With his speech today, President Obama has essentially agreed to continue the criminal occupation of Iraq indefinitely. He announced that there will be an occupation force of 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for at least three more years. President Obama used carefully chosen words to avoid a firm commitment to remove the 50,000 occupation troops, even after 2011.The war in Iraq was illegal. It was aggression. It was based on lies and false rationales. President Obama's speech today made Bush’s invasion sound like a liberating act and congratulated the troops for "getting the job done." More than a million Iraqis died and a cruel civil war was set into motion because of the foreign invasion. President Obama did not once criticize the invasion itself.He has also requested an increase in war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, and plans to double the number of U.S. troops sent to fight in Afghanistan.President Obama has asked Congress to provide more than $200 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the next two years, in addition to increasing the Pentagon budget by four percent.Based on President Obama's new budget, the Pentagon would rank as the world's 17th largest economy—if it were a country. This new budget increases war spending. Total spending in 2010 would roughly equate to an average of $21,000 a second.This is not the end of the occupation of Iraq, but rather the continuation of the occupation.There is only one reason that tens of thousands of troops will remain in Iraq: It is because this is a colonial-type occupation of a strategically important and oil-rich country located in the Middle East where two-thirds of the world's oil reserve can be found.Obama's speech was a major disappointment for anyone who was hoping that Obama would renounce the illegal occupation of Iraq. Today, the U.S. government spends $480 million per day to fund the occupation of Iraq. Even if 100,000 troops are drawn out by August 2010, that means the indefinite occupation of Iraq will cost more than $100 million each day. The continued occupation of Iraq for two years or three years or more makes a complete mockery out of the idea that the Iraqi people control their own destiny. It is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty and independence.It is no wonder that John McCain came out to support President Obama's announced plan on Iraq. McCain was a supporter of former President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's war and occupation in Iraq.Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld—the architects of regime change in Iraq—never had the goal of indefinitely keeping 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. They wanted to subdue the Iraqi people and exercise control with a smaller force. The Iraqi armed resistance prolonged the stationing of 150,000 U.S. troops.Bush's goal was domination over Iraq and its oil supplies, and domination over the region. This continues to be the goal of the U.S. political and economic establishment, including that of the new administration.President Obama decided not to challenge the fundamental strategic orientation. That explains why he kept the Bush team—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Generals Petraeus and Odierno—on the job to oversee and manage the Iraq occupation. They will also manage the widening U.S. war in Afghanistan and the aerial assaults on Pakistan. There have been over 30 U.S. bombing attacks in Pakistan in the last two months.We are marching on Saturday, March 21 because the people of this country are fed up with the status quo. They want decent-paying jobs, and affordable health care and housing for all. Students want to study rather than be driven out by soaring tuition rates. The majority of people want a complete—not partial—withdrawal of ALL troops from Iraq. They want the war in Afghanistan to end rather than escalate. They are increasingly opposed to sending $2.6 billion each year to Israel and want an end to the colonial occupation of Palestine.Don't miss the important announcement about theDramatic Action Planned for the March 21st Pentagon March:On March 21, 2009, March on the Pentagonand the Corporate War ProfiteersXGet Involved * Find Transportation to DC * Sign up if you are organizing transportation * Download flyers and posters * Add a link * View list of endorsers * Endorse * Sign up to volunteer * DonateGo to http://www.pentagonmarch.org for more information.
I come here, as an (humorously) "endearing" personality, with characteristics to which I hope you can relate. These characteristics are mine, and I am who I say I am, and yet the Seth you know is but a small part of my reality, the one that has been physical, and can relate to your problems.
There exists what could almost be compared to a psychological and psychic warp in dimensions where Ruburt's personality is an apex point at which communication can take place.
We want to deal with the nature of reality as it exists within your camouflage system and within other systems, and to study the overall characteristics that pertain to it.
We will discuss the interrelationship that exists between all systems of reality, including certain contact points that include them all. These various points can be mathematically deduced, and will, in some future of yours, serve as contact points, taking the place of space travel in some cases.
We will be discussing the laws of the inner universe. They are attempts to explain in words the nature of inner reality. These single-dimensional statements are more than are given to most, and, under the circumstances that we must work, are the best approximation that can be made of the basic fact beneath any existence.
As words would give little hint of the reality of color or sound to someone who did not experience these, so words can only give insight into the nature of reality.
I have been sent to help you, and others have been sent through the centuries of your time, for as you develop you form new dimensions, and you will help others.
Using your free will, you have made physical reality into something quite different than what was intended. You have allowed the ego to become overly developed and specialized. You were here to work out problems and challenges, but you were always to be aware of your own inner reality, and of your nonphysical existence. To a large extent you have lost contact with this. You have focused so strongly upon physical reality that it become the only reality that you know.
When you kill a man, you believe that you kill him forever. Murder is a crime that must then be dealt with. Death, however, does not exist in those terms. In the dawn of physical existence, men knew that death was merely a change of form.
There is never any justification for violence. There is no justification for hatred. There is no justification for murder. Those who indulge in violence for whatever reason are themselves changed, and the purity of their purpose adultered.
If you do not like the state of your world, it is you yourselves that must change, individually and en masse. This is the only way that change will be effected.
The responsibility for your life and your world is indeed yours. It has not been forced upon you by some outside agency. You form your own dreams and you form your own physical reality. The world is what you are. It is the physical materialization of the inner selves which you have formed.
It is wrong to curse a flower and wrong to curse a man. It is wrong not to hold any man in honor, and it is wrong to ridicule any man. Your must honor yourselves and see within yourselves the spirit of eternal validity. You must honor all other individuals, because within each is the spark of this validity. When you curse another, you curse yourselves, and the curse returns to you. When you are violent, the violence returns.
I speak to you because yours is the opportunity to better world conditions and yours is the time. Do not fall into the old ways that will lead you precisely into the world that you fear.
There is no man who hates but that hatred is reflected outward and made physical, and there is no man who loves but that love is reflected outward and made physical.
Beyond myself there is another self and still another, of which I am aware. And that self tells you that there is a reality beyond human reality and experience that cannot be made verbal or translated into human terms. And to that self, physical reality is like a warm breath forming in the winter air...
FUTURE SETH SPEAKS ABOUT THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE COMMUNICATIONS.
The Seth personality is an intermediary. The information already given to you regarding the nature of personality gestalts should make my existence seem a fitting one.
Seth is what I am, yet I am more than Seth is. Seth is independent, and continues to develop as I do. In the Spacious Present we both exist.
Seth, as you know him, will always be an element in these communications. He is the connective between us, and he has been a part of me that I have sent out to you. He has participated willingly.
Names are arbitrary, and we use them merely for your convenience. Seth's name or mine isn't important. Individuality is important and continues in ways you do not suspect.
Seth is learning as I am.
As an analogy, you could call me a future Seth, at a higher stage of development, however both of us are fully independent and exist simultaneously.
These communications, while taking place in your time, are nevertheless responsible in other dimensions for what you would call future developments in your own personalities.
Whether or not I speak as myself or as Seth, he is the intermediary and the connection between us. He will appear to you as you know him because there are necessary emotional elements that are uniquely his own.
My personality is far different than his but I am also a friend. In many ways I am the same friend. Other portions of me are concerned elsewhere, for I am aware of my existence in other dimensions and keep track of them and direct my many selves.
We are Seth and whenever we have spoken we have been known as Seth. We are not alone in this endeavor, for through your centuries other entities like us have also appeared and spoken.
Our entity is composed of multitudinous selves with their own identities, many of whom have worked in this behalf. Their message will always be basically the same, though the times and circumstances of their communications may differ and be colored accordingly.
We adopt whatever personality characteristics seem pertinent, for in our own reality we have a bank of complete inner selves, and we are all Seth. We attempt to translate realities into terms you can comprehend. We change our face and form, but we are always the one. Many of us have not been born in the flesh, as I have not been, but in one way we have seeded ourselves through endless universes. The entity had its beginning before the emergence of your time. It was instrumental, with many other entities, in the early formation of energy into physical form. We gave you mental images and upon these images you learned to form the world that you know. We gave you the patterns, intricate and involved from which you form the reality of each physical thing that you know. We taught man to speak before the tongue knew syllables. The entire webwork was initiated by us.
Our basic knowledge and energy automatically reaches out to nourish all systems that grow.
You are like children with a game, and you think that the game is played by everyone. Physical life is not the rule. Identity and consciousness existed long before your earth was formed. You suppose that any personality must appear in physical terms. Consciousness is the force behind matter, and it forms many other realities besides the physical one. It is, again, your own viewpoint that is presently so limited that it seems to you that physical reality is the rule and mode of existence.
The source and power of your present consciousness has never been physical, and where I am, many are not even aware that such a physical system exists.
The physical system is an illusion, but you must accept it and from your viewpoint try to understand the realities that exist beyond it.
You cannot objectify the inner portions of your own identity, and therefore you do not perceive them. So much of your energy is used in the physical productions that you cannot afford to perceive any reality but your own.
Like children playing with blocks, you focus your attention on the physical blocks. The physical blocks appear very real to you when you dwell within their perspective. Other shapes and forms that you could perceive, you do not. Even in explaining other realities, I must use the words "shapes" and "forms" or you would not understand me.
Your idea of progress is building larger blocks, and yet one day you will put aside your "children's toys."
The human race is a stage through which various forms of consciousness travel... Yours is a training system for emerging consciousness. Before you can be allowed into systems of reality that are more extensive and open, you must first learn to handle energy and see through physical materialization, the concrete result of thought and emotion.
When you leave the physical system after reincarnations, you have learned the lesson and you are literally no longer a member of the human race, for you elect to leave it. Only the conscious self dwells within it in any case, and other portions of your identity dwell simultaneously within other training systems. In more advanced systems, thoughts and emotions are automatically and immediately translated into action, into whatever approximation of matter there exists. Therefore, the lessons must be taught and learned well.
The responsibility for creation must be clearly understood. To some extent you are in a soundproof and isolated room. Hate creates destruction in that "room" and until the lessons are learned, destruction follows destruction... In the terms of other systems, that kind of destruction does not exist - but you believe that it does, and the agonies of dying are sorely felt. It is not that you must be taught not to destroy, for destruction does not actually exist. It is that you must be trained to create responsibly.
The weapons of destruction are the obvious things that you see. The counterparts are not so evident, and yet it is the counterparts that are important: the self-discipline learned, the control, the compassion that is finally aroused, and that final and last lesson - the positive desire for creativity and love over destruction and hatred. When this is learned, the cycle is finished.
The training will serve you for existence in a variety of interrelated systems. If the sorrows and agonies within your system were not felt as real, the lesson would not be learned.
The teachers within your system are those in their last reincarnation, and other personalities who have left the system but have been assigned to help those still within it.
The system also includes some fragment personalities what are entering for the first
time, as well as those in later reincarnations.
Humanity dreams the same dream at once, and you have your mass world. The whole construction is like an educational play in which you are the producers as well as the actors. There is a play within a play within a play. There is no end to the "within" of things. The dreamer dreams, and the dreamer within the dream dreams. But the dreams are not meaningless, and the actions within them are significant. The whole self is the observer and the participator in the roles.
“We want to reclaim place. We want to steward. We want to feed, and we want to access the generosity of photosynthesis directly—with our hands touching the soil,” says Ms. Fleming, the creator of The Greenhorns, which serves as the title of her upcoming documentary film and as an inclusive label for the emergent generation of fierce young American farmers.
Nancy Pelosi sits by the fire as if she lit the match. Stands up and claps at the all too obvious, too much. Poor Biden has to get up with her. The gaffe machine's knee's are weak! The vice emperor has no clothes. I voted for Obama...it's a shame the Republicans want to ruin him in spite of our nation.
Fancy Nancy and her famalia own a tuna fish processing plant. Shhh...nobody knows about it. I have been there and spent more time there than she has. It's located in American Samoa. The locals in AS make about $4.00 an hour. What's worse is that Charlie Tuna drags workers from Samoa which is not a U.S. territory to work there. They are paid $2.50 an hour. When I met with the workers they smelled of fish guts.....it was in there pores and the gums of their mouths. The island of AS cannot be utilized for tourism because all of the fish guts that are thrown away into the harbors attract sharks. Nobody can use the beaches. The corruption is rampant there! The only prosperous business is one McDonalds and the churches of numerous denominations....as in cash. There is a mandatory "tithing" plus donation policy in every community. A funny story on the lone McDonalds is that they had a special called the "Hunger Buster"....consisted of a Big Mac, 1/4 Pounder and large fries and a drink. I think it was $7.50?
I love the Samoan people and their culture. They were gracious to me. I oppose Pelosi and her smarmy smile. She is a slave labor baroness. Look into it.
There is no media outlet to send this to. There is no centrist outlet....it's one or the other, and we're screwed. The country is run by J.P. Morgan, Rothschildes and Rupurt Murdoch. Did you know the Federal Reserve is not a U.S. government entity? It's run by ten member banks that are privately owned, guess who they are? More to follow...........
Liverpool, United Kingdom, February 22, 2009 --(PR.com)-- Whole Science http://www.wholescience.net is the first site in the world to combine consciousness research (topics such as mind-body medicine, mind over matter and extra sensory perception) alongside self development tools and techniques.The site encourages you to ‘Discover the Power of You’ as it offers tips and techniques on how to focus your mind and learn the potential that your consciousness may hold.Offering expert knowledge on subjects such as out-of-body experiences, telepathy and mind-body healing, this site is sure to be a definitive resource for all those who want to learn more about using their mind to improve their lives.Kerry Needs, founder of Whole Science says ‘I first had the idea for Whole Science when I was at Liverpool John Moores University, completing an MSc in Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology. I realised that hundreds of well designed studies all over the world were providing evidence that our mind, or our consciousness, may have more potential than we first realised.‘I created the site for those people who were interested in the power of the mind from a self development perspective- however terms such as ‘positive thinking’, ‘law of attraction’ and ‘mindpower’ just didn’t cut it with me. I wanted to know if there was any research into the science of mental intention. And there was. So I decided to bring that to the public in a way that was easy to understand, accessible, and interesting.’“Because Whole Science draws on objective, credible research it has had a huge impact on my beliefs about what really is possible and my ability to heal myself...Whole Science has also given me the practical tools and advice to make very real changes in my own life” -Phil Davies, UK“Whole Science offers a valuable forum for discussing and investigating aspects of the natural world that are often overlooked or marginalized by mainstream science”- Alan Wallace, Author and scholarFor more information, visit http://www.wholescience.net or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Under this loop of honeysuckle,
A creeping, coloured caterpillar,
I gnaw the fresh green hawthorn spray,
I nibble it leaf by leaf away.
Down beneath grow dandelions,
Rooks flap croaking across the lane.
I eat and swallow and eat again.
Here come raindrops helter-skelter;
I munch and nibble unregarding:
Hawthorn leaves are juicy and firm.
I'll mind my business: I'm a good worm.
When I'm old, tired, melancholy,
I'll build a leaf-green mausoleum
Close by, here on this lovely spray,
And die and dream the ages away.
Some say worms win resurrection,
With white wings beating flitter-flutter,
But wings or a sound sleep, why should I care?
Either way I'll miss my share.
Under this loop of honeysuckle,
A hungry, hairy caterpillar,
I crawl on my high and swinging seat,
And eat, eat, eat—as one ought to eat.
From: http://godisaverb.com/blogSome of the top physicists in the world now think our entire world is simply our projection or external images of our internal experience and what we believe our world to be. In other words, the world we live in is nothing more than our collective lucid dream. Now this is not science fiction… This is leading-edge science! ~James Ray~
Got your attention with the title, didn’t I? LOL
I woke up this morning to hear, on the national news channels, it has now been determined that if women drink even one alcoholic beverage each day, they are putting themselves at risk for several kinds of cancer. Fortunately for me, I stopped drinking alcohol over twenty years ago, huh? But hearing this news made me chuckle, as I watched the stunned faces of the women who were discussing this new report. Wasn’t it just a few short years ago we were told to drink one glass of red wine, every day, to help keep the heart healthy? It seems one year we are being told that something is good for us, and just a few short years later we discover it is just the opposite. What and who exactly can we believe?
The bottom line is that whatever we believe to be true becomes our truth, and sadly, we tend to buy into the beliefs of others far too quickly…especially if we assume them to be some type of “authority” on the subject. How odd it is to discover the only one who is an authority on truth is the self, and more…that truth can only be true for that person!
Last week, when I went to a book study group in San Marcos, I strolled in with my dinner of Mentos and a Coke Zero. As I scanned the room, I noticed I was the only one with any type of “forbidden” fruit. Everyone else was dutifully sipping on bottled water. I pointed out that, in my beliefs, I’ve decided Coke Zero isn’t bad for me, so I choose to drink it. I’m sure that had to shock some people…more than likely a few were thinking how irresponsible and “wrong” my belief is. I understand.
Years ago, I read the Seth books, by Jane Roberts. I remembering laughing and laughing at the irreverence of this amazing woman. The most unlikely person in the world became a conduit for channeling, and she hated every minute of it. I recall, in one of her books, where she was speaking with an elderly man…well into his 90s…about his disgusting habit of smoking. She, too, was a smoker. It was hard to believe that he had lived such a long and healthy life, in spite of his addiction to cigarettes. She asked him how he was able to continue to smoke, without any physical effects, and he explained that he simply believed they caused him no harm. Her guides confirmed that it was his beliefs that enabled him to do what most people couldn’t. Now, I’m not recommending that we go out and consume massive quantities of unhealthy food or addictive substances, because I don’t think this would work for the vast majority of people. Most have bought into collective ideas about what is good and not good, and consuming things that the subconscious mind has learned is bad will only cause harm. That one particular man was an exception to the rule. He had no counter beliefs to sabotage what he had determined was true for him. My point is simply this…our beliefs are creating our worldly experience.
Sometimes, in my most upbeat moments, I imagine a day when we will no longer buy into beliefs that don’t serve us. I envision a world where we design each moment as magically delicious. We all believe we are perfect, beautiful, abundant, happy, prosperous, and healthy. Perhaps that more closely resembles what we call Heaven, and perhaps that is exactly why such a “place” exists. There is a part of us that recognizes we have this ability. Unfortunately, when we came up with this paradise called Heaven, we also attached an amendment that says the only way to get there is to live a good life and then die! Hmmmm…well, at least Christ Jesus didn’t agree. He told us we can have it here and now.
Knowing that we are the designers of our destiny, we always have the option of choosing well. But to do so, we are going to first have to wake up from the dream long enough to realize it is just that…a dream. We have to stop living as though the life around us is outside our control–as if it operates off of another system that we cannot access. Most importantly, we need to understand the illusory nature of it all.
People tend to shy away from the word illusion, because it doesn’t make sense to call solid, physical objects illusions. The problem is in the interpretation of that word. To simplify, we just need to get clear that the experience of all this absolutely does appear to be reality. As has been said, if we step out in front of a moving truck, the physical body is going to be flattened! Why? Because we are operating from two experiences…a dense, heavy vibration and a light, airy one. In our dense version, we agreed on rules that tell us objects are solid. But almost everyone, today, knows that solid objects are not solid, nor are they fixed. Looking into the quantum field, we magnified objects to such a degree, we discovered that what appears to be a solid, fixed table is really vast amounts of empty space with vibrating particles of energy popping in and out of our awareness. The truth is…we are all walking around, sitting on, and standing in empty space for the most part. Not to worry, though. The whole thing–including our bodies–is just a projected image, anyway, so we aren’t going to fall through space. There is an underlying field of dark energy (the something of nothingness) that holds it all in place. Yep…fortunately for us, we have a remarkably intelligent designer who covered all the bases.
Is it possible that the world “out there” is not as fixed as we’ve come to believe? Yes! We are learning more and more about this, each and every day. We are starting to understand that the forms we experience as physical are projections in our minds. It is all just perception. We are observing our environment and translating photons of light/energy into the experience of solid objects. To top it all off, we got lost in our own creation, and we forgot it isn’t really even out there. The entire universe is within the imagination.
As we experience being in this world, we make up rules and truths along the way. The more of us that accept those beliefs, the more “truth” about them is placed into the collective dream. Here and there, some reject the collective ideas, however, and challenges offer opportunities to replace old ideas with new ones. In every moment of every day, we have the option to change what we have believed to be absolute truth. In doing so, we discover the world around us changes.
I strongly reccomend that we all take a good long look at what we’ve accepted as truth. Are the beliefs operating our lives promoting our health, welfare and happiness? If not, we have the option of replacing them with new ones. With EFT, we can remove the background beliefs that hold us back, and then replace them with new perceptions that grant us the lives we always dreamed of having. It absolutely works…and that is one truth I’m holding onto!
So, ladies…what’s it gonna be? Are we going to simply agree with this new “fact” that one glass of alcohol per day is a major risk factor for numerous cancers? Or will we determine that our own truth rejects that idea? The most important thing to keep in mind is that we have the freedom to decide what is true for each of us. We do not have to accept ideas that cause us harm. In the end, I suppose what we are returning to is the debate on whether the universe we live in supports or harms us.
I don’t know about you, but in my world, everything works in my favor! Oh…and that thing about water causing cancer? Not true!
Members of the Allegheny County Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now joined others from branches around the nation in Washington, D.C. Feb. 10 to push for approval of the economic stimulus package and specifically to protest home foreclosures.
Protesters gathered at the private auctions of Alex Cooper and Harvey West to stop the sale of several homes. Though several volunteers from Pittsburgh said they actually helped four families from losing their homes, this might not be true.
“We basically disrupted the sales for an hour,” national campaign director Craig Robbins said. “This is part of our campaign to bring attention to the fact that families are losing their homes.”
The volunteers entered the auctions in Chevy Chase Plaza under the premise of being buyers and began protesting when other volunteers joined them. The auctioneer from the company Harvey West was forced to leave by the man who rented him the room.
“They had paid already for their space, but when we went in there the guy just told them to get out,” volunteer Yvonne Jones said. “He didn’t care what they had paid for. I don’t know if he had gotten reimbursed for it.”
When the auctioneer left ACORN volunteers continued to follow him out to the street where he tried to continue the auction.
“It’s unclear if we actually stopped him from transacting his business,” Robbins said. “I think he was talking to individuals.”
HELPING HANDS— Right front: John May of Pittsburgh protests on the way to a foreclosure auction at Chevy Chase Plaza.
Although it is likely these sales will take place at a later time or have already been completed, Robbins said ACORN’s point was still made. He said ACORN believes the foreclosure crisis will be helped by the economic stimulus plan, “but in the meantime no families should be losing their homes.”
Close to 30 volunteers from Pittsburgh joined with others on Capitol Hill to continue the protest of foreclosures and encourage President Barack Obama to sign the economic stimulus bill. The stimulus package proposes $4.5 billion be given to ACORN.
“There were people from everywhere—Florida, California, Washington,” said volunteer Jacqueline Jones. “It was huge to see all these people coming together for one cause.”
Jones said banks have received aid from the government but they are still conducting foreclosures. She said this money should be used to help people keep their homes.
Starting Feb. 19, the next phase of ACORN’s plan will begin with participants in the ACORN Home Savers campaign refusing to leave homes in foreclosure. Pittsburgh will be in the second wave of the campaign and ACORN will begin “Home Defender” training in the area.
Maybe it's time to show the people just what war looks like?SHOW THE COFFINS OF THE DEAD ON THE MSM CRAP SHOWS DAY IN AND DAY OUT.SHOW THE COST OF THE WAR ON THE SAME SHOWS.TELL US HOW MANY AND THE NAMES OF EVERY IRAQI, AFGHAN, PAKISTANI, AND LORD KNOWS WHO THE FUCK ELSE WE ARE SLAUGHTERING EVERYDAY TOO...STOP LETTING THE IRAQI MEDIA LIE TO THEIR PEOPLE WHEN THEIR PEOPLE KNOW BETTER.CHANGE THE DON'T ASK DON'T TELL LAW! NOW!STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO USE CREDIT - CREDIT ISN'T MONEY. IT'S A TRAP. MONEY ISN'T EVEN MONEY - IT'S PAPER!
"We will find that we will not be able to find and kill the last terrorist, because, well, he is a metaphor. And you can't kill a metaphor, you can only turn it into a cliche." Sherman Alexie
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John Deutch the former CIA chief who made Berger look like a Boy Scout has been appointed by DNI to a post in the Obama administration.
Deutch mishandled classified documents, as this clown actually put Top Secret documents on his home computer. Clinton pardoned Deutch in his flurry of hundreds of last minute pardons.
They have to be kidding, a guy who is in charge of the CIA is fiddling around with Top Secret documents on his home computer, gets his hand slapped and several years later they are asking his advice on sensitive national security matters.
Why don't they just offshore the whole think to North Korea?
Natty Seidenverg is a writer and an activist from the high desert region of Cascadia. She's been giving radical love workshops for about three years and was kind enough share her thoughts with me, via e-mail. Here's the result:
Mickey Z.: What do you mean by the term "radical love"? Does it automatically imply polyamory? Does it automatically exclude monogamy?
Natty Seidenverg: Radical love does not have a concrete definition, and that is purposeful. I came to my understandings of radical love and radical environmentalism at the same time, so for me, radical love is literally against concrete. Rather than offering a single, universal definition for “radical love,” I think we need to pay more attention to the heterogeneity of love in varying circumstances, and we need to become attuned to the fact that just as most living things change across time and from one bioregion and one person to another, so do ideas about love. Love is not manufactured, and it defies stasis or universality. That said, radical love as a term does have some broad and important currents. Unlike monogamy or polyamory, radical love is about quality, not quantity. For me, radical love simply means applying my politics to my way of loving.
MZ: I'll assume you're talking about something deeper and more venerable than a 1960s "love the one you're with" philosophy- something more rooted in social activism. Can you offer a little historical context for radical love?
NS: The stereotype about the 1960's free love movement has to do with the patriarchal appropriation of freedom and sexuality—the idea that the only place for a woman in a movement is prone, or that women are not "radical" enough if they do not succumb to the desires of their male comrades. But the 1960's/1970's free love movement was rooted in an earlier free love movement of the late 1800's. The first wave was basically an overlap of the anarchist movement (which was male dominated) and the women's rights movement (which was mostly statist). At that intersection, free love as a philosophy was born. At the heart of free love at that time was not only women's right to say yes to sex outside of the traditional strictures, but also their ability to say no. Marital rape was not condemned back then. The early free love movement was about the right of everyone to say yes to love and sex, as well as to say no. That is the fundamental difference between the 1960's stereotypes and the root of the free love movement. My understanding of radical love is informed much more by the earlier movement.
MZ: Wow...this sounds like yet another example of our (sic) history books failing us miserably. All right, with a flexible definition and some historical background as foundation, let's bring radical love into present day perspective. As you well know, human society and culture are dominated by hierarchies, profit margins, and a dangerous disconnect between humans and their natural habitat. How does one love ethically in such a corrupted environment?
NS: Well, first of all I want to say that we live in a dominator culture that is globalizing and everyday making the existence of healthy, land based communities more impossible. In this particular culture, imbalance and exploitation are so common that many people fail to perceive them. We have imbalances in power between people—or what bell hooks calls a “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” We have devastating imbalances between humans and the more-than-human world. How can we expect to have healthy relationships when our most basic relationship of survival—our relationship to the natural world— is based on exploitation and alienation? And finally, we have imbalances in human values. In a capitalist society, greed, control, and ownership are privileged values and even necessary to survival. Rather than the values of generosity, community, communication, and consensus, it is the former values that gain “freedom” in this society. So how do we love and live in a balanced, ethical way when we are surrounded by this world of imbalance? I would say the first step is to name the disconnections, exploitations, and power imbalances, as I have briefly done here. Secondly, we need to consider how each of these imbalances are “normalized” through the institution of compulsory monogamy. And finally, radical or ethical love relationships requires challenging ourselves at each level of imbalance—between humans, humans and the natural world, and human values. Only when we begin to think of our relationships as deeply entwined with these other processes will we begin to live in full, healthy, empowering, free, and abundant communion with others.
MZ: I can just imagine the extreme reactions you get to the phrase "institution of compulsory monogamy." Like any deep-seated institution (e.g. meat-based diet, religions, capitalism, etc.) monogamy sometimes seems as "natural" as breathing. Obviously, you're not condemning any two humans who willingly choose a one-on-one relationship so talk to me a little about the institution of monogamy (with a capital M, as you often say).
NS: Institutions are “mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals.” As an institution, monogamy is enforced via state, church, and social coercion. Monogamy, similar to heterosexuality, intra-racial dating, and conforming to gender binaries, is compulsory. Most people don’t know they have other options. Monogamy is reinforced at every level of society, whether through jokes at the family dinner table, sneers at the strange neighbors, legal mandates enforced by state and federal governance, codes of conduct in employment contracts, or morals preached at the local church. Monogamy is culturally and institutionally enforced as the only, the natural, and the moral way to live. I like to talk about “Monogamy with a capital M” to differentiate this pattern of social coercion from the individual act of two people choosing to be in a loving relationship without other sexual partners. Such a choice is no less beautiful than any other loving formation. Once a person starts thinking outside the Monogamy “box,” a one-on-one relationship becomes freer, and one begins to see all her partner’s relationships as valuable, nuanced, and meaningful. It feels very powerful to understand oneself as a single thread in the web of a lover’s relationships, and to want to support that web rather than wanting to dominate it.
MZ: What seems most interesting and perhaps daunting in a way is how radical love (or polyamory) differs from other non-traditional choices. If someone swears off the animal-based diet and becomes vegan, it's clear: you will not see them eating a Big Mac. If another person renounces, say, Catholicism and becomes an atheist, well, you're not gonna run into them receiving Communion at Sunday Mass. Defining radical love, on the other hand, appears to be more like trying to define "art." You know, the whole eye of the beholder deal. How would you counsel someone seeking to break free of compulsory Monogamy and instead embark on a personal journey of ethical loving?
NS: You are absolutely right. Radical love is a different way of thinking about the world that defies easy categories. It involves being perceptive, nuanced, and communicative to no end. It involves having the self-awareness to know when we might be making assumptions or following pre-conceived narratives. It involves creativity, clarity, care, consent, and confidence. It involves having a sense of security in ones' self, so much so that the integrity of a lover is more important than the stability of any particular form the relationship might take. Most of all, it involves a very wonderful word, "compersion," which poly writers describe as the opposite of jealousy. It is the feeling of being happy, even elated, for your lover when s/he embraces other relationships, sexual and nonsexual alike. It takes a strong heart to love deeply and freely at the same time. That strength does not come overnight, but it is a small form of liberation which informs and shapes a foundation for all our political and social struggles.
by Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith Sunday 22 February 2009
A protester threatens a riot policeman with a water pistol during a demonstration in front of the police headquarters of Athens, December 15th 2008. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP
When a 15-year-old schoolboy was shot in Athens in December, it triggered the worst civil unrest in Europe since 1968. Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith join the frontline activists to talk anarchic protest, political upheaval and police brutalityA heavy chain binds the iron gates of the philosophy faculty of the university of Athens, the city where the notions of philosophy and of university were invented in the shadow of the Acropolis. But this does not mean that the building is empty, or that there is not effervescent discourse in progress; quite the reverse, the place is teeming with people and ideas. It has been - as have thousands of colleges, schools, city halls, offices and every other kind of building across Greece - occupied. Put under occupation by, in this case, the students. So that the walls, inside and out, like every wall in Athens, are lined with the slogans of the insurrection which propelled the most tumultuous and prolonged riots in a European city since 1968, after the killing by police of a 15-year-old, Alexis Grigoropoulos, as he chatted with friends on a street corner on 6 December 2008.Many of the axioms are reminiscent of 1968, blending humour and mischief: "Merry Crisis and a happy New Fear" and "Kill the cop inside you". Others are merely enraged: "Fascist state, you are deaf - the gallows await you!" Others are relevant to the moment: "Billions for the banks, bullets for the children." And one dismisses that era of revolt by their parents: "May '68 is dead. Fight Now!"Inside what is properly known as the Faculty of Philosophy, Psychology, Pedagogy, Music and Mathematics, students discuss the origins of the uprising, and its causes. They talk first about the "precarity" of their lives, and the fact that in Greece a quarter of those aged between 17 and 25 are unemployed. One student, Alexis, explains how for two years they have been occupying campuses all over Greece in protest against the government giving formal university status to private colleges (many of which have franchising agreements with British universities). Another student, Chariklia, says, "Half of all women who leave high school are out of work. What is the future for them and what does that say to the school kids who came on to the streets with us?" They talk about short-term contracts, "outsourcing", work without security or representation, of the impossibility of finding a good job unless connected in a client system of patronage and who-you-know. Then the conversation becomes more general. "Society has the face of freedom and choice," says Angeliki. "But that is all it is, a facade. This bad job or that bad job, this rubbish on television or that rubbish on television, this product or that product. We are rebelling against that false choice." Time after time, students and activists pleaded with us not to make cliched references to Ancient Greece, but then a girl named Yianna said: "Don't forget that in Greek myth, chaos was not disorder, it was a vacant space awaiting occupation. Chaos was the space into which the silver egg was laid which hatched Eros." We laughed, because now that cliched reference is unavoidable, and a hint of the complexity and intelligence behind the chaos of December's uprising, and the aftermath it has unleashed, is out in the open.Much has been written about the ferocity of the attacks on shops, the destruction of property and its cost to the Greek economy and image (Athens has been less affected by criminal violence than any other capital in Europe). And more will be written in retrospect as it becomes clear that the uprising is not against anything that is uniquely Greek, but against postmodern society and a system of globalised capitalism. There were riots in support of the Greeks outside the country's embassies as far away as Brazil, and as rioting now spreads to Bulgaria, Latvia, Iceland and Russia, the Greek uprising has been called "the first credit-crunch riot". They are certainly the first riots against the "cult of greed" about which we hear so much these days. But, it emerges, they are also about much more than that.In Greece, the insurgents have been given a collective name, the koukouloforoi - the hooded ones, because they hide their faces with balaclavas, gas masks, crash helmets and Palestinian keffiyehs to conceal their identity, but also as protection against the regular soakings with tear gas. But what if the violence of the koukouloforoi is not "mindless", as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis put it, but mindful? What if their contempt for society, politicians and consumerism has a lexicon that is not just revolutionary dogma? And, as the authorities in Bulgaria, Iceland and Latvia failed to ask before the riots came their way, and Britain has so far failed to ask: what if it happens here?Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot dead at the corner of Messolongiou and Tzavela streets, but the signs above the shrine to the dead boy now call both thoroughfares Alexis Grigoropoulos Street. Football scarves, candles and flowers are laid at the spot, at which people linger in silence. There are thousands of messages and tributes. To quote a few of them is to articulate the mood: "Let beauty bloom from your blood"; "You hold your head up just enough to see the sky"; "And we go on, but we won't go slow, we'll put up such a fight. Keep your head high, kiss your fist, and touch the sky. It is not too late."The corner is in an alleyway of a quarter of Athens called Exarchia, described by visiting reporters as a "ghetto" of "self-styled anarchists". As a neighbourhood, Exarchia is more complicated than that. It resembles the Lower East Side of Manhattan: a vortex of alternative culture, lifestyle and politics, but with more political edge, peppered by fancy bars and bistros, so that elegant, non-rioting couples might venture out for a daring date by crossing the triangular square - in which youths huddle around fires and where riot police patrol their quarry - in search of some nice gastro bar.At the western edge of Exarchia is the polytechnic, where thousands flocked after Grigoropoulos was killed. Only fine art and architecture are taught on this campus now, students lurk in the shadows of recent history beneath graffiti reading "Kill the cops". It's a place that only weeks ago was an urban battlefield of burning cars and torched property. The smell of charred masonry still lingers in the air. In the district's heart is the square around which the little streets are lined with bars, cafes and squats. Streets like Themistokleous, which climbs past sexy lingerie boutiques, cellar tavernas, a shop named Dark Cell Records and a bustling Saturday-morning fruit market to a place called Nosotros, from the balcony of which flies a red and black flag. It is the meeting place for some of those whose creed formed an iconic expression, if not a kernel, of the December uprising - anarchism.Nosotros is a place of meetings, film screenings, endless political discourse and quite a few beers, where migrant workers can get free evening classes in the Greek language. It is here that Niko, a youth who works in a bookshop, draws the starting line for several nights of conversation: "When they killed Alexis, everyone felt it could have been any of us, so we made it all of us. The riots, then the uprising, went from there."One slogan still painted across the shops ravaged in central Athens during December says simply: "Buy until you die" - it is accompanied by the circled A of the anarchists. Niko has no problem discussing his reasons for smashing shop windows: "It was almost funny to see the faces of the people whose 'right to shop' we had deprived them of, like we had insulted their religion - which we had, I suppose.""Besides," volunteers another man, joining the conversation, "smashing things up is not what matters. Above all, this revolt was an assertion of dignity and a statement of presence. Of all the slogans, our most important was, 'We are here.'"The second man, a carpenter, turns out to be a historic figure in the Greek anarchist movement. He comes from the town of Agrinio, which has a tradition of anarchism. Nikos Ioannou argues that while previous rebellions had been against a military junta (from 1967-1974), "There are similarities between then and now. The means of control have changed, and people enjoy a perception of freedom, but we would argue that the colonels were less powerful than a shopping mall, and in this way, Greece has turned another page in its history with this insurrection. Greece is a society in which individual rights were never established. This uprising has given people who were never part of our movement a new understanding of what it means to be who they are."The conversation continues deep into the night. We discuss the different traditions of and differences within anarchism, and a man called Tassos, branding himself an anarcho-syndicalist, describes his attempts to spread the energy of the uprising into his construction workers' union. We also discuss the United Kingdom and why, according to Valia, a photographer, "You are not able to create the kind of uprising in your country that we have created here because the methods of control in your country are far more sophisticated and accomplished. And your people are more subservient."When we suggest to Ioannou that the anarchists lit the touchpaper in December, he replies: "Maybe, but the main ingredient was the school kids. Greek youth saw themselves in the face of this boy, and that is why school kids were the flour in the dough of the insurrection." Not only that, but the school children, of whom Alexis Grigoropoulos was one, tend to be those most eager to give the insurgency political shape, although they had no previous political experience. One of those involved is Stefanos, aged 15, who has joined a demonstration to try and secure the release of those arrested during December. He notes the fact that they are to be charged under anti-terrorist legislation and says that: "Smashing things up may be a way to relax, but it isn't going to change the future. I never expected to be involved in anything like that, and if they hadn't shot a boy my age I probably wouldn't be. But now that I have been I want it to make a difference, not to end there."The demonstration is attacked by the police, leaving our group trapped between a baton charge and a wall of tear gas, nasty stuff imported from Israel after Greek supplies ran out in December. That night, militants from the Black Block - a wing of the anarchist movement which counts large numbers of teenagers in its ranks - is arraigned outside an immigrant advice centre that they have occupied in order to defend migrants in their own way. The Black Block is to be found, usually masked, at the core of violent international demonstrations against G8 summits in Genoa and Prague. It does not usually talk to the media and in Athens tends not to hang around for a chat in Nosotros either.The group is facing down columns of riot police who broke up their demo earlier that day and seem to be of a mind to seize back the migrant centre. It doesn't happen, this street battle is no pushover for the police."When we last met up with those ones wearing blue," says one of them, "down in Pireus, we had their shields and helmets flying all over the place." The police have hardened their tactics of late, but they know that one more stray bullet, one more dead teenager, and Greece will have an all-out insurrection on its hands, with the Black Block - whose numbers in Greece far exceed those anywhere else except perhaps Italy - willing to fight it.The speaker at the demonstration, a young woman we shall call M, who joins me across the road, knows England well and makes a salient point about Greece by reference to the UK. "We are at one extreme edge of Europe, but not really part of Europe, and you are at the opposite edge, but also not part of Europe. Here, an uprising, there... nothing. Though the violence is the same in your country, in fact it's much worse. But you commit it against each other; knife crime, drunken fights and gangs. Here, we challenge the state and the banks, not each other. This is to do with consumption," she continues. "In 1975, Greece was promised the benefits of capitalism, but never really got to sample them like you did. We never had the delusion of wealth for the masses, of mass consumerism, which is now causing your crisis, but which neutralises you in a way. Your violence is about consumption: alcohol, drugs, television and clubbing. But we're not drunk or stoned, and we have just been tear-gassed on a demonstration, not in a nightclub. This is not a gang fight, it is a fight against the state."What we have had in Greece is a civil war that never goes away. I am young, from a left-wing family, and some of us who come from left families, educated but constantly persecuted, have grown up with political warfare, the police in our homes, the struggle in our lives. My family has suffered a political murder in every generation since the Nazi occupation."There is long, bitter and deep history behind this Greek uprising. Like other countries under Nazi occupation, a heroic resistance was fought in Greece, largely organised by communists. But in war's wake, Greece became a pawn in the nascent Cold War. The resistance, which had fought alongside the British against Hitler, found themselves persecuted by a British-backed government. Britain, and later America, then took the side of the Royalists and the far right which had collaborated with the Nazis in a bloody civil war which defeated the left in 1949. A precarious attempt at a reform of authoritarian rule began with the election of George Papandreou's centrist party in 1965, but was crushed by the "colonels' coup" of 1967 - steered by the CIA.In that history, one moment resounds loudly in the events of last December, a call to the streets as a legacy in itself: the student occupation of Athens's polytechnic in November 1973, and its subsequent, brutal repression by the junta. The number killed when the colonels ordered tanks into the polytechnic campus, crashing through its gates, has never been ascertained, but no one disputes the fact that the highest casualties were among the 150,000 non-student civilians who had converged on the streets outside the occupied building in support of the occupation. The junta's victory was brief, however, and the polytechnic occupation - which was itself the culmination of six years' democratic opposition to the regime - was seen as the catalyst of its eventual downfall.One of the most famous images of the days leading up to the 1973 occupation was the face, beaten to pulp, of Makis Balaouras. He is nowadays either to be found in the dusty offices of the weekly paper Epochi, with pictures of the Beatles and Che Guevara on walls otherwise lined with box files, or marching on the streets with his 19-year-old daughter, including one demonstration on which we were separated from him after a phalanx of riot police drenched all of us with tear gas.His history with the police has left its mark. Balaouras looks wearier than his 56 years and talks - with a striking mix of gravity and good nature - about a "passing of the relay baton" between the uprising of 1973 and last December's riots, "from one generation to another. The legacy of dissatisfaction is passed on in Greece by special circumstances. The crucial moment was after the war, when in other countries those who had fought the Nazis were hailed as heroes, while here the generation that liberated Greece was executed, exiled and imprisoned, and those who had collaborated with the Nazis were rewarded. This experience plays a role in what we see happening now."When it came to 1973," he continues, "we wanted to get everyone, more than the students, involved. For that, I was arrested many times, beaten, tortured and, after the occupation, jailed in solitary confinement for three months. A friend of mine called Moustakis was tortured so badly they had turned him into a vegetable by the time he died."Balaouras pauses and then adds: "And all the while, your hippies were coming to the beaches as if Greece was a playground [that would be people like Leonard Cohen and the character played by Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!], even though one of our demands was that they stay away! But these have been grandiose battles that we have fought here, the struggle in Greece has a magnitude to it, a tradition of resistance spawned of that magnitude, which we see resurrected today."But not all veterans of 1973 are sympathetic to the December uprising. One leading member of the polytechnic occupation was Dimitris Hadzisokratis, who now leads a left-wing parliamentary group wary of the current insurgency, as are the powerful Communist Party, whose views his alliance shares. He meets us in his office in parliament, to contrast then with now. "What happened last December was an explosion, not a revolt," says Hadzisokratis, "which means something else. The situations are entirely different, we were rebelling against a dictatorship, they are rebelling against a democracy. We had a set of demands and goals. Yes, there were ultra-leftists and anarchists involved, but they were doing something else, and that's all I see in this explosion. Who are they fighting, exactly? It is amorphous, it has no aim and, as such, it will reach an impasse and will be judged as pointless."Those steering the current uprising, many of whom are decisively not anarchists, take offended issue with Hadzisokratis's notion that the December uprising was without demands. Panos Garganas, who edits Workers' Solidarity, the paper of the radical leftwing Socialist Workers Party (SEK), retorts: "There were clear demands. Disarming the police and calls for the government to resign were very prominent." Garganas founded the party while an exile from the junta in London, and is now a lecturer in civil engineering at the polytechnic itself."This was not," he says, "something that came out of nowhere. Greek history was volatile and unstable from the 1930s until the 1970s, and now the experience of the 30 years since the events of 1973 has been building towards a head. Athens is one of the few places where Bill Clinton faced hostile demonstrations. The worldwide outrage against the war in Iraq in 2003 never abated in Greece, the demonstrations went on and on. Over the past two years, the student movement has staged continuous occupations against government plans to put private colleges on a par with the state universities, against a constitutional provision. Most parliamentarians favoured this privatisation, but the students defeated the measure with their own actions. And this confidence is emboldened by the government being caught in a string of scandals - corruption so brazen it's like they're eating boxes of chocolates without even bothering to take off the wrapping paper. "Like any party of the far left, Garganas's SEK operates, as one of its members in the university's economics faculty, Manolis Spathis, puts it: "As a small cogwheel trying to get bigger cogwheels moving.""Our task now," says Garganas, "is to move this new-found confidence into areas which characterise the latest phase of capitalism - issues such as the defence of migrant workers and rights in the workplace."This involves offering support to a range of extraordinary and often unexpected and continuing offsprings of the December uprising - wave upon wave of sit-ins and occupations of city halls, vacant spaces, offices and factories.Most unexpected of all was the occupation of a call centre operated by the Altec telecoms group by employees threatened with redundancy without compensation. Altec was part of the recent break-up into the private sector of Greece's formerly state-run telecommunications system."There was a complete lack of political culture in the place," says Giorgos Sotiropoulos, who worked as part of the technical support team. "A call centre is as alienated as you can get. It's insidious. You're pitched against your co-worker by the fact that the supervisor is counting how many sales you make in how many calls and minutes. So it really mattered that it was a call centre we occupied, because the kind of enemy this insurrection in Greece is fighting is typified by this work. The enemy is amorphous, it is virtual, and that makes fighting it far more challenging than fighting a junta of colonels. Our enemy is a society which offers procedural freedom, and perceived freedom, but no physical, substantive freedom. But this situation is not irreversible, and we demonstrate this by finding a way of being free through uprising."It was a huge decision," continues Sotiropoulos, "and an incredible experience for most people, ladies with children, people who had never thought they would get involved in such a thing. A whole new vocabulary, a whole new feeling of collaboration that none of us had ever known. We just stayed there for five days, hung banners from the windows, and at night women would come and bring us food and pastries. In this movement, you testify by your actions. It is an eruption of the real thing against virtuality."After tortuous negotiations, the occupiers finally won an agreement for redundancy payments and jobs for some people who wanted to stay on. "Without the uprising, this would never have happened," says Sotiropoulos. "It was in the air and got people thinking in a totally different way."Sotiropoulos and his friends gather for another demonstration on a cold Wednesday night, the uprising again moving into quarters beyond the polytechnic walls, this time in outrage against an attack on a cleaning lady called Konstantina Kuneva, and thereby against two features of society: outsourcing and the subsequent abuse of migrant labour. Kuneva, who is from Bulgaria, works for a company called Oikomet, which won an outsourced contract to clean the Athens metro. Kuneva was also an organiser of the Household and Domestic Cleaners Union and began campaigning for union recognition at Oikomet, better conditions and pay on a par with what it was before privatisation. On 23 December, she was abducted and forced to drink sulphuric acid. She has gone on to become the unexpected emblem of the Greek uprising, several thousand taking to the streets for the march, attacked and split into two groups by riot police, the rear half drenched in tear gas, and the inevitable riot duly beginning.One feature of these occasions is the destruction of CCTV cameras, which are not simply put out of action by the balaclava-clad activist climbing the pole like a lumberjack up a tree but, as icons of the enemy, trashed in the spirit of some Aztec sacrifice. The youth hammering away until he (or she) prizes out its white "heart" to hold aloft to the applauding crowd. Another fusillade of face-flaying, lung-wrenching tear gas follows, restaurant windows are smashed. Finally, Sotiropoulos turns to us and says: "What's the point of this? Time to find the subway, clear our lungs and get a beer."Another cloud of thick smoke clears, this time caused by the fans' flares and smoke bombs at the Olympic football stadium as AEK Athens take to the field. You can see the flag behind the goal - that of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Unlikely in a British ground, it has been hoisted there by one of a group of AEK fans called Original 21, after the gate number of their section at the team's old stadium, who are overtly and militantly political.Around Alexis Grigoropoulos's "shrine" in Exarchia, the letters AEK are painted everywhere, with a circle round the A. Yards from the site of the shooting is the Original 21 fan clubhouse - the slogan "Fuck Modern Football" and a skull wearing AEK colours painted on the hoardings. Utterly strange to the world of English football, these AEK fans are part of an international alliance with "twin" crews supporting Livorno in Italy, Marseille in France and St Pauli Hamburg in Germany, with whom they rally to help fight fans of teams with a fascist identity and for anti-globalisation demonstrations in loose co-ordination with the Black Block. Around the Grigoropoulos shrine are also slogans painted by the Livorno Autonomous Brigades who, with the Original 21crew, were to the fore in December's uprising and street fighting with the police, at which they are markedly adept.At the match, they are easy to spot, with their Palestinian keffiyehs and heavy-metal Exarchia T-shirts. A lad called Vassilis explains how at both football and during riots, "youth confronts the frontline weapon of the state, its foot soldiers in the police. But we want to fight the system itself, not just its soldiers, that's why we do the political stuff." Another fan, Dinos, explains that the ethos is that of "being 'ultra' in all areas of our life, supporting the team with the same passion as we attack authority and the system that did what was done to Konstantina Kuneva".You were on those demonstrations too, for the cleaning lady?"Yes, of course, and with our comrades from Livorno at Genoa against the G8 when they killed another young boy. We spent all last December on the streets. After they killed Alexis, the police didn't dare enter the stadium, so we attacked them outside."Into this melee comes another element, a group calling itself Revolutionary Struggle, which last week assaulted a police station with automatic weapons, shot and injured a police officer in Exarchia on 5 January and ambushed a riot police bus with machine guns 10 days later. The group is a descendant of the now disbanded November 17th movement, named after the day the polytechnic was stormed by the junta, akin to the Italian Red Brigades or German Baader-Meinhof group, which issues long theoretical attacks on the anarchists and other left groups for not conjoining its armed struggle, and which is bitterly counter-attacked by the anarchists as "elitist" in return. This week, the new Sect of Revolutionaries emerged, attacked a police station with grenades and left a maiden proclamation in the form of a computer disc on Grigoropoulos's grave, listing journalists, media celebrities, leading capitalists and state functionaries among its targetsFar from this fray, Professor Constantinos Tsoukalas, the elder statesman of Greek political philosophy, watches all this from his lofty apartment, lined with venerable books, which he especially likes for "its asymmetry" and view of the Acropolis. He see "the uprising as a symptom of the end of political hope and the beginning of something else. One of the nefarious consequences of the end of the Cold War and the emptiness of the global market that was supposed to put an end to ideology but, in crisis, has instead created this moment of great ideological tension."I mean look at the spectacle of these politicians: this Greek government and every other government - though perhaps Obama is an exception - lurching from day to day without a clue what to do apart from babble. Not only does the Greek government have no plan, it does not even pretend to have a plan. What they are demonstrating - Karamanlis, Berlusconi, Blair, Brown, Sarkozy - is that there is no longer any reason to go into politics apart from power in and of itself, the money that power brings and the further money that having been in power brings. They degenerate the game with greater and greater visibility, and the more they degenerate it, the more degenerate the people who go into politics. Which leads to moral indignation, despair and anger."That in turn, continues Tsoukalas, becomes either "various forms of depression, as in your country, or to a statement of presence - a loud NO! as happened here, and a maelstrom".A maelstrom which has been spreading across Europe ever since a banner bearing the command Rebel!, translated into several languages, was hung from the ramparts of the Acropolis itself.
