Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween , by Robert Burns

Upon that night, when fairies light On Cassilis Downans dance, Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze, On sprightly coursers prance; Or for Colean the route is ta'en, Beneath the moon's pale beams; There, up the cove, to stray and rove, Among the rocks and streams To sport that night. Among the bonny winding banks, Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear, Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks, And shook his Carrick spear, Some merry, friendly, country-folks, Together did convene, To burn their nits, and pou their stocks, And haud their Halloween Fu' blithe that night. The lasses feat, and cleanly neat, Mair braw than when they're fine; Their faces blithe, fu' sweetly kythe, Hearts leal, and warm, and kin'; The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs, Weel knotted on their garten, Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs, Gar lasses' hearts gang startin' Whiles fast at night. Then, first and foremost, through the kail, Their stocks maun a' be sought ance; They steek their een, and graip and wale, For muckle anes and straught anes. Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift, And wander'd through the bow-kail, And pou't, for want o' better shift, A runt was like a sow-tail, Sae bow't that night. Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane, They roar and cry a' throu'ther; The very wee things, todlin', rin, Wi' stocks out owre their shouther; And gif the custoc's sweet or sour. Wi' joctelegs they taste them; Syne cozily, aboon the door, Wi cannie care, they've placed them To lie that night. The lasses staw frae 'mang them a' To pou their stalks of corn: But Rab slips out, and jinks about, Behint the muckle thorn: He grippet Nelly hard and fast; Loud skirl'd a' the lasses; But her tap-pickle maist was lost, When kitlin' in the fause-house Wi' him that night. The auld guidwife's well-hoordit nits, Are round and round divided, And monie lads' and lasses' fates Are there that night decided: Some kindle coothie, side by side, And burn thegither trimly; Some start awa, wi' saucy pride, And jump out-owre the chimlie Fu' high that night. Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee; Wha 'twas she wadna tell; But this is Jock, and this is me, She says in to hersel: He bleezed owre her, and she owre him, As they wad never mair part; Till, fuff! he started up the lum, And Jean had e'en a sair heart To see't that night. Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt, Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie; And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt, To be compared to Willie; Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling, And her ain fit it brunt it; While Willie lap, and swore by jing, 'Twas just the way he wanted To be that night. Nell had the fause-house in her min', She pits hersel and Rob in; In loving bleeze they sweetly join, Till white in ase they're sobbin'; Nell's heart was dancin' at the view, She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't: Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonny mou', Fu' cozie in the neuk for't, Unseen that night. But Merran sat behint their backs, Her thoughts on Andrew Bell; She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks, And slips out by hersel: She through the yard the nearest taks, And to the kiln goes then, And darklins graipit for the bauks, And in the blue-clue throws then, Right fear't that night. And aye she win't, and aye she swat, I wat she made nae jaukin', Till something held within the pat, Guid Lord! but she was quakin'! But whether 'was the deil himsel, Or whether 'twas a bauk-en', Or whether it was Andrew Bell, She didna wait on talkin' To spier that night. Wee Jennie to her grannie says, "Will ye go wi' me, grannie? I'll eat the apple at the glass I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:" She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt, In wrath she was sae vap'rin', She notice't na, an aizle brunt Her braw new worset apron Out through that night. "Ye little skelpie-limmer's face! I daur you try sic sportin', As seek the foul thief ony place, For him to spae your fortune. Nae doubt but ye may get a sight! Great cause ye hae to fear it; For mony a ane has gotten a fright, And lived and died deleeret On sic a night. "Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, -- I mind't as weel's yestreen, I was a gilpey then, I'm sure I wasna past fifteen; The simmer had been cauld and wat, And stuff was unco green; And aye a rantin' kirn we gat, And just on Halloween It fell that night. "Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen, A clever sturdy fallow: His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean, That lived in Achmacalla: He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel, And he made unco light o't; But mony a day was by himsel, He was sae sairly frighted That very night." Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck, And he swore by his conscience, That he could saw hemp-seed a peck; For it was a' but nonsense. The auld guidman raught down the pock, And out a hanfu' gied him; Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk, Some time when nae ane see'd him, And try't that night. He marches through amang the stacks, Though he was something sturtin; The graip he for a harrow taks. And haurls it at his curpin; And every now and then he says, "Hemp-seed, I saw thee, And her that is to be my lass, Come after me, and draw thee As fast this night." He whistled up Lord Lennox' march To keep his courage cheery; Although his hair began to arch, He was say fley'd and eerie: Till presently he hears a squeak, And then a grane and gruntle; He by his shouther gae a keek, And tumbled wi' a wintle Out-owre that night. He roar'd a horrid murder-shout, In dreadfu' desperation! And young and auld came runnin' out To hear the sad narration; He swore 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw, Or crouchie Merran Humphie, Till, stop! she trotted through them And wha was it but grumphie Asteer that night! Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen, To win three wechts o' naething; But for to meet the deil her lane, She pat but little faith in: She gies the herd a pickle nits, And two red-cheekit apples, To watch, while for the barn she sets, In hopes to see Tam Kipples That very nicht. She turns the key wi cannie thraw, And owre the threshold ventures; But first on Sawnie gies a ca' Syne bauldly in she enters: A ratton rattled up the wa', And she cried, Lord, preserve her! And ran through midden-hole and a', And pray'd wi' zeal and fervour, Fu' fast that night; They hoy't out Will wi' sair advice; They hecht him some fine braw ane; It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice Was timmer-propt for thrawin'; He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak, For some black grousome carlin; And loot a winze, and drew a stroke, Till skin in blypes cam haurlin' Aff's nieves that night. A wanton widow Leezie was, As canty as a kittlin; But, och! that night amang the shaws, She got a fearfu' settlin'! She through the whins, and by the cairn, And owre the hill gaed scrievin, Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn To dip her left sark-sleeve in, Was bent that night. Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays, As through the glen it wimpl't; Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays; Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't; Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays, Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle; Whyles cookit underneath the braes, Below the spreading hazel, Unseen that night. Among the brackens, on the brae, Between her and the moon, The deil, or else an outler quey, Gat up and gae a croon: Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool! Near lav'rock-height she jumpit; but mist a fit, and in the pool Out-owre the lugs she plumpit, Wi' a plunge that night. In order, on the clean hearth-stane, The luggies three are ranged, And every time great care is ta'en', To see them duly changed: Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys Sin' Mar's year did desire, Because he gat the toom dish thrice, He heaved them on the fire In wrath that night. Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks, I wat they didna weary; And unco tales, and funny jokes, Their sports were cheap and cheery; Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt, Set a' their gabs a-steerin'; Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt, They parted aff careerin' Fu' blythe that night. Robert Burns

Students serious about mock election

...

"I think if the younger people were able to vote, we would make a change in the country," said Joseph Detz, 14.

Students across the Lower Hudson Valley have been paying close attention to the presidential race these days, spurred by teachers who are incorporating the election into lessons about American politics, government and history.

One of the most popular activities is the mock election. Many schools do a simple paper-and-pencil ballot. But North Salem High School, Pearl River High and Hommocks Middle School in Mamaroneck are using real voting booths to add to the authenticity. Students at Suffern High spent one lunch period handing out election materials in a nod to old-fashioned pavement-pounding styles.

Others have branched out through technology. South Orangetown Middle School students are holding a videoconference debate with Suffern Middle School students, with each side playing either candidate or the media. Students at Pomona Middle School in East Ramapo and at Clarkstown North High School were doing their voting online through the National Mock Election yesterday.

"The kids are so into it. This is my sixth or seventh presidential election, and I've never seen kids so engaged, so aware," Pomona Principal Brenda Shannon said. "Each of our social studies classes represents a state, so the kids have to do the research on how many electoral votes they get. It drives home the point how a homeroom that only has seven kids in it gets fewer (electoral) votes. It's absolutely amazing."

Pollsters may want to start paying closer attention to these student polls.

At Lakeland school district's Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, students have selected the winning candidate in every election year since 1968. If that's any indication of how things will turn out Tuesday, then it looks like Obama will be the next president of the United States. Obama won the popular vote 324-280.

Obama also won the popular vote at Gerald Neary School in North Rockland 227-75.

But McCain took the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade Congers Elementary School 151-128 this past week, with McCain winning votes at each grade level, except kindergarten and fifth. Second-graders especially liked McCain, voting 31-18 for his ticket.

At Fox Lane High School in Bedford, McCain, Obama and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney have student representatives who are working to win over students for an online vote Monday.

Spring Valley High School's mock debate included not only the standard McCain and Obama speakers, but "guest visits" from students representing every candidate running for president on the New York ballot, including McKinney; Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation; Roger Calero of the Socialist Workers Party; Ralph Nader, who is running an independent campaign; and Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate.

Educators at Mahopac Middle School, meanwhile, have kicked it up a notch by requiring students to register before they can vote via an electronic system. More than 90 percent of the student body had registered as of early last week. Students at Rockland's private Blue Rock School will be out on the streets of downtown Nyack on Monday with homemade signs encouraging people to vote.

"The students feel very passionate about the power of the individual vote and want to spend some of their time encouraging people to vote," Blue Rock teacher Meredith Kates said in an e-mail.

All the election work has created a buzz among youngsters who normally don't pay much attention to national balloting and may mean a more informed electorate when these students get old enough to vote for real, educators said.

"The students' conversations about it are real," Mahopac Middle School Principal Ira Gurkin said. "They know the issues, and they're talking about them."

In Rockland, some schools have added Student Council and class representative votes or local initiatives to the presidential ballots.

...


LaRiva to Host Final Rally

Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear, presidential and vice presidential candidates for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, will be the featured speakers at a campaign rally on Saturday, November 1 at 5pm. The PSL has carried out a national campaign to say what the Obama and McCain campaigns won’t say: that the system is broken and can’t be fixed within the bounds of the profit-driven capitalist system. “Socialism is the only answer to the crises that poor and working people in this country have been living,” La Riva said. “We know what capitalism has in store for us in the next four years, no matter who wins next Tuesday: layoffs, cutbacks, police brutality and war.” ... La Riva, and Puryear are active organizers in the movement calling for an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They call for the withdrawal of all U.S. military from the 800 bases it occupies around the world and to re-direct the billions wasted on war to programs that create jobs and pay for health and human services right here at home. Come out to the Harlem YMCA in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 1 to hear testimony, presentations and reports that put the whole system on trial. Both Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear have been on separate speaking tours throughout the country, but they are converging in Harlem to address this forum. This is an exciting opportunity just three days before the general election. The PSL Candidates are on the ballot in 12 states including, New York. ...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Socialist Party fights to maintain identity

Posted October 29, 2008 6:10 PM

The Swamp

by Laura Olson

There is a Socialist candidate on the ballot in eight states, and it's not Barack Obama.

His name is Brian Moore, resident of Spring Hill, Fla., whose resume includes training at a Franciscan seminary, a stint in the Peace Corps and work in health-care consulting.

He's also a stay-at-home dad and a civil war re-enactor.

On his campaign site, Moore, 65, tells voters that "he comes from a working class background, of modest economic means, has worked in factories, is an all-around athlete and has protested wars and Wal-Mart salary levels in public demonstrations."

Top issues for the Socialist Party ticket, which also include vice presidential nominee Stewart Alexander, are developing renewable energy, creating a national health care plan, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, ensuring civil liberties ... and implementing worker control of industry and financial institutions.

stewartmoore2.jpg

The ticket has qualified for write-in status in 14 states in addition to the eight states that will specifically list Moore and Alexander.

In a Q-and-A with The New Republic reporter Kathleen Marsh and again on Tuesday's Colbert Report, Moore denies that Obama follows any Socialist principles. "His party is a capitalist party. They voted for the bailout," he said. "They're both capitalist parties."

Instead, the Socialist Party, according to his campaign site, "strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control -- a non-racist, classless, feminist, socialist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community."

It also mentions an environmentalist side: "Socialism produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth."

There is one area, though, where the party's candidates don't seem that different from Obama or McCain. The ticket is made up of an older white man (Moore) and a black man (Alexander).

Sounds like a compromise ticket for those still undecided.

(Photo from Socialist Party Web site)


Zapatistas Call for Worldwide Festival of Dignified Rage

Mexico

September of 2008

To the adherents of the Sixth Declaration and the Other Campaign:

To the adherents of the Zezta Internazional:

To the People of Mexico:

To the Peoples of the World:

Compañeras and Compañeros:

Brother and Sisters:

Once again we send you our words. This is what we see, what we are looking at.

This is what has come to our ears, to our brown heart.

I.

Above they intend to repeat history.

They want to impose on us once again their calendar of death, their geography of destruction.

When they are not trying to strip us of our roots, they are destroying them.

They steal our work, our strength.

They leave our world, our land, our water, and our treasures without people, without life.

The cities pursue and expel us.

The countryside both kills us and dies on us.

Lies become governments and dispossession is the weapon of their armies and police.

We are the illegal, the undocumented, the undesired of the world.

We are pursued.

Women, young people, children, the elderly die in death and die in life.

And there above they preach to us resignation, defeat, surrender, and abandonment.

Here below we are being left with nothing.

Except rage.

And dignity.

There is no ear for our pain, that is not like what we are.

We are no one.

We are alone, alone with our dignity and our rage.

Rage and dignity are our bridges, our languages.

We must listen to each other then, learn to know each other.

So that our courage and rage grows and becomes hope.

So that our dignity takes root again and births another world.

We have seen and heard.

Our voice is small to be the echo of that word, our gaze small for so much dignified rage.

The process of seeing each other, looking at each other, speaking to each other, listening to each other, is still lacking.

We are others, the other.

If this world does not have a place for us, then another world must be made.

With no tool other than our rage, no material other than our dignity.

We still must encounter each other more, know each other better.

What is missing is yet to come…

II.

Now, three years after the Sixth Declaration of the Lacondon Jungle, the EZLN has undertaken a collective reflection, nourished by the broad horizon that our compañeros of the Other Campaign in Mexico and in the Zezta Internazional across the world have given to us.

It is not little that we have seen and heard, sometimes directly, sometimes through the words and the gaze of others.

The rage that we felt and the dignity that we found was so great that we think now that we are smaller then we thought before.

In Mexico and on the five continents we have found what we intuited when we began our sixth step: there is another world, there is another path.

If the catastrophe that is coming can be avoided and humanity is to have another opportunity, it will because these others, below and to the left, not only resist, but are already drawing the profile of something else.

Something different than what is occurring above.

In the impossible geometry of political power, the fundamentalists are distributed evenly: the right becomes ultra-right and the institutional left becomes the impossible cultured right. Those who make up the progressive media complain that the fanatics of the mainstream press censure them, twist their words and slander their cause, but they at the same time censure, twist the words, slander, and silence any movement that hasn’t bowed down to the dictates of their ringleaders. And without shame they condemn and acquit to the rhythm of a senseless media rating. Fanatics on all sides fight over lies dressed as truths and crimes are measured by the media time that they occupy. But this is nothing other than a pale reflection of what is happening in politics.

Weariness of the cynicism and incompetence of the traditional political classes has been converted into rage. Sometimes this rage is oriented toward hoping for change in the same paths and places as always, and it is there immobilized by disillusionment or trampled by an arbitrary force. The unsettled and brutal north goes back to its old ways. When it is not sponsoring electoral fraud (like in Mexico), it is promoting, encouraging, and financing state coups (as attempted now in Bolivia and Venezuela). War continues to be its primary and favored form of international diplomacy. Iraq and Afghanistan burn, but, to the despair of those above, are not consumed.

The impositions of hegemony and homogeneity on a global scale find in nations, in regions, and in small locales, their witches’ apprentices that try for that impossible historic return to a past where fanaticism was law and dogma science. Meanwhile, the governing political classes have found in the world of bright lights an adequate disguise to hide their full participation in organized crime.

Sickened by so much greed, the planet begins to pay the unpayable bill of its destruction. But “natural” disasters are also class issues and their devastation is felt most by those who have nothing and are no one. Faced with this, the stupidity of Power has no limits: millions and millions of dollars are dedicated to manufacturing new weapons and installing more military bases. The Power of capital does not worry about training teachers, doctors, engineers, but rather soldiers. It doesn’t prepare constructors, but rather destructors.

And those who opposed this are the pursued, incarcerated, murdered.

In Mexico, farmers who have defended their land are in prison (San Salvador Atenco); in Italy those who opposed the installation of military bases are pursued and treated as terrorists; in the France of “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” humans are only free, equal, and brothers if their papers say so; in Greece being young is a vice that must be eradicated; again in Mexico, but now in that city of the same name, young people are criminalized and murdered and nothing is done because it is not on the agenda that those above dictate. Meanwhile, a legitimate referendum is converted into a shameful way for an assassin-governor to wash his hands of a situation. In the Spain of the modern European Union, publications are closed and a language, Euskera, is criminalized—they think that by killing the word they can kill those who speak it; in that Asia that is so close, the peasant demands are answered with armored injustices; in that arrogant American Union, born in the blood of migrants, the “other colors” that work there are pursued and killed; in the long wound that is Latin America, the brown blood that sustains it is despised and humiliated; in the rebellious Caribbean, a people, the Cuban people, are forced to live under an imperial embargo that is nothing other than a punishment without crime.

And in all of the corners of the world’s geography, and in all of the days of its calendars, those that work, those that make things run, are plundered, despised, exploited, and repressed.

But sometimes, many times, as many times as a smile sets it off again, rage looks for its own paths, new paths, other paths. And the “no” that these multiple rages raise now not only resists, but begins to propose, to become.

Since our appearance in public, now almost 15 years ago, it has been our goal to be a bridge on which the many rebellions in the world can walk back and forth.

Sometimes we have achieved this, sometimes we haven’t.

Now we see and we feel not only the rebellious resistance that, as sister and comrade, stays at our side and encourages our steps.

Now there is something that before wasn’t there, or that we weren’t able to see before.

There is a creative rage.

A rage that paints all of the colors of the paths of below and to the left on the five continents….

III.

FOR THESE REASONS, AND AS PART OF THE ACTS COMMEMMORATING THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION, THE 15 YEARS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR AGAINST FORGETTING, THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD GOVERNMENT COUNCILS, AND THE THIRD YEAR OF THE OTHER CAMPAIGN AND THE ZEZTA INTERNAZIONAL, THE MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND ELDERLY OF THE EZLN CONVOKE ALL OF THE REBELLIOUS OF MEXICO AND THE WORLD TO THE:

FIRST GLOBAL FESTIVAL OF DIGNIFIED RAGE

WITH THE THEME OF:

ANOTHER WORLD, ANOTHER PATH: BELOW AND TO THE LEFT

TO BE CELEBRATED ON THE FOLLOWING PLACES AND DATES

THE OTHER MEXICO CITY, FEDERAL DISTRICT, December 26, 27, 28, and 29, 2008. IN LIENZO CHARRO OF THE ASSOCIATION LOS CHARROS REYES DE IZTAPALAPA, Frente Popular Francisco Villa Independiente-UNOPII, Avenue Guelatao # 50, Colonia Álvaro Obregón, Delegación Iztapalapa, close to the metro station Guelatao, where an exposition will be presented. AND IN THE HEADQUARTERS OF UNÍOS, Dr. Carmona y Valle street #32, colonia Doctores, close to the metro station Cuauhtemoc, where other activities will be held.

THE CITY OF SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS, IN CIDECI, located on the Camino Real de San Juan Chamula s/n, Colonia Nueva Maravilla.

SOME OF THE SUBTHEMES OF THE FESTIVAL WILL BE:

AN OTHER COUNTRYSIDE AN OTHER POLITICS AN OTHER CITY AN OTHER SOCIAL MOVEMENT AN OTHER COMMUNICATION AN OTHER HISTORY AN OTHER ART AN OTHER CULTURE AN OTHER SEXUALITY

THE FESTIVAL “ANOTHER WORLD, ANOTHER PATH: BELOW AND TO THE LEFT” WILL HAVE THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERISTICS:

1. In Mexico City, a national and international exposition will be installed where every struggle, every experience, every rage, will have a space where it can set up and show its struggle and its courage. This way we can all see, hear, and know each other.

2. In zapatista territory, dignity and rage will become art and culture, music and song, because rebellion also dances. And with words, pain will become hope.

3. In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, the word will go back and forth in order to give birth to new words and give strength and reason to rage.

4. The national and international groups, collectives, and organizations that participate in the festival will be only those who are invited to do so. To this end, the Sixth Commission of the EZLN has initiated consultations with political and social organizations, as well as with groups and collectives of anarchists, libertarians, alternative communication workers, human rights defenders, sexworkers, intellectuals, social activists, ex political prisoners, all adherents of the Sixth Declaration; and with groups, collectives, and organizations of other countries, all part of the Zezta Internazional. The criteria for invitations and participations will be made after these consultations.

5. For the roundtables, the EZLN will invite social organizers, thinkers, and leaders of anticapitalist projects from Mexico and around the world. The list of invitees will be released later.

6. More details about what we are thinking the festival of dignified rage could be will be made known at earliest convenience (that is, when we have an approximate idea of the problem we have gotten ourselves into).

That’s all for now.

LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ATENCO!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command, of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Mexico, September of 2008.


UN urges end to US Cuba embargo

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to urge the US to lift its 46-year-old economic embargo on Cuba in a resolution adopted for the 17th consecutive year.

The non-binding resolution was passed by assembly on Wednesday by 185 votes to three.

The US, Israel and Palau voted against the resolution while Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.

The financial and trade embargo, which Cuba calls an "economic blockade," was imposed in 1962 in response to Cuba's alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Bush administration has tightened sanctions against the Caribbean island over the last eight years, citing the treatment of political prisoners.

'Obstinacy and cruelty'

Felipe Perez Roque, the Cuban foreign minister, has blamed the sanctions for damaging the island's economy by $93 billion over the decades.

He welcomed the assembly vote, but said he also looked ahead to future US-Cuban relations following next week's presidential election.

Perez Roque said the next US president "will have to decide whether to concede that the embargo is a failed policy which each time creates greater isolation and discredits his country or whether he continues, with obstinacy and cruelty, to try to wear out the Cuban people with hunger and diseases".

Barack Obama, the US Democratic presidential candidate, has said he might be willing to hold top-level negotiations with Raul Castro, the country's president, but Republican John McCain has said he would press the Cuban leadership to free political prisoners held there.

A national survey by the Zogby polling organisation, released on October 2, said 60 per cent of Americans believe the US should change its policy towards Cuba.

'Terrible conditions'

Ronald Godard, the US State Department's senior advisor for Latin American affairs, defended the embargo and blamed the government in Cuba's for its economic problems.

"The real reason the Cuban economy is in terrible condition, and that so many Cubans remain mired in poverty, is that Cuba's regime continues to deny its people their basic human and economic rights," he told the assembly.

The margin of support for ending the embargo has grown steadily since 1992 when 59 countries voted in favour of the resolution.

The figure was 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 184 in 2007.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Tiger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forest of the night What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire? And What shoulder, and what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? and what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? William Blake * http://www.llewellyn.com/free/tarot.php Free tarot reading....

Interview: Ralph Nader

Nate Logsdon Mukund Premkumar

October 29th, 2008

Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and political activist, is running for president as an independent with running mate Matt Gonzalez. He has secured a place on the November ballot in Iowa with the Peace and Freedom Party. Nader delivered a campaign speech at Iowa State University on October 10, 2008. After his speech, Nader sat down with the Ames Progressive.

Nate Logsdon: In your speech, you criticized Obama and McCain for both supporting increased troop levels in Afghanistan. Is that to say that you oppose the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan altogether?

Ralph Nader: Well, surely after 9/11 if they had evidence that the backers of the attackers were over there [they could have sent] a multinational force of commandos using the international law doctrine of hot pursuit to go over there with language capabilities and bribes, and all as a focused laser beam. Instead, we overthrew the Taliban regime, which Bush had just given $40 million to earlier in that year because they had eradicated poppy growing – you know, in the war on drugs. Anyway, we overthrew them and now it’s chaos. There’s one principle in Afghanistan: if you bring in foreign soldiers to control that area, it will just breed its own resistance and the more brutal the soldiers, the more the resistance is going to grow. And that’s all those people have to do, is to liberate themselves from the occupiers. We have other things to do in our country. It’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked historically.

Mukund Premkumar: With the genocide in Darfur ongoing, what’s your view on humanitarian invasions? Are there conflicts that warrant the use of a military?

RN: This is what one country shouldn’t do; this is a UN function. There should be a highly professional, full-time UN peacekeeper force, that the full force of international law emanating from the UN charter can go in when there’s a major slaughter underway, like Rwanda and the Balkans and… southern Sudan is a slaughter, but it’s more complicated. It started out as a North-South civil war, then it broke out into more micro-struggles. But that doesn’t at all avoid an international presence of the African Union. They don’t have enough soldiers there – that’s the problem. Others have not provided them with the budget to pacify the area. And it could be pacified because the Janjaweed, they don’t have tanks and jet planes, it’s basically rifles and horses, with some machine guns and grenades. So, it wouldn’t be hard for a sufficient number of troops from the African Union to settle that and then move the whole area into mediation, because there are a lot of conflicts of rights there; it’s not just Khartoum, there are divisions in the south and oil is complicating it, which the Chinese have invested in.

NL: So, you would advocate the use of an international military force, not just a U.S. force?

RN: No, it can’t be unilateral, no, no, because then they’ll say the U.S. is an imperialist that wants the oil. You’ve got to have a multinational credibility. There’s got to be a standing, professional, permanent peacekeeping force, under UN control. NL: You’ve said that in a Nader administration the U.S. would be out of Iraq within six months. After the pullout of the troops would you then advocate bringing in UN forces?

RN: Depends. If it can be stabilized with a modest amount of autonomy between Shiite, Sunni and Kurds within a unified Iraq, then they can take care of it. The insurgency melts away and you have a few criminal gangs. There’s a lot of authority in Iraq: the tribal leaders have great authority and the religious leaders have great authority. So, if you give them a stake by giving Iraq back to the Iraqis and the oil back and they can see the economic development and then they see the alternative of total disintegration and chaos, which one are they going to take? But as long as we’re there, we’re going to be pitting one against another because we’ll be preferring one group at a certain time in one province against the other and then you get the revenge killing and there’s a lot of hundred dollar bills passed out. That’s what happens when you have a foreign intrusion into a country that has a difference in… if some [military power] did this to us and they preferred Protestants to Catholics, let’s say, and the Catholics had been on top under Saddam – you know, the Sunnis – there’d be incredible back-and-forth struggle, bloodshed, fighting.

But we need to continue humanitarian aid, which would be a lot cheaper than spending $14 million an hour, which is what we’re spending to further destroy Iraq. And UN sponsored elections. These elections two, three years ago were garrisoned elections, they were clan elections, people voted for clans. A lot of people who wanted to run were disqualified because they had protested or weren’t considered safe enough ideologically.

MP: You’ve had a long history of being opposed to corporate welfare, you’ve been opposed to the bailout, but how would a Nader administration address this issue in the short term – immediately – and in the long term? RN: By quarantining the real speculative people and Wall Street, let them take their medicine, and then build a firewall to protect from the fallout of the Wall Street swindles and speculation…. And then throw the money into public works to create jobs and retard the recession. That’s the best use of the money because that’s real, you know, it’s not just paper speculation; repairing schools and drinking water systems.

MP: Specifically, what jobs would you create?

RN: All jobs to repair [infrastructure, such as] construction crews. And what it does, it invigorates the local economy because you have activities. You have everything from accountants to people who are quality control inspectors and engineers and construction workers and people who work on repairs and people who supply the people who work on repairs. It’s got a high multiplier effect.

And of course, criminal prosecution and regulation and making the speculators pay for their own bailout through a … transaction tax of one tenth of one percent.

MP: There’s obviously a huge health care crisis, as you chronicled in your speech. How would you move from the privatized insurance system that we have today to a single payer, not-for-profit health care system in a potential Nader administration?

RN: Okay, similarly to what Medicare was in 1964, ’65, it replaced health insurance companies. It basically said, the government is going to supply insurance to elderly people and is going to give them free choice of doctor and hospital, private delivery of health care, and you’re not going to be able to sell insurance to elderly people. And what happened is incomplete so there’s a Medicare gap and the insurance companies filled the gap that Medicare didn’t cover.

But basically, it’s simply full government insurance, free choice of doctor and hospital. Now, all of the countries in the world that have had universal health insurance implemented do not allow private health insurance companies. Why? Because it’s a perverse incentive. They make money by denying claims, by exclusions, deductions, copayments.

Now, there’s going to be an unemployment problem, and HR676 – which is the single payer bill in Congress that has 93 House representative supporters – is addressing that. [In doing this] you’re going to unemploy a few million people that work for Aetna, Signa and so forth. On the other hand, you’re going to save a lot of lives.

NL: In your speech and on your website you’ve praised the work of peace organizations within both Israel and Palestine, so in a Nader administration would you actually engage diplomatically with peace organizations within Israel and Palestine?

RN: Of course. They represent former mayors, mayors, members of the Knesset, former generals, former security chiefs – very, very broad. Look, Obama and McCain don’t want to recognize Hamas, they say it’s a terrorist organization; it’s a resistance organization. … So, 64 percent of the Israeli people, on March 1, Ha’aretz poll, want direct negotiations with Hamas, that’s the way the question was phrased. So, Obama and McCain don’t even want to go with 64 percent; and 28 percent of the Israeli people do not want it.* So, that’s how bad it is.

Of course you negotiate with the peace groups and you’ll see a much bigger coming out of peace groups and peace supporters if the U.S. was behind them. It’s like in this country or any country, the militarists intimidate the peace groups if they’ve got hold of the power. But if the U.S., which has great leverage over Israel, and huge foreign aid to Israel, comes out, you’d see more people in the Knesset, for example, you’d see more retired military coming out to say it: this is the way to go, two-state solution, let’s get over it, back to the ’67 borders. The Arab League in 2002 put on Israel’s table full diplomatic and economic relations, if Israel would allow the Palestinians to go back to their ’67 borders under a viable, independent Palestinian state. You can’t have a better deal than that and the Israeli military government didn’t respond, did not even say let’s talk about it. So, the onus is on who? The onus is on the occupier and the occupier that resists peace talks.

* The poll asked participants “Should direct negotiations be carried on with Hamas for a cease fire deal and the release of soldier Gilad Shalit?” Gilad Shalit was captured in a cross border raid into Israel in June 2006 and has been held hostage by Hamas since that time.


Bucky

Fuller wanted a tool that would be accessible to everyone, whose findings would be widely disseminated to the masses through a free press, and which would, through this ground-swell of public vetting and acceptance of solutions to society's problems, ultimately force the political process to move in the direction that the values, imagination and problem solving skills of those playing the democratically open world game dictated. It was a view of the political process that some might think naiie, if they only saw the world for what it was when Fuller was proposing his idea (the 1960s)--minus personal computers and the Internet. The playing field was not to be so much as leveled, or expanded, but the good 'ol boy political process was to subverted out of existence by a process that brings Thomas Jefferson into the twentieth century. In order to have this kind of power, the game needed to have the kind of information and tools for manipulating that information that empowers. It needed a comprehensive database that would provide the players of the world game with better data than their politically elected or appointed counterparts. They needed an inventory of the world's vital statistics--where everything was and in what quantities and qualities, from minerals to manufactured goods and services, to humans and their unmet needs as well as capabilities. They also needed an information source that monitored the current state of the world, bringing vital news into the “game room” live. None of this existed when Fuller began talking about a world game. And then something funny happened on the way to the twenty-first century:

THIS IS A PERFECT MOMENT, by Rob Brezsny

This is a perfect moment. It's a perfect moment for many reasons, but especially because you and I are waking up from our sleepwalking, thumb-sucking, dumb-clucking collusion with the masters of illusion and destruction. Thanks to them, from whom the painful blessings flow, we are waking up. Their wars and tortures, their crimes against nature, extinctions of species and brand new diseases. Their spying and lying in the name of the father, sterilizing seeds and trademarking water. Molestations of God, celebrations of shame, stealing our dreams and changing our names. Their cunning commercials and blood-sucking hustles, their endless rehearsals for the end of the world. Thanks to them, from whom the awful teachings flow, we are waking up. * Their painful blessings are cracking open more and more gashes in the shrunken and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." And through the fractures, ripe eternity is flooding in; news of the soul's true home is pouring in; our allies from the other side of the veil are swarming in, inspiring us to become smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier. We are waking up. As heaven and earth come together, as the dreamtime and daytime merge, we register the shockingly exhilarating fact that we are in charge of creating a brand new world. Not in some distant time or faraway place, but right here and right now. * As we stand on this brink, as we dance on this verge, we can't let the ruling fools of the dying world sustain their curses. We have to rise up and fight their insane logic; defy, resist, and prevent their tragic magic; erupt with our sacred rage and supercharge it. But overthrowing the living dead is not enough. Protesting the well-dressed monsters is not enough. We can't afford to be consumed with our anger; we can't be obsessed and possessed by their danger. Our mysterious bodies crave delight and fertility. Our boisterous imaginations demand fresh tastes of infinity. In the new world we're gestating, we need to be suffused with lusty compassion and ecstatic duty, ingenious love and insurrectionary beauty. We've got to be teeming with radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks. * So I'm curious, my fellow creators. Since you and I are in charge of making a new world -- not just breaking down the old world -- where do we begin? What stories do we want at the heart of our experiments? What questions will be our oracles? Here's what I say: In the New World we're creating, We will ridicule the cult of doom and gloom. We will embrace the cause of zoom and boom. We will laugh at the stupidity of evil and hate; we'll summon the brilliance to praise and create. No matter how upside-down it all may appear, we will have no fear because we know this big secret: Pronoia is real. All of creation is conspiring to shower us with blessings. Life is crazily in love with us -- brazenly and innocently in love with us. The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. * The winds and the tides are on our side, forever and ever, amen. The fire and the rain are scheming to steal our impossible pain. The sun and the moon and the stars remember our real names, and our ancestors pray for us while we're dreaming. We have guardian angels and thousands of teachers, provocateurs with designs to unleash us, helpers and saviors we can't even imagine, brothers and sisters who want us to blossom. Thanks to them, from whom the blissful blessings flow, we are waking up. The roads they pave us, the places they save us, the tomatoes they grow us, the rivers they flow us. Their mysterious stories, and morning glories, their loaves and fishes, granting our wishes. The songs they sing us, the gifts they bring us, the secrets they show us, above and below us. Thanks to them, from whom the blissful blessings flow, we are waking up. * Postscript: I'm allergic to dogma. I thrive on the riddles. Any idea I believe, I reserve the right to disbelieve as well. But more than any other vision I've ever tested, pronoia describes the way the world actually is. It's wetter than water, stronger than death, and truer than the news. It smells like cedar smoke in the autumn rain, and if you close your eyes right now, you can feel it shimmering like the aurora borealis in your organs and muscles. Its song is your blood's song. Some people argue that life is strife and suffering is normal. Others swear we're born sinful and only heaven can provide us with the peace that passes understanding. But pronoia says that being alive on the rough green and brown earth is the highest honor and privilege. It's an invitation to work wonders and perform miracles that aren't possible in any nirvana, promised land, or afterlife. I'm not exaggerating or indulging in poetic metaphor when I tell you that we are already living in paradise. Visualize it if you dare. The sweet stuff that quenches all of our longing is not far away in some other time and place. It's right here and right now. Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew the truth: "Earth's crammed with heaven."

Meditation for Life: The Spirit of Grieving, by Adam Elenbaas

In a recent scientific study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles, researchers examined the neurological processes surrounding short and long term grieving. The results, although partially speculative, provide an excellent backdrop for a conversation regarding meditation and its age old role in coping with sadness, depression and personal loss.

The study at UCLA examined 23 women who had lost a loved one within five years, eleven of whom still suffered from what psychologists call "CG" or "complicated grief": prolonged grieving resulting in depression, stress, fatigue, and lowered immune efficiency. While monitoring brain activity, researchers showed each woman pictures of her deceased loved one or words and phrases strongly associated with her deceased loved one. The results, as expected, showed that each woman in the study had social pain and grieving effects related to the images and words. But the interesting result was the commonality that all of the "complicated grievers" showed during the brain monitoring.

Each of the complicated grievers demonstrated high reward, pleasure, and addiction activity responses in the brain, in addition to the social grieving response. This finding suggests that brain interference could be responsible for "complicated grieving," and its fallout symptoms: fatigue, depression, stress, lowered immune efficiency and an inability to let go of the past. Some puzzling results, right?

Well, science is a funny thing. After all, it was the human mind that created the scientific method and rationalism, not the scientific method that created the rational mind. In other words, it's important to remember that human experience, in its full palette, inspired this kind of study in the first place. Therefore, interpreting the results of scientific data in a healthy conversation is the fertile ground where we might determine which seeds of cultural evolution are worth planting next. So what might this study imply about depression and how might it relate to meditation?

Let's make a few assumptions. Let's assume that being healthy and strong and "selfcentered" means that you are independently happy. In other words, you have established a healthy balance between the outside world (food, shelter, nature, clothing, jobs, people) and your inside world (emotions, thoughts, words, and actions). Now let's assume that people are thrown out of balance when they place too much emphasis on their internal world or the external world to create that sense of harmony and well being. In the case of the UCLA study, how would these assumptions about health filter out?

Let's say that your internal world feels terrible. You don't like who you are. You don't like your emotions, or they are too much to handle. Your mind moves too fast. You don't enjoy life. And you're always questioning what you say or why you said it. The immediate answer is often to look for another human or something outside to fix what is going on inside. It's not a terrible impulse. Sometimes it works. Sometimes when I'm feeling sad inside I will call a friend for a reminder that I am strong and special. Then something inside of me clicks over and I say, "Oh yeah, that's right. I am doing just fine." And in most of my friendships there is an equal balance of giving and taking from one another. We call each other for help about the same amount, or else we would start resenting each other.

But sometimes we get into relationships that are based around a constant and habitual need for something that we simply do not know how to do inside yet. It's as if we each have a muscle inside of us that must learn, as we grow up, to lift ourselves up when we need help and happiness. When this muscle has atrophied (because our parents didn't do a good job or because we got into a bad habit, or you believe in Karma, or sin, etc,) we often look for all of our strength in someone else, a relationship of some kind. It's human to need love, right?

On the surface this kind of relationship might seem perfectly normal. It might seem like love. When I'm weak my partner makes me strong and when my partner is weak I make them strong. However this isn't how it works. Instead it usually works like this: When I am weak my partner is strong, and when I am strong my partner is weak.

This unhealthy relationship looks like a seesaw. One person is always out of balance because of the other. This is not intimacy. Instead it is a constant and competitive swing between high and low that is most commonly associated with extreme behavioral disorders and addiction. Whereas the image of intimacy is more like a yoke of oxen. Life can be difficult and challenging. So it's important that if we're carrying a load, the ox on the left and the ox on the right have an equal amount of weight distributed between them. This means that each person has the same amount of internal muscle strength.

We often wonder why the divorce rate in our country is so high. Maybe it's because many relationships are unhealthy "seesaw" addictions instead of compatible teammates walking with equal weight distribution? And maybe when we see folks grieving for excessively long periods of time after losing a loved one it is because their relationship to that person was more like the see-saw addiction than a balanced relationship? In the wake of losing such a relationship a person might have to go through a prolonged period of sadness, just like a drug withdrawal.

How miserable would it be to withdraw from a person instead of appropriately mourning their passing? How confusing and painful. But it happens all of the time. So here's where meditation comes in. Because the obvious question to ask is, "How can we avoid these imbalanced relationships or how can we heal ourselves if we're coming out of an imbalanced relationship?"

I'm a meditation teacher, and I practice daily so perhaps I'm partial. But meditation is a way to develop the internal muscle that is needed to lift yourself off the mat when you feel like life is beating you up. Meditation has been proven to be of great help to people fighting or coping with behavioral disorders: people in AA or drug rehab, schizophrenics, terminally ill medical patients, and many others. By mediating and getting quiet inside we learn how to find happiness within ourselves, and we learn how to develop that internal muscle of self-love. As a healing technology, meditation is great for rehabilitating our wounds and could be a natural way for a person coping with prolonged grief to start reprogramming their mind and body to something new.

On the flip side, meditation is like preventative health care because strengthening that muscle makes it difficult to get into a co-dependent relationship in the first place (although the club might not be a fun place to meet people any longer, and you might become pickier about who you're thinking of spending your time with).

In closing it is interesting to think that since the dawn of time the indigenous peoples of our planet had ways of mending unhealthy relationships after death. In both the Hindu and Christian traditions, for example, early tribes and families had ritual times of mourning and releasing sadness. Beyond this it was thought of as inappropriate to mourn because it would tamper with the deceased soul's ability to travel forward beyond the earth. In fact, some cultures believed that excessive grieving trapped spirits on the earth and made them angry, causing a tribe to be haunted or cursed. In these situations special medicine men or religious authorities would sing songs and create additional healing rituals in order to detach a soul from the griever. Sometimes people would be sent into wilderness vision quest ceremonies to meditate for weeks and weeks in order to heal their minds and say a proper goodbye before they were allowed back into the community.

Is it so different today?


A Visit with former Chiapas Bishop Samuel Ruiz

By Charles Hardy September 25, 2003 QUERE’TARO, ME’XICO; SEPTEMBER 2003: I heard my friend say over the telephone, “Tatik, Charlie just arrived on the bus. When would be the best time for us to visit you?” A few hours later at 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, we rang the doorbell of his home and were greeted personally by Tatik. Tatik (meaning “father” or “elder”) is an affectionate Tzotzil title for Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the retired bishop of Chiapas, Mexico who now lives in the city of Quere’taro. Ruiz was appointed bishop of Chiapas in 1959 at the age of 35. Soon after arriving there, he became aware of the problem of the indigenous people and started defending them. In 1993, Rome asked that he resign from his position, but dropped the request when a few thousand indigenous marched in support of him. Having reached the mandatory age for retirement (75) and after serving in Chiapas for more than forty years, he resigned in March 2000. The purpose of my visit was an interview. I was a bit hesitant because I had read a 1998 article by Sergio Munoz in the Los Angeles Times. Munoz wrote about the bishop: “He cannot be called easy-going: He favors impassioned monologues and hates to be interrupted.” Maybe the five years since that interview have mellowed him or possibly it had something to do with the interviewer, but during the two hours we spent drinking coffee and sharing cookies at his dining room table I was visiting with a man far different from the one described by Munoz. At 79, Ruiz was not only friendly, but also intellectually sharp and willing to listen as well as to talk. Since I live in Venezuela, the events of the past several years there have been the focus of my attention. They have also overshadowed for me what has happened outside of Venezuela, including that of the Zapatista movement in Mexico. What little I knew of them, I had gained from international press reports. Following are two examples of that reporting cited in a recent Narco News report by Annalena Oeffner. On August 8, an Associated Press story claimed that “most Indian people even in the Zapatistas’ jungle heartland have declined to join the movement...” Another report in the Financial Times August 10 said that the absence of Subcomandante Marcos at the August 8-10 meeting in Oventic was seen as “a sign of his declining power within the Zapatista hierarchy.” Based on this type of reporting, I was looking for the bishop’s response to two principal questions: 1) Was the support of the Zapatistas declining? and, 2) Was the leadership of Subcommandante Marcos being replaced? By the end of the interview I would discover that both of my questions were very poorly worded. First, the bishop was quick to point out that the Zapatistas did not represent only people in Chiapas but were an expression of what was being felt throughout all of Mexico. He then painted the political scene that gave rise to the Zapatista movement. Ruiz said that there had been a nationwide rejection of the political maneuvering leading up to the elections that took place in July 1994, keeping the PRI party in power at that time. When the Zapatistas appeared on the scene, the dialog that followed showed clearly that their problems were felt throughout the country. According to Ruiz, the government tried to disparage the project in four steps. First they questioned why an indigenous group should feel that they represented the whole country. Nobody had elected the Zapatistas to represent them. Secondly, they said that they didn’t even represent the indigenous poor of the country. Thirdly, that they didn’t even represent the indigenous of Chiapas, not even the people in the municipalities where they came from. And finally, the government reached the extreme of denying them even the legitimacy that they had had with the previous government saying that the movement was just the result of some “guy” (Marcos) who infiltrated Chiapas and who wears a mask and smokes a pipe, thereby denying the indigenous any ownership of the movement. Because of the government’s version, the bishop said, “It must be said clearly that it is a movement centered in Chiapas but that has national origins.” And yet, he added, the mass media continue to spread the idea that the problem of the Zapatistas is only the problem of Chiapas. He also said that when President Fox assumed the “throne” of Mexico, he indicated that the problem of the Zapatistas was the problem of the previous government. But the Zapatistas replied, according to Bishop Ruiz, “No, no, no, Se~or. You have a problem with us and we have a problem with you because you are sitting in the same seat as previous governments. You can’t say that the foreign debt belongs to the previous government. Equally we have a problem with you and you have a problem with us. The difference is that we want to resolve the problem through dialog and not through force.” He emphasized that the problem of the indigenous was not just a Mexican problem but was present throughout the continent. The indigenous person is still being colonized. With few exceptions, “from Alaska in the United States to the Patagonia [in Argentina], the indigenous is on the floor under the rest of society. This would indicate that it is not by their own will that this is so but that the system itself places them on the margin of society.” But, because of the attempt to celebrate the 500 years of the conquest of America, the indigenous have risen up and now say that they want to be the subjects of their own destiny. Besides, he added, 500 years is nothing in comparison with their history. He also noted that what was happening in Cancu’n (the World Trade Organization was meeting the day I visited him) showed that even the rest of the world is recognizing that there are problems with the system. He said that “not only is a new world possible, but it is urgent and necessary.” My first question, in some ways therefore, had little meaning for him since he refused to focus the question on the Zapatistas. What was happening with them was only a small part of the consciousness that was rising throughout the Americas and throughout the world. Proceeding to my second question I said that I had read in Venezuela that Subcomandante Marcos was turning over his power to others. Once again, my question was off base. The bishop was quick to reply, “That’s a bad interpretation of the situation. He never was in power. The press has tried to say that he is the movement.” He then pointed out that Marcos is not indigenous himself and is only a “subcomandante.” He has a definite role in the security of the people, but a technical dimension. He never participated in the dialogs although he was present at the first because he was invited the night before so that he could communicate with the press what happened. He spoke better Spanish than the rest who were present. Referring to the absence of Marcos at the Oventic meeting in August, the bishop said that what is happening is something of a self-criticism to clarify to the world that Marcos is not the movement. When I asked him to explain what the Zapatistas meant by the terminology “govern by obeying” (mandar obedeciendo), he replied: “There’s nothing to explain. Any authority should obey his people. He is not to order but to ask, ‘What is it that the community wants?’ He shouldn’t look out for his own interests but ask what are the interests that will serve the community.” I then shared with him a story. I was told that in Venezuela there is a group of indigenous people where the leader (li’der is the word I used) is “he who listens.” The bishop took exception to the word lider saying that it was a word from North America. Recognizing that similar words exist in Spanish, he nevertheless preferred to talk in terms of “processes” in reference to Latin America. When there are leaders the problem is, he said, “take the leader away and the process comes to an end.” I also asked him his opinion about “participative democracy” in distinction to “representative democracy.” The term is used often in the 1999 Constitution of Venezuela. This he also placed in a worldwide context, saying that the war in Iraq had clearly shown that there was a “divorce” between the people and their elected representatives in the United States, England, Spain and even in Mexico. They had been chosen by their political parties, received their power through elections but afterwards were seeking their own interests. There were no demonstrations anywhere in the world in favor of these leaders, he noted. He said that it was now clear that it would not be the political parties that would guide the future of the world, but rather organizations not directly connected to the government. Concluding the conversation about the Zapatistas, I had some questions for the bishop about the situation of the Catholic Church in the world today. One was whether or not the Theology of Liberation still existed. He replied: “Is there a theology of slavery?” For Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the only theology worth its name is that which liberates. Following the interview I wanted to get another perspective on the Zapatista movement. I am no expert on the subject and, although I have visited Mexico several times, I have never been in Chiapas. A friend shared a book with me entitled, Marcos, La Genial Impostura (“Marcos, the Inspired Fraud”). The book was published in 1998 and written by two authors. One was a male French correspondent for Le Monde who arrived in Mexico in 1993, Bertrand de la Grange, and the other was a female correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Pais since 1994, Maite Rico. The book presented a picture almost totally contrary to that which Bishop Ruiz had painted. In its 472 pages I was told the following: 1) There was nothing particularly unusual about the elections in 1994; 2) There was little support for the Zapatistas in Chiapas or elsewhere in Mexico; 3) Marcos was the leader of their every action - the indigenous had a small role to play; 4) Bishop Ruiz was at times so aligned with the Zapatistas that the Mexican secret services thought, for a while, that he was Comandante Aleman; and, 5) The Zapatistas had accomplished little for the people they supposedly represented. The book is full of interesting interviews and information. It is also a one-sided presentation that seems to represent the government position that Ruiz had described. A few sentences on page 282, however, especially impressed me. The authors knew what Ruiz was feeling and thinking on October 26, 1993 when he received the request from the Apostolic Delegate, Girolamo Prigione, asking him to resign. “He took the blow, but he felt dizzy. He was convinced, and he was right, that it was a settling of political accounts. He knew that the contents of the letter which he had sent to the Pope three months before, during his visit to Mexico, had irritated the government.” (The letter spoke about the political situation in Mexico and the oppression of the indigenous). I am always amazed at foreign reporters who are not only able to do interviews and gather information, but who are able to reach so far into the depths of any situation that they even know what people are thinking and feeling. Reading the book, I felt I was reading about Venezuela and not about Mexico. We, too, have been plagued with foreign correspondents and local reporters who sometimes make a foray into the barrios and emerge with a better knowledge of what is happening in them than those who have lived there for decades. Whose story about the Zapatistas is correct? That of Tatik? Or, that of the government and these reporters? I am in no position to say and in a few days I will return to Venezuela where I have lived for most of the past eighteen years. But I do worry about something: is it possible that Bertrand de la Grange and Maite Rico are now in Venezuela meeting with opposition leaders and preparing another book? I can see the title already, possibly chosen before going there: Cha’vez, Otra Genial Impostura (“Cha’vez, Another Inspired Fraud”). Charles Hardy, a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, has resided in Venezuela for most of the past eighteen years. As a Catholic missionary priest, he lived in a pressed-cardboard and tin dwelling in a barrio of Caracas from 1985 to 1993. He is a professor of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism (first and second sessions of 2003). His editorial columns appear frequently in www.vheadline.com and can be found in English and Spanish at www.cowboyincaracas.com. Comments may be addressed to him at Charlie@cowboyincaracas.com

Nader & Gonzalez in Debates in Battleground States

Ralph Nader will appear tomorrow (Thursday October 30, 2008, 4:30 to 5:30 EST) in a Third Party debate at the City Club of Cleveland. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin will participate in the debate. The three other electorally viable Presidential candidates have been invited. Then on Sunday November 2, 2008, Matt Gonzalez will appear in three-way a vice-presidential debate in Las Vegas with the Constitution and Libertarian VP candidates.That debate is being sponsored by Free & Equal. (By the way, in case you haven't seen it yet, check out Matt's most recent expose of the Obama-led corporate and militarist Democrats. We predict Obama will not address any of these issues head on tonight in his 30 minute, five network infomercial.) C-Span will tape the City Club of Cleveland debate and show it sometime this weekend. And the City Club will live stream the event on their website. So, tell your friends and family to watch tomorrow afternoon. Onward to November. The Nader Team

Pickens’ natural gas plan makes no sense and will never happen

[Climate Progress has covered the Pickens Plan many times since Memo to T. Boone Pickens: Your energy plan is half-brilliant, half-dumb. Here Earl Killian makes a strong analytical case that the “half-dumb” part of the plan is in fact a wasteful, wildly impractical — if not outright absurd — distraction.]

Thomas Boone Pickens is a billionaire who made his money in oil and corporate takeovers. He began investing in natural gas in 1997, and in wind power in 2007. In 2008, he went public with the Pickens Plan via a website and a well funded advertising campaign. Here we analyze the Pickens Plan, as presented here, which begins by correctly observing:

America is addicted to foreign oil. It’s an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security.

The Pickens Plan as presented consists of two parts:

  1. Take the natural gas that we currently use to generate electricity in the U.S., and use it to fuel transportation instead, and
  2. Build wind power to produce the electricity lost in step 1.

The Plan As Presented — CNG vs. Electricity

The plan is not spelled out in detail, and already appears that it is being interpreted or misinterpreted to be whatever listeners want it to be. Let us for the moment accept this plan as presented, and look at what it means.

The Department of Energy (DOE)’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) publication Electric Power Annual 2006 has most of the information needed. Table ES1 has the power generated from Natural Gas (NG) as 813 Tera Watt hours (TWh, or million Megawatt hours). It gives the NG consumed as fuel for that as 6,869,624 million cubic feet (ft3). From these two numbers and the energy content of NG (its Lower Heating Value, or LHV) of 301 Wh/ft3, we can calculate the efficiency of generation as 39%. New Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) plants are up to 60% efficient in comparison, e.g. the GE H-System turbines and the Siemens Gas Turbine SGT5-8000H, but there are many older non-Combined-Cycle plants out there.

So Mr. Pickens proposes to divert 6,869,624 million ft3 of NG (about 20% of NG usage in the US) from generating electricity, and use it for transportation. In place of those NG power plants, Mr. Pickens proposes that we build wind turbines sufficient to generate at least 813 TWh/year. I say at least that much wind, because it is difficult for wind to substitute for NG electricity. NG power plants are often used to fill in gaps between supply and demand on the grid. Such “peakers” must quickly turn on and generate power whenever there is a mismatch. Wind on the other hand generates based upon weather, not the directives of grid engineers. Mr. Pickens does not spell out on his webpage how this mismatch is to be rectified. Nonetheless, let us proceed with a simple 813 TWh/year of wind.

We now compare how much of US passenger vehicle travel can be powered by 813 TWh of electricity and by 6,869,624 million ft3 of NG. To estimate the latter, go to http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm and click on first 2008, then Honda, then Civic CNG. You see 28 MPG, and the footnote

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is normally dispensed in “equivalent gallons” where one “equivalent gallon” is equals to 121.5 cubic feet of CNG. The fuel economy for natural gas vehicles is shown in miles per gallon-equivalent.

So dividing 28 by 121.5 you get 0.23 miles per ft3. So if you take the Table ES1 NG quantity, and multiply by 0.23 you get 1,588 trillion miles. That is 57% of the 2.76 trillion passenger vehicle miles traveled in the US in 2005. This is only for vehicles as small and aerodynamic as a Honda Civic; a smaller percentage of the US fleet could be powered by CNG. The rest would be presumably powered by gasoline under the Pickens Plan.

Now let’s estimate miles that could be powered by electricity. A Lithium-Ion EV the size of the Honda Civic CNG should require at most 250 Watt hours per mile (Wh/mi) at the garage plug, probably less. At the power plant that is 270 Wh/mi. So take the 813 TWh, divide by 270 Wh/mi, and you get 3.01 trillion miles, which is 109% of the 2.76 trillion miles driven in the US in 2005.

Which would you choose, 57% or 109%? It seems pretty straightforward that electric vehicles beat CNG vehicles almost 2:1, even using existing NG power plants. If the US upgraded its NG power plants to be 60% efficient, instead of 39% efficient, we would have 54% more TWh, or even better, use less 35% less NG.

Most importantly, while 813 TWh/year of wind energy would have a hard time substituting for 813 TWh/year of NG energy, because of intermittency. There are ways to address this, primarily by linking wind to hydro and solar, and building excess wind. However, intermittency would not be a problem for charging EVs. In a build-out of this scale, smart grid technology would be used to make sure that EVs wait to charge when wind power is producing beyond what the grid requires, and that they throttle back on charging when there is a lull in wind. This makes EVs an excellent consumer of wind energy. A vehicle driven 12,500 miles per year averages 34 miles per day of recharge, or 8,562 Wh at the plug. For a 208V, 32A circuit, this charge can be accomplished in just 1.2 hours. Since the vehicle is plugged in for approximately 9 hours a night, this represents flexibility to respond to wind conditions. If the wind fails to provide enough energy all night long, then either vehicles can remain undercharged (for PHEVs this just means using a little more gasoline), or for vehicles that require a full recharge for the next days usage, the NG “peakers” could be used at night to meet the demand (normally “peakers” are completely unused at night).

It seems particularly foolish to propose a massive infrastructure change to a fuel as inefficient as CNG. If we are to change technology, it is time to abandon Internal Combustion Engines, not change from one fossil fuel to another.

The Real Pickens Plan

Perhaps you noticed the really strange thing about the Pickens Plan. It calls for us to shut down all the NG power plants in the US. The investors in those plants would surely object. Politically, it would be necessary for the US to compensate them. In essence the US would have to buy the plants to shut them down. How likely is this? Moreover, how likely is the US to transition such a large fraction of its fleet to NG? If this part of the plan is unlikely, why is Mr. Pickens proposing it? What is the likely outcome of making this proposal?

What Mr. Pickens likely expects to happen from his proposal is: (1) get Congress to renew the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), and (2) convince a few additional Americans to use NG as a transportation fuel.

