Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eyewitness New Orleans -- As Hurricane Gustav Bears Down

PSL Presidential Candidate Gloria La Riva reports from Louisiana

Tomorrow, the people of New Orleans and the wider area again face the possibility of catastrophic disaster. While the government's evacuation is demonstrably better than that of Katrina, the physical damage to homes and the infrastructure could exceed that of Katrina. Storm surges of 18-feet to 24-feet of water are expected. Officials on TV have said that they've strengthened the levees only to Hurricane Category 3 strength, while Gustav is likely to hit as a Category 4. Almost all of New Orleans is below sea level.
New Orleans housing struggle In the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans residents saw hundreds of public housing units demolished, never to be replaced.
The for-profit, "free market" disaster response—which resulted in tragedy three years ago—has already again rose its ugly head. All of New Orleans will be on lockdown this afternoon. 50,000 soldiers from the National Guard have been activated in the region. The police of several parishes, including Jefferson and Kenner, have warned that anyone in the street will be "challenged." During Katrina, Jefferson police shot and killed a group of people driving on the bridge. This morning, the Kenner police chief, Steve Caraway, said, "if you are arrested, you will not go to a county jail. You will be taken to Angola prison." As those around him smirked, Mayor Ray Nagin made the same promise at a press conference this morning. Yesterday, we visited the Harvey Canal, where construction has quite obviously not been completed. There are still holes in the wall, and the hurricane could thus fill up the Mississippi's west bank. Harvey is the district right next to New Orleans. Despite the major evacuation plan, the federal government's failure to carry out levee strengthening to a sufficient capacity means that the natural disaster's damage will be multiplied due to the government's criminal neglect. Campaign Organizer Richard Becker and I spent the night and this morning at the house of Malik Rahim, the co-founder of the Common Ground Collective, an organization whose volunteer reconstruction and health programs have served tens of thousands of people. Malik lives in Algiers, which is on the west bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Since the Mississippi runs a twisted and meandering eastward route through New Orleans, the West Bank is actually the South Side. Algiers was not affected by flooding in Katrina, but predictions are that it could suffer major flooding now. Malik, like nearly everyone in New Orleans, has no flood insurance. Malik is just one example of what hundreds of thousands of people could suffer. Malik's house could be flooded and there is nothing he can do. In some parishes, there were only ten sandbags per household available. All his personal belongings may be destroyed. We are doing what we can in the hours remaining. Most everyone we saw leaving had their singular vehicles filled with family members and small amounts of personal items. People who evacuate have to bring their own bedding and food to the shelter. There's no more gasoline available anywhere. At Malik's house, we have been loading up several trucks and carloads of tools, equipment, a refrigerator, a stove, a freezer and other supplies. He will first evacuate to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and then he will travel to wherever the damage is greatest. His plan is to camp with a group of volunteers from Common Ground and begin reconstruction efforts. The volunteers are blocked from entering Algiers right now, so they cannot help evacuate the supplies from Malik's house. Our plan is to drive with Malik to the Lower Ninth Ward with one of his vehicles, where others will leave with him to Mississippi. After we leave Malik in the Lower Ninth ward, we will head to Baton Rouge, the state capital. We came to Louisiana several days ago and completed the paperwork to get our presidential campaign on the ballot here. It may be very difficult to get to Baton Rouge because of the impending storm, and closed off roads, but Tuesday, Sept. 2, is the deadline to submit to the Secretary of State. Traveling through the state these last few days, one cannot avoid the depth of poverty and isolation—the profound legacy of racism and oppression that extends far before Hurricane Katrina. A newspaper story in the Louisiana daily paper this week stated that adult illiteracy is as high as 44 percent in New Orleans. The story that the politicians and pundits are running with is that the governmental authorities have "learned the lesson" of Katrina, and that FEMA is now fully ready for such disasters. But the real legacy of Katrina is not just of governmental incompetence or of a non-existent evacuation plan. Rather, those crimes have been compounded by three years of systematic exclusion of the poor, mostly Black, communities here. As Louisiana human rights lawyer Bill Quigley recently reported, not a single renter in Louisiana has received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina Road Home Community Development Block Grant. Not a single apartment has been built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished in St. Bernard. The Gulf Coast became a test case for a massive corporate-controlled gentrification scheme that left the state with 46,000 fewer African American voters. The corporations—backed by the federal and local government—have indeed learned a lesson from Katrina: that natural disasters are opportunities for immense profit. Can we expect these same institutions to change their priorities, and suddenly decide to put people's needs first? Needless to say, we have to be prepared for a mighty struggle to make sure that all displaced people of the Gulf Coast be allowed to return, and so that they receive unconditional and comprehensive assistance during this time of hardship.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police Conduct Massive Raids, Arrests, Property Seizures at RNC; Demos to Go On

Let me be perfectly clear here--all of us here are planning nonviolent protests against an administration which is responsible for immense violence, bombs that have destroyed whole countries, and hundreds of thousands of deaths. This is the America that eight years of the Bush administration have brought us, a place where dissent is no longer tolerated, where pre-emptive strikes have become the strategy of choice for those who hold power, where any group can be accused of `bombmaking' or `terrorism' on no evidence whatsoever in order to deter dissent. Please stand with us. Because it could be your home they are raiding, next. Call the Mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Tell them you are outraged by these attacks on dissent. Urge them to let Poor People encamp and to let dissent be heard. FLOOD THE MAYORS' OFFICES ASAP St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman 651-266-8510 * Lydia Howell Saturday Aug 30th, 2008 6:31 PM
Anti-RNC Activists respond to police raids by Lydia Howell Aug. 30, 2008 3pm Minneapolis, MN
Ramsey County Sheriffs Department didn't stop with their raid and shut down of anarchist protest group, RNC-Welcoming Committee's St. Paul convergence center on Friday, August 29. From around 9am to noon, on Saturday morning they crossed the river to hit at least three homes in south Minneapolis. Activists are calling for the peace and justice community to come to a press conference at 4pm today (Saturday) at the RNC-WC Convergence Center, in St. Paul, to condemn the raids. Word went out via the Internet and cell phone messages and about 150 activists gathered at Powderhorn Park to share eye witness accounts of the raids and plan the activist community responses. Eyewitnesses described being made to lie on the floor for hours and that police had a broad search warrant that netted no weapons at all. However, police seized lap top computers, a big laminated St. Paul map, and political literature. A St. Paul building inspector on the scene closed the building Friday night. After St. Paul City Council-member, Dave Thune expressed objections, the center at 627 Smith Avenue South, at Wyoming, is being allowed to reopen Saturday afternoon. Four RNC-WC members were arrested and are being held without bail on various "conspiracy" charges. Civil liberties advocates note that such a charge is termed "the prosecutor's friend", as "conspiracy" often amounts to little more than allegations with no concrete evidence. At the Powderhorn Park gathering, news of the south Minneapolis raids continued to come in. The raided homes were: Food Not Bombs home, at 23rd Avenue; the Harriet House on 35th Avenue; a home on 17th Avenue, where three arrests were made, including one with no bail for "probable cause". The search warrant for the raids included such items as: puppets, nails,, screws, electronic equipment fromm cell phones to I-pods, vegetable oil, and "gray water". A building inspector at the house on 1734-17th Avenue South was said to have ordered the home boarded closed. Minneapolis City Council-members, Elizabeth Glidden and Cam Gordon were being contacted about the raids on homes in their wards. Longtime activist and south Minneapolis resident Dave Bicking said he observed "Police were taking mattress pads and other items out of the garage" of one of the raided houses. Another activist said she returned home Friday evening from the St. Paul raid to find her garage broken into. Since expensive athletic equipment remained untouched, while file boxes were strewn about, she felt law enforcement were responsible. Undercover law enforcement had been at the activists health center and legal assistance space, but, by noon had left. Ramsey County Sheriffs issued a press statement, that National Lawyers Guild member Jordan Kushner, read to the gathering, which included allegations not substantiated by any specifics, such as calling the RNC-WC "a criminal enterprise intent on criminal acts before and after the Republican National Convention". "We now know how St. Paul intends to respond to the people exercising our rights of free speech--with an abuse of power, "said one spokeswoman to the crowd of mostly young people at Powderhorn. "But, we also have our power to act and we call on the community to stand with us and condemn these actions. We will not be stopped by these raids. We will be in the streets on Monday." The press conference will be at 4pm, Saturday, Aug. 30 at the RNC-WC Convergence Center at 627 Smith Avenue South in St. Paul. http://www.nornc.org RNC protesters Legal Help Hotline number is: 651.356.8635. Housing of out-of-town activists remains needed. If you can help: Housing Number, 612.419.7809. In order to expedite housing arrangements,we are hoping to shift from the housing board to this number. If you have housing to offer, please email wc_orientation [at] riseup.net Lydia Howell is producer/host of Catalyst on KFAI Radio and an independent Minneapolis journalist.

Saturday

Eternity He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sun rise. William Blake

Friday, August 29, 2008

Great Speeches and Interviews: Peace & Freedom Presidential Candidates

MP3

California: Citibank Stole $14 Million from its Customers

Bank agrees to stop illegal 'sweeps,' make refunds

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has reached a settlement with Citibank after a three-year investigation into the company’s use of an illegal “account sweeping” program.

Nationally, the company took more than $14 million from its customers, including $1.6 million from California residents, through the use of a computer program that wrongfully swept positive account balances from credit-card customer accounts into Citibank’s general fund, Brown said.

“The company knowingly stole from its customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased, when it designed and implemented the sweeps,” Brown said. “When a whistleblower uncovered the scam and brought it to his superiors, they buried the information and continued the illegal practice.”

Between 1992 and 2003, Citibank employed a computerized “credit sweep” process to automatically remove positive or credit balances from credit-card customer accounts.

An account could show a credit balance if a customer double-paid a bill or returned a purchase for credit. The credit sweeps were done without notifying the customer and without regard for whether the customer had any unpaid balances or other charges owed to Citibank.

The credit sweeps targeted more than 53,000 customers nationwide. All of the affected accounts were in a recovery status, which includes accounts of customers who have died, sought bankruptcy protection, or been the target of litigation or other collection efforts by Citibank.

In July of 2001, a Citibank employee uncovered the practice and brought it to the attention of his superiors. The employee was later fired for discussing the credit sweeps with an internal audit team.

In the words of a Citibank executive, “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool, Brown charged.

The attorney general's office launched its investigation of Citibank in 2005 to determine whether the company violated the California False Claims Act by filing false holder reports with the California State Controller that omitted any reference to the swept funds. The 3-year investigation led to today’s settlement.

The settlement includes: • Permanent injunction – Citibank will be permanently prevented from re-initiating the credit sweeps. • Refunds to victims – Citibank will refund all improperly swept funds to customers who were victimized by the sweeps. Citibank will also pay California customers 10% interest on the amount taken. • Penalties – Citibank will pay $3.5 million in damages and civil penalties to the State of California. • Compliance audit – After Citibank’s refund process is complete, an independent auditor will review Citibank’s work to ensure that it has lived up to its obligations.

Citibank has affirmed that it can identify most of the victims of the credit sweeps and has begun the process of reviewing archived account data and refunding the improperly swept funds going back to 1992.

New York Charges

Earlier this month, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. and Citi Smith Barney have agreed to settle allegations stemming from its marketing and sales of auction rate securities. The firm marketed and sold auction rate securities as safe, cash-equivalent products, when in fact they faced increasing liquidity risk, a number of states alleged.

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo hailed the agreement as a turning point for investors nationwide seeking relief from the collapse of the auction rate securities market.

"The settlement sends a resounding message to the entire auction rate securities industry: this type of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated and we will actively seek justice on behalf of investors in auction rate securities," said Cuomo. "Our goal is simple: to get investors back their money, and that's exactly what this deal does."

Under the settlement, Citigroup has agreed to buy back, no later than November 5, 2008, all illiquid auction rate securities from all Citigroup retail customers, charities, and small to mid-sized businesses. These customers, who number approximately 40,000 nationwide, have been unable to sell their securities since February 12, 2008. Their securities are worth more than $7 billion.

Citigroup will also:

• fully reimburse all retail investors who sold their auction rate securities at a discount after the market failed;

• consent to a special, public arbitration process to resolve claims of consequential damages suffered by retail investors as a result of not being able to access their funds;

• undertake to expeditiously provide liquidity solutions to all other institutional investors; and

• reimburse all refinancing fees to any New York State municipal issuer who issued auction rate securities through Citigroup since August 1, 2007.

In addition, Citigroup will pay a $50 million civil penalty to the State of New York. The penalty embraces both Citigroup's substantive conduct and its failure to properly comply with its obligations under the Attorney General's Martin Act subpoena.

Citigroup also will pay a separate civil penalty of $50 million to the North American Securities Administrators Association, whose ARS Task Force has been conducting its own series of investigations into the marketing and sale of auction rate securities by broker-dealer firms.


Stewart & Colbert they know what REAL News is! Ralph Nader

August 28, 2008 MSNBC


No Democracy in Denver: Cops Attack Protesters at the Democratic National Convention

Larry Hales and John Parker of the International Action Center standing up to the Denver Police lines outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver during the week of August 25, 2008. Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
No democracy in Denver Cops attack protesters at DNC: Emergency news conference exposes gov’t terror By LeiLani Dowell Denver Published Aug 27, 2008 9:19 PM Denver police have used violence and mass arrests in an attempt to silence dissent during the Democratic National Convention. However, organizers and activists have put the city and police on notice that their intimidation tactics will not work. Several hundred activists were gathered in Civic Center Park on Aug. 25, where the Recreate 68 Alliance (Recreate68.org) has a permit for a week of actions during the DNC. At about 6 p.m., Denver police began massing in groups, encircling the park. Squads then began to march through the park, pushing and kicking people as they passed. One group of heavily-armed police lined up directly across from the Troops Out Now Coalition table. At about 7:00, a group of mostly young people responded by chanting “No justice, no peace!” The police charged the group, hitting several of them with pepper spray. Attempting to get away from the club-swinging police, the group moved onto Cleveland Street, joined by many others from the park. Police then closed off both ends of the block, entrapping the group as well as many bystanders. They began hitting people with their nightsticks and using pepper spray and pepper balls. One young protester, Martin, told the Denver Post, “We moved to the sidewalk—a few people stayed in the street—because we didn’t want a confrontation, but it didn’t matter. People started pleading: ‘Let me go. I want to go home.’ ... “Some of the police on horses were whacking people with their batons. I was told later that the police were telling us to disperse, but I didn’t hear them say that. And where would we go? The police were all around us, not letting us leave.” TONC organizer and Navy veteran Dustin Langley was among those trapped on the street between the police lines. He noted that spirits remained high, saying: “Street medics took care of those who had been pepper sprayed, and we shared water and made sure everyone was okay. We continued chanting and singing. At one point, we sang ‘Solidarity Forever’. One group of activists chanted at the cops: ‘Who do you protect? Who do you serve?’” After more than an hour, the solidarity of those on the streets and negotiations by Recreate 68 organizers won the release of most of those trapped on the block. At least 85, however, were placed in metal shackles and arrested. They were denied access to attorneys while at the detention center, and many were bullied into making a guilty plea in order to get released. Martin said, “Now, because of the plea bargain, I’m free but on probation. I can’t join any more marches, or do anything illegal in the next six months, or I’ll get five days in jail on top of the other charges.” The next day the police continued their attempts to intimidate those protesting the DNC. Heavily-armed police continued to mass around the park, and squads of horse-mounted cops rode through the park several times. At about 9 a.m., the right-wing bigot Fred Phelps entered the park, spewing a homophobic hate speech. A Recreate 68 organizer, Carlo Garcia, told him to leave. The Denver police responded by arresting Garcia, who has two brothers in Iraq. When Code Pink organizer Alicia Forrest questioned Garcia’s arrest, she was knocked to the ground by police and arrested as well. Organizers with the Recreate 68 Alliance and TONC called an emergency press conference in front of police headquarters to take a public stand against these tactics and respond to distortions in the corporate media, which portrayed the protesters as the initiators of violence. Glenn Spagnuolo, one of the cofounders of the Recreate 68 Alliance, put the mayor, police chief and Denver Police Department on notice that he and other organizers are meeting with attorneys to move forward with legal action. He noted several major protest-related lawsuits, such as those in New York and Washington, which have cost local governments millions of dollars. Larry Hales, a leader of the Recreate 68 Alliance and of the youth group FIST (Fight Imperialism Stand Together), noted that any violence that has occurred was initiated by the Denver police. Recreate 68 demands all police be removed from the park. Hales stated that since Recreate 68 has a permit to hold its activity in the Civic Center Park, the police have no business there. Other speakers at the press conference included Brian Vicente of the Peoples Law Project; Ben Kaufman, who described the arrest of Carlo Garcia; Sally Newman of Code Pink; and Mark Cohen, a Recreate 68 cofounder, who questioned the role of the Democratic Party in suppressing civil liberties and attempting to silence protest. Following the press conference, organizers returned to Civic Center Park, where they joined hundreds of activists from around the country determined to continue in the spirit of resistance and protest.

*Pondering Sesame Street Characters* Part 1

Today finally seemed like the right day to find out what happened to the original Gordon....

Matt Robinson

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Matt Robinson
Born Matthew Thomas "Matt" Robnson Jr. January 1, 1937 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died August 5, 2002 (aged 65) Los Angeles, California
Spouse(s) Dolores Robinson

Matthew Thomas "Matt" Robinson, Jr. (January 1, 1937August 5, 2002) was an American actor. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on New Year's Day in 1937, he was the first actor to portray the character of Gordon Robinson, on the long-running children's TV program Sesame Street. When Sesame Street began in 1969, not only did Robinson play Gordon, but he also provided the voice of the puppet Roosevelt Franklin and also was one of the show's producers. He left the show in 1972. In later years, when producers needed a last name for the Gordon character, then played by Roscoe Orman, they used Matt's last name.

He wrote and produced the films Save the Children and Amazing Grace in the early 1970s, and authored scripts for Sanford and Son and Eight Is Enough. In 1983, he joined the staff of the NBC's The Cosby Show as a producer and staff writer. By that time, he was beginning to show symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, but stayed with the show for seven seasons despite the difficulty; however, he ultimately succumbed to the disease on August 5, 2002 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 65.

He is survived by his daughter, actress Holly Robinson Peete (21 Jump Street, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, For Your Love), son Matt Robinson III, his wife, Dolores Robinson, and five grandchildren.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sean Penn Hit it Out of the Park

Sean Penn Hit it Out of the Park .

Last night in Denver was a wild party for democracy.

Four thousand people jammed into Magness Arena.

Sean Penn hit it out of the ballpark.

Tom Morello sang a glorious version of Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land.

Cindy Sheehan ripped into the dastardly twins (Democrats and Republicans).

Two new supporters came out of the woodwork to support Nader/Gonzalez.

When we asked for donations, Brooke Smith, star of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, rose out of the crowd, took the stage, pledged her support -- and $4,600 -- to the Nader/Gonzalez campaign.

Then we had another convert.

A 21-year-old African American from Phoenix -- Rev. Jarrett Maupin -- gave an eloquent speech as to why he's breaking with the Democratic Party, and vowed to organize the Latino and African American communities for Nader/Gonzalez.

And off course, Ralph laid it on the line, as usual.

Free Speech TV was slammed.

So, few people were able to watch on line.

Our apologies.

But Free Speech TV says they will put up highlights from the rally up on its website soon.

So, take a peek at this amazing show, and then get the DVD (see below).

As you know, we're in the middle of a fundraising drive to raise $100,000 by September 4.

We're off to a great start, hovering around $25,000 in just four days.

But we have to crank it up to meet our goal (we haven't missed one yet -- good job troops).

Let's get it done.

Remember, if you give $100 or more now, we'll send you three DVDs -- the Denver rally, the Minneapolis rally, and a special debate DVD. (Three DVD offer ends September 4 at 11:59 p.m.)

Onward to November.

The Nader Team

Amy Interviews Ralph....DN this morning

AMY GOODMAN: While Senator Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night, he was not the only presidential contender in town. Independent candidate Ralph Nader held a rally on Wednesday at the University of Denver, calling for an end to corporate control over the presidential debates. The longtime consumer advocate is making his third run for the White House.

Nader has been a vocal critic of the policies of both John McCain and Barack Obama. When Obama selected Joe Biden to be his running mate, Nader dubbed Biden the “MasterCard Senator” because of his close ties to the credit card industry. Biden was a key architect of the 2005 bankruptcy law which made it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy protection. Nader has also criticized Biden for helping to create the modern drug war by pushing the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act.

Ralph Nader joins us here in Denver at Free Speech TV’s studios. Welcome to Democracy Now!

RALPH NADER: Thank you, Amy. Actually, it’s only three times, run for president, as our website votenader.org points out.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you doing it this year? A lot of people got angry at you last time, even the time before, though last time was key.

RALPH NADER: It’s amazing how people can say that, when in the same breath they will criticize the Democrat and Republican parties for being pro-war parties, pro-corporate parties, pro-military-industrial complex parties.

You know, why are we doing this? We’re doing this to give voters a broader choice of agendas and to bring a younger generation in. At our rally last night, it was just magnificent to see young people in their early twenties get up on that stage and, with very articulate performances, show what’s coming.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, it was not only you as a presidential candidate there. Bob Barr was represented in a videotape, and Rosa Clemente, the Green vice-presidential candidate, along with Cynthia McKinney, who is the presidential candidate—

RALPH NADER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente also spoke. What was the point of your rally last night?

RALPH NADER: The point was, and why we did what almost nobody ever does at the presidential candidacy level, bringing on competitors, so to speak, third-party and independent candidates, is to try to break the grip of this corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates that the two major parties created in 1987 and control. And they don’t want anyone else on the stage, and that means that there’s no way to get to tens of millions of people, unless you’re a multibillionaire like Perot, no way to get to tens of millions of people, no matter how many states we campaign in, no matter how many giant arenas we fill. It’s less than two percent of what we would reach if we were on just one debate. Now, we’re at six, seven, eight percent in the latest CNN polls—seven percent in Colorado—with no mass mainstream television media.

AMY GOODMAN: This is the latest poll that came out this week?

RALPH NADER: Yes, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain again. And in what states?

RALPH NADER: In states like New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, we’re coming in at six, seven, eight percent. NBC national news, ABC national news, CBS national news—total blackout since February 24th. And we’re still doing that well. So we could turn it into a three-way race, if we were really on those three presidential debates, or if Google or Yahoo! or veterans’ groups, who all wanted to sponsor their own debates and deliver millions of viewers would get the cooperation of Obama and McCain.

It’s really interesting to see a difference here. McCain offered ten town meetings to Obama. Obama said no. Google wants a—let’s see, a September 18th debate in New Orleans. McCain said OK, Obama said no. A veterans’ group coalition out of Fort Hood, Texas, they wanted a debate. McCain said OK, Obama says no. Isn’t that amazing?

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the candidates that—particularly that spoke last night. Yesterday was an interesting scene in Denver. Thousands of people were in the streets protesting, led by soldiers who had returned from Iraq, Iraq Veterans Against the War. They—we’re going to play a clip of that protest later. It was mounting pressure through the day, the question of whether the riot police would actually teargas them. They were all lined up. Their helmets were on their face. Coverings were on. But ultimately, Obama’s people came out to talk with them, which is actually all they were asking for at that point.

Biden accepted the vice-presidential nomination. You spoke in a different part of Denver. Joseph Biden—what do you think of him as the vice-presidential candidate for Barack Obama?

RALPH NADER: Well, he’s going to be, probably, an effective attack dog against the Republicans. But what we call him is “Senator Plastic,” because he is the champion of the credit card industry. MBNA is in Delaware. It’s a huge credit card company. It’s given more than $200,000 to Joe Biden over his career. And he championed, almost shamelessly, the anti-consumer bankruptcy law that his fellow colleague, Senator Chris Dodd, who’s the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, called, quote, “the worst bill ever,” end-quote.

And what it did, unlike corporate bankruptcy, it really squeezed people who had to go into bankruptcy because of medical bills or because they lost their job, as Professor Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School pointed out. Those are the two main reasons for bankruptcy. It squeezed them horribly. And this paved the way for predatory lenders to shift the burden on these hapless borrowers in the subprime home mortgage crisis, as they call it. He’s got a lot to answer for. He tries to say he moderated the bill, and it couldn’t have been worse.

But he’s very corporate. He comes from Delaware, which is in—has always been in a race to the bottom to weaken corporate charter laws, which is why so many of the giant corporations are strangely chartered in Delaware over the years, like the big New York banks or General Motors. We want to use that to raise the whole issue of what Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were proposing a hundred years ago, which is federal chartering of giant corporations. Take it away from the states like Delaware, rewrite the compact between the people and these artificial entities, and hopefully take away some of the constitutional rights to lobby and to engage in politics of these artificial entities, because they’re not human beings, they don’t vote, and they shouldn’t have these constitutional rights.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. Senator Joe Biden himself is one of the least wealthy members of the Senate.

RALPH NADER: Yes. That’s a commendable impression that he’s going to give. You know, he’s just a working fellow from Scranton, Pennsylvania, takes the train from Wilmington back and forth. And that is commendable. But on the other hand, look who he’s standing up for: these giant corporations and the shameless drug war act, with just, you know, mandatory minimum sentences that have filled the jails, so we now have more prisoners in our jails, nonviolent drug offenders, than—per capita than anybody, any country in the world, including China. I mean, we don’t send nicotine addicts or alcoholics to jail. Why are we sending people who have drug addictions to jail?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you are calling on some people to be jailed, but we’re going to find out just who those people are—

RALPH NADER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —in a minute. We’re talking to Ralph Nader. He’s an independent presidential candidate, just held a super rally last night for a number of independent presidential candidates. He’s here in Denver and then is headed to St. Paul for a similar rally next week in the midst of the Republican National Convention. We’re also going to bring you a piece about the protests that built through yesterday on the streets of Denver. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. He has run for president three times. Maybe I confused you with Eugene V. Debs. He ran five times?

RALPH NADER: He ran five times, with the statement: better to vote for someone you believe in and lose than to vote for someone you don’t believe in and win who will certainly betray you. That’s a very, very important thing for voters to consider when they decide what they’re going to—

AMY GOODMAN: He was also disappointed with the American people, in terms of activism.

RALPH NADER: Yeah. Yeah, a remarkable statement. A reporter asked him, “What’s your biggest regret?” at the end of his great career as a labor leader. And Eugene Debs said, “My greatest regret is that, under our Constitution, the American people can have almost anything they want, but it just seems they don’t want much of anything at all.”

Fast-forward to 1945. We were the biggest power in the world after World War II. Western Europe was devastated, but those people pushed and got, by law, universal healthcare, decent pensions, living wage, decent public transit, paid vacation, paid maternity leave, paid family sick leave, university free education. They got it, by law.

Sixty-three years later, these two parties, the Republican and Democratic parties, still have not given the American people what people in western Europe got decades ago. So we’re trying to raise the expectation level, Amy, of the American people. If they become cynical and withdraw, which is what cynicism does, then they’re going to lose their country. These giant corporations that hijacked our government are tearing the heart and soul out of America.

AMY GOODMAN: Dennis Kucinich addressed the Democratic convention. In the news we have from The Hill newspaper—he gave a fiery speech.

RALPH NADER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: He criticized war profiteering, the oil giants, Wall Street, drug companies and, most of all, the Bush administration, which he said invaded Iraq for oil. But Obama staffers redacted one line suggesting Republicans should be jailed. The line read, quote, “They’re asking for another four years. In a just world, they’d get ten to twenty.”

RALPH NADER: Yeah. I mean, that’s the tragedy of Dennis Kucinich. Now, he’s done by February or March. The primaries are over. He will not at all support the Nader-Gonzalez campaign. I mean, he doesn’t have to endorse us. We can’t even get his mailing list. And I say, “Dennis, we’re the only people who are going to take your proposals to November.”

Imagine the Democrats—in 2004, they were prohibited from criticizing Bush at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and now, in 2008, they don’t want to raise the issue of criminal recidivism in the White House, the most impeachable presidency and vice presidency in our history—torture, incarcerating people without charges, the criminal war of aggression in Iraq, spying on millions of Americans without judicial approval. That’s a five-year jail term. That’s a first-class felony. So the Democrats are really abandoning the rule of law, abandoning the Constitution and its impeachment provisions. And they ought to be taken into account. But, you know, Dennis got virtually—he got nothing in the platform. They won’t give him a comma in the Democratic national platform.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to in the Democratic platform? What isn’t there? What is there?

RALPH NADER: They ignore the need for a massive crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse, which even the mainstream media, Wall Street Journal and others, are reporting. They’re allowing a bloated military budget to devour the federal budget away from public works and the necessities of the American people. We have no more Soviet Union. They don’t even mention consumer protection in any way. You can’t get them to talk about shifting the tax burden to security speculation and things we like the least or dislike the most. You can’t get them to do anything, other than homilies and hope and change and all that nonsense, when the central issue of this campaign has got to be the corporate domination of our political economy and our government.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what you would do if you became president? What are the first actions that you would take?

RALPH NADER: Well, I call them the first-stage improvements. Full Medicare for all—I mean, sixty-some years after Harry Truman proposed it, it’s about time. It would save a lot of lives, by the way. A living wage—you know, they don’t even talk about living wage. If the minimum wage in 1968 was adjusted for inflation, the way members of Congress do their salaries, it would be $10 an hour. Do you know what the federal minimum wage is? It just rose to this level of $6.55 in July, last month. It’s disgraceful. One out of every three—one out of every three full-time American workers is making Wal-Mart wages. You can’t provide for the necessities, the barest necessities of your family, that way.

This used to be the party of the working people, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It’s turning into a toady of giant business. They can’t ever even use the words “corporate crime” or “corporate welfare” or the taxpayers bailing out crooks routinely on Wall Street and other places around the country. This is a bankrupt party. And Dennis Kucinich, in effect, has been told, “Well, you can have your little speech, Dennis, but you’re going to jump in line and salute.”

AMY GOODMAN: When you’re talking about matters of life and death, John McCain says the US could be in Iraq for a hundred years.

RALPH NADER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Barack Obama says he wants to pull out a number of the troops within the first sixteen months.

RALPH NADER: Yeah. Well, his military adviser said that means they’ll keep 50,000 or more soldiers, US soldiers, in Iraq in the military bases. We have twenty-two military bases in Iraq, and three of them are like the Battleship Galactica.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you say has to happen right away on that issue? What could you do?

RALPH NADER: Six months, negotiate withdrawal, all military and corporate forces from Iraq, continued humanitarian aid, UN-sponsored elections, and negotiating with the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, what they did in the 1950s, a certain amount of autonomy within the unified Iraq that they all want.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to tell our viewers and listeners that in the other hour of Democracy Now!—we’ve expanded to two hours, and if you don’t get to see or hear that other hour, you can go to our website at democracynow.org—in that other hour, we played a piece by Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestselling book Blackwater. He went on the floor and saw Henry Waxman, the powerful House chair, House Congress member. And Waxman has called on Obama, if he becomes president, to end military contracts with Blackwater.

RALPH NADER: And Obama has indicated that he’s simply not going to do that. You know what the dilemma for Obama is? He’s inheriting war criminals: Bush and Cheney. In all kinds of ways, they’ve been committing daily war crimes. At what point does he become a war criminal? If he does not issue executive orders and say no to what the regime has been doing and torture and incarceration and wiretapping and a criminal war, an unconstitutional war in Iraq, that’s—he’s got to think about that, his advisers have got to think about that, because he is going to inherit and pursue and be culpable for these war crimes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, Ralph Nader, for joining us. Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate and corporate critic, he is running for president for the third time on the Independent ticket. Last question: why not the Green Party ticket? Why didn’t you go for the nomination? Cynthia McKinney won that nomination.

RALPH NADER: Because it’s just too disorganized. They can’t—they can’t put it together. They bicker a lot, and they drive out a lot of good Greens who want to focus on agendas. I wish them well. I wish Cynthia McKinney well. I wish people would continue to support us and send contributions to votenader.org. But the liberal, progressive press, if they do not support those of us who are taking their agenda inside the presidential election arena—a propos my letter to Jim Hightower, Bill Greider and Bob Kuttner—they’re going nowhere. They’re just whistling in the dark. And most of them, with the exception of John Nichols, have been ignoring or actually undermining the Nader-Gonzalez campaign. So we’re going to generate this kind of debate within what I like to call the liberal intelligentsia.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader.


BRAZIL: Start of Landmark Case Bodes Well for Indigenous People

By Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 28 (IPS) - A Brazilian Supreme Court hearing on a landmark case got off on a positive footing for the indigenous people who live in the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation in northern Brazil. The Court, which will set an important legal precedent when it decides the fate of the reservation in the Amazon jungle along Brazil’s northern border, delayed the final decision when one of the judges asked for a recess to further investigate the case, on the first day of the hearing Wednesday. Magistrate Carlos Ayres de Britto, the first and only judge to have voted so far, used the Portuguese word "esbulho" (dispossession or unlawful possession) to describe the occupation of parts of the reservation by non-indigenous landowners who want to break up the 1.7 million hectare reserve in order to hold on to the land that they farm. The demarcation of the reservation as one continuous tract of land in the state of Roraima, on the border with Venezuela and Guyana, was signed into law in 2005 by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In his vote, Britto rejected the complaint brought by two senators from Roraima state with the backing of local government authorities, landowners and even factions of the indigenous groups. He said the reservation must remain intact in order to live up to the constitutional rights of the 19,000 members of five indigenous groups who share the territory. The Supreme Court ruling will be decisive not only for the people of Raposa Serra do Sol but for a large part of the indigenous people living in areas disputed by landowners and ranchers in Brazil. Native groups, indigenous rights activists and environmentalists fear that a verdict in favour of breaking up the reservation could also open up to legal challenges dozens of other indigenous territories that have already been demarcated. The position taken by Britto, who spoke for nearly two hours, represents more than just one vote on the 11-judge panel. The next magistrate in line to vote, Carlos Alberto Direito, asked for more time to look into the case, after praising Britto’s broad knowledge of the matter. The president of the Supreme Court, Gilmar Mendes, said he hoped a verdict would be handed down before year-end. The legal challenge to the demarcation of Raposa Serra do Sol defends the "acquired rights" of landowners, mainly rice farmers, who lay claim to property within the reservation. Joenia de Carvalho, the first female indigenous lawyer to make a presentation at a Supreme Court hearing, said the farmers, who she described as "invaders" of traditionally indigenous areas, have caused land conflicts in the reservation in which "21 leaders have been killed and many houses have been burned down." Since 1996, these "supposed owners" have had no right to the land they occupy, said Britto, who said the unlawful possession of the land was proven by notary records that show irregular growth of the property in the hands of the landowners by means of murky sales, mergers and divisions in the 1980s and 1990s. Former Supreme Court justice and foreign minister Francisco Rezek, representing the Roraima state government, accused the federal government of demarcating Raposa Serra do Sol in an irresponsible manner and of reducing the area under jurisdiction of the state government to just 10 percent of the total, which he said left little land for agriculture. But Britto argued that the 121,182 sq km -- equivalent to three other Brazilian states that are home to 22 million people -- of land in Roraima outside of the indigenous reserve and other federal land is more than enough territory for the "less than 400,000 non-indigenous inhabitants of the state." The judge also said the anthropological studies on which the demarcation of the reservation was based were sound and widely recognised, and were not questioned for years after they were published. The studies show that "only a continuous territory ensures the rights of physical and cultural reproduction and integral maintenance of customs and traditions" of indigenous groups, Britto added. The five indigenous groups, who have lived in that area free of conflict for at least 150 years, have mingled and speak related languages, and the areas where they have traditionally lived border each other to form one continuous territory that should not be separated into "islands," which would be unconstitutional, said the magistrate. He argued, furthermore, that indigenous lands and border areas are "perfectly compatible" -- a reference to the argument set forth by landowners in that area and even members of the military that the fact that Raposa Serra do Sol is on the border poses a threat to security and national sovereignty. History shows that the presence of indigenous people along the border has helped defend the country’s frontiers, and the constitution itself recognises private ownership of land along borders as "fundamental to defence," he said. To those who express fears that indigenous groups will assert themselves as independent nations with foreign support, based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, Britto said the Brazilian constitution has adequate provisions to prevent this. He also said the constitution is the best possible instrument for defending the rights of native groups.

Private Contractors ... Regulate em, Don't Ban em - Obama

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Waxman’s call comes as newly revealed federal documents obtained by USA Today show US spending on armed private contractors like Blackwater is on the rise. This year alone, the US State Department will spend more than a billon dollars on armed contractors. That’s a 13 percent increase from 2007. A State Department official revealed contractors “will increasingly take over…former military roles and missions, increasing [the] numbers of private security.”

As Barack Obama prepares to make the war in Iraq a centerpiece of his campaign against John McCain, serious questions remain about what Obama will do with this massive private shadow army in Iraq. Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill filed this report.

JEREMY SCAHILL: When you talk to people here at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, it’s taken as a fait accompli that, if elected president, Senator Barack Obama is going to end the Iraq war swiftly.

JEREMY SCAHILL: But it’s not hard to be confused by Senator Obama’s statements on Iraq. Cut through the fiery rhetoric, and the devil is in the details. While Obama’s plan starkly differs from that of his rival, John McCain, Obama’s Iraq policy in reality is one of downsizing and rebranding the occupation, not entirely ending it.

One aspect of Obama’s Iraq plan that has received little corporate media attention is what he plans to do with for-profit war corporations, particularly mercenary companies like Blackwater. While Obama has consistently been very critical of these companies, calling them unaccountable, above the law, and a danger to US troops and Iraqi civilians, his own Iraq plan will necessitate using them in Iraq. Indeed, one of Obama’s senior foreign policy advisers told me earlier this year that Obama, quote, “cannot and will not rule out using these companies.”

Obama representatives say he will not sign onto legislation sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky and Senator Bernie Sanders to ban the use of Blackwater and other armed contractors in US war zones. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, has not signed onto the legislation either. Instead, Obama has sponsored his own legislation that seeks to regulate the industry and hold contractors accountable under US law.

He articulated his position in a brief interview with Democracy Now! in March.

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UCPD and Feds Raid Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley

On August 27th at around 10:30am, 5-6 police officers from three agencies made their way into the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley, broke down every door, and confiscated all computers on the property. Computers taken included those used by the Slingshot Collective and East Bay Prisoner Support. Police also broke into cabinets, cut locks, and went through mail. People arrived after being informed of the situation, and demanded that the police show a warrant. The police said they would show one once they were done, and they did. Both CopWatch and The Berkeley Daily Planet were there to cover the incident. The departments involved were 4 UC Berkeley cops, 1 Alameda County Sheriff, and 1 Federal agent. The police stated that the computer equipment "may have been used to commit a felony." This is the first time the infoshop has been raided.

Cuba and the Struggle for Survival (Part 1)

by Rick Smith

The following is Part 1 of an edited and enhanced radio interview conducted in August 2008 with Dr. Doug Morris, Eastern New Mexico University Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Rick Smith: One of the things I love hearing about is what is happening in other countries. I like to hear from the inside and I like to hear different opinions. This is why we have our next guest, Dr. Doug Morris, from Eastern New Mexico University. He just returned recently from Cuba, and I am always interested and fascinated to find out what goes on in the closed-arena there. Why did you go? I can’t go, as far as I know… how did you get there?

Doug Morris: I went as part of the “Research Network in Cuba Group,” sponsored by the US based “Radical Philosophers Association.” The group does research in Cuba and participates in a yearly conference at the University of Havana as part of that research, and shares that work back here in the US in various academic and public settings. A number of the participants travel back and forth to Cuba numerous times over the year to carry out research and to keep open lines of communication, for example around socialist economics and agriculture. The group travels legally on an academic research general license provided by the US State Department. There are different categories for research and legal travel to Cuba, including journalistic research, so one would guess that you would be able to obtain a license to do “legal” journalistic work and research in Cuba. We should add that it is not Cuba that is trying to keep US citizens out of Cuba; rather, it is the US government that is violating our Constitutional right to travel.

I should also say that the reasons for going to Cuba are many and also share that I am not an expert on Cuba. Cuba is not my primary area of academic interest but more peripheral. Cuba remains a source of interest and inspiration mostly because Cuba is attempting to carry out a social project outside of the global neoliberal model, a neoliberal model that places profits first and is a source of many global calamities and much human suffering. Cuba’s project, filled with contradictions and struggles, is working to ensure that people come first. Cuba remains an inspiration because they have accomplished so much under very trying conditions and circumstances, not least of which is the presence of the hostile global behemoth just to the North.

Cuba, as one Cuban scholar pointed out, always “walks on a razor’s edge, and does so in a world that stands on the edge of a precipice.” In other words, Cuba, always struggling to survive, is often forced to pursue policies against their basic commitments, but they must survive, and they are trying to survive as a socialist island in a rising sea of neoliberal abominations. There is no rule book available for revolutionaries so they can simply open to page 155 to find the answer to the latest dilemma. Cuba, though it walks on a razor’s edge, is an inspiring source of alternative political, economic, agricultural and pedagogical knowledge that we, standing on the precipice, so desperately need as we now face ever-growing global threats through climate change, ecological catastrophes, growing poverty and inequality, food and hunger crises, water shortages, political authoritarianism, corporate tyranny, and an increasingly militarized globe. So, Cuba has been designated the only sustainable society in the world by the World Wildlife Fund, and that is of great importance at a time when a sustainable human future is in serious question.

As to Cuba being a “closed-arena” one must be careful on how that gets interpreted because people in the US will use that to intimate that Cuba is some kind of Stalinist society in which people lack all freedoms, where everyone lives under constant surveillance and fear, where people are abducted from the streets in the middle of the night if they disagree with State opinion, where people are sent off to torture camps, etc. But that is not the case in Cuba, although one might draw links between what was just described and the US base at Guantanamo, a real core of human rights abuse on land that belongs to Cuba but is occupied by a US Naval base. The “closed-arena” in Cuba is partially a myth created by US propaganda in order to keep the US population distanced from understanding what really happens in Cuba, and partially a consequence of Cuba living constantly under the threat of US aggression, a situation that compels certain forms of centralized control and suspicions that may occasionally result in forms of repression beyond that which one could support.

One might ask why US power is interested in keeping US citizens from understanding what is happening inside Cuba, and I would argue that the primary reason is that Cuba is working to carry out an experiment in economics and politics that puts human interests and well-being first, is committed to ecological rationality and sustainable agriculture, and assumes that there are sets of human rights that should be honored, for example, the rights to food, health care, education, housing, employment, access to culture, sports, participation, etc. Cuba sees these rights as basic to human needs, and they should not therefore be available only to those who can afford them in the market. The problem with Cuba from the perspective of US power, I would say, is that if Cuba succeeds in carrying out this people-first experiment in politics and economics, it will demonstrate the legitimacy of what in Cuba is called “people’s power.” The Cuban revolution violated 150 years of US policy and belief as expressed in the Monroe Doctrine, i.e., US power owns the hemisphere and US power will determine who does what and in whose interests, etc.

Soon after the Cuban revolution the Kennedy Administration made it clear what the problem was. The Cuban model, they suggested, was providing a source of inspiration for people across the hemisphere who had been robbed and exploited for hundreds of years, people who now might want to follow the Cuban example and take matters into their own hands to advance their own interests and live lives outside of misery, poverty and despair. Of course, if that interferes with profits and power concerns, that is intolerable from the perspective of US power. So, one of the central problems with Cuba from the view and interests of US power is that Cuba can show that a society can be run by the people through various interactions between formal and informal democracy, between participatory and representative forms of democracy, and, crucially, Cuba can demonstrate that a society can be run in the interest of people without resorting to a profit-based and tyrannical economic system.

And, secondly, the threat of US aggression is very real as history has demonstrated quite clearly. More than 200 years ago, John Adams argued that Cuba is a “natural extension of the US,” and that Cuba should be annexed by the US. Jefferson wrote that “Cuba [is] the most interesting addition that can be made to our system of states,” and John Quincy Adams referred to “the inevitability of the annexation of Cuba,” suggesting that it would eventually fall into US hands by the laws of political gravity, like “a ripe fruit.” In the 1850s, the US Ostend Manifesto warned against Cuba becoming “Africanized [like Haiti]… with all the attendant horror for the white race.” In addition, of course, were commercial interests, and by the 1880s Cuba was a key US commercial “partner,” especially around sugar. The US provided 70% of the Cuban market. Prior to the US intervention in Cuba’s second war of independence, the US undersecretary of war, J. Breckenridge wrote that Cubans were incapable of managing their own society, that they had only “a vague notion of what is right and wrong,” and therefore the US should “destroy everything within our cannon’s range of fire, impose a harsh blockade so that hunger runs rampant, undermine the peaceful population, and decimate the Cuban army.”

In 1901, the US forced the Cubans to accept the Platt Amendment, still used to “justify” the US military base at Guantanamo Bay. It also gave the US the “right” to intervene in Cuban affairs anytime to “preserve Cuban independence” (but not independence from US intervention, of course), and to protect life, liberty, and crucially property. The US acted on the amendment in 1906 and militarily occupied Cuba until 1909. From 1901 until 1959 and the triumph of the revolution that overthrew the US backed Batista dictatorship, Cuba, in Robert Scheer’s words “was more of an appendage of the US than a sovereign nation.” Most of the land and resources was under various forms of US control.

The US has, for close to fifty years now, been hostile to the Cuban revolution, has wanted to reestablish US domination over Cuba, and has engaged in outright military aggression, economic strangulation of multiple sorts, endless forms of terrorism, biological and chemical warfare attacks, diplomatic maneuvers to isolate Cuba, introduced legislation such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Torricelli Bill to punish Cuba and other countries that deal with Cuba at a time when Cuba was in dire straits and in need of serious assistance not further punishment, sponsored people who carried out bombing attacks in Cuba or blew-up a Cuban airplane (killing all on board), planned dozens of assassination attempts against Cuban leaders, engaged in widespread propaganda attacks around the world against the Cuban experiment (a good portion of it through US embassies), funded anti-Cuban think tanks, etc.

We should also keep in mind, that if we consider the definition of terrorism to be “the use of force and violence, or the THREAT of force and violence, to intimate, coerce or control, in order to advance ideological, political, religious or economic interests,” a close paraphrase of the official US definition, then the US is engaged in terrorism 100% of the time because the announced policy of its willingness to not only attack anyone, anywhere, anytime for any reason, made formal in the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States, and demonstrated in the illegal US attack against Iraq, but the US also reserves the “right” to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. That means the US is always engaged in the THREAT to use force and violence around the world, i.e., always engaged in terror. Cubans are well aware of this, and we should be too.

The continuing hostility against the Cuban revolution is grounded, arguably, in three main considerations. The first is the commercial and financial losses for US business interests in Cuba. The Wall Street Journal referred to the revolution as a “watermelon.” The more you slice it “the redder it gets.” For example, Cuba nationalized the oil refineries. Cuba had signed a trade deal with the Soviet Union in early 1960, and it included Soviet crude. At the command of the US government Texaco and Standard Oil refused to refine the crude, thus forcing Cuba to nationalize the refineries. Nationalizations were carried out with offers of compensation based on the reported assets and earnings provided by the companies in their official record. These assets and earnings were typically underreported in order to save on taxes.

The second is Cuba’s commitment to pursue a course of economic, political and social development that is independent of US hegemony, and the concomitant threat that the Cuban revolution could provide inspiration for others in the region to challenge US domination.

Advisor to JFK, Arthur Schlesinger stated that the problem with the Castro regime, i.e., the Cuban revolution, was that it represented a successful resistance to US hegemony, and that defiance undermined 50 years of US policy in the region. In other words, the Cuban revolution was providing an emancipatory opening for people to move beyond subservience and subjugation. In short, as the Administration said, “the poor and underprivileged [i.e., exploited] might demand opportunities for a decent living,” and that is simply unacceptable. The Kennedy Administration responded to this “threat” by implementing the “Alliance for Progress.” Interestingly, about ten years after the Alliance began, a major US study demonstrated that Cuba, the one country excluded from the Alliance, was the only country that had achieved what the Alliance purported to be carrying out, for example, advances in public health, education, transportation, as well as the integration of rural and urban sectors.

And, the third is Cuba’s commitment to international solidarity, revealed in Cuba’s international projects in medicine, literacy, and agriculture, as well as “Operation Miracle,” through which more than one million people have been treated to restore their vision. Cuba demonstrates that international relations can be built on solidarity rather then exploitation, domination and aggression. And then there is the matter of people’s power, i.e. people taking matters into their own hands.

RS: What was the purpose of the conference in Cuba?

DM: The purpose of the conference includes efforts to build bridges of solidarity and understanding between Cuban and US academics and Cuban and US citizens. The conference itself revolves around different areas of research including research in economic matters, philosophical issues, education, agriculture, various forms of social organization, history, projections about what kind of future we should struggle for, the role that civil society plays in creating popular empowerment in Cuba and the role that civil society could play in producing citizen empowerment in the United States, etc.

RS: Would you say we are not politically empowered in the United States?

DM: I would argue that the Cuban population is much more politically empowered than the population in the United States for a fairly simple reason, one that is surely considered a controversial perspective by many people in the US. Cuba has a much different, more wide-ranging and stronger concept of democracy than we have in the United States.

In the United States the notion of democracy basically stops at the most elementary, rudimentary and least developed form of democracy, electoral democracy. Every two or four years, people are permitted to vote for a set of candidates who are essentially pre-selected by the owners of society, the business class. Anyone who challenges the interests of the owners is essentially marginalized or excluded from serious consideration. The case of Dennis Kucinich demonstrates this rather clearly. We vote for one or another of the corporate-sponsored candidates and very little changes in terms of the public interest being advanced, in terms of public well-being improving, in terms of pursuing the overall public good, in terms of the public developing capacities, resources and knowledge to meaningfully and effectively shape politics in ways that represent real public concerns, such as universal health care, environmental protection, a political system that responds to public concerns, better education, less militarism, infrastructure repair and development, a fairer economic system, etc.

Electoral democracy in the US generally produces a form of competition limited to major parties funded by wealthy elites and the corporate sector, and while public interest and enthusiasm, in some sectors, can be temporarily elevated by the hyper-spectacles that are regularly presented during campaign season, the barrage of PR materials, or by the constant repetition of largely empty slogans around “hope” and “change,” the final result is that very little of substance changes in regards to policies that promote, represent or fulfill public interests, needs and concerns, or stimulate public empowerment.

The public is largely aware of this sham, and that is surely one reason why participation in electoral democracy is so low in the US. In electoral democracies, voters vote every two or four years, with virtually zero input into policies and programs, but as George Soros makes clear, “markets vote every day,” suggesting that without meaningful forms of democratic participation in the economy and in social arrangements, democracy remains a largely empty and formal vessel, a shadow that hides the substance of power and decision making which lives and works largely at the corporate level.

In Cuba, I would suggest, they have extended the idea of democracy beyond electoral democracy (they do have elections in Cuba, contrary to what we have been taught in the US), to include political democracy, which is the beginning of more participatory forms of democracy, as well as social democracy and economic democracy. So, elections in Cuba are not funded and controlled by elites but organized by the people.

RS: Wait a second, how it that possible? Castro has been the leader their for a long time; is he being elected? What I keep hearing is that he is a communist dictator.

DM: Cuba, as I understand it, is carrying out an experiment, and this has to be emphasized, what is happening in Cuba is an experiment being carried out under extremely harsh conditions not of their own choosing. Still, it must be said that Cuba exhibits none of the chronic human abominations one witnesses in most other countries of the region: there are not droves of homeless people rotting in gutters, no children starving, no mass illiteracy, no high levels of infant mortality or unemployment, no death squads roaming the countryside, no monstrous inequalities, no high levels of political and social instability, etc. There is a housing crisis, but there are programs underway to address the housing crisis. For example, in 2006 Cuba constructed roughly 110,000 new houses, and in 2007 roughly 67,000 new houses. They project that if they can average 50,000 new houses per year for ten years, they will have addressed the main issues of the housing crisis, and they are on target to meet those expectations.

