the pipeline route, due to be completed in 2014.66 Once built, the pipeline would have to be secured. For that reason alone any voluntary withdrawal by the Americans is highly unlikely.

2. Geopolitical Ambitions.

The second major reason for the American occupation of Afghanistan is the expansion of its vast network of military bases. The bases already built, and excluding the nine additional major bases announced by the then Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld in December 2004 are hardly necessary to "smoke out al Qaeda," as Bush defined the American mission in December 2001. The Americans own intelligence estimates say that the number of al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan now numbers probably fewer than one hundred.67

Nor is the extension of the war into Pakistan justified in terms of al Qaeda members alleged to be taking refuge in the North Western provinces. The major US goal is the assertion of "full spectrum dominance" set out in the Defence papers of the late 20th century.68 It is a policy that has been pursued by successive American Presidents since at least the end of the Second World War. Despite his rhetoric of "change" the present incumbent of the White House is to all practical intents and purposes indistinguishable from his predecessors in this regard.

These bases perform a number of functions, as Chalmers Johnson among others have pointed out, only some of them military.69 In Afghanistan they are used for the training of fighters who are then inserted into Iran and the Muslim regions of China and Russia for the purpose of disruption through terrorism in those communities.70 This is after all only an extension of the mujihideen insurrection in Afghanistan during the years of Soviet occupation of that country.

In the huge Bagram air force base and other so-called "dark sites" in Afghanistan they also play a major role in the interrogation, torture, rendition and disappearances of hundreds of Afghan and foreign citizens captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan.71

In his 1997 book Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that with the collapse of the Soviet Union a non-Eurasian power had emerged as the key arbiter of power relations in Eurasia and the world beyond. The way in which this was to be exercised he said, was:

"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together."72

Brzezinski's view is hardly unique among senior American strategists. In 1992 during the dying days of the elder Bush administration, Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby drafted a Defence Planning Guidance for the then Secretary of Defence Richard Cheney, in which they argued:

"We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role". Those views were reiterated in later documents such as the 2000 PNAC study "Rebuilding America's Defenses" and the National Security Strategy of 2002.

In the Joint Chiefs of Staff strategic document Joint Vision 2020 full spectrum dominance was defined as:

"The ability of US forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations."73

Scott describes this as "overblown rhetoric, out of touch with reality, dangerously delusional, and even arguably insane."74 That is a conclusion difficult to challenge, but it has not prevented the US from pursuing precisely those policies for many years. When one views those policies in the light of Brzezinski's "brutal terminology" quoted above it is not difficult to see how those policies are given effect.

American hegemony is increasingly threatened by the development of those regional blocs that so concerned the neo-cons back in before the advent of the second Bush administration.75 One of the most significant of these is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that includes not only China and Russia but also the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The American counter to this development has been to increase its asymmetrical warfare, partly through the huge increase in the use of so-called private military contractors such as Xe (formerly Blackwater), Diligence and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).76 Much of the funding for these operations comes from the so-called ‘black budget' i.e off the books funding not accountable to congressional committees. The source of that money is the CIA's involvement in the illegal drug trade, discussed below.

Another advantage of using private military contractors, better known by their former title of mercenaries, is that their activities give a degree of deniability to the US when their activities are exposed to public scrutiny.

The on-the ground part of the asymmetrical warfare operations are also carried out by soldiers of the US joint special operations command (JSOC) whose former head was General Stanley MacChrystal currently head of all allied military operations in Afghanistan.

According to a report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation magazine77 JSOC black operations are carried out in Pakistan, the Baluchistan province of Iran, and Uzbekistan, and include kidnappings, torture, attacking villages and wedding parties, and general acts of terrorism. Holding these soldiers and their commanders and the politicians who authorise them to account is difficult. Not only is there an almost total mainstream media blackout of accounts of these operations, but any protests by affected countries are muted by the threat of or actual action against their leadership. International accountability is further rendered difficult by the refusal of the United States to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.78

None of this is consistent of course with the stated objectives of American foreign policy in general and their public rationale for being in Afghanistan. It is consistent however with the long-standing public policy goals of the US "prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant, and to keep the barbarians from coming together."79

3. Drugs

Insofar as the role of drugs in the Afghanistan war are discussed in the mainstream media it is usually limited to a grudging acceptance that heroin production declined during the years of the Taliban government but that it has once again increased. The increase is impliedly the responsibility of the same Taliban leaders who are portrayed as seeing heroin as a means of income to finance their "insurgency" against the Americans and their allies.

Like much of the media's portrayal of the war this is a gross distortion of reality. According to the United Nations ODC annual report the Taliban received only 3 percent of the total income earned from heroin in Afghanistan that is about 5 percent of the crop's value on the world market.80 As McCoy and Scott have both documented, there is a direct correlation between American military intervention in key areas of the world and increases in local drug production.81

In the 1950s in Burma following CIA intervention in that country heroin production rose from 40 tonnes in 1939 to 600 tonnes in 1970. Similar increases were observed in Thailand (from 7 tonnes to 200 tonnes between 1939 and 1968), and Laos (less than 15 tonnes in 1939 to 50 tonnes in 1973). Heroin production in Indo-China was enormously assisted by the Vietnam War and the opportunities that provided for export to the United States.82

In Columbia US troops intervened in the late 1980s, purportedly as part of the so-called ‘war on drugs'. Coca production in fact increased between 1991 and 1999 from 3.8 to 12.3 thousand hectares and cultivation of the opium poppy increased from 0.13 to 0.75 thousand hectares.83 Cocaine was shipped to the United States by CIA linked entities through Mena Arkansas among other pipelines.84 In Los Angeles the CIA Inspector General's report confirmed the earlier newspaper reports of the late Gary Webb that the CIA was the major instrument of the crack cocaine epidemic in that city.85

In Afghanistan the use of illegal drugs for military and political purposes was a central part of US strategy since at least 1979. Under a plan known as Operation Mosquito heroin, hashish and cocaine was used to addict Soviet troops.86 One of the American's key allies in this endeavour was a warlord named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who apart from his notoriety as a warlord was known for throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women. He was and is a key American ally.

In the decade of the mujihideen fighting against the Soviet army, half of US aid went to Hekmatyar who rapidly consolidated his position as one of Afghanistan's leading drug traffickers.

The huge funds generated by this trade were laundered through the CIA-ISI linked bank, BCCI. The closure of BCCI did not diminish the cash flow. A report from the US Senate in 2001 estimated that between $500 million and one trillion dollars in criminal proceeds are laundered through banks worldwide, of which half goes through American banks.87

Heroin production in Afghanistan was 3276 tonnes in 2000 and dropped to 185 tonnes in 2001, the year of the Taliban ban on production. Following the American invasion production leapt again to over 8200 tonnes in 2007. According to the United Nations Afghanistan now accounts for 93% of the world's production.88

James Petras argues that largely as a consequence of these capital flows the US economy has become a narco-capitalist one, dependent on these huge sums to remain solvent.89 He says that US banks have developed highly elaborate policies for transferring these funds to the US where they are invested in legitimate businesses or US government bonds to "wash" them clean.