Godwin was a English political philosopher who, while in the ministry
for which he was trained, had cast off his Toryism and Calvinism and
achieved a place of first importance as the interpreter to England of
the French Encyclopedists. His ideal society is intensely equalitarian
and a complete anarchy, although he tolerated the idea of a loosely
knit democratic transition that would witness the withering of the
State. Strongly antiviolence and completely rationalistic he carried
his doctrine to the point of total alteration in human relations.
Ignoring economics and starting from a highly individualistic
psychology, he argued for education and social conditioning as the
chief factors in character formation. His chief work, Enquiry
Concerning Political Justice, develops the thought of the
prerevolutionary school, is strongly influenced by Helvetius, and is
an argument for the perfectibility of the human species by way of a
refutation of contradictory theories and examination of such
conditions as will perfect the human community. In the philosophical
debate owr whether man is governed by self-love, Godwin argued that
man capable of a genuinely disinterested benevolence. The turning
point in his career was the French Revolution, which spurred him to
write his major work, Political Justice, completed in 1793. Though
many were disillusioned after the early years of the Revolution,
Godwin's liberalism remained intact. The publication of this work
gained him a far-reaching contemporary fame.
It was in 1796 that he renewed an acquaintance with Mary
Wollstonecraft. They took up residence together and, with the
approaching birth of their child and despite his attacks upon the
institution of marriage, were married in 1797. Their brief marriage,
ended by the death of his wife, was described as his happiest period.
Although Godwin wrote indefatigably, only Politfcal Justice is still a
work of enduring fame. His Caleb Williams, a novel with a social
purpose, is another of his works retaining some contemporary interest.
(Irving Horowitz, The Anarchists, 1964, Dell Publishing)
Note: first writer to put foreward anarchist ideas.
We do not believe that such elections can with any degree of permanence prevent wars, or deal effectively with racism, sexism or environmental degradation.
... the capitalist system is in a serious crisis which is dragging down all working class and oppressed people and which even the best-intentioned high office-holder is incapable of solving.
The concept that people should come together and make decisions is the backbone of our ideology. However, we do not view the U.S. system of democracy as being representative of those ideals. The Republicans and Democrats exist as two rival factions battling over our consent to be ruled. Both promote rhetoric of common interest with ordinary people, but we feel this is an illusion. The politicians in this nation exist to provide a stable platform for the rule and exploitation of the majority of working people in America by the minority of capitalists; that is, the owners of the property on which we produce the wealth.
The abolition of slavery, 8-hour day, the right to form unions, overtime pay, child labor laws, the end to legal segregation, the right of women to vote and to choose, and the right of gay and transgender people to be themselves was won not at the ballot box, but by people organizing, striking, boycotting and taking to the streets. The liberals in elective office passed the laws in response to the movements and to head off what could become a revolutionary upsurge.
Very sad today....as we pulled out of the driveway to go to breakfast, the snow had melted on the side of the driveway and there was Pretty Girl...the big pretty Maine Coone who I brought home last year from the feral colony I feed...She had been missing for some days now and we assumed she took off because other cats kept chasing her around...or that maybe a mt. lion or dog got to her...This is only the second time I've seen one of my cats body's after they die..last time was Emo in 2001....Not sure what happened to her...ate something bad? Or maybe she was sick already? P. hasn't moved her body yet but will check her out and see if he can tell....No wounds are showing and I think lions drag the animals they catch into the bushes and away...Maybe she had worms or feline leukemia or something...I just don't know and may not ever know and my heart hurts today...It's very hard on me when this happens, even as I know it's just the way it is....
Update after burying Pretty Girl: From the looks of her hind quarter and the amount of feces on her, I would imagine she had something very wrong inside of intestines and since she wanted to live outdoors, we would ever know that. She never used the litter box, always went outside. I'm so sad that I was not able to see there was something wrong with her before she died. I hope it was a fast death...It makes me cry too hard to think of her suffering alone in the snow...She is buried now on the side of the hill next to the house...
When a freshman at Penn State too many years ago to count, the intro psychology prof did an amazing demonstration. I wonder if anyone knows the answer to this which I have long forgotten.
He said he had written the numbers 1 through 5 in random order on a piece of paper. He then asked the very large class to read his mind and write down his number order.
When the class compiled the answers, more than 50% of the class had his order, and so proved that telepathy was possible!!!
The class was ecstatic, until he then told us that humans more often than not arrange those numbers in that particular sequence that he had.
Does anyone know what that sequence order is?
I have puzzled over this for years since.
I thought we might do Bobbysoxer a favor by uncovering the number sequence, if indeed it exists. I was skeptical: half the class? A sequence of five items, in random order? Since there are 120 possible unique sequences of the numbers 1 through 5, a random distribution of responses would mean fewer than one percent of answers would be in any given order. Chances that HALF the responses would be the same seem remote.
That's not to say that responses will be truly randomly distributed. But I doubted that any single combination of digits would even approach 50 percent.
Our survey asked respondents to randomly arrange the digits 1 through 5 -- and also 1 through 4, and 1 through 3. Perhaps with a smaller range of choices we'd get something approaching Bobbysoxer's memory of the event.
First let's take a look at the distribution of responses for the digits 1 through 5. How "random" were our answers?
The most popular response was "12345", selected by 5.3 percent of our 1,409 respondents. Yes, technically, sometimes a "random" arrangement of those digits would come out in that order, but I suspect this reflects the percentage of our readers who are cheeky and want to make a point about "randomness," not the amazing mystery number Bobbysoxer remembers from college. Second most popular was "54321" with 3 percent of the responses. The next three sequences were tied: "34251", "53421", and "52314", each with 1.8 percent of the total response. That's hardly the 50 percent response that would have been so impressive to a class of intro psych students.
I suspect either the professor did something else to lead the students to respond in the way they did, or Bobbysoxer's memory isn't entirely accurate. What's clear from our study is that there's no "particular sequence" that most people arrange a sequence of five digits in.
That said, there were still some interesting patterns in the data. Take a look at this:
This shows the percent of people choosing each possible first digit in the sequence. They were significantly more likely to choose 3 or 5 than the other digits.
What about four-digit sequences? Were there any trends there? Once again, nothing as dramatic as what Bobbysoxer recalled. The most common response was "4231", with 6.7 percent of responses. This isn't anywhere near 50 percent, and only 2.5 percent above the expected 4.2 percent in a random sample. Was there a pattern with first digits?
This time, 1 was the least common first digit, with just 18.9 percent of an expected 25 percent responses. Interestingly, if you subtract out the 6 percent of respondents who answered "1234", answers starting with 1 sink to a very low 12.9 percent of the total -- about half of what would be expected due to chance.
What about 3-digit sequences? Here we see a bit more of a pattern to the answers.
With just six possible combinations, "231" garnered 22.6 percent of responses, and answers starting with 2 accounted for 43 percent of answers. But still, even with only three digits to arrange, no one answer accounts for anything near the 50 percent Bobbysoxer recalls.
But as with four-digit numbers, there seems to be a definite reluctance to start with the number 1.
So is it possible that Bobbysoxer's teacher somehow led his students to pick a particular sequence? It might be, although I'm having a hard time coming up with exactly how it might have been done. Perhaps the class had to fill out a form with a course number or some other numeric item before responding to the "mind-reading" challenge.
I didn't try to lead the respondents in a particular direction with this study, but another part of our study may have revealed just how suggestible people can be. We also asked respondents to "pick a random word and type it below."
Out of 1,409 responses, you wouldn't expect many repeats, given the fact that there are over 70,000 words in frequent use in the English language (math/stats whizzes: can you compute the expected number of repeats?). Yet there were in fact 409 repeats, including several words that were produced ten or more times. The most common word was "random," repeated 40 times (and of course, that word appeared immediately above the answer box). Next most popular was "pickle", with 20 repetitions ("pick" was also in the instructions for the question). Other common choices were "banana" and "monkey" (we use Survey Monkey to host our surveys). Food items were chosen dozens of times (we had previously asked how often readers went to the grocery store).
And take a look at this graph showing how frequently words were chosen starting with each letter:
The red bars show our survey responses, while blue shows the average incidence of starting letters in the English language. As you can see, our respondents chose words starting with B, C, and P significantly more frequently than those words actually appear in English. The discrepancy may again be due to our prompt -- it starts with a "P" word, "pick," and ends with a "B" word, "below."
I didn't find any correlation between the responses to the other "random" questions and how random the number sequences were, but in case you're interested, here are some of those results:
February 18, 2009--Light pillars scrape the night sky over Victor, Idaho, on January 26. Typically seen in polar regions, the vertical columns of light have been appearing along with frigid temperatures at lower latitudes this winter.
Light pillars appear when artificial light (shown in diagram above) or natural light bounces off the facets of flat ice crystals wafting relatively close to the ground.When the light source is close to the ground, the light pillar appears above the floating crystals. When the light comes from the sun or moon, the light pillar can appear beneath them, too, as the light refracts through the crystals. (See a picture of another ice-crystal light phenomenon, a sun dog.)
Ninety percent of our brains are unused by humans. What that part of the brain is for remains undiscovered. The remaining ten percent is used to function in daily life.
The ability is within everyone to communicate using only the power of the mind. We are able to see what others are thinking without saying anything or using any physical effort.
We are taught from birth to not pursue our natural ability to send and receive telepathic messages.It would more than likely be considered “weird” or a sign of a mental problem if we did recognize this ability.
We involve ourselves with other things in life and forget about such nonsense until the day comes that we know something we should not and ponder for a short time only to push it further to the back of our mind again.
Is this a psychic ability or are we communicating with others through telepathy. Did you receive a message from someone needing to contact you?
We connect subconsciously with others all the time. Our minds have the capacity to learn to do this on a regular basis anytime we feel a desire to. We can develop this natural ability to use at will.
Mental telepathy is a talent we are all born with. The fact is most people never consciously use it therefore our natural ability to communicate with our mind is never developed. As a result most people never learn or even realize they have this power. In fact many believe they have this power is but do not know how to make it work for them.
Scientist say our though have a frequency and can be measured. A person can learn to use this to contact others and send messages. These thoughts or frequencies must be channeled in the right way in order to be effective in communication.
Some techniques to enhance your telepathic abilities
*Get relaxed - You need to put yourself into a trance like mode, this will allow your mind to receive messages that others are trying to send you or if you want to connect with someone. When your mind and body are relaxed you are open to send and receive telepathic messages.
If you are wanting to develop the ability to be telepathic, work on getting into the trance state to be successful with it.
*Learn to focus - Find a place where you will not be disturbed, relax your mind and body. Picture the one you want to communicate with mentally. Send the message and assure yourself they are getting it. Don’t make it a command just tell the person you would like to hear from them and think pleasing thoughts about them.
*Believe - You have to believe in what you are doing and have an open mind about it. As you grow your telepathic ability, always believe the person will get the message.
*Stop the exercise - Snap yourself out of your dreamy state and go about your daily routine. This is an important part of the whole process.
When you let go of the positive impressions the person you were trying to contact should feel that any thoughts about you will be missing and the urge to contact you to re-establish that communication should be strong. Don’t be surprised if the person you were reaching out to calls you soon.
This is a great way to become focused on developing and using telepathy to communicate. You can use two people to practice and enhance your abilities.
A quick way to practice with two people.
*One Sends and One Receives - Determine who wants to be the sender and who will be the receiver. We will start with you being the sender.
Since you are the sender your friend the receiver needs to have a pen and paper handy and be prepared to write down what comes into their mind. The receiver may feel silly at first so remember to stress how important it is to write everything down regardless of how trivial it may seem.
*Visualize - You are the sender so you should have some simple images in mind to send to your receiver. These should be well known objects, for instance, a star, an orange, or an apple. These will be simple and easy to focus on and easier for you receiver to get than more complex images.
*Transmission - Lie back and focus on connecting with your receiver. Imagine the two of you are connected and thoughts are flowing through a wire or cord back and forth. You can visualize this in a way that works for you as long as it represents a connection.
Get a clear picture of your image and send it down the line. Imagine a clear, bright picture of it racing or flowing to your receiver. Stay focused on the object until you see it reach the receiver.
The art of visualizing and focusing is the best way to get your message out to the one you need to reach.
*End Transmission - When you feel that your thought-object has reached its destination, stop projecting and allow your mind to be blank. This pause in transmission is important because it allows your receiver time to realize that an image really did appear. When it stops it also allows the receiver time to take a note of what image he saw.
*Receive - The receiver needs to approach this with an open mind and want to receive messages. It all needs to be written down as a record to refer to later. It is important to relax and let the message flow in.
We all see have things flowing through or mind when we relax and are receptive to it. A receiver should write anything down that he or she sees, even if it is believed to be a random thought.
*Check the results - When the session is complete, see how well both of you done in sending and receiving images. Anyone will get some of them right as well have the ability to do this. It will take some training to do really well at it as a rule. A perfect score would be very unusual on the first try.
Remember, practice makes perfect!
About the Author:
Alex J Gould is a writer for the popular http://www.telepathyrevealed.com site. You can enjoy the incredible experience of telepathic communication and you can try it yourself when you find out the real undisclosed secrets of telepathic communication when you visit here.
In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social
Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside
the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last
of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and
full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30,
2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the
College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1
and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote
that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive
Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members
of the Faculty Senate.
This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and
motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by
political values, principally stemming from differences between myself
and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course
much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial
subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the
evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent
of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have
been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this
instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process
which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.
Exiled in NYU: A communique from within the NYU occupationAt the dawn of the New School occupation last December, we wrote, "This isonly the beginning."We weren't joking.We are now occupying the halls of NYU alongside their students. With ourbodies and barricades, we continue to manifest ourselves as a force ofinterruption against the enforced passivity of the university.This occupation arises at a time of economic turmoil. The current crisisof capital is no fluke; it is the result of the real social conditions inwhich we live. NYU, one of the largest property owners in New York City,is a clear perpetrator of the misery everyone now feels. It has no alibi,only vulnerabilities.From the insurrection in Greece to the revolts of Eastern Europe, from theuniversity occupations across England to the general uprising in Oakland,something is in air. We can?t name it, but we can all feel it.Uncompromising, our power is growing. What has started as a singularstrike against the structure of NYU's form of domination will become astrike against the general logic of domination.When we occupy spaces and liberate their use, we appropriate for ourselvesthe means of our very existence. We find each other here and now, in themidst of conflict and crisis, overturning every role we're given,annulling every attempt to reconcile.This is how we learn. This is how we fight.In Exile,Students of the New SchoolFeb 19th, 2009
has always held some allure, particularly for the sci-fi set. But a feat even more challenging than telepathy is reading your own mind — in essence figuring out how it works. The Rubin Museum of Art has volunteered to act as tour guide for our unknowable inner world by organizing Brainwave, a festival devoted to the way we think.
“It comes about quite naturally because we’re a museum with a lot of Buddhist art in it, and Buddhism is about controlling your mind in order to focus it for meditation,” said the museum’s producer, Tim McHenry, who conceived of the festival.
This two-month event, in its second year, is no sleepy academic and spiritual retreat. Its programming includes talks in which the persistently belligerent comedian Lewis Black, above, encounters an anger-management psychologist, Robert Allan (March 9); Paul Simon brings his guitar in for an exchange with the neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin about how our minds process music (March 4); and the opera director Peter Sellars explores visual perception with the neuroscientist Semir Zeki (March 21).
There are countless other draws: the documentary “Dalai Lama Renaissance,” narrated by Harrison Ford, follows thinkers who visit the Dalai Lama to discuss how to change the world (Saturday, Sunday, Feb. 28 and March 1), and the premiere of a work by John Tavener will ring out on multiple levels in the museum’s galleries (April 23). But the feature that holds the broadest appeal is the improbable pairings of celebrities with scientists.
“Scientists have done their research,” Mr. McHenry explained. “Putting them together with a musician or an artist who has done the practicing means that they are coming together by talking about the same topic in a common language.” It may not be telepathy, but a true meeting of minds that enables us to better understand our own is a good start. (Saturday through April 23, 150 West 17th Street, Chelsea. Information, including a full schedule and prices: 212-620-5000, rmanyc.org.) MONICA DRAKE
Cards Help You See Things That Are To Come
Used by experienced fortune tellers, tarot cards are used primarily for fortune telling, but they are not unique to our current society. Learn how the cards can help you see things that are to come
Twenty-five years after launching AK Press, Ramsey Kanaan took his democracy elsewhere.By Rachel SwanWhen Ramsey Kanaan launched the anarchist publishing company AK Press 25 years ago, he created a truly egalitarian business model: no hierarchies; no staggered wages; no CEOs making decisions in far-removed corporate offices. In fact, all decisions would generate from within, and only be implemented after a majority-rule vote. Such a system, while idealistic, seemed the only way for Kanaan to properly apply his personal politics to the business. A committed anarchist who had grown up in the punk scene, Kanaan couldn't envision any work setting that didn't embrace democracy — even if the term "anarchist business" seems counterintuitive (as AK readily points out on its web site). After all, if you can't find equality in the business world, why not impose it?His idea proved successful, and to this day, AK still operates as a worker-run collective with chapters in Oakland and Stirling, Scotland. But Kanaan jumped ship in 2007 to form PM Press, a similarly styled publishing enterprise run by a group of like-minded anarchists, most of whom had been affiliated with AK at one time or another. The difference, he said, is that PM is willing to explore new media and new modes of distribution, and expand beyond the hard copy realm. Kanaan had tried for several years to bring his new vision of publishing to the folks at AK, but he could never get the majority to go along with him. Eventually, Kanaan got tired of being overruled. The democratic system he had set up was the thing that drove him out in the end.Kanaan said it's for the better. The 42-year-old veteran publisher currently runs PM from his small West Oakland apartment, whose wall-to-wall bookshelves brim with titles that reflect his radical sensibility: Inside Hamas; Tolstoy the Rebel; I, Shithead: A Life in Punk. It's an incredibly small, all-volunteer operation; Kanaan said he plans to start paying wages this year. If you call the phone number on PM's web site, you'll reach Kanaan's home answering machine. He processes orders at home, manually tallies his inventory, and conducts most business on his personal computer. About six people participate in the day-to-day editorial decisions at PM, and tag-team on editing and copyediting. Kanaan and fellow Oakland resident Dan Fedorenko are the de facto customer service reps, and Fedorenko handles most of the mail orders. Because of its size the group makes decisions collectively, using a model that's similar to, if not more liberal than, the one at AK. It's worked so far because they pretty much agree on everything, said Kanaan — including the fact that no one's in there for the money or the glory.Material gains were never part of publishing for Kanaan, who got into the business at age thirteen in his hometown of Stirling. He had just gotten into punk rock and anarchism, two counterculture movements that seemed intertwined, he said. "I was playing in a punk rock band and I started selling fanzines. As I got exposed to more overtly political literature, I started selling that." Kanaan describes himself as less a self-taught impresario than a very inquisitive sponge. "I was the annoying fifteen-year-old who would go up to people and bug them and say, 'How do you do this, and how does this work?'" Kanaan recalled. "I'd walk into a bookstore with a bag of stuff to sell, and say, 'Hey, do you want to buy some, Mister?' They'd say, 'Actually you have to make an appointment with the buyer.' I'd say, 'Oh, okay. Can I make an appointment with the buyer then, please?' I'd come back next Tuesday. I have no experience other than trial and error."He founded AK Press in the mid-'80s and named it for his mother, Ann Kanaan. Initially a one-man mail-order business run out of Kanaan's house in Stirling, it became a genuine worker collective in 1989. That year Kanaan traveled to the US with his punk band, Political Asylum, on a tour that culminated in San Francisco. There they attended a week-long anarchist conference called Without Borders, and played a rowdy warehouse show at 17th and Shotwell streets in the Mission. Kanaan was bedazzled. He ate his first burrito at Pancho Villa's and became an instant fan of taqueria food. Not to mention he was enamored of San Francisco's warehouse punk scene. (The concept of "playing in someone's house" was novel.) Five years later, Kanaan managed to convince the other folks at AK that the company did enough business in the US to open a San Francisco chapter, and that he would shoulder the onerous burden of moving out there.At that time, said Kanaan, AK was still ahead of the curve in terms of exploiting new technology. AK was one of the first businesses to record lectures onto CD and distribute them to record stores. Not to mention the company had a web site and e-mail addresses pretty early on, thanks to some friends at MIT. (Kanaan began using e-mail in 1995, back when most people's addresses were "insane clunky things with 27 digits and numbers.") In 2000, AK was dot-commed out of San Francisco and forced to move to its current West Oakland location — an old auto parts warehouse on San Pablo Avenue. Low overhead and strong name recognition helped it weather the turbulent economy for a while, but as time wore on AK stopped making technological innovations.For years the company survived on a fairly simple, indie-bookstore format: A catalog comprising books, 'zines, gear, pamphlets, and DVDs, combined with regular events (lectures and book sales) that lured people out to the store. As people started getting more information online, Kanaan found it necessary to update that formula. He wanted AK to record its lectures and sell them as digital downloads. He thought the collective should expand its inventory to include fiction novels and e-books, plus a wide selection of music CDs and DVDs. He initiated several discussions about increasingly AK's presence online, but said most of them went nowhere.Kanaan couldn't convince his comrades to respond to the exigencies of a rapidly changing industry. And over time, he said, it got harder and harder to maneuver within the entrenched democracy of AK. "My problems with AK are not with the decision-making structure, it's just that at a certain point, there's only so long that someone can be in the minority," Kanaan said. "We had a difference of opinion as to how to proceed." Ultimately, he said, it was an amicable split. In a recent e-mail, AK Press member Suzanne Shaffer assured that the two publishing companies still work closely together, and that there's no bad blood between them: "We make all our publishing decisions democratically, so of course we don't always agree on everything and getting outvoted sometimes is a fact of life," wrote Shaffer. "Ramsey did have lots of ideas for titles he wanted to publish, and some of them fell outside of AK's sphere (as a collective, we prioritize publishing anarchist history and theory)."PM Press was born of a 25-year itch. It has all the attributes that helped AK at its inception: inexhaustible creativity; a staff of idealists willing to volunteer their time; imaginative ways of bringing print to the digital realm. In its first year of existence the company published roughly a dozen books, including comics, a crime novel series called Geek Mafia, a photo anthology of graffiti by the UK aerosol artist Banksy, and a book of postcards by Eric Drooker, all of which are available as e-books. The new collective also produced a slew of CDs and DVDs, and plans to implement more ideas in the coming year, such as author blogs, downloads, and book "extras" (i.e., supplemental interviews and commentary). Kanaan said he's happy to no longer be pigeonholed as "anarchist" (both a blessing and a curse for AK), and to be interacting with new forms of media.He's also pleased that most of his ideas actually see the light of day. "It's not that I want to be a dictator," said the publisher, explaining that PM is in fact more collectively minded than AK. It's just easier to run a collective when everyone agrees with you.
If you are familiar with new age literature today then you are aware of the law of attraction. Guys this law has nothing to do about women and everything to do about women. The law of attraction states that everything in the universe is energy at its base level. All energy vibrates and based on your level of vibration things are drawn into your reality or attracted to you.
So no it is not about women but it can explain why you keep getting hooked up with the same ole crazy woman. If you take it a little farther there are no coincidences, accidents or luck that enters into your reality. All things are orchestrated by the beautifully woven tapestry of the universe in which we are all a part. Damn, that was almost poetic! Everything in the universe is connected. Based on this premise that all things are connected, tarot cards have been used successfully for hundreds of years.
Are you Skeptical about the success of tarot cards? Let’s use a little common sense logic. If they did not work would they be in use and last for hundreds of years? Were you skeptical of the stockbroker that gave you that tip on the last hot buy before the market went into the toilet? Maybe you should have been! People have had great success with tarot cards for hundreds of years. That’s why they have stayed around and people keep coming back. With the success that you’ve had in the market, why do you keep going back to that broker?
In a tarot card reading you concentrate on a question. You then are dealt a “spread” of cards. When you are concentrating you are sending out a vibe to the universe. Because your energy vibrates at any given point in time the cards that find their way into your spread are specifically attracted to your energy or vibration. There are no coincidents, accidents or luck. The cards are attracted to your energy.
A skilled “reader” can interpret the cards based on your question and their intuition. A tarot card reader can be psychic but they don’t have to be to give a good reading. It is more of an intuitive art. The cards are a snap shot of the energy that you are putting out, at any moment in time, to the universe. That stockbroker? He just threw a dart at a board full of companies, hit one that then called you! At least the tarot reader taps into the universe, that stock broker just tapped the phone and you came up.
Choosing tarot card reader is like choosing a preacher. Do you want to hear a sermon of fire and brimstone and how you have one foot in hell and the other foot on a banana peel? Or do you want one that will give you hope and that you can be a better human being? Ok, I’m kidding with the analogy of the fire and brimstone tarot reader. But do understand that reading the cards is not a science. Different readers can look at the same card and interpret it different ways. No right or wrong simply their perspective and how they feel your energy.
I was a skeptic about tarot cards until I understood how they fit with my vibrational energy and the law of attraction. A good tarot reader can aid you in many areas of your life. For example, what would be your best career path? Why you seem to get involved with the same type person in relationships? Things you need to do to develop a good relationship. They can aid you in how to handle certain situations in a relationship, at work, at home, in business and any number of life’s issues that you may not quite have a grasp of.
Because all parts of your life are interconnected within the tapestry of the universe, a good tarot reading can be an awesome aid in your daily life. Unorthodox? Yes. But relevant in ways that many do not yet realize. There is no accident that you are reading this blog. Because of the law of attraction you drew it into your awareness. Now you need to act on the message. There are many skilled tarot card readers that you can connect with online. Find one that is reputable and allow them to give you a reading. Gentlemen, lighten up. Learn how you fit into this universe. Learn why Becky Sue (a southern bell, talks like Jessica Simpson or Beyonce’) keeps showing up in your life even though the name and body keeps changing. Tarot can be an excellent tool.
If you learn to read the cards for yourself they can be an excellent way for you to connect to your higher self. Our spiritual guides are always sending us messages. Unfortunately most of us are so grounded in ego consciousness that we miss the subtle messages our guides send. You can ask your guides for guidance and they will give you messages with the cards. Tarot cards can help you interpret your dreams.
You can continue to be a skeptic, but hundreds of years of success behind this divination tool speak for itself. There is some much more to our universe than our five senses can detect. Why not use different tools to help guide you in this life. You are an extraordinary being. Learn who you are. All of who you are. Allow your guides to direct your path.
Earlier this year, I received a copy of Telepathy for review. It is a newly produced game by LMD Enterprises – a new startup based in Seattle, Washington. The game is advertised as “a strategy game combining logic, deduction, and more…”.
Well, based on the one sentence tagline, I was immediately interested, as I generally like all sorts of deduction games. Further examination of the game’s website brought up this blurb: “In this puzzle solving challenge of deduction, logic and intuition, players go head to head to see who can be the first to guess their opponent’s secret square. Every action turn brings you closer to finding the hidden, ancient symbol. But watch out; your opponent may be closer to solving your secret square than you think! The Telepathy board game is an outstanding logic building tool, ideal for educators and puzzle solvers alike. If you like Sudoku, Mastermind, or Battleship, this game is for you.”
The game focuses on a 18x18 board. There are 9 colors and 9 shapes involved in the game, and each combination of color and shape is represented 4 times on the 18x18 board. The columns are numbered 1 to 18 and the rows are lettered A to R. At the beginning of the game, each player picks out his “secret square” - any square on the board – and then writes down the row, column, color, and shape.
Once each player has chosen a secret square, you then go about trying to ascertain the secret square of your opponent. Now, admittedly, I’ve only played the game in a 2-player format thus far – so it was always a simple head-to-head battle. If you have 3 or 4 players, each player tries to discover the secret square of the person in front of them in turn order.
In any event, each round follows a simple pattern – you simply nominate any square on the board and announce the row, column, color and shape. Your opponent then simply gives you a “Yes” or “No” answer. If you match any of the four characteristics of the secret square, you get a “Yes”. If ALL four characteristics do not match, then you get a “No”. After you ask your question, your opponent gets to ask you one about your secret square and so on.
The game continues on in the format until one player thinks they know what their opponent’s secret square is. Instead of their normal turn, they announce that they are guessing at what the secret square is. If they guess right – they win the game. If they guess wrong, they are eliminated from the game. (And since I played only two player games, they would therefore lose the game by guessing incorrectly).
That’s all there is to the game – it’s deceptively simple to figure out. At first it didn’t make sense why players would have to announce all the characteristics of the space they were guessing at – but after awhile, it became apparent that announcing all those things made it much harder for a mistake to be made in giving the Yes/No answer. Like all logic/puzzle games, the entire game can break down if there is an error in the information reporting.
But the big question – is it fun? Yes, Telepathy is a fun game. It is a nice simultaneous logic puzzle game. I would have to disagree with the assertion that it is also a deduction game, as I have really found no deduction whatsoever in the play of the game. The start of the game is a race to eliminate as many colors/shapes/rows/columns as possible early on in the game. Then, once you’ve eliminated out a large portion of the board, you then carefully examine the board to find out which squares will give you the vital pieces of information that you need to solve the puzzle. Games tend to be fairly quick – most of my games have ended within 15 minutes.
You can often tell how your opponent is doing by examining the questions being asked of you. As the endgame nears, if you feel that your opponent is close to determining your own secret square, you may have to make a guess between two or three possible choices when guessing at the secret square – but this isn’t deduction. It’s guessing. But, if you think your opponent is about to guess at your square – sometimes it’s worth the risk to make a guess with incomplete information in order to try to sneak out the win. Of course… if you guess wrong, then you’ve lost (though maybe you would have lost anyways?)
As I mentioned before, all of my games thus far have been the two-player variety. There are rules included to allow you play with more, either as teams or cut-throat. However, most of these rules seem artificial (from my reading of them). I suspect that if I ever had 4 people together that wanted to play Telepathy, I’d start 2 simultaneous games and then switch opponents between games.
There is one advanced variant to the game which is quite interesting. In this version of the game, each player chooses two secret squares and you win only be deducing the identities of both of your opponent’s secret squares. Now, I’ve only played this way once, so I’m not sure if I prefer it to the basic game. It is a much more difficult process of figuring out where the secret squares are – and in fact, for those not inclined to logic puzzles – it may actually be more work than fun. To compensate for the increased difficulty, you are not eliminated from the game if you make an incorrect guess at the two secret squares. In this version, you merely lose a turn for making an incorrect guess. In any event, this advanced version converts the game into a pretty significant brain burner.
The components of the game are pretty well made. There are 4 large coated boards that provide you with your 18x18 grid – and the boards are big enough that it is easy to see the contents of each square. There are also 4 smaller cards provided so you can write down the information about your secret square. The dry-erase markers that are included work well, and importantly, they erase easily. My only complaint of the components might be the box. The box is made of the same coated cardboard material and it is STICKY. The inner face of by box is already marred by fingernail impressions as I’ve had to dig my nails into the box to get it to come open before playing. However, the complaints about the box are minimal when taking in the game as a whole.
Telepathy has been about a year in development. According to the designer, Derek Chinn, his inspiration to design the game came from a 2007 Christmas gift. He was able to get his game idea into good form by May of the following year and, thru FunHub Creative, he was able to have finished copies of his game available by November, 2008. At the current time, the game is available thru his website (http://www.telepathygame.com/) as well as getting hooked up with a distributor. If you’re a fan of logic games (or Mastermind or Battleship), you’ll probably enjoy playing Telepathy, and I’d encourage you to give it a try.
I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep my eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.
From: http://www.itvnews.tvAstronomy, seems a small word. But this is an word which contains the universe. It is so, I called it seems a small word in the first sentence. Astronomy is beautiful science, it is the thing which attracts everyone. If you think about the solar system, galaxy to the UFO's everything are very interesting....
In silhouette against a crowded star field toward the constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower. In fact, clumps of dust and molecular gas collapsing to form stars may well lurk within the dark nebula, a structure that spans almost 40 light-years across the gorgeous telescopic view. Known as a cometary globule, the swept-back cloud, extending from the upper right to the head (top of the tower) left and below center, is shaped by intense ultraviolet radiation from the OB association of very hot stars in NGC 6231, off the left edge of the scene. That energetic ultraviolet light also powers the globule's bordering reddish glow of hydrogen gas. Hot stars embedded in the dust can be seen as small bluish reflection nebulae. This dark tower, NGC 6231, and associated nebulae are about 5,000 light-years away.
OF all the conflicts that roiled New England politics between the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783 and the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, perhaps none was so significant as the debate over how much money the state governments should transfer from taxpayers to their fellow citizens who had invested in state and federal war bonds.1 Historians have shown that this quarrel lay at the root of Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts. It also played a significant role in the Exeter Riot in New Hampshire, Connecticut's embarrassingly explicit defiance of a congressional requisition, and the Rhode Island legislature's infamous decision to print paper money. Because these agrarian rebellions and resulting legislative relief packages in turn helped persuade numerous citizens—not only in New England but in the rest of the country as well—to embrace the Constitution, the debate over the war bonds merits considerably more scholarly attention than it has received. Although Congress and all thirteen state governments printed paper money during the Revolutionary War and loans and subsidies eventually came in from overseas, one of the most important mechanisms of war finance was the issuance of bonds, not only to people who provided cash to the government but also to army contractors and soldiers. The federal and state governments all emerged from the war saddled with huge bonded debts that powerfully influenced postwar politics. The Massachusetts legislature's solicitude for bondholders accounted for most of the tax it adopted in March 1786. As numerous historians have shown, this levy, the largest in the state's history, was the primary trigger of Shays's Rebellion. Similarly, in New Hampshire, the principal reason farmers surrounded the assembly on September 20, 1786, and demanded that it print paper money was to relieve the heavy tax burden legislators had imposed in order to make interest and principal payments on the state and federal war debts. In Rhode Island, too, one of the farmers' most pressing motives for demanding paper money was to ease their tax burden. In the spring 1786 elections, Rhode Island advocates for a paper currency seized control of the legislature, printing £100,000 worth of money that rapidly depreciated. Connecticut taxpayers were so angry at the taxes they were already paying for the benefit of state bondholders that assemblymen did not dare impose an additional, "Continental," levy that would triple direct taxes. Thus, in October 1786 the House of Representatives had to announce that it could not comply with Congress's September 27, 1785, requisition on the states.[War Debt makes the world go round...]
by Jim Griffith, Jr., Editor, Lusk (WY) HeraldTo my Great-Great Grandchildren,
Inasmuch as we shall never meet, I want to leave you this note of appreciation, You see, it was during my lifetime that the leaders of the United States decided to spend some of the tax money that your great grandparents, grandparents, parents and you, and most likely your descendants, would have to pay.Thank you for your generosity.Our practice of deficit financing was started during a financial depression and was necessary. It was necessary to continue the practice through a great war, called World War II. Following World War II, the United States had a period of long prosperity, but we had grown accustomed to spending more tax money than we like to pay. Rather than paying off what we had borrowed, we decided to let you do it. I hope you won't hate the memory of my generation. Mostly, they were darn fine people. They would have liked to leave you the same rich, debt-free heritage that they had received, but in the name of progress we had to get money from someone. We took it from you. Thanks.With appreciation,Great-Great-Grandpa JimFrom: Pg. 171 of The Kleinknecht Gems of Thought Encyclopedia, Volume XX by C.F. Kleinknecht, Washington D.C. 1967
The universe doesn’t care about fancy linguistics or belief systems.
The actuality of our human condition is this: There is no way around emotional cleansing. There is no one that can save us from this required inner work. There is no fancy machine that can do it for us. There is no councilor or facilitator or healer that can do it for us. There are no changes in political policy or religious addresses or shifts in the interest rate that impact this predicament by even 0.0001%. Only inner work accomplishes emotional integration.
In 2009 – those who do not have the capacity – and who have not already been doing the work to develop the capacity - to contain the exponentially increasing waves of the vibrational – shall commence equal and opposite exponentially accelerated self-destruction. Those who have eyes to see already real eyes this. Many will also fervently partake in the collective destruction of others.
2009 also contains within its frequency the strong possibility that many may still awaken in time to tend to their emotional responsibilities. However, the window of opportunity for the required organic unfolding of emotional development is fast closing.
In 2009 it shall become disturbingly apparent that it is no longer possible for the masses to sedate and control the authentic state of their emotional bodies. The rising vibrational impulses shall be too powerful for those who have not consciously practiced containment. These impulses shall override the hold pharmaceuticals, alcohol, cigarettes, and street drugs currently have as far as ‘masking the authenticity of our collective human emotional predicament’.
This sudden increase in random, outwardly-projected, destructive behavior of the masses is already increasingly obvious and has already been active-8-ed for all to witness in the most unexpected places. The wheels for this unfolding have already been ‘Greece-d’, one might say: One person is killed and millions riot in reaction – burning and destroying everything in their path.
In 2009 many will continue to face unemployment – but the riot police departments on planet earth will definitely not. On the contrary, they will offer great recruitment packages! Watch your local press for details and employment opportunities!
The only hope for humanity right now is that there are enough self-trained alchemists willing to open themselves up completely to feel and contain these escalating vibrational impulses. There are clearly no longer enough Indigenous Elders to accomplish this on our behalf.
2009 is time for us to ‘grow up’ and take our place at the table of planetary guardianship.
Many have been given all the necessary tools to approach the unfolding experiences upon our planet consciously. However, because of our trance state, many of us have foolishly viewed and used these tools in terms of ‘their efficiency in helping us to get what we want’ – as opposed to opening us up to develop the capacity ‘to receive what we require’.
‘What is actual’ is that most so-called ‘civilized humans’ no longer have the capacity to discern between a need, a want, or a requirement. Such capacity requires significant emotional development, and emotional development, like the growth of a flower, is an organic unfolding. It cannot be quickly organized by politicians, discounted on a summer sale by profiteers, or granted via absolution to congregations by priests. Those who are not already consciously developing themselves emotionally are unlikely to have the capacity to enter such inner workings.
Once the bulls are charging, the people in the street no longer have the luxury of deciding where in the crowd to position themselves.
The frequency of 2009 is akin to ‘the running of the bulls’. It is fun for those who consciously ‘show up’ and therefore ‘respond’ to the occasion – but horrific and devastating for those who suddenly awaken from their leisurely shopping spree in the midst of panicking masses.
This year is actively, through ongoing vibrational impulses, moving us toward requiredtransformation. The key to this transformation is mastering the seeming conflict of opposites – or integration of opposing forces. Failure to integrate these seemingly opposing forces will for many not mean ‘transformation’ – but instead ‘transitioning’. As a ‘rapid’ makes or breaks a canoeist, this year makes or breaks us individually or collectively.
What if we are not victims of our genes? What if the greatest power in the universe is within you? What if aging is only a program we've learned that can be changed?" Filmmaker James Sinclair's new movie, What If, offers further insight into the realms of possibility of our mind's capacity to create our reality. Through interviews with experts in medicine, psychology, physics, and natural healing, What If explores means of challenging our own "programming." What If reminds us that our consciousness can change the way they live in the world.
What If? The Movie World Wide Release
Written by: Mercedes Grant
What If? The Movie is voraciously redefining society’s concepts of reality and perception by revealing individuals who are living without food, re-growing hair and teeth and self-healing life threatening illnesses.
As the Creator, Producer, Director and CEO of What If? The Movie and LWI Pictures, James A Sinclair designed the feature-length documentary with meticulous efforts being made to passionately and intricately deliver his vision of a film that would awaken people to the idea that we are all capable of unlocking and revealing the remarkable, extraordinary and truly unlimited potential within us.
By imparting the intention of this vision to every aspect of the film-making process, Sinclair was able to manifest and build an incredible team of individuals both creative and business oriented with whom to share and develop in his concept of the film....
Check this out:http://smarthistory.orgAbout smARThistoryWhy We Made smARThistoryFor years we have been dissatisfied with the large expensive art history textbook. We found that they were difficult for many students, contained too many images, and just were not particularly engaging. In addition, we had found the web resources developed by publishers to be woefully uncreative. We had developed quite a bit of content for our online Western art history courses and we had also created many podcasts, and a few screencasts for our smARThistory blog. So, it finally occurred to us, why not use the personal voice that we use when we teach online, along with the multimedia we had already created for our blog and for our courses, to create a more engaging "web-book" that could be used in conjunction with art history survey courses. We are also committed to joining the growing number of teachers who make their content freely available on the web.
What is Baroque?The English word baroque is derived from the Italian barocco, meaning bizarre, though probably exuberant would be a better translation more accurately reflecting the sense. The usage of this term originated in the 1860s to describe the highly decorated style of 17th and 18th century religious and public buildings in Italy, Germany and Austria, as typified by the very baroque angelic organist adorning the Gottfried Silbermann organ completed in 1714 for the Cathedral in Freiberg, Saxony (illustrated above). Later, during the early-to-mid 1900s, the term baroque was applied by association to music of the 17th and early 18th century, and today the term baroque has come to refer to a very clearly definable type or genre of music which originated, broadly speaking, around 1600 and came to fruition between 1700 and 1750. Two Hours of Baroque Music Samples - Click here for more
A plan the Muses entertain'dMethodically to impartTo Psyche the poetic art;Prosaic-pure her soul remain'd.No wondrous sounds escaped her lyreE'en in the fairest Summer night;But Amor came with glance of fire,--The lesson soon was learn'd aright.A Plan The Muses Entertained, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Now, if you ever was or still are one of those "CRITICAL THINKING" people who look in the mirror or say to yourself what is it all about meaning "LIFE", then this following book is a MUST read believe me…I cannot even begin to explain how it already has changed the way I look at life completely…everything about life…it explains so much that resonates with my soul that it is undeniable. Of course most people are not critical thinkers because if they were this world, this reality as we know it would be completely different.
I mean take the book The Secret (this is NOT the book I am referring to) for instance which is based on the premise that we create our physical reality based on our thoughts, emotions and lastly feelings. If most people are actually GOOD people which I know that they are then why is the world the way it is?? After all our world, this world is only a reflection of the collective thoughts of everyone on the planet…because if the same applies on an individual basis then certainly our realities overlap quite often so we are ALL creating this reality…but why?
Well, I think that this is the reason a lot of the mass media is all about fear, pain and suffering…I mean on one level you want to know what’s going on BUT at what point is it now implanting the very same ideas and images that the reporters themselves seem so passionately moved by "THUS CREATING REALITY" via everyone who watches this stuff over and over and over again through their minds if you will…do you ever notice how the news will loop a story to death I mean negative bad stories but the GOOD ones you’re lucky to see it once maybe twice. And yea I know some people will say well a bad story gets the press that’s what people want to see…or is it so many people are suffering and are in pain that the old saying "misery loves miserable company" applies or are we conditioned to watch this stuff or both?
So this all begs the questions does art imitate life or does life imitate art…? I think it is definitely that "Art Imitates Life" meaning depending on how far down the rabbit hole you go meaning how much of our true nature that you start to uncover the more and more you realize that a lot of what we see in the movies is actually based on a lot of facts of what is possible and what were coming to.
I mean take the study of Chakras and Helixes and all this unused DNA that main stream scientist are so quick to call "JUNK DNA" I mean think about it we are ALL created by GOD or some supreme being do you think they would just pop in some stuff that they did not intend on us using it makes no sense…take your car for instance would you just remove something on your vehicle that the manufacturer put in the car…I mean even taking something as small as the rearview mirror off can cause you major problems and result in an accident..
Do you really think I would yes I would and
I do love all you with all me.
Do you really think I could, yes I could
yes I would love all you with all me.
Do you really think I should yes I should
love all you with all me yes I should
yes I could yes I would.
Do you really think I do love all you
with all me yes I do love all you with all
me And bless my baby.
I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez said Saturday that he was ready to engage in direct talks with President Obama in a bid to repair relations with the United States. The statement marked an evolution in Mr. Chávez’s view of Mr. Obama, whom he described last month as having the “same stench” as his predecessor in the White House.
“Any day is propitious for talking with President Barack Obama,” Mr. Chávez said at a news conference here with foreign journalists ahead of a referendum on Sunday that could open the way for him to hold on to power indefinitely. Mr. Chávez said he would be willing to meet with Mr. Obama before a summit meeting in April of Western Hemisphere nations. The White House has not yet responded....
Global economies are withering while Washington conceives “Financial Recovery Plan(s) from Hell,” according to economist Michael Hudson in his latest February 11 article. Bankers demand more trillions, “or (they’ll) plunge the economy into financial crisis.” What they want they’ll get, and here’s where things now stand.
On February 10, Bloomberg.comreported that Treasury Secretary Geithner “pledged government financing for as much as $2 trillion…to spur new lending and address banks’ toxic assets, seeking to end the credit crunch hobbling the economy.” Hudson calls it “Stage One of a two-stage plan,” so far unannounced, to transfer trillions more to corrupt bankers who caused the problem in the first place, yet taxpayers will get little more back than the bill.
On February 11, the New York Timesreported that “House and Senate leaders…struck a deal on a $789 billion economic stimulus bill after little more than 24 hours of rapid-fire negotiations…clearing the way for final Congressional action later this week (so) Obama (can) sign the bill on” February 16 in a prime time TV spectacular.
In America today, they’re called bailouts, but throughout history they were handouts. Some quite generous (though nothing like today’s) and always for the privileged. Never for the public interest or greater good.