What they are attempting to do in Cuba is mobilize the collective intelligence and imagination of a population of people to manage and run the society and they are doing it through a combination of participatory and representative democracy organized through local and national political organizations such as the Youth Communist League with roughly 800,000 members of young people between the ages of 14 and 30, the Communist Party of Cuba with roughly 1.5 million members (it should be noted that the Party is not an electoral party, that is, the Party does not participate in the nomination or election of political candidates at the local, provincial or national levels of assembly elections, nor can the party propose legislation in the representative political bodies; this is not to say that the Party lacks influence in Cuban politics, it is clearly very influential across Cuban society in its role as sort of protector and stimulator of socialist consciousness and in encouraging people to, as they say, “Be like Ché,” which essentially calls for developing a concern for and a commitment to the collective good and a willingness to make sacrifices for the collective good).

Then there are the mass organizations that include the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Women’s Federation, the Worker’s Unions, Student Federations at the University, Secondary and Elementary school levels, professional organizations and the organs of the state which include judicial bodies, the armed forces, the Organ’s of People’s Power that include the National, Provincial and Municipal Assemblies, and the Popular Councils that serve as a bridge between neighborhoods and Municipal Assemblies, the Council of State, and the Working Commissions of the National Assembly of People’s Power. The National Assembly has legislative authority and the delegates to the assembly are elected by the Cuban electorate. The National Assembly chooses from among the members of the Assembly the Council of State. The Council of State is then responsible for selecting the Council of Ministers.

As I understand it, the Council of State selects a president, but the president must first be nominated at the level of his local municipality in order to achieve the status of National Assembly representative who then moves into the Council of State, etc. Furthermore, as I understand it, the status of President does not accord any dictatorial powers, but it does provide the opportunity for the President to present arguments for or against any piece of legislation. There are numerous cases over the years in which Fidel argued one way and others argued the other, and Fidel’s position did not carry the day. Legislation and decrees must be ratified by the National Assembly. Fidel’s status, or now Raul’s status, provides a symbolic and influential power in Cuba that others may not have by virtue of their participation in the Cuban revolutionary struggle since the early 1950s, in particular since the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, 55 years ago this July 26th.

At the same time, one should note that there has been a significant turnover in the Cuban political system over the last decade or so, and many of those running the system are in their 30s and 40s. The creation of the Popular Councils in the early 90s, in the early years of the Special Economic Period (after the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba lost roughly 85% of its trade overnight), was carried out as a bulwark against centralization and bureaucracy and as a way to enhance local government power and popular participation. Candidacy Commissions, made up of people from the mass and popular organizations and presided over by members of the worker unions were established to organize the provincial and national assembly elections. Their primary purpose is to ensure a fairer representation from across the populace. In other words, the citizenry is involved in both nominating and electing its representatives. Provincial and national elections are held every five years, and municipal elections every 2½ years.

Roughly half the representatives in the National Assembly are from the Municipal Assemblies and the other half are comprised of national figures who are politicians, scientists, intellectuals, artists, athletes, workers, etc. Of particular interest to the audience for this program in the US, “where working people come to talk,” is the role of unions in Cuba and the worker assemblies. Isaac Saney, in his book, A Revolution in Motion, describes how Cubans are involved in an intense political learning process and how “the system responds to popular demands for adjustment.”

In 1993, during some of the worst times of the Special Economic Period when the Cuban economy was in the gutter, and Cubans were suffering, the National Assembly wanted to introduce a tax on wages. Union representative opposed this proposal on the grounds that the workers had not had an opportunity to discuss and debate the measures. The National Assembly thus delayed any action until the worker’s parliaments could meet. There were three months of meetings, over 80,000 meetings, involving over 3 million workers where these matters were discussed and debated, and new proposals were offered. National policy reflected worker views. When the new tax law was finally passed the taxes were primarily on the self-employed rather than on wage workers. This is one example that demonstrates how mass consultations and input from citizens distinguish the Cuban experiment from other countries.

All Cuban citizens can vote upon turning 16, and they can be nominated by fellow citizens in local popular assemblies at the age of 18. So, people are nominated in neighborhood mass assemblies at the local level to serve in Municipal Assemblies. It is a process of consultations and dialogues within popular and community organizations. We should also note that

Cubans possess the capacity to recall the representatives they elect if it is determined that the performance of the representative is unsatisfactory. This Cuban right is carried forth in periodic meetings, sort of accountability sessions with constituents, where representatives report on their work.

Let me return to the point of moving from electoral democracy to political democracy, and then from there into social and economic democracy. Democracy becomes more engaging politically when forms of effective and more participatory political representation are permitted and encouraged. In short, where there is established public controls on the financing of elections, not private control by those who own the society; where access to vital information is available and accessible rather than the kinds of limited access we experience in the US through the dominant corporate media where we very seldom learn what public opinion really is and only see it refracted through corporate interests; where the role of lobbies is constrained (so in the US the oil lobby spent roughly $83 million last year and will probably surpass that figure this year in attempts to direct legislation and voting their way…the pharmaceutical industry, the Chamber of Commerce, Phillip Morris and General Electric are near the top of lobbyists working to ensure that policies are endorsed and legislation passed to protect and promote private power, corporate profits and wealth for the privileged…), so lobbying would be constrained except to the extent that lobbying is carried forth in the public interest not to promote private power and wealth.

Political democracy also would be a form in which legislative bodies are empowered to carry out the will of the people, by the people and for the people; with the people having opportunities to recall candidates who are not serving the interests of the public; where there are instruments through which the public can express its interest and concerns through forms of collective consultation, dialogue, discussion and referenda; and where there are more equitable and responsible distributions of power. To some folks in the US this “of, by and for the people” notion of democracy would sound crazy, but it does reflect a rather Lincolnesque notion of democracy and that is as American as apple-pie, yes?

Democracy becomes more meaningful when politically engaging forms are combined with electoral forms in the context of social forms that recognize citizenship as a component of a social contract in which rising standards of living are measured through how well the society provides access to basic services and needs around food, recreation, education, social security, health, housing, arts, and transportation. In short, effective citizenship is rooted in social justice, a de-commodification of society, as well as equality of rights and conditions because people are fundamentally citizens in a participatory democracy rather than consumers in a profit based and undemocratic and dehumanizing market system.

Basically, in a social democracy needs are not satisfied through the ability to purchase commodities but are seen as a social right and duty. This form of social democracy eliminates the rampant exclusionary prejudice present in commodified markets where goods, needs and services are available only to those who have enough money and power for purchase rather than being available to all by virtue of their condition as citizens and human beings living under a mutually fulfilling and responsible social contract. This is the de-commodification mentioned above. In the United States, all of the goods and services mentioned above, from food, to health, to education, to sports, etc. are not available to people as a human right, but are seen as a privilege and available only to those who can purchase them on the market. I would suggest that is very anti-democratic and it has the consequence of dehumanizing people and social relations because too many people lack the ability to have their needs satisfied and they don’t live in a culture dedicated to fully developing their capacities.

Rick Smith can be contacted at RickSmith@unitedforprogress.com; Dr. Doug Morris, Eastern New Mexico University, can be contacted at doug.morris@enmu.edu. Information about and to support “The Cuban Five.” Urge your congressional representatives to end the US embargo against the people of Cuba. For information on the Radical Philosophers Association. Read other articles by Rick.


When your ethnically diverse neighborhood gets hip, by Mickey Z

White male yuppie in his early 30s jogging on the sidewalk past a bodega, a mosque, and Starbuck's dutifully stops at red light and bounces in place (can't let that heart rate drop) Across the street Pakistani boy no more than six waits for the light to change holding the barely visible hand of his veiled, shrouded mother as he giggles uncontrollably at the sight of a bouncing white male yuppie * [Ask me how hard it was to find a photo of a smiling Palestinian Boy, and how easy it was to find a white man jogging...]

Video: Ralph Nader Rains on DNC Parade

I spent much of yesterday following independent presidential candidate (and Connecticut native) Ralph Nader around as he tried to get attention for his campaign -- specifically for its attempt to open up the debates to the third party candidates.


MEXICO: Conservatives Lose Key Battle Against Abortion

By Diego Cevallos Studies also show that "back-alley" abortions are the fourth or fifth cause of death among women in Mexico, and that obtaining permission for a legal abortion in any of the above mentioned circumstances is difficult to impossible. The Mexican government, Catholic Church and conservative groups lost a crucial battle Wednesday in their fight against abortion, which was legalised in the capital in April 2007. In Supreme Court deliberations on a legal challenge brought by the conservative federal government last year with the aim of overturning the 2007 Mexico City law, it became clear Wednesday that at least seven of the 11 justices would vote that the law does not violate the constitution. Although the Supreme Court sessions will continue, there is no longer any chance that the Mexico City law will be revoked, because at least eight of the 11 magistrates would have to declare it unconstitutional. "Reason, the law, and women’s right to decide have prevailed," Lorena Martínez, a member of a women’s rights group at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told IPS. But Marcela Fernández, of the anti-abortion group Comité Pro Vida (Pro Life Committee), lamented to IPS that "the sacred right to life is the loser here." The federal Attorney General’s Office and National Human Rights Commission had challenged the constitutionality of the Mexico City law that legalised abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Since the law went into effect, 26,000 women have sought information in municipal public health facilities on the right to abortion, and 12,262 women have undergone the procedure in Mexico City. According to the local authorities, 50 percent of the women who had abortions were single women under the age of 24, and the women were two months pregnant on average. The law that struck down the penalties for abortion -- three to six months in prison or community service -- was approved last year by the Mexico City assembly, which is dominated by the leftwing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). Although the penalties remain in place for women who undergo an abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy without medical indication, studies show that the punishment is rarely if ever applied. The Supreme Court held several hearings between April and June to receive input from activists, lawyers, doctors, government officials and religious groups opposed to and in favour of the law that legalised abortion in Mexico City. On Sunday, the day before the magistrates began their final debate on the question, the president of Mexico’s bishops’ conference, Carlos Aguiar, appeared in a paid TV spot urging the Court to rule that the abortion law was unconstitutional. "Among the many challenges facing the country, respect for human life from conception is paramount. Without the gift of life, no other right is possible. The defence of the newly conceived human being must be accompanied by the defence of the dignity of women. Respect for the right to life forms the basis of true democracy," the bishop said in the ad. For its part, the administration of President Felipe Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) challenged the Mexico City law through the Attorney-General’s Office, using legal rather than religious arguments. The National Human Rights Commission, a state body, also tried to get the law repealed, thus drawing harsh criticism from human rights activists. But the arguments set forth by opponents of the law failed to convince the necessary majority of magistrates. Supreme Court Justice Genaro Góngora said "there are no universally accepted and compellingly rational legal elements making it obligatory for the criminal justice system to defend the right to life of the product of conception before the 12th week of pregnancy." Justice José de Jesús Gudiño argued that "in the constitution there is not one single provision establishing the direct protection of the product of conception, independently of and against the will of the mother," which means the decriminalisation of abortion is not unconstitutional. By contrast, Justice Salvador Aguirre, who came out against the law, repeated on several occasions that it was not a question of penalising women but of safeguarding embryos, which in his view have been left without protection. When the municipal law was passed in April 2007, surveys showed that although 40 percent of respondents were opposed to it, the decriminalisation of abortion enjoyed majority support, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Mexicans are Roman Catholic and the Church punishes the practice of abortion with excommunication. While the draft law was being debated by the Mexico City assembly, Pope Benedict XVI urged the assembly-members not to approve it, sparking protests by the left that the Vatican was meddling in the domestic affairs of another state. According to a UNAM study, up to one million illegal abortions a year -- equivalent to 30 percent of all pregnancies -- are performed in this country of 104 million people. But other sources put the number at less than 500,000. Although abortion is legal in all of Mexico’s 32 states for victims of rape, studies show that in practice it is extremely difficult for a rape victim to exercise her legal right to terminate her pregnancy, because of an endless list of administrative hurdles and outright obstruction by the authorities. In addition, 27 states allow the termination of pregnancy when the mother's life is at risk, 13 allow it in the case of serious fetal deformities, and 10 permit it in order to protect the expectant mother's health. Studies also show that "back-alley" abortions are the fourth or fifth cause of death among women in Mexico, and that obtaining permission for a legal abortion in any of the abovementioned circumstances is difficult to impossible.

Sep 5 - Wayne Price- The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives Dialogue

Dialogue September 5th, 2008 in Los Angeles

Wayne Price- The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives Dialogue Friday September 5th at 6pm At the Southern California Library: the People's Library Sponsored by the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities and the NorthEastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists 6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044 (off the 110 Freeway, exit Slauson or Gage). We're accessible by MTA Bus 204 and Express Bus 754. Street parking is available. Mapquest map and directions to the Library Wayne Price is a long-time revolutionary activist and writer. He has been active in labor, human rights, and antiwar struggles, and writes regularly for www.Anarkismo.net, for The Utopian, and for The Northeastern Anarchist. He has written The Abolition of the State: Anarchist & Marxist Perspectives, which is now being translated into Spanish. Previously a member of the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, he is now a member of the NYC local of the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC).

Wayne Price- The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives Dialogue Friday September 5th at 6pm At the Southern California Library: the People's Library Sponsored by the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities and the NorthEastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists 6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044 (off the 110 Freeway, exit Slauson or Gage). We're accessible by MTA Bus 204 and Express Bus 754. Street parking is available. Mapquest map and directions to the Library Wayne Price is a long-time revolutionary activist and writer. He has been active in labor, human rights, and antiwar struggles, and writes regularly for www.Anarkismo.net, for The Utopian, and for The Northeastern Anarchist. He has written The Abolition of the State: Anarchist & Marxist Perspectives, which is now being translated into Spanish. Previously a member of the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, he is now a member of the NYC local of the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC). Wayne will present on:The Abolition of the State. Revolutionary anarchists oppose all forms of domination and oppression: class, race, national, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Important in maintaining all oppression is the state. Both anarchists and Marxists talk about abolishing the state. But what does this mean? What actually is the state? How could it be abolished? What could replace it? What lessons can be learned from past revolutions? How can our theories about the state affect our present-day organizing and thinking? I must admit I have a secret ;-) agenda, besides meeting comrades and perhaps selling books. I want to ally with you-all, within the broader anarchist movement, in supporting national self-determination. This is very controversial among revolutionary anarchists and antistatist Marxists, and even among comrades in NEFAC. Some agree with the idea, many are bitterly opposed. I have been denounced (on libcom) for supporting national liberation. Without necessarily completely agreeing, I hope we can somehow generally support these ideas, although I have no specific plans. If you or others are interested in my thinking on this topic, you could look up my essays: The Relation Between the Working Class and Nonclass Oppressions http://www.anarkismo.net/article/6204 and: Lessons for the anarchist movement of the Israeli-Lebanese War http://www.anarkismo.net/article/3614 Anyway, please let me know about any possible informal meeting with you and others. Solidarity, Wayne

Related Link: http://copwatchla.org

Repost... :)

Nader polling 6-8% in 4 key battleground states

The following is a media release from the Nader presidential campaign:

August 27, 2008 www.votenader.org News Advisory FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Marc Abizeid, 831-818-7736, marcabizeid@votenader.org; Chris Driscoll, 202-360-3273, chris@votenader.org NADER POLLING AT 6-8% IN 4 KEY BATTLEGROUND STATES

A new Time/CNN poll shows Ralph Nader polling 8 percent in New Mexico, 7 percent in Colorado, 7 percent in Pennsylvania, and 6 percent in Nevada (See poll here).

“It’s clear that Ralph Nader could again have a significant impact on the Presidential race—though in highly unpredictable ways,” Time/CNN pollsters concluded.” In Nevada, Nader was the choice of 6% of respondents, and his presence flattened Obama’s lead into a 41%-41% tie. Yet in New Mexico, where Nader polled at 8%, he drew votes almost equally from both major candidates, while in Pennsylvania he siphoned off significant support from McCain; a three-way race there would give Obama 47%, McCain 38% and Nader 7%.”

The Nader/Gonzalez campaign is on track to be on 45 ballots by September 20.

For more information on the Nader/Gonzalez campaign, visit: votenader.org.

4,000 Blow Off Biden, Clinton for Nader, Penn

Yeah, most politically interested people in Denver and the nation are focused on former President Bill Clinton and newly minted vice-president candidate Sen. Joe Biden this evening. Those are the big names of the Democratic National Convention on the eve of the Barack Obama acceptance speech.

But at a University of Denver auditorium right now, a collaboration of the disaffected have come together. It is nominally a Ralph Nader presidential rally, but it's acted in a larger sense as an Everybody Else town meeting. (Though it's possible that one significant draw for the young crowd is the several musicians performing between those issuing political rhetoric.)

Sean Penn just spoke. He's clearly not into the offerings of the Republicans and Democrats. He called McCain "the Man Who Would Be George Bush the Third." He did seem to be pretty impressed with Nader, but he said he didn't know who he'd vote for yet. He also blasted the media -- at some length.

[Hey, Sean, I own "Dead Man Walking" and "Mystic River" and, if we want to recall how you weren't always so serious, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Maybe it's time you buy a copy of The Courant?]

Cindy Sheehan, the eternally Bush-baiting protester, also spoke. She now seems to blame the Democratic Party equally for the ills of the country. She called the two major parties "the twins." "The twins, they don't care about you," she told the crowd (which looks mostly college-aged.) She talked about her son who died in Iraq. "I didn't lose my son. If I lost him, I would go find him. He was murdered by the twins," she said, blaming the parties' alliance with the "military-industrial complex."

She compared President Bush to a boil, and added Barack Obama and John McCain to her boil list. "Unless we cure the disease, the boils will keep popping up."

[Actually, I did see a girl with an Obama 08 shirt here. Then again, I also saw a guy with a Nine Inch Nails shirt.]

Nader's money guy took the stage to plead for cash. ("Every vote that Nader gets is somebody saying, I'm not going to take it any more," he said.) He started with the maximum allowed campaign contribution, $4,600, and seemed to get a couple of takers. Then, like an auction in reverse, he lowered the request implementally until more and more people in this gathering of the alienated agreed to give. "The rent's not free," he said. "The campaign's not free."

Now, Nader's finally been introduced, to blasts of red, white and blue confetti over the stage. ("Don't worry," he said. "All of this is going to be recycled.") He immediately began criticizing the Democratic Party and its nearby corporate-sponsored convention. "They're being wined and dined by the corruptors," he said.

Of the Democrats and Republicans, Nader said, "They're turning our country into, essentially, a one-party state." He said,

(The Connecticut native, while admitting that Democrats are more supportive of social security, even slipped in a dig against a senator from his home state. "They don't want to send [social security] to Wall Street -- except for Joe Lieberman.")

Nader got major cheers during his amnesty talk for non-violent drug offenders. Replace them in the prisons with corporate criminals, he said.

Nader cautioned about his fellow politicians: "Every politican I've ever known from the major parties ... starts flattering the people. Oh, how they flatter the people! Because that's what gives the people weak knees. ... Well, we have got to start getting tough with each other." He said he's disappointed about the percentage of people 18-24 who don't vote. "Read the grim lesson of history, here and abroad. When people do not turn on to politics, politics will turn on them."

"If only you knew the power you have at this young age," he said. "Chuck the iPod once in a while. Stop listening to non-stop music, which is blowing out your mind. And get serious."


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I ♥ Amy and Juan

Today's Headlines


Thanks for giving credit where credit is due, Obama...thanks for sniping Subcom Marco's and the Zapatistas Ideal and Making It Your Own..

[Now when you accomplish ANYTHING from the bottom up except your own self...call me...THE BOTTOM UP POLICY, while correct, has been hijacked without attribution by Obama...now, I simultaneously know that I am not one to enforce such a thing as MY IDEA IS MINE AND YOU CAN'T HAVE IT...however..I would have really appreciated Obamaville KNOW, if not say where he learned that idea...It may not be the Zapatistas, in fact, I'm sure someone, somewhere, long before the Zapatistas mentioned this concept...but still...IMHO, if one is going to become the president of the united states, one should not use that idea and not make it happen..or one had better have an honest fucking excuse for why it is not happening...] The following is drawn from the text of a speech given on December 24 at the “In Defense of Humanity” conference.

Our Struggle is Against US ImperialismI Believe Only in the Power of the People

By EVO MORALES

What happened these past days in Bolivia was a great revolt by those who have been oppressed for more than 500 years. The will of the people was imposed this September and October, and has begun to overcome the empire’s cannons. We have lived for so many years through the confrontation of two cultures: the culture of life represented by the indigenous people, and the culture of death represented by West. When we the indigenous people–together with the workers and even the businessmen of our country–fight for life and justice, the State responds with its “democratic rule of law.”

Cochabamba 1999 battle over water, against Bechtel

What does the “rule of law” mean for indigenous people? For the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the “rule of law” means the targeted assassinations and collective massacres that we have endured. Not just this September and October, but for many years, in which they have tried to impose policies of hunger and poverty on the Bolivian people. Above all, the “rule of law” means the accusations that we, the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaranties of Bolivia keep hearing from our governments: that we are narcos, that we are anarchists. This uprising of the Bolivian people has been not only about gas and hydrocarbons, but an intersection of many issues: discrimination, marginalization , and most importantly, the failure of neoliberalism. [...]

And I want to tell you, companeras and companeros, how we have built the consciousness of the Bolivian people from the bottom up. How quickly the Bolivian people have reacted, have said–as Subcomandate Marcos says–ya basta!, enough policies of hunger and misery.

*
Global Justice Rhetoric is Anti-authoritarian
Global justice activism is heavily influenced by antiauthoritarianism. This is not to say
that all global justice activists are self-described antiauthoritarians, but many do at least
borrow antiauthoritarian ideas and practices. For instance, social forums, conferences,
protests, affinity groups, spokes councils, neighbourhood assemblies, and website
clearinghouses often use bottom up, consensus type structures allowing individuals,
groups, and organizations to create large, decentered networks. Rather than leaders and
dominating ideologies, there are affinities of people coordinating themselves toward
social change. Such antiauthoritarianism is not necessarily new; it has been long used
by anarchists, autonomists, anti-capitalists, feminists, and counter-culturalists. But
global justice activists have revived and updated anti-authoritarianism. David Graeber,
an anarchist and Ivy League anthropologist, provides some excellent accounts of this
revival, arguing that anti-authoritarian practices are the heart and soul of global justice

First I want to know how Democrats can be so impressed by an expensive commercial for their party...

when their beloved party has done nothing in accordance with their will... Second I want to know how Dennis Kucinich was elected as a Democrat...? The Great Appeaser...?

Time/CNN Poll: Nader at 8 Percent in New Mexico

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Time/CNN Poll: Nader at 8 Percent in New Mexico .

Drop $8 on Nader/Gonzalez now.

Why?

We're celebrating again.

Because Ralph just polled 8 percent in New Mexico.

It is just remarkable.

Approaching zero media publicity.

And Nader is still polling at six, seven and eight percent in the polls.

Check out this one just in from Time/CNN.

In three battleground states, Ralph is a factor.

In New Mexico, Nader polls 8 percent.

In Pennsylvania, Nader is at 7 percent.

In Colorado, Nader is at 7 percent.

And in Nevada, Ralph is polling 6 percent.

And the poll shows that Ralph is pulling votes from across the board.

Like we said at the beginning.

Build it and they will come.

We're scheduled to be on 45 state ballots by September 12.

And we're ready to rumble.

We're flying under the radar.

But not for long.

So, help us continue to build the big mo.

We need to hit our goal of $100,000 by September 4.

So, give whatever you can.

And -- breaking news -- this just in.

Ralph Nader will be on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

Tomorrow -- Thursday August 28, 2008 at 9 a.m. EST.

You can listen and watch live on the Internet at democracynow.org.

Spread the word.

Together, we are making a difference.

Onward to November.

The Nader Team


"The Magical Approach" as channeled by Jane Roberts and articulated by Seth:

"I want it understood that we are indeed dealing with two entirely different approaches to reality and to solving problems--methods we will here call the rational method and the magical one. The rational approach works quite well in certain situations, such as mass production of goods, or in certain kinds of scientific measurements--but all in all the rational method, as it is understood and used, does not work as an overall approach to life, or in solving problems that involve subjective rather than objective measurements or calculations. Those methods work least of all for any art. It is a trite statement, perhaps, but the ruler's measurements have absolutely nothing to do with the measurements made by the heart, and they can never be used to express the incalculable measurements that are made automatically by the smallest cell. The magical approach takes it for granted, in the simplest terms, that the life of any individual will fulfill itself, will develop and mature, that the environment and the individual are uniquely suited and work together."

FUCK PG&E!

PG&E Gives 250,000 dollars to BAN GAY MARRIAGE from the STATE CONSTITUTION IN CALIFORNIA - WHY? Utility company PG&E announced Tuesday that it would donate $250,000 to California's No on Proposition 8 campaign, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Company officials also indicated they would attempt to garner support from other companies to defeat the anti-gay measure by assembling a business advisory council on the matter.

Proposition 8 would amend the state's constitution to bar marriage between same-sex couples, made legal in a May 15 decision from the California Supreme Court.

"We are thrilled to partner with PG&E," Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, said in a statement.

AT&T and Wells Fargo Bank have donated money directly to Equality California, which is working to defeat Prop 8.

Proponents of the measure have also made major donations. LGBT advocates called for a boycott of Hyatt hotels in San Diego after owner Doug Manchester poured thousands of dollars into the effort to pass the marriage ban.

Allan Hoffenblum, a GOP strategist, told the Times that PG&E was likely to be unfettered by any organized boycott since it monopolizes most of the California market.

"I can't in outrage call PG&E and say, 'Cut off my gas,'" he said. (The Advocate)

Posted July 30, 2008


Alex Jones Interviews Ralph Nader at the DNC

Infowars August 27, 2008

Download the interview as an MP3 here.

Alex sits down with independent president and political activist Ralph Nader. Alex talks with Ralph about the lack of difference between Barack Obama and John McCain, the violations of the Constitution by the current administration, the futility of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the reasons Nader is running for president for a fifth time.


Dolor, by Theodore Roethke

* I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils, Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight, All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage, Desolation in immaculate public places, Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard, The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher, Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma, Endless duplicaton of lives and objects. And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions, Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica, Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium, Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows, Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

La Riva/Puryear campaign on the ballot in 10 states ... with more states to come!

PSL on the ballot in New York! On August 18, the Party for Socialism and Liberation filed with the state’s Board of Elections in Albany. We met all of the requirements to be on the ballot for the 2008 presidential elections, including submitting 30,000 signatures—twice the required number. We are proud to say that millions of working-class people will be able to vote for a socialist alternative in New York State.
PSL NY Petitioners PSL activists celebrate the collection of 30,000 signatures in New York state
The requirements to be listed on the ballot include submitting 15,000 valid signatures of registered voters, with at least 100 valid signatures in half of the state’s 29 congressional districts. These signatures could not be collected prior to July 8, and were due on August 19. The first phase of the Party for Socialism and Liberation Presidential Campaign has been a great success. Through a tremendous amount of hard work, we have succeeded in meeting the requirements for ballot status in ten states and are in the process of achieving status in two more. Our biggest challenge was in New York State. For six weeks, volunteers worked tireless in New York City’s five boroughs and many upstate and Long Island counties to collect the needed signatures and prepare the filing. The army of volunteers sacrificed vacation time, days off, and time with their families to make sure that a powerful voice of socialism and struggle would be on the ballot in November in this key state. Thousands of people across New York State were excited to hear about a campaign that would speak out loud and strong against the war, racism and police brutality. “For me, getting Gloria and Eugene on the ballot was a great chance to talk to people in my community in the Bronx about the need to fight back,” said petitioner Frances Villar, a student and mother of two. Leon Williams just graduated from high school in New York City and had not participated in political work before. “My first day petitioning, it seemed I would never get a signature,” he recalled with a smile. “But it was enriching to have so many conversations with people that may never have had a conversation about such ‘taboo’ topics like socialism.” PSL on the ballot nationwide We are very excited at the prospect of being able to reach millions of people across the country with the Gloria La Riva/Eugene Puryear campaign theme of “People Over Profits—End the War Now —We Need Socialism!” In this first-ever campaign by the PSL, our strategy has included gaining ballot status in every major region of the country. We will be on the ballot in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont in the Northeast; Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana in the South; Iowa and Wisconsin in the Midwest; and Colorado, Utah and Washington in the West. Over the past few months, we have collected more than 45,000 petition signatures, recruited electors, held state conventions and paid filing fees. Hundreds of volunteers are working around the clock in cities and towns throughout the country. Join our campaign of struggle Our campaign will one of struggle. We will carry forward the message that the key to bringing about real progressive change is building a powerful people’s movement that stands together with our sisters and brothers around the world who are resisting imperialism and exploitation. As capitalism sinks further into its deepest crisis since the Great Depression, it is more important than ever that we explain that there are really only two choices for the future: Continue with a system based on maximizing profits regardless of destruction to people or the planet, or create a new, sustainable system based on meeting people’s needs - socialism. How many cities, towns and campuses we can travel to, how many people we can reach and bring into the struggle, in short, how successful we can be with the precious few weeks we have until election day, depends largely on you. There are many ways you can help:

The Great Circus, by

BY JOHN STEPPLING

8/26/08

A few thoughts on the electoral theatre that is upon us.

First, the most obvious and glaring reality of US politics is that only the very, very rich participate. This single fact really should give one pause, should give everyone who actually works for a living pause. As one old Wobbly put it, there are two kinds of people in the world, those who work and those who don’t.

Now, John McCain, like Kerry, got most of his money via his second wife …. after dumping his first one. Cyndi is a beer heiress, and if McCain were to be elected, and I think he will be, he will the first US president to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement. Anyway, the McCains spend, for household employees, $273,000 (in 2007), according to John McCain’s tax returns. The butler and maid budget for a single year exceeds a decade’s income for most Americans.

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DNC Protest Group Threatening Suit Against Police

Recreate 68' Seeking $50 Million, Department Defending Officers Actions Saying any trust had been lost with police, organizers of the protest group Recreate 68 announced plans Tuesday to sue the City of Denver. “The promise at the beginning of all of this was, ‘We stay peaceful, they stay peaceful,’” said Glenn Spagnuolo, co-founder of the group. "We are talking to attorneys about suing the city of Denver," said Mark Cohn, also a founder of the protest group. Speaking through a bullhorn to reporters outside the Denver Police Department headquarters, the group’s organizers accused police of illegally detaining and arresting of people Monday night, when tensions escalated into a stand-off between police and protesters. Denver police said it made limited use of pepper spray paintball-type bullets when the crowd, estimated at 300 people, refused requests to disperse. Many were observed carrying rocks and other items that could be used to threaten public safety, according to a statement released by Denver Police Tuesday morning. "Some individuals I represented in court had nothing to do with the protests at all,” said Brian Vicente, Executive Director of the People’s Law Project. “They were penned-in and were not allowed to leave." Denver Police Lt. Ron Saunier defended the actions of police. "Through the indications of a lot of things we felt (the protesters) were getting ready to move down, start creating destruction of private property, and possibly assaulting people," Saunier said. Eighty-five people were arrested on charges of obstruction, disobeying lawful orders, and interfering with a police officer, Saunier said. Police surrounded the area of 15th Street and Court Place out of concern for public safety, Saunier told 7NEWS Tuesday. "We pretty much circled around (the demonstrators) and contained them within that area in an effort to deescalate the situation which it did," Saunier said. Spagnuolo verbally fired back Tuesday, accusing police of whipping up tension with protesters in the hour before demonstrators dawned bandanas and linked arms on Bannock St. “(Police were) pushing them with their feet saying, ‘move out of my way,’ instead of treating these people with respect,” Spagnuolo said, adding the incidents occurred when much of the media was not around. "They were building up that confrontation and this is what it lead to, it was totally unneccary," Spagnuolo said. "It became clear very early on, through the totality of all circumstances, that their intent was not to be there to express their first amendment rights," Saunier said of the increased police presence in the park at that time. “There’s a lot of footage out there where officers were taking quit a bit of abuse and remained very professional,” Saunier said. Cohn disagreed and said the group is considering seeking $50 million in damages -- the same amount Denver was award by the federal government for security. “We're not sure what was done with that money but we think it's about time that some of the money go to people who've been victimized and whose civil liberties have been violated during this convention," Cohen said. Related Story: * August 27, 2008: Police Officer Tells Protester 'Back It Up, B*tch'

Nader plans Denver rally on eve of Obama speech

... Nader speaks at a University of Denver rally on Wednesday night. Actors Val Kilmer and Sean Penn are also on the bill.

The event comes one day before Obama's acceptance speech.

The Democratic convention has attracted plenty of non-Democrats in search of attention. Independent Alan Keyes and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney have been in town. Anti-immigration activists hoped Libertarian Bob Barr would attend their rally, though Barr didn't show. ...


Woman's T-shirt causes her ouster

By Douglas Morino
Click photo to enlarge
Lapriss Gilbert, 31, was asked to leave the Social Security... (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

VAN NUYS - A routine trip to the Social Security office Monday turned into 30 minutes of shock, disbelief and irritation for Lapriss Gilbert, who was forced to leave the federal building by a guard who objected to her "lesbian.com" T-shirt.

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive.

She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination ... but this is just shocking," said Gilbert, 31.

Lori Haley, a federal spokeswoman for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - which is under the Homeland Security umbrella - said the guard was out of line.

"We believe that the actions of the contract security guard were inappropriate and unacceptable - we have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

A security guard identified by Gilbert as the one who told her to leave declined to comment.

The guard cited the document, The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof of his jurisdiction over Gilbert's attire, she said.

The document does not specifically address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.

After being kicked out of the federal building, Gilbert called her mother, Tanya Gilbert, who calls herself a longtime activist for gay rights.

The mother and daughter have had same-sex partners for many years.

Tanya Gilbert said she plans to contact her attorney today to file a lawsuit against the Paragon Security Co.

"In 30 years as an activist, this is one of the most unsettling things I have seen. When she called me I told her to wait right there," said Tanya Gilbert, who recently moved to the Van Nuys area from Chicago.

When the mother arrived, she called the LAPD to protest her daughter's removal. But before four Los Angeles police officers arrived with at least one federal agent, Lapriss Gilbert was told she could come back into the building and was escorted to the front of the line by another Paragon security guard.

Paul Dumont said he witnessed the entire incident.

"For her to be told to leave was completely unnecessary, especially considering how peaceful and quiet she was responding to the security officers," Dumont said. "Nobody in that office felt her T-shirt was offensive by any means."

In a statement to police, Dumont said the guard's "loud, unreasonable, aggressive and angry approach to the situation almost caused chaos."

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said that instances of sexual discrimination are rare in federal buildings.

"I haven't seen this type of blatant discrimination in a federal office building before," said Peter Eliasberg, a family attorney for First Amendment rights who spoke on behalf of the ACLU.


Woman's T-shirt causes her ouster

By Douglas Morino
Click photo to enlarge
Lapriss Gilbert, 31, was asked to leave the Social Security... (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

VAN NUYS - A routine trip to the Social Security office Monday turned into 30 minutes of shock, disbelief and irritation for Lapriss Gilbert, who was forced to leave the federal building by a guard who objected to her "lesbian.com" T-shirt.

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive.

She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination ... but this is just shocking," said Gilbert, 31.

Lori Haley, a federal spokeswoman for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - which is under the Homeland Security umbrella - said the guard was out of line.

"We believe that the actions of the contract security guard were inappropriate and unacceptable - we have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

A security guard identified by Gilbert as the one who told her to leave declined to comment.

The guard cited the document, The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof of his jurisdiction over Gilbert's attire, she said.

The document does not specifically address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.

After being kicked out of the federal building, Gilbert called her mother, Tanya Gilbert, who calls herself a longtime activist for gay rights.

The mother and daughter have had same-sex partners for many years.

Tanya Gilbert said she plans to contact her attorney today to file a lawsuit against the Paragon Security Co.

"In 30 years as an activist, this is one of the most unsettling things I have seen. When she called me I told her to wait right there," said Tanya Gilbert, who recently moved to the Van Nuys area from Chicago.

When the mother arrived, she called the LAPD to protest her daughter's removal. But before four Los Angeles police officers arrived with at least one federal agent, Lapriss Gilbert was told she could come back into the building and was escorted to the front of the line by another Paragon security guard.

Paul Dumont said he witnessed the entire incident.

"For her to be told to leave was completely unnecessary, especially considering how peaceful and quiet she was responding to the security officers," Dumont said. "Nobody in that office felt her T-shirt was offensive by any means."

In a statement to police, Dumont said the guard's "loud, unreasonable, aggressive and angry approach to the situation almost caused chaos."

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said that instances of sexual discrimination are rare in federal buildings.

"I haven't seen this type of blatant discrimination in a federal office building before," said Peter Eliasberg, a family attorney for First Amendment rights who spoke on behalf of the ACLU.


Beaten and Arrested by KPFA Bosses

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REbDCcLkaxg On 8/20/2008, police were called by KPFA and Pacifica management to arrest a unpaid staff member Nadra Haeidy Foster at the station for trespassing. She was attacked, hogtied and arrested by the Berkeley police. This interview was conducted at the Alameda court house on 8/25/2008 with some of her supporters. Following the arraignment Lemlem Rijio the interim manager of KPFA entered the court house to drop the charges filed by KFPA and Pacifica. Other charges are still pending. Produced by the Labor Video Project P.O. Box 720027 San Francisco, CA 94172 (415)282-1908 lvpsf [at] labornet.org http://www.laborvideo.org

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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A Golden Day, by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I Found you and I lost you, All on a gleaming day. The day was filled with sunshine, And the land was full of May. A golden bird was singing Its melody divine, I found you and I loved you, And all the world was mine. I found you and I lost you, All on a golden day, But when I dream of you, dear, It is always brimming May.

ALEX JONES 9-11 INSIDE JOB 9-11 TRUTH PROTEST DNC DENVER


Break with the Two Parties of War and Big Business - Vote Nader!

Aug 26, 2008 By Philip Locker
Ordinary Americans have been “shut out of their government by two major parties that, in varying degrees, have turned Washington into corporate-occupied territory,” declared Ralph Nader (USA Today, 3/5/08).

In sharp contrast to Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, Nader is running an insurgent campaign for President as an independent to challenge the corporate stranglehold over U.S. society. Socialist Alternative is strongly supporting Nader’s antiwar, pro-worker campaign, as we did in 2000 and 2004.

Barack Obama has built his campaign around an image and rhetoric of change. However there is little substance behind this image (see pg. 3-4). Despite populist posturing, Obama is tied by a million strings to the political establishment and their big business policies.

If Obama is elected, those who believe – or hope – he will deliver real change will be bitterly disappointed. Further, Obama’s failure to campaign around concrete policies that would benefit working people, rather than vague promises of change, has even put into question his ability to defeat McCain, who should be easy to beat.

Ralph Nader’s campaign, in contrast, will reach millions of people with a radical anti-corporate platform that would dramatically improve the lives of workers and young people:

  • Withdraw ALL U.S. troops and corporations from Iraq
  • Establish a universal single-payer healthcare system
  • Create millions of living wage jobs through public works programs
  • Slash the massive military budget
  • Repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA bill
  • Expand workers’ rights and repeal the Taft-Hartley Act
  • Scrap harmful nuclear power – Invest in clean, renewable energy
  • Abolish the racist death penalty
  • End the failed, racist War on Drugs
Nader’s main strengths are his firm opposition to the Republicans and Democrats as two parties of big business, and his stand against the idea that the Democrats should be supported as a “lesser evil.”

Nader’s campaign will give a voice to an important minority of workers and youth who are searching for a left-wing alternative to the rotten right-wing consensus of corporate politics.

He has consistently received 4 – 6% in polls, though his actual vote could be squeezed by enthusiasm for Obama, especially if the race remains close, as well as the numerous undemocratic obstacles to ballot access.

Nader is not a socialist, but rather a left-wing populist. He mistakenly believes it is sufficient to reform capitalism by exerting more democratic control over big corporations. We believe real change requires a fundamental overturn of the whole capitalist system by the working-class majority of the population (see pg. 8-9).

Nader's main weakness, however, is his unwillingness to use his campaigns as a launching pad for building an on-going political alternative. Nevertheless, his campaign points in the direction of what is needed: a mass party that fights big business and gives a political voice to the disenfranchised working class and oppressed.

All those who want to fight for real change should join us in supporting the Nader campaign. At the same time, we need to build a movement that continues to fight beyond November 4 to address the root cause of society’s problems – the global capitalist system. Join us in the fight to change the system!


CHECATE ESTO

Gloria La Riva at the ILWU May Day March & Rally Cargado por NuestrasVocesTV

Ralph Nader at the UNM Sub - Watch it here

3rd party Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader paid a visit to Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Tuesday, August 26th, on his way to a rally at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. KNME was there and streamed both his press conference and rally live. Here is video from that rally. There are a few technical glitches along the way, so bear with it. Mr. Nader talked longer than we expected so our microphone ran out of battery power at one point, and our disk that we were recording on also ran out at one point, creating some beeping in the background. Still, it was a worthwhile event, and we are committed to covering as many of these presidential visits as possible. posted by Kevin McDonald

Curiouser and Curiouser....talk about a MAD TEA PARTY

Date: Friday, September 19, 2008
Time: Doors open at 8:30 a.m.; program 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Sacramento Convention Center; 1400 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 Map
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER , download Event Flier or call 916-444-1919
Sponsorship Opportunities
Visit the Perspectives 2008 Website Registration
Karl Rove Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas of "Common Ground"
Deepak Chopra Frank Caliendo
with featured emcee, Tom Sullivan
Perspectives is a Metro Chamber signature event. This annual day-long public affairs program draws in an audience of nearly 3,500 people. Since 1995, Perspectives has hosted more than 70 of the world's most influential individuals who share their personal views on world affairs and current events.

What a difference a day makes...

This morning I came across a weird headline....American Right To Life Unfurled World's Largest Protest Sign: DNC Sheets Of Shame - nutty, I know...so I read it out of the car crash theory...and literally, it's the world's largest...and I refused to blog it this morning, as odd as the whole thing is... Anyway... Like life and ocean tides, by the time I arrived home from work, there was a change, an even, fair, flow if you will, I saw the following headline.. 13 anti-abortion protesters arrested now I'm not sure if the world record holders are in the hoosegow now, or not, because I refuse to read this article..but I was also shaken by the oddity of anyone on the right ever being arrested at a public protest events..I'm not expert, they may be arrested all the time..I don't know... I'm all askew from reading such drivel...what is with people who resign their personal sovereignty

Democrats bicker over how hard to hit McCain

By Associated Press | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | 2008 Campaign News
Photo
Photo by AP

DENVER - Democrats bickered among themselves Tuesday about how hard to attack John McCain as the party’s former dominant couple — Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton — took center stage at Barack Obama’s political coronation.

With convention strains persisting between Obama and some former Hillary Clinton supporters, Republicans brought out a new ad pointedly invoking her past criticism that Obama wasn’t ready to lead.

The next two days give star billing to the old Clinton regime even as the party delivers to Obama its presidential nomination.

Obama’s former rival was to urge her disappointed supporters to line up in unity behind him in a prime-time speech Tuesday night. She did a midday check of the convention-hall podium, accompanied by daughter Chelsea.

Her husband, former President Clinton, speaks Wednesday night.

McCain’s latest TV ad reprises her primary campaign spot featuring sleeping children and a 3 a.m. phone call portending a crisis. In the new ad Clinton is shown saying: "I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And, Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

A narrator adds: "Hillary’s right. John McCain for president."

Some Democratic activists, meanwhile, voiced concern that the convention has yet to produce a sustained attack against the Republican presidential candidate.

In particular, they cited former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s preview of his Tuesday night keynote speech in which he suggested he would not make a red-meat attack on McCain but an appeal for bipartisanship.

"There may be parts of the speech that aren’t going to get a lot of applause, but I’ve got to say what I believe will get our country back on the right path," Warner — who was neutral in the party primaries — told reporters on Monday.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala took issue with Warner’s comments, suggesting that more partisanship, not less, was needed at the party convention. "This isn’t the Richmond Chamber of Commerce," Begala said Tuesday.

On Monday, James Carville told CNN: "If this party has a message, it’s done a hell of a job hiding it tonight, I promise you that."

Both Begala and Carville were top strategists behind Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential bid.

Party chief Howard Dean dismissed such criticism.

"We don’t need to attack McCain" during opening events, Dean told delegates from Ohio, a battleground state. "There will be plenty of time for that." It’s more important now to introduce the nation to Obama and running mate Joe Biden, Dean said.

"There is not a unity problem," he added. If anyone doubts that, he said, "wait ’til you see Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight."

Even so, internal strains remained. Former party chairman Don Fowler, a former Clinton supporter, questioned the attitudes of some Clinton delegates.

"All you need is 200 people in that crowd to boo and stuff like that and it will be replayed 900 times. And that’s not what you want out of this," he said in an interview.

Anna Burger, the chair of Change to Win, made up of seven unions, said some Clinton supporters were having a hard time letting go and switching loyalties to Obama. But, she said in an interview with The Associated Press, "the vast majority of them have."

"We have to leave here Friday ready for action," said Burger, a convention speaker Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, McCain is expected to name his running mate in the coming days.

Two prospective contenders were to be in Denver on his behalf to assail Democrats: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday. It amounted to a final audition of sorts.

Biden, in his first public remarks since joining the ticket, confided to home-state Delaware delegates he "didn’t always comport myself in the way that I wanted to."

He did not elaborate, but aides said it was mostly a reference to Biden’s reputation for long-windedness and off-the-cuff remarks that sometimes backfired. He ended his 1988 presidential run amid allegations of plagiarism. As he began a 2007 run, he called Obama "articulate" and "clean." He also drew criticism for saying "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."

Biden, at times emotional, thanked fellow Delaware Democrats for their tolerance as his large family listened.

Clinton once seemed to have the nomination in her grasp and now is being called on to defend and support the person who wrested it from her. She is effectively playing middlewoman Tuesday night — passing a torch from her husband, the 42nd president, to Obama, who wants to succeed him as the next Democratic president.

But not without some Clinton-style political dealmaking and drama.

The Clinton and Obama camps agreed to limit Wednesday’s potentially divisive nominating process for president, allowing some states to cast votes for both Obama and Clinton before ending the roll call in an acclamation for the Illinois senator.

Clinton herself may cut off the voting and urge the unanimous nomination of Obama, according to Democratic officials involved in the negotiations.

But some Clinton delegates said they were not interested in a compromise, raising the prospect of unwelcome floor demonstrations.

Gloria Allred, a California celebrity lawyer and pledged Clinton delegate, briefly disrupted a breakfast meeting of the California delegation on Tuesday. Wearing a gag over her mouth, she protested efforts to discourage Clinton supporters from speaking out.

"There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is Barack Obama’s convention," Clinton said on Monday. And yet, she said, some of her delegates "feel an obligation to the people who sent them here" and would vote for her.

As part of the deal, Obama and Clinton activists teamed up and circulated three petitions on the convention floor Monday night — supporting submission of Clinton’s and Obama’s names for president in the roll call and Biden’s for vice president. Each needed 300 signatures.

The second-day lineup also features 11 governors and prominent House and Senate leaders.

Former Vice President Al Gore, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin are among the speakers lined up for Thursday night’s convention finale.

Obama will accept the nomination before an estimated 75,000 people at the Denver Broncos’ football stadium that night.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are viewed favorably by a majority of adults, according to a USA Today-Gallup poll released Tuesday.

She is viewed favorably by 54 percent of those surveyed and unfavorably by 43 percent. His ratings are similar: 52 percent to 44 percent. About half — 52 percent — said they’d like to see her run again for president.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/politics/2008/view.bg?articleid=1115255

Healing medicine, by Dr. Andrew Weil, Whole Earth 1997

Andrew Weil

The biomedical model we have used for the past century has reached its limit of effectiveness. The word "healing" is not used in medicine today, with one exception. The first-year histology course includes some talk about wound healing, But outside of that, the word healing is not used in medicine. One of the points that I made in Spontaneous suggest that the human body has a healing system. Not a very radical idea. All you have to do is watch cut finger heal to see very clearly that the body has a capacity for awareness of troubles and the mechanisms for repairing tissue. Yet it is discouraging to find that it's much easier to talk with children about the body's healing capacities than with most of my colleagues. If a kid gets an "owie" you say watch what happens. If you try to talk to most physicians about the body's system, it's easy for them to dismiss this as more New Age fluff. It is not New Age fluff, it is physiological reality. Any level of biological organization that we examine, from DNA up to the most complex body systems, shows the capacity for self-diagnosis, for removal of damaged structure, for regeneration of new structure.

Why are medical students never taught that the body has healing functions or healing systems? First, consider the great lopsided emphasis on disease processes rather than on health in the pre-clinical years of medical school. Second, when medical students get to their clinical years, they are seeing very sick people, hospitalized people, a population in which healing responses occur less frequently than in the general population. If your whole world of illness is hospitalized patients, that tends to make you more pessimistic about possibilities of healing.

But there is a deeper problem here with the nature of western science and medicine in general. We are very locked into looking at the body as a set of structures and structural systems rather than functional systems. The healing system is not a structural system. I can't show you a slide of it, the way that I could show you a slide of the circulatory or digestive systems. In some cases, as with circulation and digestion, structure and function are relatively synonymous. But other cases, notably healing, demonstrate no neat correlation of a function with a set of body structures. The healing system makes use of all of the structural systems -- the normal operations of the circulatory, nervous, immune, and endocrine systems, and more, for its operations.

For a variety of cultural reasons, Chinese medicine developed along functional rather than structural lines. For one, it was unthinkable in traditional Chinese society to cut into a dead human body. So Chinese thinkers had to develop their system in the absence of detailed knowledge of internal structures of the human body. They focused instead on developing a science of functional relationships, spheres of function and their inter-relationships. One sphere identified very early was a defensive sphere concerned with self-protection against various kinds of environmental or internal threats. That concept led physicians to explore Nature to find ways to protect and enhance this function. An impressive array of remedies in the Chinese traditional pharmacopoeia are highly valued because they are believed to increase body defensiveness. This includes a number of species of mushrooms and some higher plants, which are very much prized as tonics to extend longevity, increase resistance of all kinds, make people generally healthier.

Note how recently, in western medicine, we identified and recognized the functions of some organs. We identified these as structures, but didn't know what they did. When I was at Harvard Medical School in the late 1960s, I was still taught that many of these organs were functionless. it requires an amazing degree of hubris to say that because you don't know the function of something, therefore it has no function, then to take it even one step further, and give surgeons license to take it out because it's just taking up space. When I was growing up, no one made it to adolescence with their tonsils and adenoids intact. Similarly, I know many patients, right up through the 1980s, who went into leading hospitals for abdominal surgery, a hysterectomy, or gall bladder removal, and did not find out until they got their hospital bills that their appendix had also been taken out, as a useless structure that could give trouble at some point. Physicians systematically destroyed young children's thymus glands throughout the 1950s in the belief that they were useless structures that got too big in childhood and adolescence and should be bombarded with X-rays to shrink them to normal size.

Meanwhile in the East, without any knowledge of thymuses and appendices, tonsils and adenoids, Chinese doctors recognized a defensive function of the body and gained very practical information about how to strengthen it. The mushrooms and plants that the Chinese doctors have been using for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, now turn out actually to increase immune function. They are non-toxic, they increase phagocytosis, movement of macro phages, and various aspects of immune function. They are now a very hot item of research because they may be potentially useful for the treatment of AIDS and other chronic viral conditions that we can't manage in western medicine because we don't have technologic weapons. This is not to deny the importance of structural thinking, but more emphasis on function would make apparent the body's principle of self-organization, the ability to diagnose problems, repair damaged structure, and regenerate structure.

Remarkably, no systematic study has ever been made of healing. We have a phenomenon that we call "spontaneous remission" which is considered a curiosity with no particular explanation. When you talk to doctors and to most patients about spontaneous remission, they immediately think of cancer. Cancer is the worst place to look to understand the functions of the body's healing system because, very simply, in order for a malignant cell to survive all of the levels of defense that the body has for weeding out malignancy, and to get to the point of a clinically detected tumor, a long-term failure of the body's healing mechanisms has already occurred.

Cases of healing in cancer still occur, and are fascinating, but that's not the best place to understand the body's healing system. A much better place to look, for example, is autoimmunity. It is the nature of autoimmune diseases to go into periods of remission and exacerbation. Therapists and clinicians should be working on diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, because these have a natural tendency to go into remission.

