Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Acting As If

How a Green Won, by John Halle / July 28th, 2007

November 6, 2008, from wire services, San Francisco: Addressing a Mark Hopkins ballroom packed with dignitaries, Democratic Party operatives and the international news media, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conceded defeat to her Green Party challenger, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan last night. Pelosi’s concession capped a hard fought campaign setting progressives against an increasingly embattled Democratic Party leadership seen as complicit in the Bush administration’s decision to widen the American involvement in the Middle East beyond Iraq into Syria and Iran.

In scoring an unprecedented victory over a sitting speaker, the Sheehan candidacy was bolstered by its early alliance with the Greens. The insurgent party has become a formidable presence in San Francisco politics, holding two seats on the Board of Supervisors and on the School Board. Also notable was the support offered by former Board of Supervisor’s President Matt Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s 2003 mayoral campaign, which fell short by just over 14,000 votes, is widely viewed as having set the stage for Sheehan victory. Gonzalez’s decision to share his database of volunteers and financial supporters in exchange for a commitment on Sheehan’s part to run as a Green is credited with providing the electoral muscle which was key to the electoral landslide.

Also key to Sheehan’s victory was the early support of nationally known progressive journalists who made the campaign a central focus of several columns introducing the campaign to a national audience and attracting their support. One of these, syndicated columnist Norman Solomon waxed effusive on the Sheehan victory: “Many of us were chastened by our failure to support the Mayoral campaign of Matt Gonzalez. We came to recognize the Gonzalez near victory as a major missed opportunity for progressives as this would have provided us a legitimate, electable candidate for the presidency in 2008. We were sure not to duplicate our mistake with Cindy and recognized the importance of her campaign immediately after its announcement in July 2007.”

The success of Sheehan’s challenge was vexing to mainstream liberal publications which were generally lukewarm towards the Sheehan candidacy. Their failure to respond positively angered many progressive readers and as a result some have suffered significant losses in their subscription base. Most notable among these was the Nation magazine, though a contributing factor in the publication’s demise was a grassroots boycott in the wake of its endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign. The periodical is now operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The broad coalition behind Sheehan surprised veteran political observers and Democratic Party strategists in extending well beyond her core supporters in the anti-war movement. Civil rights advocates displeased with Pelosi’s failure to move on impeachment proceedings against an administration it saw as routinely demonstrating contempt for the constitution were forthcoming with substantial donations. Others contributed pro bono legal services necessary to defend the Green Party against harassment from a legal team turned loose by the national Democratic Party. Food and farm advocates, disgusted with Pelosi’s support for the 2007 Farm Bill derided as a sham and an environmental atrocity lavished volunteers with locally produced gourmet meals. San Francisco residents with longer memories who have never forgiven Pelosi for her engineering the delivery of the decommissioned Presidio military base into the hands of cronies of Pelosi’s husband’s real estate empire opened their apartments to out-of-town supporters who put in long hours on the campaign.

While national unions, as expected, endorsed Pelosi’s candidacy and contributed to the Democratic get out the vote effort, this was markedly less successful than in previous years. Unconfirmed reports indicate that union members aware of Pelosi’s key role in ramming through job destroying free trade agreements called in sick, refused to participate or, in some cases, actively sabotaged the campaign operation. Some phone bankers would, according to anonymous sources, substitute endorsements of Sheehan for the script provided by the Pelosi functionaries.

But perhaps most decisive was the intangible factor of personality. Ordinary voters appeared to develop a strong attachment to Sheehan, a divorced working class mother of three, whose entry into politics was precipitated by the death of her son Casey in what is now universally understood to be a the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history. Sheehan’s awkward, unschooled and plain spoken manner stood in stark contrast to the smooth manners, impeccable dress and polished rhetoric of Pelosi. Pelosi’s privileged background, the daughter of a big city mayor and her marriage into a billion dollar real estate empire while not figuring Sheehan campaign materials, appeared to become a serious liability among voters.

Pelosi is only the most visible casualty of a political tidal wave whose repercussions are only beginning to be understood by political analysts.

John Halle is a Professor at the Bard College Conservatory of Music and former Green Party Alderman from New Haven's Ninth Ward. Read other articles by John.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Anarchy made easy by Rich

From: http://dzarkhan.wordpress.com

A young and clever George Orwell knew the significance of a beautiful idea. He left his wife and career in England to fight in the Spanish Civil War in December of 1936, siding with the Anarchists who opposed Hitler-backed Nationalist, Francisco Franco. The upsurge of fascism so frightened the fresh faced idealist that he was willing to die to end it. Orwell recognized the elegance of the Spanish Anarchists’ radically different way of administrating their affairs. As a result of the war, his affection for the new society was inverse to his disgust for totalitarianism, a position that informed his future classics Animal Farm and the prescient 1984.

A society like the Anarchist collectives had never before or since existed, an entirely autonomous community divested of centralized rule. But how would a modern Anarchist system operate? Could there be roads, bridges or sanitation? Who would defend the masses from oppression? If it were sustainable back then would it be more so today? The Principles of Anarchy: An Introduction

An Anarchist is against all categories of authority. The most obvious being government, but in a free society corporations and organized religion would also be relinquished. Modified versions of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. would be acceptable as long as they were personal expressions of faith and not a component of a larger hierarchic structure such as the Catholic Church. These institutions constrict the freedom of their adherents. It is impossible to move unencumbered while under the thumb of any system which asserts control from aloft. Today’s dominant attitudes of helplessness and disenchantment can be linked to this cultural feature. People elect Representatives to govern while citizens play no direct part in legislation. As bureaucracies grow (because that’s what Capitalism does - it expands) they monopolize the lion’s share of wealth and power. It is the goal of Anarchism to bridge this chasm and place people in charge of themselves.

Under Anarchism all property serves as a public resource, therefore it is false to assume nothing is owned in Anarchistic communities. On the contrary, the public owns everything. This is why it is believed, as proprietors, individuals are more inclined to be dutiful stewards of what belongs to them. A timeless example of this principle in action can be taken from the book of Nehemiah. In it Nehemiah must rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after a vicious attack. He assigns laborers to work on restoring, not the sections of the wall farthest from where they live, but sections of the wall nearest to each worker, ensuring a quick and meritorious result.

The story of Nehemiah and the wall of Jerusalem illustrates the underpinnings of the Anarchist’s view of human nature. Everyone is an egotist at heart, selfish and individualistic. But most people are social animals as well capable of compassion and sympathetic toward sufferers. This is why the laborers Nehemiah placed in charge of the construction of the wall cooperated with each other. They wanted protection. Anarchist collectives would work for the same reason. The members of the collective value nourishment, social relationships and creative expression, and would enter into a social contract without the supervision of government. Unfortunately, there is one fatal flaw in this story. To any self-respecting Anarchist Nehemiah must go.

There’s no business like no business

From the perspective of the Anarchist, Capitalism degrades human potential when greed becomes the engine of society. Profits justify all beastly pursuits: theft, murder, deceit. The only unpardonable sin is losing money. Cities, for example, serve as a surplus of available labor for corporations. The design of a city centers around the needs of businesses, clustering employees and their families around factories, providing the employees with food, clothing and entertainment along with modes of control. The aim of Anarchists would be to abolish these inhibiting conditions.

After wresting authority away from their corporate handlers the workers would go on to erect “syndicates”. Each syndicate would be devoted to a specific aspect of production necessary for the continuance of the community. One syndicate would specialize in chairs another in toilets and another in ceiling fans and so on and so forth. The workers in a particular syndicate would have dominion over the policies in their workplace. Each worker has an equal vote in the direction of their co-operative. For the day-to-day decisions required to run a complex syndicate workers would divide the collective into administrative branches through popular vote. At this point it is up to an individual to persuade their fellow workers of their education and skills in order to be placed in the proper administrative branch.

In keeping with the spirit of self-management the community also deserves a say in how their syndicates operate. That is why all the syndicates would be owned by everyone in a commune. A collection of syndicates is called a confederation. Just how workers determine the best methods of how their syndicate produces, the members of the confederation decide what is produced and how much.

It is important to keep in mind that this is the formula of choice when it comes to any Anarchist commune. Hospitals, schools and the military are all organized in this fashion. The reason for this is simple. When a syndicate’s course is no longer navigated by the workers, but by a tiny elite, it reverts back into a corporation.

A worthy aside, the word “labor” has a different meaning in a free society. Within the current system people compliment machines in an assembly line mentality, but self-facilitating communes would use technology to eliminate dangerous, tedious and undesirable work. The result would be an abundance of leisure time with a few hours of intermittent labor resembling art more than drudgery. Those assembly lines would run themselves leaving the workers to decorate the products at the end. And even in cases like the construction of roads and bridges, the hazardous aspects will be automated and workers, free from bosses and arbitrary deadlines, will take pride in what they produce because it will be for their benefit.

When workers manage themselves it is unlikely they would pollute their streams and sky or maintain an unsafe working environment. Today’s corporations have made these practices apart of their culture. Consumption and competition animates Capitalism but in tomorrow’s society producers and consumers will be one in the same.

Welcome to the neighborhood

For all the praise in reference to “the people” it could be wrongfully assumed Anarchists romanticize the masses. Untrue. Anarchists make no illusions about the gullibility of massive groups of people. It is the multitude who allowed the minority, the wealthy oligarchy of policy-makers, to enslave them in the first place. The answer is to transform the majority into well-educated cells.

Communes are structured in exactly this way. While they will communicate with other communes it is important to reach a balance so as not to become bloated with a large population. When free people are taught outside the restrictions of a repressive society it is difficult to imagine this being a problem. Work in an Anarchist society is voluntary so if someone wants to leave a syndicate, or even a commune, he or she may. The end result being a vibrant culture in a constant state of flux.

But even with each individual expressing him or herself freely without the deterrence of laws a few basic needs will remain. Health care will be just as vital as ever. Hospitals would function in the same way as syndicates. The doctors and nurses would organize, split into administrative branches based on their training and abilities, and be available for public use at any time. Doctors would visit the homes of the handicapped and the elderly who cannot care for themselves. The treatment people receive under this system, it could be said, would be superior because they would be cared for as patients and not customers. Additionally, those who entered into the health care profession would not do so for material gain but because of their passion for the work.

Some criminal element could be expected to dwell inside any commune. Plenty of crime would have been extinguished after the socialization of a community’s resources. Still a fraction of criminals would linger. Prisons have never been a popular solution and embodies everything Anarchists abhor about authoritarian rule. Instead the treatment of a criminal would be based upon their specific crime. He or she may be ostracized from the commune through popular vote or, depending upon the crime, given an opportunity to observe the destructive effects they had on the community. Popular opinion also would be used to pressure an injurious individual. A court system, constructed by the people of the commune and served in by everyone via lottery, would determine the guilt or innocence of an individual as well as his or her punishment. For those who need to be removed from society altogether, such as rapists, child molesters and sociopaths, asylums would be built in order to treat the offender without harm to others.

As for protection, a police force could be built if a commune desired. However, it would not patrol neighborhoods in the traditional sense, instead it would be an on-call service, much like a fire department, for anyone who wished to utilize it. And just like any other syndicate in the commune, the people hold sway over the policies of the police force. So if somebody abuses his or her power they can be immediately dismissed.

Anarchy made easy? Because there have been so few examples of functional Anarchist societies in history these suggestions cannot be seen as gospel truth. Many of these ideas are taken either from noteworthy Anarchist thinkers or from the Spanish Civil War where they were put into practice. Freedom requires massive amounts of education on a large scale. It took the people of Spain seventy years to prepare for their revolution all the while overcoming illiteracy and a civil war, but with the internet and relative peace (at least here in the United States) the conditions are markedly better to annunciate the message. Isn’t it time to start thinking like George Orwell and recognize the significance of this beautiful idea?

"Paths Through Utopias" project gets

John Jordan, co-editor of *We are Everywhere: the Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism* (Verso, 2003) and founder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, has embarked on a "Paths Through Utopias" project that will take him and his partner, Isabelle Fremeaux, on a 7 month journey through Europe in search of utopian ways of living despite capitalism. The pair intend the trip to lead to a book (a travelogue), a film (in the form of a "fake" documentary/road movie exploring a fictional period following a global ecological/economic collapse), and a series of workshops. They have also launched a new web site, http://utopias.eu/, where they will blogging the experience as it unfolds. The journey looks set to be very exciting, and the web site is well designed. I recommend it... Laurence

Sunday, July 29, 2007

~Nude With Cat~

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of the Situationist International

"It is vain to want to revive a Situation that was valid 45 years ago. And especially when the people who occupy themselves with this 'restoration' are only chefs who do not know how to cook." -- Raoul Hausmann, letter to Guy Debord, dated 5 April 1963.

"Surrealism is obviously alive. Its creators are still not dead. The new people, more and more mediocre, it is true, claim kinship with it. Surrealism is known to the public as the extreme of modernism and, on the other hand, it has become an object for university studies. It is indeed one of the things that live at the same time that we do, like Catholicism and General de Gaulle. [...] The real question is thus: what is the role of surrealism today?" -- Guy Debord, Supreme Height of the Defenders of Surrealism in Paris and the Revelation of their Real Value (December 1958).

Exactly 50 years ago today -- on 28 July 1957 -- the Situationist International (SI) was founded in Cosio d'Arroscia, a small village in Italy. Is it not senseless to celebrate such an event? The SI disbanded in April 1972, and so is no longer with us. Several of its most important members (Asger Jorn, Constant, and Guy Debord) are dead. When the organization was in existence, it existed both in and against its era;[1] it was never intended to last beyond it.[2] To the extent that the SI's era has passed, so has the SI itself. There is no going back.

Over the course of those 15 years, the SI changed a great deal. It is commonly agreed that the organization went through three distinct stages (and so one might say that there were three Situationist Internationals, without considering the "Second Situationist International," which was formed in 1960 by several people who had been excluded from the "First" SI). Between 1957 and 1961, the SI both theorized and made revolutionary art; between 1962 and 1968, it both produced and disseminated revolutionary theory; and, between 1969 and 1972, it both theorized and participated in the post-1968 revolutionary movement. There were different, even conflicting tendencies within each of these three periods: between 1957 and 1961, there were intense debates between Jorn and Constant, that is to say, between the painters and the architects/urbanists; between 1962 and 1968, there were conflicts of style and tone that pitted Debord against Raoul Vaneigem, that is, dialectical epigrams against narrative exposition; and, between 1969 and 1972, there were splits between those who wanted to the SI to stay small or even shrink in size (most of the French section) and those who wanted it to grow (the American section).

Such was the richness of the SI. This richness -- the group's incredible fertility -- is why one marks and celebrates the anniversary of the organization's founding.

But when one speaks of the SI, one most often has the SI of the 1962-1968 period in mind. Did not Debord himself say that "one can not speak of 'coherence' in the first years of the SI," because coherence was only achieved in "the period begun in 1962 and in large part as a project that was more or less verified later on"?[3] It was, of course, during the SI's "middle" period that Vaneigem wrote and published Treatise on Living for the Younger Generations[4] and Debord wrote and published The Society of the Spectacle. More so than the essays published in Internationale Situationniste, these are the texts -- plus Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life (written and published in 1966) -- for which the SI is best known.

Each of these famous books elaborates its own theory: Vaneigem's Treatise elaborates the theory of "everyday life"[5] and Debord's Spectacle elaborates the theory of "the spectacle."[6] But the former was in fact not a theory, but a concept; and, furthermore, it has not changed or been developed since the early 1960s. Everyday life was and remains an empty "terrain" (really, a block of time) that is occupied by and with passionless, joyless and meaningless activities: primarily work and the consumption of commodities. The revolution of everyday life was and remains the quest by individuals for a certain lifestyle, for time freed from the necessity of working and for consumption freed from the necessity of buying commodities.

On the other hand, "the spectacle" was indeed a theory, and Debord changed and developed it twice over the course of twenty-odd years. (One must not forget that the 15 years of the SI's existence is matched by the 15 years of diligent and high-quality activity that Debord personally engaged in between 1973 and 1988.) In 1967, the spectacle -- a stage of capitalist society in which super-abundant wealth is displayed and wasted instead of being used to revolutionize that society -- was defined as a binary opposition (and cooperation) between the diffuse spectacle of the "democratic" West and the concentrated spectacle of the "totalitarian" East. In 1973, in Debord's film The Society of the Spectacle, the spectacle was shown to be a stage that could be and indeed was actually being contested all over the world, in both the West (especially France) and the East (especially Poland).[7] And, in 1988, in Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, the spectacle[8] was defined as an "integration" of the diffuse and concentrated brands.

And so we are confronted with a troublesome series of observations: though the theory of the spectacle began as an exclusively situationist theory (no one else elaborated it), it ended up as Guy Debord's theory.[9] Unlike both the concept of "everyday life" and the Situationist International itself, the theory of spectacle moved beyond the 1960s and so did not pass away with them. More than that: with the development of the theory of the integrated spectacle, "situationist theory crosses over its disintegration point."[10] That is to say, situationist theory -- purely situationist theory, undeveloped situationist theory, situationist theory that bases itself too heavily or solely upon the revolution of everyday life -- finally became spectacular, finally became "situationism."

* * *
"Is it worth the bother of saying this again? There is no 'situationism.' I am myself only a situationist due to the fact of my participation -- at this moment and in certain conditions -- in a community practically grouped together in view of a task, which this community will or will not know how to accomplish [...] The SI is obviously composed of very diverse individuals and even several discernable tendencies of which the relations of force have sometimes changed. Without doubt, its entire activity is only pre-situationist. We do not in any way defend 'creations' that belong to someone and still less to a single one of us: on the contrary, we find it very positive that the comrades who have joined us have already, by themselves, attained an experimental problematic that blends ours. The surest symptom of idealist delirium is, moreover, the stagnation of individuals, supporting or quarreling for years about the same values, because they are the only ones to recognize them as the rules of a poor game. The situationists leave them to their dust-ups." -- Guy Debord, "Concerning Several Errors of Interpretation."[11]

Such a split -- friends of Guy Debord, on the one hand, and adherents to situationism, on the other, with no situationists to be found on either side -- was clearly visible during the polemic surrounding the Encyclopedia of Nuisances.[12] Unlike Debord and his friends, who were deeply interested in the political events taking place in Spain, Poland and Italy during the 1980s, the Encyclopedists were preoccupied with situationist texts (from the pre-1962 period!) and abstract concepts.[13] Significantly, the bone of contention between the two groups was an event: the French student movement of November-December 1986, in particular, the occupation of the Sorbonne and the erection of barricades in the Latin Quarter on 6 December. While the Encyclopedists were highly critical of these actions for reasons of "theory," Debord and his friends valued these actions for their practical boldness.[14] One might have expected that the reverse would have been the case: the Encyclopedists on the side of "action" and Debord et al on the side of "theory." But the times had changed, and so had Debord.

The same split exists today, even though Guy Debord himself is dead. There are a great many adherents to situationism and, though there are important differences between them, they share several of the preoccupations and limitations of the Encyclopedists. Here is a brief sketch, which excludes writers who do not consider themselves to be either adherents to situationism or friends of Debord and who have written texts about the SI that are openly hostile (Stewart Home, Bob Black, Simon Sadler, etc.):

Ken Knabb. This fellow has spent more than 25 years polishing his translations of the texts published in Internationale Situationniste, and in 2002 he offered yet another translation of Debord's 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle (it had previously been translated by Fredy Perlman and then by Donald Nicholson-Smith). But Knabb seems completely uninterested in (translating) Debord's work after 1972: his collaboration on the "Censor" pamphlet,[15] his Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle,"[16] his virtually unknown 1980 intervention in favor of imprisoned libertarians in Spain,[17] his Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, etc etc. Knabb's interest in (translating) Debord's films, most of which were made and released after 1972, does not undermine the validity of our reproach: these are mostly lyrical-poetic works, redolent of the SI's first period, and not strategic interventions, redolent of its third.

Retort. This is the name taken by a group of Anglo-American academics who are utterly fixated on Debord's 1967 book, and seem to be completely uninterested in Debord's post-1972 work. As we have pointed out,[18] this bias renders their analyses of "September 11th" completely boring and reactionary. Despite their name, this group's members do not dialogue or "engage in polemics" with people who disagree with them.[19] Not surprisingly, Retort's politics are explicitly Leftist, not revolutionary.

Various "Anti-Conspiracy" Pro-Situationists. Like the members of Retort, these are people who -- during their denunciations of what they call "conspiracy theories" concerning September 11th -- demonstrate their lack of knowledge or interest in both Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle" and Comments of the Society of the Spectacle. As if the Italian section of the SI never published Is the Reichstag Burning? such people claim that "conspiracy theories" are either non-situationist or anti-situationist.

Various Neo-Anarchists. Here we have in mind such groups (or participants in such actions as) "Reclaim the Streets," "Carnival Against Capitalism," The Yes-Men, The Rev. Billy, et al -- that is to say, most of what used to be called "the anti-globalization movement." These are Leftists and former-Marxists who are strongly influenced by the pre-1962 situationists, who call themselves "anti-authoritarians" because it is a good marketing strategy, and who are single-mindedly obsessed with defective or toxic commodities, evil corporations and economic globalization, and yet absolutely unconcerned with concentration camps, fascism, the "refugee crisis" and other properly political problems. They are also openly disdainful of September 11th "conspiracy theories."[20]

Jordan Levinson. This is a neo-anarchist who refers to Debord as "de Bore," who gloats about the fact that Debord "offed himself," and excoriates "the impotent rhetoric of dead fools from 40 years ago," and yet uses the email address situationist@email.com and insists on uploading his bad translations of situationist texts to a website that is full of advertisements and that deposits cookies and pop-up windows for commercial products on the hard-drives of the people foolish enough to access it. Levinson is an excellent example of a "Vaneigemist": full of rage and resentment, terrified of being judged or correcting himself, and content with things (virtually anything, of whatever quality) as long as they is free.

Raoul Vaneigem. To the casual observer, or even the moderately well-informed person, Vaneigem resigned from the SI in November 1970 and never looked back, that is to say, pursued his ideas and projects positively and progressively, not negatively or in reaction to (his resignation from) the group to which he belonged and derived whatever notoriety he possesses. Only those who have tracked Vaneigem's collaborations with the virulent anti-Debordist and madman Jean-Pierre Voyer -- and Vaneigem's use of pseudonyms (not "Ratgeb" or "Jules-Francois Dupuis," but "Jean-Pierre Bastid," "Pierre Bree" and "Jacques Vincent") in these collaborations[21] -- would know that his resignation has both determined and ruined much of what he has written since 1970.[22] (We fear that something similar is in play where Donald Nicholson-Smith is concerned.[23])

Though the adherents to situationism are awful and awfully frustrating, it is not at all comfortable being a "friend of Debord." (Note that we realize that we are certainly not Debord's only "friends," who also include Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Francois Martos and all of the various people who wrote articles about the obviously conspiratorial aspects of September 11th from a "situationist" -- that is to say, "Debordist" -- perspective.) The many causes for this discomfort are not all "theoretical"; they all do not have to do with the inappropriateness or counter-revolutionary aspects of the cult of personality, hero-worship, etc., especially where this particular person is concerned. Around 1990 or so -- but not before then, we are sure of it -- Debord became seriously depressed, paranoid, moralizing and very dull. These qualities can certainly be discerned in his letter to Jean-Francois Martos dated 26 December 1990, and they quite simply ruined Son Art et Son Temps, the TV program he made with Brigitte Cornand in 1994, shortly before his suicide. No doubt Volume 7 (1988-1994) of his Correspondance, which will be published in 2008, will show that these were not isolated episodes, but typical of the man's last few years. There will be no point in denying it.

* * *
"For the moment, you must observe all the treatments or regimes that are called for, even the severe ones. We will soon come to Italy, which, I hope, will encourage you. If a culpable indifference to what you can do in the world or a deplorable sense of humor causes you to still play with the idea of suicide, you must consider other alternatives. You know that I have always allowed, with a very great facility and nearly an equal spirit, that life separates me from many friends and several girls whom I have loved. But I tolerate death very poorly." -- Guy Debord, letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti dated 25 September 1974.

But this does not mean that Debord's theory of the spectacle should be renounced or abandoned: far from it. Never before has it been so clear that "our" society -- the one we are forced to live in and create against our will -- is the society of the spectacle. And so our task should be developing a theory of the spectacle as it is today. A step has already been taken in this direction by McKenzie Wark in his book A Hacker's Manifesto (2004), in which the author speaks of "the vector." Adopting this term, we might speak of "the vectoral spectacle," but this is clearly inadequate: the relation of the vector (a spatial metaphor) to digital technologies is not clear. And so -- drawing upon such easily comprehensible (and relevant) terms as virtual images, virtual memory and virtual reality -- we propose "the virtual spectacle," the spectacle at its point of virtuality.

Following the gestures of Chapter I of the "Censor" pamphlet and Chapter V of Comments on the Society of the Spectacle -- both of which list and briefly discuss five new characteristics of the society of the spectacle -- we end by offering five observations about what is new since 1988.

1) Torture. This is no longer a crime, forbidden by international law and secretly perpetrated on a select few people ("high value" terrorists held in military or CIA prisons, that is to say, people from whom specialized information "needs" to be extracted); it is now an officially approved form of "information gathering" practiced by the agents of the United States government, a "necessary" component of the "war against terrorism." But torture is also becoming the mainstay of the cultural spectacle in all its forms -- "body-centered" performance art, "aggressive" advertising, "adult" entertainment and "extreme" sports -- and so is now inflicted upon a growing number of people.[24] This is generally self-inflicted torture, and so appears different from the torture inflicted by the State. But, to the extent it can be just as painful to watch someone inflict pain upon themselves as it is to watch someone inflict pain upon someone else, self-inflicted torture is part of the same "theatre of cruelty" (should we say, the same "theatre of operations"?) as State torture. Torture is the official art form of the society of the spectacle.

2) Sonorization. Harsh sounds or annoying music can be (is being) used as an instrument of torture designed to extract information, especially if is used to deprive detainees or prisoners of sleep. But, like torture itself, sound is everywhere these days: not just "muzak" in the elevator and the supermarket, but electronic prompts, recorded voices and "sound effects" coming from every single computerized device, and -- of course -- everything is done by or with computers these days. Silence is disappearing, even from "silent movies," which have had soundtracks forced upon them (the auditory equivalent of "colorization"). Worse still, these sounds are not "natural" or recorded by analog recorders: they are digitally created sounds, simulated, and they sound "better" or "more realistic" than the real things. In the society in which the spectacle has reached the stage of virtuality, even sound becomes "spectacularized."

3) Slowness. It is obvious that digital technologies have accelerated the speeds of all kinds of delivery systems: for example, messages or bombs can now be sent 'round the world in a matter of seconds. Time itself seems to be accelerating. And yet some things are not speeding up, but are slowing down. For example: the progress of selecting the ultimate winner on the American Idol TV show now seems to take forever, and the "primary season" in American presidential politics now begins in the summer of the year preceding the actual elections. Surely such a slow pace in both "elections" guarantees greater income (advertising revenue and donations, respectively). But does not this slow pace -- a kind of torture -- threaten to exhaust people's interest? Perhaps this is precisely the intention. In a society in which everything (superficial) must change so that nothing (fundamental) changes, speed is the negation that the spectacle carries within itself.

4) Accidents. Technological development accidentally creates accidents on a large scale: the invention of the automobile was also the invention of the automobile crash; the invention of the airplane was also the invention of the airplane crash, etc. Because capitalist technological renewal is deliberate, the accident becomes easily foreseeable; and because such renewal is incessant, the scope of the foreseeable accident becomes wider and deeper. The "vector" here is clear: spectacular accidents will take place globally: not just anywhere in the world, but all over the world at the same time. Thus, there is a certain symmetry or integration between the technological accident and deliberate acts of terrorism, which can be defined as the interruption of everyday life by acts of war. It will become increasingly impossible to distinguish, say, an "accidental" explosion at a nuclear power plant and a deliberate act of sabotage at such an installation. In the society of the spectacle, terrorism and everyday life become indistinguishable.

5) Refugee camps. People or, rather, masses of people, whole populations, can be forced to become refugees by "man-made" accidents, natural catastrophes, market ("crop") failures, civil wars, invasions, occupations, etc. etc. They flee en masse and are forced to stay in "temporary" camps, which are maintained by friendly hosts. This is a doubly dangerous situation for the refugees: that which is only temporary easily becomes permanent; and refugee camps can easily become hotbeds of "terrorism," which are then turned into concentration camps so as to protect the "security" of their hosts. What happens when the "accident" of mass displacement becomes a global phenomenon? The "vector" of the virtual spectacle points towards a single, giant, transnational concentration camp.[25]

NOT BORED! 28 July 2007

[1] "It is necessary to make it understood how the adventure of the SI was narrowly circumscribed in time; and contrary to many other 'avant-gardes' with pretensions to lead several [subsequent] generations. Literally, the SI existed from 1957 to 1972. And, by counting the period of the 'origins,' it existed from 1952 to '57. And here was the profound meaning of the operation of 'dissolution' that one can say took place between the autumn of 1970 and the first months of 1972." Guy Debord, letter to Jean-Francois Martos dated 14 September 1985.