Renewal of the PTC is an urgent priority for the US, and Mr. Pickens plan could well succeed in unblocking Republican opposition to the PTC in Congress (the Senate has just done so on a 93-2 vote). The wind and solar industries in this country need a stable environment to receive private investment, but unfortunately Congress just barely manages to extend the PTC for a single year at a time, creating uncertainty for renewable energy investors, and slowing private investment here. As a wind investor, Mr. Pickens stands to benefit from a PTC extension. Thus half of the Pickens Plan is good for the Earth, for the US, and for Mr. Pickens.

The second half of the plan is to increase demand for NG by convincing more Americans to use it as a transportation fuel. As discussed above, the US is unlikely to close any NG power plants, so this has the effect of increasing total demand for NG in North America, and thus increasing the price. As an investor in NG, Mr. Pickens stands to profit from any increase in NG demand and price. This half of the plan is good for Mr. Pickens, but bad for the Earth and the US.

Climate progress readers already know that electric transportation is the answer to the multitude of problems facing the US and the world, including Peak Oil, Global Warming, national security, and economic security. The Pickens Plan is a diversion from electric transportation that wastes time.

–Earl K.

* More -Is T. Boone Pickens Selling Off Some Wind Turbines?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ralph Nader draws standing-room crowd at Watertown Free Public Library

WATERTOWN -

Perennial presidential petitioner Ralph Nader drew a standing-room-only crowd Saturday at the Watertown Free Public Library, one of 21 towns and cities on his “whistle stop” stump-speech marathon through Massachusetts. (Note: there were not, in fact, any trains or whistles involved.)

More than 70 people attended the event, from both Watertown as well as surrounding communities. One attendee was from Calgary, Alberta; another was from New York. Nader’s brief — about 10 minutes — speech drew frequent rounds of enthusiastic applause and shouts of support from the crowd, who listened with apparent interest and focus on what Nader had to say.

Surprisingly composed and certainly not out of breath, Nader (whose running mate, Matt Gonzales, was not in attendance) faltered only once during the Watertown event, stumbling over his remarks stressing the need for a stronger three-party ballot. Though Watertown was only the mid-point of the campaign schedule, fatigue certainly was a factor, as he had started at 8:20 a.m. in Westfield. His staff reports he did not conclude until after 11 p.m. in Sheffield.

Nader is running as an independent. He is the nominee of various parties in different states, including the Peace and Freedom Party in California and the Ecology Party in Florida.

His message was two-fold. First, his campaign is trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most campaign visits in one state in one day.

His staff said he did it; no word yet from the folks at Guinness.

Second, he spoke ardently about the need to increase grassroots involvement, particularly among voters who are “often overlooked in the political process because the candidates considered slam-dunks visit only those states and cities [where they feel a greater need to promote their own self-interests],” he said.

Nader focused on the need for a stronger “watchdog effort” to enforce greater accountability in Washington, as well as the need for government to more closely represent not themselves, but all citizens. His statement advocating “sovereignty of the people over the power of the corporations” came across loud and clear throughout Nader’s remarks.

Then, it was off to a stop in Newton, with 10 more to follow. Only portions of northwestern Massachusetts and the Cape were not part of the day’s itinerary.

Campaign staffer Rob Socket said the entire team was “blown away” by the attendance at each stop, citing crowds of 50-200 people at each stop.

Nader is on the ballot in 45 states for the 2008 election. This year marks his fourth run for president. He had previously run in 1996, 2000 and 2004.


Smackdown for Mister "More and Better Dems" himself....KOS

[Thanks to ghettodefender for this link] Markos: Kucinich speaks for us. Does he speak for you?

Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 10:51:41 AM PDT

There Markos goes again. Insulting and hating on Kucinich:

Here's what too many people still don't understand -- there's nothing loony about the netroots. This isn't fertile territory for the McKinneys and Kuciniches of our party.

Markos, are you trying to say that this blog is not fertile territory for:

- Holding our elected representatives responsible for their actions, up to and including impeachment where warranted by law? - Abolition of nuclear weapons - Doing not just something, but enough, to actually stop global warming based on a Global Green New Deal - Labeling genetically modified food

(more on the flip)

Hopefully, most folks read Dennis' detailed policy proposals while he was running for President. They were far more progressive than the other candidates', including Obama, Edwards, and Clinton.

Many of Kunicich's positions are much better than Obama's. Unlike Obama, Kucinich is not a sycophant for the nuclear power industry, and has never embraced the lunacy of "Clean Coal" like Obama has.

Dennis was the only candidate who has called for the full repeal of NAFTA, which has devastated communities on both sides of the border.

Dennis was the only candidate who has demanded we hold our elected officials accountable for their lawbreaking actions.

Dennis was the only candidate who had a plan to stop global warming, not just "do something" without doing enough.

(Obama's current plan is totally inadequate - the emission cuts are not enough; under the Obama plan, our coastlines will be flooded, unfortunately. Let's hope he drastically overhauls the plan when he's elected.)

Markos: why do you hate Dennis Kucinich?

We didn't rally around Webb, Tester, Schweitzer, Trauner, Brown, Massa, Burner and so many other moderate Democrats because they were little Kucinich clones,

"Little Kucinich clones"? Markos, don't you want to leave the ad hominem attacks to the Republicans?

Oh and how about this gem:

We are not the elites, we are America, and we're situated squarely in its ideological center.

Speak only for yourself, Markos. You might be America, like Stephen Colbert. I however - and I suspect, many likely - am a human being, whose ideology is not left, right, or center. My ideology is forward. I am a progressive. I believe in stopping climate change - really stopping it, not just pretending to - exiting from ruinous trade agreements, abolishing nuclear weapons, and holding elected officials accountable when they break the law.

I don't frankly give a shit what you or America or the media or the elite or the press thinks about any of these positions, ones that I believe in with every fiber of my being - and ones that are supported by scant few politicians, Dennis Kucinich being one. What matters to me is not whether these positions are popular, but that they are right.

I thought Markos was motivated by what's right not what's popular.

At one time, slavery was popular.

At one time, Jim Crow was popular.

At one time, the Iraq war was popular.

At one time, George W. Bush was popular.

We need politicians who will not simply advance positions that are supported by "America" and "The Center."

We need politicians who will stand up and tell the truth and propose policies that are right. And eventually, the people will support those policies.

That's what it means to be a progressive. And if Daily Kos is not fertile territory for that kind of politician, I hope someone will start a truly progressive blog.

. . .

Seems I've turned into a one-man "Kos hating on Kucinich" watchdog. Some of my past entries:

Markos: Support Kucinich's Bush impeachment. Stop your hate.

Hey Kos: Want a better health care plan?

Kos on Kucinich: Ugh or Hoorah?

The Truth about Kos and Kucinich

Update 1: Some commenters say I have "disparaged" and "taken a dump" on Obama. I did no such thing. My comments above are legitimate and appropriate criticisms of Obama's policy positions. If we actually want to accomplish key progressive goals - like stopping Global Warming - we will have to pressure Obama to take much better positions on energy and the environment once he's in office. We will have a small handful of elected officials who will apply that pressure - Kucinich is one. My criticism of Obama was meant to highlight that even this blog's current standard bearer politician, the democratic nominee for President, is not taking good enough positions... so is this blog going to be "fertile territory" for Kucinich and his ideas, or not? Without those ideas, how will we stop the seas from rising?


Led Zeppelin to tour without Robert Plant?

Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones participated in a Q&A over the weekend at the Manson’s Guitar Show in Devon, England, in which he said he expects a reunited Led Zeppelin to tour…without singer Robert Plant.

Plant has been touring with Alison Krauss and pouring cold water on imminent Zep reunion prospects, but Jones said that he, guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer Jason Bonham (son of the late original drummer John Bonham) are moving forward nonetheless.

The Web site eGigs quotes Jones as saying:

As you probably know, Jimmy, Jason and I are actually rehearsing and we've had the odd singer come in and have a bash….We really hope that something is going to happen soon because we really want to do it and we're having a lot of fun, actually, just rehearsing….We really wanna do something, and Robert doesn't want to do this, at least for the moment.

Ah, such intrigue…and many questions:

1. Should Led Zeppelin hire a tribute-band singer as Yes did to replace an ailing Jon Anderson?

2. Should Led Zeppelin hire Jon Anderson?

3. Is Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant?

4. Would you see this band regardless of the name and singer?

5. Do you think Jones and Page are just playing a game of chicken to pressure Plant to change his mind?

*

5 things you didn't know about Physical Graffiti...


Pantoum Of The Great Depression, by Donald Justice

Our lives avoided tragedy Simply by going on and on, Without end and with little apparent meaning. Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes. Simply by going on and on We managed. No need for the heroic. Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes. I don't remember all the particulars. We managed. No need for the heroic. There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows. I don't remember all the particulars. Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus. There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows Thank god no one said anything in verse. The neighbors were our only chorus, And if we suffered we kept quiet about it. At no time did anyone say anything in verse. It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us, And if we suffered we kept quiet about it. No audience would ever know our story. It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us. We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor. What audience would ever know our story? Beyond our windows shone the actual world. We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor. And time went by, drawn by slow horses. Somewhere beyond our windows shone the actual world. The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog. And time went by, drawn by slow horses. We did not ourselves know what the end was. The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog. We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues. But we did not ourselves know what the end was. People like us simply go on. We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues, But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy. And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

Kucinich: Timing of Attacks in Syria Questionable

Submitted by davidswanson on Tue, 2008-10-28 01:43. Status of Forces in Iraq? Bring them Home! WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 27, 2008) -- After learning of reports that four U.S. helicopters conducted an attack inside Syrian borders on Sunday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) denounced the attack and questioned its timing. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Sunday that four U.S. helicopters conducted an attack on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq in which eight people were killed. SANA reports stated that American helicopters raided the village of Sukariya, 340 miles northeast of Damascus, and then returned to Iraqi airspace. The Syrian government claims that of the eight people who died, four were children. "Saber rattling and attacks upon sovereign nations who did not attack us are unacceptable. We must question the timing. We are on the eve of national elections and we must be mindful of the Administration's past manipulation of security issues in order to influence public opinion," stated Kucinich. "We cannot stand by and let them use the lives of innocent people as pawns in their wrongful political objectives." The attacks in Syria come at a sensitive time as U.S. and Iraqi lawmakers are engaged in negotiations regarding the status of forces agreement, which would legitimize the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate governing the American presence. Kucinich opposed the war, offered a plan for withdrawal shortly after the US invasion, and opposes any agreement that would keep U.S. troops in Iraq. "The Iraq war has already cost the lives of 4,189 Americans, more than a million innocent Iraqis and three to five trillion in ultimate costs. The only acceptable status of American forces is for the troops to immediately return to their homes and families," stated Kucinich. "We must have an international peace-keeping and security force organized for the purposes of transitioning in to help secure Iraq as the U.S. leaves," he said, reciting one of the provisions of the Kucinich plan. "Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Syria, instead of expanding an expensive war, we should be focusing on resolving our own financial crises' back home, putting Americans back to work and rebuilding our nation's infrastructure," added Kucinich.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Voted for Ralph Nader today

And it really bugs me that one of the symptoms of taking an anti-depressant is thoughts of suicide... And it also bugs me that Ralph Nader or his campaign staff never answered my question to them...which was: What is an "official" link, besides the defunct AP link that there was ever a goole debate scheduled this campaign "season" and that Ralph was the only one to agree to show there... However..although Gloria La Riva spent her own time to care for storm victims this year, and Eugen Puryear wrote a kick ass article on Obama...I felt more of a connection with Ralph..and I met each of them during the same weekend at the Peace and Freedom Party..which is a rarity in itself..but Ralph's soul was felt when we connected eyes..and Gloria..well..without specifics she had two things that didn't appeal to me in the end...Ralph is elder..PSL began in 2004....I mean there could technically be one party for every platform statement in existence; Ralph has finally transcended Party affiliation this election time, and that is admirable to me. And he works for the common good in the majority of endeavors in his life. I appreciate his service to myself and the other humans...

Hungary's daunting debt mountain

Hungary has found itself at the sharp end of the global financial crisis, calling in the International Monetary Fund to support its struggling currency and economy after a 3% rise in interest rates last week failed to reassure the markets.

Gucci store in Budapest
Gucci's new store in Budapest may find the months ahead tough

Hungary's problems are twofold.

The government had recently been trying to cut back borrowing and spending, but after years of high spending it has failed to make deep enough cuts to reassure the international markets.

The other problem is that many Hungarians have been borrowing money in foreign currencies to buy their homes, cars or even to support their businesses.

Those borrowings in euros, Swiss francs and even Japanese yen had the advantage that they were at much lower interest rates than those in Hungarian forints, and when the forint was a stable currency they looked very attractive.

But now that the forint is falling sharply the cost of repaying those loans is rising massively.

Speculators have found Hungary to be very weak and vulnerable
Dr Zoltan Pogatsa

The high level of private and state borrowing combined has left Hungary vulnerable to the credit crunch. Now the IMF, the European Central Bank and other EU institutions are going to have to step in and support the Hungarian economy with multi-billion dollar loans, and the price they will demand is likely to mean harsh economic reforms and cuts in government spending.

Dr Zoltan Pogatsa, an economist at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, says that "this is a double-edged sword - it shows that the IMF and the ECB are behind Hungary and the forint, but also that Hungary needs their help".

Grim picture

For the average Hungarian this also means that tougher times are ahead.

Unemployment here is already high, civil service jobs have been cut and there has been a wage freeze for those that have kept their jobs.

Krisztina Sarkadi
Krisztina Sarkadi was advised a Swiss franc mortgage would be more secure

But many ordinary people with mortgages or other loans now face the prospect of much higher payments as the forint falls, or converting their foreign loans into local ones and therefore paying sky-high Hungarian interest rates.

Krisztina Sarkadi was advised to take out a mortgage in Swiss francs to help buy a new flat in Budapest.

The teacher and translator, who is a young mother, borrowed 5m forints (about £15,000), in Swiss francs.

"That's what they recommended because they said that's probably the most secure one," she says.

But last month alone the repayments jumped by more than 10%.

"I think it will get a bit worse, even. It's not killing us, but I know some of my friends are being pretty much killed by it," she says.

"I know a friend who took out a loan for all of her flat - so that's a 60m loan - and imagine if that goes up 10%? She's raising a child by herself, so it's really tough - I'm sure she's struggling."

Economic reforms will also mean painful restructuring and possibly higher taxes, and falling demand from abroad means that local factories in Hungary have already shut down for lack of orders.

As for Hungarian aspirations to join the euro - that is looking further away than ever.

Its borrowing is too high, it has failed to introduce the free market reforms that other Central and East European countries have forced through in recent years, and its spending on social security payments is looking increasingly unaffordable.

Dr Zoltan Pogatsa
Dr Zoltan Pogatsa Hungary's hopes of joining the euro are thin

It all adds up, says Dr Pogatsa, to a grim picture.

"Hungary is the weakest link in the new member states of the EU," he says.

"It doesn't meet any of the stability pact criteria, it has very high foreign debt, and the economic reforms that are necessary to bring Hungary into the eurozone have not gone through, which means that speculators have found Hungary to be very weak and vulnerable. "

However, Hungarians are keen to point out that they are not a second Iceland - most of their banks are foreign owned and well supported, and Hungary has not been speculating on foreign markets with borrowed money.

However, that will be cold comfort in the coming months, when the consequences of having to call in the IMF will be felt throughout the Hungarian economy.

Syria hits out at 'terrorist' US

Walid Muallem: We put the responsibility on the American government

Syria's foreign minister has accused the US of an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression" over what it says was a helicopter raid on its territory.

Walid Muallem said Sunday's attack saw four US aircraft travel eight miles inside Syrian airspace from Iraq and kill eight unarmed civilians on a farm.

He said those who died were a father and his three children, a farm guard and his wife, and a fisherman.

The US has not confirmed or denied the alleged raid.

However, a unnamed US official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that its forces had mounted a "successful" raid against foreign fighters threatening US forces in Iraq.

The US has previously accused Syria of allowing militants into Iraq, but Mr Muallem insisted his country was trying to tighten border controls.

'An opportunity'

Speaking at a news conference in London, Mr Muallem said the raid on the town of Abu Kamal was "not a mistake" and that he had urged the Iraqi government to investigate.

map

"We consider this criminal and terrorist aggression. We put the responsibility on the American government," he told reporters following talks with UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He added: "All of them [the victims] are civilians, Syrian, unarmed and they are on the Syrian territories.

"Killing civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression."

Asked if Syria would use force if a similar operation was mounted, he said: "As long as you are saying if, I tell you, if they do it again, we will defend our terrorities."

Referring to the US presidential election, he said: "We hope the coming administration will learn the mistakes of this administration."

Mr Muallem and Mr Miliband were scheduled to hold a joint press conference, but Mr Miliband withdrew. The UK government has declined to comment on the raid.

The US official quoted by AFP said: "Look when you've got an opportunity, an important one, you take it.

"That's what the American people would expect, particularly when it comes to foreign fighters going into Iraq, threatening our forces."


Dog risks life for kittens

[Thanks to http://akamat.wordpress.com for this link]



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saved by a Pendulum, by Maxi Cohen

High anxiety decision making, so blown out of your own mind or body that you cannot discern? Or maybe just wondering what's better for me: the red pill or the blue one, the steak or the lobster, the house in the mountains or the trip to Peru? Need help? Can't reach your shrink, psychic, best friend, and you really wanna know what's in your best interest without the filter of everyone else? Use a pendulum.

As the pace of life quickens, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with indecision and confronted by difficult choices. Could a hobby become a viable career? Is now a good time to sell those stock options? Is he the One? The answers to these questions often reside in our subconscious, waiting for a boosted confidence level to converge with opportunity.

I am a Libra. A double Libra. Ascending, descending. I don't know astrology; all I know is what it feels like to weigh the scales to the point of making all things equal. I can see the many facets of all choices, the positives and negatives, until I am in Buddhist state of equanimity. As valuable as this can be, I know what it feels like to fall into a frozen state of indecisiveness. The pendulum has saved me from the agony of decision-making by giving me a visceral demonstration of what's in my highest interest.

What's a pendulum?

Any weight hanging on a string, though you can get a beauty at the new age book store and there's a pendulum in my kits: THE ART OF THE PENDULUM or the POCKET PENDULUM available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and other stores.

My brother, the lawyer, admires that I have made commerce out of a flaw, but considers working with the pendulum a charade and if not, well then it's cheating. However, if you work with the pendulum, what you discover is rather amazing. In a store filled with remedies, I can run the pendulum over a hundred bottles and the pendulum will choose what I need. I don't even have to read the labels. How is it that the pendulum would say no to most everything, but to one or two solutions? When I realize what the pendulum has chosen, it is exactly what I need.

In fact, my medical doctor, the one who's published a book, uses the pendulum for diagnosis and to choose remedies for treatment, as does a celebrated naturopath I know.

When my brother had his lawyer buddies over and they stood around mocking me about the pendulum, one decided to try it and to his amazement it immediately responded to his questions in a way he knew to be totally accurate. The whole argument went from "objection" to "case dismissed."

How do you use a pendulum?

Easy enough. Center yourself. Focus. Hold the pendulum in front of you and ask it to show you which way is the direction of yes and see which direction it moves in. Then ask it which is the direction of no. Then get very quiet and ask your question. You have to ask it without any mental interference. I know it's a challenge and for some the hardest part. Just breathe, you can do it. It is as simple as asking for a cup of coffee. It is important that you don't get invested in the outcome. If this is the case, you should remember the answer may be clouded by your personal investment. If you are quiet, the pendulum will tell you what's in your highest interest.

Before you start, it's best to test your ability with things you know to be true. "My name is Sandra." Does it go in the direction of "yes" or "no?" Then ask "is my name Maxi," or whatever your name is. Say, "I live at so and so address" or "I am a woman." And see if you get consistently correct answers to those basic questions. If not take a break.

You can't ask prophetic questions like "Will I be happily married?" You can only ask questions about right now. Example, "Is it in my highest interest to marry Larry?" It's extremely important how you ask the question, because the subconscious mind listens very carefully. Word things specifically. The pendulum is a be-here-now kind of friend.

Sometimes, you may have the feeling that there are questions you should not ask. You can reconcile that by asking, "Do I have permission to ask this question now?"

Your questions have to be in the present, and be able to answered by "yes" or "no." You can not ask why of your pendulum. However, you can ask multiple-choice questions or determine the value of something. An easy way to do this is to use my kits.

Commercial break:

THE ART OF THE PENDULUM contains a pendulum, 12 beautiful art cards that enable multiple and easy uses with your pendulum and a booklet that explains how to use the pendulum in depth. The POCKET PENDULUM contains a pendulum, 4 cards, and a booklet. It's great for carrying with you. The cards are images that can be used on your altar for contemplation or to use with the pendulum to demonstrate your inner wisdom as well as answer issues one has about timing -- when to do something; relationships -- what is really going on; where is my idea originating from -- ego or divine guidance; or resolve a dilemma when you're faced with many choices.

How does the pendulum work?

We often have all the information we need inside of us, but we don't always have access to it. The pendulum demonstrates before our eyes what's in our subconscious mind and what's in our best interest. I have read the research and there are many theories, but no one knows for sure. Even Albert Einstein who used it could not explain why or how it worked.

Who uses it?

When King Solomon visited the Queen of Sheba, he used a pendulum to find water along the way. Cleopatra and her dowsers used it to find gold. The Peruvians, Chinese, Hindus, and various other cultures have used a form of dowsing to find things. The Vatican employed a monk in the Middle Ages to find treasures that were missing using a pendulum. Our armed forces used it in the Vietnam War to locate landmines. Other great examples can be traced to corporations looking for resources, Nobel Prize winners, bonafide medical doctors, naturopaths, and acupuncturists.

Proof

There are many times that I receive answers from the pendulum that are oppositional to what I'm thinking. When it comes to an important issue, I have wondered if I should listen to the pendulum or my mind. (Sometimes I check by using the Divining Guidance card in THE ART OF THE PENDULUM, which has two choices: God or Ego with the question Who's Speaking? I check where is this advice coming from.) Professionals who use the pendulum say always trust what it tells you. By listening to it or not, I have found that to be true. However, you have to use it with respect, meaning that you cannot ask the same questions over and over again.

My own experiments of proof

I was introduced to a potential film investor. On the phone we got along great and I thought, here's my next best friend. I asked the pendulum about working with her and it said no, which made little sense. A week later I asked again and got the same answer. I asked more questions: "Is she professional?" "Is she trustworthy?" and kept getting negative answers. A few months later the potential investor flew me to LA to meet, providing a great opportunity to test the accuracy of the pendulum. As it turned out, my mind and intuition was wrong! The pendulum was right. (I was concerned that I did not have good intuition, but the Jungian psychologist Dr. James Hillman says your intuition is correct only 50% of the time.)

A friend, who was certain she knew what was in my best interest, sat across from me and silently asked herself questions about me. I held the pendulum and watched in awe. It would swing in the direction of yes and then stop. Then it would start up again, moving to yes or no, stop and continue. I had no control or influence over her questions. When she told me the answers she got for her questions, they resonated for me, despite opposing her suppositions.

You can always check your answer by consulting another form of divination that you know: the I Ching, or the Runes, muscle testing or the Tarot. You can also check how the answer feels in your body. You can trust your body.

When I haven't trusted the pendulum, when I have done the opposite of the guidance, I have still found the pendulum to be accurate. It's in your best interest not to tempt fate.

How to choose between the red pill and the blue pill?

Many years ago, I was sensitive and had allergic reactions to almost everything I ate. A health care practitioner taught me to put the pendulum over a particular supplement and ask if I needed it. I would get a yes response or a no. I would also put the pendulum in the middle of several supplement bottles and ask it which one to take first, and then which after that, and the pendulum would show me the order.

You can do this with food as well. I have a friend who picks golf clubs this way. I know someone who does this with dates on the Internet with good result.

What do you do when you need guidance and it's too public a place to be caught using a pendulum?

Use your body as a pendulum. There is a discrete way, but I'm not telling. God forbid you meet me in public.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Opium of the Masses - by Max Kantar

October 25th, 2008

This November, Americans face a choice. But the choice not between John McCain or Barak Obama; it is between submitting to the will of the corporate-military establishment or taking a moral stand in boycotting their rigged institutions of fake democracy.

Democracy, in any meaningful sense, is a system that allows people to have a say in decisions to the degree that they are affected. Do we have that? With popular support for the Bush administration continually hovering at around 20% and support for the mostly Democratic congress struggling to maintain double digits, you can decide whether we have a democratic system or not for yourself.

They tell us to vote if we care about the economy. Vote for whom? Obama could not reiterate enough times in the “debate” how much he “agreed” with McCain on the issue of the near trillion dollar Wall Street bailout, despite overwhelming public opposition to it. The message to the public was clear: “We don’t care what you think. Our job is to protect the wealth of those who own the country, not those who built it.”

They tell us to vote if we care about war, foreign policy, and the horrendous image of the US around the world. Vote for Obama or McCain, both who vow to enact a “surge” of US occupying forces into Afghanistan, in spite of the sharp rise in US-NATO bombings of civilians, most notably the massacre of 90 innocent people in late August, two thirds of which were under the age of 15.

We can vote on Iraq, but our choice is not between war and peace. The choice is between two war strategies. One continues the Bush-Cheney-Rice plan, and the other entails significant US troops, privately contracted mercenaries, and the maintenance of extravagant foreign (US) military bases, not to mention potential US operations in the future in Iraq. Both plans continue the aggressive war against the wishes of the Iraqi public, the American public, and the international community.

Not to be outdone by the Maverick’s burning passion for imperial violence, liberal Obama has declared that he strongly supports military strikes in Pakistan, further threatening the already trembling stability of the region by violating sovereign territory with killings and assaults.

Should we vote if we care about peace in Israel-Palestine, a conflict with global implications? Unlike the slight deviations of policy mentioned above between those who wish to rule over us, we have a truly bipartisan commitment to continue blocking a peaceful settlement through providing the overwhelming military, economic, and diplomatic support for the US-Israeli illegal military occupation of Palestinian land, illegal colonial settlement expansion, and the starvation and imprisonment of the 1.5 million human beings trying to stay alive in the Gaza Strip.

Either way we vote, we give money to kill Palestinians, support Israeli terror, and avoid peace based on international law and human rights. That has been US policy for decades.

Turning to the health care crisis, both candidates refuse to recognize what has been the population’s wish for decades: the abolition of for-profit healthcare. Thousands of insured Americans are going to die in the next four years because both candidates refuse to support preexisting legislation that guarantees all necessary medical treatment to everyone.1

America has the most prisoners of any country in the world. Our corporate built prisons are a reflection and symbol of a violently unequal and racist society where black men are incarcerated at a rate of nearly 400% more than whites. Black men in America are locked up at a rate nearly six times that of Black men under the notorious South African Apartheid regime in the early 90s.2

Our prisons are filled with the poor and disenfranchised: social conditions that transcend race in American dungeons. This socioeconomic/human rights issue is off the debating table. Neither exclusively Democratic nor Republican, this is an American policy.

Let us not forget either, that a vote for either presidential hopeful is a clear declaration of support for the continued Bush-Cheney anti-constitution program of illegal spying and wiretapping of American citizens. Are we really willing to accept this as a permanent American policy?

Elections in the US are nothing more than ratifications of illegitimate power and approval of concentrated wealth. So long as we continue to rationalize our vote by selecting the “lesser of two evils” vying for Chief Terrorist Commander and Upholder of Elite Interests, we will be giving our tacit approval to and consent of the continued human rights violations committed by the bipartisan power structure.

This business of selecting indentured servants of existing power is more symbolic as a means of conquest of the popular will rather than that of democracy. Perhaps we were never taught that the wonderful advancements our country has made over the years came as a result of popular struggle, not electoral politics.3

When we place our political energy into elections, power and privilege always win while our movements die. In our country, voting is the opium of the masses.

When we cast our ballots for the McCains and Obamas of this country, blood continues to be shed on the battlefields of justice, not only around the world as the US continues its imperial crusade to protect the world from the threat of democracy, but at home as well in America’s prisons, hospitals, factories, courts, ghettos, working neighborhoods—in essence, on America’s “main street.”

We cannot be, in good moral conscience, participants in this deceitful and superficial process legitimizing crimes of the powerful and an economic system erected for the wealthy. “After all, is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded?”4

Yes, let us make a choice in November, a choice to stop “tinkering with the machinery” of the Washington-Wall Street establishment of exploitation and violence and commit ourselves to taking matters into our own hands to bring about self-determination and justice for our countrymen/women and our fellow human beings around the world.5

  1. House Resolution (H.R.) 676 is the bill introduced in February of 2005 by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) which guarantees single payer, not for profit, healthcare to every American. In addition to its obvious humane benefits, it will save the US several billion dollars annually, according to The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance. []
  2. According to the organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, (LEAP), under South African Apartheid in 1993, Black men were incarcerated at a rate of 841 per 100,000. In the US in 2004, Black men were incarcerated at a rate of 4,400 per 100,000. []
  3. For a further discussion on social change, elections, and popular struggle in American history, please see Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States. Using impeccable sources and research, Zinn illustrates to the reader how when mass movements in the US attempted to press their demands through the electoral process, the movements fizzled out with little or no results. []
  4. Quoted words are pulled from Henry David Thoreau’s 1849 essay, “Resistance to Civil Government” or also known as “Civil Disobedience.” []
  5. The quoted words, “tinkering with the machinery,” are the words of the late US Supreme Court Justice, Harry Blackmun, who famously noted that he would “no longer tinker with the machinery of death.” Blackmun was referring to the institution of the death penalty as a form of criminal punishment. []

Max Kantar is an undergraduate at Ferris State University. He can be reached for comment at: maxkantar@gmail.com. Read other articles by Max.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama favours U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan

Senator Barack Obama said he would order a surge of U.S. troops – perhaps 15,000 or more – to Afghanistan as soon as he reached the White House. Mr. Obama, the clear front-runner of the presidential race siad “We're confronting an urgent crisis in Afghanistan.”

Chomsky, Zinn, and Obama

You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.

– Malcolm X

Another Election Day approaches and I’m reminded of something the late Pakistani dissident, Eqbal Ahmad said about Noam Chomsky in the book, Confronting Empire (2000): “He (Chomsky) has never wavered. He has never fallen into the trap of saying, ‘Clinton will do better.’ Or ‘Nixon was bad but Carter at least had a human rights presidency.’ There is a consistency of substance, of posture, of outlook in his work.”

But along came 2004…when Chomsky said stuff like this: “Anyone who says ‘I don’t care if Bush gets elected’ is basically telling poor and working people in the country, ‘I don’t care if your lives are destroyed’.” And like this: “Despite the limited differences [between Bush and Kerry] both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes.”

Standing alongside Chomsky was Howard Zinn, saying stuff like this: “Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.”

Fast forward to 2008 and Chomsky sez: “I would suggest voting against McCain, which means voting for Obama without illusions.” And once again, Howard Zinn is in agreement: “Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change.” (Two word rejoinder: Bill Clinton)

This strategy of choosing an alleged “lesser evil” because he/she might be influenced by some mythical “popular movement” would be naïve if put forth by a high school student. Professors Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it’s incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: “Because Nader or McKinney can’t win.”

Of course they can’t win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You’re wanted down the goddamned rabbit hole.

Another possible answer as to why folks like Chomsky and Zinn don’t aggressively and tirelessly stump for Nader or McKinney is this: 2004 proved that the high profile Left is essentially impotent and borderline irrelevant. Chomsky and Zinn were joined in the vocal, visible, and vile Anybody-But-Bush ranks by “stars” like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjamin, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Manning Marable, Naomi Klien, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Martin Sheen, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, etc. etc. and John Kerry still lost.

News flash: The “poor and working people in the country” that Chomsky mentions above are paying ZERO attention to him or anyone like him…and that’s a much bigger issue than which millionaire war criminal gets to play figurehead for the empire over the next four years.

Zinn talks about Obama and the “possibility of change.” It seems odd to be asking this of an octogenarian but: Exactly how much time do you think we have?

Every twenty-four hours, thirteen million tons toxic chemicals are released across the globe; 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed; more than one hundred plant or animal species go extinct; and 45,000 humans (mostly children) starve to death. Each day, 29,158 children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes.

As Gandhi once asked: “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

I promise you this: The human beings (and all living things) that come after us won’t care whether we voted for Obama or McCain in 2008…if they have no clean air to breathe, no clean water to use, and are stuck on a toxic, uninhabitable planet. They’d probably just want to ask us this: Why did you stand by and let everything be consumed or poisoned or destroyed?

Conclusion: A vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama is—at best—an act of criminal negligence.

Mickey Z. is the author of the recently released Bizarro novel, CPR for Dummies, and can be found on the Web at MickeyZ.net. Read other articles by Mickey.


ARGENTINA: New Movement to Combat Poverty

By Marcela Valente BUENOS AIRES, Oct 24 (IPS) - A new movement formed by a host of political, social, labour and cultural organisations of Argentina launched an action plan Friday to reduce poverty and child mortality and to promote more equal distribution of wealth. The action plan was presented at a three-day meeting organised by the Central Federation of Argentine Workers (CTA) in the city of Jujuy, capital of the province of the same name in northwestern Argentina which is one of the most impoverished areas of the country. Seven thousand delegates from 610 organisations and 23 provinces had confirmed their participation. The CTA, a trade union federation of one million members, groups public servants, primary and secondary school teachers, judicial and health care workers, cooperatives, bankrupt companies salvaged by their employees, and retired and unemployed workers. It was formed 16 years ago to counter the neoliberal, free market reforms implemented by the administration of Carlos Menem (1989-1999), and immediately applied for official recognition as a labour federation, with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). But so far it has been denied such recognition, which perpetuates the monopoly held by the General Labour Confederation (CGT), formed primarily by industry, construction, commerce and service unions, and affiliated with the governing Justicialista (Peronist) Party. Years ago, the CTA had already called for the formation of a National Front Against Poverty, and entrusted it with the preparation of a proposal that was subsequently submitted to public vote in a plebiscite that drew millions of voters in December 2001, on the eve of the worst economic, social and political crisis in the history of Argentina. Part of the proposal was taken up by the government of Eduardo Duhalde -- the caretaker president appointed after Fernando de la Rúa resigned, who governed until May 2003 -- in his attempts to deal with the crisis. This resulted, for example, in the establishment of a small monthly income granted to unemployed heads of households. But the initiative was modified after reports that it had become tainted with political clientelism. The CTA is now arguing that the current global financial crisis cannot be used as a pretext for abandoning the fight against poverty and inequality, and is renewing its struggle with a broader movement that will put social issues back at the top of the agenda. "Just as the Berlin Wall paradigm fell in 1989, now too, Wall Street, the paradigm of international financial capital, is falling. We believe that this opens up an opportunity to discuss this issue among a broader range of forces," Juan Carlos Giuliani, CTA Communications Secretary, said to IPS. The purpose of the meeting, the trade unionist said, is to "form a new political, social and cultural liberation movement" that will focus on three goals: establishing a set of priority issues -- the ones that demand the most urgent attention -- devising an action plan, and designing a comprehensive strategy that will help us organise our future actions," he said. The movement will include civil society organisations from every province, environmentalists and neighbourhood groups organised against industries and infrastructure works that pollute, trade unionists, human rights defenders, indigenous people, women’s rights activists, students, and religious and political leaders. Except for the support of a few members of Congress, such as leftwing opposition lawmaker Claudio Lozano who has ties to the CTA, or of prominent human rights activists like Nora Cortiñas of the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo-Línea Fundadora (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo - Founding Line), the organisers do not expect to be joined by "high-profile personalities." "Our strength will be in the diversity of the organisations represented, coming from 720 cities in the country," the CTA spokesman said. "Church-based groups involved in social work, cooperatives, self-managed workers and organisers of soup kitchen initiatives" are all taking part. The CTA, Giuliani explained, is not looking to create a political party or launch candidates. "What we want is to empower the people and push for more participatory democracy. If this later translates into an electoral platform, it will be merely as a secondary objective that will arise from the consensus of the participating organisations," he added. The meeting, convened as a "Social Constituent Assembly," began on Thursday with an international seminar that included presentations by representatives of Brazil’s Landless Movement (MST) and Central Única dos Trabalhadores central trade union, Chile’s Unified Workers’ Confederation, members of the constituent assembly that rewrote Ecuador’s constitution, and trade unionists from Spain. The Social Constituent Assembly was formally inaugurated Friday with a rally and a march through the streets of the provincial capital, San Salvador de Jujuy. On Saturday, participants will be divided into 20 working committees that will deliberate separately, coming together at the end of the day for a plenary session where each committee will share their initiatives with the rest. "The main objective of the meeting is to promote unity in the popular front, like we’re seeing in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela; which is why we are calling on everyone who believes that it is unacceptable for Argentina to have 13 million people living in poverty or children dying from preventable causes," Giuliani declared. Participants are also addressing other social issues of concern to the organisations, such as "the plundering of natural resources," or "the perpetuation of a distributive system that generates inequality," he said.

Reagan Appointee and (Recent) McCain Adviser Charles Fried Supports Obama

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=6103414 http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2008/10/24/reagan-appointee-and-recent-mccain-adviser-charles-fried-supports-obama.aspx http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/3237276/Barack-Obama-wins-endorsement-of-conservative-Ken-Adelman.html

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Third Party Presidential Debate to Take Place on Thursday, October 23rd - Nader to participate

Press Advisory FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Toby Heaps, 202-471-5833 Attn: Politics Editors, Campaign 2008 Editors, National Editors Third Party Presidential Debate to Take Place on Thursday, October 23rd - Nader to participate Independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced today that he will participate in the only third party debate being held this election cycle to take place on Thursday evening at 9:00pm EST on October 23 in Washington DC at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. The debate will last for 90 minutes and be conducted according to the following format: -No opening statements -There will be six of the following question and answer series: The moderator will pose a question. Each candidate will be permitted 90 seconds to respond. The candidates' preliminary answers will be followed by a 5-minute "discussion" period, during which the moderator will be permitted unlimited follow-up questions and the candidates would be encouraged to engage one another in actual debate. This will last about 60 minutes. -After the above six question-and-answer series, each candidate will be permitted to ask a single question of one or more of the other candidates, with each candidate permitted 90 seconds to respond. This will last about 10 minutes. -After this, submitted questions from the audience will be selected and presented by the moderator. This will last for about 10 minutes. -Each candidate will be permitted a 2-minute closing statement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FreeofState.org

Namaste Liberty. There Is Only One Humanity. We are sending a voice, speaking truth to power.  Life is liberty. Authority is violence. Blind obedience to  criminal lawmakers is insanity. We are not born on this Earth  to support murder, destruction and obscene corruption. We are  refusing to support the organized crime of nuclear-armed  corporate warfare States.ÊWe declare our birthright to live in a  sacred manner, worthy of the human being. We shall be free,  that mankind may live by love and reason, with a  universal ethic of kindness.

This work is dedicated as a labor of love to the great wisdom teachers who have left their footprints across trackless eternity and to the others who, like Mohandas K. Gandhi, have given their lives to show us how.

We aspire to a world community without enemy, without war. Man is not enemy of man except through lies of the State and State of the lie. Once violence is chosen as method, falsehood becomes principle. Our direct eyewitness experience shows that the State owes its existence to violence, and maintains itself by lies, coercion, and war.

Stateless society is essentially need-based, and not greed-based. It is essentially self-protecting and self-regulating, without institutionalized compulsion. So we are not going to be governed, knowing that to be governed is to be coerced and violated. We shall govern ourselves.

We must evolve to a higher level of consciousness, or die out on a wasted earth. We hold that Liberty with self-rule is a better way to that peace which is so essential for survival of the human species.

The battle is for the mind of man. The path is made by walking. We are taking steps. These words mark our footprints. We try to live by respect for life. We strive for a life that harms none.

We are declaring our birthright of individual liberty, free of State coercion. Our right to life includes the right to respect the lives of others, for we cannot live without society. Respect for life demands the right of non-cooperation in the tax-financing of State murder. We are advocates of non-political means to achieve freedom. We shall be free.

We feel that mankind is facing a moral and spiritual crisis, of which ecological, social and political problems are but symtoms of a deeper cause. We are working for solutions. We welcome ideas and participation. May you live long, live free.


20bn barrel oil discovery puts Cuba in the big league

The Cuban government announced there may be more than 20bn barrels of recoverable oil in offshore fields in Cuba's share of the Gulf of Mexico, more than twice the previous estimate. If confirmed, it puts Cuba's reserves on par with those of the US and into the world's top 20. Drilling is expected to start next year by Cuba's state oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet.

Pakistan Under Pressure to Accept IMF Funding

Pakistan’s financial crisis continues to worsen , leaving them on the verge of bankruptcy. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited China last week and received a pledge of help but failed to receive a firm commitment of cash, leading to increased speculation that they may be forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund for help.

Heee's Baaack! - Festival de la Digna Rabia

[Weird I just knew this was coming...I put Marcos back in my auto-searches because I just had a little feeling that he was going to reappear soon...and BLAM! Here is is again...] CONFERENCE INVITATION FROM SUBCOMANDANTE INSURGENTE MARCOS EJÉRCITO ZAPATISTA DE LIBERACIÓN NACIONAL. MEXICO. October 2008 To: Planet Earth From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Chiapas, Mexico. Receive the regards of the men, women, children and elders of the EZLN and my own. As we had already announced, we, the Zapatistas think that now (maybe even before) there is a rage against everything that is going on, in our country as well as in the world. This rage is not mere anger or resentment, but rather has two essential elements: it is a rage that is the consequence of an injured dignity and it is a creative rage, that is, it points towards a transformation of the situation. We also see that there are many differences between these proud rages that we see, listen to and feel. Not just in that which is obvious (such as geography), but also in the way and the path, destination, speed and rhythm of their steps. Nevertheless, we think they have something in common: the aggressor who causes this rage is the same one: a system, capitalism, which destroys dignity above all. That is why our idea of making some sort of encounter, came; a space where these rages could find, meet, learn and relate to each other. The Mexican Zapatistas have named this space the “FESTIVAL MUNDIAL DE LA DIGNA RABIA” and think the presence of you and your organization, your ear and word, is necessary. That is why we want to invite you to take part in this “Festival de la Digna Rabia” which is to be held in Mexico City, and in the Chiapas zapatista, from December the 26th 20a08 to January the 5th 2009. We hope that you are able to come. Vale. Salud and may ideas find and find each other. From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Mexico, October 2008. P.S.- Enclosed you will find a letter with the details of the event from the compañero Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano, director in chief of Rebeldía magazine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ignoring Evidence, Mexican Authorities Charge Activists with 2006 Murder of Independent Journalist Brad Will

Mexican authorities have arrested two activists in the murder of the independent journalist Brad Will. Speculation has long centered around police officers and pro-government militants in Will’s death. Some were initially arrested in the months after the shooting, but ultimately released. But today the government is accusing two members of the popular movement APPO, the group opposed to state governor Ulises Ruiz. Will’s family has criticized the charges, calling the arrests a sham.

Guest:

John Gibler, independent journalist who has extensively covered the uprising in Oaxaca, where he also knew Brad Will. He is author of the forthcoming book Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, out in January from City Lights Books.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today in Mexico, where two people have been arrested in the murder of the independent journalist Brad Will. Will was shot and killed on October 27, 2006, while covering the popular uprising in Oaxaca. Will’s own camera captured his shooting.

AMY GOODMAN: Footage filmed by Brad Will right up until the moment he was fatally shot. For our radio listeners, you can go to our website at democracynow.org to see the video footage.

Far from satisfying the calls for justice, the arrests have only inflamed the controversy.

Speculation has long centered around police officers and pro-government militants in Will’s death. Some were initially arrested in the months after the shooting, but ultimately released. But today the government is accusing two members of the popular movement APPO, the group opposed to state governor Ulises Ruiz. Will was covering their struggle when he was killed. Will’s family has criticized the charges, calling the arrests a sham. In a statement, Amnesty International also said it’s “gravely concerned” Mexican officials are ignoring critical evidence, including "state agents potentially implicated.”

John Gibler is an independent journalist who has extensively covered the uprising in Oaxaca, where he also knew Brad Will. He’s author of the forthcoming book Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, which is out in January from City Lights Books. John Gibler joins us now from San Francisco.

John, welcome to Democracy Now! Tell us, how did these arrests happen? How did this whole story unfold to this point?

JOHN GIBLER: Since the very beginning of the so-called investigation, both the state and the federal officials have focused singularly on fabricating a theory that the people who tried to save Brad Will’s life were the very ones who killed him. For the past several months, the federal attorney general in Mexico, who is now carrying the case, has been leaking stories slowly into the Mexican national press, letting the press know that they were about to make a conclusion to identify the witnesses and people who tried to save Brad’s life, who they say had pulled the trigger.

So, the arrests come after months of the federal attorney general leaking false information into the press, ignoring real evidence and also ignoring several independent studies, both governmental and non-governmental, that have strongly urged the federal attorney general to investigate the paramilitaries and the civilian-clad police officers who were widely photographed shooting on protesters on October 27. The arrests came on Thursday last week, arresting two people initially and then a third person the next day. Two of the people have since been released on bail, but the man whom they charge with actually pulling the trigger is still in jail.

AMY GOODMAN: John Gibler, start from the beginning and how Brad Will was killed two years ago.

JOHN GIBLER: Brad was on the street known as Juarez Street. Originally, he had been filming an attempt of the local officials of the Santa Lucia del Camino municipality, which borders Oaxaca City, their attempt to lift a protester barricade on October 27th. This comes at a time in the conflict in Oaxaca when the tension was incredibly high. Over seventeen people had already been assassinated by the paramilitary forces. Those paramilitaries had been photographed, they had been filmed, they had been shown on national television, and yet, in nearly five months of the conflict, absolutely no investigation had been carried out by the Mexican government, much less someone had been charged with one of these seventeen previous murders. So the time Brad was killed, it was very much a murder foretold, something that should never have happened if the other assassinations had been properly investigated.

Brad was on the street filming the violent attack of the Santa Lucia officials as they tried to scare protesters away from their barricades. Well, as happened for months throughout Oaxaca, the protesters did not scare easily. Instead of running away, they ran towards. They—I mean, not out in the open street, but they headed towards the men who were attacking them with firearms, throwing rocks and shooting bottle rockets, trying to force them away out of the street.

So, Brad was standing on Juarez Street, filming amongst protesters. There were several other journalists there. In fact, one journalist for the newspaper Milenio had just been shot in the leg and taken around the corner. Another newspaper photographer for the national paper El Universal had just taken a now-very-famous photograph where he shows one of the local officials, Pedro Carmona, shooting at him, pointing the gun straight at the camera. Raul Estrella, who took the photograph, told me later he took that picture and then heard a bullet whiz over his head, and that’s when he ran around the corner. Only moments later, Brad himself was shot and was carried around the corner by the APPO protesters.

As you see in the video, which you’ve shown today, which Brad filmed, and his camera was still running as people carry him away, he falls, and immediately all the people around him rush to help him. They rush to pick him up and carry him to safety. Coming around the corner, many newspaper photographers then took pictures of the witnesses who were trying to resuscitate him and then who rushed him off to the hospital. Those very people who risked their lives to pick him up and to carry him to safety, the Mexican government is now saying those are the ones who shot and killed him, instead of the paramilitary forces down the street who had been shooting at people all day, whose photographs have been published in the national and international press with them pointing their guns straight at the camera.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain as much as you know about those people who the photos show pointing their guns.

JOHN GIBLER: Several of these people are local municipal police officers in Santa Lucia del Camino. Others are local city council officials. One is a judge in Santa Lucia del Camino. In the photographs that have been widely shown in the international press, one is carrying a rifle, two are carrying pistols. In one photograph, again, Pedro Carmona, who is a regional director of one of the neighborhoods inside of the Santa Lucia municipality, he’s pointing the gun straight at the camera.

Again, these are all people who are members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, or the P-R-I in Spanish. This is the party that ruled Mexico for seventy-one years, but continues to rule Oaxaca, has ruled uninterrupted since the party’s creation over eighty years ago. Throughout the Oaxaca conflict, members of the PRI party from different areas around Oaxaca City and around the state were involved in these paramilitary-type attacks against the Oaxaca protesters. Again, these were attacks that were widely photographed, widely filmed, and shown on both international and national TV.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the response right now of APPO?

JOHN GIBLER: APPO categorically denies the involvement of any of their members in any crime against Brad Will. Quite the opposite, they were incredibly disturbed and saddened by his death. They were the ones who tried to save him.

The family is irate. Both Kathy and Hardy Will, Brad’s parents, have said to me that they think this is an obvious miscarriage of justice. Last night, on the phone, Hardy said that this just goes to show that the federal attorney general in Mexico and the special prosecutor are either corrupt or incompetent, or both.

International human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, have decried the recent arrests, saying that it shows that the federal attorney general is only continuing to ignore all the incredible body of evidence pointing to the involvement of the paramilitaries and, instead, trying to focus uniquely, focus singularly on creating the evidence necessary for the hypothesis that the APPO in fact killed Brad.

And their evidence is itself internally contradictory. They released a PowerPoint—the Mexican federal attorney general released a PowerPoint last week, where they say that the first shot took place at a distance of two meters. The image from Brad’s camera that they used to substantiate that claim shows that everyone in front of Brad is at least five to six meters away. Their second claim is that the second shot, the second gunshot, took place at a distance of two to eight meters, and yet their own computer-generated illustration that they show to substantiate that claim shows the killer at a distance of less than a meter, about a foot away. So their own illustrations don’t even substantiate their claims, whereas the evidence that has been gathered by the Mexican National Human Rights Commission, by the International Physicians for Human Rights group, shows very conclusively that the gunshot took place at a distance of between thirty-five and fifty meters away. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission concluded that the gunshot took place between thirty-five and fifty meters away. Now, on the street where Brad was filming, there’s a red truck parked across the street. That red truck is about thirty-five meters away from Brad. On the other side of that red truck is where the paramilitaries were all gathered and from which point they were firing at the APPO protesters.

AMY GOODMAN: So, John Gibler, you, who have known Brad well, you’re usually based in Mexico, joining us, though, from San Francisco now. What are you calling for now?

JOHN GIBLER: I’m calling for justice with the family, definitely calling for the immediate release of the innocent witnesses and people who tried to save Brad, and a serious, rigorous, impartial investigation that leads to identifying the person who actually pulled the trigger and those who have been covering up his involvement in the murder, and that the cover-up may go pretty high.

AMY GOODMAN: John Gibler, thanks so much for joining us. Your piece that really goes into detail into these accusations, the arrests and the story behind this, called “The Rule of Impunity: Mexican Government Ignores Overwhelming Evidence, Charges Oaxacan Activists with Brad Will’s Murder,” appears at The Indypendent, and we will link to it at democracynow.org.