Last October, Howard Zinn wrote about them in his Nation magazine article titled “Bailout — A Great Opportunity”:
Let’s face a historical truth: we have never had a “free market,” we have always had government intervention in the economy, and indeed that intervention has been welcomed by the captains of finance and industry. These titans of wealth hypocritically warned against “big government” but only when (it) threatened to regulate their activities, or when it contemplated passing some of the nation’s wealth on to the neediest people.
“They had no quarrel with ‘big government’ when it served their needs, (and it) started way back” in 1787 when the Constitution was drafted. The year before farmers from Western Massachusetts and elsewhere rebelled to protect their properties from being seized for nonpayment of taxes. The Founders took note and “created ‘big government’ powerful enough” to deter them in future incidents. To return runaway slaves to their owners, and to massacre Indians to make way for new settlers.
They established the idea of handouts as well. The first one to pay full value for near-worthless bonds held by speculators — an earlier version of buying today’s toxic assets.
It was bad enough, then compounded by taxing the public to pay for them each time, and having a standing army ready in case of resistance. What precisely happened in 1794 when Pennsylvania farmers stood up against unfair tax laws.
“In the first sessions of the first Congress,” markets were manipulated with tariffs “to subsidize manufacturers.” Government also partnered with private banks to establish a national one. These practices were commonplace from that time to now. Only the amounts get bigger. The more concentrated business gets, the greater its appetite and more power it has to satisfy it. It’s now insatiable enough to demand trillions more in handouts before the current crisis ends, looted from the Treasury with taxpayers getting the bill.
Zinn notes how in the 19th century government subsidized canals, the merchant marine, and before and during the Civil War gave about 100 million free acres of land to the railroad barons “along with considerable loans to keep” them in business. It was the largest ever giveaway until Paulson’s-engineered Wall Street one, and as stated above, lots more is coming, and much of it still ahead.
Democrats back it more than Republicans. Another long-standing tradition from the republic’s beginning, as Zinn again noted. He cited Democrat Grover Cleveland vetoing “a bill to give (a mere) $100,000 to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought, saying (dismissively): “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” However, in the same year he gave wealthy bondholders $5 million by pricing them $28 above market value. “Rugged individualism” he called it to make it on our own with a little government intervention for assistance. Only for business. Never the public.
After WW II, military Keynesianism became dogma. Aircraft and other defense industries had to be saved and another Depression avoided. The oil industry got its depletion allowance. Chrysler was resurrected from the dead. Continental Illinois Bank was taken over until sold to Bank of America. Business was shored up overall by the 1971 Emergency Loan Guarantee Act. Post-9/11, the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act was for the airlines. Today it’s rescuing Wall Street and major banks, Fannie, Freddie, AIG, the auto giants, and any other “too big to fail” company. Generous government handouts to revive America’s business, or at least that’s the hope behind them.
Historian Charles Beard’s Documented History of Handouts
In December 1931, noted historian Charles Beard wrote about them for Harper’s Monthly in an article titled: “The Myth of Rugged American Individualism.” He documented 15 examples of government handouts/subsidies to business when the country was sinking into Depression.
(1) Government Regulation of Railways from 1887
Beard asked: “How did the Government get into this business?” At the “insistence of business men, shippers, who were harassed and sometimes ruined by railway tactics.” Through rebates, pools, stock watering, bankruptcy-juggling, savage rate slashing, merciless competition, and much more by some of the most cutthroad of all robber barons. They caused disastrous railway bankruptcies involving bloodshed and arson during the Panic of 1873, the result of financier Jim Fisk and railroad baron Jay Gould trying to corner the gold market. Ulysses S. Grant deterred them. A panic ensued and depression followed — two years after the great Chicago fire destroyed four square miles of the city, including close to where this writer lives.
Since the nation’s founding, the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding the development of rivers, harbors, canals, and other infrastructure, and continues to do it for business. “Who (was) back of all this,” Beard asked? “Business men and farmers who want lower freight rates. There is not a chamber of commerce on any Buck Creek in America that will not cheer until tonsils are cracked for any proposal to make the said creek navigable.” Dredging companies also backed it and companies making their machinery.
Beyond Beard’s timeline, the Eisenhower administration began building the Interstate Highway System at the behest of the auto industry, but its origin way pre-dated him with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938. Then another Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944. Still another in 1952 and under Eisenhower one more plus the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 that created the Highway Trust Fund to pay for the proposed 41,000 miles of roads (up to almost 47,000 by 2004).
(3) The United States Barge Corporation
Again Beard asked: “Who got the Government into the job of running barges on some of its improved waterways?” Not socialists. Good Republicans and Democrats representing the country’s business interests.
(4) The Shipping Business
WW I was the proximate cause. For over half a century government stayed out of subsidizing ship builders and allied industries. “Under the cover of war necessities,” it went into the business with much joy from the industry. It backed huge merchant marine expenditures in the form of cheap or subsidized funding, and did it by spending money “like water educating politicians.” What today we call lobbying.
Beard asked: “Who wants navy officers on half pay to serve on privately owned ships? Business men. Who wants the Government to keep on operating ships on ‘pioneer’ lines that do not pay? Business men. And when the United States Senate gets around to investigating this branch of business, it will find more entertainment than the Trade Commission has found in the utility inquest.” In other words, if Congress ever has second thoughts, it’ll be too late. Business will have pocketed their money and used it.
Government was already in this business by providing costly airway services free of charge and by subsidizing air mail. Once again, private enterprise was behind the whole scheme, or as Beard put it: “Gentlemen engaged in aviation and the manufacture of planes and dirigibles.” Government merely helped out by buying planes “for national defense” or whatever other reason it chose.
Consider the Panama Canal, for example. East and West coast shippers backed it because of costly railroad rates. Others with a financial interest in the Cape Cod Canal found that one unprofitable. “They rejoiced to see (that) burden placed on the broad back of our dear Uncle Sam” to bail them out.
(7) Highway Building
Even in Beard’s day, “business men engaged in the manufacture and sale of automobiles and trucks” wanted the government to spend hundreds of millions on roads and tax railroads to help pay for them. With a touch of humor, Beard asked: “Who proposes to cut off every cent of that outlay? Echoes do not answer.”
(8) The Department of Commerce
Its very name defines its purpose. To promote what Calvin Coolidge called “the business of America.” A process Beard described going on in its “magnificent mansion near the Treasury Department, and its army of hustlers scouting for business at the uttermost ends of the earth. Who is responsible for loading on the Government the job of big drummer at large for business? Why shouldn’t these rugged individualists do their own drumming instead of asking taxpayers to do it for them?” Herbert Hoover headed the department at the time and outdid all his predecessors in dispensing public money. The same president Herbert Hoover we blame for his public stinginess after the country headed into Depression on his watch.
(9) The Big Pork Barrel
It’s been around for ages and entered into the vocabulary after the Civil War. It was named after a container to store pig meat in brine, and in 1801 a farmer’s almanac urged readers to “mind our pork and cider barrels.” Its need went out with refrigeration but got new life in reference to political bills bringing home the bacon for constituents. For all sorts of things like post offices, rivers, harbors, buildings, and a whole array of boondoggle projects and giveaways. Beard cited public buildings, navy yards and army posts with business interests every time the beneficiaries.
(10) The Bureau of Standards (NBS)
It’s now called the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and was originally established in 1901 as a measurement standards lab under the Department of Commerce to promote US innovation and industrial competitiveness. Given its purpose was to help business, Beard asked: “Why shouldn’t they do their own (promoting) at their own expense, instead of turning to the Government?”
(11) The Federal Trade Commission
In 1914, it was established as an independent US government agency. While claiming its principle mission is to promote “consumer protection,” it exists solely for business and in Beard’s day for “business men who do not like to be outwitted or cheated by their competitors.” Why so for “rugged individualists,” he asked? Why not let them all do as they please “without invoking government intervention at public expense” and no public benefit.
(12) The Anti-trust Acts
Beard refers to the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act and 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act - trustbusting legislation of their day to defuse anti-competititive practices. Today they’re mere artifacts at a time business oligopolies and de facto monopolies dominate all major industry groups and are practically omnipotent. It’s why Chomsky calls them “private tryannies.”
Earlier, businesses complained that these laws constrained them and their ability to do large-scale planning without risking prosecution. Yet farmers and small business wanted them. The former for lower prices. The latter so as not to be undersold, “beaten by clever tricks, or crushed to the wall by competitors with immense capital.”
Individualism inspired both acts, what Woodrow Wilson called “The New Freedom. Break up the trusts,” he said, “and let each tub stand on its own bottom.” That’s how small businessmen felt. Lawyers representing them put it differently: “The natural person’s personal liberty should not be destroyed by artificial persons known as corporations created under the auspices of the State.”
(13) The Tariff
They go back to the 18th century and were the government’s largest source of revenue from the 1790s until WW I. Once income taxes became law in 1913, that changed although taxing income was used during the Civil War and again in the 1890s.
Beard referred to tariffs as the kind of “interference” business men demanded to protect their interests while at the same time wanting “the right of capital to find its most lucrative course, industry and intelligence their natural reward, and commodities their fair price.” The idea of “free trade” then was about the way it is now. One way with government protecting business against foreign competition, heavily by tariffs back then. More today by the WTO, NAFTA and the like. Beard’s response: “If competition is good, why not stand up and take it?”
(14) The Federal Farm Board
It was created in 1929 so was quite new when Beard wrote about it. He called it a “collectivist institution” and a product of “agrarian agitation on the part of our most stalwart individualists, the free and independent farmers.” Hoover sponsored it and signed it into law, but under him its measures were modest at best. It primarily and fundamentally stabilized prices and production through cooperative methods. It financed associations to limit production. The alternative was to let farmers produce what they wish, as much as they could, and sell it at whatever the market would bear. It’s slogan was “Grow Less — Get More,” cooperate under government leadership or hang separately.
(15) The Moratorium and Frozen Assets
It was a Herbert Hoover plan for a one-year moratorium on payments due the US from foreign powers at a time of growing economic duress as well as a “proposal to give public support to ‘frozen assets.’ ” Its “inspiration” was the jam American investment bankers were in. They made easy money in the 1920s, were now in trouble, and wanted government bailout help.
In 1927, a distinguished German economist told Beard that “the great game in his country, as in other parts of Europe, was to borrow billions from private bankers in the US, so that it would ultimately be impossible to pay reparations, the debts due the Federal Government, and then the debts owed to private parties.” As a result, they believed bankers would force their government to forego its claims for the benefit of private operators. It worked, and according to Beard: “American taxpayers (were) to be soaked and American bankers (were) to collect — perhaps.”
What then is a “frozen asset?” A piece of paper representing a transaction expecting to yield a larger return than possible on a prudent investment. For example, a 7% Western farm mortgage at the time was frozen tight and its holder with it. But why should government have to intervene to save them from “their folly and greed? No reason, except that (investors) want the Government to bring home their cake so they can eat it.”
Beard stressed that “the Federal government does not operate in a vacuum, but under impulsion from without.” From “rugged individualists - business men or farmers or both…The Government operates continually in the midst of the most powerful assembly of lobbyists the world has ever seen.” Representing every business interest “above the level of a corner grocery. For forty years or more there has not been a President, Republican or Democrat, who has not talked against government interference and then supported measures adding more interference to the huge collection already accumulated.”
Woodrow Wilson, for example. He based his 1912 campaign on individualism. A new freedom against corporate wealth controlling government. As a Jeffersonianism heir, “he decried paternalism of every kind.” But look at the laws enacted under him:
the Federal Reserve Act subverting the Constitution by giving a private banking cartel the right to print money, control its supply and price, and charge government interest on what it would not have to pay if it printed its own;
the Federal income tax to service the federal debt owed to bankers;
the trainmen’s law virtually fixing wages on interstate railways for certain classes of employees;
the shipping board law that put the government in the shipping business and let it regulate rates;
the Farm Loan Act that established 12 regional Farm Loan Banks to serve members of Farm Loan Associations;
federal aid for highway construction;
the Alaskan railway;
the Water Power Act that created a Federal Power Commission with extensive authority over waterways and the construction and use of water power projects; and
various other acts belying the notion of “the less government the better” so increasingly more of it for business became the law of the land.
Republicans regained power in the early 1920s on a slogan of returning to normalcy and getting government out of business. In fact, they repealed none of Wilson’s laws. They and their ideological forebears “came honestly by subsidies, bounties, internal improvements, tariffs, and other aids to business.” It was their kind of normalcy. Individualism, with no interference, lots of handouts, and nothing changed under Republican and Democrat administrations through today.
Handouts to Business: the American Way of Life
American business is defined by Socialized costs and privatized profits — more than ever today with trillions in handouts plus all sorts of other generous benefits:
subsidies and other direct grants;
tax breaks, reductions, deductions, exclusions, write-offs, exemptions, credits, loopholes, shelters, and rebates even for profitable companies; the bigger they are, the more they get;
letting corporations be headquartered off-shore and pay no federal income taxes; allowed to repatriate foreign earnings on the same basis; export jobs and erode the nation’s industrial base; financialize the economy; make it a casino, and loot the Treasury to cover their bad bets;
large government contracts of every imaginable kind; some on a cost-plus basis with every incentive to cheat and get more;
discounted user fees or subsidized use of public resources;
free government-funded R & D;
various other government direct payments; every cabinet department as a conduit for government funding to private business; every program from the Department of Commerce, Agriculture and others underwrites it; the FDA for Big Pharma; the FCC for media and telecommunications firms; the FAA for the airlines, the Treasury and Fed for Wall Street, and so forth; the most active “peoples” agency is the IRS;
other subsidies like accelerated depreciation; the cost of advertising; direct aid for companies that advertise abroad; and much more with Democrats as pro-business as Republicans while at the same time curtailing essential social benefits;
individual tax breaks for the rich; winking and nodding about billions offshored to tax havens; letting corporate fraud and abuse become the national pastime;
privatizing more of what government should do and/or does best — schools, highways, bridges, airports, prisons, public lands, utilities, the running of elections, foreign policy, parts of the military, war through the use of mercenaries, outer space, and thus far a failed attempt to take away the most important poverty reduction program for seniors and the disabled — Social Security;
privatizing wealth and socializing debt;
abolishing welfare and other social benefits; rendering organized labor impotent in a “Walmartized” society; ruling by the doctrine of rewarding the privileged at the expense of beneficial social change; the greater good; government for the people; human need; and the democratic ideal that government should serve all its people, not just its preferential few.
Beard’s “rugged individualism” is pure myth for them. But, rugged or otherwise, it’s the consigned fate for the rest of us — sink or swim at a time a lot of us are submerging.
The best links to read the final package remain below (or at the White House page). Those documents are still full of hand-written annotations and markups, making it impossible for us to use our parsing techniques to generate fully online and searchable versions. So we will wait until final clean copies are available, and at that time parse them for future reference and review.
The final language has been posted; you can find links to the various docs at the Speaker's website. Update: The speaker's website is apparently down. Imagine that. Docs are also available here. The total size of the four major files is over 100MB, and consists of 1419 pages. Three of the four files are huge "scanned" PDFs.http://www.readthestimulus.org/
The lords of Wikipedia have announced they will delete the Bilderberg attendees list entry on the site because it is allegedly a “totally un-reliably-sourced list [and] possibly defamatory towards living persons.” The announced deletion will occur five days from 2009-02-18 at 14:53.
Wikipedia offers people concerned about this possible deletion the ability to edit the page. “You may remove this message if you improve the article or otherwise object to deletion for any reason. To avoid confusion, it helps to explain why you object to the deletion, either in the edit summary or on the talk page. If this template is removed, it should not be replaced.”
In response, an editor interested in retaining the page added references. Soon after the references were added, however, somebody went on the page and removed them, according to a comment.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales offers excuses for the CIA’s Intellipedia spin-off.
Obviously, certain Wikipedia editors are determined to have the page removed and will engage in vandalism in order to have this happen within the five day period announced. Considering the history and allegations leveled at Wikipedia, this should not come as a surprise.
“The Democratic and Republican parties, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute of Health have also made their fair share of edits. As far as corporations go, Diebold, Amgen, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Apple, and Exxon Mobil have all made changes. Not to be outdone, the news agencies of Fox News, the New York Times, and Al-Jazeera have also participated,” writes Manila Ryce.
“According to clues accumulated by ordinary citizens around the world, it could be that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are riding the information wave and planting disinformation on Wikipedia,” explains Ludwig De Braeckeleer. “The fact that most Internet search engines, such as Google, give Wikipedia articles top ranking only raises the stakes to a higher level.”
After independent UK journalist and columnist Neil Clark claimed his Wikipedia entry was “consistently maliciously edited” after he critically reviewed a pro-war book penned by Oliver Kamm writing for the Daily Telegraph, the Byzantine Blog wrote that “most internet users who consider Wikipedia a reliable source of information on a whole range of issues, including history and politics, are entirely unaware of” the claim “that Wikipedia is infiltrated by the Western secret services which use it to manipulate truth and prevent the inconvenient facts reaching the wider public, by planting their governments’ official versions of events through Wiki articles.”
And, while the official mainstream media is still filled with praises for the highly dubious Wikiality, independent sources have confirmed Wikipedia is neither “open”, nor “egalitarian”, and certainly not “free”. Unless one thinks CIA and MI5 are veritable fountains of unvarnished, solid-as-gold truths, generously shared with the rest of world for no other purpose but to inform, educate and enlighten the slumbering masses.
Before deciding to rely on Wikipedia as a source of information for serious research on any political subject and most other issues (except for, say, tapeworms and sessile leaves), one would be well advised to heed the warning of founder Jimmy Wales, who personally instructed users not to cite Wikipedia as a source.
Uri Dowbenko is a little more to the point: “Claiming to be a ‘free online encyclopedia,’ Wikipedia is actually a shill for corporate and other internet disinformation, just as AP, also known as Associated Propaganda (or Press), is the Media Cartel’s syndicator of choice, spreading false ‘nooz’ in hometown papers throughout America,” writes Dowbenko. “Wikipedia is the undisputed kudzu weed of the Internet. Just wait till it’s revealed that Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia is an NSA-CIA-Pentagon PsyOps scam.”
As of this writing, there is no definitive evidence Wikipedia is associated with the CIA or other intelligence agencies. However, other prominent internet information corporations have a well-defined association with the spook world. For instance, Robert David Steele, a 20-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer and a former clandestine services case officer with the CIA, told Alex Jones in 2006 that “Google took money from the CIA when it was poor and it was starting up” and the search engine company is “in bed” with the CIA. “Let me say very explicitly - their contact at the CIA is named Dr. Rick Steinheiser, he’s in the Office of Research and Development,” said Steele.
In 2008, Steve Watson wrote that Google is in the business of providing the search features for a private Wikipedia-style site, called Intellipedia. “Google is selling storage and data searching equipment to the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and other intelligence agencies, who have come together to build a huge internal government intranet,” Watson reported.
Like Wikipedia, the CIA’s platform is based on the open-source MediaWiki software.
Wikipedia’s Bilderberg entry may be of interest to the CIA considering former CIA director John M. Deutch is a member, according to the entry now up Wikipedia’s chopping block. Walter Bedell Smith, a former CIA director, and Cord Meyer, a former CIA official, are also listed as members.
Again, there is no definitive evidence the CIA is complicit in the recent vandalism of the Bilderberg entry on Wikipedia, however the fact Virgil Griffith’s software caught the agency in the act of editing entries is highly suspicious, to say the least.
There is certainly a great deal of slack-jawed shock going around these days, especially in progressive circles, where pundits, commentators, analysts and kibitzers continually find themselves reeling from yet another “inexplicable” move by the Obama Administration to uphold the core principles of their predecessors: enriching the rich, extending the empire, and enhancing the authoritarian power of a thoroughly militarized state.
For example, Glenn Greenwald and Scott Horton at Harper’s (among many others) are deeply shocked by Team Obama’s draconian maneuvers to quash a court case based on clear, abundant and credible evidence that American security forces — and their corporate accomplices — colluded to inflict horrendous tortures on a gulag captive (whose only “crime,” it turns out, was reading a satirical magazine article). While Horton struggles to find some small justification for what he sees as an unwise decision, Greenwald is scathing and detailed in denouncing Obama’s action, in which the new president seeks to uphold — and to seize for himself — some of the most egregious claims of arbitrary, tyrannical power once advanced by George “Unitary Executive” Bush.
It is good to see these worthy gentlemen — lawyers both — give us chapter and verse on this act of evil, yet one still must ask: why all the surprise? From the beginning of his presidential campaign to this very day, Obama has always made it perfectly clear — as another great unitary executive used to say — that he has no intention whatsoever of dismantling the unbridled powers of the “imperial presidency.” He has also made it clear that he would not prosecute Bush and other top government officials who created and supervised blatantly illegal systems of torture, warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention of kidnapped captives, including U.S. citizens, arbitrarily designated “enemy combatants” by — who else? — the unitary executive.
(Bush also had many people arbitrarily murdered; but although he openly bragged about this before Congress, on national television, this is a subject that is never, ever raised, anywhere, in any form, however meekly, in the American media and political establishments. Obviously this is a power which our elites believe a president should have, and use, at his own divine discretion. And now Obama can use it too — but only for noble, progressive ends, of course. )
Since taking office, the torture question has been raised, meekly, with the new president now and again — but curiously enough, only in the context of possible prosecutions of lower-ranking interrogators, those on the front line of the Bush-Cheney torture regimen. On this issue, Obama and his mouthpieces have made it clear that they don’t believe government operatives should have to “look over their shoulders” while carrying out noble national security work ordered by their superiors. The president doesn’t think it would be fruitful to pursue such cases — even though his own attorney general has declared some of the practices used by Bush-Cheney operatives to be torture under U.S. law. Instead, Obama has adopted the “Nuremberg defense” for the Bush-Cheney torturers (who are, of course, Obama’s torturers now): they were only “following orders,” and so should not be punished. Strangely enough, this logic has never applied to, say, Nazi concentration camp guards — even if they are as gorgeous as Kate Winslet. But for America’s torturers, Hitlerite excuses are good enough.
Well, all right. Even though none of the Bush-Cheney torturers were forced to carry out these crimes — all were volunteers, including the CIA agents, none were drafted or impressed into this service, and even those under military command were not obliged to obey criminal orders, and thus all of them should be held fully and legally responsible for their actions — let us grant this pernicious argument for the moment. Let us say, with Obama, that the low-hanging fruit should be absolved of their crimes. We are still left with what the new administration itself says are clear acts of torture, committed at the order of the leadership of the previous administration. Why then should we not prosecute those who gave the criminal orders? Yet this consideration does not enter into the national “debate” at all. It is beyond the pale, relegated to the same limbo that cloaks other unmentionable matters — such as Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which Obama cravenly declined to comment upon in his recent press conference. The result of this little two-step dance — forgive the grunts, ignore the bosses — means that no one will be held responsible for clear acts of war crimes committed at the order of the United States government.
Instead of prosecuting the instigators of these capital crimes, Obama has praised the torturer-in-chief, Bush, for “his service to our country.” He has retained the services of many Bush minions, including some who are in charge of the unconstitutional kangaroo court system of “military commissions” for tortured captives held in the American gulag. He has made a great show of “banning torture” — the same kind of great show that Bush periodically made — while continuing the practice of “harsh interrogation techniques” countenanced by the Pentagon: a series of layered “techniques” of physical torment and psychological persecution that are themselves a system of torture. And his designated CIA chief, Leon Panetta, has testified, under oath, that he will “not hesitate” to urge Obama to go beyond the Pentagon tortures if necessary, while also retaining the practice of kidnapping people and depositing them in the torture chambers of foreign countries without any charges or legal processes whatsoever.
So again, we ask: what is “shocking” in Obama’s intervention to kill a torture case in both an American and a British court? By his own words and deeds, Obama has made clear that not only will he not prosecute his predecessors for their egregious abuse of power, he intends to retain full rights to use those abusive powers himself.
Meanwhile, on the economic front, Robert Scheer is shocked — shocked! — to find Obama kowtowing to the robber barons of Wall Street in the latest “bailout” plan. He is shocked that the favorite candidate of Wall Street is now committing trillions of dollars of public money to save Wall Street from its own fraud, crime, greed and stupidity. Yet as Scheer himself rightly notes:
What an insipid anticlimax! Rising to “a challenge more complex than our financial system has ever faced,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner promised on Tuesday to give trillions more to the very folks who profited from that malignant complexity. For all the brave talk about transparency and accountability in the banking bailout, he gave the swindlers who got us into this mess yet another blank check to buy up the “toxic assets” they gleefully created…
The New York Times got it right: “… the plan largely repeats the Bush administration’s approach of deferring to many of the same companies and executives who had peddled risky loans and investments at the heart of the crisis. …” Geithner and White House economic czar Lawrence Summers won out over David Axelrod and other Obama advisers more loyal to the wishes of grass-roots voters; “… as intended by Mr. Geithner, the plan stops short of intruding too significantly into bankers’ affairs even as they come onto the public dole.”
The word dole is usually applied heartlessly to welfare mothers sustained in their dire poverty by meager government handouts, not to the top bankers now ripping off the taxpayers. But as opposed to welfare mothers, who must survive stringent monitoring, the bankers will be largely self-monitoring. No wonder that welfare rolls, because of onerous eligibility rules, are not rising commensurate to the degree of misery out there. There is no such tough love for bankers.
It is difficult to understand how anyone could expect anything else from a president who put people like Geithner and Summers in charge of economic policy. Yet, incredibly, Scheer writes:
Believe it or not, I fully expected this morning to write a cheerleading column hailing Geithner’s reversal of course. Surely the man who as head of the New York Fed sat idly by while the Wall Street giants he was supposed to be monitoring imploded would have learned the error of his ways. Otherwise why would Obama have appointed him?
Obama appointed him because he expected Geithner to continue the bailout policies of the Bush Administration, of course. Scheer seems to forget that it was Obama himself who was instrumental in getting the first bailout/giveaway bill passed, dramatically coming back to Washington to lobby and cajole reluctant Democrats into backing the Bush boondoggle.
This is not ancient history. It only happened a few months ago. It was on the front page of all the papers; it was even on the tee-vee. I’m sure Robert Scheer heard about it. Yet he is shocked that Obama is now going to continue — and exacerbate — the worst of Bush’s fat-cat rescue plan, while, as Scheer notes, millions of ordinary people lose their jobs and homes.
Scheer ends on an ominous — if completely impotent — note:
If like me you still get those chatty e-mails from the Obama campaign, it is time to remind them that we voted for the caring community organizer from the streets of Chicago and not some hack carrying water for the predators of Wall Street.
Like a previous president from Illinois — who turned a brief period of youthful rail-splitting into an enduring PR legend while he himself became a prosperous railroad lawyer — it looks like Obama will feast on his liberal cred as a “caring community organizer” for years to come. But whatever he may have been in those distant callow days of youth, he ran for president quite openly as a “hack carrying water for the predators of Wall Street,” as we noted here long ago, following up on the diligent reporting of many others. (Such as Pam Martens, Mike Whitney and Arthur Silber. For examples, see here, here, and here.)
As with the moves to cover up and continue the Bush-Cheney torture system, Obama’s multitrillion-dollar giveaway to the rich might be “shocking” in the moral sense; but none of it should come as any surprise.
Blackwater has probably been used for U.S. Government narcotics trafficking operations before, but it looks like that is going to be a major component of their business going forward.
Note the phrase “aviation support” in the story below. Aviation support is synonymous with narcotics trafficking. If you read, Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, this will all make much more sense.
West Africa is an unlikely center for the international cocaine trade. It is not a producer of the drug nor is it a consumer, as the vast majority of its people are very poor.
Yet a startling 50 tons of cocaine is transported through West Africa each year, according to the latest United Nations estimates. The value of this illicit trade dwarfs entire economies and has the potential to corrupt the region’s fragile states, which are just pulling out of decades of bitter civil wars.
In the past Africa has been a treasure trove looted by covetous colonialists, voracious rebels and kleptocratic rulers — over the last 300 years think slaves, ivory, gold, diamonds, tin and coltan. Now it is a transit point and storeroom for the cocaine trade.
“Drug money is perverting the weak economies in the region,” says Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The wholesale value in European streets of cocaine passing through West Africa is $2 billion, he says.
South American cartels used to transport cocaine to the big U.S. market via the Caribbean. But dwindling American consumption, stricter control of the West Indies drugs route, growing cocaine use in Europe and weak law enforcement in West Africa have conspired to bring the drug to the region. It is the path of least resistance.
Grown and processed in South America, the refined cocaine is transported by boat or plane across the Atlantic: The shortest line of latitude brings the cargo straight to West Africa. From there the cartels move the drugs onwards to Europe, along the way paying off West African officials in order to be able to operate freely.
So, we have Blackwater/Xe increasing “aviation support” activities in two of the hottest narcotics trafficking hubs in the world. Coincidences, of course.
Blackwater/Xe/ or whatever those crooks are calling themselves this week, are probably going to be performing the same role as Barry and the Boys did at Mena, Arkansas in the 1980s. Running contractors and cutouts, training drug pilots, retrofitting aircraft, and actually carrying out narcotics trafficking operations. Soup to nuts.
Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.
Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter “z.”
It’s a rare surrender for a company that cherished a brand name inspired by the dark-water swamps of northeastern North Carolina, one that survived another rebranding effort about a year ago, following a deadly shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The decision to give it up underscores how badly the Moyock-based company’s brand was damaged by that incident and other security work in Iraq.
“They have established themselves as the bad guys,” said Katy Helvenston, who sued the company following her son’s death during a mission in Fallujah while working for Blackwater in 2004. “They’ve established such a horrible reputation. Why else would they change their name?”
Blackwater acknowledged last year in an interview with the The Associated Press the damage to its reputation had persuaded the company to focus on lines of business other than private security contracting.
The issue came to a head last month, when the State Department said it would not rehire Blackwater to protect its diplomats in Iraq after its current contract with the company expires in May. The company has one other major security contract, details of which are classified.
“It’s not a direct result of a loss of (that) contract, but certainly that is an aspect of our work that we feel we were defined by,” said spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell.
The company is also replacing its bear paw logo with a sleeker black-and-white graphic based on letters that make up the company’s new name. In a note to employees, president Gary Jackson said the name change reflects the company’s new focus, and he indicated Xe would not actively pursue new security business.
“This company will continue to provide personnel protective services for high-threat environments when needed by the U.S. government, but its primary mission will be operating our training facilities around the world,” Jackson said.
It has expanded other businesses such as aviation support, recently building a fleet of 76 aircraft that it has deployed to such hotspots as West Africa and Afghanistan. The company got its start in training and continues to build up that business. Last year, some 25,000 civilians, law enforcement and military personnel attended a Blackwater class.
The company’s changes aren’t entirely voluntary. The 2007 shooting in Nisoor Square involving Blackwater guards left at least a dozen Iraqi civilians dead, infuriated politicians in Baghdad and Washington, triggered congressional hearings and increased calls that the company be banned from Iraq.
Late last year, prosecutors charged five of the company’s contractors — but not Blackwater itself — with manslaughter and weapons violations. In January, Iraqi officials said they would not give the company a license to operate. The State Department responded by informing Blackwater it would not renew a contract that comprises a third of the company’s nearly $1 billion in annual revenue.
“It would hurt us,” company CEO Erik Prince said in an interview before losing the State Department deal. “It would not be a mortal blow, but it would hurt us.”
Blackwater has rebranded before, introducing a new name — Blackwater Worldwide — and slight changes to its logo about a year ago. But Friday’s announcement cuts ties entirely with a name created in 1997 when Prince and some of his former Navy SEAL colleagues launched the company.
Xe will cover the parent brand for the two-dozen subsidiaries, and none of those subsidiaries will retain the word “Blackwater” in their names.
Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and a longtime Blackwater critic, said the new name won’t change the fact that its actions have resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.
“Blackwater’s notorious reputation will outlast its name,” she said.
Can Congress “walk and chew gum at the same time?”This phrase used by President Lyndon Johnson for one of his political opponents comes to mind at a time early in the first 100 days of the Obama Administration when supposedly many long-overdue changes and rollbacks are possible.It is not just that Congress is completely absorbed with the tax-cut-stimulus package. It is stasis that seems to be enveloping, even within its numerous well-funded and staffed committees in the House and Senate, from even the signaling of serious movement toward rolling back Bush-pushed legislation and starting widely supported forays that take hope to change. The continuation of this state of stasis is made more likely because the Republican minority is feeling its oats. It put the White House on the defensive during the struggle to enact economic recovery legislation even though previous Republican policies and coddling of Wall Street for eight years build a steep cliff for financial collapse. Add the de-regulatory moves of 1999 and 2000 by the Clinton-Rubin crowd and the financial meltdown accelerates.There is something else operating. One gets the feel on Capitol Hill among some fairly sharp people of a lack of horizon, a paucity of progressive determination, a sense of being overwhelmed by the corporate forces still bearing down on Congress—easily the most powerful branch of government under our Constitution. But Congress does not act as if it is the most powerful branch. It routinely abdicates its constitutional responsibilities—the declaration of war authority and the plenary authority to investigate and require access to information in the executive branch.Even after the Democrats took control of the Congress in January 2007, George W. Bush again and again got his way including a rubber stamp for the huge Iraq and Afghanistan war budgets outside of the normal appropriations processes.Efforts by Senator Russ Feingold and Cong. John Conyers to move a modest censure resolution of Bush and Cheney for their many constitutional and statutory violations were aggressively rejected by their leaders—Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. In January 2007, Pelosi and Reid two took impeachment off the table allowing the most chronically impeachable presidency in our history to continue undisturbed.Some staffers in Congress privately assert that the Democrats are not acting like a majority party. It is worse than that. They are not acting—period.From their majority status in 2007 to 2009 and a Democratic President in the White House, the Congressional Democrats are not moving swiftly to repeal the ban on Uncle Sam negotiating drug prices from volume discounts under the drug benefit law. They are not moving to amend the Patriot Act, regain control of warrantless surveillance, strengthen the corporate criminal laws and enforcement budgets. Congress is not even pushing to require taxing Hedge Fund manager’s income as ordinary income not as capital gains.I cite these policies because they are policies much favored by many Democratic lawmakers. But in practice lawmakers duck and duck and duck from translating their beliefs into contentious action vis-à-vis the lobbyists and their captive legislators.Senator Chris Dodd and the vast majority of the American people want to do something about credit card company abuses and gouges. But he is surrounded not just by the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committees but high-ranking Democrats beholden to the financial goliaths who, are demanding and receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.There is word from the politicians that consideration of health care insurance—apart from a quickly enacted expansion of some coverage for more poor children—will be put off for a year. The trade unions’ top priority to enact labor law reforms, supported by Obama during his presidential campaign, are being held back by the Democrats.There is even doubt whether the District of Columbia will get a voting Representative in the House when push comes to shove in the Senate.The one-subject-at-a-time attitude is coming from the White House. “Obama doesn’t want it now” is a common phrase used by legislators to excuse themselves from exercising the separate but equal Congressional powers. This pretext applies to taking away some of the hugely expensive and unnecessary weapons systems like the F-22 aircraft decried by many military and retired military analysts. The vast, bloated military budget is sacrosanct on Capitol Hill as it is in the White House. At a time of widely perceived needs for Congressional action, with large corporations busy applying for corporate welfare and on the defensive, the Democrats are not generating any momentum for standing for and with the people. Even in the midst of food contamination, illnesses and fatalities, they cannot turn around forty years of delay on giving the Food and Drug Administration adequate authority and inspectors to protect our food supply.It is going to take a very focused civic jolt from you all to your Senators and Representatives. A couple of million jolters from our large country can get the train moving on the tracks. It doesn’t take much time to holler, yell or bellow with the facts.
From: Prison Planet.comPaul Joseph Watson
Friday, February 13, 2009One of a plethora of cover-ups surrounding 9/11 is the FBI’s contention that the black boxes onboard the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were never found, a claim that has been further discredited following the news that the black box onboard flight Q400 that crashed last night in New York was found within 15 hours.
The FBI told the 9/11 Commission that the black boxes from Flight 11 and Flight 175, despite being built to withstand direct full speed crashes and temperatures of 1800-degrees, were never discovered in the wreckage at ground zero. They also claimed that the voice recorder from Flight 77 and the flight data box from Flight 93 were damaged beyond recovery.
It is incredibly rare that black boxes remain undiscovered after a plane crash, and considering that the WTC site was meticulously cleaned up to the point where tiny bone fragments were recovered, it is inconceivable that the black boxes could have been completely lost, even if they were damaged beyond repair.
In 2004, New York firefighters Mike Bellone and Nicholas DeMasi went public to say they had found the black boxes at the World Trade Center, but were told to keep their mouths shut by FBI agents. Nicholas DeMasi said that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate the devices, a story backed up by rescue volunteer Mike Bellone.
“At one point, I was asked to take Federal Agents around the site to search for the black boxes from the planes,” he wrote. “We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV,” said DeMasi.
“At one point, Bellone said he observed the team with a box that appeared charred but was redish-orange with two white stripes. Pictures of the flight recorders on the NTSB and other Web sites show devices that are orange, with two white stripes,” reported the newspaper.
“There was the one that I saw, and two others were recovered in different locations - but I wasn’t there for the other two,” Bellone said. He said the FBI agents left with the boxes.”
Suspicions surrounding the so-called failure to locate the black boxes at the World Trade Center can only be heightened by the news that the black box from last night’s tragic plane crash in Buffalo was discovered within a mere 15 hours.
Furthermore, both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were in perfect condition, as you can see from the image below.
“The black box of a commercial airliner that nose-dived into a Buffalo house in New York has been retrieved, about 15 hours after the incident,” reports Press TV.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder “have been found and they are on their way back here,” said Ted Lopatkiewicz a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), AFP reported on Friday.
The motivation behind lying about the recovery of the black boxes on 9/11 is obvious - any aspect of the recordings of the onboard conversations between the pilots or the movements of their plane that didn’t coalesce with the official story would have destroyed the fairy tale that was being constructed around the attacks in the very minutes and hours after they started to unfold.
Questions about how a handful of men with box cutters could have overpowered burly ex-military pilots and scores of passengers with apparent ease would not have gone unanswered.
The circumstances surrounding the Buffalo crash and the Beijing skyscraper fire are two events that happened in the same week which offer stark contradictions and only place the credibility of the official 9/11 story further in doubt.
No mention of ice being a problem for aircraft. There is a brief incidental mention that there is an area of icing, nut it is clear that nobody sees this as a problem.
No mention of any problems at all.
3407 is there one moment, then gone the next.
Now, look at this line from the transcript.
17:40 - delta 1998: uh negative, delta 1998, we're just in the bottoms and nothing on the TKs
Listening to the tape, it sounds like what the pilot of 1998 said was "... nothing on the TCAS."
TCAS (pronounced T-cass) stands for Traffic Collision Avoidance System, which sends out a lower power non-directional radar pulse and listens for any aircraft transponders in the vicinity. in order to warn pilots of close approaching aircraft. So, what the pilot of Delta 1998 is saying is that at the time ATC asked him to look for a Dash-8 at 2300, 3407's radar transponders had quit working.
One final note. If the Air Traffic Controller is telling the pilot of Delta 1998 to look at 2300 feet altitude for the Dash 8, then that means the last altitude reading returned to the ATC was 2300 feet. Air Traffic radar never received a return showing a loss of altitude, which strongly suggests that the aircraft's entire electrical system quit working while the plane was still half a mile in the air.
Jean Srnecz Dies in Plane Crash
February 13, 2009 - 6:26pm — Bibliofuture
Jean Srnecz, senior v-p of merchandising for Baker & Taylor, was one of the victims of the Continental Connection Flight 3407 plane that crashed last night, February 12, outside the Buffalo airport. Srnecz, who was on a trip to visit family, was a highly regarded and well-known member of the publishing industry and served on the boards of the Book Industry Study Group and Educational Paperback Association.
Friday February 27th will begin the four day Powershift 2009 conference, which is set to become the largest ever youth conference on climate change. But history will be made on Monday, March 2nd, when thousands of youth lobby Congress and thousands of others march to the Capitol Coal Plant to take part in what should become the largest ever act of climate change related civil disobedience.
Over 10,000 high school and college aged students are expected to turn out to this year’s Powershift conference. 2007’s conference had thousands of attendees and speakers such as Van Jones, Ralph Nader and Nancy Pelosi. This year is expecting some of the same big names, and more.
From: http://sootandashes.blogspot.comFebruary 13, 2009When the real story is told, one of the most important chapters will be how Ayn Rand, via Alan Greenspan, took over the American financial system And then brought about its collapse.I give you in its entirety an important and amazingly prescient Op-Ed from 2000 by Ralph Nader on Alan Greenspan, his association with Ayn Rand, and the destruction of the American financial regulatory apparatus.Which as we know now destroyed the American financial system, and led to one of the biggest financial collapses in world history.Greenspan Shrugged: The Reserve Chair's Philosophy Differs Little From His Ayn Rand Days
by Ralph Nader
Published on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
Last year Congress made Federal Reserve Board chair Alan Greenspan a virtual regulatory czar over financial services corporations. Considering the waves of adulation that have been sweeping over Greenspan, the anointment was not a surprise.
It would be reasonable to assume that before placing this important regulatory power under the Federal Reserve, Congress undertook a careful review of Greenspan's regulatory philosophy and record. You can toss that assumption in the nearest trash can.
Congress knows little and cares less about how Greenspan views the government's role in protecting the public interest and the public purse. The same is true for the three presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and William Clinton -- who have appointed and reappointed Greenspan to four terms as chair of the Federal Reserve.
A causal observer of Senate confirmation hearings would be led to believe that financial regulation has nothing to do with the job of Federal Reserve chair. The issue never comes up. It is the rarest of occurrences when a congressional oversight hearing places a Federal Reserve official in the dock over financial regulatory shortcomings.
Yet Congress, with only half-hearted opposition from the Clinton administration's Treasury Department, handed Greenspan and the Federal Reserve the regulatory plums when it authorized the merger of banks, securities firms, and insurance companies under common ownership in giant conglomerates. The safety and soundness of the nation's financial system will rest heavily on how vigorously the Federal Reserve carries out its responsibility.
For longtime watchers of Greenspan the move was incongruous, if not outright risky. As a disciple of Ayn Rand, later as an economic guru for the Republican Party, and still later as a lobbyist for financial corporations, Greenspan has disagreed with regulation as a tool to protect consumers and the well-being of a free enterprise economy.Greenspan has argued that the self-interest of the corporations – the desire of corporations to protect their reputation – was all that was necessary for consumer protection.
In an article published in 1963 as part of Ayn Rand's book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Greenspan declared that protection of the consumer against "dishonest and unscrupulous business was the cardinal ingredient of welfare statism."
"Regulation which is based on force and fear undermines the moral base of business dealings," he wrote. "Protection of the consumer by regulation ... is illusory."
Some may well argue that these diatribes against regulation were part of a passing phase in Greenspan's career. Perhaps, but this philosophy was alive and well when Greenspan, as a consultant-lobbyist, badgered federal regulators. In one case, Greenspan intervened directly with the principal regulator of Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings in an attempt to gain special exemptions from regulations for the institution. Risky investments ultimately brought Lincoln Savings down, sent Keating to jail, and cost the taxpayers $2.5 billion. Greenspan became chair of the Federal Reserve.
Greenspan's antiregulation philosophy continues to crop up at the Federal Reserve. Not only has the General Accounting Office raised questions about the efficacy of the Federal Reserve's regulation of bank holding companies, but Greenspan has erected roadblocks to the collection of data important to consumer protection and fair lending as well.
In 1996 Greenspan was urged to help in the enforcement of fair lending laws by collecting data on the race and gender of applicants for small business and consumer loans. Despite pleas from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, Greenspan and his fellow governors blocked the proposal.
This year Greenspan decided to end the collection of nationwide data on bank fees. The survey, which was authorized as part of the financial reforms adopted in 1989, has proven an excellent tool that consumer groups have used to highlight and battle the excessive fees that banks impose on consumers.
Similarly, the Federal Reserve is dropping its "Functional Cost Analysis" study, which has provided important data on how much it costs banks to provide services. This has been a great tool for measuring the validity of bank charges. Credit unions, particularly, have made good use of this data to dramatize fee and interest rate gouging by banks.
But if we believe the words of Greenspan during his Ayn Rand period, he probably doesn't see any need for such data, much less regulation.
And if anyone complains about the loss of such consumer and fair-lending information, Greenspan could send them this excerpt from his writings with Ayn Rand: "Government regulation is not an alternative means of protecting the consumer. It does not build quality into goods, or accuracy into information. Its sole contribution is to substitute force and fear for incentive as the 'protector' of the consumer. The euphemisms of government press releases to the contrary notwithstanding, the basis of regulation is armed force. At the bottom of the endless pile of paper work which characterizes all regulation lies a gun."
And this is the Alan Greenspan who Congress believes should protect the public interest in the regulation of the new financial conglomerates?
Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview (1/3)
Posted by keith
The Transpartisan Alliance is an informal network of networks facilitating cooperation among individuals and organizations from all political points of view.
1) To engage the passion, brilliance and creativity of average citizens in a search for solutions to our most pressing challenges, and 2) empower a unified political voice capable of restoring a balance of power between the government, corporations, and the American people.
Principles agreed to by all Americans — unity, equality, liberty, dignity and self governance.
Brent McMillian, Political Director, Green Party
Fred Smith, President, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Nancy Ross, Political Director, Committee for a Unified Independent Party
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
Michelle Bernard, President, Independent Women’s Forum
Jodie Evans, Co-founder, Codepink Women for Peace
Mark Gerzon, Author, Leading Through Conflict, President, Mediators Foundation
Jesse Benton, Communications Director, Campaign for Liberty (Ron Paul)
Jackie Johnson, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians
Rob Richie, Executive Director, FairVote.org
Maya Enista, CEO, Mobilize.org
Sandy Heierbacher, Director, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation
Joan Blades, Co-founder, MoveOn.org, President, MomsRising.org
Michael Ostrolenk, Founder, Liberty Coalition
Peggy Holman, Author, The Change Handbook
Chris Bui, Founder, 5th Medium I.C.
John Steiner, Chair, Transpartisan Center
John Briscoe, Vice President, Common Cause
David Korten, Co-founder, Positive Futures Network
Cheryl Graeve, Membership Director, League of Women Voters
Juanita Brown, Co-founder, The World Cafe
J. Manuel Herrera, Silicon Valley elected official
Steve Bhaerman, Political comedian, Department of Heartland Security
In addition, they are convening a Transpartisan Cabinet which includes:
Monetary reform leader Ron Paul, co-founder of MoveOn.org and President of Momsrising.org Joan Blades, conservative activist Grover Norquist, co-founder of the Liberty Coalition Michael Ostrolenk, former Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney, human potential movement visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard, humorist Steve Bhaerman, and director of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party Jackie Salit. Pending invitations include Ralph Nader, as well as former Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin.
A close look at the composition of their Board of Advisors and Cabinet reveals some controversial groups that have been maligned on mainstream political media in one form or another like Code Pink and the CUIP. However, some of the other groups have solid reputations and are well-regarded as serious organizations even by those among the mainstream: FairVote, Common Cause, the Green Party, MoveOn, League of Women Voters.
This gathering appears to be the first major effort in recent years to organize third parties, reform organizations and other non-mainstream political reform groups under one umbrella. It would be interesting to see how Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader can find common ground with Ron Paul and Grover Norquist. Or for that matter, the CUIP with the League of Women Voters; FairVote and Common Cause with Code Pink. I will admit that I am unfamiliar with the other groups involved. But I am fascinated that this effort is even happening. Can something useful and productive come out of it? It is too early to tell. But I will be watching this effort closely in the next few months to see how it develops.
by Debbie MenonNo one in Mainstream US media, is addressing the real problem which is, the fact that nothing contrary to Zionist, Israeli and American Jewish lobbies, AIPAC and other Pacs interests, which are all-dominating in the American political scene, will go very far. Anyone who supports such a move will have no tomorrow in American politics or business. They will be Finkelsteined to death by the Zionist assassins.
Recently, a group of very high-minded and virtuous but, retired diplomats and academics who do not owe their future success to AIPAC or any Israeli lobbies, asked the question: "Can Obama Untangle the Iranian Challenge?" But the question they should be asking is: "Can Obama escape the dominating influence of AIPAC and the American Jewish/Zionist Israeli lobby?"
The answer is "probably not and live."
It isn't enough, I think, just to point out that in the US, Jews have acquired the lion's share of many key political appointments in the US Administration. It is a known fact and I iterate it was 56% in the Clinton years, and almost the same in the Bush years and we are beginning to see the same shape in the formation of Obama administration. Even that Congress has been largely compromised by AIPAC and the brigade of Jewish PACs in the US — is all true, and apparent of course.