[2] One wouldn't know this from the way the SI's texts have been translated into English. Take, for example, Ken Knabb's butchery of Michele Bernstein's No Useless Indulgences. Despite the facts that this short text was written by one of the SI's founders and published in the very first issue of the group's journal, Knabb saw fit to remove -- to leave untranslated -- all of this text's references to the people outside the SI who were held up for ridicule (Francoise Giroud, Georges Mathieu and Michel Tapie). Knabb's intentions were obvious: to present to the English-speaking world only those passages that were "timeless," that were not "tied" to France in the 1950s, even if that meant leaving half of this short text untranslated.

[3] See Debord's letter to Juvenal Quillet dated 11 November 1971.

[4] Better known as The Revolution of Everyday Life.

[5] Sources for this theory included Henri Lefebvre's The Critique of Everyday Life, Volume I (published in 1947) and The Critique of Everyday Life, Volume II (published in 1962).

[6] Sources for this theory included Georgs Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness (1926) and Georges Bataille's "The Notion of Expenditure" (1933).

[7] In a letter to Eduardo Rothe dated 21 February 1974, Debord sketched out the differences between the pre-1968 and post-1968 periods as follows: "The epoch no longer simply demands a vague response to the question 'What is to be done? [...] It is now a question, if one wants to remain in the present, of responding to this question almost every week: 'What is happening?' [...] The principle work that, it appears to me, one must engage in -- as the complementary contrary to The Society of the Spectacle, which described frozen alienation (and the negation that is implicit in it) -- is the theory of historical action. One must advance strategic theory in its moment, which has come. At this stage and to speak schematically, the basic theoreticians to retrieve and develop are no longer Hegel, Marx and Lautreamont, but Thucydides, Machiavelli and Clausewitz."

[8] As we have noted in our translation of the Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Debord uses the word "spectacular" to designate this integrated form and to distinguish it from its constitutive parts.

[9] It is difficult to not refer here to Debordist theory. Surely Debord himself would have said, following Karl Marx's famous declaration "I am not a Marxist," that he was not a Debordist and that "Debordism" did not exist.

[10] See remark attributed to Serge Quadruppani in Jean-Francois Martos' letter to Debord, dated 11 September 1990.

[11] Published in Internationale Situationniste #4, June 1960. For some reason, this text remained untranslated until a few days ago, when we ourselves translated it.

[12] Founded in 1984 -- in the aftermath of the assassination of Debord's publisher, film producer and friend Gerard Lebovici -- by the ex-situationist Christian Sebastiani and Debord's friend Jaime Semprun, the Encyclopedia of Nuisances published many essays of "situationist" inspiration, including three by Debord himself: Abat-Faim, To Abolish and Ab Irato.

[13] Take for example the perfectly awful essay entitled Abundance.

[14] See the essay entitled The Encyclopedia of Powers, which was written by Jean-Francois Martos and Jean-Pierre Baudet, with help from Debord.

[15] Written by the ex-situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti. See our translation of this important and yet often over-looked work from 1975.

[16] Written and published in 1979, and translated into English shortly thereafter.

[17] Click here for our translation of Aux Libertaires.

[18] See both An Unkind Reply to Retort and its follow-up, Another Unkind to Retort, neither of which the group has seen fit to respond to.

[19] "I think this serious and fundamental relation between struggle and truth, the dimension in which philosophy has developed for centuries and centuries, only dramatizes itself, becomes emaciated, and loses its meaning and effectiveness in polemics within theoretical discourse. So in all of this I will therefore propose only one imperative, but it will be categorical and unconditional: Never engage in polemics." Michel Foucault, lecture notes for 11 January 1978, in Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-1978 (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007), pp. 3-4.

[20] For more on this subject, see A critique of neo-anarchism.

[21] Cf. Protest to the Libertarians of the present and the future on the capitulations of 1980 (1980) and Echecs Situationnistes (1988). In 1976, Vaneigem teamed up with Mustapha Khayati (using the pseudonym "Mustapha Martens") to denounce Gerard Lebovici for reprinting On the Poverty of Student Life. For a taste for their resentment and envy, read the note on this matter falsely attributed to Lebovici.

[22] See our review of Vaneigem's truly awful book called A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings, published in 2000.

[23] Most well-informed people will known that, in his last film, In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978), Guy Debord included a picture of Donald Nicholson-Smith -- who was excluded from the SI in December 1967 -- among pictures of other ex-situationists whom he remembered fondly (Asger Jorn, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio and Attila Kotanyi).

In a letter to Jon Horelick and Tony Verlaan dated 28 October 1970, Debord remarked that "Certain [excluded] comrades were very sympatico and had some real capabilities. Their participation could be of great value in certain general circumstances many times described by us. I am thinking, for example, of Donald [Nicholson-Smith] and Eduardo [Rothe]: they were excluded, one and then the other, two years apart, for having totally failed to live up to an accord on a specific problem, an accord that they agreed to after very extended discussions."

In a letter to Nicholson-Smith himself dated 16 February 1978, Debord declared, "But beyond the 'organizational' plane on which this regrettable discord arose, you certainly remember that I always accorded you the greatest confidence in all the qualities that I recognized in you, and not only your intellectual talents. Of course, as everything continues, I find nothing surprising in the fact that you are still in the same historic party." The two men agreed to work together on translations of Debord's texts that would be published by Gerard Lebovici's Editions Champ Libre. After a series of exchanges concerning Nicholson-Smith's rather stiff financial requirements, Debord (and Lebovici, too) soured on the arrangement.

In a letter to Lebovici dated 27 May 1979, Debord wrote: "What you have seen in Donald appears to me to confirm the entire picture: bitter discontent at lacking so much in his life, due to my fault in a certain way. This conclusion is reinforced by his lack of eagerness to telephone me. And when he does so, I will respond that I am absent, and that the moment is not quite suitable, but there is nothing pressing. I leave it to you to manage things the best you can on the purely professional level and still remain prudent. Because he who has not known how to affirm himself by himself, over the course of twelve years, must thus necessarily associate with the most jealous of our enemies." It appears that "the most jealous of our enemies" is a reference to Raoul Vaneigem.

It is certainly true that, in the aftermath of this affair, Nicholson-Smith translated Vaneigem's Treatise of Living for the Younger Generations into English (it was published in 1983 as The Revolution of Everyday Life); and, in 1999, he translated Vaneigem's crappy little book A Cavalier History of Surrealism. In 2002, Nicholson-Smith translated a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, a person whom Debord detested. . . . It is in this light that one should remember that Nicholson-Smith's translation of Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (Zone Books, 1993) does not read like Debord, but like Vaneigem. That is to say, it might be an act of revenge.

[24] See Paul Virilio's book on pitiless art.

[25] This is such an important theme that we will need to take it up and develop it in another essay. For the moment, we will limit ourselves to noting that the problems of mass dislocations and huge refugee camps lie outside -- and even render irrelevant -- "traditional" Leftist/neo-anarchist preoccupations with 1) multi-national corporations and 2) either the weakening or the strengthing of boundaries between nations ("globalization"). In refugee camps, the capitalist economy (work and the consumption of commodities) does not exist: food, water and basic services, if they exist at all, are provided by humanitarian aid organizations. And because refugees camps operate under states of exception, in which the law is suspended, one cannot say that the democratic/capitalist State governs such camps. A world of refugee camps is thus not the world turned upside-down: it is the world turned inside-out.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Charles Bukowski and Packer Dulce

From: http://artofstarving.wordpress.com

This is who Art of Starving turns into after 4 beers and approximately 3 shots of Makers Mark:

He was a bastard and a genius. Charles Bukowski. Los Angeles’s greatest writer. More well-known in Europe than his own hometown. Wrote the movie ‘Barfly’. That sometimes gets a response.

I wanted to be him when I was a young writer.

I wrote poems like him. Tried to at least. This was one of them.

Drunk on beer at three in the morning the cat is in the yard talking to the moon and the cars come down the street ten minutes apart with their conical lights piercing the dark and the cat darts and hides in the bushes as I open another beer fart and sigh

Bad… I know.

Starting out I also wrote stories about a character named Packer Dulce. He was sorta my Hank Chinaski. He was a man always causing his own bad luck but finding the meaning to keep on struggling in the most mundane, overlooked miracles.

It’s the little things that allow us to get out of bed in the morning. That was the point of Packer Dulce. A plane flying overhead, leaving a jet trail. Watching children swinging at a pinata. A bird pecking at a french fry.

It took a few years, a small fortune in alcohol, and many wasted nights; it took poem after poem, story after story until I finally wrung the Bukowski out of me. There were countless road trips, and always one more beer that never seemed to end.

From Los Angeles to Boston and towns in between.

One day though I woke up and realized I had lost the Packer Dulce character out there on the road somewhere.

Now: Art of Starving. Tomorrow: who knows?

Writing is a river, I’ve just barely built my canoe.

It was a splendid day in Spring and outside we could hear the birds that hadn’t been killed by the smog – Charles Bukowski

On second thought, I lied. There’s always going to be a little Bukowski in me.


http://www.ipl.org/div/subject/browse/ref00.00.00/ http://infopeople.org/search/index.html

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Depleted Uranium Blasts to Increase At Livermore Lab - Video News Clip

Livermore Laboratory where Depleted Uranium is exploded - SF Bay in background Livermore Laboratory where Depleted Uranium is exploded - SF Bay in background

A recent news clip that discusses Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's permit application to blast 8,000 lbs of contaminants including Depleted Uranium near San Francisco/San Jose area. If you look in the pic out in the distance to your left, you will see the San Francisco Bay.

Following is a news clip out of Sacramento, CA that tells us that in the Greater San Francisco Bay/San Jose, CA area, a federal weapons laboratory has applied to explode up to 8,000 (EIGHT THOUSAND) pounds of toxic and radiological contaminants into California’s air annually. In case you’ve not yet heard? This invisible “gift” to the good folks of California (and wherever else the wind blows) includes a mighty hefty dose of "Depleted” Uranium. This component of nuclear and radiological weapons stays around in the environment for more than 4 billion years and is, in fact, the very same nasty stuff that the military uses on “the enemy” in the Middle East. This new permit that the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory has filed with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is, however, nothing all that new. The only real “news” here is that the 8,000 lbs. is an eight-fold increase of what's already been going on near San Francisco for decades. One thousand pounds (1,000 lbs.) of these contaminants have routinely been exploded at Livermore’s Site 300 each year (since at least 1961) into California's air. This is no joke. The federal government explodes “Depleted” Uranium into the open air INSIDE THE UNITED STATES in order to run “tests”, they tell us, that simulate some kind of new bombs. They certainly must be getting pretty darn good at making all kinds of new bombs by now, as they’ve been “testing” this stuff for the past 45 years in a densely-populated area filled with 10 million people! No, this truly is *not* some diabolically horrid new plot for the next Stephen King movie. This is actually happening, and has happened – apparently below the national radar - for longer than many of us have been around. One wonders then, if it is pure coincidence that in 2003, the greater San Francisco/San Jose area had more reported incidences of cancer than in the entire state of Maryland? One suspects not. http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/uscs/Table.aspx?Group=TableGeo&Year=2003&Display=n Apparently someone at the top must have recently decided that blasting 1,000 pounds of these poisons annually is not nearly enough aerosolized nano-sized particulates to be lodged, quite literally, up to decades inside America’s lungs! With a state dedicated to improving public health and air quality almost with religious zeal, it’s mighty interesting that such an environmentally-conscious state would actually be Okay, Like, Whatevvvvver with regard to adding another 7,000 lbs. of health-destroying contaminants into the atmosphere –on top of the 1,000 lbs. they historically already blast there each year. It’s believed that most Californians do not even know about these radioactive poison gas explosions. Nor do most Americans seem to even have a clue that an illegal war weapon of indiscriminate effects is being used by its own government in the air inhaled by its very own people. http://tinyurl.com/389l89 Below is a short news clip video by Cornell Barnard on the subject of the increase in toxic and radioactive contaminants into open air near the farm lands where a great deal of the produce (think grapes, lettuce, citrus fruits, dairy products, and wine) that winds up on kitchen tables across the nation is grown. As you will see, the dutiful Livermore Laboratory Public Relations worker featured in the news clip is ever the maternal, soothing voice for the Department of Energy (the obedient agency that acts as the War Department’s handmaiden). The poison Lab spokesperson (could be anyone's Mom, Auntie, or next door neighbor) calmingly reassures Californians that there’s “no public threat” and that the feds, the people who put the (contaminated) bread and butter on her table, would never do anything to harm its citizens. Well, as much as I hate to argue with a taxpayer-funded cheerleader for our national bombs and weapons “research and development” program, I have seen the list of roughly 70 contaminants they’re exploding at Site 300 at the Livermore Laboratory in California… and they sure don’t look very innocuous to me! These public health poisons include Depleted Uranium, Lead, Chloroform, Carbon Monoxide, Ammonia, Cyanide, Benzene - and that's just for starters! When you watch the news clip, be sure to watch the Livermore PR spokesperson and her body language carefully. You know, one could even swear that her nose grows a bit longer by the time she’s finished speaking. There are 2 news clips contained within the link below – the Cornell Barnard report is the one to watch. Bomb Blast Test Debate Resumes Near Tracy Written by Dan Adams, Reporter http://www.news10.net/display_story.aspx?storyid=30477 Cathy Garger http://www.mytown.ca/garger

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Presidential Candidate Wants Iraq Vote on Ballots

Stewart A. Alexander for President Peace and Freedom Party July 25, 2007 Many top Congressional Democrats and Republicans are now taking the position that it will be necessary for the US to maintain a military presence in Iraq into 2009. Despite plummeting American support for the Iraq War, Congress continues to support the occupation and American imperialism. Stewart Alexander, a presidential hopeful with Peace and Freedom Party, believes it has become necessary to put the Iraq War vote in the hands of the American voters. Alexander is proposing that state legislative bodies nationwide, or citizen groups, have a referendum on the November 2008 ballots, giving Americans the right to vote up or down to end the American occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan; and to withdraw all US forces no later than December 31, 2008. Alexander says, "Even though Americans have spoken, they still need to be heard." Peace and Freedom Party, a socialist party, has remained completely opposed to the Iraq War and occupation; even before the invasion on March 19, 2003. The party has continuously accused the US government and military leaders for America's role in the war; protecting the interest of American capitalist and the interest of multi-national corporations. The Iraq Civil War has been one of America's greatest failures. The war has claimed 3,636 American lives, and combined with Afghanistan, American casualties now stand at 4,045 according to US military reports. More than 1,000,000 Iraqis have died, and more than 1,500,000 have been seriously injured according to recent scientific data. The war has created over 4,000,000 Iraqi refugees, and has created unrest throughout the entire Middle East. The policy of the Bush administration has been a hopeless failure. Presently, the US military is developing plans to maintain American forces in Iraq into 2009. Within the next few weeks Congress will be required to make decisions on providing additional military funding to continue their support of the war; the war has cost US taxpayer almost $500 billion and it is estimated the war will cost Americans more than $1.5 trillion. Stewart Alexander and Peace and Freedom Party want American forces withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Alexander supports having several Middle Eastern nations, including Iran and Syria, to provide security in Iraq until peace can be restored. Alexander is opposed to any additional congressional war funding, other than the necessary funds that will be required to bring Americans troops home; a sum that should not exceed $5 billion. Alexander's proposal for the American voters to make the decision regarding the Iraq War may be the only democratic alternative in determining America's destiny; it would also determine if democracy is still alive in America. For more information search the Web for: Stewart Alexander Enters Race for President; Democrats Retreat before Bush; Presidential Candidate- Senator Reid was Right, War is Lost. http://www.salt-g.com http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/jul2007/bush-j25.shtml http://banderasnews.com/0705/edop-demsretreat.htm http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=24902 http://www.unknownnews.net/casualties.html

Fired Professor Ward Churchill to Sue University of Colorado

Ward Churchill will file a lawsuit against the University of Colorado Wednesday. He is challenging his dismissal as a professor from the institution.

University of Colorado regents voted 8-1 Tuesday to accept school president Hank Brown's recommendation to fire him. CU Regent Cindy Carlisle had the lone dissenting vote.

Ward Churchill and his attorney, David Lane, plan to file suit in Denver District Court. Churchill is the first tenured professor that the school has ever fired for scholarly fraud.

Lane plans to amend Churchill’s existing lawsuit against the school. It will now seek Churchill’s reinstatement, a financial settlement, and demand that the university pay the attorney’s fees.

Churchill is filing in Denver instead of Boulder because he says they'll get a more diverse jury in Denver, and a speedier trial than if they filed in Boulder.

Churchill was dismissed because an investigation found that he misrepresented the effects of federal laws on American Indians, that he wrongly claimed evidence indicated Capt. John Smith exposed Indians to smallpox in the 1600s, and claimed the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own. After the board of regents' vote, Brown addressed the media saying the university had no choice but to terminate Churchill’s employment after allegations of plagiarism and academic misconduct were deemed valid. COMMENT ON THE FIRING OF CHURCHILL "This case is a very clear example of an effort to falsify history and fabricate history," Brown said “The individual involved did not express regret or apologize…or refrain from this kind of falsification in the future." The announcement of the board of regents' 8-1 vote to fire Churchill came at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was greeted with loud boos and shouting from a gathering of Churchill's supporters. The fired professor called the decision a fraud. His attorney said the lawsuit they are filing is based on the First Amendment. It alleges the university is punishing the former professor for controversial speech. The investigation of Churchill began after a 2001 essay surfaced in which Churchill compared workers in New York City's World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazi architect Adolf Eichmann. CU said the action against Churchill was not related to that paper, because it was covered under the rights of free speech. But it did touch off a 15-month long investigation into some of Churchill's other work. The investigation started in 2005, and ended with the findings of plagiarism and academic misconduct.. A five-member faculty panel voted 3-2 to punish, but not fire, Churchill. In May, however, CU president Hank Brown recommended that Churchill be fired. Governor Bill Ritter and former Governor Bill Owens both supported Churchill's termination.

Congressman John Conyers Betrays the American People

by Medea Benjamin; CommonDreams.org; July 25, 2007

I remember before the 2006 election being at a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Democratic Party when one of the featured guests was Rep. John Conyers. The issue of impeachment came up and the crowed roared in approval when Conyers said that if the Democrats took control of Congress, he would become head of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and would initiate impeachment proceedings. That, he said, was one of the reasons why it was so important to go all out to get Democrats elected.

Fast forward to July 23, 2007. About 300 of us gathered at Arlington Cemetery, convened by peace mom Cindy Sheehan, to march to Cong. Conyers office to demand that seven months after coming to power, he fulfill his promise about initiating impeachment proceedings. Shouting “Conyers, Conyers need a reason? Torture, lies, war and treason,” the angry crowd packed the halls outside the Congressman’s office while Cindy, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and former Conyers’ protégé Reverend Yearwood met with the Congressman inside.

A hour later, they emerged stone-faced and disillusioned. Cindy said that Conyers had told them that “impeachment isn’t going to happen because we don’t have the votes” and that “our only recourse was to work to get a Democrat in the White House.” The crowd booed and 45 people sat down inside and outside Conyers’ office. They were arrested by the Capitol Police as the supporters shouted “Shame on Conyers” and “Arrest Bush and Cheney, not the peacemakers.”

While the arrestees were being booked, about 40 activists visited the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We know that from the day she became Speaker, the Congresswoman has insisted that impeachment was off the table. She has refused to support H. R. 333, the bill introduced by Cong. Dennis Kucinich to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. With 13 co-sponsors, the resolution is destined to languish without ever coming to a vote, thanks to both Conyers and Pelosi.

We told Pelosi’s chief of staff, Terry McCullough, that it was totally irresponsible for the Speaker to say that impeachment was off the table. When her chief-of-staff replied that the Speaker’s priority was ending the war, not impeachment, we all insisted that the two were intertwined and certainly not mutually exclusive. We also reminded her that the people of Pelosi’s district were overwhelmingly in favor of impeachment, and that they would start looking to newly announced candidate Cindy Sheehan for representation.

The arrest of impeachment activists and their forcible eviction from Conyers’ office today is proof of the bankruptcy of the two-party system. It is shameful that Conyers and Pelosi are putting their perceived interests of their party above the Constitution, which clearly makes impeachment the remedy for dealing with presidential “high crimes and misdemeanors”. With the Democratic leadership refusing to rein in an administration run amok, it is crystal clear that we, the people, must uphold the Constitution. People’s power, like the kind in evidence today in the normally solemn halls of Congress, is our only hope.

Medea Benjamin (medea@globalexchange.org) is cofounder of Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org) and CODEPINK: Women for Peace (www.codepinkalert.org). * More http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_sw_070724_the_conyers_legacy.htm

It's Up to Us, by Cindy Sheehan

Journey for Humanity and Accountability Day 14

by Cindy Sheehan; July 25, 2007

I am lying in my hotel bed at the end of a very busy, productive, yet sad day.

About 300 people gathered today and marched the 3½ miles from the entrance of Arlington Cemetery to Congressman John Conyers' office to demand impeachment and accountability from one of the leading figures in American politics for the last four decades.

We were so thrilled with the turn-out and the energy of the group. There was great media coverage and about one dozen freepers on the opposite corner with signs like: "Traitors go to Hell" and "Cindy Sheehan go to Hell." Nice. I have learned that hell can be on earth and if there is anything worse than burying a child, I don't want to know about it.

At the end of the march, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of the Hip Hop Caucus, Ray McGovern (retired CIA analyst) and I met with Congressman John Conyers to implore him to institute impeachment proceedings against the pretenders to the White House who are destroying our democracy, making a mockery out of our rule of law and who are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

This was my third meeting with Congressman Conyers about impeachment. I hold a special place in my heart for him and I revere him for his decades long service to this nation but for the life of me, I cannot understand why he will not go forward with impeachment now.

A year ago he introduced HR635 to impeach George Bush while he was Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and not even chairman. He wrote the book on impeachment called: The Constitution in Crisis and he readily admits that BushCo have committed impeachable offenses.

It's about partisan politics, pure and simple. The Congressman claims that there is absolutely no way that impeachment can go forward and when I was nearing the end of my hope I cried out: "So, if the people's house won't help us then we the people have no recourse against the executive branch." To which he replied: "Yes you do, vote the enablers out in '08." Firstly, Congressman Conyers told us to put Democrats back in Congress to end the war and impeach BushCo. We did that and instead of ending the war, they gave George Bush more money to wage it and to conduct his deadly and tragic surge. Secondly, '08 will be too late to hold George and Dick accountable. Thirdly, thousands of more people will die in these last months of the worst Presidency in American history and lastly: after Dick proclaimed that he was not part of the executive branch and that his office does not have to comply with requests to turn over documents to the National Archives: 435 Congress Reps should have signed onto H Res 333 to impeach Cheney. Only fourteen have co-signed Congressman Kucinich's bill, so that makes 421 elected Congressional officials enablers of the crimes of the Bush Regime.

At the end of this day, Speaker Pelosi has not supported impeachment and has not upheld her oath of office to "protect and defend" the Constitution. Like Congressman Conyers said almost a year ago, our Constitution is in Crisis and we can't wait for more meetings and more stalling from Reps who think the problem will go away in '08. The Middle East is rapidly falling apart under this regime and our country is sliding rapidly into a state of one-branch tyranny while our "heroes" the Democrats fiddle.

It was with very heavy hearts that Rev. Yearwood, Ray, and I reported back to the media that the Congressman had said that with over one million signatures on petitions and with one phone call coming into his office every 30 seconds supporting impeachment and with 300 activists in the hall to support him, he was still not going to move forward with the most urgent duty of his career. The Rev and I were particularly disheartened and broken because we do love the Congressman so much, but we love our country and the people of Iraq and the Middle East more. The Rev and Ray spent many years serving their country in the military and the CIA and I had a son who gave his life to do what the Congress is supposed to do: protect our freedoms, not hand them over to the mob that runs our country.

It is also with a heavy heart that I announce my candidacy against Nancy Pelosi in California's 8th. If anybody would dare think that I am not serious, I would hope that they would look back at the last three years of my life and everything that I have sacrificed to restore our nation to one that obeys the rule of law and can be looked up to with respect once again in the international community and not as the hated laughingstock on the block.

I am committed to challenging a two party system that has kept us in a state of constant warfare for the last 60 years and has become more and more beholden to special interests and has forgotten the faces of the people whom it represents.

I am committed to using our strength as a country to wage peace and to elevate the status of every citizen in our country by converting the enduring war economy to a prosperous one with lasting peace.

Someone needs to step up to the plate to do this and I challenge other Americans to do the same. Challenge the status quo, because the status quo is no good. We need to become plugged into our government once again as active participants not just passive voters.

It is up to us.

Special Edition: Words of Power Interviews John Perkins -- Ask Yourself Four Essential Questions

From: http://words-of-power.blogspot.com

Secret History of the American Empire

"I consider myself a true and loyal American. This too contributed to my rage. My ancestors fought in the Revolution and most other US wars. My family was predominanntly conservative Republican. Having cut my literary eye-teeth on Paine and Jefferson, I thought a convervative was someone who believed in the founding ideals of our country, justice and equality for all; I was angered by the betrayal of these ideals in Vietnam and by the oil company-Washington collusion that I was destroying the Amazon and enslaving its people." John Perkins, Secret History of the American Empire

Special Edition: Words of Power Interviews John Perkins -- Ask Yourself Four Essential Questions

By Richard Power

Bush and Cheney, as offensive as they are to many of us -- left, right and center -- did not emerge suddenly, as if from nowhere. They did not amass such power, with so much impunity and hubris, over night. Bush and Cheney, and the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party are the end result of granting corporations the rights of human individuals and declaring that money is free speech. These two delusional notions have led us into a hell realm here in the USA. And getting out of it demands real change inside of ourselves especially, as well as in how we grow our culture, and the way we do business.

Just as you cannot understand the political reality in the USA, without understanding the corporate reality, you cannot change the political reality in the USA, without changing the corporate reality.

That's why it is so vital that John Perkins' voice be heard.

Two years ago, after over a decade of briefing executives, and leading security training in over thirty countries, I found myself living off the grid and becoming active as a citizen journalist. The choice was sudden, stark and rooted in spiritual, political and psychological imperatives. Life was too short. I was finished talking to people who didn't want to deal with the implications of Rita and Katrina six months before they hit, or bird flu in Indonesia six months before it broke out, or terror attacks in Mumbai, Istanbul and Madrid six months before the carnage. My eyes were open, and I could not tolerate those who allowed their fixation on the bottom line to blind them to the reality that the bottom line was being erased. Climate change, religious extremism, corporatism, over population, peak oil and other factors were contributing to a 21st Century Crisis of Security, Sustainability and Spirit. I had to be part of the solution instead of pretending I wasn't part of the problem.

A wise friend of mine in Beltwayistan kept saying, "You have to read Economic Hit Man." When I finally did, it answered that disturbing question, "what is wrong with this picture?" It confirmed my suspicions and corroborated my own experience.

John Perkins, author of Economic Hit Man, has come out with an important follow-up, Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals and the Truth about Global Corruption (Buy it at Buzzflash!) In it, he tells the stories of other men and women, who worked as economic hit men and jackals in the drive to empire. And it does, as David C. Korten remarks, evoke Graham Greene.

But even though Perkins' illuminates the dark despair that our corporate culture is in deep denial about, he also highlights great hope, as in this extraordinary passage:

"The last two people in line were four men: two wore business suits and ties and two, who were much younger, were dressed in blue jeans and polo shirts. The older men handed me their World Bank business cards. One of the younger men spoke up. "Our fathers gave us permission to tell you this," he said. "We've watched them go off to work every morning at the Bank dressed ..." -- he pointed at them -- "like this. But when protesters congregate here in Washington to demonstrate against the Bank, our fathers join them. We watch them go incognito, wearing old clothes, baseball caps, and sunglasses to support those people because they believe they are -- and you are -- right."
Both of the older men shook my hand vigorously. "We need more whistle-blowers like you," one of them said.

Yes, there is hope, and there is still time, even now.

In Secret History of the American Empire, Perkins asks four essential questions:

Are we in a position where we can actually hope to effect change?

Are we certain that we want change?

Is there a unifying principle that will validate our efforts?

What can we each do?

Here is a Words of Power interview with John Perkins:

Words of Power: The first question comes out of my own experience not too dissimilar from yours. Professionally, I spent the 1990s working in high profile position, I had lots of media exposure, I testified before the US Senate, I was working with the FBI and other government agencies on important security issues related to cyber crime and economic espionage. Politically, I spent the 1990s as a Clintonista --- NAFTA? Fix it later. GATT? Fix it later. Telecommunications Act? Fix it later (and Gore might have) -- just thwart Gingrich and Starr at all costs. Then 2000 came, and there was no chance to fix it later. Indeed, we were being dragged off into an alternative timeline in some nightmare parallel universe. I fled my role which would have put me too close to the new administration, and went to work in the corridors of corporate power. Soon, I realize I was working for the kind of men (yes, mostly men) who were fueling the machine that had taken over our government (both sides of the aisles). Still, I tried to do my job. I briefed people on climate change, and how flawed the so-called "war on terrorism" really was, and how much trouble would come for us all if Iraq was invaded and the Middle East was destabilized. The political commissars don't like that sort of talk. My position became uncomfortable. I chose to leave and write and speak out on my own. Consequently, my income decreased by several digits -- but I can sleep at night. My question is what is your advice to others who like yourself, or me more recently, find themselves waking up inside the corportocracy, and now see the world clearly, and have no inclination to deny what they see? Should they walk away? Should they stay in and fight? What is your advice? What is your warning? What is your counsel?