Give Me Liberty, A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, by Naomi Wolf

[thanks again for the vid. link SJ]
Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries NORTHCOM Army Times BN Synopsis: As the practice of democracy becomes a lost art, Americans are increasingly desperate for a restored nation. Many have a general sense that the "system" is in disorder -- if not on the road to functional collapse. But though it is easy to identify our political problems, the solutions are not always as clear. In Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, bestselling author Naomi Wolf illustrates the breathtaking changes that can take place when ordinary citizens engage in the democratic system the way the founders intended and tells how to use that system, right now, to change your life, your community, and ultimately, the nation.
Read an Excerpt Introduction The summer before last, I traveled across the country talking about threats to our liberty. I spoke and listened to groups of Americans from all walks of life. They told me new and always harsher stories of state coercion. What I had called a "fascist shift" in the United States, projections I had warned about as worst-case scenarios, was now surpassing my imagination: in 2008, thousands of terrified, shackled illegal immigrants were rounded up in the mass arrests which always characterize a closing society;1 news emerged that the 9/11 report had been based on evidence derived from the testimonies of prisoners who had been tortured -- and the tapes that documented their torture were missing -- leading the commissioners of the report publicly to disavow their own findings;2 the Associated Press reported that the torture of prisoners in U.S.-held facilities had not been the work of "a few bad apples" but had been directed out of the White House;3 the TSA "watch list," which had contained 45,000 names when I wrote my last book, ballooned to 755,000 names and 20,000 were being added every month;4 Scott McClellan confirmed that the drive to war in Iraq had been based on administration lies;5 HR 1955, legislation that would criminalize certain kinds of political thought and speech, passed the House and made it to the Senate;6 Blackwater, a violent paramilitary force not answerable to the people, established presences in Illinois and North Carolina and sought to get into border patrol activity in San Diego.7 The White House has established, no matter who leads the nation in the future, U.S. government spying on the emails and phone calls ofAmericans -- a permanent violation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.8 The last step of the ten steps to a closed society is the subversion of the rule of law. That is happening now. What critics have called a "paper coup" has already taken place. Yes, the situation is dire. But history shows that when an army of citizens, supported by even a vestige of civil society, believes in liberty -- in the psychological space that is "America" -- no power on earth can ultimately suppress them. Dissident Natan Sharansky writes that there are two kinds of states -- "fear societies" and "free societies."9 Understood in this light, "America" -- the state of freedom that is under attack -- is first of all a place in the mind. That is what we must regain now to fight back. The two societies make up two kinds of consciousness. The consciousness derived of oppression is despairing, fatalistic, and fearful of inquiry. It is mistrustful of the self and forced to trust external authority. It is premised on a dearth of self-respect. It is cramped. People around the world understand that this kind of inner experience is as toxic an environment as is a polluted waterway they are forced to drink from; it is as insufficient a space as being compelled to sleep in a one-room hut with seven other bodies on the floor. In contrast, the consciousness of freedom -- the psychology of freedom that is "America" -- is one of expansiveness, trust of the self, and hope. It is a consciousness of limitless inquiry. "Everything," wrote Denis Diderot, who influenced, via Thomas Jefferson, the Revolutionary generation, "must be examined, everything must be shaken up, without exception and without circumspection."10 Jefferson wrote that American universities are "based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."11 Since this state of mind is self-trusting, it builds up in a citizen a wealth of self-respect. "Your own reason," wrote Jefferson to his nephew, "is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but the uprightness of the decision."12 After my cross-country journey, I realized that I needed to go back and read about the original Revolutionaries of our nation. I realized in a new way from them that liberty is not a set of laws or a system of government; it is not a nation or a species of patriotism. Liberty is a state of mind before it is anything else. You can have a nation of wealth and power, but without this state of mind -- this psychological "America" -- you are living in a deadening consciousness; with this state of mind, you can be in a darkened cell waiting for your torturer to arrive and yet inhabit a chainless space as wide as the sky. "America," too, is a state of mind. "Being an American" is a set of attitudes and actions, not a nationality or a posture of reflexive loyalty. This tribe of true "Americans" consists of people who have crossed a personal Rubicon of a specific kind and can no longer be satisfied with anything less than absolute liberty. This state of mind, I learned, has no national boundaries. The Tibetans, who, as I write this, are marching in the face of Chinese soldiers, are acting like members of this tribe; so did the Pakistani lawyers who recently faced down house arrest and tear gas in their suits and judicial robes. Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry, and Ida B. Wells, who risked their lives for liberty, acted like "Americans." When the crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya insisted on reporting on war crimes in Chechnya, even though her informing her fellow citizens led -- as she knew it well could -- to her being gunned down on her doorstep as she went home to her fourteen-year-old daughter, she was acting like an American.13 When three JAG lawyers refused to sell out their detainee clients, they were being "Americans." When Vietnam vet David Antoon risked his career to speak out in favor of the Constitution's separation of church and state, he was being an "American." When journalist Josh Wolf went to jail rather than reveal a source, he was being an "American" too. Always, everywhere, the members of this tribe are fundamentally the same, in spite of the great deal that may divide them in terms of clothing and religion, language and culture. But when we quietly go about our business as our rights are plundered, when we yield to passivity and switch on the Wii and hand over our power to a leadership class that has no interest in our voice, we are not acting like true Americans. Indeed, at those moments we are essentially giving up our citizenship. The notion that "American-ness" is a state of mind -- a rigorous psychodynamic process or a continued personal challenge, rather than a static point on a map or an impressive display in a Fourth of July parade -- is not new. But we are so used to being raised on a rhetoric of cheap patriotism -- the kind that you get to tune in to in a feel-good way just because you were lucky enough to have been born here and can then pretty much forget about -- that this definition seems positively exotic. The founders understood "American-ness" in this way, though, not at all in our way. And today, I learned as I traveled, we are very far from experiencing this connection to our source. Many of us feel ourselves clouded within, cramped, baffled obscurely from without, not in alignment with the electric source that is liberty. So it is easy for us to rationalize always further and more aggressive cramping and clouding; is the government spying on us? Well...Okay...So now the telecommunications companies are asking for retroactive immunity for their spying on us? Well...Okay...Once a certain threshold of passivity has been crossed, it becomes easier and easier, as Benjamin Franklin warned, to trade liberty for a false security -- and deserve neither. What struck me on my journey was how powerless so many Americans felt to make change. Many citizens I heard from felt more hopeless than did citizens of some of the poorest and youngest democracies on the planet. Others were angrier than ever and were speaking up and acting up with fervor. I felt that all of us -- the hopeless and the hopeful -- needed to reconnect to our mentors, the founders, and to remind ourselves of the blueprint for freedom they meant us to inherit. I wrote this handbook with the faith that if Americans take personal ownership of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they can push back any darkness. The first two sections of this refresher guide to our liberties recall what America is supposed to be; the last third is a practical how-to for citizen leadership for a new American Revolution. There are concrete laws we must pass to restore liberty and actions we must take to safeguard it. You will find them in the last third of this handbook. But more crucial than any list of laws or actions is our own need to rediscover our role as American revolutionaries and to reclaim the "America" in ourselves -- in our consciousness as free men and women. Do we have the right to see ourselves this way? Absolutely. Many histories of our nation's founding focus on a small group, "a band of brothers" or "the Founding Fathers" -- the handful of illustrious men whose names we all know. This tight focus tends to reinforce the idea that we are the lucky recipients of the American gift of liberty and of the republic, not ourselves its stewards, crafters, and defenders. It prepares us to think of ourselves as the led, not as the leaders. But historians are also now documenting the stories of how in the pre-Revolutionary years, ordinary people -- farmers, free and enslaved Africans, washer-women, butchers, printers, apprentices, carpenters, penniless soldiers, artisans, wheelwrights, teachers, indentured servants -- were rising up against the king's representatives, debating the nature of liberty, fighting the war and following the warriors to support them, insisting on expanding the franchise, demanding the right to vote, compelling the more aristocratic leaders of the community to include them in deliberations about the nature of the state constitutions, and requiring transparency and accountability in the legislative process.14 Even enslaved Africans, those Americans most silenced by history, were not only debating in their own communities the implications or the ideas of God-given liberty that the white colonists were debating;15 they were also taking up arms against George III's men in hopes that the new republic would emancipate them. Some were petitioning state legislatures for their freedom; and others were even successfully bringing lawsuits against their owners, arguing in court for their inalienable rights as human beings.16 This is the revolutionary spirit that we must claim again for ourselves -- fast -- if we are to save the country. When Abraham Lincoln said that our nation was "conceived in Liberty"17 he was not simply phrasemaking; our nation was literally "conceived" by Enlightenment ideas that were becoming more and more current, waking up greater and greater numbers of ordinary people, and finally bearing on our own founders, known and unknown, with ever-stronger pressure. Key Enlightenment beliefs of the colonial era are these: human beings are perfectible; the right structures of society, at the heart of which is a representational government whose power derives from the consent of the governed, facilitate this continual evolution; reason is the means by which ordinary people can successfully rule themselves and attain liberty; the right to liberty is universal, God given, and part of a natural cosmic order, or "natural law"; as more and more people around the world claim their God-given right to liberty, tyranny and oppression will be pushed aside. It is worth reminding ourselves of these founding ideas at a time when they are under sustained attack. The core ideals, the essence, of what the founders imperfectly glimpsed, are perfect. I am often asked how I can so champion the writing and accomplishments of the better-known founders. Most of them were, of course, propertied, white, and male. Critics on the left often point out their flaws in relation to the very ideals they put forward. John Adams was never comfortable with true citizen democracy.18 "Jefferson's writings about race reveal that he saw Africans as innately deficient in humanity and culture."19 When a male slave escaped from Benjamin Franklin in England, Franklin sold him back into slavery.20 But the essence of the idea of liberty and equality that they codified -- an idea that was being debated and developed by men and women, black and white, of all classes in the pre-Revolutionary generation -- went further than such an idea had ever gone before. It is humanity's most radical blueprint for transformation. More important, the idea itself carries within it the moral power to correct the contradictions in its execution that were obvious from the very birth of the new nation. An enslaved woman, Mum Bett, who became a housekeeper for the Sedgwick family of Massachussetts, successfully sued for her own emancipation using the language of the Declaration of Independence;21 decades later a slave, Dred Scott, argued that he was "entitled to his freedom" as a citizen and a resident of a free state.22 The first suffragists at the Seneca Falls Convention, intent on securing equal rights for women, used the framework of the Declaration of Independence to advance their cause.23 New democracies in developing nations around the world draw on our founding documents and government structure to ground their own hopes for freedom. The human beings at the helm of the new nation, whatever their limitations, were truly revolutionary. The theory of liberty born in that era, the seed of the idea, was, as I say, perfect. We should not look to other revolutions to inspire us; nothing is more transformative than our own revolution. We must neither oversentimentalize it, as the right tends to do, nor disdain it, as the left tends to do; rather we must reclaim it. The stories I read and reread of the "spirit of 1776" led me with new faith to these conclusions: We are not to wait for others to lead. You and I are meant to take back the founders' mandate, and you and I are meant to lead. You and I must protest, you and I must confront our representatives, you and I must run for office, you and I must write the opeds, you and I must take over the battle. The founders -- the unknown as well as the well-known Americans who "conceived" the nation in liberty -- did not intend for us to delegate worrying about the Constitution to a cadre of constitutional scholars, or to leave debate to a class of professional pundits, or to leave the job of fighting for liberty to a caste of politicians. They meant for us to defend the Constitution, for us to debate the issues of the day, and for us to rise up against tyranny: the American who delivers the mail; the American who teaches our children; ordinary people. In my reading, I went back as if to contact our mentors. I looked for practical advice and moral support from those who had stood up for the ideal.We need a strategy for a new American uprising against those who would suppress our rights; we need what Lincoln would have called "a new birth of freedom."24 As readers of Tom Paine's Common Sense had to realize, we are not declaring war on an oppressor -- rather, we have to realize that the war has already, quietly, systemically, been declared against us.25 Today we have most of our rights still codified on paper -- but these documents are indeed "only paper" if we no longer experience them viscerally, if their violation no longer infuriates us. We can be citizens of a republic; we can have a Constitution and a Congress; but if we, the people, have fallen asleep to the meaning of the Constitution and to the radical implications of representative and direct democracy, then we aren't really Americans anymore. So we must listen to the original revolutionaries and to current ones as well, and explain their ideas clearly to new generations. To hear the voices of the original vision and the voices of those modern heroes, here in the U.S. and around the world, who are true heirs to the American Revolution is to feel your wishes change. "[Freedom] liberated us the day we stopped living in a world where 'truth' and 'falsehood' were, like everything else, the property of the State. And for the most part, this liberation did not stop when we were sentenced to prison," wrote Sharansky.26 "I was not born to be forced," wrote Henry David Thoreau. "I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest...they only can force me to obey a higher law than I."27 You want to stay in that room where these revolutionaries are conversing in this electrifying way among themselves. It feels painful but ultimately cleansing and energizing. You want to be more like them; then you realize that maybe you can be -- then finally you realize that you already are. Our "America," our Constitution, our dream, when properly felt within us, does more than "defend freedom." It clears space to build the society that allows for the highest possible development of who we ourselves personally were meant to be. We have to rise up in self-defense and legitimate rebellion. We need more drastic action than e-mails to Congress. We need the next revolution. Copyright 2008 by Naomi Wolf

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Zeek, Alice, Jenise & a brilliant ORB - Berkeley 10/19


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ellen buys $100,000 TV time to support gay marriage

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres has bought $100,000 of television airtime to urge Californians to vote to save the right to gay marriage in a November ballot, campaign organizers said on Friday.

Claiming that opponents of gay marriage are twisting the truth and trying to scare voters, DeGeneres will appeal in a television ad to vote for equality, compassion and fairness.

The chat show host and comic actress wed her long time partner, actress Portia de Rossi, in August in the most high-profile same-sex marriage since such unions were declared legal in California in May.

Her message will be broadcast on television as celebrities step up the fight to defeat Proposition 8 on the November4 state ballot that seeks to define marriage under the California constitution as only between a man and a woman.

"Hi, I'm Ellen DeGeneres. I got to do something this year I never thought I'd ever be able to do: I got married. It was the happiest day of my life. There are people out there raising millions of dollars to try and take that right away from me.

"You've seen their ads on TV. They're twisting the truth, and they're trying to scare you. I believe in fairness. I believe in compassion. I believe in equality for all people. Proposition 8 does not. Please, please, vote no on Prop. 8," the actress says in her appeal.

In recent weeks, opinion polls have shown a swing in the number of Californians who oppose same-sex marriage. Their campaign has raised $25.4 million, compared with $15.8 million for those who wish to maintain the right to gay marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have stepped up their television advertising, warning that children will be taught about gay marriage in elementary schools.

Gay-marriage supporters call that argument misleading.

Singers Melissa Etheridge, who plans to marry partner Tammy Lynn Michaels, and Mary J. Blige will perform at a $25,000-a-plate dinner in Beverly Hills on Tuesday in support of the "No" campaign. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd_ai2LrgJ0

Pre-Election Message from Stewart A. Alexander Vice Presidential Nominee

Socialist Party USA The 2008 General Election is only days away and millions of voters will have two choices to make; capitalism or socialism, and the voters’ choice for leadership will determine the destiny of the U.S. and world economy well beyond the next term of the U.S. president. The capitalists have two candidates with one agenda; to protect the profits and the wealth of the super rich. To the contrary, Socialist Party USA and Brian Moore stand for a fundamental transformation of the U.S. and world economy, focusing on production for need not profit. Brian Moore’s campaign is not about reforming the process, “the Moore campaign is about changing the process.” The economic changes that are being offered by the Moore/Alexander campaign are much broader than the New Deal that was introduced during the Roosevelt administration. Socialists believe only a global transformation from capitalism to democratic socialism will provide the conditions for international peace, justice, and economic cooperation based on the large-scale transfer of resources and technology from the developed to the developing countries. I am asking working people everywhere to vote for Brian Moore for president and Stewart A. Alexander for vice president and not to compromise your vote due to popular opinions or opinion polls. Much more is at stake than just the economy; our freedoms and our security as a nation. Every 75 years the capitalists ruling class devise an economic crisis which is always followed by a conflict between nations or a major war. We must end this cycle and support socialism and socialist candidates. In the upcoming General Election, “Get Out and Vote” for a new pathway for working people; vote for Brian Moore for President and Stewart A. Alexander for Vice President. Stewart A. Alexander Vice President Nominee Socialist Party USA, Moore/Alexander 2008

Third-party presidential debate canceled - (DAMMIT!)

The troubled presidential debate for third-party candidates scheduled for Sunday at Columbia University in New York was canceled Friday after none of the four candidates had committed to the event.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, several of the candidates decided not to participate in the debate at the last minute," said Lauren Salz, a student with the Columbia Political Union, which was hosting the debate.

Independent Ralph Nader, Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin were expected to participate in what was billed as a "historic" event.

Barr claimed a conflict while McKinney opted for an online debate originally scheduled for that evening. Baldwin was reluctant to travel to New York. Nader was willing to participate, aides say, but, seeing the debate falling apart all week, held back.

McKinney, it turns out, also had another reason for staying in her hometown of Atlanta, said her running mate, Rosa Clemente. McKinney is attending the Black Panther Party annual reunion.

*

**The debate of 3rd-party candidates planned for Sunday afternoon was cancelled when everyone but Nader pulled out, for various reasons including schedule conflicts. A new date, with a different moderator, is tentatively set: Thursday 23 October 2008 in Washington DC, at 6 pm Pacific Daylight Time (9 pm Eastern). Some candidates have not yet confirmed, so the official announcement will not go out until tomorrow.


From:

Dori's Channeled Messages and Astral Adventures As long as I have internet access, I usually update this blogsite Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays, and keep the last ten (or more) out here before I delete them. Want these blogs emailed to you? Just EMAIL me(see below). If you stay on my email list 30 days, you are entitled to one free personal question from my sources.

Year 2008 Day 291 October 17: A Message from Seth

Beginning Comments:

Soon after I published my latest blog, the doctor's office called. It seems that the specialist wasn't all that 'up-front' with me and I do have some disc bulges in the neck area. As they weren't 'surgical candidates', in his mind I suppose they were not important enough to mention. They are to my MD/osteopath, however, who wants me to see him to talk about them.

This week, on a whim, I sent a query to a literary agent, who actually took the time to read a few of my blogs. To make a long story short, this one took a look at my blogs and sent back a two line comment that made me feel like another 'nutcase'.

That I wasn't expecting. Rejection is one thing – 'nutcase' pictures are another, and opens up some nasty wounds, but I have learned from this. In this day and age, there are a lot of self-publishing companies on the internet that do not require authors to endure the gauntlet of mainstream literary expectations, and, for me, this experience is a sign I would be better off avoiding that reality.

I am sure that the agent was not, in any way, consciously cruel – the literary market is pretty dog-eat-dog, the people involved in it get all kinds of queries, some from people really off the 'deep end', and are likely to get very thick-skinned.

But I will take responsibility for having left blogs out on the blogspot.com site for months (3 surgeries and chronic back pain have left me derelict in some areas, such as keeping the number of blogs in history down to no more than 20). Unfortunately, since January of this year, I have posted a smorgasbord of blogs which bounce all over the place, and I realize that anyone reading them without knowing my background and intent could easily think I was another 'nutcase'.

This person had corresponded to the late Jane Roberts until she died, and with Robert Butts, her husband, who I hear died last year at the age of 87, so it is also possible that he is not familiar with some of the psychic exploration dynamics that have been happening since then.

As I review some of my postings, I realize I have not spoken much about the Seth stuff vs. the other stuff I have learned since Jane's passing in1984 (only about 30 of my 700+ postings even mention Seth or Jane Roberts). I also have some wonderful stories from that time of my life. So, unless more important issues intervene, I am going to add a 'Seth Segment' to my Psychic Methodology series, because it was the books Jane wrote that gave me hope that I wasn't a total 'nutcase'.

To begin this process, I have put out a request to Seth itself to be a 'guest speaker'. I have seen Seth 'around' a couple of times during my lifetime (I will tell the story about how I can identify it in a later posting).

As I put out this request, I need to be very clear that Seth and Jane 'contracted' to work together, that I have a very different 'filter' from Jane, and do not claim to have the connection both she and her husband had to this being.

But this is okay. I am not planning to channel the Seth entity, all I want to do is interview it. As a paranormal 'cub reporter' of sorts there is no harm in that. Preliminary connections suggest that I will only be connecting with it on a being-to-being level, which anyone can do as long as one keeps one's ego and any levels of self importance out of the way. Self importance is a physical reality trait which most beings find somewhat distasteful. That is not a judgment of any sort, just a reaction to the energy.

Seth is a good teacher and my seems willing to connect as long as we both understand this is a one-time connection, and we both understand that I am not, in any way or form, expecting to become the next Jane Roberts.

Actually, it was Seth, in one of his books, who mentioned that a transitioned person (let me add to that astral traveler) has the right to meet anyone they considered a 'celebrity' while they were alive. I would add a caveat to that, however. These beings might turn out to be somewhat different from what one expects for a variety of reasons.

As an astral traveler, this has been my experience the few times I have run into 'famous' personalities and/or entities.

As this is a time in our spiritual development where more and more people are learning both how to cross between realities, and to get in touch with transitioned relatives, celebrities, spirit guides and/or religious figures, this is something to keep in mind.

I don't want to get into this subject deeply today, but I can telepathically see some questions coming at me already. So I will say this: it seems the closer a person was to the transitioned person or being, the more it will appear as remembered. But if, for instance, ones intent was to find Mozart, one might find the being very different from how people perceived him three centuries ago.

By the way, I am very comfortable with my 'cub reporter' role, one that interviews beings and takes 'snap-shots' of places from various nonphysical perspectives. I like it especially because it keeps me out of the 'guru' role. If those that read my postings don't like the 'fuzziness' in the pictures or my interpretation of the interviews, I encourage them to take out their cameras and notepads and do their own investigations. Actually, I write these postings for that reason – to encourage individual paranormal exploration.

In spite of the risks of mainstream literary rejection, and being seen as a 'nutcase', this kind of work makes me feel as I am connected with my life's purpose. One of the perks I gained from the Monroe MC2 seminar was the time to sit back and look at what I am doing, and realize that, for the first time in my life, I am in line with my purpose and my goals. Though there are challenges remaining (and I am sure there always will be), I gain comfort in the work I do.

Unlike others before me, it is not a 'dramatic' purpose and does not introduce an 'ignorant' world to great new concepts and ideas. But I am one who sometimes introduces little ideas, and who has had training in a variety of systems and therefore can integrate paranormal concepts from different schools of thought.

At this point, I am giving the 'floor' to Seth. (One post dictation comment – Seth always referred to Jane as Ruburt and her husband Rob as Joseph).

Beginning Time: MDT 10/16/2008 6:23 PM Location: Loveland, Co

Dictation:

"Good Evening!

Your normal greeting is within your construct and not mine.

You have contacted me with the implicit purpose of an interview, but this is something I would rather not do. Instead, I wish to only send a message.

There are too many who wish to contact me for their own grandiose purposes. In your case, your intent is for teaching purposes, not glory, but I have no desire to 'open the door', even a crack. Like Ruburt, who has incorporated with me, I respect my privacy.

So the message I wish to give to physical reality is that my connection with it, in terms set up between Ruburt, Joseph and myself, died the day that Ruburt transitioned.

There are many fine contacts that one can call on that are active with mediums living in physical reality.

I am no longer one of them, and I am grateful that you can understand that.

Anyone who wants to visit me after transitioning is more than welcome.

But, at this time, my efforts are concentrating on teaching in nonphysical reality, and I would prefer to keep it that way.

My Blessings to you all,

The entity Ruburt called Seth"

Ending Time: MDT 10/16/2008 6:28 PM

Ending Comments:

This was a surprise at one level, but not at another. Perhaps it will help any present day channelers who think they are 'bringing through' Seth, but are actually channeling beings who find it convenient to call themselves a name that will make the medium in question feel 'more important'; this is dangerous and, unfortunately, all too common.

What many don't know is that there are some entities that will use whatever means possible to get into a physical body. Unfortunately, they tend to damage both the medium and those who come in contact with it, so my caveat to anyone visiting a medium is to listen to its words less and check out the energy more – particularly if the beings claim to be an 'incarnation' of a well-known spirit guide.

Some of you might have noticed that the Seth message was rather blunt. This is another quality one runs into over on the 'other side'. Nonphysical entities are polite, caring, and helpful but also say what they mean sometimes without the societal niceties of physical reality.

Copyright © 2008, ESP, Etcetera! All rights reserved.

-- Subscribe to my FREE EMail List for ONLY 30 DAYS! EARN a FREE MINIREADING! www.minireadings.com
posted by Dori Alsop Paden

No Dog in this Fight, by By P Jerome

15/10/08 For those of us who are antiwar, anti-government spying, anti-torture/rendition, and in favor of improving the lives of working people, this election season has been a nightmare. Most presidential elections are awful -- months/years of commericials, punditry, and lying -- but this year is particularly terrible. Contrary to the accepted "wisdom" of the electoral experts, Americans are not so divided as we might seem. More than 80 percent of us oppose the war in Iraq, with the majority wanting immediate withdrawl (not "redeployment"). Larger majorities want an end to government wiretapping (and vociferously opposed the wiretapping immunity bill), a scaled-back military budget, and universal health care that excludes the insurance industry. Further, almost no one outside the beltway or the NY financial district bought into the "crisis" that mandated a $850 billion bailout for Wall Street. These are not complicated positions, but we are given the "choice" between John "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" McCain and Barack "Threats in 100 different countries" Obama. McCain is beyond the pale for any but the proto-fascists among us, and even they have reservations about his health and sanity. But to question whether the potential ascension of "Saint Barack" is a good thing, to put into the play of questions of his militarism and support for authoritarianism at home, or to outright oppose his candidacy based on lies and war-mongering, is to invite the wrath of the "good liberal" majority. Beginning with his 2004 convention speech when he called for "missile strikes" against Iran and Pakistan, through his 2008 convention speech imploring America to recognize the "threats of tomorrow," Mr. Obama has based his candidacy no less on fear and militarism than the dreaded Republicans. After explaining to a liberal friend that Mr. Obama called for an additional 92,000 troops for the military, for expansion of the genocide in Afghanistan into Pakistan, and an accelerated war on terror in 100 countries (up from Cheney's 60-country target list), she simply nodded and said, "This is what you have to say to get elected." Say what? I see. To appeal to the mass of the electorate, you have to take positions they oppose. This twisted "logic" would also seem to include supporting the Wall Street bailout and the wiretapping bill, in which Obama invested significant time and energy. In my naivete, I thought that any compromise geared toward "winning the election" by this logic meant taking populist positions that a candidate might otherwise not adopt. Yet here, Mr. Obama takes anti-populist positions to...win the election? A candidate for office can only be judged on what he/she says he believes and says he will do, and on his/her track recrod. We have nothing else. In the case of Obama, we are supposed to believe he says and acts on motives other than his core beliefs for unstated other reasons. This is, I respectfully submit, nonsense. When he voted for the wiretap bill, he said he wanted to have all "necessary tools" at his disposal for an Obama presidency. When he calls for more "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, or for "missile strikes" in Pakistan, or "keeping the nuclear option on the table" in Iran, he means what he is saying. His vision is of an imperial America on the march, waging war in pursuit of unspecified "threats" with a bigger, better managed military. That vision includes domestic spying and austerity budgets for the foreseeable future. So where does this leave that part of America that opposes wars of aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, and the war on terror? Where does it leave people who want to resist domestic wiretapping or oppose sacrificing our futures for Wall Street profits? I know the drill: hold your nose and vote Democratic ...again. No, not this time, and never again. The majority of us do not have a dog in this billion-dollar electoral fight, and the majority will not vote at all, and why should they? If McCain wins, more war and more austerity. If Obama wins, even more war and even more austerity, but with no political opposition. By November 5, the same people will be controlling our lives, regardless of the election outcome. Real power never gets voted out of office. It must be confronted and overturned. -- P Jerome is a civil rights attorney in Washington, DC

Oaxaca: APPO Activists arrested for the murder of Brad Will

By Kristin Bricker NarcoNews

Mexican federal police arrested five Oaxacan activists on Thursday afternoon. At least two were arrested for supposedly murdering US citizen and Indymedia journalist Brad Will on October 27, 2006. Brad Will was assassinated while reporting and filming the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca. Multiple witnesses say he was shot by paramilitaries who are seen in photos shooting towards Will. The paramilitaries are: Juan Carlo Soriano, municipal police officer; Manuel Aguilar, council personnel chief; Able Santiago Zarate; and Pedro Carmona, mayor of Felipe Carrillo Puerto de Santa Lucia del Camino.

Brad Will shooters

The government claims that Will was shot at close range, therefore implicating the APPO activists around him. To prove this claim, the government at one point stated that the autopsy found powder burns on Will's body consistent with a close-range shooting. However, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy contradicted this claim, saying he did not find powder burns on Will's body. The man the government accuses of being the intelectual author of Will's murder is Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno. Martínez Moreno has supported the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials). Martínez Moreno made headlines in 2007 when he was kidnapped along with two other APPO members while performing election observation in Santa Lucía del Camino, where Will was murdered in October 2006. The kidnappers beat the three APPOistas severely in the face and abdomen under a bridge and then dumped them in a community 38 kilometers from Oaxaca City. Police also acknowledged arresting Octavio Perez Perez for covering up the crime. Perez participated in the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca. The Angry White Kid blog reports that three other activists have been arrested: Lirio Lopez, Miguel Lopez, and Guadalupe (last name unknown). It is unknown if these activists are also accused of Will's murder or if the arrests are part of a larger crackdown on dissent in Oaxaca. According to Angry White Kid: "Activists here first learned of the detention of Juan and joined his family this evening at the Penitenciaria Central de Santa Maria Ixcotel, Oaxaca. Juan's mother and wife have not been allowed in to see him. Later it was learned four others had been detained. A planton is planned at the Ixcotel penal beginning at 9am on Friday." APPO activists and members of the Indigenous Popular Council of Oaxaca (CIPO) say the government is blaming activists for Will's murder in order to cover up its own involvement in the crime.


Sexual Orientation

From: http://www.edgeofgrace.net

Unusually for me, a brief tangential comment on a political action.

I just discovered that a friend of mine, of deep religious persuasion, is enthusiastically in support of California’s Proposition 8, a voter initiative to amend their state constitution essentially to abolish same-sex marriages.

Without attempting to dive into the complex fray of the conflict among religious, social, political, and sexual beliefs, I just wanted to quote two authors who represent my views on sexual orientation. In this correspondence with other practitioners, Hermetic practitioner Rawn Clark writes,

Is homosexuality an Elemental imbalance?

It is only we humans who divide sexuality into hetero-, homo- and bi-. This has nothing to do with sexuality itself since all species that express sexuality, naturally express all three of these human-defined types. Sexuality is sexuality, period, and its sub-type is not a matter of differing Elemental balances.

Sexuality is an aspect of the mental body. As the mental body incarnates, it seeks out a life circumstance that best expresses its nature and which will lead to the learning of the lessons needed during that incarnation. It is fundamental and not a matter of mundane choice that arises during the incarnation itself. With the human being, each type of sexuality brings a specific set of life lessons because we are social creatures who live within the context of specific culture. In human culture, a homosexual faces a very different experience than a heterosexual.

Sexual orientation is not an issue of Elemental balance. Where Elemental balance comes into play is in the individual’s response to, and enactment of, their sexuality, whether that be hetero-, homo- or bisexuality. This is the arena of concern so far as the impact of sexual orientation upon the Hermetic path.

A heterosexual person is no more or less suited to spirituality and Hermetics than a homosexual and vise versa.

Can a Homosexual person advance in the path to perfection or is that something they have to overcome?

Homosexuality, like hetero- and bisexuality, is not something to be overcome. The path of self-perfecting is built upon being your true self as completely and as clearly as possible. Since sexuality and sexual orientation are fundamental qualities that an individual possesses, striving for perfection would necessarily include manifesting one’s sexuality in a self-defined positive way. This is true regardless of one’s sexual orientation, and the specific type of sexual orientation makes this process no harder or easier than another. In other words, homosexuality itself presents no unique barriers to following a spiritual path. A bi- or homosexual individual faces the same basic issues of positivizing their sexual expression as does a heterosexual individual.

It’s only a recent judgement that homosexuality is something to be “overcome”… In many cultures (native American, Hindu) homosexuality was either accepted without comment or considered a spiritual asset. In particular, the berdache (cross-dressing homosexual) of the native Americans generally took the roll of diviner, healer, or shaman.

This is true of the majority of earth-based cultures. I know of one such culture on the African continent who consider homosexuals to be the spiritual “gatekeepers”. The impact that Gay people have had throughout the ages upon human culture is largely unrecognized by the heterosexual majority. Gay culture and Gay people are a powerful force in human mimetic evolution. ["Mimetic evolution" is a scientific term for the evolution of ideas and culture. For humans, this aspect of evolution plays an especially important role in the survival of our species and is, in many cases, now superceding our genetic evolution.]

So in my “opinion” I suggest not only is homosexuality not a sin to overcome, but perhaps even that many homosexual people are more spiritually centered and complete in their nature. Likewise the fear based fundamentalist show a real lack of spiritual maturity.

In my experience, one’s sexual orientation has little to do with their centeredness or their sense of completeness. One advantage that the Gay person does have however, is a direct experience of the ugly under-belly of society. The advantage here is that there’s perhaps less to un-learn! But the same can be said of anyone who lives with a barrage of constant prejudice and discrimination, such as women, the “over-weight”, the physically deformed, people of color, etc., etc. The ones at a true disadvantage in this regard, are white heterosexual men! ;-)

And from Seth’s book The Nature of the Psyche: Its Human Expression, by Jane Roberts:

The love and cooperation that forms the basis of all life … shows itself in many ways. Sexuality represents one aspect, and an important one. In larger terms, it is as natural for a man to love a man, and for a woman to love a woman, as it is to show love for the opposite sex. For that matter, it is more natural to be bisexual. Such is the “natural” nature of the species …

Heterosexual love is one important expression of bisexuality, and sexually represents the reproductive abilities. Heterosexuality, however, rests upon the bisexual basis, and without man’s bisexual nature, the larger frameworks of the family — the clan, tribe, government, civilization — would be impossible.

… Deeper bonds of biological and spiritual love lie at the basis of all personal and cultural relationships, a love that transcends your ideas of sexuality. Heterosexual love, as it is understood at least, gives you a family of parents and children — an important unit, about which other groups form. If only stereotyped ideas of female-male relationships operated, however, there would be no bond or stimulus great enough to forge one family to another. The antagonism between males would be too great. Competition between females would be too severe. Wars would wipe out struggling tribes before any traditions were formed.

In the social world as in the microscopic one,, cooperation again is paramount. Only a basic bisexuality could give the species the leeway necessary, and prevent stereotyped behavior of a kind that would hamper creativity and social commerce. That basic sexual nature allows you the fulfillment of individual abilities, so that the species does not fall into extinction. Man’s recognition of his bisexual nature is, therefore, a must in his future.

There are, again, obvious differences between the sexes. They are insignificant, and appear large only because you concentrate so upon them. The great human qualities of love, strength, compassion, intellect and imagination do not belong to one sex or the other.

Only an understanding of this inherent bisexual nature will release those qualities in each individual, regardless of sex …

Any deep exploration of the self will lead you into areas that will confound conventional beliefs about sexuality. You will discover an identity, a psychological and psychic identity, that is in your terms male and female, one in which those abilities of each sex are magnified, released, and expressed. They may not be so released in normal life, but you will meet the greater dimensions of your own reality, and at least in the dream state catch a glimpse of the self that transcends a one-sex orientation.

Posted at 12:09 pm —

Help Stop President Bush’s Plan to Put 20,000 Bolivians Out of Work

President Bush, as part of his ongoing diplomatic feud with the government of Bolivia, has now decided to take aim at the jobs of more than 20,000 innocent Bolivian workers. It is a mistake – morally, diplomatically and economically. It adds one more episode of turning innocent people into collateral damage, from an administration that has delivered such damage in abundance.

We have to stop him.

A Trade Agreement Everyone Likes

Nearly two decades ago, under President Bush’s father, the U.S. began the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPDEA). That program offers Bolivia and a handful of other Latin American nations reduced U.S. tarriffs, allowing them to develop new industries and jobs exporting products such as textiles and handmade furniture. For the U.S., the aim is to create opportunities for employment as an to alternative to growing coca for the illegal drug market.

In September, as part of the Bush administration’s diplomatic battles with Bolivian President Evo Morales, President Bush announced that he will use his executive authority to axe Bolivia out of those trade preferences.

The actual victims of President Bush’s move, however, won’t be President Morales, but women and men who eke out modest livings as weavers, jewelry-makers and carpenters, creating products for U.S. markets. The U.S. Congress knows that, and just two weeks ago approved a six-month extension for Bolivia. But yesterday in Washington President Bush repeated his intent to sidestep Congress and use his powers to cut Bolivian workers out of the program.

Listen to the Voices of the People who Will be Affected by Bush’s Plan

We profiled some of these workers for our new book, Dignity and Defiance, and after President Bush’s announcement last month we traveled out across Bolivia to ask them how his threat would affect their lives. Today we have posted a five-minute video of their own words on our website. We hope that you will take a moment to listen to what they have to say, here.

We also demanded and won the right to have their video testimony from Bolivia played next week in Washington when the Bush administation holds the public hearing required by law before he implements his plan. Administration officials told us that this will be the first time that video testimony like this has been played in such a proceeding.

On October 23 in Washington, those officials will hear directly from people like Joaquín Aquino, a carpenter in his 50s who hand-makes furniture for the U.S. market and Natalia Alanoca Condori, a 28-year-old mother who makes clothing sold in American stores. These are the people, along with thousands others like them, who will be the real victims of President Bush’s actions against Bolivia.

What You Can Do to Help

We have an opportunity and an obligation to these workers to take action and help stop President Bush’s plan. Here are three simple ways that you can help:

1. Share this request for action with others

All across the United States there are people and organizations that care about making U.S. policy in Latin America more just. Help us spread the word about the need to act on this now, by forwarding this email to others.

2. Sign the Democracy Center’s online petition

You can directly add your voice to the campaign to stop President Bush’s threat against Bolivian workers. In less than sixty seconds right now you can add your name to an online petition that the Democracy Center will be submitting as part of the formal public record against Bush’s anti-Bolivia policy. Sign that petition here. If your organization wants to join the petition please send us an email telling us so at: Bolivia@democracyctr.org.

We need your petition endorsements no later than midnight October 30.

3. Submit Formal Comments to the Bush Administration

If you or your organization want to do more, federal law guarantees the right to submit formal comments to the Bush administration’s Trade Representative. To do that you must submit your comments by e-mail no later than 5pm on October 31. Those comments must be sent in the form of an attachment and must include the subject line, “Review of Bolivia’s Designation as a Beneficiary Country Under the ATPA and ATPDEA.” The address is: FR0812@ustr.eop.gov. You must also include in the attachment a cover letter with your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.

Even if we can’t make President Bush back down on his plan to put Bolivians out of work, taking action now helps build the case for Congress and the new President to reverse it. Those leaders need to see that people in the U.S. care about this issue.

Raising Up Voices from Latin America

President Bush’s move against the Bolivian people is just one more example of how we, as citizens, need to not only change leaders but also change the political winds that drive U.S. policy toward Latin America. To help do that the Democracy Center is launching a new campaign – Voices from Latin America.

Voices from Latin America marries new technology and old-fashioned organizing to build a bridge between citizens in the U.S. and Latin America. It is a platform from which we can work together to help educate one another and take joint action, like the one we are starting today on Bush’s assault on Bolivian workers. On the website you will find:

As citizens we have to be educated and involved in U.S foreign policy in ways that we never have before. That includes making sure that the people in other countries who are so affected by what the U.S. does have their voices heard in the U.S. Help us do that by visiting the Voices from Latin America web site.

Jim Schultz writes for the Democracy Center On-line

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lahde Quits Hedge Funds, Thanks `Idiots' for Success

[Thanks to Michael for this link] Letter: Andrew Lahde, Lahde Capital Management
Friday Oct 17 2008 13:15
continued from

There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success. However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award. The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list of those deserving thanks know who they are.

I will no longer manage money for other people or institutions. I have enough of my own wealth to manage. Some people, who think they have arrived at a reasonable estimate of my net worth, might be surprised that I would call it quits with such a small war chest. That is fine; I am content with my rewards. Moreover, I will let others try to amass nine, ten or eleven figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back, booked solid for the next three months, they lookforward to their two week vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their Blackberries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Balmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life.

So this is it. With all due respect, I am dropping out. Please do not expect any type of reply to emails or voicemails within normal time frames or at all. Andy Springer and his company will be handling the dissolution of the fund. And don't worry about my employees, they were always employed by Mr. Springer's company and only one (who has been well-rewarded) will lose his job.

I have no interest in any deals in which anyone would like me to participate. I truly do not have a strong opinion about any market right now, other than to say that things will continue to get worse for some time, probably years. I am content sitting on the sidelines and waiting. After all, sitting and waiting is how we made money from the subprime debacle. I now have time to repair my health, which was destroyed by the stress I layered onto myself over the past two years, as well as my entire life - where I had to compete for spaces in universities and graduate schools, jobs and assets under management - with those who had all the advantages (rich parents) that I did not. May meritocracy be part of a new form of government, which needs to be established.

On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal. First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have reigned in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government. Capitalism worked for two hundred years, but times change, and systems become corrupt. George Soros, a man of staggering wealth, has stated that he would like to be remembered as a philosopher. My suggestion is that this great man start and sponsor a forum for great minds to come together to create a new system of government that truly represents the common man's interest, while at the same time creating rewards great enough to attract the best and brightest minds to serve in government roles without having to rely on corruption to further their interests or lifestyles. This forum could be similar to the one used to create the operating system, Linux, which competes with Microsoft's near monopoly. I believe there is an answer, but for now the system is clearly broken.

Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to an alternative food and energy source. You won't see it included in BP's, "Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions," television commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM's similar commercials. But hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana and vice versa. Hemp is the male plant and it grows like a weed, hence the slang term. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. It was used as recently as World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after the war was won. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in this country? Ah, the female. The evil female plant - marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other addictive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers. This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on foreign energy sources. Our policies have other countries literally laughing at our stupidity, most notably Canada, as well as several European nations (both Eastern and Western). You would not know this by paying attention to U.S. media sources though, as they tend not to elaborate on who is laughing at the United States this week. Please people, let's stop the rhetoric and start thinking about how we can truly become self-sufficient.

With that I say goodbye and good luck.

All the best,

Andrew Lahde


Symptoms of Love, by Robert Graves

Love is universal migraine, A bright stain on the vision Blotting out reason. Symptoms of true love Are leanness, jealousy, Laggard dawns; Are omens and nightmares - Listening for a knock, Waiting for a sign: For a touch of her fingers In a darkened room, For a searching look. Take courage, lover! Could you endure such pain At any hand but hers?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I couldn't do it, by D.H. Pang

http://dhpang.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I got my absentee ballot this week, and I voted first on the state propositions because they matter more to me than any office. I left the presidential vote to the very end. When it came time for it, I just couldn't do it—I could not vote for Obama.

For me it is not about Obama vs. McCain. I consider each candidate on his or her own merits, not by comparison to the opponent. It basically came down to my conscience and Obama's own statements. I can't in good conscience vote for a candidate that supports military action in other countries. As Obama has repeatedly said, he will use military force in Pakistan if the government is unwilling or unable to combat the "militants," and he wants to increase our military presence in Afghanistan. When innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan begin to die as "collateral damage," I do not want blood on my hands.

Obama does not represent real change, as many of you believe. He definitely does not stand for the kind of change I want to see. He will not work to abolish the death penalty, institute same-sex marriage rights, get rid of the Federal Reserve and eliminate the federal income tax on wages (we wouldn't this kind of tax of we get rid of the Federal Reserve system), withdraw our troops from ALL military bases around the world, and put an end to the Electoral College, among many others. Therefore, why would I vote for a candidate that does not stand for my beliefs? Only to prevent the another candidate from winning? That's not a good enough reason for me. I do not vote out of fear nor guilt.

I voted for Ralph Nader/Matt Gonzales of the Peace and Freedom Party. And just in case you were wondering, if Nader was not on the ballot, I still would not have voted for Obama. Nader did not "steal" Obama's vote. Obama did not get my vote simply because he is not my candidate. I did not vote for the Green Party because I don't trust them anymore after what happened in 2004 (running a "safe" campaign to help Kerry win, which was unacceptable to me).

A very close friend of mine said that he feared Obama would win and then be a disappointment by turning out to be just another politician. I'm sorry to say, but I believe that is exactly what will happen. I really hope I'm wrong.

Blogged by D.H. Pang at 9:01 AM


Another third party!

[Thanks to Spunk Monkey for the scoop!]

UCSC Hosts Forum for Third-Party Platforms

Arianna Puopolo, Campus News Co-Editor

Third-party candidates found a forum for debate last Monday night in the Thimann 1 lecture hall at UC Santa Cruz. The debate, organized by the UCSC College Democrats, featured representatives from five of the six presidential candidates who will appear on the ballot next month.

The debate featured three sections: the economy, the wars/foreign policy and domestic policy. Each representative was given 90 seconds to respond to the questions, which were chosen by the moderator, with up to three 30-second rebuttals after.

Bill Anderson, representing Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, opened the floor with a Ron Paul endorsement, followed by a call to action.

“If you don’t like Ron Paul or Bob Barr I urge you, don’t vote at all,” he said.

This middle-aged Barr representative intends to write in Paul on the ballot come Election Day.

The Peace and Freedom Party’s Louis LaFortune spoke on behalf of Ralph Nader, several times expressing outrage at the war and U.S. foreign policy.

“There is no war on terror,” LaFortune said. “The U.S. is probably the biggest purveyor of terror in the world.”

Third-year student John Williams was not far behind, representing the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney.

Williams pushed his candidate’s policy of instating green jobs and eliminating corporate power over natural resources.

“We’ve allowed corporate interests to rape and pillage across the globe,” Williams said.

The event, in the 100-capacity lecture hall, had a good turnout, with an audience ready to ask questions. The representatives sat in a line in front of the audience, coincidentally left-to-right in line with each’s political stances.

Health care was an important issue on the agenda. LaFortune condemned the “pay-or-die system” that forces Americans into paying for expensive private insurance in order to have health care coverage.

“It’s a cliché,” he said. “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Obama representative and recent UCSC graduate Heather Stephens gave standard Obama answers, skirting the issue of same-sex marriage by citing separation of church and state.

“The traditional definition of marriage doesn’t have any place in these debates,” Stephens said.

Stephens worked on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign before the Democratic National Convention nominated Obama. She was optimistic about the Obama ticket’s capacity to effect change in this country.

“Change comes in excruciatingly tiny steps in our government,” she said.

Stephens defended Obama against criticism of his current stance on the economy.

“In a crisis like this one, we’re often confronted with a lot of bad choices,” she said.

McCain spokesperson Derrick Seaver, a member of the Santa Cruz County GOP Central Committee, defended his candidate in clear terms, arguing for nuclear power and the United States’ role as a global leader in the war on terror.

Amanda Ryland, a first-year politics major who attended the event, said she believes third-party candidates should have a chance to be involved in debates and politics.

“I didn’t know too much about the third-party candidates,” Ryland said. “I liked what they were saying, but I like what Barack Obama has to say better.”


Obama on Latin America

As Election Day draws near, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama repeatedly have focused their attention on such key foreign policy issues as the Iraq War and the global financial crisis. U.S. policy toward Latin America, on the other hand, has been notoriously absent from figuring in recent presidential debates or stump speeches, as both candidates seek to win over last-minute voters by reiterating their campaign platforms on domestic and foreign policy topics of high public concern. An exception to this was Obama’s brief reference to the Colombian government’s seeming indifference to the killing of labor leaders in that country with impunity, mentioned in the last presidential debate.

Nonetheless, Barack Obama has developed his policy agenda on U.S.-Latin American relations throughout the course of his presidential campaign. Beginning with an appearance at the Cuban-American National Foundation in May 2008, he set forth the proposal that the U.S. should foster a new era of hemispheric relations based upon mutual understanding and respect for national sovereignty. Similarly, the Senate voting record of vice presidential candidate Joe Biden reveals his position on regional matters, which over the years has seldom strayed from a standard approach to regional issues. This is not to suggest that there was a golden age sometime in the past when pundits came forth with erudite perceptions on how to advance enlightened U.S. regional policies fostering constructive engagement and a quest for equality and social justice.

The Obama Platform on Latin America America is not only a member of the hemispheric chorus, but a player as well. Barack Obama’s first serious effort at exhibiting a position on U.S. policy toward Latin America occurred in May 2008. Following an appearance at the Cuban-American National Foundation, a conservative Miami exile group, Obama released his 13-page “A New Partnership for the Americas” plan, which outlines three major regional policy issues that his administration would tackle if elected to office: (1) political freedom/democracy, (2) freedom from fear/security, and (3) freedom from want/opportunity.

Obama’s aim to foster political freedom within the hemisphere relies on the necessity of governments to address the needs of their people “in a democratic and sustainable way.” Obama has stated that he will promote the expansion and reform of democratic institutions, and has stressed that the U.S. must work with democratic-left governments (including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez). U.S.-Latin American relations under the Bush administration have languished as a result of “a misguided foreign policy with a myopic focus in Iraq…its policy in the Americas has been negligent to our friends,” Obama says. The U.S. must now re-establish a relationship with Latin America based on its willingness to promote democratic development, and abandon the tradition of supporting only those regimes which directly advance the U.S.’s narrowly defined national interests. In addition, according to the candidate, the U.S. must refrain from tying personal relationships to foreign policy initiatives, as epitomized by President Bush’s close ties with his ideological soul-mate, Colombia’s President Uribe. According to Obama, the strengthening of democracy will at its core address the protection of human rights, as well as support the rejection of de facto coups and autocratic practices. The U.S. will foster democratic institutions by strengthening democracy at home – habeas corpus will be restored, Guantanamo Bay will be closed, and torture and indefinite detention will end. Within Latin America, strong civil societies, accountable police forces, and organizational transparency will be promoted. Nonetheless, critics on the left of Obama’s Latin America program contend that his proposals neglect to effectively engage some of the most challenging new developments emerging in the hemisphere, despite the fact that Obama has attempted to break with prevailing U.S. policy toward the region in several fundamental ways.

Obama views Cuba as a case in point for the strengthening of democratic institutions in the Americas. He will work to free up the sending of remittances from family members in the U.S. to relatives on the island and the right to travel to the island by Cuban-Americans. He believes that the “empower[ment] of the Cuban people” should be prioritized in order to reduce their dependence upon the regime. Yet, Obama does not support a clear end to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, which he believes should remain in place to act as leverage in encouraging positive democratic change on the island. This same sense of caution reflects his thinking on Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela for which he has used somewhat harsh language to distance his campaign from Chavez’s fierce populism. With respect to U.S.-Cuba relations, critics of Obama’s Latin America platform cite that the Democratic candidate is lagging well behind the leading edge of revisionist thinking on the issue now taking place in this country.

Criminality According to Obama, U.S.-Latin American security policy should focus on the issues of transnational gangs, violence, drugs, and organized crime. Gang activity has proliferated throughout the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and into Mexico, and its impact has spilled over into U.S. civil society. The Democratic presidential candidate says he will step up U.S. security efforts in Central America to stem the flow of gang-related crime and narcotrafficking, as well as formulate regional strategic cooperation on personal security issues. The professionalizing of the police and judicial branches of these countries should be emphasized, corruption targeted for abatement, and a hemispheric pact on security issues signed. In breaking with more traditional views of U.S.-Latin American policy, which tend to view drug and arms trafficking, illegal immigration, and gang activity as agenda items which must be addressed by the U.S.’s southern neighbors, Obama realizes the need to create a “comprehensive strategy on regional crime that addresses the U.S.’s contribution to the problem.”

In dealing with security measures, Obama highlights the crucial roles of Mexico and Colombia in promoting regional cooperation. Mexico plays a central role in the production and shipment of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines; Obama supports the continuation and expansion of the newly implemented Merida Initiative in order to roll back rampant violence, corruption, and drug and arms trafficking throughout the region. He believes that security cooperation should extend beyond U.S.-Central American relations to include further security measures developed in the rest of Latin America. He has committed himself to combat the Mexican drug cartels, and establish relations with other Latin American countries to decrease both the supply and demand for drugs. Additionally, he supports the continuance of U.S. aid to Colombia to fight narcotrafficking and strengthen civilian institutions. He also has defended Colombia’s recent incursion into a FARC guerrilla camp based in Ecuador, stating that Colombia has a “right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders.” Commentators argue that Obama has ignored the human rights violations countenanced by the Uribe government as well as its highly qualified and quasi-democratic regime, which include scandals involving both his own political party and right-wing death squads that still operate in the country.

Barack Obama’s stance on economic development in the Western Hemisphere centers on an increase in U.S. foreign aid, vocational training, micro-finance, and community development-which is little better than a conservative development plan. He will attempt to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, will work to decrease the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and increase global education. He will cancel the debts of Paraguay, Guyana, St. Lucia, Bolivia, Haiti, and Honduras, as well as those of other countries around the world which have been designated as “heavily-indebted poor countries.” Obama will seek to reform the IMF and World Bank, and establish fair trade that promotes labor and environmental standards. In addition, the WTO will be encouraged to enforce mutually advantageous trade agreements. Obama opposed CAFTA and a U.S.-Colombia FTA, and will seek to amend the provisions of NAFTA to increase its benefits for American workers.

The Democratic candidate believes that the U.S. immigration system must be reformed by creating tighter border security and ensuring a just path to citizenship which “reaffirm[s] our heritage as a nation of immigrants.” He seeks to work with Latin America on addressing climate change and energy security, taking particular note of expanding the partnership with Brazil to share technology, develop markets for biofuels, and create greener methods of energy consumption. Other important measures that the Obama administration must deal with include the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and the fight against deforestation through economic incentives.

What about Joe Biden?

Several of Barack Obama’s proposals consistently agree with those long entertained by Joe Biden. Like Obama, Biden disagrees with the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. He believes that the rules of NAFTA must be reformed, and has opposed the FTA with Central America. Biden asserts that free trade agreements must include provisions for labor rights and environmental standards, echoing Obama’s arguments for fair trade. Washington Post staffer Marcela Sanchez’s recent article reports Biden’s concern over the rampant inequality faced throughout Latin American society, an issue also addressed by Obama in his “A New Partnership for the Americas” plan. According to Sanchez, Biden maintains that he “has fought to address the root cause of the…instability that has plagued the region, particularly in recent years: social inequality.”

On immigration reform, Obama and Biden seek to increase border security as well as enact provisions to absorb undocumented workers and their families presently living in the U.S. Similarly, both voted to create a 700-mile long fence along the U.S.-Mexico border under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Biden and Obama agree that the U.S. should ease up on restrictions limiting remittances and travel to Cuba for Cuban-Americans, as well as promote the development of small business on the island, without actually lifting the embargo. Both Biden and Obama are supporters of continued aid to Colombia, under the terms of Plan Colombia.

Analysis of the Democratic Platform: A Brighter Future for U.S.- Latin American Relations? Public reactions to the Latin American component of the Democratic platform have been mixed. On one side, supporters of Obama have asserted that his stance on Latin America represents a fundamental break with the rigidity of past U.S. policies toward the region, a move which will cause the U.S. to view Latin America less as a junior partner with only localized military security issues and more as a sovereign highly pluralized neighbor that insists on autonomy. The Democrats emphasize that in the age of globalization, the U.S. cannot afford to nurture failed policies that treat Latin America solely as a strategic playing field for parochial U.S. regional interests narrowly defined. In the words of The Huffington Post’s Laura Carlsen, “U.S. relations with Latin America can no longer be seen as a regional foreign policy box.” President Bush has abandoned Latin America to concentrate on the promotion of U.S. national interests in the Middle East. An example of this is the lack of sufficient quality time allocated to allow for the full flowing of substantive development in relations between the U.S. and Latin America, which has created a power vacuum that has been filled by strong, often intensely ideological figures such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, both populist politicians who have sought greater innovation and experimentation for Latin America as a function of the region’s reaction to George Bush’s unpopular presidency. To Obama’s Latin Americanist supporters, now is the time to communicate to the hemisphere that the U.S. must foster greater and more freely given political, economic, and security cooperation in a policy based on equality, respect, and mutuality.

Obama’s “A New Partnership for the Americas” plan reflects Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, delivered in the wake of World War II and meant to provide a world vision based on political and religious freedom, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Roosevelt’s presidency was responsible for the formulation of the Good Neighbor Policy; by constructing his Latin American platform upon FDR’s legacy in the region, Obama has shown a willingness to foster a more cooperative and perhaps a more creative era for hemispheric relations. The Good Neighbor Policy grappled with issues of national sovereignty and development, renounced military intervention, and gave Latin America ample space to establish its own reforms free of heavy-handed U.S. interference accompanied by brazen diktats. Supporters of Obama’s pledge toward Latin America foresee that Obama’s initiatives and spirit could begin to reverse the U.S.’s reputation as the “colossus of the north,” ushering in an updated version of the Good Neighbor Policy that could carry U.S.-Latin American relations to a new level of sustainability and hemispheric autonomy, if he decided to do so.

Others are not so sure that an Obama administration would be willing or able to form a comprehensive, functional strategy with respect to U.S.-Latin American relations that will not be held hostage by some of the extremist ideologies found to be at work in Miami and exile centers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Obama chose Joe Biden as his running mate due to his foreign policy expertise. Despite the fact that Biden has played a key role in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he only has traveled to Latin America on four occasions. As for Obama, he never has even been to Latin America. Biden states that NAFTA should be renegotiated and opposed FTAs with Chile, Peru, and Central America on the grounds that they failed to incorporate proper environmental and labor standards. Nevertheless, his critics fairly or unfairly argue that Biden is just pandering to the sectarian interests of U.S. labor unions. While Biden was campaigning for his presidential bid in 2006, he called Mexico an “erstwhile democracy” and a “corrupt system” that can be blamed for fostering illegal immigration and wielding a chaotic role in narcotrafficking. Biden’s statement, while containing more than a grain of truth, largely ignores the fact that the U.S. contributes to the illegal immigration and drug trafficking phenomena through the exploitation of grossly underpaid migrant workers needed for “cheap labor” enterprises in the U.S. and the insatiable domestic demand for illegal narcotics.

Obama supports the extension of the Merida Initiative to create a more comprehensive regional security bloc within the Western Hemisphere. The Merida Initiative was proposed by President Bush as the keystone of his U.S.-Central America security plan, and is focused on the provision of military and police aid to Mexico (with much smaller amounts to Central American countries) to fight organized crime and drug cartels. It is a complete truism that the military and legal structures in Mexico and Central America have suffered from a history of corruption and human rights abuses, and critics of current U.S. policy argue that increasing military aid to the region only increases the capacity of local authorities to abuse power of an already deeply flawed law enforcement system. The Merida Initiative is in many ways similar to Plan Colombia, which provides military and police aid to fight narcotrafficking and organized crime there. In Colombia, human rights and labor violations have been committed by the military and paramilitary groups on a massive scale; the vast majority of the aid granted to Colombia by the U.S. is utilized for military purposes, and only a small fraction of Plan Colombia’s funds are allocated to the protection of human rights. Biden has voiced his support of Plan Colombia, and Obama seeks to continue the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, stating that “we need to continue efforts to support Colombia in a way that also advances our interests and is true to our values.”

It remains unclear, however, whether Senator Biden is even aware of the vast corruption of the Uribe presidency, the continued human rights violations that the present regime sanctions, and the autocratic tendencies chronically exhibited by Uribe, who is hardly a democratic figure. This is why last night’s reference to Colombia by Obama was so important. In 2007, he also had sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stating that the U.S. must balance its military aid to Colombia with social and economic reforms. Nevertheless, four recent letters (two to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one to then-Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, and one to President Uribe himself) regarding human rights abuses in Colombia lacked his endorsement.

Obama has stated that he will open dialogue with democratic-left regimes to instill the notion throughout the Western Hemisphere that the U.S. will operate without an ideological litmus test, nor will it only engage with Latin America only when Washington considers U.S. national interests at play. Critics argue that Obama’s policy proposals toward Latin America are at times muddled – at the same time that Obama supports unqualified dialogue with leftist hemispheric governments, he defends Colombia’s raid on a guerrilla camp in Ecuador to track down members of FARC. Such an act on Bogota’s behalf has been viewed by a number of Latin American left-leaning regimes as well as some OAS members as a violation of international law and Ecuadorian national sovereignty. But Obama has insisted that Bogota has a right to go beyond its national borders to weed out terrorists who seek refuge in order to attack Colombia. Likewise, Obama promotes an extension of the Merida Initiative, but fails to mention that Colombia and Mexico–new prime recipients of U.S funds, are the two principal conservative governments in Latin America and are the only ones likely to be interested in such an initiative. While Obama may support discourse with democratic-left regimes, it is unclear whether he will be able to reach consensus in negotiating policy initiatives with Latin America’s more left-leaning governments, through a willingness to make meaningful concessions. Obama presents an invitation to create a new partnership with Latin America, but cites Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico as examples of countries with which the U.S. will forge new economic, political, and security ties. There is barely enough here for regional leaders to even take note of. Obama may not be so quick to partner with such candidates as Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia in strengthening U.S.-Latin American relations, whatever his new open door policy may seem to be.

Final Conclusions While the complete nature of Obama’s Latin American platform remains to be seen, there is no doubt that Obama’s stance on hemispheric affairs will differ from that of the Bush White House, but not so much from Clinton’s regional policy which was barely discernable from Reagan-era area policy. At the same time, the Democratic nominee does not appear to be particularly sure-footed on regional affairs, and could disappoint avid U.S. Latin Americanists now associated with the Democratic Party. Drawing on the ideologies of FDR’s “Four Freedoms,” Obama could represent a break with the failed policies of the past. Obama has underscored the idea that the U.S. should be prepared to enter into dialogue with every nation in the region, be it friend or foe. Through it all, he has maintained his posture that the U.S. should speak to regional leaders without preconditions, despite outspoken criticism from right-leaning U.S.-based Cuban and Venezuelan exile groups. Yet, at other times he appears to hedge on this position.

Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as his running mate raises many questions as to the ultimate pertinacity of Obama’s policy initiatives toward the region. Professor Greg Weeks, an innovative analyst based at the University of North Carolina has characterized Biden as “Mr. Status Quo” with respect to U.S. policy toward Latin America, and as such he may present a challenge to the implementation of the liberal reforms Obama has promised as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. At the same time, Biden and Obama have agreed on a variety of key issues with respect to the area. As Biden’s foreign policy experience lies primarily within the realm of Middle Eastern affairs, he may prove responsive to approaching Washington’s dealings with Latin America in a new and more imaginative approach.

Yet, it must also be remembered that U.S. authorities traditionally have sought to promote this country’s own national interests as projected onto Latin America, and not necessarily those of intrinsic interest to Latin America. In this respect, take the issue of Honduran President Zelaya’s extremely bold statement of a long overdue position on drug legislation after having met up with the U.S. philanthropist George Soros. Though Obama asserts that he will encourage a new era of U.S.-Latin American cooperation built on respect for sovereign governments, nevertheless, he will be forced to contend with competing influences in Washington which favor the maintenance of the U.S.’s current stance within the region, particularly in dealing with Cuba and Venezuela, and a prejudice in favor of orthodox development strategies.

