Thursday, November 30, 2006
[Editor's note: This is the full text of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's open letter to "the American People," as supplied to CNN.]
(CNN) -- In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.
Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;
Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;
And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;
Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.
While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.
Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.
Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.
We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.
We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.
We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.
The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.
Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world.
Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.
As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.
We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.
No day goes by without a new crime.
Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?
For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.
You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.
Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?
Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Let's take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.
Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.
In Iraq, about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.
Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.
I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.
You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.
You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed "war on terror." But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.
The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of "the war on terror," civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.
I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it.
The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.
The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.
Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.
My questions are the following:
Is there not a better approach to governance?
Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?
We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent.
But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?
If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?
The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all.
What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.
What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?
I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.
Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.
I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:
The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.
Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.
If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.
To sum up:
It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.
It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.
It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.
It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.
Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.
What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.
I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.
The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.
We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:
"But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him." (28:67-68)
I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
29 November 2006
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- A study of civilian contractors recently returned from Iraq, to determine the effects of Energy Psychology on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To contact a researcher to learn more, click here
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
by Stephen Lendman
Noam Chomsky needs no introduction. He's MIT Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics and a leading anti-war critic and voice for over 40 years for social equity and justice. He's also one of the world's most influential and widely cited intellectuals on the Left. Gilbert Achcar is a Lebanese-French academic, author, social activist, Middle East expert and professor of politics and international relations at the University of Paris. Their new book, Perilous Power, is based on 14 hours of dialogue between them over three days in January, 2006 and updated six months later in July in a separate Epilogue at the end. It covers US foreign policy in the most volatile and turbulent region in the world, the Middle East, and discusses the wars in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan as well as such key issues as terrorism, fundamentalism, oil, democracy, possible war against Iran and much more. Chomsky and Achcar collaborated with Stephen Shalom, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University acting as moderator to pose questions and keep the discussion on track.
The book is divided into five chapters. This review will cover each of them in enough detail to give the reader a good sense of their flavor and content.
Chapter One - Terrorism and Conspiracies
The underlying raison d'etre used to justify the post-9/11 Middle East and Central Asian wars is the so-called "war on terror" and claimed overall threat therefrom, and that's how the dialogue between the two authors begins with moderator Stephen Shalom asking them to define terrorism. Chomsky explained he's been writing about it since Ronald Reagan was elected and declared "war on international terrorism" using rhetoric like the "scourge of terrorism" and "the plague of the modern age." It was clear what the administration had in mind was its own planned Contra war of terrorism against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the one west of it against the FMLN opposition in El Salvador with US regional head of state terrorism John Negroponte (now US Director of National Intelligence in charge of "homeland" terrorism against the public) directing it all through his US Ambassador's office in Hondurus situated between the two conflict zones. The idea was to crush the outlier Nicaraguan government (that wouldn't play by US-imposed rules) and the opposition resistance to the fascist government in El Salvador to establish or solidify reliable right wing client dictators who always understand "who's boss."
Chomsky provides a useful definition of "terrorism" from the US Code. It's "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear." Chomsky then observes that by that standard the US is the world's leading terrorist state, but this is unacceptable to any US administration so all of them go by the undebated notion that terrorism excludes what "we" do to "them" and is only what only what "they" do to "us." What "we" do is always benign humanitarian intervention even when it's done through the barrel of a gun the way we're doing it in Iraq, Afghanistan and in partnership with Israel in Palestine and against the Lebanese. Condoleezza Rice's rhetoric explains this, without a touch of irony, as "democracy (being) messy."
Achcar expands the concept of terrorism to what the European Union (EU) has used since 2002 that includes "causing extensive destruction to a Government or public facility....a public place or private property likely to....result in major economic loss (or even) threatening to commit" such acts. He acknowledges this broader notion is a dangerous enlargement of the concept as it could include almost any act of civil disobedience a government wishes to label an act of terrorism.
The discussion then covers whether or not a credible terror threat exists, and Chomsky believes a serious one does unrelated to 9/11. He notes the comments of two former US Defense Secretaries who see the likelihood of a nuclear detonation on a US target in the next decade as greater than 50% while US intelligence thinks it's almost certain unless current US policy changes. Chomsky also mentions the possibility of other forms of terror attacks against us all stemming from the 1954 CIA notion of "blowback" that referred to the unintended consequences from US hostile acts abroad like overthrowing legitimate governments as it did against Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 ushering in the 25 year terror reign of the Shah. It finally led to the "blowback" 1979 revolution, and it causes similar examples of retaliation now evident in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Achcar agrees that terrorism is a reality and can also be homegrown like the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City first blamed on Muslim "terrorists" who even then were part of the anti-Muslim attitude in the country that became hysterical post-9/11.
The issue then is what's to be done about the threat, and that's a subject Chomsky has written and spoken about often - "reduce the reasons for it." In the case of the Middle East, stop attacking Muslim countries, and that will reduce "blowback" repercussions. Achcar goes further and says there's an economic aspect to the equation as well relating to the neoliberal globalization direction the West took since the Carter years. It's caused a steady erosion of the social fabric and safety net that's most apparent in the US that Achcar believes eventually "leads to forms of violent assertions of 'identity,' extremism or fanaticism, whether religious or political..." Chomsky agrees and cites projections of US intelligence agencies that the process of globalization "will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide." This will "foster political, ethnic, ideological and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it." The solution both authors agree on is "political justice, the rule of law, social justice (and) economic justice."
The crucial issue regarding the likelihood of a conspiracy relating to the 9/11 terror attack is then addressed which both authors dismiss out of hand and Chomsky says is "almost beyond comprehension" that the Bush administration was responsible for it. Despite considerable evidence that at the least it knew about it well in advance, he argues that the notion of administration involvement even indirectly doesn't hold water in his view. For one thing, he explains "A lot of people (had to be) involved in the planning" of this and for certain there would have been leaks. He also believes claims of administration involvement divert "attention from the real crimes" and threats from them that's "welcomed by the administration."
Achcar agrees but admits Washington did nothing to prevent the attack supporting the notion that administration officials wanted a terrorist attack they could exploit to their advantage. What happened on 9/11 served US imperial interests the same way Iraq's invasion of Kuwait did in 1990. The attack in 2001 was the "catastrophic and catalyzing event (of a) new Pearl Harbor" the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank said it needed at its formation in 1997 to advance the kind of radical transformation its members advocated. These are the same key people who took power in 2001, and based on their agenda since then, it's hard to dismiss their not being up to almost anything including complicitity in an attack on US soil. It's likely on the evening of 9/11 they were drinking champaign celebrating "their good fortune" in the White House.
A second conspiracy relates to the possible US role in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Achcar says there's no way to prove it even though the US did nothing to prevent it. Chomsky, on the other hand, believes it happened because Saddam Hussein simply "misinterpreted" the message he got from US Ambassador April Glaspie, and that the US was providing aid to him right up to the time of the invasion which it only would have done for an ally that wasn't planning to attack another ally. Achcar has another view stressing that if the US wanted the invasion as a pretext for the Gulf war that followed in January, 1991, the GHW Bush administration would have maintained normal relations with Saddam right to the end so as not to tip its hand.
There's good reason to suspect the US may have wanted it. The cold war had just ended, the US needed a new enemy to justify maintaining a high military budget to avoid the "peace dividend" spoken of then, it also needed a way to reestablish a US military presence in the region because of its immense oil reserves, and since 1975 this country wanted to "bury the Vietnam syndrome" to be free again to engage in military action abroad with public consent. The Gulf war was the gift Washington hawks hoped for. The relatively simple Operation Just Cause in December, 1989 to remove Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega because he forgot who really runs his country hadn't done it, so in Achcar's words: "If Saddam Hussein did not exist at the time, they would have had to invent him." Achcar also believes the US was concerned about Saddam's military power then. His history in the region proved he was an aggressor, and that worried his neighbors like Israel and the Saudis.
If there was a plan to entrap Saddam, he walked right into it. Chomsky has another view that Saddam only became a "bad guy" after he "broke the rules." A little leeway is always permissible, but "imperial management" works by establishing reliable client states run by leaders who know who's "the boss." Saddam broke the rules by his act of "disobedience" - the same "sin" Manuel Noriega committed that led to his undoing.
Chapter 2 - Fundamentalism
The discussion begins with the importance of fundamentalism as a source of unrest in the world. For Chomsky, its Islamic version is mainly a reaction to those forces. He explained for many years "there was strong secular nationalism all over the Arab and Muslim world." It was true in Egypt under Gamal Abdel-Nasser who was a secular nationalist, in Iraq over the past century, and in Iran for half a century until the CIA-instigated coup ousted Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.
Achcar agrees and stresses the US assault against secular nationalist leaders led to the doctrine's failure in these countries and left a vacuum filled by Islamic fundamentalism based on the most reactionary brand of it practiced by the US's oldest client state in the region - Saudi Arabia. The US used the Saudis and its extremist model to counter communism and all forms of progressive movements. Achcar also points out that fundamentalist nongovernmental terrorism is miniscule compared to the state-sponsored kind practiced mainly by the US and Israel and is a direct outgrowth of those policies.
The US even supported the Taliban when it assumed power in 1996 believing their authoritarian rule would bring stability to the country without which planned pipelines from the landlocked Caspian Basin to warm water ports in the south would be in jeopardy. Unlike the propaganda used against them in 2001, their religious extremism, harsh treatment of women, and overall human rights abuses were of no concern at first despite any pious rhetoric about them to the contrary later on.
Chomsky then commented that the Reagan administration helped Pakistan move toward fundamentalism and even pretended it didn't know the country was developing nuclear weapons. It's now the only known Muslim country to have them. Israel also wanted to destroy the secular nationalist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a move that led to the rise of Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist groups to challenge its supremacy. Israel followed the same strategy in Lebanon with its 1982 invasion and 18 year occupation of the country from which Hezbollah emerged as a resistance group that finally succeeded in forcing the Israelis to withdraw from the country in May, 2000 and humiliated the vaunted Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the summer, 2006 Lebanon war. More on that below. Achcar notes that in its zeal to destroy secular nationalism in the region, the US let the "genie out of the bottle" called Islamic fundamentalism it now can't control. It turned against both the US and Israel as a resistance force against oppression.
Chomsky also observes that fundamentalism isn't just a Muslim phenomenon. A powerful Christian strain of it exists in the US that has enormous influence over right wing Republican-led governments as it did during the Reagan years and especially now under George Bush who believes his agenda is a God-directed messianic mission. Achcar goes further stressing fundamentalism is a global phenomenon with strains of it in all the major religions - Judaism, Christianity (Protestant and Catholic), Hinduism, Islam and others with all of them having arisen over the last 25 years or so as a "remarkable....synchronized worldwide" phenomenon. It represents the only remaining ideological counterweight expression of mass resentment and resistance against the socially and economically destructive elements of predatory neoliberal capitalism now dominant in the West and throughout most of the world.
The discussion then turned to Saudi Arabia which Achcar describes as "the most fundamentalist Islamic state on earth" and the "most obscurantist, most reactionary, most oppressive of women" and yet so closely allied to the US under all administrations because of all that oil there - what US state department officials in 1945 described as "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history (including the extended prize of what was available in the other regional oil-rich states)." Wealth and power always trump ideology, especially when a lot of oil is involved and a repressive ruling authority like the Saudi monarchy is willing to play ball with its US master. The two countries basically have a deal. The Saudis agree to pump whatever amount of oil Washington wants, help control its price and recycle the revenue from it in US markets and by buying our weapons. In return, the US acts as the "Lord Protector" of the kingdom exerting enormous control over it with little interest in how backward, extremist or repressive it is other than getting it to agree at times to some modest cosmetic changes only for show.
Next, the state of democracy in the region is discussed. Chomsky explains that over the last century there were democratic movements throughout the Middle East including in Iran and Iraq even though they weren't perfect (but neither is the US model, especially now when it's on life support at best). When the British or US controlled these states, it was another story. Both countries either opposed democracy (disingenuous rhetoric aside) or tried to prevent its development because elected leaders sometimes get the idea they have to serve the people who elected them. Authoritarian strongmen rulers under the US thumb have no such obligation. Today in Egypt the Kifaya movement is a democratic force wanting to end the dictatorship of one such man and close US ally Hosni Mubarak who's ruled the country since he succeeded Anwar Sadat in 1981. Mubarak goes through the ritual of holding elections like Saddam did, and like the deposed Iraqi dictator always manages to get about 99% of the vote in a miraculous and totally fictitious show of support.
Achcar picks up the discussion emphasizing the potential for democracy in the region mentioning the 1979 Iranian revolution ending the brutal reign of close US ally, Shah Reza Pahlavi. A major aspiration of the Iranians supporting his overthrow was democracy, but they were let down by Ayatollah Khomeini who promised it to them and then reneged once in power establishing an Islamic "Assembly of Experts" and extremist theocratic rule. Today, however, there's a limited amount of democracy in Iran with an elected president and parliament even though the unelected Supreme Leader and Guardian Council have the final say. Still Iran is an enlightened state enjoying freedoms unimaginable in a nation like Saudi Arabia where women aren't allowed to drive and there's a special police whipping people on the streets during times of prayer because they're not allowed out there then (even though these police should have the same state-imposed obligation to be inside praying). That's OK with the US because of that "greatest (of) material prizes" there and the Saudis never forgetting "who's boss." The Iranians, however, have been a prime US target for regime change for a quarter century, not for their ideology but because they prefer going their own way independent of "the boss's" authority.
Chomsky and Achcar both explain that a major deterrent to democracy, especially in the Middle East with its oil treasure, is because the US opposes it. With it, the "bad guys" might win, meaning forces hostile to western interests. The same is true in other regions where the US is willing to use force or stage so-called "demonstration elections" it can manipulate to be sure candidates it favors win as nearly always happens in Central America and key South American countries like Colombia and Peru. When "mistakes" happen and the "wrong" candidates are elected like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, or Hamas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), they can expect harsh US-directed efforts against them (or Israeli ones in the OPT) to force their removal from office. The US has tried and failed three times to depose Chavez, and Israel now has the democratically elected Hamas government on its knees in the OPT, discussed further below.
The question then was raised whether an unintended consequence of the US invasion of Iraq has been an increase in democracy in the region. Not so far, but Chomsky explains it can happen as it did in Asia following the defeat of Japanese fascism. Their atrocities inspired a wave of democratic reform that included expelling the European (and US) imperialists as happened in Vietnam 20 years later. Chomsky imagines a generation from now the Iraq war may end up accomplishing the same thing in the Middle East, but Achcar stresses that's not, of course, what the US wants. For now, however, the US invasion of Iraq (and Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and Lebanese) has been a major destabilizing factor in the region and worlds away from showing any positive signs. Achcar notes that the "craziest of the (Bush) neocons" call it "creative instability" which is their nonsensical notion of "democracy" - the kind Secretary Rice calls "messy." He further notes the Bush administration has been "stupid" and "will go down in history....as the undertaker of US interests in the region." He might have added how equally destructive it's been to its stature worldwide, the state of democracy at home, and eventually for having been the prime mover for the decline and fall of the US empire along with its political and economic preeminence.
Chapter Three - Sources of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East
Moderator Stephen Shalom begins this discussion asking what are the dynamics driving US policy in the Middle East. For Chomsky and Achcar, the answer is clear:
Chomsky explains the centrality of oil in the Middle East saying without those immense hydrocarbon reserves in the region, no one in high places would care any more about it than Antarctica. It's been almost 100 years since oil was first discovered there in what was then Persia and now is Iran. It was then discovered near Kirkuk in northern Iraq in the late 1920s and in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. Most importantly, it looked even then like the region had plenty of this essential commodity, and it was easily and cheaply accessible and easy to refine. In the 1930s before WW II, the Roosevelt administration knew the Saudi reserves alone were an immense prize, wanted it for the US, and saw to it US oil companies got a foothold in the country. Chomsky explains the US's obsession with oil isn't about access to its use. It's about controlling most of the world's supply as a "lever of world domination." One way to keep European and other countries dependent on us and in sync with our policies is to maintain control of the oil spigot they're reliant on.
No country, no matter how powerful, can get that control by occupying all the others it wishes to dominate. The US knows that and prefers having a control structure like the British used when it was the leading power in the region after WW I. It's essentially the way Iraq is nominally governed today under US tutelage - an "elected" puppet facade that can't do much more than blow its nose without US approval and the intention to withdraw most US forces once a local satrap army and police can take over, which is a very dubious hope at best.
Chomsky explains the US went beyond the British model adding another structural level of control called "peripheral states" - regional gendarmes or what the Nixon administration once called "local cops on the beat" with "police headquarters in Washington and a branch (precinct) office in London." That role is now filled by Turkey and Israel and was by Iran as well during its rule under the Shah.
Achcar agrees with Chomsky and stresses oil's strategic importance in solidifying alliances with key allies like Japan and checking rivals like China and Russia (which has its own large hydrocarbon reserves). It's economic value is also immense both to US Big Oil but also to the US economy. Those factors are now playing out on a worldwide chessboard with two organizations coalescing to compete with the US for control of Central Asia's reserves - the Asian Energy Security Grid composed of China and Russia mainly and possibly India, South Korea and even Japan joining and the more significant Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) formed in 2001 for political, diplomatic, economic and security reasons as a counterweight to NATO the US dominates. It has a core China-Russia alliance in it along with most of the former Soviet republics plus Iran, Pakistan and India as observers that may lead to their eventual membership. As world powers jockey with the US for control of vital oil reserves, these alliances may figure prominently in how things eventually play out.
Central to that discussion is the next crucial point Chomsky raises. It's the issue of US withdrawal from Iraq that's now more prominent in the news than when he made his comments. He asks what happens to the country's oil under this scenario and stresses it would be an "utter catastrophe" if the US didn't leave behind a reliable client state. It's what noted and longtime Middle East journalist Robert Fisk meant when he said: "The Americans must leave (Iraq), they will leave, but they can't leave."
The country has a Shiite majority closely allied with Shiite Iran as well as with the large Saudi Shiite population in the bordering area between the two countries where most of the kingdom's oil is located. Under this scenario, Chomsky imagines what he calls Washington's "worst nightmare" - most of the Middle East oil reserves outside of US control and possibly linked to either or both of the predominant China-Russia energy and security alliances. If it happens, the decision to invade Iraq will go into the history books as one of the world's greatest ever strategic blunders and the Bush neocons will get the "credit" for it. It could put the US on a fast track to becoming a "second-class power" and be a far more serious defeat than the one suffered in Vietnam. Are echoes of "Waterloo" becoming audible?
Israel and the Jewish Lobby
The power of the Jewish Lobby is more prominently discussed now (though not in the major media) than when this dialogue took place. It got resonance from the paper issued in the spring by two noted political scholars - John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government - who argued how dominant the Lobby is. That position has been echoed by other analysts and also by a powerful new book by noted scholar James Petras called The Power of Israel in the US reviewed by this writer and available on sjlendman.blogspot.com. With his extensive documentation in a full-length book, Petras makes a convincing case for his position about how dominant the Jewish Lobby is in determining US policy in the Middle East and that AIPAC is just one part of a much broader network.
Chomsky and Achcar disagree. Chomsky believes the most powerful pro-Israel lobby is "American liberal intellectuals," not AIPAC. The intensity of their support crystallized after Israel's dramatic victory in the 1967 six-day war. It happened when the US was bogged down and losing in Vietnam and for liberal hawks (who later became neocons) this was a model or example of how to crush a "Third World upstart." Achcar has a similar view and believes it's untrue to think the Israeli "tail" wags the US "dog." Chomsky adds: "Whatever you think of the (Jewish) Lobby, it is nothing compared with the power of the US government." Those who want the opposite view should read the Petras book just published which covers this issue in much greater detail including a critique of Chomsky's position in the final section.
Chapter Four - Wars in the "Greater Middle East"
The war in Afghanistan is discussed first, and Chomsky calls it "one of the most atrocious crimes in recent years" because it might have (but thankfully didn't) caused the starvation of five million Afghans with the potential number at risk raised to 7.5 million after the bombing started. Washington demanded all fuel supplies be cut off that disrupted desperately needed humanitarian aid. The 9/11 event was used as a launching platform for the foreign and domestic agenda that followed beginning with the Afghan war that was unjustifiable by any analysis. It's also known the war was planned well before that fateful September day and what happened on the 11th of the month was just a convenient pretext used opportunistically to launch step one with more war to follow in what's been euphemistically characterized as "the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the long war, WW III" and clash of civilizations meant to last generations pitting the West against the forces of "terrorism"....aka "Islamic fascists" wanting to establish a "global Caliphate" under Shari'a law.
Chomsky explains that what happened on 9/11 was a "major crime" but not a casus belli. It should have been dealt with like any other crime - "find out who the criminals were, then...apprehend them (and) bring them to justice." Bombing a country to rubble that had nothing to do with it was monstrous, but that's not the way it played out around the US in a flag-waving protect the homeland, crush the "bad guys" and support the troops frenzy.
Now five years later, Chomsky says Afghanistan is no "showcase" but believes it's much better off today than under the British during the years of the (first) 19th and early 20th century "Great Game" when famines ravaged millions in the country. But those reading John Pilger's comments in his new book Freedom Next Time would be struck by his dismal description of the country post-2001 as looking more like a "moonscape" than a functioning country. He describes the capital, Kabul, where there are "contours of rubble rather than streets, where people live in collapsed buildings, like earthquake victims waiting for rescue (with) no light or heat." There are desperate shortages of everything throughout the country that even now is putting hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation because of drought, inadequate services, no occupying power interest to help and the resumption of conflict.
Achar's view may be closer to Pilger's than Chomsky's based on indicators from human rights organizations on the ground and the condemning Senlis Council think tank report in mid-2006 that called Afghanistan today a humanitarian disaster and much more. The US also let a brutal and hated Northern Alliance proxy force topple the Taliban with help from its overwhelming air power. These thuggish murderers and rapists are no different today than when the Taliban ousted them from two-thirds of the country in 1996. Their return to power along with a hostile occupying force led by the US along with the desperate conditions in the country are the reasons for the resurgence of the Taliban that have now reclaimed most parts of the country in the south.
There's no central Afghan leadership to counter them, and Achcar characterizes nominal and caricature of a president Hamid Karzai (a former CIA asset and oil giant UNOCAL consultant) as a US stooge playing the role of president when, in fact, he's nothing more than the mayor of Kabul who might not last a day on his own without the protection afforded him by the private US security contractor DynCorp with the US military for backup.
Iraq after March, 2003
Both authors then address the reasons why the US invaded Iraq and agree the country and region's immense oil treasure are central to understanding Washington's thinking. It's believed Iraq's oil reserves are second only to those in Saudi Arabia and "they're extremely cheap and accessible." In Achcar's view, the US wants full control of both Iraqi and Saudi reserves as between the two countries they represent nearly two-fifths of the world's supply, and if Kuwait is added to them the ratio is close to one-half. The US also controls the smaller oil-producing Gulf monarchies leaving only Iran outside it's orbit and highlighting how strategically important the Persian state is.
Controlling Iraqi reserves was central in 1991 as well, but the only reason the US didn't proceed on to Baghdad and occupy the country then was because that would have been "unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate" - something the GHW Bush administration apparently took seriously but likely never would have deterred the younger Bush neocons who don't even bother with UN authorization unless it's easily gotten.
In 1991, the US was also willing to settle for a neutered Saddam it could control and wasn't willing to risk having the country run by Shiites allied with Shiite Iran - something intolerable to any US administration. Washington also tried repeatedly throughout the 1990s to foment an insurrection it approved of that would do the housecleaning job for it. It wanted Saddam removed but only if he could be replaced with an acceptable hardliner clone who understood "who's boss." It never happened, and once the younger Bush administration came in, it decided on a full-scale invasion and occupation to clean house and control the country. It began in March, 2003, but things since haven't exactly gone as planned.
Achcar explained US proconsul Paul Bremer (who replaced the short-tenured retired General Jay Garner) wanted to put in place a US lock on the country - politically, economically and constitutionally - but ran up against unexpected resistance from Grand Shiite Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who wanted Saddam removed but would only accede to a US occupier willing to help the country and not just itself. He was able to curtail US plans enough to allow elections and have Iraqis write the constitution as imperfectly as the whole process played out because the US always has the final say. It showed as he wasn't able to stop Bremer from turning the nation into a free market Iraq, Inc. utopia mainly for predatory US corporations that have sucked the life out of the country and convinced the Iraqis people what anyone should have known in the first place. The US never has democracy and liberation on its mind. It was all about controlling the oil, stupid and establishing a client state.
The Iraqi people figured that out pretty quickly, and the resistance began at once and then intensified because of an insensitive turned hostile predatory occupation. Achcar attributes it only to the 20% Sunni segment of the population at the time of this dialogue (that still represents a healthy five million or more people). Chomsky believes the resistance is a genuine national movement that's very disparate but broadly supported by the Iraqi people who want an end to the occupation. Achcar agrees that there is a broad consensus in the country at least outside the Kurdish-controlled north for a firm timetable for withdrawal of all foreign troops.
Based on conditions now in the country, outside of the Kurdish-controlled north, it's hard to imagine there's not near unanimity favoring the earliest possible end to the occupation. Beginning in 1991, continuing throughout the 1990s and especially after March, 2003, the US conducted a scorched-earth campaign to destroy Iraqi society, its infrastructure, historical treasures and its very identity as a nation. The UN's International Leadership report showed it's done an effective job of it: 84% of Iraq's higher learning institutions have been burnt, looted or destroyed; archeological museums and historic sites, libraries and archives have been plundered; and targeted assassinations have been carried out against academics, other teachers, senior military personnel, journalists (Iraq is by far the most dangerous place on earth for the fourth estate) and other professionals including doctors forcing many thousands of them to flee the country for their lives even though they're desperately needed.
In addition, aside from the Iraqi resistance, there are random or targeted daily terror killings by US-directed "Salvador option" death squads, thousands of kidnappings and countless other examples of how intolerable life is for all Iraqis south of Iraqi Kurdistan and outside the four square kilometer fortress-like Green Zone HQ in central Baghdad for the so-called "coalition" officials and the puppet "Iraq interim government." This is the Bush administration's design to destroy the nation's cultural identity as an Arab state, take firm control of its oil resources, and likely divide the country into more easily governed parts the way it was done in the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It may prove a lot harder to make that sort of plan work in a country like Iraq and even trying it may end up backfiring by causing even greater turmoil.
Chomsky emphasizes that whether US forces leave Iraq or stay, it's crucial for Washington policy makers to establish a reliable client state government or the whole operation will have been a disaster, and it's already looking like it is no matter what happens going forward regardless of what will be presented and no doubt implemented by the Baker Commission Iraq Study Group (ISG). It's because the country is so devastated and the level of Sunni and Shiite anger against the occupation is so intense. Empire-building is a lot easier close to home, and Chomsky cites the example of US policy in Latin America. There, opposition resistance forces were brutally crushed and "legitimate governments" were installed and still are there today, except for the possibility of some change in Nicaragua after the reelection of Daniel Ortega on November 5. Chomsky notes what would seem to be obvious. It won't be easy to do in Iraq what was done south of our border because the country is not El Salvador, Nicaragua or any other banana republic.
Achcar agrees and emphasizes the US has a serious mess on its hands in Iraq. So far every strategy employed has failed, and today the situation worse than ever. The one thing yet to be tried is a coup d'etat, and that subject is now cropping up in the news. But it's hard to think pulling that stunt will end up doing anything more than inflaming an already out-of-control situation even more. Can anyone imagine replacing an inept elected puppet government with a US-imposed strongman being a good tactic to win public support. Chomsky agrees and believes Shiite soldiers won't take orders from a US-dominated command against their own people, and Kurds won't fight alongside Sunnis in a unified military command.
It's a classic example of the literal meaning of "snafu," and all because of an ill-conceived agenda from the start the administration was warned about in advance, told it wouldn't work, but still it went ahead with it anyway. The whole strategy was doomed from the start, and the only surprise was how quickly it collapsed. Chomsky again stresses the US wants to control the resources of the region, but because of what's happened in Iraq, how will it ever be able to do it. The echos of "Waterloo" are getting louder.
The serious question is then raised about whether a US withdrawal will lead to civil war. Who can say, but Achcar makes a crucial point: "the longer the occupation continues, the worse it gets." He also notes a hopeful sign as the most influential Sunni group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, says it will call on all armed groups to end their resistance once a timetable for withdrawal is announced. But it would have to be awfully convincing as all the promises made from the start of this operation have turned out to be nothing more than disingenuous rhetoric from a now thoroughly disliked and distrusted occupier. Why would anyone trust them now, especially with all the talk about possible new military action against Iran and Syria and a powerful multi-US carrier strike group force now in the region carrying out provocative exercises to back up the bluster - even if it's just saber-rattling bluff.
Achcar thinks it's very unlikely the US or Israel will attack Syria. He stresses both countries prefer the Assad regime, that has the situation under control, to any alternative that could become chaotic. If that happened, it would inflame the situation all the more in Iraq and maybe across other borders as well. As for Iran, Chomsky thinks things are more complicated. The country has all that oil the US desperately wants to control, and it's been a prime outlier since the 1979 revolution. "Imperial management" demands "obedience" and needs to punish all "transgressors" if only to set an example for others contemplating going the same way. That's how US policy makers think - about Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and any other country ignoring "the boss." No country gets a pass, just a little leeway.
With that in mind, Chomsky, as of this dialogue, thinks it's unlikely the US will attack Iran because, unlike Iraq and other weak states, the country is not defenseless and the potential for serious Shiite resistance in Iraq alone is a deterrent. Achcar isn't so sure and feels the likelihood of a US assault is very possible but not by invasion which would be suicide, Iran being four times the size of Iraq in territory with three times its population. If it happens at all, we'll be hearing about "shock and awe" again as it's unimaginable it could be done any other way. And since the US now has a powerful naval attack force in the region practically daring the Iranians to respond, a possible scenario to watch for would be a manufactured incident on the order of the August, 1964 Tonkin Gulf one or the blowing up of the USS Maine in February, 1898 in Havana Harbor. We know what happened next. If the US wants another war, it's never hard finding an excuse to start it, but advance word coming out of the ISG is it's plan will need Iranian and Syrian cooperation to work, and that rules out any possibility of a US and/or Israeli attack against either country.
Chapter Five - The Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Few conflicts anywhere in the world are more intractable, longer running, or more of a mismatch than the Israeli-Palestinian one. The major issues involved are pretty clear-cut, but nearly six decades of trying to solve them have accomplished nothing because the Israelis, with full backing, funding and arming from the US (and the West), give nothing, and the Palestinians have no power to press their demands or allies who'll do it for them. The result is the chaotic state of devastation now in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) with no effort being made to alleviate it. It's been that way on and off for decades but intensified following Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on September 28, 2000 instigating the al-Aqsa Intifada and has now become a brutal war of attrition following the June 25 Kerem Shalom crossing minor incident providing the pretext for Israel's long-planned merciless assault on the OPT still ongoing beneath the radar with no resolution of the conflict in sight or any serious effort being made to end it.
So many issues in the conflict need to be addressed, and one of them is to include in any discussed solution the rights of the Palestinian Diaspora. They live mainly in Jordan, Syria and in Lebanese and other dispersed refugee camps outside the OPT where conditions are deplorable. Achcar says all Palestinians everywhere have the same rights, and those in the camps "live in the worst misery....(they are) victims of oppression and...expulsion from their land and they have a right to self-determinaton....no one has the right to divide the Palestinian people." Unless these and all Palestinians are included in a settlement, it's a recipe for permanent war, and the way to do it is by "referendums of the concerned populations." This is democracy and the opposite of the sham Oslo agreement that was a diktat giving Israel what it wanted and the Palestinians nothing. Arafat, on his own dictatorial authority, got it through as his "get-out-Tunis-free-pass-and-return-ticket-to-the-OPT-plus-fringe-benefits-granted-for-his-surrender" even though the majority of the Palestinian Liberation Authority (PLO) Executive Committee members rejected the deal that should have arrived stillborn.
Chomsky believes any long-term solution should be a single unity federation with federated autonomous areas, or better still an Ottoman empire-style "no state" solution with the Palestinians having their own large degree of autonomy in their own territories, with a two-state settlement used as a first-step toward it. Achcar's preference is for the West Bank to be merged into a democratic, monarchy-free Jordan because the majority in that country is Palestinian and the West Bank was part of Jordan from 1949 until Israel seized it in the 1967 war. Achcar and Chomsky both agree that Palestinians living inside Israel, who are second-class citizens of the Jewish state, should either have the right of local autonomy in their concentrated areas or be able to join a Palestinian or Jordanian-Palestinian state.
The Peace Process
For decades, Israel and the US have been long on rhetoric and empty on pursuing any serious steps toward a just peace and equitable settlement for the Palestinian people totally at their mercy and receiving none. The two powers systematically ignored UN resolutions toward that end and also routinely ignore all international laws and norms interfering with the Jewish state's intent to do as it pleases.