In 2009 Antonia Maria Costa the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that drug related billions "kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global [financial] crisis."90 He said that a majority of the $352 billion in drug profits in 2008 was absorbed into the economic system and that this money was the only liquid investment capital available at that time. The source of this information he said was intelligence agencies from around the world.

It is not only the banks that benefit. Since at least the 1950s profits from illegal drugs have been an important source of finance for the CIA. This money is not allocated by Congress and is thus not subject to congressional budgetary scrutiny, even by the standards of the notoriously lax oversight of CIA activities. It is probably the central reason why increases in drug production invariably follow US military and intelligence agency involvement in countries capable of providing both the raw materials and the means of production.91

Heroin is shipped across the Afghanistan border into Pakistan by truck or flown out from the US Bagram air base in Afghanistan or the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan.92 According to at least one report much of the heroin is flown to yet another major US base in Kosovo where the Kosovo mafia then transship it to Germany and other European markets.93

This transshipment is important. The value of the current Afghan opium crop is approximately $65 billion. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime only 5 or 6 percent of that sum stays in Afghanistan itself. More than 80 percent of the profits are earned in the countries of consumption, mainly the United States, Russia and Europe. Those profits are used not only to finance off the books intelligence operations and provide liquidity for western banks but also provide the means for the corrupting of governments.94

The persistent refusal of the western mainstream media to recognize and report upon these realities raises inevitable questions as to whether or not our system is so compromised that events as diffuse as the Kennedy assassination and the attacks of 11 September 2001, far from being deviations from social norms are in fact reflections of the way we are systematically governed.95


Australia's involvement in the Afghan war is based upon multi-layered levels of deception and illegality. Although there is a long history of western interference in Afghanistan's affairs the present troubles can be directly traced to the plans formulated by Brzezinski in the late 1970s to arm and finance Islamic militants to destabilize the Afghan government of Tariki.

Having successfully enticed the Soviet government to send troops to support its Afghan ally, the destabilization through terrorism was expanded beyond Afghanistan into Kashmir, the Muslim areas of western China and the Caspian Sea Muslim states of the former Soviet Union.

The objectives were multifold. Beyond destabilization the mainly American oil majors had their eyes on the huge oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea states. The military saw the opportunity to expand their empire of bases in pursuit of full-spectrum dominance, and the lucrative drug trade financed both covert activities and the bottom line of western banks.

The events of 11 September 2001 provided a nominal casus belli for the attack and occupation of Afghanistan, heavily promoted by the mainstream media, which particularly in the United States is closely linked to the major armaments manufacturers. The same mainstream media have uncritically accepted and promoted the US government's version of events about 11 September 2001, not because that account is plausible, which it manifestly is not, but because to question the rationale for military intervention is to question the whole of post world war 2 US foreign policy. If US foreign policy is seriously flawed then that in turn must raise serious questions about the level and extent of Australia's adherence to the policies of its powerful ally.

Even if al Qaeda could be shown to have been responsible for the attacks of September 2001 as is constantly claimed but never proven, that would still not have provided a justification in international law for the attack and occupation of a sovereign nation. Australia is therefore a party to what amounts to an ongoing crime against international law.

We know that the attack on Afghanistan was planned and approved prior to 11 September 2001 and was designed in furtherance of the geopolitical goals set out above. Given that US intelligence estimates put the number of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at fewer than 100, the public rationale for the war has morphed into "defeating the Taliban" and "bringing democracy" to Afghanistan. The logical absurdities of that argument are never subject to critical analysis. Much less is there ever any discussion in the Australian media about the legality or otherwise of the war.

The acquiescence of the mainstream media and the major political parties in this charade strongly supports the proposition that the decisions are not being made by the elected representatives of the people of Australia (a majority of whom support withdrawal). Rather, as is the case in the United States, those people whom Scott refers to as making up the "deep state" make these critical decisions.

The continuation of this state of affairs poses a deep threat to the public state and the democratic values it purports to represent. It may be too late and the deep events that Scott refers to are in fact components of our political structure and not deviations from it. In that case nothing short of major structural change is likely to lead to meaningful changes in our body politic.

Absent such radical change Australia is likely to continue the role it has played at least since the Vietnam War of being America's loyal acolyte facilitating the undermining of democratic nationalist movements, promoting chaos whose main objective is the pursuit of private profit, and creating a world where the lives of billions are affected by the decisions of the unaccountable few.

* Barrister at Law in Brisbane. He may be contacted at j.oneill [AT]


1 [back] Mr Obama repeated the same message in a flying visit to Afghanistan shortly before Easter 2010. The repeated invoking of the events of 11 September 2001 as justification for the use of military force, renditions, torture and other offences against international law makes the critical examination of the official "9/11" conspiracy theory all the more important.

2 [back] Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald 2 November 2009.

3 [back] Hansard 28 October 2009

4 [back] The issue worthy of further examination and public debate is why Australia so readily aligns itself with America’s foreign policy goals when they are manifestly of little or any direct concern to Australia’s vital interests. The historical antecedents of this attachment to a major colonial power are explored in an important new book Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds What’s Wrong with Anzac: the Militarisation of Australian History, New South, 2010.

5 [back] A more detailed history from which I have borrowed freely is P. Fitzgerald and E. Gould Afghanistan’s Untold Story. City Lights Books 2009

6 [back] A. McCoy The Politics of Heroin. Chicago Review Press, 2003. Along with the work of Peter Dale Scott, cited below, this provides the most insightful analysis of what Scott refers to as the "deep state".

7 [back] The foremost modern exponent of this neo-colonial strategy is probably Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. His best known book in which he candidly discusses his motivations and strategy is The Grand Chessboard Basic Books, 1998

8 [back] M. Parenti Afghanistan, another Untold Story Common Dreams 2 December 2008 Art. 34940

9 [back] W. Blum Rogue State 2nd ed. Zed Books 2006

10 [back] James Douglass JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it matters. Orbis Books 2008

11 [back] ibid

12 [back] McCoy op cit.

13 [back] The same persons were to feature prominently in the drumbeat for war in Iraq more than 20 years later.

14 [back] Fitzgerald and Gould op cit

15 [back] S. Coll Ghost Wars Penguin Press 2004

16 [back] Parenti op cit.

