Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor June 30, 2009 11:04 AM
Consumer activist Ralph Nader has a simple message for liberals feeling less warm and fuzzy about President Obama: "I told you so."
"Millions of Americans are feeling betrayed. They thought Obama as President meant change we can believe in. They thought Obama as President meant withdrawal from Iraq. They thought Obama as President meant standing up to Wall Street fat cats. They thought Obama as President meant a living wage," Nader, who ran a presidential campaign last year far less successful than his 2000 bid, said in an email to supporters today,
"But for those of you who stood with us during the 2008 Presidential campaign, you knew the score. You do not feel betrayed. You are immune to Obama Betrayal Syndrome," Nader continues. "Because you knew, as we pointed out repeatedly during the campaign, that Obama was the corporate Democrat. Beholden to large campaign contributors from Wall Street. From the military industrial complex. And from the health insurance pharma complex."
Nader's missive seeks donations for Single Payer Action, a new advocacy group pushing a government-run healthcare plan along the lines of national insurance plans in Canada and Britain.
Supporters of such a plan say it is the only way to cover everyone while cutting costs, but Obama is not among them, saying that while it might make sense if starting from scratch, it makes more sense now to build upon the current system, under which most Americans get their health coverage through their employer.
To combat critics who call his plan socialized medicine, the president reassures that he would not force anyone to change their coverage.
But Nader's new group isn't giving up. Single Payer Action members have confronted members of Congress in their home districts to press them on the issue.
"Let's break through the corporate barriers and make single payer for all a reality," he says in the email. "Together, we can make the difference. Onward to a life-saving, cost-saving single payer."
CARACAS: Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez on Sunday put troops on alert over a coup in Honduras and said he would respond militarily if his envoy to the Central American country was kidnapped or killed. Chavez said Honduran soldiers took away the Cuban ambassador and left the Venezuelan ambassador on the side of a road after beating him during the army's coup against his leftist ally, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. The Honduran army ousted Zelaya and exiled him on Sunday in Central America's first military coup since the Cold War, after he upset the army by trying to win re-election. Chavez, on state television, said if his ambassador to Venezuela was killed, or troops entered the Venezuelan Embassy, "that military junta would be entering a defacto state of war. We would have to act militarily ... I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert." The socialist Chavez, who leads a group of leftist countries that includes the government of Honduras, has in the past threatened military action in the region but never followed through. He said that if a new government is sworn in after the coup it would be defeated. "We will bring them down, we will bring them down, I tell you," he said, while hundreds of red-shirted Chavez supporters gathered outside Venezuela's presidential palace in solidarity with Zelaya. The United States has long accused the Venezuelan former soldier of being a destabilizing force in Latin America. Chavez himself tried to take power in a coup in 1992 and was briefly ousted in a 2002 putsch but was reinstated after protests. Chavez, who accuses the United States of backing his removal, said on Sunday that there should be an investigation to see if Washington had a hand in Zelaya's ouster. "They will have to get to the bottom of how much of a hand the CIA and other imperial bodies had in this," he said. US president Barack Obama said he was deeply concerned by the events in Honduras and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemned the action taken against Zelaya. The United States supported a number of military coups in Central America during the Cold War. Chavez and other Latin American leaders from his ALBA coalition, including Ecuador's President Rafael Correa and Bolivia's President Evo Morales, are planning to meet in Nicaragua this afternoon to discuss what action to take over the situation in Honduras. ALBA's nine members also include Cuba, Honduras and Nicaragua. Ecuador said on Sunday it will not recognize any new government in Honduras. The Obama administration recognizes ousted President Manuel Zelaya as the only constitutional president of Honduras, a senior administration official said on Sunday. "We recognize Zelaya as the duly elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in a conference call organized by the US State Department.
The bottom line: the Liberal Arts Dude gives a hearty standing ovation to Theresa Amato for writing this book. I give it an enthusiastic five out of five stars! Why the overwhelmingly positive review? Let me explain by illustrating with a story about ordinary people seeking a change to the status quo to something better resembling the promise of democracy.
In more than one occasion in online forums which discuss social and political problems in the U.S., I have observed people say that they are sick of seeing professional politicians pay lip service to reform and solving problems but who, upon closer inspection are ineffective, corrupt, or turn out to be uninterested in reform despite their political rhetoric.
The disgruntled citizen then offers him or herself as a viable alternative to the status quo and announces his or her intentions to “throw the bums out” by running for office. The citizen seeks to prove that an honest and concerned citizen can do much better at cleaning up American politics than the traditional, professional politician.
For every concerned citizen who has ever felt this way and are serious on a run for electoral office I suggest very strongly that they first read Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny. This book should be required reading for those who seek to make a difference in American society and who aims to make that difference by using political office as a vehicle for social and political change.
I would even assert that every concerned citizen should read this book as a guide to where the roots of the problems lie and to distinguish real, effective reform efforts from non-issues that sidetrack reformers and which distract from what truly needs to be done to reform American politics.
The book, in large part, is an exhaustively-researched and documented chronicle of the pitfalls, traps, lopsided and unfair rules and regulations, legal and procedural hurdles in the American system of running for political office for those who operate outside the traditional major parties, the Republicans and Democrats.
Grand Illusion will strip away any illusions the average, civic-minded citizen might have about the notion of fair play, fairness, efficiency and ease of participation for political outsiders in American politics. In fact, the author puts to question the oft-boasted claim of traditional politicians that America is a shining beacon of democracy, that it values democratic practices and does its utmost to encourage democratic participation among as many and as wide a range of individuals among its citizens as possible.
In reality, the author Theresa Amato argues that the rules for political participation are lopsided overwhelmingly in favor of the two major parties. Third parties and independents are at a distinct disadvantage by design of the two major parties who govern and make up the rules for political participation in the U.S.
From rules surrounding ballot access, signature requirements for candidates to get on the ballot, redistricting rules which favor incumbency, control of the governing bodies which make up the rules for elections (the Federal Election Commission and Congress) to who gets to participate in televised debates the major parties have made it so onerous, financially expensive, and a nightmare to navigate the byzantine bureaucracy of the political process. These processes of course, largely exempt candidates from the two major parties.
Thus, just starting out of the gate, third and minor parties and independents—most likely cash and resource-strapped shoestring operations already—are very much at a disadvantage. And this is just to enter the ring.
Amato also describes in great detail—using the Ralph Nader 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns that she headed as case studies—what happens when a third party or independent candidate presents a legitimate challenge to the two major parties. She presents in mind-numbing detail the outrageous and dirty tactics the Nader campaign experienced largely in the hands of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic party sought to prevent the Nader campaign from getting into the ballot in as many states nationwide as possible. To make this happen they initiated a campaign of harassment, intimidation of campaign volunteers, sabotage, outright threats and even bribery. Most outrageous and maddening were Amato’s description of the Democrats’ strategy of tying up the Nader campaign’s resources, time and energies in expensive litigation and lawsuits.
More than just a disgruntled person with an axe to grind, Amato is a practicing lawyer and activist who is deeply knowledgeable about the strategies needed to fix the flaws of the political system. To this end she details nine important court cases that need to be revisited at the Supreme Court level in Chapter 5.
In addition, in the Conclusion, among the many great ideas for reform she proposes are:
eliminating the Electoral College
consider adopting alternative methods of voting which remove the spoiler factor in voting for third parties and independents such as Instant Runoff Voting
add an affirmative right to vote in the Constitution
Federalize Federal elections
adding third-party and independent representatives in the Federal Elections Commission and the Election Assistance Commission to make them truly non-partisan
federal financing for federal elections
free airtime for all candidates regardless of political party
rewarding low-donor campaigns or PACs
adding proportional representation at the federal, state and local levels to make them more participatory
Adopt a binding NOTA (none of the above) option in elections
The Commission on Presidential Debates should be reconstituted as a nonpartisan entity
Move Election Day to the weekend to encourage greater participation
Remove administration of federal elections from partisan secretaries of state, state election boards or their subsidiaries
A permanent, national registration of voters
Regardless of how you feel about Ralph Nader, third parties, and whether or not you consider yourself an independent, Grand Illusion is a book that is, first and foremost, about the practice and procedures regarding democratic participation.
Yes, the book is largely, about democratic participation among those who are marginalized in American politics—those most likely to go against the grain and take on public stands on controversial topics which need to be addressed in the public sphere but the two major parties are reluctant to touch.
But if you believe that in a democracy, that every vote should count, that people should be given a wide spectrum of political options that truly reflect their beliefs and values, and that society should encourage, support and reward political participation and civic-mindedness among its citizens, Grand Illusion is a book that you should read.
The book largely outlines how American society and government in modern times largely fails to live up to the promise and ideals of participatory democracy. But if you care about such matters you owe it to yourself to shake up your perspective of the stability, fairness, and essential benevolence of the American political system. Once your equilibrium has been disturbed by this book hopefully it will spur you into seeking out and joining with the reformers who seek to turn to practical reality the ideals of democracy and democratic participation.
Ahead of congressional debates on the Employee Free Choice Act, or EFCA, we take a look at a long struggle of over 600 Rite Aid workers inCalifornia to form a union. The workers are based in Lancaster, California, at the Southwest distribution center for the nation's third largest drugstore. After a two-year struggle, a majority of Rite Aid workers at the site voted to join the International Longshore Workers Local 26. The story has gained national attention and focused attention in the fight over the Employee Free Choice Act. We speak with a Rite Aid worker and with Ken Silverstein about his article in Harper's Magazine, "Labor's Last Stand: The Corporate Campaign to Kill the Employee Free Choice Act."MP3
* EXCLUSIVE: Animal Rights Activist Jailed at Secretive Prison Gives First Account of Life Inside a "CMU" *In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at a secretive prison known as a Communication Management Unit, or CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU and will talk about his experience there for the first time. He was sentenced to three years along with six other activists for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of CMUs. We also speak with Stepanian's lawyer and a reporter covering the story.
"Color coded democratic revolutions in foreign countries organized and financed by western capital need to be seen as true expressions of the people because of great mobs demonstrating against repressive regimes, but massive mobs demonstrating against America’s foreign wars are meaningless expressions of communist and terrorist inspired ungratefulness for the privileges afforded our shopping masses by their wealthy corporate benefactors."
The USA has lessons to teach the bloody, repressive, fanatic, murderous, anti-Semitic totalitarian Iranian dictatorship about real, true democracy. Independent American presidential candidate Ralph Nader was not allowed to participate in any debates with ruling party candidates in both the 2004 and 2008 elections, while Iranian president Ahamedinjad debated no less than three opposition candidates on Iranian TV during their presidential campaign. See?... SEE?
Reverting to an earlier tax rate on the state’s wealthiest residents and creating a new tax on oil drilling could bring bankrupt California billions more dollars in revenue, which is why the working class majority should oppose taxing the leisure class and petroleum interests lest they emigrate to another country and take their money with them, leaving everyone all alone and without work or oil. Then what’ll they do?
The more than half a million americans idled every month by the present economic crisis should just watch American Idol and pray that they will be struck by lightening, talent and looks good or bad enough to guarantee them money to pay their cable bills so that they can continue being distracted by this and other important expressions of art, culture and reality evasion.
New serious, very harsh , bold and domineeringly restrictive rules created by the Obama administration will put bankers and other financial capitalists in charge of regulating bankers and other financial capitalists. Citizen consumers who don't know the difference between communism and the public library should demand an end to socialist government in the USA.
Color coded democratic revolutions in foreign countries organized and financed by western capital need to be seen as true expressions of the people because of great mobs demonstrating against repressive regimes, but massive mobs demonstrating against America’s foreign wars are meaningless expressions of communist and terrorist inspired ungratefulness for the privileges afforded our shopping masses by their wealthy corporate benefactors.
