I have continued reading through all of my old journals, re-living past memories, and gaining new insight into how I've become the "me" I am today. There's just one more thing I wanted to share here from my old journals. It's a speech I transcribed of a Zapatista community leader who was welcoming a solidarity group that I was a part of, during my visit to southern Mexico in 2002. He focusses for one reason or another on the educational aspect of the Zapatista movement. Really great stuff! Anyway, here it is:
"Welcome comrade brothers and sisters. We are happy because we know that we exist in your hearts. Our fight is not just for us, but for everyone. We want to be an example for our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world; To overcome oppression with education. In Aguascaliente, you can do anything: You can dance and you can dream. It is a cultural centre. We offer you the pure air of nature, the cold nights, and the hot sun. My internationalist brothers and sisters, you have come from far. History does not forget anything. You are visiting places where the people fight. We can share our words, and languages, and experiences with you. Today we tell you, Aguascalientes is yours. There is always a place for you here. We thank you for your company and we hope you can take our word to all the kids and adults back in your countries.
It is our obligation to transform society. We need to end the oppression, marginalisation, and injustice of humanity against humanity... for us Zapatistas, it is as if we didn't exist. Our women were not considered part of Mexican society and they were excluded from history. We want to create an alternative education to create a new world. We know that in any fight, education is important to our formation and to construct new worlds. The new worlds are in each of us. When we speak of revolution and of our fight, we are speaking of the need to create one world in which the many worlds of humanity can all fit. We need to save humanity, even as its ship is sinking... and to protect our natural resources. We want to create a new society where there are no poor people and no rich people. We don't believe in taking power, like in previous revolutions. It's a new way of thinking. And we want liberation not just for Indians, but for the workers, and for everyone. And we don't want the wealth of the rich. They are lost, and poor in spirit and in their vision of the world... They are slaves.
We need new ways of educating ourselves, and it needs to be a collective effort: the peasants, the indigenous, the students, the workers, the housewives... We have an obligation to educate each other. We Zapatistas are not here to educate you. We are all here to educate each other in communion. We need to transform the world. And all the internationalists from every country need to have in their mind that we need to transform our individual realities as well as our collective realities, for the emancipation of all humanity - to bring us back to being human. We are trying to raise up something new that we had lost; living it and learning it in practice. That is important. Not always do we know how to go about constructing such a society, but we do know that it is necessary. We need to search for our common humanity - of all cultures, languages, colours. We are constructing new trails and paths and new lights for our people and all people. With you, we are creating history, and we speak in truth.
And here you are now, with us in solidarity. This place is for all of us - Zapatistas, foreigners, everyone... and for future generations. We need to build our consciousness. We need to dream, and build solidarity. What is happening with humanity? If there's no democracy in the world, let's create democracy between all of us. We also need to remember history... We know that we indigenous were the first ones here. Do not believe the history that the pedagogues tell us of Latin America. We know our identity. We have roots. The Mayans were and are a great people, but so much has been taken away from us. We are immersed in a culture of capitalist thinking... and perhaps it's better not to exist than to exist and not do anything. With our word, we have the obligation of continuing our fight and supporting each other...
Our leaders and presidents have just met in Monterrey. We too can organise and meet and talk about how to create new systems of living. And don't believe what these powerful men say about us. We are against terrorism - especially the everyday terror of the rich against the disadvantaged. We are not terrorists. Terrorists kill civilians, children, women... but we are constructing something that is for everyone. We give you our simple word to take back to your countries. The more we construct solidarity with each other, the stronger we feel. If it wasn't for that, Zapatismo wouldn't exist. We need to fight, and we do not care about the media... All we need to do is to continue to fight. Zapatismo will continue, in our education, in our work, and in the ecology... Zapatismo dreams of creating universities of the people, for the people, and completely autonomous... We know that our kids of today will be the teachers and leaders of the future, with new programs and plans for the good of all...
Do not leave us alone. Do not let the government destroy our schools. Thank you for your support my internationalist brothers and sisters. Education to us is not just having an eraser, a ruler, a pencil... it is to hear, to listen, to see... We need to learn to educate ourselves in the field and in practice, not just with theory. The word "consciousness" [conciencia] is grand and means so much. And "comrade" [companero] is an even bigger word, beyond capability of being defined. In our revolution, the most important aspect is comradeship [la camaderia]. We Zapatistas will be with you, and we ask that you also will always be with us, in our fight for a new world. We thank you... And amongst all of us here, none of us need permission from anybody to construct something that already belongs to us. Thank you for being here and reaching this beautiful moment with us."
From: Redlands High School and Beattie Middle School
Rounding out the top statistics for presidential candidates at RHS: former North Carolina Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who was expected to drop out of the race today, and five-time presidential Green Party candidate Ralph Nader both won 20 votes; Army veteran and retired Michigan schoolteacher Mad Max Riekse received 14 votes on the American Independent Party ticket; former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee garnered 13 votes, as did Ralph Nader when Nader was tied to the Peace and Freedom Party; California chiropractor and American Independent Party candidate Don J. Grundmann received 10 votes; California attorney and three-time American Independent Party presidential candidate Diane Beall Templin got seven votes; and African American Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney received five votes.All other candidates received four votes or less, according to Fieldhouse.At Beattie, 222 votes were cast. Obama received 60 votes, and Clinton received 40; McCain had 36; Huckabee had 13; and Romney had 12. Edwards got five votes and Paul landed four.
"I voted for - I can't remember her name," said Kara Takashige Boehm, a sophomore in Erin Pope-Garcia's world history class with Castillo. "Someone from the Peace and Freedom Party. It was a woman, Gloria something."
Takashige Boehm said she wanted to vote for a woman (Gloria E. La Riva, to be precise) from a party other than the Democratic or Republican factions.
Most may be too young to vote in Tuesday's California primary election, but students at Terra Linda High School this week found a way to make their voices heard.
The school was among more than 400 schools with a total 240,000 students in California to participate Tuesday in the MyVote student mock election staged by the California secretary of state's office. San Rafael High School, Kent Middle School, Madrone High School and Marin Oaks High School also participated in the election.
Students voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who received nearly 51 percent of the county's 1,750
tallied votes. Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., finished second with just more than 15 percent of the vote. At 3.8 percent, Democrat John Edwards the only other candidate to garner more than 2 percent of the vote.
At Terra Linda, three-quarters of the school's 1,200 students participated in the election, which included presidential candidates and three ballot measures aimed at students.
"We're always trying to connect history with the present, with current events," said Randy Baker, chairman of the Terra Linda social studies department, who organized theevent for his school. "This is a no-brainer for us to offer to kids."
The school submitted its results to the secretary of state's office; final statewide election results and school-by-school breakdowns were to be released Wednesday.
The mock election allowed students to vote for any presidential candidate regardless of party affiliation, but was otherwise handled like a real primary.
Among the students excited about the chance to vote was Cesar Castillo, a sophomore who voted for
Senior Genevieve Macmillan joins other Terra Linda HIgh students in voting during Tuesday s statewide mock election. (IJ photo/Alan Dep)
"We can't vote yet, but we have that urge to vote," said Castillo, 15. "People are like, 'I want to turn 18 so I can vote.' Everyone's talking about it, asking, 'Who did you vote for?'"
Baker said he and the rest of the social studies department geared lesson plans to the mock election for weeks in advance, trying to provide the students as much current information as possible. He said the students showed a good deal of interest.
"The students here are very aware of the issues," Baker said. "They've been very responsive."
The secretary of state's office has staged mock elections since 2006, but this was the first for a presidential primary vote.
Kate Folmar, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, said Bowen wanted to take advantage of the interest and importance of this presidential election by getting students interested early. Participation was open to all secondary schools, she said.
"(Bowen) believes strongly in nurturing a culture of young voters, and this was a perfect way to reach them at an early stage," Folmar said.
The Marin County Registrar of Voters Office provided the school with official voting booths, which were stationed in the cafeteria throughout the day.
Baker said the battle between Clinton and Obama was a major point of interest for students at Terra Linda. The school has more than 31 percent minority students, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
"The gender-versus-race issue is a very interesting one, and one that the kids have been talking about a lot," Baker said. "The kids seem to be leaning toward Obama, but that's very premature."
Castillo was among a collection of students interested in Tuesday's event, but some students showed considerably less enthusiasm.
"I voted for - I can't remember her name," said Kara Takashige Boehm, a sophomore in Erin Pope-Garcia's world history class with Castillo. "Someone from the Peace and Freedom Party. It was a woman, Gloria something."
Takashige Boehm said she wanted to vote for a woman (Gloria E. La Riva, to be precise) from a party other than the Democratic or Republican factions. She had a different take than Castillo on the students' reaction to the event.
"I feel like kids don't care very much," said Takashige Boehm, 15. "There's a small percentage of kids that really got into it, but not many."
Baker knew the response to Tuesday's event wouldn't be unanimously positive.
"I wish I could say the kids are vibrant and excited, but I can't say that," Baker said. "It's not the most exciting stuff in the world, but it's important for the kids to learn. It's a good approximation of a real election day, and a lot of the kids find that fascinating."
GET THE RESULTS
With 250 of 450 California schools reporting, Barack Obama had 27,845 votes statewide in the open election, nearly seven times that of the leading Republican, John McCain, who had received 3,773 votes.
In a letter dated December 31, 2007, Lynn Rozar and his wife, from Greeneville, Tennessee, want to know my position on some issues concerning the average person: WITH JUST SOME STRAIGHT SIMPLE ANSWERS FOR A CHANGE.
Stewart A. Alexander
Socialist Party USA Nominee for Vice President
and candidate for nomination Peace and Freedom Party
Lynn Rozar, Greeneville, TN
Mr. Stewart Alexander,
To make up our minds as to whom we are going to vote, my wife and I would like to know how you stand on some issues concerning the average person:
WITH JUST SOME STRAIGHT SIMPLE ANSWERS FOR A CHANGE.
It is all well and good that each candidate has their own agenda for ending the war in Iraq and a multitude of other international events. But what I want to know is what you are going to do for us average everyday run of the mill individuals. Though we want to know about international affairs they are relatively unimportant to our everyday lives. I personally feel that we should be out of Iraq and let them handle their own issues. The Iraq's believe that they are fighting a religious and cultural war. There is no way to win a war like that.
As a potential commander and chief what do you think about the policy says don't fire until fired upon? As a veteran with three tours of duty in Viet Nam I feel that this policy is a loosing proposition. Our service men and women should be given the opportunity to defend themselves by any means necessary to survive, without having to think about going to jail if I accidentally make a mistake. This is a war and sometimes situations escalate in the heat of battle. We also need to ensure that our military has all the latest and best equipment available (at their disposal and not sitting in a warehouse) to get the job done. What is your position?
A. The precise policies regulating when soldiers may fire their weapons are not the real problem - the real problem is that our government keeps sending our soldiers into harm's way in places they should not be sent, under circumstances in which we should not be involved. If U.S. soldiers had not been sent to Vietnam, the question would not have come up for you. Looking back, it is clear to most that they should not have been sent to Vietnam. They should not have been sent to Iraq, either. There is nothing our soldiers can do in Iraq that will make things better, and almost everything they do (no matter how well or how bravely they do it) actually makes the situation worse. My policy on this war is simple: bring them home now. Not when convenient, not when the politicians can claim a victory, not when thousands more have died, but NOW.
This is the one that really bothers me. I hear about sending Billions to other countries to help their government and population and when it comes time to help us U.S. Citizens it is like pulling teeth to get a dime. What is all this money for and why is it not being spent to help ourselves first. I can only imagine what the money given to foreign countries could do for our educational system to make us world class again.
A. One problem with foreign aid is that the bulk of it is not intended to help people abroad, but to suppress them. Most such aid is military and military-related aid, and some of the governments we give it to are pretty nasty. I favor ending all military aid abroad. Some aid is good, not only for the people of other countries, but for the people of our own country as well. For example, eradicating diseases abroad can protect our own people from disease, especially when a sick person can fly between continents in hours. I favor giving carefully-targeted aid abroad that helps people become more healthy and prosperous, thus helping our own people by reducing the risk of disease and by eliminating low-wage havens to which employers move their factories. As for helping Americans, see some of my answers below.
Can you do anything about gas prices and if so what?
We can't afford to invest for our futures if we have to make a decision every day to buy gas to get to work or buy food for our children.
A. The damages to American families from the high cost of oil and gasoline are severe, and they have several causes. First, because our government is obedient to the big oil and automobile companies and keeps our mass transit systems undeveloped and expensive to ride, most people must use cars even when they would rather not. This increases demand for gasoline. Second, the government policy has been to keep the prices high to keep oil company profits high, and they have made record profits. There are many things that can be done to improve this situation, and I favor a number of them:
1. Place the oil industry under public ownership and democratic control of our people. Eliminate the big oil companies, and eliminate their influence on our government.
2. Encourage the use of mass transit, not by making gasoline expensive, but by providing convenient transportation at minimal or no cost.
3. Establish a full-employment economy in which all can work and earn a decent living, and hard choices about necessary spending will recede into memory for most families.
4. We need to end government subsidies for ethanol production; eventually this will sharply increase the future cost of fuel and food. It is time that we mass produce electric automobiles here is the U.S. before the end of this decade. This will greatly reduce our dependency on oil and create jobs for hundreds of thousands of people that need good paying jobs.
Something is not right when we see that we can make a better living on welfare than trying to have and hold a job. At $10.00 an hour and we have to pay $4.00 to $5.00 an hour for child care I can make a better living on welfare. I work but I think about this everyday. Why should I work when I can make more money from the government just sitting on my behind?
A. Actually, it is impossible to make a decent living on welfare, despite the stories. But I favor several policies that would answer parts of your question. First, I favor doubling the minimum wage and indexing it to the cost of living, so that no one would again have to work for terribly low wages and fail to make ends meet. Second, I favor making all education, from pre-school through the university, free for all. (We used to have this in some states - it is certainly not impossible.) Now refigure how well you could make a living, with a minimum wage of $15 per hour or higher and no child care expenses. Also, a recent study has shown that the federal government needs to assist working families with child care expenses; it would require a serious U.S. investment of $30 billion annually. Today, child care is costing many families more than the cost to send there children to college; this is a national crisis that must be dealt with today.
What are you going to do about health insurance? I guess I am one of the lucky ones I am a VET and can go to the VA if I have problems and my children can get some state assistance but my wife is uninsured.
A. I believe that our medical care system, devoted to making profits rather than delivering care, is broken and needs to be completely redone. I favor a program of free medical and dental care for all - kind of like Medicare was supposed to be, but extending the age limit downward, so everyone qualifies at birth. Most industrialized countries have this, and despite the stories you hear from the TV stations and newspapers that are owned by billionaires, it works quite well. In actual fact, we would probably spend less on medical care as a nation than we do now, with much better results. No money would go to the predatory insurance corporations.
What about long term care for elderly parents? When they can't afford nursing homes and we can't afford to have them at home because we both have to work to make ends meet.
A. In most industrialized countries, care for the elderly is recognized as a responsibility for the whole society, and is funded through taxes or other government income. I believe priority should be given to keeping older Americans active and happy in their own families, neighborhoods and communities whenever possible, rather than warehousing them in institutions (which are presently very profitable to run). But well-run retirement homes also have a place in a system of care for the elderly, and they should be freely accessible to all who need them.
What will you do about prescription drugs? We make them in the US and it is cheaper to buy them in Canada or Mexico but it is illegal to try to save a few bucks.
A. Prescription drugs should be provided at no or nominal cost as needed, as part of a universal health plan. The present influence of the drug corporations on our government is a shame that must be ended.
What is your stand on securing the boarders and how? Here's an idea. Take your reserve units on their two week training and place them in camps along the boarders. With a constant rotation of troops you won't have to worry about bribe and maybe we can stem the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants.
A. It is impossible to fully secure all our borders, and even the politicians who rant and rave about it know this. A "great wall" would work no better here than it did in China, or the Berlin Wall in Germany, or the walls that were built by the Roman Empire to secure borders throughout Europe. We definitely need a better immigration policy, because the need for immigrant labor is a simple fact, and current policies make it impossible for enough people to enter legally to meet the demand. In general, much smuggling can be ended by sensible economic policies, and a sensible drug policy would take the huge profits away that feed corruption of those who are supposed to enforce the laws. Also, we need to end trade agreement that create starvation for millions south of the boarder and create more wealth for the billionaires here in the U.S. We need trade agreements that are designed to benefit working people within and beyond our borders.
What about education? We have students that have excellent grades that can't get into college due to financial issues? It seems that unless you have money or are an excellent athlete school financing is hard to come by. At $10.00 an hour with a house payment everyone wants you to put your home up. That is all good for the 1st child but what happens when the second one wants to go to college? I know that there are student loans and government grants available but when you look at the long term repayment plan is it ever going to get paid back with the job market in its present condition?
A. I strongly favor free public education from pre-school through the university. Yes, it can be done, and when the people demand it, it will happen. Today, education has become a tax on the young people of America and their families and many are faced with college expenses that are in the tens of thousands of dollars upon graduating; and unfortunately due to cost, there are millions that must sacrifice a good education. We need to break the powers of great wealth that distorts our society and our laws and hurts the working class at every turn.
What is your stand on outsourcing jobs? I know more than one person that went totally under when his job was outsource; took a half cut in pay for his next job and lost his home.
A. Exporting jobs is just one of the ugly things the wealthy owners of the big corporations do to keep down the working class. Actually, they get government aid in doing this, and their factories abroad are insured through a government program! I favor a full employment economy, in which there are jobs for all - the wealthy oppose this because they want to keep wages down. Another side of this question is how to help improve conditions, and workers rights in other countries, which would keep them from being "low-wage havens" for factory owners.
Another issue on our minds is other countries, citizens of other countries or business of other countries owning land in the USA. If they can't beat us in a war they will just buy us; very unfair to US citizens trying to start a business if they have to compete against a whole country for funding. To my knowledge, though limited on this subject, US citizens can't own land in a lot of countries. This takes lots of money out of our country. What is your position?
A. I have nothing against the person from France, China, Japan, South Africa or Kenya owning a house in the US. But I do not want them, or anyone else, owning our factories, our banks, our railroads, and so on. Keep in mind that rich Americans who own these also constantly underpay and mistreat their workers, and abandon them and take their factories abroad any time they can make higher profits doing so. I am a Socialist, which means that I want the factories, the banks, the mines and the ports to be owned by all the people, and democratically run by the people. This would prevent anyone, foreign or American, from exploiting American workers.
Then there is the issue of housing or more to the point the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage. Why is the government trying to bail out lenders? These people had the money to loan to start with. If they made a bad loan or business investment, live with it and suffer the consequences. (Just about any other business would have to suffer their loss) We should be trying to help the person who probably did not understand the terms of his commitment (granted he should have read and understood) but there are a lot of lenders just looking to take advantage of anyone.
A. Yes, it is curious that the high interest rates are justified on the basis of risk, and the risk is taken away by government bailouts that never seem to bail out the little guy, just the big corporations. Did you know that in many countries, there are government agencies that provide low-interest loans for workers to buy houses, and the prices are subsidized so that they are in reach of ordinary people? No reason we can't do that here, except that the very wealthy who benefit from the current system don't want us to. I believe that we need a set of government programs that will make it possible for every American to live in decent housing, whether a city apartment or a suburban or rural house.
My next issue of concern is illegal drug use amongst our children. As a wrestling coach I constantly talk nutrition, physical capability, team work and against the use of sports performing drugs and illegal drugs. Do you have a plan to combat illegal drugs?
A. My plan is, first, to stop the destructive "war on drugs" that outlaws adult use of marijuana, etc., and helps the drug lords make huge fortunes, while low-level users get stuck in prison for years instead of getting the medical treatment they need. We need free and freely-available treatment for drug problems, and to recognize (as some European countries now do) that this is first of all a medical problem. As for the performance-enhancing drugs that are used by foolish athletes, the profit motive is very important there, and if needed prescription drugs were provided to those who need them at nominal cost, with the big profits taken out of the drug trade, much of this would recede. The enforcement of rules against drug use within each sport are mainly a matter of sportsmanship for that sport's governing body to regulate, rather than a federal concern, but there are certainly federal actions that could help. If every young athlete could look forward to a decent life of secure work and available housing and medical care, some of the desperation to succeed in sports in order to have a chance at a decent living would no longer be a factor.
My final question is: What makes you different than all the other candidates that promise us everything and after getting into office delivers virtually nothing.
A. I am not a Republican or Democrat and I am not an opportunist politician. I am running as a Socialist Party candidate with Socialist Party USA, a Peace and Freedom Party candidate, and a candidate of the Liberty Union Party for Vice President, with my running mate Brian Moore for President. I am serious about taking on the big-money politicians who represent the big corporations. When we can build a movement that puts candidates like us in the White House, and real representatives of working people in the House and Senate, believe me - we will deliver for working people! Socialism and socialists will empower working people to benefit themselves.
Please remember that most of your votes come from average people that are just trying to make a living, put food on the table for our children, own a small piece of America and maybe stay healthy enough to do it all again tomorrow.
A. As someone who has had to work all his life to put food on the table, working as a retail clerk for Safeway Stores, working as a janitor in Los Angeles, working in warehousing as a forklift operator with Inter-American Public Distribution, in construction working 15 hour daily, in aerospace working for Lockheed Aircraft as a plastics fabricator, mortgage lending, cleaning houses for 10 hours a day, six day a week, to help my wife build a housecleaning business, and automobile sales, believe me, I remember that every moment! Thank you for your questions that gave me this opportunity to speak my mind on so many important issues.
The Philosopher's Cellphone, by Mark Silcox
"I've often thought that Plato's Cave was rather an exaggeration -
Mankind's fate is not a mere" - brring brring - "oh, damn, the phone -
Hello Imelda. Yes I did pick up the tickets at the station.
What? The dog? The carpet?? - soul-confining house of stone."
"It seems almost quixotic - use a dishcloth! Soap and lots of water!
Dishcloths, dishcloths... there should be one in the lavatory.
She's crying? Well, give her a bone! - The world around us seems to offer
More than just the dance of shadows in that allegory."
"And furthermore, methinks that while in Ancient Times - no peanut butter?
Right, I'll add it to my list. We're also out of floss.
There was a fairly short path from the stars straight down into the gutter,
Our Modern Age provides us with no corresponding loss,"
"When we turn our gaze from sunlight to - my indigestion's better; thanks,
It must have been that Egg Foo Yong, or p'raps the Chinese Tea
Be home in time for Jeopardy! - life's illusions in all their ranks
Our eyes will not be blinded to the aspect of eternity."
For a generation now, disruptive young Americans who rebel against authority figures have been increasingly diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric (psychotropic) drugs.
Disruptive young people who are medicated with Ritalin, Adderall and other amphetamines routinely report that these drugs make them "care less" about their boredom, resentments and other negative emotions, thus making them more compliant and manageable. And so-called atypical antipsychotics such as Risperdal and Zyprexa -- powerful tranquilizing drugs -- are increasingly prescribed to disruptive young Americans, even though in most cases they are not displaying any psychotic symptoms.
Many talk show hosts think I'm kidding when I mention oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). After I assure them that ODD is in fact an official mental illness -- an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers -- they often guess that ODD is simply a new term for juvenile delinquency. But that is not the case.
Young people diagnosed with ODD, by definition, are doing nothing illegal (illegal behaviors are a symptom of another mental illness called conduct disorder). In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) created oppositional defiant disorder, defining it as "a pattern of negativistic, hostile and defiant behavior." The official symptoms of ODD include "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules" and "often argues with adults." While ODD-diagnosed young people are obnoxious with adults they don't respect, these kids can be a delight with adults they do respect; yet many of them are medicated with psychotropic drugs.
An even more common reaction to oppressive authorities than overt defiance is some type of passive defiance.
John Holt, the late school critic, described passive-aggressive strategies employed by prisoners in concentration camps and slaves on plantations, as well as some children in classrooms. Holt pointed out that subjects may attempt to appease their rulers while still satisfying some part of their own desire for dignity "by putting on a mask, by acting much more stupid and incompetent than they really are, by denying their rulers the full use of their intelligence and ability, by declaring their minds and spirits free of their enslaved bodies."
Holt observed that by "going stupid" in a classroom, children frustrate authorities through withdrawing the most intelligent and creative parts of their minds from the scene, thus achieving some sense of potency.
Going stupid -- or passive aggression -- is one of many nondisease explanations for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that virtually all ADHD-diagnosed children will pay attention to activities that they enjoy or that they have chosen. In other words, when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control, the "disease" goes away.
There are other passive rebellions against authority that have been medicalized by mental health authorities. I have talked to many people who earlier in their lives had been diagnosed with substance abuse, depression and even schizophrenia but believe that their "symptoms" had in fact been a kind of resistance to the demands of an oppressive environment. Some of these people now call themselves psychiatric survivors.
While there are several reasons for behavioral disruptiveness and emotional difficulties, rebellion against an oppressive environment is one common reason that is routinely not even considered by many mental health professionals. Why? It is my experience that many mental health professionals are unaware of how extremely obedient they are to authorities. Acceptance into medical school and graduate school and achieving a Ph.D. or M.D. means jumping through many meaningless hoops, all of which require much behavioral, attentional and emotional compliance to authorities -- even disrespected ones. When compliant M.D.s and Ph.D.s begin seeing noncompliant patients, many of these doctors become anxious, sometimes even ashamed of their own excessive compliance, and this anxiety and shame can be fuel for diseasing normal human reactions.
Two ways of subduing defiance are to criminalize it and to pathologize it, and U.S. history is replete with examples of both. In the same era that John Adams' Sedition Act criminalized criticism of U.S. governmental policy, Dr. Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry (his image adorns the APA seal), pathologized anti-authoritarianism. Rush diagnosed those rebelling against a centralized federal authority as having an "excess of the passion for liberty" that "constituted a form of insanity." He labeled this illness "anarchia."
Throughout American history, both direct and indirect resistance to authority has been diseased. In an 1851 article in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, Louisiana physician Samuel Cartwright reported his discovery of "drapetomania," the disease that caused slaves to flee captivity. Cartwright also reported his discovery of "dysaesthesia aethiopis," the disease that caused slaves to pay insufficient attention to the master's needs. Early versions of ODD and ADHD?
In Rush's lifetime, few Americans took anarchia seriously, nor was drapetomania or dysaesthesia aethiopis taken seriously in Cartwright's lifetime. But these were eras before the diseasing of defiance had a powerful financial ally in Big Pharma.
In every generation there will be authoritarians. There will also be the "bohemian bourgeois" who may enjoy anti-authoritarian books, music, and movies but don't act on them. And there will be genuine anti-authoritarians, who are so pained by exploitive hierarchies that they take action. Only occasionally in American history do these genuine anti-authoritarians actually take effective direct action that inspires others to successfully revolt, but every once in a while a Tom Paine comes along. So authoritarians take no chances, and the state-corporate partnership criminalizes anti-authoritarianism, pathologizes it, markets drugs to "cure" it and financially intimidates those who might buck the system.
It would certainly be a dream of Big Pharma and those who favor an authoritarian society if every would-be Tom Paine -- or Crazy Horse, Tecumseh, Emma Goldman or Malcolm X -- were diagnosed as a youngster with mental illness and quieted with a lifelong regimen of chill pills. The question is: Has this dream become reality?
Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green, 2007).
'The amount of work that we put into the O2 [concert] ... was probably what you put into a world tour,' he told Reuters.
By Gil Kaufman and Kurt Orzeck
Led Zeppelin might not be headed over the hills and far away quite yet — the recently reunited rock legends have let it slip that they may actually perform together again after all, but not before September.
Guitarist Jimmy Page revealed the scenario over the weekend, according to Reuters, saying that the legendary band's one-off, strongly received December reunion gig in London,which sparked rumors of a world tour, was likely a precursor to more shows.
"I can assure you the amount of work that we put into the O2 [concert], for ourselves rehearsing and the staging of it, was probably what you put into a world tour," Page said, adding that more shows are off for the moment because of singer Robert Plant's commitments to touring with bluegrass star Alison Krauss in support of their Grammy-nominated joint album, Raising Sand.
"Robert Plant also [has] a parallel project running, and he's really busy with that project, certainly until September, so I can't give you any news," Page added.
In an interview with New York's Madison Square Garden Network during halftime at a Knicks game on Friday, Plant also opened the door to more shows, saying, "You never know what is around the corner. It's just nice to play with those guys," when asked about Zeppelin tour rumors.
That's a sharp contrast from what Plant said in late September, when he shot down claims of a potential tour outright. "There'll be one show and that'll be it," he told British music mag Uncut.
Plant's remarks had come days after Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl apparently volunteered his services for a potential Zep tour. After saying that he had planned to sneak his way into the long-sold-out London show, the former Nirvana drummer added that he wouldn't mind manning the kit for Led Zeppelin if needed. "[I am] at their beck and call," he told British music weekly the New Musical Express.
[Thanks to grischa for this post]
By JENNIFER VAN BERGENWith Kucinich out of the race, there are NO viable candidates left.I'm sorry, I will not vote for somebody who compromises his or her morals and betrays his/her constituents and the US Constitution, not to mention international laws.We are at a point in history where we cannot accept half measures any longer. Our world is in grave danger , we are torturing people, we are violating every law of humanity there is, our economy is so bad -- we don't realize -- the U.S. could very well go the way the Roman Republic did . . . and we are talking about whether Obama or Hillary is worse than the other . . . or significantly better than who, Huckabee, Ron Paul?Sorry, not me. I'm not buying anymore. I'm with Kucinich all the way. I'm going the way he goes. He is the only one willing to tell the truth and keep on fighting for it. He is the only one with integrity or morals left.If he's not on the ballot, I don't vote. But if I can join his wagon train, I will.I don't recognize what I thought was my country, my homeland -- in the best sense of the word. I have spent many years, both as an adult and as a young child, living overseas, but it was always THIS country that was my home.But I don't know if I want to be here any longer.The dollar is dying. Does anyone here realize what that means for you and me? It means that if you are struggling now, you may well be in abject poverty soon. If you think you are powerless now, what then? Who listens to a person begging for food? Who listens to the disenfranchised? Who listens to a person who is suffering?It means if you have health problems now, you may well die from lack of medical care sometime in the next few years. (See here about what's happening in the Congo. Most of the 45,000 deaths PER MONTH are medically preventable.)I'm not even bringing up what's happening in Gaza.Who do we think we are?! Who ARE we?It is not enough to wave a sign on a street corner. It is not enough to vote -- especially when we don't even know if the votes will be counted. It is not enough to write op-eds or articles, letters to the editor, letters to our congress-persons, to speak before crowds, big or small, to march through the streets or travel to march in D.C. or elsewhere.It is not enough to circulate news we already innately know or views we already agree with. Not enough even to argue face-to-face with our opponents or to cry out for impeachment. It's not enough to save electricity, grow our own food, stop driving a car. None of it really matters now. It's too little, too late.Believe it or not, I'm not a pessimist. I am inherently an optimistic person. I believe that out of the ashes can come a brave new world.But I also believe that there is such a thing as FINALITY. Stars can explode. Planets can die. Species can cease to exist. Forever. Obama and Hillary are going to be swallowed by this, just as well as Bush and Cheney. And the rest of us sorry and weary souls.The only thing left is to be true to yourself and to your highest values. Live as honorably and as truthfully as you can, as one lone individual. Do what good you can and spend time with people who have integrity. Do no harm to others or to the environment; protect and preserve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful as best you can.Because when the shit hits the fan, the laws our officials flagrantly violate now in our name, for the benefit of the national security state, will no longer matter on a day-to-day basis.Jennifer Van Bergen, a journalist with a law degree, is the author of THE TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACY: THE BUSH PLAN FOR AMERICA (Common Courage Press, 2004). She writes frequently on civil liberties, human rights, and international law and Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious (Michael Weise Productions, 2007).. She can be reached at email@example.com.