Obama’s choice of Greg Craig as a foreign policy adviser may prove to be a valuable asset to his administration’s policy potential in formulating a more rational and innovative approach toward Latin America. Craig has voiced support for a multilateral approach toward dealing with the region, as well as stressed the need to encourage free elections and the recognition of democratic governments. Craig also has sought to promote fair trade standards that consider the heavy social costs of free market economics, and he favors hemispheric ties over bilateral agreements. He would have the Obama government concentrate on education, health care, poverty, and other social justice issues as major U.S. policy concerns within Latin America, instead of focusing mainly on traditional concerns such as trade opportunities, narrowly defined security interests, and northward drug flows. According to COHA Research Associates Michael Katz and Chris Sweeney, Craig can provide the vision that “Washington needs in order to mend the divide between the U.S. and the new left in Latin America” (see COHA’s “Obama Adviser Greg Craig: A Man of Merit,” August 19, 2008).

Dan Restrepo, an Obama senior adviser on Western Hemispheric affairs, has argued that the U.S. must work toward a “partnership with countries throughout the Americas so that democracy, opportunity, and security” are broadcast everywhere in the region. Like adviser Greg Craig, he asserts that the U.S. must encourage fair trade agreements throughout the region. Like Obama, he opposes the ratification of a U.S.-Colombia FTA, citing human rights abuses and violence committed against labor leaders as factors which must be considered in the negotiation of free trade deals. Greater opportunity for Latin America should come through “bottom-up” strategies of economic and social improvement.

If Obama is elected, the strengths and weaknesses of his policies toward Latin America will rely upon his ability to remain committed to a broad-range approach to the region in spite of conflicting interest groups and pressures. Whether he will move to the conservative or liberal side of his platform depends on his capability to work against tendencies resisting change among Washington policymakers. The policy position of the extreme right will remain clustered around Senator McCain’s Latin American adviser, the aptly designated Otto Reich; simultaneously, Obama will be forced to deal with moderate Clinton Democrats who favor free trade policies and a relatively hard line approach towards Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela.

Obama’s promises to induce reform with respect to the U.S.’s stance on Latin America provide hope for regional cooperation, and offer a chance to turn the tide on the U.S.’s hitherto flawed position in its relationship with the countries south of its border. Historically, presidential candidates often make promises just to get into office, and then fail to honor them. Given that Latin American issues are rarely critical to U.S. presidential campaigns, Obama’s proposals may prove to be empty, or they may in fact offer the possibility of a real change in hemispheric relations. Colombia offers an excellent opportunity for Obama to distinguish between President Uribe’s faux democracy and the real thing. In this instance it becomes symbolic of what could prove to be a real distinction behind Obama’s regional policy.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns

Breaking the Sound Barrier: Third-Party Candidates Ralph Nader & Cynthia McKinney Respond to Final McCain-Obama Debate

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain met last night for the final debate before the November 4th presidential election, sparring over the economy, tax policy, negative campaigning, trade agreements, abortion and the educational system. As with the other debates, third-party candidates were not invited to participate. We break the sound barrier and hear from Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney and independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential nominee. Former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia.

Ralph Nader, Independent presidential candidate. He is a longtime consumer advocate and corporate critic.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Senators Barack Obama and John McCain met last night for the final debate before the November 4th presidential election. It was held at Hofstra University on Long Island in New York.

Prior to the ninety-minute face-off, police arrested fifteen protesters in a peaceful demonstration outside the university led by Iraq Veterans Against the War. One veteran, Nick Morgan, was hospitalized after being trampled by a police horse. Video shot at the scene showed Morgan lying on the ground by a pool of blood. The arrests took place less than an hour before Barack Obama and John McCain took the stage.

During the debate, the Iraq war was barely mentioned. The war in Afghanistan never came up. Instead, the two candidates sparred over the government’s plans to rescue the financial system, tax policy, negative campaigning, trade agreements, abortion and the educational system.

AMY GOODMAN: As with the other debates, third-party candidates were not invited to participate. But today on Democracy Now!, we will break the sound barrier by giving some of those candidates a chance to respond to last night’s questions.

Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney joins us in Atlanta, and independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader joins us on the phone. We invited Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin, but they couldn’t join us. So, they will answer the same questions put to the major party candidates.

We begin with CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, the moderator of last night’s debate.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential nominee, you have two minutes to give us your view of the financial crisis and why your plan would be better.

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: Thank you very much. First of all, let me thank you for inviting me to be with you, and also I’d like to thank Trevor Lyman of thirdpartyticket.com, who has also organized any event, a debate, a third-party debate on October 19th from 7:00 to 9:00, and I will be participating.

I’ve put together a fourteen-point plan, which is available on our website runcynthiarun.org. And in those fourteen points is included a elimination of adjustable rate mortgages, predatory lending, and any of the discriminatory practices that helped to fuel the crisis that we’re experiencing. In addition to that, I also call for the elimination of derivatives trading, which is one of the major problems.

I also call for David Walker to—who is the former Comptroller General of the United States, to oversee all of the entities that have received taxpayer funding. He is the one who was in charge of auditing the United States government and basically left in disgust because people in the Congress and in the White House were not listening to his admonitions.

I also call for the nationalization of the Federal Reserve and the establishment of a banking system, a nationalized banking system, that really responds to the needs of people and our country. Our country needs investment in infrastructure, in manufacturing and in greening our economy, and that could be accomplished through such a banking system that belongs to the American people.

And then I would also just like to say I agree that US corporations should not receive tax subsidies for moving jobs overseas, and that’s a piece of legislation that I actually introduced when I was in the Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, your solution for the economic crisis and why your plan is better than these other candidates’?

RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, they had—Washington had Wall Street over a barrel, and they didn’t enact legislation in that $700-plus billion bailout to prevent this from happening again. So there should be in the future, very near future, a comprehensive re-regulation of financial services industry. It was deregulation that opened the doors under Clinton for this wild orgy of excess, as Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve in Dallas called it.

We need to provide more power to the shareholders—mutual funds, worker pension funds and others—to control the companies that they own and control the bosses so that this doesn’t happen again.

We need widespread criminal prosecution of these corporate crooks and swindlers. There were lots of deceptive practices, cover-ups and conflicts of interest involved in selling this phony paper around the country and the world.

And we need, if there’s going to be taxpayer injection in these—in financial institutions, the taxpayers should not only have ownership, proportional ownership, but should have representatives on the board. Right now, it’s a very porous and very ineffective provision in the bill.

But above all, we need to make the speculators pay for their own bailout. And that can be done by a one-tenth of one percent tax on derivatives transactions, which this year will be $500 trillion worth. So, one-tenth of one percent will produce $500 billion; two-tenths of one percent will produce a trillion dollars. And that is only fair. So, what’s important here is there’s nothing spectacularly new about a derivatives tax. The stock tax transaction helped to fund the Civil War. Franklin Delano Roosevelt used it. Some European countries have it now. People in New York and elsewhere go into a store and pay six, seven percent sales tax for necessities of life. But someone today on Wall Street will buy $100 million of Exxon derivatives and pay nothing.

We also need a major public works program to stem the slide into a deeper recession, to rebuild America.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re over time. We’re going to break, and when we come back, we’ll move on with this debate between Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama and John McCain. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez and CBS’s Bob Schieffer, as we expand the presidential debate with Barack Obama, John McCain, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader. Bob Schieffer?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Cynthia McKinney, two minutes on your views on the tone of the campaign and some of the exchange between Senator McCain and Senator Obama about John Lewis?

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: Well, I would rather give my impressions of what differentiates the campaigns of independent and third-party candidates, and that is, I believe that we talk about the issues. Former Comptroller General David Walker said that now is a time that this country needs leadership, not lagship. But unfortunately, we’re getting more lagship than leadership.

For example, the issues that I’ve been talking about as I’ve gone around this country have been the tremendous impact that the Bush tax cuts have had on income inequality in our country. The sad fact of the matter is that we are experiencing the kind of income inequality not experienced since the Great Depression.

In addition to that, I’ve been talking about the need to repeal the PATRIOT Acts, so that we can safeguard our civil liberties, protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’ve also been talking about the death penalty, because, of course, in the state in which I was born, we have a young man who—for whom a death date has been set, and he’s had seven witnesses to recant their testimony in a trial. We need to talk about justice in this country. And I’m talking about the case of Troy Davis. We do need to talk about the administration of the death penalty.

It’s interesting that, categorically, I support single-payer, and I believe that Ralph Nader does, as well. We make no bones about our support for a single-payer healthcare system in this country. And just last week, 5,000 physicians wrote a letter, and they said that it was the only morally responsible, as well as fiscally responsible solution to the healthcare problems that face our country.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader—

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: So—

AMY GOODMAN: That’s two minutes, Cynthia McKinney. Ralph Nader, your response?

RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, the reason why the press covers the lowest common denominator of gaffes or tactics or horse races or what someone said in a crowd is because Obama and McCain do not open up in their discussion day after day significant issues such as Cynthia McKinney just alluded to. You know, they say the same thing day after day after day, and so the press has to have a cheap lede, and they go with these gaffes or these diversions. If McCain and Obama really opened up all the huge variety of redirections and reforms and what’s going on in the country and allied themselves with local—local citizen groups who are fighting for justice, there would be news every day, and the reporters would not be as inclined to headline these gaffes or these so-called smears from different supporters of Obama and McCain. So it’s a combined responsibility of the candidates who open up this kind of foolishness and silly coverage, because they’re so redundant, they’re so ditto heads on the campaign trail.

And when we campaign all over the country in Nader-Gonzalez, there are all kinds of issues in Florida, in Washington state, in Hawaii, in Colorado, people struggling for clean environment, civic accountability, people going after toxic waste dumps and lack of a living wage. That’s where I would stand. And there needs to be many, many more debates, not these silly parallel interviews by a debate commission that is controlled by the two parties and keeps competition off the stage, in terms of third-party independent candidates. More and more debates will provide more substance, and more and more candidates on those stages who have been qualified on many state ballots—

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, that’s your two minutes. Thanks so much. For the first time in the debate last night, Senator McCain raised the issue of Senator Barack Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers, the University of Illinois professor, former member of the Weather Underground.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph Nader, one minute, your response, especially to the issue of ACORN, because this has now become a major issue as to whether there’s voter fraud or voter suppression going on in this election.

RALPH NADER: First of all, ACORN has done tremendously good work over the years with low-income people in city after city. When they go into big-time voter registration, things happen. Some people may get enthusiastic. They don’t control some of the new people they hire. And this happens. It should not besmirch the overwhelmingly good work on economic justice and voice to low-income people.

Second, on the Bill Ayers thing, who is a lapsed small-time saboteur with the Weather Underground many years ago, what should have been said was the big-time terrorists, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, these are clinically verifiable mass terrorists who have killed innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in their criminal wars of aggression. These are criminal wars of aggression. These are war crimes. These are war criminals. They have killed over a million Iraqi civilians as a result of that criminal invasion. That’s where the discussion should have focused on. The big-time terrorists, the state terrorists in the White House who have violated our Constitution, our statutes and our international treaties, and have been condemned even by the American Bar Association for a continual violence of our—violation of our Constitution.

AMY GOODMAN: Cynthia McKinney?

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that’s not the case.

There’s something else that’s a bit more troubling. I’ve also been talking about election integrity as I’ve gone across this country. But, you know, I really don’t like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people.

In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn’t work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren’t familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000.

In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren’t even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes.

And now we’ve got voter ID laws across the country, and we’ve got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files.

So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to move on right now to the issue of free trade. John McCain.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph Nader, two minutes, your response on free trade?

RALPH NADER: There’s no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn’t determine the costs. There’s no free collective bargaining for workers. That’s a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There’s no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There’s no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions.

Second, these—NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature.

That’s what we’ve got to do. And our website, votenader.org, has ample information on this process.

AMY GOODMAN: In order to get to the next subject, we’re going to go right now to Cynthia McKinney on this, then we go to break and one more topic. Cynthia McKinney?

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: Great. I agree with Nader that we need to repeal NAFTA and all of those so-called free trade agreements, but they are—they don’t constitute fair trade.

And with respect to Colombia, I can say that not only have I been to Colombia, I have seen the devastation of the militarization of our policy, particularly with Colombia, and the displacement particularly of the Afro-Colombian communities across that country.

In addition, I would say that as a result of the unfair elections that have been held, particularly in Uribe, where there—in Colombia, where Uribe was elected, there should have been an Afro-Colombian woman elected as president. Her name was Piedad Cordoba. But instead of being elected, she was kidnapped, and she was forced out of the country. Now she’s back in Colombia serving as a united—as a Colombian senator.

What we must encourage is a relationship with countries around the world, where we engage in fair trade, not free trade; we pay a fair price for the resources and other things that we need; we respect human rights, labor rights, environmental rights; and we repeal these agreements that have been implemented so far.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break, then come back for our last subject. Cynthia McKinney, John McCain, Ralph Nader and Barack Obama. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re breaking the sound barrier. Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez and Bob Schieffer.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Cynthia McKinney, your message—since this is now what will be known as the Joe the plumber debate, your message to Joe the plumber, in one minute?

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: Well, basically, I would say that the Green Party has four pillars on which all of its policy recommendations lie. And that is, they are social justice, ecological wisdom, peace and grassroots democracy. So that means that our foreign policy, our domestic policy, our public policy, in general, would focus on the well-being of the people, on the well-being of this planet.

We would also make sure that we would follow in the footsteps of the legislation that I introduced when I was in the Congress. For example, that legislation taking away the tax breaks for corporations that take their jobs overseas, we also wanted to make sure that US corporations were actually forced to abide by US regulations with respect to labor and environment and human rights. We also introduced the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act that sought to safeguard and actually restore our national forests. This is the kind of public policy that our country needs.

We also need an energy policy. War is not an acceptable energy policy. But certainly, if Canada can satisfy all of their space heating needs with solar energy, then so, too, can we. And I’d love to see the old buildings that have been abandoned in community after community across this country become teeming centers of employment so that people are actually able to manufacture the green technology that this country needs in order to relieve us of our dependence on oil. We don’t need to drill.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, your response to Joe the plumber?

RALPH NADER: Well, obviously, say, Joe the plumber, you don’t have to worry about paying for health insurance, because it would be full Medicare for all, and business would not have to pay. It would be an obligation of the government to provide full health insurance. It’s much more efficient. Free choice of doctor and hospital, quality and cost control on the private delivery of healthcare. It’s supported by a majority of the people and a majority of the physicians in a recent poll, 59 percent of them.

We also say to Joe plumber that we’re going to revise the tax system so we tax things we—society likes the least or dislikes the most before we tax human labor. That is, a securities derivative tax. We tax gambling industry more, addictive industry more, corporate crime and pollution, like a carbon tax.

Notice, throughout the debate, so-called, between Obama and McCain, they avoided anything that would challenge corporate power. They didn’t talk about a crackdown on corporate crime. They didn’t talk about ending corporate welfare. They didn’t talk about cutting the huge bloated military budget of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. They didn’t talk about shifting this into a major public works program to repair America at the community level.

What we’re seeing today on your program is how a larger frame of reference should have been given to tens of millions of people, what Cynthia McKinney and I have been denied reaching. That’s why we want to give your listeners our website. Our website is votenader.org. And you can all donate to Cynthia McKinney’s campaign, the Green Party, and to the Nader/Gonzalez campaign. We’re having a big—

AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to have to leave it there.

RALPH NADER: —super rally on Wall Street at noon today, super rally on Wall Street.

AMY GOODMAN: Super rally on Wall Street at noon. And will you also be at the debate on Sunday night, third-party debate at Columbia University?

RALPH NADER: Well, I just heard about it after you told me about it last night, and—Amy, and I’ve got to look at the schedule and see.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, if—

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: I’m with Trevor—I’m with Trevor Lyman at the thirdpartyticket.com from 7:00 to 9:00 on October 19th.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll put information on our website, because supposedly I will be moderating this debate if it does happen, and we’ll let our viewers and listeners know.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Candidate Sergio Farias stands with workers, immigrants

PSL candidate Sergio Farias stands with workers, immigrants

'People want to be treated equally'

As the elections creep closer, the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s Sergio Farias campaign for San Juan Capistrano City Council keeps going strong. Farias spoke at three local candidate debates in two weeks, reaching hundreds of San Juan’s residents with the message of socialism. One of the forums will be broadcast to millions of Orange County viewers by the local cable television provider.

Sergio Farias The Farias campaign stands out as the lone voice for working-class and oppressed people in SJC.

At the Oct. 2 forum, held by the League of Women Voters, Farias distinguished his working-class program from those of the bourgeois candidates. On the question of "Why is SJC’s large Latino population disengaged from the political process; and what can be done to change that," Farias cited racist intimidation, police harassment and the anti-gang injunction as primary reasons.

"People want to be treated equally; there should not be any more racism or apartheid conditions tolerated by the city," Farias said. "Latinos and all immigrants must be entitled to full rights in San Juan and beyond."

This starkly contrasted with far-right candidate Laura Freese’s answer. She pressed for more brutal enforcement of immigration and anti-gang laws. Tellingly, Freese referred to all Latinos as "illegals," and blamed immigrants for San Juan’s infrastructure problems, including "overcrowding" and "clogged sewers." Incumbent council member Sam Allevato also spewed racist contempt for Latinos. His sweeping answer cast the entire Latino community as "gang members" and "criminals." Allevato is a retired sheriff’s deputy, who only cares about creating equestrian trails for San Juan’s rich elite. Farias sharply rebuked these reactionary answers.

The next week, Farias continued to strike out at the ruling political establishment in a candidate forum held at a local mobile home park in danger of being closed down by greedy landlords.

His response to questions about affordable housing—"Free housing should be a right for all; evictions and foreclosures must stop now"—was well received by the crowd.

The Farias campaign is receiving wide coverage each week in the Orange County Register, the county’s largest paper, and the local Capistrano Dispatch. Farias, along with the other city council candidates, respond to questions about their respective visions of San Juan and various political topics, such as "How would you solve poverty in San Juan?" or "Is the gang injunction working?"

The Farias campaign stands out as the lone voice for working-class and oppressed people. What is significant is the amount of credible coverage the Farias campaign is getting. Farias is regularly recognized on the street in San Juan and is known throughout the Latino community as an organizer and the "go to" person if there is a problem with racist police or immigration officials.

His campaign again validates the PSL’s intervention in the bourgeois elections. Through the Farias campaign, the PSL is fighting the reactionary capitalists using a mechanism they claim as exclusive and sacred—the electoral process.

Door-to-door canvassing, mainly targeting San Juan’s oppressed Latino neighborhoods and working-class mobile home parks, will continue in the final weeks before the election.

Sergio Farias and PSL presidential candidate Gloria La Riva will speak at a public forum for immigrant rights and against racism at the Lacouague Building (31411 La Matanza Street, San Juan Capistrano) on Oct. 26 at 4 p.m.


PSL Lucilla Esguerra campaign fights for workers' rights

'It's simple. I'm a socialist.'

The campaign of 19-year-old Lucilla Esguerra is picking up steam. Esguerra, the Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate for California State Assembly, District 48, has been featured on Kababayan L.A., a Filipino American television show that reaches millions of Filipino immigrants.

Lucilla Esguerra Lucilla Esguerra's campaign has organized numerous street meetings in her majority Black and Latino district.

An excellent article about her inspiring campaign blazed the front page of the Philippine News, the country’s oldest and most widely circulated newspaper for Filipino Americans. Writer Pasckie Pascua described Esguerra’s campaign succinctly: "Her ambitions are simple and realistic but right on target; her words don’t mince around rhetorical bombast and oratorical histrionics that rule traditional politics—she hits it straight, no qualms, no chasers in between."

Esguerra explains Pascua’s description of her campaign: "It is simple. I’m a socialist candidate. My party, the PSL, is right on target for working-class people. That’s who live in my district; that’s who I want to speak for. My campaign demands jobs, free housing, free health care and an end to police brutality and immigrant bashing."

In contrast, her opponent, incumbent Mike Davis (D), has never spoken out for immigrant rights and rarely even makes appearances in the district. One District 48 resident, Ana, said: "It seems like Davis is on permanent vacation in Sacramento with the other professional politicians. I’ve never seen him anywhere near my home or workplace."

Esguerra’s campaign has been endorsed by a slew of Filipino American activists and community organizations, including the Alliance for Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, GABRIELA Network, Justice for Filipino American Veterans, Echo Park Community Coalition, Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights, the Filipino Workers’ Center, and more. Many of these groups spoke on her behalf at a kick-off meeting on Labor Day, attended by dozens of activists and trade unionists.

Street meetings in Esguerra’s majority Black and Latino district have been a staple of her campaign for weeks. One recent street event focused on the bankers’ bailout. Esguerra and campaign activists spoke to a long line of African Americans waiting to pull their deposits out of Washington Mutual, which had just gone under. One person, Steve, said: "I agree with your campaign. We need a bailout for people like us, not for the rich millionaires on Wall Street. They made my bank go down, not me."

The campaign has also done regular door-to-door outreach, focusing on the oppressed communities of South Los Angeles.

Promoting same-sex marriage and LGBT equality has been a top priority. Esguerra, an out lesbian, has been a pro-LGBT rights activist since high school. She was the only socialist candidate to participate in L.A.’s huge Pride parade and will be speaking at a Gay-Straight Alliance conference on Nov. 1 to promote student activism for LGBT liberation. She has come out strongly against Proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage referendum on the ballot.

Esguerra is on the ballot as a Peace and Freedom Party candidate. She is proud to represent the only ballot-access socialist party in California. For Peace and Freedom, she recently spoke at a campaign forum to denounce the racist Runner Initiative—a referendum on the November ballot that would further criminalize Black and Latino youth.

In the coming weeks, Esguerra’s campaign will turn up the heat by continuing neighborhood canvassing and street meetings. "It’s all to get the word out about socialism. We want people to know that they can be part of a movement that fights back against all the racism and economic abuses thrown at us by capitalism," said Esguerra. "It isn’t about winning this election or that election. It is about building a movement that one day will win as the capitalist system loses," she continued.

Oct. 18 and 19, the Esguerra campaign will go door-to-door in a massive visibility push. Oct. 25, she is speaking at a well-known library in South Los Angeles, the Southern California Library, with PSL presidential candidate Gloria La Riva. The two will discuss the economic crisis, the war, racism and how workers and students can fight back.

Esguerra’s campaign has inspired strength and activism in sectors of the working class that are looking for a fighting alternative to the status quo.

Vote PSL in November!

Lucilla Esguerra and PSL presidential candidate Gloria La Riva will speak at the Southern California Library (6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles) on Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.


Forty Years After The Tlatelolco Massacre, The Mexican Army Attacks Civilians In The Indigenous Town of Xoxocotla

On October 2nd, tens of thousands of people, young and old, took the afternoon off and marched in the streets of Mexico City to the cry of "¡Nunca Más!" - Never again! On that same day in October, forty years earlier, scores of young people, mostly striking University students, were gathered in Tlatelolco Square for a protest meeting. Suddenly, and without provocation, Mexican Army troops opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 200 people,wounding countless more, and "disappearing" hundreds more . The State-controlled media neatly covered up the story, and the Federal government denied that a massacre had taken place. But forty years later even the Mexican government now admits that it was guilty of the shameless crime of using the armed forces against its own citizens to supress a non-violent protest movement. Initially, the attacks silenced popular protest. But very soon after, and up until the present day, Mexicans from both town and country have continued to organize and resist, in a perpetual struggle to make good on the unfulfilled promises of the 1910 Mexican Revolution. In the forty years since that bloody day, Mexican society has undergone profound systemic changes. Social movements have seen important victories, but also crushing setbacks. One crucial victory has been public recognition of the Tlatelolco massacre and an increased awareness on the part of the general public that use of the Mexican military to repress social movements is illegal according to the Mexican constitution, and must never be tolerated. The Mexican army has unfortunately continued to fight against organized social movements in recent decades. But even this counterinsurgency has only been allowed to happen in Mexico's most rural areas, in the shadows, and far from the public eye. Until now. On Wednesday, October 8th, Morelos Governor Marco Adame called out more than 1,500 police personnel from the State Police and from the Paramilitary Federal Police force to the indigenous town of Xoxocotla. Law enforcement agencies were instructed to dismantle a series of road blockades along the Alpuyeca-Jojutla highway. Residents of Xoxocotla, long known for their effective community organizing and for their willingness to show solidarity with other social movements, had set up the blockades to show solidarity with teachers who have been on strike in Morelos for nearly two months. The teachers of Morelos and the townspeople of Xoxocotla are united in a common struggle to stop the rapid privatization of public resources. Teachers on strike in Morelos are trying to halt a new set of educational reforms they say would open the doors to the participation of private capital in the public education system. Xoxocotla, on the other hand, is desperately trying to save the aquifer which feeds its municipal water system from being sucked dry from private condominium developers who skirt local zoning laws. As poorly organized police marched on Xoxocotla, they were quickly outwitted by the highly organized women and men of the town. When police advanced on the roadblocks, the townspeople removed one of the barricades, allowed a few of them to enter, and then established the withdrawn barricade once again. These hapless police officers were trapped within the confines of Xoxocotla's barricades. The officers were effectively penned in for several hours, during which they were unable to dismantle the roadblocks. Later that night, between 500 and 1000 members of the Mexican Army from the 24th Military Zone barracks in Cuernavaca were given the order from the National Defense Secretary to assist police in their efforts to dislodge protesters in Xoxocotla. Accompanying these soldiers was a vast mobile arsenal, including humvees, tanks, and helicopters. It is important to note that such use of force can only take place under authorization from the executive branch of the Federal government. Representatives of the newly arrived army and the police informed a negotiating team from Xoxocotla that if the police officers trapped in the town were not allowed to leave, that the order would be given "to attack the town." Just two short years ago, in a nation still grappling with the murderous legacy of Tlatelolco, the use of the army to contain a protest action in central Mexico would have been unheard of. And in 2008, the people of Xoxocotla couldn't believe what they were witnessing. Shocked by the brazen display of military might, the town let the police officers retreat and removed the road blockades. In return, they were promised that all security forces would leave. As dawn approached, the vast majority of state security forces remained in place. Reports emerged of arbitrary beatings, illegal home searches, and detentions by police. And in the early afternoon, the women and men of Xoxocotla went back to the highway in protest once again. At that point, members of the State and Federal police, with the cooperation and participation of the Army, launched an attack of collective punishment on the entire town. Helicopters flew overhead and shot tear gas into private homes, most of which were filled with small children and whose inhabitants were not involved with the road blockades at all. This reporter was led into several homes the following day and saw several large spent containers and saw small children still coughing from the gas. Houses were raided by police and soldiers, and men taken and beaten in front of their families. There are reports of at least 70 missing persons, of whom only 20 have been officially "arrested." Yesterday night, I passed 4 checkpoints of armed troops to enter Xoxocotla. I watched as all men entering the town, returning from work were frisked, insulted, and harrassed by troops armed with submachine guns. I headed into the center of town. Hundreds of scared and angry residents emerged from their homes to tell stories of their shock and rage. Many were shcoked at the participation of army troops, tanks, and helicopters. "Why are they sending the army out against us?" Cried one woman. "We aren't criminals. The President says he is using the army to fight drug traffickers, but he is using it against poor indigenous people." Demonstrating the short-sighted nature of the government's strategy, another woman whose brother is among the missing echoed a sentiment I heard many times. "Before today many of us didn't even support the teachers' strike. But now we are all with them." How is it that even as Mexico remembers the 40th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre that the army has been allowed to turn its weapons against its own citizens once again? Despite serious allegations of fraud, Felipe Calderon was sworn in as President of Mexico in December, 2006. Almost immediately following his inauguration, Calderon gave all members of the armed forces a pay raise. Soon afterwards Calderon increased the role of the Mexican Armed forces in Mexican society by announcing that the armed forces would be used to conduct a new heightened war against drug traffickers. Within a few short months, the army was authorized to perform police duties in several Mexican states. Random, illegal military checkpoints targeting civilian vehicles on federal highways became commonplace. Nearly two years later, with thousands of people killed in Calderon's drug war, there has been no significant disruption in the flow of drugs to the United States. From the outset, critics claimed that Calderon never intended the army's presence in the Mexican countryside to serve as an anti-narcotics force, and that his aims were in fact twofold: To leverage his ability to serve out his Presidential term in light of massive calls for his resignation before his inauguration, and to legitimize the use of the armed forces in domestic affairs as a means to repress Mexico's abundant social movements. The repression in Xoxocotla this week overwhelmingly supports this hypothesis. Had the citizens of Morelos not seen a gradual increase in the presence of soldiers far from their barracks doing vehicle checks, patrolling the streets, and policing highways, there would surely have been more of a public outcry in this week's use of the army to repress the people of Xoxocotla. Even more distressing is another clue I witnessed in the ruined home of one woman of Xoxocotla yesterday: a tear gas cannister with English text written on it: "FOR USE ONLY BY TRAINED INDIVIDUALS" Apart from the obvious and cynical irony of this "warning label" on a weapon that had been used to terrorize small innocent children, the cartridge proves that the weapons shot from Federal helicopters have been provided by manufacturers from an English speaking country, presumably the United States. Recently, the U.S. Congress authorized 400 million dollars in funding to provide support for the Mexican military in its "war on drugs" in a package known as "Plan México" or "The Merida Initiative." Declassified documents from the U.S.' National Security Archive have established evidence of Washington's participation in the Tlatelolco massacre. In 2008, once more, the U.S. is helping to arm the Mexican military to attack its own citizens.


Sunday's C-Span opportunity: 3rd-party candidates debate

Sunday's C-Span opportunity: 3rd-party candidates debate By Maria Recio McClatchy Newspapers: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 Third-party presidential candidates finally will have their own debate: at 8 p.m. (5 p.m. PST) Sunday at Columbia University in New York. The debate, which will be announced Wednesday, will include at least three of the four third-party candidates - independent Ralph Nader, the Green Party's Cynthia McKinney and the Constitution Party's Chuck Baldwin. Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr said he has a scheduling conflict, but debate organizers say he wanted to appear only with Nader. (Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain are also invited.) Nader and Barr are on the ballot in 45 states, while the Green Party is on 31 state ballots and the Constitution Party is on the ballot in 37 states. Nader and McKinney also are on the District of Columbia ballot. Organizers say the debate is an important exercise in democracy, especially because the debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (the last of which is Wednesday night) exclude candidates scoring below 15 percent in national polls. Nader, the best known of the candidates, has an average of 2.5 percent in recent national polls, according to realclearpolitics.com, while Barr averages 1.5 percent. Nader maintains that if he could get into the debates run by the Commission on Presidential Debates, his numbers would immediately climb because "two-thirds of the people don't know we're running." "It's a Catch-22." Nader describes the debate commission as "a two-party dictatorial company that doesn't want anybody else on the stage." The commission, created in 1987, is a corporation headed by two former chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties. But third-party critics of the system recently got some traction: the second of the presidential debates prompted a chorus of criticism of the "boring" format and the lack of follow-up questions. Nader also will give the issue more visibility at a rally to open the debates Wednesday night at New York's historic Cooper Union Great Hall, where presidential candidates back to Abraham Lincoln have spoken. The format for Sunday's third-party debate is still being finalized. It will be moderated by Pacifica radio host Amy Goodman. The issues promoted by the candidates strike a different chord from the major party standard-bearers - all four are against the $700 billion economic bailout and all oppose the Iraq war. In addition, each has his or her own agenda: Nader rails against corporate greed while McKinney promotes environmental causes. The Libertarian Party is a critic of monetary policy and likes to invoke a return to the gold standard. Baldwin of the Constitution Party represents a conservative, small government, anti-abortion party that wants to "restore the government to its biblical foundations." The third-party debate will be streamed at www.thirdpartyticket.com and will be shown on C-Span.

Ralph Nader will be speaking tonight at 6 p.m. at Cooper Union in New York City

Ralph Nader will be speaking tonight at 6 p.m. at Cooper Union in New York City.

If you are in the Big Apple, hope you can attend.

If not, we're going to be streaming live.

Click here to watch live at 6 p.m. tonight EST.

Also, tonight is the last Presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Ralph will not be on the stage with McCain and Obama tonight.

Why not?

Here's a neat little video that sheds some light on this question.

Yesterday, Ralph was in front of the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. calling on Secretary Henry Paulson to give back some of the millions he made at Goldman Sachs to help underwrite the bailout.

Check out the video our media team made here.

Thanks to your help, we will be firing on all cylinders during the last three weeks of the campaign.

Remember, if you donate $100 more now, we will ship to you our corporate crime package.

This includes two books and a DVD: Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss, The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis, Bill Allison and the Center for Public Integrity, and a DVD that we are making of tomorrow's rally on Wall Street. (This offer ends October 24, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)

Things are hopping.

Stay tuned as we push hard for a breakthrough.

Onward to November

The Nader Team


Independent Nader Discusses Economy, Presidential Bid

October 14, 2008 Independent Nader Discusses Economy, Presidential Bid MP3: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader spoke with Ray Suarez about his independent run for the presidency as well as his solutions for critical problems facing Americans, including the ailing domestic economy and global markets.

The revolutionary struggle and social reform in Ecuador

An interview with a comrade from the Grupo Anarco-Comunista "15 de Noviembre"

The following interview was made in July and August 2008 with a member of the "15th November" Anarchist Communist Group, a recently-formed libertarian group in Ecuador, which among other things publishes the magazine "Chasqui Anarquista" with other anarchists, of which two issues have so far come out. In this interview, we tried to find out a little about the origins of the libertarian movement in Ecuador and understand how anarchist communists feel about the social reforms being carried out by Rafael Correa's government. [Castellano]
... Do you believe there is some tangible threat on the part of the aggressive Colombian military forces, who are undoubtedly acting at the dictates of the USA? Uribe's right-wing government is the expression of the imperialist re-composition of South America. This was seen in the plan to put "Plan Colombia" into operation at the start of this decade. Behind the euphemism of combating drug trafficking, the United States is trying to set up geopolitical control over our lands. This behaviour, together with the growing arms funding and professionalization of the Colombian army, demonstrates the interests and influence of Yankee imperialism over the Colombian government. The real danger is that the conflict will spread throughout the region, a policy that guides the Colombian government's relations with its neighbours, including Ecuador. There have of course been set-ups, like the cowardly murder of the FARC-EP commander "Raúl Reyes" in this country, or lies like Ecuador being the home of the guerrillas' rearguard. We must be careful with the distortions that can easily be given to this problem, and at least for the moment prevent any direct intervention in "our America" by the imperialists. Lastly, could I ask you what chances there are of building a revolutionary, libertarian alternative in Ecuador? What possibilities there are, depend not only on the conditions for it. It would be ironic to say that, as they are already in place; we live in a class society. It depends on the conviction and dedication of each member of the Organization in being a part of the class war, in the neighbourhoods, in schools and universities, in the workplace. It is interesting to see that in Ecuador, three consecutive presidents in a row have been swept away by the "Out, all of them!" movement - and not only these three parasites, but also the institutions and both private and State bodies. And one of our most basic weapons in this revolutionary task is to take advantage of this discontent. ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bolivia

President Evo Morales
Bolivian President Evo Morales today led a peaceful march of social organizations that set off towards La Paz to call for a referendum on the new constitution, PL reports. At the mass rally in Caracollo, a town in the Bolivian altiplano 200 kilometers from the seat of government, Morales affirmed that the demonstration is an expression of the conscience of the people, who support the current process of change. The head of state highlighted that this is the biggest demonstration to date of unity and the will to fight for social justice, since the March for Life led by Bolivian miners in 1986. He added that 5,000 people from the country’s nine departments and representing different sectors and political affiliations are on their way to La Paz to demand that Congress pass a bill calling for a referendum on the constitution. "But at the end of this march, we could be joined by close to one million people determined to re-found Bolivia by establishing a new political constitution," he affirmed. ...

Chávez exposes CIA presence in Zulia

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States has been deploying agents in Zulia under the protection Manuel Rosales, the governor of that Venezuelan state, President Hugo Chávez stated today, PL reports.

the politics of hunger

From: http://lostcosmonaut.livejournal.com
XII.
banned in D.C.banned in MexicoI am reminded of the Zapatistas, whom my lawyer calls "the world's cuddliest political revolutionaries". Ironically, Subcomandante Marcos' charisma is big enough to smoke Obama's charisma like so much pipe tobacco. Yet he refuses to lead. Like Spider-Man or a luchador, he refuses even to remove his mask. The Zapatistas are small in number, and they live in a jungle, and they have guns. I fear that their form of organization will not work for large populations who live in non-jungles and have no guns. I fear that it is too late for me to join, now that my friends have posted pictures of my real face on Facebook.

Conscience of the Israeli spymaster’s daughter

Igal Sarna meets a Mossad chief’s daughter who is in jail for refusing national service

Omer Goldman is a very pretty girl, slender as a model. Never still and very restless, the expected loss of her freedom fills her with anxiety. For months before she refused to be drafted into the Israel Defence Forces she went to a psychologist every week to prepare for what was to come: incarceration in a cell in a military prison. A narrow cage for a songbird.

I met her several times during September, in an apartment, with other girls who are conscientious objectors. Together they would hand out flyers against Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza at the gates of a high school like the one she completed a year ago.

On her last day of freedom as a civilian, I saw her at the gates of the intake base to which she had received orders to report for induction for a two-year stint with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), like every Israeli girl. But she came to refuse the draft, to be tried and to be imprisoned immediately.

Several dozen supporters showed up - ­ members of Anarchists Against the Wall, her mother and a few girlfriends - and she stayed close to them as though she were trying to delay the end, the moment when she would clash all alone with the army.

For Omer, this transition is sharper and more surprising than for most conscientious objectors: she is the daughter of the outgoing deputy head of Mossad, the man who very nearly became head of the organisation.

Omer grew up all her life in the warm bosom of a huge security establishment that has now become an enemy rather than a friend. Her father appears in the newspapers as 'N'. He was a senior intelligence officer and then transferred to Mossad and climbed to the top until in 2007 he became the deputy to Mossad chief Meir Dagan (right), now considered the most powerful mystery man in the Israeli security establishment.

'N', who specialises in the dilemma of Iran,

was spoken of as Dagan's designated successor, but Dagan had no intention of retiring. Differences of opinion developed between two strong bosses and 'N' resigned in June 2007.

This was the time when his daughter Omer, a pampered child of the wealthy suburb Ramat Hasharon, was beginning to move away from the usual high school-to-army trajectory.

Parallel to her father's struggle and his resignation from Mossad, Omer rebelled against the way he had paved for her and went to have a look at Palestinian life on the other side of the wall. Call this an adolescent's rebellion against her father or a battle for the heart of a father who had left home.

She is one of about 40 high school students who signed the 2008 12th-graders' letter. Thirty-eight years ago, the first such letter caused a huge uproar. In April 1970 students from my final year in secondary school sent a letter to the prime minister, Golda Meir, against the occupation and the war of attrition. Since then there have been other letters and the uproar has died down. But in Israel conscientious objection still arouses cold, self-righteous wrath.

Omer told me that the crucial moment of her metamorphosis occurred this year when she went to a Palestinian village where the IDF had set up a roadblock. Someone she had considered her enemy all her life stood beside her and someone who was supposed to be defending her opened fire at her.

"We were sitting by the roadside talking and soldiers came along and after a few seconds they received an order and fired gas grenades and rubber bullets at us. Then it struck me, to my astonishment, that the soldiers were following an order without thinking. For the first time in my life an Israeli soldier raised his weapon and fired at me."

And when you told your father?

"Dad was astonished and angry that I had been there and endangered my life. After that we had conversations. He supported me as his daughter and we have a good relationship, but he is decidedly opposed to what I do and even more to my refusal to

‘For the first time in my life an Israeli soldier raised his weapon and fired at me’

serve in the army.

"At first he thought this was a passing phase of adolescence and later he understood that this is coming from a place deep inside me. He and I have very similar characters. I, too, fight to the end for what I believe in. But we are opposites ideologically."

When I ask more about her father, Omer smiles and does not answer. A rare moment of silence. The beauty of her smile covers for everything.

On September 23 she refused to serve in the army, was tried and was sent to prison for 21 days. Next week she will be tried again - and again until the army tires or she tires.

In two weeks' time, my own son Noam is due to join the army and I will be accompanying him to the same base where I last saw Omer Goldman. Unlike Omer, Noam intends to do his military service. I understand them both.

FIRST POSTED OCTOBER 9, 2008
Omer’s father was spoken of as Dagan’s successor. But Dagan had no intention of retiring

Army developing ‘synthetic telepathy’

A new Army grant aims to create email or echnology is based on reading electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalograph, or EEG. Similar technology is being marketed as a way to control video games by thought.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama vs. McCain: The Wired.com Scorecard

By Nicholas Thompson October 12, 2008
Mccain_obama1_660x_2

What do Barack Obama and John McCain say, and what have they done, about policies that matter to Wired.com? Here are descriptions and analysis on five issues:

  1. Broadband
  2. H1B issues
  3. Investment in green tech
  4. Net neutrality
  5. Spectrum

Except for green tech, none of these issues has played a big role in the campaign so far, and none will likely come up in Wednesday's third and final debate. But they are all still quite important. And there are many other technology issues that matter, beyond these five.

For more, read this report -- or, better yet, scroll down and use the Reddit tools to submit your own topics, grade the candidates, and vote on other reader submissions.

Broadband

The Issue: The United States is becoming a tortoise in a world of hares. One of the world’s most Wired nations a decade ago, we now lag behind most of our peers. In France, broadband access is half the price and four times as fast. The main cause for the debacle is a lack of competition in telecommunications. Most communities have, at best, one cable choice and one DSL choice. This situation came about through the mass consolidation of the industry, and through the non-enforcement and then repudiation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which mandated that entrenched telecom companies lease their lines into people’s homes to smaller companies.

McCain’s Position: As argued here and here, McCain has consistently been on the wrong side of this issue. As Senate Commerce Chair, he supported the mass consolidation in the industry. He also consistently voted the wrong way on whether entrenched competitors should be forced to lease their lines. The one point in his favor is his support of the Community Broadband Bill which would help cities offer wireless Internet, even when the local companies try to crush them.

Obama’s Position: Obama wasn’t around for the major votes on this issue. And while he is advised by all the right people, he hasn’t come out with a specific plan to open up the industry. His big proposal is to take money currently used to subsidize rural phone use and, instead, use it to subsidize rural broadband use. This could be helpful. But if the markets aren’t made competitive beforehand, it could also end up as little more than another subsidy to the same giant companies that have served us so poorly.

Grades: McCain: D Obama: B

Z for Zeitgeist

[Oddly, after I watched this movie last night, Zeitgeist the addendum, a website I love called Reality Sandwich brings it up this morning]

Thomas Vaughan

Zeitgeist: The Movie successfully challenged customary assumptions about democracy and religion, and resonated with the fears and dreams of millions of viewers. The sequel, Zeitgeist: Addendum, explores the corruption of our globalized monetary system, and considers how we might effect a transition from a society of scarcity and profiteering, to one of sustainability and abundance.

The film opens with a concise analysis of the monetary system, explaining how money is debt, and how debt is used as a subtle tool by an unelected "corporatocracy" to enslave the populace within the system. "Economic hitman" John Perkins describes how various reformist political leaders of developing nations worldwide have been overthrown or assassinated when they have attempted to withstand the global ambitions of this corporatocracy.

Suggesting that human behaviour is environmentally conditioned, the film argues that our current egocentric, profit oriented environment nurtures unthinking nihilistic consumers, who struggle to envisage any alternative to the status quo.

Zeitgeist: Addendum concludes by taking us on an inspirational tour of a world that might yet come into being, if we can move beyond our paralyzing profit structure, and the elite that manipulate it. The technology to create a truly egalitarian planetary civilization of sustainable abundance already exists. What is needed is the will, the courage and the opportunity to apply it.

Watch video here.


D. T. Suzuki - Manual of Zen Buddhism

Read D. T. Suzuki - Manual of Zen Buddhism on Scrib'd "Suzuki's works on Zen Buddhism are among the best contributions to the knowledge of living Buddhism… We cannot be sufficiently grateful to the author, first for the fact of his having brought Zen closer to Western understanding, and secondly for the manner in which he has achieved this task." -Carl Jung in the foreword of "Suzuki, D. T. (1964), An Introduction to Zen Buddhism"

Responding to the Presidential Debate Crisis, by Jason Del Gandio

Barack Obama is supposed to be a brilliant orator and John McCain a straight talking maverick. But if the 2008 presidential debates are any indication, then neither candidate meets the hype. Bright smiles, catchy one-liners, and pre- and post-debate spin rooms neither solve nor address economic crises, energy problems, climate change, foreign affairs, national defense, abortion, same-sex marriage, or supreme court nominations. This simple insight seems lost in our era of superficial political branding. Obama and McCain, as well as their running mates, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, seem incapable-or really, unwilling-to actually debate one another. They avoid questions, regurgitate talking points, repeat campaign slogans, speak abstractly, and most of all, dodge details of their own policies. On occasion Obama has done slightly better than McCain by varying his responses and providing a few more policy details. And Biden definitely had more substance than Palin; he answered some of the questions. But the debates, as a whole, have been nothing more than run-of-the-mill infocommercials unhelpful for deciding the next president. We as citizens deserve more and the severity of today’s issues demands better. ... We, the American people, must also take some responsibility. This begins with establishing proper criteria for assessing the presidential debates. We all see past the glitz and glam of these Hollywood debates and most of us are tired of it. But what do we actually say when we wage our critiques? How do we actually evaluate and judge the candidates’ performances? What criteria do we use to declare a winner and a loser? Read the rest...

Ask A Chola Telenovela Soap Opera "Amor Insurgente"

Here it is, homies! "AMOR INSURGENTE". Everything was filmed on location with Subcomandante Marcos en la Selva Lacandon in Chiapas, Mexico. In case you didn't know, it's pilot season in Hollywood and I'm going to try and pitch this to Univision and Telemundo. Please hook me up with your contacts so I can realize my dream to become an estrella de telenovelas!!!

VOTE NO ON PROP 8

Statement from PSL's La Riva/Puryear Presidential Campaign

The Party for Socialism and Liberation, our presidential and vice presidential candidates Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear, and our state and local candidates, celebrate Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling voiding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It is an important legal victory for the LGBT community and all people who seek justice. The Oct. 10 ruling reflects the strength and determination of the LGBT community and its allies. It also validates

Same-sex marriage struggle
the changing views of large sectors of society toward same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

The Connecticut court ruling—the third state high-court ruling to affirm same-sex marriage rights—is not a function of an enlightened judiciary, but the product of decades of struggle. The modern LGBT liberation movement, marked by the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, has changed how the vast majority of people in the United States view the issue of same-sex love, families and the right to marry.

The long fight for LGBT equality has been the decisive factor in pushing back the anti-gay hatred that emanates from the boardrooms of corporate America, the pulpits of the Catholic and Evangelical churches, and other reactionary social institutions.

The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates both oppose same-sex marriage. Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin are both known for their bigoted and backward views against LGBT people. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and VP candidate Joseph Biden opportunistically pay lip service to LGBT struggles to win support from the community, but they have always bowed to reaction and come out against full equality. Neither capitalist party will do anything to forward the struggle for LGBT equality.

The La Riva/Puryear campaign repudiates the bigotry and pandering of the big-business candidates. Our campaign ardently supports and fights for LGBT rights and equality, including same-sex marriage. We have been in the streets with the LGBT movement demanding equality, and we will continue to fight it is won. Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, we would overturn the reactionary Defense of Marriage Act and demand full equality for all.

The PSL sees the Connecticut court ruling as an important step in the direction of forging greater unity between LGBT and straight working-class people. As long as the ruling class—the small group of bankers, corporate owners and investors—can pit workers against each other based on our differences, the only ones who benefit are those same bankers, corporate owners and investors.

The legal rulings since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004 are not going unchallenged by the ruling class. Utilizing reactionary social organizations that promote homophobia, big-business interests have appealed to bigotry and fear to try to turn back the clock.

In California, an anti-gay marriage referendum, Proposition 8, is on the November ballot. If it passes, it would amend the California constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and overturn the legal ruling that granted same-sex marriage rights earlier this year. The PSL calls for all progressive-minded people to vote "No" on Prop. 8 on Nov. 4.

Regardless of the outcome of the elections and propositions, the struggle for LGBT equality and liberation will not go back into the closet. The legal right to live and love will not be decided by the courts, legislation or referendum, but in streets by the millions of LGBT people and supporters pushing forward the struggle for human liberation.

Vote "No" on Prop. 8! Marriage rights for all! Long live Stonewall!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Test Shows Computers Not Yet Able To Fool Humans, But Getting Closer

Julie Farby - AHN Reporter

(AHN)-While computers may not yet have intelligence capable of rivaling humans, they are not so far behind, a new test shows.

In what the scientific community is hailing as a major breakthrough, six computers were able to hold a conversation with a human in a "real-time chat."

The experiment, called the Turing Test, after British mathematician Alan Turing, featured six Artificial Conversational Entities (ACEs) trying to trick human interrogators into thinking they were also human. Although each ACE managed to fool at least one of their human interrogators, none were able to pass the standard set by Turing in 1950, whose computer fooled 30 percent of the human interrogators.

The machine closest to matching Turing's record of 30 percent was a computer named Elbot, who was able to trick 20 percent of the human interrogators into thinking they were communicating with a person.

Despite falling just short of Turing's record, the competition was considered a success, with scientists optimistic that the record will be broken soon.

University of Reading's School of Systems Engineering Professor Kevin Warwick, who organized the test, said, "This has been a very exciting day with two of the machines getting very close to passing the Turing Test for the first time."

"This demonstrates how close machines are getting to reaching the milestone of communicating with us in a way in which we are comfortable. That eventual day will herald a new phase in our relationship with machines, bringing closer the time in which robots start to play an active role in our daily lives," he added.


I'm not in a swing state - w00t!

'The United States Has Essentially a One-Party System' - 10-10-08 * 10-10-08 - Bretton Woods, which collapsed in 1971, was the system of rules, institutions, and procedures that regulated the international monetary system, under which were set up the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (now one of five institutions in the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which came into effect in 1945. The chief feature of Bretton Woods was an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed value. The system collapsed when the US suspended convertibility from dollars to gold. This created the unique situation whereby the US dollar became the "reserve currency" for the other countries within Bretton Woods. * Noam Chomsky: "If I were in a swing state, I'd vote for Obama" SPIEGEL: So for you, Republicans and Democrats represent just slight variations of the same political platform? Chomsky: Of course there are differences, but they are not fundamental. Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party. Since Chomsky didn't come out and say that he supported either of the candidates (something I would expect) I thought I'd ask him a few follow-up questions. Here they are, with his answers: Peter Jaworski: Do you support a political party, or any particular individuals running for office? Noam Chomsky: If I were in a swing state, I'd vote for Obama, reluctantly and without illusions, only because I think that McCain-Palin and the constituency they represent are extremely dangerous -- in fact, there's a proto-fascist character, a term I don't use lightly.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In the mood to visit a Museum today? Here's a list

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco The Art Gallery of New South Wales Metroopolitian Museum of Art Museum of Fine Arts, Huston Cristus Rex Museum of the American West Brooklyn Museum of Art Carnegie Museum of Art J. Paul Getty Museum Cite des scences et de LÕindustrie Butler Institute of American Art DeYoung Museum Museums of Utah Huntington Gallery Universidad de Guadalajara Michael Carlos Museum George Eastman House Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Smithsonian Museum of Am. Art Museum of Bad Art Guggenheim Museum Philadelphia Museum of Art Santa Barbara Museum of Art Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco Krannert Art Museum Hunt Museum Baroniet Rosendal Tel Aviv Museum Birmingham Museum of Art Glenbow Museum Los Angeles County Museum of Art National Heritage Museum Musee Directory National Gallery of Art Princeton University Art Museum African Galley Deleware Art Museum Chitrakoot Art Gallery Macleay Museum Leonardo da Vinci Museum DeCardova Museum Chateau de Versailles Farnsworth Art Museum Franklin Institute National Archeological Museum of Athens Helsenki City Art Museum Heard Museum Harvard University Art Museums Holocaust Memorial Cente Nuovo Contemporary Art San Diego Museum of Art Library of Congress Exhibitions Mead Art Museum Old Sturbridge Village Museum of American Folk Art Cleveland Museum of Art Indianapolis Museum of Art Museum of Contemporary Art Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art Historic New Oreleans Collection National Gallery of Australia National Gallery of Victoria Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Finnish National Gallery Hong Kong Gallery Uffizi Gallery Japanese American National Museum Hermitage Museum Tate Gallery National Galleries of Scotland Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona National Portrait Gallery, London Visual Library Museums Directory

From Scarcity To Abundance: stories from the streets of Oaxaca, by Joel Catchlove

There´s something brewing on the streets of Oaxaca. The genteel colonial centre is vividly scrawled with graffiti and much of it is political. Spray paint depicts everything from giant, masked Lucha Libre wrestlers with the caption La lucha sigue (The struggle continues), to repeated references to the Zapatistas, the indigenous-based rebel movement in the neighbouring state of Chiapas. Small, scrawny figures in the trademark Zapatista ski-masks adorn street signs, the masked face of Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos appears in bold black on freshly painted walls, while on another, stencils depict a masked indigenous woman harvesting corn beneath the line "corn is our life". Amid the Zapatistas, another line repeats itself, in stencil or running spraypaint: Oaxaca Libre, 14 de Junio, No se olvida (Free Oaxaca, June 14, Do not forget). While it scarcely registered in the Australian media, and few media outlets anywhere fully grasped the depth of what was happening, for five months in 2006, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca was, as Al Giordano describes "a government-free zone", "not governed from above, but rather self-governed by popular assembly.” What began as a teachers´ strike for better wages and conditions grew into a massive, non-violent, broad-based social movement that drove the corrupt and universally despised governor into hiding, and laid the foundations for a truly participatory democracy. As the people of Oaxaca realised that the corrupt government needed them more than they needed it, they began a shift (to use a phrase of Oaxaca´s Universidad de la Tierra) from the scarcity of dependence to the abundance of community self-reliance. Oaxaca has a heritage of community self-government in its diverse indigenous population. Four out of five municipalities in the state still govern themselves through a process of communal assemblies, known as "practices and customs" or usos y costumbres, a system that doesn´t acknowledge political parties and functions by consensus. Furthermore, as Nancy Davies describes, "statewide, the greater part of public works in four hundred small communities are still carried out by citizen tequios [the traditional indigenous system of unpaid community service] that accomplish a variety of tasks like building roads; repairing churches, bringing in the harvest; and sharing the expenses of weddings, baptisms and deaths." With state and federal levels of Mexican government apparently riddled with corruption and with governments everywhere increasingly wedded to neoliberal economic policies that privilege the health of corporations over the health of communities, the critical importance of community self-reliance is becoming increasingly clear. It is this self-reliance that two Oaxaqueño organisations, Casa Chapulin and the Universidad de la Tierra, seek to cultivate.

The Casa Chapulin collective (named for Oaxaca´s famous snack of fried grasshoppers or chapulines) was born in the adrenalin rush of Oaxaca´s five months of community government. As Diana Denham, one of the initiators of the collective explains, Casa Chapulin formed after Oaxaca´s corrupt governor Ulises Ruiz Diaz ordered police to attack a teacher´s sit-in in the town´s main plaza with helicopters and teargas on 14 June 2006, unsuspectingly triggering an all-out revolt. Realising that much mainstream media was unable to comprehend what was happening in Oaxaca, Casa Chapulin initially adopted a role of independent journalists, documenting and broadcasting the uprising around the world. As the movement grew, and the retaliation of the government and its henchmen became more vicious, the collective also conducted informal human rights accompaniment with threatened participants in the social movement. As Denham told us, the struggle for the media was a key battle of the Oaxaca uprising. One of Casa Chapulin´s most recent projects is the publishing of a book, entitled Teaching Rebellion: stories from the grassroots mobilisation in Oaxaca, that documents the astounding story of the uprising through the testimonials of the citizens involved. Through stories like the “March of Pots and Pans”, Denham highlights both the importance of community-controlled media, and how the uprising inspired the involvement of people from all backgrounds and sectors of society. In early August 2006, thousands of women from all over Oaxaca descended on the state television and radio studios, brandishing saucepans and cooking utensils. They entered, requested half an hour of airtime to air their grievances and when they were refused, they peacefully occupied the entire complex. The employees left, and the women ran the station for three weeks, broadcasting live news on the movement, together with documentaries and stories on local and global issues and social movements. When the government retook Channel 9 by force, the movement responded within hours, non-violently seizing all eleven of Oaxaca´s commercial radio stations in a demonstration of popular power. By noon the following day, the social movement had voluntarily returned all but two, which the movement retained for its own uses. Such astonishing collective strength was possible through the formation of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, or APPO). The APPO formed within days of the June 14 attack on the teachers, drawing together hundreds of people representing a broad array of unions, social, political, human rights and nongovernmental organisations, collectives, farmers, indigenous people, church figures and citizens from communities across the state. While the APPO provided a forum for action and governance across the community, Denham suggests that part of its strength was its simultaneously decentralised nature: that everyone who participates is a representative of the APPO. As the popular catch-cry went, “Todos somos APPO” (We are all APPO). Such decentralisation meant that the APPO was suddenly everywhere. Pirate radio stations (Mexican law only permits commercial or state radio, making all community radio stations illegal) were APPO, students organising in their universities were APPO, people taking action in their barrios were APPO, housewives storming radio stations were APPO. Casa Chapulin now focuses on seven main areas: gender, popular education, immigration, urban agriculture, community based economies, community-controlled media, and human rights and political prisoners. While it runs weekly community workshops and hosts guest speakers on a wide array of topics, the main focus of Casa Chapulin (and its sister collective Casa de la Paz in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas) is education for social change, through a program of hosting and educating activists in local issues. This "activist exchange" is intended to provide participants with a spark for community work in their own home communities, facilitating the building of broad political networks and increasing access to ideas.