In my recent essay I mentioned my fading faith, hope, trust and expectations in Barack O'Bama. That was before I read Christopher Bollyn's article illustrating the Israeli Zionists in the Obama Administration and the US Government, The Israeli Who Runs the Obama White House - bollyn and the way they "fixed" the entire US Presidential elections, and created a dramatic charade, including the comedy team of McCain and Palin. With Obama refurnishing the White House with Clinton leftovers and resurrections, it is beginning to look like business as usual and nothing has changed since the regime of Lyndon Johnson, the Clintons, the Bushes, et al.
The New Emperor's new robes are being cut and tailored of the same material and by the same City Island tailors as his predecessors!
So much for dreams, ideals, hope and promises of change.
The question is why a large majority of the American people go along with this entire exercise? And when did it all start?
The answer to the second question came from an Israeli diplomat who lectured to a class at Georgetown in the late 1980s, I am told by Professor Alan Sabrosky, who taught at the University, a course on Comparative Foreign Policy, among others, and had 3-4 diplomats from different countries in to the class each semester that at dinner with the Israeli diplomat and two students, he remarked during the conversation that the real turning point in Israel's approach to the US had come in the wake of the 1956 War, when President Eisenhower had ordered Israel, Britain and France to "cease & desist" and return home. He said the Israeli Embassy tried to get to Congress to reverse that decision, and found that in fact they had access to only two "minor Congressional offices" (his phrase, I remember it clearly says Prof. Alan Sabrosky). So, they set about crafting a network of PACs and other things to reverse that state of affairs. One of the students asked "how many Congressional offices they could access successfully now?" (that was in late 1980s please note)– and with a satisfied smile, he remarked "Almost all of them." The students faces registered astonishment, so he quickly added words to the effect that "But of course, we don't control them, they still act in the best interests of the American people," but the students didn't believe him, and there you have it…."
Admittedly, the more I read, the More I realize why it took the American people so long to react to Bush Administration idiocy. Too many obstacles, making it a monumental task.
I suppose when so many people in comparable positions have a consensus on something (like "thou shalt not allow criticism of Israel"), you don't need a conspiracy. There are so many Jewish PACs, besides AIPAC. There exists a coordinating agency called "The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations," Their website (www.conferenceofpresidents.org/) is worth exploring (and AIPAC is just one of literally dozens of organizations under its umbrella).
With all the money, political and corporate connections they have at their disposal they must certainly have a tremendously powerful influence over the ambitious and greedy men and women who enter politics. But to practically dominate everyone in the game, including those with the popular support which both Obama and Bush have experienced, and including the statistical minority of what I might assume to be "honest men of principle," (or am I being naive in believing that any such still exist?) is astounding.
The answer to the first question is partly because a key part of that program, has been the steady diet of images fed to the general American population. For bad or worse, a large majority of the general American public get their impressions and opinions about the world at large from fiction: movies, television shows, and novels. For half a century, thanks to many of the people who sit on the Boards of Directors and in the executive suites of studios and networks, they have been fed a constant stream of messages around certain core themes: (a) poor, brave, misunderstood little Israel as America's only true friend in the world; (b) the dirty, dangerous, barbaric, and malevolent Arab as the direct lineal successor to the architects of the Holocaust; and (c) more recently, Islam through Islamic terr'rists as the only direct threat to Israel, the United States, and Western civilization and culture generally. Those messages until recently were rarely in the form of the "in-your-face" overt propaganda, but a form of low-level political socialization that becomes part of the background against which opinions are formed, and thus more pervasive and more enduring than mass parades with people carrying banners and shouting slogans. After more than a half-century of this "diet," the dumbest had a greater capacity for independent thought than the average American hearing the words "Israel" and "(Palestinian) Arab."
This "steady diet of imagery" coming out of Hollywood and the Infotainment Industry for nearly a hundred years now has been insidious and we cannot ignore who the initial investors and funders of the industry were, and still are, and where they came from.
A great proportion of those beautiful and handsome "movie stars" with the exotic names who set the scene for what the "normal" American should strive to become, were of Eastern European extraction. Google and then try to persuade me that they are proportionally representative of the incidence of Jewry in the American population. Check the names of Studio Owners, Producers, Directors, Writers, any one in the Movie and Infotainment profession, and tell me that they are proportionally representative!
Hollywood is and has been for nearly a century, one of the most intense and tightly organized, efficient and malevolent propaganda and thought control machines in the world. It was during the Korean War that the US Government invented and promoted what they called "brainwashing," which they attributed to the North Koreans, but which they have been employing in Hollywood for fifty or sixty years already. One cannot over-emphasize the "images" aspect insofar as the general American public is concerned, and how it enables AIPAC and company to leverage Congress. And it is not only Hollywood and the New York TV industry; it is also publishing houses and major newspaper chains, all of which send images to the public. These have increasingly over more than a half-century molded how most Americans "feel" about the Middle East, and Israel and the Arab (now more broadly Muslim) states/peoples in particular. And especially Israel as a state and Arabs as people, now terr'rists, have become embedded in their cultural and emotional background.
So when anti-apartheid leaders like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are dis-invited from lecturing at American colleges and universities because of their public opposition to Israel's maltreatment of the Palestinians, and plays like "My Name is Rachel Corrie" is scrubbed from major theaters (but does appear in smaller ones), all under pressure from Jewish organizations and donors, virtually no one thinks to quarrel with the decisions, or even wonder why.
Can President Obama change anything?
Yep! He could start 1) Appoint some people that represent real change such as Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Paul Krugman, Paul Findley or Robert Reich, Ariana Huffington, Robert Kennedy Jr., Paul Craig Roberts, some folks from The Nation, etc.
2) Keep the discussion on the costs of 2 very expensive wars that have accomplished next to nothing (other than enriching the war profiteers). (Seven years and still no Osama bin Laden; can you imagine fighting WWII and say you could never find Hitler??)
3) Use money for the crumbling infrastructure in the U.S. Discuss costs in terms of Months of Iraq War/Occupation— how many MIWs for the loan to the Big Three auto companies or how many MIWs for Universal Health Care coverage etc.
4) Get to the root cause of Arab frustration and anger festering for decades. For starters, by simply ordering that Israel immediately lift the Gaza blockade, so Palestinians smoldering from the Israeli siege that killed 1,285 people - nearly 70% of them civilians, destroyed at least 4,000 homes, that sent more than 50,000 people to temporary shelters in the recent blitz, could begin to get bread, clean water, medicines and electricity, the basic essentials for their survival. His silence on the issue speaks louder than words.
Yes, he can, but he won't!
Even as President, he is powerless without his support system, and it apparently is AIPAC.
He could appoint anyone he wanted, and I have no doubt it would be a simple matter to find men and women of high ideals and standards who would willingly go to work to correct many of the ills which affect US Government and which we had hoped he would attack, and correct… if that were his objective.
But, it makes little difference, however, whether that is his objective or not, because it would be absolutely impossible to carry it out against the will of AIPAC!
If he were to promote a program which went against the aims of AIPAC, with the entrenched powers and the deep penetration they have infiltrated throughout the system, he and his loyal Lieutenants would never find sufficient and dedicated people who would be willing to sacrifice their careers in government service, nor their passes through that revolving door between government, and Corporate/Self-service, of which AIPAC is the doorman, and the overseer and keeper of the Chalice of Post-Government Service lucrative relocation and $ucce$$.
For most of that hustling crowd in Washington, D.C., government service is a short-time stepping stone to bigger and better things. That AIPAC doorman guards the gates to the afterlife.
Walt and Mersheimer are correct! "They" run the show! They write the script, stage the production, sell the tickets, usher the audience to their seats, operate the lights and stage effects, write the Sunday morning reviews, and select casts for the next production. They also take the receipts to their own bank.
The Presidency and every simple job in US Government is controlled by the Israel Lobby. If they do not actually select those who get the positions, they certainly ensure that those whom they do not want to have them do not! If you wish to apply for a position trimming hedges on the landscaping staff of the White House, it is best to drop in and pay your respects at the local AIPAC office and the synagogue on your way to the Employment Office.
About the author: Debbie Menon is an independent writer based in Dubai. She can be reached at email@example.com.
http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htmBrowser support: Firefox — many Sherlock and OpenSearch plugins; we don't test them
Microsoft IE7 / IE8 — paste http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=TEST in their box
Opera — find ...\opera\profile\search.ini on the disk and make a backup. Replace Google's URL
with http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=%s and use "g search terms" in the address bar
From: http://web.hamline.edu/personal/jgeorge/index.html (an Anarchist Librarian)
"Beyond Utopia Lies Anarchism" is a cataloging in-joke (yes, there are such things!) It pays homage to the fact that library classification schemes place materials on anarchism after materials on utopias. It also reflects the belief that anarchism is different from the unattainable perfection of utopia (which, after all, is Greek for "not a place"). Anarchism is no mere story for idle dreamers. Anarchism is a living, breathing, body of thought intended to be put into practice.
"Illiteracy blinds the spirit. Study, soldier."
This is a reproduction of an anti-illiteracy poster produced by the CNT during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.
As the country's largest labor union, the anarcho-syndicalist CNT played a prominent role in the struggle against the fascists.
Supreme Court says Mexican police were abusive in retaking townMexico's Supreme Court says police committed serious abuses when trying to retake control of a rebellious town outside the capital three years ago.
The Supreme Court has ruled that police should be investigated for their conduct in San Salvador Atenco, although it absolves the state governor and federal officials who ordered the raid. The non-binding decision came Thursday.
Police intervened in San Salvador Atenco in May 2006 to end protests that erupted after authorities tried to prevent street vendors from setting up stands in a nearby city.
Some of the demonstrators kidnapped and beat six policemen.
Nearly two dozen women detained by police were sexually abused. Others were beaten.
[Annette Garcia in Southern California should be on the list at the end - I read almost NOTHING about her case of police murder]
Contributed by: avocado
Thursday, February 12 2009
18-year-old Mark Kilcline was shot 9 times in his home by North Kingstown police after they were answering a call to "check on his well being." Kilcline is in Rhode Island Hospital's intensive care unit, with 3 bullets in his face.On Sunday, February 8th, North Kingstown, Rhode Island police answered a call to "check on the well being" of teen Mark Kilcline after receiving a call from the mother of Kilcline's friend. Kilcline was living with the grandmother of another friend, and his mental health was delicate. He was getting dressed so his friend's grandmother could drive him to a local mental health hospital when 3 North Kingstown police burst through the door to his bedroom. According to the police (who were the only witnesses), Kilcline was holding a knife, and the police allegedly tried tasing him and when that didn't work, opened fire, shooting him in the body 9 times and in the face 3 times. One cop was shot in the arm, but is recovering. Following the incident, the three cops were given what is essentially a paid vacation, while Kilcline remains in critical condition in Rhode Island hospital. Local mainstream news have focused heavily on the accidental shooting of the cop, while Kilcline's condition seems to be of little concern, perhaps based on his disputed "innocence." Why police trained "to maim, not to kill" would open fire on the head of teenager also remains unquestioned by mainstream news sources.
Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Oscar Grant III, among countless others, and now this. Demand Police accountability. End state violence everywhere.
From: http://stereogum.comIt's unclear what's happening just yet, but photos of Trent hanging out in his studio with Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins, and Dave Navarro have surfaced at nin.com (one with Reznor and a shadowy Perry Farrell is on the main page as we speak). Rolling Stone's Smoking Section has the pic of Trent and Navarro. Chances are they're not working on Niggy Tardust! II.
Online retail giant Amazon has yanked from its virtual shelves a Japanese computer game that lets players simulate raping girls. A "Rapelay" videogame being hawked on Amazon by a third-party merchant was deemed inappropriate and the product's page taken down after it was brought to the California Internet firm's attention Wednesday night. "We determined that we did not want to be selling this particular item," Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said of the computer game. The "Rapelay" game was created exclusively for the Japanese market but a couple of "like new" copies were being offered on Amazon by a US seller specializing in animated Japanese pornography. The computer game maker, Illusion studio based in Japan, posts a notice on its website that its products are specifically for domestic users. "As we say on the website, we don't sell the products overseas because of the rating problem, and I cannot possibly comment on the report from San Francisco," said a spokesman for the company in Yokohama, near Tokyo. "We believe there is no problem with the software, which has cleared the domestic ratings of an ethics watchdog body," he said. The game was released in 2006. Other titles from the studio include "Battle Raper" and "Artificial Girl."
The language is softened and deceptive. The strategy and tactics are not. The "war on terror" continues. Promised change is talk, not policy. Just look at Obama's "war cabinet," discussed in an earlier article. It assures:-- the "strongest military on the planet" by outspending all other countries combined;-- continued foreign wars;-- possible new ones in prospect; on February 7, vice-president Joe Biden outlined continuity of the Bush administration's policy toward Iran, including "preventive" wars under the National Security Strategy; demands also that Iran abandon its legal nuclear program meaning nothing going forward will change;-- permanent occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is planned;-- a reinvented "Cold War" with Russia; perhaps also with China; "draw(ing) a new 'iron curtain' (between these) formidable Eurasian powers" to prevent their alliance from challenging America, according to F. William Engdahl;-- an "absolute" commitment "to eliminating the threat of terrorism (with) the full force of our power;"-- inciting instability for imperial gain, especially in resource-rich parts of the world;-- militarizing America; keeping Bush administration police state laws in force; dealing with a deepening economic crisis by preparing for hard line crackdowns should popular unrest arise; and-- readying for another major false flag attack? Three times in his final week in office, George Bush warned: "Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again. There's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict damage on America - Americans. And that'll be the major threat. The most important job (for) the next president is....to protect the American people from another attack."Late last year, similar talk came from figures like then Senator Joe Biden. In October, he told a Seattle audience that "We're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test" Obama's mettle. He called it a "guarantee (and a) promise" and assured "tough (and) unpopular" decisions would follow.Others like Colin Powell, Madeline Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Joe Lieberman gave similar warnings. The UK Defence Ministry said Britain is teeming with extremists who'll attempt another London "spectacular," perhaps at airports, Parliament, Whitehall or Buckingham palace. Press reports circulated with London's Al-Quds Al-Arabi suggesting a forthcoming attack that will "change the face of world politics and economics." The London Times said Obama got "ominous advice from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to brace himself for an early assault from terrorists." Other media reports and from officials believe a new attack will rally popular support behind the president, but Ron Paul warned earlier that America "is determined to have martial law (to get people) fearful enough that they will accept the man on the white horse." It's an old tactic as far back as Plato. Reflecting on terrorism, false flag or real, he said: "This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears (as) a protector."James Madison believed "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy," and according to Hitler: "Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death." Stalin added: "The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. (People) will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened."American history is replete with them:-- criminalizing dissent under the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts;-- suspending habeas and civil liberties during the Civil War;-- the Espionage (and) Sedition Acts during WW I;-- numerous Red scares, before and after WW I; and-- a history of repression against dissent, political opposition, subversion, people of color, the poor and disadvantaged, and anything called "un-American."Pre-WW II repression was the most sustained legislative assault on civil liberties in the nation's history:-- the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act imprisoning anyone so-designated who was unregistered with the Secretary of State; -- enforcement of the 1917 Espionage Act; -- the 1934 - 1937 and 1938 House Un-American Activities Committees; the former against fascist subversion; the latter targeting suspected communists; then a standing or permanent committee from 1945 - 1975, again against communists;-- the 1939 Hatch Act excluding suspected communists from government jobs and restricting government employee freedoms;-- the 1940 Smith Act against suspected communists; prohibiting the advocacy of sedition; and requiring non-citizen adults to register with the government within four months or be prosecuted; and-- the 1940 Nationality Act that stripped naturalized immigrants of their citizenship for espousing "radical" views.Post-Pearl Harbor, tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans (between 110,000 - 120,000) were interned plus smaller numbers of Germans and Italians suspected of having Axis sympathies. Conscientious objectors were also targeted and imprisoned. An Office of Censorship was established. Dissent was stifled. Sedition trials were held. So were others for spying, suspected treason, anyone accused of un-American sympathies, and many convictions, denaturalizations, and/or deportations resulted.Post-WW II brought McCarthyism; civil liberties struggles; internal spying; COINTELPRO against the American Indian Movement, Black Panthers, and other targeted organizations. Then Ronald Reagan's war on international terrorism to George Bush's police state version - now continued under Barack Obama.Also, "Remember the Maine," Pearl Harbor I, Gulf of Tonkin, Pearl Harbor II, and the wars in each case that followed.Prospective Economic and Military Dangers In his latest article, "The Looming Crisis at the Pentagon," Chalmers Johnson explains "How Taxpayers Finance Fantasy Wars." He cites daily headlines about US industries (like autos) losing out to emerging economies that have outpaced us "in innovative design, price, quality, service, and fuel economy, among other things."Less known is a crisis within "the military-industrial complex (with) roots in (long-standing) corrupt and deceitful practices (within the Pentagon, defense establishment, and) Congressional opportunists and criminals" looking to cash in on business for their districts and further their own self-interest. No promised change is forthcoming. Obama assures business as usual, perhaps more so than ever. He wants to "invest in a 21st century military," raise spending to higher levels, increase the army by 65,000 and marines by 27,000, double the US occupation force in Afghanistan, project greater naval strength, expand the offensive national missile defense by spending tens of billions more for it, maintain absolute supremacy in space, and militarize America for greater control at home."Given our economic crisis, the estimated trillion (or more) dollars we spend each year on the military and its weaponry is simply unsustainable....We face a double crisis at the Pentagon: we can no longer afford the pretense of being the Earth's sole superpower (nor) a system (being enriched) off inferior, poorly designed (and unneeded) weapons." Yet this "ludicrously wasteful spending....has gone on for decades....for fantasy wars that will only be fought in the battlescapes and war-gaming imaginations of Defense Department planners."Given today's global economic crisis, this spending is vitally needed domestically, but don't expect reform from the Pentagon or its related interests. All actors in this game are part of a "criminal intent to turn on the spigot of taxpayer money (just like Wall Street, then) jam it so it cannot be turned off."Johnson is blunt as he always is saying:"Until we decide (or are forced) to dismantle our empire, sell off most of our (hundreds of) military bases (globally), and bring our military expenditures into line with those of the rest of the world, we are destined to go bankrupt in the name of national defense (if Wall Street doesn't do it sooner). As of this moment, we are well on our way," and no one in the Obama administration will to stop it.Ending Torture As Official Administration PolicyUnder George Bush, torture became policy through numerous "findings," Military and Executive Orders, memoranda, and memos like the infamous March 14, 2003 "Torture Memo," written by John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee and David Addington. It bypassed existing domestic and international laws to let interrogators use harsh measures amounting to torture. It said legal prohibitions don't apply when dealing with Al Queda because of presidential authorization during wartime. It "legalized" everything in the "war on terror" and sanctioned supreme presidential power.John Yoo put it this way: Inflicting "intense pain or suffering" is permissible, short of what would cause "serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, (loss of significant body functions), or permanent damage" may result. As we know, even those standards were violated, including use of psychological measures harsh enough to turn human beings into mush.On January 22, Obama signed a series of Executive Orders (nominally) ordering Guantanamo's prison closed, ignoring all the others, reviewing military trials of terror suspects, and banning the use of torture. The same day, the Center for Constitutional Rights said the following:"We welcome" this important decision. "President Obama (took a first) step in restoring the rule of law." Much more, however, must be done, and vague language must be clarified."The order to close Guantanamo....provides little detail. The government has to charge the rest of the detainees in federal criminal court (not military tribunals). There can be no third way, no new schemes." Secret CIA black sites must be closed. If not, Obama's order "is more symbolic than a true reversal." Enforcing Army Field Manual No. 27-10's provisions is crucial. We "caution that (Obama's) order may leave an escape hatch if the CIA" intends to continue certain practices. Only domestic and international laws must apply."Today's orders are filled with promise" but follow-through accountability is crucial, and individual violators must be prosecuted as "the only way to deter future lawbreakers." Domestic and international laws unequivocally ban torture of all kinds, for any purpose, with no exceptions under any conditions. By that standard, Obama's EOs fall way short. As such, they're woefully inadequate and may be little more than lip service deception to hide business as usual plans going forward.The language refers to...."individual(s) in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in an armed conflict...."It suggests that torture is permissible in non-conflict areas and everywhere by US proxies under CIA, Pentagon, or other US supervision. On February 1, the Los Angeles Times headlined: "Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool."Whatever's planned, Obama's EOs still authorize the CIA "to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States." Even worse, "Current and former US intelligence officials said that the rendition program might....play an expanded role" because it's "the main remaining mechanism....for taking suspected terrorists off the street....the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one (tool) it could not afford to discard."Another provision lets the CIA detain and interrogate suspects so long as they're not held long-term. But no definition of short or long-term is given, just the imprecise designation "transitory." Human Rights Watch (HRW) carries water for America by failing in its mandate "to protect the human rights of people around the world (by) standing with victims and activists....upholding political freedom (and) bring(ing) offenders to justice." Its Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, supports Obama by saying: "Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions even though activists globally denounce it and persons subjected to it are tortured.CIA's Long History of TortureFor over half a century, the CIA conducted experiments on various types of torture, including very harsh mind control measures. In his book, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," Alfred McCoy explained how techniques were developed, codified in manuals, used extensively in Southeast Asia, Central America, and now virtually anywhere, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and at secret US black sites globally.McCoy refers to an offshore mini-gulag of information extraction in pursuit of the "war on terror." CIA and Pentagon sites exist globally with no oversight or legal compliance. Out of sight, they're a malignant cancer - on US bases, torture ships, and in prisons of torture-friendly allies. Nothing there is banned, including physical viciousness and psychologically crippling mind control methods that turn human beings into mush.On February 5, The New York Times reported that head of CIA-designee Leon Panetta told a Senate confirmation hearing panel that in cases where interrogators can't extract vital information, he'd recommend methods excluded by the new rules. "If we had a ticking bomb situation (the old ploy that could apply to anyone for any reason), and obviously, whatever was being used I felt was not sufficient, I would not hesitate to go to the president....and request whatever additional authority I would need." Panetta also told senators that CIA employees won't face prosecution and that he'll continue practicing rendition, but not to countries "that violate our human values" - more weasel words meaning nothing beyond rhetoric to affirm the same Bush administration practices going forward.On January 11, ABC This Week's host George Stephanopolos asked Obama: "Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor....to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?"Obama responded:"....I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward." By that standard, no prosecutions will occur, and all lawless acts are permissible. Obama added:"....part of my job is to make sure that (at CIA), you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up....when it comes to national security, we have to focus on getting things right in the future (not) looking at what we got wrong in the past."In his 2006 book "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic," Chalmers Johnson called the CIA "The President's Private Army," much like Rome's praetorian guard. Its budget is black, its activities extrajudicial, and in all respects it's "the personal, secret, unaccountable army of the president" through which the most mischievous, illegal operations are conducted, including ousting democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign leaders, propping up friendly tyrants, and renditioning and torturing state enemies in global black sites. Its power is unchecked and a threat to the nation. Yet, Obama wants it strengthened, not curbed, given the possibility of martial law in the event of a national emergency. As Peter Dale Scott explained in his January 8 Global Research.ca article titled "Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War:""The US military has been training troops and police in 'civil disturbance planning' for the last three decades. The master plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, or 'Operation Garden Plot,' was developed in 1968 in response to the major protests and disturbances of the 1960s." Much more now is in place under Army Regulation 500-3 and other hard line provisions to assure "the execution of mission-essential functions without unacceptable interruption during a national security or domestic emergency." The Pentagon, CIA, and other intelligence branches along with state and local authorities are networked to implement policies nationally.Obama is doing more as well. His Justice Department is defending Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and others in a case brought by torture victim Jose Padilla for his grievous treatment and violations of his constitutional rights. Defense attorney requests for dismissing all charges are clear evidence of where Obama stands on the law, his willingness to let Bush administration officials go unpunished, and likelihood he'll continue the same practices going forward.More indications emerged as well. After Britain's High Court ruled that evidence of a UK resident's Guantanamo rendition and torture stay secret (because the Bush administration threatened to halt intelligence sharing), the Obama administration told the BBC:"The United States thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens."In response, the ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, told the press:"Hope is flickering. The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors." The ACLU asked Hillary Clinton to "reject the Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security to avoid judicial review of controversial programs" amounting to high crimes and misdemeanors. On February 9, ABC News reported that "the Obama administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc." DOJ attorney Douglas Letter argued before the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals that charges should be dismissed because state secrets and national security are involved.Five extraordinary rendition victims are involved - Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Bisher Al-Rawi, and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah. They sued Boing's Jeppesen Dataplan subsidiary for flying them to offshore secret CIA black sites where they were tortured.ACLU attorney Ben Wizner responded in shock and disappointment "that the (Obama) Justice Department (chose) to continue the Bush administration's practice of dodging judicial scrutiny of extraordinary rendition and torture." Instead of change, it intends "to stay the course. Now we must hope that the court will assert its independence by rejecting the government's false claims of state secrets and allowing the victims of torture and rendition their day in court. Our clients did not ask to be abducted, chained to the floor of planes, dressed in diapers and taken to a foreign country. If you affirm (the District Court's dismissal), plaintiffs will forever be" denied justice.Witch-Hunt Prosecutions Continuing under ObamaOn June 23, 2006 in Miami, Florida, the FBI arrested and charged seven men (called the Liberty City Seven for the impoverished Miami neighborhood where they lived) with four counts of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, in a plot to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower, Miami's FBI federal building, and possible other government sites in the city.In US v. Batiste, et al, charges were made against:-- Narseal Batiste, the claimed ringleader;-- Patrick Abraham;-- Stanley Grant Phanor;-- Naaudimar Herrera;-- Burson Augustin;-- Lyglenson Lemorin; and-- Rotschild Augustine.No crime was committed, and no firearms, explosives, or other incriminating evidence was found. Yet Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed "these men were prepared to wage a full ground war against the US....as dangerous as Al Queda," and when the indictments came down he hailed them as "yet another important victory in the war on terrorism."The men belonged to Miami's Moorish Science Temple that combines Christian, Jewish, and Islamic teachings given their common roots. Its leader is Narseal Batiste who apparently drew attention by expressing opposition to Bush administration practices no different from civil libertarians and those in the anti-war movement.As usual in these cases, two paid informants were DOJ's key witnesses. Both had shady pasts and got $130,000 for their services. The charges were entirely bogus, no more than a case of entrapment to put a ghetto face on terrorism as some in the neighborhood believed. FBI Deputy Director John Pistole even acknowledged that the alleged plot was "more aspirational than operational," or, in other words, manufactured by the Bush administration for political advantage. Usually they target Muslims. This time, poor black men were arrested. Five are American citizens, one a Haitian resident, and the other a Haitian immigrant.Twice the case went to trial, each time ending in mistrials with one defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, acquitted, tried only once, then threatened with deportation to Haiti. Nonetheless, Obama's DOJ is picking up where Bush's left off, and on January 26, The New York Times reported that "prosecutors (will) try for a third time (this week) to win convictions" after two failed efforts, but not without challenges according to legal analysts."The fear card was what they were playing," said Miami University law professor Bruce Winick. "If it didn't work (before), I think it's less likely (now) because the fear of terrorism is a little more distant in our minds."Yet one week after the second mistrial, prosecutor Richard Gregorie said another trial was necessary to "safeguard the community," meaning DOJ was embarrassed enough to try again. Law professor Jonathan Turley calls it "not a matter of the law of terrorism but the law of averages" hoping a new jury will buy what two previous ones rejected.Winick said no new evidence is expected, and this time will likely fail like the others. "It's a case where government informant(s) got a bunch of guys together" to concoct a plot for prosecutors. "It's a B movie really, more than a criminal case," yet Obama's DOJ will pursue it - a disturbing sign that business as usual is planned, more witch-hunt cases will follow, and "war on terror" efforts will persist for another four years. It's not change to believe in, in fact, none at all at a time the need is greater than ever.
Two judges pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting more than $2.6 million from a private youth detention centre in Pennsylvania in return for giving hundreds of youths and teenagers long sentences.
Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, entered plea agreements in federal court in Scranton admitting that they took payoffs from PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare, between 2003 and 2006.
"Your statement that I have disgraced my judgeship is true," Ciavarella wrote in a letter to the court. "My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame."
Conahan, who along with Ciavarella faces up to seven years in prison, did not make any comment on the case.
When someone is sent to a detention centre, the company running the facility receives money from the county government to defray the cost of incarceration. So as more children were sentenced to the detention centre, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare received more money from the government, prosecutors said.
Teenagers who came before Ciavarella in juvenile court often were sentenced to detention centres for minor offences that would typically have been classified as misdemeanours, according to the Juvenile Law Centre, a Philadelphia nonprofit group.
One 17-year-old boy was sentenced to three months' detention for being in the company of another minor caught shoplifting.
Others were given similar sentences for "simple assault" resulting from a schoolyard scuffle that would normally draw a warning, a spokeswoman for the Juvenile Law Centre said.
What is the cardinal rule to survive? Pure survival, rather than focus on any other orientation, is said to be a basic instinct of man when hard times strike. On account, it brings out the worse or best in us.
As such, today’s global recession to depression, now really deepening and going into overdrive, is compelling us to think of any ways and means to ride out the financial-economic tornado. Yet how can we do so when there are no opportunities available? How can we do so when everything is “business as usual?”
Moreover, it most surely is “business as usual” with the same out patterns present that got us all into this current dilemma in the first place. Meanwhile, the ripple effects of the crisis continue lamentably right around the world.
On account, personal efforts are not enough to handle the ongoing worsening conditions. Consequently, there must be government intervention to truly jump the economy forward, especially as the government exists for the people and not the other way around!
If this whole trouble is not a supernatural problem, but is only an artificial problem, then it can be solved in an outright fashion since it is man made. Therefore, the successful remedy can be generated, too, which involves removal of debt, the creation of which led to the most turbulent years in the history of global financial markets in that debt generation has arguably been THE main foundation for the money flow in our current model.
Consequently, governments should be compelled to infuse funds in capital or aid programs that create work and economic stimulus for their citizens rather then help the banking system carry on as usual. After all, who can borrow money from the bank if he has no means for capital growth as the foundation to pay it back with interest?
The Philippine government is currently pledging P15 Billion or $300 Million in capital from taxpayers’ money and/or from foreign borrowings for Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) to fund the payout of deposits of the closed bankrupt legality group of rural banks presumably caused by the greed and corruption of those involved. Meanwhile, we see the same pattern of wrongful behaviors around the world!
In particular and concerning the Philippines:
IMF has the forecast that Philippines has $800 Million deficit in balance of payments in 2009.
IMF AND WB loans at interest are destroying my country’s economy and the working class people who suffer increasing poverty under such an arrangement.
So what is next? Why do we need to pay interest further? How CAN we do it? The Filipinos have paid too much already. We have NO MORE to give! We cannot pay back whatever we do not have and it was an unjust transaction with which to begin such that no Filipino in his right mind would ratify it except for our wealthy elite, who took the loans for their own indirect benefits.
In the end, let’s face a hard truth in this whole matter. It is this: What kind of values do we want to promote as a society? Can we not realize that it is not the banks that matter, but the people who make up the society? If this latter view is the case, then we need to change our financial models to support them rather than use them like chattel and slave for the gains of the global business and banking tycoons.
The alternative — the one to which we are likely heading — just might be that Filipinos wind up expecting to copy the poor in Haiti in order to get ourselves out of this mess. Are we expected to live under tarps after losing our homes? Are we expected to look for food by combing garbage dumps? Must we and our children eat mud cookies because we can no longer have jobs and cannot pay for imported food?
As Penny Hess stated in “America causing world food crisis and starvation”:
Forced deregulation of world agricultural markets. Historically countries around the world produced food for themselves and their governments kept restrictions on the price of food to prevent speculation and price gouging. Haiti, where the people are today forced to subsist on a steady diet of mud, is a perfect example. Twenty-five years ago Haitian farmers grew and exported their own rice.
But in the late 1980s the U.S. backed IMF forced Haiti, as a condition for a desperately needed loan, to deregulate their markets and open them up to competition from the outside. The U.S. then dumped its government-subsidized rice onto Haiti (and many other countries around the world), selling the American rice cheaper than Haiti farmers could sell theirs for. The U.S. rice dumping brought to an abrupt halt Haiti’s own self-sufficient agricultural infrastructure and forced millions of people into desperate poverty.
U.S. Agribusiness. According to Gretchen Gordon in, The Food Crisis: Global Markets and Deregulation Strike Again, three major corporations, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge, “control the vast majority of global grain trading, while Monsanto controls more than one-fifth of the global market in seeds.”
While billions of human beings are starving, Cargill’s third quarter 2007 profits increased more than 86 percent and Monsanto’s were up 45 percent. In fact they are using the current crisis to further impose their genetically modified seeds on the peoples of the world.
Meanwhile, high salaries and compensation packages — rewards really for doing who knows what — are still given to the bankers and business tycoons even in these hard times of global financial crisis and even while President Obama and the Australian prime Minister have called for an end to unrestrained selfishness on the part of these financial speculators. At the same time, it has been reported that, in Germany, bank managers receive annual Euros 500,000.00 or $645,000 as a rough average intake.
In a similar vein, Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank AG has the total gain, including assorted benefits and shares, of Euros 14 Million or $18.9 Million. And the list goes on… and on concerning irresponsible money managers who are making out royally due to the losses of many, many others.
As such, European bankers receive astronomical, US-style compensation, which is similar to the huge rewards obtained by other financial executives in India, China, Philippines, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. Likewise, some Russian financial executives and bankers are paid in the amount of $500,000 to $5 Million range, while top Italian and French executives make $2 Million to $3 Million annually.
Similarly, Indian salaries have risen to $300,000 to $3 Million level and Mexican financial executives are making nearly $1 Million. However, chief financial executives in Japan usually receive salaries merely in the $400,000 range. All the same, many ordinary citizens around the world wallow in dreadful poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair while these financial gangsters worldwide gain from their ongoing losses.
In the end, we need to reorganize the patterns of the global economy rather than continue to throw money at useless crooks and empty remedies that, doubtlessly, do not work because, if they did, we would be seeing improvements already rather than an ever deepening crisis. Therefore, we need to start pressuring our government representatives to make the necessary radical reforms. If we not change our monetary patterns soon, the most terrible outcomes imaginable are all but assured.
Eric V. Encina, Filipino Social Creditor/Monetary Reformer, can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read other articles by Eric.
Monday, February 16
12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Love and Marriage will be a statewide rally where people from all over the state will join us on the steps of the Capitol to show our solidarity for the rights of 18,000 same-sex couples who were married and look forward to the day when those rights are available again, this time for everyone. Speakers, entertainment and thousands of like-minded people – in one spot – join us to put a FACE on the issue of true equality.
Organized by Equality Action NOW.Confirmed Appearances by:
Invocation: Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion
Gloria Allred - Defense attorney leading the case
Margaret Cho – The Cho Show
Deborah Gibson - Singer
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - The New Adventures of Old Christine
Rabbi Denise Eger – Kol Ami Congregation
Dr. Michael Gottlieb - Discoverer of AIDS
Senator Mark Leno
Selene Luna - The Cho Show
Molly McKay – Marriage Equality and singer
Shannon Minter - NCLR
Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus performing Prop 8 the Musical
Doug Spearman - Noah's Arc, EQCA Institute Board of Directors
Mandy Steckelberg – "I Love the Gays"
Pres. pro Tem Senator Darrell Steinberg
Wanda Sykes - The New Adventures of Old Christine, EQCA Institute Board of Directors
George Takei and his partner Brad Altman – Star Trek
Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas - Metropolitan Community Church
Robin Tyler - LGBT Activist and original lawsuit
Dr. Pat Washington – San Diego
Video Messages by:
Melissa Etheridge - Special video message Gavin Newsom - Mayor San Francisco, videotaped message Eric Himan - sending video message and his song "The Protest" Bruce Villanch - Comic starred in road show of Hairspray sending video message for us.
Equality Action NOW, California Outreach, Marriage Equality USA, and EQCA
activelyOUT.com, Artists Against AIDS, Bakersfield LGBTQ, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), Calafia, Catholics for Marriage Equality, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Central California Alliance, COLLAGE, Congregation Kol Ami, Courage Campaign, Create Equality, Erase the H8 Fresno, Equality Campaign, GayFresno.com, Gay-Straight Alliance for Equality (GSAFE), Gays United Network GLAAD, GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz County, Hillgirlz, Join the Impact, LGBT Sacto.com, Love Honor Cherish, Marriage Equality Silicon Valley, Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles, Million Gay March, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Noahs Arc, Our Family, Out Sacramento, Pacific Pride Foundation, Peace and Freedom Party Sacramento County Central Committee, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, Progressive Jewish Alliance, Purple Unions, Queers United, Sacramento PFLAG, Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center, Sacramento Area Gay & Lesbian Professionals Social Group, San Diego Equality Campaign, SF LGBT Community Center, Stanislaus PRIDE Center, Students for Equality, United for LGBT, White Knot
Uptown Studios, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Curve Magazine, Instinct Magazine, GayListDaily.com, Mom Guess What Sacramento Outword Magazine, Betty's List
Watch VideoAlmost everything we now do on a regular basis, from sending emails, taking photographs, writing text messages, calling on our cell phones, downloading music, typing on our computers, and using our credit and ATM cards, all of it generates information. Each bit of this information can be captured, digitized, retrieved, copied, and sent anywhere on earth. In an instant.
And every single day the endless information generated by our ever-expanding digital footprints is recorded, tracked, searched through, sold, analyzed, and saved forever.
Some might call this hyper-networked digital explosion and its potential for collaboration and innovation a kind of utopia.
But others warn that it also raises important concerns about privacy, identity, freedom of expression, accountability, and the future of democracy. They argue that our digitized world might actually be closer to the dystopias imagined in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or George Orwell"s 1984.
The only difference, as our next guest points out in his latest book, is that unlike the world of Orwell’s 1984, we have “fallen in love with this always-on world” and “accept our loss of privacy in exchange for efficiency, convenience, and small price discounts.”
Harry Lewis, the former dean of Harvard College, is the author along with Hal Abelson and Ken Ledeen of a new book that explains how the digital revolution is changing our world more profoundly than we could ever imagine. Its called “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.”
Harry Lewis, professor of computer science at Harvard and the former dean of Harvard College. He is co-author of, “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion.”
Gawande is scheduled to give the keynote speech to AHIP's annual public policy conference on March 11 in Washington, D.C.
So, I shoot off an e-mail to the New Yorker and to Gawande and ask – is Gawande being paid by the health insurance industry for this speech?
And how much has he been paid by the insurance industry for speeches in the past?
And why weren't New Yorker readers informed of his ties to the industry?
Alexa Cassanos from the New Yorker writes back first.
“Atul Gawande does not accept speaking fees from pharmaceutical or medical-device companies, and speaking payments from insurers or insurance lobbyists are relayed directly to charity,” Cassanos says.
Okay, a follow-up.
Why does he take money from the insurance industry but not from the pharmaceutical or medical device companies?
And how much has he taken from the insurance industry?
On the phone, Cassanos says “there's no story here,” but that she will try and track down the information.
I next hear from Dr. Gawande, via e-mail, who points me to a just updated (February 6, 2009) conflicts of interest disclosure statement on his web page.
In it, Gawande says: “I don't benefit financially from speaking to for-profit medical businesses (whether they are drug companies, device companies, or insurance companies) – either I'm not paid or I arrange for the fee to be donated to charity (including my family's church, our WHO work in patient safety, and a rural college my father started in India).”
I write back to Dr. Gawande.
I again ask him why he says he will not take money from medical device and pharma companies, but will take money (for his charities) from health insurance companies.
This time, he clarifies what Cassanos from the New Yorker said.
“The reason I haven't received money from for-profit drug or device manufacturers is that neither have asked me to lecture," Gawande says. "If either did and I accepted, I would donate the fee to charity or not accept the fee.”
As for his insurance industry ties, Gawande writes:
“Since I decided in April, 2007, to write on health reform policy - I spoke to AHIP once (and the fee I received was donated to charity), I've scheduled to speak to AHIP again in March (that fee will be donated to charity), and I've not lectured to any for-profit insurers.”
AHIP is of course the lobbying group (technically a non-profit) of the for-profit insurance industry.
“I would have received $31,500 in 2008 after the speaking agency's 30% fee was taken, and $28,000 in 2009,” Gawande writes.
“I chose the charities independently and AHIP is not informed whom they are," Gawande says. "The charities are the Trinity Church, Boston, the Student Education Support Association which provides for students attending a nonprofit college my father started in rural India, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital Foundation for our work with the WHO to reduce unsafe care globally – I am not permitted to benefit financially from these funds.”
Gawande does not reveal what he was paid by the insurance industry prior to April 2007.
He has been speaking to AHIP groups around the country since at least 2004, according to the AHIP web site.
But more importantly, don't his New Yorker readers deserve to be told that his favorite charities including his church, a non-profit set up by his father, and a foundation affiliated with the hospital where he works – are benefiting financially - and by how much – when he speaks to the private health insurance industry ?
As for his opposition to single payer, he remains steadfast.
In a q/a with New Yorker readers last week, Gawande defended his opposition to single payer now.
“Replacing the entire health-financing system with Medicare would require most working-age people to leave their current insurance plans,” Gawande writes. “It would change the finances of every hospital and doctor in the country overnight. It would require replacing the premiums we pay with a tax, with massive numbers of both losers and winners. It seems simple in theory, but in practice it never is. This would be a whole new path for health care. No country has swept away their health system and simply replaced it like that. As I said in the article, one would have to be prepared for an overnight change in the way people get 3.5 billion prescriptions, 900 million office visits, 60 million operations - because how these are paid for is critical to whether and how they are provided. Doing away with private insurance coverage is no less sweeping than saying we'll do away with public insurance programs or do away with employer-paid health care. No major country has simply swept away the way so many people's care is paid for. And the reason is that people have legitimate fears about what will happen to them.”
Dr. David Himmelstein, a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, calls this argument “bogus.”
“Patients do not care what their insurance plan is - just that it pays for the care they need. A transition from a system where virtually everyone has only partial coverage to one where they have full coverage is not a disruption for patients," Himmelstein said when we asked him to respond to Gawande. "Several nations have made abrupt changes in the financing of care. The UK instituted the National Health Service - eliminating insurance and private payment for care at a stroke. Each Canadian province went from a private insurance system very like ours to its current system virtually overnight – though not all provinces underwent the change simultaneously. Taiwan changed to a single payer system about 10 years ago at a stroke.”
“Medicare replaced private coverage for the elderly – who account for about 30% of all hospital patients – about nine months after its passage. That occurred in an era before computers. The entire task of enrolling tens of millions of patients, inspecting virtually every hospital in the nation – to certify that they were desegregated, which was mandated by the Medicare law – and set up a new payment apparatus was carried out using paper records. Why is a shift of the other two-thirds of our system more difficult?”
“The new payment system would be far simpler than the current one – hospitals would receive a global budget, which initially would be based largely on their previous year's revenues. Medicare currently collects all of the financial info needed to do such budgeting at the outset. Per-patient billing for hospital care would be eliminated. For doctors, Medicare already has a fee schedule, which should be modified somewhat, but already serves as the benchmark for most private plans. Expanding this payment system to cover all fee-for-service billings would be trivial. Paying for drugs is similarly pretty simple and straightforward, with most of the needed infrastructure already in place.”
“In sum, his arguments are bogus unless you assume that we are far less competent than people in other nations, and than we used to be,” Himmelstein said.
Gawande will travel to Washington on March 11 to speak to AHIP.
The title of his speech – Fixing Health Care from the Inside Out: The Physician's Role in Health Care Reform.
The majority of physicians in the United States now support a single payer system.
Dr. Gawande does not and is coddling the private health insurance industry.
When Daschle was driven out of office last week, a DC insider made the following observation:
When people first come to Washington, they see it as a putrid swamp that breeds corruption.
But after they stay awhile, they begin to see it as a hot tub.
Chomsky Interview TranscriptAfter a month of putting this off, I was finally able to write the transcript down. My questions are italicized. Let me know if I missed something or got a word wrong.The transcript:I think that a lot of people are trying to figure this out. Is - what do you think Obama's - what do you think we can expect from Obama foreign policy-wise when talking about US-Middle East relations? Do you think he's really going to be like, the diplomat that he says he will be? What do you think?There's no evidence for that. The only evidence we have is what he said and what's on his website. And the appointments that he's made. What he's said is that he won't say anything about this. He'll say things about anything else but not this. So not about the invasion of Gaza and so on. If fact, he has said one thing, namely when he went to Israel last July he visited Sderot, the town which is targeted by rockets, and he said that, "If my daughters were here I would do anything to stop the rockets. That he's repeated again, as Israel is blasting people to smithereens in Gaza, that her would do anything to stop an attack on Sderot, period. That's all he'd say. His - on his website, it's just gushing love for Israel. Nothing about the Palestinians. I think he had some vague reference to a Palestinian state somewhere. But everything that's the in crucial importance of the defense of Israel. And he mentions Lebanon once, namely, he takes pride in his having sponsored a resolution during Israel's invasion of Lebanon saying that we should support Israel, that Israel should be permitted to go on, kill as many people as it likes and so on. So, those are statements. His appointments are just pro-Israeli hawks right down the line. Clinton, Dennis Ross, Dan Kurtzer. Kurtzer, who's the most moderate among them, and who is his Middle East advisor, was the co-author - or helper at least, in the speech that he gave to AIPAC which broke records in obsequiousness. No one has ever gone that far, In fact, he went so far that his campaign had to publicly withdraw some of his statements. He stated that, to AIPAC that, Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel. I mean, first of all, it's radically opposed to international law, it's against Security Council resolutions that the US supported, it's against US policy. It was so extreme that his campaign had to essentially retract it and say, "Well the words didn't mean what he said." And that's what we know. So you can guess what you want. A sensible guess right now would be that he'll probably be like the second Bush Administration.I remember, I think it was like, during the primaries, I was watching Go Meet The Press and they were talking to Ralph Nader, and Nader was saying how he doesn't trust Obama's foreign policy, and he said the reason why is because when Obama was first starting out his political career he was actually pro-Palestinian. And now he's become like, this pro-Israel apologist, and that just got me.I don't know if he was ever pro-Palestinian. He had a few Palestinian friends, but - whatever that means. But he's been very cagey about saying anything. In fact, his whole campaign was, well, it was striking for its vacuity. It was what the press called "soaring rhetoric", how much they admired him about hope and change, but essentially he presented himself as kind of a blank slate, which you could write whatever you want. I don't see any particular hope in his other plans either. Maybe the Secretary of Labor who has a good record, but if you run down the list of appointments they're all pretty much hawkish, maybe centrist at most.Do you think that there's a particular reason why he would, like, appoint all these hawks to his cabinet? Because before he said - he would say, "Oh, I'm going to be Mr. Diplomacy, I'm going to talk with our enemies. And then people were kind of..."I mean, if Bush had a third administration, then he'd talk to the Iranians too, because it's insane not to. But he's maintained the position that we must be - with regard to Iran, his position is the United States must be an outlaw state in radical violation of international law. That's what it means to say he's going to keep all options on the table. Well the UN Charter - he's a lawyer, he knows, the UN Charter explicitly bans the threat of force. The American population is overwhelmingly opposed to the threat of force, as is the whole world, but he says we've got to keep it open so we must be an outlaw state. But he's willing to talk to them before he goes on with the use of force. With regard to Iraq, he's described - even people on the left, as having had a principled opposition to the war. It's simply false. His only critique of the war is that it was what he calls a "strategic blunder". But, you know, that's no more principled than a Nazi general after Stalingrad who said the two front war was a strategic blunder. In fact, you can read things like that in Pravda during the 1980's, when commentators argued that it was a strategic blunder for the Russians to invade Afghanistan. We didn't call that a principled standard. It was totally unprincipled. In fact, I find it pretty hard to find a principled standard on anything.I heard that he voted for funding the war.He voted for funding the war, but I mean for everything he's done his supporters have some excuse. But, he'll be different when he gets into office, maybe, we can hope so, but we have normally - if we're judging on the base of evidence it's not consistent. And the same is true with his appointments. I mean, his first appointment was Vice President Joe Biden, one of the strongest supporters of the war in the Senate, and in fact an old time Washington insider. So much for change. His next appointment was Rahm Emanuel who was the only member of the Illinois Delegation to strongly support the war. He also - Emanuel, his background is in investment banking and he, I think, receives more funding from the financial insecurities industries than anyone else in Congress. And in fact Obama's campaign was largely financed by the same sources. That's Rahm Emanuel, and in fact Emanuel was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and asked what he - he's got an important position, he's Chief-of-Staff, he organizes, he gets to see what he does and so on - so he was asked what he would do about what the Journal called the "left-wing barons", like Barney Frank, who were calling for cutbacks on the military budget, modifying tax structure for renewable energy and so on, and he said, "Well, we have a pragmatic administration. Obama will be able to take care of the left-wing barons." He goes on through his economic policy. And the economic policy we get his - his advisors are the people who created our financial crisis - along from the big Clinton Administration, and it just goes down the line.That was -And his national security advisor, James Jones, is a super hawk. He wants to extend NATO to the south east which he told them, NATO should have its own intervention forces and so on.Well the other question that I wanted to ask you, and I think you kind of touched on it is that, Obama, when he was campaigning, he received a lot of support from big corporations and special interest, and I was wondering, how much influence do you think they will have on his policies as president?Well, the fund figures aren't yet in, but the April figures, if I recall correctly, showed that he got about a third or more of his support from financial - from the financial industry or a branch of it and a lot more from what they call law firms, but that means mostly lobbyists. There's pretty good evidence that funding of an election is a very good predictor of policy. In fact, there's a theory about it by a very good political economist, Thomas Ferguson, called - what he calls the investment theory of politics. And the basic idea is that what we call elections are occasions in which groups of investors call us to invest in control of the state. And he's done extensive work on this. His work will be coming out on this election soon. And it's a very good predictor of policy going back a century, including the New Deal and so on. So I think it's fair to assume that they'll be a substantial influence. And you can tell from his appointments. And they come straight out of the financial industry. Robert Rubin, who was treasury secretary under Clinton, who lobbied to demolish the Glass Eagle Act, which separated - protected commercial banks from risky investments. He immediately quit treasury department and became the director of Citigroup where he personally benefitted from the breakup that he lobbied for. That's a violation of the Government and Ethics Act, that he should be, you know, going to jail. His successor, Lawrence Summers was Obama's other advisor, was responsible for blocking regulation of the exotic financial options. That's another part of the crisis. I think one good economist who - one of the few who actually was on top of this all the way and for so, Dean Baker, pointed out that Obama's appointments are like picking Osama bin Laden to run the War on Terror. Maybe it'll change, but who knows? But what we have is the evidence that exists.Posted by Julia
On the other hand — and at the risk of sounding like a cynical whining right-winger posing as an anarchist — maybe celebrations are a little premature? For example, some French @ called Charles Reeve done an interview with some Venezuelan @s Miguel and Isabel; it appears on the blog of the steenky communists ‘The Commune’, and is apparently the first English translation of the March 2008 interview.