In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed-
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.
Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?
That holy dream- that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.
What though that light, thro' storm and night,
So trembled from afar-
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth's day-star?
We can only imagine what it must have been like, decades ago, when the California secretary of state — whose office is in charge of elections — first discussed this phenomenon with the Democratic and Republican leaders of the state Legislature.
State: "We have encountered a new problem in printing the ballots. There are a lot of people registering to vote who refuse to identify themselves as either Democrats or Republicans."
Demo: "Is that legal?"
State: "Yes, the courts say it's legal."
Rep: "They're neither Republican nor Democrat, and they still expect us to let them vote?"
State: "Yes. If they meet the other requirements — residency and age and the like — they're entitled to vote. Our problem is how to identify them on the ballot."
Demo: "If they're neither Democrat nor Republican, they must be idiots."
Rep: "Or illiterate. Do we have to let illiterates vote?"
State: "I'm afraid so. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned literacy tests for voters. The logical thing to call them is independent,' but that would just cause confusion, because there's now an American Independent party that has qualified for the ballot."
Rep: "A whole new party? Can they do that?"
State: "Yes, and that's not the only one. There's also a Green Party, a Libertarian Party and a Peace and Freedom Party."
Demo: "Four new parties? Really?"
State: "Yes, making a total of six. Only in California. And even with a choice of six parties, there are still some voters who refuse to be identified with any party."
Demo: "Can't we just label them weirdos'?"
State: "I'm afraid the courts would find that pejorative."
Rep: "How about undecided'?"
State: "But they're not undecided. They have decided they don't want to be identified with any political party."
Rep: "With independent' out, why don't we call them nonpartisan'? That's accurate."
Demo: "But it makes them sound too rational, the snobs."
Rep: "How about something that labels them for the weasels they really are? Since they're wimping out on picking a party, let's list them as decline to state.' "
State: "The courts shouldn't object to that."
Which is a rather fanciful explanation of how people like me got the ballot designation "decline to state" — with its implication that we have some deep, dark political secret that we're trying to hide. All we're trying to do, really, is opt out of the whole rat race of partisan politics. When it comes to politics, we're simply not party animals.
So in the national presidential primary Feb. 5, we won't be agonizing over whether to vote for John McCain or Mitt Romney or anyone else on the Republican ticket. The Republicans won't allow decline-to-state voters to participate in the party primary. It is, after all, their primary and we aren't one of them.
However, the Democrats will let us agonize over whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, by asking for a Democratic Party ballot at the polls. (Decline-to-state voters can also request an American Independent Party ballot.)
For whatever reason, Ventura County is more tolerant of nonpartisan voters than the state of California is. In county election material, we're not listed as "decline to state" — with all its implications of hiding in the closet — but as what we really are, "nonpartisan."
Whether or not we can vote for some candidates in the primary election, we generic, unbranded voters have the consolation of knowing that we will decide the final outcome — the winner of the presidential Super Bowl on Nov. 4.
Says every voting survey I've seen in recent elections. According to those statistics, more and more voters — old and new — aren't signing up as Democrats nor Republicans, but in some other party or as decline to state.
Ventura County is typical of the country politically: Just fewer than 40 percent of the registered voters are Democrats and just fewer than 40 percent are Republicans. So the party faithful cancel out each other's votes — leaving the election to be decided by which party attracts the most votes from among the remaining 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the party primaries consist mainly of bickering over who is the most avid Republican and who is the most avid Democrat. Somehow overlooking the fact that, in order to be elected, the candidates from both major parties will have to attract votes from us political mongrels — whatever we're called.
— Chuck Thomas is a Star columnist whose column appears on the Opinion pages each Saturday. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
She kisses the wind in a cemetery.
So deranged but such a beauty.
Carving her skin with broken glass.
Sprawled out naked on fresh, green grass.
Silence is her best friend.
Seems the voices must have their say.
Nude beauty in the cemetery...
On a bright and sunny day.
Nude Beauty, by Lance Carthen
Have the flying objects -- at least half of them -- over Stephenville been identified?
The military now says that 10 F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron were training between 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Brownwood military operating area, which includes Stephenville and Erath County.
Dozens of people in the area reported seeing UFOs -- and fighter jets -- around dusk on that date. Initially, Air Force Reserve officials said no jets were in the area.
"There was an internal error in communication," said Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth.
Lewis said he had no information about how or why the error occurred. He also said he did not know whether any of those pilots spotted anything unusual.
The statement adds credibility to witnesses interviewed Saturday in Dublin, near Stephenville, by the Mutual UFO Network, said Kenneth Cherry, the group's state director. He said Wednesday's revelation by the military may have been the result of a request the group made under the Freedom of Information Act.
"They knew they were eventually going to have to tell the truth," Cherry said. "They concocted a ridiculous cover story in the beginning, but now they are coming closer to the truth with another cover story."
Several of the approximately 50 witnesses said they saw fighter jets trying -- and failing miserably -- to catch up to the strange aircraft.
Some said the unidentified flying object was up to a mile long and hundreds of yards high. Others described seeing two to eight lights that flew in formation, changed color and shined with an intensity greater than a welding flame.
One witness who reported seeing military jets chasing a UFO was Steve Allen, a pilot and owner of a freight company in Glen Rose.
"We're on the money 100 percent," Allen said after learning of the military's statement. "Something is going on, and we know about it. It's time for the government to start talking about it."
The group expects to investigate the reports for several months before releasing its findings.
It’s scary. People in our great nation say they are frustrated. They say they want change. Even in a recent poll, people said they would rather give someone new a chance at serving in Congress rather than an incumbent. The primaries and polls, however, are not reflecting any real change, except maybe a change in the President’s name. One has to ask, do they even check the voting records of the candidates for which they support?
I read an article that hammered Dr. Ron Paul because he cannot write legislation that he can get passed. Someone wrote me recently and asked why one would consider voting for Kucinich. He, after all, is as left as they come. Cynthia McKinney is running, but you hear almost nothing about her. These are just a few of the people that could change the status quo!
These candidates, one Republican, one Democrat, and one former Democrat now a Green, have voted more consistently FOR our Constitution, in turn for us and the values our Founding Fathers brought to the table, than any of the major candidate running in this election. If you want real change, you better look past the top candidates running and re-evaluate the bottom few. Case in point, here are the voting records of some of the current Presidential candidates with regards to two damning pieces of legislation:
In the interest of fairness, people make mistakes. So…as for supporting votes for the first USA PATRIOT Act in a seemingly desperate time, let us mull over giving a little leeway. BUT consider this, those who voted for the first “PATRIOT Act” voted for something that was a last-minute exchange, “hot-off-the-press,” something no one had a chance to review. Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio tried to make congress well aware of that fact:
“…it just came off the Xerox machine. This isn’t the bill that was adopted by
a unanimous 36-vote majority of the Democrats and Republicans of the Judiciary Committee…these are critical issues, this is what we are fighting for, these are
our civil liberties!”
Did anyone heed his “warning?” Only one Senator, and sixty-six Representatives voted against the original PATRIOT Act. This act, allowing, among other things, for invasion of our privacy via sneak and peek provisions and wiretapping in the name of fighting terrorism, encroaches on some of our very fundamental civil liberties. How could the people we send to represent us let us down so egregiously? Then, to rub salt into an already sore wound, notice those, in the above summary, who supported the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization bill.
It is clear that some of these people are not representing “change.” It is just more of the same rhetoric we have heard a thousand times before.
Obama has garnered the “Obama for Change” title, but does he really represent change? He wasn’t in office to vote for the 2001 PATRIOT Act, but he did vote in favor of its reauthorization. Clinton wants us to believe she stands for change, but she hasn’t changed much since she was our First Lady, reintroducing Universal Health Care. She, too, voted for both versions of the PATRIOT Act.
And what of McCain? He also voted for both PATRIOT Acts. Throw in Hunter and Edwards, since they voted for one, or both, versions of this bill and it looks like no real change is imminent from these few, especially in view of the fact that they all voted to trash our freedoms via their support for these two invasive acts.
Let us take a look at another damning piece of legislation, The Real ID Act. While the original version passed the House, but died out, the clever author, Representative James Sensenbrenner (author of the bill and sponsor of both USA PATRIOT Acts), attached it, as a rider, to H.R. 1268, a Military Spending bill. Let’s take a look at that vote, shall we?
Again we see that Clinton, Hunter, McCain, and Obama voted to throw our freedoms away by voting for a bill that included both the Real ID Act and military spending for this illegal war.
On top of this, since only the Senate can declare a war, the Senate, as a whole, should be voting against everything that pertains to any military spending to support a war they never authorized. Likewise, the House of Representatives should do the same, as there really isn’t a war to fight, since its counterpart in the Legislative Branch has not declared it.
At the writing of this article, there are approximately one hundred thirty-eight people running for President of these United States. Yes, one hundred thirty-eight different people. Have we seen any coverage of any of these people? In addition to the large number of Independent and Third Party candidates, there are thirty-two other Republicans and twenty-one other Democrats running.
Many of the not-so-well-known candidates are relying on the Internet to reach their supporters. Ron Paul’s campaign has done well raising awareness, and money, via the Internet. He had to resort to something, as the mainstream media ignores him almost completely. Dennis Kucinich has to rely on something else, as well, as the print and television media are consistently leaving him out of the news and debate circuit. How are US citizens going to make an informed decision if they can’t hear the other candidates?
And what about Cynthia McKinney? Did you know she was running? While some of the other possible candidates are relatively unknown, she is a former Representative. She has an excellent voting record, when it comes to Constitutional issues. Does she get to debate?
It seems a shame the Presidency of the United States is now, more than ever, a popularity contest. It seems to be more about name recognition than anything else.
Secondly, to be a candidate for the people, you must have millions in funds to run your campaign if you expect to get any exposure. On these two points, alone, our country leaves out many of “we-the-people.”
It is time we recognize, first and foremost, that by allowing the mainstream media to “pick” our candidates, we are not getting the choices we deserve. Secondly, by allowing the GOP and the Democratic parties to keep some of their candidates from debating, we are allowing them to guide the vote, again robbing us from choices we deserve. We-the-People need to speak out or We-the-People will not be heard.
The time has come for you to get involved. If you do not, you will only be getting the status quo. Write or call the networks and the GOP and Democratic offices. Let them know you are unhappy.
Let them know it’s time for real change. Let them know that YOU know there are other possibilities running and it’s about time we heard from some of them. Let’s see if we can’t get a real candidate for the people on the ballot this year!
Peace Please - Thanks For The Posts, LucilleSubmitted by Star Vox on Thu, 01/24/2008 - 12:14am.
peace please my bradaSubmitted by Lucille on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 9:36am.DR Congo set for ceasefire deal
Submitted by Lucille on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 12:35pm.
The war in Congo did not end today.
Just as important, a critical study was released which, hopefully, will jar the mainstream press into abandoning its defense of gorillas and focus on the human beings who are being ignored, abandoned and betrayed in the DRC.
A new International Rescue Committee (IRC) survey has found that 5,400,000 people have died from war-related causes in Congo since 1998. The study does not mince words and terms the war “the world’s deadliest documented conflict since WW II.”
Please peace for humanity.
Do you remember the media talking about the gorillas in Rwanda during the genocide? I do.
Many of those responsible for the atrocities in Rwanda fled to the Congo. Then they continued to use their weapons of mass destruction.
The atrocities are truly unspeakable. I have heard people stop speaking and start crying -- when there were no words.
How do you describe the raping and torturing of babies? How do you describe what is done to the babies after they are tortured?
How do you describe man's inhumanity?
From Heart of Darkness -
The horror! The horror!
I highly recommend the reports and information available at the International Rescue Committee.
I also support the work of the International Rescue Committee.
(It is not permitted to show the faces of young girls. Both of these girls were raped. Although they need surgery to mend their bodies, they are too young to have the required surgery. Along with many other women and girls, they need the surgery so that they can control their bodily functions.)
"One of the greatest detriments to mental and physical well-being is
the unfortunate belief than any unfavorable situation is bound to
get worse instead of better. That concept holds that any illness
will worsen, any war will lead to destruction, that any and all
known dangers will be encountered, and basically that the end result
of mankind's existence is extinction. All of those beliefs impede
mental and physical health, erode the individual's sense of joy and
natural safety, and force the individual to feel like an unfortunate
victim of exterior events that seem to happen despite his own will
"These ideas I have just mentioned are all prominent in your
society, and now and then they return to darken your senses of joy
~ Seth-Jane Roberts
The Way Toward Health, Chapter 1, January 9, 1984 (pg. 20).
"The rational approach, as it is now used, carries a basic
assumption that anything that is wrong will get worse. That belief
of course is highly detrimental because it runs *against*
(underline) the basic principles of life. Were this the case in your
terms of history, the world would never have lasted a century. It
is interesting to note that even before medical science, there were
a goodly number of healthy populations. No disease rubbed out the
~ Seth-Jane Roberts
The Magical Approach, Session 3 (pg. 28).
"When you fear the worst will happen, you are often showing quite
real faith, but in a backwards fashion. For with no direct evidence
of disaster before your eyes, you heartily believe that it will
occur. You have faith in it. (This last was delivered with emphasis
and irony.) That is, indeed, misplaced faith."
~ Seth-Jane Roberts
The God of Jane, Private Seth Session, October 24, 1977
"I am not saying that anyone should pretend that unfavorable
circumstances do not sometimes exist, or that they may not be
encountered in the past, present, or future. It is also true,
however, that *advantageous* events occur with a far greater
frequency than do negative ones otherwise the world that you know
simply would not exist. It would have disappeared in the throes of
destruction or calamity.
"In a basic way, *it is against nature's purposes* to contemplate a
dire future, for all of nature operates on the premise that the
future is assured. Nature is everywhere filled with promise not
only the promise of mere survival, but the promise of beauty and
fulfillment. Once again, the keen sense of promise is innate within
each portion of the body. It triggers the genes and chromosomes
into their proper activity, and it promotes feelings of optimism,
exuberance, and strength..."
"... Live each day as fully and joyfully as possible. Imagine the
best possible results of any plans or projects. Above all, do not
concentrate upon past unfavorable events, or imagined future ones."
~ Seth-Jane Roberts
The Way Toward Health - Chapter 2, p. 81
Seth On Problems:
[Pg. 241, May 31, 1984:]
". . . remind yourself that any situation can be changed for the
better. Remind yourselves constantly that the most favorable
solution to a problem is at least as probable as the most
unfortunate `solution'. Remind yourselves also that despite all of
your worrying, the spirit of life is continually within your
experience, and forms your physical body."
[Pg. 265, June 9, 1984:]
"... do remind yourself that it is far more natural and probable for
any problem to be solved, and that every problem has a
solution . . . "
~ Seth-Jane Roberts
The Way Toward Health (see book details above)
"Whenever possible, minimize the importance of a problem. Forget a
problem and it will go away. Dumb advice, surely, or so it seems.
Yet children know the truth of it. Minimize impediments in your
mind and they do become minimized. Exaggerate impediments in your
mind and in reality they will quickly adopt giant size."
~ Seth-Jane Roberts The Individual
and the Nature of Mass Events,
Note No. 3 for Session 824, p.119-20 AE.)
All quotes: (c) Robert F. Butts
[Thanks to Lucille for this link]January 28, 2008 Issue,The American Conservative
Found in Translation
by Philip Giraldi
Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will. The former FBI translator turned whistleblower tells a chilling story of corruption at Washington’s highest levels—sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage. She may be a first-rate fabulist, but Edmonds’s account is full of dates, places, and names. And if she is to be believed, a treasonous plot to embed moles in American military and nuclear installations and pass sensitive intelligence to Israeli, Pakistani, and Turkish sources was facilitated by figures in the upper echelons of the State and Defense Departments. Her charges could be easily confirmed or dismissed if classified government documents were made available to investigators.
But Congress has refused to act, and the Justice Department has shrouded Edmonds’s case in the state-secrets privilege, a rarely used measure so sweeping that it precludes even a closed hearing attended only by officials with top-secret security clearances. According to the Department of Justice, such an investigation “could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.”
After five years of thwarted legal challenges and fruitless attempts to launch a congressional investigation, Sibel Edmonds is telling her story, though her defiance could land her in jail. After reading its November piece about Louai al-Sakka, an al-Qaeda terrorist who trained 9/11 hijackers in Turkey, Edmonds approached the Sunday Times of London. On Jan. 6, the Times, a Murdoch-owned paper that does not normally encourage exposés damaging to the Bush administration, featured a long article. The news quickly spread around the world, with follow-ups appearing in Israel, Europe, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Japan—but not in the United States.
Edmonds is an ethnic Azerbaijani, born in Iran. She lived there and in Turkey until 1988, when she emigrated to the United States, where she received degrees in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University. Nine days after 9/11, Edmonds took a job at the FBI as a Turkish and Farsi translator. She worked in the 400-person translations section of the Washington office, reviewing a backlog of material dating back to 1997 and participating in operations directed against several Turkish front groups, most notably the American Turkish Council.
The ATC, founded in 1994 and modeled on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was intended to promote Turkish interests in Congress and in other public forums. Edmonds refers to ATC and AIPAC as “sister organizations.” The group’s founders include a number of prominent Americans involved in the Israel-Turkey relationship, notably Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and former congressman Stephen Solarz. Perle and Feith had earlier been registered lobbyists for Turkey through Feith’s company, International Advisors Inc. The FBI was interested in ATC because it suspected that the group derived at least some of its income from drug trafficking, Turkey being the source of 90 percent of the heroin that reaches Europe, and because of reports that it had given congressmen illegal contributions or bribes. Moreover, as Edmonds told the Times, the Turks have “often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less likely to attract attention.”
Over nearly six months, Edmonds listened with increasing unease to hundreds of intercepted phone calls between Turkish, Pakistani, Israeli, and American officials. When she voiced concerns about the processing of this intelligence—among other irregularities, one of the other translators maintained a friendship with one of the FBI’s “high value” targets—she was threatened. After exhausting all appeals through her own chain of command, Edmonds approached the two Department of Justice agencies with oversight of the FBI and sent faxes to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy on the Judiciary Committee. The next day, she was called in for a polygraph. According to a DOJ inspector general’s report, the test found that “she was not deceptive in her answers.”
But two weeks later, Edmonds was fired; her home computer was seized; her family in Turkey was visited by police and threatened with arrest if they did not submit to questioning about an unspecified “intelligence matter.”
When Edmonds’s attorney filed suit to obtain the documents related to her firing, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft imposed the state-secrets gag order. Since then, she has been subjected to another federal order, which not only silenced her, but retroactively classified the statements she eventually made before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the 9/11 Commission.
Charismatic and articulate, the 37-year-old Edmonds has deftly worked the system to get as much of her story out as possible, on one occasion turning to French television to produce a documentary entitled “Kill the Messenger.” Passionate in her convictions, she has sometimes alienated her own supporters and ridden roughshod over critics who questioned her assumptions. But despite her shortcomings in making her case and the legitimate criticism that she may be overreaching in some of her conclusions, Edmonds comes across as credible. Her claims are specific, fact-based, and can be documented in detail. There is presumably an existing FBI file that could demonstrate the accuracy of many of her charges.
Her allegations are not insignificant. Edmonds claims that Marc Grossman—ambassador to Turkey from 1994-97 and undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2001-05—was a person of interest to the FBI and had his phone tapped by the Bureau in 2001 and 2002. In the third-highest position at State, Grossman wielded considerable power personally and within the Washington bureaucracy. He had access to classified information of the highest sensitivity from the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon, in addition to his own State Department. On one occasion, Grossman was reportedly recorded making arrangements to pick up a cash bribe of $15,000 from an ATC contact. The FBI also intercepted related phone conversations between the Turkish Embassy and the Pakistani Embassy that revealed sensitive U.S. government information was being sold to the highest bidder. Grossman, who emphatically denies Edmonds’s charges, is currently vice chairman of the Cohen Group, founded by Clinton defense secretary William Cohen, where he reportedly earns a seven-figure salary, much of it coming from representing Turkey.
After 9/11, Grossman reportedly intervened with the FBI to halt the interrogation of four Turkish and Pakistani operatives. According to Edmonds, Grossman was called by a Turkish contact who told him that the men had to be released before they told what they knew. Grossman said that he would take care of it and, per Edmonds, the men were released and allowed to leave the country.
Edmonds states that FBI phone taps from late 2001 reveal that Grossman tipped off his Turkish contact regarding the CIA weapons proliferation cover unit Brewster Jennings, which was being used by Valerie Plame, and that the Turk then informed the Pakistani intelligence service representative in Washington. It is to be assumed that the information was then passed on to the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.
Edmonds also claims that Grossman was instrumental in seeding Turkish and Israeli Ph.D. students into major American research labs by godfathering visas and enabling security clearances. She says that she reviewed transcripts in which the moles in the U.S. military and academic community involved in nuclear technology reportedly carried out several “transactions” involving the sale of nuclear material or information relating to nuclear programs every month, with Pakistan being a primary buyer. In the summer of 2000, the FBI recorded a meeting between a Turkish official and two Saudi businessmen in Detroit in which nuclear information stolen from an Air Force base in Alabama was offered: “We have a package and we’re going to sell it for $250,000,” the wiretap allegedly recorded. “The network appeared to be obtaining information from every nuclear agency in the United States,” Edmonds told the Times.
She further reports that beginning in 1999, the FBI was investigating senior Pentagon officials who were assisting agents of foreign governments, including Turkey and Israel. Edmonds has not publicly named names at the Pentagon, but a website linked to her appears to be a non-incriminating instrument for identifying suspects without doing so directly. Its “rogues gallery” includes photos of Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. Perle was chief of the Pentagon’s prestigious Defense Policy Board when Edmonds was working at the FBI, and Feith was undersecretary of defense for policy. If either were being investigated, it would be a matter of record, as would any reasons for dropping the investigation. “If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials,” Edmonds told the Times.
She claims to have also learned that corrupt officials in the Turkish and Israeli Ministries of Defense falsified end-user certificates on weapons purchased in the United States to enable sales to third countries not allowed access to the technology. Principal recipients include the five “Stans” in central Asia—Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.
Furthermore, Edmonds says that former House speaker Dennis Hastert and at least two other congressmen were investigated as suspected recipients of illegal political contributions or even bribes from Turkish sources. Her website gallery includes photos of Congressmen Roy Blount, Dan Burton, and Tom Lantos, though she has not otherwise implicated any of the three directly.
A low-level contractor might seem poorly positioned to expose major breaches of national security, but the FBI translators’ pool, riddled with corruption and nepotism, was key to keeping these secrets from surfacing. Edmonds’s claims that the section was infiltrated by translators who should never have received security clearances and who were deliberately failing to translate incriminating material are supported by the Justice Department inspector general investigation and by an FBI internal investigation, which concluded that she had been fired after making “valid complaints.” One translator, Melek Can Dickerson, who had worked for three Turkish front organizations under investigation—she failed to reveal this when applying for employment—allegedly stamped many documents of interest “not pertinent,” removed classified documents from FBI premises, and forged signatures on classified documents relating to 9/11 detainees. An Urdu translator was the daughter of a Pakistani Embassy employee who worked for Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, the head of the Pakistani intelligence service who is accused of authorizing a $100,000 wire transfer to Mohammed Atta’s Dubai bank account immediately before 9/11. The Justice Department IG report confirmed Edmonds’s charge that translators’ section managers issued a go-slow order shortly after the terrorist attacks to create an artificial backlog that would justify an increase in budget and manpower. Those managers are reportedly still in place. Some have been promoted.
Edmonds’s revelations have attracted corroboration in the form of anonymous letters apparently written by FBI employees. There have been frequent reports of FBI field agents being frustrated by the premature closure of cases dealing with foreign spying, particularly when those cases involve Israel, and the State Department has frequently intervened to shut down investigations based on “sensitive foreign diplomatic relations.” One such anonymous letter, the veracity of which cannot be determined, cites transcripts of wiretaps involving Marc Grossman and a Turkish Embassy official between August and December 2001, described above, in which Grossman warned the Turk that Brewster Jennings was a CIA cover company. If the allegation can be documented from FBI files, the exposure of the Agency cover mechanism took place long before journalist Robert Novak outed the company in his column on Valerie Plame in 2003. The anonymous informant conveniently provides the FBI file number containing the transcripts of the recorded conversations: FBI Washington Field Office, Counterintelligence Division, Turkish Unit File 203A-WF-210023. According to the source, the FBI also recorded a subsequent conversation in which a Turkish official contacted the Pakistani Embassy to inform an ISI officer of Grossman’s warning. The FBI also reportedly informed the CIA of the Grossman conversations to determine if there was any “conflict of interest,” presumably to determine if the CIA was running its own operation that might be compromised as a result of the phone tap.
Curiously, the states-secrets gag order binding Edmonds, while put in place by DOJ in 2002, was not requested by the FBI but by the State Department and Pentagon—which employed individuals she identified as being involved in criminal activities. If her allegations are frivolous, that order would scarcely seem necessary. It would have been much simpler for the government to marginalize her by demonstrating that she was poorly informed or speculating about matters outside her competency. Under the Bush administration, the security gag order has been invoked to cover up incompetence or illegality, not to protect national security. It has recently been used to conceal the illegal wiretaps of the warrantless surveillance program, the allegations of torture and the CIA’s rendition program, and to shield the telecom industry for its collaboration in illegal eavesdropping.
Both Senators Grassley and Leahy, a Republican and a Democrat, who interviewed her at length in 2002, attest to Edmonds’s believability. The Department of Justice inspector general investigation into her claims about the translations unit and an internal FBI review confirmed most of her allegations. Former FBI senior counterintelligence officer John Cole has independently confirmed her report of the presence of Pakistani intelligence service penetrations within the FBI translators’ pool.
Edmonds wasn’t angling to become a media darling. She would have preferred to testify under oath before a congressional committee that could offer legal protection and subpoena documents and witnesses to support her case. She claims that a number of FBI agents would be willing to testify, though she has not named them.
Prior to 2006, Congressman Henry Waxman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee promised Edmonds that if the Democrats gained control of Congress, he would order hearings into her charges. But following the Democratic sweep, he has been less forthcoming, failing to schedule hearings, refusing to take Edmonds’s calls, and recently stonewalling all inquiries into the matter. It is generally believed that Waxman, a strong supporter of Israel, is nervous about exposing an Israeli lobby role in the corruption that Edmonds describes. It is also suspected that Waxman fears that the revelations might open a Pandora’s box, damaging Republicans and Democrats alike.
Edmonds’s critics maintain that she saw only a small part of the picture in a highly compartmentalized working environment, that she was privy to only a fragment of a large operation to penetrate and disrupt the groups that have been stealing U.S. weapons technology. She could not have known operational details of what the FBI was doing and why.
That criticism is serious and must be addressed. If Edmonds was indeed seeing only part of a counterintelligence sting operation to entrap a nuclear network like that of A.Q. Khan, the government could now reveal as much in general terms, since any operation that might have been running in 2002 has long since wound down. Regarding her access to operational information, Edmonds’s critics clearly do not understand the intimate relationship that develops between FBI and CIA officers and their translators. Operations run against a foreign target in languages other than English require an intensive collaboration between field officers and translators. The translators are invariably brought into the loop because it is up to them to guide the officers seeking to understand what the target, who frequently is double talking or attempting to conceal his meaning, is actually saying. That said, it should be conceded that Edmonds might sometimes have seen only a piece of the story, and those claims based on her own interpretation should be regarded with caution.
Another objection is that Edmonds would only have seen “raw intelligence” that does not provide nuance and does not really indicate whether someone is guilty. That argument has merit, and it is undeniable that many intercepted communications lack context. But it ignores the fact that someone recorded in the act of taking a bribe or interceding to have a suspect in a criminal investigation released is behaving with a certain transparency. One either takes money or does not. There is very little interpretation that can change that reality.
Sibel Edmonds makes a number of accusations about specific criminal behavior that appear to be extraordinary but are credible enough to warrant official investigation. Her allegations are documentable: an existing FBI file should determine whether they are accurate. It’s true that she probably knows only part of the story, but if that part is correct, Congress and the Justice Department should have no higher priority. Nothing deserves more attention than the possibility of ongoing national-security failures and the proliferation of nuclear weapons with the connivance of corrupt senior government officials.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.