Questioning any aspect of the holocaust assaults the memories of those hundreds of thousands who - miraculously - survived it, and especially those who weren't born when it happened or who weren't anywhere near europe when it happened, and should mean loss of jobs and/or prison sentences, understandable In the pursuit of historical accuracy, freedom of speech and whatever. Death to the Dictator!
Monty Python is suing twits, twitters, the twittish, and their sister group the twats, who stole their label for fools and use it to claim the opposite. A twit is an ass, but twitters are a class, said a spokesperson for the national organization TWIT ( Totally Without Intellect), but pythoners claim copyright infractions and general american stupidity. A python spokesman hissed Why can’t they just spread celebrity gossip, movie news and color coded revolutions by putting up highway billboards or sending western union teletubbies or some other quaint and backward american practice?
If Ahamedinjad isn’t replaced, assassinated or converted to Christianity, he will destroy the entire planet, after stealing Israel’s nukes because Iran doesn't have any, but Israel also doesn't really have any and would never really use them if they had them, except for high holiday celebrations or if anti-Semites existentially threatened the european apartheid state they created in a semitic land which is the middle east’s only real democracy. Read it again.
Obama is a socialist, the Democratic party is controlled by communists and America was founded by white martians who came here to escape persecution by interplanetary dark skinned anglo saxon protestant illuminati jewish mafia lesbian free mason abortionists who circumsized moses, crucified christ, planned and executed 911 and were behind the last Yankee world series victory. Really. It was on Fox.
I know, I know — it’s a bit presumptuous of me to think I can write the “10 Golden Rules of Social Media.” Then again, I’ve been online since 1987, consulting clients on the Internet since 1992, on the web since 1994, immersed in working on and speaking about the web since the mid-1990s, so I do feel like I’ve paid some dues and learned some lessons along the way.
So here are my 10 Golden Rules of Social Media to embrace, debate, pass around and refine. Have at it.
1. Respect the Spirit of the ‘Net. Since 1995, I’ve been writing about and talking about what I call the “Spirit of the ‘Net.” The Internet was not meant for marketing and selling but for communication and connection to people and information. Understanding this, even today, can flip your marketing and selling strategy on its head, but you’ll have far more success respecting the spirit of the ‘Net, rather than throwing money at hard-sell tactics.
2. Listen. In the ’90s, the Golden Rule of posting to a Usenet Newsgroup or other online community was to listen first before speaking. Listening thoughtfully gives you a better sense of not only what people are saying but also how they are feeling. In virtual spaces where there are no visual cues, good listening skills become a powerful asset. Listening also helps you map out your current social media footprint and measure your marketing campaigns over time. The key to successful social media marketing is listening.
3. Add Value. Enter any online conversation with the aim of adding value. Before posting a message as a new participant in a forum, ask yourself: How is this providing value to the conversation? To the community? In some circles, talking about your product or service can be considered valuable, but in most, it is unwelcome and intrusive.
4. Respond. From the early days of setting up the first web presences for clients such as Origins and Dr. Atkins, my company outlined the importance of timely responses to any feedback or queries generated from those sites. The burden of response can be great, but it can be lessened by using the right tools and crowdsourcing answers. A quick response is more important than ever, and thanks to search tools, alert apps and other services, it is possible to achieve. Don’t be a dam in a conversation flow.
5. Do Good Things. Back in the ’90s, a mentor and dear friend — Jerry Colonna — talked about “doing well by doing good,” sparking in me the confidence to build a successful business with an underlying mission to help others. Doing good things can really help you to succeed in social media, too. Just do a Google search for Social Media for Social Good to see the power of this movement. This goes beyond adding value online. It means fundamentally changing your business model from a single bottom line — profit — to a triple bottom line — people, planet, profit — and then perpetuating this social responsibility to all you do in business, including online marketing and selling. I’m working with a financial client right now who truly believes in doing good. My client’s messages and conversations around social good are getting much more traction than the regular financial messages.
6. Share the Wealth. When I used to talk about the Internet around the world, one key tenet I repeated almost every time was to share the wealth. “If you’ve got it, share it, spread it around,” I’d say, but I wasn’t only talking about money. I was talking about time, information and knowledge. In social media, sharing is the fuel of the conversation engine.
7. Give Kudos. Social media works when you are generous. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, but things really take off when you give others praise or a moment in the spotlight. The rise of retweeting — real retweeting, not spammy retweeting — shows how far giving credit to others can go in social spaces.
8. Don’t Spam. And speaking of spam, there is also an ugly surge of spamming in social media, today’s equivalent of unscrupulous email marketers who inundated our email boxes with garbage and left a bad taste in our mouths for email marketing. On Twitter, I’m finding it a daily chore to delete people I’m following who send out spam messages, but I just don’t have the time, interest or bandwidth to tolerate the “Get Lots of Followers on Autopilot” spam.
9. Be Real. Authenticity is the secret ingredient behind any good and valuable social media marketing campaign. If you know your audience, locate them online, listen, add value, respond, refrain from spamming and just be yourself, you’ll have far better and more long-lasting positive results than if you try to be someone — or something — you’re not.
10. Collaborate. Before you dive into social media for marketing and selling, take a look at who is out there and who is doing it well. How can you work with them, instead of trying to muscle your way into the space with all of your dollars? Those will often be dollars wasted because people can feel that push and recoil from the hard sell, blog about your misstep, sign petitions to boycott your company, you name it. If you put your money in places where it can do good while generating goodwill for your brand, you’ll be much more likely to get a positive result from social media.
Social media tools are only that — tools. The real energy, spirit and power of social media is people. We are social media.
What are your Golden Rules of Social Media? What am I missing?
In his weekly monologue, New Rules, Bill Maher weighs in on everything from Iran to Twitter, but his primary target Friday night was the Democratic party, which he says has become the new GOP.
Each time President Obama tries to take on a progressive cause, Maher charged that there was "a major political party standing in his way: the Democrats.
But the solution is not a third political party, according to the self-described libertarian pundit: "We don't need a third party. We have a center right party, and a crazy party. Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital."
Maher scoffs at the notion that Obama is a socialist: "He's not even a liberal."
Hammering in his point, Maher asks, "Shouldn't there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting military spending? Straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, legalizing pot, and steep, direct taxing of polluters?"
"These aren't radical ideas," Maher stresses, "The majority of Americans are either already for them, or would be if they were properly argued and defended; and what we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being served by the Democrats."
"Because bottom line," he concludes "Democrats are the new Republicans."
The granddaughter of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara is at the forefront of another revolution — for vegetarianism.Lydia Guevara poses semi-nude in a PETA campaign that tells viewers to "join the vegetarian revolution," said PETA spokesman Michael McGraw.The print campaign is expected to debut in October in magazines and posters, McGraw said. It will be launched first in Argentina, where Che Guevara was born, and then internationally. PETA approached the 24-year-old in recent months after finding out she was a vegetarian, McGraw said.In the ad, Lydia Guevara wears camouflage pants, a red beret, and bandoliers of baby carrots while standing with one fist on her hip and the other outstretched."It very much evokes the tag line of the ad, which is 'Join the vegetarian revolution,'" McGraw said. "It's an homage of sorts to her late grandfather."...
P.S. I DON'T KILL FLIES EITHER...OBAMA IS IGNORANT IN THIS REGARD, IMHO...
Press release from Free and Equal sent to email@example.com
Ralph Nader and Ron Paul, two of the most outspoken political leaders of our time, don’t agree all that often. But one thing they both understand is that the American political system is rigged against independent and third party candidates.
Restrictive ballot access laws across the nation prevent voters from having a real choice in who they vote for.
And the Democratic and Republican machines intend to keep it that way.
Former Nader campaign manager Theresa Amato’s new book Grand Illusion presents a scathing indictment of the current state of ballot access in America.
Grand Illusion recounts the story of the Democratic Party’s attempt to boot Nader out of the 2004 Presidential election, and offers insight into other recent independent and third party campaigns. Amato also lays out specific reform steps that can be taken to improve the state of ballot access in this country.
In this video, consumer advocate and three-time Presidential candidate Ralph Nader lays the failures of our government at the feet of the Two-Party Tyranny. He encourages Americans to read the Grand Illusion and to get motivated to take our nation back from the two corporate controlled parties.
In a statement released last week, Congressman Ron Paul commended the work of Free & Equal Elections, and also endorsed Amato’s new book.
“Our laws are stacked against any real third alternative in the two-party monopoly. By and large, candidates must conform to the system or have difficulty even getting on ballots. Americans deserve better, and across the country, people are waking up and working hard to remove unfair barriers. We deserve a system where third parties can compete, and Democrats and Republicans are held to their platforms and rhetoric. I am impressed by the work of the Free & Equal Elections Foundation, and commend them for their leadership on this issue.
Theresa Amato has experienced the unfairness of our system like few others. Her new book “Grand Illusion” is an important contribution that anyone serious about ballot access reform should read. I thank Theresa for sharing her experiences with us and know her book will make a difference.”
Part personal memoir, part political history, part exposé and part impassioned call for electoral reform, Grand Illusion provides a blow-by-blow account of some of the 24 harassing complaints that the Democrats and their allies filed within 12 weeks to remove Nader from the ballot in 18 states. At least 95 lawyers from 53 law firms nationwide joined the effort to stifle Nader’s insurgent campaign.
Nader prevailed in most states, but Grand Illusion will make citizens wonder: How democratic is an electoral process that forces millions of American voters to choose between just two parties, while freezing out competing candidacies and new ideas?
To prevent such abuse and manipulation of the electoral process in the future, in Grand Illusion Amato proposes a number of practical and easy-to-implement reforms, to replace 50 different, and in some cases discriminatory state ballot access laws. Amato also recounts details of behind-the-scenes conversations with presidential candidate John Kerry, and with Howard Dean, who followed McAuliffe as DNC chairman.
Nader filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 and an FEC complaint in 2008 against McAuliffe, the DNC and others who helped finance and coordinate the attempt to suppress Nader’s 2004 presidential candidacy. Both actions are still pending.
Nazareth — The rights of Palestinian children are routinely violated by Israel’s security forces, according to a new report that says beatings and torture are common. In addition, hundreds of Palestinian minors are prosecuted by Israel each year without a proper trial and are denied family visits.
The findings by Defense for Children International (DCI) come in the wake of revelations from Israeli soldiers and senior commanders that it is “normal procedure” in the West Bank to terrorise Palestinian civilians, including children.
Col Itai Virob, commander of the Kfir Brigade, disclosed last month that to accomplish a mission, “aggressiveness towards every one of the residents in the village is common.” Questioning included slaps, beatings and kickings, he said.
As a result, Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the armed services, was forced to appear before the Israeli parliament to disavow the behavior of his soldiers. Beatings were “absolutely prohibited”, he told legislators.
Col Virob made his remarks during court testimony in defense of two soldiers, including his deputy commander, who are accused of beating Palestinians in the village of Qaddum, close to Nablus. One told the court that, “soldiers are educated towards aggression in the IDF [army].”
Col Virob appeared to confirm his observation, saying it was policy to “disturb the balance” of village life during missions and that the vast majority of assaults were “against uninvolved people.”
Last week, further disclosures of ill-treatment of Palestinians, some as young as 14, were aired on Israeli TV, using material collected by dissident soldiers as part of the Breaking the Silence project, which highlights army brutality.
Two soldiers serving in the Harub battalion said they had witnessed beatings at a school in the West Bank village of Hares, south-west of Nablus, in an operation in March to stop stone-throwing. Many of those held were not involved, the soldiers said.
During a 12-hour operation that began at 3am, 150 detainees were blindfolded and handcuffed from behind, with the nylon restraints so tight their hands turned blue. The worst beatings, the soldiers said, occurred in the school toilets.