I would argue that most disease is self-limited. This is certainly my experience as a clinician and as a patient. This fact makes interpretation of therapy very difficult. If most diseases end by themselves, then it may be that a great many practitioners, both conventional and unconventional, are taking credit for methods that have nothing to do with the outcomes. At any rate, I can think of nothing more important to study than how diseases end. Yet we have not done this in medicine. This is not a research priority. We don't collect these cases, we don't try to analyze them, we don't try to look for common factors.

Furthermore, one of the connections of the healing system is to consciousness. In many cases a healing response seems to have followed immediately upon some change at the level of consciousness. That does not prove that there is a cause-and-effect relationship but it certainly is suggestive. There is a danger, especially on the part of New Age therapists, of suggesting to patients that illness is entirely the result of people's emotions, or moods, for which they are responsible. A dangerous line of reasoning, this is often unhelpful and creates in the patients guilt which will, if anything, interfere with healing.

When I was in medical school, I asked many women of my grandmother's generation why they had breast cancer. The answers, 100 percent of the time, had to do with an old injury. Today we know of no association between trauma and breast cancer, but this was the idea then. Today, if you ask American women why they think they got breast cancer, they respond with formulations like, "I bottled up my feelings for all those years" or "I never expressed the rage I felt at my husband." That may have no more of a causal relationship with breast cancer than the idea that an injury caused it, but a cultural shift has happened. If you believe you get breast cancer because you fall against a table, that's fate. But if you get breast cancer because you don't express feelings, then that's your fault. I am not suggesting that. I just point out that I have repeatedly seen healing responses, some very dramatic, immediately following some shift at the level of consciousness.

Some years ago I reported two cases of women in their thirties who came into my experience at the same time. They both had advanced cases of systemic lupuserythematosous. One woman was hospitalized and was not expected to live. Her kidneys and autoimmune process were severely impaired, and she had malignant hypertension, which could not be controlled by pharmaceutical agents. The other woman also had a lot of kidney and brain involvement. She had psychotic periods and her lupus was unresponsive to the strongest immuno-suppressive drugs. The hospitalized woman had a conversion in the hospital to some variety of fundamentalist Christianity. The other woman fell in love and subsequently was married. To the astonishment of their doctors, both of them are now in permanent remission.

I cannot often arrange for my patients to fall in love or have religious conversions, but it's very important to note that possibility, even if you don't know how to make it happen. Something can be accessed there. I cannot tell you how many cases I've seen, mostly in men, who have had debilitating back pain to the point where they were told they had to have disc surgery. Their CAT scans and MRI scans looked awful. Nobody knew what to do to them, they were on immense amounts of pain medication. Then they fell in love and the back pain disappeared instantly. That's amazing! What happens? Is this just a matter of endorphins? I don't think so. I think there is something more going on, and it certainly behooves us to direct our research attention to it.

I have reported many things done by people in different cultures to get rid of cutaneous warts. Most interestingly, there is no unity to what people do. Treatment ranges from rubbing a wart with a cut potato and burying the potato under a particular kind of tree during a particular phase of the moon, to being touched by the neighborhood wart healer, to selling your wart to your sibling. These actions seemingly have nothing in common, but people will do them, with two types of response. Some do it in the evening, and the next morning they touch the wart and it falls off and doesn't grow back. Equally common is to do one of these procedures and over the next two to three weeks the wart shrivels up, goes away, and doesn't grow back.

In allopathic medicine, we bum warts off with an electric spark or freeze them with liquid nitrogen, or use an acid that is so corrosive that you have to be very careful not to get it on normal skin. When we apply these methods to warts, in better than fifty percent of the instances the warts grow back, usually in multiple clusters. This is a model for how allopathic medicine has evolved. We approach many problems with the same crudity that we approach cutaneous warts, and with not much better success, while we ignore the possibility that there is a very precise innate healing mechanism that can be activated through the level of consciousness.

Stories about wart cures are told sometimes by doctor as examples of patients' gullibility. One doctor told me that he had a patient at a rural hospital in South Dakota who had warts all over his body. They had been burned off repeatedly and had always regrown multiply. Finally, on a whim one day, the doctor and a colleague told the guy that they had a new form of radiation that could make warts go away. They had him stand in a darkened X-ray room while they made the machine hum for thirty seconds. The next day the warts fell off all over his body and didn't grow back. But this story was told as an example of how you can really put things over on patients, rather than seeing it as a marvelous example of how the body's healing machinery can be accessed through the level of belief We don't take these things seriously in our medical teaching and research and practice because they don't fit our conceptions.

One other anomaly: our culture manifests an epidemic of multiple personality disorders. When I was in medical school, multiple personality was so rare that if you ever got a case of it, you were guaranteed publication in a psychiatric journal. Now, everyone is seeing cases of multiple personality, and people have far more personalities than they used to in the past ... thirty, forty personalities. One of the most interesting aspects is physiological differences between the personalities. One woman with a violent allergy to citrus gets giant hives on consuming citrus, but one of her personalities is not allergic. If that personality can emerge within fifteen minutes of consuming a citrus fruit, there is no allergic response. We have seen reports of insulin-dependent diabetics with different insulin requirements for different personalities. A woman with multiple personality was studied by a friend of mine. They were having dinner together. They had wine with dinner, they had a before-dinner drink and she ordered an after-dinner drink, and he said "You know, we have to drive home" and she said, "Don't worry, I'm not the one who is going to be driving."

This is easily researchable. Apparently, it doesn't matter how multiple personality disorder is explained, or whether or not it is "real"; the brain is the hardware of the system and you can run different software through it and come out with very different results. What a wonderful thing to know in clinical medicine. These people, if you could get them together, could be fabulous teachers, fabulous people to have as your allies as a doctor, to teach patients with allergies or with various conditions how to modify their physiology. That would be a wonderful thing, but we'll never know that if we don't research these things, if we don't take them seriously, if we don't adjust our view of the body and of illness to take account of consciousness.

COPYRIGHT 1997 New Whole Earth LLC COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning


DNC Protest Organizers to Hold Press Conference at Denver Police Department

Media Advisory FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts: Glenn Spagnuolo 720-771-4669 Larry Hales 720-979-9491 Dustin Langley 646-354-8056

**DNC Protest Organizers to Hold Press Conference at Denver Police Department**

When: 3:15 pm Tuesday, August 26 Where: Denver Police Department, W. 13th Ave & Cherokee St. What: Press Conference

Representatives from the Recreate 68 Alliance, the Troops Out Now Coalition, Unconventional Action, and Peoples Law Collective, joining with arrestees who have been released, will hold a press conference at 3:15 to address:

- the police state atmosphere created by the Denver Police Department - provocations and violence instigated by the Denver Police Department last night - the refusal of the Denver Police Department to honor Recreate 68’s permit for Civic Center Park - the Denver Police Department’s protection of right-wing provocateurs who are disrupting peaceful protests


U.S. Nuclear Weapons Being “Guarded” by Israel

American supporters of Israel were delighted to learn that an Israeli company, Magal Security Systems-owned in part by the government of Israel-is in charge of security for the most sensitive nuclear power and weapons storage facilities in the United States.

The largest perimeter security company in the world, Magal started out as a division of Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI)-which was owned in part by the government of Israel. In recent years, however, Magal evolved into a publicly-traded company, although IAI (and thus the government of Israel) still holds a substantial share in the highly successful firm.

What all of this means is that the government of Israel will actually have control over the security of America's nuclear weapons.

Supporters of Israel say that this is a splendid idea, since Israel is said to be perhaps America's closest ally on the face of the planet. However, there are some critics who question the propriety of America's super-sensitive nuclear security being in the hands of any foreign nation, particularly Israel which, even today, officially denies that it is engaged in the production of nuclear arms.

Be that as it may, however, Magal's global interests are quite broad-ranging. Having secured 90 percent of Israel's borders through a wide-ranging array of super-modern "space age" technology, Magal has now branched out internationally.

Not only does Magal provide security for American nuclear facilities, but it also does likewise for most major nuclear facilities in Western Europe and Asia. In addition, the Israeli firm also provides security for Chicago's O'Hare Airport and, for the last fifteen years, has kept watch on the Queen of England's famed Buckingham Palace in London. What's more, Magal provides security for 90% of the American prisons that utilize electronic systems. Magal brags that its other clients around the globe include: borders, airports, industrial sites, communication centers, military installations, correctional facilities, government agencies, VIP estates and residences, commercial buildings and storage yards.

There is hardly a major country or major enterprise that does not have Magal's security specialists keeping a close watch on their activities.

Clearly, Magal is no small enterprise. While 27% of its total sales are in the Israeli market, its largest market is in North America, which currently accounts for 35% of its sales.

However, Magal's American outreach is expected to increase substantially, especially now that firm has set up a Washington, D.C. office which will promote its products to federal agencies and to the members of Congress who provide funding for federally-supervised security projects across the country at all levels: local, state and national.

And with current U.S. Homeland Security Chief, Michael Chertoff, not only a strong supporter of Israel but also the son of a woman who has strong Israeli ties-even including service with El Al, the national airline of Israel-Magal, owned in party by Israeli Aircraft Industries-will be a clear-cut favorite in the eyes of the power brokers in official Washington who have the power to grant lucrative security contracts.

At the moment, Magal has four U.S.-based subsidiaries: two in California, Stellar Security Products, Inc. and Perimeter Products Inc., as well as the New York-based Smart Interactive Systems, Inc., and the Virginia-based Dominion Wireless, Inc.

All told, the Israeli company holds a 40% share in the worldwide market in perimeter intrusion detection systems and is working to expand its business in the protection of oil pipelines.

Magal is also said to be quite interested in guarding water lines around the globe, particularly in the United States. In fact, Magal may have an inside shot at getting a monopoly in guarding America's water supplies.

On July 19, the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency announced a "partnership" with the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures to improve what they called "water supply system security in the United States and Israel." Since Magal is so highly respected in Israel, it's an even bet that Magal will soon be guarding the U.S. water supply.


Cindy Sheehan Bugged in Denver

Cindy Sheehan returned to her Denver hotel room today to find the door unlocked and ajar. She walked in to discover a man working on her phone, screw driver in hand. Sheehan reported, in an email,
"As I walked toward my room, I noticed that the door was opened with the security bolt blocking the complete closing of the door. I knew immediately that I had not left the door open, and I double checked to make sure it was the right room because, as a frequent traveler, I have been known to forget my room number, but it was the right room. I was upset at first thinking that housekeeping had made a mistake and left my room open and I was worried that something might be missing. So I walked into my room and bigger than life, there was a man standing by my desk holding the room phone with a screwdriver in his hand! I immediately said; "What the hell are you doing? Are you putting a bug on my phone?" He looked like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and stammered out: "N--no, we are having problems with the phone." I told him to get out of my room because my phone was fine and I called the front desk and the person at the front desk stammered something out about "problems" with some of the phones. This room was reserved soon after we got to Denver last night because the room we had was inadequate for 3 people. The room was reserved under my campaign manager's name with a CFC debit card. By the time we left for the march, it could have very well been ascertained that I was the one in this room, and the room we did reserve could be bugged, also. I am confident that that's what was happening when I walked in on the "maintenance" man" You don't come in the room with a screwdriver if there are problems with the hotel phones. You do it electronically, through the system or you hook up a new phone.

She said to me, "How many hotel rooms have I been in the past four years? It was so obvious." I asked, "Do you think it was Pelosi's people?" since Sheehan is running against Pelosi, for her congressional seat. She replied, "Of course, I don't know." I asked, "Have there been any other episodes that would make you believe this kind of action is being taken against you?"

She replied,

"Not since I've been running for congress, but there were several times when I was in Crawford, or protesting in D.C., when I felt like we were being surveiled. And actually, in Washington D.C., for a period of time, they would just blatantly follow me, and I would just invite them to come in and have coffee with me. Whenever I was in D.C., whose ever jurisdiction it was, I'd have either the Metro police, the Capitol Hill police or the Park police right on me. Sometimes they were in uniform and sometimes they were plainclothes. But they were very obvious.

Asked how her campaign is going, Sheehan replied,

"I believe the momentum is definitely on our side, especially the last couple weeks, with our signature drive. The department of elections started to mess with our signatures and say that so many were in-valid, when we knew for a fact that they were valid, because I was checking them myself, on the computer. That really motivated people to help us-- to come to the office to help us or sign the petition (to get Cindy on the ballot) or whatever, that said that they had been meaning to help and that this was something that got them of the fence and got them to actually come into the office and volunteer. We've had ten of thousands of dollars come into the campaign since then and we really have a comfortable amount of money to get our message out-- the message that our country is in deep trouble and Nancy is definitely not the solution. She's part of the problem. And we're going to educate the people of San Francisco about this using alternative forms of media and convince them that I am the alternative-- that I will work to be the voice of the people of San Francisco. And that's something that she has not ever been. I think there is a lot of positive excitement and momentum. Her book tour didn't help her out any. The campaign's going great. We've been able to hire more staff.

Asked about her goals for Denver, she described,

"after protesting the Republicans for so many years, the Democrats have been moving steadily to the right. We want to show that we're not okay with that, that we want to bring the party closer to the people and further from the corporate lobbyists. So many people are waking up and starting to realize that there is very little difference in the leadership of the two parties. Working for an altenative third party or independent is one way to bring about real change. So many people with Obama shirts and pins have come up to me and told me that they're 100% on my side and they're very distressed with the right turn of the Obama campaign and the democratic party and they're hoping that demonstrations that we were at earlier, and that will be happening all week, will bring their party to where they think it should be.

Meanwhile, Cindy's hotel room phone is in the hotel room refrigerator.


California Hillary Delegates Protesting

Hillary Clinton may not have that much control over her own delegates, who are still whipped up into a frenzy over what they view as slights from the Obama campaign.

Clinton delegate and Los Angeles women's lawyer Gloria Allred grabbed a napkin from the tables at the California delegation breakfast this morning and wore it as a gag to protest not being allowed to speak at the breakfast.

"I was not elected to be a potted plant," Allred said through her gag, holding up DNC rules that say delegates must vote as they are elected. California has 204 delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton, versus 166 for Obama.

Clinton delegate Julie Wong of Los Gatos was handing out white wrist bands to rally solidarity at the convention tonight when Clinton speaks. Hillary supporters have a march planned for today, which coincides with the anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

Allred said Clinton herself "doesn't have the legal power" to tell her own delegates how to vote. "She can do it, but that doesn't mean we have to do it," Allred said.

The Obama and Clinton camps have worked out an agreement to limit a symbolic but potentially divisive roll call vote Wednesday. Hillary has said she will vote for Obama herself, and has vowed to work for party unity, knowing her own political future rests on it.

Her husband may be a bigger problem. He's said to be still smarting over being labeled a racist during the primaries, and he's got his own speech Wednesday night -- stretching out Clinton double billing that will continue to distract from Obama's unity message. If there's anything Bill Clinton knows how to do, it's steal a show.


Video: Peaceful protesters blocked by police in Denver

By Paul Schmelzer 8/26/08 10:06 AM

A peaceful protest in Denver last night turned ugly as police in riot gear blocked progress of a march down a public street, turning tear gas and paintballs on the corralled crowd, according to the American News Project. In a city that looks to one observer more like a fortress, many protesters were demonstrating against Barack Obama. Around 80 people were arrested. A preamble to St. Paul, where audiences are expected to be less sympathetic to the crowd gathered in the convention center?


Elizabeth Ellis: Nader would get nation back on track

Elizabeth Ellis 8/26/2008 5:34 am

Dear Editor:

Yes, as Briana Nestler said in her Aug. 17 letter, Ralph Nader is doing well, and may well meet the target of getting on the ballot in 45 states. Wisconsin voters may join Massachusetts in seeing the high value of not just choice, but a STRONG CHALLENGE to the two-party corporate corrupt politics by a public interest leader in a career that has netted a limelight household name stature for Nader's good deeds and leadership for government ON TRACK.

Ballot access allows for a new candidate strong enough to challenge the status quo -- a candidate who aims to end the war, uphold the U.S. Constitution, show ability by a proven track record to uphold the duties of a president to lead the country and not usurp Congress, and to offer ON TRACK directions wanted by the nation. These policies should and can win: environmental protection, energy renewable resources and elimination of foreign dependence on oil, and a budget on track for people's priorities for the public not private interests.

Elizabeth Ellis

Cambridge, Mass.

Nader gets name on Wyoming ballot

"If you're not happy with John McCain and you're not happy with Barack Obama, why spend your vote on somebody you don't believe in? To me, that's wasting your vote," he said. "If you vote (for) the candidate you believe in and who stands for issues that represent you, that's the best use you could have of a vote."

From the streets: The middle of a protest

USA TODAY's Garrett Hubbard was on the scene Monday when Denver police in riot gear and about 300 protesters clashed near the site of the Democratic National Convention. The Associated Press says about 100 people were arrested.

As you can see in this video report he put together, Garrett got roughed up as well:


Nader/Gonzalez '08 Calls DNC Out for Avoiding Big Issues at National Convention

1. You won't hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that, in just the last few years, have robbed trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms that won't be suggested are resources to prosecute executive crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power. Democrats will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains, to rein in executive pay, ending corporate personhood, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.

2. The convention will not demand that workers receive a living wage instead of an inflation ravaged minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers willing to form or join trade unions to improve wages and benefits above Wal-Mart or McDonald's levels.

3. Barack Obama will not call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA. Trade agreements should stick to trade while labor, environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties with strong enforcement mechanisms without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.

4. Obama will steer clear of any suggestion that our income tax system be substantially revamped. Workers should keep more of their wages while we tax the things we like least at the source, such as polluters, stock speculation, addictive industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for 50 years and now stand at about 7.4 percent despite massive record profits.

5. There will be no call for a single-payer health care system. Sixty years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands of lives while maintaining patient choice of doctors and hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.

6. There is no reason to believe that the Democrats will stand up to the commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We need a straightforward carbon pollution tax, not a convoluted cap-and-trade system that would invite massive manipulation. We need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these entrenched interests with new initiatives in solar energy, efficiency in motor vehicles, and other sustainable and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be any recognition that current fossil fuels are producing cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements. Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that leads to contaminated water and air in our cities, to toxic dumps in poorer neighborhoods, and to high toxicities in the workplace.

7. Democrats will not demand a reduction in the bloated, redundant military budget that devours half the federal government's operating expenditures at a time when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world. Studies by the Government Accountability Office and internal Pentagon assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.

8. You won't hear a clarion call for electoral reform. Both parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated voters. Nor will there be any suggestion that law-abiding ex-felons be allowed to vote. Other electoral reforms should include reducing ballot access barriers to candidates, same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic voting, run-off voting to ensure winners receive a majority vote, binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public financing to guarantee clean elections.

9. You will hear no calls for reform of the criminal justice system. Our nation now holds one out of four of the world's prisoners, half of them nonviolent. While they attempt to counter Republican charges that they favor criminals over victims, Democrats will say nothing about a failed war on drugs that costs $50 billion annually. And they will not argue that addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for any call to repeal the "three strikes and you're out" laws that have filled our jails.

10. Democrats will ignore the Israeli peace movement whose members have developed accords for a two-state solution with their Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the Washington puppet show with a Washington peace show for the security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.

11. The Democrats will not call for the United States to begin a military and corporate total withdrawal from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would result in mainstream Iraqis no longer supporting or joining the insurgency. Internationally UN-supervised elections will allow for appropriate autonomy for the Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite communities within a unified Iraq. Seriously waging peace will be far cheaper than a permanent war economy which is generating huge deficits and diverting attention, talent, and resources from the necessities of the American people.

12. Democrats will not stand up to business interests that have demanded changes that close the courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to corporations. Where is the campaign against fraud and injury upon innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful practices in the marketplace. To the voters I say: Don't hold your breath waiting for the Democrats to put people before corporations. Watch as this Convention obeys the 12 taboos.


ECUADOR: President "Stabbed In the Back" by Church Over Constitution

By Rosa Rodríguez QUITO The campaign for the Sept. 28 referendum on Ecuador’s newly rewritten constitution has got under way, with fierce arguments between the document's supporters and opponents. At the moment the main conflict is between those in favour of the new constitution, approved Jul. 24 by the Constituent Assembly, and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Church prelates are vigorously opposed to the proposed constitution because they allege it opens the door to the legalisation of abortion and same-sex marriage, although the word "abortion" is not mentioned in any of its articles. "Certain aspects of the text are unacceptable to a Christian conscience," the president of the Ecuadoran Episcopal Conference (CEE), Antonio Arregui, said earlier this month. He added that the Roman Catholic faithful would be offered "catechism" about the content of the new constitution so that they would be properly informed when it came time to vote. Ecuador is a secular state, but over 90 percent of its 14 million people are Roman Catholics. President Rafael Correa and the former president of the Constituent Assembly, Alberto Acosta, responded forcefully to the CEE statement. The Catholic Church hierarchy is taking a political stance by openly supporting the No vote against the constitution, clearly aligning itself with rightwing sectors, Correa said. Acosta publicly released a document he had received from the CEE, making a number of proposals to the Constituent Assembly, including recognition of de facto unions between same-sex couples. Acosta told IPS that as president of the Constituent Assembly, he had on several occasions met with Catholic bishops. At one of these meetings they gave him a document, dated Apr. 1, 2008, signed by Arregui among others, which included a proposal for recognising "stable unions between couples, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation." "A good many of these proposals were included" in the draft constitution, Acosta added. Last Thursday, in an interview broadcast by La Luna radio station in Quito, Correa said he felt the opposition by the Catholic hierarchy to be a betrayal, "like a stab in the back." A practising Catholic himself, he said that when he met with other South American presidents he used to brag about being the only leftwing president who had a good relationship with the Catholic hierarchy, but now that has changed. Former CEE presiding bishop Néstor Herrera told the Internet news portal Ecuadorinmediato.com that the Catholic hierarchy would "make war" on Correa during the referendum campaign. "If President Rafael Correa is looking for a battle with us, unfortunately we will have to make war on him," the bishop said. Maintaining that the Church "has never looked for a fight before, nor is it looking for one now," the bishop said the Catholic Church is carrying out its pastoral task, which is "to make the faithful aware of the scope of this political instrument (the constitution), in the light of Catholic convictions." Herrera said the president was "mistaken" when he alleged that the Church was being "political" by announcing it would offer "catechism" about the text of the constitution now under consideration. Catechism, he said, "is broad and detailed teaching on the foundations of our faith, so that Christians may understand and direct their lives by it." The Church has clearly stated it will not take a stand on either side of the matter of the referendum, he insisted. But immediately afterwards he contradicted himself: Correa should not worry, he said, because the Yes vote looks like it will win by a comfortable margin, while the Church "has neither the government's publicity apparatus nor the president's popularity" to promote the No vote. Bishop Mario Ruiz Navas also complained that the proposed constitution is too "statist," and puts an end to state support for private schools, particularly religious schools. But several priests and laypersons expressed disagreement with these views. A new constitution was a key campaign pledge by President Rafael Correa, who took office Jan. 15, 2007. Although over 81 percent of Ecuadoreans voted in April 2007 for the convening of a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country's constitution, the process of producing the document which will be submitted to the will of the electorate next month has been arduous. Tens of thousands of small farmers, indigenous peoples and social organisations rallied last Saturday in Quito to hear Correa speak in favour of the constitution, according to international press reports. The atmosphere was festive and upbeat, with music, singing and dancing. According to surveys published by Santiago Pérez Investigaciones and Perfiles de Opinión, two polling firms, 66 percent of interviewees have already decided how they will vote on Sept. 28. The poll results differ in the percentages of voter intentions for Yes or No to the new constitution, and in the numbers of blank or spoiled ballots they forecast. According to Pérez Investigaciones, which carries out surveys for the government, 50 percent of interviewees would vote Yes and 29 percent would vote No. The survey by Perfiles, in contrast, indicates 41 percent voting Yes, while the sum of No votes, blank and spoiled ballots would come to 45.9 percent. For the constitution to be approved, Yes votes must reach over 50 percent of the ballots cast. Given the current uncertainty as to the outcome of the referendum, in the view of consultant Paulina Recalde of Perfiles de Opinión, the Church is a significant political factor because it enjoys broad credibility. "The scenario is a complicated one for the president, because if he makes comments denigrating or offending the Church in any way, he may hurt the feelings of believers," she said. The questionnaire administered by Pérez Investigaciones included the question: "Are the groups that oppose the constitution against it because it is a bad constitution, or because they fear losing their privileges?" Sixty-three percent answered that their opposition was for fear of loss of privilege, and 25 percent replied that it was because it was a bad constitution. According to the same survey, 55 percent of interviewees said that the work of the Constituent Assembly had been done well, or very well. Cedatos, another firm, published the results of a survey of 1,400 people in 15 cities, indicating that 41 percent would vote Yes and 35 percent would vote No. On Aug. 16, in Guayaquil, Ecuador's main port and largest city with over two million people, 250 kilometres southwest of the capital, during Correa's weekly nationwide radio programme, broadcast from the Catholic University of Guayaquil, groups of university students supporting the Yes and No votes clashed with police. Both sides have tried to take the moral high ground by blaming their opponents for instigating the violence. In early August, close to 100 rural and urban social organisations, in particular ECUARUNARI, the Confederation of Peoples of the Quechua Nation, the largest member of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), announced the formation of an autonomous "Social Front" to campaign for the Yes vote, while keeping a distance between themselves and the government.

There is no logic in politics

There is no logic in politics. Haha, no really though. There isn't (click link to read about study): "None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged. Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones." Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. In Timothy Leary's 8 circuits of consciousness: political beliefs are at the 2nd circuit. They get defended at the Emotional Territorial level:
"As every parent knows, the toddler is no longer a passive (bio-survival) infant but a mammalian politician, full of physical (and psychic) territorial demands, quick to meddle in family business and decision-making. Again the first imprint on this circuit remains constant for life (unless brainwashed) and identifies the stimuli which will automatically trigger dominant, aggressive behavior or submissive, cooperative behavior. When we say that a person is behaving emotionally, egotistically or 'like a two-year-old,' we mean that s/he is blindly following one of the tunnel-realities imprinted on this circuit." Robert Anton Wilson - Cosmic Trigger
That's right... the TODDLER level! (which corresponds to Jung's Feeling, Freud's Anal, Bern's Adapted and Sagan's Mammal level in their respective psychological typologies.) That's where we are in society today people, the toddler level! And putting Dubya among the pictures was too easy! :p (the old Blair & Chiraq pics are because this copied page is old ;p) Btw whenever they whine about democracy they speak of Greece, well yes DIRECT democracy we get from ancient Greece. However REPRESENTATIVE democracy - which is based on lies, manipulation, deceit & corruption - comes straight out of the DARK AGES. "If one wants to recognize effortlessly the essense of politics, let one reflect upon the fact that it was a Hitler who was able to make the world hold its breath for many years. The fact that Hitler was a political genius unmasks the nature of politics in general as no other fact can." Wilhelm Reich, The mass psychology of fascism Doublespeak is language deliberately constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a 'communication bypass'. Such language is associated with governmental, military, and corporate institutions. Doublespeak may be in the form of bald euphemisms ('downsizing' for 'firing of many employees') or deliberately ambiguous phrases ('wet work' for 'assassination'). Doublespeak is distinguished from other euphemisms through its deliberate usage by governmental, military, or corporate institutions. "Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." George Orwell "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies." Groucho Marx "There are no political solutions, only technological ones, the rest is propaganda." Jacques Ellul "Don't you know that if people could bottle the air they would? Don't you know that there would be an American Air-Bottling Association? And don't you know they would allow thousands and millions to die if they could not pay for air? I am not blaming anybody. I am just telling how it is." Robert Ingersoll, A Lay Sermon "Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us." Leo Tolstoy

Monday, August 25, 2008

RIOT IN DOWNTOWN DENVER! (Photos & Video)

From: http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com <----rightards UPDATE: Here's video from the rioting tonight in downtown Denver.
Leftist activists with the National Lawyers Guild were tracking how many arrests were made by the local fascist police state officials. Here's an interview at the scene of the crime(s): * * * * * RIOT IN DOWNTOWN DENVER! At least 16 anarchists and young Leftists were arrested tonight near the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Denver. The Denver riot police blocked off several blocks in downtown Denver around the hotel. The police were wearing their gas masks during the standoff that went on for hours. Zombie Times was down at the riots. The Denver Post has a live cam on the protesters here. Hundreds of police officers were called to the scene. ** Video coming soon!

Before the Creation of Light...

Chaos of Primitive Gases... (huh...whu....)
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The less fluffily worded convention experience..

Democrats convene in Denver amid police state security and a sea of corporate cash

By Bill Van Auken 26 August 2008

Nothing could more graphically expose the political fraud of the “change you can believe in” mantra promoted by the Democrats and their presidential candidate Barack Obama than the reactionary atmosphere surrounding the party’s national convention, which kicked off Monday in Denver, Colorado.

The more than 4,000 Democratic delegates—covered by an army of some 15,000 members of the press—are convening in what amounts to a political bubble surrounded by security measures consistent with those of a police state. The convention itself, not to mention the lavish parties being thrown for the delegates—many of them elected officials—is being paid for largely by major corporations looking to buy political influence.

The media has focused the bulk of its attention on the convention’s first day on speculating as to whether lingering “bitterness” on the part of Obama’s principal rival for the nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton, and her supporters will detract from the unity message that is meant to predominate. Most of this coverage is cast entirely in terms of personal frictions and identity politics, without a hint of any substantive political issues involved.

This is in keeping with the general tenor of the convention itself, which is packaged as a $60 million, four-day infomercial, with no question of a debate over policy breaking out on the floor of Denver’s Pepsi Center, where the delegates are assembled. The media, with very few exceptions, functions as an uncritical conduit for this process, accepting its narrow parameters as given.

It has been more than three decades since such a convention was an arena for any form of political debate, and where the outcome was not preordained. The ritualistic character of these events is a function of the widening gulf separating the official politics of the US two-party system—controlled lock, stock and barrel by the banks, corporations and a narrow financial elite—from the vast mass of the American people.

A stark illustration of this same divide is to be found in the extraordinary security measures that have been put into place in Denver. The Democratic Party, the ostensible political opposition to the Bush administration, is meeting under what amounts to a state of siege, justified in the name of the “war on terror” and the assumed need to exert iron-fisted control over any expression of political dissent in the streets.

The actual scale of protest in Denver is decidedly limited. On Sunday, barely 1,200 people participated in an antiwar demonstration led by Ron Kovic, the paralyzed Vietnam War veteran and author of the book Born on the Fourth of July, and Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. The leaderships of the major antiwar protest groups are part of the effort to divert anger against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into support for a political party that has funded and will continue both US interventions.

Nonetheless, demonstrators have been confronted with overwhelming police force. The ranks of Denver’s police have been doubled by the influx of cops from throughout the surrounding area.

As Denver’s Rocky Mountain News reported, “Hundreds of heavily armed officers, some clad in riot gear or hanging off SUVs, are saturating Denver’s streets in unprecedented numbers, quickly isolating any hint of trouble that could tarnish the city’s reputation under the limelight of the Democratic National Convention.

“The officers—on foot, horseback, bicycles and motorcycles—are armed with black batons and pepperball guns that resemble assault rifles. And they were quick to move Sunday when hundreds of rowdy protesters took to the streets of downtown.”

Police have distributed pamphlets to would-be protesters warning them that they will be subject to arrest if they refuse orders to disperse, even if they have broken no laws. To deal with potential mass arrests, the city has opened a temporary detention center—a warehouse divided into chain-link cells. Critics of the security crackdown have dubbed the site “Gitmo on the Platte,” after Denver’s South Platte River.

The authorities have also attempted to restrict protesters to a so-called “free speech zone,” the Orwellian term they have given to an isolated patch of a parking lot ringed by two layers of black steel security fencing, giving it the appearance of a detention camp.

The force of 1,500 officers brought in from 52 police agencies in nearby areas does not include a huge federal contingent that has been mobilized for the event.

The Department of Homeland Security has declared the conventions of both the Democratic and Republican parties—the latter to be held next week in St. Paul, Minnesota—”National Special Security Events.” This designation places the department and the Secret Service in charge of overall security and brings in an array of national police, military and intelligence agencies.

Some $50 million in federal funding has been allotted for security measures at each of the conventions. In Denver, a portion of this money has gone to equip police with body armor and shields as well as to purchase an armored vehicle.

Federal and local police agents have established a secret headquarters, dubbed the Multi-Agency Command Center, or MAC,c from which they are monitoring every movement in the city via hundreds of security cameras that are trained on the convention center, protest sites and the entire surrounding area.

In a chilling indication that the police surveillance is far wider and more intrusive than has been reported by the media, protest leader Cindy Sheehan reported returning to her Denver hotel room Monday to find a man in her room using a screwdriver on the telephone.

The US Customs and Border Protection agency has been brought in to inspect vehicles in the city, while agents of the Transportation Security Administration are being deployed to screen those entering the convention center.

The military has also been deployed in Denver for the convention. In addition to the activation of over 1,000 National Guard troops, elements of the US Coast Guard have been placed in charge of intelligence operations in designated areas, while the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Northern Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, are also participating. The Pentagon refused to supply any details on the precise role of these commands, but some of the media reported that they were providing the convention with “air cover.”

The convention’s business: bribery and influence-peddling

Behind these rings of steel and phalanxes of police, the real business of the convention is being conducted in a series of activities and events that amount to organized and officially sanctioned bribery and influence-peddling.

Speaking last Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, in his announcement of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate, Obama claimed that his campaign was based on “a simple belief: that the American people were better than their government in Washington—a government that has fallen prey to special interests and policies that have left working people behind.”

Yet in Denver this week, he is presiding over a convention that is being paid for by these same special interests, with the clear understanding that their money will secure favors from Democratic politicians and, potentially, a Democratic administration headed by Obama himself.

While posturing as the party of “the people,” the Democrats have auctioned off access to US corporations, selling aptly named “presidential sponsor” packages for a million dollars each. The money buys companies private access to Obama’s advisors, tickets to exclusive parties attended by Democratic elected officials and luxury skybox seats to hear Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday in Denver’s Mile High Stadium.

The party had billed the stadium event as a sign of its openness and desire to include the people in its deliberations. But the auctioning off of skyboxes to the highest corporate bidders clearly expresses the Democrats’ real role as an essential prop of social inequality and the rule of big business.

An array of major corporations has sponsored parties, dinners and other events, using loopholes in new ethics rules touted by Obama and the Democrats, to stage lavish events for and contribute amply to Democratic politicians. While the rules limit individual donations to candidates to $2,300, and bar direct contributions from corporations and unions, their provisions do not extend to the party conventions.

AT&T, which has refused to disclose how much it has given to the convention, held such an event Sunday night from which it barred the media, calling the police against a few reporters who attempted to interview those attending. The bash was given for the Democratic Leadership Council.

AT&T was one of the principal beneficiaries of legislation passed by Congress last month—with Obama voting in favor—which vastly expanded government domestic surveillance powers while granting blanket retroactive immunity to telecommunications firms that collaborated in the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program.

Another telecom, Qwest Communications, has donated $6 million to the convention—the largest known contribution.

As the Los Angeles Times pointed out Monday, “The largest donors frequently have some of the largest business issues pending before state and federal agencies at the time lawmakers ask them to donate.”

Qwest has a case pending before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would grant it regulatory relief. The newspaper reported that a member of the convention’s fundraising committee, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, also sits on the congressional committee that oversees the FCC and wrote a letter to the agency on the company’s behalf.

Other major corporate convention donors with issues before Congress that have significant implications for their bottom line include Comcast Corp., Xcel Energy Inc., UnitedHealth Inc., Eli Lilly and other big pharmaceutical firms, and Kraft Foods.

One major donor worth noting is Lockheed Martin, the huge military contractor. “Lockheed Martin strongly supports our nation’s political process and candidates that support in general national defense, homeland security, high technology and educational initiatives,” a company spokesman said of the convention funding. Clearly, it is confident that the US war machine will provide it with profitable conditions under an Obama presidency.

Among the events scheduled at the convention is a poker night for delegates at Coors Field, sponsored by a business alliance that is lobbying Congress not to place restrictions on Internet gambling.

Even the government-backed mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been slated to host events and contribute to the convention’s cost, until the idea was scrapped out of fear that it would trigger outrage because of the recent government move to bail out the firms.

Behind the media glitz and meticulously staged spectacle, the Denver convention’s reality of corruption, elitism and repression is the real face of the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign.

No less than the Republicans and their candidate John McCain, the Democrats defend the interests of the corporate and financial ruling elite. The thoroughly anti-democratic two-party system excludes any expression of the genuine interests of working people.


McKinney slams Democrats over Iraq war funding

From
Cynthia McKinney is criticizing Democrats on Iraq funding.
Cynthia McKinney is criticizing Democrats on Iraq funding.

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) — Controversial former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is in Denver this week, but she isn’t exactly here to attend the Democratic National Convention.

In fact we found her at a protest against US government detainment of “political prisoners."

These days McKinney is the Green Party nominee for President, and she’s blasting the Democrats in Congress for not cutting off funding to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I've been liberated from the values that I believe are the failed values of the Democratic party. I'm proud to be outside,” she said.

Back in 1996, McKinney was not only on the inside of the Democratic convention in Chicago — she was even one of the speakers. She praised then-President Bill Clinton, and lashed out at the Republican Party for its opposition to abortion.

McKinney was well known on the Hill for her run-ins with everyone from the Anti-Defamation league to the Capitol police. But for the record, the protest she attended was peaceful and came off without a hitch.


What a laughing joke watching dems get all misty from this huge garishly expensive Dem infommercial...

*sigh* Oh my goodness..they're going to cry... :( Not unlike the rest of the world when the US continues to bully them...however with Obama...he'll do it with a smile..and Dems love that...

Biden...honored to run with or against McCain...

... In 2005, Biden Even Said He'd Be Honored To Run On The Same Ticket As John McCain. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart: "You may end up going against a Senate colleague, perhaps McCain, perhaps Frist?" Biden: "John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off -- be well off no matter who..." Stewart: "Did I hear, Did I hear with?" Biden: "You know, John McCain and I think" Stewart: "Don't become cottage cheese my friend. Say it." Biden: "The answer is yes." (Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" 8/2/05) ...

Nader to be on Idaho's 2008 ballot for president

... Colin Burch, a Boise student who helped spearhead getting Nader on the ballot, says the 10 volunteers who worked on the push encountered the stiffest opposition from supporters of Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee squaring off against Republican John McCain. ...

How self-defined Liberal Dems treat Ralph Nader - DISGRACEFUL! They are the slanted media they hate...

Nader and the Press: Condescension Turns Nasty By Jim Naureckas
Ralph Nader's presidential campaign has mostly been of interest to mainstream journalists not for the ideas or new voters that it brings to the election, but for the impact it might have on Democrat Al Gore's electoral chances. The headline "Nader's Bid Complicates Gore's Task" (Washington Post, 5/25/00) sums up this approach. Even this role for Nader--often referred to as a "spoiler," or as "stealing" votes--was sometimes downplayed by media figures. After George Stephanopoulos suggested on ABC's This Week (6/25/00) that Nader might be polling near the 5 percent mark in several key states, fellow panelist Cokie Roberts responded with, "So far he's not getting that, though." In fact, Nader was polling between 7 and 10 percent in states like Washington and Oregon, which Stephanopoulos cited, and was getting around 5 percent in national polls (Washington Post, 5/25/00). Likewise, Washington Post assistant managing editor Jackson Diehl responded to Post ombudsman E.R. Shipp's questions about why Nader (and Reform candidate Patrick Buchanan) were getting so little coverage (9/3/00): "We're not a public utility. We're a newspaper, and we cover things based on what is newsworthy. People who have half a percent or less following among the public are much less newsworthy than people with 40 and 50 percent." Half a percent is actually about one-tenth as much support as Nader has generally gotten in national polls. In keeping with this dismissive approach, journalists often saw the Nader campaign as a chance to demonstrate their wit. The San Francisco Chronicle (6/23/00) reported that Nader "looks like he favors strained spinach and wheat germ." Time magazine (7/3/00) suggested that Nader may be an imperfect candidate for the Greens, given that "he's more into fighting tort reform than promoting tofu." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank (9/5/00) caricatured Nader as someone whose "only enemy is the corporation," and the Greens as "radical activists in sandals." "The Nader campaign is based on a simple premise: There is no difference between the two major parties," Milbank wrote. "This is true if you stand far enough away from the two parties--in the same way New York and Tokyo would look similar if you were standing on the moon." But the media's patronizing tone could quickly turn hostile when media outlets felt that Nader was interfering with the sacred two-party system. A New York Times editorial (6/30/00) called Nader's run "a self-indulgent exercise that that will distract voters from the clear-cut choice represented by the major party candidates," adding that "the public deserves to see the major-party candidates compete on an uncluttered playing field." Several of the Times' regular columnists echoed this editorial stance, with liberal Anthony Lewis (7/8/00) taking Nader to task for his opposition to deregulated trade: "Protectionism would destroy our prosperity and make the world's poor even more miserable. It is a strange platform for the Ralph Nader who says he speaks for the weak and the neglected." Paul Krugman, the op-ed page's house economist, saw Nader's anti-corporate politics as a sign of a warped psyche (7/23/00): "Many of those who are thinking about voting for Mr. Nader probably imagine that he is still the moderate, humane activist of the 1960s." In fact, according to Krugman, he's now "a rebel without a life," consumed by "a general hostility toward corporations." Thomas Friedman, the New York Times' other free-trade cheerleader, had earlier lumped Nader in with Buchanan (4/21/00) as politicians who "prefer a Cold War-like world of walls." "Liberal" columnist Lars-Erik Nelson (New York Daily News, 7/2/00) castigated Nader: "Any presidential candidate whose running mate is Winona LaDuke, an Ojibway Indian activist from a Minnesota reservation, must be considered both marginal and self-indulgent." Nelson did not specify from which ethnic groups a serious candidate could pick a running mate. The further one goes down the media food chain, the more vicious the ad hominem attacks become. "Like an enormous zit on prom night, when least expected or desired, Nader and his Green Party followers have reappeared on the political scene," wrote talkshow host and syndicated columnist Ken Hamblin (Denver Post, 7/2/00). "One of the saddest sights in politics is a fading public figure who refuses to concede that his or her time has passed," Hearst columnist Marianne Means asserted (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2/29/00). "The latest egotist to ignore reality is Ralph Nader, the aging consumer advocate whose crusades stalled and popularity sagged long ago.... Nader is in the great tradition of political diehards who stubbornly hope against hope that they can keep the reporters and speaking fees coming despite all the derisive laughter." Means spoke for many pundits with the conclusion of a later anti-Nader column (Denver Post, 7/16/00): "The two-party system works fine, if not perfectly. Why can't we leave it at that?"

VOICES...WITH Integrity.....Not like Obamabots... *GAK*

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to some of the voices of protest in the streets of Denver.


Biden Loves Israel... like Obama...


AT&T Throws Party to Support Dems Who Voted to Grant Telecoms Immunity for Illegal Domestic Wiretapping

There are more than 1,200 parties over the five days of the Denver DNC. One of the first was the AT&T Blue Dog party thrown at Mile High Station. It’s one of the closest venues to Invesco Field at the Mile High stadium where Barack Obama will accept the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday night. While the delegates were coming in out of the party, it wasn’t quite so easy for the press. Democracy Now! reports from outside the party and we get analysis from Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com.

Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com. He is the author of three books. His latest is “Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics.”

Video Stream Link


Protesters: We're being treated like prisoners

DENVER (AP) — A small group of protesters marched to the demonstration zone outside the Democratic National Convention, complaining they are being treated like political prisoners.

Members of the protest group Recreate 68 Alliance visited the fenced-off zone for the first time on Monday and vowed not to return because they oppose the limits on where they can demonstrate.

Protesters derisively call the 47,000-square-foot zone the "Freedom Cage." It's separated from the parking lot around the convention hall by metal fences atop concrete barriers, about 700 feet from the Pepsi Center, where the delegates start gathering Monday night.

"We're being treated by the city of Denver and the Secret Service like political prisoners, like pariahs," said Recreate 68 organizer Mark Cohen.

Cohen and his wife, Barbara, each wore a red inverted triangle similar to the type political prisoners in Nazi Germany were forced to wear.

"We're going to stay here for just a couple of minutes to state our disgust with this abomination, the way the city and Secret Service are tearing the Constitution of the United States to shreds and then we will leave," Mark Cohen said.

Another protester, Holly Heiman, 40, of Green Mountain Falls, said she wanted to show her opposition to what she believes is an oppressive government that won't change no matter who is elected.

Elsewhere, about 100 people rallied at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver to draw attention to people they consider to be political prisoners in the U.S., including American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, who's serving a life sentence for killing two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.


Nader Endorsed by Peter Camejo


Meet some protesters....

Protesters say no to war

Activists have planned protests for the duration of the party convention
Hundreds of anti-war protesters have demonstrated amid heavy police security in the US city of Denver where the Democratic national convention is set to kick-off on Monday. It was the first in a series of protests by the group Recreate 68, whose name echoes the anti-war protests outside the party's convention in Chicago in 1968. Al Jazeera spoke to five protesters about why they were marching, and their hopes that those attending the convention would listen.

Robert Joyet, Denver, Colorado

I'm here to try to give a voice to the voiceless. The Democrats are supposed to be the party that faces up to the Republicans and provide an alternative voice, but they've sat back and passed every act that infringes our civil liberties; they supported the war.

I'm ashamed at the poor turnout here. I'd have hoped more Americans … maybe they're sidetracked by corporate interests.

I worked three times in Afghanistan as an engineer and when I was there security was tentative and that was three years ago. The situation there is getting like it was in Iraq. I think it's a lost cause and we should just get out. It's a farce. These politicians go on their "fact finding mission" and don't talk to anybody about it [the situation]. It's disgraceful.

Jean Toth, St Petersburgh, Florida

There's a big message going on here, regardless of Republican or Democrat: we have to change our whole way of thinking. I think we're sending a message and I think if there's enough people they will listen as I don't think they'll have a choice. I'd love for people to see that not all Americans are all about war.

The convention serves no purpose at all, it's a huge waste of money, we have helicopters flying around wasting gas to watch us and there's no one here who's evil. It's insane.

Judy Gear, Denver

I'm here with a small international group who have been going just working for peace and justice throughout the world on different issues.

We're very against the war and very concerned about the environment and that's why I'm here to stop all our invasions of various countries. I just hope that it will make a difference, to make sure Obama's sticking to what he's pledged about getting out of the war and not expanding it. I hope my presence will make a difference. If you just sit at home watching TV you'll get really depressed so I get out to protest.

Daniel Hernandez, Denver

Well I'm just here to show my solidarity with everyone else who opposes the war. I want to show the rest of the world that not all Americans supported our invasion of Iraq.

Delaine Novak, Denver

We're here today because we don't believe in the occupation of Iraq. We need to pull the troops out and spend the money here at home – this war was just about oil.

We have a lot of economic issues here now. We must be united; everyone should still have a voice and not be palmed off - never mind the rhetoric.

We need to end this war, we didn't ask for this.


Funk the War...!

Flickr photo stream here

Don't clog the streets with independent thought....

... "The odd part is that it's our Democrats, our left, who spend $50 million to secure themselves from independent thought," said Todd German, a protester from New Orleans. ...

'disobedience'....ugh....FOUR arrested in Denver

...

About 1,000 people participated in a Sunday morning protest organized by the group Recreate 68. Police patrolled on bicycles and on foot as the protesters marched from the state Capitol and on to Colfax Avenue.

The four arrests were for misdemeanors including disturbing the peace, trespassing, interfering with police authority, providing false information and disobedience.

...


Taser Bait, on the streets of Denver - Denver police stage bizarre behavior

Taser Bait, on the streets of Denver Update: Denver police stage bizarre behavior by Brenda Norrell August 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm DENVER -- It was an incredible morning in the streets of Denver, with the voices of the people spilling out through this city during the Political Prisoners March and Rally. It was clear that there is another divide underway, those who are in the Democratic National Convention with their expense accounts and those in the streets, lending powerful voices to define the future. With most US citizens in a state of post traumatic stress syndrome, the brave faced off with Denver police and marched through the streets this morning. What began as a small crowd near the Civic Center grew as hundreds joined the march through the heart of the city to the federal courthouse. Among those speaking out was Ben Carnes, Choctaw, who read a message from Leonard Peltier. King Downing, with ACLU's Campaign against Racial Profiling, described how he was arrested in a racial profiling incident and won his case. Mumia Abu Jamal's message was heard from death row in a recording for the event. Jamal described the true portrait of US democracy. At one point, a police officer drew his weapon on the crowd in front of the federal courthouse. A legal observer with the Lawyer's Guild confronted him and after a standoff, the officer walked away. Still, there was a feeling that we could all soon be "taser bait." UPDATE: Denver police spent the day intimidating and provoking peaceful protesters. By day's end there were entirely too many police with too much time on their hands. They were eager to arrest people in Denver. It didn't matter if the people were simply walking down the street. Medics were even detained. Flashing a wide variety of weapons, Denver police positioned police gangs around the peaceful Food Not Bombs. Police even made a single file procession through the heart of Food Not Bombs' peaceful dinner. As people were eating, Denver police made one of the silliest processions ever through a dinner of rice and lentils. After spending the late afternoon in bizarre staging and intimidation tactics in the Civic Center area, Denver police began spraying people with pepper spray and shoving people randomly by day's end. Finally, apparently bored and itchy to arrest, they arrested people for their convention dog cages. It was a sad and embarrassing day for Denver police, proving that lawlessness reigns for US police. Here is the list of speakers at the Political Prisoners Rally on Monday: Pamela Africa - MOVE Organization; American Indian Movement Spokesperson Leonard Peltier Defense Committee - Ben Carnes, with a message from Leonard, direct from Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary; Rosa Clemente - United States Vice Presidential Candidate for the Green Party; Kathleen Cleaver - The Panther Nine from San Francisco; King Downing - National Coordinator of the ACLU's Campaign Against Racial Profiling; Jenny Esquiveo - Spokesperson for Eric McDavid (Political Prisoner); Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. - Prisoners of Conscience Committee; Mumia Abu Jamal - Current Political Prisoner (Recorded from Death Row); Cha Cha Jimenez - Founder of the Young Lords (Puerto Rican Resistance Prisoners); Ricardo Romero - National Coordinator for the Mexican National Liberation Movement (MLNM); Natsu Saito - Author, Activist, and Human Rights Scholar (Guantanamo Inmates); Spokesperson for the Cuban Five and a special musical performance by Native hip hop youth activists The Savage Family. The audios from the political prisoners march and rally will be posted at Earthcycles. We were live on the radio and web this morning on Earthcycles: http://www.earthcycles.net/ In the streets of Denver, Brenda

Speakers blast U.S. government; crowd marches under watchful eye of police

Reveling in a turnout that began as hundreds and swelled into at least a thousand protesters, Recreate '68 members naysayed those who said that the event would go bust with small turnouts and a lack of speakers. "People seemed to think of us like they think of cockroaches," Mark Cohen, Recreate '68 member, said to the crowd. "They weren't happy for us to be here. But we're still here." Prior to the march through Denver to the Pepsi Center, Recreate '68 hosted a carousel of speakers on the west steps of the Capitol this morning. The list of speakers included the likes of highly respected veteran and American activist Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the Fourth of July," to infamous and highly controversial figures like Ward Churchill. Generally, the voices booming out from the Capitol spoke at length against corporations and that electing a Democrat as opposed to a Republican wasn't going to better represent the American people or end foreign occupation. "The Convention is being sponsored by AT&T," said Cindy Sheehan, famed anti-war activist. "Who do you think they represent?" The rhetorical question, implying that Democrats and Republicans alike operate in the interest of big corporations, was repeated many times throughout the speaking engagements to cheers from the crowd. The speaking engagements reached their highest and most interesting fervor when African-American Green Party candidates Cynthia McKinney, for president, and Rosa Clemente, for vice president, took the stage. The duo wagged a collective finger at the media and public for overlooking the historical significance of the first ever women-of-color ticket in American history, and not just white media. "There are a lot of black and Latino journalists who are letting us down. How can they not cover American history," Clemente said. "The media is telling everybody who's important and who you should listen to.' Clemente described her campaign as representative of the hip-hop generation, and not just of 50 Cent's ilk, but the kind of hip-hop that acts as a tool for social and political expression. "We are the hip-hop generation," Clemente said. "We walk to the mic, speak loudly and speak clearly with a political agenda. And that agenda is freedom." McKinney, the first Green Party presidential candidate since Ralph Nader, said neither Republicans nor Democrats offered any substantial change. "We can see clearly now who the real stick-up artists are and that's why we're in Denver. We know that a vote for Democrats is a vote for more war," she said. Clemente went on to decry the U.S. Government for refusing the votes of Puerto Ricans. "Imagine if they could vote," she said. "They'd be voting for me, because that's how Puerto Ricans roll." Clemente is part African-American, part Puerto Rican. Clemente then introduced underground political hip-hop duo Dead Prez, who performed for about half an hour, after which the march to the Pepsi Center began. *** In spite of hype that an overwhelming presence of police among protesters would incite riots and civil unrest, the speaking event and the proceeding march yielded no clouds of tear gas or yippie protesters falling prey to the baton. The only truly volatile incident occurred during Ron Kovic's speech, when a Fox reporter attempted to interview Ward Churchill and was confronted by a crowd whose hatred for Fox News seemed to trump even their hatred for George Bush or the Iraq war. Just the sight of the man holding a Fox News microphone sent the crowd into a frenzy, as Denver Open Media member Shareef Aleen barricaded the correspondent from Churchill and spat accusations of bias and an intent to put manipulative spin on the event into the reporter's face. A growing crowd swelled around the two as they verbally sparred. The fracas caught the attention of surrounding police, who began to approach just as someone pulled the Fox reporter from the crowd. The argument ended without any physical violence or police intervention, and Aleen was later seen being formally interviewed by the Fox correspondent during the march. Ron Kovic led the march in his wheelchair while a long stream of following activists hoisted banners, signs and fists into the air accompanying anti-war and anti-government shouts. One young activist, identifying himself as Richard, 18, spoke through veil of a bandanna, telling Fort Collins Now that "we're out here to make our voices be heard. We're going to continue and fight until they throw us in their cages or something happens." Mulligan Johnson, another activist, said that he was out there to protest the war and Democrats, who he said are essentially the same as Republicans. When asked who he supported instead of the two major party tickets, he shrugged his shoulders and said he wasn't sure. "I'm just an anarchist," Johnson said. Recreate '68 organizers Mark Cohen and Glenn Spagnuolo told Fort Collins Now as they were marching that they were very pleased with the turnout. "I think it's been an awesome day," said Cohen. "There's been an incredible list of speakers who have put truth to power.' Cohen conceded that Denver Police maintained an extremely peaceful and cooperative presence. In a recent Fort Collins Now article, fellow Recreate '68 member Tom Mestnik spouted anti-police rhetoric, saying he was all too sure that police would show up to start a fight. After all, he said, why would they spend $50 million on security if they didn't intend to use some of their weaponry? But, at least for the morning march, Mestnik was wrong. "So far they've (police) been doing pretty well," Cohen said. The march ended at heavy barricades blocking entrance to the Pepsi Center fronted by an intimidating array of police officers decked out in full riot gear. Protesters stuck around, with some making snide remarks at officers for corralling them and restricting access to surrounding areas.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Protesters disperse, only to blockade again

A group of Democratic National Convention protesters have been gathering to block major arteries in downtown Denver, moving each time as police demand they disperse.