The great Chinese dragon which is the greatest dragon in all the
world and which once upon a time was towed across the
Pacific by a crew of coolies rowing in an open boat—was
the first real live dragon ever actually to reach these shores
And the great Chinese dragon passing thru the Golden Gate
spouting streams of water like a string of fireboats then broke
loose somewhere near China Camp gulped down a hundred
Chinese seamen and forthwith ate all the shrimp in San Francisco Bay
And the great Chinese dragon was therefore forever after confined
in a Chinatown basement and ever since allowed out only for
Chinese New Year’s parades and other Unamerican demonstrations
paternally watched-over by those benevolent men in
blue who represent our more advanced civilization which has
reached such a high state of democracy as to allow even a
few barbarians to carry on their quaint native customs in our midst
And thus the great Chinese dragon which is the greatest dragon
in all the world now can only be seen creeping out of an
Adler Alley cellar like a worm out of a hole sometime during
the second week in February every year when it sorties out
of hibernation in its Chinese storeroom pushed from behind
by a band of fortythree Chinese electricians and technicians
who stuff its peristaltic accordion-body up thru a sidewalk
And first the swaying snout appears and then the eyes at ground
level feeling along the curb and then the head itself casting
about and swayingand heaving finally up to the corner of
Grant Avenue itself where a huge paper sign proclaims the
World’s Largest Chinatown
And the great Chinese dragon’s jaws wired permanently agape as
if by a demented dentist to display the Cadmium teeth as the
hungry head heaves out into Grant Avenue right under the
sign and raising itself with a great snort of fire suddenly proclaims
the official firecracker start of the Chinese New Year
And the lightbulb eyes lighting up and popping out on coiled wire
springs and the body stretching and rocking further and
further around the corner and down Grant Avenue like a
caterpillar rollercoaster with the eyes sprung out and waving
in the air like the blind feelers of some mechanical preying
mantis and the eyes blinking on and off with Chinese red
pupils and tiny bamboo-blind eyelids going up and down
And here comes the St. Mary’s Chinese Girls’ Drum Corps and
here come sixteen white men in pith helmets beating big bass
drums representing the Order of the Moose and here comes
a gang of happy car salesmen disguised as Islam Shriners
and here comes a chapter of the Order of Improved Red Men
and here comes a cordon of motorcycle cops in crash helmets
with radios going followed by a small papier-mâché lion fed
with Nekko wafers and run by two guys left over from a
Ten-Ten festival which in turn is followed by the great
Chinese dragon itself gooking over balconies as it comes
And the great Chinese dragon has eaten a hundred humans and
their legs pop out of his underside and are his walking legs
which are not mentioned in the official printed program in
which he is written up as the Great Golden Dragon made in
Hong Kong to the specifications of the Chinese Chamber of
Commerce and he represents the force and mystery of life
and his head sways in the sky between the balconies as he
comes followed by six Chinese boy scouts wearing Keds and
carrying strings of batteries that light up the dragon like a
And he has lain all winter among a heap of collapsed paper
lanterns and green rubber lizards and ivory backscratchers
with the iron sidewalk doors closed over his head but he has
now sprung up with the first sign of Spring like the force of
life itself and his head sways in the sky and gooks in green
windows as he comes
And he is a monster with the head of a dog and the body of a
serpent risen yearly out of the sea to devour a virgin thrown
from a cliff to appease him and he is a young man handsome
and drunk ogling the girls and he has high ideals and a
hundred sport shoes and he says No to Mother and he is a
big red table the world will never tilt and he has big eyes
everywhere thru which he sees all womankind milkwhite and
dove-breasted and he will eat their waterflowers for he is the
cat with future feet wearing Keds and he eats cake out of
pastry windows and is hungrier and more potent and more
powerful and more omnivorous than the papier-mâché lion
run by the two guys and he is a great earthworm of lucky life
filled with flowing Chinese semen and he considers his own
and our existence in its most profound sense as he comes and
he has no Christian answer to the existential question even
as he sees the spiritual everywhere translucent in the material
world and he does not want to escape the responsibility of
being a dragon or the consequences of his long horny tail still
buried in the basement but the blue citizens on their talking
cycles think that he wants to escape and at all costs he must
not be allowed to escape because the great Chinese dragon
is the greatest potential dragon in all the world and if allowed
to escape from Chinatown might gallop away up their new
freeway at the Broadway entrance mistaking it for a Great
Wall of China or some other barbarian barrier and so go
careening along it chewing up stanchions and signposts and
belching forth some strange disintegrating medium which
might melt down the great concrete walls of America and
they are afraid of how far the great Chinese dragon might
really go starting from San Francisco and so they have
secretly and securely tied down the very end of his
tail in its
this great pulsing phallus of life at the very end of its parade
at the very end of Chinatown gives ones wild orgasm of a shudder
and rolls over fainting in the bright night street since even
for a dragon every orgasm is a little death
And then the great Chinese dragon starts silently shrinking and
shriveling up and drawing back and back to its first cave
and the soft silk skin wrinkles up and shrinks and
shrinks on its sprung bamboo bones and the handsome
dejected head hangs down like a defeated prizefighter’s and
so is stuffed down again a last into its private place and the
cellar sidewalk doors press down again over the great wilted
head with one small hole of an eye blinking still thru the
gratings of the metal doors as the great Chinese dragon gives
one last convulsive earthquake shake and rolls over dead-dog
to wait another white year for the final coming and the final
sowing of his oats and teeth
I told you that the self was not limited, yet surely you think that your self stops where your skin meets space, that you are inside your skin. Yet your environment is an extension of yourself. It is the body of your experience, coalesced in physical form. The inner self forms the objects that you know as surely and automatically as it forms your finger or your eye.
Your environment is the physical picture of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs made visible. Since your thoughts, emotions and beliefs move through space and time, you therefore affect physical conditions separate from you.
Consider the spectacular framework of your body just from the physical standpoint. You perceive it as solid, as you perceive all other physical matter; yet the more matter is explored the more obvious it becomes that within it energy takes on specific shape (in the form of organs, cells, molecules, atoms, electrons), each less physical than the last, each combining in mysterious gestalt to form matter.
The atoms within your body spin. There is constant commotion and activity. The flesh that seemed so solid turns out to be composed of swiftly moving particles--often orbiting each other--in which great exchanges of energy continually occur.
The stuff, the space outside of your body, is composed of the same elements, but in different proportions. There is a constant physical inter¬change between the structure you call your body and the space outside it; chemical interactions, basic exchanges without which life as you know it would be impossible.
To hold your breath is to die. Breath, which represents the most intimate and most necessary of your physical sensations, must flow out from what you are, passing into the world that seems to be not you. Physically, portions of you leave your body constantly and intermix with the ele¬ments. You know what happens when adrenalin is released through the bloodstream. It stirs you up and prepares you for action. But in other ways the adrenalin does not just stay in your body. It is cast into the air and it affects the atmosphere, though it is transformed.
Any of your emotions liberate hormones, but these also leave you as your breath leaves you; and in that respect you can say that you release chemicals into the air that then affect it.
Physical storms, then, are caused by such interactions. I am telling you that you form your own reality once again, and this includes the physical weather--which is the result, en masse, of your individual reactions.
You are in physical existence to learn and understand that your energy, translated into feelings, thoughts and emotions, causes all experience. There are no exceptions.
The peace symbol has come to be one of those universal images, imprinted upon the collective memory, familiar and seen everywhere, taking on various roles in different movements and even becoming a part of fashion, but is rarely really thought about or explored on a deeper level (at least in more recent years). I myself have been guilty of this - only recently did I learn that the peace symbol was developed by a graphic designer for an anti-nuke campaign in England in 1958. Which makes this upcoming year the 50th birthday of the ubiquitous peace sign, celebrated by the release of a new book, Peace: The Biography of a Symbol by Ken Kolsbun with Michael Sweeney.
Published by National Geographic Books, the history of the peace sign is traced from it's origins as a symbol commissioned to represent the Ban the Bomb activists who gathered in Trafalgar square in April of 1858 to protest the testing of nuclear weapons. From that point on, the symbol, designed by Gerald Holtom, has spread throughout the world, taking on new forms and constantly being adopted for new causes.
Peace: The Biography of a Symbol will be available starting in April of 2008. Given the timing, I for one am interested in what the response will be, and where the nation and the world in general will be at this time. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com (not all shopping is bad now is it John?)
PEACE: The Biography of a Symbol
by Ken Kolsbun, with Michael Sweeney
(National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0294-0; April 1, 2008; $25 hardcover)
Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Sign
WASHINGTON (Dec 21, 2007) -- The peace symbol. It is recognized around the globe. It has become an enduring cultural icon. For five decades, millions of people worldwide, regardless of race or religious beliefs, have looked to the peace sign to unite them. And the symbol's appeal continues with each succeeding generation.
In April 2008 the peace sign turns 50. To commemorate this anniversary, National Geographic Books is publishing a tribute that traces the world-famous pictogram as it evolved from a 1950s anti-nuke emblem to a defining icon still widely seen and used today. PEACE: The Biography of a Symbol (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0294-0; April 1, 2008; $25 hardcover), by Ken Kolsbun, with Michael Sweeney, is a one-of-a-kind story about the origin of the peace sign, the man who created it and its enduring relevance through the past 50 years.
The story of the peace sign began in the spring of 1958 when peace activists, clergy and Quakers in Great Britain organized a rally to draw attention to the testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons by some of the world's most powerful countries. Gerald Holtom, a textile designer and commercial artist from Twickenham, suggested the demonstrators carry posters and banners with a simple visual symbol he had designed. He created the symbol by combining the semaphore letters N and D, for nuclear disarmament.
On April 4, 1958, 5,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to show support for the Ban the Bomb movement, then walked the few miles to the town of Aldermaston, site of an atomic weapons research plant. The first peace signs appeared during that march and a second Aldermaston march the following year. From there it took flight, appearing on flags, clothes, even scratched on walls and signposts, all over Europe.
Easy to remember and reproduce, the symbol soon crossed borders and cultures in a phenomenal way. It became a classic symbol, an icon of peace for the people. Like a chameleon, the symbol took on additional meanings during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the environmental movement, women's and gay rights movements and the two Iraqi wars.
The symbol "continues to exert almost hypnotic appeal. It's become a rallying cry for almost any group working for social change. I'm fascinated by the simplicity of the peace symbol and how people have used it, worn it, adapted it. Each iteration of the symbol seems unique, because it bears the artistic touch of the person replicating it," writes Kolsbun.
PEACE takes readers on a journey through five decades as Kolsbun presents 50 years of history in pictures and words to tell the fascinating story of mankind's elusive pursuit of peace and the symbol that represents that quest. The book contains iconic images from Kolsbun's own collection as well as a variety of historical archives, illustrating both the symbol itself and the larger history it helped shape. Many of the photographs have seldom been seen before.
Kolsbun recounts the controversy inspired by the peace symbol, including several legal trials that challenged its very existence, and he debunks a number of incorrect theories about the sign, such as its being a symbol of the devil.
Although it's a sign that baby boomers identify with, it has cross-generational appeal. "Children of today easily identify it. They may not know its original meaning, but they know it stands for good things -- be nice to friends, be kind to animals, no fighting. This is a marvelous achievement for Gerald Holtom's simple design. Peoples around the world have marched with it, worn it, displayed it during combat, held it high on banners, and been arrested in its name. Ask any man, woman, or child, 'What one thing would everyone in the world want more than anything else?' The answer would surely be world peace," Kolsbun concludes in his epilogue.
Kolsbun, a self-described Jack-of-all trades, is a photographer, writer, historian, peace activist, game inventor, landscape architect, horticulturalist, baseball fan, mail-order catalog designer, husband and father. He continues to be active in the peace movement and is an authority of the peace symbol. He lives in Forestville, Calif.
Sweeney is a professor of journalism at Utah State University. He is the award-winning author of "Secrets of Victory," which was named 2001 Book of the Year by the American Journalism Historians Association, of the National Geographic book "God Grew Tired of Us," with John Bul Dau.
Nairobi's slums have seen some of the worst violence
At least 30 people have been killed in a weekend of continuing post-election violence in Kenya, reports say.
In the worst incident 22 people in a Rift Valley camp for displaced people reportedly died after being attacked by mobs armed with machetes and arrows.
Three were also killed with machetes in a Nairobi slum and a further five died in unrest elsewhere in the country.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to meet political leaders on Tuesday as part of mediation efforts.
EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel has already been trying to mediate an end to the crisis over the presidential vote. He met President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga and urged both sides to stop exacerbating tensions.
The bodies of the three killed in Mathare on Sunday bore machete marks. Witnesses said the violence had a tribal element between Kikuyus, the tribe of Mr Kibaki, and Luo, the ethnic group which Mr Odinga is from.
Houses have been burned down and people forced from their homes
An Associated Press reporter saw the body of one man who was beaten to death, apparently a Luo caught by a group of Kikuyus. Another man staggered past, blood streaming from his mutilated arm after a machete attack, the reporter adds.
A Luo woman who spoke to Reuters said she had been asked what tribe she was from.
"Even before I could tell them, they took my bag and even wanted to cut me with a machete," she said. "I was just saved by the grace of God, they have taken everything I had."
Musalia Mudavadi, an official from Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), visited the injured in hospital and attacked the actions of the police.
"Now we are seeing cases of the police actually giving way and allowing people to attack each other," he told AP.
In the Rift Valley, 22 people sheltering in an improvised displacement camp at Kipkelion have been attacked and killed with machetes and arrows in the past three days.
There were also reports of five people being killed at Elburgon, also in the Rift Valley, as a mob of more than 150 people armed with improvised weapons attacked villagers burned their homes.
The BBC's Adam Mynott says much of Kenya remains peaceful, but areas that have experienced ethnic tensions are still very dangerous.
Despite protests from aid agencies, camps for displaced people in Nairobi and Mombasa are being shut down. The government argues that the affected parts of the two cities are now safe and affected people may now return to their homes.
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the 27 December election, say they will resume protest rallies on Thursday.
In Kisumu in western Kenya, where some 100 people have died in the violence, ODM leaders are attending a large inter-denominational prayer session at the main stadium to remember the victims.
The disturbances across the country have left more than 600 people dead and a quarter of a million homeless.
Now there is a need for a military ceasefire and also for a semantic rhetoric ceasefire
EU development commissioner
Mr Michel, who met political leaders from both sides in Nairobi, said he was concerned that the Kenyan police were using excessive force against opposition demonstrators.
But he also criticised the opposition's decision to resume mass rallies which could lead to more violence.
"Now there is a need for a military ceasefire and also for a semantic rhetoric ceasefire," he said.
"Now we need a quiet situation, we need just a little bit positive silence."
The ODM, which wants a re-run of the election, had originally called off protests in favour of a boycott of companies that back President Kibaki.
Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights cast doubt on the vote, listing a catalogue of irregularities on Friday.
DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates plans to start building a multi-billion-dollar green city in the desert in the first quarter of this year, as the oil producer looks to become a pioneer of alternative energy.The zero-carbon, zero waste city -- actually a town of up to 15,000 residents -- is being steered by Masdar, an initiative set up by the Abu Dhabi government to develop sustainable and clean energy.It is one of a string of projects that the world's fifth-largest oil exporter is eyeing as it looks to reduce some the world's highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions, Masdar's Chief Executive Sultan al-Jaber told Reuters."We will break ground on the city in the first quarter," Jaber said.Taking old cities from the Arab world as inspiration, the plans show narrow streets, squat buildings and no cars. Solar panels will act as awnings to shelter pedestrians from the sun.Transport will be futuristic travel pods that do not consume gasoline. Solar and wind energy will power the city and its water desalination plant."We recognise the carbon footprint of the UAE and are working on a number of fronts to help reduce our emissions. Our objective is to make Abu Dhabi the centre of the future of energy."According to a UN Development Programme report issued last year, UAE greenhouse gas emissions were 34.1 tonnes per head in 2004, the third highest in the world after Qatar and Kuwait and well above US per capita emissions of 20.6 tonnes.The alternative energy projects also aim to place the UAE at forefront of the future energy industry after oil and enhance its reputation at a time of growing concern over climate change.Jaber declined to estimate the cost of building the city in the harsh desert climate, but said it would be above previous estimates in local media of US$5 billion. It will be part funded by the Abu Dhabi government with partners investing the rest.The city will house around 14,000 to 15,000 people and have workspace for around 50,000, he said.UK architects Fosters & Partners, famed for such designs as Berlin's Reichstag and London's Wembley Stadium, are the master planners. The first stage of construction should be finished in 2009 and the entire city completed in 2016, Jaber said.Masdar aims to build a 30 megawatt solar power plant to power the construction and intends to attract companies working on clean and sustainable energy to the city.The earliest stage involves the construction of a graduate research institute dedicated to alternative energy. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is collaborating with Masdar on development of the institute.Masdar is working with the World Wildlife Fund to ensure the city meets WWF principles of sustainability, Jaber said.CARBON CAPTURE, INVESTMENTMasdar plans to develop a nationwide network of carbon capture and storage projects (CCS) to pump greenhouse gases into oilfields, reducing emissions while boosting oil output.CCS, an as yet commercially unproven technology, should free up natural gas that is now reinjected to push oil out of oilfields. The UAE needs the gas for power generation to meet rising demand as petrodollars fuel an economic boom.Canada's SNC-Lavalin is finalising a feasibility study for the project and Masdar hopes to have a better idea of how to proceed by the second quarter this year, Jaber said.Masdar is investing in energy and sustainable technology companies through a US$250 million clean technology fund. The fund is a joint venture with Credit Suisse and the UK's Consensus Business Group, which invests in companies that may have technology that can be commercialised in the UAE in future."We have been investing in early stage companies, mainly solar and wind, we've invested in a number of them," he said.Abu Dhabi is one of seven emirates in the UAE, and holds over 90 percent of the country's oil reserves. (Reporting by Simon Webb, editing by Anthony Barker)Story by Simon Webb
"The drive of the Rockefellers and their allies is to create a one-world government combining supercapitalism and Communism under the same tent, all under their control.... Do I mean conspiracy? Yes I do. I am convinced there is such a plot, international in scope, generations old in planning, and incredibly evil in intent."
Congressman Larry P. McDonald, 1976, killed in the Korean Airlines 747 that was shot down by the Soviets
Dana Perino, Josh Bolten, Stephen Hadley, and Ed Gillespie blogged the president’s trip to the Middle East this week. It’s the first White House blog, but yet another example of key players in the government getting behind the keyboard. While the White House blog is limited to the president’s Middle East trip, the State Department’s blog, DipNote is part of a long-term effort to offer “the public an alternative source to mainstream media for U.S. foreign policy information.” Their success is dependent on whether or not the Administration can adapt to this new phase of the information revolution. Under the banner of “Web 2.0,” recent years have seen a shift from a one-way broadcast of data to a two-way broad exchange and collaboration. A communication strategy should reflect this new paradigm, matching content to what the individual is interested in via a multiplicity of online venues.
A blog is short for web log, in which a user publishes their daily thoughts and interests in a diary format on the Internet. In April 2007, Technocrati, a blog tracking application, announced that it now monitors more than 70 million blogs, with 120,000 new blogs being created worldwide each day.  Blogs can speed through cyberspace when promoted through social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. In this context, the reader can become a powerful relay station. Facebook alone has 60 million active users and is the sixth most trafficked site in the country. The volume of information is such that it must be synthesized through self-updating applications that sort content from user-chosen website feeds. RSS, the most popular type of feed, enables content to be read through an application without visiting the site, saving enormous amounts of time. Information is both specialized and personal; there is not enough time to sift through the boring or less engaging.
With information spreading so quickly, it’s critical for the government to take part. Donald Rumsfeld quoted Mark Twain in an effort to explain the new predicament: “A lie can be half way around the world before the truth has its boots on.” DipNote was launched by the State Department in September 2007 to wide criticism. Even with such a rough start, a post from the UN Dispatch (a blog run by the UN Foundation) made the case for more commentary: “Our discussions would surely be enhanced should State Department experts chime in from time to time.” Even if the message of a government blog is an official one, undoubtedly vetted for hours, there is a desire to hear what it has to say.
DipNote covers a variety of subjects, including critical foreign policy issues, discussion threads on current events, the daily life of Foreign Service Officers, and behind-the-scenes views of state visits. This wide range of content is far from specialized, personal, or engaging. In the realm of Web 2.0, each of these components is necessary to capture and hold a reader who is already suffering from information-overload.
Establishing a variety of blogs pertaining to particular interests, would enable the State Department to engage foreign policy bloggers, everyday news readers, and traditional media. It will allow for more specialized conversations in discussion threads and create an atmosphere to examine well-informed suggestions.
In addition to reviewing their current blog content, the State Department should make an effort to make all of its web content easily sharable. This enables other bloggers to do the work of spreading the message, even if they add their personal opinions. While it has already made some of its content available via RSS feeds, it should create feeds for regional and issue-specific happenings. Further, it should take cues from news sites and make content easily sharable on social networking sites.
In a more informal vein, the State Department should echo what it has done in its outside efforts. Last year it established a cadre of bloggers, known as the Digital Outreach Team, to engage foreign blogs and online chat rooms to advance the US message. It would be in the State Department’s best interests to establish a similar group to engage US based blogs and forums to counter misconceptions, answer questions and provide resources.
There is little doubt that Web 2.0 tools and strategies are powerful, but it is important to realize that any official government message will be approached with skepticism, regardless of the venue. While taking advantage of its benefits, the tools of Web 2.0 are no replacement for a strong message. Previous administrations have incorporated the new media of their time to create connections with their audience, from Roosevelt and his fireside chats to Kennedy’s live press conferences. While the means of communication are being revolutionized, the basics of good communication remain true. A blog is not a replacement for other efforts nor is it a buzzword for sound bytes, but a step forward in open government that extends a message in a personal way to millions of people.
Stewart A. Alexander Socialist Party USA Nominee for Vice President and candidate for nomination by Peace and Freedom Party January 19, 2008 As the U.S. plunges deeper into the worse economic recession in the past 30 years, the Feds are laying out proposals and recommending tax refunds of $300 to $800 for individuals. The Feds are suggesting that this should reach the hands of those who will spend it quickly, thus helping to boost the economy. Only yesterday, President Bush spoke to the nation introducing an economic package that will provide working families some available cash for spending; tax breaks up to $800 for individuals and up to $1,600 for married couples. The Bush administration and Congress has growing concerns about the weak economy as the housing market continues to slide, and inflation and the nations unemployment lines continue to increase. Washington is also concerned about a volatile stock market that is indicating that investors are very concerned about the U.S. economy. The economic rescue package, presented by the president will total $150 billion and it is designed to offer a quick stimulus to the ailing economy. It is extremely unlikely that working people will benefit from the economic package presented by President Bush; millions of working people are presently behind on house payments, auto payments and are finding it difficult to pay monthly bills, including the cost for food, gas and fuel for home heating. Today, a majority of working class people are living from check to check and are struggling to keep up with the cost of living. The larger concern in the U.S. economy is the continuous slide of the housing market. Analyst in the housing market are projecting that upwards of 2 million homeowners could lose their homes in 2008 as the housing market continues to slide; it is also affecting the automobile industry and the credit markets. Socialists are rejecting these meager efforts that will not result in any meaningful economic solutions for working people. Millions of working people have not been able to keep up with the cost of living; paychecks have remained the same or have gotten smaller and an extra $300 to $1,600 will not solve their financial woes. What is needed is a stimulus package that will create millions of jobs and will offer economic relief to working people. The majority of working people need an extra $1,500 to $2,500 monthly and this will require creating good paying jobs. Working people need real jobs and real solutions, and socialism is the only system of government that will work for working people. The economic solutions that are needed for the present U.S. recession will require the investment of approximately $5 trillion over the next decade. It will require the U.S. government investing in jobs to build affordable housing, investing in manufacturing, transportation and rebuilding the nations infrastructure. In 2008, millions of voters will have the opportunity to vote for a change of direction for the U.S. economy. Voters will have the opportunity to vote Democrat or Republican, votes that will only expand U.S. imperialism; or they can vote Peace and Freedom Party, Socialist Party USA and for socialist candidates to invest in jobs, the economy and peace. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Independent Voters Rejecting Democrats and Republicans. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=39173http://miami.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/6839.php
[Tonight I listened to the Peace and Freedom/Socialist/Socialism&Liberation Party debates on an archive on KPFA.]
PSL Candidates Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear
What we stand for
U.S. OUT OF IRAQ NOW
End the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Bring all the troops home now.
Stop U.S. blockades & sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Korea, Sudan and everywhere.
End U.S. aid to Israel—Support the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination.
Free Puerto Rico.
International friendship and solidarity, not imperialist domination.
FIGHT THE CORPORATE BOSSES
Full employment—decent jobs for all. Job training for youth & the unemployed.
Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour now.
Free, quality healthcare for all.
Expand and guarantee social security for all retired workers, disabled and unemployed people.
Stop union-busting, expand the right to organize, including card-check recognition.
Free, high quality education from pre-school through college.
Housing is a right—End foreclosures and evictions.
Stop environmental destruction—Make the polluters pay.
Rebuild New Orleans—Right of return for all survivors.
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL
Fight racism and the racist criminal “justice” system.
Defend women’s reproductive rights, including the right to choose.
Full rights for all immigrants.
Reparations now for the African American community.
Eliminate anti-LGBT laws—Equal marriage rights for all.
Equality for disabled people.
Stop police brutality and mass incarceration.
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Cuban 5, Angola 3, S.F. 8 and all political prisoners.
End the rule of the billionaires, bankers and militarists—fight for workers’ democracy.
We need a sustainable economy based on meeting people’s needs, not making the rich richer.
We need socialism!
KPFA brings you a debate between the presidential candidates for the Peace and Freedom Party, moderated by Kris Welch.http://aud1.kpfa.org/data/20080118-Fri1200.mp3
A message from the State Chair:Thanks for visiting our web site. Here is some general information about Peace and Freedom Party:For more than 40 years the Peace and Freedom Party has been a consistent voice for the needs of working people, the poor, minorities, and under-represented groups. As a ballot qualified party in California, Peace and Freedom Party nominates and runs candidates who use the electoral system to campaign for the issues that matter to people.The party promotes social and economic justice, true democracy, peace, full employment, racial and ethnic equality, environmentalism, feminism, socialism, gay rights, workers' rights, and labor unions through co-operation rather than competition.
Antiwar activist, independent (Green Party endorsed) candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida in 2006. Moore received the party's official presidential nomination at its National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri on October 20, 2007
Here is Dennis Kucinich’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it issue an injunction, putting him on the Texas Democratic presidential primary ballot. Since Texas is part of the 5th circuit, Justice Antonin Scalia has jurisdiction over this request. He is free to decide, or also free to refer the matter to the full court. His decision, or the decision of the entire Court, is likely to come on Friday, January 19, since Texas wants to start printings its ballots. Even if Kucinich fails to get injunctive relief, he plans to keep the case alive, to obtain a judgment about the constitutionality of the Texas Democratic presidential oath.
The U.S. District Court decision upholding the oath, issued January 17, says, “Kucinich may still exercise his speech rights in myriad ways. Also, he could have chosen to be a candidate in the Texas Republican primary, a third-party candidate, or an independent candidate.” The Texas Republican Party does not require presidential candidates to sign an oath saying they will support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
http://californiansforhealthsecurity.org/Initiative petitions are circulating for Universal Health CareThe California Health Security Plan, which will provide free, quality health care to all residents of California has been cleared by the Attorney General to begin collecting signatures to qualify for the November 2008 ballot.The Attorney General's Summary estimates it will cost only in "the low tens of billions of dollars" for all Californians could be covered by quality medical, dental, vision care and mental health services. Currently about seven million Californians have no medical coverage, and millions more have expensive and inadequate coverage.This initiative, which will amend the state's constitution, is a "single-payer" plan, which will turn all medical billing over the state, thereby, preventing for-profit corporations from gouging the public and dictating to doctors. It will also circumvent the ongoing stalemate in the California legislature and in the governor's office about what to to with the healthcare crisis. Due to systemic conflicts no legislative solution has been presented and is likely to pass the coming year.The California Health Security Plan was initiated by healthcare care advocates, labor and community activists who are determined to provide the people of California the opportunity to vote on a state plan to provide healthcare for all.The initiative includes an elected board of the California Health Security Plan with power to negotiate with drug companies and all healthcare providers for the best price for Californians. With a bargaining power of more than 30 million people, this in itself would save billions of dollars in costs presently going to the pharmaceutical industry and for profit HMO's and hospital chains.To ensure the best quality health care, the California Health Security Plan will include at least 95 percent of all health care spending in California. The Plan also provides for equality of care for all residents, regardless of income, race, nationality or gender. The Plan will also treat injured workers, who currently have to go through a time consuming and expensive system to receive medical care.Advocates for the California Health Security Plan are asking doctors, RNs and other health care workers, patients, community organizations and unions to endorse the initiative, help to collect the one million signatures that will be needed and make financial contributions to the campaign.Please download our petition and begin circulating it today!
Jane Roberts (May 8, 1929 – September 5, 1984) was an American author, psychic and trance medium or spirit medium who “channelled” a personality named Seth. The publication of the Seth texts established her as one of the pre-eminent figures in the world of paranormal phenomena. In addition to metaphysical texts, she was an author of short stories, novels, children’s literature, and various philosophical texts.
In late 1963, Jane Roberts and her husband, Robert Butts, experimented with a Ouija board as part of Roberts’ research for a book on extra-sensory perception. According to Roberts and Butts, on December 2, 1963 they began to receive coherent messages from a male personality who eventually identified himself as Seth. Soon after, Roberts reported that she was hearing the messages in her head. She began to dictate the messages instead of utilizing the Ouija board, and the board was eventually abandoned. For 21 years until Roberts’ death in 1984 (with a one-year hiatus due to her final illness), Roberts held regular sessions in which she went into a trance and purportedly spoke on behalf of the discarnate entity Seth. Butts served as stenographer, taking the messages down in homemade shorthand, although some sessions were recorded. These messages from the Seth personality, consisting mostly of monologues on a wide variety of topics, are collectively known as the “Seth Material” (sometimes referred to herein simply as the “Material”). The Material through 1969 was published in summary form in The Seth Material, which was written by Roberts with substantial excerpts from the Seth personality.
Beginning with the 511th session in January, 1970, the Seth personality began to dictate his own books. Roberts claimed no authorship of these books beyond her role as medium; and according to Roberts and Butts, these “channelled” books were published verbatim with only minor editorial corrections. This series of “Seth books” eventually totalled ten volumes, although the last two books appear to be incomplete due to Roberts’ illness. The list of titles includes Seth Speaks; The Nature of Personal Reality; The Nature of the Psyche, Its Human Expression; The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events; The Unknown Reality; and Dreams, Evolution and Value Fulfillment. Robert Butts contributed notes and comments to all the Seth books, and thus was a co-author on all of them.
The Seth personality described himself as an “energy personality essence no longer focused in physical reality” who was independent of Roberts’ subconscious, although Roberts herself expressed skepticism as to Seth’s origins. The Seth personality said that he had completed his earthly reincarnations and that he was speaking from an adjacent plane of existence (or “system of reality” or “universe”, all terms which Seth used). He described himself as an educator whose task was to impart the principles set forth in the Material to the current generation of human beings.
The Seth personality’s demeanor was notably different from Roberts’, as reported by witnesses who included Butts, friends, acquaintances and students. He was at times stern, jovial or professorial, and he frequently assumed a distinct accent which was not identifiable. Unlike the psychic Edgar Cayce, whose syntax when speaking in trance was antiquated and convoluted, Roberts’ syntax and sentence structures were modern and clear when speaking as Seth.
Sessions were held at regular intervals, usually two per week. For a period of years Roberts conducted one, and then two, ESP classes in addition to the regular sessions. With the exception of the classes, Roberts gave few readings to the public and was mostly focused on publishing the Material in printed form.
Tenets of the Seth Material
The Seth Material covers a wide variety of topics, including the nature of physical reality, the origins of the universe, the theory of evolution, the Christ story, the nature of God, and the purpose of life. The Seth personality made the following assertions, among many others:
The physical universe is one of a multitude of universes or “systems of reality”, some physical in nature, some mental or spiritual, and some completely foreign to human concepts, each with its own natural laws, and each as valid as any other. As in the “many worlds hypothesis”, our physical universe has multiple “probable” renditions. Any event or action which is likely to occur in one probable universe will be actualized in that or another probable universe, or will be actualized in the dream universe or in some other system of reality. There are, as examples given by Seth, probable universes in which the dinosaurs are still alive, and probable universes in which Christianity did not develop. Each individual has many counterparts within the probable renditions of the universe, not all of whom have the same name, occupation or personal relationships. All systems of reality are, to some extent, camouflages since all beings have an existence which is independent of any system. The number of systems is infinite since new systems come into existence constantly. No system of reality is closed or finite; energy and information pass through all systems.