According to one soldier’s testimony, a boy of about 15 was given “a slap that brought him to the ground.” He added that many of his comrades “just knee [Palestinians] because it’s boring, because you stand there 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up”.
The picture from serving soldiers confirms the findings of DCI, which noted that many children were picked up in general sweeps after disturbances or during late-night raids of their homes.
Its report includes a selection of testimonies from children it represented in 2008 in which they describe Israeli soldiers beating them or being tortured by interrogators.
One 10-year-old boy, identified as Ezzat H, described an army search of his family home for a gun. He said a soldier slapped and punched him repeatedly during two hours of questioning, before another soldier pointed a rifle at him: “The rifle barrel was a few centimeters away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me.”
Another boy, Shadi H, aged 15, said he and his friend were forced to undress by soldiers in an orange grove near Tulkarm while the soldiers threw stones at them. They were then beaten with rifle butts.
Jameel K, aged 14, described being taken to a military camp where he was assaulted and then had a rope tightened around his neck in a mock execution.
Yehuda Shaul, of Breaking the Silence, said soldiers treated any Palestinian older than 12 or 13 as an adult.
“For the first time a high-ranking soldier [Col Virob] has joined us in raising the issue — even if not intentionally — that the use of physical violence against Palestinians is not exceptional but policy. A few years ago no senior officer would have had the guts to say this,” he said.
The DCI report also highlights the systematic use of torture by interrogators from the army and the secret police, the Shin Bet, in an attempt to extract confessions from children, often in cases involving stone throwing.
Islam M, aged 12, said he was threatened with having boiling water poured on his face if he did not admit throwing stones and was then pushed into a thorn bush. Another boy, Abed S, aged 16, said his hands and feet were tied to the wall of an interrogation room in the shape of a cross for a day and then put in solitary confinement for 15 days.
Last month, the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a panel of independent experts, expressed “deep concern” at Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors.
According to the DCI report, some 700 children are convicted in Israel’s military courts each year, with children older than 12 denied access to lawyers in interrogation.
It adds that interrogators routinely blindfold and handcuff child detainees during questioning and use techniques including slaps and kicks, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, threats to the child and his family, and tying the child up for long periods.
Such practices were banned by Israel’s Supreme Court in 1999 but are still widely documented by Israeli human rights groups.
DCI says it has been disturbed by reports from several children of a special tiny cell, referred to as No 36, at a detention centre near Haifa. The cell has no windows or ventilation, its walls are dark and a dim light is kept on 24 hours a day.
In 95 per cent of cases, children are convicted on the basis of signed confessions written in Hebrew, a language few of them understand.
Once sentenced, the children are held in violation of international law in prisons in Israel where most are denied visits from family and receive little or no education.
DCI also criticizes “a culture of impunity” among the Shin Bet, noting that not one of 600 complaints of torture filed against its interrogators during the second intifada has led to a criminal investigation.
Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, reported in November that soldiers too rarely face disciplinary action over illegal behavior.
Army data from 2000 to the end of 2007 revealed that the military police had indicted soldiers in only 78 of 1,268 investigations. Most soldiers received minor sentences.
Academic studies suggest that Israeli soldiers have been routinely using violence against Palestinian civilians, including children, for many years.
In late 2007 Israelis were shocked by the testimonies collected by clinical psychologist Nufar Yishai-Karin from 21 soldiers with whom she shared her military service during the early 1990s.
The soldiers told her of incidents in which bystanders were shot or assaulted. In one of the most disturbing testimonies, a soldier said he had witnessed his commander attacking a four-year-old boy playing in the sand in Gaza.
“He broke his hand here at the wrist. Broke his hand at the wrist, broke his leg here. And started to stomp on his stomach, three times, and left . . . The next day I go out with him on another patrol, and the soldiers are already starting to do the same thing.”
Such revelations have grown in number since the Breaking the Silence began drawing attention to the army’s mistreatment of Palestinians in 2004.
* A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel.
From: www.democracynow.orgOn Capitol Hill, the Democratic House leadership is pressuring antiwar Democrats to support a $106 billion supplemental war funding bill. In May, fifty-one antiwar Democrats opposed an earlier version of the bill. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to pressure some of those Democrats to switch their votes to help pass a new version of the bill that also includes increased funding for the International Monetary Fund. California Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey says the White House has threatened to pull support from freshman antiwar Democrats who vote no on the bill. In order to block passage, thirty-nine House Democrats need to join with Republicans opposing the bill.http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/16/headlines#5
Live H2O, organized by Leonard Horowitz and Masaru Emoto, will be a world-wide simulcast event with more than 30 physical locations on the weekend the summer solstice (June 19th-21st). The event will focus on drawing consciousness to the planet's living water. There will also be a a mass meditation in "the love frequency," 528 hz.
A schedule of simulcast events and list of confirmed cities is available now.
Peruvian massacre aimed at opening Amazon to transnationals
Posted by thomaspainescorner on June 13, 2009...Among the dead were leaders of the Awajun indigenous community, Felipe Sabio and Mateo Inti. Initially, the well-known leader of the Aguarunas, Santiago Manuin Valera, who had received the Spanish Reina Sofia prize for his defense of nature and human rights, was also reported killed, sparking renewed anger among the local population. It was later reported, however, that Manuin Valera had survived surgery after being shot at least eight times, but remained in critical condition.Zebelio Kayap, president of the Frontier Communities of the Cenepa Organization (Odecofroc in Spanish), told La Republica, “Some of the natives’ bodies may have been burned by the police and thrown into the Marañón River.” Eyewitnesses reported seeing bodies placed in black plastic bags, loaded into helicopters and dumped in the river in an effort to cover up the scale of the massacre.The indigenous people began their protest in early April. They claim their ancestral rights to the jungle were not considered in the proposed deals with major capitalist interests and that the government did not consult them. In his typical arrogance, President Garcia responded by saying that he did not have to consult anyone because, according to the Constitution, the state owns all the mineral and hydrocarbon wealth of Peru.In a statement to the press at the end of last month, Garcia denounced the opposition among the indigenous people of the Amazon to opening up their lands for exploitation as “retrograde, backward and wrong,” adding that those who were protesting “haven’t even read” the legislation.http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/peruvian-massacre-aimed-at-opening-amazon-to-transnationals/* ">Report: 90% Of Waking Hours Spent Staring At Glowing RectanglesJune 15, 2009*Sedaris Reads “Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle”http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/engulfed/audio/SolutionToSaturdayPuzzle.mp3*...As we become one with ourselves and are able to open and accept others and the love that they have to give, only then will be be able to get past the voices in our minds; the ones that tell us how to act, what to fear and to question our very existence and actions. Only then will we be able to give and receive what the world needs to heal itself. Only then will humanity really have a chance to move forward and to come together for the benefit of all the world’s inhabitants. It is the fears that keep us ‘in check’ and keep us from accepting the changes that will transcend the injustices. That keep us from believing in a ‘Utopian’ world that is just for all and that keeps us forever suckling at the tit of the competition based system that tries so hard to keep from slipping away into the abyss that it must eventually flow.Go out and find your ‘orgasm’, for your body, mind and spirit for it can set you free, if you let it. Find the ’self’ that can give completely, without question and without fear and don’t analyze, feel and trust your selves, for we all have the capacity to give and receive, to form a better humanity for all; don’t run from your emotions but rather, embrace them for only then can we begin to ‘feel’ again.http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/where-did-the-orgasm-go/*The Light of Darkness
This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful.
Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America’s imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze.
There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, “the most important meeting of the 21st century so far.”
It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.
I called Hudson, who has an article in Monday’s Financial Times called “The Yekaterinburg Turning Point: De-Dollarization and the Ending of America’s Financial-Military Hegemony.” “Yekaterinburg,” Hudson writes, “may become known not only as the death place of the czars but of the American empire as well.” His article is worth reading, along with John Lanchester’s disturbing exposé of the world’s banking system, titled “It’s Finished,” which appeared in the May 28 issue of the London Review of Books.
“This means the end of the dollar,” Hudson told me. “It means China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran are forming an official financial and military area to get America out of Eurasia. The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America’s discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don’t have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement. They have been forced to accept dollars that have no chance of being repaid. They are paying for America’s military aggression against them. They want to get rid of this.”
China, as Hudson points out, has already struck bilateral trade deals with Brazil and Malaysia to denominate their trade in China’s yuan rather than the dollar, pound or euro. Russia promises to begin trading in the ruble and local currencies. The governor of China’s central bank has openly called for the abandonment of the dollar as reserve currency, suggesting in its place the use of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. What the new system will be remains unclear, but the flight from the dollar has clearly begun. The goal, in the words of the Russian president, is to build a “multipolar world order” which will break the economic and, by extension, military domination by the United States. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. This is why Aluminum Corp. of China made so many major concessions in the failed attempt to salvage its $19.5 billion alliance with the Rio Tinto mining concern in Australia. It desperately needs to shed its dollars.
“China is trying to get rid of all the dollars they can in a trash-for-resource deal,” Hudson said. “They will give the dollars to countries willing to sell off their resources since America refuses to sell any of its high-tech industries, even Unocal, to the yellow peril. It realizes these dollars are going to be worthless pretty quickly.”
The architects of this new global exchange realize that if they break the dollar they also break America’s military domination. Our military spending cannot be sustained without this cycle of heavy borrowing. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion, before we add on things like nuclear research. The next closest national military budget is China’s, at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.
There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades. Look at table five in the Balance of Payments Report, published in the Survey of Current Business quarterly, and check under military spending. There you can see the deficit.
To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem. If a central bank does not spend the money in the United States then the exchange rate against the dollar will go up. This will penalize exporters. This has allowed America to print money without restraint to buy imports and foreign companies, fund our military expansion and ensure that foreign nations like China continue to buy our treasury bonds. This cycle appears now to be over. Once the dollar cannot flood central banks and no one buys our treasury bonds, our empire collapses. The profligate spending on the military, some $1 trillion when everything is counted, will be unsustainable.
“We will have to finance our own military spending,” Hudson warned, “and the only way to do this will be to sharply cut back wage rates. The class war is back in business. Wall Street understands that. This is why it had Bush and Obama give it $10 trillion in a huge rip-off so it can have enough money to survive.”
The desperate effort to borrow our way out of financial collapse has promoted a level of state intervention unseen since World War II. It has also led us into uncharted territory.
“We have in effect had to declare war to get us out of the hole created by our economic system,” Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books. “There is no model or precedent for this, and no way to argue that it’s all right really, because under such-and-such a model of capitalism ... there is no such model. It isn’t supposed to work like this, and there is no road-map for what’s happened.”
The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities—think Enron—for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.
The general term Semites applies to the ancient divisions of a race of people including the Babylonians, Assyrians, and the Hebrews of Biblical times. The Arabs and Kabbalah include later Semitic occultism.
Magic was a priestly activity in Babylon and Chaldea (see Chaldeans). In Mesopotamia magic was practiced by the priestly sect called Asipu, who were designated to perform such activities which probably consisted of hypnotism, exorcism, and banning troublesome spirits.
There where another group name the Baru who were augurs, who consulted the oracles about the future by inspecting the entrails of animals and the flights of birds, "the observation of oil in water, the secret of Anu, Bel, and Ea, the tablet of the gods, the sachet of leather of the heavens and earth, the wand of cedar dear to the great gods."
Both the priest of Baru and Asipu were clothed in vestments signifying their rank, which they changed frequently in ceremonies in which they participated. There are records recorded on ancient tablets telling of kings making frequent inquiries through priestly castes. In the tablet of Sippar is decribed the initiation of a Baru to the Sun-Temple. Also, it is written that Sennachrib sought through the Baru knowledge of the cause of his father's violent death.