Over the last half century, the US used its Security Council veto authority dozens of times preventing any resolutions from passing condemning Israel for its abusive or hostile actions or harmed its interests. It also voted against dozens of others overwhelmingly supported by the rest of the world in the UN General Assembly effectively using its veto power there as well. And it supported Israel's long and deplorable record of flagrantly ignoring over five dozen UN resolutions condemning or censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians or other Arab people, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on or urging the Jewish state to end them. Israel never did or intends to up to the present, including the mass slaughter and devastation it inflicted on Lebanon in its five week summer blitzkrieg there and its ongoing daily killing-machine attacks against the Palestinians the IDF is allowed impunity to get away with.
The Israelis pursue their interests ruthlessly with full support from the US and the West. After the 1967 war, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 242 to end the belligerency between the warring states. It stressed "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and called for the "withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces from territory occupied in the recent conflict" and the right of each country "to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries." It was an attempt to achieve "land for peace," but it failed because Israel drew its own interpretation and never withdrew from the territory it occupied as was called for.
Earlier in 1948, after the state of Israel was established, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 that affirms the right of refugees to return to their homes as codified in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states "everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." It also states in Article 15 that "everyone has the right to a nationality." Various Geneva Conventions also affirm these rights that clearly establish the absolute and universal "right of return" in international law. Israel's admittance as a UN member state through Resolution 273 was conditioned on its accepting and implementing Resolution 194 which ever since it refused to do. Under these conditions of joint US-Israeli intransigency more rigidly in place today than ever, how can there ever be a meaningful peace process. The latest so-called "road map" led nowhere even before Ariel Sharon ended any pretense of a peace process when he desecrated the Noble Sanctuary by his provocative September 28, 2000 visit.
Today the Bush administration gives Israel carte blanche approval to do whatever it pleases and funds it lavishly to do it. The Jewish state gets billions annually in direct aid, huge low or no-interest loans, state-of-the-art technology and the latest US weapons, and about anything else Israeli leaders ask for including going along with the most flagrant violations of all international laws and norms that include waging wars of aggression and ethnic cleansing to seize whatever Palestinian territory they wish for illegal settlement developments and the Annexation/Separation wall the International Criminal Court in the Hague (ICC) ruled unanimously against saying construction must end and affected Palestinians be compensated for their losses. Israel ignored the ruling, and so has the US and world community.
The dialogue on the Israel-Palestine conflict is so important it comprises nearly one-third of the book and is far too wide-ranging to cover in detail here. In addition to what's discussed above, it includes:
-- discussion on the legitimacy of Israel as a state.
-- efforts to achieve a lasting peace and how that process should be pursued.
-- the Palestinian view of a just settlement that ranged from the early-on view that Israel should be wiped off the map to the Oslo sellout surrender.
-- Israeli politics in the longtime dominant Likud and Labor parties as well as the breakaway Kadima party Ariel Sharon formed in November, 2005 before his disabling stroke and now run by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
-- Palestinian politics and the accession of Hamas to power in January, 2006 made possible by years institutionalized Arafat-led Fatah corruption and its surrender and subservience to Israeli authority.
-- ways people in the West can work for and support justice for the long-suffering Palestinians including a discussion of boycotts, divestment and other tactics to achieve it.
-- the myth of anti-Semitism and how Israel and its supporters exploit it.
-- anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia that's very real and that Chomsky calls the "last legitimate form of racism" although it's hard to ignore the vicious demonization of all immigrants of color, especially Muslims and Latinos entering the US illegally in desperate search of jobs to replace the ones NAFTA destroyed.
The above discussion took place in January, 2006 that was then supplemented with separate commentaries by each author in July.
Gilbert Achcar's July, 2006 comments
Achcar focuses first on the situation in Iraq at mid-year which has continued to deteriorate since his comments were made. Even then he stressed how "frightening" things had become. Aside from what he describes as political jockeying and "tugs-of-war" following the December, 2005 parliamentary election (which was more of a mirage than an election with the US running everything behind the scenes besides cleaning the streets after the daily dozens of car-bombings and killings), Achcar feels things hadn't yet reached the scale of a full-blown civil war. Instead he characterizes it as a "low-intensity" one. Holding something more serious at bay he feels is "the persistence of a unified Iraqi government (and) Iraqi armed forces" along with "foreign armed forces playing the role of deterrent and arbiter."
Achcar believes maintaining that status plays into the US plans for "Divide and Rule", and many Iraqis (rightly) believe the US (and maybe Israeli) operatives (in the form of "Salvador option" death squads) are behind some of the worst supposedly "sectarian" attacks like the one in February, 2006 destroying the golden dome and causing heavy damage at the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra that's one of Shi'a Islam's holiest sites. Achcar also believes if this is, in fact, the US strategy, Washington is "playing with fire" because dividing Iraq into three parts is a "recipe for a protracted civil war" in his view. It would also jeopardize US control over the bulk of Iraq's oil that's located in the Shiite-majority south of the country. Achcar thinks Washington's best interest is to allow a low-intensity conflict to continue and try to establish a "federal Iraq, with a loose central government (with the US behind the scenes in charge)."
Finally, Achcar compares the US forces to a "firefighting force" saying the occupation by its actions is throwing fuel on an Iraqi fire, and the only solution is announcing a total and unconditional withdrawal. The Association of Muslim Scholars pledged to call for an end to the resistance as soon as a timetable for withdrawal is established. So far, the Bush administration overtly refuses to consider it saying (without the "stay the course" and "cut and run" rhetoric) it will only leave when the country is stabilized which is impossible as long as US forces are there - a sure-fire formula for a high-intensity worst-case scenario "snafu." That obstinacy may be softening, however, since the formation of the ISG that's expected to propose an alternative agenda going forward soon to be made public.
Hamas in Power
Achcar explains that Palestinians voted for a Hamas-led government because of what was pointed out above - the failure of years of institutionalized corruption under Fatah rule and the abdication of its responsibility to its own people, opting instead to be little more than Israeli enforcers in the OPT. Their election, however, was not the outcome Israel or the US wanted, and the Palestinians have paid dearly ever since for their electoral "error." Hamas is now Israel's public enemy number one in the OPT, but ironically relations between the two weren't always hostile. Despite Hamas' adherence to Islamic fundamentalism and a strategy of retaliatory suicide attacks in the 1990s, Israel lent the organization (known as the Islamic Resistance Movement) support in the 1980s to check the growing authority and legitimacy of the PLO then that had suspended its own retaliatory attacks in favor of a political solution Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir explained he would never agree to.
Today, Israel has an Olmert-led government, but the overall strategy hasn't changed. Israel won't accept a political solution or a Hamas-led PA it can't control. The New York Times reported that right after the January election, US and Israeli officials met at the "highest level" to plan the destruction of Hamas by "starving" the PA and making the people in the OPT pay the highest price. It erupted full-force after the minor June 25 Kerem Shalom crossing incident and has been ongoing mercilessly below the radar ever since. The result is a current state of mass-immiseration of the Palestinian people and the virtual destruction of a viable Hamas-led PA with the full support of the US and the West. Achcar now believes "prospects for peace in the region are at their bleakest, for the present, and only further descent into barbarism looms on the horizon." Since his July comments, things have continued to worsen, and the situation today in the OPT is at its lowest ebb.
The Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon Conflict
Hezbollah emerged out of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and oppressive occupation that followed. It was formed to resist the occupation, expel the Israelis (which it finally did in May, 2000), and it remained an effective opposition force ever since. It's also an important political force and is represented by 11 lawmakers in the Lebanese Parliament (notwithstanding the recent resignations that may be temporary) and has two government ministers in the country's cabinet. But it also maintains a military wing as a needed deterrent to Israeli oppression (and its summer, 2006 aggression) and represents the only effective force against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the region.
That military wing proved more than the IDF bargained for after Israel launched its five week summer blitzkrieg against Lebanon, planned months or years in advance, that it initiated in response to Hezbollah's minor cross-border incursion on July 12 that may, in fact, have happened inside Lebanon. Israel's response was swift and disproportionate, as it was in the OPT. It acted to neutralize Hezbollah as a political entity and as an effective resistance force against Israel's imperial designs on the country. It also wanted to destroy Lebanon as a functioning country, ethnically cleanse the southern part of it up to the Litani River, and annex the territory it's long coveted for its value as a source of fresh water as it did the Golan in the 1967 war.
But things didn't go quite as the US and Israelis planned. Hezbollah's resistance proved formidable even in the face of an IDF "shock and awe" reign of terror against the country that left it a devastated near-wasteland. The Israelis failed to accomplish their objective and were forced to withdraw. The country is now monitored by so-called (Israeli-approved and friendly) UN Blue Helmets and Lebanese Armed Forces replacing the IDF on the ground under a fragile UN-brokered ceasefire arrangement that could end any time Israel again wishes to unleash its war machine on whatever pretext it chooses.
Achcar explains that Israel's aggression against Lebanon and the OPT "bodes ill for the future of the region....(and) feeds various kinds of fanaticism that inevitably backfire on the perpetrators and their own countries (as it did in New York and Washington in 2001, Madrid in 2004 and London, 2005)." He also blames the US for its failure of responsibility. Unless Washington changes its Middle East policy, stops its own aggression in the region, and ends its support and funding of its Israeli imperial partner there will be no end to the current "decent into barbarism and the spiral of violence and death that affect the region and spill over into the rest of the world."
Noam Chomsky's July, 2006 comments
The Israel Lobby
Chomsky commented on the spring, 2006 Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the power of the Jewish Lobby on US foreign policy but wasn't able to address the powerful case James Petras made for it in his important and penetrating new book on the subject just out that discussed it in much greater depth. Maybe in a second printing hopefully as Petras devoted the final part of his book challenging Chomsky's view on the Lobby's power, listing what he calls Chomsky's eight "dubious propositions" and following that with what he calls Chomsky's "15 erroneous theses." Petras said he did it because of Chomsky's enormous stature making whatever his views are on any issue stand out prominently. On the issue of the power of the Jewish Lobby, Chomsky and Petras have strongly opposing views, and it would be a valuable exercise for both these noted scholars to have a point-counterpoint interchange.
Chomsky acknowledges that Mearsheimer and Walt produced a serious piece of work that "merits attention." He doesn't doubt "there is a significant Israel lobby" but believes Mearsheimer and Walt (and others) "ignore what may be its most important component." He stresses the importance of "concentrated economic power" as always being the prime determinant of US policy.
The US and Iran
Chomsky updates his assessment of the prospects of a US attack against Iran indicating evidence is accumulating that there's broad opposition to it that includes the "international community" that he says is technical language for a powerful Washington clique (including those on the ISG) and those joining with it like Tony Blair and the French. He also indicates what limited information is available suggests the Pentagon and intelligence services also oppose hostilities. Still, he and others know that once high-level administration neocons make up their mind, they regard opposing views as almost treasonous and often ignore the best of advice to pursue their most extreme imperial aims. There are mixed signs on Washington's possible intentions toward Iran, and for now no one can say for sure what will happen.
For many years, Iran has tried to normalize relations with the US to no avail. It began in the 1980s, and Chomsky explains that in 2003 President Khatami, with support from "supreme leader" Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, sent the Bush administration a detailed proposal to do it through a Swiss diplomat who was rebuked for having delivered it. The "supreme leader" stresses his country poses no threat to any other, including Israel, and that developing nuclear weapons is contrary to Islam even though Iran has every legal right to develop its commercial nuclear program which it intends to do unobstructed. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is in full compliance with it based on years of monitoring of its facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Israel, on the other hand, never signed the treaty, is known to have 200 - 300 or more nuclear weapons and sophisticated delivery systems for them, has implied its intention to use them if it chooses, and is a nuclear outlaw - but one with an important ally the Iranians lack.
At this stage, Chomsky believes the US is virtually alone in considering an attack against Iran and refuses to engage in any serious negotiations to prevent one. He still doubts there will be one and thinks instead Washington will opt for an agenda of "economic strangulation and subversion, possibly (coupled with) support for secessionist movements they can 'defend' by bombing Iran." The way the US goes about bombing other than a little softening up, any such campaign against Iran likely would be on the order of the March, 2003 one against Iraq and Israel's summer blitzkrieg against Lebanon - although it might not last as long. Still, Chomsky made these comments before he knew what would likely come out of the ISG, and that points to no further conflict in the region and more reliance on diplomacy including with Iran.
Still, back in July, two key considerations stood out that still can't be ignored. For at least a decade, Israel has pushed the US to attack Iran, and in recent years its political and military leaders have declared their intention to do it in the immediate future either alone or in partnership with the Bush administration. Secondly, as Chomsky observes in his writings and in this dialogue, US "imperial management" demands "obedience" and recognition of "who's boss." Those choosing an independent course can generally expect a healthy dose of Washington-directed regime change policy that won't end until the mission is accomplished even if it takes decades. So while the ISG proposal may table any hostilities against Iran for now, once Iraq is stabilized, if it ever is while US forces occupy the country, Iranian help may no longer be needed and the country may again be elevated to target status. For now though, that's all just speculation.
Saddam learned about Washington-think the hard way, and the US has been directing it at Hugo Chavez in Venezuela for 8 years, the mullahs and new President Ahmadinejad in Iran for nearly three decades and Fidel Castro in Cuba for almost a half century. Hegemons are like elephants. They never forget and never forgive. These countries and all others choosing to serve the interests of their own people above those of the "lord and master of the universe" will always face the "almighty's" wrath in the form of regime change efforts sooner or later to bring them into line by whatever means it takes to get the job done. That's how rogue hegemons operate.
It may now just be saber-rattling bluff and bluster that the corporate media has intensified a growing level of WMD-type reporting about the Iranian nuclear threat and a powerful US carrier multi-strike group force happens to have converged in the Gulf and eastern Mediterranean. A failing administration needs a steady drumbeat of media-led terror threat hysteria, and it's rather nice to stage it in that part of the world this time of year. It may just be intimidation that for many months the US has been flying unmanned aerials drones over Iran picking out targets and has had as many as 1,000 covert operatives in the country doing the same thing with 400 or more sites already apparently chosen. Famed musician Duke Ellington once explained: "it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing," and so far, "the fat lady" has done little more than clear her throat. No political analyst knows for sure what the Washington neocons have in mind when even those with final say may still be undecided. They already have an uncontrollable situation on their hands in Iraq, they have to consider what comes out of the ISG, and they may be unwilling to risk making a bad situation far worse.
The Israelis as well saw their best laid plans go awry when Hezbelloh humiliated the vaunted IDF in its summer blitzkrieg against the Lebanese people. It emerged from the conflict stronger than ever, has few illusions about Israel's intentions and will never disarm and leave itself and its people defenseless. It's not likely Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora or his government in Beirut will press for that either although Chomsky calls Hezbollah's failure to do it its most controversial act. UN Resolution 1559 called on its armed militia to disarm and disband, as unreasonable and impossible as that now seems in the wake of the summer conflict. Hezbollah might suggest it would do it provided the IDF did as much, but that's about as likely as convincing a carnivore to become vegetarian. As long as an armed-to-the-teeth aggressive Israel pursues its imperial agenda for unchallengeable regional dominance, the only effective deterrent against it are the non-state actors like Hezbelloh now more popular and resilient than ever.
Confrontation with Hamas and Hezbollah
Chomsky again explains the disdain the US and Israel have for outliers - "deviant" states or organizations that forget "who's boss" and offend "the masters by voting the wrong way in a free election." When it happens, the whole population is made to pay the supreme price for the transgression by being starved to death economically and literally as well as being beaten into submission by brute force with no tolerance allowed to resist being pummelled by "shock and awe" attacks, seeing their countries plundered and land annexed, their people mass-murdered, raped, arrested and tortured for decades. It's called imperial license to act with impunity while any resistance in self-defense is called terrorism.
The US-Israeli joint aggression against Lebanon and Hezbollah was days old when Chomsky commented on it. When it was suspended in mid-August, it was on the basis of an uneasy interregnum that still hangs by an Israeli-controlled hair trigger it can squeeze off starting the whole ugly business over again any time it wishes and on any pretext. Lebanon now lies in ruins, thousands were killed or wounded, over a million were displaced and it may take a few decades of regeneration to come back if Israel will even allow that to happen. Only in the alternative media are accusations of war crimes made and cries for justifiable retribution that will never come from the aggressors or those complicit with them by their acquiescence or silence. Justice today is a long way from being served, and on that Chomsky and Achcar would surely agree strongly.
Chomsky ends his commentary referring to Lebanon being destroyed (he had yet to see how severely), the OPT being pummelled beneath the radar, and the Palestinian state being crushed in plain sight with no effort made to stop the slaughter and destruction. There never is when a rogue "Goliath" is smashing a defenseless "David." It's part of the deeply rooted "imperial mentality" of just business as usual. Chomsky uses of one of Gandhi's many great quotes as a fitting ending. When asked what he thought of Western civilization, he allegedly said "I think it would be a very good idea." He also said "An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind" and "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." There are noble and courageous people now working to do just that.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
I am a 71 year old, retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
I heard about this on the Sam Seder show on Air America Radio this morning. Just think, it came from the ultra conservative Ben Stein (of the "Bueller, Bueller" fame).
In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning - New York Times:
"Everybody's Business In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning, By BEN STEIN
NOT long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.
Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.
Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.
“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”" posted by progressivegrannie
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The day she visited the dissecting room
They had four men laid out, black as burnt turkey,
Already half unstrung. A vinegary fume
Of the death vats clung to them;
The white-smocked boys started working.
The head of his cadaver had caved in,
And she could scarcely make out anything
In that rubble of skull plates and old leather.
A sallow piece of string held it together.
In their jars the snail-nosed babies moon and glow.
He hands her the cut-out heart like a cracked heirloom.
In Brueghel's panorama of smoke and slaughter
Two people only are blind to the carrion army:
He, afloat in the sea of her blue satin
Skirts, sings in the direction
Of her bare shoulder, while she bends,
Finger a leaflet of music, over him,
Both of them deaf to the fiddle in the hands
Of the death's-head shadowing their song.
These Flemish lovers flourish;not for long.
Yet desolation, stalled in paint, spares the little country
Foolish, delicate, in the lower right hand corner
By GARDINER HARRIS, November 23, 2006
Their rooms are a mess, their trophies line the walls, and both have profiles on MySpace.com. Stephen and Jacob Meszaros seem like typical teenagers until their mother offers a glimpse into the family’s medicine cabinet.
Bottles of psychiatric medications fill the shelves. Stephen, 15, takes the antidepressants Zoloft and Desyrel for depression, the anticonvulsant Lamictal to moderate his moods and the stimulant Focalin XR to improve concentration. Jacob, 14, takes Focalin XR for concentration, the anticonvulsant Depakote to moderate his moods, the antipsychotic Risperdal to reduce anger and the antihypertensive Catapres to induce sleep.
Over the last three years, each boy has been prescribed 28 different psychiatric drugs.
Last year in the United States, about 1.6 million children and teenagers — 280,000 of them under age 10 — were given at least two psychiatric drugs in combination, according to an analysis performed by Medco Health Solutions at the request of The New York Times. More than 500,000 were prescribed at least three psychiatric drugs. More than 160,000 got at least four medications together, the analysis found.
by Tom Hayden
Some call it marginal, but organized push swayed world opinion
Although rarely credited, the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq.
To many observers, the movement seems feckless and marginal, its rallies an incoherent bazaar of radical sloganeering. Yet according to Gallup surveys, a majority of Americans came to view Iraq as a mistake more rapidly than they came to oppose the Vietnam War more than three decades ago. So how could there be a peace majority without a peace movement?
Foreign Affairs, the journal of the foreign policy establishment, wondered about this riddle in a 2005 essay by John Mueller reporting a precipitous decline in public support for the war even though "there has not been much" of a peace movement.
In January, when congressional opinion was shifting against the war, a Washington Post analysis made eight references to "public opinion," as if it were a magical floating balloon, without any mention of organized lobbying, petitioning, protests or marches. That was consistent with a pattern beginning before the invasion, when both the New York Times and National Public Radio reported that few people attended an October 2002 rally in Washington, only to admit a week later that 100,000 had been in the streets.
It is not in the nature of elites to acknowledge people in the streets. Foreign policy is seen as the reserve of the privileged and sophisticated, protected from populist influence. But if anti-war sentiment is truly unimportant, why has there been so much government secrecy and domestic spying?
Two years ago, San Francisco voters supported withdrawal from Iraq by a large margin. Last year many activists sought an anti-war candidate to run against Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Shortly afterward, she shifted from a vague centrism to support for Rep. John Murtha's call for withdrawal.
When Sen. Hillary Clinton was booed at a liberal pre-election rally recently, it wasn't accidental that she chose to begin supporting Sen. Carl Levin's proposal to start a phased withdrawal by year's end. Understandably, she didn't want booing throughout her presidential campaign.
Little reported in this month's electoral upheaval were the referendums demanding immediate withdrawal that passed in Chicago and several Illinois suburbs. One year ago, anti-war resolutions passed in 49 of 57 cities in Vermont.
Perhaps these events go largely unnoticed because of a false paradigm that anti-war protesters must be isolated, howling, fringe figures. That doesn't fit Cindy Sheehan or the military families who have turned against the war.
Even defined as a street phenomenon, the anti-war movement has commanded significant numbers. The global movement surely succeeded in pressuring foreign governments against supporting the U.S. invasion in 2003. The February 2003 protests were the largest turnouts in history before a war began. The August 2004 demonstrations at the Republican convention in New York were unprecedented in convention history, including the 1,800 arrests (approximately three times the number arrested in Chicago in 1968.)
It is true there have been periodic lapses in street protests since 2003, but these can be explained by the surge of activists into anti-war presidential campaigns like that of Howard Dean. Not only were thousands involved, but MoveOn.org's voter fund raised $17 million in 2004, most of it from 160,000 contributors averaging $69 donations.
In this year's election, MoveOn activists made 1 million calls to their elected officials, and poured thousands of dollars and volunteers into campaigns. New Hampshire elected to Congress Carol Shea-Porter, a woman previously known for pulling up her outer garment to display an anti-war slogan.
To disregard forces such as these in the definition of the anti-war movement is a sleight-of-hand, something like eliminating Eugene McCarthy's New Hampshire campaign in March 1968 from the history of the anti-Vietnam movement.
The phenomena of the Netroots and indymedia, new since 1999, have opened up vistas of dialogue, resistance and confrontation far beyond the streets and teach-ins of college towns.
This resistance is more remarkable when one considers the establishment's post-Vietnam strategies to terminate the spread of the Vietnam Syndrome, which supposedly had weakened the nation's resolve for war.
The 18-year-old vote was delivered along with the end of the military draft by a White House bent on domestic pacification. But now, as Foreign Affairs warns, the inoculation has failed and an Iraq Syndrome is replacing the Vietnam Syndrome.
Based on a disease-control model, this Iraq Syndrome will cause Americans to question the supposed benefits of having the largest military budget in the world, an imperial presidency or policies of policing the world, according to Foreign Affairs. But it seems healthy, not a sign of sickness, for the citizens of a democratic state to question government secrecy or the use of their taxes for torture.
An irreverence toward power, too, is a healthy sign, in a country showered with fear-inducing propaganda, where not a single mainstream media organ has called for bringing our troops home either now or within a year.
If history is any guide, the recommendations of the elite Iraq Study Group may well be designed to placate, or divide, the anti-war sentiment that was a driving force in the Nov. 7 election.
Alongside a military crackdown in Baghdad and possibly a strongman government, there will be talk of beginning a "partial withdrawal" in several months, depending of course on "conditions on the ground." There may be an attempt to carve up Iraq (politely known as "partition"), but none of these plans is likely to stop the insurgency.
If ever consulted, anti-war voices might propose the following:
First, seek a dialogue with anti-occupation forces in Iraq, from politicians to insurgents, to work toward a cease-fire and a longer-term conflict resolution process.
Second, announce the withdrawal timetable that about 80 percent of Iraqi people and 60 percent of the American people want.
Third, initiate a diplomatic offensive, beginning with Iran, to seek regional global assistance in dealing with security, reconciliation and reconstruction issues.
Because the anti-war movement remains voiceless in the coming debates, the only recourse is to prepare widespread demonstrations and ground organizing in the key presidential primary states, to make it impossible for any candidate to become president in 2008 without pledging to end the war and occupation. If there is no peace movement, there will be no peace.
Monday, November 27, 2006
"Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country," he wrote in his suicide note. "... If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country."
- Malachi Ritscher
[I posted on my other blog when I read about Malachi, but last night my friend "NEWS CONSUMER" reminded me of him, and I felt Malachi needed more...I see there is much more on his suicide protest in the news this past week than when it happened...]
The following op-ed piece was written by Jennifer Diaz.
I heard you, Malachi
November 9, 2006
Did you ever burn your hand on a stove? Do you remember the pain of it?
On Friday, November 3, a man doused his body with gasoline and set himself afire to protest the war in Iraq . He died quietly in flames. His name was Malachi Ritscher.
Haven't seen it in the news? Me neither, which is kind of strange if you ask me, considering that it happened right here in downtown Chicago in front of hundreds of commuters during morning rush hour. The only conventional newspaper coverage to date was a tiny paragraph that appeared in the Saturday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then...nothing.
Should we concerned about the lack of coverage? This is serious, friends. You don't have to be a communication scholar to know that the news media go by the maxim, "When it bleeds, it leads." In a time of intense controversy over war, a man offers up his life and endures prolonged, excruciating pain to make a tangible statement of his belief in peace - are we to believe that this isn't newsworthy?
When Thich Quang Duc, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, set himself on fire in 1963 to protest the corrupt and brutal regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, it was all over the media. A lucid, well respected American citizen makes the ultimate sacrifice on American soil four days before a national election - I ask again: is there no story here?
I would assert that there are two stories here. One is that A MAN SET HIMSELF ON FIRE NOVEMBER 3rd FOR WHAT HE BELIEVED IN. The other is that, in a society where a rogue government is afforded the power to "create reality" and where the once objective news media have become politicized conglomerates either owned by or cozy with the powers that they are supposed to be watchdogging, a lack of coverage on a newsworthy story warrants close scrutiny.
Deeply disturbed by this event since I got word of it, I felt compelled to investigate it further. In memory of Mr. Ritscher, I write now of both stories.
As you read, I implore you: agree or disagree, but do not be indifferent. This man's message was important enough to him to choose an excruciatingly painful death - so that you and I would hear it.
A traffic nuisance
Malachi Ritscher had a home-made sign with him when he left the house Friday morning. Firefighters found it next to his charred remains. It read, "Thou shalt not kill."
A jazz aficionado who produced professional recordings of countless performers in local venues, Ritscher was well loved in the Chicago jazz community and has been described by members of that scene as being a warm, modest and selfless individual. A long-time music enthusiast, Ritscher was a fixture at several local jazz haunts. He was said to be very generous - band members tell that he would pay the admission fee for their gig, record their performance, and then offer them the recording he had made free of charge. Many of the recordings were later sold commercially. Others corroborate Ritscher's generous nature. "He gave me peppers from his garden!" cried bartender Janice W., tearing up when she heard what he had done.
Ritscher was deeply disturbed by the United States' waging of war in Iraq , which has led so far to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In his mission statement, posted on his homepage along with a self-written obituary, he writes of his morbid actions:
"I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians...What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy? If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country."
One can only imagine what Ritscher must have been thinking as he made his way to the site of his self-immolation - the aptly chosen "Flame of the Millenium" sculpture west of Chicago 's downtown loop. Would Americans appreciate his sacrifice? Would it be a force for good in the world? One thing he surely didn't expect, as he watched a sea of morning commuters crawl by on the nearby Kennedy expressway: that it would go unnoticed.
But that is just what has happened. At some point after Ritscher's ordeal began, a motorist called police to report that a statue was burning. Except for those who happened to read the blurb in the Sun-Times or to see a short "breaking news" spot on Chicago's CBS2 local news station, the hundreds of motorists who drove by the incident still know it only as a traffic annoyance - that "statue-fire" that was slowing things up on the I-90 Friday morning.
A different kind of news hole
Because there has been no further coverage of it in any of the main news outlets, they - and most other Americans - will never know what Ritscher did - what one man was willing to do to make a difference in the world.
"I don't understand," people have told me. "Why wouldn't the papers run it?" Their puzzlement comes from a lingering, tenacious belief in the objectivity of the news. Moments like these - high news value, no story - are particularly valuable in that they expose our news media for what they have become: corporate black boxes from which the only news that escapes is that which cooperates with profit margins and political allegiances.
In the new era of "synergy," or coordinated advertising among corporate affiliates, media conglomerates have formed alliances with some of the (other) largest companies in the world. Time-Warner/AOL, the globe's largest media conglomerate and owner of CNN, is affiliated with cooperative giant Kraft and Viacom, another corporate behemoth. Additionally, the generous campaign contributions invariably made by such conglomerates to politicians suggests another kind of synergy - a political one. As it pertains to objective news reporting, synergy means that there are more toes to step on - and therefore more rules to follow - about what types of stories reporters can run (and more importantly, not run).
The fact that Ritscher's bold anti-war message came right before an election, combined with the conspicuous lack of coverage on the event suggests a conservative bias to the news, not a liberal one, as goes the government-sanctioned myth on the topic.
Some will suggest "copycat prevention" as an explanations for the lack of coverage; news outlets are known to occassionally self-censor sensational acts of murder or suicide in order to avoid glamorizing them and inspiring similar behavior in others. But they routinely break this rule when the murder or suicide is deemed important enough for the public to know about. Reports of school shootings have been followed by more school shootings, but we still hear of those. Why? Because the American public needs to know what's going on in our schools. We also need to know the effect the war is having on its citizens.
Although his act might have had some influence on the midterm elections, had it been heard, the relevance of his message extends beyond any short term outcome. Instead, Ritscher entreats Americans to change their attitudes.
Lamenting what he saw as a moral vacuousness in American culture, the would-be martyr felt that Americans are "...more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world." Ritscher saw the problem as being due to a gross deficiency of personal responsibility in American culture, and offered his self-immolation in a spirit of unified atonement.
Some have suggested that Ritscher's actions can be explained by mental illness. It seems clear that the man was deeply troubled. But it is not clear how that negates his message. At a time when 10% of Americans are taking psychiatric medication, the marginalization of "the mentally ill" as an identifiable group of people radically different from ourselves is making less and less sense. Besides "disturbed," Ritscher is also described by those who knew him as being an animated, friendly person who talked enthusiastically of his many interests and travels in addition to his political beliefs.
Another description that people have applied to Ritscher's mind-boggling choice is "senseless." But his own mission statement offers an elegant response to that notion:
"My position is that I only get one death, I want it to be a good one. Wouldn't it be better to stand for something or make a statement, rather than a fiery collision with some drunk driver? Are not smokers choosing death by lung cancer? Where is the dignity there? Are not the people the people [sic] who disregard the environment killing themselves and future generations?"
In addition to intent, the mission statement reveals a strong sense of moral duty and a faith in the God of his understanding. In the document, he presents his act as an example of a lived, choice-based faith that he feels is lacking from modern religious life.
In a gentle - but pointed - rebuke to Christian pop culture, which is said to have been a key factor in both of George W. Bush's presidential campaigns, Ritscher asks, "Who would Jesus bomb?" And alluding to the intense and politicized culture warring of recent years, he implores Christians, Jews and Muslims alike to believe that "God's message is tolerance and love, not self-righteousness and hatred."
As beings we are born with a life currency and the administrative powers to spend it as we see fit. Some will denounce Malachi Ritcher for squandering his life-money. Others will love him for putting it where his mouth was. No matter where you fall on that continuum you must agree: his act should buy him more than a mere traffic mention. Unfortunately, all the papers want these days is the green stuff. --
Jennifer Diaz is a graduate student of communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago . She can be contacted at iheardyoumalachi.org or at indiejennn (at) gmail.com.
Ritscher homepage, "Mission Statement":
Ritscher homepage, Obituary:
Ritscher homepage, March, 2005 protest:
CBS2 news spot:
Chicago Reader online music blog:
FAIR media watchgroup:
Informative but technically-lacking documentaries on an interesting social movement
Anarchism in America; The Free Voice of Labor (2006)
Two documentaries by Steven Fishler and Joel Sucher
Studio: AK Press/MVD AKV006
Video: 4:3 full screen, color and B&W
Audio: PCM mono, English & Yiddish
Length: 130 minutes
The first of these two documentaries deals with anarchism in general, with emphasis on its origins and history. It runs 75 minutes. The second film is 55 minutes and concerns the Jewish anarchists who were active in the labor movement and published an anarchist newspaper in Yiddish for 87 years. Its title is the same as the documentary, and historian Paul Avrich narrates this film.