Each human individual has many layers, most notably an “outer ego”, which interacts with the physical world, and an “inner ego” or “inner self” which is concerned with the mechanics of constructing the physical world, and which existed prior to any incarnations. The entire self (which Seth referred to as an “entity”) is a gestalt consisting of the various selves that the entity has been through all past existences (physical and nonphysical), plus all the currently incarnated selves, and all their probable counterparts. According to Seth, human beings are generally unaware of the inner self, although it comes through as intuition and the “inner voice” that many people believe they hear. At death, the outer ego lives on and continues to develop; it takes its place as part of the gestalt that forms the entire entity, but it is free to evolve and to develop new associations.
Each human individual exists in four universes or “planes” simultaneously: the physical universe, which is the result of coordinated mass mental projections on the part of its inhabitants; a dream universe, which is created in the same way but has less rigid natural laws; an adjacent electrical universe, where the inner self resides and all mental activity occurs; and an anti-matter universe of which Seth said very little. The various portions of the self, and the various universes, are all aspects of a single whole, though Seth referred to them separately for the sake of explication. Ultimately, there are no boundaries to the self just as there are no boundaries to any system of reality. All portions of the self contribute to dreams, which continue when the outer ego is awake.
The physical environment is constructed and maintained by the inner selves of the individual occupants (including animals). The inner selves project, en masse, a pattern for physical reality which is then filled with energy, as needed, by each individual. The energy which is used is the inexhaustible energy which emanates from God. Because all things are composed of energy, and because energy must always be active, change and transformation are constants in the universe, and nothing remains the same from one moment to the next. Identity, however, seeks permanence, so there is a constant attempt on the part of individuals to create environments that feel permanent; the Earth is one such place. Time, which is essentially illusory, has the effect of slowing the perception of experience, and thus creates the illusion of permanence or gradual development. Even amidst constant change, however, identity is never lost.
All individuals create their own circumstances and experiences within the shared earthly environment, similar to the doctrine of responsibility assumption. The phrase “you create your own reality” was frequently used by Seth and may have originated with him. As stated above, the inner self is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the individual’s physical body and immediate physical environment, but the unfolding of events is determined by the expectations, attitudes and beliefs of the outer ego, that portion of the self that we know as ourselves. Both productive and unproductive attitudes are translated into reality, and thus one of the tasks of the individual is to learn how to direct his or her thoughts in positive directions. In a private session given to a friend of Jane Roberts, the Seth personality said:
“You must watch the pictures that you paint with your imagination, for you allow your imagination too full a reign. If you read our early material, you will see that your environment and the conditions of your life at any given time are the direct result of your own inner expectations. You form physical materializations of these realities within your own mind.
“If you imagine dire circumstances, ill health, or desperate loneliness, these will be automatically materialized, for these thoughts themselves bring about the conditions that will give them reality in physical terms. If you would have good health, then you must imagine this as vividly as in fear you imagine the opposite.
“You create your own difficulties. This is true for each individual. The inner psychological state is projected outward, gaining physical reality — and this regardless of the nature of the psychological state. … The rules apply to everyone. You can use them for your own benefit and change your own conditions once you realize what they are.
“You cannot escape your own attitudes, for they will form the nature of what you see. Quite literally you see what you want to see; and you see your own thoughts and emotional attitudes materialized in physical form. If changes are to occur, they must be mental and psychic changes. These will be reflected in your environment. Negative, distrustful, fearful, or degrading attitudes toward anyone work against the self.”
Reincarnation is the rule, although many misconceptions abound. For example, human beings never reincarnate as animals; cause-and-effect does not operate from one life to the next (although all lives are interrelated in various ways); and reincarnation does not end in a state of nirvana. Each individual must experience fatherhood, motherhood and childhood, and thus must incarnate at least twice; the maximum number varies, depending on the temperament and needs of the individual. There is a period of rest between incarnations, and sometimes individuals will occupy other planes of existence before returning to the Earth. When an individual’s reincarnational cycle is over, the individual moves on to other systems of reality.There is no heaven or hell, only continued existence in various environments of the individual’s choosing.
The majority of souls who are reincarnating enter the fetus shortly before, during or after birth. If the mother is considering an abortion, the soul will be aware of that and can choose not to incarnate. If the soul enters the fetus and the fetus is then aborted, the soul continues on to other lives. Some souls seek the in utero experience and do not wish to be born. According to Seth, there is no actual death in the universe; even the cells of the fetus reincarnate.
Time and space are “root assumptions” of this plane of existence; i.e., they are essentially illusory, and both the past and future coexist with the present in what Seth referred to as the “spacious present”. Therefore, a person’s incarnations in different time periods are actually lived simultaneously, as opposed to consecutively. Communication among the various past, present and future selves occurs during the dream state. Time appears to exist in a linear form because of limitations inherent in the physical human brain. Development, expansion, growth and change do not require time in order to occur.
There is a God, whom Seth referred to as “All That Is” and described as a “primary energy gestalt”.God is composed of self-replicating and inexhaustible mental energy, and contains all of Creation within it. God is therefore a gestalt of all existence, as in Pantheism and Panentheism (a gestalt is a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts). The mental energy of God is the formative substance of all things, including all beings, all universes, and all events and phenomena. God’s consciousness is carried on this mental energy, and therefore is omnipresent. Thus, God experiences each life that is lived; “all faces belong to God”, as Seth said. For these reasons, all things in existence, including physical matter, have life and consciousness. God wishes to experience existence in all its forms and ramifications, and through its creations is able to do this. God is therefore dynamic and ever-changing and shares in the failures, triumphs, perfections and imperfections of its creations. The individuals that exist within God, though part of God, have free will and self-determination. God does not know of any others like itself, but assumes that something — possibly another “primary energy gestalt” — came before it. If God sprang from another like itself, then the possibility exists that there are many Gods, each presumably aware only of its own existence.
God had a beginning, and there was a Creation, though it differs markedly from the Christian version. In God’s early stages, the universe existed in a state of potentiality within what Seth referred to as God’s dreams. The agony of knowing the potential of the universe, yet not being able to express it, compelled God to find the means to actualize its dreams. Additional impetus was provided by the individuals in its dreams, whom God had imbued with life and consciousness, and who clamored to be made real. In a passage of the Material addressed to Robert Butts, Seth said:
“The first state of agonized search for expression may have represented the birth throes of All That Is as we know It. Pretend, then, that you possessed within yourself the knowledge of all the world’s masterpieces in sculpture and art, that they pulsed as realities within you, but that you had no physical apparatus, no knowledge of how to achieve them, that there was neither rock nor pigment nor source of any of these, and you ached with the yearning to produce them. This, on an infinitesimally small scale, will perhaps give you, as an artist, some idea of the agony and impetus that was felt.
“Desire, wish and expectation rule all actions and are the basis for all realities. Within All That Is, therefore, the wish, desire, and expectation of creativity existed before all other actuality. The strength and vitality of these desires and expectations then became in your terms so insupportable that All That Is was driven to find the means to produce them.
“In other words, All That Is existed in a state of being, but without the means to find expression for Its being. This was the state of agony of which I spoke. Yet it is doubtful that without this ‘period’ of contracted yearning, All That Is could concentrate Its energy sufficiently enough to create the realities that existed in probable suspension within it.”
Christ, who still exists, is a highly evolved entity who has existence in many systems of reality. However, Christ has the same relationship to God that all other individuals do — i.e., he is part of God. At the time of Christ, the Christ entity incarnated as three individuals — John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul or Saul of Tarsus — and each was to some degree aware of his role in founding a new religion (although Paul/Saul was not aware of his role until after his conversion to Christianity). Seth said that Jesus was not crucified, and that it is not in the nature of enlightened individuals to sacrifice themselves. Rather, a willing and deluded surrogate, who believed himself to be the Messiah, was substituted in Jesus’ place, and it was this surrogate whom Judas betrayed (and who was then crucified). Jesus was then able to be “resurrected” because he had not actually died. Seth said that the crucifixion of Jesus did occur as a shared psychic event, but it did not occur as a physical event.
Paul/Saul will reincarnate in the 21st century to correct mistakes that he made that set Christianity on the wrong course, and a period of spiritual awareness will ensue. Paul/Saul will not identify himself as Christ, and some will view him as the anti-Christ since his appearance will hasten the decline of traditional Christianity, along with other organized religions. Paul/Saul will be known as a psychic; he will strive “to straighten out Christianity, which will be in shambles at the time of His arrival”, and he will form “a new system of thought when the world is sorely in need of one”.,The events surrounding the return of Paul/Saul will substantially be complete by the year 2075, but the ensuing changes to society will take a century to unfold.
Jane Roberts died in 1984 at the age of 55 after a long battle with what appeared to be an autoimmune disease. In 1996, sessions 1 through 510 (the “early sessions” which preceded the dictation of the Seth books) were published posthumously by Robert Butts in nine volumes, along with six volumes of previously unpublished personal messages which accompanied the later sessions. Roberts’ and Butts’ manuscripts, notes and recordings were donated to the Yale Library. Robert Butts has remarried and currently lives in Sayre, Pennsylvania.Here are some videos of Jane Roberts:
Short clip of Jane Roberts speaking, as Seth, one version of his famous sentence:
You Create (form) your own Reality
Taken from a very old video interview where Jane and Rob Butts are interviewed for half an hour, the other half shows jane speaking for Seth in one of her regular classes.
Stewart A. Alexander
Socialist Party USA 2008 Nominee for Vice President
and candidate for nomination by Peace and Freedom Party
Recently I posted a You Tube interview on my web-site and the response has been terrific. While running as a candidate for California Lieutenant Governor in 2006, Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP) invited Peace and Freedom Party and the candidates from other parties, to participate in their meeting to introduce their parties and their campaigns. Near the beginning of the meeting, Lanny Swerdlow, Coordinator of MAPP, invited me to conduct the interview.
Prior to posting the You Tube interview on my web-site, the interview had received just over 300 hits over 15 months. Now that it has been posted to my web-site, the interview has been views over 100 times within the past 2 months; now it is up to 416 and generating comments and responses from across the nation.
[Thanks to dada (& Stephen Lendman), for this one]...Corporations today manipulate society and our lives by harming the greater good for profits. Consider the cost: "individual depression, global environmental collapse, wars for control of natural resources" and global dominion. It happens because we're saturated in a "mass consumer culture" that ignores "our needs as human beings." To counteract this, we need "to find more humanly productive answers" mainstream culture calls "dissident" or "absurd," but the authors believe are possible and vital.
Approaches to "individual and social well-being (are) practiced in many traditional cultures (but have been) filtered out" of ours because they conflict with corporate goals already explained. The authors once worked for corporate employers and described their condition as "unrelieved boredom and stress....work....of no intrinsic interest (and) simply a means to the end of material acquisition." They concluded that life centered around money and status "becomes a depressing dead end, a kind of emotional wasteland."
They contrast that experience to their involvement today in "unpaid human rights and environmental work" that includes their Media Lens efforts. Compassionate dissent holds promise as a motivating force - "for media activism, peace activism, human and animal rights activism, and environmental activism." It's also "profoundly conducive to our own well-being." The authors end by stating political dissent must be combined with human dissent. The combination can be powerfully self-liberating and "all the motivation we need to act for the welfare of the world." Isn't that a goal worth working for? Isn't it what what we want for ourselves?
[Leave it to Amy and Juan to set the record straight]Breaking the Sound Barrier: Democracy Now! Re-Hosts NBC Las Vegas Debate to Include Kucinich After NBC Wins Appeal to Exclude HimOhio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was missing from the stage at last night’s Democratic debate hosted by MSNBC in Las Vegas after he lost a last-minute legal fight with the network over his participation. Last week, NBC told Kucinich that he had met the criteria for the debate. Then, less than two days later, the network changed the criteria and declared that Kucinich was no longer qualified. On Monday, a Nevada judge ordered NBC to include Kucinich, but then NBC appealed the ruling and actively fought to keep him off the stage. On Tuesday night, less than an hour before the debate, the Nevada Supreme Court sided with NBC. Democracy Now! decided to break the sound barrier and give Kucinich a chance to take part. In an exclusive broadcast, we re-braodcast excerpts of the debate and give the Ohio Congressman a chance to answer the questions he might have faced if he hadn’t been silenced.
Recent TPW coverage of the debates is here and here. If you are a good writer and keep up with internal Green Party politics, we could use a few more people on this site to cover Green Party activities.
Here is a short list of what you won’t hear much of from the
front-runners in this presidential primary season. Call them the
* You won’t hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime,
fraud, and abuse that have robbed trillions of dollars from workers,
investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms
that won’t be suggested are providing resources to prosecute executive
crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have
real power. Candidates will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains,
to rein in executive pay, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.
* You won’t hear a demand that workers receive a living wage instead of
a minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union
Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers
from forming or joining trade unions to improve wages and benefits above
Wal-Mart or McDonald’s levels.
* You won’t hear for a call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA.
Renegotiated trade agreements should stick to trade while labor,
environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties
without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.
* You won’t hear a call for our income tax system to be substantially
revamped so that workers can keep more of their wages while we tax the
things we like least, such as pollution, stock speculation, addictive
industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Nor will you hear that
corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax
contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have
been declining for 50 years.
* You won’t hear a call for a single payer health system. Almost sixty
years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health
insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an
emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands
of lives a year while maintaining patient choice of doctors and
hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.
* There is no reason to believe that the candidates will stand up to the
commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We
need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these
entrenched interests with major new initiatives in solar energy,
doubling motor vehicle fuel efficiency, and other quantified sustainable
and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be adequate recognition
that current fossil fuels are producing not just global warming, but
also cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements.
Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that
leads to more contaminated water, air, and toxic dumps in poorer
* The candidates will not demand a reduction in the military budget that
devours half the federal government’s operating expenditures at a time
when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world.
Studies by the General Accounting Office and internal Pentagon
assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals
that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.
* You won’t hear a consistent clarion call for electoral reform. Both
parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that
guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated
voters. Nor will there be serious proposals that millions of law-abiding
ex-felons be allowed to vote.
Other electoral reforms should include reducing barriers to candidates,
same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic
voting, run-off voting to insure winners receive a majority vote,
binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public
financing to guarantee clean elections.
* You won’t hear much about a failed war on drugs that costs nearly $50
billion annually. And the major candidates will not argue that addicts
should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for
any call to repeal the “three strikes and you’re out” laws that have
needlessly filled our jails or to end mandatory sentencing that
hamstrings our judges.
* The candidates will ignore the diverse Israeli peace movement whose
members have developed accords for a two state solution with their
Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the
Washington puppet show with a real Washington peace show for the
security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.
* You won’t hear the candidates stand up to business interests that have
backed changes to our civil justice system that restrict or close the
courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to
corporations. Where is the vocal campaign against fraud and injury upon
innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for
consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful
practices in the marketplace.
Voters should visit the webpages of the major party candidates. See what
they say, and see what they do not say. Then email or send a letter to
any or all the candidates and ask them why they are avoiding these
issues. Breaking the taboos won’t start with the candidates. Maybe it
can start with the voters.
An intriguing new study suggests the answer is not so clear-cut. Although it’s impossible to calculate the pain that terrorist attacks inflict on victims and society, when statisticians look at cold numbers, they have variously estimated the chances of the average person dying in America at the hands of international terrorists to be comparable to the risk of dying from eating peanuts, being struck by an asteroid or drowning in a toilet.
But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments.
Almost all the people in the study lived outside New York or Washington and didn’t know any victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. But more than a 10th of them reported acute stress symptoms (like insomnia or nightmares) right after the attacks, and over the next three years more than 40 percent said they kept worrying about a terrorist attack affecting themselves or a family member.
Their worries were understandable, given the continual warnings from Washington. Officials repeatedly raised the color-coded level of the National Threat Advisory and sometimes explicitly warned of imminent attacks from terrorist cells supposedly operating in America. The alert level has never dropped below yellow (the third of the five levels). About a third to a half of Americans have continued to tell pollsters that they’re personally worried about being victims of a terrorist attack, and that an attack is somewhat or very likely within several months.
“It’s amazing how enduring these feelings of fear are, but look at what’s been going on,” said Alison Holman, a professor of nursing science at the University of California, Irvine, the lead author of the study. “I’d be surprised if those terrorist alerts didn’t contribute in some way to the ongoing worry about terrorism in our sample.”
Another of the authors, Roxane Cohen Silver, also at U.C. Irvine, is a psychologist who is on an advisory council to the Homeland Security Department.
“I’ve regularly pointed out to the department that there are psychological consequences to the raising of the alert,” Dr. Silver said. “Now we’re demonstrating that it may have physical consequences.”
The researchers caution that they’re not sure how serious the physical consequences are, because they’re relying on people reporting that their doctors have diagnosed new cardiovascular ailments. Also, studies like this show correlations, rather than an identifiable cause and effect. But since the researchers have taken into account reports of people’s health problems and anxiety that were collected before Sept. 11, and the levels of lifetime and continuing stress, they’re confident they’ve identified a worrisome increase in heart disease.
After controlling for various factors (age, obesity, smoking, other ailments and stressful life events), the researchers found that the people who were acutely stressed after the 9/11 attacks and continued to worry about terrorism — about 6 percent of the sample — were at least three times more likely than the others in the study to be given diagnoses of new heart problems.
If you extrapolate that percentage to the adult population of America, it works out to more than 10 million people. No one knows what fraction of them might consequently die of a stroke or heart attack — plenty of other factors affect heart disease — but if it were merely 0.0003 percent, that would be higher than the 9/11 death toll.
Of course, statistics of any sort, even when the numbers are rock solid, don’t mean much to people when they’re assessing threats. Risk researchers have found that even when people know the numbers, they’re less worried about death tolls than about how the deaths occur. They have good reasons — called “rival rationalities” — for fearing catastrophes that kill large numbers at once because these events affect the whole community and damage the social fabric.
But continual fear of terrorism is a strain on the social fabric, too. People become reluctant to even get together when public spaces are turned into fortified zones. Civil liberties erode and mistrust increases when the authorities keep warning of lurking terrorists and urging people to report “suspicious” activity, as in the ubiquitous advertisements in the New York subways exhorting people to call in tips to a counterterrorism hot line.
The sponsors of the New York campaign were so pleased with the results that they papered the subways with congratulations to the riders: “Last year, 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.” But as William Neuman reported in The Times, the ads neglected to mention the number of terrorists arrested as a result of the tips: zero.
Meanwhile, how many subway riders were given diagnoses of new heart problems after riding to work every morning looking at ads reminding them that they might be blown to bits any second? Not zero, if you believe the new study.
Even before this study, some doctors were arguing that terrorism wasn’t nearly as dangerous as the related “epidemic of fear,” as Marc Siegel called it in a 2005 book, “False Alarm.” Dr. Siegel, of the New York University School of Medicine, pointed to studies linking fear of terrorism with increased risk of heart arrhythmias and elevated levels of an enzyme that correlates with heart disease.
“The fear response causes the heart to pump harder and faster, the nerves to fire more quickly,” Dr. Siegel said. “Excess triggering of this system of response causes the organs to wear down. For a person who is always on the alert, the result is a burned out body.”
It’s not fair to blame public officials alone for this fear epidemic. We in the news media have done our part to scare people. (More on how the “terrorism industry” distorts risks can be found at tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com.) But since there hasn’t been an attack in America for six years, for domestic drama we’ve had to rely on dire predictions of politicians and security officials.
What if the alerts stopped? What if the security officials looked at this new medical evidence — or at their own perfect record of false alarms — and decided that the nation did not need to be in a perpetual state of yellow alert? What if they even decided that Americans could survive without any color at all?
I guess that’s a hopeless fantasy. No politician wants to be blamed for failing to anticipate a terrorist attack. No bureaucrats willingly abandon a system that keeps them employed.
But maybe these officials could be induced to take one more precaution. The next time they raise the threat level to orange or red, they could add, “Warning: Heeding this alert may be hazardous to your health.”
From: http://freedemocracy.blogspot.com...Several dozen people -- including a pilot, county constable and business owners -- insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it. "People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. "It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts."........Update: 1/20/08Group takes statements about UFO sightings
DUBLIN, Texas — Interviewers with the Mutual UFO Network met with about 200 people who said they saw something mysterious in the night skies over Stephenville in late December and early January.
"We believe there is some sort of phenomenon in action here," said Kenneth Cherry, director of the network's Texas chapter. "We see a pattern. But it will take months to investigate."
The network is dedicated to "scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity," according to its Web site.
While members of the organization met Saturday with the witnesses, at least a couple hundred onlookers gathered as well, some wearing aluminum-foil hats.
Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.
Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, has said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when many sightings were reported.
James Huse, a retired electronics technician, said what he saw on Jan. 8 was neither a helicopter nor a plane.
Steve Allen of Glen Rose, who said he was a pilot, said the lights he saw while sitting around a campfire were brighter than the glare from welding.
"The first time we saw it, the duration was three minutes; then it started slowing down and passed us, and the lights in the back reformed into an arc shape, and they would flash on and off with no particular pattern," he said. "Then those changed into two vertical lines. It was totally silent."
Network investigators asked the witnesses to sketch what they saw and to answer questions about the direction, distance and flight of the object they saw.
Cherry said the organization will study the material and release its findings on whether what happened in Stephenville can be explained.
"We do not promote the existence of alien ships," Cherry said. "All we are trying to do is figure out if we can explain it or not, and then we'll let the chips fall where they may."
by Cindy Sheehan Once, when my children were young, one of them rushed into me and said: “Mama, so-and-so, said the ‘K’ word.” I don’t remember which one of my children was the tattler, or which one was the tattlee, but I remember the ‘k” word. I could never figure out what the “k” word was, because neither of the children would say that very naughty word.If all one did was listen or watch the corporate media, one would think that “Impeachment” was a naughty word. I did appear on some cable shows over the summer (before my activism transformed into a Congressional campaign) and was able to outline the rationale for impeachment, but since then, there has been a virtual black-out on the word, or concept.On January 1st, about 400 Impeachment Activists hit the Rose Parade with impeachment posters and huge banners. There was some local coverage, but the coverage seemed to surround the issue of “politics is ruining the parade” than the issue of accountability. When we marched at the end of the parade with our large copy of the Preamble of the Constitution and our signs and banners, we were the victims of a lot of violence and rage---name calling up to and including projectiles being thrown at us.A couple of months ago, I called for America to send handwritten letters to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, via my campaign office. Today was the day that we delivered them to her office. We took over 8,000 letters and over 3,000 signatures on petitions to her office. We had a coalition of Americans represented in the 11,000 total and we had there present: Greens, Progressive Democrats, Peace and Freedom party members, community leaders and activists, and Independents joining hands and hearts to demand what we all think is one of the overriding issues of our time: holding George Bush and Dick Cheney accountable for their crimes against the peace; crimes against humanity; and crimes against the very fabric of what makes America a nation of laws: our Constitution.Although we had some activists there with cameras and we will be able to put the event up on YouTube, there was not a single representative from the corporate media there to hear from Green Party Presidential hopeful, Cynthia McKinney who was the first Congress rep to introduce articles of impeachment against George Bush before her term expired in 2006.Not one person from the media came out to hear Minister Christopher Mohammed (from San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point community) outline the local connection between Speaker Pelosi and her refusal to do her Constitutional duty to impeach George and Dick: she is complicit in the crimes and foxes don’t police the hen house.That’s okay if the media didn’t show up: it says more about them, then us and we had dozens of patriotic Americans who did show up to help us deliver thousands of letters and we know those people (and more) were there with us in spirit.Like Cynthia said: we must never give up! When I am elected to Congress and start serving my term, George and Dick will have 17 days to go and I will introduce Articles of Impeachment every day and will not allow them to go riding off into the sunset to enjoy their retirement when they have ruined the lives of millions of people here and all over the world.The founders of our Representative Republic thought that the “I” word was so important, they included the word six times in the Constitution and the “G” (God) word or “PP” (political parties) word zero times.Either we have the rule of law or we don’t.There is still time to support Congressman Bob Wexler (D-Fl) in his efforts to get H Res 799 (Impeachment Articles against Dick) out of committee and off the table and onto the House Floor where they truly belong.Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.
While most of the major presidential candidates campaigned in South Carolina, Michigan and Nevada this past weekend, lesser-known presidential hopefuls took their messages Sunday to Fresno City College.
Candidates John Crockford and Stewart A. Alexander of the Peace and Freedom Party, Don Grundmann of the American Independent Party and George Phillies of the Libertarian Party joined stand-ins for other minor and major party candidates at the forum hosted by the college's Sociology Department.
Local representatives of Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich and Republicans John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul also participated in the debate.
Dozens of Fresno City College students and supporters of both third-party and mainstream candidates attended the more than two-hour forum.
California's presidential primary is Feb. 5.
"It was nice to see five different parties represented," said Gerry Bill, chairman of the Fresno City College Sociology Department.
Bill said he wanted to show students alternative views exist in addition to those expressed by mainstream candidates in television sound bites.
An array of opinions was heard on many topics that ranged across foreign policy, the economy, taxes, immigration and gay marriage.
Many of the participants in the forum and those in the audience were vocal in their opposition to the war in Iraq.
Many in the room were Paul supporters, who applauded Paul's local representative, Steve Wayte, and booed and hissed whenever the Republican candidate was criticized.
The third-party candidates spent much of the forum bashing the Democratic and Republican parties.
"We have something to say that is not being said by the two corporate parties," Alexander said.
Stuart Weil, a local representative for Giuliani, said he was impressed by the diversity of views on the panel.
"The fringe parties do have some great ideas," he said, but added that those ideas could never be implemented without the two major parties.
With some of the candidates and audience members wrangling over ideological differences, local Huckabee representative Peter McMullen said the debate reflected "a lot today of the polarization in America."
But Phillies, the Libertarian candidate, said voting for a third party is a vote for a cause.
Many abolitionists, who lobbied to free slaves in America, advanced their cause through a third party, he said.
"They didn't win any elections, but in the end they won," Phillies said.
States Team Up for Children's SafetyJuan Carlos Perez, IDG News ServiceAn agreement between MySpace and most U.S. state attorneys general aims to significantly increase the safety of minors on the popular social network.An agreement between MySpace and most U.S. state attorneys general will significantly increase the safety of minors on the popular social network and boost the ability of police to catch and prosecute sexual predators who use the Web, MySpace and several participating attorneys general said today.MySpace and attorneys general from 49 U.S. states and the District of Columbia announced a set of principles for social-networking safety that they hope will be broadly adopted by companies that operate these sites....*MySpace Agrees to Lead Fight to Stop Sex PredatorsBy ANNE BARNARDMySpace, the country’s largest social-networking Web site, has agreed with attorneys general of 49 states to take new steps to protect children from sexual predators on its site. It also agreed to lead a nationwide effort to develop technology to verify the ages and identities of Internet users, officials announced Monday.The agreement is the latest attempt by law enforcement officials nationwide to shield children from online dangers, including the risk of encountering inappropriate sexual content or receiving sexual advances through sites like MySpace and Facebook....
I recommend the new documentary about Ralph Nader, which was recently shown on PBS television, “An Unreasonable Man”. Its primary focus is on Nader’s argument for having run in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections despite the alleged harm done to the Democratic Party candidates. As I’ve written earlier: The choice facing people like myself was not Ralph Nader or Albert Gore or John Kerry. The choice facing us was Ralph Nader or not voting at all. If Nader had not been on the ballot, we would have stayed home. It’s that simple. The film shows a clip of a TV network newscast just after the 2000 election in which star news anchors Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw are discussing this very question, and much to my surprise they both come to this same conclusion — Nader did not cost the Democrats many votes at all. If he had not been on the ballot, the great bulk of his supporters would NOT have voted Democratic instead.
This escapes Nader’s critics, such as the two featured in the film, Nation magazine columnist Eric Alterman and author and 60s icon Todd Gitlin. NASA should check them out — just mention “Ralph Nader” and they go ballistic. They engage in an orgy of angry name calling, labeling Nader an egomaniac, irrational . . . “prefabricated purity” . . . “borders on the wicked” … responsible for the Iraq war and the destruction of the environment . . . They don’t directly challenge anything of substance amongst the views of Nader or his supporters. They’re not at all impressed with what I find most exhilarating — the unique phenomenon of a noted public political figure consistently standing on principle. Nader’s critics can’t admit that there’s principle involved in all this, for fear of revealing their own lack of that quality, as they cling to defending the indefensible — the idea that the Democratic Party is a force for even liberal change, never mind progressive.
The film also gives time to other Nader critics, amongst them Michael Moore, whom I admire more than the likes of Alterman or Gitlin. However, it shows Moore speaking during the 2000 campaign in behalf of Nader, telling the audience not to be afraid to vote their conscience; it then shows him in 2004, making fun of those who call for voting for one’s conscience — Yes, the hypocrisy is that blatant. Moore is indeed a strange political animal. The maker of “Fahrenheit 911″ and “Sicko” was until not long ago a super-avid supporter of Hillary Clinton (admitting to even a sexual crush on her), and he has supported General Wesley Clark for president, a genuine war criminal for his merciless 78-day bombing assault upon Yugoslavia.
Defenders of the Democrats now ask: “Would Al Gore have invaded Iraq?” Maybe not. He might have invaded Iran instead; that apparently was the first choice of Israel and their American lobby. Remember that the Clinton-Gore administration imposed eight years of heartless and needless sanctions upon the people of Iraq, simultaneously bombing them hundreds of times, costing the lives of more than a million people, ruining the lives of millions more. Al Gore has already invaded Iraq.