Again, the Asipu were exorcists whose activities included removing taboos and dismissing ghosts. Their functions are described in the following incantatory poem:
[The man] of Ea am I,
[The man] of Damkina am I,
The messenger of Marduk am I,
My spell is the spell of Ea,
My incantation is the incantation of Marduk,
The circle of Ea is in my hand,
The tamarisk, the powerful weapon of Anu,
In my hand I hold,
The date-spathe, mighty in decision,
In my hand I hold.
He that stilleth all to rest, that pacifieth all,
By whose incantation everything is at peace,
He is the great Lord Ea,
Stilling all to rest, and pacifying all,
By whose incantation everything is at peace,
When I draw nigh unto the sick man.
All shall be assuaged,
I am the magician born of Eridu.
Begotten in Eridu and Subari,
When I draw nigh unto the sick man.
May Ea, King of the Deep, safeguard me!
O Ea, King of the Deep, to see,
I, the magician, am thy slave
March thou on my right hand,
Assist [me] on my left;
Add thy pure spell to mine,
Add thy pure voice to mine,
Vouchsafe (to me) pure words,
Make fortunate utterances of my mouth,
Ordain that my decisions be happy,
Let me be blessed where'er I tread,
Let the man whom I [now] touch be blessed.
Before me may lucky thoughts be spoken,
After me may a lucky finger be pointed.
Oh that thou wert my guardian genius,
And my guardian spirit!
O God that blesseth, Marduk,
Let me be blessed, where'er my path be,
Thy power shall god and man proclaim;
This man shall do thy service,
And I too, the magician thy slave.
Unto thy house on entering….
Samas is before me,
Sin [is] behind [me].
Nergal [is] at [my] right hand,
Ninib [is] at my left;
When I draw near unto the sick man,
When I lay my hand on the head of the sick man,
May a kindly Spirit, a kindly Guardian stand at my side.
by Prof Marc W. Herold...ConclusionHaving inherited a war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration nonetheless had choices. Some for instance like Gilles Dorronsoro argued that the very presence of foreign forces was inflaming the conflict and that what was called-for was a scaling-down of military action, focusing and exiting.[xxx] Instead, the Obama team which includes many members of the former Bush regime, decided to fight the "good war" in Afghanistan. During the past five months, the conflict has further escalated and promises to do more of the same.By the announced metric of protecting Afghan civilians, the Obama team has failed miserably even more so than its predecessor. What is different is the public relations which began with in the words of Michael Stewart "Operation Redefinition." One can redefine as much as one wants, the reality for Afghans pursuing their daily lives has deteriorated as documented herein. Since taking office and assuming the position of Commander-in-Chief, Obama and his NATO allies have killed at the very least some 338-419 Afghan civilians (compared to 278-343 under the Bush clock during the first six months of 2008). In addition, deadly CIA drone attacks within Pakistan have continued since Obama took command. Of the sixty cross-border U.S drone attacks upon Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, Only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.[xxxi]Simple arithmetic shows that in some eighty days in office, Obama has managed to raise the monthly average kill rate in drone attacks achieved by Bush from 32 during 2008 to 45 per month (for February-March 2009).The Obama team might well head the words of the Pakistani intelligence agent, ‘Colonel Iman,’ who after training at Fort Bragg’s Special Forces base, oversaw the training camps for jihadis (including Mullah Omar) during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Iman told Christina Lamb (another fine independent British journalist), that he left Afghanistan in late 2001 and claims he has not returned, but "I can go any time on my old routes, even the Americans cannot stop me, but there is no need," he said. "I have friends roaming all over there. At times they give me a call, they like to hear my voice. I’m quite happy with the current situation because the Americans are trapped there. The Taliban will not win but in the end the enemy will tire, like the Russians."[xxxii]The ex-CIA station chief in Kabul, Graham Fuller is emphatic that Obama’s policies are aggravating the situation in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world. But U.S. policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch. As Washington demands that Pakistan redeem failed American policies in Afghanistan, Islamabad can no longer manage its domestic crisis.[xxxiii]http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13957
From: www.countercurrents.orgAnd The Privatization Of The Global Freshwater CommonsBy Frank Joseph Smecker...Proponents of water privatization argue that privatization of water in developing nations, where millions are subjected to abject poverty, would be a boon, delivering clean water for drinking and sanitation to many who go without. Conversely, many posit that these nations are not equipped to negotiate contracts and the poor bear the brunt of fee increases. The ensuing information will corroborate the latter allegations.In 1997, the people of Bolivia did not choose to privatize their water – it was forced upon them. Bechtel’s subsidiary, Aguas del Tunari, along with the Abengoa Corporation of Spain, went into Bolivia, enforced a forty-year contract that privatized much of their fresh water, and not soon after, rate increases quickly doubled and tripled for most of the poor water users. The private investment relied stringently on market-rate pricing. According to Jim Shultz, in an article for The Nation on January 28, 2005 titled “The Politics of Water in Brazil,” the cost of water and sewage hookup, in El Alto, was more than half a year’s income for those making minimum wage.The contract was so draconian that protest broke out in the streets of Cochabamba, the people demanding an immediate rescinding of the water contract. The protest led to martial law to save the companies’ contract, which led to the death of a teenage boy, and the wounding of more than a hundred people. Over the course of five years in Bolivia, there have been two citizen revolts decrying the privatization of their water. Bechtel’s contract was indeed cancelled, but in 2001 Bechtel filed suit against the Bolivian government, claiming they were entitled to $25 million in compensation for the loss of future profits.By the end of 2000, more than 93 countries worldwide had partially privatized water or wastewater services. The larger the company, the more control. According to research done by Elizabeth Brubaker at the Energy Probe Research Foundation, at the largest scale, private water companies construct, own, and run water systems around the globe, raking in revenues of more than $30 billion – excluding revenue from the sales of bottled water. Most of this money does not make it back into the communities, but is rather transferred to the transnationals.The largest players in water privatization are two French transnationals: Veolia Environment (owned by media conglomerate Vivendi) and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux whose water and wastewater businesses are run by its subsidiary Ondeo...[Click title for entire article, as usual]
One) Eat light and eat live foods. This frees your physical energies from the shackles of digestion and allows a freer flow of energy throughout your physical system.
Two) Spend time daily in silence and meditation. Even if you are not a longtime meditator, you can now access greatly enhanced states by entering deep states of relaxation and stilling your mind.
Three) Open up a direct dialogue with your higher self. Daily journaling is an excellent way to open up this dialogue. Write out your questions on one side of the page, then turn over your pen to your higher self. Allow answers to flow onto the page. You can also use a tape recorder for this process.
Four) Be playful. Be creative. One of the most important things you can do during your day is to make time for creative play. Your imagination is your doorway into cosmic time. All images, visions, ideas and inspirations flow through this corridor.
Five) Pay attention to the symbols of your dreams and waking life. Make note of the images that flow into your mind. These images are offering you glimpses of new possibilities now crystallizing in your energy field.
Six) Affirm daily that you are an infinite being. As an infinite being, your birthright is the unlimited magic and abundance of the universe. Open to allow abundance and synchronicities to flow into your life in magical and unexpected ways.
Seven) Release any attachments you may have to your present identity, to others, or to ways of being. Attachments and expectations bind you to old habits and patterns and keep you from experiencing new and expanded ways of being.
Eight) View all images/experiences/visions/desires through the lens of your spiritual purpose. Affirm that whatever benefits you receive you extend to all others through your spiritual purpose.
Nine) Allow greater and greater amounts of joy into your life. Make a list of what brings you joy and constantly look for ways to expand this list.
Ten) Accept and embrace whatever unfolds in your life. When you accept what comes before you, you open to its message and wisdom. By contrast, whenever you resist something, you close yourself to its message. This dooms you to repeat the experience.
From the Celestial Vision website
A recent talk by Ralph Nader on Alternative Radio discussed the U.S. wealth care sytem. Yes, you can get a transcript at http://www.alternativeradio.org/. Ralph Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, might be too "radical" to be considered for political office, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know his subject matter. Remember, Ralph Nader has never been indicted for fraud-- unlike some of our political and health insurance luminaries. I listened to his talk today and learned some things I didn't know...
For example, I knew Taiwan, Japan, Canada, the UK and all other civilized European countries had universal health care for all their people, but what I didn't know was that Israel, a tiny country that incidentally receives $3 billion in aid from the U.S.A., also provides universal health care to its people. Well, for that matter, so does Cuba.
What I did already know before Mr. Nader mentioned it was the level of anxiety produced by medical bills. I saw it as a union steward, when the number one complaint by fellow union members was large and unexpected medical bills that they didn't understand, and couldn't pay, and bizarre coverage exclusions--such as diabetic test strips and insulin syringes. Fortunately, the union employed a health and welfare benefits person who knew the insurance game inside and out, and when I gave her number to the distressed union members, she made their bills disappear.
Not everyone is so lucky.
It's estimated that medical bills cause 60% of all U.S. bankrupties.
Census data puts the number of Americans with no health insurance at about 45 million. What? I haven't seen a census taker at my door since the 1990's. How often do they update their figures? And BTW-- most people are out of their homes, at work all day, and sometimes on weekends. How do they get included in the census data? Do the thousands of homeless people in the USA get included in the census data? What about workers who get money sucked out of every pay check for wealth insurance but never use it because:
1. No doctors/dentists will accept their crappy inadequate insurance.
2. They can't afford the co-pays.
3. They can't find a doctor in their "network," and using an out of network doctor is too expensive.
Do they get labeled insured, or uninsured?
If you have employer provided health insurance, and you can't afford to use it, or you do use it and later you get bills you can't pay, so your medical bills get reported to the credit bureaus, your credit rating goes down... your anxiety level goes up, what then?
Big Pharma to the rescue, with a bag full o' drugs--not to solve your problems, but to make you too numb to care.
A single payer public health care program will cut costs, because opportunities to game the system by insurance industry fraudsters will be reduced by having one bill payer. One payer--directly to doctors and hospitals. Kick the HMO's out of medicare and medicaid. Pay the doctors directly--no more HMOs skimming profits, and denying basic care to sick people.
Profit doesn't belong in health care because itdoesharm.
LIMA - Peruvian lawmakers suspended a controversial law that eased restrictions on lumber harvesting in the Amazon rain forest, days after it sparked clashes between police and indigenous protesters, killing dozens of people.
The legislature agreed by a 59 to 49 vote to suspend Decree 1090 -- dubbed the "Law of the Jungle" -- that covers forestry and fauna in Peru's northeastern Amazon rain forest, said Javier Velasquez, the head of Peru's single-chamber Congress.
Natives set up a road block at the entrance of the Amazonian town of Yurimaguas, northern Peru. Peruvian lawmakers suspended a controversial law that eased restrictions on lumber harvesting in the Amazon rain forest, days after it sparked clashes between police and indigenous protesters, killing dozens of people. (AFP/Ernesto Benavides)
A decree related to governing private investment also was suspended.
The decrees are vehemently opposed by the approximately half-million Indians of 65 ethnic groups who live in the Peruvian jungle. The natives, who see the development of the jungle as an assault on their way of life, have been holding protests since April across the region.
The Amazon protest peaked Friday and Saturday when some 400 police officers moved in to clear protesters blocking a highway near the northern city of Bagua. Protesters fought back, then retaliated by killing police hostages.
According to the government, 25 police officers and nine Indian protesters died in the clashes. Protest leaders and media reports however insist the death toll is much higher.
The decrees were originally to be suspended for 90 days, but in the final vote legislators agreed on an indefinite suspension "to negotiate without pressure," said Aurelio Pastor, a legislator with President Alan Garcia's APRA party.
Both measures are among decrees issued in 2007 and 2008 by Garcia easing restrictions on mining, oil drilling, logging and farming in the Peruvian Amazon.