17 [back] The western media preferred to portray it as a Russian "invasion" and the event was used to foster public alarm about Soviet expansionism as far as the Middle East oil fields. Fitzgerald and Gould op cit

18 [back] ibid

19 [back] Brzezinski op cit

20 [back] Les Revelations d’un ancient conseiller de Carter. Le Nouvel Observateur January 15-21 1998.

21 [back] Scott, Road to 9/11 University of California press 2007

22 [back] This was part of a scheme known as Operation Mosquito J.K. Cooley Unholy Wars Pluto Press 1999

23 [back] N.M. Ahmed The War on Truth Olive Branch Press 2005

24 [back] ibid

25 [back] Footnote deleted.

26 [back] Fitzgerald and Gould op cit.

27 [back] United Nations Office of Drug Control Annual Report

28 [back] Scott Road to 9/11 op cit. See also US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategic Report 2002

29 [back] Fitzgerald and Gould op cit. 30

30 [back] The latter two aspects are discussed below.

31 [back] Scott Road to 9/11 op cit.

32 [back] M. Klare Resource Wars Metropolitan Books 2001

33 [back] Parenti op cit.

34 [back] Cit


Weder Frau noch Mann? Dann wohl Alien...   

Cache schrieb:So sah der Mann noch vor fünf Jahren aus – jetzt hat er sich zu einem Alien umoperieren lassen
Der 22-jährige Vinny Ohh aus Los Angeles hat einen Traum: Er möchte aussehen wie ein geschlechtsloses Alien.
Der Grund: Er fühlt sich weder männlich noch weiblich. Sein extremes Aussehen soll ein Spiegel seines Innersten sein.
Schon 50.000 Dollar hat der Make-up-Artist dafür ausgegeben. Und bereits 110 Prozeduren und Operationen über sich ergehen lassen. Die bisherigen Veränderungen seht ihr im Video oben.
Aber noch ist Vinny lange nicht an seinem Ziel angelangt. Er plant, weitere 160.000 Dollar in seinen Traumkörper zu investieren.
Er ist noch nicht am Ziel
Beim ersten Eingriff - eine Lippenaufspritzung - war Vinny gerade einmal 17 Jahre alt. Es folgten mehrere Nasenkorrekturen, Wangen- und Augenbrauenimplantate und Laserbehandlungen. Um seinen Alien-Look zu vervollständigen, trägt er schwarze Kontaktlinsen, Krallen und auffällig gefärbte Haare.
Jetzt steht das Teilzeit-Model vor dem radikalsten Schritt: Er will seine Genitalien, seinen Bauchnabel und seine Brustwarzen entfernen lassen. Vinny sagt dazu: “Ich will ein Hybrid sein, nicht männlich und nicht weiblich.”
"Menschen sollten netter zueinander sein"
Wenn ihn Menschen fragen, wie er sich selbst beschreibt antwortet der 22-Jährige: “als außerirdischen, von sich selbst besessenen, heißen Typen.”
Aber Vinnys gruselige Verwandlung hat einen traurigen Hintergrund. Er fing damit an, weil er sich wie ein Außenseiter fühlte, als er aufwuchs. Jetzt will er Menschen wachrütteln und ihnen zeigen, dass Gender-Rollen nicht wichtig sind. Anstatt sich mit Geschlechtern zu beschäftigen, sollten die Menschen besser lernen, netter zueinander zu sein.

Bilder, Video:

Aha, also wenn man sich weder als Frau noch als Mann fühlt bzw so leben kann/will, dann kann man ja wohl nur ein Alien sein Silly


NOFX en Frank Turner   


De uit Los Angeles afkomstige punkband NOFX en de Britse folk- en punkzanger Frank Turner zijn niet meteen een voor de hand liggend duo om samen een plaat uit te brengen. Toch is dat net precies wat gebeurt op West Coast vs. Wessex. Beide artiesten coveren elkaars songs en dat levert eigenlijk een best verrassend divers én leuk album op.
In de eerste helft van de plaat overheerst de punkrock (Substitute) en skapunk à la Rancid (Tatcher fucked the kids). Maar halverwege, wanneer de Brit aan de slag gaat met NOFX-nummers, horen we ook folk (het nog rustige Bob en het meezingbare Perfect government, wellicht het hoogtepunt van deze plaat), rock die klinkt als een recenter up-tempo nummer van Editors (Eat the meek) en een zelfs behoorlijk interessant en veelzijdig, niet meteen in één categorie onder te brengen song als Falling in love
Eerlijk gezegd waren mijn verwachtingen niet zo hoog voor deze plaat. Van beiden had ik al doorheen de jaren nummers en albums gehoord (NOFX ken ik sinds ik uit de bib eens Heavy petting zoo ontleende en Frank Turner kruiste mijn pad ook al enkele malen), maar een grote fan was ik niet meteen. Hun platen zijn niet slecht, vaak leuk en een mooi tussendoortje om naar te luisteren maar in deze samenwerking tonen ze toch dat het geheel echt soms wel meer is dan gewoon de som van de afzonderlijke delen.

Beluister hieronder het volledige album:


Los Angeles Negros   




SHAWN RENÉ GRAHAM: Individual Giving Appeals Workshop Teacher    


We recently asked SHAWN RENE GRAHAM, teacher of Individual Giving Appeals, and Artist Services Manager at The Field for her thoughts on how to stay resilient when asking for what you need as an artist:

"Well first:
Stop saying ‘I am not good at asking for money.’  Develop some techniques that make you better.

You can’t be afraid of ‘NO’ or take it personally.  You have to learn to move to the next prospect and not let the ‘NO’ be positive and not negative.  Maybe it just means you should re-examine your message or strategy, be clearer about who you are and what you are asking for exactly.

You need to examine your own inhibitions about asking.  Part of the work is understanding your own relationship to money and your own hang-ups.  We tend to project those onto other people, when what you think may not be true at all for the person you are asking.

Know that fundraising involves cultivation.  Learn something about your donors as individuals or funding sources other than the fact they have money to give and appeal to that.  If you are meeting one-on-one, show an interest in them that isn’t just about the money.  This means you may have to step up your game and do some research.  What appeals to that individual may not appeal to you in the same way, but you still need to engage them before saying ‘give me all your money.’

Click here to sign up for Individual Giving Appeals! 

Find other ways to get stuff that is not just monetary.  Maybe you can exchange skills with someone.  You provide something for someone and they help you develop marketing materials, or grant applications or whatever.  This is about surrounding yourself with people who do some things better than you and learning from them, but making the exchange fair."