It’s an old and painful story. Democrats can not be trusted ideologically, not even to be consistently liberal, and certainly not progressive or radical, no matter how much we wish we could trust them, no matter how awful the Republicans may be. In 1968 Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota was the darling of the left. He ran in the Democratic presidential primaries on an anti-Vietnam war platform that excited a whole generation of young people. Peaceniks and hippies, the story goes, were getting haircuts, dressing like decent Americans, and forsaking dope, all to be “clean for Gene” and work in his campaign. Yet, in 1980, Gene McCarthy came out in support of Ronald Reagan against Jimmy Carter.1
It’s most often foreign policy which separates liberals from those further to the left. In the post World War Two period, one of the most revered American liberals was Senator Hubert Humphrey. But he was at the same time a fanatical anti-communist. In 1954 he introduced a bill to outlaw the Communist Party on the grounds that it was “an illegal conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States by force and violence and not a legitimate political party.” When he became Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president in 1965 he supported the Vietnam War. Two years later he was actually moved to declare to American troops in Vietnam: “I believe that Vietnam will be marked as the place where the family of man has gained the time it needed to finally break through to a new era of hope and human development and justice. This is the chance we have. This is our great adventure — and a wonderful one it is.”2
It was the administration of the liberal Jimmy Carter that instigated the Soviet intervention into Afghanistan in 1979, leading to Washington’s decisive role in the overthrow of a government which, compared to what replaced it, was extremely progressive.3 It was also Carter who gave Iraq the OK to invade Iran in 1980, with terrible consequences for the two countries.4
No, I don’t know what we should do about our leaders. The US electoral process which we’re all suffering through right now, which feels like it’s been going on non-stop forever, is replete with continual cries from the leading candidates about some kind of “change”. Whatever can they mean? They mean nothing. And the media treats it all like some kind of horse race, a spectator sport. Is there any election system in this world as lacking in intellectual discussion, as hopelessly corrupted by money, and as undemocratic as the one Americans are blessed with? Where else in the world is the candidate with the most votes not necessarily the winner? If we could interview each and every American voter to determine exactly why they voted for a particular candidate, compared to what the actual facts are about that candidate, and the results were widely publicized, it would be such a national embarrassment the next election might be called off. What does winning an election mean other than that the sales campaign was successful? An outright auction for the presidency would be more efficient, and more honest.
Another Tale of a Liberal
Gilbert Harrison, former editor and publisher of the influential Washington magazine, New Republic, departed this world on January 3. I never met the man, but in 1975, while living in London, I submitted a review of former CIA officer Philip Agee’s new book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, to the magazine. The book was a shocker, providing more detail about CIA covert operations in Latin America than any book ever written, revealing the names of hundreds of CIA officers, agents, and front organizations. The book had not yet appeared in the United States and the New Republic was pleased to have what would be one of the first reviews. At that time the magazine was still firmly in the liberal camp. At last my writing résumé would list something other than the alternative press.
A couple of weeks later, another letter arrived from the magazine’s literary editor. She was sorry to inform me that the Editor-in-Chief, Gilbert Harrison, had vetoed publication of my review at the last moment. The article was returned to me, already edited for publication, even with an issue date marked on it. Some years later, I came to appreciate that Harrison was a typical Cold-War, anti-communist liberal — no matter how progressive their views concerning the individual and society, the basic tenets, assumptions, and objectives of American foreign policy were held sacrosanct. In 1961 the New Republic obtained a comprehensive account of the preparations by the CIA for its upcoming invasion of Cuba. Harrison was a friend of President Kennedy and he dutifully submitted the magazine’s planned article to the White House for advice. We thus have a case here of the United States about to initiate what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called “a war of aggression . . . not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime.” And an American journalist did not know whether he should expose this. When Kennedy asked that the story not be printed, Harrison complied.5 If the story had been published, it might have led to the cancellation of the invasion, and thus the saving of a few thousand lives on the two sides.
Ironically and sadly, just four days after Harrison’s death, Philip Agee died. We had been friends since I met him in England in 1975, shortly after his book came out. Phil was truly a hero. He gave up his career, his financial security, a normal family life, and his safety to work against the CIA in one country after another that was threatened by the Agency — Cuba, Jamaica, Grenada, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela. The CIA revoked his US passport, spread all manner of false stories about him (such as his being in the pay of the KGB), and hounded him in Europe, getting him expelled from the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, and other countries. The Agency had him under surveillance for much of the rest of his life. The extreme strain this put on him may well have contributed to the perforated ulcer which led to his death.
The CIA was, as it still is, a force for dreadful things. What could a man of principle and idealism, with so much inside knowledge of the workings of the Agency, do but devote his life to fighting such a force?
Oh, By the Way, the Iraqis Don’t Really Want Us
Did you miss this? It should have been the lead story in every newspaper and radio and TV program in America. In the Washington Post it was on page 14. In virtually all of the rest of the media it was on page zero, channel zero, 0000 AM or 00.0 FM.
The US military in Iraq hired firms to conduct focus groups amongst a cross section of the population. A summary report of the findings was obtained by the Post. Here are some of the highlights of the report as disclosed by the newspaper:
Until the March 2003 US occupation Sunnis and Shiites coexisted peacefully.
Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the US military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them.
After the United States leaves Iraq, national reconciliation will happen “naturally.”
A sense of “optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups … and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis.”
Dividing Iraq into three states would hinder national reconciliation. (Only the Kurds did not reject this option.)
Most would describe the negative elements of life in Iraq as beginning with the US occupation.
Few mentioned Saddam Hussein as a cause of their problems, which the report described as an important finding, implying that “the current strife in Iraq seems to have totally eclipsed any agonies or grievances many Iraqis would have incurred from the past regime, which lasted for nearly four decades — as opposed to the current conflict, which has lasted for five years.”
The Washington Post added this note: “Outside of the military, some of the most widespread polling in Iraq has been done by D3 Systems, a Virginia-based company that maintains offices in each of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Its most recent publicly released surveys, conducted in September for several news media organizations, showed the same widespread Iraqi belief voiced by the military’s focus groups: that a U.S. departure will make things better. A State Department poll in September 2006 reported a similar finding.”6
This just in: The US has found the perfect way to counteract such foolish attitudes of the Iraqi people. On January 10, the Associated Press reported: “U.S. bombers and jet fighters unleashed 40,000 pounds of explosives on the southern outskirts of Baghdad within 10 minutes Thursday in one of the biggest air strikes of the war, flattening what the military called safe havens for al-Qaida in Iraq.” There was no mention of whether the planes had also dropped pamphlets saying: “We bomb you because we care about you.”
On December 20, the legislature of Panama declared the date to be a day of “national mourning” in memory of the American invasion on that day in 1989. “This is a recognition of those who fell on Dec. 20 as a result of the cruel and unjust invasion by the most powerful army in the world,” said Rep. Cesar Pardo, of the governing Democratic Revolutionary Party, which holds a majority in the legislature. U.S. officials downplayed the issue. “We prefer to look to the future,” said a U.S. Embassy spokesman. “We are very satisfied to have a friend and partner like Panama, a nation that has managed to develop a mature democracy.”7 As with their attack on Iraq on March 19, 2003, the United States, with no provocation or international legality (yes, another war of aggression), first bombed Panama, then staged a ground invasion, killing as many as a few thousand, while offering no believable reason for their psychopathic behavior.8
Will we some day see in a free and independent Iraq the setting of March 19 as a day of national mourning?
Some Further Thought Regarding the 9/11 Truth Movement
When I say, as I did in last month’s report, that I don’t think that 9-11 was an “inside job”, it’s not because I believe that men like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, et al. are not morally depraved enough to carry out such a monstrous act; these men each has a piece missing, a piece that’s shaped like a social conscience; they consciously and directly instigated the current Iraqi and Afghanistan horrors which have already cost many more American lives than were lost on 9/11, not to mention more than a million Iraqis and Afghans who dearly wanted to remain amongst the living. In the Gulf War of 1991, Cheney and other American leaders purposely destroyed electricity-generating plants, water-pumping systems, and sewage systems in Iraq, then imposed sanctions upon the country making the repair of the infrastructure extremely difficult. Then, after twelve years, when the Iraqi people had performed the heroic task of getting these systems working fairly well again, the US bombers came back to inflict devastating damage to them all once more. My books and many others document one major crime against humanity after another by our America once so dear and cherished.
So it’s not the moral question that makes me doubt the inside-job scenario. It’s the logistics of it all — the incredible complexity of arranging it all so that it would work and not be wholly and transparently unbelievable. That and the gross overkill — they didn’t need to destroy or smash up ALL those buildings and planes and people. One of the twin towers killing more than a thousand would certainly have been enough to sell the War on Terror, the Patriot Act, and Homeland Security. The American people are not such a hard sell. They really yearn to be true believers. Look how they scream hysterically over Hillary and Obama.
To win over people like me, the 9/11 truth people need to present a scenario that makes the logistics reasonably plausible. They might start by trying to answer questions like these: Did planes actually hit the towers and the Pentagon and crash in Pennsylvania? Were these the same four United Airline and American Airline planes that took off from Boston and Newark? At the time of collision, were they being piloted by people or by remote control? If people, who were these people?
Also, why did building 7 collapse? If it was purposely demolished — why? All the reasons I’ve read so far I find not very credible. As to the films of the towers and building 7 collapsing, which make it appear that this had to be the result of controlled demolitions — I agree, it does indeed look that way. But what do I know? I’m no expert. It’s not like I’ve seen, in person or on film, numerous examples of buildings collapsing due to controlled demolition and numerous other examples of buildings collapsing due to planes crashing into them, so I could make an intelligent distinction. We are told by the 9/11 truth people that no building constructed like the towers has ever collapsed due to fire. But how about fire plus a full-size, loaded airplane smashing into it? How many examples of that do we have?
But there’s one argument those who support the official version use against the skeptics that I would question. It’s the argument that if the government planned the operation there would have to have been many people in on the plot, and surely by now one of them would have talked and the mainstream media would have reported their stories. But in fact a number of firemen, the buildings’ janitor, and others have testified to hearing many explosions in the towers some time after the planes crashed, supporting the theory of planted explosives. But scarce little of this has made it to the media. Likewise, following the JFK assassination at least two men came forward afterward and identified themselves as being one of the three “tramps” on the grassy knoll in Dallas. So what happened? The mainstream media ignored them both. I know of them only because the tabloid press ran their stories. One of the men was the father of actor Woody Harrelson.
Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1975), p.307; Peter Wyden, “Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story” (1979), p.142-3. #
Washington Post, December 19, 2007, article plus accompanying sidebar; see also the Anti-Empire Report of August 18, 2006, last item, for another Post article demonstrating the belief of the Iraqi people, as well as American military personnel, that things would be better if the US left the country. #
Land Seizures and Militarization in the Border ZoneBy BRENDA NORRELLRIO GRANDE, TexasApache land owners on the Rio Grande told Homeland Security to halt the seizure of their lands for the US/Mexico border wall on January 7, 2008. It was the same day that a 30-day notice from Homeland Security expired with the threat of land seizures by eminent domain to build the US/Mexico border wall."There are two kinds of people in this world, those who build walls and those who build bridges," said Enrique Madrid, Jumano Apache community member, land owner in Redford and archaeological steward for the Texas Historical Commission."The wall in South Texas is militarization," Madrid said of the planned escalation of militarization with Border Patrol and soldiers. "They will be armed and shoot to kill."It was in Redford that a U.S. Marine shot and killed 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez, herding his sheep near his home in 1997."We had hoped he would be the last United States citizen and the last Native American to be killed by troops," Madrid said during a media conference call on January 7 with Apaches from Texas and Arizona.Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez, Lipan Apache professor living in the Lower Rio Grande, described how US officials attempted to pressure her into allowing them onto her private land to survey for the US/Mexico borderwall. When Tamez refused, she was told that she would be taken to court and her lands seized by eminent domain."I have told them that it is not for sale and they cannot come onto my land." Tamez is among the land owners where the Department of Homeland Security plans to erect 70 miles of intermittent, double-layered fencing in the Rio Grande Valley.Tamez said the United States government wants access to all of her land, which is on both sides of a levee. "Then they will decide where to build the wall. It could be over my house." Tamez said that she may only have three acres, but it is all she has.Tamez' daughter Margo Tamez, poet and scholar, said, "We are not a people of walls. It is against our culture to have walls. The Earth and the River go together. We must be with the river. We must be with this land. We were born for this land."Margo Tamez said the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples now guarantees the right of Indigenous Peoples to their traditional territories.Rosie Molano Blount, Chiricahua Apache from Del Río said the Chiricahua Apache have proudly served in the United States military."We are proud to be Americans," Blount said, adding that the Chiricahua have always supported the United States government.Now, with the increasing harassment of people in the borderzone, Blount said the people have had enough."Ya Basta! Enough is enough!" Blount said, repeating the phrase that became the battle cry of the Zapatistas in Mexico struggling for Indigenous Peoples' rights.Blount said there needs to be dialogue concerning the issues at the border, but not forced militarization or a border wall. She also directed a comment at Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Don't come here and divide our families Chertoff. You believe this is the only way to do things."Michael Paul Hill, San Carlos Apache from Arizona, described how US border agents violated and molested his sacred items, including a sacred stone, Eagle feather and drum used in ceremonies while crossing the border."They called me a foreigner." Hill described how Border Agents told him that he might "get away" with crossing the border in Nogales, Arizona, with ceremonial items that were not manhandled, but not in Texas.After participating in a an Apache ceremony in Mexico, when Hill andother Apaches reentered the United States, a SWAT team in full riot gear was waiting for them and interrogated them."It was incredibly frightening," said Margo Tamez who was also there. She pointed out how the escalating militarization at the border is terrorizing people as they go about their lives, working, with their families and in their ceremonies.Isabel Garcia, cochair of Derechos Humanos in Tucson, Arizona, said,"Arizona has been a laboratory for the criminalizing of the border."Pointing out that the Arizona border is the ancestral homeland of the Tohono O'odham, she said, "These borders are where people have lived since time immemorial." Garcia described the climate of militarization and abuse by Border Patrol agents.Garcia pointed out that "cowboy" Border Agents ran over and killed18-year-old Tohono O'odham Bennett Patricio, Jr., while he was walking home in 2002. His mother, Angie Ramon, is still seeking justice for the death of her son.Garcia also described the deaths from dehydration and heat in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, where failed border policies have pushed migrants walking to a better life into treacherous desert lands."Two hundred and thirty-seven bodies were recovered in one year and most were on the tribal lands of the Tohono O'odham."Further, Homeland Security recently waived 22 federal laws to build the border wall in the San Pedro wilderness area in Arizona, she said. Attorney Peter Schey, director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles, said America does not need a"Berlin Wall."Schey, renowned immigrant rights attorney, said Section 564 of the Homeland Security section of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill supersedes earlier legislation. Homeland Security is now required to have consultation with the communities. Schey said this means real consultation and real consideration of the community's input and data. Schey took his first action on behalf of Texas property owner Dr. Tamez on Monday, the same day that a 30-day notice to Texas land owners expired with the threat of eminent domain land seizures looming. Schey informed Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to halt the impending seizures of private lands.Schey said Section 564 strikes provisions of the earlier Secure Fence Act and requires Homeland Security to consult with property owners like Dr. Tamez in order "to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life" in areas considered for construction of the border fence."Furthermore, we believe that the new statutory provisions invalidate the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for fence construction published on the Department's behalf on November 16, 2007, pending completion of the required local consultations and other requirements as outlined in the Omnibus Bill," Schey told Chertoff in the letter.Meanwhile, Homeland Security declared that it will use the principle of eminent domain to take possession of land currently held by private ownership. DHS has also presented waivers requesting that the landowners grant DHS personnel access to their property for a twelve-month period in order to conduct surveys for the intended construction project. The property owners were informed that if they do not voluntarily allow the federal agents on their property, the U.S. government will file a law suit so that Homeland Security authorities can have unimpeded access to private land, despite the owners' opposition. Homeland Security has stated that it will seize property even without the consent of landowners if necessary to complete the construction of the border fence. Many landowners, as well as civic leaders and human rights activists, oppose the U.S. government's plans to allow federal law enforcement agents access to private property. The government's demands and aggressive tactics are in conflict with settled rights of private property ownership and are particularly disconcerting to the Indigenous peoples' communities impacted by this undertaking.The Texas communities along the international boundary zone are largely made up of Native Americans and of land grant heirs who have resided on inherited properties for hundreds of years. Homeland Security plans to complete the Texas portions of the fence before the end of the 2008 calendar year.Homeland Security has already built walls along much of the California and Arizona international boundary zone with Mexico despite opposition from the government of Mexico.Brenda Norrell is human rights editor for U.N. OBSERVER & International Report. She also runs the Censored website. She can be reached at: email@example.com
At least 121 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have committed a killing or been charged in one in the United States after returning from combat, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The newspaper said it also logged 349 homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans in the six years since military action began in Afghanistan, and later Iraq. That represents an 89-percent increase over the previous six-year period, the newspaper said.
About three-quarters of those homicides involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the newspaper said. The report did not illuminate the exact relationship between those cases and the 121 killings also mentioned in the report.
The newspaper said its research involved searching local news reports, examining police, court and military records and interviewing defendants, their lawyers and families, victims' families and military and law enforcement officials.
Defense Department representatives did not immediately respond to a telephone message early Sunday. The Times said the military agency declined to comment, saying it could not reproduce the paper's research.
A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Les Melnyk, questioned the report's premise and research methods, the newspaper said. He said it aggregated crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to murder, and he suggested the apparent increase in homicides involving military personnel and veterans in the wartime period might reflect only "an increase in awareness of military service by reporters since 9/11."
Neither the Pentagon nor the federal Justice Department track such killings, generally prosecuted in state civilian courts, according to the Times.
The 121 killings ranged from shootings and stabbings to bathtub drownings and fatal car crashes resulting from drunken driving, the newspaper said. All but one of those implicated was male.
About a third of the victims were girlfriends or relatives, including a 2-year-old girl slain by her 20-year-old father while he was recovering from wounds sustained in Iraq.
A quarter of the victims were military personnel. One was stabbed and set afire by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq.
"Many people assign great power to a hypnotist, yet whenever you have the undivided attention of another, you act as a hypnotist to a large degree. Whenever you have your own undivided attention you act as hypnotist and subject simultaneously."
The Nature of Personal RealitySession 658, Page 308
[Thanks to Marcelle Cendrars for this interview]
"SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency in California Thursday, and released a state budget proposal that would close an estimated $14 billion gap by cutting education funds, releasing inmates and closing dozens of state parks." -- Yahoo headline article opening paragraphQ: Why are you cutting funds for the elderly and the blind?A: Everyone has to absorb some of the cutbacks.Q: But not the corporations?A: You don't want the moneymakers to leave the state, do you?Q: Is it your aim to have the poor leave your state?A: Things are rarely that dramatic, but people have to go where they have to go.Q: Children will be going to schools with much less money allocated per student, yes?A: Like I said, everyone has to hurt a little bit with this attempt to balance the budget. On the college and university level, some may have to take a break.Q: Why won't your raise taxes on wealthy individuals, if not the corporations? Aren't you giving them a break?A: Californians across the board are paying enough in taxes.Q: Do you see the closing of 48 state parks as a problem?A: It's not ideal.Q: Do you see crime going up...like it did when Reagan prematurely released the mentally ill?A: I'm not familiar with the statistics related to those budgetary cuts in the 80s. But, no, I don't see any relationship there.Q: How about the fallout from a four billion dollar cut in Education, including suspension of provisions of a voter-approved initiative that would have guaranteed a minimum funding level for schools?A: Children and teachers can be quite resilient.Q: You also proposed eliminating active supervision of 18,522 parolees and making it far more difficult to return lawbreakers to prison. In all, the cuts and weakened parole policy are expected to reduce your state's prison population by 35,000 in the next two years. Do you expect an outcry against that?A: I never make decisions based on their popularity.Q: Is that how you would characterize the elimination of all dental coverage for three million poor people in California: An unpopular move?A: No, a necessary move.Q: How would you sum up what you've done?A: This is a budget that doesn't please everybody, I know that for sure. But the bottom line is I think this was the fairest way to go. Marcelle Cendrars can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org fordetails concerning this interview.
by Emily Spence / January 11th, 2008
In the natural world, a mother bear, during a particularly harsh winter in which it is hard to capture prey, will often eat one of her cubs. It will nearly always be the runt unless the larger one is sickly. If she is still hungry and unable to locate food from other species later that same winter, she will consume the remaining one. Thereby she will guarantee her survival as the alternative would be all three bears dying — the helpless cubs unable to live on their own and herself. However, she, by using her offspring for nourishment, will help ensure that she can carry on to produce further offspring in, hopefully, more auspicious circumstances. By such a manner, her species manages to endure.
All considered, life in the natural world, although often brutal, is neither moral, nor immoral. No animal sits around in a circle of his peers debating the relative rightness or wrongness of the act of eating one’s own progeny, nor the ones of other species. At the same time, humans, in certain groups, can also forego ethical underpinnings in their actions.
For example, the Nazis, in a calculated fashion, rounded up children and adults from supposedly undesirably ethnic groups for systematic slaughter. So did European invaders with indigenous people in the Americas. So did Pol Pot in Southeast Asia and so did ancient Romans. There is nothing new in this regard. This sort of behavior has been occurring for times immemorial amongst humankind. So has cannibalism when life gets tough…
As the author Peter Goodchild shared with me, “I sometimes think about a book called The Siege of Leningrad. The healthy people walking the streets were the butchers. But the meat they had to offer wasn’t beef, and it wasn’t pork, and it wasn’t lamb. You figure out the rest.”
Then, too, humans periodically face the types of decisions as did the pioneers at Donner Pass1 — a walk in the park in some ways compared to the Leningrad events in that there was no deliberate murder involved. As such, much of the difference between the two events hinges on intention and deliberate proactive choices rather than a passive stance to simply make do as had the survivors at Donner Pass. Meanwhile, the aggression inherent in deliberate slaughter of one’s own kind reminds about how well “laws of the jungle” still are extant amongst people unless we are well taught that life, itself, has value beyond self-serving sorts.
Meanwhile, not all people, who are at risk for starvation, resort to dire unconscionable actions. Oddly, we sometimes even see quite the opposite type of behavior wherein underfed people consciously try to share whatever little they have with others. Perhaps surprisingly, such demonstrations are not rare.
As Garda Ghista, the editor of World Prout Assembly, suggests, “One day I had gone with my auto rickshaw driver to the slums, to take photos of the very poorest people, the poorest of the poor who had nothing — no home, no anything. It was to raise funds for a service project, a children’s home, and I needed the photos for the flyer. So we would stop, for example, on a bridge where, on a ten by twenty foot piece of land along the bridge, some cloths were stretched across two poles, and people were living under them. There was no running water in sight. There was no anything. but, when I stepped out of the rickshaw and took out my camera, all these homeless, water-less, nearly foodless, nearly clothes-less people started moving towards me, with utter joy on their faces.
“I simply could not take the picture. I needed photos of miserable looking people in desperate poverty. They just didn’t look miserable. None of them did. It happened time and again, as when my rickshaw drove past the rock quarries where women with axes hammer at granite rock for ten to twelve hours a day, backbreaking labor — but again, when they saw me and the camera, they moved slowly toward me smiling.
“There is an NGO called Transparency International which rates corruption levels in countries. Bangladesh was coming out number one every year. (I haven’t checked recently.) At the same time, an institute in Great Britain assessed “happiness” levels of populations, and determined that the people of Bangladesh were the happiest in the world.
“We Westerners do not understand all the love that exists in people there — whole families sleeping in one room. It is not a hardship for them. It is the only way to be. It is about staying close and intimate. To them, the way we stick each baby in a separate room is something primitive and backward.
“Here so many Americans forgot how to talk — maybe due to watching so much TV. Even the TV programs and movies have such low levels of conversation. In contrast, go to India or Middle Eastern countries and speaking in poetry is something natural to the people. It is, also, loved and respected.
“When I worked in a college in the Middle East, the students (local Bedu) would sometimes come to my desk to make a phone call. Who would they phone? Again and again, it would be their mothers.
“We, here in the US, can hardly imagine the closeness of the families and the other more extended groups found in third world countries. When my Bedu friends took me to the desert, we used to sit on the ground, and the father would immediately go and milk the camel and bring me a huge bowl of fresh camel’s milk. Simultaneously, the mother (of my student) would cut up fruit and put it in my mouth.
“Does it happen here in the US? . . . and in India, when I visited a family there and at dinner said that I am full, then that mother took the spoon and began feeding me spoon by spoon, putting the spoon in my mouth, ignoring my protestations. Will it happen here? So who is more civilized and who is more happy? I never saw such love, hospitality and happiness as I saw in the Middle East and South Asia. For this very reason, what the American Empire has done to my friends there is painful beyond measure.”
My response to this is that, when people need each other to survive, they tend to act more kindly to everyone else, including outsiders. Indeed, they are especially generous towards those who serve their interests as does a teacher for their son.
Conversely, they tend to develop a state of anomy, callousness, apathy, contempt and disregard in relation to the welfare of others when it is not in one’s own interest to support them. This second state, one of almost complete alienation and independence rather than interdependence, has been shown time and again in various situations.
One of the most notorious episodes involved the murder of Kitty Genovese in NYC.2 In addition, the Kitty Genovese incident would seem to indicate that the more people that exist concentrated together, the less likely that individual worth has much merit. Congestion studies amongst many species bear this out as does, in general, crime rates in crowded VS uncrowded regions when variables such as socioeconomic class are factored into the mix.3
The implications relative to urban settings and overpopulation, in general, are clear. As Larry Winn states, “Imagine a group of humans, indeterminate in number, confined in a place of fixed dimensions, wanting for nothing. They have plenty to eat, plenty of water, plenty of places to live, and only the dimmest sort of apprehension of a larger world. They might even think of “the outside” as a kind of malicious fiction perpetrated by malcontents. It’s a circumstance not unlike the one “sustainable development” is supposed to create for us. Also, not unlike the universes of John Calhoun’s rats.”4
He goes on to conclude in the same article, “…the rats in Calhoun’s experiments developed social pathologies similar to the behavior of humans trapped in cities. Among the males, behavioral disturbances included sexual deviation and cannibalism. Even the most normal males in the group occasionally went berserk, attacking less dominant males, juveniles and females. Failures of reproductive function in the females — the rat equivalence of neglect, abuse and endangerment — were so severe that the colonies would have died out eventually, had they been permitted to continue.”
At the same time, one could only barely suppose that such happenings as Kitty Genovese’s type or as Larry Winn’s description would have a high rate of prevalent to transpire in small remote villages wherein personal relations are more all inclusive, intimate, relevant and indispensable for maintenance of optimal social welfare. With less people in a community, there tends to exist stronger intact ties across the board — even with strangers, who are merely passing through the environs.
In addition, I predict that, with material affluence on the increase in Bangladesh and elsewhere due to globalization of industries, many people there will become more like much of the US population — self-absorbed, largely indifferent to the welfare of the poor, insular, impressed by wealth and signs of wealth (as exhibited by Hollywood starlets and major sports figures), driven to get as much for themselves and their families at the exclusion of others as could be possible, etc. This is largely because cultural values are predicated on whatever serves to maximally support life in a particular set of circumstances.
In other words, people will more readily commune with each other and share if these sorts of behaviors foster their own well-being. If taking as much for oneself with disregard for others does it, then this model, instead, will be the one habitually learned and supported by the public at large. (Just as “necessity is the mother of invention,” it is also the mother of behavioral patterns developing one way VS. another.)
As such, people tend to work together to get water, feed each other, and provide for other material needs in these societies wherein it is necessary for many people to work together as a precondition to fulfill common aims (without which doing they would all die). Opposed to this are the conditions wherein success is primarily and almost exclusively tied to personal fiscal gain rather than mutual philanthropy.
With this alternative in place, there is little loyalty to companions, employees, nor employers. Instead, the overriding concern is simply advancement of one’s own profit and this aim, alone. Hoarding behaviors will, then, be on the rise, too. At the same time, the gap between the haves and have-nots will, also, enlarge. All the while, people will be seen not as having much merit in and of themselves as they will largely be viewed as expendable commodities — as means to an end to add to one’s own financial and other assets.
This being the case, the number of millionaires in the world swelled to 8.7 million. Meanwhile, is there any mystery about whatever most of them are trying to do rather than spread their wealth in service to humanity or improvement of the natural environment? No. Instead of promoting widespread benefits, they are, for the most part, striving to become billionaires (called “kleptocrats” in a related Wikipedia citation below as they are thievishly parasitic on the body politic).
Indeed, many are wildly successful in achieving this objective. ‘The number of billionaires around the world rose by 102 to a record 793 . . . and their combined wealth grew 18 percent to $2.6 trillion, according to “Forbes” magazine’s 2006 rankings of the world’s richest people.’5 In addition, their group has been expanding steadily. All the while they, also, command vast stores of resources (obtained through their purchasing power), manipulate their governments (through lobbies and other means) and control others (via military might and other kinds) to keep everything solidly behind their acts of racking in ever more dollars and possessions, including huge tracts of land and factories, for themselves.
The flip side to this situation is that US jobs are disappearing overseas to second and third world countries in which the populations are paid measly salaries of a dollar a day for their hard work. Moreover, these laborers will get fired if they dare to complain about their income, work conditions, or other aspects of their jobs. Furthermore, they are, for the most part, easily replaced as there often exists the condition of large unemployment in their locations. Therefore, they’d better, meekly and gratefully, do as they’re told by management.
Meanwhile, the goods that they produce are sold to eager consumers in first world countries, consumers whose own economies are crumbling due to a growing deficit of work at reasonable wages. For example, one in five Americans now lives on less than seven dollars a day according to fairly recent US census figures.6 All the same, it is primarily the near poor, who give the most to charities — not the middle and upper classes. It is because they are almost poverty struck and know the degree that being so can be horrendously grim to the point of being even life threatening.
All of the above in consideration, it might be easy to conclude that capitalism, itself, is antithetical to altruism and benevolent regard for life as its economic program is based on buying low (i.e., raw products, human labor, etc.) and selling high to get ahead FOR ONESELF. As such, there is no mutual regard or tender support for others as this way to go forward is, essentially, carried out by progressively taking greater advantage of others, including other species that are used to make products. At the same time, these predatory conditions are especially evident in countries, like the US, governed by plutocratic corpocracies.
One needn’t even look at cities, like New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina or Detroit in relation to GM plant closings, to see the damage done by such malevolent business and government structures. Any public school in a ghetto, a crowded homeless shelter, hoards of street people in every major urban environment (80,000 in LA alone of whom 1/2 are mentally ill), overwrought food banks strung out across the land, the rate of home foreclosures, the depreciation of the country’s currency and myriad other indicators can amply serve in and by themselves as proof.
So what are we to do in the face of such daunting circumstances? Is the best way to proceed in such a rapacious backdrop to simply claw one’s own way to the top of the economic ladder, scratch out the competition and forget about everyone else left behind? Should we just shrug our shoulders and passively go along with the damaging industrial and governmental plans that are in place because that is all that we know? Certainly not!
In terms of the way to proceed given the conditions that we have in our societies and our personal lives in connection to the social order, I often go back to a comment that E. O. Wilson made to me when I asked him, around fifteen years ago, about the most important action that we could undertake to stymie environmental collapse. His reply was simple. It was that we must educate as many others as possible to the truths regarding the happenings. This, in his opinion at the time, would ultimately provide the best assurance of improvements across the board. In addition, his viewpoint would seem to apply to other areas of concern besides environmental ones.