John Perkins: A long list of things we all can do is included in "Secret History." Don't buy sweatshop-made goods, conserve energy, support organizations that are fighting to create better social, environmental, and economic conditions, etc. . .Most importantly we must each follow our individual passions and use our talents to create a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world. My passion is writing and hopefully I have some talent for doing that. Whatever your background and experience, you have passion and skills. You and I can take different paths -- but we should work together to reach this common objective: a sustainable, stable, peaceful world for us and future generations.

Words of Power: One of the main issues I have written about over the last seven years has been the depraved state of the US mainstream news media, its failures to perform its vital role of truth-telling about war, corruption, hypocrisy, militarism, corporatism in Beltwayistan (that's what I call DC). We know this complicity is the result of monopolization and the corporatist stranglehold on news departments. The lack of truth-telling is not a conspiracy, it is achieved by simply by the imposition of corporate culture and budget-cutting. I am curious to hear your thoughts on the role of US mainstream news media, in general, and on how they have dealt with. or ignored your story, in particular? Is your new book getting the attention it deserves? I doubt it.

John Perkins: I have been largely ignored by the mainstream press. Most of the media is either owned outright by big corporations or supported through their ads. They don't want their readers and listeners to hear my message. However, despite this, "Confessions" is in its 63rd week on the New York Times bestseller list (#22 this week) and "Secret History" hit the list after its 5th day in publication. People want to learn the truth and they want to understand the opportunities for creating a better world. The "alternative" media and the Internet are very powerful.

Words of Power: Both of our lives have been touched by the way of the shaman, and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. No one who has gone to Uluru or Machu Picchu or Uxmal with an open heart can remain the same. No one who has slept in a rainforest or eaten off a leaf in a shack can remain the same. No one who has heard the rattle or smelled the sage can remain the same. Tell us what indigenous cultures offer the industrial and post-industrial societies? And is there a way to integrate that wisdom without losing the technological progress, and yes, some social and scientific progress? Can we have the best of both worlds? Or are we so lost we are going to have to choose?

John Perkins: It would take a book or two to really address this issue. Let me just say that, for me, indigenous cultures have shown that when people are motivated to change, we can make it happen very quickly. Today, the world we know is threatened. Any good shaman recognizes that he or she can and must turn this around. "Secret History" is devoted to shapeshifting us out of a self-destructive empire and into a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world. We have all the resources we need to make this happen.

Words of Power: Once the veils have been ripped away from one's eyes, it is difficult to know what to trust and what to turn away from. What are your thoughts on the IMF and the World Bank? Are these institutions redeemable? Are they functioning for the good at least in part? What do you feel about Bill Clinton's Global Initiative? Or the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, e.g., the funding of Kofi Anna's Green Revolution project in Africa? What would you like to say about the UN Millennium Development Goals? Is it a worthy focus for people wanting to make a difference in the world? I guess the general question is what global institutions if any are working or are redeemable and can be worked through? Where, how do we begin to turn this all around?

John Perkins: Thousands of good people work for these institutions. None of the ones I know personally -- and none of the CEOs I have met -- want global warming, to see Florida covered by the ocean, or witness the destruction of the world's forests. But all these people operate under the assumption that the bottom line rules: windfall profits for stockholders. We must convince ourselve and them that there is a more important goal and that our very survival as a species in a world we recognize depends upon achieving that goal of a sustainable, stable, and peaceful world.

Words of Power: What is the most important message you want people to take away from this book? What are the key points you want to impress on your readers? What is the truth you are telling and what do you encourage people to do?

John Perkins: We should take great hope from the ways we've turned corporations and governments around in the recent past -- as itemized in "Secret History." Now we must take that to new levels. Rather than focusing on specifics, such as cleaning up rivers, getting trans-fats out of fast-foods, and installing air bags in our cars, we must persuade our leaders to set a single overriding goal of creating a world our grandchildren will be proud to inherit.

Josh Wolf For Mayor of San Francisco

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

University of Colorado Set To Fire Ward Churchill

by Ira Chernus; CommonDreams.org ; July 24, 2007

On Tuesday, July 24, the University of Colorado Board of Regents will decide whether to accept the recommendation of CU President (and former Republican senator) Hank Brown, and fire CU Professor Ward Churchill. It's not likely that Brown, one of the shrewdest (and most conservative) politicians Colorado has produced, would recommend the firing unless he was already sure the Regents would back him up. So it's a very good bet that the Regents will indeed give Churchill the axe. The only thing that might change their minds is an outpouring of public opinion supporting a professor's right to voice unpopular views.

The Regents' decision is not merely a local affair. It has enormous impact on the whole country. That gives you the right -- and the responsibility -- to let them know what you think. The chair of the University of Colorado Board of Regents is Patricia Hayes. You can write to her at: Patricia.Hayes@cu.edu.

Why should you bother? It's still a rare occasion when a tenured professor is fired because he is an outspoken leftist. But every time a witchhunt is successful, it encourages other right-wingers to go after their favorite target. It brings the next witchhunt closer and increases the odds that it will succeed.

I'm an outspoken leftie professor at the University of Colorado too, so I've got a personal stake in this. Someone once asked me to wear a big button that said, "I am Ward Churchill." I said I'd prefer a button reading, "I am Next." But you never know who will be next. There is nothing very special about Colorado. It can happen anywhere. The witchhunters may be coming to a campus near you. That's one reason the fate of Ward Churchill matters to you.

The visible fallout from the Churchill case -- the future attacks on leftist academics -- is only the tip of the iceberg. The bigger effect is one we'll never see or hear: the silence of all those, on and off campuses, who start censoring themselves, not speaking their minds completely and directly, avoiding controversial topics in their teaching and research, because they see which way the political wind blows.

Right after the 9/11 attack, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that people had better "watch what they say." That's the same message the CU Regents will send across the country by firing Churchill. The impact of this chilling effect is invisible and incalculable, but it is very real. And it will directly affect your freedom to hear the diversity of opinions, including the most radical opinions, that our ailing democracy needs so badly. That's another reason the fate of Ward Churchill matters to you, no matter where you live.

Of course the chilling wind would blow coldest across our college campuses. The quality of education in this country would take a blow. The efforts we profs make to engage students in critical thinking would be compromised as faculty avoid potentially damaging conflicts. The long-term trend toward turning colleges into vocational job training centers would get a boost. So would the powerful forces promoting what they call "politically neutral" indoctrination in Western culture and values.

Do we want our universities to graduate incurious and obedient functionaries rather than creative and bold leaders?

You may hesitate to weigh in on the case of the right wingers vs. Ward Churchill because you don't know the facts. After all, the faculty's Research Misconduct Committee produced a voluminous report detailing his supposed misconduct. It's the basis for firing Churchill.

Was the committee fair and accurate in its assessment? To be honest, I don't know. How could I? I'm not an expert in Native American Studies. I don't have the knowledge or experience to make an informed judgment. But neither did the committee, nor anyone else in the University bureaucracy who has brought Churchill to the academic gallows. There were two experts in Native American Studies on the committee for a while, but they quit (some say they were hounded off) because they were trying to give the matter a fair hearing, and it seemed to them that was not what the committee had in mind.

So a professor is about to be axed for research misconduct even though no one with any expertise in his field has substantiated the charges. In fact a number of experts in Native American Studies who examined the committee's report found that it had numerous flaws and seemed to reflect the selective use of evidence to advance a predetermined objective. They found no evidence of gross errors, which is what "research misconduct" means, in Churchill's work.

To be sure, Churchill has his critics in his academic field. So do I. That's what academia is all about. But as Eric Cheyfitz of Cornell University, who closely studied the committee's report, wrote, it "turns what is a debate about controversial issues of identity and genocide in Indian studies into an indictment of one position in that debate." If you start firing professors because some of their colleagues don't like their research, most all of us would have to go. And if you take apart the work of a productive scholar, looking for every little flaw you can find (a misplaced citation here, a small misquote there), most all of us would have to go. But that's not research misconduct.

Churchill's scholarship as well as his politics has always been controversial. Critics charged for many years that he wasn't adhering strictly to all the academic rules. But CU officials ignored those charges for most of those years. (In fact they granted him tenure even though he did not have a Ph.D and his work was somewhat unconventional, because they wanted a star to show their commitment to diversity. Now they are using the same unconventionality to hound Churchill out -- and raise grave questions about their concern for diversity.)

CU officials only became concerned about the quality of Churchill's work after right-wingers discovered his now-famous essay that called corporate functionaries working in the World Trade Center on 9/11 "little Eichmanns." That triggered an avalanche of conservative pressure on CU to fire Churchill. Of course the University administrators could not come out and say they were investigating him for unpopular political opinions in the post-9/11 era. So they got the Research Misconduct Committee to go through his writings with a fine-tooth comb. Lo and behold, they found the "evidence" they were looking for.

There's a lot more to the case. Charges of plagiarism rest on weak evidence and strained interpretations that don't withstand serious scrutiny. The University administrators broke their own system's rules in a number of ways. Most importantly, they let a massive campaign by outsiders -- conservatives from across the country -- influence what should be strictly an internal decision-making process.

It looks like President Hank Brown is catering to those outsiders. He has rejected his own faculty advisory committee's recommendation to discipline and suspend Churchill, opting instead to go for out-and-out firing.

The irony is that once the Regents do give Churchill the axe, he will go to court and argue that his contractual rights were violated. Both sides will trot out their experts. In the end, some judges who know nothing at all about Native American Studies will have to decide whether there is compelling evidence of research misconduct here. Since the whole case of the right wingers vs. Churchill rests on political animus, the outcome will probably depend on how conservative those judges are. If it ever reaches Supreme Court, we can unfortunately pretty well predict how it will go.

The last chance to stop that slide down the slippery legal slope is to convince the Regents that it's not in their best interests to fire Churchill. They need to know that the whole world is watching. They need to hear from you. Again, the chair of the Board of Regents is Patricia Hayes. You can write to her at: Patricia.Hayes@cu.edu. If you want email addresses for the other Regents, go to https://www.cu.edu/regents/RgntsPUB0101.html.

Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Monsters To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin. Email: chernus@colorado.edu

SF Politics in the 21st century

From: http://catcubed.com/

Newsom vs Chicken in the Matrix

Chicken John, SF Mayoral Candidate, has started a blog: Chicken John Rinaldi For Mayor of San Francisco, which includes an instructional video to help collect signatures. He needs to collect 10,000 signatures by Wednesday, July 25th to get on the ballot — go help him out!

Chicken’s joined facebook too on the advice of Scott Beale of LaughingSquid. Chicken’s also on that den of iniquity and bad design myspace and tribe. Next thing we know he’ll be on Twitter, Flickr, Pownce, Digg, Delicious, and of course YouTube — well actually Chicken is already on YouTube with a video of him eating a lightbulb.

So let’s tally up the scores of who’s the more 21st Century political candidate…

Google Name Recognition

Web 2.0 Social Aptitude

  • Chicken John - 1 facebook profile, 1 myspace profile, 1 tribe profile
  • Gavin Newsom - 3 facebook profiles, 3 myspace profiles, and one Gavin Newsom Sucks myspace profile. {While Gavin wins by sheer number of profiles I have a strange feeling they aren’t really him, so I had to give this one to Chicken}

Blog-o-sphere Cred

  • Chicken John - 1 fresh off the presses mayoral blog written by the man himself (when he doesn’t have the cold that is); hosted at Wordpress.com but with his own domain which adds a couple more cred points
  • Gavin Newsom - 1 boring PR spewing pseudo-blog written by the mayoral toadies in Newsom’s name; hosted as a subdomain on Typepad. And 1 other boring PR spewing pseudo-blog with an unknown CMS with a lousy old HTML 4.01 Transitional doctype.

YouTube Stardom

From a mayoral gravitas perspective, I don’t think either candidate wins in this department.

So there you have it! Chicken John is the better 21st century political candidate! Gavin is more searchable by far, but Chicken’s web presence is more personal and web 2.0 connected — quantity vs quality.

Unfortunately, for elections it’s quantity that wins. No matter though it’s always worth it to add that little something else to spice up the pot, so go help Chicken John by signing to get him on the ballot!

Monday, July 23, 2007

~Rebellion~ It's what's for dinner....

Riot vs police incredible clashes - Watch more free videos Riot vs police part2 g8 Rostock edition - Watch more free videos

Transcendence, Hope, & Ecstasy

[Thanks to Nicky Rose for the post] Fear of Failing Submitted by Nicky Rose on Sun, 07/22/2007 - 2:05pm. A historical look at political passion and fun by Barbara Ehrenreich Perhaps the best kept political secret of our time is that politics, as a democratic undertaking, can be not only “fun,” in the entertaining sense, but profoundly uplifting, even ecstatic. My generation had a glimpse of this in May 1968 and at other points in that decade, when strangers embraced in the streets and the impossible briefly seemed within reach. Insurgencies again and again engender such moments of transcendence and hope. People danced in the streets of Havana when Batista fled in 1959; 30 years later, they danced on the Berlin wall when East Germany succumbed to the democracy movement. There was revelry in Republican Spain in the 1930s, and “drunken anarchy” in St. Petersburg in 1917. In moments such as these, politics overflows the constraints of parties, committees, elections, and legislation and becomes a kind of festival. Today, no one imagines that the political process might be a source of transcendent passion. Throughout the world, voter participation is declining, even in those places, like the former Communist countries, where multi-party elections should still be expected to possess the charm of novelty. Nothing underscores the emotional desiccation of the democratic process more than the American political conventions, which reached such a depth of tedium in 1996 that the television networks threatened not to return in 2000. On the rare occasions when we encounter it today, political passion is likely to seem exotic, anachronistic—a remnant of some heroic past. A writer for Harper’s, for example, attended a concert in Madrid last year commemorating the Lincoln Brigade, and reported: “... the place is on fire. The passion is palpable, a heavy intoxicating aroma you practically taste as you inhale... When Labordeta... starts into his ‘Cancion de la Libertad’ (‘Song of Freedom’), they [the audience] go nuts. They sing along, bouncing the roof of the stadium on its struts...Thousands of young fists pump the air. Everywhere people are weeping... I’m having trouble not weeping myself, though for what I’m not sure—perhaps because political passion like this seems irretrievably lost in my life.” We don’t have much of a vocabulary for this sort of experience, certainly not in English anyway. There are rich and nuanced ways of talking about the love between two people, ranging from simple sexual attraction to ecstatic communion and undying mutual commitment, but there are few words to describe the love, if it is that, that can unite thousands of people at a time. “Community” is the word we are most likely to reach for, but in the mouths of politically centrist “communitarians” (of whom Hillary Clinton is the best-known representative) it has become another code for the kind of moral conformity that conservative leaders are always promising to impose. Besides, great moments of political euphoria are not celebrations of pre-existing communities, but the creation of community out of masses of people who are, for the most, part, formerly unknown to each other. In the revolutionary crowd, old hierarchies and hostilities dissolve. Black and white marched together in the American movements of the 1960s; Catholics and Huguenots embraced in the French Revolution. United by a common goal and emboldened by the strength of numbers, we “fall in love” with total strangers. »

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hernani Guimarães Andrade

Portrait of Hernani Guimarães Andrade.

BORN IN 1913, Hernani Guimarães Andrade graduated in civil engineering from the University of São Paulo in 1941, spending the rest of his working life with various public and private companies, including Brazil's National Steel Company and the Water and Electricity Department of the state of São Paulo, where he became technical director of its electricity and telephone division. After his retirement he moved to Bauru, in the interior of the same state, where he died in April 2003, a few weeks short of his ninetieth birthday. A chance remark at a social gathering in 1930 set him on his parallel career as the pioneer of scientific parapsychology in Brazil. Asked for his views on the question of life after death, he replied that he regarded life as an essence independent of the physical body, and that after bodily death this essence went away to reappear in another living being. Hearing this, a family friend thrust a copy of Allan Kardec's What is Spiritism? into his hand and told him to read it, which he promptly did, finding that, as he later told me, "I had been a Spiritist all along without knowing it." He was a cautious one, however. At one of the first séances he attended, he worked out how all the various phenomena demonstrated could have been produced by normal means, repeating the supposed medium's performance in every detail. Even so, he decided that the phenomena associated with Spiritism were worth serious study, and in 1961 he and a group of like-minded friends founded the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP) with the objective: "The study of paranormal facts and systematic research into the laws, properties and potential of the spirit by scientific methods". In his first book, A Teoria Corpuscular do Espirito (The Corpuscular Theory of the Spirit, 1958), he upset some of his fellow Kardecists by telling them that "The ridiculous strategy of the ostrich is to be avoided at all costs. There should be no hiding the head under the sand of blind mysticism and senseless dogmatism." He also reminded them that Kardec had insisted that Spiritism had to be scientific as well as philosophical and religious if it was to survive. Although the IBPP was always a small group, Hernani and his colleagues amassed a remarkable amount of first-hand evidence for a wide variety of psi phenomena, notably his two special interests, poltergeists (32 cases) and reincarnation (75 cases). Field work always came first. At the age of eighty Hernani drove several hundred miles to investigate an unusually persuasive case of claimed reincarnation on which he published a full-length book, Renasceu Por Amor (Reborn to Love, 1994). He also found time to write fifteen other books, the last of which was published a few months before his death. These include the first Brazilian parapsychology textbook, Parapsicologia Experimental (1967), several original case histories, and a number of theoretical works in which he put forward his detailed theory of the 'biological organising model' behind all forms of life, and the connections between matter and spirit by means of an organising psi field and what Kardec called the 'perispirit' body. More detailed accounts of Hernani's research and writings can be found in my books, The Flying Cow (1975) and The Indefinite Boundary (1976), and in three IBPP monographs that were translated into English: The Ruytemberg Rocha Case (1973), a detailed verification of an unusually convincing drop-in case; Psi Matter (1976), a summary of the theoretical work mentioned above, and A Case Suggestive of Reincarnation: Jacira & Ronaldo (1980), one of the best cases of its kind in the IBPP files, all of which were meticulously compiled by IBPP archivist (and active field researcher) Suzuko Hashizume. Hernani was a man of infinite kindness: but for his encouragement and infectious enthusiasm I might never have become involved in psi research at all. The time I spent with him and his colleagues from 1973 to 1975 amounted to a prolonged private tutorial with an incomparable teacher and friend. This continued through correspondence until shortly before his death.

Source: Guy Lyon Playfair, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, October 2003, Vol. 67.4, No. 873. Published on this website with the author's and Editor's permission.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"This could be the undoing of Roe v Wade" - PBS, NOW July 20, 2007

About the Show

Video: Post-Abortion Politics Video icon Video: Post-Abortion Politics
Does abortion cause long-term emotional and psychological problems for women? (NO!) This week NOW introduces viewers to a new front in the effort to end abortions in the United States: claims of extreme negative effects on a woman's mental health. Once focusing primarily on the unborn child, anti-abortion advocates see new hope in an argument that focuses on the women who've made or are about to make a fateful decision. All sides of the debate have been listening and weighing in, including the Supreme Court. More from NOW Program Resources: » Video » Audio [mp3, 48kbps]: Stream, Download, Podcast » Print » Feedback .... P.S. RESEARCH PROVES THEM WRONG.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

WELL PAST time for the STUPID people to wake the fuck up...war doesn't work..(unless you're trying get more money)

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness


[from the July 30, 2007 issue]

In Their Own Words: Camilo Mejía (above) of Miami, and three others share their impressions of the interactions between US military forces and Iraqi noncombatants in this slide show. They were among the fifty combat veterans interviewed for this article.

Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.

Court cases, such as the ones surrounding the massacre in Haditha and the rape and murder of a 14-year-old in Mahmudiya, and news stories in the Washington Post, Time, the London Independent and elsewhere based on Iraqi accounts have begun to hint at the wide extent of the attacks on civilians. Human rights groups have issued reports, such as Human Rights Watch's Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Deaths in Baghdad Caused by U.S. Forces, packed with detailed incidents that suggest that the killing of Iraqi civilians by occupation forces is more common than has been acknowledged by military authorities.

This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.

While some veterans said civilian shootings were routinely investigated by the military, many more said such inquiries were rare. "I mean, you physically could not do an investigation every time a civilian was wounded or killed because it just happens a lot and you'd spend all your time doing that," said Marine Reserve Lieut. Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia. He served from August 2004 to March 2005 in Ramadi with a Marine Corps civil affairs unit supporting a combat team with the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade. (All interviewees are identified by the rank they held during the period of service they recount here; some have since been promoted or demoted.)

Veterans said the culture of this counterinsurgency war, in which most Iraqi civilians were assumed to be hostile, made it difficult for soldiers to sympathize with their victims--at least until they returned home and had a chance to reflect.

"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004. "You know, so what?... The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we're trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us."

He said it was only "when they get home, in dealing with veteran issues and meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then."

The Iraq War is a vast and complicated enterprise. In this investigation of alleged military misconduct, The Nation focused on a few key elements of the occupation, asking veterans to explain in detail their experiences operating patrols and supply convoys, setting up checkpoints, conducting raids and arresting suspects. From these collected snapshots a common theme emerged. Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.

Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

"I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg.... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like--I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?... I was just like, This is--this is it. This is ridiculous."

Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant."

These attitudes reflect the limited contact occupation troops said they had with Iraqis. They rarely saw their enemy. They lived bottled up in heavily fortified compounds that often came under mortar attack. They only ventured outside their compounds ready for combat. The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effect of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis.

Veterans described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses.

In June 2003 Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía's unit was pressed by a furious crowd in Ramadi. Sergeant Mejía, 31, a National Guardsman from Miami, served for six months beginning in April 2003 with the 1-124 Infantry Battalion, Fifty-Third Infantry Brigade. His squad opened fire on an Iraqi youth holding a grenade, riddling his body with bullets. Sergeant Mejía checked his clip afterward and calculated that he had personally fired eleven rounds into the young man.

"The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them," Sergeant Mejía said.

We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs, that some soldiers had so lost their moral compass that they'd mocked or desecrated Iraqi corpses. One photo, among dozens turned over to The Nation during the investigation, shows an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon.

"Take a picture of me and this motherfucker," a soldier who had been in Sergeant Mejía's squad said as he put his arm around the corpse. Sergeant Mejía recalls that the shroud covering the body fell away, revealing that the young man was wearing only his pants. There was a bullet hole in his chest.

"Damn, they really fucked you up, didn't they?" the soldier laughed.

The scene, Sergeant Mejía said, was witnessed by the dead man's brothers and cousins.

In the sections that follow, snipers, medics, military police, artillerymen, officers and others recount their experiences serving in places as diverse as Mosul in the north, Samarra in the Sunni Triangle, Nasiriya in the south and Baghdad in the center, during 2003, 2004 and 2005. Their stories capture the impact of their units on Iraqi civilians.

A Note on Methodology

The Nation interviewed fifty combat veterans, including forty soldiers, eight marines and two sailors, over a period of seven months beginning in July 2006. To find veterans willing to speak on the record about their experiences in Iraq, we sent queries to organizations dedicated to US troops and their families, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the antiwar groups Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and the prowar group Vets for Freedom. The leaders of IVAW and Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, were especially helpful in putting us in touch with Iraq War veterans. Finally, we found veterans through word of mouth, as many of those we interviewed referred us to their military friends.

To verify their military service, when possible we obtained a copy of each interviewee's DD Form 214, or the Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, and in all cases confirmed their service with the branch of the military in which they were enlisted. Nineteen interviews were conducted in person, while the rest were done over the phone; all were tape-recorded and transcribed; all but five interviewees (most of those currently on active duty) were independently contacted by fact checkers to confirm basic facts about their service in Iraq. Of those interviewed, fourteen served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, twenty from 2004 to 2005 and two from 2005 to 2006. Of the eleven veterans whose tours lasted less than one year, nine served in 2003, while the others served in 2004 and 2005.

The ranks of the veterans we interviewed ranged from private to captain, though only a handful were officers. The veterans served throughout Iraq, but mostly in the country's most volatile areas, such as Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosul, Falluja and Samarra.

During the course of the interview process, five veterans turned over photographs from Iraq, some of them graphic, to corroborate their claims.


"So we get started on this day, this one in particular," recalled Spc. Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, who said he raided between twenty and thirty Iraqi homes during an eleven-month tour in Kirkuk and Hawija that ended in October 2005, serving with the Third Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade. "It starts with the psy-ops vehicles out there, you know, with the big speakers playing a message in Arabic or Farsi or Kurdish or whatever they happen to be, saying, basically, saying, Put your weapons, if you have them, next to the front door in your house. Please come outside, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we had Apaches flying over for security, if they're needed, and it's also a good show of force. And we're running around, and they--we'd done a few houses by this point, and I was with my platoon leader, my squad leader and maybe a couple other people.

"And we were approaching this one house," he said. "In this farming area, they're, like, built up into little courtyards. So they have, like, the main house, common area. They have, like, a kitchen and then they have a storage shed-type deal. And we're approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, 'cause it's doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn't--motherfucker--he shot it and it went in the jaw and exited out. So I see this dog--I'm a huge animal lover; I love animals--and this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, What the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I'm at a loss for words. And so, I yell at him. I'm, like, What the fuck are you doing? And so the dog's yelping. It's crying out without a jaw. And I'm looking at the family, and they're just, you know, dead scared. And so I told them, I was like, Fucking shoot it, you know? At least kill it, because that can't be fixed....

"And--I actually get tears from just saying this right now, but--and I had tears then, too--and I'm looking at the kids and they are so scared. So I got the interpreter over with me and, you know, I get my wallet out and I gave them twenty bucks, because that's what I had. And, you know, I had him give it to them and told them that I'm so sorry that asshole did that.

"Was a report ever filed about it?" he asked. "Was anything ever done? Any punishment ever dished out? No, absolutely not."

Specialist Chrystal said such incidents were "very common."

According to interviews with twenty-four veterans who participated in such raids, they are a relentless reality for Iraqis under occupation. The American forces, stymied by poor intelligence, invade neighborhoods where insurgents operate, bursting into homes in the hope of surprising fighters or finding weapons. But such catches, they said, are rare. Far more common were stories in which soldiers assaulted a home, destroyed property in their futile search and left terrorized civilians struggling to repair the damage and begin the long torment of trying to find family members who were hauled away as suspects.

Raids normally took place between midnight and 5 am, according to Sgt. John Bruhns, 29, of Philadelphia, who estimates that he took part in raids of nearly 1,000 Iraqi homes. He served in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib, a city infamous for its prison, located twenty miles west of the capital, with the Third Brigade, First Armor Division, First Battalion, for one year beginning in March 2003. His descriptions of raid procedures closely echoed those of eight other veterans who served in locations as diverse as Kirkuk, Samarra, Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit.

"You want to catch them off guard," Sergeant Bruhns explained. "You want to catch them in their sleep." About ten troops were involved in each raid, he said, with five stationed outside and the rest searching the home.

Once they were in front of the home, troops, some wearing Kevlar helmets and flak vests with grenade launchers mounted on their weapons, kicked the door in, according to Sergeant Bruhns, who dispassionately described the procedure:

"You run in. And if there's lights, you turn them on--if the lights are working. If not, you've got flashlights.... You leave one rifle team outside while one rifle team goes inside. Each rifle team leader has a headset on with an earpiece and a microphone where he can communicate with the other rifle team leader that's outside.

"You go up the stairs. You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall. You have junior-level troops, PFCs [privates first class], specialists will run into the other rooms and grab the family, and you'll group them all together. Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds and you make sure there's no weapons or anything that they can use to attack us.

"You get the interpreter and you get the man of the home, and you have him at gunpoint, and you'll ask the interpreter to ask him: 'Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda, anything at all--anything--anything in here that would lead us to believe that you are somehow involved in insurgent activity or anti-coalition forces activity?'

"Normally they'll say no, because that's normally the truth," Sergeant Bruhns said. "So what you'll do is you'll take his sofa cushions and you'll dump them. If he has a couch, you'll turn the couch upside down. You'll go into the fridge, if he has a fridge, and you'll throw everything on the floor, and you'll take his drawers and you'll dump them.... You'll open up his closet and you'll throw all the clothes on the floor and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it.

"And if you find something, then you'll detain him. If not, you'll say, 'Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening.' So you've just humiliated this man in front of his entire family and terrorized his entire family and you've destroyed his home. And then you go right next door and you do the same thing in a hundred homes."

Each raid, or "cordon and search" operation, as they are sometimes called, involved five to twenty homes, he said. Following a spate of attacks on soldiers in a particular area, commanders would normally order infantrymen on raids to look for weapons caches, ammunition or materials for making IEDs. Each Iraqi family was allowed to keep one AK-47 at home, but according to Bruhns, those found with extra weapons were arrested and detained and the operation classified a "success," even if it was clear that no one in the home was an insurgent.