Well-known anarchist writers such as Kenneth Rexroth, Karl Hess and Ursula LeGuin are interviewed or speak in the films. There is archival footage of anarchist leader Emma Goldman. Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys speaks about his anarchist motivations in the punk rock movement, and writer Murray Bookchin visits a Libertarian Party convention and opines that they are really anarchists underneath - even though Libertarians don't want to eliminate central government entirely (as do anarchists) - just to minimize it. There are some informative clips from Yiddish dramatic films illustrating some of the early history and struggles of the anarchists.
Some man-on-the-street interviews establish that most people connect anarchists with the image of a fat bearded man holding a ball-shaped bomb with the wick sparking. Yet those in the films who have dedicated their lives to the movement believe strictly in nonviolence and feel that anarchism is actually a peace movement. They are strongly antimilitarist and were persecuted for protesting against the First World War. The movement was founded by Russians and Europeans who came to America thru Ellis Island hoping for a better life who often found conditions as bad or worse than in their homelands. They organized, helped one another, launched protests, and worked for better working conditions. Their basic aim has been ultimate human justice for all, not just for the few. They oppose the idea of authority itself. Some anarchists refer to the state and the church the twin evils of society. There is a split among anarchists between free-market (right) and socialist (leftist) anarchists. Their Yiddish newspaper was down to 1700 subscribers and had to close because it was only charging $7 a year subscription and just the mailing alone cost double that, but if they raised rates their elderly subscribers couldn't afford it anymore. All the tireless workers on the paper had become very elderly and no young people were interested in continuing the effort. Parents said they didn't insist because a primary anarchist rule is that people should be totally free to do their own thing and not be dictated to.
Both documentaries cover a fascinating political and philosophical area which is unfamiliar to many, and the various personalities are intriguing people. However, both are among the most amateurish documentaries I have viewed in the current spate of such films. The one of the newspaper staff is a bit better, but both seem to have been made some years ago and just now being offered on DVD. Several of those speaking onscreen have a serious and distracting sibilance in the mike pickup, and the framing of the subject speaking is often very odd. In one interview we see a straight-on view of the interviewer, who sounds off-mike because he is pointing the mike at the subject; yet the subject is shot from behind and to one side almost as if it was important to keep him anonymous. The historic stills are very dark and murky and there is much zooming in and out on shots.
- John Sunier
Sunday, November 26, 2006
So, war -- well, Einstein said this after World War I. He said, “War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished.” War has to be abolished, you know. And it’s -- I know it’s a long shot. I understand that, but you have to -- when something’s a long shot, but it has to be done, you have to start doing it. Just as the ending of slavery in this country in the 1830s was a really long shot, but people stuck at it, and it took 30 years, but slavery was done away with. And we can see this again and again. So, we have a job to do. We have lots of things to do.
One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It’s a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We’ve seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we’re aiming for in this country.
Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that’s how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.
The good news is that the Republicans lost.
The bad news is that the Democrats won.
So why don't the Yanquis just go home? Is all this not rather odd? Three thousand of their own dead, tens of thousands critically maimed. And still they stay. Why, they absolutely refuse to even offer a timetable for withdrawal. No exit plan. No nothing.
No, it's not odd. It's oil.
Oil was not the only motivation for the American invasion and occupation, but the other goals have already been achieved -- eliminating Saddam Hussein for Israel's sake, canceling the Iraqi use of the euro in place of the dollar for oil transactions, expansion of the empire in the middle east with new bases.
American oil companies have been busy under the occupation, and even before the US invasion, preparing for a major exploitation of Iraq's huge oil reserves. Chevron, ExxonMobil and others are all set to go. Four years of preparation are coming to a head now. Iraq's new national petroleum law -- written in a place called Washington, DC -- is about to be implemented. It will establish agreements with foreign oil companies, privatizing much of Iraq's oil reserves under exceedingly lucrative terms. Security will be the only problem, protecting the oil companies' investments in a lawless country. For that they need the American military close by. 
What a mad raving dinosaur am I!
Democratic Party leaders think that the election validates their pursuing a centrist path. Arnold Schwarzenegger credits his re-election as California governor to his moving to the center (or at least pretending to do so). They and their colleagues would have us all believe that the American people have resolutely moved to the center, abandoning the "extremes". But is that really so? I maintain that most Americans are liberal, and many even further left. I think that this would be revealed if the public was asked questions along the following lines?
Would you like to have a government-run health care system, which put an end to the for-profit health care corporations and hospitals, and which covered all residents for all ailments at very affordable premiums?
Do you think that when corporations are faced with a choice between optimizing their revenue and doing what's best for the environment and public health, that they should always choose in favor of the environment?
Do you think that abortion is a question best left up to a woman and her doctor?
Do you think that the United States should officially be a totally secular nation or one based on religious beliefs?
Do you think that big corporations and their political action committees exercise too much political power?
Do you think that corporate executive salaries are highly excessive?
Do you think that the tax cuts for the super rich instituted by the Bush administration should be cancelled and their taxes then increased?
Do you think that the minimum wage should be increased to what is called a "living wage", which would be at least $10 per hour?
Do you think that all education, including medical school and law school, should be free, subsidized by the government?
Do you think that the government should take all measures necessary to guarantee that corporations have retirement plans for all workers and that the retirement funds are safeguarded?
Do you think that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake?
Do you think that United States support of Israel is excessive?
Do you approve of the treatment of people captured by the United States as part of its so-called War on Terror -- the complete loss of legal and human rights, and subjected to torture?
For those readers who think that I'm presuming too much about Americans' disenchantment with their economic system, I suggest they have a look at my essay: "The United States invades, bombs, and kills for it, but do Americans really believe in free enterprise?"
And for those readers who wonder where all the money would come from to pay for the education, medical care, etc., keep in mind that one year of the US military budget -- that's one year -- is equal to more than $30,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.
The Administrative Detention Facility at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin is nestled at the back of the Camp Parks Army Reserve Forces Training Area north of Interstate 580 at the edge of the Tri-Valley.
It is here, behind two barbed-wire-capped security fences in a series of low slung buildings that look like little more than farmworker shacks that the United States of America has imprisoned a 24-year-old freelance journalist named Josh Wolf.
He refuses to give federal prosecutors unaired video he shot of a violent July 2005 street protest in San Francisco in which a police officer was seriously injured and a police car damaged.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered him jailed in August. He was freed briefly on appeal, then on Sept. 22 ordered back to Dublin, where he has been since.
Earlier this month, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Wolf's request for another hearing, making it likely that he will remain locked up until July, when the grand jury investigating the case expires.
Under the California "shield law," prosecutors can't subpoena a journalist's unpublished material. But there are no such protections in federal court. The damaged police car was purchased with a U.S. government grant, making, quite literally, a federal case out of it.
Wolf is sticking to principle, arguing in court papers that what's at stake is "the right of a reporter to conduct legal newsgathering activities without fear."
The point is that journalists can't do their jobs and get people to trust them if the government simply uses them as a tool of law enforcement.
Because Wolf ran a blog and sold video footage to television stations, and because he often approached his work of documenting the anarchist community as an activist, there is a continuing debate in news circles over whether Wolf is "really" a journalist.
News people, especially newspaper people, can be a stodgy lot, me included. There's been a lot of looking down noses at Wolf's plight.
Some colleagues for whom I possess a great amount of respect don't believe Wolf deserves the same protections as, for example, Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, the San Francisco Chronicle reporters whom a federal judge has ordered jailed because they refuse to say who leaked them secret grand jury transcripts in the BALCO sports doping case.
I believe that he does.
All across the country, news organizations -- including the owner of this and other Bay Area newspapers -- are consolidating and cutting staffs.
Meanwhile, less traditional places to get news, most notably the Internet, are growing. Wolf may be a bit of a neophyte, but he arrives at a time when neophytes and reporters of principle are needed.
It may both be easier to be an independent journalist than ever before and more needed in America than anytime since the days Thomas Paine published "Common Sense."
Journalists have always been mavericks and independents, the best among us raking muck and raising hell. The first newspaper I ever worked for was called The Whale, a free, small tabloid in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Its publisher, Richie Sellentin, was a former stock-car racer and a born-again Christian whose sentences were so peppered with profanity that he ended each one with the words, "Forgive me, Lord."
He started his newspaper because he had a story to tell.
People in his rural neighborhood drew their drinking water from private wells. Then the water became contaminated. The government didn't react quickly enough. The local newspaper wasn't very interested in the story. So Sellentin started his own newspaper.
He had no college degree or journalistic experience other than some work at small radio stations -- just desire and the knowledge that the freedom to disseminate information was his bedrock right as an American. He faced a lot of hurdles.
There wasn't enough electric current in the old auto shop that he converted to an office to power the bulky Thatcher press he bought to print his papers. So Sellentin, a mechanical genius, mounted a Ford Pinto engine on blocks and used it to power the press.
Among my many jobs were writing stories, taking photographs, bundling and distributing the newspapers and checking the Pinto engine's oil level and the spark-plug gaps on printing day.
Guess what happened when Sellentin published stories about families without safe drinking water? The government rushed in to build water mains.
Today, Sellentin probably wouldn't have started a newspaper. He would have started a Web site and a blog. He would have used new technology to tell an old story, one of power ignoring the plight of working people.
Whatever technology is used to get a story doesn't make the storyteller any less of a journalist, whether it's a car engine on blocks or a microchip.
To say that Josh Wolf isn't a journalist is to say that Richie Sellentin wasn't a journalist.
I know better.
It is time for all journalists and the people who value them to take the U.S. government's imprisonment of Josh Wolf much more seriously and call it what it is: a blatant assault on the First Amendment.
Free Josh Wolf.
Peele is a Times investigative reporter and the winner of numerous awards for reporting on freedom of information issues. The Watchdog appears monthly. He invites reader questions and comments on public records and government access issues. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
Palestinians are the Priority: an open statement of commitment to the Palestinian Solidarity Cause Created and written by Mary Rizzo
This petition is brought to my attention by DesertPeace
There are individuals within the Palestinian solidarity movement seeking to create divisions by:
* deliberately shifting focus away from Israel's war crimes and its supremacist Zionist ideology;
* imposing unilateral agendas by presenting both sides as victims;
* sabotaging service to the just cause of the Palestinian people;
* ignoring the issue of right of return for the Palestinians;
* utilising the platform of the Palestinian discourse to argue about anti-Semitism, which is not a Palestinian problem and not created by Arabs.
Our primary and single concern is solidarity with the Palestinian people.
As ethical human beings we consider it our obligation to:
* do all we can to allow the information to be diffused as widely and as quickly as possible;
* ensure the argument of the oppression and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people stays in the forefront;
* present as clear and honest a picture as possible of the meaning of Zionism and the Jewish State;
* to cross the divide and to unite in our war against the Zionist crime.
We accept and believe in equality of all persons, regardless of their race, religion, political or other orientation. We believe that full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt, and we recognise that their attachment to their homeland is a fundamental and unalterable condition. To that end we advocate for one unified State with equal rights for all its citizens.
Any attempts at censoring reasoned critique of Israel and Zionism must be refused a priori, as it is in conflict with the goal of seeking to protect and support the Palestinian people - as their empowerment is the only way to peaceful coexistence for all the populations of the Middle East. Any attempts at dictating what the Palestinians should do will be looked upon with great circumspection and suspicion. Palestinians themselves wish to construct their own future and are not pawns to be shifted on the chessboard.
We demand free speech for sincere critics of Zionism and call for an end to campaigns created in order to ostracise its most vocal critics. Smear campaigns will not be tolerated, as we recognise that they are the instrument of choice of Zionists, and detract energy from our work. We will not hesitate to expose the instrumental usage of them, no matter the claimed principles of those who are engaged in creating such campaigns. On the other hand, open dialogue and reasoned argumentation is welcome and greatly encouraged as a tool to understanding and collaboration.
The indigenous people of Palestine are facing extermination by the hands of the Jewish State, and the world keeps silent. The sooner we draw public attention to Israel's needless wanton destruction, the sooner we can do away with this horrifying, insufferable situation.
If you agree with this statement, please sign the petition.
Friday, November 24, 2006
by Geoffrey Hoppe and Tobias
"Shaumbra” means Family and Deep Inner Friendship
1. Body aches and pains, especially in the neck, shoulder and back. This is the result of intense changes at your DNA level as the "Christ seed" awakens within. This too shall pass.
2. Feeling of deep inner sadness for no apparent reason. You are releasing your past (this lifetime and others) and this causes the feeling of sadness. This is similar to the experience of moving from a house where you lived in for many, many years into a new house. As much as you want to move into the new house, there is a sadness of leaving behind the memories, energy and experiences of the old house. This too shall pass.
3. Crying for no apparent reason. Similar to #2 above. It's good and healthy to let the tears flow. It helps to release the old energy within. This too shall pass.
4. Sudden change in job or career. A very common symptom. As you change, things around you will change as well. Don't worry about finding the "perfect" job or career right now. This too shall pass. You're in transition and you may make several job changes before you settle into one that fits your passion.
5. Withdrawal from family relationships. You are connected to your biological family via old karma. When you get off the karmic cycle, the bonds of the old relationships are released. It will appear as though you are drifting away from your family and friends. This too shall pass. After a period of time, you may develop a new relationship with them if it is appropriate. However, the relationship will be based in the new energy without the karmic attachments.
6. Unusual sleep patterns. It's likely that you'll awaken many nights between 2:00 and 4:00 AM. There's a lot of work going on within you, and it often causes you to wake up for a "breather." Not to worry. If you can't go back to sleep, get up and do something rather than lay in bed and worry about humanly things. This too shall pass.
7. Intense dreams. These might include war and battle dreams, chase dreams or monster dreams. You are literally releasing the old energy within, and these energies of the past are often symbolized as wars, running to escape and boogiemen. This too shall pass.
8. Physical disorientation. At times you'll feel very ungrounded. You'll be "spatially challenged" with the feeling like you can't put two feet on the ground, or that you're walking between two worlds. As your consciousness transitions into the new energy, you body sometimes lags behind. Spend more time in nature to help ground the new energy within. This too shall pass.
9. Increased "self talk." You'll find yourself talking to your Self more often. You'll suddenly realize you've been chattering away with yourself for the past 30 minutes. There is a new level of communication taking place within your being, and you're experiencing the tip of the iceberg with the self talk. The conversations will increase, and they will become more fluid, more coherent and more insightful. You're not going crazy, you're just Shaumbra moving into the new energy.
10. Feelings of loneliness, even when in the company of others. You may feel alone and removed from others. You may feel the desire to "flee" groups and crowds. As Shaumbra, you are walking a sacred and lonely path. As much as the feelings of loneliness cause you anxiety, it is difficult to relate to others at this time. The feelings of loneliness are also associated with the fact that your Guides have departed. They have been with you on all of your journeys in all of your lifetimes. It was time for them to back away so you could fill your space with your own divinity. This too shall pass. The void within will be filled with the love and energy of your own Christ consciousness.
11. Loss of passion. You may feel totally disimpassioned, with little or no desire to do anything. That's OK, and it's just part of the process. Take this time to "do no-thing." Don't fight yourself on this, because this too shall pass. It's similar to rebooting a computer. You need to shut down for a brief period of time in order to load the sophisticated new software, or in this case, the new Christ-seed energy.
12. A deep longing to go Home. This is perhaps the most difficult and challenging of any of the conditions. You may experience a deep and overwhelming desire to leave the planet and return to Home. This is not a "suicidal" feeling. It is not based in anger or frustration. You don't want to make a big deal of it or cause drama for yourself or other. There is a quiet part of you that wants to go Home. The root cause for this is quite simple. You have completed your karmic cycles. You have completed your contract for this lifetime. You are ready to begin a new lifetime while still in this physical body. During this transition process, you have an inner remembrance of what it is like to be on the other side. Are you ready to enlist for another tour of duty here on Earth? Are you ready to take on the challenges of moving into the New Energy? Yes, indeed you could go Home right now. But you've come this far, and after many, many lifetimes it would be a shame to leave before the end of the movie. Besides, Spirit needs you here to help others transition into the new energy. They will need a human guide, just like you, who has taken the journey from the old energy into the new. The path you're walking right now provides the experiences to enable you to become a Teacher of the New Divine Human. As lonely and dark as your journey can be at times, remember that you are never alone.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians
[Thanks to Toni from MRR for this piece]
by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro
Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.
Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?
Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country -- and in particular in Plymouth --is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology.
According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.
The truth is a sharp contrast to that mythology.
The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus "discovered" anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture.
They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod -- before they even made it to Plymouth -- was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians' winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry. They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.
The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.
About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in "New England" were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are treated either as quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible.
When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to "go back where we came from."
Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.
National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth, where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.
But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.
Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial. Bill Clinton apparently does not feel that particular pain and has refused to grant clemency to this innocent man.
To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the "Pequot miracle" in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.
Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass fifty percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services.
Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?
Or perhaps we are expected to give thanks for the war that is being waged by the Mexican government against Indigenous peoples there, with the military aid of the U.S. in the form of helicopters and other equipment? When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them 'illegal aliens" and hunt them down.
We object to the "Pilgrim Progress" parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered indigenous ancestors.
Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working class white people.
The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country.
As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, "We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us."
[Mahtowin Munro (Lakota) and Moonanum James (Wampanoag) are co-leaders of United American Indians of New England.]
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
A great democracy offers citizens sharp political choices. That’s what gives political freedom meaning. With two-party control of America’s political system, political options and discourse are stifled. We badly need more visible third parties that can fully participate and reach the public with information about their platforms and candidates. In a nation that so worships competition it is hypocritical that there is so little political competition.
In truth, the Democratic-Republican partnership opposes competition. They have convinced Americans that votes for third party candidates are “wasted.” Yet the biggest wasted vote is for a Democrat or Republican that is almost certain to win or lose, and takes your vote for granted. This year, even in the face of enormous public dissatisfaction with the two major parties, and a widespread belief that both are hopelessly corrupted by big money from corporate and other special interests, too many voters sheepishly picked from column D or R, even for sure winners or losers.
In this remarkable year of attention to many hot issues, especially political corruption and the Iraq war, voter turnout was just over 40 percent, no better than the previous midterm election. One valid view of why 60 percent of eligible voters did not vote is that they saw little difference between the two major parties and, therefore, that their votes do not matter. It’s “they’re all a bunch of crooks and liars” belief, bolstered this year with so much evidence of crooks in congress and liars in the Bush administration. Where supporters of Republicans or Democrats see different positions on issues, cynical citizens see nothing but campaign propaganda and civic distraction through divisive issues. So they do not vote their conscience or for lesser-evil candidates. Most have too little information about third party candidates to vote for them.
The untold statistical story is that a minor party could achieve political victory if half of the huge block of nonvoters chose its candidates, because major party winners typically have just a little more than half of the smaller voting block.
The Democratic and Republican Parties take no chances. They have used their muscle to keep third party candidates out of public campaign venues, notably televised debates, and to create rules that make it difficult fort them to get on ballots. As Tom Knapp correctly observed: “Major party candidates are cowards. They don't want to take stands that might cost them votes, but they don't want to be publicly outed as the walking blobs of Silly Putty™ they are, either. So, they erect difficult ballot access barriers to keep third party candidates out altogether, and when that fails they collude with their fellow Silly Puttians to, as best possible, exclude their third party opponents from the public discussion.”
The two-party duopoly prefers lesser-evil voters, people considered as independents, moderates or swing voters that can be influenced by aggressive and generally misleading advertising to choose the least worse Republican or Democratic candidates. Nor do the two majors really want a large voter turnout across the entire spectrum of political views. They prefer to have well defined niche categories of voters that they can target.
Here is a wonderful perspective about third parties by Rick Gaber: “They give the otherwise ignored, used, abused, betrayed, disgusted, disappointed, frustrated, victimized, insulted, and/or outraged voter a chance to cast a vote without feeling dirty afterwards, a reason to go to the polls AT ALL in the first place, and maybe even to come out of the voting booth feeling GREAT!”
In contrast to lesser-evil voters -- third party voters proudly vote their conscience. They know that the odds are totally against their choices winning. Yet they do not stay home. They are true believers in American democracy. Their votes are strong messages. They are more strategic voters with long term hopefulness about political reform, as compared to tactical lesser-evil voters hoping against reality that when the two-party pendulum swings to the other side something really good happens.
The 2006 Elections
The 2006-midterm elections showed the importance of votes for third party candidates who keep fighting for a place in the American political system, despite being intentionally disadvantaged by very little money and media coverage.
Consider the Democratic majority in the Senate. Votes for third party candidates in three states were critical. Much media attention went to Democrat Jim Webb’s win in Virginia by a relatively small number of votes, less than 9,000. As always, the media drummed up business by creating visions of a tight race between the two major party candidates, and ignored the third party candidate Gail Parker of the Independent Grassroots Party. As an independent fiscal conservative she received over three times the number of votes that gave Webb the victory over Republican George Allen. If just over one-third of those conservative voters had voted for Allen, the Democrats would not have a Senate majority. As elsewhere, some conservative voters rebelled against the Republican Party.
The Montana senate race was also featured. Democrat Jim Tester won over Republican Conrad Burns with less than a 3,000-vote margin. The Libertarian Party candidate, Stan Jones, received over three times that margin. So, if about one-third of those voters had gone Republican, the Democrats would not have a Senate Majority. Generally, Libertarian candidates take votes away from Republicans, and certainly that was justified this year.
In Missouri, Democrat Claire McCaskill beat Republican Jim Talent with a margin of about 46,000 votes. Frank Gilmour from the Libertarian Party received more than that. He and Lydia Lewis from the Progressive Party of Missouri received some 66,000 votes. So, if two-thirds of those voters had gone Republican, the Democrats would not have a Senate majority.
Frank Gilmour said this about his candidacy: “For far too long, our votes have been taken for granted; we either vote for the lesser of the two evils or we do not vote at all. My candidacy offers you a choice other than the two main parties. I'm not on the extreme left or the extreme right. I live in the middle, and I believe that most of you feel the same way. Our politicians give us partisan bickering instead of legitimate debate. If you vote for me it will send a message to the two main parties that enough is enough!”
Democrats owe a lot to those third party candidates and voters in those three states. Republicans deserved what they got.
These three cases, as many other races in previous years, demonstrate that votes for third party candidates are not “wasted.” Nor should such candidates be falsely labeled as “spoilers.” The implication is that they intentionally want to toss the race to one of the major party candidates. In truth, third party candidates believe in their mission to raise things neglected by the major parties. They can attract people that would not otherwise vote. They add integrity to our democracy. If anything, their current underdog status provides a constant reminder of just how unfair the political playing field is. They are not the problem. Our status quo political system is the problem, because two-party rule has “spoiled” our democracy.
Libertarian candidate Garrett Michael Hayes smartly put down the spoiler accusation this way; "I'm in this to win. Whether or not that's a realistic goal, I don't care. his country was founded by people whose goals sounded unrealistic at first."
Though Democratic control of the House was a clearer victory, it should be noted that there were six races where votes for third party candidates exceeded the margin of victory. In five of the six, the Republican candidate won.
Looking at a larger scale, how many Americans voted for third party and independent candidates in the Senate and House races? In the House races almost 1.6 million Americans went outside the two-party choices, and in the Senate races the total was almost 1.3 million conscience voters. These numbers are typical of past elections. Even though a majority of Americans expressed dissatisfaction with both major parties in many opinion surveys this year, they did not vote at all, were very motivated to get rid of Republican control by voting for Democrats, or did not know enough about minor party candidates.
Of the 33 Senate races, 26 had third party and independent candidates, or nearly 79 percent, with Libertarian Party (the nation’s largest minor party) candidates in 16 states and Green Party candidates in 9 cases. In the 435 House races there were third party and independent candidates in 193 of them, or just over 44 percent. Libertarian Party candidates were in 112 races and Green Party candidates were in 37 races. Unsurprisingly, there was no winner.
Obscene Money Defeats Heartfelt Money
Shamefully, obscene amounts of money go to the two major parties, maintaining their grip on the system. Paltry amounts go to third party candidates, mostly small contributions from individuals and financing from candidates themselves. This makes it incredibly difficult for them to inform citizens about their positions and qualifications. Usually, for senate races, major party candidates spend millions, while third party candidates spend in the low thousands. In Montana, Jones spent less than $2,000 on his campaign, compared to $3.8 million spent by the winner Tester. In Virginia, Parker raised just $1,200 in donations and financed much of her campaign through an $18,472 personal loan, compared to over $12 million raised by the loser Allen. In California, Todd Chretien, a losing Green Party Senate candidate, raised $58,000.
Recall that nearly $3 billion were spent by the two major parties on the congressional races this year. In contrast, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics found that the 74 federal third party candidates still in the running this election cycle raised a total of just $3.1 million, according to campaign finance data available Oct. 19. (This includes only those candidates who would be new to Congress and who have reported raising at least some money to the Federal Election Commission. It excludes pseudo-third party candidate Joe Lieberman who raised about $15 million.) That $3.1 million amounts to just one-tenth of one percent of what the major parties spent.
Those 74 candidates received 39 percent of their contributions from individuals, compared to less than one percent from PACs and 58 percent from their own pockets. Note that Federal rules require candidates to file detailed reports of their contributions and expenditures if their campaign raises or spends $5,000 or more, which many third party candidates do not exceed.
Michael Badnarik, a Libertarian House candidate in Texas noted: "In order to win an election, not only do I have to convince voters I'm the best candidate, I have to let them know I'm a candidate at all." He raised more than $393,000, the second-largest third party fundraiser remaining in the midterm elections. In first place was Bruce Guthrie, a candidate for the Washington Senate seat, with $1.2 million, mostly his own money. That leaves about $1.5 million for the other 72 candidates nationwide.
Into the Future
Despite the enormous challenges facing third-parties, there are two newer energetic efforts that merit attention. One is the Populist Party of America. Here is its general statement of purpose:
The Populist Party promotes, and strives for, Common Sense solutions; Democracy as a tool to reign in the power of the federal government and ensure a greater responsibility of all public servants to the People. Populism, as espoused by the Populist Party, is a federal system of government where the final check and balance on the power of the politicians is directly in the hands of the people; with the Constitution and Bill of Rights serving as legal boundaries to protect the rights and liberties of all citizens.
The other effort is the Centrist Party. Here is its mission statement:
To achieve common sense solutions that have at their heart, a tone of balance and fairness. To create a strong foundation for mainstream America that is not prone to undue influence from left/right arguments. To move away from character assassinations and toward solution oriented campaigns. To empower people, and the vote, with a strong position not confused by one-sided agendas, or special interests. To formulate policies and solutions that regard short, medium and long term considerations at all levels.
If more established third parties have not attracted you, for whatever reason, you may want to look into these newer efforts.
What is really needed by third parties is a shift away from all the usual issues that the majors talk about. Instead, what would resonate with the public is an emphasis on structural or systemic political and policy reforms to revitalize our democracy. This requires acknowledgement that our system is broken, has become a plutocracy, and no longer serves ordinary people. Something the majors can’t admit, because they broke it. Why fix a system that they control?
Also, some collaboration among third parties would be useful, such as working together at times to back a candidate to create a better chance of success. This year, for example, Kevin Zeese was listed in many places as a Green Party candidate for the Senate from Maryland. In fact, he also was backed by the Libertarian and Populist Parties and ran a “unity for change” campaign. He reportedly had only about $60,000 to compete against the intense multi-million dollar campaigns of his Democratic and Republican opponents, so his message never reached many people.
This is how Zeese summarized the merits of having the backing of three parties and showed how they were not mutually exclusive but complemented each other:
The Populist Party stands for economic fairness for working families and recognizes how the U.S. has rigged our tax laws, finance system and corporate welfare to help the wealthiest while shrinking the middle class and undermining those whose work makes our country great.
The Libertarian Party emphasizes the central value of liberty -- freedom -- which is under attack in the United States with laws like the Patriot Act, eminent domain and a government that intrudes into private life. We need to consider the question of liberty in every action the government takes because it is our basic freedoms that unleash the creativity, entrepreneurship and greatness of Americans.
The Green Party's ten key values are a common sense outline of where our country needs to go. These values include: grassroots democracy, social justice, ecological wisdom, non-violence, decentralization, community-based economics, feminism, diversity, responsibility and future focus.
What should the American public demand from the federal government? Besides a number of electoral reforms, the issue of money is critical. We need a federal Clean Money/Clean Elections program. It would provide competitive government financing of campaigns for candidates that voluntarily agree to take no other funds, except small contributions from individuals. This approach has been successfully used in several states. It not only opens up races to third party candidates. It helps remove the corrupting influence of big money from corporate and other special interests, because honest major party candidates can also participate.
Now, third-parties are fighting a losing battle to improve the quality of our democracy and government. For the good of our nation, they need our support. A little publicized nationwide poll this past April by Princeton Survey/Pew Research Center reported that 53 percent agreed that we should have a third major political party. What a worthy goal!
If the Democrats now in control of the Congress want to demonstrate their commitment to fighting political corruption and providing more incentives for Americans to vote, then Clean Money/Clean Elections should be aggressively pursued. Will they voluntarily loosen their grip on our political system? Or do they fear stronger competition?
The time is long overdue for Americans to stop voting for candidates that can win, and start voting for those that should win. What lesser-evil voting has produced is entrenched two-party evil. We can do better. If we open our political marketplace to more competition.
Joel S. Hirschhorn is author of the new book, Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.
Alex Jones, Prisonplanet.com
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The people of the planet are free. Humans since the beginning of civilization have struggled against tyranny. We are here with a new declaration of independence, a declaration of free people on the planet earth resisting your tyranny. We do not want your American Union, we do not want your European Union. We wish to live in peace and be free just as you wish to have you secret meetings and be left alone. We are here at great danger and at great expense and with great courage to stand up against your enormous power. We know you are ruthless. We know you are evil. We respect your dark power.
You should know, that as you attempt to set up your world government, you're facing greater and greater problems. Your agenda is faltering. Free humans everywhere know what you are doing. The people have woken up to what you are doing. You are attempting to shut down the internet and the free press. You are failing. The cat is out of the bag. The truth of your world government has now been exposed. We will expose the new world order. We will expose the global crime syndicate.
To David Rockefeller, to the Rothchilds' representatives here, to the Queen of the Netherlands, to all of you, we tell you you are not our queens, you are not our kings, you are not our gods. We do not belong to you. We are not your slaves. We stand as free humans have stood since the beginning of time against the strong men, against the thugs, against the bullies. We are here telling you we will resist the new world order. We will defeat your world government. We will defeat world taxation. We will defeat your control grid. God is on our side.
I stand before the creator of the universe and I ask the creator of the universe, as our founding fathers did in 1776, to lead guide and direct us and to give us the power and the foresight and the understanding and the will to stand against your entire agenda including your final plan of world population reduction of eighty percent that Henry Kissinger penned in 1973.
We stand here as free human beings that love our families, that want to control our own destinies. I know that you have the excuses that you claim you have to have world government to stop world war. But in truth architects of world war two are sitting in your building right now. Like Queen Beatrix, her late husband SS officer.
We are here simply trying to defend liberty. You have threatened us. You have threatened our countries, you have threatened our sovereignty. You have threatened our lively hoods. Your world government in your own statements, in your own policy reports are detrimental to the average man woman and child. You have more power and more money than you could ever spend. You own the central banks that print the money. Why, then, do you continue to dehumanize us? Why do you put mercury in the vaccines? Stani(?)sodium chloride in the water? Why? Why do you put cancer viruses in the vaccines? Why have you used depleted uranium now in four separate nations, the equivalent of 44,000 a-bombs of uranium now in the atmosphere.
Why are you doing this? Why are you so dark? Why are you so destructive? Why are you destroying your own future?
You're arrogant. You have the sickness that elites have had throughout history in their literal, and in some cases figurative, ivory towers. You believe that you are invincible. You are your own greatest enemy. You are an enemy of humanity and the human experience and everything that we are and everything that we could be. You are threatened by the dynamic human free spirit. You are monopoly men. You monopolize the economic systems. You try to monopolize the spiritual systems because you're threatened by independent middle classes developing their own industries that you believe will threaten your monopoly of control and power.
We here, the free peoples of earth, stand against you and your wickedness. The numbers are growing everyday. Millions of people everyday wake up to what you're doing. They understand your program of control and they will resist it.
Again, we implore the creator of the universe to aid us. We pledge our lives, our bodies, our sacred honor, our treasure, all on the line, against you the neo-fascist corporate royalty. We tell you now that your abuse must end. We tell you now listen to the voices inside Bilderberg that understand the truth. We tell you now we know there's dissenting voices in your ranks who say that what you are doing is dangerous. You're hurdling the world towards world war four, as you call it.
We ask you to reconsider your wickedness and your evil. You are being led by a very dark force. You have been manipulated and deceived, yourselves. You know that at the end of your days now, many of you, that all the evil and all the power has not filled you. No matter how many wars and how much evil and wickedness you engage in you feel more and more hollow everyday.
Let me tell you now that I have no fear of you because I have already lived a wonderful life and I've lived for what's good and what's decent and what's beautiful and I believe in the human spirit. My life is overflowing. I am so incredibly happy. I am empowered. I am empowered by the life force. I am empowered by creativity and goodness and the light.