The Universidad de la Tierra (University of the Earth) was born on the crest of another era of democratic promise for Mexico. The 2000 federal election carried with it the possibility of finally dislodging the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a notoriously corrupt organisation that had rusted in power for the past 70 years (Incidentally, the PRI is the same party Oaxaca´s Governor Ruiz represents). Meanwhile, in the northeastern highlands of Oaxaca, the Mixe indigenous group had begun expelling teachers from their communities. While acknowledging that education was essential for their children, the Mixe asserted that the schooling system as it stood was one of the most powerful tools of cultural destruction. Mixe children were forced to attend school for six or eight hours every day, rather than working in the fields or participating in community life and thus learning the necessary skills for contribution and participation in Mixe society. Furthermore, formal schooling emphasised a set of values that didn´t reflect the community´s needs: values that encouraged students to move away to city universities and pursue careers in urban centres far from their culture and communities. From this context, founding member Sergio Beltrán tells us, the Universidad de la Tierra emerged. Placing community self-reliance and self-determination at the core of its educational principles, the Universidad is determined to reclaim the sense of the university as a public space for debating and sharing knowledge. The Universidad has no teachers, no curriculum and no grades. Rather, it views itself as a community of learners that facilitate the seeking of knowledge. Potential students (or “learners” as Beltrán calls them) approach the Universidad with a proposal for what they would like to learn. According to the Universidad´s criteria, the proposal, which often takes the form of a concrete project for a community, must be socially balanced (it must be relevant and make a contribution to the person´s community), ecologically sensitive and economically feasible. Advisors will then work with the learner for up to three months to develop a ´path of learning´, helping them to find the resources they need, putting them in touch with people already working in their field of interest or who have initiated similar projects, or supporting them to become apprentices in their area, underscored by a belief in “learning by doing”. "Everyone will answer your questions", says Beltrán, "but no one will tell you what to do. You are in control of your learning process." The Universidad´s focus on self-reliance extends well beyond its formal "academic" work - even as broad as that is. One of the Universidad´s long-standing projects is CACITA, (Centro Autónomo para la Creación Intercultural de Tecnologías Apropriadas) an appropriate technology workshop in the suburbs of Oaxaca. Beltrán emphasises that truly appropriate technology is technology that can be “appropriated”. That is, it is adaptable to a range of contexts and can be developed with a range of local materials by the community itself. Solar panels, he argues, are not appropriate technology. Instead, they only represent a shift in dependence from one industrially produced technology (for example, a fossil fuel power plant) to another. In mid-2008, the Universidad initiated Guerreros Sin Armas (Warriors Without Weapons). Originating in Brazil, Guerreros Sin Armas is based on the principles of non-violent communication. Through collective work, the project supports a community in building a desired project using resources and skills from within the community. With Guerreros Sin Armas, Colonia El Diamante, a neighbourhood with no public services, no municipal sewer, and only partly connected to electricity, took vacant land and using only their own resources converted it into a public park, no small thing in a city that has only 2 metres of green space per person. As Beltrán highlights, projects such as these are very much about transforming a sense of scarcity to a realisation of the abundance already present within a community´s knowledge, skills and resources. While the Mexican government ultimately unleashed the full strength of its military and paramilitary forces to bring Oaxaca back under its rule, the seeds of self-determination continue to take root in Oaxaca and beyond. Oaxaca´s experiment in self-government, and the organisations like Casa Chapulin and the Universidad de la Tierra that continue to work to build resilient communities offer a model and inspiration for communities everywhere to begin a transition to the abundance of self-reliance. - September 2008, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico & Huehuetenango, Guatemala References and further reading:

The People Decide: Oaxaca´s Popular Assembly, Nancy Davies, Narco News Books Teaching Rebellion: Stories from the grassroots mobilisation in Oaxaca,Diana Denham & CASA Collective, PM Press The Oaxaca Commune and Mexico’s Autonomous Movements, Gustavo Esteva, Ediciones Basta! CASA Chapulin, http://www.casachapulin.org Universidad de la Tierra, http://www.unitierra.org Guerreros Sin Armas, http://egsaoaxaca.blogspot.com/


Moyers/Soros 10/10/08

BILL MOYERS:One of the British newspapers this morning had a headline, "Welcome to Socialism." It's not going that way, is it?

GEORGE SOROS:Well, you know, it's very interesting. Actually, these market fundamentalists are making the same mistake as Marx did. You see, socialism would have worked very well if the rulers had the interests of the people really at heart. But they were pursuing their self-interests. Now, in the housing market, the people who originated the houses earned the fee.

And the people who then owned the mortgages their interests were not actually looked after by the agents that were selling them the mortgages. So you have a, what is called an agent principle problem in socialism. And you have the same agent principle problem in this free market fundamentalism.

BILL MOYERS:The agent is concerned only with his own interests.

GEORGE SOROS:That's right.

BILL MOYERS:Not with...

GEORGE SOROS:That's right.

BILL MOYERS:The interest of...

GEORGE SOROS:Of the people who they're supposed to represent.

BILL MOYERS:But in both socialism and capitalism, you get the rhetoric of empathy for people.

GEORGE SOROS:And it's a false ideology. Both Marxism and market fundamentalism are false ideologies.

BILL MOYERS:Is there an ideology that...

GEORGE SOROS:Is not false?

BILL MOYERS:Yeah.

GEORGE SOROS:I think the only one is the one that I'm proposing; namely, the recognition that all our ideas, all our human constructs have a flaw in it. And perfection is not attainable. And we must engage in critical thinking and correct our mistakes.

BILL MOYERS:And that's one...

GEORGE SOROS:That's my ideology. As a child, I experienced Fascism, the Nazi occupation and then Communism, two false ideologies. And I learned that both of those ideologies are false. And now I was shocked when I found that even in a democracy people can be misled to the extent that we've been misled in the last few years.

BILL MOYERS:The book is "The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means". George Soros, thank you for being with me.

GEORGE SOROS:Pleasure.


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Story of Mouseland

[Thanks to Nobody for this post] The Story of Mouseland Introduction Tommy Douglas (1904 -1986) was one of Canada's best known New Democrats. He was a man of many talents and, being involved in politics since 1936, he is renowned for various reasons. he "Mouseland" story is a small sample of the wit and humour many people knew him for. To see and listen to Tommy Douglas in person was a rare treat. Tommy was a most accomplished orator. Some people saw Tommy Douglas as a true democratic socialist, someone who placed human rights and needs above the mere pursuit of profits and power. Such principles should be implemented at the wish of the majority of the people. A social minded government would plan the economy of the country to allow all people to share in the country's wealth and have equal access to such basic needs as health and education. Others saw Tommy as a great politician whose natural speaking, story telling and debating abilities helped bring social change to the country. Tommy was first elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa in 1936. He later switched to provincial politics and it was during his years as Premier of Saskatchewan that Medicare was first introduced to North America. Prior to Medicare, health care services were only available to those who could pay the price. When the C.C.F. (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) was renamed the New Democratic Party in 1961, Tommy Douglas was chosen as the Leader of the New Party until he resigned in 1971. Tommy Douglas relates his message of social democracy in such a fashion that any audience can understand even the most complicated issue and be well entertained at the same time. To social minded people everywhere, Tommy Douglas remains a constant source of inspiration. Mouseland (As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944) (You can listed to Tommy tell this story in his own words in our Audio Files section ) It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do. They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats. Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are. Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort. All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats. Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever. And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat. You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice. Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail. But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

One-issue voter

Jane Roberts

On July 22, 2002 the Bush Administration refused to release $34 million to the United Nations Population Fund to please the Republican Party’s religious right and anti-United Nations constituencies. Colin Powell had testified that UNFPA did invaluable work in the world but it was he who sold women down the river by announcing the decision. He should have resigned.

Everything that UNFPA does saves and empowers women. It provides prenatal care, assisted birth, family planning. It educates against early forced marriage, female genital mutilation and violence against women. One hundred eighty countries supported UNFPA last year, but not our own. That is ugly.

For the last six years Lois Abraham (co-founder with me of 34 Million Friends of UNFPA) and I have been joyfully relentless in asking 34 million Americans to take a stand for the women of the world and their access to reproductive health care and family planning with at least one dollar. This grassroots effort is called 34 Million Friends. It is sending a positive message to the world.

What is at stake? The fate of the world’s women and girls and thus the fate of the world.

Women’s access to education and health including access to family planning is essential for reducing poverty, saving the environment, and for any chance at peace and stability in the future. Women’s equality in all realms including decision making power at every level of government is essential for balance and sustainability.

If the next President releases the funds Congress annually votes for UNFPA, then that President will have the values I have. He will support, help reform, and strengthen the United Nations. He will know that to reduce poverty and misery, people must be educated and healthy. His foreign assistance will line up with those values. He will believe that 500,000 women shouldn’t die in childbirth every year. He will believe that access to family planning will greatly reduce the 40 million abortions which take place in the world every year, representing twenty percent of the pregnancies.

He will believe that population matters. There are 6.7 billion people on the planet now, with over 80 million births over deaths each year. Nothing good can come of a predicted world population of 9 billion by 2050. This growth will come in the most poverty stricken countries many of which are politically unstable due at least in part to the low status of their women and girls. For instance, Pakistan which suffers from poverty, inflation, political instability, religious extremism and gender inequality, has a population of 164 million – rising to 304 million by 2050.

If Americans are paying attention, they know that there is increased hunger due to climate change but also to expanded use of grain for bio-fuels by the richer countries. Surging population in many of the countries where hunger reigns also plays a role. Ethiopia and India are examples.

They know that conflicts over resources (fresh water, fish, oil, wood, agricultural land) are increasing. They know that energy costs are rising and that the poor are least able to pay.

The question of whether the next US President will release congressionally approved funds to the United Nations Population Fund will be a symbol of how he understands the world. Under Barack Obama, our country will join 180 countries in supporting the women of the world through UNFPA. Under John McCain the question is wide open.

Would he be enough of a maverick to take a stand for the world’s women and against the extremist fanatics of his own party? Too much is at stake. I won’t take that chance. I’m a one issue voter.

Jane Roberts, co-founder of 34 Million Friends of UNFPA www.34millionfriends.org, she is a retired French teacher from California. Her email is JulianRob@aol.com. Distributed by CagleCartoons.com


Nader speaks at Iowa State

Ralph Nader, Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate, spoke in the Durham Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Friday. He highlighted his stance on issues concerning the cause and state of the economy. Nader also highlighted his plan for an alternative energy source. Nader is an advocate for solar energy — a renewable resource he cites as being “far superior to more oil, coal and nuclear power.” The Nader campaign gains support by touring the states and receiving funds from willing participants. Nader is on the ballot in 45 states and is currently ranked first among the third-party candidates. Nader’s running mate is Matt Gonzalez, of San Francisco.

Famous Medium “Sees” Big Find Details

[Thanks to Chubbs for this link] Posted by Christopher Kent On Oct 06, 2008 Editor’s Note: Worthologists are asked to appraise lots of art, antiques and collectibles, some with strange provenance. But Christopher Kent may have run across the strangest when a psychic wanted him to take a look at a couple of items picked up at a yard sale. Several years ago, I received a call from the director of the TV network I was working for asking about my availability to travel to Ocala, Fla. Where the heck is Ocala, Fla.? I asked. I was told. And why would we be traveling to Ocala? “Well, there is a new affiliate that has signed onto the network, and we want you to promote them and the network by doing a three-day appraisal event” was the answer. “Okay,” I said. “There will be the usual local morning shows and radio spots we want you to do, as well. Oh and by the way, you will be at a large flea market beside the dog tracks, so there’s no telling what you’re going to be looking at to appraise.” Never to look at a challenge with a jaundiced eye, I agreed. Well Ocala is not Palm Beach where I have done antique shows before, where my many Jewish mothers, grandmothers and aunts all wanted to take me home and make me dinner and, oh, by the way, appraise their wedding china, silver and crystal. Thank goodness for producers who stand in the way to protect me from myself and from taking the ladies up on their offers. I thought, Ocala in February, how bad could it be? How bad? Sweltering bad I arrive on site, production’s already set up, and I get some sunscreen, no makeup, because with the miles of tented coverage, I’m the only one standing in the sun. What’s that about? Better lighting for the camera is the answer. People have been lining up for hours. They are in the shade. They’re more than testy because the average age of the group is 80, way retired, and they’re not going to miss the early-bird lunch or dinner special, and the closest restroom is about a mile's hike across the field. I have an angel of a production person. She is able to mollify disgruntled people, who, in the end, want her to meet the doctor, lawyer, accountant, their son. That’s another story. Once again, I look at all the usual suspects. The Samsonite luggage purportedly used as a flotation device as the Titanic sank, hum. Or the Russian silverware that was a gift from the last czar, clearly made by an American firm and silver plated and possibly one of the first “pass along” gifts. There are a smattering of interesting pieces, unique 19th-century kitchen utensils with no patent marks, a couple of nice dolls, a good collection of coins, some interesting textiles and then an onslaught of Asian porcelain, some good, some dubious. I’ve been on my feet for the past five hours smelling like a coconut that has been slow baked in the sun when I Iook, beseechingly, at my director and beg for a break. I’m granted 15 minutes and am escorted the mile to the restroom lest someone who has been waiting on the sidelines wants a quickie appraisal on something that they have just so happened to have brought with them. Psychic sighting The break over, I’m back at the booth and who shows up but none other than probably the most recognized psychic of her day, whose psychic thoughts and predictions covered the front pages of the National Enquirer, the Star and any other tabloid that is syndicated coast to coast with coverage focusing on who is doing what to whom, how often, presidential predictions and was the shroud of Turin seen in the most recent Christo exhibition. She introduces herself. No intro necessary, I would recognize her and her trademark platinum-blonde hair anywhere. She is with a friend, who looks remarkably familiar, and asks if I will take a look at the items she has brought. Sure, fine, the camera starts to roll. The friend proceeds to pull out two items from her capacious handbag. One is a small, framed painting depicting a sad-looking clown. The other is a dark-burgundy leather box about 5 inches by 5 inches with an impressive-looking gold seal stamped into the face of it. There’s a gut wrench when I hold the box, unopened in my hand. Maybe the famous psychic is transmitting some energy here, and I’m getting a dose of it. The line of people has dwindled, they’re off to lunch, and so I take more time than usual to look at the two items. “Tell me about this painting,” I say. The typical TV host opener. Yard sale find—$15 for both “Well, I found it at a yard sale along with that other piece, and I thought it was kind of pretty, and I didn’t pay much for it, maybe $15.” “For the painting or both?” I ask. “Both,” she replies. “Did I do okay or what?” Or what what? I’m thinking. “Well, you did better than okay with this little painting. Have you really looked at it?” “What do you mean really look at it?” “Studied it at all?” “Not really.” I’ve drawn this out way too long and respond, “You have an original, signed, Red Skelton clown painting [at the time, the comedian/TV personality’s paintings were going for about $5,000 to $10,000 at auction]. It is worth considerably more than what you paid for it.” “Wow,” she says, the psychic and friend both flipping their hair simultaneously. “Now let’s look at this box.” I’m holding it as yet unopened. It is obviously a presentation box, and the seal is that of 18th-century France. My finger is on the small gold clasp itching to open the box. “So, you got this along with the painting at a yard sale, and you paid $15 for both pieces?” “Yes,” she answers. Too bad, the box is empty The box is in unbelievably good shape for the age that I am giving it. There is a small scuff mark on the back but no construction issues. I open it. It is lined in plum-colored silk, there’s a three-inch oval impression in the middle and nothing in the box. I repeat, nothing in the box. I am more than crestfallen. I am beyond disappointed. “Ah, well,” I say mastering my disappointment and showing the empty box to the camera. “What you have is a nice, presentation box, and it’s probably 18th century, based on the seal on the front.” I point out the seal. “These often contained a gift that was bestowed on guests in a royal assembly. It does have value to a collector of maybe a couple of hundred dollars, but without the contents, which was possibly a broach or maybe an official emblem or miniature painting, that’s about what it’s worth.” “Ah,” says the psychic’s friend, “this was inside of it.” She rummaged down the front of her considerable bosom and extracted an oval-painted miniature attached to a chain that hung around her neck. The painting was in a simple gold frame on which was etched a design of oak leaves. It had a small loop meant for inserting a chain. The subject was unmistakably Marie Antoinette; the painting style that of, I could not remember his name, clear and precise; the condition of the portrait, painted on ivory and protected by glass, was perfect. I study the frame for hallmarks and find one. I flip the framed miniature over, and there I see Marie Antoinette’s initials, not unusual in a gift. The friend of the psychic takes off the miniature, and I hold it out to the camera, which zooms over it taking in all the details. I’m rattling off salient features and marks and initials and covering for the fact that I cannot remember this artist’s name by suggesting other artists of the period that specialized in miniature portraits. And the name of the artist is . . . ask the psychic I’m still pulling a blank when I turn to the famous psychic and ask, putting the miniature into her hands, for her assistance with the artist’s name. She seems to be nonplussed by this request and immediately goes into what I would call a professional, meditative mode, that of holding the object and looking off into the middle distance. After a moment or two of silence, which is death in television—thank goodness for editors—she says hesitantly, then with more conviction, “I am getting a sense of the name. There are initials J, B, J, and maybe an A. And this was a gift to someone whose first name was François. I can see the room in which this gift was given. It was in the Petit Trianon.” I’m pretty mesmerized by all this, and I allow her to continue. “It is a warm summer’s day, and this is not an official occasion but rather a casual, familiar group of people. This was given as a token of affection, and why, Christopher, this is so familiar to you is that you have seen the original. This is a copy painted by a student of the man with the initials, J, B, J, A.” The famous psychic puts her hand on my arm and applies pressure. There was no bolt of lightning at her touch but a warmth that increased to heat. The name of the artist who painted the original appeared like neon in my brain, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin, one of the most famous miniaturists in his day. Turning to the camera, I make this pronouncement. I thank the psychic for her help and give an estimate on the value of the piece of $4,000 to $6,000 at auction. And he-e-e-re's Tony “I’d like to introduce my friend,” the psychic says removing her hand from my arm. “Tony, meet Christopher.” We shake hands. I am clearly no longer in control of this interview, but I let that go. “And,” the psychic continues, “Tony is the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette.” I really look for the first time into this woman’s face and see the possible similarities to the benighted queen and also a thin line on her neck. I’m not believing this, and I ask Tony to lift her hair to see if the line goes all the way around. Yup, sure enough, there it is. The miniature was later sold at auction with the most eloquent, speculative provenance in auction history. I’m not sure which made the better story—the find of these two pieces for fifteen bucks or the fact that I was possibly talking to Marie Antoinette. – Christopher Kent is a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine-arts broker and president of CTK Design.

- William Shakespeare

I to the world am like a drop of water, That in the ocean seeks another drop, Who, falling there to find his fellow forth (Unseen, inquisitive), confounds himself. So I, to find a mother and a brother, In quest of them (unhappy), lose myself. * 300 Identity Quotes

Election '08: Tragedy or Farce?

by Geov Parrish

A presidential election represents the peak time, every four years, in which the largest number of Americans are paying attention to politics. And with the United States embroiled in too many crises to count (economic meltdown, climate change, two losing wars, and a shredded constitution, just for starters)--a direct result of not enough people paying careful attention the last two times around, resulting in the Worst President Ever--one would hope that this would be the moment when political leadership and a sober electorate engaged in serious discussions about the future of our country.

Sigh.

With few exceptions, political candidates this year have been Campaigning As Usual, save a notable effort by Republicans to campaign on anything but issues, lest they be held responsible for the train wreck that we are now in the midst of. As the schism between popular sentiment and elite political, financial, and media desires on this month's bailout showed all too clearly, never in modern times has there been as clear a divide between the agendas of ordinary Americans and those purporting to "lead" us. A proper response would be a revolution. Saving that (which doesn't look likely--this month, anyway), voting will have to do.

Here, as usual, are the ETS! recommendations for the Nov. 4 general election. The usual caveats apply: Voting is no substitute for activism. These picks are just our opinion, from the perspective that informs our eclectic mix of news, opinions, and ideology. Do your own research, make up your own mind.

President/Vice President: In many respects, Barack Obama is the best mainstream presidential nominee to come along in memory. He's smart, even-tempered, has the capacity to inspire and lead, and would put a starkly different (and far more amenable) face on America as viewed by the rest of the world. There's no question that he and Joe Biden would be better than the disaster-in-waiting that is McCain/Palin. We'd rather see him win than not.

There's only one tiny problem, which far too many progressive fans of Obama seem too willing to overlook: he is a corporate centrist to the core. He's voted that way in the Senate, he has surrounded himself with like-minded advisors, he has campaigned and fundraised for similarly conservative colleagues (including Joe Lieberman and Maria Cantwell), and there's every reason to believe that's how he'll govern. He does have a potential upside few previous Democratic nominees have possessed, and we hope he realizes it, but we're not holding our breaths. President Obama will be more rational, more thoughtful, and less reckless than the current president (admittedly, a low bar). That doesn't mean we can or will endorse him.

This is made easier by the fact that Washington state's electoral votes will almost certainly go to Obama (and if they don't, it means McCain has won 35 or 40 other states as well). There's no reason to not vote one's conscience in this race.

Two good but also flawed progressives are also on the ballot: independent Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. Nader has the advantage of being right on most of the issues and the disadvantage of being the wrong messenger, i.e., he's Ralph Nader. His hard-earned reputation as a fearless consumer champion has been transformed into an apparently ego-driven need to keep running for president, even though, in 2004, he did so poorly that in a tightly contested race between Kerry and Bush nobody even called him a spoiler. This time, again, he's running as an independent, for his own sake rather than in the service of building any sort of movement, and he's dangerously close to becoming the Harold Stassen of our time. Voting for him would only encourage another run in 2012.

(Ditto for socialist permacandidates James Harris (SWP) and Gloria La Riva (SLP). Can't these cult-parties even find some new faces from time to time?)

Nader's candidacy is particularly inexcusable since another good, qualified progressive candidate is also running: former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. McKinney is also right on most of the issues; her flaw is that she's, well, erratic, never more so than in her recent claim of mass graves in Louisiana filled by Katrina survivors executed by the Army. Since one of the main purposes of third party and independent candidacies is to get your ideas into the national dialogue, it's kinda hopeless when some of your conspiracy-prone utterings are so nutty that nobody takes any of the rest of them seriously, either.

Where does that leave us? It's tempting to hope for a McCain/Palin win just for the sheer potential entertainment value, but we're not nihilists. And if you want farce, it's better to go all-out. So we're going to go for real entertainers, ones who seem to have a clearer understanding of the nation's problems and potential solutions (not to mention the absurdity of it all) than all of the above candidates combined. You read it here first: Jon Stewart and Tina Fey for President/Vice President.

US Representative: In Seattle, Congressman-for-Life Jim McDermott votes and talks right on all the issues but does virtually nothing for his district and has zero influence (especially given his seniority in one of the country's safest seats) in his party or Congress. On his two signature issues, health care and bad foreign wars, his rhetoric is great but he's accomplished nothing for nearly 20 years. He has no other real accomplishments (other than party hackery), either; contrasting McDermott's record with the state delegation's only other genuine progressive, the newer but far more accomplished Jay Inslee, is truly instructive. McDermott needs to go.

Alas, in his safe seat, that will only happen when he retires. He's guaranteed re-election this year, but maybe he'll retire in 2010 if his sole opponent, Republican nut Steve Beren, gets an unusual number of votes this time. We'll help. Steve Beren.

On the Eastside, voters have a chance to add another progressive to the state's delegation. Darcy Burner is in her second bid against the truly creepy Dave Reichert ("How's my hair? Hey, did I mention in the last five minutes that I used to be a sheriff?") Burner's principled, super-smart, and pragmatic--our favorite combination in an elected official. Darcy Burner.

Governor: Four years ago, Christine Gregoire eked out a narrow victory over Republican Dino Rossi, and they both underwhelmed us; we endorsed the Libertarian candidate, Ruth Bennett, instead. But a strange thing happened: While Rossi is even more repellent than he was four years ago (if that's possible), the centrist Gregoire has turned out to be a pretty good governor, getting the legislature to move forward on a variety of issues that her predecessor, the spineless Gary Locke, did nothing about.

Gregoire's not perfect, but she's been a damned sight better than we expected, and she's earned re-election. We should also note that Rossi's been running a truly repugnant campaign, freely violating campaign laws to collude with his reactionary buddies at the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and dodging mention of not only his own ultra-right stances on issues but even his party affiliation ("prefers G.O.P. Party," a crime against both grammar and openness). If he loses badly enough, maybe he'll just go away this time. Christine Gregoire.

Lieutenant Governor: This useless office has no responsibilities other than to be there should the governor get hit by a bus. Incumbent Democrat Brad Owens, over multiple terms, has thus used his office and copious spare time to propagandize for the war on drugs, a crime for which he himself should be jailed (but won't be). Republican opponent Marcia McCraw, a Ballard attorney who speaks Chinese, wants to use the office to promote interntional trade. That would be an improvement over Owen, but no candidate this year is calling for what this office really needs: abolition. Skip it.

Secretary of State:This was the primary endorsement for which ETS! got the most flack in August. We went with Republican incumbent Sam Reed. He deserves major credit for pissing off his own party by insisting on a scrupulously fair process when Gregoire edged Rossi in 2004 after multiple recounts and a court appeal. Reed's own party, in essence, wanted him to rig the election results, and he refused. Would that his colleagues in Florida and Ohio have shown such grit.

His opponent, Jason Osgood, is an election integrity activist who somehow got the Democratic Party nomination. Osgood is careful to insist that his numerous concerns about Reed involve process and the potential for abuse--not that actual abuse has occurred in our state. We appreciate the distinction. We still feel like Reed should be rewarded for his 2004 performance, but, frankly, he's going to win (he got 60 percent of the vote against three candidates in August). So we're going to reverse ourselves for narrow strategic reasons: we'd like to see the Democrats nominate more activists like Osgood for statewide office. Jason Osgood.

State Treasurer: Republican Allan Martin is currently Assistant State Treasurer and has been endorsed by the Democratic incumbent, the retiring Mike Murphy. It helps that the Democratic opponent, Jim McIntire, yet another Democratic hack who won a safe Seattle seat in the state legislature and then did nothing. McIntire hasn't earned a promotion, but Martin, according to his boss, has. Allan Martin.

State Auditor: Incumbent Brian Sonntag proved his worth all over again with his recent performance audit of the Port of Seattle (coming up: Sound Transit). He's done a fine job for years. Brian Sonntag.

Attorney General: Republican Rob McKenna, seeking a second term, is a slick and likeable guy who wants to become governor in 2012. He's also a tool of the most powerful and reactionary lobby in the state (the Building Industry Association of Washington), and he's more easily stopped now. Happily, his opponent, Democrat John Ladenburg, has done a good job both as Pierce County Executive and as chair of the regional board governing Sound Transit. John Ladenburg.

Commissioner of Public Lands: The incumbent, Republican Doug Sutherland, has never met a clearcut he didn't like. Ditto for attractive young blonde subordinates; he's admitted two separate incidents of sexual harassment in 2005 against a junior employee, who quit as a result. His opponent, Democrat Peter Goldmark, is a progressive Okanogan County rancher with a wealth of relevant experience. Peter Goldmark.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Incumbent Terry "I Love WASL" Bergeson is a disaster. Randy Dorn does not love WASL, and would be far better. Randy Dorn.

Insurance Commissioner: Democratic incumbent Mike Kreidler's opponent, Republican John Adams, works in the insurance industry. (Fox! Henhouse!) Kreidler must be doing something right. He is. Mike Kreidler.

Legislative District No. 11 (Renton/South Seattle), State Senator: Marguerite Prentice is awful. She led the drive to give away taxpayer money to the Sonics (as she has for previous stadiums and arenas); she gets tons of money from and carries water for the racist, predatory payday loan industry; and, thank Gaia, she's getting a progressive challenge this year--something a lot more entrenched Democrats around here need (see below). Juan Martinez is a progressive running an uphill, populist campaign. He needs votes, not only to beat Prentice, but to encourage more of these challenges in the future. Juan Martinez.

Legislative District No. 36 (Magnolia/Queen Anne/Ballard), State Rep., Pos. 1: A fascinating race with two strong progressive Democrats with vastly different styles. John Burbank, union-backed, has been around local Democratic circles forever. Reuven Carlyle is a young, energetic private sector guy. Either would probably be good, but there are enough Seattle Democrats that treat Olympia like a lifetime sinecure that we're going with the outsider. Reuven Carlyle.

Legislative District No. 46 (North Seattle), State Rep., Pos 2: Our friend Gerry Pollet, long the Executive Director of the Hanford watchdog Heart of America Northwest, is running for state legislature. Pollet is a pit bull: obnoxious, relentless, and someone you'd want on your side in a fight. In other words, he has the potential to be a great progressive voice in Olympia. His opponent, Scott White (not the same Scott White accused of murdering former KIRO radio talk host Mike Webb), is another Democratic Party insider. The liberal 46th already has two inert Democratic legislators in Sen. Ken Jacobsen and Rep. Phyllis Kenney; it needs a fighter like Gerry Pollet.

(In all of Seattle, there are no other meaningfully contested state legislative races. Pretty fucking sad. Skip them.)

State Supreme Court: Incumbents Mary Fairhurst, Charles Johnson, and Debra Stephens are all decent justices, but all unopposed. It's bad enough that in so many races, we don't get meaningful choices; in one where there's literally no choice at all, we recommend you skip the coronation.

Court of Appeals, Division 1, District 1: Linda Lao and Anne Schindler are both unopposed. Skip.

King Superior Court, Pos. 1: Suzanne Parisien spent two decades as a corporate lawyer for Nordstrom's. Incumbent Tim Bradshaw has a lot of shiny political endorsements. In the three-way primary, we endorsed a progressive challenger who lost, but on the theory of do-least-harm we'll reluctantly go with Tim Bradshaw.

King Superior Court, Pos. 22: Again, in August, our candidate lost; it was a three-way race in which two progressives split their vote against one conservative. The conservative is Julia Garratt. The surviving progressive is Holly Hill, who has put $70,000 of her own money into an attempt to buy herself a judgeship. We're unexcited by Garrett, but in good conscience we can't support Hill's attempt at checkbook justice, either. Skip it.

King Superior Court, Pos. 37: Once more, in August's three-way race, our guy lost. Neither of the survivors thrills us, but incumbent Jean Rietschel, a former public defender, is a better bet than challenger Barbara Mack, an ambitious Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with a long list of political endorsements. Jean Reitschel.

I-985: Tim Eyman is selling his latest as "congestion relief." (Don't they make meth out of products like that?) But as you may have noticed, Tim Eyman is a bald-faced liar; it's anything but. It would divert money away from Sound Transit and mass transit to road-building at exactly the time we need to be getting people out of their cars. No, No, and No.

I-1000: Religious lobbies are pouring in money and deception to try and defeat this measure, which would allow the terminally ill the legal right to control their own passing. What is it about so many Christians that they don't trust us to make decisions about our own bodies? Yes.

I-1029: Would require certification for long-term care workers for elderly and disabled persons. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: Would elect the county's Elections Director. Managing a modern elections office is a job for professionals who know their business, not for partisan political hacks. This is backed by Republicans, still bitter at Dino Rossi's 2004 loss, who would rather make this an obscure elected office and then stack the office with a hack of their choosing. No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2: Would add "disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression" to the list of the county's banned discriminatory practices in employment and contracting. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 3: Would revise the structure of regional committees, most notably reducing the number of county council members from six to three. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 4: Would establish professional qualifications for the elected offices of Sheriff and Assessor. No other county in the state has such a provision--and the whole point of having elected department heads is that the people decide who serves, not some anonymous committee who vets challengers' resumes first. This "solves" a problem that doesn't need fixing. No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 5: Establishes an economic forecast council and a Office of Economic and Financial Analysis. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6: Moves budget deadlines 20 days earlier. More time to catch all the hidden surprises. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7: This has one good provision--it removes the county council approval process for citizen initiatives to make it on the ballot--and one really, really bad one--it doubles the number of signatures required, from a threshold that's already 20 percent higher (by percentage of eligible voters) than the state's requirement. No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8: Would make the King County Executive, County Council, and County Assessor "nonpartisan." The quote marks are there because this is an initiative backed by local Republicans, who've noticed that their party affiliation, if stated openly, is a liability (ask Dino Rossi). They don't actually want nonpartisanship; they just want to hide their ideology and affiliations. No.

City of Seattle Proposition No. 1: Would raise $73 million in property taxes to renovate Pike Place Market. Ya know what? In bad economic times, households put renovations off. Governments can, too, especially with all the more urgent needs that will have to struggle for funding in the coming year of shrinking budgets. No.

City of Seattle Proposition No. 2: See above, and substitute $145 million for city parks--money intended for a long wish list of projects at a time when wish lists aren't appropriate, and with a Parks Department that has had serious problems in recent years with transparency, accountability, and commercialization. We love parks, but ... not this measure, this year. No.

Sound Transit Proposition No. 1: On the other hand, there is nothing optional about expanding Sound Transit's light rail, bus, and commuter rail operations. We will have to provide alternatives to the automobile in coming years, and the sooner we do it the better for the planet, our pocketbooks, and our sanity. Yes.

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Vote for Sonora Cat Rescue - PLEASE

!!Help us help Tuolumne County by voting for Sonora Cat Rescue!! Now you can help us choose which eligible animal rescue organizations will receive special funds to help animals! Participating is simple. You can cast one vote every day for your favorite rescue. Eligible organizations with the most votes could receive one of the grants below! Grand Prize: One $25,000 grant! Runner Up: One $10,000 grant! State Winners*: Fifty-four $1,000 state grants Weekly Winners**: Eleven $1,000 weekly grants Voting begins on September 29th and ends at midnight (PST) on December 14th, 2008. The more friends you can rally to vote for your favorite rescue organization, the better its chances of winning. Get people involved! Your favorite rescue organization is counting on you! Search And Vote For A Shelter

- Lao-Tzu

He who knows others is learned; He who knows himself is wise.

How some women never get sick - by staying positive

In one study, participants who had heightened activity in a region of the brain associated with a positive attitude produced greater amounts of flu antibodies.

American soldiers in Iraq describe how they can kill civilians

American soldiers in Iraq describe how they can kill civilians


Thursday, October 09, 2008

In Unity There Is Strength

MEXICO- On the 87th memorial of Emiliano Zapata’s death, defender of land and hero of the Mexican Revolution, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN in its Spanish initials) and its supporters have proved that the rebellious spirit of justice for the common people is more alive then ever in post-NAFTA Mexico.

On the morning of April 10, in Zapata’s home state of Morelos, a group of ten environmentalists, neighbors, and local kids stood linked arm in arm in front of Willow Gorge, vulnerably facing fifty members of the state police in full regalia. Their mission to save the gorge from road construction did not look promising.

The police, members of the various government departments, along with heavy construction machinery, were waiting for the clock to strike 11 AM, the moment when which a court order blocking the construction would expire. Two ambulances were also on hand, for the history of the Morelos state police is bloody.

From their experience, the activists knew that petitions did not take them far and that in this case the only way to protect the environmentally valuable gorge was to put their bodies on the line.

“We made a barricade of cars and a human chain with our arms. It consisted of people from the neighborhood, environmentalists, really all kinds of people. Everyone was instructed to not respond to violence because our movement is a nonviolent civil resistance,” said lead organizer Flor Guerrero, a well known local environmentalist.

The protesters readily accepted their fate- until Subcomandante Marcos, the baklava clad leader of the EZLN, also known as the Zapatistas, got word of their situation.

Marcos and La Otra Campaña (The Other Campaign), a nationwide listening tour organized by the EZLN, was in Morelos that week to hear and address the struggles of the Morelense people. Since leaving its home state of Chiapas in southern Mexico in January, La Otra has stopped in cities and villages nationwide to hold public meetings in which people have a chance to speak out about their struggles.

At its core, La Otra wants to listen and create solidarity at a local level. It does not offer immediate solutions, but attempts to provide a forum where people can communicate.

That Monday, La Otra was scheduled to commemorate the death of Emiliano Zapata, the inspiration of the EZLN, in his hometown in the east of the state. In fact, the caravan was already on its way there when Marcos called with an order to turn around. They were needed back in Cuernavaca.

Word spread like wildfire and press, alternative and mainstream alike, began showing up at Willow Gorge. The police, too, got word of their arrival and quickly retreated to a nearby police academy. The presence of Marcos was enough to push them away.

“It was like a movie,” said Guerrero. “There were the good guys and then the bad guys arrived. But, then, in a very precise moment, the hero came in and saved the day.”

“It was as if Marcos just showed up and the forces of evil fled, ” said Charles Goff, who spent the day at Willow Gorge. “They did not want a showdown with Marcos. His political power is greater than their power of repression, though he arrived with no weapons at all.”

The police forces waited, but La Otra stayed put, drawing more supporters with each minute.

“La Otra and Marcos said they were going to wait until a new injunction halting the construction project was passed,” said Guerrero.

When those expecting La Otra in Zapata’s home town learned of the change of plans, they came to offer their support to where it was needed. Soon the Emiliano Zapata Union of Communal Farmers from the neighboring state of Michocan showed up, with highly respected leaders from the indigenous and farmer communities. Not far behind were the Party of Communists and the Communist Youth. The worker-owned Pascual Cooperative, producer of the popular Boing! drink, came to show their support and quench the protesters’ thirst, free of charge.

By afternoon, an army of university students from the politically powerful National Autonomous University of Mexico from Mexico City made its grand entrance, shouting colorful exploitive-filled slogans. Perhaps the most dramatic entrance was announced by the sound of clanking machetes of more than 200 members of the People’s Front in the Defense of the Land, a group highly respected for their solidarity, power, and success in past struggles.

Spontaneously, neighbors started appearing with pots of rice, beans, and tortillas to feed the crowd.

“It really was like a Biblical event, with the forces of evil fleeing and the multiplying of the loaves and fishes. There was no food to feed all these people and when word got out, all the neighbors showed up with food. It was completely unplanned. Everybody ate, and some ate twice,” recalled Goff.

Before long, what started as a small hopeless protest had turned into an inspiring manifestation of solidarity of 500 with the EZLN’s support.

“If the Zapatistas had not showed up, the police would be in the ravine right now,” said Goff.

“The words that come from my heart will never be enough to thank you for saving us today from the talons of the state police. You literally saved our lives,” said Guerrero in a speech that day.

And perhaps this is the real power of the Zapatistas, who have put down their weapons to travel and talk to the people of each state of the country about solidarity and resistance.

Fourteen years ago, the EZLN, linking anti-globalization, Mexican revolution and indigenous rights, rose up violently in the southern state of Chiapas on the day North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. While politicians claimed that NAFTA would create new jobs and improve the economies of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, the Zapatistas recognized it as “death to indigenous people,” who already were suffering 500 years of exploitation since the Spanish conquest.

What followed was two weeks of fighting in the EZLN’s home state of Chiapas, rich in resources yet of extreme poverty due to the wealthy local oligarchy.

The charismatic, sarcastic, witty, mysterious, and always colorfully described, “Subcomandante Marcos” emerged as the leader of the Zapatistas. His face always covered by a black baklava, he sends out communiqués from the jungle and also poses for the cameras constantly on him. While he has never acknowledged his identity, it is believed he is a former professor and political organizer who traveled to Chiapas to take advantage of a situation that was ripe for revolution, but wound up being changed by 12 years of living in the jungle with indigenous people. Instead of emerging as communists, they retained their indigenous values and emerged as rebels against injustice.

In the most recent communiqué of June 2005, the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the EZLN describes their roots, their ideas, and their future in language simple enough for their fellow brothers and sisters, many without formal educations, to understand.

“We wanted to fight along with everyone who was humble and simple like ourselves and who was in great need and who suffered the exploitation and thievery by the rich and their bad governments here, in our Mexico, and in other countries all over the world,” they write.

While they originally started as an army, the Zapatistas have, for the most part, been nonviolent since their original uprising in 1994.

“We listened to those brothers and sisters from the city who were telling us to try to reach an agreement with the bad governments, so that the problem could be solved without a massacre. And so we paid attention to them, because they are what we call ‘the people.’ And so we sat aside fire and took up the word,” the Sixth Declaration explains.

Their righteous struggle, humble background, and, not to forget, well choreographed public relations (thanks to Marcos) have made the Zapatistas popular globally. They are more than just another Latin American guerrilla army; the Zapatistas are visited by politicians, rock stars, activists, literary figures, actors, and regular curious folks from all corners of the globe.

“Now we are also being helped by many people from all over the world…we joined together to talk with persons from America and from Asia and from Europe and from Africa and from Oceania, and we learned of their struggles and their ways,” they write in the Sixth Declaration.

Perhaps this is what makes the Zapatistas so popular and enigmatic. Their struggle is bigger their Mexico. Today, the EZLN fights against neoliberlism and for everything that it destructs.

“Neoliberalist globalization destroys what exists in these countries. It destroys their culture, their language, their economic system, their political system, and it also destroys the ways in which those who live in that country relate to each other. So everything that makes a country as country is left destroyed,” declares the Sixth Declaration.

So while the Zapatistas are from a small state in southern Mexico, their struggle is far bigger. They support indigenous peoples, workers of the countryside, workers of the city, students, non-conformists, homosexuals, socially active clergy, social activists, and all the people of Mexico “who do not sell out.” Their struggle is wide and everyone is welcome.

“It makes us quite happy to see resistances and rebellions appearing everywhere, such as ours, which is a bit small, but here were are. And we see this all over the world, and now our heart learns that we are not alone.”

This is the essence and strength of the Zapatistas. The spontaneous act of camaraderie that took place in the small state of Morelos on April 10 is not unique.

Seeing a small movement struggle despite great odds, the Zapatistas, in solidarity, appeared and attracted many more. And while many of the original protesters were not even affiliated with the EZLN, the common struggle for the environment brought them together. The Zapatistas showed once again that in unity, there is strength.


Cindy Sheehan receives significant endorsement from the SF Bay Guardian.

The antiwar and Gold Star mom, Cindy Sheehan is at best a long shot to unseat the Speaker of the House. But the SF Bay Guardian can't endorse Nancy Pelosi, who has consistently supported funding the war and backed the bailout. Sheehan wants a fast withdrawal from Iraq, opposes any bailout for the big financial institutions, and is a voice against business as usual in Congress.

Life Etheric: Living between worlds - Healing Thought Forms

From: http://orgonesoulwork.blogspot.com

This space has been established in the pursuit of Truth, knowledge and Higher understanding of Astral body and Soul body development in the Subtle realms of existence.

It's purpose is to facilitate a transition to a 'New Earth' with the understanding of a new, unconventional 'path' and unique simple ways to reclaim our Freedom as Human Beings, from the stranglehold of Tyranny.

"Speaking the Truth in times of Universal deciet, is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

{R}Evolution of the soul

The Contents and Articles found in this 'Space', are based on Eastern Mystical teachings, Science, The Astral world, Universal Law, and Revelation from a Monotheistic Concept of God. Any Free-Minded Person is welcome to read the Information and form their own opinions from the Information offered here, the Views expressed are not designed to convince Anyone of Anything, only to educate those who gravitate to toward this Life path and a common pursuit for Truth.
Grey Wolf on Healing Thought Forms By Grey Wolf http://educate-yourself.org/cn/greywolffeelingforms15mar06.shtml March 15, 2006 Dear Ken, I had no idea there were people making HHgs, Cloudbusters, and this other stuff. Gee. I've been doing this work for years, using feeling forms. I'm not the only one, even on the Web, one sees people using thought forms, or feeling forms, of HHg's and similar devices. Don Croft can reach anywhere in this Universe, simply by imagining himself there, and then putting a feeling form HHg in place. Why not make an HHg the size of the great pyramid? And by way, he complains about people removing his HHg's; the physical one might have been removed, but the local devas still have the feeling form, and are using it. Why not seed 100,000 HHg's on a particular site, in say all 12 dimensions? Let's talk about this. I won't say feeling forms are as good as physical HHg's, they're only around 80% as effective. If you ask for angelic help, though, they are even more effective than the physical ones. Remember, angels, devas, and so on, are starving for better feeling forms to work with than what the mass media puts out. For Healing Communities Using Chi Modulation Remember that Chi, which can be seen as brilliant white light, welcomes good intentions. Chi is the ether, the force. 1. Breathe deeply 4 times, relax into your soul. Be at peace. 2. Pick your target- a Medicine Wheel, whether physical or existing only in your imagination, can function as a very nice capacitor, however most any target will do. Obviously targets full of bad energy are also good. Remember that the local devas are sick with the bad energy, and they are starving for your healing energy. If you have good intentions, you won't be able to make mistakes. 3. You could make or notice a VISUAL image. This might be healing energy, or brilliant light, or whatever visual image turns you on emotionally. If it's fun, you are doing it right. 4. You could make or listen for an AUDITORY sound. Angelic choirs, the sound of wind in the trees, a G Major chord, whatever sound feels healing to you. 5. You could feel, or make, a KINESTHETIC, or feeling, image. You could imagine what it feels like to be a little child, entranced with the wonder of the Universe. Consider times in your life when you felt on top of the world, when everything felt right, and in harmony. Feel those feelings again. Use some sort of marker, like perhaps putting your thumb and forefinger together, so that you can "trigger" these feelings at will. 6. You could add or notice an olfactory image, such as the smell of beautiful flowers. This might sound involved, looking at the printed text, but relax! Allowing healing energy to flow through you is the most natural thing in the world. Consider a time in your life when you really felt love flowing through your heart: there wasn't any effort involved, really. You are just "allowing" a flow. The energy already exists; all you have to do is give it focus. "Efforting" is a left brain activity. This method comes from the right brain, the 90% of capacity not normally used. Consider your target. To start, you could just use the Kinesthetic, the Feeling, image. Feel and know that healing energy is flowing into your target. When it feels right, add another sense, perhaps the Visual, and later the Auditory. Practice as regularly as you can. People who do this regularly note that it sometimes will go on automatic, i.e. as soon as you express the intention, and sometimes even before, the energy just starts, as if an invisible hand turned on a hose. Just let this happen. It is natural. The FEELING is the most important of the 3 major senses. If you do nothing else, do that one, and you'll get the majority of the effect. Healing Vortex If you want to go further, you can create a healing vortex. Relax, clear your mind, and find a place where you won't be disturbed. Well you could do this even under high stress, and I have, but when starting, it's easier in a quiet place. Center yourself spiritually and have fun with this. The creator put fun on the planet to mark out correct solutions. If what you're doing isn't fun, there is a problem that needs fixing. Rub your hands together vigorously. Now, not only visualizing, but also FEELING it (the feeling is the more important), feel a clockwise vortex, just like a tornado or the vortex that's created when you let the water out of the bathtub, to form, perhaps 6" tall. Healing energy naturally forms the right way, you don't have to push or worry. I prefer to have it of brilliant, iridescent, opalescent light, but that is my preference. Do whatever feels right. Give it purpose with the clearest possible intention that you can- a 24/7 "faucet" pouring healing energy into an area is good. If you remember the movie Star Wars, you can use the Force, which is chi, to learn, to heal, and to defend, but never to attack. Your role is to make a clear intention. Do NOT use your own energy, let energy- the Chi- flow from the Universe through you into what you are doing. When the intention is complete, ask your concept of Deity, or the Universe, or whatever your image of that which is much larger than you, to energize it, to make it bigger, and so on. If you study Chaos Theory, you have created a pattern, and this pattern becomes a self-similarity to something much larger. Everything is connected- even very small effects affect the whole, significantly. In a system, the web of relationships is far more important than the physical elements. What you are doing is improving the communication, the energy flow, the "web", in a very powerful way. Lock the vortex in place. You could just see it being locked down, or do whatever feels right to have it set in place, and harmonizing with what is already there. It can be helpful to ground this vortex in something physical, such as a Medicine Wheel. Now give it the rest of its 4 legs- a lifetime, i.e. a date when it will cease to exist, and a name. So it has an intention, a location, a lifetime, and a name. Choose a name that no-one else would guess, or let your subconscious assign one. You can use contingent lifetimes, e.g. it will work as long as x is in existence. Now this sounds very simple. It is simple. You don't need anything more than what you see here. When I was a kid, I was told in school that we used 5-10% of our brains. I wanted to get into the 90%. You must come from your heart for this kind of work. This kind of work has little to do with the head. It's best if you do this out of a "love for people", for your planet, and for all that is. Climb as much out of your head, and out of your small self, as you can. "Debunkers" and scientists have no understanding of these methods and they are not receptive to any discussion about them. It is best to respect their restrictive belief systems, and simply to avoid discussing anything along these lines with them. They have their own path; respect that. You have yours. Notes Results are the only report card. Try to keep notes on when and where you put energy forms like this. I have personally gotten results far beyond my expectations; staggering results that delighted me and were beyond what I believed possible. The interesting thing is that, somehow, all the good things happen as if they would have happened anyway. You won't see the feedback unless you actively look. People who live in their heads, who associate you with the incredible things that result from your use of these methods, will assume that you have some exotic ability that can't be duplicated. And it can't, at least not in their belief systems. It is best to keep a low profile. There is no reason to publicize your use of energy methods (and try not to have too much fun). Angelic Optimization You have a team of angels around you, whether you know it or not. Ask them to optimize structure and performance, and they will. I have found some incredible characteristics in angelically optimized feeling forms. As for counter-measures, feeling forms can only be countered by someone of at least your spiritual level. If you have angelic optimization, they can only be countered by someone at a level equal to that of angels. You can set up contingent mines, for example, and if something happens, an explosion of white light occurs. Your feeling forms can replicate, virally, if you want, even developing new abilities in a particular area. By way, there are people offering feeling forms of Slim Spurling' s devices, to local devas, and they are at least 80% as effective as the physical device. I like offering a thought form of platonic solids formed of Spurling devices. The devas act like little kids at Christmas time with stuff like that. Mad Scientist size devices are also popular. I installed a 20 story high Harmonizer in my city, with angelic enhancement. I find that 2 meter tall Bugs Bunny feeling forms passing out harmonizers work well, also. Grokking "Grokking" is a useful sense to use in your energy work. The term was coined by Robert A. Heinlein, in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. The sense is discussed in Serge King's book Urban Shaman. Basic grokking is easy. Put your total awareness on your right hand. Be totally aware of your hand- any pulsation, the bounds, where the hand stops, etc.. Sometimes you might even feel a tingling. Now do the same for your big toe. Now wiggle your big toe. Now expand your awareness to the room you are in. Feel its bounds. No thinking or "efforting" necessary, just feel it, like a little kid excitedly exploring something new. Wiggle the room a little. Feel its boundaries and what is in it. Now, feel your community in the same way. You can feel areas of health, and dis-ease. I used to have to drive through Hell's Kitchen, in Brooklyn, and I literally felt as if I'd been punched in the gut. Of course, I made some shifts. In a national park, I'm in heaven. Before lightning can ever strike, a charged path of electrons is set up- one reaches down from the clouds and the other reaches up from the earth. This occurs several minutes before a lightning strike, and is the reason your hair stands up on end just before a strike. When the path is complete, lightning can come down the path, and an arc also reaches up from the earth. In precisely the same way, as you can prove to yourself via grokking, "energy paths" are set up in communities, both positive and negative. Before any violent crime can occur, a path is laid out, resentment, anger, whatever. This is NOT a metaphor, I literally feel this. This is true for both negative and positive activities. Rupert Sheldrake discusses this as morphogenetic field. Here's the kicker: you can clear the negative energy paths. There are several methods. 1. You can fill them up from inside, like water in a pipe, and expand and break them. 2. You can "flame" them using elemental fire. 3. You can ask angels to clear them, from your heart, with the total faith of a child. 4. You can "tear" them loose from the fabric of a community, as you would rip out the framing of a house. Tapeworms and other internal parasites- and these low grade pathways- are "trash feeders", a clear indication of poor health and diet and attitude. Improve the diet, attitude, and health, and the parasites are automatically expelled. It's the same way with criminals and violent people; they are 'trash feeders'. Elemental fire is summoned by using visual image of spectral red, auditory of "shhhhhhh", and kinesthetic of hot and dry, like a blast furnace. If you only do one, do the kinesthetic. The Archangel Michael is the fire angel. Always cool off with water after using fire, the keys are sea blue or blue green, mmmmmmmm, and cold and wet, like a blast freezer. The related Archangel is Gabrielle. You don't have to use energy work-- you can let plants do it for you, as noted in the Lafitte Beautification and Garden Club story, on p. 47, titled "50 Ways to Help Your Community" (by Steve and Sharon Fiffer -publ Doubleday, NY, 1994, ISBN 0-385-47234-X). Community gardening properly done, summons the chi energy, as well. If you talk to your plants, and sell them on improving the chi flow in the area, they will do the job even better. A little lilac flame does wonders for them, also. Yes, people may still have the negative habits, and they may repave the energy paths, but it is a lot more work to lay down new road, than to maintain what is already there. You have put an "energy wall" to negativity. You can feed energy through a Hara point, and that is great, and it works fine. This also works for me. One of the major problems of energy techniques is that you rarely get feedback. The good things that happen just seem like they would have happened anyway. Well, that's a frustration. It just is. It is fun to play with shapes. For example, Claude Bristol's book The Magic of Believing notes that surrounding yourself, your house, your family with a radiant white circle, in your imagination, is very protective. Actually, in a chi sense, this surrounds them with an infinitely high column of light. You can use any of the Platonic solids. Energy work is basically allowing positive energy to pour in, which is cool. There is an inverse, which is keeping negative energy out. You can put up an "energy wall", a thought form, more precisely a "feeling form", wall. Work with a friend who knows how to use a dowsing rod, or an L-rod. Make a pyramid, or a globe, or a cube, about 2 feet in diameter, on a table, and ask them to dowse its shape. This is just a test in an area that is hard to get feedback on. I put up a filter, at all entrances where I work, that would filter out all bad energy. Basically, to do it, get out of your head and into your feelings. Let the shape flow out of your heart, into the site, and "lock" it into place so it won't wander. Give it its purpose- say, "to filter out all bad energy", and a lifetime, say 50 years. You can put a sphere of white light around it to protect it from others, to keep it from being altered, or seal it some other way. You can make it like a Slim Spurling coil, so all the bad energy is rendered good. Chinese Feng Shui has some really neat similar ideas, too. Following are some other examples. Feeling Form Walls A past president of the American Society of Dowsers built an electric fence feeling form to keep his dog from chasing deer, and it worked just fine. He also puts feeling form walls around his farm to keep hunters or anyone with ill intent from even being aware of it. During deer season (he just can't hunt deer, they are too beautiful to shoot), he calls the deer to take shelter on his farm, and his farm is crowded with them. How does he call the deer? Well, he goes into his backyard, and speaks out loud, as if all the deer in a 30 mile radius could hear him, and tells them they are safe in his farm, if they want. Yes, it works. I find that if I treat the xerox machine at work lovingly, it jams a lot less. He built a feeling form to keep fleas and ticks away from his lawn. They bothered him a lot before, but now they are absent, at least from the mowed areas that he asked them to stay out of. He won't kill them, they have a right to exist, but boundaries are reasonable. One can also do the Findhorn thing of seeking out the ruler of the animals, and asking them to keep animals away. He worked with a woman whose resort was doing badly. He made her Yellow Pages ad flash, with a thoughtform, and built a huge thoughtform sign, flashing, searchlights, etc., near it. (Signs don't work with animals, they can't read). He locked down a pyramid thoughtform of prosperity with 4 quartz crystals to the four directions over her resort. She soon had more business than she'd ever had. He is doing research on cleaning up groundwater pollution with energy work in his Ozark Research Institute, in Arkansas. He says he builds his energy forms with love in his heart, that he starts in the center with powerful energy and lets it grow outwards to the boundaries he wants. Another dowser has built energy form walls to cover a door, that are permeable from the outside in but not the inside out, to keep her cat indoors (an energy wall is more flexible than its physical counterpart). I have also built energy form constructs to transmute bad energy. When I visited the Vietnam War memorial, I felt a lot of grief, just sitting with nowhere to go. So I set up a transmuter vortex there, that would transmute the energy into really nice energy, and pump it into depressed areas of Washington, DC. Machaelle Small Wright has done similar work, as cited in her first Garden workbook, at the Gettysburg, PA battlefield national park. See, battlefields have a lot of really bad energy, but it can be cleared. Focused Intent When you work with angels, it helps to have a very clear intention, and to simply let the angels use the Chi energy in your attention to bring it about. How do you do that? Simply focus on your intention, and invite them in. Angels can't help you much if you don't request it. So, make a standing request for help. In fact, you might want to make a standing request for angelic help all over the planet. Assistants Dr. Joseph Jochmans notes that, for those that want to go further, angels of place, and angels of design (nature spirits and devas, in Findhorn/Machaelle Small Wright terminology) have a very strong impulse to create beauty, but they need human cooperation. Every entity brings its own unique energy to creation, and for humans, it's a kind of lilac light, light purple light. You give even just a spark of that flame to the local angels of place, and they will blow it up into a large flame, to clear out bad energy. See, they don't like keeping slums and garbage in form, they prefer beauty, but they have no choice, due to the pre-creation contract, if humans don't work with them. I can feel a great sigh of relief when I offer purple light to a troubled area, and I can do it in a 10 mile swath when I'm driving through a bad area. It is very helpful to give intent, to the angels of place; I usually just ask them to create unique beauty, whatever is most in harmony with local conditions. I was at a polluted site in nature, called by some the Medicine Waters, before I understood the above methods. All I knew to do was offer a lilac flame to the local deva. See, each class of creatures brings its own unique energy to creation, and that's ours. The Devas don't have that. However, if you offer the tiniest spark, they can whip it up into a big flame. A group spontaneously formed to clean up that place in nature, within 6 months. Do you have to use energy techniques? Well, no, you can do it purely through efforts in the flesh, in the material world. It's just harder. I find that using energy, and doing nothing in the physical world, is not as effective as I would like. Beauty is a nutrient. Beauty is food for the soul. I want to create healing beauty everywhere I go. This is a great cheap way to do that. You feed your energy into the Hara point of a community, and suddenly realize... that a hara point is on something that is alive. Your community is a living entity and giving it good energy is kind of like giving a kid something really cool. You can almost feel it stirring in excitement. Yitzhak Bentov discusses this in his books Stalking the Wild Pendulum, and A Cosmic Book. It doesn't matter if any of these books didn't exist. If you just sit in Nature (in fact if you just sit in your apartment) and ask questions, and be open, you'll find yourself downloading techniques via direct revelation. This is nothing new to humans, and it's getting easier and easier, even with the towers and mass media. By the way, the towers and mass media are signs of desperation. Look at 1500's art. You see the "genius" of a city portrayed. This is a metaphorical symbol of the living soul of a city. This is not a new concept at all. You can't speak to the east wind, but you can speak with Zephyr. The direction South, on the medicine wheel, is associated usually with noon, with summer, with the color red, the element of fire, the archangel Michael, and wherever your center is. There are guardians at the 4 directions that you can talk to, if you wish. Talk to them. Get ideas on how you can heal your community. You won't get English, you will get "awareness capsules", which download as feelings, which you can usually get as words, though the feelings are purer. Machaelle Small Wright and the Findhorn people talk about this, in several books. Richard Leviton is doing some fascinating work in this field, as in his book, The Emerald Modem. He began his work along these lines with a visit to Glastonbury, England, where the angel or spirit of that place spoke to him. It was a shock. He wasn't expecting it. Put a sphere of white light around you, to seal out energy you don't need. Always test what you are getting, if you are picking up a strong desire to go shoot grandma or something, then you know you aren't getting good energy. I know right away when I'm getting bad energy and have never had any trouble picking it out, from the first. If you feel your heart, you won't either. It's people in denial, who deny their feelings, who invoke bad energies. Remember, if it's fun, you're doing it right. Dowsers at the American Society of Dowsers conferences note that by working with the local angels of place, that "veins" of groundwater can be cleared of pollutants. Ssuch "veins" can be redirected to fill a dry well, and so forth. I wonder what sort of technology we'll see, when the ghost of the medieval idea of Roger Bacon- that one must torture nature's secrets out of her- is finally laid to its long-overdue rest and we realize that creation in the material can be as much fun as making love? I work with wood in this way. I speak to the spirit of my table saw, and to the wood, and ask that we work together to create beauty, and my creations come out very nice. Timelines Timelines, as defined by Tad James, in his The Secret of Creating your Future, and Timeline Therapy and the Structure of Personality, Tom Brown, Jr., as noted in his book Grandfather, Jose Silva, as in his Silva Mind Control, and even one of Sun Bear's books, offer great potential for this work. It is a good thing to feed a community entity in the now. You can heal the trauma in your own past, and even work the timeline of a community, and heal the trauma in the community's past timeline. This is easy enough to do because at any given moment we create both future and past. The future timeline is even more interesting. Basically, it is far less concrete than a past timeline, and shifts with major decisions. It is possible to plant a desired event on the future timeline, and to energize it, so it will come about, this is a Huna technique. Tom Brown, Jr.'s teacher told him of the timeline in this way- the now is the palm of your hand. The PROBABLE future is your thumb. There are, however, a number of possible futures, and he pointed to his fingers. Edgar Cayce noted that WWII was avoidable up to a certain point in the 1930's, as one example. In Chaos Theory, the beat of a butterfly's wings outside your window literally- not metaphorically, literally- has an effect on the weather in Hong Kong. Things are that inter-connected. We live in a world of inter-being. It can be frustrating to deal with the inertia of the now. There is, however, another possibility. If you choose a future timeline that is possible, but not probable- I prefer to work with ideal futures- you can energize that future with these methods. This is not the same as weaving a desired event into a personal timeline, sort of like making reservations for a future trip. No, this is choosing an entirely new route. Helping Others I find that all spiritual methods work much better if there is a focus on the common good, on helping others and the "larger self" of humanity, the earth, and the cosmos. A purpose larger than self energizes plans well. I have found people using Fountain methods for ill purposes. Consider your high school geometry. 4/0 is... what? Undefined, because it is infinite. 4 over a million is a tiny number, but as the million approaches 1, and then 0, the number grows and grows, until it becomes infinite. Consider an angle- you have rise over run. A horizontal angle has 0 rise over infinite run, so the answer is 0. A vertical line has infinite rise over 0. It is infinity- or undefined. Now, in Reichian energy work, among other places, healthy energy flow is vertical, in the body, and energy blocks are horizontal. What I have found is that those who do selfish things, things that cause harm intentionally to innocents, those who let the demons in their psychological shadow run unchecked, tend more and more towards the horizontal, that is, where they have less and less power. They may have an appeal to fear, but they are rarely very powerful. And the power they use is debilitating to them. However, the more one does to help others- small things, even, are extraordinarily effective. The more one does to be pleasant with others, to help where possible, the more one tends towards the vertical slope, and increased power and energy. I make this point because when you start "grokking" out possible futures, you will feel others doing the same thing, even people from the past and future, and they are not always full of love and light. Remember those Hieronymous Bosch paintings of angels kicking ass in the lower astral, angels are not all fluff either. It is important to remember that when you work with the divine will, you have far more power than the dark ones do, and once they understand that you know this, they will get out of your way. I find that if I run across such people, I just flame up with light, and love, and speak to the light inside them, however obscured, and they have a strong desire to get away as fast as they can, before the light breaks through the crust of darkness. Love can be a powerful weapon against such people. I radiate it through my heart, usually, with a feeling like white water rafting, like there is so much energy I can barely stand it. Also, people who have done many bad things to intentionally cause harm to innocents have a major load of karma waiting for them, which I image sometimes as a great body of water behind a weak dam. If you flame up the light around these people, in fact if you just be positive, the dam weakens even more, and they have to concentrate on shoring it up, rather than bothering you. The dam in the second Lord of the Rings movie was just like what I have seen for 20 years. Some years ago, I ran across a 17 year old who was being bothered by an evil person, who was even haunting his dreams. I showed him a few things, and he had no more problems with that person. We have to remember that we are in a world of dualities, also. Evil people perform a service, associated with the lesson of choice. In this dimension, you have to have the opportunity to choose evil, for the choice for the light to matter. The key point is that one can "grok" out a highly desirable future, however improbable, and energize it to increase its chances of fruition. When one does this, it is very important to pay attention to the voice of intuition- the tiniest things can have massive effects, way beyond what one might expect. Feedback, when it comes, is almost always below your level of awareness. Being aware of feedback often demands expanding awareness. Also, I've found I cannot dictate feedback, it comes in whatever form it comes in, and either I see it or I don't. Also, it is particularly useful for this work to identify totally with one's higher self, the "guardian angel", your Self outside of the bounds of space and time, whatever you want to call it, and to move with the divine will. Remember that we have freedom of choice. It is still possible, as well as fun, to work within the divine will and to heal. It is as if the Creator gave us a piano, and we have the choice of creating beautiful music, raucous music, discordant notes, banging keys, playing underneath the piano, throwing it out, giving it away, or ignoring it. However, the general bias of the Universe is towards beauty, and awareness. "Grok" out the most positive, ideal future you can. How? Well, start from the present, on your timeline, and expand your timeline to where it is your community's timeline. Note the filaments of light leading into the future. Ask the QUESTION: "What is the most ideal path, the path where the Divine Will is best served, where people achieve all their dreams, effortlessly, playfully, lovingly, safely, easily, honestly, in a really beautiful way, that feels great?" Once you formulate the question, one of the filaments of light will seem brighter, or sound better, or it will draw you along it. Go down the filament to whatever point has fruition for you. Now, look back. The goal is accomplished. What small things did you do to help bring this fruition about? Yes, I know, people do this from a left brain viewpoint, which is like using a funnel turned upside down. Do this from a heart-based, meditative, loving space, and you get much better answers. You may only get an awareness capsule. "Lock" this path in place, which you can do kinesthetically by feeling it lock, verbally by saying "This path is now locked", or visually by whatever works for you. Tell your subconscious mind (give it a name, if you like- you will be getting more and more friendly with this fellow, as you clean out your psychological shadow with his/her help) that you want to be intuitively guided along this path in your life. Then return to the present, consciously, or withdraw your focus and let it happen. Identify with your Higher Self, even just for a few minutes per day, so that you can get that high level energy to help. When I meditate, I feel as if it is a modem to God, and I download everything I need for the day. 10 minutes a day makes me feel like I've eaten a Thanksgiving dinner, but that's probably because I have a lot more growing to do. I have been taught conscious "grokking" in a seminar modelled on Silva Mind Control, through Avatar [www.starsedge.com], through Tom Brown's school, and in several other places. The Avatar folks probably have the most conscious control of grokking, and their instruction is certainly more detailed than anybody else's. The sense works best when you are in a quiet, relaxed place. Jean Houston's book Mind Games has interesting exercises. It is easy to get hung up on techniques; I just let my heart guide me to what fascinates me, to what is fun. If you doubt the need to do this work, "grok" out a lake, first, then an ocean, and then all water on the planet, and feel how it feels about all the pollutants being dumped into it. "Grok" the entire planet, especially during a nuclear test, if you want an eye-opener on pain. You can "grok" an individual atom, which is interesting, or any wave in the spectrum, or buildings, or communities, or anything you can name or define. "Grokking" concepts and emotions is very fascinating, also. Anything you "grok" can be shifted, or have healing energy added, or otherwise be calibrated. Grokking humans should be done by first asking permission- shamanic level, i.e. in light trance, is ok, you don't have to ask at the physical level, though that's better, and should be done only in alignment with the Divine Will, with respect and love, wishing good for all. You don't have to follow these rules, but the price one pays for disregarding them is quite high. Let your intuition, your heart, guide you You may ask what the effects of several people pulling towards an ideal future is. Well, remember we are limited in our senses to the sense of one person, in this dimension. So long as you work with the Divine Will, you are ok. All things ultimately work for good. Also, there is no failure, only experience. If this seems to "technique-y" for you, that's fine- just recognize that you can bless communities not only in the now, but in their entire life cycle of existence. Mother Theresa pointed out the simplest energy technique of all, when she said, "Peace begins with a smile". Love is a real and vital nutrient. Your energy work nourishes your community, and yourself. Some people like to obsess about evil. If you are seeing shadow, it is because your back is to the light. I asked a woman who worked in a crummy job for 11 years how she could do that. She smiled like an elf, brightened at least 30 watts, and said: “Well, I just get more and more positive, and they either leave, or get positive! Evil people don't want to be anywhere near me. I don't have to do, think, or say anything. They just get up and go. I just have fun playing. In fact, I don't think evil people can see anybody above a 600 on the Hawkins scale". Grey Wolf Yes, you have my permission and encouragement to share this on your website. This is from a book I'm going to finish, entitled Feeling and Healing. All rights otherwise reserved, except that anyone who wants to share it for free with anyone else may do so anytime, so long as they share the whole piece. Please also share with Don Croft. And by way, tell him that the bad guys can't bother him if he has no internal counterparts to them; if he asks angels to clear out his own beliefs, they will, and he won't be bothered. Related Defeating the Dark Side with Positive Intent Thoughtforms by Grey Wolf (Feb. 18, 2007) http://educate-yourself.org/cn/positiveapproachwiththoughtforms18feb07.shtml Creation of Matter By Seth speaking through Jane Roberts (Oct. 8, 2006) http://educate-yourself.org/mbc/sethcreationofmatter.shtml