It portrays Uncle Hugo and his government in a rather unflattering light.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of Hugo Chávez’s coming to power in Venezuela, and ten years of the “Bolivarian revolution”. This process has included waves of state intervention in the economy and fervent rhetoric against US imperialism. But while some on the left see this Chavista movement as the new “socialism for the 21st century”, groups such as ours have argued that it is actually more like an old-fashioned attempt at modernisation by a technocratic élite; that increased bureaucratic power over capital is not inherently progressive; and that the “revolution” in Venezuela allows for very little working-class control or initiative from below.
Here we present a translation of a March 2008 interview conducted by the French anarchist ‘Charles Reeve’ with two members of the El Libertario group in Caracas, the nation’s capital, which offers some stark insights into the reality of the situation. Looking at various aspects of the Venezuelan economy and living standards in the country, it argues that Chavismo and the mythology of the “Bolivarian revolution” conceal a raft of neo-liberal reforms and attacks on workers’ rights, and that we must break out of the dynamics of Chávez vs. the opposition in order to build an autonomous working-class alternative…
In Australia, the most vocal support for Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the Bolivarian Revolution, has come from the neo-Trotskyist DSP. (Its splinter, the RSP, also supports Chávez: Support the Cuban & Venezuelan revolutions! Join the Cuba-Venezuela solidarity club!, implores the latest issue of its zine.) The DSP argues that the Venezuelan experience provides a dramatic example of ‘Socialism of the 21st Century’. To promote this new-fangled Socialism, the DSP has devoted a site to promoting solidarity with the Venezuelan Government, organised study brigades, and frequently invites speakers from the Venezuelan Embassy to address their meetings.
During 10 years of revolution, the Bolivarian Government has been breaking free from paradigms, beating obstacles, exceeding all expectations, facing empires, revolutionizing consciousness, beating foreign and internal propaganda, and even more, defending, as the engine and fuel of the revolutionary project, the deep conviction that the human being is the center and principle of the society.
The most representative achievements can be evaluated quantitatively through the Missions, infrastructure works and technological advancements, among others, but the qualitative analysis leads us to three big conclusions: with the arrival of the Bolivarian Revolution, the quality of life has been boosted for most Venezuelans, social inequalities have been reduced significantly and Venezuela has made important steps in the struggle to reach the real conditions of a developed country…
Oddly enough, one member of the Ministry of People’s Power for Communication and Information is Eduardo Rothe. Rothe was interviewed by the French zine Rouge et Vert: Le Journal des Alternatifs (Number 222, April 15, 2005; translated from the French by NOT BORED! July 2005), and is a former member of the Internationale Situationniste, contributing some thoughts on ‘The Conquest of Space in the Time of Power’ to the 12th issue of its journal (September 1969).
Just as anarchists are critical of Uncle Hugo, Uncle Hugo is critical of anarchists: “Critical thinking is fundamental to a revolution, but that is very different to going around talking badly about a party that has not been born, collecting signatures to present them who knows where. Anyone who wants to be an anarchist, get out of here, you are not wanted, what is needed here is a creative, but disciplined active membership.” One, rather important difference between the ‘anarchists’ and Uncle Hugo being, of course, that Uncle Hugo is in a rather better position to eliminate the bad-mouthed anarchists than the undisciplined anarchists are of getting rid of Uncle Hugo…
Chávez does have his champions in the academy, of course, one of note being Slovenian “superstar” philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
It is striking that the course on which Hugo Chávez has embarked since 2006 is the exact opposite of the one chosen by the postmodern Left: far from resisting state power, he grabbed it (first by an attempted coup, then democratically), ruthlessly using the Venezuelan state apparatuses to promote his goals. Furthermore, he is militarising the barrios, and organising the training of armed units there. And, the ultimate scare: now that he is feeling the economic effects of capital’s ‘resistance’ to his rule (temporary shortages of some goods in the state-subsidised supermarkets), he has announced plans to consolidate the 24 parties that support him into a single party. Even some of his allies are sceptical about this move: will it come at the expense of the popular movements that have given the Venezuelan revolution its élan? However, this choice, though risky, should be fully endorsed: the task is to make the new party function not as a typical state socialist (or Peronist) party, but as a vehicle for the mobilisation of new forms of politics (like the grass roots slum committees). What should we say to someone like Chávez? ‘No, do not grab state power, just withdraw, leave the state and the current situation in place’? Chávez is often dismissed as a clown – but wouldn’t such a withdrawal just reduce him to a version of Subcomandante Marcos, whom many Mexican leftists now refer to as ‘Subcomediante Marcos’? Today, it is the great capitalists – Bill Gates, corporate polluters, fox hunters – who ‘resist’ the state. ~ ‘Resistance Is Surrender’, London Review of Books, November 15, 2007
Today was my day to be a guinea pig, and it looks like I’ve got what it takes. I was at the HeartMath Institute in the Santa Cruz foothills of California (on the day of a raging forest fire only 20 miles away – was that an omen?) to meet with some pioneers of energy medicine. Dr. Rollin McCraty and his team are the folks who proved that a novel heart-centered meditation process has a different effect on heart rhythm and nervous system function than seemingly similar processes like muscle relaxation or mindfulness meditation. Their theory goes one step further than describing this mind/body interaction. They believe that mental focus on emotions like compassion and appreciation alters the heart’s rhythm and also creates a magnetic field that is strong enough to affect nearby living things. Because they’ve studied the mathematics of these cardiac effects, they’re called the HeartMath Institute (www.heartmath.com).
The HeartMath researchers have done a few individual demos to illustrate these field interactions, most famously showing that a boy in heart coherence can entrain the rhythm of his dog’s heart (heart coherence is their term for a heart rhythm that’s optimally synchronized with the nervous system). But nothing on a larger scale has ever been done, something of the sort that might validate our JoS theories about how crowd energy influences team coherence. So I proposed a test for the HeartMath people, to see whether a group of people focused on their inner sense of appreciation could affect the physiology of a test subject – namely me. I took a seat in their lab, and was hooked up to their computer system that monitored my heart rhythm. I then used my rudimentary skills in heart coherence (5 minutes of previous practice) to try and enter that magical state of coherence. I was then joined in the room by 6 other people who were highly skilled in the art of heart coherence, to see whether my rhythms became entrained via sympathetic resonance with their magnetic fields, the same way that tuning forks resonate with each other.
The kicker in this setup was that I was blindfolded and ear-plugged. That way, I wouldn’t know when the other meditators joined me in the room, and my conscious expectations and reactions wouldn’t be a factor affecting my physiology. The only change in the situation would be my exposure to their group “vibe”; any changes in my heart rhythm would result from having been “tuning forked” by the meditators. And so, with help from Chief Scientist McCraty, the room was set up to allow me to meditate in my own little cocoon of sensory isolation, surrounded (as shown in this photo) by some pretty impressive equipment for psychophysiologic monitoring (the gizmos reminded me of the infamous Monty Python scene in “The Meaning of Life”, when the hospital administrator is duly impressed his encounter with “the machine that goes ‘Bing!’ “).
As luck would have it, our experiment actually worked. Midway through my 10 minute trial meditation, I began to feel a sort of lightness in my chest. After an involuntary sigh of relief, I settled into a nice inner state of heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for way my life was unfolding. It was the state I had been striving for earlier, but it suddenly seemed much easier to enter. Amazingly enough, and unbeknownst to me, the computer monitor showed that at the very same moment, my heart rhythm (or my heart rate variability, to use the technical term), entered a state of high internal coherence, to match the rhythm of the HeartMath meditation team. The team’s pulsating magnetic field had apparently pushed me into a state of higher coherence than I could achieve by my own independent efforts, and the machines had captured this event.
The photo here shows the computer monitor, with the graph in the lower left corner showing the degree to which my heart is in a coherent pattern – a few blips at first, and then zooming up off the charts.The upper graph shows my actual heart rate, in beats per minute, throughout the 5 minute experiment. The sudden uptick just past the two and a half minute mark represents the moment when the team entered the room; I remember feeling a swish of air as they walked by, and getting nervous that “it” might now be starting. Close scrutiny of the bottom left chart shows that my upsurge in coherence begins a little over three minutes into the test; in other words, just around the time when the group would have finally settled into their own coherent groove.
Dr. McCraty and I were both blown away by the size of the effect we’d produced, because the demo clearly showed that a small group of people holding a positive intention can affect the physiology of one person in their vicinity. It seems obvious, then, that if 35,000 people are focusing positive vibes on their favorite player in a coordinated way, his performance could be lifted into the stratosphere. As Dr. McC. noted, the emotion of appreciation is the most powerful emotion to use for influencing others. It’s even more powerful than the emotion of anger, though maybe not as popular among fans. He said that fans could use appreciation to lift their teams when they’re in a slump, but they shouldn’t waste their emotional energy on booing their opponents. Booing disrupts everyones’ vibe, and brings everyone into an unsynchronized state. It’s far more beneficial to use fandom’s emotional energies to encourage their own team by showering them with love, kindness and appreciation. Come to think of it, we could all benefit from that kind of emotional outpouring.
William Kleinknecht discusses his new book about Reagan, The Man Who Sold the World Obama praised Reagan for changing "the trajectory of America" after all "the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s." Esquire magazine anointed Reagan "the greatest living American" in 2003 and a poll conducted by Gallup in 2001 rated him as the most popular president. Author, William Kleinknecht rips through the media hype around Reagan and reveals with scholarship and insight the ugly reality of the Reagan administration and the continuing legacy to the present.Friday, February 13 at 7:00 pm Revolution Books2425 Channing Way Berkeley, CA 94704510-848-1196
SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES -- Eroticism is in the eye of the beholder. In Japan, some women turn to electrically charged squid for sexual satisfaction. In the American world of masochism, one man begged to be tied on a spit and roasted over sizzling coals. His counterpart, a latex-loving dominatrix, reached ecstasy merely watching his pain.
What is abnormal may not necessarily be unnatural, according to sexologists who study the outer limits of the human psyche.
And, increasingly, as seen in a plethora of new books and films -- not to mention thousands of sites on the Internet -- kinky sex is getting more attention.
"To badly paraphrase Alfred Kinsey, [who pioneered sex research in the 1940s and 50s, filming couples in flagrante in his Indiana attic], 'the only unnatural sex act is the one you can't perform,'" said Robert Dunlap, a California sex therapist and filmmaker.
Paraphilias -- or socially unacceptable sexual practices -- are more common than most ordinary "vanilla" teleiophiles [those who desire adults] would imagine, according to Dr. Judy Kariansky, a sex therapist from Columbia University.
Though there is no hard data on what whether a spike in interest means a spike in actual activity, experts say anecdotally that couples are showing a marked interest in exploring new sexual intensity.
In his 2001 film, "Beyond Vanilla," Dunlap interviewed more than 200 subjects who had one common denominator, some type of fetish -- bondage, flogging, knife play and fire, among others.
When asked "What is kinky?" academics, doctors, lawyers and even a congressman, shared fantasies like, "sex with a taxi driver in the back seat," "pouring candle wax on his testicles," "arresting someone and patting them down on the bar," "being gang-raped by many sets of twins, or better yet, triplets."
The film was widely praised and used by the University of Minnesota medical department at conferences on human sexuality and development.
Today, Dunlap is in negotiations for release of his latest film, a biography of the life of Xaviera Hollander, the madam who brought kinky sex out of the closet in 1971 with her book, "The Happy Hooker." His documentary earned early acclaim at numerous film festivals.
Also out this year are two books that appeal to those interested in sex outside the normal boundaries and that explore a world where pain, pleasure and often guilt intertwine.
Dominatrix Orders Human Barbecue
One, "The Other Side of Desire," is a journalist's exploration of "the far realms of lusting and longing," including that reference to the pain aficionado who ordered her "servants" to barbecue her willing submissive.
Another, "The Adventurous Lover," which is part of the new "Joy of Sex" series, is a handbook for couples who want to experiment in a safe environment.
'No One Damaged by Book, Movie'
"It's a totally new revolution and it's really exploded," Dunlap told ABCNews.com. "The Internet has changed everything. So many people can go online and say, 'This is me. I love this. I am finding like types.'"
And for those who think this phenomenon might encourage anti-social behavior, he counters, "I don't think anyone was really damaged or hurt by book or movie."
Columbia's Kuriansky agrees that "what's weird, sick or kinky for you is what practitioners defend as 'normal' for them."
"Credit, or blame, the Internet, making information available in such a level playing field that outrageous acts have become so accessible they seem mainstream," she told ABCNews.com.
Throughout history kinky sex has emerged in myth, literature and in anthropology. Urban legends still persist that Catherine the Great had a special relationship with her horse.
Dunlap cites studies that in some African cultures, older women guide younger boys into their manhood and are "revered."
Couples Search for Intensity
But today, according to sex-perts, couples are looking for more intensity in sex lives, and interest in sado-masochism appears to be rising.
"After the pain threshold is crossed, they describe a type of ecstasy called 'flying," Dunlap found in his research. "It is no longer painful and gives an entirely sexual as well as psychological, transcendent place. Flying is bigger than any drug."
British relational therapist Susan Quilliam, whose revision of the 1972 classic, "Joy of Sex" sold 30,000 copies in three weeks when it was released this year in the U.S., confirms, "A lot is changing culturally."
"First of all, we live in a more sexualized society and there's the Internet," she told ABCNews.com. "Interest groups communicate with each other and reinforce their identity."
"It gives people permission and normalizes it and encourages them to explore the outer boundaries of their preferences," she said.
And now, her spin-off book, "The Adventurous Lover," is being billed as "perfect for the couple who want to push the boundaries: sections include fantasy, fetish, sex-clubs, foursomes and bondage."
Quilliam, who doles out advice on her "Sex in the City" radio show, has seen an increased interest in BDSM or bondage, dominations, sado-masochism, as well as "swinging."
Creating a "safe" arena for experimentation is critical, she said, and couples should have special words, should they be uncomfortable, to call for "an immediate halt to the activity."
Dangers of 'Swinging'
As for swinging, there's always the danger that one partner will fall in love someone other than their mate in a menage a trios. She also warns, "Be careful, very careful if have a fantasy and you're putting it in to reality. It often disappoints."
"It has to be safe, sane and consensual," she said.
And, according to Quilliam, it's a slippery slope when it comes to what is consensual, especially in one of the fastest growing paraphilias on the Internet -- cannibalism.
"You slice off a piece of somebody and together you fry it and cook it and eat it," she said. "There's a Web site for almost anything."
In 2003, a computer technician advertised on the Internet for a well-built male prepared to be slaughtered and then consumed. His willing victim agreed to have his penis cut off, which was flambéed and served up to eat together before the victim died, according to the BBC. The courts debated whether the act constituted murder, because the victim had solicited the act.
Universal Taboos; Incest, Cannablism
Another taboo, incest, has also been in the news. In 2007, a German brother and sister challenged the law so they could continue their relationship.
According to Hani Miletski, a Maryland sex therapist and author of the 2007 book, "Mother-Son Incest: The Unthinkable Broken Taboo Persists," a search for the words "mother son incest" yields nearly two million links on the Internet. Clearly an abusive behavior, she said it "breaks down the natural development of boys' sexuality."
Miletsky wrote another book -- "Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia" -- after one of her patients admitted a "love affair" with his dog. She interviewed nearly 100 men who had indulged.
"People do it with all kinds of animals," she told ABCNews.com. "A lot of people are into dolphins and other sea animals."
"We also found a minority who prefer animals to humans," she said. "It's like a sexual orientation and they marry animals and treat like spouse whole love affair."
Such was the case with one man who had a relationship with his horse, according to Daniel Bergner, whose book, "The Other Side of Desire," just arrived in bookstores.
"I find I am closer to horses," the zoophile told his therapist, citing the "trust factor."
Guilt-Ridden Husband With Foot Fetish
Bergner follows the journeys of four characters: a guilt-ridden husband with a foot fetish, a man infatuated with his step-daughter, a dominatrix who finds ecstasy in the pain of others and an advertising executive who is attracted only to amputees.
Bergner said he sees his characters as "metaphors for our own states of longing" and explores whether sexuality is defined by genetics, as many neuroscientists believe, or through "cultural scripts."
Studies by sexual anthropologist Gilbert Herdt reveal that in Papua New Guinea young boys are shepherded through their budding sexuality by engaging in ritualized homosexual oral sex with adolescents, ultimately embracing heterosexuality and siring children.
"Experience molds us," Bergner told ABCNews.com. "There's a sense that a charged experience, whether it is shame, or the opposite -- and pain can easily get mixed with pleasure -- leaves a sexual imprint."
Jacob, who was so ashamed of his foot fetish that he would not share the "monstrosity" with his wife, had struggled painfully through school. One psychiatrist suggested that the fetish began fear, as Jacob looked down, away from the teacher's gaze.
"That moment of terror got translated into an erotic sense of feet," Bergner said. "What we fear, we take control of."
Sympathy for Some
Though some of the sex acts witnessed -- including a sado-masochistic orgy led by a dominatrix known as the "Baroness" -- revolted Bergner, he said he felt sympathy for his characters, especially Ron, who creates ads with perfect models, and Laura, who lost both legs in a car accident.
"These two people have transformed each other's lives," he said. "Lust and love here are inseparable and redemptive."
Bergner and others who have interviewed those who cross boundaries most humans would regard as dark territory, say the compulsive power that compels them is part of the universal human story.
"No one wants to talk about Freud any more," he said. "One thing he knew that no scientist or psychologist displaces is that this drive is so central, so essential, and so powerful. The fact that we are living with that kind of powerful drive within in us is inherently threatening."
"Part of me thinks people are more receptive and comfortable taking risks sexually," said Bergner. "But part of me thinks we are pretty much afraid -- afraid because the force of the erotic is pretty strong and probably anarchic, and therefore, maybe we worry that if we step a little over the boundaries, we might not be able to step back."
By Josh RichmanWednesday, February 11th, 2009The Courage Campaign – a progressive, grassroots online organizing network for California claiming more than 500,000 members – reports it delivered more than 6,000 petition signatures to state Attorney General Jerry Brown today, urging him to investigate whether Republican lawmakers violated California Penal Code section 86 by engaging in vote-trading over the state budget.
“Illegal is illegal. The California Penal Code explicitly prohibits this kind of vote-trading and the Attorney General is duty-bound to investigate this felonious activity,” Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said in his news release today. “But Republicans, whose oath to anti-tax extremists supersedes their oath to the constitution, seem to be ignoring the law. If they want to rollback environmental and worker protections — which aren’t connected to the budget — they should do their jobs as legislators and write up a bill and have an honest debate. This should not be tolerated.”
More on grassroots efforts supporting a vote-trading probe, and an example of why you shouldn’t let someone else control your Facebook page, after the jump…
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi’s Facebook page (accessable only to Facebook members) indicated he’d joined this group Saturday, and group founder Bob Brigham of San Francisco posted a note thanking him on Sunday. But Garamendi — the only Democrat who has formally declared his gubernatorial candidacy for 2010, although Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are presumed to be in the race too — was gone from the member list by this morning.
“Garamendi needs thicker socks if his feet get cold while standing with labor, environmentalists, and the netroots to defend the rule of law,” Brigham told me today.
But Garamendi spokeswoman Beth Willon said it was all a misunderstanding; he never meant to sign up for the group in the first place.
The House overwhelmingly adopted legislation this week mandating the creation of a new kind of terrorist watchlist: a database of people who aren't terrorists, but are routinely flagged at airports anyway.
The U.S. government maintains a list of about a million names of suspected terrorists that is crosschecked with passenger names ahead of airline boarding. The list has been dogged for years by sloppy name matches that have ensnared innocent travelers, children, prominent politicians and government officials, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretary of education and all men named David Nelson.
Under the new plan, approved late Tuesday 413-3, innocent victims of the terrorist watchlist must prove to the Department of Homeland Security, through an undetermined appeals process, that they are not terrorists. They would then get their names put on what the legislation calls the "Comprehensive Cleared List."
The legislation is another attempt to assist wrongly flagged passengers and would supersede the troubled DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which has been criticized for being slow or unresponsive to flier complaints.
The FAST Redress Act, if approved by the Senate, requires the government to report within 240 days on its progress in implementing the new list.
Talking, rather than fighting, in AfghanistanPresident Obama held his first prime-time news conference Tuesday night. When questioned on Afghanistan, he replied, "This is going to be a big challenge." He also was asked whether he would change the Pentagon policy banning the filming and photographing of the flag-draped coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he was reviewing it. The journalist who asked the question also pointed out that it was Joe Biden several years ago who accused the Bush administration of suppressing the images to avoid public furor over the deaths of U.S. service members. Now Vice President Biden predicts a surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan will mean more U.S. casualties: "I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick."Meanwhile, the Associated Press recently cited a classified report drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommending a shift in strategy from democracy-building in Afghanistan to attacking alleged Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.And the campaign has clearly begun. Days after his inauguration, Obama's first (known) military actions were two missile strikes inside Pakistan's frontier Waziristan province, reportedly killing 22 people, including women and children.Cherif Bassiouni has spent years going back and forth to Afghanistan. He is a professor of law at DePaul University and the former United Nations human-rights investigator in Afghanistan. In 2005, he was forced out of the United Nations under pressure from the Bush administration, days after he released a report criticizing the U.S. military and private contractors for committing human-rights abuses. I asked Bassiouni about Obama's approach to Afghanistan. He told me: "There is no military solution in Afghanistan. There is an economic-development solution, but I don't see that coming. Right now, the population has nothing to gain by supporting the United States and NATO. It has everything to gain by being supportive of the Taliban."Bassiouni's scathing 2005 U.N. report accused the U.S. military and private military contractors of "forced entry into homes, arrest and detention of nationals and foreigners without legal authority or judicial review, sometimes for extended periods of time, forced nudity, hooding and sensory deprivation, sleep and food deprivation, forced squatting and standing for long periods of time in stress positions, sexual abuse, beatings, torture, and use of force resulting in death."I also put the question of the military surge to former President Jimmy Carter. He responded: "I would disagree with Obama as far as a surge that would lead to a more intense bombing of Afghan villages and centers and a heavy dependence on military. I would like to see us reach out more, to be accommodating, and negotiate with all of the factions in Afghanistan."Carter should know. He helped create what his national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, called "the Afghan trap," supporting Islamic mujahedeen in the late-1970s against the Soviets in Afghanistan, thereby creating what evolved into the Taliban. Brzezinski told the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"More than 14,000 Soviet troops were killed, and the Afghan toll exceeded 1 million. Osama bin Laden got his start with the help of the CIA-funded Afghan operation.Bassiouni suggests that a military solution is doomed to failure, noting that the Taliban "realized they could not defeat the American forces, so they went underground. They put their Kalashnikovs under the mattresses, and they waited. A year ago, they resurfaced again. They can do the same thing. They can go back in the mountains, push the Kalashnikovs under the mattress, wait out five years. They have been doing that since the 1800s with any foreign and every foreign invader."As Carter told me, "To offer a hand of friendship or accommodation, not only to the warlords but even to those radicals in the Taliban who are willing to negotiate, would be the best approach, than to rely exclusively on major military force."Have we learned nothing from Iraq? "When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the president on another tried-and-failed policy." That was Sen. Barack Obama in January 2007. With his Joint Chiefs now apparently gunning for more fighting and less talk in Afghanistan, Obama needs to be reminded of his own words.(c) 2009 Amy Goodman Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
http://www.myspace.com/warchildheroesWhat do you get if you cross the greatest living legends, some of the finest songs ever written and the most staggering talent around today? Just an album so hot you’ll be going to work in shorts this winter, that’s all. And wait for the best bit…War Child gets money off every copy sold.
Yes friends, the charity album just got cool again. Here’s the skinny: Rock legends such as Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney chose their favourite new bands to cover their classic songs. War Child’s new album, Heroes, is released on February 24th in the US, March 3rd in Canada, February 16th in Europe and features 16 amazing tunes.
Dylan himself chose Beck to take on Leopard-Skin Pillar-Box Hat. Sir Paul entrusted Live and Let Die to Duffy. And Stevie figured Estelle was the only one for Superstitious.Oh, and then there’s The Hold Steady taking on Bruce, Lily Allen teaming up with, ahem, Mick Jones on a Clash classic and The Scissor Sisters imploring you to Do The Strand.
This, ladies and gents, is the line-up:
Beck (Bob Dylan - “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”)
The Kooks (The Kinks – “Victoria”)
The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen – “Atlantic City”)
Hot Chip (Joy Division – “Transmission”)
Lily Allen feat. Mick Jones (The Clash – “Straight To Hell”)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (The Ramones – “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”)
Franz Ferdinand (Blondie – “Call Me”)
Duffy (Paul McCartney – “Live And Let Die”)
Estelle (Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”)
Rufus Wainwright (Brian Wilson –“ Wonderful & Song For Children”)
Scissor Sisters (Roxy Music – “Do The Strand”)
Peaches (Iggy Pop – “Search And Destroy”)
Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen – “Take This Waltz”)
Elbow (U2 – “Running To Stand Still”)
The Like (Elvis Costello – “You Belong To Me”)
TV On The Radio (David Bowie – “Heroes”)
Yes, you read it right. It rocks. It rocks hard. We know you want to hear it right now, and you’re ready to buy it today to support your favorite charity. But you’ll just have check back here on a regular basis, ‘cos we’ll be a-temptin’ and a-teasin’ with song snippets, updates, quotes and a lot, lot more. Check back soon!
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility;--
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.
Thursday, February 12, 8:15AM Kaiser Center, 20th Street Mall 344 20th Street, 3rd Street Oakland, CA
"We must keep the pressure up on the BART BOARD as they are fracturing and moveable as long as they feel the continued heat.
It's a small room and we need to pack it!
The BART Board of Directors must take action for Justice for Oscar Grant by taking a pledge to do the following:
1) Fire and Prosecute BART Officer Tony Pirone (& all officers present during the execution of Oscar Grant)
2) Fire BART Police Chief Gary Gee for complicity and incompetence
3) Disarm BART Police
(These are demands that this group of people has the power to carry out!)"
The trunk of a tree has a spiral clockwise energy pattern which helps bring light from the crown of the tree to the earth which in turn, helps amplify the earth's energy.
Not all types of trees give out energy in the same way. An apple tree gives back energy into its fruit and the human eating it receives a certain energy band from it.
A redwood tree would transmit light more directly to the planet.Trees have balancing qualities which heal one's aura if they sit in a field of trees. If, however, a person sat there with negative thoughts, he would not absorb many of the healing energies...that is why the soft heart is so important in being able to be sensitive to all forms of energy.
The soft heart is a peaceful energy that blends harmoniously with a tree. A tree picks up any vibration that a human consciously puts out to it or even someone casually walking by. When a tree responds to you, you receive its colors and frequencies. The grandmother and grandfather trees are highly intelligent life forms..."...............................................................It's the oldest trees that do the most efficienct work of drawing water from deep within the earth...breathing out the moisture that creates rain...the smallest of sapings cannot yet do this.the Native Americans call trees Standing People...the beautify of native spirituality is that they see the connectedness of everything around them...and know that everything has a voice that wants to be heard. And they know to pay respect to everything because of the benefits they bring to mankind.Remember, Buddha's enlightenment came after spending a great deal of time meditating under the Bodhi tree.*[The last I saw Jeff, he was working for HeartMath in Santa Cruz, CA, here's a blurb of a video he is in, that comes from a CNN transcript]CNN's James Hattori shows us how a group of high school kids in California is learning to chill out and stay focused on the task at hand.(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing strikes fear in the minds of high school students like taking a test. That's why the football squad at Watsonville High in Central California is going heart-to-hard-drive with a computer.JEFF GOELITZ, HEARTMATH: So you want to -- you want to chill out as much as possible. Avoid conflicts. Stay focused on the test. It's like game day. HATTORI: In this mind game, students are hooked up to finger monitors measuring heart rhythms and wired into a computer program called Freeze-Framer, which, according to HeartMath the software maker, displays their emotional state. A jagged wave pattern indicates stress and anxiety. Uniform, flatter waves mean you've hit The Zone, the place where the heart and mind are working in a balanced state.GOELITZ: So when you have your brain and your heart and your body all working together, you're going to have more of that optimal learning state. So I think that's one of our contributions is: Help the kids relax; help the kids focus; help them manage their emotions better.HATTORI: Watsonville High tried the Freeze-Framer software during a four-week pilot program to help students perform better on an upcoming statewide achievement test. The HeartMath program includes learning relaxation techniques like controlled breathing, thinking about happy moments or moments of accomplishments.The students say it works.JOEY GARCIA, WATSONVILLE HIGH STUDENT: When you do -- actually do Freeze-Framer, I do feel myself being more calm and I could be more focused, like my mind is more clear. And I think it does work.HATTORI: Dr. Hans Steiner, professor of child psychiatry at Stanford University, says, while the concept is not new, it's also not totally proven.DR. HANS STEINER, PROF. OF CHILD PSYCHIATRY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Just because your heart does certain things doesn't necessarily mean that you're feeling a certain type of emotion. There's a bunch of experiments that people have done sort of to try to nail down this connection. And it is very fluid.HATTORI: He says Freeze-Framer needs more research to prove itself. Test scores at Watsonville High School will be revealing when they come in.James Hattori, CNN, San Francisco.(END VIDEOTAPE)
[Another piece I found with Jeff on it...if I ever find the entire book online I will post that]Jeffrey Goelitz writes:”The purest essence comes from the oldest trees who have peaked developmentally in their being-ness. Older trees communicate to younger trees a vibrancy that supports and encourages their growth. There is an intelligence on the other side from which life springs. The force of gravity helps us to live. Through gravity we receive light from the sky. Gravity is the bridge to the other world where earth connects to the sky. Trees act like magnetic funnels. Through their centers they draw heavily on the light. [The Mother of the Forest and I] have a deep resonance of peace. Our ages, sizes, and electromagnetic fields are very much alike. Together, along with other elder redwoods, we watch over the forest with our etheric radiation. Our rays interlace together in a way distinct from other trees because of our similarities.”1991
Sacramento, Calif.A special panel of federal judges tentatively ruled Monday that California must release tens of thousands of inmates to relieve overcrowding.The judges said no other solution will improve conditions so poor that inmates die regularly of suicides or lack of proper care.The panel said it wanted the state to present a plan to trim the population in two to three years."There are simply too many prisoners for the existing capacity," they wrote. "Evidence offered at trial was overwhelmingly to the effect that overcrowding is the primary cause of the unconstitutional conditions that have been found to exist in the California prisons."The three judges suggested a target prison population of between 100,800 and 121,000 inmates — down from the current level of about 158,000. More inmates live in conservation camps, community correctional facilities and private prisons in other states.The proposed targets would require the state to reduce the prison population by between 36,200 and 57,000 inmates. Attorneys representing inmates had sought a reduction of about 52,000 inmates.The state can change parole and other policies to cut the population of its 33 adult prisons without endangering the public, the judges said.Reducing the number of inmates might have a positive effect as well, they said. "This is particularly true considering that California's overcrowded prison system is itself ... a public safety hazard," the panel said in its order.The state will appeal any final prisoner release order to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."We disagree with the ruling. We disagree that the prisons are unsafe. We will appeal," Cate said, speaking on behalf of himself and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Releasing that many inmates is "the equivalent of between seven and 10 California prisons."The three federal judges said a final population figure would be set later and they may hold more hearings before making their decision final.After hearing closing arguments in the case last week, the judges said they wanted to quickly issue a tentative ruling in hopes of forcing the state to take steps on its own or reach a settlement with attorneys representing inmates.In Monday's order, they offered the services of a court-appointed referee for settlement talks. Previous negotiations failed, forcing the trial that started in November.The order comes as California struggles to bridge a $42 billion budget deficit that is forcing the state to furlough its employees two days each month.An expert panel convened by California corrections officials has projected the state could save $803 million to $906 million annually if parolees were not sent back as easily for technical violations and if convicts could more easily earn early release credits by taking classes and vocational programs.
Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Agriculture Department is in discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency about raising the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
About 21 percent of the U.S. capacity for ethanol production is idle, according to ethanol-maker Archer Daniels Midland Co. VeraSun Energy Corp., the second-largest U.S. ethanol maker, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October as an industrywide expansion of production facilities outpaced demand.
“I do think it’s important for us to look for strategies to make sure the infrastructure of the ethanol industry is preserved, because it is a key component to this new energy future the president’s laid out,” Vilsack, a former Democratic governor of Iowa, said today in an interview with Bloomberg News in Washington.
Ethanol demand has fallen as gasoline use dropped since last summer. By increasing the blend, demand for ethanol will be boosted even as gasoline use falls. The U.S. recession exacerbated an ethanol supply glut as demand for transportation fuels dropped.
Ethanol futures prices in Chicago touched a five-week low this week. Denatured ethanol for March delivery rose 4.5 cents, or 2.9 percent, yesterday to $1.597 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures have fallen 23 percent in the past year.
“We have been talking to folks at EPA, as they look at the blend-rate issue,” Vilsack said. “That may be one way in the short term to create new opportunities.”
The EPA in November said it would require gasoline to contain a 10.2 percent blend of biofuels this year.
Vilsack said the discussions so far haven’t included “specific numbers. We’ve just begun the conversation.”
“This is a very high priority for the ethanol industry so it would be a welcome development if they could secure a higher blend rate,” Mark McMinimy, an analyst with Stanford Group Co. in Washington, said in a telephone interview.
“I’m not sure how much difference it could make to profits margins in the short term,” he said.
Ethanol producers have faced declining margins from a competitive market, coupled with low oil prices and relatively high prices for corn, used to make ethanol, said McMinimy.
“That dynamic has to be changed,” he said.
Gasoline futures prices have dropped 43 percent in the last year on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline demand during the past four weeks was 2.4 percent below the same period last year.
Poet LLC, the largest ethanol producer, said yesterday it may buy shuttered distilleries owned by VeraSun.
Vilsack also dismissed the idea of changing the congressionally mandated renewable fuels standard, which requires 11.1 billion gallons of biofuels such as ethanol to be used in the U.S. this year.
“I don’t think we should be changing anything until we absolutely have to,” Vilsack. “We’ve laid the markers down there and I think we have to work hard to meet it.”
I have no illusions that our new president will perform miracles. I have no doubt that a war against extremism is no more winnable than the war against drugs. But one day, I hope we will look back at this time and say: That was the time when the power of all forms [CUT] began to wane. God help us if it doesn't.
Letter to a StudentFebruary 10th, 2009 Posted by Mark ChmielDear Shannon,I enjoyed our long conversation on Saturday afternoon at 6 North Coffee. I appreciate you taking the time to visit on such a busy weekend. After our chats, the strong impression I am left with is of a person of great integrity and commitment to justice. You want to “walk the walk.” In the idiom of your semester in San Salvador, you want your “praxis” to be real, substantial, and serious.You were curious about Ralph Nader, whom I mentioned I had been reading recently. My friend Andrew Wimmer and current Social Justice student Dan McGinnis have stimulated me in this deeper consideration of Nader. As I look back on it, I knew his name in my early teens, but I didn’t know who Dorothy Day was until I read her autobiography at 21. Nader was a household name in the Seventies because he was the foremost consumer advocate in the United States.I assume in your studies in El Salvador you learned about people who made “the preferential option for the poor.” The option wasn’t made only by relatively famous people like Archbishop Romero and Ignacio Ellacuría; it was made by countless poor people in Salvador but also throughout Latin America. I’d like to borrow that expression to describe Nader as having made a preferential option for the American consumer. From his first confrontation with General Motors in the mid-1960s, Nader expressed great suspicion of corporate America’s willingness to seek profits at the expense of individual safety. Through painstaking investigations, he exposed GM’s lethal lack of consideration for auto-drivers.You surely have come across that conviction of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Nader seemed to notice problems about which no one else seemed to care. An early example in his life: When he was an undergraduate at Princeton in the 1950s, he wondered if there was any connection between the dead birds appearing on campus and the fact that Princeton’s beautiful trees were sprayed with DDT.Attracting young people to the nascent consumer movement, Nader and his associates researched corporations and the government itself, seeking to root out injustices and make reforms that were of benefit to large numbers of Americans. Nader’s biographer, Justin Martin, summarized, “Through his efforts, dozens of safety laws have passed, and at times he has shown himself to be as skilled a legislator as any duly elected U.S. senator.” The following are some of the areas in which Nader has made an impact: air bags in cars, seat belts, remuneration when being bumped from a plane, clean air, food safety, lead protections from x-rays in during visits to the dentist, warnings on drug labels, nutritional labeling for foods, automobile crash-testing, cigarette labeling for tar and nicotine, the right to know in your workplace when being exposed to chemicals, among others.For well over forty years, Nader has played this role of activist, gadfly, and relentless skeptic of corporate power. But he also ran as a presidential candidate in recent years, which has tarnished his reputation among some, but brought his name and mission to younger generations of Americans. His strongest critique is that the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are ensconced with corporate power. In effect, both parties make their own “preferential option for the rich.” Crucial issues are ignored by the entrenched elites of both parties, to the detriment of the U.S. citizenry. Nader believes, “We can have democracy or we can have the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.”To better understand the arena in which Nader has operated since the 1960s, I’d recommend reading Joel Bakan’s book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. The heart of the book argues that the corporation’s fundamental nature is psychopathic, at least as based on the Personality Diagnostic Checklist from World Health Organization (ICD-10/Manual of Mental Health Disorders, DSM-IV”). The following characteristics match the intrinsic nature of corporations:1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others2. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships3. Reckless disregard for the safety of others4. Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit5. Incapacity to experience guilt6. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviorsNader has energetically addressed these characteristics in his battles on behalf of the American population. You can imagine it has earned some vociferous enemies. His critics call attention to his self-righteousness, vindictiveness, and caustic tone. One associate, though, Alan Morrison speaks about Nader with great respect: “I have never known anybody who has more ideas about more things than Ralph. He’s not interested in two or three or five or ten things. He’s interested in a million. He sees things differently from everybody else. He just sees injustices, unfairnesses, and improper ways of handling situations that everyone else just accepts. He has a cosmic view of these things, very broad, but at the same time, he is a person who pays enormous attention to details. I never met anybody who can think so big and think so small at the same time.” Nader acknowledged that his work is like “playing fifty chess games simultaneously.”You can read Nader’s views on many current issues, including his critique of corporate-based globalization, in The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap. Apropos of what Morrison said about Nader’s curiosity and hunger for justice, among the issues he treats in The Good Fight are: corporate takeovers, unraveling neighborhoods, cultural decay, political parties dominated by corporations, horrible prisons, the use of the death penalty, the disproportionate percentage of young black males in jail, the war on drugs, the glass ceiling for women, attacks on civil liberties, lack of proper investment in fraud control, deregulation, tax havens and tax avoidance schemes for the rich, the decreasing amount of taxes paid by corporations, mountain top removal coal-mining, dirty air, toxic water, erasing habitats and the killing off of species, the ruthless class war waged by the rich, union busting, pathetic enforcement of weak labor laws, precarious pensions and dwindling heath care, unsafe workplaces, corporate crime, corporate fraud, savings and loan fraud, corporate homicide, the WTO displacing national sovereignty and human rights, declining schools, inadequate transit systems, lack of nuclear disarmament, lack of low cost of drugs for HIV/AIDS, lethal arms trafficking, hunger, and the smoking industry.Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? But as Nader is fond of saying, “Nothing is possible without an individual. Nothing is perpetual without an institution.”I also strongly recommend his short book, The Seventeen Traditions, in which he pays homage to his upbringing in the Thirties and Forties in a Lebanese immigrant family in a small town in Connecticut. You know the expression, “Mother, home, and apple pie”? I’d add Ralph Nader to that as a fourth item on that list of what is quintessentially American. As you read his warm and loving accounts of the lessons taught to him by his family and community, you will be reminded of how civic life was once nurtured and might be again.In addressing his readers, Nader wrote this book to provide “stimuli for your own thoughts and recollections—as an occasion to revisit lessons passed on within your family. Such family traditions challenge the notion that fads, technologies, how-to-manuals, and addictions of modern life have somehow taken the place of the time-tested wisdom fashioned in the crucibles of earlier generations.” Among the traditions he highlights are those of listening, health, history, the kitchen table, independent thinking, and patriotism. At the book’s close, he writes, “I feel sure that raising civically responsible children is most likely to happen in the kind of atmosphere my parents created: one of indirection and delights, strong examples and certain boundaries, solitude and conversation, witness and respect, and, above all, the strength of parental love and sacrifice. All of this cannot help but nourish a sense of dedication to help one’s fellow human beings achieve a better life.” I trust that some of these traditions will be quite familiar to you because of how your parents raised you and your siblings.There may come a time when you are feeling down, pessimistic and despairing that Americans will throw off our ignorance, ethnocentrism, and laziness to address the problems that face us. At such times, it’s good to remember the people who have gone before us marked by a passion for justice, people who stood up and stood out and paid a price. For me, I would want to remember Ralph Nader in those dark times, for he shows that injustices can be fought. Like the saying attributed to Mohandas Gandhi, Nader’s life is his message. He reminds me of a sentence from George Eliot’s Middlemarch: “The presence of a noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes the lights for us: we begin to see things in their larger, quieter masses, and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in the wholeness of our character.”Last thing I’ll say is a quotation from Nader: “All things start with a sign-up sheet.”I’ll put in the mail to you Nader’s pamphlet, Civic Arousal, and you can tell me what you think.Hope to see you again this spring and good luck in the Boston Marathon!Dr CP.S. In addition to The Good Fight and The Seventeen Traditions, Justin Martin’s biography, Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon, is worth exploring, as is the 2006 documentary film, An Unreasonable Man, on Nader’s life and career. It’s available now on DVD, and you can check out a Youtube clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS1c5Ei0eIg.Last, check out http://nader.org/
MUNICH: Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s points-man on Afghanistan and Pakistan, is expected to engage Iran as part of the effort to combat Afghanistan’s growing drug trade, officials said.Tehran has been among the largest suppliers of financial and economic aid to Kabul since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. The US officials said they believed Iran might be willing to work with the US to strengthen the Karzai government. Holbrooke is expected to seek Iran’s support for a renewed international effort to combat Afghanistan’s growing drug trade. Iran has one of the highest opium-addiction rates in the world and Iranian authorities have long called for the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan to take stronger measures to combat the drug’s production and trafficking there. A spokeswoman for Holbrooke said the envoy would not comment on his plans until he returned from his visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. daily times monitor
Wow...a Democrat is President...and guess what - the military is still under orders to KILL
[I call that tacit approval for wars...gross...WTG Democrats! But hey...let's forget about all the dead people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza..it's so uncouth to bring that up when Obama and Congress are so busy ruling us...]
Monday: 4 US Soldiers, 9 Iraqis Killed; 29 Iraqis Wounded
In Iraq at least 9 Iraqis were killed and another 29 were wounded . A suicide bomber killed four U.S. soldiers in Mosul. The soldiers' interpreter was also killed in the attack, and three others were wounded. Iraqi officials finally admitted they have four Guantánamo detainees in custody. The U.S. is again claiming Iran is still supplying arms to militants in Iraq.
Mullen: No more than 30K new troops in Afghanistan
The nation's top military officer told soldiers on Monday that an estimated 30,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan as the U.S. ramps up forces there.
Web Service yourfonts provides a software package for creating your own fonts. Although it's commercial, they offer a free web service that allows you to design your own handwritten fonts in a jiffy! Simply print out the template, fill it out, scan it and upload it back to the site.
It is far from a novel observation to note that most people live in varying degrees of denial. We rarely encounter the person who is rigorously honest about his own virtues and defects, who acknowledges the full truth concerning those individuals most important to him, and who actively questions the validity of his deepest convictions. In part, this is due to social convention; it often is an understandable (if not desirable or healthy) part of a survival strategy.
If we recognize that denial represents valuing delusion more than reality, the seriousness of the danger carried by denial depends on the respective proportions of denial and truth in our lives. Our particular delusions may appear to provide us comfort and safety. As long as our lives continue to be sustained in significant part by what is true and healthy, denial will not seriously threaten our survival. But when what is true in our lives is overwhelmed by the lies we insist upon, our days grow shorter.
What is true for the individual is also true, in much more complex ways, of a nation and a culture. Many of us may know the individual story from our own experiences. We tragically may have encountered the person who destroys himself, his family, and perhaps a business and many other people, because he demands one more drink, or one more affair, or because he has to place one last bet. We hear that he has finally died alone in pitiful circumstances. Maybe he succumbs at last in an especially awful and desolate manner. He dies in a filthy hovel, or on the street. The destruction he causes may be terrible, but it remains limited. We may not be aware he has ceased to exist for months or even years after the fact.
The United States today is determined to act out the final stages of denial and destruction. Our ruling class refuses to pause and take stock, or to ask themselves if the edifice they have erected on a huge body of lies must be painfully reconstructed on a foundation closer to the truth. A pattern that is pitiful in the individual case is terrifying when it occurs on this much vaster scale. In the case of the United States, the terror is greatly increased. The accumulated reservoir of power, including an arsenal of weapons more powerful than the world has ever known, means that a last drink, or a last affair, or a final orgy of financial bets and war may result in the ultimate destruction of not only the United States itself, but of large parts of the rest of the world.
We may now have entered the final phase of this hideous drama. Because of the multiplicity of factors involved, this phase may last for years, or even decades. But it could reach its devastating end much more quickly. This is a time of immense historic peril, when any vestiges of a concern with truth would demand that the ruling class finally begin to loosen its death grip on delusion. Yet the ruling class continues in its absolute refusal to surrender even one of the endless lies it tells itself. Destruction rushes ever closer, and the ruling class persists in its delusions, repeating them with greater frequency and in a louder and louder voice. Nothing will stop them as they hurtle themselves toward devastation. We have no choice but to be concerned with these matters; as the ruling class destroys itself, it may destroy many of us as well.
We can observe this pattern in the two areas of greatest moment: the economic collapse of the United States, and the United States' conduct of foreign affairs. Let us now consider each of these subjects.
As a starting point for a discussion of the continuing economic collapse, try to make real to yourselves the overwhelming magnitude of these figures:
The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.
The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged up to $5.7 trillion more. The Senate is to vote this week on an economic-stimulus measure of at least $780 billion. It would need to be reconciled with an $819 billion plan the House approved last month.