You are filled with the black pits of hell. You are filled with darkness and it will never quench your thirst. Some of you can turn back. I remember interviewing Charlotte Iserbyt whose father was a member of Skull and Bones and Bohemian Grove and as he lay on his death bed dying of cancer, the elite member, that elite member that traveled in your highest circles, repented of what he'd done and cried his guts out. And I believe that man will be in heaven. He won't be visiting where some of you are going in the depths of Hades.
The elite of the world, and that's you, have been waging war on the people, waging war on any free populations attempting to create your world government: a monopoly thought, a monopoly of science a monopoly of finance. You are destroying this species. You are destroying our development. You are bad social engineers. You're like a lion who comes into the pride, that comes into the pride and goes after the cubs because you're threatened of them rising. You're threatened by them. You seek to feed on your own species. You are an upper predator class that is trying to engineer us and dumb us down so we are more easily fed upon.
You will and you are failing now. Your new world order will fall. Humanity will defeat you. The answer to 1984 is 1776. The answer to your 1984 world is the world of 1776.
The human spirit has always risen against tyranny. The human spirit has always overcome fear. The human spirit has always resisted the bully and we are resisting you now as we will for eternity because ideas are bullet proof. And as we all here are standing are flesh and blood the idea of human liberty and human freedom is bullet proof and you will fail.
Your children will rebel against you. Your wives will rebel against you. Your husbands will rebel against you because the truth and decency and freedom is beautiful and is wonderful and is the holy grail you have been seeking that's been right under your nose. Be good. Turn from your wicked ways. Say no to global government. Say no to engineering the human species into a slave state. Your tyranny has failed. You've already been defeated. You can already feel the rumblings as your supports crumble underneath you. The crisis you thought you would create to bring in world government is the crisis that will undo your system. History shows it. You believe you are students of history, look at history. You will reach your world government. You will gain your new world order. But right as you grasp it you will feel the floor beneath you falling. At the very moment you gain the apex of your power, at the very moment you climb to the summit of that mountain, your defeat is assured. What you seek is your undoing. You have been defeated.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
by Lianne Hart, Times Staff Writer
After a monthlong strike, a contract increases pay, work hours and benefits.
In a major step for labor in this right-to-work city, striking janitors reached an agreement with five major cleaning companies Monday on a contract that guarantees the workers higher wages, more work hours and medical benefits.
About 1,700 janitors walked off the job Oct. 23 after talks broke down, and have staged high-profile demonstrations in a city unaccustomed to noisy displays of civil disobedience.
Strikers dragged garbage cans and trash bags into a busy intersection, then handcuffed themselves to each other and the cans. In another action, they pushed trash bins, mop buckets and brooms through downtown Houston during rush hour.
The janitors make an average of $5.15 an hour, half the wage of their counterparts in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
The contract is a first for the 5,300 Houston janitors who affiliated with the Service Employees International Union last year. Under the agreement, pay for SEIU janitors will increase to $6.25 an hour on Jan. 1. That will go up to $7.25 an hour in 2008, and $7.75 in 2009.
The settlement also guarantees more work hours for janitors who have largely been limited to four hours a night. The workers will be covered by health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2009, and will get vacation time and six paid holidays a year.
Janitor Mercedes Herrera, 37, worked for five years cleaning 18 restrooms in four hours, for $5.15 an hour, at a downtown high-rise. "No benefits, no raise, no nothing," she said.
After years of being what she called "an invisible person," Herrera seemed stunned by the victory.
"I'm so happy, I'm so excited," said Herrera, her eyes bright with tears. "We got justice. This will change my life for my family…. We worked hard, and janitors won big."
The union played up the contrast between corporations raking in record profits from high oil prices, and the people who clean their offices living in poverty.
Deacon Sam Dunning, director of the Office of Justice and Peace for the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, joined politicians and other clergy in urging contractors to "share the largesse."
"What they're asking for is modest by any standard," he said.
Success in Houston could build union momentum elsewhere in the South, said Julius Getman, a labor law professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "It's obviously a major victory. Low-wage workers will hear the message that in solidarity lies strength."
But some will still be frightened, he said. "It's not going to immediately usher in the unionization of the South, but I think it's a significant step."
The Houston strike is the latest for the SEIU, which in the last two decades has launched "Justice for Janitors" campaigns from California to Massachusetts.
The strikers' protests were often held near the offices of large companies the union believed were in a position to push cleaning contractors — ABM Janitorial Services, GCA Services, OneSource, Sanitors Services of Texas and Pritchard Industries Southwest — to the bargaining table.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Houston Mayor Bill White said that though he didn't agree with such tactics, he had encouraged the cleaning companies to negotiate with the janitors.
"I consider this a milestone for Houston," he said. "And more importantly, something that will lift the lives of hard-working people who are trying to get by every single day."
Negotiations began Saturday and were all but wrapped up by Sunday afternoon, union officials said. Janitors ratified the agreement Monday evening.
"We have a better future for working families in Houston," said Herrera, a member of the bargaining committee.
At a loss for more words, Herrera pointed to a reporter's notebook. "Just put 'Invisible no more,' " she said.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Worldwide Interest in RTP Stirred
We are making good use of the powerful concept of en masse activist resistance used in the movie, “V for Vendetta.”
“V” is helping us as we build support for the unalienable Right to a Response from Government to our Petitions for Redress of Grievances regarding the Government’s violation of the war powers, tax, privacy and money clauses of the Constitution.
“V” is helping us as we educate the public about the First Amendment’s guarantee of our Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances.
On November 6, 2006, a lone man in a “V” mask and clothing visited security checkpoints at the White House, the main Treasury Building, the Department of Justice and the Capitol, to deliver a letter and the Petitions for Redress. A short videotape of the encounters has made its way around the Internet, including links from sites such as MySpace.com.
The letter informed the leaders of the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government that up to 100 people in “V” masks and clothing would gather in silent vigil at those locations on November 14th to await a response to the Petitions for Redress.
True to his word, at 11:00 A.M. on Tuesday, November 14, 2006, nearly 100 men and women in “V” masks and clothing could be seen walking along different streets in downtown Washington, DC, all heading to Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.
By high noon, the “Vs” were facing the White House, in formation. Some were holding a 40-foot by 25-foot banner that read, “Dear Government…No Answers, No Taxes.” Four were holding smaller signs that read “Obey The Constitution – The Right To Petition.”
They waited about one hour for a representative of President Bush to approach them with some response to the Petitions.
As has been his wont, the President did not respond.
However, photographers, reporters, and tourists responded well to the rich imagery provided by the WTP demonstration. The appearance of dozens of “Vs” delivering such a message was attention getting to say the least.
There was a sidewalk press conference with one “V” who had a red rose protruding from his hatband. No tourist with a camera could resist stopping to photograph the scene, whether he or she was alone or part of the very large group of high school students that was on its way to a tour of the White House.
The “Vs” on the outside edges of the formation distributed hundreds of We The People Foundation brochures to anyone requesting one. The supply was nearly depleted by the time the formation moved on to the next location.
After the silent vigil in front of the White House, the “Vs” broke ranks and reformed, with banner and signs, a few hundred feet down Pennsylvania Avenue, directly facing the main Treasury Building where they waited a half hour for a representative of Treasury Secretary Paulson to respond to the Petitions for Redress -- especially the Petition regarding the privately owned Federal Reserve System and the violations of the money clauses of the Constitution.
As has been its custom, Treasury did not respond.
The number of photographers and reporters declined at this point, but the interest among the picture-taking tourists did not.
The “Vs” then marched down 15th Street and Constitution Avenue to the Department of Justice, where they waited for a half hour, with banner and signs for the Attorney General to respond to the Petitions for Redress.
As has been its tradition, the Department of Justice did not respond.
Interestingly, one professional photographer for the “Foreign Press Photo Service” took dozens of carefully crafted pictures while the “Vs” were waiting outside the DOJ building.
The “Vs” then marched to the Reflecting Pool and faced the Capitol as they waited for representatives of the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader to respond to the Petitions for Redress.
Habituated, Congress did not respond.
Knowledge About Our Cause Is Spreading
It is too soon to know the full extent of the public’s information and awareness about the DC event. Here is what we know so far.
We received an email from a reporter who works for Brazil’s newspaper website http://www.estadao.com.br.
He is writing an article and wanted us to answer a few of his questions.
We received an email from the Director of the movie, “V for Vendetta.” He was aware of our events and said he wanted to send a few words of encouragement and was happy that “V” had made it into the popular vernacular. He closed with the words, “Fight The Power.”
An article will appear in Monday’s issue of “TaxNotes,” which is America’s leading tax news and research magazine.
We received word from a man who stated that while he was passing through an airport Tuesday, he saw television images on CNN of the “Vs” across from the White House.
If anyone learns of additional media coverage, please let us know.
Coming: 1,000 “Vs” in DC
Plans are now underway for a GiveMeLiberty 2007 Conference. Most likely it will take place in DC on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On one of those days we hope to assemble 1,000 “V” demonstrators on the street in support of our Right to Petition the Government for Redress of constitutional torts, including our Right to a Response and our Right of Enforcement if Government does not respond to our proper, constitutionally based Petitions for Redress.
We hope to convince those who were responsible for the making of the movie, “V for Vendetta” to help us obtain, hopefully by donation, the 1,000 “V” costumes needed for this next WTP event. If this happens, we would then give one to every person who attends GML 2007.
More to come.
Watch the streaming video documenting the lone V’s visit to the Capital
and his valiant efforts to Petition the officials of the Government.
Try the high resolution link first: 250k cable
If you only have a dial-up connection use this link: 56k dial-up
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
[Thanks to Edna Ellen Poe at the mrr blog for this story]
These guys want the constitution restored-NOW
Dearest Readers, As you know Prissy has been in Washington this week covering various events. The Veteran's Day event will have to posted later in the week-the camera cord is in Ohio...but these pictures Prissy took with the ole cell phone. The quality isn't too hot...but you get the picture;-)
These V guys and a few gals are all business- though they were very nice to Prissy. The group of 60 or so V's had a petition of redress to deliver to each stop. It's her understanding the petitions were accepted.
The Prissy Patriot and the French press, and another blogger were the only media there. More shame on corporate media...this was big news! Take a look. Click any photo to enlarge.
The silent protest began at the White House.
The protest V's met at Lafayette Park, which is directly across the street from the White House. About the park:
Lafayette Park has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, a slave market, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812, and many political protests and celebrations.
These folks were entranced by the costumed protesters.
These teens were yelled at by their "chaperons" for asking why the V's were dressed as such and what they were doing. They came to the park to have lunch, but were quickly routed out of there and told to get back to the "White House."
God forbid we speak with anyone different from ourselves, why that might inspire communication and/or peace when we realize we aren't that different after all. So much for the so-called grown-ups.
The V's were open to educate others with their purpose there in a respectful, non-confrontational manner. They had a very nice book. Here's a peek at the inside of the booklets they gave out.
V's in front of the Treasury Dept.
The V's are not pleased our dollars are no longer backed by gold or silver-thus the silent protest at the treasury.
V's at the treasury.
One of Prissy's dearest readers was a V! Good job V!
Perhaps you recognize this place. Before Gonzo came to town, it was called the Dept. of Justice. Under his reign it has become a Dept. of InJustice-to many a good public servants dismay...Some public servants pass the V's-they asked Prissy for permission first.
The V's spooked even the cops. The last time a couple of V's protested, the police said he could not wear a mask.
Why yes he could, as there is no law against protesting with a mask on-not even in Washington, DC. V said he'd be back again, and he'd would bring some friends. He sure did. Prissy found it a very creative way to protest.
V's at the DOJ
End of the line...V's do a photo op in front of the Capital Hill reflecting pool. Those Hillers certainly need to do some reflecting on the message brought to them by these patriotic V's...
We don't know exactly who these V's are...but Prissy talked to a number of them. Some were veterans and some were libertarians. They were all opposed to the war based on lies.
Unlike peace loving hippies, protesting moms and chickens like Prissy, these guys won't do the protest thing forever. Many have fought for their country before and many are willing to do it again. They believe in the constitution, as does Prissy.
Dubya and friends, it would be wise to take the V's strong hint. The government should fear their people, the people should not fear their government. Prissy has a feeling these guys will instill some fear, before they would be willing to abdicate their rights to a government which attempts to use fear to control us all. Whatever it takes...Prissy takes her hat off to you V's, thanks for the message.
Prissy thinks only a fool didn't hear your silent protest, loud and clear. For more about the organization that the V's represent We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc. 2458 Ridge Road, Queensbury, NY 12804 (518)656-3578 or email them at Give Me Liberty!
Forests are branching out across the planet anew, raising hopes that an end to deforestation may be in sight, a new study claims.
The study suggests that deforestation is not as drastic as it once was and that forests are recovering in many countries.
The researchers say that over the past 15 years the amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world's 50 most forested nations.
China and the U.S. have achieved the greatest overall forest expansion, the team says, while tree cover has spread fastest in China, Vietnam, and Spain.
Asia as a whole is shown to have gained 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of forest between 2000 and 2005.
"Earth has suffered an epidemic of deforestation," said co-researcher Jesse Ausubel, from Rockefeller University in New York City.
"Now humans may help spread an epidemic of forest restoration."
Ausubel said the trend identified in the study could "stop the styling of a skinhead Earth" and lead to a 10 percent increase in global forest cover—an area the size of India—by 2050.
The team reports its findings this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This encouraging picture of global forest growth comes from an international research team that studied data from a 2005 forest-resources assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The team advocates "a more sophisticated approach" to measuring forest cover. Continued
Friday, November 17, 2006
From: My friend Sir Real @ http://beernow.blogspot.com
"The first great recognition of how many of us there really were sharing this mystical,
wordless and magnificent experience of the Rainbow Heart,
the infinitely manifest,
the wonder and magic of being-ness
beyond the individual ego,
First Human Be-In
January 14, 1967.
It was not the speeches of Ginsburg,
Leary and the other speakers on the platform
or even the music that touched us with mystic wonder.
The wires were cut, and for a long while there were no speeches, no music.
Only the murmur of 25,000 people,
most of them on LSD,
grooving with each other,
with the sunshine which had come in the midst of a rainy month,
and with the manifest presence of Spirit.
It was so quiet.
Women in lace table cloths, long dresses of oriental fabric,
fantasies from every age and place moved gracefully through the silent crowd.
Men in pied patterns smiled at the sky.
The Diggers gave out turkey sandwiches.
Everybody shared marijuana, apples, LSD and love.
We knew that we were witnessing a massive blossoming of a new religion
in the literal sense of being tied together again.
This religion would never have churches or temples;
this was a religion based on individual freedom and respect;
we "dug each others vibes"
and felt the coming together of an ancient family.
Time dwindled to a no-point.
Heart reached to heart in an almost
soundless outpouring of love.
So when the music and the speeches started,
when the mantra and the rock resounded,
it was an ecstatic exclamation point on a massive experience.
Call it heaven or samadhi;
it set the parameters for a whole movement during the Summer of Love.
Through the catalyst of LSD we had scratched through the surface
of our separateness and recognized ourselves,
our surroundings, all things as One.
That afternoon, we
The Love Generation."
This is an excerpt from an essay that Elizabeth wrote, published in Psychedelic Illuminations Magazine.
It is included in Scrapbook of a Haight-Ashbury Pilgrim by Elizabeth Gips.
During the weekend of Nov. 18, there is a chance that a brief surge of meteors may be observed from Western Europe and Eastern North America. The famous Leonid meteors may come alive and produce a bevy of dozens of meteors within less than an hour’s time [Story].
But forty years ago this week, one of the most stupendous Leonid meteor displays ever witnessed took place over western North America.
A stormy time
The Leonids are a meteor stream where the Earth crosses through a dense clustering of particles at roughly 33-year intervals, sometimes causing shooting stars to rain down from the sky in a meteor storm. The comet responsible for shedding the Leonid debris is designated as 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Over hundreds and thousands of years, a “river of rubble” has formed a closed loop around the orbit, far ahead and behind the comet.
This enables us to observe at least some low-level activity (only around 10 meteors per hour) on an annual basis. But in those years immediately preceding or following the passage of comet Tempel-Tuttle through the inner solar system, our Earth stands a chance of encountering the densest part of the meteor swarm and the potential then exists for very high meteor activity.
And 1966 was one of those years [image].
The grand display was anticipated for sometime during the morning hours of Nov. 17. However, unlike a solar or lunar eclipse where the exact timing and location are known precisely far in advance, forecasting a meteor shower back then was extremely uncertain. Today, meteor scientists can utilize high-speed computer simulations to precisely predict when our Earth will interact with dense trails of comet dust. But such technology did not exist 40 years ago. About the best that any astronomer could do was to make an educated guess.
Interestingly, almost a full century had passed since comet Tempel-Tuttle was last seen. In 1965, German astronomer Joachim Schubart recalculated the comet’s orbit, allowing astronomers to locate the lost comet. Until then, the consensus was that Tempel-Tuttle had disintegrated, and without its continuing supply of dust particles, the Leonids would ultimately fade away. But the comet’s recovery proved that it was indeed still intact and still providing debris for future meteor showers each time it swept past the Sun.
Also in November 1965, observers in Hawaii and Australia were treated to an unexpected surge of Leonid activity, with brilliant meteors darting across the sky at one or two per minute.
Yet despite the 1965 recovery of the Leonid comet and the unusual Leonid activity that occurred later that same year, most astronomers were not very optimistic concerning a possible meteor storm in 1966. After all, similar hoped-for displays back in 1899 and 1932 resulted only in disappointment. Bernard Lovell, a pioneer in the use of radar to study meteors seemingly carved an epitaph for the Leonids when he stated:
“It now seems certain that the main part of the Leonid orbit has been removed from the Earth’s orbit by successive perturbations from Jupiter and Saturn. So the recurrence of the tremendous meteoric storms of the Leonids seems unlikely.”
Another meteor expert, Donald W.R. McKinley agreed, stating flatly that “It is highly improbable that we shall ever again witness the full fury of the Leonid storm.”
Yet, despite these opinions, others had high hopes for the 1966 Leonids.
The most sanguine prediction came from Dr. Kenneth L. Franklin, Chief Astronomer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. Dr. Franklin had carefully examined the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle and came to the conclusion that “ . . . the position of the comet is roughly what it was in 1833. So a dramatic shower like the one that occurred in that year may yet be in the offing for 1966.”
Based on Dr. Franklin’s prediction, a “meteor party” was planned for the peak night of the Leonids in Central Park. New Yorkers of all ages were invited to gather on the Great Lawn at midnight to watch for the shooting stars.
Disappointment for some, triumph for others
I remember that night very well. I was living in the Bronx and planned to be outside in my backyard from midnight through dawn to watch for the Leonids. After coming home from school in the afternoon, I made sure to do all my homework, have an early dinner and then, before getting a few hours of sleep, watched the local TV weathercasters, all of whom were promising no worse than “partly cloudy” weather for prospective sky watchers.
When my alarm clock rang at the stroke of midnight, I bundled up and, with my grandfather in tow, anxiously ran outside to watch the celestial pyrotechnics display.
Instead, to my chagrin, the sky was hopelessly cloudy!
Forty years have passed, yet I can still clearly remember that bitter moment and just how crushed I was. After a few minutes, I sobbed to my grandfather, “But they promised it was only going to be partly cloudy tonight.” To which he sadly replied, “I guess the partly is over.”
At Central Park, an estimated 10,000 people were looking at the same cloud cover.
At least Dr. Franklin had the foresight to be above the clouds in an aircraft, just as he was the previous year when he successfully observed a spectacular comet (http://www.space.com/spacewatch/051021_nightsky_friday.html). He planned to report on the Leonids to a New York radio audience. But as the hours passed, it appeared that even from the plane, the Leonids were not very active. Finally, around 4 a.m., Dr. Franklin announced that his plane was returning to La Guardia Airport and that he was calling it a night.
Ironically, right after that, the fireworks began! (http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov/1966.html)
Beginning around 5 a.m. Eastern Time, Leonid activity suddenly began ramping up. Along the Eastern Seaboard, the dawn sky was brightening, but where clear skies prevailed, viewers were able to see Leonids falling at rates of up to six per minute before it finally became too bright to see the stars.
Farther west, where it still dark, Leonids were falling at a rate described by many as “too numerous to count.” One observer stationed north of Mission, Texas said that meteors falling in all directions gave the impression of a “gigantic umbrella,” appearing to “waterfall” out of the head of Leo.
From Boulder, Colorado, the sky was mostly cloudy, yet in the clear patches as many as 10 Leonids per minute were visible. One astronomer took the initiative to get in his car and drive west on Colorado 119 up Boulder Canyon in a search for clearer skies. Upon his arrival at a dark sky site near Nederland at around 4:50 a.m. Mountain Time, he was “ . . . stunned by the awesome display; I had the feeling that I should be hearing something. There were far too many meteors for any direct count.”
Perhaps the best views were from California and Arizona. At the Table Mountain Observatory, near Wrightwood, California, one resident astronomer commented that he and a colleague “ . . . watched a rain of meteors, turn into a hail of meteors and finally a storm of meteors, too numerous to count by 3:50 a.m. Pacific Time. Instinctively we sought to shield our upturned faces from imagined celestial debris.”
From 6,850-foot Kitt Peak in southern Arizona, thirteen amateur astronomers started watching at 1:30 a.m. local time, counting 33 Leonids in their first hour. “This gave no indication,” the leader of group later noted, “of the spectacle to come.” During the second hour, the rate rose to 192. The meteors were now coming faster and faster and trying to make accurate counts was quickly becoming a fruitless task. Rates had climbed to about 30 per minute at 4:10, when a fireball about 30 times brighter than Venus suddenly exploded. By 4:30 several hundred Leonids were falling per minute and by 4:45, the observers were trying to guess how many could be seen by a sweep of their heads in one second. The consensus of the group was that the peak occurred at 4:54 when the staggering rate of 40 per second (144,000 per hour) was reached!
Today, we know that a dusty trail of debris shed by Comet Tempel-Tuttle back in 1899 was what caused the Great 1966 Leonid Storm. That dusty material had made two revolutions around the Sun before colliding head-on with the Earth on that memorable night 40-years ago. Because such a trail of cosmic flotsam and jetsam is invisible until it enters in our atmosphere, astronomers were playing a game of blindman’s buff not knowing exactly if or when we might encounter it.
Today, with computer technology, it’s a much different situation: Now, astronomers can readily locate the position of Leonid dust trails from the distant past or far into the future (here).
Indeed, the Leonids will periodically shower our planet in the years to come
But sadly, in the year 2028, Jupiter is expected to throw Comet Tempel-Tuttle off from its current path through space, making it all but impossible – at least through the beginning of the 22nd century – to see a repeat of the Great Leonid Storm of 1966.
Specific details about the 2006 Leonids will be given in the Nov. 17 Night Sky Friday. Meantime, an overview is available here.
A federal appeals court has denied a request for a rehearing from a freelance video journalist and blogger who has been jailed for three months for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigation of a violent anticapitalist protest.
The decision Wednesday by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals means that the blogger, Josh Wolf, could be kept in jail until July, when the term of the grand jury expires, said his lawyer, Martin Garbus.
If that happens, Mr. Wolf, who has served 88 days, will be the longest-incarcerated journalist in recent American history, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Vanessa Leggett, a freelance journalist from Houston, served 168 days in 2001 and 2002 for refusing to surrender information about a murder case.
Federal prosecutors have sought to force Mr. Wolf, 24, to testify about a July 2005 protest in San Francisco timed to correspond with a Group of Eight conference of world economic leaders in Scotland. Mr. Wolf videotaped the protest, following anarchists who eventually clashed with police officers. An officer was injured and some property was damaged when a smoke bomb or a firework was put under a police car.
Mr. Wolf was subpoenaed this year by federal prosecutors considering charges of attempted arson in the case. They asked him to testify and turn over all of his video, but he refused, saying he had to protect the identities of those on the tape.
He was jailed in August. In September, Mr. Wolf was granted bail but returned to jail when bail was revoked by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court. In October, Mr. Garbus petitioned for a hearing of the full court, arguing that “the right of a reporter to conduct legal newsgathering activities without fear” was at issue.
On Wednesday, the court denied that petition.
Mr. Wolf has attracted some high-profile supporters, including the Society of Professional Journalists, which has contributed to his defense fund. On Thursday, Lucie Morillon, a spokeswoman for Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, called the decision to hold Mr. Wolf “absurd and unjust.”
“Even if he’s not an experienced journalist with 20 years behind him, he wants to protect his sources, and it’s a decision we respect and support,” Mr. Morillon said.
Mr. Wolf did sell some of the video of the protest to local television and posted other parts on his Web site, joshwolf.net.
Mr. Garbus said he had offered prosecutors the full tape in exchange for his client’s release and exclusion from grand jury testimony.
Luke Macaulay, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, said his office had been consistent in asking for both the tape and the testimony. Mr. Wolf’s mother, Liz Wolf-Spada, said in an e-mail message, “Every hope that is destroyed leaves me feeling like a deflated balloon.”
Mr. Garbus said his client, held in a federal prison in Dublin, Calif., would serve as long as he had to. “He’s not going to give up,” he said.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Claiming the American consumer is in crisis, third-party soft drink Royal Crown Cola called for an end to two-brand dominance, demanding an equal playing field for all and urging sweeping restrictions on the amount Coke and Pepsi are allowed to spend on advertisements.
Representatives from alternative colas discuss their ad platform, above; a public RC Cola display, right.
"Over the past several decades we've seen smaller, independent brands pushed to the sidelines," RC Cola President John Sunderland said Monday. "We cannot compete with the massive amounts the big sodas spend on their ad campaigns—campaigns that obscure the truth and drown out alternative voices in American cola. Rather than an honest, open dialogue, we are instead subjected to a horse race between two giants that ignores the key issues of improved taste and refreshingness."
According to RC Cola's research, Coke spent $1.3 billion on international print, billboard, and TV ads in 2005 alone; Pepsi spent $1.1 billion on a multimedia ad-campaign blitz, including sponsorships and product placement; and RC Cola spent $29,000 on local shopping-circular ads in a total of 32 U.S. states.
"It's all too easy to marginalize lesser-funded labels, especially when Coke and Pepsi can rely on huge war chests funded by the financial backing of corporations like PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company," Sunderland said during a sparsely attended press conference. "In many cases, these corporations have a vested interest in these colas, and are able to saturate the media with their status-quo beverage message. That is just not fair."
"When did all this stop being about refreshment?" he added.
RC Cola's plan would eliminate the use of corporate money to pay for broadcast advertising, as well as ensure that paid advertisements focus only on the demonstrably positive aspects of the cola in question without misleading consumers about its crispness.
Enlarge Image Third Party Jump R
"For instance, a Pepsi ad could still depict a delicious-looking 20-ounce bottle of soda," Sunderland said. "But it will be limited to five beads of condensation per inch of ad space or second of broadcast time." Similarly, Coke would be prohibited from exaggerating the sounds of a consumer opening a can of cola, chugging it, and emitting a satisfied "Ahhh."
RC Cola has also demanded that Coke and Pepsi cease running ads that feature paid spokespeople such as Christina Aguilera or LeBron James, deeming it "deceptive and underhanded" to pay public figures large sums of money to influence potential consumers.
"If someone wants to speak out on behalf of a specific product on their own time, that's their business, but to do it for pay is tantamount to bribery," RC Cola vice president and spokesperson Harold Florence said. "We insist that they say something of substance, rather simply than dance onstage or deliver a ferocious windmill slam behind some flashy logo and an easy sound bite."
Experts predict that Coke and Pepsi will likely find loopholes in the new law by using unlimited corporate soft-drink money on "issue ads," which educate the public about such concepts as taste, thirst, quenchiness, or satisfaction. Coke has already produced a series of issue ads that avoid the use of persuasive language such as "drink," "enjoy," and "buy," but depict excited, happy, attractive people holding Coke products.
Sunderland, however, said he refuses to give up his fight to provide Americans with "a bold new choice."
"There's no real difference between the two brands," Sunderland said. "When you get down to it, Pepsi is really just Coke Lite. What does it say about our country when you step up to the vending machine and there are only two choices?"
"We're here to say that Coke is indeed not it," Sunderland added. "And we're sick of the same old party line: crisp, clean, and refreshing, crisp, clean, and refreshing—isn't it time for a cola that's cool, refreshing, and great-tasting?"
Waldo McBurney lives in two worlds: one of buggies and hitching posts and the other of a growing trend of older Americans working longer.
Still spry and agile at 104, McBurney briskly walks most days from home to office in this High Plains farming community, where he raises bees and sells honey.
When McBurney was born on a nearby farm, flying was left to the birds and people communicated by writing letters. A three-mile trip to town in a wagon took a half hour, and working 10 hours a day, six days a week was the norm.
In October, Experience Works gave McBurney its “America’s Oldest Worker for 2006” award at a ceremony in Washington.
“He may not be the oldest worker, but he is up there and definitely outstanding,” said Cynthia Metzler, president of the national group, which provides training and employment for the senior citizens.
While it can’t be said definitively that McBurney actually is the oldest American working, the odds favor him.
Waldo McBurney, 104, takes a break from tending his bee hives Tuesday in Quinter. McBurney, a beekeeper, was honored recently as America’s oldest worker for 2006.
“I can just go about anywhere and be the oldest. The ones my age don’t run around that much,” said McBurney, with wisps of white hair and weathered face and hands.
McBurney has worked since he can remember. At age 4 or 5, he gathered eggs from the hens in the old sod house where his parents had lived until shortly before he was born. His first paying job at age 13 was guiding a lead team of horses pulling a wheat thrasher. For that, he was paid 50 cents a day.
“After you finished with the chores, we would light the kerosene lamp and read,” he said.
He started gardening on the farm and even now raises fruits and vegetables in his backyard, bending down to pick tomatoes and put them in a pail.
The United States has an estimated 77,770 centenarians, about 0.026 percent of the population. The average American life span is 77.9 years.
‘Testing my humility’
After McBurney’s award, the town erected a sign near his office: “Congratulations, Waldo. America’s Oldest Worker.”
“I never considered myself a great character. They are testing my humility,” he said.
Those who know McBurney say he’s indeed a humble man who believes in helping his neighbor.
“He doesn’t think he’s more special than anyone else. I don’t know if I’ve heard a negative word out of his mouth,” said Laura Kesler, vice president of KansasLand Bank. “He always looks at the positive side, and that’s probably why he’s lived as long as he has.”
For McBurney, work is good.
“I’m not a strong believer in retirement. I don’t think retirement is in the Bible. Maybe it’s there, but I haven’t found it,” he said.
After graduating from college in 1927, he worked a quarter century variously as a vocational-agricultural teacher, county extension agent and at the local co-op. In the 1950s he started a seed-cleaning business. He also took a decades-long hobby of beekeeping and went into the honey business.
He operated the seed-cleaning venture until age 91 and still raises bees and sells honey, although much less than before.
“I’m trying to get out of the bee business because my back isn’t standing up like it should,” he said. “I hope somebody else will be handling the bees. I’ll keep a few at the house to raise our own honey.”
In 2004, McBurney published his book, “My First 100 Years: A Look Back from the Finish Line,” which he sells in his office.
“Selling books isn’t retiring,” he said. “I expect to be working.”
He enjoyed running all his life and at age 65 took up long-distance running. A decade later, he began competing in the Senior Olympics, the World Masters and other events, winning 10 gold medals for track and field events.
McBurney stopped competing a couple years ago, but almost every day he still walks the four blocks from his white framed house trimmed in blue to his Main Street office.
“My running got so slow I could walk as fast as I could run,” he said.
He wears glasses, but his eyesight is good enough that his driver’s license was renewed in September. Yes, he still drives, but not often.
McBurney lives a low-key lifestyle with his wife of 44 years, 92-year-old Vernice. They have five adult children from previous marriages.
“He’s pretty gentle, but he has a mind of his own,” she said.
He said with a chuckle: “When we got married, the deal was she would look after me in my old age and give me a decent burial. Well, she’s taken care of me but she hasn’t buried me yet.”
Keys to good health
McBurney attributes his longevity to many things: genes, exercise, food, attitude and faith. Many in his family lived into their 80s and 90s.
He believes in a healthy diet with lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, much of it grown in his garden.
McBurney says he never smoked or drank alcohol, which he believes helped him live longer.
“I always got along fairly well without them, so I still don’t know the taste of either of them,” he said.
Faith has been the center of McBurney’s life, and it’s why he doesn’t worry about death.
“The Bible says God will supply all your needs,” he said. “I feel like the next life is secure.”