Open the debates - By Amy Goodman

...

George Farah directs Open Debates, a group that works “to ensure that the presidential debates serve the American people first.” He told me that “historically, it has been third parties, not the major parties, that have supported and are responsible for the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, public schools, public power, unemployment compensation, minimum wage, child labor laws. The list goes on and on. The two parties fail to address a particular issue; a third party rises up, and it’s supported by tens of millions of Americans, forcing the Republican and Democratic parties to co-opt that issue, or the third party rises and succeeds, which is why the Republican Party jumped from being a third party to being a major party of the United States of America.”

There is a move to organize a third-party debate, in New York City, a day or so after the final McCain-Obama debate on Oct. 15. The CPD could still liven its last debate, and serve the electorate and history, by opening up that debate to all candidates who have at least obtained significant ballot access. Both Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are on the ballot in close to 45 states, Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party is on the ballot in 30 states, and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin is on in more than 35 states. Let’s open the debates and have a vigorous and honest discussion about where this country needs to go. It will not only make for better television, it will make for better democracy. Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column. Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

© 2008 Amy Goodman


Can Free Trade be Fair? Lessons from the Peru-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

• The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement has provided President Alan García with an excuse to dismantle the nation’s environmental and labor standards

• The President’s approval ratings have sunk as popular support for his policies continues to vanish

• The United States has been complicit in Peru’s legal and economic deterioration, a fact which must be taken into account before further FTAs are signed

The Peruvian government is beginning to unravel as corruption charges and scandals threaten to completely discredit the already unpopular leadership of President Alan García. García’s minister of Mines and Energy as well as other top energy and state oil officials have been fired in response to allegations of favoring a foreign energy company, Discover Petroleum, in exchange for bribes. These scandals likely come as little shock to many Peruvians due to García’s history of engaging in third-rail politics and putting economic growth before the welfare of the populace. For years the García administration has been manipulating Peruvian law in an attempt to draw foreign investment, meanwhile failing to alleviate domestic poverty and thus sacrificing the government’s legitimacy in the eyes of the Peruvian public. The President now has no exit strategy, since the crushing weight of his political opportunism has left him with no class-base except for the open gringo wallet. However, the United States, instead of taking a stand against García’s mishandling of the economy, has contributed to the problem by signing trade agreements with the unpopular government.

An Agreement is Born In December of 2007, following considerable debate and significant compromise, the United States Senate approved a Free Trade Agreement with Peru designed to drastically reduce import and export tariffs, hypothetically putting an end to protectionism on both sides and bringing the economies of the two countries closer together. Approval of the FTA had been delayed in both the Senate and the House due to concerns, mostly on the part of Congressional Democrats, about how Peru’s environmental and labor protections would be affected by the agreement. In order to break the impasse a number of key House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, negotiated a congressional-executive branch agreement to address these concerns. The agreement, labeled “A New Trade Policy for America,” prohibited Peru from lowering environmental and labor standards, and also addressed other concerns that had been voiced against the proposed FTA, including access to generic medicines and intellectual property issues.

The agreement was immediately lauded as a “fundamental shift in U.S. trade policy” which would “spread the benefits of globalization [in the U.S.] and abroad by raising standards.” While some Democrats remained skeptical, questioning the likelihood that the provisions would actually be enforced, enough were swayed that the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement easily passed. Today, the repercussions of this decision are being felt in Peru as the country’s leaders adjust national law to accommodate the conditions spelled out in the pact. As this process is carried out, some of the FTA’s most virulent critics in the Senate and the House are seeing their worst fears become a reality.

Peru’s existing environmental and labor protection standards have, in fact, been weakened in the process of opening its market to bilateral free trade. In the first six months of this year, President Alan García enacted a total of 102 Legislative Decrees designed to harmonize national laws with the conditions laid down by the FTA. In response, much of the Peruvian press as well as many politicians and activists have showered the government with accusations that these decrees are actually detrimental to labor, the environment, the agriculture industry, and indigenous rights. In addition, the Peruvian Congress’ Constitutional Commission recently declared about forty percent of the decrees to be unconstitutional.

The Environment The most controversial of these decrees to date was the Declaración Legislativa 1015, passed by the executive branch in May. The decree was designed to facilitate the privatization and stripping away of communal lands held by indigenous and subsistence farming communities. Communal land, essential to indigenous Peruvians’ traditional way of life, had previously been protected by a law requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress to authorize any land sales. However, DL 1015 lowered this requirement to a simple majority in a clear attempt to encourage the sale and subsequent exploitation of the land by foreign and domestic entrepreneurs.

In early August, indigenous communities and human rights groups responded by taking to the streets, blocking major roads and bridges and occupying key energy plants in Peru’s southeastern and northern regions. The protests were led by the indigenous rights organization AIDESEP (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana), which began talks with the government soon after the protests began. Following two weeks of demonstrations, the Peruvian Congress was prompted to repeal Decree 1015 and with this action restored the two-thirds majority rule. While the repeal was certainly a substantial victory for Peru’s indigenous cause, it was sadly only one small step forward among many leaps backward.

García, who provocatively called the decision to revoke 1015 “a grave historical mistake,” has passed a number of other decrees that threaten to encroach upon Peru’s rich biodiversity and the livelihood of the people who depend on it. Most of the new laws are designed to facilitate exploitation of the country’s land and resources by international corporations. Legislative Decree 1064, for example, eliminates the ability of landowners to negotiate with oil and mining companies over the use of their land. Pre-existing law required that companies attempt to reach an agreement with property owners in order to buy or rent their land for commercial use. Only if negotiations failed could companies turn to the government, specifically the Ministry of Mines and Energy, to force owners to sell their land. Decree 1064 cuts out land owners completely, leaving the entire negotiation process in the hands of the government.

With another decree, known as the “Forest and Wildlife Law,” García removed barriers that currently protect the country’s national forests. The decree (1090) redefines the “national forest patrimony,” and lifts protections against logging and other forms of exploitation. The Peruvian Congress has already met to discuss amending or repealing this decree, which dozens of national and local community and environmental organizations oppose. At a recent hearing, Congresswoman Hilaria Supa stated: “This decree does not only affect the forest and the indigenous people, but rather the entire country. [It] speaks about sustainable economics, but I see nothing in the decree about social or cultural sustainability.” Critics also point out that the decree reduces transparency and eliminates input from civil society regarding the use of national forest lands.

The results of these negative changes to national law are already being felt across Peru’s rural population. Over a year ago, residents of three northwestern highland districts - Ayabaca, Pacaipampa and El Carmen de la Frontera - voiced a resounding “no” vote against allowing a mining project to go forth in their area. This decision, which involved about 60% of the electorate (95% of whom voted “no”) is likely to be overturned by the newly-empowered central government. In May, President García assured members of a Chinese mining consortium that “there is no reason that this project shouldn’t go through.” It is this propensity on the part of García that has made him one of the most mistrusted figured in Peru today.

Labor Despite the FTA’s condition that labor standards in Peru must not be lowered, a number of President García’s recent decrees have put the country’s Public Service workers in jeopardy. In May, the Inter-sectional Confederation of State Workers (CITE) organized a strike in protest of legislative decrees 1025, 1026, and 1057, which, according to the union, compromise the labor rights of public employees. The new laws are designed to “modernize” the public sector through “punitive evaluations” of current employees’ work performance, as well as through a reorganization of positions and salaries. The power to implement these changes is granted to the National Civil Service Authority, omitting any possibility of collective bargaining. This leaves labor organizations with little leverage to protect the jobs of their members.

While these concerns raised by organized labor in Peru are significant, much larger problems plague a majority of the country’s population. Because unionized sectors in fact make up only a small portion of the nation’s labor force, few have the ability to collectively protest when labor laws are changed. Worse still, even the limited labor standards that are presently on the books are largely unable to extend their reach to a majority of working Peruvians. According to a 2007 Human Rights Report, only 9 percent of Peru’s labor force is represented by unions, and more than 70 percent of it works in the informal sector. Thus, regulations affecting minimum wage and working conditions do not protect most Peruvians, making concern over labor laws almost a moot point. While the national minimum wage was raised to $176 per month in October of 2007, many workers in the informal sector earned merely between $20 and $30 per month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The Bureau also reported that the Peruvian government “often lacked the resources, capacity, or authority to enforce compliance with labor laws.” Hence, most Peruvian workers are not protected against the potentially damaging effects of the FTA, which could leave them even more vulnerable to the self-serving demands of foreign multinationals.

Reactions and Conclusions The Peruvian government has indicated that it will pursue further free trade deals with the EU and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). However, while the global food crisis continues to drive up prices of staples like eggs and bread, more consumers are questioning the rationale behind opening up fragile domestic markets to subsidized U.S. produce instead of producing food domestically. Further, the impending global economic slowdown could cause foreign investment in the country to dry up, destroying jobs and crippling Peru’s economic growth. Although these are legitimate concerns, the government has yet to address them in a constructive manner.

Despite Peru’s impressive recent economic development – 83 months of consecutive growth as of May 2008 – its civil society is becoming increasingly discontent with the leadership of Alan García. Reuters news service reported that while the country’s GDP growth rate hit 9.37 percent this year, the president’s personal approval ratings sunk to 19 percent. These ratings reflected a 16 point drop in the last four months alone, as protests and strikes over the FTA’s provisions have attracted a significant following. On October 7th labor groups across Peru organized a nationwide strike protesting the government’s economic policies, specifically accusing them of failing to alleviate poverty. According to the BBC, thousands of protesters marched in the nation’s capital and called for García’s entire cabinet to resign. As the President continues to lose legitimacy and popular unrest surges, fewer and fewer Peruvians are accepting the notion that the global free market will increase their odds of gaining prosperity.

It is essential that U.S. lawmakers study the actual effects of this Peruvian agreement before pursuing further FTAs, including those currently pending with Colombia and Panama. In his 2008 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush assured Americans that “all…pending free trade agreements include the same labor and environment provisions as the Peru free trade agreement.” However, it is clear to many that this assurance is meaningless since the provisions in Peru’s agreement have not been implemented, but rather left open to manipulation by García’s administration. In fact, the regulations established in “A New Trade Policy for America” appear to be mere band-aids covering real concerns brought up by critics of global free trade expansion. Achieving a truly responsible trade agreement would require a fundamental change in the United States’ outlook on global economics – one that takes into account the rights of all social groups, not only the privileged and powerful.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Mary Tharin

The Undemocratic Debates

The American presidential debates should be open to all nominees on the ballot, not limited to the major parties’ candidates.

Until 1988, the League of Women Voters (LWV), a nonpartisan political organization that seeks to improve American government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy, invited presidential candidates from all parties to participate in presidential debates.

Because of procedural interference by the Democratic and Republican parties, including refusing to debate third-party nominees and screening debate questions, the LWV withdrew from debate sponsorship. The league then issued a press release stating that it refused to become “an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Now, a body known as the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has ultimate control over who can and cannot participate in the major debates that have become the headliners to the final showdown on Nov. 4.

The CPD, which is composed of former chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, has established the rule that a candidate must reach at least 15 percent in popular opinion polls to debate. This is an exclusionary tactic to keep non-major party candidates from debating, yet the percentage represents a large number of American citizens.

In a 1984 recommendation made by the Commission on National Debates, the precursor to the CPD, the commission urged the Republican and Democratic parties to assume sponsorship responsibility for the debates. Doing so, according to the recommendation, would “strengthen both the process and themselves.”

Furthermore, the commission concluded, “The importance of television forums argues for erring on the side of favoring the party-nominated processes rather than the rights of other candidates.”

As of 2008, this attitude has not changed.

Third-party candidates, the electoral underdogs, have always been pushed to the sidelines, written off as automatic losers. But their exclusion from the debates points to a deeply immoral and undemocratic aspect of our electoral process.

Debates are a political institution in which nominees present their beliefs and platforms and challenge their opponents. The very makeup of a debate can affect what a candidate will say and what issues will be brought to the table.

Several third-party candidates in this year’s election are on the ballots of many states. Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party nominee, is on 34 state presidential ballots. Ralph Nader, running for the Peace and Freedom Party, has fought for open debates for years, yet he has met a brick wall in the CPD.

A Zogby International poll found that 55 percent of voters want to see Bob Barr participate in debates with Barack Obama and John McCain. Forty-five percent of voters supported the inclusion of Ralph Nader in the presidential debates.

Barr and Nader are only two of the many third-party candidates on state presidential ballots who should be allowed to debate on the national stage.

“Change” has been the buzzword of this year’s election. But what kind of change can we expect from a system that has for the last two decades placed the interests of the two major parties ahead of the best interests of the American people?

The exclusion of third-party candidates from national, televised debates not only harms the integrity of our democracy, it limits the public’s exposure to varying points of view, alternative solutions and criticism of the major parties’ policies.

Thomas Jefferson advocated the spread of knowledge to the average American citizen, believing that an uninformed polity led to tyrannical rule.

“The information of the people at large can alone make them safe,” Jefferson wrote, “as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom.”

2008-10-09


Third-Party Blues, by Scott Ritter

Posted on Oct 9, 2008

By Scott Ritter

The war in Iraq has morally crippled the Republican Party, if not all of America. The fact that a conflict which has taken the lives of more than 4,150 Americans to date, wounded tens of thousands more, and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians serves as the centerpiece of the Republican Party platform boggles the mind. As a lifelong registered Republican, I have been torn apart by the immoral embrace of the Iraq war by members of a political movement which at one time seemed to pride itself as being the defender of a strong America built on the ideals and values enshrined in the Constitution.

With such feelings, I found myself headed to the 2008 Republican convention, where I was invited to speak to the Veterans for Peace and other groups, a committed supporter of Barack Obama. I was somewhat surprised at how my opinions and attitudes were changed by the experience.

I landed in Minneapolis in time to watch John McCain introduce his newly selected running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to the United States. Like many other Americans, I was struck by how little I knew of her. I listened intently as she spoke, and was taken aback not by what she said (it was standard political fare) but rather by how the crowd reacted. One moment in particular concerned me: When Palin stated that her eldest son, 19 years of age, had enlisted in the Army and was soon to be deployed to Iraq, the crowd erupted in wild cheers of “USA! USA! USA!,” as if the mother of five had announced that her son just beat the Russians at hockey. That Sarah Palin stood there, taking in the cheers with a smile, only underscored the fact that she herself had no appreciation of the gravity of the situation, and the reality of what her son was getting into. Her son’s service to his nation had been marginalized into little more than a campaign prop, his patriotism debased by a crowd of political supporters who knew little of the reality of war and instead treated it as some perverse form of national sport. One only hopes that Palin will not have to learn how it feels to be the parent of a wounded vet, or worse, a Gold Star Mother. Would she think back on that moment when she allowed her son’s courage to be demeaned by an act of partisan selfishness? I might have seen this sort of thing coming. In April 2001, at the invitation of Rep. Jack Kingston, I spoke before the Theme Team, a collection of influential Republican congressional representatives. The topic was Iraq, and in particular Iraq’s status as a threat worthy of war. I argued that the United States must exhaust all options, especially resolving the weapons of mass destruction issue through inspections, before there could be any talk of war with Iraq. I provided the assembled Republicans, and their respective staffers, with an in-depth analysis (derived from my June 2000 article, “The Case for the Qualitative Disarmament of Iraq,” published in Arms Control Today) of what I deemed to be the current state of affairs concerning Iraqi WMD, and I warned the Theme Team that any push for war against Iraq based upon the exaggeration of a WMD threat would come back to haunt the Republican Party. As a fellow Republican who had voted for President George W. Bush, I told them, I was loath to see America under Republican leadership head down that path. My advice was not heeded. While Rep. Kingston and his fellow Republicans were receptive, thanking me for my testimony (which they claimed was “enlightening”), the Theme Team backed, and continues to back, President Bush’s disastrous decisions on Iraq. It is with this consistent support for the Iraq war from the heart of the Republican Party in mind that one must judge John McCain’s stubborn insistence on staying the course. Long deemed a “maverick” for his tendency to run afoul of mainstream politics, on Iraq McCain has been anything but. With the presidency clearly in his sights, McCain has retreated to politically comfortable turf. He has a résumé of military service of such merit that no one dares challenge the former prisoner of war’s status as a “true American hero,” and he has built his campaign and, by extension, his party, around the themes of “military service” and “service to country.” His enthusiasm for the invasion of Iraq has been matched by his support for a continuation of the mission there through to completion and victory. In this, McCain staked out the once-lonely position of supporting a “surge” in U.S. combat strength in Iraq, standing nearly alone in 2006-2007 while most others, Democrat and Republican alike, were considering options for the reduction of U.S. force levels in Iraq, if not their outright withdrawal. McCain has staked his campaign on this support of the “surge,” coupled with the subsequent reduction of violence in Iraq. It is his strongest argument that he is a leader capable of seeing America through these difficult times. The illusion is almost perfect. Even I, at times, am left wondering, in the face of the policy vacuum coming out of the Obama camp, whether or not McCain has gotten this one right. I have to admit to having a soft spot for John McCain. His story as rebel naval aviator and courageous prisoner of war is well known to anyone who has studied the Vietnam War and its many profiles in courage. As a junior congressman from Arizona, McCain had the courage to confront President Ronald Reagan about the lack of a viable mission for the U.S. Marines in Lebanon, before the Marine barracks were blown up by a suicide bomber. In 1998, it was John McCain who came to my defense during my testimony before the U.S. Senate, following a contemptuous assault on my viability as a witness by none other than Sen. Joe Biden (more on that later). In 2000, I counted myself among the ranks of the “McCainiacs,” infatuated by the “straight-talk express” and hopeful for some real change in Washington, D.C., following what I believed to be eight ineffective years of the Clinton administration. In fact, McCain is the only presidential candidate I have ever donated money to (although the $50 check I sent following his victory in the New Hampshire primary almost assuredly went unnoticed). But then came South Carolina, and the debacle at Bob Jones University. The absolute caving in by McCain to the religious right of America, and his unconditional surrender to the presidential ambitions of George W. Bush, left me and other “McCainiacs” feeling empty, and the “straight talk express” nothing more than a mangled wreck on the American political highway. I have never trusted John McCain since, and it is with that opportunism in mind that I so dimly assess his much touted “surge” strategy.

There are two primary reasons why the success of the “surge” is a myth. First, to accept McCain’s assertions, one must accept the overall framework of the argument, which pits levels of violence in Iraq circa 2006 with the levels of violence in Iraq today. This, of course, is a false and misleading benchmark upon which to judge success in Iraq. The Iraq war must be evaluated in a continuum which extends back to the decision to invade Iraq in the first place. While one can make the claim that Iraq today is better off than it was in 2006-2007, there is no way one can responsibly claim that Iraq today, post-“surge,” is a better place than when the United States invaded in March 2003, especially when the issues of violence and instability are considered.. If McCain wants to tout the “surge” as a great policy success, then he should be compelled to do so using a benchmark that is reflective of the totality of Iraq, which means comparing prewar Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s leadership with the postwar Iraq of the present. Of course, if this comparison is drawn, McCain and the war he has steadfastly supported will still be found sadly lacking. The second reason the “surge” is a myth is the fact that the totality of its “success” is derived from illusion, not reality. If one examines the sources of violence which led to the large numbers of American and Iraqi dead in 2006-2007, one will quickly see that the “surge” has treated the symptom and not the disease. The recent turning over of the security of Anbar province from the United States to the Iraqi government has been singled out as a clear indicator that the “surge” is working. However, the “success” of the “surge” in that volatile region is drawn less from any tendency on the part of the Sunni tribes to develop sympathetic links with the Shiite government in Baghdad than it is from the outright bribes of the United States to the tribal leaders in the form of money, weapons and assurances that the Sunni would be given a meaningful voice in the running of Iraq. With the United States now removed as the peacekeeper in Anbar province, it is only a question of time before the tenuous truce that exists between Sunni and Shiite in western Iraq collapses. And, if and when it does, rest assured that the forces of al-Qaida in Iraq, suppressed but not defeated, will once again make their presence known. The same can be said about the situation concerning Moqtada Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. The lack of heavy fighting does not directly translate into a problem solved. The underlying problems of post-Saddam Iraq remain unresolved, and the reality is that what passes for “success” is nothing more than a flimsy cover for a failed policy. That John McCain needed Hockey-Mom-Turned-Soldier-Mom Sarah Palin to help sell this flawed concept to a skeptical Republican base only underscores the fragility of the argument. Palin’s relentless linkage of “victory” in Iraq through the “surge” and her status as the mother of an active-duty service member only succeeds in generating more inane cheering from a crowd that knows and understands war as little more than entertainment, something they see in a movie or a video game as opposed to feeling it, hearing it, tasting it and smelling it. McCain of all people should be embarrassed when his erstwhile supporters taunt the reality of war with their asinine, childish and demeaning chants. Let me be clear concerning Palin and her son: I salute him for volunteering to serve his nation in these difficult and dangerous times. I share with Sarah Palin the pride that comes from knowing that some of today’s youth do, in fact, give a damn enough to serve. But I will never understand or comprehend how a mother can so gleefully support a war void of justification. I have often said Iraq was never a cause worthy of the sacrifice of American life. I wonder just how willing Sarah Palin actually is to send her son to the altar of this most unworthy of causes, and question her fitness to be in line for the presidency if she is, in fact, as enthusiastic as she appears. Self-described “war hater” John McCain would do well to rein in the immature enthusiasm of his over-eager Hockey Mom. War isn’t a game. The pro-war insanity of the Republican National Convention, rather than reinforcing my support of Barack Obama, raised my concerns about the Democrat. Like many, I have questioned the credentials of this clearly intelligent man. Untested in any real way, save the artificial crucible of American politics, void of any life experience truly worthy of the post of most powerful man in the world, Obama has positioned himself to become the next president of the United States. His message of hope rings just a little too “true,” perhaps just a bit too good to be the genuine article. While I cringe at McCain speaking about the “Russian threat,” I wince when the same words come rushing out of the side of Obama’s mouth, as if he is afraid to chew on the reality of what he is saying. “All Americans are Georgians,” McCain said following the recent spate of fighting in the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia, although in reality most Americans couldn’t point Georgia out on a map, let alone be willing to send their sons and daughters off to fight and die there. But at least McCain himself believes in the importance of keeping the budding democracy in that tiny Caucasian republic viable. Obama’s eyes are alive when he speaks of critical domestic issues but appear glazed and lifeless when he is compelled by circumstance to address matters which may very well propel America and Russia into a new period of Cold War, or worse. America had its “3 a.m. wakeup call” in the first week of August, and Barack Obama was found seriously wanting.

It is not just what he doesn’t know, or can’t meaningfully talk about, that is troublesome to me. It is also what he does talk about, and claims to know. Obama’s acceptance speech boldly challenged McCain’s fitness to command. “You don’t defeat,” he declared, “you don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not the change that America needs.” But Obama offered no vision of what he would propose to do. How do you defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries? How do you protect Israel and deter Iran? How do you stand up for Georgia? All Obama could offer was the following: “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.” Obama needs to be careful here. He is no FDR, and he is no JFK. Both of those men were tested in times of war and peace in a way Obama can never lay claim to. What we get from Obama’s sophomoric pronouncement of “leadership” is, sadly, simply more tough talk, with no strategy: “As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.” This raises the questions of what circumstances a President Obama might deem worthy of the sacrifice of American troops, and to what lengths a President Obama would go to ensure that all other options had been exhausted before committing our nation, and our troops, to war. The more I listened to Obama, the more I realized that on the major issues of war and peace, there was in fact very little that separated him from the Republicans he opposes. Both have sold out American sovereignty in the name of Israeli security (or more important, Likud-inspired, AIPAC-driven policies falsely sold as being in the best interest of the Israeli people). Both assume Iranian nefarious intent, and point an accusatory finger at “Russian aggression” without reflecting on the cause-and-effect reality of irresponsible American foreign policy (the expansion of NATO, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and the installation on Polish and Czech soil of a ballistic missile defense shield claimed to be for the Iranian threat, but optimized for missiles launched from within Russia). Even on the issue of the “surge,” McCain’s great weakness, Obama has flipped, stating that the “surge” in Iraq has succeeded “beyond our wildest dreams.” The senator from Arizona could not have said it better himself. Doesn’t Obama realize that if he embraces the “surge,” he legitimizes the war in Iraq and as such positions McCain as the candidate of choice, since certainly America would want to go with the architect of the “surge,” and not some untested “Johnny come lately” who simply hangs on the coattails of another’s success? When Obama sells himself as the candidate of change, what change is he talking about? While pondering such thoughts I encountered none other than Ralph Nader, who was happy to point out the inherent contradictions that plague the Obama candidacy. I met Nader in the setting of a quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood on the outskirts of Minneapolis, where he and his running mate, the San Francisco-based lawyer and social activist Matt Gonzalez, were meeting with supporters and raising funds for their campaign. I had never met Nader in person prior to this evening, and must claim that while I was aware of his important role as a consumer advocate, I knew him best as the man who cost Al Gore the presidency. I myself have often spoken out in frustration at the role played by the Green Party in weakening the Democratic Party during national elections. But the importance of the role played by Ralph Nader is best explained by Nader himself. A colleague of mine had asked Nader why he kept running for the presidency, instead of trying to get into Congress where he could perhaps more effectively pursue his advocacy. “Because this isn’t about the power of one,” Nader replied, “but empowering all. The issues I am advocating for cannot be trivialized by pretending that a single vote in Congress will make a difference. These are national issues, and they require a national stage.” Both Nader and Gonzalez spoke about the importance of a third party in America today, at a time when there was no real difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on so many key issues, especially (but not limited to) foreign policy and national defense. I wasn’t sold when I went to the Nader for President gathering, but the need for genuine choice for the American people was driven home that night, not only by what Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez said, but also by the overall political setting in which it was said. There is no greater illustration of the Democrat-Republican political melding than Joe Lieberman. Sen. Lieberman, the one-time “liberal Democrat” from Connecticut who once stood as the running mate of Al Gore, delivered a rancor-filled speech at the Republican National Convention in which he spoke in support of his “good friend” John McCain, and belittled Barack Obama, barely four years removed from the 2004 Democratic National Convention in which Obama made his national debut under the approving eyes of Joe Lieberman himself. Lieberman’s speech came almost two years to the day that Obama personally campaigned on behalf of Lieberman in a hotly contested Senate race against the anti-war Connecticut Democrat Ned Lamont. Lamont went on to win the Democratic primary, only to lose the general election to the newly re-minted “Independent” Joe Lieberman, whose platform looked more Republican than his Republican opponent’s when it came to the issue of the Iraq war. Obama was among the Democratic senators who bent over backward to welcome Lieberman into the Democratic Senate Caucus, enabling them to maintain their slim majority in the U.S. Senate. Lieberman is the personification of just how baseless American politics is today. While Republicans and Democrats might debate around the fringes, when it comes to the major issues of the day, both parties stand for virtually the same thing. The only difference is around which party will the power, and the money associated with such power, achieve orbit.

Obama might be able to shrug off his unsightly relationship with Lieberman as purely coincidental, noting that he could not have known in 2006 how Lieberman would have turned out in 2008. But it is Obama’s relationship with another that raises the most questions about not only how little separates mainstream Republicans from Democrats when it comes to war and peace, but also Obama’s judgment, and by extension his fitness to lead. Before I go on, I need to conduct a bit of full disclosure: Joe Biden and I have a history. Many people are familiar with the infamous “Scotty-Boy” line uttered by Biden during my Senate testimony in September 1998, coupled with his dismissive (and insulting) comments about the issue of Iraq being “above my pay grade” and best left to those who “get the limos” (it was at this juncture that John McCain, much to his credit, came to my defense, noting that “… some of us who fought in another conflict wish that the Congress and the American people had listened to someone of your pay grade during that conflict, and perhaps there wouldn’t be quite so many names down on the wall. So we appreciate the fact that someone of your pay grade would be willing to come forward with this vital information.”) What many people don’t know is that I was invited back to Biden’s office a few weeks later, where we had a more frank and open exchange void of the rancor of domestic politics (Biden was, during the hearings, in full “attack dog” mode, defending the policies of President Bill Clinton which I was daring to question in a public manner). We agreed that the subjects discussed during that meeting would remain private. Sen. Biden did, however, take the time to pen me a personal note afterward. “Dear Mr. Ritter,” he wrote. “Thank you for taking time to meet with me. Your insight into this complex issue is invaluable and I appreciate your candid thoughts regarding the continuing challenges that we confront in Iraq. I hope that I can call on your knowledge and expertise in the future as we move forward in making some difficult choices.” Underneath his signature, in the same blue ink he used to sign his name, Biden wrote “PS – I hope to speak with you again.” I gave Biden that opportunity in May of 2000. I was in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of trying to head off what I viewed as irresponsible rhetoric about Iraq and its WMD programs. I was pushing for getting U.N. weapons inspections back on track in Iraq, especially since the last inspectors had been ordered out of Iraq by President Clinton in December 1998 on the eve of “Operation Desert Fox,” and felt that the speculation over what Iraq may or may not have in the way of WMD was without foundation. I had verbally coordinated with Sen. John Kerry, who encouraged me to put my concerns down “in writing” (this led to my June 2000 Arms Control Today article), and had a lengthy meeting with Sen. Chuck Hagel, who cautioned me not to expect any “profile in courage moments” from Congress when it came to Iraq. But Hagel had left the door open for some sort of political solution, so I called Biden’s office in an effort to enable him, to quote the senator, “to speak with [me] again.” Biden was busy, but he did arrange for me to meet with Edward P. Levine, a senior professional staff member of the Committee on Foreign Relations who, Biden said, represented him “personally.” The meeting did not go well. Levine immediately questioned my view of Iraq as a nation “qualitatively disarmed.” I had with me a draft of the Arms Control Today article, together with a collection of supporting documents dating back to my time with the United Nations. Levine challenged my facts, noting that my former boss, Rolf Eké us (a Swedish arms control expert and diplomat), had testified differently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I stated that I could not directly speak to what Eké us had or had not said, but could only note that the documents I had, and which I was prepared to share, directly supported my position. Levine immediately exploded, stating that the documents I had were sensitive in nature, and shouldn’t be in my possession. I reminded him that these documents were from my time as a U.N. inspector, and that there was no security-related issue so far as the U.S. government was concerned. Levine stated that, in his opinion, the fact that I had these documents in my possession only demonstrated, in his eyes, my disloyalty, and that if it were up to him I would be arrested as a traitor. I held my tongue, and then reminded Levine that as a former officer in the Marines Corps, I did not take such accusations lightly and unless he wanted to take this conversation to another level he should tone down the emotions and focus on the issue. Certainly, I queried Biden’s “personal representative,” Levine wasn’t trying to suppress the truth? He eventually calmed down enough to admit that the U.S. policy regarding Iraq was a shambles but, like Sen. Hagel, he underscored that there would be no changing of policy during an election year. “The Democrats are not going to get out ahead of Al Gore on this issue before an election.”

I gave Biden one more chance to speak with me, this time in June 2002, when I was in Washington pushing for in-depth hearings on Iraq. It was less than a year since the events of 9/11, and I was concerned that the issue of Iraq and al-Qaida were being dangerously morphed into one and the same. If the Senate could conduct meaningful hearings on Iraq, perhaps the war drums could be silenced long enough to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq, and thus bring fact-based clarity to the rhetorically based speculation that was running rampant at the time. Biden, Kerry and Sen. Richard Lugar all turned down meetings, saying that Senate hearings on Iraq were “not on the table at this time.” Barely a month later, at the end of July 2002, Sen. Biden, together with Sen. Lugar, convened a hearing on Iraq with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In an Op-Ed article published in The New York Times (July 31, 2002), Biden and Lugar described the purpose of these sudden hearings: “Without prejudging any particular course of action—including the possibility of staying with non-military options—we hope to start a national discussion of some critical questions.” But there was really only one option being considered by Joe Biden: regime change. Biden never saw fit to challenge the conventional thinking concerning Iraq’s WMD programs. He never saw fit to, as he once wrote in reference to me, “call on your knowledge and expertise in the future as we move forward in making some difficult choices.” The choice, as Biden made clear in his opening statement at the hearing, was simple: How to “remove a tyrant” without “leaving chaos in his wake.” Biden’s concerns did not revolve around WMD and the legitimacy of a U.S. war, but rather around how to achieve “… a better understanding of what it would take to secure Iraq and rebuild it economically and politically.” That Joe Biden is an architect of the war in Iraq is without question. His hearings and the manner in which he shaped the conduct of those hearings (prohibiting, for instance, the appearance of witnesses such as myself and Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponek, both senior U.N. diplomats who directed U.N. humanitarian operations inside Iraq) were geared for facilitating a vote in the Senate authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force against Iraq—a declaration of war, so to speak. Only Biden can answer questions concerning his conduct at this critical juncture in our nation’s history. But the fact that Barack Obama would select as his running mate a man so heavily involved in bringing about the war in Iraq, at a time when Obama claims to be in opposition to that very same war, speaks volumes about the lack of judgment and, frankly speaking, character of the senator from Illinois who aspires to be commander in chief. I am not one of those who accept at face value Barack Obama’s contention that he is an anti-war candidate. True, unlike Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Joe Biden, Barack Obama did not vote in favor of the Iraq war powers resolution in October 2002: He was not in the U.S. Congress. However, there is nothing in Obama’s statements, actions and record of collaborations (including his selection for vice president) which back up his assertions that he would have voted against the resolution if he had been in Congress at the time. One must be judged, in the absence of demonstrable action, on the record of past patterns of behavior. Obama’s short tenure in the Senate has shown him to be an astute political survivor who has taken the path of least resistance when it comes to the most critical (and politically sensitive) issues. This is especially true concerning Iraq (Obama is a consistent supporter of fully funding a war he claims to oppose) and Iran (Obama’s ongoing embrace of the Bush administration’s case against Tehran, despite the many similarities between the Iran situation and the buildup to the war in Iraq, including wild exaggerations on issues pertaining to threats derived from weapons of mass destruction programs based more on rhetoric than fact, fear-based charges void of substance concerning “terrorism” and “sponsorship of terror”). While we will never know for certain, I am strongly inclined to believe that, had Obama in fact been a senator in 2002, his status as a political animal with high aspirations would have compelled him to take the same politically expedient move all of his similarly inclined senatorial colleagues did, and vote in favor of the war powers resolution. People today spend a lot of time discussing the relative merits of the vice presidential picks of both candidates. While I in no way share the value systems of a Sarah Palin, I am comfortable that neither does John McCain. There is a reason why the religious right in America does not like him. And while Palin will be only a heartbeat away from the presidency if McCain is elected president, the choice is still about John McCain versus Barack Obama. Palin is but a footnote in this matter. I know why McCain picked Palin as his running mate: It was an act of crass politics, a caving in to the religious right which constitutes such an important part of the current base of the Republican Party. It was this same sort of craven submission to the radical right which caused me to move away from McCain back in 2000. Nothing which occurred at the 2008 Republican National Convention, from the standpoint of Republican actions, surprised me. But the Republican National Convention did provide a fuller backdrop from which to better assess the Democratic Party’s nominee, Barack Obama and, sadly, he was, and is, lacking in so many ways. The choice of Joe Biden as his running mate was as crass a political move as was the selection of Sarah Palin, with one major exception: Palin was selected by McCain to shore up McCain’s shortfalls among the Republican base. Biden, on the other hand, was selected to shore up the shortfalls of Barack Obama. McCain can overcome his shortcomings among his political base. It is questionable whether Obama can overcome his own weaknesses. The American people are, in my opinion, ready for change. McCain is running away from the past eight years of the Bush presidency as fast as he possibly can. This is never a good thing, especially since both McCain and Bush are from the same party. Obama talks the talk of change, but it is not certain that he can walk the walk. No matter how hard he tries, his fundamental lack of experience in the critical fields of foreign policy and national security compel him to take the safe road of conformity, morphing into a Republican-light candidate whose pronouncements of command capability ring empty. Ralph Nader is right: The two-party system is failing America. There isn’t time between now and Election Day to create a viable third-party candidate, and so the sad reality is one of two deeply flawed men, the byproduct of a deeply flawed political system, will serve as president for the next four or eight years. During the time before the election, both candidates will do their best to woo the American people. McCain will base his courtship on the false promise of security, and his exaggerated sense of duty-driven purpose that he claims he alone can provide. Barack Obama can trump John McCain’s militaristic vision of American greatness by returning to his own core values, those which inspired America and breathed life into the audacity of hope. But to do this he will need to re-engage on the issue of national security in a manner which clearly sets himself apart from McCain. The war in Iraq continues to be a disaster, as is the war in Afghanistan. There is no need to seek out additional military adventure against either Iran or Russia. Obama must reject the neoconservative agenda of global hegemony set forth in the Bush administration’s national security strategy, and define a new course which has America assuming a leadership role in seeking multilateral solutions based upon fact-based criteria driven not by American power and greed but rather the rule of law. America needs and wants a change for the better. If Obama can succeed in capturing the imagination of the American people by convincing them that he is a viable candidate of change, then he will be the next president of the United States. But what I learned from my experience observing the Republican National Convention is that Barack Obama has a long way to go, and a short time to get there. Scott Ritter is a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq and author of “Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Anti-War Movement” (Nation Books, 2007).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Latin leftists gloating over 'Comrade' Bush's bailout

CARACAS, Venezuela — They don't call him President Bush in Venezuela anymore.

Now he's known as "Comrade."

With the Bush administration's Treasury Department resorting to government bailout after government bailout to keep the U.S. economy afloat, leftist governments and their political allies in Latin America are having a field day, gloating one day and taunting Bush the next for adopting the types of interventionist government policies that he's long condemned.

"We were just talking about that this morning on the floor," said Congressman Edwin Castro, who heads the leftist Sandinista congressional bloc in Nicaragua. "We think the Bush administration should follow the same policies that they and the International Monetary Fund have always told us to follow when we have economic problems — a structural adjustment that requires cutting government spending and reducing the role of government.

"One of our economists was telling us that Bush has just implemented communism for the rich," Castro said.

No one in Latin America has been making more hay of Bush's turnabout than Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a self-proclaimed socialist who is the U.S.'s biggest headache in the region.

"If the Venezuelan government, for example, approves a law to protect consumers, they say, 'Take notice, Chavez is a tyrant!'" Chavez said in one of his recent weekly television shows.

"Or they say, 'Chavez is regulating prices. He is violating the laws of the marketplace.' How many times have they criticized me for nationalizing the phone company? They say, 'The state shouldn't get involved in that.' But now they don't criticize Bush for having nationalize . . . the biggest banks in the world. Comrade Bush, how are you?"

The audience laughed and Chavez continued.

"Comrade Bush is heading toward socialism."

That certainly isn't the view of the Bush administration, which sees the government plan to buy toxic mortgages and the takeover of a major insurance company as well as two huge mortgage lenders as distasteful but necessary temporary measures to right the listing U.S. economy and prevent a worldwide depression.

Mark Weisbrodt, director of the leftist Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, advises numerous Latin American governments.

He called the recent Bush administration policies ironic.

"The biggest nationalization in the world was of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The biggest nationalization of an insurer was AIG. People are saying that Bush is privatizing risk and socializing losses," Weisbrodt said.

John Ross, who has begun providing advice to the Chavez government, along with his boss, former London Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone, criticized the U.S. president and his conservative political allies.

"They have abandoned every policy that they've advocated that other governments should follow over the past 20 years," Ross said by telephone from London. "And they've adopted the measures that they've condemned other governments for taking.

"This is not the end of capitalism. But it is the end of Reaganism and Thatcherism," he added.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a conservative, was a close ally of President Reagan in the 1980s.

In Peru, Congresswoman Nancy Obregon said she thought Bush's actions were sounding the death knell for capitalism.

"He's driving it into the ground," said Obregon, a socialist. "He's imitating Evo Morales."

Morales is the socialist president of Bolivia who has nationalized a half dozen foreign companies.

But Bolivia's ambassador in Venezuela, Jorge Alvarado, took issue with Obregon's comparison.

"Bush is guilty of a double-standard, but it would be an exaggeration to say he's imitating Evo," said Alvarado. "He'd have to be re-born to imitate Evo!"

Manuel Sutherland, a senior official in the Caracas-based Latin American Association of Marxist Economists, said that Bush has become a fellow traveler.

But Sutherland said he wasn't about to let Bush join his group.

"He carries out nationalizations to save capitalism," Sutherland said. "We want to sink it."

MORE FROM MCCLATCHY

Venezuela's Chavez sees America as a 'sinking ship'

Chavez seeks to pull Paraguay's new leader into his orbit

Morales survives Bolivian election test, but foes also gain

Sandinista anniversary celebrated in Nicaragua with mixed emotions


Domestic Occupation, by Stephen Hershey

On October 1st, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division began training in NorthCom, a domestic federal defense command that encourages the support of "civil authorities." Troops will actively serve as an on-call response team, thereby breaking restraints that have been in place for over 100 years.

Army Times reports that soldiers "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios," and test out the Army's first nonlethal weapons package designed to "subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them." The assignment is expected to become permanent within a year.

The federal government's ability to exercise military force within the United States has been largely prohibited by both the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and the Insurrection Act of 1807, the latter having since been amended to authorize the depletion of troops during a "natural disaster, epidemic, orther serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition." Additionally, the Defense Authorization Act of 2006 has amended the President's ability to declare martial law, allowing him or her to take control of the National Guard without any state authorization.

Comment:

PSYmon" title="The Board is set..." width="85" height="64">The Board is set...

and the pieces are moving.

This story just makes this even more obvious. Where is the mainstream press coverage of this? Too tied up with the current political drama and economic woes to pay attention to these subliminal actions made by our corrupt and power-hungry government that compromise the American populous' well being and ability to evoke change.

Continuity of Government Bill ring any bells?

Also, love the governmental usage of exquisitely vague statements such as "or other conditions" that qualify for domestic troop deployment. What could these other conditions be perhaps? Popular uprising against the evil powers that be? Peaceful protest against a fascist regime? Riots and civil unrest concerning the manipulated and false outcome of the upcoming election?

Take your pick.

Knight to D5...


☪∞♥∞♪♡♫∞♥∞♪♡♫∞♥∞♪♡♫∞♥∞☪

"War Breeds No Long Lasting Beauty In Its Redness"
___ .♡. - .☮.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cindy Sheehan Reveals Plan for New National Party, Reflects on Race Against Pelosi

[Thanks to Nobody for this link] Anti War activist and challenger for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Congressional Seat (CD 8, California), Cindy Sheehan has indicated her intention to launch a National political party after the U.S. Election of Nov. 4 Inspired in part by Mark Twain's involvement in The American Anti Imperialist League in reaction to the annexation of the Philippines by the United States in the late 19th Century, Sheehan said that the party will have a progressive platform and that after Nov. 4, "no matter what happens, we need to consolidate the energy against Imperialism and work on building another party movement." While discussing a potential third party unity movement, Sheehan indicated that her own candidacy against House Speaker Pelosi has seen a broad coalition of support from Greens, independents, disillusioned Democrats such as herself (Sheehan left the Democratic Party in May of 2007 in response to the Democratic Party led House support for a funding bill to continue Iraq War funding), and Republicans, many of whom made up the traditional base of the GOP represented by Ron Paul. Sheehan revealed that name of the new party would be The First Party. She reasoned "We don't want to do third-party politics which has a stigma in the United States" The First Party, with a populist-progressive agenda, will be the first party that "cares about the people, will work for the people, and will actually be a viable party." "I have spoken to Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney and the Nader Campaign" and as disillusionment with the two party system increases,"this is the time to build on that energy." Reflecting on her own chances in unseating incumbent Pelosi, she is pragmatic and acknowledges it has been "upward momentum, the only way we could go" but believes the success of the recent $700 billion bailout proposal could turn the tide in her favour. "When we're out on the streets, we have overwhelming support , especially since this bailout." Sheehan indicates that she notices that "people have a new rage and a new fire in their belly because of the corporate bailout. People are just so angry" More importantly, some public opinions of her ability to lead have changed, and could indicate a tipping point for the Sheehan Campaign. She notes that responses have been favourable pointing to an email she recently received,"Two weeks ago I thought you should be shot, but now I'm awake, I'm not going to be a slave anymore, and I support what you do." Sheehan believes that Members of Congress voting in favour of the bill did so at the peril of their own House seats and they have underestimated the voters."I was watching the debates on the House floor and the Congress people kept saying 'my constituents are overwhelmingly against this but I have to do it because it's for the good of the country', what a load of crap!"