Only the stimulus bill to be approved this week, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed four months ago and $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates enacted in 2008 have been voted on by lawmakers. The remaining $8 trillion is in lending programs and guarantees, almost all under the Fed and FDIC. Recipients’ names have not been disclosed.
The pledges, amounting to almost two-thirds of the value of everything produced in the U.S. last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up about 18 months ago. The promises are composed of about $1 trillion in stimulus packages, around $3 trillion in lending and spending and $5.7 trillion in agreements to provide aid. The total already tapped has decreased about 1 percent since November, mostly because foreign central banks are using fewer dollars in currency-exchange agreements called swaps.
Federal Reserve lending to banks peaked at a record $2.3 trillion in December, dropping to $1.83 trillion by last week. The Fed balance sheet is still more than double the $880 billion it was in the week before Sept. 17 when it agreed to accept lower-quality collateral.
The worst financial crisis in two generations has erased $14.5 trillion, or 33 percent, of the value of the world’s companies since Sept. 15; brought down Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.; and led to the takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co. by Bank of America Corp.
With this incomprehensible amount of present and future debt fixed firmly in your mind, focus on this statement from President Obama yesterday, a statement which serves as the primary justification for yet another increase in this staggering amount of debt based on what is now hugely less than nothing:
It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do.
Try to set aside the endless lies told to you by almost every voice of alleged "authority." Try to grasp the truth: the United States government has no resources left. The full truth is far, far worse: the United States government is bankrupt and in debt for trillions of dollars. Almost all our leaders and major Establishment voices tell us there is only way to solve this frightening problem: increase the debt still more.
This is the final bet our delusional ruling class insists it "has" to place, even as their world shatters and flies apart. The ruling class still hopes, with the intensity of the deranged maniac who hopes that one more high will finally take him into the realm of unimaginable ecstasy, that the bet can be made good. What if it can't?
This comes perilously close to clinical madness. But it is not quite fully mad. To appreciate what I mean, you need to remember two of the points I made in one of my first posts about the economic unraveling. In "The Vampire, Struck by Sunlight," I explained these points as follows:
Two: You, the "ordinary" American, are the one who finally pays for all of this. You are the ultimate sucker.
On this point, remember Mike Whitney's observation, as well:
Keep in mind, the biggest source of American power is its access to cheap capital via the US taxpayer.
The other point is this one:
Three: As with every other crisis, the ruling class, which created the crisis in the first place, will tell us how to "solve" it.
In that article, I also identified the ultimate purpose of this near-madness:
The crisis may be ameliorated to a degree, and the worst of the consequences may be postponed for a while. But whatever "solutions" are implemented, whatever reorganization and reregulation is imposed, it will all be done in accordance with the ruling class's desires and goals. It will all be to protect their own wealth and power to whatever extent is possible, and to expand their wealth and power still more, if that remains at all feasible.
For this, the ruling class will destroy the world.
In the last few months, I have seen two articles that describe what is now happening with special accuracy and power. Both writers express what is essentially the same idea, and come to the identical conclusion: at some point, perhaps very soon, this final bet will not be redeemed. This bet is very likely to be just that: the final one.
From the beginning of January, a Paul Craig Roberts article, "Will There be a Recovery?":
Economists will scoff at the question in the title. But that’s because they are trying to fit the present into the past.
In the past recoveries were routine, because recessions were temporary restraints resulting from the Federal Reserve putting the brakes on an overheating economy. ...
In those days when workers borrowed to spend, they were borrowing against rising real wages from rising productivity. In economic downturns, few workers actually lost their jobs. They were laid off from their jobs for temporary periods. Workers seldom lost their homes or cars, thanks to union funds and unemployment benefits.
Today the situation is different. In the 21st century real wages have not risen. Workers have spent more by accepting deteriorating household balance sheets. They have maxed out their credit cards and spent the equity in their homes. Imitators of the US government, American consumers borrow to pay their bills.
The expansion of household debt relative to income created the illusion that the economy was sound. But the consumer economy was as much of a credit-based bubble as the real estate bubble and the financial sector bubble. The economy has lost its real basis.
Today it is difficult to stimulate consumer demand by lowering interest rates. Consumers are too heavily in debt to borrow any more. Financial institutions are too impaired to want to lend to anyone except those who don’t need to borrow. ...
And there’s another problem. Much of what American consumers purchase today is made offshore. Stimulating consumer demand in America puts factories back to work, but those factories are located elsewhere in the world.
How does an economy consume more than it produces? Previously, this question applied only to poor third world countries. These countries would consume by the grace of World Bank loans. From time to time they would pay for their consumption by being put through an IMF restructuring program that would curtail their consumption to make them repay their loans by forced saving.
The United States has so far avoided such humiliation, because its currency is the world money. The US has been able to borrow endlessly, because it can pay its debts in its own currency.
This ability might be coming to an end. The US has been using up the bulk of the world’s supply of saving for years in order to finance its consumption. Considering the outlook for the US economy and dollar, the productive nations of the world and those with oil have more dollars and dollar-denominated assets than they want. The US, with its collapsing economy, its bailouts of financial institutions, and its wars, is facing the largest government budget deficit in its history, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of national income. The easy monetary policy, which the Fed hopes will arrest deflation, threatens inflation and further deterioration in the dollar. Foreigners simply do not want to lend more large sums to a country that, from all appearances, has no way to close its trade and budget deficits. They certainly do not want to lend when the interest rate offered is close to zero and the reserve currency status of the dollar is in doubt.
Economists and the policy-makers they advise are thinking in the past, a time when low interest rates stimulated consumer and investment demand, thus lifting the economy. Today the low interest rates threaten the dollar, discourage foreigners from lending more to the US, and deprive Americans of interest income necessary to their ability to pay their bills.
The United States is walking on quicksand. It is dependent on foreigners for the funding to conduct the day-to-day operations of its government. Its economy is a hollow shell reduced to dependence on a financial sector that is discredited worldwide. America’s government believes that its foreign wars of aggression are more important than any domestic needs, including the health care of its population.
What we are witnessing is a once great power engaging in fantasy to disguise from itself that it is a failed state.
On a number of occasions I have cautioned against deficit-financed fiscal stimuli in countries whose governments have weak fiscal credibility, that is, countries where current tax cuts or public spending increases cannot be credibly matched by commitments to future public spending cuts and tax increases of equal present discounted value. I believe that both the US and the UK fall into this category.
For a fiscal stimulus (current tax cut or public spending increase) to boost demand, it is necessary that the markets and the public at large believe that sooner or later, measures will be taken to reverse the tax cut or spending increase in present value terms. If markets and the public at large no longer believe that the authorities will assure fiscal sustainability by raising future taxes or cutting future public expenditure by the necessary amounts, they will conclude that the government plans either to permanently monetise the increased amounts of public debt resulting from the fiscal stimulus, or that it will default on its debt obligations. Permanent monetisation of the kind of government deficits anticipated for the next few years in the US and the UK would, sooner or later be highly inflationary. This would raise long-term nominal interest rates and probably give risk to inflation risk premia on public and private debt instruments as well. Default would build default risk premia into sovereign interest rates, and act as a break on demand.
Because I believe that neither the US nor the UK authorities have the political credibility to commit themselves to future tax increases and public spending cuts commensurate with the up-front tax cuts and spending increases they are contemplating, I believe that neither the US nor the UK should engage in any significant discretionary cyclical fiscal stimulus, whether through higher public spending (consumption or investment) or through tax cuts or increased transfer payments.
The US is helped by the absence of ‘original sin’ – its ability to borrow abroad in securities denominated in its own currency – and the closely related status of the US dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency. But this elastic cannot be stretched indefinitely. While it is hard to be scientifically precise about this, I believe that the anticipated future US Federal deficits and the growing contingent exposure of the US sovereign to its financial system (and to a growing list of other more or less deserving domestic industries and other good causes) will cause the dollar in a couple of years to look more like an emerging market currency than like the US dollar of old. The UK is already closer to that position than the US, because of the minor-league legacy reserve currency status of sterling.
The only element of a classical emerging market crisis that is missing from the US and UK experiences since August 2007 is the ’sudden stop’ - the cessation of capital inflows to both the private and public sectors. There has been a partial sudden stop of financial flows, both domestic and external, to the banking sector and the rest of the private sector, but the external capital accounts are still functioning for the sovereigns and for the remaining creditworthy borrowers. But that should not be taken for granted, even for the US with its extra protection layer from the status of the US dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency. A large fiscal stimulus from a government without fiscal credibility could be the trigger for a ’sudden stop’.
So just don’t do it. Focus fiscal resources on getting the credit mechanism and other key parts of the financial intermediation process going again. Effective Keynesian fiscal policy requires a virtuous policy maker, capable of credible commitment - that is, commitment capable of resisting the future the siren calls of opportunistic reneging on past commitments. The Obama administration is new and has had but limited opportunity to abuse the trust placed in its promises and commitments. That puts it in a better position that the UK government, which has been in office since May 1997. But many of the top players in Obama’s economic team are strongly identified with the failed policies, regulations and laws that brought us the disaster we are facing. So the amount of credibility capital is severely limited even for Obama. Use it to get credit flowing again. Tax cuts for friends and favoured constituencies, replacing clapped-out infrastructure and even the fight against global warming will have to wait until trust - public credit - is restored.
By their resolute insistence on maintaining their web of lies, our ruling class makes a "sudden stop" virtually inevitable. Much of the rest of the world now sees through those lies; only the United States ruling class refuses to give them up. To surrender them would threaten their own lives of power, wealth and comfort. We may find out very soon, much sooner than we might hope, whether their commitment to what is now a hollowed-out shell of power and wealth, to, that is, a fantasy of immense destructive power, is greater than their fear of the diminishment of their own belief that they can continue to make the rest of the world conform to their own delusions.
On top of these continuing economic delusions, we have the ruling class's delusions in the realm of foreign policy. We will look at those next. From the evidence already available, it appears that the ruling class is determined to place one last bet there as well. The destruction that may result is more frightening that any of us would dare to imagine. But such concerns don't matter to the ruling class. They have lived in their delusions for so long that they can no longer tell the difference between their imaginings and what is real. For them, their delusions are life; they have rendered themselves incapable of seeing that the delusions mean only destruction, and death.
So the madness and the destruction come still closer.
What is the Geula Party? Is it a political statement? Art? A spiritual manifesto? The Geula party seeks to be all of the above, but it is first of all an attempt to transmit a radically different message to the Israeli people on the eve of the Israeli elections which will take place this Tuesday, on the 10th of February.
Like the Intergalactic Underground, the idea for the Geula Party came from voyages in the psychedelic realms. It was there, while traveling in inner space, that I confronted a voice which urged me: "In this chaotic reality in which you live, you have to raise your voice and say something that will break the wall of lies in which the people are caught, in which you yourself are caught."
"Israel," the voice said, "is in a psychotic state, and what it needs now is an holistic cure."
Psychedelically-induced voices tend to make some curious demands. This one called upon me to leave everything in my life in order to start a new party, one that will be radically different from everything Israeli politics has to offer, a psychedelic party which will bring a truly mind expanding message to the people. This was the Geula party.
"Geula" is the Hebrew biblical word for salvation or redemption, and it has an important part in Jewish thought about inner freedom and the end of time. The Geula Party uses both Israeli as well as Jewish symbols but plants them within a psychedelic context. It was designed to be an alien apparition in the field of Israeli politics, but all the while draw from the bank of the Jewish and Israeli collective unconscious.
So what is it? To put it briefly, I can call the Geula Party a consciousness expansion party. In contrast to the other parties that run for parliament, the Geula Party runs in the inner elections, i.e., the elections going on inside our consciousness (in Hebrew the word "elections" and the word "choices" are the same -- "B'chirot").
Who do we run against? Well, we run against various other inner parties and powers that compete for people's attention and state of mind. We run against carnivorous capitalism, the powers of nationalism, the powers of commercials and mass media, and also the powers of random choice, of just living your life with out making one truly aware choice.
During the past three weeks, since the end of the war in Gaza, we have been broadcasting campaign videos on the web, calling upon Israelis to wake up, to take active inner action and raise the voting turnout in their inner ballots. We have been arguing that while one can only vote every four years and while our influence on politics as individuals is rather limited, we are casting our inner votes at every moment, and our influence there is absolute. You can argue for hours in vain about the political situation, but spending a few minutes wisely exploring your consciousness can change your life. Maybe, we suggest, if people start making their inner choices/elections, then one day things will start getting better in the outer world too.
The Geula Party calls upon Israeli voters (And of course, on people wherever they are) to start taking responsibility for their lives, to drop out from the hoax of culturally defined reality and choose the good, choose the Geula.
The Medium is the Message, and the Message is You
Although I have been openly writing about psychedelics in Hebrew for the past few years, advertising an openly psychedelic party could have been highly unwise in the current Israeli context.
However, a program for psychedelic consciousness expansion for Israeli society was badly needed for the Geula Party to go anywhere. Some tools for our mind to grow needed to be developed. The nine-minute program, another transmission received from the other realms, became the main part of the political platform of the Geula Party.
The nine-minute program is a consciousness expansion program made up of nine one-minute, open-ended consciousness exercises designed to help people cope with life and to enhance abilities such as love, faith, gratitude, and connection with the cosmos, with the past, and with the future.
The idea of the nine-minute program was further developed into the Inner Product Market, a part of the Geula Party website which functions as a web 2.0 platform for consciousness expansion. The Inner Product Market enables people to upload consciousness exercises they developed, and enables others to download consciousness exercises from the site into their consciousness -- thus creating a community for collective consciousness expansion. The idea behind the IPM was to create a basis for a society which will not be based on polluting consumer products, but on consciousness "products," and in which we are not simply consumers but consumers and producers of consciousness.
What we say to people is that we have to assume responsibility for our consciousness. We advance this idea with the slogan: "The medium is the message and the message is you." Marshall McLuhan was of course the one who said that the medium is the message. Adding the statement that "The message is you" means that before all other media, the most primal medium is that of our bodies and consciousness, and these are the first media that need to be explored and taken as the base of our reality, rather than culturally defined identity.
Consecrating Dizingoff Center
On the 10th of February, election day, the Geula Party will meet in front of the Dizingoff Center Mall in the center of Tel Aviv to perform a special ceremony. The ceremony, which draws inspiration from biblical sources as well as from the actions of the Yippie movement in the sixties, is meant to consecrate the Dizingoff Center Mall which is a symbol of modern day Israeli society with all of its sickness but also with everything that is so beautiful about it.
During the ceremony we plan to encircle center mall seven times while blowing our horns, and then stage a special ceremony in which we will sing some songs, and perform twelve consciousness exercises, one of which will include trying to get inside the consciousness of the next prime minister, whoever they will be, purge them of everything that is evil, and make them into slaves and servants of justice for the rest of their life.
The peak of our ceremony will be the forming of the alliance of the righteous. The alliance of the righteous is the alliance of all the people who are willing to proclaim that in 2009 --whomever the next prime minister will be, whatever our politicians do, and what other forces in the world do -- we choose to assume responsibility for our lives, to be good, and to be happy.
Is this politics? Is this art? Is this mysticism? Terrence McKenna said the first thing every activist must do is to become psychedelic. We like to think of the Geula Party as psychedelic activism, as a movement which advances "art that is politics, politics that are art. Mysticism which is politic, and politics which are mystical".
Israeli politics of consciousness
I realize that this text might raise a few eyebrows. Is it even possible to talk about consciousness given the current situation of Israel?
Since the last elections three years ago, Israel has engaged in two wars, the prime minister had to resign over suspicions of corruption, and the country's international position has radically deteriorated. Israel has polled a few times as one of the most hated or negative countries in the world, along with Iran.
I spent the whole of yesterday evening trying to write an introduction to Israel's current situation. I've decided to leave it out of this article because it was too tedious to read and too painful to write.
I realize with sorrow what the image of Israel and Israeli society is at the moment. I have seen some amazing people here react in totally different ways to the essential impossibility of the Israeli situation, either by becoming nationalistic or by becoming anti-Israeli or just by trying to distance themselves completely from the situation in Israel, sometimes by immigrating to other countries.
After 30 years of living the politics of this scarred country, the more I try to explore and to understand the political situation I live in, the less I feel I know. Both left and right ideologies seem to have crumbled. I personally can not believe anyone who thinks they have a sure solution for the situation. And by this I don't mean to say that we shouldn't look for one.
The only thing I can say about the situation in Israel is that it is not simple. Thinking about it in purely political terms has brought me nowhere. The only thing it made clear to me is the overwhelming pain and fear that people here experience on both sides. It is easy to hate Israelis and it is easy to hate Palestinians, it is easy to pronounce both as fools or fanatics. I prefer to think of them as humans in a really really cruel situation. What I am looking for is a way to feel compassion for all these people, regardless of the horrible mistakes we are all making.
It is difficult to engage in the politics of consciousness in the current situation in Israel. What is allowed for psychedelic activists in other parts of the world is liable to be called escapist in the bleak Israeli reality. But for me, psychedelic activism makes more sense than any other form of activism.
The Geula Party believes that the solution must start from within. And if we do offer a political solution in the conventional sense of the word, then it must be a totally different one, one that starts out from the psychedelic revelation that we are all first and foremost human beings and that the cultural definitions which have been forced upon us are a hoax.
If you ask me about a solution for the situation, I would have different proposals, but the only really good one I would have is: People should be people and live together. There is no other way. The thing that put us in this horrendous situation to begin with is culture. Without culturally-defined identity, there would be no reason for people here or elsewhere to fight in wars. What we must realize is that we are all under occupation, the occupation of false consciousness, the occupation of culture.
If we want to live in peace we must first let go of those cultural definitions that have been forced upon us and which prevent us from living together as human beings. People must realize that before everything else, we are humans, and that everything that hinders people from understanding that is destructive and should not be part of our identity.
Jacques Ellul said in The Technological Society: There are no political solutions, only technological ones, the rest is propaganda. The human race simply deserve a better political system, one in which all people are truly equal, one which brings people together and does not divide them by imaginary lines on a map, a political system in which the hellish wars we are currently experiencing would seem ludicrous since there would be no system to even make it possible.
Here are the links to the two elections broadcasts embedded above:
is to explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.-Rob Breszny
Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski has confirmed the authenticity of the footage showing the execution of the Polish geologist abducted by the Taliban.
The material, released by the abductors last evening, has reached the Polish Embassy in Islamabad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to a spokesman for Taliban militants, the body of the killed Pole would not be handed over until some captured Taliban were freed. Other reports suggest that the Taliban demanded an equivalent of 2,500 dollars in exchange for the body. Meanwhile, unofficial reports stating that the body of the killed hostage has been found remain unconfirmed as yet, said the head of the Polish diplomacy during a press conference. He has assured that the government had done everything in their power to rescue the Polish engineer.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk has expressed solidarity with members of the abducted Pole’s family. Mr Tusk said that in his view the Polish government has undertaken all possible measures to secure the release of the hostage.
Piotr Stanczak, worked for the Geofizyka oil and gas exploration company. He was abducted on 28 September 2008 in northern Pakistan, 200 km west of Islamabad. A few days after the kidnapping, he appeared in a video appealing for the release of Taliban militants.
This year will be a little different than years past. More ad hoc with recommendations rather than formal events dominating the 8 days but our hope is that this instigates more events in homes, on the streets, and in dark corners rather than at the old haunts with the same social habits. We desire kinetics derived from the anarchist energy to live and not stale events with stale ideologues yammering up on stage about blah blah blah and how if you buy my book you are somehow helping Real People (TM) in their fight for survival. Sell that shit on Amy Goodman but stop offending anarchists who (should) know better with it.
Announcing the 9th Annual Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory And Research & Development (BASTARD) conference. The conference will happen Sunday March 15th 10 am - 6 pm at UC Berkeley.
This year's theme is going to be anarchist principles. What are anarchist principles? How did anarchists practice these principles in the past? How do they practice them today? How have they changed?
We have a working hypothesis that the anarchist principles (version 1) are Mutual Aid, Solidarity, and Direct Action. At best our conference will have workshops on these principles, how they have been tested and shown to be relevant, practical and inadequate. This is an opportunity to examine anarchist practice through the principles that individual anarchists and anarchist groups and organizations hold in common.
This year we are going to continue our experiment from last year which we consider a success, The Open Space Thread. The idea was to provide a place for structured conversations on specific topics without requiring a talking head to lead the conversation. The conversations between like-minded strangers were inspired and we look forward to what develops from this years theme.
Submit your Proposal!
We are now accepting proposals along any theoretical theme that anarchists might find interesting. The forms is available at the bottom of this page or you may email proposals to the conference email, or send us your proposals and a little background info about yourself (and a SASE) to ASG c/o Long Haul 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley CA 94705.
The BASTARD conference promotes the understanding that there are multiple valid approaches to anarchism, each of which has points that are worth examining. Please come and share your approach. Participate in a commerce-free event with other anarchists who are interested in the theory and philosophy of where we've come from, where we are, and where we're going.
Proposal submission form
Please keep your synopsis to under 200 words. Keep your bio to less than 100.
Our intention is adding this information is to provide people who come to the conference without a lot of experience on the subject matter informed as to exactly what they are getting into. Do not list your institutional accomplishments! Keep those to yourself and your therapist.
Israeli forces ended their offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Saturday, 17 January, following the declaration of ceasefires by Hamas and Israel.
Highlighted below are some of the main buildings identified as destroyed or damaged in Gaza City and the surrounding area based on analysis by Unosat of satellite imagery taken on 19 January.
The image, taken for Unosat at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, has helped researchers identify at least 1,008 destroyed or damaged buildings.
The map below shows the main areas attacked in the three weeks of violence.
Palestinian medical sources say more than 1,010 Palestinians were killed in the violence, which began on 27 December 2008. Israel says 13 Israelis died, including 10 soldiers in the campaign and three civilians killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.
QUITO - Ecuador has summoned the US ambassador to express anger over a diplomat's letter saying Washington is suspending $340,000 in annual aid because it was not allowed to veto police appointments, the foreign minister says.
President Rafael Correa on Saturday ordered the expulsion of Armando Astorga, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement attache, who US Embassy officials say already left the country after completing his assignment.
On Monday, State Department officials in Washington declined to comment immediately on whether the US sought veto power over Ecuadorean officials, as Correa contends. US Embassy officials in Quito were not available.
An embassy representative previously said aid to anti-smuggling police was suspended in response to an Ecuadorean government policy, but did not elaborate.
Correa, a critic of US foreign policy in Latin America, said Astorga announced the aid suspension in a Jan. 8 letter that demanded the return of all donated equipment - including vehicles, furniture, cameras and phones.
Correa said the letter, addressed to Ecuador's police chief, also revealed that $160,000 in yearly aid to the Human Trafficking Unit was "being reconsidered."
Foreign Minister Fander Falconi met with US Ambassador Heather Hodges Sunday to formally lodge a complaint. The Ecuadorean government considers it "unacceptable" for US diplomats to play a role in appointing police positions, he said.
In a statement issued on Monday, he added that Quito intends to maintain respectful, cooperative ties with Washington.
In less than 24 hours Israel elects a new government, and in the hours beforehand the West Bank will be sealed down. Israel's hard liners surged ahead in public perception in the days leading up to the elections, though the election is still extremely close.
In the last election in 2006, the centrist Kadima party took power with promises of a US-sponsored peace with the Palestinians. After the 22-day campaign in the West Bank however, few Israelis harbor many illusions for a peaceful resolution.
During His inauguration speech, President Barack Obama declared: “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense.”
Hmm...if His Holiness is really defending my way of life, he’s slaughtering civilians and wasting billions in taxpayer dollars in the name of atheism, anarchism, veganism, and so on. How odd...
Here’s a news flash for the Pope of Hope: “Our way of life” (in the more general sense) not only needs to be apologized for, it needs to be permanently altered...in a major way. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 280 Haitians, and 307 Tanzanians.
Ponder this: a human born in America will have, on average, 370 times more of an environmental impact than a human born in Ethiopia. Let the president of Ethiopia eschew lifestyle apologies (for now). Here in the United States of Consumption, we lack that luxury. As Paul Hawken sez: “Really going green, means having less. It does mean less. Everyone is saying, ‘You don’t have to change your lifestyle.’ Well, yes, actually, you do.”
To borrow from the Situationists, in May of 1968: The future will only contain what we put into it now.
Join Derrick Jensen and Mickey Z. on April 25 for “Earth 911: A Wake-up Call for Obama Nation.” They’ll dissect the conventional wisdom that dominates and suffocates public debate in Washington. Along with highlighting what’s wrong with our current state of affairs, they’ll offer ideas for how we can go about fixing it. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see Derrick and Mickey together in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, only one Metro stop from Washington.
A must-have revised and expanded edition of The Disinformation Company's classic anthology, You Are STILL Being Lied To contains more than a dozen all-new essays from contributors like Norman Solomon, Graham Hancock, Alex Jones, John Major Jenkins, Robert Bauval, Richard DeGrandpre, Alexandra Bruce, John Hogue, Gregory Davis, and Scott Creighton on topics ranging from the misleading marketing of antidepressants to the truth about the North American Union, from media consolidation to the New Thought movement.
Editor Russ Kick's massive collection acts as a battering ram against the distortions, myths, and outright lies that have been shoved down our throats by the government, the media, corporations, organized religion, the scientific establishment, and others who want to keep the truth from us.
An unprecedented group of researchers including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Howard Bloom, Sydney Schanberg, Michael Parenti, Riane Eisler, Jim Marrs, and many, many others-investigative reporters, political dissidents, academics, media watchdogs, scientist-philosophers, social critics, and rogue scholars-paints a picture of a world where crucial stories are ignored or actively suppressed and the official version of events has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. A world where real dangers are downplayed and nonexistent dangers are trumpeted. In short, a world where you are being lied to.
Russ Kick is the author of 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know, Volumes 1 & 2, and The Disinformation Book of Lists. He is the editor of Everything You Know Is Wrong, Abuse Your Illusions, Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong, and Everything You Know About God Is Wrong.
On February 6, the Utah House Government Operations Committee passed SB 27. It had passed the Senate on January 30. It makes two small but useful changes to procedures for independent presidential candidates. It restores the statutory petition deadline that had been accidentally repealed in 1994, and sets that deadline as August 15. Also, it ends Utah’s unique requirements that independent presidential candidates must file in person. Gloria La Riva, presidential candidate last year of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, had complained about being forced to make a special trip to Utah just to file. The bill says an independent presidential candidate may choose an agent to file the paperwork.
The New York Times Book Review stated that Ralph Nader’s book, The Good Fight, isfundamentally a call to action. Last week when I attended Ralph Nader’s talk at Westfield State College I understood why. His first point is that we do not expect/demand enough of our government; we should ask for more. Why sit back and not ask? One concept was to teach civic citizen classes as he sees a decline in understanding or caring. He went on to discuss ‘community economic self-reliance’ - “let’s put some meaning into community,” he stated.
His community economic self-reliance words produced a large shoutout to credit unions and discussed their importance as cooperatives of the people. And, then he gave the example of the Schumacher Society and BerkShares, another very interesting concept.
I can’t write here the passion in his talk but from the few sentences above, I think you get his message. He believes we have been brought to “ouch”, yes, I think we are all feeling that pain; and believes that more of us need “fire in our bellies” so we can deter “ouch” in the future!
[I can't remember the last time I was so struck by a person. In January the day this happened, as the weeks went by I would think to myself that there must be something unique about this man to not be flooding the air with his own face...he somehow escaped the media jackyls for longer than anyone I've seen before....He seems so honest, focused, and has a heart of gold. I hope the rest of his life he is blessed with health & happiness.]
"I Was Sure I Could Do It" | 11:19Katie Couric speaks with Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger about the final moments before U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made a dramatic landing in N.Y.'s Hudson River.February 8, 2009
Asked if the passengers talked to him, Sullenberger said, "One man did. He said, 'You saved my life, thank you.'"
The captain's response? "You're welcome."
"And at that point also I was telling the people on the deck of the boats to rescue the people on the wings first, because we in the rafts were relatively safe," Sullenberger recalled.
He told Couric seeing the passengers standing on the wings was an "amazing sight" - one he'd never forget.
Sullenberger had landed the plane right between two ferry terminals. Within minutes, the first rescue boat pulled up alongside it, with others close behind. "It was amazing. It was crucial. It was lifesaving, literally," he said.
Asked what he would like to say to those rescuers and first responders, Sullenberger told Couric, "'Thank you' seems totally inadequate. I have a debt of gratitude I fear I may never be able to repay."
"According to someone in the pilots' union, you were still in total professional mode once you got off that airplane," Couric said.
"Well, I may have looked like it, but I was in shock," Sullenberger admitted. "I just crashed an airplane."
One of the first calls Sullenberger made was to his wife Lorrie.
Asked what he said to her, Lorrie Sullenberger said, "Well, I'll tell on myself and say that, when he did call our house, I was actually on the other line. And I ignored the phone call twice. And when he called the third time, I said to the person, 'I think I should take the call.' And so I hung up and took the call from Sully. And he was very calm and said, 'I just wanted you to know I'm okay.' But I thought that meant that he was on the flight coming home, that he had made the connection and was coming home. And I just said, 'Okay, that's good.' And he said, 'No, there's been an incident. I had to ditch an airplane in the Hudson River.' And I laid down on the bed for a moment. I wasn't crying, but I was just in shock, really shaking hard. I called an old best friend and said, 'Sully has just crashed an airplane and I don't know what to do.' And she said, 'Go get your girls.' And so I hung up and I went and got the girls and brought them home. "
Captain Sullenberger says even though he believed that everyone who had been on board was safe, he still wanted confirmation. "After bugging people for hours, I finally got the word that it was official. That the count was 155," he recalled.
All had survived.
Asked what he said when he heard the good news, Sullenberger said, "I don't remember saying anything. But I remember feeling the most intense feeling of relief that I ever felt in my life. I felt like the weight of the universe had been lifted off my heart."
bananas, apples, baby spinach, kale, raw almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, avocados, sprouts, cabbage, coconut milk, coconut water, hemp seeds, goji berries, raw pistachios, hemp milk, almond milk, collards, cauliflower, beets, carrots, kombucha tea, dehydrated fuits veggies are good as long as the temp never exceeded 118 degrees f. peaches absorb the most pesticides, avocados the least.
If the existence of what is referred to as the ‘mind/body connection’, which has spawned a massive industry of complementary medicine and given rise to a radical new mindset, still sounds like bunkum to you, hold onto your seat and read on.The new sciences quantum physics and epigenetics are revolutionising our understanding of the link between mind and matter, challenging established scientific theories and prompting a complete re-evaluation of life as we have known it.One of the shining lights to emerge from these new sciences is cellular biologist and best selling author, Bruce Lipton PhD, whose book, The Biology of Belief, was awarded 2006’s Best Science Book of the Year.Lipton maintains that pivotal to this shift in thinking within the scientific community has been groundbreaking insight into the function of genes.Bruce Lipton: The old vision was that genes are selfactualising (turn on and off). But current data reveals that there is no such thing as an on/off function for a gene because genes are blueprints (plans) to make proteins, which are the building blocks that give shape to the structure.The significance of this shift in belief is vast in that the original view led to the notion that we are victims of our biology. Whereas the ‘new’ sciences show that we are actually masters of our biology.The old vision was formulated by Francis Crick, who together with James Watson deciphered the structure of the DNAmolecule in 1953. Based on experiments that were taken out of context but supported what he and Watson were thinking, Crick became completely enamoured with the belief that DNA controls life. Crick came up with what is referred to in literature as the ‘central dogma’, the belief that DNA rules.The crucial thing here is that this was only a hypothesis. There was never any scientific validation for it yet we all bought it because a belief already existed that this would be the answer to what controls life so when the data looked like it would fit it was simply assumed that this was right. (Lipton, who taught Cell Biology at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine was one of thousands of lecturers who taught the theory.)This dogma became so fundamental to modern biology it was practically written in stone. It was the equivalent of science’s Ten Commandments.In the dogma’s scheme of how life unfolds, DNA perched loftily on top, followed by RNA – the short-lived ‘Xerox’ copy of the DNA. The new understanding of how genes work is that this hypothesis is incorrect because genes are actuallyblueprints that are read.Succeed magazine: Read by whom?BL: Exactly. That was the question. Suddenly the emphasis shifted and the issue became, who the heck is reading them? It transpires that the reader is the mind. So the mind becomes the all-powerful contractor of the body. The mind tells the cells what it anticipates and the cells go into the blueprint – the DNA – and create what the mind is anticipating.SM: So is this giving weight to positive thinking?BL: No.People hear about ‘positive thinking’ but when they attempt to put it into practice it doesn’t work because there is a step missing. The mind runs the biology but the important thing to recognise is that there are two parts to the mind, the conscious and the subconscious and that there are two very critical factors that distinguish the two parts.1. When it comes to processing information the subconscious mind is over a million times more powerful than the conscious mind.2. Neuro scientists have revealed that the conscious mind only operates at best about five percent of the day. Ninety five percent or more of the time (for most people ninety nine percent) we run our lives from the automatic processor, the subconscious mind.SM: Before we continue down this path, is there any hard evidence that the mind is the master controller of the body?BL: It has been statistically established that one third of all medical healings (including surgery) are derived from the placebo effect as opposed to intervention.This means if someone has an illness and takes a sugar pill under the assumption that it’s a prescribed drug designed to cure the condition, a healing will occur one third of the time.This is a scientifically established fact, which is taught in medical school and what it says is that perception and belief can instigate healing that occurs innately by the body. We have all been endowed with an innate healing ability that has been with us since the evolution of our species but from the age of six our brain patterns alter, we start acquiring perceptions about who we are in the world and in the majority of cases our conditioning over-rides this natural ability.During the first six years of life the brain is in a state of a hypnagogic trance at the level of the EEG (the brain activity) and records experiences of the world, just like a tape recorder.This is a very important part of nature’s plan for a new participant coming into the community because it allows the dominant program – language, behaviour etc – to be downloaded.quoteSM: Does that mean a child under six has a greater ability to heal itself?BL: Providing it hasn’t been exposed to the belief that it can’t innately heal.SM: Can you go a bit deeper? What exactly are these programs that are imprinted onto our brains?BL: A program is a series of messages to the brain. Through the senses the brain constantly scans the environment. It reads that’s going on and it puts together associations intolarger understandings.For example you might understand the colour red and the shape of round but initially a tomato is not perceived as a tomato. A tomato is a collection of different stimuli such as taste, texture, appearance.SM: Going back to self-healing, how do we go beyond the negative program that says we can’t heal ourselves?_BL: Let me come back to that. I want to add something important.When an infant is growing up it recognises that when it gets near what is called ‘water’ its parents get very anxious and imply that this ‘water’ is very dangerous. So here’s the thing, and this will relate back to our ability to self-heal.Fact: Every child when it’s born can swim like a dolphin. If it comes out of the birth canal underwater it is able to swim. We all have built-in an ability to swim. So why do we need to teach children how to swim?SM: Because they have received negative programming.BL: Right, and the negative programming shuts off even a given instinct.SM: Can the same apply to our ability to succeed?BL: Absolutely.Go back to the child and this time see it with parents who instil into it the program, ‘I don’t deserve’, which becomes part of its belief system and subconscious programming.Project ahead 40 years to when the child is an adult sitting in some tiny office thinking, I don’t understand why I’m in this dead end place with this wretched job. I’m well qualified and I’m smart so why am I here?Here is where the pieces come together. This guy is thinking this with the conscious mind that only runs the show five per cent of the day but he’s operating from the subconsciousmind that’s running the program, ‘I do not deserve’.The nature of the mind is to make coherence of the world. So if you have a program that says, ‘I do not deserve’, your brain will not let you generate behaviour that contradicts this because it’s nature says it has to be coherent.SM: So how do we get beyond that?BL: The first step is to own the fact that we have two minds and not deny that whatever is occurring in life – failure or success – is related to this fact. We need to shift the belief that we are victims of circumstances beyond our control.The two minds work in tandem. If the conscious mind is busy thinking about something the subconscious mind will do whatever task is at hand. But this is the critical thing. It will do it according to the program that was put in there, which is often negative and therefore reduces our abilities.Conclusion!If you tell a child it’s average and that’s the program, the child cannot exceed average because the brain will say, ‘this doesn’t make sense’. So no matter how hard that child tries it will unconsciously create average.SM: So how do we make friends with our subconscious mind?BL: First, recognise it’s there because if you keep thinking the world is against you you’ll keepshooting yourself in the foot.Until you own that you’re operating from your subconscious mind 95 per cent of the time you can’tgo to the next level.SM: You recognised the strength of the subconscious mind through kinesiology.BL: Yes. I discovered that when we compete the conscious and the subconscious, the subconscious always wins. So we’re functioning 95 per cent of the day with a more powerful mind that was programmed by other people with limitations that will prevent us from going someplace yet we can’t see it unless we purposely become aware of it.SM: Once you become conscious, what then?BL: You can habituate a new program by doing it continuously. That’s called Buddhist mindfulness. That’s what consciousness is all about. But that’s too hard for most people who are running at a million miles per hour. Another easier way of doing it is through energy psychology modalities, which are listed on my website.Credits: reprinted by Jill Fraser. from Succeed Magazine. Oct 07Dr Bruce Lipton recommends Psych-K as a modality, refer www.chrishooper.com.au. Also listed here are Dr Lipton’s books, DVDs and touring details.download article as PDF
[Thanks to the lovely and talented Annette for this link]
From Friday's Globe and Mail
February 6, 2009 at 2:00 AM EST
OTTAWA — On the first day of his fourth-year physics class, University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt announced to his students that he had already decided their marks: Everybody was getting an A+.
It was not his job, as he explained later, to rank their skills for future employers, or train them to be “information transfer machines,” regurgitating facts on demand. Released from the pressure to ace the test, they would become “scientists, not automatons,” he reasoned.
But by abandoning traditional marks, Prof. Rancourt apparently sealed his own failing grade: In December, the senior physicist was suspended from teaching, locked out of his laboratory and told that the university administration was recommending his dismissal and banning him from campus.
Firing a tenured professor is rare in itself, but two weeks ago the university took an even more extreme step: When Prof. Rancourt went on campus to host a regular meeting of his documentary film society, he was led away in handcuffs by police and charged with trespassing.
University of Ottawa Professor Denis Rancourt continues to advise students unofficially on their thesis projects. (Bill Grimshaw)
With his suspension raising questions of academic freedom, the Canadian Association of University Teachers has started an independent inquiry into the matter. “Universities are to be places that not only tolerate, but welcome, vigorous debate,” said executive director James Turk. “There would have to be some very serious misdeeds by Dr. Rancourt to justify this action.”
A university spokesperson refused to comment specifically on the trespassing incident or give reasons for the disciplinary action, saying that the decision was “very serious” and “not made lightly.”
Prof. Rancourt's suspension is the most serious step in a long series of grievances and conflicts with the university dating back to 2005, when, after researching new teaching methods, he first experimented with eliminating letter grades. He also altered course curriculum with student input – although not the approval of the university – an approach he calls “academic squatting.”
A well-published and politically outspoken scientist who revels in hashing out theories on napkins at conferences, Prof. Rancourt's unconventional teaching style has generated both an ardent following among a core group of students, and the rancour of many of his fellow faculty members, one-third of whom signed a petition of complaint against him in the fall of 2007. In the letter, which he provided, the complaints stem largely from a series of critical e-mails he distributed about their “paternalistic” teaching methods – a criticism he still expresses, with little restraint, today.
But he also has some high-profile support from an award-winning psychology professor at the university, Claude Lamontagne, who wrote in an e-mail that faculty members need to fight for the freedom to teach how and when they want, lest their independence be “pressed out of our souls like juice from an orange.”
Building on his science and society lectures, the self-described “anarchist” developed a popular course on activism at Ottawa U, which was cancelled by the university the following year, and started an alternative film society focused on social justice.
He made headlines after 10-year-old twins registered for his course with their mother – and he supported the filing of a human-rights complaint claiming ageism when the university said they couldn't stay. His research can be equally alternative: He has called global warming, for instance, a myth. He has also been an outspoken critic of “Israeli military aggression” and is not shy about expressing those views with students.
And while the university may be keeping quiet, Prof. Rancourt has freely disseminated his side of the story: correspondence with university officials and a video of his arrest has been posted on the Internet. “I have nothing to hide,” he says.
Sean Kelly, a master's student who had Prof. Rancourt as his thesis supervisor until his suspension, said some students complained in class when the professor allowed debates to wander off-topic – or refused to set deadlines for homework. Some people, Mr. Kelly admitted, took advantage of the free A, but many others put more energy into the class. Comparing Prof. Rancourt to other professors who practically give students the questions that will be on exams in advance, the 27-year-old said, “He really pushes you to think more for yourself.”
For now, Prof. Rancourt, 51, is meeting his graduate students in cafés, continuing to advise them unofficially on their thesis projects. He is still receiving his salary while awaiting a final decision from the university. The independent board of inquiry appointed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers may take many months to release a report.
But the professor is undeterred about those A-pluses: “Grades poison the educational environment,” he insists. “We're training students to be obedient, and to try to read our minds, rather than being a catalyst for learning.”
Mr Morales said he had accomplished his mission to refound Bolivia
Bolivia's President Evo Morales has enacted a new constitution that aims to empower the country's indigenous majority and allows for land reform.
Mr Morales said he had accomplished his mission to re-found Bolivia.
The new constitution was approved in a referendum last month by 61% of voters, but was rejected in the lowland regions where Bolivia's wealth is concentrated.
The constitution also scraps the single term limit for the president, allowing Mr Morales to seek re-election. Mr Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous president. Speaking to thousands of supporters in the town of El Alto, near the administrative capital of La Paz, Mr Morales said his opponents had "tried ceaselessly" to kill him."Now I want to tell you that they can drag me from the palace. They can kill me. Mission accomplished for the re-founding of the new united Bolivia."Bolivia's President Evo Morales has enacted a new constitution that aims to empower the country's indigenous majority and allows for land reform.Mr Morales said he had accomplished his mission to re-found Bolivia. The new constitution was approved in a referendum last month by 61% of voters, but was rejected in the lowland regions where Bolivia's wealth is concentrated. The constitution also scraps the single term limit for the president, allowing Mr Morales to seek re-election. Mr Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous president. Speaking to thousands of supporters in the town of El Alto, near the administrative capital of La Paz, Mr Morales said his opponents had "tried ceaselessly" to kill him. "Now I want to tell you that they can drag me from the palace. They can kill me. Mission accomplished for the re-founding of the new united Bolivia."KEY REFORMS Re-election: Allows Mr Morales to stand for re-election in Dec 2009
Indigenous rights: Stresses importance of ethnicity in Bolivia's make-up. A whole chapter devoted to indigenous rights
Autonomy: Power decentralised, four levels of autonomy - departmental, regional, municipal and indigenous
Resources: Sets out state control over key economic sectors, state sovereignty over vast natural gas fields
Judiciary: Indigenous systems of justice same status as official existing system. Judges will be elected, and no longer appointed by Congress.
Land: New limit on ownership 5,000 hectares (12,355). But measure not retroactive.
Below is the introduction, ten point program, and partial list of endorsers for the Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign In recent months, we have witnessed billions of dollars pumped into the financial institutions WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED. Reckless behavior and greed have been graced with the most extravagant rewards, allowing the rich to get even richer. After receiving their bailout, A.I.G. executives resumed their plans for a retreat at a lavish resort. Meanwhile, foreclosures have risen, unemployment has soared, and misery has spread with virtually nothing being done for the millions of workers suffering from these afflictions. We cannot sit back and simply hope that things will get better. The financial executives have organized themselves and lobbied for bailouts. We must now do the same. We must organize ourselves and mount a campaign, insisting that government programs benefit the majority of the population first and foremost, not the super wealthy small minority. At this historic crossroads, as we face the prospects of another Great Depression, we, the undersigned dedicate ourselves to forging the broadest unity in action among those in the labor movement, Black and Latino organizations, immigrant rights groups, and antiwar and other social justice protest movements to secure the emergency measures listed below. We endorse these demands as necessary steps to address the pressing needs of working people and the oppressed in general so that we can all enjoy a secure and comfortable life and find relief from an economic crisis we had no part in creating. We are committed to reaching out to more workers and encouraging them to endorse our demands and join our movement, the Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign (WERC), so that we can form committees across the country, organize educational forums, and then aim at building a national conference to promote this campaign. In this way we can begin to win the majority of working people to this agenda. In solidarity we can win. Here are 10 fundamental demands that we believe should be included in a Workers' Emergency Recovery Plan to Bail out Working People -- NOT Wall Street: 1. Put a halt to the Wall Street bailout plan. Not one more penny should be earmarked to bail out the bankers and speculators. It's time to bail out working people. 2. Enact a moratorium on all home foreclosures, utility shut-offs, evictions and rent hikes. Nationalize the mortgage industry, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 3. Enact H.R. 676 -- the universal, single-payer healthcare plan. Take the private insurance companies out of the healthcare equation. Guarantee fully funded pensions for retirees, along with healthcare and other benefits. 4. Enact the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) so that every worker can have union representation. 5. Stop the layoffs in auto and other industries across the country. Nationalize the Big 3 automakers. Re-tool the auto industry to build rapid mass transit, solar, and wind systems. 6. Stop the scapegoating of immigrant workers. Stop the ICE raids and deportations. 7. End all funding for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our troops home now. The war expenditures in these countries alone are estimated at $3 trillion. Redirect all war funding to meet human needs. 8. Enact a massive national reconstruction public works program (minimum expenditure needed of $1 trillion) to rebuild the nation's schools, hospitals and crumbling infrastructure and to put millions of people back to work at a union-scale wage. Provide all necessary funding for a genuine reconstruction program in the Gulf Coast; enact the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (H.R. 4048). 9. Defend and expand the rights and economic security of those who are unable to work. Grant living-wage benefits to single parents, disabled, seniors, and the unemployed. End the arbitrary, punitive time limits, sanctions, denial of education, and forced unwaged workfare in the TANF welfare program. 10. Tax the corporations and the rich -- not working people -- to finance a workers' recovery plan. The rich currently enjoy historically high levels of wealth while being taxed at bargain-basement rates. Implement a retroactive tax on windfall revenue on the oil-energy industry, return capital income taxation to 1981 levels, and repatriate the $2 trillion from the offshore tax havens. INITIAL LIST OF CAMPAIGN SUPPORTERS (partial list; * title listed for identification only) Nancy Wohlforth* (Co-Pres., Pride at Work/AFL-CIO, Vice Pres., California Federation of Labor) Cindy Sheehan (Gold Star mother, antiwar activist) United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) NEW Cynthia McKinney (former Member of Congress, 2009 Green Party presidential candidate) Donna Dewitt* (President, South Carolina AFL-CIO) Progressive Democrats of Americalist continued here
Real change doesn't happen without a powerful social
That's what world-renowned political scientist, activist and playwright
Howard Zinn told students and community members during a telephone
conference Thursday at Dundee-Crown High School
Zinn is best known for authoring the best-seller "A People's History of
the United States."
During the 60-minute conference, Zinn answered students' questions about
everything from Iraq and President Barack Obama to the Israel-Gaza
conflict. Zinn urged students to join organizations and "start doing
things" to initiate social change and to keep themselves globally
conscious by reading articles from foreign press.
Zinn warned students about becoming complacent with the status quo.
"It has never been enough to elect a liberal," Zinn said. "It's not
enough to say, 'We have a good guy in office, we can relax.' If you
relax, Obama becomes another politician."
Zinn said for change to happen, there needs to be "movements from
below." He said the United States will need social movements from labor
unions and black people and a movement to demand free health care to
turn things around.
Zinn also spoke about the United States' involvement in other nations
and how he believes that perpetuates bad feelings toward the U.S. from
other countries or groups, especially with the American occupation of Iraq.
"We have ruined that country by our war and our occupation," Zinn said.
"To keep troops there even another 16 months, I think, is a crime. ...
If you just go on thinking we're the best and they're the worst, then
you'll put up with all sorts of things."
One student's question about Americans' persistent hatred for communism
prompted Zinn to warn students against propaganda.
"When you use a word to scare people, then you can take away their
liberties," Zinn said. "The same thing is happening today with the word
Bruce Taylor, a Dundee-Crown social studies teacher, organized the
conference with Zinn and has organized past phone conferences with such
academics as Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer. Taylor said the conferences
give students the opportunity to broaden their thinking and hear
"They have really opened up critical dialogue at the school and changed the climate here," Taylor said.
Back in December, the Wall Street Journal had a good chuckle over Russian academic Igor Panarin’s prediction that the United States would break apart by 2010. Using threadbare Cold War logic, Andrew Osborn wrote that Panarin’s forecast “is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis.” For the WSL scribe, Panarin’s analysis is about the Red Bear “returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.”