Ms. Graham is a freelance writer and dramaturg from San Jose, California who has worked with many writers including, Kia Corthron, Nilo Cruz, Steve Harper, Eduardo Machado, Walter Mosley, Lynn Nottage, Suzan Lori Parks, John Henry Redwood, Guillermo Reyes, Paul Rudnick, Steve Harper, Susan Sontag, Dominic A. Taylor, Edwin Sanchez, Judy Tate, and Naomi Wallace.
She has been a guest dramaturg at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, the Crossroads Theatre Company's Genesis Festival, the New Professional Theatre, and African American Women's New Play Festival and on many panels including, National Endowments for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Artist Grants Panel in Playwriting and the Mark Taper Forum's New Works Festival and is currently the resident dramaturg of The American Slavery Project's: Unheard Voices collaboration.

Ms. Graham has worked in dance, serving as dramaturg for The Errol Grimes Dance Group's RED, Mrs. Robeson in Moscow, Sunday Day, Prism to a Dream and By the Sea at the Henry Street Settlement's Harry De Jur Playhouse. She is the Producing Coordinator for the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Future Classics Series and Playwright’s Playground, and founder of All Creative Writes, an artistic assistance service designed to provide individual artists and performing arts organizations with administrative, fundraising and writing support.

Ms. Graham holds degrees from the California State University, Los Angeles and the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. She lives in Harlem, NY.


Welcome to the Doctoral student network digital lunch seminar, 12:00-12:30, 6 May   


Second out is David Blekhman, Professor of Technology at California State University Los Angeles and Technical Director of Hydrogen Research...

The post Welcome to the Doctoral student network digital lunch seminar, 12:00-12:30, 6 May appeared first on Swedish Electromobility Centre.


Introducing: Featured Poet: CaLokie!   


With a big smile and a special wink, I am delighted to present one of my favorite poets, known to all who love him (and that's everyone who knows him) as CaLokie. His strong, insightful verse speaks for our time, speaks what needs to be spoken, says what we all want to say and with a critical keen eye and voice, he's salvaging the best and dumping the rest in a society gone mad. He's hilariously funny, and dead serious. He's critically sharp, sarcastic and intense, yet loving, emotionally gentle and dear. Born during the depression, in Oklahama, he came to California in 1959 and taught in the Los Angeles school district for 30 years. His pen name was inspied by the joads struggle for survival in Grapes of Wrath and the songs and life of fellow Okie, Woodie Gutherie. He's published many poems in journals and is loved as a guest reader for his fantastic presence and animated readings. His poetry is always full of bold, unexpected imagery, and his voicing of them adds a dimension beyond the norm, to say the least. I am hoping to add sound files to this page as soon as possible, so you can enjoy that feature of his poetry. Although he made a brief appearance on the former DMV poetry site before it ended, he is mostly not known to online poetry communities, so I feel especially honored to be able to present his work here. I'll also in the coming days add an album of photos so you can get a look at his effect on audiences. We are enormously lucky to have him at our local readings in Pasadena and at the Thursday Night Poetry Workshop at the Wilson's each week. CaLokie's favoritw tee shirt reads: "Peace and Justice: Weapons of Mass Instruction". We'll start with a brief selection.

Love a Duck


love a duck

love a duck in
the back of a truck

love a duck
and a mutt in the
back of a dump truck

love a duck
named Bucky and
a mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck

love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck stuck in
the middle of the muddle of the race track

love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
who both throw up in the back of
a dump truck stuck in the middle of the
muddle of the muddy race track of Aqueduct

An Ode to Barbaro

What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?
How would he have gone down in history
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

He won the Kentucky Derby by a six length margin
And was a champion on dirt and grass like John Henry.
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?

He had run seven races and was unbeaten.
What do you think would be his legacy
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

He had this incredible speed and stamina blend.
Who can forget his turf triumph at the Laurel Futurity?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?

A colt like him doesn’t come along that often.
Would there have been at Belmont a triple crown victory
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

Like Keats too soon a promising life comes to an end.
When will we witness again such truth and beauty?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

Me and Jim

Jim Feliz is half Apache
but looks more Indian than Mexican
I am a little Cherokee and Irish
some Brit blood
The rest of my DNA--the San Gabriel Valley
Poets Tribe

We both have the same animal guides--
That’s how we met each other
at Santa Anita

Because of his surname kids at school
would greet Jim, ” Felix the Cat
the wonderful, wonderful cat...”
That’s why he always bets on any horse
with a cat in their name like Outlaw Cat
Apollo’s Scat Kat or El Gato Famoso
He also has a feline named Tiger
who’s the light of his life

When we go to the races we don’t sit
in the grandstand as Bukowski did
but at one of the tables
in this pavilion outside of it
Often a lot of blackbirds flock nearby
and so we’ll share with our winged
brothers and sisters any corn chips
or pretzels we may bring

You see we feel we’re a part of nature
not separate from it
like you European Americans think
That’s why we don’t pollute Mother Earth
like you guys are always doin’

We have this reverence toward creation
which, frankly, you non-indigenous
would do well to emulate
I mean spirituality isn’t a go to church
or synagogue once a week thing with us
but something we do daily
Me and Jim, for example, carry with us
wherever we go
our own incense--cigars

When we breathe in its holy smoke
it’s meditation and then after a long
slow exhale
it’s sent back to Father Sky
as prayer

Now don’t get us wrong
When we win a big bet, we don’t do no dumb thing
like say that we give all the credit to the Great Spirit
Otherwise we’d have to blame G.S. whenever bad things
happen to good handicappers, wouldn’t we?
When one of our horses which would
have given us a huge payoff wins
but is disqualified by a steward’s inquiry
instead of cursing
we’re stoical

When successful at the track, we celebrate
with a shrimp taco dinner at Señor Fish
or a double cheeseburger with soda at Tommy’s
When not, we take solace from listening
to the blues on my car stereo

We feast more on blues
than tacos or cheeseburger combos
but hey
a good fast has never hurt nobody
has it?

Every Five Seconds*

I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
650,000 Iraqis have died since the United States invasion.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

President Bush says he'll stick by the figure of 30,000 dead Iraqis.
But still too many innocent have died and he sends his consolation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.

25,000 people condemned every day to die from poverty.
720 children per hour, 12 per minute--dead from starvation.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

On 911, 3,000 people died and changed everything it seems.
But everyday 16 skyscrapers of famished inmates perish by hunger’s execution.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see

Nine million people -- six million of them juveniles and babies--
Complete life’s journey by what Nazis called the “final solution.”
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

The wealthy few profit from a global market which excludes the needy--
Those whose malnourished bodies will be buried with little, if any lamentation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

* This villanelle is based on an email post by Marc Norton called, ALL I SEE ARE DEAD PEOPLE and which was first published in BEYOND CHRON, October 20, 2006

A Marxist Mother Goose Tale

This is the house that Jack built

This is the fair day’s wage
that Jack’s paid for a fair day’s work to build the house

This is the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

Jack’s landlord did not buy a cat
to kill the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
He bought the house that Jack built

This is the apartment
that Jack pays 65% of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
And still there’s no cat
to kill the rat


Richard Dutton   


It is with delight and a warm sense of friendship that I present Richard Dutton's poetry here as a celebration of his 75th birthday. Dick Dutton's strong and insightful voice resonates amidst Southern California poets. His unusual points of view, vivacious charm, and wry humor ring true and powerfully with personal vision. He is an encouraging and good friend. He and his wife Pauli Dutton are two wonderful poets. He came to poetry through her influence but his voice is individual and unmistakable.