First the marchers blocked traffic at the intersection of Broadway and Colfax Avenue and briefly refused to move.

The protesters, chanting, "no more presidents, no more wars," disrupted traffic along both streets as police tried to move them into either Civic Center or Lincoln Park.

After 10 minutes or so, police gave an order to disperse, and the group barely moved.

Several officers on horseback arrived and began moving the crowd out of the street.

"Double wide!," one officer ordered, and police lined up to move protesters.

Just as it appeared they would disperse peacefully, a small group of about eight protesters ran into traffic on Lincoln Street and sat in the street.

They chanted "our streets!" in front of Capitol.

The war protesters chanted "Two, four, six, eight. This is a police state!" as they moved down Lincoln Street to the 16th Street Mall after officers made at least one arrest.

At 4:30 p.m., the same group, though smaller, briefly blocked traffic at Stout and 16th streets and was once again was ordered to disperse.

"I don't want to be part of any violence but where are we supposed to go?," pleaded a young man wearing a bandana.

An officer on a microphone announced that they can walk out west on Stout Street, away from the mall. But some of the protesters ran into a parking garage instead before they finally dispersed.


Pelosi evacuated from hotel in weapons scare

By Felisa Cardona A Wyoming man was arrested Saturday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt hotel in downtown Denver when police noticed he was carrying weapons in the lobby.

Joseph Calanchini of Pinedale, Wyo., was arrested for unlawful carrying of a weapon and remained in custody today in Denver.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefly evacuated from the hotel after a police dog appeared to indicate that there may be something in Calanchini's car, but the vehicle was eventually cleared for weapons, officials said.

Calanchini was carrying two rifles and two pistols as he was checking into the hotel, according to law enforcement at Denver's Joint Information Center. ...

Calanchini told police he was in Denver on business and that he brought the guns to be repaired at a local gun shop for an upcoming hunting trip.

In an interview with 9News, Calanchini said he was sorry for causing any trouble.

"I didn't even know the DNC was in town. I don't watch the news," Calanchini told the station from the Denver City Jail. "If I had known, I would have done things differently. It was a simple mistake."


Recreate 68 Protest in Denver - Cindy Sheehan

By: Catherine Morgan

Sunday marked the beginning of many protests planned in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. A group called Recreate 68, attracted about 1,000 people to its anti-establishment protest.

Here is a video clip of Cindy Sheehan speaking at the Recreate 68 protest…


DNC Counter-Convention Photos from ComeUpToDenver.org

Click on Thumbnail for Larger Image

8/24/08

Rally on steps of State Capitol.

Glenn Spagnuolo. Rally on steps of State Capitol.

Fred Hampton, Jr. Rally on steps of State Capitol.

All the way from DC!

Street Medics.

Dead Prez

March Against the Occupation

March Against the Occupation

March Against the Occupation

Wobblies outside Pepsi Center.

I didn't know George Bush was gay!

Outside the Pepsi Center.

Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait Outside the Pepsi Center.


Anti-War Protests At DNC: Two People Arrested

Anti-war protests mar the events leading to tomorrow's historic Democratic National Convention, which will nominate Barack Obama as Democratic candidate for the presidential elections. Cindy Sheehan, Ward Churchill and anti-war protesters marked the day with a demonstration and march to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The protesters called "Bring Them Home Now, Bring Them Home Now..."

The Colorado Independent writes that 2 people have been arrested after the DNC protest.

Two people were arrested on the Auraria Campus in Denver earlier just as a large anti-war protest outside the Pepsi Center was coming to a close. According to the People’s Law Project, a group organizing legal observers to monitor police activities at Democratic National Convention protests, the two were stopped by law enforcement officers at 1:37 p.m. At least one of them was an anti-war protester. They were arrested for not giving their names to the officers.

Gary Ross, a spokesman with the Denver Joint Information Center, which represents the Denver Police Department and other agencies during the DNC, would not give out information specific to the two arrests, saying, “We had a limited number of arrests for minor infractions with DNC.” He says the department will release that information later today.


Broad Array of Protesters Seek Both To Influence and Infuriate

By Josh Rogin, CQ Staff Anarchists and activists, hippies and clowns, veterans, artists, immigrants, environmentalists and other enlistees in the army of the disaffected have descended on Denver for a week of demonstrations with a multitude of agendas.

This loose amalgamation of groups has two main missions for convention week. They want to bring their various messages to the attention of delegates from around the country in an effort to influence discussion within the party. And they hope to use the convention as a catalyst for reviving activist movements across the country.

Spokesmen for several of the protest groups say they have taken their inspiration from the anti-Vietnam War generation and hope to rekindle the spirit of that era. Others want to take advantage of the convention to bolster their movement’s infrastructure.

Several dozen protesters from various groups marched down Denver’s 16th Street mall Sunday, chanting slogans such as “Bush lied, people died,” and “This is what Democracy looks like.”

Most Denver residents reacted to the demonstration with a mixture of amusement and admiration, although some resented “outsiders” clogging their downtown area with noise.

“I’m here in the hope that people will take care for others the rights that we are fond of enjoying,” said Natalia Haberl, a Denver college student.

The police on scene declined to comment on the record but said that there had been no major disturbances thus far.

The protesters are aligned with groups such as United for Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, the Alliance for Real Democracy, Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

And while they generally support Barack Obama ’s presidential candidacy, they stress that they are coming to Denver to draw attention to their causes and don’t feel any responsibility to toe the party line.

“For us, putting the pressure on Democrats is what we feel can do the most good,” said Jared Hood, regional coordinator for IVAW. “They’re the most likely ally to help us, but if that pressure is not there, we can easily be ignored. We’re trying to put ourselves in a position where our voices are heard.”

Their tactics are expected to range from peaceful, music-filled gatherings to guerrilla street theater that is meant to shock the public consciousness. Some groups have vowed to cause disturbances at the convention, raising the specter of confrontations with the police and mass arrests.

Anti-War Protests Planned

With the ongoing Iraq war on most protesters minds, IVAW is among the protest groups that will focus their fire on the demand that Democrats do more to bring the troops home.


Denver’s First Protest Is a Mild One

Dan Frosch The Denver National Convention saw its first major protest today, and it ended peacefully with no immediate reports of arrests.

About 1,000 people organized by the group Recreate 68 gathered on the steps of Denver’s capitol on Sunday morning, carrying colorful signs and shouting anti-establishment chants that railed against such targets as corporate influences on U.S. politics, the war in Iraq and big oil.

“We’re here to call the Democrats out, to let them hear our voices,” said Laurie Hunter, 55, of Denver, who said she was an Obama supporter but still felt the protesters needed to be heard.

After listening to various speakers, including Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war protester, and a spirited performance by the rap group dead prez, the protesters set off on a permitted parade route, bound for the Pepsi Center, just a few miles away. Curious onlookers watched as the protest, led by Ron Kovic, the wheelchair-bound Vietnam Veteran and anti-war activist, snaked through downtown Denver, accompanied by bicycle police.

At one point, a small contingent of people draped in American flag T-shirts and hats shouted at the group as the protestors passed by.

One of those was Dale Parrish, 46, of LaSalle, Colo., who held a sign that said, “Freedom is not free.” Mr. Parrish said his son had done two tours of duty in Iraq, was bound for Afghanistan, and was fighting so the protesters could have their right to free speech.

Eventually the protest reached the gates of a security perimeter set up by police around the Pepsi Center.

There, as heavily armed police in riot gear and plain-clothes Secret Service agents stood in formation, the protesters stopped for about an hour — intermittently going silent and then shouting slogans.

“This is what a police state looks like,” one girl yelled at the police line.

After about an hour, however, the group began to disperse quietly.

“We’re pleased with the way things went,” said Detective John White, with the Denver Police. “We want people to know that the city is open for business, and we want to encourage people to come downtown.”

Aside from the brief standoff with police at the Pepsi Center, the march went off without incident and organizers seemed pleased with the turnout and their interaction with police.

While the numbers were not the tens of thousands some organizers had promised, Recreate 68 organizer Larry Hales said it was about “quality not quantity.”

As the protesters wandered off, one teenager mumbled to his friend, “Dude, I’m thirsty. Let’s go get some water or something.”


Humboldt County tree sitters, timber firm call a truce

New owner's promise of sustainable logging brings activists down from redwood perches.
By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer August 24, 2008 SCOTIA, CALIF. — Beneath the gnarled green-needled boughs of the North Coast redwoods, a remarkable encounter one recent day shook the roots of the forest's fiercest struggle. A top timber company executive hiked into the woods with a message for the latest generation of tree sitters perched on platforms high in the massive limbs of the ancient trees they've campaigned to protect. Come down out of the sky, he told them. The war is over. With that, a cautious transformation has begun: For the first time in the memory of even the grayest of locals, the vast lands of Humboldt County's most storied timber firm could soon be devoid of protest. Ever since Texas millionaire Charles Hurwitz and his Maxxam Inc. used junk bonds to finance the hostile takeover of Pacific Lumber Co. in 1986, the logging concern has been the focus of a stubborn series of demonstrations -- from the "Redwood Summer" civil-disobedience arrests in 1990 and Julia "Butterfly" Hill's celebrated two-year tree-sit in Luna to the latest encampments aloft in the Nanning Creek and Fern Gully groves. Now a bankruptcy and new ownership group have uprooted the status quo. A timber firm owned largely by the Fisher family, of Gap stores fame, acquired Pacific Lumber through bankruptcy court, renamed it Humboldt Redwood Co. and set upon a new path away from the more aggressive logging practices of the Hurwitz days. Mike Jani, Humboldt Redwood president and chief forester, vowed to the tree sitters during his recent meetings beneath the conifers to hew hard to the tenets of sustainable logging: essentially cutting no more wood per year than the forest can grow. Jani told them he would spare the oldest of the old-growth redwoods, the world's tallest living organisms. In the days since Jani's unheralded Aug. 12 walk into the woods, word has spread among the activists behind the redwood curtain of the North Coast. "This is excellent news, to say the least," said Jeanette Jungers, who has fought to spare these forests for more than a quarter-century. "We've gone from being characterized as environmental terrorists to being embraced. This is like falling down a rabbit hole. I feel like Alice in Wonderland." More than just deliver news, Jani offered a humane embrace. He applauded the activists' perseverance and dedication to a worthy cause. He voiced heartfelt assurances. In one case, he talked a balky sitter out of a tree and then offered a hug. His visit, Jani said later, was "an issue of human respect." The last of the tree sitters, now toiling 150 feet above the fern-decked forest floor to pack up their high-altitude encampments, took time off one recent afternoon to share their glee. "This is a huge, huge milestone," said a 22-year-old woman who identified herself only as Cedar and has been perched aloft since she arrived from Edmonton, Canada, nearly a year ago. "It's been unbelievable to me that this has happened. But this isn't my victory -- I just sat on guard." Signs of change can be spotted in the gloaming of the forest floor. Tape reading "no cut" adorns the old growth in Nanning Creek grove, which sits on a hillside overlooking the old Pacific Lumber mill in Scotia, 15 miles south of Eureka. Marks targeting trees to be cut have been stripped clean. The authenticity of Jani's gesture was burnished by a stark absence of forest industry PR: no press releases from the company, no invitation for news reporters to watch. Officials at Humboldt Redwood Co. say Jani's message to the young activists of the trees was old news. The new firm is an offshoot of Mendocino Redwood Co., which also is owned by the Fisher clan. Over the course of a decade's ownership, Mendocino Redwood has won over many forest activists with a brand of logging that's lighter on the land. The firm's directives to avoid axing old growth trees or clear-cutting vast groves were among the selling points it used to win the right to acquire Pacific Lumber. "We hope to duplicate the things we do well one county away," said Sandy Dean, chairman of the timber firms. "The intent is to operate with a high standard of environmental stewardship." Pacific Lumber under Hurwitz mowed down trees in vast clear cuts to maximize profits and hungered to cut mammoth thousand-year-old trees; the new company intends to wield the chain saw far more selectively on its sprawling 328 square miles of coastal forest and won't cut any redwood born prior to 1800 with a diameter of 4 feet or more. Such practices have earned the company certification by the Forest Stewardship Council, a stamp of approval required by retailers of "green" products such as Home Depot, Lowe's and Kinko's. Dean said it's a more expensive way to manage a forest, but the family-owned firm believes "having a healthy, well-stocked forest will be a good investment over the long term." Scott Greacen, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center in nearby Garberville, called the meeting in the woods "a really important moment." "It doesn't negate the tragedy that has already happened," he said. "But the hope is it'll show the industry there is a better way." Shunka Wakan, who runs the North Coast Earth First! media project, said there is "this amazing sense almost of, 'The war is over.' " In each of the groves, the last of the tree sitters are taking it slowly. On the hillside near Scotia, Cedar and another tree sitter, who preferred to go by the single name of Billy, are cautiously decommissioning their encampment in the limbs. They expect to be on the ground for good in less than a month, nearly a year since they took to tree boughs like the elves of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lothlorien. They cooked and ate meals aloft, bathed in rainwater, watched the clouds roll overhead. They've come to the ground only to retrieve supplies ferried in by the scores of activists who make up the tree-sit support crew. Winter storm winds rocked each giant redwood like a metronome. Cedar's small platform shifted badly in the worst gale, threatening to pitch her off. She huddled under a tarp for weeks, cocooning to escape the winds and rains. Now they can hardly believe it is nearly over. "This is like such a huge step," Billy said. "I was expecting the run-around, but as soon as the new company arrived it was like -- bam -- overnight they made what seemed sincere promises." Neither one talked with Jani when he appeared on the forest floor. Those negotiations were left to Amy Arcuri, one of the first tree sitters at Nanning grove three years ago. "Before, the company wasn't in it for the future," said Arcuri, who continued to climb the old growth even during the early months of her pregnancy with daughter River, now 21 months old. "But these new people appreciate the priceless value in these old trees beyond just selling lumber." She knows there are bound to be squabbles with the new owners but hopes trust can prevail. And there are always the two other big timber firms in the region, Green Diamond Resource Company and Sierra Pacific Industries. In September, activists are holding a weeklong training camp for new recruits to learn climbing, rappelling and the art of nonviolent civil disobedience in the woods. The battle against old Pacific Lumber may be over. But the war over the North Coast forest continues.

Nader Sets Up Giant Balloon Ads in Denver

August 24th, 2008

Ralph Nader has arrange to have a giant air-filled replica of the Liberty Bell, and also a giant air-filled bottle, placed in Invesco Field in Denver. That is the site of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, set for August 28. The Liberty Bell and the bottle both have messages about opening up the presidential debates. Here is a picture of the Liberty Bell replica.

...

Dear Senator Obama:

The Nader Team just arrived in Denver for the DNC.

We wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so we paid a visit to Invesco Field, the site of your upcoming speech.

Ironically, it was easier for us to get in there than it was to get in one of your debates.

Here we are protesting that fact.

As you can see from this photo, we managed to inflate a huge liberty bell at Invesco Field.

You know, liberty: the freedom to speak and debate.

A liberty that third party candidates are routinely denied by the mainstream press and mainstream candidates.

We want to change that.

So we are issuing a challenge to the Commission on Presidential Debates -- liberate debates from corporate control and end the anti-democratic exclusion of third party candidates.

And we are issuing a challenge to you.

You are the candidate of hope and change.

Consequently, we hope you will change your mind and make good on your offer to debate anytime, anywhere.

Participate in the Google debates in New Orleans on September 18th and urge them to include third parties.

John McCain said he'd do it.

How about you?

Do it for hope.

Do it for change.

Give people a real choice this election.

Onward to November!

Ashley Sanders The Nader Team


Anti-War Protesters Menace Intrepid Fox News Reporter


Some Choice: John “McLess” or “Obama Drama”

by Phillip Faruggio / August 23rd, 2008 Yes, the campaign season is upon us. Once again, this One Party Duopoly has forged another beaut. It seems they always give the suckers choices: column A) from the extreme Right and column B) from the Center Right. Yup, sorry all you 9 to 5 Americans who watch shrinking paychecks and shrinking home values as you pump what truly has become “Black Gold.” Let’s look carefully at these two major candidates from the self perpetuating “lesser of two evils” school of thought. Say hello to Senator John McLess. Here is a man, with all due respect to the courage and strength he exhibited as a prisoner of war, that now lacks the courage of conviction. He was caught up in the Keating 5 scandel of the 80s, whereupon he said he became “born again” regarding money in politics. McLess co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold law, which was, to this writer, only the tip of the iceberg concerning the influence of money in politics. It actually did absolutely nothing to address the stranglehold that the lobbyist system has on our elected officials. Companies and (groups of) individuals could continue to “bundle” money to politicians. The state of Maine (1996) passed a Clean Elections Law which finally addressed the need for public funding of campaigns. Matter of fact, in the first election cycle the new law was active, 2000, almost one third of those who won office did so by not accepting or spending private funds. Amazing! Due to the Supreme Court ruling of 1976 (Buckley vs. Valeo) state governments (and the feds) could not outlaw money donations from campaigns. Thus, the Maine law had to be a voluntary system. Yet, if John Mcless really is the maverick he pretends to be, he would have stood up in the Senate and pushed for legislation to (at least) get rid of the lobbying system. How dare he, or any Congressperson, not be outraged that members of their club can leave office and go, almost immediately, into lobbying the same people they once sat with in the halls of Congress. Shameful! Senator McLess, when he announced for the Republican Party nomination, could have done what former California Gov. Jerry Brown did. Brown, running for the presidency in 1988, announced that he would only accept up to 100 dollars in campaign donations from any one person. Imagine, if you would, the precedent that could have been set. By now, 20 years later, our whole system of electoral politics as we now know it could have been reshaped. No, Senator McLess is too busy sucking up to the fat cats and Bush regime to dare touch that tip of the iceberg. How about the subject of torture? Here we have a man, McCain, who was brutalized by the North Vietnamese for what, over five years? Now, understand, this writer realizes that McCain could have been convicted by those North Vietnamese for being a war criminal. After all, he was violating their sovereignty by flying over their air space in an act of aggression. But, weren’t we at war in Vietnam, you may ask? Forsaking the crap about the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, our nation never declared war on North Vietnam. Never! McCain, like hundreds of thousands of our brave young men at that time, was being used, perhaps illegally (according to both international law and our very own constitution) to carry out warped foreign policies. Did his captors have the right to torture him for his actions? Absolutely not!! Yet, he now turns a “half blind eye” to what the Bush gang has been doing. One the one hand, McCain speaks out against torture. Then refuses to hold this administration and its minions accountable for it. What message does that send to the rest of the world ?” Do as I say, not as I do.” McCain became more and more of McLess each time he ignored the Bush gang minions who sat there and out and out insulted the intelligence of the American public! And, these jokers still do it! This new gem of an Attorney General, Mooqueasy, sits there in front of the Senate committee and dares insult every family in every part of the world that has had a loved one (or themselves) “water boarded.” How dare the Congress and the press not stand up and shame this man out of office! Shame on my old grade school chum, Senator Schumer, for backing the nomination of this disgraceful man! As to Senator McLess, he of all people should have lambasted this new Attorney General. Lambasted him! So, one could write a treatise on the reasons not to ever wish to see Senator McLess as president. His foolish sing song of “Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran” was perhaps the lowest of the low. His support for hacks like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts on the highest court in the land is an insult to the intelligence of any American who studies history. By the way, how about this “clean cut” Johnny Boy Roberts, who the Democrats fawned over and rushed through confirmation (don’t forget that Obama voted to confirm him)? Roberts was a Reagan administration lawyer, at the time, who wrote the draft for the unitary executive principle. Matter of fact, Robert’s draft was so over the top that the Reagan boys pushed him out. Now, the unitary executive principle is what Bush Junior has been using each time he issues a “signing statement.” In layman’s terms, this ever dangerous unitary executive is when the president disregards enforcing laws that Congress passes. Rather than use his constitutional right to veto, Bush follows Johnny Boy Roberts’ credo and simply signs the law. With pen still in hand he then smugly states that he will refuse to enforce it. Do I hear monarchy anyone? So onto this Obama Drama , but one more Democratic Party scam perpetrated on you by the rich and powerful who run politics. To all those sincere and dutiful Afro American neighbors of mine , sorry, but this guy is not even what you pray him to be. My brother, a white man, is married to my sister-in-law, a black woman, and they have two children. Are their kids white? Black? No, they are a mixture of two proud heritage’s. When I look at my niece and nephew I do not see color. Rather a blend of colors. So what!? Yet, Barack Obama played the race card (or allowed it to be played) when he ran for statewide office in Chicago. It served him then and it is serving him now. So much for that. Change. Senator Obama preaches it, over and over. Yet, when his top foreign policy advisor was interviewed by author Jeremy Scahill (Blackwater) , the question of using private military contractors was brought up. Scahill was told, categorically, that as president, Obama would still use private military contractors (AKA mercenaries) to operate in “any foreign situation where our military or business interests were involved.” Change. Hey third world countries, “The Prussians are coming, the Prussians are coming!” Does one need to recite the laundry list of negatives in having Blackwater, or any other private military contractor (AKA Mercenary Army) patrolling the streets of some foreign nation in our name? Isn’t it bad enough that they were doing their neo fascist shuffle in the streets of New Orleans right after Katrina? Read Scahill’s book and make up your own mind. Change. Senator Obama refuses to support Hearings of Inquiry into the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He refuses to support Rep. Kucinich’s articles of impeachment (read Bugliosi’s new book The Prosecution of George W Bush). Senator Obama also voted to let the telecom companies off the hook (no pun intended) for their covert aid in spying on Americans under the guise of national security. Senator Obama has consistently voted more and more funding for the (illegal, by the way) occupation of Iraq. He now wants to transfer American forces into Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. This is the same Taliban that America once wholeheartedly supported until they a) reneged on an oil pipeline deal with Unocal and b) made it their policy to destroy the opium business that the warlords were running. Yes, the Taliban were fanatical religious dictators. But to Clinton and then to Junior Bush they were our bad guys. This was the same thinking that recent administrations had for Saddam Hussein for decades prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Change. Senator Obama, as President Obama, refuses to push for comprehensive Windfall Profits Taxes on Big Oil, though they secured record profits while the rest of our economy sputters. Senator Obama supported the bailout of Bear Stearns, at our taxpayer expense, while many of his Wall Street donors continue to earn tens of millions, hundreds of millions a year. Iraq. What to do? Well, many in the Congress and the alternative media implored the Democratic Party to “Just Say No” when the annual funding bills for the occupation of Iraq came to the floor. No money, no occupation. The Democrats, 99% of them in fact, stated over and over again that it was a mistake to invade Iraq. They railed how we need to “get our troops out of harms way and leave Iraq to the Iraqis” etc. Blah Blah Blah!! Yet, the Democratic party never once supported those of us who were brave and principled enough to stand up and protest in our towns and cities across America. Few , if any, Democratic politicians would come and stand with us. Locally, we have a man running for Congress, Clint Curtis, who did just that. He came out for cutting funding for the occupation when he ran against incumbent Republican Tom Feeney in ‘06. He stood with us on street corners. Now, the Democratic elites are running someone against him, a woman with lots of money behind her. She was AWOL since before the invasion of Iraq, never speaking out against it, right up to now. She supported the funding for the Iraq occupation. Matter of fact, she is on board with most of what the DLC (Democratic Leadership Committee) spews. Where is the Obama Drama on all this? He was so outspoken (he says) against invading Iraq. How often and how passionate did he speak at rallies and demonstrations in ‘02, ‘03, ‘04 , ‘05, ‘06… You get the drift? No, Obama was too busy voting along with the mainstream Democrats on just about every major issue and bill. Did he join with 19 other Senators who wanted to filibuster Alito? Did he vote against the confirmation of Ms. “Smoking gun” Rice for Secretary of State ? Yeah, folks, real… Change. Well, we do have choices in November. For those from the purist conservative way of thinking, you can vote Libertarian. For we on the progressive side of politics, there is Cynthia McKinney with the Green Party or Ralph Nader. Isn’t it time for the best choice to be the principled one?

Women's Rights Activist & Anarchist Emma Goldman

Feminist, Women's Movement, and Birth Control Movement Pioneer

© Judith Faucette

Emma Goldman, women's rights movement activist, Emma Goldman Clinic
Emma Goldman was an early figure in birth control history and the free speech movement. She supported anarchism, the women's rights movement, and lesbian rights.

The Emma Goldman Papers, a project of the University of California at Berkeley, uses its Emma Goldman Online Exhibition to educate young women about the life of this amazing activist. This guide describes how Goldman, born in imperial Russia and educated in Germany, learned about anarchism and other progressive ideals from an early age and then journeyed to America where she began a life's work in increasing opportunities for women.

Early Anarchism and Work for Free Speech

After divorcing her first husband, the EGOE reports, Goldman fell in love with a fellow anarchist and became more strongly tied to the movement. That man was then sentenced to twenty-two years in prison after trying to kill a Carnegie Steel bigwig, and Goldman herself was later arrested because the man who assassinated President McKinley had attended one of her lectures.

After she was released, Goldman disappeared from public life for several years, but then returned to the political scene and began publishing the journal Mother Earth, which had an eleven-year run. She got involved with the Free Speech League, which later evolved into the ACLU, and gave lectures on the topic of free speech.

Reproductive Rights and Anti-War Activism

In 1915 and 1916, Goldman became an advocate for women's rights to birth control, and ultimately, general reproductive choice. She smuggled birth control into the country and was arrested several times, though that campaign was cut short by World War I. Speaking out on conscientious objection, Goldman served a prison term and then was deported to the Soviet Union for her views.

During her time in the United States, Goldman focused not only on birth control, but on sexual freedom for women in general. The Jewish Women's Archive describes her radical views – she felt that the patriarchy was oppressive and restrained women, that marriage was legalized prostitution, and that requiring women to bear children limited them socially and economically. Interestingly, she was opposed to the suffrage movement because she felt that its approach was illusory and rooted in middle-class privilege, and that it would not bring any real improvement to women's inferior position.

Goldman was criticized even by her progressive and anarchist colleagues for her views on homosexuality. She believed in free love, regardless of gender and regardless of sexual preference. In a letter excerpted in the 2001 anthology Come Out Fighting (Chris Bull, ed.), Goldman explained her views on homosexuality in a logical and reasoned manner. Though she denied the lesbianism of a colleague in that letter, she also made clear her acceptance of homosexuality and the lack of a preference for one form of sexuality over another.

Emma Goldman was clearly far ahead of her time. She not only was a forerunner in the women's rights movement, the birth control movement, and the free speech movement, but wrote and spoke in a way that made clear her logical approach to sensitive issues. She refused to accept second-best, and believed in the power of love, openness, and community.

The copyright of the article Women's Rights Activist & Anarchist Emma Goldman in Gender Equality Activists is owned by Judith Faucette. Permission to republish Women's Rights Activist & Anarchist Emma Goldman in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Nanomaterial Cleans up Broken Fluorescent Bulbs

Jessica Marshall, Discovery News

Aug. 21, 2008 -- If you break a fluorescent light bulb, you've got a mess on your hands. The bulbs contain mercury, a potent neurotoxin that turns cleanup into a toxic waste management project.

Now, research led by Robert Hurt of Brown University has created a product that absorbs mercury 70 times better than the best available technology. The new sorbent -- made of nanoparticles of the element selenium -- could help clean up after breakages in the home, or during shipping or recycling.

Such a technology is likely to become more critical as people are encouraged to switch from incandescent bulbs to energy-saving fluorescent lighting.

To make the sorbent, the team layered the nano-selenium between a tissue and an impermeable backing layer.

By covering the breakage with the paper for several days, "you can stop almost all of the release," Hurt said. "We think it forms mercury selenide, which is a very stable compound.

Without the paper, the mercury slowly evaporates from the broken bulb over several days. Because the mercury vaporizes, Hurt says, "You are not supposed to vacuum it up. You can distribute the mercury around the house." (EPA's recommendations allow for vacuuming, with some precautions.)

The team proposes that the paper could be included with the packaging for the bulbs, so it could soak up spills that might occur during transit. They presented their results this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Although the potential for mercury release at home may seem scary, "It's not a really high risk, honestly," Hurt said. "It's very hard to imaging poisoning an adult with a CFL [compact fluorescent light bulb]."

The amount of mercury in the bulbs is relatively small, and although the greatest release happens immediately, it takes several days for it all to escape the bulb, where it is associated with a solid powder.

It's if breakage happens in a child's room or if several bulbs were to break at once -- perhaps at a recycling location -- that the risk would be greater. Large fluorescent tubes also contain more mercury than compact fluorescent light bulbs, Hurt said.

The green credibility of a CFL -- promoted for its significantly decreased energy use relative to an incandescent light bulb -- might seem to be compromised by the fact that the bulb relies on mercury. But, in fact, CFLs use less mercury than incandescent bulbs running on electricity from coal, which releases mercury when burned.

An incandescent bulb will release 13.6 milligrams of mercury from its energy demands, compared to 3.3 milligrams for a CFL. The CFL also contains an average of 5 milligrams of mercury, which can be recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Prof. Hurt's work is a nice application of nanotechnology to develop a very effective material -- a nanostructured sorbent -- for capturing the mercury, said Joseph Helble of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. "The sorbent itself appears to be much more effective at capturing mercury than other approaches. It's a nice piece of work, both as a research study and as a demonstration of a simple technology that can be directly incorporated into a product for the consumer."

Hurt is talking with companies about commercializing the material.


Crashing the DNC/RNC Conventions

The RNC for many has become a symbol of everything the protesters believe is wrong with America. They are moved to action by all-too-familiar litany of injustices--the occupation of Iraq and beyond, class war and racism, sexism and homophobia, torture and repression, corporate power and the climate crisis, rising tuition and an economic bust that's hitting this generation hard. Yet what they have in common, beyond a penchant for ruckus and a loathing of the GOP, is a persistent belief in democracy from below, in the power of ordinary people to transform the conditions of life in this country and worldwide -- a power they believe must be exercised in the street, not just in the voting booth.

"Democracy is not waiting to vote once every four years. Democracy is getting out in the streets," says Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, a 24-year-old member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who refused orders to deploy to Iraq this June and now plans to show up to the conventions with IVAW. "They [the politicians] are not gonna do it by themselves. We're gonna force their hand, because that is the nature of democracy."

The dissent at the Democratic National Convention -- though less "mass" than at the RNC, especially after the recent withdrawal of some national organizers -- is set to feature events like an open-air Festival of Democracy, a Restoring Democracy Parade and a base camp with free housing and medical care, organized by groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Alliance for Real Democracy, the Recreate '68 Alliance and the immigrant coalition the We Are America DNC Alliance.

...questioning whether Obama and the Democrats are ever going to represent them: "The Democrats, they count on and expect our votes. We're saying, 'If you're not representing me, I don't have to vote for you. You need to start listening to the youth [and] the 65 percent of the people in this country who want the war to end.' "

Most determined of all are the anarchists and anti-authoritarians, as many of the youth activists describe themselves, including two of the most active groups preparing to crash the conventions: the RNC Welcoming Committee and the Unconventional Action network. Unconventional Denver organizer Clayton Dewey acknowledges that "the candidacy of Obama is a reflection of the public's desire for something different." But as an anarchist, he explains, "we believe that despite the rhetoric Obama uses, genuine change will always come from the bottom up, and that means countering the system as a whole."

"An anti-authoritarian vibe is what's going on," says Carina Souflee, an activist with Anarchist People of Color and the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) at the University of Texas-Austin, who was radicalized by the immigration protests and is planning to be in the streets at the RNC. "People have learned that a top-down approach to things doesn't work."

To young radicals like Souflee and Dewey, the question remains one of democracy, and to them, democracy has very little to do with the 2008 presidential elections. "What we have in common is a desire to break the spell that elections have over the US left," says a member of the RNC Welcoming Committee who goes by the pseudonym 'Ann O'Nymity.' "Our message is one of direct participation in democracy, bypassing corrupt politicians who don't represent us but instead further corporate interests."

...opting instead to aim their dissent at the Republicans. "The RNC is a very easy target, because they are so visibly to blame for what's happening in this country," says Samantha Miller, who recently graduated UCLA and is now organizing members of DC SDS to bring the group's notorious Funk the War street parties to the RNC. "There's a whole lot more energy for the RNC than the DNC," she reports.

Thousands of youth from dozens of groups from across the country are coming together to blockade the Republican convention, using direct democracy not just as an end but as a means. Inspired by the Battle in Seattle and the global justice movement of the '90s, they are deploying a well-organized web of leaderless "affinity groups," "assemblies" and "spokescouncils."

... the whole world is still watching. "Our task today," says NYC SDS's Zahedi, "is to get to work organizing where we are, at our campuses, workplaces, and in our communities, while at the same time building links with people struggling all around the world."

For many, this push begins by showing ordinary people, and especially young, newly politicized people, their own power beyond Election Day. "We really need to find a way to engage the people who are excited, and really do think that Obama's gonna change something," says DC SDS's Miller. "We have to do a lot of popular education to say that it isn't politicians who make real change, it's the movements that politicians have to follow."

Source: The Nation


Denver Super Rally: Putting the issues on the table

I feel about politics the same way I do about religion: I find the best I can from different things. I like Hillary. I support Ralph Nader's decision to run. But Obama's the candidate and we need to support him. Thus spoke Patti, page 108 of David Marchese's "The Spin Interview: Patti Smith" by David Marchese. Ava and C.I.: "Uh, no, Patti, we don't. When Jim mentioned your interview in Spin -- which he hadn't read -- we glommed on it -- wrongly thinking there would be a statement that we could use for 'Truest statement of the week' or at least give your documentary a plug. You'll note we do neither. There's enough stupidity in the world without amplifying your own. Sound harsh? The feature starts on page 103 and we were laughing off our asses off long before 108. Everyone was asking, 'What? What?' Uh, that would be your lies. Now you can reinvent your married life however you want and we'll leave it to James Wolcott to call you out on that. But how stupid do you think America is? You like Debbie Harry? You. Like. Debbie. Harry. Since when? You've slagged her non-stop for years and what little you've said that's surfaced publicly is nothing compared to what you've said about her privately. If there's any reason to note the article at all it's for the 'Extra! Extra! Patti finally finds a kind word to say about Debbie!' nature of the interview. But as that section was read, we merely laughed and exchanged looks while biting our tongues to questions of 'What? What? What's so funny about Patti praising Debbie?' Then Jim got to the little bit quoted above. We do not all 'need' to do anything. "That you, of all people, would declare Barack deserves all of our support is not only laughable, it's incredibly ignorant. Remember Horses? Your seminal album? Last time we checked ,that album still hadn't gotten platinum. Translation, not a lot of people bought it. Goodness Patti, what if people had said, 'The Captain & Tenille are popular so we have to support Love Will Keep Us Together? Or the Bee Gee's Main Course? Or maybe Elton John's Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy? Fleetwood Mac had their monster self-titled album released that year, it would take weeks to go number one. Maybe people should have been saying, 'Ignore Horses, no one's going to buy it anyway. Show your support for something that really matters, really makes a difference like Fleetwood Mac!'? Your album didn't sell very well in 1975. Or since. But everyone who bought a copy -- we both have copies -- helped you leave a mark. So for you, of all people, to suggest that 'we' 'need to support Barack' is not only laughable, it's insulting. Your support in 1975 also came from the press which gave you much more coverage than many others who were actually selling albums. Heart Like A Wheel [Linda Ronstadt] actually sold. It spawned four huge hits -- two were million sellers. Do you really think when Linda Ronstadt was so clearly the choice of the people that you deserved any press attention at all in 1975? By your logic, you don't. By your logic, you don't deserve the Spin interview today. We'd expect that sort of stupidity from Toni Tennille. We're offended when it comes from you. But thanks for making us laugh by pretending you liked Debbie Harry. You say elsewhere, 'The point was that I was never interested in compromise.' We note that the statement is past tense. We grasp why. We're being really kind and not noting your "sumpthin" statements to Charles Young in 1978. In 1978! We're biting our tongues." Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. He is a candidate not afraid to put issues on the table. What was Barack's big issue last week? Ah, yes, John McCain owns seven houses. Not only was it weak as an issue it was also insulting and sexist. John McCain has no house. John and Cindy McCain have seven houses. It takes a real pig to strip a woman of her home or homes. Barack is just such a pig. While Barack was crying oink-oink all week long, Ralph Nader was raising the issues that actually matter. Housing? He addressed it as the very real issue that it is. From Ralph's Daily Audio, "Forestalling More of the Same:" This is Ralph Nader. This year two and a half to three million Americans will lose their homes to foreclosures. Next year another two and a half to three million Americans will probably lose their homes. Instead of helping these Americans keep their homes, both the Democrats and the Republicans are bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Wall St. banks and their high paid executives -- the same executives who got us into this mess by betting the house on sub-prime mortgages. I call this "Socialism for Spectators." Senator McCain takes a hands-off approach to the mortgage meltdown. Senator Obama talks about helping the home owners but is surrounding himself with the culprits: Wall St. bankers. Obama's economic director? Robert Rubin protege Jason Furman. Rubin was the Clintons' Treasury Secretary. He engineered the disastrous deregulation of Wall St. including the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. This Depression-era law separated investment banks from commercial banking. Had it been in effect, the current mortgage crisis would have been limited. Rubin went on to be an overpaid executive at Citigroup which he helped tank. Rubin is now advising Senator Obama. Nader-Gonzalez would bring back Glass Steagall. Nader-Gonzalez would re-instate the usury laws that cap interest rates and we would regulate Wall St. instead of bailing it out on the backs of American tax payers. This would include forcing mortgage companies to re-negotiate the mortgages of millions of home owners who are currently faced with being thrown out onto the street as a result of foreclosure. Instead of punishing the home owners, Nader-Gonzalez would bring justice to the predatory lenders on Wall St. who deceived them and who got us into this mess in the first place. Sounds like a plan. Let's move on to another one. "Debates Declaration:" This is Ralph Nader. The two major parties -- Republican and Democratic Parties -- and their candidates seem to want to ration debates in this country. Why do we allow presidential debates to be rationed? We don't allow weather reports to be rationed, entertainment to be rationed, sporting events to be rationed. But when it comes to the future of our country and it's place in the world, when it comes to the livelihoods and the necessities of the American people, we're left with three debates, so-called, in the fall with only Barack Obama and John McCain on the stage. Their own debate commission/corporation ensures that no one else on the stage and they're really not debates, they're like parallel interviews. So we want people to open up the debates and to support the following declaration: "We call for opening up the debates. The scope of discussion must be as broad and deep as the serious challenges we face as a nation. We agree that vibrant debate is the heart beat of our democracy and our First Amendment especially during an election year. We recognize that smaller third parties and independents have traditionally played a vital role in our democracy including leading the charge for the abolition of slavery, the women's right to vote and economic justice for workers and farmers. We support opening up the debates beyond the two parties and the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates -- which is a private corporation, co-chaired by former chairman of the Republican and Democratic Parties -- it's time for our presidential debates to once again be hosted by truly non-partisan, civic minded associations." If you support this declaration, let's hear from you. It's too bad there's not same way some people can get together and issue the call for the debates to be opened. While we try to think of some way that could happen, here's Ralph's "Join Our Super Rallies for Open Debates:" Good morning, this is Ralph Nader. As you know, Nader/Gonzalez is being blocked from the presidential debates. The corporate controlled so-called Commission on Presidential Debates will not let any independent candidate in unless they show 15% in a series of polls in September. That's no surprise. What is surprising is the failure of other debates to fill the vacuum. Part of this is due to Senator Obama's reluctance to engage his opponents. On May 4th, Obama told Tim Russert on Meet The Press that he was willing to debate with "any of my opponents about what this country means, what makes it great." But earlier this month, Obama's campaign manager backed off, saying that Obama would debate only Senator McCain and only in the three rigged debates that's sponsored by the two parties and paid for by corporations. Senator Obama's also refused to participate in a number of other debates including the Google debate in New Orleans, the Texas Ft. Hood debate that is being organized by veterans groups and the series of ten townhall meetings proposed by Senator McCain. Senator Obama's refusal to participate is a mistake and is costing him in the polls. Just yesterday, the Gallup tracking polls put McCain and Obama tied at 44% each. If Obama doesn't agree to more debates he could end up at the end of a sentence that starts out "Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. With only McCain and Obama on the stage , there will be no debate of key issues and redirections important to the American people . Just go down the partial list. Single-payer Medicare for all health care, supported by the majority of the American people, the majority of doctors and nurses, and just recently, unanimously, by the US conference of mayors? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Reversing US policy in the Middle East? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Cut the bloated, wasteful, redundant military budget? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." They want a bigger military budget. Empty the prisons of drug possessors and fill 'em up with corporate criminals? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Nader-Gonzalez says "yes" to each. The only way to change this systemic exclusion is for millions of Americans to become engaged now. If you can, please join with us at our two Super Rallies-- on August 27th in Denver at the University of Denver Magness Arena or September 4th in Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall. And help us raise the banner for all to see: "OPEN THE DEBATES." If you are not able to attend, please go to VoteNader.org and donate now whatever you can up to the legal maximum of $4,600 to help fund our Open The Debates Campaign. Our goal is to raise $50,000 by Wednesday night. Last night, we were close to $14,000 in less than three days, but we have a ways to go. So join with us in Denver and Minneapolis if you can. We're planning to have some prominent activists and musicians with us. Stay tuned for more information on that. And we have some surprise, giant, inflatable visuals that should be a lot of fun, that will travel with us as we move from Denver to Minneapolis and then, hopefully, will bring attention to our Super Rallies from the press. Thank you for your ongoing and considered support to our campaign. Together we are making a difference. Onward to November. I'm Ralph Nader. Well, what do you know, that's already been worked out. And the first Super Rally is this Wednesday. Along with Ralph and his running mate Matt Gonzalez, also announced as appearing are Cindy Sheehan, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and Sean Penn. Tickets can be reserved here. And those not in the Denver area Wednesday can tune into Free Speech TV starting at 9:00 p.m. EST, or click here to watch online (it will also be broadcast on public access channels). We doubt Ralph will be dressing up gossip and passing it off as an "issue" at the Super Rally. We'll assume he'll address more important things, as he does in "The Difference Between The Two Parties:" This is Ralph Nader. Just how different are the two major parties? Well I've often said that the towering similarities between the two parties are far greater than the dwindling differences they're really willing to fight over. It's clear that the Democrats are better than Republicans on Social Security, civil justice, the right to go to court if you're wrongfully injured, civil rights and a number of other issues. But consider the similarities. As I've said when it comes to the overriding issue of the corporate takeover of our federal government department by department, agency by agency, the two parties differ in the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations pound on their door. The two parties are pretty similar on foreign and military policy. In recent weeks the leading foreign affairs reporters for the Washington Post and the New York Times said that Obama would be similar in his foreign and military policy to the second term of George W. Bush. They're both pushing for more military budget. They haven't singled out a single weapons system that they think is obsolete, redundant or not needed. They both are not doing anything about cracking down on corporate crimes commensurate with the violations of health and safety laws by the corporations in the looting and draining of trillions of dollars of mutual fund savings and pension funds they both are furthering the perforation of the tax code corporate loopholes and offshore havens. They both have put the regulatory agencies under anesthesia. They both are in a race to get more and more private special interest money into elections corrupting our election process. You ever hear them mention in any specifics what they're going to do about consumer protection or what they're going to do about repealing anti-worker, anti-union laws like Taft-Hartley? No way. Similarly silent. The Democrats took over the Congress in January 2007, they haven't rolled back any of the legislation or even made a major college try to roll back the bad legislation that Bush and his Congressional Republicans have passed So we can go and on but just think about it, how necessary it is to have somewhere else on the ballot line to cast your vote. Nader-Gonzalez. Thank you. And he'll be the candidate taking on the military industrial complex, as he did last week in "The Bloated Defense Budget:" This is Ralph Nader. Remember reading or hearing the farewell address of President Dwight Eisenhower? 1960, when he warned Americans about what he called "the military industrial complex." Well, just a few words about where we are in the military budget. It's now 1/2 of the entire federal government's operating expenditures. It's way over $700 billion and that's not counting the money for helping our veterans. Both Obama and McCain want to increase the military budget. The Government Accountability Office yearly describes the gigantic Pentagon contracting budget unauditable. Just imagine, half of what the federal government spends in operating expenditures can't even be audited. For example, people inside the Defense Department think that the F-22 should never have been contract for, built wasn't necessary. The Osprey helicopter -- defective, killed quite a few marines in test flights, shouldn't have been built in their judgment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are in the pipeline for weapons systems that were designed for the Soviet Union-era of hostility. They no longer have any strategic value and many of them are redundant. We've got to cut the waste out of the huge military budget and put that money back into repairing America's public works and cities, towns and rural areas all over the country. If we cut out the expenditures of keeping our soldiers out of Japan and Western Europe -- 60-plus years after WWII -- a portion of that money could give free education to all students in public universities in the United States. Think about it. Think about who stands for a lean defense -- not a wasteful defense; who stands for respecting your tax payer dollar and returning it to you to improve the public facilities, schools and clinics, libraries, drinking water systems, sewage stream and plant upgrades among some of the deferred maintenance that's reducing the facilities that are necessary for a thriving community. These issues won't be covered by Barack. And Patti Smith may think we have to support Barack but Patti Smith doesn't rule our lives, now does she? The woman who shocked the nation with "People Have The Power" (Rebecca: "Trust me, I saw the MTV debut of that 120 Minutes and they were very luke warm to the black & white video mainly because the song was considered too 'hippy' like and not 'punk' enough.") now wants to say that people have the power to cheerlead the corporate candidate. It's very, very sad. But Patti's far from alone in blocking out the Ralph Nader campaign. This is "Bob Herbert's World:" This is Ralph Nader. The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a problem. He's written numerous columns complaining about presidential candidates and their campaigns ignoring serious policy issues. It's as if no one else is running for president in Bob Herbert's world other than Barack Obama and John McCain. In a recent article that he wrote in the New York Times, he complains about how the two major candidates and their campaigns are ignoring the problems of the cities: the poverty, the transportation problems, the lack of repair and expansion of public works and facilities, the crime. He complains that the mayors have been complaining that they have been abandoned by Washington, citing a recent gathering of city mayors that he attended. In one of these gatherings he cites the mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, John Robert Smith saying that he believes the nation should devote the same level of commitment to developing a first-rate passenger rail system as was marshalled for the interstate highway system in the Eisenhower era. Well, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign has taken a strong stand for the expansion and modernization of passenger rail as a way to save energy, to reduce casualties on the highway and to provide more immediate evacuation of the cities in case of a calamity or a natural disaster. But to Bob Herbert, the Nader Gonzalez campaign which supports almost one-for-one so many of the issues that he advances and champions doesn't exist. To him, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign or any progressive third party campaign doesn't exist in his column so I say to Bob Herbert, "At least level with your readers, Mr. Herbert, tell them that you think the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, own all the voters and there's no one else on the ballot. At least level with them." This is Ralph Nader. In Bob Herbert's world, you only have the choice between McCain or Obama. In the real world, you have many more choices. In the real world, people actually have the power -- the power Patti Smith sings about if not embraces. Ralph's Daily Audio is audio commentary the campaign posts Monday through Friday at the Nader-Gonzalez website. Posted by Third Estate Sunday Review

MEXICO: Anti-Crime Pledges - This Time with Teeth?

by Diego Cevallos In response to the growing public outcry over Mexico’s soaring crime rates, the president, state governors, lawmakers and judges agreed to a broad new anti-crime plan, characterised by a number of old promises, but also by one novel aspect: precise timeframes, targets and follow-up mechanisms. If the plan announced Thursday night by President Felipe Calderón fails, "the little credibility that the authorities still have with respect to their ability to fight crime will go up in smoke, and support for the democratic system will decline," Guillermo Zepeda, an expert on security issues, told IPS. The new plan that emerged from Thursday’s high-profile day-long anti-crime summit includes pledges of passing new legislation, investigating and purging all of the country’s police forces over the next year, undertaking intelligence actions, building new high security prisons and creating new mechanisms to encourage Mexicans to report crimes, such as anonymous hotlines. Most of the several dozen specific actions encompassed by the plan are repeats of earlier promises, with the difference that this time they have all been brought together in a single document and agreed on by governors, mayors and legislators from a range of political parties, who set aside their differences for one day to discuss possible solutions to the pressing problem. Even leftist Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard showed up, for the first time taking part in a meeting along with Calderón. Since he took office in December 2006, the mayor has refused any contact with the conservative president, on the argument that fraud was committed in the July 2006 presidential elections. One of the novelties of the document signed Thursday was the creation of a citizen’s observatory to monitor law enforcement efforts. Another was the authorities’ promise to meet again in 30 days to carry out the first follow-up on the plan. And in a third meeting to take place 100 days from now, academic institutions will be invited to report their own evaluation of the government’s compliance with the measures and targets. "Society might give the authorities the benefit of the doubt, even though the state’s response is tardy and reactive," said Zepeda, with the Centre of Research for Development (CIDAC). According to official statistics, 256 crimes an hour are committed in Mexico, 98 percent of which go unclarified and unpunished due to corruption and ineffective law enforcement efforts by the police, investigators and judges, and because only a tiny proportion of victims dare or bother to report crimes. The current crime rates are the highest ever recorded in the history of this country of 104 million people. Since the start of the Calderón administration in December 2006, 4,800 drug-related murders have been committed, compared to 9,000 in the 2000-2006 term of his predecessor Vicente Fox, who also belonged to the National Action Party (PAN). Added to the growing number of murders are constant reports of kidnappings, rapes and robberies, and no one bats an eye when it is reported that police officers were involved. A recent case that brought public outrage to a boiling point was the kidnapping and murder, apparently with police involvement, of the 14-year-old son of a prominent businessman, Alejandro Martí. After the boy’s body was found on Aug. 1, public fury grew and grew, until a massive anti-crime march was announced for Aug. 30. "The Martí case revived society’s indignation and ability to be shocked, because we were getting used to the violence, remaining unperturbed in the face of so many crimes," said Zepeda. The Aug. 30 march in the capital and other cities was announced by civic groups mainly linked to the business sector, but a growing number of trade unions, community associations and other organisations have decided to take part. The protesters, expected to number in the hundreds of thousands, will dress in white and carry candles. Martí, who addressed Thursday’s meeting, told the authorities they should quit if they think they will be unable to curb the country’s high crime rates. "If you can't do it, quit, don't continue to occupy government offices, don't continue drawing salaries for not doing anything; that is also a form of corruption," said the businessman. Calderón said the proliferation of crime in Mexico "cannot be understood without taking into account the cover provided for so many years by impunity". Zepeda, who coordinated a broad CIDAC survey on insecurity in Mexico, said the organisation found that 98 percent of all crimes go unpunished. "We have been listening to promises from the authorities for 10 years, but all we see is the situation getting worse and worse." Calderón has deployed thousands of members of the military and federal police throughout the country to clamp down on drug trafficking. However, figures from the Attorney General’s Office indicate that the strategy has failed to make a dent in the drug trade. On the contrary, all facets of drug trafficking activity -- production, transportation and possession -- have increased 25 percent on average under Calderón. At the same time, reports of human rights violations committed by soldiers, like illegal searches, arbitrary arrests, cases of torture and sexual abuse, have mushroomed. The government defends the use of the military in the fight against the drug trade, arguing that there is no other force with firepower similar to that of the drug trafficking gangs. In addition, the police forces are hardly in a position to take on the powerful drug mafias, have no central command, and are riddled with corruption. For the umpteenth time, the authorities have once again promised to clean up the country’s police forces and to coordinate the 1,600 different forces that are active in the country, with a combined total of 412,000 police officers. They also pledged to design national standards for police and set up agencies that will continually scrutinise police forces, with federal assistance. The great majority of police forces are managed by governors and mayors, and under Mexican law, prevention and prosecution of almost all crimes, with the exception of drug trafficking, falls under the jurisdiction of local and state authorities, rather than the central government. "I hope the new commitments on crime represent a watershed. Otherwise, the crisis will extend to the entire state apparatus," said Zepeda.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

CONSUMER REPORT #5

Idle Thoughts of a Nonconformer

Wild, impetuous wind rattling my windows, would you drive me out on a night like this?