Monday, October 06, 2008

Foreign Policy and the Economy - Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez

Date/Time:Friday, 10 Oct 2008 at 1:30 pm
Location:Great Hall, Memorial Union
Contact:lectures@iastate.edu
Phone:515-294-9934
Actions:Download iCal/vCal | Email Reminder
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Ralph Nader, Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate, and his vice presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez, will discuss the current economic crisis and U.S. foreign policy concerns. Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author and has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Americans in the Twentieth Century. For more than four decades, he has exposed problems and organized millions of citizens into more than one hundred public interest groups advocating solutions. He led the movement to establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and was instrumental in enacting the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and countless other pieces of important consumer legislation. Nader is a graduate of University and received an LL.B from Harvard Law School. Part of the 2008 Campaign Series which has the goal of providing the university community with opportunities to question candidates or their surrogates before election day.
Matt Gonzalez was a San Francisco Deputy Public Defender from 1990-2000. In 2000, he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He ran for mayor of San Francisco in 2003 as a Green Party candidate and received 47 percent of the vote in a tightly contested election. Gonzalez has a B.A. in political theory and comparative literature from Columbia University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. Cosponsored By:

Protest at the sham presidential debate in New York

On Oct. 15, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will conduct a highly stage-managed debate at Hofstra University in Long Island. Although they are on the ballot in New York State, working class and progressive candidates like Gloria La Riva (PSL), Cynthia McKinney (Greens) and others are excluded from the televised debate. The real needs of poor, working class communities will be ignored. The PSL's Presidential Candidates La Riva and Eugene Puryear will be on the ballot in New York and 11 other states. For weeks, the PSL campaign has been collecting testimony from hundreds of people who face constant police brutality and harassment, including in Hempstead , where the debate will be held. Around the country, La Riva and Puryear have been denouncing the $700 billion Wall Street bankers bailout, which they call one of the biggest transfers of wealth from working families to the richest bankers in the history of the country. We won't let the big business candidates ignore us! Join the demonstration! Gather on Wednesday, October 15 at 4:30 p.m. on Hempstead Turnpike between Uniondale Avenue and and Oak St. in Hempstead, N.Y. (Long Island). For more information, to get involved and to find out about transportation from New York City to Hempstead, contact the Party for Socialism and Liberation at 212-694-8762 or nyc@votepsl.org.

Alternative Presidential Candidates Debate will be streamed live tonight

According to http://www.alternativecandidatesdebate.com/

An Alternative Presidential Candidates’ Debate will be held in Nashville from 7 to 9 pm (central time) on October 6th, one day prior to the McCain-Obama debate in Nashville. The debate is open to all third party candidates for President in the United States as well as the major party nominees.

The debate is being organized by the Coalition for October Debate Alternatives (CODA), the Nashville Peace Coalition, and Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence. The moderator for the event will be Bruce Barry, a professor at the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt. The debate will be held in room 4309 Stevenson Center, on the campus of Vanderbilt University; it is free and open to the public and the news media.

The participants who have confirmed are

Brad Lyttle: US Pacifist Party Charles Jay: Boston Tea Party Frank McEnulty: New American Independent Party Brian Moore: Socialist Party USA Darrell Castle: Constitution Party (VP candidate standing in for Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin) Gloria La Riva: Party for Socialism and Liberation

The event will be streamed at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/news/ and available afterwards at http://www.youtube.com/vanderbilt.

In a recent release to the press CODA indicated that is was organizing the alternative debate because it believed that voters deserve to hear from all the candidates if they are going to make an informed choice at the ballot box, ” While we want to hear what the major party candidates have to say on issues related to the war, health care, the economy, gas prices, the future direction of the military, civil liberties and the environment, we do not believe that most issues of concern to American voters will be touched by the Democrat-Republican debate. That is why we are organizing an alternative debate so that voters in Nashville, Tennessee and beyond may be informed of all their choices as they participate in America’s electoral process.”

Chris Lugo, one of the organizers, said that the Democratic and Republican candidates have also been invited to the event, but have not indicated an interest in attending, “We believe that voters should make a fully informed choice about who they vote for and we do not believe this is possible if they are only hearing from two candidates. We have invited Barack Obama and John McCain in the interest of fairness, but we are intending to highlight this alternative debate as the most egalitarian possible event by including all the candidates and promoting this as an event to which everyone is invited.”

Another proposed alternative candidates debate, which has invited only those candidates listed on enough state ballots to have a chance of winning, has 8508 people pledged to donate on October 8th, 2008.Their goal is 10,000 people.

Filed Under: Constitution Party · Independents · Non-left/right parties · Right-wing minor parties · Socialist/left parties · Third parties, general

2 responses so far ↓


The Problems of Latin America and the Caribbean By Noam Chomsky

VII Social Summit for the Latin American and Caribbean Unity By Noam Chomsky 04/10/08 - -- (Caracas 9-24-08) During the past decade, Latin America has become the most exciting region of the world. The dynamic has very largely flowed from right where you are meeting, in Caracas, with the election of a leftist president dedicated to using Venezuela's rich resources for the benefit of the population rather than for wealth and privilege at home and abroad, and to promote the regional integration that is so desperately needed as a prerequisite for independence, for democracy, and for meaningful development. The initiatives taken in Venezuela have had a significant impact throughout the subcontinent, what has now come to be called "the pink tide." The impact is revealed within the individual countries, most recently Paraguay, and in the regional institutions that are in the process of formation. Among these are the Banco del Sur, an initiative that was endorsed here in Caracas a year ago by Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz; and the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean, which might prove to be a true dawn if its initial promise can be realized. The ALBA is often described as an alternative to the US-sponsored "Free Trade Area of the Americas," though the terms are misleading. It should be understood to be an independent development, not an alternative. And, furthermore, the so-called "free trade agreements" have only a limited relation to free trade, or even to trade in any serious sense of that term; and they are certainly not agreements, at least if people are part of their countries. A more accurate term would be "investor-rights arrangements," designed by multinational corporations and banks and the powerful states that cater to their interests, established mostly in secret, without public participation or awareness. That is why the US executive regularly calls for "fast-track authority" for these agreements - essentially, Kremlin-style authority. Another regional organization that is beginning to take shape is UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations. This continental bloc, modeled on the European Union, aims to establish a South American parliament in Cochabamba, a fitting site for the UNASUR parliament. Cochabamba was not well known internationally before the water wars of 2000. But in that year events in Cochabamba became an inspiration for people throughout the world who are concerned with freedom and justice, as a result of the courageous and successful struggle against privatization of water, which awakened international solidarity and was a fine and encouraging demonstration of what can be achieved by committed activism. The aftermath has been even more remarkable. Inspired in part by developments in Venezuela, Bolivia has forged an impressive path to true democratization in the hemisphere, with large-scale popular initiatives and meaningful participation of the organized majority of the population in establishing a government and shaping its programs on issues of great importance and popular concern, an ideal that is rarely approached elsewhere, surely not in the Colossus of the North, despite much inflated rhetoric by doctrinal managers. Much the same had been true 15 years earlier in Haiti, the only country in the hemisphere that surpasses Bolivia in poverty - and like Bolivia, was the source of much of the wealth of Europe, later the United States. In 1990, Haiti's first free election took place. It was taken for granted in the West that the US candidate, a former World Bank official who monopolized resources, would easily win. No one was paying attention to the extensive grass-roots organizing in the slums and hills, which swept into power the populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Washington turned at once to undermining the feared and hated democratic government. It took only a few months for a US-backed military coup to reverse this stunning victory for democracy, and to place in power a regime that terrorized the population with the direct support of the US government, first under president Bush I, then Clinton. Washington finally permitted the elected president to return, but only on the condition that he adhere to harsh neoliberal rules that were guaranteed to crush what remained of the economy, as they did. And in 2004, the traditional torturers of Haiti, France and the US, joined to remove the elected president from office once again, launching a new regime of terror, though the people remain unvanquished, and the popular struggle continues despite extreme adversity. All of this is familiar in Latin America, not least in Bolivia, the scene of today's most intense and dangerous confrontation between popular democracy and traditional US-backed elites. Archaeologists are now discovering that before the European conquest, Bolivia had a wealthy, sophisticated and complex society - to quote their words, "one of the largest, strangest, and most ecologically rich artificial environments on the face of the planet, with causeways and canals, spacious and formal towns and considerable wealth," creating a landscape that was "one of humankind's greatest works of art, a masterpiece." And of course Bolivia's vast mineral wealth enriched Spain and indirectly northern Europe, contributing massively to its economic and cultural development, including the industrial and scientific revolutions. Then followed a bitter history of imperial savagery with the crucial connivance of rapacious domestic elites, factors that are very much alive today. Sixty years ago, US planners regarded Bolivia and Guatemala as the greatest threats to its domination of the hemisphere. In both cases, Washington succeeded in overthrowing the popular governments, but in different ways. In Guatemala, Washington resorted to the standard technique of violence, installing one of the world's most brutal and vicious regimes, which extended its criminality to virtual genocide in the highlands during Reagan's murderous terrorist wars of the 1980s - and we might bear in mind that these horrendous atrocities were carried out under the guise of a "war on terror," a war that was re-declared by George Bush in September 2001, not declared, a revealing distinction when we recall the implementation of Reagan's "war on terror" and its grim human consequences. In Guatemala, the Eisenhower administration overcame the threat of democracy and independent development by violence. In Bolivia, it achieved much the same results by exploiting Bolivia's economic dependence on the US, particularly for processing Bolivia's tin exports. Latin America scholar Stephen Zunes points out that "At a critical point in the nation's effort to become more self-sufficient [in the early 1950s], the U.S. government forced Bolivia to use its scarce capital not for its own development, but to compensate the former mine owners and repay its foreign debts." The economic policies forced on Bolivia in those years were a precursor of the structural adjustment programs imposed on the continent thirty years later, under the terms of the neoliberal "Washington consensus," which has generally had disastrous effects wherever its strictures have been observed. By now, the victims of neoliberal market fundamentalism are coming to include the rich countries, where the curse of financial liberalization is bringing about the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and leading to massive state intervention in a desperate effort to rescue collapsing financial institutions. We should note that this is a regular feature of contemporary state capitalism, though the scale today is unprecedented. A study by two well-known international economists 15 years ago found that at least twenty companies in the top Fortune 100 would not have survived if they had not been saved by their respective governments, and that many of the rest gained substantially by demanding that governments "socialise their losses." Such government intervention "has been the rule rather than the exception over the past two centuries," they conclude from a detailed analysis. [Ruigrok and von Tulder] We might also take note of the striking similarity between the structural adjustment programs imposed on the weak by the International Monetary Fund, and the huge financial bailout that is on the front pages today in the North. The US executive-director of the IMF, adopt ing an image from the Mafia, described the institution as "the credit community's enforcer." Under the rules of the Western-run international economy, investors make loans to third world tyrannies, and since the loans carry considerable risk, make enormous profits. Suppose the borrower defaults. In a capitalist economy, the lenders would incur the loss. But really existing capitalism functions quite differently. If the borrowers cannot pay the debts, then the IMF steps in to guarantee that lenders and investors are protected. The debt is transferred to the poor population of the debtor country, who never borrowed the money in the first place and gained little if anything from it. That is called "structural adjustment." And taxpayers in the rich country, who also gained nothing from the loans, sustain the IMF through their taxes. These doctrines do not derive from economic theory; they merely reflect the distribution of decision-making power. The designers of the international economy sternly demand that the poor accept market discipline, but they ensure that they themselves are protected from its ravages, a useful arrangement that goes back to the origins of modern industrial capitalism, and played a large role in dividing the world into rich and poor societies, the first and third worlds. This wonderful anti-market system designed by self-proclaimed market enthusiasts is now being implemented in the United States, to deal with the very ominous crisis of financial markets. In general, markets have well-known inefficiencies. One is that transactions do not take into account the effect on others who are not party to the transaction. These so-called "externalities" can be huge. That is particularly so in the case of financial institutions. Their task is to take risks, and if well-managed, to ensure that potential losses to themselves will be covered. To themselves. Under capitalist rules, it is not their business to consider the cost to others if their practices lead to financial crisis, as they regularly do. In economists' terms, risk is underpriced, because systemic risk is not priced into decisions. That leads to repeated crisis, naturally. At that point, we turn to the IMF solution. The costs are transferred to the public, which had nothing to do with the risky choices but is now compelled to pay the costs - in the US, perhaps mounting to about $1 trillion right now. And of course the public has no voice in determining these outcomes, any more than poor peasants have a voice in being subjected to cruel structural adjustment programs. A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that cost and risk are socialized, while profit is privatized. That principle extends far beyond financial institutions. Much the same is true for the entire advanced economy, which relies extensively on the dynamic state sector for innovation, for basic research and development, for procurement when purchasers are unavailable, for direct bail-outs, and in numerous other ways. These mechanisms are the domestic counterpart of imperial and neocolonial hegemony, formalized in World Trade Organization rules and the misleadingly named "free trade agreements." Financial liberalization has effects well beyond the economy. It has long been understood that it is a powerful weapon against democracy Free capital movement creates what some international economists have called a "virtual parliament" of investors and lenders, who can closely monitor government programs and "vote" against them if they are considered irrational: for the benefit of people, rather than concentrated private power. They can "vote" by capital flight, attacks on currencies, and other devices offered by financial liberalization. That is one reason why the Bretton Woods system established by the US and UK after World War II instituted capital controls and regulated currencies. The Great Depression and the war had aroused powerful radical democratic currents, taking many forms, from the anti-fascist resistance to working class organization. These pressures made it necessary to permit social democratic policies. The Bretton Woods system was designed in part to create a space for government action responding to public will - for some measure of democracy, that is. John Maynard Keynes, the British negotiator, considered the most important achievement of Bretton Woods to be establishment of the right of governments to restrict capital movement. In dramatic contrast, in the neoliberal phase after the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, the US Treasury now regards free capital mobility as a "fundamental right," unlike such alleged "rights" as those guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: health, education, decent employment, security, and other rights that the Reagan and Bush administrations have dismissed as "letters to Santa Claus," "preposterous," mere "myths." In earlier years the public had not been much of a problem. The reasons are reviewed by Barry Eichengreen in his standard scholarly history of the international monetary system. He explains that in the 19th century, governments had not yet been "politicized by universal male suffrage and the rise of trade unionism and parliamentary labor parties." Therefore the severe costs imposed by the virtual parliament could be transferred to the general population. But with the radicalization of the general public during the Great Depression and the anti-fascist war, that luxury was no longer available to private power and wealth. Hence in the Bretton Woods system, "limits on capital mobility substituted for limits on democracy as a source of insulation from market pressures." It is only necessary to add the obvious corollary: with the dismantling of the system from the 1970s, functioning democracy is restricted. It has therefore become necessary to control and marginalize the public in some fashion, processes that are particularly evident in the more business-run societies like the United States. The management of electoral extravaganzas by the Public Relations industry is one illustration. The primary victims of military terror and economic strangulation are the poor and weak, within the rich countries themselves and far more brutally in the South. But times are changing. In Venezuela, in Bolivia, and elsewhere there are promising efforts to bring about desperately needed structural and institutional changes. And not surprisingly, these efforts to promote democracy, social justice, and cultural rights are facing harsh challenges from the traditional rulers, at home and internationally. For the first time in half a millennium, South America is beginning to take its fate into its own hands. There have been attempts before, but they have been crushed by outside force, as in the cases I just mentioned and other hideous ones too numerous and too familiar to review. But there are now significant departures from a long and shameful history. The departures are symbolized by the UNASUR crisis summit in Santiago just a few days ago. At the summit, the presidents of the South American countries issued a strong statement of support for the elected Morales government, which as you know is under attack by the traditional rulers: privileged Europeanized elites who bitterly oppose Bolivian democracy and social justice and, routinely, enjoy the firm backing of the master of the hemisphere. The South American leaders gathering at the UNASUR summit in Santiago declared "their full and firm support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a big majority" -- referring, of course, to his overwhelming victory in the recent referendum. Morales thanked UNASUR for its support, observing that "For the first time in South America's history, the countries of our region are deciding how to resolve our problems, without the presence of the United States." A matter of no slight significance. The significance of the UNASUR support for democracy in Bolivia is underscored by the fact that the leading media in the US refused to report it, though editors and correspondents surely knew all about it. Ample information was available to them on wire services. That has been a familiar pattern. To cite just one of many examples, the Cochabamba declaration of South American leaders in December 2006, calling for moves towards integration on the model of the European Union, was barred from the Free Press in the traditional ruler of the hemisphere. There are many other cases, all illustrating the same fear among the political class and economic centers in the US that the hemisphere is slipping from their control. Current developments in South America are of historic significance for the continent and its people. It is well understood in Washington that these developments threaten not only its domination of the hemisphere, but also its global dominance. Control of Latin America was the earliest goal of US foreign policy, tracing back to the earliest days of the Republic. The United States is, I suppose, the only country that was founded as a "nascent empire," in George Washington's words. The most libertarian of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, predicted that the newly liberated colonies would drive the indigenous population "with the beasts of the forests into the Stony Mountains," and the country will ultimately be "free of blot or mixture," red or black (with the return of slaves to Africa after eventual ending of slavery). And furthermore, it "will be the nest, from which all America, North and South, is to be peopled," displacing not only the red men but the Latin population of the South. These aspirations were not achieved, but control of Latin America remains a central policy goal, partly for resources and markets, but also for broader ideological and geostrategic reasons. If the US cannot control Latin America, it cannot expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world," Nixon's National Security Council concluded in 1971 while considering the paramount importance of destroying Chilean democracy. Historian David Schmitz observes that Allende "threatened American global interests by challenging the whole ideological basis of American Cold War policy. It was the threat of a successful socialist state in Chile that could provide a model for other nations that caused concern and led to American opposition," in fact direct participation in establishing and maintaining the terrorist dictatorship. Henry Kissinger warned that success for democratic socialism in Chile might have reverberations as far as southern Europe - not because Chilean hordes would descend on Madrid and Rome, but because success might inspire popular movements to achieve their goals by means of parliamentary democracy, which is upheld as an abstract value in the West, but with crucial reservations. Even mainstream scholarship recognizes that Washington has supported democracy if and only if it contributes to strategic and economic interests, a policy that continues without change through all administrations, to the present. These pervasive concerns are the rational form of the domino theory, sometimes more accurately called "the threat of a good example." For such reasons, even the tiniest departure from strict obedience is regarded as an existential threat that calls for a harsh response: peasant organizing in remote communities of northern Laos, fishing cooperatives in Grenada, and so on throughout the world. It is necessary to ensure that the "virus" of successful independent development does not "spread contagion" elsewhere, in the terminology of the highest level planners. Such concerns have motivated US military intervention, terrorism, and economic warfare throughout the post-World War II era, in Latin America and throughout much of the world. These are leading features of the Cold War. The superpower confrontation regularly provided pretexts, mostly fraudulent, much as the junior partner in world control appealed to the threat of the West when it crushed popular uprisings in its much narrower Eastern European domains. But times are changing. In Latin America, the source is primarily in moves towards integration, which has several dimensions. One dimension of integration is regional: moves to strengthen ties among the South American countries of the kind I mentioned. These are now just beginning to reach to Central America, which was so utterly devastated by Reagan's terror wars that it had mostly stayed on the sidelines since, but is now beginning to move. Of particular significance are recent developments in Honduras, the classic "banana republic" and Washington's major base for its terrorist wars in the region in the 1980s. Washington's Ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, was one of the leading terrorist commanders of the period, and accordingly was appointed head of counter-terrorist operations by the Bush administration, a choice eliciting no comment. But here too times are changing. President Zelaya declared that US aid does not "make us vassals" or give Washington the right to humiliate the nation, and has improved ties with Venezuela, joining Petrocaribe, and in July, joining the Alba as well. Regional integration of the kind that has been slowly proceeding for several years is a crucial prerequisite for independence, making it more difficult for the master of the hemisphere to pick off countries one by one. For that reason it is causing considerable distress in Washington, and is either ignored or regularly distorted in the media and other elite commentary. A second form of integration is global: the establishment of South-South relations, and the diversification of markets and investment, with China a growing and particularly significant participant in hemispheric affairs. Again, these developments undercut Washington's ability to control what Secretary of War Henry Stimson called "our little region over here" at the end of World War II, when he was explaining that other regional systems must be dismantled, while our own must be strengthened. The third and in many ways most vital form of integration is internal. Latin America is notorious for its extreme concentration of wealth and power, and the lack of responsibility of privileged elites for the welfare of the nation. It is instructive to compare Latin America with East Asia. Half a century ago, South Korea was at the level of a poor African country. Today it is an industrial powerhouse. And much the same is true throughout East Asia. The contrast to Latin America is dramatic, particularly so because Latin America has far superior natural advantages. The reasons for the dramatic contrast are not hard to identify. For 30 years Latin America has rigorously observed the rules of the Washington consensus, while East Asia has largely ignored them. Latin American elites separated themselves from the fate of their countries, while their East Asian counterparts were compelled to assume responsibilities. One measure is capital flight: in Latin America, it is on the scale of the crushing debt, while in South Korea it was so carefully controlled that it could bring the death penalty. More generally, East Asia adopted the modes of development that had enabled the wealthy countries to reach their current state, while Latin America adhered to the market principles that were imposed on the colonies and largely created the third world, blocking development. Furthermore, needless to say, development of the East Asian style is hardly a model to which Latin America, or any other region, should aspire. The serious problems of developing truly democratic societies, based on popular control of all social, economic, political and cultural institutions, and overturning structures of hierarchy and domination in all aspects of life, are barely even on the horizon, posing formidable and essential tasks for the future. These are huge problems within Latin America. They are beginning to be addressed, though haltingly, with many internal difficulties. And they are, of course, arousing bitter antagonism on the part of traditional sectors of power and privilege, again backed by the traditional master of "our little region over here." The struggle is particularly intense and significant right now in Bolivia, but in fact is constant in one or another form throughout the hemisphere. The problems of Latin America and the Caribbean have global roots, and have to be addressed by regional and global solidarity along with internal struggle. The growth of the social forums, first in South America, now elsewhere, has been one of the most encouraging steps forward in recent years. These developments may bear the seeds of the first authentic international, heralding an era of true globalization - international integration in the interests of people, not investors and other concentrations of power. You are right at the heart of these dramatic developments, an exciting opportunity, a difficult challenge, a responsibility of historic proportions.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Concluding Statement , By Wayne Price

October 05, 2008 First, I want to thank Michael Albert and ZNet for hosting this exchange of views. I do not know about anyone else, but it has been educational for me.

Much of our difference is that Michael Albert is a model-builder and I am not. This causes us to talk past each other, despite the wide range of things on which we do agree. Michael and other Pareconers keep on trying to interpret my comments as though I am proposing an alternate model of post-capitalist society. So they ask how a decentralized socialist society would work, how goods would be exchanged among regions, how libertarian communism would value goods, and so on? Frankly, I do not know the answers and am not worried about that.

It is important to have a vision, a utopian set of values, of a different, more human, unalienated, way for people to live and work and to relate to each other. This is opposed to the Marxist tendency to let the Goddess of the Historical Process take care of everything. That is a dangerous approach because it leads to accepting whatever the historical process turns up, such as totalitarianism, and calling it socialism. A workers' revolution must be conscious, with a true analysis of how society works and with a deliberate goal. This is different from the capitalist revolutions, whose main task was to remove barriers to the market and then let it automatically perform; therefore it was possible to have all sorts of illusions and false consciousness. However this does not mean that a revolution of the workers and oppressed must have a worked-out model, as opposed to a set of values. The working people can deliberately set about to develop a new society, consciously trying out various approaches.

It can be useful for someone to develop a more-or-less detailed model of how a vision could be concretized, how it might actually work. Besides Parecon, I can think of Bookchin's Libertarian Municipalism, Takis Fotopoulis' Inclusive Democracy, Paul Goodman's Scheme II in Communitas, Pat Devine's ideas, Kirkpatrick Sale's bioregionalism, Guild Socialism, Castoriadis' plan factory, and so on. Not to mention the ideas Marx raised in passing in the Critique of the Gotha Program and elsewhere. (There are also models of decentralized market socialisms, which I reject but I would be against other regions invading an area which had adopted such a model, unless exploitation was reintroduced.)

It is important to study all these and other models, but I have no need to endorse any one (aside from rejecting market socialism or state planning). I am willing to be in the same revolutionary organization with people who are committed to any of them. No one knows how a free people would reorganize production and politics after a revolution.

I am an experimentalist. Under socialist anarchism, people will try out different plans at different times in different regions. There will be constant reorganizing. To quote Kropotkin again, from his encyclopedia article on "Anarchism," "Such a society would represent nothng immutable....Harmony would (...) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitude of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the State."

Michael agrees with an experimental approach, but only within the framework of Parecon. That is, there has to be iterative exchanges between workplace councils and consumer councils, not kibbutz-like communes as advocated by Bookchin or Fotopoulis. He is for a concrete determination of what industries should be centralized and what decentralized, as I am, but he still aims for a primary national plan (why not a continental or international plan?). He rejects my advocacy of as much decentralization as possible (direct democracy functions best when people have direct control over their economy and it tends to be more ecologically viable). There is a whole literature on decentralism and regionalism, which I will not attempt to summarize here.

Once we agree on a general vision, then what matters most is our program for the here-and-now, what we are going to do, what we say to advanced workers who are listening to us (even if it is mostly propaganda for the future). Which is why I could be in the same organization as Pareconists, anarchist-communists, libertarian Marxists, anarchist-syndicalists, and so on, if we agree on our program for the next period.

This is why I keep on raising the issue of voting for Obama and other Democrats, even though this is a peripheral question for Michael and even though there are other Pareconists who disagree with him. Is there something in the Parecon program which leads Michael as well as Robin Hahnel (the co-founders of Parecon) to be willing to vote for an imperialist war monger? If so, this is a problem. Or is there no connection between the model of Parecon and one's position on voting in capitalist elections? If so, this may be even worse. What good is Parecon if it gives no guidance to current political action?

(Michael's comparison of voting for—and working for—Obama with getting a job in the capitalist economy is pretty weak. I have to work in order to feed myself and my family. I can live perfectly well without voting for my class enemy. I work because I have to; it does not imply support for capitalism. Voting for Obama, and urging others to do so, means giving political support to a politician and his capitalist program. Also, respecting other people's motives does not require that we agree with them.)

Tom Wetzel has associated Parecon with the idea that mass movements of opposition should be participatory and directly democratic. I agree with this. And I agree with Michael's belief that movements should be militant and threatening to the ruling class, so that it will make concessions. This approach would seem to contradict support for the Democrats and the passivity of reliance on capitalist elections. However, it is not necessarily connected to the specific program of Parecon as distinct from a general revolutionary libertarian socialism.

There have been several topics which we might have gone into but have not, due to limitations of space and time. In our initial exchange on www.Anarkismo.net, we argued about Michael's concept of revolution, but I have not raised it here. There is also Michael's theory of "coordinatorism" versus my belief in "state capitalism." While we agree that there are a range of potentially rebellious forces, I would put an emphasis on the working class that Michael may not agree with. We have not discussed our views on specific anarchist organization—although this is directly relevant to my earlier point, that a revolutionary anarchist organization should not be primarily formed around a specific model of post-capitalist society. Instead it should be in general agreement on a vision, open to specific ways that vision may be eventually embodied, and in general agreement on a program for the coming period.

Right now we are at a major turning political turning point. A large part of the U.S. population is moving to the left, and many are losing their faith in capitalism. Right now, both Parecon and revolutionary class struggle anarchism are extremely marginal but this will change. We are parts of the same libertarian socialist movement and should work together where we can.

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Zeitgeist Addendum - Released Oct 3 - Free D/L

"Zeitgeist was created in the hope that it will inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective, and to relay the understanding that very often things are not what the population at large think they are. The true understanding of events, both historical and modern, are crucial to the development, awareness and spirituality of the human condition." Video Link

Gay Marriage Ban Supporters Thank Obama

Californians Who Hope To Ban Gay Marriage Are Counting On Obama Voters To Give Them A Boost ... Those campaigning in California for Proposition 8, which would reinstate the ban on gay marriage, believe they'll get a lot of unintended help from Barack Obama on Election Day, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. "We thank Barack Obama, even though he's not supporting it, for helping us," says Sonja Eddings Brown, of an anti-gay-marriage group called Protect Marriage. "We think it's going to push us over the top." Obama is expected to bring African-American voters out in record numbers, and those voters are seen as often being more conservative on issues involving homosexuality. Pastor Edward Smith of Zoe Christian Fellowship has been urging members of his Los Angeles area church to vote for the gay marriage ban. "Marriage has always been defined as a man and a woman," Smith says. For Smith, it's the most significant item on the November ballot. "This issue is more important than who becomes president of our states to me and to our Christian believers," he says. ...
PlayVideo

Obama And Gay Marriage

Those who oppose same sex unions are counting on the record number of African-American voters supporting Barack Obama to help them ban gay marriage in Calif. John Blackstone reports. | Share/Embed


The Fable of the Bees - by Bernard Mandeville (1714)

[Thanks to Dan for this]

From the fable of the bees: Or, private vices, publick benefits

THE GRUMBLING HIVE: OR, KNAVES TURN'D HONEST

A Spacious Hive well stock'd with Bees, That lived in Luxury and Ease; And yet as fam'd for Laws and Arms, As yielding large and early Swarms; Was counted the great Nursery Of Sciences and Industry. No Bees had better Government, More Fickleness, or less Content. They were not Slaves to Tyranny, Nor ruled by wild Democracy; But Kings, that could not wrong, because Their Power was circumscrib'd by Laws.

These Insects lived like Men, and all Our Actions they perform'd in small: They did whatever's done in Town, And what belongs to Sword, or Gown: Tho' th' Artful Works, by nimble Slight; Of minute Limbs, 'scaped Human Sight Yet we've no Engines, Labourers, Ships, Castles, Arms, Artificers, Craft, Science, Shop, or Instrument; But they had an Equivalent: Which, since their Language is unknown, Must be call'd, as we do our own. As grant, that among other Things They wanted Dice, yet they had Kings; And those had Guards; from whence we may Justly conclude, they had some Play; Unless a Regiment be shewn Of Soldiers, that make use of none.

Vast Numbers thronged the fruitful Hive; Yet those vast Numbers made 'em thrive Millions endeavouring to supply Each other's Lust and Vanity Whilst other Millions were employ'd, To see their Handy-works destroy'd; They furnish'd half the Universe; Yet had more Work than Labourers. Some with vast Stocks, and little Pains Jump'd into Business of great Gains; And some were damn'd to Sythes and Spades, And all those hard laborious Trades Where willing Wretches daily sweat, And wear out Strength and Limbs to eat: Whilst others follow'd Mysteries, To which few Folks bind Prentices That want no Stock, but that of Brass, And may set up without a Cross; As Sharpers, Parasites, Pimps, Players, Pick-Pockets, Coiners, Quacks, Sooth-Sayers, And all those, that, in Enmity With down-right Working, cunningly Convert to their own Use the Labour Of their good-natur'd heedless Neighbour. These were called Knaves; but, bar the Name, The grave Industrious were the Same. All Trades and Places knew some Cheat, No Calling was without Deceit.

The Lawyers, of whose Art the Basis Was raising Feuds and splitting Cases, Opposed all Registers, that Cheats Might make more Work with dipt Estates; As were't unlawful, that one's own, Without a Law-Suit, should be known. They kept off Hearings wilfully, To finger the refreshing Fee; And to defend a wicked Cause, Examin'd and survey'd the Laws; As Burglars Shops and Houses do; To find out where they'd best break through.

Physicians valued Fame and Wealth Above the drooping Patient's Health, Or their own Skill: The greatest Part Study'd, instead of Rules of Art, Grave pensive Looks, and dull Behaviour; To gain th' Apothecary's Favour, The Praise of Mid-wives, Priests and all, That served at Birth, or Funeral; To bear with th' ever-talking Tribe, And hear my Lady's Aunt prescribe; With formal Smile, and kind How d'ye, To fawn on all the Family; And, which of all the greatest Curse is, T' endure th' Impertinence of Nurses.

Among the many Priests of Jove, Hir'd to draw Blessings from Above, Some few were learn'd and eloquent, But Thousands hot and ignorant: Yet all past Muster, that could hide Their Sloth, Lust, Avarice and Pride; For which they were as famed, as Taylors For Cabbage; or for Brandy, Sailors: Some meagre look'd, and meanly clad Would mystically pray for Bread, Meaning by that an ample Store, Yet lit'rally receiv'd no more; And, whilst these holy Drudges starv'd, The lazy Ones, for which they serv'd, Indulg'd their Ease, with all the Graces Of Health and Plenty in their Faces.

The Soldiers, that were forced to fight, If they survived, got Honour by 't; Tho' some, that shunn'd the bloody Fray, Had Limbs shot off, that ran away: Some valiant Generals fought the Foe; Others took Bribes to let them go: Some ventur'd always, where 'twas warm; Lost now a Leg, and then an Arm; Till quite disabled, and put by, They lived on half their Salary; Whilst others never came in Play, And staid at Home for Double Pay.

Their Kings were serv'd; but Knavishly Cheated by their own Ministry; Many, that for their Welfare slaved, Robbing the very Crown they saved: Pensions were small, and they lived high, Yet boasted of their Honesty. Calling, whene'er they strain'd their Right, The slipp'ry Trick a Perquisite; And, when Folks understood their Cant, They chang'd that for Emolument; Unwilling to be short, or plain, In any thing concerning Gain: For there was not a Bee, but would Get more, I won't say, than he should; But than he dared to let them know, That pay'd for 't; as your Gamesters do, That, tho' at fair Play, ne'er will own Before the Losers what they've won.

But who can all their Frauds repeat! The very Stuff, which in the Street They sold for Dirt t' enrich the Ground, Was often by the Buyers found Sophisticated with a Quarter 0f Good-for-nothing, Stones and Mortar; Tho' Flail had little Cause to mutter, Who sold the other Salt for Butter.

Justice her self, famed for fair Dealing, By Blindness had not lost her Feeling; Her Left Hand, which the Scales should hold, Had often drops'em, bribed with Gold; And, tho' she seem'd impartial, Where Punishment was corporal, Pretended to a reg'lar Course, In Murther, and all Crimes of Force; Tho' some, first Pillory'd for Cheating, Were hang'd m Hemp of their own beating; Yet, it was thought, the Sword she bore Chcck'd but the Desp'rate and the Poor; That, urged by mere Necessity, Were tied up to the wretched Tree For Crimes, which not deserv'd that Fate, But to secure the Rich, and Great.

Thus every Part was full of Vice, Yet the whole Mass a Paradice; Flatter'd in Peace, and fear'd in Wars They were th' Esteem of Foreigners, And lavish of their Wealth and Lives, The Ballance of all other Hives. Such were the Blessings of that State; Their Crimes conspired to make 'em Great; And Vertue, who from Politicks Had learn'd a Thousand cunning Tricks, Was, by their happy Influence, Made Friends with Vice: And ever since The Worst of all the Multitude Did something for the common Good.

This was the State's Craft, that maintain'd The Whole, of which each Part complain'd: This, as in Musick Harmony, Made Jarrings in the Main agree; Parties directly opposite Assist each oth'r, as 'twere for Spight; And Temp'rance with Sobriety Serve Drunkenness and Gluttony.

The Root of evil Avarice, That damn'd ill-natur'd baneful Vice, Was Slave to Prodigality, That Noble Sin; whilst Luxury Employ'd a Million of the Poor, And odious Pride a Million more. Envy it self, and Vanity Were Ministers of Industry; Their darling Folly, Fickleness In Diet, Furniture, and Dress, That strange ridic'lous Vice, was made The very Wheel, that turn'd the Trade. Their Laws and Cloaths were equally Objects of Mutability; For, what was well done for a Time, In half a Year became a'Crime; Yet whilst they alter'd thus their Laws, Still finding and correcting Flaws, They mended by Inconstancy Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.

Thus Vice nursed Ingenuity, Which join'd with Time, and Industry Had carry'd Life's Conveniencies, It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease, To such a Height, the very Poor Lived better than the Rich before; And nothing could be added more:

How vain is Mortal Happiness! Had they but known the Bounds of Bliss; And, that Perfection here below Is more, than Gods can well bestow, The grumbling Brutes had been content With Ministers and Government. But they, at every ill Success, Like Creatures lost without Redress, Cursed Politicians, Armies, Fleets; Whilst every one cry'd, Damn the Cheats, And would, tho' Conscious of his own, In Others barb'rously bear none.

One, that had got a Princely Store, By cheating Master, King, and Poor, Dared cry aloud; The Land must sink For all it's Fraud; And whom d'ye think The Sermonizing Rascal chid? A Glover that sold Lamb for Kid.

The least Thing was not done amiss, Or cross'd the Publick Business; But all the Rogues cry'd brazenly, Good Gods, had we but Honesty! Merc'ry smiled at th' Impudence; And Others call'd it want of Sence, Always to rail at what they loved: But Jove, with Indignation moved, At last in Anger swore, he'd rid The bawling Hive of Fraud, and did. The very Moment it departs, And Honesty fills all their Hearts; There shews 'em, like th' Instructive Tree, Those Crimes, which they're ashamed to see; Which now in Silence they confess, By Blushing at their Uglyness; Like Children, that would hide their Faults, And by their Colour own their Thoughts; Imag'ning, when they're look'd upon, That Others see, what they have done.

But, Oh ye Gods! What Consternation, How vast and sudden was th' Alteration! In half an Hour, the Nation round, Meat fell a Penny in the Pound. The Mask Hypocrisie's flung down, From the great Statesman to the Clown; And some, in borrow'd Looks well known, Appear'd like Strangers in their own. The Bar was silent from that Day; For now the willing Debtors pay, Ev'n what's by Creditors forgot; Who quitted them, that had it not. Those, that were in the Wrong, stood mute, And drops the patch'd vexatious Suit. On which, since nothing less can thrive, Than Lawyers in an honest Hive, All, except those, that got enough, With Ink-horns by their Sides troop'd off.

Justice hang'd some, set others free; And, after Goal-delivery, Her Presence be'ng no more requir'd, With all her Train, and Pomp retir'd. First march'd some Smiths, with Locks and Grates Fetters, and Doors with Iron-Plates; Next Goalers, Turnkeys, and Assistants: Before the Goddess, at some distance, Her chief and faithful Minister Squire Catch, and Laws great Finisher, Bore not th' imaginary Sword, But his own Tools, an Ax and Cord: Then on a Cloud the Hood-wink'd fair Justice her self was push'd by Air: About her Chariot, and behind, Were Sergeants, Bums of every kind, Tip-staffs, and all those Officers, That squeeze a Living out of Tears.

Tho' Physick lived, whilst Folks were ill, None would prescribe, but Bees of Skill; Which, through the Hive dispers'd so wide, That none of 'em had need to ride, Waved vain Disputes; and strove to free The Patients of their Misery; Left Drugs in cheating Countries grown, And used the Product of their own, Knowing the Gods sent no Disease To Nations without Remedies.

Their Clergy rouz'd from Laziness, Laid not their Charge on Journey-Bees ; But serv'd themselves, exempt from Vice, The Gods with Pray'r and Sacrifice; All those, that were unfit, or knew, Their Service might be spared, withdrew: Nor was there Business for so many, (If th' Honest stand in need of any.) Few only with the High-Priest staid, To whom the rest Obedience paid: Himself, employ'd in holy Cares, Resign'd to others State-Affairs: He chased no Starv'ling from his Door, Nor pinch'd the Wages of the Poor; But at his House the Hungry's fed, The Hireling finds unmeasur'd Bread, The needy Trav'ler Board and Bed.

Among the King's great Ministers, And all th' inferiour Officers The Change was great; for frugally They now lived on their Salary. That a poor Bee should Ten times come, To ask his Due, a trifling Sum, And by some well-hir'd Clerk be made, To give a Crown, or ne'er be paid; Would now be call'd a down-right Cheat, Tho' formerly a Perquisite. All Places; managed first by Three, Who watch'd each other's Knavery, And often for a Fellow-feeling, Promoted one another's Stealing; Are happily supply'd by one; By which some Thousands more are gone.

No Honour now could be content, To live, and owe for what was spent. Liv'ries in Brokers Shops are hung, They part with Coaches for a Song; Sell stately Horses by whole Sets; And Country-Houses to pay Debts.

Vain Cost is shunn'd as much as Fraud; They have no Forces kept Abroad; Laugh at th' Esteem of Foreigners, And empty Glory got by Wars; They fight but for their Country's Sake, When Right or Liberty's at Stake.

Now mind the glorious Hive, and see, How Honesty and Trade agree: The Shew is gone, it thins apace; And looks with quite another Face, For 'twas not only that they went, By whom vast Sums were Yearly spent; But Multitudes, that lived on them, Were daily forc'd to do the Same. In vain to other Trades they'd fly; All were o'er-stock'd accordingly.

The Price of Land, and Houses falls; Mirac'lous Palaces, whose Walls, Like those of Thebes, were raised by Play, Are to be lett; whilst the once gay, Well-seated Houshold Gods would be More pleased t' expire in Flames, than see The mean Inscription on the Door Smile at the lofty Ones they bore. The Building Trade is quite destroy'd, Artificers are not employ'd; No Limner for his Art is famed; Stone-cutters, Carvers are not named.

Those, that remain'd, grown temp'rate, strive, Not how to spend; but how to live; And, when they paid their Tavern Score, Resolv'd to enter it no more: No Vintners Jilt in all the Hive Could wear now Cloth of Gold and thrive; Nor Torcol such vast Sums advance, For Burgundy and Ortelans; The Courtier's gone, that with his Miss Supp'd at his House on Christmass Peas ; Spending as much in Two Hours stay, As keeps a Troop of Horse a Day.

The haughty Chloe, to live Great, Had made her Husband rob the State: But now she sells her Furniture, Which th' Indies had been ransack'd for; Contracts th' expensive Bill of Fare, And wears her strong Suit a whole Year: The slight and fickle Age is past; oAnd Cloaths, as well as Fashions last. Weavers that join'd rich Silk with Plate, And all the Trades subordinate, Are gone. Still Peace and Plenty reign, And every Thing is cheap, tho' plain: Kind Nature, free from Gard'ners Force, Allows all Fruits in her own Course; But Rarities cannot be had, Where Pains to get 'em are not paid.

As Pride and Luxury decrease, So by degrees they leave the Seas. Not Merchants now; but Companies Remove whole Manufacturies. All Arts and Crafts neglected lie; Content the Bane of Industry, Makes 'em admire their homely Store, And neither seek, nor covet more.

So few in the vast Hive remain; The Hundredth part they can't maintain Against th' Insults of numerous Foes; Whom yet they valiantly oppose: Till some well-fenced Retreat is found; And here they die, or stand their Ground. No Hireling in their Armies known; But bravely fighting for their own, Their Courage and Integrity At last were crown'd with Victory. They triumph'd not without their Cost; For many Thousand Bees were lost. Hard'ned with Toils, and Exercise They counted Ease it self a Vice; Which so improved their Temperance; That, to avoid Extravagance, They flew into a hollow Tree, Blest with Content and Honesty.

The MORAL.

Then leave Complaints: Fools only strive To make a Great an honest Hive. T' enjoy the World's Conveniencies, Befamed in War, yet live in Ease Without great Vices, is a vain Eutopia seated in the Brain. Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live; Whilst we the Benefits receive. Hunger's a dreadful Plague, no doubt, Yet who digests or thrives without? Do we not owe the Growth of Wine To the dry, crooked, shabby Vine? Which, whilst its Shutes neglected stood, Choak'd other Plants, and ran to Wood; But blest us with its Noble Fruit; As soon as it was tied, and cut: So Vice is benefcial found, When it's by Justice lopt, and bound; Nay, where the People would be great, As necessary to the State, As Hunger is to make 'em eat. Bare Vertue can't make Nations live In Splendour; they, that would revive A Golden Age, must be as free, For Acorns, as for Honesty.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: THE WAR AGAINST THE THIRD WORLD A Video Compilation by Frank Dorrel

http://video.google.de/videoplay?docid=-7557214168916914640

Info: http://www.addictedtowar.com/dorrel.html Text: http://www.addictedtowar.com/docs/The.War.Against.the.Third.World.pdf

SEGMENT 1

Martin Luther King, Jr.1. Martin Luther King, Jr., (segment 2:55) read segment

He was not only a civil rights advocate, he also spoke out against the U.S. war in Vietnam. Some people feel he was assassinated after he criticized our involvement there and other regions of the world. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


SEGMENT 2

John Stockwell2. John Stockwell, former C.I.A. Station Chief (segment 6:14) read segment

Former CIA Station Chief in Angola 1975, working for then Director of the CIA, George Bush. A 13 year veteran of the agency, Stockwell provides a short history of the CIA, estimating 6 million people have died as a direct consequence of the agency’s covert operations since its inception in 1947. This talk was given in the late 1980’s.

Recommended reading: John Stockwell’s The Praetorian Guard : The US Role In The New World Order


SEGMENT 3

Behind the Iran Contra Affair3. Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair (segment 19:34) read segment

This investigative documentary has been seen in theaters worldwide. Directed by Barbara Trent of the Empowerment Project. The Iran-Contra scandal is not an aberration of U.S. foreign policy. It has been estimated that between 20 to 30,000 Nicaraguan men, women and children were killed in U.S. sponsored terror conducted by the CIA backed right-wing Contra forces.

Elizabeth Montgomery narrates. Includes a short history of CIA covert operations by Peter Dale Scott

This segment comes from the full-length documentary ‘CoverUp: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair‘ available from The Empowerment Project


SEGMENT 4

School of Assassins4. School of Assassins (segment 13:25) read segment

The School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning, Georgia - our own terrorist training school right here in the United States. This documentary is narrated by Susan Sarandon and features Father Roy Bourgeois talking about this U.S. Army school where soldiers from Central and South America are trained in the art of torture, terrorism, and assassination. This school has since officially been renamed “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.”

This film was directed and produced by Robert Richter of Maryknoll World Productions.

This segment comes from the documentary “School of Assassins” available from the School of the Americas Watch web site.


SEGMENT 5

genocide by sanctions5. Genocide by Sanctions (segment 12:58) read segment

Produced and directed by Gloria La Riva in 1998 (long before the current war in Iraq), this film features former Attorney General of the United States, Ramsey Clark, as he shows the terrible conditions the Iraqi’s were suffering from due to the first U.S. war on Iraq. UNICEF, the International Red Cross and other world organizations estimate around 5,000 children were dying every month in Iraq after that war and the imposition of sanctions placed on that country.

Over 1.5 million Iraqi’s died as a result of the sanctions alone. Ramsey Clark goes into the hospitals and talks with Iraqi doctors, who say many of these deaths could have been prevented if they had medicine to give to the children. The United States bombed out their way of life; their water treatment facilities, food delivery systems, sewage treatment facilities, electrical systems, their mass communication facilities and more. And American’s were lead to believe that this was a good thing.

This segment comes from the documentary ‘Genocide By Sanctions.’ Check out the Left Books web site for more info.


SEGMENT 6

phil agee, former c.i.a.6. Philip Agee, former C.I.A. Case Officer (segment 22:08) read segment

Philip Agee spent 13 years in the C.I.A. before resigning in 1969. His book “Inside the Company: C.I.A. Diary” was first published in 1975 and has been translated in to 27 languages. It was a best seller world-wide. His autobiography, “On The Run” was published in 1987.

In this speech given in 1991 after the first Gulf War, Agee analyzes why the U.S. invaded Iraq. He also describes “the war against the third world” as being fought for the natural resources, the labor and the markets of these third world countries the United States invaded either overtly or covertly since the end of World War II.


SEGMENT 7

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now7. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! (segment 5:12) read segment

Journalist and host of Democracy Now!, a daily radio and TV news program on over 400 stations. Amy is the best at what she does! On this segment, Amy talks about two genocides Indonesia committed, first against its own people in 1965 and then against the people of East Timor in 1975. Both of these mass slaughters were sanctioned by the United States government and aided by the C.I.A. Includes scenes from “Bitter Paradise,” a video by Elaine Briere. Amy Goodman was filmed by Ralph Cole of Justice Vision.


SEGMENT 8

panama deception8. The Panama Deception (segment 22:10) read segment

Won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Directed by Barbara Trent of the Empowerment Project. This film documents the untold story of the December 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama. The United States military deliberately attacked and destroyed primarily residential neighborhoods, killing an estimated 3 to 4 thousand people in the process. This segment exposes the role the U.S. government and the mainstream media play in suppressing information about U.S. foreign policy. Includes never before seen footage of this invasion. Narrated by (actress) Elizabeth Montgomery

This segment comes from the feature-length documentary ‘The Panama Deception‘ available from The Empowerment Project


SEGMENT 9

ramsey clark9. Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General (segment 7:58) read segment

Former Attorney General of the United States speaking in 1998 in Los Angeles. I was there that night and it was a very memorable evening called “Save the Iraqi Children.” Ramsey’s talk is very powerful as he conveys the sorry truth about U.S. foreign policy. He quotes Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “The greatest purveyor of violence on the earth is my own government.” The entire evening’s event was filmed by Ralph Cole of Justice Vision.

Recommended Reading: “The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf War” by Ramsey Clark


SEGMENT 10

S. Brian Willson10. S. Brian Willson, Vietnam Veteran and Peace Activist (segment 8:45) read segment

Brian is the Vietnam veteran who, in 1987, lost both his legs when run over by a munitions train at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, located in California. The bombs and munitions aboard this train were bound for Central America. Brian is one of the most spiritual, courageous and honest activists who Wages Peace against our violent foreign policies. He is a hero in Central America where the people understand that he has stood up for their rights as equal human beings. Brian says that he doesn’t want mothers and fathers and children to be killed and maimed in our name with our tax money!

Brian’s web site features his auto-biography and a series of essays he has written since then. With an introduction by Kris Kristofferson, this segment includes scenes from “The Healing of Brian Willson” by Lori Joyce of Idanha Films and “Nicaragua Diary” by Mark Birnbaum.


151 Congressmen Derive Financial Profit From War

Blood money stains the hands of more than 25% of members of the U.S. House and Senate

By Ralph Forbes

Who profits from the Iraq war? More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq. According to the latest reports, 151 members of Congress invested close to a quarter-billion in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. These companies got more than $275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day, according to FedSpending.org, a website of the watchdog group OMBWatch. Congressmen gave themselves a loophole so they only have to report their assets in broad ranges. Thus, they can be off as much as 160 percent. (Try giving the IRS an estimate like that.) In 2004, the first full year after the present Iraq war began, Republican and Democratic lawmakers—both hawks and doves—invested between $74.9 million and $161.3 million in companies under contract with the DoD. In 2006 Democrats had at least $3.7 million invested in the defense sector alone, compared to the Republicans’ “only” $577,500. As the war raged on, so did the billions of profits—and personal investments by Congress members in war contractors, which increased 5 percent from 2004 to 2006. Investments in these contractors yielded Congress members between $15.8 million and $62 million in personal income from 2004 through 2006, through dividends, capital gains, royalties and interest. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who are two of Congress’s wealthiest members, were among the lawmakers who garnered the most income from war contractors between 2004 and 2006: Sensenbrenner got at least $3.2 million and Kerry reaped at least $2.6 million. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees which oversee the Iraq war had between $32 million and $44 million invested in companies with DoD contracts. War hawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (IConn.), chairman of the defense-related Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had at least $51,000 invested in these companies in 2006. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who voted for Bush’s war, had stock in defense companies, such as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007. Of the 151 members whose investments are tied to the “defense” (war) industry, as far as we know, not one of them offered to donate their bloodstained profits to the national treasury to offset the terrible debt they have imposed. Has one of them even offered to donate one cent of their war profits to lessen the debt that increases more than $1 million a minute? When our boys and girls are wounded the government bills them to return their reenlistment bonus. They have to return any pay they received while they were hospitalized. They have to pay for their helmets and uniforms that are destroyed in the hell of war. But they keep on fighting for these politicians’ right to keep their war profits. � Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $3,001,006 to $5,015,001 � Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) $250,001 to $500,000 � Rep. Kenny Ewell Marchant (R-Tex.) $162,074 to $162,074 � Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) $115,002 to $300,000 � Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) $115,002 to $300,000 � Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) $100,870 to $100,870 � Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) $65,646 to $65,646 � Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) $50,008 to $227,000 � Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) $50,001 to $100,000 � Rep. Stephen Ira Cohen (D-Tenn.) $45,003 to $150,000

Contact freelance writer Ralph Forbes at justrite@ipa.net.


Venezuelan President Chavez announces plan to swap old cars for free natural gas models

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Give up your gas-guzzler and get a free car. That's President Hugo Chavez's offer to Venezuelans. Chavez says he plans to start a program next year that will give away cars running on less-polluting natural gas to people who turn in old cars that consume "too much gasoline." The socialist leader says he'll even throw in a year of free fuel — though that's a relatively minor bonus in oil-rich Venezuela, where gasoline goes for 12 cents a gallon. Saturday's offer didn't say what sort of cars will be offered or how many will be given out. Venezuela has signed accords with companies from more than a half-dozen countries to exploit its mostly untapped natural gas reserves — the largest in South America.

Brian Moore Socialist Party Presidential Candidate on FOX "News"

Video

Saturday, October 04, 2008

CODA offers “debate alternative” at Vanderbilt University

By Chris Lugo October 4, 2008

Nashville, TN: The Coalition for October Debate Alternatives (CODA) released the program and format today for the Presidential Candidate’s Alternative Debate to be held October 6 at 7 p.m. at 4309 Stevenson Hall (seating for 250), Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Those candidates who have confirmed attendance include Charles Jay of the Boston Tea Party, Brad Lyttle of the US Pacifist Party, Frank McEnulty of the New American Independent Party, Brian Moore of the Socialist Party, Darrell Castle, Vic Presidential Candidate of the Constitution Party, and Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. The moderator of the debate will be Bruce Barry, Vanderbilt Professor at the Owen School of Management. The event is free and open to the public on a first come basis. For those who are unable to watch the debates in person, the debate can be viewed live on the website of Vanderbilt University. The debate will also be archived on the internet at Vanderbilt University’s Youtube page.

The format for the debate will consist of policy and platform questions concerning the economy, foreign policy, health care, the environment, civil liberties, the federal budget, reproductive rights, international trade, gun rights, campaign finance reform, immigration, education and race and gender. Each candidate will be given two minutes to make introductory statements and then one or two minutes per question to answer policy and platform questions. The debate will end at 8:30pm with a candidate’s reception to follow in the lobby of the Stephenson Center.

For more information about the Presidential Candidate’s Alternative Debate visit their web site.

Attending this event will be Charles Jay of the Boston Tea Party, Brad Lyttle of the US Pacifist Party, Frank McEnulty of the New American Independent Party, Brian Moore of the Socialist Party, Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party and Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Bruce Barry will serve as moderator for this event. Debate Format:

7:00 PM: Introduction and Opening Statements (2 Minutes Per Candidate) 7:15 PM: Policy and Issue Questions (1 or 2 Minutes Per Candidate) 8:20 PM: Closing Statements (1 Minute Per Candidate) 8:30 PM: Debate End and Candidate’s Reception

Ground Rules: Candidates are encouraged to keep within time limits announced. A time keeper will present placards to candidates showing time limits of response. Once over time moderator has discretion to close comments and move on to next candidate. Moderator has discretion to clarify candidate’s response and encourage dialogue between candidates.

Topic List: (Data Source: Project Vote Smart)

The Economy: Americans are concerned about the safety of their retirements, pension and ability to obtain a mortgage. The value of the dollar is dropping and investor confidence is at an all time low, what will you do to improve our nation’s economy? What will you do to reduce our national indebtedness and in doing so restore world confidence that investing in America is a good option? What is your solution for the thousands of Americans who are facing foreclosure or have lost their housing? Do you support increased funding for national job-training programs that retrain displaced workers or teach skills needed in today’s job market? Would you support an increase in the federal minimum wage? What are your feelings about the rights of workers to form unions? Federal Budget: Americans want to know where their candidates stand on the federal budget. The allocation of funds for federal programs is one of the most important roles the president plays in shaping public policy. How would you have voted on a federal bailout of Wall Street? What conditions would you attach to such a bailout? What are your budget priorites on federal issues such as defense, education, the environment and health care? Do you support requiring the federal budget to be balanced each year? Please indicate your plans for the social security system? Would you work to ensure the viability of the social security system? Would you raise the retirment age for individual eligibility to receive full benefits?

Foreign Policy: What is your foreign policy agenda for the United States? Would you support an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? What would you do if elected President regarding US relations with Iran? What are your feelings about pre-emptive use of military force as an instrument of national policy? Do you support long-term use of National Guard troops to supplement the armed forces in assignments overseas? Should the United States provide leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? Should the United States support the creation of a Palestinian state? Do you support greater economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea? Finally, should the United States be involved in peace keeping activities in countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Burma? Do you support the United States granting aid to countries when extraordinary circumstances cause disaster and threaten civilian lives?