Garcia issued the laws when Congress granted him special powers to implement a free-trade agreement with the United States.
Angry legislators with the opposition Nationalist Party (PNP) called for the decrees to be overturned, and waved signs as they held a protest in the chamber after the vote.
"No to transnational (corporations) in the Amazon," read one sign. "The land and water are not for sale," read another.
The clashes were the bloodiest since the government's war in the 1980s and 1990s against the Shining Path, a violent Maoist insurgency, and the leftist Tupac Amaru guerrillas.
The vote suspending the decree is seen as a compromise allowing the government to resume talks with the protesting indigenous groups who have been blocking key regional highways, said spokesmen for legislators that voted for the measure.
The vote also comes on the eve of a strike called by the country's powerful leftist labor umbrella group, the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP).
CGTP leader Mario Huaman said there would be a protest march ending at the presidential palace in Lima to reject "the arrogant, intolerant, overbearing and discriminatory attitude of the government towards the Amazon communities."
Other protest marches, including those held by indigenous protesters in Amazon cities and towns, are planned in Peru's main cities.
"There is no justification at all for the protests" on Thursday, Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas said after the decrees were suspended.
Meanwhile some 3,000 Indians from 25 ethnic groups continue to block a key Amazon highway linking the cities of Tarapoto and Yurimaguas, some 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of Lima.
"We want an immediate derogation of those laws," said Segundo Pizango, an apu -- indigenous leader -- at a roadblock near Yurimaguas.
Another native leader, Kariajano Sandi, told AFP that he and his men will not lift the roadblock until the government definitively overturns the laws.
"We do not believe the government, they lie too much," said Sandi, surrounded by a group of his followers.
The repercussions of the violence have rocked the government, with Women's Affairs Minister Carmen Vildoso resigning Monday in protest over the government's crackdown.
The crisis even extended its reach to foreign affairs after Nicaragua granted political asylum to Alberto Pizango, the main indigenous protest leader, who earlier took refuge in Managua's embassy in Lima.
The Garcia administration has issued an arrest warrant for Pizango on charges of sedition, conspiracy and rebellion.
A quick heads up: The BBC is featuring a series of lectures with Michael Sandel (Harvard Professor of Government) that will collectively talk about “the prospects of a new politics of the common good.” Sandel is a very popular professor at Harvard. Some 15,000 students have taken his courses over 30 years. In the first lecture, Sandel takes a look at the morality of the markets (a timely topic, to be sure) and “considers the expansion of markets and how we determine their moral limits.” You can listen here.
Also, note that you can find another mini-course by Sandel on the Harvard website. Justice: A Journey in Moral Reasoning (Video) is one of the very few courses that Harvard has produced and made available to the public. You can find it otherwise listed in our collection of Free University Courses.
It is Monday, 8 June 2009, two hundred years to the day since my miserable death, though I should add that while death was, indeed, miserable it was a swim in the sea compared with my life as it finally turned out. However, I have been dead for too long to want to harp on those wretched final years of my life—the assassination of my character, of my person, the unspeakable hypocrisy of it all, my freefall from grace and renown, the poverty, ill health, my seeking refuge in a bottle. But if there remains even one son or daughter of Liberty and Democracy in this present day—that is, the person to and for whom I write, as opposed to those who celebrate the cartoon Tom Paine, never thinking to read my works or to carry forth the struggle—then I should think that such a son or daughter of Liberty is unlikely to protest my assuming the privilege of penning this brief posthumous account. If not a single such person remains who is, in word and deed, committed to Liberty and Democracy—the only fit state for a human being who wishes to live as a whole person and who refuses to be infantilised—then rather than to assume the privilege, if there’s none worthy to grant it, I shall steal it back as rightfully my own.
I can quite quickly sum up what befell me and what has befallen countless other revolutionaries over the course of history; however, I do so not out of a desire or need to explain myself, but rather as a word of warning to those whom I consider my rightful progeny. My task is made easier by the fact that my rightful progeny, by the nature of the task which lies before them, shall already have apprised themselves of the historical accounts of revolutions, failed and successful, if in fact there has ever been an example of the latter. In brief, revolutionaries with integrity—those who hold, still, to the original stated aims of the revolution, the aims of Liberty and Democracy—are, at the point of the revolution’s failure (as opposed to the success touted in history books), quickly stripped of their honours, hollowed out, and hung safely out to die so that the ‘revolutionaries’ who were merely playing a part can usurp The Powers That Were to become those That Be. This perverted outcome must be avoided, and it shall not be avoided unless those who are in the struggle forever keep this near-inevitable outcome in mind, day in and day out, and for ever more, as the innumerable false actors lie constantly in wait.
My good friend Benjamin Franklin did his best to warn us. In response to being asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention, ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?’, Dr. Franklin said, simply, ‘A Republic, if you can keep it.’ A prescient warning, indeed. And it is clear even, or perhaps particularly so, in this post-Obamamania, post-Democratic-controlled-Congress present day that the Republic has been lost, for the Republic cannot coexist with an undermined Constitution. The Republic is dead when the State itself no longer abides by the rule of law, no matter what pseudo-legislation is ushered through Congress, usually unread, in an attempt to provide a cover of legitimacy which no one is fooled by, certainly not the politicians nor their corporate paymasters.
The situation is at least as bad in Britain—Closed Circuit TV capital of the world—but in both the U.S. and the UK, the rule of law, any protection against the State, has been wilfully obliterated under the false pretext of National Security, which rightfully understood covers anything which might threaten not the well-being of the people, the mock citizenry, but the powers of the State. And, so, blatant lies which have been proven to be lies have enabled myriad murderous and treasonous crimes to be committed by the State, including the supreme international crime of wars of aggression, the murder of one-million-plus innocent civilians, numerous political assassinations, international kidnappings, torture, widespread domestic surveillance, and other intrusions into our civil liberties. And those persons who repeatedly and blatantly lied to the public and who committed the crimes which followed from those lies stand not in prison but remain protected by the full powers of the State under the pretext of National Security.
Let me state now that revolutions never end, and that it is not a fixed state which we are shooting for but, rather, an asymptotic ideal which requires a never-ending commitment to process rather than an end, for the ideal end is hogwash if the process does not remain. Democracy—very far, indeed, from what nauseatingly passes for it today, as I write—cannot be institutionalised, it cannot be spoken of as an objective achieved, it cannot reside, ever, in the State, and it can never be brought to bear upon a people by a foreign occupier, the very idea of which is absurd and oxymoronic. Democracy and its sacred sister, Liberty, reside within the individual, and such an individual who is committed to protecting these innate ideals from those who would usurp them from without must pursue, always, an anti-authoritarian way of life, a mode of being, which requires that we be adults, not overgrown children.
We shall no longer look to the State as provider, as head of the family, or as Big Brother, but shall, instead, seek to govern ourselves, the very act of which shall nullify in an instant any presumed pretensions of the State as our benefactor. We shall act in our own best interests, for we have all witnessed everywhere around us what happens when the State purports to so provide—the law is used against us to empower and enrich the State and those within its favour, and we, the people, pay the price. We must also—if we are to become and remain free—disassemble the myriad mechanisms by way of which the rotten State derives and attempts to maintain its rotten powers, as opposed to the only legitimate source of government—that is, through the will of the people, fully realised.
Such mechanisms which must be abolished include, but are not limited to, the various agencies and machinations of the secret State, the State (and the corporate-State) media as its controlled propaganda arm—the primary means by which, in conjunction with the ‘education’ system, the mock citizenry is kept under heel, ignorant, and wholly uneducated irrespective of the attainment of virtually meaningless university degrees—the corrupted courts of justice, the torture centres, the criminalised military, and the militarised police forces which do far more to tyrannise than to protect the people.
For those who might wonder, still, whether they are free, whether this account seems too strong, too reactionary—as no doubt many in America, England and Europe thought my words too strong, too reactionary more than two centuries ago—then there exists a simple litmus test which tells us immediately whether we are, in fact, a free people or enslaved. If the majority finds itself in the demeaning position of having to ask the State, to beg of it, to plead with it, to protest against it, then we are no longer free, but in chains and fetters. This is true even when the State obliges us and fulfils our request, which it should be noted typically permits the transfer of power from us to the State, a dynamic which is unfortunately lost on so many, who think they’re getting something for nothing. But, if a majority of the people finds itself asking the State to serve it or to abide by the rule of law, and it either refuses outright or deliberates and finally fails to deliver, then we live not in a democracy but under the dictates of a despotic and authoritarian regime which has no rightful place amongst us but which has over the years, decades and centuries slowly stolen our Liberty because we ceded it, in exact measure.
If we are to live as adults rather than as children, each and every one of my rightful progeny must hold a truth within their innermost selves which must always be kept alive, for in dark times such as those presently upon us the flame of Liberty shall surely flicker, waver, and without a steady stream of fresh air, fresh energy and fresh commitment it shall die, first, within you, and then as surely as we ourselves are mortal, Liberty herself shall be frog-marched to her death. That aforementioned truth is this: The State is not and shall never be your friend, its intentions are not yours. You are its enemy.
In authoritarian regimes like the ones which I see have befallen all of you, the State, of course, spares no horses in co-opting the terms of Democracy, of Liberty, of Freedom, but those words have been drained of life, of meaning; worse, they’ve been inverted just as George Orwell prophesied—Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength. They’ve become, in short, tools of oppression which, while some of us might more readily accept the truth that these emptied-out concepts are being used to justify unjust wars against the peoples of lands outside our own—Iraq and Afghanistan come readily to mind; however, this is but the tip of the iceberg, for there’s nary a land beyond which the State and the State of its Ally-in-Arms is not overtly or covertly oppressing, tyrannising at this very moment—while there are, I know, quite a few of you who might more readily accept this truth, there are unfortunately many more of you who might find it more difficult to recognise that these same emptied-out concepts are being deployed against the State’s more foundational enemy—those of you who live within its borders.
Do you really think that those CCTV cameras which are multiplying more quickly than springtime bunnies are there to protect you? Do you think the War OF Terror is being fought to protect you? Do you think that the news which you watch, which you listen to, which you read, exists to inform you? Did the State protect you on 9/11, or did it, in fact, commit the crimes? Did the State protect you during the 7/7 London bombings, or did it, in fact, commit the crimes? Did the State prove to you beyond any reasonable doubt who actually perpetrated those acts? Were independent investigations forthcoming, or were they precluded and the facts buried by those guilty of or complicit in the crimes? Were the politicians readily forthcoming, or did they, too, seek to bury the facts? And were such facts buried in large part by the State’s media-propaganda-arm? With CCTV cameras ubiquitous in airports and Tube stations even in 2001-2005, there would be video footage which demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt who committed these inhuman crimes. But why have we not seen such critical footage? Why has it been kept from you—the public—the bedrock upon which any good government gains its legitimacy?
These are just a few of the many questions you must ask yourself, if you are to carry on the struggle which I gave my life and my creative energies to more than two centuries ago, and if you are to remain amongst my rightful progeny who desire Liberty and Democracy not only in word but in deed as well. I shall leave off with something I said a long time ago: ‘Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.’ And, lastly, a corollary quip from Henry David Thoreau: ‘That government is best which governs least.’ Is this, rightful progeny, what you have, here, in this moment?
* Transcribed by Sean M. Madden on 8 June 2009. Thomas Paine also transferred the copyright to Sean M. Madden, 2009.
Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809) was a British pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, inventor, intellectual, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He lived and worked in Britain until age 37, when he emigrated to the British American colonies, in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely-read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), advocating colonial America’s independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series.
Later, Paine greatly influenced the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), a guide to Enlightenment ideas. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. The Girondists regarded him as an ally, so, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy. In December of 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of The Age of Reason (1793–94), the book advocating deism and arguing against institutionalized religion, Christian doctrines, and promoted reason and freethinking, for which he would become derided in America.