At the same time, I realize that I, individually and in group efforts, must always resist corrupt authority and any wrongful control (i.e., arising from my dependence on repugnant transnational corporations like Exxon, Monsanto, Bayer and so many others) as best as possible. Yes, many of us are cogs in the wheel (a reference to Mordechai Vanunu’s I’M YOUR SPY at vanunu.org) as we are well integrated into and play a role in destructive systems on which we are reliant for our livelihoods, life maintaining goods and services, etc. So, we keep the status quo (including their affiliated big corporations and political arrangements) as is on an ongoing basis.
However, we can, as Peter Goodchild writes in his essays and many others suggest, get out of it all as much as possible, wean ourselves from some damaging behaviors and develop better methods of self-sufficiency. In other words, we can minimize our involvement with whatever it is that we abhor. We can also always make a point to deliberately stand up for whatever is right when given a reasonable opportunity to do so. There are plenty of ways available through volunteer activities, letter writing campaigns and other forms of protest.
Nonetheless, I realize that I. F. Stone’s comment (located below) is probably dead-on correct for a wide array of goals that many people would want to support towards creating a constructive future. Yet, in the end, it all boils down to a matter of conscience. As such, one has to do whatever one does simply because it does seem right and because there is no better alternative even when the outcomes AREN’T likely to be the sorts that one would ideally wish to have transpire. Then again, getting overly concerned about results in endeavors can take one’s attention away from any hard struggle towards betterment, itself. So, one deliberately has to maintain focus on the beneficial action, whatever it comprises, regardless of any other factors.
So, yes, we’re “stuck” in some ways because we need oil, drugs, food (of which the majority is GM), clothing (often made by poorly paid laborers), etc. This being the case, though, does not excuse us one iota, I would think, from doing whatever we can, even if small and seemingly inconsequential, to improve the way that we go about our lives.
Even if imperfect at it, we owe it to ourselves and each other to strive to create a better world as best as we can given our underlying circumstances. Then, who knows? Maybe at a certain point, we can, as Stone implies, reach a point in the far ahead times where some benefit has accrued on account of our seminal action. Maybe we can be one of the snowflakes that provides the weight to reach that final tipping point. (The NAA Voice)
The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing - for the sheer fun and joy of it — to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.
– I. F. Stone
1. For details, please refer to: Donner Party — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. #
2. To learn more about this incident, please see: Kitty Genovese@Everything2.com, Bystander effect — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Kitty Genovese - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Thirty-Eight Saw Murder, and A Picture History of Kew Gardens, NY - Kitty Genovese. #
3. An overview of this topic is supplied at: The Real Picture of Land-Use Density and Crime: A GIS Applic…. #
4. A description of John Calhoun’s findings, along with their implications, is located at: Universe 25. #
5. Data on wealth can be found at: FOXNews.com — “Number of Billionaires Up to Record 793,” “Number of billionaires grows, Gates stays on top,”
Billionaire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Number of Billionaires, and Number of Millionaires in the World Swells to 8.7 Million. #
6. Related information can be found at: Thomas Paine’s Corner: “American Dream Now a Nightmare for Mi…” and Some Statistics on Poverty in America. #
Emily Spence can be reached at: EHSpence@aol.com Read other articles by Emily.
Filmmaker Stephen Kroschel sets out to find hard evidence of the effectiveness of the Gerson Therapy, a long-suppressed natural cancer treatment. His travels take him across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, from upstate New York to San Diego to Alaska, from Japan to Holland and Mexico. In the end, he presents the testimony of patients, scientists, surgeons and nutritionists, who testify to the effectiveness of the Gerson Therapy and shows the hard scientific evidence to back up their claims. The question that remains is, "Why is this powerful curative therapy still suppressed, more than 75 years after it was clearly proven to cure degenerative disease?"
"A spectacular combination of poetry, science and cinematographic art... very moving." - Pedro Aponte-Vazquez, Author, Chronicle of a Coverup
"If this documentary is not immediately suppressed, millions of chronically-ill people will get well." - Andrew Saul, Asst. Editor, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine
"It's just exquisite! Deft to the point of sublime. A major step forward."
- John Robbins, Author, Diet for a New America, Reclaiming Our Health
A couple of years ago, Michael T. Arnold landed at the Los Angeles International Airport after a 20-hour flight from the Philippines. He had his laptop with him, and a customs officer took a look at what was on his hard drive. Clicking on folders called “Kodak pictures” and “Kodak memories,” the officer found child pornography.
The search was not unusual: the government contends that it is perfectly free to inspect every laptop that enters the country, whether or not there is anything suspicious about the computer or its owner. Rummaging through a computer’s hard drive, the government says, is no different than looking through a suitcase.
One federal appeals court has agreed, and a second seems ready to follow suit.
There is one lonely voice on the other side. In 2006, Judge Dean D. Pregerson of Federal District Court in Los Angeles suppressed the evidence against Mr. Arnold.
“Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory,” Judge Pregerson wrote, in explaining why the government should not be allowed to inspect them without cause. “They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound.”
Computer hard drives can include, Judge Pregerson continued, diaries, letters, medical information, financial records, trade secrets, attorney-client materials and — the clincher, of course — information about reporters’ “confidential sources and story leads.”
But Judge Pregerson’s decision seems to be headed for reversal. The three judges who heard the arguments in October in the appeal of his decision seemed persuaded that a computer is just a container and deserves no special protection from searches at the border. The same information in hard-copy form, their questions suggested, would doubtless be subject to search.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., took that position in a 2005 decision. It upheld the conviction of John W. Ickes Jr., who crossed the Canadian border with a computer containing child pornography. A customs agent’s suspicions were raised, the court’s decision said, “after discovering a video camera containing a tape of a tennis match which focused excessively on a young ball boy.”
It is true that the government should have great leeway in searching physical objects at the border. But the law requires a little more — a “reasonable suspicion” — when the search is especially invasive, as when the human body is involved.
Searching a computer, said Jennifer M. Chacón, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, “is fairly intrusive.” Like searches of the body, she said, such “an invasive search should require reasonable suspicion.”
An interesting supporting brief filed in the Arnold case by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said there have to be some limits on the government’s ability to acquire information.
“Under the government’s reasoning,” the brief said, “border authorities could systematically collect all of the information contained on every laptop computer, BlackBerry and other electronic device carried across our national borders by every traveler, American or foreign.” That is, the brief said, “simply electronic surveillance after the fact.”
The government went even further in the case of Sebastien Boucher, a Canadian who lives in New Hampshire. Mr. Boucher crossed the Canadian border by car about a year ago, and a customs agent noticed a laptop in the back seat.
Asked whether he had child pornography on his laptop, Mr. Boucher said he was not sure. He said he downloaded a lot of pornography but deleted child pornography when he found it.
Some of the files on Mr. Boucher’s computer were encrypted using a program called Pretty Good Privacy, and Mr. Boucher helped the agent look at them, apparently by entering an encryption code. The agent said he saw lots of revolting pornography involving children.
The government seized the laptop. But when it tried to open the encrypted files again, it could not. A grand jury instructed Mr. Boucher to provide the password.
But a federal magistrate judge quashed that subpoena in November, saying that requiring Mr. Boucher to provide it would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Last week, the government appealed.
The magistrate judge, Jerome J. Niedermeier of Federal District Court in Burlington, Vt., used an analogy from Supreme Court precedent. It is one thing to require a defendant to surrender a key to a safe and another to make him reveal its combination.
The government can make you provide samples of your blood, handwriting and the sound of your voice. It can make you put on a shirt or stand in a lineup. But it cannot make you testify about facts or beliefs that may incriminate you, Judge Niedermeier said.
“The core value of the Fifth Amendment is that you can’t be made to speak in ways that indicate your guilt,” Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, wrote about the Boucher case on his Discourse.net blog.
But Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at the George Washington University, said Judge Niedermeier had probably gotten it wrong. “In a normal case,” Professor Kerr said in an interview, “there would be a privilege.” But given what Mr. Boucher had already done at the border, he said, making him provide the password again would probably not violate the Fifth Amendment.
There are all sorts of lessons in these cases. One is that the border seems be a privacy-free zone. A second is that encryption programs work. A third is that you should keep your password to yourself. And the most important, as my wife keeps telling me, is that you should leave your laptop at home.
discussion and presentations about Peace and Freedom Party's 2008 Presidential campaign.
Peace and Freedom Party's Presidential Candidates' Forum, 12Jan2008, 1-4pm followed by a social hour.
Peace and Freedom Party http://www.peaceandfreedom.orghttp://peaceandfreedom.org/content/view/2/73/http://peaceandfreedom.org/component/option,com_search/Itemid,81/
Brava Theater, 2781 24th St./Bryant-York sts., 9blks east of 24th St. BART. Wheelchair accessible. Call for travel assistance/rides. 510-527-9584 Wheelchair accessible.
Peace and Freedom Party's candidates in the February Presidential Primary have been invited to attend. They are:
Brian P. Moore
Gloria La Riva
Stewart A. Alexander
These have affirmed they will attend the forum:
Brian Moore, Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party USA, 2006 independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida.
Gloria La Riva
Stewart Alexander, Peace and Freedom Party candidate for California Lieutenant Governor in 2006, Executive Committee Member, Peace and Freedom Party.
Register Peace and Freedom Party by 22 Jan 2008 in order to vote in the primary.
Broadcast that people who have completed a prison sentence CAN - are eligible - to register to vote in California and 37 States.
All people who are resident here should be eligible to vote regardless of status. Reminding people of their inclusion tends toward permitting people a feeling of responsibility and a sense of belonging where there might not have been these otherwise.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was featured on Parade magazine's cover Sunday, 10 days after her assassination, and in the accompanying story she warned that her enemies wanted her dead.
"I am what terrorists most fear, a female political leader fighting to bring modernity to Pakistan," Bhutto told author Gail Sheehy, who interviewed her weeks earlier in her hometown of Larkana. "Now they're trying to kill me."
Parade's publisher, Randy Siegel, said the magazine went to press on Dec. 21 and was already on its way to the 400 newspapers that distribute it when Bhutto was killed in an attack following a Dec. 27 campaign rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
The Web version of the story was updated, Siegel said, but it was too late to change the print magazine. He said the only option other than running the outdated article would have been asking newspapers not to distribute the magazine at all.
"We decided that this was an important interview to share with the American people," he said.
Parade, published by Parade Publications, is distributed by Sunday newspapers including the Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.
Siegel said almost all of the newspapers ran editor's notes Sunday explaining that the Bhutto interview had gone to press before her death.
He said Sheehy, the best-selling author of books including "Passages" and "Hillary's Choice," spent several days with Bhutto in late November.
Bhutto's death plunged an already volatile Pakistan deeper into crisis and stoked fears of a political meltdown.
Bhutto's husband has accused members of Pakistan's government of involvement in her killing and has called for a United Nations investigation. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorists, has blamed a tribal militant leader suspected of ties to al-Qaida.
Bhutto served two terms as Pakistan's prime minister after her father, Zulkifar Bhutto, was overthrown as prime minister and hanged after a military takeover.
Sheehy asked the 54-year-old Bhutto whether she had healed from the trauma of her father's death when she was 25.
Bhutto, a pro-U.S. moderate who had vowed to fight Islamic extremists if she was elected in an upcoming parliamentary vote, said her father's parting words before his execution were, "You can walk away. You're young. You can go to live in London or Paris or Geneva."
She told Sheehy she responded, "No, I have to keep up this mission of yours, of democracy."
Stewart AlexanderSocialist Party USA Nominee for Vice President and candidate for nomination by Peace and Freedom Party January 6, 2008 In recent days, ABC in a debate of the candidates excluded Dennis Kucinich from participating in the national television debate of the Democrats while including Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. ABC-Disney is the same outfit that is seeking to destroy the lives and living conditions of the striking writers of the Writers Guild of America. These media monopolies are again showing their true colors. On the other hand, the Fox News Channel "Fair and Balance" is excluding Ron Paul from the final debate among Republicans before the New Hampshire primary although he received 10% of the vote in the Iowa primary which was much larger that Rudy Juliani. These corporate manipulated debate rules are yet another example about why the U.S. elections are being systematically rigged to benefit the corporate rulers. The Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA, both socialist parties, believes that all qualified candidates should get equal time on the television and radio networks and that this should be provided without any cost. The air waves are public resources and should not be used by the corporate rulers to continue their rigging of the U.S. election. I also believe that the systemic problems in the U.S. electoral system will only be resolved when we have a mass working class socialist alternative that will equalize not only the election crisis but expose the fact that both the Democrats and Republicans are responsible for this criminal war in the middle east, the financial rip-off of millions of working people and the destruction of our education, housing and social system in the United States. The people of the United States deserve a real choice not determined by union busters, profiteers and the corporate control media that is out of control. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Independent Voters Rejecting Democrats and Republicans. http://StewartAlexanderCares.comhttp://www.vote-socialist.org/http://peaceandfreedom-sjv.org/home/http://www.sp-usa.org/http://www.dcpoliticalreport.com/pres08.htmhttp://www.politics1.com/p2008.htm
Bye Bye, Obama-like Blah Blah: Toward An End to Presidential Talk
by Marcelle Cendrars"The greatest human invention ever...has been the practices, customs, and institutions of democracy. Everything pales by comparison. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence without a computer or the Internet; the Magna Carta was composed without automobiles or the telephone or a fax. Mary Wollstonecraft's Declaration of the Rights of Women was imagined without a Palm Pilot or a Web page. And their ideas have spread across centuries, sometimes like wildfire, other times like slow and patient tree roots." -- from the Epilogue of Steven Hill's Fixing Elections
"A lot of no-shows at the polling place feel in their bones that they'd be scammed if they showed up." -- Supporter of The Center for Voting and Democracy
Anyone know how we came to have our Electoral Scam on the first Tuesday of November on a regular basis? Tuesday instead of, say, on a weekend. Tuesday in lieu of having the ballots cast over several days. How is it that we don't have a "holiday" declared for that all-important day? To make things easier on all counts.
Turns out that our 1845 President Polk set up the Tuesday voting tradition for the convenience of farmers! As far as he was concerned our voting had to take place after the fall harvest -- since most people lived on farms at that point -- and time had to be allowed for those workers of the earth to get to town. That meant a full day's travel for many on the Monday before The Big Electoral Hulabaloo.
Time for a change, yes?
Well, not just in that realm, please. Let's also -- while we're confronting voting reform -- put in a good word for proportionate and semi-proportional representation. After all, the way things stand we rank somewhere between Botswana and Chad (138th!) in terms of voter turnout. And we're headed for... heading the list of "voter turnoff" at our present rate. (1)
Clearly something must be done. Unless you talk to politicians in power. Unless you're okay with a post-democracy milieu.
We have what you might call a Winner Take All system. Proportional systems are used by almost every other democracy in the world today, including Italy and Israel. I mention those two countries because they're often cited as examples of places which have difficulties because of their proportional systems.
The fact is that the world's clear trend is very much away from our Winner Take All system, and toward proportional alternatives. Those alternatives make it possible for there to be representation for losers, whether they represent 49% of a given election, or represent a lower percentage of ballots cast.
At present that our Winner Take All system is quite The Scam. Using nefarious methods such as "redistricting" at the end of every decade to ensure that incumbents aren't unseated for the following ten years in almost every case, our Winner Take All system guarantees that a given politician not only doesn't have to answer to his/her "opposition," but that he/she is not bound in any significant way to the wishes of any of a given constituency.
But you learned all this in school, right? When you were taught about the origins of our First November Tuesday Scam, yes?
No, of course not. The reason I use the word "scam" is that...obviously the powers that be do not want to have to represent their constituencies. They want a free hand.
And that's what they've got. And that's what they'll have...until you do something about the status quo.
California, the last time I counted, had 69 times the population of Wyoming. Yet Senatorial representation clocks in at 18 to 1, not 69 to 1. Why? Same deal.
Now that's a fact of life that we have heard something about, but no one's doing anything about it. Hint: The Powers that be in both California and Wyoming (and elsewhere) have decided not to rock the boat with the kind of fundamental change that would be required to set things right on that count. No, it's in their mutual interests to let things be. To encourage "Rock the Vote" activity, if they must, but keep the important factors quiet, unceremoniously/sanctimoniously ...continuing.
Just like they do when it comes to presidential elections and the Old Electoral College Scam. Look how much blah blah goes into debating whether this or that candidate is a better bet to be our next president. How much versus, say, discussion about some of the disingenuousness alluded to above. But no, "elected tyranny" doesn't like to have a lot of blah blah impact on its desired low-profile.
I mean, if the powers that be were really interested in boosting voter participation, one of the first things they'd do is to do away with the First Tuesday Inconvenience/Insanity, yes?
But well-meaning, knowledgeable citizens who have influence -- such as the rock stars and other celebrities who took part recently in a Vote or Die campaign -- insist upon focusing their energies on registration of more voters instead of helping to educate the public on the counts above. "Rock the Vote" efforts -- regardless of how successful in signing up additional voters -- cannot compensate for the internally rigged elements...such as suspect machines, redistricting, etc.
When you talk to citizens about all this, you invariably hear great numbers of them putting it all to bed with something like, "Oh, it's that way 'cause that's how it's always been. If it was good enough for our Founding Fathers it's good enough for me." Something along those lines.
But just like the Founding Fathers never anticipated our severe shift of population from farms to urban areas, they never dreamt that the number of representatives wouldn't increase proportionately with population. They were counting on something like 50,000 constituents per representative versus what we have: an average of 600,000 to ONE(!!!) for each of our 435 Congress members*. That's a lot of wiggle room.
*Hamilton and Madison, in Federalist No. 58, underscored that the purpose of the Census, to a great degree, was to augment the number of representatives as population increased. Every decade from 1792 onwards the House expanded...until 1910, when it froze to death. We should have something close to 600 House members. Each UK Member of Parliament represents only 70,000 souls. Think in terms of going to a shop where there's one clerk to handle 70,000 customers vs. 600,000, and you should get the point. (2)
The need for finance reform and other such foci pale in comparison to the dilemma of Winner Take All politics, yet most citizens -- even highly educated ones who study and talk politics -- aren't up to speed on issues which The Center for Voting and Democracy (See http://www.fairvote.org/) tackle as a fundamental part of their agenda. Much of which should be on our minds, and included in our discussions. With the idea of doing something about The Scam That Rules The Ruled, Us.
I recommend Steven Hill's Fixing Elections for one and all. It'll open your eyes, I daresay, to much information about our post-democracy setting, including how ( as with a Soviet-type Politburo ) in our 2000 House elections there was virtually no competition, nearly 99 percent of incumbents winning reelection.
We are involved -- have been involved -- in meaningless voter charades. Yet, I am convinced, there is deep reason to be hopeful. Which is why I wrote this article.
Both major parties are increasingly involved in committing unprecedented resources to end-of-the-decade legislative and gubernatorial contests. It's greatly because the gerrymandering and such which follows each decennial census has more impact on who will win state, congressional and presidential elections than voters in a given year!
And the "accomplishments" on that count determine electoral results, for all practical purposes, for the following decade.
The trench warfare which is fought state by state, district by district, in a very few select races -- what Steven Hill calls "the 'Gettysburg' of our political landscape" -- can be circumvented, and addressed adequately in time to force change in 2010. But it requires movement now, following a new paradigm for dealing with our skewed system.
We cannot remain stuck to the flypaper of old ideas. Which blah blah reinforces.
And it demands taking our focus off of the present presidential shenanigans to a significant degree, so that we can devote our energies in solidarity where they will count. Vote for whoever you want to be Chief Executive, but spend half of your heartbeats --better, a quarter of your presently expended energies-- on Obama-like blah blah.
Focus on our internal scars...where the meanings are, to paraphrase Emily Dickinson. Not the lastest fad in foolishness. Not on fake father-figures and their incessant self-serving talk.
I ask all "orphaned voters" to contact me at their earliest possible convenience to discuss details concerning the above.
(1) "Voter Turnout for 1945 to 1997: A Global Report on Political Participation," published and distributed by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 1997, www.idea.int. Cited in Steven Hill's Prologue to Fixing Elections (Routledge: New York, 2002), p. viii.
(2) Interesting to note that few people know that the original Bill of Rights included 12 amendments, one of which specified that we have a ratio of "not less than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons."
A Poetic Articleby Marcelle Cendrars"Negative" reasons are organically blended with the notion that things have to get worse before they can get better.With over 30% of the U.S. still in support of Bush's/Pelosi's Wars, and untold numbers slated to tolerate their momentum ad infinitum, I submit that the "hope" engendered by Ron Paul's campaign -- once the candidate is in a position to do something about his platform -- can serve as a basis for making a whole lot get a whole lot worse vis-a-vis Dashed Hopes.Ron Paul is doomed to disappoint, if elected. In a major way. Then...because of that...we may have Our Day with the Sun on the Rise.Because -- in office -- Ron Paul would fail to satisfy his supporters sufficiently (to put it mildly), people in general would be less interested in participating in The Next Electoral Scam exclusively, and be more inclined to find additional/new means to protest/push for change, be encouraged to get creative.If victorious, Ron Paul:1. Will not succeed in stemming the tide of illegal immigration. No one can unless radical change occurs in the U.S.; it will become all too apparent that his Wall won't work. That his protectionist attitude toward the plight of Mexicans is counter-productive. His tolerance of racist acts against "foreign intruders"along The Border and beyond will contribute to an increase of violence among The Desperate...on both sides. Domino effect in the wings here for one and all.2. Will not succeed in pulling troops out of Iraq. He would get assassinated long before the powers-that-be would allow such a thing. This might pave the way for a hard core group of activists to take matters into their own hands. Not like what happened following MLKing's assassination, but criminal acts on an ongoing basis.3. Will demonstrate -- through ALL indicators -- that his approach to environmental issues is an abject failure. Primacy focused on the sacred nature of private property will undermine all of his efforts, undo his last shred of credibility. Unravel the last vestiges of faith among The Electoral Faithful.4. Will create "another Democratic loss," which would encourage many Democrats -- if he were successful as a Republican -- to re-evaluate their Tweedledee/Tweedledum Syndrome. That might very well lead to a very positive turn of events. More likely, it would lead to Mass Mental Depression among the so-called opposition, more firmly ensconcing Republican shenanigans ( contrary to Paul's campaign pledges* ), and speeding up our downward spiral.*In some cases, like with regard to Social Security and Health Coverage stances, his pledges are quite clearly The Republican Nightmare Warmed Over.5. Will prove helpless to stop our frightening economic momentum. The Economy will not improve for the vast majority. When someone keeps stealing your wallet/pocketbook...eventually you find "a new way" to avoid the ongoing theft. You don't keep taking the same route to work. It's one thing for The Usual Suspects to rip off the public, but it's an entirely new can of worms for gangsterism to continue in high places under the auspices a Great White Hope.All hell would break out with a Ron Paul victory. Go, Ron, go!!!Marcelle Cendrars can be reached at email@example.com.
some dogs who sleep At night must dream of bones and I remember your bones in flesh and best in that dark green dress and those high-heeled bright black shoes, you always cursed when you drank, your hair coming down you wanted to explode out of what was holding you: rotten memories of a rotten past, and you finally got out by dying, leaving me with the rotten present; you've been dead 28 years yet I remember you better than any of the rest; you were the only one who understood the futility of the arrangement of life; all the others were only displeased with trivial segments, carped nonsensically about nonsense; Jane, you were killed by knowing too much. here's a drink to your bones that this dog still dreams about.
A surfer rides a wave churned by a winter storm underneath the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday, Jan. 4, 2008, in San Francisco Bay. A fierce arctic storm pounded California on Friday, threatening to soak mudslide-prone canyons already charred by wildfires and to paralyze the mountains with deep snow.
By Amy Goodman, Allan Nairn, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
Jan 4, 2008, 12:32
Editor's Note: All the so-called "Top Tier" candidates for the 2008 US presidential election are directly connected to the Council on Foreign Relations whose members were behind the war on Iraq and other atrocities. Change? Short of a revolution in the U.S., nothing will change. In the 2008 elections we are looking at the same beast with two heads - one "Republican", the other "Democrat".
Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners
Independent journalist Allan Nairn and American Conservative correspondent Kelley Beaucar Vlahos discuss a little-addressed facet of the 2008 campaign: many of the top advisers to leading presidential candidates are ex-U.S. officials involved in atrocities around the world. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Presidential candidates are scrambling to win last-minute support in Iowa ahead of tonight’s caucus. Thousands of reporters have also descended on Iowa this week, covering everything from Mike Huckabee’s haircut to John Edwards’s rally with singer John Mellencamp.
But little attention has been paid to perhaps one of the most important aspects of the candidates: their advisers, the men and women who likely form the backbone of the candidate’s future cabinet if elected president. Many of the names will be familiar.
Advisers to Hillary Rodham Clinton include many former top officials in President Clinton’s administration: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Senator Barack Obama’s list includes President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross.
Rudolph Giuliani’s advisers include Norman Podhoretz, one of the fathers of the neoconservative movement. John McCain’s list of official and formal policy advisers includes former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, General Colin Powell, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and former CIA Director James Woolsey. One of Mitt Romney’s top advisers is Cofer Black, the former CIA official who now serves as vice chair of Blackwater Worldwide. Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth is advising Fred Thompson.
As for Mike Huckabee, it’s not clear. In December, Huckabee listed former UN Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has “spoken or will continue to speak,” but Bolton then revealed the two had never spoken. Huckabee also named Richard Allen, but the former National Security Adviser also admitted he had never spoken to Huckabee.
To talk more about the advisers behind the presidential campaigns, I’m joined by two guests. Kelley Vlahos is a freelance journalist in Washington. Her article on presidential advisers called “War Whisperers” appeared in The American Conservative in October. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn joins us here in the firehouse studio. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
I want to begin by going to Washington, D.C., to our guest there, to the author of “War Whisperers.” Talk about why you focused, Kelley, on the advisers of the presidential candidates.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, it was becoming clear to me and to others here in Washington in certain circles that the advisers that were emerging for the campaigns, whether it be Democratic or Republican, were part of some seriously pro-establishment cliques. And I say “cliques,” because there is really no other way to describe it. But these cliques generally can be categorized as not only pro-establishment, but more pro-interventionist, whether it be the so-called liberal interventionists on the Democratic side or your war hawks on the Republican side.
But what became clear is that the candidates weren’t reaching outside of these establishment cliques and that they were getting no fresh ideas, no vision outside of these pretty standard parameters. And we thought—me and the editors thought it might be a good idea to explore a little bit under the surface about where these of advisers were coming from, in hopes of maybe deciphering where foreign policy might be going in the future.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s begin with Hillary Clinton, Kelley Vlahos.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: OK. Well, Hillary Clinton’s—her foreign policy team can be best described as—and I hate to use this word so casually, but—“throwbacks” of her husband’s administration. We have, you know, Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, you have Sandy Berger as your sort of top-tier advisers, your key advisers, the most recognized faces. And then, beyond that, as I say in the article, you have this newer generation—I want to say newer generation, but a generation of former Clinton types who you might not recognize their names, but they’ve been around for a long time and are seriously scrambling for position in what they see as a new Clinton administration. So you’re seeing a lot of old faces, old names, who haven’t really changed their ideas from, you know, what I and others can see, in terms of doing the research, haven’t changed their real vision of the world and foreign policy since the 1990s.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me bring Allan Nairn into this conversation. You have just written about the advisers, as well, on your blog, newsc.blogspot.com. Elaborate further on Hillary Clinton’s advisers.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I think one thing you could say about the advisers for all the candidates who have a chance is that the presence of these advisers makes it clear that these candidates aren’t serious about enforcing the murder laws and that they’re willing to kill civilians, foreign civilians, en masse in order to advance US policy. And they’re not serious about law and order. They’re soft on crime.
And start with Clinton. Madeleine Albright, she was the main force behind the Iraq sanctions that killed more than 400,000 Iraqi civilians. General Wesley Clark, he was the one who ran the bombing of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, came out and publicly said that he was going after civilian targets, like electrical plants, like the TV station there. Richard Holbrooke, in the Carter administration he was the one who oversaw the shipment of weapons to the Indonesian military as they were invading—illegally invading East Timor and killing a third of the population there, and he was the one who kept the UN Security Council from enforcing its resolution against that invasion. Strobe Talbott, he was the one who, during the Clinton administration, oversaw Russia policy, a backing of Yeltsin, which resulted in turning over the national wealth to the oligarchs and a drop in life expectancy in much of Russia of about fifteen years—massive, massive death. And you have various backers of the Iraq invasion and occupation and the recent escalation, people like General Jack Keane, Michael O’Hanlon and others. That’s just Clinton.
AMY GOODMAN: Barack Obama?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Obama’s top adviser is Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski gave an interview to the French press a number of years ago where he boasted about the fact that it was he who created the whole Afghan jihadi movement, the movement that produced Osama bin Laden. And he was asked by the interviewer, “Well, don’t you think this might have had some bad consequences?” And Brzezinski replied, “Absolutely not. It was definitely worth it, because we were going after the Soviets. We were getting the Soviets.” Another top Obama person—
AMY GOODMAN: I think his comment actually was, “What’s a few riled-up Muslims?” And this, that whole idea of blowback, the idea of arming, financing, training the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, including Osama bin Laden, and then when they’re done with the Soviets, they set their sights, well, on the United States.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. And later, during Bill Clinton’s administration, during the Bosnia killing, the US actually flew some of the Afghan Mujahideen, the early al-Qaeda people—the US actually arranged for them to be flown from there to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim/NATO side.
Another key Obama adviser, Anthony Lake, he was the main force behind the US invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years during which they brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti.
Another Obama adviser, General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was—I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after that—there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of US fighter planes.
Another key Obama adviser, Dennis Ross. Ross, for many years under both Clinton and Bush 2, a key—he has advised Clinton and both Bushes. He oversaw US policy toward Israel/Palestine. He pushed the principle that the legal rights of the Palestinians, the rights recognized under international law, must be subordinated to the needs of the Israeli government—in other words, their desires, their desires to expand to do whatever they want in the Occupied Territories. And Ross was one of the people who, interestingly, led the political assault on former Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Carter, no peacenik—I mean, Carter is the one who bears ultimate responsibility for that Timor terror that Holbrooke was involved in. But Ross led an assault on him, because, regarding Palestine, Carter was so bold as to agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa that what Israel was doing in the Occupied Territories was tantamount to apartheid. And so, Ross was one of those who fiercely attacked him.
Another Obama adviser, Sarah Sewall, who heads a human rights center at Harvard and is a former Defense official, she wrote the introduction to General Petraeus’s Marine Corps/Army counterinsurgency handbook, the handbook that is now being used worldwide by US troops in various killing operations. That’s the Obama team.