Now is the hour of my imperfection. Send me into the storm, float or sink. Here is proof I do not rust. Like a bubble I float. Oil and water do not mix.

We were wild youth, huddled in the dawn, making love in the face of the night. Free we were to follow the wind, defying all law and convention.

We flew a flag of our own devising and conceived a separate perception of the world. Standing before the world, we lived loudly.

Yet the conventions snuck in during our earliest years, before the pass was guarded, conditioning us to seek and consume.

I am an exile of the night; there is no place for my kind, except for the vanishing wilderness, or the compunction of the considerate.

Now the wind urges me on, saying, “Forget your condition. Run with me and be free.”

If they IM'd: Obama's VP Prospects

The whole country is waiting breathlessly to find out who will be chosen to stand next to Barack Obama sometimes. If you think you're getting impatient, imagine how Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and Kathleen Sebelius must feel. If only those four hopefuls could commiserate, like maybe over IM...


Friday, August 22, 2008

Gods, Demons and Imaginary Friends, by Philip H. Farber

When I first began my study of magick, almost thirty years ago, I was fascinated and bewildered by the numerous, often conflicting, systems for cataloging entities. Every school of thought and every religion offered a pantheon of entities, avatars, teachers, and earthly representatives. There were catalogs filled with icons, pantheons crowded with gods and goddesses, angels organized in hierarchies more complex than government offices, and demons lined up behind their bigger, badder brethren. Even the most ostensibly monotheistic religions still had lists of saints, prophets, teachers, legendary characters, and further subdivisions of their One True, yet nonetheless divisible, God.

All these systems were fascinating, of course, and I spent many days, weeks, months and years focused upon exploring them. I studied Jung’s Man and His Symbols, pored over Crowley’s 777, spread tarot cards on my living room floor, tossed coins among the piles of tarot cards, and created magic marker enneagrams, veves, and hieroglyphs. I soon found that a few of these entities had the ability to affect me in surprising ways. Some I found I was inexplicably drawn to – I wrote short stories and created tarot cards for the god Pan for many years, performed rituals involving Aleister Crowley’s triumvirate of Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit and placed candy, rum and cigars on altars for Voodoo loas, for instance. Similarly some entities repelled me--although most simply did not touch me in any immediately significant way. But ultimately my question about all of these was, “Why this stuff?” The teaching was that these entities were symbols, archetypes from the collective unconscious--from a Platonic dreamworld in which the proper shapes of all things were stored.

I'm fine with the idea that our unconscious minds intersect someplace and that we share the common implicit information that is the world beyond our immediate awareness. It makes sense to me on a very practical level – that everything in the universe influences everything else, no matter how slightly or significantly and that information about everything is available everywhere, if we have the ability to decode it. That still doesn’t offer an answer as to how we came up with this particular stuff from among all the potential shapes and forms, gods, angels, demons and symbols of the unperceived world. What is it about that memetic complex that we call a god that makes it a god? How was this stuff first derived? I wanted to understand the nature of the gods and goddesses from books and esoteric lore that I had come to love – ultimately, I wanted to find a pantheon within my own life and experience.

After some years of contemplating this issue of the origin of archetypes, I decided that the emphasis on the "stuff" was only half the equation. The stuff – the names, shapes, clothing and bedroom habits of the gods – represents the content, the collection of ideas and perceptions that we circle in a metaphysical Venn diagram to delineate exactly what constitutes a particular entity. The answer to my question lay as much within the circle as in the hand that pushes the pen to draw it – or rather in the mind that guides that hand.

The question became, “What is it about a particular collection of stuff that fires off the part of my brain that recognizes it as something meaningful?” What makes the character of Ganesh recognizable to worshipers as a god, for instance? It’s a more complex question than it might appear on the surface.

The first level to be peeled back deals with how we recognize anything as conscious, as something with which we can communicate. An intuitive Turing Test performed by the unconsciousness mind seems to immediately categorize things into “conscious entity” and “inanimate lump.” We look at each other and, hopefully, we recognize one another as human and conscious and at least reasonably intelligent. Some very simple visual patterns, for instance, seem to fire off this sense of recognition – a smiley face, have-a-nice day symbol is recognizable to us as a human face; a South Park cartoon character can be identified with--for a half hour at a time--as a conscious entity with the ability to communicate, make decisions, and act-- however stupidly--upon the world.

Linguistic patterns also seem to have a similar ability to reveal the conscious state of an entity. A sentence formed with proper syntax suggests that its writer or speaker is possessed of some measure of intelligence. Based on such unconscious intuitions, we recognize writers as conscious entities when we read their well-formed sentences. We recognize other humans as such when we communicate with each other in text environments such as Internet forums. And we even recognize fictional characters as entities for whom we might predict behavior and sympathize. (What would Captain Kirk do?) There are many behavioral patterns and cues that help us to, unconsciously, tell the difference between a conscious entity and a brick of cheese.

This all made much more sense to me when I came across the concept of mirror neurons. These are physical structures in the brain which enable us to build predictive models of intelligence or consciousness. In effect, mirror neurons build models of entities and use our own consciousness as computing power to run those models. We look at another person and we a) recognize them as another person, and b) try them on for size to some degree. This suggests that mirror neurons are not only the operative force behind empathy, sympathy, and most forms of communication, but may also explain some of the phenomena involving gods and demons with which I was struggling to understand.

First, let’s demonstrate how mirror neurons work. The following exercises are excerpted from the Meta-Magick Invocation Workdbook (© 2008 Philip H. Farber, used with permission).

Watch Yourself Relax:

  • Imagine that you can see yourself, or hear yourself, or feel yourself, as if observing another person. Make it like looking at a movie or a picture of yourself. If you are better at hearing or feeling, then hear yourself talking or making sounds, or feel where your presence would be.

  • Imagine that this other self that you are observing is in a place that is very comfortable and very, very relaxing. It’s not necessary to see, hear or feel the place, just keep your attention on this other self.

  • Watch, listen, and/or feel as this other self becomes more and more relaxed, more and more comfortable, and exhibits the effects of relaxation: softer muscles, different posture, different facial expression, and so forth.

  • Make changes to the structure of the image (but not the content):

    1. Make the image larger or smaller

    2. Make the colors brighter or more muted

    3. Emphasize the foreground as opposed to the background, and vice versa

    4. Make the sounds or speech louder or quieter (if the emphasis is on hearing rather than seeing)

    5. Speed up and slow down the action (works for all senses)

    6. Move the image closer or farther away (works for all senses)

    7. Give the image a soft glow or sparkles

  • Notice any changes to your state as you experiment with these changes.

The above exercise deals not just with our ability to recognize entity-hood in our dealings with external stuff, but also with the things that we imagine, the dissociated images and entities that we create in our minds. The very (im)material that gods, demons, and imaginary friends are made from. Also notice how subtle changes in the form and quality of our internal image have the ability to change our response to the entity. Different configurations affect our consciousness in different ways. Making the representation larger or smaller, brighter or dimmer, etc., will often continue the process of making us more or less relaxed. Hopefully you found a configuration that was wonderfully relaxing.

Although the above excersise was about our self-image, it gives us a start towards finding clues to the anatomy of entities of any kind. And even better, we may notice some direct connections between the anatomy of an entity and our own states of consciousness.

Let’s consider for a moment our criteria for recognizing something as god or goddess, demon or angel. There are, generally, two major magical operations that involve these critters: invocation and evocation. Invocation is the drawing into oneself of a quality or entity; evocation is the externalization of a quality or entity. In a traditional invocation of Hermes, we might visit a temple of Hermes and contemplate his image, or recite a descriptive poem in his honor, or create a magick circle and bring into it only those things of Hermetic nature, so that we might become more Hermetic ourselves. In a traditional evocation we might summon a Goetic spirit into a triangle and question it about what would make life better for us or constrain it to perform some task for us to that same end. We perform these operations quite naturally in daily life, outside the context of magick or mysticism. When we are inspired by another person or a work of art, that is a kind of invocation. When we imagine conversations with people who aren’t present, or attempt to verbally convince our computer connection to go faster, we are engaging in mild forms of evocation.

Let’s say that, for the purposes of this discussion, our entities become useful when we can use them to perform invocation and evocation willfully and with well-defined intent. An entity suitable for invocation could, ideally, change you in some desired way by contemplating the entity and drawing it into yourself. An entity suitable for evocation would be able to impart information or perform tasks according to your will. In our Meta-Magical explorations, we hope to discover entities in relation to our own states and our consciousness, rather than necessarily learning some previous explorer’s version of a pantheon. (And when we all do this, perhaps we’ll find that we have many of these entities in common.)

As in the preceding exercise, we begin with an image of the self. Our hypothesis here is that a self image is the very essence of entity-recognition. It is our basic reference point for consciousness and can also help to reveal our own innate pantheons, the entities who already inhabit our world of consciousness. To change that image from our human self to that of a god, we have to tweak the parameters in order for that image (or voice or feeling) to rise to the level of something useful in invocation or evocation, something with the potential to change us through interaction.

Instant God(dess):

  • Decide on a quality that you either have and would like to enhance, or one that you don’t have and would like to acquire. For instance, creativity, compassion, patience, strength, assertiveness, financial skill, adaptability, understanding, concentration, flexibility, love, sex appeal, or whatever you decide upon. Make sure this quality is a positive one, that is, it is one that stands on its own and is not expressed as a lack of something else (for instance, “reduced stress” might be expressed here as “relaxation”, “no more bad luck” might be expressed for these purposes as “good luck” and so on).

  • Breathe and banish. Imagine a circle around yourself, at about the diameter of your spread arms. Sit or stand in the center of that circle. Fill your lungs completely, with a slow, even inhalation. As you inhale, allow your attention to expand to fill the circle. As you exhale, slowly, evenly, and completely, allow your attention to contract to a single point in the center of your chest. Repeat at least three times.

  • Create a dissociated image of yourself (an image, voice or feeling of you as if perceived by another person or in a recording), standing or sitting. Eliminate background and any accessories, objects, props, and so on that might be in your image, so that the image is just you.

  • Begin to adjust the physiology of the imagined person to include more and more of your desired quality. Pay attention to and adjust facial expression, posture, breathing, movements, skin tone, muscle usage and anything else that might pertain.

  • Adjust the structure of the image (submodalities) for greater impact. Experiment with image size, color depth and quality, image location, and special effects such as glows, sparkles, shimmers. Take each of these to its greatest intensity – for instance, the image could be increased to much greater than life-size. If this image were a god of that particular quality, how would these submodalities manifest? Just how big, bright, loud, strong and sparkly is a god(dess) of x?

  • Begin to add in extra features and aspects from other humans, from animals, machines as appropriate to a god(dess) of this quality. For instance, if cunning and strength are useful to this entity, give it some qualities of a tiger or other animal that might represent those qualities (head, body, teeth, eyes, whatever). If enhanced intelligence or processing speed is important, then maybe a computer chip or having a computer as an accessory might work. Take as much time as is necessary to test out some of these qualities. Notice which ones feel the best and keep them. Have fun with this and make your image fantastic.

  • Adjust physiology to account for the additions. If you added a computer chip to the brain, how would that be reflected in facial expression, breathing, posture, etc.?

  • Contemplate the image for at least 30 seconds.Pull the image into the circle with you and draw it into you. Wear it like clothing, wrap it around you, let it interpenetrate your body and mind. Let your own body, posture, breathing, facial expression, etc. reflect what you saw in this image. Let the memories of this (future) self who has already resolved this basic need be your memories. Breathe and banish. Be open to thoughts, epiphanies, and suggestions from your unconscious mind that may occur throughout the day as a result of this practice.

  • This exercise and the early one are offered here for demonstration purposes, to give some practical experience of the relationship between entities and consciousness. For the most part, entities produced or contacted in this way are personal ones, not necessarily god or goddess archetypes familiar to us from the astral storehouse of sacred images. However, sometimes they do rise to that level and first-time practitioners occasionally find themselves face-to-face with deities who offer names and abilities drawn from known pantheons and belief systems.

  • The exercises demonstrate an extremely stripped-down and basic mode of working. There are endless modifications and enhancements to these processes of deriving personal pantheons from our unconscious minds. At some point, they become much more than simple demonstrations of a point – but I’ll leave that, for now, to your own imagination and experience...

(...And before you’re off to read the next article, I’ll just note that to fully understand the point that this piece dances around, no matter how well you think you get it on an intellectual level, it is most likely necessary to actually perform the experiments. You have to look through the microscope and adjust the focus before you really know what a micro-organism is like. And it likewise helps to change the focus of your mind before you really understand the nature of the entities all around us, including gods, goddesses, demons, angels, imaginary friends, ideologies, corporations, schools of art, mass movements and those mysterious bipeds we call “human.”)


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RadiOM.org

http://www.radiom.org/

About radiOM.org

Material available on radiOM.org has been selected from the ever growing archives of Other Minds. Here you will find recordings of OM's past music festivals and concert productions, selected recordings of new music sent to us by composers from around the world, and selections from 4000 hours of audiotape recordings from the KPFA Radio Music Department collection transferred to Other Minds in 2000. The KFPA tapes contain live conversations, interviews, and performances with many of the innovative musicians who created 20th Century new music. Check our site weekly for new additions. At least five new programs are made available each month.

The Other Minds Recordings

The Other Minds Music Festival brings to San Francisco annually a group of eight to twelve distinguished, non-conforming composers whose work has contributed to the redefinition of classical music, jazz, and various hybrid forms. The first event, held in November 1993, featured a world premiere of a collaboration piece by Conlon Nancarrow and Trimpin, performances by Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Robert Ashley, Foday Musa Suso, Julia Wolfe and many others.

In subsequent years we've had presentations from Sam Rivers, Laurie Anderson, Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Frederic Rzewski, Henry Brant, Luc Ferrari, Hamza el Din, DJ Spooky, James Tenney, Ellen Fullman, Evelyn Glennie, Ned Rorem, Tigran Mansurian, Fred Frith, Michael Nyman, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and numerous others.

The KPFA Recordings

KPFA-FM Radio in Berkeley California, a part of the Pacifica Foundation's radio network, was founded in 1949 by Lewis Hill, a journalist and poet who, along with a group of radio professionals, wanted "not only to disseminate the diversity of thought and art produced by this and other societies, but to make possible a way of life for individuals of artistic and intellectual abilities to contribute to the culture themselves." To promote this vision, KPFA capitalized the enterprise not through commercial funding, but through listener sponsorship, a model now imitated throughout the U.S. Significantly, KPFA quickly carved out an international reputation in music programming.

A fuller history of the KPFA Music Department led by composers, music critics, and music librarians exclusively from 1943-1992, is available here.

Other Minds acquired the KPFA portion of their archive in 2000 with the assistance of private donors and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and began raising funds necessary to begin the preservation phase of this project, digitizing some 4,000 analog reel to reel tapes. Partners were found in Fantasy Studios in Berkeley who began the process of restoring and digitizing the collection, now in varying degrees of slow decay. There is still much work to be done but thanks to grants awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation, The Amphion Foundation, Save America's Treasures, and the Grammy Foundation, OM has been able to increase its effort in the archiving and preservation of audio and visual material in our collections, and allowing the material to be accessed on this site by curious listeners around the globe. See Acknowledgements for a list of contributors to the project.

An important foundational element in keeping this project together has been the continual involvement of Charles Amirkhanian; first as Music Director for KPFA (1969 - 1992), then as co-founder (with Jim Newman) and Artistic and Executive Director of Other Minds. Amirkhanian, a recognized authority in the field of New Music composition and performance, has led the efforts of both organizations to create a forum for the avant-garde.


Ecuador complains of meddling by Venezuelan opposition

[Thanks to Kevin for this link] The Ecuadorian government claimed on Friday that Venezuelan university leaders were in Ecuador "teaching tactics to the opposition" to spread violence in advance to the constitutional referendum on September 28th.

"One of the representatives of the Venezuelan violent youth came here to organize that; he came to teach people how to use violence," said Policy Minister Ricardo Patiño, AFP quoted.

Almost concomitantly, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that the opposition had been following the same strategy as in Venezuela and Bolivia.

"They used the same tactic against (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chávez: to prompt young, university leaders to create confrontation and put the blame on the government," said Correa during a ministerial meeting in the Andean town of Guamote.


How did Lewis Carroll produce the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland and became famous?

Alice’s wonderland of rushing rabbits, magical brews, queen of hearts, shrinking sizes, Cheshire cats, pool of tears, knaves and tumbling cards did not blossom merely from Lewis Carroll’s imagination. Experts opine that the author who weaved the Wonderland has recreated, in his fantasy yarn, some of his experiences while grappling with migraine.

“Many of the descriptions conjured for Carroll’s stories were based on classic migraine experiences,” says neurologist Mary Ann Mays, M.D, of the Cleveland Clinic. “Only a person who had experienced these phenomena would be able to describe them.

Today, “Alice in Wonderland syndrome” is a term used by neurologists to refer to a perception disorder that is characterized by hallucinations and visual disturbances –symptoms that are associated with the ‘aura’ that precedes a migraine.

A migraine is a traumatic experience, which the sufferer usually hates to recall. It is an intense, throbbing pain affecting one or both sides of the head. A migraine episode may last for a few hours or may extend for days; some are so severe that it incapacitates the sufferers, leaving them bed-ridden

It is still not clear why migraines occur although several triggers have been identified such as stress, pollution, noise, odors, certain medications, caffeine, champagne, red wine, processed meat, old cheese and chocolates. Hormonal changes and change in routine schedules are also known to usher in migraines.

Migraines seem to favor women, as they are three times more likely to suffer from the condition, compared to men. And it also observed that there is a genetic predisposition involved- the chances of the victims’ children being affected is higher than the children of normal individuals.

All about Aura

The word ‘aura’, which conjures up a surreal vision of subtle splendor, is actually an array of psychologic or neurologic disturbances that precedes a migraine episode.

Auras have a short life span; they may last for 5 to 20 minutes with their frequencies varying among individuals. Some experience it once in a lifetime while others experience it every day.

Auras comprise of symptoms such as vertigo, imbalance, confusion or numbness. Another intriguing feature of the aura is the dramatic visual effects or ‘special effects’-flashing lights, floaters, zigzag lines, complex colors and shapes.

Migraines are broadly classified into two- those with and those without aura. Although migraines with aura are less common , they are more challenging, medically, and can be more unsettling for the affected individuals.

The ‘one-eyed’ monster

In the ocular variety, which is the rarest migraine, individuals experience the ‘bizarre’ associated with the aura, but only in one eye. These symptoms are temporary and do not cause permanent damage. This is commonly followed by a migraine headache.

Some patients see blind spots or “holes,” which is actually a reference to the missing segments in a normal visual field. Shades of black or gray over the visual field are also viewed by some. Some people draw a comparison between these visual phenomena and the faulty patterns produced by an old television, with compromised reception. Others believe it is like looking through wet glass.

Although the experiences are similar for patients who experience ocular migraine and conventional migraine, there are differences.

One key difference is the source of the visual disturbances in the two headaches. In case of ocular migraine, the retinal blood vessels, inside the eye, play the trick, while the occipital cortex of the brain is the source of visual disturbances in migraines with aura.

Therefore, there seems to be some instant remedy for those affected with the ocular migraine. All they need to do is to close the affected eyes to stop the symptoms.

Taking the bull by the horn

Visiting a neurologist is not a bad idea for people who suffer from ocular headache. This would help to rule out other conditions, such as stroke or retinal artery thrombosis that produce similar symptoms.

Traditionally, anti-inflammatory agents have been used to treat migraines. Although not ideal for ocular migraines, the recently discovered triptans, are believed to be God –sent. A healthy life style with consistent patterns holds the key to a migraine-free existence.


The Limits of Power: Andrew Bacevich on the End of American Exceptionalism

[I'm not sure I understand why Amy began the interview with that question, I can only guess she may have wanted him in a certain frame of mind for the interview's maximum truthage? - Thanks to ellwort for this link] Guest:

Andrew Bacevich, Retired colonel who spent twenty-three years in the US Army. He is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and writes for a wide spectrum of publications including The Nation, Foreign Affairs, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative. He became a staunch critic of the Iraq war and Bush’s foreign policy and is the author of several books, including The New American Militarism. His latest book is called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest is Andrew Bacevich. He’s a conservative historian. He spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army. He also lost his son in Iraq. Andrew Bacevich writes, “In joining the Army, my son was following in his father’s footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time.”

Andrew Bacevich holds both parties accountable for the Iraq war. As he writes, “To be fair, responsibility for the war’s continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party. After my son’s death, my state’s senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, telephoned to express their condolences. Stephen F. Lynch, our congressman, attended my son’s wake. Kerry was present for the funeral Mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff.” Bacevich goes on to write, “To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove—namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.”

Andrew Bacevich has just published a new book. It’s called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. He joins me here in the firehouse studio.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Bacevich.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you very much for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: How hard was it to write this book after your son’s death? This is not theoretical for you.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I try not to talk about my son’s death, because it’s a private matter, and to tell you the truth, I don’t want to do anything that even looks like it might be exploiting his memory. I would say that I imagine that some of the energy that informed the writing a book came from the emotional response to my son’s death. But the content, the critique, is unrelated to that tragedy.

The content of the book very much reflects my dismay at the direction of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. There’s a lot in the book that tries to hold the Bush administration accountable for recent events, but I would not for a second want to suggest that the crisis in which we find ourselves today ought to be laid simply at the foot of the Bush administration or the Republican Party, because it’s been a long time coming.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by “exceptionalism”?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is not an idea that’s original with me. It’s clear that from the founding of the Anglo-American colonies, from the time that John Winthrop made his famous sermon and declared that “we shall be as a city upon a hill” a light to the world—it’s clear that, from the outset, there has been a strong sense among Americans that we are a special people with a providential mission.

In the twentieth century, probably going back to roughly the time of Woodrow Wilson, certainly since the end of the Cold War, this concept of a providential mission, a responsibility to the world, has translated into a sense of empowerment or prerogative to determine the way the world is supposed to work, what it’s supposed to look like, and also, over the last twenty years or so, an increasing willingness to use military force to cause the world to look the way we want it to look. And I think that that expression of American exceptionalism is one that’s not only utterly false, but is greatly at odds with own interests as a country.

AMY GOODMAN: You write, “Recalling how Washington saw the post-Cold War world and America’s place in or atop it helps us understand why policymakers failed to anticipate, deter or deflect the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean-–and again, this is very much not something that one would lay at the foot of the Bush administration, but you recall that at the end of the Cold War, when history had supposedly ended, when globalization, which really was a synonym for Americanization, was thought to be sweeping the world and creating a new order, when Democrats and Republicans alike declared with great confidence that not only was the US the sole superpower, but that the US possessed military might such as the world had never seen, well, an attack on Manhattan killing 3,000 Americans wasn’t something that was supposed to happen.

So the focus in the ’90s in the Clinton era and the focus into the first nine months we saw of the Bush era was very much out there somewhere, you know, where we were going to sort out the problems of the world. Nobody was paying attention to the possibility of actually having to defend the United States of America. So, there we were, spending on defense—well, “defense” in quotes—defending on our military probably as much as the rest of the world was spending on their militaries, and yet our military simply wasn’t prepared to perform what ought to be its primary mission, and that is defending the people of the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: You say the Department of Defense didn’t actually do defense. It was prepared—it specialized in power projection.

ANDREW BACEVICH: It still doesn’t do defense. I mean, it is a remarkable thing, I think, that the reflexive response to 9/11 is, first of all, to create a new bureaucratic entity that supposedly does defend the country—that’s the Department of Homeland Security, as we call it—but to continue to see the purpose of the Department of Defense, so-called, as power projection.

So, what has the Department of Defense been doing for the last seven years since 9/11? Well, been fighting a war in—where? Afghanistan. And a second one in Iraq. Now, I think you can make the case for Afghanistan, at least in terms of you can make a case for the necessity of holding the Taliban accountable for having given sanctuary to al-Qaeda. You can’t make any case for the invasion of Iraq as related to the global war on terror. And frankly, it’s becoming rather difficult, I think, to make a case for the continuation of the Afghanistan war as part of the global war on terror.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, you identified me as a conservative, and I don’t deny that label, but I think in this particular context what conservatism means is to be realistic in understanding how the world works and being respectful of history and taking care not to overstate one’s own capacity to influence events.

And I think, in that regard, if we look at Afghanistan today, we have to see a country that historically, at least as I understand Afghan history, has never really functioned as an integrated and coherent nation state. It’s never been ruled from Kabul. It’s always been ruled from the—in the provinces by people you might call tribal chiefs. You might call them warlords, you can call them local bosses, but authority has been widely distributed. But we are engaged in a project in which we insist that we’re going to transform Afghanistan into something more or less like a modern, coherent nation state, and indeed, we insist that it has to conform to our notions of liberal democracy.

Were we able to actually do that, I think it would be a wonderful thing. But seven years or so into this project, I’m not sure we can do it. Matter of fact, I’m increasingly persuaded that we can’t do it, and therefore—and I think in your news summary you made reference to this—you know, for somebody like Senator Obama to say, “Elect me. I’ll win the global war on terror by sending more troops to Afghanistan,” I think ought to give people pause and, frankly, ought to cause them to wonder how much change an Obama administration would make with regard to a foreign policy. That’s not an argument for voting for McCain, by a long shot, but it suggests the narrowness of the debate over foreign policy.

AMY GOODMAN: So how is this narrowness taking place? I mean, yes, you have McCain saying we’ll be in Iraq for a hundred years. You have Obama speaking out against the war, but he votes with McCain for funding for the war all through the years—

ANDREW BACEVICH: Right, right, right.

AMY GOODMAN: —as a senator, and then he says we’ll send thousands more, we should send thousands more troops to Afghanistan.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Right, right. I think there are differences between the two, but I think we should see the differences as differences in operational priorities. McCain insists that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and that it must be won, and it’s clear that if we, the American people, elect him, that we will be engaged in Iraq for a long, long time. Senator Obama says, “No, Afghanistan is the central front in the global war on terror. Elect me and will shift our military effort to Afghanistan.” It’s a difference, but it’s a difference in operational priorities; it’s not a difference in strategy.

Both of them—McCain explicitly, I think Obama implicitly—endorse the notion that a global war on terror really provides the right frame for thinking about US national security policy going forward. A real debate would be one in which we would have one candidate, and certainly it would be McCain, arguing for the global war on terror and an opponent who was questioning whether the global war on terror makes sense. I don’t think it makes sense.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this, the global war on terror.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, the phrase itself is one that really ought to cause people to have their heads snap back a little bit, because President Bush and others around him—Rumsfeld was certainly very clear on this—it’s a war, it’s global, and how long is it going to go on? Well, they said from the outset it’s going to go on for decades. In the Pentagon, there’s a phrase that gets used, “generational war,” a war that lasts a generation or more.

Well, we need to ask ourselves whether that really makes sense? What are the costs entailed by waging war for a generation? Where does the money come from? What are we not doing because we’re spending all this money on war? And in a very human sense, who actually pays the cost? I mean, who serves? Who doesn’t serve? Whose social needs are getting met, and whose are not getting met, as a consequence of having open-ended global war be this national priority?

It seems to me that were we to accurately gauge the actually existing threat—and there is a threat. I mean, 9/11 happened. There are people out there who want to kill us. But were we to actually gauge that threat in a realistic way, we would see that open-ended global war is not only unnecessary, but it’s probably counterproductive, that there are better ways to go about keeping us secure than to engage in global war.

AMY GOODMAN: And I want to talk about those ways after break. We’re talking to Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel, spent twenty-three years in the US Army, now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He’s just written the book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Professor Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel who spent twenty-three years in the US Army, now a professor at Boston University. And his latest book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

Could you talk about the cost of war and how the militarists learned from your war, from Vietnam, how we are insulated from the true cost?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Yeah, this is not something people intended to happen, but it’s an unintended consequence that we today really need to intend to. This is the way I would tell the story. President Nixon ends the draft and creates the so-called all-volunteer force, which really is a professional army. When Nixon ends the draft, he doesn’t do it because he thinks having a professional army would be in the nation’s interest. What Nixon is trying to do is to basically cut the antiwar movement off at the knees, and his calculation was that by ending the draft, kids would get out of the streets and go back to class. And to some degree, he actually was right. It’s worth remembering that the JCS at the time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were opposed to ending the draft, because they felt that they could never find enough volunteers to fill the force.

By the time we get into the 1980s, those JCS concerns have been proven incorrect, and we do end up with, I think, a magnificent professional army. In terms of what you want an army to be like and to do, they are competent, they are disciplined, they know their business. Alas, after the end of the Cold War, we have a political elite—and again, I would emphasize both parties—who decide that, gosh, with this great army we have, shouldn’t we go find some use for it? And the post-Cold War period, beginning with the elder Bush, sees this pattern of interventionism—you know, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, on and on and on—mostly small conflicts, mostly brief conflicts, conflicts in which we, the people, sit on the sidelines and mostly applaud, and the all-volunteer force seems like the most successful federal program of the recent decades. Until you get to Iraq, because Iraq turns out to be not a short war, not a clean war, protracted, ugly, rightfully, I think, controversial and unpopular.

But what we have found is that we, the people, have so distanced ourselves from the professional army that unless you have a family member serving in uniform—and most people don’t—you don’t know where this military is, you don’t know what it’s like, and you really don’t have much say in the way it’s used.

President Bush exploits that after 9/11. He decides he knows how it wants to be used. And, of course, for the first time in our history, when we go to war, instead of a president turning to the Congress and turning to the country and say, “We’re going to have to change the way we do business, because we’re at war,” President Bush actually says, “Go to Disney World. Go shopping. Go back to doing what you have been doing for the last ten years, and I’ll take care of everything.” And I have to say, the great majority of the American people—I don’t think listeners of your show or of yours or your show—but the great majority of the American people basically did what Bush said and in tuned the war out and allowed the burden to fall on a very small percentage of the population, which I find, frankly, morally objectionable.

AMY GOODMAN: Who benefits, Andrew Bacevich?

ANDREW BACEVICH: From the war? There are obviously corporations, contractors who benefit, and I would not—never want to dismiss that, but I don’t really think that that provides us an adequate explanation of how we got into this fix. I think who really benefits or what benefits is the political status quo. The national security state, the apparatus of the national security state benefits. It’s gotten larger since 9/11, immensely larger. The tacit bargain between our political leaders and the American people, which basically assumes that our culture of consumption, our refusal to save, our addiction to oil, as President Bush himself described it, that all of these things can be sustained indefinitely, if we can simply employ our military power in ways to shape the world to our liking.

Now, of course, what we found over the past five, six years is, our military power is really not nearly as great as many people imagined it to be back in the 1990s, and war has not become an effective instrument of politics, as many people imagined back in the 1990s.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about massive amounts of money that go into the military, and yet it can be stopped by an IED.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it’s an interesting thing. I mean, the military’s self-image, or the image of the military that many national security experts had developed during the 1990s, was that because our military was so adept at exploiting information technology, that in every respect we were faster than any prospective opponent: we could think faster, we could decide faster, we could see faster, we could use our weapons faster.

One of the great ironies, I think, of the Iraq war is that our adversary, who in a technological sense, we would say, has been fairly primitive, our adversary has actually acted much more quickly than we have. In the competition between the improvised explosive devices as a major weapons system that they have used and our efforts to defeat that system, they have repeatedly acted more quickly than we have. And there’s an important lesson there, I think. And the lesson is, technology is not all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to military affairs.

AMY GOODMAN: The first meeting of Barack Obama and McCain was with an evangelical reverend, Rick Warren, in California, and they talked about evil and good, and they talked. And McCain said he will go to the gates of Hell and back to get Osama bin Laden. Your thoughts?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’m a conservative, and this is another one of those things that leads me to believe that not only is President Bush not a conservative, but Senator McCain is not, either.

Of course there is evil in the world and there is good in the world, but guess what? Some of the evil is right here. I mean, to view international politics through this lens of good and evil leads you to vastly oversimplify and I think also leads you to make reckless decisions. Bush’s—I do believe President Bush genuinely—not cynically, genuinely—saw Saddam Hussein as evil, and I think he actually genuinely believes that—again, consistent with this notion of American exceptionalism—that we were called upon to bring democracy to Iraq. But what a ludicrous way to view US-Iraqi relations over the past twenty or thirty years, because if you really look at US-Iraqi relations or US policy in the Middle East over the last twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty years, it’s impossible to see the question as simply one of good versus evil. It’s not black and white; it’s grey. And you need to see the world as grey if you’re going to be a sensible statesman.

AMY GOODMAN: Where do you see all this heading? Your last chapter is “The Limits of Power.” Why don’t people on the ground, overwhelmingly opposed to the war, have a say now?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think we have. Again, I don’t mean to make this as a statement that applies to 100 percent of the American people, but I think the great majority of us basically have allowed ourselves to become seduced by this culture of consumption, of not taking seriously the notion that someday the bills come due, that you can’t simply run up a line of credit that stretches from here to infinity. We don’t want to look ourselves in the mirror. We don’t want to recognize the need to make some changes in the way we live.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see the end of American empire?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Yes, I do. And I think the key question is, will the American empire end catastrophically because of our blind insistence that we will not change? Or will we be able to disengage ourselves from and dismantle the American empire in a sensible, reasonable way that will do the least damage to the world and the least damage to ourselves?

AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Bacevich, I want to thank you very much for being with us. His book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.


Our Drum Circle

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

EUROPEAN MEETING IN DEFENSE AND IN STRUGGLE WITH THE ZAPATISTAS

http://deletetheborder.org/node/2423 description: https://balkans.puscii.nl/?q=node/61 EUROPEAN MEETING IN DEFENSE AND IN STRUGGLE WITH THE ZAPATISTAS ATHENS, 9-10-11 MAY 2008 Companer@s, Fourteen years after the public appearance of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN), fourteen years after the process of recuperating land and territory with blood and fire in favor of the indigenous peoples, zapatista or not, fourteen years after the Fire and the Word, the zapatista peoples are faced with a new attack from the Mexican state: �legal� takeovers of land, forced displacements, threats of displacement, reactivation of paramilitary groups, attacks against the integrity of zapatista families, damages to their possessions, political prisoners and hostages, manufactured offences, are, amongst others, some of the distinct facts which the zapatista peoples are faced with once again. The escalating level of the attacks obliged the EZLN�s Sixth Commission to suspend the tour that had been prepared for last October to pass through the central and south part of the country in the framework of the Other Campaign. This led various organizations in Mexico and in the world to react against the escalation of repression against the zapatista peoples. Fire and Word means 12 days of fire and 14 years of honoring the word. If there is an indigenous movement that has proven in practice one and the Other, are the zapatista peoples and the EZLN. Through meetings with the national and international civil society, using dialogue, to build with everyone a country and a world that are different, where a lot of worlds can fit (respecting difference), where democracy, freedom and justice will be a reality for all. ...

Paraguay’s Persian Presence: Iran’s New Friend in Latin America

Paraguay’s poor were graced with the electoral victory of a former Catholic bishop, Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez, in the April 20th presidential election. On August 15, Lugo was inaugurated as president of Paraguay which commenced the country’s first left-leaning presidency in over 70 years. Fellow leftist Latin American leaders applauded his triumph over the conservative Colorado Party’s 61-year hold on the nation and anticipate a new reformist Paraguay arising from the Lugo presidency. His ideology and politics foreshadow a Paraguay independent from Washington’s influence.

Lugo’s established fame and the prospect of broad changes in Paraguay are breaching the boundaries of Latin America to become an issue of worldwide interest. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the first to congratulate Lugo on his victory. Iran’s media praised Lugo by calling him “a man of God and an enemy of the Great Satan.” Ahmadinejad hopes to balance America’s presence in the Middle East by creating his own allies in the Western Hemisphere, and Lugo’s victorious presidential campaign gives Ahmadinejad another friend in what Washington has traditionally considered its traditional backyard. The large Muslim population in Paraguay’s tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet) aided Lugo’s campaign for presidency through fund-raising drives that have been supported by Iran and Venezuela.

It did not take long, however, for the former bishop to encounter political setbacks. On July 10, Lugo encountered problems with his hand-picked team of administrators when Milda Rivarola withdrew from her position as future foreign minister. Lugo offered the vacancy to Paraguay’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alejandro Hamed Franco, of Middle Eastern background, and by July 23 he was confirmed in his new post. His appointment was sure to create tensions with the State Department due to his sympathies with anti-U.S. developments in the Middle East and his acknowledged connections with U.S.-banned groups, in addition, he was accused of awarding Paraguayan passports to Lebanese citizens, although he claims this was only for those who were trying to escape Israeli attacks in 2007. The U.S. had advised Lugo against awarding Hamed the post of foreign minister and reminded the incoming president that, as a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah – considered terrorist organizations by the U.S.—the new foreign minister will be denied a U.S. visa and will not be allowed to fly on U.S. airlines.

Iran’s growing presence in Latin America Washington’s presence in the Middle East and its continuous attempts to isolate Iran in the international arena have galvanized President Ahmadinejad’s “aggressive foreign policy.” Since Ahmadinejad’s inauguration in 2005, Iran’s foreign policy focus has shifted from Africa to Latin America in order to, as Ahmadinejad puts it, “counter lasso” the U.S.

Economic dividends are attracting an ever-growing Iranian presence in Latin America. OPEC has been one vehicle for Iranian/Latin American cooperation. Initiated by Venezuela in 1960, this global cartel now has two Latin American member states, after Ecuador rejoined last year. With both Brazil and Bolivia now prospective new members of OPEC, Iran expects to do more crude business with several Latin American clients.

Iran’s economic ties with several Latin American countries (namely Venezuela, Brazil, and Cuba) have developed far beyond oil. Venezuela and Iran are now gingerly engaged in an ambitious joint project, putting on-line Veniran, a production plant that assembles 5,000 tractors a year, and plans to start producing two Iranian designed automobiles to provide regional consumers with the “first anti-imperialist cars.” Iran continues to welcome Brazilian products, with the value of Brazil’s exports to Iran reaching over $1.5 billion in 2007. As of January 2008, Quito has had a functioning Iranian trade office which hopes to strengthen Tehran’s commerce with Ecuador.

Although bilateral economic ties are being pursued in order to add flesh to the Iranian-Latin American relationship, the backbone to the partnership is political: both share a professed hostility towards American imperialism. This harmonic duet of anti-American tunes played by Iran and Latin America’s “pink tide” musicians has become Washington’s “axis of annoyance.”

Since Ahmadinejad’s ascendency to power, he has made three diplomatic tours to Latin America. He visited Venezuela in July of 2006; Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador in January of 2007; and Venezuela and Bolivia in September of 2007. Ahmadinejad also had hosted President Chávez of Venezuela and President Ortega of Nicaragua in Iran. Nicaragua received a $231million loan from Iran in 2007 to build a hydroelectric dam. In August of 2008, Nicaraguan-Iranian relations were further consolidated when Ahmadinejad donated $2 million for the construction of a hospital. Venezuela and Brazil have publically announced their support for Iran’s nuclear energy program. President Lula of Brazil has been quoted as saying, “[Iran] should not be punished just because of Western suspicions [that] it wants to make an atomic bomb.”

Given Washington’s efforts to sully Iran’s reputation, the latter’s “aggressive foreign policy” should come as no surprise. Ahmadinejad now desires to counter Washington’s efforts to isolate Iran through his integrating movements in Latin America. Predictably, this has caused tension in the U.S. Norman Bailey, of the Institute of World Politics, recently testified to the Western Hemisphere Committee in the House of Representatives that Venezuela is a “clear and immediate” threat to U.S. national security, “especially if it increases its ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Washington’s fears may be exaggerated, but there does appear to be some Islamic terrorist activity involving Iran that is fermenting in South America, especially in the tri-border area.

Terrorist action in the tri-border area The tri-border area is rife with charges of illicit activity. The three cities said to act as bases of operations for this are Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, and Iguazu in Argentina. The area’s porous borders, thriving black market, money laundering and drug trafficking have given the region a sense of lawlessness. According to a Brazilian newsweekly, Veja, Osama bin Laden visited the region in 1995. Evidence now seems to verify the establishment of terrorist cells, the most prominent of which is the Iranian-supported Hezbollah. There are also cases of Al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad), Al-Muqawamah, and even Al-Qaeda cells. Brazilian and Paraguayan anti-terrorist patrols have secured some evidence of an Arab extremist training camp located right outside Foz do Iguaçu. After September 11, 2001, the tri-border area was subjected to a series of investigations and raids, yielding 20 terrorist suspects.

Although only a minority of the Arabs and Muslims in the tri-border area are said to support Hezbollah, they are purportedly proud of their affiliation with fund raising for their Middle Eastern counterparts. The U.S. estimates that more than $6 billion is laundered annually in Ciudad del Este alone, a figure equivalent to nearly 50 percent of Paraguay’s gross domestic product. Following September 11, Paraguayan police apprehended two alleged terrorists working in Ciudad del Este who had sent $50,000 a month to Hezbollah.

The Argentine Gambol Argentine officials also have presented evidence linking terrorist acts to pro-Iranian groups in the tri-border region. The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed on March 17, 1992, killing 22 people. Years later, an Argentine court concluded that the attack was orchestrated by Islamic Jihad, a branch of Hezbollah, and that the attack was orchestrated from the tri-border area. Buenos Aires’ Jewish community was hit again on July 18, 1994 when its social center, the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AIMA), was bombed, resulting in 85 casualties. On November 28, 2000, Salah Abdul Karim Yassine, a supporter of Hamas and an expert in explosives, was arrested for his alleged connection with a conspiracy to strike U.S. and Israeli embassies in Assunción, Paraguay. Yassine entered Paraguay illegally with false documents and found a haven in the tri-border area’s Ciudad del Este. This notorious region was quartered in red tape after each one of these terrorist attacks.

Will the new Lugo administration, especially with a foreign minister allegedly sympathetic to Hezbollah and other extremist Middle Eastern factions, allow terrorist cells more room to operate in Paraguay? Will Washington find another battle front against terrorism in South America?

Paraguay joins the “axis of annoyance”? Prospective Foreign Minister Hamed has publicly announced that he plans to strengthen ties with the Middle East. However, in seeming contradiction to Hamed’s anti-American and anti-Israeli stand, he aims to open a Paraguayan embassy in Tel Aviv. Currently no significant trade exists between Iran and Paraguay. Paraguay’s terrain, unspotted by oil pumps, does not produce petroleum and must import 25,940 barrels of oil a day. Ahmadinejad could easily use Iran’s oil as a bargaining tool with the Lugo administration. Indeed Iranian oil could very well fuel Latin America’s drive to the left. With President Lugo receiving Iranian blessings, his new foreign minister avowedly connected to pro-Iranian, banned parties, along with a substantially active Muslim population, one can only expect Paraguay will become for Ahmadinejad a new political attractant.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Braden Webb

Historic house unveiled as location for Tim Burton's Alice film

HISTORIC Antony House has been chosen as one of the filming locations for a blockbuster movie by Disney. The Herald has learned the National Trust property, near Torpoint, will be closed to the public from September 1 until October 14 to allow filming to take place. Filming on the Tim Burton-directed movie, Alice in Wonderland, will be staged over two weeks in September. The 18th century house, its garden and the Woodland Garden, are likely to be used for filming. The news came as film fever began sweeping Plymouth again with extras being told if they have been successful in landing a part in the movie. Male hopefuls who auditioned for the blockbuster were being told today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) by text message. Female hopefuls will be told at a later date. Up to 250 city extras are expected to be chosen for the big screen adaptation of the classic tale, which is heavily rumoured to star heart-throb Johnny Depp will star as the Mad Hatter. Rebecca Miller, National Trust house and visitor services manager for Antony said: "We are absolutely over the moon that Antony has been chosen as a location for Tim Burton's new film Alice in Wonderland. "One of the reasons it was chosen was because it's a hidden gem – it's one of the Trust's lesser known properties and they felt this fitted in very well with the feel of the film." Antony is an early 18th century mansion set in parkland and fine gardens. The house has been and continues to be the home of the Carew Pole family for 600 years. Harvey Edgington, the National Trust's broadcast media liaison officer added: "The National Trust happily provides locations when possible, to a variety of films, TV dramas, documentaries and commercials. "Clearly there is a direct financial benefit to the Trust, a charity where four out of five properties run at a loss every year due to conservation demands. "Alice in Wonderland will not only help raise funds for the ongoing conservation work needed at Antony, but will also contribute to the local economy by having the crew on location." One of the successful audition applicants was Laurence Clements from Lydford. The 23-year-old said he found out he had been successful in becoming one of the film's extras earlier this afternoon (Thursday). "I was told via text message," he said. "The message just said congratulations, you have been successful in becoming an extra in a Disney movie, and then asked me to phone a telephone number. "It's exciting really. I didn't know whether I would hear back at all. The longer it goes on the less you believe it will happen." A spokesman for the casting agents, Mad Dog Casting Ltd, said the other filming locations were being kept "top secret". "The extras will not be told where they are filming until the night before the shoot," the spokesman added. A whopping 3,000 Plymothians queued up for the auditions outside the New Continental Hotel in the city centre earlier this month. Three dogs were also cast to appear in the movie. The film, which is due for release in 2010, will be shown in 3-D, and has all the hallmarks of a massive box office hit. Director Burton has already made his name on hit films, including Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands, which also starred A-lister Depp. Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska will play the part of Alice. tnichols@theplymouthherald.co.uk

Art by Michael Parkes

[Thanks to Kat In Manhattan for the art leads]

NICARAGUA: US Fourth Fleet Treads Fine Line

By José Adán Silva
BILWI, Nicaragua, Aug 20 (IPS) - The newly reactivated U.S. Fourth Fleet began its operations in Latin American waters with a humanitarian mission that made its first stop in Nicaragua, before heading on to six other countries of the Caribbean and Central and South America. The USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship of the Fourth Fleet of the U.S. Southern Command, anchored off Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast in the Caribbean Sea on Aug. 11, carrying 1,600 people, including U.S. military personnel and public health workers as well as humanitarian workers from several countries. The ship will remain in Nicaraguan waters until Aug. 25. According to Commodore Frank Ponds, the head of the Continuing Promise 2008 humanitarian mission, the Navy ship is providing medical and dental services, as well as assistance in the reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Felix in September 2007. The ship is equipped to launch three kinds of missiles, support amphibious assault operations from ship to shore, transfer special forces, and evacuate troops and civilians. It also carries modern hospital facilities as well as fighter planes and helicopters, heavy vehicles, trucks and amphibious vehicles. Christened in 1992, the warship has carried out missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. It also took part in humanitarian operations in Turkey and in the U.S. war on Iraq. The day it anchored three miles off the coast of Puerto Cabezas, the provincial capital of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said the ship "belongs to the Fourth Fleet. The doctors, nurses, paramedics and specialists who have come in that ship have not come with the intention of carrying out intelligence work. "They have come with the intention of providing humanitarian services, but for that there is a division of labour, and a ship like that is in a position to bring specialists who are engaged in intelligence work, while the others do their humanitarian work," the president said in a Nicaraguan navy installation. "We welcome the humanitarian work, but of course we cannot welcome the intelligence work," he said. Along with the marines and naval personnel on the ship are travelling members of the U.S. Public Health Service and non-governmental organisations like Project HOPE and Operation Smile, and volunteers from France, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada. At a press conference given by Ponds, foreign journalists questioned the use of a warship to carry out humanitarian actions in countries like Nicaragua, which in the 1980s suffered a civil war that was financed and fomented by Washington. Ponds responded that he did not get involved in such questions, saying "I’m talking about medical and dental care, infrastructure, schools and buildings that will be rebuilt and restored; that’s what I’m talking about." But this kind of large-scale operation is blurring the line between military missions and civilian humanitarian missions. There are organisations that refuse to work with the armed forces, despite their high level of organisation and capacity, journalists pointed out. "How do you tread the fine line between military and humanitarian missions? How can you think about showing up in Nicaragua in that big boxy grey ship without scaring people?" IPS asked. "The victims of the (2004) tsunami didn’t care if our ship was grey or blue," said Ponds. "What they cared about was that we were bringing humanitarian aid to a disaster area." The U.S. Embassy in Managua reported that the Continuing Promise 2008 mission will last four months, taking the ship to Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the Dominican Republic. So far, the on-board personnel have seen 2,500 patients and performed some 100 surgical operations among the Betania, Tuapi, Yulu and Bilwi indigenous communities in Nicaragua, which were hit hard by Hurricane Felix. The reconstruction work will include bridges and public buildings as well as the installation of sewage and water networks and pumps for wells. In addition, donations of medical and sports equipment will be distributed. "What I see is a big humanitarian mission; I don't see anyone sticking their noses in anything, only people helping the needy," Puerto Cabezas Mayor Elizabeth Enríquez, who officially received the USS Kearsarge delegation, told IPS. RAAN Governor Reynaldo Francis said the ship came to his region thanks to local efforts to obtain international aid. "Through our efforts, today we are enjoying the presence of this humanitarian aid team, and we hope they will keep coming, and that more will come," he said. On Aug. 16, Ortega expressed a view that differed slightly from his original reaction. "There is a warship in Bilwi, but with medical aid. The ships from the U.S. are coming to help the people, and we have to sincerely express our gratitude," said the leftist leader. A source at the U.S. Embassy told IPS that an invitation to the president to visit the USS Kearsarge has not yet received a response. IPS was unable to obtain comments from the Nicaraguan government. "We have invited him to similar events and he has not come, although he has sent members of his government," said the diplomat, referring to the USS Comfort hospital ship, which last year stopped in the same area, where it provided assistance to more than 5,000 people in the wake of Hurricane Felix. Indigenous leader Osorno Coleman, candidate for mayor of the rightwing opposition Constitutionalist Liberal Party, said "Ortega has not been taught what to do when the enemy holds out his hand. "He has many bad things to say about the United States and continuously criticises it, but this time he didn't know what to do when his enemy extended its hand. And now a grateful Ortega suddenly shows up, expressing a welcome message," said Coleman. The Fourth Fleet was created by the United States in 1943, during World War II, to patrol the South Atlantic, but was disbanded in 1950. The decision announced in late April to re-establish the fleet under the Florida-based Southern Command came as a surprise for Latin America, and triggered controversy about the reactivation of the U.S. navy patrol mission for the region. According to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon, the fleet was re-established to respond to natural disasters, carry out humanitarian operations, provide medical assistance, fight drug trafficking and cooperate in the areas of the environment and technology. On a visit to Argentina in July, Shannon said the fleet does not have an "offensive capability," and has no aircraft carrier or large warship, while the largest vessel is a hospital ship. Countries like Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have expressed irritation at the decision to dispatch the fleet to this region, and have stated that the Fourth Fleet will not be allowed to enter their territorial waters.