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Black Angel, Robert Nighthawk
Prowling Night Hawk
Take It Easy Baby
Every Day and Night
Cheatin Lyin Blues
"Now I am the prowling night hawk
I prowl everyday and every night
And the reason I prowl so long,
my baby don't treat me right"
Nighthawk (known as Robert Lee McCoy during this period) recorded for Bluebird and Decca between 1937 and 1940 both under his own name and as an accompanist. This was Nighthawk's busiest period on record, recording 22 sides for Bluebird and 4 sides for Decca and many sides as a session musician backing up such artists as Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Sleepy John Estes and many others.
Nighthawk & his brother Percy
Maxwell Street, Chicago
gonna murder my baby,
if she don't stop cheatin' and lyin'
put a hurtin' on her)
Than to be worried out of my mind"
After a long absence Nighthawk returned to Chicago in 1964 and recorded several times including a blistering set taped live on Maxwell St. in conjunction with the filming of Mike Shea's 1964 documentary "And This is Free." Maxwell St. was at the heart of Chicago's black ghetto and was a bustling open air market.
Jewtown Was Jumpin' Like A Champ
The market became a magnet for musicians just arriving to Chicago as well as those already established on the local blues scene. Hound Dog Taylor a veteran of Maxwell Street had this to say: "You used to get out on Maxwell Street on a Sunday Morning and pick you out a good spot, babe. Dammit, we'd make more money than I ever looked at. Put you out a tub, you know, and put a pasteboard in there, like a newspaper. I'm telling you, Jewtown (Maxwell St.) was Jumpin' like a champ, jumpin' like mad on Sunday morning." Nighthawk played regularly on Maxwell St. and in 1964 Pete Welding wrote an account about Nighthawk and his compatriots playing on Maxwell St. for Blues Unlimited magazine: "Right around the corner could be heard the fine group that Robert Nighthawk was leading with John Lee Granderson on guitar and a drummer, whose name I was unable to catch. (probably James Smith). John Wrencher, the one-armed harmonica player came by and sat in for some exciting numbers. Nighthawk played a number of his old songs and especially pleased everyone with his strong "bottleneck" playing; a young harmonica player called Carey Bell later sat in and electrified us all. Nighthawk and Granderson have recently pooled forces and work several nights a week at various clubs."
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
[What can I say, Buk haunts me & seems to come up a lot lately for me when I click Random Poem]
it was on the 2nd floor on Coronado Street
I used to get drunk
and throw the radio through the window
while it was playing, and, of course,
it would break the glass in the window
and the radio would sit there on the roof
and I'd tell my woman,
"Ah, what a marvelous radio!"
the next morning I'd take the window
off the hinges
and carry it down the street
to the glass man
who would put in another pane.
I kept throwing that radio through the window
each time I got drunk
and it would sit there on the roof
a magic radio
a radio with guts,
and each morning I'd take the window
back to the glass man.
I don't remember how it ended exactly
though I do remember
we finally moved out.
there was a woman downstairs who worked in
the garden in her bathing suit,
she really dug with that trowel
and she put her behind up in the air
and I used to sit in the window
and watch the sun shine all over that thing
while the music played.
Monday, November 13, 2006
[THANK YOU to my dear friend online dr from the majority report radio blog for turning me on to this post]
November 12, 2006
Within the next few weeks, Mike Gerber and I will be putting out a collection of our humor pieces from the New Yorker, Atlantic, NY Times, Saturday Night Live and our computers' hard drives. For obvious reasons, it will be called Our Kampf.
Below is one of my favorite pieces from the book, written for the 4th of July, 2002. If you read this site regularly, you'll see that every post that's ever appeared here has been a less sophisticated version of this.
• • •
Declaration of Independence
The unanimous Declaration of the world’s Normal People (we know who we are),
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for the Normal People of this Planet to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with their Leaders, and to give getting along without Leaders a real Shot, courtesy requires that we should declare the causes of this long-overdue separation, just so we’re all on the same page.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Leaders are a pretty dodgy proposition -- That even the best ones are Self-Absorbed Primadonnas, and the rest are seriously Craze-o Lunatics -- That Normal People have the right to tell their Leaders “see Ya, wouldn’t want to be Ya” -- That to secure this right of being left alone, we should set up a special Island to which all Leaders can be sent, so that they can bicker, and posture, and pursue the Phantom of Eternal Fame amongst themselves without Injuring all the rest of us -- That this Island could maybe, this is just off the top of our heads you understand, be like Epcot Center, with the whole world in miniature so the Leaders could conquer it and lose it and bend it to their Mighty Will and lose it again, and generally Ruin It to their hearts’ content, without bothering Us. Prudence indeed will dictate that the long-established Idea of having Leaders should not be changed for light or transient Causes, but, come on. We’ve given this concept plenty of Time, at least 8,000 years, and it’s for the birds. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
The world’s Leaders have somehow convinced us that we are all on different Teams, sort of, and that they are the rightful captains of these Teams.
They have tried to weld us together by constantly harping on our Team’s Great and Glorious Destiny, assuming that we, like them, give a shit. In lower voices, they assure us that we will be in Big Trouble if we don’t do exactly as they Say.
They have persuaded us to try to kill members of the other Teams, instead of following our natural instinct, which is to indulge our curiosity about whether people from different countries have discovered any new Sex Tricks, or have Better Food.
They have gotten us to go on ludicrously dangerous missions against the other Teams, while they remain safely behind at their Impregnable Mountain Redoubts. This has insured that the people responsible for starting Wars always survive, and can’t wait to start the Next One.
They have started innumerable, catastrophic conflicts to, for example, impress some Girl that rejected them in High School, or to prove to their Mother that they’re just as successful as their Older Brother. Read their Biographies if you don’t believe Us.
They’ve informed us that they’ve talked to God, and that He agrees with them Completely.
They have our laws so complicated that, while we know we’re being Screwed, we can never figure out Exactly How.
They think that we’re Fascinated by them, despite the fact that, by steadily reducing our voting rate for The past fifty years, we keep giving them a resolute and obvious Hint.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have humbly petitioned for redress by bitching among ourselves, reading the paper with a weary cynicism, and laughing at the opening monologues on late night television. We have even allowed Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. The cost is finally too dear, and we need a new Strategy.
We, therefore, the Normal People of this Planet, who don’t care who’s on the money, or think that anybody will (or should) remember any of us in 500 years, do solemnly publish and declare that all the world’s Leaders are hereby relieved of their positions; that our feeling is, enough already with the Jihads and the Crusades and Glorious Struggles and Finest Hours; that we believe we will be much better off without them, relying for our safety instead on our inability to organize a three-person trip to 7-Eleven, much less sustained armed conflict; that it’s time to get this Leader Island idea off the ground; that if, once the Leaders have been sent to the Island, any of us develop Leader-tendencies, we will encourage such Persons to develop a Hobby, or get them a Date with somebody Nice, and this will help them remember what’s important. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our dearest Hope that we can finally get some Peace and Quiet. We are not Kidding.
Posted by Jonathan Schwarz
Indian scientists working in a tropical forest in the country's remote northeast have found a rare medicinal plant last seen 115 years ago, a scientific journal reported.
The botanists were working in the Upper Subansiri district of Arunchal Pradesh, an Indian state that borders China, when they found a specimen of "Begonia Tessaricarpa," according to this month's issue of Current Science, an Indian journal. The journal did not say when they found the plant.
The herbaceous plant was once regarded as having medicinal properties by the region's ethnic tribes, and reportedly was used to treat stomach aches and dehydration. It's juices were also reportedly used to ward off leeches.
The plant was first listed in scientific literature by British scientist C. B. Clarke in 1879 and 1890, but had not been seen since, the journal reported.
"This species is still surviving in a few pockets of Arunachal Pradesh and was found growing in damp rocky places," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Kumar Ambarish of the Botanical Survey of India as saying.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify the journal's report.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Posted in Holy Crap at 1:00 am by akamat
Talk of terror coming from overseas doesn’t have me frightened. Nope, not one bit. What has me frightened, is the terrorists we have at home. That’s right; we have our own home-grown Terrorists right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.!
Who are these terrorists?
They have lots of labels: End Timers, Evangelicals, and Bible Thumpers. But whatever label these people are given, their goal is the same: The systematic destruction of our home planet to fulfill their prophesies.
These terrorists believe themselves to be more righteous and correct than the rest of us, and hold our world hostage by plotting and planning a way to destroy it. They are actively participating in the destruction of our home.
Talk to anyone of them and you will quickly find they are PRAYING for the destruction of our planet. They drive the biggest SUV’s and eat like there is no tomorrow. They spend money like they will never have to pay a bill. They have gay sex, but in the same breath they condemn homosexuals and wish illness and death on them. They condemn women who need an abortion, yet they will send young men and women off to war to die
They go to other countries and spread their “word”, the word of “God”, they claim, but what they are really doing is spreading their form of hate throughout the world. The End Timers go to Israel every year and pray that the Jews stay in Israel so that the end of the world can happen. They have parades and banquets to celebrate the fact that Israel is killing their neighbors. They say it’s all part of “GOD’S” plan.
It’s more like Blackmail. “Believe in GOD… OR ELSE
you will burn in hell for all eternity.” I’m sure the Palestinians feel like they’re already living in hell with the constant destruction Israel is lobbing at them every day. All the while the American terrorists are cheering on the bloodthirsty attacks of Israel from the sidelines all the while claiming to be “Warriors for God.”
These are not only my observations; people of the world are starting to wake up to the terrorists. Starting to see that the End Timers living in the States are causing problems in the Middle East to facilitate their goal. And what is their goal? TO FACILITATE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EARTH, so they will be seen as right, as RIGHTEOUS, as JUST, and not just in the perceived eyes of their “God”, but in the eyes of all who might oppose them.
If their goal is to destroy the earth… then that means the death to billions of people and the home they live on, which in my eyes makes them “terrorists”. Simple fact really.
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair” When we’ve stopped them, and they’ve been proven wrong, all that will remain of their prophecies and hatred is rubble and a few scraps of tattered dignity.
By Miss Anne Thropic
THE POET IN THE NURSERY
The youngest poet down the shelves was fumbling
In a dim library, just behind the chair
From which the ancient poet was mum-mumbling
A song about some Lovers at a Fair,
Pulling his long white beard and gently grumbling
That rhymes were beastly things and never there.
And as I groped, the whole time I was thinking
About the tragic poem I'd been writing,...
An old man's life of beer and whisky drinking,
His years of kidnapping and wicked fighting;
And how at last, into a fever sinking,
Remorsefully he died, his bedclothes biting.
But suddenly I saw the bright green cover
Of a thin pretty book right down below;
I snatched it up and turned the pages over,
To find it full of poetry, and so
Put it down my neck with quick hands like a lover,
And turned to watch if the old man saw it go.
The book was full of funny muddling mazes,
Each rounded off into a lovely song,
And most extraordinary and monstrous phrases
Knotted with rhymes like a slave-driver's thong.
And metre twisting like a chain of daisies
With great big splendid words a sentence long.
I took the book to bed with me and gloated,
Learning the lines that seemed to sound most grand;
So soon the pretty emerald green was coated
With jam and greasy marks from my hot hand,
While round the nursery for long months there floated
Wonderful words no one could understand.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
The Arab League strongly criticized the United States for vetoing Saturday a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that sought to condemn an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand Israeli troops pull out of the territory.
The draft had received 10 votes in favor and four abstentions, along with the U.S. vote against.
Arabs had made calls for Security Council action earlier this week after an early morning Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun killed 19 civilians on Wednesday.
The spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government said the U.S. veto wasn't a surprise, and showed America's foreign policy bias in the Middle East
"Such a decision was expected, because the U.S. have already given the green light for Israel to carry on these massacres," Ghazi Hamad told Al-Jazeera television.
"America and Israel represent two faces of one coin, for killing, destroying and torture against the sons of Arab and Islamic nations," the Hamas spokesman said.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I lay awake last night, thinking about this recent sort of housebound, social-life-lacking phase I’ve been in, living in a strange town, knowing I’m not going to stay, and most of the time working, so just keeping to myself in my spare time (aside from my two gracious but rather anti-social themselves housemates). I realized that it’s driven me to spend a lot more of my time online. Common enough, and something I actively try not to let get out of hand. But it hit me last night that, despite this, I have let much of the ‘magic’ slip away.
I used to live each day with a sense of magic, meaning, purpose… but as I’ve spent more time on the internet over the past… almost a year now… while I’ve gained a lot of ‘internet savvy’, I’ve also become more and more (subtly, slowly, insidiously) influenced away from what Seth called the ‘magical approach’ and moved too much towards the rational mindset instead, towards a level of intellectualism that has made me ‘too cool’ to be as optimistic, unabashedly spiritual or ‘magical’ in my approach to life as I used to be. This shift is probably somehow magical and purposeful itself, but nonetheless, I’m feeling it becoming more and more a problem. It’s kept me from posting much here, for instance. It’s made me strive to make this something more ‘objective’ and ‘credible’ than just my own personal blog expressing my own personal experiences and (god forbid) feelings as well as intellectual analyses and critiques on these subjects.
I’ve become a lot less intuitive than I used to be, a lot less trusting of the deeper, psychic forces at work, which I know are there to guide me, but which I hardly even listen for, let alone listen to, these days. That inner self which used to be so integral, so vital to me each day, and really, still is, has been getting drowned out by too many other voices - bloggers, experts, news anchors, fake news anchors, authors, my own rational mind… and no wonder life has become more of a struggle. It seems the more I seek outward for answers, and the harder I work in the outer world, the harder everything is becoming in my private world. I used to take for granted my ability to influence the events of my outer life from within, and my responsibility to use all parts of my mind, not just the rational and practical parts. But it seems I’ve lost touch with and lost faith in the right half of my brain, and in the even deeper impulses, abilities and forces that really influence things.
Earlier last evening before this train of thought (consciously) began, I accidentally knocked a book on the floor, one I’d been meaning to read (for these very sorts of reasons) but kept ignoring. I was in such a hurry, I just left it there on the floor. But suddenly, laying there in bed, thinking these thoughts, I remembered it and had the impulse to pick it up. This time, considering my train of thought, I decided to follow that impulse, even though it was freezing cold outside the covers and I was just getting comfortable where I was, and part of me fought against the thought of getting up. I got up anyway, grabbed the book, dove back under the covers (before all the warmth could escape) and proceeded to do my old trick (which I hadn’t done in so long) - using the book as a divination tool. I cracked it open and let my eyes fall randomly onto a passage with the full expectation that this would be a meaningful, personal message, from to me, from ME. Here’s the passage I chose, at “random” (coincidence?)…
(The book: “The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James” by Jane Roberts)
“I became critical of emotional comprehensions or rousing flights of fancy that I knew could not be objectively proven, where earlier I gave my imagination full sweep with no thought that such immortal urgings could have a base in fact, but kept such religious sentimnets aloft from the kind of scrutiny I gave other more mundane subjects. Therefore my poetic inner knowledge held its validity when I judged it in its own framework…
“…Indeed, the inner structures of such intuitive securities, however strongly felt, seemed to dissolve in toto whenever they were tampered with intellectually, as if they were composed of the finest yet flimsiest materials - or of ingredients solid enough in their native realms, that could not, however, be transferred to the physical world…”
Just now, I flip through the book again and find a slip of paper with some quotes I picked out from it at some earlier date. I remember, it was around this same time last year when I initially felt this problem creeping in - this growing rift between my intellectual, critically-minded self and my emotional, intuitive, ‘magically-minded’ self. Here are those quotes:
“I was at once overly credulous and overly critical, so that my emotions and intellect rarely met as friends on any common ground, but rather as adversaries … I grew querulous even to myself. Yet equally I sensed in myself and in others the highest potentials of enjoyment and achievement.”
“…psychology accepts the importance of emotions only so that they can be intellectually categorized and laid away in lifeless compartments, isolated from the reasoning mind.”
“What emotionally elated me brought only intellectual embarassment … and those theories that sent my intellect reeling with delight and excitement left my emotions afterwards dry and unwarmed, as if that intellectual fire burned with a flame that was cold and white - blinding but not life-giving.”
“A life in a castle of a soul is no blessing if that castle is dark, cold, damp, or filled with the musty beliefs of ancient histories; while a cottage of a soul, cozily lit, can be the most pleasant and provide the self with a kindly roadside inn that makes even long journeys enjoyable and adventuresome.”
I’ve noticed some similar sentiments being expressed on other blogs dealing with spiritual and occult subject matter. Tim Boucher, for example, has almost seemed to be speaking directly on my behalf at times, as he’s shared his own personal struggles of a similar (though I’m sure, at the same time, very different and personal) nature.
This whole book in fact, whether it really comes from a disincarnate William James or not, seems very pertinent to our times (not to mention a wonderful read, for many reasons). James seemed to face struggles very similar to our own - those of us who experience this constant, internal tug-of-war between left and right-mode, coupled with an intense determination not to just pick a side, or pick a world view, but to learn to be open (but not too open) to it all, and ideally integrate and unify all of these seemingly opposing views, all of which, together make up the Great Mosaic of Life.
In closing, I’ve repurchased The Magical Approach and plan to spend what time I’ve been spending reading the internet, reading that, and Afterdeath Journal instead.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates on Wednesday to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. We take a look at Gates' role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein with former CIA analyst Mel Goodman, who testified before the Senate in 1991 against the nomination of Gates as CIA director, and investigative journalist Bob Parry who helped expose Iran-Contra. [includes rush transcript] On Wednesday President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Gates briefly appeared with President Bush and Rumsfeld at the White House and spoke with reporters.
President Bush spoke highly of Robert Gates.
But questions are already being raised about Gates' role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein. In 1987 President Reagan nominated Gates to become CIA director but the nomination had to be withdrawn because of stiff opposition in the Senate. Four years later President George H.W. Bush re-nominated Gates to be CIA chief and this time he was confirmed.
Today we are joined by two guests in Washington who have closely followed the career of Robert Gates.
* Melvin Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst. He is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center's National Security Project. From 1966-1986 he was a senior CIA soviet analyst. In 1991 he was one of three former CIA officials to testify before the Senate against the nomination of Robert Gates as director of central intelligence. Goodman is co-author of the book, "Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk."
* Robert Parry, veteran investigative journalist and editor of ConsortiumNews.com. For years he worked as an investigative reporter for both the Associated Press and Newsweek magazine. His reporting led to the exposure of the 'Iran-Contra' scandal. His books include "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" and "Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq."
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday, President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Gates briefly appeared with President Bush and Rumsfeld at the White House and spoke with reporters.
ROBERT GATES: United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fighting against terrorism worldwide, and we face other serious challenges to peace and our security. I believe the outcome of these conflicts will shape our world for decades to come. Because our long-term strategic interest and our national and homeland security are at risk, because so many of America's sons and daughters in our armed forces are in harm's way, I did not hesitate when the President asked me to return to duty.
JUAN GONZALEZ: President Bush spoke highly of Robert Gates.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Bob is one of our nation's most accomplished public servants. He joined the CIA in 1966 and has nearly 27 years of National Security experience, serving six presidents of both political parties. He spent nearly nine years serving on the National Security Council staff. And at the CIA, he rose from an entry-level employee to become the director of the Central Intelligence. And his experience has prepared him well for this new assignment.
JUAN GONZALEZ: But questions are already being raised about Gates’s role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein. In 1987, President Reagan nominated Gates to become CIA director, but the nomination had to be withdrawn because of stiff opposition in the Senate. Four years later, President George Herbert Walker Bush re-nominated Gates to be CIA chief, and this time he was confirmed.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we’re joined by two people in Washington, D.C., who have closely followed the career of Robert Gates. Melvin Goodman is a former CIA analyst. In ’91, he was one of three former CIA officials to testify before the Senate against the nomination of Robert Gates as director of Central Intelligence. Mel Goodman now serves as senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center’s National Security Project.
We're also joined by Robert Parry, an investigative journalist who helped expose the Iran-Contra affair while working as a reporter for the Associated Press and for Newsweek. He now serves as editor of the online e-zine consortiumnews.com and is author of the book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.
Mel Goodman, I want to begin with you. Go back to the beginning of the ’90s. Why did you testify against Bob Gates?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I testified, Amy, against Bob Gates for one very simple reason: Bob Gates, over the period of the 1980s, as a deputy for Intelligence and then as a deputy to CIA director Bill Casey, was politicizing intelligence. He was spinning intelligence on all of the major issues of the day, on the Soviet Union, on Central America, on the Middle East, on Southwest Asia. And I thought this record, this charge, should be presented before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
I think also it’s important that Bob Gates is a graduate of the Iran-Contra class of 1986. And the reason why he had to withdraw his nomination in 1987 was simply because the majority of the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, when Ronald Reagan nominated Gates as CIA director, did not believe Gates’s pleas that he knew nothing about Iran-Contra and this was happening around him, but he wasn’t part of it.
And, of course, in 1991, he attracted 31 negative votes, more than all of the votes against all of the CIA directors in history going back to 1947. So I think the committee believed that he was spinning the intelligence, and there was this great controversy, but the Republicans held the line. They made this a loyalty test to President George Bush, and so he was confirmed. But 31 negative votes was very significant.
AMY GOODMAN: Melvin Goodman, you didn’t just testify, you spent days with the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I thought it was very important for people such as Bill Bradley and Sam Nunn, who were very opposed to Bob Gates, to understand how intelligence was politicized, how it was made up out of whole cloth; how if you look at the papal assassination plot that Gates commissioned in 1985, how this had no bearing on intelligence whatsoever. And I think there is a rather delicious irony in the fact that here is a nation that went to war with politicized intelligence, and now it’s naming as a CIA director someone who was the most important practitioner of politicized intelligence in the history of the CIA. So, as Yogi Berra would have said, “This is deja-vu all over again.”
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break. And then, when we come back, we’ll continue with you, Mel Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst, now at Center for International Policy, testified against Bob Gates when he was put forward as director of Central Intelligence in 1991. We’ll also speak with journalist Bob Parry. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests, Mel Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, co-author of the book, Bush League Diplomacy. We're also joined by Bob Parry, veteran investigative journalist, editor of consortiumnews.com, for years worked as an investigative reporter for both Associated Press and Newsweek magazine, where he was key in exposing the Iran-Contra scandal. His latest book is called Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Bob Parry, I’d like to ask you -- Mel Goodman mentioned Bob Gates as being part of the Iran-Contra class, but in this world of ahistorical journalism that we live in today, where very few people -- Iran-Contra is practically ancient history to most of the -- especially the young Americans in this country, could you give us a quick snapshot of what the Iran-Contra scandal was?
ROBERT PARRY: Well, in a synopsis, the Iran-Contra scandal was an effort by the Reagan administration to circumvent various restrictions on carrying out their foreign policy, both in the Middle East and also in Central America.
The Contra part related to the Nicaraguan Contras who were put in place to fight the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. And when Congress tried to cut off that support from the CIA, the Reagan administration went around Congress by having Oliver North of the National Security Council, in essence, sort of oversee this operation of getting weapons and money to the Contras. But it still involved many people in the CIA, even when they were denying they were involved. We now know, based on the investigations, that CIA Director William Casey, who was Bob Gates’s direct supervisor, was deeply involved, as were people lower down the chain, including some of the station chiefs in the field.
In the case of the Middle East, the Reagan administration was carrying out secret policies to arm basically both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. This started, we now know, back in the very early part of the 1980s. By 1981, there were shipments of weapons that had been approved by the Reagan administration that went through Israel to Iran, and that continued on through to the mid-1980s. And at times when the Iranians would get the upper hand in the war with Iraq, the United States would tilt back and start helping the Iraqis, the government of Saddam Hussein. So there were efforts to move weapons through third countries that would help Saddam Hussein in his fight. There was military intelligence that was provided to assist him and even advice on how to use his air force. So there was this whole secret policy that was operating behind the scenes, and the Reagan administration essentially was trying to go around Congress, keep the intelligence committees as much in the dark as possible, and Bob Gates was in the center of almost all of that.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of -- I’d like to get back to Mel Goodman. After initially rejecting Gates for an appointment, the Senate then later confirmed him. In your estimation, what were the changes or what happened that the Senate changed its mind?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the Senate didn’t change its mind. The man who changed his mind was David Boren, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his staff director, George Tenet, who, of course, went on to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency and is/was Mr. Slam Dunk for President George Bush in the Iraq war. Boren and Gates developed a very close relationship over the period of the late ’80s and early ’90s. And Gates gave the impression to Boren that Gates would be very careful in running the CIA, that he would pay a lot of attention to the director of the Senate Intelligence Committee and that he would come to the Intelligence Committee to vet covert operations and certain projects of the CIA.
And this is what Boren used to bring some of the Democrats who were opposed to Gates, such as Sam Nunn from Georgia, into line to vote for Bob Gates. But the majority of the Democratic members of the Senate were opposed to him. And if it weren’t for some of the antics of Senator Warren Rudman, who used charges of McCarthyism against the critics of Bob Gates, I think there would have been some Republicans, as well. But the White House did make it a loyalty test, and every Republican voted in favor of Bob Gates in 1991.
AMY GOODMAN: I remember well the Bob Gates hearings. My colleague, Julie Cohen, who was working at WBAI/Pacifica, now is over at NBC, was one who exposed how Gates had lied to Congress, that he had told the Senate Intelligence Committee that in November of 1986 he was preparing testimony for the CIA director, William Casey, about Iran-Contra, that he didn’t realize a presidential finding had been prepared a year before to authorize the CIA's role in an earlier shipment in 1985, arms shipment to Iran, leading to Casey deceiving Congress. Can you explain what that was all about?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, there were a series of episodes in which Casey had to go to the Congress, because after two years of Bill Casey, the Senate Intelligence Committee really regretted that it had ever confirmed him in the first place. And he really angered the Republican leadership more than the Democratic leadership. And Barry Goldwater became an extremely important critic of Bill Casey.
Bill Casey relied, for all sorts of testimony and briefings and talks that he gave, on Bob Gates. Bob Gates wrote all of his major speeches. He wrote some of his Op-Ed articles, and he wrote all of his testimony. And, of course, there were backdated findings. There were denials of information that was widely known. Bob Gates was told by his deputy about sensitive intercepts involving how we were arming Iraq, how we were getting aid, some of it from the Israeli inventories, to Iran, how we were supplying the Contras with funds that were the profits of these arms sales to Iran. So, Bob Gates and Bill Casey worked extremely closely on all of these matters, and Casey really relied on Bob Gates.
And Bob Gates has always been really a political windsock in these matters in serving the interest of his masters. That’s the way he operated at the National Security Council, and that’s the way he operated at the CIA. And I remember in 1987, he was admonished severely by George Shultz, the Secretary of State at the time, and then in 1989 by James Baker, the Secretary of State at the time, because he was undercutting American policy in trying to serve the interest of the National Security at a time when American policy was changing.
So Bob Gates will serve a master, but I don’t think he’ll be a careful steward of the Pentagon and of the $460 billion defense budget. And the question is, has he now somehow obtained the maturity and integrity to run the Pentagon? I don’t think he has. And now, it’s up to the Senate Armed Forces Committee to make serious decisions about his ability to serve in this very sensitive position.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Bob Parry, in politics at every election time there's always talk of an “October surprise” that will affect an election. And obviously the phrase "October surprise" actually goes back to even before this Iran-Contra scandal: the election in 1980 between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Could you talk at all about -- was Bob Gates, did he have any role and involvement in that first alleged October surprise?
ROBERT PARRY: Well, when we were doing the Iran-Contra investigations, one of the mysteries was when it really started, and we were able to trace it back initially to 1984, when there were these contacts between some Iranians and some Israelis and some former CIA people, which sort of led to the scandal that we knew at the time. But as we went back, we learned that there the shipments of weapons did not begin in 1985, as we had first thought, but really back in 1981. So we had to look at some of these issues of these allegations that were sort of longstanding from some people who had sort of been in the intelligence world that there had been earlier contacts, that during the 1980 campaign, when 52 Americans were being held hostage in Iran and Jimmy Carter was trying desperately to get them out, that the Republicans went behind his back, first to get information, but also then to make contacts with the Iranians directly.
And the evidence on this has built up over time. We now have a lot of documents. We have some records from that period. We have statements from former Iranian officials, including the former Iranian president, Banisadr, the former defense minister, the former foreign minister, all of whom saying that they had these dealings with the Republicans behind the scenes. So, as we went back through that, the evidence built up that there had been these earlier contacts and that Bob Gates was one of the people involved in them.
Gates, at the time, had been assigned to the National Security Council for Jimmy Carter and then had become the executive director -- executive assistant to Stansfield Turner, the CIA director. So he was in a key spot. And he was also, though, developing these close ties to some of the Republicans who were about to come into power. So, as these investigations were sort of picked up on in the early 1990s, there was a real effort to sort of put it aside. There was not much stomach left for this investigation, which was headed at that point by Lee Hamilton, who had been the House Intelligence Committee chairman at one point. He kind of had missed the early part of Iran-Contra. He was then put on the Iran-Contra investigation and kind of bought into the cover-up and the cover stories that were used. And then he was made head of this task force on the so-called October Surprise case and behaved similarly. He didn’t really want to push it very far.
And one of the interesting things, which probably should be looked at now, is that after -- because the Gates hearings were in 1991. He denied pretty much everything, but there’s evidence that’s come out since then that he’s never really been confronted with, including a remarkable report that the Russian government prepared at Hamilton's request in January of 1993, in which the Russian government went back through their KGB files on what they knew about these contacts with Iran, and they reported to Lee Hamilton on January 11, 1993, that in fact these contacts with the Republicans had occurred, the Soviets at that point had intelligence on it, and that Bob Gates was one of the people involved in it. That report was never released by Hamilton. It was put in the unpublished files of this investigation, and I discovered it a couple years later. So you have that kind of evidence that’s important.
And on the Iraq side, you have a very important document that has not gotten much attention, which was an affidavit prepared by Howard Teicher, who had been an NSC official for Ronald Reagan, in which he describes Gates’s role in getting secret weapons to the Iraqis. This affidavit was filed in connection with a criminal case that was then underway in Florida in 1995. But these issues have never been really confronted to Gates. There were earlier allegations that he has denied. Some of the witnesses were dismissed. But now there’s more information that he’s never been presented with. And one of the points --
AMY GOODMAN: And, Bob, when you say “secret weapons to the Iraqis,” you're talking about during the Iranian-Iraq war?
ROBERT PARRY: Yes, back in the -- starting about 1982, President Reagan became concerned that the Iranians, who were secretly getting help from the United States via Israel, had gained the upper hand in the war. And so, there was this effort, as the period went on, to give some more help to Saddam Hussein to keep that war sort of at a more even keel. And one of the guys involved, according to the Teicher affidavit and other witnesses, was Bob Gates. But he’s always denied involvement there. So both the facts of the history are important, as well as his honesty. Did he lie to Congress when he denied being involved in these matters?
AMY GOODMAN: Just on this issue, because it’s so key, I mean, the allegation that Gates personally approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saddam in the 1980s, before the war crimes that he was just convicted of.
ROBERT PARRY: Right. And some of these allegations also go to chemicals, the precursor chemicals that Saddam Hussein allegedly used in his chemical weapons that were deployed against the Iranians and other targets in Iraq. So, Gates was allegedly involved in all those kinds of -- that’s the very secretive side of US foreign policy that Casey was overseeing, but Gates was sort of his man handling some of the details.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Mel Goodman, given some of this history, I wonder -- and given what you have said about the history of Gates as having a record, as using intelligence, basically spinning intelligence to serve political ends, why would President Bush, facing now a Democratic senate, nominate a guy like Bob Gates to this post?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think he needs someone like Bob Gates now, because the Bush administration is really circling the wagons. The policy in Iraq has failed miserably. This has been the most profligate decision that any American president has made with regard to national security and foreign policy. And Bob Gates is a very loyal and obedient servant to his master. In this case, his master will be George Bush. And I think what he needs Bob Gates for is to tone down some of the criticism in the Pentagon. I think Bob Gates is out there in the same way that General Hayden is out at the CIA, to calm down the critics, to calm down the contrarians, to stop some of the negative reporting that’s coming from Iraq from CIA station chiefs and CIA analysts. And I think what Bob Gates will do now is silence some of the military criticism of what’s going on in Iraq. I think you'll see an end to a lot of the public remarks of our active duty general officers, our flag officers who have been clearly critical of what’s happening in Iraq.
And let me just add one thing to what Bob said, because there’s an intelligence aspect that Bob Gates was responsible for in the 1980s that I am aware of. In order to have arms sales to Iran and secret deliveries from Israel to Iran, you had to change the intelligence analysis on Iran, and Bob Gates was part of that. He worked very closely, again, with Howard Teicher over at the National Security Council and Graham Fuller, his National Intelligence officer for the Middle East, to rewrite the intelligence record to say that Iran was no longer interested in terrorism, Iran was now looking to open up dialogue with the United States, that the Soviet Union was about to move into Iran. And this became the intelligence justification for Iran-Contra and why this operational policy had to be put into play.