In France, he also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.
Paine remained in France during the early Napoleonic era, but condemned Napoleon’s dictatorship, calling him “the completest charlatan that ever existed”. At President Jefferson’s invitation, in 1802 he returned to America.
Thomas Paine died at 59 Grove Street, Greenwich Village, New York City on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72. Alienated by his religious views, only six people attended his funeral. He was buried at what is now called the Thomas Paine Cottage in New Rochelle, New York, where he had lived after returning to America in 1802. His remains were later disinterred by an admirer, William Cobbett, who sought to return them to England and give him a heroic reburial on his native soil. The bones were, however, later lost and his final resting place today is unknown.
(Source: Wikipedia, “Thomas Paine” entry.)
Sean M. Madden is an American writer-educator living in East Sussex, England. His articles have been headlined by a wide range of online media outlets, including Information Clearing House, United Press International’s ReligionAndSpirituality.com, Guerrilla News Network, Online Journal, Atlantic Free Press, Scoop, OpEdNews.com, Thomas Paine’s Corner, Carolyn Baker’s popular website and the Populist Party of America’s website. Sean also edits and writes for his iNoodle.com and MindfulLivingGuide.com blogs, and welcomes correspondence from readers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected Ralph Nader's attempt to sue Democrats who he says conspired to keep him off the ballot in the 2004 presidential election.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia says Nader's 2007 suit was filed too late, beyond the statute of limitations.
The consumer advocate and 2004 independent presidential candidate had named as defendants the Democratic National Committee, Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign and the Democratic lawmaker himself. Nader supported his allegations with a series of newspapers articles that quoted Democratic officials saying they did not want a repeat of the 2000 election, when Nader drew votes that they believe would have gone to Al Gore and cost the Democrats the election.
Among other claims, the lawsuit alleged that the Democratic Party tried to bankrupt Nader's campaign by suing to keep him off the ballot in 18 states. It also says former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe offered to support Nader's campaign in some states if he'd drop his campaign in the battlegrounds.
McAuliffe was on the ballot Tuesday in the Virginia gubernatorial primary.
Nader received 463,653 votes in the 2004 election, or 0.38 percent of total votes cast. Kerry lost the election to President George W. Bush, who won a second term.
Nader said he filed the lawsuit to make sure other independent and third party candidates would not be subject to the same kind of conspiracy in the future.
Living HomelessFirst-hand stories of life on the street, in shelters, and out of the mainstream. International attention was focused on our local homeless population earlier this year when the Oprah Winfrey show profiled Sacramento's so-called "Tent City." Subsequent news reports tended to oversimplify area homelessness with short quotes and soundbites. But of course each person living without a home has a unique story to tell. This series was created to document and share some of those stories. Interviews were conducted and recorded by news director Joe Barr and senior producer Paul Conley on May 30th at a services and information fair called "Homeless Connect."
Tue Jun 9, 2009 — Rodney Frazier layed bricks for a living until an injury left him disabled and later homeless. He took custody of his 15-month old son Damarius in May. Zachary Scott is also disabled but has succeeded in putting his daughter Kishi through 5th grade.
Mon Jun 8, 2009 — During her two decades of living in various Sacramento homeless shelters and on the streets, 58-year old Shirley Cliff acquired the nickname "Moms." She says giving aid to others helps ease the pain of losing her husband.
Looking for great cultural and educational video? Then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we have compiled a list of 40 sites that feature intelligent videos. This list was produced with the help of our faithful readers, and it will grow over time. If you find it useful, please share it as widely as you can. And if we’re missing good sites, please list them in the comments below.
Academic Earth: Some call this “the Hulu for education.” The idea is to take academic videos from top-notch universities and let users watch them with a very user-friendly interface. Though a young site, many users are giving it high marks.
Arkive.org: The site gathers together “the very best films and photographs of the world’s species into one centralised digital library, to create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth.” A great site for naturalists and nature lovers.
Australian Screen Archive: The Australian National Film and Sound Archive provides free and worldwide access to over 1,000 film and television titles – a treasury of down-under video 100 years in the making.
BestOnlineDocumentaries: As one reader describes it, “This site is a bit out of date and some of the links are broken, but it’s still a great compilation of online documentaries.” For more documentaries, you should also see Snagfilms mentioned below.
BigThink: “Offers high quality video interviews and insight from the world’s most influential experts in business, entertainment, education, religion and media.” BigThink was founded partly with the help of Larry Summers, formerly the president of Harvard, now Obama’s right hand economic man.
Bloggingheads.TV: We had several readers highly recommend bloggingheads.tv. Here is how bloggingheads has been described elsewhere: “a political, world events, philosophy, and science video blog discussion site in which the participants take part in an active back and forth conversation via webcam which is then broadcast online to viewers.”
CultureCatch: CultureCatch.com has over 160 half-hour interviews with today’s seminal artists in film, theater, music and literature. Here you’ll find in-depth interviews with smart culture individuals dissecting art, comedy, fashion, film, music, politics, television, theater, even cooking.
Edge.org Video: Edge.org is run by John Brockman, literary agent to some of the most important science writers in the US and beyond. You’ll find videos featuring these thinkers on the Edge’s web site.
Europa Film Treasures: Thanks to Europa Film Treasures, you can spend hours looking back through an archive of European film. Theses films range from “comedy to science fiction, from westerns to animation, from erotic to ethnological movies.” Highly recommended by our readers.
Folkstreams: A collection of short films and mini-documentaries on American roots culture, including music, folkart and traditional customs.
Fora.TV: A large site that gathers video from live events, lectures, and debates taking place at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences.
Hulu’s News & Information Channel: Within this channel, you’ll find some intelligent programs. It includes documentaries and biographies, science programs, news, and more. In the past, we pulled together a list of high-quality feature films available on Hulu. Catch it here. And know that Hulu unfortunately limits this programming to a US audience — a policy that really needs to change.
Learner.org: Annenberg Media presents an impressive video collection that will appeal to lifelong learners and teachers. It includes a lot of high quality programming on American history, world literature and music, science and much more. Thanks Julie for the tip.
LinkTV: “Global and national news, uncompromising documentaries, diverse cultural programs, connecting you to the world.”
Living Room Candidate: Television ads have changed our political system, and this site maintains more than 300 commercials from every presidential election since 1952.
Long Now Seminars: Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation presents monthly talks that provide a counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. Theses talks given by prominent thinkers are hosted by FORA.TV.
MeaningofLife.TV: Sponsored by Slate, this site brings you “cosmic thinkers” on camera. Here, you’ll find talks by Karen Armstrong, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Pinker and others.
MITWorld: MIT World “hosts lots of inspiring talks by some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in town.” - Tony
Open Book TV: Open Book focuses on the writers and other storytellers living and working in a different spot on the planet each week.
PBS Video: Everyone knows that PBS regularly produces intelligent video. You can watch a good number of their original programs here.
PeoplesArchive: “Dedicated to collecting for posterity the stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time.”
Pop!Tech Pop!Casts Videos: Kind of like TED, Pop!Tech features “a community of remarkable people, and an ongoing conversation about science, technology and the future of ideas.” Scroll down to the find their videos.
Psychlectures.com: Reader says: “Although this website doesn’t host video, it brings together all sorts of media (including courses) on the topic of psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, for those interested.”
Research Channel: Based out of the University of Washington, the ResearchChannel brings together content from leading research and academic institutions (see member list here), and distributes it to consumers mostly through satellite and cable, but also via the web. iTunesU is a fairly new distribution channel. And even newer is YouTube. (See their channel here.) Get more info on The Research Channel here.
ScholarSpot: A new web site that promises a “free university.” Site is live in beta. Stay tuned for more.
SnagFilms: SnagFilms “finds the world’s most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers, and makes them available to a wide audience.” You can watch full-length documentary films for free. Currently includes over 550 films. And, as one reader notes, “The best part … is you can give back to the charitable foundations behind each one of the documentaries.”
Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: This online catalog “provides access to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. The Archive serves as a comprehensive informational and archival resource worldwide for moving image materials pertaining to the Holocaust and related aspects of World War II. ”
TED Talks: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. The talks largely come from the big annual TED conference. And, hands down, this site is the most frequently recommended by our readers.
UbuWeb: “A completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts.”
UChannel: Spearheaded by Princeton University, this video service presents talks on international/political affairs from academic institutions all over the world.
VideoLectures.Net: Based in Eastern Europe, this site provides free access to high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars from many fields of science.
WGBH Video Lectures: “The WGBH video collections brings together talks from the world’s leading scientists, educators, policymakers, artists, and authors. Some pieces come from PBS, NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Lowell Institute.”
YouTube hosts a number of intelligent properties worth giving your time to. Some key properties are:
YouTube Edu: Finally, YouTube gave us an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Now you can easily watch videos from hundreds of universities worldwide. Includes a large number of free courses. More info here.
@Google Talks: Some of the world’s leading thinkers and political players make a point of speaking at Google. You can catch them all here.
Intelligent Video Collections: Over time we have created a long list of the smarter video collections available on YouTube. It now features close to 100 video channels. Have a look and let us know what we’re missing.
Dozens of people are estimated to have been killed in clashes between police and indigenous activists protesting oil and mining projects in the northern Peruvian Amazonian province of Bagua. Peruvian authorities have declared a military curfew, and troops are patrolling towns in the Amazon jungle. Authorities say up to twenty-two policemen have been killed, and two remain missing. The indigenous community says at least forty people, including three children, were killed by the police this weekend.
[Thanks to the lovely and talented twitterer Suzy @blog4yourlife for this link]This website was created as both a memorial to the lifework of Dr. George Tiller and as a living testimony to the courageous lives of abortion providers.
Here you will find stories of individuals who have dedicated their lives to making abortion safe, legal, healthy, and accessible to women and girls. These people may be nurses, counselors, escorts, volunteers at abortion funds, or abortion doctors themselves. You will not see the faces of these providers to protect their safety. What you will see is the story they decide to share - how they came to abortion work, what their function is at their abortion clinic, or their personal abortion story. We want to humanize these individuals to convey the kindness, courtesy, justice, love, and respect they have for women and the health care choices women make. We share our stories in hopes of ending clinic violence, to alleviate the shame associated with the abortion experience, and as an homage to Dr. Tiller's outstanding and courageous life work.
[Thanks to Sam Seder for this link]So the problem with female judges is that their different experience in life leads them to be biased:
But the idea that women may inherently view the law differently on occasion is something that troubles even several female judges who believe it may be so.
Judge Judith S. Kaye, who was the chief judge of New York State for 16 years until her recent retirement, said she had long avoided engaging others on the question. “I struggled with it for the 25 years I served as a judge,” Judge Kaye said.
But she said she had ultimately come to terms with defending the idea that women judges will, at times, see things differently. “To defend the idea that women come out different on some cases, I just feel it,” Judge Kaye said.
“I feel it to the depths of my soul,” she added, because a woman’s experiences are “just different.”
Lawrence Robbins, a veteran litigator in Washington, disagreed, saying, “Any person in the real world should be highly reluctant to make these broad generalizations.”
While Mr. Robbins said it was indisputable that people brought different experiences to the bench, “the role of a judge requires that the person who holds that position recognizes those dispositions that come from personal experience and tries to surmount them.”
“Giving vent to the bias of one’s own experiences would lead to a wrong result, not a proper one,” Mr. Robbins said.
Again, what's interesting here is the notion that the way men see things is "normal" and that the way women see things is biased.