The omitted agenda Here’s what the Democrats won’t be talking about in Denver

By Seth Sandronsky As the Democratic National Party gathers to coronate Barack Obama at the convention in Denver, it’s worth taking a look at the state of the nation and the world since the party assumed control of Congress after the 2006 election. As the United States slides inexorably toward what even mainstream economists are calling the worst economic downturn in decades, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have sanctioned bailing out Wall Street financiers to the tune of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. While top execs keep their multimillion-dollar salaries, millions of homeowners facing mortgage foreclosures get a few crumbs from Washington. The U.S. military remains bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, along with more than 4,000 American troops. Yet Democrats and Republicans enthusiastically support attacking Iran, a country that bears no threat to the United States. Anything resembling a national single-payer health plan is out of the question. Energy policy—other than ensuring Big Oil maintains its string of record-breaking quarterly profits—is nonexistent. The list goes on. Some might call these “progressive issues,” but in fact, they’re issues that affect most if not all of us. Nevertheless, don’t expect to be hearing about these or any other so-called progressive issues in Denver. In fact, the Democrats have cordoned off any sort of progressive dissent in a so-called “protest zone,” blocks away from the Pepsi Center. “There is no progressive agenda in the Democratic Party platform,” perennial progressive presidential candidate Ralph Nader told SN&R. “With a Democratic-controlled Congress since 2006, there has been no rollback of the Bush-GOP agenda to continue the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Nader and a slew of the nation’s most prominent political progressives were in Sacramento earlier this month, attending the Peace and Freedom Party’s state convention. Nader won the party’s nomination and will be on the ballot this fall. SN&R took advantage of the opportunity to engage Nader and his fellow progressives, most of whom were profoundly skeptical of the upcoming Obamathon in Denver. “Corporate donors matter to the party, which serves as a decoy for the voters,” Nader explained. “So we get the American people saying no to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, but the Democrats continuing to approve funding for military operations in both nations. The people say yes to single-payer health care, but the insurance industry says no.” What are the prospects for progressive politics to fix what ails America if Barack Obama wins the White House and his Democratic Party keeps control of Congress? Don’t hold your breath. “Very little of the issues we in the Peace and Freedom Party raise, such as ending U.S. war funding, are covered by the Democratic Party,” said Gloria La Riva, the Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate, who finished second to Nader. “It caters to the rich, who are getting richer. This trend points to the need for an independent progressive campaign to meet the political needs of the population around dinner-table issues of economic security, as inequality and poverty are rising.” La Riva, a social activist and labor organizer based in San Francisco, ran as a Peace and Freedom candidate for governor of California in 1994 and 1998. She backs passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to join labor unions. The multipronged crises of rising food and fuel prices and home foreclosures have created an opening for fundamental social change. Socialist Party USA candidate Brian Moore, a Peace Corps veteran and labor organizer who attended Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, is encouraged by the number of younger voters actively participating in this election. “There is a whole new generation of U.S. citizens who are open to radical ideas as solutions to social problems,” he said. “For them, there is no Red Scare factor.” Peter Camejo, Nader’s running mate in 2004, agreed the current economic crisis is creating an opening for a more progressive politics. But first, the Peace and Freedom Party needs to learn to speak to the masses—a task for which Nader is well-prepared. “The capitalist class wants anybody but Nader due to his track record of education and reaching out to the public, especially youth,” Camejo said. The Democratic Party’s refusal to address progressive issues has driven more than a few members from the party. Linda Roberts is a state delegate with the Peace and Freedom Party and a recovering Democrat. She has campaigned for former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley and the late California Sen. Alan Cranston. Roberts is now running for a seat in the 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has no plans to protest the omitted agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. “I think that it is shameful that the party allowed a designated protest zone there [behind a fence and away from the party delegates],” she said. Dina Padilla of Citrus Heights is the Peace and Freedom candidate for the 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Reared in a Polish-American neighborhood in Chicago, she was a member of the Democratic Party until 2006. “Our health-care system has been a disaster for a very long time,” she said. “I find it odd that the Democratic Party is not offering a stance on a single-payer health-care plan and is instead accepting the current model of HMOs and private insurers using the business incentive of profit to decide what care we get and how to spend federal tax money on our health.” Sacramento resident Karen Bernal is a member of the city’s Wellstone Democratic Club and an officer-at-large for the progressive caucus of the California state Democratic Party. In her view, many progressives are angry with the Democrats’ “abysmal failure” since the 2006 midterm elections to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Bush administration’s attack on civil liberties at home. Protesting in Denver and electing Obama to the White House are not “mutually exclusive,” said Bernal, who will not be at the DNC. “We have to champion expression of free speech.” Although many of Sacramento’s more prominent progressives attended the convention, no one told the SN&R they were planning to join demonstrators in Denver. As it stands now, progressive issues remain off the convention’s menu. The only party advocating immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, a single-payer health system and economic fairness—values supported by Americans in countless opinion polls—is the Peace and Freedom Party. The Peace and Freedom Party and Nader’s Raiders, comprised mainly of young people, have more than progressive politics in common. Both organizations celebrated their 40th birthdays in 2008. “We need to focus on raising the public’s expectation levels, attract youth and ending militarism in all of its forms,” Nader said in his acceptance speech. Nader chose former Green Party president and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Matt Gonzalez to be his running mate. The tireless campaigner and consumer advocate says progressive Californians seeking to jump-start the political process can start by voting for the duo on the fall ballot to put “a scare into the two parties. Denying voters to them is the only thing the Democrats and Republicans understand.” Although Nader has polled as high as 6 percent in some national surveys, his former running mate Camejo concedes that Barack Obama will probably beat John McCain to become the next president of the United States. Not that it will make that much difference. There will be a “honeymoon period,” Camejo said, then “a state of shock due to the realization that zero has changed.” We’re always on the lookout for valuable news tips. If you think you have something we might be interested in, don’t hesitate to call (916) 498-1234 ext. 1358 or e-mail sactonewstips@newsreview.com .

Ralph Nader has celebrity backers too -- like Sean Penn and Val Kilmer

... Val Kilmer and Sean Penn will be the biggest personalities at the "Open the Debates" rally, which Nader is hosting at the University of Denver Magness Arena with his running mate, Matt Gonzales. Musicians Nellie McKay, Ike Reilly, Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) and Jello Biafra (of the Dead Kennedys) will also appear. ... [This is cliped from an LA Times article...since I cannot figure out how to comment on this dumbass's slanted story - -- Kate Linthicum-- I will comment here and mention how this alleged journalist used words like 'habitual presidential candidate (and Barack Obama trash talker)' to describe Ralph Nader. As well as labeling Sean Penn, Val Kilmer and Nellie McKay, Ike Reilly, Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) and Jello Biafra, as B-List compared to Obama's celeb following... Kate Linthicum YOU ARE A FOOL!]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Banking on Congress by Ralph Nader

by Ralph Nader Aug 20, 2008

This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) officials are pushing various agencies charged with regulating banks, such as the Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision to more aggressively give problem banks lower ratings than they may now be receiving from regulators. Regulators give banks a rank between 1 and 5. Well-managed banks get a 1, problem banks receive a 4 or 5. The FDIC wants to see more banks getting 4s or 5s.

In late July, I wrote to U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. to suggest that they jointly hold hearings on the FDIC’s ability to deal with potential bank failures in the next several years. In the letter, I noted that in a March 10, 2008 memorandum on insurance assessment rates, Arthur J. Murton, Director of the Division of Insurance and Research for the FDIC stated:

While 99 percent of insured institutions meet the “well capitalized” criteria, the possibility remains that the fund could suffer insurance losses that are significantly higher than anticipated. The U.S. economy and the banking sector currently face a significant amount of uncertainty from ongoing housing sector problems, financial market turbulence and potentially weak prospects for consumer spending. These problems could lead to significantly higher loan losses and weaker earnings for insured institutions.

FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair, however, has been singing a more upbeat tune. She recently said, “The banking system in this country remains on a solid footing through the guarantees provided by FDIC insurance. The overwhelming majority of banks in this country are safe and sound and the chances that your own bank could fail are remote. However, if that does happen, the FDIC will be there - as always - to protect your insured deposits.”

Despite these reassuring words, the recent failure of IndyMac highlights the need for tough Congressional oversight. Banking experts have indicated that the cost of the collapse of IndyMac alone will be between $4 billion and $8 billion. The FDIC has approximately $53 billion on hand to deal with bank failures. This amount may not be adequate, given the cost of IndyMac and given the approximately $4 trillion in deposits the FDIC insures.

Congressional oversight of the financial services industry and its regulators should be a topic priority for Congress. I even suggested several questions that should be put to FDIC officials such as:

1. Was IndyMac on the list of “Problem Institutions” before it failed?

2. Were the other banks that failed this year on the FDIC list of “Problem Institutions”?

3. What is the anticipated cost of dealing with the failures of the other four banks that failed this year?

4. As of March 31, 2008 the FDIC reported 90 “Problem Institutions” with assets of $26 billion. What is the current number of “Problem Institutions” and what are the assets of these “Problem Institutions”?

5. How many banks are likely to fail in 2008 and 2009 respectively?

6. What is the estimated range of costs of dealing with the projected failures?

7. What will the effect of higher losses than those projected be on the FDIC’s estimate of the proper reserve ratio?

8. What are the FDIC’s projections for reserves needed and potential bank failures beyond 2009?

9. Is the FDIC resisting raising the current rates of assessments on FDIC insured banks so that the cost of any significant bailouts will have to be shifted to the taxpayers?

10. Does the Government Accountability Office (GAO) believe that the existing rate schedule for banks to pay into the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) is set at the proper level?

It would also make sense for Congress to revisit the FDIC’s current approach to setting reserve ratios for banks.

The FDIC is not likely to address its own inability to clearly assess the current risks posed to depositors and taxpayers by the high-rolling, bailout-prone banking industry.

When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day it would be prudent for Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank to focus on the FDIC and our nation’s troubled banks through some tough no-holds-barred hearings. These two lawmakers are going to have to hear from the people back home soon.

Neither Senator Dodd nor Congressman Frank have responded to my letter of July 23, 2008.

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Gloria La Riva to Speak About Latin American Revolutionary Movements 9/7, 7 p.m.

Gloria La Riva to Speak on U.S. Intervention and Revolutionary Movements in Latin America on September 7, 7 p.m.
by Dan Bacher Gloria La Riva, union activist and presidential candidate, will discuss U.S. Intervention and Revolutionary Movements in Latin America on September 7, 7pm at 909 12th St. in Sacramento. She has visited Venezuela several times to report on the revolutionary process there, including meeting with Hugo Chavez. In July, she traveled to Bolivia with Ramsey Clark and Cynthia McKinney for a conference in solidarity with the presidency of Evo Morales, whom she met with while there. She has also travel extensively to and written about Cuba for many years. La Riva has also been the director of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and president of the typographical sector of the Northern California Media Workers Union.[ She also translated Fidel Castro's book, Cuba at the Crossroads (1997), and produced the documentary videos NATO Targets, Workers' Democracy in Cuba (1996), Genocide by Sanctions: The case of Iraq (1998) and Let Iraq Live! This promises to be a timely, fascinating talk about the dramatic political, social, economic and social changes that are taking place in Latin America. For more information, contact 916-448-7157, sacpeace [at] dcn.org, or http://www.sacpeace.org

Letter: Small voice, big impact, by Gregory Kafoury

The editorial on Ralph Nader was as thoughtless as it was shallow ("Vanity, thy name is Ralph Nader," The Daily Astorian, March 3). Historically, the great progressive advances in our politics have originated with third parties and independent candidacies. The abolition of slavery, the trade union movement, women's suffrage, Social Security - all these and more were promoted by small parties whose core ideas were eventually adopted by one of the main parties. Since major parties are inherently conservative, small parties serve the purpose of generating new ideas. The suppression of independent candidacies and small parties is nothing less than the suppression of new ideas. This is true whether it is accomplished by stacking conventions, harassing petition gatherers or filing bogus lawsuits - as we saw with the Democratic party here in Oregon in 2004 - or whether it is done by scorn and ridicule, as in the March 3 editorial. By the way, this nonsense about Nader being ego-driven originated with a squad of Gloria Steinem-types who were sent by Al Gore in 2000 to suppress the Nader vote. Unable to take him on on the issues, they all parroted the same line, that Nader was all about ego. If you read Nader's book about the 2000 election, you will notice that unlike virtually every other political memoir, the author almost never talks about himself. He talks about events, issues and the struggle of people to gather themselves together to take control of their own fate. Why is it so difficult for the editor to accept that Nader runs so that he can discuss such issues as single-payer health care, major reductions in the defense budget, a Marshall Plan for the cities, ending the drug war and the resistance to corporate domination? If any person in America has earned the right to be taken seriously, and to be debated on their own terms, surely it is Ralph Nader.

OPEN The myspace Debates!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Title: Open the Debates - MySpace - Commission of Pres De
START DATE: 8/27/2008
START TIME: 11:30 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Location: west los angeles, beaches
Location Details:
407 N. Maple Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (meet up at 11 AM - Beverly Blvd. & Civic Center Dr.)
Event Topic: election
Event Type: demonstration
Contact Name: Lynda Hernandez
Contact Email: redwoodsforever@verizon.net
Contact Phone: 714/803-9676
DESCRIPTION:
download PDF (54.9 kibibytes) Open up the presidential debates - Let Ralph Debate! to coincide with the Democratic Convention in Denver and Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Super Rally! MySpace and Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) have partnered up to host a virtual debate on MySpace but you won’t see all the candidates or hear all the issues Join with local Nader/Gonzalez supporters to Open up the Debates! Bring signs! MySpace headquarters - Beverly Hills Weds., Aug. 27th 11:30 AM - 1 PM 407 N. Maple Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 Meet up at 11 AM - Beverly Blvd. & Civic Center Dr. - Stop political censorship and bigotry! Open up the corporate dominated electoral system! Peace & Freedom, Greens, Libertarians - Independents - Please Join us! Did you know? • MySpace removes user comments and pages which support independent candidates like Ralph Nader and others. • MySpace has teamed up with the Commission on Presidential Debates, to promote the CPD debates to the exclusion of political competition and free debate of ideas. • The CPD is owned by the Democratic and Republican parties, and excludes all competing political views. The CPD refuses to allow debates among any third party or independent candidates. The CPD has had a stranglehold on our most democratic process - the presidential debates - since 1988, and is supported by corporate interests. Why is democracy for sale? • MySpace is owned by News Corp, i.e. Rupert Murdoch, i.e. FOX “NEWS”. Get involved locally - pass on to others who are concerned about opening up the debates and a more democratic electoral process News Update: The Google Presidential Debate originally scheduled for Sept. 18th in New Orleans may be canceled - Obama refuses to participate The Nader/Gonzalez 2008 campaign will be on the CA ballot - check out Ralph Nader’s acceptance speech at the Peace & Freedom Convention Aug. 2nd (rate and pass on!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdnWNHG4uUE Thanks for Supporting Nader/Gonzalez 2008!

Video blogger Josh Wolf now a real journalist

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(08-19) 18:27 PDT -- After Josh Wolf took a job as a general assignment reporter at the Palo Alto Daily Post last month, he had some choice words for critics who've questioned his claim of being a journalist.

"If the haters who said I wasn't a real journalist, are still lurking," Wolf wrote on his blog, "I hope you don't have too much indigestion after eating your words.' "

Wolf, 26, is the San Francisco video blogger who in 2006 began a 226-day stint in federal prison for contempt after refusing to testify before a grand jury and hand over a videotape of a protest against a G-8 summit he filmed in the Mission District in which a police officer was injured.

At the time, Wolf was harshly criticized by some mainstream journalists who suspected that the self-described "anarchist and activist" was a participant rather than an impartial news gatherer. In a court filing, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan dismissed Wolf as someone who needed "to come to grips with the fact that he was simply a person with a video camera who happened to record some public events."

The case helped fuel the debate over the definition of what constitutes journalism - in an age of blog posts and video uploads by noncredentialed amateurs - and who is entitled to press protections, specifically journalists' ability to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished material. For now, Wolf said the debate concerning his professional status can be put to rest.

"I felt like it was an irrelevant argument before," Wolf said. "But it feels like it's much harder for them to make their point now that it's how I earn my paycheck."

From blog to print

The shift from only a blogger to a just-the-facts reporter at a 16,500-circulation newspaper may seem counterintuitive at a time when newspapers and their staffs are shrinking.Yet Wolf enjoys the lot of a small-town cub reporter at a traditional local newspaper, which doesn't even maintain a Web site. At the Palo Alto Daily Post, he files 10 to 15 stories a week written in standard newspaper style, devoid of personal analysis, and most of his stories are only a few hundred words long and fail to include what Wolf calls the "significant nuances" of his reporting."I could write 10,000 words on some stories," Wolf said. "But I think it's understood you're trying to get the facts of the story a reader can easily understand, and no story is free of minute details that are also important."

For the Aug. 7 edition of the Post, Wolf penned items for the police blotter ("First block of Embarcadero: Six windows were reported broken at 10:59 a.m."), wrote a lead-up to the county fair (Headline: "Cattle Drive Means it's County Fair Time") and a short item on a homeless woman who was charged with writing threats to a police officer. (Wolf had to use dashes in the family newspaper to convey the offensive word she used.)

Dave Price, the publisher and editor of the Post, said he first met Wolf after trying to dispatch a reporter for a prison interview with him in 2006. After Wolf's release in April 2006, Price said he wanted to meet "the legend among journalists" and, after a short trial period during which Wolf wrote a few stories, offered him a staff job.

Price said Wolf has displayed an ability to work as a traditional reporter, seeking out multiple sources and not allowing personal views to seep into his copy.

"That's how you have to operate in this business," Price said, who launched the paper in May to compete with Palo Alto Daily News, owned by the Denver chain MediaNews Group. "And he's shown he can do that."

Wolf got his first taste of reporting when he worked on his school paper at Serrano High School in Southern California. He wrote news briefs for the weekly Santa Barbara Independent during college and worked at Peralta Community College as a video producer before he collected his infamous video footage.

Activist or reporter?

Christine Tatum, former president of the Society of Professional Journalists, who led many of the discussions in 2006 about whether Wolf should receive the national group's support and financial backing, said debates centered on Wolf's description of himself on his blog as an anarchist and activist, not a reporter.

"We didn't see 'journalist' in that (description), and that made us wonder, 'Were we getting behind a guy who was not there to gather news but who was involved (in the protests)?' " Tatum said. "I can't speak for Josh, but there was this thinking going around at the time, 'Oh, man, down with the mainstream media.' Yet, it was the mainstream media who was right there to help Josh out."

Tatum said her group ultimately supported Wolf, making its largest donation ever of $31,000 to support his legal defense, after agreeing that his actions - gathering information for the intent to distribute it - constituted an act of journalism. "There are very few easy poster children for good causes of journalism," Tatum said, noting that every high-profile case, such as those involving Judith Miller and BALCO, has its areas of gray. "It's less important for people to debate who is a journalist and more important for people to consider: Is it journalism?"

Forging a new rep

Even though the debate played out in newspaper columns and blogs and continues at length on Wolf's Wikipedia discussion page where users haggle over his reputation - "If his only journalistic quality is that he runs around with a camera and films stuff, then a whole lot of teenagers can be considered journalists," wrote one anonymous user - the question of professional status was irrelevant in federal court, said David Greene of Oakland's First Amendment Project, one of Wolf's attorneys.

Because shield laws that protect journalists from being forced to submit to subpoena power and turn over sources do not exist at the federal level, Wolf's official job title was of little consequence.

To gain his release, Wolf and his attorneys eventually struck a deal in which he aired the entire videotape on his Web site but avoided testifying before a grand jury about his material. (He also had to declare he did not know who was involved in injuring the police officer.)

Since his release, Wolf has worked as a video producer and a volunteer reporter at the Berkeley radio station KPFA. He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of San Francisco in 2007, though he said that was "to make a statement" against the status quo and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

He's also working on a side project, a live video news site called Local Live, where users will be alerted to updates via Twitter, a social networking site that limits exchanges to short posts, text messages or e-mail alerts. Wolf envisions Local Live cameramen will receive texts from viewers, who will then be able to relay the queries at a press conference or a breaking news event.

But for now, though still blogging, Wolf is honing his chops in a medium that began in 1605.

"The fact is that all journalism is based on solid writing," Wolf said. "And there is no better place to practice the fundamentals of journalism than at a local daily newspaper."

More on Josh Wolf

-- To follow Josh Wolf on Twitter: twitter.com/joshwolf

-- To visit his personal Web site: joshwolf.net

E-mail Justin Berton at jberton@sfchronicle.com.


Stunning 62.4% of Americans Would Like to See Better Choices of Candidates, Parties in Future

Der..why wouldn't that number 100% - I can't imagine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

~F R E E T H E R A P Y~

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Online TV show Tuesday 6pm pacific http://www.ustream.tv/channel/happe-talk

The news media's conspiracy to narrow our choice for president

From: http://www.nolanchart.com ... Have you ever wondered why you only hear about two candidates running for president when there are actually numerous candidates? The money is step one. Step two is controlling the media. ...

Andrew Bacevich on Moyers (again)

"The congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress."

...

BIL MOYERS: Here is what I take to be the core of your analysis of our political crisis. You write, "The United States has become a de facto one party state. With the legislative branch permanently controlled by an incumbent's party. And every President exploiting his role as Commander in Chief to expand on the imperial prerogatives of his office."

ANDREW BACEVICH: One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It's not true. I happen to define myself as a conservative.

Well, what do conservatives say they stand for? Well, conservatives say they stand for balanced budgets. Small government. The so called traditional values.

Well, when you look back over the past 30 or so years, since the rise of Ronald Reagan, which we, in many respects, has been a conservative era in American politics, well, did we get small government?

Do we get balanced budgets? Do we get serious as opposed to simply rhetorical attention to traditional social values? The answer's no. Because all of that really has simply been part of a package of tactics that Republicans have employed to get elected and to - and then to stay in office.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Quote: Nature of Personal Reality

“An artist produces a body of work in his lifetime. Each painting is but one materialization, one focused presentation, of an endless variety of probable paintings (he could choose to paint).” “The same sort of thing operates in the actualization of any event in which you are involved. You create your life, then. Inner images are of great importance to the artist. He tries to project them upon his canvas or board. Again, you are each your own artist, and your inner visualizations become models for other situations and events. The artist utilizes training and mixes his colors in order to give artistic flesh to his painting. The images in your mind draw to themselves all the proper emotional energy and power needed to fill them out as physical events. You can change the picture of your life at any time if you only realize that it is simply the one portrait of yourself that you have created from an unlimited amount of probable ones.” “Suppose that you are unhealthy and desire health. If you understand the nature of probabilities, you will not need to pretend to ignore your present situation. You will recognize it instead as a probable reality that you have physically materialized. Taking that for granted, you will then begin the process necessary to bring a different probability into physical experience. You will do this by concentrating upon what you want, but feeling no conflict between that and what you have, because one will not contradict the other; each will be seen as a reflection of your belief in daily life. As it took some time to build up your present image with its unhealthy aspects, so it may take some time to change that picture. But concentration upon the present unhealthy situation will only prolong it. Period. Each condition is as real or unreal as the other.” Ref: The Nature of Personal Reality, by Jane Roberts, pp301-302, Bantam Books

Reflections on Twenty-First Century Socialism, by James Petras

In order to explore the perspectives for socialism in the 21st century, it is essential to recover some of the basic postulates, which inform the socialist project. In addition, it is important to recover some of the basic advances achieved by 20th century socialist regimes as well as to critically reflect on their distorted structures and failed policies.

In the most basic sense it is important to remember that ‘socialism’ is a means to a better material life than under capitalism: Higher living standards, greater political freedom, social equality of conditions, and internal and external security. ‘Respect’, ‘dignity’ and ‘solidarity’ can only be understood as accompaniments of these basic material goals, not as substitutes. ‘Respect” and ‘dignity’ cannot be pursued in the face of long-term, large-scale deprivation, sacrifice and delayed fulfillment of material improvement. Governments claiming to be ‘socialist’ which idealize ‘sacrifice’ of material living standards in the name of abstract principles of justice, are more akin to ‘spiritual socialism’ of a religious order rather than a modern dynamic socialist government.

Social transformations and the replacement of capitalist owners by the socialist state can only be justified if the new order can improve the efficiency, working conditions and responsiveness to consumers of the socialist enterprise. For example, in some socialist regimes, under the guise of a ‘revolutionary offensive’, the state intervened and eliminated thousands of small and medium size retail urban enterprises in the name of ‘eliminating capitalists’. The result was a disaster: The stores remained closed; the state was incapable of organizing the multitude of small businesses and the great majority of workers were deprived of vital services.

Twentieth century socialist states built effective and successful medical, educational and security systems to serve the majority of the workers. The majority of socialist states eliminated foreign control and exploitation of natural resources and in some cases developed diversified industrial economies. On the whole, living standards rose, crime declined, employment, pensions and welfare were secured. However, 20th century socialism was divided by deep contradictions leading to profound systemic crises. Bureaucratic centralism denied freedom at the workplace and restricted public debate and popular governance. Public authority’s over-emphasis on ‘security’ blocked innovation, entrepreneurship, scientific and popular initiatives leading to technological stagnation and mass passivity. Elite material privileges based on political office led to profound inequalities, which undermined popular belief in socialist principles and led to the spread of capitalist values.

Capitalism thrives on social inequalities; socialism deepens through greater equality. Both capitalism and socialism depend on efficient, productive and innovative workers: The former in order to maximize profits, the latter to sustain an expanding welfare state.

20th Century Lessons for 21st Century Socialists

Twenty-first century socialist can learn from the achievements and failures of 20th century socialism.

First: Policies must be directed toward improving the living as well as working conditions of the people. That means massive investment in quality housing, household appliances, public transport, environmental concerns and infrastructure. Overseas solidarity and missions should not take priority over large-scale, long-term investments in expanding and deepening material improvements for the principal internal class base of the socialist regime. Solidarity begins at home.

Second: Development policies should focus on diversifying the economy with a special focus on industrializing the raw material, making major investment in industries producing quality goods of mass consumption (clothing, shoes, and so on) and in agriculture, especially becoming self-sufficient in basic essential foods. Under no conditions should socialist economies rely on single products for income (sugar, tourism, petroleum, nickel), which are subject to great volatility.

A socialist government should finance education, income and infrastructure policies, which are compatible with its high economic social and cultural priorities; this means educating agronomists and skill agricultural workers, skilled construction workers (plumbers, electricians, painters) and civil engineers, transport workers and urban and rural planners of public housing to decentralize mega-cities and substitute public for private transport. They should set up popularly elected environment and consumer councils to oversee the quality of air, water and noise levels and the availability, prices and quality of food.

Twentieth century socialist governments frequently alienated their workers by diverting large of amount of aid to overseas regimes (many of whom were not even progressive!). As a result, local needs were neglected in the name of ‘international solidarity’. The first priority of 21st century socialism is solidarity at home. Twentieth century socialists emphasized ‘welfare’ from above — government as ‘giver’ and the masses as ‘receivers’ — discouraging local action and encouraging passivity. Twenty-first century socialism must encourage autonomous class action to counter privileged ‘socialist’ bourgeois ministers and functionaries who use their office to accumulate and protect private wealth through public power. Autonomous popular organizations can expose the hypocrisy of rich ministers who attack well-paid industrial workers as ‘privileged’ while riding in chauffeured Mercedes and enjoying luxurious apartments, second and third ‘vacation homes’ and who send there children to expensive and exclusive private schools at home and abroad.

Above all socialism is about social equality: Equality in income, schools and hospitals; equality between classes and within classes. Without social equality, all talk of ‘diversity’, ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ is meaningless. Capitalists also support ‘diversity’, as long as it does not affect their profits and wealth. Socialists support income and property equality which effectively re-distributes wealth and property to all workers, white and black, Indian farmer and urban worker, men and women, and young and old. There is no ‘dignity’ in being poor and exploited; dignity comes with struggle and the achievement of socialist goals of social equality and rising living standards.


Plan Ecuador: Practical Ideas or Lofty Ideals?

Para ver la versión en español, dirígase a Plan Ecuador: ¿Ideas prácticas o sobreestimadas?

Currently, Ecuador is confronting a wave of violence previously unknown in the country. Organized crime, sicariatos (brutal contracted killings), drug trafficking, and kidnapping contribute to increased violence. The internal conflict in neighboring Colombia has been a determining factor in the region’s growing instability that has begun to infiltrate Ecuadorian society. In response to the alarming situation that both countries are now facing, the Ecuadorian government has generated Plan Ecuador to provide for increased security and reliable development along its northern frontier region.

On April 24, 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa formally introduced Plan Ecuador, which is based on the idea of “oponer la paz a la guerra” (“replacing war with peace”). The plan consists of a series of key elements that focus on strengthening international and regional relationships, social development of the area, and defense of the population and Ecuador’s national territory.

Given Ecuador’s current surge in criminal activity, the creation of a focused program to address relevant national social and security issues was considered necessary to maintain the country’s security and sovereignty. However, Correa’s proposed plan has invited criticism for failing to apply specific initiatives capable of achieving the idealistic goals built into the proposal’s grand design. Furthermore, the lack of specificity in Ecuador’s plans is unlikely to impress potential providers of international aid, whose funding is considered essential to effectively implementing the project.

The Challenging Reality of the Ecuadorian Frontier Ecuador’s northern frontier encompasses five provinces: Esmeraldas, Carchi, Imbabura, Sucumbíos, and Orellana. According to documentation found in the 2001 report of the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC), approximately 1.1 million people live on the northern frontier, which is predominately indigenous and spans the Colombian-Ecuadorian border.

Although its abundance of natural resources represents a potential for significant development, the region remains intrinsically poor. Despite oil found in the area, the overwhelming economic activity is subsistence farming. The unemployment rate in the region has now reached 69 percent, about 20 percent higher than the national average (INEC 2006). Unfortunately, the population has limited opportunities for education, which is essential to industrial development and attracting investment. Only half of the region’s population finishes primary school, and just a small percentage of those continue on long enough to obtain a university or technical degree (INEC 2001). These statistics demonstrate the precarious state of Ecuador’s frontier. Given the influx of drugs and organized crime infiltrating the border from Colombia and a lack of stable jobs, employment possibilities, and education in the region, its inhabitants are more likely than not to turn to some form of delinquency in order to achieve an adequate income.

Compounding such matters is the area’s lack of basic services. Waste sanitation, drainage systems, and water piping need to be improved in order to combat the spread of communicable diseases affecting the region. Furthermore, public hospitals and the rest of the health infrastructure are often unable to deal with the growing demand for medical treatment. Since the majority of clinics are private, the population is generally unable to pay for essential health services.

A growing source of stress on this already tenuous situation is the increasing influx of Colombian refugees to the region. According to the Office on Refugees in the Ministry of Foreign Relations, 45,381 immigrants applied for refugee status in Ecuador between 2000 and 2007. In addition to registered refugees, there are close to 250,000 foreign residents in the country without formal legal status. These residents do not pay taxes, exploiting Ecuador’s public health care and education systems, which already face woefully inadequate funding. Moreover, as these residents are largely undocumented, it is difficult for the state to monitor the illegal activity found in the immediate region.

Plan Ecuador is viewed as a necessity due to the aforementioned problems. The risk posed by insurgent groups and drugs entering Ecuador has increased, bringing with them a significant impact on the local economy. These complex elements make it necessary to develop an effective plan to protect the border while engaging the rural population sufficiently to discourage the entrance of the Colombian conflict into the daily life of the area’s residents.

Strategies with Little Substance Plan Ecuador is based on seven principle ideas that together aim for the development of the provinces bordering Colombia as a non-violent method of addressing the problem of organized crime and narco-trafficking in the region. However, the strategies put forward to execute each of the seven points are idealistic and non-comprehensive, and often fail to lay out specific plans that will guarantee the effectiveness of the program. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be dependable enough to serve as a basis of public policy and to warrant international aid.

    1) Institutional strengthening for peace and development Plans for community development and a new system of political management are laid out in the initial section. While this is a commendable idea, the scheme does not name the specific steps that the government will take in order to implement this strategy, leaving the process vulnerable to later corruption and failure. In addition, creating coordinated networks that connect society with a development model have been proposed. Finally, the government aims to increase confidence in the judiciary by strengthening social movements and improving the transparency of government function and spending. However, this idea lacks sufficient clarification of the social movements capable of increasing judicial confidence, not to mention the difficulty of strengthening a legally established system through these movements. 2) Reinvigorating the economy and increasing employment Plan Ecuador describes the strategies that will be used to reinvigorate the economy by attempting to grant easier access to credit for small businesses at lower interest rates and to supply the necessary technology and resources to spur development. It is important to note that this process can provide the economic base for the creation of new businesses and, consequently, increase employment. 3) Improving the basic social infrastructure This section lays out two strategies to “boost the design, preparation, and execution of programs and projects through sectional governments” with the aid of regional, national, and international cooperation. Rather than presenting a clear proposal for improving the border area’s social infrastructure, the Ecuadorian government has simply laid out a very broad description of the three steps necessary to reach this desired goal. The idea is followed by their intention to promote citizen participation and observation in the “design, preparation, and execution” process needed to assure the quality of basic services. Once again, however, the government has not described how it will promote citizen participation, much less how it would potentially function in the light of Ecuador’s current high risk economic system. 4) Sustainable management of natural resources Strategies in this segment aim to offer incentives for sustainable development and the maintenance of the various ecosystems found in Ecuador’s northern region. To achieve this, the government also hopes to protect certain ecological zones and national parks, as well as financially support technical assistance and training programs for sustainable development. These goals are all possible; however, they will be difficult to achieve. Due to high levels of poverty and unemployment in the region, the people are more concerned with day-to-day survival than with protecting the environment. Changing this attitude will require implementing an aggressive educational campaign, which will be challenging due to chronic low attendance rates in schools. Furthermore, the government has failed to specify how it will provide aid, be it in subsidies for cleaner technology or by sending technical experts to the area to aid in the transition to sustainable development. 5) Administration of justice and control of illicit activities and products Correa’s administration hopes to strengthen preexisting regulations meant to prevent crime and to reduce delinquency will be particularly focused on narco-trafficking, arms possession, and money laundering. These measures also modernize the institutions that investigate and process illegal activity and provide them with the required financial resources to accomplish the task. Plan Ecuador only outlines the form in which the government hopes to strengthen the financial resources for these new programs, and leaves out the more detailed plans that will effectively influence and contribute to the reduction of illegal activity. In relation to the energy sector, the government has mandated the application of the Plan de Soberanía Energética (Sovereign Energy Plan), which works toward reducing the smuggling of oil by-products, and the Seguridad Integral del Sistema Hidrocarburífero (Integrated Security of the Hydrocarbon System), which protects oil industry operations. 6) Human rights, humanitarian assistance, and sheltering refugees The government hopes to expand the recognition of human rights across the region, as well as the technology and engineering skills necessary to ensure their implementation and enforcement. Instruction on basic human rights observance and protection also will become an integral part of military training procedures, which should lead to a greater understanding on the part of the armed forces regarding the conflicts they are likely to confront. Moreover, the government hopes to promote transparency and justice with respect to any violations of civil rights taking place on the frontier. This point shows the government’s general idealism, but also, in failing to explain how it will achieve transparency and justice, is likely to breed skepticism within the population concerning government intent. 7) Protection of national sovereignty and the integrity of the state Quito aims to strengthen the presence of the military on the northern border in order to protect the region’s cultural and governmental institutions, which would allow them to function more effectively, while at the same time permit increased development to take place. The military will also contribute to preserving the environment. Meanwhile, local authorities are planning to update the civil registry, which will allow a more complete analysis of the population in the area and its needs. The government continues to stress that programs in San Lorenzo, El Dorado de Cascales, Tulcán, Sucumbíos, Lago Agrio, and Putumayo will be prioritized. With the exception of Sucumbíos, none of these areas are mentioned previously in the document. For the first time, the plan provides details as to where specifically it will be implementing these programs. However, it does so without ever citing statistics or providing concrete evidence backing up this assumption. Ecuador hopes to resolve the problem of overlapping zones of political power in state institutions, clearly defining the legal limits of each governmental body. This will likely cut down on superfluous bureaucracy, allowing the government to function more efficiently and to increase the government’s transparency. Separately, the Ecuadorian government will work toward improving the nation’s recently strained relationship with Colombia and increasing the level of trust between the two countries.

High Expectations Plan Ecuador’s goals are germane to the needs of the Ecuadorian population. The proposal targets security and humanitarian ideas, evidenced by the president’s efforts to take action against the proliferation of violence in the country’s northern frontier. However, when working for a society that has suffered through innumerable difficulties, it becomes crucial not to rely on vague formulations, but to present an effective and meticulously thought-out plan to solve the problems. With this in mind, the principal weakness of Plan Ecuador is that it fails to present a proposal practical enough to reach the planned objectives.

Over a ten-year time span, Plan Ecuador hopes to increase production and employment though small-scale industrialization. Although necessary for the region, this goal represents a potential contradiction to another stated goal of the plan – conservation of the various ecosystems on the frontier. Extending agriculture, oil drilling, and industrialization will negatively affect under-protected and fragile ecosystems, unless approached in the most environmentally-conscious manner. While educating the people on green technology will aid in preservation, training and providing the appropriate technical tools will undoubtedly be more expensive than Ecuadorian officials appear to be prepared to spend.

Even so, the quest to improve the quality of basic services such as water piping, sewage systems, and solid waste processing are included in the plan.

Within the next four years (coinciding with the presidential term of the current administration) Ecuador will create and impose a Strategic Operative Plan, which will allow the progress and results of Plan Ecuador to be measured. The plan will be carried out with the participation of the principle leaders from each province, along with the oversight of public opinion.

Financing Plan Ecuador Plan Ecuador will be financed through the country’s various ministerial institutions, sectional governments, community resources, and international aid. According to declarations made on July 24, 2008 in Washington D.C. by the Minister Coordinator of Internal and External Security, Gustavo Larrea, the country can afford to spend close to US$140 million on Plan Ecuador. This year, Ecuador has received US$43 million in designated international aid.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the country hopes to receive a total of $129,603,928 in international aid. The amount is apparently the product of a minute analysis of the projects that the government hopes to put into effect; however, there is not a single mention of a detailed action in the document that would lead to the justification of this sum. Without a detailed strategy laid out for scrutiny, it is impossible to know if Ecuador’s requested funding is appropriate for the desired earmarked reforms, or no better than a pipe dream.

Following in the Footsteps of Plan Colombia? On June 8, 1998, then-Colombian President Andres Pastrana proposed Plan Colombia in an attempt to launch “A Peaceful Policy for Change,” addressing the hugely complex drug cultivation and pattern of violence instigated by Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, FARC) and the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Colombian Self-defense Forces, AUC) paramilitary vigilantes.

The initial Plan Colombia focused on a peaceful strategy to develop the southern region of the country through economic, social, and environmental initiatives. The proposal was clearly spelled out by President Pastrana, who called for “an agricultural frontier that will be respected… offering different alternatives to drug cultivation to the campesinos (rural workers)… [and] increasing investment in the social and agricultural sectors and in regional infrastructure.” The initial proposal also promoted taking a hard-line approach to human rights violations.

Despite the gradual militarization of Plan Colombia by the end of the Clinton administration, it is impossible to ignore the similarities between the two plans, particularly at inception. Although Colombia had a much larger emphasis on coca eradication (due to the lack of symmetry in cultivation magnitudes between the two countries) both plans aimed to strengthen and modernize their security forces in order to fight drug trafficking.

Ecuador, like Colombia, will aspire to promote industrialization of the region in order to generate employment. Strengthening the judicial system and other governmental institutions to eliminate corruption and reduce impunity, especially in regard to punishing human rights abuses, is central to both plans. Finally, both plans seek international financial help and participation.

Proposals Below is a series of proposals that might enhance the concept of Plan Ecuador:

    • Increase productivity in the region by studying the potential output of the area’s present enterprises in order to design more efficient pathways to economic development and increased employment.

    • Carry out specific studies to identify markets that work well in the region and provide residents the greatest amount of benefits, given the capacity of the population and the available natural resources.

    • Explore the possibility of aid from the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations Environmental Program, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, to learn which new technologies can best help integrate the population with the environment.

    • Improve the country’s penal system so that drug traffickers cannot influence or control the system after capture and detention, and work to establish a rehabilitation program to reintegrate such individuals into society upon their release.

    • Provide adequate protection for witnesses and judges in cases pertaining to human rights violations to guarantee their safety against threats and provide justice through a fair trial.

    • Strengthen a specialized anti-kidnapping police force.

    • Promote respect for human rights through the mass media and, if possible, train journalists in basic international human rights law.

    • Follow the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ June 1998 Plan Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Ecuador (National Human Rights Plan for Ecuador), which includes proposals to increase protection of civil and political rights, foreign residents, minorities, women, and the media.

While Plan Ecuador presents numerous admirable goals, the proposal itself lacks the strong detailed structure necessary to attract international aid. Compounding the issues are amiable relations between the Ecuadorian government and such Washington adversaries as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. President Correa will have to somewhat distance himself from their more conceptualized socialist policies in order to gain substantial support from the White House. With Plan Ecuador, the Correa administration has the opportunity to prove to the people, as well as Latin America’s other governments, that peaceful methods of dealing with the conflict along Ecuador’s northern frontier can be successfully implemented.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associates Raylsiyaly Rivero and Lydia Pardini

Invisible Paths

Charles Eisenstein

"You are here because you know something. You don't know what it is, but you can feel it. Something is wrong with the world." -- Morpheus, The Matrix

As the age turns, millions of people are pioneering a transition from the old world to the new. It is a journey fraught with peril and hardship and breathtaking discovery, a journey irreducibly unique for each of us. Because we are stepping out into the new, it is also profoundly uncertain and at times lonely. I cannot map out the details of anyone's individual path, but I can fortify you as you walk it and illuminate some of its universal features. My purpose is to give voice to what you have always known (without knowing it) and always believed (without believing it), so that you may breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Ah, I was right all along."

In a sense I am not describing a path at all, since there isn't one in the new territory of the pioneer. Indeed, what I am describing is a departure from a path, the ready-made paths laid out before us, and the creation of a new one. You know the ready-made path I'm talking about. Typified by that odious board game "Life," it begins with school, traverses the territory of marriage, kids, and career, and, if all goes well, ends in a long and comfortable retirement. This program has been crumbling for decades now, as high rates of divorce and radical career change demonstrate. I, for one, am not planning for retirement; the very concept feels alien to me, as does the notion that my Golden Years are to be any time other than right now.

I will describe seven stages of the discovery and walking of this invisible path from the old world to the new. I present them in a linear narrative, but usually their progression is not strictly linear. It is, rather, fractal: each stage interpenetrates the rest, and we may skip around a lot, revisit old territory, jump ahead to new, pass through some stages in minutes and others in years. Nonetheless, I think you will recognize some of the major landmarks in your own journey.

Stage 1: Something is Wrong / Idealism

Idealism is a belief that a more beautiful world is possible; that the world as we know it is deficient, unworthy of our full participation. When idealism is not expressed as action, it turns into cynicism. It is no accident that both idealism and, today, cynicism are hallmarks of youth: young people, being newer to the world, less inculcated with the belief in its permanence, and less personally invested in its perpetuation, can see much more easily the possibility of a better one.

The idealism of youth is a seed of what is to come. The teenager looks out upon some aspect of the world and is outraged. "No force in the universe will make me accept a world in which this happens! I will not be complicit in it! I will not sell out!" Usually this attitude is unconscious, manifesting either as cynicism or as rage, an uncontrollable anger directed at whatever surrogate target is available. Those teenagers with the strongest idealism are often the angriest; we think there is something wrong with them and their anger problem, but really there is something right. Their protest is misdirected, but fundamentally valid.

Our culture fears youth even as we valorize it. We are afraid of that knowledge that the world we have invested in is wrong, and go to great lengths to suppress it, both within ourselves and externally as a war on youth. In a carrot-and-stick strategy, on the one hand we entice youth into complicity with the adult world, while on the other abashing it with patronizing dismissals and intimidating it with severe punishments for lashing out. And so, bought and cowed, we earn the badge of "maturity" and enter the adult world.

Bought and cowed, yes, but never broken. That knowledge of a more beautiful world lies latent within us, waiting for an event to reactivate it. Each time we encounter something unacceptable in our lives or in the world, something that arouses our indignation and protest, we feel our spark of youth being fanned into flame. We can and do put out the fires, repeatedly, but the invitation never stops coming, and it comes louder and louder until we can no longer ignore it. Then it launches us into the next stage, when we act on our indignation, whether consciously or not, and begin looking for the path out of the old world.

Stage 2: Refusal or Withdrawal

On some level, Stage 2 is always concurrent with Stage 1, but I will describe it separately because so many people are very nearly successful in suppressing the feeling of wrongness, suppressing the intuition of a more beautiful world that is possible, and relegating it to an inconsequential realm: their weekends, their choice of music, or most insidiously, their opinions. People have very strong opinions about what is wrong with the world and what "we" should do about it, and how life "should" be lived, but don't meaningfully act upon those opinions. They like to read about what is wrong with the world and voice their concurrence. It is as if their opinions provided a vent for the indignant anger that would otherwise power real transformation.

The suppression of the desire to transcend the old world is never entirely successful. The unexpressed energy comes out in the form of anxiety, which is none other than the feeling, "Something is wrong around here and I don't know what it is." It can also fuel addiction or escapism, substitutes for the longed-for more beautiful world. Eventually, if all goes well, these props to life-as-usual fail, initiating a withdrawal from the lives we have known.

This withdrawal can take many forms. In my previous essay I discussed depression and chronic fatigue, which are unconscious or semi-conscious refusals to participate in the world. In my own life, for many years the refusal took the form of a half-hearted participation, in which I would go along with some, but not all, of the conventions of compliance. Whether in school or in work, I did just enough to get by, unwilling to fully devote myself to a world I unconsciously knew was wrong, yet not aware enough or brave enough to repudiate it fully either. If you perceive in yourself or another such "flaws" as laziness or procrastination, you may actually be seeing the signs of a valid, noble, yet unconscious refusal.

In other people, the withdrawal takes the form of self-sabotage. You get yourself fired, you engineer an argument or an accident, you inexplicably mess up, you don't take care of yourself and get sick. These are all ways of implementing a decision that we are afraid to make consciously. So if you find yourself immersed in the wrong life but lack the courage to make a break from it, don't worry! You will exit it sooner or later, whether you have the courage to or not. On this path, fear is no more the enemy than is ego or any other New Age bogeyman. A process is grabbing hold of you that is far beyond your contrivance. Your struggles are nearly superfluous as you are being born.

Another means of withdrawal happens when you just get fed up, and you snap. "I quit!" you say. Maybe you tell the boss to shove it. Maybe you drop out of school. At this moment you feel a sense of exhilaration, maybe of satori. It does not last and it does not obviate the upcoming journey on the invisible path, but it is valuable nonetheless as a reminder of your power.

A final and very telling symptom of this stage is the experience of struggle. Because you are still trying to participate and to withdraw at the same time, life becomes exhausting. You have to expend tremendous efforts to accomplish anything. You wonder why your career is stalled, why your luck is bad, why your car keeps breaking down, why nothing seems to click, when other people's careers proceed smoothly. The reason is that unconsciously, you are expelling yourself from the world you've inhabited so you can search for another one.

Stage 3: The Search

In this stage, you are searching for something, but you don't know what it is. You begin to explore new worlds, read books you would never have been interested in before. You dabble in spirituality, in self-help books and seminars; you try different religions and different politics. You are attracted to this cause and that cause, but although they are exciting, you probably don't commit very deeply to any of them (though for a time you may convert very loudly). You try to figure things out. You want an answer, you want certainty. You want to know what to do. Sometimes you think you have found it, but after a period of intense infatuation with Zen meditation, or Reiki, or yoga, or the Landmark Forum, or shamanic journeying, you are eventually disappointed every time. Their promise of a new life and a new self is not redeemed, despite a promising beginning, and despite seeing others whose lives seemingly have transformed through these. You might conclude you just didn't try hard enough, but redoubled efforts bring no further results. Yet nothwithstanding the disappointments, you know something is out there. You know there is another world, another life, bigger and more beautiful than the one you were acculturated to. You just don't know what it is, and you have never experienced it. It is therefore a theoretical knowledge.

The search is in vain. Sometimes you give up for a while and attempt to recommit fully to the life you have withdrawn from. You join back in, but not for long. The self-evident wrongness of that world becomes more acute, and the relapse into depression, fatigue, self-sabotage, or addiction is quick and intense. You have no choice but to continue searching.

Stage 4: Doubt and Despair

The third stage morphs easily back and forth into despair or doubt, a natural response to the fruitlessness of the search. You think, "There is nothing for me. I don't belong in this world." You think, "Who am I to think I could be an exception to the universal law of sacrifice and self-control for survival's sake? Why did I give up my promising future? Why didn't I devote more energy to staying with the Program? I have made a mess of my life."

In despair, the weight of the world comes crashing down on your shoulders. The various rays of hope you found in your search are extinguished in an all-encompassing darkness. Whatever political causes or spiritual groups you joined, whatever self-help programs or health regimes, all crumble under the onslaught of the powers that seem to rule this world. Quite logically, there is no hope, nor could there be any hope.

At this point, your idealism, your refusal, your search might seem like an enormous, self-indulgent error. Yet at the same time your perception of the wrongness of the world intensifies. You cannot go back, you cannot rejoin the program; but you cannot go forward either, because there is nowhere to go. Your situation is like that of a fetus at the onset of labor. The cervix has not yet opened: there is no light, no exit, no direction to escape the titanic forces bearing down upon you. Every promise of escape, every door you explored in your search phase, is proven to be a lie, a dead end. Desperately you may resume the search, hoping against hope to find it this time, only to plunge even more completely back into despair when your new guru too shows his feet of clay, when your new group shows the same ego and politicking, when your new self-help technique, your new promising lead, turns out to the yet another loop returning you to the center of the same old labyrinth.

At its most extreme, this is an unbearable condition that must nonetheless be borne. Subjectively it feels eternal. It is from such a state that we derive our descriptions of Hell: unbearable and eternal.