Before a raid, according to descriptions by several veterans, soldiers typically "quarantined" the area by barring anyone from coming in or leaving. In pre-raid briefings, Sergeant Bruhns said, military commanders often told their troops the neighborhood they were ordered to raid was "a hostile area with a high level of insurgency" and that it had been taken over by former Baathists or Al Qaeda terrorists.

"So you have all these troops, and they're all wound up," said Sergeant Bruhns. "And a lot of these troops think once they kick down the door there's going to be people on the inside waiting for them with weapons to start shooting at them."

Sgt. Dustin Flatt, 33, of Denver, estimates he raided "thousands" of homes in Tikrit, Samarra and Mosul. He served with the Eighteenth Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division, for one year beginning in February 2004. "We scared the living Jesus out of them every time we went through every house," he said.

Spc. Ali Aoun, 23, a National Guardsman from New York City, said he conducted perimeter security in nearly 100 raids while serving in Sadr City with the Eighty-Ninth Military Police Brigade for eleven months starting in April 2004. When soldiers raided a home, he said, they first cordoned it off with Humvees. Soldiers guarded the entrance to make sure no one escaped. If an entire town was being raided, in large-scale operations, it too was cordoned off, said Spc. Garett Reppenhagen, 32, of Manitou Springs, Colorado, a cavalry scout and sniper with the 263rd Armor Battalion, First Infantry Division, who was deployed to Baquba for a year in February 2004.

Staff Sgt. Timothy John Westphal, 31, of Denver, recalled one summer night in 2004, the temperature an oppressive 110 degrees, when he and forty-four other US soldiers raided a sprawling farm on the outskirts of Tikrit. Sergeant Westphal, who served there for a yearlong tour with the Eighteenth Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division, beginning in February 2004, said he was told some men on the farm were insurgents. As a mechanized infantry squad leader, Sergeant Westphal led the mission to secure the main house, while fifteen men swept the property. Sergeant Westphal and his men hopped the wall surrounding the house, fully expecting to come face to face with armed insurgents.

"We had our flashlights and...I told my guys, 'On the count of three, just hit them with your lights and let's see what we've got here. Wake 'em up!'"

Sergeant Westphal's flashlight was mounted on his M-4 carbine rifle, a smaller version of the M-16, so in pointing his light at the clump of sleepers on the floor he was also pointing his weapon at them. Sergeant Westphal first turned his light on a man who appeared to be in his mid-60s.

"The man screamed this gut-wrenching, blood-curdling, just horrified scream," Sergeant Westphal recalled. "I've never heard anything like that. I mean, the guy was absolutely terrified. I can imagine what he was thinking, having lived under Saddam."

The farm's inhabitants were not insurgents but a family sleeping outside for relief from the stifling heat, and the man Sergeant Westphal had frightened awake was the patriarch.

"Sure enough, as we started to peel back the layers of all these people sleeping, I mean, it was him, maybe two guys...either his sons or nephews or whatever, and the rest were all women and children," Sergeant Westphal said. "We didn't find anything.

"I can tell you hundreds of stories about things like that and they would all pretty much be like the one I just told you. Just a different family, a different time, a different circumstance."

For Sergeant Westphal, that night was a turning point. "I just remember thinking to myself, I just brought terror to someone else under the American flag, and that's just not what I joined the Army to do," he said.


Fifteen soldiers we spoke with told us the information that spurred these raids was typically gathered through human intelligence--and that it was usually incorrect. Eight said it was common for Iraqis to use American troops to settle family disputes, tribal rivalries or personal vendettas. Sgt. Jesus Bocanegra, 25, of Weslaco, Texas, was a scout in Tikrit with the Fourth Infantry Division during a yearlong tour that ended in March 2004. In late 2003, Sergeant Bocanegra raided a middle-aged man's home in Tikrit because his son had told the Army his father was an insurgent. After thoroughly searching the man's house, soldiers found nothing and later discovered that the son simply wanted money his father had buried at the farm.

After persistently acting on such false leads, Sergeant Bocanegra, who raided Iraqi homes in more than fifty operations, said soldiers began to anticipate the innocence of those they raided. "People would make jokes about it, even before we'd go into a raid, like, Oh fucking we're gonna get the wrong house," he said. "'Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house." Specialist Chrystal said that he and his platoon leader shared a joke of their own: Every time he raided a house, he would radio in and say, "This is, you know, Thirty-One Lima. Yeah, I found the weapons of mass destruction in here."

Sergeant Bruhns said he questioned the authenticity of the intelligence he received because Iraqi informants were paid by the US military for tips. On one occasion, an Iraqi tipped off Sergeant Bruhns's unit that a small Syrian resistance organization, responsible for killing a number of US troops, was holed up in a house. "They're waiting for us to show up and there will be a lot of shooting," Sergeant Bruhns recalled being told.

As the Alpha Company team leader, Sergeant Bruhns was supposed to be the first person in the door. Skeptical, he refused. "So I said, 'If you're so confident that there are a bunch of Syrian terrorists, insurgents...in there, why in the world are you going to send me and three guys in the front door, because chances are I'm not going to be able to squeeze the trigger before I get shot.'" Sergeant Bruhns facetiously suggested they pull an M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle up to the house and shoot a missile through the front window to exterminate the enemy fighters his commanders claimed were inside. They instead diminished the aggressiveness of the raid. As Sergeant Bruhns ran security out front, his fellow soldiers smashed the windows and kicked down the doors to find "a few little kids, a woman and an old man."

In late summer 2005, in a village on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Specialist Chrystal searched a compound with two Iraqi police officers. A friendly man in his mid-30s escorted Specialist Chrystal and others in his unit around the property, where the man lived with his parents, wife and children, making jokes to lighten the mood. As they finished searching--they found nothing--a lieutenant from his company approached Specialist Chrystal: "What the hell were you doing?" he asked. "Well, we just searched the house and it's clear," Specialist Chrystal said. The lieutenant told Specialist Chrystal that his friendly guide was "one of the targets" of the raid. "Apparently he'd been dimed out by somebody as being an insurgent," Specialist Chrystal said. "For that mission, they'd only handed out the target sheets to officers, and officers aren't there with the rest of the troops." Specialist Chrystal said he felt "humiliated" because his assessment that the man posed no threat was deemed irrelevant and the man was arrested. Shortly afterward, he posted himself in a fighting vehicle for the rest of the mission.

Sgt. Larry Cannon, 27, of Salt Lake City, a Bradley gunner with the Eighteenth Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division, served a yearlong tour in several cities in Iraq, including Tikrit, Samarra and Mosul, beginning in February 2004. He estimates that he searched more than a hundred homes in Tikrit and found the raids fruitless and maddening. "We would go on one raid of a house and that guy would say, 'No, it's not me, but I know where that guy is.' And...he'd take us to the next house where this target was supposedly at, and then that guy's like, 'No, it's not me. I know where he is, though.' And we'd drive around all night and go from raid to raid to raid."

"I can't really fault military intelligence," said Specialist Reppenhagen, who said he raided thirty homes in and around Baquba. "It was always a guessing game. We're in a country where we don't speak the language. We're light on interpreters. It's just impossible to really get anything. All you're going off is a pattern of what's happened before and hoping that the pattern doesn't change."

Sgt. Geoffrey Millard, 26, of Buffalo, New York, served in Tikrit with the Rear Operations Center, Forty-Second Infantry Division, for one year beginning in October 2004. He said combat troops had neither the training nor the resources to investigate tips before acting on them. "We're not police," he said. "We don't go around like detectives and ask questions. We kick down doors, we go in, we grab people."

First Lieut. Brady Van Engelen, 26, of Washington, DC, said the Army depended on less than reliable sources because options were limited. He served as a survey platoon leader with the First Armored Division in Baghdad's volatile Adhamiya district for eight months beginning in September 2003. "That's really about the only thing we had," he said. "A lot of it was just going off a whim, a hope that it worked out," he said. "Maybe one in ten worked out."

Sergeant Bruhns said he uncovered illegal material about 10 percent of the time, an estimate echoed by other veterans. "We did find small materials for IEDs, like maybe a small piece of the wire, the detonating cord," said Sergeant Cannon. "We never found real bombs in the houses." In the thousand or so raids he conducted during his time in Iraq, Sergeant Westphal said, he came into contact with only four "hard-core insurgents."


Even with such slim pretexts for arrest, some soldiers said, any Iraqis arrested during a raid were treated with extreme suspicion. Several reported seeing military-age men detained without evidence or abused during questioning. Eight veterans said the men would typically be bound with plastic handcuffs, their heads covered with sandbags. While the Army officially banned the practice of hooding prisoners after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, five soldiers indicated that it continued.

"You weren't allowed to, but it was still done," said Sergeant Cannon. "I remember in Mosul [in January 2005], we had guys in a raid and they threw them in the back of a Bradley," shackled and hooded. "These guys were really throwing up," he continued. "They were so sick and nervous. And sometimes, they were peeing on themselves. Can you imagine if people could just come into your house and take you in front of your family screaming? And if you actually were innocent but had no way to prove that? It would be a scary, scary thing." Specialist Reppenhagen said he had only a vague idea about what constituted contraband during a raid. "Sometimes we didn't even have a translator, so we find some poster with Muqtada al-Sadr, Sistani or something, we don't know what it says on it. We just apprehend them, document that thing as evidence and send it on down the road and let other people deal with it."

Sergeant Bruhns, Sergeant Bocanegra and others said physical abuse of Iraqis during raids was common. "It was just soldiers being soldiers," Sergeant Bocanegra said. "You give them a lot of, too much, power that they never had before, and before you know it they're the ones kicking these guys while they're handcuffed. And then by you not catching [insurgents], when you do have someone say, 'Oh, this is a guy planting a roadside bomb'--and you don't even know if it's him or not--you just go in there and kick the shit out of him and take him in the back of a five-ton--take him to jail."

Tens of thousands of Iraqis--military officials estimate more than 60,000--have been arrested and detained since the beginning of the occupation, leaving their families to navigate a complex, chaotic prison system in order to find them. Veterans we interviewed said the majority of detainees they encountered were either innocent or guilty of only minor infractions.

Sergeant Bocanegra said during the first two months of the war he was instructed to detain Iraqis based on their attire alone. "They were wearing Arab clothing and military-style boots, they were considered enemy combatants and you would cuff 'em and take 'em in," he said. "When you put something like that so broad, you're bound to have, out of a hundred, you're going to have ten at least that were, you know what I mean, innocent."

Sometime during the summer of 2003, Bocanegra said, the rules of engagement narrowed--somewhat. "I remember on some raids, anybody of military age would be taken," he said. "Say, for example, we went to some house looking for a 25-year-old male. We would look at an age group. Anybody from 15 to 30 might be a suspect." (Since returning from Iraq, Bocanegra has sought counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and said his "mission" is to encourage others to do the same.)

Spc. Richard Murphy, 28, an Army Reservist from Pocono, Pennsylvania, who served part of his fifteen-month tour with the 800th Military Police Brigade in Abu Ghraib prison, said he was often struck by the lack of due process afforded the prisoners he guarded.

Specialist Murphy initially went to Iraq in May 2003 to train Iraqi police in the southern city of Al Hillah but was transferred to Abu Ghraib in October 2003 when his unit replaced one that was rotating home. (He spoke with The Nation in October 2006, while not on active duty.) Shortly after his arrival there, he realized that the number of prisoners was growing "exponentially" while the amount of personnel remained stagnant. By the end of his six-month stint, Specialist Murphy was in charge of 320 prisoners, the majority of whom he was convinced were unjustly detained.

"I knew that a large percentage of these prisoners were innocent," he said. "Just living with these people for months you get to see their character.... In just listening to the prisoners' stories, I mean, I get the sense that a lot of them were just getting rounded up in big groups."

Specialist Murphy said one prisoner, a mentally impaired, blind albino who could "maybe see a few feet in front of his face" clearly did not belong in Abu Ghraib. "I thought to myself, What could he have possibly done?"

Specialist Murphy counted the prisoners twice a day, and the inmates would often ask him when they would be released or implore him to advocate on their behalf, which he would try to do through the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Corps office. The JAG officer Specialist Murphy dealt with would respond that it was out of his hands. "He would make his recommendations and he'd have to send it up to the next higher command," Specialist Murphy said. "It was just a snail's crawling process.... The system wasn't working."

Prisoners at the notorious facility rioted on November 24, 2003, to protest their living conditions, and Army Reserve Spc. Aidan Delgado, 25, of Sarasota, Florida, was there. He had deployed with the 320th Military Police Company to Talil Air Base, to serve in Nasiriya and Abu Ghraib for one year beginning in April 2003. Unlike the other troops in his unit, he did not respond to the riot. Four months earlier he had decided to stop carrying a loaded weapon.

Nine prisoners were killed and three wounded after soldiers opened fire during the riot, and Specialist Delgado's fellow soldiers returned with photographs of the events. The images, disturbingly similar to the incident described by Sergeant Mejía, shocked him. "It was very graphic," he said. "A head split open. One of them was of two soldiers in the back of the truck. They open the body bags of these prisoners that were shot in the head and [one soldier has] got an MRE spoon. He's reaching in to scoop out some of his brain, looking at the camera and he's smiling. And I said, 'These are some of our soldiers desecrating somebody's body. Something is seriously amiss.' I became convinced that this was excessive force, and this was brutality."

Spc. Patrick Resta, 29, a National Guardsman from Philadelphia, served in Jalula, where there was a small prison camp at his base. He was with the 252nd Armor, First Infantry Division, for nine months beginning in March 2004. He recalled his supervisor telling his platoon point-blank, "The Geneva Conventions don't exist at all in Iraq, and that's in writing if you want to see it."

The pivotal experience for Specialist Delgado came when, in the winter of 2003, he was assigned to battalion headquarters inside Abu Ghraib prison, where he worked with Maj. David DiNenna and Lieut. Col. Jerry Phillabaum, both implicated in the Taguba Report, the official Army investigation into the prison scandal. There, Delgado read reports on prisoners and updated a dry erase board with information on where in the large prison compound detainees were moved and held.

"That was when I totally walked away from the Army," Specialist Delgado said. "I read these rap sheets on all the prisoners in Abu Ghraib and what they were there for. I expected them to be terrorists, murderers, insurgents. I look down this roster and see petty theft, public drunkenness, forged coalition documents. These people are here for petty civilian crimes."

"These aren't terrorists," he recalled thinking. "These aren't our enemies. They're just ordinary people, and we're treating them this harshly." Specialist Delgado ultimately applied for conscientious objector status, which the Army approved in April 2004.

The Enemy

American troops in Iraq lacked the training and support to communicate with or even understand Iraqi civilians, according to nineteen interviewees. Few spoke or read Arabic. They were offered little or no cultural or historical education about the country they controlled. Translators were either in short supply or unqualified. Any stereotypes about Islam and Arabs that soldiers and marines arrived with tended to solidify rapidly in the close confines of the military and the risky streets of Iraqi cities into a crude racism.

As Spc. Josh Middleton, 23, of New York City, who served in Baghdad and Mosul with the Second Battalion, Eighty-Second Airborne Division, from December 2004 to March 2005, pointed out, 20-year-old soldiers went from the humiliation of training--"getting yelled at every day if you have a dirty weapon"--to the streets of Iraq, where "it's like life and death. And 40-year-old Iraqi men look at us with fear and we can--do you know what I mean?--we have this power that you can't have. That's really liberating. Life is just knocked down to this primal level."

In Iraq, Specialist Middleton said, "a lot of guys really supported that whole concept that, you know, if they don't speak English and they have darker skin, they're not as human as us, so we can do what we want."

In the scramble to get ready for Iraq, troops rarely learned more than how to say a handful of words in Arabic, depending mostly on a single manual, A Country Handbook, a Field-Ready Reference Publication, published by the Defense Department in September 2002. The book, as described by eight soldiers who received it, has pictures of Iraqi military vehicles, diagrams of how the Iraqi army is structured, images of Iraqi traffic signals and signs, and about four pages of basic Arabic phrases such as Do you speak English? I am an American. I am lost.

Iraqi culture, identity and customs were, according to at least a dozen soldiers and marines interviewed by The Nation, openly ridiculed in racist terms, with troops deriding "haji food," "haji music" and "haji homes." In the Muslim world, the word "haji" denotes someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. But it is now used by American troops in the same way "gook" was used in Vietnam or "raghead" in Afghanistan.

"You can honestly see how the Iraqis in general or even Arabs in general are being, you know, kind of like dehumanized," said Specialist Englehart. "Like it was very common for United States soldiers to call them derogatory terms, like camel jockeys or Jihad Johnny or, you know, sand nigger."

According to Sergeant Millard and several others interviewed, "It becomes this racialized hatred towards Iraqis." And this racist language, as Specialist Harmon pointed out, likely played a role in the level of violence directed at Iraqi civilians. "By calling them names," he said, "they're not people anymore. They're just objects."

Several interviewees emphasized that the military did set up, for training purposes, mock Iraqi villages peopled with actors who played the parts of civilians and insurgents. But they said that the constant danger in Iraq, and the fear it engendered, swiftly overtook such training.

"They were the law," Specialist Harmon said of the soldiers in his unit in Al-Rashidiya, near Baghdad, which participated in raids and convoys. "They were very mean, very mean-spirited to them. A lot of cursing at them. And I'm like, Dude, these people don't understand what you're saying.... They used to say a lot, 'Oh, they'll understand when the gun is in their face.'"

Those few veterans who said they did try to reach out to Iraqis encountered fierce hostility from those in their units.

"I had the night shift one night at the aid station," said Specialist Resta, recounting one such incident. "We were told from the first second that we arrived there, and this was in writing on the wall in our aid station, that we were not to treat Iraqi civilians unless they were about to die.... So these guys in the guard tower radio in, and they say they've got an Iraqi out there that's asking for a doctor.

"So it's really late at night, and I walk out there to the gate and I don't even see the guy at first, and they point out to him and he's standing there. Well, I mean he's sitting, leaned up against this concrete barrier--like the median of the highway--we had as you approached the gate. And he's sitting there leaned up against it and, uh, he's out there, if you want to go and check on him, he's out there. So I'm sitting there waiting for an interpreter, and the interpreter comes and I just walk out there in the open. And this guy, he has the shit kicked out of him. He was missing two teeth. He has a huge laceration on his head, he looked like he had broken his eye orbit and had some kind of injury to his knee."

The Iraqi, Specialist Resta said, pleaded with him in broken English for help. He told Specialist Resta that there were men near the base who were waiting to kill him.

"I open a bag and I'm trying to get bandages out and the guys in the guard tower are yelling at me, 'Get that fucking haji out of here,'" Specialist Resta said. "And I just look back at them and ignored them, and then they were saying, you know, 'He doesn't look like he's about to die to me,' 'Tell him to go cry back to the fuckin' IP [Iraqi police],' and, you know, a whole bunch of stuff like that. So, you know, I'm kind of ignoring them and trying to get the story from this guy, and our doctor rolls up in an ambulance and from thirty to forty meters away looks out and says, shakes his head and says, 'You know, he looks fine, he's gonna be all right,' and walks back to the passenger side of the ambulance, you know, kind of like, Get your ass over here and drive me back up to the clinic. So I'm standing there, and the whole time both this doctor and the guards are yelling at me, you know, to get rid of this guy, and at one point they're yelling at me, when I'm saying, 'No, let's at least keep this guy here overnight, until it's light out,' because they wanted me to send him back out into the city, where he told me that people were waiting for him to kill him.

"When I asked if he'd be allowed to stay there, at least until it was light out, the response was, 'Are you hearing this shit? I think Doc is part fucking haji,'" Specialist Resta said.

Specialist Resta gave in to the pressure and denied the man aid. The interpreter, he recalled, was furious, telling him that he had effectively condemned the man to death.

"So I walk inside the gate and the interpreter helps him up and the guy turns around to walk away and the guys in the guard tower go, say, 'Tell him that if he comes back tonight he's going to get fucking shot,'" Specialist Resta said. "And the interpreter just stared at them and looked at me and then looked back at them, and they nod their head, like, Yeah, we mean it. So he yells it to the Iraqi and the guy just flinches and turns back over his shoulder, and the interpreter says it again and he starts walking away again, you know, crying like a little kid. And that was that."


Two dozen soldiers interviewed said that this callousness toward Iraqi civilians was particularly evident in the operation of supply convoys--operations in which they participated. These convoys are the arteries that sustain the occupation, ferrying items such as water, mail, maintenance parts, sewage, food and fuel across Iraq. And these strings of tractor-trailers, operated by KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown & Root) and other private contractors, required daily protection by the US military. Typically, according to these interviewees, supply convoys consisted of twenty to thirty trucks stretching half a mile down the road, with a Humvee military escort in front and back and at least one more in the center. Soldiers and marines also sometimes accompanied the drivers in the cabs of the tractor-trailers.

These convoys, ubiquitous in Iraq, were also, to many Iraqis, sources of wanton destruction.

According to descriptions culled from interviews with thirty-eight veterans who rode in convoys--guarding such runs as Kuwait to Nasiriya, Nasiriya to Baghdad and Balad to Kirkuk--when these columns of vehicles left their heavily fortified compounds they usually roared down the main supply routes, which often cut through densely populated areas, reaching speeds over sixty miles an hour. Governed by the rule that stagnation increases the likelihood of attack, convoys leapt meridians in traffic jams, ignored traffic signals, swerved without warning onto sidewalks, scattering pedestrians, and slammed into civilian vehicles, shoving them off the road. Iraqi civilians, including children, were frequently run over and killed. Veterans said they sometimes shot drivers of civilian cars that moved into convoy formations or attempted to pass convoys as a warning to other drivers to get out of the way.

"A moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one," said Sgt. Ben Flanders, 28, a National Guardsman from Concord, New Hampshire, who served in Balad with the 172nd Mountain Infantry for eleven months beginning in March 2004. Flanders ran convoy routes out of Camp Anaconda, about thirty miles north of Baghdad. "So speed was your friend. And certainly in terms of IED detonation, absolutely, speed and spacing were the two things that could really determine whether or not you were going to get injured or killed or if they just completely missed, which happened."

Following an explosion or ambush, soldiers in the heavily armed escort vehicles often fired indiscriminately in a furious effort to suppress further attacks, according to three veterans. The rapid bursts from belt-fed .50-caliber machine guns and SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapons, which can fire as many as 1,000 rounds per minute) left many civilians wounded or dead.

"One example I can give you, you know, we'd be cruising down the road in a convoy and all of the sudden, an IED blows up," said Spc. Ben Schrader, 27, of Grand Junction, Colorado. He served in Baquba with the 263rd Armor Battalion, First Infantry Division, from February 2004 to February 2005. "And, you know, you've got these scared kids on these guns, and they just start opening fire. And there could be innocent people everywhere. And I've seen this, I mean, on numerous occasions where innocent people died because we're cruising down and a bomb goes off."

Several veterans said that IEDs, the preferred weapon of the Iraqi insurgency, were one of their greatest fears. Since the invasion in March 2003, IEDs have been responsible for killing more US troops--39.2 percent of the more than 3,500 killed--than any other method, according to the Brookings Institution, which monitors deaths in Iraq. This past May, IED attacks claimed ninety lives, the highest number of fatalities from roadside bombs since the beginning of the war.

"The second you left the gate of your base, you were always worried," said Sergeant Flatt. "You were constantly watchful for IEDs. And you could never see them. I mean, it's just by pure luck who's getting killed and who's not. If you've been in firefights earlier that day or that week, you're even more stressed and insecure to a point where you're almost trigger-happy."

Sergeant Flatt was among twenty-four veterans who said they had witnessed or heard stories from those in their unit of unarmed civilians being shot or run over by convoys. These incidents, they said, were so numerous that many were never reported.

Sergeant Flatt recalled an incident in January 2005 when a convoy drove past him on one of the main highways in Mosul. "A car following got too close to their convoy," he said. "Basically, they took shots at the car. Warning shots, I don't know. But they shot the car. Well, one of the bullets happened to just pierce the windshield and went straight into the face of this woman in the car. And she was--well, as far as I know--instantly killed. I didn't pull her out of the car or anything. Her son was driving the car, and she had her--she had three little girls in the back seat. And they came up to us, because we were actually sitting in a defensive position right next to the hospital, the main hospital in Mosul, the civilian hospital. And they drove up and she was obviously dead. And the girls were crying."

On July 30, 2004, Sergeant Flanders was riding in the tail vehicle of a convoy on a pitch-black night, traveling from Camp Anaconda south to Taji, just north of Baghdad, when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades). He was about to get on the radio to warn the vehicle in front of him about the ambush when he saw his gunner unlock the turret and swivel it around in the direction of the shooting. He fired his MK-19, a 40-millimeter automatic grenade launcher capable of discharging up to 350 rounds per minute.

"He's just holding the trigger down and it wound up jamming, so he didn't get off as many shots maybe as he wanted," Sergeant Flanders recalled. "But I said, 'How many did you get off?' 'Cause I knew they would be asking that. He said, 'Twenty-three.' He launched twenty-three grenades....

"I remember looking out the window and I saw a little hut, a little Iraqi house with a light on.... We were going so fast and obviously your adrenaline's--you're like tunnel vision, so you can't really see what's going on, you know? And it's dark out and all that stuff. I couldn't really see where the grenades were exploding, but it had to be exploding around the house or maybe even hit the house. Who knows? Who knows? And we were the last vehicle. We can't stop."

Convoys did not slow down or attempt to brake when civilians inadvertently got in front of their vehicles, according to the veterans who described them. Sgt. Kelly Dougherty, 29, from Cañon City, Colorado, was based at the Talil Air Base in Nasiriya with the Colorado National Guard's 220th Military Police Company for a year beginning in February 2003. She recounted one incident she investigated in January 2004 on a six-lane highway south of Nasiriya that resembled numerous incidents described by other veterans.

"It's like very barren desert, so most of the people that live there, they're nomadic or they live in just little villages and have, like, camels and goats and stuff," she recalled. "There was then a little boy--I would say he was about 10 because we didn't see the accident; we responded to it with the investigative team--a little Iraqi boy and he was crossing the highway with his, with three donkeys. A military convoy, transportation convoy driving north, hit him and the donkeys and killed all of them. When we got there, there were the dead donkeys and there was a little boy on the side of the road.

"We saw him there and, you know, we were upset because the convoy didn't even stop," she said. "They really, judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down. But, I mean, that's basically--basically, your order is that you never stop."

Among supply convoys, there were enormous disparities based on the nationality of the drivers, according to Sergeant Flanders, who estimated that he ran more than 100 convoys in Balad, Baghdad, Falluja and Baquba. When drivers were not American, the trucks were often old, slow and prone to breakdowns, he said. The convoys operated by Nepalese, Egyptian or Pakistani drivers did not receive the same level of security, although the danger was more severe because of the poor quality of their vehicles. American drivers were usually placed in convoys about half the length of those run by foreign nationals and were given superior vehicles, body armor and better security. Sergeant Flanders said troops disliked being assigned to convoys run by foreign nationals, especially since, when the aging vehicles broke down, they had to remain and protect them until they could be recovered.

"It just seemed insane to run civilians around the country," he added. "I mean, Iraq is such a security concern and it's so dangerous and yet we have KBR just riding around, unarmed.... Remember those terrible judgments that we made about what Iraq would look like postconflict? I think this is another incarnation of that misjudgment, which would be that, Oh, it'll be fine. We'll put a Humvee in front, we'll put a Humvee in back, we'll put a Humvee in the middle, and we'll just run with it.

"It was just shocking to me.... I was Army trained and I had a good gunner and I had radios and I could call on the radios and I could get an airstrike if I wanted to. I could get a Medevac.... And here these guys are just tooling around. And these guys are, like, they're promised the world. They're promised $120,000, tax free, and what kind of people take those jobs? Down-on-their-luck-type people, you know? Grandmothers. There were grandmothers there. I escorted a grandmother there and she did great. We went through an ambush and one of her guys got shot, and she was cool, calm and collected. Wonderful, great, good for her. What the hell is she doing there?

"We're using these vulnerable, vulnerable convoys, which probably piss off more Iraqis than it actually helps in our relationship with them," Flanders said, "just so that we can have comfort and air-conditioning and sodas--great--and PlayStations and camping chairs and greeting cards and stupid T-shirts that say, Who's Your Baghdaddy?"


Soldiers and marines who participated in neighborhood patrols said they often used the same tactics as convoys--speed, aggressive firing--to reduce the risk of being ambushed or falling victim to IEDs. Sgt. Patrick Campbell, 29, of Camarillo, California, who frequently took part in patrols, said his unit fired often and without much warning on Iraqi civilians in a desperate bid to ward off attacks.

"Every time we got on the highway," he said, "we were firing warning shots, causing accidents all the time. Cars screeching to a stop, going into the other intersection.... The problem is, if you slow down at an intersection more than once, that's where the next bomb is going to be because you know they watch. You know? And so if you slow down at the same choke point every time, guaranteed there's going to be a bomb there next couple of days. So getting onto a freeway or highway is a choke point 'cause you have to wait for traffic to stop. So you want to go as fast as you can, and that involves added risk to all the cars around you, all the civilian cars.