AMY GOODMAN: John Edwards?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Edwards is a little different. The list of his foreign advisers is not as complete, so it’s not as clear exactly where they may be coming from, but it’s interesting. Last night on TV, one of the top Edwards advisers, “Mudcat” Saunders, was complaining about the fact that there are 35,000 lobbyists in Washington. And it appears, from the Edwards list, that many of the military lobbyists are working on the Edwards foreign policy team, because the names that—the Edwards names that are out there mainly come from the Army and the Air Force and the Navy Material Command. Those are the portions of the Pentagon that do the Defense contracts, that do the deals with the big companies like Raytheon and Boeing, etc. One of those listed on the Edwards team is the lobbyist for the big military contractor EADS. So, although Edwards talks about going after lobbyists, if he tries to go after the military lobbyists, he may get a little blowback from his own advisers.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying that there’s no difference between these candidates?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, fundamentally, there’s no difference on the basic principle of, are you against the killing of civilians and are you willing to enforce the murder laws. If we were willing to enforce the murder laws, the headquarters of each of these candidates could be raided, and various advisers and many candidates could be hauled away by the cops, because they have backed various actions that, under established principles like the Nuremberg Principles, like the principles set up in the Rwanda tribunals, the Bosnia tribunals, things that are unacceptable, like aggressive war, like the killing of civilians for political purposes. So, in a basic sense, there is no choice.
But there is a difference in this sense: the US is so vastly powerful, the US influences and has the potential to end so many millions of lives around the world, that if, let’s say, you have two candidates that are 99% the same—there’s only 1% difference between them—if you’re talking about decisions that affect a million lives—1% of a million is 10,000—that’s 10,000 lives. So, even though it’s a bitter choice, if you choose the one who is going to kill 10,000 fewer people, well, then you’ve saved 10,000 lives. We shouldn’t be limited to that choice. It’s unacceptable. And Americans should start to realize that it’s unacceptable.
But that’s the choice we have at the moment. In Iowa, I think there are steps people could take to start to challenge that system, if they wanted to.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll talk about that in a minute, and we’ll continue to talk about the advisers. Our guests are Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos. We’ll be back with them both in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue this discussion about the advisers to the presidential candidates, the men and women behind the men and women who are running today. Our guests are Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a freelance journalist in Washington, wrote a piece in The American Conservative called “War Whisperers: The 2008 Hopefuls Promised a Change in Foreign Policy Then Hired the Old Guard.” We are also joined by independent investigative journalist Allan Nairn. He writes a blog called newsc.blogspot.com. His piece today on this issue is called “The US Election is Already Over. Murder and Preventable Death Have Won.”
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, would you like to add to any of the advisers Allan just talked about? And then we’ll move on to the Republicans.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, I think Allan has covered most of it and pretty thoroughly. I agree with him that there is very little difference among these people, and I think what he said really speaks to the idea and the challenge that there is no incentive for these candidates to reach out beyond any of this orbit or galaxy of foreign policy advisers who have been linked in, you know, we’re talking decades of war and events and actions and operations. And there seems, whether it be John Edwards reaching out to the Defense contracting community or Hillary Clinton reaching out to her husband’s former security advisers and operatives or whether it’s Obama reaching out to former Clinton types, there doesn’t seem to be any incentive to reach out beyond that. It seems like there is a stranglehold in this town on the kind of advisers that one is supposed to be linked with.
And I think a lot of that is linked to money, where, you know, the candidates have big names, big lobbyists; that in turn brings them in more funders, more bundlers. And it’s sort of like this hand-in-glove symbiotic relationship, where the bigger names you have, the more familiar names, the more entrenched you have in these cliques I spoke to previously, the more money you’re bringing into your campaign. So there’s no incentive to go beyond that, unless you’re ready for some amount of rebuke and some of the spigot being turned off.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, actually, in terms of money, Allan Nairn, someone like Obama raises an enormous amount of money from just the grassroots.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, Obama—that’s a very telling example. Like Dean in the last campaign, Obama has the ability to get all the money he needs from the middle class through the internet, through $50, $80, $100 contributions. He actually doesn’t need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway. And he does, I think, because if he doesn’t, they wouldn’t trust him. They might think that he’s on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him. He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healthcare, for example, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t need money from the health insurance industry, that’s wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesn’t want to be attacked by those corporations.
AMY GOODMAN: And is Edwards and Clinton any different on those issues?
ALLAN NAIRN: Not as far as I can tell. None of them have come out for single payer. The only one who came out for single payer was Kucinich. Campaign contributions is just one of many tools that rich people have to get their way. There are basically two parallel factors in any democracy. One is one person, one vote. The other is one dollar, one vote. And those two are mixed together. So, although the people do have some say, there are usually a lot more dollars out there than people, and they find ways of prevailing in the end, unless the people become aggressive and disruptive and demanding and threaten to shake the system so that big concessions are made.
AMY GOODMAN: Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, let’s go to the Republicans: Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, John McCain. Give us a few of their advisers.
KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS: Well, Giuliani, as you had mentioned, and you had a pretty thorough list of people, but Giuliani is probably strikingly—strikingly is reaching out to the most strident neoconservatives on the scene today. He has familiar neoconservatives on his team, like you said: Norman Podhoretz, also Daniel Pipes, who—and I don’t remember if you had mentioned, but—has been leading the charge against “Islamofascism” on college campuses, has put out his Campus Watch, in terms of going after professors that he deems are not pro-Israel enough. He has other less familiar names, like Martin Kramer, Stephen Rosen, Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution. He has basically a small galaxy of neoconservatives from familiar think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Hoover, the Hudson.
And basically, I mean, just to start, you know, with Giuliani, because I think he has the most poignant list of people in terms of where you would think that his foreign policy strategy is moving, he has basically—and I said this in my article—has taken the Bush Doctrine, has just pumped it up with steroids. He is fully on board—he always has been—with the Bush Doctrine. His people behind him are. We’re talking about no-holds-barred forward with the war on terror, the war against “Islamofascism.” He believes that the war on terror is a grand war versus good and evil. He is not shy to say that, his people aren’t shy to say that. He’s fully in grip of these people and the Bush Doctrine.
And, you know, if you want to see where the Rudy Giuliani—President Rudy Giuliani will take us, you just look at the Bush Doctrine as if the Iraq war never happened or, better yet, the problems that have arisen from the Iraq war have never happened, because Rudy Giuliani doesn’t seem to acknowledge any of that. Any issues before the surge are incidental. You know, everything is moving forward, and his policy team is right there backing him.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, more on Rudolph Giuliani, and then to Mitt Romney.
ALLAN NAIRN: Giuliani, as was mentioned, his big adviser is Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz’s new book is World War IV, which he seems to like. Podhoretz says, bomb the Iranians. And he’s not just talking about pinpoint Iranian nuclear installations; he’s saying bomb the Iranians. And he says he prays that this will happen. Ex-Senator Robert Kasten, an old major backer of the Pakistani military dictatorships and the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, he’s another key Giuliani adviser.
McCain has General Alexander Haig, who oversaw the US policy of mass terror killings of civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, when American nuns and religious workers were abducted, raped and murdered by the Salvadoran National Guard. General Haig said those nuns died in an exchange of gunfire, the pistol-packing nuns. He has a younger—McCain has a younger adviser, Max Boot, who now points to El Salvador, where 70,000 civilians were killed by American-backed death squads, as a model counterinsurgency, a model for what the US should be doing today. Henry Kissinger advises McCain, as he advises many others. And Kissinger, of course, was responsible for mass death in Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, countless other places. Bud McFarlane from the Reagan administration, who was a key backer of the Contras. Brent Scowcroft, who these days is popular with some liberals because he opposes—he opposed the Iraq invasion, who is a leader of the realist school—the realist school basically says, yes, kill civilians, but make sure you win the war, as opposed to the Bush-Cheney school, which has been killing civilians but losing the war, as the US has been doing until recently in Iraq and is now starting to do in Afghanistan—Scowcroft was the one who, during the Bush 1 administration, went to China right after the Tiananmen Square massacre and reassured the Chinese leadership, “Don’t worry about it, we’re still behind you.”
Romney, as you mentioned, Romney has Cofer Black, a longtime CIA operative who was one of the key people behind the invasion of Afghanistan. During the course of that, according to Bob Woodward, he went in and said, “We’re going to go into Afghanistan. We’re going to cut their heads off.” He’s the one who organized Detachment 88 in Indonesia just recently, the supposed antiterrorist outfit that recently went after a Papuan human rights lawyer. Two key figures in backing the old US policy in Central America, Mark Falcoff and Roger Noriega, are also on the Romney team. And Dan Senor, who viewers probably remember as the voice of the early invasion and occupation of Iraq, he’s one of the Romney guys. Now, as you mentioned—
AMY GOODMAN: Dan Senor is one of the spokespeople in Iraq, is married to, I think it is, Campbell Brown, who’s just been hired by CNN to replace Paula Zahn.
ALLAN NAIRN: Huckabee, who you mentioned, it’s not clear who his advisers are. Huckabee recently was attacked by Romney for being soft on crime. So Huckabee responded, “Soft on crime? I executed sixteen people in Arkansas. How many people did you execute in Massachusetts?” Well, Massachusetts didn’t have the death penalty. But if Huckabee were really tough on crime, he would have used his post as governor of Arkansas to extradite Bill Clinton to Arkansas to stand trial before the courts there, as is permissible under international law, for the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths brought on by the Iraqi sanctions during the Clinton administration. But that’s unthinkable in American politics. It probably didn’t even occur to Huckabee. But if we had a civilized political order and we defined crime and murder objectively, something like that would have been on the table, and Huckabee would have been challenged on it.
Bloomberg, who may step in as the independent, using his money, he’s an interesting example of another aspect.
AMY GOODMAN: The current mayor of New York.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. One is, we ought to be enforcing the murder laws evenhandedly, so that anyone who facilitates the killing of civilians faces trial and jail, just like any street criminal, even if they’re a CIA operative, even if they’re an American general, even if they’re American president.
Two, we ought to be preventing preventable death if we can. Kids who are defecating to death, kids who are dying from malnutrition for the lack of a couple of dollars, we should be stopping that every single time it can be stopped in the world. Last year in the world, there were anywhere from three to five million deaths of children under the age of five, children who were suffering from malnutrition. If he had so chosen—and he chose not to—Bloomberg could have personally prevented those deaths, because according to Forbes magazine, he’s worth $11.5 billion, and that’s more than enough money, if distributed properly, to prevent that many deaths, millions of one year’s deaths of entirely preventable, entirely inexcusable malnutrition deaths. But it probably never even occurred to him, and he was certainly never challenged on it politically.
But we can start to challenge people on this politically. For example, in the Iowa caucuses, we’re now in a situation where, you know, we have very bitter choices. So what are you going to do? I mean, Kucinich, who has good positions on many of these issues, he’s decided to throw in his lot with Obama. Ralph Nader, who has good positions, he’s implying support for Edwards. OK, these are tactical choices. But one thing that people can do in the Iowa caucuses tonight, they can go in there and say, OK, I’m caucusing for whomever, but I am making my support conditional on you renouncing support for the murder of civilians, on you firing all of your advisers who have been involved in the killing of civilians in the past, you turning them over to the International Criminal Court if you can get the International Criminal Court to accept it, you signing a pledge that says no more killing of civilians, you signing a pledge that says we will prevent preventable death.
You know, the right wing has been doing this for years on the issue of taxes. They make—they go around, they make all the Republican candidates sign a no-tax pledge. That’s been somewhat effective. A very similar thing could be done, and I think it could have appeal, left and right, to anyone who is decent to have candidates pledge no more support for killing civilians, tough on crime, enforce the murder laws, prevent preventable deaths. Let’s not have kids dying of diarrhea. If we have spare dollars floating around that people only want, give them to people whose bodies need them.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, it’s interesting, there is an Occupation Project, and a group of people were just arrested in Huckabee’s offices, among them the longtime peace activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee several times over, Kathy Kelly, who founded Voices in the Wilderness.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. That’s a good tactic. I think we have to try many tactics from many directions. And one possible one is, you know, getting inside things like the Iowa caucus, getting inside things like the conventions of both parties and threaten to create a disturbance on the floor, ruckus on the floor, if the candidate for whom you are there as a delegate doesn’t back these simple things that should be the basis of any civilization: no murder, save someone if you can save them.
AMY GOODMAN: Final question, this is on a totally different issue, Allan Nairn, our top headline, the Justice Department launching a formal criminal investigation to the destruction of the videotapes documenting the interrogation of two prisoners. You have long been writing about investigating the CIA and US policy, whether it’s in Central America or Asia. What are your thoughts on the destruction of these videotapes?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, one—and who knows?—I’m skeptical that they’ve actually been destroyed. I mean, anyone, you know, who works with computers knows that it’s almost impossible to truly eliminate something from a hard disk and also that when there’s a document, there are always multiple copies made, especially when you’re in a network system. So I’d be surprised if this thing was really destroyed.
But, anyway, it’s unfortunate that the issue of torture—I mean, it’s good that the issue of torture has finally been put on the table of American politics and people talk about it to some extent, but it’s unfortunate that it’s been put on the table in the context of the torture of these al-Qaeda people, these people who were openly proud killers, mass murderers of civilians. In that context, a lot of people look at it and say, “Well, yeah, look at these lowlifes. Maybe they should be tortured.”
But the fact of the matter is, 90% , at least, worldwide of cases of torture are not of people like this who are open mass murderers. They are usually of dissidents, of rebels, or of common criminals. And often, it is done by regimes that are armed, trained or financed by the United States. This was the case in El Salvador. In El Salvador, I interviewed Salvadoran military people who told of torture training classes they got from CIA officials, and they talked about how the CIA people would be in the room as the torture sessions were going on. And these were not al-Qaeda types that they were torturing; these were labor organizers, these were people who were speaking for justice, these were peasants.
That’s what most torture is in the world, and it should be completely banned and abolished, not in the soft rhetorical way that McCain is talking about it, but actually stopping it by stopping support for all the forces that make a practice of torture. And that would involve completely rewriting the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, the Defense Appropriations Bill, and it would also involve calling in the authorities and carrying out many US officials in chains, because they’ve been backing this illegal stuff for years.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there. In talking about, by the way, the occupation of offices, it was not only Huckabee’s office, it was also Barack Obama’s Iowa office, as well as Mitt Romney’s Iowa office, people occupied yesterday. Allan Nairn, I want to thank you for being with us. Your blog at “newsc” for “News and Comment,” newsc.blogspot.com. And Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, thank you for joining us from Washington, D.C. Her article appeared in The American Conservative. The piece was called “War Whisperers.”
Say you want a revolutionWe better get on right awayWell you get on your feetAnd out on the streetSinging Power to the PeopleJohn LennonAlways vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.--John Quincy Adams
The founding fathers never intended for the US of A to be a true representative democracy. The Constitution (which we find ourselves in an odd position of having to defend, now) was written off the backs of black slaves and with the tears of such women as John Q’s wife Abigail, a budding feminist, who pleaded with JQ to “remember the ladies” when writing the new code of law. The eventual “new code of law” excluded women entirely and counted slaves as “three-fifths” of a person in a compromise to guarantee ratification by the Southern States. The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) states that Treaties are the “Supreme law of the land” and the Federal Government broke every treaty ever signed with our indigenous populations. So are we surprised that BushCo has gotten away with breaking UN treaties and the Geneva Conventions?
Even white men without property could not vote under the original Constitution, so this nation has always been “by and for” the white male oligarchy. Populist movements have subsequently gained universal suffrage but only at great personal sacrifice to so many.
Even though we women, property-less white males, and people of color now have the “right” to vote and even hold high elected office, there is just an illusion of universailty in our nation today. If anyone thinks that politicians truly cast their votes out of integrity and some kind of shared values and not with their own best interests at heart, there is some self-delusion happening there. We the People essentially have no power and no real say in how we are governed, how our tax money is spent, how our armed services are used, or even, essentially who we get to vote for. The primaries are just an exercise to see which candidate raises the most money and the corporate media follows that person and makes him/her the presumptive nominee before any American citizen even gets a chance to vote.
How do we change this paradigm in America?
In true populist fashion an election revolution must begin in this country. We must not “waste” our votes on candidates because of the “lesser of two evils” illogic. Voting for the LOTE is like saying to oneself: Should I vote for Satan or Beelzebub? Voting for a third party or Independent candidate that reflects your values not only allows you to hold your head high, but sends a message to the corrupt duopoly of Democrats and Republicans that We the People are deadly serious when we say that we want a nation that cares about its own citizens and has a system of checks and balances that truly reins in any facet of our government that grabs for power not guaranteed in the separation of powers of our Constitution.
We must have a people’s referendum that changes our election laws. Again, we cannot wait for the fox to clean up the henhouse. Election seasons must be shortened; maximum amounts that candidates can raise and spend must be set within moral and reasonable limits; instant run off voting must be instituted; voting must be changed to weekends; and other electoral reforms must be implemented so candidates who truly care about elevating the human condition and our country can be viable against the oligarchy that has, for all intents and purposes, always won elections throughout our history. Each seat in Congress is treated as if it is a birthright and the presidency is auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Our corporate media is being used as propaganda outlets for the established elite and have become false prophets and the “soma” (from Huxley’s Brave New World) of our time. We get our dosage of some despicably biased news show, then we check-out on our “soma vacations” of American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, or Desperate Housewives. Twenty-four hour news cycles and inane “reality” programming have succeeded in keeping us dumb, numb and just plumb lazy. We need to get back to the days where news was news and “equal time” is guaranteed for all viewpoints, not just the singular viewpoints of war and supporting a dangerous imperial presidency.
If in the highly likely event that your Congress rep is failing at his/her job, run for office (requirements) against him/her, or support the candidacy of someone who is running that conforms to your beatitudes, not the beatitudes of the greedy and bloodthirsty oligarchy
Finally, financially support populist candidates, like me, who will fight to put the power back into the hands of the people where it belongs. When the power is spread horizontally, the burden lightens and we will mirror true American values of generosity, integrity and honesty, reflected for the entire world to see.
You know you have those values, now use your power to force your employees in Congress to have them, too.
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, along with Ross Mirkarimi and Matt Gonzalez, will be moderating the debate.Recent statement made by Cynthia McKinney: “We have a President who has misgoverned and a Congress that has refused to hold him accountable. It is a grave situation, and I believe the stakes for our country are high. President George W. Bush has failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; he has failed to ensure that senior members of his administration do the same; and he has betrayed the trust of the American people.”Recent statement made by Ralph Nader: “Barack Obama has excluded himself from the progressive coalition by the statements he’s made, unfortunately. He’s a lot smarter than his public statements, which are extremely conciliatory to concentrated power and big business…The people of Iowa and New Hampshire have to ask themselves: who is going to fight for you…Edwards raises the question of the concentration of wealth and power in a few hands that are working against the majority of people.”Now people can hear these two, as well as Green Party presidential hopefuls Jared Ball and Kent Mesplay, at a debate to be held in San Francisco on Sunday, January 13.According to News Blaze: The first, and only, live debate between candidates on the Green Party’s California ballot for President of the United States featuring a former Democratic Party member of Congress, consumer protection icon, professor and environmental engineer is scheduled here January 13, said John Morton of the Green Party Presidential Debate Committee. The debate will be held Sunday, January 13 at 2 p.m. at the Herbst Theater/Veterans Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue.The debate will be sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County, the San Francisco Green Party and the Sacramento County Green Party.Additional information is available here.UPDATE: According to Richard Winger, Nader will not actually be participating in the debate, but will be present at the event. The Alameda County Green Party lists Nader as one of four speakers at the time of this posting. Any clarification would be welcome.
When a man is in lovehow can he use old words?Should a womandesiring her loverlie down withgrammarians and linguists?I said nothingto the woman I lovedbut gatheredlove's adjectives into a suitcaseand fled from all languages.
...In fact, a recent study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer seems to challenge our basic assumptions about the relationship between the physical body and the mind — and perhaps even our assumptions about the nature of objective reality itself. It certainly challenges our assumptions about the limits of the placebo effect.
Langer is a researcher who has published several important and provocative studies. In this study, she decided to look at whether our perception of how much exercise we are getting has any effect on how our bodies actually look. To do this, she studied hotel maids.
Hotel maids don't always realize their jobs qualify as exercise. When one group of overweight maids was told they exceeded the surgeon general's guidelines for fitness, they started losing weight. AFP/Getty Images
Morning Edition, January 3, 2008 · The holidays are finally over and your waistline is as overstretched as your credit card. It's time to take action! What should you do?
A) Hit the gym.
B) Make a solemn pledge to never ingest another sweet for as long as you live.
C) Hit the gym and make a solemn pledge to never ingest another sweet for as long as you live, or …
D) Sit around on the couch eating chocolate bonbons while genuinely believing that you are getting a lot of rigorous exercise.
The answer to this multiple-choice quiz might not be as straightforward as you think. In fact, a recent study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer seems to challenge our basic assumptions about the relationship between the physical body and the mind — and perhaps even our assumptions about the nature of objective reality itself. It certainly challenges our assumptions about the limits of the placebo effect.
Langer is a researcher who has published several important and provocative studies. In this study, she decided to look at whether our perception of how much exercise we are getting has any effect on how our bodies actually look. To do this, she studied hotel maids.
As any casual observer of the hospitality industry knows, hotel maids spend the majority of their days lugging heavy equipment around endless hallways. Basically, almost every moment of their working lives is spent engaged in some kind of physical activity.
But Langer found that most of these women don't see themselves as physically active. She did a survey and found that 67 percent reported they didn't exercise. More than one-third of those reported they didn't get any exercise at all.
"Given that they are exercising all day long," Langer says, "that seemed to be bizarre."
What was even more bizarre, she says, was that, despite the fact all of the women in her study far exceeded the U.S. surgeon general's recommendation for daily exercise, the bodies of the women did not seem to benefit from their activity.
Langer and her team measured the maids' body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, weight and body mass index. They found that all of these indicators matched the maids' perceived amount of exercise, rather than their actual amount of exercise.
So Langer set about changing perceptions.
She divided 84 maids into two groups. With one group, researchers carefully went through each of the tasks they did each day, explaining how many calories those tasks burned. They were informed that the activity already met the surgeon general's definition of an active lifestyle.
The other group was given no information at all.
One month later, Langer and her team returned to take physical measurements of the women and were surprised by what they found. In the group that had been educated, there was a decrease in their systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio — and a 10 percent drop in blood pressure.
One possible explanation is that the process of learning about the amount of exercise they were already getting somehow changed the maids' behavior. But Langer says that her team surveyed both the women and their managers and found no indication that the maids had altered their routines in any way. She believes that the change can be explained only by the change in the women's mindset.
Essentially, what Langer is talking about is a placebo effect. She says that if you believe you are exercising, your body may respond as if it is. It's the same as if you believe you are getting medication when you are actually getting a sugar pill — your body can sometimes respond as if a placebo is actually working.
The implication is that the "objective reality" of the physical body is not as immovable as we might have assumed. Hence, the theoretical possibility that, if done with genuine conviction, one might be able to sit around eating chocolate and still lose weight.
Placebo Effect Limited?
But Martin Binks, director of behavioral health at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in North Carolina, is skeptical of Langer's conclusion, even though he is impressed with the physical changes in the maids.
"There's a very high likelihood that [the maids] behaved differently after they received that information," he says, "and they were being more active and eating more healthfully. And that resulted in their improvements in health."
But Binks has a more substantive criticism. He does not believe that placebos are capable of producing the kind of objective change in the physical body that Langer is claiming.
"Generally what placebos work on is subjective types of findings," he says.
In other words, a placebo can help change something like your perception of pain or perhaps your sense of whether you feel depressed, but it can't do something objective like shrink a tumor or cut three pounds off your waistline.
Or can it?
Howard Brody has spent years looking at this issue. He says that a number of relatively new studies challenge the old assumption that the placebo effect alters only subjective perception. He is the director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the author of the book, The Placebo Response.
For example, Brody notes one study where researchers gave asthmatic patients a drug that actually makes asthma worse. When they gave the drug to the patients, they told them that it relieves asthma.
"A significant number of those patients said that my asthma got better when you gave me the drug," Brody says, "and they measured better when you measured the lung findings.
"So the idea that the placebo effect applies only to subjective things is really one that we have to dismiss."
So maybe it really might be possible to sit on the couch eating chocolates and lose weight. I, for one, am certainly willing to sacrifice and give it the old college try.