Stage 5: A Glimpse

In the midst of despair, from beyond hope, from beyond possibility even, comes an unbidden glimpse of another world. It comes without figuring out an exit from doubt and despair, whose logic remains unassailable even as it becomes irrelevant. You have caught a glimpse of your destination, the thing you'd been searching for. You might observe that the effort of your search fell a million times short of the power that has finally brought you here. Your quest was impossible -- yet here you are! Perhaps it comes in the form of an intense experience of your true power and gifts, of joy and healing, of unity and simplicity, of the omnipresent providence of the universe, of the presence of the divine. It could happen through a near-death experience, a tragedy in the family, a psychedelic plant or chemical, an encounter with a being from another world, a miracle. You will be left in a state of profound gratitude and awe.

This state does not last very long: sometimes just minutes, sometimes days, rarely for weeks. It disappears faster the more you try to hold on to it, and once it is gone it will not come back by trying to replicate the circumstances through which it came before. You might slip back into doubt and despair, you might live a while longer in the old world, but there is a huge difference now. After having had this glimpse, you now know that a more beautiful world and a more beautiful life is possible. You know it in your bones, in your cells. Even if from time to time you doubt it in your mind (for the logic of its impossibility still remains), the doubts no longer seem so real, so compelling. You are leaving that world behind.

The glimpse of a new world is not necessarily a single definable event. Well, it is, but this single event might be diffracted onto linear time, spread out over a period of months or years. When it has happened, then the existence of a new life in a new world is no longer something you've just been told about. It is not a matter of religious ideology or New Age opinion. Because it is a real knowing, sooner or later (and usually sooner) it manifests as action in the world, creative action. You begin the next stage: a walk toward the destination you have been shown.

Stage 6: The Invisible Path

You have glimpsed your destination and felt its promise, but how do you get there? Now begins a real adventure, a journey without a path. Well-marked paths exist to becoming a lawyer, a professor, a doctor, or any other position in the old world, but there is no path toward the next unfolding of your true self. To be sure, you may still embark on a training program or something as part of a radical career change, but you realize that these structures are merely something you recruit into your own pathmaking, and not a path to your destination.

In this stage, real changes happen in your life. You may experience the end of a relationship, bankruptcy, career change, moving to a different part of the country, changes in your body, an entirely different social life and different kind of intimate relationship. You may continue to undergo various crises, but they don't have the apocalyptic, desperate feeling of the earlier stages, but are rather like birth contractions, and indeed your situation is much like that of a fetus in the birth canal, being propelled toward the light. As this phase progresses, you might even have the feeling of having been reborn in the same body (or different body). While some vestiges of your old life will remain, there is no doubt that you are in new territory. You often experience a sense of newness, freshness, vulnerability, and discovery.

The walk toward the state you now know exists is fraught with pitfalls, dead ends, thickets and swamps. You have no markers, no external indicators of the right way. I said there is no path in this new territory, but that is not strictly true. There is a path, but it is an invisible path, a path you work out yourself. Your guides are your own intuition and self-trust. You learn to ignore the voices that say a given choice is foolish, irresponsible, or selfish. Your self-trust is your only guide, because the voices of your old world do not know this territory. They have never been there. It is new for you. You find your own way, groping along, taking wrong turns sometimes and doubling back, only to realize that the wrong turn was not wrong after all, but the only way you could have learned the right path.

Many have preceded us into this new territory, blazing trails into new territory for the bulk of humanity to follow as the old world falls apart. We are still among the early ones, though, establishing roles that have never existed before, the roles for a new world. Only a few of them have names: healer, life coach, facilitator, and so forth. Many more are nameless, riding the vehicle of existing occupations. The form of the lawyer may remain, but she is really doing something very different. You may have encountered such people before, angels in the guise of clerks, mystics in the guise of garbage men, saints in the guise of mechanics. Any profession can be a vehicle for healing work; or you may establish an entirely new profession.

The stage of the invisible path differs from the searching stage in that now, you are actually living the new life, or learning to live it. It is no longer the wishful possibility of someone trapped in the old world and longing for the new. While doubt and despair may pay an occasional visit, they do not weigh you down, because you know better. Their logic cannot assail the felt experience of the new being that draws you down the invisible path.

Stage 7: Arrival

Here is what it feels like to have arrived at the end of the Invisible Path:

1. You do something that makes complete sense given all that you know is wrong about the world. That doesn't mean you can claim to be saving the world. It means, though, that you can look any of the victims of the earth-wrecking, culture-wrecking, spirit-wrecking machine in the eye, unapologetically, knowing that in their heart of hearts they would have you do no differently.

2. You are living in the full expression of your gifts, doing beautiful work for which you are uniquely suited. This need not be work that is commonly recognized in vocational terms. It could be invisible work done as a father, a grandmother, a friend. You may not have a job at all, or you may have an ordinary job, or an extraordinary one, but either way your life will fully engage your gifts. You will feel that you have been of service, and happily. Indeed, you can never be fully happy if your gifts are not fully expressed and received. Ultimately, this is what drives us to search for the Invisible Path to begin with. We are here for a purpose and can never know peace until we find it.

3. You wake up most days happy and excited to live your day. You can hardly stay in bed. You are full of life, because you love the life you are living, and your energy system is therefore wide open.

4. You receive clear feedback from the world that your gifts are received, and that you are participating in the creation of the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.

The journey is not over with arrival. In a way, Stage 7 is the precursor to Stage 1. We are born into a vast new world and a vast new womb, in which we grow once more until eventually we bump up against the limits of that world, too, triggering a new birth process. After a time of exhilarating development in the new world, you may become aware of an even deeper wrongness, or to phrase it more positively, of new needs for creative expression and healing. Each time you go through this process, new gifts become manifest. You have potentialities within you that will not germinate for many many cycles of time.

I am sure that the readership of this essay comprises people in each of the seven stages I have described. Indeed, because they are not necessarily linear or discrete, you might recognize a little of each inside of you. My message to you today is therefore different depending on which stage most defines your experience at the present time.

If you are in the stage of Idealism / Something Wrong, my message to you is: You are right! The voices of normalcy are lying. Your perception of a more beautiful world is a true perception, not immaturity or youthful naiveté. So believe, and do not succumb to cynicism.

If you are in the stage of Refusal / Withdrawal, I congratulate you on your strength of spirit. That is what is behind your failures, in school, in career. Your refusal is valid, noble even, especially considering you may not even know what it is you are rejecting. And I affirm that underlying feeling: "I was not put here on earth to..."

If you are in the stage of Search, I can only offer you a paradox. You will not find what you are looking for by searching, yet only after searching will it find you. The search itself is a kind of ritual of supplication that will bring what you are looking for into your experience. Your efforts attract it to you, even though you cannot possibly find it through your efforts.

If you are in the stage of Despair, there is nothing I can do for you except to intensify it. You will never get your proof that something is there. Your logic is airtight. You certainly won't find it in this essay, or from me. You are in this territory for a reason, and the only way out is through, and part of the "through" is for it to seem that there will never be a way out, and even telling you this will not help.

If you have had the Glimpse of a new world, then my message to you is, Yes! It is real. It is not a trick. You were shown it for a reason, and would not have been shown it if there were no way to get there.

If you are walking the Invisible Path, I suggest that you trust yourself. What looks like a wrong turn is part of the path too. Trust your instincts, follow your guidance, and be brave. It is OK to make mistakes, even huge mistakes. Errors and wrong turns are part of the destiny of the pioneer.

If you have already Arrived, then I would like to invite you to take on a new job in addition to what you are doing already. When you interact with people on other parts of the journey, your job is to have complete confidence that they will arrive too, to know it so firmly that you know it for them even when they do not know it themselves. You see others as heroic and hold a space for them to arrive. This message also goes to that part of everyone that knows the new world and is witnessing your unfolding into it.

I would like to emphasize again that these seven stages are not a monotonic progression, and certainly not an ascension from ignorance to enlightenment. They are archetypes that project themselves onto our lives, often following each other in the order I have described but sometimes all mixed together. I myself could almost say that I experience all seven on a daily basis! You might move forward to Stage 6 or Stage 7, only to discover some incomplete remnant of an earlier stage to which you circle back for completion. In fact, Stage 6 includes all the rest, and the whole cycle of seven could also be called the Invisible Path.

On the Invisible Path, there are certain crossroads, waystations, resting spots where we encounter our fellow travelers and share in the mutual knowledge that yes, we are indeed headed toward a destination that is real. I would like for this to be one of those moments. In closing, I offer you a small poem describing my own experience of the Invisible Path.

Invisible Paths None of the roads go where I'm going. Promising paths lead nowhere. They twist and turn, And I arrive at my starting point Again and again. I strike out anew, And now even my starting point is lost to me. I see people walking, purposefully, And I follow them. They seem to know where they are going. Are they lost too? I cannot be sure.

They lead me to places, But I do not feel at home there. People look at me accusingly. I am unwelcome. Nor do I feel at home on these endless paths. Finally I stop. There it is! A light! I knew it. I knew it all along, But the path is invisible. I strike out through the darkness toward the soft glow of home.

The direction is clear but the light is distant.

An occasional glimmer illuminates my path for a second,

And then more darkness.

I feel my way through it,

Deep into unknown territory,

Leaving a new trail behind me.

I meet other wanderers and we share a fire

That promises of our destination.

We set off again, warm and purposeful.

The night is cold and dark and I am on my way.

Image by rileyroxx, courtesy of Creative Commons license.

6-17-08

KnowMore.org

http://www.knowmore.org/ Question Your Goods. Vote With Your Wallet.

*

[Thanks Annette!]

Ralph on NPR Taking Questions

Neil Conan: We're talking with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader here at the Newseum. I'm Neil Conan along with NPR Political Junkie Ken Rudin. If you'd like to join us, 800-989-8255 e-mail talk@npr.org. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's get a question from here in the Newseum. Patty: Hi, good afternoon. I'm Patty from San Francisco, California and as a retired public school principal I'd like to know your views on No Child Left Behind. And I'd also like to know what your education platform is. Ralph Nader: Well the way No Child Left Behind has been implemented is not good. First of all, there are too many tests. It ruptures the relationship between teachers and students -- they've got to have a test Tuesday and a test Thursday. They're the wrong kind of tests in my opinion: A, B, C, D, "None of the above." That's not the assessment test that I think are better evaluators They make teachers teach to the test. It's this frantic test mania. It creates unnecessary anxiety among children. So I'm against it. Teachers are against it too. A lot of people think it was underfunded and I think the key thing in environmental agenda for a presidential candidate is more decent facilities -- I mean a lot of these inner-city schools are crumbling, we have gleaming stadiums funded by you the tax payer in the same cities the schools, and clinics and libraries are crumbling. The second thing is decent pay for competent teachers. They should be assessed too. And the third is citizen skills, civic skills. We should teach students connecting the classroom with their town with their community so they can learn about the history, the geography, economics, government of their town and in the process learn citizen skills. How to use the Freedom of Information Act in your state, how to build coalitions, how to get information from City Hall. How to do comparative price analysis of staples in supermarket. That's what makes student learn indirectly reading, writing and arithmetic. I hope a lot of teachers will . . . push to replace No Child Left Behind with this kind or practical and down to earth and very exciting educational process. Neil Conan: Thanks for the question. Let's go the phones, line six, and Mike is with us from Boca Raton in Florida. Mike: Good morning or good afternoon. Mister candidate, considering what's happened since the year 2000, don't you think that your candidacy creates too much of a risk of unintended consequences based on your past performance? Ralph Nader: Well the social scientists who studied that say that [Al] Gore won the election, he won the popular vote. The electoral college stood in his way and the press investigations and others in Florida indicate, and Gore believes this, that he won Florida but it was taken from him before, during and after election day in all kinds of tricky ways that have been subject to documentaries and investigations, to the five Republicans in the Supreme Court who selected George Bush. I keep saying to Democrats "Look in the mirror Go after the thieves because they might do it again and there was a lot of shenanigans in Ohio -- the swing state that left Kerry behind -- Mike: You obviously can't win. Which of the two candidates would you prefer to be president. The other two candidates. Ralph Nader: The ones that are closer to the agenda of Nader - Gonzalez and we don't have time to go through a checklist but if you want to look at VoteNader.org we have a sheet which says these are the issues on the table for Nader - Gonzalez -- like full health insurance -- and they're off the table for McCain and Obama. It's quite remarkable how similar they are on about 15 major re-directions for country and the reason is they've been dialing too much for corporate dollars and they're too close to these corporate interests. Mike: Well you know, I'm all for anyone being able to run but candidly we can't stand another eight years of George Bush, McCain and that crowd. Ralph Nader: Nor can we. In fact if Al Gore picked up my withering criticism in detail of Bush's record in Texas when he was governor, he'd have won even over the obstacles that these Republican illegally put in his way.

Barred from Presidential Debates

As you know, Nader/Gonzalez is being blocked from the Presidential debates.

The corporate controlled, so-called Commission on Presidential Debates will not let any independent candidate in unless they show 15 percent in a series of polls in September.

That’s no surprise.

What is surprising is the failure of other debates to fill the vacuum.

Part of this is due to Senator Obama’s reluctance to engage his opponents.

On May 4, Obama told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that he was willing to debate with “any of my opponents about what this country means, what makes it great.”

But earlier this month, Obama’s campaign manager backed off, saying that Obama would debate only Senator McCain, and only in the three rigged debates sponsored by the two parties and paid for by major corporations.

Senator Obama has also refused to participate in a number of other debates — including the Google debate in New Orleans, the Ft. Hood, Texas debate that is being organized by veterans groups, and the series of ten town hall meetings proposed by Senator McCain.

Senator Obama’s refusal to participate is a mistake and is costing him in the polls.

Just yesterday, the Gallup tracking polls put McCain and Obama tied at 44 percent each.

If Obama doesn’t agree to more debates, he could end up at the end of a sentence that starts with Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.

With only McCain and Obama on the stage, there will be no debate of key issues and re-directions important to the majority of the American people.

Just go down the partial list:

Single payer Medicare for all health care — supported by the majority of the American people, the majority of doctors and nurses, and just recently, unanimously, by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Obama says no. McCain says no.

Reversing U.S. policy in the Middle East — Obama says no. McCain says no.

Cut the bloated, wasteful, redundant military budget — Obama says no, McCain says no. They want a bigger military budget.

Empty the prisons of drug possessors and fill them up with corporate criminals — Obama says no, McCain says no.

Nader/Gonzalez says yes — to each.

The only way to change this systemic exclusion is for millions of Americans to become engaged now.

Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions. Read other articles by Ralph.

This article was posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is filed under "Third" Party, Democracy, Elections

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Daisy, Tambu and Roman

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

PARAGUAY: "Today a New Country Is Born," Says New President

By David Vargas ASUNCION Former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo was sworn in Friday as president of Paraguay in a ceremony charged with emotion that broke with protocol, promising to rebuild this impoverished landlocked South American nation that was ruled by the rightwing Colorado Party for 61 years. "We are putting an end to the elitist and secretive Paraguay, notorious for its corruption. Today a new country is born, where the authorities will be relentless with those who steal from the people," said a visibly moved Lugo, addressing a crowd of around 20,000 people in the square in front of Congress, where he took his oath of office. Lugo succeeded President Nicanor Duarte of the National Republican Association, better known as the Colorado Party, which has been in power for six decades, including the brutal 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner, that ended in 1989. Instead of a suit and tie, in the ceremony the new president wore a simple white shirt made of "ao po’i", the Guaraní name for a traditional Paraguayan cotton fabric, and his trademark Franciscan sandals, underscoring the image of austerity that he has said would characterise his five-year term. A survey published Friday by the First Análisis y Estudios polling firm found that Lugo is beginning his term with a 93 percent popularity rating -- which was reflected Friday in the excitement of the crowd in front of Congress. "We have been waiting and hoping for change, broad-ranging change, for so long; we need more justice," a student, Marcos Baroja, told IPS. "I would like education to be available for all levels of society, especially the poor and dispossessed," said Juan Notario, who teaches in a school in the northern province of San Pedro, one of the country’s poorest, where Lugo’s work for over a decade earned him the nickname "bishop of the poor". Lugo is a proponent of liberation theology, a current in the Catholic Church that emerged in the 1960s in Latin America, based on a "preferential option for the poor" and a commitment to fighting social injustice. Analysts have also expressed optimism. Roberto Paredes, author of the book "Adónde Va Paraguay" (Where Is Paraguay Headed), told IPS that Lugo has outlined the major historical challenges faced by the country: "democratising national politics, developing local industry, and putting an end to the structurally unfair agricultural system." He also said the president has so far demonstrated an ability to bring together a wide range of sectors, besides his "immense capacity to listen," which contributed to weaving together the diverse coalition -- the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC), made up of 10 political parties and around 20 social movements -- that brought him to power. In his speech, the 57-year-old ex-bishop announced that he would help the country’s indigenous people recover their ancestral territory. "From now on, these lands will not only be sacred in their culture, but also in terms of enforcement of the law. No white person who buys or sells indigenous lands, who humiliates or persecutes indigenous people, will enjoy the impunity of the past. Crimes against indigenous people will no longer go unpunished," he said. According to the last census, there are 87,000 indigenous people in Paraguay, making up 1.6 percent of the population of six million. (By contrast, 95 percent of Paraguayans are of mixed-race -- predominantly Spanish and Guaraní -- descent). And while 35 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to official figures, native communities are the poorest of the poor. Lugo also reaffirmed his campaign pledge to put top priority on fighting poverty. He said he would "personally" take a hand in improving the lot of the army of street children cleaning windshields for a few coins or hawking candy on the streets of the capital. But with regard to solving this problem, he said "It would not be prudent or responsible to announce a timeframe. I don't know how long it will take to provide a response to this situation, and I don't know if we will be able to definitively do away with the monster of poverty, but I want you to know that the children will be the personal concern of this president." He also reiterated a promise made on Thursday before a crowd comprised of social organisations, indigenous people and peasant farmers, to renounce his 4,000 dollar monthly salary, with which he will create a social fund. He called on other politicians to join him in that endeavour. The change that is being ushered in "is not only electoral, but is a cultural wager as well, perhaps the most far-reaching in Paraguayan history," said the new president. Lugo, who recently received unprecedented permission from Pope Benedict XVI to resign as bishop, thanked the 11 presidents and numerous international delegations who attended the inauguration ceremony. "We welcome and support the diverse (regional) integration efforts already underway," he said, advocating "the search for concrete solutions to our common problems." The new government’s top priorities will include the fight against corruption, and economic recovery based on social equality. Relations with the rest of the region are another crucial aspect for the incoming government. Lugo has announced that he will renegotiate what he calls the "unfair" terms of the treaties governing the Itaipú hydroelectric plant, which is jointly managed by Paraguay and Brazil, and the Yacyretá dam, which is owned by Paraguay and Argentina. He also referred to immigration, a touchy question in Paraguay, which in the last few years has seen growing numbers of people heading to destinations like Argentina and Spain in search of a better life. He specifically addressed Argentine President Cristina Fernández, thanking her for the hospitality that her country has extended to Paraguayan immigrants, who are estimated to number more than one million. In addition, he referred to the more recent flow of migrants to Spain, where an estimated 150,000 Paraguayans, most of them undocumented immigrants, are now living. "We commit ourselves to dialogue with the aim of ensuring that migrants continue to be seen as brothers and sisters and are treated in a humanitarian and hospitable way," he said, alluding to the new European Union immigration policy that allows lengthy detention of undocumented migrants prior to deportation. Like the new Paraguayan administration, most of the governments in Latin America today are left-leaning. After attending the swearing-in ceremony, Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez commented that his government is committed to working with the new Paraguayan administration against the "asymmetries" that mark trade relations among the members of the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) trade bloc, made up of Argentina and Brazil along with the much smaller Paraguay and Uruguay. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet told journalists in Asunción that she and Lugo would "design an agenda" to bolster cooperation between the two countries. "We share the Latin American dream of seeing our countries develop in democracy, peace and prosperity, but for every one of its children, with the fight against injustice at the centre of our public policies," said the Chilean president. Argentina’s leader also committed herself to strengthening relations between her country and Paraguay. "If something characterises our country it is the profound regional integration that we are engaged in," said Fernández, while Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed his "respect" and "admiration" for the Paraguayan people. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, meanwhile, announced that a series of agreements would be signed with the Lugo administration, to increase his country’s oil exports to Paraguay.

By The Numbers

Jennifer Harper (Contact) Sunday, August 17, 2008 78 percent of Americans believe in God, 15 percent believe in a universal spirit, 6 percent are atheists.

89 percent of conservatives belive in God, 9 percent believe in a universal power, 2 percent are atheists.

62 percent of liberals believe in God, 24 percent in a universal spirit, 13 percent are atheists.

89 percent of Republicans believe in God, 9 percent believe in a universal spirit, 1 percent are atheists.

77 percent of Democrats believe in God, 14 percent believe in a universal spirit, 8 percent are atheists.

Source: A Gallup survey of 1,017 adults released July 28 with a margin of error of three percentage points.


Friday, August 15, 2008

What About Third Parties?

This article and the subsequent comments reminds me of this cartoon I saw when I was a kid...it's had lyrics that went... Spirits of amonia, We sneak up upon ya.' One good sniff, Will knock you stiff. [insert sound I don't know how to spell]

Zogby: 55% want Barr, 46% Nader, to join debates

From: http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/ A new Zogby poll finds that “More than half of likely voters nationwide — 55% — want Republican-turned-Libertarian Bob Barr to participate in presidential debates this fall, while nearly half - 46% — said they think Ralph Nader should be allowed into the on-stage fray.” Among independents, 69% said Barr should be included, “and a majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed. Among Democrats, 52% said they think Barr should participate, while 50% of Republicans agreed. Thirty-nine percent of Democrats and 41% of Republicans said they did not think Barr should be included in the debates. The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to say that Barr should be included.”

50 Dollars for 50 States

50 Dollars for 50 States .

Ralph Nader is the only Presidential candidate who has promised to campaign in all 50 states this year.

In the age of the Internet, Ralph is a believer in taking it directly to the people.

State by state.

And whatever Ralph says goes.

So, we’ve put together a grueling fifty state schedule for him.

But the gas bill is starting to bite.

So, please, help us out.

Drop $50 now on Nader/Gonzalez, the only campaign that will take it to all fifty states.

Already, Ralph has campaigned in 27 states -- Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.

And coming up in the next couple of weeks, Ralph will be traveling to:

Colorado -- for our Open the Debates Super Rally August 27 at the University of Denver Magness Arena.

Minnesota -- for our Open the Debates Super Rally September 4 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

And before and after those rallies to New Mexico, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. (That will put us at 34 states by September 8.)

Check the complete schedule here.

And come out and see and hear Ralph lay out the Nader/Gonzalez platform of shifting the power from the corporations back into the hands of the people.

Remember, if you donate $100 or more now, we will ship to you two DVDs -- a copy of the Patti Smith and Ralph Nader DVD -- Awake from Your Slumber -- autographed by Ralph -- and a copy of the best argument for a single payer health care plan -- Michael Moore’s Sicko. (Deadline for this offer: Wednesday August 20 at 11:59 p.m.)

So, give to your heart’s content -- up to the legal limit of $4,600.

Help power Ralph on his 50 state tour of the United States.

And help us reach our new fundraising goal of $50,000 by Wednesday August 20.

Nothing could be sweeter than investing in Nader/Gonzalez.

For a bright and just future.

Onward to November.

The Nader Team


Christina Georgina Rossetti - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Birthday My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water'd shoot; My heart is like an apple-tree Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these Because my love is come to me. Raise me a dais of silk and down; Hang it with vair and purple dyes; Carve it in doves and pomegranates, And peacocks with a hundred eyes; Work it in gold and silver grapes, In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; Because the birthday of my life Is come, my love is come to me. A Study (A Soul) She stands as pale as Parian statues stand; Like Cleopatra when she turned at bay, And felt her strength above the Roman sway, And felt the aspic writhing in her hand. Her face is steadfast toward the shadowy land, For dim beyond it looms the light of day; Her feet are steadfast; all the arduous way That foot-track hath not wavered on the sand. She stands there like a beacon thro' the night, A pale clear beacon where the storm-drift is; She stands alone, a wonder deathly white; She stands there patient, nerved with inner might, Indomitable in her feebleness, Her face and will athirst against the light. Dream Land Where sunless rivers weep Their waves into the deep, She sleeps a charmed sleep: Awake her not. Led by a single star, She came from very far To seek where shadows are Her pleasant lot. She left the rosy morn, She left the fields of corn, For twilight cold and lorn And water springs. Through sleep, as through a veil, She sees the sky look pale, And hears the nightingale That sadly sings. Rest, rest, a perfect rest Shed over brow and breast; Her face is toward the west, The purple land. She cannot see the grain Ripening on hill and plain; She cannot feel the rain Upon her hand. Rest, rest, for evermore Upon a mossy shore; Rest, rest at the heart's core Till time shall cease: Sleep that no pain shall wake; Night that no morn shall break Till joy shall overtake Her perfect peace.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

sickofitradlz.blogspot.com

... As I blogged earlier this week, my mother is now supporting Ralph Nader. (She was a very firm Hillary supporter and had decided previously that hse just wouldn't vote.) I really think there's a movement towards Nader's campaign right now. And there's movement in his campaign. Ralph's campaign office is open in Denver and C.I. includes a report on that (via Jess) so I'll just note this here: "Those interested in assisting can e-mail Junue Millan at junue@votenader.org as well as call the office (303) 832-2509 or walk in." Jess said Junue is a very nice guy and very patient and professional on the phone. If you're able to volunteer in any way, please contact him. Maybe you're supporting Nader and that's great. Or maybe you're undecided or supporting Cynthia McKinney or Bob Barr? If so, you should still consider helping out with the Super Rally because it is about the issues, the real ones, and it is about busting the two-party control of the debates. This is from Team Nader:

Impeach For Peace: RNC Planners Sued By Impeachment Group

RNC Planners Sued By Impeachment Group FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE St. Paul, Minnesota -- August 12, 2008 -- Impeach for Peace (IfP), along with others looking to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention (RNC), filed a lawsuit Friday with the help of the ACLU of Minnesota in Ramsey County District Court demanding our right to free speech. Plaintiffs include: Jodin Morey and Mikael Rudolph of Impeach for Peace, Colleen and Ross Rowley, and Ron Deharporte. Impeach for Peace is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization based in Minnesota with chapters in twelve states throughout the country working to achieve the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and holding them and future elected officials fully accountable under the Rule of Law. The RNC is having their election year convention in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. During this event, the St. Paul Police have decided to relegate most speech activities in what they call the ‘Primary Event Area’ to an inadequate ‘Designated Public Assembly Area’ or free speech zone. The ‘Primary Event Area’ remains to be fully defined by the police, making it impossible for people to know where in St. Paul they can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. At the convention, members of congress, mayors, governors, the President and Vice-President of the United States are expected to be in attendance. This provides IfP and other potential demonstrators with a unique opportunity to express their political messages to these governmental officials. The lawsuit alleges that the St. Paul City Council and police have created guidelines for the RNC which restrict free speech to areas that are “inadequate and unacceptably small.” The ACLU also alleges that the City Council/Police denied IfP their due process rights as stipulated in the Minnesota State Constitution by failing to give notice of their plans regarding free speech restrictions, which would have allowed for public comment and a public hearing. The ACLU also contends that the City Council/Police has also reserved the right to modify the guidelines at any time in ways that the ACLU contends are in violation of the Minnesota State Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to have the guidelines declared by the court to be in violation of IfP’s free speech rights, to have the Primary Event Area and the Designated Public Assembly Area clearly defined and officially released to the public, and to have the Designated Public Assembly Area include additional areas that are within sight and sound of the convention. John Choi, the St. Paul city attorney has said "These two represent an attempt by the plaintiffs to get another bite at the apple in state court." He continued that the city has afforded "unprecedented access and accommodations for the protesters." Mr. Choi is incorrect regarding IfP’s “bite at the apple,” as the plaintiffs on this lawsuit have not previously been a plaintiff in a lawsuit regarding their free speech rights at the RNC. There was a previous lawsuit with different plaintiffs, but it dealt primarily with a march planned, not the specifics of the Designated Public Assembly Area. Secondly, while Mr. Choi and Impeach for Peace may differ as to what is an acceptable amount of restriction on free speech, these differences could have been worked out if the city had engaged in its constitutional due process requirements. Those interested in IfP’s plans for the RNC, are invited to attend a meeting at Joe’s Garage on the north side of Loring Park in Minneapolis on Sunday, August 17, at 4 p.m. Hear our radio interview View the ACLU/RNC Complaint For more information please contact Jodin Morey, Cofounder of Impeach for Peace, at 612.328.1451. # # # Additional Contact Information: organizer@impeachforpeace.org minneapolis@impeachforpeace.org http://impeachforpeace.org

Open Letter from Cynthia McKinney

As the United States activated Navy ships and the Air Force to begin an airlift of non-specified goods into the former Soviet state of Georgia, and military exercises began in the Persian Gulf near Iran, I received communications from certain individuals among the Colorado Greens who were organizing campaign support events there, suggesting that I not participate in an anti-war program being organized by other individuals in Colorado. Perplexed, I began to do my research to understand the nature of the fissure that I seemed to be placing myself in the middle of. The communications to me about not participating in one of the scheduled events became more and more shrill. The events ran through August 26th. When the lineup of speakers, including Rosa and me, was announced for the events in question, I received multiple communications stating in various ways that the sender from the Green Party of Colorado, was on the verge of desperation over the matter. Within a few hours, I was reading messages stating that the Green Party of Colorado would be ruined if I participated in the End the Occupations/End the War march and rally slated to take place on the morning of August 24th on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, or if Rosa participated in a Freedom March and Rally for Human Rights and Political Prisoners at Civic Center Park the following day. An article appeared in a local Colorado newspaper stating that Rosa and I would not appear at the events for which we had been scheduled. Rosa responded to our Colorado Green Party contact that yes, indeed, we were appearing at the two events. Both Rosa and I then received messages demanding to know by a time certain what our plans were, and asserting that the Green Party of Colorado would be totally ruined if we associated with the group sponsoring the events. In addition, we were told that at least one resignation and sustaining membership would be tendered to the Party, and that Rosa and I could expect no support on the ground in Denver from the Green Party of Colorado, including a planned fundraiser and a place to stay. Without receiving any additional response or information from either Rosa or I, the correspondent sent a message informing us that all Green Party of Colorado events previously scheduled for us had been canceled. Further, the message stated that ballot access petitioning by Green Party of Colorado would cease in neighboring Wyoming and that all efforts would be made to remove Rosa's and my names from the ballot in Colorado. The message also noted that the Colorado delegation overwhelmingly supported Elaine Brown at the Green Party Convention. With the e-mail messages flying "fast and furious," I hope I have mentioned the highlights of this episode in somewhat chronological order. What Rosa and I would like to address now, is the ideological and rational order that produced this outcome. At the very first Green Party debate held in San Francisco earlier this year, I pleaded for unity of action and purpose as we face the challenges that confront us as a country. Rosa and I are proud to join with others who are sick and tired of war, occupation, human rights abuses, and the continued incarceration of our political prisoners. We are proud to join with others who are willing to do something about it. In the context of activities in Denver, that means cooperating with some organizations new to us and others with which Rosa and I have had a long-standing relationship. Let me explain some of those relationships. I am proud to have received a Backbone Award from the Backbone Campaign, one of the co-participants of the anti-war, anti-occupation events in question, according to the organizers. Rosa and I are pleased to have received the endorsement of M-1 of Dead Prez, who put out a video of endorsement and is rallying other conscious Hip Hop, Generation X voters to the Green Party with Rosa and I as its nominees. Rebel Diaz was on the stage with Rosa as she accepted her Green Party nomination for Vice President. Both Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz are participating in the events in question, according to the organizers. Fred Hampton, Jr.'s mother, a victim of COINTELPRO, came to Georgia in the mid-1990s to help me gain reelection after a malicious redistricting case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ward Churchill has traveled to my Congressional district to educate my former constituents on the COINTELPRO of yesterday and the COINTELPRO of today. Natsu Saito introduced me to other victims of COINTELPRO. I asked Kathleen Cleaver to co-author a report that was submitted to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of the World Conference Against Racism, on the unsolved murders of Black Panther Party members who were victims of COINTELPRO. Fred Hampton, Jr., Ward Churchill, Natsu Saito, and Kathleen Cleaver are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers. As a Member of Congress, I supported the release of all political prisoners and welcomed information from the American Indian Movement about Leonard Peltier. I have at many times in my political career been allied with the ACLU, and have always supported Pam and Ramona Africa and the MOVE Organization. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, King Downing of the ACLU, and Pam and Ramona Africa of MOVE are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers. Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed the Power to the People Campaign and my Green Party candidacy. According to the organizers, Mumia will transmit a message to all of us participating in the events in question. Finally, I have appeared on various stages with many Palestinians; I have proudly spoken at rallies organized by Larry Holmes. Debra Sweet with World Can't Wait was among the very first to my knowledge to organize around impeachment as an imperative and I support hers and all other impeachment groups in their efforts. And finally, I have known Ben Manski for a long time as a socially conscious activist who is also a member of the Green Party. According to the organizers, a Palestinian refugee is slated to speak at the events in question, as well as Larry Holmes, Debra Sweet, and Ben Manski. Rosa and I have not been given any rational, ideological, or strategically-acceptable reason by the Green Party of Colorado to dissociate ourselves from the movement that this country so desperately needs and that these individuals and organizations participating represent, as we all attempt to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its complicity in all of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Therefore Rosa and I will keep our appointments in Denver and we hope that the members of the Green Party of Colorado will attend our sessions and listen to what we have to say. I have faith that by taking principled stands against war and occupation, human rights abuse, the prison-industrial complex, and in support of freedom for political prisoners, the Green party will emerge stronger. Cynthia McKinney Green Party Nominee for President of the United States Rosa Clemente Green Party Nominee for Vice President of the United States

WernerErhard.com

[Thanks to Pierce for this link] ABOUT WERNER ERHARD

More than thirty years ago Werner Erhard introduced the breakthrough notion of “transformation” to the American public – a notion that created a clear distinction between change within an existing world view or frame of reference, and creating an entirely new world view. The notion of transformation subsequently came to be seen as a powerful, practical, and relevant resource in contemporary society. The ideas he developed have now found their way into societies all over the world. Read More...

Werner Erhard’s early study and work culminated in the creation of the enormously popular est Training which was retired in 1984 and replaced by “The Forum” a version of which program continues to be offered today. Millions of people have been influenced by Erhard's work through direct participation or the cultural change that occurred as thought leaders built upon and applied Erhard's thinking. Read More...

Werner Erhard continues to develop methodologies that provide individuals and organizations with means to design new contexts and paradigms – allowing them to think more independently and creatively, and to take more effective action. Read More...


Table For Six Billion, Please...The Sun Magazine Interview with

Judy Wicks On Her Plan To Change The World, One Restaurant At A Time by David Kupfer ... Kupfer: What did you learn from living with Eskimo villagers as a vista volunteer back in 1969? Wicks: The most important lesson was the indigenous philosophy of interconnectedness: how the survival of the individual depends on the survival of the whole group. This promotes cooperation and sharing. I was also impressed with the natives’ resourcefulness and ingenuity, how every little scrap was saved and used in some way. ... Subscribe to The Sun - The BEST magazine and no advertisements since the 70's when they started..!

Theory and therapy

[Thanks to nora for this link]

“Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the pieces. Collage was like an image of the revolution within me—not as it was but as it might have been.” —Kurt Schwitters

The CIA’s LSD experiment ended my father’s life and profoundly distorted my own. Even before I knew that LSD and the CIA were involved in producing these effects I had already begun a research program to counteract them. I was looking for a formative psychological technique that could exert a force opposite to the deformative one I could feel but whose source I could not yet locate and name—a sort of antitoxin for psychic trauma. I discovered such a technique in what I came to call “the collage method.”*

A medium whose essence is the overlapping of images, collage is literally based upon the logic of the coverup. In collage, however, this logic works not as a technique for blocking thought, but rather as a model of the mind’s fundamental process of representation and symbolization.

The story of this other research program functions as a psychological counterplot in the book I am writing. It crisscrosses the CIA plot in surprising and often ironic ways. In the course of my own search the collage method served several functions. I employed it as a detective's microscope in the search for a solution to the mystery of my father’s death, and as an open system for symbolic development, a psychological incubator that represented the converse of the CIA’s closed system of manipulative mind-control experiments. Having come to this technique largely in response to the trauma of my father's death, I think of the collage method as a serum extracted from a disease.

My book seeks to provide a bridge between an horrendous, shattering episode and a vision that transcends it. The aim is to move beyond both CIA scandal and personal trauma by making a contribution to historical consciousness and to psychological theory and clinical method. Collage figures centrally in this aspiration because this medium comprises a membrane between collective and individual representations, and between mind-control (enslavement to static images or to a pre-programmed, fixed code) and mental freedom (the capacity for continuous symbolization and psychic re-creation).

The collage process as symbolic re-creation.

The lattice-work of images in a collage readily suggests a maze in which one becomes lost or trapped. But the collage-process—the sequence of operations by which a collage is made and transformed—suggests a developmental spiral. A spiral is the form that, in Sartre's words, enables one to “pass again and again by the same points, but at different levels of integration and complexity.” Hence a spiral is the geometric form that represents the logic of development.

The capacity of collage to reconcile the notions of maze and spiral—and thereby to support the resumption of development—is not as surprising as it sounds. Historically these forms were not as distinct as they appear today. In ancient Greece both maze and spiral were subsumed in the concept of the labyrinth, which intially signified a spiral through which one could return after reaching the center. The idea here is that collage-making provides a model of open personal change based upon the notion of a re-creative spiral. The collage process transmutes the maze-like experience of personal fragmentation and disorientation into the media of personal renewal.

Discussion of the Collage Method continues: “Chaos, Creation, & Collage”

© Eric Olson, 2000


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Met The Walrus (John Lennon short film)

From: http://dedroidify.blogspot.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmR0V6s3NKk In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon's every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon's boundless wit, and timeless message. Posted by dedroidify

Who is Gloria La Riva

From: http://adams684.blogspot.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3R-aZf5QDk
Who is Gloria La Riva I don't hear of her at home She's running for president But the news leaves her alone And yet she knows her P's & Q's More so than the rest But we only hear McCain and Obama The talking parrots of the talking head Who push the other's war crimes And back Genocide instead! Think long and hard America Just what did Nancy do She sold you out And backed the NWO While pushin her book on you

CA Injured Workers Get Support From Nader And Gonzlez At CCWMD Press Conference

At CCWMD Press Conference On 8/1/2008, the California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day organized a speak out and press conference on and about the conditions of injured workers and their families in California. Two of the speakers who joined the press conference were Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez. They spoke of the destruction of OSHA and the systemic crisis for injured workers in the United States including the introduction of new technology in the workplace and environment without proper oversight.
Injured Workers Get Support From Nader and Gonzalez At 8/1/2008 CCWM Press Conference Injured Workers Get Support from Ralph Nader At 8/1/2008 CCWMD Press Conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcQQ12pwTf4 Injured Workers Get Support from Matt Gonzalez at 8/1/2008 CCWMD Press Conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmkaJTiqUq8 California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day http://www.workersmemorialday.org

Zi Ye

* All night I could not sleep Because of the moonlight on my bed. I kept on hearing a voice calling: Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered "yes." - Zi Ye, translated by Arthur Waley, *A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems*

Art giant Charles Blackman turns 80

AS he turns 80, Charles Blackman is almost the last man standing of his generation of artists. Boyd is gone, so too Nolan, Brack, Perceval, Tucker and Williams. Our conversation with the giants is almost at an end. In his Australian Painters, James Gleeson had this to say about Blackman: "There is nothing really mysterious about a Blackman painting -- only something very, very rare, for he is the most truly tender and warm-hearted of our contemporary Australian painters. By some trait of personality, he has been able to preserve a child's sensitivity to people and objects." Then there were years of alcoholism that injured his mind. We find him standing with friends at the Mossgreen Gallery in Melbourne. They are looking at a drawing he has done of a girl with a face in the knee, Girl and Angel. "People say, 'It doesn't make sense!"' he says. "I say, 'Nothing ever does when you make pictures'. What you do, is you use your imagination. That is what good drawing means to me." Blackman is celebrating his 80th birthday with a collection of more than 100 previously unseen works from his own collection, ranging from pen and ink drawings to bronzed maquettes and a tapestry. He is a small, gentle man, with tiny hands and mischievous eyes. ... Mossgreen director Paul Sumner observes that Blackman's most memorable images might be his depictions of schoolgirls in hats and shadows and vulnerable adolescents -- subject matter that modern society is still uncomfortable with, as the recent reaction to photographer Bill Henson's images is testament. Blackman says he followed the Henson controversy with interest. He thought there was nothing wrong with Henson's artistic purpose, although perhaps photography "doesn't quite arrive at the point of what art means". Blackman was born in Sydney in 1928, but his artistic career began in Melbourne in the 1950s in a loft above a stable in Hawthorn with paintings of interiors and childhood. He became famous for "psychologically evocative imagery centered on themes of childhood, femininity, alienation, fear and blindness". The only boy in a family with three girls, whose father walked out when he was four, he painted women, biographer Nadine Amadio wrote, "in a fashion rarely ventured by other painters reaching into the emotions, the dreams and the inner world of women". His first wife Barbara's blindness drew him into darkness, but resulted in imagery that was "both illuminating and disturbing in its intensity". It was as though he was making his art vibrant enough for the blind to see. Asked whether he is still working, Blackman responds: "Yes, of course I am. Why would I give it up? You do the drawing because it exists in the mind and the heart of the painter."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oceantry - by ellwort

I could succumb the deadly sin of envy. Love the ocean loving us back. The ocean is the bay of virtue. The ocean's our true mother – the wet consanguineous kiss and then the fond earth-embrace. Artichokes and wine! Excelsior! Seawater! Our very substance! -ellwort

Is Evo in Danger after the August 10 Referendum ?

[Thanks to Bob for this link] My impressions of Bolivia By MICHEL COLLON 11/08/08 "ICH" -- Bolivia has certainly changed. In La Paz, I attended a large reception given by the Cuban ambassador. Mojitos, buffet, dances... Where was it held? In the ceremonial hall of... the Bolivian army. Yes, the one that killed Ché. Bolivia has certainly changed, but not everyone wishes it well. We had come to get an idea first hand with some progressive intellectuals from about 15 countries. Frei Betto, Ernesto Cardenal, Ramsey Clark, François Houtart, Luis Britto Garcia, Pascual Serrano.. A few days of meetings and exchanges with Bolivian intellectuals, representatives of the Indian communities, artists... It's a sensitive moment. The rightwing is trying to split away the wealthy regions of the country's East. To frustrate this operation, President Evo Morales, in the middle of his mandate, has called for a revocatory referendum, this Aug. 10. It's a sort of vote of confidence. It puts his legitimacy in play, but also that of the prefects of departments, including those who belong to his opposition. The rightwing is trying to sabotage the referendum and people fear incidents... We will see who is behind these incidents, which role the United States plays, and the CIA, and a really strange ambassador, and also Europe.. Strong impressions Strong impressions. Physically, first of all. La Paz is at an altitude of 11,800 feet. Its airport at 13,100. We arrived in the night, short of oxygen, at the brink of passing out. Very attentive, the young people who welcome us have us sit down calmly, while they deal with our luggage and let us catch our breath. The first day will be devoted to rest and acclimatization. With Luis, a Venezuelan friend, we take a small tour, taking small steps from one bench to the next, in one of the most beautiful capitals of the world. Imagine an immense basin, bordered by the imposing mountains Huayna Potosí (20,000 ft.) and Nevado Illimani (21,200 ft.), not far from the lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake of the world. Here, water boils at 176° F instead of 212° F at sea level. And no street is flat. What is striking about La Paz, in winter in any case, is the gentle climate, sunny and fresh. And the gentle people. Everywhere, you are welcomed with kindness, with a kind of quiet serenity. Indians wear heavy clothing with superb multi-coloured shawls. And of curious small "bolo" hats, black, brown or gray. Sometimes, they also carry impressive loads. Two-thirds of the population are Indians. The importance of the Indian communities "An Indian president? The white racist oligarchy still won't accept it," Evo confides to us. I began to understand all the wealth of this Indian heritage while visiting with Bolivian friends in Tiwanaku, the capital of an old Incan empire... We are on the very high plateau of the Altiplano, bordered by mountains. Here, Indians live under difficult conditions, from farming and raising animals. Not a cloud in the sky, an incredibly pure air, you can still feel the nighttime chill. Tiwanaku was an immense city, whose excavations have hardly begun. A hundred local Indians are busy restoring the temple, an enormous pyramid in terraces. It was a very advanced civilization, which constructed its buildings based on a thorough knowledge of astronomy. It had created a metallurgical and textile industry. It cultivated more than 200 different kinds of corn and 400 kinds of potatoes, of which one species could be frozen and remain edible for ten years. The system of irrigation was very sophisticated with a very precise slope so that the stones would heat the water enough to prevent it from freezing. This system was so sophisticated that today the Agriculture Ministry will revive it to develop agriculture on the terraces. Water is rare here, a treasure. An Indian elder carries out a ritual ceremony with our group, a sort of sacrifice of small symbolic objects, to celebrate the unity with the cosmos and to gather the wishes that we form. Emotion. It is no about glorifying the past for its own sake, but to preserve the common memories and values and integrate them into the new society. A Bolivian journalist explains the importance of community here: "It is a strong element of Bolivia. Look here, according to international statistics, a Bolivian peasant has an average income of 50 dollars per year. You may as well say that he is dead! Except if one understands that the communal economy is the basis of our life here. " In short, it's an invaluable heritage that must not be lost. One Bolivian in four must emigrate Strong impressions also regarding social realities in this country. In La Paz, the upper classes live at the lower end of the city, below 10,000 feet, where one breathes more easily. Lower classes, on the other hand, in El Alto: at over 13,000 feet. Small trade, small craft industries, a little animal husbandry in the high plateaus... Life is hard. The second poorest country of Latin America, Bolivia has seen one of four of its children emigrate. Why? For centuries, this land was colonized by Spain. And all the benefit of its mining wealth, extracted at the cost of a murderous labor in semi-slavery, were carried to Europe. For decades, its gas and its oil benefited only a handful of rich people, but most of all some transnational corporations, especially European-based. The North bled the South thoroughly, leaving behind only misery. And conflicts. Evo Morales, president for two-and-a-half years, did not fall from the sky. His presidency is the fruit of long years of worker and peasant resistance. The Indian communities have always been exploited, excluded and scorned by a white racist elite, dependent on the United States and Europe. That's where poverty and underdevelopment arise. But when the Bolivians, to survive, take care of housework in Europe, they are treated like criminals and thrown into prison. Even children! Evo Morales courageously denounced the recent "Directive of Shame" which will make it possible all European countries to imprison the criminals, sorry, the immigrants, for up to 18 months. Precisely, before leaving, I met with immigrant workers in Brussels, in particular the Latinos and Latinas. In struggle for months to obtain papers, i.e., their rights, their dignity. Confronting ministers who completely ignored them, they had to risk their lives: hunger strike, climbing cranes... Since they greatly appreciated Evo's letter to the E.U., they asked me to give a small message of gratitude to the Bolivian president. I did. It brought a smile to his face. In fact, when you see the poverty here, the very low wages, the lack of industry, one understands why so many Bolivians must emigrate. But, when investigating further, one also understands that Europe is a dirty hypocrite who bears a heavy responsibility for this emigration. We will return to this later... What has Evo accomplished? But first of all let us take a look at what Evo accomplished in two-and-a-half years ... He nationalized oil and gas. Would you like to know why the corporate media calls the Colombian President Uribe "good" and Evo Morales "bad"? Very simple. The former cut the taxes of the transnational corporations from 14 percent to... 0.4 percent. To help these transnationals get installed locally under optimum conditions, the Colombian paramilitaries drove four million peasants off their land. The latter, Morales, in order to combat poverty, dared to return to the Bolivian nation the wealth it owned. By nationalizing its hydrocarbon resources, Evo multiplied the public revenues by five and gave himself the means for relieving the most urgent evils: illiteracy has dropped by 80 percent, a part of the children working in the streets have returned to school, schools teaching in the Indian languages Aymara and Quechua have been established (20,000 graduates), free health care is already available for half of the Bolivians, a "Dignity" pension for those over 60, credit with zero-percent interest for products like corn, wheat, soy and rice. Thanks to Venezuelan aid, 6,000 computers were made available, especially at schools. Thanks to Cuban aid, 260,000 people had eye operations. Elsewhere in Latin America, they would be condemned to be blind, because they are poor. Moreover, the public investments to develop the economy increased greatly. Bolivia eliminated its fiscal deficit, repaid half of its foreign debt (now down from $5.0 to 2.2 billion), reconstituted a small financial reserve, multiplied employment in the mines and the metal industries by four, and doubled the production and the incomes of these industries. The industrial GDP passed from $4.1 to $7.1 billion in three years. A thousand tractors were distributed to peasants. New roads were built. In short, Bolivia advances. Not quick enough, some say. For these people, Evo is not moving hard enough against the rightwing and the big landowners. It is a debate that must be carried out among those who live on the spot and can appreciate the situation, with all its possibilities and dangers. And by understanding that it is not enough to say "Do it" to bring a country out of poverty and dependence. By knowing that it is necessary to take account of the relationship of forces with the rightwing, which is agitating and sabotaging. By taking account of the army (Will all its generals be loyal to the government under all conditions?). Another negative factor: "The legal system remains completely corrupted," was confided to me by... the highest ranking magistrate in La Paz. "It is an old caste that protects itself and the interests of the rich. It's a business, truly. However, we have threatened the immediate recall of any judge caught in an obvious crime. But it is a difficult battle." And precisely, when I was there, the courts came rushing to help the rightwing by trying to prevent by a legal battle the holding of the referendum. But there is danger much greater than the legal system... Behind the rightwing, the United States prepares a civil war It is the new tactic of the United States. Finding themselves unable to win a war of occupation, Washington is resorting to indirect war, war by proxies. Currently, strategy of Washington is to try to foment a civil war in Bolivia. For that, the provinces controlled by the rightwing and which contain the greater part of the oil and gas reserves along with the large agricultural properties tied to the transnationals, these provincial regimes are multiplying their provocations to prepare to secede. Having personally studied the secret actions of the great powers to break up Yugoslavia (1), I made a point of drawing the attention of the Bolivians, during some interviews: today, Washington will try to transform their country into a new Yugoslavia. Here are the ingredients needed for this deed: 1. Massive CIA investments. 2. An ambassador specialized in destabilization. 3. Experienced fascists. With these ingredients, you can prepare a coup d'etat or a civil war. Or both. First ingredient. As in Venezuela, the CIA is investing a lot in Bolivia. Through its usual covers: USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, Republican International Institute, etc. The right-wing separatist organizations are abundantly subsidized. USAID, for example, financed Juan Carlos Orenda, adviser of the extreme right Civic Committee of Santa Cruz and author of a plan envisaging the secession of this province. But they also support the more discreet organizations charged to sow confusion and to prepare an anti-Evo propaganda. At the University of San Simon of Cochabamba, the Thousand-year Foundation received $155,000 to criticize the nationalization of gas and defend neoliberalism. Thirteen young Bolivian right-wing leaders were invited for training in Washington: $110,000. In the popular districts of El Alto, USAID launched programs "to reduce the tensions in the zones prone to social conflicts." Read: to discredit the left. In all, millions of dollars have been handed out to all kinds of organizations, student groups, journalists, politicians, judges, intellectuals, businesspeople. The Spanish Popular Party, around Jose Maria Aznar, takes part in these operations. Second ingredient. Where does Philip Goldberg, the current ambassador of the United States to Bolivia, come from? From Yugoslavia. Where he accumulated a rich personal experience in how to split a country apart. From 1994 to 1996, he worked in Bosnia for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, one of the strategists of disintegration. Then, he stirred up conflict in Kosovo and fomented the split between Serbia and Montenegro. An expert, you could say. And not inactive. As the Argentinian journalist Roberto Bardini tells it: "On June 28, 2007, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen, Donna Thi of Miami, was held at the airport of La Paz for trying to bring into the country 500 45-caliber bullets that she had declared to customs were 'cheese.' Waiting for her at the terminal was the wife of Colonel James Campbell, the chief of the military mission of the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg immediately intervened to obtain her release, saying that it was only an 'innocent error.' The ammunition, he declared, was to be used only for sport and show. In March 2006, another U.S. citizen, Triston Jay Amero, alias Lestat Claudius, a 25-year-old Californian, carrying 15 different identity documents, set off 660 pounds of dynamite in two La Paz hotels." (2) Why did the U.S. export Goldberg from the Balkans to Bolivia? To transform, I am sure, this country into a new Yugoslavia. Washington favors the method of promoting separatism to retake control of natural resources or strategic areas when governments act too independent, too resistant to the transnationals. Third ingredient. Experienced fascists. In Bolivia, Goldberg openly supported and collaborated with Croatian-origin businesspeople in the leadership of the secessionist movement. Particularly with Branko Marinkovic, member of Federation of Free Entrepreneurs of Santa Cruz (the secessionist province). A very big landowner, Marinkovic also pulls the strings of the Transporte de Hidrocarbures Transredes (which works for Shell). He manages the 3,750 miles of oil and gas pipelines that feed out to Chile, Brazil and Argentina. And when did these people come from Croatia? It should be recalled that, during World War II, the German leader, Nazi Adolf Hitler established fascist Greater Croatia where his collaborators, the Ustashis, set up death camps (including one especially for children!) that carried out a terrible genocide aimed at Serbs, Jews and Roma ("gypsy") people. (3) After the Nazi defeat, the Croatian Catholic Church and the Vatican organized "ratlines," paths for the Croatian fascist criminals (and for German Nazi Klaus Barbie) to escape. From Croatia in Austria, then onto Rome. And from there towards Argentina, Bolivia or the United States. (4) When it became known that Franjo Tudjman and the leaders of the "new" Croatia born in 1991 had rehabilitated the former Croatian World War II criminals, one would like to know if Mr. Marinkovic disavows all this past or if, quite simply, he employs the same methods where he is now. As for the United States, one knows that it rehabilitated and recycled a large quantity of Nazi criminals and spies of World War II. The networks are always useful. What hides behind separatism There. All the ingredients are ready to blow Bolivia apart... The dollars of the CIA, plus the experts in provoking civil wars, plus the fascists recycled as businesspeople. A civil war that would serve the interests of the multinationals, but that international public opinion must absolutely prevent. The Bolivians have the right to decide their fate themselves. Without the CIA. Because a secession would benefit only the elite. The Brazilian writer Emir Sader has just written very precisely: "Today, one of the methods that includes racism is separatism, the attempt to delimit the lands controlled by the white race, by adapting and privatizing the wealth that belongs to the nation and its people. We already knew these intentions in the form of the rich districts that sought to be defined as municipalities, with the goal that a share of the taxes taken by law from their immense richnesses remains under their control to increase the revenue to their split-off districts, behind which they sought to insulate and to use a privately controlled security apparatus to guard their privileged life styles.(...) The separatist referendum is an oligarchic, racist and economic device used because they want to keep the greatest part of the wealth of Santa Cruz for their own benefit and because the oligarchs want, moreover, to prevent the government of Evo Morales from continuing the process of land reform and extending all over the country." (5) This autonomy, indeed, that means that the rich white people who have always controlled Bolivia refuse to listen to the non-white majority in its West. When one speaks about autonomy, Evo Morales answers: "Let us speak about autonomy, not for the oligarchy, but for the people with whom we struggle. These separatist groups which have just lost their privileges were for a long time in the palace, they controlled the country and allowed the plundering of our country, our natural resources, including its natural resources, and the same with the privatization of our companies, and now they once again want to reestablish this system which exposes their true interest: economic control." But it's not only the United States that intervenes in Bolivia... The hypocrisy of Europe : who thereby caused, "all the misery of the world"? While hunting down undocumented workers, Europe slips into a sigh from the genteel nobility: "We cannot after all give succor to all the suffering of the world." Ah, well? But, actually, this misery, it is you who created it! Your Charles the Fifth, your Louis XIV, your Elisabeth I and your Léopold II happily massacred the "savages" to steal their wealth! This plundering was the basis of European capitalism's rapid economic growth. And today still your mining, agricultural and other corporations have not ceased to plunder the raw materials without paying for them, have not ceased dominating and deforming the local economies and blocking their development! Isn't it you who have the debt--to repay the South? Would this be dredging up the past? In the media, the Europeans in charge like to say that today, they want only the best for Latin America and the Third World... "Completely false," confided to me with indignation Pablo Solon, who represents Bolivia in the trade negociations between Latin America and the E.U: "Bolivia exp-lained it to the E.U. Before the negotiations, we had said that we would not negotiate a Free-Trade-style treaty. And we had communicated our points of divergence regarding services, investments, intellectual property and public property. The commission promised us that these points would be on the table during the negotiations. That in contrast with the "others," they would not try to impose a unique format on us. But, when we met with Peter Mandelson, European commerce official, he told us in a categorical and imperative way: 'This is a Free Trade Agreement. Accept it or you're out of the talks.' I answered personally that we were not going to exclude ourselves and that we were going to defend our points of view until the end. Because Bolivia has many industries which it must defend: steel, plastic, paper, which need mechanisms to protect themselves, as was done for the emergent European industries in the past." Indeed, Europe showed that it is hyper-dominating and arrogant. It claims it will impose on all of Latin America and the Caribbean the end of subsidies that help to develop the local products, the suppression of the import duties (but it refuses to do the same at home!), suppression of every limit for European exports (refusing the reverse), the transfer without limits of the qualified European labor, and the modification of all laws protecting the local economies. And moreover, the E.U. wants to impose the privatization of all state services, goods and enterprises. Although already in 2000, out of the 500 largest companies of Latin America and of the Caribbean, 46 percent already belonged to foreign corporations. And moreover, the E.U. wants to impose patents on living things (Bolivia has a very rich biodiversity coveted by the chemical and pharmaceutical transnationals). But aren't living things, and water also, goods essential for survival, an innate property that should remain with those who always protected them and used them with care? Ultimately, the E.U. wants to impose completely unbalanced treaties which will wipe out the Bolivian companies. All that it seeks is that the European companies can invade the markets freely. Thus they will ruin these countries. Thus they will provoke emigration. An absurd system, no? Who chooses immigration and why? I wrote that Europe drove out the Latino immigrants. That is less than accurate. Europe does not treat them all the same way. On the one hand, European bosses import the best brains of the Third World, and also the very qualified technicians. They are under-paid to increase company profits. It is what Sarkozy and others call "selected immigration". The boss selects those who will be likely to work for him. But this brain-drain deprives the Third World of people whom it taught (at great cost) and who would be necessary to its development. A new form of plundering. On the other hand, Europe also welcomes a part of the non-qualified workers. By leaving them without papers, therefore without rights, it forces them to live in fear, to accept wages and working conditions that constitute social reverses. It's an effective way to divide the working class and pressure the other workers. That's how the "competitiveness" of this virtuous Europe is manufactured. How Europe treats undocumented workers is no aberration, but an essential moving part of an economic system. To sum up: Europe stole from Latin America. Europe continues to steal from Latin America. It stops the continent from nourishing its children. But when those children are forced to emigrate, it imprisons them. Then, it offers lessons of democracy and morality to the whole world. The time has come I could not remain in Bolivia a long time, but these people deeply impressed me. I remember the thousands of demonstrators who went down, this Sunday, towards the center of La Paz, crammed into their minibuses, cars or taxis, Indians and whites, from the fairest to the darkest. With astonishing calm and much less noise than in any demonstration in any other part of the world. With a simple and noble determination. And in their eyes you could read a determination: the time has come to put an end to centuries of humiliations, the time has come for dignity for all, the time has come to make misery disappear. And I thought once again of those undocumented friends in Brussels, who also demonstrated for their future and their dignity. The problem is obviously the same one, in Brussels and La Paz: for whom must the wealth of a country be used? And if this problem is not resolved in La Paz, the millions of undocumented workers will continue to knock on Europe's doors. And tomorrow? How will this evolve? For August 10, an pro-U.S. polling institute, like the majority of my contacts in La Paz, predicted a victory of Evo with 60 percent. On the other hand, some feared the influence of the problem of the inflation and the increase in the cost of living. Still others fear that the rightwing will launch violent provocations. Whatever happens, the referendum itself will resolve nothing, neither in one direction, nor the other. Evo Morales will still face the same problem: the government is on the left, but it does not control the country's economy, nor its media (which is in the hands of the big landowners and the Spanish multinational Prisa), nor its universities, nor the Church, which is on the side of the rich as usual on this continent. One cannot do everything in two-and-a-half years. But, to advance, Evo will have to succeed more than even in mobilizing the popular masses. His only strength. In any event, after the referendum, the question will remain the same: will the wealth of the country be used to enrich the wealthy and the transnational corporations or to develop the country and overcome poverty? To resolve this question in its favor, Washington is ready to do anything. And the international progressive movement? How will it react against disinformation and the preparation of a civil war? The answer depends on all of us. Michel Collon La Paz - Brussels August 2008 Translation from French: John Catalinotto If you want to send to your friends, French and Spanish versions available at : [1] Test-media Yugoslavia y Kosovo, http://www.michelcollon.info/archives_testm.php [2] Roberto Bardini, el embajador de la secesión, traducción francesa vuelta a ver B.I., nº 133, junio de 2008. [3] Michel Collon, Liars' Poker, IAC, New York, 2002, p. 78 [4] Operación Ratlines, documental de David Young amargo Chanel 4 TVES, 1991. Citado en El Juego de la mentira, p. 83. [5] CEPRID, la CIA allí la oligarquía en contubernio contradijo a Bolivia, www.nodo50.org/ceprid/spip.php?article169