RICHARD DUTTON’s main career has been as an aerospace engineer specializing in field, systems, software development, operations and performance analysis, and system procurement specifications for North American Aviation, Teledyne Systems Company and Lockheed Skunk Works. While in college he worked at Mat Lab at New York Naval Shipyard, Raytheon Research Division, and the National Bureau of Standards (NIST). He has also had stints as a stockbroker for Dean Witter and an electronics specialist in the US Army. After retiring, he began substitute teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and elected as a state delegate to the National Education Association where he has been a state contact. He began writing stories and poetry following his wife Pauline’s leadership and inspiration.

SOUND OFF / FACE OFF Richard Dutton (what’s his name?)

People don’t have names now

Their name was the key to opening them up

They have faces

Over time they disguise themselves

Faces can tell a lot

But a friend wants to be able to

Include sound to spill emotions

Telephone works better than silent video

Software recognizes face and voice

It translates speech to text or to commands

Computers in pencils correlate student’s notes

With the audio of the professor’s voice

Talk to programs faceless (so far)

Or to humans on face-book or video

See the earth from orbit

Your abode from different views

The computer is a brain extension

For memory storage communication

We are part of the world brain

(Accessible by voice for less reading)

Has Big Brother spread or caught

Knowledge viruses from the web

Broadcast with evil or good intent?

Too many media police watching you?

Are they changing A.D. to A.I.?

Expert systems can guide the Media-ocracy

The battleground is communication

Design babies can be DNA’d to accept the message

Will octuplet youngsters tweet on twitter?

Either get together or order frozen embryos?

Part of that is slightly late for my generation

Unless I had something like a feel-o-vision suit

Where are my hearing aids?

Can YOU hear ME now?

Umm… What’s your name?

God. is that really your face?


The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was four years old

Got a ride on his shoulders

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was six years old

He showed me how to do chess openings

I won with the opening checkmate he showed me

The door … opened …slowl

Father came in

I was eight years old

He explained Santa’s spirit was all around at Christmas

And that is real after all

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was sixteen years old

He told me I would be best as a lawyer or as an engineer

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was eighteen years old

He told me he had a friend who became a doctor

And therefore was able to marry one of the wealthiest women

The door…opened…slowly

Father came in

I was twenty five years old

He said, “Put your money in things YOU think have a future”

The door … opened …slowly

I…came in

Was fifty years old

We started a game of chess

I won with the opening checkmate he had shown me

The my mind…opens … slowly

Father …taught me…slowly

By letting me win

Increasing the challenge …slowly

Stretching my perseverance with each win

Eventually he would sprinkle some losses in

This was a help in my life

The door.. to my husbandry… opens slowly

To daughter and wife chess was an enjoyment.

I played them and would take wins there too quickly

That door closed and I don’t know how to open it


Guilty of coasting, ignoring reality

And falling from the grace of higher education

Lying dead in a possible career path

No future in sight

The easy life was gone

Trapped in the purgatory of the Army

Perhaps Jesus would show me stepping stones

I prayed

Then the Army let me finish college and some grad school while I was serving them

I landed a lucrative job that paid more than professors or generals.

Enough to retire modestly

I coasted, ignored opportunities, made mistakes

Broke the habit of praying

Fell a second time into near poverty

I prayed

I was saved the second time by a figurative Angel from Heaven

Who, along with the GI bill, helped me

Get three masters degrees, a modest success and a small family

Now I am coasting again

Could I play the role of Lazarus a third time?

I have been ungrateful

Should Jesus be my friend when he does miracles for me

and I pray only when times are bad

I passed up more opportunities than most people get in a lifetime

Am now frozen in indecision

I know I was supposed to do things for the world

But I have less time left and low resources

I need to “resurrect” the opportunity

God and Jesus know how I feel when I pray

It’s up to them


On and off I lived with Grandma

Had sugar sandwiches and sweet pickled cucumbers

A few times slept on her bed

She would always call me her little professor

On the way home from Sunday school

Stopped off to see her with my bible

She knew I told the truth with her

Gramma said, “When I’m in Heaven

I’ll be looking down watching you”

Before Grandma died Aunt Ada told me

“I’ve been telling her that you’re a professor

So please go along with that”

When Grandma asked me I told her

“No, but I’m making much more than a professor”

Sorry Grandma, sorry Aunt Ada

Later I went for a Doctorate in Business Administration

But didn’t complete it

Sorry Grandma

Was a Witter Critter in San Marino

(Dean Witter is now part of Morgan Stanley)

Apparently marketing securities was not my bag

Sorry Grandma

Later after retiring from Aerospace

I didn’t get that job teaching calculus at PCC

Sorry Grandma

At Seventy One I’m a Substitute Teacher at LAUSD

Sorry Grandma

Maybe my daughter will be a professor

If she doesn’t get married first


I carry you with me

As we are joined

I dream of Yosemite

With the light brown bear…

Waking us, out in

Our sleeping bags

Us down the river on

Air mattresses

You are with me

San Francisco

“Dance your ass off”

Mark Hopkins or the “Y”

You are with me

As I re-travel

Eurail pass

Sex on the ferry boat

Almost missed at the Lourve

You are with me

Or my old stomping grounds

Where we lived, relatives

Church pews, libraries

You are with me

Back stage, dancing,

Poetry, your office

Seeing you those times

on TV and in movies

You are with me

Our college classes together

The parenting of a genius daughter

Now so far away

You are with me

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever


How did I come here?

Or was it a dream?

I did appear

Or so it would seem

Inside the car with my impressive companion

Outside the car must have been time travel -- Fast!

Was there anything outside the windows?

I saw green lights and street signs go past

Did I drive or did we fly?

I did see a beautiful sky go by

But my mind was not on the car

My companion traveled me afar

A dream through life

With my wife


To make it through the day

At home I have an electric heater

She warms my life in every way

She’s so good you can’t beat her

She knows when my power is low

She’s also an electric meter

She charges me up so I can go

I always say, “I love you.” when I greet her

Ever since so long ago

I was so happy to meet her


What do I write?

Checks, Credit card slips, crossword letters

My name on the board, brief reports about work

Who would read those?