"The first Iraqi I saw killed was an Iraqi who got too close to our patrol," he said. "We were coming up an on-ramp. And he was coming down the highway. And they fired warning shots and he just didn't stop. He just merged right into the convoy and they opened up on him."

This took place sometime in the spring of 2005 in Khadamiya, in the northwest corner of Baghdad, Sergeant Campbell said. His unit fired into the man's car with a 240 Bravo, a heavy machine gun. "I heard three gunshots," he said. "We get about halfway down the road and...the guy in the car got out and he's covered in blood. And this is where...the impulse is just to keep going. There's no way that this guy knows who we are. We're just like every other patrol that goes up and down this road. I looked at my lieutenant and it wasn't even a discussion. We turned around and we went back.

"So I'm treating the guy. He has three gunshot wounds to the chest. Blood everywhere. And he keeps going in and out of consciousness. And when he finally stops breathing, I have to give him CPR. I take my right hand, I lift up his chin and I take my left hand and grab the back of his head to position his head, and as I take my left hand, my hand actually goes into his cranium. So I'm actually holding this man's brain in my hand. And what I realized was I had made a mistake. I had checked for exit wounds. But what I didn't know was the Humvee behind me, after the car failed to stop after the first three rounds, had fired twenty, thirty rounds into the car. I never heard it.

"I heard three rounds, I saw three holes, no exit wounds," he said. "I thought I knew what the situation was. So I didn't even treat this guy's injury to the head. Every medic I ever told is always like, Of course, I mean, the guy got shot in the head. There's nothing you could have done. And I'm pretty sure--I mean, you can't stop bleeding in the head like that. But this guy, I'm watching this guy, who I know we shot because he got too close. His car was clean. There was no--didn't hear it, didn't see us, whatever it was. Dies, you know, dying in my arms."

While many veterans said the killing of civilians deeply disturbed them, they also said there was no other way to safely operate a patrol.

"You don't want to shoot kids, I mean, no one does," said Sergeant Campbell, as he began to describe an incident in the summer of 2005 recounted to him by several men in his unit. "But you have this: I remember my unit was coming along this elevated overpass. And this kid is in the trash pile below, pulls out an AK-47 and just decides he's going to start shooting. And you gotta understand...when you have spent nine months in a war zone, where no one--every time you've been shot at, you've never seen the person shooting at you, and you could never shoot back. Here's some guy, some 14-year-old kid with an AK-47, decides he's going to start shooting at this convoy. It was the most obscene thing you've ever seen. Every person got out and opened fire on this kid. Using the biggest weapons we could find, we ripped him to shreds." Sergeant Campbell was not present at the incident, which took place in Khadamiya, but he saw photographs and heard descriptions from several eyewitnesses in his unit.

"Everyone was so happy, like this release that they finally killed an insurgent," he said. "Then when they got there, they realized it was just a little kid. And I know that really fucked up a lot of people in the head.... They'd show all the pictures and some people were really happy, like, Oh, look what we did. And other people were like, I don't want to see that ever again."

The killing of unarmed Iraqis was so common many of the troops said it became an accepted part of the daily landscape. "The ground forces were put in that position," said First Lieut. Wade Zirkle of Shenandoah County, Virginia, who fought in Nasiriya and Falluja with the Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from March to May 2003. "You got a guy trying to kill me but he's firing from houses...with civilians around him, women and children. You know, what do you do? You don't want to risk shooting at him and shooting children at the same time. But at the same time, you don't want to die either."

Sergeant Dougherty recounted an incident north of Nasiriya in December 2003, when her squad leader shot an Iraqi civilian in the back. The shooting was described to her by a woman in her unit who treated the injury. "It was just, like, the mentality of my squad leader was like, Oh, we have to kill them over here so I don't have to kill them back in Colorado," she said. "He just, like, seemed to view every Iraqi as like a potential terrorist."

Several interviewees said that, on occasion, these killings were justified by framing innocents as terrorists, typically following incidents when American troops fired on crowds of unarmed Iraqis. The troops would detain those who survived, accusing them of being insurgents, and plant AK-47s next to the bodies of those they had killed to make it seem as if the civilian dead were combatants. "It would always be an AK because they have so many of these weapons lying around," said Specialist Aoun. Cavalry scout Joe Hatcher, 26, of San Diego, said 9-millimeter handguns and even shovels--to make it look like the noncombatant was digging a hole to plant an IED--were used as well.

"Every good cop carries a throwaway," said Hatcher, who served with the Fourth Cavalry Regiment, First Squadron, in Ad Dawar, halfway between Tikrit and Samarra, from February 2004 to March 2005. "If you kill someone and they're unarmed, you just drop one on 'em." Those who survived such shootings then found themselves imprisoned as accused insurgents.

In the winter of 2004, Sergeant Campbell was driving near a particularly dangerous road in Abu Gharth, a town west of Baghdad, when he heard gunshots. Sergeant Campbell, who served as a medic in Abu Gharth with the 256th Infantry Brigade from November 2004 to October 2005, was told that Army snipers had fired fifty to sixty rounds at two insurgents who'd gotten out of their car to plant IEDs. One alleged insurgent was shot in the knees three or four times, treated and evacuated on a military helicopter, while the other man, who was treated for glass shards, was arrested and detained.

"I come to find out later that, while I was treating him, the snipers had planted--after they had searched and found nothing--they had planted bomb-making materials on the guy because they didn't want to be investigated for the shoot," Sergeant Campbell said. (He showed The Nation a photograph of one sniper with a radio in his pocket that he later planted as evidence.) "And to this day, I mean, I remember taking that guy to Abu Ghraib prison--the guy who didn't get shot--and just saying 'I'm sorry' because there was not a damn thing I could do about it.... I mean, I guess I have a moral obligation to say something, but I would have been kicked out of the unit in a heartbeat. I would've been a traitor."


The US military checkpoints dotted across Iraq, according to twenty-six soldiers and marines who were stationed at them or supplied them--in locales as diverse as Tikrit, Baghdad, Karbala, Samarra, Mosul and Kirkuk--were often deadly for civilians. Unarmed Iraqis were mistaken for insurgents, and the rules of engagement were blurred. Troops, fearing suicide bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, often fired on civilian cars. Nine of those soldiers said they had seen civilians being shot at checkpoints. These incidents were so common that the military could not investigate each one, some veterans said.

"Most of the time, it's a family," said Sergeant Cannon, who served at half a dozen checkpoints in Tikrit. "Every now and then, there is a bomb, you know, that's the scary part."

There were some permanent checkpoints stationed across the country, but for unsuspecting civilians, "flash checkpoints" were far more dangerous, according to eight veterans who were involved in setting them up. These impromptu security perimeters, thrown up at a moment's notice and quickly dismantled, were generally designed to catch insurgents in the act of trafficking weapons or explosives, people violating military-imposed curfews or suspects in bombings or drive-by shootings.

Iraqis had no way of knowing where these so-called "tactical control points" would crop up, interviewees said, so many would turn a corner at a high speed and became the unwitting targets of jumpy soldiers and marines.

"For me, it was really random," said Lieutenant Van Engelen. "I just picked a spot on a map that I thought was a high-volume area that might catch some people. We just set something up for half an hour to an hour and then we'd move on." There were no briefings before setting up checkpoints, he said.

Temporary checkpoints were safer for troops, according to the veterans, because they were less likely to serve as static targets for insurgents. "You do it real quick because you don't always want to announce your presence," said First Sgt. Perry Jefferies, 46, of Waco, Texas, who served with the Fourth Infantry Division from April to October 2003.

The temporary checkpoints themselves varied greatly. Lieutenant Van Engelen set up checkpoints using orange cones and fifty yards of concertina wire. He would assign a soldier to control the flow of traffic and direct drivers through the wire, while others searched vehicles, questioned drivers and asked for identification. He said signs in English and Arabic warned Iraqis to stop; at night, troops used lasers, glow sticks or tracer bullets to signal cars through. When those weren't available, troops improvised by using flashlights sent them by family and friends back home.

"Baghdad is not well lit," said Sergeant Flanders. "There's not street lights everywhere. You can't really tell what's going on."

Other troops, however, said they constructed tactical control points that were hardly visible to drivers. "We didn't have cones, we didn't have nothing," recalled Sergeant Bocanegra, who said he served at more than ten checkpoints in Tikrit. "You literally put rocks on the side of the road and tell them to stop. And of course some cars are not going to see the rocks. I wouldn't even see the rocks myself."

According to Sergeant Flanders, the primary concern when assembling checkpoints was protecting the troops serving there. Humvees were positioned so that they could quickly drive away if necessary, and the heavy weapons mounted on them were placed "in the best possible position" to fire on vehicles that attempted to pass through the checkpoint without stopping. And the rules of engagement were often improvised, soldiers said.

"We were given a long list of that kind of stuff and, to be honest, a lot of the time we would look at it and throw it away," said Staff Sgt. James Zuelow, 39, a National Guardsman from Juneau, Alaska, who served in Baghdad in the Third Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, for a year beginning in January 2005. "A lot of it was written at such a high level it didn't apply."

At checkpoints, troops had to make split-second decisions on when to use lethal force, and veterans said fear often clouded their judgment.

Sgt. Matt Mardan, 31, of Minneapolis, served as a Marine scout sniper outside Falluja in 2004 and 2005 with the Third Battalion, First Marines. "People think that's dangerous, and it is," he said. "But I would do that any day of the week rather than be a marine sitting on a fucking checkpoint looking at cars."

No car that passes through a checkpoint is beyond suspicion, said Sergeant Dougherty. "You start looking at everyone as a criminal.... Is this the car that's going to try to run into me? Is this the car that has explosives in it? Or is this just someone who's confused?" The perpetual uncertainty, she said, is mentally exhausting and physically debilitating.

"In the moment, what's passing through your head is, Is this person a threat? Do I shoot to stop or do I shoot to kill?" said Lieutenant Morgenstein, who served in Al Anbar.

Sergeant Mejía recounted an incident in Ramadi in July 2003 when an unarmed man drove with his young son too close to a checkpoint. The father was decapitated in front of the small, terrified boy by a member of Sergeant Mejía's unit firing a heavy .50-caliber machine gun. By then, said Sergeant Mejía, who responded to the scene after the fact, "this sort of killing of civilians had long ceased to arouse much interest or even comment." The next month, Sergeant Mejía returned stateside for a two-week rest and refused to go back, launching a public protest over the treatment of Iraqis. (He was charged with desertion, sentenced to one year in prison and given a bad-conduct discharge.)

During the summer of 2005, Sergeant Millard, who served as an assistant to a general in Tikrit, attended a briefing on a checkpoint shooting, at which his role was to flip PowerPoint slides.

"This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun," he said. "This car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that's a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged 4 and the daughter was aged 3. And they briefed this to the general. And they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, 'If these fucking hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn't happen.'"

Whether or not commanding officers shared this attitude, interviewees said, troops were rarely held accountable for shooting civilians at checkpoints. Eight veterans described the prevailing attitude among them as "Better to be tried by twelve men than carried by six." Since the number of troops tried for killing civilians is so scant, interviewees said, they would risk court-martial over the possibility of injury or death.

Rules of Engagement

Indeed, several troops said the rules of engagement were fluid and designed to insure their safety above all else. Some said they were simply told they were authorized to shoot if they felt threatened, and what constituted a risk to their safety was open to wide interpretation. "Basically it always came down to self-defense and better them than you," said Sgt. Bobby Yen, 28, of Atherton, California, who covered a variety of Army activities in Baghdad and Mosul as part of the 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment for one year beginning in November 2003.

"Cover your own butt was the first rule of engagement," Lieutenant Van Engelen confirmed. "Someone could look at me the wrong way and I could claim my safety was in threat."

Lack of a uniform policy from service to service, base to base and year to year forced troops to rely on their own judgment, Sergeant Jefferies explained. "We didn't get straight-up rules," he said. "You got things like, 'Don't be aggressive' or 'Try not to shoot if you don't have to.' Well, what does that mean?"

Prior to deployment, Sergeant Flanders said, troops were trained on the five S's of escalation of force: Shout a warning, Shove (physically restrain), Show a weapon, Shoot non-lethal ammunition in a vehicle's engine block or tires, and Shoot to kill. Some troops said they carried the rules in their pockets or helmets on a small laminated card. "The escalation-of-force methodology was meant to be a guide to determine course of actions you should attempt before you shoot," he said. "'Shove' might be a step that gets skipped in a given situation. In vehicles, at night, how does 'Shout' work? Each soldier is not only drilled on the five S's but their inherent right for self-defense."

Some interviewees said their commanders discouraged this system of escalation. "There's no such thing as warning shots," Specialist Resta said he was told during his predeployment training at Fort Bragg. "I even specifically remember being told that it was better to kill them than to have somebody wounded and still alive."

Lieutenant Morgenstein said that when he arrived in Iraq in August 2004, the rules of engagement barred the use of warning shots. "We were trained that if someone is not armed, and they are not a threat, you never fire a warning shot because there is no need to shoot at all," he said. "You signal to them with some other means than bullets. If they are armed and they are a threat, you never fire a warning shot because...that just gives them a chance to kill you. I don't recall at this point if this was an ROE [rule of engagement] explicitly or simply part of our consistent training." But later on, he said, "we were told the ROE was changed" and that warning shots were now explicitly allowed in certain circumstances.

Sergeant Westphal said that by the time he arrived in Iraq earlier in 2004, the rules of engagement for checkpoints were more refined--at least where he served with the Army in Tikrit. "If they didn't stop, you were to fire a warning shot," said Sergeant Westphal. "If they still continued to come, you were instructed to escalate and point your weapon at their car. And if they still didn't stop, then, if you felt you were in danger and they were about to run your checkpoint or blow you up, you could engage."

In his initial training, Lieutenant Morgenstein said, marines were cautioned against the use of warning shots because "others around you could be hurt by the stray bullet," and in fact such incidents were not unusual. One evening in Baghdad, Sergeant Zuelow recalled, a van roared up to a checkpoint where another platoon in his company was stationed and a soldier fired a warning shot that bounced off the ground and killed the van's passenger. "That was a big wake-up call," he said, "and after that we discouraged warning shots of any kind."

Many checkpoint incidents went unreported, a number of veterans indicated, and the civilians killed were not included in the overall casualty count. Yet judging by the number of checkpoint shootings described to The Nation by veterans we interviewed, such shootings appear to be quite common.

Sergeant Flatt recounted one incident in Mosul in January 2005 when an elderly couple zipped past a checkpoint. "The car was approaching what was in my opinion a very poorly marked checkpoint, or not even a checkpoint at all, and probably didn't even see the soldiers," he said. "The guys got spooked and decided it was a possible threat, so they shot up the car. And they literally sat in the car for the next three days while we drove by them day after day."

In another incident, a man was driving his wife and three children in a pickup truck on a major highway north of the Euphrates, near Ramadi, on a rainy day in February or March 2005. When the man failed to stop at a checkpoint, a marine in a light-armored vehicle fired on the car, killing the wife and critically wounding the son. According to Lieutenant Morgenstein, a civil affairs officer, a JAG official gave the family condolences and about $3,000 in compensation. "I mean, it's a terrible thing because there's no way to pay money to replace a family member," said Lieutenant Morgenstein, who was sometimes charged with apologizing to families for accidental deaths and offering them such compensation, called "condolence payments" or "solatia." "But it's an attempt to compensate for some of the costs of the funeral and all the expenses. It's an attempt to make a good-faith offering in a sign of regret and to say, you know, We didn't want this to happen. This is by accident." According to a May report from the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Department issued nearly $31 million in solatia and condolence payments between 2003 and 2006 to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who were "killed, injured or incur[red] property damage as a result of U.S. or coalition forces' actions during combat." The study characterizes the payments as "expressions of sympathy or remorse...but not an admission of legal liability or fault." In Iraq, according to the report, civilians are paid up to $2,500 for death, as much as $1,500 for serious injuries and $200 or more for minor injuries.

On one occasion, in Ramadi in late 2004, a man happened to drive down a road with his family minutes after a suicide bomber had hit a barrier during a cordon-and-search operation, Lieutenant Morgenstein said. The car's brakes failed and marines fired. The wife and her two children managed to escape from the car, but the man was fatally hit. The family was mistakenly told that he had survived, so Lieutenant Morgenstein had to set the record straight. "I've never done this before," he said. "I had to go tell this woman that her husband was actually dead. We gave her money, we gave her, like, ten crates of water, we gave the kids, I remember, maybe it was soccer balls and toys. We just didn't really know what else to do."

One such incident, which took place in Falluja in March 2003 and was reported on at the time by the BBC, even involved a group of plainclothes Iraqi policemen. Sergeant Mejía was told about the event by several soldiers who witnessed it.

The police officers were riding in a white pickup truck, chasing a BMW that had raced through a checkpoint. "The guy that the cops were chasing got through and I guess the soldiers got scared or nervous, so when the pickup truck came they opened fire on it," Sergeant Mejía said. "The Iraqi police tried to cease fire, but when the soldiers would not stop they defended themselves and there was a firefight between the soldiers and the cops. Not a single soldier was killed, but eight cops were."


A few veterans said checkpoint shootings resulted from basic miscommunication, incorrectly interpreted signals or cultural ignorance.

"As an American, you just put your hand up with your palm towards somebody and your fingers pointing to the sky," said Sergeant Jefferies, who was responsible for supplying fixed checkpoints in Diyala twice a day. "That means stop to most Americans, and that's a military hand signal that soldiers are taught that means stop. Closed fist, please freeze, but an open hand means stop. That's a sign you make at a checkpoint. To an Iraqi person, that means, Hello, come here. So you can see the problem that develops real quick. So you get on a checkpoint, and the soldiers think they're saying stop, stop, and the Iraqis think they're saying come here, come here. And the soldiers start hollering, so they try to come there faster. So soldiers holler more, and pretty soon you're shooting pregnant women."

"You can't tell the difference between these people at all," said Sergeant Mardan. "They all look Arab. They all have beards, facial hair. Honestly, it'll be like walking into China and trying to tell who's in the Communist Party and who's not. It's impossible."

But other veterans said that the frequent checkpoint shootings resulted from a lack of accountability. Critical decisions, they said, were often left to the individual soldier's or marine's discretion, and the military regularly endorsed these decisions without inquiry.

"Some units were so tight on their command and control that every time they fired one bullet, they had to write an investigative report," said Sergeant Campbell. But "we fired thousands of rounds without ever filing reports," he said. "And so it has to do with how much interaction and, you know, the relationship of the commanders to their units."

Cpt. Megan O'Connor said that in her unit every shooting incident was reported. O'Connor, 30, of Venice, California, served in Tikrit with the Fiftieth Main Support Battalion in the National Guard for a year beginning in December 2004, after which she joined the 2-28 Brigade Combat Team in Ramadi. But Captain O'Connor said that after viewing the reports and consulting with JAG officers, the colonel in her command would usually absolve the soldiers. "The bottom line is he always said, you know, We weren't there," she said. "We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but make sure that they know that this is not OK and we're watching them."

Probes into roadblock killings were mere formalities, a few veterans said. "Even after a thorough investigation, there's not much that could be done," said Specialist Reppenhagen. "It's just the nature of the situation you're in. That's what's wrong. It's not individual atrocity. It's the fact that the entire war is an atrocity."

The March 2005 shooting death of Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari at a checkpoint in Baghdad, however, caused the military to finally crack down on such accidents, said Sergeant Campbell, who served there. Yet this did not necessarily lead to greater accountability. "Needless to say, our unit was under a lot of scrutiny not to shoot any more people than we already had to because we were kind of a run-and-gun place," said Sergeant Campbell. "One of the things they did was they started saying, Every time you shoot someone or shoot a car, you have to fill out a 15-[6] or whatever the investigation is. Well, that investigation is really onerous for the soldiers. It's like a 'You're guilty' investigation almost--it feels as though. So commanders just stopped reporting shootings. There was no incentive for them to say, Yeah, we shot so-and-so's car."

(Sergeant Campbell said he believes the number of checkpoint shootings did decrease after the high-profile incident, but that was mostly because soldiers were now required to use pinpoint lasers at night. "I think they reduced, from when we started to when we left, the number of Iraqi civilians dying at checkpoints from one a day to one a week," he said. "Inherent in that number, like all statistics, is those are reported shootings.")

Fearing a backlash against these shootings of civilians, Lieutenant Morgenstein gave a class in late 2004 at his battalion headquarters in Ramadi to all the battalion's officers and most of its senior noncommissioned officers during which he asked them to put themselves in the Iraqis' place.

"I told them the obvious, which is, everyone we wound or kill that isn't an insurgent, hurts us," he said. "Because I guarantee you, down the road, that means a wounded or killed marine or soldier.... One, it's the right thing to do to not wound or shoot someone who isn't an insurgent. But two, out of self-preservation and self-interest, we don't want that to happen because they're going to come back with a vengeance."


The Nation contacted the Pentagon with a detailed list of questions and a request for comment on descriptions of specific patterns of abuse. These questions included requests to explain the rules of engagement, the operation of convoys, patrols and checkpoints, the investigation of civilian shootings, the detention of innocent Iraqis based on false intelligence and the alleged practice of "throwaway guns." The Pentagon referred us to the Multi-National Force Iraq Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad, where a spokesperson sent us a response by e-mail.

"As a matter of operational security, we don't discuss specific tactics, techniques, or procedures (TTPs) used to identify and engage hostile forces," the spokesperson wrote, in part. "Our service members are trained to protect themselves at all times. We are facing a thinking enemy who learns and adjusts to our operations. Consequently, we adapt our TTPs to ensure maximum combat effectiveness and safety of our troops. Hostile forces hide among the civilian populace and attack civilians and coalition forces. Coalition forces take great care to protect and minimize risks to civilians in this complex combat environment, and we investigate cases where our actions may have resulted in the injury of innocents.... We hold our Soldiers and Marines to a high standard and we investigate reported improper use of force in Iraq."

This response is consistent with the military's refusal to comment on rules of engagement, arguing that revealing these rules threatens operations and puts troops at risk. But on February 9, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, then coalition spokesman, writing on the coalition force website, insisted that the rules of engagement for troops in Iraq were clear. "The law of armed conflict requires that, to use force, 'combatants' must distinguish individuals presenting a threat from innocent civilians," he wrote. "This basic principle is accepted by all disciplined militaries. In the counterinsurgency we are now fighting, disciplined application of force is even more critical because our enemies camouflage themselves in the civilian population. Our success in Iraq depends on our ability to treat the civilian population with humanity and dignity, even as we remain ready to immediately defend ourselves or Iraqi civilians when a threat is detected."

When asked about veterans' testimony that civilian deaths at the hands of coalition forces often went unreported and typically went unpunished, the Press Information Center spokesperson replied only, "Any allegations of misconduct are treated seriously.... Soldiers have an obligation to immediately report any misconduct to their chain of command immediately."

Last September, Senator Patrick Leahy, then ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, called a Pentagon report on its procedures for recording civilian casualties in Iraq "an embarrassment." "It totals just two pages," Leahy said, "and it makes clear that the Pentagon does very little to determine the cause of civilian casualties or to keep a record of civilian victims."

In the four long years of the war, the mounting civilian casualties have already taken a heavy toll--both on the Iraqi people and on the US servicemembers who have witnessed, or caused, their suffering. Iraqi physicians, overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, published a study late last year in the British medical journal The Lancet that estimated that 601,000 civilians have died since the March 2003 invasion as the result of violence. The researchers found that coalition forces were responsible for 31 percent of these violent deaths, an estimate they said could be "conservative," since "deaths were not classified as being due to coalition forces if households had any uncertainty about the responsible party."

"Just the carnage, all the blown-up civilians, blown-up bodies that I saw," Specialist Englehart said. "I just--I started thinking, like, Why? What was this for?"

"It just gets frustrating," Specialist Reppenhagen said. "Instead of blaming your own command for putting you there in that situation, you start blaming the Iraqi people.... So it's a constant psychological battle to try to, you know, keep--to stay humane."

"I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people," said Sergeant Flanders. "The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with. And everybody else be damned."

Free school


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

A free school, often intentionally spelled free skool, is a decentralized network in which skills, information, and knowledge are shared without hierarchy or the institutional environment of formal schooling. The open structure of a free school is intended to encourage self-reliance, critical consciousness, and personal development.

Free schools have their roots in the anarchist Modern Schools of Spain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A more recent revival grew out of the democratic school movement. It is, at heart, non-institutional and non-authoritarian. Generally, it is a grassroots effort, a collection of individuals acting collectively and autonomously to create educational opportunities and skill-sharing within their communities.

Free schools often operate outside the market economy in favor of a gift economy. Nevertheless, the meaning of the "free" of free schools is not restricted to monetary cost, and can refer to an emphasis on free speech and open learning.

Vasumathi Badrinathan

Eighth-century Indian music from Vasumathi Badrinathan, written by women mystics and sounding positively futuristic? Uzbeck music from the mediaval courts of Bukhara? Ancient Mauretanian music from Aicha Mint Chighaly? Gnawa music brought by slaves over the Sahara - with impossibly funky basslines and metal castanets? It's all here and you feel your horizons expanding - and all of it has yet to be packaged for the world music market.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bush Outlaws All War Protest In United States

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers
In one of his most chilling moves to date against his own citizens, the American War Leader has issued a sweeping order this week outlawing all forms of protest against the Iraq war.
President Bush enacted into US law an ‘Executive Order’ on July 17th titled "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq", and which says:
"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004."
According to Russian legal experts, the greatest concern to the American people are the underlying provisions of this new law, and which, they state, are written ‘so broadly’ as to outlaw all forms of protest against the war. These provisions state:
"(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.
All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken."
To the subsection of this new US law, according to these legal experts, that says "...the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit...", the insertion of the word ‘services’ has broad, and catastrophic, consequences for the American people in that any act deemed by their government to be against the Iraqi war is, in fact, supporting the ‘enemy’ and therefore threatens the ‘stabilization of Iraq’.
In an even greater affront to the American people are the provisions of a law called The Patriot Act, and that should they run afoul of this new law they are forbidden to allow anyone to know about it, and as we can read as reported by the Seattle Times News Service:
"The [Patriot] act also expands the use of National Security Letters, which are a kind of warrant that the Justice Department writes for itself, authorizing its agents to seize such things as records of money movements, telephone calls and Internet visits. Recipients of a National Security Letter are not allowed to tell anyone about them, and so cannot contest them."

For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary July 17, 2007

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Message to the Congress of the United States Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.



July 17, 2007.



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stewart A. Alexander for President, Peace and Freedom Party

July 18, 2007 Stewart A. Alexander, a presidential hopeful with the Peace and Freedom Party, wants the face on six United States Federal Reserve Notes changed to represent the working class across America. Alexander’s proposal would affect the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Alexander is proposing that the six Federal Reserve Notes recognize every race, and the contributions of the working class across America; American Indians, Whites, Blacks, Browns, Hispanic, Asian descendants, the youth of America, seniors and the handicap. The Peace and Freedom Party, a socialist party, has been a strong advocate for the working class since the party was established in 1967. The party is pro-union labor and has remained a strong advocate for the rights and recognition of the working class. Alexander’s concept for changing the six Federal Reserve Notes will offer recognition to all working class people, of all races; the workers in the agricultural fields across America; groups of factory workers; groups of construction workers; groups of office workers, technicians and professions; service industry workers; transportation and longshore workers. Alexander conceives this major change of the US currency could begin to take place by 2010 and be completed by the end of 2014; with the first change-over beginning with the lower denominations of the US currency. Alexander also conceives that within the next two decades many of the industrial nations will advance toward cashless societies. The California Primary Election will be held in February 2008 and the General Election will be November 2008. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Alexander- PFP Setting Tone for 2008. www.salt-g.com


"Any media-brainwashed automaton can summon the insipid courage to peer into the horrifying abyss. But it takes a freaking genius with a fearless imagination to peer into the maw of happiness."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to Escape Plastic Handcuffs

From: http://yinsurgent.wordpress.com

I hate handcuffs. There’s nothing sexy about them. I really hate the plastic ones. It’s like being given a paper plate or plastic cup or something. They hurt in a much less tolerable way than the metal ones, too.

Although I don’t have any cuffs to test this on, I tested it on the fattest cable tie I could find, and it worked.

The mass arrests of the future will be very interesting, although at my age, I can’t pretend the repression industry isn’t falling all over itself to develop “pin proof” plastic handcuffs. Until the industrial engineers design a fix, they get produced, and the State upgrades, this might be fun. Of course this requires the buddy system, unless you luck out and get cuffed funny.

I imagine that looking for the literal needle in the haystack will dramatically increase arrest times, given the rightful aversion to needles that police have. I’m sure we buy them magic gloves or something though.

What will really be funny, is the first time that this happens en masse, and “good protesters” denounce the removing plastic shackles as act of violence. Mark my words, I can hear it already.