Monday, August 11, 2008

The People's Candidate

From: http://pacoenterprises.blogspot.com/ As Babalu points out, we don't absolutely have to choose between Obama and McCain. For example, how about Gloria La Riva? At least, with her in the White House, it'll be the leaders of other countries who'll be worrying about that 3:00 am call. By all means, click on the video; La Riva is quite the silver-tongued orator (if you watch closely, I think you can see a couple of bored robins fall out of the tree behind her). Posted by Paco

New research from the University of Minnesota examines consumer choice in changing markets

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton may do more for U.S. Senator Barack Obama than Ralph Nader did for Al Gore: she could give him an unintended boost. Clinton sought the presidency and then, unlike Nader, exited the race. New research from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management demonstrates that when an option enters and then leaves a market, the most similar remaining option -- in this case Obama -- stands to benefit. Whether it is political candidates or beer, health care plans or automobiles, when one attractive option becomes unavailable, people gravitate toward the most similar remaining option. In their paper "Could Ralph Nader's Entrance and Exit have helped Al Gore? The Impact of Decoy Dynamics on Consumer Choice," forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research, the University of Minnesota's Akshay Rao and co-authors William Hedgcock and Haipeng (Allan) Chen (both Carlson School alumni) show that the disappearance of an option from a choice set can increase the appeal of the remaining selection that is most similar to the now-absent option. This happens, they write, because consumers and voters attach greater importance to those issues or attributes on which the two similar options competed. "We found that the entrance and exit of a third option -- the 'Nader effect' -- can profoundly impact consumers' preference," said Rao. "The presence of the third alternative shifts the focus of the customer. Read the rest here...

Morales wins Bolivia poll

Bolivia's President Evo Morales has claimed victory in a referendum on whether he should continue in power.

Unofficial results gave Mr Morales a convincing win, and he promised to continue his reforms, including the nationalisation of key industries.

Four of six opposition governors, who have led protests against the president and demand more autonomy, also won the right to stay in office. ...

"We're here to move forward with the recovery of our natural resources, the consolidation of nationalisation, and the state takeover of companies," he told the crowd from the balcony of the presidential palace.

The president congratulated the opposition governors who were re-confirmed in their posts and urged them "to work together" with him.

Unofficial exit polls said Mr Morales had won more than 60% of the vote. Official results are expected in next few days. ...

Bolivia has become increasingly divided between rich and poor, east and west, over the president's plans to radically reorganise the way the country is run, says the BBC's Daniel Schweimler in La Paz.

Mr Morales wants to give poor and indigenous communities and women a greater voice, and he wants to redistribute land in what is South America's poorest country, our correspondent adds.

But many in the gas and oil-rich east of the country oppose the president's proposals and have responded by calling for greater autonomy from central government.

...


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Christ Ideas...

According to Seth, an entity channeled by Jane Roberts the story went like this... "The events as they are recorded, however, did not occur in history. The crucifixion of Christ was a psychic, but not a physical event. Ideas of almost unimaginable magnitude were played out. … Christ, the historical Christ, was not crucified … He had no intention of dying in that manner; but others felt that in order to fulfill the prophecies in all ways, a crucifixion was necessary. Christ did not take part in it. There was a conspiracy in which Judas played a role, an attempt made to make a martyr out of Christ. The man chosen was drugged – hence the necessity of helping him carry the cross – and he was told that he was the Christ. He believed that he was. He was one of those deluded, but he also believed that he, and not the historical Christ, was to fulfill the prophecies. …. The group responsible wanted it to appear that one particular portion of the Jews had crucified Christ, and never dreamed that the whole Jewish people would be ‘blamed.’ … Peter three times denied the Lord, saying that he did not know him, because he recognized that that person was not Christ. The plea “Peter, why has thou forsaken me?” came from the man who believed he was Christ – the drugged version. Judas pointed out that man. He knew of the conspiracy, and feared that the real Christ would be captured. Therefore he handed over to the authorities a man known to be a self-styled messiah – to save, not destroy the life of the historical Christ. … Christ knew however, clairvoyantly, that these events in one way or another would occur, and the probable dramas that could result. The man involved could not be swerved from his subjective decision. He would be sacrificed to make the old Jewish prophecies come true, and he could not be dissuaded. … This was all misunderstood. Christ then changed his mode of behavior, appearing quite often in out-of-body states to his followers. Before, he had not done this to that degree. He tried to tell them, however, that he was not dead, and they chose to take him symbolically. His physical presence was no longer necessary, and was even an embarrassment under the circumstances, He simply willed himself out of it. -Seth Speaks Seth, Jane Roberts

The Presidential Debate Racket

http://www.debates.org/pages/news_111909.html COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES ANNOUNCES INTERNET EDUCATIONAL PARTNERSHIP WITH MYSPACE Project results from collaboration with BBH New York, August 6, 2008 * http://www.debates.org/pages/news_111908.html COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES ANNOUNCES MODERATORS, August 5, 2008 WASHINGTON, D.C. - Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chairmen of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), today announced the moderators for the 2008 general election presidential and vice presidential debates. The moderators, and the schedule and locations for the debates (as announced on November 21, 2007), are as follows: First presidential debate Friday, September 26 The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss. Jim Lehrer Executive Editor and Anchor, The NewsHour, PBS Vice presidential debate Thursday, October 2 Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Gwen Ifill Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour, and Moderator and Managing Editor, Washington Week, PBS Second presidential debate (town meeting) Tuesday, October 7 Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn. Tom Brokaw Special Correspondent, NBC News Third presidential debate Wednesday, October 15 Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. Bob Schieffer CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, and Host, Face the Nation Each debate will begin at 9:00 p.m. EST. Format The format for the debates, announced on November 21, 2007, will be: * Each debate will have a single moderator and last for 90 minutes. * In the first and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, the candidates will be seated with the moderator at a table. * One presidential debate will focus primarily on domestic policy and one presidential debate will focus primarily on foreign policy. The second presidential debate will be held as a town meeting in which citizens will pose questions to the candidates. The vice presidential debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics. * During the first and third presidential debates, and the vice presidential debate, the time will be divided into eight, ten-minute segments. The moderator will introduce each segment with an issue on which each candidate will comment, after which the moderator will facilitate further discussion of the issue, including direct exchange between the candidates for the balance of that segment. * The participants in the town meeting will pose their questions to the candidates after reviewing their questions with the moderator for the sole purpose of avoiding duplication. The participants will be chosen by the Gallup Organization and will be undecided voters from the Nashville, Tenn. standard metropolitan statistical area. During the town meeting, the moderator has discretion to use questions submitted by Internet. * Time at the end of the final presidential debate will be reserved for closing statements. Participants The CPD 2008 Candidate Selection Criteria, announced on November 21, 2007, will be the exclusive means of determining the candidates to be invited to participate in the debates. For more information, please visit www.debates.org. ________ http://www.ballot-access.org/2008/08/03/commission-on-presidential-debates-retains-its-monopoly-this-year/ Commission on Presidential Debates Retains its Monopoly This Year ________ http://www.votenader.org/issues/presidential-debates/ In a memo by the CPD, the avowed goal for forming the commission was to "strengthen the two parties." ________ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7qA1w4E_as Let Ralph Nader Debate

ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE: NADER/GONZALEZ, PEACE & FREEDOM et.al.

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader and his vice presidential running mate Matt Gonzalez have won the California Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) nomination, thus claiming a slot on California’s ballot in November.

The political Left’s repeated charges of spoiler (the Right and Left’s embrace of one or another "spoiler" working to either’s advantage) I agree are ridiculous charges, claims and wishes.

It is far better to support a truly democratic system, a truly progressive participatory democracy, and equal justice under law. Such a system must have activists engaged, with equal access to air time; multiple, diverse, dissenting, different voices, parties, perspectives, points of view writing and affecting policy and politics, government and mass media, and every agency and institution of global and domestic society. Therefore, together with Cynthia McKinney’s and other independent and dissenting voices, thoughts, and proposals…

Nader and Gonzalez’s issues "on the table" deserve consideration:

Comprehensive, negotiated military and corporate withdrawal date from Iraq

Single-payer, Canadian-style, private delivery, free-choice public health insurance system for all

Living wage and repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act

No-nuke, solar-based energy policy supported by renewable, sustainable, energy-efficient sources

Carbon tax to deter global warming

End to the corporate welfare and corporate crime that has resulted in millions losing pensions, savings and jobs and squandered tax dollars

More direct democracy reflecting the preamble to our constitution which starts with ‘we the people,’ and not ‘we the corporations’.

Nader on criminal justice, war on drugs:

The criminal justice system is so badly broken one hardly knows where to begin describing the breakdown…

Almost endless resources—roughly $50 billion every year—pour into catching, trying, and incarcerating people who primarily harm themselves.

The approach to drug addicts, as with alcoholics and nicotine addicts, should be rehabilitation—not incarceration.

Resources could be better used to combat serious street and corporate crime that directly violates the public’s liberty, health, safety, trust, and financial well-being.

Nader and Gonzalez’s 12-point crack down on corporate crime and violence deserve consideration:

Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets:

The Department of Justice’s corporate crime division and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been chronically and pitifully underfunded and therefore do not have sufficient resources to combat the massive often reported corporate crime wave in the United States. This results in inadequate investigation, settlement of cases for weak fines and ignoring many corporate crime violators completely. There needs to be a strong corporate law-and-order will in the White House. Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts:

The U.S. should enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. The federal government spends $265 billion annually on goods and services. These contracts should not support corporate criminals. These standards should also apply to procurement contracts in Iraq.

Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance:

The U.S. should punish corporate tax escapees by closing the offshore reincorporation loophole and banning government contracts and subsidies for companies that relocate their headquarters to an offshore tax haven. The IRS should be given more power and more budgetary resources to go after corporate tax avoiders. Publicly-traded corporations should be required to make their tax returns public.

Democratize Corporate Governance:

Shareholders should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the corporate board of directors by opening up proxy access to minority shareholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Shareholders should be given the power to approve all major business decisions, including top executive compensation. Shareholders should be treated as the owners of the corporation—since, in fact, that is what they are.

Expand Corporate Disclosure:

Corporate sunshine laws should be enacted that require corporations to provide better information about their records on the environment, human rights, worker safety, and taxes, as well as their criminal and civil litigation records.

Rein in Excessive Executive Pay:

Shareholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Stock options—now accounting for about half of the executive compensation—should be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Tax deductions for compensation 25 times above the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation should be eliminated, as recommended by the famous business guru Peter Drucker. Insiders like Warren Buffett say excessive corporate executive pay is associated with inflated profits and other accounting deceptions.

Fix the Pension System:

Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. At a minimum we need to give workers a voice on the pension board; not require workers to stuff their 401(k) plans with company stock; and give workers the right to control their 401(k) plans. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.

Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors:

Repeal the self-styled securities reform laws that block defrauded investors from seeking private restitution, such as the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and bankers) to escape civil liability.

Regulate Derivatives Trading:

All over-the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, should be subjected to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on stock exchanges. Rules should be enacted regarding collateral-margin, reporting and dealer licensing in order to maintain regulatory parity and ensure that markets are transparent and problems can be detected before they become a crisis.

End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street:

Enact structural reforms that separate commercial and investment banking services and prevent other costly, documented conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks and security firms in recent years.

Track the Extent andCost of Corporate Crime:

The Department of Justice should establish an online corporate crime database. Also, just as the FBI issues an annual street crime report, ‘Crime in the United States,’ it should also publish an annual report on corporate and white collar crime with recommendations.

Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power:

Establish a Congressional Commission on Corporate Power to explore various legal and economic proposals which would rein in unaccountable giant corporations. The Commission should seek ways to improve upon the current state corporate chartering system in a world of global corporations and propose ways to correct the inequitable legal status of corporations as ‘persons.’ The Commission would be led by congressionally-appointed experts on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold citizen hearings in at least ten cities followed by a public report and recommendations.

Government controlled by private economic power is fascism

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in a 1938 message to Congress calling for a similar inquiry—The Temporary National Economic Commission.

Peace and Freedom Party on the Peace and Freedom Party

The Peace and Freedom Party, according to its website, was established in the Vietnam war era, June 23, 1967, "by people who wanted to vote for something they could support.

The Democrats were leading the nation in the war against Vietnam. As the military drained the domestic economy, Republicans and Democrats called for ‘law and order’ to repress Americans who wished to improve their own lives. Black militants were rising up angrily in the cities, while Filipino and Latino farm workers were organizing labor unions in the fields. Women were agitating for full equality with men. These forces of discontent united to create an electoral arm of ‘The Movement.’

A massive voter registration drive placed the Peace and Freedom Party on the California ballot in January 1968. On both the state and national levels, we have shown a willingness to work with other like-minded groups, trying to build a mass based socialist party throughout the country…

"The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society. We organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition, a world where all people are well fed, clothed and housed; where all women and men have equal status; where all individuals may freely endeavor to fulfill their own talents and desires; a world of freedom and peace where every community retains its cultural integrity and lives with all others in harmony."

Sources: "Nader Calls For Crackdown on Corporate Crime, Reversal of So-Called War on Drugs" August 8, 2008: http://www.votenader.org/media/2008/08/08/CorpCrimeWarOnDrugs/ http://www.votenader.org/media/2008/08/02/PFPnomination/ http://peaceandfreedom.org http://www.votenader.org/media/2008/07/15/McKinney/ "Nader/Gonzales 2008" August 6, 2008, GunsandButter.net: Guns & Butter investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics."

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Written by cwriter85

Mickey Z LIVE!! Bringing Sexy Back To Radical Politics

From: http://www.amovingtrain.com As many of you know I ventured up to New York City late last week to put my new camera to good use filming “Radical America’s Homeboy” Mickey Z in Astoria. I’m so happy I went. I got to meet actual “expendables” Keir and James in the human freaking flesh! I met up and coming folk machine Val Turner (Bonus alert: mega-cute!) And, yes comrades, I met Michele and Mickey Z. I can safely report that Mr. Z is in fact the real deal and seeing the two of them as such a revolutionary, genuine and yet tender duo was an inspiration.

[Warning: don’t ever fuck with Zed in Michele’s presence. Yes, Mickey is like a ninja or whatever, but every time someone got too loud upstairs during his talk she turned into like a mama freaking Grizzly! Viva.]

As goofy as the above imagery is, I request that you watch all of the following videos in there entirety and straight through. It builds nicely. It is funny, tragic, heartbreaking and inspiring, (he didn’t call it “Stand-Up tragedy” for nothing!) So here it is and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of:

“Myth America: war, elections and our way of life”


Ralph Nader on the Death Penalty


...

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Chiquita Board Members: Total Identification

When I joined the board, I knew the company was making payments to paramilitary groups in Colombia.1

For more than six years, from 1997 to February 2004, Chiquita Brands International, through its subsidiary in Colombia, Banadex S.A., made monthly payments to the paramilitary structures in the regions of Urabá and Santa Marta, which resulted in more than 100 payments for more than $1.7 million dollars. Chiquita Brands began to make these payments in 1997, following a meeting between then paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño and the then Banadex general manager. The payments were transferred in part through the Papagayo Convivir.2 It should be recalled the US Secretary of State designated the AUC paramilitary structure as a foreign terrorist organization on September 10, 2001, which made it a crime according to US law for any citizen to knowingly provide material support and resources to said organization.3 This financing, which turns Chiquita Brands into one of the founders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC by its initials in the Spanish language), propelled the massive commission of crimes against humanity and grave human rights violations committed by paramilitary organizations in these two regions, including forced displacement, homicide, torture, and forced disappearance, among other crimes.4

Within this context, on November 5, 2001, 3,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 5 million 5.62 mm caliber rounds of ammunition were unloaded and entered into Colombia from the ship named Otterloo. These weapons were unloaded in the port of Zungo, specifically on the docks of Banadex S.A., from where the weapons were taken on 14 trucks to paramilitary organizations in Córdoba and Urabá. Then paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño publicly admitted that this incident consisted in “his best goal.”5 Most of these weapons were also never surrendered as part of the paramilitary demobilization process undertaken between 2003 and 2006. On January 16, 2008, the continuation of these crimes sponsored and encouraged by Chiquita Brands was exposed when 47 AK-47 assault rifles — apparently from the very same Otterloo — were confiscated by the Colombian national police from the paramilitary organization led by the “demobilized” Daniel Rendón Herrera, aka Don Mario, older brother of the former paramilitary chief Freddy Rendón Herrera, aka El Alemán.6

In addition to being sustained in both the Colombian and US judicial systems, the relationship between Chiquita Brands International and the paramilitary structure in Colombia — and therefore the responsibility of this enterprise in the commission of multiple crimes against humanity and grave human rights violations — has been further corroborated over the last year by such paramilitary chiefs as Salvatore Mancuso Gómez, aka Santander Lozada, Freddy Rendón Herrera, aka El Alemán, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, Nodier Giraldo Giraldo, aka El Cabezón or Jota, and Éver Veloza García, aka HH.7

On September 17, 2007, Chiquita Brands International pled guilty to the felony of “Engaging in Transactions with a specially-designated Global Terrorist” before the US District Court for the District of Columbia and was sentenced to paying 25 million dollars to the US Department of Justice. According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, the Court specifically determined that Chiquita’s payments to paramilitary organizations were “reviewed and approved by senior executives of the corporation, including high-ranking officers, directors and employees.” Additionally, the Court considered that, by no later than September 2000, Chiquita’s senior executives were informed that “the corporation was paying the AUC and that the AUC was a violent paramilitary organization led by Carlos Castaño.” Furthermore, a Chiquita attorney conducted an investigation into the payments in August 2000 and prepared a report, which made clear the “Convivir was merely a front for the AUC and described the AUC as a ‘widely-known, illegal vigilante organization.’” Lastly, this same in-house attorney “presented the results of his investigation to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors during a meeting in defendant Chiquita’s Cincinnati headquarters in September 2000.”8 In exchange for accepting this responsibility, the Court decided not to prosecute criminal charges or to identify the individual responsibilities of the implicated directors, which also opened the door to move forward the criminal cases in Colombia as well as the eventual extradition of the responsible parties.

As a result of the aforementioned, since more than a year ago, different senior government officials and politicians from both Colombia and United States have repeatedly have made statements in favor of the investigation and extradition of Chiquita Brands’ senior officials and officers.9 The Colombian Attorney General’s Office has even allegedly taken action in this respect. According to the Union-Tribune of San Diego (USA), on March 20, 2007, the Colombian Attorney General said he would demand the extradition of “eight people allegedly involved with Chiquita’s payments.”10 Although no one was identified at the time, attorney general Mario Iguaran Arana asserted that “[t]hey should be judged in Colombia, not only for the extortion payments, but also for the transport and safekeeping of 3,000 rifles.”11 Then, on December 7, 2007, the El Tiempo newspaper reported that the Attorney General’s Office issued an order to call the following Chiquita board members to make statements under charges for conspiracy to commit an aggravated crime and the financing of illegal armed groups: ROBERT W. FISHER, STEVEN G. WARS, CARL H. LINDER, DURK I. JAGER, JEFFREY D. BENJAMIN, MORTEN ARNTZEN, RODERICK M. HILLS, CYRUS F. FREIDHEIM Jr., and ROBERT OLSON.12

Nonetheless, in April 2008 attorney general Mario Iguaran Arana alleged that the extradition process could not yet be carried out due to not having “identified and charged” the implicated persons. “There are indeed some Chiquita Brands directors, but we are not able to ask for them in extradition, rather we have to have some information contained in the agreement reached with the US court that includes a confidentiality agreement,” asserted Iguarán.13

This last statement is even more surprising when it is taken into account that since the beginning of January 2008 Case Number No. 63.625 was filed before the Attorney General’s Office, which provides specific information on the identities of the Chiquita directors, executives, and senior employees implicated in this case as the responible parties for the payments or the provision of weapons to paramilitary organizations, and as the alleged instigators and sponsors of crimes against humanity and grave human rights violations committed by these same organizations.14

Moreover, there are not only “eight people allegedly involved with Chiquita’s payments” that should be investigated. Due to their positions in management, auditing, finances or operations, at least 14 directors, executives and senior employees of Chiquita Brands International should be investigated and requested in extradition, namely CYRUS FREIDHEIM JR., RODERICK M. HILLS, ROBERT OLSON, MORTEN ARNTZEN, JEFFREY D. BENJAMIN, STEVEN STANBROOK, DURK I. JAGER, JAIME SERRA, ROBERT F. KISTINGER, JAMES B. RILEY, ROBERT W. FISHER, CARL H. LINDNER, KEITH LINDER, and STEVEN WARSHAW.15

Based on the previously described events, we demand the Attorney General Mario Igaurán carry out the corresponding legal proceedings to bring about the prosecution, capture, and extradition of the previously mentioned persons from Chiquita Brands International for the crimes committed in Colombia due to their involvement in the financing of the paramilitary structure and the introduction of weapons.

The Attorney General’s Office clearly does not need to wait for the United States to respond to its request in order to make progress in the investigation of the persons most responsible for the crimes committed. The Attorney General’s Office should take effective and timely measures that reflect its will in the fight against impunity; these actions should be supported by the respective administrative and judicial functionaries from both countries.

Following is a list of the implicated persons from Chiquita Brands:

Cyrus Freidheim Jr., chairman of the board of directors, chief executive officer, and chairman of the executive committee from March 19, 2002,16 until May 25, 2004.17

Roderick M. Hills, director and president of the audit committee from March 19, 2002,18 until June, 2007,19 legal counsel to then President Ford in 1975, and president of the board of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1975 to 1977.20 According to the Los Angeles Times, on December 22, 2003, he stated before the board of directors, “we appear to [be] committing a felony.”21

Robert Olson, vicepresident, legal counsel, and secretary from 1995 until August 31, 2006.22 According to the Washington Post, on April 3, 2003, Robert Olson told others on the board of directors that he and Hills thought the company had a strong defense and simply should let the Justice Department “sue us, come after us.”23

Morten Arntzen, director and member of the audit committee from March 19, 2002,24 up to the present.25 According to the Wall Street Journal, the Norwegian-American Morten Arntzen knew of the payments in April 2002, one month after joining the board. “When I joined the board, I knew the company was making payments to paramilitary groups in Colombia,” stated Morten Arntzen.26

Jeffrey D. Benjamin, director and member of the executive and audit committee27 from March 19, 2002, until February 6, 2007.28

Steven Stanbrook, director and member of the executive committee29 from December 21, 2002,30 up to the present.31 Stanbrook was also a member of the audit committee from 2002 to 2004.32

Durk I. Jager, director33 from December 200234 up to the present,35 and member of the audit committee from 2005 up to the present.36 Jager, a Dutch national, worked with Proctor & Gamble from 197037 to 2000, when he resigned from the board of directors.38

Jaime Serra, director from February 200339 up to the present.40 Serra, a citizen of Mexico, was the deputy secretary of the Treasury, secretary of Commerce and secretary of Finance of Mexico.41

Robert F. Kistinger, has held such positions as president, chief operating officer, director, member of the executive and audit committees, among other positions, since 1999. He has been with Chiquita for more than twenty years.42

James B. Riley, vice president and chief financial officer from 200143 to September 2004.44 Robert W. Fisher, director and chief operating officer from March 19, 2002,45 up to the present.46 From 1991 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1998, Fisher was the chief operating officer of the Noboa Group’s banana operations. Before joining the Noboa Group, Fisher spent 25 years at Dole Food Company, including the last four as president.47

Carl H. Lindner, president of the board of directors from 1984 until March 2002 and chief executive officer from 1984 to August 2001.48 According to the magazine Mother Jones, from 2000 to 2004, he was largest private donor to political parties in the Untied States.49

Keith Linder, son of Carl H. Lindner, vice-president of the board of directors and member of the executive committee from 1996 to 2000.50 Steven Warshaw, executive committee, president, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer from 1996 to 2000.51


The radical nature of love. (Part 1/2)

From: http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com

It has been recognized in the past that love is radical in nature. One of the most famous Anarchists, Leo Tolstoy, believed strongly in the principle of love. In his famous letter to a Hindu editor which eventually reached the eyes of Gandhi, he writes:

As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence-as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual. Do not resist the evil- doer and take no part in doing so, either in the violent deeds of the administration, in the law courts, the collection of taxes, or above all in soldiering, and no one in the world will be able to enslave you.

Tolstoy makes a point about resistance against evil, but most importantly, he states that the law of love is so radical that it must necessarily exclude all participation in violence. He also states that most people do not fully believe in love because they are deluded by collectivist propaganda:

Thus it went on everywhere. The recognition that love represents the highest morality was nowhere denied or contradicted, but this truth was so interwoven everywhere with all kinds of falsehoods which distorted it, that finally nothing of it remained but words. It was taught that this highest morality was only applicable to private life-for home use, as it were-but that in public life all forms of violence-such as imprisonment, executions, and wars-might be used for the protection of the majority against a minority of evildoers, though such means were diametrically opposed to any vestige of love… And such a teaching, despite its inner contradiction, was so firmly established that the very people who recognize love as a virtue accept as lawful at the same time an order of life based on violence and allowing men not merely to torture but even to kill one another.

He applies this to religious thinking, but it equally applies to our modern democracies. On the one hand, we hear preaching that the State is necessary to enforce moral behaviour, and on the other hand we hear countless rationalizations for “imprisonment, executions, and war.” What Tolstoy is saying is that you cannot accept love as virtuous but support institutions and systems that are its opposite- practicing, as he puts it, “the restraining of evil by violence.” In short, coercion, forcible domination, or in a word, control. The opposite of love is control.

This may seem counter-intuitive. Isn’t the opposite of love, hate? Not at all: in fact, love and hate both imply a number of premises. The more premises you share, the less opposite you are. Think about it this way. What is the opposite of a Republican? Not a Democrat, since they both share most of their premises. They both believe in government, in democracy, and in the rule of law. They both believe in the same game. The opposite is someone who does not believe in the game, but rather fights against it: someone who shares the least premises, and the most opposite premises. This, of course, means an Anarchist.

Are fans of the Montreal Canadiens and fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs opposite? No, they both believe in the game, they both revere its former and current stars, and they believe in cooperation within the rules of the game. The opposite of any hockey fan is someone who actively opposes the sport of hockey, who attacks those common principles and values.

Likewise, both love and hate are emotions we feel towards people we look at from the outside. The “game” here is human relations: whether we love or hate people, we see them as independent entities with their own values and will, and we judge those values and will. The only way to oppose the game is to destroy the concept of human relations with the use of force and intimidation, and treat others as extensions of ourselves: in short, control.

All our popular political ideologies are based on control, of which “might makes right” is merely a pragmatic rationalization. Whether it is democracy, oligarchism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, or communism, all of these ideologies are based on the implicit premise that one should seek to control one’s fellow man in order to bring about a given outcome, that there exists a primacy of outcomes over free will. Most people don’t even think about free will at all, preferring to simply see others as extensions of themselves.

This is of course sociopathic, sociopathy being diagnosed by the APA as “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others,” this definition fitting statism very well, especially if you go into details (and as the movie The Corporation pointedly highlights, also fits capitalism quite well). Well, at any rate, since everyone thinks in terms of control, we don’t recognize the sociopathy for what it is, all we see is people playing the political game that everyone else is playing.

And in this discussion I include all the socio-Anarchists who believe in establishing their own democratic political order. They may call themselves leftists, but in this case Gary Lloyd’s maxim applies equally well: “When the government’s boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence.” It matters very little whether one’s society is being exploited by a capitalist-democratic system or a socialist-democratic system.

Insofar as we are Anarchists, we should seek to eliminate control as a whole, not merely the State or corporations. But when ten people vote to expropriate one, without his prior consent to the system, is this not control? Benjamin Tucker proposed this litmus test to see if someone is an Anarchist:

Do you believe in any form of imposition upon the human will by force?

But you see that we can ask this even more succinctly: “Do you believe in control?” An Anarchist, therefore, according to Tucker, is someone who refuses to use control and therefore follows the law of love, and a statist is someone who seeks to control.


Alexander Wants Common U.S.-Mexican Currency: Basic Income Guarantee

V.P. Candidate Alexander Wants Common U.S.-Mexican Currency “Working People need a Basic Income Guarantee” Stewart A. Alexander Nominee for Vice President Socialist Party USA August 10, 2008 During a decade when border issues between the U.S. and Mexico have intensified and the Democrats and Republicans have gone on the attack against immigrants, Vice Presidential Candidate Stewart A. Alexander is proposing a common U.S.-Mexican currency and establishing a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) for working people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. To accomplish his goal, Stewart Alexander says it will be necessary to restructure the entire banking industry; all banking and financial institutions would be socially owned, and operated by a North American Banking Authority that would be democratically controlled. Alexander says creating the banking authority and a common currency would be the first step toward creating a basic income that would benefit working people on both sides of the border and eventually benefiting hundreds of millions of working people throughout the entire western hemisphere. Alexander has closely studied the economic models introduced by the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies; and according to the CSDS and Dr. Robley E. George, the CSDS Director, “Each participant in this democratic socioeconomic system would know that, regardless of what he or she did or did not do, a democratically determined Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) would always be available.” This concept is a very important element in Alexander’s economic platform. According to Alexander, a basic income is necessary to meet the basic needs of the poor and homeless; it would also insure that the basic needs of seniors and all working people are met. For students, a Basic Income Guarantee would remove the tremendous burden of having to work long hours and would provide more time for students to obtain a higher education. The concept of a Basic Income Guarantee has been embraced by socialists worldwide. Alexander says, “It is unfortunate that the Democrats and Republicans are now building a $50 billion fence on the U.S.-Mexico border; it has divided families and is severely straining our relationship with Mexico. The goal of Socialist Party USA, and our Presidential Candidate Brian Moore, is to build a stronger bond with ours neighbors to the south and a Basic Income Guarantee will help to resolve many of the issues involving immigration.” For more information search the web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Alexander Dismisses Economic Plans of Obama and McCain. http://banderasnews.com/0712/edop-strongerties.htm http://www.banderasnews.com/0702/eded-borderfence.htm http://labs.daylife.com/journalist/stewart_a._alexander http://StewartAlexanderCares.com http://www.vote-socialist.org/ http://www.sp-usa.org/ http://www.politics1.com/p2008.htm

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Alice in Quantum Land

A Quantum's Eye View by Peter Russell

A Quantum's Eye View

“Good morning, Alice,” a voice said. Or at least it seemed like a voice.

Alice rubbed her eyes. She'd fallen asleep in the orchard, and had been dreaming of tea parties with singing cakes and dancing oysters. She rubbed her eyes and looked around, but there was no one in sight. Had the voice been in the dream, she wondered? Or maybe she was still dreaming. She'd caught herself enough times in that trap, thinking she had woken up, only to discover she was still dreaming. It always annoyed her.

“Good morning, Alice.” There it was again. But where was it coming from? Alice had become used to voices that came from strange and unexpected places, or were disconnected from the people or things who were speaking, but not voices that came from nowhere.

“Good morning,” replied Alice cautiously but politely, not wanting to upset whoever, or whatever, this might be. “Who are you? Or more to the point, where are you?”

“I'm a quantum,” the voice continued. “You've been hearing a lot about quantum physics and all the strange conclusions that it leads to in your world, so I thought it was time you heard from me, and got a picture of how the world looks from a quantum's point of view.

“As to where I am, I am everywhere and nowhere. Always and nowhen.”

Alice knew better than to let her mind be worried by paradox. Just about everything she had heard so far was paradoxical in some way or other, and trying to understand paradoxes was bound to lead to even greater confusion.

“Let me introduce myself,” it continued, “and all the other zillions of quanta in the universe, for in many ways we're all exactly the same.

“Each of us is the smallest possible packet of energy in the universe. Any transfer of energy, whether it be from one electron to another in an atom, or from the sun to your skin, involves a whole number of us quanta. There may be 1, 2, 5, 117, or 19,387,463,728 of us, but never half a quantum or three-and-a-quarter quanta. That would be like you having a conversation with half a person, or three-and-a-quarter people.”

Alice wondered whether she could imagine having a conversation with three and a quarter people. Three-and-a-quarter bodies, perhaps -- she'd met stranger situations than that -- but three-and-a-quarter people, she was not so sure. But before she had a chance to try imagining a fraction of a person, the voice from nowhere was back.

“In your world you also call us photons -- the smallest unit of light.

“Now when I speak of light, I am talking not just of the visible light you see with your eyes; I mean the whole spectrum of electromagnetic radiation of which visible light is just one tiny range of frequencies. At higher frequencies are ultraviolet light, X-rays and, beyond them, gamma rays. At lower frequencies you find heat waves, and at the lowest frequencies of all, radio waves. All of them are just different frequencies of light. And they are all composed of photons, each one a single quantum.”

“Then why did you say you were all the same?” asked Alice. “Light has many different colors; heat I can feel on my skin; and I've been told to keep well clear of gamma rays. They all seem very different to me.”

“That is because the energies we carry vary enormously. The higher the frequency, the higher the energy. A gamma-ray photon, for example, packs billions of times more energy than a radio-wave photon. This is why gamma rays, X-rays, and even ultraviolet rays to some extent, can be so dangerous to you. When these photons hit your body, the energy released can blow apart the molecules in a cell. When heat radiation is absorbed by your skin, the energy released is much, much less, and all it does is warm you up a little.

“However, although our energies vary enormously, there is one thing about us that is always the same. We all, each and every one of us, possess exactly the same amount of action.”

“What,” Alice was about to say, “is action?” But before she had even finished thinking “What,” the quantum said, “I thought you might ask that.

“You're familiar with the terms mass, velocity, momentum and energy, I presume?”

“Yes,” thought Alice. She remembered learning about them at school.

“And you learned how they relate to each other. An object's momentum, for example, is its mass multiplied by its velocity. And work is energy multiplied by distance. Action is just another one of these qualities, but it is not one you normally hear about at school.”

“The amount of 'action' in any action is defined as the object's momentum multiplied by the distance it travels. Or it can also be expressed as the object's energy multiplied by the time it is traveling.”

“Imagine someone throwing a ball.” Suddenly, out of nowhere, the White Rabbit appeared, running around the orchard throwing large orange tennis balls into the air. “Some imagination!” thought Alice.

“If he were to throw the balls twice as fast, would there be more or less action?”

“More, of course.”

“Twice as much?”

“I'd think so.”

“And if the balls were much heavier, like croquet balls, would there be more or less action to his action?”

“More.”

“And if he ran around for twice as long, how much action do you think there would be?”

“Twice as much, I suppose.”

“So the concept of action isn't really that strange, is it?”

“No,” replied Alice, wondering why she had never thought about action in this way before. And why hadn't she heard about it at school? Maybe it hadn't been important?

“Oh, it's very important,” said the voice from nowhere. “Your mathematicians have discovered that whatever happens in the universe happens in such a way that the total amount of action is always the lowest possible. It's what they call 'The Principle of Least Action.' And your scientists use it all the time to predict how things will happen. Those balls the White Rabbit is throwing trace out a curve in the air, yes? Well that curve happens to be the one that involves the least amount of action. Any other curve you could imagine would require more action.”

“A sort of cosmic efficiency principle,” thought Alice.

“Yes. And it apples to everything. Even light. When you see a reflection in the looking glass, the light comes back to you at the precise angle that involves the least amount of action.”

“Hmm, I'm beginning to see why action is so important.”

“Yes, it's absolutely fundamental. And, as I was saying, every single quantum in the universe, every photon, whatever its frequency and energy, is an identical unit of action. The amount is exceedingly small -- after all, we're very, very, very tiny. In your units of measurement, each of us is about 0.00000000000000000000000000663 erg-seconds. And before you even think of asking what an erg is, it is a unit of energy, a very small one. To lift a one-pound croquet ball a distance of one foot takes about 13.5 million ergs. If you took one second to lift the ball, your action would have involved about 13.5 million erg-seconds. Now each of us quanta is a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of an erg-second -- point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero . . . ”

“Stop, please. I get the picture. You are a very, very, very, tiny unit of action.”

“Yes, the smallest possible action in the universe. It's called Planck's constant, after Max Planck, who first discovered us. Each one of us, each and every one of us, is exactly this amount of action.”

Alice thought about this for a while. “Light is action,” she mused. “I'd never thought of it like that before. But I suppose it sort of makes sense. After all, light never stops moving. It can travel right across the universe, and at great speed. Light never rests, it never slows. Yes action seems kind of appropriate.”

“Not so fast,” the quantum interrupted. “That may be how you see light, but we see ourselves very differently. As far as we are concerned, we don't ever experience ourselves traveling anywhere. We never move at all.”

“Now, that's ridiculous!” cried Alice. “I'm used to paradoxes in this quantum world of yours, but how can you say you never travel anywhere when you so clearly do? If you never go anywhere, how come light gets to us from the sun, and how come light has speed?”

“Hold your horses, my dear, and I'll try to explain. But first I'll need to take you on a little excursion into the theories of another of your great scientists, Albert Einstein.

“Like many other scientists of his time, Einstein was puzzled by the fact that light always seemed to travel at the same speed, no matter how fast you might be moving. At first this seemed nonsense. If you were to walk along at 3 mph, and the White Rabbit ran by at 7 mph, simple arithmetic tells you he'd be going 4 mph faster than you. If you speeded up and ran along at 7 mph you'd be able to keep up with him, and there would be no difference in speed. But light didn't seem to behave like this at all. Experiments showed that however fast you go, you can never catch up with light; it always passes by at 186,000 miles per second. Even if you were to travel at 185,990 miles per second, light would still whiz by 186,000 miles per second faster.”

“Faster! Faster!” the Red Queen's voice echoed through her mind, along with images of chessboards and talking lilies. Alice remembered what it was like to never get anywhere however fast you ran. “Was the Red Queen a friend of yours?”

“No, but maybe young Albert had read about your adventures with her.

“After a lot of thought he decided to accept that you could never catch up with light, however fast you went. It is just the way the universe works, however non-sensical it might seem. This led him to his famous 'Special Theory of Relativity,' and to some conclusions that at first seemed even greater nonsense.

“His equations predicted that the faster something went the more slowly its clocks would run. The precise relationship between speed and time is not a straightforward one, and I won't bother you with the detailed mathematics, but the result is that if you were to travel past someone at 87 percent the speed of light, they would observe your clocks to be running at half the speed of theirs. This slowing applies not just to clocks, but to all physical processes, all chemical processes, and all biological processes. Your whole world would run at half the rate of theirs.”

“Sounds more like the looking glass world than my world.”

“Well, it turns out that your world really is a bit like the looking glass world. Scientists have flown clocks around the world on jets and found that they do indeed run slow -- by a factor of about one in a trillion -- not enough to worry anyone, but enough to prove that Einstein's theory is correct.

“And it's not just time that shrinks. Space is also changed. Lengths measured in the direction of motion become shorter, and in exactly the same proportion as time slows. If you were to travel a measured mile at 87 percent the speed of light, you'd measure the distance to be only half a mile.”

“You mean space and time really aren't fixed after all?”

“Right, they're not as absolute as people had thought. How much space and how much time you observe is relative to your speed. That's why Einstein called it 'relativity'.

“But he also discovered that not everything about time and space was relative. People moving at different speeds may disagree on how much space and how much time they observe, but they all agree on the total amount of space and time.”

Alice thought it must be a bit like cutting a string in two. Cutting it in different places would give pieces of differing lengths, but the total length of string would always be the same.

“Exactly. Or rather, not exactly. Space and time don't add up by simple arithmetic. In fact, you get the total by doing a subtraction.”

“Doing addition by subtraction! Now that's the sort of arithmetic the Red Queen would like.”

“But it isn't simple subtraction,” the quantum continued, “the mathematical formula for combining space and time is more complicated than that. It's something like 'the square root of space squared minus time squared.'”

“I think I'll skip that. I'm confused enough as it is. But what's all this got to do with light, and you saying that light never travels anywhere?”

“Well, the equations of relativity predict that at the speed of light, length shrinks to nothing, and time slows to a complete standstill.”

“You mean space and time just disappear? That is bizarre.”

“Yes, and it's quite troublesome to your physicists. Their equations of motion get littered with zeros and infinities, and it's very hard for them to make much use of them. So they usually ignore this extreme case, consoling themselves with the thought that because nothing can ever actually travel at the speed of light, they don't have to worry about these bizarre effects.”

“Why do you say things can't travel at the speed of light?” Alice asked, sensing a possible contradiction.

“Ah, that's because not only space and time change with speed, but so also does mass. Whereas space and time decrease with speed, mass does the opposite. The faster you go, the heavier you become. If you reached the speed of light, your mass would become infinite.”

Alice tried to imagine having an infinite mass. Being very, very heavy she could just about handle. But infinitely heavy? She couldn't even imagine infinity, let alone an infinite amount of anything.

“Don't worry. You'll never go that fast. To move an object of infinite mass would take an infinite amount of energy. A lot of energy might get you close to the speed of light, but there simply is not enough energy in the whole universe to accelerate you all the way up to light speed. That's why it's impossible for anything to ever travel at the speed of light.”

“But some things do travel at the speed of light,” interjected Alice, pleased that she had caught the quantum contradicting itself. “You, for example, travel at the speed of light.”

“Of course. To say that light couldn't travel at the speed of light would be pretty ridiculous, wouldn't it? But light is not really a 'thing' as you think of things. Photons have no mass at all. Each of us weighs absolutely nothing -- no matter how fast we go. Even at the speed of light, we still weigh absolutely nothing.”

“So you aren't subject to the same cosmic speed limit as we are.”

“Correct.”

“And so you always travel at the speed of light.” Alice proudly concluded.

“On the contrary. We never travel at any speed.”

“What?”

“No, that's just how it appears to you in your world. On our side of the quantum looking glass, things look very different.

“I said that at the speed of light distance and time shrink right down to zero. Well, that means that, from our point of view, we never experience ourselves traveling any distance whatsoever. In your world you see us traveling through space, but at the speeds we travel space has become so warped there is no distance between where we start and where we end up. And since our clocks have slowed to a standstill, we never take any time at all. We go nowhere in no time.”

“Makes the Red Queen seem positively sane.”

“The Red Queen was still living in the world of things, the world of space, time and matter. We quanta live in a very different world. We are not things. We have no mass, we never travel any distance, and we know no time. So, because we travel no distance in no time, the notion of speed is meaningless for us. In our frame of reference -- and what frame of reference could more appropriate for light than our own -- we have no need of speed.”

“But I thought Einstein said that the speed of light was the same for all observers. How can you say you have no speed?”

“What you think of as the speed of light is from our perspective something very different. You remember me saying that all observers always agree on the total amount of spacetime separating two events, even though they disagree on how much actual space and how much actual time they observe?”

“Yes.”

“Well, when you calculate the total amount of spacetime between the two ends of a light beam the result is always exactly zero. This is because the total is arrived at by that complicated formula that involves 'space-squared min