There was no truth to any of these three charges, but Graham Fuller managed to get them into a National Intelligence Estimate, and Graham Fuller and Bob Gates regularly briefed the National Security Council on the so-called changes in Iranian policy that were made up out of whole cloth. And there was a record of Bob Gates creating intelligence out of whole cloth and urging Bill Casey to take even more provocative measures than the CIA and the Reagan administration was proposing toward Central America, particularly toward Nicaragua. Remember, the CIA was involved in the mining of the harbors in Corinto, which was clearly an act of war. And Bill Casey had never briefed this to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That’s what led to the extreme anger on the part of Barry Goldwater and why Casey had to be brought back to the Senate Intelligence Committee. And, of course, Gates prepared all of Casey’s testimony at this time.
AMY GOODMAN: And this was condemned by the World Court, the mining of the harbors of Nicaragua. And so, you have two major figures coming together now. You have Casey -- rather, you have Bob Gates, who could become director of Central Intelligence Agency, and you have Daniel Ortega now, who has just been elected the president of Nicaragua.
MELVIN GOODMAN: Also part of this delicious irony, that on the same day that Ortega is announced as the president-elect, here’s Bob Gates, again, the Iran-Contra alumni, joining Elliott Abrams at the National Security Council. And remember, John Poindexter for a while had a key role in the Pentagon as part of this Iran-Contra class that George Bush seems to resort to.
AMY GOODMAN: And let me just correct that: of course, he’s been nominated to be head of the Pentagon, to be Defense Secretary. But one other thing I wanted to get to now, because you both have mentioned Lee Hamilton, who was a key figure then. And you’re saying that he very much was there to squelch true investigation of what was going on at the time, that he could be relied upon to do this. Well, now you have the Iraq Study Group that is headed by James Baker and, yes, Lee Hamilton, together with Bob Gates.
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the Iraq Study Group is also a political stratagem on the part of the Bush administration to try to give some chance at damage limitation to this Iraq policy. Lee Hamilton wasn’t very impressive in his 9/11 work as a co-commissioner. I think the study of the intelligence community, and particularly the CIA, was really softened. I think Lee Hamilton had something to do with this. He brought in people like Douglas MacEachin of the CIA. He was also a close colleague of Bob Gates, and he testified in favor of Bob Gates in 1991. And the first personnel appointment that Bob Gates made when he took over the CIA in 1991 was to make Doug MacEachin his Deputy Director for Intelligence. So, I don’t think Lee Hamilton is the zealous investigator that he once was and the kind of junkyard dog that he once was when he was on the Hill in the Congress.
So I think there is an attempt now to soften the debate on Iraq. Getting Rumsfeld out of the Pentagon helps in this direction. Bringing Gates in, and it’s sort of tabula rasa now at the Pentagon with regard to Iraq. And I think the Iraq Study Group -- and if you look at the Iraq Study Group -- five Democrats, five Republicans -- not a one has any experience whatsoever on the Middle East. There are no Arab experts, no Islamic experts on this group. And I think what Baker is trying to do is trying to limit the damage that Iraq has done to George Bush, the legacy of the Bush family, both Bush the elder and Bush the younger, and try to soften the debate in the American public and divert attention. And clearly, by removing Rumsfeld, Bush has already diverted a great deal of attention from the election loss and from this disaster that Iraq policy is.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Bob Parry, the investigations that you did in the ’80s at least led to congressional investigations into some of these issues. Given what happened now with this election, do you have any hope that the new congress will take a deeper look into some of these issues surrounding Bob Gates and the intelligence failures and spinning of the Bush administration?
ROBERT PARRY: Well, as a journalist, I always hope that information will come out somehow, but it does appear that the strategy that the Bush White House is following is to release -- first of all, release this information the day after the election, in a sense give in to one of the chief Democratic demands -- that is, the ouster of Rumsfeld -- and then say that there must be quick action on Bob Gates's nomination. I think yesterday there was an announcement by the Armed Services Committee, the chairman and the ranking Democrat, that they would move expeditiously on the Gates nomination and push it through before the end of the year -- that is, in the lame-duck session of the Congress, the Republican-controlled congress.
So there doesn’t seem to be much eagerness to sort of go back and sort of confront Bob Gates with the questions that Mel has raised about his involvement with the politicization of intelligence, which is a key issue obviously in Iraq war, and his involvement or lack thereof with secret arms deals with the Iranians and the Iraqis, two of the countries that the Defense Department is most interested in at this point. So, but whether those questions will even be asked is a question here, that apparently the idea is to sort of just sort of have the Democrats show their bipartisanship again by not asking tough questions of Bob Gates. And this is very similar to what happened in 1991, when Senator Boren backed away from the gates, from pressing on the Gates nomination for the CIA director.
And it goes back, really, to what Lee Hamilton was doing in the 1980s. I do have to disagree a bit with Mel in that I never found Hamilton to be a junkyard dog in his investigations. When we did our first stories about Oliver North in ’85 and ’86 at the Associated Press, they finally -- those stories finally went to Lee Hamilton at the Intelligence Committee. He arranged a meeting with Oliver North, which involved Dick Cheney, who was on the Intelligence Committee at the time, and Henry Hyde and some other members, and they essentially asked Ollie if these stories were true, and he said they weren’t. And that was pretty much the end of the investigation at that point. And it was only because a plane was shot down, one of Ollie’s planes was shot down, in October of 1986 that the Nicaraguan side of the story started spilling out.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the downing of Eugene Hasenfus's plane?
ROBERT PARRY: Correct. Eugene Hasenfus survived the crash and began talking about what was actually going on. And that sort of put Hamilton back on the spot. When the Iran-Contra scandal sort of broke open in November of ’86, he was made head of the investigation. But again, he led it in a way that was not designed to find the truth. It was designed to sort of reach a political solution, which was not to have impeachment of Ronald Reagan, not to have it go too far, not to damage the CIA. It wasn’t to find the facts, as much as it was to sort of reach a consensus that enough people could agree on.
And we’ve seen that repeatedly with Hamilton. We saw it in the October Surprise investigation, which he headed in 1992, which, when at the end of that investigation so much evidence was pouring in, in late 1992, about this 1980 matter that the chief counsel, Larry Barcella, went to Hamilton and said, “We need another three months, another few months to review all this new incriminating evidence about the Republicans.” And Hamilton said “No,” that “we’re not going to continue this. We’re wrapping it up.”
AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, you're talking about 1980, this allegation that somehow the Reagan forces, before Ronald Reagan became president, worked to stop the hostages from being released under Carter, what would have been the October Surprise, and have them released on Inauguration Day, when President Reagan was being sworn in, that allegation, and this possibility, though many have discounted it, of a meeting that was held in Paris in October, where US officials, perhaps like Vice President George H.W. Bush, met with Iranian officials.
ROBERT PARRY: Right. And there’s actually a great deal of evidence that has built up to support that. But again, the idea was, of that investigation, was to avoid having the kind of political crisis, the crisis of confidence, that might occur if the American people began to see their government as it was actually functioning, not as some people in Washington would like them to see it, which is as a more fair, a more decent operation. So, Hamilton has always been the guy who sort of steps in and sort of smoothes things over, tries not to have too many rough edges, and moves on. So that’s been his record and, of course, now he’s working on the Iraq Study Group. But he’s never been the fellow who actually goes to find the truth and lets the facts stand where they may. He has never been that guy.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to break. Bob Parry is our guest, author of the new book called Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. He does consortiumnews.com. Mel Goodman, also our guest, former CIA and State Department analyst, who has co-authored the book, Bush League Diplomacy, and spoke out against Bob Gates when he was nominated to be director of Central Intelligence. And when we come back, we’re going to ask the question: would Donald Rumsfeld stepping down leave him open to prosecution? We’ll also be joined by the president for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner.
A short direction
To avoid dejection,
On the state of the nation
To your station,
To friends and relations,
And deep reflection
You'll avoid dejection.
Learn well your grammar,
And never stammer,
Write well and neatly,
And sing most sweetly,
Love early rising,
Go walk of six miles,
Have ready quick smiles,
With lightsome laughter,
Soft flowing after.
Drink tea, not coffee;
Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter.
Once more, don't stutter.
Don't waste your money,
Abstain from honey.
Shut doors behind you,
(Don't slam them, mind you.)
Drink beer, not porter.
Don't enter the water
Till to swim you are able.
Sit close to the table.
Take care of a candle.
Shut a door by the handle,
Don't push with your shoulder
Until you are older.
Lose not a button.
Refuse cold mutton.
Starve your canaries.
Believe in fairies.
If you are able,
Don't have a stable
With any mangers.
Be rude to strangers.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
We get analysis on Tuesday's election and the Democratic victory in the House with consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, Ralph Nader. Nader says, "This election was basically a mandateless election for the Democrats, there was really no mandate other than against Bush and do something about Iraq. Domestically there was virtually no mandate about rearranging of power - shifting it from corporations to workers, consumers, taxpayers, to communities." [includes rush transcript] When the 110th Congress convenes on January 3, Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker of the House and Democrats will take control of all of the House committees.
John Conyers of Michigan will become chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Charles Rangel of New York will head the Ways and Means Committee. Henry Waxman of California will become chair of the House Government Reform Committee.
Last night Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, vowed reforms would be in order.
* Rahm Emanuel (D - IL), speaking at Democratic victory rally, November 7th, 2006.
For analysis on Tuesday's election and the Democratic victory in the House, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader joins us in Washington.
* Ralph Nader, ran for president in 2000 as a candidate on the Green Party ticket. In 2004 he ran for President as an Independent. He is the author of many books including "The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap."
AMY GOODMAN: Last night, Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, vowed reforms would be in order.
REP. RAHM EMANUEL: The American people never lose their zeal for reform, and neither can we. The old era of irresponsibility is over, and the new era of real reform has just begun.
AMY GOODMAN: For analysis on Tuesday's election and the Democratic victory in the House, we're joined by consumer advocate and two-time presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, in Washington, D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!
RALPH NADER: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. What is your assessment of Election Day and the results?
RALPH NADER: Well, the assessment is that to the extent the Democrats gained the majority in the House, it was on the backs of some very rightwing Democrats who won the election against rightwing Republican incumbents. And so, there was no mandate for any progressive agenda. For example, in 1974, when the Democrats swarmed over the Republicans, it was on the backs of many very progressive Democratic challengers who were elected. And the same is true in the ’60s, when some very progressive senators like Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was elected. But not this time. They're going to have to deal with a lot of Blue Dog Democrats, and that's going to give Pelosi great pause as she tries to maneuver a few things through the Congress.
The other thing that is good, though, is that there's some very good veteran chairmen who are coming in: George Miller, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey and, of course, John Conyers. But to counter that, both John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi have taken the impeachment issue right off the table, before the election, and that means there's going to be no Bush accountability for his war crimes and his inflation of unlawful presidential authority.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, Ralph Nader, when asked -- when Nancy Pelosi was asked what would be the difference if the Democrats took over, she said subpoena power.
RALPH NADER: Well, alright, that gets to a real gridlock situation. The Democrats will throw a lot of subpoenas at the White House. The White House will, of course, drag it on and on and on. And the public will get fed up with it. The White House has great reserves in dragging it on and on and on. Because Bush can't rely on Republicans as a majority of the Congress, he's going to inflate his presidential power even more extremely and unlawfully, in the opinion of many legal scholars, to do through the inherent power of the presidency, as Dick Cheney and Bush have talked about, what he can't do through the Congress, which he no longer controls.
But notice that, in all the debates I’ve heard between the Senate candidates and the House candidates over the last few weeks, there was almost no mention of corporate power, the 800-pound gorilla, no mention of corporate crime, no drive for corporate reform. And yet, if you look at the forward issues in the country, who’s saying no to healthcare, universal healthcare? Corporate power. Who’s saying no to a real crackdown on corporate crime against consumers, especially inner-city consumers? Corporate power. Who’s saying no to cleaning up the corrupt tens of billions of dollars in military contracting fraud, like Halliburton? Corporate power. Who’s saying no to reform of hundreds of billions of dollars of diversion of your tax dollars, America, to corporate subsidies, handouts and giveaways? Corporate power. And yet, reporters and candidates hardly mentioned it. Kevin Zeese, the Green Party candidate, did in Maryland for the Senate. Howie Hawkins did in New York, the Green Party candidate for the Senate.
AMY GOODMAN: And certainly, Bernie Sanders makes that a major issue. It is the main point of his politics. And he's been elected. He's going to be the first socialist senator in the US Senate.
RALPH NADER: Well, there won't be much socialism to him, but he'll be a fresh voice, a very welcome voice along with Sherrod Brown. So that, you know, you can stop certain bad things in the Senate with two or three senators near the end of the session, so -- the way Metzenbaum and Abourezk did in the ’70s -- so that's a welcome break. But there are some --
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, let me ask you about Connecticut, because that's where you’ve spent a good amount of the last months, and here, yes, the independent candidate Joseph Lieberman beat out the antiwar Democratic candidate who had unseated him in the Democratic primary, Ned Lamont.
RALPH NADER: Well, that was a bizarre type of situation, because the Republican candidate was not able to get more than 10% of the vote. So Lieberman got 70% of the Republican voters in Connecticut, and that's what won for him. He would have been history, if the Republicans respected their own voters in Connecticut and nominated someone who could get 20%, 25%, 30% of the vote. He's going to be pretty insufferable. I mean, you know, Joe’s inherent self-righteousness now is ballooning by the hour, and he's going to view himself as a kingmaker if the swing in the Senate is one seat. But he was the darling of the big business lobby, Chamber of Commerce, here in Washington, who anointed him. And that's the power and greed lobby. And he was their favorite Democratic senator, only one of two.
AMY GOODMAN: Is it absolutely known that he will caucus with Democrats, number one? And number two, is there any discussion about him -- perhaps the Bush administration, who's deeply indebted to him, offering him, say, Secretary of Defense, if they don't stick with Rumsfeld, to get him out of the Senate to put in a Republican? And would he take it?
RALPH NADER: There's no doubt in my mind he's going to caucus with the Democrats. He knows where his bread is buttered, where his friends are, where his contributors are, one. And he can play that both sides of the aisle, as he has for years as a Democrat. And he can get a committee chair if the Democrats win. I don't think he'll take an executive position. This is a failing administration. He would never want to be a Secretary of Defense in a Bush administration.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the other congressional races in Connecticut? Very significant. You're talking about corporate power. Nancy Johnson is one of those Republican incumbents who went down, very well-known for representing the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry.
RALPH NADER: Yes. That was a surprise. She worked the precincts very carefully over the years, always went back home. But I think her opponent two years ago, [Maloney], congressman, when they were redistricted, damaged her credibility by pouring ads showing she was the agent of the drug industry and the big HMOs. I think he set her up for defeat by Chris Murphy yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the war, this being a vote against war? And what does that mean for Democrats right now? What happens?
RALPH NADER: Well, it means vagueness. Nancy Pelosi was very vague. She said there's got to be a redirection, there’s got to be a change. But the Democrats don't have the guts to really have a withdrawal plan. Internationalizing the situation there; having internationally supervised elections; having people of stature bring the three sectarian groups together, as they have in the past -- the Kurds and Shiites and Sunnis in the ’50s arranged a modest autonomy within a unified Iraq -- and bringing in, in an Islamic nation, peacekeepers, these things require real high-level diplomacy, and the Democrats, you know, are not in the executive branch. Bush is going to stay the course. He's already announced that he's going to be in Iraq until the last day of his office. So this will be a test of Hillary Clinton and others, and I don't think they're going to be able to meet it.
AMY GOODMAN: What about what's happening in the Middle East, in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon? The latest attack on Beit Hanun has killed something like eighteen people, thirteen of one family. You certainly spoke out over the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. Will this ever become a major issue in the US Congress?
RALPH NADER: Certainly the Democrats are not going to make it a major issue. Nancy Pelosi and others have been with the pro-Israeli lobby for years. Certainly Bush and Cheney aren't. They don't understand that the greatest move toward national security in our country and in the so-called effort against terrorism would be to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The majority of both people would like a two-state solution. There are extremists in Israel that would like to continue to dominate the West Bank and harass Gaza and block an exit of the people there for traveling and for export of goods. So it's just -- it’s now a steady state, destruction every day of innocent people, as you say, thirteen in one family. The Israeli military know how to pacify Gaza. They know they could take over that town, where these primitive rockets that are wildly inadequate are fired. But it serves the interest of certain political interests in Israel to continue this kind of conflict.
This is an eminently resolvable conflict. There's a lot of former Israeli military and intelligence people who know how to do it, people in the Knesset who know what needs to be done. But as long as the US basically says to whoever is in charge, “You can do whatever you want over there, and we'll still pump $3 - $4 billion and cluster bomb weapons, etc.,” there's not going to be a resolution. As long as there's no resolution, there’s going to be an inflammation increasing all over the Islamic world, and our national security will be compromised.
This campaign, this election, Amy, was basically a mandate-less election for the Democrats. There was really no mandate other than against Bush and do something about Iraq. Domestically, virtually no mandate about rearranging of power, shifting it from corporations to workers, consumers, taxpayers, to communities.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you mentioned Sherrod Brown, certainly will be one of the most progressive members of a new US Senate. Yet, in those waning days, as he was running for this Senate seat that he has just won from Ohio, he voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Can you talk about the significance of this act?
RALPH NADER: That was a bad sign. That was, I think, not just a strategic mistake by Sherrod Brown. He's going to regret this. It was a character deficiency, just like, you know, Hillary Clinton's character deficiency. She refused to debate three third party Senate candidates, including Howie Hawkins in the Green Party, and the League of Women Voters was so upset, they withdrew co-sponsorship of the debate. We've got to focus on the ability of the Democrats to become very, very politically cynical in order to win. I don't think Sherrod Brown had to do that to win. That is a monstrous laceration of our constitutional rights, that Military Commissions. I hope it will be declared unconstitutional in its noxious provisions by the Supreme Court.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, Hillary Clinton. There is some discussion that if, in fact, Democrats do take the Senate -- there are two very tightly contested races now, of course, Virginia and Montana, although at this point Democrats have very narrow leads in them -- the possibility that she would become the Majority Leader of the Senate.
RALPH NADER: Well, I don't think so. It's very hard to be Majority Leader of the Senate and run for president, which she's going to start to do right away. I think what we're seeing here is a drive for a coronation in the Democratic nomination. As Mark Warner drops out, maybe John Kerry has been damaged, I mean, she's going to have a huge war chest and just march to the nomination. And to do that, she's got to be absent a great deal from the Senate. And when you're Majority Leader in the Senate, you’ve got to be the valet for a lot of senators and you can't go out to Colorado or California or New York or West Virginia, as a presidential candidate has to.
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of money and politics, something you take on in a very big way. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, at least 2.8 billion dollars were spent in this election, making these the most expensive midterm elections in history. I want to talk about this big money in the big parties, the two big parties, and also third party politics today, and what you saw around the country.
RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, the mess with the voting machinery and the registration situation, this country is a mockery of obstructing people to vote, going back to the post-Civil War era. Now they have new ways to do it through these machines, through not distributing the machines, through challenging people's voting credentials. There's no other Western democracy that requires registration. In Canada, if you are counted as part of the regular census, you vote, period.
And so, what we need in this country, first of all, is a complete reform of electoral laws, including one federal standard for candidates running for federal office, for Congress and for the President, not 50 different state standards and more county standards. There needs to be criminal prosecutions. Notice you can obstruct people's right to vote, you can do what happened in Ohio and Florida, and because both parties want to be able to do it, if they're in power, at the state level, there's no prosecution tradition here, as there is, say, for procurement fraud. So nobody goes to jail. So, every two or four years, it's going to happen, more and more and more. And the number of ways that people can be obstructed from voting -- votes can be miscounted; that people can be falsely designated as ex-felons; the extent to which voting rolls can be shrunken, like in Cleveland, Ohio, by a Republican state government, Blackwell, Secretary of State -- all this is going to happen again and again, unless you have crackdowns, unless you have task forces that will prosecute these violations, and unless you have a national debate about universal voting, Amy.
We've got to ask ourselves -- jury duty is the only civic duty in our Constitution. We have a whole Bill of Rights, but we have very few duties. And if we have to obey thousands of laws passed by lawmakers, it seems to me that having voting be a civic duty, as it is in Australia and Brazil and some other countries, is the way to clear away all these manipulations and obstructions, because if you have a legal duty to vote --
AMY GOODMAN: You mean, mandatory.
RALPH NADER: Yes. If you have the duty to vote, then obstructing it becomes a very serious crime, whereas now it's just, you know, the political game the two parties play against one another. And the discussion of mandatory voting would include a binding “none of the above.” So you can go to the polls or absentee vote for the ballot line, you can vote write-in, you can vote for your own person, write in your own name, or you can vote for a binding “none of the above.” I think that takes care of any civil liberties problems. But it should be decided by a special national referendum.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, we have to wrap up, but I just want to ask: Hillary Clinton spent something like $30 million on an almost uncontested race at the point where, you know -- of yesterday, certainly getting more nationally known. Are you going to be running for president in 2008?
RALPH NADER: It's too early to say. I do want to give you one quick sidebar, Amy. In Morgan County, USA, in Morgan County, West Virginia, with a 60% Republican registration advantage, the incumbent for county commissioner was defeated overwhelmingly, by 20 points, by a challenger. She beat him by 20 points. And that was done by person-to-person campaigning, which I think is going to be the way progressives in this country are going to win elections. This is a stunning victory over a Republican machine that ought to be studied, in Morgan County, West Virginia.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I want to thank you very much for joining us, two-time presidential candidate, joining us from Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
<-----WHAT A FUCKING DOUCHEBAG YOU ARE STUNTED GROWTH!
Janeane Garofalo returns to Air America for an appearance tonight during the radio network's election night coverage. We've obtained the script from the Drudge Report so you don't have to listen either.
Faced with a choice between acting like an authentic human being and acting out in a desperate effort to get attention, we all know which one Janeane will choose. There's something wrong with her limbic system. Given that, we can expect one or all of the following revelations
1. Janeane will announce she has a new quasi-boyfriend named Kim. Janeane will be coy about the details, revealing only that he is a film buff who has all her movies, even "The Search for John Gissing." They met on the Internet, she says. "He's the first man I've dated called Kim," says Janeane, who has a bumper sticker on her car that says, "My other ride is your girlfriend." Janeane gushes, "He's the security blanket I've been looking for all my life. We plan to start a nuclear family any day now."
2. In an attempt to outdo Ann Coulter, Janeane will tell widows of service members who died in Iraq that their husbands didn't die in vain, they died in Fallujah, Ramadi, yada, yada, yada.
3. Garofalo and Sam Seder will reunite for a segment featuring an unrelenting stream of peepee, popo, caca, and tutu jokes. At the end, they will announce that they're wearing adult diapers and have just crapped themselves. "If it feels good, do it," crows sixties wannabe Janeane.
4. An embolded Sam Seder will challenge Tucker Carlson to a bowtie-twirling contest and disclose that he will pair with Al Franken in a tag-team match against Adam Nagourney and Bob Woodward at the Quad Cities Thunderdome in December. Franken and Seder will then compete in a hot, sweaty, yet manly sudden-death tussle to determine who will be the first Jewish president of the United States.
5. Janeane will reveal that she is addicted to Pez and has a five-pac
Posted by: A. at November 7, 2006 2:31 PM
5. Janeane will reveal that she is addicted to Pez and has a five-pack a day habit.
6. More startling news: Janeane has added a fifteenth tattoo at an undisclosed location.
7. Janeane has converted to the theories of Wilhelm Reich. "A rising orgone level floats all boats," she proclaims.
8. If elected to higher office, she will be the "vice president for ExxonMobil." "Blood is thicker than oil," she says.
9. After years of study, reading, and research, Janeane reveals she believes in the Shaver Mystery. "Speak truth to the Dero," she urges.
10. Janeane declares she has read a book on [insert subject matter here] and is now an expert on [insert subject matter here].
We need a new Congress — here’s why:
1. Congress set a record for the fewest number of days worked — 218 between the House and Senate combined. [Link]
2. The Senate voted down a measure that urged the administration to start a phased redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2006. [Link]
3. Congress failed to raise the minimum wage, leaving it at its lowest inflation-adjusted level since 1955. [Link]
4. Congress gave itself a two percent pay raise. [Link]
5. There were 15,832 earmarks totaling $71 billion in 2006. (In 1994, there were 4,155 earmarks totaling $29 billion.) [Link]
6. Congress turned the tragic Terri Schiavo affair into a national spectacle because, according to one memo, it was “a great political issue” that got “the pro-life base…excited.” [Link]
7. The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works thinks global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” [Link]
8. The House leadership held open a vote for 50 minutes to twist arms and pass a bill that helped line the pockets of energy company executives. [Link]
9. Congress fired the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the lone effective federal watchdog for Iraq spending, effective Oct. 1, 2007. [Link]
10. The Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee thinks the Internet is “a series of tubes.” [Link]
11. Congress established the pay-to-play K Street corruption system which rewarded lobbyists who made campaign contributions in return for political favors doled out by conservatives. [Link]
12. The lobbying reform bill Congress passed was a total sham. [Link]
13. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) shamefully attacked Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) on the House floor, telling him that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” [Link]
14. Congress passed budgets that resulted in deficits of $318 billion and $250 billion. [Link]
15. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said Donald Rumsfeld “is the best thing that’s happened to the Pentagon in 25 years.” [Link]
16. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) baselessly announced that “we have found the WMD in Iraq.” [Link]
17. Congress passed a special-interest, corporate-friendly Central American trade deal (CAFTA) after holding the vote open for one hour and 45 minutes to switch the vote of Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC). [Link]
18. Senate conservatives threatened to use the “nuclear option” to block members of the Senate from filibustering President Bush’s judicial nominees. [Link]
19. Congress stuck in $750 million in appropriations bills “for projects championed by lobbyists whose relatives were involved in writing the spending bills.” [Link]
20. The typical Congressional work week is late Tuesday to noon on Thursday. [Link]
21. Congress has issued zero subpoenas to the Bush administration. [Link]
22. Congress eliminated the Perkins college loan program and cut Pell Grants by $4.6 billion. [Link]
23. Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that he stranged his 29-year-old mistress. [Link]
24. Congress decreased the number of cops on the streets by cutting nearly $300 million in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. [Link]
25. In a debate last year over the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee abruptly cut off the microphones when Democrats began discussing the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. [Link]
26. Just two out of 11 spending bills have made it out of Congress this year. [Link]
27. 1,502 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since Congress convened. [Link]
28. The House Ethics Committee is “broken,” according to the Justice Department. [Link]
29. The FBI continues to investigate Rep. Curt Weldon’s (R-PA) willingness to trade his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter. [Link]
30. Congress failed to protect 58.5 million acres of roadless areas to logging and road building by repealing the Roadless Rule. [Link]
31. Congress spent weeks debating a repeal of the estate tax (aka the Paris Hilton Tax), which affects a miniscule fraction of the wealthiest Americans. [Link]
32. The percentage of Americans without health insurance hit a record-high, as Congress did nothing to address the health care crisis. [Link]
33. Both the House and Senate voted to open up our coasts to more oil drilling, “by far the slowest, dirtiest, most expensive way to meet our energy needs.” [Link]
34. Congress stripped detainees of the right of habeas corpus. [Link]
35. The House fell 51 votes short of overriding President Bush’s veto on expanding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. [Link]
36. Only 16 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job. [Link]
37. Congress confirmed far-right activist Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. [Link]
38. Congress spent days debating a constitutional amendment that would criminalize desecration of the U.S. flag, the first time in 214 years that the Bill of Rights would have been restricted by a constitutional amendment. [Link]
39. Congress raised the debt limit by $800 billion, to $9 trillion. [Link]
40. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) earmarked $11.4 million for a highway to increase the property values in a rural area where he owned land. [Link]
41. Congress passed an energy bill that showered $6 billion in subsidies on polluting oil and gas firms while doing little to curb energy demand or invest in renewable energy industries. [Link]
42. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) used his seat on the House Appropriations Committee to steer earmarks towards to one of his closest friends and major campaign contributor. [Link]
43. Congress passed a strict bankruptcy bill making it harder for average people to recover from financial misfortune by declaring bankruptcy, even if they are victims of identity theft, suffering from debilitating illness, or serving in the military. [Link]
44. The House passed a bill through committee that that would “essentially replace” the 1973 Endangered Species Act with something “far friendlier to mining, lumber and other big extraction interests that find the original act annoying.” [Link]
45. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) earmarked funds to increase the property value of lands that he later sold for a profit. [Link]
46. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) distributed a memo urging colleagues to exploit 9/11 to defend Bush’s Iraq policy. [Link]
47. Congress repeatedly failed to pass port security provisions that would require 100 percent scanning of containers bound for the United States. [Link]
48. Ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) declared an “ongoing victory” in his effort to cut spending, and said “there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.” [Link]
49. Congress allowed Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) stay in Congress for a month after pleading guilty in the Jack Abramoff investigation. [Link]
50. Congress didn’t investigate Tom DeLay and let him stay in Congress as long as he wanted. [Link]
51. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the Senate Majority Leader’s sale of HCA stock a month before its value fell by nine percent. [Link]
52. Congressional conservatives pressured the Director of National Intelligence to make public documents found in Iraq that included instructions to build a nuclear bomb. [Link]
53. Conservatives repeatedly tried to privatize Social Security, a change that would lead to sharp cuts in guaranteed benefits. [Link]
54. Congress is trying to destroy net neutrality. [Link]
55. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) accepted contributions from disgraced lobbyist Mitchell Wade and MZM, Inc., her largest campaign contributor, in return for a defense earmark. [Link]
56. Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to eight years federal prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts, among other crimes. [Link]
57. Congress passed a $286 billion highway bill in 2005 stuffed with 6,000 pork projects. [Link]
58. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) abused his power and suspended a Democratic staffer in an act of retribution. [Link]
59. Congress failed to offer legal protections to states that divest from the Sudan. [Link]
60. The Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) tried to earmark $223 million to build a bridge to nowhere. [Link]
61. Congress spent days debating an anti-gay constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. [Link]
62. Congress isn’t doing anything significant to reverse catastrophic climate change. [Link]
63. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) secured a federal earmark to increase the property value of his land and reap at least $1.5 million in profits. [Link]
64. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) used a video tape “diagnosis” to declare that Terri Schiavo, who was later found to be blind, “certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.” [Link]
65. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned in disgrace after ABC News revealed explicit instant messages exchanges between Foley and former congressional pages. [Link]
66. Half of all Americans believe most members of Congress are corrupt. [Link]
67. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) said that gay marriage “is the most important issue that we face today.” [Link]
68. The House voted against issuing a subpoena seeking all reconstruction contract communications between Cheney’s office and Halliburton. [Link]
69. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) told a Virginia-based volunteer firefighting team they had done a “piss-poor job” in fighting wildfires in Montana. [Link]
70. The House voted against amendments prohibiting monopoly contracts and requiring congressional notification for Department of Defense contracts worth more than $1 million. [Link]
71. Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. [Link]
72. During a floor debate on embryonic stem cell research, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) held up a picture of an embryo drawn by a 7-year-old girl. Brownback explained that one of the embryos in the picture was asking, “Are you going to kill me?” [Link]
73. Sen. George Allen (R-VA) used the slur “macaca” to describe an opposing campaign staffer of Indian descent, and has been repeatedly accused by former associates of using racial epithets to refer to African-Americans. [Link]
74. Congress refused to swear in oil executives testifying about high prices. [Link]
75. Against congressional rules, ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) accepted expensive foreign trips funded by Jack Abramoff. [Link]
76. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) went on the House floor to unveil a fence that he “designed” for the southern border. King constructed a model of the fence as he said, “We do this with livestock all the time.” [Link]
77. Ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) threatened the judges who ruled in the Terri Schiavo case, saying the “time will come” for them “to answer for their behavior.” [Link]
78. Congressional conservatives wanted to investigate Sandy Berger, but not the Iraq war. [Link]
79. Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) engaged in crooked land deals with campaign donors. [Link]
80. Not a single non-appropriations bill was open to amendment in the second session of the Congress. [Link]
81. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) claimed that supporters of Bush’s Iraq policy “show the same steely resolve” as did the passengers on United 93. [Link]
82. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) appeared with prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying opponents of Bush’s judicial nominees as “against people of faith.” [Link]
83. Under the guise of “tort reform,” Congress passed legislation that would “undermine incentives for safety” and make it “harder for some patients with legitimate but difficult claims to find legal representation.” [Link]
84. Despite multiple accidents in West Virginia and elsewhere, Congress passed legislation that failed to adequately protect mine workers. [Link]
85. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said “if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two children, you don’t pay any taxes,” even though it isn’t true. [Link]
86. Monthly Medicare Part B premiums have almost doubled since 2000, from $45.50 in 2000 to $88.50 in 2006. [Link]
87. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) inserted a provision in the Defense Appropriations bill that granted vaccine manufactures near-total immunity for injuries or deaths, even in cases of “gross negligence.” [Link]
88. Congress appropriated $700 million for a “railroad to nowhere, but just $173 million to stop the genocide in Darfur. [Link]
89. Congress included a $500 million giveaway to defense giant Northup Grumman in a bill that was supposed to provide “emergency” funding for Iraq, even though the Navy opposed the payment. [Link]
90. Ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who has since pled guilty to talking bribes, was put it charge briefing new lawmakers “on congressional ethics.” [Link]
91. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) can’t tell the difference between the Voting Rights Act and the Stamp Act. [Link]
92. Three days before Veterans Day — House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-IN) announced that for the first time in at least 55 years, “veterans service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.” [Link]
93. Members were caught pimping out their offices with $5,700 plasma-screen televisions, $823 ionic air fresheners, $975 window blinds, and $623 popcorn machines. [Link]
94. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) skipped a vote on Katrina relief to attend a fundraiser. [Link]
95. Congress made toughening horse slaughtering rules the centerpiece of its agenda after returning from summer recess this year. [Link]
96. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wants to send 20,000 more troops into the middle of a civil war in Iraq. [Link]
97. Katrina victims were forced to take out ad space to “plead with Congress to pay for stronger levees.” [Link]
98. Congress passed the REAL ID Act, “a national ID law that will drive immigrants underground, while imposing massive new burdens on everyone else.” [Link]
99. Congress extended tax cuts that provided an average of $20 relief but an average of nearly $42,000 to those earning over $1 million a year. [Link]
100. Congress received a “dismal” report card from the 9/11 Commission — five F’s, 12 D’s, nine C’s, and only one A-minus — for failing to enact the commission’s recommendations. [Link]
101. Congress won’t let the government negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs for people on Medicare. [Link]
102. Congress has left America’s chemical plants vulnerable to terrorist attack. [Link]
103. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) “threw the senatorial version of a hissy fit” when he threatened to resign unless the Senate approved funding for his bridge to nowhere. [Link]
104. Congress didn’t simplify the tax code. [Link]
105. Seventy-five percent voters can’t name one thing Congress has accomplished. [Link]
106. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), has “raised campaign contributions at a rate of about $10,000 a day since February, surpassing the pace set by former Representative Tom DeLay.” [Link]
107. Congress failed to ensure Government Accountability Office oversight of Hurricane Katrina relief funds, resulting in high levels of waste, fraud, and abuse. [Link]
108. When a reporter asked Rep. Don Young (R-AK) if he would redirect spending on his bridge projects to Katrina victim housing, Young said, “They can kiss my ear!” [Link]
109. There were just 12 hours of hearings on Abu Ghraib. (There were more than 100 hours of hearings on alleged misuse of the Clinton Christmas card list.) [Link]
Monday, November 06, 2006
(With many apologies to Clement C. Moore!)