Spokane: Police video shows anarchists did not provoke attack

July 17, 2007 A police video of the July 4 arrests in Rivefront Park shows no evidence of criminal behavior by protesters before arrests began, a city attorney’s review of the incident says. In a report delivered Monday to Mayor Dennis Hession, City Attorney Jim Craven said his review of video shot by a police officer does not depict events described in police reports written after 17 people were arrested in the park. “It does not show an assault on an officer,” Craven wrote. “It does not show any obviously criminal behavior on the part of anyone, other than resisting arrest once the trouble started.” Craven said the incident would be appropriate for review by an ombudman or someone else with the responsibility for police oversight. Hession has said he supports hiring such a person, but must first wait for negotiations with the police union. In a meeting earlier in the day, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick also said the controversial incident would be appropriate for review by an ombudsman if the city had such a position. Because it does not yet have such a system, Kirkpatrick told the City Council’s Public Safety Committee that she reviewed police reports and “I’m at least telling you what I know.” She said protesters were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct and refusing to disperse, laws she said they broke in front of officers. “If there was no crime, we have no authority or power to make arrests,” Kirkpatrick said. But the evidence of those crimes is not on the police video, Craven wrote in his report to the mayor. Police have said one of the protesters, Zach St. John, assaulted Officer Jay Kernkamp by grabbing him around the throat, and was arrested. St. John has pleaded not guilty to assault, and other demonstrators have said that St. John was first knocked off of a bucket he was seated on. But neither the police video nor photos available on The Spokesman-Review web site or other places show a “physical altercation,” Craven said. “Neither the video nor the still photographs shed light on this occurrence,” he wrote. There are photos and video of the people standing and sitting on a large American flag, which protesters had spread on the ground as a picnic blanket. “It is reported that many holiday celebrants were very offended by this use of the flag and made their feelings known to demonstrators and to the police,” he wrote.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A New French Revolution’s Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes

Alastair Miller/Bloomberg News

The new Vélib program has set up self-service docking stations around Paris for more than 10,600 bicycles now available at modest rental prices to the public.

Published: July 16, 2007

About a dozen sweaty people pedaled bicycles up the Champs-Élysées on Sunday toward the Arc de Triomphe, as onlookers cheered.

Alastair Miller/Bloomberg News

Two tourists rented bicycles Sunday at City Hall.

These were not the leading riders of the Tour de France racing toward the finish line, but American tourists testing this city’s new communal bike program.

“I’m never taking the subway again,” said a beaming Justin Hill, 47, a real estate broker from Santa Barbara, Calif.

More than 10,600 of the hefty gray bicycles became available for modest rental prices on Sunday at 750 self-service docking stations that provide access in eight languages. The number is to grow to 20,600 by the end of the year.

The program, Vélib (for “vélo,” bicycle, and “liberté,” freedom), is the latest in a string of European efforts to reduce the number of cars in city centers and give people incentives to choose more eco-friendly modes of transport.

“This is about revolutionizing urban culture,” said Pierre Aidenbaum, mayor of Paris’s trendy third district, which opened 15 docking stations on Sunday. “For a long time cars were associated with freedom of movement and flexibility. What we want to show people is that in many ways bicycles fulfill this role much more today.”

Users can rent a bike online or at any of the stations, using a credit or debit card and leave them at any other station.

A one-day pass costs 1 euro ($1.38), a weekly pass 5 euros ($6.90) and a yearly subscription 29 euros ($40), with no additional charges as long as each bike ride does not exceed 30 minutes. (Beyond that, there is an incremental surcharge, to make sure that as many bikes as possible stay in the rotation.)

The outdoor advertising company J. C. Decaux is paying for the bicycles, docking stations and maintenance in return for exclusive use of 1,628 urban billboards owned by the city. The city receives the rental income, and city officials say they are hoping the program will bring in millions of euros.

Vélib is the brainchild of Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, a Socialist and longtime green campaigner who has set a target for the city to reduce car traffic by 40 percent by 2020. Since he took office in 2001, his administration has added about 125 miles of bicycle paths, at the expense of lanes for cars, prompting accusations from drivers that it has aggravated congestion in the city.

But even the most hardened cyclists still try to avoid some parts of Paris. The Champs-Élysées is not for the faint-hearted. The police have so far refused to grant a permit for a cycle lane along the avenue, fearing hopeless congestion on this main traffic artery.

Jean-Luc Dumesnil, who is an adviser in City Hall on cycling policy, said that while the number of bicycles on the streets increased by 50 percent in the last six years, the number of cycling accidents remained stable.

“It’s the cycling paths, but it’s also a question of critical mass,” Mr. Dumesnil said. “The more bikes there are, the more car drivers get used to them and the more care they take.”

Still, only about 40,000 of the 2.5 million Parisians say they use their bicycles regularly. Mr. Delanoë would like to raise that number to 250,000 by the end of the year.

City Hall is hoping to draw on the experience of smaller-scale rental programs in other cities like Berlin and Stockholm to address concerns about theft and financial viability that ended an experimental program in Amsterdam in the 1960s.

The key, Mr. Aidenbaum said, is to make it easy. “What this initiative does is to take away some of the inconveniences of owning a bike in Paris,” he said, “the lack of storage space in Paris buildings, the issue of theft and the hassle of maintenance.”

First indications are positive. Even before the docking stations opened, 13,000 people had bought annual subscriptions online. On Sunday, some docking stations were so popular that they temporarily ran out of bikes.

Denis Bocquet, 37, an urban planner who divides his time between Paris and Berlin, had to wait in line before renting a bike with his partner, Nora Lafi. From now on, he said, he would use the Vélib to go to work during his stints in Paris.

“It used to be stressful and dangerous to cycle in Paris, but the city has changed, and this could change it even more,” Mr. Bocquet said.

Some residents are skeptical about how long the shiny new fleet of rental bikes will survive unscathed. “There is a lot of gratuitous vandalism that could harm this initiative in this area,” said Marylise Dutoit, 37, a primary school teacher.

But she said she would try to use it to go work every day because it would reduce her 20-minute Métro commute to 10 minutes.

By 2:30, Mr. Hill, his wife, Megan, and their two teenagers were at the Arc de Triomphe, on their third set of bicycles.

“But when we’re done here we might get one more bike to go back to the hotel and swing by the Eiffel Tower on the way,” Ms. Hill said as her son Tommy, 17, rolled his eyes. “This is fun. I never realized Paris was so small!”

The Greening Of Alcatraz

The environmental drive on Alcatraz is part of a broader facelift being given to the island, which has included a revamped version of the the prison's popular audio-tour and ongoing renovations to buildings.
by Helene Labriet-Gross San Francisco Once a sinister home to notorious mobsters and murderers, Alcatraz is in line for an environmental makeover that could see the imposing former prison island become a tree-hugger's paradise. Under plans by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which manages the rugged rock in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is poised to be transformed into a beacon for progressive communities.

Although Alcatraz slammed shut its prison doors for the last time in 1963, the island continues to welcome hundreds of visitors on a daily basis, becoming San Francisco's premier tourist attraction.

Those demands place an energy and resources burden on Alcatraz that is impossible to be satisfied locally, with all of the facility's fuel, water and waste laboriously transported back and forth across the bay.

However, the US Parks Service is now studying plans to make Alcatraz self-sufficient in an attempt to lessen the impact on the environment and provide an example to the rest of the United States.

By 2014, authorities expect to have installed a waste reprocessing plant as well as a de-salination plant to provide drinking water.

"Currently, we have to carry all the water requirements we have on the island over to the island," said Brian O'Neill, superintendent of the Golden Gate National Park. "We have to haul off all the sewage."

"We pump it. It comes through the plumbing system, and it's pumped on into a boat, and then it's taken over to the mainland, to San Francisco, and discharged into the city sewer system."

Fuel is shipped over to the island regularly to be pumped into generators to provide power, something that authorities want to phase, looking to wind, solar and even tidal power to provide alternatives.

"What we want is to explore various forms of alternative energies, that would eliminate the need to use fossil fuel," O'Neill told AFP.

"We want to look at photovoltaic cells on various buildings, we want to look at tidal power, because right off of Alcatraz, there's enough power to supply our needs. And we want to look at wind. It would be a combination."

Tidal power is increasingly being viewed as a viable provider of energy by authorities across the San Francisco area. Last week, local utilities and officials announced plans to conduct an exhaustive study into whether the churning tides of the Bay Area could be harnessed to provide energy.

By 2009, a solar-powered boat -- "Solar Sailor" -- will be operational and ready to transport daytrippers from San Francisco to the island.

O'Neill said he wants to see Alcatraz and other US national park properties lead the field in terms of their environmental policies.

"We want the national parks to be an exemplar of the best practices," O'Neill said. "We want people to be inspired by the way we conserve water, the way we use alternative energies and green products, and how we recycle to live more sustainably."

The environmental drive on Alcatraz is part of a broader facelift being given to the island, which has included a revamped version of the the prison's popular audio-tour and ongoing renovations to buildings.

"We'll probably looking at being able to have meetings and conferences there," O'Neill said. "It's a really wonderfully unique occasion when you are there, because the views of the Golden Gate and the city are stunning.

"It also has an obvious benefit for us by generating additional revenues we can reinvest in further improvements."

Source: Agence France-Presse

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Noam Chomsky is one of the key figures on the American and global left. He is said to be one of the most widely quoted intellectuals in the world. In

by Wolfgang Brauner
July 14, 2007
Noam Chomsky is one of the key figures on the American and global left. He is said to be one of the most widely quoted intellectuals in the world. In 2005, readers of AlterNet voted him MVP (Most Valuable Progressive). And he remains very close to many activists.

For all these reasons, we were very excited when we finally had the opportunity in late May to interview Chomsky for 25 minutes about his thinking on progressive grand strategy for building political power on the American left. More specifically, and in keeping with the main interest of our Progressive Strategy Studies Project, we asked him whether he finds it useful to think about how to build power in strategic terms.

Glancing at the list of individuals and organizations that we included in our first report, “Finding Strategy: A Survey of Contemporary Contributions to Progressive Strategy,” he noted that there was more “extensive and far-reaching” thinking on progressive strategy than what was reflected in our report.

Throughout the interview, he mainly referred to the work of Gar Alperovitz, Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel, and Joel Rogers (the latter is included in our report), on how to democratize the economy and the workplace through worker self-management, cooperatives, etc. In particular, he referred to Alperovitz’ latest book, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy (2004), and a number of books by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel on participatory economics and broader sociopolitical issues. Chomsky considers their work to be very important, particularly for activists.

He started out by emphasizing that the US is “a one-party state with two wings, Democrat and Republican,” and claimed that both were “way to the right of the majority of Americans” on many crucial issues. According to Chomsky, social scientists like C. Wright Mills, Thomas Ferguson, and Bill Domhoff (who also is included in our report) are pretty much right: Corporations dominate the power structure and hence US politics. In the US this is even more so the case than in other countries because of the much more brutal suppression of labor. Quoting Dewey, Chomsky noted that in the absence of economic democracy, “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business.”

Since the state, having become so thoroughly co-opted by corporate interests, is part of the problem, it is difficult to significantly change it from within through elections or public policy reforms. While short-term, pragmatic change remains possible and desirable, systemic change would require a transformation of power relations within society through a democratization of economic decision-making.

Criticizing the recent health care reform in Massachusetts as overly complicated precisely because it has to respond to too many corporate interests, Chomsky noted that, even though a large majority of the population favors straightforward changes, the US can’t even achieve a real health care reform. While pragmatic change is better than nothing, it pales in comparison to the kind of change a country like Bolivia has been able to achieve, “something the US and other Western societies can only dream of.”

Serious progress towards a truly functioning democracy requires democratizing the economy. Traditionally, labor has been the main agent of change, but today it is, as Chomsky put it, “smashed,” and struggles to survive. Who can fill the huge gap that labor has left behind? Chomsky admits that other actors, such as churches and universities, are weak, if not marginal, though there has been impressive growth of popular movements, many of them quite new and promising. They offer considerable promise and opportunity for those willing to keep working hard at “building the cells of a future society.”

Wolfgang Brauner is the Project Manager and Principal Researcher of the Progressive Strategy Studies Project at the Commonwealth Institute in Cambridge, Mass. (http://www.comw.org/pssp/index.html). You can reach him at wbrauner@comw.org. The report, “Finding Strategy: A Survey of Contemporary Contributions to Progressive Strategy,” can be found here: http://www.comw.org/pssp/fulltext/0611psspreport1.pdf.

World beater Manu Chao- World beater

Musical revolutionary and man of the people - if only everyone could be like Manu Chao. Only in the English-speaking world is he not a star, but as Peter Culshaw reports, that battle has just begun Sunday July 15, 2007 Observer Music Mont

... Chao told me that the Coachella gig had been 'a hot spot', but several fans had been following him on the 20-date tour since then. Two days before Brooklyn, I speak to him on the tour bus in Boston. 'I love going to sleep in one city and waking in another,' he says, lighting a cigarette, which strictly speaking isn't allowed on the vehicle. 'The band is really positive, a great family - I can imagine touring with these guys for years. We went all through the West, stopping in the desert to make fires. Deep down .... not just to the big cities.'

But why travel to the heart of the beast if you seem to hate America and all it stands for?

'I always criticise the government, not the people,' he says with characteristic intensity. 'And if I am criticising, it's better to understand what it is you criticise - more and more, for people in South America and Africa the US is like the devil. There's a heavy cost for the way of life here in the rest of the world. When I criticise the government everyone applauds - I just don't understand why there aren't thousands protesting outside the White House every day.

'Everyone always said you have to make it in the States,' he adds. 'But I always thought the best way was to make it in South America first.' ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007


by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting -- FAIR Filmmaker Michael Moore appeared on CNN's Situation Room on July 9 to talk about his new film Sicko--but ended up having an animated discussion with host Wolf Blitzer about a CNN "fact check" of the film that made several embarrassing errors.

The piece--dubbed a "Reality Check" by senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta--claimed that Moore "fudged the facts" when critiquing the U.S. health care system (click here to watch the clip). Gupta starts by acknowledging that the U.S. healthcare system placed 37th in the World Health Organization's rankings. The fact that Moore contrasts this with the Cuban system led Gupta to "catch" him: "But hold on. That WHO list puts Cuba's healthcare system even lower than the United States, coming in at number 39."

The fact that the U.S.'s healthcare system does about as well as a Third World island that's been under economic sanctions for the past five decades isn't much of a catch to begin with. But Cuba's WHO ranking actually appears in Moore's film. (As Moore's website pointed out, when CNN aired the relevant clip from his film, a CNN logo covered up Cuba on the list.)

Gupta's next fact check:

"Moore asserts that the American healthcare system spends $7,000 per person on health, whereas Cuba spends $25 per person. Not true, but not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 a year per person versus $229 a year in Cuba."

Actually, Moore was much closer than Gupta: according to the Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. per capita healthcare spending was projected to reach $7,092 in 2006, and $7,498 for this year.

On a July 10 debate with Moore on CNN's Larry King Live, Gupta tried to claim that these projected numbers were somehow invalid, as if the continuously rising costs of healthcare should not be taken into account when discussing healthcare expenditures. Ironically, during the same discussion, Gupta cited Medicare's looming insolvency as a reason not to support expanding the program--a financial crunch that of course is also based on projections of steadily rising healthcare costs.

What's more--Gupta's "reality check" got the film's claims wrong: Moore said Cuba spent $251 per person, not $25.

Gupta went on to claim that Sicko portrays "medical utopia elsewhere," when in fact studies show the U.S. system is better in some respects:

"The film is filled with content Canadians and Brits sitting in waiting rooms, confident care will come. In Canada, you can be waiting for a long time. A survey of six industrialized nations found that only Canada was worse than the United States when it came to waiting for a doctor's appointment for a medical problem."

This is a grossly misleading characterization of the Commonwealth Fund's survey; instead of stressing that the study found that the United States did better than one country with universal care in terms of waiting time, Gupta could more relevantly have focused on the fact that four out of five of the universal healthcare countries studied (including Britain) outperformed the U.S. on the very measure that he singled out to show that you don't find "medical utopia elsewhere."

It's worth noting that the study that Gupta cited placed the U.S. as the worst overall of all the healthcare system studied, placing it last or next to last in all but one of eight criteria, while spending almost twice as much per capita as the next most expensive system. Gupta's example was a clear case of cherry-picking-- selecting only the data that fits your argument-- something he accused Moore of doing.

When Moore confronted CNN's Blitzer about the inaccuracies in their "reality check" segment, he responded: "Well, if we get that confirmed, obviously, we'll correct the record." And CNN did correct one thing--Gupta acknowledged his error about Cuba's per capita spending ($25 versus $251). On CNN's Newsroom (7/10/07), Gupta seemed taken aback by the whole thing, saying, "Yesterday there was a lot said by Michael, quite frankly, lots of numbers thrown around, and it can get admittedly somewhat confusing."

He did not apologize for criticizing Moore for using current healthcare figures rather than outdated ones, or for implying that Moore concealed Cuba's healthcare ranking, or for misleading viewers about the findings of the survey on waiting times. "We're comfortable with what we presented," Gupta said, aside from misrepresenting what Moore reported about Cuban healthcare costs by a factor of 10, which Gupta attributed to "an error of transcribing the number down incorrectly."

"As a journalist and a doctor the facts are extremely important to me," Gupta claimed. That priority is not at all evident from his report on Sicko, which instead suggested that his chief goal was discrediting Moore's film. In pursuit of that mission he ended up making more serious factual errors than any he actually found in Moore's film. Gupta's failure to retract the other falsehoods, beyond his "transcribing" error, suggests that facts are actually of little importance to him compared to maintaining the pretense that he is an expert and that activist/journalists like Moore are not to be trusted.

The tendency for mainstream journalists to resist criticism is not surprising. Gupta's CNN colleague Kyra Phillips perhaps said it best when she referred to the second part of Moore's interview with Blitzer: "You can tune in to the Situation Room at 4:00 Eastern for a little more unedited Moore interview, if you can stomach it."

The implication couldn't be clearer: If we make false claims about your work, it's downright rude of you to say something about it.

ACTION: Contact CNN's Situation Room and demand that they correct the other mistakes in Gupta's "fact check" on Michael Moore's film.



Situation Room situationroom@cnn.com

Comment page: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html?65

CNN President Jonathan Klein Phone: (212) 275-7800

For more background, go to:


Josh Wolf - Getting on the ballot…

Getting on the Ballot... click here to download

Danger in the summer moon above

From: http://www.peacerant.org

In a front page story today about Bush’s efforts to stop Republican defectors from his war policy, New York Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Sheryl Gay Stolberg included this enticing little sentence:

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican, said she received a call on Tuesday morning from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging her to wait until September to denounce the Bush policy.

Denunciations are so much better in the fall, I guess. In addition to being quite revelatory about how Washington works under the Bush Mob, it also brought to my under-caffeinated mind a song from long ago, a syrupy, teen love-angst song by The Tempos (1959), See You In September. It’s about two young lovers parting for the summer as they go their separate ways on vacation:

Here we are saying goodbye at the station; Summer vacation is taking you away. Have a good time, but remember There is danger in the summer moon above Will I see you in September Or lose you to a summer love?

That was going to be my brief, light-hearted post for the morning, but then this just came in on the wire services:

Snowe Embraces Troop Withdrawal Bill By Anne Flaherty The Associated Press Wednesday 11 July 2007

Sen. Olympia Snowe on Wednesday became the second Republican to embrace a bill ordering troops out of Iraq as President Bush’s national security adviser tried to stop defections from the White House war policy.

Snowe, R-Maine, joined Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., in co-sponsoring a bill that would require troops to start leaving in 120 days. The bill also would end combat by April 30, 2008. [Full story]

Poor George and Condi. Denounced during summer break.

I’ll be alone each and every night While you’re away, don’t forget to write Bye-bye, so long, farewell, bye-bye, so long -

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rwanda: Love in Agony - Movie Exposes France And Restores Hope

13 July 2007 Posted to the web 13 July 2007 Ignatius Ssuuna, Kigali France is Jean Claude Habiyakare's villain in his new film, LOVE IN AGONY. The film, which will be launched officially in September, gives insight into how France acted in Rwanda's 1994 Genocide in which one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished.The film depicts the cruelty inflicted upon the Tutsis who are perceived to be in the league with the advancing members of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). Through the use of strong characters, France's part is clearly portrayed. The French at first have been able to deceive many people, including the international community that they have come to rescue innocent civilians. The scenes of the film send a message that the French are representatives of the oppressors, but as the RPF soldiers begin to advance, there is a sign that France and her cohorts are losing the edge. It also displays the participation of RPF soldiers in the stopping of the Genocide. Habiyakare, the film's producer says the film is trying its best to appropriately represent the RPF's role in rescuing the victims of the 100 days carnage by the marauding Interahamwe. "This is why we are producing this film. We have already approached government and many people support us," Habiyakare says at his office in Nyamirambo, a Kigali Suburb recently. Love in Agony is about the French's government participation in the preparation of the Rwandan Genocide by training the militias and supplying them with arms. It also highlights the appalling life many Rwandans are undergoing as refugees in the neighbouring countries. The main actor is a young man named Desire Bayigana who finds himself as a refugee in Uganda because of an ethnically divisive government. He asks his father many times why the family does not go back to their motherland. Bayigana then vows to go back, even if it means dying. The father explains to him the reasons why they are in exile and what he thought would bring this kind of life to an end. Life in the camp is tough but he cannot go back to Rwanda because as a Tutsi, he would be forced into an early grave. Meanwhile, in school, Bayigana is isolated and many of his classmates laugh at him for being a Rwandan refugee. One day, Bayigana secretly pays a visit to his uncle who is staying in Rwanda. In Kigali, he falls in love with a beautiful young girl called Dorothy. The two swear to live to gather till death does them part. But at the height of persecution of Tutsis in Bugesera, Kibirira and Mugina, Bayingana become conscious that silence without action won't bring any change in his country. He proposes a solution to the victims' desperate plight under the Habyarimana's administration when he inspires his girlfriend to join a struggle to the end the suffering of their parents. Meanwhile, his uncle's home is attacked and one of his cousin brothers has been brutally killed. Others who managed to escape hide in the bushes. He finally bids his girlfriend farewell and tells her he cannot remain silent to the evils being inflicted on the innocent civilians basing on their ethical background. In the event, Bayingana joins the RPF. But before he goes back to Uganda, the two lovers promise each other faithfulness. A betrayal of their good love means abandoning all Rwandans. In Uganda, Bayingana tells his fellow refugees that innocent people in Rwanda were being subjected to untold suffering. His father welcomed such a heroic decision. Like many combatants, he meets many challenges but he stood firm. In Kigali, Dorothy's family is massacred and her rapist only forgets to kill her. The sisters are routinely raped too. Sending Bayingana into exile and raping Dorothy is symbolic. It symbolises that though Rwanda's past had been 'killed' by the colonialists, the Genocide regime becomes busy oppressing the future generation. The film describes how despite the hardships, RPF was gathering those who managed to escape the brutal machetes. They are collecting bodies from trenches, pits, and banana plantations and taking them for decent burials. When the RPF finally takes over power, Bayingana was showered with joy to re-join his long-time lover. Despite the abuse inflicted upon her by the Interahamwe, Bayingana marries Dorothy and later are seen in a shopping supermarket with a kid they adopted living happily with his wife and family. He is also seen teaching prisoners' of war and uniting them in government. The film ends on reconciliation and unity tone, a sign of hope for the new government. The story teaches that those who are oppressed are supposed to struggle against the enemies of the people. Being brothers or speaking one language does not necessarily protect your rights.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sicko - by Michael Moore - FREE

The links with the #1: Click them and you’ll go to a website page where you Press Play to watch parts one & two of the movie Sicko, by Michael Moore.

The links with the #2: You can Save them to your hard drive. Or cut & paste them into your internet browser address bar.

Links for Pt. One

#1 http://insanefilms.com/?p=413

#2 http://media.podshow.com/media/236/episodes/65858/insanefilms-65858-06-16-2007.mp4

Links for Pt. Two

#1 http://insanefilms.com/?p=415

#2 http://media.podshow.com/media/220/episodes/65985/yeastradio-65985-06-18-2007.mp4


"Loving-kindness (maitri) toward ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away or become something better. It's about befriending who we are already." - Pema Chodron, *Comfortable with Uncertainty*
INTERVIEW WITH ROB by Glen Starkey of the San Luis Obispo New Times http://www.newtimesslo.com/ GLEN STARKEY: Your book "PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia" isn't so much about astrology as it is about philosophy. How does what you do in your weekly "Free Will Astrology" column connect to what your book is about? ROB BREZSNY: The book is a discussion of the philosophy that underlies and informs the column. I believe everyone's life is a labyrinth with a reward at the center, not a minefield in which fear should be one's primary guide. I explain why in the book. GLEN STARKEY: As I read it, your book is about training oneself to see the world through optimistic eyes, to not dwell on the occasional bad thing that happens and instead focus on all the things that go right, every day,all the time. What led you to this idea? ROB BREZSNY: Let me comment on the first statement. It's true that I urge people not to dwell on the occasional bad thing that happens. However, it's important to note that pronoia doesn't ask you to ignore or suppress problems. On the contrary, just as pronoiacs retrain themselves to notice and feel gratitude for all the beauty and largesse in the world, they also retrain themselves to see every problem as a gift that is designed to make them smarter, kinder, and more fully alive. As for what led me to these ideas: I'm a natural-born rebel; I enjoy identifying the conventional wisdom in every situation, and turning it on its head. Today the conventional wisdom is that everything is falling apart, that the world is a terrible place to live, that bad things predominate. The most taboo possibility of all is the idea that the world is full of beauty and that life is on our side. I gravitate toward that perspective because everything in my life has confirmed it and because my job is to do everything I can to overthrow the status quo. GLEN STARKEY: Are you able to put into practice all that your book suggests, or is attempting to exert pronoia an ongoing struggle? ROB BREZSNY: I am by no means a master of pronoia. But I enjoy the struggle to immunize myself against the insane culture-wide obsession with pathology; I enjoy the hard work of retraining myself to bask in the nonstop flood of daily miracles. GLEN STARKEY: If you were to tell someone one thing in your book that's the most important tidbit of knowledge, what would it be? ROB BREZSNY: You always get exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. Not exactly what you want, exactly what you want, mind you. Life unfailingly presents you with what your soul needs, which isn't necessarily what your ego wants. GLEN STARKEY: Who should read this book, and who shouldn't? ROB BREZSNY: Who shouldn't read this book: Cynics whose entire identity and self-image are wrapped up in being cynical. My book may be unlikely to crack through their fanatical bias against admitting how much beauty and blessing the world is filled with, but if it did they would most likely suffer from a nervous breakdown. Who should read this book: everyone else.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

55 Essential Articles Every Serious Blogger Should Read

June 4th, 2007 by Matt Huggins <----- LOSER

243 Goats Die in Marin County: Some Things Reveal Our Humanity More Than Others

From: http://artofstarving.wordpress.com/

Quick post on the absurdity of our modern day, interstate dilemma.

The mechanisms of our society as it is requires the acceptance of minor horrors, but every now and then they catch up to us, the trailer tips over, our sacrificial blood spills out on the intersection while onlookers gasp and are reminded of our mundane cruelty.The necessary yet cruel reality of our dominance and economic logic.

A truck carrying 400 goats used to clear brush from Bay Area hillsides turned over on a Milpitas-to-Mill-Valley run Friday morning, killing more than 240 animals.

The 32-foot truck, from Orinda-based Goats R Us, turned over in San Rafael, when the driver pulled off the freeway to get a cup of coffee, according to San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher.

I’m not a card-carrying member of PETA, nor am I blind to the need to transport livestock, eat it, use it, whatever. Life requires all the animals the do what it takes to survive. The owl needn’t consider the mouse. We’re hardly more evolved than a barn owl. However, we shouldn’t let economics override our care for the animals that give us great service. The old Native-American way of looking at things. That we don’t own the earth but it owns us in a way.

Did they need to carry 400 goats in the trailer? Doesn’t this just naturally lend itself to disaster, mistakes, and accidents?

San Rafael police Sgt. Mike Vergara said the truck may have been going too fast while making a left turn onto Kerner Boulevard. It tipped over, perhaps as the weight of goats shifted in the truck.

The animals were stacked four deep in tiered shelving units in the 13-foot-tall truck. The steel shelves separating the animals were strewn through the wreckage

That being said, once disaster struck the authorities were overprotecting drivers’ risk of accident over the goat’s welfare. They were trapping the goats underneath themselves, effectively strangling them, rather than allowing them to break free and be herded.

A certain amount of humanity is required here, an on the spot call to do the right thing, rather than make the calculation that traffic accidents and property damage were more important than hundreds of live animals we’ve just threw into carnage and death in steel trappings.

“They were screaming, screaming, screaming to get out,’ said Terri Oyarzun, owner of Goats R Us, an Orinda, California, company that rents goats for grazing brush that poses fire hazards. “They died because the police wouldn’t let them out of the trailer.”


Police at the scene were so concerned with controlling traffic and preventing another accident that they disregarded pleas by the goat’s herder to free the trapped animals, which could have been corralled away from traffic, Oyarzun said.

“Those goats didn’t have die,” she said. “It wasn’t necessary. We had herding dogs.”

Police could have established a traffic perimeter and a pen and allowed the dogs to do what they do, and saved dozens, perhaps hundreds of goats. Instead they took the simple route of sending the goats to their death.