In fact, it was not so much “weakness” that destroyed Russia as it was the IMF, the World Bank, and Wall Street, in other words it was another bankster looting and fire sale scheme that brought the former Soviet Union down, not that we should expect the Wall Street Journal to admit as much. Ditto the current “global financial crisis” and instability in the Middle East.
“Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar,” Osborn summarizes. “Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.”
In the case of a growing number of U.S. states, however, it is not so much economic decline and moral degradation pointing the way to a “disintegration,” but rather violations of the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791, and states restates the Constitution’s principle of Federalism by providing that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states and to the people. It is based on an earlier provision of the Articles of Confederation: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”
Although Fox News and CNN are not telling you about it, a growing number of states are declaring sovereignty. Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and Georgia have all introduced bills and resolutions declaring sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. Colorado, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine, and Illinois are considering such measures.
For details on the particular bills and resolutions introduced by the above states, check out the following:
Sadly, far too many Americans are woefully ignorant when it comes to understanding their rights and the Constitution. As Gary Alder notes in his “15 Key Principles of the Founding Fathers,” the “9th and 10th Amendments are the keystones to preserving Freedom.” In fact, the first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of (Individual) Rights, clarify the restraints placed on the national government and they safeguard the rights of individuals. It does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that all of these individual rights are under withereing attack by the federal government.
“Obama’s plans for a federal handgun license, ‘hate crimes’ laws to regulate Christians’ speech about their own religious beliefs on homosexuality, President Obama’s youth corps for mandatory public service and the so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine’ to ‘balance’ talk radio have New Hampshire Lawmakers telling Obama to basically grow up and get some better ideas,” writes Jake Jones. “They say that if Obama’s plans are implimented, it would constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States.”
Unfortunately, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were nullified many years ago, at least since the emergence of the Federalists under Alexander Hamilton, as Thomas J. DiLorenzo persausively argues. “Federalists like Joseph Story and John Marshall, and later Whig politicians like Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln… would tell The Big Lie that the Constitution was ratified by ‘the whole people’ and not as it actually was – by the citizens of the sovereign states, with their representatives assembled in state conventions,” writes DiLorenzo. In the years since, the reach and severity of federalism has grown expotentially. “The U.S. government is now characterized by dictatorial power, abuse of every kind of personal liberty, confiscatory taxation, economic fascism, dangerous militarism, and imperialism.” New World Order minion Obama will take this dictatorial power to new heights under the pretense of saving the people from the bankster engineered global economic depression.
As Obama and Congress further extend the dictatorial reach of the federal government — under the control of a small cotorie of globalists and international bankers — we can expect more states to assert their rights under the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.
The rhetoric of corporate politicians will not end after November 4th and neither will our opposition to it. There is no finish line in the struggle for justice, nor is democracy something which only occurs once every four years.
Stay tuned to VoteNader.org to see how you can get involved after the election. The Nader/Gonzalez political force looks forward to not only keeping this movement of the people going, but in expanding it in the following months as we shift our focus from the executive to the legislative branch.
Music, in order of appearance, by:
El-P - Tuned Mass Damper
DJ Infamy - Filthy 87
Video created by Manila Ryce
footage provided by Jordan Selvidge
Chalmers Johnson, author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, discusses the enormous and expanding U.S. defense budget amidst a general economic collapse, the army of defense lobbyists ready to fight against any spending cuts, how military spending diverts economic resources away from beneficial uses and how defense contractors make the largest and most dubious defense projects into sacred cows by spreading production to as many congressional districts as possible.
Chalmers Johnson is the author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. His latest article, “Economic Death Spiral at the Pentagon”, co-written with Tom Engelhardt, is at Tomdispatch.com and at Antiwar.com.
Restaurant chain Subway is still counting on Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps's power as a pitchman, despite the uproar over a photograph of him with a marijuana pipe, Advertising Age reported. "Like most Americans, and like Michael Phelps himself, we were disappointed in his behavior," Subway, which specializes in sandwiches, said in a statement. "Also like most Americans, we accept his apology. Moving forward, he remains in our plans." In an article posted on website AdAge.com, the industry journal cited "executives close to the matter" as saying a campaign featuring Phelps and slated for early 2009 would be delayed. However a spokeswoman for Subway couldn't confirm such a change, noting that the firm's statement on the Phelps affair gave no indication of such a move....
That state of grace is a condition in which all growth is effortless, a transparent, joyful acquiescence that is a ground requirement of all existence…You were born into a state of grace, therefore. It is impossible for you to leave it. You will die in a state of grace whether or not special words are spoken for you, or water or oil is poured up your head. You share this blessing with the animals and all other living things. You can not “fall out of grace”, nor can it be taken from you. You can ignore it. You can hold beliefs that blind you to its existence. You will still be graced but unable to perceive you own uniqueness and integrity, and blind also to other attributes with which you are automatically gifted.
Love perceives the grace in another.
Seth a non-physical being channeled by Jane Roberts.
The nature of personal reality
Page 150, session 636
BILL MOYERS: We use these term, media and press, pretty generally. I mean, "The Washington Post" is in the media and of the press. You all are in the media and of the press. But so is Rush Limbaugh.
I think you wrote on your blog that Dave Brody from the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson's outfit, will one Sunday show up on "Meet the Press." But an Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" will never show up on "Meet the Press." What's behind that phenomenon?
JAY ROSEN: I think part of the reason is that if Amy Goodman came on "Meet the Press," she would say all sorts of things that not only challenge the people on the program, but challenge what they have been saying over the years. Would go back, in a sense, discredit the narrative that's been building up for a long time. And even though it's maybe not wholly conscious, the idea that there's a kind of building narrative that is more or less accurate, that we kind of tell you what's going on in Washington, is a common assumption in the press. And people who would completely shatter that, don't.
GLENN GREENWALD: I think that's exactly right. It's all about the content of views. Rush Limbaugh can depict himself as being this insurgent outsider. But he supported the wars of the last eight years. He supported the tax policies that Ronald Reagan essentially instituted as conventional wisdom, that we need to lower taxes, reduce government spending. All of the conventional clichés that the media airs frequently, and doesn't need much time in order to explain, are ones that Rush Limbaugh and the furthest fringes of the right essentially embrace.
And so, to include them into our discussion is not very disruptive at all, whereas if you had people on from the left who were advocating things like the United States' responsibility for its unpopularity in the world, the fact that we wage wars and bomb other countries and invade and occupy other countries far more than any nation on the planet.
To include somebody like that would not only threaten the vested interests of everybody who's participating in these conversations, it would disrupt the entire narrative, as Jay said it would. Almost sound foreign, as though these views are un-serious views, don't belong in mainstream, serious shows. Because these views are never heard. They're stigmatized, they're demonized as being things that don't really deserve a platform. And so, you can't include advocates of these views in these shows.
[Once again, outrageous, reactionary, negligent stupidity. The U.S. Government can slaughter other humans, occupy other countries, torture, steal, lie, etc....But god forbid an adult smoke marijuana.]
From: http://www.canorml.orgKelloggs Drops Michael Phelps for Smoking Pot
Pot advocates unite! Tell Kellogg Company and USA Swimming that you're disgusted by their spurning of Michael Phelps. Phelps wasn't flaunting pot in public. His privacy was wrongly invaded. No one tried to sanction him when he was busted for drunken driving. Tell Kellogg and USA Swim that anti-pot bigotry is unacceptable to the millions of Americans who value the right to use marijuana. We can thank Hilton Hotels, Omega watches, Speedo swimsuits, and VISA for keeping Phelps as an endorser.
Kellogg Company contacts:
Kellogg Company, P.O. Box CAMB, Battle Creek, Michigan 49016.
Consumer Affairs Department 800-962-1413
Shame on you for dropping Michael Phelps! Phelps did nothing wrong. He has a right to his private life. Champions should have the right to use marijuana if they want. Please know that your anti-pot bigotry is unacceptable to millions of consumers who value the right to use marijuana. If you don't think Phelps is fit to endorse your product, then your product isn't fit to grace my table. Having eaten your cereals for over half a century, I'm ready to look for better alternatives.
- Dale Gieringer, Ph.D.
USA Swimming Contact:
use on-line contact form or:
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Fruit Flavored Snacks
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Chips Deluxe(R) Cookies
E.L. Fudge(R) Cookies
Fudge Shoppe(R) Cookies
Golden Vanilla Wafers(R) Cookies
Soft Batch(R) Cookies
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Murray(R) Sugar Free Cookies
The companies that have been awarded taxpayers' money from Congress's bailout bill spent $77 million on lobbying and $37 million on federal campaign contributions, Center finds. The return on investment: 258,449 percent.
WASHINGTON--(This release has been corrected to reflect that Bank of America has received $45 billion, not $55 billion, from the TARP program. The $45 billion includes $10 billion that Merrill Lynch received before being acquired by Bank of America. An earlier version of this release incorrectly added Merrill Lynch's $10 billion to Bank of America's $45 billion. Adjustments to the figures in the original release are in bold below.) The struggling companies whose freewheeling business practices have contributed to the country's economic woes are getting a lucrative return on at least one of their investments. Beneficiaries of the $700 billion bailout package in the finance and automotive industries have spent a total of $114.2 million on lobbying in the past year and contributions toward the 2008 election, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has found. The companies' political activities have, in part, yielded them $295.2 billion from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), an extraordinary return of 258,449 percent.
"Even in the best economic times, you won't find an investment with a greater payoff than what these companies have been getting," said Sheila Krumholz, the Center's executive director. "Some of the companies and industries that have received payments may now consider their contributions and lobbying to be the smartest investments they've made in years."
While the Treasury Department, not Congress, doles out TARP funds to specific institutions, congressional lawmakers had to authorize that money in the first place, and lawmakers will determine in the future whether to release more funds to prop up the U.S. economy. During the bill-writing process, members of Congress were able to specify to some extent where the money should go, and they have lobbied regulators to urge them to inject funds into specific banks and financial institutions, including those in lawmakers' own districts.
"Taxpayers hope their money is being allocated entirely on the merits, but with Congress controlling how much money the Treasury gets to hand out, it will be impossible to completely exclude politics from this process," Krumholz said.
Some of the top recipients of contributions from companies receiving TARP money are the same members of Congress who chair committees charged with regulating the financial sector and overseeing the effectiveness of this unprecedented government program. They include Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (he received $854,200 from the companies in the 2008 election cycle, including money to his presidential campaign) and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chair of the Senate Finance Committee (he received $279,000). In total, members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senate Finance Committee and House Financial Services Committee received $5.2 million from TARP recipients in the 2007-2008 election cycle. President Obama collected at least $4.3 million from employees at these companies for his presidential campaign.
Some, Not All, TARP Recipients Hired Lobbyists
Of the more than 300 companies that have been aided by TARP, 25 paid lobbyists a total of $76.7 million to represent them on Capitol Hill in 2008. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said recently that institutions collecting these funds won't be allowed to lobby the federal government going forward. In the 4th Quarter of 2008, when Congress was crafting bailout legislation, these companies spent $17.8 million on lobbying--less than what they spent in the prior three quarters, probably because they were strapped for cash.
In total, 161 companies approved for TARP money gave $37.5 million to federal candidates, parties and committees in the 2007-2008 election cycle, with 57 percent of that going to Democrats (post-election data is not yet available). The employees of these companies, rather than their political action committees, gave the bulk of that, at $26.1 million, or 70 percent. These two groups of donors seem to have differed in their partisan allegiance--individual employees gave 61 percent of their donations to Democrats, while PACs were more evenly divided, giving 51 percent to Republicans. Some of the companies to give the most in contributions, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, are also among the biggest donors of all time to U.S. politics.
The companies giving the most to fund lawmakers' campaigns and spending the most on lobbying efforts were also those that received the most TARP money to help them stay afloat. This includes General Motors, which spent $15 million between campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures and got $10.4 billion (more than all other companies), Bank of America (and the investment company it bought last year, Merrill Lynch), which spent $14.5 million to play politics and received $45 billion from the bailout bill; and American International Group (AIG), which spent $10.6 million and was paid out $40 billion. Citigroup was also one of the largest spenders to see a big result: between lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions, the company spent $12.5 million and got $50 billion. For a complete list of TARP recipients that spent money on campaign contributions and lobbying, see the chart below.
"TARP needs to be far more transparent," Krumholz of CRP said. "Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been handed out with little more than a one-line announcement. What qualified these companies for the money they're getting? What disqualified other companies? What contact has there been between members of Congress and the Treasury? What contact have lobbyists had with Congress and Treasury? These are reasonable questions, and taxpayers deserve answers."
The finance, insurance and real estate sector, including all companies and trade groups (not just those that qualified for TARP funds), spent $453.5 million on lobbying in 2008, an 8.7 percent increase from the year before. In the last quarter of '08, the sector spent $106.9 million on its influence-peddling efforts. The securities and investment industry spent $20.5 million in the 4th Quarter, insurance companies spent $36.7 million and real estate companies spent $16.5 million. And although this was a decrease from the 3rd Quarter for each of these industries, they had plenty of additional support. Trade associations in the finance, insurance and real estate sector spent $123 million on lobbying last year, more than they spent in each of the three years prior.
On its award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics tracks both campaign contributions to federal lawmakers and lobbying expenditures by organization, industry and sector. CRP calculated the numbers in this report by mashing up these databases with a list of TARP recipients accessed Feb. 2, 2009, from Treasury.gov. Post-election contribution data is not yet available but should be incorporated into OpenSecrets.org in the coming weeks.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS
The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. For 25 years the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center has aimed to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. CRP's award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere. For other organizations and news media, CRP's exclusive data powers their online features tracking money in politics. CRP relies on support from a combination of foundation grants and individual contributions. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, labor unions or trade associations.
Return on Investment
Total campaign contributions and lobbying by TARP recipients*
Campaign Contributions, 07-08 Cycle
Lobbying Expenditures, 2008
Return on Investment
Bank of America Corp**
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Wells Fargo & Company
General Motors Corporation
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
The PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
Chrysler Holding LLC
SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Capital One Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corp.
Fifth Third Bancorp
American Express Company
Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
CIT Group Inc.
State Street Corporation
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation
Northern Trust Corporation
Synovus Financial Corp.
First Horizon National Corporation
M&T Bank Corporation
City National Corporation
Webster Financial Corporation
Fulton Financial Corporation
TCF Financial Corporation
South Financial Group, Inc.
Wilmington Trust Corporation
East West Bancorp
Sterling Financial Corporation
Whitney Holding Corporation
Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc
Valley National Bancorp
UCBH Holdings, Inc.
New York Private Bank & Trust Corporation
Cathay General Bancorp
Wintrust Financial Corporation
SVB Financial Group
International Bancshares Corporation
Umpqua Holdings Corp.
MB Financial Inc.
First Midwest Bancorp, Inc.
Pacific Capital Bancorp
United Community Banks, Inc.
Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc.
Independent Bank Corp.
National Penn Bancshares, Inc.
Dickinson Financial Corporation
Central Pacific Financial Corp.
Sterling Bancshares, Inc.
1st Source Corporation
Park National Corporation
Old National Bancorp
Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc.
Plains Capital Corporation
Midwest Banc Holdings, Inc.
Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc.
Columbia Banking System, Inc.
Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc.
Bank of the Ozarks, Inc.
Wesbanco Bank Inc.
Green Bankshares, Inc.
Virginia Commerce Bancorp
Southwest Bancorp, Inc.
Flushing Financial Corporation
Superior Bancorp Inc.
Nara Bancorp, Inc.
SCBT Financial Corporation
CoBiz Financial Inc.
Union Bankshares Corporation
Liberty Bancshares, Inc.
Great Southern Bancorp
WSFS Financial Corporation
State Bankshares, Inc.
Home Bancshares, Inc.
Fidelity Southern Corporation
MetroCorp Bancshares, Inc.
Cadence Financial Corporation
Eagle Bancorp, Inc.
Bridgeview Bancorp, Inc.
OceanFirst Financial Corp.
First Defiance Financial Corp.
State Bancorp, Inc.
Fidelity Financial Corporation
Yadkin Valley Financial Corporation
West Bancorporation, Inc.
Encore Bancshares Inc.
First Security Group, Inc.
Centrue Financial Corporation
Pulaski Financial Corp
Peapack-Gladstone Financial Corporation
Centerstate Banks of Florida Inc.
Citizens & Northern Corporation
Peoples Bancorp of North Carolina, Inc.
Shore Bancshares, Inc.
Intervest Bancshares Corporation
HF Financial Corp.
Heritage Financial Corporation
Wainwright Bank & Trust Company
Citizens South Banking Corporation
First Financial Service Corporation
C&F Financial Corporation
Carver Bancorp, Inc
Bar Harbor Bankshares/Bar Harbor Bank & Trust
Security Federal Corporation
ECB Bancorp, Inc./East Carolina Bank
Timberland Bancorp, Inc.
Carolina Bank Holdings, Inc.
BankFirst Capital Corporation
Monarch Financial Holdings, Inc.
Morrill Bancshares, Inc.
First Manitowoc Bancorp, Inc.
1st Constitution Bancorp
Pacific Coast Bankers' Bancshares
Mid Penn Bancorp, Inc.
Uwharrie Capital Corp
Midland States Bancorp
New Hampshire Thrift Bancshares, Inc.
Citizens First Corporation
First Sound Bank
Western Community Bancshares, Inc.
Fidelity Bancorp, Inc.
Somerset Hills Bancorp
American State Bancshares, Inc.
Patapsco Bancorp, Inc.
Seaside National Bank & Trust
Pacific Commerce Bank
Capital Pacific Bancorp
Bank of Commerce
FPB Financial Corp.
Treaty Oak Bancorp, Inc.
*TARP recipient list accessed at Treasury.gov on Feb. 2, 2009. List includes only recipients that spent money on lobbying or were associated with campaign contributions. Campaign contributions include money from PACs and individuals but do not include post-election fundraising.
**Includes data for Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by Bank of America
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger borrows from Lord West of Spithead to deconstruct current mythology, such as the 'impartiality' of the BBC and the 'radical changes' implemented by President Obama.Growing up in an Antipodean society proud of its rich variety of expletives, I never heard the word bollocks. It was only on arrival in England that I understood its majesterial power. All classes used it. Judges grunted it; an editor of the Daily Mirror used it as noun, adjective and verb. Certainly, the resonance of a double vowel saw off its closest American contender. It had authority.A high official with the Gilbertian title of Lord West of Spithead used it to great effect on 27 January. The former admiral, who is security adviser to Gordon Brown, was referring to Tony Blair’s famous assertion that invading countries and killing innocent people did not increase the threat of terrorism at home.“That was clearly bollocks,” said his lordship, who warned of the perceived “linkage between the US, Israel and the UK” in the horrors inflicted on Gaza and the effect on the recruitment of terrorists in Britain. In other words, he was stating the obvious: that state terrorism begets individual or group terrorism at source. Just as Blair was the prime mover of the London bombings of 7 July 2005, so Brown, having pursued the same cynical crusades in Muslim countries and having armed and disported himself before the criminal regime in Tel Aviv, will share responsibility for related atrocities at home.There is a lot of bollocks about at the moment.The BBC’s explanation for banning an appeal on behalf of the stricken people of Gaza is a vivid example. Mark Thompson, the director general, cited the BBC’s legal requirement to be “impartial... because Gaza is a major ongoing news story in which humanitarian issues... are both at the heart of the story and contentious.”In a letter to Thompson, David Bracewell, illuminated the deceit behind this. He pointed to previous BBC appeals for the Disasters Emergency Committee that were not only made in the midst of “an ongoing news story” in which humanitarian issues were “contentious”, but demonstrated how the BBC took sides. In 1999, at the height of the illegal Nato bombing of Serbia and Kosovo, the TV presenter Jill Dando made an appeal on behalf of Kosovar refugees. The BBC web page for that appeal was linked to numerous articles meant to support the gravity of the humanitarian issue. These included quotations from Blair himself, such as “This will be a daily pounding until [Slobodan Milosevic] comes into line with the terms that Nato has laid down.” There was no significant balance of view from the Yugoslav side, and not a single mention that the flight of Kosovar refugees began only after Nato had started bombing. Similarly, in an appeal for the victims of the civil war in the Congo, the BBC favoured the regime of Joseph Kabila without referring to the Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and other reports accusing his forces of atrocities. In contrast, the rebel leader Nkunda was “accused of committing atrocities” and was ordained the BBC’s bad guy. Kabila, who represented western interests, was clearly the good guy – just like Nato in the Balkans and Israel in the Middle East.While Mark Thompson and his satraps richly deserve the Lord West of Spithead Bollocks Blue Ribbon, that honour goes to the cheer squad of President Barack Obama, whose cult-like obeisance goes on and on.On 23 January, the Guardian’s front page declared, “Obama shuts network of CIA ‘ghost prisons’ ”. The “wholesale deconstruction [sic] of George Bush’s war on terror”, said the report, had been ordered by the new president who would be “shutting down the CIA’s secret prison network, banning torture and rendition...”.The bollocks quotient on this was so high that it read like the press release it was, citing “officials briefing reporters at the White House yesterday”. Obama’s orders, according to a group of 16 retired generals and admirals who attended a presidential signing ceremony, “would restore America’s moral standing in the world”. What moral standing? It never ceases to astonish that experienced reporters can transmit PR stunts like this, bearing in mind the moving belt of lies from the same source under only nominally different management.Far from “deconstructing [sic] the war on terror”, Obama is clearly pursuing it with the same vigour, ideological backing and deception as the previous administration. George W. Bush’s first war, in Afghanistan, and last war, in Pakistan, are now Obama’s wars – with thousands more US troops to be deployed, more bombing and more slaughter of civilians. On 22 January, the day he described Afghanistan and Pakistan as “the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism”, 22 Afghan civilians died beneath Obama’s bombs in a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds and which, by all accounts, had not laid eyes on the Taliban. Women and children were among the dead, which is normal. Far from “shutting down the CIA’s secret prison network”, Obama’s executive orders actually give the CIA authority to carry out renditions, abductions and transfers of prisoners in secret without the threat of legal obstruction. As the Los Angeles Times disclosed, “current and former intelligence officials said the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role.” A semantic sleight of hand is that “long term prisons” are changed to “short term prisons”; and while Americans are now banned from directly torturing people, foreigners working for the US are not. This means that America’s numerous “covert actions” will operate as they did under previous presidents, with proxy regimes, such as Augusto Pinochet’s in Chile, doing the dirtiest work.Bush’s open support for torture, and Donald Rumsfeld’s extraordinary personal overseeing of certain torture techniques, upset many in America’s “secret army” of subversive military and intelligence operators as it exposed how the system worked. Obama’s nominee for director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has said the Army Field Manual may include new forms of “harsh interrogation”, which will be kept secret.Obama has chosen not to stop any of this. Neither do his ballyhooed executive orders put an end to Bush’s assault on constitutional and international law. He has retained Bush’s “right” to imprison anyone, without trial or charges. No “ghost prisoners” are being released or are due to be tried before a civilian court. His nominee for attorney-general, Eric Holder, has endorsed an extension of Bush’s totalitarian USA Patriot Act, which allows federal agents to demand Americans’ library and bookshop records. The man of “change”, is changing little. That ought to be front page news from Washington.The Lord West of Spithead Bollocks Prize (Runner-up) is shared. On 28 January, a national Greenpeace advertisement opposing a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport summed up the almost willful naivety that has obstructed informed analysis of the Obama administration. “Fortunately,” declared Greenpeace beneath a God-like picture of Obama, “the White House has a new occupant, and he has asked us all to roll back the spectre of a warming planet.” This was followed by Obama’s rhetorical flourish about “putting off unpleasant decisions”. In fact, Obama has made no commitment to curtail the America’s infamous responsibility for the causes of global warming. As with Bush and most modern era presidents, it is oil, not stemming carbon emissions, that informs the new administration. Obama’s national security adviser, General Jim Jones, a former Nato supreme commander, made his name planning US military control over the exploitation of oil and gas reserves from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Guinea in Africa.Sharing the Bollocks Runner-up Prize is the Observer, which on 25 January published a major news report headlined, “How Obama set the tone for a new US revolution”. This was reminiscent of the Observer almost a dozen years ago when liberalism’s other great white hope, Tony Blair, came to power. “Goodbye Xenophobia” was the Observer’s post-election front page in 1997 and “The Foreign Office says Hello World, remember us”. The government, said the breathless text, would push for “new worldwide rules on human rights and the environment” and implement “tough new limits” on arms sales. The opposite happened. Last year, Britain was the biggest arms dealer in the world; currently it is second only to the United States.In the Blair mould, the Obama White House “sprang into action” with its “radical plans”. The new president’s first phone call was to that Palestinian quisling, the unelected and deeply unpopular Mohammed Abbas. There was a “hot pace” and a “new era”, in which a notorious name from an ancien regime, Richard Holbrooke, was dispatched to Pakistan. In 1978, Holbrooke betrayed a promise to normalise relations with the Vietnamese on the eve of a vicious embargo that ruined the lives of countless Vietnamese children. Under Obama, the “sense of a new era abroad”, declared the Observer, “was reinforced by the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state”. Clinton has threatened to “entirely obliterate Iran” on behalf of Israel.What the childish fawning over Obama obscures is the dark power assembled under cover of America’s first “post-racial president”. Apart from the US, the world’s most dangerous state is demonstrably Israel, having recently killed and maimed some 4,000 people in Gaza with impunity. On 10 February, a bellicose Israeli electorate is likely to put Binyamin Netanyahu into power. Netanyahu is a fanatic’s fanatic who has made clear his intention of attacking Iran. In the Wall Street Journal on 24 January, he described Iran as the “terrorist mother base” and justified the murder of civilians in Gaza because “Israel cannot accept an Iranian terror base (Gaza) next to its major cities”. On 31 January, unaware he was being filmed, Israel’s ambassador in Australia described the massacres in Gaza as a “pre-introduction” - dress rehearsal - for an attack on Iran.For Netanyahu, the reassuring news is that Obama’s administration is the most Zionist in living memory – a truth that has struggled to be told from beneath the soggy layers of Obama-love. Not a single member of Obama’s team demurred from Obama’s support for Israel’s barbaric actions in Gaza. Obama himself likened the safety of his two young daughters with that of Israeli children while making not a single reference to the thousands of Palestinian children killed with American weapons - a violation of both international and US law. He did, however, demand that the people of Gaza be denied “smuggled” small arms with which to defend themselves against the world’s fourth largest military power. And he paid tribute to the Arab dictatorships, such as Egypt, which are bribed by the US Treasury to help the US and Israel enforce policies described by the United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, a Jew, as “genocidal”.It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. “In the time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Buy a House on Credit and Have Many Children...the American [Idiot] Way...
[Se hablo Credit? This post is merely to express my disgust with the fact that the people I know with children and homes on credit are getting in the THOUSANDS of dollars back for their tax returns. I'm not seeing the fairness here....]
Note: Dr. Joseph Stiglitz is a professor at Columbia University, former chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, former chief economist for the World Bank, and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
With all due respect, I believe you have missed the point of what is going on within the U.S. economy, which causes your proposed solutions to be similarly flawed.
The purposes of this letter are to delineate my objections to what you have written, to bring our differences before the public, and to challenge you to a debate when I visit New York City on February 27-March 1, 2009.
You state that, “America’s recession is moving into its second year, with the situation only worsening.” But you then say, “The hope that President Obama will be able to get us out of the mess is tempered by the reality that throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at the banks has failed to restore them to health, or even to resuscitate the flow of lending.”
You thereby imply that the economic crisis is due to problems within the financial sector and that it would be a good thing to “resuscitate the flow of lending” without challenging why that lending became such a huge factor in our economy.
I say: The problem does not lie with the financial sector except that the debt-based monetary system acts as a parasite on the producing economy, resulting in the vast overhang of debt that can never be repaid. “Resuscitating the flow of lending” will do no good, because the collapse of consumer purchasing power due to job outsourcing and income stagnation has made it impossible for people to pay their debts. Most of this debt now needs to be written off and our producing economy restored as our chief source of wealth.
You say of the government’s bailout actions late last year: “Then there was the hope that if the government stood ready to help the banks with enough money — and enough was a lot — confidence would be restored, and with the restoration of confidence, asset prices would increase and lending would be restored.”
I say: In making this observation you may be correct, but you fail to challenge the policy whereby asset price inflation, in the absence of real economic growth, has become an ersatz economic driver. Throughout your writings you have ignored the fact that the government and the banking system have deliberately created financial bubbles to shore up the economy, engender profits, and maintain tax revenues. This is what the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan did in collusion with the Bush administration to create a recovery when the Dot.com bubble was collapsing in 2000-2001. None of your proposals would revitalize the producing economy or restore consumer income. You seem to be mainly trying to re-inflate the asset-financial bubble in your own way.
You say: “The underlying problem is simple: Even in the heyday of finance, there was a huge gap between private rewards and social returns. The bank managers have taken home huge paychecks, even though, over the past five years, the net profits of many of the banks have (in total) been negative. And the social returns have even been less — the financial sector is supposed to allocate capital and manage risk, and it did neither well. Our economy is paying the price for these failures — to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.”
I say: It is true that bank manager salaries and bonuses are obscene, but the way you characterize “social returns” is shortsighted. You speak of bank profitability falling short even though, since the financial deregulation of the 1980s and 1990s, the banks have become the nation’s chief growth industry, with profits as late as 2006 of over $500 billion. Further, the financial sector doesn’t really “allocate capital.” What it does is skim the cream off the top of the producing economy by financing consumption and facilitating the most irresponsible types of speculation in the real estate, equity, hedge fund, and derivative markets. For example, up to 97 percent of futures contracts comes from bank loans irrespective of whether such lending has any benefit for consumers or producers. The banks allocate capital primarily for their own benefit, which I believe you recognize, but we now need to find alternatives to a monetary system based on bank-created debt, not just try to get it running again while ignoring the disasters that have befallen working men and women and their families.
You say, in regard to the ongoing government actions: “But even were we to do all this — with uncertain risks to our future national debt — there is still no assurance of a resumption of lending. For the reality is we are in a recession, and risks are high in a recession. Having been burned once, many bankers are staying away from the fire.”
Again, you speak favorably of a “resumption of lending” as resolving the problem. I say: What you are proposing is simply to shore up our debt-based monetary system without addressing the facts that our manufacturing jobs have been exported to China and other low-cost labor markets, our automobile industry is collapsing due to the failure of consumer demand, wages and salaries have stagnated for two decades, workers have not shared in productivity increases, and the total societal debt load on a GDP of $14 trillion is now approaching $70 trillion. These are the problems that must be addressed, not getting the banks to lend again when people can’t pay off the debts they already have.
You say: “What’s the alternative? Sweden (and several other countries) have shown that there is an alternative — the government takes over those banks that cannot assemble enough capital through private sources to survive without government assistance…Inevitably, American taxpayers are going to pick up much of the tab for the banks’ failures. The question facing us is, to what extent do we participate in the upside return?”
I say: Having the government run the banks instead of the private sector will not restore the economic fundamentals of a weak economy. Availability of bank credit does not by itself lead to greater production of goods and services. What it should do is make the liquidity available for the production-consumption cycle to work smoothly. The idea that a deregulated financial sector should be given precedence over all the other economic sectors is the essence of the supply-side, trickle-down philosophy that began during the Reagan years and has catastrophically failed.
You say: “Eventually, America’s economy will recover. Eventually, our financial sector will be functioning — and profitable — once again, though hopefully, it will focus its attention more on doing what it is supposed to do.”
I say: Please tell us exactly HOW America’s economy will recover. Will it recover after real unemployment, including “discouraged workers” hits 20 percent, which it is likely to do over the next few months? Will it recover after millions of more people have their homes foreclosed? Will it recover after the automobile industry dies? What exactly is your prescription? If you don’t have one, I would ask you to consider what I am proposing in my paper: “A Bailout for the People: Dividend Economics and the Basic Income Guarantee.” In that paper I put forth what I am calling the “Cook Plan.” This consists of a $1,000 a month payment per capita made by the government through a system of vouchers for necessities that are then deposited in a new series of local community savings banks that would lend at one percent interest for small business, local manufacturing, and family farming. The vouchers would be a dividend, distributed as each citizens’ fair share of our amazing productive economy without recourse to government taxation or debt. The dividend would provide income security, eliminate poverty, and result in a renaissance of local and regional economic activity, and it would start to act immediately, not “eventually.”
On Friday, February 27, 2009, I will be in your hometown of New York City presenting the “Cook Plan” at the 8th Congress of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network and the Annual Convention of the Eastern Economic Association. That evening I will present the program at a Town Hall meeting in connection with President Obama’s series of citizens’ forums at Nola Studio B, 244 West 54th St., 11th floor in Manhattan, at 8 p.m.
On the evening of Saturday, February 28, I am free, and would be glad to meet you to debate these ideas at a location of your choosing.
[Even when shut out of the process, minor party candidates manage to get their ideas across to those who are paying attention. I wonder what would have happened if Nader would have had a podium during the Presidential debates? Do you truly believe that either major party could stand up to the simple and true logic Nader presented? If so, you’re wrong. They would have been shattered, their platitudes would have been smashed to smithereens on national TV. ]Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a “team of rivals.” America was told that finally, after years of yes-men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln’s lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that “team of rivals” was what George Orwell calls “newspeak”: an empty slogan “claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts.”
Obama’s national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq war opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only “rivalry” is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.
Of course, that lock-step uniformity pales in comparison to the White House’s economic team—a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants.
At the top is Lawrence Summers, the director of Obama’s National Economic Council. As Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary in the late 1990s, Summers worked with his deputy, Tim Geithner (now Obama’s Treasury secretary), and Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel (now Obama’s chief of staff) to champion job-killing trade deals and deregulation that Obama Commerce Secretary-designate Judd Gregg helped shepherd through Congress as a Republican senator. Now, this pinstriped band of brothers is proposing a “cash for trash” scheme that would force the public to guarantee the financial industry’s bad loans. It’s another ploy “to hand taxpayer dollars to the banks through a variety of complex mechanisms,” says economist Dean Baker—and noticeably absent is anything even resembling a “rival” voice inside the White House.
That’s not an oversight. From former federal officials like Robert Reich and Brooksley Born, to Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, to business leaders like Leo Hindery, there’s no shortage of qualified experts who have challenged market fundamentalism. But they have been barred from an administration focused on ideological purity.
In Hindery’s case, the blacklisting was explicit. Despite this venture capitalist establishing a well-respected think tank and serving as a top economic adviser to Obama’s campaign, the Politico reports that “Obama’s aides appear never to have taken his bid [for an administration post] seriously.” Why? Because he “set himself up in opposition” to Wall Street’s agenda.
The anecdote highlights how, regardless of election hoopla, Washington is the same one-party town it always has been—controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by kleptocrats (i.e., thieves). Their ties to money make them the undead zombies in the slash-and-burn horror flick that is American politics: No matter how many times their discredited theologies are stabbed, torched and shot down by verifiable failure, their careers cannot be killed. Somehow, these political immortals are allowed to mindlessly lunge forward, never answering to rivals—even if that rival is the president himself.
Remember, while Obama said he wants to slash “billions of dollars in wasteful spending” at the Pentagon, his national security team is demanding a $40 billion increase in defense spending (evidently, the “ludicrous” faction got its way). Obama also said he wants to crack down on the financial industry, strengthen laws encouraging the government to purchase American goods, and transform trade policy. Yet, his economic team is not just promising to support more bank bailouts, but also to weaken “Buy America” statutes and make sure new legislation “doesn’t signal a change in our overall stance on trade,” according to the president’s spokesman.
Indeed, if an authentic “rivalry” was going to erupt, it would have been between Obama’s promises and his team of zombies. Unfortunately, the latter seems to have won before the competition even started.
David Sirota is the best-selling author of “Hostile Takeover” (2006) and “The Uprising” (2008). He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future. Find his blog at OpenLeft.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.
[I love how Democrats say that Ralph Nader 'just runs for President and then disappears'...that's such bullshit...just remember it's Obama who WILL NOT meet with him...which I guess makes him less worthy than a 'terrrrist'....Stupidity abounds in the two-party farce..meanwhile....]
February 6, 2009
The Honorable Eric Holder
Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Re: Corporate Crime Data Base
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Congratulations on your appointment. We wish to offer our support to the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the coming years for the development of a key tool for addressing the menace of corporate crime: a corporate crime data-base.
The department’s development of a corporate crime database is long overdue. For example, it has now been nearly 30 years since the department has undertaken a comprehensive study of the extent and cost of corporate crime to the United States.(1) We have urged your predecessors to undertake the creation of an annual report since 1992.
We urge you to direct the department to undertake this important proposal as part of a comprehensive approach to corporate crime. Such a report would not only spell out the magnitude and nature of this complex and multi-faceted issue, but would also provide law enforcement officials with a comparative analysis of recent trends and the relative effectiveness of various sanctions as deterrents.
The FBI oversees the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, which tracks certain categories of street crime from over 17,000 local and state law enforcement agencies. The UCR program’s annual reports constitute a useful barometer of trends in street crime.
An equivalent program should exist to collect and track information on various types of corporate crime and corporate law-breaking, including but not limited to antitrust and price-fixing, environmental crimes, financial crimes (including the various types of accounting fraud witnessed in recent years), overseas bribery, health care fraud, trade violations, labor and employment-related violations (discrimination and occupational injuries and death), consumer fraud and tax fraud.
Some of this information is already compiled by different state and federal agencies, including the DoJ itself, but the data are rarely aggregated so as to provide an overall assessment of the state of corporate crime. Other agencies and departments that currently do not compile this kind of information would be encouraged to do so if the DoJ signaled its importance. As the nation’s top law enforcement officer, we are asking you to provide the kind of leadership necessary for this coordination to occur.
The potential use of such information for deterrent measures also makes such an effort worthwhile. Information on individuals who commit criminal offenses is easily accessible to law enforcement agencies through the National Crime Information Center, which maintains a national database used by local, state and federal law enforcement officials to track criminals. Unfortunately, a similar database on corporations does not currently exist, although it could be used in a variety of ways – e.g. to enhance the kind of information necessary to screen out those corporations that do not meet the “responsible contractor” standards of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, and to help state and federal prosecutors identify recidivist violators and trends in corporate crime in specific industries. In addition, a publicly-available version of such information would be of tremendous use to socially-concerned investors, journalists, criminologists and other interested members of the public.
In February, 2006 we met with representatives from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, who agreed that, if given the resources to do so, such an effort would be possible. And, as the history of the UCR reports demonstrates, improvements in collection and presentation can be made with time. Groups including the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which analyzes federal government enforcement statistics, could be consulted on questions of methodology.
We believe that at a minimum, a corporate crime database (searchable by parent company and major subsidiaries) should include the following:
The database should include individual company data. This would include the number of civil, administrative and criminal enforcement actions brought against corporate defendants by government agencies involving a felony charge, misdemeanor or civil charge where potential fines may be $1,000 or more. The data should specify the agency bringing the charge, the charge, the name of the company charged (including ultimate parent company), and the outcome of the action if any, including plea agreements, consent decrees, findings of innocence, convictions and fines and other penalties.
This company-specific information should also be organized in a publicly-available, searchable database, just as the Federal Procurement Data Center provides a searchable, online database of federal contractors.
The database should compile agency enforcement data. The number, description and status of investigations initiated by federal agencies (including the FBI, but also EPA, SEC, IRS, OSHA, CPSC, etc.), as well as the number of cases referred to U.S. Attorneys for criminal prosecution should also be included.
Prosecution records should also be maintained. This would include the number of cases referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution each year by the FBI or other federal and state agencies, as well as the status and ultimate disposition (i.e. how many of those referrals were prosecuted; how many of those prosecuted were found guilty; the magnitude and kind of penalties involved).
An estimate of the costs of corporate crime should be included in the annual report. In its 2001-2006 strategic plan, the department explained that “precise financial losses resulting from White Collar Crime (WCC) for consumers, government, and business are unknown since no systematic data collection exists.” Various estimates place the costs of corporate crime to the rest of society at hundreds of billions each year. A 1996 GAO study, for example, estimated that health care fraud alone ranges from 3 to 10 percent of all health care expenditures – i.e. as much as $100 billion each year. (Malcolm Sparrow of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard estimates that the damage is much greater -- as high as 30 to 40 percent of total health care expenditures.) An effort should be made to determine not only the costs of crimes committed by individuals against businesses and investors (white collar crime), but also the costs that various types of corporate crime create for the rest of society.
An explanation of methodologies used should be included. Recognizing that efforts to collect and categorize this information are likely to improve with time, a clear explanation of the methodologies used and an index of all information categories should also be included.
An analysis of any new trends in corporate crime and an explanation of the relative effectiveness of different sanctions should also be included in each annual report.
The UCR measures certain forms of white-collar crime, but because corporate crime is multifaceted and complex, it does not always come to the attention of law enforcement officials. That is why we encourage you to collect this data in collaboration with other agencies responsible for enforcing related regulations.
We understand that the Criminal Justice Information Services Division has begun to develop a system to capture data from the federal agencies willing to participate in this kind of effort, and would like to see that effort expanded, with publicly-available online databases and an annual corporate crime report similar to the Crime in America report.
By focusing on statistics related to corporate (organizational) crime in addition to white-collar (individual) crime the DoJ will enhance public understanding of “crime in the suites,” improve the government’s ability to avoid contracting with criminal corporations and provide a deterrent effect by exposing corporate misdeeds. A relatively small amount of resources devoted to this task will go a long way toward promoting lawful corporate behavior.
We look forward to hearing from you about this important issue.
Ralph Nader, Center for the Study of Responsive Law
Jim Donahue, Essential Information
Charlie Cray, Center for Corporate Policy
cc: Representative John Conyers, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary
Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
(1) See Marshall Clinard, Project Director, Illegal Corporate Behavior U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, October 1979.
Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and third-party presidential candidate, recalls that his father always asked his children, “In school today, did you learn to believe or to think?”
He hoped that his children were learning to actively question and think, not passively accept the supposed truths.
He wanted them to be reasonably skeptical, not blindly trained to accept authority. He knew that to think is to bring up troubling questions, which aren’t easy to raise in the face of the conformity that too often prevails even in schools.
The “right answer” in politics, religion or finance is liable to be just the established dogma. Aren’t students supposed to believe that their country is benevolently guided by personable leaders who can be counted on to rule in the public’s interest?
The almost universal belief in the need to invade Iraq or that the economy was reliably rosy should suggest why skepticism is a desirable trait. As one of our poets sarcastically cautioned, “If anything had been wrong, we should certainly have heard!”
So, Iraq, a weak Third World country 7,000 miles away, severely racked by the Gulf war and 12 years of sanctions, was supposed to be a threat to the United States.
We were supposed to accept, without evidence, that it had major weapons, or that if it did have them, that gave us the moral right to invade; that its leader was as bad as Hitler; and that it was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
The result is that 1 million people have been killed, including about 5,000 Americans. An additional 31,000 have been wounded.
The optimistic projections on the economy and the failure of business and the government to do anything to ensure it are now too obviously a case in point. The $700 billion we have since given to the major banks, which have partly caused our financial failure, to do with what they choose, is another case in point.
“All governments are run by liars. They are not to be believed,” asserted American journalist I.F. Stone, in opposition to reporters’ usual trust in the government line.
Leaders in countries that allow great inequality – and ours currently does – have interests that are in conflict with most of the ruled. They rule for the wealthy and powerful while stripping down to their shirtsleeves to assure us they are just like us. Don’t we know that corporations, the real power economically and politically in America, produce safe products only in so far as the public forces this?
Drug companies pull their unsafe offerings off the market only when they are forced to; tobacco companies would never have conceded how dangerous their products are (and still don’t completely); GM went after Nader for showing how unsafe Corvairs were; and we know we can’t rely on what corporate ads tell us about their products.
And who can thoughtfully believe that corporations would pay us anymore than they are forced to, out of the kindness of their heartless centers?
Yet corporate propaganda has us not only wearing their names and logos on our clothes and other paraphernalia, but paying extra to do so.
We are supposed to believe that someone in authority is genuinely looking out for us, or at least perhaps a higher power is. Many tie the leadership of their country to that of an almighty and benevolent overseer who always saves the chosen people “one nation under God.” But this seems just a type of idolatry, an excuse to relieve democratic citizens of their responsibilities to speak out and pressure the powerful.
Power conditions slavish beliefs, and power without skeptical overview corrupts.
Thoughtful skepticism is the protection of an enlightened people, as many of America’s founders knew. Unfortunately, it can be hazarded that most Americans would never dare entertain an idea that the authorities characterize as heretical, un-American, anti-war or socialist much less express such an idea.
In a technically free society, most quickly see the peril of independent thought and free expression, except in the abstract, where it can be extravagantly praised.
Jim Scofield of Richland Township is a professor emeritus of English at Pitt-Johnstown.
I recall a beloved friend recounting for me, several decades ago now, a brief exchange of dialogue from The Andy Griffith Show that she had found especially funny. Barney Fife, as played by the wonderfully loopy Don Knotts, is rapidly hurtling himself into one of his regular fits of hysteria. Andy Griffith attempts, for perhaps the thousandth time, to calm Barney down before he melts into a pool of gibbering goo. "Just remember, Barney," Andy drawls, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This pronouncement fails to have the desired effect."But that's what I have!" yells Barney. "Fear itself!"And that's what Barack Obama wants you and every other American to have: fear itself. He wants all of you to become quivering pools of mindless goo:
What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.
Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.
That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress.
Feel the fear? Pass my plan, and pass it now, or -- our new bold, transcendent leader tells us -- the world as you know it will cease to exist in significant part.One principle above all is crucial to remember here: whenever any individual is intent on making you act, and when he uses fear as the primary motivation to make you act in the particular way he demands, you should profoundly distrust him. It is almost certain that he is attempting to get you to do something that you might discover cannot be justified. But to discover that, you would need time and calm to consider the arguments, weigh the facts, and determine if different arguments and additional facts have been carefully omitted from those being used to pressure you so mercilessly.But time and calm are precisely those conditions that such an individual will prohibit you from having, to the extent he can. He wants you to be like Barney Fife; he wants you to feel fear itself, and nothing else at all. That way, you are much more likely to do what he demands. In fact, you are almost certain to do it.Americans have the retention capability of a backward gnat. I would say that you must be familiar with this pattern and remember its previous uses, and that you are thus on guard about the momentous dangers it carries. But of course, most Americans remember and understand none of this:
North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction.
We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack.
And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.
We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
It worked then, and it will work now.I am very, very far from being an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt. Here's one reason, the internment of Japanese-Americans is another (together with the unreasoning bigotry and hatred directed at the Japanese in general, which the U.S. government did everything in its power to raise to frightening levels: "Everyone from journalists to President Roosevelt routinely used the dehumanizing slang term 'Jap,' and regularly compared Japanese soldiers and civilians to monkeys, baboons, and gorillas. ... New Dealer Paul McNutt, chairman of the War Manpower Commission, went [Elliott Roosevelt] one better, recommending 'the extermination of the Japanese in toto.'") and here are many other reasons, if you can stand a huge dose of reality and a wealth of facts that will undermine those cherished myths so dear to so many. But despite these horrors (and this list is far from complete), and as seen in one of his most famous formulations, Roosevelt still often appealed to Americans as adults and sought the agreement of people who were still recognizably human. At least some of the time, he attempted to steer Americans away from being overcome and paralyzed by fear.Consider the distance we've traveled in the ensuing years. Now, three-quarters of a century later, our heralded new president explicitly and repeatedly seeks to instill mind-obliterating fear in all of us, to reduce all of us to puddles of goo -- so that we will do exactly what he demands. He doesn't want you to reflect on his plan, he doesn't want you to consider the incomprehensible amount of debt his "recovery" bill will add to a nation that is already bankrupt, he doesn't want you to wonder even momentarily if this redirection of massive amounts of resources, both financial and in terms of human labor, will accomplish any of the goals he has proclaimed. He wants one thing, and only one thing: he wants you to obey. And most Americans will.Once again, I emphasize the connection between those murderous tactics consistently employed by the United States government in foreign affairs and identical tactics now used on the domestic front in ways that become increasingly brazen. In discussing this issue, I wrote the following in "Terrorist State, Abroad and At Home":
The fundamental lesson [in U.S. foreign policy] is unmistakable, and unmistakably evil in intent and execution (a word made horribly appropriate in more than one sense by our government's actions): you will do exactly as we say -- or else.