But my messages for the world are lost

In the Internet ocean and media swamp

Should I warp myself to sound bites in debates

When warped ideas control the mike?

Screened by Nielsen, viewership, advertisers, ownership

Sensationalism and attention span limits

The current topic is deemed “newsworthy”

And is given the right of way

Entertainment, news and hypnosis have a lot in common

Public opinion is herded like sheep

By two teams of smiling sheepdogs

Where each calls the other team wolves

This breeds split opinion

Which breeds controversy

Which brings in politics

Which brings in money

Oops, I don’t have money!

How can I broadcast my simple ideas?

I’m not trying to write a book

I’m not trying to write a bible

But my truths disappear in a sea of blogs

A local paper might help

If we’re in the same choir

When major media is the battleground

What they want to hear is what I need to write

A timely, sensational, controversial, and entertaining book

To a large segment of society’s delight.

That’s tough to do with my ideas

But that’s what I should write. Right?


Should we call it MEDIOCRACY?




Takes over the republic

And the democracy

Monopolies in the

Flow of information

Worse than oil

Flow in this here nation

Do we realize that

The power of the press

Can usually out-bat

The power of the prez?

And who is who controlling

Pen, mike, camera and election?

But who would advertise it

As they want power and extension?

All of us media zombies think

We can handle ninety-nine percent

But they still spread knowledge viruses

With evil or good intent

High schools, churches and colleges

Are part of media hypnosis

Movies, TV, the net, and books

Is Poetry in this psychosis?


One of the richest experiences I have shared with Pauli and Dick is our collaborations as Poets on Site. Last year we travelet to Sunset Beach, to the Anderson Gallery. Dick, Pauli and I viewed the same painting by Milford Zornes, Greenland and we all wrote our impressions:

Milford Zornes, Greenland,1954, oil painting

Richard Dutton

sun almost gone
mother earth's rising body
obscures horizon
moon above icebergs
families floating on rippling water
with white shawls overhead

Pauli Dutton

snow moon overhead
crystal frosted crowns
float on rickrack sea

Kathabela Wilson

thousand peaked origami cathedrals
tents shimmering with glacial glow of veiled inner moons
one has escaped—our moon innocently knowing
what it was and what is hidden like a word
oh white Greenland of our unconsciousness

One of the delights of Poets on Site is the deep sharing of experience and the presentation of our individual, insightful, simultaneous impressions. A wonderful bonding and heightening of artistic visions.

Poets on Site at the Anderson Gallery: PAULI and RICHAD DUTTON 2nd and 3rd from right. In photo, left to right: poets Mira Mataric, Sharon hawley, Kath Abela Wilson, artist Bill Anderson, Deborah P Kolodji, Richard Dutton, Pauli Dutton, and Wendy Wright.


Alias Grace: Part 1   


Young American doctor Simon Jordan arrives at Canada's Kingston Penitentiary to study the perplexing mind of Grace Marks, a convicted murderer. AV Club recap - Alias Grace is already more than its murder mystery

Los Angeles Daily News - Why it took 20 years for Sarah Polley to make Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tickets   


The Rams are back and we have a large inventory of Angels tickets available.


Los Angeles Kiss Tickets   


Los Angeles Kiss Tickets Arena football in LA.


Los Angeles Rams Tickets   


The Rams are back and we have a large inventory of Rams tickets available.


The Pixelodeon Festival   


We took a trip down to Los Angeles for the first inaugural Pixelodeon online video festival. Irina chats up a handful of the creative minds that made this a weekend to remember. Episode links: Pixelodeon, Can We Do That?, Rick Rey, Eric Rey, Josh Cohen, TheHill88, Fred Seibert,


Supporting the Striking Writers   


GETV pops down to Los Angeles to see how geeks can help support the striking television and movie writers of Hollywood. Solidarity through double-clicking or not double-clicking, that is the question. Irina catches up with writer and actor Seth Rogen, Chris Provenzano,Phil Rosenthal and Richard Potter on the picket line to find out from them […]


Podcasters Take Over PNME   


Podcasters and videobloggers from all around the world converged recently on the eastern Los Angeles wasteland of Ontario, California for the Podcast and New Media Expo. As one can imagine, much incestuous self-referential media making went on among the attendees. And we at Geek Entertainment TV are no different. See which micro-celebrities Irina accosts with […]


Workers’ Compensation Specialization Boot Camp   


The Workers’ Compensation Specialization Boot Camp on July 16 and 17 in Los Angeles was a packed house. 1  If you missed out, there’s another chance to attend on July 30 and 31 in Concord. If you did attend the seminar in Los Angeles, I promised you a copy of all of the cases cited during […]


Episode 146 - The One, Part 2   


Cox n' Crendor return, and Crendor has finally watched the show Jesse can't stop raving about. What did he think? Has TV finally reached it's pinnacle?! Also a giant statue outside an Ikea in Los Angeles confuses both of the boys, mostly cause it looks like a wiener. Todays episode is sponsored by Meundies! For 20% off your order go to


Bugle 216 – We’re having a baby!   


Nothing else matters in the world as "We're Having A Baby!"

Kate of the Royals and that William are not the only ones expectant as the planet gets a massive case of baby brain.

This Bugle was created in five different time zones, spanning 13.5 Earth hours as John records amongst the stars in Los Angeles and Andy chows down on some choice bovine cuts in Calcutta.

See for privacy and opt-out information.


Bottom Work from Cruising with Bettie   


Commerical BoatYard
Cruising with Bettie movie posterAfter entering the Caribbean from the Panama Canal, cruisers Bob and Kaye stop at a commercial shipyard to get some repairs done on "Bettie's" keel. There they get an opportunity to watch the age-old craft of wooden boat repair alongside modern fiberglass and ocean going freighters. Join cruisers Bob and Kaye on their many adventures in "Cruising with Bettie: L.A. to the Bahamas," a 51-minute cruising life-style video.

This is a fast-paced documentary, with gorgeous photography, that will give you a first hand look at the cruising lifestyle. Over 10,000 miles passed under Bettie’s keel since Bob and Kaye left Los Angeles in 2004. They sailed down the west coast to Panama, through the Canal, east to Cartagena, Columbia then north to Honduras and east across the Caribbean to the Bahamas.

Available on Sailflix Vimeo on Demand
Download-to-Own $9.99 | Streaming Rental $4.99

Bob Steadman was a highly acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer. Sadly, Bob past away several years ago. His last Hollywood gig was as technical consultant to the Director of Photography on the feature, Body of Lies directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo de Caprio and Russell Crowe. Check out Bob Steadman's screen credits on the Internet Movie Database. Bob's First Mate, Kaye is a Hollywood costume designer.