I would have took the human in the 2-ton cars’ chances over the unlucky goat that escaped only to get in its way.

As a final reckoning I say we let the 150 remaining goats free to graze somewhere on a grassy hill far away from any interstates for the rest of their days.

Monday, July 09, 2007

From Cyc @ http://pan-psychist.blogspot.com

The Weird Converter

Ever had the need to know how many giraffe's necks is required to make a Weinermobile? How about how many Shaquille O'Neil's it would take to make the Wall of China? Then it is your lucky day! Give the Weird Converter a spin for converting completely useless, yet oddly intriguing combinations.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Militarization of American Youth

Published by cyrano2

by Bryn Lloyd-Bollard


Across the country, the U.S. military is failing to meet its recruitment goals. To address this problem, the Pentagon has been rapidly expanding its programs designed to entice young people to enlist. It is now spending $3.4 billion dollars annually, an average of $14,000 per new recruit. Using flashy marketing campaigns, television spots, and even developing its own videogames, the Army is bombarding young people with images that glorify guns and violence. Recruiters use elaborate PR strategies: they set up shop at malls, movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts, and they cruise around town in decked-out Humvees that blast music popular among teenagers.

The military presence in our nation’s public schools is growing at an alarming rate. Educational institutions in working-class areas are prime targets of military recruiters, who particularly stalk the corridors of vocational schools. The military considers students to be easy targets who can be manipulated into signing up by promising them career training, money for college, free travel, and adventure. Recruiters are PR experts; like drug dealers and tobacco company representatives, they market a dangerous product with side effects they don’t want their potential customers to know about.

While recruiters tell students that they can receive $70,000 for college through the Montgomery GI Bill, the average payout to veterans is only $2,151. To be eligible for educational benefits, soldiers must commit to serving three years on active duty and must also pay a nonrefundable “deposit” to the military of $100 a month for a year. Considering that only 43% of the soldiers who sign up for the program receive any money, the majority who seek financial assistance through the GI Bill actually end up paying the military $1,200 and get nothing in return. And a soldier who does get the average payment of $2,151 actually receives only $951 beyond his or her own contribution. Only 15% of all recruits graduate with a four-year degree.

The skills learned in the military are often nontransferable to civilian employment, and many people find themselves in need of retraining after leaving the armed services. Veterans in the 20-34 age bracket have a higher unemployment rate than non-veterans and those who are employed typically earn 12% to 15% less. Most people would be surprised to learn that veterans make up one-third of all homeless people and half of all homeless men. While in the military, 65% of enlistees state that they are not satisfied with their current jobs.

There is a variety of other less-than-flattering statistics about the military that recruiters fail to mention. People of color represent 1/3 of all enlisted personnel but only 1/8 of the officers. Nearly 90% of women in the military report being sexually harassed, and 1/3 report being raped. In addition to the more than 3,500 US men and women who have died in the current war in Iraq, tens of thousands have been wounded and are returning home with traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other serious illnesses related to exposure to the depleted uranium used in US munitions.

Recruiters are under enormous pressure to meet their quota of two recruits a month, which requires them to contact an average of 120 potential enlistees over that time. Since fewer than 10% of all recruits seek out military employment on their own, recruiters face the daunting task of finding the large majority of new military recruits. Thus it’s no surprise that a central recruiting tactic is a combination of deception and omission. One recruiter recently interviewed in The Boston Globe characterized his work: “You have to convince those little punks to do something…I figure if I can sell this, I can sell anything.” By the Army’s own count, there were 320 substantiated cases of what it calls recruitment improprieties in 2004, up from 199 in 1999, and 213 in 2002. The offenses varied from threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq. The number of those investigated rose to 1,118 in 2004, or nearly one in five of all recruiters, up from 913 in 2002, or one in eight. A recruiter interviewed by the New York Times said it best, “The problem is that no one wants to join [and] we have to play fast and loose with the rules to get by.”


The military manual for the high school recruiters offers us a window into their strategies. It suggests that recruiters make themselves “indispensable” to schools and that, in addition to the wealth of student data currently given to recruiters by school administrations, recruiters should access informal sources of information such as school yearbooks. Also stating that it is “only natural for a potential enlistee to resist,” the manual suggests ways to turn aside objections and lists techniques for closing the deal, such as the Challenge Close. It advises that the Challenge Close works best with young men, and that “You must be careful how you use this one. You must be on friendly terms with your prospect, or this may backfire. When you find difficulty in closing, particularly when your prospect’s interest seems to be waning, challenge his ego by suggesting that basic training may be too difficult for him and he might not be able to pass it. Then, if he accepts your challenge, you will be a giant step closer to getting him to enlist.”

Despite the fact that the military is hazardous to young people’s education and their future careers—not to mention their lives—the No Child Left Behind Act makes it easier for the military to gain direct access to students. The Act contains a little known provision that threatens to take away federal funding if a school refuses to hand over to the Military personal information about its students, including names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Before the law went into effect, 1/3 of all high schools in the country felt it inappropriate to give out this information to recruiters. The law now coerces schools into giving the military unimpeded access. By law, parents may request that information about their child be kept private, yet there is no system in place that informs parents or students of these rights, so many remain unaware.

The Pentagon also gets information about students through administering its Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB). This test is offered to schools free of charge, and while it is marketed as a way to help students choose between a variety of military and civilian careers, the test is primarily designed to assess a person’s military qualifications. When a student takes the exam, their contact information and test scores are automatically sent to recruiters, who may use the information as they see fit.


Another major way in which the military attracts young people is through the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program, which the Pentagon has been enthusiastically expanding since early 1990s. There are currently 500,000 students, aged 14 and over, enrolled in JROTC programs throughout the country. The JROTC claims that its goal is “to motivate young people to be better citizens” by “teaching high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to the community, personal responsibility,and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline.” In the program, teenagers are taught military-style drills and are given military-style discipline. All JROTC recruits drill with weapons and study military history, and 90% of them are trained to use guns. The US Army insists that the JROTC is not a recruiting tool or public relations ploy designed to give the military a better face, yet half of all JROTC graduates join the military. Of these, only one-third enter a higher education program. William Cohen, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, bluntly told Congress in February 2000 that the JROTC is “one of the best recruiting devices we could have.”

The government initially set up JROTC as an elective high school class. However, many schools have begun to enroll students in the program automatically. Federal law mandates that at least 100 students or 10% of the student body must be enrolled in each JROTC unit in order to maintain the program in a school. Thus, school administrators can feel pressured to bend, if not break, the rules regarding the voluntary nature of the program by making it difficult for students to find alternative courses. A JROTC unit costs a school an average of $75,000, which drains resources from other school activities and vital programs.

School administrators often think of JROTC as a good alternative for students who do not excel at academics or who have behavioral problems, but the JROTC track record at helping at-risk youth is far from perfect. Since 1990, there have been numerous violent incidents involving JROTC recruits. Murders, gang activity, sexual assaults, and violent hazing have been linked JROTC instructors, members, and graduates. Rather than teaching students about peaceful alternatives, the JROTC promotes violence by teaching students to use guns and to take part in mindless drills that train them to follow orders without hesitation and without thought.


In response to the growing military presence in schools throughout the country, counter-recruitment efforts have also been growing. In 1986, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, schools creating a forum for proponents of the military must also provide equal access for those with opposing points of view. Counter recruitment programs help students understand the real implications of military service and educate them about alternatives to military enlistment and ways to get out once already signed up.

The majority of young people who join the military enlist through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which allows them up to a year before they must report for active duty training. Many of these recruits are unaware that they have the option of leaving the military during the time period before training begins. All they need to do is write a letter requesting separation that fully explains the reasons why the recruit is unable or unwilling to serve. While the military defines specific separation categories, almost any reason is acceptable so long as the recruit states clearly that he or she is no longer interested in serving in the military.


To reduce the chances of being selected during a draft, there are a couple things young people can do. When turning 18, all males are supposed to register with the Selective Service and join the draft-ready pool of their peers. However, they can actually wait until their 26th birthday before registering. While federal Government threatens a fine of $250,000 and a maximum of five years in prison for those who don’t register, there are no known recent cases of this being imposed. State penalties vary and include denial of admittance to public colleges and universities, denial of state employment and denial of student financial aid. States are also beginning to link drivers’ licenses to selective service registration.

When filling out the selective service form, the registrant has the option of registering as a conscientious objector (CO). A CO writes that he is totally opposed to war and cannot conceive of any situation where he would be willing or able to take the life of another human. This statement can be written on the margins of the selective service form and/or in a separate letter. He should make a copy for his records, place it in a sealed envelope, mail it to himself, and keep it, along with additional personal documentation that shows he is against war (for example, journal entries, articles, letters, poems, and the like).

In addition to having a complete understanding of the disparities between what recruiters say about military service and the reality, young people are advised to take some precautionary steps when meeting with recruiters. They should take along a family member and/or a trusted ally as a witness and advocate and have them read over the enlistment agreement. Potential recruits should always ask questions about parts of the agreement they don’t understand and should keep a copy for their records. They should be truthful about their police records and medical conditions and not allow recruiters to falsify documents on their behalf. They should know that everything about their service contract is negotiable but that the military can override any contract in a time of crisis (as is the case with Stop Loss orders). Enlistees should also be aware that spoken promises are worthless and should require the recruiter to put all of his or her promises in writing.


Militarism in our schools is an issue of serious and growing importance. Using a variety of clever tricks and persuasive tactics, the Pentagon takes advantage of our nation’s youth, especially the underprivileged, by marketing dead-end military jobs. With its vast budget and immense political power, the military is trying to sell itself as a cure for our country’s social and economic problems, even in the face of considerable evidence showing that a military career can cut short a student’s education and make it even harder to find a productive livelihood. Despite its best efforts, however, military recruitment rates continue to decline. This testifies to the fact that the real implications of military service are slowly gaining widespread attention and that counter-recruitment campaigns are succeeding. As the antiwar movement and all people concerned about the welfare of our nation’s youth continue to expose the military’s lies about enlistment, it will become more and more difficult for the Pentagon to continue fighting its wars abroad and to mislead and misuse the country’s young citizens at home.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pop Occulture Blog....

[Thanks Tim!!] http://www.timboucher.com/journal/2005/04/29/celebrity-tarot-additions/

[For more info on the celebrity/pop culture tarot and a complete card listing, go here.]

Here are a few more that I put together today. First up is “The Corpsoration.”

He’s basically the corporate zombie. I was thinking in particular about how corporations legally have some of the same rights as individual real live humans, and how that’s sort of fucked up. That got me thinking about how people sometimes “become” sort of zombies when they are working for a corporation. They lose their head, or sort of stumble around trying to “eat your brains”… that kind of thing. The little globes represent the corporate zombie trying to take over the world. I originally had him standing on the globe. But didn’t want to give him that kind of power. Instead, I depicted several alternate worlds, none of which is fully dominated by him. Also, I wanted to include within the card a protection against it, or it’s own undoing. So if you flip the card upside down, you will see the little girl. Innocence, the life-source. Above her is a sign indicating protection from the Corpsoration - invoked in the ill-dignified position of the card.

This card is just called “100 Dollars” or the Hundred Dollar Bill, or something like that. I wanted to leave it slightly ambiguous as far as the wording. This card was inspired by something in a Hakim Bey lecture I listened to yesterday. He said that money was the “sexuality of the dead.” It only begets itself, and it is itself not alive. I also combined that with the idea classically of Pluto or Hades as being the lord of both the underworld and of money. I guess the underworld god was in charge of money since precious metal was mined from the earth, and the earth both presents and preserves all other kinds of treasures - including our dead bodies. There’s also a reference to the Voodoo figure, Baron Samedi. And he has on his hat the classic pentacle of the Tarot deck - sometimes understood as “coins or money.” I thought maybe this would make a good equivalent or alternative to the Ace of Pentacles. Aces often signify the sort of impulse into existence of a force, which develops through particular suit. I also included the disney dog Pluto upside down for the ill-dignified position. It looks like he’s descending from heaven this way. It’s a play on the Roman Pluto, the expression “all dogs go to heaven” and various other mythological dogs of the dead. In the regular Tarot, there are also cards which support one another. I imagine this card would support The Corpsoration, and vice versa. You might be able to say something like this card is the impulse which gives “life” to the Corpsoration. But since it’s an underworld impulse, the best it can do is to create a sort of inauthentic, incomplete version of an entity, thus the corporate zombie.

This is a reworking of an image I made a while ago. It’s called “Surveillance” and the pyramids reference the seal on the back of the dollar bill, with the All-Seeing Masonic Eye. They are also sort of satellites that can see and hear everything - even into your thoughts. It could also be translated maybe as “omnipotence”. Or you could look at the card as meaning something like watching and waiting for the right moment - gathering information before you make your move. It doesn’t necessarily need to be sinister in its connotations. Although it could also indicate something like you feel like you’re under too much scrutiny right now, and you just need a break.

If anybody has alternate or additional interpretations of ideas about these cards and what they could mean, feel free to add them. Oh, and also if anybody has a better name than “Celebrity Tarot” to describe the deck that we’re building, I’m all ears. It originally was going to be all celebrities, but it maybe should have a broader name than that.


One other point I want to make: people talk about how the purpose of the Tarot partially was to transmit “secret teachings” but do it using the cloak of symbols which were common at the time. Seems like we ought to consider this. Obviously, all of us in the “counter-culture” have pretty strong views about what’s right and what’s not, and these ideas are not usually expressed by mainstream culture. So it’s a nice “Fuck you to the Old Man” if we can take images from what he dishes out, and warp them to meet our own ends. People call this sort of thing “culture-jamming” sometimes, but I find most of that stuff to be pretty masturbatory. Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that don’t feel like you shouldn’t be “pushing an agenda” with your cards and their meanings. It’s obviously already headed pretty strongly in that direction, so let’s run with it and see what we can build out of the “ruins of the dying civilization”.


Speaking of dying civilizations, I just thought of another one! Check it out: The Wildman!

Here’s your typical Bigfoot character. But if you look carefully, he’s standing amidst the ruins of a vanished civilization, which has been overgrown by forest. He’s your anti-civilization urge. He’s your “You know to survive after the Apocalypse hits” instincts. He’s your “grow your hair long and run through the forest naked” impulse. You’ll also notice that inside his stomach is a beer keg. I added that because I think for most people nowadays, their Wildman archetype is unfortunately mostly unleashed only during kegstands and other drunken frat-house rituals. There’s also a recycling symbol in the trees as the ecological movement in a lot of ways stems from reconnecting with him on a social scale. He also has a little wolf companion and guide, who’s standing deeper into the woods, also playing atop the ruins of civilization. He’s sort of the antithesis of the Corpsoration.

Oh, one more thing: Don’t worry about overlapping or repeating anybody else’s symbolism or imagery when you’re designing your cards. The way I see it is we have the possibility to do hundreds of these cards. And it only makes sense that some of them are gonna be pretty similar, but with slightly different connotations…



  1. Love is the source of spiritual reality.
  2. Truth reveals Love into our reality.
  3. Beauty is our perceptual response to the in-breaking of Truth.
  4. Joy is the soul’s recognition of and reunion with spiritual reality.

The simple act of †Telling the Truth† is literally the only thing which effects real and lasting changes upon our reality, because it †transmutes the Fake into the Real. The act of Prophesy¤ is the speaking forward of †transformative Truths Into Reality™. Avarah K’Davarah - I will create as I speak.

Actually, “Abracadabra” isn’t a bad (evil) term. Yet it isn’t a word to play around with either. Some sources attribute it to the Aramaic language spoken by Christ and the people of His days on earth: “Avarah K’Davarah,” meaning “I will create as I speak.” Kabbalistic and Gnostic literature refer to it also with those meanings. Other sources trace it to the Hebrew phrase “ha brachah dabarah” or “Speak the blessing”. Used as an amulet to heal afflictions and rid oneself of evil, it was chanted, each successive verse reducing the phrase letter by letter until reaching the beginning (and the end), the Alpha.

Perhaps you knew all this or are wondering why I am introducing it to you if you don’t. The meaning of words, along with their sounds, contain great power and so we best be acquainted with them. A very common example is the use of “Amen.” Many use it as “The End” to prayers, but it means “It is the truth” or “So be this truth.” So in some scriptural translations, when Jesus begins with, “Amen, Amen I say to you…” He is, in a way, using the meaning of Abracadabra: “I am creating as I speak, for this is Truth.” “Amen” is sacred language…

“In the beginning, God said…” (Genesis 1). Those words reflect the meaning of abracadabra: I create by speaking; I speak a blessing into physical existence.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…Through him [the Word] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1, 3).









There are two kinds of suffering: the first is caused by ignorance of the Truth. For one must first learn how to recognize the Truth. This is the gift of discernment and originates within the heart. The Truth is recognized by the rapid and spontaneous beating of one’s heart (your heart “leaps into your throat”) and the consequent clamping down as your autonomic systems try to reassert normal control. Your body’s equilibrium is thrown off, you get hot, sweaty, goosebumps, etc. This is typically pretty similar to the fear/panic response of your body: because when something scares you or suddenly threatens you, it’s because it reflects some kind of truth or the truth of some immediate danger. And the Truth is of course dangerous and scary because it tears down illusions. (And how do you like that, as I described those states within the body, I experienced them and unlocked Truth behind an uncomfortable illusion I myself was holding on to.)

The second kind of suffering is caused by knowledge of the Truth and willful rejection of it. I think, but am not sure, that this is what they are talking about in terms of Venial versus Mortal Sin. Venial sins I guess are the “better” ones:

According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin (meaning “forgivable” sin) is a lesser sin which does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in Hell… Each venial sin that one commits adds to the penance that one must do. Penance left undone during life converts to punishment in purgatory. A venial sin can be left unconfessed.

Venial sins usually remain venial no matter how many one commits. They cannot “add up” to collectively constitute a mortal sin, except in certain cases of theft, where one steals a very small amount of money or goods many times.

Which makes Mortal sins the really crappy ones:











According to the beliefs of Roman Catholicism, a mortal sin is a sin that, unless confessed and absolved (or at least sacramental confession is willed if not available), condemns a person’s soul to Hell after death… Sin is defined by St. Augustine as something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law.

So I guess if you’re in Purgatory then that means you are just doing penance for the small shit. And if you’re in Hell then it’s because you did something really bad: that you knew was bad and did anyway. That I think is the second kind of suffering. The way out is through “confession” which simply means speaking Truth to whomever it needs to be spoken to (usually yourself and at least one other person for a “TRUTH EXCHANGE”), because Truth is a corrective for both illusion and for suffering. Forgive is for to give. Forget is for to get.

I think “suffering” is a more useful word than “sin” here, because sin is so, well, tainted. I mean, I guess that’s the point, but oh well. (Incidentally, the way to get to Heaven is to align yourself utterly with the Truth, especially when it directly contradicts perceptual and rational reality: “Two doctors contradicting each other are a pair of docs paradox”. The Truth cannot contradict itself, but it regular contradicts reality.)







I think the real point of all this - in my experience - is that to know the Truth and to not Tell it into existence through right action and right speech (Prophecy) is to allow yourself to be destroyed piece by piece and yet find no peace. You gradually float out of existenzce as your heart downgives in to an institutional illusion within. Remember. Repentence. Repermanence. Forgive is for to give. Forget is for to get. Say these phrases as my mad mantras, Samaritan, Shantaram:

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The “Living Water” is poison which must be transmuted. (I am speculating but it feels right)

It doesn’t matter what is “real.” It only matters what is True, because Truth is the foundation and wellspring of reality, and not the other way around. You cannot always trust your eyes or your other senses to tell you what is real, but you may always trust your heart to tell you what is True, because it knows. It itself is made of Truth and so it recognizes itself.

You write your wish and it re-writes reality. Write wright, right?

The Lord said: “Tell them you’re not real, you’re me.”

Don’t bother trying to write “original songs.” Write songs we all know in our hearts are about our origins.






We are only a rendition in a repetition expedition tradition. When I asked it the question I asked you it said “Eternal” which is what my heart already knew as True and Beautiful.

The Truth hides itself so that it may be recognized and thereby ignite Joy in our souls.

The purpose of Time is allow us to ceaselessly recognize the Beauty in each single moment, each configuration of souls upon the stage and the beautiful frequencies the various instruments have when arranged differently. The illusion of Time is only held together by dramatic tension. When tension falls to zero, time ceases. When tension slows down considerably, your physical eyes adjust focus and you’re likely to see ghosts, and the shades of overlapping time periods laminated across your own. This is spiritual apperception of time as opposed to ordinary.

It’s not that the world is flat, but that the screen is flat. If you look hard you can see the smarticles. This is where UFO’s come from. This is how you can tune the moon, once you can see astrological charts in the sky.

The way they heal people in Christian Science is by Telling the Truth to illnesses that they are not real, but more importantly revealing to a person’s heart and soul that they are healthy and well. Truth is always phrased in the positive. Recursion ends when Truth is spoken forward¤








Raphael = God Has Healed = RA¤ FA¤ EL¤ = RFL = RFLMAO = Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off = Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street.”

If your hopes should start to fade, just kinda pretend you’ll get them again…

A thank you thank you to Thank You Thank You for revealing these elements of Truth.

[Some games you win no matter the outcome. The female mannequin is back again. I wouldn’t have thought of that as good news until now. It’s going to be a moon money monkey month, apparently!]


ZEITGEIST, The Movie - Official Release - Full Film


The Next (& Best) Mayor of San Francisco - Josh Wolf

July 6th, 2007

Campaign Update

First off, I’ll be at the Noe Valley Farmers Market as well as Delores Park gathering signatures and donations tomorrow. I need to gather about 10,000 signatures, $5,000 or a combination thereof by the beginning of August to qualify for the ballot.

Taking a cue from Chicken John’s campgain, I’ve created a Word Document that those who live in San Francisco can print out and pass around to help gather signatures. In order for these sheets to be counted they must be printed two-sided on one sheet of paper. If you have collected any sheets for me, thank you, and please e-mail me to arrange pick-up.

I’ve also established a campaign bank account and wired it up to pay pal in order to solicit campaign contributions. If for some reason I am unable to raise the funds and signatures needed to get on the ballot, I will donate all funds in the account to the League of Young Voters. This month’s goal is to gather one hundred $50 donations; if I can do this then all of the signatures we can gather will go towards actually having money for supplies and my place on the ballot will be secured. To donate please go here:

Finally, I’ve started a list-serve for those interested in helping with the campaign or just looking to hear about what’s going on with the race.


LDF recipient Wolf to run for SF mayor

Josh Wolf, the recipient of the largest Legal Defense Fund grant in history, has announced he is running for mayor of San Francisco.

SPJ gave Wolf, a freelance videographer and blogger, $30,000 in August. Wolf has the record as the journalist who has spent the longest time in jail. He spent 226 days behind bars.

The traditional news outlets don't have a lot on this. The ABC station in San Francisco has this.

Gavin Newsom is the current mayor of San Francisco.

Wolf, 24, does have one interesting plank in his platform for open government types. A pledge to have as much of the city business he conducts open to the public as possible:

Open Government: As mayor I will wear a mounted streaming camera while working on all official business so that the public can take part in a truly open and transparent government. It may be possible that city codes dictate that certain meetings be confidential, in which case I will have a notice posted explaining why I am offline.

posted by DaveAeikens

The Chicano Survivor of The Hate Crime Beating Takes His Own Life

Put forth by XicanoPwr

If you recall, David Ritcheson was the Latino teen, who was brutally beat, tortured, and sodomized with a plastic pole by two white racist teenagers, David Henry Tuck and Keith Robert Turner. This all occurred one year ago and sadly, David could no longer conceal his pain because on the morning of July 1, he leaped to his death by jumping off from an upper deck of a Carnival Cruise ship (h/t anna at Sepia Mutiny and Stace at Dos Centavos).

We really were not told much about him by the media except that he was a Mexican-American, who was running back on the Klein Collins High School football team and was the homecoming prince as a freshman. Most notably people remember him as the victim of a hate crime that took place on April 22, 2006 at the home of Gus Sons that was triggered by an accusation that David tried to kiss Danielle Sons, Gus’ the underage sister. What we have been told through various media outlets is that David was stomped and burned with cigarettes, and his attackers poured bleach on him before leaving him for dead. After his brutal assault, he was hospitalized for more than three months and underwent through 30 operations. What seems very odd is why Gus, and friend he met at Highpoint North, an alternative school where David was sent for fighting, didn’t call the police until the next day. According to Mike Trent, Assistant District Attorney for Harris County, there was more to the story than what actually was being reported by the media.

In the 2007 Jan/Feb edition of Journal of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, Trent wrote that Gus, a small-time drug dealer, were already friends with Tuck and Turner and “Gus’ nickname for Tuck was “Skinhead David” because of Tuck’s shaved head, bigoted views, and neo-Nazi tattoos.” The fight started when Tuck spewed his racial venom against Latina/os when he referred to them as “wetbacks.” An intense argument broke out between Tuck and David. According to Trent (note - You will notice Trent changed David’s name to Billy Reyes and I am not sure why this was done. Warning: the text contains graphic detail of the heinous crime):

Not long thereafter Gus discovered that his bag of narcotics, some of which he had picked up at the Crawfish Festival, was missing. Upset at the prospect of losing more than $300 worth of drugs, Gus asked Billy about them, and Billy denied stealing the drugs. A short time later, as Gus, Tuck, and Turner were smoking on the front porch, the highly inebriated Billy attempted to kiss Danielle. Danielle reported it to Gus, who then confronted Billy. Tuck accused Billy of stealing the drugs and trying to rape Danielle, both of which Billy denied. Without any further warning, Tuck slugged Billy in the face hard enough to knock him into a dog kennel. Billy just lay there, too drunk and stoned to get up. Sensing easy prey, Tuck and Turner dragged Billy into the backyard. Gus again accused Billy of kissing Danielle, hit him once in the chest, and backed off. That ended Gus’ participation but not the assault.

Tuck and Turner began kicking, beating, and stomping Billy Reyes, Tuck wearing black, steel-toe boots, one of which was emblazoned with a swastika. Yelling “Beaner!” and other racial epithets, Tuck inflicted most of the damage. After one especially vicious kick, Tuck shouted “White power!” and gave a Nazi salute. Unable to fight back or defend himself in any way, Billy just lay there and took it, mumbling and groaning occasionally. Undeterred, or more accurately encouraged by the lack of resistance, Tuck and Turner began stripping off Billy’s clothing.

“If you had any white in you, you would be helping me,” Tuck told Gus. He then pulled out a silver pocketknife. When Gus started to protest, Tuck only glared at him. “Don’t bitch out on me now,” he told the frightened Gus, and began slashing at Billy’s bare chest. He was making superficial wounds, almost as if he was trying to draw something. Detectives would later come to believe Tuck was attempting to carve a swastika.

Taking the cigarette, [Tuck] began touching the tip of it to Billy’s bare skin, burning him on the arms, legs, back, and buttocks. Turner lit up another cigarette and joined in. Finally, Turner put the cigarette out right between Billy’s eyes. Tuck chuckled, “Now he looks like a f***ing Hindu!”

Billy could no longer speak because Tuck had stomped on his throat hard enough to break one of his tracheal rings. All he could manage was a weak, agonized moan. He lay there a few feet from the patio, naked and helpless. And now it was Turner who had an idea.

Walking over to the patio table where Gus was, Turner grabbed a pipe standing in the center of it. It was a white pipe made of PVC that served as the lower half of some long-forgotten umbrella. … The lower half abruptly tapered to a sinister, conical point. Turner carried it over to where Billy lay facedown on the ground.

Squatting beside him, Turner shoved the white pole between Billy’s buttocks and into his rectum, making sure that the sharp point was inside the anus. He then looked up at Tuck and, holding the pole with the blunt end angled upward, motioned with his head. Taking the invitation, Tuck viciously stomped on the blunt end of the pole with the bottom of his combat boot as hard as he could. Billy moaned sharply. Turner laughed. Tuck stomped the pole a second time even harder. Doctors later estimated that the pointed pipe went 8–10 inches inside Billy’s body, rupturing his bladder and colon in the process.

While Turner tossed Billy’s shoes over the fence and began burning his clothing in a barbecue grill, Tuck returned to a frightened Gus. “Do you have any bleach?” he demanded. “We’ve got to get rid of the evidence.” Gus shook his head no, but Tuck knew where the laundry room was and went inside to look for himself. He returned with a full bottle and a warning glare for Gus. “If you tell anyone about this, I’ll kill you,” he said, walking to the edge of the backyard where Billy lay, the pole still inside him. Turner joined him there.

Taking the cap off the bleach, Tuck poured the bottle into Billy’s face, eyes, and open mouth. He poured bleach all over Billy’s naked body, poured it down the pipe and into his traumatized abdomen as well. (Even seven months later at the trial, Billy still had visible areas of skin the bleach had burned off. The physicians who treated him did not think that bleach could account for the reaction they saw in Billy’s immune system. They believe other chemicals, perhaps something like acetone, were poured on and in him.)