There's a perfect example later in the article:
Justice Steven G. Breyer was one of several on the court who suggested during oral argument that he was untroubled by the search. Justice Breyer said that when he was that age, boys stripped down to their underwear in the locker room and “people did stick things in my underwear,” a comment that produced hearty laughter from Justice Thomas. Justice Ginsburg seemed annoyed, saying that “it wasn’t just that they were stripped to their underwear,” explaining that Ms. Redding was made to stretch out her bra and underpants for two female school officials to look inside.
In terms of the commentary that came afterward, when Breyer noted that it wasn't any big deal to be strip searched because of the usual boys locker room experience, it wasn't worth noting, while Ginsberg's is seen as biased with hers. They both referenced their experiences, but Breyer's view, because he is in the majority, is the controlling view. And yet, in real life, over half of the population is actually represented by Ginsberg's view.Now, it's true that the court has no obligation to defer to the majority. Indeed, in many cases they are compelled to vote against it becaue the constitution protects the rights of the minority --- which makes this case all the more perverse. The large majority of males on the court look to their own (minority) experience as the experience of the majority to inform them of how this government intrusion is experienced. That's because the default experience is considered to be the male experience.This isn't new. Even medical science used to only study men to determine how diseases worked, despite the fact that women's bodies were quite obviously made differently. Greater funding was once always put into uniquely male diseases as opposed to uniquely female diseases and it took major lobbying and outside pressure to change that. Indeed, we still see this in the disparate insurance coverages for things like Viagra as opposed to female birth control. It's just that one would have thought that the courts would be a place where such biases would have been contemplated and dealt with before now.I realize that this is obvious stuff and is old news to most of you. But the article I cited above was in the New York Timesthis morning. And it's entire theme is that it's a problem that many women judges might rule differently than a man. Never once is it questioned whether it might be a problem that so many male judges might rule differently than a woman --- the assumption is that the male point of view is the impartial view, while the female view is biased. Why should it not be equally true that the female point of view is impartial while the male point of view is biased?Indeed, Sotomayor's whole point in the "wise Latina" speech may have been that the experience of a woman living in a society which presumes this male privilege by default might actually be less biased than those who never question it. And after all the commentary this past week in which this privilege and experience is completely taken for granted as the standard to which she must be compared, I think I agree with that. Clearly, most people (perhaps most women too) don't question the absurd notion that eight men on the Supreme Court ruling from their experience is a sign of their impartiality but that a woman ruling from hers isn't. If a judge has knowledge of that inherent, social bias it actually would make her see things in a fairer light than someone who doesn't.digby 6/04/2009
“Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women.”
“An average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman. Similarly, an average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman. Finally, an average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman.”
“Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days.”
And finally, “the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets.”
The numbers suggest that Twitter is not sticking that well. People sign up and then most leave. That’s too bad. But it doesn’t negate the fact that Twitter has been a very useful tool for Open Culture. As we’ve written here before, Twitter has put a human face on our audience and allowed us to get to know you much better. Meanwhile, we can’t say the same about Facebook (although we’re not knocking it.) What’s your experience with Twitter? (PS You can find us on Twitter @openculture).
The idea that the social media application Twitter might be a kind of training wheels for a new type of non-causal, ESP-like communication is a possibility that I’ve written about here on Reality Sandwich as well as on my own blog. In the time since I’ve started posting about it I’ve had many people contact me with their own stories of “Twitter telepathy” in which people they follow tweet about the exact same thing they were thinking about at the moment they were thinking it. Although it seems like magic, I think this phenomenon has a scientific basis that’s a result of more and more people integrating the same on-line data using parallel association processes.
I was therefore very excited to find out that Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK is conducting an experiment in collaboration with New Scientist magazine to prove whether Twitter can be an effective tool for remote viewing, which he describes as “the alleged ability to psychically identify a distant location.” The professor (who describes himself on his Twitter page as a psychologist, author and magician) admits to being skeptical about psychic ability, but cites the fact that the U.S. government has spent millions researching its possibility as a compelling reason to attempt to make it work using Twitter. Here’s his explanation of the experiment, which is being conducted this week:
"Well, at 3pm (UK time) each day, I will travel to a randomly selected location. Once there, I will send a Tweet, asking everyone to Tweet about their thoughts concerning the nature of the location. Thirty minutes later, I will send another Tweet linking to a website that will allow everyone to view photographs of five locations (the actual location and four decoys), think about the thoughts and images that came to them in the thirty minutes before, and vote on which of the five they believe to be the actual target location."
"If the majority of people select the correct target then the trial will count as a hit, otherwise it will count as a miss. There have been, and will be, trials at 3pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Three or more hits in four trials will be seen as supporting the existence of extrasensory perception."
I plan on participating in this experiment and encourage others to join in. As Richard points out, he needs thousands to participate in order for the data to be meaningful. All you have to do is follow richardwiseman on Twitter where he will post instructions and updates throughout the week. I’m hopeful that the results will encourage those who are interested in psychic communication to (re)consider the possibilities of using Twitter as an innovative tool for transforming the way we communicate—instead of merely thinking of it as one of the many “noisy” digital technologies competing for our time and attention.
If you are already on Twitter or just joining now, please be sure to follow RealitySandwich and Evolver.net for evolutionary updates and links.
George Tiller did not have to die. He was assassinated while in church in Wichita, Kan., on Sunday, targeted for legally performing abortions. His death might have been prevented simply through enforcement of existing laws. His alleged killer was seen vandalizing a Kansas City clinic, Aid for Women, both the week before and the day before the murder, putting glue into its door locks. The manager of that clinic, who calls himself “Jeff Pederson” to protect his identity, told me he called the FBI and local police both times, but the vandal, the alleged killer Scott Roeder, was not arrested. Pederson had Roeder’s first name and his license-plate number. He had images of him on the security video. He recognized him from previous protests.
Pederson said: “The clinic was closed on Memorial Day weekend. A worker tried to get in on Memorial Day but couldn’t. The locks were Super-Glued. I went to the videotape and I saw the same guy on the videotape who had done it in 2000.” Pederson called his contact at the FBI, agent Mark Colburn. “He [Colburn] said the videotape wouldn’t be clear enough, and since I had touched the locks, I had ruined it with my DNA. So I bought new color video cameras.”
On Saturday, May 30, the clinic manager said “Scott” struck again: “My head nurse calls me, 5:40 Saturday morning. She had come to prep for the patients. When she was coming back from the store she noticed the Taurus [Roeder’s car]. She made her way to the back door. She saw him. He saw her and bolted. She followed him to his car and started talking to him.
“He tried to stand in front of the license plate, but she got it, 225 BAB. As she ran back to the clinic, he shouted ‘Baby killer!’ at her.”
Pederson called Colburn, reporting the second vandalism and letting him know he had better video. Pederson said Colburn told him, “The Johnson County prosecutor won’t do anything until the grand jury convenes.” The next day, Tiller was murdered, allegedly by Roeder.
I called the Kansas City FBI and reached Colburn. He immediately referred me to FBI spokesperson Bridget Patton. I asked her about the incidents at the clinic and why the suspect hadn’t been arrested either time. She said: “I am not sure of the timeline, but whenever an act of vandalism occurs at an abortion clinic, we are notified of that vandalism and respond appropriately.”
Tiller’s medical practice, which included performing late-term abortions, drew rage, protests and attacks during the decades of his career. His clinic was bombed in the mid-1980s. He survived an assassination attempt in 1993, when he suffered gunshot wounds to each of his arms. Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel demonized him as “Tiller the Baby Killer.” He was the target of a political prosecution by a former Kansas attorney general, Phill Kline, and was acquitted just months ago on misdemeanor charges that he violated state rules on providing abortions.
Roeder was picked up shortly after the shooting Sunday in his Ford Taurus. On Tuesday, he was charged with first-degree murder.
I asked Pederson if he thought Tiller’s murder could have been prevented if the authorities had simply arrested Roeder after he vandalized the Kansas City clinic. Pederson paused. “I don’t know,” he said.
But Dr. Susan Robinson was adamant. She flies to Wichita every month to perform abortions in Tiller’s clinic. She said, “It is generally regarded amongst those who do clinic security, if local authorities are not responsive, if they don’t show up or they don’t vigilantly enforce the law, that it encourages the anti-abortion people to push it further and further.”
She said: “In Wichita, Dr. Tiller was constantly dealing with the same lack of enforcement. Wichita prohibits placing signs on city property. But they allow the anti-abortion protesters to set up dozens of crosses and leave them all day. Dr. Tiller went to the city attorney over the crosses, and complained that people block the clinic driveway. He told me that the city attorney said, ‘I would rather be sued by George Tiller than the anti-abortion folks.’ ”
The 1994 federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) makes it a crime to block or damage a reproductive health service facility.
Enforcing FACE saves lives. George Tiller will be buried on Saturday.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times,” recently released in paperback.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is accusing the CIA of involvement in an alleged attempt on his life. Chavez canceled a planned trip to El Salvador this week to attend Monday’s inauguration of the new president Mauricio Funes. On Tuesday, Chavez said he had abandoned the trip after learning of an assassination attempt planned by the CIA and the Cuban militant and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “Yes, I am accusing Luis Posada Carriles. President Obama, I demand justice, that the full extent of the law be applied. Send us, President Obama, that terrorist, because here, we are preparing to send him to where he belongs: in prison. He is a murderer, a war criminal, and it was him that put the bomb on another plane of Cubana Air.”
Posada is wanted in Cuba and Venezuela for a 1976 airliner bombing that killed seventy-three people, but the US has refused calls for his extradition.
June 2nd, 2009On June 1, Ralph Nader filed his brief on the merits in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, on the issue of whether he should have been assessed $81,102.19 (plus interest) to pay for the costs of the procedure that removed him from the 2004 Pennsylvania ballot. Here is the brief. The brief itself is 26 pages. The case is still called In re Nomination Paper of Nader, 94 MAP 2008. The appendices include the opinion of the Commonwealth Court that refused to reconsider the issue, and all the evidence that had been submitted to the Commonwealth Court.The brief is very strong and speaks for itself.
From time to time, events unfold that are so large in scope, so all-encompassing in their implications that one’s initial response is muted by an inability to categorize it all within the realm of experience. Previous reference points prove of little service. One’s image of oneself and one’s place in the world is under seize, perhaps even in danger of being torn away. One stare’s into the abyss, until the abyss removes its dark shades and makes direct eye contact. The mind buzzes; one’s thoughts scuttle in circles like stunned insects.
On a collective basis, we as a nation are living through such a time. At present, we are witnessing the descending spiral of Icarusian Capitalism; our sacred delusion of the perpetual ascendancy of a god-like market place lies broken in the dust. Malls and Mcmansions stand abandoned, desolate as the edifices of forgotten gods, as the come-ons of the salesmen of deregulated capitalism are churned to spittle amid a cacophony of collapsing market platitudes.
And not an uptick in public optimism, nor a surge of euphoria on Wall Street, nor the “invisible hand of the marketplace” sprinkling pixie dust will bring back the Olympian days of 2005, when the wise men of Washington and Wall Street knew the force of gravity was just a myth believed in by those embittered prophets of doom whose only joy in life is fantasizing the fall of their wealthy betters. It does not matter a damn how many dollars our present day believers of neoliberal tall tales, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner, pour into the hole in the ground where the crash occurred, a bean stalk, twining skyward towards a golden, debt-negating goose, will not flower forth.
Fortunately, when false convictions fall, it is possible for a leveling of sanity to prevail. But there can be no more hubristic flights borne on waxen wings. No more multibillion dollar confidence scams from Wall Street. No more smash and grab imperial wars. No more tea parties for the dim and deranged. There is the banality of evil, and then there is the evil of banality. Both, the present era has produced in abundance. From about the late nineteen-seventies to the present, The United States all but ceased manufacturing products and went into the business of manufacturing marketplace hype, baseless fears, and illusionary enemies. Due to this economic and cultural derangement, a dark tower of self-imprisoning delusions has circumscribed our nation’s fate. Is it any wonder the quintessential dark lord of the darkest tower, Dick Cheney, will not exit the scene?