Cartagena from Cruising with Bettie   


Club Nautico - Cartegena, ColumbiaFrom Cruising with Bettie: L.A. to the Bahamas, a 51-minute cruising documentary available at

YouTubeCruising with Bettie is now available as a YouTube Rental for just $2.99 (US Only).
YouTubeRent our sailing documentaries at TheSailingChannel YouTube Documentary Playlist.

Cartagena, Columbia is a cruising destination in the western caribbean. Join cruisers Bob and Kaye as they visit the old walled city for a look at Cartagena's colonial past, find great buys on precious stones, and discover other exotic fare. Cartagena is a segment from the 51-minute documentary.

QuickTimeWindows Media Add to CartCruising with Bettie is available for purchase as a High Quality Windows Media or QuickTime Video Download for just $9.99. Click, pay with Paypal or your Credit Card, download and watch.
The complete 51-minute video will be saved to your PC or MAC where you can enjoy unlimited full screen plays. It also looks great on your large flatscreen TV and the QuickTime version plays on your iPad, iPod, or Android mobile device.
CWB DVD Box CoverThis is a fast-paced documentary, with gorgeous photography, that will give you a first hand look at the cruising lifestyle. Over 10,000 miles passed under Bettie’s keel since Bob and Kaye left Los Angeles in 2004. They sailed down the west coast to Panama, through the Canal, east to Cartagena, Columbia then north to Honduras and east across the Caribbean to the Bahamas.
Cruising with Bettie is also available on DVD for $24.95 (includes U.S. shipping) and $29.95 (includes international shipping).
Bob Steadman was a highly acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer. Sadly, Bob past away earlier this year. His last Hollywood gig was as technical consultant to the Director of Photography on the feature, Body of Lies directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo de Caprio and Russell Crowe. Check out Bob Steadman's screen credits on the Internet Movie Database. Bob's First Mate, Kaye is a Hollywood costume designer. Read all about them and their adventures in Bettie's Blog.


Hookah Diving from Cruising with Bettie   


Hookah Diving in Costa Rica
As they sailed down the west coat of Central America, Bob and Kaye took some time to enjoy diving in Costa Rica. They used a Hookah system that feeds air through hoses supplied by a small generator floating on the surface. The Hookah eliminates the need to carry bulky scuba tanks aboard. Join cruisers Bob and Kaye on their many adventures in "Cruising with Bettie: L.A. to the Bahamas," a 51-minute cruising life-style video.

YouTubeCruising with Bettie is now available as a YouTube Rental for just $2.99 (US Only).
YouTubeRent our sailing documentaries at TheSailingChannel YouTube Documentary Playlist.

QuickTimeWindows Media Add to CartCruising with Bettie is available for purchase as a High Quality Windows Media or QuickTime Video Download for just $9.99. Click, pay with Paypal or your Credit Card, download and watch.

The complete 51-minute video will be saved to your PC or MAC where you can enjoy unlimited full screen plays. It also looks great on your large flatscreen TV and the QuickTime version plays on your iPad, iPod, or Android mobile device.
CWB DVD Box CoverThis is a fast-paced documentary, with gorgeous photography, that will give you a first hand look at the cruising lifestyle. Over 10,000 miles passed under Bettie’s keel since Bob and Kaye left Los Angeles in 2004. They sailed down the west coast to Panama, through the Canal, east to Cartagena, Columbia then north to Honduras and east across the Caribbean to the Bahamas.
Cruising with Bettie is also available on DVD for $24.95 (includes U.S. shipping) and $29.95 (includes international shipping).

Bob Steadman was a highly acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer. Sadly, Bob past away earlier this year. His last Hollywood gig was as technical consultant to the Director of Photography on the feature, Body of Lies directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo de Caprio and Russell Crowe. Check out Bob Steadman's screen credits on the Internet Movie Database. Bob's First Mate, Kaye is a Hollywood costume designer. Read all about them and their adventures in Bettie's Blog.

TheSailingChannel.TV Digital Download Machine
Sailing Documentaries from $2.99.

Be sure to subscribe via iTunes to receive free video podcasts for cruising sailors from


Cast Off for Catalina Video Cruising Guide - Trailer   


Cast Off for Catalina Video Cruising Guide
presents Cast Off for Catalina, the indispensable Video Cruising Guide to Catalina Island for boaters (and landlubbers too!) This video is a must-see before you sail and while you're there. It includes everything you need to know about cruising to tranquil Catalina island, just 20 miles from busy Los Angeles across the Santa Barbara Channel. The video covers mooring technique, anchoring, and a complete circumnavigation of the island describing the most popular harbors and anchorages. During the video, you'll visit Avalon Harbor, the Isthmus, Cherry and Fourth of July Coves, Howland's Landing, Emerald Bay, Catalina Harbor, Little Harbor, and many others. The video also takes you onshore to visit the quaint town of Avalon, the isthmus outpost of Two Harbors, and the picturesque interior where buffalo roam--decedents of a herd imported for a 1930's Western Movie. Cast Off for Catalina is produced by Mark Ritts and Ted Field, longtime creators, writers and producers of award-winning national television series and documentaries.
Check out our Cast Off Cruising Guide for Southern California on Vimeo on Demand. Includes both Cast Off for Catalina and Cast Off for Mexico.


Trailer: Cruising with Bettie Trailer: L.A. to the Bahamas   


Cruising with Bettie: L.A. to the BahamasTheSailingChannel presents a slice of the cruising lifestyle. Have you ever dreamt of "sailing off into the sunset?" Then join Bob and Kaye aboard their 36 foot sloop, "Bettie" as they cruise from Los Angeles to the Bahamas via the Panama Canal on the first leg of their sailing adventure. Cruising with Bettie is a 51-minute sailing/travel documentary available at
YouTubeCruising with Bettie is now available as a YouTube Rental for just $2.99 (US Only).
YouTubeRent our sailing documentaries at TheSailingChannel YouTube Documentary Playlist.
Cascade 36"Bettie" is based on a Cascade 36 hull. It was custom molded for Bob by Yacht Constructors in Portland Oregon back in 1978. Four years and lots and lots of man hours later Bob splashed her. "Bettie" has a raised freeboard that allows for a flush deck design. This is a fast-paced video, with gorgeous photography, that will give you a first hand look at the cruising lifestyle. Over 10,000 miles have passed under Bettie’s keel since Bob and Kaye left Los Angeles in 2004. They sailed down the west coast to Panama, through the Canal, east to Cartagena, Columbia then north to Honduras and east across the Caribbean to the Bahamas. That's the focus of this video.
Bob Steadman was a highly acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer. Sadly, Bob past away earlier this year. His last Hollywood gig was as technical consultant to the Director of Photography on the feature, Body of Lies directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo de Caprio and Russell Crowe. Check out Bob Steadman's screen credits on the Internet Movie Database. Bob's First Mate, Kaye is a Hollywood costume designer. Read all about them and their adventures in Bettie's Blog.
QuickTimeWindows Media Add to CartCruising with Bettie is available for purchase as a High Quality Windows Media or QuickTime Video Download for just $9.99. Click, pay with Paypal or your Credit Card, download and watch. The complete 51-minute video will be saved to your PC or MAC where you can enjoy unlimited full screen plays. It also looks great on your large flatscreen TV and the QuickTime version plays on your iPad, iPod, or Android mobile device.
CWB DVD Box Cover
Cruising with Bettie is also available on DVD for $24.95 (includes U.S. shipping) and $29.95 (includes international shipping).
TheSailingChannel.TV Digital Download Machine