And at last, it was over. It had probably been around midnight when the confrontation began. Tuck and Turner had taken their time with Billy, as if savoring each moment of torment. It was now past 3 a.m. Leaving their victim for dead, the two leisurely went inside, warning Gus of the consequences if he reported them to the police. Scared and ashamed, shaking from the drugs he had taken and from what he had witnessed, Gus did nothing. He went inside and passed out on his living room couch. When he came to later that morning, it was around 9:45. Going outside to feed the dog, he saw Billy’s naked body in the backyard, and everything came rushing back. Running inside, he pounded on his mother’s door and yelled for her to call 911. Then he helped Billy inside to the kitchen table. Billy had lain injured in the backyard for at least six hours.

Gus, who had popped more alprazolam while the police were on their way, lied and claimed to know nothing about the assault. Danielle, who had witnessed the beating from the sunroom and her upstairs bedroom window, also feigned ignorance.

There is more, Trent mentioned that Gus and Danielle “had not been honest with detectives initially and had minimized their own involvement in the offense.” He also mentions that during the investigation Tuck stated that Danielle Sons sexually assaulted the victim with the pipe, but due to “legal warnings” that statement was suppressed. However, there could be some amount of reality to what Tuck had said; according to Trent, Danielle was “cold and sullen” and “showed no emotion” when she was on the stand. In fact, when she was questioned on how she injuryed her big toe, which was noticeably bruised the next day according to witnesses, she claimed she had stubbed it on a curb.

The obvious question is what drives people like Tuck and Tuner to muster up such a strong feeling of hatred towards another human being. Hatred so strong that lead to an assault that was intended to strip David Ritcheson of his personal identity and degrade him to an object that could be insulted and sodomized.

Earlier this year, President Bush vowed to veto the expansion of the hate crimes bill that would have would have broaden the federal authority to aid state and local law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin and color, as well as sexual orientation, gender and disability. Bush’s reason was that his “senior advisor’s” AKA James Dodson, of socially conservative lobbying group Focus on the Family, felt that it would “muzzle people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality.” What Dodson refuses to see is that the hate crimes bill is not intended to go after people like him and is ilk who enjoy spewing venom diatribes at a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the law is intended to go after the criminal actions motivated by this bias.

The sad truth, hate crimes are motivated by a deep hatred toward particular groups and their intent is not only to hurt their victims but also to send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs. For example, Gus withheld his ethnicity from Tuck knowing how he felt towards minorities. Without hate-crimes legislation that makes such a connection between bias and intention explicit, many jurors will continue not to equate a generalized racial/sexual/religious/disability intention to a specific hatred of an individual enemy.

Although David Ritcheson remembers nothing of his attack, he did testify about it during a congressional hearing back in April on the pending hate-crimes bill, H.R. 1592, the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.”

Weeks later I recall waking up in the hospital with a myriad of emotions, including fear and uncertainty. Most of all, I felt inexplicable humiliation. Not only did I have to face my peers and my family, I had to face the fact that I had been targeted for violence in a brutal crime because of my ethnicity. This crime took place in middle-class America in the year 2006. The reality that hate is alive, strong, and thriving in the cities, towns, and cul-de-sacs of Suburbia, America was a surprise to me. America is the country I love and call home. However, the hate crime committed against me illustrates that we are still, in some aspects, a house divided. I know now that there are young people in this country who are suffering and confused, thirsting for guidance and in need of a moral compass. These are some of the many reasons I am here before you today asking that our government take the lead in deterring individuals like those who attacked me from committing unthinkable and violent crimes against others because of where they are from, the color of their skin, the God they worship, the person they love, or the way they look, talk or act.

As much as he truly wished the trauma would just go away “by not thinking about it,” the sad reality it was too much for him to bear. It might be that David was beginning to recall his horrific ordeal, Carlos Leon, the family’s attorney, told reporters that things were beginning to change over the last month or two, but declined to discuss specifics, just that David Ritcheson was starting “to externalize his pain” to his parents and other relatives.

David Ritcheson, may your soul be free of the demons that haunted you, your memory be remembered, and may you finally have found peace.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Put Away The Flags, by Howard Zinn

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power. National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves. Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy. That self-deception started early. When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession." When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country." It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war. We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people. As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness." We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture. Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies. How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"? One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him. We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history. We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation. * Howard Zinn, a World War II bombardier, is the author of the best- selling "A People's History of the United States" (Perennial Classics, 2003, latest edition). This piece was distributed by the Progressive Media Project. Email to: Progressive Media Project using our contact form.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

JOSH WOLF- "I’m running for mayor"

Posted by Josh in Uncategorized
Looking Serious Originally uploaded by Insurgent

Last month I attended the San Francisco Progressive Convention which was put together by Chris Daly in hopes of finding a progressive candidate for mayor of San Francisco. Unfortunately no viable candidates came out of the convention and both Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly both announced in the days that followed that they will not be running.

As of today, I have filed my declaration of intent to run for Mayor of San Francisco. I will be filing my paperwork with the ethics office tomorrow and will begin raising the signatures and funds needed for my campaign. More to come soon, but for now, I leave you with a rough draft of my platform as mayor of the city and county of San Francisco.

1) Open Government: As mayor I will wear a mounted streaming camera while working on all official business so that the public can take part in a truly open and transparent government. It may be possible that city codes dictate that certain meetings be confidential, in which case I will have a notice posted explaining why I am offline.

2) Crime: The homicide rate in San Francisco is out of control, and the Board’s plan for neighborhood policing is vital towards staving off this deplorable trend. I would like to adopt the Board’s plan and will work to expand it further to make foot patrols the dominant form of policing in the city and county of San Francisco.

3) Homelessness: There are far too many people in this city living without permanent shelter and something must be done to support these residents as they struggle to put their lives back together. As mayor I will work to develop a series of city beautification and beatification programs which will provide employment for those able to work. Unfortunately some significant portion of the homeless population is not physically or psychologically fit to join the work force, and I will be calling for the scores of homeless support organizations in San Francisco to join me and The City for a caucus to discuss how we can best work together to solve homelessness in San Francisco.

4) Public Transportation: Muni needs to be free for city residents, and I would like to see it free for visitors as well. I will look into passing on the additional cost to downtown business interests as well as exploring possible approaches towards taxing those who elect to use automobiles in The City. This could be done by establishing a fee for driving into the city or perhaps attaching fees to all vehicles registered within San Francisco.

5) Federal Funding: I will work to establish a ten-year plan to sever all federal funding from the city budget. While this is obviously an economically uncertain approach, the federal government’s money creates an unfortunate means for the Feds to intervene in all sorts of city business. My own incarceration is one such example, but far more pressing concerns include the mandates established under No Child Left Behind.

6) Gay Marriage: It is a shame that San Francisco is no longer offering marriage license’s to gay and lesbian couples. I propose that San Francisco look into offering a county marriage license to supplement the state documents The City now provides. Although the state of California refuses to support and honor gay marriage, the city and county of San Francisco should provide a way for people who love each other to formalize that love through marriage.

7) Medicinal Marijuana: The people of San Francisco have come out in support of medicinal marijuana in previous elections and it is of critical importance that The City continue to respect the voters’ wishes. San Francisco must make every effort to prevent Federal Law enforcement from interfering with state and local law and work to stop the harassment and intimidation of patients, their caregivers, and the dispensaries that serve our community.

8) Biking: I will partner with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to see that bike lanes are constructed on all major traffic thoroughfares.

9) Halloween: The annual Castro celebration has grown too large to safely accommodate the partygoers who gather each year. I will propose a plan to encourage every neighborhood that’s interested to host their own Halloween celebration. Doing so will decrease the massive crowds in the Castro and allow each neighborhood to develop an event that fits its own character. While this approach will certainly increase the demand on police resources I am convinced that it will actually result in safer and more enjoyable revelry for all.

10) Independence: As an avid supporter of a free and independent San Francisco, I will introduce a city ballot measure to provide an opportunity for the people of San Francisco to city sovereignty which I hope to derive from the ballot measure I helped draft three years ago. The residents of our city have united around at least three issues that are in direct contradiction with US policy (Iraq, gay marriage, and medical marijuana) and we should be given the opportunity to divorce ourselves from federal intervention on these and other issues of vital importance to our community.



Media Monitor: Kick a Man When He's Down (For the Count)

by: Paul Schmelzer

Fri Jul 06, 2007 at 8:13:15 AM

Josh Wolf runs for SF mayor: Minneapolis videoblogging pioneer Chuck Olsen -- who made the film Blogumentary and runs the daily vlog Minnesota Stories -- broke the news that controversial anarchist videographer Josh Wolf will run for mayor of San Francisco. After Olsen posted his video, Wolf announced his candidacy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Parallel Presentations of Reality

Reality is a presentation of the cyclic nature of our (perceived) life. Reality is shouting out to us, directing us consciously and subconsciously with “clues” to the purpose of this profound journey we call existence. These clues are a subtle and gradual enlightenment to a process so far beyond our evolved human comprehension, that they must be presented in small increments in order for us to facilitate the profound evolutionary journey of our Soul. Labels, explanations and definitions, although necessary in our Divine obligation of mutual guidance. They are many times, distractions to the ineffable concept of Soul, God and existence. Because of the sacred individuality of the Soul, there could never be a “default” explanation of who and where we are at any given moment. Reality is our own unique perception based on the experiences we have gathered in our journey. These experiences have enlightened us to a process that is in synch with our human comprehension. The illusion of this 3 dimensional reality is a metaphorical presentation of our human existence. This current reality as we perceive it is based on rhythms and cycles. This is what facilitates our ascension. This metaphysically perfected microcosm within the ever expanding macrocosm is constantly reminding us of the Divine significance of these cycles and rhythms. There is a conclusion that we must draw upon from these presentations our reality has illustrated. Our hearts beat to a rhythm. Since the beginning of man, we have shared delight in the beat of a drum. The algorithm of the Fibonacci Sequence is a revelation to the path of our ascension. The rhythmic pulse and cyclic actions are something to ponder as we instinctively adhere to all that possesses these “clues” to our Soul’s journey. The seasons teach us the evolution of life, as the phases of the moon teach us the cycles of our humanness. As the living Earth is affected by the planetary aspects, humans are equally affected in similar ways. Lifetimes are the “seasons” of our Soul. Our biorhythms “wax and wane” with the revolutions of the heavenly bodies. As we observe the Divine metamorphosis of the ever-changing Universe, we can understand the evolutionary unfolding of ourselves. This understanding will enable us to travel our path with greater ease, appreciation and insight into the magnitude of existence. Pay attention.

Immigration Reform Is Needed, After Bush

by Stewart A. Alexander Stewart Alexander, a presidential hopeful with the Peace and Freedom Party, says, “I believe Congress should work on comprehensive immigration reform after President Bush ends his term in office. I do not believe this important issue should be used as a political football or as a bandage for an administration that is hemorrhaging before the nation and the world.”
Stewart A. Alexander for President Peace and Freedom Party July 2, 2007 The bipartisan effort to reform immigration stalled and died in the US Senate; it was a major set-back for the Bush administration and a victory for supporters for immigrant rights. Members of the U S Senate failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to end the debate and move the immigration bill forward. The immigration bill was an extensive and complex approach to solving many of the issues involving immigration. Most opponents of the bill were concerned that the legislation had too many flaws and would need a complete overhaul. President Bush was counting on the success of his immigration reform package because his approval ratings are at an all time low on domestic and foreign policies. The timing of the bill became a major distraction for the failures of the Iraq War and US policy in the Middle East. A majority of Americans want immigration reform; however they don’t want reform by sacrificing the rights of workers, immigrants and their families. Also, the guest worker program contained in the immigration bill was a temporary work program and was an invitation for abuse of emigrant workers. Many labor organizations were concerned that the immigration bill would not protect the rights of workers and immigrants. In northern California a group of the most influential labor leaders, with the unions and labor organizations, are expected to meet to formulate proposals that will offer a different approach to immigration reform. Chuck Mack, President of the Joint Council 7 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said regarding the guest worker program, “These programs have historically been used by large corporations to attack the conditions our unions have fought to achieve. We need a way for people to come to this country legally that does not force them to become guest workers.” It is unlikely that Congress will be able to take a comprehensive approach in dealing with immigration reform while trade agreements, such as NAFTA, are in existence. Most US trade agreements are economic policies design to spread US imperialism; policies that are anti-labor trade deals. These trade agreements create problems between nations and unfortunately immigrants suffer the blame. Stewart Alexander, a presidential hopeful with the Peace and Freedom Party, says, “I believe Congress should work on comprehensive immigration reform after President Bush ends his term in office. I do not believe this important issue should be used as a political football or as a bandage for an administration that is hemorrhaging before the nation and the world.” Stewart Alexander is asking all the candidates for president, for all political parties, to demand that Washington deal with this most serious issue after 2008 and the General Election. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Iraq War, Many Diversions; Presidential Candidate: Immigrants Beaten Coast to Coast; Alexander: PFP Setting Tone for 2008. http://www.salt-g.com http://www.banderasnews.com/0706/edat-manydiversions.htm http://www.afroarticles.com/article-dashboard/Article/CNN-s-Lou-Dobbs---The-Minister-of--Propaganda-and-Enlightenment-/23562

Stewart A. Alexander - e-mail: stewartalexander4paf@ca.rr.com - Homepage: http://www.salt-g.com

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/ Rudy: "If you don't buy an iPhone, then the terrorists have won.

Here he is out there at the Fifth Avenue store drafting on the free publicity, mugging it up with some loser from the iPhone line. Money quote: "I think it's great. I think it's great. It's great. I'm urging all New Yorkers, and in fact all Americans, to get out here and show some pride and let the world know that we're not scared. We're not running scared. We're not scared. We're out here, it's a beautiful day, we're standing in line to spend lots of money on a piece of consumer electronics. So that's how scared we are, right? See? We're not scared. We're right here, so if you think you're so bad-ass, here we are. Standing on the street, wearing Yankee firefighter helmets. Okay? We're right here."


Roswell officer's amazing deathbed admission raises possibility that aliens DID visit

by Nick Pope Exactly 60 years ago, a light aircraft was flying over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, at a height of around 10,000ft.

Suddenly, a brilliant flash of light illuminated the aircraft. Visibility was good and as pilot Kenneth Arnold scanned the sky to find the source of the light, he saw a group of nine shiny metallic objects flying in formation.

He estimated their speed as being around 1,600 miles per hour - nearly three times faster than the top speed of any jet aircraft at the time. He described the craft as arrow-shaped and said they moved in a jerky motion - 'like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water'.

A reporter seized on this phrase and in his story described the objects as 'flying saucers'. The age of the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) had begun.

Soon, similar reports began to come in from all over America. This wasn't just the world's first UFO sighting, this was the birth of a phenomenon, one that still exercises an extraordinary fascination.

Then, two weeks after Arnold's sighting, something happened that was to lead to the biggest UFO conspiracy theory of all time. On or around July 2, 1947, something crashed in the desert near a military base at Roswell, New Mexico.

Military authorities issued a press release, which began: "The many rumours regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc."

The headlines screamed: 'Flying Disc captured by Air Force.' Yet, just 24 hours later, the military changed their story and claimed the object they'd first thought was a 'flying disc' was a weather balloon that had crashed on a nearby ranch.

Amazingly, the media and the public accepted the explanation without question, in a way that would not happen now. Roswell disappeared from the news until the late Seventies, when some of the military involved began to speak out.

The key witness was Major Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer who had gone to the ranch to recover the wreckage. He described the metal as being wafer thin but incredibly tough.

It was as light as balsa wood, but couldn't be cut or burned. Some witnesses described seeing strange inscriptions on the wreckage.

These and similar accounts of the incident have largely been dismissed by all except the most dedicated believers.

But last week came an astonishing new twist to the Roswell mystery - which casts new light on the incident and raises the possibility that we have, indeed, been visited by aliens.

Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the base in 1947, and was the man who issued the original and subsequent press releases after the crash on the orders of the base commander, Colonel William Blanchard.

Haut died last year, but left a sworn affidavit to be opened only after his death.

Last week, the text was released and asserts that the weather balloon claim was a cover story, and that the real object had been recovered by the military and stored in a hangar. He described seeing not just the craft, but alien bodies.

He wasn't the first Roswell witness to talk about bodies. Local undertaker Glenn Dennis had long claimed that he was contacted by authorities at Roswell shortly after the crash and asked to provide a number of child-sized coffins.

When he arrived at the base, he was apparently told by a nurse (who later disappeared) that a UFO had crashed and that small humanoid extraterrestrials had been recovered. But Haut is the only one of the original participants to claim to have seen alien bodies.

Haut's affidavit talks about a high-level meeting he attended with base commander Col William Blanchard and the Commander of the Eighth Army Air Force, Gen Roger Ramey. Haut states that at this meeting, pieces of wreckage were handed around for participants to touch, with nobody able to identify the material.

He says the press release was issued because locals were already aware of the crash site, but in fact there had been a second crash site, where more debris from the craft had fallen. The plan was that an announcement acknowledging the first site, which had been discovered by a rancher, would divert attention from the second and more important location.

Haut also spoke about a clean-up operation, where for months afterwards military personnel scoured both crash sites searching for all remaining pieces of debris, removing them and erasing all signs that anything unusual had occurred.

This ties in with claims made by locals that debris collected as souvenirs was seized by the military.

Haut then tells how Colonel Blanchard took him to 'Building 84' - one of the hangars at Roswell - and showed him the craft itself. He describes a metallic egg-shaped object around 12-15ft in length and around 6ft wide. He said he saw no windows, wings, tail, landing gear or any other feature.

He saw two bodies on the floor, partially covered by a tarpaulin. They are described in his statement as about 4ft tall, with disproportionately large heads. Towards the end of the affidavit, Haut concludes: "I am convinced that what I personally observed was some kind of craft and its crew from outer space."

What's particularly interesting about Walter Haut is that in the many interviews he gave before his death, he played down his role and made no such claims. Had he been seeking publicity, he would surely have spoken about the craft and the bodies.

Did he fear ridicule, or was the affidavit a sort of deathbed confession from someone who had been part of a cover-up, but who had stayed loyal to the end?

Another military witness who claimed to know that the Roswell incident involved the crash of an alien spacecraft is Colonel Philip J. Corso, a former Pentagon official who claimed his job was to pass technology from the craft recovered at Roswell to American companies.

He claims that discoveries such as Kevlar body armour, stealth technology, night vision goggles, lasers and the integrated circuit chip all have their roots in alien technology from the Roswell crash.

Corso died of a heart attack shortly after making these claims, prompting a fresh round of conspiracy theories.

As bizarre as Corso's story sounds, it has support from a number of unlikely sources, including former Canadian Minister of Defence Paul Hellyer, who spoke out recently to say that he'd checked the story with a senior figure in the U.S. military who confirmed it was true.

The U.S. government came under huge pressure on Roswell in the Nineties. In July 1994, in response to an inquiry from the General Accounting Office, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force published a report, The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert.

The report concluded that the Roswell incident had been attributable to something called Project Mogul, a top secret project using high-altitude balloons to carry sensor equipment into the upper atmosphere, listening for evidence of Soviet nuclear tests.

The statements concerning a crashed weather balloon had been a cover story, they admitted, but not to hide the truth about extraterrestrials.

A second U.S. Air Force report, The Roswell Report: Case Closed, was published in 1997 and focused on allegations that alien bodies were recovered.

It concluded that any claims that weren't entirely fraudulent were generated by people having seen crash test dummies that were dropped from balloons from high altitude as part of Project High Dive - a study aimed at developing safe procedures for pilots or astronauts having to jump from extreme altitudes.

These tests ran from 1954 to 1959 in New Mexico, and the U.S. government suggested that sightings of these dummies might have been the root of stories about humanoid aliens, with people mistaking the dates after so many years, and erroneously linking what they'd seen with the 1947 story of a UFO crash.

Sceptics, of course, will dismiss the testimony left by Haut. After all, fascinating though it is, it's just a story. There's no proof. But if nothing else, this latest revelation shows that, 60 years on, this mystery endures.

UFO enthusiasts plan to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Roswell incident with a series of events. In Roswell itself there will be a conference partly sponsored by the city authorities. Thousands are predicted to attend. Roswell has become not just big news, but big business.

Ever since Kenneth Arnold's sighting and the Roswell incident, UFO sightings have continued to be made around the world.

In the UK, in 1950, the Ministry of Defence's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Henry Tizard, said UFO sightings shouldn't be dismissed without proper, scientific investigation.

The MoD set up arguably the most wonderfully named body in the history of the Civil Service, the Flying Saucer Working Party. Its conclusions were sceptical.

It believed UFO sightings were attributable to either misidentifications, hoaxes or delusions. Its final report, dated June 1951, said no further resources should be devoted to investigating UFOs.

But in 1952 a high-profile series of UFO sightings occurred, in which objects were tracked on radar and seen by RAF pilots. The MoD was forced to think again and has had been investigating ever since. To date, the MoD has received more than 10,000 reports.

The best-known UK incident occurred in December 1980 in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. In the early hours of December 26, personnel at RAF Bentwaters (a base leased to the USAF) reported strange lights in the forest. Thinking an aircraft had crashed, they went to investigate.

What they found, witnesses say, was a UFO. They took photographs (which they were later told hadn't come out) of the brightly illuminated craft and one of the men got close enough to touch the object, which then took off and flew away. The stunned men briefed their bosses, including the deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt.

Halt ordered the men to make official witness statements, including sketches of the craft. The following night Halt was at a social function when a flustered airman burst in, saluted and said: "Sir, it's back."

Halt looked confused and said: "What's back?" "The UFO, Sir. The UFO is back," the airman replied.

Halt and a small team went to investigate. His intention, he later reported, was to 'debunk this nonsense'. As they went into the forest, their radios began to malfunction and powerful mobile searchlights cut out. Suddenly, Halt and his team saw the UFO and attempted to get closer. At one point it was directly overhead, shining a bright beam of light down on them.

After these events, Halt ordered an examination of the area where the UFO had been seen on the first night. Three indentations were found in the ground where the craft had landed. A Geiger counter was used and radiation readings were taken, which peaked in the three holes. Halt reported it to the MoD and an investigation began.

This was inconclusive, but Defence Intelligence Staff assessed the radiation readings taken at the landing site were 'significantly higher than the average background'. The MoD's case file on the incident has only recently been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Another spectacular UFO incident occurred in March 1993. Over six hours, around 60 witnesses in different parts of the UK reported a series of sightings of spectacular UFOs. Many of the witnesses were police officers and the UFO also flew over two military bases in the Midlands, RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury.

The Meteorological Officer at RAF Shawbury described the UFO as being a vast triangular-shaped craft that moved from a hover to a speed several times faster than an RAF jet in seconds.

He estimated that the UFO was midway in size between a Hercules transport aircraft and a Boeing 747 and said that at one point the craft had been as low as 400ft. He also said that it had been firing a narrow beam of light at the ground and emitting an unpleasant low-frequency hum.

The MoD investigation lasted several weeks and the case file - also recently released - runs to more than 100 pages.

The final briefing submitted to the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff stated: "In summary, there would seem to be some evidence on this occasion that an unidentified object (or objects) of unknown origin was operating over the UK." That is about the most frank admission on UFOs that the MoD has ever made.

Sixty years after Kenneth Arnold's 'flying saucer' sighting, pilots are still seeing UFOs. In April this year, Captain Ray Bowyer, a pilot based in Alderney, saw two bright yellow UFOs in the vicinity of the Channel Islands.

Some of his passengers saw the same thing, another pilot in the area made a similar report and some unusual readings were seen on air traffic control radar. The MoD and the Civil Aviation Authority investigated the incident and no explanation has been found.

Despite any number of hoaxes over the years, interest and belief in UFOs remains strong. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD receives more requests relating to UFOs than on any other subject.

So what is it about UFOs that continues to excite our imaginations? To some people, the subject has become almost a religion and perhaps that gets to the heart of it. Those who study the subject are on a quest not just for the truth, but for meaning. It's a search for the answer to one of the most fundamental questions we can ask - are we alone?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Expose The Obstructionists

Americans elected a new Congress to get things done. But the conservative minority has chosen a strategy of obstruction in the Senate. They have used the threat of a filibuster to delay or block virtually every major initiative. Bills with majority support—raising the minimum wage, ethics reform, a date to remove troops from Iraq, revoking oil subsidies and putting the money into renewable energy, fulfilling the 9/11 commission recommendations on homeland security—get blocked because they can’t garner 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

In its first 40 hours, the new majority of the House of Representatives kept their promise to voters and passed legislation—increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prices on drugs, cutting interest rates on student loans in half, revoking big oil subsidies and using the money to invest in renewable energy—that provided a down payment for a new direction for this country.

These bills are overwhelmingly popular, and are simply common sense reforms. Yet every one of them—and many more—got held up in the U.S. Senate.

Conservatives boast about the “success” of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, “the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

How is it working? It’s dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving.

This values partisan posturing over reforms vital to the country. It must be challenged.

It’s time to take the gloves off.

The first step is to expose the obstruction to the American people. Let’s urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to force a real filibuster. Keep the bills on the floor and force vote after vote, exposing the obstructionists. We’ll organize in states across the country to insure that their constituents know exactly who is standing in the way of progress.

Campaign for America’s Future is creating a petition to Reid, urging him to expose the obstructionists. Please join the petition. Let’s insure that Americans are clear on who is pushing for change and who is standing in the way.

Robert Borosage is co-director of Campaign for America's Future.

Read a full report on the how the people's agenda is being filibustered in the Senate and a chart of how senators voted on key issues.




Music Moves More Than the Soul

From: Brooke @ http://www.supernaturalthings.net

atlantis levitating pyramidsNo time to chat, just stopping in to share a little of my Saturday morning associative chain of obsessions, then I have places to be.


[…] One rather interesting theory comes from the Jane Roberts/Seth material. When asked specifically about how the Pyramid was constructed, Seth says that sound was an integral ingredient…..

“This is a difficult subject. For the movement of heavy tons of rock for ex ample different techniques, using sound and precise mathematical calculations were necessary. Many civilizations grew and flourished in fertile areas simply because the people knew how to make them fertile and to keep them that way. Matter was manipulated through sound.”

To expound on this premise, Seth told Jane to visualize herself at the scene of the building of the Pyramid, to which she responded…

“I feel that a whole mass of people would visualize a pyramid in their imagination, then through their chanting, the use of certain vowels and pitches, they actually changed the air where that building was going to be. They made a boundary in the air, making angular gestures, a cohesiveness, for this imaginary structure. Then they had certain kinds of tuning forks, then some kind of instrument. The noise of the chant was like something that you’d use to turn on this instrument - when the chant got to a certain pitch it turned on this instrument, and it somehow intensified and focused sound to what we would call an incredible energy degree - broke it down and then focused it in certain directions. You could move very heavy objects with it. The objects were levitated - raised up in the air, no matter how heavy. They only needed to be guided by people to some degree. Many men were used to guide them but not to lift or carry them. The sound instrument had a fantastic cohesive effect that bound atoms and molecules together. Something about these instruments making atoms and molecules denser, somehow - doing different things with them…”

Seth replied that this information was substantially correct and added, “You know that sound has an effect upon living things. It can help mend bone. It can also be used, to reinforce structures. We are in the preliminary stages, hopefully leading to some understanding of the nature of sound, though (humorously) you may not yet be able to build a pyramid in your back yard.”

[…] Seth also goes on to give a warning about the overzealous use of sound in construction….

“In some respects the over enthusiastic use of the sound was responsible for the flood mentioned in the Bible, and other literature. There were several characteristics that proved difficult. Literally, the sound traveled further often than was intended, causing consequences not planned upon.”

[…] an interesting side note in favor of some sort of acoustic levitation is that in virtually every culture where megaliths exist, there are legends of huge stones being levitated acoustically by the use of chants, songs, musical instruments, gongs, cymbals, drums, or by striking the stone and causing some sort of vibrational resonance to set the stone in motion.

Skeptical? Intrigued? Either way, go watch this video: Acoustic Levitation Chamber.

Hans Jenny: Cymatics wave pattern I got on this little kick by way of another little kick I was on before it, after Tim of Pop Occulture linked to a Wikipedia article on Cymatics. This is fascinating stuff for a musician who’s also a visual artist (I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before!) and one who’s also always envied synaesthetics. (Speaking of which, check out this artist, Justin Lassen). But I digress.

The picture on the left is from one of Hans Jenny’s experiments in Cymatics. It was made with sound. It is a visual manifestation of a specific sound frequency. Anyway, I’m running out of time, but here’s a bit from Wikipedia:

Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena. It is typically associated with the physical patterns produced through the interaction of sound waves in a medium.

A simple experiment demonstrating the visualisation of cymatics can be done by sprinkling sand on a metal plate and vibrating the plate, for example by drawing a violin bow along the edge, the sand will then form itself into standing wave patterns such as simple concentric circles. The higher the frequency, the more complex the shapes produced, with certain shapes having similarities to traditional mandala designs.

How super cool is that. And how perfect a thing to incorporate into a certain secret art experiment I’ve been playing with. The creative wheels are turning out colorful harmonious visions in full force. Oh, and the image of a snake with a halo very clearly revealed itself to me in the pavement earlier, which sent more ideas spinning off colorfully in many directions. But never you mind. Go watch some videos of cymatics in action.

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