Health Care: The issue of access to quality, affordable health care is a concern for many voters. Nearly fifty million Americans do not have access to health care but at the same time some people advocate that the United States has the best health care system in the world. What are your thoughts on the issue of access to health care? Do you support universal single payer health care? What would you do to reduce the costs of prescription drugs for Seniors? Do you support the legalization of medical marijuana?

Education: Please indicate your policy platform on the issue of education. Would you support increased funding of our nation’s k-12 public schools. What are your feelings about mandatory standards and testing requirements for students? What are your feelings about the use of vouchers? What will you do regarding federal funding and support for our nation’s public college students? Do you support increased or decreased funding for pell grants for college students?

Abortion and Reproductive Rights: Many Americans have strong feelings about issues related to reproductive rights and abortion. Do you feel that abortion should always be legal, should only be legal within the first trimester, when the woman’s life is endangered, in the case of incest or rape, or should always be illegal? How do you feel about federal subsidies being used on abortion procedures? Do you support federal funding for research on existing embryonic stem cell lines? Do you support federal funding to create lines of stem cells from new embryos?

Same Sex Marriage: What are your feelings regarding the issue of same sex marriage? As a candidate for federal office, do you believe that same-sex couples be allowed to form civil unions? Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry or do you support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman? Should sexual orientation be included in federal anti-discrimination laws?

Crime and Punishment: More Americans are incarcerated now than at any point in our history, what role do you believe the federal government should play on issues of crime and punishment? Do you support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released? Do you support mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs? Do you support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment? Would you support the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana? How do you feel about reduced prison sentences for those who commit non-violent crimes? Do you support the elimination the use of the death penalty for federal crimes?

Race and Gender: Race and gender continue to be defining issues in federal policy. As a candidate do you believe the consider race and gender in government contracting decisions? Do you support affirmative action in public college admissions?

Campaign Finance Reform: As you know, campaign finance reform has continued to be an issue of importance to voters. Currently seven states have adopted some form of campaign finance reform which involves the allocation of public dollars for candidates. On the federal level one candidate has said that the current system of public campaign finance is broken, while another candidate has accepted campaign finance limits. How do you feel about the issue of campaign finance reform and elections? Do you support campaign finance reform of the current election financing system? If elected would you support public taxpayer funding for candidates who comply with spending limits? Do you support instant runoff voting or election day as a national holiday?

The Environment: What would you do regarding the environment and energy policy? Please indicate your policy issues regarding offshore oil drilling and drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. What will you do to move America towards a clean energy future? Do you support strengthened fuel efficiency standards on all gasoline and diesel powered engines? Do you support the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel? What will you do to increase development of alternative energy? Do you consider nuclear energy to be an alternative energy source that needs to be developed for national energy security? Do you support international mandatory emission targets to limit global warming?

Gun Rights: Please indicate your position on the issue of the second amendment. Do you believe that Americans should be allowed to carry conceal weapons? Should current enforcement and restrictions on the purchase of guns be strengthened? Should individuals be allowed to carry guns on college campuses? Do you support a ban on the ownership of handguns except by law enforcement or other government officials?

Immigration: Please indicate your policy platform on the issue of immigration. Would you support amnesty for undocumented workers who are already working in the United States? Do you believe that undocumented workers should be offered a path to citizenship? Do you support harsher punishments for employers who knowingly hire immigrants who are not in this country legally? Do you believe that people who are not here legally should be returned to their countries of origin, even if it means breaking up their families?

International Trade: Please indicate your position on matters of trade? Do you support economic globalization and free trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and GATT? Would you work to withdraw the US from international free trade agreements? Would you support the continued participation of the United States in the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank? Do you support the United States imposing economic sanctions on China for human rights abuses?

Civil Liberties: Civil liberties are of the utmost concern to many Americans. The Bush administration has argued that there must be a balance between respect for civil liberties and the need to fight the terrorists. Should law enforcement agencies have greater discretion to monitor domestic communications? Do you support a repeal of the patriot act? What role should the department of Homeland Security play in national affairs? Would you support the creation of a federal level Department of Peace?

For more information contact Chris Lugo, 615-593-0304, chris4senate@gmail.com; Elizabeth Barger, 931-964-2119, loveliz77@yahoo.com; or Eric Schecter, 615-414-4572, leftymathprof@yahoo.com.


Third Parties: The only safe investment

From: http://wilderside.wordpress.com The following candidates were for dumping our tax-payer money into banks, and giving untold of leeway to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson: Democrat Barack Obama Republican John McCain The following candidates were against the dumping of money, and made suggestions for completely different and better ways to address the problems due to the financial crisis: Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney Libertarian candidate Bob Barr Independent/Peace and Freedom Party candidate Ralph Nader. In conclusion: Third Parties are the only safe investment. Vote Third Party. If you are a progressive, or a genuine, fiscal conservative, you just LOST. The two major party candidates have the pleasure of serving in the Senate NOW, and what they did was vote against you, vote to give your money away. You don’t have a voice in this election, unless there is a third party on the platform. So, give a Third Party candidate a chance, make a donation. Get that alternative view into the public discourse, give a Third Party candidate some money. Third Parties: The only good way to invest your money NOW.

Cindy Sheehan Interview On The Issues-The War & The Economy

On September 25,2008 the bi-monthly Labor On The Job interviewed Cindy Sheehan who is running against Democrat and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has refused to have any debates and Cindy discusses why she is running and what the key issues are for her and working people in the election. "Labor On The Job" is programmed the very 2nd and 4th Friday at 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM of the month on San Francisco Cable Channel 29. "Labor On The Job" is also the longest running labor cable show in the United States since 1983. It is produced and programmed by the Labor Video Project in San Francisco. Labor On The Job is also programmed on Philadelphia Drexel TV 54 every Wednesday 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM and St. Louis cable systems on on cable ch. 22 in the "City" of St. Louis Fridays at 9:00 PM The Labor Video Project also produces labor documentaries and is part of the Union Producers and Programmers Network (UPPNET) http://www.uppnet.org You can watch Labor Video Productions on Google Video by searching Labor Video Project & http://www.youtube and searching Labor Video Project Labor Video Project P.O.Box 720027 San Francisco,CA 94172 Phone (415)282-1908 lvpsf [at] labornet.org www.laborvideo.org http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2442729271017222425

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Secret’ - Hawaiian Style

October 3, 2008 (1 hour ago) posted by Editor

Huna - 'The Secret' in HawaiianThere really is a secret process that allows you to achieve just as much health, wealth, happiness, and success as you can ever desire. The funny thing is, it’s never been a secret.

As some people discovered an unimaginably long time ago, the best way to keep a secret is to tell everyone about it, over and over and over again in many different ways until they stop paying attention and forget about it. Then someone “rediscovers” the secret and everyone gets excited about it until it’s old news and it gets forgotten again.

Possibly the oldest form of the secret process is found in Huna, a name of convenience given to the very ancient esoteric knowledge of Polynesia. As a word in Hawaiian, ka huna actually means “the secret.” Interestingly, this particular word has the connotation of something hard to see, not something intended to be kept hidden. The process itself is described in the Hawaiian proverb, Makia ke ali’i, ehuehu ka ukali (literally, concentration is the chief, energy is the follower), which I first translated in my 1985 book, Mastering Your Hidden Self, as “Energy flows where attention goes.”

In other words, to achieve all your desires, keep your focus on what you want, and not on what you don’t want, a version of the secret expressed frequently in the Seth Books by Jane Roberts. Other versions of the secret process can be found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, in Buddhist and Taoist writings, in Yoga sutras and Sufi poetry, and of course in the works of more modern writers such as Wattles, Hill, Emerson, Holmes, and many others. One nice thing about the Hawaiian version of the secret is that it includes specific instructions for putting it into practice. These instructions can be found in the roots of a little-understood Hawaiian word, haipule.

The Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary defines haipule as meaning “religious, devout, pious, reverent, to worship,, to hold prayers or service, to consecrate a heiau, and a church service,” but this is obviously a Christianized interpretation of this very Hawaiian word. More likely, it’s original meaning as a whole word was based on the word hai (to offer) plus pule (prayer, blessing, spell). That is, haipule is a term relating to a process for making good things happen.

The actual process, according to my Hawaiian uncle, William Kahili, is found in root meanings of the word. More accurately, the roots describe four ways to maintain a positive focus, which is the key ingredient of the secret.

Ha - meaning “life, breath, spirit.” Breathe deeply and get emotionally excited while thinking about what you want, or at least feel as positive and happy as you can. When you lose your focus, breathe deeply to get back into the present and start over.

I - meaning “to speak.” Speak the words that describe what you want, aloud or silently. When you find yourself speaking negative words related to what you want, stop, breathe, and go back to saying what you want instead.

Pu - meaning “to issue forth, to appear like smoke.” This is a poetic description of imagination. Imagine what you want in as much sensory detail as you can. When you find yourself imagining what you don’t want, stop, breathe, and imagine what you want again.

Le - a short form of lele meaning, basically, “to move.” Whenever you are thinking or speaking about what you want, assume a positive posture and move in confident ways. When you find yourself feeling depressed, helpless or disillusioned in relation to what you want, stop, take a deep breath, and change your posture or the way you move into a more positive and confident mode.

You don’t have to do everything every time you think of what you want, but each method reinforces the other and helps you to maintain your positive expectation.

So that’s it. The secret is out. Or, as the ancient Hawaiians would have said…

Ahuwale ka nane huna “That which was a secret is no longer hidden” (from ‘Olelo No’eau, by Mary Kawena Pukui)

About The Author

Serge Kahili King is a Hawaiian Shaman and Founder of Aloha International - an organization dedicated to sharing the Hawaiian healing arts and helping individuals attain self-mastery. To learn more about this organization and the courses they offer, please visit Huna.org


Third Party VP Candidates Matt Gonzalez and Rosa Clemente Respond to Biden-Palin Debate

We play excerpts of the much-anticipated showdown between Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and get reaction from two vice-presidential candidates excluded from the debate: Matt Gonzalez, running mate of Independent candidate Ralph Nader, and Rosa Clemente, running mate of Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Expectations for the content of last night’s vice-presidential debate might have been low, but it was certainly the most anticipated vice-presidential debate in recent history.

Thursday’s face-off between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin brought few surprises. The two VP picks sparred over the economy, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the threat posed by Iran and Pakistan, taxes, energy policy, climate change, healthcare, and the voting records of Senators Obama and McCain. Among their points of agreement was their support for Israel and their opposition to gay marriage.

One of the sharpest points of contention between them centered on the role and powers of a vice president. Governor Palin brought up the point and was then questioned about it by moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Joe Biden lambasting Vice President Cheney’s interpretation of the vice presidency.

We’ll play more clips from the debate, but first, we’re joined by two guests who are also running for vice president. They’re third party candidates excluded from the official debates. Matt Gonzalez is the vice-presidential candidate for Ralph Nader’s Independent ticket, San Francisco-based attorney, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 2003, he ran for mayor of San Francisco on the Green Party ticket but lost in a very close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom. Matt Gonzalez joins us now from San Francisco.

We’re also joined on the phone by the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee, Rosa Clemente, longtime activist and journalist and former director of the Hip-Hop Caucus.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Matt Gonzalez, let’s go right to you on that question of the role of the vice president.

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I would certainly agree with Senator Joe Biden, his interpretation of it. I do think Cheney has been extremely dangerous in the position. And so, I wouldn’t quarrel with that.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente?

ROSA CLEMENTE: I mean, I would agree with the constitutional mandate. But I also think the role, particularly for me, coming out of my generation, of a vice president, at this time, would be to finally talk about the issues that are affecting particularly black, white, Asian, Native American, and white working-class young people in this country, because neither candidate or most parties in this country have dared to address one of our issues that’s affecting us, particularly in the hip-hop generation.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Matt Gonzalez, in terms of what you would do as vice president, what you would see as your role if you were elected?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think the very first thing a vice president does is he—he or she would preside over the Electoral College count. And I think it’s an important opportunity to have a dialogue that should have happened eight years ago, should have happened sixteen years ago, that we need to move to a popular vote and we need elections won by a majority of the voters to—you know, to improve our democracy.

But I think the role of vice president has been disparaged many times in history by those who have held the position, because it’s often seen as a position of someone lying in wait for a larger office. It’s not very clearly defined, notwithstanding what Senator Biden said. But I would caution against what Governor Palin was suggesting, which is that the role somehow has separate authority and somehow makes that position a member of that legislative branch. I think that that’s gone a little too far.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let’s turn to the financial crisis embroiling Wall Street and the national economy. I want to play excerpts of both nominees’ comments on the current financial situation and how Senators McCain and Obama have responded so far.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Senator Biden and Governor Palin debating the economy. Independent vice-presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez, your view of the bailout?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think, first of all, it was one of the things about the debate that I thought was awkward. I think the Democrats successfully, during the debate, really placed the blame at the feet of the Republicans, but it’s not historically correct. The Glass-Steagall Act of the—you know, that came out of the first stock market crash of the twentieth century, has been slowly eroded, and that culminated, really, in 1999 under President Clinton’s administration with a law that essentially had, at the end, bipartisan support, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, that allowed, you know, mortgage companies to buy up brokerage firms, to buy up insurance companies. And that’s how we have the problem that we have: the mortgages repackaged into financial instruments that were quite risky.

I also find it ironic—I didn’t hear Joe Biden ever respond to Governor Palin’s remark at one point in the debate, where she pointed out that, look, Biden himself had urged or spoken about possibly running with McCain and had urged, I think, John Kerry to select McCain as a vice-presidential—you know, as a running mate. So, I thought that that was ironic, and we never heard a response to that.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Rosa Clemente, your response to the economic portion of the debate and the issue of the bailout?

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, I mean, I think both people up there last night were clear that they don’t have the majority of the American people’s interests at heart, including the majority of American people that have called, into the last week, telling the Democrats and the Republicans no bailout.

You know, I think we need to talk about the fact that six years ago, groups like Central Brooklyn Partnership or NEDAP or financial literacy groups in this country were right in front of this, talking about predatory lending, the idea that these lenders could come in, confuse people with mass amounts of paperwork and literally put them into debt for life.

But while we’re talking about the financial crisis, and particularly the subprime mortgage mess, I’m also thinking about affordable housing and how, in the same time period, there has been a major rent destabilization loss all through this country, rampant gentrification, and many people who don’t own houses, who don’t have mortgages, are literally being evicted every day from their homes, because they can no longer afford the rent.

So, in a recent essay called “Seize the Time” that Cynthia McKinney put out, she says we have to now seize the time. If they’re going to pay this $700 billion or maybe potentially $800 billion bailout with the tax people’s money, with our money, then we have every right to step into that space and create the policies that come from the people, that the government adheres to.

And one of the things that is not being talked about also is ending the war right now, not ending the war in sixteen months, not in twelve months. We’re spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. We need to stop the war immediately. And for me and for young people, that also includes the over-reliance of the war here at home, the drug war, and the continuing prison-building. We need to get a grip, and we need to—we need to force and hold these people accountable to put in programs that will keep people not only in their homes, will keep people in their rental apartments and will stop the war. I think everything is interconnected, and we can’t let one go—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to the issue—we’re going to go to the issue of Iraq after break. Rosa Clemente, Green Party vice-presidential candidate, and Matt Gonzalez, Independent vice-presidential running mate of Ralph Nader. Rosa Clemente, on the ticket of Cynthia McKinney. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Iraq, Israel and more. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: As we break the sound barrier, bringing the third party candidates into this debate—the candidates last night in St. Louis, the main vice-presidential candidates of the main parties, Democrat and Republican, Senator Joe Biden, Governor Sarah Palin, sparred on Iraq and the question of when to withdraw and how to end the war.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Biden, talking about the war in last night’s debate. Rosa Clemente, Green Party vice-presidential nominee, what’s your viewpoint on the war?

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, the Green Party’s viewpoint—and Cynthia has been very clear, and the party has been very clear—an immediate end to the war, an immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan.

And, you know, one thing Cynthia agrees with a former colleague of hers, Dennis Kucinich, is that we now have to talk about creating departments of peace. And we have to also talk about withdrawing troops wherever they reside in other people’s homelands. I always found it interesting—or, you know, the fact that we, as the United States government, and we, as the people in this country, allow our military to be placed in other people’s homelands. And being from Puerto Rico, I’m very clear on why the military does what it does. But we would never allow another country to have a military base there.

And that might be a little simplistic kind of thing to throw out there, but I also think it speaks to the way we want to move forward in the future. And I don’t think that either party is planning on ending the war. I think that the Democrats are more about transferring troops to Afghanistan and potentially preparing for a war in Pakistan. And even yesterday, Joe Biden talked about the possibility of putting troops in in Darfur. And I think that’s something that we have to say immediately is unacceptable and that the majority of young people in this country have been clear for the last five years that we want an end to the war right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Independent vice-presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I certainly—and Ralph Nader supports getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. I think the problem with a lot of the rhetoric that we’re hearing is that if you concede that the surge is working, which we do not concede—but the moment you do that, you are going to run into a problem with the so-called timetable. Are the Democrats going to stick to a timetable if, as they start to draw down troops, there’s increased sectarian violence? And I think the answer to that is really unclear, and probably no. I think the only way that we can successfully get out of this country is if, at the outset, we make it clear we’re going to—we’re going to work quickly to get our troops out of the region, that we’re part of the reason why the region remains unstable.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, on the question of US support of Israel, both candidates were in agreement.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Matt Gonzalez, Independent vice-presidential candidate, speaking to us from San Francisco, your response?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think, you know, both of these candidates pay lip service to the notion that we need a two-state solution. They don’t tell you any specifics around that. Do they support 1967 borders, for instance? Joe Biden did not repudiate Barack Obama’s earlier remark about Jerusalem belonging to Israel.

And I think their sort of over-the-top repeating of how much they love Israel—I think, in that, they lose an opportunity to support peace movements in and outside of Israel, joined by many Jews, both in this country and in Israel, that want to see an end to the violence in the region, that don’t believe, for instance, the way Palestinians are being treated is fair.

And I think when Joe Biden starts repudiating elections in the West Bank and elsewhere, you see that these guys are pretty much in step with the current administration. You know, they either—you either have to be a supporter of democracy and deal with the right of people to self-determine, or you repudiate that. And if you repudiate it, you’re going to go down a path that can be very dangerous.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente?

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, I mean, I think it’s not even a question of fairness. The Israeli government, every day, kills Palestinian people in their own homeland. I think it is about the right to self-determination, but it’s also—I think it’s more than a two-state solution. Many Palestinian groups are calling for a one-state solution, and that’s how it should be.

And the United States, we need to stop sending any type of military aid to Israel. I think what’s going on in—what’s been happening in Palestine, you know, is an indication of forty years of complete terror amongst another group of people, aided by American tax dollars, you know.

And I think younger people, particularly through hip-hop, it’s been interesting that we can have cultural exchanges and actually have people in Palestine, like the hip-hop group DAM, that let us know what’s happening every day right there on the ground and that the issue for a lot of Palestinian people would be that they deserve their homeland back and that the right of return is fundamental to them as a people.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Governor Palin last night refused to attribute global warming—as a major cause, human activity causing global warming. Let’s listen to this.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente, you have thirty seconds.

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, I would just encourage people to understand one of the major principles of the Green Party, and I would also encourage young people to take up Van Jones’s call for green jobs for oil and the recent call by former Vice President Al Gore about civil disobedience, because that’s what we need to stop the madness around the environment that these oil companies and this government keeps pushing down our throats.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Matt Gonzalez?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I would just say that to hear both these candidates talk about clean coal, this is just totally a mythology that we need to repudiate among the progressive community.

Also, you have to look at Barack Obama’s voting for this Energy Policy Act in 2005. This is a ticket that, in effect, in 2005 was giving money for fossil fuel production, tax breaks and subsidies. Nader-Gonzalez does not support that, and we’ve been arguing for a promotion of solar energy and other alternatives that I think, you know, we’ve got to move forward on.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You know, there seems to be less disagreement between the two of you than there was between the two candidates last night. Matt Gonzalez, why are, then, you running against Rosa Clemente, as well?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think Cynthia McKinney sought the Green Party nomination. Ralph Nader has never been a member of a political party and is running as an Independent. I think, in today’s difficult times, having four candidates out there arguing about and trying to raise progressive issues is a positive thing.

And I think under—you know, really under this whole debate, to see Joe Biden be included in vice-presidential debates, when he never had even the poll numbers that Ralph Nader has, when he was running in the Democratic primary, is really an insult to other candidates that have lengthy careers doing good work for this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader ran on the Green Party ticket in the last presidential race, but, Rosa Clemente, your main difference with Matt Gonzalez and the Independent candidacy of Nader-Gonzalez?

ROSA CLEMENTE: I mean, I think one of my main differences, I feel that a lot of the issues coming from some of the other third parties are more reformist issues, and I feel we don’t need reform anymore. We need to really look at a lot of these systems in this country and talk about fully dismantling them. And I think that’s one of the reasons that Cynthia picked me.

I think, coming from my generation, coming from the South Bronx, still seeing my family there suffering in the poorest congressional district to this day, understanding the history of Puerto Rico and what the United States of America has done, particularly to my people and that country and my island, that we can’t afford to be talking about reform, we can’t afford to be talking about the lesser of two evils, although I don’t see Matt Gonzalez or Ralph Nader as an evil. I’m talking about the fact that—

MATT GONZALEZ: But, Rosa, I’m just wondering, though, could you just give one example where we’re reformists and you’re something else?

ROSA CLEMENTE: One example of reform, where we’re different?

MATT GONZALEZ: Yeah, where you think we’re—where we’re advocating reform, and somehow you’re advocating system change, because we’ve not supported this bailout.

ROSA CLEMENTE: I mean, I think the prison-industrial complex—I think—I mean, look, I applaud Ralph Nader for coming out finally against the prison-industrial complex, but part of that still keeps the prison-industrial complex alive. Part of that still says that there’s people that should be subjected to prisons. And I have a very different view on that. I don’t think we need prisons. I think we need the abolition of prisons.

I think we have to fully understand that particularly my generation, African American and Latino young people—no one is speaking to that issue. No one is speaking to that issue, you know, and I think the Green Party has been forced to speak about that issue, because Cynthia specifically picked me. I come from that generation. I see what’s going on. So that’s what I talk about. I think it’s more about truly radical progressive change.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the last clip we’re going to play from last night’s debate and get your comment, the two VP nominees also discussing benefits for same-sex couples and the overall question of gay marriage.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Gonzalez, I know you have to leave, so I’m going to give you the first stab at this, as you catch a plane.

And also, a correction: in 2004, yes, Ralph Nader was an Independent candidate, as well. He was, 2000, the Green Party candidate.

Your comment on same-sex marriage?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, obviously, Nader and I support marriage rights for all. I think it’s insulting to hear these candidates want it both ways. They’re essentially trying to appeal to both conservative voters who are opposed to gay marriage and somehow also appeal to progressive voters who want to see equality.

You know, I think Ralph Nader, you know, when you step back and look at his history, he is somebody who is an enormously important voice against the growing corporate greed in this society and what concentrated capital does when it’s left alone. And I think he’s not somebody who has decided to fight against the two parties. You know, he has, his entire life, been fighting against these parties—it’s not a recent conversion—on a host of issues.

And I think he should have been in this debate. I think he has a legislative record that’s stronger than the candidates that we saw in that debate. I mean, Joe Biden should have been asked about his support of credit card companies in Delaware, of the federal sentencing guidelines that he helped pass in the 1980s that, you know, has disproportionately hurt people of color. These were things that were absent. And I think if Rosa and I had been in that debate, it would have been a better debate.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Rosa Clemente, your perspective on gay marriage?

ROSA CLEMENTE: I mean, full 100 percent equal rights for everybody. I also take it a step further for it being about human rights. LGBT people are human beings, and they have a right, like anyone else, to get married, to get divorced, to not get married.

But if I could just quickly just say, yes, Cynthia did leave the Democratic Party after twelve years, but while she was in there, it was Cynthia McKinney that had a hearing on the issue of political prisoners, the first-ever congressional hearing on that. It was Cynthia that pushed the envelope about what happened on 9/11. It was Cynthia that wrote the articles of impeachment.

And I think that speaks highly to someone who will leave a party, finally, based on principles and values and then pick someone that truly represents what the majority of this country is going to look like. I think if me and Matt were on there, and if Cynthia, Bob Barr, Baldwin, Ron Paul and Ralph Nader were allowed to debate, the presidency on November 4th would look radically different and would represent the majority of American people.

AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Clemente, I want to thank you for being with us, Green Party vice-presidential candidate—

ROSA CLEMENTE: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —on the ticket of the former Democratic Congress member from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, who’s the Green Party presidential nominee; and Matt Gonzalez, running on Ralph Nader’s Independent party ticket as the vice-presidential candidate.


Update: What percentage of voters can vote for what percentage of candidates?

IPR previously reported that Ralph Nader would be an option on the ballot for 85.2% of voters and Cynthia McKinney will be on the ballot before 70.5% of voters. Now, because of a series of updates at Ballot Access News, we can bring you a more complete picture of national ballot access. These numbers are based on voter turnout in the 2004 election, meaning that they will differ from the actual percentages. However, this is the closest estimate available.

Chuck Baldwin will be on the ballot “in states that cast 59.8% of the presidential vote in 2004.” Unfortunately, this is down from 66.4% for the Constitution Party nominee in 2004.

Alan Keyes, the America’s Independent Party nominee for president, will be an option for 18.1% of voters even though he’s only on the ballot in three states. Those states include some very heavily populated ones - they are California, Florida, and Colorado.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation’s candidate, Gloria La Riva, will be in front of 26.8% of voters, on twelve different state ballots. She is the party’s first presidential nominee.

The Prohibition Party is doing the best it has done since 1976. Their presidential nominee Gene Amondson will be on the ballot before 9.6% of voters.

Other candidates:

Socialist Workers (Roger Calero): Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

Socialist (Brian Moore): Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The Boston Tea Party’s presidential candidate (Charles Jay) is on the ballot in Colorado, Florida, and Tennessee.

Ron Paul is on the ballot in Louisiana (Louisiana Taxpayers) and Montana (Constitution).

The Objectivist Party (Thomas Stevens) is now on in Colorado and Florida.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Left Out of Debates, Nader Campaign Marches On

Listen to the entire program

Tonight as Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sarah Palin gear up for the Vice Presidential debates, third party VPs will be left out. Certainly the Peace and Freedom Party’s Matt Gonzalez, or the Green Party’s Rosa Clemente, have not been invited to participate. Last week, on the same day that Barack Obama and John McCain debated one another, the Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader was here in Southern California, addressing crowds of supporters. He spoke at the University of Southern California earlier in the day and addressed many of the issues that the candidates were not asked, would not touch if asked, and if they did address, would take very different positions from Mr. Nader. Global Voices for Justice was there and recorded the entire speech along with the questions that followed. Today we bring you Ralph Nader, Peace and Freedom Party candidate for President.

GUEST: Ralph Nader, Peace and Freedom Party candidate for President

Related Links


Bernie Sanders - Re: Bailout

Wall Street Bailout -- 10/01/2008 The Senate approved a $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Senator Bernie Sanders voted against the bill that would put Wall Street’s burden on the backs of the American middle class. “The bailout package is far better than the absurd proposal originally presented to us by the Bush administration, but is still short of where we should be,” Sanders said. “If a bailout is needed, if taxpayer money must be placed at risk, if we are going to bail out Wall Street, it should be those people who have caused the problem, those people who have benefited from President Bush's tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, those people who have taken advantage of deregulation who should pick up the tab, not ordinary working people.” Sanders proposed a five-year, 10 percent surtax on families with incomes of more than $1 million year and individuals earning over $500,00 to raise $300 billion to help bankroll the bailout. Senators, however, set aside the amendment on a voice vote. In a Senate floor speech, Sanders elaborated on the bailout bill’s flaws: "This country faces many serious problems in the financial market, in the stock market, in our economy. We must act, but we must act in a way that improves the situation. We can do better than the legislation now before Congress. "This bill does not effectively address the issue of what the taxpayers of our country will actually own after they invest hundreds of billions of dollars in toxic assets. This bill does not effectively address the issue of oversight because the oversight board members have all been hand picked by the Bush administration. This bill does not effectively deal with the issue of foreclosures and addressing that very serious issue, which is impacting millions of low- and moderate-income Americans in the aggressive, effective way that we should be. This bill does not effectively deal with the issue of executive compensation and golden parachutes. Under this bill, the CEOs and the Wall Street insiders will still, with a little bit of imagination, continue to make out like bandits. "This bill does not deal at all with how we got into this crisis in the first place and the need to undo the deregulatory fervor which created trillions of dollars in complicated and unregulated financial instruments such as credit default swaps and hedge funds. This bill does not address the issue that has taken us to where we are today, the concept of too big to fail. In fact, within the last several weeks we have sat idly by and watched gigantic financial institutions like the Bank of America swallow up other gigantic financial institutions like Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. Well, who is going to bail out the Bank of America if it begins to fail? There is not one word about the issue of too big to fail in this legislation at a time when that problem is in fact becoming even more serious. "This bill does not deal with the absurdity of having the fox guarding the hen house. Maybe I'm the only person in America who thinks so, but I have a hard time understanding why we are giving $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who along with other financial institutions, actually got us into this problem. Now, maybe I'm the only person in America who thinks that's a little bit weird, but that is what I think. "This bill does not address the major economic crisis we face: growing unemployment, low wages, the need to create decent-paying jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure and moving us to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. "There is one issue that is even more profound and more basic than everything else that I have mentioned, and that is if a bailout is needed, if taxpayer money must be placed at risk, whose money should it be? In other words, who should be paying for this bailout which has been caused by the greed and recklessness of Wall Street operatives who have made billions in recent years? "The American people are bitter. They are angry, and they are confused. Over the last seven and a half year, since George W. Bush has been President, 6 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and are in poverty, and today working families are lining up at emergency food shelves in order to get the food they need to feed their families. Since President Bush has been in office, median family income for working-age families has declined by over $2,000. More than seven million Americans have lost their health insurance. Over four million have lost their pensions. Consumer debt has more than doubled. And foreclosures are the highest on record. Meanwhile, the cost of energy, food, health care, college and other basic necessities has soared. "While the middle class has declined under President Bush's reckless economic policies, the people on top have never had it so good. For the first seven years of Bush's tenure, the wealthiest 400 individuals in our country saw a $670 billion increase in their wealth, and at the end of 2007 owned over $1.5 trillion in wealth. That is just 400 families, a $670 billion increase in wealth since Bush has been in office. "In our country today, we have the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on earth, with the top 1 percent earning more income than the bottom 50 percent and the top 1 percent owning more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. We are living at a time when we have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthiest people in this country, when, among others, CEOs of Wall Street firms received unbelievable amounts in bonuses, including $39 billion in bonuses in the year 2007 alone for just the five major investment houses. We have seen the incredible greed of the financial services industry manifested in the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent on campaign contributions and lobbyists in order to deregulate their industry so that hedge funds and other unregulated financial institutions could flourish. We have seen them play with trillions and trillions dollars in esoteric financial instruments, in unregulated industries which no more than a handful of people even understand. We have seen the financial services industry charge 30 percent interest rates on credit card loans and tack on outrageous late fees and other costs to unsuspecting customers. We have seen them engaged in despicable predatory lending practices, taking advantage of the vulnerable and the uneducated. We have seen them send out billions of deceptive solicitations to almost every mailbox in America. "Most importantly, we have seen the financial services industry lure people into mortgages they could not afford to pay, which is one of the basic reasons why we are here tonight. "In the midst of all of this, we have a bailout package which says to the middle class that you are being asked to place at risk $700 billion, which is $2,200 for every man, woman, and child in this country. You're being asked to do that in order to undo the damage caused by this excessive Wall Street greed. In other words, the “Masters of the Universe,” those brilliant Wall Street insiders who have made more money than the average American can even dream of, have brought our financial system to the brink of collapse. Now, as the American and world financial systems teeter on the edge of a meltdown, these multimillionaires are demanding that the middle class, which has already suffered under Bush's disastrous economic policies, pick up the pieces that they broke. That is wrong, and that is something that I will not support. "If we are going to bail out Wall Street, it should be those people who have caused the problem, those people who have benefited from Bush's tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, those people who have taken advantage of deregulation, those people are the people who should pick up the tab, and not ordinary working people. I introduced an amendment which gave the Senate a very clear choice. We can pay for this bailout of Wall Street by asking people all across this country, small businesses on Main Street, homeowners on Maple Street, elderly couples on Oak Street, college students on Campus Avenue, working families on Sunrise Lane, we can ask them to pay for this bailout. That is one way we can go. Or, we can ask the people who have gained the most from the spasm of greed, the people whose incomes have been soaring under president bush, to pick up the tab. "I proposed to raise the tax rate on any individual earning $500,000 a year or more or any family earning $1 million a year or more by 10 percent. That increase in the tax rate, from 35 percent to 45 percent, would raise more than $300 billion in the next five years, almost half the cost of the bailout. If what all the supporters of this legislation say is correct, that the government will get back some of its money when the market calms down and the government sells some of the assets it has purchased, then $300 billion should be sufficient to make sure that 99.7 percent of taxpayers do not have to pay one nickel for this bailout. "Most of my constituents did not earn a $38 million bonus in 2005 or make over $100 million in total compensation in three years, as did Henry Paulson, the current secretary of the Treasury, and former CEO of Goldman Sachs. Most of my constituents did not make $354 million in total compensation over the past five years as did Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers. Most of my constituents did not cash out $60 million in stock after a $29 billion bailout for Bear Stearns after that failing company was bought out by J.P. Morgan Chase. Most of my constituents did not get a $161 million severance package as E. Stanley O'Neill, former CEO Merrill Lynch did. "Last week I placed on my Web site, www.sanders.senate.gov, a letter to Secretary Paulson in support of my amendment. It said that it should be those people best able to pay for this bailout, those people who have made out like bandits in recent years, they should be asked to pay for this bailout. It should not be the middle class. To my amazement, some 48,000 people cosigned this petition, and the names keep coming in. The message is very simple: “We had nothing to do with causing this bailout. We are already under economic duress. Go to those people who have made out like bandits. Go to those people who have caused this crisis and ask them to pay for the bailout.” "The time has come to assure our constituents in Vermont and all over this country that we are listening and understand their anger and their frustration. The time has come to say that we have the courage to stand up to all of the powerful financial institution lobbyists who are running amok all over the Capitol building, from the Chamber of Commerce to the American Bankers Association, to the Business Roundtable, all of these groups who make huge campaign contributions, spend all kinds of money on lobbyists, they're here loud and clear. They don't want to pay for this bailout, they want middle America to pay for it."

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot

[Thanks to ellwort and treebu]
S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero, Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo. Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question... Oh, do not ask, `` What is it? '' Let us go and make our visit. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening. Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains. Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys. Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me. And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. And indeed there will be time To wonder, ``Do I dare?'' and, ``Do I dare?'' Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair-- [They will say: ``How his hair is growing thin!''] My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin-- [They will say: ``But how his arms and legs are thin!''] Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume? And I have known the eyes already, known them all-- The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume? And I have known the arms already, known them all-- Arms that are braceleted and white and bare [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!] Is it perfume from a dress That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin? . . . . . Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . . I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . . . . . And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep. . . tired . . . or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet--and here's no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid. And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question, To say: `` I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all''-- If one, settling a pillow by her head, Should say: ``That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.'' And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor-- And this, and so much more?-- It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow, or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: ``That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.'' . . . . . No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-- Almost, at times, the Fool. I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

POSTAL FIRE DELAYS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY PAPERS SEVEN WEEKS

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
For more information, please contact:
Brian Moore (352) 686-9936 -- cell (352) 585-2907
Darcy Richardson, 904-874-2855
Iowa Officials, Gracious in Accepting Affidavits, Now Know Candidate Was Telling the Truth
Federal Appeals Court Denies Socialists Ballot Access in Louisiana and Mississippi--- Moore/Alexander Ticket Await Related Supreme Court Decision on Other Political Party
Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, September 30, 2008: Sarah G. Reisetter, Elections Director of the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, e-mailed Socialist Party presidential candidate Brian Moore today indicating that his original statement of candidacy, postmarked August 11, 2008, arrived in the Iowa Secretary of State's office seven weeks later, on September 29, 2008.
Ms. Reisetter reported that Moore's statement of candidacy arrived with a letter from the United States Postal Service stating "Enclosed please find damaged and loose articles that were in a fire due to an accident during transportation. We sincerely regret the damage done to your mail during handling by the Postal Service......"
The postal service also concluded in its' note that "this was a rare accident." They hoped the state officials would understand and apologized.
The Socialist candidate said of the Iowa state officials, "They were gracious in accepting my affidavits in August, attesting that I mailed the necessary documents to their offices on time----now they know I was telling the truth."
Moore reported that Iowa Elections Director Sarah Reisetter concluded her note to Moore today by stating "The affidavit [of Moore's candidacy] itself is water damaged and charred around its edges."
The Moore / Stewart Alexander campaign was also informed by its attorney, Mark R. Brown, a law professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, that "The 5th Circuit [Federal Appeals court] today refused to put you on the Mississippi ballot." Attorney Brown advised Moore that all they can do is wait and hope for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on the Libertarian Party's lawsuit related to both political parties' ballot access efforts in Louisiana several weeks ago. Moore hopes for an affirmative decision by the highest court in the land and then use the Libertarians fortunes to "ask for reconsideration" from the Fifth Circuit again for both Mississippi and Louisiana ballot decisions.
The Socialist ticket is already on eight states (Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Jersey, Iowa and Tennessee). So far they have qualified as "write-in" candidates in the states of Michigan, Texas, North Carolina and Indiana. They are applying to 15 other states for "write-in" status as well.
---END---

AMY GOODMAN, HOST OF DEMOCRACY NOW!, FIRST JOURNALIST TO WIN "ALTERNATIVE NOBEL"

New York City, NY – Award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely recognized as the world's premier award for personal courage and social transformation. The annual prize, also known as the Alternative Nobel, will be awarded in the Swedish Parliament on December 8, 2008. The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to honor and support those "offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today". Goodman has been selected for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the country, Democracy Now! is a daily grassroots, global TV/radio/internet news hour airing on more than 750 public radio and television stations and at http://www.democracynow.org. Goodman said, “I am deeply honored that grassroots, independent journalism and the hard work of my colleagues at Democracy Now! are being recognized in these critical times. I strongly believe that media can be a force for peace. It is the responsibility of journalists to give voice to those who have been forgotten, forsaken and beaten down by the powerful. It is the best reason I know to carry our pens, cameras and microphones out into the world. The media should be a sanctuary for dissent. It is our job to go to where the silence is.” Goodman and two Democracy Now! producers were arrested last month at the Republican National Convention while reporting on street demonstrations. Charges were dropped after widespread public outcry. The video of Goodman's arrest was among the most watched YouTube video's during the convention week. It has now been viewed over 860,000 times. Amy Goodman writes a weekly syndicated column with King Features which runs in major newspapers throughout North and South America. She is co-author with her brother, journalist David Goodman, of three New York Times bestsellers: Standing Up To the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times; Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back; and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. Goodman’s reporting on East Timor and Nigeria won the George Polk Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award. Her other awards include the first ever Communication for Peace Award presented by the World Association of Christian Communication, the Puffin/Nation Institute Award for Creative Citizenship, The Paley Center for Media “She Made It” Award, and the Gracie Award for American Women in Radio and Television Public Broadcasting. Goodman has also received awards from the Associated Press, United Press International, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Goodman shares the 2008 Right Livelihood Award with Krishnammal and Sankaralingam Jagannathan of India, and their organisation, Land for the Tillers’ Freedom, for their work dedicated to realising in practice the Gandhian vision of social justice and sustainable human development; Asha Hagi of Somalia “for continuing to lead at great personal risk the female participation in the peace and reconciliation process in her war-ravaged country.”; and Monika Hauser of Germany, gynaecologist and founder of medica mondiale, “for her tireless commitment to working with women who have experienced the most horrific sexualised violence in some of the most dangerous countries in the world, and campaigning for them to receive social recognition and compensation.” For more information about the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, please visit http://www.rightlivelihood.org.

The South American Defense Council, UNASUR, the Latin American Military and the Region’s Political Process

• Applying collective security (through the CSD) in Latin America

• Hopes and challenges for UNASUR and the CSD

• Learning from the OAS and the IADB/C

• The inter-American system and security issues

• Bolivia, UNASUR’s trial of fire The most ambitious and significant recent project undertaken by South America’s armed forces has been the creation of Conselho Sul-Americano de Defesa (South American Defense Council – CSD), an agency of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The success of this agency, part of the larger organization which is also in its infancy, is yet to be measured. To gauge the feasibility of such an ambitious project, it must be viewed in an appropriate context, perhaps as South America’s version of a NATO-style organism (even if somewhat different and adapted to accept regional realities). UNASUR and CSD’s future will be determined by whether they can become effective catalysts for regional security integration, and if member states can find a relevant role for them – perhaps in the area of peacekeeping. For the CSD to be a success, it first will have to deal with the region’s troubling, if not mediocre, historical record regarding security and peacekeeping issues.

Learning from Mistakes: The OAS and the IADB Ambassador Robert White, president of the Center for International Policy, explained that the inter-American system got a promising start at the 1948 meeting in Bogota which founded the Organization of American States (OAS), which succeeded the Pan-American Union. However, the birth of a new inter-American system as it was originally conceived came crashing down with the 1954 CIA-sponsored coup in Guatemala. White then explains that “the crisis triggered by Arbenz’s purchase of Eastern European weaponry could have been solved by an OAS commission putting pressure on the Guatemalan leader. This approach was supported by the U.S. State Department, but the Defense Department and the CIA have always preferred a unilateral approach and took matters into their own hands… in effect, that was the end of the inter-American system.”

The OAS generally has paid lip-service to U.S. interventions and unilateral decisions in the region. For example, Wayne Smith, director of the Cuba program at the Center for International Policy, explained that he could not recall any OAS protests during the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The OAS was almost mute during the American military interventions in the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989. Meanwhile, Cuba’s membership in the OAS was suspended during the 1962 missile crisis.

Throughout its existence, the OAS traditionally has suffered from being regarded as a Washington-dominated institution, suffering from a severe lack of qualified personnel and adequate economic resources. Although OAS agencies like the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) carry out some important work, in general terms the OAS is viewed by those who know it best as a bureaucratic tangle at the lowest common denominator, with little to no relevancy. Latin governments usually regard it as a destination for diplomats on the verge of retirement, troublemakers and politicians that the government of the day wants out of the country. The two-term, all but frivolous, stint of former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria as OAS Secretary General in the 1990s helped cement this perception.

The OAS advisory security agency, the Inter American Defense Board and College (IADB), is similarly regarded as largely irrelevant, akin in the minds off many as being little more than a militarized Moose Club. The IAD-Board was created during the Third Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Rio de Janeiro, January 1942. The IAD-College opened in Fort Lesley McNair, in downtown D.C., on October 1962. The agency deploys occasional humanitarian interventions in Central America and serves as a low-level confidence-building institution, bringing high-ranking military officers from Latin America together to work in a Washington D.C. mansion, or to carry out studies at Fort McNair. For most military officials, their time at the IADB is regarded as a highly desired year-long vacation in the U.S., which includes being able to bring their families along. Two distinguished alumni of the IAD-College are Chile’s current President Michelle Bachelet and Ecuador’s former leader, Lucio Guiterrez.

UNASUR and the CSD: A New Hope? It is perhaps due to this indifferent track record and as a reaction to the OAS’ multiple strike outs that UNASUR has emerged as a new option for Latin American political integration. Of course, UNASUR is only the newest of a series of regional organizations attempting, broadly speaking, to emulate the European Union. However, it appears that Latin America’s drive for integration and supranationalism may more closely approximate the working style of the African Union. Besides the OAS, other regional organizations active at the present time include the Andean Community, Mercosur, the Rio Group, the Venezuela-led ALBA, the Andean Parliament, the Caribbean Community for Caribbean Nations, not to mention extra-hemispheric organizations whose membership includes, in some cases, the European Union and in others, Spain & Portugal (SEGIB) or India and South Africa (IBSA). UNASUR was established as a result of the Cuzco Declaration, signed in 2004. Due to the nature of its present membership, it can be loosely regarded as the union of MERCOSUR and the Andean Community, plus Suriname and Guyana. Panama and Mexico both currently hold observer status. An April 2007 summit at Margarita Island, Venezuela, effectively created the organization. UNASUR’s secretariat is to be based in Quito, Ecuador.

One could suspect that a bona fide South American supranationalist would be tempted to dream that UNASUR and the CSD might become for South America what the OAS and the IADB were never able to be. For some, logic dictates that without the long shadow of U.S. membership, UNASUR might be able to promote integration through economic and political means, while the CSD would be primarily aimed at promoting security and confidence measures to cope with the ongoing arms race that has gripped South America with increased intensity for almost a decade. Apart from the attention Venezuela has gained in recent years over its major purchases of mostly Russian military technology and weaponry, other countries that are following the path of a military buildup include Brazil (led by its ambitious plans to build a nuclear-powered submarine) and Chile (which has purchased Humvees, F-16 fighter planes and Leopard tanks).

However, speculation has already arisen over what UNASUR and the CSD will be dealing with if these new institutions mean to become effective players in regional affairs. Some of the problems both bodies will have to tackle if they are to be considered relevant include:

• How does UNASUR differentiate itself from other regional agencies, besides in its membership?

• Will the absence of the U.S. propel the new organization on a dynamic path of growth and increasing authority?

• What will be the catalyst that will bring countries together? Will UNASUR focus itself on trade, perhaps creating a UNASUR-free trade area?

• What will its bureaucracy be like? Will it resemble the European Union? Will a UNASUR Parliament and Secretariat be set up?

• How much decision-making will South American nations be willing to give up to an overarching organization like UNASUR? This was one of the OAS’ principle problems and an issue that the EU has had to grapple with since its founding - the factor of supranationalism. Namely, would any South American government be persuaded to abide by an order issued by UNASUR’s Secretary General? Or will this organization merely be a forum for discussion and consensus-seeking (which would quickly render it practically irrelevant, as consensus in the region is difficult to achieve)?

A major issue that UNASUR and other Latin agencies will have to struggle with will be maintaining the organization’s momentum to push forward for greater integration. Currently UNASUR is characterized by a wave of like-minded governments, most of them left-leaning with only Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe and Peru’s Alan Garcia standing as markedly Washington-friendly. As South America is striving to become a democratic region, new presidential elections will eventually take place which may bring to office a new series of presidents who may be less interested in supporting UNASUR’s quest for autonomy and national fulfillment and more interested in reestablishing close ties with Washington’s markets. For UNASUR to survive and expand, South American leaders must seize the moment in order to make certain that the organization is not downgraded when leaders like Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva or Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez leave office.

CSD Issues Questions that will have to be confronted if the CSD is to be a viable and relevant agency in regional military integration, with a potential for joint military operations include:

• What will its mandate be?

• Should it resemble NATO?

• Will there be a NATO-style article 5 promoting collective security?

• Where will its headquarters be located?

• Is it open to membership of Caribbean-basin states?

• Where would the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (commonly known as the Rio Treaty, or TIAR) stand in relation to CSD’s mandate?

• Will the U.S. be extended observer status?

• Will there be CSD-sponsored war games and joint-military exercises?

Another issue that will have to be addressed is the current level of distrust that exists among several South American militaries, as well as their obsession (as a national obligation) to protect their countries’ sovereignty. It would be difficult, for some to conceive that a Chilean colonel could take orders from a Peruvian General within a CSD chain of command. Venezuelans and Colombians may similarly have issues working with each other. One other factor is likely to be Brazil’s predominating role in the body’s day-to-day operations, giving the defining role played by Brasilia in the formation of UNASUR and the CSD.

Suggestions A number of suggestions are being put forward to increase the prospects of UNASUR and the CSD being successful. Ambassador White recalled that he was once asked by then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Assistant Secretary of State Bill Rogers how to make the Organization of American States into a successful agency. White went on to write a paper that was circulated in the State Department suggesting that the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America become the U.S. ambassador to the OAS. The logic was that this would put a high ranking and relevant official in an influential position at the OAS. Latin American countries would then see the importance of approaching this high-ranking official and would put an end to their custom of sending two ambassadors to Washington (one as ambassador to the White House, who is usually an experienced diplomat, and one to the OAS, who usually is not) and just send one seasoned diplomat to preside over both posts. This would facilitate the bringing of experience and good ideas to the OAS which, in turn could go a long way to making it a more relevant organization. A similar case could be made for UNASUR - South American governments must visualize the organization’s potential and not view it as some kind of “freezer” or “retirement home” for diplomatic personnel on the skid. Sending less than competent officials to make up UNASUR’s bureaucracy and leadership would condemn the organization to mediocrity and eventual failure.

Regarding the CSD, that body may be seen as a means by which to promote confidence building and the introduction of a rational use of the continent’s security component. Given the current arms race being witnessed in the region, the CSD could be an essential institution to prevent potential crises from escalating. At the present, there remains distrust and occasional disputes between various South American countries, for example: Peru vs. Chile, Bolivia vs. Chile, Argentina vs. Chile, Venezuela vs. Colombia, Venezuela vs. Guyana, Venezuela vs. Brazil; as well as extra-regional issues like Brazil’s leadership current role in the UN mission to Haiti, MINUSTAH. The CSD might find its hands full promoting confidence between these contentious countries, perhaps through joint military exercises and oversight of military purchases. In addition, the CSD could adopt the role of a peacekeeping monitor in some of the countries’ disputed areas, such as the border between Peru and Ecuador, Peru and Chile, Venezuela and Guyana, etc. The CSD could also take a role in helping governments to combat drug trafficking and other organized crime by serving as a coordinating organization attempting to systematize the anti-drug and crime strategy.

Test Case: Bolivia During the recent ongoing internal crisis in Bolivia, as protests spread across the country’s western and southern regions, UNASUR held an emergency summit in Chile on September 15, which was called into session by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. The result of the summit was a declaration providing full backing to President Morales and calling for negotiations between all parties. Former Chilean Foreign Minister Juan Gabriel Valdes, who has distinguished himself in a number of roles, has been appointed as UNASUR’s special envoy to Bolivia.

Already UNASUR is drawing criticism from other regional organizations, including the OAS – which is headed by another Chilean, Juan Miguel Insulza. He declared that it was “completely wrong” that the OAS was excluded from dialogue aimed at solving the Bolivian crisis. Insulza also has declared that “UNASUR was born a few months ago, so we have to get used to discussing South American issues within the UNASUR, and not in the OAS.” Indeed, trying to find a role will be one of UNASUR’s major challenges in the foreseeable future as it will undoubtedly tread on the “turf” of other organizations like the OAS.

Nevertheless, Bolivia is a test case for how successful, if at all, UNASUR will be. Should Valdes be even partially successful in bringing the relevant parties to halt the regional unrest and the deep divide that separates the various parts of the country, between rich and poor, people of European descent and indigenous, and industrialist and field works, this could go a long way toward giving the young organization credibility. In essence, Bolivia could be to UNASUR what Guatemala was to the OAS in 1954 – an opportunity to be relevant.

Hope, but not too much There is a growing optimism that UNASUR, without the U.S. as a member, could bring about more effective regional integration, a goal the OAS has largely failed to achieve in its 60 years of existence. A successful diplomatic intervention in Bolivia would greatly bolster UNASUR’s prestige and sense of mission. However, ultimately it is the task of regional governments – namely powerhouse Brazil in this instance – to maintain momentum and demonstrate whether ambitious initiatives such as the CSD can become a reality, rather than just another unfulfilled promise, something which South America has been compelled to know a lot about.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Alex Sánchez

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1TB of free online media storage via Oosah

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Need someplace to store the massive number of pictures, videos, and other media files that have accumulated on your computer? You can always use a service like Flickr or YouTube, but wouldn't it be nice to have it all in one place? A relatively new player in the media storage game, Oosah, offers 1TB for media storage. Yes, 1TB. Here's the limits on what you can upload:

There are some limitations. You can only upload videos that are 200MB or smaller, images that are 50MB or less, and MP3 files that are 9MB or less. And you can't upload executable files, office documents, or other files.

Here is a word of warning from DownloadSquad though (the above limits also came from DownloadSquad):

One word of warning. When I signed up I had to check a box that said I agreed to Oosah's privacy policy. But there was no clear link to said policy. A quick Google search turned up a list of terms and conditions which also makes mention of a separate privacy policy. But it's nowhere to be found.


Serving the Whole

Featured Community Voice: Global Oneness Project

Global Oneness Project is a film project based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their mission is to explore how the radically simple notion of oneness can be lived in our increasingly complex world.

Global Oneness Project
In the barrios of Guayaquil, Ecuador an amazing transformation is taking place. Through the efforts of one woman, rival gangs have formed truces, turned in their weapons and have started working together to rebuild the community.
Global Oneness Project
In this short film Buddhist nun Ven. Tenzin Palmo reflects on the current state of humanity and asks, "What will it take for everyone to wake up?"
Global Oneness Project
New financial agreements based on equality and the right to experience life in a system not based solely on money and power -- these are just some of the ideas that Orland Bishop shared with us in LA, where he works with gang members and at risk youth.
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Global Oneness Project
Buddhist nun Ven. Tenzin Palmo View Larger >
The Greatest PowerWhen Nelsa Curbelo, a 67-year-old social worker from the most violent city of Ecuador, smiles into the camera and unabashedly declares, "Love is the greatest power. It is more powerful than violence; more powerful than the atomic bomb," you believe her. For Ms. Curbelo, love and deep respect are the foundation of her work with Guayaquil gang members, who together are transforming their city - once lost to poverty and violence - into a community that supports their human potential. Ms. Curbelo is one of many inspiring individuals featured in the Global Oneness Project, a film project based near San Francisco. These short films and interviews offer stunning testimony to the power of spiritual awareness brought to bear on the world's most pressing challenges. The three films featured here - Barrio de Paz, Waking Up, and Oneness is Abundance - illustrate the profound power of recognizing the needs of the whole and serving from the heart.

Peace Town

Barrio de Paz (Peace Town) leads us down the streets of Guayaquil, Ecuador, with Ms. Curbelo and a number of the youth who, through her leadership, have given up drugs and weapons to start small businesses like print shops and recording studios.

The camera scans the half-naked men curled up in doorways, men sitting drinking coffee and beer at sidewalk cafes, and lingers on a twirling, dark-eyed girl sprinkled in light. We witness the tenderness and complete authority with which Ms. Curbelo interacts with the ex-convicts and murderers now softened by her compassion and the changes she has brought to their lives.

The wisdom offered is shockingly clear. Explaining how she has honored gang members’ need for belonging and channeled it into successful community projects, Ms. Curbelo says matter-of-factly, “The opposite of violence is not non-violence; it’s the power of humanity working together.”

Waking Up

Waking Up brings us to Dharamsala, India, where we meet British-born Tibetan Buddhist teacher Ani Tenzin Palmo, She traveled to India when she was twenty years old and retreated into a cave for almost 12 years of meditation. Now her work is to restore the ancient togdenma (yogic) training to young women of the Himalayan region, once available but long lost in the recent patriarchal era of Buddhism.

Tenzin Palmo’s message is straightforward: the sense of a “separate” self is an illusion, and contributes to the destruction of human and natural resources. “Greed and aggression are based on the misconception of who we truly are,” she says; “The fact that you have more and more and bigger and bigger… makes you more and more of a person of substance in the eyes of the world.”

“Human beings have this incredible potential to become really beyond the gods,” she adds with sadness and frustration, “but mostly what they do with their human potential is to destroy both themselves and others.”

“So, how can we wake up?” she asks.

Abundance

Orland Bishop, Guiana-born youth mentor and community leader in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, has a suggestion. “A large percentage of the world could decide to do something different out of collective inspiration,” he says with a hint of promise. “We can’t underestimate the human potential when it comes to this power of awakening.”

According to Mr. Bishop, our country’s economic and political structures can one day reflect the reality that we are not “separate” from the whole, and the whole is abundant with resources.

Our current economy, founded on the principle of scarcity, counters this truth. Supply and demand tells us that the resource that is most scarce has the most value. “This means that people are forced to compete…” Mr. Bishop says.

With competition comes a situation in which “…a small portion of the world is claiming the rights to what the majority of the world produces.” Those with little are unable to participate freely in the community. Thus, the real freedom and abundance of life is at odds with experience.

Alternatively, we could re-distribute resources so that we all can participate, or create non-currency methods of exchanging goods and services, which is part of Mr. Bishop’s work in Watts.

Feminine Wisdom

The films of the Global Oneness Project indicate that we are at a time of great change. Old systems are unsustainable, and new ways of thinking and being are coming to the surface in every aspect of our culture.

As we stand at the juncture where an old world is falling away, we have the opportunity to apply the deepest powers and principles toward the creation of the new.

And many of the principles represented in these films sing with a wisdom that has traditionally been called “feminine” – such as inclusiveness, awareness of the whole, responding from the heart.

And what could be more appropriate than applying feminine wisdom to the creation of our new society? After all, it has always been women who stand, squat, lie down, and breathe at the mysterious vortex where new life emerges.


The Global Oneness Project uses films and interviews to document how an awareness of interconnection and the responsibilities that come with it are helping create a sustainable and flourishing future. Please visit globalonenessproject.