Sailing Documentaries from $2.99.
Be sure to subscribe via iTunes to receive free video podcasts for cruising sailors from


The NFL’s all-time leading scorer is having a dreadful   


game in Los Angeles.Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point after a T.Y. Hilton touchdown catch in the first half and then missed a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Vinatieri hit a field goal in the third quarter , but hit an upright early in the fourth quarter from 29 yards out to leave the Colts with nothing to show for a productive offensive drive.It’s the first time in Vinatieri’s long career that he’s missed two field goals and an extra point in the same game. He missed four field goals and three extra points over the entire 2018 season.The Chargers took possession at the 20 and used big passing plays to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry to move inside the Colts’ 10-yard-line but safety Malik Hooker picked off Philip Rivers in the end zone to keep the Colts down 24-16. INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Suddenly, the Indianapolis Colts are creating a buzz around town.They ran the ball effectively Sunday against one of the league's top defenses, stymied two of the league's premier receivers in back-to-back weeks and ended Houston's nine-game win streak and Dallas' five-game win streak.Earning victories in their last two games could send the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time in four years and they could be a difficult matchup in the postseason, if they make it. "I can absolutely feel a significant difference in the last few weeks compared to the beginning of the year," coach Frank Reich said when asked about the atmosphere around town."Not that I get out very much because I don't, but the little bit I do T.Y. Hilton Jersey , the Starbucks in the morning or wherever it may be on a Friday night for dinner with my wife. You can feel the excitement by the fans and it's exciting for all of us here in the building. It's fun to see."It's been a long time coming for a team that seemed like an annual postseason lock for a 15-year span starting in 1999.When the Colts went 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2015, fans largely considered it an aberration because Andrew Luck missed nine games with injuries.Luck returned in 2016, but when the Colts again finished 8-8 and missed out, the debate changed. Many wondered if the team needed a fresh start and team owner Jim Irsay responded by firing general manager Ryan Grigson.Then with Luck missing all of last season to recuperate from surgery on his throwing shoulder, the Colts staggered to a 4-12 mark, missed the playoffs for the third straight year and coach Chuck Pagano was fired.Many outsiders figured the Colts needed a major overhaul, a perception that was reinforced by Josh McDaniels' decision to back out of a deal to become Indy's new head coach shortly after New England's Super Bowl loss Darius Leonard Color Rush Jersey , Luck's lingering rehab and Indy's 1-5 start this season.But general manager Chris Ballard and Reich, Indy's second choice as coach, have put together a winning combination by staying the course.The balanced offense Grigson and Pagano craved for so long finally materialized after Indy (8-6) found two key solutions to its offensive line woes in the draft — left guard Quenton Nelson and right tackle Braden Smith. Luck benefited by turning in the best season of his career and the Colts have overcome injuries to win seven of their past eight."A good leader will get guys to do what he wants them to do and believe in themselves whether you're 1-5 or 7-1 through the last eight games," offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said Tuesday."It's obviously his leadership abilities and then Frank being an example of what we want players to be. What I mean by that, is that we want players to be the same guy every single day. … Frank definitely does that because he is the same guy every day."The defense might be the biggest surprise.After years of languishing near the bottom of the league rankings, first-year coordinator Matt Eberflus has worked wonders.Originally hired by McDaniels and inherited by Reich, with a strong recommendation from Ballard , the Colts made Pro Bowl receivers Amari Cooper and DeAndre Hopkins look ordinary the past two weeks while holding NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott to 87 yards rushing and pitching their first shutout in more than four years on Sunday.They've consistently put pressure on quarterbacks, forced turnovers and against the Cowboys delivered big play after big play with a simple philosophy — run to the ball."Hustle is a learned skill," Eberflus said. "It is the coach's job to stay on it with the player to give him the feedback on every single play. That starts way back in OTAs (offseason team activities, all the way through minicamp and then through training camp every single play."Now comes the hard part — finishing strong.A victory over the struggling Giants, coupled with a loss by either Pittsburgh or Baltimore this weekend, would give the Colts control of their destiny in the season finale at Tennessee (8-6), a team Luck has never lost to as a starter.It's enough to get everybody outside the locker room talking about potential playoff matchups for the first time in four years."We're playing great football Clayton Geathers Jersey ," receiver T.Y. Hilton said after Indy's most recent victory. "Right now, you're either the train or you're on the tracks. Right now, we're rolling, so you better get on the train."Notes: Indy put starting defensive tackle Al Woods (foot) and backup linebacker Skai Moore on injured reserve Tuesday. Safety J.J. Wilcox was signed to the active roster, taking the spot of Woods. Former Indiana University star linebacker Tegray Scales was added to the practice squad.


LA LA LA + 2 Shows !   


Hello friends!
It's been too long.  A lot has happened.  I had a baby.  I'm a crazy, disheveled mom now, with a new album I'd love to share with you.   And this one is super special because.... it's a children's album!  But not your typical "wheels on the bus" children's album.  These are songs I wrote, in my normal, trying-to-be-adult-like, "Priscilla Ahn" style, but with the intention of singing these messages to children.  It's still very much meant for grown ups, but also (hopefully) appeals to kids and babies! I recorded these songs in my used-to-be studio, which is now my son's nursery. (my office has exploded into a new room that needs major organizing!).  I recorded these songs while I was pregnant.  Some songs induced more baby kicking than others.  When writing and recording the album, I pictured my tiny, soon-to-be son, I pictured children around the world, and I pictured you.

This has truly been a labor of love, and a dream come true to make.  I didn't have the heart (or wherewithal) to try and raise money to make this album.  I just hope that people will buy it for themselves, and if they like it, tell their friends to buy it.  Plus!  If you're feeling super retro and decide to purchase the actual disc, there's an adorable mini lyric coloring book inside!!! 
The release date is October 28th!  

You can pre-order HERE

- - - TOUR DATES - - -

San Francisco | 10/19 | Swedish American Music Hall 
You can buy tickets HERE 
Los Angeles | 10/21 | Largo
You can buy tickets HERE 

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