It is now critical to note a further implication of this murderous method of dealing with others. Just as it is not possible for an individual to restrict what constitutes a fundamental psychological methodology to only one area of his life, so a ruling class will not employ one approach in foreign policy while dealing with matters of domestic politics in a radically different manner. In any case, the U.S. ruling class never had such a desire: in one way or another, other nations would be made to submit to the demands of the U.S. government -- and the same is true for U.S. citizens. The citizens of America will do exactly as the ruling class demands -- or else. As far as the ruling class is concerned, you have as little reason to complain as the murdered Iraqis do: the ruling class only wishes to improve your life. The ruling class acts only on your behalf, and "for your own good."
You now witness these tactics of intimidation and of the most transparently, viciously manipulative fear-mongering deployed by almost every member of the ruling class in connection with the bailout bill. I will not rehearse another time all the reasons this bill will do nothing but hasten the economic destruction of the United States, or why it is supposedly designed to solve a problem that cannot be solved: begin with my most recent essay on this subject, and follow the links (or scroll through the last few weeks of posts) for much more. (In the following, I do not even mention the cruder and more obvious methods of intimidation now so beloved by our government. See an earlier essay -- "Obey or Die" --for just one kind of example of what the cruder methods entail.)
The words speak for themselves, but the purpose of these pronouncements should be emphasized: our rulers do not want to scare you to death, although your death would hardly approach a matter of any serious concern for them. While your death is not (necessarily) required, your obedience is. You will obey them -- or else.
There is one particular reason, or rather an interconnected series of reasons, why Obama's stimulus bill will not work and cannot work, although aspects of it may appear to work, but only on the surface and only in the short-term. And certainly, many of the standard Establishment voices, on both left and right, will repeatedly tell us it's working -- but at this point, you should not need me to remind you that those Establishment voices lie to you all the time, about every matter of consequence.And Obama has already proven, in a matter of weeks, that he will maintain additional terrorist tactics in his arsenal, and that he is fully prepared to use them. We will examine these additional issues shortly.
From: http://www.ballot-access.org/On February 5, Ralph Nader filed his response brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Arizona ballot access case. The purpose of his brief is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court that it shouldn’t bother to hear Arizona’s appeal. The issues are whether the U.S. Constitution protects out-of-state circulators, and whether early June is too early for an independent presidential petition deadline. Here is the brief; it’s good reading, although unfortunately the attorneys who wrote it erroneously said that Nevada and Utah have even earlier deadlines than Arizona. Actually the Nevada deadline is in July and the Utah deadline is in September.
(as of 5:50 pm ET, 2/05/09, based on published estimates. Cost estimates are not yet available for all amendments. As a result, some amendments may have a cost not included in this total.)
Direct Spending to Federal Agencies*
(Ordered by Amount)
Health, Education & Labor
+$6.5 B Sen. Harkin (S.AMDT.178): NIH Biomed Research (by Voice Vote)
Energy & Water
+$0 B Sen. Cardin (S.AMDT.237): Amend Small Business Invest. Act (by Voice Vote)
+$0 B Sen. Dorgan (S.AMDT.300): Clarify "Buy American" Provisions (by Voice Vote)
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs
+0 B Sen. Landrieu (S.AMDT.102): Disaster Relief for Housing (by Unanimous Consent)
Dept. of State
Direct Spending to Individuals*
(Ordered by Amount)
Medicaid/State Fiscal Relief
-$246 M Sen. Coburn (S.AMDT.109): Strike Hollywood earmark (Passed 52-45)
+$11 B Sen. Mikulski (S.AMDT.104): Tax Relief for Car Purchase (by Voice Vote)
$18.5 B Sen. Isakson (S.AMDT.106): Tax Credit for Home Purchase (by Voice Vote)
+$2 B Sen. Bond (S.AMDT.161): Tax Credit for Low Income Housing (by Voice Vote)
Assistance to the Unemployed
Health Info. Technology
*Sources: Congressional Budget Office, Senate Finance Committee, & other published sources used for Amendments not yet evaluated by CBO.
**The CBO defines a "tax cut" as a reduction in taxes paid. Tax benefits to those not currently paying a tax are considered in the "spending" category.
I’ve said all along that whatever good changes might occur in regard to non-foreign policy issues, such as what’s already taken place concerning the environment and abortion, the Obama administration will not produce any significantly worthwhile change in US foreign policy; little done in this area will reduce the level of misery that the American Empire regularly brings down upon humanity. And to the extent that Barack Obama is willing to clearly reveal what he believes about anything controversial, he appears to believe in the empire.
The Obamania bubble should already have begun to lose some air with the multiple US bombings of Pakistan within the first few days following the inauguration. The Pentagon briefed the White House of its plans, and the White House had no objection. So bombs away — Barack Obama’s first war crime. The dozens of victims were, of course, all bad people, including all the women and children. As with all these bombings, we’ll never know the names of all the victims — It’s doubtful that even Pakistan knows — or what crimes they had committed to deserve the death penalty. Some poor Pakistani probably earned a nice fee for telling the authorities that so-and-so bad guy lived in that house over there; too bad for all the others who happened to live with the bad guy, assuming of course that the bad guy himself actually lived in that house over there.
The new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first airstrikes, saying, “I’m not going to get into these matters.”1 Where have we heard that before?
After many of these bombings in recent years, a spokesperson for the United States or NATO has solemnly declared: “We regret the loss of life.” These are the same words used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a number of occasions, but their actions were typically called “terrorist”.
I wish I could be an Obamaniac. I envy their enthusiasm. Here, in the form of an open letter to President Obama, are some of the “changes we can believe in” in foreign policy that would have to occur to win over the non-believers like me.
Just leave them alone. There is no “Iranian problem.” They are a threat to no one. Iran hasn’t invaded any other country in centuries. No, President Ahmadinejad did not threaten Israel with any violence. Stop patrolling the waters surrounding Iran with American warships. Stop halting Iranian ships to check for arms shipments to Hamas. (That’s generally regarded as an act of war.) Stop using Iranian dissident groups to carry out terrorist attacks inside Iran. Stop kidnapping Iranian diplomats. Stop the continual spying and recruiting within Iran. And yet, with all that, you can still bring yourself to say: “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”2
Iran has as much right to arm Hamas as the US has to arm Israel. And there is no international law that says that the United States, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not. Iran has every reason to feel threatened. Will you continue to provide nuclear technology to India, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while threatening Iran, an NPT signatory, with sanctions and warfare?
Stop surrounding the country with new NATO members. Stop looking to instigate new “color” revolutions in former Soviet republics and satellites. Stop arming and supporting Georgia in its attempts to block the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhasia, the breakaway regions on the border of Russia. And stop the placement of anti-missile systems in Russia’s neighbors, the Czech Republic and Poland, on the absurd grounds that it’s to ward off an Iranian missile attack. It was Czechoslovakia and Poland that the Germans also used to defend their imperialist ambitions — The two countries were being invaded on the grounds that Germans there were being maltreated. The world was told.
“The U.S. government made a big mistake from the breakup of the Soviet Union,” said former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev last year. “At that time the Russian people were really euphoric about America and the U.S. was really number one in the minds of many Russians.” But, he added, the United States moved aggressively to expand NATO and appeared gleeful at Russia’s weakness.3
Making it easier to travel there and send remittances is very nice (if, as expected, you do that), but these things are dwarfed by the need to end the US embargo. In 1999, Cuba filed a suit against the United States for $181.1 billion in compensation for economic losses and loss of life during the almost forty years of this aggression. The suit held Washington responsible for the death of 3,478 Cubans and the wounding and disabling of 2,099 others. We can now add ten more years to all three figures. The negative, often crippling, effects of the embargo extend into every aspect of Cuban life.
In addition to closing Guantanamo prison, the adjacent US military base established in 1903 by American military force should be closed and the land returned to Cuba.
The Cuban Five, held prisoner in the United States for over 10 years, guilty only of trying to prevent American-based terrorism against Cuba, should be released. Actually there were 10 Cubans arrested; five knew that they could expect no justice in an American court and pled guilty to get shorter sentences.
Freeing the Iraqi people to death … Nothing short of a complete withdrawal of all US forces, military and contracted, and the closure of all US military bases and detention and torture centers, can promise a genuine end to US involvement and the beginning of meaningful Iraqi sovereignty. To begin immediately. Anything less is just politics and imperialism as usual. In six years of war, the Iraqi people have lost everything of value in their lives. As the Washington Post reported in 2007: “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.”4 The good news is that the Iraqi people have 5,000 years experience in crafting a society to live in. They should be given the opportunity.
Demand before the world that this government enter the 21st century (or at least the 20th), or the United States has to stop pretending that it gives a damn about human rights, women, homosexuals, religious liberty, and civil liberties. The Bush family had long-standing financial ties to members of the Saudi ruling class. What will be your explanation if you maintain the status quo?
Reinstate the exiled Jean Bertrand Aristide to the presidency, which he lost when the United States overthrew him in 2004. To seek forgiveness for our sins, give the people of Haiti lots and lots of money and assistance.
Stop giving major military support to a government that for years has been intimately tied to death squads, torture, and drug trafficking; in no other country in the world have so many progressive candidates for public office, unionists, and human-rights activists been murdered. Are you concerned that this is the closest ally the United States has in all of Latin America?
Hugo Chavez may talk too much but he’s no threat except to the capitalist system of Venezuela and, by inspiration, elsewhere in Latin America. He has every good historical reason to bad-mouth American foreign policy, including Washington’s role in the coup that overthrew him in 2002. If you can’t understand why Chavez is not in love with what the United States does all over the world, I can give you a long reading list.
Put an end to support for Chavez’s opposition by the Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other US government agencies. US diplomats should not be meeting with Venezuelans plotting coups against Chavez, nor should they be interfering in elections.
Send Luis Posada from Florida to Venezuela, which has asked for his extradition for his masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, taking 73 lives. Extradite the man, or try him in the US, or stop talking about the war on terrorism.
And please try not to repeat the nonsense about Venezuela being a dictatorship. It’s a freer society than the United States. It has, for example, a genuine opposition daily media, non-existent in the United States. If you doubt that, try naming a single American daily newspaper or TV network that was unequivocally against the US invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam. Or even against two of them? How about one? Is there a single one that supports Hamas and/or Hezbollah? A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a story concerning a possible Israeli attack upon Iran, and stated: “Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations.”5
Alas, Mr. President, among other disparaging remarks, you’ve already accused Chavez of being “a force that has interrupted progress in the region.”6 This is a statement so contrary to the facts, even to plain common sense, so hypocritical given Washington’s history in Latin America, that I despair of you ever freeing yourself from the ideological shackles that have bound every American president of the past century. It may as well be inscribed in their oath of office — that a president must be antagonistic toward any country that has expressly rejected Washington as the world’s savior. You made this remark in an interview with Univision, Venezuela’s leading, implacable media critic of the Chavez government. What regional progress could you be referring to, the police state of Colombia?
Stop American diplomats, Peace Corps volunteers, Fulbright scholars, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, from spying and fomenting subversion inside Bolivia. As the first black president of the United States, you could try to cultivate empathy toward, and from, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. Congratulate Bolivian president Evo Morales on winning a decisive victory on a recent referendum to approve a new constitution which enshrines the rights of the indigenous people and, for the first time, institutes separation of church and state.
Perhaps the most miserable people on the planet, with no hope in sight as long as the world’s powers continue to bomb, invade, overthrow, occupy, and slaughter in their land. The US Army is planning on throwing 30,000 more young American bodies into the killing fields and is currently building eight new major bases in southern Afghanistan. Is that not insane? If it makes sense to you I suggest that you start the practice of the president accompanying the military people when they inform American parents that their child has died in a place called Afghanistan.
If you pull out from this nightmare, you could also stop bombing Pakistan. Leave even if it results in the awful Taliban returning to power. They at least offer security to the country’s wretched, and indications are that the current Taliban are not all fundamentalists.
But first, close Bagram prison and other detention camps, which are worse than Guantanamo.
And stop pretending that the United States gives a damn about the Afghan people and not oil and gas pipelines which can bypass Russia and Iran. The US has been endeavoring to fill the power vacuum in Central Asia created by the Soviet Union’s dissolution in order to assert Washington’s domination over a region containing the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world. Is Afghanistan going to be your Iraq?
The most difficult task for you, but the one that would earn for you the most points. To declare that Israel is no longer the 51st state of the union would bring down upon your head the wrath of the most powerful lobby in the world and its many wealthy followers, as well as the Christian-fundamentalist Right and much of the media. But if you really want to see peace between Israel and Palestine you must cut off all military aid to Israel, in any form: hardware, software, personnel, money. And stop telling Hamas it has to recognize Israel and renounce violence until you tell Israel that it has to recognize Hamas and renounce violence.
Bush called the country part of “the axis of evil”, and Kim Jong Il a “pygmy” and “a spoiled child at a dinner table.”7 But you might try to understand where Kim Jong Il is coming from. He sees that UN agencies went into Iraq and disarmed it, and then the United States invaded. The logical conclusion is not to disarm, but to go nuclear.
Stop interfering in the elections of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, year after year. The Cold War has ended. And though you can’t undo the horror perpetrated by the United States in the region in the 1980s, you can at least be kind to the immigrants in the US who came here trying to escape the long-term consequences of that terrible decade.
In your inauguration speech you spoke proudly of those “who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom … For us, they fought and died, in places like … Khe Sanh.” So it is your studied and sincere opinion that the 58,000 American sevicemembers who died in Vietnam, while helping to kill over a million Vietnamese, gave their life for our prosperity and freedom? Would you care to defend that proposition without resort to any platitudes?
You might also consider this: In all the years since the Vietnam War ended, the three million Vietnamese suffering from diseases and deformities caused by US sprayings of the deadly chemical “Agent Orange” have received from the United States no medical attention, no environmental remediation, no compensation, and no official apology.
Stop supporting the most gangster government in the world, which has specialized in kidnaping, removing human body parts for sale, heavy trafficking in drugs, trafficking in women, various acts of terrorism, and ethnic cleansing of Serbs. This government would not be in power if the Bush administration had not seen them as America’s natural allies. Do you share that view? UN Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which Serbia is now the recognized successor state, and established that Kosovo was to remain part of Serbia. Why do we have a huge and permanent military base in that tiny self-declared country?
From protecting Europe against a [mythical] Soviet invasion to becoming an occupation army in Afghanistan. Put an end to this historical anachronism, what Russian leader Vladimir called “the stinking corpse of the cold war.”8 You can accomplish this simply by leaving the organization. Without the United States and its never-ending military actions and officially-designated enemies, the organization would not even have the pretense of a purpose, which is all it has left. Members have had to be bullied, threatened and bribed to send armed forces to Afghanistan.
School of the Americas
Latin American countries almost never engage in war with each other, or any other countries. So for what kind of warfare are its military officers being trained by the United States? To suppress their own people. Close this school (the name has now been changed to protect the guilty) at Ft. Benning, Georgia that the United States has used to prepare two generations of Latin American military officers for careers in overthrowing progressive governments, death squads, torture, holding down dissent, and other charming activities. The British are fond of saying that the Empire was won on the playing fields of Eton. Americans can say that the road to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram began in the classrooms of the School of the Americas.
Your executive orders concerning this matter of utmost importance are great to see, but they still leave something to be desired. They state that the new standards ostensibly putting an end to torture apply to any “armed conflict”. But what if your administration chooses to view future counterterrorism and other operations as not part of an “armed conflict”? And no mention is made of “rendition” — kidnaping a man off the street, throwing him in a car, throwing a hood over his head, stripping off his clothes, placing him in a diaper, shackling him from every angle, and flying him to a foreign torture dungeon. Why can’t you just say that this and all other American use of proxy torturers is banned? Forever.
It’s not enough to say that you’re against torture or that the United States “does not torture” or “will not torture”. George W. Bush said the same on a regular basis. To show that you’re not George W. Bush you need to investigate those responsible for the use of torture, even if this means prosecuting a small army of Bush administration war criminals.
You aren’t off to a good start by appointing former CIA official John O. Brennan as your top adviser on counterterrorism. Brennan has called “rendition” a “vital tool” and praised the CIA’s interrogation techniques for providing “lifesaving” intelligence.9 Whatever were you thinking, Barack?
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi
Free this Libyan man from his prison in Scotland, where he is serving a life sentence after being framed by the United States for the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in December 1988, which took the lives of 270 people over Scotland. Iran was actually behind the bombing — as revenge for the US shooting down an Iranian passenger plane in July, killing 290 — not Libya, which the US accused for political reasons. Nations do not behave any more cynical than that. Megrahi lies in prison now dying of cancer, but still the US and the UK will not free him. It would be too embarrassing to admit to 20 years of shameless lying.
Mr. President, there’s a lot more to be undone in our foreign policy if you wish to be taken seriously as a moral leader like Martin Luther King, Jr.: banning the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and other dreadful weapons; joining the International Criminal Court instead of trying to sabotage it; making a number of other long-overdue apologies in addition to the one mentioned re Vietnam; and much more. You’ve got your work cut out for you if you really want to bring some happiness to this sad old world, make America credible and beloved again, stop creating armies of anti-American terrorists, and win over people like me.
And do you realize that you can eliminate all state and federal budget deficits in the United States, provide free health care and free university education to every American, pay for an unending array of worthwhile social and cultural programs, all just by ending our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not starting any new ones, and closing down the Pentagon’s 700+ military bases? Think of it as the peace dividend Americans were promised when the Cold War would end some day, but never received. How about you delivering it, Mr. President? It’s not too late.
But you are committed to the empire; and the empire is committed to war. Too bad.
The Union of Concerned Scientists urged the department to ban the outdoor production of ethanol corn and all other food crops engineered for industrial or drug purposes to protect the food supply.
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Feb 5, 2009
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering approving the use of genetically engineered corn for use in manufacturing ethanol.
The Agriculture Department recently ended the public comment period for its proposal to permit, for the first time, widespread cultivation of a food crop engineered for biofuel production.
If authorized, officials said the new ethanol corn would also be the first genetically engineered industrial crop to be planted on millions of acres annually. But critics say if grown at such an enormous scale, the ethanol GE corn would inevitably contaminate corn intended for the food and feed supply, exposing people to new engineered proteins that might pose a health risk.
The Union of Concerned Scientists urged the department to ban the outdoor production of ethanol corn and all other food crops engineered for industrial or drug purposes to protect the food supply.
Last November, the Agriculture Department announced its preliminary decision to grant non-regulated status to the Syngenta Co.'s genetically engineered ethanol corn. Should the department deregulate the new industrial crop, officials said it would mean GE corn would no longer be subject to department oversight and could be grown without restrictions at any scale in the United States.
In a related action, the public comment period ends March 17 for an Agriculture Department rule that would substantially weaken oversight of all engineered crops, including pharmaceutical and industrial crops.
Month-long Gaza Protests in U.S. were the Largest Ever for Palestinian Rights
by Sharat G. Lin
Monday Feb 2nd, 2009 12:50 AM
In an unprecedented outpouring of popular opposition to U.S. policy in support of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, a full month of nearly continuous protests brought tens of thousands into the streets. Arab American youths mobilized as never before. Even after Israel’s troop withdrawal, advocates for the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza vowed to continue the campaign until Israel lifts its blockade on the tiny territory.
For over four weeks, nearly continuous protest demonstrations against Israel’s full-scale military assault on Gaza have been unfolding in the streets of cities around the world. The United States, whose government has fully backed the Israeli invasion, was no exception. California witnessed the largest protests ever against against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories: over 3,000 in San Jose on four successive weekends beginning on January 4, 2009, over 10,000 in San Francisco on January 10 and December 28-30, 2008, and thousands more in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and elsewhere.
When Israel launched its full-scale aerial bombardment of Gaza on 27 December 2008, killing some 300 Palestinians within the first two days, much of the world reacted with horror and outrage for the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped within the walls of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the tiny territory. In the United States, public protests began the very next day in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Anaheim, and elsewhere, followed by more demonstrations San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Washington DC, and scores of other cities nationwide. The early rallies were moderate in attendance relative to past actions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but strong in determination and words of condemnation.
The Bush administration predictably backed the Israeli invasion, laying all blame on Hamas for continued Qassam rocket attacks into southern Israel. The U.S. Congress once again reaffirmed its nearly unanimous support for Israel. Never did the U.S. government ask why Palestinians continue to resist 61 years of military occupation, or whether the resurgence of Qassam rockets in November and December 2008 was a response of last resort to the ever-tightening Israeli blockade.
In its attempts to starve Hamas, which was elected to power by Palestinian voters in Gaza in January 2006, Israel has directly restricted or blocked all access and movement of goods into and out of Gaza since that election – collective punishment of a civilian population under occupation in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Food, medicines, and supplies were being routinely held up at Karni and Sufa crossings. Fuel trucks were being blocked at Nahal Oz crossing. Essential commodities from Egypt were being arbitrarily restricted from entry at el-Auja crossing for transit through the Negev enroute to Gaza. Even during times when medicines were being admitted, anaesthetics were cruelly being blocked. Along Gaza’s common border with Egypt, Israel has exerted indirect control over the flow of goods and people at the Rafah crossing through remote electronic monitoring and agreements between Israel and Egypt.
In response to this intolerable situation, an increasing number of people in the United States have been coming to recognize that the launchings of Qassam rockets have been acts of last recourse by an otherwise defenseless people. By 30 December 2008, the carnage was sparking outrage and the numbers of protesters began to swell. High school and college students, grandmothers and grandfathers, shopowners and engineers, workers and businesspeople, people who had never participated in street demonstrations before came out to voice their condemnation of Israeli war crimes. People brought out scores of Palestinian flags and hundreds of kafiyehs (the Arab headdress that has become symbolic of the Palestinian resistance to occupation), both black and red, in numbers that have never been seen before in American streets.
Some local Palestinian Americans reported losing relatives in Gaza. Those who were spared the loss of a loved one saw the carnage on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya television, scenes that were rarely shown on U.S.-based television channels. Those who had been intimidated into the shadows in the fearful aftermath of the 9-11 attacks of 2001, had begun to shed their fears on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of the Bush administration. For the first time, Palestinian youths felt pride in displaying the Palestinian flag and waving it from their cars. Arab American youths, in particular, mobilized by the thousands to spearhead the street demonstrations. Many such demonstrations rapidly grew beyond the leadership of the initiating peace and justice organizations, developing into spontaneous and unplanned expressions of mass sentiment for an end to Israeli control over Palestinian territories and one-sided U.S. support for Israel.
They repeatedly shouted, “Stop bombing Gaza!” “Free, free Palestine!” “Stop killing children!” “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Passing motorists honked in support.
A young woman who had family trapped in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza spoke eloquently at an interfaith candlelight vigil at San Jose City Hall on January 15, 2009 about why so many Palestinian Americans and supporters are now speaking out. Palestinians in Gaza “have not been able to live a life,” she said. It was not always this way because “Palestine was the land of Christians, Muslims, and Jews – always.” She went on to explain why Americans have a vital responsibility for what is happening in Palestine: “Our tax dollars are funding this atrocity 100 per cent.”
As hundreds marched through Santana Row, an upscale shopping district in San Jose, they chanted, “While you’re shopping, bombs are dropping!” Shoppers stopped to watch in amazement at a sight they have never before seen in front of the classy shops. Many took photos with their mobile telephones. While a few were reluctant to be bothered, many accepted flyers from the protesters explaining why Gaza and U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine are important concerns for U.S. taxpayers.
In San Francisco and San Jose there were much smaller pro-Israel counter-demonstrations. Among them, the majority of the Jewish participants genuinely want a lasting peace, but apparently fail to understand the Palestinian need for justice and freedom. A very small minority make no secret of their desire to see the elimination or removal of all Palestinians. One man in San Francisco held a sign saying, “Until all of Gaza is destroyed, the job is not done.” Another in San Jose held a sign that read, “No country for Palestinians.” Most Israel supporters would not agree, yet they apparently did little to distance themselves from this type of bigotry and hatred.
Other Jews played a prominent and welcome role in reassuring the world that many among their community do not support Israel’s occupation, aggression, and war crimes. Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Women in Black, and other Jewish groups repeatedly made it clear that they condemn Israeli war crimes, the siege of Gaza, and the entire occupation.
Finally, different communities in struggle began making connections and finding common cause. The juxtaposition of Martin Luther King’s birth anniversary on January 19th and the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American president on January 20th was an historic moment of moving from a dream of equality to the enabling of that dream. The euphoria of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel mobilized millions of people into a new sense of civic involvement and of communities coming together as communities. One aspect of this political opening was the further partial breakdown of identity-based politics.
When the police killing of Oscar Grant was captured on mobile telephone videos, the people of Oakland of all races, ethnic groups, and religions came together to demand justice from reluctant city, county, and transit administrations. From the beginning, the community embraced the struggle of Palestinians in Gaza with hundreds of posters saying, “Justice for Oscar Grant! Justice for Gaza!” For African Americans in particular, the notion of Israeli apartheid is a painful echo of the long struggles for racial equality in the U.S. and in South Africa.
Latino immigrants marched in San Jose on the day after Barack Obama’s inauguration to remind the new president of the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a rational pathway to legalization of immigration status for 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. At the same time, they embraced justice for Gaza. Palestinians, Mexicans, and other Latin Americans marched side-by-side to demand equal rights and the right to live where they can make a living.
But it is perhaps Native Americans who can best empathize with the plight of Palestinians, having had their former lands carved up into isolated reservations (like the West Bank bantustans) within whose boundaries underemployment, poverty, and inadequate healthcare are prevalent. Meanwhile, the best lands were seized for development by European Americans. Members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) gave expression to their common cause with Palestinians at the rally in San Francisco on January 10.
Israel may have won the battle for Gaza with a kill ratio of 100 Palestinians for each Israeli killed, but it has decisively lost the battle to break the Palestinian people’s will to resist. It has also lost the contest for world sympathy and support. While President Obama disappointingly promises only incremental change in U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, American public opinion is shifting under his feet. People are mobilizing into civic action in escalating numbers, and making their voices heard. Obama has promised to listen. Now is the time for him to prove it, for the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict lies not so much in Tel Aviv or Ramallah or Gaza City, but rather in Washington, DC.
From: http://upsidedownworld.org/Written by Marc Becker Thursday, 05 February 2009After an absence of 4 years, the World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil during the last week of January 2009. More than 100,000 people descended on the city of Belem at the mouth of the mighty Amazon river to debate proposals and plan strategies for making a new and better world.The forum first met in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001 as a gathering of social movements dedicated to fighting neoliberalism and militarism. Nine years later, Latin America has shifted significantly to the left, and the forum has played an important role in that process.The forum began on January 27, as all of the forums have, with a massive march through the streets of Belem. The theme of the march was from Africa, where the last unified forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2007, to the Amazon. A drenching tropical rain momentarily stalled the planned events. The march concluded with a massive rally featuring speeches and music.Thousands of activities during the week of the forum were organized around 10 thematic objectives that were defined after a broad survey of organizations involved in the forum process. These themes included peace, anti-capitalism, sustainability, knowledge, diversity, sovereignty, fair trade, participatory democracy, and the environment.Gathering in the Amazon, Indigenous and environmental issues became a central focus on the Belem forum. The meetings began on January 28 with a "Pan-Amazonian Day" with a focus on climate change, food sovereignty, and regional integration. Indigenous delegates formed the words "save the Amazon" with their bodies.ImageIndigenous peoples also had a very large tent where they held a series of discussions on the environment, territory, development, and other concerns. The sessions ended with a broad ranging conversation on the crisis of civilization, environmental collapse, post-development strategies, and how to build a better life. Indigenous delegates made a call to organize a global mobilization for mother earth on October 12, 2009.Miguel Palacín from the Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI) noted that "for Indigenous peoples, our participation in the forum was very important." The principle themes that they discussed included the crisis of civilization, decolonization, collective rights, self-determination, climatic justice, and defense of the Amazon.Forest peoples, stateless peoples, and Afro-descendants also had their separate tents. In addition, there was a tent dedicated to human rights, and one named for Dorothy Stang, a nun who was assassinated 4 years ago because of her outspoken defense of the poor and the environment in the Amazon.Another tent had a full series of events celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.Palestine held a strong presence throughout the forum, particularly with the forum coming in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion and massacre in the Gaza Strip. "In the name of the Palestinian delegation and the Palestinian people," Jamal Juma stated, "I would like to thank the Brazilian people, the Brazilian government and the organizers of the social forum for this opportunity for us."A highlight for many at the forum, and by far the largest event, was a meeting with the leftist presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. Their presence involved a certain amount of irony and contradictions in the organization of the forum.The forum first met as a meeting of civil society at a time during which no leftists governed in Latin America. Armed groups and political parties were explicitly excluded. Nine years later, Latin America has swung significantly to the left and a rejection of neoliberalism has quickly become the dominant discourse. Leftist leaders are attracted to the idea of participating in the forum, both because of their ideological affinity with its politics as well as a way to shore up their social movement support.On the afternoon of January 29, Via Campesina organized a small, invitation only, meeting with social movements with Chávez, Morales, Correa, and Lugo. That evening Lula joined the 4 leaders in for a public event in a much larger venue. Both events were held off the main site of the forum, allowing for the impression that it was an event parallel to the forum while still not being part of the forum.In the 2003 forum, newly elected Lula was cheered at a massive rally similarly held parallel to the forum as the hero of the event. Two years later, he was booed by many at a similar event for not having delivered on his promises of a leftist agenda, while Chávez who used the meeting to declare himself a socialist was greeted as a rising star. This year the evening meeting turned into a huge pep rally for Lula's ruling Workers Party (PT), with the party faithful shouting down dissidents who showed up to denounce Lula's failure to break from capitalism.Much of the rhetoric that the presidents used at both events echoed that of the dominant discourse at the forum. Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, began his talk with a challenge to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. He contrasted capitalism with socialism, and appealed to what has become a common Indigenous call to "vivir bien, no mejor"; to live well, not better. "We are in times of change," Correa concluded. "An alternative model already exists, and it is the socialism of the twenty-first century."Bolivian president Evo Morales arrived at the forum on the heels of a recently approved progressive constitution. He observed that Ecuador and Bolivia were in a competition for the record for removing the largest number of neoliberal presidents. "As subcomandante Marcos has said," Morales said, "we need to lead by obeying. The government that we are making is a government that obeys the Bolivian people in order to guarantee a revolution in structural changes."Fernando Lugo of Paraguay is the most recent South American president to join the continent's swing to the left. He pointed to the importance of social movements as a creative force to make a more equal society. He talked of the need to "break down old walls." Lugo stated that "another world is not only possible, but is being realized."Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is the president most closely associated with the social forum process. He also appealed to the themes and rhetoric commonly associated with the forum. To the slogan "another world is possible," Chávez added "a new world is necessary." Furthermore, he blamed capitalism for the current economic and environmental crisis, and argued that socialism was the only path to liberation.The meeting with social movements ended with Aleida Guevara joining the four presidents on stage singing a tribute to her famous father Che Guevara.An innovation at the 2009 forum was "Belem Expanded," a series of decentralized activities from around the world linked to groups present in Belem through text and audio chats, video conferences, and telephone conversations. Belem Expanded became a way to include people in the forum who could not travel to the Amazon to participate in person.Complementing these activities were also cultural activities, including films, poetry, lectures, performing arts, and exhibitions. Every day closed off with a series of concerts featuring a wide range of artistic talents.The Belem forum also witnessed the return of the youth camp, with 15,000 people present in the camp with its own series of events. For many of those in the camp, the forum seems to have become more of a cultural event, a Brazilian-style Woodstock, rather than a political event for which it had become known.Parallel to the youth camp was also a smaller children's camp focusing on issues of adolescence.The forum concluded on February 1 with a day of alliances. In the morning, organizations met according to their thematic interests to strengthen networks and solidify proposals for campaigns or other actions that would extend beyond the week of the forum. In the afternoon, these groups came together in an Assembly of Assemblies to present the results of the convergences, campaigns, and proposals that emerged during the forum.Although the Belem gathering was one of the largest forums, it was perhaps also one of the least international. The forum has always taken on the flavor of the local setting, but the 2009 gathering became an overwhelmingly Brazil event with Portuguese becoming the dominant language. Most of the non-Brazilian participants came from South America, with only a splattering of representatives from Asia and Africa.Discussions are currently underway for future meetings of the forum. One plan is to have a Global Day of Action at the end of January 2010 (as happened in January 2008), with an accompanying focus on thematic forums, including one led by Indigenous peoples on the crisis of civilization. In 2011, the forum plans to return to Africa.Contact Marc Becker at Marc(at)yachana.org.
The director of the Census Bureau will report directly to the White House and not the secretary of Commerce, according to a senior White House official.
The decision came after black and Hispanic leaders raised questions about Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg ’s commitment to funding the census.
Gregg, New Hampshire’s senior senator, voted in committee and on the floor for a 1995 Republican budget that envisioned the elimination of the Commerce Department. Of even more concern to black and Hispanic leaders, Gregg battled President Clinton over a request for “emergency” funding for the 2000 census.
“Secretary of Commerce-designate Judd Gregg ’s record raises serious questions about his willingness to ensure that the 2010 census produces the most accurate possible count of the nation’s population,” the National Association of Latino Elected Officials said in a release on Tuesday, the day Gregg was named to the post. “Policymakers and planners at all levels of government rely on these data to make important decisions about their services, such as the number of teachers that will be needed in their classrooms, the best places to build new roads, or the best way to provide job training.”
The selection of Republican Gregg for Commerce — a plum post often given out to a big fundraiser or personal friend in the president’s own party — left many Democrats scratching their heads and others fearful that Gregg might not defend favored agencies and programs with the department.
“Sen. Gregg’s record of previously voting to abolish the Commerce Department and his attempts to block President Bill Clinton’s efforts to secure adequate funding for the 2000 census raise troubling concerns regarding his commitment to the department’s core missions,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee , D-Calif., said Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear whether the White House plan to circumvent Gregg on Census Bureau matters would assuage lawmakers who raised questions about his nomination.
“We have no comment at this time,” a Lee spokesman said late Wednesday.
Gregg is expected to sail through the confirmation process, and a spokeswoman for him said earlier this week that the senator “has a strong record of working aggressively to preserve the policies of Commerce.”
Haiti Action.net - Rep. Barbara Lee and ten other members of Congress re-introduced a bill calling for an investigation of the Bush Administration's role in the 2004 Coup d'État of Haiti. The original bill, known as the TRUTH Act, has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at every session since Lee first made the case for a congressional investigation in March of 2004:"We do not teach people to overthrow our US government, and the Bush Administration must not participate in the overthrow of other democratically-elected governments. The United States must stand firm in its support of democracy and not allow a nascent democracy like Haiti to fall victim to the Bush Administration's apparent policy of regime change."At a heated Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing in March 2004, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and other Democrats questioned a panel of Bush Administration officials about their role in the coup d'État carried out against the democratically-elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Lee summed up her disgust with the Bush Administration's actions by accusing then Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega and the Bush Administration of "aiding and abetting" the overthrow of the Aristide Government. "Regime change takes a variety of forms, and this looks like a blatant form of regime change to me," Lee told Noriega.With the political shift in Washington this year the bill H.R. 331 is expected to make the congressional calendar for review. The bill's current co-sponsors include:Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3]Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2]Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15]Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30]Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10]Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC]Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10]Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15]Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9]Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35]Full text of bill below
Counties in California say they've had enough – and they aren't going to take it anymore.
In what amounts to a Boston Tea Party-style revolt against the state Capitol, they're threatening to withhold money.
Los Angeles is considering such an option. And Colusa County supervisors said they authorized payment delays for February.
"We didn't vote on it, because I don't think anybody wants to go to jail," Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann said.
Closer to home, Sacramento County is planning to file a lawsuit this week against the state and Controller John Chiang for withholding millions of dollars – much of it for social service programs.
"The Legislature authorized those expenditures, and (the controller) has decided to withhold it," said Susan Peters, chairwoman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. "I believe it's possible other counties will be joining in the action."
Riverside County is looking at a similar lawsuit but plans to go one step farther. It authorized going to court to relieve it from having to provide state-mandated services without state funding.
Hallye Jordan, a controller spokeswoman, said Chiang "shares the frustration of counties" but was forced to act because of the failure of the Legislature and governor to address the budget deficit.
"It's an awful situation," she said. "We understand that many counties are suffering."
Regardless, a coalition of six Southern California counties is headed to Sacramento for a Feb. 12 meeting to call attention to the counties' plight, Riverside County spokeswoman Lys Mendez said.
By the time leaders from Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial and San Bernardino counties come together, the revolt could be at full steam.
"I think it just reflects the severity of the problem, and folks are just trying to find a way to keep (programs) going," said Jim Wiltshire, deputy director of the California State Association of Counties.
Frustration has been spreading since last week, when the state controller vowed to delay payments to counties for health and social services.
"When we hear things like, 'We're out of cash and you're going to have to borrow the money,' it doesn't make us very happy," Yolo County Supervisors' Chairman Mike McGowan said.
McGowan said the county would look for a way to fund vital services such as mental health programs, CalWORKS, food stamps and child protective services.
That would mean borrowing about $5 million to cover mandated program expenses, McGowan said.
"We've heard rumors that the (state's) deferral approach will be longer than one month," he said.
In that case, McGowan added, there are smaller counties that will "simply go out of business. They'll not be able to borrow the money."
One budget proposal calls for the state to delay $3.5 billion in payments to counties over seven months, Wiltshire said.
"Counties just don't have the cash position to operate those programs and wait for a check to come in September," he said.
The rumor that the state could extend the delayed payments to counties sent a chill through Colusa County, which qualifies as small with only 22,000 people.
If the state delays payments for a longer period, "we can stay open for three months – period," Colusa County's Vann said.
If all counties withheld funds, money denied the state would total $675 million over a year, said Wiltshire.
That amount represents court receipts that counties remit to the state, he said.
In addition to filing suit, Sacramento County officials are considering withholding money. While counties do collect property taxes for the state, county officials doubted that money would come into play.
"We need to know the ramifications before we do something rash that has consequences," Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan said.
While deferring property tax revenue money to the state might seem like a good idea, that money goes in part to fund education. The county doesn't want to hurt schools while taking a stand against the controller's actions, she added.
There also could be a cost to withholding money from the state.
Terri Sexton, associate director of the Center for State and Local Taxation at the University of California, Davis, said she's never seen anything like this grass-roots revolt.
"But, of course, the state has never been in this fiscal position," Sexton said. "At some level, it doesn't make any difference whether the counties are suing the state or whatever.
"You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. The money doesn't exist. What does it ultimately mean? Will there be cutbacks in those services? I think that's where we're headed."
Los Angeles County started the movement Tuesday when its Board of Supervisors considered holding back money from the state in a move that screamed: Give us our money or you won't get yours.
"The deal is the county has got bills to pay," said Gerry Hertzberg, policy director for Supervisor Gloria Molina. "If the state doesn't act, how do you plan how to budget?"
Los Angeles County is expecting to miss out on as much as $105 million a month as a result of the deferred state payments.
Other counties are in similar positions, so it came as no surprise to Hertzberg that others might join the revolution.
"It's not at all surprising," Hertzberg said. "We've got obligations."
Sacramento County's MacGlashan said despite the counties' threats to withhold, she wasn't certain all would follow through.
"It's really more of a stunt," she said. "But sometimes it takes a stunt to get people's attention."
Sat, 24 Jan 2009 19:14:45 GMTThe following is a Press TV interview with respected American author, political analyst and world-renowned linguist, Professor Noam Chomsky.Press TV: Professor Chomsky, we better start with Pakistan. The White House not commenting on the killings of people [in cross-border drone attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan]. Richard Holbrooke, someone whom you've written about in the context of Yugoslavia, is the man [President Barack] Obama has chosen to solve the situation.Chomsky: Well, it was pretty clear that Obama would accept the Bush doctrine that the United States can bomb Pakistan freely, and there have been many case which are quite serious.There has been for example a great deal of chaos and fighting in Bajaur province, which is a adjacent to Afghanistan and tribal leaders- others there- have traced it to the bombing of a madrassa school which killed 80 to 95 people, which I don't think was even reported in the United states, it was reported in the Pakistani press of course.The author of the article reporting it, a well-known nuclear physicist, Pervez Hoodbhoy pointed out at the time that this kind of massacre will of course engender terror and reactions, which will even threaten the state of Pakistan. And that has been what is happening. We are now seeing more of it.The first message of the Pakistani government to General [David] Petraeus, the American General when he took command of the region was that they did not want any more bombings in Pakistan.Actually, the first message to the new Obama administration by President [Hamid] Karzai of Afghanistan was the same, that he wanted no more bombings. He also said that he wants a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign troops, US and other troops, from Afghanistan. That was of course just ignored.Press TV: And these three foreign envoys, well the third one has not been announced yet perhaps, but some people are expressing optimism about George Mitchell's position as Middle East envoy.Richard Holbrooke, which have looked at. We have talked to the former Bosnian foreign minister here, who seemed to imply that he may even have had a role in the say so for the Srebrenica massacre, and of course, Dennis Ross is being talked about as an envoy for Iran.Chomsky: well Holbrooke has a pretty awful record, not so much Yugoslavia, but earlier. For example, In the Indonesian atrocities in eastern Timor, where he was the official in charge, and evaded to stop the US support for them, and all together it's a very spotty record.George Mitchell is, of the various appointments that have been made, he is the most decent let's say. He has a pretty decent record. He achieved something in Northern Ireland, but of course, in that case there was an objective.The objective was that the British would put an end to the resort to violence in response to IRA terror and would attend to the legitimate grievances that were the source of the terror. He did manage that, Britain did pay attention to the grievances, and the terror stopped- so that was successful.But there is no such outcome sketched in the Middle East, specially the Israel-Palestine problem. I mean, there is a solution, a straightforward solution very similar to the British one. Israel could stop its US-backed crimes in the occupied territories and then presumably the reaction to them would stop. But that's not on the agenda.In fact, President Obama just had a press conference, which was quite interesting in that respect. He praised the parabolic peace initiative, the Saudi initiative endorsed by the Arab League, and said it had constructive elements. It called for the normalization of relation with Israel, and he called on the Arab states to proceed with those "constructive elements," namely the normalization of relations.But that is a gross falsification of the Arab League initiative. The Arab League initiative called for accepting a two-state settlement on the international border, which has been a long-standing international consensus and said if that can be achieved then Arab states can normalize relations with Israel.Well, Obama skipped the first part, the crucial part, the core of the resolution, because that imposes an obligation on the United States. The United States has stood alone for over thirty years in blocking this international consensus, by now it has totally isolated the US and Israel.Europe and now a lot of other countries have accepted it. Hamas has accepted it for years, the Palestinian Authority of course, the Arab League now for many years [have accepted it]. The US and Israel block it, not just in words, but they are blocking it in actions constantly, (this is) happening every day in the occupied territories and also in the siege of Gaza and other atrocities.So when he skips that it is purposeful. That entails that the US is not going to join the world in seeking to implement a diplomatic settlement, and if that is the case, Mitchell's mission is vacuous.Press TV: Is there a contradiction in that George Mitchell of course did speak to members of the Sinn Féin, their military wing of course of the IRA.At the same time, well on this channel [Press TV] we have been covering the Gaza conflict, its headquarters were bombed, and now we are being told that Israeli soldiers will not give their names, and the names of people are not being released for fear of prosecution.And yet, some were saying that Obama did say that the border should be opened. Should we see any change in policy there?Chomsky: He did say that, but he did not mention the fact that it was in the context of a lot other demands. And Israel will also say, sure the borders should be opened but he still refuses to speak to the elected government (i.e. Hamas), quite different from Mitchell in Northern Ireland.It means Palestinians will have to be punished for voting in a free election, the way the US did not want them to, and he endorsed the Condoleezza Rice-Tzipi Livni agreement to close the Egyptian-Gaza order, which is quite an act of imperial arrogance.It is not their border, and in fact, Egypt strongly objected to that. But Obama continued. He says we have to make sure that no arms are smuggled through the tunnels into the Gaza Strip. But he said nothing about the vast dispatch of far more lethal arms to Israel.In fact, right in the middle of the Gaza attack, December 31, the Pentagon announced that it was commissioning a German ship to send 3,000 tons of war material to Israel. That did not work out, because the government of Greece prevented it but it was supposed to go through Greece but it could all go through somewhere else. This is right in the middle of the attack on Gaza.Actually there were very little reporting, very few inquiries. The Pentagon responded in an interesting way. They said, well this material won't be used for the attack on Gaza, in fact they knew that Israel had plans to stop the attack right before the inauguration, so that Obama would not have to say anything about it.But the Pentagon said that this material is being used for pre-positioning for US forces. In other words, this has been going for a long time, but this is extending and reinforcing the role of Israel as a US military base on the edge of the major oil producing regions of the world. If they are ever asked why they are doing it, they will say for defense or stability, but it is just a base for further aggressive action.Press TV: Robert Gates and Admiral [Mike] Mullen have been talking about the 16-month timeline for withdrawal from Iraq is just one of the options, a slight difference from what Obama has been saying in the campaign. And, Hillary Clinton famously said she was prepared to obliterate all of Iran and kill 70 million citizens. On Iraq and Iran what do you see as changes?Chomsky: What happened in Iraq is extremely interesting and important. The few correspondents with real experience any whom know something have understood it. Patrick Cockburn, Jonathan Steele and one or two others.What has happened is that there was a remarkable campaign of non-violent resistance in Iraq, which compelled the United States, step-by-step, to back away from its programs and its goals. They compelled the US occupying forces to allow an election, which the US did not want and tried to evade in all sorts of ways.Then they went on from there to force the United States to accept at least formally a status of forces agreement, which if the Obama administration lives up to it, will abandon most of the US war aims. It will eliminate the huge permanent military bases that the US has built in Iraq. It will mean the US will not control decisions over how the oil resources will be accessed and used. And in fact just every war aim is gone.Of course there is a question of whether the US will live up to it and what you are reporting is among the serious indications that they are trying to evade living up to it. But what happened there is really significant, and a real credit to the people of Iraq, who have suffered miserably. I mean, the country has been absolutely destroyed, but they did manage to get the US to back away formally from its major war aims.In the case of Iran, Obama's statements have not been as inflammatory as Clinton's, but they amount to pretty much the same thing. He said all options are open. Well, what does all options mean? Presumably that includes nuclear war, you know, that is an option.There is no indication that he is willing to take the steps, say, that the American population wants. An overwhelming majority of the American population for years has been in favor, has agreed with the Non-Aligned Movement, that Iran should have the rights granted to the signers of the non-proliferation treaty, in fact to develop nuclear energy.It should not have the right to develop nuclear weapons, and more interestingly about the same percentages, about 75 to 80%, call for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the region, which would include Iran, Israel, and any US forces deployment there, within all kinds of verifications and so on.That could eliminate probably one of the major sources of the conflict. There is no indication that the Obama administration has any thought of doing anything about this.Press TV: Just finally Professor Chomsky, the US economy, of course where you are -that is dominating the news and the lives all Americans and arguably the people around the world- and this 825 billion dollar package. How do you think the Obama people are going to handle this?Chomsky: Nobody really knows. I mean, what is happening with the economy is not well understood. It is based on extremely opaque financial manipulations, which are quite hard to decode. I mean, the general process is understood, but whether the $800 billion, or probably larger government stimulus, will overcome this crisis, is not known.The first $350 billion have already been spent- that is the so-called part bailout but that went into the pockets of banks. They were supposed to start lending freely, but they just decided not to do it. They would rather enrich themselves, restore their own capital, and take over other banks- mergers and acquisition and so on.Whether the next stimulus will have an effect depends very much on how it is handled, whether it is monitored, so that it is used for constructive purposes. [It relies] also on factors that are just not known, like how deep this crisis is going to be.It is a worldwide crisis and it is very serious. It is suddenly striking that the ways that Western countries are approaching the crisis is exactly the same as the model that they enforce on the Third World when there is a crisis.So when Indonesia has a crisis, Argentina and everyone else, they are supposed to raise interest rates very high and privatize the economy, and cut down on public spending, measures like that. In the West, it is the exact opposite: lower interest rates to zero, move towards nationalization if necessary, pour money into the economy, have huge debts.That is exactly the opposite of how the Third World is supposed to pay off its debts, and that this seems to pass without comment is remarkable. These measures for the West are ones that might get the economy moving again, while it has been a disaster for others.ZHD/HGH/HAR
NEW YORK – After the British High Court ruled that evidence of British resident Binyam Mohamed's extraordinary rendition and torture at Guantánamo Bay must remain secret because of threats made by the Bush administration to halt intelligence sharing, the Obama administration told the BBC today in a written statement: "The United States thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens."
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"Hope is flickering. The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."
When the ACLU learned of the High Court's ruling earlier today, it sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to clarify the Obama administration's position relating to the Mohamed case and calling on her to reject the Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security to avoid judicial review of controversial programs.