Stewart A. Alexander Socialist Party USA Nominee for Vice President and candidate for nomination by Peace and Freedom Party January 3, 2008 At the end of 2006, millions of U.S. voters went to the polls giving the control of Congress to the Democrats. It was a marginal victory for the Democrats and a margin of hope for millions of Americans that the Democrats would chart a different direction for Washington politics. Since the 2006 Mid-Term Elections, most Americans have become disillusioned with the Democrats and have lost confidence in America’s two corporate parties. Since the Democrats became the majority in Congress, working people and the poor have suffered continued setbacks. A majority of Americans no longer view the Democratic Party as a political body to represent working people or the poor; and having the controlling votes in Congress, the Democrats have continued to follow the leadership of the Republicans and President Bush. Millions of Independent voters are now looking at third parties and third party candidates in the hopes of gaining representation in Congress and the White House; these voters are searching for leaders that will represent the will of American voters nationally and internationally. The socialist parties are emerging as a political force in American politics, addressing those issues that are important to millions of Americans and working people; ending the Iraq War, solving the nation’s health care needs, free education for college students, providing benefits for all veterans, protecting homeowners, creating affordable housing and providing for the needs of all working class people. Only within the past decade, millions of Americans firmly believed that these issues were important to the Democrats; now in 2008 most Americans believe the Democrats are for big corporations, increasing the wealth of billionaires and expanding American imperialism. The Iraq War is still the number one issue with most Americans and Independent voters. Since the Democrats gained control of Congress, the Democrats have continued to support the war, most recently giving Bush another $70 billion which will finance the war through mid 2008. Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA have rejected any funding for the Iraq War. Both socialist parties, Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA, have charged that the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is illegal and the billions of dollars being spent to finance the war is causing more deaths, human suffering, and is creating greater hardships on working people and the poor. Within the past 5 years, the two corporate parties, the Democrats and Republicans, have financed the war and occupation at a cost of more than $500 billion to the American people. The war is increasing the national debt and will eventually cost more than $2 trillion dollars according to recent scientific data. The war is creating a financial burden on the entire nation and is requiring the sacrifice of many services that are badly needed by the poor and working people. The two corporate parties have neglected to provide for the millions of veterans across America and today there are an increasing number of veterans that are without jobs, homeless and living on the streets. The two socialist parties support a guaranteed basic income for all veterans and taking care of their entire health care needs. The two socialist parties have remained strong supporters for free health care for all; to include mental care, eye care and dental care. The two corporate parties have shown little interest in easing the financial burden on students while college tuitions have more than tripled in some regions of the nation within the past 10 years. The two socialist parties object to the escalating cost of education for college students and both parties support free education through university level. Today, there is an urgent need for the U.S. government and the state governments to subsidize the cost of childcare for working families. Many single parents and working families are paying more for childcare than rents, car payments, or the cost for sending their children to college. Some single parents are paying up to half of their disposal income to pay for childcare. The two corporate parties have done little to address this growing problem that affects growing families and our children. To solve the nation’s childcare crisis will require at least $30 billion per year. Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA believe it is important to provide this financial assistance to single parents and working families. Within the next decade, the majority of Americans will be living in poverty and millions of seniors will be forced to receive care and housing from family members and caregivers. Today, over 90 percent of all Americans will not be able to retire on their social security income or pensions; however, the two corporate parties are increasing the wealth of the billionaires worldwide and both parties have remained the guardians of the wealthy capitalists. Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA have outlined an agenda to benefit working people; doubling the minimum wage to a minimum $15 per hour and to index it to the cost of living. The two socialist parties want workers to be guaranteed the right to organize and to strike; and both parties want socially useful jobs for all at union pay levels. Most working people have become slaves to their jobs and slaves to the economy, while the Democrats and Republicans continue to protect the economic interest of the capitalists and billionaires. Peace and Freedom Party and Socialist Party USA wants a 30 hour work week with no cuts in weekly pay and longer paid vacations. The two socialist parties also want a guaranteed dignified income for those who can not work and a universal basic income to alleviate poverty and homelessness. To accomplish this would require taxing the income and assets of the rich, which has been strongly resisted by the Democrats and Republicans for more than 150 years. The Democrats and Republicans have lost the confidence of most Americans because the two corporate parties have chosen to only represent less than 1 percent of all Americans while more than 298 million Americans are no longer represented. It is likely 2008 will reveal the eroding confidence that millions of voters now have for the two corporate parties in U.S. politics. Millions of socialist understand that elections are not always about winning the popular votes; it’s about the results; and of all the polls, the voting polls will be the only true polls that will count. On all the important issues that matters to working people, from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii to California to Florida, 2008 will reveal the two sides of the political spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, the Democrats and Republicans are the representatives of the big corporations and billionaires; and at the other end are the socialist parties, representing working people and true democracy. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Independent Voters Rejecting Democrats and Republicans. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=39173http://miami.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/6839.phphttp://StewartAlexanderCares.comhttp://www.vote-socialist.org/http://peaceandfreedom-sjv.org/home/http://www.sp-usa.org/http://www.dcpoliticalreport.com/pres08.htmhttp://www.politics1.com/p2008.htm
By Steven Argue As someone without healthcare, I support the idea of socialized medicine for the United States. Socialized medicine will bring healthcare to everyone. Besides legitimate self-interest, my personal position comes from being an advocate for social justice with a vision of an egalitarian society. As such, I not only see universal access to healthcare as a basic human right, I also see that socialized healthcare will mitigate some of the racial and class inequalities in our society. In addition, socialized medicine is cheaper than the costs of current system of for-profit capitalist healthcare. It also looses the profit motive of insurance companies to deny needed procedures. From this knowledge, and these personal convictions, I am strongly in favor of socialized healthcare in the United States like that established in Europe as well as established in Cuba with the 1959 revolution. Short of a fully socialized healthcare system I see that the single payer system (i.e. socialized health insurance run by the government), like in Canada, would be a significant step forward for the United States. In the United States there’s a lot of confusion on terminology. With a system of socialized medicine hospitals are directly owned by the government and doctors are government employees. It’s a universal system where everyone is covered and all health care is paid for by the government. Under a single payer health care plan, health care is universal and paid for by the government, but it is a system still largely based on private hospitals and private physicians. Two main arguments are encountered when discussing socialized medicine. One argument is that it will cost too much. The second argument is that socialized medicine doesn’t work to provide adequate healthcare. Neither argument stands up to scrutiny. Socialized medicine and single payer medicine actually cost less than the United State’s current for profit capitalist health care system. Both statistics and common sense back this up. According to statistics from 2003, the United States spends $5,711 per capita per year for health care while Canada spends about half of that, $2,998 per capita per year (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007). In fact, the costs per capita are much cheaper in every other developed country with some form of socialized healthcare. In other examples Sweden spends $2,745, Germany $2,983, and the United Kingdom $2,317 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007). In addition, Cuba , with their well known socialized healthcare system, spent only $251 per capita on healthcare in 2006 (United Nations World Health Organization, 2006). The reason socialized insurance is much cheaper and more efficient than private health insurance is because single payer eliminates the health insurance racket with all of its waste in capitalist profits, paperwork, and overpaid CEOs. In addition, such insurance practices as routinely denying needed medical procedures to keep profits up are eliminated, thus reducing capitalism as being the cause of death. Socialized healthcare does work. It is working very well in Cuba. Cuban life expectancy in 2006 was 77.6 years, while the life expectancy of the United States for that same year was slightly less, 77.5 years (United Nations Development Program, 2006). It is interesting that poor Cuba with a history of poverty before their 1959 socialist revolution, and a devastating U.S. imposed economic blockade since, is able to provide good healthcare for everyone through socialized medicine. Cuba, unlike the United States, does not let people die in the emergency rooms without treatment, turn sick people away from receiving healthcare because they lack insurance, or allow insurance companies to decide, based on profit motive, whether the insured actually receive the care they paid for and need. The Cubans have done this by taking the profit out of illness and injury and providing healthcare as a basic human right. Canada, like Cuba, has a higher life expectancy than the United States. In 2004 the life expectancy of Canada hit 80.2 years (Statistics Canada, 2004). With Canada’s socialized health insurance system, like Cuba’s socialized medical system, every single person is covered. In the United States 45.8 million Americans do not have health insurance (U.S. Department of Health and human Services, 2005). On another key indicator of health, infant mortality, the United States is also nearly the worst in the developed world, only worse than the recently turned capitalist country of Latvia (Green, 2006). The infant mortality rate in the United States in 2002 was 7.0 deaths before the age of one per every 1,000 live births (Center for Disease Control, 2005). In comparison, other advanced countries with forms of socialized medicine and socialized health insurance have lower infant mortality. This includes rates per thousand births in Japan of 3.2, Germany with 4.4, Italy with 4.5, France with 4.6, and the United Kingdom with 5.6 (Treasury Board of Canada, 2003). Cuba, with their system of socialized medicine has an infant mortality rate of 6.2 per thousand live births, a rate much lower the United States rate of 7.0 per every thousand live births (BBC News, 2002). This is also lower than every other Latin American country (BBC News, 2002). The only other country in the Americas with an infant mortality lower than Cuba is Canada with their system of socialized health insurance. The Canadian infant mortality rate in the year 2000 was 5.3 (Treasury Board of Canada, 2003). In addition, a United Nations report on the status of Native Americans in Canada has credited Canada’s relatively recently established socialized health insurance system with drastically reducing an extremely high infant mortality among Native Americans (United Nations, 1993). In 1979, that death rate for Canadian Native Americans was 27.6 per thousand live births, but by 1999 it had dropped to 8.0 deaths per thousand live births (Treasury Board of Canada, 2003). These improvements coincide with Canada’s passage of the Canada Health Act in 1984 that brought their socialized insurance system to the entire country at that time (Health Canada, 2002). For Blacks in the United States between 1995 and 2002, the infant mortality rate was 13.9, more than double the rate of 5.9 for whites in the same time period (Center for Disease Control, 2005). Canadian statistics are a strong indication that a socialized insurance system in the United States could both decrease the infant mortality rate of the general population and dramatically decrease the infant mortality of oppressed and impoverished minorities such as Blacks, as it did for Canadian Native Americans. The statistics show that socialized medicine is cheaper, saves lives, and helps alleviate class and racial inequalities in healthcare. Prospects for Socialized and Single Payer Medicine Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has declared, "It's time to provide quality affordable health care for every American, and I intend to be the president who accomplishes that goal finally for our country" (CNN.com). This is the same promise that Bill Clinton made when he ran for office in 1992. After being elected, in Bill Clinton’s first State of the Union address, he said, “And on any given day, over 37 million Americans -- most of them working people and their little children -- have no health insurance at all.” Yet, despite Bill Clinton’s campaign promise of universal health care, his defeated proposal to congress would not have provided health care to every American, nor did it address the other fundamental problems of private health insurance. After his health care proposal was defeated, Clinton dropped the issue. In fact, the Bill Clinton administration was opposed to a bill for single payer health care introduced by Wellstone, Conyers, and Mcdermott that actually would have provided universal health care. By the time Bill Clinton left office, an additional three million more Americans were uninsured. Today Republican candidate Mitt Romney has declared of Hillary Clinton’s promised health care plan, “It’s a European-style socialized medicine plan, that’s where it leads–and that’s the wrong direction for America” (Shulte). Yet, unfortunately, Clinton’s plan has nothing in common with socialized medicine, neither of the European variety, nor the Canadian single payer. Her plan is to keep the broken and expensive capitalist system of health care, a system that keeps the insurance industry in charge of life and death questions of whether or not we receive health care when we need it. In addition, the Clinton plan would make the purchase of health insurance by America’s uninsured mandatory for those who do not get insurance from their employer and who do not qualify for government assistance. Yet, the problem for America’s nearly 50 million uninsured is not that we don’t want to have insurance, the problem is that we can’t afford it. Clinton’s plan of making us criminals for not purchasing health insurance will not resolve this fundamental problem. By making the purchase of health insurance mandatory Clinton makes the false claim that hers is a plan for universal health insurance as compared to the plan of Obama. Neither would provide universal health care. John Edwards has taken the absurdity of forced insurance purchases one step further, detailing a plan that would include the necessity of showing proof of health insurance at the time of paying taxes, with penalties for those who do not provide that proof. In a similar fashion as Mitt Romney, Republican contender Rudolph Giuliani has extended false accusations of socialized medicine to other Democratic hopefuls stating, “Whether it’s HillaryCare or ObamaCare or EdwardsCare, the idea that it’s not socialized medicine is a trick. It’s a massive growth of government control of medicine” (Rovner). The truth, however, is that the only presidential candidates of the Democrat and Republican Party that are for single payer health care are Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, and none are for full socialized medicine. The other major candidates, who oppose single payer, enjoy massive contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. In addition to being excluded from money, the Kucinich and Gravel campaigns have also been excluded from debates. Most recently, for the 2008 election, CNN and the Des Moines Register made the decision to exclude both Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel from a key debate in Iowa. Yet Biden and Dodd, who are behind Kucinich in the national polls, but who reject single payer health care, were allowed into the debate. This kind of undemocratic shenanigan is to be expected of CNN, a corporate media source that was forced to publicly apologize for a number of lies they told about Michael Moore’s pro-socialized medicine film “Sicko”. While Kucinich has alienated the corporate power structure with his stand for single payer health care, he has also alienated much of his natural base by voting for Bush’s “War on Terror”, voting for the U.S. travel ban against Cuba, and by voting against Mumia Abu-Jamal. In 2001 Kucinich voted in favor of the US travel ban against Cuba. The travel ban does not allow U.S. citizens to spend any money in Cuba, basically making travel to Cuba illegal. It is under the travel ban that Michael Moore has been harassed by the U.S. government for bringing sick 9/11 rescue workers, who were unable to receive medical treatment in the United States, for medical treatment in Cuba. The United States has had hostile relations with Cuba ever since the 1959 Cuban revolution overthrew the U.S. backed Batista dictatorship, nationalized the United Fruit Company owned by the Rockefeller family, ended Jim Crow style racist segregation, and began providing free socialized health care and education. In contrast to Kucinich’s support for U.S. measures against Cuba, Mumia Abu-Jamal recognizes the gains Cuba has made in areas such as health care. Of the U.S. and Cuban health care systems, Mumia Abu-Jamal stated May 2nd, 2003: “What about the human right to health care? In the US, you can obtain excellent health care if you can afford it. Cuba, meanwhile, boasts the largest number of doctors per capita on earth. They provide medical care to people all around the world. Indeed, there are more Cuban doctors working in other countries than the UN’s World Heath Organization. Millions of men, women and children in this country have no medical insurance and no real prospect for decent medical care.” (Abu-Jamal 5/2/03) Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner in the United States whose trial, according to Amnesty International, was not fair and “did not comply with international justice standards” (Amnesty International). Yet, in 2006 Kucinich voted to condemn the French City of St. Denis for naming a street after Mumia. The resolution boldly proclaimed Mumia’s guilt, despite international recognition of the injustice dished out to Mumia, and despite the fact that the courts are still reviewing the case. Despite the injustice represented by this resolution and despite 31 members of Congress voting against it, Kucinich voted for it. Showing a similar lack of support for the needs of the people, Kucinich voted for Bush’s so-called “War on Terror”. This was a vote that effectively gave Bush the power to invade any country at any time. That vote could have been used for anything, and was used by Bush to invade Afghanistan. Likewise, despite pretending to be a peace candidate, Kucinich’s calls for a strong and efficient military do not address the fact that the United States is the most aggressive and dangerous nation in the world. The tremendous lack of judgment on these three votes alone, along with Kucinich’s promotion of the pro-war, anti-single payer health care, and corporate controlled Democrat Party, have alienated the left from Kucinich’s campaign. Presidential candidate Mike Gravel doesn’t have a recent voting record, but was actively opposed to the Vietnam War in Congress, voting to cut off funding for the war, and helping to release the Pentagon Papers that exposed many wrong doings by the U.S. government in Vietnam. On the issue of health care, Gravel states on his website that he proposes “a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens, paid for by a retail sales tax (a portion of the Progressive Fair tax)” (Gravel website). Yet, sales taxes are not fair taxes. They are regressive taxes that charge the poor a much higher percentage of their income than they charge the rich. While it is true that the rich are not paying their fair share under the current tax system, Gravel’s proposal is even worse. Sadly for those who think solutions could come from the Democrat Party, Kucinich and Gravel are the best the Democrat Party could produce. While the mainstream of the American political establishment rejects any form of socialized medicine, all political parties to the left of the Democrats and Republicans support some form of socialized medicine. This is true from the Green Party and Reconstruction Party to the various socialist parties who run candidates, including the Peace and Freedom Party, Socialist Action, Socialist Party, Workers World Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Freedom Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, and Socialist Equality Party. Breaking from the pro-war anti-health care Democrat Party is former Georgia Democratic Congressperson Cynthia McKinney. In a video news release declaring her candidacy for president she says, “The Democrat is no different from their Republican counterparts, eat out of the hands of corrupt lobbyists and feed at the same corporate tough” (McKinney). McKinney is running for president on the Reconstruction Party ticket as well as in the Green Party primaries. On health care McKinney states, "I've supported every universal single payer health care plan. She goes on to state, “People who rail against `socialized medicine' in Canada and the UK have to explain why life expectancy is longer in Canada and the UK, why infant mortality is lower in Canada and the UK" (Deeth). McKinney further denounces the war in Iraq stating that the money being squandered could be better used on social programs such as rebuilding New Orleans, child nutrition, and health care, stating in part, “one billion dollars a day can provide medical care for the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance” (McKinney). Another Green Party candidate, Kent Mesplay, declares on his website: “Medical attention is a human right not yet recognized by the United States government. Nearly every other industrialized country on the planet has National Health Care. We are tied with South Africa for last place. In the same manner that we have a socialized military that at best provides for some aspects of our physical security, single payer health insurance is necessary to ensure that all people within our borders receive at least a basic level of medical and dental care.” (Mesplay). While this may be a good position on single payer health care, it ignores the fact that the U.S. military does not provide physical security to the people of the United States, but is instead used to kill and terrorize the people of the world for the security of the profits of American corporations. Also supporting single payer health care, Green Party candidate Kat Swift states: “Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and other prominent Democrats are the greatest obstacle to universal health coverage. Except for a few mavericks like Rep. John Conyers [D-Mich.], who has regularly introduced single-payer bills, Democrats have joined Republicans in favoring HMO and insurance corporations over guaranteed publicly-financed quality health care for every American. It's a safe bet that the 2008 Democratic nominee will -- like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry before them -- follow the same pattern.” Likewise, Green Party candidate Jared Ball, a Black free-lance journalist and college professor who calls for freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and all political prisoners states, “Medicine for profit cannot be sustained as a model of managing health care for any progressive society” (Ball). To the left of the Green Party is Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther Party member and activist for social programs for the poor and for prison reform. On health care she declares herself for, “Full and free health care for everyone, as exists in most civilized countries.” Elaine Brown was a candidate for nomination as Green Party candidate for president until, on December 28, 2007, she broke with the Green Party, pointing out it was a capitalist Party and accusing the Green Party of racism. In her public statement Brown declared, "In effect, the present Green Party leadership promotes a kinder, gentler capitalism, a moderated racism, an environmentally-sustainable globalism, which I cannot support." On racism in the party she declared she intended to use her campaign “to bring large numbers of blacks and browns into the Party, particularly from the hood and the barrio” but that the Green Party “hierarchy seemed utterly fearful of the prospect of a massive influx of blacks and browns into the Green Party". Brown has given no indication that she now intends to continue her run as a candidate to the left of the Greens. To the left of the Green Party are socialist candidates that call for full socialized medicine, like in Europe and Cuba, but who also see that single payer health care would be a step forward. These include likely Socialist Equality Party candidate Bill Van Auken, who calls for full socialized medicine, and says of the Canadian Single Payer system as an imperfect form of “socialized medicine”. Likewise Peace and Freedom Party candidate and Socialist Party USA nominee for vice president, Stewart Alexander states, “I favor a fully socialized medical care system, with as a first step a single-payer system similar to Medicare, but covering people of all ages. I favor eliminating the "co-pays" that are such a burden, and keep people from seeking needed care. We should take the profit out of the health-care system, and fully fund it. (The money now spent on health care in the USA is about twice as much per person as is spent in Western Europe, with less effective delivery of care. No additional money would actually be needed, but taxes on the wealthy few should be used initially to help fund improvements.) Eventually, I favor a fully-socialized system, funded from the surplus of the socialized economy, with an emphasis on prevention and public health.” (Alexander) Also advocating full socialized medicine is Socialist Party USA nominee and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Brian Moore. In the California Voters Guide he states that he would, “establish guaranteed minimum income, housing and socialized healthcare for all”. Not mentioning socialized medicine, but supporting single payer, Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Gloria La Riva states, “The three main focuses of my campaign will be to oppose the racist attacks on immigrants; to propose a massive jobs program and increased social spending as an alternative to anti-crime hysteria and new prisons; and to give strong support for Single Payer Healthcare” (La Riva). While generally being a good activist party, a strong concern among many on the left towards the Party for Socialism and Liberation is their uncritical support for undemocratic communist models, a problem that will cause many to instead vote for non-Stalinist candidates such as Stewart Alexander or Brian Moore in the Peace and Freedom Party primaries, or for other anti-Stalinist socialist parties that may run candidates such as the Socialist Equality Party, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Action, or the Freedom Socialist Party. In contrast to some of the anti-democratic positions of Gloria La Riva’s party, presidential candidate Stewart Alexander states, “Socialism is the common ownership of the means of production, but I like to be more specific. There are, have been, and can be many forms of socialism, but I believe that the best, strongest and most beneficial form of socialism, the kind of socialism I personally work for, is common ownership of the economy coupled with its democratic control by working people.” (Alexander) Obviously, there are clear alternatives to the capitalist Democrat and Republican Parties that are working hard to promote a workers agenda that includes either fully socialized medicine or single payer healthcare. Yet, almost all of the unions of the United States remain committed to endorsing and financing Democrats and only Democrats in elections. A good number of unions, such as the SEIU, even endorse Democrats that are opposed to single payer health care and help fund the same campaigns that are being funded by the big insurance companies. These endorsements of the anti-worker politicians of the Democrat Party are a blatant violation of the interests of the membership. Such endorsements hurt attempts at building alternative parties that represent workers interests, and hurt the ability of workers to protest and strike against such politicians that are not representing our interests. Some other unions, such as the California Nurses Association, take the stand of only endorsing candidates who support single payer health care. This is a step forward, but many on the left see that a full break by labor from the corporate controlled Democrat Party will be necessary. Ultimately, what is needed is the building of a spirit of resistance among workers, the unemployed, and students, where we no longer passively agree to politicians and union leaders who pretend to be lesser evils, but are rarely even that. We must challenge and change the organizations we are part of, and when that fails, break away and build new ones. Most importantly, we must fully resurrect the use of political strikes and demonstrations to force the bosses and government to give us what we need, as is often done in countries with socialized medicine such as France. It is this kind of resistance that won socialized healthcare in Europe after the Second World War, and it will be this that will bring socialized medicine to the United States. This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free: lists.riseup.net/www/info/...ation_newsReferences: Abu-Jamal, Mumia. "Mumia 5/2/03 Taped Commentary on Cuba." Radio4all and Prisonradio.org. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.iacenter.org/polprison...uba03.htm. Internet. Alexander, Stewart. “Presidential Candidate Questionnaire” Socialist National Committee, Socialist Party. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: vote-socialist.org/p08/ques...der.html. Internet. Ball, Jared. “Healthcare.” Jared Ball for President Website. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.jaredball.com/ Internet. “Clinton Unveils Mandatory Health Insurance Program” CNN.com. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.cnn.com/2007/POLITIC...e/index.html. Internet. “Concluding observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Canada”. 6 March, 1993. United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:Jt9OTyVZWTYJ:www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(...ant+mortality+ canada +%22united+nations%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=16&gl=us. Internet.
“Cuba Records Lowest Infant Mortality Rate”. BBC News. 3 January, 2002. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ameri...739773.stm. Internet. Deeth, John. "Cynthia McKinney Brings Green Campaign to Iowa City." Iowa Independent. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.iowaindependent.com/showDi...BCF9BC5 Internet.
Green, Jeff. “U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world, report says”. 10 May, 2006. CNN.Com. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/...x/index.html. Internet. Health Canada, Government of Canada. 25 November, 2002. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/me...bk4_e.html. Internet. “How Mike Stands on the Issues.” Mike Gravel ’08 Website. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.gravel2008.us/issues. Internet. “Human Development Report”. 2006. United Nations World Health Organization. Accessed 23 September, 2007. Available from: hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/sta...ors/52.html. Internet. La Riva, Gloria. “Gloria La Riva for Governor”. California Online Voting Guide. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: calvoter.org/archive/94g...peech3.html. Internet. Mesplay, Kent. “Healthcare”. Kent Mesplay for President. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.mesplay.org/healthcare.html. Internet. McKinney, Cynthia. “Cynthia McKinney Announces Campaign for Presidency” McKinney for President 2008 Website. Accessed 2 January, 2008. Available from: www.runcynthiarun.org/node/25. Internet. “Overview of the Uninsured in The United States, An Analysis of the 2005 Current Population Survey”. 22 September 2005. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 23 September, 2007. Available from: aspe.hhs.gov/health/repo...s/index.htm. Internet. “Presidents Report, Canada’s Performance 2003”. 2003. Treasury Board of Canada. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/report/go...c-PR_e.asp Internet. “Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality --- United States, 1995-2002”. 10 June 2005. MMWR Weekly. Center for Disease Control. Accessed 26 September, 2007. Available from: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview...mm5422a1.htm. Internet. Rovner, Julie. “Socialized Medicine Belittled on Campaign Trail.” 6 December, 2007. NPR Morning Edition. Available from Physicians for a National Health Program: www.pnhp.org/news/2007/d...dicine_.php. Internet. Shulte, Elizabeth. "Hillary Clinton’s First Health Care Non-Reform." 27 September, 2007. Dissident Voice. Available from: www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/0...eform/. Internet. “Snapshots: Healthcare Costs”. Kaiser Family Foundation. January 2007. Accessed 23 September, 2007. Available from: www.kff.org/insurance/sn...10307oth.cfm. Internet. “Statistics Canada”. 20 December, 2006. The Daily. Accessed 23 September, 2007. Available from: www.statcan.ca/Daily/Engl...61220b.htm. Internet. “USA: Mumia Abu-Jamal -- Overturning of death sentence falls short of full justice” 19 December, 2001. Amnesty International. Available from: www.amnesty.org/en/alfresc...001en.html. Internet.
Kenya edged closer to tribal warfare last night after more than 100 people – at least 80 of them children – burned to death as the church they had fled to for refuge was set alight. More than 200 people, mainly Kikuyus, the same tribe as President Mwai Kibaki, were sheltering for safety in the Kenya Assemblies of God church five miles outside Eldoret in the Rift Valley. An armed gang of young men drawn from the Kalenjin, Luhya and Luo tribes – ethnic groups which backed the beaten presidential candidate Raila Odinga – stormed the church compound yesterday morning and set it alight.
Joseph Karanja, a volunteer for the Kenya Red Cross, who arrived at the scene in the afternoon, said he counted scores of bodies. "They were piled up, on top of each other". He said at least 80 of the dead were children. "You could see from the size of their heads and bodies they were kids.
"There were also adults but I couldn't recognise the men from the women – they were all burnt beyond recognition. There were old, old people and women who could not walk. They and the children all got burned. Altogether there were more than 100 bodies.
"Those were the ones I could see. There were also others who were covered by the building itself which was burning. The whole church was on fire. It had collapsed. Outside the gates there were six dead bodies. They were cut with pangas [machetes]. They had been running away, running for their lives."
The death toll at the Eldoret church was expected to rise further. As darkness fell the remains of the mud and wood structure continued to smoulder. Police had been unable to recover any of the bodies.
"I have cried, I have cried, I have cried," said Mr Karanja. "What I saw today should never be seen. I could not handle it myself."
Last night a further 42 people were in Eldoret's Moi referral hospital with serious burns, many in a critical condition. Kenya Red Cross officials said that number would also rise.
Bishop Korir, the bishop of Eldoret, said more than 15,000 people were sheltering inside church compounds in his diocese. "It is the only place where people felt safe, but now I don't know. This situation is so bad. We have 8,000 people in one compound. They have no food, no water and no security. The situation is so bad – there are dead bodies lying in the streets."
Ethnic violence has swept through Kenya since Mwai Kibaki was controversially announced as the winner of last Thursday's presidential election. Paramilitary police have fired on Mr Odinga's supporters in Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, and in the slums of Nairobi.
Kikuyus, the largest of Kenya's 42 tribes, and the ethnic group of Mr Kibaki, have been fleeing their homes across the Rift Valley, seeking sanctuary in churches and police stations. Friends from other tribes have been hiding Kikuyus in their homes. Up to 50,000 Kikuyus across the country are believed to have left their homes.
Rhetoric was ratcheted up on all sides as the nationwide death toll from post-election riots rose above 200 in clashes which have become increasingly tribal. Mr Odinga said the government was guilty of "genocide", while government ministers in turn accused Mr Odinga of inciting ethnic violence.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe warned: "Our officers are exercising a lot of restraint in maintaining the law. This restraint will not last forever."
In a front-page editorial, Kenya's Daily Nation urged both Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga to "stop the senseless slaughter". It accused both men and their acolytes of stirring up ethnic tensions. "How many more must die, how much more must be destroyed before you come to your senses?"
The security forces are becoming increasingly divided along ethnic lines. Kalenjin army officers were said to be taking to the streets of Eldoret joining in the attacks on Kikuyus.
Witnesses said most of the business properties owned by Kikuyus had been burnt down. The marauding gangs were now attacking residential areas. "They stormed our house at night and burnt everything," said Margaret Wanjiru, a Kikuyu. Her 90-year-old grandmother and 75-year-old mother were both too frail to run. They perished in the fire.
Many Kikuyus have looked on in horror as the violence has intensified. "Kibaki has put the whole tribe in danger," said Juliette Njeri, 28, from Nairobi. "This won't end soon."
A Poetic Article"He did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood,...people trying to do good...and it's impossible to do good. In 'The Weight' it's the same thing." -- Robbie Robertson, commenting on the films of Luis Bunuel and the lyrics of "The Weight""Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog He said 'I will fix your rat if you'll take Jack my dog' I said 'Wait a minute Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man' He said 'That's okay boy, won't you feed him when you can?'" -- Some lyrics from "The Weight""Back in the Sixties, The Band done did a lotta good with that song 'The Weight'" -- Vietnam veteran being fed at a soup kitchen, 2007Special Note: For those who can't easily rise above the frills here, please note that this is an article about the attractiveness of solidarity in action, unencumbered by obsolete notions concerning proper forms for protest/change. The feathers about the neck of this animal of an article seem necessary to me because the direct prose calling for action "out there" at present seems inefficacious, to say the least. My aim is to uplift, and move to action immediately.We activists are weighted down. Let me explain:It would be nearly impossible, and it is certainly improbable, to hit a person over the head with an axe handle while holding the business end of the instrument. Anyone who has actually put an axe to work knows that it is the weight of the thing, as much as the sharpness of the blade, which does the work.Focus on strength while chopping wood and you are certain to run out of energy. Instead, one uses gravity and momentum; in a single-bit axe the tool's potential resides in the heaviness of the hammer-end of the iron.Hit a person with the blade and you are almost certain to kill him. Hit him with the dull end of the bit and it will be remarkable if the person survives. Remarkable, yet possible. The idea here is to reform Our System to death, as it were, without actually killing it. The latter --as the historical record makes quite clear-- would necessitate massive violence. Which would be, of course, not only totally unacceptable and (most likely) "ineffective" in the long run, but unnecessary.However, at present, it's as if we've got an axe in our hands, and we're incessantly debating which blade would be the sharpest to attach to the axe handle. Ron? Hillary? Barack? Dennis? Et. al.First of all, presidential blades can't be sharpened sufficiently to ensure even...a superficial cut. We can sharpen that bit to death and get nowhere. We've got to forge anew. Elsewhere.I recommend the realm of California. Vote your conscience nationally, if you like, but get into the Smithy's Workshop on the West Coast where the usual pig iron can be transformed into wrought iron. Truly functional for our purposes, unlike the telegrams, petitions, street theatre, and vigils which have taken us/can take us only so far.Go ahead. Choose. Call your congressperson. Or follow me here down a very Yellow Brick Road, pregnant with possibilities, festooned with colorful children's dreams. Spend virtually ALL of your heartbeats on the Lesser Evils, or follow your most blissful thoughts.Get a governor in the Executive Seat in Sacramento --a governor who has the "intentions" of Robbie Robertson's (see opening quotation) Impossible Saint*-- and watch what miracles are wrought. Even without the cooperation of The Legislature initially, California's Governor can have a huge enough impact unilaterally to send positive solidarity ripples throughout the nation.*I personally know at least ten people --not politicians-- who would do a job that'd be bang-up better than any governor in the history of the Golden State. (1)For one, he/she could conduct regular "news shows" and "educational hours," during which --to cite one possibility-- select contributors to ZNet and Counterpunch take turns encouraging self-education in ALL realms. Those "spots" could replace mainstream outlets of news/misinformation in short order. Because of the Guv's imprimatur.Particularly if said governor (with a compatible Lt. Guv) were elected in 2010 without any dependence on media coverage or fundraising. How would that be possible? That's for me to know, and for you to find out about by arranging a meeting with this author in confidence. A Core Group is forming --as I write-- and we expect one and all to honor theelement of surprise...which is an important arrow in our collective quiver.I personally loved Michael Albert's Istanbul Talk for Istanbul METU Alumni Association (http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=14581), but I do not think "we need a movement which has a hundred million participants." To clarify, we don't require such a reasonable goal...for starters. More modest numbers concentrated in California, not spread out among our hinterlands and urban hovels, would do quite nicely. Five million, and for all practical purposes we'd take over California. Give it a totally new shot of adrenalin. Inspire the world.I just came from a dinner party at which someone asked how it would be possible to cull supportive voters from registered and/or non-registered pools, from the voter groups and non-voter elements. And the answer I gave is something I believe will serve for one and all from now through the next three years:"Don't worry about all of that, unless you're interested in being part of some serious recruiting on behalf of our efforts. If you're primarily interested in just being a part of what's coming down, then simply make an individual commitment to being registered...and then vote for the T Party. You don't have to know all the nooks and crannies involved with keeping you informed, soliciting input or making sure that you get to the polls utilizing our cells of core activists. No, you just have to register and vote."This will not make sense to everyone. But although we have an interest in voters 'cross the board, we're not worried about appealing to each and every soul, or even spending much energy on everyone. Rather, we're focused on reaching people who are truly fed up with politicians, totally disenchanted with the role that money and the media play in the electoral arena, and disgusted at the fact that voting machines may be rigged.Potential voters who know that there won't be enough difference between whatever candidates are run by the two major parties. Citizens who understand that all "other parties" are doomed to marginalization and failure, including the inability to lay down significant seeds for the future (as per recent revelations about the Green Party in http://www.counterpunch.org/murphy12282007.html). These are people who can be drawn into our orbit. They are the majority of potential voters.All a given voter has to do is vote. Thinking about matters that one is not ready to take responsibility for will only culminate in an "excuse" for not participating. We don't need people to work themselves up into a fever over putting up signs, collecting money or anything of the sort. If they want to recommend that someone speak to us directly, fine. If not, fine. We've got "specialists" already lined up for the requisite signature work.Readers who have already lumped this concept into the same bag as past voter recruitment drives, are missing the boat here. This has absolutely nothing in common with those admirable efforts. Too little, I should say.In every case --EVERY case!-- throughout U.S. voter history such attempts have relied primarily on the same traditional means for drawing people in, and for following through...up until payoff day, Election Day at the polls.With us, ten people are going to be recruited and nursed by a core person who is a personal friend. And those Core Angels are only going to have to commit to five hours per year for three years. No burnout. No fiery speeches. No posters. No begging the media. No frantic this or that. No opportunity to be sucked back into Apathy or Cynicism.No salesmanship. You want stuff to be different? Have you given up in your heart of hearts on what's possible within the status quo?Well, here's an opportunity to pick your own candidate. To contribute to your own platform. Something other than having both of them dumped on you on cue.In Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, there's a smith who overestimates his powers and the ability and desire of his student. After heating and tempering a bit (while carefully explaining all nuances involved, step-by-step), McCarthy has his smith, a typical teacher, experience great frustration:"It's like a lot of things, said the smith. Do the least part of it wrong and ye'd just as well do it all wrong. He was sorting through handles standing in a barrel. Reckon you could do it now from watchin'? he said.""Do what, said Ballard."I don't pretend to be a great teacher. But my frustration with Our System has helped me to create a true alternative to all else that's being embraced at present in the realm of electoral politics. In addition, I'm proud to say that I don't look upon the citizenry as morally-challenged dolts, incapable of self-educating (like Ballard). They can easily pick and choose what's best for them and their community if given a little help, a boost from the proper, compassionate people.The thing is, we can't allow the forging of a new powerful implement to be advertised excessively...prematurely. That would lead to the smith's quarters being closed. So...this article begs for direct, private contact.It's so outlandish, all of this, that even if so and so got wind of what we were attempting, it would be laughed at. In much the same vein that readers will tend to be dismissive.But let a best friend sit down with the same reader/same material, and my heartbeats are betting that there will be a different result.The catch is that we can't wait any longer. We've only got three years, and I can't hit you upside your head any harder than I've have here.Footnote:(1) And two of them sing like angels. Not a bad talent to have as you're closing your Nightly News from Sacramento. One can play the sax way better than Clinton. A few soulful notes can travel a long way.Marcelle Cendrars can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elaboration on any of the points above is available upon request, of course.