And what will foster real change? Not pleasing sound bites and rousing oratory from President Obama, then a continuance of many of the pernicious policies of his criminal predecessors. Conversely, the iron gates of Hell must crash closed behind us. The absence of light must grow so unbearable to us that we’re willing to ask how is it we arrived in this place and become willing to challenge our most cherished concepts about ourselves and our place in the scheme of things. That is the sort of “indefinite detention” the nation could use. What is needed is the audacity of hopelessness.
President Obama and the Democratic Congress could have ridden a wave of public discontent towards meaningful reform, but instead they have hugged the shore. And they seem to be surveying the property, scouting locations to build beach house retreats for their elitist benefactors and the militarist fantasists whose tsunami-sized arrogance wrought the present destruction in the first place.
Meanwhile, right-wing radio haters, like penned dogs, bark into the empty air of their meaningless day. Daily, we negotiate our way through the encompassing banalities and casual brutalities of soft oligarchy, as beneath it all churns the nebulous rage of the powerless that creates an audience for the likes of Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh.
It is high season for those virtuosos of displaced anger, because not only the nation’s treasure, but its élan vital, has been squandered inflating the bubble-borne vanities of the ultra-wealthy up to the point of economic immolation.. The elite have perpetrated an act of catastrophic clownishness so massive that it has left the rest of us stunned, and left to pick amid the debris of our exploded hopes. Bur hopes do not die pretty. Once dead, they do not rise like the redeemer gods of myth; instead, they stagger about, rotting and snarling like B-movie mummies. They leave us with our mouths tasting of ash. Our hearts choked by dry thistle.
Yet the buffoons of Wall Street and the killer clowns of our militarized Disneyland strut and swagger past the smoking ruins they left behind after their high-end looting spree. In their plundering, the only thing they didn’t steal for themselves was any sense of self-awareness. Or is self-awareness necessary when you’re obscenely rewarded for your narcissistic follies? What motivation would a high-chair tyrant have to modify his self-centeredness when he is shielded from the consequences of his bratty machinations? Why become an honest actor in the realm of human events when one can strut through life with a con artist’s inexplicable sense of entitlement?
And what about the rest of us? The financial elite, by means of their bagman in the Executive Branch and Congress, continue to plunder our hopes for a meaningful future byway of that legal larceny popularly known as the bailout, i.e., the latest transfer of wealth from the bottom upward. This is why the buffoonish tea-bagger types hoard their resentments. All they’ve been left with is a heap of fragmented hatreds. Those toxic baubles they shore against reality.
Tragically, when not addressed, fear and resentment will increase in intensity and can become an exponentially growing feedback loop of paranoid rage. At present, such a process has created that haunted forest of the airwaves known as right-wing talk radio. It is the voice of anger feeding off of itself, and it seems dangerously close to reaching the point of hypertrophic breakdown. It is the audio analog of a belief system in exponential decay … The more the rot increases in the system the more Glen Beck babbles and weeps. It is physically manifested in the cataclysmic ecosystem of Rush Limbaugh’s repulsive bulk … his corpulent carcass is the morbid bloat of unregulated capitalism.
Right-wing hatred is a many headed hydra that feeds on fear and desperation. It cannot be fought by attacking its spindling heads, each of its hissing mouths dripping with black poison. Instead, one must make thrusts at the noxious heart of the raging beast. But one cannot know where the heart of an external monster beats without suffering the agonies of one’s own. Accordingly, one must allow one’s heart to be broken. And don’t look to Barack Obama’s bland charm to mend it. Because the honest grief of the heart provides a point of reference, a foundation of knowledge, as to why the monster is inconsolable in its wounded fury; hence, this provides a strategic starting point as to how to fight it.
And that is why we must release the photographs of torture. Moreover, we must bring public ignominy upon the respectable psychopaths in high places who mandated these policies, plus bring a leveling of shame upon the high-flying, highchair tyrants of high finance who exploded the global economy. Our ugliness must be public like a frog. The nasty secrets must be revealed; the mortifying pictures gazed upon. Our stomachs should seize up in revulsion. The ordeal must exact such a degree of revulsion within us that we will never again allow these despicable practices to transpire on our watch.
There is a stench of putrefaction rising from beneath our feet. We must uncover the corpses laid under by empire. Being placated by Barrack Obama’s bland charm — in the same manner we were cowed by George W. Bush’s infantile petulance, amused by Bill Clinton’s brilliant, bad boy seductions, and drugged by Ronald Reagan’s stupefying 1940’s Hollywood bromides — will only defer the reckoning and render us ignorant stooges in the impersonal sweep of history. As a people, we have a choice: We can be strengthened by embracing uncomfortable truths, or we can grow enervated and enfeebled by pushing them away.
But sadly, Obama is attempting the tried and tested political trick — used effectively by Washington hacks from Watergate (”Our long national nightmare is over”) to Iran-Contra (”We cannot have another failed presidency”) — of inducing the uniquely American trait of Instant Amnesia that has, in the past, allowed the empire to stagger on, repeatedly committing variations of the same crimes, then coddling and protecting the same variety of corrupt elitists responsible, and thereby, reducing the Constitution to tatters and rendering the rule of law rubble.
But this time, the rot is too deep, the pathology too systemic. Obama’s placebo presidency will not stem the hypertrophic decay. Granted, it was good to evict the previous, psychotic tenants from the property (Although Dick Cheney seems to be stalking the place with his obsessive, media drive-bys.) but that does nothing to repair the collapsing foundation of the structure, its core eaten away by an infestation of anti-democratic termites. Rather than addressing the core issue, the deterioration of the rights and liberties granted by the U.S. Constitution, President Obama is wallpapering over the rot wrought by the national security state’s termite hive mind of authoritarian appetites, that has been, silently, and hidden by darkness, gnawing the house of state to sawdust.
Again our choice: Either open up the decay within the system to the light of day and start the process of rebuilding and renewal, or allow the republic-ravening pestilence to continue unchallenged, hence unabated, and let the nation go bughouse crazy as the house comes down around us to the strains of the insect-brain stridulations of Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: email@example.com
For what it is worth - five suggestions for President Obama:
1. Noble Prize laureates Joseph Stigletz and Paul Krugman should be in charge of reforming the nations banking system and stimulating the economy through a new system of government owned banks in consort with whichever private banks prove themselves able to survive ethically and in honest practicality serve their stockholders by being beneficial for the public. A Treasury Secretary Joe Stigletz would stun the international community into confidence in the U.S., though many heretofore wealthy financial power brokers who would see their influence decline.
2. America’s leading intellectual, Noam Chomsky, should be the President’s Foreign and Domestic Affairs advisor to bring morality, intelligence and compassion to U.S. foreign and domestic policies, really protect America, lead the rescue of ‘the other half “ of humanity from exploitation and protect the planet from degradation. The military-industrial-complex stock would plummet. Its now nearly omnipotent lobbyists would have would have little say.
3. Ralph Nader, the most knowledgeable, experienced and trusted activist scholar on government relations with corporations and business, should have a cabinet post to regulate health and vigor back into industrial production and commerce. His methods would surely feature public transparency and accountability, a human resource stimulating interest in working conditions, community empowerment, consumer input recognition, care for the future condition of our environment, and restoring the original purposes of accreditation of corporations by non-corruptible agencies of state governments with mutual benefit and as motive and prerequisite to incorporation.
4. People's Historian Howard Zinn, as Secretary of Cultural Affairs, Health and Welfare would know what to propose to protect us from rank misuse of publicly owned broadcast frequencies unfairly leased in collusion to a cartel of conglomerate operated media, desperate for profit, programming antisocial fascination with violence, intent on commodifying a captive national audience, psyched, hyped and coerced through frantic advertising promoting and inculcating a creed of self-centered indulgence and material over-consumption at the expense of personal mental health, natural behavior and happiness, social stability, and full enjoyment and an appreciation of the precious uniqueness of each individual and of the special cultural contribution and charm of each of America’s ethic groups. In place of such a destructive, overly commercialized money oriented selling enticements to cheapening life itself, Zinn would lead us in discovering how we could create electronic and print media noble in character, democratic in choice and responding to the public's healthiest desires for enjoyment, information, entertainment, education and edification.
5. Since business and finance cannot operate progressively in a war economy, for a new and real Secretary of Defense, not War, Obama needs someone who would not be afraid to talk to those who have known America, as an enemy, overthrowing democracy, invading or threatening to invade. A Secretary of Defense, who could implement the diplomacy that candidate Obama promised.
Best choice would be that tough talking, fearless in denouncing injustice, (especially our own), and commanding the respect from even from those most dedicated to destroying America who have heard his impassioned and sincere, “God damn America for its crimes!” - yes, Obama’s minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
At Wright’s installation ceremony, Obama would probably want to take back his quickly raised hand indicating a definite yes to Wolf Blitzer’s debate question, "Would you give the go ahead to a strike to take out a terrorist leader, if you knew there would be civilian casualties?”
How could a preacher in the mold of Martin Luther King Jr., head up our armed forces trained and ready to kill? Easily, and with predicable success. He would have us lower all our worldwide positioned guns, ground our drones and manned bombers, apologize for the people we did in with these mortally high-tech guns in the past, outline our intentions not to interfere in other nations' internal affairs, offer to make amends as much as we can, and watch all those smaller than ours guns pointed back at us lower themselves. Actually, America has more carrots than sticks, anyway.
The only persons who would ever have been natural to choose over Rev. Jeremiah are MLKjr, himself and Albert Einstein, who would have “preferred to be torn to pieces rather than participate in war.”
That’s it! With such a array of humane and educated brain power working for him, Obama could have the time and the clarity to focus on explaining how “government for the people” can more effectively be “government of the people,” and through heightened citizen interest in participation, become increasingly and democratically “government by the people."
None of the above dream team is going to be taken under consideration, let alone have a chance to be installed, however, talking about it, while heard and seen by a wide audience would help us see similar team reality in a less distant future than otherwise.
Right now, Obama leadership is a phantom. Obama leadership is an illusion, especially when if comes to economic decisions.
Obama is a medium the rulers of America use, much in the same they use their conglomerate owed media.
As advertised, promoted and sold by commercial media we see, hear and read of an apparition of presidential guidance as Obama dutifully goes through the motions appointing, proposing, and signing congressional bills and executive orders with only relatively inconsequential control over the fundamental policies of his administration
The ruling elite uses corporate mass-media, which they own and control to circulate selected and restricted economic and political information along with disinformation, misinformation, blackouts of pertinent historical context, and slanted opinion in straw horse knock down debates between neo-liberal capitalists and proto-fascist extreme militant corporate imperialists presented as discussions between the left and conservatives to fool the public into continuing to accept their rule and their rulers' prerogatives intact.
Obama’s work is to make our real rulers’ decisions to be seen as his own, by his personal judgment and discernment of what is at stake, so that the citizenry can believe it has its own leader above the murky workings of difficult to perceive forces that rock our boat and shake the world.
We are not privy to the machinations hidden from public scrutiny, how what type and form of pressures are used or simple gentlemen’s understandings that underlie pronouncements and actions that make up each undertaking of recent presidents in their performance as chief executive of the nation.
And to round out the description of our national corporate governance, presently led by the industrial-military-banking complex, the third illusion, apparition or phantom, is the concept and belief that the Congress is capable of independent function free of the grip of a wealthy coterie of America’s ruling elite.
A coterie that on most key issues would find David Rockefeller expected to be a key personage in deciding which direction national policy will be taking.
The above has been offered by the administrator and co-founder of the OEN discussion group Capitalism - a Threat to Life on Earth.