'Twas the night before the election
And all through the house
Every phone it was ringing
I yelled at my spouse
"Get that one for me
I'll get this one for you
If we can handle the onslaught
we might make it through!"
From the look on his face
I knew what it was
He had some campaigner
I could hear the buzz
Of telephone wires
Burning brightly and hot
I want the information
But they should be shot!!
They call at all hours
They disturb even dinner
Each one proclaiming
Their side must be a winner
I listened half heartedly
As my caller began to spiel
"Can we count on your vote?"
More anger I did feel
I finally blew up
On some poor witless toad
It wasn't his fault
That I had reached overload
"Now listen to me"
I said in a shout
"I've had it to here
Listening to you all spout"
"Each one thinks he's right
His man is the savior
While defiling the other
For unorthodox behavior"
"You call us at night
When we are trying to sleep
You don't even breathe
How can we get a peep?"
"I know how to read
I examine the issues
Yet you call every night
To imbed in my tissues"
"You believe you are right
To invade our lives
You say it's important
You are giving me HIVES!"
"Please leave us alone
Call on us no more
Don't bury us with leaflets
Stay away from our door"
"I'm an intelligent woman
My husband is smart
Please trust us to make
Decisions straight from the heart"
The scared caller hung up
As I panted for breath
Someone knocked on the door
It had better be Death!
I rush to the door
Throw it open wide
A sleazy politician
Wedges his foot inside
He looks at my face
Contorted with rage
He takes one step back
And throws me a page
He says "you look bothered
So I'll leave you be
Just remember to vote
Preferably for me"
He fled down the steps
Then looked back with a wink
"Remember my opponent
Had sex with a mink!"
I fall to my knees
And sobs heave my shoulder
They attack from all sides
I think they are bolder
Than they used to be
These campaigners today
But after tomorrow
They will go away
But my husband does smile
As his body draws near
He pats on my cheek
"There'll be another next year"
And so I exclaim
Kneeling there on the floor
"I'm proud to be voting
But campaigners I abhor!!"
it doesn't always happen
and when it does
if he's bad
there's more chance
he'll stay that way,
or if he's good
he might hang
but a woman
the absence or
presence of sun
or good times.
a woman must be nursed
where a man can become
by being hated.
Next Tuesday’s mid term elections in United States are not only a close fight for control of Congress with Democrats better placed than the battered Republicans but will also see voters in 36 of the 50 states choose governors.
The outcome will give indications of the US national agenda and crucial battlegrounds in the 2008 presidential contest.
In the Great Lakes, both parties are fighting hard over governors’ offices in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with an eye on swing voters for the next White House race.
In California, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has overcome setbacks, and goes into Election Day ahead in the polls. He has embraced traditionally Democratic positions on the environment, minimum wage and more in the process.
In he South and the West, a handful of governorships are on track to switch parties, with Democrats hoping to make gains in the fastest-growing parts of the country.
Democrats head into Election Day November 7 with high hopes. There are more Republican governors (28) than Democrats (22), but because of term limits and retirements, Republicans have to defend eight seats they are leaving open, and Democrats only one. Besides these are times of widespread dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush’s administration.
Of the nine open seats, Democrats are well ahead in five of them --New York, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Colorado and Ohio-- with competitive contests in the remaining four. Democrats are in range of unseating two sitting Republican governors, in Maryland and Minnesota, polls show.
“I’m trying to be a little bit cautious,” said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, head of the Democratic Governors Association.
He acknowledged polls that showed Democrats picking up as many as seven seats or more, but kept his expectations to only the four seats needed to gain a majority. “Right now, you don’t want to be too cocky,” he said, “but it looks like the wave has some permanence.”
Though governors never formally act as a group and have no formal relationship with Congress, strategists say a majority can help build party strength, turn out votes for presidential contests, and cultivate future national leaders. Their decisions shape domestic policy on health care, social issues and taxes, and often touch citizens more directly than Washington.
Republicans remain optimistic in a few states, with close contests to defeat incumbent Democrats in Oregon, Wisconsin and Michigan.
“It’s unwise to place too much confidence in polls, particularly at this stage,” said Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, head of the Republican Governors Association.
“I think you’ll see some movement. I think you’ll see some surprises.”
Control of Congress is the top prize this year, in large part because many see it as a referendum on the Bush administration. Most gubernatorial campaigns have turned on education, taxes, immigration and other state-specific domestic issues.
Several sitting and outgoing governors are already exploring presidential campaigns in 2008, including Richardson, Romney and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican leaving office due to term limits. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner recently announced he would not pursue the Democratic nomination, after actively courting support.
Among the new crop could emerge potential candidates for higher office depending on how well they fare in the next few years.
New York’s Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat who has made a national name as a state attorney general by forcing reforms on Wall Street and corporate America. He is virtually guaranteed to take the governor’s office with a commanding lead that supporters hope will give him a mandate after 12 years of Republican rule in New York.
Massachusetts’s Deval Patrick, a Democrat who holds a wide lead to take a governorship that, like New York, has long been in Republican hands. Patrick, a top federal civil rights prosecutor under President Bill Clinton, would be the second elected black governor of any state.
Florida’s Charlie Crist, a Republican attorney general who was endorsed by popular but term-limited Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother. His ability to connect with voters has spurred some supporters to liken him to Clinton. After polling ahead for weeks, however, the most recent survey showed him in a close race with Democratic Congressman Jim Davis.
The outcome of these elections will also play a big part in redistricting, the drawing of political lines that sets the stage for who can win Congress. The state party with control over a governor’s office and the entire legislature has near-total freedom to draw congressional districts as they see fit. Democrats could snare unified control in Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and more.
There is also a chance for a record number of women governors. The number could rise from the current eight women governors to a record 10, if Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, survives a tough challenge, and newcomers win in Alaska and Nevada.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
posted by sykadilya
… the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes (or Guido Fawkes), was born in York on 13 April, 1570, and was hung for treason on 31 January, 1606.
Portrait of Guy Fawkes by Anonymous
Fawkes is known for his involvement in a scheme to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Westminster Palace (Houses of Parliament) in London, on the 5 November. He was caught in the cellar with barrels of gunpowder before he managed to set them in place. Guy Fawkes was tortured until he signed a written confession.
Imagine how the world would have been if the plot took place. Alas,
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
T. S. Eliot
Alan Moore, a comic book writer, novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, musician, artist, magician, created a Fawkes-like character called ‘V’ in his comic ‘V For Vendetta’. V is an anarchist, anti-fascist-government, and pro-power-to-the-people who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. He plots to blow up the Houses of Parliament, just like Fawks, but sometime in a future 5 November.
The comic is adapted into a film directed by James McTeigue. The release of the film was supposed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Fawkes’ gunpowder plot. It was released instead in March, 2006, for reasons traced back to the July London bombings.
Ideas Are Bullet-Proof!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
IS THERE AN ACTUAL SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN SOLUTION TO ABSOLUTELY ALL PROBLEMS THAT EXIST?
Yes. It is a technique that has become the most thoroughly studied program for human development in the annals of modern science. More than 600 studies have been conducted at over 200 independent universities and research institutions in 30 countries and published in over 100 peer-reviewed scholarly journals. These studies have shown this technique to be by far the most effective remedy for the ills of modern life.
Here is an example of a study that was done in Washington D.C.:
"Effects of Group Practice of the TM Program on Preventing Violent Crime in Washington, DC: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June-July 1993:
John S. Hagelin, Ph.D A.B. M.A., David W. Orme-Johnson, Ph.D, Maxwell V. Rainforth, Kenneth L. Cavanaugh, Ph.D, Charles N.Alexander, Ph.D, Susan F. Shatkin, John L. Davies, Ph.D, Anne O. Hughes, and Washington D.C. police chief Emanuel Ross
This study presents the final results of a two-month prospective experiment to reduce violent crime in Washington, DC. On the basis of previous research it was hypothesized that the level of violent crime in the District of Columbia would drop significantly with the creation of a large group of participants in the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® programs to increase coherence and reduce stress in the District.
The National Demonstration Project to Reduce Violent Crime and Improve Governmental Effectiveness brought approximately 4,000 participants from the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs to the United States national capital from June 7 to July 30, 1993. A 27-member independent Project Review Board consisting of sociologists and criminologists from leading universities, representatives from the police department and government of the District of Columbia, and civic leaders approved in advance the research protocol for the project and monitored its progress."
The volunteers simply gathered together and meditated. This is the process of bringing oneself into a state of peace. You see, we usually go about our hectic and materialistic day with a barrage of thoughts running through our minds. Meditation is the act of turning this off, of letting go, and simply existing. When you do this, you go from emitting an electro-magnetic signal that is turbulent, to releasing one that is calm and peaceful. When you meditate, you transform your frequency from being as a lake with waves and ripples and currents to a lake that is glassy and calm.
"The dependent variable in the D.C. research was weekly violent crime, as measured by the Uniform Crime Report program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; violent crimes include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. This data was obtained from the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department for 1993 as well as for the preceding five years (1988-1992). Additional data used for control purposes included weather variables (temperature, precipitation, humidity), daylight hours, changes in police and community anti-crime activities, prior crime trends in the District of Columbia, and concurrent crime trends in neighboring cities. Average weekly temperature was significantly correlated with homicides, rapes and assaults (HRA crimes), as has also been found in previous research; therefore temperature was used as a control variable in the main analysis of HRA crimes. Using time series analysis, violent crimes were analyzed separately in terms of HRA crimes (crimes against the person) and robbery (monetary crimes), as well as together.
Analysis of 1993 data, controlling for temperature, revealed that there was a highly significant decrease in HRA crimes associated with increases in the size of the group during the Demonstration Project. The maximum decrease was 23.3% when the size of the group was largest during the final week of the project. The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion (p < .000000002). When a longer baseline is used (1988-1993 data), the maximum decrease was 24.6% during this period (p < .00003). When analyzed as a separate variable, robberies did not decrease significantly, but a joint analysis of both HRA crimes and robberies indicated that violent crimes as a whole decreased significantly to a maximum amount of 15.6% during the final week of the project (p = .0008). Analysis of 1993 data, controlling for temperature, revealed that there was a highly significant decrease in HRA crimes associated with increases in the size of the group during the Demonstration Project. Several additional analyses were performed on HRA crimes to further assess the strength of the main findings. These indicated that the reduction of HRA crimes associated with the group of participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs could not be attributed to changes in police staffing. These secondary analyses also found that the reduction of HRA crimes was highly robust to alternative specifications of the statistical model-that is, the effect is independent of the isolated details of the models used to assess seasonal cycles and trends. No significant decrease was found in any of the prior five years during this period of time, indicating that this effect was not due to the specific time of year. Furthermore, the intervention parameters for the group size revealed that the effect of the group was not only cumulative with the increase in group size, but also continued for some time after the end of the project. Based on the results of the study, the steady state gain (long-term effect) associated with a permanent group of 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs was calculated as a 48% reduction in HRA crimes in the District of Columbia. Given the strength of these results, their consistency with the positive results of previous research, the grave human and financial costs of violent crime, and the lack of other effective and scientific methods to reduce crime, policy makers are urged to apply this approach on a large scale for the benefit of society." This experiment has been done again and again successfully. Scientists have discovered that when just one percent of a population practice Transcendental Meditation, morning and evening together in one place, negative tendencies are neutralized and reversed and positive trends are promoted throughout the whole population.
The technique has been found to SIGNIFICANTLY:
* Decrease Violence/Terrorism/Warfare/Conflict/Hatred
* Increase Development of Intelligence
* Increased IQ
* Improve Memory
* Increase Use of Hidden Brain Reserves
* Increase EEG Coherence During Transcendental Consciousness
* Increase Physiological Indicators of Deep Rest
* Reduce High Blood Pressure
* Decrease and Reverse Biological Aging
* Decrease Insomnia
* Reduce High Cholesterol
* Reduce Illness and Medical Expenditures
* Decrease Outpatient Visits Indicating Healthier Aging
* Decrease Cigarette Smoking
* Decrease Alcohol Use
* Decrease Anxiety
* Increase Personal Development
* Decrease Depression
* Increase Calmness
* Increase Job Satisfaction
* Improve Job Performance
* Increase Financial/Economic Stability (By effecting Stock Market)
The TM-Sidhi program was started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who in 1957 predicted that if just one percent of the worlds population practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique, there would be no more war. This one percent effect was first verified in 1974 when scientists found a drop in the crime rate after one percent of a citys population learned the TM technique. In recognition of Maharishis promise, researchers named this phenomenon the Maharishi Effect.
In 1976, with the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program, including Yogic Flying, a more powerful effect was expected. Scientists discovered that just the square root of one percent of a population, practicing Yogic Flying together in one place, could create the same influence. This much-reduced requirement was called the Extended Maharishi Effect. This is the formula for the GLOBAL effect of TM.
If you want to know how to meditate, go here
Our consciousness is actually what creates reality. And it's our feelings, thoughts, and intentions that determine the shape.
Positive words, ideas, emotions, and attitudes have a measurable positive effect. Negative words, emotions, and attitudes have a measurable negative effect.
Let me prove this to you.
I have spent the last year experimenting with the effects of positive influences and negative influences on water.
I first got the idea when I read a book called ..The Hidden Messages in Water.. by Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist who discovered that water intelligently responds to information.
Dr. Emoto's research was fairly simple. It was based on the fact that no two snowflakes are ever the same. He and his team would write something on a piece of paper such as ..KINDNESS.., or ..HATRED... Then they would tape the paper to a bottle of water (with the word facing the water) and leave it out overnight. Then they would put some of the water into a petrie dish and put it into a freezer. When the first ice crystal formed, they would take a photograph of it with a dark-field microscope connected to a camera. Emoto discovered that the crystals would always correspond to the word or phrase that had stimulated it. Negative words and phrases would have negative effects on the crystal. Positive words and phrases would have positive effects on the crystal.
My experiments involved boiling rice until it was cooked. Then I placed a scoop of rice into several separate glasses. On the glasses I had written positive and negative things (backwards on the outside as to face the rice). On one I would write ..LOVE... On another I would write ..HATE... On another I would write ..PEACE... On another I would write ..GENOCIDE...
I put the glasses in a room and for a few weeks I would take each of them (one at a time) into another room where I would focus my thoughts and feelings on the word or words written on each. So I'd take the HATE glass from the room with the others and go into another room and I'd conjure up the emotion of hate. I'd tell the rice that I hated it and I did it very sincerely. After a while of this, I'd put the HATE rice test back in the other room and I'd do the same thing to the next one. For LOVE, I'd create feelings of love within myself and tell the rice that I loved it. I would think of something that would make me feel whatever feeling I was trying to feel at the time and direct it into each corrisponding test.
The results were always the same. The rice in a glass marked with something very positive like LOVE turned golden yellow and malted. The rice in a glass marked with something very negative like HATE turned black and decayed. GENOCIDE turned black and decayed but also contained clumps of blood red matter that I wasn't able to identify. The negative glasses did the opposite of the positive, but were all slightly different based on what was said. Positive glasses did the opposite of the negative, but were all slightly different based on what was said. Some positive tests showed signs of growth within the golden malt, and some were simply golden. Words that I felt were somewhere between positive and negative like RELIGION ended up somewhere between the results of the positive and negative.
I have done this MANY, MANY times and the results were always consistent. That is, until the last two times.
The first of the last two experiments involved a bunch of those in between words. I was busy and didn't pay the samples much attention during the time and the results were not as definate.
For the second test, the one I just barely finished, I set up the experiment in a room and then went on vacation. No one was around during the time needed for the results to manifest. When I came back, I found that all the samples were completely unaffected. They had dried out completely, but the rice was as white as when it had first been cooked and placed there. The positive samples didn't turn yellow and malt, and the negative samples didn't turn brown or black and decay.
I believe that I have come to the conclusion that the biggest factor in this
experiment working is the observer. This makes sense though because it happens to be exactly what quantum physics is currently telling us.
Without a conscious being such as myself around to check on the rice, nothing happened whatsoever.
It seems that it is our conscious perception which makes the rice reflect the stimuli. I believe that the effect that the words written on the glasses have on the water in the rice is based completely on the oppinions of whatever allocated partitions of consciousness (people) happen to be observing them. So perhaps a "George W. Bush" sample for example would react negatively around someone like me who doesn't have a very high oppinion of him and the same sample would react differently around someone who thinks that Bush is a great and noble man. The next step in my research is to determine what it means to "observe". Does it mean to look directly at something? Does it mean to think of or envision that something? Does it mean being within a certain parameter of that something? I believe that these are questions we can easily answer by thinking of new ways to test this with experiments such as the ones I've been doing with rice.
Now, you may ask ..What does rice have to do with water?.. Well, the rice is like our body. Our body (and our entire world in fact) is made up of about 70% water. When rice is boiled, it absorbs water. The response of the stimuli on the water inside the rice has a direct effect on the rice.
This experiment proves just how much we are affected by positivity and negativity and/or what we believe is positive and negative.
Based on Dr. Emoto's work as well as my own, I share his theory that the rice is not nessicarily responding to the words themselves, but to the attitudes and opinions of our own consciousness reguarding the words. It may have to do only with the oppinions and attitudes of the individual consciousness involved in the perception, or with the individual consciousness in some combination with the local and global consciousness.
Here is an example of something that is TRUE (2+2=4)
Here is an example of something that is FALSE (2+2=5)
Here is "George W. Bush" (a very unique effect. A green sludge covers the rice)
For bigger photos of these, go HERE
I'll put up some more soon.
At first, I imagined that the rice was responding completely to what is true and what is false, what is good and what is bad. I did this experiment to try to prove this (although I realized later that the peticular test does not truely tell us if this is the case or not. Obviously 2+2=4 is a fact but is simultaniously the oppinion of the majority of consciousness)
To understand how or why the incredible power of consciousness affects reality, first know that quantum physics shows us:
1. We are all one connected consciousness.
2. Our consciousness creates reality.
Now, for you to fully grasp the meaning of these fundamentals of reality, I must first explain a few things beginning with what quantum physics is telling us. Quantum scientists have very recently made some profoundly important discoveries regarding the nature of reality. One of these is called ENTANGLEMENT. This is the discovery proving that there is one fundamental truth about everything: we are one. There is only one thing that exists. It is called the unified field, or zero point field. It turns out that the consciousness that is animating my fingers and making them type this right now is the exact same consciousness that animates you. Then it turns out that all matter, space, and time is made completely out of the exact same consciousness. Reality IS consciousness, ONE single consciousness. You're probably wondering how I can say that everything is one consciousness. First, let me explain how I am he as you are me as you are we and we are all together. Consciousness (the part of you that says "I am...") has long been thought of as being produced by the brain. It is not. For so long now, we've been mapping the brain. We know what each little tiny part of it does. There is an area that controls smell, an area that controls pain, an area that controls sight, immune function, chemistry, ect, ect. There is not, however, a part of the brain that controls or produces consciousness. So why
are we conscious? Where does it come from? I'll tell you.
Living cells make up your entire body. Cells are conscious beings. They are individuals. They can also come together to work as one "group consciousness". A group consciousness of individually conscious cells make up an organ. These organs make up our bodies. Cells are made up of molecules that came together from atoms that came from earth material that came from a star that came from that came from dust and gas floating in space that came from pure consciousness. You see, atoms are made up of several smaller levels. The plank scale (which is the smallest level) is by definition pure consciousness. It is the one consciousness.
Think of something like a Portuguese Man of War (it's a bigger, more solid form of a jellyfish). It is a conscious being. It turns its sail, intelligently using the wind to go where it wants to and find food. But what is it physically? It has no nervous system whatsoever. It has no brain. It is literally a bag of gas floating in water and that's all. So how is it conscious enough to hunt for its prey? It is because it is made up of living cells. So the answer to the question of where your consciousness comes from is this: it comes from your cells.
Another answer is that is comes from our molecules.
Another answer: it comes from our atoms.
Another answer: it comes from the plank scale.
These are all true answers. There are just different levels to this truth. Consciousness does NOT come from our brain (although it does come from the cells that make up your brain as well as the cells that make up your heart, liver, ect.) The function of the brain is to regulate our system. So, does the brain tell your heart to beat? Yes. But it's the consciousness of the cells in your body that tell your brain to do so. And it's the unified field (which is the one consciousness) telling the cells to do this. So why are we so different? Well, for one, the device that filters the one pure consciousness to the sense organs (the filter is the brain) is grown slightly different, two, the past life experience or the memory within the cells chosen by the unified field to make up your body are different, and third, we all have different experiences within our lives (for example, a child who is raised by racists will become a different person than a child raised by tolerance peace activists or something). Other than these things, you and I are one single consciousness. We are exactly the same. You and I and a plant are also one consciousness because a plant is a group consciousness of living cells. But didn't I say that EVERYTHING was conscious? What does that mean? Is something that we think of as non-living conscious? Something like a rock? Although you probably won't be having any interesting conversations with a rock, it is still conscious, just on a different level. It's not made of living cells, but it is a creation of pure consciousness that if you look closely at (as in close enough to see the world of particles) you will see that intelligence and consciousness exist in a rock as well. How? Well, to understand that, you will have to understand this: Matter is not what we think of it as. Matter is not solid. If you look closely, you will see that the rock is made up of molecules which intelligently come together from atoms. If you look closely at an atom, you will find that it is nowhere near solid. It is a tiny bit of information surrounded by a cloud of tiny particles (that intelligently jump from one atom to another). Then if you look even closer at the tiny pieces of what seem like matter, you find that they are almost nothing. Then if you go even closer, you find that what seemed to be something was actually almost nothing. Then if you go closer, you find that what seemed like something was actually more like a thought or a bit of holographic information. It turns out that atoms are virtually 100 percent vacuum. So to say that matter is solid like saying that the universe is solid. Matter is energy only and energy (which is everything in the universe, nothing left out) is pure consciousness, THE one and only consciousness. So the rock, the plant, a couch, you, your friends, myself - we are all one consciousness. So you may say that you acknowledge that we are all one consciousness, but how does that make everything actually one thing? I'll explain.
Scientists have recently discovered that we create everything we see, that it does NOT exist as matter until we interact with it by observing it. In other words, if a tree falls in the forest with no one around it does NOT make a sound because it does NOT exist without us being there. When we are not looking at something, it exists as a superposition of all possibilities spread out all over the place. Nothing exists without you (Google the "double slot" test to understand how we learned this part)
Your consciousness actually creates everything you see as you go based on the probabilities you assign to things.
Ask yourself, what's the probability that there is a floor by the side of your bed and not a cliff? When asked that question (or when you are beside your bed), you assign a probability to it. Do you assign a probability of 50/50? No. What about 75/25? No. You assign a probability of 100 percent that there is solid ground there and not a cliff. You create the ground because that's what you believe is there. The recent experiments in quantum physics have shown us that the reason things seem to appear the same as the last time you checked on them is based on what your individual consciousness believes in some combination with what the local and global consciousness believes).
Therefore, the element of attitude and understanding comes into play.
If you can learn to chance your perceptions of reality, you can change reality with your very own amazing consciousness.
Now if someone told me this, I'd want to know more about how we have come to realize such a thing.
Quantum science as well as numerous ancient texts from around the world show us that all possibilities of all instances already exist in what is known as vertical time. Beginning in 1998, quantum physicists began to reveal this truth when they discovered that they could create the conditions necessary to place multiple atoms (up to 16 million beryllium atoms at the time) into the same space at the same time without any of them bumping into another. This was something that had been regarded as impossible by the previous models of science.Albert Einstein, however, told us in his era that all possibilities of every outcome of every event already existed in vertical time. But, as I said, we really couldn't prove this until 1998. In 1957, however, Dr. Hugh Everett III Ph.D of Princeton University began theorizing the inner workings of what he referred to as "parallel possibilities", stating that there are "choice points" in our lives, or instances when we can choose to make what you might call a "quantum leap" into a new layer of vertical time. This is the same thing. The results of the 1998 laboratory tests confirmed the previous theories when they created the grouping of particles placed into the same space without them bumping into one another, or what is now called a "Bose-Einstein Condensate". The texts left behind by the ancient hyper-advanced cultures such as the Mayans, Chacoans , Egyptians, Asines, and many many more suggest that each and every one of us has the ability to CHOOSE which of these vertical timelines we want to leap into, and that it was once common knowledge that every single one of us has this power within. When I say hyper-advanced, I'm referring to the technology they left behind. When we study the ruins of these ancient cultures, we find that they, thousands of years ago, had a profound insight into what our own quantum scientists today are just barely touching upon. The information left behind by cultures such as the Mayans, as well as the architecture, show us something absolutely incredible. We find temples and pyramids that line up perfectly with the shortest and longest days of the year, solstices, the stars, constellations, zodiac signs. In Chechen Itza, in the deep jungles of Mexico, for example, you can clap your hand under the rings of the ancient ceremonial ball court and always hear exactly 7 echoes (they believed 7 was a magically universal number). There you can see (well, I saw it a few years ago, but I heard it was the last year that it would be open to the public. I think that now only authorized scientists and personnel are allowed there.) structures such as the Observatory, through which the Mayans devised a way to place stones in a certain positions to align for events like the seasons, lunar phases, solar phases, as well as other objects tracked in order to predict certain 'natural' phenomenon in accordance to seasonal changes therefore placing major importance on the accurate predictions undertaken to better predict the earthly events thought to be under the control of the Gods. Caracol (the Observatory) sits atop a large earthen mound and is a structure constructed so that it would center on the helical rising of Venus at its southernmost point during the eight year cycle it follows. Such an alignment can be further substantiated by the fact that it deviates from the remainder of the buildings by twenty degrees, indicating the care taken to insure the sight lines of the observation windows. The mysteriously perfect planning inherent in the design and building of such structures is made evident in the precision of their alignments, however this precision was indispensable to the planning of ritual events and the prediction of natural processes that so dictated the lives of the Maya. The construction of the Kukulcán Pyramid at Chichén Itzá was planned so that each Vernal Equinox the dying sun would cast a shadow of a diamond backed serpent writhing down the steps of the pyramid. If you stand facing the foot of the temple and shout the echo comes back as a piercing shriek. Also, a person standing on the top step can speak in a normal voice and be heard by those at ground level for some distance. This quality is also shared by another Mayan pyramid at Tikal. There is also the ancient ruins of the Mayan calender which says that time ends in the year 2012 A.D. These ancient cultures all have something remarkable in common. They understood mathematical and quantum sciences so much that they created perfections that we are reluctant to even simulate with today's most up-to-date computer technology. They have all left behind information suggesting that they accomplished this by tapping into the very fabric of the universe and that every person to ever live has this ability within them. What we are finding is that this was common knowledge until about 1700 years ago when this inner technology of being able to choose and create reality became so coveted that it was edited from our open literature and forgotten. The information that was taken from us suggested that for every instance of suffering and warfare and epidemic and catastrophe, there lies dormant another where none of these horrible things never even happened. Not only were the ancients saying this, they were also telling us how each one of us had the ability to choose which of these already existing realities we want to bring into our world. This information tells us that if you are sick and in pain, you can transcend that reality of suffering by awakening one where you are already healed.
Quantum physics has proven that reality does in fact exist in vertical time and that all possibilies exist simultaneously in quantum super-positioning. To understand how we know this, I highly recommend looking up the "double slot" experiment that was recently conducted. It proved that not only do all possibilities exist, but that it is our very consciousness (the act of observation) and the probabilities we assign to elements of reality that actually create and shape it. The world that we think of as being outside or around us does not even exist that way. Everything you see, every atom, is actually being created by our very own minds. When you look at something, it pops into existence based on your very own consciousness and opinions (as well as being somewhat influenced by the opinions of the global consciousness) Matter does NOT exist outside of our consciousness. Only a wave of possibilities exists. So whatever you are looking at right now, you have created from the wave of possibilities. Everything behind you, everything that is not being observed my consciousness (anything that someone is not looking at), does NOT even exist as matter, but as waves of superpositioned possibilities. Somehow, thousands of years ago, ancient cultures understood this fact, this inner power that we have just barely begun to recognize today.
Quantum mechanics as well as ancient text from around the world such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, suggest that if we could learn to control our thoughts enough to change the probabilities that we assign to these elements of reality, we could do anything, absolutely anything.
So understand that there is no "out there". We have grown so accustomed to believing that there is this world outside of our minds and that our minds are alone and separate from this. This is not the case. There is no "out there", there is only the mind. It literally manufactures what you perceive as "out there". So there is only one consciousness, or one mind that exists. Also, there is ONLY the mind. There is no time and space and matter. There only you and I and the rock and the couch and all thoughts and ideas, love and hate, night and day, cells, molecules, atoms, everything leaving absolutely nothing out. This is the unified field. It is science proving that the universe is one single indivisible organism. Now the concept of God seems a little more reasonable.
The problem with God is that, people who are atheist or agnostic have usually become that way because whenever they thought of God, they thought of the kind of God described by religion: an entity separate from us sitting on a cloud up in heaven that for some reason looks like a human male, maybe has a white beard and who judges you for your actions who condemns you if you screw up and who rewards you if you please him. Well shit, no wonder I refused to listen to anything about God for so long! So let us imagine for a moment that God is real and "created us in his own image". Much religion religion takes this literally (as they do with most things that seem to have always been meant to be taken symbolically). So what does this mean? Think about it. Let's say that God is this unified field of consciousness wanting to express itself. How? Well, by creating us through the process of evolution. Imagine God as the one consciousness breathing life into us, animating us and speaking through us (although we don't know it usually because our brains filter out the truth that you and I ARE the unified field incarnate). You see, every word, every idea, every creation, natural and manmade (which is also natural) even what we create, is the expression of the unified field of consciousness. This is what I believe "God created man in his own image means." We are the perfect form for the unified field to use to express itself in a new level. We can write literature, music, create architecture, technology, ect, ect. Look down at yourself. You are a vehicle of expression. Our society makes you believe that you are here merely to cope with life, to get by financially until you die, but this is not true. You are here to create. To help life evolve. Look at your hands. They are perfected tools. With them you can hold a pencil with which to write a story or a poem. With them you can hold a tool with which to build a rocket ship and leave the planet. You have a voice with which to speak your mind, with which to sing "I am ALIVE!", with which to scream out "I will transcend all adversity!" So perhaps God was real all along, but we've just been looking in the wrong places. We've been looking towards the heavens for God. But perhaps God was here all along. Not in the sky or in a church, but in the mirror, in our own thoughts and ideas, in our beating hearts, and in everything. Because that is what the unified field is - everything. And when you say "I am" that is the unified field of pure consciousness saying that it is. So you say "Wait! This was all great until you mentioned God!" Well, if you are disappointed because of that word, let me ask you something. Could I have just proved the existence of what you could call God without you even realizing it? If you dont think so, that is fine, but could it be because you are so used to thinking of God a certain way, perhaps as what religion describes. Did you assign a new probability to the idea once the term God was used? In your mind, did the validity of all this changed in an instance? I ask you, what if I hadn't said God? What if I just kept using the term unified field? Could they be the same thing?
Seeing is not believing as much as believing is seeing. This is why most people never reach their dreams in life. They do not believe they can. Modern materialism is partly to blame. It distracts from the wondrousness of our infinite potential and of our very existence.
Here's the real way to use this power:
You attract everything that happens to you. This may seem like something that simply isn't true, but it is.
1. If you worry about bad things happening, if you allow negative thoughts to enter your mind, you will attract negative things to you.
Train yourself to get rid of thoughts about what you do not want. Focus only on what you want. Also, focus only on the end results. You may not be able to figure out how you are going to get there, but that's part of it. Don't concern yourself with the HOW, only the end result. The universe will give you what ever it is you need to get there. Leave the HOW part up to it.
2. Learn to have a healthy respect for yourself. Love yourself without conceit. Find inner peace and happiness.
3. When you focus on what you want, do whatever it takes to create the FEELINGS inside yourself of ALREADY having it.
Don't create the feelings of it being something that you want but that is distant and unobtainable. Create the feelings of already having it.
4. Believe that it is possible for you and also believe that you deserve it.
5. After you really create these positive feelings, switch your attention from thinking about what you want to thinking about what you ALREADY HAVE that you are GRATEFUL for. Do whatever it takes to create that FEELINGS of gratitude for these things and hold onto that.
6. Know that it may take some time. It may be days, months, or longer depending on how quickly you learn to manage your thoughts and feelings. Know that if you do this for say a week with no results and you say to yourself "I guess this doesn't work" you will keep it from working. You have to keep believing and you have to be patient. Don't let doubt enter your mind. A good way to do this is to continually research this power. You will find that all the greatest people to have ever lived KNEW about this inner technology. Learn about just how much the most successful people will swear by it.
It's important to know that this isn't about forcing change or fighting anything. It's about recognizing that there is a timeline already out there where you are happy and everything is wonderful. It's about simply choosing that timeline and choosing to step into it.
You may not believe it, but I want you to know that the only limit in this is how much you believe. If you believe that there is a limit to what you can have, then that will be the limit. If you believe that you are a limitless being in a limitless universe (which is the truth), you will be able to have ANYTHING you want, and I mean ANYTHING. It doesn't matter how big.
Remember that there is no seperation, no wall between you and the universe. Consciousness creates all matter in the universe. You could call that consciousness the unified field, God, the Tao, the Force, whatever. But you must realize that you and it are ONE. The power of that ONE is from within and is actually under our own control. You may think that there is you and there is the universe and there is God, but you ARE you, the universe, and God. You are an allocated peice of that consciousness filtered through a brain which gives the illusion of seperateness. You and God are ONE. What I'm saying is that you ARE that which you might call God. That power is within you and you have control of creating reality.
In thier very own words, the ancients speak in great detail of this inner technology that I've been describing. They knew how to use it. We have the same power. We as humanity have simply forgotten.
It was taken from us by greedy people who thought that somehow there wasn't enough to go around. And now they control the world.
But this secret is spreading like a wildfire and we are on the verge of the biggest revolution we've ever gone through. A revolution of information/peace/creativity/happiness.
Before 2000, we were in the age of oppression and ignorance.
But with the coming of the millennium, we were brought into the age of Aquarius, which has always meant the age of secrets being revealed/enlightenment.
Now let me allow you to ponder the meaning of the universe.
First off, know that the universe is not dead and inert, but rather one indivisible organism created and controlled entirely by the unified field. To understand this, you must understand the telescoping nature of evolution, which is the architecture of the universe. Evolution does not begin with the first living cells to grow on a planet. It begins with the beginning of all time. First there was nothing but the unified field, which is by definition pure consciousness. Then there was a great explosion from one point that created all matter, space, time, and physical law. The force carried this sea of infinite potential in an outward motion. This is why the universe is ever expanding from the point in the middle where the big bang occurred. This is something that we can see and measure. The matter was the fundamental elements, most of which was gas, hydrogen being the most dominant and also the most basic of all particles (one electron orbiting the nucleus). The newly formed physical law included gravity, which formed nebulas (huge clouds of flammable gas). The gravity of these nebulas eventually caused so much friction that the gas was ignited (another property of the newly formed system of physical law). This is how a star is created. The star floated for ages, its inside being a huge fusion reactor. Through a highly complex chain of events, a chunk of the star was torn from it. This cooled, becoming a big rock that began to orbit the star, gravity shaping it into a perfect sphere. The gases hydrogen and oxygen became fused together somewhere else in space (in another and even more complex chain of events involving gravity, radiation from stars, ect). Water was created. It traveled throughout space, frozen within speeding fragments of dust and debris; finally colliding with the big orbiting rock (this process is ridiculously complex. And did you know that the moon is just a chunk of our planet that was torn away when the earth was struck by such an object that then began to orbit us (which orbits the star which orbits the galactic core (a super massive black hole which orbits the center of the universe (object unknown)?) It took so many fragments containing H2o hitting this rock to create the great bodies of water that we know today. The atmosphere and magnetosphere (the layer of magnetic shielding emanating from the poles that protects Earth from the ultra high levels of lethal solar radiation coming from our sun and from all stars and other producers of deadly particles) formed. Everything was ready for a cell to be created (including our planet being PERFECTLY spaced from the sun where it was not too hot and not too cold, but just right).A form of green algae became the first of these living cells. This spread out, evolving into more and more diverse and complex forms of plant life. This evolved into the first simple animals. Trilobites showed up about 600 million years ago, followed by crinoids then corals, then ammonoids and fish. Life evolved for another 300 million years or so at which point dinosaurs (reptiles) and the first mammals came to be. The first form of primate showed up, then the second, the third, the fourth, ect, ect. Out of this came the first hominid, then the second form, the third, the fourth, the fifth, ect. The caveman walked the earth. This evolved into us. We continue to grow more complex biologically, but evolution doesn't end biologically either, it extends to the realm of knowledge.
This is an excerpt from Richard Linklater's film "The Waking Life" that explains what I mean by this and also by the TELESCOPING NATURE of evolution:
"If you&..39;re looking at the highlights of human development, you have to look at the evolution of the organism, and then add the development of the interaction with its environment. Evolution of the organism will begin with the evolution of life, proceeding through the hominid, coming to the evolution of mankind: Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon man. Now, interestingly, what you're looking at here are three strains: biological, anthropological (development of cities, cultures), and cultural (which is human expression).
Now, what you've seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time-scale that's involved here: two billion years for life (he's referring to the beginning of life as the point that the first living cell appeared, not the big bang. Really, it's about 12 billion years for it to all come together), six million years for the hominid, a hundred-thousand years for mankind as we know it, you're beginning to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then, when you get to agriculture, when you get to the scientific revolution and the industrial revolution, you're looking at ten thousand years, four hundred years, a hundred and fifty years. You're seeing a further telescoping of this evolutionary time. What that means is that as we go through the new evolution, it's going to telescope to the point that we should see it manifest itself within our lifetimes, within a generation. The new evolution stems from information, and it stems from two types of information: digital and analog. The digital is artificial intelligence; the analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism, and you knit the two together with neurobiology. Before, under the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die and the other would grow and dominate. But, under the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, non-competitive grouping independent from the external. Now what is interesting here is that evolution now becomes an individually-centered process emanating from the needs and desires of the individual, and not an external process, a passive process, where the individual is just at the whim of the collective. So, you produce a neo-human with a new individuality, a new consciousness. But, that's only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle because as the next cycle proceeds, the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence, as ability piles on ability, the speed changes. Until what? Until you reach a crescendo. In a way, it could be imagined as an almost instantaneous fulfillment of human, human and neo-human, potential. It could be something totally different. It could be the amplification of the individual...the multiplication of individual existences, parallel existences, now with the individual no longer restricted by time and space. And the manifestations of this neo-human type evolution could be dramatically counter-intuitive; thats the interesting part. The old evolution is cold, it's sterile, and its efficient. And, its manifestations are those social adaptations. We're talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, war, predation. These will be subject to de-emphasis. These will be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm will give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These will be the manifestations of the new evolution..."
Do you not see that you and I and all of this and all ideas and thoughts and everything here on this planet went from being a cloud of gas, then a star, and just grew and grew and grew into what we are now? We came from nothing. We were forged in the center of the sun. We journeyed as atoms through this, then as cells that kept adding to themselves and adding to themselves. Is that not miraculous enough to open ones mind to partially grasping the power and intelligence of the unified field?
So what is the meaning of what we are doing right now? What is the meaning of our lives and of life as we know it so far? Well, it seems that it is to reach the peak of our evolution. To reach a harmonic convergence where time and space, separation, pain, limitation and boundary no longer exist. I believe that this is why there has been this intuition about a "kingdom of heaven" for so long within life. Religion may be confused about what exactly that means, but such a state of existence does exist for us in the future. Not only that, its time has come. I believe that we could have already made it there if it weren't for materialism, ignorance, apathy, social conformity, illusions created by our own governments, and also religion.
So that is our goal. When this happens, the birth of a new form of reality will arrive. It will be a reality without the darkness. When I say the darkness, I mean the negative half of what you might call the Yin Yang. Everything is currently based on the balance of these two opposing forces. Energy is positively or negatively charged. There is night and day, light and dark. There is good and evil. There is pleasure and pain. There is lack and there is abundance. But if there really is a God, then why would there be suffering? Well, when was the last time you were in great pain, suffering from depression or an illness or and injury perhaps, when you said seriously to yourself "I hurt! This is great! I am satisfied! I think I'll stay right where I am!" Never. You see, pain forces us to keep going, to keep searching for a way to get away from it biologically, mentally, ect. It's what makes us grow.
Here's an example: The shark has been the same for millions of years. Why? Because it's the top dog of the ocean. It is perfect for what it needs to do. It doesn't have any evolutionary stress on it, but we sure as hell do. Stress and suffering make us evolve to an eventual point where they are no longer needed and cease to exist.
Heres some more based on my (Curtis Tuckfields) opinions and findings reguarding the nature of suffering and of the opposing forces:
Could the symbol of the Yin Yang and the symbol of the cross be the same thing? Christ is the most famous human being to ever exist. I don't believe in coincidence any more. The universe appears random and chaotic to us, but is really not. I think the most famous person and story ever to exist on this planet was something that bubbled up from the unified field to show us something symbolically. Many people picture God as a seperate being that looks like a man and who had two sons; Christ and Satan. But if you take the story symbolically, you could take is as saying the unified field created two opposing forces: good/evil, or love/hate, peace/war, day /night, light /dark, happiness/despair, pleasure/pain, positive/negative. So instead of seeing it as being an omnipotent being that reproduced and created two offspring named Jesus and Lucifer or whatever, maybe try looking at it as though the unified field created a system of growth, a system that uses two opposing forces to guide life in the right direction. It really does appear that instead of it being God and Christ versus Satan; it's really that God/the unified field IS both. It/He wants life to embrace peace/light/love (represented by Christ) and uses war/darkness/hate (represented by Satan) to help life eventually learn to grow to the point where Satan/war/pain is no longer needed. I believe that many Christians are confused by symbolism, therefore, rather than devoting themselves to peace and love, they take things literally and devote themselves to this MAN from Galilee even more than what he stood for. I believe that this symbolic story refers to the process of the lives of every individual on Earth with Christ representing peace and love. He suffered on a cross of pain (which Satan/the negativity/the darkness represents). This is the ultimate example of reaching enlightenment through suffering (reaching peak evolution because of evolutionary stress). I'm not really religious, but I believe do that the cross is a symbol of the balance of the two opposing forces, just as the Yin Yang. Religions have a tendency to ignore evolution and symbolism. Many peopl act as though there is nothing they can do to stop an impending apocalypse/global threat. Many seem to be in it for themselves as they are afraid of eternal damnation. Many want a reward, so instead of concentrating on what they can do to help EVERYONE escape suffering, they concentrate on themselves and on sucking up to God. They are taught that they are separate from God and that God expects them to all follow dogmatic law and if they don't he will punish them. The truth is, everything that has ever happened, whether it be good or bad is actually the complete work of the unified field/God. So, although we should be focusing on peace, I do not believe there really is such thing as going against the unified field or disappointing or angering it (or Him or whatever) (DO NOT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY!! I'm not promoting doing anything negative, I just believe that that is an illusion purposely put into our reality by the unified field. So even someone like Adolph Hitler was the puppet of what you would call God and that his voice was voice of the same (as the negative, /the darkness, Satan). But why? Why would the unified field/God have a satanic side that causes suffering? I just told you why. Evolutionary stress. It's/He's not really fundamentally evil because there is a beneficial point to it. Since it is for the purpose of something that is actually good, evil isn't really evil the way you think of it and also, negative can never be as powerful as positive because both sides are actually working for the good.
Also, science has proven that positive beneficial thoughts emit a MUCH MUCH more powerful signal than negative destructive thoughts.
So the unified field/God/the Tao (whatever you want to call it) created and commands two opposing forces, the purpose of the darkness/evil/war/pain being to create the evolutionary stress necessary to make life grow to the point of peak evolution/harmonic convergence/the kingdom of heaven, Eden, whatever you want to call it.
It may sound religious or out there, but just think about it for awhile, do some research, go to the library, search the internet, get your degree in quantum mechanics and philosophy, do whatever it takes to find out if this could be true, for this is the most important information ever to exist. It may have only taken a short time for me to write this document, but it took 12 billion years for life to evolve to the point where this information could come together in such a way as to be delivered to you. Don't take it for granted, don't forget it, dont disregard it. Understanding the power of this technique and its potential and acknowledging the meaning and direction of all existence is absolutely critical right now in this time in history!!
If you REALLY want to help change the world, PLEASE tell people about this blog by ADDING A LINK to it from your Myspace page!!
Find out more about Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi program on the internet from sites such as www.tm.org
I also VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND:
What The Bleep Do We Know?? (Film)
The Secret (Film)
The Waking Life (Film)
The Isaiah Effect (Audio recording)
The Impersonal Life (Book by anonymous author)
And learn more about the contributions of John Hagelin, Ph.D, the world-renowned quantum physicist, educator, author, and public policy expert who has conducted pioneering research at CERN (the European Center for Particle Physics) and SLAC (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) and is responsible for the development of a highly successful grand unified field theory based on the Superstring. In his book, Manual for a Perfect Government, Dr. Hagelin shows how, through educational programs that develop human consciousness, and through policies and programs that effectively harness the laws of nature, it is possible to solve acute social problems and enhance governmental effectiveness. He is currently Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management, and Minister of Science and Technology of the Global Country of World Peace. He was also the Natural Law Party presidential candidate in 2000.
In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Dr. Hagelin was named winner of the prestigious Kilby Award, which recognizes scientists who have made "major contributions to society through their applied research in the fields of science and technology." The award recognized Dr. Hagelin as "a scientist in the tradition of Einstein, Jeans, Bohr and Eddington."
Dr. Hagelin holds an A.B. summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is currently Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management, and Minister of Science and Technology of the Global Country of World Peace. He was also the Natural Law Party presidential candidate in 2000.
This blog was compiled by Curtis Tuckfield of The Grimpths.
Reference: Hagelin, J.S., Rainforth, M.V., Orme-Johnson, D.W., Cavanaugh, K. L., Alexander, C.N., Shatkin, S.F., Davies, J.L, Hughes, A.O, and Ross, E. 1999. Effects of group practice of the Transcendental Meditation program on preventing violent crime in Washington D.C.: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June-July, 1993. Social Indicators Research, 47(2): 153-201.
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the only worldwide voice
of peaceful pressure
which comes from below.
Eyes Wide Shut Sex Cult Song
Sex Pistols, My Way
A Deformed Angel, by Muhammad Shanazar
Sometimes life gives us severe shock,
Undermines the plans and does block,
The ways of wisdom leading ahead,
Reveals the hands that secretly mock.
An artist thought to paint an angel,
To use the brush for the masterpiece,
But could not conceptualize the image,
Beauty combining innocence, purity.
One morn, at last, he luckily found,
A child playing on the grassy ground,
Having angelic countenance and grace,
Incarnation he was of sublime serenity.
Painted he the angel with skill utmost,
And earned he the world wide fame.
And he after three full fleeting decades,
Thought for the second master-sketch,
Now not of an angel, but of a devil.
He sought for the image far and wide,
But could not find corresponding one,
Fate then led him amid the prison walls,
There inside met he a young wretch man,
With a devilish nature, face and frame.
The master revealed his intent to paint,
Tears came in eyes of the devil formed,
Said he, “Oh! Master it is a matter of woe,
You sketched me an angel thirty years ago.”
Friday, November 03, 2006
OVER hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Mercy Fuck, by Mary Prankster
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of the extraordinarily popular independent radio program Democracy Now! brings readership, not partisanship, to newspapers with her weekly column.
ANOTHER SEAT AT THE TABLE
BY AMY GOODMAN
My goal as a journalist is to break the sound barrier. To cut through the static and bring forth voices that are not usually heard. I am not talking about a fringe minority, or the "Silent Majority," but a silenced majority, increasingly restless, of people who are looking for alternative sources of information in a complex world.
With this column, I join you in the important ritual of reading the paper, of examining the news, to discern for yourself the state of the world and your place in it. I invite you to join me in going to where the silence is, as we seek out the news and newsmakers who are ignored. This column will include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule.
If we take television as but one example, you would hardly think there are legitimate dissenting viewpoints in this world. What is typically presented to us as news analysis is, for the most part, a small circle of pundits who know so little about so much, attempting to explain the world to us. While they may appear to differ, they are quibbling over how quickly the bombs should be dropped, not asking whether they should be dropped at all.
Unfortunately, as a result, people are increasingly turning away from the news, when news media should be providing a forum for discussion -- a forum that is honest, open, that weighs all the options and includes voices so often excluded, yet deeply affected by U.S. policy around the globe.
It is the job of the media to be the exception to the rulers, to hold those in power accountable for their decisions, to challenge and to ask the hard questions -- in short, to be the public watchdog. We in the media need to find stories of hope. We need to tell those stories that resonate with people, to tell stories of the people who live far from the rarified concerns of that passel of pundits crowding and crowing on the small screen. We need to hear local discussions cast in a global frame.
In this new media environment, what daily local and regional papers can consistently offer their readerships are the authentic voices of people in their communities dealing with a globalized world. We don't have to wait for the alternative media; we are building it right now.
Newspapers have always held a central role for my indie media colleagues in our daily news-gathering. In this column, I hope to go beyond the nine-second sound bite to bring you the whole meal, grass-roots voices in this community as well as in communities around the world.
This column will be a forum for stories from the streets, not the suites. It will engage you on the most important issues of the day, but it will engage you, I hope, with a relevance to everyday life. It will bring out the voices like those in your community, from all over the world, of people who now live in an increasingly globalized community. These unprecedented changes are impacting everyone, everywhere, in related ways. This is the tenor and direction I hope to bring to this column.
I see the media as a huge kitchen table that stretches across this country, one where we all sit around to debate and discuss the most critical issues of the day: war and peace, life and death. Anything less than that is a disservice to a democratic society.
* * *
(c) 2006 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
By JOHN IWASAKI
Participants feel overshadowed by conservatives
The underlying sentiment expressed at a march and rally Wednesday in downtown Seattle -- that the United States should withdraw from Iraq -- is hardly unusual in the bluest part of a blue state.
But what set the event apart was that participants were Christians, albeit self-described progressives or moderates, who said their actions were rooted in faith. They feel overshadowed by secular protesters and conservative Christians.
||Scott Eklund / P-I|
||Progressive Christians opposed to the Iraq war pray after a rally at the Federal Building in Seattle on Wednesday. Organizers say U.S. foreign policy is at odds with Christian belief.|
The group, many of them affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the more liberal of the two main Lutheran denominations in the nation, called their movement "Kairos," a Greek word referring to an opportune time to speak.
Kairos proclaims "an alternative Christian voice widely present in our churches but only faintly heard outside them," said the Rev. Mia Baumgartner, executive director of Immanuel Community Services. "We can no longer be silent."
Organizers want to influence Tuesday's congressional elections. They said U.S. foreign policy is at odds with Christian beliefs about living peaceable lives, loving and praying for enemies, and seeking justice.
The nation came together after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the group said in a statement signed by more than 225 people.
But after that tragedy, "the Bush administration chose a path based on fear and revenge, and squandered the compassion that brought us together at home and renewed our kinship with peoples abroad," it said. "As followers of Jesus we are compelled to choose another way."
About 150 participants marched from the Compass Center, a homeless service agency, to the Federal Building, carrying photocopied images of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and other human rights icons.
Organizers earlier hinted that they would post their statement on a wall of the Federal Building, evoking the memory of Martin Luther, who is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, on Oct. 31, 1517. Luther's statement on indulgences and other issues sparked the Protestant Reformation. Concerned that affixing anything to the Federal Building could lead to legal problems, organizers instead handed their statement to a representative of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Kairos said the federal government could have used the billions of dollars spent on military costs to feed the world's poor.
Organizers were inspired by the Barmen Declaration of 1934, in which German clergy called for resistance against theological claims of the Nazi state. Among those executed for taking that stance was revered theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Especially since 2006 is the centennial of Bonhoeffer's birth, organizers felt that "now is a time for a similar type of confessional statement," said Glen Gersmehl, national coordinator of Lutheran Peace Fellowship.
Drawing a parallel between Nazi Germany and today's situation seems "a little disingenuous," said the Rev. Alec Rowlands, president of Sound the Alarm, a group of Washington pastors that takes conservative stands on social issues.
Kairos is calling for the church to "stand up for the weak and certainly I would agree with that," he said. "But how about the 45 million weaker among us, murdered (since the 1973 legalization) in abortion clinics?"
Rowlands, who also is pastor of Westgate Chapel in Edmonds, said Sound the Alarm is composed mostly of pastors from non-mainline denominations in Washington. The group wants clergy to "call your people to vote for biblical righteousness on issues and candidates. We leave it to the pastors and churches to define biblical righteousness."
But Sound the Alarm takes a "high view of Scripture" -- meaning it views the Bible as inerrant -- "and calls our people to live that way."
Kairos recognizes that it doesn't speak for all Christians, Gersmehl said, and just wants to start a conversation.
"There's nobody out there who doesn't have something to teach me," he said.
The rally energized Siri Quigley of Seattle, a public interest attorney who held up pictures of Bonhoeffer and anarchist Emma Goldman.
"We're not the Christian voices (normally heard)," said Quigley, who attends Immanuel Lutheran Church. "But we're a group of Christians with something to say."
Kayla Kopish, a student at Trinity Lutheran College in Issaquah, said the rally was "an amazing opportunity to stand up for something."
Most social justice demonstrations are "very secular" but Kairos is "informed out of a faith in God," said Faith Wilder, who traveled from Whidbey Island to participate in the rally.
"We don't have a political special interest. We have a faith interest."
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
September 28, 2006 - 10:46AM
The man behind the latest YouTube sensation has spoken out for the first time about his global cuddling controversy.
Serial hugger Juan Mann describes the free hugs he hands out in Pitt Street Mall as fast-food emotion. His cuddling campaign received an international dose of publicity today, after a clip showing his public displays of affection won a coveted front page spot on the video sharing website.
An American television audience of millions also watched him at work, when the video was broadcast on the prime-time breakfast program Good Morning America yesterday.
Today, the hugger was at it again, brandishing his "free hugs" sign in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare, and having quite a few people take him up on his offer.
"It's a way to make people smile," Mann said.
"For every person who gets a hug, you see five walk past with a smile on their face."
Juan Mann (pronounced one man) is a play on words, but the hugger insisted his rules included no names, no phone numbers, no relationships and no dates.
The hit video came about after a meeting - and a hug - more than a year ago with the lead singer of the Sick Puppies, a Sydney band made up of three former Mosman High School students.
The singer, Shimon Moore, was working odd jobs by day and playing gigs by night.
"I was one of those guys in Pitt Street Mall with a sandwich board advertising a shoe sale," Moore told smh.com.au today.
The two became mates, and Moore borrowed his father's video camera to shoot footage of the hug man at work.
But his efforts to spread the love became a little too popular for some people's liking, according to a blurb on the YouTube video, which said: "As this symbol of human hope spread across the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED."
Undeterred, Mann collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition he presented to the City of Sydney council. Demands for a halt to the hugs petered out shortly after, and the end of the clip shows Mann hugging an official.
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where the Sick Puppies moved a year ago, the lead singer said he mixed the video with their song All The Same as a gift for his friend, to lift his spirits after his grandmother died.
It had the desired effect. Four days ago, the band posted the clip on YouTube. By 3pm today, it had close to 700,000 hits and almost 6000 comments, most of them gushing.
Like this one: "Made me cry. I love you all!"
The musician said the video had taken Mann's mission worldwide.
"He's achieved what he set out to do and I was lucky enough to be there to film it," Moore said.
There are even plans for a mass free hug-fest at midday on Monday, which could come in handy if the Sydney Swans don't win the premiership.
City worker Elly Mitchell, who handed out a few free hugs on her lunch break today, said she was inspired to organise the event after seeing the video online.
"We're going to hug the city," Ms Mitchell said.
A City of Sydney spokesman Josh MacKenzie said he could find no record of rangers asking Mann to move on.
"In fact, the feeling around the office is one of support for his campaign to spread a bit of happiness and love in the CBD," the spokesman said.
Asked if he had accepted a free hug, the council spokesman said he hadn't.
"But I'm sure council staff would welcome the opportunity to have a hug," he said.
November 8, 2006
by Michael Bonanno
This article is not just meant to be a scary story or the prediction of a nightmare. This was written to generate the question "At what point in this story do the American people revert to some kind of radical next step to stop this from coming to fruition?" and to generate answers to that question.
It's 10:00 PM, Pacific Time, on the eighth of November, 2006. Many people are either scratching their heads, shaking their heads or both.
On October 29, 2006, polls showed that people favored Democrats over Republicans in yesterday's mid term election. During yesterday's elections, exit polls for most of the congressional elections indicated that a vast majority of people voted for the Democratic candidate.
Yet, today, the eighth of November, well after the voting has ended, Democrats lost eight house seats and only won one Senatorial race. How could this be?
Many are convinced that malfeasance and fraud entered the election process and have immediately tried to bring suit to stop the declaration of a winner, only to have the cases thrown out by judges that were ultimately put in place by The Regime. Appeals will probably take place, but like 2000 and 2004, those appeals will be too late. Even if appeals reach the Supreme Court, is there any doubt in whose favor the court will rule?
The entire nation seems to be suspicious this time , although the mainstream media reports some disappointment in some corners concerning closely fought contests. They of course, begin a discussion about how the surprising results will affect policy in Bush's last two years as president. The only mention they make about the anomalous difference between exit polls and the final results is to say that, with today's technology, exit polls have become antiquated and almost useless. They fail, however, to explain how that is.
Many of us say, "OK, now it's even more important to become active for the 2008 elections." That statement is followed by the directive to start making calls and pounding the pavement.
Groups like MoveOn and Common Cause tell us that the election was stolen and strongly suggest that we write to our Senators and Representatives, demanding recounts for many of the elections. Of course, where there are no paper trails there can be no recounts. Besides, with Republicans picking up eight house seats and maintaining control of congress, who are these Senators and Representatives to whom we should write?
Articles on Common Dreams, TruthOut, TruthDig and many on line news sources quote experts who say that the voting machines were probably hacked or set up illegally.
Investigative reporters like Greg Palast write articles about the disenfranchisement of black voters, the long lines in strategic voting areas or early closings of polls in some areas. Other articles in the alternative media point out other subtle or even outright evidence of criminal conduct surrounding the elections.
Right wing pundits and other Regime supporters tell us to "stop whining. You lost again. Get over it."
Bush goes before the cameras and assures the American people that he personally saw to it that all elections were fair. He assures the minority that he will have their well being in mind when he "invents" policy (we are unsure if this is a Freudian slip or just a Bushism).
It's late January and the 110th Congress has been sworn in. People are all but trembling as they wait for this congress to tackle the tough issues facing it.
Almost the entire country is hoping that the new congress won't extend the war in Iraq or vote to attack Iran. That's not the first issue to be brought up and voted on.
NARAL, NOW and many other Americans fear that Roe v Wade will be overturned immediately, but their fears are calmed as that, also, is not the first issue for debate and a vote.
There are those who had some hope but have lost it all because they know that the other shoe will soon drop on the gay marriage issue. They have to wait a little longer, though, as that is not the first issue addressed either.
The first bill which is simultaneously brought before the House and the Senate begins with the following words:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
'The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.'."
It is quickly passed and all state legislatures vote in favor of it.
On an evening in July of 2007, George W. Bush appears on television, stating that he will seek his party's nomination for president for the upcoming 2008 election.
In his speech, the president says, "I can not in good conscience relinquish leadership of the great and blessed United States of America until the complex and dangerous war on terror is won."
This article is not just meant to be a scary story or the prediction of a nightmare. This was written to generate the question, "At what point in this story do the American people revert to some kind of radical next step to stop this from coming to fruition?" and to generate answers to that question.
Michael Bonanno is a published poet, essayist and musician who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
His CDs, "Flameland"" and "LIFE; THE MUSICAL" are for sale at CD Baby. "Flameland" includes a dedication to Casey Sheehan called "Casey's Song".
Two of Bonanno's songs were recently included in Neil Young's Living With War Today top 500 Songs of the Times. They are "Casey's Song", mentioned above, and "Soldiers Of Peace", which can also be found on "LIFE; THE MUSICAL".
Bonanno is a political progressive, not a Democratic Party apologist. He believes it's government's job to help the needy and that leaving the people's well being to the so called "private sector" is social suicide.
by Levi Asher (brooklyn)
I've sometimes wondered what Allen Ginsberg would say about the events of the last five years. He would have spoken out about the dual horrors of September 11, 2001 and the American war in Iraq, of course. He might have said some outrageous things and made headlines, or maybe he would have worked quietly to create dialogue with Muslim populations. Allen Ginsberg was good at creating dialogue (he was the one who somehow managed to persuade the aged poet Ezra Pound to regret his lifelong racism towards Jews, for example) and maybe he could have done some good.
Nine years after the Beat poet's death, his estate has arranged the publication of three substantial new books representing his life and work, all from different publishers.
I Celebrate Myself is a solid new biography by Bill Morgan, Ginsberg's long-time archivist. There are already a few reputable biographies of the poet, but this is the first to cover his unusual final days on earth, in which an array of old friends and carefully selected younger admirers like Patti Smith were led to his bedside to celebrate his coming migration towards the first Bardo. Many poets would covet a death scene like Ginsberg's; few will achieve it.
I've met Bill Morgan, an impressively serious literary researcher, and I'm glad he has been busy not only writing the above biography but also co-editing The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice, the first publication of Allen Ginsberg's private journals and early writings from 1937 to 1952. It's wonderful to meet the poet as an excitable eleven year old, listing the movies he's seen (he saw a lot of movies, and dutifully listed all the titles for posterity), angrily observing Hitler's progress towards war in Europe, and noticeably failing to commit to paper any actual details about his beloved mother's descent into insanity (this was the signature horror of his childhood, and later burst into the great long poem Kaddish, but as a teenager Allen preferred to dote on movies and lighter events).
My only complaint with this book is the awful title. In fact, Ginsberg was a master of great titles (witness: "Howl", "Planet News", "A Supermarket in California", "Wichita Vortex Sutra", "Mind Breaths", "Reality Sandwiches", "Ballad of the Skeletons"). I can't imagine that he would ever have released a book with such a gag-worthy moniker as "The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice". I'm not sure if the origin of this title is explained in the later sections of this book and I don't know why Bill Morgan and co-editor Juanita Lieberman-Plimpton chose it, but I suppose it's a forgiveable offense. I can clearly see that this book has much to offer, and I haven't even gotten to the part where he meets Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs yet.
A new volume of Collected Poems offers the first single-volume publication of the poet's complete works. The book is notable for this reason, though I'm not crazy about the plain and understated packaging. For me, the bold minimalist design of the City Lights Pocket Poets editions represent the visual corollary to Allen Ginsberg's life's work, and I wish this volume had more of a distinct visual style.
The words, however, are enough to please any discerning reader. The Allen Ginsberg estate has always been a class act, and I'd like to congratulate them on a job well done with these three important new books.
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